Saturday, April 30, 2011

...and I'll cry if I want to

What is it about little girls and birthday parties?

Seriously.

It's the combination of anticipation and nerves and expectations.  Of the idea of having a day just for them that goes exactly like they want, but then realizing that life doesn't hardly ever work out exactly that way.  Occasionally, you just have to cry. 



There is a song about it, right? 


I'm pretty sure that this was the first year that Ashley didn't end up in tears during her party, and she's 8.

Ally's party was today.  She cried at least three times in the two hour span, many more before and afterwards. 

For the last month or so, she's asked me over and over again how many days until my party????

We don't invite huge numbers of kids, never have.  I just can't do it.  She was disappointed to hear that a classmate was having his party on the same day at the same time, and that a few of the kids were invited to both parties.  Some came here, some went there.  

Have I ever mentioned how much I can't stand birthday party drama? 

The good news?  It's over and done and I don't have to worry about a girl party again for ten fabulous months.

Ally got the party that she wanted, with the required rainbow cake and rainbow jello and rainbow snacks.   She had fun with her friends almost all the time.  She got press on nails and glittery lip gloss and a diary.  She got the Rapunzel dress and super long wig that she had her heart set on. 

Being quite fabulous
All in all, it was pretty fantastic, even if there were a few tears.

30 Days of Music - Day 14

Day 14 - What is a song that no one would expect you to like?

I like almost any kind of music.  From gangster rap to alternative, pop to the hair bands of the 90's.  If I had to pick one genre of music to be my least favorite, it would probably have to be country.

I don't love country music.  I don't mind some of it, this is true.  The stuff that falls into the crossover category is mostly okay.  But the vast majority of it I could take or leave.

At some point over the last few years, my parents started listening to it.  Until Dad stopped one day.  He was tired of hearing songs about losing a parent,  living like you are dying and last breaths.  He didn't want to hear the sad songs anymore. 

And it seems like a lot of country is that way. 

In fact, the day after he died, I was sitting in his chair watching the Grammy's when Miranda Lambert sang her song, The House that Built Me.  It was the first time I'd ever heard it, which tells you how little I listen to country music.  And it just about broke my heart, reaffirming the fact that country music is hard to listen to because it's so real and heartfelt.

I want music to make me feel better, to up my spirits, lighten my mood....not remind me of the sad things in life all the time.

Plus, unless I am in a cowboy bar doing the electric slide, I don't need "yee-haw" to be in any of the songs, thank you very much.

As much as I don't love country in general, I love this guy.  I'd go see him in concert in a heartbeat. 

The Dance, Garth Brooks

The Video

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Husband, the Gangster

I live with this guy. 

Some of you are familiar with the type, I'm sure. 

The guy who wasn't really an athlete in high school, but decided at some point in his late 20's to become a weekend warrior.  The guy who, since becoming a weekend warrior, has injured himself more than once in the pursuit of awesomeness.  He forgets that the older he gets the more it's going to hurt and the longer it's going to take to heal.

Tom broke his foot at just about exactly this time of year in 2003, playing basketball with the teenagers across the street.   If you ask him, he'll lament the fact that he injured himself, but be sure to point out the fact that he finished (and won) the game. 

Men.

He's generally quiet and reserved, but with an inner rage that is kept bottled up almost all the time.  The most common targets of the rage?  Salespeople and inanimate objects.  My dear husband once yelled at a Blockbuster clerk so loud that I'm pretty sure the kid immediately turned in his resignation.

Then there is the matter of the inanimate objects. 

A few years ago, when we were landscaping the yard, he went and bought a little trellis.  He went to anchor it to the ground and it broke.  He proceeded to beat the crap out of it in clear view of all my neighbors.

I don't bother stopping him.  It's just better that way.

It happens periodically.  I figure it's like the whole weekend warrior thing.  Guys get older, they need to occasionally prove to themselves that they can still compete, can still create, can still destroy.  I don't pretend to understand it, but I try to give him his space when it happens.

Last weekend, he brought up one of the many old computers we have in the basement.  Which, I know, begs the question of why we keep them.  If only I could offer you all a good explanation. 

Anyway, he brought one up in an attempt to resurrect it from the dead.  The kids have been wanting a place to play their games, and I have been wanting them to stop bugging me.  It worked for a few days.

Until last night.  Then it stopped. 

He tried all his tricks to get it to work.  He even yelled at it and smacked the side of it a few times...which somehow almost always works for him.

No go.

Then he got angry.  And he hit it.  A few times. 

Ouch.

Then he got really mad at it.  Picked it up, opened the sliding glass door, and launched it into the yard.  He then proceeded to go all office space on it.  For those of you who haven't seen the movie, please do so.  If you've ever worked in an office setting, you will totally get it. 

One of the all-time funniest movie scenes ever here.

After he was done destroying the computer, he picked up the pieces and threw them away.

I asked him if he was satisfied.  He grinned, then cradled his right hand with his left.  I asked him if he hurt himself again.  He said no.  It was fine.

We sat down to eat dinner and I watched his hand swelling and turning colors.  Sent him to the ER, where they told him after a few hours that it was just bruised, sent him home.   But not before he received several compliments on his Dunder Mifflin shirt.  Yes, he is mine, ladies. 


Then I got a phone call from the radiologist today.  Just kidding.  One of the bones is chipped.

Good job, honey.

The tennis league that is supposed to start next week?  Not happening. 

He might have hurt himself, but I'm sure he'll tell you that he taught that computer a lesson too.

And really, isn't that what is important?

Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

He's just going to be a gangster in a splint for a few weeks.

30 Days of Music - Day 13

Day 13 - What is a song that is a guilty pleasure?

This question practically answered itself a few days ago on my Facebook page.  It's fitting that this week, the theme on Dancing with the Stars was "guilty pleasures".  On the stage during the show, NKOTB.

The hard part about answering this one is that at the time I loved this group as much as I once did, I wasn't alone.  There were million of other girls just like me, swooning over these guys. 

They broke up, attempted solo careers, went on with their lives.  At some point they got back together, recorded new music.  The true fans don't really care all that much about the new stuff though.  We want the original songs.  The ones we sang along with the radio to as we pinned their posters to our bedroom walls.

I saw them in their prime, along with a few thousand other screaming teenage girls.  I'd still go see them in concert now, though.

Step by Step, New Kids on the Block

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding - A little girl's dream come true

I'm watching the wedding tomorrow. 

Correction.

I am taping the wedding coverage and watching it later, at a time when normal people are awake in this part of the world.

I wish that I had a real and legitimate reason for caring about the marriage of two upper crust people from the other side of the pond.  I don't.

I've no real reason to be invested in it.  In my family heritage, there is a teeny tiny bit of it that hails from England, but the vast majority of my blood is very much not from there.

I'm not much a fan of monarchies, yet I was wholly transfixed by the coverage of Diana's death.

There are many more important things happening in the world far more deserving of my attention, this is true.

And yet, I'm excited.

Makes no sense, I know.

In some ways it does though, or at least it will for the people who've known me forever.  Though I'm not overly girly, I very much so have a princess complex.

Don't we all, though?  Just a little?  Shhh....admit it.

