Thursday, June 28, 2007

"A" for effort

Last night I experienced another glimpse into the approaching season of adolescence in our home. Samantha learned that during a week long vacation in the mountains that we have coming up, she would be missing out on a pool party. She came home, thrust the invitation in front of me for emphasis, and I responded, “Oh yeah, that should be fun!” She huffed and said, “Dad said we’re not going to BE here!” I ran the dates quickly through my head and finally recalled the conflict. “Ooooh….” And then I went on to explain that we would be having MORE fun because the place we are going to not only has a pool, where we can swim EVERY DAY, but it has a lake, and boats, and tennis, and bike trails and…. “I don’t care!” With all our attempts to convince her that she was getting the better end of the deal, she finally gave up and said, “You guys just don’t get it.”

Drew had just come out of the bath and heard Samantha crying on her bed. He said, “Mom, can you hurry up and dry my hair because I want to go cheer Samantha up.”
“Oh? And how are you going to do that?”
“I’m going to do the hula and sing ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’,” as he demonstrated.
“Well, that’s nice of you to want to cheer her up, but don’t let it hurt your feelings if it doesn’t work.”
“Okay.”
A few minutes later he came back downstairs.
“Well, how did it go?”
“Not so good. She told me to go away.”
He seemed unphased. Later we coaxed her into a game of Uno Attack and all seems to be well for now.

For Now.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Appointment

It's not very often that one actually looks forward to a doctor's appointment, but today was different. Today was Drew's final post-op appointment. The one where the doctor looks in his ear, examines the healing process of the incision, and concludes with en emphatic mandate to the effect of, "You're now free to swim, jump, bounce, swing your lightsabers with kick-butt-jedi-force, and move mountains if you wish! You're healed! And here's your Spider Man stickers for the trouble."

Ever since Drew left the hospital he has inquired about this day. "What day is my appointment? How many more days until my appointment? When I'm done with that appointment am I good to go (his actual words)? After my appointment can we go to Water World? To the pool? Can I play swords with my friends? Can I run in the sprinklers? Can I FINALLY take karate?" We've had a lot riding on this appointment. He has sat out for twelve weeks of recess this year because of his two surgeries. He has attended two birthday parties in the last couple of weeks where he obediently declined participation in certain activities because he is aware of what is at stake if he pushes too far. He has worried more than a 7-year-old should have to.

So yes, we were excited about today. Ever since receiving the good news from his last surgery that no cholesteatoma had grown back, this was potentially our last "real" visit. The doctor came in, Drew smiled a knowing smile at this doctor he now shares a rapport with, and after smiling back and joking with him a little he got out his tools and set about the routine of inspection before granting my son his well deserved freedom. "Let's get a closer look under the microscope," he suggested. I tensed, but rationally reserved any concerns. He was quiet while utilizing the microscope and then he sat back, raised his eyes to mine and announced, somewhat defeatedly, "There's a hole in his eardrum." I stared at him with a look that begged for elaboration and then he continued, "And it's going to require another surgery to fix it." I didn't hear anything after that. I tried to ask the right questions, but all I could think of was the little boy behind me who had buried his head into the low of my back, trying to hold in his cries but giving it away with the jolt of his torso at each attempt.

It's been a few hours now, and he seems to have adjusted to the idea. I wish I could say the same for me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Lovin'...or not

How do you know that it’s summer at your house? That’s the question that my friend and fellow blogger Paige was asking in her post today. Her list was jovial and non-judgmental; something about lots of macaroni and cheese and playdates after 8pm. She spun a rather positive twist, because that’s the kind of person that Paige is. She’s one of those fun moms who plans parties and smiles all the time; not in a Stepford kind of way, just in a “hey, it’s Wednesday and I think we should plan a block party!” kind of way. I admire that in people, because that kind of perspective tends to be a little foreign to me.

Optimism. Seems like a good idea if it weren’t so much work.

