Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Times Like These

The thing about grief is that it tends to hit you out of nowhere sometimes.  When you least expect it.

I can be going along through my day, then wham.  There it is.

Sometimes I can see it coming along down the track a little ways. Other times, there is no warning.

I expect some days to be tougher.  I expect some days to miss him.  I know that there will be times when the void he left will be so glaringly obvious that I won't be able to avoid it at all.  Some days I know he will be on my mind constantly.

In a strange way, I have learned to embrace those days.  It's not something that will make sense to those of you who haven't lost a parent yet, but I can assure you that those of you who have will understand.

In this chaotic and busy life I lead, I actually savor those moments where I have to catch my breath for a while, where I'm brought to my knees, where I have to take the time to just miss him.  Most of the time, I'm too busy to have time to think about him, really think about him.

Then again, he would want it that way.  As I still find myself reminding my daughters, he wouldn't want us to be sad.  He wouldn't want us to cry.  He wouldn't want us to mourn him.  He would want them, us really, to be happy and full of life.  To remember the good times, to savor the lessons taught, to go on.

And go on we do.

Then a song will come on the radio, or a heart shaped cloud will appear in the sky, or I'll see an old Camaro driving through town, or someone who reminds me of him will come into my presence for a moment.  Without warning.

It happened this week.

My youngest daughter, Allyson, brought home her paper version of herself last week.


I've always looked forward to second grade because of the Flat Stanley project.  The kids make a paper version of themselves, then set it free to tour the world, one mailbox at a time.  Aidan's sat on tanks in Iraq and did ninja tricks with the Power Rangers.  Ashley's went on Splash Mountain at Disneyland and took a road trip.  Both of them went to Hawaii.

I can't for the life of me remember right now where Flat Aidan went with Grandpa, but I know he went somewhere.  Flat Ashley spent a lot of time at the oncologist's office.  She went to chemo with Grandpa.  She walked on his favorite beach with him.  She met his doctors and nurses.

Flat Ally will never go anywhere with Grandpa.

I realized that as I was laminating her paper people a few nights ago.

I fought back the tears as we talked about all the places she will get to travel.  The amazing adventures that await her.  She's headed to Hawaii and Qatar and the top of the Sears Tower.  Oh, the places she will go.

But she'll never go anywhere with him again.  Not in paper form, and not in real life.

My heart aches for my children, for my niece and my nephew.

I miss you, Dad.

We all do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off...Thursday?

I lack the discipline to stay on task.  Obviously.  This is supposed to be a Tuesday theme, not a Thursday one...but whatevs.

I wrote about my son's fascination with boobs this week instead, and no one seemed to notice the regular post was missing because they were laughing too damned hard.

So, here we are a few days past where I'm supposed to be.  Playing catch up.

Here's a list of things driving me just to edge of insanity right now.

Cheaters and the people who defend them

There have been a few news stories in the last week that people are all kinds of fired up about.  That people automatically believe or disbelieve based on nothing more than an emotional reaction.  Then they fight with other people, with no real idea whether they are on the right side of the argument or not.

A prime example?  Lance Armstrong.

For years and years I wanted to believe that he was worthy of the pedestal people put him on.  I did.  Not just because of his racing, but more because of the fact that he fought and beat the same type of cancer my husband had. I rooted for him on the road enough, but I rooted for him and his wife in their attempts to get pregnant more, because I knew that exact struggle more than most people.

Then the doping allegations started, and he denied them of course.  He always denied them.  But he was too good.  Like Mark McGwire shattering a long standing record by a mile too good.  Sometimes there are witch hunts, and sometimes they just can't pin the crime on the perpetrator.

Then he left his wife and kids to date rock stars and I lost respect for the guy even more.  By then, he'd created the Livestrong foundation and done immeasurable good for the world of cancer, but it got harder and harder to look past his ego.

In the last week, he said he'd stop fighting the charges levied against him.  Stripped of his titles, people immediately came rushing to his defense.  Is he guilty?  I can't say.  I sure wouldn't assert his innocence, though, like some people have done.  Let's put it this way....when someone has been accused of something for well over a decade and vigorously asserted their innocence the whole time, then all of a sudden throws up their hands and stops fighting...there is a reason.  And there is a reason here.

Hypocrites

I simply cannot stand people who preach and preach and preach to others about how to live their lives, about what is and is not acceptable behavior, what things you should never ever say, what words you should never use...then turn around and display the exact same behaviors they preach against.

I can't stand it even more when they encourage this behavior in their children.  The children they use as a reason to preach to others in the first place.

Assholes who don't watch where they are going

In front of the only driveway to my oldest son's school yesterday, there was a head on collision between two drivers.  One on her phone, the other one making a left turn without paying attention. In front of a school.  Full of kids.

In that exact moment, I was immensely grateful for the underground walkway the boys take to school, relieved that they aren't put in the path of idiots like those two.

Slow down, watch for kids, hang up the phone, put your makeup on before you leave the house, the thing you dropped on the floor can wait, STOP texting.  My babies are out there.

Insomnia

I have too damn much to do during the day as it is.  Trying to do it all while still recovering from pneumonia, dealing with angry lady part problems and a house full of kids who clearly haven't adjusted to early morning wake up calls is hard enough.  Trying to do it on a few hours of interrupted sleep is rough.  Really rough.

It's no huge shock that I have a short fuse lately.  I'm amazed I haven't hopped off the edge into the deep end yet.  If I've been more bitchy than normal, my apologies.

Over committing

This one is my fault, mostly.  Story of my life.  Yes, I will help you.  Yes, I will do this.  Yes, I will host this.  Yes, I will organize this.  Yes, I will lead this group.  Yes, I will coach this soccer team.  The coaching thing is my husband's fault, but I think I'm going to love it.  They are 3 and 4, so I don't have to worry about actually teaching strategy or anything, mostly I just have to keep them focused for twenty minute increments.

Herd the cats.

That, and I need to go shopping.  It's hard to be believable as a coach wearing flip flops and a denim skirt.  I need something sporty.  I'm not sporty.  I don't own sporty.  I am not sure I can pull off sporty.

One thing is certain, though.

Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

I've got a team of little kids to chase.

Wish me luck.  Wish us all luck.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I will not enjoy being a girl

It's a damn good thing that men don't have to endure periods and cramps and cracked nipples and childbirth.

The world would be full of one-child households because you can bet your ass they wouldn't go though that more than once.  With time, the survival of the human race would be in jeopardy.

I know my husband would have had voluntarily had a hysterectomy shortly after puberty if he had to bleed every month.

Though I'm glad to be female most of the time, and shockingly really and truly did enjoy being pregnant and nursing, there are times that I'd like to throw in the towel.

Hang it up.

Pick up a Y chromosome at the store.

Right now is one of them, if you couldn't tell.

In truth and fairness, though, my issue isn't so much with my very pissed off anatomy.   Don't get me wrong, I'm mad at my body, and I'm pretty sure it is furious with me.  We aren't getting along well right now.

My issue is with birth control pills.  With the lack of better options.  With the hell we have to put ourselves through just to try and avoid becoming those people with 20 kids and counting.

It shouldn't be like this.  If there is technology to map the human genome, to create targeted cancer therapies, to perform surgery on unborn fetuses, then why can't someone invent better birth control???

The pill, my most current nemesis, is really pissing me off right about now.

My doctor switched me to this one a while back, having me skip the placebo pills to avoid having a period at all since I am anemic.  Which worked GREAT for a few months.

Until I got sick and feverish and started hallucinating and forgot to take my pill for one day.  One flipping day.

My body has been pissed ever since.

