Friday, February 29, 2008

An Extra Day, People

So. What are you going to do today? It's Friday, no big surprise there. But as you all know, it's the 29th and we have an extra 24 hours of time today.

I'm looking at it as a way to get some things done and start one new thing.

Today I am:

doing some PTA work that will take a while (-3 hours)
Cleaning the laundry room (-1 hour)
Taking my first yoga class in nine years (-1 hour)
Making some calls that have sat on my to-do list (-2 hours)
Taking the kids on a hike (-2 hours)
Balancing the checkbook and doing some more financial work (-1 hour)
Catching up on some writing projects (-2 hours)

That's twelve "extra" hours - and that's how I'm looking at today. A day to reflect, a day to get things accomplished, and a day to set the pace for Spring, which is just around the corner.

Happy Leap Day - what will you do?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Smile! You're Being Insulted!

Last night I was driving back from a meeting I attended with Bob. It was one of those great meetings where, even though they are asking you for money, you leave feeling like you want to give as much as you can. It's for the new school for our kids and the future kids in our town, so we're pretty excited about it.

Before the meeting I took a little extra special care in getting ready. It was kind of like a date - Bob and I would get to have dinner out without the kids - and so I wanted to take advantage. Instead of my all black attire, which is an easy fallback for me this time of year, I wore a pink camisole underneath a nubby sweater/blazer that had greens and pale blues in it. My enormous cheek zit, thanks to a poultice of Windex, Visine and other salves recommended last week, had faded to a smooth red spot, easily concealed with a little powder.

The meeting was uplifting and inspirational, and I left daydreaming about the new school campus for my children in just a few short years.

I called my close friend, another mom at the school, on my drive home to let her know how great the meeting was when a caller beeped in. "Oh, my. It's _________." It was a woman we both know. That's all I can say about that on this blog, along with the fact that we both rarely speak to this particular woman, though when we do, it is with a distant and civil courtesy. The story behind this is huge, but unfortunately, I can't go into it since other parents at the school may read this blog. And though I'm pretty sure they do not know this woman, you just never know.

"Hello?" (I said this even though my caller ID told me who she was)

"Hi, Jen. It was great to see you at the meeting tonight."

"Oh. Okay. It was great to see you, too." Before I could ask her why she was calling, she continued.

"Like I said, it was really great to see you. But I had to call you and ask you something. You looked really tired tonight. Are you alright?"

Without thinking, I laughed. Here this woman never calls me, rarely talks to me, and then she phones to tell me I looked tired?! So after I finished laughing I told her that no, I wasn't tired, I was still a little hung over from a party, but certainly not tired. She laughed, too, albeit a little nervously, and then said how great it was to talk to me and hung up.

What if I had just said that I wasn't tired? What would she have said, I wonder? Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I thought that entire call was bullshit. Who calls and says that to someone they barely know? Ugh....sometimes I really wonder about women...and I say this because I can't think of an instance where a guy would do this to another guy.

Next time I see her I just know I'll be silently ticking off all the things I would like to ask her...though I'll smile and nod and keep walking.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Six Martini Hangover

That sounds problematic, doesn't it? Saturday night I attended a Manicures and Martinis party.

My girls came along, as they were the responsible ones for the evening, and were being paid to watch the children of all the martini soaked mothers at the party.

We had made plans to stay the night, which turned out to be my downfall. When you don't have a time you need to be home and you know you can be irresponsible and you spend your waking hours during the workweek being the most responsible person in your home? Well. It turned out to be one hell of a party.

Imagine a dozen friends, a bartender who mixed tasty but wisely measured drinks, manis and pedis for all, and all the hooting and hollering that oh, ten hours, of bonding will get you. The slumber party? I don't care if you're sixteen or thirty-six or a hundred. We really need one at least once a year.

The funny (or sad) thing was, the children were the most well-behaved people in the home all night. We saw them once, when my girls led them downstairs sometime before midnight to give us a fashion show. They had dressed up the little girls, given them their own manicures, and had them strut down the runway to the iPod teddy bear speakers blasting Supermodel." We screamed and whistled and cheered them on, and they all looked at us like we were wayyy out of control and quietly went upstairs to continue their evening.

Now it's Monday morning. I did nothing yesterday. No work, no writing, no attention to deadlines. I sat on the couch and drank green tea and complained of malaise. Even this morning the girls have been up already for some time. As I stumbled downstairs I was met by Maddie, a steaming cup of coffee, and the instructions that we were out of fresh fruit for lunches.

