Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Thursday Three

In my ongoing quest to shake things up, I thought this could be interesting. It would be very cool to read what other people have to say, too. Hint, hint.

Three Jobs I Have Had In The Past.

Note that I say past, so you won't see nursing on here. Also, even though I fully believe it's a real job, I'm not putting on stay-at-home mom, either. These are jobs from my more distant, murky past. And not even all of them. Ready?

#1. Cocktail Waitress. At both a Mexican restaurant and a dinner house.This was during my college years. (The first time around, when I was young, stupid and relatively cute). I was possibly the worst employee to ever put on a frilly aproned uniform. I wasn't just bad, I was supremely bad. It didn't help that I worked nights and hung out with a crowd that spent the days laying on the beach partying. We would stumble in for our night shifts sunburned and with not a care in the world. The bartender, who thought he was a lot cuter than he really was, kept trying to get on the good side of all the single girls by keeping a coffee cup filled with Kamikazes the whole shift. The entire staff was a soap opera, and I'm sorry to admit that I played my part in the drama. Much of that time was a blur, but I remember enough to make me never want to do it again. I'm sure any of my customers would be happy to second that. Let's examine my flaws, shall we? Well, I hate being told what to do for starters. I really dislike rude people, to name one more. And how about this - I hate sucking up to people for money, even if it is in my job description. Now add in the fact that I can be just a touch mouthy and the customers could be a touch feely and it was a nightmare. For everyone involved. Enough said.

#2. Artist's Model. I worked as a figure model off and on from the time I was eighteen until I was pregnant with Sasquatch, mostly at Art Center College of Design. I got the job to start with because we have a very dear family friend who booked the models and she thought it would be a good opportunity for me. I, of course, was very interested until that whole business about taking your clothes off came up, and then I took some persuading. What ultimately won me over was the money, which was terrific, especially for a teenager who still lived at home. Still, I will never forget the first time I got up on a well lit stand in front of about twenty students and stripped down to nada. I was petrified, until I noticed that they couldn't give a rat's behind, and from then on it was like a dream job. We would hold our poses for twenty five minutes and break for five. If it was a painting class you'd usually keep the same pose all day, but if it was a drawing class you'd change poses every time you took a break. What I loved was that when you were holding the pose your mind could just be a million miles away, since no one expected you to do anything else. I was a journalism major, and I would write entire articles in my head while I posed, and then jump up and write them down as quickly as I could on my breaks.

#3. Movie Studio Page. For Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. This was my first job after I graduated from college, and boy, was it an eye opener. As a page we gave private studio tours
and worked the television shows that taped with a live audience. We also got hired out to the various production companies and worked a lot of award shows and private parties. The pay was horrendous and the uniforms nasty, but the lot was crawling with celebrities and we got to be part of the action. We got invited to everything.
The lure was that the job was just a stepping stone to better things, and the line we heard all the time was "Do you know how many people would kill to have your job?" A lot of people said to hell with it and went on to do something lucrative (and respectable) like banking, but a lot of us stuck it out to see what would happen.

Sure enough, it was a stepping stone to better things, and I stayed at Paramount until right before Sasquatch was born. It's an era of my life I'll never forget and I came out of that place with enough good stories to last me a lifetime. I don't tell them often though, because for some reason I feel self conscious about it. In California there's a million of me. In the Midwest...not so much.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


My mom flies in next Monday afternoon from LA, and after we pick her up at the airport we're heading to their wonderful lake house for five or six days. The Film Geek is staying home since his summer classes start next week, but the kids and I are really looking forward to it. This vacation house is so calming to adults that they should bottle it, but for kids it's a little more problematic. You see, this charming cabin, this idyllic little waterfront paradise, this retreat from the world at large is not wired. There are two TV's, but...No Cable. No Internet. No Cell Phone Reception. All the things that make it so appealing to adults in fact, but confuse the kids. I did my huge spiel on how it is possible to live without electronics and how society has been doing it for eons with no ill effect. Still, each one of the three has taken me aside individually to casually inquire as to the status of the cable. So yesterday, cell phone in hand, I put the question to my mother.

The answer - no cable. Maybe for the longer trip she and my step-father are planning in July, but not at this stage in the game. And before we go any further, let me offer a disclaimer. I know my mother reads this daily (since her initial call yesterday was to check on my headache) and I want to go on record here that I'm not lobbying for some last minute cable intervention at the lake. This is not a passive aggressive move to have the cable guy on a ladder by tomorrow. I'm just thinking out loud here. Okay, mom? And Stu? This is not a personal plea. Honest. This is just what happens when you have a kid who opens her mouth and emits stream of consciousness babble.

But I am a planner by nature, often to my detriment, so I am considering my options. I've already planted the idea in Sasquatch's brain that this would be a great time to start our Harry Potter marathon. And I've already said that they can bring gaming systems with them to play on the televisions, although three kids and two TV's is it's own issue. To be totally honest Surfer Dude and Gumby spend a lot of time outside, so this shouldn't be a deal breaker. I myself intend to spend as much time as possible catching up with my mom on the deck, with the lake filling in the majority of the view. I'll have a big glass of cold wine in my hand, and my brain will be rolling over all the wonderful things I can blog about.

On the internet. Uh oh. Um, mom?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Long Twelve Hours

Consider the headache.

I know I did yesterday. All stinkin' day long. I showed up at work at 9:40 in a relatively okay mood about working the holiday even though I was missing our first neighborhood Memorial Day parade since we bought the house (last June 1st). I walked on to the unit, said hello to a couple of people, and all of a sudden got slammed with a headache so bad I couldn't see anything but sparkles out of my left eye. If I got migraines, which I don't, I'd go so far as to call it an aura. For about fifteen minutes I provided comic relief to my coworkers as I walked into walls and various pieces of equipment, refusing to admit that anything was wrong. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and told my charge nurse that I had to go sit down for a few minutes until my head stopped hurting so bad. A little while later it was tolerable and I could even see. It's the little things in life that make it worthwhile. As the day wore on my head continued to get better, but it never really felt great, and I was just kind of slow on my feet the whole shift. The whole 12 hour shift.

The obvious question is why didn't I go home? And here's the answer - because nurses aren't allowed to get sick. Not at work anyway. If you call in sick that's one thing, but if you actually show up to work your shift you pretty much have to die on the unit to leave. It's not that the charge nurses are rotten about it, either. Mine today was terrific about letting me not take care of emergent patients until I could see them. I did sit in the break room for a while wondering if I had an aneurysm and figuring out a way to get to another hospital if I did, since no way in hell will my co-workers ever see me naked if I can help it. Death would almost be preferable.

I've seen some pretty extreme behavior to work around this whole "once you're here you stay" philosophy, and I've heard a lot of stories from other hospitals. This is not isolated, this is every hospital everywhere. I have seen nurses have to be put on their own cardiac monitors because they felt so bad. But they finished their shift. I've seen residents (to leave the nurses alone for a second) with viral infections and fevers of 104 have to stay to finish their 36 hour rotation, since, as their chief told them, it wasn't bacterial so it wasn't a danger to their patients, so why did they feel they needed to leave? There's an old saying about medicine eating it's young and this is one of the reasons that saying is true. You simply can't take care of someone else when you feel like you're going to fall over. Let me rephrase that. You can do it, you just can't do it right.

On the other hand, it can be pretty funny. My favorite story involves a pregnant nurse and an incontinent trauma patient with dementia. This guys name was Jesus, or as we say in LA, Hay-Zuss. Well, this nurse was having a bad bout of morning sickness the day that Jesus decided he didn't want to be confined in the hospital anymore and started throwing shit at her. She had the curtain to his room closed and all we could hear was retching as she dodged shit. This nurse was a Kansas girl through and through, and just kept moaning "Jesus! Stop throwing shit at me, Jesus!", but she was pronouncing it Jesus. Like Christ. When we opened the curtain to see what the hell was going on she was sitting on the floor with a trash can in her lap that she was still gagging into, and she kept saying "Oh Jesus, why?" And after she finished losing her lunch, she finished her shift.

And people wonder why there's a nursing shortage.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In the Swim

I took the boys to the public pool this afternoon once the friggin' rain stopped. It's very nice, as far as public pools go - high dives, a couple of pretty cool slides, and a lily pad type thing that seems to appeal to all ages, although it's designed for the toddler set. When the kids were younger we hung out a lot at the zero depth area with the fountains, since, in theory, they couldn't drown. Not easily anyway. Now that they're older they pretty much leave me in the dust and head out for whatever action they can find. There's usually plenty to choose from, since the pool is one of the major kid hangouts around once it opens Memorial Day weekend each year.

