Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Make the black circles go away.

Mommy make the very bad baby sleep. Make him stop sucking the very essence from my body. He wants to nurse all.night.long. He howls at the very sight of crib bars and refuses to sleep on his mattress for any extended period. Why? I did what the nice lady in the book told me to do. I tried everything the compassionately crazy ladies at La Leche Leauge told me to do. But I’m still having trouble discerning between an “I’m hungry” cry and “I just want to use your body as a pacifier for 12 consecutive hours” cry. It’s no small wonder why babies are so delightfully captivating. If not for their oversized heads, pudgy toes, lumpy thighs, toothless beams, and warm smelly necks, I think humans would eat their young out of pure frustration. Don’t think I haven’t entertained the thought. Somebody remind me that having a 22 lb baby permanently affixed to my hip or breast will result in a well attached human. Anybody?

Friday, February 24, 2006

As I turn

and examine the dull wooden floors of my dining room I’m reminded of children. Children who insist on playing with modeling clay and play dough on shiny glass surfaces. Children who dribble morning cheerios and milk into the grout between my kitchen floor tiles. Children who creep sticky, red, m&m-tinted fingers along white hallways and onto light switches. Children who shove matchbox cars and polly pockets into baseboard heating units and weld keyholes shut with thoroughly chewed gumballs. Small dirty handprints on bedroom doors, stick-figures drawn on steamy bathroom windows, and a clump of something green and dried on the bottom stair. ::shudder:: I’m not even going to ask.

Bah. I love the little monkeys. What’s a home if not for the telltale signs of the inhabitants?

My point being that the husband got the green light to work from home. Yippee! for me on several accounts. Firstly, I’ll have the love of my life home with me. This presents several new opportunities for unwinding and relaxing together. No longer will our mornings be harried marathons of perfect timing. Late nights at the “office” can actually be accompanied by a warm supper, and lunch breaks will actually serve as a break for me too. I can run my errands and leave the papoose with Papa if I so desire. I'll have an adult to talk to during the day; this may cause my head to explode.

So why was I grouching about a messy house?

We’re moving. Which translates into I have to polish this monstrous house into sellable condition…strip the floors…steam the carpets…paint the walls…I’m freaking out because people will tramp through my house every weekend prying into the most personal of spaces…I have to sort through and free-cycle 50% of the boxes stored in the cellar…scrub…scrub…scrub…coincide closing dates…negotiate…negotiate…renegotiate…pack up…tearfully say good-bye to my loving parents…

And yes, that is actually what the inside of my heads sounds like. It’s a constant stream of consciousness in there. Microsoft Word can bite me.

I organized my shoes today. It’s a start.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The music hasn't changed.

The scuffed brown roller skates, the blue carpeted handrails encircling the rink, the glinting disco ball hanging in the center, and the swiveling red stools at the candy bar. It’s all still there. Walking into the roller rink, my senses were flooded with memories of times and places I had filed away under C for “clumsy” or O for “oh my god I can’t believe I was such a dork”. Why didn’t anybody tell me that it’s not cool to dance and skate in unison? You can swing your hips, clap your hands, or shimmy your shoulders all you want but when that left skate heads off track, you’re in no position to properly catch yourself. You’ll fall flat on your ass and that cute boy with the inline skates? Forget turning his head your way, he’s going to rocket past your sorry fallen ass and chase the nice girl who is just skating. Not dancing and skating. It’s just so hard to keep those incredible moves to myself, you know? I mean, seriously, who can’t help but wiggle when girl you know it’s true….g..g..g..girl……ooh…ooh…ooh…I love you blares over the speakers?

So I’m on the bench today, holding the baby and watching my two kids fumble along. They’re laughing, they’re chasing, they’re catching and returning glances. Suddenly, wake me up before you go-go, don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo starts ringing in my ears and I swing around, fully expecting to see my friend Amanda wearing her headgear or my friend Caroline with her freshly trimmed mullet. What year is this?? They still play these songs? I look over at the sound booth. There he sits; Mr. Doody. The same gray feathered hair, the same deep voice and kind eyes, using the same smudged limbo stick, playing the same dance songs, and charging the same 50¢ for a fudge bar just like he’s done for twenty five years.

