Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Weighty Issue

I questioned whether to even publish this post. It seems whiny and self-indulgent. But, for the sake of the honesty and transparency I committed myself to when I started this blog, here it goes.

I’ve gained 40 pounds since my wedding. Twenty pounds with each child. With my first child I really thought that I needed to eat ice cream and Taco Bell each day. So I did. I once made my husband cross 3 lanes of traffic to get to Taco Bell so I could have a 7-Layer Burrito.

By the time my body fully recovered from that first pregnancy, I gained twenty pounds.

Ashamed of my gluttony during my first pregnancy, I resolved to eat better the second time around. For the first twenty weeks I did great. I threw up everything I ate and lost 10 pounds. And although I was put on limited activity for my entire third trimester, my weight gain was very healthy.

I still gained twenty pounds.

God Bless Husband, who truly believes I’ve only become more beautiful.

I’ve been in denial about my weight gain. I reasoned that since I can button up my pants (regardless of the blubber spilling over), that I’m doing ok. I reasoned that since I’ve got an hourglass figure, I look voluptuous, not fat. I simply stopped picturing what I looked like from the shoulders down, preferring to imagine what I used to look like.

I don’t look voluptuous. I’m not big boned and I’m not tall. I’ve got to much fat on a frame not sized to hold it all. I look out-of-shape. I look slovenly. I looked up my BMI and I’m well into the overweight range.

Is this what people think whenever they look at me?

I can’t keep denying this. It’s so easy to ignore the truth.

I was a skinny child. Not just little, skinny. I was a slender young adult. I never had to worry about my weight. I ate reasonably, indulged when I wanted, stayed moderately active, and everything was fine.

Not so much anymore. I still eat reasonably, and only indulge occasionally, but even so, I’m always hungry. Despite eating three healthy meals a day, I’m ravenous by 8 pm, and need a substantial snack (like a bowl of cereal) to feel full enough to sleep.

Just chasing and hauling my two kids around our 2-story home all day isn’t enough. I haven’t exercised regularly since 2007. Working bizarre hours at a full-time job and taking care of two babies drained me of time and energy.

And I’m tired of this. I’m tired of hating my appearance. I’m tired of feeling old and worn out.

So yesterday I joined a gym.

It is less than 10 minutes from my house. It has free childcare.

I’m excited to get going. Just because I haven’t been doing it doesn’t mean I don’t like exercise. It’s incredibly good for my mental health. Sweat and stress seem to drain from my body; I feel physically and mentally detoxified.

But I can’t seem to defend myself against the critic inside that says “You’re fat and there’s nothing you can do about it.” It’s the same critic that silenced me all my life - “If you aren’t naturally wonderful at this, you are a failure and there’s nothing that can be done to exonerate you for this.”

I know I will never look like I did pre-pregnancy. But I’m hoping to at least love myself the way I look now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Lifting Weights Is The Source Of My Everlasting Shame

I sucked at gym class.

Maybe it was because it wasn’t until I was 18 that some one finally told me in order to catch a ball I actually had to be looking at it, rather than holding my hands hopefully out in the air, while cringing in the other direction with my eyes squeezed shut.

Maybe it was because even after a 6 week course and the personal assistance of 3 individual gym teachers, I still couldn’t bowl over a 37.

Maybe it was because I could never remember which direction to run in basketball, or baseball, or soccer, and because I could never figure out why someone would want to put their body between the floor and a volleyball hurtling towards them like a death-sphere.

But maybe, just maybe, it was because of this...

My high school had a football team. That means we had a special room full of weights and cardiovascular equipment. That also meant we didn’t have textbooks that knew of the Korean War or sometimes even classrooms with real walls.

And thanks to this weight room, we had to do circuit training.

Now before I can go further, I must explain that I have eczema. Horrible ugly itchy eczema that I’d itch until it bled. Seriously, bleeding was better than the itchiness.

One day the class was doing circuit training and I was doing “circuit training” (i.e. sitting on the equipment and trying to look like I knew what I was doing.) At some point I had absentmindedly scratched at my leg, and unknowingly left a small drop of blood on the seat of some bench-pressing-torture-device contraption.

Gym Teacher noticed and FLIPPED OUT, screaming about how dirty and filthy this was and how this is how people get HIV/AIDS and maybe even ebola or monkey pox or dysentery. WHO KNEW? Meanwhile I tried to harness my powers of invisibility.

Just as I could feel my molecules becoming noticeably more opaque, one boy, who I’ve known ever since kindergarten and was kind of a bad ass in a scrawny fifteen-year-old boy sort of way, looked straight at me and silently mouthed with a smirk, “I KNOW IT WAS YOU-OU!”

