Friday, May 29, 2009

The Popcorn King

My dad makes the best popcorn. When I was younger, watching him make popcorn was an event. You know why non-microwave popcorn is so good? It never burns. And you can use real butter. When my dad made popcorn I loved to watch and participate in the following:

1. The popcorn exploding and then soaring out into our large aluminum mixing bowl was exciting enough. I also got to...

2. watch the butter mysteriously melt in the cup that sat atop the popcorn popper.

3. My dad then allowed me to spin the aluminum mixing bowl as he drizzled the butter onto the popcorn. He always achieved a perfect popcorn/butter ratio.

4. Then he quickly put salt in... never too much. You can't tell his popcorn is salty, but you would miss the salt if it wasn't there. He's that good.

5. The most thrilling part was when my dad picked up the bowl and tossed the popcorn so that the salt and butter would be distributed evenly. My dad is to popcorn tossing what great pizza chefs are to pizza dough tossing.

Then we sat on the couch and ate. Yummy.

So yesterday was a drizzly day and I had a hankering for popcorn. I called the boys over so they could participate in the popcorn making experience; perhaps we could even start a family tradition! I added the popcorn into our machine. I lost our little plastic butter cup (probably during the great move of 2008) so I perched a small Corelle bowl precariously atop the popcorn maker. I put my own large aluminum mixing bowl beneath the popcorn popper to catch the kernels and then turned the machine on. The kids watched with eager eyes and were startled when the popcorn began to, well, pop. When it was done, I had to nuke the rest of the butter because it hadn't quite melted. I allowed the two older boys to spin the bowl on the table while I put the butter atop the popcorn. Then I added the salt. Finally, I had the kids stand back so I could toss the popcorn, the final step before popcorn eating bliss!!!

We spent the next five minutes picking popcorn up off the floor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chubby or Bald?

Yesterday I received confirmation that I was not going bald. This has been a long-term fear of mine. In fact, perhaps my best friends growing up remember my incessant worrying over the matter. I think Christine snapped at me once. My neuroses was and still is fairly annoying. She was actually quite patient with me, actually, especially when I went through my "I'm going to die of melanoma cancer" phase. I'm pretty sure she said, "Probably! But not today." Then we walked to Wegmans and stole donuts. But that's a story for another day...

Both of my best friends had beautiful, long, straight hair. Lydia's was shiny and healthy looking EVEN THOUGH SHE PUT SUN-IN in it for I don't know how many years. I can't even highlight my hair without making it brittle and untouchable.

I had frizzy, half curly, half wavy hair. Still do. I passionately detested the unruly mop upon my head. It does seem kinda paradoxical that I was so highly concerned about losing it. I really really was, though. Everytime I pulled a fistful of hair from my brush, I was sure it was the beginning of the end. I read about alopecia and other hair loss disorders. I should've been worrying about my math grade.

You will be shocked to find out that my hypochondric (is that a word?) paranoias have become a reality. For the past two months, I have lost at least 1/3 of my hair. My surgeon and my primary physician said it was related to stress. I said, I don't feel that stressed out. They said, you might not FEEL stressed out, but you are. I said, really is that so. They said yes.

They were full of doo-doo.

My thyroid has gone kerplooey. It is hyper. I had a rebellious gallbladder, and now I have a hyper thyroid. Next thing you know, my appendix will want to fly south for the winter. My eyes might decide to become lazy. GOD FORBID my digestive system goes rogue.

Having a hyperactive thyroid is like being on speed. You can't see me, but I am typing like Clark Kent would if he wasn't pretending to be human. I have lost five pounds in a week WITHOUT diet or exercise. My hair is falling out. It continues to fall out. My heart beats fast. I shake a lot. I look pretty awful and appear more neurotic than ever. I don't sleep, I don't feel hungry, and I don't want to do anything although I feel jittery and uneasy about not doing anything. What a conundrum.

