Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Could Just Go Amish on Your Ass

Good lord - five days with no blogging. I have been bizzy bizzy bizzy with some awesome projects that I can't wait to talk about - but not yet....
It has been a challenging week for parenting for me - and I have had several close friends tell me they're knee-deep in things, too. Sarah just had to tell her three teenagers that they were to limit their cell phone usage or she would take them away - needless to say there is a revolt in her house. When she made the rookie move of saying that when she was a kid she didn't even have a cell phone (Motherhood code UMC 41.44 states that thou shalt not bring up thine childhood to thine own offspring as they could give a rat's ass) they just gawked at her and said that if she wanted them to live like she had to as a kid they might as well "go Amish." Not a bad idea, frankly, and a slogan I just might use in my next campaign against my own rugrats.
On the home front here, my future lawyer is at it again...she and her sister have been bickering non-stop this week and yesterday Chloe thrust this into my hand....


I had to black out our last names, but for a ten year-old this girl slays me.

Okay - I am off to work on some things - but remember, as you embark on a summer home with your children - you could just go Amish on their ass.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Justification for a Gin and Tonic

After a full day away from home you come home to dog poop on your rug. Did the dog poop on the miles of wood floor surrounding the rug? No. On. The. Rug.

The dog also threw up in your son's room.

You have an hour to clean it up, jump in the shower, and greet the sitter who will relieve you and your husband for a two hour date. The first date in way too long.

Your toddler hasn't napped and is clinging to your leg like a spider monkey while you clean up dog fluids.

You remember your kids have to eat dinner while you're gone so you whip up something moderately nutritious. With the spider monkey, now also part howler monkey, still attached to your leg.

You hear your older son screech, "Oh, no! Fire! Uh, FIRE!" from the guest bathroom. Apparently the lit candle, burning to help diffuse the scent of dog fluids, was the perfect opportunity to burn toilet paper...for a six year-old.

I had mine on the rocks, hold the tonic.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mini-Date

This morning before Bob left for work we were trying to take a moment to talk. Obviously, with four kids, there isn't a lot of time for romance, private chit-chat or dates - we take what we can get.

We stood outside of one of our daughter's rooms, our voices were lowered and we just chatted softly for a few minutes about non-child related things. It was nice.

Then we heard the sounds of our daughter waking, and within a few seconds we heard another sound: that of her loudly and obviously using the restroom. I looked at Bob, my lashes lowered. "It's almost as if we're in a private cafe, talking over candlelight, huh?"

He smiled back. "Yes, and we're listening to soft jazz being played - I do believe that was the trumpet solo."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Logging the Miles in the Clicky Shoes

I have never not worn high heels to work or to meetings. Hell, I wear high heels to the PTA. It is what it is. Some women can't imagine life not lived in comfy shoes, and I can't imagine life not lived in a pair of shoes that make me feel great - even if the rest of me is spat up upon, mussed, and otherwise "motherized."

I know that when I wear heels to school I get looks from some of the moms. I'm used to that. Some will even ask me where I'm going, My! You're awfully dressed up. Where are we off to? Sweet mother of God, comments like that can be so transparent. They really should just say, I do not like that you are wearing what you are wearing. Why don't you look/dress like me? I can only be nice to people who are EXACTLY LIKE ME.

So now there's work. I work with killer people - amazing professionals who have managed to train me in a field I never thought I would work. At least half of my day is spent around these good people. Then I get to run (very literally) around the hospital to just about every floor. It's dynamic, keeps me hopping, and it can be the favorite part of my day.

Except for some of the nurses. Nurses, people whom I adore and revere as having one of the coolest jobs around, have by and large proven themselves to be high heel haters. I can enter a floor that is frenetic with activity - medical staff running around, machines beeping, phones ringing, staff jostling and walk past a group of nurses in search for a patient's chart. In a way that is almost scripted, they whip their heads around in confusion and irritation - what IS that sound? Then they quickly see me, one of the few or only people not in scrubs and they nearly crack a vertebrae again as they snap their heads downward to investigate if the source of the clicking sound that has lodged itself nastily in their ears. Then, and this has happened every single time I have entered certain floors (there are areas of the hospital where my footwear goes blessedly unnoticed), they pause, give me the up-down appraisal, and either settle on my feet again or turn back to their work. Intimidating? Sadly, yes. I feel like the new girl in high school who has not pre-investigated the dress code. The new girl who even if she knew about the mandatory Croc/clunky clog rule would still have found a way to find Kate Spate clogs.