I'm not looking forward to day two of a headache and all the catching up I have, but I'm rather loving this peek into the world as "Mother with Responsible Children."

I should party more often. Happy Monday - I am going to go gnaw my way into an ibuprofen bottle.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Super Bug Walmart

I was just tipped off that Walmart is considering expanding its chains that contain instore health clinics.

"Billy? You say you have diarreah and flu symptoms? Well, let's go finger some more produce, you can sneeze on a bin of Granny Smith's and then we'll head down to aisle fourteen and see a doctor.

Something seems so very, very wrong about shopping for food under the same roof as urine specimens and phlegm-filled patients.

As if I needed another reason to vote for a candidate who supports health care reform. Come on, Hillary! You can do it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The WrinkleWrexic Commits a Venial Sin

Forgive me. I knew it was wrong, yet I did it anyway. Over and over and over again. And you know what? I would probably do it again because if I were being totally honest here, I would tell you a part of me enjoyed it.

I have an enormous, behemouth, eraser-sized pimple on my cheek. There is no where for it to hide. The rest of my skin is taunting me, looking fresh and dewey. So what have I done? I have popped it. Several times. I've picked and poked and touched it and I know the cardinal rule of blemishes is to leave them the hell alone.

So now I am about to leave to take the kids to school and meet my workout buddy at the gym looking like I have been burned with a firebrand on my cheek. It's disgusting.

Help!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Tired Moms

"I want you in your room right. Now."

"Ugh! You don't love me!"

"Oh, yes, I love you very, very much. But right now, I'm not liking you a whole lot. But make no mistake about it, I love you. In fact, no matter how hideously you behave, if you were rolling your eyes at me on a train track and you were about to be run over, I would still push you out of the way. Even as the train rolled over me, crushing my body against the rails, I would still love you and be glad that it was me and not you. But I would be really bitter about it."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Perfect Madness - Soccer Style

Today I had a few errands to run in town, so after the Sunday morning routine I packed up the car and took off. I needed to mail bills, run Jacob's soccer registration over to the local sporting good's store, and hit the bookstore for some writing time (which is where I sit now, a cup of black coffee steaming next to me and a hot sandwhich lying it's pretty little cheesey head off to me and telling me it's only a few Weight Watcher's points as opposed to the ten or twelve I suspect the traitor to be).

I was on the phone with Sarah when I neared the sporting goods store for the soccer registration. We are newbies as a soccer family, and Jacob has only done micro-soccer once before. It was in the fall, and we registered by phone. To say we're not aggressive with the sports indoctrination at our home would be a huge understatement. We don't start kicking/throwing/catching balls when the kids are crawling. We play with the kids, but it's more in the form of the sporadic bout of freeze tag out back, or a family hike, or a race throught the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner before we all collapse from low blood sugar. I loathe the sound of professional sports on television, and I've been known to get overly irritated when Bob uses a sport's metaphor (Jen, we went in to shake some fruit from the trees, threw the long bomb/hail Mary/full court pass and we scored).

As I neared the parking lot, I slowed down. "Sarah, I'm gonna have to go. The parking lot is completely packed, and people are parking across the street. This is crazy - what, are they having a huge sale or something?" As I said this, I saw that the people streaming in were, in fact, holding the same canary yellow registration forms that I had with me, my check for the playing fee neatly paperclipped to the top. These were other soccer parents. And from the looks of it, there was a run on the bank and they were literally shoving to get into the store. Right before I hung up with Sarah the blaring of a horn cut us off - people were vying for good spaces so they could rush in with their kids. I actually saw a car without the proper tags pull into the handicapped space and a frazzled looking mom leap out, crumpled form in hand. I described the frenzied scene to Sarah, who advised me to just turn around and leave. "He's not even six, Jen. Just do it next year."

I almost heeded her advice. But this semester I have pulled Chloe and Maddie from their usual litany of afterschool activities so that we might take a moment to catch our breath. I am all for kids having extracurricular activities - in fact, the older they get, the more important I believe they become. If you're a busy teenager, maybe you won't have as much time to get knocked up, on drugs, or shoplift. But my kids are still young. And I want them to learn to enjoy an afternoon after school without feeling like they're being hurdled out of a cannon to their varying activities. And, it's saving me a ton of money. Maybe they'll daydream a little more, ride their bikes after homework, and read some of the great books they have.

Meanwhile, Jacob has endured being dragged to the dance/gymnastics/ice-skating/horse riding festival for his sisters, and I wanted to infuse some more testosterone in our routine. So I decided to sign him up for soccer again. He loved it, it's cheap, and I can't wait to spend some time outside this Spring.

