Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day


If you decide to have kids, there will come a day when one of them throws up all over you.

This is a fact.  I wish it wasn’t so.  You should know this before you have children so you can change your mind and get something a little less high maintenance.  Say, a newt.

And while you, stunned, step back and assess the damage done to your shirt, pants, and yes, even socks, the dog will attack you with a hungry look in her eyes, as if you were made of bacon and not soggy clothing covered with regurgitated oatmeal.  In that moment you will think to yourself, I do not understand dog culture.

Your child will cry, of course, the same way you can’t help but cry when you throw up, albeit in the toilet where you’re supposed to throw up, and you will feel compelled to comfort him, even though there is not once ounce of throw up on his clothing and his socks are not wet and he is going to have a lazy day of sitting in front of the television and cuddling with his stuffed doggie, who smells like cheese but who are you to judge.  The stuffed doggie will probably get thrown up on, even though you have given your child a bowl, your large silver mixing bowl you made chocolate chip cookies in last week and probably will again next week, too.

But you won’t think about that right now.

While your child lounges and demands gingerale, you, of course, will be doing laundry and complaining about your predicament to your husband, who got out of a meeting to answer your 911 phone call.

“You did this!” you will yell.  “I wanted a newt.”

And he will have the audacity to suggest this isn’t the way it went at all.

You will strip down to you underwear right there in the kitchen, then scoop up your child like a sack of potatoes and get him out of ground zero territory.  Unfortunately, you will turn to view your dog- who is a complete and total idiot, by the way- licking vomit from the kitchen floor with delight.  And in a moment of shame, you think you’ll let her finish, because then you will not have to scoop up barf with cheap paper towels.  You bought cheap paper towels because it seemed prudent at the time.

It does not seem prudent now.

Of course, you are not that person, so you drag your very disappointed dog and put her outside, where she runs in circles in the snow over and over and over again, happily, seemingly nourished.

After setting your child up with bowl, blanket, doggie, and television show, you will clean up ground zero, wash yourself off with wipies, and put on a bathrobe with the intention of taking the world’s fastest shower.  Of course the doorbell rings., and you can’t ignore it because your precocious daughter has opened the door despite multiple warnings about monsters occasionally ringing doorbells in order to feast on silly little girls stupid enough to answer.  Your daughter laughs at this story.  I’m serious!  You insist.  Silly mommy, she says. 

It’s a teenage girl.  She says, “I’m collecting money.  My youth group is going to fast for 48 hours to, you know, see what it’s like?  And we’re raising money.”  So you will fling a $10 bill her way and tell her she’s ridiculous- there are some people in the world who love to eat only to puke once the food reaches their gut, but fine.  Go be hungry for a while. 

You won’t really say that.  You will be pleasant and hospitable, in your husband’s Hugh Hefner bathrobe.

You will wonder why she’s not in school.

The shower won't happen because you are afraid the minute you turn the shower head on will be the moment your small child chokes on his own vomit, so you curl up on the sofa next to him, stroking his cheek until he falls into a blissful slumber.  And even though your daughter is no longer watching the television, you don’t turn it off.  You are quite certain that The Fresh Beat Band is as good as any pop group out there.  Better than Katy Perry, for sure.

Your will child begin to snore, loudly.  So loud, in fact, that he will wake himself up, start choking, eventually puking all over his doggie, who now smells less like cheese and more like vomit.

And you will remember that it’s Leap Day, which is really rather fantastic.  A year from now, you can look back and say to yourself, “this day never happened.  It never happened at all.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Can

I gave up sugar for lent. (Refined sugar, icky sugary processed foods. The really bad stuff.) Then there was cake and I may have indulged.

I’m not saying God smote me with cholera because I broke my Lenten promise, but I am saying it’s a slight to very real possibility. The cholera is one good way to expunge all the sugar from one’s body. Good grief.

There are far too many moments I tell myself I can’t.

I can’t keep up.

I can’t be happy.

I can’t stop craving sugary processed foods. I can’t.

I can’t run a 5K, let alone some type of marathon.

I can’t be a good mom to my wonderful kids.

