Tuesday, May 24, 2011

free (fringes) love

{So it turns out I broke the internetz trying to get this link to work.  Anyway, read on, and please visit free fringes to participate in Lovelinks #8.  You can still link your post here, but we won't see the pretty thumbnails!  Erica has promised me a hosting gig AFTER my switch to WordPress, which is now imminent - stupid Blogger...}

I have a confession to make:

I have a secret crush.
I can’t help it.  My crush makes me feel special.  My crush makes me feel like what I have to say is interesting and important.  My crush also makes other small blogs feel the same way.
So I guess my crush is kind of a blog hussy.
But that’s okay.  There’s enough love to go around, isn’t there?
Erica at free fringes is the creator and fabulous host of Lovelinks - a brilliant new feature that highlights the smaller blogs (like mine!) and brings them together with fabulous readers who will help spread the love - or at least make you feel a little less lonely.  
AND it's easy peasy to get involved by linking your favorite posts of the week that could use the love: either someone else's or your own, then vote on your favorites.  

Winners will receive a fabulous button and bragging rights for the week (sorry, a years' supply of macaroni is not included.)
I am flattered to have won Lovelinks #7 (acceptance speech?  I can barely get a sentence posted!)  So I was bestowed the honor of hosting this week's Lovelinks #8

Want one of these?  Then link up!
Give us your best post of the week, or share with us your favorite obscure posts from when you were just messing around instead of working on that spreadsheet.

Submissions are open beginning at midnight Tuesday (5/24) until midnight, Thursday (5/26) then the fun begins:

1. Visit as many links as humanly possible

2. Leave relevant comments on your favorites

3. Come back and vote for the one you loved the most - voting is open until midnight Saturday (5/28) then the winner will be revealed!

4. Don't be mean or stingy: Karma will bring you back as a cockroach

What are you waiting for?  Click below to link up (and stop making me look bad, or Erica won't let me play with her stuff anymore!) 

[Edited by Erica M---for your link to work, you'll need to add this hyperlink somewhere in your post: lovelinks #8. Just something like: this post was lovelinked this week at lovelinks #8. Very simple]

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mommy Has Two Faces


We can’t ALL be June Cleaver, but we can act like her.  Publicly, at least.  These are a few of my confessions (your results may vary):

At the tee ball field:  "Sweetie, you can't help your team if you're laying in the dirt - you gotta stand on the base, you silly goose!"
On the way home:  "I can't believe you spent the entire game laying in the dirt!  I'm not coming to another game ever again!  Now you'll never play for the Red Sox!"
The In-laws hear all about the lovely salmon dish that you slaved over for their grandchild's birthday dinner, because that's what your precious baby wanted.
They do not hear about the rest of the week's menu, which was comprised mostly of Ramen soup and frozen pizza.
On 'Pajama Day' at school, every child is wearing freshly laundered, rip-free PJ's that are as cute as a button!
At home, fleece tops and bottoms are found, but it must be explained to the protesting child that it really is okay to wear a Lego Star Wars top with Super Mario Brothers bottoms.
Lunch for school is lovingly prepared, and contains the following items:  a sunflower butter and banana sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, with apple slices and an organic milk box.
Lunch at home is a can of Spaghetti-O's dumped in a bowl and nuked for 90 seconds, 
and may or may not be served with a cup of coffee.
On school days, the kids always have on clean underwear.
On non-school days, they are just as likely to be going 'commando.'
C’mon, fess up!  I can’t be the only one...

Monday, May 16, 2011


Okay, so I took a little *break* and I feel like I have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Sometimes, I have these weird panic attacks.
They start out in the pit of my stomach - where the little butterflies start flittering.
Sometimes the butterflies grow.  And grow.  And grow.
Until they turn into something different.

When that happens, things start to go awry.
The shame of it is, that nervous, tweaked-out energy usually translates into some of my best material - I’m pretty funny in calamity!  But I can’t get it together enough to concentrate on any one thing for longer than a nano-second.
The kids generally don’t realize I’m in mid-crisis;  partly because I try not to visibly freak out, if at all possible.
And partly because they make me screamy anyway.
Normally, Derek’s there to talk me down from the imaginary ledge, and I can get back to a place where I can function normally.  At least for a little while.  At least until the next one happens.
I can’t figure out why they come and go the way they do, and usually I can work through them, but sometimes, they just get a little too big and demand attention. 
Kinda like a third child.  Or worse, a second husband.
So I do what I can to make it through, until the anxiety decides to retreat back to it’s dark little cave.  Although that periodically takes some creativity on my part.  This time, I needed something a little crazy to get back to “normal.”
So naturally, I dyed some of my hair purple.
I feel much, much better now...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Technical Difficulties