It's like all the periods I skipped were waiting to torture me.  I'm on day 13 at this point, with no real good options to get it to stop.  One makes me bleed more, the other loads my system with even more fake hormones.  No guarantees that either will work.

Freaking hormones.

No, I will not enjoy being a girl.

Not at all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's a fine line

My youngest son has this super annoying habit.

Strike that.

He has more than a few super annoying habits.  The latest of which is screaming bloody murder anytime someone walks into his room.  Good times to be had here.  Good times.

He started his last year of preschool today.  I can say that with certainty because he's so completely going to kindergarten next year.  I don't care if he's the youngest in the class.  I don't care if he's the smallest in the class.  

He.is.going.

It's bittersweet, this relationship I have with this boy.

He's my last, my baby.  He spends half his time insisting he is old enough to do x, y and z.  Trying to convince everyone what a big boy he is.  And, in a lot of ways he is.  Then he carries his mink (blankie) around and curls up in my lap whenever he's tired.  

He wants me to feed him when he's bored at the dinner table.  He wants to sleep with me whenever he wake up scared in the middle of the night.  Then he wants to fly across the monkey bars and run as fast as he can in the opposite direction from wherever I'm going.

The kid is a walking contradiction.  

But he's my contradiction, and I let him get away with a lot because he's the baby.  More than I should probably.

Back to his annoying habit, which is the point of my writing this in the first place.  He likes to blow raspberries on me.  A lot.  He's done it so much and for so long that he's pretty much perfected the art of giving raspberries.

I'm his favorite target.  For obvious reasons.  I'm squishy and a whole lot less hairy than his father.

He blows, he giggles.  Repeat like a hundred times.

He knows where the sweet spots are, where he can get the noise the loudest, where he can make the most obnoxious sounds.  His personal favorite???

My chest.  

My, ahem, ample chest.

There's a fine line between blowing raspberries and motor boating, buddy.

A fine line.

Bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Wiser

The older I get, the more I believe all those sayings about how wisdom comes with time.

How we are the sum of our experiences, and that the lessons life teaches us shape who we eventually become.

Or maybe I'm just getting old and I want to believe that there has to be something redeeming about it.

Get off my lawn.

I spent about a half hour talking shop with a really old farmer over the weekend.  One of the perks of living pretty close to the sticks is that we have things like gigantic tractor shows.

My oldest son was intrigued by the guy, and the longer I stood there I was too.  Then again, I have this thing for adorable little old men.  Always have.

One adopted me when I was pregnant and taking water aerobics classes.  True story.  Over the 8 weeks, we got to know each other.  He'd look out for me, and we'd go have lunch at a little coffee shop once in a while.  He was in the same profession as my father, which meant that we could talk about things that the vast majority of the population wouldn't have any reason to, like why denture cream shouldn't be necessary.

See, I told you that the majority of the population wouldn't care about that, probably including you.

I think he was just glad to share the pool with a female under the age of 70.

Anyway, I stood under a shade canopy last weekend with a really old farmer for a good long while.   Banjos playing in the background, cloggers and square dancers dancing away, I listened.  Just listened.

If there is one thing that I've learned about people it's that most older men just want to talk and share their stories.  They want someone to listen.  Someone to care.  Someone who can disregard the fact that they repeat themselves a lot.

I love it.

We can learn so much from those who've been around a while.

There is just something different about that generation, different than my generation.  Fundamentally.

They had to think outside the box, they had to be creative, they invented.  They knew the meaning of hard work...actual hard, physical work.  They used their hands.  They saw problems and just came up with solutions instead of copping out, saying it was too hard, too big, too complex.

This guy, who'd been told by his teachers that he wasn't smart enough, designed and built all his own haystackers.  With 2x4's and some brackets, rope and a horse, he figured out how to move massive bales of hay.  He and his brother, who he spent 40 years farming with, built their own houses.

Though there was nothing about this man that reminded me of my grandfather in any physical way, he made me think long and hard about the fact that my grandfather, as was the case with many of his co-workers, had no formal schooling in engineering.  No bachelor's degrees, no master's degrees, no doctorates.  And yet, they built the rockets and space shuttles.  They put a man on the moon.

They didn't have years of schooling to teach them how to solve these problems.  They just figured it out.

We live in a world now that attributes far too much to pieces of paper.  To formalities.  To the idea that if you sit in a classroom long enough you master the subject.   It's a fallacy.

All the education in the world won't help you find a vein in a patient's arm.  Won't teach you how to sell a car or a house or a company.   Won't teach you compassion for those who need it.  Won't give you the raw edge to forcefully advocate for a client in court.   It won't.  It might help, but it's not everything.

This man, and everything his generation stands for and stood for, should be a lesson to us all.

We can learn from their struggles and triumphs.  I'm always a little in awe of how they figured out how to build things like dams and bridges and aircraft carriers without the technology we possess today.  We need to steal a little from prior generations.

A piece of paper will never substitute for hard work and ingenuity.

We could use a little of both these days.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First World Problems

I need coffee.

Every single day.

A few years ago, my son made some coffee.  He thought he was helping.  He tried.  Really, he did.

What ended up happening was nothing short of a magnificent mess, with coffee grounds and water and quasi-percolated coffee everywhere.  The counter, the floor, the side of the fridge.  Everything electrical in the maker shorted out, and it died a quick and ugly death.

I didn't get any coffee that morning, which was the real tragedy.

Fortunately, my brother in law had a spare coffee maker.  Hey guys, you can just have this one.  I don't use this anymore and you need one.  Isn't that great, he said?

Riding in like a caffeine induced superhero, he dropped it off the next day.  There was a theme song and everything.

It looks nice enough, right?
That was a few years ago now.

His coffeemaker still sits on my counter, getting used every day.

I figured out why he was so willing to pass it off to us, though, within the first day.  Why he was so eager to get rid of it.  The real reason he didn't use it.

It sucks.

There is no possible way to pour anything out of the carafe without spilling half of it.  My husband scolds me, that if I would just be more careful.  If I would just pour it nice and slow.  If I just had more patience...then I wouldn't be cleaning the counter every morning.

Who the fuck has patience to pour their coffee slowly and diligently?  Especially in the morning, before they have had their coffee?

Certainly not me.

I spill every day.  Every.freaking.day.  I mutter under my breath at this thing more often than I do at my children.

First world problems.  What are yours?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

While I'm not writing about what I want to...

Have you ever been tooting along merrily in your life, thinking that things were going pretty good, only to be blindsided by something that has the potential to be life alteringly bad?

Yeah?

Me too.

I know someone going through this exact thing right now, and I wish that there was something I could do to make it all better.  That there was a way to insulate the people I love from the shitty realities of the world.

I really, really, really want to write about all that is going on, but I won't.  I can't.  And even if I could, I wouldn't because I have this thing about circling wagons and grabbing pitchforks and getting really defensive when I have to.

It will all make sense in a few months, I promise.

Suffice to say that people aren't always what they seem, and the bigger they are, the harder they fall.  When they fall, they drag some other people down with them, kicking and screaming against their will.

And that fucking sucks.

Anyway....as I'm trying to deflect the shitstorm that is about to rain down, life is still trucking along.  Because that's how it works.  Your world may stop spinning when shit happens, but the rest of the world still goes on blissfully unaware.

And in that blissfully unaware world, there are things like street fairs to amuse me.

Even though I completely am not well enough to go to something like a street fair, this particular one happens exactly once a year, and I wasn't about to miss it.  Because that's how I roll.

So off we went.

Directly to the beer garden, of course.

C'mon.  You should know this about me.