I can’t keep promises to God, let alone to others.


And then God smites me with the cholera. Because the truth is, I can. And the sooner I learn to tell myself “I can” instead of “I can’t,” the better off I’ll be- and the less cholera I'll have to endure...

This video (and song) never fail to reduce me to a puddle.  Enjoy. 



For the record, I don't believe God smote me with cholera.



Also, I actually CAN'T don't like to run because my toes go numb  and it's actually quite painful. Thoughts on this?

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Real World

Briefcase

Yesterday, I removed the curtains from the playroom. There are seven windows and only two had curtains up. This is a long, boring story. I’ve ordered new curtains! They are called “Blue Windsor Striped Valences.” Ah the domestic life. I am too excited about these curtains.

Anyway, I removed the curtains, and before I could step off of the chair, two of my children had stolen the two parts of the curtain rod and taken them in the other room to begin an epic swordfight.

They are scavengers and foragers. They are why I eat in secret.

Last week, a recruiter saw my profile on LinkedIn and contacted me about a short-term job here in Rochester. It paid well, it was 40 hours a week, and I was a “strong candidate.” I took the interview.

Ultimately, I didn’t get it, but wow, it was nice to be considered. I felt validated, like what I’ve been doing the last three years has actually made me a marketable candidate for the real-world workforce. Tell your friends!

The job would’ve gone through the summer, and of course I worried. I worried about finding a nanny on short notice, about taking time off for a vacation, about the writing conference I’d already committed to. I worried about how to get the kids off to school and what would happen it one were sick. And I thought about the things I would miss, like yesterday, when the twins got the hiccups at the same time. It’s hysterical. They’ve been doing that since they were in the womb.

I thought about how I’d miss Ben’s birthday in his classroom, reading to the twins at preschool, and taking Kiah for long walks on sunny days. I’d miss writing posts for my blog and nibbling at Ella’s leftover peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich while I write them. I’d miss the rush of the older boys after-school routine. They come in the doors like bats out of hell, hug me, and demand a snack. I always acquiesce.

I’d miss Tuesdays at the Y and Thursday prayers at my friend’s house. I’d miss Ella’s speech therapy sessions and playdates and trips to the play museum. I’d miss snack time and quiet time and even struggling to pin Ella down so I can brush her hair. That’s a morning routine no one can do as well as I can.

I suppose I’m not ready to join the “real world” yet.

Someday, though.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Art of Ella

I found Ella's secret stash, where she stores candy and nuts like a chipmunk.  I found an actual peanut.  Mainly there were wrappers and used tissues. 

Ew.

I also found an audio copy of Sun Tzu's Art of War.

Yes, I'm concerned!  Wouldn't you be???

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Philadelphia in 12

Well, this was supposed to be a post containing 12 pictures from our brief trip to Philadelphia, but as you can see, Blogger is still not allowing me to post pics in their intended upright position. 

I am frustrated. 

I'm thinking of moving to Wordpress.  Is this too big of a pain? Thoughts? Blogger's interface is more straightforward, but Wordpress has fewer gliches, I believe, and I think it looks better. 

Ack.  What does it matter.

I'm in a mood.

Here are some pics from our whirlwind trip to Philly.  No, I did not eat a Philly cheesesteak.  I don't think I've had a cheesesteak since I was 18. 


Flowers made out of container tops. 


View from art museum.

Cezanne is my favorite.

The trip to the museum was worth it just for the ENTIRE ROOM dedicated to the artwork of William Blake.  Blake is of course best known as an early romantic poet  He was also a painter and a printmaker.  The museum was showcasing a series of his illustrations of the Book of Job and Milton: A Poem. 





Bitters!  Made in Rochester, NY!  Cool.

 Liberti Church, where my brother-in-law is a pastor, holds services in the First Baptist Church, which has a very long and illustrious history in Center City, Philadelphia.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Post Where John is Exonerated


The career that has chosen me, motherhood, and the career I am simultaneously striving toward and pulling away from, writing, are both lonely professions.

