Sunday, February 28, 2010


Bear's 13th Birthday Shopping Extravaganza was an unqualified success. The party posse traveled from store to store in a cloud of teenaged materialistic giddiness. Favorite quotes from the day:

"Look at this purse ... the fabric reminds me of a dead fish. (*pause*) I LIKE IT."

"Wow. I can't believe I just spent $40 and only got two t-shirts. Money sure goes fast." -Try getting a mortgage, sweetie.

"No way am I spending my money on underwear. That's why I have a mom."

"Is this a thong or an eyepatch?"

(After listening to my BF and I rap out a raucous version of "Busta Move" along with the Glee soundtrack as we drove to the mall): "Well. That just wasn't weird at all."
(All identities except Bear and BF's daughter concealed due to not being sure if their parents know I have a blog and to avoid any potential PTA meeting weirdness if they find out I do by stumbling across photos I've posted of their kid. Plus I'm amused by the whole "several of these people have entered The Witness Protection Party as a result of this party" vibe).

For Bear's birthday cookie, I found this crazy candle online. It starts off by looking like a closed-up flower (sort of lotus-y?). When you light it, it shoots off pyrotechnics about ten inches into the air, then slowly opens into what you see here, all the while spinning and playing "Happy Birthday." Then, in a sort of grand finale, when Bear blew out the candles, it set off the smoke alarm (We upgraded to hardwired smoke alarms during the remodel that all "talk" to each other, so that when one goes off it triggers a whole houseful of bleating/beeping/honking Sweet Jesus, is a flock of Canadian geese flying through my BRAIN? kind of bedlam). Add to that: overreactive adolescent shrieking, my husband loudly wondering how to shut the damn things off, and two thoroughly panicked cats darting around assuming it's the Apocalypse. Stir and serve chilled over ice with a Motrin garnish.
Two days later on her actual birthday, when given the options of going out to lunch or to the movies, Bear said, "I really just want a lazy day at home." She spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch with her new quilt from Grandma and a stack of new books. If her maternity had ever been in doubt, I'd say that pretty much clinches that she's my kid.
Happy 13th Birthday, Bear!

Friday, February 26, 2010


This has been a really strange winter. I know from reading blogs in states south of mine that there has been no shortage of snow nationally, but here in Maine ...? We haven't had a decent snowfall since January. The massive storms that have dumped truckloads of snow in the mid-Atlantic states have passed far to our south. A normal February here is a never-ending succession of storms, snow days, and wind-chills below zero. This year, February has looked a whole lot like late March, complete with gusty winds and some rainy days. (Rain! In February! It's simply not done!). Ive even had the windows open on sunny afternoons. Oh, sure there are still patches of snow in shady spots beneath the trees, but most of it has melted.

Truth be told, I've been feeling a little pissy about the lack of snow. When you move to Maine, you sign on for epic snow. No wussy "dustings" of snow or "storms" that deliver an inch or two. Please. In Maine we measure our snowfall in FEET. This year, I've had to forfeit my winter-hardiness bragging rights and sit glumly watching clips on the national news showing dump trucks moving mountains of snow out of Washington D.C and people making snowmen in Georgia.

In the last couple of weeks, though, my thinking has shifted, and I've been all Spring ... yeah, Spring. The grass looks like it might be trying to green up a little if you squint and look at it out of the corner of your eye. There are tiny ruffs of green poking up from the base of my perennials in the flowerbeds. I've been perusing gardening catalogs, making lists, and sketching out changes I plan to make in the gardens this year. I may or may not have even poked the ground with a stick to see how much longer it will be before I (Tom) can start digging the pond I've decided I can't live without.

Which is why, of course, I logged on to this morning and saw that we're scheduled to get 4 - 8 inches of snow by tomorrow night.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Marital Bed

Before you get married, there are certain conversations that need to be had. Skipping blithely into matrimony without a thorough sit-down can result in two years later discovering you have acquired a spouse who thinks that raising minks in the basement for cash is a swell hobby. Tom and I covered all the biggies: religion, where we wanted to live, career goals, how many kids to have, pets vs. no pets, and whether black lacquer is acceptable on furniture (no). What we failed to discuss was mattress density.

