Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fashion sense skips a generation, I'm sure

In high school I had a friend who wouldn't drive down the main drag in town, without applying lipstick. It was the street that got cruised on the weekends, but she insisted on lipstick any day of the week, any hour of the day. She was funny like that.

My mother, won't leave the house without makeup applied. I remember once as a child she realized she had just answered the door and talked to a friend for 10 minutes at the door, without having put on her makeup first. She was horrified. I doubt her friend even noticed.

When I was 14, I had a church leader who was very involved in helping me set and complete goals to improve myself regularly. I adored this woman and would do anything she asked. She asked me to learn a song on the piano that was a good 2 years more advanced than my skills. I worked hard on it. Everyday I practiced it exclusively, for much longer than my mom could ever get me to practice my regular music. After I had mastered the song---my leader arranged for me to accompany the other youth to sing it for the congregation at church.

If you play a musical instrument, you probably know, accompanying a person, or a group is even harder than just performing alone. For me, being aware of their timing and other cues is very difficult. Most people didn't even know I played the piano, so when I got up that Sunday and did a flawless performance, naturally, I was elated. I was thinking of all the praise and accalades I would get, particularly from my mother whom I was returning to sit next to after performing. With a big head, eagerly anticipating even more puffing up, I sat next to my mom. I shifted a little to be able to catch every word of praise I knew she would whisper in my ear. She leaned over and quietly whispered, "I couldn't see your eyebrows at all when you were up front, I think it's time you start using an eyebrow pencil."

You might think I got a real brow beating---but the truth is, my mom is just consistent. She keeps me humble, and makeup is very important to her.

For some reason, that loyalty to makeup did not rub off on me. I wear makeup. Sometimes. I brush my hair even less. I would tell you a change of clothes is even more infrequent, but that would be TMI and, well, I do have some pride. But if we were being totally honest here...

Perhaps then, you can imagine my surprise to have discovered that I have a little 20 month old with an uncanny awareness of such accessorizing and other types of social cues, if you will. I started noticing a few months back that she always seemed to study my face longer and reach up and touch my face or hair if either of them had been done up. I joked that she didn't recognize me "made up". But as she has gotten a little more verbal, the truth has been revealed. She reaches up to my washed, dried, and styled hair and strokes it and says, "niiiiiiiiice mom-ay". The other day when I had lipstick on she stared inquisitively for quite some time and then offered an accepting, "oh cool!"

She has been obsessed with shoes since I bought her first pair about a year ago. She recently has become very aware of them being in pairs, and while I will frequently just throw two mismatched shoes on her feet to toddle around the house in, she now will have nothing to do with such an assault on her fashion sense.

So naturally, when she wants to go outside, accessories are first and foremost to make her entrance into the public eye acceptable.

Nevermind the mid-drift t-shirt and the size 3-6 month pajama shorts in the 40 degree weather. She has her sunglasses on, and that is enough.

The way I see it though, as long as you still find yogurt a suitable hair product and diapers are a part of every ensemble, fashion or no, my sense is still superior.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And then there was McDonalds

You know, I'm pretty certain it's common for every mom to think her kid is so funny and cute. I recognize that things I might find totally endearing or hilarious in my child, might not be another mom's cup of tea. And that's okay. But yesterday, at McDonald's play land, it was very hard for me not to think I had the funniest kid there. Benja climbed to the top of the play structure where he was in a big yellow bubble with mesh keeping him from plummeting 15 feet. I was reading a book and not even aware of him, because my children's safety is my #1 priority. Suddenly I hear, as loud as can be, "Daaaaaaaay-oh! Daaaaaaaaaay-oh! Isuh day, isuh day, isuh daaaaaaaaay-oh! Daylight come and nobody knows...." And he was off to chase the cute blonde who called him McDade.

He's just like his mama, I sing random songs all the time without even realizing it. I have to say, I do find it endearing that this trait rubbed off on Benja. Avee will sometimes indulge in some extemporaneous singing. Her songs are more woeful ballads, I think. I'm anxious to hear what they are about as she gets older and more intelligible. As it stands, it sounds a lot like a poor toddler with saggy diapers and unclipped nails, trying to make it in a world of peers with full heads of hair and non-hand-me-down clothes. We'll see.

To be fair, about calling my kid the cutest or funniest, Benja's competition was lacking. A 5 year old boy there happened upon the big orange slide at the same moment Avee came flying down it with shrieks of glee. As she kerplunked onto her bottom, she let out a shrill scream of delight. The FIVE YEAR OLD boy turned and ran wailing to his mother because of Avee's frightening and very intimidating scream. I was sitting near the mom and kept waiting for her to say, "Yo dude, get a grip, that was a baby and she was simply laughing!" but instead she coddled and cooed and worked him through his trauma. I finally had to turn, because wouldn't it be really rude of me if like, you know, something was wrong with him and I was judging him for being a ninny? Nope, being a ninny was all that was wrong. The mother started talking loudly about how some kids just aren't polite and even though they should apologize they won't unless their mommy's tell them to. To be honest, I was floored at first. I mean, did she not see that Avee only has 6 teeth in her mouth and only says important words like "no" and "cool"? She started giving me long glances as though to encourage me to contribute in her helatious crime against our future society.

When I realized she wasn't going to let it go and I'd either have to move my butt AND my quarter pounder or say something, I said, "Did her screaming scare you?" He said no. "Did it hurt your feelings?" He said yes, it hurt his feelings because she was being mean. I said, "How old are you?" He said five. I think his mom may have realized she probably didn't want me talking to him after all, but it was too late, she gave me one sidelong glance too many. "Well, I think then that since you are a big boy, five years old is pretty big, that you can understand that she is a baby, she's only 1, and that she certainly wasn't trying to make you feel bad. This is a playground and you're going to see lots of kids doing lots of different things here. A one year old screaming isn't really a big deal, and if you let it bother you, you're probably not going to have any time to just play. Believe me, she screams a lot." I didn't say, "And in the real world, you haven't experienced fear until you've been on the receiving end of Avee trying to make you feel bad." I felt a little bit rude, and really, I'm not a rude person---but I almost felt a civic duty to give back that boy at least a month of the 3 and a half years that had clearly been squelched from his life. His mother pulled him to her, clearly to warm fuzzy away all the horrible things I said, but he pushed back, stood up and ran back to the play structure.

