Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Prince Charming

I mentioned a while back that Stink had some blinking issues and there was concern of Tourettes. Turns out that his blinking is just that - blinking. He has very bad allergies and some days are worse than others.

But today we heard the final news, from a very good doctor, that Stink is an extremely healthy, happy and sensitive kid that's doing just fine. His intelligence level is, in fact, above the charts for his age. (Though a career as a professional basketball player seems unlikely. Which is fine with me. I hate those uniforms. And the road trips? Who needs 'em.)

On days like today, I wish my dad were around. He'd have loved the car ride to the different appointments, the chatting with the patients in the waiting room. I can see him striking up a conversation with the charge nurse who was wearing a Jewish star..."I see you're a member of the tribe. Have you heard the one about a nurse, a patient and a rabbi...?"). He'd have waited with baited breath for the reports back from the doctors, and tagged along for the official visits to 7-11 for a celebration nosh afterwards. And yet, with my son's ability to laugh and make people feel welcome, I know my dad is indeed part of Stink's life.
Let's just hope Stink doesn't start scheduling his life around 60 Minutes. That'd just be freaky.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Priority Male

So ya'll know how I adore my kids, but I adore my working life, too. And sometimes I get all crazy trying to do too much.

But I think... drum roll please... I might be in a good place right now. It's about two words: Priority Mail.

Many of you know my addiction to resale shopping. Little by little, however, I've started turning a profit at it through Ebay. (I'm slowly working on my own website which will come equipped with a weekly newsletter and advertising. Make no bones about it... the Pimping Mama P is not too far away.)

My point: I love it. I sell about 9 items/week - not enough to keep me from living in a cardboard box if Rex gets hit by a bus on his way to a Star Trek Convention. But enough to know that this is something I am really good at and, with time and focus, can increase my profits.

I was making about fifty dollars/month on postage by shipping via First Class. What I was losing, however, was my sanity. Two kids at a post office on a Friday with lines out the door and fries threatening to land on Cranky Gramp's bad hair piece doth not a happy Mama P make.

And so, three Vodka tonics later and lots of bad fart jokes with Rex this weekend, I came to the firm conclusion to start charging Priority Mail prices for my shipping. In doing so, I can log into the USPS website 24 hours in advance and they will pick up my mail for me. I will lose a bit on my profits, but in the long run, I am hoping keep myself from running down the cul de sac naked, a bottle of Zoloft in one hand, a cell phone to the wacky unit in the other.

Rex is currently scouring the internet for a label maker for me. With some streamlined time, I can up my inventory and eventually make a bit more.

This is where the Priority Male title comes in. Rex does what he needs to do to make his life easy. I used to think he was selfish, but really, he isn't any more selfish than I allow him to be. And frankly, I am often not selfish enough. When I take time for myself (the nails, for example... did them this morning) I feel so much better. And in feeling better, I am better equipped to handle the day. And I'm lucky to have a husband who is happy when I'm happy. Thank you, Rex!

In closing, I think there's a balance between asking what you need from your partner, but also taking care of yourself. I used to think "Oh, I'll never be one of those women who gets her nails done" bla bla bla. But you know what? When I start making more and more money on my business, I will be one of those women.

I'm going to teach Pipsqueak to take care of herself also. Just today we did our nails together. They aren't perfect (like the litle smear? Notice it's on the middle finger? Watch your comments...) but they're nice. Am I pushing make-up on a toddler? Heck no. But I do intend to show her, through daily example, that it's okay for "us girls" to make ourselves feel good - whether it be with curls and bows, a fresh soccer uniform, or new Dora tee shirt ("new" meaning bought for 25 cents at Half-Off Salvation Army Day... I'm about pampering, but I'm still a cheap ass!)

I'm hoping I'll teach Pip to be a confident gal who treats herself as well as any other Priority Male in this world. (With her bed head hair, she's going to need all the positive reinforcement she can get.)

What are all of you doing to make yourself a Priority?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Not Even the Remote-est Clue

My mother worries about the stories I tell to the kids. I call it creativity, she calls it a bit out there.

Take my "third eye" as a case in point. Ever since Stink really came into his rowdy namesake, I've kept him amazingly in line by telling him that I can see everything he does through my third eye.

This used to involve me looking into a rear view mirror and describing him throwing his goldfish crackers on the floor. As he got older and started getting wise to my tricks, I'd simply squint, or wear sunglasses, and remark on the apple juice he was dripping into the turtle tank. Now I rely mostly on sounds, occasional screams, and the ever ominous spells of silence.

