Sunday, November 30, 2003

Let me tell you about the pain of motherhood. Is it defined by childbirth? That's only the beginning! The tantrums? Nah. The rejection of a little boy who doesn't need his mommy quite so much? Oh no. The pain of motherhood reaches its zenith with Legos. MomBrain is here to tell you there is nothing more painful than stepping on a Lego. With bare feet. In the middle of the night. And the pain is all the more exquisite because in a dark house full of sleeping babes you cannot scream. Thus MomBrain has six perfectly spaced little circles on the arch of her right foot, a testament to the pain and sacrifice of motherhood. It may scar. I may limp for the rest of my life. This will definitely be an arrow in my sling of maternal guilt. When the Little Guy has grown into the Medium Guy, I will limp into his high school graduation, refuse all assistance to reach handicapped seating, and reassure him that I will be fine, just fine when he leaves me to go to college and eventually to marry that tramp.

I am bitter.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Bonjour, mes petite courgettes! MomBrain is back from her trip to the Big Apple, having left a trail of dead kleenex from Times Square to Central Park and infected thousands with the latest form of SARS. And, in this season of Thanks, I am grateful for ...

My sisters, for breathing fearlessly next to me and never making me feel bad for hacking up a lung on their laps.

The room service lady who brought me lime and honey with my breakfast.

My pharmacist brother-in-law, for the most excellent drugs.

My fellow Alaska Airlines passengers, who did not bend, fold, staple, or mutilate me.

My extremely ill husband, for not making me feel *too* guilty about leaving him behind with an extremely ill child and a high maintenance cat.

Nanny, for her very large and capable hands.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

MomBrain has left the building, and will return on Tuesday.

In a sign of true delirium, MomBrain is going out of town to get raucous with her sisters. That is if I survive the murderous wishes of a plane load of passengers subjected to my coughing fits. I have always hated sick people on airplanes. And now the devil is I.

posted by Marjorie
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This Functional Family Quiz will help you evaluate whether your family dynamics (and your role in them) are healthy or in need of an extreme makeover. It only has one question -- MomBrain knows how busy you are!

Question: When you find your spouse lying on the kitchen floor delirious with a 103-degree fever, do you:

1. Find a blanket and a cloth dipped in cold water.
2. Forcefeed him ibuprofen and water, and help him get to bed.
3. Call 911.
4. Make deviled eggs.

The correct answer is ... Number 4! Perhaps this is evidence of my own fevered state. But to be fair, I stepped carefully so as not to disturb. And I did keep the Little Guy from jumping on Daddy, because Daddy was not playing a game. And I did make the Big Guy eat some of the eggs. Um ... but other than that I have no defense. He just laid on the floor amid the ice-cream-sandwich wrappers while I merrily squished mayonnaise into the yolks and cursed our lack of paprika.

Perhaps I should call Dr. Phil.

posted by Marjorie
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Monday, November 17, 2003

Welcome to the tuberculosis ward, where there are no doctors, no nurses, and no cute little candy stripers wheeling magazine carts around. This is because we are all sick at the same time. There is no mommy to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. There is no daddy to make animal pancakes. There is no child to cuddle. Ain't nobody here but us TB patients hacking our lungs out and fighting over the fuzzy blanket and the TiVo remote. In a fevered delirium, the Big Guy is desperate to watch an old Cary Grant movie. MomBrain's health depends on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy marathon. And the Little Guy's future therapy bills will be sky high if he can't watch Dora the Explorer. Of course LG always wins, and so we are all learning to count to ten in Spanish and yelling "backpack!" at the top of our scarred, antibiotic-resistant lungs.

Perhaps I will blog some more later, once the drugs have kicked in. Wouldn't that be a fun little experiment!

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Questions for the Ages
Here are some questions from the Little Guy. If anyone knows the answers please tell me because he still thinks I know everything and I am eager to perpetuate that myth until he is 18 at least.

1. Why doesn't the moon fall out of the sky?

2. Why don't fweckles fall off?

3. How can you dwive a hard bargain and a car at the same time?

4. Who is Pwesident Bush?

posted by Marjorie
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Friday, November 14, 2003

Hi! Welcome to my blog! Today we're very excited! And we're using lots of short words! That's cuz I hang out with a three-year-old!

I ate salad for dinner! I like salad! Yummy yummy salad! Do you like salad? I do!

We found a rat in our basement! It was dead! Ewwww! We hate rats! Good kitty kitty!

We read another word today! It was Tonka! Yay! Tonka! Tonka! Tonka!

Okay! Time to go now! Bye! Bye-bye! Bye!

posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Yippee skippee!!! My friend J is pregnant with a boy. Congrats, sweetie -- your son will have the best children's library on the block. And S, too, with number 2! It makes me feel positively nesty. Cluck cluck.