She moved away from me. I didn't have to transport my big mac after all. Later another mom came over and quietly said, "I think that was brave and absolutely necessary" so I didn't feel so bad or that I was the only one thinking there was a problem.

Nobody has ever called me brave before.

I don't think it's ever wise to "parent" another child, especially when the parent is right there. But, make my precious cub into a villain, a mama bear will do what she has to.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

They used to call me Fatlip

Today at story time there was a young girl, probably four, who only had one arm. We happened to be sitting right next to her and her mother. She only had about 5 inches from the shoulder on the "missing" arm. I'm 31; I've seen plenty of this in my day. But today, I saw it through my children's eyes and I braced myself for one of Benja's loud and inappropriate questions or one of Avee's loud and obviously sympathetic "ooohhhhhhhhh babies" that comes when she sees something she thinks is an owie. I wished so badly that I knew the "right" thing to say. I distracted Avee as she repeatedly tried to reach for the girl's sleeve and look up it to find the missing arm. Benja never noticed, and I was relieved.

As is pretty much the case with most things in parenting, I'm at a loss for the best approach. I'd like to teach my kids about other children they will encounter who will be different. I'd like to teach them appropriate responses and behaviors. Adults just look the other way or ignore---and kids won't do that.

When I was a newborn, I developed a "fat lip". Quotations because that's what we called it, not because it wasn't really fat. It was huge. It was purplish and for quite some time, the only thing people saw when they looked at me. (Oh, that and the RED HAIR) I grew up being gawked at, made fun of, and questioned all the time. I learned to cope with it. Sometimes it was really hard and other times, it was sort of fun to stand up for myself or be an expert on face deformities. When I was very young my older siblings taught me to say, "I'd rather have a fat lip than a fat head!" when rude people called me Fatlip. I can remember being appalled (if 5 year old children can feel appalled) by adults who would gawk, point, whisper, and sometimes even say, "Did you know you have a fat lip?" SERIOUSLY PEOPLE!!!! To this day, those kinds of reactions from adults, shock me. It may have been more reflective of where I grew up than anything else though.

I grew up. My lip grew down. My parents used this lip as a tool for the forming of my character. I prayed every night, "please bless my lip". I learned to pray for what was best, not for what I wanted. I wanted it zapped, but I rarely prayed for that. I can still remember the night when I went to pray for my lip and realized, my prayer had been answered. I was about 18. It had been unnoticeable for at least 4 years at that point. I still have a bump. I see it when I look in the mirror. No one else does.

There were some people who approached me about it, that I had no problem talking to. They were kind, naturally curious, and non-judgmental. Even kids can perceive that stuff. There were others who just wanted to ask first so they could tell other people. I always knew the difference.

I was thinking about this today, after we saw the girl with only one arm. She knows she's different. She's felt the stares. Maybe she's cried that she can't do some things others can. She probably has already learned to zone out the nosey people around her. But she's also a child who probably likes to talk, and maybe her parents have been able to help her be proud of her differences. If I were her mother, what would I want her experiences around other children to be? Would I want it ignored? Would I want it acknowledged and for her to have a chance to express herself? I don't know. I can't remember what I wanted as a child with a "deformity." I just remember learning to deal with whatever came my way. I always knew when people said nothing, that they really wanted to. And then others who immediately asked about it were rude. But what is the happy medium?

I'd like to know if anyone has any firsthand experience or even passed on wisdom for dealing with situations like today. I know that probably, some awkward conversations will have to happen---but just as a mom who's winging it most of the time, I'd also like be somewhat prepared.

And tomorrow I'm going to tell you about a little boy we encountered whose mother was debilitating him far more than being born with one arm could. You don't want to miss part 2, At McDonald's Playland.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The one where you prove yourself by reading

Well, I'm back in my routine where I have lots of fodder for blogging (or so I think) and no time to really do it. I mean, I have time, but that would require giving up some slothing around on the couch and fewer snacks and interrupting very important yelling-at-my-kids time. I do have priorities.

Just now I was happily redeeming an Amaz0n gift certificate and Benja caught me perusing the toy section. He immediately jumped on my lap and asked to join me in this most pleasurable of activities---coveting and drooling. He does it quite well. Where I say, "holy moly, who'd pay $64.99 for that piece of hud toy" he presses his yogurt-cereal-lego-germed finger to the screen and adds an emphatic "I NEEEED that!" to his list of must haves. I realized he didn't have any credibility when he pointed to a laptop adapter as a must have for his train set. But only then.

However, in the middle of this, he turned his face up to mine and said, "Yo so nice mom!" See now, learning that kind of stuff at 3 is deadly for the mom. I would have swooned if I hadn't been sitting. Little does he know, I left the site with only 2 things in my cart. Short term memory, don't fail me now.

I just have random tidbits of stories, conversations that I'd like to write about.

My brother and his wife had a little container with Mexican Jumping Beans in them. I've never seen them before---didn't even really know they were real. I was sitting on the couch reading and kept hearing a strange pop-pop sound. When I asked what I was hearing, my brother informed me of what they were. He and J were in the kitchen making rootbeer. Yeah, he's that cool, he makes rootbeer at home. Anyway, I picked up the little container and was intrigued. "What makes them jump?" I ask. He tells me there are little worms inside. Little Mexican worms, I assume, because I've seen American ones, and they barely move, let alone jump. So, as I'm looking at these beans I start to think, "Yikes, that's my own personal hell, being trapped inside something and not able to get out---do people put them in there for kicks or are they naturally in there and this is their lot in life?" Those thoughts aren't so bad for an intelligent woman, are they? But what I SAID was, "Are they happy in there?" As the words escaped my mouth I slunk down further on the couch and immediately regretted uttering those words. J said nothing. There really isn't much you can say when for 4 and a half years you've been married to a woman you were SURE would never utter such inanity. But then again, that's me, keeping the surprise alive in our marriage. However, my brother, not so quiet, not so surprised, says, "That's a woman question if I've ever heard one." Sadly, I made that stereotype indisputable.

