Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Babytalk at AJ's

So we are sitting at AJ's, this really cool beachy restaurant, out on the water, our landlord (I love that word, "landlord," it's sooo...feudal.) told us about, which would be IDEAL if you did not have children, and could take a cab home, but alas, on a family vacation, this is not in the cards. The topics of discussion are ranging from the dance they are working on, to how much they like Mills' new hermit crabs googly eyes that are glued on the top of his painted shell, she just got, when my very pregnant neighbor comes up in conversation.  (Sorry, Erin, you're in my blog, again, but in a good way, sort of.) We all love her two year old, Noah, and we are so excited about the new baby, which is less than two weeks away, and suddenly Mills, my 7-year-old, gets that look on her face when her wheels are turning and she says, "Now, wait, Mom, (the way every sentence now begins when Hallie or Mills are conversatin' with me) now HOW do babies get born, again?"

Up until this point, because I have had three C-Sections, I have always told my children that newborns  are CUT out of you, but in this very moment, I decide to tell the truth, because of an exchange I had a few months back with my pediatrician, about how to explain your period to your children.

You see, much to my dismay, Hallie, my 9, almost 10-year-old, has developed pimples and "boob buds" and my pediatrician was telling me to expect her period and other unnerving maturation signs, and  I was mortified.  It was as if I had been punched in the stomach.  I know that I, too, am a female, and that I, too, experienced puberty, at some point, although, you would not know it to look at me now, because I have the body of a twelve-year-old boy, but to actually imagine my eldest daughter, my baby, going through all of the hormone changes and body image bullshit I have experienced, was almost more than I could bear. I immediately feel guilt about all that hormone-filled cows milk, I fed her all those years, until someone told me to buy organic, so your girls will stay children forever, but it was too late.

You see, I just cut my teeth on EVERYTHING with Hallie.  She is just so INNOCENT.  She is not immature.  She is inexperienced.  And I just love that about her.  The changes in her body are such a paradox to her personality, and that is unnerving to me. She is my first, and every milestone is an event, because it is as new to me, as it is to her.  I do not want to think about what this is doing psychologically to her, and the other two, but I would be willing to bet that Eva (my four-year-old) will be hitting the "clubs" by the time she is thirteen.

"Haven't you ever talked to them about why you have tampons or ANYTHING related to your period?"  the doctor was judging me know, I just knew it.  Next was the scribbling in the file.  I was used to this. "Well, with MY girls, I always just let it happen naturally.  If I were needing to use, you know, something for my period, and they were in the room, I just explained it to them, then and there." she continued.

"Believe it or not, as much as they are in the bathroom with me, it has never come up." I countered.

"Well, maybe the next time a sensitive subject is broached, maybe just be frank with them, and tell them in a non-threatening, literal way."

Well, whatdayaknow, the opportunity presented itself at AJ's Seafood Restaurant, on Tybee Island as we are all eating dinner and looking out at the sunset.  What could be more perfect than that?  Who needs a cramped bathroom with four people in it, to give a tutorial on the childbirth, right?

So, anyway, Mills wipes the catsup off of her mouth, with the back of her hand, and says, "No, wait, Mom, you are not understanding me! HOW DOES THE BABY GET OUT?  I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!"

"Mills, they cut it out, remember?"  Hallie chimes in.  Eva is listening now.  GREAT.

"Not all the time."  I say, hoping a dolphin will jump from the water and land on our table.

"Well, then, WHERE?"  Mills demands, "WHERE does the baby get out?  Does it come out your MOUTH or something?"  She is completely animated now, all arm gestures and rolling eyes.

"It comes out your Schwina."  I try to remain nonchalant, as I crack open a crab leg.

Brad's mouth drops open, out of the corner of my eye, and Hallie and Mills look at each other with similar facial expressions and then Eva goes, "SCHWINA!  That's funny!" and throws her head back and laughs.

"Schwina" is the medical term I have always used for their lady parts.  I spell it with an "sch" because my maiden name is "Schell" and it is always capitalized because, you know, RESPECT.  I feel this word is also appropriate because everyone's genitalia should be German.  This is not racist, it is just my way of thinking.

Mills will not give up.  "So Mrs. W's baby is going to come out her Schwina!  How will it fit?"  The interesting part, here, is that there is no giggling.  The table is relatively quiet for the subject at hand, with the exception of Mills' exaggerated gestures and her voice has gone up an octave.  Brad is silent.  I am an island.

"Okay," I say, exasperated, because I just know that everytime they look at my sweet neighbor, they are going to think of her squeezing out a baby from her Schwina, instead of answering the detailed, and thoughful questions she is always asking them about their lives. "The body is made so that when you are having a baby, your Schwina opens up wide enough to allow the baby to come out.  End of story.  Now finish your chicken fingers."  I am literally holding my breath at this point.

The waitress interrupts us, by the Grace of God, and asks if "everything is okay,"  Brad and I order two more beers.  This is gonna be a long one.

"Wait.  Mom."  Hallie says.  "One more thing...Umm, which hurts worse, when they cut you, or when your Schwina pops open?"

"Good question," I recover, without missing a beat.  I am developing a rhythm, now. "Well, they BOTH hurt, but nowadays, they give you medicine so you don't FEEL A THING. I believe that when a baby comes out naturally, the hurt is over more quickly, but I'm not sure, because I have always had C-sections, but with C-sections is hurts longer because you have surgery."  God, is this EVER going to be over?

"Well, then I want to have a baby out my Schwina," Mills concludes, as she takes a bite of her corn on the cob.

"Good luck to you on that,"  Brad finally speaks and we all giggle as the waitress mercifully delivers our beers.

I have no advice today.  Obviously, I have no effing idea what I am doing.  Oh, eat at AJ's if you go to Tybee Isand.  The crab legs suck, but the sunset is amazing.  There.  Pics at AJ's.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The girl that walks by my window

I decided to write a short story about this girl who walks by my windows in the kitchen twice a day.  Here it is.  Totally putting myself out there.  So nervous.  Oh well, you only live once, right?