The one thing I do have going for me is that I don’t tend to take a break from things like Math over the summer. For example, I’ve done some minor calculations and figured out that over the next three months there are approximately 396.5 hours that I would have otherwise had to myself that I am now sharing with two little people who I swear, if I took them to the circus, the beach, the zoo, and flew them back and forth to Disneyland all in the same day would arrive home and ask, “Now can we play with friends?” And since my alone time doesn’t show up until around 10:00 pm, I end up winding down with whatever movies are on TBS until around 1:00am and proceed to sleep in until nine. (That little whippersnapper on Home Alone 3 is a real character by the way.) Despite my mathematical prowess, I’ve simply lost count of the hours I’ve spent playing Solitaire which has proven to be a rather effective coping mechanism when trying to avoid things like bathing and feeding the children.

Not to worry. I've got a fun game planned for tomorrow called "Help Peel Mom Off The Ceiling." And if that doesn't help, maybe next Wednesday I’ll plan a block party.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

16 fewer orphans in the world today

The wait is finally over, and now the real work (and joy) begins as my friends finally received their baby from China! You may recall my account of being there during “Match Day” when Ginger and Tim learned who their baby would be through pictures. Finally they are able to put their arms around her and pinch her chubby little cheeks and begin the journey of bringing her home. The same is true for the fifteen other families who traveled there to do the same thing. I guess it just goes to show that there’s more than one amazing way to join a family!
Bailee says good-bye to her nanny and hello to her mom. As you can see, she has mixed feelings!

Bailee's first ever bath - holy crap girl, you're cute!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Relief

Last night I was the emcee for a party we had with our church. Hundreds of people were there, but they were incredibly bored with our entertainment and so I felt that it was my responsibility to liven things up. So I sang "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. It did not help, as I am not a singer and that is a terrible song for the kind of party we were trying to have. (Incidentally it is also a poor choice for someone to perform at a wedding reception. I think my friend Ganelle might know something about that.) So then everybody started to "Boo" me off the stage! However, I was undeterred in my quest to get this party going and I was sure that my breakdancing moves would do the trick. Except that I don't breakdance, and so that didn't go very well either. I hung my head in defeat, and feeling ridiculous and embarrassed I started to walk away. Then a wonderful thing happened!

I woke up.

Wow. What a relief. Where's Freud when you need him?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Reminding you to have your pet spayed or neutered

I LOVE game shows. I don’t watch them religiously, but it’s like crack when I can get it. My cable does not include the Game Show Network, but every time I board a flight it is the first channel I seek out. Channel 14 on Frontier. Anyway, from “Big bucks, no whammies, STOP!” to “Come on down!” and “Is that your final answer?” I can’t remember a time when people like Pat Sajack and Bob Barker haven’t been a part of my life. When I was about 16 it was my daily ritual to watch “Wheel of Fortune” after school at 3:00 (before the days of prime time). I still remember one day in particular when I came home from school - my brothers had begun a love affair with a cartoon called “Robotech” which conflicted with the WOF time slot. We argued about who would get to watch their show, and I was incredibly bitter about having to consider any compromises. Finally, we determined that a tie-breaker vote was necessary and so we turned to my friend Maria who had come home with me. Without hesitation she voted loud and clear, “Robotech!!” I was stunned and betrayed. I tried to make some feeble argument about having to at least live in the house to have a justifiable vote in the process, but even that didn’t fly as Maria practically DID live at my house during that time. Dang.

And one thing I have never been able to figure out about certain game shows is why some shows’ contestants don’t seem to feel at liberty to whoop and holler when they win thousands of dollars. Like “Jeopardy”. Have you ever noticed how their contestants respond when they win a huge chunk of change? You might get a waist high fist pump, but no arms are ever raised, no one yells, and I've never witnessed any jumping. At the most you might hear an audible exhale and a shake of the head. Just once I’d like to see a contestant go totally nuts on that show. Win a fridge on “The Price Is Right” and the contestant practically faints while squeezing in a blurb about their 30+ years of loyalty while Bob struggles to go to commercial. Win a jackpot equivalent to a year’s salary on “Jeopardy” and you may or may not witness a pursing of the lips or a head shake. It’s so disappointing.