Now when I take the medicine to fix myself, I will probably gain back a lot of the weight I lost when I was not dieting or exercising. This is bad news. I like being thinner. I like that I can fit into a dress I wore my second year of college. I like that my son Ben says, "You're a skinny lady." Heck, I could wear a wig and deal with the insomnia if it meant being thin without diet or exercise. So there's the question.... chubby or bald and crazy?

My brother's imaginary childhood friend Cory tells me to mull it over a bit. Josh, you'd be surprised to know that that kid just doesn't age.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let go of my Mojo

My little slumdogs. Tell me
it doesn't look like she has
slumdog millionaire-girl hair. AND
he's 2! Shouldn't he be done drooling
at this point?

Last night, John and I watched Slumdog Millionaire. I had to trade him a movie in order to get him to watch it with me. Soon I will have to watch No Country for Old Men, a movie based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, a man whose novels and movies I generally avoid on principle.

Before the opening credits, the 21st Century Fox music filled the room. As it was playing, there was the sudden pitter-patter of little feet up scurrying to the top of the stairs. John immediately knew what was going on. "They think we're watching Star Wars," he said. If you do not think of the Star Wars theme right after you hear the 21st Century Fox music, I'm afraid the force is probably not with you.

We had to explain to Caleb that no, we weren't watching Star Wars without him, that we do not generally wait until he goes to bed to watch Star Wars, and WHY THE HECK WAS HE STILL AWAKE ANYWAYS? He seemed appeased and actually appeared a bit sheepish. He promptly went to sleep.

After the 21st Century Fox music came the Warner Brothers Music, which is really the music to "As Time Goes By." Ella started squacking in her crib because SHE though we were watching Casablanca without her. She has a thing for Humphrey Bogart. I know this because she often babbles "Bogie bogie bogie bogie..."

This weekend, we took our annual treck out to Medina to say hello to the very blue Thomas the Tank Engine. John took the boys on the train ride while I sat with Ella in the van, where she snoozed peacefully. Then the worst thing happened. The horrible thing I hoped would never happen. I locked my baby girl in the car on a muggy, sunshine-filled day.

You know what I learned from that experience? That it is positively frightening how fast the police are able to break into our mini-van. Ella never woke up. The staff from A Day Out at Thomas and the police were so efficient that I didn't even have time to cling to the window of the van and choke out remorseful sobs of woe. It was amazing and I am extremely grateful to them.

After we hobnobbed with Thomas, Sir Topham Hat, and the Medina police department, we ventured off to Rudy's diner in downtown Medina. John ordered a Mojo burger, the diner's specialty. On the wall, the waitstaff has written the names of those who have finished what we thought were five Mojo burgers in a row. Turns out you get your name written on the wall if you finish ONE Mojo burger. You get a t-shirt if you eat five. You don't even have to eat them on the same day! In fact, I think it's illegal in the state of New York to eat more than one in the same day.

The burger came and was quite large. As the waitress approached our table, a hush fell over the diner. "Oooooh... he ordered the Mojo!" we heard people murmur. John felt pressure to finish it, which he did, and I'm hoping he'll wake up from the coma brought on by the pound of beef he ingested within a couple of days.

Daniel also ate a Mojo burger. And a grilled cheese sandwich, a large shake, and some fries. He's a growing boy, you know.

Ben had something else on his mind.
Can you guess it was?

1/2 pure Mojo

Look! John's famous! The circle drawing next to his name is not the Greek symbol Theta, but a depiction of a burger. And I don't know who Mike Boorom is, but I do know one thing.

He's kind of a pig.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Vandals I Live With

I am living with pint-sized vandals. They are destructive, they are ruthless, they are headstrong, they are 2.

Yesterday alone they scribbled marker all over my cabinets, dumped a box of cheerioes on the dining room carpet and then danced the cha-cha on them, pulled all of Ella's clothes out of her dresser, threw blocks down the stairs, and dumped almost half of their bathwater onto the floor. That one ticked me off the most because my socks got wet. There is nothing worse than wet socks.

