Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Paisley and Sam!

Today is the day! Samuel and Paisley will share birthdays today! Paisley will be ONE, and Sam will be born. I love that these cousins will share a birthday! I have dreams of combined boy/girl birthdays and lots of family getting together. I mean, if one kid isn't enough of a draw for the family, at least a COMBINED party is sure to get everyone out. Paisley will have a good number of cousins to play with, and hopefully set a wonderful example: "It is totally uncool to sass your mom in front of my mom, but it's totally okay to sass your mom in front of Uncle Joel - he'll laugh and make sure you don't get in trouble. Take my word on this one Sam . . ."

Hours before departure we are getting the kids packed up to go stay with friends, putting the final touches on stay-at-home instructions, camera battery charging, cell phone charging, calendar items checked off and planned for, grocery items, and all the miscellaneous things that need to be in place so that I can depart from the world for a bit.

We start heading over to the hospital at 3pm, and should have a bouncing baby boy sometime after 5:30. We'll keep you posted! Feel free to leave your guesses here for weight, time, and as a special bonus (because we already know the birthdate) please leave your guess for a hair color. :D

Monday, April 21, 2008

Emergency Preparedness

I believe in Emergency Preparedness. It's a way of bringing peace of mind and preparing for the unpleasantnesses of life. To this end, I just wanted to have, in print form - and accessible to all peoples, our preparedness plan in the unhappy event that I die.

No, I'm not planning on it, but it's not as though it has never happened either. If things DO go awry with bringing Baby Sam into the world, I want to leave this existence with a sense that I did all I could for my family. Some have scoffed and scorned, but you don't have to like it, or agree with it, because it's for my peace of mind - not yours. But feel free to use this as a template for your own preparedness.
The Rules of Engagement:
If I should die, there are a few things that I would like to happen as life goes on for my family here on earth - well, at least things that would make ME happy:

* Respect for the deceased. I think 2 years is about the minimum amount of time that ought to transpire for my spouse to mope about and mourn my loss. I'd love to have our wedding pictures blown up huge and distributed generously throughout the house, so the kids can remember their (once skinny) mother who loved them so dearly. Maybe Matthew can build a Taj Mahal sanctuary in his spare time, or, ya know, make a huge scrapbook with all of our photos together and sentimental things he remembers - something of the sort. That's for the kids, really. He can do it while he watches ESPN Full Access on his new plasma screen tv, which he has informed me, will be the first thing purchased with the money from my life insurance policy. "To compensate for his loss of my companionship" he says. Hmmm. That'll keep him busy. I'm okay with that. You know where the glue sticks are . . .

I have noted, in my own experience, that widowed men with children tend to find themselves overloaded with both parenting roles pretty quickly. But before they've had a chance to develop a true appreciation for taking on the role of motherhood, they make desperate, yea, even rash decisions about remarrying. Cinderella's father being a prime example of finding someone, "pretty good," but who turned out to be the consummate "Step-Monster." A long dating/engagement might have revealed a chink or two (like her daughters), and Cinderella ought to have had at least a little input. LISTEN TO THE KIDS!

Tut tut, he made a good decision in marrying you, why worry right? Well, - he may SAY that he had good sense in selecting you, but statistics will bear me out! Men will generally take about any woman willing to step in and start rolling the laundry through after about a month or two of "going it alone." So, I'll insist on hired help from a service that employs older, respectable ladies. Give things some time to even out a bit without the nuisance of temptation.

Finding a Substitute
I know that there are a lot of fantastic women out there who could fill my shoes. I know that, as much as I ALSO know that there are some shallow gold diggers out there as well! I have thought long and hard about how to separate the wheat from the chaff and have come up with a few handy rules:

1. Any candidate for my spot must be introduced to my family (the kids) as well as my extended family, and get a unanimous "thumbs up" approval for an engagement proposal - after all, they would know best who I would want to get along with in the hereafter. One negative vote though, - especially from my mom, and the applicant hits the road, no questions asked. Good bye, thanks for your interest - don't call us, we'll call you.