Except to me it sounded more like this:



Now, I know Gym Teacher was right - blood is gross. But to my defense, we weren’t given time to properly wipe down the equipment in-between circuits.

Yeah, gym class sucked.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tricks of the Trade - Now With A Free Sample Of Humility

My new best friend is a carpet Shark.

No, not this:



Or this:


Or this:


This:



I learned of this brilliant invention when I was at my sister’s house one day for lunch. After the Babies finished their meal, she nonchalantly pulled out one of these beauties and effortlessly started sweeping up mac ‘n cheese, Cheerios, and other assorted crumbs. (I swear, I’m not being paid to write this. Really.)

“OH MY GOD!” I exclaimed. “What is that wonderful thing?”

“A carpet shark,” she said. “Don’t you have one?”

Ummm...NO.

She got me a Shark as a housewarming gift. It’s been my constant companion ever since.

Honestly, before we had kids Husband and I were child-rearing snobs. My child will never eat frozen chicken nuggets. My child will never watch DVD’s in the car. Fruit cocktail is not a fruit.

But with each passing month, we learned how judgmental we were, how ridiculous we were behaving. There is a place in the world for chicken nuggets and fruit cocktail. It’s ok to keep Dora on an endless loop during a 10-hour car ride if it means we reach our destination intact.

It is incredibly difficult to admit I was wrong.

We, all us parents, are just trying to get along one day at a time.

Sometimes there is no right or wrong, just what’s right for your family at this moment.

So is there anything out there, besides experience and self-reflection, that will make me realize when I’m being a judgmental idiot? Maybe something like a unicorn that pokes me in the backside when I do wrong, but snorts glitter and rainbows out of its nose when I do right?

Because that would be awesome.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Stuff Of Ridiculous Nightmares

In honor of Halloween, I’d like to recap my history with Scary Things:

Scary Thing #1: Horror Movies

My first exposure to horror movies was at Best Friend’s house. It was the mid-1980’s, and Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, and all their kith and kin were crazy popular.

Now, Best Friend had a brother who LOVED slasher flicks, and regularly watched them on VHS.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

During one of our many sleepovers Best Friend and I somehow ended up watching Friday The 13th.

This will be good for the 7-year-old

Now, being only 7, I’m not sure I really understood what was going on. Keep in mind, this was also the age that I kept having nightmares about evil giraffes (no, really). I wasn’t particularly frightened by the movie. I WAS frightened by Best Friend’s Brother who would spend all sleepovers for the next year whispering “ch-ch-ch-ch ha-ha-ha-ha” leading Best friend and I to believed we’d be hacked to bits any moment from now.

Scary Thing #2: Spiders

We’ve already covered spiders. Moving on...

Scary Thing #3: Dolls

I loved dolls as a kid. LOVED them. Had a million. And then I saw this movie:

It’s Like "Child’s Play," But For Girls

For whatever reason, this movie is the sole reason that, to this day, I’m a little freaked out by porcelain dolls. Or dolls with buttons for eyes. Or dolls that come to life and murder you in your sleep.


Can We Be Your Friend?

Scary Thing #4: Scary Stories

No, the ultimate Scary Thing for me was the series Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.

This looks appropriate for a 9-year old (No, really.)

These books scared the crap out of me. Which raises a couple questions:

1) Why did I continue to read them time and time again, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep all night?

2) It’s a series of like, 3 or 4. Why did I continue to purchase subsequent books when the first one made me wet my pants?

I guess when I was 9 I liked being a slightly damp insomniac who spent the evening formulating plans to avoid spiders and murder dolls. Or something.

Hmmm...Jason...spiders....murder dolls. Well, I’ll sleep good tonight.

Follow up: Wrote this post late Sunday night. Went to bed. Promptly had nightmare. Excellent.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crazy = Wonderful

October 2006 through October 2007 will forever go down as the year I went crazy.

Now, I don’t use the word “crazy” lightly. But the time line of what happened in those months is as follows:

October 21, 2006: Husband and I got married

Two weeks later: Husband and I find out his graduate advisor is moving from the University of Minnesota to The Ohio State University, and we must move as well.

January 1, 2007: We move from St. Paul, MN to Columbus, OH.

One week later: I start my final semester of law school at an entirely new law school, and Husband resumes his graduate work at an entirely new university.

One week later: I find out SURPRISE! I’m pregnant.

February 2007 - March 2007: I throw up every time I smell coffee, which, at law school, means every day.

May 2007: I graduate law school, and start hunting for a job to support myself, Husband, and the expectant baby.

Two months later: I obtain a job (WHEW!)

Mid-July: I begin said job.

October 16, 2007: Toddler is born.

I think the only thing that could’ve made that year more stressful would be the death of a family member (and I truly thank God I didn’t have to go through that.)