I mean, really.  Look at the stories we were raised on.  The movies we loved.  The women in those tales seemed always in need of saving by some handsome rich prince who rode up on his white horse, then they lived happily ever after.

And as cliche as it is, we all at one point or another wanted that.  Dreamt of it, even.

Then reality came along and smacked you in the face and told you that princes only ride horses when they play polo and that being born an average girl wasn't helping your chances of landing a rich nobleman, especially when you weren't even on the right side of the ocean.

My fairytale didn't exactly play out the way it was supposed to.  There were some revisions in the story I wasn't aware would be coming. 

I did have a horse drawn carriage the day I was a bride, though.

And no, I'm totally not kidding.

I, the very non-girly girl that I am, had a horse drawn carriage.  And a parasol.  Nope, not kidding.

When I was a little girl, I had such an intense princess complex that I insisted on being a princess every year on Halloween.  Until the year I promoted myself to Queen.

And though there aren't many of us swept away to castles in real life, sometimes it actually happens.

Sometimes a little girl's fairytale dreams come true. 

Tomorrow one will.

And this simple girl who once upon a time dreamt of a fairytale ending will be watching from this side of the pond.

If he's Phil, I am Claire - My Modern Family

You ever feel like there are sitcom writers living in your house and documenting your life then putting it on TV?

I sure do. 

The very first episode of the show Modern Family had me hooked.  It's real and honest and funny as hell.

Plus, I live with Phil.  Really.  My husband is so much like him that it's not even funny.

Claire, his wife, frequently refers to him as the kid she is married to.  Cannot tell you how many times I have said that.

Like Phil, Tom was born to be the aloof husband, the goofy dad.  The guy who is constantly unaware of how the things he says can be misinterpreted by other people.  The fun parent.  The one who loves his kids to the end of the earth but loves to embarrass them too. 

He really is Phil, quirks and all.  The fidgeting.  The realizing a few seconds too late that he said something inappropriate.  The smiling and sweet-talking his way out of trouble with his wife. 

This week's episode served as yet another reminder of just how much like Phil he is.   Claire had made a secret appointment for one of their kids to see a therapist, going behind Phil's back.  She did that because he thinks she is a chronic over reactor and doesn't buy into the whole idea of therapy.  This describes my husband perfectly.

He catches her because she wrote herself a note as a reminder and meets them at the appointment.  The therapist calls the two parents in and sits them down.  Asks Claire what exactly she is worried about. 

Phil's response to the therapist?  Get comfortable. 

As much as Tom is Phil, I am Claire.  I swear this episode was about us. 

I am the mom who over analyzes and tries to control things.  I am the worrier and the researcher.  I am the one who always freaks out a little bit about everything.  I am the one who needs to believe that I can stay on top of everything.  The one always stressed out about something.

Later on in the episode, she confesses to him that the reason she took their son to see the therapist is that she is afraid he will grow up to have the same struggles as his father.  That he will need someone to reign him in as she has.  That he will be aloof and fidgety and he will grow up that way.  And she is afraid she will be powerless to fix it.

I glanced at my husband.  He wasn't laughing anymore.  We've had this exact conversation

Then, just as Tom reassured me time and again, Phil did the same for Claire.

You know why else he's gonna be ok? Because somewhere out there is a little girl who's making lists and labeling bins...and he's gonna find her.

Holy crap.  It is us. 

Phil and Claire.   They might at well rename the characters.
It would be pretty funny if I had
a picture of us like this, huh?

30 Days of Music - Day 12

Day 12 - What is a song from a band that you hate?

I don't really hate any band.  Sure, there are some I don't like much and some songs that make my skin crawl. 

Then there is an entire genre of music that grates on my nerves.  Whiny white boy bands.  Middle class teenagers and twenty somethings who write all these songs about how terrible their lives are. 

Some of the bands I will forgive for their general inclusion in this genre because they are awesome.  Like Offspring and Green Day.  The ones that stuck around for more than a few years, because, wait for it..... they can actually make music that appeals to people other than 13 year old white kids.

This song (and this group for that matter) pretty much represents the worst of the genre.  The guyliner and black nails and dark mystery about them that is really so pathetically transparent.  Not that there is anything wrong with guyliner and black nails and dark mystery, mind you.  You just have to be able to pull it off. 

I don't think they can.

But then, I'm not 13 anymore.

This song is just wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin.  Leave the classics alone, please.  You cannot do this better than MJ did.  You just can't.

Beat It, Fall Out Boy ft. John Mayer

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When a Marriage Ends

I guess we have officially reached that age.

You know, the one that we swore we'd never get to when we were idealistic teenagers. 

Back when we promised ourselves that we would make good choices, find suitable partners, be in love forever.  You know, then.

Well, guess what?  We are that age now.

In just the past few days, I've had no fewer than four different friends, in different places in their lives, with very different circumstances, express to me that things aren't the way they were supposed to be.

They have fallen out of love, they have reached the breaking point, they have walked out.  They have been cheated on, lied to.   They are scarred from what they've been through.  Happily ever after isn't anymore.

When you walk down that aisle, all happy and optimistic, you never imagine the wreckage that your life might one day become.  You don't anticipate the choices you will be faced with.  The gravity of signing a single piece of paper.   Having to put in writing the days you get to see your own children.  What it feels like to be on the back end of a failed marriage.

We are that age now. 

We have had more than a few friends, once happily married, see the end of their relationship.  Some ended amicably, some only got there after a lot of tears and therapy.  Some are still very much filled with animosity and antagonism. 

The thing about love is that it is such a strong emotion that when it leaves, it creates more than just a void.   It actually seems to create a negative force, something that generates a fierce storm of hatred and revenge.

Fingers get pointed, blame is laid.  Children often stuck in the middle, used as pawns in the fight.

With time and understanding, one of my friends has come to a place of peace with her situation.  Life has blessed her with love again already.  Her relationship with her as-of-now-ex-husband is a good one.    Even with being in a "good place"  that it's over, even knowing that they have been preparing for this formal ending, it's still unsettling.

I tried to reassure her yesterday that it's okay that her nerves are rattled.  They should be.

Even if a marriage has been truly over for a while, even if there hasn't been an actual love/partner/friend relationship in a long time, even if the writing was on the wall that this was coming, it is still hard.

Because you aren't just letting go of this marriage, you are in some part letting go of the idea of it in the first place.  Of the illusion that forever after is even possible. 

I have another friend with a seemingly perfect marriage in counseling.  She is overwhelmed and tired and knows now that this reality isn't what she signed up for at all.  She's wondering if it is worth it anymore.  I know far too many women (and men for that matter) just like her, but unwilling to admit it aloud.

Then the one that I worry for the most.  Still very much entrenched in the aftermath of a broken heart, she is. 

I wish there was a way to make it all better.  To right the wrongs.  To make people stay honest.  To keep them in love with one another.  To sit little boys and little girls down years before they contemplate dating and educate them about what a loving, trusting relationship is, what a partnership it is supposed to be.  To avoid the heartbreak and destruction.

More often, I wish I could go back to the time in my life when I was still idealistic about love.  Where I truly believed that love was enough. That none of the other stuff mattered. 

The trouble with love is that it requires people.  And people are flawed. 

I know better than to be idealistic now. 

