Friday, July 31, 2009

Wanna feel stupid? Try THIS!

I've yet to meet a Mother who has a perfect child.* The little buggers are full of faults. From the moment they arrive, it becomes apparent that they aren't going to

a. eat on the schedule you got from the pediatrician's office
b. poop the right color
c. sleep according to when the moon comes out OR
d. let you get a shower before 5pm during the first nine months of their life.

As a Mom, you are reduced to a quivering bowl of nerves, afraid that you are going to say/eat/do the wrong thing JUST ONCE and the result will catapult your child into a mass-murderer. Basically, you lose your former "cool" self to this new person who looks suspiciously like a parent strung out on crack. With OCD tendencies.

Sadly, this doesn't get much better as your kids age. In fact, in many ways, it gets worse. Is Johnny at grade level in PE? Will his friends in the first grade pick their noses, too? Does he have the talent to join the badminton league? And on it goes.

So, the current worry around the Nowell house is phonics. Do our kids know what a diphthong is? Can they correctly pronounce "qu"? If we don't give them the training, will they pronounce BRAZIER, as in the burger at Dairy Queen, BRASSIERE?** ARGH.

In our quest to get this as right as possible, we have decided to err on the side of overexposure and take on an in-depth phonics course. With a neuropsychologist. In Houston. Can you say O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L?

Upon arrival at said wonderful locale, I am handed a book, scratch that, a BIBLE, of sorts. A phonics bible about three inches thick. And I'm expected to read and ingest chapter one whilst the phonics-starved one is testing***.

Said chapter is entitled "Getting Ready". I imagine it will be a stroll through choosing "phonics-appropriate" books, loading up on pencils and paper, and practicing the phrase, "You are doing SUCH a good job."

Try again, sweetness. How about the FOXP2 gene which runs in families with severe language deficits****, the fusiform gyrus, and Logan's instantiation hypothesis?

I can just imagine the doctor getting offended when I say, "Honey, this horse is barely out of the gate and I think I just broke my leg."

Thankfully, it gets better before I leave for lunch. I'm handed a stack of pretty, colored cards, with letters on them. G, Z, H, T, get my drift. My only task is to figure out the sounds these letters make before we return from break. SO much easier than that reading stuff.

Or, so I thought. Upon checking my answers, I realize I've missed more than HALF the sounds. How the hell did I make it this far in life? I should really just get in the car and drive as far away from my kids as possible because it has just become blatantly obvious that I know NOTHING. And I have a secondary degree to teach ENGLISH.

Day one ends. I'm moving to Stupidville. Young stud is learning TONS from our doctor friend but Mom obviously donated a considerable chunk of her brain cells to science without even knowing*****. I vow to get a better sleep, lest I get sucker-punched again on day two.

Day two's lessons are intense but interesting and my guy is GETTING IT! Praise be! Me? I learn that the "bossy E" controls the vowel in front of it, forcing it to say it's name. I KNEW this but I certainly couldn't have taught it. But, I'm told, I'll get my chance, because tomorrow it's MY TURN TO TEACH!

Much to our delight, at the hotel we've been joined by another Mom/student combo, who are a little ahead of us in the program. The other Mom seems to have developed a slight compulsion to rub her eyes, drag her fingers through her hair, and say "MY gosh." Since the best defense is a good offense, we dine on wine and brownies for dinner. Hey, if I die teaching this stuff, at least I'll die a happy woman.

The next morning, after two cups of piping hot coffee, we arrive and I am summoned to do my teaching gig. We run through everything I'm supposed to do and I feel pretty confident. Sounds? Check. Spelling exercises? Check. Empty bladder? Check.

Then my baby sits down in front of me. The doctor perches to my right, like the angel of death sitting on my doorstep, waiting to pounce on my next mistake and drag me to a place where all they do, day in and day out, is phonics. I'm shaking and my mind keeps singing "My blood runs cold and my memory has just been sold"******. I think I'm losing my mind!

And then it happens: we work together, I make tons of mistakes and get corrected a bazillion times, and I realize I CAN DO THIS! Without losing my sanity or turning my baby into a psychopath. I'm not that stupid after all.

Look out world! Up in the sky! It's a bird. A plane. NO, it's phonics Momma, here to save the day!

I know, \ˌō-vər-ˈkil\

*Though I have met a few mothers who THINK they have perfect children. BIG difference.

**True story. Cracked everyone in the car up, except the person reading the sign because he was too young to know what a bra was.

***OOPS. Didn't envision this when I drove from Dallas the night before then stayed up in the hotel room until 2:30am watching TV.

****Yet something ELSE to fret about.

*****Or, was it the donation to the fairy who visits each time you deliver a child?

******Hearts and hugs to the J. Geils band. Sorry to use your lyric this way.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The truth about breastfeeding

Somewhere in the line of conception, when the XX chromosomes are established, and the road map of your body as a woman is conveniently determined*, you develop a nurturing instinct that is just a wee bit short of psycho. From the earliest time, you try to grab your neighbor's Persian cat to dress it up in baby clothes and make it take naps in a cardboard box crib. If there is a baby within 500 feet, you can actually smell the powder and have to get close enough to say "whats-a-baby-doing?" at least 10,000 times. You create exhaustive lists of names for your daughters which include "Destiny" and "Precious". And you dream of the day you'll get married so you can have "real" babies of your own to love.

Then, your dream comes true and you wonder "WHAT WAS I THINKING?"

Now, you were TOTALLY prepared for labor, because anyone from the chick behind the counter at Albertsons to the man next door whose cousin delivered a baby in 1974 tell you, from the moment you look pregnant,** that

1. you want drugs during the delivery
2. delivery is going to hurt like hell even IF you take drugs
3. you should start taking drugs NOW just in case the drugs they give you during delivery don't take

Before the first conversation about this even ends, you get the point loud and clear and make a mental note to have an exhaustive conversation about drugs with your OB/GYN. And you do, every single time you set foot in his/her office. Upon arriving at the hospital, you talk about your drugs with the girl who checks you in. You even talk with the night janitor, as you pass him coming out of the restroom before you are assigned a room, to be sure he's aware that you NEED your drugs.

Because you've been a good Mom-to-be during your pregnancy, you've practically inhaled anything that has to do with delivering baby, taking sweet-ums home, breastfeeding, etc. You've practically filled the DVR with "A Baby Story" and spent hours channel-surfing to find good shows with the word "ANIMAL" in the title, so you could see little creatures being ejected from their Mommy's womb onto the cold, hard, unforgiving Earth, babies who then stood immediately, walked wobbly-legged, and began to suckle from their Mother's breast. You note that Mom animals never seem to mind the delivery or the teat sucking.

Now, after delivery***, your baby is placed at your breast for the first time and you quickly realize, "I have absolutely nothing in common with giraffe Mommas. And my baby seems suspiciously helpless."

Baby has the head control of a drunk on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. You have breasts that currently look like they are pumped up on helium and a husband who can't believe his luck****. Your nipples, if they aren't playing peek-a-boo, are the size of seeded globe grapes, a problem since baby has a mouth the size of a pea. And, moment-by-moment, your breast milk is making its way to fill up your breasts until they might explode.

All this can mean only one thing: pain.

Excruciating pain.

The same alarmist folks who would have you snowed under on narcotics to deliver your baby tell you absolutely zilch about breastfeeding your sunny bunny. Even your best girlfriends, sisters-in-law, and your Mother tell you NOTHING! Is there some kind of "breastfeeding amnesia" that occurs after you transition baby to a sippy cup? Is this a conspiracy created by the LaLeche League? WWWWHHHYYYYY?

Which brings me back to my title for this post: The truth about breastfeeding. It sucks. Literally and more literally. At first, it is painful, unnatural, and frustrating.

And, it is the best thing you'll ever do in your life.

Yes, it is the BEST thing you'll ever do in your life.

