Saturday, July 31, 2010

Post-Apocalyptic Explanation

Today is a new day, complete with a new found understanding of my temporary insanity*.

Let's just say that Mike is a lucky man for being out-of-town and the boys got a (potential) taste of the monthly ups and downs of being married.

God help them all.

I wonder/fear/worry that this is the beginning of THE CHANGE. Heavens to mergatroid if this is what the next three to five years of life are going to be about.

Here's the honest truth:

I'm about to endure "tropical summers" in the dead of winter, where I throw the covers back and scream "Who's been messing with the thermostat again?"

I'm going to open the box to the tampons and read "Have a happy period" with much more frequency and much less calendar accuracy.

I'm going to start to notice wrinkles in places where only shar pei puppies SHOULD have them**.

I'm going to have to down the equivalent of a keg of water every day to retain any sense of hydration***.

I'm going to continue to look at pictures of me and think "GOSH. I am SO.MUCH.CUTER in the mirror than in pictures. What the hay?"

Seriously, God? This is our just reward for making it through the pitfalls of zitty tweenhood, the emotional roller coaster of the teen years, angst in our twenties over "will he/won't he call?", the stress of planning a wedding, pregnancy and giving birth, and attempting to remain sane while raising children and dogs? REALLY?

Next time, could we have all that followed by a change that includes smoother skin, fewer dimples, heat/cold regulation according to the season, and appetites that despise carbs and pine for fruits and veggies?

That would make for a nice "middle" age, wouldn't it?

But, apparently, God, you have a GREAT sense of humor when it comes to us here middle-aged womenfolk.

So, you had someone invent a musical called "Menopause", which I intend to buy season tickets to. For the next decade.

After all, if laughter is the best medicine, I guess I should start taking mine in ginormous quantities, lest I revert to the hag I was yesterday.

Anyone up for ticket sharing? Anyone?

*There is a delicious lack of responsibility that descends when your husband has a vasectomy and you are no longer required to track a calendar to be sure you are/are not pregnant. But, with that freedom also comes ignorance. Let's just say, I was beyond clueless that a complete month in my life had passed. And, even though I had ALL the symptoms, I wasn't putting two-and-two together.

**Like under my breasts. As if there is a point in that.

***Even then, I'll still be about as humidified as a dead ant after 100 days, whose body retired at the closest point to the sun, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Apologies of the MommaJ Sort

Dear Friends:
Wow have I ever been doing a lot of gritching* lately! If you have been on the receiving side of any of my rants**, haunted my blog over the last half-dozen posts or so, or even been within spitting distance of Dallas, please accept my apologies.

I would dearly love to blame the monthly curse or a full moon or withdrawals from some drug meant to induce serenity. Alas, I have no one to blame but myself.

So, today, I am making a turnaround***.

Today I am going to pick up the ball of sanity and calmly respond to the 44th request for a new video game with a smile instead of an ear-piercing shriek about it "only-being-8:15a.m.-and-what-about-the-other-643-games-we-already-own?"

Today I am going to subsist on something besides Coors Light, chocolate chips, and scraps of food left on plastic plates by the little munchkins who live with me.

Today I am going to ignore any person who tries to screw with my sanity, especially those who decide it would be appropriate to dial 9-1-1 to report "dog abuse" to the police because I left Doug inside the Prius while I ran in to get the kids from the gym. A car that was idling with the A/C on, noiseless, because it is a hybrid****.

Today I am going to go to bed at a reasonable hour, even though we are leaving town in the morning and my list of things to do is a mile long. If we arrive with one change of clothes, a bathing suit, and a bottle of water each, I'll count it as a victory.

So, rejoice, friends! I am working toward becoming the "old" MommaJ again. You know her: she's "type A" all the way, squeamish around blood, and jacked up on ADD.

You gotta love me.

*A combo of griping and bitching.

**Whether by phone, in person, or by evil eye. Take your pick.

***Attempting to make a turnaround. OK. Mabye just turning around until I'm dizzy. But, it's a start.

****Her comment upon seeing me round the corner into the SHADED part of the parking lot? "Do you know how wicked hot it is in your car? Your dog is dying!" My retort? "Thanks for your concern. But this is a hybrid, which is running, and the A/C has been on while I was inside." Her response? "Oh." + a quick exit, stage left.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Notice of Violation

I am generally a cautious driver. I gave up tailgating in my twenties, along with not having a designated driver.

My kids complain ferociously about the fact that they still have to sit in booster seats and wear their seat belts until the car comes to a complete halt.

Overall, I'd say you are in good hands when I am behind the wheel. But, apparently the City of Dallas had a bone to pick with me.....and here is the nicest retort they won't ever receive from one of their taxpayers.