Even the men notice, which cements my theory nicely. Yesterday, while waiting to enter a patient's room as he chatted away on his cell phone (hello! Cell phone in the CVICU?!) a nice young man who was charting at his nurse's station gestured at the chair next to him. "He looks like he'll be a while. Why don't you have a seat?"

I gratefully sat next to him, mostly because when a nurse is kind like that I lap it up like the sweet honey that it is, and flipped through my papers on my clipboard. After a moment, I felt uncomfortable, because I could sense that this man was staring at me. I looked over to give him a smile, striving for something like, "What a day, huh? Old Man Leland is busting my hump" when he interrupted my thoughts. He pointed to my feet with his pen. "That's a lot of miles to log in the pointies," he said.

I looked down at my adorable Nordstrom slingbacks with the top stitching on the upper, all the way to the saucy little point where my toes should be. I sighed. "Yes, but these are actually very comfortable for me. I could play basketball in these things." (I was shooting for an oblique reference to the 80s commercials for Easy Spirit Pumps but my guess is that he wasn't born then).

He went back to his chart, but then stopped at looked at me again. "You know, you really need to get yourself a pair of these." He was pointing to his behemoth rubber Crocs. I swallowed back the nausea.

"Yeah, I just can't go there, okay?"

I am looking for the perfect pair of stilettos for next weekend. Sometimes you just have to man up and blaze your own trail.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Birthdays, MRSA, and Mother Power

Few things feel worse than cancelling a child's birthday party. Last year Jacob got so sick and ran such a high fever that at the last minute I was forced to cancel his fifth birthday celebration. It was awful. The whole time I kept thinking, "I wish I could just be sick for you - take it away from you so you feel better and get to eat cake with your friends." What mother hasn't thought that? I think the desire to take on all the bad stuff for our kids is hardwired into us. This year, a particularly bad year for illness in our house, I watched nervously as yet another super virus swept through the schools.

When I had to keep Chloe home last week due to a fever, I got an ominous feeling as I looked at the calendar and saw how close Jacob's party was. He seemed fine, though, so fingers were crossed. We celebrate tomorrow and so far he seems healthy as a horse. Me, on the other hand...I woke up this morning for the first time all week and felt good. My fever broke sometime early this morning, and although I woke drenched in sweat and still thick-headed, I felt like a millions bucks - because since Sunday night I have been sick as a dog. I like to think that somebody up there heard me and said, "You betcha. We can make you as sick as you want..."

Fine. Just as long as he gets his party. I feel well enough today that 800 mgs of ibuprofen and pot of coffee are all I need to get up and get things ready.

Of course, I also can't help but wonder if I've picked any of this up at the hospital. The thing I love most about the new job is that I get to be all over the hospital. I get to interact with patients on just about every floor (except Behavioral Health - thank God, because I am so done with my social work days). Last weekend I needed to talk to a patient who was confined because she has MRSA. You know MRSA, right? That terrible super-virus that kids are getting in locker rooms and half their arm or leg or what have you gets eaten away? Well, this young woman had it. So I gowned up, masked up, put on the gloves and held my breath as I went into her room. After I left, I was outside of her door and I Purelled every surface of my body that was exposed. I caught a nurse looking at me with a funny look as I slipped off my heels and Purelled my feet.

Hey, I'm not taking any chances. Embarrassment or MRSA? Easy choice.

I wonder if they will notice that this weekend I will be covered in a thin sheeting of saran wrap....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Global Warming Has Killed My Garden

I woke up this morning to drooping trees, a dying garden, and pots containing frozen flora and fauna. I am so demoralized....I live in one of the southern most states and it is snowing. In fact, it has been coming down in big, fat chicken feather flakes for the past two hours. My apple trees, just starting to bud, will likely not bear fruit again this year. Here's what they looked like an hour ago.