2. The "intended's" engagement ring may not exceed, in size or quality, the engagement ring I have. I don't care if Matthew can afford bigger and better - if I didn't get it in this life, neither will you. I've suffered through his schooling, motherhood, the antics and agonies of small children, and poverty. It would really ruin my heavenly hereafter to see some **Misti** coming in at the last minute to enjoy the fruits of my/our labor. Sorry to stick it to you sister, but if you ain't in it for the man, drive on Sistah, drive on.

Note Bene: And she can't have my ring either - that would be tacky. My ring will be put in a safety deposit box, unaltered, until Abigail gets married, or earns her PhD (no ABD either) - whichever comes first. By then she should have a good sense of what to do with my ring.

Addendum to #2: My Substitute may never own more jewelry (given her by Matthew), in value or quantity, than I owned at the time of my demise. Again, if I didn't get it, neither will you. You really love diamond earrings? Great! Go get a job and earn them yourself. Here's a lovely copper bracelet for your 50th wedding anniversary; just be grateful that you got to live that long, I say.

3. My children will inherit the "lion's share" of their Father's estate. Reproduce all you want with the new chickie-poo. However, you'll have to work extra hard at getting the second set of kids set up. They'll have to get a good education on scholarship, or they'll have to pull themselves up by their boot straps.

That way they can: build character, have a sense of accomplishment for their scholarly sacrifices, enjoy the satisfaction of having worked their way through school and getting it all paid for, - OH - like I did! Books, tuition, all of it. I've already taught my kids those values, and I haven't been bustin' my butt, scrimpin' and savin' my pennies, just so that some other kid can get a free ride through the community college while he discovers his "inner artist." Plllllbt.

4. No potential replacement candidates may apply that have the following: a birth date more than 5 years my junior, slutty wardrobe, botox, lipo, tattoos, hair color that does NOT occur in nature, or fakie boobs. Period. If you're high on maintenance, and low on authenticity, you aren't for, um, him. :D

5. As a precaution against all these, if the engagement proceeds, and I am not happy about it, I will make sure that Matthew loses his keys. That is the sign, from me, from the other side, that I want him to dump this chick IMMEDIAMEN-TAY. Maybe get a dog to keep him company instead. Then we can all continue to enjoy our Happily Ever After. Or, at least I will!

As the King of Siam so eloquently put it, "So let it be written, so let it be done!"

You never know when you are going to make a difference in someone's life - really change it for the better. Here is where all my hard won wisdom has gone on to bless the life of someone else. Matthew's dad is the one and only, artist for the comic strip "Pickles," and this is where a lippy attitude will get you - in the funny papers! Enjoy - and thanks, Dad. I feel so privileged!

Click cartoon to enlarge

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why I Want to be a Grandma . . .

I can't wait for Benjamin to have kids. I hope he has boys. I hope he has a lot of them. And I hope he will call me when they are 3 and incredibly naughty. I can't wait for that sweet revenge! And I know that I will laugh my fool head off - if I'm not already doing so in some sanitarium across town.
Here is the most recent picture of Benjamin and the stain from the mildew remover spray bottle (bleach) that he dumped all over the carpet. Our neighbor suggested that we use the carpet from our closet to patch it, as there are no scraps of this nasty carpet left in this house (of course there isn't - it is 150 yr old carpet). We can't use the stuff in Benjamin's closet, because it still has the orange stain from the time he snuck an unused macarooni/cheese packet and made a paste on the carpet in there.

As I started mentally tallying all the mischievous things that he's done, I realized that any one of them would be enough to push a regular mom off their mental cliff, but to have them compounded in the space of two weeks for a 9 month pregnant mom is just insane!

