Monday, August 31, 2009

Cellular Hades

Saturday mornings are supposed to peaceful. They are supposed to be leisurely. They are NOT supposed to include copious numbers of phone calls.

But, I get ahead of my story.....

This morning I gave my cell phone to one of my sons, who was going to the end of the block. The reason I gave him the phone in the first place was that he had just returned from a friend's house and left his other brother there. Other brother was sitting on the porch of this house waiting AN HOUR for his friend to return.

Now, as a Mother, I think this is patently uncool. If there was a kid sitting on MY front porch for an hour I'd feel guilty and, simultaneously, obligated to invite him in for crafts and cookies*.

So, I sent son skipping up the street, cell phone in hand, to retrieve his brother.

I know, from past experience, when one brother tries to tell the other brother something Mom said, the conversation goes like this:

Brother one: "Mom said blah, blah, blah, blah. And come home."
Brother two: "I don't have to."
Brother one: "YES YOU DO. Mom SAID so."
Brother two (head moving like a fishing bobber in a monsoon): "No I DOUGH-OH-N'T."
Brother one (practically reduced to tears): "But Mom SAID SO."
Brother two: "I don't care."

At this point, Brother one runs home, crying, and reports conversation. Now I have to take my portly butt up the street and drag Brother two home, by the ear. This inconvenience is the VERY REASON I sent Brother one in the first place.

But, I digress. Back to our previous scheduled post: With cell phone in his hot little hand, I figure "I'll reason with Brother two via phone and I won't have to exercise a bit! Brilliant." And, it seemed this plan was going to work, as a phone call indicated that porch-waiting-worthy friend had come home early and everyone was playing peacefully.

My phone, however, soon became an instrument of irritation. Every few minutes I got another phone call. Nice strategy, dipthong.

Phone call one: "Mom? He's torturing me." (Resolved by threatening other brother with an entire day of time-out.)

Two minutes lapse.

Phone call two: "Can I have the (name of latest DS game)?" (Yes, if it is age-appropriate, Daddy also wants this game, and you've saved enough money.**)

One minutes lapses.

Phone call three: "Mom, if he gets (name of latest DS game), can I have a dog?" (Yes, son. When you own your own place. Doug, the indoor pooping machine, and Tex, the semi-stupid dog, are enough for your Mommy right now.)

When I received phone call number four, a scant two minutes later, I couldn't take it anymore. I demanded the phone come home.

About five minutes passed and I again became possesser of a quiet cell phone. Serenity had returned!

Except that it was 11:30am, I was still in my pj's, and brother one announced that a contractor had just exited his car.


*Of course, they'd be low on sugar and gluten-free and this friend would NEVER want another cookie from our house again.

**Sorry. I don't want games in my house that include any of the following terms: WWF, mature, parental guidance, or Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lego Building Brilliance

The babe: "Do you know why he is called Captain Fart?"

He is pointing to his Lego creation with a little Lego man perched at the front of the plane.

Me (most definitely disgusted. How many times do I have to tell them to say TOOT?): "I have NO idea."

There is this VERY long explanation about the Captain getting on the plane, the plane almost crashing, how the Captain saves the plane, and screams of "Mayday, Mayday".

FIVE minutes later...

The babe: "When he got on the plane, they didn't have any gas, so they borrowed it from the Captain."

Coming from a four-year-old, I'm thinking we're cooking with gas* in the old brain department. At least one of my kids has semi-cornered the logic market.

Well, maybe this can be his dissertation: "Converting Human Methane into Plane-Powering Jet Fuel". Coupled with cow emissions, maybe there's future hope of America discontinuing support of all the Arabian sheiks.

Or, maybe, the super-hero CAPTAIN FART has just been discovered**.....

*Not really supposed to be punny, but it was, wasn't it?!

**All rights reserved. The name, likeness, and identity of this character are strictly prohibited from use unless express crayon-written permission by the four-year-old boy genius is given.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cursing Revisited

I hate being a person who tries my best not to use profanity but feels like it is all bottled up inside, waiting to explode at the most inopportune moment, such as in the middle of carpool line at the Christian school.

It's like buying a can of Coke out of a vending machine and then shaking it without thinking. At some point that thing is gonna belch soda water and sugar all over someone in its path.

I'm kinda like the soda. Sadly, some days I only have to be stirred, not shaken*, to feel all curse-y.

Thankfully, I learned creative cussing from a relative, so, since becoming a Mom, I can usually spill what's on my mind with a funky saying like "Holy Cats", effectively side-stepping a bomb drop.

Which leads me to a little conversation this summer:

Nice Mom** to friend's son: "When are you leaving on vacation?"

Friend's son: "My Mom and Dad are packing the car right now.*** Where were you all yesterday?"

Nice Mom: "We had some errands to run and then went to see a movie."

Friend's son: "What movie?"

Nice Mom: "Night at the Museum II."

Friend's son (all the sudden, slightly more interested in our chat): "OH. How did you like it?"

Nice Mom: "It was good. But I liked the first one better."

Friend's son: "Was there any cursing in it?"

In my head I suddenly hear screeching tires and sense that twisted metal and certain injury is about to come out of this conversation. Sadly, there is no where to go but forward.

Nice Mom (stomach lurching): "Well. Yes. There was some cussing."

Please don't ask which ones. Please don't ask which ones. Please don't ask which ones.

Friend's son: "What word?"

Somebody call 911 and have the wrecker and the ambulance start driving this way.

Nice Mom: "They used the "D" word."

Now, this is a nice kid from a nice, Christian family. I'm pretty sure we'll never see them again.

Friend's son: "OH. My parents HATE IT when I use that word!"

Holy frijole! Did he just say he drops the "D" bomb around his parents? Call off the ambulance, people. Our kids can be their friends again!

Friend's son (leaning in while cupping hands around mouth): "Yeah. They REALLY hate it when I call my brother or sister (looks around to see if anybody has snuck up on us) DUMB."

Nice Mom (crinkling up my nose, because, if I don't, I'll LAUGH): "Yeah. That's a REALLY BAD WORD."

Friend's son: "Yeah. Well, better go. See you when we get home!" Rides off on bike.

I need a good swig of Pepto Bismol after that near-miss. Thankfully, friend's son's parents think the story is adorable when I get up the nerve to tell them I almost accidentally introduced the "D" word to their son.

Me? Next time a kid asks me if there was cussing in a movie, I'm going to say "Why, yes. They used the "J" word."

And, if you don't know what that means, ask your Mom or Dad.

*Shout out to the REAL James Bond, Sean Connery.

**That would be me. This friend thinks I'm nice. I'm not sure all the friends would concur.

***Oblivious to the fact that this is the beginning of the biggest beat down of the summer--driving with family, in steamy, humid heat, with a car full of kids who all love the charming phrase "Are we there yet?" and who repeat it with astounding frequency.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Essence of Poo

Here's the latest little ditty going around the house:

"Whatcha doing?"
"Eating chocolate."
"Where'd you get it?"
"The doggy dropped it."

SSSSSCCCCCRRRREEEECCCCCHHHH. That's the sound of Mommy TRYING to put a stop to this little bit of nonsense. Since the little rhyming, gross, sing-song joke started sometime mid-summer, I hear it about once every week. And you know that means it is being passed around a lot more than that.

Thankfully, nobody has said it in front of Bishop Sutton, any great-Grandparent, or the headmaster at the Christian school. Let's just say "I'm waiting....."

Doug, on the other hand, has taken this song to heart. Apparently he heard the kids singing this tune and thought "Gee. I could bring LOTS of pure joy to the little people! I know how to drop chocolate. HMMMM. Where best to put it?"

So far, his favorite place has been the new dining room rug that we bought about three weeks ago.

Literally, I turn the corner to the front door and PRAY that the bouquet of poo doesn't hit my nostrils. There's nothing like answering the front door HOPING your neighbors won't inhale the inappropriate efforts of your little banty rooster of a dog.

Now, I do find a little bit of irony in the name of the store from which the new rug was purchased. Maybe I'm just a little sick, enjoy turning a phrase and looking at it from different angles, or just have way too much time on my hands, but I think Doug is Mensa-brilliant to think that he should use the bathroom on the rug that came from...I kid you not...


"Whatcha doing?"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Gangsta Nowell

The Babe has discovered a phrase that is driving me crazier than I was before. Not only is it so grammatically incorrect that it takes years off my life every time I hear it, but it is also NOT something that should come out of a four year old's mouth.

It always starts the same way
1. Cock body and head slightly to the side
2. Put hands about head height and stick fingers out, as if they are magnetized apart due to a ginormous electric shock
3. Throw thumb against palm
4. Scream "WHAT UP, SUCKER?"

"What up, sucker?" Is there some four-year-old gang in my new neighborhood I don't know about? Is he being initiated as I write this? Does this explain his new fascination with all things gun?

We have plans to spend Christmas in California this year. I will be placing a blindfold over his eyes and ear plugs in his ears the minute we land so he isn't exposed to ANYTHING ELSE from L.A.* Heaven help us all should he actually put eyes to a REAL gangsta.

And to the fine person in the Whole Foods parking lot last week who thought everyone from Kalamzoo to Sacramento needed to listen to rap music: my son liked it. The beat got his attention and he was all about the bass and the car vibration. He wanted to know if I could tune MY stereo to that junk.

UM, not just no. Heck NO.

From me to you, Mercedes-Benz driving, musically-tasteless, child influencer: if I EVER catch you again in that same parking lot, I'm gonna take you down, Mommy-style. I'm walking straight back into Whole Foods, finding the nice security guard, and dragging him back to your car so he can give you a little lecture on "noise pollution".

Your Momma would WANT me to do this. And, it will keep you from unintentionally having a inharmonious musical impact on the under-tween set.

Take that, sucker.

*I just hope the wierdness of the get-up doesn't cause us to be mistaken for members of the Jackson family.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The updated Wedding Song

Overheard in the car today, all three Nowell boys present to participate (though some knew the lyrics better than others)

"Here comes the bride, all big and wide*."

Now, back in the dark ages, when I was sub-10-years-old, that was pretty much the end of the lyrics. The rest was just hummed to the wedding march. Now that we have left THAT century, the newer generation of kids has started waxing poetic on this oldie-but-goodie.

It continued: "Where is the groom? He's in the bathroom."

At this point, I figured this had started bad and was racing downhill like a bobsledder in the Olympic trials. What WAS that bad boy doing in the bathroom? I didn't have the chance to ask.

"Why is he there? He's in his underwear."

Now, I did feel the need to cover my ears, eyes and mouth, all monkey-like**. This couldn't be recovered, could it?

So I asked "Why is the groom in the bathroom without any pants?"

