Thursday, February 26, 2004

Did I Dream That or Did It Really Happen?
This morning's conversation with the Little Guy. It was 5:30 AM when I heard little feet scuffing over the carpet toward our bed, and thankfully they landed on the Big Guy's side.

LG: Daddy! I need to talk to you!
BG: *&^%$
LG: Daddy! I need to talk to you!
BG: You need to be quiet. Mommy's sleeping.
LG: (In a stage whisper) DADDY! I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
BG: *&^%$ What?
BG: *&^%$

Once again MomBrain is humbled by her arrogant assumptions. Now that the Money Pit is finished, we have turned our attention to the yard. One of the landscaper guys is about 20, a polite, well-spoken young man who seems smart enough and works incredibly hard. All week I've watched him digging a ditch, and I just want to harangue him about his future, his lack of education, his wasted potential, the path he's on and just where does he think that path leads? Anyway, this morning he showed up alone and I ended up working outside with him, digging up half-dead junk and clearing the front garden. It was good hard work, and I was happier and dirtier than I've been in a long time. We started talking and it turns out he's on a clear path to becoming an ethno-botanist. He ran out of money for school, so he's taking a year off and working two jobs so he can save up for another year of tuition. He went on and on about indigenous species and medicinal herbs and the new medicines coming from the jungle and the trip he wants to take to Africa. I learned a lot from him, and I'm grateful for it. And I will never, ever harangue anyone again. Ever.

Potty Humor
Parents of young children will tell you that 80% of their conversations, thoughts, worries, and dreams are about poop or potty. It's true -- give birth to your first child and by Day 2 you're frantic over the black tar that's emerging from your precious newborn, followed on Day 3 by green sludge, and on Day 4 by yellow mustard. Then a few months later they start eating red beets and carrots, and then the real fun begins.

Well. Enough of that. This is just to say that poop and potty obsession does not stop. So be warned.

Due to preschool peer pressure, we have decided to teach the Little Guy to go potty standing up. But so far it's been a sloppy endeavor, and I'm right back to my teenage job at the Five Star Drive In Restaurant scrubbing urine from the men's bathroom walls. (What *is* it with you guys?) Anyway. This morning I told the Little Guy I'd bought some Potty O's at the store so we could play a game with them in the toilet. (Yeah, they were Cheerios, but I don't want him thinking he can dump cereal in the toilet whenever he needs to pee.) Anyway, we sprinkled the Potty O's in the toilet and dang if my brilliant offspring didn't suddenly have perfect aim. It was one of those weirdly proud mom moments -- there was MomBrain, all misty eyed in the bathroom watching her son pee like a big boy. I was all verklempt.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Little Guy is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. But of course we are the only people who realize this. He emerged from the Hoity Toity Preschool Child Visit covered with red marker. All the other kids were clean and adorable, But LG looked like he'd been playing with razor blades. He has never, ever drawn on himself before, so I couldn't imagine what possessed him. His answer? "The teacher told us to draw ourselves."

The other kids knew that meant to draw pictures on paper. But the Little Guy is extremely literal. So when the teacher said "Draw yourself" ... well, he did. I know the teacher probably sees a crazed boy who made a mess and didn't follow directions. I see a brilliant child who did exactly as he was told, and was proud of himself for using his favorite color. It made me laugh hard, and if the H.T. teachers can't see the brilliance in it, then screw 'em. I love this kid!!!

posted by Marjorie
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MomBrain is in a tizzy trying to find her Good Mommy Uniform. Today is the Little Guy's first official Child Visit at a potential preschool, and I can't help thinking how silly it is -- that the parents will be dressed for competition, knives sharpened and teeth gleaming, while the three year olds roll in the mud. Some of the kids will be well-rehearsed for their performance, most of them will be wearing adorable outfits, and all of them will quickly revert to their usual three-year-old mentality, which is just short of animals in a zoo. And I know at least one of them will be overtired, hungry, and cranky -- the Little Guy, who went to bed late last night and has only recently stopped napping. So we will probably flunk our Child Visit.

More later, but now I must hit the shower and start primping for the competition.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, February 21, 2004

Well this is a fine howdy do. Only 7:45 and both of the Guys are sound asleep. The nap-free Little Guy was down and out by 6:15. And the jet-lagged Big Guy was holding out for 8:00 but didn't quite make it. So it's just little ol' MomBrain, wiggling her tootsies all by herself and contemplating her options. I could stare into the fridge for a while, then shut the door in despair over the lack of anything resembling guilty pleasure. I could watch whatever Audrey Hepburn movie TiVo recorded. I could write a novel, dye my hair, balance the checkbook ... oh the pleasures.

