Monday, December 07, 2009

T-Minus Six-ish Weeks and Counting...

I say six-ish because my OB/GYN mentioned something about inducing me a week early. See, my second pregnancy ended in my water breaking at home at midnight (surprise!) six days before my due date, and my daughter being born three hours later in a different hospital than I intended, by a different doctor, which in turn resulted in no epidural or anything like that. Did I mention that she weighed over eight pounds?

I think I still have a little PTSD about that situation. One thing I learned with the Girl's birth is that "water breaking" doesn't sufficiently cover what went down. You've probably seen a movie or television show where a woman's water breaks, right? You hear a little spatter, and the mama-to-be seems surprised. Oh my, she seems to be thinking, did I just wet myself? Or was it something else?


You know those images of a bunch of kids who open up a fire hydrant in the depths of a gritty summer? THAT is what it is like. A tsunami of liquid evacuating from your body. And the weirdest part is that this painless, seemingly unending gush of amniotic fluid releases itself and you possess no shut-off valve. Mostly everything else that exits various parts of your body does so with you acting as the prime mover, so to speak. Even (sorry for the squeamish) menstrual blood is generally accompanied by some cramping so you have some awareness of what's happening with your body.

This is the first in a series of lessons that you just don't have any calculated control over what's happening to you during birth. Your body just takes over and is all, "Okay, dummy, time for me to handle this now. You just go ahead and watch a movie or something to pass the time." The best you can do is manage your pain and push when your doctor tells you to, but even that is something that you have to figure out as you go. You can't really practice pushing, you know? Sure, you can, ahem, exercise the necessary muscles. But this is a production for which there is no rehearsal, a game for which there is no practice. You just get out there and GO.

I'm not sharing this to get mileage out of the only real war stories I have. Mostly, I'm trying to plan for this next one so that we can welcome the (hopefully less than nine pounds) guy with as little sturm and drang as possible. We're about twenty minutes closer to the hospital for one thing, which is a bonus. And then there's this induction thing, which will help us plan a date, time, and firm childcare options for the Boy and the Girl.

Of course, it also takes a little bit of the romance out of the whole thing when you pick a birthday. But man, I would really rather not encounter bloody amniotic fluid at midnight again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gives New Meaning to "Take It with a Grain of Salt"

Yesterday, Super Ninja and the kids spent some time with my Mom, brother, and sister whilst I and my Dad went to my niece's fashion showWe had a lot of fun! My niece is a seven-year-old with stage presence, and has been taking acting/modeling classes for the past six months. Yesterday was the pinnacle, the big finale, of these classes. I'm her godmother, and wanted to check out something in which she's invested so much time. She was pretty awesome, definitely in command of the runway.

Anyway, when my Dad and I returned to his house, Super Ninja was staring at the Boy, clearly confused. "You did what?" I heard him ask.

"I ate salt." The Boy looked a little pleased with himself, mostly, I think, because of the reaction he was getting from his father.

"You ate salt?" Super Ninja repeated. He wisely skipped the next logical question, which would have been "Why?" With the Boy, there is no "why." There is just exploration, experimentation, and the occasional NaCl overdose.

Instead, Super Ninja asked, "How much?"

The Boy answered, "Like this." He made a bowl out of one of his hands, then waved the other hand over top of it, almost like he was practicing some prestidigitation. But my Mommy Conversion Chart told me that One Boy Handful = 2 teaspoons. This is more salt than a kid his age is supposed to have in a week.

"Can I have some water?" the Boy asked. Still shaking his head, Super Ninja got up to get a glass of water, which the Boy downed in about three seconds. Super Ninja, having been around the kids for the better part of the day, took advantage of my presence and got outta there for some peace.

The Boy ran off to get the cheap kids' keyboard that my parents have in the toy box. I swear, this thing has two volume settings: off and obnoxious. Anyway, the Boy sits down with this keyboard, flips it on, and hits the Rock Demo key. As the thing is beeping and thumping away, he goes a little green and suddenly hurls all over himself, the keyboard, and the sofa.

Yeah, I think I salt overdose will do that to you.

Awesome. Five minutes in the house, and I'm cleaning up vomit. It was a notable day in our family, though: I think it was the first time the Boy vomited without immediately crying afterward. Silver linings, eh?

PSST: for any of you who know Super Ninja's parents, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TELL THEM THIS STORY. Our family passed a head cold around like a hot potato last week. His parents were convinced we were under swine flu attack, and this will serve only to inflame their anxiety. Not to worry, though: Super Ninja went to the doctor and, as he says, was diagnosed "as a candy ass" because all he had was a lot of post-nasal drip. No flu, no swine flu, no strep, no sinus infection. Just a cold, which means that we have escaped the dreaded H1N1 for now.

And for those of you who are wondering, little ol' pregnant me doesn't intend to get the H1N1 vaccine, even though the news and some doctors (not mine) are making it sound like you might as well stab yourself in the uterus if you don't get it. Based on what I'm seeing here, it looks to me like the H1N1 vaccine is currently being tested on 120 healthy women. That's right: is being tested. In the process of testing. Undergoing testing. There's no conclusion, no end results to comb through. The CDC's recommendation that THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of women should have this shot are based on the facts that (1) they are in the midst of testing it on 120 women, and (2) the regular seasonal flu shot, which is similar, BUT NOT THE SAME, hasn't caused problems with the pregnant women and babies who have previously had the seasonal flu shot.

I'm good with the seasonal flu shot. I will get it when doses are actually available. Know why? Because various incarnations of the seasonal flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over the years. Those percentages and precedents? I'm good with those. Besides, who wants the flu when pregnant? I know a lot of women who don't want the pregnant while pregnant, so adding a layer of influenza on top of pregnancy just doesn't appeal, you know?