They work as a team. They seem to feed off one another's mischievious natures. I swear to you that Daniel says to Ella, "Hey! I know what lets do! I'll make one of those really messy poops where mom has to work for a while to get all the poop particles off my butt, and while she is changing my diaper, you climb onto the mantel, pull the woodburning stove door open, and dump ashes all over the floor. Make sure to put some in your hair too. And your pockets! We should save some for later."

We spent the early-afternoon yesterday at the Strong Museum of Play with our speech therapist, Jessica. I have heard tales of children who have been separated from their parents at the museum and have survived for weeks on their own by glomming onto a gaggle of school children in order to eat their food. They then curl up to sleep in Big Bird's nest at night. Not a bad life, really.

The place is a maze. And I believe the schoolchildren who are there on field trips are imported from The School of the Hyper and Overactive Giant, which is located, I think, in Pittsford, not too far from the Harley School. Jessica, God love her, called after those gargantuan elementary schoolers (Watch out for the little ones! Tell your friends!) when they nearly trampled my enthusiastic two year-olds (who were dying to get away from us and join them.) I don't think they did. Tell their friends, I mean.

Daniel, Ben, and Ella fell asleep in the car on the way home, and all three supposed that was going to be their nap for the day. But I am evil and forced them to go to bed against their wishes, for I had an weighty article to write entitled "Gifts Giving Ideas for the Manly Man!" I am very busy and important, you know.

After their bath, the one that resulted in a minor Noah's Arc like flood, Ella wouldn't stop screaming because she had horrific diaper rash which the bath water apparently did not help to alleviate. Perhaps that's why she was dumping it out.

I wrapped her up in her towel, put cream on her hiney (I spend a good portion of the day dealing with their hineys) and read her the classic tale, Where is Baby's Bellybutton? This cheered her up significantly. There is nothing Ella loves more than showing people her own belly button. I am hoping her belly button exhibitions come to an end before she is school-aged.

I combed her hair, held her close, and put her in her crib, taking in one last breath of clean, soft baby skin. She may be a pint-sized delinquent, but she and her co-conspirator in crime, they are thankfully all mine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Happy Mother's Week

Table with Mother and Child
Artist: Caleb Jennings

The mother, left, provides her son food. The son, who eagerly reaches for the provisions, loves his mother for providing him with sustenance. The contemporary design of the table is a throwback to minamalism, but the narrative in the piece is telling. The table's simplicity and functionality are augmented by the careful placement of the oversized strawberry, a favorite food of the artist's.

I love Mother's Week. What? You only have a Mother's Day? Oh, I pity you. I also have a birthday week. It's a marvelous thing, the expansion of holidays. Yes, my birthday is a holiday.

Mother's Week kicked off Thursday when I was lying in bed feeling very sorry for myself even while doped up on vicodin. Benjamin's pre-school teacher had kindly brought him home in the late morning and Ben immediately came straight upstairs to give me flowers he had planted in a lovely container. Also in the container was a craft stick with Ben's picture adhered to a cut-out of a flower. He promptly showed me the dirt under his fingernails as a sign of authentication. He then put the flowers on my nightstand, sat gingerly next to me and said in a soft voice, "Let's watch them grow now."

Surprise surprise, Caleb ALSO brought home a plant for me! (If you read my previous post about gardening, you must be reassured that I have placed my fledling plants in a spot where they get adequate sun. Caleb also reminds me daily to water them. He knows my track record with plants.) By mid-Mother's Week, I had accumulated quite a lot of foliage.

Caleb also brought home an essay he wrote about me in honor of Mother's Week. It reads as follows:

My name is Caleb. My Mom's favorite activity is exercising. My
Mom's favorite food is pizza. My Mom's favorite color is blue. My Mom
is 10 inches tall. My Mom is the best at reading to me. My Mom thinks
it's fun to watch T.V. My Mom shows how much she loves me by giving
me hugs.