I have a bad back. It functions approximately as effectively and reliably as Congress. I never know when it will stage a random attack. Paint the whole house? No problem. Hiding Easter eggs? Ten days in bed on muscle relaxants. It once went into a massive spasm as I was blow-drying my hair, sending me corkscrewing to the floor, where I laid for about an hour until I realized that sooner or later I would need to pee. By employing a sort of slow-motion, belly-side-up crab scuttle, I was able to inch my way across the living room to the phone to call a friend for help.

My point? For maximum back placation, I need a firm mattress. Firm like my stomach before I had kids.

Tom likes a cushiony mattress. At one point, he explained this by saying that the springs of our firmer mattress felt like they were stabbing him because he didn't" have as much meat on his bones". Which I pointed out was the same as calling me fat and did I mention that I'm damn handy with a butcher knife? He made a hasty retraction and some lame-ass explanation that he was specifically talking about the way his own personal hip bones are constructed. Then he shut up because I was starting to get the crazy eyes and happened to be standing within an easy arm's reach of the knife block.

For awhile, Tom and I thought that a memory foam mattress would suit both of our needs. Firm, yet cushiony. Soft, yet resilient. We both have memory foam pillows that we adore to the point of taking them with us when we travel. If we could afford it, wouldn't a whole mattress of memory foam be the ultimate perfect solution?

Short answer = no, it wouldn't. Turns out, it's like my personal mattress version of hell.

Using the excuse of Tom's 40th birthday, we splurged and bought a four-inch memory foam mattress topper. The very first night I laid down on it and thought, huh, it's squishier than I realized and kinda hard to roll over once you sink down into it. I brushed the doubt aside, figuring that I'd be sleeping so soundly that I wouldn't need to roll over.

I didn't realize exactly how many times I roll over in the course of a night until I found myself having to come fully awake each time in order to first hoist myself up and out of the Jenn-shaped depression in the memory foam and then flip over. In my new position, I felt myself sink, sink, sink until I looked like I had been surrounded in foam for shipping purposes.
"It's like I'm being cradled in my sleep!" Tom cooed happily the next morning. I gave him a sickly smile and kept quiet, figuring I just needed time to adjust. The next few nights, I slept fitfully and had recurring dreams of being trapped in small places: caves, coffins, elevators, and once, a filthy ball pit at a McDonald's Play Place. I woke up in a cold sweat, panicky and unable to move my limbs. A couple of nights I wound up migrating to the guest room bed, where I was free to flop around like a salmon as much as I pleased. Tom slumbered on, peacefully unaware in his memory foam cocoon.

Eventually, though, I had to confess that our pricey new topper wasn't doing it for me. And since we're not ready to go the whole Dick van Dyke Show route and have separate twin beds, we're back to square one. Tom keeps musing about cutting the memory foam in half and using it just on his side of the bed, which would make his side four inches higher than mine and turn bed-making into a logistical nightmare. So far, my response to that suggestion has been a look of mute horror. But I also don't have any better ideas.

Oh, and are you ready for the ultimate irony? Last year, we won a Sleep Number adjustable bed through some online sweepstakes. At the time, and this was before we knew we'd be adding on to the house, we had no way of fitting the bed into our bedroom and driving an hour away to pick it up seemed like a hassle anyway. We never went and claimed it.

And the Big 40th Birthday Memory Foam Splurge is currently folded up on the guest room floor, where the cats enjoy sleeping on it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Humility Post

It has come to my attention through years of research (i.e., public embarrassment) that there are certain things that I can not do. At all. Ever. Like, don't even bother trying to teach me because many have already tried and failed. These are gaps that will never be bridged.

I've managed to live a relatively normal life despite my deficits. I maneuver around certain situations. I compensate. I flat-out lie.

No more. As of today, I am owning my shortcomings. Consider this is my public service announcement. Do not EVER expect me to display competence in the following areas. From now on, any expectations related to these categories and the subsequent disappointment you will inevitably suffer are your problem and not mine. Capisce?