You could earn a PhD in physics faster than you'll learn how to breastfeed. In the process, you'll find yourself in positions you thought were reserved for private times with your hubby in order to get baby to latch on. People will laugh at you the first time you pump and say you look like a cow in a dairy plant hooked up to a milking machine*****.

But, hold on to your sanity and keep those breast shields handy, because your milk will come in, down, and start gushing out before you know it. And, if you are lucky, you'll get to have fabulously engorged breasts without the aid of silicone until you decide to pull the nips from baby******. It will be the most wonderful, peaceful bonding time with your child, that is, once you both get the hang of it.

Trust me: you'll be glad I gave you the truth. And so will baby.

And, to your hubby, "You're so very welcome. No go wipe that drool off your chin."

*With breast, hip and waist size established so early, we gals should just give in to our chocolate craving on day one. Truly, wouldn't chocolate breast milk be superior?

**Even if that's, OOPS!, actually a few pounds you gained on vacation.....

***Which you managed to survive, thanks to the drugs.

****"Yes, nurse. Could you bring a drool rag? No, not for baby. For my husband. Yes, he's staring at them AGAIN."

*****True story. Still haven't taken revenge. Considering options.

******Do the world a favor and do this BEFORE baby can ask for milk. That's just not right.

Potty dances

Once you become a Mom with kids who can walk, even in a roly-poly, Weebles-wobble-but-they-don't-fall down kind of way, it becomes a matter of self-preservation to avoid public restrooms at all costs. I've known this for a VERY long time as my kids mastered the art of single-handedly describing my underwear-down anatomy in extremely loud voices while simultaneously performing a pretzel-worthy stretching act under the partition to smile and wave "hi" to the poor throne dweller who parked next to us. All this talent perfected by each of my boys before they hit about three.

So, not surprisingly, I am a big fan of any store, restaurant, or parent who installs a "potty-chair"* in their throne room. I've been known to holler "YES" when stumblin' upon one of these little beauties**. This miracle invention allows you to strap sweet cheeks into a fold-out chair about 3 feet above ground level. It's an introduction to the virtues of Six Flags for the toddler set*** that allows you just under three-minutes to finish your duty before your little angel realizes "HEY! This isn't the Texas Giant. Get me out of this thing!"

Now, last week, I entered a restroom where there wasn't a potty-chair to be had. It didn't matter a bit to me because, in a rare stroke of luck, I had managed to arrive early and, having not picked up the babe yet, I was SANS KIDS! But, I wasn't the only Mom in the restroom. No, in fact, I was within five feet of a woman who forgot the cardinal rules of Mothering:

Rule #1: always use the restroom BEFORE you leave the house and don't drink a drop of ANYTHING before you arrive back home****.

Rule #2: if you violated rule #1, do not rush to your child's side but to the nearest water closet! Even if you have to pay $1/minute for being late.

But back to our bathroom: Mom and her threeish-sounding son managed to nab the coveted handicap stall. Stall number two was occupied by an unknown, very quiet, person. Now, my bladder was FULL. And no one in either stall seemed to be moving beyond a snail's pace. So, I crossed my legs and waited.

What came next was nothing short of blog fodder. The threeish son started to perform for his Mom. It went something like this:

Son: "Do you want to see the potty dance?"

Mom: (in the same small, sweet voice all Moms have for approximately two minutes after picking up children they haven't seen for a couple of hours) "Sure."

Son: "Potty dance, potty dance, poo-poo, pee-pee." (Shuffling sound from stall. No rhythm or rhyme to the lyrics.)

Mom: (trying to sound interested, yet slightly worried that this has no where to go but down) "Well, that is an interesting song."

Son: "Potty. Poo. Pee." (More shuffling. Lyrics annoyingly repetitive.)

Then it happened. Mom did the unthinkable, yet natural, thing that accompanies sitting on a toilet. She passed gas.

Son: "OOOOHHHH. Farty song. Do you want to hear my farty song?" (So very excited. Practically auditioning for Tap Dogs inside stall.)

(ME? My legs are squeezed together so tightly I think they might break. WHY, you ask? Because I'm engaged in one of those noiseless, internal, body-shaking fits of laughter that I'm afraid is going to cause me to pee instantly, on the floor, rendering useless my time waiting for the sluggard to vacate stall number two.)

Mom: "That's not very appropriate, Evan. Let's not talk about that." (Pulse-racing, wondering if anybody else is in bathroom.******)

Evan (who now has a name!): "My potty, farty song. (muffled sound). (More muffled sound). (SCREAMING, muffled sound) WHY ARE YOU COVERING MY MOUTH, MOMMY?"

Sound of toilet flushing. Stall number two opens and mystery person turns out to be bigger brother of flautulant Mother and dancing brother. Totally unaffected by events from the family line, he exits stall and dutifully begins washing hands. Toilet in handicap stall announces itself with loud flushing.

By this time, I have bonded with Evan. He is so much a Nowell that I could adopt him on the spot. He'd fit right in with my brood and I HAVE TO, down to the marrow of my bones, see his face to be sure he wasn't born of me in some wierd "when did that alien abduct and impregnate me" kind of way. So, I hold my ground and appear busy by rifling through my purse, aimlessly.

When Mom and Evan exit the stall, I catch a glance of a flat out adorable little guy. He's bouncy and happy, with wavy brown hair and big eyes. Cute, but no Nowell/alien lineage to be had. His Mom, no doubt mortified that someone else WAS in the loo, acts like I'm a wall tile and whisks him right by me, using her Mommy kung-fu grip******.

By the time they leave the bathroom, Mom has managed to lose the sweet, small voice, in favor of her usual brand of talk, which is somewhere between Army seargant and Hitler. She has also endeared herself to me because I see myself in her: She's simultaneously embarassed and frazzled, yet can't wait to have five minutes alone with her husband to recount the "bathroom story" and laugh about how cute Evan is and how responsible his older brother is becoming. ME? I'm just happy to have made it to the open stall.

And, fair prince Evan of my (potentially) favorite bathroom story: You made my day. Rock on!

*Does this thing have a technical name?

**And you can be darn sure I'll be back to THAT place when I'm toting kids and have to wee. Even if it means a twenty-minute trip out of my way to get there.

***If you play your cards right, that is. You MUST get all happy-clappy and silly so your kid thinks this is FUN, and not recognize they are really strapped into a carseat hanging off the wall.

****This is the only iron-clad way to avoid PRE, commonly known in psychology circles as "public restroom embarrasment".

*****So sorry, yes, there is somebody else here. And, sadly, your moment of shame is about to be blog material. But, carry on.

******His arm was practically blue, I tell you! But, I completely understood her dilema: kung-fu grip or spanking? HMMMM.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baby dolls pits

Hand-me-downs are a right of passage in the Nowell house. You KNOW you are loved when you receive them, because each item you try on is eyed suspiciously by its previous owner and met with "UH, that's MY shirt/ shorts/pants/underwear"* To which I politely explain, "this USED to be yours, but it no longer fits, so it is now ______'s" (insert name of lucky recipient).

The usual response from our lucky hand-me-down contestant is something between a Superbowl end zone dance and some funky Latin dance move I don't even think has been invented yet, combined with the strains of "oh yeah, oh yeah", generally meant to convey to the older sibling "I got some ice cream, you don't got no ice cream"** Then I get the "MMMOOOOMMMM" and we start this little dance all over again.

This time, though, the hand-me-down fairy didn't fare so well. Baby doll didn't like the coordinating Nike orange/gray/white sleeveless tank and shorts even though he looked flat adorable in them***. He fussed, he adjusted, he cried, he practically spit green pea soup trying to get me to take this outfit off. I just couldn't understand.

Then he dropped the bomb: he didn't like the kids at Preschool seeing his "nipples". This hit me wrong on so many levels I didn't know where to start...