But until there are conclusions to clinical trials, more women who have taken it with no ill effects, and more compelling reasons to take it than, "Well, studies have shown that pregnant women who get the seasonal flu vaccine tend to have babies who get the flu less, so there are probably similar benefits if you get the H1N1 vaccine," I'm not inclined to have the shot.

Ahem. I'll get off of my soap box now. Even if I sound like a suspicious cavewoman.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Chapters

Sheesh, that sounds ominous, doesn't it? Some blogs that I follow have just faded away recently, and I want to assure you that "New Chapters" is not the opening salvo to a lengthy apology on quitting blogging or anything like that. Time, she is thin on the ground, and so the blogging has taken a hit.

Anyhoo, much has been accomplished over the past month. We moved. Moving back and forth to college? No biggie. All I ever had were books, clothes, a stereo, and some shelves. Moving into the apartment? Also not a biggie. My husband had most of the furniture, so again, I was just moving books, clothes, a stereo, and some shelves. It was once we were in the apartment that the Stuff grew and multiplied. With the luxury of space and semi-permanence, well, I didn't exactly become a hoarder, but if I was at all conflicted about tossing something in the garbage, I would keep it.

Even though I knew I did not want to keep everything we had in the apartment, what's a girl to do when she's seven months pregnant, her brain is smaller than normal, and she's doing most of the packing by herself because her husband is in the final throes of earning his Master's degree? So we ended up moving most of the junk from the apartment to the townhouse. Not the best idea, but hey, I just wanted to be done with the 1-bedroom apartment and moved into the 3-bedroom townhouse.

That was five years ago, and now, we have moved again. This time, to a five bedroom (six, if you count the sitting room attached to the master bedroom) single-family home. There is LOTS OF ROOM, many nooks and crannies, and darn it, I don't want to fill it with junk. I have discovered the beauty of eBay and of simply passing things we don't need to other people. And lastly, I have come to realize that it is OKAY to throw things out. When they have served their purpose and are beyond a point where they can be useful to anyone else, it is just ducky to toss them. In the most responsible way possible, of course.

There's something beyond the practicality of this, though. Our stuff, it can be viewed as an outward extension of who we are as people. I could get rid of that decanter with matching cordial glasses. But then I have to make a decision: am I the kind of woman who should have a decanter with matching cordial glasses, or am I not? The obvious answer is not, because honestly, I don't even own a bottle of liqueur, so it would really be incredible if the occasion came to pass where I would need that particular set of glasses.

One of my friends went through this recently, and she said that you have to get rid of the things associated with who you thought you would be to make room for the things associated with who you are. This really resonated with me. Don't get me wrong: who I thought I would be is not diametrically opposed to who I am. I'm pretty sure that if my fourteen-year-old self met my current self, she would not be shocked to pieces at how I am living my life. So, I s'pose I'll cherry-pick some concert t-shirts to hang onto, and I will forever cherish my Doc Martens whether or not I wear them. But a lot of the other stuff? It got the old heave-ho when we moved. And even more will hit the streets after the community yard sale next weekend. Then again, maybe I'll just donate it. I don't need the new neighbors judging me on what I'm offering up for sale...

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Didn't Need My Husband to Share This with His Co-Workers

But since he did, I'll go ahead and open it up to the blogosphere. The squeamish among you need not continue. Couple of things you need to know about the context of the conversation I am about to quote:
  1. Last week, the Boy asked me how the baby that I am currently housing will get out of my belly when the time comes. All of the experts say to answer honestly, but briefly, so I said, "Well, Boy, the baby will get out through my vagina." After a pause, he said, "Really?" I assured him that it was true.
  2. The Girl is potty training, so she knows the proper names for the bits involved in that particular endeavor.
  3. We are moving to a new house and are foisting our children off on various friendly relatives and pals who are willing to take them while we pack like maniacs.

So, anyway, in the car yesterday, the Girl spontaneously says, "Mom? When the baby comes out of your tummy, it will come out of your mouth."

Before I have a chance to say anything, the know-it-all, five-year-old Boy counters, "No, the baby is going to come out of Mommy's penis."

"Oh," says the Girl.

"Well, actually George," I interrupt, not wanting my daughter to think I'm some kind of she-male, "I don't have a penis." So I correct him, and once again tell him what the baby's exit strategy is.

"Mooooom," he responds, "the Girl doesn't know what a pagina is."

"Sure she does!" I answer, knowing that the Girl and I have been covering this territory quite a lot lately during her potty adventures. She points out the general location to prove to the Boy that she knows just where her pagina is.

And then we started talking about a big blue truck driving by or something. No biggie. Later on though, when her aunt was helping her use the potty, the Girl looked her aunt dead in the eye and said, "When the baby is born it will come out of Mommy's pagina. It's gonna be weird."

Can't wait to hear what they talked about at daycare today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deciding What to Pack and Move, Deciding What to Toss

So, we're moving. Yay! Which means packing. Boo. On the plus side, we can actually pay people to haul our junk from Laurel to Catonsville. On the minus side, we actually have to find reputable movers who won't break our flat panel television and offer us $42 compensation.

The interweb has provided us ample opportunity to seek quotes for the big move. One of the sites I went to was really thorough -- I had to go through and check off all of the things we own. Inventories of one's life are kind of weird and thought-provoking. But man, I was totally distracted when I got to the "Miscellaneous" section of the list.

Clothes hamper...yep, got one of those. Coat rack...used to have one, but don't anymore. Coffin...