After we were sufficiently liquored up, we joined the rest of our herd in line for the rock wall.  In front of my favorite bar.  A few people behind us, a friend I've been meaning to do some drinking with for a while now.  A glance, a finger pointing, a desperate phantom beer drinking motion.  An understanding.  Yet we did the good parental thing and stood in line for the rock wall instead of ditching the kids for some beverages.

I should get a medal.

The excruciatingly long wait was totally worth it, by the way, considering one of my children never even got off the ground.  At all.  Feet never left the concrete.  There was lots of flailing and well-meaning attempts at climbing, but there was no actual climbing going on.

That takes a special kind of skill.

After my kids failed miserably at climbing, we ate then tried to get in line for the bungee jumping thing-a-ma-gig.  I say tried, because for the second year in a row, the line got cut off right before we got there.

Insert gigantic fit throwing tantrum by seven year old.  

And scene.

We went to the barrel train ride instead, which is just as awesome as the three story high bungee jumping thing-a-ma-gig.  Really.   Wink, wink.  Especially for the nine year old of mine who elbowed her way to the front of the line.  Get out of my way, 4 year old brother, I'm riding this damn train, she said.

It's a free-for-all.  You'd think that by now, they would have figured out that isn't the best approach with kids and parents desperate to be entertained, but no.  No line.  No order.  Just chaos.  Ashley's elbows help.

Then we got to watch some mediocre street performers.  The chick on the flying silks mostly just paraded around in her underwear to slutty music.  Something my 11 year old son really enjoyed, by the way.

Then the fire people came out.  It's all fun and games until someone trips and falls off their scooter while holding a giant flaming pole.

Who doesn't love a street fair?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Release the Kraken

I've been sick for now for almost two weeks.  The husband injured for a bit longer.

Out of commission.

Which can only mean one thing in a house full of six people.

Shit ain't getting done.

The kids are taking full advantage of it, of course. I've asked them to help more than usual because of my complete inability to do anything.  Aidan is supposed to do the dishes and the girls are supposed to do the laundry.

What I imagine that looks like, and what I found a few nights ago after the kids went to bed, are vastly different.

Aidan got into the habit of restarting the dishwasher whenever he didn't want to empty it.  The dishes of six people for god only knows how long, stacked precariously on the counter.  In the sink.  On the tables.  You get where I'm going with this.

The girls washed and dried the clothes well enough.  Then rolled them up in balls and threw them into random baskets.  No folding, no sorting.  IF something was hung up, it was done in such a manner that I'm not even sure how they got it to stay on the hanger.  Defying the laws of gravity and shit.  That bad.

The entire floor was covered with stuff.  Dirty clothes, clothes that were probably clean before they landed back on the floor, dishes that didn't fit on counters anymore, freaking cheese papers.  The trash was overflowing, spilling out all over the kitchen floor.

Keep in mind my husband is on crutches or his scooter.  He at least needs a path.

I surveyed the damage.  I have a line.  This was over the line.

I harnessed every last ounce of energy I had and yelled up the stairs in my sick and raspy scary mommy voice (which  I imagine to sound like Kathleen Turner, but probably sounds more like a pubescent boy).

10:30pm on a school night, and I dragged all their asses out of bed.

Yes I did.

Release the Kraken. Unleash hell.  All that.

There was yelling, at least until I launched into a coughing fit.  There was snapping and pointing.  I am pretty sure I flailed at some point.  Basically, I freaked the fuck out.

Do it right the first time so you don't have to do it twice.

You're going to fix this.

I don't care if you're tired at school tomorrow.

Don't be lazy!

All I'm asking for is a little, tiny bit of help, seriously!

My husband was worried I was going to turn on him next.

In the eyes of my children, terror.

Mom has full on lost her shit, guys....we'd better listen or we might not survive to morning.

They survived.  Somehow, as if a magical cleaning fairy has come, the laundry is now getting folded and the dishes are actually getting washed.


Amazing how that works.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The post I've been trying to avoid writing about Boy Scouts

I really don't want to write this one.  I don't.

I'm a hypocrite.

I disagree 100% with the policy decisions that BSA has made about homosexuals, transsexuals, atheists, and more.  I cringe every time I see another story in the news about an ousted leader, or about all the Eagle Scouts turning in their badges.  I hate that this organization just reaffirmed their exclusion of LGBT individuals, and I hate more that they claim the reason for reaffirmation is that the parents wanted it.



I hate all these things even more because I am a part of it.

My son is a Boy Scout.  My husband is an Assistant Scout Master.  My brother in law is an Eagle Scout.  I have been a fundraising chair.  I'm probably about to offer help as a merit badge counselor.  I've been the parent of a Scout for six years.

My son absolutely loves being a Boy Scout.  Loves it.

He's not my athletic child, and in Scouts he found what he wanted. He loves to camp, he loves to learn new skills, he loves the fellowship with the kids.  He led the flag ceremony for the first time a few weeks ago, and just this week earned 4 merit badges and his Tenderfoot.  His goal is to make Eagle.

Boy Scouts is the place where kids learn so many things that they wouldn't learn anywhere else in this day and age.  Survival skills, first aid, how to shoot a rifle, tomahawk throwing, canoeing, horsemanship.  He's built boats and cars and rockets and catapults.  He can make a fire, he can right a swamped canoe, he can read a star chart, he can change the oil in a car.

At 11, I'm not sure how much of that he would have learned anywhere else.

I keep hoping and hoping that the leadership at the top of the organization will realize they are on the wrong side of this issue and change.  That they will admit they were wrong, that they will apologize to those they have hurt, and that they will take an inclusionary stance instead of one that shoves anyone that doesn't fit inside their tiny little box out.

I keep hoping.

I find myself correcting those who misunderstand the relationship between the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  Essentially, there isn't one at all.  The two organizations have nothing to do with one another at all.  Girl Scouts has taken the complete polar opposite stance of BSA, with a fully inclusionary approach.  All girls are welcome, all leaders are welcome.  We all sit around the fire and sing kumbaya.  With cookies.

Boy Scouts is like that too (without the cookies), but only for those people they choose to embrace.  This policy that they hold so firm on, claiming it is at the behest of the parents isn't really.  No one has ever asked my opinions on homosexual leadership.  This policy has far more to do with the fact that the Boy Scouts are heavily dictated to at the national level by the two largest troop sponsoring organizations: the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church.

Which brings me to my hypocrisy.  I stand against this policy with my whole heart, and yet allow and encourage my son's participation.

I rationalize it in my own head like this.  The culture of any one specific Boy Scout Troop is determined by two things primarily:  1) the leaders of that Troop and 2) the sponsoring organization.  The national leadership really has very little to do with the day to day operation of the Troop.

Aidan spent years in a Cub Scout pack with some uber liberal parents and leaders.  The Troop he is in now is graciously sponsored by the First United Congregational Church of Christ, one the few in town that welcomes LGBT people with open arms.  We, as parents, talk about LGBT issues with our children.  Aidan has friends who have two moms, and to him there is nothing strange, odd or weird about that.  There are just two moms.  End of discussion.

Children aren't the ones who have issues with homosexuality, the adults are.  A person's ability to teach a child how to rock climb, light a fire or tie a knot has nothing to do with who they love.  Nothing at all.

I know many, many families that have pulled their sons from scouting because of this issue.  I know many that struggle with it like we do.  The reality is that BSA has seen fewer and fewer boys join and stay in scouting every year.  This organization is rapidly becoming just another antiquated old fashioned, behind the times, hold-out.  They are losing their relevance.  They are reaching fewer and fewer children who could legitimately benefit from their programs.

They shouldn't.  Scouting is important.  It provides a place to learn so many things that children often don't have access to anywhere else.  And yet, their narrow mindedness shrinks the numbers every year.