It was a smackdown gorgeous day in Seattle today, sunny and warm enough to trot outside in a sweatshirt. The Little Guy went through four outfits and three jackets rolling around in our dirt pit of a back yard, eating chocolate ice cream, going for a trike ride and otherwise exhausting himself. The Big Guy arrived home from a trip to the other Washington. And I myself finally bought a new printer and scanner -- heaven!!! I have all kinds of projects waiting for these two beauties -- a scrapbook, some family history art, some artsy art. It's taken me weeks to research, choose, and finally buy them. Yeehaw!

I also spent some time being bitter, watching the Oprah show that was being taped while I waited in the 25-degree cold for the horrible second taping. Yes, while I was waiting for the Show of Death, the morning audience was giggling with Donald Trump, Beyonce Knowles, Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, and Vindala. They also walked away with something from a box labeled "Butt Paste Booty Dolls" which I am afraid to Google. The show was broadcast yesterday, and I spent the entire hour glaring at the TV and trying not to throw things.

posted by Marjorie
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Thursday, February 19, 2004

It Starts Early
Today's conversation with the Little Guy, on our way home from preschool where he and one little girl were the only kids at lunch.

LG: I told Eleanor she's a smoochie poo.
MB: You WHAT? What did she say?
LG: She said I'm a smoochie poo, too.
MB: Did you know smoochie poo means kissy face?
LG: No it doesn't. It means hewicopter piwot.

posted by Marjorie
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Hello, my darling cockapoos, and please pardon my recent absence from the blogosphere. Much is happening -- a weekend visit from Sister N and her kidlets, plus a whirlwind trip to Chicago to visit my pal Oprah.

Sister N's visit was a 2-day lovefest of indulging the kids. At the mall, my 13-yr-old niece and her friend were at their catty, snarky best, wearing pajama bottoms and Cleopatra eyeliner and shredding all the fashion wannabes in the Glamour Do and Don't game.* A trip to the Space Needle amusement park was a hit with everyone. And the Little Guy and 7-yr-old Girly Girl disappeared for the entire weekend, playing beautifully together and needing only occasional adult intervention.

* You don't know how to play this game??? Go to the mall with your cattiest friend. Find a good people watching perch. Using eye movements only, find your victim and say Do or Don't to your partner. Feel free to offer a professional critique.

Finally, Oprah. The show itself was a massive disappointment. No celebs, no makeovers, no freebies. The show was about mothers whose children have died. LIKE I NEED TO SEE THAT. I spent the entire show crying with my face buried in my hands or in K's shoulder. The thing is, you don't know what the show is about when you get tickets. Or when you stand in line for five hours. Or when they finally usher you into a waiting area where there is no bathroom and nothing but a crappy vending machine for sustenance. Or even when you get into the studio. They wait until the last possible moment to tell you what's going to happen, and then you can't leave. I felt manipulated and coerced, and very very sorry for the pregnant woman sobbing behind me.

Thank goodness everything else about the trip was fun fun fun. Even waiting in line was a good time, dancing and singing Twist and Shout in the 25-degree cold, flirting with the security guys, and making bathroom and hot chocolate runs to a fabu coffeeshop down the road. My sisters and I resolved to do it again -- that show was just too dreadful, and dammit, we want some giveaways. Or at least a peek at Mel Gibson.

posted by Marjorie
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Saturday, February 14, 2004

A Valentine Poem
by MomBrain
(with help from the Acme Heartmaker)

posted by Marjorie
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Friday, February 13, 2004

My Book Report by MomBrain

And now for a complete change of subject, since Woodge wants an update on the books I've been reading. I am not sure why -- his noggin is way bigger than mine and he reads way faster. But here ya go.

The Bitch in the House by Cathi Hanauer. 26 essays about marriage, motherhood, sex, singlehood, or other conditions of being an American female. I LOVED this book, even though a lot of my friends hated it. But I'm a voyeur at heart, and I usually like slice-of-life books -- Gig is another favorite in this vein.

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. Please do not make me say this again. And I must be insane -- Angels and Demons and Deception Point are now resting comfortably on my reading shelf.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom. Weird. Definitely weird. I read it under duress, when I ran out of books on vacation. But it was mercifully short and thought provoking, and I ended up recommending it to Sister L.

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. I tried. I really tried. But I got through Chapter One and decided I was too tired and impatient to read 30 pages about the direction of the Salinas River. I'm in USA Today mode these days -- Salinas River. North to south. Ends in Monterey. Bad mountains west. Good mountains east. Got it!!! NEXT!!! Someday I will actually read this book. I have quotable quotes from it pasted in my journal from college -- it's truly a beautiful book. But my puny little brain just can't contain it right now.

Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs, by Cheryl Peck. Now this is more like it!!! The memoir of an extremely large woman, it's written with humor and compassion. The writing itself is hit or miss -- sometimes hysterical, sometimes embarrassing. But I appreciated the success story behind it -- she originally self published the book for friends and family. But someone at Warner got wind of it and it's now #5,920 on Amazon. You go, girl!

The Weight of It: A Story of Two Sisters by Amy Wilensky. Hm. Not sure what's up with the fat books lately, but this one's good, too. Another memoir, this one written by the sister of a morbidly obese woman who loses 200 pounds. All about changing family dynamics. Less funny, more insightful than Lawn Chairs. A good read, but wish I'd waited for paperback. #5,854 on Amazon.

posted by Marjorie
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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

If you've come here to have a little laugh, then go somewhere else. Today is not about laughing. Today is not about fluffy nonsense. Today is not about the trivial absurdities that stick in my lint filter of a brain.

Today is about asking the entire population of the world, every single person on this planet, to stop asking me when I am going to have a second child. Well, actually, it's the polite ones that ask. The rude ones tell me I must have a second child, that I'm being selfish by having only one, that I'm condemning the Little Guy to a life of loneliness. When told that we cannot have a second child, they lecture me about the moral superiority of adoption, remind me that lightning does strike twice, tell me that since I can clearly afford it I should rush back to Dr. StrangeLove and stick more needles in my stomach and have more surgery and ride the hormone rollercoaster that is fertility treatment.

No. No. No.

I am so tired of explaining, defending, and apologizing for the size of my family. So, a massive "bugger off" to ...

    The "friend" who hid a dirty diaper in my glove compartment for luck.

    The manicurist who held me hostage with sharp implements while lecturing me about the many blessings of large families.

    The housekeeper who regaled me with tales of international adoption and the selfishness of trying to conceive when children are starving in Africa.

    The preschool teacher who tried to convince me that it's so much easier with two and that it's not too late to try.

    The so-called friend who wished me happy birthday by reminding me that my ovaries aren't getting any younger.

    The many, many people who have told me to sleep on the beach or go on vacation or a million other ways to "just relax."

Put simply, the number of children I have and the way I have them is my business. So ...

    To the rich, smart, beautiful friend who doesn't want any children, you have my full support.

    To the borderline poor friend who has seven children and wants to try for number eight, you have my full support.

    To the single-mom friend who has adopted one child and decided not to adopt a second, you have my full support.

    To the friend with cancer who has conceived twins through a surrogate, you have my full support.

    To the family with two mommies who just adopted a little girl, you have my full support.

    To the friend who just sold her car to raise money for a fourth attempt at IVF, you have my full support.

    To the friend who is committed to inter-racial adoption, you have my full support.

Now. May I please have yours?

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The birthday shenanigans began early yesterday, with MomBrain terrorizing the city of Seattle in search of a staple gun, duct tape, rubber cement -- anything to stop my %^&$@% bra straps from falling down. You manly types don't know the irritation of bra straps confining your upper arms, but trust me, it's enough to make me rip everything off in a frenzy. (Um, maybe not.) Anyway, I spent the morning with my hand in my shirt, pulling up my bra straps and cursing the washing machine for ruining my favorite bra. Uh, until it was time to change into my exercise clothes, when I discovered that I was wearing my bra inside out. Oh yes. Poor MomBrain was so very very tired this morning that she got all turned around, and so did her bra. Or perhaps it's a sign of early Alzheimers, making an especially poetic appearance on my birthday.

Speaking of which, the Little Guy gave me the best birthday gift of all when he insisted on putting 16 candles in my birthday cake because I am 16 years old. Wahoo!

One of these years I will be awake enough to write something more meaningful than this drivel. Like an in-depth analysis of Paris Hilton's book proposal. "Words by Paris Hilton!"

posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Birthday Toots
Happy birthday to me... Happy birthday to me... Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeeeeeee... Well, you get the idea. The Big Day is Monday, and here at MomBrain HQ the festivities are in full swing. A birthday cake is chilling in the refrigerator. The guest room door is firmly closed. My new cell phone (thanks BG) chirps in my pocket. And the Little Guy has already laid claim to helping me open all of my presents.

For the time being, though, I am not at MomBrain Headquarters. The Big Guy has given me the gift of time -- time to sleep, read, write, and navel gaze. So I am ensconced in a downtown hotel by myself for the weekend with nothing but a laptop, a toothbrush, and a pile of books. Ah, heaven.