At the airport on the way home, at 12:30 am, a man accidentally went the wrong way down the expansive and so clearly marked "secure" area of Dallas Love. Sirens, alarms, and a loud blaring voice immediately let the entire Northern Texas area know of this mistake. J loudly observed, "Making air travel safe for the world" or something similarly sarcastic (we had just witnessed a 10 year old girl getting "stripped" of her lip gloss an hour before---I can't tell you how much security that brought to me as I boarded the plane ahead of her). Several people behind us chuckled and Benja noticed. "Why did you say that daddy!?" He asked several times, but Daddy was too focused on getting from point A to point B so I answered, "He was just being funny Benja." After a few seconds to take that in, Benja said loudly, "Why does dad always be funny at that man, but he never bees funny to us at home?" Then I laughed loudly. In some ways, the airing of our dirty laundry from the mouth of a three year old, terrifies me. But when J gets to be the brunt of it, I thoroughly enjoy it. For the record, J is quite funny. Just not generally to a 3-year-old audience. I, on the other hand, appeal to the masses.

We had a 3 hour layover in Kansas City and both my parents and J's parents (and brother) and my very pregnant sister and her husband came up to spend it with us. J's and my mom had a full on buffet of leftover Thanksgiving fixings. It was really quite darling and a nice reprieve from dry roasted peanuts. The kids had a great time being fawned over and followed around the airport by someone who thought it was cute when they ran around and touched every blessed thing in the aiport. Benja plunked himself on my dad's lap and said, "Aw you my grampa Fmiff?" My dad didn't hear him, but that's why their relationship works. Benja just went on, "I know you aw, because you have a biwd." Grampa Smith harumphed because I think he was aware the boy was making noice, but he doesn't understand that mumbling. I've been a mumbler since I was 14. Or around the time his hearing started to go.

Anyway, the next morning, Benja was trying out his newly acquired family tree labeling skills.
"J, yo dad is my grandpa. Yo mom is my grandma. Mom, yo grandma is my grandma."
"But what about my dad, isn't he your grandpa?" I ask.
"No, yo dad is dead," He says matter of factly.
"What?! Are you kidding, you sat on his lap yesterday! He has a beard!"
"Yes, I know," he says with an exaggerated sadness, "But now he's dead."

Speaking of dead parents, this is a little bit---uh----I really don't know the can decide after I tell you the story.

Last night, the cousins returned from their trip to visit family. This morning, the six year old noted, "Mom, there are a lot more Browns than there are Smiths" (some names are changed to protect the innocent). It's true, there are five kids in her family and nine in the Smith family. She agreed, but he wanted to expound on his findings. He continued, "Well, if you count your dead mother..." I really don't know what he said after that, I burst out laughing. I really have been laughing all morning. He of course doesn't know people don't say things like that. And, he was sweetly trying to up the numbers for the Brown family.

Speaking of names, No Cool Story googled my name before we met and found my wedding announcement that was posted in our parent's local paper. I just want to say, that I have googled my name 27 different ways and have found NOTHING. I think No Cool should be a detective. Only, don't do anymore research on me---that announcement will be the nicest thing you'll find.

Okay, that's enough random free association typing for one post.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

There should be extra credit for posting on vacation

Now is the time for all good women to get off their hind ends, take a shower, and blog about the absolutely blissful vacation she has been on. Well, at least time for me. I have been having an absolutely heavenly time here in rainy Washington. We're hanging out with my brother and his wife and their son.

I discovered a vital bit of truth to vacationing properly, while here. I went two days without showering and read an entire book in that time. I've taken 3 naps, combed my hair once, and eaten insane amounts of delicious food which I have not prepared. The trick is---visit your BROTHER for this kind of vacation. First of all, a sister would never let two days of you not showering go by without saying something. Or lots of somethings. But see, my brother doesn't notice, and my SIL isn't rude enough. That's the trick. The one who would call you on your disgusting vacation habits, is oblivious. And the one who could isn't quite comfortable enough to tell you that you smell and that the unkempt hair and one outfit per three days look isn't becoming. Even on you.

What I need to report on is my time down south. We flew into Portland and stayed at a hotel for two nights. Benja had a blast staying at a hotel. He has a real hard time with the concept of leaving, and someone else renting our room when we leave. He mourned our hotel room in Branson for a good two weeks, when my friend made the mistake of telling him we had to leave so someone else could stay there. You never know what angle is best with a 3 year old, but I guess it's safe to say, sharing of anything, even hotel rooms, isn't the right one.

I got to meet Millie and No Cool Story on Friday night. It was the best night EVER. Okay, my wedding night was a little more fun, but there was a lot more laughing with them (thankfully) and significantly more food spillage. Particularly on my part, I'm not ashamed to say.

They surprised me at the hotel. I live for surprises but I'm always suspicious and constantly scheming of potential surprises (won't it be so cool if J doen't really have to go to New Hampshire and he's actually at the car dealership buying me a Lexus SUV and having it custom painted the color of my eyes and he's going to show up here right after Oprah with some Pho and a bouquet of flowers and a big red bow wrapped around the Lexus....) so I'm rarely fully surprised. (Sorry all you past surprisers---I'm a good actress). I was genuinely surprised.

Here's why. I walked into the hotel, and off to the side, just before the check-in counter is a little library (aka--blogger's fix-room). I SAW little Miss No Cool sitting demurely in a chair reading a magazine or newspaper. Honest to goodness, we made eye contact and neither of us thought we were who we were. I thought she was an exoctic looking French woman (I don't know why French, but I swear, I thought it) and that she seemed to just glance briefly at my hair and delve back into the scintillating issue of "Hotels R Us" that she was reading. I was alone as J unloaded the kids and luggage, so there were no tell-tale signs of who I was. Then, J walked in, Millie (who was out of sight, blogging) heard me say something whiney like, "Jaaaaaaaaaaay, don't put my suitcase on the bottom, you're smashing my makeup, Jaaaaaaaaay..." and Millie came flying around the corner with these great bright eyes and big smile. It took me a millie-second, but I recognized her. She is a bundle of energy, fo' sho. It was so cool to be surprised by them. And they berated me for claiming to be a redhead when I'm not. My entire life I had to deal with all that "what lovely red hair" crap and dumb questions like, "Now where did you get that pretty red hair..." and wonder why they heck people didn't know my hair came from the same place their hair came from. Or didn't come from. So, I endure such misery as a child, become an adult and FINALLY appreciate having something that's just a little different and something people pay good money to imitate and I don't have it anymore. Thppppppp. Dark haired girls are soooooo picky.