I will keep allowing my son to participate in scouting, just as I will continue to put the choice to stay in his hands.  I will continue to educate him about fairness and equality and standing up for what we believe in.  And I will keep feeling conflicted about it.

I have signed many of the petitions urging reinstatement of leaders and a reversal of this policy on Change.org.  I urge you to do the same.  The links to the BSA ones can be found here.  

Boy Scouts of America, I will not hesitate to pull my son if any of this trickles down to his Troop.  I've taught him to be loving and tolerant of all people, and I refuse to let you teach him otherwise.

Please don't make me pull him.

Do the right thing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

50 Shades of Grey - A review

It's my first time.

I can't say that without pretending to be one of those tarts in the Girls Gone Wild videos.  If a girl says it's my first time while flashing her tits to a middle aged, sweaty cameraman, I'm gonna guess she's fibbing.

But that's just me.

It is my first time writing a book review though, that's the truth.  I guess I've never felt so compelled to pick something apart before.

Or maybe I'm going stir crazy being holed up in this house with my pneumonia and injured husband and read way too much into the book.

Either way.


I have to confess that I knew that the book was of a, ahem, sexual nature before I read it.

You know what this means.

I had high expectations.  HIGH.

Suffice to say, those expectations weren't met.

I got blue balled.

If you haven't read the book yet and you want to, you might want to skip the rest of this post.  That is, unless you want to laugh your ass off.  Then, you should definitely keep reading.  Besides which, I'm not really spoiling much.  Mostly because there's not much to spoil.

The wild success of this book has been brought to you by Kindles, Nooks and e-readers of all varieties.  Without the inconspicuousness, the secretiveness, the fact that you can be reading erotica and no one around you know that, I can promise this book would never have become a best seller.  If you had to carry around an actual book that screams to the world I'm reading smut!!!, most women would be a little more hesitant to parade Christian and his naughtiness around poolsides, parks and school parking lots.

I was talking to a friend about this book last night.  She hasn't read it yet, but she's read just about every other book ever written in the history of time.  I was telling her that I think the book is confused.  It's not sure what genre it is supposed to be in. It's a poorly written Harlequin romance book cleverly disguised as a real novel.  Amazing what cover art can do.

If it's supposed to be a real novel, it's sorely lacking in plot and character development.  You never really learn anything about any of the characters - just get to read the same mediocre sex scene over and over and over.    If it's supposed to be smut, it's not good enough.

If Ana is supposed to be in her early 20's and a virgin, there is a reason.  Women don't get to their 20's without having sex unless there is a reason.  Period.  And women with a reason don't jump into the world of S&M for their first time.  Make her a girl who had some wild escapades in college and I might buy it.  But a virgin?  Nope.  That right there made me think that maybe a man actually wrote the book.

If it's supposed to be a book about racy sexual escapades, bondage, dominance and s&m, it is a dismal failure.  If you've ever watched that scene in Eyes Wide Shut, you've seen more than this book offers in it's entirety.  If you haven't seen Eyes Wide Shut, go.  I'll be here when you get back.

If you want to get a bunch of middle aged, married moms fired up about sex, you've got to do more than this.  If you write about an entire room dedicated to bondage, it had damn well better be put to good use.  I'm not the most adventurous person in the world, but I was bored.

I may not be dangling from the ceiling covered in feathers, but dammit someone should be.

Entertain me.

If you want to turn on women and make them want to keep reading, you can't have the devastatingly handsome man beat the shit out of the girl just to get his rocks off.  Sorry, there's nothing sexy about that.  Spanking, sure.  I can get behind a good spanking just as much as the next person.  But, beating?  Hell no.

If you want to sell the idea of having sex while on your period, he cannot just do a reach around and take out her tampon.  Oh my god.  There is no touching of the tampon!!!!!   WTF?   Just, just, W.T.F.?

If you want to keep my interest, you cannot honestly expect your readers to believe that this completely sexually inexperienced woman can be brought to orgasm within seconds.  That's just fucking ridiculous. Fiction can be fun!

I don't need the same exact description of him opening the condom every.single.time.  I get it.  The foil ripped.  I read that already, just like 3 pages ago.  And then before that.  You're using protection.  Yay for that. For reals though, this is boring.  The member is sheathed.  Again.

I don't honestly think the word penis is in the book at all.  Or if it is, I stopped paying attention.  No vaginas either.  What the hell?  This is supposed to be an entire book dedicated to sex, and not a single term for either of the tingly parts?  Call them what they are.  It's a penis.  A dick.  A cock.  Something.  We KNOW what it is.  You can use the words.  Really.  This isn't a 5th grade health class.  I'm reading this book because it's about sex.  I'm prepared for an occasional naughty word.  Honest.

As if the lack of proper penis mention isn't enough, she can't come up with anything to call her vajayjay than my sex. I literally laughed every single time she talked about her sex.  Come on.  We are adults here.  Call it something!!!  Hell, secret garden would be better than my sex.

This book was a vast disappointment for so many reasons.  I kept waiting for some variety in the sex scenes.  I kept waiting for some character development.  Nope.  I've heard the later books in the series do both, but I'm just not sure I've got the motivation to keep going.  I need more stimulation.

This book is just a toned down, unexciting version of the romance novels we've been taught to be ashamed to read.  Ladies, take my advice.  Pick up one of those Harlequin books and forget Mr. Grey.

Unless Bradley Cooper gets cast as Christian in the movie.

Then you can bet your sweet ass I'll be watching.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Legitimate?

I have been debating writing about my love/hate (mostly hate lately) relationship with the Boy Scouts, and was planning to suck it up and do it today, but then yesterday happened.

A Congressman bestowed upon my laptop keyboard the gift of procrastination.

I have to talk about what he said, because it has to be talked about.

It has to be addressed.

It has to be viewed as a part of what is fundamentally wrong with the way decisions about health care are made in this country.

It has to be exposed for what it is.  Ignorance.


Todd Akin, a Republican Congressman from Missouri who is running for the Senate seat, just made a complete ass out of himself.

In an interview, he said the following:


First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario—when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail—abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.
"Let's assume that maybe that didn't work, or something," Akin said. "I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."


Almost immediately, he tried to amend his statement though he's firm on his point.  And almost immediately, the Romney/Ryan campaign publicly stated they were not of the same opinions as the gentleman from Missouri.  If the Mormon/Catholic ticket is jumping ship on an abortion issue, you know you've screwed something up pretty significantly.

There are so many things wrong with this statement that I don't even know where to begin.

First, who the hell gets to decide what is and is not "legitimate" rape?  Is there a series of secret cameras to film all non-consensual sexual acts where someone gets to be judge and jury and determine whether that particular rape was legit?  If a woman (or man, or child for that matter) is forced against their will to engage in a sexual act, IT IS RAPE.  No discussion necessary.

I don't care if someone is wearing a short skirt.  I don't care if they went on a date.  I don't care if he bought her a few drinks or a $100 lobster dinner.  I don't care if they are even married.  Rape is rape.  To suggest otherwise is a blatant insult to any past, present or future victim.

I know women who have been raped.  I know men too.  I know women who became pregnant through rape.  I once found myself pinned down by someone who wanted to do the same to me.  How dare this man act as though there are rapes which are legitimate and those that are not?

Mr. Akin, with all due respect, I'm assuming that you've never been victimized.  You have never been forced into a dark corner and violated.  You do not have a right to an opinion on this issue.  Shut your mouth.

Second, there is absolutely no proof that a woman's body has protective mechanisms that kick in during rape to protect against pregnancy.  We don't have voodoo vaginas.  There isn't a gatekeeper in my uterus that opens the door only to sperm with an invitation.  I lack the ability to shoot laser beams out of my hooha at intruders.  I have a hard time with those who actually believe in magic instead of science.