After a series of mini panic attacks, I was happy to have ridden the wave and come out relatively unscathed.
Then the ‘big one’ came rumbling through.
Luckily, Derek was there to talk me down from the proverbial ledge, and the anxiety has ebbed back down to a low ‘hum.’
Still, while the *humming* continues, I feel like I need to take a step back from a few things and focus on getting the beast back in it’s cage.
So while I am basket-weaving, hiding in my closet and talking to my dog, I hope you’ll bear with me here.
I’ll still be lurking around, trying to re-work a few things and stay in the loop, but right now, I kinda feel a little like this:
Thanks to everybody for your awesome support and understanding...
~ Chris xx

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day for the Behaviorally Challenged

I like to think I’m fairly low-maintenance.  I don’t require endless hair and nail appointments.  I rarely go on ‘shopping excursions,’ and I do not expect flowers and lavish gifts on Valentine’s Day.  Because of this, I think my family feels they get a free pass to put in minimum effort on every front.
Normally, I don’t mind.  I don’t care if I’m catered to on my birthday or anniversary.  And it’s no big deal if I don’t get showered in adoration for the posh birthday parties I throw for the kids (although a "thank you" would be nice.)  But there is one deal-breaker:
Mother’s Day.
I will cook, clean, wipe bums and make beds every single day of the year.  But not that day.  So, although I don’t expect to be lavished in expensive baubles this Mother’s Day, there is a short list of things I do expect:
 1. Make your own bed.

You can do it.  I know you can. Even though this is a service that is usually provided for you, it really doesn’t take much effort to pull up a sheet and quilt in an orderly and wrinkle-free fashion.  And don’t forget the pillows.

2. Mediate your own arguments.

I will not play the role of arbitrator today.  The easiest way to avoid any need for a referee is if each person plays with/touches only his/her own stuff.  It’s also helpful to avoid any contact or personal interaction with any other family member.  If a disagreement over a certain toy/activity cannot be avoided, go see your father.  Just know that he will probably throw away the toy in question, or ban said activity from ever happening again (up to and including playing anything in the house.)

3.  Be your own medic.

Unless there is the possibility of limb amputation, I will not be attending to any cuts, bumps, scrapes or bruises.  Please be careful.  Also, if amputation does become an issue, go see your father.  He may have the bedside manner of Nurse Ratched, but he will be the one to take you to the urgent care.

4.  Do not disturb my nap.

On this day, I plan to take a nap, by myself, in peace and quiet.  This plan will require certain adjustments to your behavior (see 2 and 3 above.)  In addition, there is an expectation on my part that you will use your inside voice.  I realize that an inside voice may not fulfill my wish for a peaceful rest, so it may be wise to implement the “Irish whisper.”  Also, not talking at all is an option you may want to consider.

5.  All stabby toys should be removed from my bed.

This is essential for the implementation of number 4 above, and should not require any further explanation, however, an illustration is provided below:

What would make your Mother’s Day perfect?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stop Making It So Easy, Gwyneth!

So, in a recent interview, Gwyneth Paltrow explained away her critics, detractors and downright haters by saying this:
“I think my work ethic is the reason why I'm successful. I think that a lot of people don't want to put in effort and it's easier to not change, not do something good for you, not work on your relationship, not make yourself a meal, not work out. [They're just] pissed off at someone else doing that.”
Turns out, that is not a great way to make friends and influence people.
You might upset the commoners.

It’s not that Gwynnie is without achievement.  She’s an Oscar winning actress, cookbook author, and budding singer.  Not to mention a deliriously happy wife and mother of two.
Oh, and did I forget to include that she is also the proud parent of a website that offers it’s readers advice about what to cook, where to go, what to buy, what to do, and what to see?  Micromanage your supporters much?

She seems to think that with a little hard work and gumption, these things are attainable for everybody.  If we would just get off our collective asses and stop focusing our attention on bitching about her.  (And for Cripes sake, do a colon cleanse once in a while you nasty bitches!)
The thing is, when you’re born on third base and helped along in your acting career by your ‘Uncle Steven” (Spielberg,) in your foray into publishing by ‘Dad’ (famous TV director Bruce Paltrow,) and nudged forward to a singing stint by the ‘hubs’ (Coldplay frontman Chris Martin,) it’s kinda hard to hit a foul.