Public pools are weird for me anyway, since, being a SoCal kid, backyard pools are the way to go. It's part of the LA experience to just walk out of the house and fall into the pool. (That didn't sound right, but you know what I mean). My favorite thing has always been to be in a completely unlit pool at night, preferably alone, and just float around looking at the stars. My kids, of course, are completely convinced I'm going to be eaten by a shark whenever I do this, and no argument I can make wins them over. This will undoubtably be the way I make the Guiness Book of World Records, by being eaten by a Great White in a private swimming pool. In the foothills. You know, you want kids with imagination and then when they get all wacky you regret even wishing for it. I thought once we got over the hungry shark in the toilet theory we were done. Evidently not.

So once my kids desert me I'm pretty much on my own. Sometimes I meet friends. Sometimes I bring a book or my iPod. I have been known to nap from time to time. But today I just people watched, which is my favorite thing of all. In a college town, especially an in your face liberal college town, there's always something fun to see. I have seen piercings that were incompatible with my lunch and moms nursing babies where the kid's face blended beautifully into the whole boob tattoo. We may be solidly in the Midwest, but it's not boring, let me tell you.

Today the major attraction was a bunch of testosterone driven high schoolers who were having, so help me god, a spitting contest. To snag the girl? This makes perfect sense, since all women know that nothing is as big an aphrodisiac as a bunch of spitting men. Or in this case boys. I have a particularly hard time with this, since I find spitting to be absolutely vile. For all of the truly disgusting things I see at work, nothing grosses me out worse than spit. And without going into details, I've seen some really gross things. But the thing that undid me had to do with spit, and it had nothing to do with nursing. Once, in Alabama, I picked up a two liter almost full bottle of what I thought was Coke, only to realize that it was the container my cousin was using as a spitoon for his chewing tobacco. Sweet Jesus, I have flashbacks to this day. And they all came back watching these morons, who, amazingly, never did get a girl to come within twenty feet of them. Poor things were so confused by the lack of attention that it gave me quite a chuckle.

That is, once I stopped dry heaving.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holiday Weekend

Stayed in bed 'til almost ten
No sounds of fighting from my men

Stumbled towards the coffee pot
Hot caffeine, I need a lot

My house looks like the Huns marched by
Trash and dishes, I could cry

Popsicle wrappers on the floor
Soggy laundry by the door

Remnants from the water fight
That caused a fury just last night

And as we head straight out of May
Just one more thing I need to say

Rain and thunder, go away
I know they need you in LA.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Damage at the supermarket laying in supplies for long holiday weekend - $71.64

Cost of four matinee theater tickets to watch Johnny Depp prance around for three hours in eye liner - $28.00 (and worth far more)

A leisurely walk downtown with a pit stop at our fabulous local ice cream parlor - $8.52

An entire two day weekend with not a single thing scheduled - Priceless.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Color My World

Sitting out on my fabulous, newly screened porch, I was thinking about paint. I absolutley adore paint. It's one of my Very Favorite Things, so I probably spend a lot more time thinking about it than I should. My paint chip collection is world class in its scope. I am continually amazed at what you can do with just one gallon of the stuff. It's like magic as far as I'm concerned - the good kind. Let other people redecorate or wallpaper or move around furniture, I just head for the paint store. It's the closest thing to a quick fix I have. (Short of a big cold bottle of Diet Coke with Lime, anyway).

I'm pretty sure my paint fetish started during all those years we rented in South Pas and always had to have white walls. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against white walls, I just hate not having options. Personally I'm very big on options, and if this is some latent demonstration of my inner control freak I don't want to know about it. I'm sure it also has a lot to do with hating being told what to do, but if I get any more off subject here I'm not sure how I'll recover.

Paint. We were discussing paint. (Effective segue, although lacking in finesse). I have paint on the brain partly because we just had a small episode involving our kitchen and a series of very bad moves on my part. When the kids and I were in California in January, the Film Geek painted the kitchen for me. This was a very big deal and took a lot of time, because our kitchen is pretty large and had a whole slew of stuff that needed to be prepped and taped off. Before we left I gave him the paint chip we had decided on and didn't give it another thought. The night we came home he proudly led me into the kitchen and flipped the light on so I could check out his latest production. Drumroll, please...

I hated it. Not the painting. The painting was fine. It was the color. The color that I had chosen and now made me feel like I was inside a truck full of frozen salmon filets. And the sheer size of the room made it worse. I felt like I was inside a big truck full of frozen salmon filets. I had expected a very soft kind of peachy melon color and I got this. It was not good, but I didn't want to say anything to this man who was so proudly showing me what he had done. So I put on a smiley face and told him (very honestly) how much I appreciated that he had done it for me. And I did, I really did. It wasn't his fault I hated the color.

It was time for Plan B, which in this case stands for Botched. I lived with the walls for months while I tried to figure out what to do. Every time one of our friends would walk through to check on the house redo progress I would offer the same disclaimer for the kitchen - "Okay, you can look, but it isn't DONE yet". Around Spring Break I started to really look at my options, but of course first I had to fess up to my husband just how much I really hated the kitchen. In a heroic display of restraint he simply shook his head, said "well, it's your kitchen" and walked away. One of these days I'll tell you about how this is the second time I've done this to him, but he reads this too, and I don't want to give him any more ammunition than I have to.

On to solutions. First I got the idea to take a color I had on hand and mix it with a little glaze to make a color wash to apply over the paint and mute it a little. The color was really pretty and looked good on the frozen fish walls, but no matter what I did the application was blotchy. It was so bad that I called the Film Geek and told him casually that when he got home from work late that night he might not want to look at the kitchen walls until I was awake and could explain. No matter what I did, I couldn't fix it, so now my frozen fish walls looked like they had a bad case of poison ivy. I finally threw in the towel and conceded that I needed to buy a new color and simply repaint the one big wall something totally different.

I had originally wanted a red wall in there, so I went to the paint store and came home with a bunch of red chips in my very favorite brand. I love this paint so much I could happily do my own commercial for them, never mind that it would put me in the poorhouse if it wasn't for the online coupons. Even's like a bad love affair. I wish sometimes I'd never even laid eyes on this paint.

So the Film Geek and I look at colors and he picks his favorite two (which were not my favorite two) and we haggle a little and I finally agree with his number two choice. I head back to buy the paint and on the way decide to give in and go with his number one choice, because I still feel bad about painting over all his hard work. It takes a while for the paint guy to come over and help me so I drift back over to the paint chips and see a red that I had somehow missed earlier. I pick it up and look at it next to the one we've decided on, thinking that it really is quite pretty, but most likely too dark. I'm still wandering around when the paint guy comes over to see what I want to get. I give him my order and am five minutes into my wait while he mixes the paint when I look down and realize that I gave him the wrong paint chip. And this is custom mix paint - no refunds once it's mixed. I imagined my husband's face and my life flashed in front of my eyes. And for all of you pessimists out there, let's just leave Freud out of it, okay?

By the time I got home I was in the if life gives you lemons make lemonade mode, and started painting. When the Film Geek got home from work his immediate response was "Is this the color I picked??" (He said this right before he took the roller out of my hand because he didn't like the way I was painting, by the way). I babbled well no it isn't the same color and it's really kind of a funny story if you just think about it. Honey? Honey? We finished the two walls in relative silence and then looked around the room.

I absolutely loved it. The color was just drop dead gorgeous and looked great with the two frozen fish walls we had left alone. The red muted the other walls and they complemented each other really well. The Film Geek wasn't too sure, but said he trusted my judgement and that he figured the color would grow on him. He hasn't griped since, so I figure either it has or he's just given up the fight. As for me, it makes me happy every time I walk in, and that has to count for something, right?

Like he said. It's my kitchen.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Thursday Three

And the list for today is...

My Three Favorite "Children's" Book Series

The reason I say "Children's" is because most of these are favorites to this day, and I haven't been called a child for a while. At least not that I'll admit to. I'll thank you all to keep your opinions to yourself please. Play nice!