1. How did he learn the word "nipple"?
2. Into what whacked position were these kids getting if they could see nipple? I could see nada.
3. How did the style gene skip his generation and mine? Because he was missing out on an opportunity to look stellar....

So, I changed him and forgot about the nipple incident. Round one to the kid.

Until a few weeks later when said outfit was the only thing in sight that was clean (a continuous problem in our house until the coveted W/D of 2009). I'm not sure if it was the gnashing of teeth, my desire to not be late for the billionth time, or concern over the cost of his future psychologist visits that would, no doubt, be necessary after this perceived cruelty****, but something made me ask the question, "Why are you so worried about the kids seeing your nipples? You know it's ok for boys to show their nipples, but not girls, right?" To which my love bug said, pointing to his ARMPITS, "I just don't like them showing."

One undershirt later, we were jammin' out the door, which just totally proves the adage "Knowledge is POWER."

Ding, ding. Round two goes to MOM!

Oh, and in case you are wondering, he now knows the difference between an armpit and a nipple.

*Yes, I send underwear down the line if they don't have holes or serious marks. Sue me.

**Eddie Murphy, Delerious stand-up skit. His language will singe your ears but you'll be laughing while they burn.

***Stylin', I tell you, stylin'.

**** "For the fourteenth time, Dr. Spock, I was only THREE and she MADE ME SHOW MY NIPPLES!!! It was MORTIFYING, I tell you. MORTIFYING."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Potato or Tortilla, that is the question

EDITOR'S NOTE: Blogged with permission of Michael Thomas Nowell, lest you think I'm a hag.

They* say that all good marriages work for the long haul because the husband and wife communicate. I couldn't agree more with this theory and I make sure Mike and I interact on a regular basis.** This is one of the bonuses of having a hubby who works out of the house.***

But, even with obnoxiously frequent jawboning, there is still one thing standing between us and perfection in our marriage: Mike's morning snack.

You see, recently my sweet husband has started a most annoying habit. It started SO innocently, with a trip to Costco, where I picked up a bag of "where have you been all my life?" potato chips. Really, these things are perfection in a foil bag: not too greasy, perfectly crisp, and THICK. The slogan "can't eat just one" should be ripped from the Lay's corporation and given to these chips.

Now, a LARGE bag of these was eaten, by Mike and one son (and a few little, itty bitty crumbs by yours truly****), in about two days. So, of course, to quell the angry masses, I returned to Costco for another bag. Since I had a couple more items to purchase, I decided to shop around a bit. $253.74 later, I had acquired more groceries than a small country might need in a month.

I placed the potato chips, tortilla chips, and salsa***** in the pantry and went about my merry way. Later that morning I saw Mike getting his snack. He carefully filled a cereal bowl with salsa****** and went to the pantry. I decided to stick around a bit as this was shaping up to be a wonderful snack over which we could chat*******. When the man pulled the potato chips out of the pantry, I was aghast. And, I had to ask, "Why aren't you using the tortilla chips I bought?" This seemed like a non-issue to him, so he replied, "Because I love the potato chips."

Now, you would think that Costcos all across the country were spontaneously combusting and I would NEVER be able to acquire another bag of wonderfulness because I LOST IT. Lectured the poor boy on the virtues and properness of dipping tortilla chips in salsa, NOT potato chips. He was unaffected and continued eating.

Thus began the "great potato chip debate of 2009". When my brother-in-law visited, Mike introduced him to this abomination********. He sings the praises of this gastronomical atrocity to the kids. He flaunts this in front of me DAILY, pointing to the bag where it says "great for dipping". I refer him to the non-existent asterisk that says "with RANCH or ONION dip". And, thus it goes.

Until today. I saw my lunchtime weight-gaining regime being swept out from underneath me as Mike had the BAG in his hand and there were only a couple of servings left. So, I had to ask him, "Truly? Are you Satan's wingman?" Then, we both cracked up.

Here's the other thing I know about marriage: When the going gets tough, the tough should laugh. They NEED to laugh. So, we did.

And, starting today, I've resolved to buy extra bags of potato chips at Costco INSTEAD of gritching. That's the very least I owe my sweetie after the Beelzebub comment.....

*The ubiquitous "they", who bring you everything from global warming to swine flu. Speaking of which, where's the pandemic, people?

**Pretty much 24/7, Heaven love him.

***Not so sure HE sees it that way because I overheard him whispering about "locks on the office doors" to the General Contractor. Should I take offense or assume he wants to keep the kids out? HMMMMM.

****I so lie. I open the bag while making lunches and eat my dog's weight in these things. "Hello, Weight Watchers? Yeah, gained back the 8 pounds I lost."

*****And other unimportant purchases, like REAL FOOD.

******For pity sake, man! Show a little restraint. Just drink the stuff out of the bottle.

*******That I could probably encroach on without doing any work.

********Sorry. He can't help himself. I've tried.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My kids think I'm smart??

Over time you learn how much your parents really DO know. Take, for instance, that the boyfriend you had in High School was really not in your league*. Or that you would eventually MISS the days when your only job was in the drive-thru at the Burger King**. Or "This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you."***

Now, being a parent myself, it would be nice to get a jump start on this "You really DO know something" business, instead of waiting for my sweeties to turn 25 and make this revelation****. But, alas, my years of payback have come to roost for the long haul.

You see, in the Sackett/Huber family continuum, we don't try to learn from the lessons of our elders, we just let the mistakes slide into the next generation so we have someone to laugh at come family reunion time.

Take, for example, a certain woman***** who, as a child, destroyed her Mother's NEW DINING ROOM CHAIR. This, of course, devastated the Mother, who complained up the family chain to HER Mother. The pithy response: "I remember when you destroyed MY new furniture. I guess the chickens came home to roost!"

No pity, I tell you. No pity.

So, should I consider it unusual that I've been told, slightly more than once yet barely less than one million times, "Paybacks are Hell"?

Or been told the joke:
"A little boy asks his Mother 'where do gray hairs come from?'
Stealthy replying, the Mother says, 'I get a gray hair every time you misbehave.'
Without missing a beat, the little boy says, 'Then why does Grandma have snow white hair?'"******

I'm guessing I'm supposed to be THE MOTHER in this insipid little joke?

So, instead of getting hammered from both sides of the ancestral hierarchy, and in my quest to make it to the age when my sons KNOW I am as smart as I've suspected all along, I've decided to follow a few golden rules:

1. Don't look for pity from those who wiped your behind or from those whose bottoms you are currently tending to. Save your sob stories for margarita-drinking girlfriends who won't counter with a story about your horrendous childhood/teenage years or how mean you are for yelling after they touched the recently painted bathroom cabinets, then smeared them on their jammies/wall/door jam, when they were SUPPOSED TO BE IN BED.*******

2. Don't try to force your kids into thinking you are smart before your time. You are like a fine wine: if you try to get your kids to imbibe too early, there will be BITTERNESS and throw-up. If you patiently wait until you have reached your peak, there will be glowing reports of your wonderful ripeness. And way less vomit.

3. No matter what you do, remember and sing with gusto, Dory's best line in Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." With all the repitition, it will make those around you go stark raving mad. You, however, will be in complete control, whisked away to Doryland, with nary a sad or unhappy thought in your head. Just like Dory....

Oh, and consider investing in cases of Clairol's "6G Light Golden Brown". Then use with stunning frequency. It's a two-for-one defense against silly questions from children AND repetitive matriarchal jokes.

Now I'd say that's smart.

*"Idiots for $200, please, Alex. Yes, sir, that IS my name! My parents were RIGHT!"

**Yes, but I DON'T pine for the clingy brown and orange polyester pantsuits we were forced to wear. Unstylish in ANY era.