I've seen what a marriage looks like when those who were in it have to walk away.

We are officially that age.

30 Days of Music - Day 11

Day 11 - What is a song from your favorite band?

As much as I love music, I don't really have one favorite band.  I know, right?

There are many I love, more than a few that I'd love to see live someday.  And a few that I actually have.

I guess I will go with this band.  I know they are my husband's favorite.  I thought he might actually cry last night when he read the newspaper and learned that they played as part of a garage band series at a bar the next town over the night before.  He's seen them before, but they have a reputation for doing these super secret underground shows in small clubs. 

He dreams of one day seeing them in that kind of place. 

He saw them play at Red Rocks a few years back.  I was supposed to go, but lucky me...I was hugely pregnant.  I have this tendency to be either on bed rest or darn close to it when really cool things happen.  I missed U2's Elevation tour concert in San Diego.  The last opening day of the Padres when we lived in California.  And these guys. 

Foo Fighters.

I will confess that I don't love them nearly as much as my husband does, but I do love them.  In particular, I adore Dave Grohl.  He's hilarious.  He's an old fashioned rockstar.  And he was in Nirvana...which is about as close to the pinnacle of awesome for my generation as anyone could possibly get.

My favorite song of theirs isn't one of the super famous ones.  It isn't the one with the video that makes me laugh the entire time, mocking a Mentos commercial.  It is a song that many people weren't even sure was theirs at first.  It doesn't sound like their normal stuff. 

I heard this song for the first time sitting on an airplane, flying home from an emergency visit to see my ill father last year.  Feeling torn between the pieces of my life, wondering how much more I could handle, I heard these words for the first time. 

Wheels, Foo Fighters

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When you have boys, part II

When you have boys....

Sometimes they do so many crazy things that you can't even fit them all in one post.

Sometimes there is just no way to get them all in one place the first time.

Sometimes they get stuck in the dog door.

No, your eyes don't deceive you.  That is Aidan, at 2,
stuck in the dog door.  I love Jake standing there
all confused. Of course I got the camera before I saved him.
Sometimes they escape from the house.

Sometimes they are responsible for having an entire Walmart on lockdown.

Sometimes they squirt an entire bottle of syrup on the floor.

Sometimes they finger paint with their poop.

Sometimes they pee on you.

Sometimes they flood the bathroom.

Sometimes they build en entire city out of boxes.

Sometimes they scream at higher pitches than little girls.

Sometimes they climb the outside of the stairwell.

Sometimes they hit golf balls from the back porch.

Sometimes they play hide and seek when no one else is.

Sometimes they let their sisters dress them up.

Sometimes they fart in the bathtub.

Sometimes they figure out that farts are funny before they are even a year old.

Sometimes they chase you with the hose.

Sometimes they get out of the bathtub dirty.

Sometimes it's just easier to shave their heads than wash their hair.

Sometimes they sleep with a football.

Sometimes they wipe off your kisses.

Sometimes they let you kiss them in front of their friends.

Sometimes they carry tiny dinosaurs in their pockets.

Sometimes they run every.single.place they go.

Sometimes they repeat all the bad words Daddy says.

Sometimes they write on your walls with permanent markers.

Sometimes they get away with it all because they give their Mom the puppy dog eyes.

Sometimes they curl up in your lap even if they don't really fit anymore and say things like No Mama, I love you more first.
The little man AJ, who looks a whole lot like
 his big brother did at the same age.

Sometimes I feel like I could write a million of these posts.

30 Days of Music - Day 10

Day 10 - What is a song that makes you fall asleep?

The awesome thing about music in general is that it can impact your mood and emotions so deeply and instantly.  There are the songs you use to get fired up, and the songs you turn to when you need calmed.

This one is a hauntingly beautiful song, that I came across for the first time when I was doing my formal doula training.  It's a poignant picture of humanity in general.  I've found it particularly applicable to the experience of bringing forth a new life, then even more so at the end of one. 

The background music is gentle and soothing, I could listen to his voice all day.  I've used this for more than one client in labor.  I've turned to it when I need reassurance that fragility is a normal part of the human condition.  Most recently, I used it in the video my dear friend made to celebrate my father's life. 

Fragile, Sting

Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 9

Day 9 - What is a song you can dance to?

Here's to hoping they are just wanting a song that I like to dance to.  Where I can get funky with my bad self. 

Hoping they don't mean I know all the steps to some choreographed dance number.  I can promise you that I will never spontaneously perform like Monica and Ross from Friends

I'm not as bad as Elaine from Seinfeld, though.  So, that's something, right? 

My formal dance instruction began and ended at the age of 5.  One ballet class was enough, thank you very much. 

I'm not much a dancer.  I would like to be, sure.  I would love to go to some dark club you know so people can't see me, drink way too much and get my freak on.  But that hasn't happened in...oh...about 7 years.  What was it Jenn?  The last time we went dancing for our collective birthday?  That's just sad.

Anyway, I dance at home.   And the kids laugh at me.  Whatever.

I always dance to this song.

How could you not?  Dude brought sexy back.  That is surely deserving of celebration.

SexyBack, Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland

It's not a unibrow

Half of my kids seem cursed by genetics, doomed to inherit the less wonderful physical traits.  Aidan and Ashley have it already, this thing to which I am referring to this morning.

Maybe AJ and Ally are just still too young and their time will come too.   They have many years of hair growing ahead of them.

Poor things, they come by it honestly.  Family history on both sides.

It's bad enough if you are rolling the genetic dice by having one parent with it, the other without.  Having a 50/50 shot of pulling the icky gene is bad enough.   But when you seem predestined to get it since both your parents did, it's just about inevitable.

At least this particular facial feature is something that an be remedied fairly easily. 

Once you can manage tweezers, that is.

I had a unibrow until I figured out how to get rid of it.  My brother definitely inherited my grandfather's eyebrows.  They are thick and bushy.  I caught my dad trimming his more that once.  His weren't so much bushy as they were long and wiry.  A stray hair could make him look like he had a rogue finger on his face.

Then there is Tom's family.  When he met me, he most certainly had a unibrow.  But then again he was still sort-of rocking the mullet, so clearly he wasn't fashion forward.  By the way, he will defend his haircut to the death.  It wasn't a mullet, says he.  It was just short in the front and long in the back.  Sure, honey.  Whatever helps you sleep at night.  ;)

And just as I inherited my eyebrows from my family, Tom did too.  Except I think his family history may be even stronger.  Let's just say you can tell there are some strong German genes in there....well, that, and back then teenage girls didn't worry about plucking their eyebrows as early as they do now.  Yes, there is ample photographic evidence to show this.  One picture in particular makes me giggle from my toes.

And no, for my dear mother-in-law's sake, I won't be posting that picture.  But you can find it on Facebook if you care to investigate further!

Back to this generation of eyebrows...

Aidan has the bushy and thick eyebrows like his Uncle Gary, which makes sense since his hair is the same way.  His hair is so thick that I'm not sure water can penetrate to his scalp whenever he washes it.  Shudder.

At least there is a little space between the brown caterpillars on his face.

Then there is the matter of my Ashley. 

Bless her, that little girl has already developed her mother's self-deprecating sense of humor.  Which is good.  She's gonna need it.  She got my ears too.