Here's what I have to say about those girls. And yes, they ARE both girls. This can never be a given in the anonymous blogging world.

Millie is bright and engaging and talks just like she does on her blog. She's the real deal. She's also one of those people who does a complete disservice to the new-mom world. She makes the mothering of 5 children seem effortless and enjoyable. I'm not saying being a mom isn't enjoyable, but to really make it LOOK enjoyable? That's amazing. I'm sure it helps that she has this hotty husband who is very hands-on (with the kids) and I personally observed him manage 3 kids that were in 5 different areas playing at any given time. There really aren't many men like that in the world. Millie has a nice voice. I'm just trying to paint a picture you won't get from her blog. I usually don't talk about people's voices. When you hear her talk, you want to be her friend. She also can go from one topic to 5 others in a matter of seconds, seamlessly, and keep you fascinated all the while. I'm working on sleep deprivation, time change, and depleted brain cells, so that's a lot of why there was food coming out of my mouth at dinner. She's fascinating and funny. I hope that when I have five kids and have been married as long as her, I will have as pleasant a disposition and as good of a relationship with my spouse as she does. I'm pleasant and adore my spouse, but we're less than half way there...

No Cool Story is a big fat liar. Everything about her is cool. She is kind and I felt immediately comfortable and liked by her. She laughed at my jokes, but not all of them. That means she is discerning. And, sometimes she laughed when I wasn't trying to be funny, and that made her feel like an old friend. She is quiet. But the kind of quiet where, if you label her as such, and only such, you are SO missing out. She says HILARIOUS things. Quietly. I love that kind of humor. And for some really weird reason, I kept hitting her. I don't. know. why. But you know what, she was still nice to me. She'd just say quietly, but emphatically, "Why are you hitting me?" And I'd stare dumbly at her and say, "I don't know." No Cool's comments on my posts about my children always make me feel good. Like, I'm not the only person in the world who thinks what they say is just the cutest thing ever. And she's the same way in real life. She'd hear Benja say things I didn't hear. And really, what's cuter than a lil' Mexi-American quoting a 3 year old who can't say his R's? Not much. I was going to offer to sell No Cool's first name for $538,000, but she upped the ante by giving me her last name and telling me to try and get some more.
Any takers? I have loved No Cool's blog since the first time I read it. She frequently puts movie or tv quotes at the top of a post, which I think is hilarious, and takes a lot of talent. You can't imagine my delight to have MY NAME--MY.OWN.NAME incorporated into one of those quotes. Yeah, I have arrived folks. I have shamelessly linked to Millie and No Cool's posts about meeting me.

Meeting them was such a highlight. I feel like I've known them forever, and I'm glad to finally put faces, names, and real life memories with everything else.

Oh yeah, one more thing I really liked about these two---they are good friends to each other. They get each other. They are quite different from each other, but they work off of each other like they're identical twins. It's really fascinating to watch. No Cool follows the rapid succession of topics that Millie can fire off (the very ones that make me spittle) and Millie hears every little quiet, subtle, and hilarious thing that No Cool says. They're a great pair.

Okay, I've neglected my vacationing duties for far too long. In my defense, I have been multi-tasking. Whilst typing, I have been safeguarding Benja's tennis shoe, full of mah-bows. Or marbles, for you beginners. The duties of motherhood never cease to amuse me.

No Cool and Millie, I'll be back. I promise not to hit or spit.

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


As a child, in my home, being funny was the prize to be won. Being the funniest was the ultimate goal. There are some VERY funny people in my family. It wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I realized we got every ounce of our "Smith Humor" from my mother. My dad can't even tell a scripted joke to save his soul. And sometimes he'll try a pun and laugh and laugh before he can say it and when he does, you wish desperately that you could have gone the rest of your life never hearing it, it's so bad. One of the funniest things my brothers have done, is imitate my father telling a joke. Now, THAT'S funny. My mom was my mom. She wasn't funny. She was the one who told us to get to bed, do our homework, take out the trash, not go out of the house in dirty underwear, no one likes an know-it-all, etc. It wasn't in her job description to be funny. So, I never noticed.

Well, a couple of days ago my friend Epsi sent me an email that made me laugh heartily. Of course, I immediately forwarded it to a dozen more people, as though I were the creative genius behind it.


The responses I have gotten have all made me laugh. My sister simply wrote, "I beg to differ" and added three pictures of herself, which had obviously JUST been taken outside her house with the digital camera. She's posing sexily in front of a tree, accessorizing with a scarf. They were funny, but they were TWICE as funny because she is VERY pregnant and clearly having trouble with the more seductive leg bend and back tilts. But that certainly didn't stop her from trying.

Other responses I got:

Thank you for the warning. I will greatly miss your good looking and sexy self.

Not only are you dang good looking....but humble!

AAAAHHHHH!...oh wait, only the sexy people? yep, I'm safe.

Is this before or after your Oregon trip? Thank you for thinking of me, you will be missed. Good luck, I hear the anal probes are a beast.

And then my mother. She's 71. Shouldn't she have a diminished capacity by now? Of any kind? I mean, she can still peel and chop a carrot faster than I can do the same with a cuisanart. She can whip through 17 loads of laundry in one day and make it look like she barely handwashed some delicates and hung them to dry. She can find anything you need at any time for any purpose. Usually in her purse or tied to a string in her kitchen. She can make a pair of SAS shoes, hot pink pants, hot pink turtle neck with purple cardigan, and 3 chained eyeglasses around her neck look way cuter than I could ever try to be in my finest clothes and accessories. *Sigh* Above all, she's still the cleverest of them all.