French Braiding: I have two daughters. Hair-styling is part of the job description, so several years ago I hired my beautician, Jody, to teach me to French braid. She worked with me for 45 minutes, demonstrating several techniques on Bear. I carefully watched her deft fingers, I completely understood the concept, but when I took over to practice it looked not unlike a pair of knot-tying chimps had been let loose on my daughter's head. Jody watched my work with a politely horrified smile and ended our session by suggesting that perhaps I should practice on a Barbie Styling Head. I did. When Bug came home from preschool and saw what I'd done to her Barbie head, she cried.

Spatial Reasoning: When I was in kindergarten, the teacher gave us each a small wooden puzzle to put together. "When you're done with your puzzles, please put them back on the shelf, then come over to the carpet for Story Time," she told us. I had a fire truck puzzle of perhaps 12 pieces. I got a few of the pieces placed correctly but was goddamned if I could fit the others in. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see that some of the kids were already sliding their finished puzzles back onto the shelf. Anxiously, I stared at the pieces of fire truck in front of me. It had to be a trick. No way would those pieces fit together. The last of my classmates were putting away their completed puzzles and heading over to the Story Time Rug, leaving just me all alone with The Fire Truck Puzzle from Hell.

I swallowed my panic, carefully stacked the pieces on the puzzle board, and placed it quietly on the puzzle shelf. Then I left. Left as in walked right out of that school and was heading home when my bus driver spotted me and picked me up. He took me home, where I tearfully told my flabbergasted mother that I was not going back to kindergarten ever. When my kindergarten teacher showed up at my house that evening carrying the puzzle, my shame was complete. However, she gently led me through piecing together that damn fire truck, and I graciously agreed to give formal education a second chance.

My spatial skills have not improved much in the ensuing 33 years, meaning that I will have to try an average of five Tupperware containers before finding the correct size to house the leftover pasta salad and that when I'm shopping and hold up a shirt to gauge its size, I'm unclear as to whether it will fit me, either of my kids, or perhaps the cat.

Football: In junior high gym class, I once made a touchdown for the opposing team. As I ran fleetly down the field, I thought my teammates were screaming my name in kind of a "Yay, Jenn! Way to run that ball!" kind of way. Turns out it was more of a "Turn around, you utter freaking moron," way, and several of the boys were seriously pissed at what I still consider an honest mistake given the baffling nature of that game. OK, admittedly, I might have more of a shot at understanding football if I gave a crap about it. I don't, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Recognizing People Out of Context: Let's say that your kid is in the same dance class as my kid. We see each other once or twice a week. I say hi to you when I come into the dance studio, and we've probably even chatted a bit as we stand and watch our daughters' class. Now let's say that you see me at the grocery store. We're in the same aisle, even. I will walk right past you with no indication that I've ever seen you before in my life.

And if you come up to me and say hi? I will happily respond and even chit-chat with you for several minutes before making my escape to the produce section, where I will have a minor panic attack because I still have no idea who you are. Weeks later, I may or may not make the connection. Probably not. Don't take this personally.

A good rule of thumb is that I will need to interact with you about 20 times before I recognize you on a regular basis. But all bets are off if you: (a.) change your hairstyle or color, (b.) wear a hat or sunglasses, or (c.) wave to me as you drive past in your car.

So, how about you? What is something that you consistently fail at? (Feel free to make something up to make me feel better).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Change of Address

Please note! I'm switching this blog over to a new (custom! fancy! shiny!) address... please change your bookmarks to:

According to Blogger, you should be forwarded there automatically, but I really don't trust them that much.

I'm also adding word verification to the comment process. Sorry to add the extra step, but I'm hoping it will reduce the ridiculous spam comments I'm getting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Party Prep

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before, but we don't have a shopping mall in our little town. Nor in the middle-sized town 20 minutes away. Or even the other middle-sized town 45 minutes away. The closest mall is an hour and ten minute drive from here. So when I asked Bear what kind of a birthday party she wanted this year, she didn't even hesitate, "I want a shopping party, where you take me and my friends to the mall."

Done. We're supplying them each with a modest amount of spending money (and most of them have been saving their allowances for weeks in anticipation), having lunch at the Food Court (must. contain. my. excitement.), and then coming back to our house for pizza, movies, and a sleepover.