Strangely enough, that year didn’t do a ton to add to my bipolar depression. The postpartum hormones did. And it made Husband and I grow so much closer, because we had no one to depend on except each other. And it brought us the most precious surprise ever, Toddler.

So, was it stressful? Yes.

Was it full of uncertainty? Yes.

Was it lonely? Yes.

Was it wonderful? Yes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spiders Are Evil

Spiders are evil.

I first addressed this theory when I was five or so. My older sister and I were playing on the floor at Grandma’s house. She looked at me and said, rather calmly, “There’s a spider on your leg.”

“Nuh-UH!” I replied. I figured she was just trying to scare me.

“No, there is! There’s a spider on your leg.”

“Nuh-UH!”

“Really, there’s a spider on your leg!”

“Nuh-UH!”

Then I turned and looked at my leg, and there was a spider on it. It looked like this:


I know where you live...

I think I must have blacked out or something, because the next thing I knew I was in my Grandma’s arms screaming bloody murder. She tried to reassure me, but what did she know? That spider was out for blood.

Based on this encounter I staunchly avoided all arachnids until second grade. That’s when I found out my friend Sarah LOVED spiders. One autumn day we came across a spider web with a large, but colorful, spider in it.

“LOOK AT THAT PRETTY SPIDER!” Sarah gushed. “Let’s name it ‘Beauty’ and catch grasshoppers for it to eat!”

I was onboard with this plan, as it meant I had an excuse to run far, far away from the spiderweb. All autumn we caught grasshoppers and moths and placed them in the vicinity of Beauty’s web. I slowly developed a cordial relationship with my spider friend. Perhaps some sort of reconciliation could be made

Can I be your friend?

Eventually we were forced inside by sub-zero temperatures. We waited anxiously all winter for the snow to melt, so we could reunite with Beauty. Alas, when that glorious day came, Beauty was nowhere to be found. The peace negotiations came to an abrupt end; I still hated spiders.

My third proof that spiders were not the harmless helpful creatures they claim to be came when I was 13. My parents left my sister and I at home alone one night while they went out with friends. Late in the evening, I wandered into the back of the house to use the bathroom when I saw a giant black spider right next to the bathroom door. It looked like this:

I'm baaaaack...

My sister and I ran around in a state of panic screaming, “WHAT DO WE DO???? WHAT DO WE DO??? Finally, we collected ourselves and formulated a plan.

My sister took a large plastic cup and placed it over the spider. I then used masking tape to quickly secure the cup to the carpet. The spider was now sealed in an impenetrable chamber, imprisoned until Mom and Dad got home.

It was the logical thing to do.

When Mom and Dad got home, we showed them our spider holding cell. But, like the doomed opening of Al Capone’s vault, when Dad removed the masking tape and lifted the cup, the spider was gone.

It’s still out there looking for me.

But now I have a problem (other than my irrational fear of spiders). I stay at home with the children. Sometimes there are spiders around, and since I’m the adult (or at least the oldest), it is up to me to do something about these trespassing arachnids.

Screaming isn’t appropriate - I don’t want to frighten my children.

Touching the spider isn’t appropriate - I might die, and then who will make dinner, WHO?

Lifting the spider into a container to take it outside isn’t appropriate - I’m a klutz, and the spider would probably end up falling in my mouth, where it would get all urban-legendy and lay eggs that would hatch in my sleep and I’d find thousands of tiny spiders crawling all over me. And we can’t have THAT, can we?

No, the only thing I can do is politely greet the spider, and then ... avoid it. Which maybe is what I should’ve been doing all along.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Toddler turned three last Saturday. We haven’t told her yet. Her party isn’t until Sunday, and if we told her last Saturday, the conversation would go like this:

“Happy Birthday, honey! You are 3 years old today!”

“I’m 3! It’s my birthday! Now I get presents, and balloons, and cake, and every one hides and yells ‘Surprise’!”

“Actually honey, your party isn’t until next week Sunday. Your party is next week.”

“WHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!”

(Sunday) “Is it my party yet?”

“No.”

(Monday) “Is it my party yet?”

“No.”

(Tuesday) “Is it my party yet?”

“No.”

(Wednesday) "Is it my party yet?"

"No."

(Thursday) "Is it my party yet?"

"No."

(Friday) "Is it my party yet?"

"No."

(Saturday) "Is it my party yet?"

"No."

(Sunday) "Is it my party yet?"

"Yes! Happy Birthday!"

"I’m 4!"

Long story short, she’s 3 now, and is no longer a Toddler.

Crap, now what do I call her on my blog?

When I started my blog, except for myself, I always changed the names of any one I referenced, unless I had their express permission to use their real name. Privacy issues, and all.