We were lamenting the fact that she has a unibrow which rivals the one her Grandma Kathi had, when she told me that she doesn't have a unibrow.

It's not just one eyebrow straight across, she said.

It's a third one.  A separate and distinct entity.

She named it.

Ashley has a nosebrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some days

Some days start out great but don't end up that way.

Today is one of them.

I spent four hours straight in the kitchen rising dough for cinnamon rolls and frying bacon for quiche and making deviled eggs.

I was in my happy place.

And, by the by, isn't brunch just the most divine thing ever? 

Especially when accompanied by strawberry mimosas.

I turned out dough and rolled the rolls.  I layered the quiche pans.  I ate way too much.  I watched my babies finding treasures in the backyard egg hunt.  I laughed with my in laws.

I was doing a pretty damn good job of not thinking about where I was a year ago, standing in my father's driveway watching the kids hunting for eggs with him.

Then, through a series of unfortunate events, I was reminded again of how different things are now.

Of how different they will forever be.

I'm in a really bad mood now.

I'll not tell you why. 

It's just better that way.

Let's just say the reason isn't what it should be or what most would think it is.

Thankfully no one else wanted mimosas today.

I'll be funny tomorrow. 

Promise.

30 Days of Music - Day 8

Day 8 - What is a song that you know all the words to?

This is also a hard one to answer because there are way too many of them to count.

I think that I have an entire section of my brain devoted just to the memorization of song lyrics.  It's a little obnoxious, to be honest.  I remember all the words to songs that I haven't even heard in over twenty years.  I'm not as bad as one of my friends, though, she has songs completely memorized within only a few times of hearing them.

If only there was a way to truly harness the brain's memory power through music.

I suppose that for entertainment value, I should tell you a song that I know all the words to, but that you might not expect me to.  Like Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. 

Or a song where it is challenging to remember everything.  Like We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.  Now, that is a lot of lyrics.

Only because another dear friend of mine is expecting me to come out with my deep love of gangster rap at some point during this challenge, I will profess my complete knowledge of this song.  Both the clean and unedited versions.  ;)

This is only one of the songs by this artist that I know all the words to.  This one came out when I was in college, loving every second of living in downtown LA.  I miss Tupac.  He truly was gifted.  And Dre is just a genius.

California Love, Tupac feat. Dr. Dre

Saturday, April 23, 2011

When you have boys...

You learn a lot. 

Sometimes they sleep with capes on.

Sometimes they eat dirt.

Sometimes they seem to be pre-programmed with sound effects.

Sometimes they jump off the kitchen table.

Sometimes they bring you a ziploc bag full of pee.

Sometimes they take unattended electronic devices apart.

Sometimes they color their big sister yellow.

Sometimes they point at strangers and yell things like "COWBOY!".

Sometimes they randomly bust out roundhouse kicks.

Sometimes they run at full speed away from you in a crowded place.

Sometimes they run at full speed to give you a hug.

Sometimes they run at full speed into walls.

Sometimes they pick you a handful of dandelions.

Sometimes they shove rocks in their pockets.

Sometimes they jump in a mud puddle just because it's there.

Sometimes they wrap the kitchen sprayer with rubber bands.

Sometimes they remember to change their underwear.

Sometimes they lie about having brushed their teeth.

Sometimes they make you coffee and destroy the kitchen in the process.

Sometimes they drive you crazy.

Sometimes they make you proud.

Sometimes they make you want to go back in time and hit fast forward all at once.

Sometimes they leave things for you to find.

Sometimes they are handmade cards.

Sometimes they are unflushed toilets.

Sometimes they are action figures, dangling from your candle holders.


I'm glad I get to have boys. 

Though I could do without any more bags of pee.

30 Days of Music - Day 7

Day 7 - What is a song that reminds you of a certain event?

I could go so many different ways with this one, but I mentioned the topic to the kids and Ashley immediately started singing the Star Spangled Banner

That's not the song I picked, but it reminded me of this one.

This particular song is a part of a family tradition from my childhood.  It was always the last one played during the fireworks show at the 4th of July celebration the city put on. 

And for every year that I can remember seeing it, it made me cry.

I say it was always the last one because they used the same tape every year.  The tape that skipped and was a little warped and tired by the last time we saw the show.  You could predict the order the songs were in like clockwork.  When the finale was.  And this was always it.

When I was a little girl, my parents would pack up sandwiches and drinks and a bag full of snacks which we would inevitably eat all of then beg for cotton candy.   We'd wait in line for hours carrying blankets and lawn chairs, sometimes in triple digit heat.  We'd race for a prime spot on the grass, even though every year someone would come squeeze in front of us.  There we would sit for hours, waiting.

We never did sit on the bleachers and get a good view of the dancers and other daytime entertainment.  For many years, I'd suspect the reason was that you had to pay to sit on the bleachers.  They were uncomfortable too, and the thought of sitting in them for hours never was appealing. We didn't care about seeing whatever was on the stage anyway. We were there for the good stuff.  The skydivers that would drop from the sky just before sunset.  Remember the year that one of them landed in the crowd?

We'd always run into a whole bunch of people we knew.  For many years, there was a group of several families that went just about everywhere together, and this event was no exception.  Back then, I didn't just have one mom, one dad and one brother.  I had a much bigger extended, crazy fun family. 

When I met and starting dating the teenage boy who would one day become my husband, we brought him with us to the show.  I fell in love with him on the field that night, huddled together staring up at the sky. 

And this was the song that was playing.

God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood

Friday, April 22, 2011

12 Ounces of Sweet Redemption

Before you read any further, please realize a few things right from the get-go.

1.  I am writing humor, people.  Find it or don't bother reading past here.
2.  I am a self-professed hypocritical Catholic who doesn't buy into any one religion's claim to superiority.
3.  The above mentioned person is not going to church this weekend.
4.  For the above mentioned reason.
5.  May I not be struck by lightning for what I am about to write....

I got a text message from a friend today.  Ironically she was at the grocery store at the same time I was.  She, however, was in the market for goodies for the upcoming holiday.  Chocolate bunnies and jelly beans and the other components of the Easter morning breakfast of champions.

She found something that I found interesting (not to mention laugh-out-loud funny).

I always find a bit of humor in the people who get all bent out of shape at every holiday, accusing society of stripping the meaning from it.  The anti-Santa Claus and anti-Bunny people. 

Never mind the fact that these holidays coincide with other celebrations, which just happen to fall the same time as the religious holiday. 

Are the holidays commercialized?  Absolutely.  Many people use the commercialization as evidence of the misguided focus of the holiday.  Sure, people like candy and presents.  Kids especially tend to focus on those aspects.  But it's not just the elves and bunnies that are mass produced.  It's not just the secular stuff.   

The religious elements of the holiday are up for sale too.

It's a multi-million dollar industry.

Oh wait, I forgot.  It's holy.

Right.

This is what my friend found today.



Now, I'm no theological scholar, but I can promise you that this isn't what Jesus had in mind when he died and was resurrected to save us.  (And by "us", I of course only mean the true Christian believers....everyone else isn't included.  Wink, wink.)

This is far more offensive and inappropriate in my opinion than any chocolate bunny.  I struggle to see how that has any more to do with the meaning of the holiday than other candy.

