Monday, October 31, 2011

Picture Perfect (Or Why I Hate Shopping)

Thursday we had our family pictures taken.  This meant that I was running all over town the week before trying to procure toddler-size black socks (they don't exist, apparently), a red hair bow (couldn't find one) and a pair of ballet flats for me that didn't display unattractive amounts of toe cleavage.  I haven't bought shoes for myself in a long time.  I haven't bought clothes in a long time except for things that come from Costco, because navigating a department store with two restless toddlers in a boat-sized stroller is like trying to whack your way through a dense, dry forest with a wheelbarrow full of lit fireworks -- you know your cargo is going to explode at any second, and when it does the whole place is going to burn down and you'll be escorted out in handcuffs while a fatherly policeman says, "Sorry, Ma'am, but you should have known better than to bring toddlers in here."

Of course, this may explain why the clothes-folding employee at the front of the store glared at me when I entered, and then again when I plucked two stuffed lions off the shelf and handed them to my whining toddlers.  She glared at me a third time when, after 6.2 minutes of running through the aisles pulling every red shirt I could see, Matthew started shrieking at the top of his lungs (he's one of those ear-splitting fireworks).  That got not only a glare, but a snide comment about my bad mothering skills.  Honestly, lady, this is Kohl's, not Barney's Fifth Avenue.  Needless to say I bought the winning shirt in two different sizes so that I could try them on at home, away from Medusa and her stink eye.

Also tucked in the past week were three or four (or five) trips to Children's Place, and because it was right next door, I stepped into Pier 1 to look at the 50% off Halloween decorations.  It was the most stressful experience of my whole life.  I couldn't have been more twitchy if I'd had a live grenade in my pocket.  First of all, my stroller didn't actually fit in the store, which meant the path to the Halloween decorations was so complex that by the time I was ready to leave (about 60 seconds after arriving because Leah had already de-shelved several items for closer inspection and I didn't want to put myself at risk for paying $98 to take home a pile of shattered glass) I couldn't get out of the store.  They actually had to move a display for me so I could exit.

But it all turned out well in the end.  I got some cute Halloween decorations and I managed to find coordinated outfits for the whole family.  And our photo session went swimmingly, if you don't count the the part where Leah and/or Matthew cried the whole time,  refused to smile or get off my lap, and regularly used my shirt as a kleenex.  Or where Leah skinned her knee and bled all over her tights and Michael managed to spill an entire bottle of water in my diaper bag.  Oh well, if it's lifestyle photography we were looking for, what could be more authentic than pictures of David and me that involve both toddlers hanging on my legs screaming bloody murder and Michael dancing around us like an annoying housefly?  Authenticity at its best.  I can't wait to see the good shots.

If there are any.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Random Thoughts

Italian salad dressing is magic.  It makes so many foods taste better.

Life can never be fair because when people say "fair" they mean "skewed in my favor".

Pace Picante Sauce does not count as salsa and should not be allowed to occupy grocery store space next to the tortilla chips.

People always say that marriage is hard, but really, it's life that is hard.  Marriage makes life a lot easier.

One of the most annoying spelling mistakes is changing "breathe" to "breath". As in, "I can't breath!" Really, you can't "breath"? That must be awkward.

I hate parking lots with angled spaces that mean you can only drive in from one direction.

Does anyone else find it ironic that Hollywood celebrities -- people who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for mere minutes of work -- are hopping on the Occupy Wall Street bandwagon?

The saying "The coolest thing since sliced bread" should be officially retired and replaced by "The coolest thing since the iPhone app which allows you to deposit checks from home."

How can you tell when moldy cheeses go bad?  Isn't bleu cheese by definition "bad"?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Realistically Speaking

This weekend David and I finished painting the garage.  It turns out I'm a really, really, patient person, as evidenced by the fact that I finished the job in spite of David's self-described "neurotic" behavior about wanting me to avoid drips on the floor and stray brush strokes on the weather stripping.  David can also count himself as patient, seeing as he didn't try to hit me with a frying pan even after I said, "David, it's just a garage," every 2.5 seconds for the duration. 

In case you are wondering, we figure it is best for our marriage if we never try to assemble furniture together.