I have no clue where these men gets these asinine ideas.  Sadly, Akin isn't alone here.  Rep. Friend said something quite similar back in March.  What is shocking and appalling is that these men are elected officials.  People actually voted for leaders this ignorant and uneducated.  People will continue to vote for them.

Over 30,000 women become pregnant every year as the result of rape.  I guess their lasers must have misfired.  Either that, or they weren't legitimately raped.  They must have wanted it.  Obviously.

Third, your statement about punishing the rapist and not the child ignores the victim here - the woman!  You know, the one who was raped.  The one who is now pregnant completely against her will, with a child fathered by a violent sexual predator.

For now, I'll ignore the fact that mental illnesses and such that lead to the development of rapists can indeed be the result of genetics.  Genetics that you would willingly pass down to these babies.

Mr. Akin, let's pretend your daughter is legitimately raped and finds herself pregnant.  (I don't even know if he has a daughter, this is purely to play devil's advocate).  You'd honestly force your own daughter to go through an entire pregnancy for this?  To be a captive for nine months, reminded daily of the violation of her body?  Then, you'd expect her to either raise this child born of hate and violence or give it up for adoption to a willing family who has no idea that their new child's father may have passed down his violent sexual predatory tendencies to that baby?

Extend the logic on this, and it doesn't get better.  You are willingly punishing the victim here even more, taking away her right to do as she wishes with her body just as the rapist did.  You are victimizing her.

In this day and age, I am occasionally rendered speechless by the idiocy of others.  Yesterday was literally one of those times when I watched and I questioned, did he really just say that???

Yes, he did.

Men like this must be forced from office.  For the sake of the victims, for the sake of all women, for the sake of their own daughters who might someday find themselves one of the 30,000.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Almost there

I have this thing for Fall.  The last couple days have been a preview of what is coming.  Cool, crisp mornings.  Bright blue skies.  Breezes and bold colors.  The tops of the trees here have started to make the most subtle changes.  It's coming.

I'm not kidding myself.  I know that there are still more than a few days in the forecast expected to be in the 90's.  I know that it will still be hot for a while.  

Those hot days this week will just make me all the more grateful for the change when it comes. 

We've been watching pre-season football, pretending it's as good as the real thing, knowing that it's not.  Soon my Saturdays will involve games saved on the DVR and deliberate attempts to avoid anyone who knows the outcome.  There will be guacamole and homemade chicken wings.  Oh yes, there will be.  

I want to wear sweaters and boots.  I want to invent new soup recipes.  I want the smell of pumpkin to infiltrate my kitchen.  I want to clutch coffee cups on dewy soccer fields.  I want to make hot cocoa for the kids when they come in from playing, cheeks red and fingers chilled.

I want to take pictures.  Oh, the pictures.  Fall is the time of year when I just carry my good camera with me wherever I go.  You never know when you'll see something amazing.


Halloween is just on the horizon to me, though I know that to most people it's well over two months away.  We take this holiday very seriously in my house. Planning this year has been complicated by injury, and we'll have to come up with some adaptations.  Against my better judgment, I think we are just buying costumes this year.  Sometimes you have to hit the easy button, and I'm doing it this time around.  

Let's just say the theme this year is an ironic one given the current state of affairs.  No hints.  I'm pretty sure that I'll never top the last few years anyway, given how high the bar has been set.  

2009 - The Wizard of Oz

2010 - Toy Story

2011- Alice in Wonderland
I've got to start working on this year's costumes.  Only 10 weeks left....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why moms don't get sick

I'm sick.  The sickest I can honestly say that I ever remember being in my entire life.

I'd suppose that really isn't saying a whole lot though, since I've really been lucky in that respect.  I haven't had any major illnesses personally.  I got chicken pox at the end of 6th grade, and that sucked pretty huge since it caused me to miss out on everything fun that happens at the end of the year.  I had some mystery disease when I was like 5 or 6 that probably was actually mumps since the vaccines they gave kids the year I was born didn't take.  It was ruled out of course because I was immunized.  Right.

When I was a baby, I almost died of food poisoning from a jar of Gerber baby food.   Salmonella.  It's what's for dinner.  Yum.  I don't remember that one though.

This though, this one is kicking my ass.

Part of my problem is that I did what I always do when I get sick...everything.  Moms don't get days off, moms don't get to snuggle up in bed with chicken soup and have other people take care of them.  Moms don't go to the doctor at the first sign something is wrong because there is a soccer tournament or a surgery scheduled or the first day of school.  Moms don't have time to get sick.  So they don't.

They just do everything they normally do, sick.

Usually it works out just fine.  I power through whatever it is, usually so wrapped up in taking care of someone else that I barely notice that I have it too.

Usually.

This time?  Not so much.

I hit the wall, and I hit it hard.  My body said "uncle".  If I don't take it easy, I'll be promptly thrown in the hospital for a little R&R.  So I sit.  And cough.  And sit.  And cough.

In the meantime, the kids are taking full advantage of us.  The parents are out of commission.

Tom, with his foot perpetually elevated, is still pretty hopped up on painkillers.  He can't do much, but right now he doesn't much care.

I, on the other hand, am starting to go crazy.  The house is complete mess.  Getting worse by the day.  I don't have the energy to do anything about it. I don't have the energy to pick up.  I don't have the energy to try and clean. I don't even have the energy to yell at them.  I just don't.

So it builds and builds and builds.

By the time I am finally feeling better, our house might look like the wasteland in Wall*E.  I won't just be trying to clean up, I will be managing mountains of disaster.

I've tried delegating chores to the kids.  Aidan is supposed to do the dishes.  The girls are supposed to do the laundry.  It's painful to watch.  It's taking everything in me not to follow behind them and do it right.  I can't care right now.  I'm too exhausted.

This is why moms don't get sick.

Friday, August 17, 2012

More things I learned this week

1.  Through the wonder of technology it's entirely possible to read smut while in a room full of people without letting on what you are doing. I downloaded 50 Shades of Grey to my Kindle to read during my husband's surgery.  I'm not entirely convinced that I love it yet.  I'm sure I looked like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar when the adorable little old lady volunteer asked me what I was reading.  Um....um.....it's um.....just a new book I started.  Not really into it yet.  Wiping the sweat off my brow and trying to stop my entire face from turning red.  Smut. Smut, I tell you.

2. It doesn't matter how well prepared you are, how much advance warning you get, sitting in a waiting room while your husband is in surgery never gets better.  I worry, I fidget, I'm sure I probably develop nervous ticks.

holding his ring in the waiting room
3. If you carry a Wonder Woman cup around, people will look at you funny.  Especially if you are accompanied by a very-injured guy on crutches wearing a Superman shirt.

4. Spaz dancing really is as fun as it looks, especially if you do it in a crowded bathroom.  People will look at you like you're a freak, but that's okay.  Have you seen my cup?


5. If you start drinking at 10am on a weekday, waitresses will become a lot more attentive.  That was seriously the best bloody mary I've ever had.  Ignore for now the fact that I should have never been crazy enough to be drinking it in the first place.


6. Radiologists like to play with spinny office chairs just as much as 4 year olds.

7. It's never ever a good thing when a doctor calls you right back.  I have pneumonia.  Like a rockstar.

8. Probiotic smoothies are nasty.  At least the ones I bought are.  I'm gonna power through them though.  When faced with the choice between a nasty daily drink and a raging hooha infection, I'll choose the smoothie, thank you very much.