***Totally and unequivocally bogus on any continent and in any language. That crap HURT!

****Like some other pinhead I'm faintly acquainted with..attached to..OK, ME. Happy now?

*****Yes, blog readers, I was a hellion early on.

******Always followed by a side-splitting snort/laugh.

*******Bitter? Irritated? Who, me?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baby Playdoh machine

If you ever catch yourself in the position of changing the wet diaper of a three month old in the backseat of a car, on top of a pillow, in the drive-thru of a Dairy Queen (because sweet hubby just has to yield to the TEXAS STOP SIGN and get a dip cone), please put down the baby and CALL ME.

I'll urge you to go to the nearest changing table to avoid what we affectionately refer to as the "baby playdoh machine" incident.

Apparently, one of my boy's bottoms was sensitive to changes in temperature. Now, that is fairly normal for the peepee part of the story, but, unbeknownest to me, it was also true for the poopoo part.

So, with diaper off and 74 more just outside the reach of my short little arms, my baby lets it go. If you've ever had the pleasure of putting playdoh through one of those squisher machines OR (queasy alert) watched the ice cream machine at your local dairy parlor, it was like that in 200x motion. But with some much volume coming so fast and with NO CLEAN DIAPER under his bum. What I did next came naturally: to save the car, I used my hand to catch the poo. Mike used his hand to clutch his mouth so I wouldn't hear him laughing myniacally.

There is no amount of time that can purge this memory from my mind. Mike, hands unaffected by playdoh boy, enjoyed his dip cone. I developed a new respect for playdoh, baby wipes and disinfecting gel.

Friends, there are few truths that equal this: parenting ain't for sissies. Or the squeamish.


Some Grandpas are nice old guys who worked so long and hard that they really couldn't give a rat's rear end about EVER moving out of their Barcalounger, save to use the pee-pot or to go to bed. They ALWAYS have a stain on their shirt or pants because they eat dinner (and lunch) off a TV tray while watching reruns of old fishing shows. TV tray + Barcalounger = lots of spills.

Some Grandpas hit a funky place in life where they think they are sixteen again and try to learn the language of the day. It always comes out something like this: "Hey, sweet cheeks! Wanna grab a tall one and make like a baby and HEAD OUT?" The only thing that saves Grandpas like this from getting decked is the fact they are cute, in a baby-bald Eagle kinda way.

Some Grandpas kind of check out of their brain somewhere along the way and can't find their pants to save the farm. If they own a shirt, it is unbuttoned, save the bottom hole, which manages to hold on for dear life in the wind. Gut sticking out is standard.

But, some Grandpas are the sweetest men you'd like to ever meet. They savor your every thought, listen carefully and wonder at how intelligent you are for your age, and tell you stories about when they were young, which are always interesting and make you smile. You hang on their every word and they hang on yours. They walk, using a cane, across a busy street to eat lunch with you at the local diner, even though they don't want much more than cottage cheese and peaches and to see you enjoy your meal. When your family moves 1000 miles away and you can't see each other much anymore, Grandpa's like this decide it is time to die. And they do. And a small piece of you dies with them. And you still remember and cry, 30 years later.

That's the best kind of Grandpa to have. I'm lucky, because that's the kind of Grandpa I got.

I miss you, Grandpa Robbie. Kisses.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Handling childhood injuries via your freezer...

After reading an article about the "miracles of ice", I had to give this bonehead idea a shot. The premise was that any injury that wasn't going to have to be set, sewn, or operated upon could be "cured" almost instantly by ice.

Stick this in your frontal lobe: we determined where to put Mike's office in our new house using baby's lungs in an empty room. We literally closed the door* between what would become the TV/family room and the back hallway, then shut ANOTHER door to the proposed office. Then we let little one scream; I swear, the hounds of Hell were barking like mad. We both looked at each other and wondered, "Genetically, who contributed the LOUD gene?"** And we instantly determined that the back room of the house would NOT be the best place for Mike to office.

But, I digress. The point of this story is ice. I tell you about the noise factor to help you understand that we have two other boys who both can be just as loud as the babe. And when they are injured***, it sounds like both death and destruction have been loosed. Which brings us back to the ice.

So, I started responding to every injury in the same way (assuming I didn't see blood, gaping wounds, or internal organs) "I'm sorry that happened to you. Would you like some ice?"

Friends, pack up the station wagon and head out, 'cause this scientific experiment is OVER and I'M the bonehead! This tactic WORKS! Every time I've offered ice to an injured son, he has accepted. And shouting/crying/wailing has ceased.

Here's another juicy tidbit (and totally scientific, to boot):
The ice only gets used as much as the ego is bruised****.

One recent night, for example, one of my sweet guys walked out of the bathroom and straight into the door molding*****. Hard. I was expecting blood. So was he. I immediately got the ice and he was back to normal in about .53 seconds.

Who knew "EUREKA!" would be followed by "Ice!"?

*Not just any door, a fire-rated door, thus extra thick....

**Jill: "Him." Mike: "Her."

***And, Heaven forbid, it is simultaneously, as in "He hit me with a stick when I tried to whack him with the pool noodle"

****Resident poet, MommaJ, at the mic tonight....

*****Now, I KNOW who contributed the CLUMSY gene. But, I'm not telling you.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HGTV's unfortunate programming decision

If you are like me, inspiration comes at odd hours and I often don't have control over it. Take the night/morning this blog was born: I created the site and wrote six entries right then. Who knew I had so much pent up writing inside of me?

Which brings me to my topic: HGTV. I love HGTV. I pretty much love anything that has to do with decorating, redecorating, looking at houses, cooking, etc. But, the people at HGTV have made a colossal mistake. Or, maybe they just don't get people like me*; if they did, at 3am they wouldn't put up that heinous message that says "Good Night from HGTV" and turn the station over for TWO AND A HALF HOURS to "Paid Programming" (Billy Mays will live on FOREVER if I can't get this oversight corrected! Oh, the horrors.)

I'm reduced to either:

1) putting the pedal to the metal and getting the project done without the fun of watching Candice Olson, The Iron Chef, or Carter Oosterhouse while I work -OR-

2) going to bed and not being able to sleep because I haven't finished my project.

Is there a good answer here, folks? I think not.

So, later today, after my tall cuppajoe, a good workout at the gym, and a few cartoons*, I'll attack this problem by sending HGTV an email detailing how their messed up programming is having a negative impact on my life.

Do you think they'll give a YIP?

*In about four hours I'll be stopping by Exxon for my 24-ounce coffee. And my bladder WON'T thank me.....

**A treat for the kids; sleepytime for Mom!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What are we having for breakfast/lunch/dinner?

I don't know what it is about this question that just sends my blood boiling. It's on par with "are we there yet?" which is just a step down from the non-stop "WHY?" of a three-year old.

Typically, when one of my kids asks this, he thinks he is on the verge of DYING OF HUNGER. As if we live in a remote village, far, far away from the nearest source of rice and clean water and we must start walking NOW. As if the last meal didn't come in a timely manner and, since the last meal, I've been rendered armless, adding more time between meals, further complicating the issue of dying of hunger before age ten.

So, I slapped a rule onto the "What are we having for MEAL D'JOUR?": DON'T ASK BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO TELL!!!

Yes, I have become the meanest-Mommy-on-planet-Earth and FORCE my kids to wait until they are seated at the table to find out what's on the menu. This has served two VERY important purposes:
1. I've stopped being asked the most overused question in culinary history.*
2. I've stopped the (in)voluntary facial responses** about what will be placed on the table should the inquisitioner ever stop asking me this question and will actually let me cook!

Yes, I said it. My kids don't always like what I make. In fact, they wrinkle their noses more than I wish. And, they comment. Lots. "I don't like carrots". "We had that last December". "WHYYYYYY?"

If I don't volunteer the information before their bums hit the seats, they haven't a clue what glorious tidbits are coming their way and, more importantly, by the time I am placing platters and bowls on the table, I have backup! In the form of Mike. Who will SHUT THEM DOWN.

To give my boys credit where credit is most definitely due: they are often thankful for the bounty placed before them and say so, not only to me but to God. Those times when they forget to thank me, I'm reminded that I'm not always thankful "in all times and all places", but that I'm awfully blessed to live in a country where I can consistently put healthy food on the table for my family.