All that aside, I think the worst offense is that she’s applauding herself for working out, cooking healthy family meals, juggling her career and raising her children in a nurturing environment.  Isn’t that what the rest of us do every day?  Without nannies?
Alas, she takes her critics with a grain of salt because, according to her, 
“We live in a world now where everybody is able to express their opinion, and If everyone has an opinion then no one has an opinion. Ultimately, it's not about me.”
So if we’re not born into fame and/or wealth and have the audacity to express our opinion, it ruins it for the rest of you.  Well played, Gwyneth.  Well played.
I may not be ‘better’ than Gwyneth - my kids eat the occasional Happy Meal, I am known for running out the door without a proper preening, and most days the only exercise I get is in the form of vacuuming and making beds.

But at least I’ve never called my dead grandmother a c*nt. ***

(***her comment is about 4 mins in)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Big Little Voice

My daughter has a big voice.  I don’t mean that her voice is loud.  Or screechy.  
Just BIG.
Being the mother of a daughter means instilling in her a solid sense of strength.  Of not giving up or giving in because people expect less of you.
It means giving her a voice.

Girrrrl Power!

Thing is, sometimes she is under the impression that hers is the only voice that matters.
Peyton has been described as a “dynamic” child.  At age 9, she is intense in every emotion - from happiness to anger to sadness - she feels them all with the same fervor.
She huff and puffs and stomps and sulks over the smallest slight.  Is the universe playing some kind of cosmic joke on me?  Testing my patience?  My resolve?  Is there a hidden camera somewhere? (and if so, maybe I'd better think twice about throttling her.)
Other moms have told me that this is quite ‘normal’ and are experiencing the same things with their daughters.  Kind of a macabre “preview of the teen years” attitude.  I just don’t buy that.
When does a big little voice become too big?
When it starts to overtake the entire family.

This always happens when I tell her to clean her room.

Peyton feels entitled to express her opinion about everything and all topics are open to debate.  There is one problem with that:
One’s sense of entitlement does not make one entitled.
So, how do you foster good self-esteem and strong character while at the same time asserting parental authority?  Good question.  My plan is to make sure that she knows she is loved, but not letting her operate under the delusion that she is any more important than any other member of our family.  
I think that’s where Dina went all wrong with Lindsay.

My girl has her own opinions and her own sense of self.  I think the thing that's missing for me is that her strong personality leaves little room for me to be the "mommy" I want to be.  
What she needs is firm guidance and loving approval;  what I need is to be "needed" by her a little more.

But for now, I think I can settle for just a little more civility...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Post Will Have to Wait

The post I had for today will have to wait.  Sometimes it’s impossible to dismiss the words of another for your own.
As I caught up on some of my favorite blogs, I read the newest post on Wanderlust. Kristen’s post is simply so powerful, it could not be ignored - at least by me.
So please, check out Wanderlust to read The dead woman, and be sure to leave some love for Kristin.
Rock on, baby!

::Comments closed for this post::

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kill the Wabbit

Easter for the disorganized:
So I put off shopping for Easter dinner because of the school holidays.  Who wants to drag two kids through the grocery store unnecessarily? 
Well, apparently I do.  So casual was my attitude toward preparations that I waited until Saturday afternoon to go to the supermarket.  
In the rain.  
With both kids.  
The day before Easter. 
Remember that scene in War of the Worlds when everyone was trying to get on the boat and the angry mob took Tom Cruise’s minivan?
It was kinda like that.
After dinner, it was time to decorate eggs.  I always like to do this about an hour before bedtime, otherwise it turns into a reexamination of each egg in order to add “just one more thing.”
I forgot to cook the eggs.
So needless to say, the kids were psyched that they got to stay up late (by about two hours,) while I tried to figure out how I was going to “flash refrigerate” the eggs so they wouldn’t have to decorate hot little spheres of pain.
Eggs done miraculously with no egg dye being spilled all over the table (this time.)  Put my little zombies to bed - maybe they’ll sleep late!

I sent Derek down to the cellar to get the kids baskets which I had purchased weeks before like an organized and well-planned person.  They were beach-themed: big colorful buckets with things like swim rings, goggles and monogrammed beach towels.  

They were also missing. 

We whisper-argued for a little while before I told him to find those Goddamn buckets or drive down to the 24-hour Walgreen’s for replacement baskets.
After lots of banging around in the basement, he found the buckets.  I am afraid to go down there now.  We arranged them just so, then I added the chocolate bunnies I had stashed.  He hid the eggs and went upstairs to pass out.

About five hours later (WTF?!) the kids woke us up to go downstairs.  We dragged ourselves to the living room while they hunted for eggs.  Success!  They found them all in no time.
All but one.
They looked around again, but still no egg.  Derek tried to re-trace his steps, because really, they were mostly hidden in plain sight.  But he was so blind from exhaustion when he hid them, he couldn’t remember them all.

