Friday, December 20, 2013

Morning Missile


Halloween costumes this year did not put me over the edge.  OK Harry Potter's hair is an odd shade of indigo.  My mom never allowed me to be an unoriginal witch, so I had some pangs about that.  The green pumpkin was a little challenging, and it was annoying that it was thrown over for a toddler bee outfit from the dress-up bin, but I have no complaints.

My day started with another mom inadvertently sending me a visual text of her massive, naked tits.  There's no better way to start a day or a blog entry.

I sound like a frat boy.  I've started listening to the Preston and Steve morning show on Philly's Rock-n-Roll radio.  I get in touch with my inner meathead and feel slightly connected to the blue collar side of Philly.  It started when I got pulled over right after depositing Toby at daycare, by a bald, white cop with good posture .  I'm no longer eligible to play the "I'm attractive; don't give me a ticket" card.  I admitted to rolling by the stop sign as I handed him my license and insurance, and he sauntered back to his car.  He returned to my window after a short time, and I said, "Honestly, I was listening to Preston and Steve.  They were talking about women who prostitute their way through college, and it was so depressing!"  The cop said, I WAS LISTENING TO THAT TOO!!  HORRIBLE!!! Now, your registration is expired, and you really need to pay attention to stop signs, but I'm going to let you go...   

The radio was tuned to MMR in the first place because I try to be a "cool mom" for Toby's 5 minute commute and play music for her.  I suffered through NPR and AM radio Red Sox broadcasts for all of my commuting young life.  As soul-crushing as the adult radio was, I would never have dreamed of asking Susie for some pop music.  To this day I get slightly nauseous when I hear baseball because it brings back cigarette smoke/no-air-conditioning induced car sickness.  Tim and I got pulled over a few weeks later.   We were on our way to set up my Rittenhouse Square craft show in the rain.  We were probably listening to BBC's James Kumarasamy talk about Syria.  Without Preston and Steve on our side, the truck was impounded, Tim spent hours and a lot of money getting it back.  I walked to my soggy booth in the rain.  I'm sure Dave, the kid in Tim's office in charge of renewing registrations, wished his day had started with an inadvertent boob text rather than the rampage he received from Tim.

First day of school!

It's been 3 months since my last confession/blog.  My excuse?  Tim started a new full-time job at Temple which he loves except that it sometimes conflicts with his other full-time architect/developer gig.  We became pet owners at the end of the summer-3 hermit crabs.  It doesn't sound like much, but there's been some drama.  I've had numerous craft shows, both girls had massive birthday parties, and Halloween happened.  I've also had a recurring zit inside my nose.  I'm obviously doing penance for a major wrong in a past life.  It's agony, and it's bad for my marriage.  If Tim grazes my ever-growing nose on his way in for an affectionate peck, I want to punch him in the face.  We've also had to adjust to driving an hour + roundtrip every day to get Steel to/from school as Kindergarteners aren't bussed in Philly.  We get to share it with the Duffy family otherwise it'd be 2.5 hours.  Sadly Duffy #3 is younger than Toby.  We'll have to do it on our own when she hits Kindergarten.

The 5 Duffys live in 800 sq. feet.  Their main mode of transportation is bike carts.  Marni has a business sewing cloth diapers; Tray works at the bike shop.   Having met them, the idea that we are remotely "green" is absurd.  They did that hippy potty-training thing where you start them at 3 months.  She makes whole wheat pop tarts and quinoa, and their kids eat them.  They aren't horrible and self-righteous, though.  She admits to realizing that she's an introvert only after having had 3 children.  Her hilarious complaints about the needs of her children is refreshing.  Touching, for instance, after the morning snuggle and before the nighttime cuddle drives her nuts.  She keeps her hair at about 1/4" long and looks fabulous.  She can even joke about the devastating death of her young mom.  Despite numerous pre-trip swine flu jokes, Marni's mom died of the swine flu after her trip to China.  The only major difference between our outlooks is that they go to church and their mortgage is probably less than we spend on alcohol for a week.

Marni cycling the girls to school in her ""

After a week of propriety, the Duffy/McDonald kids now torture each other like siblings.  It's all fine if we are singing along to racy pop music.  However, Sage and Steel have the same taste in men, so that's lead to some heated conversations.  Sage tattles on Jack Peter for whatever wrongs occurred in school.  Jack Peter retaliates by writing her into comic strips.  The "Sage-O-Tron" was his most recent, easily-vanquished foe.  The middle Duffy, Fern, is a flawless human being.  She prides herself on reminding me to yield at a particular point in the ride where I'd almost killed them, me, and another carful of somebodies early in my Green Woods Charter commuting days.

The Sage-o-tron rocking a Grandma Susie skirt

There's a lot of penis and vagina talk.  Steel announced that when she presses on her "coo coo" it feels like people are tickling her.  Sage revealed that in "her world in her head" there are only girls except for one boy who is naked.  I was convinced she was channelling Hugh Hefner when she started making Hawaiian Luau references.  I've seen hitting, tears, spitting, and juice-box-dumping-down-shirts in my rear-view mirror.  I just continue to drive and bellow out math problems.

Kindergarten has been a disappointment for Big Deal McSteel.  She has a lot of undisciplined 5-year-old boys in her class.  She's at the maturity level of a teenager, so it's been trying.  "KINDERGARTEN TAKES SO LONG!!!" was her complaint the first week.  Her teacher was on maternity leave for the first 6 weeks, and the assistant teacher was barely in charge.  On back-to-school night, the assistant said to me, wide-eyed, "Thank God for Steel.  She's my teaching assistant!"  The real teacher is back, but I'm pretty sure she'd rather be with her 3-month-old son than constantly disciplining a bunch of kids who can't sit still.  I read to the class on Steel's birthday and had three little boys crawling up my skirt while the teacher was fuming, "MICHAEL!  KEATON!"  One of them has actually been suspended from Kindergarten.  One day Steel came home triumphant, I asked why she was so happy.  Her reply, "No one got in trouble in gym class today.  It was so fun!"

I guess gym class is where it all comes to a head.  Mr. Hunsberger had to call me about Jack Peter's conduct referral in gym.  Apparently Jack Peter wasn't supposed to twist a girl's arm and jump on it because she told him his Harry Potter hair was not black, it was blue.  I agreed with Mr. Hunsberger that Jack Peter needs to exercise some impulse control but I was pissed that he was putting emphasis on the fact that the victim was a girl.  I see what goes on in the back of my Mini Van; Jack Peter has some integrity issues, but the physical aggressors in our world are almost always female.  We had to have a family sit-down.  The girls are really good (outside the house) about following rules.  I had to explain that if Jack Peter hits someone again at Green Woods, he'll be suspended, and it'll be ALL of their faults because they've gotten so used to clocking each other over who gets the dark blue cereal bowl.

Report cards were uneventful except for Toby's.  At AKWD, Jane has a whole list of things that can be "age appropriate" "exceeds age expectation"  "needs development"  With all of our kids she draws a gratuitous pencil line through the "age appropriate" row, but she'll check one thing in the "exceeds age expectation" column.  Toby is our first to get a check in the "needs development" column.  She is, apparently, off the charts in her ability to lead, but she lacks in the "ability to follow" area.  It's been a little rough for her.  She was feeling abandoned because Steel left her for JP's school.  The big kids have homework and are exhausted, so they get all of our attention either screaming at them or doing homework with them.  Toby lines up her dolls and teaches them.  The classes go on for hours.  She'll only take a break if either Tim or I is coming down on Steel or Jack Peter.  She'll run up and scream at us with her arms out to protect her sibling.  In hindsight, it's darling, but in the moment, we want to kill all of them.

It was a game called "play dough pirate."  Toby's students are a rough bunch.