And here is what the BBQ corner of my courtyard looked like around the same time. In three days we're supposed to be roasting hotdogs and marshmallows with friends and family in honor of my son's birthday - it definitely feels like I should dust off the carols and whip up some hearty soup instead.

Sigh. Back to the drawing board, folks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sweet Sweet Empathy

It's one thing to hear your husband tell you your job is the most important one in the world, then scamper off to the safety of his office while you actually do the work. Words of praise, however well-meant, do not help with the dishes, the toilets, the poopy bottoms and the chaos.

Being admired, being told how wonderful I am as a parent, listening to my dear husband mention how busy I am at dinner parties has always rung hollow with me. I am not ungrateful, but I just couldn't quite wrap my head around how he was always so spilling over with the kudos regarding my domestic duties, but when pressed - well, he was quick to admit that even if I could out-earn him, he would never stay at home. He just couldn't, you know, he'd go crazy. Uh, huh.

This has engendered a lot of bitterness on my part over the years. And I don't like being bitter. It's unattractive, feels rotten, and causes premature wrinkling. So when I decided to return to the workforce, I knew I wanted to alleviate those feelings while creating a balance within. A balance that allowed me to pursue grown-up interactions, earn some income of my own, and mitigate as much mommy guilt as possible by working when Bob or at times a close friend could watch the younger kids. I talked a lot about finding this job, and after a long time, I think I may have found it.

Although the job is stressful, requires a lot of new thinking on my part - it has given me a break from domesticity, made me appreciate my life, and created an outlet for me to have my adult time without any of the guilt.

As for Bob?

"Jen, you have no idea what yesterday morning was like. I couldn't find Jacob's other soccer sock, right as we needed to go to the game Jack had a huge blowout, while I was changing his diaper he knocked a box of lightbulbs to the floor with his foot and glass shattered all over the laundry room floor. On top of that, I had to get those flowers planted for you and take the kids to the store for groceries."

I have no idea whatsoever what he is talking about - but it sure sounds important, doesn't it ladies?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Channeling Barbara Kingsolver

All I want for Mother's Day is for my family to get outside and weed. I will be working the weekend anyway, and I want to know that my spawn will be doing my bidding. This year, as I have done before, I have started a garden from seed in my office. Six weeks ago I sat two large trays of watered seeds on my window seat and said a small prayer, although I don't know why because that is the easy part.

The hard part is once they're in the ground. It's arid here, though we get all that snow and summer brings monsoons, but because we're floating 7,000 feet above sea level - growing things presents a problem. But I am optimistic - after all we have one of the few apple orchards around and they actually yield enough fruit for us and all of our friends. So I have taken stock of the apple blossoms, the Aspen leaves that have finally began to unfurl, the patch of green grass in our courtyard and I have declared this the year we see our garden to the end.

My dog had better not dig up the spinach. The prairie dogs had better not nibble my peas. My kids better remember to do my bidding and water and weed at my request. My husband better remember to pick up the organic fertilizer and I had better remain vigilant.

If I am picking pumpkins to carve this fall, I shall declare Mother's Day 2008 the best in history. How about you? What do you want for Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Philanthropy Thursday - And it's About Shoes!

As we edge further away from the holidays, I think it's even more important to give some time and thought to those in need. Especially given the abysmal state of our economy both at home and abroad, I know that even though I, too, am feeling the pinch at the grocery store and the gas station, at least I can still feed my family and fuel my car. Hell, at least I even have a car. There but for the grace of God go I - especially these days.



When I was talking to Sarah the other day, you know - my shoe whore best friend - she told me about a charity that just needs to be talked about. It's Soles 4 Souls.