There are THAT many people in these United States who own coffins that they needed to give Coffins its OWN field? This isn't something that could have been covered in, say, the memo field at the end of the list where you are instructed to type up a list of anything that wasn't represented among the fields? I mean, ponder the mundanity of the rest of the items you see in this small selection...milk crates...tackle box...even TANNING BEDS have to be more common than coffins, right?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Think the Baby Punched Super Ninja Last Night

I was lying down and feeling the grapefruit-sized ball that my uterus has become, and invited Super Ninja to give it a poke. This hardening of my belly (under all of the soft bits that my wispy doctor has been encouraging me to shed for several years now) is the first tangible evidence of the pregnancy for Super Ninja. Heretofore, the evidence has been behavior-based, such as my falling asleep at 8:30 p.m. while putting the Girl to bed, or turning a delightful shade of green when I catch the aroma of (my former lifeblood), coffee. So anyway, Super Ninja cupped the rounded (rounder?) part of my lower abdomen, leaned over, and said "Hello baby!"

And the baby punched (or maybe kicked) him.

He asked me, "Was that you?" And I had to think for a second, because honestly, the quickening flutter is barely distinguishable from a stomach that is grumbling because it is working REALLY HARD on that asparagus you had for dinner. But this was a direct, localized thump, which took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to feel anything like that for another couple of weeks. Since this is the third pregnancy, though, it's apparently not unusual to feel things sooner.

My doctor DID tell me during my last exam that I was measuring large. Humph. It's a statement of fact, sure, but I don't know that anyone enjoys being told that they are measuring large. Unless he is a dude and his inseam is being measured. Otherwise, measuring large usually = bad. In this case it could just mean that I'm further along than originally calculated. Or that I'm having a huge baby. Or that I'm having a baby with a huge Irish head. We're going to cross our fingers and hope that it's just that I'm further along.

I'm due in mid-January, which is actually a stellar time to have a child, I think. No one's going to expect someone to travel with a newborn in January. People can come visit me all they want so long as they don't mind the explosion of baby gear all of the house, and they are willing to hold the baby, change a diaper, do my laundry...

Oof. Flashbacks to the laundry. See, you THINK it's just newborn laundry. How much can that be, right? The clothes are TINY. So even if you need to change the baby's clothes four times a day, that's still just a tiny heap of clothing, right? WRONG! Because you are not accounting for your OWN clothing that the baby soils when s/he spits up on you, whizzes on you, projectile poos on you, the changing table pads, the carpets... Oh, and if you co-sleep and the diaper is a little gappy, well, that's a whole load right there.

Anyway, THAT, my dear tens of readers, is my way of telling you that Super Ninja and I are having another baby. Oh yes. THREE. You might ask why we are having a third child when we have already successfully spawned replacements for ourselves on this here terra firma with the Boy and the Girl. The answer's simple: we needed insurance that we'll have a place to live in our dotage. Chances are better that a child will take us in if we have three, right?

Nah, just kidding. I think most couples have a notion of how many kids they think they can handle, and (if they are rational beings) they allow for a healthy dollop of experience to confirm or curtail that notion. And after having two children, we decided that three seems right for us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The House Is On the Market! (Or, How to Drive Yourself a Little Bit Crazy)

Breaking news! We are selling our house. In this economy? Yes! You might ask, "Is the bank making you sell your house?" Nope! We are selling the house because we are morons and prefer to go through major life events at the absolute worst possible time in modern history. I'm pretty sure that if there were a nuclear holocaust, Super Ninja and I would probably turn to each other and say, "You know, maybe NOW is the time to start that vegetable garden."

We like where we live, honestly and truly -- our neighbors are stellar, our daycare provider is essentially a co-parent who is irreplaceable, we know the best places to shop, we're 25 minutes from downtown DC and downtown Baltimore (by car OR by train!), there are about a dozen parks and playgrounds within five minutes of our house, beautifully maintained walking paths and bike trails, AND there are ghosts in our town. You can't beat that kind of combination...

So why are we moving?

The motivation behind this is two-fold: (1) the public elementary school in our neighborhood kind of stinks, and (2) we just don't fit in our house anymore. Most folks, when you cite these rationales, totally understand. But I still feel really guilty. Why on earth, you might ask, would I feel guilty about moving for perfectly legit reasons?

Regarding the poor quality of the school... I work for an educational non-profit whose sole purpose is to help teachers teach better in an effort to improve schools so that every child can learn to his/her fullest potential. To turn a school around takes the investment of each parent and teacher in the school. I'm essentially abandoning the school by not even enrolling my kid there. I'm abdicating any responsibility to make it a better educational institution.

Look at the ego on me, eh? Like ONE parent who can contribute approximately 27 minutes per week would make it a Blue Ribbon school.

I'm not an elitist. I want my kids to go to public school. I want them to understand that the world is made up of a mix of people, and is not uniformly Catholic and white. This, I believe, will serve them best in life since we have no plans to move to a white Roman Catholic commune. And, I don't want subjects like History and English to be shot through with religious literature. Don't get me wrong; religion will be a part of their upbringing, but I don't want it to be the core of their education. All things being equal, I'd rather the money I spend on tuition go to a mortgage in a good school district.

As for the amount of space we need -- I think I equate living within one's space to living within one's means. And by buying a bigger house, we're not addressing the root of the problem. We're not horders or anything like that. But kids, wow, they come with a lot of stuff. And because of hand-me-downs, and possible future children, and visiting children, we actually have everything you'd need for kids from birth to about ten-years-old. And that, my friends, takes up a 10 x 10 climate-controlled storage room.

I'll squash the guilty complex the second our house sells and I can start freaking out about finding a new place. Out with the old stress, in with the new!