Motherhood might be the loneliest of professions. Especially stay-at-home motherhood, lauded by my working friends as the most sacrificial of endeavors. Some wish they could stay home with their kids, too. Others admit they don’t think they are cut out for the job. When "real" professionals ask me what I do, they always respond with: you have the most important job in the world! It’s as if they know they have to assuage my atrophied mind.

I’d rather they didn’t say that. I would never gush at my kids’ pediatrician, say, and insist that he has “the most important job in the world.” I don’t know what “the most important job in the world” is. I’m sure motherhood is up there, but scientists developing vaccines, those who keep our sewers running, and the people who make diet Dr. Pepper are pretty darn important, too. The false-sounding sentiments about the importance of motherhood by lawyers and accountants and brokers and teachers, ironically, make me feel small.

After all, an important job is not always done well. And motherhood is certainly no exception.

I’m not doing it that well, lately, as evidenced by the mess in my house, late homework notes from teachers, the tangles in my little girl’s hair, and the fact that my little boy is running around saying, “Well, crap!” every time he doesn’t get his way. (I laughed the first couple of times. Now, I feel sadly resigned to his potty mouth.)

I feel overwhelmed, busy, and oftentimes, alone. Moms are busy. We are too busy to talk to other moms, and when we do, we talk about our kids. It’s a lonely life.

Monday, my husband left for Albany until Wednesday with a promise to call on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day, with its over-commercialized hype and friends on Facebook proclaiming their husbands as the greatest ever while singles feel left out and stay-at-home moms remember Valentine’s Days of yore, when they were younger and prettier and had a night out to look forward to. Yesterday, Ella, who had a hoard of candy stashed somewhere, ate that hoard and moaned about a stomachache all day. She finally threw up on my dad and stepmom’s chair last night while I was trying to watch a Cary Grant film. It was not the best of days.

“Can you believe,” said John via telephone, “that I proposed to you fifteen years ago?”

“What? No. Thirteen years ago. You proposed thirteen years ago.”

“Really? Huh. I thought it was fifteen.”

At that point, I was feeling pretty grouchy.

“Where are my flowers?” I demanded. This is especially romantic, to demand flowers over the phone on Valentine’s Day when you know very well your husband has not ordered you flowers. It’s great for morale.

“Flowers? What flowers? I’m taking you to Philadelphia this weekend,” he said. (This is true. We are taking a much needed getaway to the city of brotherly love.)

I sniffled.

After the kids were tucked away, I folded laundry while watching old episodes of House, selected a new book to begin, and wandered up to bed at around 10:30.

It was depressing.

The phone rang.

“Did you like your flowers?” John asked.

“What flowers. I didn’t get any flowers,” I said.

“Check the porch. You probably didn’t see them. There should be a box of flowers there for you.” I grumbled and plodded down the steps in my slippers and opened the door. There, in the dark of the night, was my husband, hands full of roses and candy. Let me tell you, I haven’t cried happy tears in a long time. Because when you’re lonely, sometimes you just want someone to hold you for a long time and remind you that what you do is worthwhile. That you’re loved. That it doesn’t matter if you are dripping black mascara on their white Van Heusen collared shirt.

If you get a chance, call someone you care about today. Remind them that what they do is important. That it is important enough that they should strive to do it well. Especially if that someone is a mom… or a writer.

Remind them that they are loved.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Kiss a Thief


It’s Valentine’s Day. If you’re single or your husband is a boob who’s out of town, hanging out with flirty political operatives, worry not.  We have this guy:



It is time for my annual Valentine’s Day homage to Cary Grant’s kisser, observed last Valentine’s Day in the film Notorious.

I’ll be honest. Nothing can beat the smooch in Notorious. But this scene from To Catch a Thief is classic.

Cary Grant plays John Robie, a retired cat burglar living in the Riviera. Because if you were a retired cat burglar, isn’t that where you’d settle? You should see his digs. What a view. And we’re not even talking about Grace Kelly yet.

Unfortunately, a copycat burglar is putting Robie’s freedom at risk, so he sets out to catch him (or her) by tailing potential wealthy victims. One such victim is Francie Stephens, played by the incandescently beautiful Grace Kelly. In the following scene, she tantalizes him with (fake) diamonds.