Adele is so irritated right now.  She is walking past all the perfect houses, with their perfect dogs, and their perfect lawns, and their couture children, and she hates herself for the way that she is feeling, but she just can't help herself.

She is on her way to Whole Foods, which is a sorry excuse for an "organic" grocery, and she has grown to loathe the immitation Midwest hippies at the cash registers, who try too hard to encourage her to use one of their recycled bags.  She always opts for "paper" when they point to their ridiculous displays of hempware, and even THAT seems to disappoint them.  She cannot win.

The housewives with their organic groceries and natural supplements, make her want to punch them in the face, when she allows herself to notice them.  And the food, itself, turns her stomach, as she imagines what tofu would taste like.  But she continues to go there, every night, so that she might become "healthy", whatever that means.

If it means that she will stop hating everyone and everything around her, then it will have done it's job.  But, every night she finds the most unhealthy thing that the deli has prepared, be it organic, or not, and feasts until she can no longer move.  The dish usually involves locally obtained cheese or organically grown mayonnaise or something, and it is her DRUG.  She eats until she thinks she feels better, and then eats some more, to chase the high, and then finishes with one of their impossibly rich desserts that are packaged for a family.

She is miserable and she still lives at her parent's house.  She has a shitty job, surrounded by shittier people, and this pilgrimage to Whole Foods, unfortunately, is the highlight of her day.

If she does not go directly home, she goes to Mel's place, in the apartment complex across the street from her parents' house.  Mel is a divorcee, who's wife left him three years ago because "she could not take his mood swings anymore."

That is all Adele knows, and that is all she cares to know.

Mel is an okay lover, and occasionally she gets off, but more often than not, she is left to contemplate his water-stained ceiling as he snores.

She then, gets up, gets dressed, and walks back to her parents' dark, clapboard, overgrown house, that the neighbors inevitably deem "run down".  There is a shitload of yard art that was popular in the eighties, and the teenage boy who is supposed to mow once a week, is probably smoking weed somewhere, while he fondles his skinny girlfriend in her parents' basement, instead.

All of this makes the "cage-free" Asian chicken salad rise up in her throat ,when she thinks about it, so she pushes it down to that deep, dark, bottomless pit that is her subconscious.

Adele is THROUGH with Melvin, she thinks, every time she has a recovered memory of the actuality of her life, but then she takes a left turn on Guilford, when she is feeling lonely and full, and the cycle repeats itself, over and over, again.

She likes her hair, Adele thinks to herself.  It is thick and wavy, and not an ugly brown, and she takes great care to insure that it is conditioned in the summer months.  "My face is not unattractive," she says out loud, as she stares into one of her parents' foggy mirrors in the morning.  It is not foggy from her shower, it is foggy from age, and this agitates her, and she forgets her affirmations.

"At least I am not a virgin anymore," she says to her reflection in the old mirror as she slams it shut, and downs the anti-depressants the smarmy family doctor gave her when she admitted that she had had thoughts of suicide.

"Adele!" her beloved mother calls to her from inside the bedroom.  "My bedpan is full, dear, would you mind?"  The nurse won't be there for a half an hour.  Adele obediently enters her bedridden Mother's bedroom, and delicately removes her waste.

"I love you, Mom," she coos, as she kisses her on the cheek.  "I'll be home before you know it."  Her mother then loses consciousness, again, as she reaches up for her daughter's kiss.

Adele takes her deceased father's cranberry-colored, Ford Taurus downtown to the Columbus Business First building, which they recently moved into, but the hip, savvy, facade of the "urban-like" structure cannot hide the evil that is within.

She is a copywriter for the Classified department and with each successive call, she wants to off herself, over and over again, in more elaborate and imaginative ways.

The people who call her, cannot TOUCH the people she is forced to interact with each day, and that is what depresses her the most.

There is the editorial department with their self-important swagger, as they pitch increasingly mundane headlines to the assistant editor.  Then, there is the advertising department, with their gay McDonald's headseats on, as they wear business suits that will never see the light of day, unless they go out for lunch.  Finally, the circulation department people seem relatively normal, but no one has ever given Adele so much as a glance, so Fuck it.

I guess to be fair, though, it is not as if Adele gives out a friendly vibe.  She does her work and eats alone everyday at the cafeteria, facing the corner with her back to the rest of the crowd.  No one has ever approached her, and asked her if she would like company, as she is simultaneously reading some Oprah Book Club selection to insure this.  This has gone on for four years.

Her supervisor, is one of those people that LIVES for their job.  She actually BELIEVES that she is going to shoot up the ranks of American Business Journal society, based on her stellar performance as a manager, she guesses, but refuses to acknowledge that she has held the same position for 14 years - because she is a douche bag, who delivers mediocre results in a mediocre market.

Adele needs help.  She knows.  She obsesses about people who neither matter to her, nor engage her, nor offend her directly, in any way.  But still, she cannot help herself.

Adele is contemplating this as she walks, home, yet again, from the wretched Whole Foods Grocery, that she is at odds with, when several police cruisers and ambulances, she recognizes from the Upper Arlington Parade, race by her, and bring her out of her trance.

She has finally given in to the self-important, prepubescent grocers, that humiliate her daily, and is carrying home her tray of organic brownies in one of their hemp-like carrying bags that are meant to look vintage.  She is almost knocked to the curb, by the speed and purposefulness of the emergency vehicles, as they whiz by.

She has a fleeting thought that her mother has perished, and that she used her last final burst of strength to call 911.  She dismisses this immediately, not only due to the physical improbability of this, but because the relief she is suddenly flooded with, is coupled with guilt, which is then relegated to the "dark place".

The cruisers make an abrupt stop, a few blocks ahead of her, and someone is already streaming the yellow tape around "the crime scene."  Adele hesitantly approaches the crowd that has gathered around the house that she has passed a thousand times.  She is shocked and mesmerized and curious and sad, all at the same time. 