Dear Sophia M. Gray, ID#1224,Enforcement Officer for the City of Dallas:

Thank you for the ultra-kind letter you sent to my house today. It was completely unexpected but well written (and, since I'm an English teacher by trade, you can take that as a BIG compliment.)

I really enjoyed the video link showing my car crossing the Alpha/Dallas North Parkway intersection on 7/13/2010 at 12:48:40pm. I actually remember that moment in my mind, so it was awesome to see it again. I find it interesting that I was in the intersection for .369 seconds after the light turned red. Silly me!

Actually, truth-be-told, my butt cheeks still hurt a little from the clenching I did when I realized "I can either gun it and get through as fast as possible or slam on the brakes and end up in the middle of the intersection." I opted for gunning it, given that our Armada hasn't had a good engine cleaning in years and I figured one huge acceleration might knock some of the junk out. That, and, quite possibly, keep me from being pummeled by four lanes of traffic heading North off the crosswalk line at warp speed.

But, you know Sophia, somehow, I don't think any of that would matter in court, would it?

I was pretty pleased when I looked around to see no red light violation thingamajiggies in sight. But, by golly! You guys are good! Perching the cameras on the SIDE of the Galleria? Cheeky monkeys, aren't you?

Thanks for sharing the four ways I can pay the very reasonable $75 fine your letter requested. I have a feeling you'll be receiving a check by mail, postmarked the day it is due, but, who knows! Meeting you in person might be fun; maybe we should do lunch the day I bring the money to your office!? That is, if your law enforcement job doesn't have you all tied down that day.

Anyway, I hope your afternoon has been filled with at least one of the following pleasures: a root canal, a routine colonoscopy or a mammogram. After all, your letter brought about that much joy to my life, so I can only wish for you the same.

Your neighbor,
Jill Nowell

Friday, July 23, 2010


Some people live by GPS. They couldn't find their way around a dark bedroom without their Garmin and a power cord. To them, Mapsco is an ancient art only practiced by those of us who remember all the lyrics to Madonna's first album.

Some people live by their Blackberry. If they accidentally dropped it, cracking the glass screen, they'd tear their hair out and be put in a funny farm.

Me, on the other hand, I live by CTS. Mine is conveniently, discreetly even, contained in a plastic, mint green housing that was less than $10.

Lately, if I am outside the reach of my little verde beauty, I find myself going a little bonkers. Because, in case of an emergency, I am likely to forget my CTS number. The "Countdown To School" number, that is.

You see, it is my beacon. A lighthouse, if you will, of when I will be able to return to my "normal" self. That is, a horribly desperate, time-indulgent, "When is MY break from this Motherhood stuff?" kind of person.

Some of you, who are bidding your first child adieu this fall, are reading this thinking "I'm going to unfriend her on Facebook. Clearly she has lost her mind. I'm having so much fun sleeping in late, making macaroni frames, and eating lunches at the McDonald's playground. If she is going to have a nervous breakdown, I don't want to witness that."

Some of you who, like me, have multiple kids who have entered school in year's past, feel just as I do: there's a whole lot of summer between spring and fall. And there isn't enough macaroni to bridge the gap.

CTS is like a persistent rash. You always know it is there, but there are times you just can't resist scratching the living hell out of it.

For example, today, when we had to drive 45 minutes in the Prius, mushed together in our crankiness and desire for the A/C to find its way to the backseat*.

Heat, to the under ten set, is positively wicked. They hate it, complain about it, and complain some more.

Then, they get a kind of pissy that is generally reserved for animals backed into a corner by a stiff, dusty broom. And the teeth and the attitude show themselves.

Then, hands start to find their way outside the confines of the seat in which they've been placed, into the zone of other people. And those other people? They are now Africa-hot, cranky plus space-violated. And, they begin to scream. A type of scream that pierces ears and shatters glass.

More than once, on our journey to Hades today, I had to announce**, "Boys. Your mouths are in time-out." OR "If I pull this car over you are getting a bare bottom spanking." OR "Put your hands in your lap and shut your mouth. Don't talk or move until I tell you to."

And, on the way back to Dallas? I actually DID pull the car over. The pleading and "NO!" began the minute the car starting slowly down and yanking to the shoulder, over the bumps designed to wake overtired/drunk people and keep them from killing themselves**.

I yelled at the top of my lungs***. I explained, in no uncertain terms, that the whining, touching, and negativism**** were going to stop or someone was going to get it*****.

At some point, in between the yelling and figuring out when I could safely pull back into traffic without being pummeled by cars going 75mph, I realized my CTS wasn't in the car. I accidentally left it at home.