Monday, July 06, 2009

What My Last 10 Facebook Comments Would Have Been If I Weren't a Total Chicken

  1. Irregardless isn't a word.
  2. Maybe you spell check your status update before you post?
  3. Things I Don't Think the World Needs to Know: that you're going to the gym, that you're going to work, that you're cooking dinner.
  4. Perhaps you should revisit using that belly dancing photo as your profile pic.
  5. I shouldn't know more about the non-functioning elevators in your office than I do about Uyghurs.
  6. It is probably not a good idea to post a countdown to your vacation. It's more effective to post a "Looters Welcome" sign on your front door.
  7. If you are my age and you are talking about your grandson, you really, really need to put more information in your bio. I'm too much of a lady to press you for details.
  8. Quoting a song every day ≠ telling me what's a-happenin' with you today. Just tells me that you've got quite a lot of lyrics memorized. Or a database of lyrics at the ready.

Humph. I only got to eight? Must mean I'm not as grumpy as I think I am.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Have a Theory about Why Married Couples on Reality Shows Eventually Divorce

Since I'm a sociologist* and all, I figured I'd throw my theory out there. Long-term marriage requires love, respect, and trust. This we know, right? There are even songs and psalms about it. Here's the thing, though. There's another massively important ingredient that is completely squashed in a reality-show environment: the ability to LET THINGS GO.

Say your spouse does something that bugs you... I'm just going to pick something at random... like, using paper towels to blow his nose instead of walking three feet to the box of tissues on the table and grabbing some of those. And when you go to get a paper towel, there's a lonely cardboard tube, but no towel. So you go to the pantry to grab a fresh role, only to find that the entire stock of rolls purchased for the week are gone.

In real life, you say something like, "Could you PLEASE not use the paper towels to blow your nose?" He says, "Oh, sorry." And that's that. In reality life, there's probably a montage of every time he's snatched a paper towel throughout the history of the show, and then when you go to the grocery store to get more paper towels, perfect strangers say, "I see you're buying more paper towels. I can't believe that your husband uses them to blow his nose!" And then you get annoyed all over again. Even if he changed his habit, the audience would still think he does it, and then that would grate on HIM. And because of the commentary, the couple feels like they need to put on an act and behave as if everything is OK, because then maybe everyone will think everything is OK, and then maybe you can work out your issues in a semblance of privacy without dealing with people asking if everything is OK.

Suddenly, these silly roommate issues become much bigger deals because entertainment and its composite parts never really allow the water to wash under the bridge. To continue the analogy, the water pools in a dam and eventually either washes over in a torrent or breaks through the cracks.

I know, I know, most of the time the couples involved say that the end result would probably have been the same, but that the reality show caused them to get there faster. And I doubt that anyone's marriage has ever reached the crisis stage because he leaves the toilet seat up or she never puts her clothes away.

But how do you know? I knew a woman who actually questioned her husband's love for her and commitment to their relationship because he continued to put dirty dishes in the sink when she had expressly requested that he not do that.

Ultimately, I think we all need to be able to just ignore some things, pretend he doesn't do this or she doesn't do that. Plausible deniability is also clutch. Filming your life allows for neither of these things.

*I have no degree in this subject area. I know people who have Ph.D.s in Sociology, though, so that qualifies me, don't you think?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Kids' Books that Creep Me Out

With a two-year-old and a four-year-old in the house, our family has been given an inordinate number of books. Books when they were born, books for their birthdays, books for visits from grandparents, hand-me-down books from my siblings, hand-me-over books from neighbors, books that were treasured by Super Ninja and came packed tightly among other presents from his parents.... Their collection of literature rivals ours. They've filled three bookshelves, and their over-sized books spill out onto the floor. WHY, by the way, are many of the books for little children HUGE? It would be like me reading a novel on poster board. This would make me very angry, and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Anyway, Super Ninja and I are huge bibliophiles, so it's no surprise that our children are quite fond of the written word. The Boy, who will be five in July, is reading independently. I can't take credit (much). It's all due to his daycare provider. He's not fluent, yet, though -- there are a handful of words in each book that he doesn't know. When he stumbles over one, he pads over to me, looks at me, looks at the word, looks at me, looks at the word, until I tell him what the word is.* You can tell that he's filing it away for future use, and I very rarely need to tell him what a word is a second time. The Girl is doing that pre-reader thing where she kind of makes up her own story to fit the pictures.

Periodically, these lovely children of mine will bring books to me that I really, really don't want to read to them. Because (shhh) I don't like them. They creep me out or irritate me in a big, big way. And then I feel bad that I'm imposing my taste on them. I mean, listen, they ARE going to love Depeche Mode when the time is right. That's a given. But when it comes to books, they should have freedom of choice, right? So I read them. Reluctantly, but I read them. Why? Because nothing piques interest like parental disfavor, right?

Here are the books that I may have to disappear from the collections:

1) The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. Thing one against it? The monstrous picture on the back of Shel Silverstein in all of his gap toothed glory. Seriously, the guy looks like a Island of Dr. Moreau combo of a serial killer and a jack o'lantern. Forget the graphics, though. Let's talk about the message in the book. A boy keeps asking things of the tree, and the tree keeps giving, and giving, and giving, until the tree is a stump. And STILL the tree gives when it allows the boy, now an old man who needs to rest, to sit on her stump. You may tell me that the book was originally intended to be an ecological statement about all that nature gives to us. That may be true, but most folks I know interpret the tale as a metaphor for the parent-child relationship. And if you take it that way, the parent gives until s/he's eviscerated. The boy NEVER says thank you, never says, "Gee, you know, I've asked so much of you, it's time I figure things out for myself." Oh no. He's like, "Awesome, you've given me everything you've got to give. Anything else?"

No, you greedy bastard. I'm JUST A STUMP.