#1. The Little House on the Prairie series. Let's just start with the one of longest of my book love affairs, shall we? Oh my god, I adore these books, every single one of them and reread them regularly. Which one I read is usually a reflection of my mood. If I need a little kick in the butt I read The Long Winter. If I'm really upbeat I go for Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years. If I'm hungry I read Farmer Boy, because the food descriptions in that one do me in. (Clearly they were written by a woman who lived most of her childhood on salt pork and dried beans). My husband, who doesn't understand the appeal, calls it Little Disaster on the Prairie, claiming it's one locust horde and blizzard after another. What does he know? Several years ago, on a road trip back home, we actually made a stop in De Smet, South Dakota, the real little town on the prairie. The feeling of actually being on the homestead that I'd read about so much was incredible, and I can't wait to do it again.

#2. (Sorry, Mom) Nancy Drew, girl detective. I can't count the hours I spent as a kid reading all about Nancy and her sleuthing adventures. The fact that the gal can do anything was appealing to a kid, although as an adult I know people like her and I just want to slap them. She could play all sports and instruments, speak many languages passably, was naturally "trim", and had a cute little roadster to boot. Granted, she was motherless, but like all the Disney heroines, this was designed to increase her pity appeal and make her seem vulnerable. It didn't work though. That chick was bullet proof. Even as an adult Nancy has given me hours of entertainment. After the (sorry again, Mom) kibbutz caper, I set about replacing my collection with a vengeance. There are three editions of Nancy Drew - the early 1930's versions, the 1950's and the 1970's. (I'm not counting the paperback slop that's out now). Most of what I had was the 30's and 50's, so I haunted rummage sales and out of the way places for years. They were too expensive in the used book stores. For years I had this dream of finding a paper shopping bag of ND's at a garage sale and they were all marked a quarter. I would wake up so happy. Then one day when I was in college I was at this junk store on Colorado Blvd. that no longer exists and it happened. There really was a paper shopping bag of old ND's and they were a dime apiece, since these people obviously didn't know what they had. I have them still, but don't reread them that often, since as an adult she tends to tick me off with her know it all ways.

#3. Harry Potter. What can I say about Harry Potter? I'm equally anticipating and absolutely dreading July 21st when the last book comes out. If she kills him off I think I'll just cry. Seriously, I know more adults who are into this series than I do kids. What is it exactly? Each of the main characters is so appealing in their own way, and so believable in their actions as they age. Hogwarts is a place I would kill to spend time at, especially as a young wizard. There's the eternal theme of good vs. evil, and the allegiance you feel to this fight. I am continually amazed at J.K. Rowling's imagination. Where does she come up with this stuff? My favorite is the howler. Every time I even think about a howler I crack up. You can tell the woman has kids, can't you? And speaking of kids, I absolutely love Mrs. Weasley. That woman kicks some serious teenage wizard butt. In anticipation of the last book Sasquatch and I are about to start re-reading the series. This is a ritual we've done for the last few books, and we really look forward to it. The last time we did it I was so immersed that I actually had Hogwarts dreams. Of course this project gets longer each time, but it's a lot of fun. Go Harry!

At this point I normally encourage all of you to throw in your two cents, but I haven't been getting much feedback on this. Do you people not understand how much fun it is to throw your opinions out there into cyberspace and let the devil take the wheel??

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Greener Pastures

Well, it's mid-afternoon on a fine day in May and I am officially the parent of an incoming high-schooler. Excuse me while I sit down and put my head between my knees. How did we celebrate this milestone? He came home with a bunch of his friends, picked up his video gaming equipment and hit the road for greener gaming pastures. Any minute now the phone will ring and he'll be asking me if he can have a sleepover to celebrate the last day of junior high. His friends will be laughing and shouting in the background, giddy with anticipation.

And what will I say? It will be something along the lines of That sounds like fun for you guys. Go ahead and spend the night with your friends. I totally understand. Have a great time and call me later if you get a chance. I love you.

Here's what I want to say. Please come home so we can celebrate with you. Please give me this moment while it's fresh and still exciting for you. Please let me be a part of it. Please let me believe for just one more night that you have any desire whatsoever to be around your family, in spite of all my instincts that tell me you don't. I know this is what you're supposed to do, but I don't understand. When did I become a pit stop on the way to better times and endless sleepovers? Why do I feel so left out? I love you.

Or, in a nutshell, When did I stop being the mom you needed and start being the mom you just needed to take you where you wanted to be?

Duty Calls!

Picked up some extra, last minute hours at work, so I'll be a little late posting today. Should be back by mid-afternoon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Home Improvement

The stars aligned and the heavens smiled last night as The Film Geek and I actually worked together on a home project and didn't kill each other. The sound you hear is angels singing in astonishment and pure joy. We do not have a good track record, you see, although we've really been making an effort to get better. We know why we work so badly together, we just haven't been able to do much about it. I'll explain it all and then maybe someone can provide some words of wisdom. God knows we need help.

First off is the good news. We managed to do most of the work to rescreen the sun porch last night, just in time for the storms we're expecting today. The sun porch is reached through a sliding glass door in the kitchen, so when the slider is open the air flow is wonderful. Since most of these storms come with high winds, it really cools off the house fast, besides just feeling good. The problem we had is the the college boys who lived here before had torn the screens, so bugs and animals and such would get on the sun porch. Obviously we didn't want them in the kitchen so the slider had to stay closed. And said bugs and small animals made sitting on the sun porch less than desirable. The dogs didn't help matters, since they would just use the holes in the screens as a shortcut to the back yard. Dee Dee in particular, being built like a walrus, is always up for a shortcut.

So The Film Geek took off the old screens and pieces of wood holding them on, and then we hung new screening and staple gunned it in and replaced the wood. I pounded nails out of wood and held screening and fetched things he needed while he was up on the ladder. It went without a hitch, really. Well, one hitch. While I was in the kitchen finishing dinner, I heard my husband yell "Oh, no she did NOT!!", while chasing walrus dog around the yard. Seems she had seen or heard a dog walking by and headed out to the yard to stake her turf - straight through the eight foot screen panel we had just hung. Dear lord, this dog is dumber then dirt, and if the kids didn't love her so much I'd arrange an accident for her. If she goes through the screen again I just may anyway. I don't suppose anyone is in the market for a two hundred pound black lab with more than a touch of borderline personality disorder and an insatiable need to lick the furniture? She's good with kids - really. First one to email me can have her. Or better still, for faster delivery, just call me. Please. I'm begging.

The problem my husband and I have is that we have very different styles in terms of home projects. Take painting for instance. He can happily spend a week prepping a room to paint. He patches, putties, sands, scrapes, takes a peek, fondles the walls, repatches, reputties, resands, rescrapes and then repeeks and refondles. Repeat this loop a minimum of three times. Then we get to the actual painting part. We start with freshly washed walls (the only part of this whole process that he feels I'm competent to handle, but he still watches to make sure I put the proper amount of TSP in the water). Then he tapes, retapes, sleeps on it for a night or two and then finally begins to put the actual paint on the wall. Gimme an A, gimme an N, gimme an A, gimme an L - what's that spell? Film Geek!

His complaint with me is that he considers me sloppy in my work. That I can paint a room in an afternoon worries him deeply, since it obviously means I've done a half-assed job. I have literally had the man take the roller out of my hand to "fix" one of my "mistakes" to his satisfaction. I defy anyone to look at any of our rooms and tell me who painted which one. He does not see it this way and that's all I'm going to say about that. While he's gone this weekend I'm planning on painting the computer room and he knows it. He's got a little twitch right above his left eye and I don't care. I'd like this room painted before Christmas. 2009.

Stay tuned for updates as they unfold. And I really am serious about the dog. Call me. Please.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dementia and Degrees

Sorry to dash hopes right off the bat, but Jerry Springer was not to be found in our ER yesterday. I had high hopes, but it just wasn't meant to be. The closest situation I had was an elderly man with chest pain, who also happened to have dementia. He kept shouting at me to keep my hands off his nuts, no matter where I was touching him. It wasn't his nuts, believe me. We don't typically assess nuts for chest pain. And he just kept on hollering at the top of his lungs about his "nuts", evidently his favorite word. Of course he was in the bay, where all the other patients could hear him. And the other nurses. And the doctors. And the paramedics and the lab techs and the cops. I'll be living that one down for a while. All the males were covering their crotches and pretending to shake in fear every time they saw me walk by. Just keep repeating - I love my job, I love my job. "What did you do at work today, honey?" "Oh, I watched three paramedics all grab their nuts in unison - just for me." Sigh.