After talking with the neighbors, Adele gathers that the woman who is always out in her front yard, who waves at her, if she is not distracted by her rambuctious children, has killed herself in a violent way.

Adele decides right then and there, that she will no longer live the life she is leading and will immediately move to Arizona, which has been her lifelong dream.

Life is too short.  She decides.  And she cannot go on living the way she has, for one second longer.

Monday, June 27, 2011


OKAY.  I heard from my cousin (well, Brad's cousin's wife, but I consider them my cousins, cause they're Cool.) that the Ghost Tours in Savannah are a blast, and that "it was their kids' favorite thing about their trip to Savannah."  Thems is powerful words in my eyes.  Then she went on to tell me that her husband is a huge Civil War history buff and I lost interest because I kept imagining their young girls on these boring Trolly tours (even a horse drawn carriage can't increase the value of that Boorfest) and measuring whether or not swimming at a fancy hotel should beat a Ghost Tour, and then I decided that her bullshit was credible.

So we get all gussied up and actually shower and wash our hair and comb it, and go to The Olde Pink House for dinner in Savannah, which is this amazing old home that has been renovated into this yummy and cool restaurant, lit only by candelight and chandeliers, and is also HAUNTED.

The staff is apparently trained to take you throughout the house and we ended up in the wine cellar next to the pub downstairs. The girls and I, I mean, because Brad was convinced that we were bothering other people who were dining, even though I made our reservation for 5:00 with the three other old people in the place, when it opened, to avoid the kind of scene the Underwood family can create in such a place.

ANYWAY, we are in the wine cellar, which at one time used to be a vault when it was a bank, and there is this table in the middle, set up with wine glasses and a few bottles of wine, and I ask our girl if she ever has wine tastings in here because I am fully going to do one while my kids look on, and she's all, "we used to until someone stole a bottle of wine and then we stopped."

She then started telling us the history of the house, and of course, I mentally went somewhere else, when she used the word "General" and "Civil War" and then she said, "We actually have a picture of Mrs. Habersham.  Do  you want to see it?" She says this, as she reaches under the table and pulls out this framed photograph of this ghost-like, transparent, smoky image of a woman floating in a long dress with the bartender in the background looking straight at the camera, polishing a glass.  She explains that it was taken a few months ago in the very room we are standing in, by a coworker of the bartender after closing, and the girls and I were mesmerized.

As the girls and I were discussing this later, we thought she was going to pull out a creepy portrait of Mrs. Habersham, as the house is dripping with them, and then here SHE is, suprising us with a ghost story when we were least expecting it.  Here is a pic of us in the cellar she took.  It is my favorite picture of the trip.  I guess because I am surrounded by the things that I love the most, my babies, candles and WINE.  Look at Eva.  Classic.

So after an amazing dinner in which I got to have cheese grits and collard greens with an entire fish with it's head cut off.  We killed some time by hanging out in one of the town squares where a sax player was entertaining, and then in true Underwood fashion, we went to a bar.  In my defense, we were supposed to meet the Tour Guide for the Ghost Tour in the parking lot across the street from McDonough's, the bar, and it was 100 degrees.  Nothin' like sitting belly up to a bar with your three kids.  The bartender was really nice and gave them Reece's bits and ice waters while Brad and I drank ice cold draft beer and mingled with the locals.  I reconciled it in my mind by telling myself that families in London go to Pubs all the time, so it was cool.  Here's a few picks from the Square and the bar.

I actually have a series of shots that Mills took of herself, but it would take up the entire blog.  Anyway, the tour STARTED at 9:00 pm and was supposed to last ninety minutes (it lasted two hours) and it was a WALKING TOUR, but it was rated the BEST OF on the internet so I chose THAT one, unwisely, I suppose, considering we were the only family with small children there (they usually do the 7pm one) but I wanted it to be dark, so THERE WE WERE.  In my defense, I could have done the "Midnight Pub Crawl" which I WANTED to do, but I relented.

So all us freaky freaks gather in the parking lot across from McDonough's and the guide is actually the Founder of Blue Orb Tours, so in my mind, we had hit the jackpot.  

Our first stop was the Colonial Park Cemetary and it had gotten dark and the guide is explaining how children and animals are most perceptive when it comes to ghosts, and coincidentally, almost every ghost story he told involved a 7-year-old girl, which is the EXACT age of Mills, my middle child.  PEEERRRRFFFECT.  

At one point, she was getting really scared and clutching my hand, when the stories got really scary, and I declared, "Alright, that does it, I am giving you all Benadryl tonight."  Hallie laughed at this, because as usual, she gets me and my twisted sense of humor.

So ANYWAY, at one point the guide is explaining how the very Square that we are standing in, is an actual graveyard that they just filled people with during one of their Yellow Fever epidemics (they had TWO) and that they literally just piled slaves and immigrants who came over from other lands ON TOP of each other all over the block and beyond, before the city was built, because they could not appropriately bury them, because they were dead or dying at such an alarming rate.  
That Square, and the homes on the periphery of  that Square, were then built on top of the gravesite, which they apparently discover from time to time when they are trying to put in a meter or dig for some reason, and they discover human remains.  

Thousands of these victims were buried ALIVE, as at least half of them were, because the last stages of Yellow Fever is a "coma-like" state in which the person is still alive, but appears dead.  The guide goes on to explain that this has been evident in other gravesites throughout Savannah where coffins have been exhumed, and there were scratch and bite marks on the insides of the coffins, where the person awoke from their "coma-like" state and tried to claw their way out, until they could no longer use their hands and then proceeded to bite their way out until they suffocated and died.