But I wasn't prepared for this. The parents, the competition, the caring so much. Do any of these people believe their kids are going to play professional soccer someday? Most likely, only a couple will even play in college - so why the hysteria?

I stood in line with parents dragging whiney children. I listened to moms complain about how they didn't have the time to take their Sunday yoga class with Ken because of the game schedules...not to mention the game/practice schedules for the child's other activities, plus the same for any other siblings. I listened to moms bitterly recount their involvement in their children's school and how they battled their husbands to not add soccer to the list this spring. "Well, I lost that one. So look who's here, in line, while he stays at home and watches t.v." is what I overheard.

I listened to moms (and joined in for this one) talk about how strapped they were financially after paying the fees and costs associated with all of these activities. I told the group around me that I had my girls doing nothing but school this semester.

It was met with initial silence.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing. But they go to a great school, and get to do things like ski, go to California, and participate in plays. So it's not like they'll be bored. Although nothing is wrong with a little boredom, I guess. Stimulates the imagination, you know?"

They didn't. They asked me how old the girls were. They cautioned me that if they resumed dance, they would be placed at lower levels next year.

Hmmm. So what? Do I think that my kids are going to be professional dancers, sports players, musicians, or equestrians? Probably not. None of my kids are prodigies. They're all bright, to varying degrees, but none of them are likely to even score an academic scholarship with the competition out there. So why should I kill myself? And them?

A dad I know in town, a doctor, said something recently at an event with such wistfulness it really stayed with me. He said when he was a kid, he went to school then went home. Period. He had friends, he played, and he enjoyed his childhood. Now, he has a large family and all of his children are in hours and hours of activities each week. They hire nannies to help with all the driving.

It got me thinking. I hope it does for you, too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bliss

Last night my husband came home from work. Dishes overflowed in the sink, the kids were running all over the place, and the dog had just shed enough hair on my wood floors for me to knit a sweater with.

Go, he whispered in my ear. Get out of here now while you still can. Go to the gym. Read a book. Take a sauna. Let me force vegetables on the children and beat them into submission so that they might clean your house. He gently kissed my cheek. Now run!

And so I did. I went to the gym (a snowstorm earlier in the day had kept me away). I ellipticalled. I read a book. I showered. I saunaed. I showered and saunaed again. I lingered. I had some fresh juice.

And then I came home. The children were in bed. The house was spotless. The lights were low and Billie Holiday played while my husband poured champagne.

All the late nights, the harried days, the tax stress - everything - gone.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Can We Wait Until You Can Read to Discuss Sex?

I've been busy. Really busy. Sorry about the spotty posting and blog reading. I will catch up this weekend, and my life should level out a little bit.

Today, while jumping in the driver's seat, I heard this from the backseat:

Twelve year old: "Tell Mom what you just asked me."

Five year old: "Mom, what's 'having sex?'

"What???!!"

"I said, what's 'having sex?'"

"Where on earth did you hear this, Jacob [meaningfully glaring at older children]??"

"From you."

"What?! When?"

"When you couldn't find your cell phone. You said, 'oh for havin' sex.'"

"Heh heh. Sweetie. Yes I did. I said OH FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Religious Tolerance

"Mom, when I'm a freshman can I go to the prom if I get asked?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Ask your father what senior boys want. That's why."

"What about when I'm a sophomore?"

"No."

*sigh*

"Well, what if he's Mormon?"

"Yes."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Madonna Lives

Last night, on the way to our friend's house for dinner, Madonna's old song Holiday, came on the radio. As I warbled the song from my own days as an angst-ridden teenager, Chloe looked over at me.

"Mom? Is that Madonna singing?"

"Yep! She was even cool when your old mom was about your age."

*pause*

"Is she dead?"

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Light at the end of the Tunnel - our Future or Just a Hoax?

One of the things that gets me through the day sometimes, I mean really and truly keeps me sane are the conversations I have with my girfriends.

Without other mothers to understand, women who don't think a moment of the shrieking sounds eminating from the toddler glued to your leg, or the caucophony of noise that makes up any background ambience when talking during the after school hours, I would lose it.

These women show me that I am not alone, that I am doing a fine job- - in fact their son/daughter also ate/cooked/lost/glued the family dog/sibling/homework/boyfriend and now their son/daughter is going to a great college and goes to church regularly. And that the police investigation/medical procedure/academic transcript really hasn't affected who they are all these years later. My friends are there where I have already walked, some are ahead of me on the parenting path, and all of them are part of a mutual sounding board that prevents me and them from running away/faking our death/selling a child on eBay at any
given time.