Her response to my email:

I made the mistake of telling my mom on the phone, "Your response took the cake mom." She gloated aloud and then bragged to my sister who was sitting nearby. I heard my sister swear and I knew my mom was in gloaters gloating heaven because she didn't even tsk at her.
But I will. S, watch your mouth. At least you have potential for when you're 71.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One of THOSE days

It really has been a quiet, peaceful kind of day for me. Only, I woke up 30 minutes before I had to be at a dentist appointment for Benja, that is 15 minutes away. No stress, I'm a mom, I can work miracles. Only, Avee had a vicious bought of diarrhea during breakfast, and whilst spooning in Honey Nut Spooners, thought she'd check out with her free hand, what she'd just done in her diaper. I won't gross you with the details but I DID say this, "Where did you get that peanut butter sweetie, num, num, trying a new topping for your cereal?" Fortunately she is an opinionated girl, wasn't interested and yelled until I got a clue.

I even went CLOTHES shopping with two little kids. That was actually a highlight of the day. Only, I just tried some things on Avee, and I'd like to send out this message:

To The Inconsiderate Woman Who Thinks She Has The Only Daughter With a Long Torso And Short Legs: Thank you so much for switching out the 12 month pants with the 18 month pants in the darling sage outfit at Kohl's. There's nothing wrong with you for THINKING of doing something like that, we all want to at some point in our shopping careers. But you are rude and egocentric for actually DOING it. This is a terrible violation of etiquette and common sense. I hope your daughter and you both spend many unhappy days in overly-large, sagging pants and high-riding crotch pinching onsie tops. Okay, I don't wish that on your daughter, but I hope she grows up with better manners than you. Now I have to go back to Kohl's and I HATE MAKING TWO TRIPS.
That is all.

While I was seething about this 2nd trip back that I have to take, I managed to lose a breast. Albeit, a chicken one, I still lost it. I do hope I find it before it grows too late and we discover a strange new breed of breast spawn under our couch.

While I was taking my mind off the lost chicken and making rice, I managed to tear a 20 pound bag of Kohula Rose rice and spill at least 8 and a half pounds of it on me as I was putting it back on the top shelf of my pantry. I am sure I will be finding rice grains in unsightly places for at least a week.

I'm moving to Australia.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Conversations around here

Benja: I like the po-poh one!
Friend: I like it too. Say purple.
Benja: Po-poh!
Friend: Perrr-puuuuuul
Benja: Pooooooo-Poh!
Friend: Say, perp.
Benja: Pope
Friend: Hmm. Say, "LLLL!"
Benja: Ohhhhhh!
Friend: Oh never mind, let's just use lellow.

"Fweet! I'm ready for bed, so let's watch Nacho Libre and have some ice cream!"

My first indication that I've been allowing a much too loose interpretation of what bedtime means around here.

4 a.m.
Loud "whisper" from Benja: Mom give me yo awm!
Mom: ughnfntbrmb!
Benja: Mom!
Mom: Wha...?
Benja: Lemme see your watch, I need to know if it's time that I could get up.
Mom: ughnfntbrmb...
Benja: What!?
Mom: There's a clock on the nightstand, look at that one.
Benja: But I don't know how to tell time.

Friend: Oh, I've seen this movie, I loved it. I saw it at the movie bather.
Benja: The movie what!?
Friend: The movie bather.
Benja: Movie Feeeeeeeee-ay-toooooh

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Time When She Toured With P Diddy

This is Avee imitating me, trying to imitate a rapper's pose.

Yo I'm Avee B and here's my rhyme
one of the things I like to do
Is ride my big wheel all the time

Come to my crib, we'll party all day
With Elmo and Barney and even playdough
But don't be a fool yo--you'll do what I say

Let's kick it---Everywhere I go, I like to run
Even in pajamas through the neighbors yard
Wearing my brother's shoes is so much fun

Break it down--today by myself I got out of my bed
Mom took too long so I climbed out myself
And staggered to the kitchen like a hungover coed.

If you think this rhyme bites-yo
Talk to my manager cuz she's the one who thinks she's clever
I was just eating my cheerios.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For "S"

Okay, so my sister "S" is having a baby in like, less than 3 weeks. She uses this current gravid condition as a sort of weapon. The other night I got a message on my machine, "All right, if you don't call me back I'm coming down there and having my baby on your bathroom floor....the back bathroom, it's a lot more spacious."

Just a few weeks ago, my brother who drives a BRIGHT PURPLE VAN happened to be at a restuarant she and some classmates had gone to for their lunch break. S is the kind of girl who notices when an 18 inch shrub is missing from a lawn on a street she's driven down once in her life. So, when she walked right past my brother's purple van, without even acknowledging it, he was understandably perplexed. She bee-lined for her plate of salad and at the cashier, was told that her meal had been paid for. She had to take her direct gaze off the glistening garbanzos and pickled beets long enough to give the cashier an incredulous look and ask, "What!?" while she was actually thinking, "Who in the heck is picking up on an 8 month pregnant, ravenous, girl who can't take her eyes off the food and is wearing nurse's scrubs?" I have to say, when she told me the story over the phone, I was thinking the same. My thought was, "man there are some weird freaks out there..." nice that I thought that about someone doing something kind for my sister. Well, it turns out it was my brother, he's just that kind of person, and well, he was having a whale of a time watching S be oblivious to the world, enamored with her plate of salad.

The thing is, I get it, when I was pregnant with Benja, I had the same condition. I'm not the kind of girl who has much experience with the feeling of hunger. I tend to dance on the OTHER side of that spectrum. But, I also can go without eating without losing my mind. Except when I'm pregnant. This aspect of pregnancy caught me completely off guard and it was made known to all when I bit into the wrist of a much too slow waiter. J got to the point where he'd say, as we were walking to our table, "Please bring us some crackers immediately." So, S's tunnel vision after a full morning of clinicals, is completely understandable to me. But I'm sure from my brother's vantage point, it was very amusing.

But that's not really what I want to write about. However, I do suddenly feel like I could get some retaliation in from my youth...
One time I slipped and fell off of our deck when I was about 15 or 16 years old. It was the same day as the Christmas party at church. I really hurt my back and was in a lot of pain. I had to hold it very stiffly and walked in something quite unbecoming for a teenager in her prime. My sister slipped into the church before any of the rest of us and quickly told all my friends that I was really constipated and having a hard time with it and pretty embarrassed, so to try not to bring it up. A few minutes later, I come in, slowly, shuffling one foot trepidaciously in front of the other and the entire table of youth erupted in laughter. Clearly they were concerned with my feelings.

