Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A late introduction.

Hey there, dearheart.

I say that to all of my friends. The ones I really love, and the ones I know that I’m going to love. Once you’re in, I become a bit of a stalker.

So, I’m trying my hand at this blog business. I get it that most people don’t care, but I guess it’s the three or so people who birthed me, married me, or held my hand through serious relationship pain that I’m targeting. So...let's meet the family that you've already met!

Today I’m thinking about the fact that I have to force myself to exercise or really do anything to better my well-being. You would think that this sort of objective wouldn’t require much cajoling, but it does. In my lazy, real self world, I would sit with bags and bags of Mint Milanos watching House Hunters (or Two & 1/2 Men, of all shows!) until I learned that I missed the bag of Cheetos behind all the aging Asian food in my pantry that my half Chinese, half Japanese (third-gen American) husband collects (referred hereinafter as "Hub"). Seriously, we have some apparently "perfectly preserved" dried sausages that were purchased in Chinatown in Chicago in 2001. The stuff has made the cut through two cross country moves!

To escape this perpetual food search, and to kid myself that I do have a purpose here, I resort to tricks. I force myself to schedule activities, do errands (a life long endeavor), and – oh – watch my children. It’s a lot easier to do so long as the bathtub isn’t running and I don't feel the need to clean the kitchen....

Anyhoo, wow. I just ran two ½ marathons this summer and fall. Regretfully, my body doesn’t look much better than it did after my little son, T-Bone (or "T"), arrived 18 months ago. Isn’t he tough? He’s not actually. Barely hanging on to the first percentile weight wise, but it’s the nickname my Hub dreams about, all 5 feet, 7inches of him.

We also have my darling daughter, almost-three Dee, who describes herself as the "sis," and manages to finagle the word "purple" into every conversation. Like, when I ask, "Are you a spank?," she'll say, "No, I'm a purple spank."

What else? I often make jokes like I spank my kids, but I don't. I'm not sure why I do it, maybe it's because I was spanked as a kid - and much more often - threatened to be spanked. My parents were and are loving and wonderful, and obviously, I survived. There may even be some colors flying around somewhere....

I guess it is a nervous humor, like toddler potty humor. Like the kind my kids and I freely engage in every time we find ourselves in a drive through coffee line, with plenty of time to make fake toot and fart sounds.

At the moment, I have some fabulous things surrounding my little aura. First among them is the fact that we are expecting our third child, due in August. We had a name for T when he was in utero - Tiny Bun. This one hasn't yet picked up a name. Dee likes to call him/her the "Baby on the Mantle," referring to the rolled up ultrasound pics that reside above the fireplace. Poor third kid. But very much anticipated. Maybe "Dog-Eared Spank" is appropriate.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What would Lincoln do?

On the third of three weekends spent by myself with the kids while Hub worked, I sloshed around this past Sunday with the kids in the Y pool. After a solid hour of making the pool circuit, wherein I held T up front and Dee hung from my shoulders while we scooted around the big mushroom that rains chlorine and avoided the perpetually dumping buckets a few feet over, I finally called it good and we made efforts to get out.

While drying off T, the 18 month old, I had the bright idea to remove his swim shirt and shorts before putting on his baby beach robe, in hopes of warding off hypothermia. Dee took this action as a cue to strip, and promptly had her suit off and was back in the water - naked as a jay bird - before I had opportunity to maneuver the terry cloth over T's little bird arms.

In that same moment, the teenage lifeguard swept over to advise me that disrobing was not allowed "on deck," and that (slimy, open toilet) family changing rooms were available for that purpose. While gripping Dee's arm, my first reaction was not the professional, accommodating, "thank you, it won't happen again," that I aspire to fall upon with Obama-like regularity. Instead, I was instantly defensive, and exclaimed (at least three times), "BUT, he's still wearing his swim diaper...."

Of course T's fig leaf did nothing to assuage Dee's nakedness and our obvious violation of what must be Rule No. 427 of the Y's pool rules. The disappointed lifeguard seized on this weakness in logic, causing me to end the conversation with more defensiveness. Something like, "well, that wasn't intended," and then, finally, "okay."

Wow, I'm smooth. For once in my life, I'd like to avoid turning conversations that do not involve praise for me into something negative, even argumentative. I get that the lawyerly thing courses through my veins, but must I always explain myself? I figured by my mid thirties, humility and the "Serenity Now" principles could help me to keep my mouth shut.

You know, to take the high road, like Abraham Lincoln. While listening to an interview with a Lincoln historian during the "Lincoln's 200!" birthday festivities, I learned that in his day, President Lincoln was often the butt of jokes. Lincoln shook these off with aplomb, however, because he had such a strong sense of self worth. Perhaps that's my problem, then. Self-esteem issues and aggressiveness. No wonder I'm grinding. (:

Friday, February 20, 2009

The nightly grind.

Every other day or so, I play "chase" with my kids. I pretend to be a bear, coming up on all fours from the basement. I "grrrrrrr" at them, and crawl around the corner. They wait for me, get face to face, and then scamper and squeal away. Sometimes they growl back, presumably because they think I'm only half nuts, and will soon return to the comforting tasks of blanket fetching and snack conjuring.

