31 March 2009

I'm So Flexible I'm Turning Inside Out

Not my best day.

I made paella last night for the school's multicultural potluck, for which the children were to bring in food representing their cultural heritage. We are not Spanish, so I just explained that in a family this large, we actually constitute a culture of our own, and that in this case, paella represents the Lolitish culture, as in Lola-really-likes-it-so-I-made-it-for-her-class.

Neither of my boys seemed all that interested in the potluck -- one wanted me to make plain spaghetti noodles and the other wanted my "special homemade quesadillas." (How special can tortillas and cheese really get, people?) Now, my children are, in fact, Italian and Mexican, so these choices would have been more in keeping with the point of the potluck. But paella is SO much more interesting and tasty. And since this was not a mandatory assignment, I went with the most enthusiastic kid. Sorry boys: develop taste buds and I'll make you something interesting next year.

Anyway, I spent about an hour and a half dicing, sauteeing, boiling, and lovingly preparing this delicious meal, which featured chick peas, chicken, chorizo, and red bell peppers. It was absolutely delicious, and Lola was very excited about bringing it to school.

I love making paella. I am not that skilled in the kitchen, and am not a person who is super comfortable whipping up new things. But the smells of saffron boiling in chicken broth, chicken and chorizo sizzling in olive oil, and onions, garlic, and red bell peppers sauteeing make me feel like Martha Stewart. The house smells fantastic and all seems right with the world.

I brought the dish down to the school cafeteria at around 10:30 this morning. Unfortunately, it never made it to Lola's classroom with the other 1st grade potluck items, and when I picked her up, the first thing she said to me was "Where was my paella?!?!?!?" I was really bummed. I'm often a day late and a dollar short with school stuff, and here I had planned ahead, taken the time to prepare a really good dish, and STILL came out looking like a slacker. And disappointing my daughter to boot. But even before I found out the the paella went to waste, the day had already held far too much excitement for me.

* * *

In the middle of the day, I stopped at home to pick up a high chair I am giving to a friend. Jumped out and locked my keys in the car, which meant out of my house as well. OK, a slight setback, but AAA can have me going on my way in no time, right? Right!

Before I even had time to call AAA, I hear a great SPLOOSH: a hose that had been left on in my backyard (but closed at the water wand end) burst open, sending a plume of water as tall as my two-story house shooting up into the sky. Being locked out of my house also means being locked out of my backyard, so all I could do was sit there and watch the cascading water, enjoy the refreshing mist that was now falling upon me, and take delight in watching the birdies play in the forming puddles.

I have to admit, taking delight in much of anything was a little difficult.

It got a lot harder when I remembered that my bedroom window, right in the path of the water plume, was very likely open. There was no way of knowing for sure until I could get inside.

The tow truck arrived in about 20 minutes, thankfully, and I had my keys back in no time. I turned the water off, went upstairs to my bedroom, and found quite the lake soaking a basket of laundry as well as a desktop covered with papers, supplies, and various other miscellany.

* * *

All of this would certainly have been enough if:

  • One of my clients had not told me they are cutting back my hours.

  • I didn't have two pee-soaked beds to change.

  • I actually had food in the house.

  • I didn't have to play endless phone tag with a child care center for my littlest one to make an appointment that was supposed to be for today, but then got canceled, but then got re-instated, but then got canceled again, while enduring the staff person insinuating that I was being difficult.

  • My bath tub's drain plug had not stopped working, making bath time a royal pain in the ass.

  • One of my children had not completely decompensated at Rubios, where I had to take everyone to eat at 8pm in the evening, with no homework done, for reasons that aren't interesting.

Being a parent requires way too much flexibility. I had to be so flexible today that I'm pretty sure I am now suffering from vertigo. If I have to bend like this all day everyday for 26 years (from day one of Baby #1, to age 18 for Baby #5), I think I will officially just keep on going 'round the bend and not come back, and hope that wherever I land there is lots and lots of red wine, a never ending supply of ear plugs, and someone to massage my feet.

* * *

30 March 2009

1. Just Like Her Mother

One day, while shopping in Costco, I discovered that my 4-year old, similar to her mother, likes lists. Having seen me with my own lists -- daily -- she appeared to have picked up a thing or two. So wheeling through the behemoth warehouse, she "wrote" her own list for the items we needed and crossed each one off in its turn. Ever since I noticed that, I encourage her to make lists of stuff, mostly because it keeps her busy and she talks less when she's got a list to keep her occupied. No small feat with that one.