Even if they won't willingly eat it....

*I so feel for you, poor restaurant laborers, who are forced to entertain the endless question "what are the specials tonight?"

**I've never once announced the following meal: "We're having boiled goose kidneys with beet salad in tarragon sauce surrounded by poached eggs. OH, and rutabaga. Raw." So, what gives with the screwed up facial expressions?

Sarcastic Writing 101

I recently read a letter from someone I've never even met, sent to me by someone else I know really well. Now, I have an opinion about this person I've never met* because he shoots off on any topic, regardless of whether he has a clue about it or not. You know the type: he thinks he can tell his wife how to birth children because he's watched an episode of "A Birth Story". He repairs the house based on being a "Home Improvement" junkie. He saw Jet Li across the airport at LAX, made a jackass out of himself by screaming to get Mr Li's attention, and now thinks they are "acquainted.** You've met him. And he drives you bonkers.

Now stop comparing him to ME.

So, this person has an opinion about a certain local issue. He doesn't really have a good point, just an opinion with a lot of fluff around it, but cobbles this nonsense together to form a letter. Then, he sends it to every politician from Amarillo to Brownsville.

Now, I am all for sharing your opinion*** but please bring at least two brain cells to the conversation, K? Case in point: I was completely ignorant back in Junior High****. While watching the news with my parents, I actually thought I had enough information to comment, ABOUT APARTHEID, "Why don't those people stop griping?" The hole in my parent's faces proved that your lower jaw CAN spontaneously disconnect from the rest of your skull and fall to the floor with a thud. Thankfully, my parents didn't immediately write me off; my father explained the error of my thinking and I learned a BIG history lesson. And, a bit about arguing a point, too.

So, back to our sponsor, Mr. Know-it-All. With everything his mind could muster, he wrote this letter about the injustices being committed upon humanity. It was a tour-de-force of thin-spun nothingness. Arguments that would make you stop and go "Huh?" And, after emptying his brain into this epistle, he signed it "Regards". REGARDS? Not, "Your angry constituent" or "Disappointed in Dallas"? No, "Regards", for crying out loud!

This is tantamount to sending a letter to Proctor and Gamble explaining how the phrase "have a happy period" on a tampon box is beyond annoying, only to sign with a smiley face.***** Kind of takes the teeth out of it, huh?

TSK, TSK, TSK. Obviously, letter writers in this country don't know diddly about sarcasm, so allow moi to give you a bit of an ed-u-macation****** with a couple of pithy examples:

Example #1:
Leaving me in the parking lot with a dozen inebriated friends of yours with libidos the size of New York was NOT a wise idea. I'm sure you'll understand that I WON'T be paying the hospital bill for Lee's arm, especially after you told me how much you loved bragging to him about the fact that I'm more of a karate master than he. Apparently, Lee missed that conversation.

Choose the most appropriate closing:
1. See you tonight!
2. Kiss my very dark black belt,
3. Hugs and kisses :)

If you chose 1 or 3, read on. If you chose 2, call me and I'll share the Halloween-from-Hades story with you. No joking.

Example #2:
Dear Sirs--
I am returning the flat iron I ordered from your company for a full refund, per your TV commercials. Included with this letter are beautician bills to cover the cost of adding hair extensions after your product managed to reduce my tresses to two inches over every bit of my scalp. If I don't receive both a) a full-refund for your cheap piece of junk AND b) a check made payable to "Vicki's Clip and Curl", I will have my attorney's office contact you forthwith.

Close with:
1. Burning up
2. Balls in your court
3. Most sincerely

Boring, predictable, yet ever in style, number 3 wins the day. Though, I think number 1 is awfully clever.

Hopefully you've learned a couple of things today:
1. Your blogger friend hasn't always been smart OR witty. Your arguments and opinions about my current state of intelligence/ingenuity are welcome when you bring carrot cake as part of the discussion.

2. If you write a letter then forward it on thinking you made a great point, you better have made a great point. If not, you are subject to anonymous blog ridicule.

Write on, people!

*He's a complete bonehead.

**And, on a first-name basis!

***No comments from the peanut gallery, please. Especially you, Mom and Dad.

****And no smarty-pants comments about my CURRENT ignorance....

*****This statement REALLY is appearing on tampon boxes. Just don't get caught pilfering through your neighbor's cabinets if your cheap rear buys generic tampons and you are too curious to spend the extra coin to check it out in the privacy of your own home.

******Not to be confused with an education, which would come from a professional. Which I am not.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Let me preface this by saying...if you are my parents, Mike's parents, or are otherwise squeamish about the fact that Mike and I actually do have S*E*X with each other, please logoff my blog today and don't read another sentence.

If, however, you grew up in the 80's and received your sex education from the likes of Madonna, can watch a tampon commercial without turning red, and/or think that "Sex and the City: The Movie" contains some hysterical content, this entry is for VOUS. Read on.

Today, (surprise, surprise*) we have work going on in our house. Day number 150 in our renovation**. Painters are back, this time to torture us with the smell of "Spun Sugar"*** in the dining room and "Mercer Blue" in Mike's office.

As Freddie**** was prepping the office, he discovered that the fan blades were right in the way of some of his work. He tried, unsuccessfully, to use the two screwdrivers in his possession, but they were too long and kept hitting the ceiling. Being the busybody I am, I decided to spring into action to help.

I hit the door of Mike's pseudo-office*****, verified he wasn't on the phone and excitedly asked, "Do you have a stubby, short screwdriver?" Then, I about peed my britches when I realized what I said. For about three minutes I laughed hysterically. Crying, I was. Hard.****** When I finished, Mike looked at me and said "No, no I don't." Off I went again. Guffawing, I tell you. I'm dewy-eyed just thinking back on it.

I learned something REALLY important today:

Men: should your lady ever ask a silly question about your privates, just wait for her to start laughing hysterically. More than likely she's just trying to help Freddie.

Ladies: if you are going to ask a question that sounds like your are referencing your man's privates, it better be followed by belly-lurching laughter. It will TOTALLY get you off the hook AND save your marriage at the same time.

And, if you ask poorly planned questions like me, be sure both of you are fully-dressed and NOWHERE NEAR the bedroom.

*Said like Gomer Pyle. Since you KNOW you LOVE that funky accent and you can't resist yourself, go ahead and say it. I'll wait.

**For the hundredth time: NO, this is not a gut job; just updates. You haven't missed the housewarming party because it HASN'T HAPPENED YET!!!!!

***You'd think, by the name, it would be edible. It isn't.

****Name changed to protect an innocent bystander who has no idea he has become an unwilling victim of yours truly.

*****Folding table in the corner of the back bedroom that isn't suitable for a permanent office due to loud children.....

******SO glad I ran out of time for mascara this morning.

The burning question: WHATZUP W/ THE *****?

In case you haven't noticed*, I am a fan of the *.** This all began when Mike took me to a Barnes and Noble on a "married" date***. I was cruising through some section and noticed a book with a cute outline of a dress on the cover and, upon reading a few sentences, realized it was quite possibly the funniest book I'd ever read!**** Literally, my post-birth bladder couldn't handle it and we almost had an accident.*****

ANYHOO, this book had a * after almost every sentence. I could hardly wait for the next * to reference me to the bottom of the page where another morsel of hysterical sidenote had been written. This literally SPOKE to me.******

So, thanks to a married date, you are forced to make a choice:

1. Read through my blog entries, ignoring the *'s, and enjoy the comments at the end
2. Everytime you see a *, move the slider bar to the bottom and try to locate the pithy comment that accompanies the *.*******

Aren't you glad I solved THAT mystery for you?********

*Immediately return to the first post and OPEN YOUR EYES.

**The single * at the end of the sentence wasn't a reference. But I guess you figured that out? Smart, smart readers.....

