Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday...

It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

I'm officially old now, if you listen to my hubby.

I asked him, "How can 37 be all that different than 36? Really?"

He answered, "It just is. You'll see..."

Why, because he's been 37 for a whopping 3 months now? Although, perhaps with the driver's license thing, he might be suffering some early Alzheimer's. Maybe.  Or it could be that he worked too darn hard this spring because at some point in his semester, every one of his colleagues was out on leave.  That could make you feel old. 

OK.  Back to ME, since it's my birthday!  36 was mostly a good year -- we went on a fab vacation to see dear friends in California, bought a new house, moved, and watched our children grow and learn.  I made a triumphant return to the stage, or at least a return.  I painted every room on the main level of our house except the kitchen all by myself.  Our flock is healthy.  Some of our garden is growing.  I survived Glee.

Year 36 also had some low points -- like the miscarriage and the struggle to conceive.  I had hoped to turn 37 either pregnant or skinnier, and I am neither.  Sigh...  A dear friend fought breast cancer and kicked it in the heinie.  Milo broke his little arm.

I wonder what 37 will bring?

Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Hey, look what I found in my comments from yesterday!

Brianne over at The Photog Nazi has shared with me the Versatile Blogger Award!

The guidelines for accepting this award require the recipient to (1) thank the person who gave it to you; (2) tell 7 things about yourself; and (3) pass the award on to 05 bloggers, whom you have recently discovered and think are fantastic.

Since I have been known to follow directions, here goes!

Thank you sincerely to Brianne for her support of my fledgling blog.  You should stop by her blog and check out her A-MA-ZING photography.  I so wish she lived closer to me...


Seven things about me:
  1. I like to be barefoot
  2. I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate
  3. I had a Brooke Shields doll when I was a kid and I didn’t know who she was
  4. I failed fantastically at nursing Milo; I was a stupendous success nursing Violet
  5. My wedding ring is stuck on my finger
  6. I I have never had a manicure or pedicure
  7. Dentures scare me
And five fabulous bloggers (do I really have to pick just five??):
  1. Allison at The Adventures of Bean and Goobs  I discovered her thanks to the Scholastic blog awards -- she was my competition, *mean face * and grrrr, but I liked her blog so much I up and followed her!
  2. Mama Pipes at My Corn Cadenza  She's a mom of a simply gorgeous baby girl and an opera singer trying to figure out what step to take next in the Opera Capital of the World: Iowa
  3. Rhonda,The Lively One, at The Natives Are Getting Restless is a bloggy buddy - we bounce ideas off each other like ping pong balls, minus the paddling
  4. Denise at Musings de Mommy for having a truly exquisite voice -- I gladly bow to her superior WSP (writing super-powers)!
  5. Bethany at Stories of an Imperfect Mom because I just get her sense of humor -- she's a girl after my own heart!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Am Proud to be a Theta Mom

Being a mother has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone that I have to wear a safety helmet just to look back at what I have done in the last five years.

I have suffered the indignities of (multiple) trans-vaginal ultrasounds.  I have worn more bodily fluids than I thought was possible to house in a toddler.  I have survived the withering glance of cruel old women in a McDonalds, a glance made because my child's coat fell on the floor, oh the horror!  I have allowed my home to be overrun by Star Wars guys and princess dress-up clothes, by Little People and washable markers. 

But most of all, I have relinquished my meager sense of control.  I know that, despite me wishing, hoping and cajoling, my children are not me.  They are bound -- mandated, even -- to live their own lives, to make their own mistakes, and to celebrate their own victories.  They are growing, reaching, yearning in spite of me.

It is simply my job to cultivate the world around them, to make it a safe place for them to test their imaginations, theories, and flights of fancy.  I wield the sword of motherhood, the shield of love, and the helm of experience and I use this armor daily as I fight to keep my children free - free to become a person that is so ultimately NOT ME.

I could, perhaps, try to force them into a life that is as ill-fitting as a pair of outgrown shoes, but has anyone ever looked back and said, "I am so glad my parents loved who they wanted me to be and not who I am!  Really, I am..."

And so I equip them with manners, advise them on how to approach decisions, and help them understand consequences.  In every moment, I leave them with as many tools as I know possible because surely one of them will fit the situation, right?  But in some instances there are no tools, there is no expertise, and my advice is not heeded.  And then I open my arms wide, wide, wide to engulf my hurt, angry, or utterly confused babe, using my body and heart to create a barrier, to hopefully absorb some of the pain, to help them make sense of the nonsense.  On every breath I hope that I have done it right, knowing that I am fighting a losing battle, that there are times when my love will not be enough, not even close to enough.