Did you know that over 300 million children around the world have never had a pair of shoes? Ever? That women in other countries routinely walk 50 miles a day to retrieve their daily water with nothing on their feet? Have you thought about victims of the Asian Tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina or Rita and what they might do to protect their feet after their homes and even loved ones had been washed away? Soles 4 Souls knows this - and they also know how many unworn shoes are sitting around in the average American's closet. I'm not even "addicted" to shoes, but I can guarantee that if I took stock of our home's shoe situation, I could easily box up a dozen pairs of shoes for children, women and even men.

As I think about the global economy, and people all over the world who go without the most basic necessities while I have a closet stuffed with my heart's desires, I feel compelled to act. I hope you do, too.

Today I am boxing up our shoes. You can do it, too. Summer is coming - and we all know that for most of us that means cute summer sandals. Even if it's just a cute pair from Payless - why not clear out your closet and make room for the new, while taking your gently worn shoes (or new if you're feeling really generous!) and sending them to Soles 4 Souls.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stinky Target Woman - I Curse Thee

I was just in Target, rushing around with the boys trying to get a few necessities (jumbo box of tampons being one of the necessities) before picking up the girls from school. It was well past Jack's nap/lunch time, but I was stuck, since it's an early release day.

Jack was very unhappy with the situation, and instead of using his words to indicate his displeasure (boys in my family start using their words around four, anyway) he decided it best to convey his incredibly pissy mood with a series of eardrum bursting shrieks and screams. I was already on edge (note previous reference to tampons) and had just cut the hell out of my thumb on a whiffle ball set that I was trying to beat my son into submission with placate my son with - so I threw the last couple of purchases into the cart and hot footed it to the nearest checkout.

I was second in line, and the woman who was being waited on turned and looked at me. Then her glance rested on Jack and she asked me, in a way that let me know she wasn't full of compassion for her fellow woman, "Is that him?"

I knew what she meant. But I just looked at her and forced a pleasant smile on my face, and arched my brows as if to act confused. Clearly, this irritated her.

"Is that the kid who was, uh, exercising his lungs?"

I smiled a little bigger and nodded my head. "Mmmm hmmm," I responded. I just wanted her to leave, to pay for my stuff, and get closer to home so I could put him down for a nap.

She gave me the once over - you know the classic look to assess just who it is you're about to be bitchy to - and grabbed her receipt from the cashier. "Well," she huffed, "my head is still splitting." And she marched off.

Honest to God I deserve a medal for not pushing the cart (with Jack still in it) toward her and pinning her to the ground with it so he could really give her an earful. I'm sure that some time tonight I will bolt up in bed and scream out the PERFECT RETORT in my sleep. But as is my luck, I simply froze and stared at her retreating figure and thought how very much her skirt looked like upholstery you would have found on my dead grandmother's davenport (they didn't have couches pre-1979). And how much makeup she was wearing.

So yeah, take THAT Mary Kay upholstery woman.

Happy Feet...Sort of

"Mom?"

"Yes, Jacob."

"My legs are happy inside."

"What?"

"My legs. When I think about my birthday party, my legs get all happy inside."

Someone turns six soon.....

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Moms Whine Too

There are rare moments in parenting where I am allowed glimpses into the adults my kids will soon become (and I say soon only because I am old and I know that the time will whizz by regardless). For a brief shiny bit of time I am allowed to push back the curtain of adolescence and gaze into a future that holds a funny, sharp, neat person. Not that they aren't all of those things now - they are - but let's be honest. Junior high aged girls aren't exactly known for their consistency and all around likeability for a couple of years.

Yesterday I had a hard time getting back into the mom groove - compounded by my ever present peri-menopause PMS, a grouchy baby who decided it was best to shriek much of the day, and my desire to crawl into bed and nap for four hours, it wasn't a good day. In my attempt to alleviate some tension in the car on the drive home from school, I joked around with Chloe, who was sitting in the front seat. We quickly started an exchange that had me as Maddie and her as the annoying little sister. I could feel the tightness in my shoulders ease up just a little bit as I pretended to hit her shoulder and whine, "Chloe, stooop telling me what to do! You're not the boss of me!" I must say, my teenage whine is nearly perfected - and that unique inflection of the young is fun to execute in a mocking manner. I came to a red light and sat there, a smile playing on my face. Teasing my kids happens to be one of the best ways to brighten my mood.