As if this wasn't enough, he also wrote and illustrated a book all about me! It's not To Kill a Mockingbird, but I was riveted:

I love my mom because she givs me food. I love my mom because she
reds a book to me. I love my mom because she helps me. I love my
mom because she tax me plasis.

I believe the strategy in Caleb's classroom is to just get comfortable writing and sounding out words. CORRECTING misspelled words will probably come around the third grade or so.

Daniel and Ella have not yet produced a gift, provided a story or a poem, or even one of those coupon books good for a free "I'll go on the potty this time" or "I won't be a complete grouchy stinker-pants when I wake up from my nap today." But the week isn't over yet!

And, yes, I will cherish Caleb's writings about me for always and ever and will have them buried with me when I die (yeah- I'm that kind of crazy), although I am a bit concerned that he thinks me a ten-inch person who enjoys exercise. He was dead on about the pizza and the tv, though.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Holly-goes-even-more-light-ly without that gallbladder weighing her down

Here it is, the gory details of the final showdown between me and my diseased gallbladder.

We arrived on time at the hospital and checked in with a young man who was wearing scrubs, thick glasses, and a dour expression. He handed us a restaurant pager. He was professional to a fault. When John asked if the hospital had recently merged with Applebees, he stated they had and continued with his explicit instructions. He never once cracked a smile.

Shortly thereafter, our pager simultaneously buzzed, vibrated, and lit up as a woman called us to her cubicle. We filled out the requisite paperwork for my admission as she collected the all-important co-pay. Here is the conversation we had with her:

Nice lady: You have a $50 co-pay.
Holly: Really? I thought it was $100.
Nice lady: If you stayed overnight, it would be $100, but since this is a same-day procedure, it's only $50.
John: And if you catch swine flu, it's free!
Nice lady: No, no, no, no! He's joking... right?

I was then taken to the pre-op room where I was told to completely undress and put on a lovely blue hospital parachute thing. The nurse opened the curtain too soon and the entire pre-op ward saw my white tuckus, but I'm cool with that. Really.

The nurse stuck the i.v. in and the anesthesiologist explained his most important role in the process. He gave me some "relaxing medication" and then told me how becoming I looked in my parachute. I made goo-goo eyes at him and then we made plans to run away together to Tahiti. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

The rest went by fast. They were wheeling me down the hall when I remembered to ask my nurse whether or not I could keep my gallstones. She said they weren't allowed to do that any longer. The anesthesiologist piped in about how lawyers were always ruining everyone's fun blah blah blah. I remember feeling irate and I began insisting that they were MY gallstones and I had a RIGHT to see them and put them in a jar and take them home and name them all George if I so desired. It was at this point that someone shoved a mask over my face and told me to breathe deeply. I didn't even fade out. I was just... not there any longer.

The next part is straight out of a Steven King novel. Continue reading at your own risk. I awoke, suddenly, alone in the recovery room, in intense pain. There were no loving eyes peering down at me, no gentle soul was holding my hand, welcoming me back to the land of the living... there was only flourescent lights and the sound of sports center coming from the next curtain over. I was unable to move my legs and I could not talk! (At least not very loud.) They had warned me they would put a breathing tube down my throat. They had destroyed my talking apparatus!!! Nurses were walking in front of me and I COULD NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THEM!!! Finally someone noticed me and put something in my i.v. to ease the pain. This was probably like five hours later.

They wouldn't let me go home until I went pee. It had to be a certain amount of pee. I tried hard: I thought of Niagara Falls, let the faucet drip for inspiration, drank lots of water even though I felt like puking, all because I just wanted to get home and into my own bed. But I could not maketh the peeth cometh.

I've found that when all else fails, whining generally gets me what I want. "I just waaant to goooo hooome...."

The trick is to whine in a pathetic, bleating, almost crying sort of way and not in an annoying "I'm a spoiled brat" kind of way. It takes practice to perfect.