Why do I need to type with my keyboard on my lap? Because my desk is crowded with a fake pear, my high school graduation tassel, a dead campanula, an empty Folger's can, thirty marbles, and enough paper to explain the disappearance of much of the Northwest's old growth forest. Ah, the randomness of unpacking. All the big boxes are done -- the ones with all towels, or all shoes, or all dishes. Now we're down to the smaller boxes that were packed in a panic, the ones filled with unrelated tchotchkes and no small amount of trash. I am not sure why I felt compelled to pack six empty shoeboxes, but I did and now they're flattened in the recycling pile. Old magazines? Half a roll of toilet paper? Broken pencils? The trash man cometh.

Why I Love Living in Seattle
Seattle has a healthy subculture of lawyers-turned-carpenters, and most of them are working on the Money Pit. One carpenter just told me he's teaching a class at a community college that "uses an inter-disciplinary approach to epistemology and the way we see ourselves in the world." One of the painters made his living as a jazz trumpeter for ten years, and still plays the clubs at night. Another carpenter spends all his money on art. They are all estimable human beings, and I'm glad I know them. I also want them to finish up and get the heck out of my house already.

Now Reading
The Big Guy is reading (for the second time) Nick Hornby's "About a Boy." Last night he told me "It's the key to everything! It's the key to our marriage! It's the key to childhood! It's the key to ... to ... everything!!!" So now I am reading it, too, even though I don't want to, because when your spouse of 17 years and the father of your child tells you he just found the key to everything then you'd better hunker down with a cuppa and a blankie and get cracking.

In more reading news, the Little Guy sounded out and read his first word yesterday. It was IKEA. I am not sure this is one for the baby book.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Lesson Learned
Note to other parents: If you are busy and only half listening to your child, who suddenly yells "Hey! Fwag stickers!" drop everything you are doing before $7.80 in stamps is stuck to your kitchen cupboards. Yes, I am the voice of experience.

posted by Marjorie
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Friday, November 07, 2003

As if relations between the Americans and the French were not already strained, I have contributed my own International Incident.

Imagine MomBrain. Imagine that she is at an expensive Italian restaurant, with the Big Guy and a French woman who is his Very Important Colleague. MomBrain must be the Good Wife. Warm but not too warm, friendly but not too friendly, able to hang attentively onto every word as if she actually understands Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and its importance to real-time measurement of linguistic stimuli.

Perhaps you can understand why MomBrain needed wine. Just two itty bitty glasses of Pinot Grigio that are normally no trouble at all. However. Imagine that MomBrain has eaten nothing all day except a bowl of oatmeal and a cupcake. That she exercised hard for an hour and then chased a three-year-old up and down stairs all day. MomBrain is tired. MomBrain is hungry. MomBrain is drunk as a skunk.

By the time I realized I couldn't stand up I was already slurring my words. So I switched to water and concentrated on shutting the hell up. No shlurring of vwords zere, nosirree! All was well and it seemed I would be remembered simply as a crazy rather than drunk American when it was time to "walk" home. I put "walk" in quotes because what I did cannot be truly called "walking." I stumbled. I tripped. I galumphed. Did the Big Guy offer me his arm for balance? No he did not. Crossing a street I missed the curb and went flying, doggie style onto my hands and knees, leftover food all over the road, bloodied pants, and an overly solicitous French woman attending to me while the Big Guy stood so far away that no one could possibly think he was with me.

I brushed myself off and blamed my shoes, tripping my way merrily home, grateful that it was dark. She was nice about it. She joined me in cursing my shoes and the darkness that hid the cracks in the sidewalk. And she struck just the right balance between asking if I was okay and letting me salvage my pride by changing the subject. But I am sure she is telling all her French amis about the crazy drunk woman who fed a $20 caprino pizza to the crows.


posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Sarah Hatter notes that when carrying many items, she always carries them in one hand. I think I can safely assume that Sarah Hatter does not have children. Why, just this morning, as I was walking the Little Guy to preschool, I carried a fire engine lunchbox, a sippy cup of strawberry lemonade (which must stay upright to avoid sticky spillage), a pear with the entire peeling chewed off in little squirrel bites, Herky the Helicopter, a winter jacket size 4T, and my car keys, all while holding LG's hand. Please note that I was not carrying a Mom Purse. But still, my days of walking around the beach in my bikini top, carrying nothing but a Walkman and a Dr. Pepper are so over. But Sarah does give me something to fantasize about, as does Francesca. Sigh.