Today we had quite a few errands to run. After the first one, to the local copy shop, she wanted to know what stops we were making and in what order. So we pulled over, found her a pen in my FEMA-level messy car, wrote down all the errand stops, and started on our way again.

Second stop, post office. Once that was done, and we were back in the car, she immediately grabbed her pen: POST OFFICE.

And then she channeled her mother: "Oh Mom! Put COPY SHOP at the top so we can cross it off!"

Is she destined to a life in which she, at 4 pm, writes GET UP at the top of her otherwise hardly accomplished TO DO list just to make that satisfyingly straight horizontal line somewhere? Will she make lists only to lose them? Will she manage her lists or will it be the other way around? Will she someday be tormented by a list of her own making?

Lists. Can't live with 'em, can't stop making 'em, can't find a pen to cross of #13: Stop Making Lists.

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26 March 2009

Adventures in Language Acquisition

When my second son was around 2, we were in a serious Toy Story phase at my house.

(Side note: Toy Story, Blue's Clues, and many other kiddie-favs fall into the funny category of "things-I-stuck-my-nose-up-at-before-I-had-kids." When my first child was born, TV and movies represented ALL THINGS EVIL and we didn't let him watch much of anything at all. Not having any reason myself to see kid movies or watch kid shows, I thought they were all (a) stupid, (b) damaging to healthy child development, and (c) worthy of suspicion based merely on their popularity. My, how far I have come. I remember asking a friend "So what is this Blue's Clues thing?" How hilarious that I was suspicious of one of the quietest, sweetest shows on television! And I remember another friend telling me how she loved watching Toy Story with her nephews, and again, I was suspicious. Must be tripe, I thought. Until I reluctantly let the boys watch it, expecting to hate it, and discovered just how awesome it is. Loved the second one even more. Live and learn, I tell ya'.)

Anyway, we had all the Toy Story figures: Woody, Buzz, Hammy, Potato Head, Rex, Slinky Dog, Wheezy, Sarge, Lenny etc. Yes, we even had Lenny. The boys spent hours playing with these and repeating long passages of dialogue.

My two-year old was pretty much just learning to speak, so his turn at the dialogue was sometimes hard to decipher. Fans of the movie will remember that Potato Head calls one of the other characters "You Hockey Puck!" (because he's actually talking to a hockey puck). Driving around town one day, my boys were channeling this part of the movie, with Cenzo (2-year old) playing the part of Potato Head. It took me awhile to figure out what he was trying to say: I was too busy trying to get my brain around the fact that he kept saying to his brother: "You fucky pot!"

This was so priceless that I didn't correct him. I just let him keep right on shouting this out, which he did for weeks. My favorite was being in the grocery store with my two beautiful boys, each with a Toy Story action figure in hand, with the little one shouting YOU FUCKY POT at his big brother. Got a few strange looks, I did.

This remains one of the most delightful memories of my early mommy days: I smile and giggle whenever I think of it. Sometimes, I get the urge to yell at a bad driver or some other rude person YOU FUCKY POT. Wouldn't that be fun?

What linguistic gems have your kids stumbled upon?


23 March 2009


Little ole me? Awww, thanks! Viv has bestowed upon me a blog award -- my first -- and I am quite honored by her gesture.

Thank you Viv, for your kind words! Folks, please visit Viv's blog. She's got five kids, another on the way, and lots of great things to say about motherhood. I like her blog because it's very real, very honest, which I think gives other moms permission to be honest about their experiences too. Go Viv!

OK, as a recipient of this award, I am charged with sharing 7 things I love and 7 blogs I follow. Herewith:

I love:

1. The sound of rain on the roof. This is my favorite sound, except maybe for the sound of my children laughing. It reminds me of being a kid, and feeling safe inside a warm house while nature beat the hell out the world outside. I still feel that way when I listen to a storm.

2. The Beatles. One of my proudest accomplishments as a mom is that my kids know The Beatles. They know who is whom, they can sing along with the tunes, they show proper rock/pop respect. The boys even have a "favorite" Beatle. But then again, doesn't everyone?

3. Swimming laps. I have two herniated disks in my lower back, which most of the time do not bother me. But I do have flare ups and I cannot do most types of exercise, like running which I used to love, because the impact is too hard on my back. I got into swimming laps because of my back, and found that I absolutely loved being in the water, and I loved the rhythmic repetition of lap after lap after lap. I've never been in better shape than when I was swimming regularly. Sadly, it's been awhile, something I hope to change soon.