Plus it is really, really funny. 

Seriously.  Who decided this was a good idea?

Hey, candy makers....stick with the bunnies.  Please.  No commingling of the religious and secular elements is necessary here. 

I don't need a chocolate Jesus in my Easter basket. 

It confuses the Peeps.

30 Days of Music - Day 6

Day 6 - What is a song that reminds you of somewhere?

It's not so much about any one specific song, this answer.  More so, it's about the artist.

From the second I hear the first beat of any of his songs, I am immediately taken to a place near where I used to call home.  A place that I always hoped to live one day.  Somewhere that I didn't spend nearly enough time when I had the chance. 

A place of youth.  Of fun.  Of relaxation.

Easy going, surrounded by beauty.

Somewhere that I could walk for hours, somewhere that I could sit and look out all day.  Somewhere that you can people watch endlessly. 

The sand, the sun, the pounding of the surf.  The feel of the boardwalk beneath your feet, the wind generated by the bikes and rollerbladers speeding past.  The sounds of the roller coaster in the background, a sky filled with kites dancing in the breeze.

Mission Beach. 

I miss San Diego.  Bob Marley takes me back there though, even if only in my mind.

Every time I hear anything by this man, I long for the days of 91X's mandatory Marley. 

Every day would be more awesome with a little Marley.

Bob Marley, Get Up, Stand Up

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hoarders - How exactly does that happen?

I felt pretty terrible last week for a few days, did a decent amount of couch anchoring as a result.  Which is weird for me. 

I'm not a sitter.  I'm not much of a TV watcher.  Just in general.  And chances are if the TV is on, it's on iCarly

It seems like it's always on iCarly.

I feel like I know the kids on that show.

Anyway, I actually got to hold the remote for small increments of time, and I got to watch other things.  For whatever reason, I started watching Hoarders.

Wow.

I know there are people in this world who live that way.  I've known a few of them.  The time that it truly freaked me out was about 7 years ago now.  My doula partner and I had gone to the home of a client and her husband.  We were there to meet with them for their last pre-natal visit, and it was the first time we'd met at their house.

OMG

I was a little bit terrified that they were going to bring a baby into that house.  There were pathways throughout the entire visible living space.  Piles and piles and piles, almost all papers and books.

It wasn't unsanitary, there was no trash laying around, the kitchen appeared usable.  But it was certainly the messiest place I'd ever been in. 

We couldn't ignore it, since there wasn't even anywhere to sit.  We didn't want to ignore it.  We felt like we couldn't.

So we didn't.  Both of us looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking.  Then we asked what they planned to do with the baby.

They both looked at us completely clueless, as if they had no idea what we were talking about.  They were oblivious to the fact that most people don't live that way. 

I guess that is how it happens.  Denial, willed or otherwise, of the fact that it's not normal to live like that. 

One pile gets too big and turns into two.  So on and so forth.  Until your shower is filled with paper towels and your kitchen has boxes of books in it. 

It's not the kind of thing that can happen overnight.

Tom asked me at least once why I was watching the show.  I have to admit that it was making me uncomfortable.  I hate the idea of people living that way, especially people who subject their children to it. 

But it was a good lesson.  A reminder to stay ahead of the chaos. 

I made the kids watch a little bit of it, and they quickly realized why I make them purge their rooms of stuff occasionally. 

One thing I did notice about the people on the show was that they all seemed to be using the material things to fill some emotional void in their lives.  They all found a way to rationalize their behavior. 

In some cases, they were willing to sacrifice their relationships for their compulsion. 

And I guess if you can't see the damage you are doing to other people, nothing will fix it.

I think that was the saddest thing about the show, that so many of them were completely unaware of the real problems, blind to the consequences and unwilling to do anything about it.

It's tragic that we live in a society with so much excess that people can literally become buried and isolated in it. 

30 Days of Music - Day 5

Day 5 - What is a song that reminds you of someone?

I can't honestly tell you why I chose this one.  I can't.  But when I started thinking about doing this challenge this particular song and particular person popped into my head almost immediately.  And made me laugh.

Took me back to college days, on the weekends I would drive for hours to San Diego to visit my boyfriend/turned husband.  His apartment, one that he shared with a couple of his best friends.  The ones that I sat with and watched the last episode of Seinfeld with in the apartment with the most eclectic combination of plaid furniture ever.  Oh, the stories I could tell about those days.

Seriously.  The contest?  C'mon, you guys know you remember that one.

Anyway, this song reminds me of his male roommate....who I will not name here to protect his identity.  (sort of....I mean, plenty of people are going to be able to figure this one out, including his wife!)

His roommate (the one I'm not naming, but who many will know anyway) had a penchant for karaoke.  Dude liked to dance and sing, often very loud. 

I can't think of a few songs without immediately thinking about him for that reason.  Leaving on a jet plane? Do you know how many times I heard that one?  Far fewer than Tom did, I can assure you.

That isn't even the song that comes to mind though, it's this one.

He performed a striptease to this one.  More than once. 

Holy lord it was funny.

Sorry for outing you, dude who will not be named.  I know your wife is going to want to see it now, if she hasn't already.  ;)

Just imagine us cheering for him, instead of the crowd cheering for Mickey.

Disney, Fantasmic

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 4

Day 4 - What is a song that makes you sad?

Only about a million of them do these days. 

Just have to pick one?  I'm going to go with this one, because it was always the song running through my head more than any other in the last year and a half. 

The song that always makes me think about my Dad.

The one that describes so beautifully the relationship that parents and children should ideally have, recognizing that that time is precious but oh so fleeting. 

Jim Croce was a true and rare artist.  He wrote this song when his wife was pregnant, for the son he never saw grow up.    Croce was tragically killed in a plane crash when his little boy was still a baby.

He died weeks after this video was made.

Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle

Damn you, Hallmark

I went to the store a few days ago to get some things for my little girl's birthday.  I picked up some sparkly new clothes, a bottle of nail polish that is the perfect shade of pinkish purple and a tube of lip gloss with for ages 6+ written on the back. 

You know, because she is 6 now and there aren't many new things that come with turning that age.  She sensed that becoming a year older just had to come with some new freedoms.  Wearing this particular brand of lip gloss falls into that category, and seemed to satisfy her birthday expectations.

Me = winning.

After I'd gathered up some goodies for her, I walked past the card aisle.  Found something cute for her, then turned the corner to the Easter card section. 

I wanted to get Mom a card since we won't see her this Sunday.

She's not getting a card.

I tried.  Really, I did. 

I stood there, rows and rows of cards before me.  I looked and looked and looked.  I know that there were cards there for every conceivable relationship, and there certainly were cards for Mom and Grandma too. 

I couldn't see them. 

All I saw were cards for Mom & Dad.  Grandma & Grandpa

Grief has this habit of sneaking up behind you when you least expect it.  Lurking in the shadows, waiting to hit you where it counts when you have no idea it's coming.  I told a friend that I now know what it must feel like for guys to get kicked in the nuts. Because this is as close as I can imagine it feels. 

I stood there for too long, silent and unable to move.  I couldn't will my feet to walk.  It took everything in me to hold back the tears. 

At the same time, I couldn't rifle through the cards to find one that wasn't for him. 