This is why I am  Theta Mom.  To find out what that means, check out this blog entry over at Theta Mom.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Five years ago today, the most beautiful baby boy ever born slipped into the world with his umbilical cord looped gently around his neck and his little hand holding my heart, bringing it with him into the room, beating the song of motherhood.

I don't know what he thought as he looked around for the first time, as he heard the nurses cheering and the doctor teasing his father about his adrenaline-clumsy fingers that fumbled the scissors which cut the physical tie that bound us, as he felt the air pricking the fine hairs on his body and hands turning him, wrapping him, laying him on my chest.

I believe that I do know what he thought in that moment when his skin grazed mine, his eyes turned toward my face, toward my hiccuped, choked call, "Oh, my baby!  Hello, my baby!  Oh, my boy!"  When he sensed my voice, his panicked wail ceased, his face bright and alert as his gaze was drawn into mine.  I saw the recognition, saw him react, saw him think, "Mommy.  My mommy."  I was drowning and I let go, let myself sink.

Oh, my sweet, sweet boy...  I love you fiercely.  I react to your joy and pain viscerally, my heart far more exposed in your life than it ever was in mine.  If ever I thought that growing up was hard when I was the one growing, I now know that difficulty is dwarfed by the insecurity of growing another.  There are so many decisions, so many implications, so many choices second-guessed as I try to guide you into the being you will become.  Do I stand too close?  Let you wander too far?  Give you enough or too much?

As I tucked you in last night, I kissed your cheek and you grasped my head, pulling me nearly into the bed.  I held you and, for a moment, smelled a sliver of your newborn scent -- a scent which makes me drunk with love.  I held you, my baby, and you, my child, in that heartbeat; time swelled so that I could step into memory, swimming again in emotion, reborn as a mother.

Happy birthday, Milo.  I can only hope that one day you will get a gift as perfect as I did when you were born.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Coffee!?!

My coffee maker has died.  I have mourned her death daily for the last, but never more than I did this morning.

There were some pretty noisy storms that swept through the area last night, loud rumbling thunder rattling my windows and vivid lightning darting across the sky.  My children slept through this symphony.  One of my dogs slept, too.  And the other?

Oh heck-to-the-NO.  My chubby Tess was uncharacteristically spooked by the storms, barking repeatedly from downstairs as she pawed at the baby gate at the bottom of the steps.  She barks, then pauses for five seconds to listen for someone (me) to rouse upstairs, then barks again -- just one bark every five seconds like an alarm clock.  She did this last night at midnight.  Two A.M.  Two-thirty A.M. and at 3 A.M.

Up until last night, we had been sleeping comfortably dog-less upstairs because the dogs are typically restless sleepers, panting, groaning, snoring, actively dreaming, and, most offensively, farting all night long.  When we moved in November, they were both hesitant to climb the uncarpeted stairs, afraid of sliding all the way down if they slipped.  I was really OK with this.  In December, Mocha had decided she was tired of living downstairs and came up during the kids' bath.  But overnight, she didn't bother coming upstairs because we'd closed all of the bedroom doors.  Or at least, I never noticed her coming upstairs.  She's sooo refined, as long as you exclude her frozen poop addiction.

This spring, Tess decided to overcome her fear of the stairs and has joined us upstairs at odd times, normally startling us because we don't expect her to lug her generous weight up the steps.  So we put up a baby gate at the bottom of the steps because she is not nearly as polite as Mocha -- she will whine and paw and bark to get into a room with a closed door.  This was what she did last night -- rammed into my door like a freight train, startling the snot out of me, jolting me wide awake at 3 A.M.  Hey, 130 pounds of Lab makes a LOUD noise.

Frustrated and exhausted, I did what every parent who is tired of comforting a non-sleeping child does -- let her into the room.  And begged her to sleep quietly and not fart, oh please, oh please, oh please...

Sleep training an old dog new tricks sucks.  And it sucks even more when you don't have any coffee...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Got My Head Up My...

I think I have my head wedged tightly up my bum.  Seriously...

I totally forgot to call my Dad on Father's Day.  Who does that?  Me...  I did text him when I remembered it, but that was at 10:30 last night -- and he's on EST, not CST like me.  Sorry, Daddy...

And then, I realized that I changed purses and never mailed a Mother's Day card to my Grandmother.  Sigh...  I am clearly not going to win "Most Favored Granddaughter" status this year.  Sorry, Grandma...

What is going on with me?