The fireworks are, um, suggestive.



Oh, you're welcome.







Monday, February 13, 2012

For Valentine's Day

The husband is out of town half the week, so I was seriously contemplating posting a song full of angst and resentment, like that song Adam Sandler sang in The Wedding Singer after his fiance left him at the altar. 

I was feeling a little sad and abandoned.

Then I thought maybe I was being a tad dramatic.  After all, I get to spend Valentine's Day with four of the biggest lovebugs I've ever met.  We're going to make cupcakes and cookies and watch Kiah the Wonder Dog chew her beef-flavor infused Valentine's Day dog bone.  Also, we're going to fold some laundry. Any Valentine's Day that includes a beef-flavor infused Valentine's dog bone and laundry folding is bound to be glorious.

Today, I'm posting the most beautiful love song I know.  The one I sing to my kids each night:



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"The Talk"





“How do babies get into their mother’s tummy?”

“Ask your father.”

This exact conversation has been going on since Caleb was 5. And I still refuse to have “the talk” with him.

I know. I’m a terrible, horrible parent. And it’s not that I’m a prude, but… Fine. I’m a complete and total prude. Not too much of a prude, obviously (4 kids in 4 years and all that),but let’s just say I don’t feel comfortable hearing about the ins and outs of your sex life and I’d rather keep the ins and outs of mine to myself, thank you very much. No pun intended.

Last week, we introduced Caleb to a guy in his mid-thirties who has a newborn baby at home. His first child.

“See Caleb,” we said, “we had you when we were really young. Some people our age are just starting to have babies!”

"Wait,” said Caleb. “You get to choose when you have a baby? What do you do, just say, I’m ready to have a baby and one just starts growing in your stomach?”

“Yes. Yes, that’s exactly how it happens,” I said.

I realize how wrong I am to do this. Yet I can’t seem to help myself. Case in point: I’ve never told Ella the proper name for her girl parts, so she refers to that area as her penis. Can you imagine how awkward it is for me in the little girls room with a four-year old who’s asking me to help wipe her penis?

Some parents choose to give their kids private parts silly names, like “pee-pee” or “pooter” or “woo-woo.” Others insist on using proper scientific nomenclature. I could never decide, so I opted out of calling Ella’s anything. And now I’m paying for it in a big way.

John’s no better. I told him it was time to have “the talk” with Caleb.

“No,” he said. Just no. End of discussion.

He is a horrible, terrible parent.

We have to have the talk soon, however, because any day now he could hear all sorts of weird, misinformation on the big yellow school bus, or, as I call it, the den of iniquities. 

"Mom.  I heard that boys need to stick their penises in a girl's belly button and a tiny baby shoots out and gets planted in her stomach.  Is that true?"

(I may or may not have heard that in the den of iniquities when I was in elementary school.)

I imagine that having “the talk” is like jumping into a chilly swimming pool. It’s so hard to make that initial jump, but after you do it, you’re fine with swimming around for a bit. In other words, relaying the nuts and bolts of sex (no pun intended) seems terrifying. But after I take that jump, I can see myself having healthy, normal conversations about sex and relationships and all that stuff with Caleb. I just don’t want to take that initial jump. I really don’t. Especially when I read things like this was so-called professionals:

Dr. Berman says making them feel good about themselves is key. "Feeling good about their bodies. Feeling good about their genitals. Feeling good about their sexual function. Feeling empowered about who they are as people and as sexual beings. And then that makes the path so much easier when they're in their teen years."
Feeling good about their genitals? I’m suspicious of her whole thesis, here. I get where she’s coming from, but dear God. As if relaying the ins and outs (no pun intended) wasn’t hard enough, you want me to help my kids feel good about their genitals? I can’t even say genitals. I can type it, but just barely.