As the light changed and I drove through the intersection, I heard a long, pained sigh from the backseat. It was Maddie.

"You kids are driving me crazy. You have no IDEA how much I have to put up with. What with your bickering, my job, your father....I'm going to need a glass of wine with dinner."

She was dead on - I couldn't stop laughing all the way home.

Hey Sunshine! The random number generator picked the number one - which is you - so congrats! You win the Real Simple sub! Shoot me an email!

Monday, May 05, 2008

I'm so Tired I am Actually Looking forward to This.....

After seven grueling days in a row at the hospital I am so ready for a day as a stay at home mom. In fact I am so grateful not to have to torture my feet (heels), face (smiles) and mind (uh - technical stuff) that I am actually looking forward to being tortured later this morning by her:

Do y'all see the woman in the middle? The one with the impossibly flat abs and muscles and things? She is my personal trainer. Would you like to know how it feels to be soft, out of shape and lumpy? Just show up in a pair of yoga pants and a tattered Gap t-shirt to this woman's studio. Trust me. I actually feel pretty good about myself, especially since I've had four kids - but when I walk into her serene studio, with the bamboo floors, torture equipment strengthening tools and bicycles lined up and waiting to hurt me, and I see Caroline ready to get to work in something cute, tight, made of lycra, and clearly not concealing any lumps, I feel a bit differently about myself. I suck in my stomach (I just can't quite call them abs yet) a lot around this woman.

Kristi and I have been seeing her pretty regularly, although I have taken lots of breaks for work, sick kids, whatever. So Kristi has a whittled waist and I still eat dairy and lovingly caress my collection of Spanx each morning. But today - bring it. Bring it, Caroline. Talk to me about healthy foods I am not eating, the water I'm not getting enough of, don't believe me when I tell you I have ripped my "lats" off my back when you force me to attempt a chin up - I don't care. Today I am ready.

Stay tuned for the Real Simple winner...coming after my torture session....

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Great Age Divide And Great Magazine Giveaway

I can't wait to sit down at the computer this weekend and post something other than the dribble I've been doing this week - by the time I get home I have been so fried that a typical post sounds something like brzzzthpfft and all I can think about writing about is maybe the turkey sandwich I ate for lunch.

I have been working on some more Air Force Wife Pieces and some other projects (Jamie - I swear I'll email you this weekend!) so please bear with me.

I do have one funny tidbit. The other day at a hospital meeting with several different units a young social worker came and sat next to me. Did I say young? I meant to say fetal. Seriously - she was like twelve. Am I so old that the new college graduates look like my children now?

Anyway - as I sat there feeling withered and ancient she tapped at the table and looked around. Her eyes rested on me and she said, "Hey. What up?"

What up? This simple salutation had me feeling like Ma Ingalls or some school marm from a Turner Classic Movie. It froze me. I think I actually straightened my spine and cracked a pathetic smile and said, "Hello. My, lunch surely smells divine, does it not?"

I need to work on my assimilation skills.

For your patience with my bloggy-loserness (and lack of visiting all of your blogs which I promise to remedy) I am giving away a magazine subscription today. I'll pick a commenter to receive one year of Real Simple (or other if you already have that) this Sunday. So please tell me you're still reading even though I suck and then I can send you something even more fun to read!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day!

Assuming that there is no snow on the ground for any of you - May is finally here. Collective sigh....Thank you.

My kids will be dancing around the Maypole at school today, wearing clothes to match the ribbons they have been assigned. Bob will be there with the kids and I will be running around the hospital with my trainer learning how to get information from ICU patients who are intubated. Sounds easy enough.

As this week comes to a close, I realize that I am still just as excited - probably more so now - to enter the work force. I am also equally grateful that it is just part time. In one short week I have missed out on quite a bit at home. So bring it on, hospital, just bring it on in 20 hours a week or less!

Go twirl your ribbons in celebration of spring and flowers and let some warm sunshine fall down on your shoulders.