While I drew the line at taking a rubber ball out of my back pony tail and giving it to him for his share day, I haven't been ready to confess the truth about my optical power. I'm thinking if Santa can fly and the Easter bunny can hop, why can't Mama P keep her kids safe with the power of mind control? It works for cults. And hypnotists. And John Edward.

Life was going along very smoothely with my baby blanket of lies, until today...

When we couldn't find the remote...

And the idea of facing a day without the television... was enough to induce hives. Or at least a good case of Diet Coke withdrawl shakes.

Since Stink was the last one in the tv room, I asked him where he thought it might be. His response? "I don't know, Mommy. Why don't you have your magic eye find it?"

With all due respect to my 76 year old mother, SHUT UP, MOM. Just SHUT. UP.

Lucky for me, I'm quick on my feet. I told him that his grandmother has a magic eye, too, and it flew in last night to surprise my magic eye with a trip to Disneyland. They only had two days to use the senior discount, so time was of essence. (I might not have seen Spiderman III yet, but I can still spin a pretty good web.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hey, It's Dark In Here

After two long weeks of swimming bootcamp, Stink still refuses to open his eyes in the water. His teacher even tried giving him a pair of goggles. No dice.

Teacher: "Stink - you are swimming in the dark. Doesn't that bother you?"

Stink: "No. I'll open them when I'm five."

Teacher: "Oh, no! That will be too late!"

Stink: "I can wait."

I had to admire his defiance. No amount of coaching, encouragement, or bribery was going to get that kid to budge. But it did get me thinking about my own form of swimming through life. I can paddle and kick and sweat and pound until I'm blue in the face, but if my eyes are shut, what the hell difference is it going to make?

And so, I'm opening my eyes more and more these days and figuring out what I love the most. Perhaps I'll drop some activities and join some new ones. Perhaps I'll get a new set of businesscards. Perhaps I'll try on a new haircut for kicks and giggles. All I know is that I'm ready to take off the floaties and start diving in.

Eyes open.

How about you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PMS - Pardon My Speech

WARNING: If the following sentence were a jogger, it would win the Olympics gold medal for the run-on. Continue at your own risk:

Today was one of those days where I prepared crazy fast lunches to get Stink to school on time, but only before I made crazy fast breakfasts and dressed everyone crazy fast and prepared crazy fast snacks and after school drinks because there would be no time to stop at home after school before swim lessons because I had to take Pip to Grandma Stellas and then go to the car dealership only to find out what I thought was wrong was indeed not wrong but something else was and cell phone reception stunk so I couldn't finish my interview for a query I'm almost done with and then I had to get Pip again and then get my mom and then pick up Stink and then do lessons and then drop Mom off and then come home and make dinner and talk to Rex and clean up together before he rushed off to buy car parts and I read to the kids and dressed them and brushed teeth and stuck them in bed and I hit a wall.

Well, technically it was dresser. And I screamed....

"God Damnit!"

Earlier today I had one of my prouder parenting moments when I screamed at Stink "Shut up for one secoooooond!"

Kind of a nice little bookend, don't you think? The Shut up, followed by crazy fast, followed by God Damnit!!!?

I apologized to Stink later this evening, explaining that, "Mommy should not have said either of those things."

He looked at me with big eyes and said... no joke..."But I still love you."

I guess with that kind of encouragement I can try again tomorrow.

But I do hate this run-around... it's not me. And so, I offer up this prayer to the deity I just insulted at full volume:

Dear God -

First off, sorry for yelling at you earlier. But could you have warned me about the dresser before it hit me in the elbow? The fact that it hasn't moved in the seven years we lived here has nothing to do with it. If you can move mountains, you can move a piece of cheap ass laminate, too.

And as far as wanting my kids to succeed... that means making them healthy and happy. But if neither of them turned out to be soccer stars, which would keep me from being a crazy soccer carpooling mom, potentionally yelling to kids other than my own to "SHUT UP!" and ruining my already less than angelic reputation at my kids' Catholic school, I would be okay with that.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Painting A New Picture

Today Pipsqueak couldn't find her Dora bike. I figured she left it in the yard, or maybe on the side. But sure enough, that pink metal-tetunus-waiting-to-happen-four-wheeler was nowhere to be found.

My first instinct (and I'm not proud of this) was, "Some manual laborer drove past our house, went into our garage and took my kid's bike!"