According to my chiropractor, I did have a previous life; my hip problems are from a past-life injury.  I'm cooky, but the idea that previous me was hit by shrapnel in WWII, and now I get gimpy if I'm on my feet on concrete 12 hours a day for 3 weeks straight isn't compelling.  My skepticism stops, however when he tells me that my lungs and liver are fine.  I am constantly worried about silicosis and cirrhosis of the liver.  We all hear what we want to hear.  My chiropractor, himself, has his own selectivity going on.  Over the summer, we were at our local music festival.  It's one of those, "buy and empty cup for $20 and drink all day" events.  By 5, no one was feeling any pain except for Jen's husband, Erik.  His back had gone out, and he was prone on the picnic quilt stretching and groaning.  Jen, on the other hand, was walking around with her usual perfect posture and "tits on a stick" physique.  A slightly lit Dr. George approached her to tell her she needed a chiropractic adjustment.  This was out of the blue.  I was nowhere near, so he didn't approach her because she was my friend.  Erik could have been getting gang-banged by a group of rabid squirrels.

My husband doesn't hear what he wants to hear.  He doesn't hear at all.  We are perfectly matched in almost every way (especially our mutual hatred of musical theater)  Our major marital hurdle revolves around his deafness and my mumbling.  I mumble things that aren't worth saying at all.  Narrating the minutia of my life out loud is one of my fears.  I've seen it in relatives.  So, I mumble something boring.  Tim says "what?"  I mumble it again because I'm embarrassed to have said it at all, and he again asks, "WHAT?"  I then scream, at the top of my lungs, "THE SMOOTHIE ISN'T SO BAD WITH CABBAGE THIS MORNING!!!!"  Tim's feelings are hurt, and I feel like an asshole for being short with him and for saying something so stupid in the first place.  

I was at my dear friends' 50th wedding anniversary party.  After a few drinks I had to make a toast:
Everyone is saying such nice things about marriage.  I grew up across the woods from this couple.  The "tapestry of obscenities" that wafted through the woods on a regular basis during one of their marital battles was rich.  Marriage is really HARD.  The other night I asked Tim why he always opens a new tube of toothpaste but leaves the old one for me to finish up?  Is his time worth more than mine?  Why doesn't he just throw it away?  His response, "I don't really think about it, but I do worry that you'd be pissed if you saw a not-entirely-empty toothpaste tube in the trash."  I responded with, "Next time just throw it away, and baby, you deserve a new tube of toothpaste when you want one. 
I finished the toast with something about being on the same team.  Everyone laughed.  The part that made me laugh was Mia's confession, "Mike (her husband) would NEVER finish a tube of toothpaste!  Then it would be his responsibility to put toothpaste on the grocery list!"  So poor absent-minded Mike and cheap me are wrestling the dregs of the toothpaste tubes to eternity.

It's mornings that are the hardest.  Steel and Jack Peter need to practice piano.  Everyone needs to get dressed, eat, pack their school bags, and brush their teeth.  I have to make 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 "healthy snacks."  Tim needs to make coffee, 2 salads, and 2 smoothies.  All of this has to happen before Marni arrives at 730 to exchange Sage for Steel.  Sage and JP wait outside for the often-tardy bus, and I get Toby ready to go to school.  This is all happening while kids are randomly pulling out crafts, legos and unauthorized reading and Tim and I are screaming, "LOOK AT THE CLOCK!!!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"  It's a logistical fuster-cluck.

We've had a couple major morning almost-catastrophes.  Two weeks into the school year before Marni was dropping Sage off to wait with Jack Peter for the bus, I put Jack Peter on the bus and went in to get Toby ready.  It was still warm out, so the windows were open.  I heard his real bus stop.  I looked and saw, to my horror, Clarence, his real bus driver waiting.  My level-headed response was to run into the house and start screaming.  This made Toby scream as well.  Tim had to decipher  what we were screaming about, get his boots on, and catch both busses.  I was convinced that Jack Peter had been taken away from me by a cleverly disguised pedophile.  Meanwhile, Jack Peter was intrepid on the Frankford Friends School bus.  Zoe, our 11-year-old, Frankford-Friends-student neighbor had walked by Jack Peter and taken her seat.  Tim was able to make the switch at the stop sign.  The upshot was that Amy, Zoe's mom, had to give Zoe an assertiveness lecture, (if you see something you know isn't right, like Jack Peter on your bus, you need to SAY SOMETHING)  I needed to reassess my emergency coping mechanisms, and Jack Peter had to learn to avoid buses without Clarence at the helm.

On a Monday, I asked Tim if he could drop Toby off for me, so I could start my week with a swim.  Tim picks up the kids at Green Woods twice a week.  I do it 3 times.  I always take Toby to school, so I felt entitled to a morning by myself.  Everything went smoothly until I got to the studio at 10 feeling refreshed and ready to work.  I checked my phone and saw 2 messages.  One was from Tim telling me to ignore the previous message.  The previous message was from a woman named Sharon Wonder telling me she had my son and Sage.  Sharon had been walking to work when she'd been approached by a weeping Jack Peter.  Can you HELP us?  Jack Peter could only remember my number in his hysteria.  He and Sage had been waiting out in the cold for an hour.  Apparently the bus had already come, and they had missed it.  Tim left with Toby assuming the big kids were gone.  After I didn't answer the phone, Jack Peter told Sharon Wonder that he and Sage go to Green Woods Charter School.  Sharon googled and called the school, the school called Tim.  He was there in 10 minutes, and they got to school in time for science.  Sharon Wonder is now a great friend, so all's well that ends well.  

Were Marni and Tray mad that we'd abandoned their daughter on the street?  Nope.  They compared the incident to the time I had to run back into their house asking where their 3rd child was.  Leaving, I was verbally assaulted by a roofer from across the street, "HEY LADY!!!!  THERE'S A BABY ON THE ROOF!  GO GET YOUR BABY!!!!"  Ryder, Marni and Tray's youngest was not on the roof.  He was sitting in the 3rd floor windowsill with only a poorly-fitting screen keeping him from being an Eric Clapton song.  It did occur to me that a roofer in California would have been stoned and waving at Ryder and playing peekaboo.  A roofer in Philly is not going to let a kid in a window fly-especially if he gets to simultaneously scare the shit out of a dumb blonde getting into her minivan.

Speaking of blondes, I was asked to write a Haiku about my life: 
3, 5, and 7
Taylor Swift is our soundtrack
Oh trouble trouble

That sums it up.  I'm putting in more pictures this time because I've been told to...

 yes, we've already had a snow day.

 Toby in the "birthday chair" at school
 Yes, Steel is essentially a teenager.
 JP decided to get dressed up for Thanksgiving.
Yes, I still bathe them together and let them eat xmas cookies for breakfast in the tub.  Although I should stop soon.  Jack Peter exclaimed to the girls, "MORNING MISSILE" as he got his sleepy suit off and hopped in.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jack Peter for Mayor

We've had another hiccup here at 145B West Laurel Street.  Yesterday Jack Peter got suspended from camp for a day and a half.  I clearly need to blog more because it was only 2 blogs ago that Jack Peter got kicked off of the bus for 3 days.  If there were a few more blog entries in there, he'd seem less diabolical.

He took an old iPhone to camp.  He and his friend Caspar took pictures of their asses and in Jack Peter's case, penis.  Jack Peter managed to convert the money shot of his penis into the screen saver.  (Any of you out there who believe that my not letting my kids have computer/screen-time is holding them back is crazy.  I'd have to work hard to convert an image into my screen saver; Jack Peter can figure that stuff out in milliseconds.)  He then let everyone at camp take a peek at his new screen saver.