2) Love You Forever, Robert Munsch. Okay, all of you weepies out there. I know that you lose it at the end of this book when the Circle of Life rolls along and the man carries his graying tiny mother to bed, just as she put him to bed when he was an wee babe. I get it. Know what I don't get, though? The page where the mother, under cover of darkness, props a ladder against her adult son's house, sneaks in through a window, and gazes at him adoringly. As a woman married to a man who's mother might do something like this, I shiver a little when I get to this page.

3) Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister. I want my children to share. Really, I do. And I want them to be nice to other kids. But I don't think I want them to give of themselves until they are almost completely depleted just so that other kids like them. Isn't that what the message of this beautifully illustrated book is? The rainbow fish is a little hoity-toity about his sparkly scales, the other fish don't care for his big ego, so he gives away all of his scales to the other fish so that they, too, have sparkly beauty of their very own and will be nice to him. What are my kids supposed to do? Pluck strands of blond hair and pass them out at recess? I think that would earn them a trip to the guidance counselor for a psychological evaluation. "Hello, Mrs. Super Ninja? This is Mrs. X from the Boy's school? Yeah, he's got trichotillomania."


4) Any book that makes noise. Not that these books are all bad or anything, but the Girl has been keeping herself awake at night by secreting one of these under her covers and then pressing the buttons relentlessly. So, I am only against them because in the morning I get a grumpy toddler to, ahem, enjoy after one of her late night adventures.

I'm sure this list will grow, but those are the only ones... For now.

*Right now, the Boy is physically incapable of ASKING for help. We're working on this. I don't want to fall into a pattern where I'm helping him simply because he emits a grunt of frustration. Know what that gets you? A grunty kid whose mother interferes before he has a chance to solve his own problem, and then, before I know it, I'm in the middle of a pattern where he's allowed to be mad at me for not fixing his problem AND he's mad at me that I tried to fix it without really knowing what the problem is. No thank you. I want him to request help and to state what the problem is so that (A) I don't have to guess, (B) he doesn't take his frustration out on me, and (C) he acknowledges that I am doing him a solid by helping him, and that he should be grateful and not grumpy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This and $4 Will Buy You a Latte

Okay, so I have a minor addiction to gossip rags. Eh, whaddya gonna do? I'm actually kind of weaning myself off them because (a) I feel a little dirty after I read an article with that! many! exclamation! points!, and (b) the people who pass for celebrities these days are...confusing. And I watch television, people. I read Entertainment Weekly. You have to work REALLY hard for me not to know who you are.

Anyway, the thing that's all the rage in the rags right now is that Marilyn is claiming that he and Gavin Rossdale were an item for five years. WHO CARES? Okay, I get why people care. Bisexual pop star. That hasn't been done since... Oh, wait, that's always been done.

But the thing that they are all snarkily commenting on is that Marilyn kinda sorta looks (or looked) like Gwen Stefani. The thing is, I feel for Gwen on this one. Not because her husband might've dated a dude, since that's probably something that was discussed early in their relationship. Also, I don't think that it's a big deal that people are saying she and a dude look alike. I'd argue that most women don't want to be told they look like a man, but have you seen Marilyn? He's rather pretty.

Nah. My empathy is that she's dealing with the fact that her husband [allegedly] has a type.

Have you ever met an ex of your significant other's? I have. I've met two, actually. First, there was his met-during-college-orientation girlfriend. She and I, well, we share some common physical features... Kinda short (me too), brownish, curlyish hair (hey...), a ready smile (wait a minute...)... Then I met his Winnie Cooper, and it was the same thing. Short, smily, wavy hair. Hmph.

See, I think we all want to assume that we are the one-and-only for our partners in life (or crime, if you like). That there's some crazy cosmic thing that puts us in the right place at the right time, and that your significant other is drawn to that special something that makes you YOU. I don't necessarily disbelieve that. But at the same time, it's kind of tough to ignore that your husband tried a couple of VERY SIMILAR people on for size before he got to you. That sounds gross, but you get my point.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Dawn of a New Era

I did it. I went to a gym, AND I worked out. This has not occurred since 1997. You think I am joking, but I am not. Actually, those of you who know my tubby self personally will not be that shocked. The reasons for this gap in gym history? Well, in 1997, I was still in college, and there was a pesky mandatory gym fee. Master of Frugality that I am, I couldn't abide paying for something that I wasn't using, so I went to the gym. Not every day or anything like that, because Yates* sucked an egg as far as variety and availability of equipment. But I hoofed it over there often enough that I didn't feel the fee was a waste of dough.

Anyway, the Boy's gymnastics classes have sprung anew. (HA! Sprung! See what I did there? Gymnastics? Sprung? I am such a wordsmith.) Tiny Tumblers is held in a county-sponsored rec center. Sheesh, just saying the words "rec center" immediately makes me want to hold a fundraiser or something. Weren't rec centers in 1980's television always in dire need of funding or they'd be boarded up, shut down, and burned to the ground?


The fee for a family package was extraordinarily low. Less than Super Ninja spends on comics in a year. Less than I spend on coffee for a year. This struck me as a bargain, and was the push I needed to finally, FINALLY, join a gym. The other push being that the Boy has enjoyed slapping my tummy because it "makes funny noises." He does this while I am in repose, which does not do much for my repose. Or my body image.

My return to the fitness equipment went pretty well. I did about 45 minutes of cardio. Jeez. I hate myself a little bit for that sentence. I worked with a bunch of fitness tools early in my career, and my pathological need not to join in group think woke up the dormant slob who didn't want to be like them. I still don't want to be like them, but I don't want to be like this either, so I'll get over it.