Think of me tomorrow, if you will, driving down the Maine State Freeway with five screechy, giggly thirteen-year-olds. To fortify myself, I plan to go with my tried-n-true combination of liquid personality (Starbucks latte x howevermanyIdamnwellneed) and earplugs (for the car ride). I'm also taking reinforcements in the form of my best friend, who makes an excellent latte partner and who can be loud as all hell, if necessary to quiet the party posse. Plus, she is the Designated Person I Can Roll My Eyes At.

I told Bear to think of us as her Secret Service detail. We won't be right alongside them, but we'll be with them. Twenty paces back or so. With the Starbucks cups. And possibly a giant pretzel.

This morning Bear and I went to the grocery store to pick up the snacks for the party, i.e. The Ceremonial Buying of The Crap. Bear tossed candy, chips, and all manner sugary, salty, and artifically-colored junk that I don't normally buy into the cart with an unholy glee.

At the cash register, I saw the cashier's eyes widen and saw her swallow the urge to comment as she scanned bottles of soda (caffeine-free, and yeah, I get the irony of buying $50 worth of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors but drawing the line at caffeine) and bags of candy and chips. I repressed a wicked desire to talk about the nation's childhood obesity epidemic and how Michelle Obama is kind of a hero of mine.

Finally, unable to hold it back, the cashier said, "Boy, that's a lot of candy."

"Sleepover," I said succinctly.

"I don't think there will be much sleeping," she said dubiously.
Hmm. She might have a point. However, the party posse will be "sleeping" in the downstairs family room, while I can retreat to the sanctuary of my shiny, new master bedroom. So, frankly, I don't much care if they sleep. I'm pretty cool as long as they stay off the internet and don't vomit on my furniture.

Bear wanted a giant chocolate chip cookie for her birthday cake, and she wanted to decorate it herself. Having done the elaborate nine colors of frosting, hand-decorated teddy bear/princess/flower cakes, I was all knock yourself out, kiddo. I baked the cookie and sat down with a cup of coffee while she used Junior Mints, Smarties, and candy melts to polka-dot the cookie. It's adorable.
The party plates and napkins are opened and ready, the crepe paper is strewn, the gifts are wrapped, and my van is clean and filled with gas. If you need me, I'll be sneaking in a nap. I have a feeling I'm going to need one before facing tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Counting Down to the Teen Years

In four days, my oldest child will turn 13. A teenager. Making me ... the mother of a teenager. What the hell?

I distinctly remember my mother when I was a teenager. She had no clue. She was nosy, always wanting to know the personal details of what was going on in my life and who I was friends with. She invaded my space by requiring that my bed be made and my room be picked up. She did not dress in cool and trendy clothes, like ripped neon sweatshirts or acid-washed jeans. She refused to spend $80 to buy me a pair of Guess! jeans and forced me to save my allowance instead. She listened to horrifyingly uncool music, like Barbra Streisand and oldies, and sang along in front of my friends. She only let me drink one soda maximum per day and only bought Doritos once in awhile even though she absolutely knew they were my favorite.

"SHE'S TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE!!!" I wrote in my diary once when she (totally unfairly!) refused to let my sixteen-year-old self go to a concert two hours away with my boyfriend and spend the night in a hotel with him and a bunch of friends. It was like she didn't trust me, or something. (I even squeezed out a few tears and deliberately let them drip on the ink and smear it for effect, just in case she later snooped and read my diary. Then she would see the depth of my devastation and change her mind). (She didn't change her mind).

Just in this past month alone, I've ordered Bear to clean her room, explained that it's not OK to just eat the cookies or chips out of her lunchbox and bring home the fruit, refused to let her be dropped off at the bowling alley when there wouldn't be parental chaperones, sung along enthusiastically to "Chicago" in the car while she begged me to switch to the radio, and forced her to wear seasonally appropriate clothing with no regard to what's cool. (And apparently flip-flops in February are cool. Noted).

Actual Conversation:

(Scene: Last week. Bear starts to head out the door for school in a short-sleeved t-shirt and lightweight hoodie).

Tom: So, Bear, just out of curiosity, how cold would it have to be for you to wear your winter coat to school?

Bear: I dunno. Cold.

Tom: No, give me a number. How many degrees?