The bear I face at night growls and grinds away at my permanent teeth. It comes from that half nuts part of me that has apparently been driven to the brink by motherhood.

I wasn't always a grinder. I was fitted for a plastic night guard about four years ago, after I'd already made a good dusting of my enamel. Things, and by things, I mean those little white cubes in my mouth that allow me to lead a full and happy life, have only deteriorated since my daughter's birth. At the current moment, as I pamper and avoid paddling the two kids I have, and await the arrival of their sibling, that dang bear attempts to dislodge a tooth on the lower right side from its very roots. My dentist tells me that the cost to repair my own unraveling will range around $30K. My dad tells me that for that price, I could buy a new head.

Today, on the cusp of my second trimester, I learned from my OB that I have actually lost weight since the last appointment. This fact is not a result of morning sickness or loss of appetite, but because of the bear. The grinding has recently caused enough discomfort to keep me from eating. Eating, and all that munching and crunching that it requires, causes my right jaw to ache and radiate pain by dinner time. If I don't head things off with Tylenol well in advance, I might as well settle for a can of Ensure.

I'm not sure what this means. Maybe I'm coming full circle, and will soon be reduced to a baby-esque liquid diet myself. I understand through my anecdotal (and very scientific) research, that the stress of parenting small children can increase teeth grinding. Is my grinding a slow, ugli-fying, and costly form of suicide? Would the treadmill help (please say it isn't so)? Hypnosis?

Does anyone have any other ideas for grrrrring back at the bear?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Peach and peanut butter sandwiches.

Mrs. M, or as my mother fondly called her, "Jean," was my old lady babysitter for a couple of summers when I was 8 or 9. I hated every minute spent with her. And I think my brother will back me up on that sentiment. Except for the one precious day when his friend's mom picked him up early, and the opportunity allowed him a whole afternoon of smug happiness at my expense.

As I said, Jean was old (I feel that I can call her by her first name now that I survived childhood). Also, she was mean. Jean lived in a little house on the side of a busy mountain highway, with her big dogs and her aspen leaves and wildflower-in-resin jewelry projects (God help us if we entered the room where her dried leaves and such were stored).

What I remember about this lady is that she reprimanded me when I laughed. She said that I was too loud. This, about the kid who was always labeled the "shy" one. The "thank goodness her birthday was beyond the cutoff for first grade so she could gain a few months on the other kids," one.

Every morsel of food Jean ever fixed for us made me sick, so much so that every meal ended with at least a dry heave. It was sort of my homage to her. Peach sandwiches were regular sustenance, and when I say "peach," I mean slimy slices of canned peaches, not a big juicy one from Grandma's heirloom tree out back. No, we had fruit cocktail and peanut butter (likely tainted), on wheat bread.

Also, there was nothing to do at Jean's (except laugh to tears). Usually, on warm days, my brother and I would spend as much of the day away from her, in her driveway, digging "scenes" in the dirt with sticks. My favorite was a giant mermaid. Then, when it was time to come in to eat, or when that magic time when "dad was almost here," approached, she marched us to the bathroom for a scrubbing with her infinity bar of homemade soap. My face still feels dry.

Also, we never left the house expect to venture to the woods behind her house to dump her garbage in a hole as big as a quarry pit. Apparently, the hole existed for Jean's trash alone (never mind our fine furried, and not so furried, friends).

Under her vice grip, we also periodically made Frogger-like crossings of the busy highway to get to the post office across the street. Inevitably, when we returned home, we were met with a sea of pee that her dogs would leave on the linoleum that lined every inch of the house.

One day, I came up with a solution to my own problems (the woman could cause a kid to start bed wetting). I brought my trusty baby blanket with me that day. Upon arriving at Jean's, I promptly sat on her vinyl couch, covered my entire person with the blanket, including my head, and feigned sickness until one of my parents came to release us. As a result/reward, I was not forced to eat anything. I thought I really had something. I thought Jean and I had finally struck a working relationship. Unfortunately, the next day, she banned me from the couch and head coverings of any kind.

So the "la-la-la-la, I can't hear you" trick didn't work with Jean. But my pleas to my mother of the honest truth about Jean didn't work either. My mom listened to me, but she didn't do anything to get me the heck out of Dodge. Back then, I couldn't understand why she kept us there, and I didn't really get it, like most things, until I had kids myself. Turns out, mom did Jean's hair, and the babysitting arrangement was likely an in-kind exchange.

At the moment, I'm trying to figure out where, and for how long, I should let my kid go to preschool. My sanity and money, along with D's well being, play a role in the decision. I haven't decided yet if I should send D to the "guaranteed to be an elected official, a saver of the planet, or at least an Elk's scholarship recipient" school, or the other cheaper, "more religious than we are" one that starts early enough for Hub to drop her off (freeing me up to address pressing issues, like breakfast dishes).

I guess before I do anything, I should check the snack menus.