You know the painting "The Scream", the one with the alien looking creature doing an impression of Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone? I was doing a REALLY FINE impression of that dude. "What was I thinking? I have no idea how many days before school starts. It could be MONTHS for all I know."

It was a moment where I understood why people keep their Prozac handy. It was an emergency.

Upon arriving home, I found, kissed, and opened****** my lovely calendar to "July 2010". And proceeded to do the following calculation:

"Nine days in July plus 22 days in August equals 31 days, excluding this very day."

And a peace descended.

I knew I could do ANYTHING for 30 days.

And, if I had any doubts, I knew, two feet away was the pantry, which had an unopened bag of chocolate chips waiting for me to assault.

The world became my oyster again.

But, stay tuned. With a scant 30 days to go, there is still plenty of time for a nervous breakdown to occur.

*Note to the good people of Toyota, Inc: A/C that begins blowing ice cold air before we EXIT the car would be nice. Thank you.

**Good barriers might be a better idea. Don't we really WANT the drunks OFF the road anyway??

***It wasn't pretty and I think I busted a vein in the middle of my forehead doing it. But, hey! The next 29 miles were positively blissful!

****There is an absolutely delicious irony in yelling at your kids about being negative.

*****I had no earthly clue was the IT was, but I knew IT was coming if they didn't stop.

******In that exact order.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A "Lady" is NOT in the building

~FYI: Even though today's topic is about a popular singer, it is NOT for children. Please be careful reading this around children who can read.~

I saw, on our local news at 5pm, that Lady Gaga is in town for a concert. Not knowing much about her, I decided to look up some of her lyrics. Even though I only listen to Christian music on KLTY, my kids have heard the refrain from "Poker Face" and sometimes sing just that riff, since they know nothing else of the song.

So, I searched for "Poker Face". Title seemed innocuous enough. And, frankly, it's a catchy little refrain.

I am alternately happy and sad I looked this up.

Happy because I now know that my radio dial should NEVER leave KLTY or a well-chosen CD. Sad because this is what I found:

lyrics that... encourage getting a boy "hot so you can show him what you've got", playing Russian roulette, equating "rough" with love (Ms. Gaga, is that being hit or rough sex, pray tell), refusing to say you love someone b/c you are only bluffin' via sex, and references to female anatomy that include "muffin" and "love-glue".

Now that I've gagged myself by dissecting this song, I have to tell you that I understand where Mrs. Gore was all those years ago.

This is just disgusting. It's sad for society and especially our young girls, who are already sexualized enough and seem to be expected to perform sexually outside of marriage to keep up with the Joneses**. It's sad for the boys, who are confused over how girls are supposed to act, even in the face of being taught that you should respect young ladies***. Overall, our kids are the ones who suffer because both sexes will have a harder time trying to keep themselves pure to marriage.

This is why I don't watch the news. Am I wrong not to want to know that this is what America thinks is "great" music? Am I wrong not to want to know that a Mom killed her autistic kids with Draino because they weren't perfect? Am I wrong to want to move to a deserted island with my kids and read nothing but the Bible and books by good Christian authors?

I love this country, but sometimes our freedom creates way too much freedom. If you have no values or morals, you are absolutely at the mercy of those like Lady Gaga.

Incidentally, honey, I think the same person who named Madonna must have named you. There is no comparison between her and the Mother of God, just as there is nothing "lady" like about you.

"Be careful little ears what you hear. When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near."--Casting Crowns (Slow Fade)

*If you must confirm the ridiculous nature of these lyrics, here's the link. Proceed at your own risk.....

**Thank you "Women's Lib". You should be ashamed of yourselves.

***How long can we expect our boys to behave in the face of short skirts, low tops, grinding dances, half-naked posters in the mall, and peer pressure?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Reading List

I noticed today that my conglomeration of books that get dragged out of the house every time I leave for more than 24 hours is odd. Strange. Wacky.

I think it must be the way my brain is wired. That being, I don't stick to one topic for long periods of time without getting extremely bored.

I'm the gal that couldn't imagine working for the same company, in the same job, for more than about 2.5 years. Being a "lifer" at T.I. just wasn't/isn't in my blood.

Which leads me to wonder: how am I able to enjoy and be completely, totally, utterly committed to my family for the long haul? I'm still working on figuring out the differences on that one.

Back to my original reason for writing this: summer books.

Here's the list:
So Long Insecurity: you've been a bad friend to us by Beth Moore
Completely life-altering, if you allow it to be. This book caused me to put a microscope on myself and look into places that were deeply hurt, saddened, and full of shame, and release all my insecurities squarely in God's lap. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Change your Brain, Change you Body by Dr. Daniel Amen
Jury's out on this one. I've listened to the four CDs in the car and agree with a lot of what Dr. Amen says, but the fact that he leaves "gut health" out of the equation just doesn't sit well with me. I'd say the CDs are a good start if you are a novice at the whole "healthy living" perspective.