I couldn't.

Mom, you aren't getting a card this year. 

I tried. 

4/20

Yeah, it's 4/20. 

For those of you who are adequately sheltered, particularly those of you who live far away from pot-loving college campuses, it's practically a national holiday.

Well, if national holidays were underground movements to legalize drugs, anyway.

4/20 is a big deal around here.  Living in Boulder County, there are more than a few pot heads locally.  There are medical marijuana dispensaries all over the place.  "Colored glass" shops next to used book stores. 

Boulder and the surrounding areas are crawling with old hippies, some which you can tell have been smoking pretty much constantly for decades.  It's also full of college students, and contains a campus notorious for it's involvement in the movement.

The police are never really sure what to do about 4/20 it seems.  They can't very well arrest thousands of people at once.  The punishment for carrying less than 2 ounces here is a ticket only, and hardly worth the effort.  The smart pot smoker doesn't generally carry more than that anyway.

Last year the police used a new technique to hand out citations.  They walked around the field that afternoon taking pictures.  Then posted them to an online site, asking for people to rat out their friends.  Some actually did it.  Which is a total buzz kill.  Right?

I've confessed here before that I've never smoked pot.  That's still true.  I've been around it plenty, but never actually smoked. 

I'm a generally law abiding person, but I struggle with why this has been criminalized. No one has even died of an overdose, ever.   The vast majority of people that do use it can do so safely, without incident. 

Instead of realizing that marijuana is safer than the very legal alcohol and cigarettes, though, our society chose to criminalize it.  All that did was create a black market. 

Marijuana has been around thousands of years, and has been part of ritual ceremonies for just as long. 

It also has very valid medical benefits, especially for people with chronic illnesses.  I can tell you first hand that I've seen what it can do for a cancer patient. 

Pot helped in so many ways.  In addition to dramatically increasing his appetite, it calmed his nausea and gave him motivation to laugh.  I'll never forget the day of the cheese show, Dad laughing hysterically at the television.  God created man, man created cheese.

He needed to keep laughing, and he needed to keep eating.  It helped do both.

And, GASP, I've actually talked to my kids about it.  They knew that he had special medicine to smoke that helped him eat.  More than one of them asked what his pipe was for.  I'm not the kind of parent (or daughter for that matter), who hides the truth. 

I'll never fully understand why the powers that be in this country are so determined to turn a blind eye to the benefits of this drug.  Why it hasn't been turned into a "real" FDA regulated medication.  Hmmm....maybe because it works???  That would make too much sense.

Anyway, whether you are smoking one to make a statement for the rights of medical marijuana users, whether you are lighting up to help alleviate your own ailments, whether you are an old hippie or a college student standing on a football field, may you get through the day without being hauled off to jail or ratted out by your friends online. 

Happy 4/20.  Light em up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 3

Day 3 - What is a song that makes you happy?

There are a lot of songs that fall into this category, and many of them are songs from way back in the day.  The ones that you don't get to hear all that often anymore. 

The one that I'm thinking of right now takes me back to a time when I didn't have much to worry about.  When hopping in my boyfriend's Jeep to head out to the beach was a perfectly legitimate way to spend an entire day.  (Don't worry, I married that boyfriend a few years later.)

It's a relaxing song that just makes you want to grab a cold drink and dance.  Instantly transports you to a party mindset.

So what if it's a little okay a lot on the cheesy side?  I happened to enjoy D.J Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, before Will Smith got all famous and responsible and changed his name back. 

And I've seen every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  At least twice.

Besides, you totally missed the point of some of the best TV of the 90's if you can't do the Carlton.

D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Summertime

And for your viewing pleasure:  the Carlton...

The Fallacy of Parental Censorship

My two year old was running around the house singing 104 days, 104 days, 104 days last night.

I guess we watch a lot of Phineas and Ferb around here. 

We do, but it's okay with me.  It's a cute animated show, Perry the Platypus is the funniest cartoon character currently, and it doesn't drive me insane. 

There was a post on one of the sites I follow about children's shows.  Well, more correctly, it was a generalized post on television shows, asking for input from women about what they let their kids watch.  Which turned almost instantly into a bash-fest.  

Women.  Sheesh.

All the shows these women forbid their kids from watching, all the reasons why.   The shows like Glee that normalize homosexuality (that actually very normal thing that it is), the shows like Phineas and Ferb that undermine parental authority, the shows like Spongebob that are just plain strange.  People found reasons to forbid just about everything, even down to preschool cartoons. 

I guess I shouldn't tell them that I let my kids watch just about everything.  Except Law & Order and those kind of shows.  Kids don't need to be watching forensic investigations and shows about sex crimes. 

We do pre-screen some movies we aren't sure about before we let them watch them, but we let them watch almost anything at the end of the day.

I'm just not a censoring type of parent.  Sure there are shows I'm not the biggest fan of, and I steer the kids towards something else whenever possible.  I hated Caillou - that kid is just a brat.  And Max and Ruby?  Where are their parents?  Olivia is also a brat and mean to her younger brothers.  

I don't love tween programming, mostly because I don't like the fact that my kids are rapidly approaching that age.  It's not the fault of the show.  Kids are always naturally intrigued by stories about people just a few years older than they are.  I mean, honestly, how many of us moms read the Sweet Valley High books when we were actually in high school?  None of us, we were done with them years before that. 

It's not a new phenomenon. 

Difference being, parents are crazy now.  Can you hear the thump thump thump of the helicopters outside?  They have to micromanage every aspect of their kids lives, sheltering and protecting them from every questionable influence.  Put them in a bubble. 

Here's the thing though: it is a fallacy.  Kids today are growing up even faster than we ever did, and pretending that isn't happening by forbidding things isn't addressing the real issue.  Often the same parents squirming when their 10 year old watches anything rated above PG are the same ones getting their kids cell phones at the same age.  Totally inconsistent.

It's a false sense of protection.

As for me, I'd rather sit and watch the shows with them then pretend that they've never seen them before.  Talk about the issues raised, let them ask questions.  I want them to know that I know what they are seeing, what they are interested in, what they want to learn about. 

Censorship doesn't work.  At least not nearly as well as actual parenting does.

Monday, April 18, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 2

Day 2 - What is your least favorite song?

I've been thinking about this one all day, trying to come up with a song to answer this one.  It's hard to find one that I really don't like enough to label it my least favorite.  Something that grates on my nerves enough to earn top billing.

There are a few contenders, that's for sure. 

Most songs by Miley Cyrus fall into that category.

Then there is that terrible Friday song.  Don't even get me started on all the reasons it's bad.  Shudder.

The one I've chosen hails from a whole different decade though, recorded before Miley and Rebecca Black were probably even born. 

It's the ultimate cheesy narcissistic theme song.  And who else could proclaim their awesomeness to the entire universe in such a manner than the rumored-to-be-crack-addicted wifey of Bobby B?  Whitney, girl....what happened? 

This song, it does have a good message and all I suppose....but it's just so far over the top that I can't take it seriously.  Really, this one is a winner.

Whitney Houston, The Greatest Love of All

Ashley, on Ashley

All my kids are unique creatures in this world, each with their own distinct personalities.  They have their own likes and dislikes, their own set of skills.  They are all good at something different than the rest. 