And if, in this poorly conceived analogy, my standing at the edge of a diving board for a good 20 minutes is akin to finding the nerve to explain the birds and the bees, when the day comes I’m going to stand looking dumbly at Caleb for a good twenty minutes before I sputter something like, “When two people have sex, here’s what happens (insert what happens here.  No pun intended.) Having a baby is a decision not to be taken lightly you need to know that there are ramifications to actions and that you should never have sex until you’re at least 30 and you should be married and you might have something called wet dreams and that’s okay and talk to your father about the rest. Glad we had this talk.” And then I’ll catch my breath and resume treading water. Because raising kids is exactly that: treading water for the rest of your life, hoping you don’t get too tired.

I really don't want to do this!  (The sex talk part, not the raising kids part.  Also, I lied.  All puns were intended.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's not a party until...

... your six-year old has diarrhea all over your friend’s bathroom floor.

But that was later in the evening.

Before the diarrhea came the chicken wings.

We begin on Saturday evening, when our family went to eat out at Quaker State and Lube, which is supposed to have the best chicken wings around. Unfortunately, the wings were not up to par. They were overcooked and, for a place that has the word “lube” right there in their name, incredibly dry.

“This is unusual,” John insisted. “They are not up to par.”

“Denny’s wings are better than these,” I said.

Yesterday, we had big Super Bowl plans, and I set our to prove that I could make better chicken wings than the ones that had been served at Quaker State and Lube.  ("They're usually so much better than that," said John.  "They really weren't up to par.")  I was going to follow the traditional Frank’s Red Hot recipe, but John had a better idea. He had read about the “best way to make Buffalo wings” from a guy who writes for Deadspin. I was strongly encouraged to follow said recipe.

The Jamboroo is a weekly Deadspin column written by Drew Magary, whose book The Postmortal I received for Christmas. (Thanks Lisa!) I actually had no idea he was a sports writer, so this was an odd coincidence. Recently, Magary gave 20 rules for having a Super Bowl party, including: You must have a high definition television. Do not mix partisan and nonpartisan guests. Buy a plunger. Mandatory food items: Wings, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Nachos, chips and salsa, chili, guacamole, eight foot long italian sub, cookies, jar of frosting with spoon in it (for me only). Always keep a separate room to stage monkey fights in. Etcetera, etcetera… all very practical suggestions. I would’ve totally have fought him over the jar of frosting with spoon in it. We ignored his no kids rule, however, and found out how very wise he actually was in making these rules. Comes from years of experience, I suppose.

Anyway, the wings. My initial plan had been to use the slow cooker, but the slow cooker was dismissed as “disgusting” and “what are you completely crazy, are you not even from western New York you idiot?” by both a beloved family member and the internet.

I found Magary to be an irreverent chef with a foul mouth. Rachael Ray he is not. Nonetheless, I had great success with his baked chicken wing recipe. Here is a modified version. (I improved it even further- no kidding!):

Buy a club pack of cheapo wings from your local favorite spot to buy club packs. Take (thawed) wings and mix them with olive oil (2-3 TB) and Adobo seasoning ( 2-3 TB; found in the ethnic section, by all the Goya.)

Line a casserole dish with tinfoil, and make sure it is covered with olive oil so the wings don’t stick. You don’t want to lose the skin! You can also line the dish with parchment paper to avoid using extra oil, but the tinfoil makes the wings crispier. Yum.

Bake chicken wings at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Meanwhile, melt a stick of butter and mix with half of a large bottle of Frank Red Hot, less if you prefer “mild” wings, more if you prefer “hot.”

When wings are done, douse those suckers with the buffalo wing sauce. Stick them back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, reducing heat to 300 degrees. This allows the sauce to really bake into the wings. You will have plenty of sauce left over for dipping.

Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery. Impress friends and family. Become referred to by all as “the wing lady.”

Ben possibly ate too much junk food. While my girlfriends and I were doing our Superbowl thing, i.e. playing Rummikub and deciding that Madonna looked like person whose chiropractor had told her to take it easy that night, Ben was sampling the chicken wings, the ├ęclair cake, the chips and dip, cheese balls, cupcakes, cookies, etc. Hence, the diarrhea on my poor friend’s bathroom floor.

We took the kids home after that incidence, right before the end of the third period. The three boys were determined to stay awake to see whether or not Tom Brady would fail and take his anger out on his model girlfriend.  2/3rds didn't make it:


Caleb is glad to see the Giants win. 
Today's song is, of course, from Queen.  Sorry Patriots fans. 