My first reaction was the typical, "What did I do to cause this?"  I questioned my having-the-kids-change-into-their-bathing-suits-in-public policy.  My hippy attitude towards nudity and the family showers popped into my head as did the careless placement of David Macaulay's HOW WE WORK in the living room.  A month ago Jack Peter told me triumphantly and furtively at a restaurant that he knows how babies are made.  "Dada puts his penis in your vagina!"  I imagined excusing myself and going straight home to send an e-mail to the rest of the soon-to-be-2nd-Grade parents at Green Woods Charter School:  Dear parents.  It's time for "the talk" otherwise it's going to come from Jack Peter, and I'm not sure that's what you want.  Love, Liz and Tim.  InsteadI said, "You're right!  Who told you that?"  He responded, "I read it!"  "Where did you read it?"  "In a book in the living room!"  "Which book?"  "HOW WE WORK!"  Some well-meaning person gave How Things Work and How We Work to Jack Peter when he was 3.  How was I to know he'd read them cover to cover and commit them both to memory? I do still wonder why he whispered it, AND if he knew to whisper it, why did he not know that showing everyone at camp a picture of his penis was a bad idea?

Another recent development crossed my mind.  Over dinner the other night we discovered that Jack Peter had put glue in his hair a month ago to make it stand up straight.  I had been wondering why the texture seemed to have changed.  There's only so much one can attribute to beach trips and our annual summer shampoo fast.  Armed with our chocolate Oreo cookie dessert, we all went to shower together because we'd gone to the public pool.  As I was vigorously scrubbing his head with Pantene, Steel was asking him if he'd used glitter glue.  "NO!  I don't want glitter in my hair!  I just wanted it to stand straight up!"  Steel agreed.  They always agree with one another if the opinion has been shouted loudly in a tiled room.  After the conditioner stage, Jack Peter said, "You know where I would want glitter?"  Both girls were rapt.  "On my penis!"  They nodded in agreement.  I had to get a little more, "Why would you want glitter on your penis?"  His response, "I HAVE NO IDEA!"  It took the world a long time to come up with vagazzling, and at 7, Jack Peter intuitively arrives at glitter penis?

apparently a student at Moore College of Art went to more extreme lengths to show everyone at camp his glitter penis....

The responses to this latest suspension have varied.  My mom is convinced that he's on a path towards mild perversion at best or more likely, total deviance.  Her assumption is that he's showing off his stuff.  As a 45-lb-white boy, I suppose he's doing OK in the tallywacker department, but I suspect that given the race and size of most of the other campers his package is not all that boast-worthy.  His previous daycare teacher said while looking at an imaginary watch, "2nd grade? Yep, that seems right on schedule..."  Sweet said, "God I love Jack Peter!"  My friend Jen said, "A boy in Willa's camp exposed himself twice the other day.  They sat him in a corner for 20 minutes."  By far the best response was Jen's follow-up text the next morning "Perhaps Jack Peter should run for Mayor of New York?!"

So we have the choice of moving to New York City where such things are expected from a mayoral candidate or we move to the rural south where the sentencing is milder.  Jen did query whether he'd ever get a birthday party again.  His penance (beyond the obvious castration I've scheduled for next week) is doing Xtramath once a day.  (a really annoying math facts website) He gets no dessert for a week, and we are not going out to get the birthday present he's been wanting to buy himself with the money Uncle Johnny and Aunt Tiff gave him.  Clearly the iPhone is well out of reach, and I've engaged in subtle warfare.  His voice won't carry any weight this week.  We had pancakes this morning.  He doesn't like them; the girls do.  The girls got to choose the movie for movie night. (Pocahontas)  Halfway through the movie, I called him out to do his math, and I handed them each some candy.

None of it is working.  He's still gayly talking about getting Mindcraft on his next iPhone.  I've explained to him that he won't have an i anything until he's a teenager, but it falls on deaf, utterly optimistic ears.  My brother and his wife stopped here the other night on their way back to Florida from Mass.  During the trip down, their kids had asked them the meaning of immune.  The only definition that really clicked for them was, "Jack Peter is immune to punishment."  I'm considering contacting Frances Weiner.  Perhaps she and I could start some sort of support group for mothers of blithely optimistic exhibitionists-MOBOE.

By the way, please don't think that I'm vagazzled.  I have an odd feeling about my own nudity.  I always imagine that I could walk down the street completely naked, and no one would notice.  I think it's because I don't really have any frills.  My body is the Jetta diesel of bodies.  It gets great mileage, but no one is going to worry too much about the paint job.  I think I've felt that way because my mom had the body equivalent of a Town and Country Mini Van with leather seats, a sun roof and a DVD player in the back.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bird in the house

I'm at my mom's, and I'm supposed to go back to Philly tomorrow.  I dragged my neglected portion of the 2012 holiday cards up here thinking that I would complete them.  A lot of them go to my business clients.  On July 12, what am I supposed to write to business clients on a card picturing my children wearing photo-shopped santa hats?  I wonder what I did say considering that I had to be drunk to do it.  I'm, once again, wowing the world with my ability to juggle it all!  The annoying part was that the entire time I was trying to focus on the cards, Martha Stewart was out there in a fog of mosquitos banging on the door with a huge "domestic time-management" trophy in her arms.

I've been procrastinating.  How?  Well, I maintain an extremely holier-than-thou claim that my children have no TV or electronics, and that they only get 1 movie-night a week.  However, I should hire one of those guys who talk really fast on ads to follow me around with a disclaimer:
Unless my children are up before ten at either my mother's or my mother in law's house OR if I'm at a friends house, and I'd rather be drunk than paying attention to them OR if  they are hanging out with someone closely, distantly or not related to them who has an electronic device OR if they are nauseous, concussed, cranky, pre-menstrual, depressed or strung out on crack OR if it's a long weekend, short weekend, holiday, weekday OR if it has snowed, rained, hailed or tsunami-d anywhere within 3000 miles within the past 10 years...

So I've been procrastinating by neglecting my children in front of the TV or their cousin's iPad while reading Bossypants or hanging out with friends and drinking.  I've also been creating a website/blog for my mom's skirts.  I've spoken about the yarn bombing before, so I'll just put a link and a picture here:

My other forms of procrastination that do not involve neglect are: dying any child within reach's hair permanently iridescent purple or dying green lightening bolts into their hair and having them come out so non-lightening-bolt-esque that they get deemed deliberately-created Puma insignias.  (God, I love my see-the-cup-half-full son)

except when he throws sand at the beach seven times after I've told him to stop OR talks back to my mom OR gets kicked off the bus OR whines about the ipad OR drops and shatters a massive bowl of Rice Crispies with too much sugar on them in the middle of my mom's kitchen OR cheats at Battleship OR grabs my breast and says "cupcake" suggestively OR does mouth farts on my arm far too many times to be funny OR spits his toothpaste past the sink into the nebulous back-sink area OR asks me to help him do Oragami

see...this disclaimer gig is full-time!

How else have I been procrastinating?  I've been sending pictures of my family eating lobster to my brother in law's girlfriend who just started a 21-day cleanse during which she can eat nothing and cc-ing bitter homosexuals in New York City who love lobster.  It's amazing how much time selecting the perfect buttery lobster photo can take.

I have also been not bathing.  How can "not bathing" take time?  Well, I have hideous eczema.  I have to bathe eventually, so "not bathing" is just another tier on my ladder of procrastination.  My bathing options at my mom's are: her shower, Dick's shower, and the yellow hall shower.

Normally I choose her shower.  There, I get to use all of the expensive bath products that I've bought her for the past 5 years.  I get to ruminate over which mildew-infused loofah to weather, and I get to pour on that fabulous Aveda "for blondes" that is supposed to make the hair on my head that is not hot pink or iridescent purple not look orange.  The Aveda neighbors are copious dollar store and Marshall's shower gels or unused Jessica McClintock products that Dick gave my mom that she probably is too sad about his death to use.  Susie's shower has climbed on the difficulty scale.  The door no longer closes, so she has a bungee cord to loop around the tub faucet to keep the spray from re-opening the spackled hole in the ceiling that would regularly tsunami water into the living room during holidays of my youth.  A few days ago I wrapped the cord around the tub faucet and, for some reason, panicked and let it go because it turned the cold water onto my feet.  The cord snapped into my left eye and blinded me.  I'm still bitter about that, so the bungee cord shower is out.