I did not do the cardio intentionally. I sat down on at a recumbent bike and it prompted me to make an exercise selection. I went for "Fat Burner." It presented me with many hills and valleys. I hated the hills with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. But I got through my 25 minutes, and moved onto a treadmill. Again, I poked "Fat Burner." Again, many hills and valleys, and again, white hot hatred. Okay, okay, I'm being a little disingenuous. I only hated the first five minutes or so. Once the endorphins kicked in, I was fine.

Translation: I'll go again, and I don't feel like I wasted the cash on the family membership. Huzzah!

It's Super Ninja's turn to go tonight. Wonder what he'll make of it? I'm half-expecting he'll get tangled up in the equipment.

*That picture is a lying liar when it comes to representing my experience of the field house. Georgetown totally revamped the place AFTER I left. This is third on my list of things I wish had been done prior to my matriculation. The brand spanking new performing arts center (with a fully loaded shop and costume room) and the existence of a theater major taking second and first place, respectively.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Vacation Plans

I'm in desperate need of a vacation plan. I think the idea of a vacation may actually be more valuable than the vacation itself. It's gloomy here in the Mid-Atlantic today, my to-do list is WAY bigger than my to-done list, and there's this swirl of stressy stuff that we need to do (taking that first step toward trying to sell the house, figuring out where to live after that in the Baltimore Metro region, hoping that it will be the right size, in a good school district, etc.). In the face of all of this grown-up blah, I need to know that at some point, I will be able to check out of my daily routine and check into a different life for a week.

There are a couple of options on the table, some involving a second honeymoonish kind of thing to celebrate Super Ninja's and my upcoming 10-year anniversary*, and some involving a sunshiney family four-pack vacations to a place featuring Disney characters. It all depends on whether or not we can bribe, I mean invite, someone to watch the Boy and the Girl for an extended period of time. They are little delights about 89% of the time, so it wouldn't be the most onerous thing we've asked my in-laws....or someone else with no job do. If not, then we'll bring 'em with us wherever we go.

Once I nail it down, though, I'm going to feel so much better. Like, "Suck it, car needing an oil change, I'm going to ENGLAND in July!" Or, "Eat it, kindergarten registration. I'm going to the BEACH this summer!" I do not have that yet, though, so I am the one who currently has to suck it. I do not relish this.

*10 years? 10 YEARS. I have been married to someone for a decade. That's weird, since I feel like I'm about 15 in many, many situations. Which I suppose makes Super Ninja a pederast. Wait 'til I tell him THAT at dinner tonight.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Thoroughly 21st Century Problem

So, I was chatting with a friend last night on the phone, and we were comparing notes on our four-year-olds. The Boy is about six months older than her daughter, so there are some developmental similarities, such as the impulse to make observations. Like, "You have messy hair, Mommy." Or, "Daddy, that cowboy [on TV] has a fat tummy too." The Boy doesn't mean to insult us. He's just callin' 'em like he sees 'em.

As I was sharing the messy hair comment, my friend interrupted and said, "Yeah, I saw that on your Facebook page." It wasn't rude or anything like that -- she was laughing with me about our children's, ahem, honesty.

But, hmmm.

I realize that I'm overly connected. I've got a rarely-used MySpace page, Facebook, this blog, and Twitter. Being plugged into these devices satisfies some writerly impulses that I have. It's not like I think that I'm so very awesome that I need varying media outlets to spread my good word to the masses. After all, I clearly don't have enough original content, since I was telling a story that I'd already posted on Facebook.

So, here's what I'm pondering: I don't think that you can assume that people are actually reading your blog or Facebook or whatever all the time. I don't want to be one of those people who responds to an innocent question with, "Didn't you read my blog/Facebook/Twitter/MySpace?" Ugh. Double ugh. People who do that should be punched in the head forthwith.

But, then I run the risk of repeating myself. So what to do? Do I start tracking myself like a stand-up comic and retire bits that I've posted? Or keep the best stuff for my in-person communications?

Guess I'll just have to deal when people tell me that they've read it already. Here's hoping that they do before I bore them to tears with a rehash of a story.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yesterday at the Playground

The Boy: I'm Sunny Superhero!* And you, (he points to his father) are Dark [sic] Vader!

The Girl: I Pink Hulk!

So, yeah, I think we're doing a fair job of introducing our children to Nerd World, and ensuring that they will have a limited number of friends.

*This is a super hero of his own invention. Sunny Superhero can fly, and "has the power of sunbeams," which basically means he can shoot laser beams of sunshine from his fingers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Mother Moment

For better or for worse, I don't define myself as a mother first. If someone asked me what I do, that wouldn't be the first thing that I mentioned. Even if I were a stay-at-home mother, I don't think I'd answer, "Well, I have two kids..."

There are some who would be horrified by that, and they would assume (a) that I am incredibly selfish, (b) that I don't love my children properly, (c) that I take the Boy's and the Girl's wonderful presence in my life for granted, or (d) all of the above. None of those things are true about me, but go ahead and be all judgy.

Anyway, I know there are scores of people who define themselves as parent first and foremost. Just take a look around Facebook and see how many profile pictures of your friends feature their progeny. Cripes, some of my friends' profile pics don't even include themselves. It's like they can't even wait for people to look at their bios or stats or whatever to see that they have children -- that bit of news is FRONT AND CENTER, baby.

Truth is, my children's welfare is always, always, always the first thing I consider in big decisions. For instance: Super Ninja and I are looking to move so that we can be in a really good school district as opposed to the dicey one that we're in now. Oh, and sidewalks. My kingdom for a network of sidewalks.

Perhaps my low-key-itude is overcompensation for my own mother's attitude toward motherhood? Ask her anything, ANYTHING, about herself, and the fact that she has seven children will come up within 30 seconds.

Let's analyze that later.