This is when I decided that I probably should have taken the kids to the 7pm Tour.  No, it gets EVEN better.  He goes on to explain that according to Gullah beliefs, that if a person is "improperly buried," like say for instance, ALIVE, then his spirit becomes an angry smoke-like presence (think LOST) that inhabits the souls of unhappy people and drives them crazy by eventually invading their dreams and haunting them until they are in a constant state of "nightmare," even in their waking hours, and if you try to pray or become religious to drive it out, it gets worse.  

He continues, "They call this phenomenon a HAG, and it is believed that they can actually inhabit your soul even as we stand here, and go home with you to HAUNT you for the rest of your life."  Both my older children are literally climbing me at this point, (Eva, of course, is in the stroller looking bored and frowning) that I am looking at Brad with desperation, as he wipes his brow and returns my look, with his "I told you so" look, when my favorite thing of the night happens.

Okay, let me set this up for you.  The group (of about 25 people) are all standing in the middle of the Square, surrounded by huge gorgeous homes, in the middle of the night, and we are facing the guide, who is dressed like either a clergyman or a funeral director, I can't decide, and it is DEAD quiet after he says that, and a woman steps out of the group swinging her arms wildly, and shaking her head and she proceeds to walk behind the guide, so as to face us all too,  and pace back and forth as she lights a cig, and she yells, "OH HEYYYEEELLL NOO!  I ain't DOIN' this NO MO!"

So the best part is that he continues with the Ghost Story as she paces back and forth, swinging her one arm, now, because the other is exaggeratedly puffing on her cig.  It is both distracting and polarizing, at the same time.  Finally, Hallie, my nine-year-old, looks up at me and says to me the one pervasive question that has been in my mind for the duration of her cigarrette, since she left the group to do her routine, and says, "Is she gonna LEAVE, or what?"

SOOOOO GREAT.  I know it is inappropriate, but "OH HEYYYAAAALLL NO!" became my mantra all vacation and the Brad, the girls, and I would just double over whenever I brought it up,.  Don't worry I explained that it was a bad word to Mills when she asked, but it was "okay" because I was not the originator and it is "within the context" of a funny story, and Eva just laughs because everyone else does, so I'm cool.

To make matters even more hilarious, the next day as we are all laughing about "OH HEYALLLLL NO!"  and I am lamenting that I did not get a picture of her, as we are downloading our photos, searching for orbs, and there she is.  Hallie had inadvertently snapped a photo of her.  So great.  Pic above.

Blue Orb Tours is supposedly the BEST Ghost Tour in Savannah.  I do not have anything to compare it to, but I concur.  Check it out, if you are ever there, do the Pub Crawl, if you don't have kids, and write to me about it.  Oh Heyall no, take your kids, who am I to judge, I just taught my kids a cuss word on vacation.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Driving with my husband

Driving long distances with my husband is an effing nightmare.  Brad only stops when you threaten to pee yourself if he doesn't stop, and then, and only then will he take you to the most dilapidated, filthy gas station within fifty miles.  He has a sixth sense as to which exit to take, like he can sense when I am at Nordstoms.  (We had "the talk" after Christmas about how I have too many credit cards and that we needed to shut some of them down, and I was able to negotiate a package that included my debit card, GAP (good at Athleta and that shoe place, now), and Nordy's (which houses my skin care and make up and I am fundamentally against paying CASH for those things, so I can never figure out when he ALWAYS calls me when I am at Nordstrom, because I have taken great steps to conceal my trail with my shiny silver Nordy's credit card.  I even gave up my T.J. Maxx/Marshall's card for Nordy's which proves that I still have "champagne tastes on a beer budget," as my Dad likes to say.

Actually, after "the talk" I had an "episode" where I really needed to buy a bunch of stuff at T.J.Maxx and I could not leave a paper trail so I tried to open another account, but my last one was still "pending" because I owed like fifty cents on it (you know how they do when you try to close an account) and I had already cut up the card and they wouldn't look up my number because you need the actual card, so I was filling out the application, hoping that it would go through, and explaining this to the woman in "Layaway" with exceptionally long finger nails, and she places her spiny hand over mine and goes, "Honey, I have filed bankruptcy THREE times and am on my FOURTH divorce.  I know EXACTLY how you feel."  Okay.  Life lesson.  I got out of there in a hurry.  After my application was rejected, of course, and AFTER I put everything on layaway.

SOOO, back to our story, or rather, nightmare.  Here is the situation in the car, on the way to Tybee Island.  We are forced to listen to the golf tournament, while we all have to pee and are starving and all of our electronic devices have run out of power.  It was the EXACT same scenario on the way home, only we did not break it up and stay at a hotel in between, and the radio was blaring a fuzzy Reds game while all of the children continually asked me the same questions over and over again, fought, or complained of hunger, motion sickness, bladder discomfort, or thirst. To be fair, on the way there, they did not fight, really, because they were too excited and we were all in a good mood so I didn't mind servicing them as much.  But on the way home, EVERYTHING changed.

Brad actually took Eva and I to this nasty ass gas station with the doors on the outside, when we were the only two who had to pee.  I always pee when he stops, because of my prostate, and because you never know when you are going to get to pee again.  I had actually prepared for this very scenario, because I have been on way too many road trips with Brad, and I always come equipped with hand sanitizer and my own toilet paper and wipes when there is no soap or running water or functioning toilet, in whatever "outhouse-like" restroom he stops at.  We both pee in the dark, as the light is burned out, and as we are walking back to the car, a woman who was walking in the restroom after me with her two teenage children (one was even a boy) is suddenly yelling at her husband that the restroom my four-year-old and I just relieved ourselves in, is "unsuitable for humans" and she and her brood are getting back into her old man's SUV with disgusted looks on their faces. 

After hearing all of this, I EXPLODE at Brad and tell him that when my Mother and I drove to Vero Beach with the three girls for Spring Break a year ago "it was so pleasant.  We ATE when we were hungry.  We peed when we needed to. And we sure as shit didn't listen to sports for 12 hours!"  Okay, I didn't say "sure as shit" but more and more I am finding myself on countdown for when my kids get older so I can cuss in front of them, and AT them, for that matter.  If anyone knows that golden age, let me know.  I assume it is the same age when they are allowed to drink Diet Coke.