But, neuroses aside, this weekend I realized something:  While it might not be helpful in dealing with a super detail-oriented husband, being laid back can be an asset when it comes to motherhood.  Particularly when one is a mother to twins.  If I obsessed over every little sniffle I'd be wrapped up in a straight jacket by now.  As it is, I figure our parents survived eating lead paint chips and riding in the car without a seat belt, so what's the harm in letting my kids drink Crystal Light instead of all-natural, organic, gluten-free, vegan apple cider?  Heck, we all have to die of something.  And by next Tuesday I'm pretty sure the general hyperventilating about aspartame that is going on in parenting circles will have subsided, so I can give my kids fake sugar in good conscience.  After all, three minutes ago real sugar was the big bad wolf.  I'm just getting a jump on things for when science meets sanity again.

How did I come to this realization, you ask?  All it took was a gathering of some old friends that included a handful of recently minted first-time moms who have their pediatricians on speed dial to convince me I have a sincere talent for taking things in stride.  Baby is coughing?  Let's wait and see how he's doing in the morning.  Baby rolled off the bed?  Check that one off the list of "Things That Happen to Everyone".  After months of endless night-waking, baby is finally not making a peep?  Do not disturb that baby!  I mean it!  Back away from the door, don't make unnecessary noise, and for heaven's sake, do not poke him to see if he's still breathing.  He's fine

And this is how I found myself cutting the fingernails of a cute little five-month-old tot, because his mother was nervous about hurting him.  "Gimme," I said, plopped the baby on my lap, clipped his claws in 60 seconds, and handed him back, safe and whole.  Not a scratch on him.  For now, anyway.  Because, honestly, at some point he's going to fall off the bed.

It happens to everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do Not Disturb

I don't want to say this too loudly, but all three of my children are downstairs playing.  Together.  Peacefully.  Without me.  My mom brain says I should check on them to make sure they aren't destroying anything.  My pre-mom brain says "Are you out of your mind?  Enjoy it!  Who cares if you have to recarpet the basement afterward?"

You can remind me I said this when I actually do have to recarpet the basement.  I might hit you, but that will be your fault -- blame the messenger, you know.

Fall seems to have returned to our city after winter made a big show of superiority by dumping snow on us a week ago.  Yesterday I made a picnic lunch for Michael to enjoy on the front porch while we huddled up in a blanket together and watched the construction workers next door play Who-Can-Fit-The-Most-F-Words-Into-One-Sentence while they poured the driveway.  Luckily the noise of the machinery was loud enough to drown out most of Michael's R-rated education, and after awhile, I heard one of the shovel-wielding guys tell his tattooed charges to watch their mouths.  I was tempted to ask if he could do anything about the abundance of plumber's cracks as well, but figured it is never wise to irritate a man who looks like he is two strikes short of a life sentence.

Today's activity: paint pumpkins.  And make ghosts to hang on the front porch if I can find the old white sheets we inherited from David's grandmother, which is a pretty big "if" considering the state of my storage room at the moment.  A place for everything and a thing in every place, as my sister likes to say.

Have I mentioned that I hate moving?

Plus, David and I are in the middle of painting the garage, which I have never done before and plan to never do again.  Normally I like painting, but I think that has always been because I've only had an occasional need for a ladder and I could finish a whole room in a few hours.  We are two days into the project and still have two more to go.  Long days involving strained necks and doing battle with persistent moths who are determined to be part of our bug mausoleum.  ("And on the left, entombed in primer, you'll see the popular Idia Aemula, who refused to part ways with the light bulb even as her death loomed ever closer.").

And, in honor of the fact that it is October, which means the stores are already celebrating Christmas, I signed up for the "random selection process" to get tickets to the annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert.  So I'm in a sing-songy sort of mood at the moment, especially because Leah has been wandering around the house lately singing "Bum bum bum, bah bah bum, bah bah bum."  Sounds harmless, right?  Well, set it to the tune of Darth Vader's Imperial March (no lie) and it's a lot funnier.  And creepier, considering she has never heard it before.  I have no idea where she came up with it.  Still, it's somehow a lot less scary than the fact that Matthew was clapping and squealing with glee over the latest Selena Gomez video.  He loves her like a love song, baby.  I think we're warping our children.

Well, not "we."  I blame David.  He's the one who turned on the Selena Gomez video.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


A lot has happened over the last few weeks.  We moved, I turned 30, we had two straight weeks of visitors, Matthew's latest virus landed him his very own nebulizer and enough albuterol to last us till the end of time, I lost my faith in humanity, and I got a mosquito bite directly under my eyelid, which made me look like the mosquito smacked me in the face with her vengeful fist instead of just engaging in a little evening blood sucking.