But I'm not going to bring that up. What I do want to talk about is motherhood. S has one child. He will be 13 in a few weeks. He brushes his own teeth, doesn't wear diapers, dresses himself, can even make himself a meal. She has clearly been out of the infant-toddler-why-why-why trenches MUCH too long to go into it without some help.

S is a natural with babies and children. When Benja was a newborn and did that thing, where they cry for no reason, and you don't know what to do, and you think you are going to lose your mind---she would take him from me, all hours of the day or night, and soothe him to being a calm pleasant little yoda-man again. So, I'm not worried about those kinds of things. But, I just feel compelled, as her sister and friend, to give some unsolicitated advice. Because that's what I live for. I'm going to give her a few suggestions, and then I'd like any contributions you can come up with as well.

1. One night you will be snuggling with your precious gem resting peacefully under your chin, fitting the entire length of her body on just a portion of your torso. Then, like two days later she will be rolling all over you trying to find the perfect spot to settle down her 22 month old body for a nap, and naturally, across your face is most comfortable. She'll say a few words and have one word to a favorite song she'll say over and over to try and get you to sing it to her for the 532nd time. Then, in maybe a week or two later, she'll be 3 and a half and whispering loudly, "what shall we talk about today mom? I tell you what, if you tell me the three little pigs story, I'll tell you the three little bears story---would you like that?" And you'll look over and still see the little yoda-baby who snuggled and didn't roll and didn't try to bargain when he should be sleeping. And the words coming out of the mouth will shock you. Over and over. Just brace yourself.

2. Your baby will poop more than you ever remember a baby pooping. And blow-out won't refer to tires or pre-teen angst anymore. And the word will make you stop cold and brace yourself and hope that whoever used the word, has forgotten what that means in the newborn world.

3. Everyone has an opinion and a story and they're inevitably better than yours. Mine for starters.

4. There are few things more tender than seeing your husband with your child. A bright man, accomplished in many ways, completely turning soft over newborn fists waving uncontrollably in the air, or thinking there must be some angle of the baby that hasn't been photographed yet.

5. Saying, "I grew up so I can be the boss of you" never loses appeal.

6. Dora, educational, annoying, addictive. Calliou, entertaining, great pointers for good parenting if you ever get desperate. A little nonsensical because he's 4 and bald and Rosie's a baby with a full head of hair. At least in my family, there's a consistent pattern of baldness until age 2. Sesame Street, never gets old. Teletubbies, a non-anesthesized lobotomy would be more pleasant. And you'd still come out knowing more than those d@*# tubs. Between the Lions--clever. Blue's Clues. Blue is sort of lame. Steve is awesome, but totally being phased out. Joe's okay, it's just hard to fill Steve's shoes. And well, some of us just can't get past him looking like a turtle-necked Fred Savage.

7. You work for HER. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better off you'll be.

8. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child should rest next to your bible. You will get a testimony of it if you use it.

9. You really do know best, even when you don't feel like you do.

10. Grandma's are priceless. Well, at least this baby's---I sure couldn't afford her!

11. You will hate buying diapers every time you have to.

12. I will tell you if you suffer from UBS*.

13. Shopping when you have a girl is a disease. You will need help to curb it, so save yourself some finance charges and get it.

14. Everything bratty and naughty you did when you were a girl WILL come back to haunt you just like mom said it would. If it didn't with your son, it will tenfold with your daughter. I'm only 19 months into mothering a daughter and I've seen a good 6 years worth of my sins pass before me...

15. David is way better with babies than he will let you think he is.

16. Texas soothes cholic like a charm. I've heard...

17. I can't believe I almost forgot. Prepare to never pee alone again. Well, at least for several years. Prepare for your bodily functions to be perfectly suitable conversation for any time, anywhere. Prepare for thought provoking questions like, "how does poop come out of you" and other things you just didn't think you had to know or be able to articulate as a mother. Prepare to be depantsed, de-shirted, and mauled, regularly.

Okay, maybe I better stop and get my own recovered cholic to bed before I see 6 more years worth of sins in one afternoon.

*UBS--Ugly Baby Syndrome. Don't call me rude, we all know ugly babies exist. None of ours of course...but there was even a Seinfeld episode about it, and we all know that lends all sorts of credibility to a subject. The syndrome comes from, well, the mom and dad not knowing they have an ugly baby. It's okay, most kids grow out of it. Most.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday Morning Is All

Well, I'm exhausted this morning. I was up all night, I just couldn't get the demise of the Spears-Federline marriage out of my head. In all honesty, I don't know how to process this, it's just devestated our home.
Okay, if I'm going to be rude like that, then I'll make a tiny little confession. I like Britney. I don't like her music, or even the image she has put out there for all the little pre-teen girls to emulate--or in some cases, the 5 year old neighbor girl to dress like on Halloween. Here's what a like. She's clearly a fighter. And, well, all the slack she's gotten as a parent---I can't help but notice, she's always HOLDING HER OWN CHILD. She almost drops him, because she's holding him. I fell once. No body guard to catch me, no paparazzi to cause it, holding my 21 month old, 9 months pregnant. Did you all see it on the cover of the tabloids? My children have fallen off of things no reasonable parent would let them be on. Her son falls out of a high chair and CPS is called and it's national news. Anyone who can deal with that crap and keep her head up, impresses me. Mostly I'm just impressed that she is her children's mom. I mean, the girl could afford someone to carry HER around for crying out loud.

Other news in photos:

Avee getting out of bed....

Actually, this is more like what her mom or
dad look like. She wakes up cheerful EVERY
morning and greets whoever retrieves her
with a very exuberant, "Hiiiiiiii!" and the best
morning hug ever. Of course, that is only after
a long monologue of how her night in the crib
went and what exactly is on the blankets in
her crib and how she feels about each.

And this morning I tried something new.
This is what Avee had for breakfast...

Not so unusual for her.

This is the cuteness I could just gobble up all day.