Anyway, the family seemed just like us, only further along in their family journey, due to their ages, and I notice that the man standing outside of the car cleaning his windshield is dressed EXACTLY like Brad (uniform:  golf visor, prescription sunglasses, flip flops, khaki shorts, and a some t-shirt advertising his favorite sports team).  They also have IDENTICAL smirks on their faces as the cars are parallel to each other, only Eva and I are the poor bastards who were stupid enough to take the bait and his family wasn't.  So here is where Brad will tell me after he reads this to "stop writing about him in a disparaging way" on my blog, and where I say, "stop acting like an J-hole on family vacation car rides and I won't have anything to write about."

Anyway, later when Brad and I were night swimming (AGAIN, I know, it is my passion) he brought up the confrontation at the nasty ass gas station and said he "couldn't believe I compared him to my Mother" and that she was "actually on the winning side".  To be fair, my Mom and I totally got into it on the way home about the Garmin, because she is a non-believer in GPS technology (another post) so comparing the rides and having my experience with my Mom come out on top was apparently a HUGE slap in Brad's face.  HILARIOUS.

My recommendation to you, today, is to always take hand sanitizer, toilet paper, wipes, antibiotics, a toilet seat, a lantern, and some sort of mood altering drug if you go on a long car trip with my husband, or maybe yours, too, if you are in the same boat as me because based on my case study at the gas station, all middle aged fathers who confine their children and wife to their vehicle for long periods of time must take some sort of seminar first, on how to make the trip as miserable as possible for the passengers in your car.  PEACE OUT.

The raw TRUTH is, though, is that I would get back in that car in a heartbeat.  It was the best vacation I have ever had, and I wanna go back so badly it hurts.

Pic above is of our night in Savannah.  Post to follow.  Great night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Pact

On our recent roadtrip to a Georgia Island, I wanted to stab Eva, my four-year-old,  in her eyeballs with my drink stirrer and decorative umbrella, (yes, I drink during family road trips and that is why I always drive first (you know, so I can have my coffee, and listen to "CoffeeHouse").  JOKE.  Children's Services, K?  She is becoming increasingly more difficult, and unlike her older siblings, Eva does not care if she is disciplined.

Case in point.  She is doing her routine of irritating her older sister, Mills, who she is sitting right next to, by say, oh, repeating over and over that she wants to be a jockey when she grows up, (which is Mills' dream, but she is too tall, already at 45" and probably too fat, too, weighing in at a whopping 40 pounds.  She is in second grade.  That's the joke.  Get it?  Or should I get more descriptive?  Sorry, I am trying to bring in more Southern readers.)

Another famous routine of Eva's is to constantly ask for the IPad, even though I have told her 1009 times that it's battery is dead.  Sometimes she just moans or sings the itsy bitsy "pider" over and over, again, until you want to scream.  The first two times you take pictures and video her, the last 1006 times, YOU ARE OVER IT!!!!! 

She hits her sister's heads together when she gets mad.  I beg her to go to sleep, because being annoying is her M.O. for being hungry or overtired, and she is both. When someone asks for the 1009th time, how long we have, Eva demands to know the minutes, and then seconds.  I actually CALCULATE them if we are close to our destination, and if we are not, I always say 1009, because that is her favorite number.  She also unnervingly asks if we are AT a destination, whether it be a restaurant, or a gas station, or even our own home, as we are exiting the car - JUST TO MAKE ME NUTS!!!  Eva will not smile in family pictures, unless she is doing something she wants to do, like sit on this gigantic alligator sculpture at The Crab Shack.  I could go on and on and on and on.

"Is this our hooommmmeee?" she will ask as I open my car door and the dog jumps all over her. 

"Yesssss."  I will say,exasperated, as she cackles, and then cries, because Scarlett, our dog, has scratched her or something.

"Is this our hoooommmmee?  Can I take my puppy for a walk?" she asks, as we pull into our driveway at 10:30 at night, at the end of our 13 hour journey home from Georgia.

I want to come unglued.

At one point, on the way home, I actually hissed at her that if she didn't stop that I would "swat her like a spider," with my magazine.  I pronounced "spider", SPPIIIIDER because I had just spent a week in Georgia, and my accent has become thicker that it has been in years.

She laughed and said she didn't "COWWW," and so I preceeded to swat her with my GQ article I was reading about a man who lost his family.  CLASSIC.  She laughed so hard she could not catch her breath, and the girls and the rest of the car erupted in laughter, until Brad came to his senses and said, "What are you doing?"  So I stopped and we all got quiet for a minute.  And then Eva pounded on Mills' beloved hermit crab's cage, and I screamed that Mills and Hallie switch seats mid expressway, so Eva would stop her abuse, and somebody, I think Eva, said she was hungry and had to pee.  GOOD TIMES.

Brad then actually asked her if she could wait a half and hour, and brought up AGAIN, how he wanted to stop at a hotel two hours away from home, to "enjoy Saturday Night".

"This is NOT going to get any better in any hotel room," I reasoned.

"Yes, it will," he offered.  "They can play in the room while we go downstairs."

"What will we be doing downstairs?"  I innocently asked.

"Sitting at the bar," he countered, serious as a heart attack.

"So we're supposed to leave our 9, 7, & 4 year-old in some hotel room while we go to the bar?"  I was mesmerized.

"Hallie's old enough.  She can watch the others."

"Are you not laying right next to me when we watch 20/20?  Are you mentally insane?"

He just laughed, thinking he'd float that one out there, and then another fight broke out.

SOOO FLASHBACK - Brad and I are at our rented vacation home, night swimming, talking about our lives, when I grab Brad by the shoulders and make him "swear" that we will not let Eva fall by the wayside when she is a teenager because we are too tired, and we have checked out.