All things considered, the mosquito incident seemed an appropriate metaphor for my life these past weeks, what with the vengeful fist and blood sucking and all.  I would have mentioned it before, but the whole losing faith in humanity thing caused me to lose my will to write for awhile.  Let's just say that it wasn't a pleasant experience.  Particularly the part where David and I got called all sorts of names we've never been called before because we are decent, honest people who don't deserve such things .  I mean, really.  We leave notes on cars we backed into and pay off houses we're underwater on.  We don't even cross the solid white line of the HOV lane, right David?

(This is where you all leave comments saying what great people we are).

So, trying to forget our faith-in-humanity problem, last night we caught up on our backlogged DVR.  We laughed at some lame sitcom jokes.  Then David laughed a little too knowingly at a post-baby-body joke.  Afterwards he made eyes at me in a way that made me think he was going to tell me I was beautiful and that he loves me just the way I am. 

He said, "Let's go to bed and read."

But, considering I had the latest release from award-winning author, Stephanie Black, in my hands, it wasn't too bad of a deal.  Besides, it was funny when I screamed as a mosquito buzzed  right in my ear canal and scared the bejeebers out of David, who was several chapters ahead of me in the same book.  Good one, Steph.  Got him right as the floor was creaking ominously above the heroine.

Plus, I woke up this morning to an email that means we can officially put the past few weeks of drama behind us.  Things are looking up.  I probably shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch, though, seeing as I did spend a healthy part of last evening standing on a crack underneath a ladder, sucking up construction dust with a shop vac.

No black cats or broken mirrors, though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's a Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World

My sister recently sent me a link to an advice column she described thus:  "I think this exact column is in the Book of Revelations under 'end of the world'."

How can I resist?  If that doesn't have my name all over it, I don't know what does.

For those who do not want to read the insanity for themselves, allow me to summarize:  Deployed military man has a girlfriend who wants to get her slut on with some/any random guy to quell the sexual frustration she has felt due to Military Man's absence, and suggests he have a "last" fling as well.  Military Man writes "Advice Goddess" Amy Alkon to find out how to get his lady friend to reign in her libido for another 60 days until he returns home.  If it is simply not possible for her to keep her pants up for that long, he asks Ms. Alkon, "How do I get okay with this?"

Well, it is a pickle, isn't it?  What on earth does one do with a girlfriend who wants to bang the first person she meets who has functional anatomy?  Well, honey, I say, if she wants a fling, give her one -- to the curb, with bags packed.  This relationship will never last.  What happens if you get deployed again, or have a medical issue that doesn't allow for a frequent roll in the hay?  What if she gets bored with you or decides the Fling Man was a better investment?  This is not the sort of woman who will stand by you when times are tough.  She can't even stand by you when you are 60 days out.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  After all, I am not the advice columnist here.  So what does Ms. Alkon have to say about the situation?

"It might help to recognize that sex isn't special - or isn't necessarily special.  Insects have sex, and not just because one particular bug means more to them than any other, but because the urge to get it on is just one of the many physical urges of living critters, like the urge to eat lunch... Assuming there's no pregnancy, disease, or continued attachment, yesterday's sex act is no more relevant than yesterday's lunch."

Pardon me, but what the WHAT???

Sex is no more significant than yesterday's PBJ?!  Ms. Alkon, if you truly believe this, you are doing it wrong.  Intimate connection of body parts cannot possibly be as meaningless as a roast beef on rye - to suggest such a thing is ludicrous.  And if, as you say, we should take our behavioral cues from the animal world, why not bite off the head of your mate as soon as the sex act is complete?  After all, that's what some insects do.  It's just a biological urge.  It doesn't actually mean anything.  Just make sure you print out the wiki section of "mating habits of the praying mantis" when you are booked into jail for first-degree murder.

I have no idea where this sex-is-meaningless idea originated (oh wait, yes I do... that would Satan.  You know, the Father of Lies?) but it doesn't matter how many times it is written or spoken, or whether it is believed by 99% of the world's population.  Sex is not meaningless.  Deep down, we know this, which is why we are confused when the entire college campus says there is something wrong with us if we don't want to engage in bathroom stall hook-ups with random strangers, or when advice columnists say that people like Military Man are so dreadfully old-fashioned for believing a significant other should not engage in "insignificant" sex acts with the nearest batch of horny toads.  Degrading (yes, degrading) sex into something purely biological is pathetic and sad and will lead to unhappiness the likes of which you have never known.

Sex is a gift from God and has the potential to be incredibly bonding and special, even spiritual.  But, as with all gifts, if we don't understand what it is for or how to use it properly (i.e., within the bounds the Lord has set) we will end up hurting ourselves and others in the process.

So, my advice to Military Man?  Fling your girlfriend out of your life.

And send Amy Alkon with her.