Bear: Uh ... ten.

Tom: It's seven degrees this morning. Put on your damn coat.

Bear (with gritted teeth): FINE.

Moral: We're blatantly unfair and trying to ruin her life. Damn that karma.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aw, Nuts.

So in a not-even-slightly-surprising postscript to The Saga of Bear's Peanut Allergy, it turns out that she is also allergic to all tree nuts. In order to determine this, Bear had to undergo a back scratch test (there's probably a medical term for it, but let's call a spade a spade, shall we?). The nurse writes numbers on her back (eighteen this time, I think) in marker, then makes a small scratch next to each one, using a sharp little tool dipped in a liquid form of the potential allergen. As a control, the first scratch is made using a histamine, which always reacts positively. Then Bear has to lay quite still on her stomach for fifteen minutes while we wait to see if there are any positive reactions, i.e. hives and welts. If there are, they then measure these for circumference and height to help determine how severe the allergy is.

Have you ever been bitten by a mosquito, one of those huge ones that looks like it's come right out of the Jurassic Period, and not reached down to smack it away and scratch? Imagine being told that if you did scratch, that you would have to be bitten again. And now imagine having to lay still, while your brain focuses on nothing but the building itchiness. Now imagine that it's your kid who's undergoing this, and you have to watch and be the one to tell her not to wiggle, to be still, and don't scratch. It's right up there with waterboarding, I tell you.

Within four minutes, Bear's back had bloomed into angry red welts swelling with hives next to nearly every number. I scratched lightly with my fingernails around the perimeter of the testing area and blew lightly over the welts to try to give her some relief. Tom and I chatted with her about where we should have lunch, her birthday party, and exactly how much Benadryl she'd be allowed to take once the testing was over. She couldn't even turn her head because the nurse had cautioned her not to let her hair touch the testing area.

It sucked. Big time. And when the nurse came in at the end of fifteen minutes, she took one look at Bear's back and said, "Well. I guess nuts are out of the question for you, sweetie."

However! In a small gesture of benevolence from The Powers That Be, it turns out that she is not allergic to pine nuts. As a passionate consumer of pesto, Bear was deeply grateful. As someone who was not really looking forward to figuring out a pine-nut free recipe for pesto, I was equally grateful. (Oh, you know I would have, but I'm lazy about recipes that require me to use the food processor, and I quite like our grocery store's brand of low-fat pesto).

Oddly, Bear doesn't really mind going to see her allergist. That might have something to do with the fact that this is her doctor (note: photo brazenly stolen off of his website):

Doesn't he look like he could stroll onto the set of Grey's Anatomy and fit right in? In fact, he'd probably be cast as the hotshot new surgeon who makes the cute lesbian pediatrician switch teams. McCutie-Pie.

When he left the examining room to get the nurse, Bear turned to me with a grin and a sigh and said, "I always forget just how cute he is."

If you have a thirteen-year-old daughter who's being told she's stuck with navigating potentially fatal food allergies for (likely) the rest of her life, it does seem to help if Dr. McCutie-Pie is the one giving you the news. FYI.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Newest Member of Our Family (No, Not a Haitian Orphan)

The other evening, I went into the girls' bathroom. As a general rule, now that I have my own bathroom, I try not to do this. But since theirs is the bathroom used by guests, and because my girls seem genetically incapable of hanging up their bathmat or closing the shower curtain, I occasionally pop in and tidy things up. On this occasion, I noticed that the caps were off of both of the tubes of toothpaste (Of course my children disagree about toothpaste flavor. Bear enjoys a sharper, more pepperminty flavor, which Bug claims burns the tastebuds off of her tongue. And, naturally, Bug's milder bubblemint flavor makes Bear "gag so hard I almost throw up, I swear, Mom").

As I reached to pick up one of the caps to put it on the tube of toothpaste, I noticed that both caps were neatly lined up along the edge of the sink and FILLED WITH WATER. What the hell?

"Bug!" I hollered, knowing she was sitting in the living room, "Why are the toothpaste caps full of water?"

"That's for Paco to drink out of," she called back.