"She's HILARIOUS," he coos.

"She's just like you.  That's why you understand her."  I replied.

"You're right.  I mean, what do you mean?"  he is suddenly defensive.

"Nevermind.  We'll talk about it on the way home.  We'll have tons of ALONE time then."

Pic above is of Eva, in all her orneriness, at The Crab Shack at Tybee Island.  It is famous and our friend, Andrew, who is a foodie, recommended we go.  He actually drove from Hilton Head to partake. It was awesome.  You could purchase what I am convinced are TimBits from the bar at $3 for four and you use an old bamboo fishin' pole with a bobbypin at the end to feed their captive alligators.

The food is amazing and the ambiance even better.  There is a large hole beneath a sort of stationary wood lazy susan, with a garbage underneath, that you put your trash and shell casings in.  I would recommend the crab legs and shrimp.  They are amazing.  The famous platter they have, looked yummy, too, but I can't remember the name.  It has all the local catches of the season, plus the best corn on the cob I have ever tasted, and sausage.  Skip the oysters on the half shell.  Not impressed.  Drink their punch.  So good.

Also, don't forget bug spray.  Right on the marshes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Graduation Degradation

Last Sunday I was invited to two graduation parties, one was for a high school graduation, the other a college one.  Before I was a Mother, I did not pay very much attention to the emotions surrounding each of these events, but the day of these parties all I could think about was the Mothers and Fathers and how proud they must be of their children.  What I kept thinking, though, is that they should be proud of themselves, because it is the greatest accomplishment in the world to survive raising a child, and an even greater one, to raise one that is going to actually contribute to society in a positive way.  Or at least you have set them up in such a way, that they are capable of doing so.

Anyway, let's start with the first party, which was a high school graduation party on my block, in which both their daughter and son graduated from high school the same year, because they are nine months apart.  That's right, I said, NINE MONTHS APART. The term for this is called "Irish twins" ( I guess this is considered a derogatory term referring to Catholics who do not believe in birth control), but I can never remember that, and I always want to say Siamese twins.  I even had to look up the term on the internet for this blog because I couldn't get "Siamese" out of my brain, again.  Weird, I know.

My neighbors and I were discussing this very subject at the party, at one point, because many of us have young children, and we were imagining what it would be like to find out that you are pregnant the month that you come home with your first newborn.  At that point, someone said, and I can't remember who, or I would give them cred, "That man had NO BUSINESS having sex with that woman right after she had just had a baby."  Classic.  The assumption, here, is that he made her have sex with him while she is getting up several times a night and breast feeding.  Anyway, I was amongst a group of women, at the time, and we all just looked down at the ground and shook our heads.  TRUE DAT.

So they had a taco truck and a bottomless margarita policy.  (Margaritas were YUMMY.) It was so fun and all of my awesome neighbors were there and it was a beautiful night and the kids were all playing and it is the kind of party that makes you realize why you yearn for summer the other three seasons of the year.

At one point, the hostess was trying to take a picture of all of the kids and they were all bunched up in front of the Taco Truck, while all of the parents looked on, and suddenly my brand new, FULL, icy beer, slips out of my hand as I am trying to get Eva to take her fingers out of her mouth because she always does this to irritate me whenever someone tries to take her picture, and my beer slips out of my hand, slams down on my toe, cuts it open, blood squirts out everywhere, and then as the hostess is poised to take the picture the beer sprays out all over her shoe and I yell, "DAMMMMIT!!!!"  All the kids start giggling, and the parents start high fiving me, and saying things like, "Mother of the Year!"

I mean, what an ass.  This is exactly why I should just stay in my backyard if I choose to drink, because I obviously cannot cope with real world situations such as "graduation parties" without somehow humiliating myself and my family.

But then, the next day, I am doing the walk of shame down my street, pretending to walk my dog and my kids, when one of my neighbors stops me and hands me a big plate of redemption.  She explains that after we left the party, another neighbor fell back in his chair twice, and the second time he managed to break a table along with the chair.

Then, she goes on to describe another neighbor, whom they thought because he was wearing this gigantic, authentic sombrero (you know the ones, the ones they give you on your birthday at El Vaquero?  Oh well, we have had a lot of kid "family" parties there, so I am familiar with the process - i.e. order a pitcher of Texas margaritas, bring presents for the guest of honor, eat a shitload of con queso with flour tortillas - you must try this, I discovered it in Texas, siblings complain because it is not their birthday, give them a roll of quarters to get some "party favors" at the junk dispensers they have in the waiting room, finish your pitcher, tell them it is your child's birthday, they arrive with fried ice cream and put a sombrero on your child's head, which the child then refuses, so you end up putting it on your head, Grandparents take your picture in the sombrero next to your child blowing our their candle, Grandparents drive everyone home.  At least that has been MY experience, several times.)

ANYWAY, where was I, oh yea, the neighbor, apparently he was speaking in tongues due to a succession of margaritas (did I mention they were YUMMY) and for the longest time everyone thought he was speaking, "you know, Mexican," she says and we all had a hearty laugh.  Thankfully, EVERYONE had forgotten about my little "splitting your toe open and then cursing and spilling a beer on the foot of the hostess" incident and I was suddenly overwhelmed with relief.  We did an extra lap around my block, I was so elated.

The next party was at one of my best friends parents' house and it is this ginormous mansion in Upper Arlington.  Before they lived there, and when I was first dating Brad in college, I was following him home, because he had borrowed his parents' car while they were on vacation, and took his friends in it to several Dead Shows.  Sorry Mimi and Grandpa Kennie, but it is the truth.  I actually went to your home before I met you for the first time, and then pretended that I had never been there before. ( I am surprised that I did not give myself away when I proceeded to make myself a drink from your liquor cabinet in the basement. Ha!) That is a whole other post which I keep forgetting to write.  It's a doosy.  Remind me.  It is family folklore.