The whole reason I started writing this post is because I had one of those didn't-think-it-was-weird-'til-later moments over the weekend. Let me set the scene: the Girl seems to have a bit of an allergy to something floating in the air 'round our manse, so she's been a bit stuffy. But two-year-olds aren't proficient at the whole nose-blowing thing, and the air has been a bit dry despite prodigious use of humidifiers, so the end result was a crusty glob of yuck plugging up her nostrils. It was particularly bad yesterday morning. From several feet away, I could hear her exhalations whistling around the chunks in her nose.

So, I did what any mother would do.

I bribed her with M&Ms. Why the bribe? To allow me to pick her nose, of course. That's right. No tissue was going to get the job done. These things required extraction. But when the yuck gets that big, the removal is a little painful, even it it is softened up a little with some of this stuff. The M&Ms were to tempt her to stay still for a nano-second so that I didn't accidentally pierce her nose or anything like that. Four M&Ms later, we were done.


The thing is, I wasn't grossed out by it. I wanted to do it. I was compelled to do it. And, when all was said and done, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I scrubbed my hands thoroughly afterward, to be sure. But I didn't dry heave or anything like that.

And that's the kind of quiet moment that defines motherhood to me. It's not proclaiming from a mountaintop that I am a mother. It's just being one. Showering my kids with affection, and truly being eager to roll up my sleeves and do the grunt work that helps them, be it teaching them to read, explaining social interactions, or pinning them down and picking their noses so that they breathe more easily.

So, suck on that, ye doubters.

Friday, March 06, 2009

You Always Need Water

I had my annual visit to my OB/GYN yesterday. (Cue shudders among my male reader(s).)

On the plus side, my diminutive Asian doc told me that I should lose 25 pounds instead of the usual 40. So, the Wii Fit and the reduction of the amount of crap I shovel into my maw are having the intended effect. It's shocking what cutting calories and leading a slightly-less-than-sedentary lifestyle will do for ya.

On the not-so-plus side, I gave myself an outrageous case of razor burn while preparing for said visit. What am I, eleven years old with a dull Bic? Sheesh.

Yeah, so here's what happened. I'd originally thought my exam was scheduled for last Tuesday. I spent mucho time primping the night before. I think I spend more time grooming for my OB/GYN appointments than I did for my wedding. We're talking actually shaving ABOVE the knee, instead of up TO the knee. Anyway, at the appointed time, I sauntered into the doctor's office, only to find that someone (they say me, I say they) mixed up the appointment times. No biggie -- they just rescheduled me for yesterday.

Since I lead an ridiculously busy life (i.e., web surfing) I forgot about the appointment until yesterday morning. I did not groom during my evening shower the night before, and I only allow myself a lightning fast 15 minutes to get ready for work. Shaving ankle-to-hip is not a staple of my morning toilette.

What to do? I couldn't, just couldn't go to the doc with more than a week's growth on my gams. She might mistake me for some other hominid and forward me to the local zoo. I did what many a gal short on time has done: dry-ish shaved my legs.

Sounds desperate, I know. But I had one of these kind of shavers, and I thought if I spattered a little water on my legs, I'd be OK. I mean, the models in the commercials are never actually IN the shower when using the device, right? I would be a thoroughly modern, untethered woman, and shave outside my tiled prison. All would be well.

WRONG. Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong.

It didn't hurt while I was in the midst of shaving. But oh, Lord, the consequences. Imagine being slightly flayed. And then someone whips the exposed meat of your legs. Pleasant, eh? They are much better today, so I'm guessing a crucial layer of epidermis has grown back already. That's my secret mutant power: re-growing skin that I removed in a stupid attempt to beat the clock.

Ultimately, I've decided that if I forget about future OB/GYN visits, Tiny Asian, M.D., will just have to deal with my hirsuteness.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Overly Examined Life

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." He said this during the 4th century BCE, though, when people were mostly examining how take care of the first two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. My guess is that when you are looking for food, shelter, and safety, you're not all that concerned with philosophical thought. But it's only through questioning and reflection that we understand our world, right? So, once you've had your gruel, think a little bit about the hows and whys of your day.

Okay, fine. Maybe in the three minutes that aren't spent working for survival, ponder life.

Got it.

I contend, though, that we're veering into a new age of overly recording and examining our day-to-day, which also renders life not worth living. I mean, if you're spending all of your time recording the quotidian, then you aren't really thinking about it, right? A list doesn't result in a manifesto. Well, unless you're Rob Fleming.

Anyway, I blame Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites that I'm too tired to look them up. These things have a function that allow us to update our connections ('cause, let's face it, not all of them are friends). And most of my connections are posting revelatory things like, "X is making turkey burgers for dinner." Or, "Y needs to eat." And, "Z is working out."

Just because the function is there, you do not need to use it. I use it too much, I know. It's there, taunting me. And then the status updates get out of date, and I think, "No, wait, I no longer feel that way." And then there's pressure to change it to something new, but then I realize that I HAVE NOTHING INTERESTING TO SAY, and it becomes this avalanche of need to collect some new experience and be able to say:

MCV is going out to lunch today.

Aargh. Not interesting. Not reflective. Not anything.

Anyway, I'm wondering when we'll hit the wall and realize that recording our daily meals or activities does not really add value to our lives. Is that harsh? I mean, my Facebook page does not reveal anything about me that my Outlook calendar would not, and that's a bit sad. I think that's why I maintain this blog. But I keep them separate, 'cause I guess I don't want all the folks that I'm, ahem, friends with on Facebook to have access to the old inner sanctum. That's just for you fine people, most of whom I wouldn't know if you poked me in the eye.*

*I don't know why you'd poke me in the eye by way of introduction. Jerk.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting It

I have long harbored a deep resentment for the phrase, "Get it." Seems like a harmless phrase, I know. But when I was working for a marketing company out of college, my boss would debrief us on sales pitches. If the meeting had gone well, he would invariably say, "It was great. The guy from [insert big company name here] is really smart. He really gets it."