As pathetic as it is to admit that I have taken note of such game show antics, I will take it one step further and shed myself in an even less flattering light. Because in case you were not aware, today was Bob Barker's final episode of "The Price Is Right". I come before you today to freely admit that while he bid his final farewell and concluding recommendation for your pet’s reproductive future, I got a little verklempt. I have been in the studio audience of TPIR before, which might sound a little cool if it weren’t for the fact that my brother Greg not only went to the show, but got picked and then ended up winning the whole stinkin’ showcase and everything about 5 years ago. Over $40K in cash and prizes he hauled in that day, including a car! But even before all that, Bob brought me all kinds of joy through the Dice Game, Plinko, Punch-A-Bunch and the Big Wheel. I love watching people jump for joy and old ladies begging Barker for a kiss as if he were still in his prime. To say it’s the end of an era sounds a little dramatic, but to say I’m not going to miss it would be a lie.

I guess it's not totally over. I've always got channel 14 on Frontier.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Delicate Balance

Some might say it’s counterproductive to have a Slim Fast and a chocolate chip cookie for lunch, but it actually makes perfect sense. You see I sprained my ankle yesterday morning as I missed the final descent down my stairs. Now I find myself facing several weeks of a compromised exercise regimen, which will undoubtedly deflate some of the perky joyfulness for which I am known. [Funny - it's quiet, and yet I hear laughter.] So the Slim Fast is to help curb the side effects of no treadmill while the chocolate chip cookie restores some of that innate happiness that might wane during the duration of recovery. So it's basically a win/win. And any ill effects of said cookie are surely balanced out by the one-legged hopping cardio routine I’ve incorporated as I navigate between the couch, the freezer (to retrieve ice packs), and the DVD player.

On the positive side, I've been waiting for an opportunity to watch season 2 of "The Office" in its entirety while the children fetch me drinks. And as the icing on the cake, I will have at least one set of great quads when this is all over.

Wait a minute, did someone say "cake"?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

And that's why they created the Dumb Friends League

Have you ever tried to put a cat in a cardboard box? I hadn't expected it to be easy, but I had no idea how difficult it would be as my friend Lorie and I tried to box up a stray for her to take on her move to a ranch for the summer. This was literally Lorie's last task before driving away from what had been her home for the last four years - the kids were seatbelted in, they were hooked up to DVD's to prepare for the drive, and I had stopped by to bid final farewell when I was roped into helping entice this ball of white and butterscotch colored furriness into the confines of a box. "It'll be happier on more land", "my kids have been wanting a pet anyway", "I don't think it belongs to anybody else", "it's obviously malnourished". These are all the things that Lorie said as we prepared the box for it's new tenant.

It was clear after attempt number one that we hadn't thought this through. The initial capture was successful, but as Lorie inched the cat closer to its new home he responded much like I do to birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese - arms and legs shot out in protest with the appearance of claws. And call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure the cat said, "Heeeellll noooo!"
It bolted, and Lorie decided we needed tape.

Soon she came back triumphantly waving packing tape in the air and we tried again. This time in a stroke of genius, she put her hand over the cat's eyes so it wouldn't see what was happening. It helped at first, but eventually she had to remove her hand and thus began the wailing and gnashing of teeth. But this time we had tape! I set to work sealing up the edges while Lorie tried to keep the cat inside and offered encouragement in soothing tones, "Don't worry kitty, we're taking you to a better place. There's LOTS of mice and TONS of land!" Clearly this cat did not speak the language of bullcrap, and decided instead that his best escape route had been reduced to the small airholes we had created earlier with the tips of our keys. With all his might and power he began forcing his head through the quarter size holes, and we grew increasingly convinced that this was a very bad idea (ya think??!) not to mention borderline animal cruelty. Before we could undo the tape and set him free he had forged his own path through the aforementioned airhole and made a run for it across the street.

Having caught the tail end (HA!) of this incident a neighbor appeared seeking Lorie's email address and pointed down the street where he believed the owner of this cat lived. She rattled off a fake address, I waved good-bye while still laughing, and drove off. As we rounded the corner I heard a loud and deliberate "meow" from the depths of a distant juniper bush. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure he was giving me the bird.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Did you know...