4. Paella. Food of the gods. Delightful. Especially when Rick makes it. (Doesn't food always taste better when someone else cooks?)

5. Ireland. Everything about it: the music, the land, the people, the beer, the literature, the history. Rick and I went to Ireland on our honeymoon, which was a stretch at the time, but I'm so glad we did, because now we're so broke we'll be lucky if we get to go anywhere else in our entire lives.

6. My husband and my children. They are my entire world, so I can't leave them out. Corny as it sounds, they teach me everything I need to know, make me laugh, and make me breathtakingly grateful for my life. How did I get to be so lucky?

7. Sleeping. At least, I remember once that I really liked sleeping, and I bet that if I ever get to sleep again, I will love it once more. I used to be the Queen of Naps. I aspire to reclaim this title one day. First, I must cross off one item on my never-ending, ever-growing to do list: Raise the kids.

And here are seven blogs that are in my Google Reader and that I just adore:

1. Momofali: First, she's a great writer and can spin a story like a master. Second, she's got some great source material: her kids supply her with endless stories to tell!

2. Breed Em and Weep: First, I like the poker reference in her blog name because mine's got one too. But second, and far more importantly, she is an absolutely amazing writer. Eloquent, insightful, brave...beautiful. If you haven't read her post about writing/blogging, DO SO RIGHT NOW.

3. Deliajude: She may be the only blogger whom I actually know in real life, AND she is the inspiration behind my own foray into blogging. She is artistic, creative and lovely. And I think someday her photography is going to make her famous. Or should.

4. I Am Prepared to Give Up At Any Time: One funny guy. Totally refreshing for me, absorbed as I am in mommy blogs (which of course I love).

5. Mom2My6Pack. This is Dawn Meehan, of pokemon card ebay auction fame. She's been fun to follow through the past couple of years. She got a book deal out of this whole shebang, too, which is tres cool.

6. Diagnosis:Urine. I love this blog. Bunch o' kids, really funny and honest, and she writes about a great wide range of topics. I know she already got this award recently, but she's definitely one I read all the time, so I'm listing her anyway. She rocks.

7. Secret Agent Josephine. Creative gal, adorable daughter, great stories...a true chronicle of life, and compelling even though I can't really say why. I just like it. She's cool. Check her out.

That's what I got: enjoy!

* * *

21 March 2009

Pay Attention to the Signs

Some signs that you have been neglecting yourself:

A. Your husband, noticing that your hair smells good, says: "Did you wash your hair? Wow, I haven't smelled that smell in awhile!"

B. Your friend gives you some make up because she "accidentally" bought the wrong shade and thought you might be able to use it instead. She is right.

C. Another friend gives you three really nice blouses and a lovely dress jacket that she doesn't wear anymore, and acts like you are doing her a favor by taking them (bless her).

D. Your 6-year old girly-girl asks why you never wear skirts or dresses. Your 4-year old girly-girl chimes in with: "Yeah, why not mom?"

E. You sleep in your jeans because you're too damn tired to walk down to the dryer and get the nice clean jammies.

And the biggest sign that you've been neglecting yourself is that you can come up with way too many signs that you've been neglecting yourself.

I've had a lot on my plate the past several years, but that's not going to change in the next several, and I don't want to be a frumpy, unkempt mom anymore.

It's time to ignore the children: I must get in touch with my girly side once more. Someone send me something pink, fast!

* * *

20 March 2009

Pioneers and Einsteins

Last night, we got home after 7pm from baseball practice. The house is still a disaster after being neglected for over a week while I worked on a deadline. There seemed to be no food in the house. Rick and I were sitting on the couch, exhausted, and I was feeling daunted by the prospect of feeding everyone.

However, that independence I have worked so hard to instill in my children is paying off! I dragged myself off the couch to hunt for dinner and discovered that my 2-year old had taken matters into her own hands. She had located the powdered sugar shaker and was licking the top. Dinner is served! One down, four to go.

I handed over one bottle of syrup, one bottle of ketchup, a jar of cherries, and the cinnamon sugar shaker and called it a meal.

* * *

And as I sit here typing and contemplating my lack of dinner skills, I look down and see my son's homework on the table. Math. After solving the math problem, the student is supposed to answer the question: "Is your answer reasonable? Why or why not?"

My Einstein's response: "It is reasonable because it is the answer."

Can't argue with that logic!