My second instinct (and I'm equally not proud of this) was, "That painter who's working on our place... I don't trust him. He is messy and too complimentary and a slippery fish. He figures we have dough and told some buddy of his about the bike."

In a huff, I emailed Rex.

Sidenote: If my left arm had been cut off and I phoned him in hysteria, I would get a response three days later, asking me if I'd properly tied the wound before calling ER. But email him about a leaf hitting the ground in Maine? Instant response.


Rex: "I hung it over my work bench to make room for the ladder."

Of course. How logical.

So then I feel really bad. And judgemental. And predictably, silly. We have a JBL stereo system hooked up, and some really nice tools. And all my Ebay inventory. Why would someone creep into our garage in broad daylight to nab a $35.00 K-mart item?

It's so easy to jump to conclusions. And though I didn't accuse anyone directly, it was a little reminder to not judge a book by its cover.

So later today, after buying some new rocks for our turtle (pink of course... guess who was shopping with me?) I gave my change to a homeless lady in the parking lot - which I NEVER do. Will she use them for drugs? All 75cents?! Shouldn't she have a job like everyone else? Shouldn't she go to a shelter and get rehabilitated? Maybe all three?

Or maybe she was a mom once who lost her way, and isn't so lucky to have someone painting her house and creating false stories in the comfort of a flat screen tv and a nice computer.

All this analysis is simply too much for me on a Monday night. Which is why, once again, I'm off the bandwagon and sipping a Diet Coke at 9pm. I'm an addict.

Don't jump to conclusions on me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm Defying Gravity - Who's With Me?

I'm Wicked... How 'Bout You?

I saw Wicked last night and it blew me away.

And so, this post is dedicated to anyone who has ever felt different. To those of you with flaws that are really hidden talents.

Music to come later this week. If I'm ever going to figure out how to play audio, now's the time.


"If you care to find me
Look to the western sky!

As someone told me lately:
'Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!'

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free

To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am
Defying gravity

I'm flying high
Defying gravity

And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz

No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lilo and Bitch

I have an understanding with my kids. They can rent DVDs from the library as long as they always take out the same amount of books as their age. For Stink, this means 4. For Pip, this is 2. I don't care if they're books on ants, dinosaurs, warts or the same Dr. Seuss book my daughter always gets for the mere fact that the cover is hot pink. As long as every night we climb into my bed and and talk about what we see on the page.

As it happens, tonight Stink looked at a T-Rex, pointed a finger at me and shouted "Bam! That dinosaur is dead!"

I reminded him that the dinosaur was, indeed, extinct. Stink: "He stinks? Why?" Me: "Extinct. No longer here." I then asked him why he was shooting his finger like a weapon.

He reminded me about the alien fight scene from Lilo & Stitch - the DVD he rented yesterday from our local branch. I thought back to how irritated I was this morning when I saw that scene.

For lack of sounding like a Bible belting Tipper Gore freak, I'm beyond irritated. Our kids have only so much time before they're grown up. Yes, I want them well rounded and educated. Yes, they're going to see this stuff at school. Or on playdates. But I don't think playing cops and shooting for fun is going to help shape their moral backbone either. It's not okay to slander other ethnicities, sexualites or genders. Why is it okay to trivialize blasting the crap out of other people?

I'm not stuck on many things, but playing with guns for the fun of it? No way, man. And when I next walk into that library, I'm going to give the librarian my opinion.

Right after I swallow my bran flakes and clean my reading glasses.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Swimming Upstream

After this week, I have new empathy for the harried soccer mother.

Both Stink and Pip have begun their bootcamp swim lessons. For two weeks straight, five days a week, they paddle, kick, blow bubbles and dunk. Of course this means ten days of me preparing snacks, cleaning swimsuits, and adjusting to the idea that we can't lounge forever in the book section of the mall if that's where our mood finds us. I've also met some super nice moms and seen some kick ass kids strutting their stuff.

As I finally come up for air tonight, pun intended, I am appreciative of many things: the ability to pay for lessons, the courage of my kids to dive into new territory with unabashed passion, and the boring life I sometimes complain about. There are people out there who fight the rat race every single day - not just the rare two week period that I am conforming to. I realize how blessed I am to have the luxury at 10:15 am to still be in pajamas (whether they're old and faded and my dishes are still in the sink, I'm home.) Many a cold day I have let my kids take warm baths (pretending it's the beach) for hours at a time. Many occasions we've been lucky to plan a day at the park only to change our minds last minute and head toward the beach "just because."