I think the end of the academic year came rushing at me like a freight train on speed -- recovering from that has left me floundering, my head spinning right round like a record, baby.  When you add in the amazing traveling husband, the t-ball playing, birthday partying boy child and the potty training girl child you get a mama about as organized as my Mom's junk drawer.  Oh, yeah -- there's the chickens, house, laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill-paying, weed-filled gardening and trying-to-lose-weight-by-running, too.

I don't really have an excuse because when said hubby isn't traveling or working a show during the evening, he's a pretty darn helpful guy.  Unfortunately, June has seen one opera, one trip to Texas, and the current week-long sojourn to Nebraska for this poor, overworked daddy.  Poor fella spent Father's Day in a rented van driving through thunderstorms to recruit aspiring thespians. 

And then, when I did get a chance to talk to him, I groused about the four empty ice cube trays in the kitchen.  No one else uses ice, ice, baby.  Just him.  And the wonderful wife that is me took the opportunity to complain to him about it in Father's Day.  Sorry, honey...

So, yeah...  I've got a big ol' head wedgie right now... 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guess What We've Been Doing?

T-Ball!  He sprints to line up first to bat...

and crosses home plate like a champion!

She loves the outside time
as long as we're paying attention to her.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ultra Violet

Apparently I am simply destined to be up before dawn on Mondays, thank-you-very-much, Tess, the dog who groans and barks until I get up out of fear that she's going to have an accident that I will just have to clean up.  Yay for 5:45!  SO not happy about this, so it's a good thing that the kids adore her, grrrr...

So, as long as I'm up, I think I'll share a bit about our dear wee Violet, who will insist that she is "Not a muffin!" or "Not a puppy!" or "not" whatever you tease her about being.  Yes, I tease my two-year-old.  I also let her out of the house in 90 degree weather wearing her winter boots and Tinkerbell sunglasses with her ensemble -- which, on that particular day was a jeans skirt and t-shirt, so she tromped around wearing her sunglasses (upside down) and boots, looking very much like a Hollywood starlet.  Hey, at least she made people smile!

Little miss is potty training.  She's really good about getting her poopies in the potty, but apparently really only likes to tinkle in the potty at daycare, when she's stalling at bedtime, or when we're out and about and she thinks she'd like to see the inside of the restroom in stores or restaurants.  So she is definitely not ready to wear undies full-time.

Miss "not a muffin!" has been very animated as she tells us stories about what she's done that day.  She narrates them with a very musical tone, her voice climbing and falling for great effect, her little hands flitting about as they sketch the shapes and rhythm of her words.

One of her current favorite tales is the Tale of the Tornado Drill.  She vividly recounts the tornado drill practiced at daycare one stormy day:

"We hadta go to the basement because it was a wainy day with lots of flunder!  It was a big storm and we went under a table and the lights went on and off and on and off and we were in the basement!"

As she tells this thriller, she leans towards her listener, raising her eyebrows on "wainy" and "flunder" and popping her hands open, fingers splayed wide when she says "on" and fists closed tightly when she says "off" for the status of the lights.  She does this every time she tells the story, as if she's made her own little finger play for the tale.  She will tell you this story over and over until you acknowledge her with a relevant comment -- a general "Wow!" or "Oh, my goodness!" will not suffice, you must note how the lights went "on and off and on and off" or that the "flunder" was loud and maybe even a little scary.  Or you will hear this tale again and again and again.  And, really, a two-sentence tale can be retold  thirteen times a minute, you know...

My bonny lass has also decided that her name is "Violet, Big Girl."  She will answer to just plain old Violet, but if you ask her who she is, she will answer you with name and title.  She claims the big girl status at the playground, where she scampers up ladders as quick as a chimp, passing children her own age and older to  claim her spot in line for the slide.  She tells anyone who will listen that her name is "Violet, Big Girl" and that she is four, or sometimes six years old.  Adults smile and compliment her for her youthful appearance, but children sometimes actually believe her.  Poor gullible children...

Oh, to be two and ready to conquer the world...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I've Got a Hot Date on Friday!

I'm married to an outlaw.  A law-breaker.  A man willing to flaunt his stuff for the entire law enforcement community to see as he zips by in his bright yellow Saturn coupe.

He's forgotten to renew his driver's license and it is now been expired for nearly three months.


I find this particularly humorous because around his birthday (three months ago) I asked him if he'd been to renew his license yet, since he and I were born in the same year, our licenses come up for renewal during the same year, too.  I knew mine would need to be renewed this year.

"Oh, I don't need to -- I've got another year on mine."

I blinked.  "Really?  I need to renew mine this summer."

"Oh, no -- I'm good to go until next spring."

"You've checked, right?"