Because I couldn’t gain their express permission to use their real names, and because it helped readers understand how old my children were, I referred to them as “Baby” and “Toddler.”

Except I forgot that kids grow up. Now Toddler has to be referred to as “Preschooler” (even though she doesn’t attend preschool yet) or “3-year-old” (which is kind of a mouthful). Also, if one reads my earlier posts, will they realize the child now referred to as “Preschooler” was once referred to as “Toddler” and the child now referred to as “Toddler” was once referred to as “Baby”?

Arrrgg.

I could just use their real names, but then there’s no way to know how old they are unless I say “X, who is 3,” which annoys me for some reason. Some sort of executive decision needs to be made.

So, from here on out, I will refer to Toddler as Preschooler. Baby will remain Baby until she turns 18 months, and then she will be referred to as Toddler. All others will have aliases unless they grant me permission to use their real name.

I, of course, will always be referred to by my real name. As author of this blog, I believe readers deserve to know who I am.

Now, I must be off. Preschooler has removed the ham from her sandwich and is shouting “Hooray, hooray!!” while she waves the ham around like a flag.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Playing Favorites

Baby has been teething like mad for the last few weeks. She demands holding, followed by cuddling, followed by more holding. There is much screaming involved, sometimes between all parties involved.

Poor Toddler then gets lost in the shuffle. I can’t hold her as much, or cuddle with her as much, as I do Baby. There are times where she asks me pitifully, “Mommy, you want to play tea party?” or “Mommy, read me this story?” and I have to say, “I can’t, honey, I have to hold Baby. She doesn’t feel good.”

And then my heart breaks for Toddler, because this isn’t her fault. And a part of me resents Baby for making me feel this way. I don’t love Baby any less, I’m just so frustrated at the moment.

Conversely, there are times where Toddler is demanding and whiney. All day long it’s, “MOMMY, I WANT...,” “Moooooooommmmmmy,” tears, and tantrums, all while Baby plays quietly on the floor. And on those days I feel resentful towards Toddler. And again, I don’t love Toddler any less, I’m just so frustrated at the moment.

I try, oh how I try, to give each child as much individual attention as I can every day. But the amount of attention is never split 50-50, and sometimes it is incredibly lopsided.

Before Baby was born, I feared I could never love another child as much as I loved Toddler. That fear turned out not to be true. Now I fear one, or both, of my children will assume the other is the favorite, and forever resent me for it.

Will they know? Will they know how hard I tried? How even if I’m mad, or even if one temporarily needs me more than the other, that I always loved them both one-hundred percent?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Story About Fish

When I was in college, my dorm-mates and I peeled ourselves from our beds one Sunday morning, and headed to the girl’s bathroom where we were faced with fish.

Tens of goldfish were swimming around in the toilets. They’d swim through the pipes, popping up in random bowls.

We called in the RA in to assess the situation.

“Yup, those are goldfish,” she assessed.

We started discussing what to do. “Flush them” was the general consensus.

I’m no animal lover. I mean, I like animals, but not those with slime or scales, or those that eat bugs, or those with an instinct to burrow, or those with the word “naked” in their name, or those that breath fire.

But the thought of 40 goldfish being flushed as if they were sucked into the mighty craw of Charybdis, was just too much for me and for my roommate, who was an animal lover, and even liked animals with slime, or scales, or that ate bugs, or burrowed, or with the word “naked” in their name, or those that breathed fire.

“NOOOOOO!!!!!” we cried. “Don’t flush them!”

“Why not?”

“They’re alive!”

“Well, you figure out what to do with them.”

I borrowed a small plastic aquarium net from a guy who actually had a fish tank, and spent the next 3 hours carefully scooping fish out of the toilets and into various cups and bowls filled with water.

Finally, I found about 20 people willing to adopt a couple of toilet fish. My roommate and I each kept one as well. We named them Mr. Hanky and Michael Jackson.

Problem was, we didn’t have a fish bowl. We were able to find some fish food at a local Walgreens, but we couldn’t buy a fish bowl because there were no pet stores within walking distance.

We decided to wait until the next weekend to take a bus to a pet store. In the meantime we kept the fish in a plastic water pitcher. Hey, it’s better than the toilet, right?

Right?

For a few days all was well. Mr. Hanky and Michael Jackson swam around their new home, eating all the fish flakes they wanted. I think I saw Mr. Hanky smile and nod once.

But then we started noticing tiny bubbles...lots of tiny bubbles hanging around our fish, and in the water.

The next morning we were dismayed to find Michael Jackson laying on his side at the bottom of the pitcher. By that evening both fish were dead, and we were forced to flush them back down the toilet from whence they came.

I think I should just avoid live fish altogether. It always seems to end in disaster.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Side Effects Include Empathy...

“She must be off her meds...”