Is there enough space to put up the pictures of the Comet cleanser he shook out all over the carpet and bathroom? The toilet paper wads - not the ones previously posted - the new ones he flung up on his own bedroom door? The BBQ sauce he drop-kicked across the kitchen floor, and the water he spit out all over the kitchen table just to watch a little friend laugh? Or how 'bout the toothbrush down the bathroom sink that caused a leak under the cabinet so that all the spare toilet paper could marinate for a few days? AHHHHGGGG! And those are just the things in my SHORT term memory. It begs the question, how can this little THING keep coming up with new destructive ways to drive me crazy!!
Today, in an attempt to get all his energy out in a safe, monitored, environment, we went to a mall playground. Into the morning AZ sun, we heard complaints about the hot plastic,- but luckily there is a little water park area. Aw, let 'em run around in a diaper and get nice and wet and tired. I stripped him down to his diaper, and let him run off with his little friend while I gathered up the clothes, purse, left over nuggets etc. By the time I'd picked up all of our stuff, I waddled over to the water section only to catch a good glimpse of a naked, white kid running pell mell through the water spigots while a murmur of, "Where's his mom?" circulated amongst the appalled crowd.
I got to talk to the security guard about my naked child. "He can't do that here you know," as if to say, "I don't know where you come from, but out here public exposure is considered bad!"
He continues,"You can walk a 1/2 mile to [some place] and buy a water diaper - which we recommend- for children playing in the water area."

Oh shut up. I can barely get up and down, all my spare cash is going to re-carpet my hallway, and he thinks I'm gonna hike around to get him a water diaper???!!!! Many Italian gestures come to mind.

My friend Stacy is very sympathetic to my plight. She holds down the "stuff" fort while I go chase down my boy in order to re-diaper his pasty butt. The same kid, who was SUPPOSED to be getting rid of excess energy, while our neighbor installs closet carpet over the hallway bleach stain, which was all supposed to be fixed before this baby comes. My brilliant plan has failed. I am so tired, I am so defeated, I have but two words left in me: "Deliver Me."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mamma's Little Merit Badge

I think it's dangerous for any parent to turn their kid into a merit badge, as if to say, "look what I did!" But may I brag, for just a wee bit? Abigail has done it. At CTA Liberty there is a hierarchy of "reading" dog tags. After passing tests on books ranging in value from 0.5 for a picture book to, oh, I think reading the final Harry Potter is worth about 32 points, you can start qualifying for cheapie aluminum "AR" dog tags. If you can answer all the test questions correctly, the computer keeps a tally of your "AR" points, and you get to begin your dog tag status seeking among all of the elementary kids. Shallow system, I admit it!

Abigail was eligible to enter the program this year. For little kids, they start them out fairly easy. After earning your first 15 points, the student is given a blue dog tag to wear on a chain every Friday. Then everyone in your class knows that you, um, can read and pass tests up to 15 points. Then . . .
25 points = additional blue tag
50 points = additional blue tag
75 points = additional bronze tag
150 points = additional silver tag
300 points = additional gold tag.

Today she topped the 76 point mark after finishing a quiz for "Hank the Cowdog" mystery novel, thus qualifying her for the bronze dog tag for Advanced Reading. So, that's 3 blue dog tags, and a bronze for passing tests on books she's read. Awesome in it's own right, however . . .

Okay, praise of men, and all that, but it's really quite remarkable because . . . no 1st grader has ever done it. Actually, she broke a record being the first 1st grader to get 3 dog tags at all, but the 75 point bronze tag is just the frosting on the cake. I'm so proud of her! I didn't read the books for her, I didn't take the tests, I had precious little to do with her ability to read, but it doesn't make the achievement any less sweet for me. She did it!

Will anyone give a darn? Oh, I'd say not. There is no prize beyond the cheap aluminum tag; no money, no parade, and no guarantee for college acceptance. Abigail said that the other kids got to oogle her tag, but not much beyond that. Okey dokey, but still. It is quite satisfying, as a parent, to see your kid succeed.

Lest mommy be puffed up with pride, though, there was a pin to pop the perfection. Right on the heels of this groundbreaking announcement was paperwork that said she needed additional drilling in her math skills because she couldn't complete all the math problems correctly in 6 minutes. So. So the pride was in check right away.

But still . . . no one has ever done it! Hooray Abigail, your mama is so so proud! Now go get a pencil so we can start reviewing subtraction and sums . . .

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April Showers Bring Back Jr. High Nightmares

My bathrobe was not usable today (yes, that is a whole story there,)and I ended up wrapping up in towels after my shower. Matthew made a whistle and a comment about our need for shorter towels and it brought back all those memories from Jr.and High School gym showers.

Matthew looks all quizzical, "What do you mean it gives you the heebie jeebies thinking about gym showers? I never had to take a gym shower in Jr. High OR High School . . . I mean, you COULD if you were in athletics or som'n, but not for gym class."