I just recently learned that logic is being taught at one of my son's schools, starting this year, THANK YOU LORD, because this was the response:

"Because a hobo*** stole his pants." Said with ATTITUDE like "DUH. Mom."

So, DUH-MOM, had to ask "But why would a hobo steal somebody's pants?"

MORE 'tude "Because the hobo didn't HAVE ANY."

OHHH YEAH. PERFECTLY logical. Glad I'm paying private school prices for my kid's educations.

So, if I'm following the logic:
At a private wedding between a fat woman and a man who seems pretty weak to me, a hobo breaks into the festivities, steals the groom's pants, and leaves him in his underwear in the loo??

I just had to ask "So what happens next? Do they get married?" The suspense was eating me alive.

One brother "Well, yes, but he's standing in his underwear in front of everyone and after they talk he runs away and is never seen again. He's too embarrassed."

Another brother "YEAH. He's naked." Laughing. "NAKED, naked, NAKED." Laughing hysterically, obviously forgetting our groom HAS underwear on. "Naked." Chanting now. HICK. Too much laughing for him = wicked hiccups. He finally stops the "naked" conversation because it's now coming out like "Na-HICK-ked." And it sounds REALLY stupid.

Last brother "Yeah, they get married, by the pastor, in front of everybody." Completely nonplussed by the poor dude without pants.

That song will never be the same for me.

I just hope, when the boys get married, we remember to hire security to guard against crazy, pants-deficient, wedding-crashing hobos.

*Come on, sing along. You know you WANT to!

**Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil....

***Note to self: teach them politically-correct term "HOMELESS PERSON".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog in a Bag

Dear Lady, who thought it appropriate to bring your dog INTO my son's school on the first day,

As a rule, dogs are considered a pet, not a child. Considering you have four children of your own, I should hope you can appreciate the difference.

In case you can't:
a. a dog has fur. Your children don't, as a rule, unless they develop the unfortunate werewolf syndrome. In which case, you'll need to invest in a good vacuum cleaner. And a psychologist. For the dog. Who will be totally freaked out.

b. a dog barks. Yes, your children probably do this, too, at times. But, they, unlike the dog, yap in English. If you feel you "understand" what your dog is saying, thinking or doing, please make an appointment for both yourself AND the dog to see a shrink.

c. a dog is indiscriminate about where it potties. I'm hopeful that your kids, being of school-age, know where/what is appropriate. If not, hook them up with the shrink, too.

d. a dog is considered a health hazard in restaurants. Your children aren't, I hope.

When you arrived in the classroom, with your dog in a designer bag specifically for spoiled rotten "wittlewumpsofwove", you broke so many rules I can't even begin to count. The Mom who commented to you "I don't think they allow dogs in the school" spoke for all of us.

PLEASE. I beg you. Next year, take your dog, pay the $35 fee with your American Express card, and leave it in "doggy daycare" for the morning. Because we really don't need the kids jumping up out of their seats to come pet your "sweetums". It belongs with the other, pampered doggies of the world.

Thank you for understanding that we all saw through this little attempt of a power-grab on day one and that, yes, we all noticed you. Next year, please just volunteer to be room Mom. It would be so much less obvious.

Now that you've accomplished your goal, please let that dog out of it's bag before it poos all over the interior. Try as I might, I can't find anyone in the Yellow Pages in the Park Cities who will clean THAT up.

Most respectfully,
The other parents at the school

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dag BRAN It!

On the heels of a "sugar-high" post comes commentary on oatmeal and All-Bran. Talk about plunging from a mountain top to the depths of Hades.....

You see, sugar in this house is in short supply. I haven't purchased or made cookies in forever. Last time cake was in the house was in May, for Aaron's birthday. The only thing REMOTELY resembling a sugary-snack is organic, peanut butter, rice bars. UMMM, UMMM.

"Have you gone crazy?", you must be thinking, "Oh you who used to buy mega-boxes of gummy snacks and went through baking frenzies?"

Actually, I'm trying to keep my KIDS from going crazy. One guaranteed way to put them on the Crazy Train to Nowhere is to feed them sugar. So, we* refrain as best we can.

Which brings me to today. After arriving home at 1:30pm, my kids were hungry. They had already eaten breakfst, a mid-morning snack and lunch, but apparently humidity makes boys ravenous, so they were after me for snackage at what I considered a fairly early hour. Cripe, at this rate we'll be joining the blue hairs at the 4:30 dinner hour.

It's not that I'm unprepared for attacks of the snacking kind or opposed to earlier dinnertimes. I just wasn't ready for one of kids to request a BIG bowl of oatmeal and the other to find the All-Bran cereal and request about 1/2 cup of it. DRY.

Oatmeal used to be a staple around the Huber house. As a little one, Mom tells me I'd wake up screaming "Meals, Mommy, meals.**" This went on for a respectable period of time until, one day, I woke up and went all post-orphan on her and planted my heels on the whole mush issue, refusing to ever eat it again.

Today, at 43, the whole thought of the texture kind of makes me want to urp.

But, Mike and the kids eat it. And, as long as it doesn't come in contact with my mouth, I'm cool.

But, ALL-BRAN? DRY? What was the babe thinking?

Possible four-year-old thoughts:
a. This is the first box of cereal in our house since last September. Whatever Mommy bought MUST be good.

b. I burned my taste-buds this morning on the oatmeal***, so as long as this stuff is FILLING, I don't really care WHAT it tastes like.

c. A good poo makes life go round.

Regardless, I served him what he requested. With a spoon. And a smile.

He'd managed to polish off the whole bowl in a matter of 15 minutes. Returning to me, empty bowl in hand, he asked for MORE!

Maybe he produces more spit than the average four year old, which is the only explanation that satisfies the question, "How did he choke down the FIRST serving?"

But, coming back for more?

Of course, the real results of this fun little experiment will only be evident a couple of days from now. If I'm lucky, it will happen somewhere other than home.

WHAT have I DONE???????

*Most definitely the royal WE. If you think MOMMAJ is refraining from sugar, you've got another thing coming.

**Which, I think, in retrospect, she interpreted incorrectly as OATMEAL. What I was really emphasizing was the fact that, every day upon waking, I wanted to be sure she knew I was expecting mulitple MEALS, starting with breakfast.

***Darn, grilled, turkey dogs just didn't fill him up last night. Couldn't wait to try the tasty oatmeal and, against his Mommy's warning, heaped a mouthful of the lava-hot stuff into his mouth. OUCH.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nectar of the Gods

"Hi. My name is Jill. And I'm an addict."
"Hi, Jill."
"It's been (looking at my watch) two hours and two minutes since I had sugar."

The audience gasps. One man hangs his head ashamed for me. I look around the room wondering if I can get ahold of sugar before I hit the two hour and thirty minute mark.

YUP, readers. You're hearing it first. I'm a sugar addict.

I think of sugar the way Bubba thought of shrimp in Forrest Gump. Brown sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, honey sugar, maple sugar...the list is long and it is YUMMY.

In fact, as I was thinking about sugar*, I COMPLETELY understand why I'm altogether addicted to it. Check out the short list of things made with sugar I don't like:

1. Licorice. When a candy is so heinous that giant board game maker, Milton Bradley, names a bad guy after it, that must mean I join A LOT of people hatin' on licorice.**

2. Tiramisu. Never got this one, taste or texture wise. Considering it combines both sugar AND liquor, you'd think I'd be a raving fan.

3. Tapioca pudding. It's the tapioca, not the pudding, that kills it for me.

4. Root beer. My cousin once shot this stuff out of his nose at a holiday gathering because he was laughing so hard. Never been the same since.

THAT'S IT. Everything else is fair game! Sadly, that's why I have a telling paunch in my mid-section that disapproves of the little tango of love I do with the Nectar of the Gods.

You'd think, by now, I'd have given up sugar for good, since I've done it SO MANY TIMES. Truth be told, I've tried to do without it almost every Lent since my mid-20's***. I've always started giving up the sweet stuff in Lent because 40 days is enough time to cleanse my body of all the built-up sugar goo. It also has a hard deadline: Easter. The bad thing about Lent is that the deadline IS Easter, one of the three biggest candy holidays known to civilization. After doing without it's syrupy goodness for so long, it never seems like it will "hurt" to have a little piece of the traditional "Bunny cake" I make every year. Or a Cadbury egg. Or a couple of Peeps*.

Problem is, I fall off the wagon easily. It only takes a little, itty bit of sugar to cascade me back into a position of my life being dominated by sucrose.

Looking at the calendar, if I start now, I could leave my sweet lover for awhile and try to move forward without him for a Lent-length of time. Let's see, that would be quitting until early October. Then I'd have to make it through the State Fair (funnel cakes), Halloween (candy and candy apples), Thanksgiving (pie), Christmas (Mrs. Johnson's toffee), and Valentine's Day (truffles), before getting to Lent again.

WOW! That's one heck of a hurdle.....

I'll get started, right after I finish my cane-sweetened, high-fructose injected Coca-Cola.

"Hi. I'm Jill."

*And consuming it, as well.

**Lord Licorice, from Candy Land.

***There was that one, miserable year, after my divorce, that I gave up sugar, caffeine, AND chocolate. There are still people licking wounds from that stroke of genius.

*I hate Peeps, as a rule, because they have a shelf-life equivalent to a Twinkie (which IS NOT a compliment.) HOWEVER, if nothing else with sugar is available, I'll stoop to Peep level.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stop Signs have a PURPOSE?

Let's just say that someone who is past the age of driver's ed, who has a license, got busted on the way home today. Thankfully, not by the police*, but by the only female in the car. Then, by proxy, one of the sons.

After church, we decided to take a detour home. We have this interesting routine of coming home via the tollway, except, instead of doing what sane people do when they have a toll road to travel on, we drive south from Frankford to Spring Valley on the service road**. That's a total of about four miles, with about five stoplights. Lights which are never particularly excited about being green during our time in the car with three kids who "want to get home because their bodies are going to EXPLODE if they don't get out of their Sunday clothes NOW and get lunch so they can play".

Yet, week after week, we continue this routine. One day I'm going to go all "Dog Day Afternoon" on Mike and tell him what I think***. Without all the police and guns.

So, back to our detour. It is through a lovely neighborhood of houses we've had fun looking at but could never afford to pay any of the a. mortgages b. light bills or c. taxes on. Still, it never hurts to look****.

At the end of this lovely road, there is a stop sign, at which we take a left to wander through another lovely neighborhood until we get to the large road that creates a barrier between the "haves" and the "haves, but just barely". We live on the latter side of the street.

At this stop sign, ostensibly, people STOP. Today, Mike became one of those people who didn't. It was followed by me gasping "You didn't even stop."