...that there is such a thing as National Women’s Confidence Day? And did you know that it’s today? If you said “no” to either of these questions don’t worry, you are not a slacker. Because the last thing I want to do is call you a slacker on National Women’s Confidence Day. That just seems counterproductive. But am I alone in feeling annoyed that we think it’s necessary for a Congressman and a celebrity to spend tax dollars encouraging “women everywhere to empower themselves with confidence every day”? Are we really this desperate to validate ourselves? Don't get me wrong. As a proud member and current President of the Inadequate Club I certainly have my own issues. But as nice as it is for Queen Latifah to hand out plaques to exemplary, confident women while reminding us that big is beautiful, I’m thinking that I’d rather have less national debt. And a smaller waist.

Perhaps if we were more confident we would have fixed that already. Gotta go, I think I smell baked goods.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Happy Anniversary

As I sit here I am looking out my window at what appears will be a beautiful day. Blues skies, soft breezes, the sun is casting highlights over our aspen trees, the birds are rendezvousing in the branches, and Starbucks is already jumping to meet the demands of iced, tall, foamy, cappuccino, hazlenut, soy whatevers for their customers. The high today is supposed to be around 83 degrees. It's exactly what I had pictured for this day in June in San Diego fourteen years ago; a.k.a. our wedding day.
We were supposed to have an outdoor reception at the home of friends whose gardens and veranda sat atop a lovely hill overlooking my hometown. They had worked for months to make it even more beautiful, and it was indeed a great spot for this occasion. At least it would have been had the torrential winds not blown our canopy down the ravine and the thundering rain not drenched our tables and chairs. Allow me to reiterate: June. San Diego. Who'da thunk?
We had no backup plan. We had no decorations to move indoors, as the fresh flowers of our plan-A were going to be the main backdrop. We had no way of contacting the 350 guests we had invited to let them know we were frantically changing our location to the church hall. We hung a poster on the door and hoped for the best.
And then a crazy thing happened. People showed up out of nowhere with stuff. Some who had the foresight to imagine the state of my poor mother's mind had simply called her and asked, "What are the colors?" and then appeared with flower arrangements to suit. Another came bearing several pre-lit trees while yet another showed up with other odds and ends to fill space and add warmth. My mom insisted that I not fret about a thing while she ran around frantically trying to negotiate a path of survival and success. Which she did. And as it turned out, no one could have guessed that we hadn't planned an indoor celebration to begin with!
I had made very few decisions about this day as I had not designed my wedding since I was 11. But my sister had, so my approach was to leave the decisions up to her and my mom. (I was in college, and I had finals!) The day before the official "I do's" I asked my sister Suzi to go buy me some wedding day earrings. Her gasp of disbelief that I hadn't already done so was followed with an inquisition about what I wanted; big or small? dainty or bold? diamonds or pearls?dangly or subtle? "Whatever," I replied. "I'm sure whatever you pick will be perfect." I'm pretty sure I drove her crazy during this time.
I only remember having an opinion about two things. One, the bride's maids/flower girl dresses. And two, I had insisted simply that our reception be somewhere other than the church hall. I have changed a lot in the last fourteen years and as I look back on that day, I think about what it would be like to do it all over again making choices based on my current personal taste and style (now that I actually have some.) And just to be safe, I would probably have a weather related backup plan. The good news is that despite my changing opinions, the one thing I've never wavered on is the groom. The guy that stood across from me who promised to love me no matter what has held up his end of the bargain of "better or worse", and we've managed to enjoy a great life together so far. So here's to hoping that the next 14 years are as good as the last.
From where I sit, it's looking pretty good.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Cheapskate

Hint: When someone tells you about a cheap movie theater in town, you can assume it is probably not in the best area. In addition, when the person giving you directions says, “It’s in the strip mall right between the Dollar Store and a Bingo joint”, you should probably be prepared for something extra special. Finally, when they say it’s “cheap” they are only talking about the price of admission. Popcorn is still $73. However, if you ask for enough straws you’ll be surprised how far a drink will go between five people.

Brought to you by someone who participated in the complete annihilation of last month’s budget.