Dick's shower is downstairs.  It has a cool stone floor, but the products are sparse, and both my mom and I have shattered a beer bottle near it trying to extricate a dead pig or tired plate of deviled eggs from the primarily beer fridge in the same room.  I don't want to complicate the blindness with a poorly swept up beer bottle amputation.  The yellow shower has been re-done recently.  Remember my mom gushing as she compared her faux-finishing sponge-painting to Monet's water lilies?  (Sorry Claude, Susie really nailed it with a sponge and some acrylics)  I like that shower, but the yellow bathroom is home to about 50 carpenter ants who are each as long as my big toe.  The larger problem is that Misty and Snowy, the cats, brought a baby skunk up there, taunted it, and killed it in the tub leaving it unrecognizable except for the smell.  Susie must have had a head cold for 4 months, so she didn't discover the carnage until the diabolical funk had settled into the pores of the tile and the water lilies.

Misty and Snowy are praise-worthy hunters.  There have been daily sacrifices offered to us through the cat door.  It adds to the 5-kid chaos in a Darwinian way.  We worry about the animal until it bores us by going under a large piece of furniture to either die or be retrieved and killed by Snowy, the more humane of the two cats.

It all makes me remember long, romantic phone conversations with one of my college long-distance boyfriends.  I'd regale him with stories of 1 Spy Rock Hill, and he would take it all with a grain of salt.  His skepticism about the extent of the chaos always bugged me.  One day as I was administering phone fellatio to him, my dad was  fabricating his daily anti pasta salad.

recipe: the best leaves on a head of lettuce,
leaving the worst for my mom to which he responded,"Why don't you just throw them away and have the best for yourself as well?" to which any self-respecting lettuce martyr would snort haughtily
tomatoes, feta cheese, genoa salami, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and oil

Mom was in the garden.  All of a sudden Peter screams, "BIRD IN THE HOUSE!!!!!  SUSIE!!!! EMERGENCY!!!! BIRD IN THE HOUSE!!!!"  Susie is screaming from the garden, "THEN GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE!"  Peter is screaming more desperately, "SUSIE!!!!  BIRD IN THE HOUSE"  Susie relents and comes running to his aid, but in the lapse time, Penny our neighbor starts screaming from across the woods, "SUSIE!!!!! PETER SAYS THERE'S A BIRD IN THE HOUSE!!!!"  and then to her husband who is in their house, "EVAN!!!!  THERE IS A BIRD IN PETER AND SUSIE'S HOUSE!!!!!"  All I had to do to make my point about the 1 Spy Rock Hill insanity was to hold up the phone for 5 minutes.  The poor boyfriend was in tears screaming at me, "I THOUGHT YOU WERE KIDDING!!!!  IS THIS SERIOUSLY HAPPENING???"

Yes it is...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bad bus behavior and true love

"Mom, I'm very discerning about cake and quinoa.  I don't really like that cake."  I wish I could say the same.  I've eaten half of it.  He said he wanted a tombstone cake, but apparently this wasn't the right shape of tombstone.  It does kind of look like a fire hydrant.  JP got kicked off of the school bus for 3 days this week because he got out of his seat.  The bus driver, our beloved Clarence, told him to sit down.  He didn't listen.  Clarence had to pull the bus over to sort it out.  This is the Clarence who picks Jack Peter up at the door of the house and drops him off at aftercare for us.  He's added an extra 8 hours to my week by doing that.  For the first 2 weeks of the year I had to bustle the girls and Jack Peter out to the bus stop down the street and wait for 10 minutes.  I would have had to leave the studio 2 hours early to meet him on the back end.  After that initial 2 weeks Clarence knows he's no longer being followed by his higher-ups.  He, then, tailors his route to accommodate kids and their families.  

Crossing Clarence called for drastic measures:  we cancelled Jack Peter's bounce house, bacon, beer birthday bash.  (The beer was for the parents.)  It's his relentless optimism that really got him in trouble.  When asked why he didn't mind Clarence, he responded, "I didn't think he could see me!"  When we told him that we'd be taking 12 hours out of our week to get him to school and back for 3 days and that we were pissed about it, Jack Peter said, "I get to go in CAR LINE!  Rosie (his girlfriend) is in car line!"  When we told him we were canceling his birthday party, he initially didn't believe it.  He wept and moped for a couple of days.  His last comment about the subject was, "When I turn 8, my party is going to be HUGE!!!"  I guess I'll be sending out "save the date" cards in January; it's going to be a RAGER!

I wonder where Jack Peter gets that insane optimism.  I've had a rough 3 years.  I've essentially had an unsuccessful pregnancy every 6 months.  I stopped telling my mom about the pregnancies when we learned that Dick was sick.  I figured she didn't need anymore bad news or anything else to worry about.  Tim was gone last week, and she came to help.  She not only did a ton of kid stuff: picking them up, cooking, cleaning, homework, but also, she came to the studio and did annoying chores for me there.  She was waxing the bottoms of pots, and I was glazing, and I told her about my attempts to have a #4.  Her first reaction was a quiet, "That must have been so hard."  Not 5 minutes had gone by before she said, "Imagine how much you've saved on birth control!!!!"  I've been wondering about my lack of trauma when each pregnancy would end.  I'd be sad for a bit, and then I'd think, "Yay!  I'm going to have a DRINK tonight!"  It's as if we are chemically unable to achieve angst. I've started to refer to my uterus as "Babyschwitz."  That can't be OK...

Jack Peter was allowed back on the bus this morning.  By the time I'd arrived at the studio at 8:45, I had an e-mail from the school administrator telling me to call.  Jack Peter and Theodore had decided to play catch with their lunch boxes on the bus.  Tomorrow we have a conference with his teacher about Jack Peter's behavior in the classroom.  Why can't we have one of those kids who's crappy at home and great at school?  Oh yeah, we do...Steel.

Steel has actually calmed down at home, and she is a peach at school.  She's also in love.  It's a strong word, but it's really been quite a romance.  Jack Peter is friends with a twin duo, Owen and Cole.  Their mom, Deena, is my first Green Woods Charter School mom friend.  It started in the winter with a play date.  She followed up with an e-mail:

I remembered your saying something about the lunches you pack Jack Peter.... See if you can top this in the "why is my mom so weird" category:
today's menu:
home-made guacamole
organic corn chips 
cherry tomatoes
home-made corn bread
dried pomegranite
what's in your wallet?  any novel lunch ideas?  in like your "spare time" :)
hope your night is going better than mine...

My response:

Geez, i cant imagine having trouble with lunch.  we just give him an almond milk, kale, mango, blueberry smoothie every day!
ummmm...Jack peter has 2 lambchops, shelled edamame and grapes today.  I'd say we're on the same rung of Dante's inferno...
One of his stand-by lunches is black beans with melted cheese in thermos and tortilla chips to scoop them; I always squeeze lemon and a WEE bit of sugar on cut apples.  Miso soup used to be a good one: tofu, seaweed n miso-super easy.  Lentil soup from trader joes got rave reviews, Clam chowder, Pork, soyaki and mayo on ritz with cucumber on top.  He got teased for that.  Pork mush looked weird.  I do the same with tuna, but no soyaki, and usually olives in that one.  I often put salt and olive oil on halved grape tomatoes.  Steel used to like baked potatoes.  Quinoa pasta although I don't really see the quinoa benefit-no more protein than normal pasta; I can't get them to eat quinoa, but we like quinoa tabouli-almonds, carrots, scallions, a touch if cumin and agave, with chicken and either mint or cilantro.  BACON...Ants on a log?  (Celery p-butter, raisins)
Should I write a cookbook?  Yesterday a woman who just wrote a book on kids bento lunches was on NPR.  She cuts apples into pokeman characters.

your message was hilarious.. thanks for a few good belly laughs.pokeman shaped apples slices- too funny- and I am so "not that mom "

Oh I forgot, sometimes I just fill his little thermos with melted butter and throw a lobster in the bag.