Mike's response? "There was a stop sign there?"

Now, if we hadn't just had a conversation yesterday about the "accident that almost was", I wouldn't have been so anal*****. But, piggybacking off that, I was a little more than concerned that my husband's driving was going the way of my memory: downhill at enormous speeds.

Because our kids are surrounded by sarcasm 24/7, one of them immediately joined the conversation, stating, "Yeah, Dad. You're lucky you didn't have one of the 'call this number' bumper stickers. If you did, you'd SO BE BUSTED."

Now, I'm thinking this has REAL potential. Not for Mike, but for the kids. I've heard of parents applying these stickers on their teenager's cars. Basically, begging anybody with a cell phone to tattle on their kids, hypothetically keeping them from accidentally killing themselves/others while driving at age 16. The real threat of Mom/Dad receiving a phone call from some gray hair saying "Your child just cut me off at Plano Parkway and the Tollway, going 6o mph, in a 30" is enough to keep most teenagers from driving like a bat out of hades.

So, in a few years, we'll revisit this little idea.

For now, Mike will just have to continue avoiding accidents and trying to observe stop signs.

Me? I'll have to keep working on keeping my mouth shut because nobody likes an anal back seat driver in the passenger seat.

*Because they have a warrant out for Mike's arrest for hanging up the phone on one of their finest.

**Only one of us in the car thinks this is a charming, lazy Sunday drive. Guess who?

***Never actually seen this movie, but love Al Pacino and get that there are guns, screaming and threatening, lots of police, hostages and a good negotiation at the end. Geez, I think I've practically seen this movie without ever seeing it.....

****Maybe Mom Huber will eventually hit all five numbers in the lottery and, as part of our inheritance, they'll be enough to move there.

*****Two things here: 1. the swerve to avoid the accident was followed by cheers from the mini-passengers and the statement: "Can we do that AGAIN?" Cars SHOULD NOT become amusement rides 2. actually, I probably would have been that anal, regardless.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Queen Cry-a-lot

I started to cry during the kid's weekly matinee at the Studio Movie Grill last week. No kidding. Big tears exiting eyes, flowing down my cheeks.

Either I had done a really good job discreetly wiping my face 10,000 times with a napkin reduced to pulp OR my make-up job that morning was pathetic, because when I brought it up in the car on the way home, everyone looked at me like "WHHATTTT? You were crying? During Prince of Egypt?"

Yes, I was crying during Prince of Egypt. You got a problem with that?

Here's how it all happened, me getting from dry-faced taxi-Mom to blubbering idiot, that is:

1. We arrived a wee bit close to start time* and the parking lot was abnormally crowded. Thankfully, was having an outing of some sort in one of the theaters, which explained the five minute walk past all the SUVs and BMWs**. It also explained the buffet of bagels, cream cheese, coffee, and donuts in the hallway that I had to practically extricate the kids from after they made the 40 yard dash toward the table***. They thought they had hit some kid jackpot. I got to be the meanie who pointed out "you only have two sevens and one Jackpot. SORRY."

2. Our price for admission was a reasonable $6. The popcorn, however, was on the high side of average at $3.49. I had to get two bowls because the kids were all sitting about 10 feet apart and I didn't want to be the "popcorn-passing-go-between" all movie long****. The tea was an astounding $2.99. Truly, this is a bargain if you can drink FIVE GALLONS, but for one measly glass? It COSTS $2.99 to make five gallons of tea, and that's if you use BOTTLED water*****!

3. Once I got over the sticker shock that was the menu, we settled in. Before we even got past the first two scenes, it was obvious the Babe had been checked out during the time I was interim chidren's minister at church and we studied Moses. I had to narrate so he could catch the story, as his previous exposure, apparently, didn't stick. Our conversation went something like this:

"That's baby Moses."
"Who's he?"
"The one who heard the voice from the burning bush."
"There's a bush burning? Where?" (Looks like a bobble head trying to get an adequate view)
"No, the burning bush, in the Bible."
"Oh." (Clearly didn't remember THAT)
"What about the 10 Plagues?"
"Eggs? I want popcorn!"
"Never mind. Have you heard of Passover?
"Pass what?"
"Passover. The holiday still celebrated by the Jews? Moses knew about that."
"Moses. Moses who?"

I'm clearly frustrated by this whisper-loud conversation between my cupped hand and his right ear. Each time I whisper something, he turns to me and YELLS his question or response. This isn't working. But I am persistent, if I am anything.

"Moses is the one who brought the 10 Commandments down the mountain to the people. Do you remember Mom and Dad telling you about the 10 Commandments?"

(Look of recognition in his eyes) "YES. That's what you tell me about every time I disohay you."
"You are right."

Now that he is caught up on the plot, I watch the movie. The story truly is amazing: a baby boy, marked for execution, escapes to become a prince, only to realize "his" people are being enslaved and to work against the palace to get the slaves out of Egypt, all at God's request.

Moses was a gutsy dude, from leaving the comforts of the palace, to trusting God's voice through the burning bush, returning to the palace and ushering in God's plagues, to leading his people into the wilderness, parting the Red Sea and presenting the 10 Commandments.

When Moses put that staff in the Sea and it rose up, like a backward tsunami, and presented dry land, complete with an image of a whale swimming behind a wall of water, THAT'S when I started to cry.

It was the sheer beauty of the story that got me at that point. These people had been through so much and, here they were, trusting in a situation that was so, very scary. I mean, truly, can you imagine looking at miles-high walls of water and proceeding forward, across what used to be the bottom of the sea just moments before?

It was just an emotional highpoint in the movie for me. And, doggone it, I'm pretty glad I'm not so "grown up" that I can't cry at an appropriate moment.

So, be warned, fair readers. If you attend a theater with me, I may go all misty on you. Just pick up a few extra napkins in the lobby before we enter the movie and life will be all good.

The fact that I might be late meeting you? The horror on my face when I pay to get in? The honking when I need to blow my nose, mid-movie? I apologize for all that now.

*Have I mentioned I have this little issue with time? Seems I can't keep track of it and refuse to be tied down by it. What a rebel.

**This wasn't the average every Mom, daycare, and YMCA descending upon the theatre kind of day. Thank goodness.

***Man! I knew I quit corporate American too soon.

****I paid my two bucks to watch the movie, too.

*****I felt like the servers were standing at the back of the movie, rubbing their hands together, laughing evilly about my ridiculous outlay of money for a glass of tea.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

They're coming to take him away, Ha-Haaa

Today we got a phone call from the FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE.

When the phone rang, a Nowell son answered and kindly told the sweet officer on the other end of the line, "Yes. I'll get my Dad."

When the phone reached Mike, he was stuffing his face with a leftover quesadilla and a bucket of salsa. He claimed to young son, through full mouth, "I can't come the phone right now"* and popped the phone over to hands-free mode.

The person, now loudly entering the room through speakerphone, was just going to town based on the script he'd been given to read. I mean, we came in mid-sentence, and this guy didn't even seem to notice us.

About six words in, Mike got impatient with the whole thing and hung up the phone. The interaction between son and Mike was just priceless:

Son: "You just hung up on the POLICE!"**

Mike, channeling Archie Bunker, "Yeah? Well that's why I pay my taxes!"***

Son exited the room, trying to figure out the connection between hanging up on an officer of the law and taxes. He was also clearly disgusted that his Father was going to end up in jail for being rude to the Dallas PD.

Mike continued on, to me, "I hate those phone calls. If they really need the money, they should raise my taxes. I pay enough already." Blah, blah, blah.

I, personally, was waiting for the doorbell to ring, and a search warrant announcement to be made.

I looked up and said, "Honey. You and I disagree on this one. Always have."

Mike retorted, with a look of slight surprise, because half of the things I say are at a frequency so low that they aren't even heard, "Why would you want to give good money when we already pay them through OUR TAXES?"

"For me, it's simple. I want the little sticker they'll send that is my 'fly down Hillcrest when I'm late for carpool pick-up, get out of ticket free'. You know, the one the officer says 'I see you've contributed this year' about?"

Mike, now as disgusted at me as son is at him. "Oh, sure. It's all about you."

Darn right, it is. I drive about a million miles a year. I need protection. And I want my sticker.

Next time, dear son of mine, please bring the phone to Mommy.

And don't answer that ringing doorbell.

*After which, he asks "Who is it". Thank goodness the roof of the house wasn't on fire.

**This is blasphemy to a sub-10 year old.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A lovely shade of gray

"It's GRAAAAYYYYYY" is what ushered from my mouth, when an errant hair was sticking straight out, in front of my eyes, while I tried to type today. I had just had my hair done and, based on the amount of mousse, hairspray and the general lack of humidity in the air, every hair should have been perfectly in place.

Not this little guy. He was standing at attention like a member of General Patton's army. No doubt, to get my ATTENTION.

Tugging gingerly, he fell into my little hand and looked, shall I say, ODD. Odd as in NOT BROWN, like the rest of the hair on my planetoid of a head.

Now, just last year, I think the race to grayville began. I, however, have been in complete denial, based on the following:

1. My first hint that there may be a little multi-color action going on was at a charity event. It was the first time Mike and I had been out, dressed up beyond Sunday morning, in FOREVER*. This was a food-lovers dream of a party, too. Cocktail hour with heavy hor devours (and an open bar), salad before the meal (with wine), first course (with a new wine), second course (ANOTHER wine), and dessert (with a choice of PORT!!)

I had a little bit of every liquor available.

Mike probably had a drink during the hor devours, then he switched to "designated driver and lucky husband with a slightly drunken-wife" mode. But, being one Tanqueray and tonic ahead of him, I ignored the following comments, made post-first drink from the open bar:

Mike: "Look. How cute! You have gray hairs!**"

Me (dryly): "Very funny."

Mike: "No, really. There, in your part. Just a few. Aren't they CUTE?"

Me: "Waiter? (pointing to glass) Another, please?"

Not exactly the time/place you want date-boy pointing out your impending status as a hot-momma in a nursing home.

Being a little, "under the influence", shall we say, I figured he had NO IDEA what he was talking about and chalked it up to poor hotel lighting.

2. My birth Mother has absolutely no gray in her hair AT ALL. I thought I had won the gene lottery after I met her. I'm normally not a lucky person. So, how in Sam Hill, did I get so fortunate?

Problem is, I've never met my birth FATHER. He could have goose feather grays all over his head, be bald as a baby, or have a comb-over he can't let go of. At this point, I just don't know.

But, I've been betting on birth Mom's genes to help me slide into Heaven with cow poo brunette hair.

Looks like I'll be sliding with CLAIROL "Bodacious brown #67" after all.