After mainlining several cups of coffee, I started dinner.  As I was putting together my special sweet potato souffle, I realized that, ironically, we were out of eggs.  Off to find an open grocery store on Easter Sunday.

Dinner turned out lovely, and it was a beautiful spring day.  We never did find that last egg, but I think I have a feeling where it went:

Ozzy looooves eggs!

At least I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Imaginary Stick, part II

Welcome to the second half of my nightmare.  If you missed the beginning, CLICK HERE for part one! 
Sure enough, Mr. G. arrived about forty-five minutes later.
He was a balding, mousy little man, who was very pleasant and, in my opinion, pretty non-judgmental.  I offered him a seat, and we made small talk for a while.  You know - how long have we lived here, how old is your son - that sort of thing.  

Then he took out his note pad and the Official Interview started.  
He told me that he couldn’t disclose the source of the complaint, but I let him know that I already spoke with Peyton about it and knew the source of the allegation.  This ruffled him a bit because maybe she had been coached!  
A four year old.  
The only creature more brutally honest than a four year old is a three year old.  
I assured him that I simply explained the situation to her to prepare her for this visit.  He interviewed her.  The kind of garden variety questions that could raise some red flags, depending on how they were answered like ‘Do you like living here?’  and ‘How do you like your school?’  The only thing I can recall her telling him was that she really liked the kids at her school, but the teachers were “not very nice.” 
Then he asked me what I can only assume to be the ‘usual questions.‘  Given my heightened state, it was all I could do to keep my defense-mechanism {being a smart-ass} from kicking in:
Do you or your husband drink alcohol, Mrs K.?
{Not NEARLY enough!}  Well, occasionally, you know, in social situations.
Is there any illegal drug use in the home? 
{Does that include heroin?}  No, no, nothing like that.  Absolutely not.
Are you on any medication? 
Now, this was before my MS diagnosis, so I couldn’t even pull the “crippling disease” card (dammit!)  But I wasn’t about to tell him about the Prozac for my ongoing clinical depression, or the Xanax for my panic attacks (one of which I was experiencing at that very moment.)
Medication?  No, just a Tylenol here and there. 
See?  I wasn’t even copping to DayQuil!
Do either of you spank your children?
{Hell, yeah!  But only twice a day.}
This was a tricky one, because yes, I have spanked the kids.  We live on a fairly busy street, and my number-one-non-negotiable rule is No Playing Out Front Unless Daddy or Me Are Out There With You.  It only took one swat on the bum to drive that point home.  
Well, yes, I have, but only if they’ve disobeyed a safety rule, and that hasn’t happened in months... 
I see.  Would you mind showing me your home, Mrs. K?
{Well, jeez, I haven’t really had time to put away the S&M gear, but if you must...}  Absolutely.  Come right this way... 
I gave him a tour of the downstairs:  living room, kitchen (fresh fruit, very good,) dining room, playroom (oh, what a nice collection of books you have!)  Then the upstairs.  Incredibly, I had actually made beds and tidied up that morning.
He commented on the decor (What a beautiful home you have!  Did you decorate it yourself?  Very nice.)  And asked about window treatments (Are those custom made?)  
And with every step, I began to feel more and more violated.  I wasn’t sick and anxious anymore.  I was angry.  And I told him so.
Listen Mr. G., I understand that this is your job, and I thank God for people like you, because I wouldn’t last a day seeing some of the things you must have to deal with.  But I fail to understand what the condition of my house has to do with the situation with my daughter.  I’m sure that there are people in much nicer houses than this who are abusing their kids on a regular basis, just as I’m sure that there are kids that live in crappy motel rooms who couldn’t BE more loved...  

...And just think about this for a minute:  if I were beating my daughter with a stick, don’t you think she’d be afraid that I’d beat her with a stick if she told anyone that I was beating her with a stick?!
I understand your frustration, Mrs. K.. Obviously, there’s been a mis-understanding.  Given the circumstances, I’m not sure why they didn’t just call you in for a conference.  I will file my report, and let you know the outcome in a couple of days.  I’m confident that the matter will be dismissed and the file will be closed.
Well, the matter was dismissed, and the file was closed.
It goes without saying that Peyton did not return to that school.  In fact, I got the distinct feeling they didn’t want her back, those Concerned Faculty Members.
But for me, the shame and anger and humiliation wore on for months after.  For the longest time, I was mortified and I lived in fear of anyone ever finding out this had happened.  
It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t really own any of this.  It had been thrusted on me, and it was my responsibility to not take responsibility.  I was letting them make me feel this way.
I finally decided to open up and share this story.  Yes, I was afraid of being judged.  But the reactions of those around me stripped away that shame.  “Are you serious?  Did they even say anything to you first?  Did they call her pediatrician?  Anything like that?”
No.  No they didn’t.  They called the mousy little man at The Department of Child Services.  
And for a moment, they made me feel like the worst mother in the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Imaginary Stick - part I