I do miss those heady days of urban chiquita life, summer Sundays on the Boston Common, nights dancing at the clubs, eating from hot dog stands, working as yet another overeducated Editorial Assistant at a major publisher and worrying that my knees looked fat in my size 5 miniskirt. On the other hand, my memories are perhaps just a tad bit romantic. One day I was hanging out at the Boston Common with my friends Daphne and Bonnie. Daphne was a Raphael princess, all flowing blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes. And Bonnie was a petite gypsy, with black hair and black eyes and an exotic air. A foreign man approached us and said he couldn't help but notice our beauty. (There's a line for ya!!!) To Daphne, he said in his strange accent "You are the sun, the very light of day. You give a man hope; you give his heart wings." And to Bonnie he said "And you are the night, Sister Moon, the pulse of life. You make me want to live." Then he looked at me and said "And you ... you ... you look like a nice girl." Then he fled.

Um, do my knees look fat?

Well. Maybe my urban chiquita days weren't quite Sex in the City. But I'm glad I lived them. And I do miss them. But now we're on to the next chapter, and I suspect that someday I will miss this time, too.

posted by Marjorie
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Monday, November 03, 2003

I have GOT to finish unpacking. I've lost the Universal Translator thingy again and I'm sure it's in a box somewhere. Marital communication is at an all time low. Must find! Must find!

Last night's dinner conversation:

MomBrain: When is your friend arriving?
Big Guy: I don't know.
Little Guy: (not hearing the original question) What you don't know, Daddy?
Big Guy: I don't know how gravity works. Well, actually I do, but I won't detail it right now. I don't know how to reconcile the strong force with the weak force.
Little Guy: What you say?
Big Guy: I don't know how to explain the mystery of entanglement in quantum physics. I don't know how to detect solar neutrinos.
Little Guy: May I please be excused?
MomBrain: My thoughts exactly.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, November 01, 2003

And Another Thing ...
If you ever hear yourself asking what is wrong with this country, MomBrain has the answer!!!

According to Colorado State University, the average entry-level Zookeeper makes $28,000 a year. And yet, also in Colorado, the average childcare worker makes $12,615.

That's right, folks. We pay people more to take care of animals than we do to care for our children. And Colorado is no exception -- the numbers are comparable around the country.

Think about it.

posted by Marjorie
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Forgive the spotty blogging lately, dear friends. I don't even know where to start with the excuses. The water pipe that burst in my basement? The frenzy of getting ready for a houseguest? The continuing saga of the Money Pit? The preschool tours? Halloween festivities? The five small articles that are due in two days?

Well, no matter my little parsnips, MomBrain is back today with some random thoughts that have been clogging the lint filter in her brain.

Favorite Halloween Moment: A quick lunch stop at a local shopping area was highly amusing -- my waitress wore a tiara, the Starbucks barista was in full Superman regalia, and kiddy pirates and princesses were everywhere. At the next table, though, sat an older priest with a broken nose. Fact or fiction? Uniform or costume? I couldn't tell. He looked very very sad. And I can think of all kinds of reasons why a priest might have a broken nose. But it was a tough call.

Least Favorite Halloween Moment: An anonymous Secret Pumpkin carpetbombed my neighborhood with bags of candy and notes telling people to make three more bags and pass along the love. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy, especially since I don't know my new neighbors well. I threw myself into the project, spent lots of money and stayed up late making candy bags because I just love crap like that, Random Acts of Kindness and all that other sentimental sh*t. Then my friend Elizabeth (who also received a bag) noted that these days you can't be too careful, that the candy could have anything in it, that the Secret Pumpkin was nothing more than a chain letter and who has time for chain letters the week before Halloween? I felt like a naive Girl Scout. But she's right, it's a scary world full of scary people and we really do have to keep our filters on, especially because we live in the city and we have children. But it makes me sad and mad that I have to be so cynical. I want the world to be a good place full of good people with good hearts. And I don't like that I have to hide mine.

A fabulous article about literary bootcamps, as opposed to namby-pamby touchy-feely writers' workshops. (Thanks to BookSlut for the link.)

Why do I have to write a four-page essay as part of an application package to get the Little Guy into a good preschool next year? We're not talking Harvard, folks. But the competition is fierce. The Big Guy and I toured the pre-eminent preschool in Seattle this week and were simultaneously appalled and astonished to hear 4-year-olds using words like "hypothesis" and "equation" and "probability." These kids (not even in kindergarten yet) are going to school for a full day and are immersed for most of each day in math and science. But art is only 45 minutes a week, and music is one hour a week. Reading and writing are somewhere in between. Sometimes I just want to beat my puny little head against the wall.

You really must go to And you really must participate.

posted by Marjorie
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