By the way, when we arrived home after swanky charity event, I walked my best straight line through the kitchen, past the babysitter****, and straight to bed.

What happened there is none of your business. It's just between my gray head and my husband's impossibly thick, wavy when it is too long, brown and GRAY hair.

Atop his head that is four years YOUNGER than mine.


*and a day.

**After you have kids, you never really have a hair-do, so it's virtually impossible, UNLESS you attend a hoity-toity party, for your husband to know if the color of your hair is a result of dirt, spit-up or lack of washing.

****Whom I acknowledged and slurred to.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ambiguously Gay

I know someone who is most definitely ambiguously gay. He is so A.G. that I don't even think HE knows which way to go. I've known him for at least 10 years now and there has never been a hint of a girl OR boy friend in all that time. The closest I ever get is "Me and my friend, soandso, went to the movies with another guy."

All I ever want to ask is "Did you kiss one of them afterwards?" because the suspense is KILLING me.

I'm sure it's killing him, too.

Which brings me to today's subject: Saturday Night Live*.

I have been a fan of this show ever since the "Wild and Crazy Guys" were on in the late 70's/early 80's. Some of my favorite political jokes have come from the "Weekend Update".** And, if I know that Justin Timberlake or Kim Basinger's ex-squeeze are on, I will DVR the event for a bladder-splitting laugh.

But, above almost every skit ever done on that show, there are two that make me laugh just by the sheer mention of their names: More Cow Bell and Schweddy Balls.

So, the other night, during cousin's camp, I had hit a point of "Someone, anyone, PLEASE relieve me of my duties as sheepherder. If I hear anymore bleating, one of these kids is going to get a crook to the back of the head."

We had just enjoyed time in the pool prior to my impending mental break and I was trying to stop the next argument about who was going to get the coveted Spiderman towel.

Now, you would think, with all the clean laundry hanging around this house in baskets, that I could have found four white, plain towels. No dice. So, I gave the superhero towel to the Babe. It practically covered him from neck to toe and he was digging the scene.

Then another swimmer spotted its webalicious goodness and started acting like an ape in heat. "I want the Spiderman towel. It's mine."

The yank that spun the Babe around like a 50's-era top and dropped him to the ground was, in a word, impressive. But, also, altogether improper manners.

After assessing the damage and gently*** reminding the culprit that his brother shouldn't be treated that way, I sent the instigator to bed. He, away from all the noise, excitement, and activity of the week, settled into a much-needed 1.5 hour nap, after much gnashing of teeth and a kid-size lecture to me on the "Unfairness of Mommy."****

By this time, I felt like I was going through menopause. I was on FIRE. I honestly hate to sweat, so this was beyond uncomfortable. It was a moment, caught in a TV ad, where you shouldn't raise your hand lest you take down those within ten feet of your pits.

And, right then, I ran into Mike. He needed the "update", as he was conveniently perched in his office for this entire episode, and wanted to know what was "up."*****

I looked him right in the eye and said "I'm schweddy." We both burst into tears when he said "So you have 'Schweddy Balls'?" Juvenile? Yes. Sheer, Alec Baldwin, genius. Absolutely!

Thus, broke the tension and my lousy attitude. None of the little sheep were any worse for the wear and, as I lay in the bed that night wondering "What the HECK is that odor?"******, I realized: I MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER DAY AS A MOM.

Woo and hoo. Can I have my shower now?

*I am way overly impressed with my ability to transition on this one. Someone, please, poke a pin in my overblown head before it explodes.

**Sadly, most of my nightly news has come from the same skit.

***You act like an ape, you get ape Mom gentle. CPS might not have approved. But, BONUS! The Dallas Zoo would have.

****Yes, it stinks that you can't have the exact same Spiderman towel that I bought back in the 90's at some random Wal-Mart. I'm really considering going on EBay to see if I can pay $50 + shipping to get you one, too, so you won't feel left out. NOT!

*****Um, sky, stars, blah, blah. Have I mentioned that my response to stress, menstrual cycles, and life, in general, is SARCASM? Bet you guessed that already, huh?

******I was lying, hands under head, pits exposed. A not-so-gentle reminder that I needed to bathe after the brother gripe-fest.

Monday, August 17, 2009

That's with a "J", thank you

I used to babysit for a doctor, his nurse-cum-housemaker wife, and their three girls. It was during this period in my life I had the realization that, if my body produced all girls, I might just throw myself off something HIGH.

It's not that I couldn't handle the little darlings. It was that I didn't UNDERSTAND them. They were WHINY, high-pitched screamers who were prone to crying fits, unlike the boys I babysat for who just wanted to roughhouse, spit, and generally try to gross me out. With only a brother at home, this latter environment made sense to me.*

But, with all their shortcomings, I still enjoyed BEING with the doctor's girls. We had fun playing Barbies, braiding hair, and telling secrets. As long as bedtime wasn't too far from the time I arrived, I was able to keep my sanity.

Their Mom, on the other hand, never quite won my heart.

Every time I babysat, that woman wrote a check to me. Each time she spelled my name "Gill". As a teenager, I just dismissed it as a spelling issue and I, respectfully, NEVER corrected her. Sure, it annoyed me--all the way to the mall.

As a phonics-Mom, I realize she was way too intelligent, with her nursing degree and all, to chronically make this error. There is a big difference between pronouncing "G" and "J"**.

Yet, in case I thought she was the only person who learned pronunciation from a hair-lipped woman from Transylvania, I was lucky enough to cross paths with these fine folk:

This same town boasted a great friend whose Dad put fires in the "chimley". I'm glad he never "burled" down the house.

A close relative had co-workers who offered her "uranges" the first day she worked with them. I think they must eat "Ureos" when they need a good snack.

Mike would like to put a plant on the "window seal" above the cabinets that have "pools". I can't figure out where in the hell he is living, but it's not in the house with the "windowsills" and drawer "pulls".

Dr. B, the phonics guru, states that English is the most difficult of all languages to learn. Just because I've always been fascinated by language and, therefore, have studied it more than the average Joe, I shouldn't be such a hard-butt when people make pronunciation errors. I really should give everyone a break.

But, then, blog reader, you wouldn't be reading this post today. I CAN'T let you down. I WILL continue my evil ways and sacrifice so YOU have something to read.

Today, the girls I used to babysit are likely Moms; sometimes I wonder what happened to them. Did they have girls of their own? Where do they live? Did they ever realize how often I put them to bed early after changing the clock on the stove to "prove" it was 7:30?

Likely, I'll never know.

I just really hope they found "jynocolojist" in the phone book when they became "prejnant".

*Now you know why God graced me with boys.

**I know you are trying it, so, admit it, I'M RIGHT.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

School Days, School Days

We are sub-seven days away from school starting up for the boys of the Nowell house and, as far as I can tell, everyone is ready for the routine of Fall to kick in.

Except me. I'm lamenting the fact that school ushers in early mornings. With early mornings come earlier bedtimes and with earlier bedtimes, I have to be an adult again.


Why, you ask, would I have to become an adult AGAIN? Did I lose my status somewhere along the way? Why, YES, I think I did.

In retrospect, I've been a "pseudo-adult" all Summer long. Case in point:

1. I usually wake when the kids come padding into the room, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, to see if I'll cave in and let them watch cartoons "just once"*. I can USUALLY be relied upon to actually get OUT of bed within a half hour of them entering the room.

2. If the kids return to try their cunning negotiation skills on me again, I firmly refuse their TV request and delay breakfast for another 15 minutes because, in my mind, it's Summer and we shouldn't be on such a rigid schedule**.

3. On more than one occasion, the doorbell has gotten me out of bed, as some contractor has shown up sub-9am, sending me into a dressing frenzy that looks like a cross between the Tazmanian Devil and a model backstage at a designer runway show***.

4. Breakfast has recently slipped into the uncomfortable time slot of brunch, during days that DON'T start with "S"****.

5. Cleaning? I have but one, worn out excuse: every day, new people enter this house to work on some sort of renovation. They always produce dust, dirt, or general odors. No sane person would clean in this environment.

6. I resolved to try to save the environment this year and, accordingly, am only using my "real" everyday china. Therefore, there are always dirty dishes in this house. Why try to keep up with a never-ending proposition?

7. Lunch? Well, let's just say, it's on the fly and occurs sometime before dinner. On more than one occasion, it has resembled a heavy snack on an airplane.

8. Afternoons. Can you say "catch-up" time? Budget work, blogging, laundry, blogging, driving kids to destinations, blogging*****. Need I say more?

9. Our house now has cocktail hour by the pool. Since the kids like to swim almost every afternoon, I sacrifice and enjoy a tasty beverage, poolside, while playing fully-clothed lifeguard******. Can someone help me get the song "Cocomo" out of my mind? HA, ha. Now it's in yours, too.

10. Laundry. Oh My Jeepers. I used to complain because it took so long. Now, it finishes too FAST! I can't keep up with all the laundry in the baskets that is clean. If this is supposed to be efficiency, I'm a monkey's Aunt.

10. Dinner? Dinner-schminner. It's been on the table before dark-thirty every single night since school let out****. And, it's been balanced, thank you very much; I've made sure each munchkin knows how to carry his plate with BOTH hands.

11. Bedtime. Well, let's just say that, if the kids make it to a horitzontal position before 8:30pm, Mike and I are doing the happy dance. We, on the other hand, are asleep in front of the TV by 9:15pm and actually get up to brush our teeth between midnight and 3 a.m. on a regular basis.

What has gotten into us? We used to have sticks up our posteriors. Did they break? Have the fair Nowells gone mad?

I'm not sure. THAT'S for sure. I hope not; I hate surgical procedures. NO--I don't THINK so.

What I do think is a feeling of being "home" settled into our bones once Summer actually began. The house was no longer so foreign; it was ours. Even though it wasn't perfect or perfectly finished, it finally wasn't in the way of our "routine". So, we let down our guard and sunk into the process of letting go of our lives on Heathermore Drive and took on this new life on Briar Cove.

And, we love it. For the first time, in a long time, we've had lazy afternoons, unscheduled periods of rest, and the ability to say "yes" at the last minute. It has felt really good.

But, just around the corner, the routine machine is kicking into high gear. I hope it doesn't suck me into it's grips quite as heavily as it has in years past. We've worked on keeping our after-school activities to a bare minimum and I hope this will add sanity to our lives this Fall.

Now, if I can just figure where to hire a cabana boy and how to have cocktail hour, poolside, year round, MY school days will be PERFECT.

*Truth is, I'd probably agree to letting them shave my head bald if they'd let me sleep ten more minutes. Let's just keep that OUR little secret, though.