That phrase is uttered when some one (usually a woman) is irrationally angry, a narcissist, or a drama queen. It is said with a sneer. With contempt.

I’m not offended by the phrase. It is a joke, a colloquialism. It’s a means of expressing disdain for a person’s actions or attitude. It’s not personal.

But when I miss a dose of my medication for bipolar depression, here’s what I experience:

- Nausea. Think hangover. Think morning-sickness.

- Headache

- Flu-like body-aches

- Disturbingly vivid dreams that keep me from getting any restful sleep

- Anxiety and jitters

So when some one says “She must be off her meds...” I usually laugh. Chances are that person is just joking. Chances are the person of whom they speak is being irrational, or a narcissist, or a drama queen.

But part of me wonders if that person really is off her meds. And feels bad for them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zombie Fish

My first summer after college I worked as a ticket attendant and concessionaire at a county park. Mostly the job involved selling tickets in a booth at the entrance, but occasionally I’d get to leave the booth to sell chips, soda and candy bars at the concession stand, or to do menial maintenance jobs around the park.

This was a welcomed respite until the day all the fish died.

The park had a small lake with a beach area. The lake had fish. One day the fish all caught fish ebola or something, and died. The next day we were faced with hundreds of fish floating belly-up in the lake and washing up on shore.

The beach was closed for weeks while various state agencies tried to figure out why the fish died and whether it was safe to swim in the water. They took a few samples of dead fish, and came to the conclusion, “We don’t really know why the fish died, but it’s probably safe to swim. Have fun!”

This meant there were approximately 3902 dead fish to clean up off the shores of the lake. For 3 days straight I’d walk around the lake carrying a bucket and using a pair of garbage grabbers to place dead fish in the bucket.

Good times.

Now, I’ve never been fishing. So on one sojourn I noticed a fish quite close to shore. It wasn’t floating belly-up, but it definitely wasn’t moving. I figured it had only recently died, thrust the garbage pickers into the water, and pinched it by the tail.

The fish immediately wiggled around furiously trying to swim away. I had apparently caught a zombie fish by the tail. I panicked (OMG ZOMBIE FISH!!!), pulled it out of the water and put it in the bucket with the rest of the ex-fish.

The fish flopped around in the bucket and quickly attempted to evolve and grow lungs. Oops. It wasn’t dead, it was just resting.

I felt bad, but the deed was done. The next day the park re-opened to patrons and I spent the rest of the summer sitting in an booth the size of a broom closet, sans airconditioning, collecting money from people who were pissed off that they had to pay to park their car at a county park.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Really, Who Needs To Eat Anyhow?

One thing I hate about moving to a new state is adjusting to a different grocery store.

I arrived at Sentry with high hopes, and pride in my ability to actually do something responsible.

The first thing I did was obtain a cart. Naturally, Toddler spied one of those full-size carts with car at the end of it. This thing had the turning radius of a jumbo jet, and I think I ran down 5 elderly women trying to steer it.


This is a great idea! According to Satan.

After strapping Baby and Toddler into the Satan-mobile shopping cart, we headed towards the produce section. The store had a great selection of fruits and vegetables, but even after combing the aisles 3 times, I still couldn’t find any fresh herbs. I’m pretty certain some fraction of my soul is still wandering the store in search of fresh sage.

At the Deli counter, the clerk was kind enough to give me a taste-test of the ham I wanted to buy. But it wasn’t just a little piece; it was an entire slice. I gave some to Toddler, who likes ham. She ate it, but when I tried to pawn the rest of it off on her, she said, “No, thank you.”

So then I was facing the reality that I had an entire slice of ham on my person. It was good ham. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to throw it away in front of the clerk, but I also didn’t feel like downing all that ham at 10:00 am on a Monday morning.

I did what any reasonable person would do. I put the ham in my pocket.

Then, to my horror, I couldn’t find my favorite flavor of International Delight creamer. Seriously, I’ve checked about 3 different stores in my neck of the woods and they just don’t have it. Sure, they carry other flavors, but not Hershey’s Chocolate Caramel:


No, you can't have International Delight Hershey's Chocolate Caramel Coffee Creamer. Not yours.

Eventually I paid for my groceries, and we headed to the car. The grocery store was on the top of a small hill. There are not many hills in southwestern Ohio, so I didn’t really think of it when I left Baby in the Satan-mobile while I buckled Toddler in her seat.

The slight incline of the hill, plus the heavy load of groceries caused the cart to roll away WITH BABY STILL INSIDE IT. It was like a scene from a cheesy movie, except it was real life, and very little cheese was involved. I ran after the cart, and rescued it and Baby.