11 March 2009

My Kids

They're not children so much as they are opportunistic pirhanas.

Will they ever become civilized?

* * *

08 March 2009

From Their Perspective

Found this little "blog-tivity" on a great blog I read from another mom with five kids (we're out there!) and gave it whirl with four of mine.

You will get the impression from this post (unless you have been in my house) that I have an unusually clean house. This is so far from the case that I can't quite express how untrue that impression would be. But these are their true and unaltered answers. Enjoy!

1. What is something mom always says to you?

Lola: I love you.
Elizabeth: Clean up.
Vincenzo: Clean up.
Samuel: Clean your room.

2. What makes mom happy?

L: Laughing. and Dancing.
E: Making picture frames.
V: The most cleaned up rooms.
S: Me wrestling with my brother.

3. What makes mom sad?

L: Being mad.
E: Not cleaning up.
V: No clean rooms.
S: When I don’t eat the food she serves me.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

L: Being funny.
E: When you draw pictures that are goofy.
V: That’s a bad question. Nothing.
S: She tickles me.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

L: Kind.
E: having blond hair.
V: She had a funny dad.

6. How old is your mom?

They all got it right!

7. How tall is your mom?

6’ 2”

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

L: Cuddle.
E: Going to Pizza Roma and eating pizza.
V: Make children clean up.
S: Watch me play sports.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

L: Work.
E: Work.
V: Types on a computer all day long.
S: Cleans the house.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

L: Being good.
E: Doing clean up and work.
V: The most cleaned up rooms.
S: Being the mom of a professional soccer player.

11. What is your mom really good at?

L: Cleaning.
E: Saying goofy words to froggy.
V: Yelling at kids.
S: Working.

12. What is your mom not very good at?

L: Soccer.
E: Not cleaning up.
V: Catching Lu when she’s running.
S: Playing soccer.

13. What does your mom do for her job?

E: play on computers
V: Works at IDS. That’s a very boring question.
S: Works at IDS.

14. What is your mom's favorite food?

L: Paella.
E: Pizza with sauce on it.
V: Paella.
S: Paella.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

L: That she loves me.
E: Reading books to me.
V: She makes delicious desserts.
S: That she’s my mom.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

L: Wilma.
E: Rosie the Riveter.
V: Wonder Woman
S: Super Mom

17. What do you and your mom do together?

L: We pick flowers.
E: Read stories.
V: Argue.
S: Drive each other crazy.

18. How are you and your mom the same?

L: We look the same.
E: We both have hair and I have a tiny bit of blond in mine and you have blondish brownish and I have blond on the ends.
V: We both argue.
S: We have the same blood in our viens.

19. How are you and your mom different?

L: We have different blood.
E: We don’t wear the same clothes.
V: I don’t like cleaning up and you do.
S: She’s a female and I’m a male.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

L: Because she always loves me and because she always gets food for me.
E: Because she always kisses me and God reminds me.
V: She makes delicious desserts.
S: She says it.

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

L: Her bed.
E: The refrigerator.
V: Zachary’s Pizza
S: Barnes and Noble.

* * *

07 March 2009

Let's Put This Baby to Rest, Shall We?

I am sitting in my very messy kitchen, grateful that the sun is shining and the trees are blossoming, drinking coffee and getting myself mentally prepared for a weekend of Little League baseball. And breathing a big sigh of relief that this week has limped to a close.

During the past week, three project deadlines converged in my freelance life. Two are in the hopper, one still looms.

During the past week, all five of my children got to hear some angry lady yell to me: "I don't give a f*** about your f***ing kids, bitch."

During the past week, my 73-year old, bicycle-riding father played chicken with a truck, and lost. He is in the hospital with a broken pelvis, multiple contusions, and a humbled sense of gratitude that he was not killed.

Oh, the stories this week could tell. And I would give this week its voice if I didn't need to go do laundry, find baseball socks, rouse and feed the masses, and get everyone off to the Opening Day Parade for Little League.

The stories are swirling. But they will have to wait.

Note to self: Keep telling my children that no matter what the idiot members of humanity do, as long as we have each other, we can take care of each other and be OK in this great big crazy world.

Note to self, 2: Don't wait until tomorrow to tell someone you love them. Don't wait until tomorrow to do that thing you really want to do. Don't wait until tomorrow for anything that truly matters, because trucks that drive 45 mph can do more than break a pelvis.

Here's hoping next week has different, better stories to tell.

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