I close my eyes and if it were not for the squirming baby on my hip, I could very easily be 13 years old. I could very well have just fallen flat on my ass after yet another attempt at capturing that skinny boy’s eye. If I breathe deeply enough I can almost smell Exclamation! on my arm. If I squint my eyes, that girl on the far side of the rink looks just like Julie. She’s waving to me. If I just glance quickly, all the GAP sweatshirts look like LAGear sweatshirts.

Time marches on and things change. But in this small hometown, time and transformation have forgotten this old roller rink. I wistfully smile as I watch my daughter fall flat on her ass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My dark window

Goody hairbrush microphone? Check
Black stirrup pants paired with multicolored slouch socks? Check
Appallingly crimped hair marinated in Rave? Done
Hand-me-down Jefferson Starship t-shirt? Rockin’
Coolest 12 year old you ever saw? You bet your sweet ass

And synthesized keyboards…..A-ha!

Talking away

I don't know what I'm to say
I'll say it anyway
today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for you love O.K.

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
in a day or two

So needless to say I'm odds and ends
But that's me, stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is O.K.
Say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry.

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
in a day or two.

The things that you say
Is it live or just to play
My worries away
You're all the things I've got to remember
You shying away
I'll be coming for you anyway

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
in a day or two

Everybody needs a theme song. A song to rock out to, a song that carries you back to the days forgotten if not for the overstuffed photo albums and out-of-date formal dresses hidden in your mother’s closet.

There am I in all my buck-toothed glory, singing my heart out and brashly marveling at my reflection that is cast in the darkened picture window. It was my chance to shimmer, my moment to be adored. Sometimes I was Sheena Easton’s back-up singer, sometimes I was Joey MacIntyre’s favorite groupie. And on occasion, I was Tiffany. With my bedroom door barricaded by a wooden trunk, I would flagrantly bust my moves and blow kisses into the crowd. I was the IT girl, the tall, thin, red-haired diva in Guess jeans.

Then my sister would break down the door of my imagination and intrude upon the private show. It was her bedroom too, but for those stolen private moments, my finesse and glorification were everlasting. I was the champion for all the awkward young girls who wanted to be marvelous and mesmerizing….like me. I could hear the low rush of the crowd and the chanting of my name……..or maybe it was just my mother, yelling for me to let my sister in.

The show would end and I would return to my tame, middling life. I would reluctantly return to the harrowing and cruel world of junior high. A world where I was nobody in particular; just a girl plagued by teasing and mockery. A girl who silently wept in a lonely bathroom stall. A girl whose childhood friendships had given way to the struggles of puberty and the craving for acceptance. A girl who wasn’t quite ready to reap the rewards of mascara and well-coifed hair. A girl who still played Super Spy Sleuth Adventure Quest with her best friend in the world; a nine year old neighborhood boy. A girl who had never been kissed, didn’t yet wear a bra, and lied about getting her period to alleviate some of the teasing.

The dark window was my escape. It lifted me up just enough to thwart my heart from completely breaking into a thousand little pieces. It provided just enough confidence to prop my head up so I could face that junior high hallway.

Even with all the phases I’ve surpassed and poise I’ve secured, I still feel very small when I dredge up the memories of junior high.

Everybody needs a theme song. A song to take them up up and away.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Chick peas and tahini.

So I’m rummaging through the fridge for an after-school snack and I happen upon my brother-in-law’s leftover hummus.

Me: You want to try Uncle Gary’s hummus?

Girl: No. WAY. I don’t trust anything Uncle Gary eats.

I don’t blame her really. The pickled egg incident leaving her so recently traumatized and all.