The girl barely has enough hair to
warrant a comb, let alone pigtails.
But I have waited about 29 years for
this day, and I'll be darned if I have
to wait another second.

And that's exactly what I told her
when she was yelling at me to stop
pulling on the few precious strands
of hair she has on her head.

And finally:
Dad gets mad and the kids get scolded when he sees this.

But the mom and the aunt just take pictures.

Here's hoping dad doesn't see this post...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pop Culture Meme

I've been working on this meme for a while. I got it from Millie I've concluded that I'm pop culturally illiterate and my embarrassing confessions are here for the world to see.

FAVORITE SONG INTRO: Probably anything Meatloaf. They are either catchy sounding and get me hyped, or they are completely, inexcusably ridiculous and I get a good laugh. Hot Summer's Night is one of the latter. Oh yeah, and most ABBA songs too.

FAVORITE MOVIE QUOTE: I could never choose one. Ones that come readily to mind, "Gopher, Everett?" "Damn, we're in a tight spot!" "Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity, 2 weeks from everywhere!" "It is a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart" All of those are from O Brother, Where Art Thou. A perfectly quotable movie. Wedding Singer, Steele Magnolias, and Napoleon Dynamite are the other most quotables in my book. "They were co-o-o-o-nes!" "My parents died when I was 12, would you like to bring that up too? No, why would I do that? I don't know." "Oh, he's such a gentleman, I bet he empties the sink before he pees in it!" "Oh Weeza, you know I love you more than my luggage." And finally, "Napoleon, like anyone can even know that." "...because you've been ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak." "I said come down here and see what happens if you try and hit me" "Yeah, it looks pretty sweet. It looks awesome. That suit, it's... it's incredible" "Tina, you fat lard, come get some DINNER!... Tina, eat. Food. Eat the FOOD! " "Easy, I've already looked into it for myself."

Um, is that excessive? I think so.

FAVORITE MUSICAL CHARACTER: I saw Reba on Broadway doing Annie Get Your Gun. Until that point, although a HUGE Reba fan in my youth, I had yet to be impressed by her acting. I was impressed with this. I fell in love with the character. My 3 and a half year old sings, "Anything I can do you can do better..."
I do love Maria---how can you help but to love her!
I also can't watch My Fair Lady enough, I love Eliza.

FAVORITE 80'S SONG: So, this may have been the 90's, I can't remember. Every year my hometown has a Labor Day weekend Festival/Carnival thingy. I was probably in 6th or 7th grade and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" came over a loud speaker. There was a STAMPEDE, I kid you not, of teenage girls, 12-16 years old. I have no idea where they were running to---the speakers? It was the most insane thing I had seen up to that point in my life, and still ranks high, two decades later. That song was so catchy, but so naughty. In the 80's I was even more pop culturally illiterate. I liked Tiffany, New Kids on The Block, and Whitney Houston. Whitney was so awesome before Bobby and "Crack is wack!"

FAVORITE HAIR BAND: I loved Poison. And Bon Jovi. I still love Bon Jovi. I don't know why.

FAVORITE REALITY SERIES: I used to really get into the Bachelor, but I just can't do it anymore. There was this show called "Joe Schmo" I think they only did it once. It is one of the very few shows in mine and J's marriage where we cleared our schedule to watch it. I got in on "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" by accident once, I thought the premise was lame, and one lonely night, ended up watching it. I have NEVER laughed so hard at tv, as I did at that. The actor fiance was HILARIOUS. Now I like the Home Makeover shows and that wife swap stuff because there's always a crazy person on, and I love watching crazy people.

WORST CELEBRITY NICKNAME EVER: So, the first time I ever heard J.Lo, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. But now, it's so mainstream, it doesn't even register in my mind as odd. But I still get a huge kick out of people who imitate it with their own names. For some reason, that never gets old for me.

T, I'm tagging you because well, I'm interested. :)

Highlights from the weekend

I went on a hot date with J for some yummy Pho and then watched Invincible. Both J and I knew months ago when we saw the preview for it, it would be an enjoyable movie. I'm a sucker for those based on a true story, rise from the ashes stories. Okay, probably not rise from the ashes, but man I love that phrase ever since Martina McBride sang about it.

It was every bit as enjoyable as we hoped, and more. Around the same moment that I was wishing I wasn't so full from Pho and could enjoy the Halloween candy I had smuggled in, and was thinking, "man this is a good script", J leaned over and said, "this isn't just a good story, it's good directing." So, we were pleased with the $3 total we spent to see that movie, Dots and Hot Tamale covered floor included in that price.

We enjoyed some of Benja's newly acquired reasoning skills combined with some 3 year old logic. In a conversation about Halloween candy, how mom wanted to throw all of it away, and how dad innately felt that was a violation of every childhood code known to man and Benja didn't care what either of us thought if he could just have that bag of sour Skittles please. We explained to him that too much candy could very well make him sick and that was why we were limiting it. I really don't think it's any of his business right now that his sugar highs make me want to jump off a short building into bushes that trap me and make me take a 4 hour nap without any interruptions. So Ben reasoned, "Well, it's okay if I have too much candy and get a little sick, I can just eat some ice cream and that will feel me bettoh." Yes, yes, I see that he has taken a chapter from my book of how to effectively tear apart your ailing body, but be true to your impulsive cravings.

One of the sickest I have ever been in my adult life, was nearly 6 years ago, two days before I fell in love with J. I was so sick I went to a doctor, something I had never done before. I had been to doctors, just not for being sick---mostly for being a hypochondriac. He loaded me up with drugs and while I was getting the prescriptions filled, I raided the candy aisle at Walgreens. For two days I slept nearly nonstop and rolled over only long enough to self-medicate with some Twizzlers, Laffy Taffy's, or Smarties---oh, and to take my real medicine. I have no idea why I did that. I knew better. And even today, if my mom reads this post, I will probably get a tsk-tsk phone call. I mean, really---it's just ridiculous that I did that, but in retrospect, it's just made me a better mom. I get it when Ben suggest self-medicating with ice cream.

Just now Benja called from the other room, "Mom can I have this?" I answered, "If it's candy, the answer is no." He responded, "But if it's ice cream, the answer is yes!"