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . ."

WHAT!!!!! For the veracity of my horror I appeal to the testimony of all my siblings, sisters in particular, who like myself, were FORCED to take showers. You know those little hand towels they hand basketball players? The hand towel that you spin with the "gatorade" insignia on it? That was the size of your towel. The gym teacher and/or assistant stood outside the shower, handed you one, and then you got to go, take a whirl and get out. The trick was to get enough water sprinkled on your shoulder that you weren't sent back for a "redo."
Then, in my senior year, they figured that it would be more economical to do away with City High's laundry services (lets face it, they were cleaning CLEAN towels), and they gave us PAPER TOWELS! SO help me! It was a paper towel!

I was explaining to Matthew the horror of being exposed to your classmates in the first place. Who had jugs, who had chocolate chips, popular vs. unpopular, confident girls who put on their socks in just their underwear, and the painfully shy who were beet red before we even left the gym floor.
But my mortification was the good ole Grandma panties that my mom bought. Huge panties that were THE farthest things from sexy/acceptible at the high school level. The athletic girls wore "Jockey", were tan, fit, and didn't mind taking their time putting their clothes on - which had most likely been purchased within the last month or two. Me, I scurried my pasty butt with my "Scottish tan" to the farthest reaches of the locker room. Deep in the middle, and far to the edge of the locker room where there was very little "foot traffic." I remember that there was kinda a race to get to the locker at the very edge so that you only had to deal with ONE "neighbor."
This was not the "nerd" section of the locker room, - I'm sorry to say it, but there was an unspoken designated dressing area for the social outcasts who tended to smoke near the school grounds (not ON school grounds, just near - where everyone could see them). They wore a lot of black mascara and heavy metal t-shirts and no one minded giving them their own area to change . . .). It was in the belly of the beast that I would have to put on my 12-in-an-economy-pack Hanes practically-up-to-your-armpit underpants that I was trying to disguise with my PAPER TOWEL that was starting to become transparent where I had splashed my shoulders (and back - for good measure).

It was a Cirque de Soleil feat. A friggin' fan dance. "With this small towel I will attempt to put on huge Gramma undies that need to be rolled to find the leg outlets, pull them up to my middle - front AND back - without anyone seeing while simultaneously trying to cover up the size and shape of my high school RACK that I'm hoping will not be compared to ANYTHING by ANYBODY!

The towel may not fall to the ground at any point, but must be knotted at the corner, (a knot the size of the end of a balloon due to the tiny towel), enough to stay UP on its own while I grab my jeans that need two hands to put on - to cover said Gramma panties. A bra must then be fitted around and up with only a split second exposure for the "over the shoulder" strap feat, before grabbing a t-shirt to further conceal the fact that your underwear practically meets your bra." At one point in this painful process it became a race against time; it never failed that somewhere in the process your towel knot was going . . . going . . . GONE!

Matthew listened with amusement and disbelief. "I guess my gym teachers were lazy. We never did much during gym to justify a shower." He went on to describe the "gang" showers (or "shower tree")at the MTC, and probable reasons why the showers had no doors, but I think he had to admit - 8 weeks of that beats, hands down, 6 years of teen high school angst.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Choking on Charity

I was asked, by my lovely ward, to take a meal to a Spanish-speaking only family. Why me? Because I speak Portuguese. Um. Yeah. I feel for peoples of the Navajo nation who are greeted with, "Como esta!" It's not the same, dude. Can you find some similarities? Well, yah, sure. But can you carry on a conversation? NO! No you can't!

So I asked Danika, who served in East LA, what do those of the Mexican persuasion eat, that would be comforting? She says, Pasole. Okay, never heard of it, but we'll try it. She sends me a recipe, which I take to the local spainsh fare mercado. I'm not sure what you serve it with, so I ask the lady in the bakery, who can tell from my pasty complexion that I have no idea what I'm doing. Tostadas (which are apparently NOT the same as taquitos), you dip tostadas in your pasole (duh!). Tia Rosa, homemade. Got it.