Boy: What is it?

The boy is usually a more adventurous eater although he won’t touch spinach, ham, or shrimp for all the candy in the cupboard. The girl will, on occasion, buck up and try something new if a bribe of chocolate has been made.

Me: It’s a tasty dip.

Boy: Like ranch?

Me: Just like ranch.

Girl: Don’t do it.

The boy agrees to try it and steadies himself for a spoonful of the mealy auburn paste.

Boy: BLECCCHHHhhhhhhh! (hovering over the garbage can horking and spitting)

Girl: I told you.

Boy: It tastes like grass. (feverishly scraping his tongue)

Oh well. I suppose that’s just one more suppressed memory for him to bring up in therapy twenty years from now.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Siren? Huh.

Maybe I'm particularly sexy when I accidentally on-purpose squirt milk in the husband's eye? I haven't felt sirenesque (cha-ching, I'm coining that one) since, oh, nevermind. Just ask Amanda.

What is your sex appeal?

Momma Star for the quiz!

What is this life?

The morning routine begins with lazy stretches and a protest, bowls of cereal, toothpaste smudges on the sink, hurried pursuits for wooly mittens, and a mislaid boot. I plant a stolen kiss upon the head of a child who rarely lingers in my arms anymore. She no longer reaches for the security of my hand in crowded places. She insists on choosing her own clothing, despite my opposition to an ensemble of printed pants and striped shirts. I manage to breathe in her small girl smell for one brief moment before she dashes to the car.

I close my eyes and for an instant she's three years old and I'm rocking her. She's humming along to "Sweet Baby James" and I'm stroking the wispy baby curls that are noticeably giving way to long, thick hair. Her tiny voice asks for help to the potty. Her knuckles are still dimpled. Walking is still a clumsy task. Mama is her world.

I open my eyes and watch her seven year old legs confidently run to the car. Will she turn and wave to me? Not today. She has limitless ideas swirling in her head today. She is hoping to meet her friends soon. She is bursting with excitement to share secrets and stories with the other girls her age. She wonders if she and Amy are still best friends today. Chocolate or white milk today? Will her most beloved Tyler shine a toothless smile her way today? Will she get a good swing at recess today?

Her small self is shifting. As she grew I marveled in each new triumph and cheered her on to the next stage. She spoke and I threw my head back with laughter. She walked and I celebrated. She jumped, climbed, and ran and I rejoiced. Now I wish to pause time and hinder her growth for just a moment more. Please stay little my love. Please don't leave behind the roundish face and soft body. Remain just as you are.

I often forget what this life is. When the mirror betrays me I must not let her see my tears and disgust. When my own demon lingers I must keep her from knowing the ruthless beast. I am selfish to cling to her so completely. Her job is not to soothe me. Although to me, she is a warm blanket that wraps around my body on a bitterly cold night. I must remind myself that it is her turn to write the next chapter in this life story. My job is to help create and mold such a precious thing.

She spreads her gossamer wings because I've sewn them on so firmly. Oh! How they sparkle! How quick and able she has become. She is brave and confident. She may fall and so I will scoop her up and restitch the torn wing. My job as her mother is never finished, only evolving. I hold fast until she is ready to take flight again.

And then I will wait for her to turn and wave.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

And the winner is

the husband. Big time. I’m talking let me rub your back…here’s your favorite dinner…no you have the remote…big time. This lovey dovey smoochey day, made significant by our patron Saint Valentine, is really just another day. Although it tickles me pink to get extra loves from the children and a token of affection from the husband, I don’t think this one day defines how true the loves of my life are.

It is, however, cause for tears of joy and amazement when the husband does something so thoughtful that all laws of manhood are defied. The Gods of All Toilet Seats Left Up gently whispered into his ear and bestowed upon him the understanding of a woman’s heart.

This picture?