They let me go home. We had to pull over once so I could puke up water and bile. The next 24 hours were difficult. Three days later, I feel a lot better, though it really hurts to laugh, cough, yawn, and hiccup. I had one false hiccup alarm earlier today. Thankfully, it seemed to be just a rogue hiccup without any followers.

I still haven't peed, however.

Just kidding.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Goggy and Surgery Update

While my husband and son were galavanting about in Toronto, the pooky-faced goggy Ginger was sold to another family. I had disconcerting flashbacks to a year ago when we bid on a house we had fallen in love only to lose it to a family of vultures. (I don't think vultures should get mortgage approval, either.) It feels like a kick in the gut, or that might be my gallstones, I don't know, but I'm a little sad because I was falling in love with the idea of having that adorable spaniel around.

I appreciate the advice from those of you who have experience as goggy-owners. Thank you Julie and Laura! I appreciate your honesty and your different points of view. We will continue to be on the lookout for a goggy in need of a loving home who is young, already housebroken, great with kids, and who doesn't shed too much. Because my specifications are so... specific... the chance of this happening anytime soon is slim to unlikely. Everyone party needs a pooper that's why my family has me. The pooper who hates poop.

I have other things on my plate anyway. Like twins in their terrible twos, writing projects, t-ball practices, and the removal of my gallbladder tomorrow at 11.30am. Ohhhh, I could've taken the goggy to t-ball practice.

About my surgery....

I was under what I now see is a ridiculous impression that the surgeon would be cutting my gallbladder up with a laser and then sucking it out with a vacuum-like apparatus through an incision in my abdomen. I may have gotten this idea from a dream I had, I'm not sure. However, there will no lasers in this laparoscopic procedure; the gallbladder is actually flattened until it is small enough to squeeze through the above-mentioned incision. I don't believe any suckage is involved either, which I am actually a little bummed about, because I had been planning to give my doc the go-ahead to suck out any fat in that general vicinity so I could stop doing so many crunches.

I have anxiety about this whole procedure, which I know is normal. I've never had anesthesia before, not even when I had all four of my wisdom teeth out at once. Just novocaine. To save money. I was very, very brave. If I could go back, I would not do it that way again.

My greatest anxiety is so freaking ridiculous I shouldn't even write it down. I don't like the idea of people working on me while I'm asleep. I'd much rather be awake, listening to some music. I think sleeping is private business, like binging on ice cream or looking at soap-opera magazines. I don't want people watching me while I sleep! That's weird! I certainly don't want people fooling around with my internal organs while I'm sleeping!

I end this post with a conversation I had with Ben about my surgery.

Me: Honey, tomorrow mommy's not going to be at home because she has to go to the doctor. Miss Janet is going to come stay with you while the doctor fixes my... why are you laughing?

Ben: I'm so happy!

Me: Why are you so happy?

Ben: Miss Janet is coming to play with me!

Me: Ben, focus. I need to tell you what's going on. Tomorrow, mommy is going into the hospital and the doctor is going to fix me so my tummy doesn't hurt anymore. I'll come home later and... why are you laughing?

Ben, with glee: I just can't wait for Miss Janet to come!

Me: Oh for the love of God. I'll have Miss Janet explain it to you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Caleb's Piano Recital

Tonight was Caleb's "Pops" piano recital. "Pops" as in popular music, not as in popsicles, as some three year olds might infer. This evening, I listened to talented and not-so-talented children of various ages perform a wide range of musical selections.If you haven't been to an amateur piano recital recently (or ever) let me tell you what you are missing out on. Here were some of my thoughts about the performances:

I listened to an extremely speedy version of Eleanor Rigby. In fact, it got faster and faster as it progressed, lending a certain panicky aspect to the song that made me want to get up and run out of the sanctuary, picking up imaginary rice as I scurried out to die alone. (It's a very upbeat song.)