In a lot of ways yesterday was kind of a sad day. We had a huge stadium in town filled with family and friends who had come to watch a loved one graduate. They came to celebrate achievement and to spend quality time together, not to end up in our fine department. Just one more example of the randomness that is my job. We had a lot of people collapse in the heat and a fair amount of stupid frat boy tricks. I think some of these guys consider a high blood alcohol level more of an accomplishment than a GPA. Some of the people who collapsed were just overheated, and some had substantial medical issues that they never even knew about. Until yesterday. In a bed surrounded by your dressed up, ready to celebrate family. A lot of plans changed pretty quickly. I'll take a demented old guy carrying on a conversation with his nuts any day over a spanking new grad anxiously hovering over granny on a heart monitor.

It's easier to comment on the absurd than the stuff that really makes you want to cry.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

End of a Season

Another soccer season over, and not a minute too soon as far as I'm concerned. Four practices a week and at least two games a weekend have finally taken their toll. Add in all the personal and emotional drama and I'm done. And unless I'm misreading their cues pretty badly, so are my kids. They are little puddles of inaction at the moment.

Surfer Dudes team ended up playing for third place, which they won. It sounds better than it is, since they had a small division and there were only four teams to start with. His team legitimately had a chance this tournament, and barely missed playing for the Championship, but they were thrilled they didn't end dead last. Gumby's star-crossed team was not so lucky and did indeed finish at the very bottom. It was ugly. His team started out the season without a coach, and got bounced around for several weeks before the coach from last year came back on board. As a result there was a real lack of cohesion the rest of the season, no matter what they did to try to make it up. That they're best goalie was out of town this weekend didn't help.

As I sat there, essentially watching both of my kids fight to not finish dead last, I just wanted them to have the same results. You know, either both dead last or both one rung up. They instinctively know how to torture each other, and I thought this might not be a good weapon to have around the house all summer. It just wasn't meant to be. There were positive things to take away though. Surfer Dude's coach behaved himself for the most part, although the coach opposing Gumby's team was so obnoxious that a couple of our dads were ready to go and have a chat with him, but the ref beat them to it. It was a beautiful day, to continue with the positives, and we got to hang out with friends who have kids on the teams. Oh well, it's done. Until August anyway. At this point they're still deciding on whether they want to play or not, so I guess we'll see.

Well, I'm off to work. It should be interesting today since the University is having Graduation ceremonies and I'm sure there will be a lot of parties after. Maybe I'll have some Springer stories for tomorrow!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tournament Day

Both of my soccer players have their first game at 10:30 today. The rest of the tournament schedule for the day will depend on how their first games go. Surfer Dude's team lost a thriller last night 7-6, but on points are still ahead of the team they lost to. Gumby's team lost Thursday night and I don't know about last night since we weren't there.

We're getting to deal with the real life issues that playing sports tends to bring up, and it's not a lot of fun. Surfer Dude's coach isn't particularly nice to him, and doesn't give him a huge amount of playing time. I'm not exactly sure why, since he played a lot (and well) in the fall, but this season he's become something of a whipping post. My poor kid got in the car yesterday and said, "My coach hates me and I don't know why." We had a very long (private) conversation about how his worth isn't defined by what he does on a playing field, and how sometimes people behave in ways that you can't understand but that doesn't mean it's your fault and that we just need to get through this today. I'm sure I'm cynical, but between seasons his coach invited us to a political fundraiser at his house for a candidate we did not endorse. We didn't go, but I was polite about it. I said we'd try to make it if we could but I couldn't promise. I didn't tell him his candidate sucked or anything. I'm sure it's all coincidental, right?

Well, that's it for now. We have a full day out on the fields ahead of us and I'd better start filling water bottles. Whee!

Friday, May 18, 2007


It's the time of year when things speed up a lot before they slow down, and I think my family is feeling the wear and tear. I know most of you reading this still have a month of school to go, so forgive me my ramblings. And keep in mind that mid-August when we're in school prep mode, you'll have a month of vacation left. All good things to those who wait, right? I'm sure I'm mis-quoting, but you get the idea.

Let's start with the Film Geek. His classes are done and finals complete. I think he's even got some grading finished. He has two beasts on his back at the moment, one related to work and one not. The work beast is the end of the semester student screenings. Not just any screenings, but the ones the students themselves have submitted for awards. This is a huge deal for everyone in the department, but the work load doesn't appear to be evenly distributed, if you know what I mean. He has been frantically editing until the wee hours every night this week to get the whole thing put together for the Awards presentation tonight, which is opened to the entire community. As I said, this is a huge deal for the department in a lot of ways. The film department as a whole has been steadily moving up in national rankings, based strongly on the basis of the production aspect. By a lot of standards, it has become the film school in the midwest. Up until this year, the Film Geek was the only production professor on staff, so you do the math. There's a lot of pressure on him in times like this and he's muddling through as best as he can.

His second beast is his modelling convention next weekend. For those not familiar with this aspect of the man, he's actually earned a dual geek degree, one in film and one in scratch built science fiction models. He painstakingly builds these things and then enters them in competitions, both in person and on the model geek website that he regularly frequents. He has built up a worldwide group of friends with the same hobby, and even worked out a way to get a grant to film the conventions as part of a project on how the internet has replaced the back fence or the garage in terms of people coming together over a shared interest. (Wow, that's a long sentence, even for me!) His problem is that he's really behind on his model and he leaves in less than a week. Something tells me this is about to become my problem as well.

Sasquatch has four days, counting today, of junior high left. All of his biology work has been turned in (finally) and we've climbed out of the "F" category. Last night there was a 9th grade awards ceremony that seemed to come out of nowhere. I have the 9th grade recognition on my calendar for next Thursday and have already had him tell me he doesn't want to go because it's "stupid". I wouldn't have even known about the awards if Laurie hadn't said something. When I asked Sasquatch about it he said anyone who was getting an award already knew about it. All of his friends concurred, and said they weren't going either. Laurie said she didn't think that was the case, and that the Red Headed StepChild was looking forward to it. For reasons that remain unclear, I accepted my child's version over my friend's version. What the hell was I thinking? This morning at elementary school drop-off I had a parent ask where we were last night, since Sasquatch won several awards. Laurie diplomatically didn't say "What the hell were you thinking?", but she should have. After everything this kid has put me through in junior high, I could have stood to see him get a couple of awards. Any guesses on my blood pressure right about now? Anyone?

Gumby stayed home yesterday because his tick bite turned into a systemic infection. The kid's lymph nodes are the size of grapes. I took him to the doctor Wednesday after school and got a prescription for an antibiotic, which as it turns out, he wasn't able to swallow. I begged, I pleaded, I crushed it up and put it in ice cream - no go. When his fever started to climb and he got all flushed, I started to worry. So there I was on the phone with our doctor at 10:30 at night, all ready to take him in to the ER for some IV antibiotics. I knew full well I'd never live it down with my colleagues, because surely it could wait until tomorrow, right? Honestly though, I didn't care at that point. Our doctor told me to leave the kid alone and let him sleep, and get the med in an elixir form the next morning. I trust this doctor hugely, so I did. He was better after the first dose and he's back at school today. The 5th graders are having a fundraiser bake sale for the town in Kansas that was destroyed by the tornado a couple of weeks ago, so I have poppyseed bread in the oven as I speak.

Surfer Dude had a good birthday all around. He took in homemade ice cream sandwiches for a treat and they were very well received. This is the second year in a row he's taken in the same thing, and it's funny how it came about. Last year we were in the middle of our demonic move during his birthday. For his classroom treat he wanted to take cupcakes, but our oven was broken. This will give you an idea of my state of mind a year ago. I said honey we can't do cupcakes because the oven isn't working. Why don't we do cookies instead? Got everything together to make the cookies, went to pre-heat the oven and said oh dear lord, I'm losing my mind, aren't I ? Because clearly you don't need to bake cookies the way you do cupcakes. I ran to the store and bought already baked cookies (from a working oven and everything). We filled them with ice cream and rolled them in chocolate chips and sprinkles and they were a huge hit, thank goodness. He got a lot of athletic stuff for his birthday and money from Nana and Grampa Stu. We had to go to Target immediately to spend his birthday bucks, but he didn't find anything he felt he had to have, so he's pondering his options. He has his second soccer game of the tournament tonight (they won the first) and he and Gumby each have two games tomorrow.