Was taken the moment following the words "you may kiss your bride". My heart was palpitating, my hands were trembling and the piercing gaze of his delicious brown eyes left me feeling as vulnerable and naked as a newborn baby. I promised him my life. I promised him my love. And then he kissed me.

The husband presented me with a glossy, retouched, and beautifully framed 11x14 of this picture today.

We held our baby between us and reminisced of four-poster beds, champagne with breakfast, hobbits, and helicopter rides above glaciers. In a shared deliberate pause we dreamt of our honeymoon. And we remembered. We remembered why we chose one another.

Thank You Saint Valentine.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dear Aunt M,

I'd like to tell you what I remember and love about Marlee. I don't know where to start or finish, all I have are funny warm memories of a little girl I love. Marlee is that small smiling child who will always be, in my mind, seven years old. She was seven when my own daughter was born and it was during that time when I reconnected with my own family and yours. Although I visited and played with her several times when she was a baby, I fell in love dearly and bonded with seven year old Marlee.

You came to visit us at Dad's during the summer of '99. I was so thrilled when you offered to take care of my girl so I could go run some errands. But I really wanted to bring Marlee along with me and spoil her a little bit. Because I'm so much older than my little girl cousins, I've always felt more like an Aunt to them. I remember Marlee doing a little leap of joy when her Mama said she could come into town with me. I buckled her into my teal ford escort and off we drove. We hit the mall, payless shoe store in particular. She pranced up and down the aisle, eagerly trying on all kinds of shoes, but she eventually settled on a pair of sparkly flowery sandals that had just a hint of a high heel. I remember her little seven year old feet, she had long toes. We paid for them and immediately she put her old shoes in the box so she could wear her fancy new ones throughout the mall. She kept looking down at her feet as she walked; I think she felt happy. We spent the rest of our time shoving quarters into those cheap toy machines so we could fill our pockets with as much junk as possible. She got one of those messy stinky globs of goo that she was particularly pleased about. One thing about Marlee that surprised me was when I ran out of quarters, she wasn't disappointed. She had such a gracious and grateful way about her. Then of course, we went to the dairy bar and pigged out on ice cream. That was such a fun day, I will always treasure that memory. Although I think I recall Aunt Marlene raising an eyebrow at the high heel on the sandals, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

You know, I just don't remember Marlee ever being in a foul mood. She was one of those kids who made the best of her situation. When the answer was "no", she rarely pouted or became angry. I remember her wanting to buy a scoop-necked shirt while shopping with the the family last Thanksgiving. It was quite a flashy shirt, even a tad risqué. Although she wasn't allowed to buy the shirt, she simply exhaled a slight, almost inaudible sigh and put it back on the clothing rack. I felt startled that this little 13 year old was so okay with herself that not getting the shirt didn't really matter. Even as an adult, I could follow her lead to become a better person.

I usually smile when I think about Marlee playing with one of my girl's Barbie dolls. It was a ballerina doll with pointed toes and a pink tutu. My girl had received it from her father one Christmas, maybe the Christmas of '01? We had stopped by your place to rest for the night during one of our trips home from down south and my girl had all her new toys with her. Marlee spread all those fancy girly toys on the living room floor and began playing. She was especially fond of the ballerina Barbie. So fond, in fact, that she kept twirling it around and around while singing a little song and fluffing the tutu. Well, Marlee gave Barbie one twirl too many because a foot came flying off. Marlee sucked in air and looked quite embarrassed. You and I reassured her that it was just an accident and really no big deal. In fact, my girl never noticed her Barbie's disability for quite some time. Recently I told my girl exactly how Ballerina Barbie lost her foot and she decided to keep the doll in a special place so she could always think of Marlee when she played with it. I see that one-footed pink doll and I'm always reminded of a happy singing Marlee.