One of them, though, wow.

She's unlike anything or anyone else. 

Ashley. 

The kid who spent over an hour giggling yesterday while trying to score goals on her Dad while they were playing soccer in the living room.  By the way, this is why I am the bad cop.  I would never let them do that. 

She often refers to herself in the third person, usually when she is telling me about her day at school. 

The conversation goes something like this:

Me:  How was your day?

Ashley:  Ashley had a good day at school.

Me: What did you learn?

Ashley:  Ashley is learning about matter.  Ashley thinks that jello is a semi-solid.

It always cracks me up when she starts talking like that.  I can honestly say that I have no idea where she even came up with the idea to do it, but it happens with enough regularity that everyone else is aware of the days when she's just going to refer to herself in the third person all day. 

When she was younger, she used to climb up in my lap and tell me random things like Mommy, I love you more than a Frenchman. 

Last week, out of nowhere, she came up with this gem while she was perched on her chair at dinner:

Pigs are delicious. 

She's a unique one, that's for sure.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 1

Here we go again....another 30 day challenge.  This one seems like it might be simpler on the surface since it's just asking for a song on each day.  You know me though, I'm not content to just answer many questions with simple answers. 

I'm probably going to tell you why each song was picked, because that's just how I am.  Sometimes I might not though, so try not to hold it against me. 

I did do myself the favor of reading through the whole challenge first, just to make sure there wasn't anything that would be too hard to answer.  There are a few that will suck, but I'll get through it.

Here we go again.

Day 1:  Your favorite song.

This one is easy.  The first time I heard this song, I was a twelve year old girl watching a movie, completely falling in love with the idea of one day falling in love.  I wanted nothing more than to find a guy who would stand in my front yard and hold his boom box over his head blaring this song. 

Us girls and our love of grand gestures...never really goes away.

Many songs have since tried to compete with this one for the top of the list, but this is the one I always come back to.  The one that never ever gets skipped over when it's encountered on the radio, that I turn up the volume and sing my heart out to. 

Peter Gabriel, In Your Eyes

Behind the words

When I left for California, I had a lot of people ask me why I was going already.  He had just been put on hospice the day before, and we had no idea how long the final decline would take. 

I just had to be there. 

I knew all along that I'd have to be there at the end.  Not just that I wanted to be, but that he would need me there. 

I knew that once he was put on hospice, it wouldn't be nearly as long as most people thought. 

And I knew that most people couldn't see why.

He'd seem okay for as long as he could manage.  And he was.  His passing came as a shock even to the people who knew how sick he was.

Even living as far away from him for as long as I did, he and I had a special relationship.  He confided in me a lot.  He knew that I could handle the things he told me.  He knew that I was the one that could stomach being in the room with him when he asked the hospice physician what it was going to feel like to die.

After I'd been there over a week and he was still getting up every morning, he started to sense that I missed being home.  That I'd come too early.  One day we were talking and he told me how glad he was that I'd come.  Then he told me to seriously think about going home.  My babies needed me, he said.

I told him that I knew that, but they had some amazing fill-ins.  And as much as they needed me, he needed me too.

I told him that when he was done needing me, I would go home.  I was in it for the long haul.

A nod, a hug and a few tears.

An understanding.

About a week later, Ashley called crying on the phone.  She missed me and she was sad.  She knew on some level why I was gone and what was happening and wasn't sure how to process it all without her mom.  My heart broke.  I knew I'd underestimated my ability to handle being away from them for so long. 

That night after I'd gotten off the phone with her, I was out talking to Dad again.  He tried to make all kinds of convincing arguments for why I needed to go home.  He tried to tell me that he didn't need me anymore.  That it would be okay.  They would call if they needed me. 

His words made these arguments, but his heart didn't.  I could see it in his eyes. 

He had the clearest piercing blue eyes, and they were always better at telling the truth than any other part of him. 

He was gone two days later. 

Even in his last days, he was teaching me lessons.  He was still trying so hard to be the parent and put the needs of his child first.  He didn't want me sacrificing anything for him. 

He reminded me how important it is to listen to the person, not just what they are saying. 

Words can disguise our real feelings, and if you don't pay attention you'll never see the truth.

I miss you Dad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Strawberries & Promises

When my in-laws arrived back here a few weeks ago, they brought gifts from their travels like they always do.  The bag full of assorted random things for the kids.  The obligatory beer glass for my husband.  For me, they brought something they knew I would appreciate more than any trinket.

They brought me strawberries and avocados from home.

The best in the world
I grew up in a place where I was privileged to eat the most amazing strawberries in the entire world.  And no, that's not an exaggeration.  These aren't anything like the berries that you get other places.

They are plump and delicious, they never need to be slathered in sugar.  They are almost always perfect, and you can eat a whole basket in a heartbeat.

They grow in the coastal valleys just over the hill from my childhood home, protected from the brutal sun by a thick and generous marine layer, cooled by the ocean breeze.

They are deserving of the festivals in their honor, they are worth picking yourself to get them at the freshest possible. 

They are amazing. 

Even with as amazing as they are, I made a point to avoid them at times.  As much as I would have loved to have a strawberry filled cake at my outdoor wedding reception, I didn't.  I never ordered a strawberry cake for anything.  It wasn't even an option.

Dad was allergic.

For as much as we all loved strawberries, he couldn't touch them.  I never did see it with my own eyes, but he would swear that if he accidentally ate one, he'd soon resemble a strawberry.   Red and swollen.

His allergy had consequences.  He had to avoid all the ice cream parlors that mix the toppings in, for fear of contamination.  This was a sacrifice, because if ever there was a man who loved ice cream, it was him. 

When I put the kids through allergy testing last year, I made sure that the doctor added the food panel just in case.  You know, family history.  Just to be safe. 

That last part there, that is what started the conversation I had with Dad when I got there in January.  He was always concerned about the kids allergies and asthma, especially since he'd always struggled with them both.  He hated that the kids got it at least in part from me, and that I got it from him.  The curse of genetics. 

We were talking about what the kids had to go through for the allergy testing, first the pricks, then the needles.  The waiting and the reactions. 

None of them reacted to the food allergens, though. 

He told me he was glad, then he chuckled a little. 

He fessed up right away after that, told me that one of these days, I'd have to apologize to the kids for him. 

Truth is, he's never been allergic to strawberries at all.  He just didn't like them, and he figured if he told people he was allergic no one would ever try to feed them to him.

After he'd divulged his secret and we had a good laugh about it, he made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone for as long as he was around. 

I didn't.

But I'm telling it now. 

I think the guy was a genius.

In a funk

I'm taking the day off from writing. 

And from society.

I'm going to hole up in my house and curl up in a ball.

I'm convinced that I must have swallowed an alien in my sleep or something else very wrong.

Haven't felt this sick in a long time....and this time it wasn't even self-imposed.

Hoping tomorrow is better.

It looks like a beautiful day out there.  I'm gonna have to take your word for it.

Ugh.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Through My Lens

I did something I haven't done in a long time today, something I've been meaning to do for a while now. 

I took out my camera and played.

Man it felt good.

Every so often I have these visions of photography projects that I want to tackle.  Things I fully intend to one day get around to doing.  This project today is a gift for someone I love very much, even if I tease him incessantly.