9. Even though my kids make me crazy, I miss them something fierce when they go to school.  And I cry on the first day.  Every. Year.  I'll drink after I drop them off too.  Because that's how us moms roll.  Go away, don't leave, grow up, stay little, be independent, still need me, I need a drink.

10. I'm not ready to have a middle schooler.  But that doesn't matter.  I've got one.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Human Again

I'm standing this morning.  And.the.world.is.not.spinning.

Woo freaking hoo!

My fever broke last night, which means I woke up swimming in a puddle of sweat.  Nice visual, eh?  Note to self: wash those nasty sheets.  And throw that pillow away.  Shudder.

The surgeon's office just called, moving up my husband's surgery tomorrow, which means I have two fewer hours to get everything done that needs to be done.  It's a good thing I feel human again.


Now, to shower, do the laundry, run to the doctor's office, wait at the DMV forever, go to the pharmacy, go to the store, buy a birthday cake, get two kids haircuts and four kids shoes before back to school night at 6pm.

I can do this, right?

I will....even if it requires the use of bribery and duct tape.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Things I've learned this weekend

In no particular order.

1) My daughter is on a really awesome soccer team full of really awesome girls, being raised by some really awesome parents.  I didn't realize how much I missed the camaraderie on the sidelines.  We really are all in this together.

2) I am lucky to have a ton, and when I say a ton, I mean literally more people than I could name, of friends who understand that shit happens sometimes and that the kids always have to come first. Whoever said it takes a village to raise a child was right.  I love my village.

3) You will get the flu at the absolute worst possible time.  At least if you are me.  I already missed a game, and in the next week I have back to school night, a scheduled surgery, 2 doctor's appointments, a hospital visit to see a friend and 3 of the 4 kids going back to school.  I can't be sick right now.  I can't.  But my village stepped up already, and I know they'll be there if I need them in the coming days.  Have I mentioned that I love my village???

4) With this fever I've been running, I've had a constant cycle of hot flashes and cold sweats.  If this is any indication of what menopause is going to be like, holy shit.  My family had better start making arrangements to just be gone for a few years.  Like move the f*&! out.  I want the fan on, I want the fan off.  I'm pacing, I'm curled up shaking in a ball.  Good times, people.  Good times.  The "good" news is that I'm now stacking Motrin and Tylenol enough that I can focus for more than three seconds.  105 is a little high.

5) If you cut your finger open badly enough to need stitches, they will make it look like a penis.  With balls and everything.  Really.


My son did this camping, and the ER docs did a great job suturing.  This, though, this is hilarious.  The most creative dressing I've ever seen.  He can take it off and shower tonight, but I'm threatening to make him wear it to school if he pisses me off this week.

6) Shark Week begins tonight, just as the Olympics end.  If it wasn't for the fact that I really feel like I've been run over by a truck, I might agree with the conspiracy theory that I got sick on purpose to hold the couch down. This is some good TV, right here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Good to be Queen

At least they are listening.  That's the good news.

I'll explain this later.

The kids, that is.

I want to believe that I am raising them to be civic minded people.  That they will be tolerant of the opinions of others, that they will be open minded, that they will do their own research before just believing what others tell them.  I want them to be critical thinkers, to have a firm understanding of why our city, state and country function the way they do.

As this is an election year, and there are the never ending political commercials on TV and the daily phone calls, they are keenly aware of the pull between the parties.

I've tried my best to explain how we live in a democracy, and how any functioning democracy depends on the existence of different opinions.  More than that, though, it depends on people with those opinions to be free to express them.

I had to laugh when I overheard them talking in the back of the car last night.

Aidan said something (exactly what, I'm not sure), and Ashley piped in with her thoughts. They argued about whatever it was for a bit, then she declared to everyone in the car that this is a free country and she can think whatever she wants.  That he can't tell her what to think.

If I wasn't in the fast lane of the freeway, I would have pulled over, opened the door and hugged her right then and there.

Taking this opportunity to pat myself on the back for being the kick ass mom that I am, I confirmed what she said.  She did indeed have every right to whatever opinions she wanted.  He couldn't tell her what to think.

Then I reminded them that while this country is indeed a democracy, our family is not.

Oh no.

Hell to the no.  This is not a democracy.

This is a dictatorship.

I am the law.

We aren't friends.  We aren't equals.  There is no voting.  I'm the parent, you are the child.  There are things, lots of things, that aren't negotiable.

Then I was thinking that maybe calling our family a dictatorship seemed a little harsh.  I'm not a tyrant.  Usually.  And I do give them plenty of input on the things I deem it appropriate for.


So, really, it's more like a constitutional monarchy.

I'm the Queen, obviously.  (even if I occasionally play the role of court jester)

They are my loyal subjects.

The commoners have some say, some representation, some power....but they report to me.

It is good to be Queen.

Now, if someone could force my subjects to pick up the cheese papers....

There's nothing wrong with winning

In this house, we bleed green.

Soccer is just part of who we are.  With three playing this time around, it's bound to get interesting around here, especially since I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into the world of coaching. 

Ashley's team is playing in more and more advanced competitive leagues every year, which I honestly think puts more pressure on the parents than the kids.  The kids are still just playing a game, but the parents are pacing and holding our breath on the sidelines.


Those Proctor and Gamble mom commercials being aired during the Olympics?  Torture for moms like me.  Tearing up, snot running down my face, I feel their pain.  I know those early morning wake up calls, the driving, the sacrifices to pay for gear, the time spent just sitting for hours on end at practices. I know how much of a commitment it is for the entire family when a child falls in love with a sport.  The leaning, the flinching, the nervous energy, the not being able to watch sometimes.  The injuries.  The tears of defeat, the tears of victory.  We all know it.  We live it.


I was happy to be back in that familiar place yesterday.  On the sidelines with my lens poised, ready to capture moments of greatness.  I was excited to be back among the line of parents, the ones that have been together for years now.  This team isn't just a team, it's a family with matching uniforms.

Her coach has a system, he plays them in a mid level division in the Fall, the pushes them up to the highest in the Spring.  Consequently, they win a lot of games in the Fall, lose a lot in the Spring.  

I like Fall better.  

I know that they need to be pushed, I know that they need to lose.  I know that they need to be challenged.  I know that if they aren't, they will get cocky and complacent.  I know that they need to know what it's like to feel disappointment, to have a reason to push themselves harder.  I know all these things, objectively.  

On the field though, a W feels so much better than a L.  

Pumas, starting the season right.  1-0

Ladies, let's kick some ass.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7 days

I fully admit to being the kind of parent who finds herself reminding others not to wish away childhood.  Kids grow up so fast, we have to cherish moments.  Time is fleeting, someday we will wish for these days back.  All that jazz.

And then, by the time the dog days of summer show up, I'm counting days.

7 days until school starts.  Exactly 7 days from right this second, I will be dropping my oldest baby off for his first day of middle school.

And yeah, I am counting.

Guilty, as charged.

they.need.to.go.back.to.school.

My house is trashed.  All the time.  The kitchen is never clean, the floor is always littered with shoes and clothes and granola bar wrappers and cheese papers.


(seriously, wtf is up with the cheese papers?!?! my kids have a patent inability to throw away cheese papers.)  I gave up trying at some point, knowing that I would just get it taken care of when they aren't here.

It's just not worth the effort, though my OCD tendencies are being tested like never before.

They eat.  And eat.  And eat.  Then they eat some more.  From sunrise until bedtime, someone in this house is always hungry. I've got two solidly in pre-puberty growth spurts and I cannot keep food in the house.  I have to hide things in the pantry if there is any hope of me actually getting to eat them.  A friend of mine, commiserating about this, asked her daughter why she eats all day during the summer...especially given that she obviously can't do that during the school year.  Her daughter's response?  Because she can.