***You know the kind: Dinner, movie, Barnes and Noble. The stop at BN is only because you hired a sitter and it would seem goofy to return home at 8pm on a Saturday night. Shoot--8pm used to be when you got started SHOWERING when you were dating as a single. Plus, every minute you stay out past your kid's bedtime is one more minute they have to fall asleep before you arrive. Hence, going to Barnes and Noble is something like foreplay!

****Jen Lancaster is a wordsmith AND a diva.

*****Notice I didn't write "I almost had an accident" but "WE almost had an accident". THAT would be the royal WE, as in me and Mike, because, had my bladder burst on the spot I sure wouldn't be running for the first available employee to "clean up the spill on aisle 5", I'd be sprinting to the bathroom with my contraband book, bounding through the doors setting off the "book alarm", so I could hold in the silver button on the wind tunnel hand dryer while thrusting my pelvis forward to try and dry my peepee pants. Thus, I would already HAVE a job and Mike would get to make the embarrassing walk to the service desk and do the honors on that one!! Now THAT'S a royal WEE.

******And, I bet, you are completely digging it, aren't you????

*******Blogger does not accept responsibility for reader's whiplash, carpel tunnel syndrome, or my inability to humor you.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

When you smell it you should just get out of bed...

One morning this week, I was awoken to an oh-so-familiar smell, the kind that doesn't exactly conjuire up happy thoughts upon waking. But, first let me set the scene...

Monday we had two fun things occuring in our house: interior painting AND the delivery of a new washer/dryer. The kids were giddy with delight when the delivery men let them have the "big" boxes. Boxes=forts in a boy's world, so they began to drag every pillow, blanket and toy they could find into their newly created universe of cardboard. The fun lasted all of ten minutes, then their attentions were diverted to something else, leaving me kidless and with a choice:

1. Be bothered by mess and clean it up myself*

2. Let the mess lie (I love WHEN HARRY MET SALLY!!!**)

I chose #2, so there sat the fine packaging from the W/D set of my dreams, all day, into the night, with nary a change to its initial creation.

But not to forget the painters: since this was the second time we had used this crew***, we were so comfortable with their work that neither Mike nor I thought to ask if we should remove anything from middle brother's room (where the boys were all sleeping due to flooring being installed). Did I mention that these guys do a REALLY good job of covering every conceivable inch of area in a room that won't get painted? I'm talking HERMETICALLY sealed here, people. As in, "you can't go in and nothing can get out." Sadly, by the time we realized this, all THREE mattresses were draped in plastic and enough painter's tape to wrap around the globe at least two dozen times.

So, where should the boys sleep? HMMM. How about Camp W/D? In Mommy and Daddy's room! Wow, aren't we brilliant. With three college degrees between us, you'd think we'd have more of these "ah-ha" moments. Perfect solution: the kids were thrilled, beds were made in boxes, and all went to sleepyland with nary a problem.

Fast forward to a much-too-early alarm and that smell (can't you smell that smell?) Then a small voice: "Mommy, I stepped in poopoo."

OK, folks, I can handle being woken up after three hours of sleep, but there is something downright unsavory about being told you have to pop out of bed to deal with poo.

Turns out, the fort dwellers woke early, uncaged both dogs, and one (who will go unnamed, DOUG), decided to relieve himself on the carpet in oldest's room, nary a six inch distance from SOLID FLOORING. Baby boy had managed to squash Doug's excrement into the carpet and in between his sweet (temporarily stinky) toes.

This is when I truly understood the value of having an extra box of wipeys on hand, even after potty-training is long over. Thankfully, this led to an easy clean-up and another few minutes back in bed before the snooze went off.

Doug, on the other hand, was sent, in shame, to the backyard. I think I heard him chanting "Dead dog, walking". Fortunately, he is just so darn cute......

*Usual dumb choice, which will lead to daughters-in-law who despise me because my sons will never learn to clean up after themselves....

**Have I mentioned yet that I deal with bunny trails in my brain?

***Long story, maybe another post. If you must know, email me.....

Saturday, July 18, 2009


You know how some birthday years are just BLAH? Take, for instance, 14. The previous year, when you turned 13, THAT was a biggee: you became a teenager, had a big party at the skating rink with all 500 of your BESTEST friends, and instantly became, as your Mom put it* "all grown up." What's left for 14???

So, as your 14th birthday creeps closer**, you start to hear comments like "Gee, Marge***, that sure was an EXPENSIVE party we threw last year!" or "I hear COOL teenagers all around America are having parties at home with their Dads as DJs!"****. That's when you know it's a "no-count" birthday.

That's pretty much what I'm feeling about 43. I'm not hatin' on this birthday or anything, it's just a "no-count"-er. Here are a few reasons why:

1. If Mike planned a big party, I'd be completely exhausted by it. I still love the idea of a few dozen people getting together, but, these days, I'd have to take a nap before I even THOUGHT about who to invite.

2. Cake. Glorious cake. Plus, leftover cake. I dream about good cake, but my thighs really can't handle the thought. They'd burst out in cottage cheese patterns for the next twenty years after all that sugar. Really, I'm better off with one of those cute, faddish, demi-desserts at a chain restaurant. You know them--the ones in the shot-glasses? For me, they are a generous bite. And only cause a slight thigh dimple.

3. I truly don't have any good gift ideas. IS THAT MESSED UP OR WHAT? I thought you had to be in your Polident years to not have a behemoth list hidden in a side pocket of your purse. But, I'm completely tapped. My friend asked me for ideas and I came up with one: a hammock.***** Yeah, I know, LAME. I'm 43, what can I say?

4. For the next 9 months and 8 days, I will officially be 4 years older than Mike again. As in, "Hey, Jill!" (ha, ha) "Do you know what grade I was in when you were a SENIOR in High School?" Torture, I tell you, torture.

Now, on Sunday, I'm going to violate every one of these four reasons for not getting excited, because that's what I do on my birthday (or anybody else's, for that matter.) I'm going to remind Mike that he was a lowly 8th grader when I was a Senior and that, darn, is he lucky that I'm enough of a COUGAR to prowl after him. I'm going to eat cake. LOTS of it.****** And, then, hopefully, I'm going to take a nap in my new hammock, and dream of what adventures we'll go on when I turn 44, after the exhausting party with 500 of my BESTEST friends.

Happy Birthday, me!!!

*With a tear in her eye.

**The date, stealthy circled on the family calendar, in red Sharpie. By YOU.

***Nobody I know has a Mom named Marge--save Bart Simpson--so I figured this was an
ultra-safe moniker.

****Hysterically funny examples for illustration only. Do not resemble comments made by my parents, Mike's parents, or any of our friend's parents. EVER.

*****To nap in whilst I produce a list for next year's non-party. 44--blah.

******Followed by gallons of water and nothing but fish for food, the proper sacrifice to quell angry, spongy thighs.

Texting and manholes

From the department of "You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried" comes this gem of a story...

Young girl is walking down the street, texting on a friend's phone, not looking at the ground in front of her, falls into an uncovered manhole. (In case you fear broken bones and such, I'll put your mind at rest and let you know she's fine save a few scratches.)

Now, we are talking a TEENAGER here. Remember being one of those? If you were like me, I was embarrassed at the slightest hint of being a dufus. Tripping over a curb might send me under the covers for the evening. But, no, not this girl.

Somehow, the NATIONAL NEWS picks up on this story and she and her Mother are sitting across from two TV anchors with very serious, worried looks on their faces, trying to uncover the MAN EATING HOLES IN THE GROUND conspiracy that appears to have started on plant Earth. After giving sweetie pie and her Mom enough leverage to pick up a hundred pound boulder, they ask the inevitable: "Are you going to press charges/sue?"*

As I am watching this trainwreck of over-the-top-reporting-involving-a-non-incident, I am glad to hear Mom say she isn't planning to press charges, "at this time". To which teenage daughter, with sage wisdom, no doubt passed on to her from the lawyer-in-the-box they consulted says, "I just don't want this to happen to anybody else."