As I'm writing this my doorbell rang and it was Sasquatch, waving a pass from his AP English teacher to allow him to go home and print out the homework he had evidently forgotten. He said she offered to drive him but he told her we only live a few blocks away. Do you see how many people are trying to get this kid through?? Any guess on my blood pressure right about now? Anyone?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Thursday Three

And the list for today is...

My Three Favorite Desperation Dinners.

We all have these, don't we? The dinners where you've just rolled in the door and the kids are ravenous and you're whipped and the clock is ticking. I started thinking about this during my recent "bad day", so it's a good fit for this week's list. I'll start with the one I've already mentioned...

1. Chicken Caesar Salads. Hands down the favorite among the kids, and pretty popular with me, too. What I love the most is the versatility of it. Sometimes I grill the chicken, but if I'm in a real hurry I can just grab already made chicken strips from the deli and cut them up. We've also been known to use shrimp when we're flush (or it's on sale). For the non meat-eaters, we simply leave the chicken off and give them more salad. I make some garlic bread or cheesy biscuits and dinner is served. This is what the Film Geek makes a lot when I'm at work, and it's high on his list too. (His other specialty is Haystacks, which are kind of like deconstructed tacos. Also very popular with the kids).

2. Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches on sourdough bread. Another big kid favorite. (Are you noticing a theme?) I personally hate cooking bacon on the stovetop, so I either throw it in the oven or (blasphemy) buy the already made stuff in the box. Heck, I'm not eating it, what do I care? Speaking of blasphemy, there's a really good soy bacon that Gumby and I like a lot, so this meal too, is pretty flexible. (It also comes with it's own entertainment , as the rest of the family sneers at our soy bacon. Gotta admit it looks pretty foul). The sourdough is key, since I have a household full of sourdough junkies. If avacadoes are ripe, Sasquatch and I will split one and put it on the sandwich. Side dishes vary by availibility. Sometimes I throw together a cole slaw, or we have frozen french fries or chips. Fast, easy, cheap - we have a winner!

3. Pasta. My personal favorite and pretty darn succesful with kidlets to boot. And when you look in the dictionary under the word flexible, there's a picture of pasta. Really. I checked. Is there anything you can't do with pasta? Sometimes we have cheese ravioli instead of plain old spaghetti or linguini or rotini or penne, but the desperation sauce is always the same. I throw some olive oil and garlic in a pan with some finely diced zuchini and cook it until it's soft. Then I add a jar of already made sauce and a can of diced tomatoes and some italian herbs, heavy on the basil. It's finished by the time the pasta is done. This is not my "I have all day let's make a killer sauce" sauce, but it works in a pinch. My poor children have vegetables thrown at them every which way and barely recognize a pasta sauce without zuchini. For those who prefer butter and cheese on their pasta, they can do it. Or we can do a fast cheese sauce. I often have meatballs in the freezer that I can heat up for those who want them. I've usually got fresh parmesan that we grate on top, and we've always got the packaged stuff. Add some garlic bread and a salad or steamed broccoli and you're done.

Some things that I like the idea of would never fly in my house. My mother, for example, would serve breakfast for dinner sometimes, since she loves breakfast foods but doesn't like eating in the morning. I always liked eggs or pancakes for dinner when I was growing up, but the few times I've tried it my kids have been less that thrilled. They're spotty on already made or frozen foods, so sometimes they like them and sometimes they don't. It's always a crapshoot, so I've learned to stick with what I know works.

Anyone else have any ideas? I can always use suggestions!
P.S. Happy Birthday to my adorable Surfer Dude!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bad Day

I wouldn't wish my day yesterday on Paris Hilton.

First the disclaimers - No one died, there are no sick kids, my house didn't burn to the ground, nothing earthshattering. I always feel I have to throw gratitude out there for all the good things I've got before I start bitching about the mundane crap that does you in. Disclaimer out of the way...let's go.

My class ended early at 3:40, so I called the Film Geek (FG) on my way to my car to tell him I could pick up the kids from school at 3:45, so he could stay at work. I got in my car and cranked the radio, little knowing this would be my last bit of peace until almost midnight. I should've enjoyed the drive more.

Got there to get the two younger ones and realized that the eldest had forgotten his house key yet again. Tried to get Surfer Dude (SD) and Gumby (G.) to stop playing on the playground so I could get home to let Sasquatch(S.) in. I knew the longer he stayed on the porch the longer I would hear about it, never mind that it was totally his fault. Finally got them home only to find that the FG hadn't shut the back door all the way and because of all the rain and the swollen wood the door had been left open all day, allowing the entrance of a bunch of smelly ninth graders after school. I walked in to find a group of them lounging in my living room. First words out of S.'s mouth was a request to go out to dinner at the Chinese buffet with the Red Headed step-child (RHSC) and his family. I said no. Argument ensues.

Check my phone messages. Soccer practice that I thought was off is now back on and I have thirty minutes to feed and clothe two kids before driving the first leg of the carpool. On the phone arranging that with one friend when other friend calls to arrange pick-up of RHSC. One phone to each ear at that point, tell RHSC to go out to curb as his mother will be there in two minutes. He says he'll wait until he actually sees her car in front of my house. S. still following me whining about the Chinese buffet. Smelly teenagers still filling living room. Three smaller kids begging me for food while I have a phone on each ear. Arguments ensue.

Break up fight over computer rights, feed and supervise soccer players getting dressed, hang up both phones, start to wonder what the heck is for dinner since I'll be out for an hour driving the carpool. FG walks in from work and offers to go get stuff for Chicken Caeser salads (my go to dinner when I'm in a hurry). I say a CC salad doesn't thrill me but that's fine since the kids will all eat it. Go drive the carpool and get stuck in accident traffic. Drop them off and head home. FG meets me at the door and says he didn't go to the store because he wasn't quite sure where we left the Chicken Caeser discussion. I say we left it at you were going to the store. He says that's not the impression he had. Argument ensues.

Go to the supermarket and wander around for thirty minutes in a brain fog. Get home, throw dinner together(I've switched to burgers and fries by this point) and say bye to FG who is on his way back to work. Make a few scheduling phone calls and make a doctor's appointment for G. who got bitten by a tick Saturday and it's looking funky. Check the balance in the checking account. Very bad move. Open schedule for the soccer tournament this weekend that we just got. Eight games between two players in four days. Nice.

G. gets home, eats and remembers a bunch of homework (it's 8 pm). S. finally finishes his computer homework and I get on. Open the email from his AP Biology teacher telling me he has an F due to unturned in work. He tells me this is what he was working on. I say what about the other project, the one you said you turned in two weeks ago? The one I know is finished?Argument ensues.

One kid wants to be on the computer but won't stay downstairs by himself. Other kid leaves him alone just for kicks and sneaks upstairs. I've already gone upstairs to collapse on my bed for a minute, but sit straight up to the sound of frantic feet running upstairs once they realized they were alone on the computer. Argument ensues, but I miss it because I've had to go downstairs and turn off a) the TV, b) the computer and c) all the lights.

I get SD and G. to bed and lay on my bed to read. Three seconds later S. is at my door remembering a computer test he has to take that night. Of course he won't go downstairs alone either. I go with him and putter around while he finishes. We go back upstairs. By now I'm wide awake, so I read for a bit. Am just dozing off when S. says he's thirsty and needs a drink from downstairs and will I go with him? I say get it from the bathroom or go downstairs yourself, but he won't do either. I won't budge at this point. Argument ensues.

He finally goes to bed unwatered and I turn out my light. The dogs all of a sudden go ballistic and I have to walk through the house to see if anything is wrong. Nothing to report. Back to bed and am now totally wide awake.

And all I can think is that I need to sleep just so this day can end.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Crisis Intervention

Am I the only person who sees the humor in the name of the class I'm attending today? It's called Crisis Intervention in the Workplace, and it's designed to teach ER workers how to de-escalate potentially violent situations before they get bad. Or really bad. I'm sure it's a very useful class, but come on. I have boys. Three of them. I de-escalate on an hourly basis. For this I need a class?

I'll admit that our clientele can be a little, uh, colorful, but for the most part they've got nothing on my kids. Here are things I've never heard a patient say:

Nurse! I want to watch something else on this waiting room TV and this guy won't let me. He knows I don't like SpongeBob!