Several possible scenarios flitted through my mind. Two involved rodents. None were very good. I stuck my head out into the hall and reached deep down for my Zen Mommy voice, "Paco?" I inquired serenely.

She carefully stuck a bookmark in to mark her place, came into the bathroom with me, and pointed,

"Paco. Right there."
"You have a ladybug named Paco?" I clarified.

"Yup. Bear found him, and we decided to keep him in here since it's too cold for him to survive outside."

I thought about this and decided that I really didn't care whether a ladybug lived in my guest bathroom. I put the kibosh on the toothpaste caps as drinking trough idea, though, and suggested they just occasionally splash a little water in the sink for him.

All went swimmingly for several days until one night before bed, when Bug appeared at my side
with tear-filled eyes, demanding a new toothbrush.

"Paco was on my toothbrush," she told me in a voice that trembled with disgust, "And God knows where he's been.

I supposed I wouldn't really like to find a bug, even a cute little ladybug, hanging out on my toothbrush bristles, so I handed her a new one.

"I don't want him anymore. Let's put him outside," Bug announced with the cold resolve of the recently betrayed.
Bear protested passionately that Paco would die, die!, in the cold and refused to consider putting him out. In an act of compromise, I suggested that Paco be enrolled in a sort of Ladybug Witness Relocation Program. Bear would take him to an anonymous, far-away-from-Bug part of the house. Perhaps he could change his name to Guillermo.

"I just hope... I hope I don't find him all dry and crunchy on a windowsill some day because he couldn't find access to water," Bear told me mournfully.

We hardly knew ye, Paco.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Family Email Chronicles, vol. 1

Among the things my family never gave me: a trust fund, a shiny red convertible with a bow around it on my 16th birthday, and an in-ground swimming pool (despite the fact that when my father said, "You can either have a pool or a college education," I clearly stated that I would take the pool. To which he said, "No," in a blatantly unfair and dictatorial maneuver. It's a miracle that I still send the man Father's Day cards).

What they did give me, through both nature and nurture, is a delightfully dark and twisty sense of humor. My family shares a love of the darker side of humor, the sarcastic, and the just plain wrong-but-undeniably-hilarious. And, honestly, it's served me much better and longer than any of the items I mentioned above. (I'm still open to the trust fund idea, though).

Occasionally, either from sheer boredom or deep-rooted, unresolved family issues (hi, still waiting for that in-ground swimming pool), we like to mess with each other. Such as in this email thread from last week (somewhat edited for clarity, length, and to make me look good)...

From: Mom
To: Dad, Jenn, Pat, Tom
Subject: bummer
Not sure what's going on, but I don't feel at all well this morning. I talked to Jenn for a while, then struggled to get some cookies baked. I've been sipping on tea, but that isn't settling my stomach. I'm going to lie back down for a while and see what's what around noon.
BTW, I did some research online this morning. Gracie [their cat]definitely has a cold. I felt her body, and she has no fever. She really has the sniffles this morning, but is otherwise acting fine.
I wonder if Gracie picked this up in the vet's office last week? I can't imagine where else she would have been exposed.

To: Mom, Dad, Pat, Tom
From: Jenn
Subject: RE: bummer
Mom, it kind of sounds like you're blaming not feeling well on me, despite my living 1000 miles away. I've decided to take offense, but can be appeased with plane tickets to Italy. (I like to fly first class).

Some viruses do skip between humans and cats, so I suppose you're going to blame Gracie's cold on me, too. (I like to stay at the Ritz-Carlton). Love, Jenn

To: Jenn, Mom, Pat, Tom
From: Dad
Subject: RE: RE: bummer
I think your self-declared Trophy Wife status is going to your head. You may try to exploit this with Tom, but not us - sorry. Neville Chamberlain taught us that appeasement is a slippery slope. -Dad

To: Dad, Mom, Pat, Tom
From: Jenn
Subject: RE: RE: RE: bummer
Is that something along the lines of "never negotiate with terrorists"? I've decided to take offense at that, too. If you ever want to see your grandchildren again, I'd better be lounging on the Amalfi Coast this time next week. -Jenn

To: Dad, Jenn, Mom, Tom
From: Pat
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
Jenn? A trophy wife? Bwah hah hah hah! I had to live in fear of her my entire childhood! Only if a trophy is intended to torment, dress you in the other sex's clothing, and generally make your life seem not worth living. -Pat

To: Pat, Dad, Mom, Tom
From: Jenn
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
Yes, but look how well you turned out. YOU'RE WELCOME. It was all part of the master plan.