My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being a Dumb Ass Is the New Black, or a Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster
I was separated at birth from this girl; she got 90% of the girlie genetic material and I got too much testosterone. But, I can completely see sitting drinking margaritas with her and having such a liquor/ADD fest that we'd both pee our pants. I've been a fan of hers through four books and this one is shaping up to be another fav. Warning: if you caught that there is a curse word in the title, then you can imagine there is cussing in the book. Put this on a high shelf so Jen doesn't teach your newly-minted reader sailor-worthy swear words.

The Invisible War: What Every Believer Needs to Know About Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare by Chip Ingram
Haven't started this yet. Somehow it made it to the bottom of one of my bags and just resurfaced (sorry Shelley!) But, since I've had more than my share of angels and demons visit me in the past (bring a bottle of wine and a couple of hours for these stories), I KNOW this stuff is real--not to mention the fact that it is referred to in the Bible. I also know I've just left a time of warfare, so I want to prepare myself for the next onslaught. Because, there will be one.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
I listened to this book on a road trip. I have been a fan of Dave's for awhile now, but now I'm a mega-fan. So much good, practical advice coupled with gentle and hard kicks in the pants. Plus, Dave reads the book with that charming Tennessee drawl. What's NOT to love?

So, what are you reading this summer? Anything you'd recommend? Eventually I'll be done with this stack so I'm looking for my next reading fix. Please supply me so I don't go into withdrawals. OK?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Here's Your Sign

So, as I stated yesterday, my cousin was due to arrive at the airport last night. 'Cept, that didn't happen.

Why? Because I've been moving at warp speed all week and have had Thursday on my mind. Not Georgia. Not my calendar. Thursday.

Last night, I checked American Airlines' website. Flight delayed two plus hours. Thank you unseasonably rainy weather.

So, I diligently checked the clock about everything 13 minutes and trucked it to the airport at 9:45pm, sat in baggage claim C15, watched the empty carousel for about 20 minutes until I saw the "Detroit" and "1747" pop up. "Any minute now." I thought, staring at the glass that separates the travelers from the wannabes.

I saw all sort of people come through the revolving door. None of them were my cousin.

Then I started to panic. "She's only 21! What if something happened in Detroit and NOBODY knows she's been abducted. I didn't start traveling solo until I was 24. What the heck was I thinking encouraging her to come here by herself? I'm never forgive myself if something has happened."

Then, I came to my senses and texted her "Where ru i'm at c15".*

What seemed like an eternity later, my phone rang. A very reluctant cousin asked if I was at the aiport. "Why, yes!"**

Well, a few seconds later and a "Thank you for making a trip to the airport tonight", I realized I had come 24 hours too early.

DUH hardly begins to cover it.

As luck would have it, we have another storm overhead right now. I'm sure the flight will be delayed. But, by golly, with my dry run out of the way, I'm loaded for bear tonight.

Let's just hope my brain has tripped back to "on" mode and I can find my way home after picking her up.

*I stink at texting. The only way I would even consider sexting Mike was if we had a pact that he wouldn't laugh at all the misspelling and ruin the "moment".


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Late tonight, my cousin from Michigan will join us for a week of Texas "stuff". We'll do the usual suspects such as the Mesquite Rodeo and Southern Junction but we'll also be catching a couple of movies and maybe a pedicure along the way.

The boys are SO excited to have the first "official" guest in the house. I was so thrilled I used it as an excuse to finally clear out the guest bedroom/Mommy retreat and fixed it up purty-like. I even used PINK.*

As I was tucking the wee little Babe in tonight, I learned he has decided to be the first to run to cousin's room in the morning and wake her up.

So, we practiced knocking**. And not opening the door before being invited in.

Then he added what he was going to say. He was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious excited about this part and was practically shouting when he said, "I'm going to walk in and say DOCTOR DOODLE DOO!"

It took every fiber in my body to not morph from wide smile to laugh. It was too precious not to hear again, so we practiced it.

And, no. I didn't correct him. Life will do that, someday.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I think basking in the joy of being the resident rooster/doctor is what life is all about.

*For those of you who know me, I'm not much into pink, so my pink looks like it has been shot with red food coloring and left for dead. "Shocking punk rock pink" might be an apt description.

**I know this seems obvious, but the first time we went through the routine, he almost knocked the paint off his headboard. Second time around, with me saying "Gently. Gently.", the sound was inaudible. I'm just not sure HOW this will play out in the morning.