To hear Baby Jessica utter that comment would make me cry. But this non-observant young lady is awfully lucky she didn't end up with more than a bruised back and scratched arm.

Strangely, though, I am guessing we'll be hearing Chapter 2 of this story, aptly titled "The Lawsuit", for which all of us taxpayers will have to pitch in our few cents to pay off the "emotional damages" inflicted on this child.

People, please do us all a favor and don't text and walk/drive/eat unless you have a seeing eye dog with you who can steer you around the scary open manhole covers.

*One of the things I'd change in this world is our propensity to sue at the drop of a hat (or teenager--padumdum.)

Friday, July 17, 2009


After accepting an invitation to join our beloved friends and their kids on the beach for a weekend getaway, I realized (GADS) that I would be required to put on a bathing suit AND wear it IN PUBLIC. Mind you, after three kids and 42 (almost 43) years, my body just ain't what it used to be. Long gone are the days that my brother's friends thought I was "hot". Even with a pool in our backyard, I have only donned my six year old swimsuit twice this year, and only in front of my boys and husband (and dogs).

My friend had great advice "Everyone will be having so much fun they won't care what you look like". I'm sure she's right, I just don't want the whales to get too close to shore and make that sad, low sound, trying to call me back into the deep, blue water, far away from shore....

So, Tuesday night, for the second time in our married life, I made FISH. Tilapia to be exact. And Mike excused himself from dinner and ate cow.

You might think I'd be bitter about this, but I'm not, based on the first time I insisted we eat fish together, to which he thoughtfully replied, "Honey, I don't eat fish. EVER." Being newlywed, an eternal optimist and an aspiring part-time chef, I thought I could win him over with a great white sauce and a cute dress, thus overcoming his chief complaint: "fishy taste".

The first bite was great! Mike "loved the sauce" and didn't remember the "texture of fish being this good". I was victorious! And was already going through my mental Rolodex of fish recipes clipped from magazines past*. My dreams of fish baking, frying, sauting, and blackening came to a screeching halt when I looked across the table and saw my sweetie pie SPITTING HIS FISH INTO HIS NAPKIN. AFTER THE FIRST BITE!

What had happened? Had I veered from the recipe? Too much pepper? Too much wine?

Too much fish, it turned out.

So, in making tilapia last night, I was working to influence a second generation of Nowells to embrace fish. Thankfully, this time, I won over two of three (and, quite possibly, the dog that the other one fed.)

Happily, my quest for a "new" body by July 31st had started...with fish.

*Incidentally, a real OCD problem for me. If you need to know how to braise calf brain, I've got the recipe clipped.....

Harry Potter and the very long movie....

Allow me to play critic for just a wee bit because, dang it, I simply didn't watch enough movies growing up to be able to land this kind of gig.* But, if there is a cush job to be had, it is the life of a movie reviewer.

Sample day:
10am: Wake up after retiring to bed the previous night at 10pm. Throw on hat and drive to theater. Show all important movie critic "badge" and get in free. Cough up enough cha-ching for a bucket of popcorn and schooner of Coke.
11am: Watch movie. Eat every bit of popcorn (w/ added butter flavor) and slurp down Coke. Make obnoxious noises trying to get the last drop of liquid sugar out of cup. Scream "Kiss my grits. I'm a movie critic." when a fellow movie-goer asks you to stop your quest for an empty cup. Other patron apologizes. Smile smugly.
11:15am: Refill popcorn (extra butter, please) and Coke (bonus: tanked on caffeine, never need to pay Starbucks for a cuppa hot java!)
1pm: Finish movie, whip out laptop, write three paragraphs, send to editor, close laptop. Done with work for the day!!! Congratulate self for making it through another demanding assignment.
1:05pm: Stop at loo on way out--make mental note to STOP REFILLING COKE CUPS THAT ARE THE SIZE OF INFANT HEADS. Drive car to spa.
1:15pm-9:15pm: Soak up every bit of spa-licious goodness money can buy. Have dinner brought in (on management, of course, because you are DA MOVIE CRITIC.) Fall asleep like a baby on massage table for three hours due to caffeine crash and dangerously clogged arteries from fake butter on popcorn. Unlike other schmoes, enjoy the nap because you aren't disturbed by anybody. Drive home.
10pm: Hit bed, wondering how you made it through such a bone-crushing day. Snoring by 10:10pm.

Yeah, that's the life. If I could have done this when I was single, life would have been SCH-WEET.

But, back to the issue at hand....Our date tonight, at my suggestion, included a showing of the newest Harry Potter movie**. It clocked in just between "too short to create a credible alibi for any crime"*** and "too long to qualify as a nap". The characters (shock, horror) pretty much looked the same as the last time I was drug to one of these movies, they had just aged.

Two items to note:
1. Somehow every one of the main three teenage characters didn't have a pimple in sight. Frankly, Harry's skin was positively glowing and radiant. I'd swear he was pregnant if I hadn't heard he had a nude scene in some play over the pond and there were witnesses to him being male.
Incidentally, I think zitless teenagers are a bane to society. It just isn't right to pass through the bottomless pit between 13 and 19 without having to squeeze SOMETHING on your face.
I fully expect, no DEMAND, that zits be FEATURED in the next movie. Cripes! If Harry can have that gosh-awful scar on his forehead, one boil-size pustule should be nuttin'.

2. Helena Bonham-Carter is perfectly matched with Tim Burton. Freak show on heels. I'm betting she dresses like that for REAL. And Tim LIKES IT. EWWWWW.

The plot was pretty much the same as last time. Still trying to find Valdemort****.

Language was all in funky British accents. If they cussed, it went straight over my dumb American head.

As you would guess with teenage characters in the plot, there was a little bit of sexually angst. Make that ALOT, at least for one girl, who was so after Ron that I wanted to yell "Are you blind? Daft? What? Please, open your eyes and look at him. Then conversate. You'll change your mind, pronto." Total buzz kill, that boy. Harry and Ron's sis flirt, but I'm not going further*****. Hermoine finally gets her guy (semi-plot spoiler, if, like me, you've never read the books: she and the crazy girl both need glasses), though I was really hoping she'd go after the cute boy so we could see more of him.

Magical elements strangely missing from this movie, save some anorexic bottom dwellers who try to kill Harry. In one scene, I kept waiting for the pictures on the wall to move (ok, that was worth the price of admission the first time I saw it!) and they never did. Later, I understood why and went "DUH".

So, all-in-all, good movie, not great movie. Follows book according to hubster but not enough book details per babysitter.

Oh, and I have popcorn grease stains on my shirt and four new cavities from the LARGE Coke. I HATE that.

*Unless, of course, you consider my crush on ANYTHING John Hughes made back in the 80's. I could critique those movies TO DEATH. Still in love with Ducky and Andrew McCarthy--love you, Mike :)

**Which I felt obligated to view because one of our kids is a huge fan and has been counting down the days until the movie came out and I've become the "uncool" parent I said I'd never be and I preview everything that doesn't seem pure as driven snow. He is so seriously caught up in the release date that, when he realized my birthday was in proximity of the opening, he said "Hey, Mom. Did you know your birthday is four days AFTER the opening of Harry Potter?". To which I wanted to respond "Hey, pal. Did you realize I was born 42 years and 361 days BEFORE this movie was ever played in a theater?" Being the good Mom I am, I held my tongue. Literally.

***Though I did do the shifty thing multiple times--you know, where you change from legs dangling off the seat to one foot under your posterior to criss-cross-applesauce. Incidentally, why do adults think we can still sit Indian style? Our boo-tah muscles outgrew that several decades ago.