Nurse! He got three shots and I only got one! That's not fair!

Nurse! He's been on the cardiac monitor for fifteen minutes and I haven't had a turn yet. Why does he always get his way?

Nurse! Ha! You think that's bleeding? I can bleed worse than that. Here, let me show you!

You see what I mean? And at home all the negotiating and de-escalating happens unmedicated. The whole better living through pharmaceuticals theory doesn't extend to the family hearth. (The hearth where, coincidentally, two brothers are pummeling each other, kicking and screaming over the Game Cube). If this happened at work there would most likely be a loaded syringe on the second level. Or at the very least a blue uniform.

Should be an interesting class...

Monday, May 14, 2007

goin' to the dog wash

For Mother's Day all our dogs got baths. Don't ask me the connection, because I don't know. It was a gorgeous day though, and it was a lot of fun having all of us outside together doing it. The rest of the day was lovely too. I got breakfast in bed - peach mango waffles ( Surfer Dude watches too much "Throwdown with Bobby Flay"), orange juice, coffee and banana chocolate bread on a tray with freshly picked flowers. There was also a homemade card with Gumby's poetry that he didn't want his brothers to see because it was "too mushy". (Wasn't too mushy for me.) The Film Geek coordinated it all behind the scenes whilst cooking waffles. Sasquatch brought me the newspaper to read and gave me a big hug. Life was good. We hung out all day and for dinner walked to a local pizza place where I had a huge slice of feta and red onion pizza and the biggest dark ale they had. I love Mother's Day.

The dogs, on the other hand, not so much... First up was the Diva.

I bet Jennifer Lopez doesn't have to put up with this crap.

Take that, all you would be stylists.

Are you looking at me?

I didn't think so.

On the other hand, I could get used to this.

I'm a Lab, I'm cool with the whole water thing.

Psst, buddy, run while you me on this.

Wait a minute, you're gonna do what?

Oh my god, that's what I thought you said.

To punish us they all came in the house and laid on the furniture. Score - dogs 3, us 0.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This One's For You, Mom

For the last few years Mother’s Day has kind of been a problem. When I was younger I did all the standard things – flowers, candy, handmade goodies – and was always gratified by the response I got from my mom. But things have changed, not on her end but on mine. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a mother myself and have a better understanding of how treacherous the job can be. Maybe it’s because I’m 1600 miles away. Maybe it’s the realization that there aren’t enough flowers in the world for this woman who has given me so much for so long. Whatever the reason, I come up empty handed on Mother’s Day lately. Nothing I think of is good enough, and what ends up happening (to my chagrin) is that I am left with no gift. (Unfortunately, so is my mother). No flowers, no See’s candy, nada. This year I started early and still have nothing. To borrow one of my mom’s pet phrases this just won’t do. It’s my favorite line of hers, unless she’s using it on me. Then it doesn’t do much for me.

I wracked my brain for ideas, but what I kept coming up with were these little vignettes from the past that showed so many of my mother’s facets. I kept remembering all these stories that we swore would be funny someday. I took a peek at the mental images that have cracked me up for years. I cautiously examined the times that had been so hard for us from the perspective of an adult. And as usual, I sidetracked myself from my original purpose. It’s one of my specialties

First, there were the Flower Child times. This is when she and a bunch of her friends painted hands and feet and “Love” and “Peace” all over our red VW bug named Miranda. I took one look and refused to be seen in the car. She dropped me off around the corner from school for years until the paint faded. This was the era where for Halloween one year she dressed me in a handmade purple pinafore complete with a ruffled apron. She tied a ribbon around an empty butter box, hung it around my neck, and told me I was going as Mother Nature. This was about the time she pulled me out of public school in Highland Park and sent me to a private Montessori, because, as she so nicely put it, I was a little na├»ve for the homegirls and my mouth was about to get my butt kicked. Our house was always full of musicians and writers and artists, and my mother would laugh when one of them would chant the mantra “Marry a doctor. Marry a lawyer. Whatever you do, don’t marry a musician. “ (Editorial note one year later: HELLO! Did I see filmmaker on that list? Should they not have said all creative types in general??)

Then there are all the car stories. Oh my god, are there a lot of car stories. First was the time she tried to kill me in Miranda. We were living on the top of a hill and had a long curvy road that lead to the street. As is only fitting for one of our car stories the car wasn’t working right. (Just wait; I’m only getting started with the busted car stories). So when I was around nine or ten she taught me how to pop the clutch and steer the car just far enough for her to hop in and take over. One day I lost control of the car and headed straight for the neighbor’s swimming pool, watching my mother in the rear view mirror as she ran screaming after me. Then there was the time in Lake Tahoe where all of a sudden smoke started spewing from the dashboard of her car. “Mama,” I said,” The car's on fire.” “Well”, she calmly replied. “Maybe we should get out.” Speaking of smoke, there was the beater she bought me when she was living in Wofford Heights that caught fire three times on the two mile drive down the hill to Lake Isabella. That was the car that we limped into LA the back way because we knew it would never survive the Grapevine. Once we hit county limits the car gave up the ghost with an impressive sounding explosion, and the memory of my mother is indelible as she shrieked at the car and kicked it’s hubcaps with all her might, softly lit by the smoke from the engine. And speaking of the Grapevine, there was the day of her thirty ninth birthday when we were moving her to her new home in Sonora. After a crappy year of trying to salvage her marriage to my first step-father, she’d decided to leave. Well you know there’s going to be car trouble in here somehow. The only sound louder than the carsick German Shepard in the backseat was the noise the clutch made when it completely went out. On the uphill side. In a borrowed van. In a rainstorm. When we somehow got off the road she went to the back hatch to look for tools and when she opened it a big box of her favorite clothes fell out right into a big mud puddle – opened side down. I watched the entire thing in slow motion and, god forgive me, I laughed until I cried. Even now, all these years later, I’m howling at the mental image. Can you imagine how funny that WASN’T to my mother? I can’t believe she didn’t kill me right there.

She moved back to LA right about the time the Film Geek and I started going out. I was happier than I can describe to have her back. The whole time she was up north I felt like I was missing a piece. She made my wedding gown by hand and almost went blind in the process. She was in the waiting room when I was in labor with my firstborn and it wasn’t going well. After three hours of pushing and almost no drugs I told my husband to hand me his car keys because I was going to do a C-section on myself. Well, here comes my mom to poke her head in and see what the hold up is. At this point, knowing that I wanted nothing in the world more than to cry on my mother, he hollered at her to get out. She did, I had the reluctant baby an hour later, and my husband just kept moaning, “Oh my god, I threw your mother out of the delivery room. She’s gonna KILL me.” She didn’t, luckily for him. When I had Surfer Dude, she was in the delivery room with us, at my request, and was the first one to hold him after he was born. It’s funny, because he’s the one who has her light hair and eyes, and he looks so much like her. For the first few years after he was born I was afraid they’d given me the wrong baby and would show up on my doorstep to take him back, because he was so fair. As is usually the case when she deals with my craziness she told me in the nicest possible way to get over it. I still bring it up occasionally, and she’s a little less nice about it now that she’s heard it for so long. Most of her answers now start with “Oh for god’s sake, kid…”

So many memories. The day of her marriage to Stu, the day she got it so right after all. We had a posse on her to make sure she didn’t bolt, she was so scared. The year that the Film Geek taught in Michigan, leaving me in LA with three kids under six. We spent our weekends at Mom and Stu’s house and it was the only thing I looked forward to all week. It was the only haven I had, and I treasured it. Then there were the trips, especially the road trips back to California for the summer after we moved. She would point out all the fabulous sights to the kids (“Look, there’s the Grand Canyon”, “Wow, check out that moose” or “Don’t step on that geyser!”) and they’d continue to fight over the Game Boy and ask when we were stopping and if there would be a pool. The year of Sasquatch’s weak bladder when we pulled over every fifteen minutes so he could pee on the road – for two thousand miles. The trip to Mexico where we couldn’t figure out why no one swam in the incredible pool at night, and ventured out to give it a shot. We got chased back to our rooms by mosquitoes roughly the size of Maui. The trip to Alabama when my grandmother was dying from a massive stroke, where just the sight of my mom got me through. The trip to Michigan when my dad died unexpectedly, when the phone calls to my mom were my lifeline.