**Maybe, just maybe, my prayers will be answered and someone will slip in the front door with a breakfast buffet and I'll be spared morning kitchen duty.

***HUGE emphasis on the Tazmanian Devil in this sentence. Need I admit: uncombed hair and unbrushed teeth. I really should pay these guys a premium.

****This is SO uncharacteristic of me I can't even describe it. I've always been the three square meals and a bag of Oreos in between kind of girl. BRUNCH is NOT part of that equation.

*****I think someone in this house might lose his mind if this doesn't become a PAYING gig. It's somewhat of an obsession.

******And, in case you don't think a clothed lifeguard can save a life, I dove in earlier in the Summer to save a swimmer who was precariously slipping under water well above his head. Scared the living crud out of everyone in the pool, including the potential drowning victim.

****Though I BARELY made it one particularly fine July evening when the margaritas were flowing.....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Semi-Screaming Hissy Fit (of sorts)

During cousin's camp I had the brilliant idea of driving from Dallas to Glen Rose (about 1.5 hours under normal circumstances, EACH WAY) to drive SOME MORE through Fossil Rim Wildlife Park (another 3.5 hours).

A couple of things I didn't anticipate as problems:
1. Wednesdays are half-price days. How was I to know that every person from South Dakota to Brazil would make their way to Glen Rose to take advantage of the discount? They, obviously, hail from CHEAPVILLE, just like me.

2. August is, historically, hysterically hot in Texas. Having previously been to Fossil Rim in June, when it WAS in the 100's, I figured most people would avoid going to a place where you roll down all your windows, open the sun roof, and generally bake on leather seats for the whole process. Unfortunately, it was a freak, sub-100 day. As a result of this anomaly, there were TONS of heat-intolerent, penny-pinching people there.

So, along with masses of other crazies trying to see everything from roadrunners to rhinos, we entered the park. I knew, having driven this before, that we had a real problem when we rounded the first bend and sat for 30 minutes at a point we should have blazed through in five.

Apparently the people in front of us had never
a. fed an animal in their lives. I'm guessing their parents never anted up the quarter it took at the zoo to buy food for the koi. These people practically emptied the contents of their feed bags on the pretty little animals before them.

b. seen a white-tail deer before. Yes, they were feeding white-tail deer, for cripe's sake*. I could practically hear them reading the animal map saying, "Look, kids, it's 'Odocoileus virginianus'. Have you EVER seen anything so BE-U-TI-FUL in your life?"

By the time we got to the halfway point and stopped for lunch, I was hungry, had to pee, and was HOT. So, naturally, I led the kids STRAIGHT to the restrooms because me and my bladder USED to understand each other but, now, not so much**.

When we got past the zillion people crowding the entrance to the hallway***, I practically started sprinting the short, narrow passage to the restroom. But, not knowing my plans, about 1/3 of the way to the potty place, my nephew stopped to get a drink. One Nowell son queued up directly behind him, old school style. In this position, both boys took up 2/3 of the width of the hall****.

Meanwhile, I was trying to keep my bladder from exploding as I stood halfway in the bathroom door (about four steps up the hallway), monitoring the boys, and trying to keep the other Nowell and niece in tow.

When my nephew stepped back, away from the faucet, he caused Nowell son #1 to step back. Like dominos they were. Then the domino that was a Nowell lost his balance and fell directly onto a woman's exposed toes.

Now, I've seen, scratch that, BEEN, a drama queen before, but this woman put all others before her immediately under her sandal-laden feet. She cried in mock pain, rolled her eyes, and huffed aloud, as if to communicate, "GEEZ, you idiot."

For a split second I got to get all puffy-chested, because my son IMMEDIATELY said "I'm sorry" while looking her in the eye*****. I almost forgot how full my bladder was at that point.

Then the almost unthinkable happened. This woman had the audacity to ignore my son and say nothing to him. She just scowled and started to walk away.

Surprisingly, Fossil Rim doesn't boast any lions. However, on this day, when the rude girl-child/woman decided to act like a two-year-old and treat my son like a non-person, I channeled the latent lioness within me and sprang into action like a hungry cat on a dik-dik******. Frankly, I even surprised myself with the ferocious, lightning quick reaction that ushered forth.

I looked her directly in the eye and said "I think this little boy just apologized to you. The least you could do is respond." Her lame retort? "I'm just trying to get into the bathroom quickly." Scowl.

So, I turned toward the bathroom door, threw it open the rest of the way, and loudly announced to everyone in the three-staller "Look out, there is a lady coming in with a bathroom emergency."


What I didn't say, and wish I had, was "Lady, we're all hot and tired of sitting in our SUVs, trying to get our 15 seconds with the giraffes and emus. Get over yourself and stop taking it out on the children of this world."

She never said another word to me, just went all evil-eyed into her stall. I hope she remembered me the rest of her hot, slow drive and didn't give the stink-eye to anybody else's kid.

As for the rest of us? By the time we ate lunch, brushed the goats, and talked to the macaws, the rest of the world had gotten hot and left the park. Only once, on the rest of our journey, did we get sidelined by a bunch of cars.

And what was so exciting that it stopped traffic? White-tail deer. AGAIN.


*I BEG YOU, before you visit Fossil Rim again, drive an hour outside of DFW in ANY direction and stay until twilight. Get near a bunch of trees. You can even do this by pulling over off a major highway! If you don't get to see your fill of deer, I'll give you a buck. HA HA.

**This is a sad reality after three pregnancies. I'll be in diapers by 65 at this rate.

***Etiquette note: after you pee (and, hopefully, wash your hands), please move to another part of the building. I understand that you like the lemony smell of the cleaning solutions, but you can sit in your OWN bathroom and inhale for hours, if you like. Here, people need to GO. Get out of our way, please.

****Note to designers of this area of the building: architects you ARE NOT. Please plan for a queue of at least five people at the fountain when it takes two hours to get past the dang white-tail deer and to the fountain/pee-pee place. People will be hot, ready to get a LONG drink, and tinkle. Please plan for this next go-round, K?

*****Something I taught STUCK.

******Stop laughing long enough to pay homage to the cutest, tiniest deer on the safari.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cousin's Camp

Yesterday morning, we welcomed the arrival of two of the kid's cousins to the Nowell abode. Previously, over Spring Break, my sister-in-law very graciously took our kids for several days after recognizing we couldn't even unpack a pair of underwear with a week of nothing but 24/7 Nowell boys*.

So, with my saintly sister-in-law in mind, I planned this week as a "thank you" repayment for her.

In a trade worthy of the major leagues, we gained the cousins and, simultaneously, Mike's parents took one of our kids for the week. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a generous, sign-on bonus.

Net result: up one non-Nowell kid, down one of our own. That took a lot of whiny out of the conversation.

With all the particulars in place, cousin's camp began.

For the first 20 hours, everyone was on their best behavior. There was plenty of "please", "thank you" and general excitement to be had. In a word: copacetic.

Then, this morning hit.

You must keep in mind that the kids have been messing around with a newly created "fort", made from the washer and dryer boxes of previous posts**.

At first, it was kid nirvana. Then it became "us" against "them". Then it became "You are ___", where each child was assigned a role by the other kids.

After this occurred, the only girl in the entire pack started crying. These weren't little, sweet, roll down your face slowly tears. These were big, falling off your cheeks, crocodile tears.

I did what any Mom who is raising boys and hasn't a clue about raising girls would do: I instantly figured the boys were at fault and asked them how they had hurt her feelings. Seemed logical to me.

They all shrugged their shoulders. From what I was gathering, they really didn't know.

I wanted to pat them all on the back and give them the "BASICS OF YOUR FUTURE WIFE AND ANY DAUGHTERS LECTURE" that goes something like this: "Buck up, guys. This is what life with the female set is going be like later in your life. The quicker you get used to the fact that there is GOING to be crying, the better." But, I still had crying going on in real time and I had to get to the bottom of the situation.

I tried my sweetest voice. I tried pleaded with the brothers and the boy cousin. Nothing was working. My Mommy bag was entirely empty.

I couldn't get anything out of her. And now she was crying so hard and had her head buried so far into the air bed that I couldn't understand a word she was saying.

Eventually*** she tried to calm herself down enough to communicate. The first two passes sounded something like "They, they, they...." (crying jag) and "I, I, I don't want..." (best ostrich imitation, head hitting Aerobed**** at speeds previously reserved for cheetahs.)

After about five minutes of this little game of Mommy torture*****, I finally learned the source of this consternation. She confessed, as the only sub-tween girl in the house, that she had been dealt the role of "Mommy" in the fort game.

And, she said, so pitifully, "I don't WANT to be the Mommy."

Oh, girlfriend. It took everything in my power not to laugh out loud at your sad, sad statement. It rang SO true because there are just some days your Aunt doesn't want to be the Mommy either, honey!

Now I was in completely unchartered territory. Crying, with Nowell sons, is cured by ice packs and brief hugs. Then it's over. On this one I REALLY had to use brain power.

And, apparently I found the right formula! Tears subsiding, after a little bit of well executed negotiation, she earned the coveted title of "sister", avoiding continuation of the dreaded "Mommy" moniker after a brief turn in its torturous grips. WOW! Maybe I could have raised a girl after all?!

I couldn't help but think of queens of centuries past who produced female non-heirs, thus learning their fate on the labor bed*****. It was as if cousin XX chromosome somehow knew she had produced the first male heir and HAD to be Mommy now. Except she wasn't going to have servants and handmaidens and nannies. You just can't run fast enough in this situation, can you, niece-friend?

At the tender age of seven, she is my sage for the times. I've never quite been able to verbalize my frustration as succinctly as she did.

Someday, at one of her baby showers, I'm sure we'll tell this story and it will produce big, hearty laughter.

And, I'll tell her: Sweetness, Mommyhood is frustrating work. There will be days you want to go all Marie Osmond on your clan and get in your car and drive far away. But, you'll come back because, somehow, after a few minutes of solitude it will be TOO quiet and you'll miss the screaming, fighting, and general excitement that comes with having kids.

Mommyhood is, after all, the only job you'll never regret the privilege of having.

*Little did she know that all I really managed to do was sit in the corner of our shell of a house and rock back and forth, drinking cheap wine while singing "KUMBAYA".

**Another downfall of not ever really cleaning: stuff rarely gets thrown out. This is great when you are five. Not so good when you are 43.

***The longest two minutes of my freakin' life.

****When I was pregnant and an insomniac, I watched an entire infomercial on the Aerobed. I ALMOST grabbed my credit card and made the call. Thankfully, I went to bed instead, because others in the family got sucked into the madness. Now we just borrow theirs....