"If it will make you feel better, I will."

And then life happened and he forgot to check and I only remembered to remind him once, maybe six weeks later.  And life was still happening and he forgot to check again.

And then today after I had driven him to the airport, left him there, and started heading home, my phone starts ringing.  I glance at it to see if it was anything urgent and saw that it was Scott.  I figured he'd forgotten something and was asking if I could run to Target to buy him a toothbrush or deoderant or whatever.


His voice was a tinged with irony as he asked me, "So, do you want to know what the lady at TSA told me?"

"Sure."  I figured it was either something innocuous and funny, like "Dude!  You've totally got TP stuck to your shoe!" or something scary and dangerous, like "Sir, are you aware that someone has slipped some dangerous explosives into the hard drive of your computer?"

Oh, no.  She didn't have either of those things to say.  He very sheepishly admitted that she said, "Hey, your driver's license expired three months ago.  You should pay more attention to that and go renew it."

And that, my friends, is how I am married to a man driving all over the state illegally for the last three months in some goofy adolescent rebellion against his wife, who simply reminded him to CHECK the expiration date on his license.  No nagging, no pestering -- just a simple suggestion.

Guess what we're doing on Friday afternoon when he deplanes?  Swinging by the Department of Motor Vehicles to get new driver's licenses.  Mine will be renewed on time and his, well, let's just say he's pretty lucky that he won't have to take the written test again.  Hot date, huh?

Monday, June 7, 2010

And on First Base: Ballerina Gene Kelly

Well, there's no way around it.  My son is definitely my kid.

I was able to watch a bit more of Milo's t-ball practice and it is clearly evident that the athletic apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree.  He is enthusiastic and does pretty well following directions, though he did get a bit rowdy when the kids were standing around at the end of practice, but it was just the end and he wasn't really doing anything the other kids weren't.

He did do what was asked of him when it was asked of him.  So what if he forgot that he is right handed and put the loop-and-hook mitt on his right hand, throwing the fuzzy ball crookedly with his left hand.  And, I guess, so what if he decided to keep throwing left-handed when reminded that he is right-handed because he had a marginally better shot of catching with his right hand than he does with his left.  I, too, am completely left hand stupid.  I can type and use it to assist my fully capable right hand, but I am nowhere near passably ambidextrous.

Fielding?  Well, he tried to make a fancy diving catch when he was playing first base.  It amused the coaches and the other parents, but I know that he was actually just practicing a dramatic fall because Clone Troopers would dive like that to save a falling grenade from detonating on impact.  I think he may have even made an explosion sound effect as he sprawled on the grass after the lazily skipping ball.  Besides, he showed us not once, but twice that a ball glove works better as a flying object, particularly if it is flung from your hand as you twirl fast, arms outstretched like a helicopter rotor...

I am thrilled beyond thrilled that he had such a good time at practice.  And, I suppose, maybe a little proud that my genes as the ballerina outfielder just might have found a home in him, because Violet is coordinated enough for at least three kids.



I know why it's happening, but I'm not sure how to make it stop because it is all stress related.  When I type stress, imagine it with 60,000 lightning bolts arcing around it, the metallic taste of ozone creeping into your mouth.  Electric blue stress, with a side of last-adult-standing.

What's goin' on to make me stressed?  Eh, a couple of things.
1.  The miscarriage.  As it stands right now, another phebotomist rolled another vein in my right arm, so I had to attend a wedding on Friday night with a nasty bruise and some track marks on the inside of my elbow.  I solved this issue by always carrying a glass of wine -- brilliant!  Friday night, my poor hubby had to insert four pills of Cytotec into my girly parts to medically induce a miscarriage.  After reading horror stories online, I was too chicken to administer the meds myself.  No horror story for me, though, as it didn't work.  Well, it worked well enough that I had some crap-tastic diarrhea and was limp as a wet noodle all day Saturday, but I didn't finish the miscarriage, or maybe I didn't need to.  I don't know anymore.  I have an ultrasound scheduled for the 21st to see what's-a-going-on-in-there.  Yippee!

2.  Violet had a tummy bug.  And now, every time one of the kids moves at night, I hear it on the monitor and think someone's drowning in puke in their bed.  I jolt out of bed and tear into her room, searching for signs of vomit, then return empty-handed to repeat this ritual in 34 seconds.  This has caused me so much anxiety that I have actually spent part of the last few nights snoozing on the futon where I can't hear the baby monitor.  I'd turn it off, but Scott actually likes it.  Maybe I'll just turn it off anyway.