I've heard this song dozens of times in my lifetime, but I've never seen  this video.  Holy cow, what is he wearing.  It's audacious, even for a gay man. And there are an alarming number of men without shirts on in the audience. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

All I Know About Hockey I Learned From The Mighty Ducks




When deciding whether or not to accompany John to various soirees, I seriously consider two things: the horrors of mingling versus good food. Sometimes the food comes out on top. Sometimes it doesn’t. On Wednesday night, the food was linked to a free Sabres game, so I went. I had a massive hankering for a stadium cheeseburger.

I had a bad day Wednesday. My cowlick refused to conform to the basic architecture of my head, I had a huge zit right smack in the middle of my forehead, my kids were completely stir-crazy, and I’d received what I’m sure are the first of many rejections in the mail. Writing rejections are the worst. There’s no sugarcoating. They never say, “It’s not you, it’s us.” They might as well write the following:

Holly,


It’s not us, it’s totally you.


This isn’t what we’re looking for at all.


I guess you can submit again sometime, but get a clue first. Sheesh.


From,
A very, very mean editor.

Little did they know I would later attend Buffalo’s most highfalutin event on a Wednesday evening. That’s right. My day was bound to get better!

And what does the stay-at-home mom wear to a post-work highfalutin event at a hockey arena? These are the types of fashion questions that boggle my stay-at-home mom mind. John intended to go in his suit. If I had gone in a suit, people would’ve assumed I’d come from work. I would be faced with awkward, “What do you do?” questions. So, I opted for jeans, a nice top, and high-heeled boots. I made John change into khakis and a sweater.

We were very underdressed. And there were no cheeseburgers. Just a lukewarm pasta bar. I shook hands with one of the most powerful men in New York State government, and stood by sanguinely while John chatted with Mayor Brown and former Mayor Masiello, who shook my hand and told me it was lovely to see me again.

We’ve never met.

“The food here sucks,” I told them. “I want a cheeseburger.” (I didn't really say that.  But I was thinking it.)

One state legislator shook my hand for what seemed an excessive amount of time and then gave me his card, and told me to call him if I needed anything, anything at all. The card is still in my jacket pocket, and I intend to use it the next time I get lost in Buffalo.

“I'm looking for the exit to 33. No, I don’t need a GPS; I have your business card.”

At least there was the hockey game to look forward to! And we had great seats. Unfortunately, we were seated next to a perfect contender for that show Girls Gone Wild, and she also happened to be a Rangers fan. In the middle of the first period, we moved down and proceeded to watch the most boring hockey game that has ever not been broadcast on Time Warner Cable.

Luckily, at the beginning of the second period, Buffalo’s only gay, black, die-hard Sabres fan joined us, automatically raising our spirits, warming me up with a good cuddle, and flamboyantly explaining the makeup of the Sabres’s fourth line, which was helpful because even though I’ve watched hundreds of Sabres games over the past 15 years, I still don’t know what icing is.

“Icing! Icing!” I yell.

“That’s not icing,” says John.

“High sticking, then? Was it high sticking?”

Honestly, everything I know about hockey I learned from the Disney film The Mighty Ducks.

“Treat it like an egg, Gerbe! You’re not treating the puck like an egg! Form the flying V! Where’s the flying V? Why don’t they ever do the flying V?”

This is when John buries his face in his hands and doesn’t come up for a while. Gay, black, die-hard Sabres fan wasn't embarrassed to be seated next to me. We scorned the hot Rangers fan and yelled at Ryan Miller for his lazy goal-keeping.

On the way home, John and I listened to a most excellent podcast called, “How Did This Get Made?”, a show that discusses movies so terrible they’re amazing. They deconstruct gems like “Jingle All the Way,” “Twilight,” and “Superman 3.” We listened to the podcast about "Superman 3", or, "Superman: The One Where Supes Gets all Rapey."

On Wednesday night, I took a gamble, and I chose food over the horrors of mingling. And I lost that bet. But I had a good time anyway.

Mayor, it was lovely to see you again, too.