One friend in particular shares a fantasy with me. We daydream about the day when our last child is out of the house, graduated from college, and safely ensconsed in some semblance of career/nurturing relationship. We figure we'll be somewhere in our early to mid seventies.

Then, then the fun begins. This is when we both plan on taking up smoking, tanning, and drinking (more than we already do). My personal goal is to wear nothing but a turquoise bathing suit, carry a cigarette holder and a flask, and park it on some jeweled beach. Screw the consequences. How long does liver disease/lung cancer take anyway?

But then a terrible and dark thought entered our conversation the other day. Something I can't shake. Like a bad dream, my friend (okay, it was Sarah) said to me, "What if one of them has a baby and gives it to us like a puppy to raise while they finish school or growing up or whatever? We'll be eating our senior discount dinners, talking on the phone, and we'll still be saying things like, 'hold on - I have to change a diaper here.'"

I am currently working on my invention, Ortho-Novum Frosted Flakes. I am recommending that we make them a mandatory part of any child's breakfast (even the boys - it may quell some urges).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

WWKD Part II



Welcome to the long-awaited (by my cousin and my best friend. Or at least my best friend) second chapter in my not-so on-going series, What Would Kelly Do?


Kelly Rippa kills me with her ability to keep herself so beautiful, work more than a full-time job, maintain a long-term marriage in a profession where two years is the "new" Golden Anniversary, and do all of this while a mother to three young kids. Amazing, ladies and gentleman (or do I have two male readers?) So when I am in times of crisis, I have to ask myself What Would Kelly Do?

Recently I received an email from one of my few single friends. She's independent, educated, beautiful, and struck out away from friends and family to pursue the career of her dreams. She's my hero. As she described to me the latest in her on-again off-again saga with a man she dates, she asked me, "Should women be the ones to call the guys?"

My dear friend. Reader and cousin: In this, the two-thousandth and eighth year after our lord's death, I tell you nay.

After all, What Would Kelly Do? For those of you who follow her host chat, as I did faithfully until my fourth child was born and then parenting events prevented me from my morning cup of coffee and Rippa, I hung on her every word.

Kelly has never, ever EVER called a man. Gird your loins, because I am about to tell you she hasn't even ever returned a telephone call to her own husband. Now that's playing hard to get. Apparently, this drives her husband nuts, but she maintains her truth and authenticity and only phones her estrogen laden comrades. The men have to be the ones to reach her.

Genius.
Yesterday, while driving my kids home from school, the five of us packed like sardines in my battered Volvo, I drove over a pothole. A big one, probably caused by yet another snow plow.

As my tire popped and the car tilted to the right, my rim dangerously close to warping as I considered my options, I thought, What Would Kelly Do?

I can tell you that Kelly wouldn't drive on the rim of her flat tire to the hospital where her husband works and march upstairs to her husband's office, runny-nosed kids in tow, rumpled workout clothes steaming with post-elliptical sweat while the coiffed secretaries that guard the offices of said spouse shined in their non-snotty, non-sweaty Jones New York work ensembles.
So I heeded the voice of my inner Kelly, and instead prepared to pull over into the nearest parking lot to collect myself in a way that would make Regis proud.

As I neared the strip mall where I intended to pull in, I saw to my great horror a group of white men picketing our local Planned Parenthood. On their enormous signs were technicolor pictures of things that made my children gasp and ask me what on earth happened to those babies?

Dear reader, regardless of your position on this delicate and divisive subject, surely you can agree that children shouldn't be subjected to such horrific images?

So as my car careened to the right on my flat tire, I reached over and rolled down the window next to my daughter, who slumped down in horror as she realized what I was about to do.

Pulling up to these people WITHOUT A UTERUS OF THEIR OWN I laid my hand on the horn of my trusty mom-car and drove dangerously close to the protesters. Narrowly missing the bank of snow on the curb, road slush lapping at my Hilary for President bumper sticker, I screamed out the window, "Noooo! Boo to you! Thumbs DOWN gentlemen!" And then I drove a bit more and parked my car in the nearest grocery lot and waited to be saved by a man.

What Would Kelly Do?

Probably not that.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Good Neighbor - Worth His Weight in Expensive Beer

Yet again we've been dumped on with more snow. One of our cars has told us by screeching its pretty little wheels that it will not leave our driveway in its current, unplowed condition.

If we had a regular driveway, my guess is a quick forty minutes with a snow shovel and we'd settle the score with our reluctant car.