If she and I had met in college, we'd have been talking about homo-erotic behavior of football players at frat parties or Is there major difference in sex with an uncircumcised guy versus a circumcised one? or Is that visiting professor hot or a dork?  Now an in-depth discussion of Craisins is the road to mom BFFs.  

Shortly after our first meeting, Deena and her husband were going to her 21st Who concert in Atlantic City, and the sitter fell through.  (I'm still having trouble with the Who thing. I had to see the faces of the Who every morning for a year as my first boarding school roommate had a poster of them on our wall.  They are not good-looking guys.)  I invited the boys to spend the night.  They met me at my house, and we walked to pick up my kids.  The first stop was the girls.  Steel and Toby popped out of the fray, and Steel met Owen face to face.  She gets very close to people when she first meets them.  Their faces were about 5 inches apart.  She gave him her usual, quizzical stare, and his body jolted like he'd had a little shock.  Steel and Owen got into the double stroller together while Cole and Toby walked to get JP.  They stayed like that until we got home.  

I always worry that Jack Peter and his boy friends will leave out the girls and be mean.  I kept Toby with me cooking dinner, figuring Steel could hold her own.  I called them all for dinner telling Owen and Cole that they could each sit next to JP.  Owen looked at me and said, "I want to sit next to Steel!"  "OK" I said.  "Who will take the pink cup?"  Owen said, "I want it!"  Even my girls won't take the pink cup.  (Steel had her super-bright pink hair at the time.  I attribute Owen's sudden, aggressive love of pink to that.)  Steel and Owen cuddled throughout the entire movie that followed dinner.  I got everyone to bed with Owen and Cole on the air mattress, and my kids in their beds.  When I went to check them an hour and a half later, Owen and Steel were asleep together in her bed.  We've seen them a few times since; I've heard about some closet kisses, but I've not seen the strange intensity of that first night and morning.   Recently, Steel, Toby, and I picked up JP at Owen and Cole's birthday party, and I did notice that Owen didn't even greet her, and my heart broke a little bit.  She said, confidently, "He didn't see me."

On mommy day this week, Steel spent a fair bit of time writing a note to Owen.  She had to ask me how to spell a lot of it, but I wasn't allowed to see the final thing as she had made an envelope for it.  Of course I peeked before I gave it to Deena Tuesday morning at school.  (One nice thing about the bus hiatus is that I've actually gotten to see how the school rolls , and I got to see Deena and meet a couple more moms)  

Owen, I just wanted you to know that I love you.  Steel  

Deena vowed to give it to Owen on his own, so he could digest it without getting ribbed by his dad or by Cole.  My heart leapt this morning when I saw what I thought was Owen's response written on a file card.

Steel, I love you.  Owen

I texted a picture to Deena, and she said, "What?  I haven't had a moment to give Steel's note to Owen!"  We spent the day hypothesizing.  All of our theories were proved wrong.  Owen wrote the note to Steel on Tuesday and had Jack Peter deliver it without knowing that Steel had just written him.  It's uncanny.  They haven't seen each other for over a month.  Owen went into his room on his own to read the note.  He came out beaming and told Deena she could read it.  She did.  He said, "Can you read it out loud; I want to make sure I got it all."  After reading it, Deena gushed, "Owen, it's so great that you're friends and you love each other!"  His solemn response, "Mom, it's a bit more than that!"  

At least I'll get along with one set of in-laws....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Yarn Bombing

Susie skirt at the Kennedy Center
The runners of Philadelphia wore Red Sox shirts this evening to commemorate the Boston Marathon Bombings.  I told my kids to say, "Go Red Sox!" to the joggers as they passed.  Some of them gave us thumbs up, and I started to blubber.

The girls and I had abandoned dinner to pick Jack Peter up at karate.  His karate teacher, Sensei Brandon, speaks to Jack Peter in a Samuel L. Jackson voice.  As I grabbed the bag with Jack Peter's karate uniform, Sensei Brandon commanded, "Jack Peter, YOUR MOTHER does not carry your karate uniform; you are IN CHARGE of your uniform."  It's amazing how quickly Jack Peter will man up for Sensei Brandon.  I imagine Jack Peter's four uncles doing the same for the infamous "Grandpa Jack."  I adore the manliness of my husband and his brothers.  I'm glad someone is here to prompt my son in that direction because it's not happening over here in glitter-shoe-pink-hair-knit-skirt fairy land.

Jack Peter even pushed the girls in the stroller for half a block.  Another deep-voiced black man had watched JP hop onto the stroller and said, "You should be pushing that stroller; what are you doing in there?"  To my surprise, Jack Peter hopped out, told me to walk ahead and pushed for half a block until the front wheel tapped the heel of my boot, the stroller bounced back and hit him in the nose.  Steel jumped out of her seat, guided him into it and tried to make him laugh so he'd stop howling while Toby stroked him with her little fat hand. God, I hope they always have each other's backs like that.

This evening the pictures of the "suspects" in the bombing were released by the FBI.  They look no older than my oldest niece.  That fact makes me as sad as knowing that one of the victims was about Jack Peter's age.  Tim just rejected a job in Boston at Northeastern University.  Neither of us was prepared to move to Boston despite his admiration for the program at Northeastern and for the academic environment of the Boston area.  I feel like a sham being overwrought about the "Boston Marathon Bombings," but I cannot help it.  To the untrained, not-from-New England-ear, my father's thick Rhode Island accent is the same as the ones we've been hearing on the radio deflecting the inquiries of the press.  Not too many years ago, my mother and her, now deceased, soulmate were at that finish line cheering on his daughter as she crossed the finish line.  Most of my high school shenanigans occurred in Boston.  I am linked to that city whether I admit it or not.  I listen to the stories of the stalwart Bostonians and can't help but feel pride.  In the next breath I feel shame at this sudden, emotional appropriation of my Massachusetts roots.

What is it to be from Massachusetts?  I can tell you that my mother is busy knitting red, white and blue skirts for me, Steel, Toby, Gillian (my niece) Jana (my sister in law) Hope (my god daughter) to wear on the 4th of July.  The 4th of July celebration in my town is not unlike Patriot's Day in Boston just on a smaller scale without any major sporting events except for watching the hot-dog-eating-people on TV at the end of the parade.  Why is my mom knitting those skirts? 1. because we will look so cute at the 4th of July parade where we will see all of her friends. 2. because she lost her soul mate on Labor Day, and that is the productive way in which she grieves.  I believe that both of those reasons are what it is to be from Massachusetts, and you can bet that she's getting all of that yarn on sale too.

These are just mine...I owned the one Jen is wearing and dyed it for her because she's not really a pink person.  If I had a dime for every person who asked me for either a skirt or the pattern, and if I had a penny for each time Jen gets asked....

At some point during that 4th of July celebration, one or both of my girls will remove their shirts because it will be hot, and they will be sticky with the candy that gets thrown from the fire engines in the parade.  They will be wearing the skirts and sandals and nothing else.  Is unabashed nudity part of being from Massachusetts?  I don't know.  I do know that my mother sewed my bikini bottoms for most of my childhood.  I suppose I should really say "monokini;" she refused to sew a top "until you have something to put in it."   To her friends she would say, "I won't have my daughter sexualized by a ridiculous 2-piece bathing suit!"  Sadly, I still don't have anything to put in my top, but when I see little girls at the Jersey shore in their hoochie-mamma spangly 2-piece swimsuits, I understand.  

My mom routinely scaled three flights of stairs naked in my youth until the washing machine was moved from the basement to the 3rd floor.  Then she only had to streak down the hall if she forgot the fabric softener.  I watched my father's morning routine EVERY morning.  I just loved the bristle-y sound of the razor on his whiskers.  On a good day, he'd dot my nose with shaving cream or my mom would give me a spray of her Chanel #5.  My dad was immodest until I turned 12, then the towel went on in the shower before he emerged.  I'd see his disembodied arm reaching for the towel as mine does at the YMCA when I come out of the showers.