ANYWAY, when I was following him home, he pulled into this mansion's driveway and then got out and came to my window and when I manually rolled my window down (remember those?)  he goes, "You thought you were really getting something, didn't ya?  My house is down the road."

In my defense, it was dark and late at night and I was focused on the adventure at hand, but then I looked up to find this well-lit gargantuan estate on the golf course and was immediately disappointed.

Well, we told this story to my friend's Dad and he howled with laughter and then humbly added that his family "is just honored to borrow this house for a while."  CLASSY.  Never had those thoughts about my house, and let's face it, probably never will.

So my friend, we'll call her Jen, had her husband's band playing in the backyard which was set against the Scioto Golf Course, and the kids were dancing in the moonlight and we were drinking wine and enjoying our children playing together (Nothing gives me more joy than when the people I love's children get along with my children.) and it was just one of those summer nights where everything comes together and it makes you thankful for everything that you are fortunate to have in this life.  Oodles of country songs have been written about this very experience.

I guess my recommendation today is to value what you have, and to try and have as many adventures this summer as you can.  I just love the randomness of summertime.  The world is your oyster.  You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  That is the way that I view summertime.  I try to have no guilt about what my kids eat or do, or how often they shower, or how dirty the house gets.  I want my kids to remember their summers as carefree, like I remember mine.  Try not to overschedule them, and just spend an afternoon hanging out after you have all slept in.  Start a project and engage them in it.  My fondest memories are of learning some skill from someone who took the time to teach me something when it made the whole project take twice as long as it should have.

I like to quote from this Oprah episode I saw when my kids were really young and I used to make the time to watch daytime t.v.  She was interviewing this child whose Mother had died, and they had taken all of these trips to Disneyland and waterparks and stuff right before she died.  When Oprah asked this little boy what he enjoyed doing the most with his Mom, he replied, "I liked when she read books to me at night."  I am not the perfect Mother, far from it, but that resonated with me, and I just thought I would pass it on. 

Case in point, pic above is of the girls riding their skateboards I bought them at Target for the summer and then realized that I was going to spend the rest of my life holding their hands as they tried repeatedly to give themselves a head injury.  Settled on them sitting on them with their helmets on as they sped down my neighbors driveway across our street up our driveway.  Not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon.  If I could just get some roadblocks to section off our block, that is.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zac Brown vs. Taylor Swift

Okay, we went to the Zac Brown Concert a few weeks ago,  and it was so fun.  I know that Lady Gaga and Madonna-esque performers have their place and are enormously entertaining, but if you like "musician's music,"  Zac Brown is your band.  A lot of bands that have gotten as big as Zac Brown is now, (however, there are a lot of people including my best friend, Alissa, and our friend, Doug, who had never really sat down and listened to his music until recently) have a tendency to dial it in when they are touring.  It is more about the stage props than the music, sometimes. 

But let me back up.  Our friend, Doug, Brad and I went to the concert together.  Brad wanted to "tailgate"in the parking lot, and even asked me if I had a little grill.  I know, he really misses Dead Shows.  I wanted to go to my friend, Megan's parents' house - the Morgans.  Doug and Brad thought that I was taking them to some uptight Arlington party and they were fighting me on it.

Doug was doing his "passive-aggressive routine" that I am convinced all husbands must take a course in, before they get married, and he was all, "I don't care where we go.  It's totally up to you guys.  I'm just along for the ride.  Now, what time did you say the band was going on, Brad?"  He knew that would get Brad going.  Brad was wanting to go to the concert at 6 o'clock because we were in what Zac calls the "Georgia Pit".  It is a little section up front that surrounds the stage. It is standing room only, first come, first serve, but I am not one to sit in my seat, anyway.  My friends, that is the way to see a concert.  After dancing a while mid-crowd, I dropped my purse at Brad's feet, told him to "here, watch this" and made my way up to the front before he even knew what was happening. 

It was hilarious, too, because Brad was wanting to go early and do you know who was in the front row when I got there - that's right.  Old people like Brad who got there early and stood around for hours until the band came on.  They were downing their Boniva with their Ensure drink they smuggled in, and they were loving life.  And then here I come. "I'm sorry, but I am forty-one and I have never been in the front row of a concert before.  Do you mind?"  They were extremely accommodating, under the circumstances, and then the heat was taken off of me when a young drunk girl in her twenties, stumbled her way up there too, and began slapping her butt (and mine sometimes) while she danced wildly.  I flew under the radar at that point, and was able to stay in my front row spot for the duration of the concert.  Good Times.

Now, let's compare and contrast this with the Taylor Swift Concert.  Brad and I took our two eldest daughters, Hallie and Mills, as an end of the year present to congratulate them on their good report cards throughout the year.  It was a "surprise" and we took them to Cap City Diner beforehand and told them that their surprise was to get whatever they wanted on the "Big Cappers" portion of the kid's menu there.  Boy, were they disappointed.

Let's back up, we get out of our car and we are confronted by one of those Hummer limos with a grandma, a mother, and her two daughters who were all in matching outfits, complete with heels and makeup.  The youngest daughter was about four-years-old, the eldest around seven.  My entire family stood there with our mouths wide open as they exited the vehicle and then this Cap City employee, who was monitoring the parking situation goes, "Well, that's not something you see everyday."  LOVE IT.

So we tell the girls finally by making them close their eyes and hold out their hands and then Brad hands them their tickets.  My girls are not the high heel wearing, makeup savvy individuals of their counterparts. so it took several questions for them to understand that we were going to the Taylor Swift concert that night.  Some of the sample questions were, "Oh, fun, when is it?"  and "Do we still get to get a Big Cappers meal, or is that off the table now?"

At the end of the meal, I went to the restroom and two tween/teenage girls were bitching about their parents who were apparently taking THEM to the concert, as well.  As I was in a stall and they were "freshening up" their demonic make up, they had the conversation below.

"I just KNOW we are going to be late tonight, and this night is going to SUCK just like I knew it would.  Our parents are so STUPID.  They always screw EVERYTHING up," said the first little bitch.