Hello?  Mrs. K?  This is Mr. G from the Department of Child Services...
We’ve received a report that your daughter Peyton might be the victim of abuse...
Oh my God!
There are allegations being made that she may be being beaten with a stick at home...
Wait.  What?!
We had just moved to ‘idyllic suburbia,’ and we were excited to start our new life.  Out of the city.  Nice, big backyard.  Great school system.  Plenty of room to grow and unlimited potential.  
What could possibly go wrong?
Peyton was a year away from kindergarten.  She had been enrolled in the pre-school program at a nice Catholic school in the city, but now it was just far enough away to be a pain-in-the-ass to keep her there.  Not knowing anybody or anything about the area, except that it was ‘idyllic suburbia,’  we decided to play it safe and enroll her in the local Catholic school’s pre-school program (I mean they’re like a chain, right?)
What could possibly go wrong?
Her old school was bright and cheery, with a nurturing atmosphere. This new school was grim and severe.  
Her old school had screaming children running around the school yard, burning off steam before the bell rang and the day began.  This new school had little drones who waited quietly and patiently to file into school in an orderly fashion.
Her old school - loud and messy and happy.  This new school - quiet, efficient and somber.
I saw a change in her in those first couple of months.  There were behavioral issues that were never there before, but I just wrote them off.  After all, we had:  a.) moved,  b.) changed schools, and c.) just welcomed little Jack into the world six months earlier - lots to swallow in a short amount of time.  
But the biggest red flag I missed was on her progress report - the teacher had commented that she wished Peyton would participate a little more in class.  
My girl was (and still is) always chatty and bright and engaging.  What do you mean she’s not participating?  She’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen to her!  
When I asked her what was going on, she only said that she stayed quiet because she didn’t want to get yelled at. I brought this up at our parent-teacher conference, and they simply said that it was crucial to instill “proper deportment in our students” early on. 

Those dour bitches.  I understand the need to keep order, but we’re talking about a bunch four year olds here!  WTF?
Still, I kept sending her. 
 And this is where it went wrong.
We were coming up to the end of the school year, when the kids were allowed to wear shorts when the Awful Thing happened.  See, Peyton wasn’t used to being a 'free-range chicken,' so as soon as the weather was nice, she was out in our backyard every day until we dragged her in - swinging on her new swing set, riding bikes, busting her ass every five minutes on the ladder to the slide, climbing our apple tree (quaint, huh?)   And her shins (and only her shins) were dappled in little bruises.  We joked about it.  I used to say to my husband, “Look at those legs.  It looks like we beat her with sticks!  We’re gonna have to cover her in bubble wrap!”
We joke.  Inappropriately sometimes.
One afternoon, during quiet/nap time, a Concerned Faculty Member asked Peyton about her shins.  She thought nothing of saying, “Aah, you know.  They beat me with sticks.”
O. M. G.
"With a stick?  Oh no, you see, that’s kind of a running joke in our house.
I understand, but I’d like stop by, if you don’t mind.  I’m afraid it’s necessary to complete the investigation...
Investigation?!  Holy Shit!
Umm, okay, sure.  You can come by right now if you want.  I can cancel my plans for this afternoon, that’s no problem...
That’s great, I can be there in about forty-five minutes, okay?
After I hung up the phone, I felt myself getting flush and I just wanted to throw up.  What the hell was happening?  I sat down and collected myself, then called Peyton into the living room.  I struggled to swallow my anxiety (something I was usually quite good at,) and asked her if she knew what was going on.  
She actually started giggling (because, you know, it was fucking ridiculous!)  But I told her it was kind of serious - explaining to her the best I could what was going on.  I told her that someone would be coming over in a little while to talk to her about it, so I really needed to know what happened.
She told me about the Concerned Faculty Member.  She told me that the Concerned Faculty Member asked her to to take a walk down to the office for a little chat with some other Concerned Faculty Members.  And then she ripped my heart out by saying, “I tried to tell them I was only joking Mama, but they wouldn’t listen to me!  Am I gonna be in trouble at school?”
And so we waited for Mr. G. to arrive...

**To Be Continued**

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