*****I HATE not being able to assign time-outs with certainty and timeliness.

******I just love the irony implicit in the fact that Mr. King was throwing the XX sperm and Mrs. Queen ended up in the guillotine as a thank you gift. Um, HELLO, Mr. King? That leaves YOU and your minions to raise a girl ALL BY YOURSELF. Truly, a time of illogical men.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The restaurant with the MOSTEST

While I was in Houston a couple of weeks ago, I passed by a restaurant named "The Brick House". Of course, being a child of the 70's and 80's, I wanted to break into the old Commodores song of the same title. However, hearkening back to my Helen Reddy fiasco just days before, and wanting to spare the ears of those in the car with me, I refrained.

That didn't stop my brain from moving forward, though. ADD in full-steam-ahead, my brain went "WAIT JUST ONE COTTON-PICKIN' MINUTE! Is that "Shake it down shake it down Shake it down shake it down now" and "thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-six"*? Must that mean that this state has another "men only" restaurant to join Hooters and Twin Peaks?"

I consulted someone I trust implicitly, and she admitted that, years ago, she and her sister had accidentally ended up in one of these charming establishments in another state. Basically, these two gals walked in blind, were STARVING, and weren't in the mood to get back in the car. So they sucked it up and forged forward.

Their first clue that something was amiss? The sign above the door at the entrance said "Welcome to the Man Cave".

It got a little better when they were seated in Barcaloungers with flip up TV trays to complement the flat screen that was attached to EACH recliner. Yes, friends, even a GIRL can appreciate that.

Bottom line?** If you love the idea of Double D Cup cakes*** and Submissive Baked Potato Soup, you have found the dive for VOUS!

So, I started thinking.**** If restaurant designers were to come up with a "ladies only" restaurant, what would it be like? Here's my list, forward-looking entrepreneurs with some extra coin to spend:

1. When you enter, a man, fully clothed in a Versace suit, and straight off the cover of a romance novel, greets you with a cocktail; your choice of cocktail was prearranged when you made the reservation. You sit in a quiet waiting area with a water feature, soothing music, and as much Godiva chocolate as you can down. If you so desire, comfy, soft slippers and bathrobes are available. For the ultimate relaxation, throw your feet up on a just-the-right-height-for-a-woman's-legs ottoman. Scrap that: ottoWOman.

2. When you've finished your cocktail, Mr. Novel returns with a slightly worried look, gets down on his knees to face you, eye-to-eye, and says "You look like you've had a rough day. Why don't you lie down for a short nap?" He ushers you to a room with a King size bed, complete with silk sheets, a blankie as soft as a baby's butt, and chocolates on the pillow. The sound machine is preset before you arrive and the overhead lights are lowered to the perfect not-too-bright, not-too-dim level. You sleep as long as you want.

3. Upon waking, you press a button beside the bed to alert your cabana boy***** that you are ready for dinner. Within seconds, a sophisticated hospital tray like contraption arrives, complete with the first course of your pre-ordered meal. Every time you finish a course, a new, modelesquely beautiful man enters the room and says "I'll do the dishes, honey. You just relax." Then, he drops a piece of chocolate in your palm and leaves with the dishes! In the event you feel like conversing at dinner, a table big enough for your all your girlfriends is available. When your BFF's join you, their personal chocolate-dropping cabana boys****** are in tow, so as not to take away from YOUR personal service.

4. After you've consumed just short of your yearly intake of calories and taken the needed potty break in your private restroom*******, a new sweetie-pie comes to tuck you in. He is tastefully dressed in Ralph Lauren; just the right mix of casual and cute. You are handed warm, liquid chocolate to drink before you fall asleep AGAIN.

5. One hour later, you are awoken by yet another lovely, who compliments you on how gorgeous you look after your "beauty sleep" and offers you a pound of chocolates as your parting gift.

You feel satisfied, beautiful, and pampered. And, you never see a bill. This whole adventure is charged to your husband's credit card as "groceries", so you never hear the griping that comes along with doing something for yourself.

Investors: Hurry! Call now! This proposal won't last! I'm taking offers to start this business, pronto.

Just remember, since I came up with the concept, I'm in charge of hiring, testing the chocolate, and sleeping.

*A figure which can only be achieved by copious amounts of caffeine, cigarettes and vomiting. How'd you like to kiss that at night? EW.

**If you thought I was making a pun, you outed yourself. I now know you've been to some men-only hideaway. And don't give me the sorry line "But, the wings are SOOOO good." Your Mother would be ashamed.

***A real dessert on the menu. Double EW.

****Always a dangerous proposition.

*****He arrives, fully clothed, in a Tommy Bahama outfit, barefoot.

******Though each man is wearing the same designer's clothes, none of the outfits "match", ruling out being served by anything but missionary-position loving men--though your reason for being at such a place has NOTHING to do with that line of thought. You're here for the lack of whiney children, dirty dishes and the abundance of chocolate. OH, the chocolate.

*******Which is devoid of boy urine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doggone it!

Disclaimer: I am a member of PETA*. If you don't like this, please don't read today's post.

If you ever visit the new and improved** Nowell house, you'll be greeted by two dogs: Big Tex Nowell (Tex) and Douglas Riley Nowell (Doug or Dr. N***) If you can't see them from the front door to know who is barking, you'll assume, by sheer body size, that Tex is the one giving you doggy lip. You'll be wrong. Tex really doesn't bark or growl much at all. He kind of the silent, brooding type. Tall, brindled and handsome. He just LOOKS like he should be the guard in the pack.

You see, Tex is a Whippet, which is a cross between a terrier and a greyhound. Emphasis on greyhound, genetically, because he is a member of the fastest breed of dog in the world. If you ever open our front door long enough for him to see a squirrel anywhere within a half-mile of our house, he'll PROVE it. It will be a long, angry run for you, because he won't willingly come back. You pretty much have to pull him home by the collar without his trophy rodent. Sadly, with all that speed comes a little slower processing speed upstairs. In the brainage department.

Doug, however, is a banty rooster****. He's a third the size of Tex and a cross between a terrier and a dachshund*****. He is nowhere as fast as Tex, but he makes up for it in the bark and brain power departments. For instance, he figured out that he can lap Tex around the backyard if he sticks close to the pool instead of going on the grass. Tex STILL hasn't figured this one out and, I think, harbors some resentment because of it.

Frankly, Tex has oldest sibling syndrome--he's not-so-secretly jealous of Doug for ruining his only-dog life after Dr. N came home with us from the shelter.

So today, as happens way too frequently in our house, it was time for a Costco run. After a "heavy" snack******, we left the house and Mike heard the dogs going after each other. From his office, he heard growling, barking, and, it sounded like, the dogs tearing each other apart. This was a De La Hoya v Tyson pay-per-view fight in the making. With no mouth guards. So bad were these two ripping each other new ones that, WWF fights, in comparison, should receive a "G" rating for violence.

Mike literally thought they were going to kill each other, so he left his office in pursuit of them. He found two dogs fighting over a bag of nuts. Mixed nuts. Organic, ridiculously priced, really good-for-you nuts. A snack someone didn't finish before we left for Spendtoomuchco.

It appeared that TEX was the source of the gnashing of teeth, growling and barking. Tex? You ask. Yes, the silent dog. Obviously, he was PISSED.

Now, I'm a FAIR dog owner. My motto is "What's good for the gander is good for the other gander", so I work hard to keep them both off the couch, anything that resembles a bed, or the kitchen table. I also give each of them the exact same number and size of treats, at the same time. I even work to give them the same amount of love. Obviously, my pursuit of fairness didn't work into this equation.

It was completely obvious, even though his IQ is low for a dog, that Tex REMEMBERED that, just the previous night, Doug had nabbed the ultimate after dinner cocktail, after jumping on the table and devouring TWO HOT DOGS once we had all left the kitchen for bedtime routines. I think Tex figured it was his turn to take snackage that we humans left behind. Anyway, he wasn't backing down.

Analyzing this from Tex's perspective, and being trained as a psychologist through the school of hard knocks and parenting, I came up with what was going through his mind

1. Those are MY nuts!!! Take your paws OFF them. About three weeks ago my Mom took me to a smelly place far away from home and they took mine off. Have some compassion, man--this is as close to doghood as I can get.

2. DUDE! You've had TWO hot dogs within the last 24 hours. I don't care if you soiled your cage afterwards and had to sleep in it the entire night, you still had the yummilicious experience of eating something that wasn't processed in a dog food factory. Besides, I had to SMELL your mess all night long. LET GO!!*******

Clearly, I should do the "right" thing and take Tex out back one night and give him a big ol' sirloin bone and a good petting. He's obviously a little sensitive about having a new, younger brother who is clearly headed to the doggy version of Mensa.

But, I don't roll that way. He got ahold of SOME of the nuts, which he stole off the COUNTER, and two wrongs from two dogs in twenty-four hours does NOT make a right.

So, instead, I'll patrol the counter and table a little more carefully this week. Maybe, if the dog-boys are REALLY lucky I'll give them some extra treats.

I'm darn sure not going to underestimate Tex again. Balls or no, that dog still has chutzpah.

*People Eating Tasty Animals. I only refuse to eat lamb and veal because I think those little cows and sheep should have better lives before the farmer shoots them between the eyes to present them to the butcher for me to buy.

**Partially improved, still in process of being remodeled.

***Get it? DRN for initials. Yeah, we think our poo doesn't stink 'cause we thought of that one.

****I dated one of these in my former life. He was a good two inches shorter than me and had muscles the size of Schwarzenegger. When he walked in the room the first time he met my brother, sweet bro almost spit out his beer, he was laughing so hard. Yeah, not a good dating decision. I hope all the steroids haven't rendered the banty sterile or homicidal.

*****One phrase: anal glands. Had I remembered that dachshunds have a little issue with butt scooting across expensive rugs when they become impacted, I would have put down the dog and never looked back.

******One of the many things I've learned over the years as a Mommy: if you don't want a bill at the checkout that rivals a politician's annual outlay for prostitutes, you tank up your kids on food and water before you leave. This reduces, but doesn't eliminate, the "Can I have that?" syndrome.

*******This is a true story, originating in the sub-7am-hours this morning. When the babe burst into our room and announced that this had happened, thankfully BEFORE he opened Doug's cage, I burst into action. Mike, however, was nowhere to be found until AFTER the mess was extricated from the cage. I am not, however, the least bit bitter about this.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Funny sayings 101

When you have kids, you hear funny sayings all day long. Problem is, they leave your brain at warp speed. So, I've decided to blog them as a way of "curing" my ever decreasing memory capacity.