Then I see a can of Pasole, which looks remarkably like beef stew, and look at my recipe. Not the same, and it has extras. After stopping a few shoppers, I get a bilingual. HOORAY! Pasole, I'm told by two Mexican ladies, is not the recipe I have. Hominy, shredded pork, and puree'd chili's. Basic Pasole - everyone knows this. Very easy. And it needs to be served with shredded cabbage, lime on top (NO sour cream, where did I get THAT idea?) and take out the diced tomatoes. Get 8 dried chili's, open them, TAKE OFF THE TOP, (noted), boil them 'til their soft, and then puree them in my unused blender with a little hot water. Got it. Stupid Gringo recipe!

So, I grab a "tres leches" cake for desert, finish my crock pot, and proudly send this charitable dinner off to my family in need. Matthew comes home and asks about dinner. I've been through the Mercado and Post office with a 3yr old, I've made dinner for this family, got lost looking for the address, ran out of gas, and I'm TIRED. Have some left over pasole. He takes a bite, walks three steps and keels over. "OH MY GOSH THAT'S HOT!" You can imagine what is running through my mind, "whimp!" And then . . .

I tell this, with great amusement, to my sister Lisa. She asks, "Hmmm, he said it was hot? Well, you DID take out the seeds and the "ribs" of the interior of the chili's, right?" Hmmmm? Why would I do a thing like that? "Because that is what makes the chili's so dang hot that even a Mexican wouldn't want to eat it." Oooooh, really? "Everyone knows that . . ." OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 'cept me. That poor family!

What must they think! When I had tried, in Portuguese, to explain to the family, that I got the recipe from someone at the mercado, he translated this to his family, "Oh! It's a Portuguese recipe! Portuguese Pasole!" Oh, they are going to choke on it. In sum, now we know that the entire world believes that Portuguese is the same as Spanish, and that every decent cook knows to take out the seeds and ribs of dried chili's! May you be wiser than I have been is my only hope.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm an Auntie!

I found out this morning that my little sister has safely delivered her first newborn little girl today. She is so happy. You can hear the little coos through the phone. There is not enough time in the world for her to fawn over this new little creature in her life. The world is wonderful, life is good, and the proud Papa has gone home to catch up on the sleep he missed last night. Baby Liesel gets more and more beautiful the more she looks at her. She is in utter, and complete, love.

How can I say this? It's like talking to someone who just got engaged. If you say anything negative, they think you're just bitter and ill-suited to marriage. After all, their partner is perfect, life is wonderful, love is in the air, and why can't everyone be so happy? Their true love brings them flowers, opens the door, pays strict attention to everything they say, and goes out of their way to make them happy. It's wonderful, yes, but, to be a bit pessimistic, it's just not REAL! It does not go on endlessley that way. The veneer will crack. And as sure as men leave socks and shoes all over the house, watch ESPN and leave their dishes out, this kid is going to throw you for a loop!

Do you pop that bubble? Actually say out loud, "Yes, sleep deeply - because it'll be the last time you do so for a VERY long time . . ."? Or, "Write down how cute their little coo-cry is now, so that when it gets louder, and goes on for a couple of hours, at least you can point to a time when it was cute?" I dunno. I'm caught between a blissful new family and my current reality.

Even while talking to my sister I'm having to pause, put my hand over the speaker and holler, "BEAR! Get OUT of the WATER!" I can hear it running, from somewhere. And because he dipped a beach towel in the toilet this morning and then drug it sopping wet onto the carpet, or something, I am very wary of wet noises. Something is not right here, as I hear Danika utter, " . . . ooooooooooooohhhhhhh just adorable!"

Then I find it. While I was finishing my conversation with Danika, and looking for what my son had been doing, I discover that he has locked himself in the bathroom, so that he could take wads of wet toilet paper, (soaked in toilet water, - EW!) and huck them up on the bathroom wall until they got stuck there. As in, I would have to reach up high to get some of the wads down. And I REALLY REALLY don't want to right now. . . *checks watch to see when dad will be home to be equally horrified - and what my odds are of foisting the cleaning job off on him - he is taller than me after all, and I'm 9 months pregnant.*

How do you bridge this differential gap? Maybe Sesame Steet has the answer, "Letter B, Letter B! Ah Letter B, Letttter B, ah Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh, Letter B, Letter B."