My brother in law. 

He's a firefighter.  Down, ladies.  Seriously.  What is it about a guy in a uniform?  I don't know, but there is something inherently appealing in a man that could carry my ass out of a burning building. 

He's cute too, but he already knows that. 

Anyway, back to the story.  The one that I can safely write here because I know for a fact that he never ever reads anything I write, so I'm not ruining the surprise.

He is a firefighter, and a huge fan of black and white photography.  So, a while back, I got this idea in my head that I would take pictures of the elements of his job in an artsy way, then give them to him.  Initially the plan was to choose one image and turn it into a professional gallery wrapped canvas, but I figured I'd go with prints first to see if he liked the idea.

I don't know why I suddenly decided that today was the day I was finally going to do it, but I did.  Even in the wind....which my asthma is now punishing me for.

Here are the end results.  I hope you enjoy them, and I hope he loves them.

As for me, I just loved standing behind the camera again. 

Hydrant all alone in a field

Bay doors of a station

Fire escape of a downtown building

The original fire station here in town.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All My Children and One Life to Live - My Father's Intertwined Legacy

Strange title for a post, right? 

I suppose I have some explaining to do right from the start here. 

You see, my Dad loved the soaps.  Only the ones that air on ABC.  He'd watched them for as long as I can remember, and then even longer before that.

He worked alone almost all the time, but he couldn't stand silence.  He had a television at work, but never had more than the most basic channels.  For decades that meant that he had little to choose from in the middle of the day. When I was a kid, every major network aired at least 2 hours of soaps.

There wasn't anything else to watch. 

At some point he settled on the ABC shows.

It was always normal to me that he watched them so religiously, and he used to catch a lot of flak for it from people who didn't understand what it must be like to sit in silence by yourself all day.

Throughout my life I'd pop in and out of watching the shows.  I'd see an episode here and there, but never was an avid every day watcher.  If I had a question about who had married who, or why that person was back when they'd been killed off months ago, or who the mystery teenager was (inevitably the kid that was a baby the last time I'd watched), he would know.  He always knew.

All the receptionists and hygienists in the dentist's offices used to give him a hard time about watching the soaps, but they'd often find themselves asking him for updates about the shows too.  It was an unusual topic of discussion that he always was willing to talk endlessly about. 

Plus it just made him unique.  Not many guys are fans of those shows.

This afternoon, my brother told me he'd just heard that these two shows were canceled.  Llanview and Pine Valley will be gone soon, taking all their drama with them.  Replaced by reality shows, the kind of programming change that Dad hated.  Even with the cheesy story lines and occasionally horrible acting, he liked the fact that the stories were fictional.  That you could get drawn into the imagined world they lived in. 

He hated reality shows.  He watched TV to escape reality, not see more of it.

I guess it's only fitting that these two shows, which served for so many years as his daytime companion, are taking their final bows.  I find it ironic that it's so soon after he left us. 

It's because there weren't many people left like him.  Real fans.  Not enough, anyway.  The fans weren't there anymore to keep up the ratings and justify the shows in the eyes of the network.  Which is a shame. 

When these shows go dark, they'll be closing a chapter on my personal history too.

Insert silent dramatic pause.

Fade to black.

Roll credits.

Nail Polish & Pants - Gender Inequality

In case you've not heard, J.Crew is now in the business of promoting gender confusion. 

Or so say a few people who are getting a lot of press about their opinions.

In their latest catalog mailed out to customers, there is a picture of an employee painting her young son's nails pink.

Oh, the horror.

You can read the story here.

If it had been a picture of a male employee playing football with his daughters, no one would have their panties in a wad.

The reason is a simple one, really.  Rampant double standards.

Women fought (and rightfully so) for the right to be anything and everything they want.  Women can be political leaders, captains of industry, soldiers and astronauts.

We can even wear pants.

In fact, I would bet you that there are several pages of women wearing pants in that catalog.

Thing is, as much as women have pushed for equality, we've shoved men into tiny little boxes.  We want them to be strong and manly (even if we now require them to change diapers and understand our needs).  And strong and manly men don't wear pink nail polish.

At least not according to the critics.

They say that this picture is doing a disservice to the child, sending the wrong message about gender identity.  Some even go so far as to say it encourages experimentation with cross gender issues.

Now, I don't know about you all, but I've known more than a few transgendered individuals in my life.  None of them decided to up and change teams because their mom painted their toenails.   Same thing goes with my homosexual friends.  Nothing about their identity had anything to do with nail polish.

Seriously. 

How ridiculous are we getting in this country?


I will fully admit to having painted the toenails of all of my children, boys included.  Aidan's favorite color in general is pink, though he always preferred to have green toenails (they looked "grosser" that way according to him).  Yes, I said it.  My son likes pink.  So there.

I don't have much chance or occasion to ever paint AJ's though, since most of his fancying up is done by his older sister.  She also routinely dresses him up like a princess.

I guess I should sit Ally down and inform her that she may be confusing her two year old brother about his sexual identity, right? 

Um, no.

AJ prefers yellow, for the record.

Lots of men wear nail polish, always have.  This isn't a new trend, I assure you.  Rock stars have done it for decades, even the ones who aren't pushing the limits of their sexuality.  Plenty of movie stars do it too.  Not to mention all the other guys, the "normal" ones.

Back in the day, my grandfather was a towering man.  Over 6 feet tall, burly and strong, a business owner, father of two.  And every other week, he got a manicure.

I guess these critics would have thought there was something really wrong with him too. 

Whatever. 

If us ladies can wear pants, the boys can paint their nails. 

It has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.  Get over it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Triceratops and Wolverine

Living with a two year old boy is interesting, to say the least.  I never quite know what the day will hold for him or for me. 

One day he's blowing kisses to me, running up to me with puckered lips and hanging on to my leg for the entire time he's awake.

The next, he's wiping off my kisses, laughing and running away from me.

Occasionally he slows down enough for me to take a picture
Yesterday, for whatever reason, he was a walking disaster.  He usually isn't terribly accident prone, which is shocking given his dare-devil natures.  He really can jump off the kitchen table and be okay.  He can leap from the fifth stair up and stick the landing.  He can do flips and fight the other kids with light sabers. 

He's kind of amazing, actually.

And when he does heal, it's like living with Wolverine.  Instantaneous fixing. 

Whoa, I need to slow down on the superhero, comic book and video game references here....people might start to suspect I AM really that big of a dork.

Anyway, he was off his game yesterday. 

He was tripping and falling, running into everything.  Days like that are a little terrifying for me as a mother because he doesn't slow down at all.  Most people would at some point realize they were getting hurt and ease up.  Nope, not him.  He gets up, dusts himself off, and plows into the next piece of furniture or antagonizes the next sibling.

In the span of two hours yesterday, he hit his forehead three times.  THREE.

Hard enough each time to stop him in his tracks for a minute or two of crying.  For those of you who know the child well, he is not a crier.  So you know if he is crying, it hurts pretty dang bad. 

Three times.

Tom got home from work and wanted to know what happened to AJ.  He resembled a triceratops.

I should have taken a picture last night though....he's already half healed.

One of these days, I just know he's going to get angry and bust out some daggers from his hands.

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