"I know.  I hate them.  They suck.  Hey, did you try out today?" said second little bitch.

"Yea, so did Gretchen."

"Was she any good?"

"No, she sucks, but she got on the team because of her Dad, so..."

I was too slow to catch them because I have an enlarged prostate, and I tend to pee for hours, but I literally was ready to fly out of that stall and tear them a new one.  My intention was to ask them who bought their tickets, but I decided it was best to just badmouth them to the other woman who was exiting her stall and then use the whole experience as a lecture for my children.

"Let me tell you something,"  I told Hallie and Mills after I gave them an abbreviated version of the conversation I had just witnessed in the bathroom.  "If I EVER heard you two talk about anyone like that, especially ME, I would take you both home and you could sit in your rooms while your Dad and I enjoyed the concert.

"That's funny," Hallie said, "when I was in the bathroom, I caught up with the limo family, and the mother was trying to add more makeup on the eyelids of the four-year-old, when her older sister stopped her and said, "No!  You need purple, that color doesn't match your outfit! And then the Mom apologized and pulled out her purple stuff."  Hallie did the whole scenario in her "Valley Girl" accent she has mastered.  Soooo funny.  The little observer.  Love it.  I am screwing her up real good.  She is destined to a lifetime of eavesdropping and judgement, if I have done my job right, which apparently I have.

So, anyway, the concert was a blast.  It is so fun to watch your children enjoy something you enjoy, too.  Taylor Swift is a good musician, which I thoroughly appreciate and she is proficient at many instruments including the guitar, the banjo, the piano, and even the ukalele.  I loved the concert and the set design and performances were all very artistic and wholesome, which I was grateful for.

When we were discussing this very topic on the way home from the concert, Hallie said, "I like how it was more about the music, than the performance."  That's my gurl.  Soooo proud.  Great memory.  Thanks Brad.  It was all his idea and he even sang "Love Story" at the top of his lungs much to the girls' dismay.  He knew the words because Mills sang it on a loop with her new ipod two summers ago in the car all the way to Chicago and back.

By the way, I thought the best song was "Dear John" which is directed at John Mayer, another fav of mine, and is one of my "go to" songs this summer.  Go see Taylor.  She is absolutely worth it, even though she had two warm up bands, did not go on until 8:45pm, and the air conditioner apparently broke in Nationwide Arena mid-concert.  I'm not old.  I'm just sayin'.  Pic above at concert.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm Baaacccckkk Beaaatchhes

Ok, I needed to take a little hiatus.  I will do this from time to time and I decided that I might not post as regularly as I have been, because the kids are almost out of school and I need to focus on THEM.

Just kidding.  I just had a four day vacation at Apple Valley Lake where I got really lazy and busy at the same time, if that makes sense, and because I am my own boss and I work from home, I just decided to goof off for a while.  This summer I will have to post when I can, so the schedule will be kind of random.  I figure y'all read them whenever you want, so I'll write them whenever I want.  If it is sounding like I am developing a love/hate relationship with my readers, I am.  Just kidding.  Just bear with me, loves, while I try to provide you with ridiculous anecdotes, and have a fun summer with my family at the same time. 

Let's just start with a little nugget, my 9-year-old, Hallie, came up with, the other day, after school.  She had a field trip that centered around the historical aspects of Upper Arlington, our neighborhood, and when I asked her about it, she said that she went to one of her classmates' houses on the tour, where her mother answered the door in a dress and heels.

Let's back up.  In order for Hallie to GO on the field trip, I had to email her teacher that she could go because Hallie forgot her permission slip.  I had to do this two days before, for Mills, before her field trip, so I was familiar with the process.  Don't judge.  I am just ready for school to end.  I, then, had to find the Upper Arlington Library books that had long been written off by them, turn them in, and pay a $30 fine.  All so Hallie could check out library books, amongst her peers, without the anxiety I experience every time someone mentions the word "overdue".

Someone could tell me that their baby is "overdue" and I would break out in a cold sweat, recalling the ticking time bomb that is my account at the Upper Arlington Library.  For those of you that aren't in the know, the Underwood family inadvertently donated the renovation of the Miller Park Library.  I am petitioning for a plaque at this very moment.

Anyway, the mother was explaining the historical significance of her home to the class, and Hallie said that all she kept thinking was, "if it was our house, and YOU were answering the door, you would probably be in your pajamas."

OUCH.  And then - HILARIOUS.  I mean, how could I be mad?  She was spot on, and to my credit, I think, I was able to sift through my humiliation, to find the humor in the moment.  I would put it in her baby book, if she had one.

Isn't it funny how your kids KNOW you.  There is a famous quote about parenting that I love, "Do what I say, not as I do."  Isn't that SO true, or is it just me?  Hallie definitely has my number, when it comes to calling me out on my inadequacies.  I can't remember if I have written this before but my poignant neighbor, who has a daughter in college, once told me, "I feel sorry for women who don't have daughters, because they will never know what is wrong with them."  Truer words have never been spoken.  How prophetic is that?  I get it times three, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.  (Caddyshack reference:  Bill Murray talking about receiving "total consciousness on his deathbed" via the Dali Lama.)  

Anyway, I love jammies.  Super soft summer jammies are my favorites.  Every single one of my neighbors have seen me enjoying some activity in them, in my front yard.  If I have to pick up poop before Brad mows the lawn on a Saturday morning.  I do it in my jammies.  Mostly because he literally starts up the lawn mower and it is like a race to pick it up before he steps in it, so I don't have time to change.  I enjoy putting out my recycling, chatting up neighbors as they walk their kids to school, and pushing Eva on the swing out front - all in the comfort of my jammies.  My favorite brands are PJsalvage and Scanty brand jammies. (The tag states, "It feels so yummy!" and it does.)  My favorite pair of Scanty jammies have bunnies all over them.  See pic above.