And FYI, that was not "the other sex's clothing". That was my Sassy Walkin' Doll's clothing. Technically, she was not human, and therefore sexless. But her pink pants fit you quite well. It's almost like I knew that skinny jeans would be fashionable one day. I call that rather prescient and fashion-forward for a six-year-old. -

PS - Have a bottle of champagne waiting in my hotel room in Italy, and we'll call it square.

To: Jenn, Mom, Pat, Tom
From: Dad
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
I told your mother we should never have helped you with your house renovation. I'll have her read King Lear... -Dad

To: Jenn, Dad, Mom, Pat
From: Tom
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
You know what? I'm also not feeling well today AND I spoke with Jenn this morning. Interesting coincidence...

To: Tom, Jenn, Mom, Pat
From: Dad
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
In your case, Tom, it's having a trophy wife like Goneril Regan , I mean Jenn. (What did she eat last night? Seems like giving a Gremlin food after midnight). Dad

To: Dad, Pat, Mom, Tom
From: Jenn
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
Sigh. You people make me tired. How on earth, Dad, do you remember arcane movie trivia like feeding gremlins after midnight makes them morph into tiny monsters? Do you stay up late at night watching crappy 80's movies? I will note, though, that the ferocious monster gremlins were far more interesting than the insipidly cute n' fluffy gremlins. Since I don't do cute, I choose to accept the gremlin reference as a compliment, as I'm sure you intended. They were cunning and strong-willed, with daring hairdos. My kind of people. Jenn

PS - I always thought Cordelia was kind of a wimp.

To: Jenn, Dad, Pat, Tom
From: Mom
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: bummer
I am finally awake and getting caught up on your messages. All I have to say is:

1. I am feeling better. I just needed a nap.

2. NO ONE is going to Italy without me. End of discussion.

3. As I recall, Jenn, the slacks you squeezed your brother into were from a set of female doll clothing. You still owe him an apology.

4. You can skip the bottle of champagne, but I'm fine with the other arrangements for OUR trip to Italy.

5. Is it too late for me to be a trophy wife?


Monday, February 8, 2010

When You Raise a Child With Sarcasm...

Scene: For our Family Movie Night this week, we screened "Jurassic Park." After the movie, to the kids' great amusement, Tom darted about the living room pretending to be a velociraptor.

Tom: ScEEEEEEEeech! HaaRRRRkkkk! (pause to cock head, then dash across room) SCREEEEECH!

Me (to Bear): Aren't you glad that at least your mother is a sane and reasonable parent?

Bear: Wait. You're not my mother?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Blame Whole Foods for My Weight Issues

Yesterday at the gym, I sat down at one end of a metal bench in the locker room to change my sneakers. Mistake. The other end of the bench soared into the air, not unlike the unoccupied side of a teeter-totter that has a hippo on the other end. I leapt wide-eyed to my feet, sending it clanging back down on the concrete floor.

"Well, that's never a good sign, " I told my best friend, who snorted behind her hand in an unsuccessful effort to hold in her laughter. She later claimed to be laughing "with" me.

I share this with you for two reasons:

1. I actually went to the gym, and I generally like to publicize that as much as possible.
2. Yeah, I've put on a few pounds in the last few months.
3. It is 100% Whole Foods' fault.

Despite my ardent letter-writing campaign, Whole Foods has neglected to build a store in my town. The closest one is an hour and twenty minutes away. Not exactly convenient for dashing over to grab a dozen hormone-free eggs or when I have a craving for a random tropical fruit, like a cherimoya (which, no doesn't happen that often, or even actually ever, but I'm making a point here). IF I wanted a cherimoya, I would have to drive an hour and twenty minutes to get one and that's ridiculous because of the price of gas and the fact that I don't technically know what a cherimoya is. Don't worry, though, because I've taken revenge on Whole Foods by eating a whole lot of processed crap in the past five months. So, really, I'm the winner here.