And my boss, he would say "gets it" with such reverence, you would think that we were trying to sell string theory or something. In fact, my company organized intramural sports tournaments, and companies could pay a fee to put their logo on a banner, some equipment, and some t-shirts, etc., relating to the intramural sport, and participating colleges would put up the banner, use the equipment, award champs with the t-shirts, and hand out samples of the company's product. The marketing angle behind that was college students = discretionary income, and multiple impressions of a product at a place they visit twice per week (the rec center) results in increased brand awareness and sales among that population.

Not complicated. Okay, if it makes you feel better, it's really complicated, so you are really smart if you understand it.

The thing that really gets under my skin, though, is when I hear countless people dismiss opposing opinions because they believe the opposition just doesn't "get it."

Know what? It is, in fact, possible to learn the same facts, roll them around in your head a little, and come to a different conclusion. I'm not talking about the earth being round or gravity or anything like that. I'm talking about something like this. I can deem it a bit silly* and understand what it's about. It is possible.

I wonder if the people who accuse others of "not getting it" are also the people who were convinced that other kids were mean to them because those schoolyard bullies were "just jealous?"

*but no sillier than a ton of other lifestyle dreck that's out there.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Philosophical Question of Our Times (or maybe just mine)

I have combination skin. By that, I do not mean that my T-zone is a little oily and that the other patches of my face are a little dry. I mean that my T-zone produces enough oil to lubricate all of the gears in Big Ben for a year, and at the very same time my cheeks and neck could absorb the moisture of the Great Lakes and still be a bit parched.

Why does this happen? Why can't the oil just kind of roll on over to the dry spots? Seriously, it's like someone built little famine walls all over my face. Unless maybe there is a reason for the division? Maybe there's a civil war on my face, and the haves are not sharing natural moisture with the have nots in a bid to get them to shrivel up and die.

But I don't want parts of my face to shrivel up and die, so I have spent a chunk of my adulthood flitting from face cream to face cream to try and find something that addresses my myriad skin issues. I mean, honestly. You should not be getting pimples and wrinkles at the same time.

I realize I sound like the early part of one of those commercials featuring a Bright Young Thing declaiming the wonders Oxy or Biore or Roc or Dove. Know what the BYTs' secret is? GENETICS. At least the Proactiv commercials have the decency to offer photo shopped pictures of starlets with mini-mountain ranges of pimples as evidence of effectiveness.

After years of searching, though, I FINALLY found something that works for me. And I love it. Except for one niggling little detail. It smells a little bit -- just a little bit -- like sour milk. This is not a pleasant smell. I am not revealing the brand. But it rhymes with Ploddy Whop.*

So, what do I do? Do I go back to the itchy blotchy skin? Or deal with the smell?


Also important: if you know me personally and catch a whiff of slightly sour milk, please know that it is not some kind of Mommy side effect. If my kids spill milk on me, I will change my clothes. I promise.

*If I write a children's story, this is most assuredly going to be one of the characters' names.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

There Ain't No Party Like a Gymboree Party 'Cause a Gymboree Party Don't Stop

The kids are invited to not one, but TWO parties this weekend. They are social butterflies. Their parents are introverts. So this should go well.

Actually, the hosts are college friends of Super Ninja's, so it's not like we're going be mingling amongst perfect strangers. The kicker, though, is that both of the parties are at the same place: Gymboree. If you are not familiar, Gymboree is a kids' clothing store-cum-arts & crafts learning center (among other things). I've not taken the kids there for any kind of educational purposes, and I rarely shop there, because I am a little suspicious of any place that sells adult clothes that match the kid clothes. You know, for those perfectly coordinated family photos.

Given my hesitations, I'm going to go ahead and bet that the kids LOVE both parties this weekend, to the extent that they will beg me to go back until my head explodes. Should be a hoot!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Undecking the Halls

This weekend, our Christmas tree has an appointment...TO MEET ITS MAKER! MU-HA-HA!. Okay, actually, it had already met it's maker about a month ago, and we've been watering its lovely corpse in our living room for the past few weeks. I like to leave holiday paraphernalia up through Epiphany, which was yesterday, so I don't have any more excuses.

We'll probably do this during nap time, or we will end up with many broken ornaments. The kids kind of like to, ahem, help. For five or six minutes. And during those five or six minutes, their help is about as productive as a twister through my living room.

On a completely different topic, our Wii Fit arrived last night (thanks to Playwright and B.I.L., whose gift of a big bag of money* funded this purchase)! I don't know what it says about me that I prefer watching a cartoon version me exercise in a lovely digital world to actually jogging in my neighborhood. And I'm sure that the workout is not as good as one done in a gym, but I burned more calories than I would have web-surfing, which is the only other kind of exercise I get on a regular basis.

My Wii Fit age is 44, which is horrible, but better than Super Ninja's 52. Despite his head cold, he messed around with it too, which tells me we may actually use it beyond the novelty phase. I'm reluctant to post the nitty-gritty of my stats here, because I really don't think everyone needs to know just how much I suck at balancing (whoo-hoo for doughy core muscles). But we'll see if I can get my Wii Fit age down to (or below) my chronological age.

*They truly gave me a big bag of money for Christmas. It is all I ever ask for when prompted for gift suggestions, so my Christmas dreams came true. I am now wondering if I should have asked for world peace or something like that, but I'm too busy playing with my Wii Fit to really ponder it.