Whenever I'd stay at your house, Marlee would so graciously lend me her bedroom. She'd sleep on a little cot right outside the door while I slept on her comfy bed with little girl sheets that smelled of watermelon shampoo. I remember her telling me that I could use her turtle lamp if I was afraid of the dark (just in case). I also remember her little face peeking through the door crack in the morning (you know, just to check if I was up yet). No sooner would the words "good morning Marlee" escape my lips and she'd come bounding in, chatting me up with all the things she'd been patiently waiting to tell me.

It was as if a wave of wide-awake happiness followed her and washed over me whenever she'd come into my personal space. I love her and I miss her.

I remember chatting with you on a bench while my girl and Marlee played together in the pond. We had come to visit and I think Marlee wasn't quite ten. There she was, splashing in the water and burying herself in mud as though she were three years old alongside my daughter. She wasn't afraid to be joyful, even if it meant getting a little muddy. Well, a lot muddy. She wanted to be completely buried in the mud. I'd bet more people would be less strung-out if they took some time out to play in the mud. Marlee knew how to have fun.

Who can forget Marlee at Dad's wedding? She was the giddy little girl with flowers in her hair. I see her shining face, cheek to cheek with Amber, and I see a little fairy. She was almost pixie-like with her short little hairs that were growing back in from the onset of her diabetes. She darted about wearing Amber's shawl and following her around as if they were the best of friends.

The last time I visited with Marlee was Thanksgiving of '04. What I recall the most was how she had grown so much. Somewhere between footy pajamas and bell-bottom jeans, Marlee had started to grow into a stunning young woman. I was honestly taken aback with her beauty. There she was in a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. She had long, simply brushed hair and no makeup. Yet, she glowed. I may have gushed over her a bit too much because I was so surprised. But my little Marlee wasn't too grown up, as I remember her sitting on her father's lap in the living room. "Was she the girl rocking with your Uncle T?" my husband asked me this week. "Yes, she loved to be rocked", I told him. Marlee loved her family and was loved dearly in return.

Marlee, no matter what age, will always remain my seven year old adorable cousin. That is how I want her to linger in my memory, with joyful, smiling, chubby cheeks. I have begun gathering all the pictures I have of Marlee. I'd like to make a collage to hang somewhere special in my house, a place where she'll be seen, remembered, and talked about often. I want my own children to remember Marlee and always know how extraordinarily bright her light shone.

Love, R

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The best cooker in the world.

Boy: Mama, I love it when you make garlic bread.

Mama: I'm glad you like it honey, but I didn't make it. I bought it at the grocery store.

Boy: Yeah, but I just love the way you fry it up.

It's the small things.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And with a touch of Lemon

I've been tagged.

Four jobs I've had:
Assistant manager in a clothing store - *yawn*

Home health aid - heartbreaking but gratifying
Pharmacy technician - 1...2...3...4...5...I'm a really good pill counter
Daycare provider - go play kids, mama needs her silly soda

Four movies I could watch over and over:
It's A Wonderful Life

Miracle on 34th Street
The Breakfast Club
Good Morning Vietnam!

Four places I've lived:
My wicked yellow bedroom shared by my wicked cool little sister
A wicked dumpy apartment
With wicked drunk roomates
A wicked nice house

Four TV shows I love:
That 70's Show - sausage and tang!
Myth Busters - geeks are hot
National Geographic's Taboo
American Idol - Bo was robbed

Four places I've vacationed:
North & South Islands of New Zealand
Disney World

My four favorite dishes:
A seven layer burrito with extra guac - te quiero Taco Bell
Smokey Mountain Chicken
Mémère's homeade chicken stew with ployes, créton and mustard
My homeade stuffed mushrooms

Four websites I visit daily:
my blog

Four places I'd rather be:
Barnes & Noble

sipping shiraz with my husband at http://www.staffordvilla.co.nz/
apple picking with my kids at my Dad's orchard
lazing in bed with my husband, drinking coffee, watching LOTR


You're it!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm slowly losing

my mind, my short-term memory, my ability to drink more than two alcoholic beverages at a time, my desire to wear low-rise jeans, and my ongoing battle with gravity.