She’s the best person in the world at talking me down when I have an anxiety attack. She gives my kids hell for treating me the way they do. She has been known to pull a Terms of Endearment routine when I’ve been in the hospital and not getting tended to quick enough. (“Give her the DRUGS!”) Just last week I picked up my phone to call her and when I pushed the send button there was no dial tone, just my mom’s voice saying “hello?hello?”, because she was calling me at exactly the same time I was calling her. It wasn’t the first time. When I get all hypochondriac-like and am convinced I have a tumor or an aneurysm or testicular cancer, she can talk me out of it, and tell me in the nicest possible way that I’m full of crap. She ignores me when I get on my It’s All About Me podium, but gets mad at me when I let my kids walk all over me. She was brave enough to move away from her family as a single mom to an eight year old, all in the name of making a better life for them. I love that, in spite of considerable provocation, she never said anything rotten about my dad, even though he gave her plenty of cause. The strongest thing she ever said was “Well, we know your father has a head like a sieve.” Now I’ll grant you, she said it a lot, but there’s a lot of restraint there as far as I’m concerned. I love that she barely flinches anymore when she hears the words “Nancy Drew”. One summer when I was visiting my dad she gave my collection to the daughter of a friend of hers who was going to Israel to live on a kibbutz. She thought I was done with them and I almost had a heart attack when she told me after the fact. For years she had a tic whenever she heard the name of the titian haired girl detective. I’m pretty sure I’ve given her a lot of tics, but she never holds it over my head. I could write a book, but it would never do her justice.

I’m sorry I don’t have a real present for you again this year, Mom. In the gift giving department I stink, and I know it. I’m going to start looking right now for next year, so this doesn’t happen again. But for this year would this do?

You’re my best friend
I would do anything (including eating liver) for you
I’m sorry for laughing about your clothes (but you have to admit, it was funny)
I love you more than you’ll ever know

Happy Mother’s Day,

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Wrap Up

Soccer round up for the day - one win, one tie and one painful to be a parent for blowout. Four hours on a scorching field with boys who were tired to start with. Speaking of which, here are a few party pics.

This is your brain.

This is your brain on adrenaline overload.

Any questions?

This is your brother, very unamused. He's counting the minutes until this party is over.

And another festive celebration winds down. Aaah...

Birthday Boy

Surfer Dude had his birthday party yesterday and apparently a good time was had by all. There was plenty of screaming and yelling, but evidently it was the good kind. (For the most part anyway. There was a major brother smackdown this morning, which ended with Gumby, in tears, making devil horns behind his head and hissing "guess who I am??", while Surfer Dude tried to pummel him for his friend's entertainment). Last year his birthday fell smack in the middle of the move from Hades and I promised him a blow out this year if he would settle for less last year. He kept up his end of the deal pretty well, so I felt obligated to deliver the goods.

The party started right after school when we picked up our own kids and the four invited guests. We loaded up two cars and headed off to see Spiderman 3. Next up was the local pizza buffet and arcade. After the last game token was squandered we came back to our house for a sleepover. It started out with a game of hide and seek outside and then moved into a video gamers paradise. The hide and seek was especially fun for them since their (female) "arch enemy" lives across the street, and they got to pretend she didn't exist while she stood on the curb and heckled them. Aaah, to be ten again. The more steamed she got the more they enjoyed it. It was the best present he could have gotten.

The cake was a little problematic, but it all worked out. The birthday boy kept changing his mind about what kind of cake he wanted, and in spite of my badgering didn't make a final decision until yesterday morning. And the verdict is...a strawberry ice cream cake. The boy adores, worships and craves strawberries, and I should have seen this coming. I thought it wouldn't be a problem and that I'd just go to Dairy Queen for a cake. Strike One - they don't make a strawberry cake, they're all fudge and vanilla. On to Baskin Robbins and Strike Two. They weren't open and I have absolutely no idea why. Finally I gave in to the inevitable and went to the store to buy ingredients for a cake. I had an idea to do a kind of strawberry shortcake type thing. I layered angel food slices on the bottom and then put on the strawberry ice cream. After that set for a while I added a layer of sugared strawberries and some whipped cream and then threw it back in the freezer. Just like a frozen shortcake. Yum.
It wouldn't be a party without at least one meltdown from the honoree, and we hit critical mass at around ten. Why does this always happen? I get that they're overstimulated and underrested and oversugared, but come on. I don't mind taking a day out of my life to entertain my kids and their friends, but could they at least not snarl at me likeCujo. I will say this for my boy. He has lovely friends with nary a meltdown in sight.
Years ago my husband and I worked out a sleepover strategy that works beautifully for us. He stays up with the kids at night and I get up with them in the morning. This way we aren't both exhausted (in theory anyway) and our moods stay more pleasant. Considering that they were up until 1:30 and wide awake by 6, it's a good thing. We have three soccer games today, with the first kid needing to be on the field by 8:30. Parents are beginning to trickle in to pick up their children. I'd better quit.
I'll post soccer updates and birthday pics later on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Adventures In Real Estate - The Money Pit

Now that we’ve gone over the utter chaos that was our last moving experience, it’s time to introduce the cause behind it all. The picture below was taken by the Film Geek the first time we saw our new house together, and it was, literally, the vision that fueled us when the tank was completely dry. Have you ever seen a house that needed love more? When I was too tired to move I would park in front of it just to remind myself of what the stakes were. Sometimes I didn’t even care anymore, but by then it was plain too late to do anything about it. The entire experience reminds me of the saying “be careful what you wish for because you just may get it.” Well, we wished all right, and we got it, too. It’s just that some days we’re still not sure if we knew what we were wishing for. This house is bigger than the both of us. Meet The Money Pit.

The house was built in 1887 and is a style called Folk Victorian, which I had never heard of before. It pretty much means it was built for the common folk who wanted a “real” Victorian but couldn’t afford one. The house is on a double lot in one of two historic areas in town, and the entire neighborhood is treed to within an inch of its life. Towering is a good word for the trees, even from our (very tall) second floor the trees go on forever. It feels a little like you’re in a tree house.

Okay, here are the bare bones details. The house itself isn’t huge but it’s very spacious feeling, because almost the entire place has ten foot ceilings. Downstairs is an entry way, living room, dining room, family room, kitchen, bathroom and laundry/mud room. The kitchen, bath and laundry were part of a big remodel in 2000 and they’re quite large. Upstairs is a bath, a library and three bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was added the same time they did the remodel and it’s really more of a sunroom that is used as a bedroom. It’s also enormous. The house has an attic and a basement, which I’ve already described (unfortunately). We have a great front porch with a swing, and the entire side yard is planted with orange and red day lilies. It’s quite a respectable house, even simply on paper.

But it’s the extra stuff that grabbed us by the throat. The floors are pine and oak throughout, and the living room has a fireplace. The windows are all tall and thin and the light just pours into the house. There is a stained glass transom window over the glass front door and two original pieces of stained glass that follow the curve of the stairs. The staircase is something else. It’s literally the first thing you see when you walk in the door and it curves like a candy cane as it rises upstairs. Virtually every room has crown molding and the downstairs has carved doorway and window molding. There are nice built-ins in the family room. The kitchen has partially stainless steel countertops and more storage space than you can shake a stick at. Off the kitchen, through a sliding glass door, is a screened in porch that has a hard wood floor and is fully wired. There are lilacs planted all along the screen so you can smell them in the house. When you go out the back door from the laundry room you are on a brick patio that is surrounded by an arbor that has built in wooden benches along the perimeter. From there a brick walkway leads to the driveway. There’s even a basketball goal for the kids.