This hotel is small and private, a little spot of Europe in the heart of Seattle. Actually it's more like the American idea of Europe, which is to say charming and quaint but with all the luxuries we spoiled Amerikans expect. The rooms are tiny and the decor is decidedly French Country. And the pedestal sink is charming. Check check check. But I have a shower. And a double bed. And cable TV. And there's an elevator. And room service. I don't think we're in Kansas, Dorothy, but neither are we in London. In all my travels through Europe I have never once had those amenities -- a bathtub, twin beds, and a rabbit-eared snowy-screened TV are the norm. And don't even get me started on three-story hotels with no elevators. Room service is a broiled tomato breakfast in the common room. And a private bathroom will cost you something extra. Now, I can pee in a public bathroom, though it's not my favorite place to do my bidness. But there's something icky about padding down the hotel hallway in your bathrobe so you can take a bath and brush your teeth while a line (oops, sorry -- "queue") forms outside the door.

posted by Marjorie
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Friday, February 06, 2004

News from my fishing partner, Ruth, who is working in a theater in Holstebro, Denmark and living her life more truly and deeply than anyone I know. She's only been there a week, so she's in that awkward early stage with no friends, no routines, and a language barrier. So in her words she is "logging on to as if it's a cigarette on which I'm taking long hungry drags." Hey, glad I could help you there, Ruth!!!

She also asks if I'm depressed, finally exhaling and lying down all the way now that the workers have left and the Money Pit is done. The short answer is Yes and No. The long answer is Yes because jeez, I'm always depressed - I think I've been depressed my entire life, and I ought to just get some Vitamin P and get over it. Depression is like the air I breathe - it's in every cell in my body, 24/7. It affects my physical health, my outlook on life, and all of my relationships. But No, I'm not any more depressed than usual -- I'm just tired. So tired. The kind of tired that collapsing brings, after a year of housing insanity capped by the holidays and traveling with a Monkey Boy strapped to my back. I'm the kind of tired that needs a warm beach and a cool drink and nice little cabin where I can snooze at will, with no power drills droning away in the background.

Rays of Sunshine
On a more cheerful note, there's a pig living on my roof. A farting pig. As in, a pig that farts. Actually it's a weathervane in the shape of a pig, but it's perched on the roof directly over the head of my bed, and being about 35 years old it's just a tad bit squeaky and rusty. At night when the wind blows it groans and squeals and ... farts. Loudly. That's the only way to describe it.

So, the bleary eyed Big Guy has mounted a campaign to remove the pig. But I am resistant. I like the pig because the groaning and scraping reminds me of snowplows. If you ask me, the sound of a snowplow in the middle of the night is one of the most comforting sounds on earth. As a child in Maine, I would lie awake at night during snowstorms and worry until I heard the snowplow scrape by. Then I could relax because I knew someone was taking care of us. Even now, in my worst insomniac moments, the pig farts and I relax. It makes me happy. Small things, I tell you, small things.

posted by Marjorie
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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I want a long nap.

I want a massage, possibly with hot stones, which I've heard about but never tried.

I want my dad to visit so he can replace the burned out light bulbs in my kitchen and bathroom, plus figure out what smells in my basement shower.

I want to know why my fingers and toes hurt so much all the time.

I want a personal assistant to get me another desk from Ikea, take my cat to the vet, and organize my tax papers.

I want a housekeeper to dust the shelves on my stairwell, bring the Christmas boxes to the basement, and scrub the rust stain out of my kitchen sink.

I want it to stop raining so I can cross the swamp that is my back yard.

I want to sleep just one night without waking up at 4:00.

I want a magic nose like in "Bewitched" so I can just wiggle away the remaining boxes. And the extra 20 pounds.

I want, I want, I want.

posted by Marjorie
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Sunday, February 01, 2004

Greetings, mes petite potatoes. MomBrain et famille are back from our ski trip, but not without a few good stories. Sadly, I am too tired to tell them, but they include a snowmobile crashing into a parked car, skiing in a white-out blizzard, naked girls in a hot tub, a herd of buffalo (not the same as the girls in the hot tub), a fainting ten-year-old, a map eaten by acid, Sister L's best imitation of a penguin belly-sliding down an entire blue trail, and many, many bruises. Ah yes, just another vacation in the MomBrain household. Perhaps next year's will be more exciting.

Tomorrow I get my life back. The Money Pit is done. The workers are gone. The holidays are over. The Little Guy goes back to preschool. And for only the third time in four months I will have time to myself for several hours. And I get it again the next day. And again the next day. And again the next day. Time to sleep. Shower. Read. Write. Keep the many promises I have made and put off. And did I mention sleep?

posted by Marjorie
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