I don’t mind. Really.

I think the decade that is your 20’s is a prep course, a dress rehearsal for your big debut as an adult. A primer for all that is to happen to your body, your perception of the world, your appreciation for youth, and your sense of worth.

My 30th birthday is but two months away. My new baby will turn one as I will turn 30. As he greets six a.m. with gusto and anticipation, I plea for a few minutes more rest. As he strives to stand unassisted on his two small chubby feet, I welcome the eight p.m. hour when I can relax with my feet up. He marvels as the bright sun casts shadows and shapes on the carpet; I’m more inclined to pull the blinds to shield my eyes. He laughs at Cookie Monster’s googly eyes; I forgot that was once funny.

Thirty years of experiences hugely changes a person from the small helpless creature they started as. Whether or not the changes are for the better are up to that person.

I have twice the confidence I had ten years ago.
I have far more self-control now than I ever had before.
When I look in the mirror, I no longer profusely loathe the reflection.
My sense of responsibility prevails over my impulsive nature.
My history of attention seeking behavior makes me uncomfortable.
I’ve come to realize it really isn’t all about me. (d’oh!)

Although I politely refuse to become a flat predictable 30-something, I know these last ten years of practice have refined me. A more graceful, poised, and undeniable me is emerging.

So 30? Give me all you’ve got. The best has yet to come.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Think of the children!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. As I was watching Sesame Street this morning I noticed something very disturbing. Ernie was wearing a baby in a snuggli. Yes, you read correctly. A snuggli. Well of course that only means one thing. Bert & Ernie are indeed a gay couple with a newly adopted Romanian baby.

First there was the purple Teletubbie who carried a purse, then we watched in horror as Joe endorsed the celebrations of Hannukah, Qwanzaa, and...Winter Solstice. What's next? Captain Feathersword in a kilt?

The librul agenda of those so-called children's television groups is just disgusting. With all the covert influences on tv, who has time to worry about things like the vastly underestimated cost of that war? ($239,045,095,238 and change, but who's counting?) How can I really mourn the loss of control over my own uterus thanks to judge Samuel Alito's confirmation while my kids are watching two gay puppets sing and dance together? Like I have time to delve into Bush's corporate oil interests with Saudi Arabia when my darling children are being exposed to four men dancing in rainbow colored shirts.

Bert's refusal to wax his unibrow lends further credence to the fact that he's hiding his sexual orientation. It's sick.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Superblah Sunday!

After a bit of googling I established that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks are the official contenders today. I wonder if the tossing of the ball, throwing of the little yellow handkerchief, slapping of the quarterback's shiny tightend, tactical uses of time-outs, or the actual touching down of the ball have any relevance on why I attend SuperBowl parties? Lemme think. No. I don't like football. I don't get football. Jeez, why haven't we caught up with the rest of the world in the real futbol frenzy? Or rugby even?

Go All Blacks!

American Football is tedious and predictable. I'm only in it for the cheesy bean dip and Sam Adams.

Go Team.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

And then there were two.

Months since she died. God I miss her.

Her mother only cries every 20 minutes these days. Her father only drinks in the evenings now. Her brother doesn't talk to anybody. For 14 brief years, Marlee Danielle was alive and singing. She wore two different colored sneakers to school. She had green hair. She befriended the unpopular kid who sat alone in the cafeteria and only passed judgment onto herself. She laughed out loud and read thick books. She fed her brain as much as it could eat.

If I had one wish. I repeat those words in the shower, at the sink, over the boy's homework, while I brush the girl's hair, when I'm changing the baby's bum. I think of all the things I'd like to have or change in my life. But I'd forfeit all the selfish delights of just one wish. I'd wish for time to rewind to November 25th. I'd wish for her parents to have one chance to save her.

I'm so angry. I refuse to honor his calculated insanity by saying his name. I won't allow him the infamy he desires. I pitied him. Now I hate him.