All this physical activity made me hungry, so we went to McDonald’s for lunch. Unfortunately, I was so disoriented that I forgot how a McDonald’s worked, and ordered as if I wasn’t 100% certain they would give me food.

Cashier: How can I help you today?

Me: Uhh...cheeseburger? Happy Meal?

Cashier: Ok, one cheeseburger happy meal. Anything else?

Me: ??? Ummm...cheeseburger? Fries?

Cashier: Anything to drink?

Me: Soda? Diet Coke? Do you have it back there?

Cashier: Actually, you fill it yourself over there.

Me: Over there???

Cashier: Yup! Your total is $7.59.

Me: *Blank stare*

I’m asking my family to try to subside on meager rations, but they don’t seem to be listening. Now I’ll have to go grocery shopping again next week. I can’t wait.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It Turns Out I’m Night-Blind. Also, I Can’t Run. Also, My Face Hurts.

When I was a child, I never liked the game “ghosts in the graveyard.” For those who don’t know, the game is played like this:

The game is played outdoors at nighttime. One person is the ghost and hides while the rest of the group stays on home base and counts "one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, rock...'till you got to midnight (after every 3rd number say "rock" in remembrance of the ancient and revered minstrel Bill Haley ). Then the players go search for the ghost. Whoever finds the ghost yells "ghost in the graveyard" and all the seekers run like hell back to home base while the ghost tries to tag them. Whoever is tagged is the next ghost. If the ghost doesn’t tag any one, they remain the ghost for the next round.

This was how the game was played if you were me:

When I was the ghost, I would hide in the most well-lit area I could find because I could never find a place to hide in a truly dark area (it’s hard to find a hiding place when you can’t see.) Also, was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see if evil spiders were crawling all over me.

Spiders are evil.

Inevitably I would be found, and then I’d run ineffectively after everyone, whom I could not really see in the dark. I’d never tag any one, so I always had to be the ghost until one of the other kids gave up and let me tag them on purpose. Then I’d be a seeker.

As a seeker, I never found the ghost. It was too dark. Then I could never see the ghost chasing me. It was too dark. Ultimately, I’d be tagged, and then I had to be the stupid ghost again.

It turns out I’m night-blind. Also, I run like a pansy.

My night-blindness caused Husband and I to have the constant “light fight.” It always goes like this:

Husband: Why are all these lights on?

Me: I like a well-lit home.

Husband: You have lights on in rooms you’re not even using! You’re wasting money!

Me: We’re talking about pennies a month. Who cares?

Husband: It all adds up!

Me: AAARRRGGGHH!!!

Husband: WHARRRGARBBLE!!!

The problem was solved one day when Husband had the idea to study how terrible my vision actually was in the dark. We went to the darkest area of the house. He stood in front of me with his hand out, and brought it incrementally closer to my face. When I could finally see his hand, I was supposed to say stop.

He ended up smacking me in the face.

We repeated the experiment in various areas of the house with various degrees of lighting. By the end of the experiment, he exclaimed “So THIS is what it’s like! I never knew....”

Thus the great “light-fight” was ended. I get to have as many lights on at night as I want.

Except when we’re sleeping, where when I have to get up to comfort one of the kids I end up running into the bedpost and giving myself a bloody lip.

It’s a win-lose situation.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Phoning Failure

My children are waging war, to ensure I never, ever finish a single phone call.

I think they're winning.

They will be playing quietly by themselves. They will be neither poopy nor wet. They will both recently have been fed. They do not need naps. There is nothing they could possibly need from me for the next five minutes.

Then I will have the audacity to try to make a phone call. The call will go something like this:

Me: Hello, I need to make an appointment to...

Toddler: Mommy? What’s that? What are you doing?

Me (to toddler): Shhhh... I’m trying to make a phone call.

Me (to receptionist): Sorry about that, I need to make an appointment to see Dr. ...

Toddler: Let’s play hide-and-seek! I want to play hide-and-seek!

Me (to toddler): Not right now...

Me (to receptionist): No, not you... IneedtomakeanappointmenttoseeDr.Gillman

Receptionist: What is your name?

Me: Angela

Receptionist: How do you spell that?


Me: A-N-G....

Toddler: LET’S PLAY HIDE AND SEEK!!!!

Receptionist: A-N-C?

Me: No, A-N-G...

Baby: Nu nu?

Receptionist: A-N-G

Me: Yes. A-N-G-E...

Baby: NU NU NU!

Toddler: MOMMY????

Baby: WHAAAAA!!!

Receptionist: Uhhh...A-N-G-E?

Me: Sorry! Yes, A-

Baby: WHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Toddler: BABY CRYING!!! BABY CRYING!!!

Me: Look, can I call you back later?

I haven’t been able to make a complete phone call in months.