I've had two brushes with my lenient attitude towards nudity in the past two weeks.  I went swimming last Saturday at the Y.  I usually go with the kids, but Tim urged me to go on my own.  He and I had taken advantage of my mother's presence and gone out to a bar the night before.  In a drunken moment of "clarity," I'd told him that I was finally extricating myself from my desire to have a 4th child.  A hungover swim was necessary the next morning.  To get to the pool, one walks through the showers.  I always take the locker next to the door to the showers, so I can grab my (completely dry) towel as I re-enter the locker room.  I don't like carrying it into the pool.  I swam, showered and opened the door to the locker room fixing to grab the towel and staunch my naked floor drips.  I was greeted by a woman sitting on the bench in front of "my" locker.  She had an incredibly adorable 5-month-old girl in a snuggly strapped to her expansive chest.  I was paralyzed, swooning over this gorgeous baby forgetting entirely about grabbing my towel.  The baby's 3-year-old sister danced around as I cooed.  I couldn't ignore the 3-year-old, so I, the naked white lady, chatted with her, as well.  Meanwhile, poor mom of 4 was shouting at her two boys to "TURN AROUND AND FACE THE WALL!!!!!"  She was in there with 4 kids trying to get them all ready for the pool.  She was perfectly happy to talk to me about her gorgeous baby; she'd just snap at the boys periodically, "FACE THE WALL!"  I finally realized that, as much as she loved my adoration of her youngest, my presence was creating anarchy in the other 3.  I slunk off to the curtained changing area with my bag.  As they all left the locker room for the pool, I heard her shouting to the boys, "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AROUND FOR????? SHE'S GONE!  GET INTO THE SHOWERS!!!!"  

The only thing I take away from that experience is that I can still bring Jack Peter into the women's locker room for 2 more years.  Her boys were 5 and 8.  The policy at the Y is that one can have kids of the opposite gender in the parent's locker room until they are 5.  I sent Jack Peter into the men's room once because we'd gone with his friend, Caspar.  Caspar said that a naked man was saying "potty talk."  I'm not sure if that was just a guy on his phone changing into his clothes or something weird.  Jack Peter did not corroborate the story, but it was enough for me to think twice about making JP deal with the men's locker room on his own for a while.  From that baby meltdown, I also should admit that I'm not fully committed to giving up on a 4th child.

I did test the theory that Steel is looking embarrassed in this image because we are wearing the same skirt.  I copied her green Susie skirt/black tee outfit exactly, and she was pleased.  My mom has knit 3 matching skirts for Heather and her 2 girls.  The older, in Kindergarten, said, "Mom, we are never going to be twinsies, alright?!  If I'm wearing mine, you CAN'T wear yours!"  I'll be so sad if Steel is like that in a year's time...

The second nudity issue happened at the park.  The girls and I stopped to play before getting Jack Peter.  Steel was flipping around on the swings and bars.  Every time I saw her knickers, I'd sing, "I see London; I see France; I see Steely's underpants!"  I left the girls to the play equipment to hang out with a girlfriend.  All of a sudden 2 black women were screaming at me..."Your girl's underwear are showing!!!!!"  My response was, "We don't really care about that sort of thing, but thank you."  Was I referring to white people from Massachusetts when I said "we?"  I'm still not sure what I should have done.  I used to have blue leotard-material "bloomers" to put over my underwear when I was doing penny drops in 4th grade, but that was way back when knickers were all white and knicker-looking.  Steel's were a very bikini-esque blue.  Also, I was 10; she's FIVE.  Who cares about her cute little undies???

I might as well move from nudity to public urination.  Yesterday, poor Toby had to confront the fact that she will never pee standing up with any aplomb.  We had taken 30 minutes to pull ourselves out of what was supposed to be and early Sunday dinner with friends.  The house was big enough that 5 kids disappeared while we drank a new drink...Dark and Stormies; I'd happily have sat there all night.  I suddenly realized that Monday and possibly the whole week was going to be hell if my kids weren't sleeping in the next 17 minutes.  Toby announced as we were finally getting into the mini van, "I have to pee!"  We were not going back into the house.  I held her as she "popped a squat" in my friends' yard.  (I'd never heard that term.  Deena told me that Toby could "pop a squat" in her yard anytime in response to my guilty, "i let my girl pee in your yard" text.)  Toby had attempted to do it standing, but she's still small enough that I can pull her pants down to her ankles, flip her around and bend her over in a pretty fluid motion.  I think she was disappointed.

Queen's Fat-bottomed Girls rocked the Honda Odyssey on our way home.  As we flew down the off ramp from 676 Toby asked, "Mama, are WE fat-bottomed girls?"  I replied, "Well, it's all relative.  Living in Philly, we don't really have any claims to that title, but I'll put it this way, if you grow up looking like me, it's more likely you'll be with a bottom guy than top guy." (especially if you keep wearing those flouncy Grandma Susie numbers...)

I cried a little again listening to the coverage of Boston's attempts to return to normalcy this morning.  Unravelling the root of my sadness has been hard.  I feel lucky and happy so much of the time.  I get weepy and proud when I watch runners cross the finish line of the marathon.  I feel connected to their triumph.  I'm uplifted by their accomplishment maybe because I too, once ran a marathon.  But I feel the same pride watching anyone try hard and succeed because we are all connected.  Conversely,  I feel so sad when two brothers, 19 and 26 arrive at the conclusion that bombing innocent people is the right decision.  We are all failing, and I have no idea what to do about it.

California girls in Susie skirts.  It's a nationwide revolution....

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I'm brining a turkey as we speak.  At one moment today I was brining a turkey, dying a lightening bolt into my son's hair, working at the studio and resisting the temptation to micro-manage my new studio assistant with some very intricate bubble wrapping.  If I'd answered the phone, I'd have been talking to my mom, as well.  Maybe that's why I liked being pregnant so much.  I could have been doing all that AND making a baby.

Right now I'm in charge of 4 kids who are watching Return of the Jedi for movie night.  In full-disclosure of my multi-tasking scenario, I might add that I'm on my second rye and ginger of the evening.  I think of myself as someone who recognizes and craves the finer things in life.  My relationship to rye and ginger is an anomaly.  Rye and ginger is a "Nanny drink."  Tim's mom started us on them.  For her, it has to be Canada Dry Ginger Ale, but she's never balked at Windsor Canadian, the cheaper version of Canadian Club.  There's an even CHEAPER version, Canadian Gold with which I made her a drink 2 nights ago.  She didn't bring it up, but, when prodded, she admitted that it might not be as smooth as Canadian Club.  Honestly I sort of like that rough edge; I'm becoming a cheap date.

One of the four kids, Jerrod, is not mine.  He's been eating since he walked in the door 3 hours ago.  He's onto the pistachios now.  On his way back to the movie room, he asked me for a bowl for the shells.  I handed him one, and he said wide-eyed, "You gotta alotta small bowls!" in his perfect, "What you talkin' about, Willis?" black urban accent.  I said, "Jerrod, I make small bowls for a living."  He looked at the side of his bowl, shrugged and walked back into the movie room.  He's not impressed.

In, yet another attempt to multi-task, I agreed to let a friend, Gavin, film me at the studio answering a few questions.  He's got a great gig casting for a Walmart "Real Mom" campaign.  Every Tuesday, for a year, he needs to come up with four moms who will agree to do their shopping on camera.  Two of the four get $250 to shop and then another $250 credit at Walmart.  One of them has to do a commercial.  Usually Gavin puts an ad on Craigslist telling moms to video tape themselves answering 5 questions.  He forwards the videos to some guy in California, and that's it.  He forgot to place the Craigslist ad, so he had to come up with some moms fast.  I figured the pink hair would be a Walmart ad deterrent.  Although honestly, my multi-tasking capabilities did not extend to thinking through the humiliation of having all of Philadelphia and South Jersey witness my mock surprise in a Walmart ad.