Just today we were in the pool*. Correction: little one is in the pool and I am working on the computer beside it. Little one is swimming with "sharks". I kid you not. Throwing stuffed animals at the deep end, claiming they are killing the man-eaters. Poor little stuffed dogs.

Anyhoo, I'm listening to the story he is weaving while talking with a friend who is waiting for a plane to Boston. Intermittent to our telephone conversation are the pleas "Don't put Doug in the pool"** and "NO! Don't throw the chair in there."***
She, of the other end of the telephone, is cracking up and states conversations with me are always punctuated by the funniest statements yelled at my kids.

Yes, this is my life...a series of funny comments screamed to a short crowd of would-be men.

Mid-adult conversation, he, of the wet-set, exits the pool, after just about drowning the dog.

I ask "Did you kill all the sharks?"
His response? "No."
Logically, I retort, "Then get another animal to throw the shark's way and get back in the pool!"
Him: "I can't do that, he'll SHARK me."

Genius, sheer, genius. Anybody who has ever see "Jaws" knows EXACTLY what that was intended to convey***. I'm mentally lining up the SAT score that comes with such brilliance.

Then I check the pool and confirm that there IS a huge Great White in the deep end. In agreement, we grab a towel, and he dries off for the evening. Thus ended swimming for the afternoon.

Score for the day? Pool Sharks: one. Boy and stuffed animals: zero.

*One of my favorite poolside signs ever: "OOL. Notice there is no P in it." A crack-up every time.

**Lucky dog to have me as his protection. Only his back legs got wet. This time.

***It was completely spared.

****In case you were too afraid to watch "Jaws", he meant KILL. Now, get up the nerve and go rent it so you can be deathly afraid of large bodies of water like the rest of us in the Americas.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Eye Twitching Good Time

I have a friend who is the busiest person I've ever known who is still in the real world and not locked behind bars, gently swaying back and forth in a straight jacket, drooling like Niagara Falls. She simultaneously works a full-time job, raises two teenagers, creates entire musicals from scratch, and co-founds charity websites, all in about the time it takes most folks to complete a day. She is absolutely amazing. And, she has developed an eye twitch which she is attributing to overwhelming stress.

This past week I, by osmosis, became her twitching twin sister. All without a job, teenagers, musical or charity work to bring it on. It just started. Out of nowhere. And, it is just a little more than annoying.

When you have an eyelid flutter descend upon you it seems you are never in front of a mirror to check yourself out and there is never someone around who can answer, without giving you tons of grief, the question, "Is my eye twitching?" Likely the answer SHOULD be "No", but most of the people I associate with would respond something like "No. But, is my head spinning?" Smarty pants people seem to gravitate to me.

So, without really knowing what I look like during an attack of the peepers, I venture out to Subway. Now the nature of Subway creates an odd queue of people who are precariously close to one another and who are only a big piece of glass away from the ingredients for every one's sandwiches*. As I approach the line, this cute, thirty-something guy turns and smiles at me**. I smile back and proceed to ask the thousand questions it will take to try to pry out the ingredients for the sandwich my little lunch buddy wants***.

That's when the attack starts. My eyelid starts flipping around like a fish out of water. I grab my eyelashes and pull my eyelid out to see if I can stop the madness. No dice. I rub the eyelid, gently, so as not to disturb my mascara and/or eyeliner. Still twitching.

To my horror, Mr. Cutie decides it is now time to make conversation.

Mr. C to the sandwich makers "No, no. No bell peppers." Turns to me "I just can't stand the little things. I once read they are a gastronomic assault. Think it was in Bon Appetit."

My palpebra is now moving at mach speed. This guy obviously thinks
1. I look like I enjoy reading gourmet magazines and eating****
2. I really care
3. I'm flirting with him because I'M TWITCH-WINKING!

I smile and add "Me either", trying to be polite. He smiles widely and turns away to pay. I spend the rest of the time trying to get a sandwich dressed for my son. After blocking the line to the tune of about 24 people, we end up with ham, lettuce and mayo on wheat.

After I finish paying and turn to the table portion of the store, I realize he is staring at me and my son from his seated perch. And still smiling at us. Quickly assessing the situation I realize: He's an insta-stalker! Add two words to a smile and he thinks we have been friends since Junior High.

I now am doing everything in my power not to look his way because I don't want him to get anymore of a wrong idea than I fear he already has. Frankly, my twitching has reached the speed of sound and I can only imagine what would have happened if I had volunteered that I read the EXACT same story, about bell peppers in Bon Appetit, YEARS ago. He probably would have dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him, with my son as his best man.

Upon hitting the seat in my car, I lock the doors. Pulsating eyelid now veiled behind sunglasses, I feel confident to look up and surreptitously see what Mr C***** is doing. He has stopped looking my way. Thank goodness.

As we drive home I wonder if I overexaggerated this whole situation in my mind. Isn't it entirely possible HE was just being nice, too? Maybe he thought my son was cute******? Probably, my eye problem had nothing to do with it. Mrs. Twitch-O-Matic will never know.

Today I spoke with my under-eye-challenged friend. She is seriously considering a Botox injection to stop her "problem". We discuss the irony of reducing stress vs. covering the symptom with a poisonous substance. We mutally decide poison is the new wonder drug: risky, yes, but worth it*******.

To my twin friend: I hope your eye twitch ends before Botox begins. But, if it doesn't, please be the guinea pig and let me know how that whole thing pans out for you********. One thing's for sure: if you DO have an injection, you won't make any wrong impressions at your local Subway.

In the meantime, I'm doing my darndest to keep stress at bay, starting with a good nap and a right proper bedtime tonight.

More importantly, I'm steering clear of Subway.


*Am I the only one who has to swallow hard if someone sneezes onto the glass? I mean there is a seam, people! Please cover your mouth!

**Anther, obvious, trait: near-sightedness.

***TOO many choices for a sub-ten-year old to make. You could probably cure prostate cancer faster than a kid can dress a sandwich given so many choices.

Word to Subway: create a "short line" for the short people of this world. No bread, meat, topping, or spread free will. Just plain PB&J or ham and cheese. Period. Until you are old enough to respond to the sandwich artist in sub-30 seconds--for the whole six inches!

****Right you are, on both accounts, sonny boy. That explains a LOT about my body shape.

*****Which now means "Mr CRAZY".

******EW. Let's think of another reason.....

*******An eye twitch can be SO ANNOYING, that, if someone suggested swimming with piranha as a cure, because that would, no doubt, be more stressful than whatever was causing my eye twitch, I would consider it. Kind of like taking sugar for the hiccups. Except for the crazies of the world.

********With my needle phobia and all, I'm about three years away from getting the courage up to do this.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An attack of ADD

Disclaimer: I don't actually believe in the diagnosis of ADD. I think some of us are just wired differently. The term, however, does fit us well.....

One of my favorite radio personalities is Glenn Beck. He is funny, smart, sarcastic as all get out*, and he has attention problems. Has all his life. When he states "I'm just riddled with ADD today", I know I'm in for an auditory ride. Talk about jumping from subject to subject! It's brain gymnastics crossed with meth. All, without a single drug.

And, I love it. Because, deep down, I think I have the same problem.

Take a typical day of cleaning** in my house. Which reminds me, I FINALLY, last year, figured out why people hire maids. I thought, all along, I was doing what maids do. But, after decluttering the casa one day, I realized I had simply uncovered either an excavation site for a dinosaur dig or was living on dirt floors. Either one was gross. But, my "AHA!" moment was that the maid would CLEAN the dirt I exposed by picking up the Fisher Price monument that previously littered the house. OOOOOHHHHH YYYYEEAAAHHH, I get it***!

But, back to cleaning, uh, decluttering. I do this regularly, when I'm not too tired to get the Indianan Jones whip**** out and threaten my children. It seems to be such a daily job. I mean, come on people, couldn't you, just ONE day, wake up and not produce ANY mess?

Since this is a pipe dream, I forge on, lest we find ourselves surrounded by the odorific funk of a bloated animal beside the road in the August heat of Texas. NOT good*****.

The problem is that I'm either suffering from ADD or I am in the beginnings of dementia. I will pick up a stuffed animal, ostensibly to put it away where one of my sons should have to begin with, and start walking in the direction of said room. I make it about three paces and see a book that needs to go to an entirely different room, along with a plastic spoon that needs to find it's home in a cabinet two feet in front of me.

I manage to get the cabinet open and I'm interrupted by "I'M DONE!" I head for the bathroom, wipe a smallish bottom, wash my hands, and hear the phone ring. By the time I finish with potty duty and reach the phone, there is no one on the other end.

Since I'm now in the kitchen, I look around and realize the dishes need to be cleaned from both breakfast and lunch. As I stack the dishwasher, I hear the dryer cycle end. I move toward the laundry room. Once I've moved all the clothing out of the dryer and put another load in the washer, I remember I need to make a phone call.

Walking BACK into the kitchen, I find the number and dial the phone. After a lengthy conversation of three minutes, I literally have to figure out what I was doing prior to the phone call. I have no clue.

I look around the room, hoping something, ANYTHING, will jog my memory. Thankfully, I see the open dishwasher and finally finish stacking everything.

Now we are deep into the afternoon and the day is really pretty much finished, in terms of household duties, because we have carpool, homework, sometimes a practice (or two), dinner, baths, and bed. If I'm lucky enough not to fall asleep after trying to create the "perfect" bedtime routine******, I can assess the "progress" I've made.

Here's what I find:
1. From early in the afternoon, in the midst of being called for booty-wiping duty, I have left two items on the bathroom counter. They have been joined by a plastic frog from a birthday party, which I'm pretty sure didn't jump there itself, a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine underwear, and toothbrushes. And, there is pee on the toilet seat--AGAIN.

2. Moving to the laundry room, I discover the clothes from the dryer. They made it into a basket earlier in the day but are now wrinkled beyond recognition. Since I HATE ironing, they get scheduled for another pass through the wonder dryer*******! The clothes in the washer will have to wait. If the load mildews, it'll be, conveniently, still in the washer, sent back through another cycle sometime in the future.

3. As I exit the laundry room, I realize I've found the plastic spoon I was about to put in the cabinet before the babe needed his posterior cleaned. I literally don't remember moving this spoon from the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the laundry room. Grossed out, it goes back to the kitchen, to join the dinner dishes in the dishwasher. At least one thing in the house ended up, almost, where it belongs!

4. As I enter the TV/play room to finally lie down and relax for a few moments, I see that a silent tornado entered the area sometime between noon and seven pm. It made no noise, but it threw crayons, paper, trucks, Legos, and blocks all about. It also disturbed the shelf of DVDs, displaced the TV remote, and took out every blanket and, handily, piled them in one spot, pseudo-fort like. When it ate a snack, it didn't bother to pick up any of the dishes. In disgust, I close the door and vow to forget the whole, sordid mess. A glass of wine should help!