J found a new carpet cleaning product that has changed his entire outlook on life. You might think I'm exaggerating, but all I have to say is "Crystal Dry" and he does a little jig like Rumpelstiltskin the night before all his dreams are shattered. You can read about it here. I make no claims that he doesn't love Star Trek...

Avee broke a record this weekend of yelling "Go-way!" and "No-way!" more than any other human being has in a 24 hour period. Most of the time it wasn't even the appropriate response, and she uses them interchangeably, but I understand her need to assert herself as a woman....who is having her diaper changed. At one point this weekend she hollered it at a cousin who came within a 4 foot perimeter of her precious chocolate. Rather than deal with any misunderstanding as to who's candy it was and who's table it was on, and who's air he was breathing, she just yelled "GO-WAY!" He stared incredulously, and if a nearly-five-year-old could articulate such thoughts, he might have said, "I thought we were friends Avee." This is the cousin who plays goofy games with her tirelessly just to hear her giggle. And this is what he gets in return? I did hear him say twice, in disbelief, "Are you saying go away to ME!?" Avery didn't answer because she's been taught not to talk with chocolate in her mouth.

In exactly 10 days and 5 and a half hours we are going on vacation to spend Thanksgiving with my brother's family and I'm going to see THEM and meet HER and HER. Try not to be jealous. Unless you are one of these people, then you can be jealous---but that's just weird. I'm really looking forward to this. It is a week full of very cool people and NO WORK. I really just hope no one disappoints me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oh, it's the Halloween Post and then some

It's as though we didn't even celebrate Halloween. Well, we didn't. It takes a lot to get us to celebrate around here, but we DID go trunk-or-treating and trick-or-treating. I had the delightful pleasure of "following" behind a lady who "crashed" the church trunk-or-treat she-bang, let's see if I can get anymore hyphenated words in-here. There. Anyway, she kept saying "Trink-or-treat!" and I laughed every single time. Mature? No, I'm not.

Any post within a week of Halloween would not be complete without pictures of Fpido-man and the Petite Lion. The temperature dropped dramatically here in Texas on All Hallow's Eve and well, the 3 year old resident Petoh Pawkoh ended up looking like he was recovering from a bad lap-band surgery. But boy did he have fun. I don't think the wonder EVER ceased for him--to open his bag and get candy dropped in every time. I wish there was some kind of magical holiday like that for grownups. He gets limited on his sugar intake, and sure as heck doesn't get to go knock on people's doors and ask for it, or get recognized as Spiderman every time and then be gladly given a handful of candy. Perhaps the adult version would be something like, "What, your water pump is defective? Well here, how about a new car altogether. One that was made in the same decade in which you are driving it. By the way, that v-neck you are wearing is adorable---could you be any cuter, here, have some Rolos while you wait..." Yeah, I could go for that.

So, Avee spent that night getting cheetos caught in her lion's mane, screeching at anyone who didn't open her tootsie pop fast enough, and plopping down on the nearest slab of concrete to unwrap her most recent acquisition. (This was on our way home when the mane of Avee's costume climbed off her head and tried to eat her face---I have no fear that anyone will ever be able to take advantage of this girl in any way for any reason at any time. Her objectionary screams rivaled the weekly tornado drill sirens)

In other news, I feel that a great big family thank you is overdue to our friend No Cool Story.
A while ago she posted about Abuelita and she's mentioned it a couple of times in her very cool blog. It's Mexican hot chocolate. I like Mexican. I like chocolate. We bought some. It was so good.

I had it for the first time when J was out of town. So when he was home, I said, "Yo J, want me to make you some hot chocolate?" He dismissed me with a wave of his hand. I tried again, "It's Mexican hot chocolate..." His eyebrows raised. "It has cinnamon in it too..."
"Okay," he says, "I'll try anything once." So I made him some. That was two and a half weeks ago. We have two packages of Abuelita in our cupboard (for the lean times) and we've gone through two packages already. Jay's exact quote was, "I can't believe I've lived 29 years without this in my life." I think he said something similar to that when he met me. Just change the age and the word "this".

So, we love it. It is muy bien. I have proof of Avee's love of it, and Benja has nursed two pints of it in a sports bottle, all morning. It goes well with his funsize candy bars and fruity blowpops. We have a really cool hot chocolate maker, which is especially cool for Benja because he can dispense the liquid heaven himself. And he has. So, gracias NCS, and the Mexican culture as a whole.

Oh yeah, and since my life is consumed by talk of Spiderman and Peter Parker, I can't help but include such obsession on the blog.

It took Benja some time to figure out that Spiderman was a superhero and that Peter Parker was his alter ego. I mean "alter ego" in and of itself is a difficult term for a 3 year old. Okay, we didn't teach him that phrase, but we had countless conversations about who Spidey was and who PP was, etc, etc. Well, now he's got it. He knows what things Spidey says, and what things Peter says, and that Spidey can't kiss with his mask on and that Peter can't fly off of the tops of buildings without his suit---or his mojo, for that matter. He knows that Peter is "a man and if you punch him, he'll bleed."

Recently we've been discussing a lot about when I was a little girl. J and I often will say things we loved or did when we were little and Benja has really become interested in that. Conversations often go "Did you like that when you were a little boy like me?" and I'll explain that I was never a boy and won't ever be a boy. Other times he'll ask if when he's grown up and is a girl, etc, etc. And the same discussion ensues. I think he gets it now. However, I've been telling him how Grandma was my mom when I was little. He has just started distinguishing between the grandmas by calling them "The one with golden hair" and "Uncle Sam's mom". He can't be bothered by surnames.

It's amazing how complex things can get the older and older you get. Just a year ago he had no idea that Grandma wasn't everyone's Grandma, particularly not mine. And that the name didn't apply to all nice older women who like to hug and kiss you and read you books. And of course life was always as it was right in the moment. Benja was never a baby and certainly didn't have aspirations of growing up to be a daddy. And the crazy talk of mom never being a boy? Unheard of in aught-five!

So, given all this new information and the things he's processing and assimilating, do you think it's bad that I want to tell him that Peter Parker is actually Tobey McQuire who was also Red from Seabiscuit? I mean, it's my job to keep the boy informed, right?