I listened to TWO different Star Wars themes: the main theme, and the Imperial March. This bored me because the Imperial March is the latest tune Ben sings while on the toilet, so I hear it several times a day.

One talented thirteen year old played a medley from the Phantom of the Opera. This is an excellent song choice for raucous piano students who enjoy pounding on the keyboard. As he played the main theme, I could totally tell he wanted to skip all the gooey love songs in the middle and me thought to meself, pound away, my friend, and I will provide that high note at the end.

One young man played James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover." Really. He was thirteen. (I know!)

One little girl played "Take me Out to the Ballgame." This was toward the beginning of the recital, actually, and was not even close to the seven-inning stretch.

Caleb played the most popular song of all, "Old MacDonald." This is actually an appropriate song. When he was one years of age, he would sing eeee iiiii eeee iiiii ohhhhh! in perfect pitch randomly throughout the day or suddenly, in the dead of night... He sang these vowels before he spoke any words.

Caleb also took to calling McDonalds Restaurant "Old MacDonald's Restaurant." He still calls it that, actually. I never corrected him. He's going to be seventeen one day and his buddies are going to ask him if he wants to grab a burger and he's going to say, let's go to Old MacDonald's, and they're going to look at him funny.

Caleb is a recital pro. He marches up without fear and plays with confidence. He doesn't get sweaty hands while he waits his turn (like his mother used to... she also used to shred toilet paper and get nervous hiccups) and he doesn't get upset if he makes a mistake. He concentrates and continues and takes an exacting bow when finished. And he always greets me with a grin afterwards because he knows we're gonna grab some ice cream. (I only had a bite, of course, because the rocks in my tummy are causing me grief today.)

I enjoyed watching Caleb enjoy his Heavenly Hash ice cream- with chocolate syrup and cool whip and oh Lord I wanted some more really bad- and am as always, very, very proud of him. Perhaps we should get him a dog. He deserves it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

To Get a Goggy or not to get a Goggy... This is the Question!

I think I have made myself abundantly clear on the matter. NO DOG until the twins are potty-trained. And I have gotten FLACK for this position. Namely, from my husband and his shifty co-conspirator, his own father, the honorable pastor, who IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN has suggested we get a dog.

Of course the children would love a dog. When we pull into my in-laws' driveway, Daniel waves his chubby arms up and down and says "goggy goggy goggy goggy!!!" (Did I mention he is in speech therapy?) If we are in the backyard and he hears a dog barking in the distance, he perks his little ears like a deer being hunted and makes a short little gasping sound followed by a quiet... "goggy?"

John called me on the phone yesterday and said, "You're going to say no at first, but hear me out." Then I had to get the door or something and I completely forgot about him. TWENTY MINUTES LATER I heard his voice coming from the phone receiver. What a weirdo. I totally would have hung up on me.

Since I had forgotten about him, I felt obligated to listen to his tale of woe. The short story is that there's a goggy, a pure-bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in need of a home. Apparently, this is the world's perfect dog for children (of course it is!) and has a little pooky cute face that you just want to love on. Against my better judgment, I am posting her picture. Her name is Ginger...

Reasons I don't want a dog:
  • Poop. Poop. Poop. I have been dealing in the s-word for the past six years without a break. I don't want to pick up poop out of the yard every day. Even if it's small spaniel poop. I just don't.
  • Poop.
  • Cost- the thing needs to be groomed, fed, watered, taken to the vet. Expensive!
  • Do you want to babysit my dog when we go away on vacation? I didn't think so.
  • Poop.
  • You're going to die. I'm going to die. We're all going to die. The dog is going to die, sooner rather than later. This is sad. I hate sad. I avoid it when possible.
  • The s-word.

Reasons to get a dog:

  • Daniel
  • Caleb
  • Ben
  • Ella
  • John

John says, "At least meet the dog." Really? That's fair? I make a definitive statement about my position and now you're dragging me to look at the little furball pooky face?

Your input would be appreciated.