****Yes, I wrote it. Does that SCARE you? Valdemort, Valdemort, Valdemort. Still here.

*****But, did THEY? Inquiring minds have to pony up $9.50 plus concessions to answer THAT question.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Not Now-ell

In case you wonder about the name of this blog, the mystery is really shallow and pretty boring, but I'll share it with you under the guise:

"Maybe someday you'll be on Who Wants to Be a Millionare and this will be one of the answers and you'll be able to use this information to claim the million dollars, from which I'll ask for my 10% cut". Now you know the REAL motivation....

When I was creating this blog site, there was an ad for something that used the phrase "Not Now". At the time I was being prompted for a blog page title and that seemed just as good as anything else I might come up with, so I tried to claim said title, to no avail (some brilliant person ahead of me had already done so). It occured to me that with an added hypen and the "ell" we'd have our last name and, wha-la, here we are.

In case you are wondering, I also wanted NOT NOW because I seem to use that phrase with astounding frequency. (Before you go and get all uppity on me, listen to see how many times a day you use this phrase, too!)

Most definitely, this answer is something I want to use less rather than more. I don't like putting the kids off until later, but sometimes life demands it ("Not now, Mommy is in the bathroom having a nervous breakdown because you just poured water on the computer keyboard and the only copy of our financial records for the past seven years is on the hard drive.") And, sometimes, Mommy's really need a personal timeout. AMEN?!

So, there you have it, the birth of a blog (just don't tell my youngest or he might break out the anatomically correct language on me.....)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is this what they do in insane asylums, take 1.5

Your fair blogger hit PUBLISH POST instead of SAVE NOW and didn't have time to correct the word COUPDEGRAS (from coudegras).

In any case, the washer and dryer still rock.....

Is this what they do in insane asylums?

After the arrival of our new washer and dryer, I was about giddy with excitement to use the new workhorses. They promised 18 minute washes and 18 minute dries! NEVER, in all of my life, had I had the privilege of using a W/D set that wouldn't cause me to do the laundry basket shuffle, commonly known as "a reason to curse in at least seventeen languages and cultures". You know the shuffle:

a. first load in washer finishes..start clothes in second load in washer.
b. second load in washer finishes..unload clothes into basket..check load in dryer (never done)..expectantly place third load in washer.
c. third load finishes in washer..unload clothes into SECOND basket..check load in dryer (ALMOST done)..curse while you place fourth load in washer.
d. fourth load finishes in washer..out of baskets..dryer is done but clothes are wrinkled beyond belief. Vow to iron them before folding/hanging.
e. notice time..carpool, dinner, homework, bedtime, favorite TV show, bed.

Fast forward to following day, which collapses sometime between the alarm going off and getting out of bed; midday, make a mental note to do laundry in the morning.

Finally, two days later, discover a wrinkled mess in the dryer from sitting two nights in the machine. Find basket of laundry mildewed along with load left in washing machine.

Leave laundry room, head directly to kitchen. Find chocolate chips left from before Christmas; consume immediately. Chase with spray can of whipping cream. Vow to find a reputable cleaner who does laundry by the pound.

That pretty much informs my entire married life with kids and laundry, though I was always too cheap to send my clothes out.

But, back to the coudegra of washers and dryers. Eighteen minutes, I tell you, eighteen glorious minutes. I have visions of saving the day when one of the boys spills syrup on his last clean school shirt/shorts ("I'm only 36 minutes away from getting you off to school, sport!")

So, I sat on the floor of the laundry room and watched this glory happen. It was awe-inspiring: the miniscual amount of water, the little bit of HE soap, the amazingly fast spin cycle, the thoughtful light button that let me witness this beauty. It was cotton/polyester nirvana. And I sat through every last second until...the machine broke. Yup. Proudly displayed an error message and "877" number*. Mike said all he heard was "NNNNOOOOO". It was so pathetic sounding that he knew something was wrong.

Oh, curse you, laundry fairies!

*Once I'm past the trauma of the next several sets of phone calls that ensued, I might blog about that joy, but for now, just know that yours truly, was not a happy camper. LOTS of chocolate chips were consumed.

Mommy's Day Massage (done by a professional, of course)

Over breakfast, on Mother's Day, we all got into a discussion about my upcoming massage. Now, mind you, it has been approximately thirteen years since my last massage* and I woke up at 6am ready to leave the house to make the 30 minute drive for my 2pm appointment.

So, back at the breakfast table, the discussion begins with a simple inquiry:

"Mommy, is a man or a woman going to do your massage?"

I quickly respond "I don't know."

(Brain wheels turning, breakfast kicking into bloodstream, questions forming....)

"Will you be naked?" (Geez, where do kids come UP with this stuff?)

"Well, yes, except for my panties."

To which my sweet baby responds "You can't do that! It's illegal for him to see your 'gina."

WHOA HORSEY! Did you just refer to my privates? You are THREE for crying out loud! Guess we should have had that "talk" with your older brothers out of earshot?!?


Well, young Padawan, you'll be glad to know that a WOMAN did my massage and she didn't see anything untoward.

And, you sir, aren't allowed to use that word again until you are MARRIED!

*OK, more like 12 years...minus 2 divided by 5, but who is counting anyway?

In case you are worried

Between the Nowell and Huber houses, there are plenty of stories to tell and retell that are absolutely side-splitting. If you add in our friends, you have enough ammunition to run a comedy club.

HOWEVER, in case you are visiting for the first time and fall into a catagory above, I don't want you to worry that I'm going to put one of your stories on this blog and finger you as the "fool who _____". Rest easy knowing I will never intentionally try to embarass you and am working under the self-constraint that I will keep names out of the blog, except for mine and Mike's.

HOWEVER*, I do reserve the right to tell stories and leave your name out or change it to protect your 1) identity 2) ego 3) life outside of prison walls.

IF you don't fall under one of the two catagories then I likely won't write about you and you, too, can rest easy.

IF* this blog scares you, don't try to become 1) related to me or 2) my friend.

*I like this word, as you can tell. However, it really is overused. However, it also the perfect little escape hatch when you want to leave that .001% chance that what you're saying is refutable.

**I DON'T like this word, mostly because it reminds me of Bill Clinton's ridiculous argument about the word "is".

Here goes nothing...

Truly, when you live with 4 boy-men and two male dogs, on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, you think you've heard/seen/smelled/tasted/touched it all. That is until

1) you put the boys to bed (or timeout--equally as ghastly)

2) someone throws the gauntlet by daring someone else to do/say something completely inappropriate -or-

3) you are woken in the morning, only to have the adventure start all over again.

When I'm talking beginning again at the crack of dawn, you need to think of some whacked version of "Groundhog Day". Yet, unlike Bill Murray, I have little/no control around here.* I may wear the crown, but my kids often confuse it with a jester hat. The kind of day I refer to is knee-deep in "what-the-heck-was-that?", "your brother is WHERE?", (pleading voice) "please tell me you are kidding" stuff that Mother's remember, even when they have Alzheimer's and don't remember your given name. As in, "Sonny boy over there used to pull his pants down in the backyard and water the plants", screamed with ear piercing amplification in the hall of the nursing home. Yes, boys, your day is coming. Probably sooner than I think or you realize.

Were it not for the love of my world, Mike, this all would be nearly impossible and quite possibly unbearable. Please hear me loud and clear: I LOVE my boys. They love life with gusto and lots of bodily noises. They try stuff just to see what will happen (and with no forethought or worry of consequences). They catch lizards and throw them in the pool to see if they can swim (they can't. Even if they "should have been taught" by the last drowned lizard.) In short: they're BOYS. And I'm wild about them.

So, here I am, posting about life in general. I warn you that some days I am going to post some pretty funky, ultra-conservative opinions. Some weeks I'll just vent about the latest issues in my life. Some times I won't post anything. That, to me, is what life is about: never knowing what you'll get, but being glad God put you here anyway.


*And, while I would dearly LOVE to devour a table full of fattening foods in one sitting, the water-retaining, dimple-inducing side of me KNOWS better.