The other day I received a phone call from one of those robotic telemarketers, the kind where the phone call starts off with about 30 seconds of silence. Before I could even hang up, the torrent began:

Toddler: Mama? MAMA? MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA?

Baby: Blurg? BLURG? BLURG BLURG BLURG BLURG?

Toddler: Can I have a snack? I want a snack?

Me: Just a minute...

Toddler: Can I have a snack??? I want square crackers!

I hand her some Ritz crackers.

Toddler: No, SQUARE crackers!!

Baby: BLUUUURRRRRRGGGGG!

The robotic telemarketer hung up on me.

Even the robots know not to bother.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Post About Religion Because I'm To Befuddled To Think Of A Catchier Title

I promise to return to my usual snark soon, but this post, by Tania of Chicky Chicky Baby, really got me thinking.

At the risk of alienating my tens of readers, I’m tackling the question: what is faith?

I was raised Christian Science, but I never really believed. I was down with the whole God thing, but as a child I just couldn’t grasp the interrelationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by the time I was old enough to understand I no longer cared.

College only increased my cynicism. Though I realize not every one thinks this, what about those who believe their God only allows believers into Heaven? There plenty of non-believers who were good, kind, wonderful people. Why should they be excluded from their loved ones in the afterlife? On another note, why do we need any religion to explain natural phenomena? Also, if you only believe some precepts of your religion, but not others, is that good enough? Or is it hypocritical?

In the end, I determined to be “faithless.” I had no reason to believe there wasn’t some higher power, but I felt there just wasn’t any way I could commit to believing in one to the exclusion of others. I thought they were all good, because in the end they all taught the same basic lessons; love thy neighbor, help those less fortunate, do not judge, be truthful, etc.

Yet in a way that makes me feel less... complete. People of faith (any faith) seem so peaceful. As if, like when they were a child, they have complete trust that they will be taken care of; but there is nothing childish about believing.

So I posit the question to those of faith (any faith): How did you know? What lead you to be able to put your faith in one religion to the exclusion of others? Or, if you believe simply in the goodness of mankind, or if you believe nothing at all, how does such a believe give you satisfaction?

Because I could really use some of that peace right now.

Follow Up:

I want to thank every one who contacted me about this post. I feel some explanation is needed.

Right now I’m experiencing a depressive period. Without medication, this would be very bad. I wouldn’t be able to recognize I was depressed, but neither would I be able to recognize my inherent value as a human being. I’d withdraw into my own mind, where I’d beat myself up until there was no hope left.

Because I am being treated for this illness, I’m able to recognize I’m depressed, which goes a long way towards being able to address the underlying problem of false beliefs.

But when I go through a depressive period, I often wish there was something more, something other than medication to help me cope. Something like faith.

For six years now I have claimed Unitarian Universalism as my church of choice. And for six years it was a true spiritual home. It allowed me to explore the goodness of all religions without forcing me to adopt a creed when I was clearly not ready to do so.

At this point in my life, though, I’m ready for... something else. I will continue to think critically about my personal beliefs, and I am keeping my ears and heart open to any answers that may come my way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Commercially Cursed

My kids watch TV. Lots of TV. Hell, one of Baby's first words was "Dora."

Once, when Toddler was a baby, I made the mistake of watching The Patriot while she was eating lunch. Every time a soldier was shot she said, “Uh-oh.” At the final dramatic battle, all we could hear was, “Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.”

Uh-oh.

So now when my children are awake, they primarily watch children's programming. In particular, they watch NickJr., Disney Channel, and PBS because those programs do not air commercials.

I dislike all commercials, but I particularly dislike commercials geared towards kids. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, kids don’t know what’s good for them.

For example, when grocery shopping we try to choose healthy snacks for Toddler. She barely knew chips existed, because we rarely went down that aisle. Yet one glimpse of Chester Cheetah, and she now has a Cheetos tantrum at the supermarket even though she has never eaten Cheetos.

So why, oh why, does her new Caillou DVD, a program only aired in America on PBS, contain a commercial for Chuck-E-Cheese that we cannot skip through to get to the main menu?

It’s bad enough we have to hear that ear-grating song.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hell, Thy Name Is IKEA

We moved. We’re poor. Some of the furniture we’ve used since college finally fell apart. A trip to IKEA was in order.

I needed to bring my mother with me. When she decorates a room, it looks like this:


Everything coordinates. How odd...

When I decorate a room it looks like this:

Oh good! The carpet, sofa, AND coffee table match the plant! But why is that poor, disturbing
woman reading a book to a doll?


Problem is, no one else could watch after my kids, which meant they had to come with. Packing up the car for any extended journey with Toddler and Baby is like stocking up on supplies for a journey on the Oregon Trail. Who knows how long it might take, or what perils you may encounter? I hope I don’t have to shoot a buffalo; I’d only be able to carry back 200 pounds of meat.