Yep, that sounds about right.

My girls either love each other or hate each other, and there is nothing in the middle.  They are doing fashion shows and make-overs one second, kicking each other in the face the next.  They poke, they pinch, they pull each other's hair, they breathe each other's air.

Oh, the horror.

They can do battle and I don't even intervene anymore unless blood is involved.  I'm not a referee, I don't own a whistle, and I look terrible in stripes. I do need to invest in earplugs though.

They are loud.  Really freaking loud.  And, like most things in a house with this many kids, everything becomes a competition.  One makes noise, another turns up the TV.  TV is loud?  Radio has to be louder.  My house is never quiet.  Ever.  A few of them even talk in their sleep.  Wish I was kidding.

I love my children, to the moon and back.  Sometimes though, I'd like to send them there.

Let's be honest.

This school year brings many changes for our family, and many of those changes are bittersweet ones.  I'm not really ready to have a middle schooler, but I'm not exactly in a place to do anything about it except deal with it.  He, on the other hand, is perfectly content in this sandwich phase of his life. Trapped between being a teenager and being my little boy, he craves responsibility and independence, but has recently started calling me Mommy all over again.

And I'm really okay with that.

He may not want to do it around his big-kid friends though, or they'll give him an endless amount of crap about it.

7 days, my friends.  7 days.

Then I can go back to cleaning and carpooling and missing my children just enough during the day to tolerate them at night.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I could use a laugh right about now

I've said frequently in the last few years that if I lost my sense of humor, I would probably go crazy.  It's the truth, and often the only thing that keeps me upright is my ability to laugh.

There are times that nothing about life seems funny at all.

Like now.

I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed lately, mostly a by-product of the fact that I was already emotionally exhausted before the latest challenges decided to show up.  Then, in the last two days, I've learned of the deaths of the fathers of two of my friends.  My heart breaks for them, for the choices they had to make, for the void that will never be filled again.  For those still in a place with choices to make.  For it all. There are few things in life more axis shifting than losing a parent.

My husband is struggling with the gravity of his injury.  We all are.  This isn't a broken bone that will heal in a few weeks and things will return to normal after a few speed bumps.  This is a major surgery, this is a long recovery.  This is a lot.  We'll get through it, we always do.  This is more than we have ever had to deal with, which is saying something given our family's extensive medical history.

I'll be trying to keep laughing, trying to find the humor in life, trying to take myself and my situations a little less seriously.  There will be days that I will not do a very good job of it, and for that I apologize in advance.

All the other times, I'll be forcing myself to laugh and dragging you all along with me.  And for that, you are welcome.

I saw this car on the way to pick my husband up yesterday.  It's a real thing, I promise. Not photo shopped at all.  An old beater of a car, it contained four grown, rather large men.  All different ages and races.  I really just wanted to flag them down, have them pull over and ask what the hell was going on.  How did you get in this car, how do you all know each other, where could you possibly be going???


And yeah, it's completely covered in doll heads.

I needed that laugh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - Steroids, Murphy and Star Trek as they apply to me

Some weeks I have to sit and ponder for a bit when it comes to this post.  Channel my inner rage about things that have happened before, or things happening far away or things that really don't affect me directly at all.

Not this week.

Asthma can kiss my ass

I currently have a sobbing little boy next to me.  Bags under his eyes, the barometer I use to tell how he's really doing.  Just like his sister.  He hasn't been sleeping well, which means I haven't either.  He was formally diagnosed with asthma yesterday since he gave the doctor no choice but to officially call it.  He's wheezing and coughing and miserable, on steroids.  Again.  Asthma is at the top of the list of things I hate having passed down to my kids.

His big sis isn't struggling as bad as he is with it currently, but she's got a big test coming up.  A soccer tournament.  Her team is smaller this time around than it's been, meaning there won't be many subs on the bench.  She's going to be out there for the entire game, and her mother is going to be a nervous wreck on the sidelines.

Murphy & his flipping law

By now, anyone who knows us in real life or has read here long enough knows that we are an exceedingly injury prone family.  We have a lot of surgeries.  We break bones.  We keep orthopedists in business.  It's kinda our thing.

When I got the text from my husband Saturday morning, I was in denial for a while.  Maybe it's not what he thinks it is.  Maybe it's not that bad.  Maybe.

I knew better.  Playing in his district finals for tennis, he'd gone to chase down a ball and heard the characteristic pop that can only mean one thing.  He'd ruptured his Achilles.  Completely.  I'm taking him to the orthopedist in a little while to schedule his surgery.

He'll be on crutches for months.

Months.

Complicating the entire situation is the fact that we just changed insurance.  We don't even have cards yet.  Four days into new coverage and someone needs surgery.  We do like to get those pesky deductibles out of the the way.

Dammit Jim, I'm a parent, not a coach

Which brings me to this.  I'm channeling Star Trek this morning.  My husband had already signed up to coach little boy's first soccer team before he got hurt. Little boy knows this.  Little boy is abundantly aware that Daddy is hurt and can't coach.  Little boy wants his mom to do it.


Which would be me.

I'm about to be a soccer coach.  Of a team of 3 year olds.  Holy shit.

I so did not sign up for this.

But, like so many things in my life, that doesn't matter.

Builds character, right???

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat, The Weirdness of the Athletes

I've confessed before my addiction to the Olympics.  I really do think I would watch basket weaving if they made it a medal sport.


One of my most favorite things about the Olympics is the coverage of the individual athletes and their stories.

The backgrounds, the pictures of them training as kids, the obstacles they have overcome, the struggles and sacrifices to get where they are.

Some of them, you want to root for immediately just because of the way they can captivate an audience.  Others make you sit on the edge of your seat and cheer only after you get to know their story.

Gabby Douglas was the best gymnast, not just from the United States, but in the world.  Regardless of the fact that she was young and relatively untested.  Regardless of the fact that she was never welcomed with open arms by her teammates in the way she should have been.  Regardless of the fact that she wasn't the captain of the team.  Regardless of the fact that others who stood next to her were the media darlings before the Games and got all the press.  Regardless of the fact that she wasn't the one to beat.

None of that mattered.  She got it done.  And every girl out there who ever fell victim to the mean girls won with her. I've been rooting for her since I saw the way she was treated at the US Team Qualifier, and now she's the gymnastics sweetheart.  Go, Gabby, Go.

Oscar Pistorius lost yesterday, coming in last in the final heat he would run in these Olympics.  He wasn't the favorite.  No one thought he would win a medal, probably including him.  He truly was one of the thousands of athletes that goes to the Olympics knowing they won't compete at the highest level, but who are honored to represent their country.  Most likely, he would have been treated like all the rest of those athletes by the media if it wasn't for the fact that he made history just by being there.

Pistorius is a double amputee, and competed against a field of able bodied, two legged men.  He was fast.  Faster than almost everyone the world, as a matter of fact.  His humility and kindness, his strength and determination, his overwhelmingly charming personality, all makes him a winner already.  He doesn't need a medal to get into the history books.  He doesn't need to win to inspire millions of people around the world.

I've been a little put off by those who actually claim he has an advantage.  I have a hard time with anyone who could actually make that argument seriously.  As the daughter of an amputee, I know more about the subject than I ever thought I would have to, and I know that the level of effort required just to walk is significant for a single amputee, let alone a double.

To Pistorius, I say this: Congratulations, and thank you.

Finally, I have to share this.  I've been a sports fan my entire life, and I've seen some pretty strange rituals carried out by athletes, but this right here takes the cake.