But our driveway is U-shaped, and then takes a long L to the back of the house. It would take a while to shovel it all by hand. Like sixty-four years.

So imagine my delight, my sublime happiness when I heard a buzzing noise this afternoon.

I walked out to the back gate to investigate (yes, we still have some straggling wreaths around the property). Much to my surprise was a jolly not-so-old man on his John Deere! My awesome friend, Pam, married a swell guy with yard equipment.




And he came over all on his own to plow our driveway.



No one asked him.
As you can see, Jacob took an interest right away. I was standing in the 25 degree weather, Jack on my hip, shooting pictures, and screaming, "Whooo Hooo, Steve! Yay!" Like the laid-back, understated gal that I am.After a bit when I was done embarassing myself taking pictures, I called Pam and gushed my thanks. Now we can drive into town tomorrow. Things like this make my day.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Teacher is Coming! The Teacher is Coming!

My son's kindergarten teacher is coming to the house for dinner tomorrow night. It is an expected thing with Waldorf, that the younger grades host their teachers in the home.

I suppose this makes for a greater learning environment, when the teacher can truly educate the "whole child" which is the Waldorf way, to include knowing who this child comes from and what kind of home environment is shaping the little one.

To me, it means I need to clean the hell out of my house. NOW. All four kids are home due to snow (again!!) and if you could see my house right now - oy. Cleaning any big old house can be a challenge. But when you have four kids and a huge dog tracking in snow, leaving things everywhere, and the ubiquitous trail of wrappers, toys and hair in their wake - it's next to impossible.

I can count the times every single room in my house was clean at the same time on one hand. Typically, there are at least one or two shameful rooms (like one of the bathrooms used exclusively by preteens) present, even when the rest of the house looks great.

Will she want a tour? Will she judge me based on my functional furniture? How to explain to the woman that my children have used couches as their own personal Kleenex - and thus my decision to go leather in every room. A lot of animals sacrificed their skins so I could wipe off body fluids with ease, you know?

What do I cook? I want to cook something that says This is a nurturing, warm home and even though this dish is sublime, she didn't try too hard. You have no need to rifle through her medicine cabinets.

I plan on serving wine, since I know from other parents that this is okay. And I know on one level that I should take a chill pill.

But come on. She's human. And if she's anything at all like me, even a smidgen, she's consumed with curiosity. I know I would be - I love seeing what kinds of houses people live in. What they fill their 'fridge with, what kind of soap they use, what their kitchen looks like. Especially the kitchen - it is the heart of the home in my opinion. I used to run at night when we lived on Air Bases (you can actually do that, since the odds of getting mugged are like zero) and I loved running past homes where they had yet to close the curtains. I suppose I'm a bit of a voyeur.

Also, Waldorf is very very anti-commercial messages. Students cannot advertise anything on their clothing, including logos, and television is eschewed as a general policy.

We respect the policy while on school grounds, but if she wants to see Jacob's room (and you know she will) she is unwittingly going to set foot on the Death Star. His room is so saturated with all things Star Wars that if there was a way to make the toilet sound like Jabba the Hut when it flushed - we'd have it. Then again - maybe she doesn't know what Star Wars is. Maybe we can just mask it as a high level of interest in astronomy.

You never know - when I told one of the moms at school that I was writing for Nickelodeon she looked at me blankly and asked, "What's that? Is it a magazine?" Seriously, she hadn't even heard of Sponge Bob.

So I'm off. I will be cleaning and planning today. And food suggestions would be wonderful.

p.s. If you want to read about a verrry unique diet book and the reason I am drinking less coffee...head on over the to review blog! Or, if you want to join a bunch of awesome women in their quest to lose some winter bulge with Weight Watchers, go here!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Looking for Great Recipes and a Support System?

Head on over to this great site, Life on 20 Weight Watchers Points a Day, for all you need!

Are you trying to lose? Maintain? Eat more healthily? Incorporate more exercise into your life? So are we! You're not alone!

Friday, February 01, 2008

In Praise of Shoes that are not Sensible

Last night I wore a pair of heels to my book club. After a great meeting, we all went outside to get in our cars and drive home.

Our hostess last night lives in a beautiful house in the woods down a long sloped drive. There was a lot of snow, none of which had been tamped down or plowed.

So when one of our girlfriends with front wheel drive got stuck, we all jumped out and pushed her. Were my feet red and freezing? Yes.

Did the heels of my shoes act like ice picks and give me adequate purchase in the snow to help push the car?

Hell yes.