So the four of us piled into the Conestoga wagon minivan, and headed into Schaumberg, IL where we drove in 38 circles and across 4 dimensions before finding the IKEA. Toddler lost a shoe in the minivan. I still don’t know where it is.

Then came the IKEA itself. I’ve been to several IKEA stores across the country, so I’m no stranger to the unique IKEA shopping experience.

They give you a little piece of note paper and a golf pencil to mark the aisles and bins where you can find your furniture. This would be useful if you were playing golf. I am not playing golf; I’m shopping. I brought my own green notebook and carefully wrote down all the details of everything I wanted in MY GIANT HANDWRITING.

I finally found my way through the maze of display rooms. We got nearly all the way to the first floor where they kept the flat boxes of furniture when I realized, I lost the green notebook.

Crap.

My children were threatening atomic warfare. Also, they needed naps. So my mother took them to the minivan, and I started afresh. It was kind of like that joke about Pete and Repeat except instead of falling out of a boat I was falling into one of the giant bins, which may or may not have been a portal to the seventh layer of Hell.

Once again, I found myself on the ground floor staring at a mile-long expanse of shelves. After realizing I could not lift an 80 pound box by myself, I hunted down the only employee on the floor, a very helpful man named Carlos. He helped me lift my first box onto the flat cart, and then quickly retreated.

I soon realized why. By the time I found the next aisle where my next box was located, and found Carlos again, he was faced by a line of approximately 18 patrons clamoring for his strong back.

After he helped me again, he started to leave. WAIT! COME BACK CARLOS! DON’T LEAVE ME!

He left.

Eventually, I had everything I needed and went to check out. After checking out, I was told that there were three loading docks located this way:


There were many doors labeled “Exit.” There were zero doors labeled “Loading Dock.” I took my chances, and went through an exit. It turns out the exits are also the loading docks.

Just as before, I had to track down one employee several times before getting everything in the minivan. But in the end it was worth it. Because instead of looking like this:

Note: This photo is only representative of my living room. All my photos are of
my kids, not my living room.


My living room will look something like this:


It’s amazing how far you can get with an allen wrench and some Swedish design.



Monday, October 4, 2010

Dipping My Toes Into The Blogging Pool

I read many, many a blog.

Unfortunately for all those wonderful bloggers, I’ve lurked for about a billion years.

Actually, my instinctual tendency in life is to lurk. I’m pretty sure my protozoa in the primordial slime of life’s beginning was that awkward protozoa at parties, hanging out in the corner of the room by the food.

Also, I have the tendency to stare straight ahead of me while off in my own thoughts, which causes people to think I’m staring at them when actually I’m probably contemplating whether eating that fourth waffle was really a good idea.

I’m not even good at small talk. It usually goes something like this:

Me: So, uhhh, do you like music?

Stranger: Yeah, especially classic rock.

Me: Yeah. *silence for the next 3 minutes... stranger finally gives up and walks away.*

Or alternatively:

Stranger: Hey, I love this song! Did you know this band started off as a garage band? Yeah, just a few guys hanging out in their garage.

Me: Errr....uh....pancake!

Stranger: ????

See, my small talk doesn’t even make sense.

So it only came natural for me to lurk on blogs. To love all the wonderful writing and wonderful people out there that I’d otherwise never meet, but never letting them meet me.

Shortly before entering the blogging world myself, I started to delurk. It was part of my decision to stop hiding and put myself out there. And it was great! All of a sudden I was part of the conversation, instead of just listening to it.

I feel like I’m rejoining society. The funny thing is, I didn’t even know I had left.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hello, Wisconsin

I was all set to write some snarky post about approximately 57 things that went wrong during our move. But that would be too depressing. Even for me.

Instead, I offer a pictorial essay exemplifying a typical Saturday in my home state.

Note: I am no photographer. If I were, my photos would look like this. Instead, they look like this:



Also, after this I promise to lay off the posts gushing about how great it is to live in Wisconsin. I’m just glad to be back, ya’ll.

That being said....

Husband, Toddler, Baby and I, joined my college roommate Sarah at “Dogtober Fest” at the Capital Brewery. Dogs socialized with other dogs, dog owners met other dog owners, and beer enthusiasts caroused with other beer enthusiasts, dogs, and dog owners. All proceeds from the event went to the Dane County Humane Society.

Only in Wisconsin can you:

Celebrate a humane society fundraiser in a beer garden starting at 11:00 on a Saturday...

... With live music,




... And hand crafted beers,




... And small dogs,



... And big dogs,


... And dogs in costume.


As you can see, the excitement was too much to handle.


video


Hello, Wisconsin. It’s good to see you again.