Leo Manzano licks his fingers and rubs saliva in many strange places.  I'm not sure what the reasoning is for this, and I looked online to see if there was a story about it.  No luck.  In the meantime, we're calling him Leo the Licker.  His eccentricities just earned him a few new fans in this house.  We like to keep things weird around here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tyranny

The aftermath of the post I wrote yesterday about Chick fil-A went far towards proving my point about how the conversations on the subject turn horribly ugly. I didn't need to engage anyone, as those who read it took their stands, hopped up on their respective soapboxes and the argument spun out of control.  The one time I pointed out scientific fact, it was immediately dismissed by those who disagree, regardless of the magnitude of that truth.  The discussion, if one can call it that, ended in personal attacks.

A social experiment, so to say, played out on my Facebook page.  I haven't deleted the entire thread, as ridiculous as it got, because it makes my point so beautifully.

That, and it's happening on a much larger scale every day in this country.

It will only get worse this year.  The Democrats have already announced that they will be adding same sex marriage to their platform for the first time.  This conversation is not going away anytime soon.  It would be nice if it could play out in civilized manner, but I don't expect that it will.

Issues as divisive as this are the type of issues that people rarely change their opinions about. The opinions of others, no matter how loud, will not sway them.  In my personal experience, those who do usually do so only as a result of having a person close to them come out.  Not everyone changes their opinions, though, even then.  Clearly.

Which is fine.  And which only serves to further reinforce my point that each and every person in this country is entitled to have those opinions, and to voice them.  Which is precisely why the Chick fil-A issue has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment.

It has to do with the 14th Amendment.  The one that guarantees due process and equal protection. That is the real core issue here, and the opinions of any one person or corporation are irrelevant.

It doesn't matter if everyone agrees.  It will never matter.  Part of living in a democracy requires debate.  Demands dissidence.  Without it, there would surely be a tyranny of the majority.  There has been a tyranny many times in the past.  I'd argue there is very much still a tyranny today when it comes to the issue of gay rights, though it's slowly changing.

There will come a day, not too far from now, when every person in this country, regardless of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation will be guaranteed the same rights under the law.


Including marriage.

To say that civil unions and other incarnations are equivalent to marriage smells an awful lot like a phrase that the majority once used before.  Separate but equal.  It's a fallacy.  There is no such thing.  The court knew that, and struck it down, even if the majority disagreed because it was the right thing to do.

The reason we have three branches of the government, the reason we have courts specifically, is to ensure that the will of the people alone cannot dictate our laws.  Just because a majority believes something should be one way or the other doesn't make it Constitutional.

Popularity means nothing in the eyes of the law.  Equality does.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What this isn't about

In the last couple weeks, I've seen some horribly ugly conversations play out on Facebook and Twitter about the Chick fil-A debacle.  

Much like how the pro-gun world turned the theater shooting immediately into a 2nd Amendment issue, the religious right has turned the Chick fil-A situation into a 1st Amendment one.

It's amazing how those who fight so vehemently against some of the rights extended to others by the Bill of Rights and later Amendments seem to run to them just as eagerly when it suits their needs.

The Chick fil-A situation is not a 1st Amendment issue, and the theater shooting is not a 2nd Amendment one.  

Let me repeat that.  

The Chick fil-A situation is not a 1st Amendment issue, and the theater shooting is not a 2nd Amendment one.

The theater shooting is, on the fringes, a jumping off point.  About the fact that we need to have a discussion about the reasonableness of accessibility of high volume weapons.  About the lack of adequate controls and screenings.  About why there aren't reporting requirements for gun club owners who turn strange applicants away.  It isn't about anyone's right to take up arms in a militia.  It isn't about anyone's right to possess weapons for personal protection or hobby.  

Ultimately, as I've written before, this tragedy is not even really about gun control.  It's about our mental health system - which knew about the threat of this perpetrator - but did nothing - was not required to do anything - could not do anything.  That issue is far larger than gun control and has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

It didn't stop a large group of people from leaping behind a sign and claiming protection from the Constitution though.  From immediately getting defensive about "my rights". 

If and when the time comes that we start having a real discussion about reasonableness in terms of accessibility to guns, I'm not convinced that those who stand behind the 2nd Amendment as an absolute will get their way.  Even Justice Scalia, a strict constuctionist if ever there was one, agrees that there are undoubtedly limits to a person's right to own weapons.  If he sees that, I highly suspect the majority of the court would as well.

The same thing has happened with Chick fil-A.  Those angered by the calls to boycott the company have stood on soapboxes proclaiming that this is a 1st Amendment issue.  I don't think that I've heard a single person say that the leaders of the company can't say what they want.  Or that the company can't make contributions to any organization they want to.  They can.  Absolutely.  

If every Chick fil-A store wanted to install signage against gay rights, they could legally do that.  The 1st Amendment says so.  No one has questioned their legal right under the Constitution to do or say anything.  This is absolutely not a 1st Amendment issue.

As has been proven time and again in this country, though, what is legal isn't necessarily right.  Or moral.  Or correct.  People often forget that women couldn't vote, that slavery was legal and that interracial marriage was against the law at one point.   

Fifty years from now, the issue of gay rights will likely have been legally resolved, just as women were given the right to vote, slavery was abolished and laws against interracial marriage were overturned.  This, at it's core, is a human rights issue. Not a freedom of speech one.  

History does not look kindly upon those who oppress others, even if their actions fit within the confines of legality at the time.

Just as the people in charge of this company have a protected right to say whatever they want, those who would visit their restaurants have a right to refuse to go there if they disagree with what the company does.

I will defend to my death that company's right to say whatever they want, to believe whatever they believe, to express that publicly.  What I will not do, however, is contribute my money to anyone that fuels hate-based organizations.  

It's my personal choice, just as it's theirs.  

I choose love.  I choose tolerance.  I choose to support my friends and family.  I choose to stand arm in arm with the LGBT community as they gear up for the biggest fight they've ever had this election season.  


I choose to boycott Chick fil-A.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

In case anyone wonders where I get it from...

Yesterday would have been my grandmother's 85th birthday.

She's been gone now for almost eleven years. Some of my last pictures of her include my son, then just a baby.  The only great grandchild she'd ever meet.

I think about her often, probably more so in the last year than in the prior ten combined.  Her lessons have taught me to be strong, to put on a happy face, to persevere, to keep going.  To go out into an unfair world where terrible things happen, with my head held high. And to do it with flair and fabulousness.

She never left the house without her lipstick, and taught me from a young age to appreciate shoes and handbags.  I come by it honestly.

She was an only child raised during the Depression.  To say that she had a lonely and solitary existence growing up would be a vast understatement.  Her father, her center.  Her mother, often her enemy.

That would never change, and she would spend most of her life coping with the fact that her mother never quite loved her or approved of her, accepted or even liked her.  She was resilient though, and knew that for a girl in the 40's, she'd have to get married to escape her life.

There weren't a whole lot of other options for someone like her, particularly given the repressive nature of her upbringing.

Her name was Dolores, but everyone called her Doll.  And she was one.  She had creamy porcelain skin and always, always, always wore red lipstick.  (though I have to assume she snuck that for most of her adolescence as her mother would never have approved) She had dark brown, almost black hair.


She was gorgeous.

Her most favorite thing in the world to do was go dancing, and it was there that she met the man she'd marry.  These are some of the pictures of their courtship, and give so much insight to who she really was.  Who she wanted to be.

Yep.  We're related.

She was so in love with this man.

A few months before they married.

These pictures also go pretty far to explain how I got to be the way that I am.

I miss you, Grandma Doll.  I'm sure you spent your birthday dancing in heaven with Pap, so I know it was a good one.  xoxo

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