Heather was the other mom.  We caravanned to a random New Jersey Starbuck's to meet with the little marketing team.  They gave us $250, and we were let loose to shop at Acme. (a local grocery store) Heather and I had spent an entire swim at the pool and another phone conversation plotting what we would buy.  We could spend $250, but only on 40 items.  It was challenging to come up with that many over $5 things at a grocery store.  Both of us are from New England.  Clearly we weren't going to get 40 items that came to a penny under $250.

We convened at Walmart to have the contents of our carts analyzed.  The pink hair theory wasn't looking good.  One of the marketing people had a dyed black overgrown mohawk with clippered pink hair on the sides of her head.  The camera guy had shaved eyebrows and a purple/black goth look.

During the cart analysis Heather and I were treated to a tour of the 250,000 sq. foot Walmart by Chris, the rotund manager.  He was probably a good looking guy in high school.  He commented on his weight every few minutes.  He presents his love of food like a fascinating hobby.  Some people play piano; others knit.  Chris eats.  Both Heather and I immediately digressed into our brown-noser-in-high-school persona.  We feigned interest, asking pertinent questions about his Walmart.  Chris happily responded, and it was fun for the first twenty minutes.  An hour and a half later I could only assume that Chris had a little crush on Heather.  He'd gone into excruciating detail about his saga with Walmart's corporate headquarters in procuring pork roll for his store.  With a proud swipe of a borrowed inventory gun we marveled at how many pork rolls Chris has sold in the past 3 months.  I'm still wondering what percentage of those went home with Chris.  I'd never heard of pork roll.  Shocked, he went into the dietary needs of his mostly-Italian demographic.  He was getting a little too deep into the Feasts of the 7 Fishes and directing the bulk of the information to poor Heather.  I finally said, "Chris! Heather's kids are named Luca, Ciela, and Gia; She could write a book on Jersey WOP culture."

Sadly, the commercial mom is picked by the percentage of savings she would have gotten at Walmart on her shopping trip.  My olive oil and Starbucks coffee put me in a 19% savings category.  Heather's Doritos and Reynolds Wrap left her with only a 17% savings.  Even though she would have been way cuter on camera, and she would have been happy to leave Rene, her husband, to cope for a day, Heather got to go home.  I, on the other hand, had to say, "Awesome!" and "Great!" for the next 6 hours.

My first issue was the make-up artist.  She listened to my "less is more" caveat in all areas but lip gloss.  I could feel strands of it connecting my lips when I spoke.  At 39, I would have just gooped my way through, assuming that she's the expert, but I'm 43 now, so I actually said something every time she re-applied.  The next problem was my inability to stop saying "Oh my God!"  The chunky Mormon girl from Walmart Headquarters with iridescent purple eye shadow followed us around on the shoot making sure that no legal boundaries were crossed.  Once she'd told me I couldn't say "Oh my God!" it was impossible for me to stop.  In the bathroom, not peeing on the shackle-like microphone stuck to the back of my leggings while worrying whether the sound guy was listening proved difficult as well.

Thankfully there was Dave.  Dave is the actor who has to explain gleefully on camera to moms every Tuesday how much they would have saved had they shopped at Walmart.  Dave abandoned teaching elementary school after a after a talent show because a student's mom responded to Dave's skit with another teacher, "You're good at that!  You should be an actor!"  

Dave hopped down the aisle with my Starbuck's coffee in an Easter basket singing Here comes Peter Cottontail effortlessly springing into his spiel.  He could look directly into the camera with the right amount of handsome authority, jauntily discussing savings percentages while helping me not collapse into a puddle of "Oh my God's!"  That's serious multi-tasking, and it's his gift.  I'd just been discussing Justin Timberlake with poor Shaina, my new studio assistant.  (Poor Shaina because she has to listen to me talk about stupid crap like Justin Timberlake's willingness to flog Bud Lite) Why the hell would he want to do that?  He doesn't need the money?  I asked Dave if he got famous, would he still do a Bud Lite ad?  He said, "I can't answer that."  Maybe doing a Bud Lite ad for Justin Timberlake is like my making a lamp finial.

I had an experience 10 years ago that gave me great admiration for models.  I got a call from Danny, my English stylist friend in San Francisco, "CHICKEN, all of my models are too skinny, and YOU'RE TOO FAT!  You need to have a 26" waist in 2 weeks to model a $10,000 wedding dress on the local morning TV show."  I ate oranges and soup for 2 weeks, and the dress was swimming on me.  A professional model, my friend, Jennifer, and I had to turn around on a little stage in these dresses and smile.  I was appalled at how effortless the model and Jen flowed as they spun around.  I looked like the dwarf next to the little girl in this Velasquez painting.  I just don't have that fluid, "Look at me, I'm fantastic" gene. 

Tim has gotten countless texts saying, "Did I just see your wife in a Walmart ad?"  Picking up Jack Peter at after care, I was greeted with, "When did you start working for the devil?"  Apparently there was a print ad too, so I could also be humiliated in front of people who don't watch TV, as well.  Perhaps my Walmart ad is running at the same time that I'm blogging.  I can be blogging and flogging at the same time.  There's always a silver lining.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jesus and feathering lipstick

So Tim left this morning for DC.  He's gone for 2 days.  I need to get used to it because he's going to be teaching in DC and in NYC for the next few months.  Can't he find teaching jobs that don't interfere with trash night?  He DID empty the dishwasher at 6 am which is basically foreplay and made me my smoothie and salad.  However, he also bought 8 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and left me alone with them.  I keep walking up to the Samosa's and saying in a sultry french voice, under my breath, "So, my darlings, we meet again."  I stole that line from Colin, a college friend, who greeted a Sara Lee coffee cake in that manner for an entire weekend until it was gone.

I've had low expectations for this week.  First, I cannot get the Taylor Swift song, "We will NEVER EVER EVER get back together" out of my head.  Tim has been complaining about having "Farmer's Daughter" from Steel's Country Men Mix stuck in his head.  My sympathy isn't high because it's a better song, and Tim actually has to use his head during the day.  I can have a song go through my brain every 30 seconds for 8 hours when I'm glazing.

Speaking of glazing.  I've spoken before about my inability to withstand my pepto pink glaze.  I've had numerous people tell me how much they hate it.  The best was the following description accompanying an order:
My tendency is to like sad, snot dripping melodic music, w/a shimmering,  life validating inner resonnance.  Sure, it's so f.......g easy to say I like urbchic whites, golds and stoneware's lite blues.  I stand by  my  political views - to totally despise pink and everything it stands for. Who lives that life? Let's just walk away and say my pain is between Adele and Munchausen by Proxy.
This morning,with a subject line "Pink" I sent him this image with the following text:
I can't help it!  This morning's kiln offerings look so cute with my scary breakfast smoothie.  Don't worry, next week it'll be all the moody, angst-ridden, nihilistic pots.
His response:
It's the diabolical pink straw that makes it gangster.
You give me too much credit. Nihilism requires the realization of a moral dissolution.
Superficial ambiguity is more my style.
I really shouldn't complain about things when most of the people I deal with in my professional life are cooky gallery owners who don't bat an eye at being sent a random iPhone picture of a cappuccino cup and a collard green smoothie at 8:45 am on a Thursday.  I can't imagine what would happen if I had a real job.