And I do understand that there are quite a few organic and healthful things for sale right in my local supermarket, but it's no damn fun to purchase them without the correct store ambiance of wood floors, artful displays of produce with names I can't pronounce, a gelato bar, and a make-your-own granola station. Whole Food makes me feel all healthy and like a person who would want to buy those foods. Hannaford makes me want to buy Oreos, Diet Pepsi, and Teddy Grahams. It's completely beyond my control.

I should also mention that along with inappropriate snacking issues, I also have a minor problem with denial. Here, take the following test and see how you do.

Over the course of several weeks, you notice that your pants are becoming tight. You conclude:

a. Hmm, perhaps I've put on a few pounds.
b. Damn cheap synthetic fibers. These pants are defective.
c. Perhaps my husband is secretly doing the laundry, and we all know he does it wrong.

You are walking next to your children, when you notice that while their shadows seem proportionately correct, yours is looking a bit wider than normal. You conclude:

a. Hmm, perhaps I've put on a few pounds.
b. They must be walking closer to the sun, therefore their shadows are smaller.
c. Clearly, my shadow is broken.

You notice that your face is looking chubbier than normal in photographs. You conclude:

a. Hmm, perhaps I've put on a few pounds.
b. The camera lens is distorting my face.
c. I should really buy new makeup.

If you are me, the answer is NEVER "a".

This is all by way of telling you that suddenly, yesterday, I realized that the answer actually IS "a". And to warn you that things might get a whole lot bitchier around here. I'm giving that new fad diet called "Eat Less and Move More, You Lazy Cow" a whirl.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Double Digits

No, not the weather here. Let's not get crazy.

She's ten. And let me tell you, there's something about your youngest hitting those double digits to really make you realize how quickly your life is whizzing along. And also that you really need to stop referring to your muffin top as "baby weight."

It hasn't been the easiest year for Bug. Of all of us, she was the most affected by our renovation project. She's always been a child of routine, who needs her sleep, and who thrives on predictability. Living with workmen tromping to and fro, nail guns and generators thundering away, walls being torn down around her, and just general chaos for four months brought out a new anxiety in Bug. She worried more and cried more, and as consumed as I was with the renovation, it took until we were done with the construction and settling back into a normal life to realize that Well, DUH, maybe this whole process has been hard on her. I'm intuitive like that.

Bug really threw herself into her party planning. She chose "Chocolate" as her theme and devoted a notebook to planning her guest list, cake, games, and pretty much any detail ever ?associated with a child's party. Cake? Giant cookie decorated with candy. Movie? Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Breakfast? pancakes with chocolate chip and whipped cream smiley-faces. Treat Bags? Hershey kiss lip balm, cookie cutters & sprinkles, mini boxes of chocolates, and packets of hot chocolate.

She decorated the cake/cookie herself. The best thing about it is that with its adornments of Skittles, Junior Mints, Rollos, and Swedish fish, I had no desire to sample it. And me passing on birthday cake is a minor miracle.

Bug and her four best buds. Since their parents don't know about my blog, I blacked out their faces. (Any resemblance to "Girls Gone Wild" is mostly coincidental).

Actually, it was one of the easiest slumber parties we've ever hosted. They hauled out the boxes of dress-up clothes early on and spent 80% of the party wandering around in my old heels, dance recital costumes, and elaborate hats playing some completely engrossing, highly bastardized version of "Mother May I." I actually had to call them up from the family room to eat cake and again for the movie.

Bear and I engineered a "Name That Candy Bar!" contest. The girls were given a small slice of ten different candy bars and using taste, touch, and smell had to write down the name of each one ( or half credit if they were able to accurately describe the candy but didn't know its name). Most were fairly common (Milky Way, Twix, Snickers), but I threw them a few curve balls just in the interests of self-amusement (Mint Aero - a Canadian candy, an 80% dark chocolate Ghiradelli bar, and Cadbury's Caramello bar).

Tip!: most ten-year-olds don't like 80% dark chocolate. At all. In fact, Bug was the only one who did. The other four took one bite, gagged, and tried to scrape it off their tongues with a napkin. Entertainment value galore.

Happy Birthday, Bug!