5. Opening the refrigerator reminds me of my need to clean out long-since expired foods. I start examining the contents of the fridge, after a generous pour of wine, and realize there is a stuffed animal in the meat drawer. This jogs my memory, reminding me that the very first thing I picked up to put away this morning was a stuffed animal. Now, I just need to figure out if I put it there or if the tornado monster did it when he came for a piece of string cheese...

My day has come full circle! And I realize why I feel a bond with the mouse in the kid's book "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie"--he's obviously consumed by ADD, too, and his days are completely circular, just like mine! I feel for that little mouse. Obviously, he's not getting anything much accomplished, either. But, at least HE gets a cookie at the end.

I recently read an article that stated I should keep track of the tasks I accomplish in a day, so I feel better about what's been done. The idea was conceived by the writer to help us poor souls of the Mommy-set understand that we are actually getting more done in a day than we realize. That's a great idea since, as a Mom, I hardly ever finish a project to the point of satisfaction.

So, I decide to give this a try. By the end of the day, I have managed to write down one thing: "made phone call to dentist to reschedule appointment for child's tooth to be fixed"********. Then I accidentally lost the list.

I'm sure I'll find it, someday in the future, when I manage to get to the bottom of the baskets of dirty laundry, under the clothes which have mildewed to the point of looking like some science experiment in the lab of a major pharmaceutical company.

At least there, my mildew would serve a purpose....

Here, in the Nowell household? Not so much.

*Yes, I speak Texan.

**Ha, ha. I made a funny. People would line up and pay good money to see me do this.

***But, I'm still WAY TOO CHEAP to act on it. So, don't take off your shoes when you enter Casa de Nowell, lest you track home dirt.

****A toy, with a plastic handle and fabric "whips", that plays the theme song to the movie. ALMOST, but not quite, as annoying as Helen Reddy songs.

*****This is currently the smell emulating from the Prius. That is why I'm forcing the good people at Car Spa to take my credit card and clean it for me. Then it will smell like dead animal and baby powder.

******This is a myth. Any person who writes about creating perfect bedtime routines has never raised three kids simultaneously. I'm sorry, you can't read age-appropriate books to each one, in their own room, and have the other two not run around the house, buck naked, waving their penises at one another. That pretty much rules out "peaceful".

*******Can you say "steam cycle"? Specifically designed for people with ADD who can't manage to get the clothes on hangers or laid flat right after the cycle completes. In a word: ME!

*******A permanent tooth. Partially broken by a kick to the head and contact with the floor. Result: status as a hillbilly until the dentist appointment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

360 degree hour glass

I have come to the mind-numbing realization that my shape, now that I am 43 and have gained back all the Weight Watchers weight I previously lost*, has never been defined for publication in a journal for any profession that keeps track of such things.

I've become a 360 degree hour glass.

What is a 360DHG shape like? Well, it requires a little history to explain.

Back in the 80's, when I worked in the local Burger King, I ate the same meal every shift, probably, on average, about three times/week: A Whopper with cheese, extra mayo and tomato, an order of onion rings, with mayo for dipping, and a vanilla shake**. Do you recognize the magnitude of calories in this "meal"? Villages in Vietnam survive on fewer calories in a YEAR.

What did I do for exercise? Aerobics, which were just coming into fashion***, and tennis****. Weight? Constant. Brother's friends? Gawkers, much to bro's disgust. Stomach? Flat as a pancake. Body shape? Perfect hour glass. I had reached the peak of hotness not realizing there was nowhere to go but down.

In college I gained the requisite poundage but managed to avoid eating by drinking at fraternity parties*****. Strange how that paradigm works. Hour glass figure maintained by beer and shots. AHEM.

After college I found a friend who loved to run. Not just around the block, but around the world, ala Ironman triathlons and such. She whipped my post-partying butt back into shape with 5Ks. I could see the hour glass again!

Then I met, married and had babies. Each subsequent munchkin added his own brand of tattoo to my body: stretch marks, varicose veins, cellulite. I had reached a low point in my body's ability to bounce back.

So, when I looked in the mirror today, and did the "twirl" to see what Mike might be seeing, I was aghast. I was still an hour glass head-on, but when I moved from due North to due West, there was ANOTHER hour glass. This one was accentuated at the top by a view of my sagging breasts and at the bottom by my protruding post-birth tummy in the front and my J-Lo-challenging hiney in the back! The waist, an ever consistent, smaller part of my body, was the anchor in the midst of the storm. Truly, the more I twirled, the more I realized I was just ROUND at the top and at the bottom, just like a REAL hourglass.

I twirled more. Maybe the movement would change things!? I rubbed my eyes. Surely, this wasn't happening to MY body? When did it become so, so, FRUMPY?

In case you aren't understanding, ladies, try this exercise at home:

1. Strip buck naked.

2. Look in the mirror.

3. Use your right hand to close your jaw. Yes, that's YOUR body.

4. Examine what you see facing forward. The world wants an hour glass--think 36", 26", 36".

5. Tell the world to "GO TO HELL!"

6. Turn to the side. If your tummy isn't as flat as a board, your bottom has dimples in it, or your nipples face South, put on your robe, find one of your children, and spank him/her. He/she did this to you. Good luck finding the other culprits, time and gravity.

Needless to say, I fail the criteria for a "perfect" body. Even my skin has decided to revolt and go through puberty again. Just last week my face presented me with a zit worthy of the night before prom. WHAT gives?

In just a few weeks I'll be seeing my doctor. I've made the decision that I am going for "healthy" this school year, not just thin. So, I'll have blood drawn, and listen to a lecture on all the things I'm neglecting and should be doing for a woman of "my age". I might even act on some of these things.

But, more importantly, I'm going to listen to what Mike says and be as happy as he is with what is left of my once stellar figure. I won't pass up every bite of cake or glass of wine or worry about getting to the gym every day just to try to keep nature from taking its toll.

As Stuart Smalley would say, "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and, Doggone It, People Like Me!"

Even if my body resembles a 360 degree hour glass.

*NEVER move and try to renovate two houses all at the same time. You'll find yourself eating out at places that have a steady stream of grease being pumped in their backdoor and straight into YOUR meal.

**I always restrained myself and got the medium size.

***I looked really cute in my leotard and leg warmers. Not Flashdance cute, but close enough.

****Yes, I was on the team. Until I had bunion surgery my Senior year. What a dope.

*****Hate to break it to you, Mom and Dad. It wasn't all about the studying....

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Taxi Moms" unite!

Among the many amazing talents I possess as a Mom is that of taxi driver. I am on call from 7am to 7:30pm* for three small gentlemen who have places to go and friends to see, all at a head-spinning rate of frequency. There are schools to visit, math, karate and soccer lessons to attend, play dates to enjoy and birthday parties for the sole purpose of seeing how much sugar and noise each kid can tolerate before they collapse in a bundle of nerves at my feet whining "Do we HAVE to leave?"

It never seems to stop.

Which bring me to a day, much like those before it, where I was, SURPRISE!, in the car driving. Oddly, it was just me and the babe. Even more oddly, the radio was off**. It was really off-puttingly silent.

Then it happened. Another vehicle decided I looked like I needed to have every muscle in my body contract, all the hair on my arms stand at attention, and my overfull purse fall off the chair, cascading long forgotten, half-sucked peppermints, kid's socks, and other treasures deposited by my children, onto the floorboard. He cut me off, coming a breath away from my front bumper, going about 60MPH!

After my neurons stopped firing I assessed the situation, realizing
1. WHEW! He didn't hit me.
2. Thank goodness nobody is going to rear-end me.
3. Praise the Lord! I didn't soil myself.

THEN, I got a wee bit edgy. But, instead of shooting a one-finger salute*** or hitting my horn for an inordinately long blast, I did something so very odd that it wasn't even in character for me.

I started singing a HELEN REDDY song. Not just any Helen Reddy song. One of the most ANNOYING songs on record: "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady"****.

Now on which level of Dante's Inferno is this song being played non-stop, as elevator music for the masses of burning souls? I ask because singing this song is Hellish on too many fronts to count. Among them:

a. it completely reveals my ever-increasing age, as this song was recorded somewhere around 1915

b. the lyrics are so grammatically incorrect that they cause nerve damage to those of us qualified to teach English

c. it's a whiny song. I get enough of that at home from my kids. Just leave the guy already and STOP SINGING ABOUT IT, HELEN! With all the money you've made off this drivel, you can afford to be alone for awhile.

So, I break into song, at a deafening level*****. After about three passes of the refrain (because it's all I knew before looking up the lyrics), I realize that I have an audience. My audience-of-one is looking at me in seemingly extreme pain. His face expresses he is mortified******, disgusted, and about to cry, especially if I don't stop IMMEDIATELY. Which, I do. Followed by the statement, "Oh, I'm sorry, honey! Helen Reddy is really annoying, isn't she?"

Without a hint of sarcasm or hesitation, he says, "No. YOU are."

DING, DING, DING. Give the man-to-be a prize. He's right! I was being annoying. Helen Reddy was nowhere to be found, probably recording another catchy, offensive tune somewhere in Canada.

Which brings up a good point for ALL taxi-driver Moms everywhere: shouldn't we have carte blanche to do what we want in our roadsters? I mean, given the number of miles we log, with no remuneration, aren't we entitled to a little stress-induced, Helen Reddy-producing reaction every once in a blue moon? It's not like we're dragging our families to karaoke night every Tuesday at Sushi To Go to sing "Like a Virgin".

I'm not sure this query has a good answer. All I know is that, in my golden years, I'm getting a two-seater convertible, so when I get the urge to sing, I can throw the top back and belt it out. Since my only passenger will be my purse*******, I'm going where I want to go.

Hopefully, my voice won't cause birds to spontaneously combust and fall to the Earth in rain showers of death.

And, if I'm REALLY lucky, by then I'll have long forgetten Helen's insidious, evil refrain.

*If the little darlings had their way it would be later. But, darn, they need their beauty sleep.

**I like to listen to preacher's preach when I drive. Keeps me from killing rude commuters who can't have any place more important to go than I.

***Which the babe, being of the age of imitation, would have shown the church secretary AND the Bishop.

****QUICK! Sing something, anything, else before the abhorrent lyrics get stuck in your brain and you can't help but sing it to yourself!

*****With as much gusto as a wanna-be contestant auditioning for American Idol.

******Did I mention I don't sing well?

*******Which will contain only a credit card, lipstick and non-sucked-upon mints. Oh, and Mike wants it known that he'll have his OWN convertible. But no purse.