I responded that if he found the straw diabolical, he should have seen the lipstick I nicked off of Steel to wear.  Straws ARE diabolical.  I've been trying to kick my straw habit.  My mom is a straw addict.  She washes hers.  I'm pretty green, but washing straws and ziplock bags really bugs me.  If I'm going to have a straw, I want a new one.  I'd be lying if I said I was trying to quit straws because of the trash factor.  It's the sucking.  Make-up people talk about lipstick "feathering" meaning it's going into the tiny wrinkles around your lips and making little lines around your mouth.  "Feathering" is a really nice way to say, "Your lipstick is foreshadowing how you'll look when you're corpse," assuming I live long enough to be old and super-wrinkly.  I'm making a conscious effort to smile more when I'm alone at the studio, and I'm going to stop sucking on things to stave off those hideous mouth wrinkles.  Some mornings, though, I just need a straw.

Tim is actually gone, but he's also metaphorically gone.  He's on the wagon again: reason number 2 for low expectations this week.  I'm trying to be supportive, but last night my kiln went late, and it fired poorly.  I NEEDED a rye and ginger.  This morning, I had the genius idea to pack a half a grapefruit in Steel's and Jack Peter's lunches.  They each only ate a third.  I took that as a sign that I should have a vodka/grapefruit to help me through trash night.  Sadly that's been accompanied by another and 8 girl scout cookies.  I want to start an alternative girl scout troop.  We'll make baked goods without high fructose corn syrup and all the other crap.  We'll sell them, and then use the proceeds to take the RV "camping."

My third reason for low expectations this week is that it's pledge week on NPR, but I've discovered KLUV. It's theme is, "positive and enthusiastic radio!"  I have not gone online to sign up for the 30-day challenge, only positive, enthusiastic Christian Music for a month, but I'm pretty taken with the station.  It's helping with my smile-more-at-the-studio agenda.  Let me ask you, if being a Christian were illegal, would there be enough evidence to indict you?  What?  That line almost got Taylor Swift out of my head.  What would it take to make me believe?  If I did listen to KLUV, and then I managed to write a book and have a 4th child, and my lipstick stopped feathering would I think that God or Jesus helped me?  I doubt it.

One of the positive and enthusiastic stories was about a burglar coming into a jewelry party.  Women have moved onto selling jewelry instead of tupperware or cosmetics.  The hostess screamed at him, "In the name of Jesus, get out of my house!"  All of the ladies started shouting JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!  The robber left.  One can deduce that Jesus was, in fact, there.  Maybe the NRA people need to hear that story.  See!  We don't need guns; Jesus will come!  Don't they all believe in Jesus?

My favorite story was about a female pianist and marshall artist.  She just got into the Guinness Book of Worlds Records because she's the first woman WITH NO ARMS to get a pilots' license.  The moral of the story is "Are your limitations really limitations?"  It made me think of my favorite friend of Tim's, 1-armed-Mike.  He came in drunk one night bitching about how hard it is to deal with cling wrap with only one arm.  Yeah, she can fly a plane, and play Chopin with her feet, but I'd like to see her wrap up a tuna sandwich!  The dj's also discuss challenges people face.  Weight challenges kept coming up, so I found myself adding lines into the songs.  "I was at the bottom again....of a bag of Doritos."

The songs are modified rock ballads and anthems.  Instead of "I want to f__k you forever" it's "Jesus is with you forever" It takes a minute to realize that they are all about Jesus.  One of the every-hour hits has the unintelligible line: "stuck in a valley of a shadow of death." He must be talking about lipstick feathering.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Saving the best for last

"WHAT'S MY NAME?  SKIP?" is usually shouted at a McDonald family gathering if one forgets to deliver a snack or drink to any of the 14 people sprawled on the couch in a post-roast coma watching a holiday special from the 60's.  I'm imagining that is what cousin Ashley barked when Jack Peter kissed everyone on the couch good-night but her.  He had, in fact, forgotten her, but without missing a beat, he pointed at her with two hands, sidled over, and said with slitted bedroom eyes, "I was saving the best for last!"

What?!  Where does that come from?  His dad and I are not the most suave people on Earth.  Tim took Toby with him to do some Christmas shopping on a cold morning in December.  She was perched on his shoulders walking down 2nd street.  I'm sure they were both happily chatting away.  A woman came up to Tim with a pained look on her face and said, "Sir, you might want to pull your daughter's pants up."  Her bare ass was wrapped around his neck like a stole for 4 blocks.  It was 35 degrees out.  How did neither of them notice that?

I remember in 4th grade being asked by my Aunt Penny if I had a crush on anyone in my new school.  My temples throbbed with the rush of blood that went to my face and I willed the back seat of their red Chevy station wagon to suck me down and dump me onto the road.  I did have a crush on Frankie Brown, and I was utterly humiliated that it had been detected by my best friend's mom.  Jack Peter (6) announced nonchalantly that he has a girlfriend and that he'd kissed her.  The hussy demanded a kiss at recess the day after Jack Peter had entered THE RED ZONE, punishment for two offenses: talking in class and bumming a cracker off of his friend at lunch.  Food sharing is against the rules.  According to Jack Peter this kid can spare a cracker or two "He's CHUBBY, and he's always going to be until 8th grade," but that's not the issue.

I'd told JP that movie night was going to be rescinded unless he stayed on green all day, AND he shut out Team NPA.  He wept and wailed, "I cant control team NPA!!!", but I held fast.  I must have been trying to prepare for the holiday break.  We spend it with my brother's family every year.  The subtext to any of the vacations with Curt's family is that he and his wife are better parents than Tim and I because they are better at disciplining their children.  I admit, Owen, Gillian and Kellan ARE better behaved.  For a few months after we see them, I can reign in my girls by saying, "Would GILLIAN be screaming and crying and freaking out the way you are right now?  NO she wouldn't; she'd roll with it!!!  (Incidentally, the only thing that really gets Gillian mad is Jack Peter's torturing her with The Magic 8 Ball.  He'd ask it repeatedly whether or not Gillian was his girlfriend and then he'd scream out the affirmative answers: YOU MAY RELY ON IT!!! WITHOUT A DOUBT! YES, DEFINITELY!)

I don't know what the Green Woods Charter School stance is on PDA, but if Jack Peter had lost movie night for kissing Rosalie Trojan, it might have affected his sex life forever!  Tim picks up the kids at the end of the day.  There were butterflies in my stomach when I texted How many points for NPA?  The joy I felt at seeing the response, 0, was completely disproportionate to the situation.  Yes, I am crap at disciplining my kids.

I always, think of Steel as a mini-me.  She's crafty, she's got WAY too much energy.  Her body is straight, strong and lean.  But, like Jack Peter, she's MUCH cooler than I will ever be, and I'm pretty sure she's smarter. This isn't the best example, but we were looking for sneakers online before school.  Jack Peter and Toby picked out light-up ones.  I showed Steel her light-up options, and she looked at me disdainfully and said, "I don't want light-up sneakers!"  as if I'd offered her a pacifier and a teething toy.  She's already finding the Santa story to be suspect.  Who questions Santa at 5?

I was wearing cat-eye make up the other day, and she told me it was WAY too make-up-y.  I'd have died with happiness if I'd seen my mom in cat-eye make-up.  It was foggy, and I told her that my brother used to tell me that fog was clouds that tripped and fell.  She looked at me and said, "What would they trip over?"  (omitted but implied: dumb-ass!)  If Curt had been Steel's older brother he would never have gotten her to chew up a mouthful of peppercorns by saying, "Open your mouth and close your eyes; I'll give you a BIG SURPRISE!"  I believed/trusted my brother because I admired him, and I wanted to please him.  I was/am inherently a pleaser, and I rarely bother to question authority.  Not one of my kids shares this trait.

My brother's kids have responded to his disciplining because THEY ARE LIKE ME!  I'd like to see how his methods would work with MY kids-probably as well as my mom's disciplining worked on HIM.

When I watched the Rosalie video, I remembered that Jack Peter and Steel were making out in the shower the night before.  It had struck me as a little odd, but I hadn't wanted to make a big deal about it.  I asked him if he'd been practicing the night before on Steel, and he said "Yes!"  I admire his foresight and planning, but ummmm....