3.  Speaking of Scott, he's waist deep in a production, as he always is this time of year.  Tech rehearsals kept him out of the house on Saturday when I was winning the couch-parenting-mother-of-the-year award and will tonight and tomorrow night.  So now I've got to chase Violet around the playground during Milo's t-ball practice again.  Because that was super-fun last week.  And will be super-fun on Wednesday, too.

4.  Scott is heading out of town.  Yep, he'll be installing a set in Texas this week.  Yay for the rental fee, yay for the per diem travel, and yay for the wages to install it, but BOO to Scott being gone.  Boo, hiss...

5.  Milo's birthday party is approaching.  Which means cleaning and preparing for a party.  And hoping that kids come...  I've only had three RSVPs (two yes, one no) out of 10 invites.  They aren't due until the 10th, so hopefully a few more will come through.

6.  I'm gearing up to go to part-time status at the beginning of July.  Trying to get as much done before then.  And with classes out, the only living things in the basement of this building are me and the bugs.  Did I mention that spiders creep me out?  Well, they do.

7.  My garden and plants aren't responding and growing as well as I'd hoped they would.  Sure, some things are doing really well (corn, beans, zucchini, onions) but the ones I really want to eat (broccoli, tomatoes, and cauliflower) aren't.  Some of the peppers are and some aren't.  I got some organic fertilizer to see if that will make a difference...  Now to find the time to use it.

8.  I need to renew my driver's license and file for a homestead tax credit.  OK, not real big stressors here, but stuff that does need to be done.  Speaking of which, why hasn't my license plate renewal notice arrived?  Better check into that, too.

9.  Violet is trying to potty train.  Sometimes.  When it seems appropriate.  Or darn inconvenient.  Her little voice doesn't seem to carry the same sort of insistence that Milo's did when he was in that stage.  Sometimes it sounds like she's singing, other times it sounds like she's asking for a drink.  "My need tinkle" sounds a bit like "My need dwink!" doesn't it?

10.  My allergies and sunburn have left me feeling totally itchy.  And like I just don't want to be touched.  At all.  By anyone.  And everyone I know wants to sit in my lap, cuddle me, snuggle me, sleep on me, sleep with me, squash me, and climb on me.  I just don't seem to have any tolerance right now.  Maybe a few nights sleeping in my bed all by myself with the monitor off will do the trick?  Even if they don't that's still what's going to happen.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

Every now and then, something happens that knocks me off my feet with surprise. 

On Tuesday, I received a letter, written in a hand I didn't know from a man I didn't know.  It was short, written on a piece of personalized stationery.  The hand-addressed envelope was written carefully by someone who wanted me to know something important, the letters marched across the envelope with a measured cadence, thoughtfully crafted and catching my attention immediately.  No one writes letters these days and this was real correspondence written by a person who prefers pen and paper to email and instant response.

The postmark was from Peoria, Illinois, but the town in the return address was some place to which I have never been, nor to my knowledge did I have any friends living there.  Who had written this letter and why was it so important for him to reach out to me?

The clue was in his name and his name was the reason I stopped short, dropping the other mail to open this letter in front of the house, not even waiting to walk inside, my children skipping around me, calling, "Mom!  Mom!  Look what I have!  Look what I can do!  Look, look, look!"

The name?  Milo Nussbaum.

I don't know Milo Nussbaum.  I thought instantly that he had written because I have a son named Milo.  I could tell from his handwriting that he was an older gentleman, was he writing to any Milo he could find?  I was so curious that I carefully slid the envelope open to read his story, which was written on a small sheet of paper that said, "Reverend Milo Nussbaum."

Apparently, a friend had brought it to his attention that there was a woman (me), pictured with her children Milo and Violet, who was featured in a story in Parents Magazine for being a "Star Member" on the website.
He had decided to write me because his recently deceased wife of nearly 65 years was named Violet and he had never seen a sibling pairing of his name and his wife's name.  He also complimented the advice I gave.

I was instantly touched and started crying.  What a thoughtful gesture for Reverend Nussbaum to share that with us.  I will write him back and tell him about how I believe that my children named themselves while in my womb.  After all of the years Scott and I had dreamed of our children, the names Milo and Violet were never on the list of names we generated, but before I knew the genders of either of our babes, their names came to me in vivid thought and something in me insisted that I follow through.

I am not sure how he researched me and found us, though there aren't that many people in my town with my last name.  I did my own research and found Reverend Nussbaum to be an extraordinary person, caring for his family and community in many ways.  I hope that my Milo can be as caring of his sister in their long lives as siblings.

I hope that Reverend Nussbaum found some joy in this coincidence;  I know that I have found it in his random act of kindness.