The clincher to the deal was the separate studio at the back of the lot. It’s attached to a double garage and it’s enormous. One of the families that lived here before turned it into a textile studio, so there are hoists and everything. It’s plumbed, fully wired, air conditioned and has a great big high ceiling with wonderful windows. There’s even a pretty good sized storage loft. My husband would sell me to the gypsies for this studio. This was the single most important factor that brought him on board for this godforsaken process. Sometimes he goes out there just to pat it and tell it how much he loves it. This is where he does his model building, and this is where his enormous stash of modelling supplies lives. In our old house they had their own bedroom. Now they have their own house. And they're out of mine. :)
Now for the down side. The house does have some issues, which I guess is to be expected in a hundred and twenty year old building. It has old house floors, as in if you drop something it will roll all the way across the room. Some college kids rented it for a few years and it shows. There are only three closets in the entire place. (I guess those Victorians didn't have many clothes). The walls are all plaster, and a lot of the downstairs is the horsehair plaster, which can be a biatch to repair. A few of the walls needed help badly. To give you an idea how badly, the sellers took ten percent off their asking price because they didn't want to patch the plaster or paint. I don't work at my job to feed my kids, I work to buy plaster patch. (True story - when I went to the local hardware store just a block away I introduced myself and said I was new to the neighborhood and that they'd be seeing a lot of us. They asked which house and when I told them they said "You'll be wanting the big bucket of plaster patch".)
It was unfenced, so the first thing we had to do was put in a fence. Because of the layout if you were driving down the street pre-fence you could see straight through the screened porch into the kitchen, which I wasn't crazy about. It's on a corner, which doesn't thrill me either. There are only three bedrooms, which took some thinking outside of the box. The sunroom bedroom is big enough that we put a temporary divider in the middle to create two bedrooms. Eventually we'll do a permanent wall. I hate the basement. And the street is way more urban than I'm used to. We're sort of on the outside perimeter of the neighborhood. There's an assisted living facility right across the street and we live only a block off of one of the main drags in town. It's not a huge street, but I can see the stoplight from my west windows. It's kind of odd. From my east windows all you can see is trees and big old houses, but the view from other side is more city. We are only half a block from a supermarket, so there's a fair amount of foot traffic. Our city is crazy about roundabouts and there's one right in front of us. Every now and then some drunken frat boy will forget it's there and drive right over it, making quite a racket as their entire undercarriage gets ripped off. I thought the more urban aspect of it could be problematic, but I absolutely love it. I can walk to get anything I need, and there are days I never even get in my car. Both the Film Geek and I can walk to work if we want. The convenience is wonderful.
It's a good place. I think we'll keep it. At least until I finish patching the walls.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Thursday Three

The list today is - My Three Most Hated Household Chores. If ever a list needed to be seventy two items long, this would be it. If I wanted a managable size list I should do The Three Household Chores I Enjoy. I could narrow that down real quick. 1) cooking, 2) uh... Does bringing in the newspaper count as a household chore? Never mind. Martha Stewart is in no danger here, trust me on this. The Health Department yes, Martha, no.

The irony is that I really love a clean house. I just don't want to do anything to make it that way. And since paying someone to do it obviously isn't in the cards, I only have two options. Do it myself or suck it up. Guess which one I choose most of the time? To be fair, my husband is awfully good about doing stuff around the house without even being asked, but he's gone a lot. The only time I enjoy cleaning the house is when I'm really ticked off at someone or something. Then it actually feels good. lieu of working up a snit at someone, here we go...

#1. Cleaning the bathroom. Note that I don't say cleaning the toilet, which is the logical thing to hate to do. But I have three boys, you see, and the toilet really has nothing to do with it. They couldn't hit the Great Wall of China if they were standing on it, much less a small porcelain oval. Add the fact that they are easily distracted and you can imagine what I have to contend with. They are all perfectly capable of turning around mid-stream because of something they hear on the television three rooms away. I haven't sat on a dry toilet seat in fourteen years, and I see no signs of improvement in the near future. This picture cracks me up but it also makes me envious. I wish my kids would pee in the yard.

#2. Ironing. Seriously, what is the point to ironing? You spend ten minutes pressing a piece of fabric between a smelly ironing board and a steaming hot hunk of metal and five minutes after you put it on it looks exactly the same way it did to start with. I just don't get it. For years (pre-children) I would take everything to the dollar cleaners since they pressed everything for you. Then (post-children) I graduated to clothes that didn't need to be ironed, and that was my strategy for years.

My plan now is fully in effect. I spent three years in school at my advanced age to get a degree that would allow me to wear what is basically pajamas to work. The more rumpled you look the harder you are assumed to be working. Rumpled happens to be a look I can pull off. It's all those years of practice.

Some people will do anything to avoid ironing.

#3. Laundry. I've saved the worst for last. If I could, I'd put laundry in all three spots on this list. It isn't that it's difficult, it's just that it's never ending. You sort, you wash, you move it to the dryer, you take it out, you fold it and then you put it away. As soon as you get to the bottom of that horrendous pile there's something else to take it's place. When you come in my back door you are in my laundry room, so in theory I should have an incentive to stay caught up. Funny thing about those theories and how unrealistic they can be.

Now I will admit that the Film Geek does a great job staying ahead of the laundry. For that matter he is the household designated ironer, and always does lovely work. It's just that he does laundry the way I do, which is to take it out of the dryer and throw it in a pile on the couch until the mood to fold it and put it away strikes. A week later, when we can't locate the couch, we have a pile of wrinkled clothes that have most likely had dogs sleeping on them and have fallen on the floor at least once. I'm sure this all feeds into my ironing aversion. Sometimes I get on kicks where I deal with the laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer, and those are the times I feel in control of my household. It's a feeling I adore, but it's oh so fleeting.

That's part of the reason I love doing this blog. It keeps me from the chores!


I'll be a little late today. I got up at 5:30 to finish my post before going in a 7 for a four hour shift. Got it all ready, somehow hit the wrong button and voila! The post, she is disappeared. (Use your most smarmy french accent there, folks). I guess the moral of the story is never blog in the dark.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board later this morning. It's the ThursdayThree - My Three most hated household chores.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

It's only May!

Everyone in my house seems to already be in summer mode and it's killing me. I'm not kidding. I've been up for an hour and forty five minutes and I honestly believe I've been screaming the entire time. At least my raw throat thinks so. There are two weeks of school left and nobody seems to care about doing anything they need to do to get through them properly. All three of the kids are like little zombies, counting down the days. I'm about to blow sky high.

For starters, Sasquatach is pathologically incapable of getting to school on time. Here is a typical routine for the boy. My alarm goes off at 7 and I go into his room to give him a first call, so to speak. I fully understand the need to smack the snooze alarm a few times, so I give him the same consideration. He can't get himself up to his own alarm because he sleeps straight through it. We will be in our bed, one room over, wide awake and listening to his alarm going off for twenty straight minutes and he'll still be sound asleep. He's my father all over again. Once, when I was very small, I took a stick of butter out of the fridge and smeared it on my dad when he was asleep. I can't begin to tell you what posessed me, but the bottom line is that the man slept right through it. This is what I'm talking about.

When the kid finally gets up (at 7:36) it takes him twenty minutes in the shower and fifteen to dress, which adds up to it being 8:11 as I'm continuing to scream up the stairs for him to move his butt. The final bell is at 8:08. He could care less about detention because all the do is stick you in a room with a book. This is punishment? Then on the way to school he picks a fight because he wants me to write a note excusing his tardy. My comment basically boiled down to Excuse THIS, buddy. Note that I'm driving him, for starters. From the corner of our front yard you can see the junior high and I'm driving him??

The other two have it more together in the morning time wise. Their specialty is the early morning rumble. They fight over the most absurd things as a little morning pick me up. Adults have caffeine, they have brother brawls. For full impact you need the sound effects too. Surfer Dude bounces a soccer ball on the hardwood floor for the entire argument`just because it irritates everyone. Gumby smacks his breakfast as loud as he can while he debates his brother, simply because it's gross. By the time we leave they're in full out battle mode over something so stupid I don't even remember what it was and it was only thirty minutes ago. We head out to the car and have to make a minor pitstop at the wooden gate, which is stuck. It is so swollen from all the rain that the bottom is sticking. Getting through this gate looks like the DEA making a drug bust because you have to kick the bottom of it as hard as you can while somehow managing not to fall over.

Once we get in the car, I go into lecture mode, which makes them both so mad they get out of the car without a word. I'm pulling away as Surfer Dude comes running frantically back. Today he is student of the day and he's forgotten all of his stuff to put in the display case. The kids get to bring all their treasures from home and show them off to the other students. Not only has he forgotten his stuff, he's forgotten to even put it together. And the two Parents Of The Year have forgotten it too. I race back home (coming in the front door this time and avoiding the gate) and the Film Geek and I go into hyperdrive to collect anything we think he might consider a treasure. My husband hops back in the car and zips back to school to set up the display case. He gets back home and we both plop our already weary selves down.

Come to think of it, summer is looking pretty good.