It's true what they say about how you don't know what you have until it's gone... whether it be relationships, health, or in my case, time (even if "time" is spent with kids rather than alone.)

Translation: I realize sometimes what a whiny bitch I can be, and I vow to not only remember my blessings, but be there for moms who might need a hand in the future.

And finally, I am so grateful to Rex who works his ass off to not only provide a life for me, but is working so hard at remembering to thank me for what I bring to this life, too.

Question: Did I ever think I could have such perspective on motherhood? On marriage?

Marriage: Did Pip and Stink ever think they could swim without floaties?

Life is a trip. Like those pool signs, sometimes we have to remember to walk (not run) in order to remember what's important. And when we forget, thank God for our family and friends. What would we do without our life rings?

What are you thankful for these days? Anything?

PS: Remind me of this post in a few weeks when my period hits and I am ready to kill everyone and book a flight to Jamaica. At least I won't have to worry about my kids drowning while I'm gone.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Flower Power

With Pipsqueak out of diapers (except for night time coverage... think Niagara Falls meets a box of Charmin) I have extra money left over. I could spend it on some exotic fruit for a gourmet recipe. A nice wine for one of Rex and my Friday cooking extravaganzas. Perhaps a new coffee table or a class for the kids?

But I have opted for flowers. My children might get sucker punched by everyone else in the school whose mothers send them to toddler karate, but Pip and Stink will have a nice arrangement to stare out while I ice them down.

As far as getting some updated magazines, I'm still working on that one. (Real Simple is from October... any takers?)

What are some of the things you treat yourself to, or want to?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mothers Day

Everyone has different ideas about Mother's Day.

For some, it's about honoring the woman that loved us unconditionally.

For some it's about being disappointed that we didn't get as much time off as we thought we deserved.

For some it's about bragging that we got an entire day off.

For some it's about cursing under our breaths as we shell out three bucks on a consumer driven holiday to thank the bitch that raised us.

For some it's about mourning the loss of the maternal figure that is no longer here to love us, yell at us, or laugh with us.

I'd like to propose the concept that this year we make every day Mother's Day. But in contrast to the examples above, I propose that we women stop looking externally for answers as to why we turned out like this or that and simply become mothers to ourselves. No need to go to Russia or China to fill out paperwork. Beginning today, let's adopt ourselves. Whether it be a class, a pedicure, a new haircut or a job... we owe ourselves the opportunity to be an unconditional cheerleader to the innocent daughter in all our souls.

How's that for a new holiday?

PS: Regardless of my alternative look at this national holiday, I am all for butt coverage, so here goes: Mom, Oma, Grandma Stella - thank you for being so wonderful to me and my children. It means more than I can put into words. (Coming from someone who can write until she's blue in the face? That's saying something.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kind of Cheesey

Every night after prayers I tell the kids a story.

Me: One day, Momma and Papa--

Stink: And Scooby and Shaggy

Pip: And Dora and Boots--

Stink: And Super Dog and Snoopy--

Pip: And Oma and Grandma N--

Stink: And Grandma Tella & Nathan and--

Me: Everyone we ever knew in our entire life--

Pip: Yeah! Everyone!

Stink: But not monsters.. only the good kind---

Me: Okay, not monsters... But what we might think are monsters might be good things in disguise, but that's a story for another time, so my point is... that we all went for a walk....

From there I tend to weave in things that we did that day. For example, on the way to school yesterday, I gave them what I believed to be mozarella cheese, but it turned out to be parmesean. Lots of spitting, faux barfs and raspberry blubbering ensued.

Me: So one day EVERYONE went to a cheese factory. And while they were there, Scooby and Shaggy discovered a HUUUUGE piece of parmesean cheese. Stink and Pip freaked the heck out and hid behind a slice of light yellow cheese. But it turns out it was swiss cheese, so it was easy to see them in the holes. Super Dog spotted them first and squirted them with his hydrant full Cheese Wizz. There was so much orange goo that the only way for them to get out of it was to eat it up. It was okay, but after all that processed food, they wanted real grub. So Mama, with the help of all the grandmas, made pesto.

Stink: MMMMM..... I love pesto.

Me: Me, too. Then Dora and Boots told them what was in the pesto: Parmasean cheese! Stink and Pip couldn't believe it, but then Mama told them that parmasean is like people: Sometimes if you deal with it by itself it appears too difficult to handle. But if you offset them with other flavors of people, they can be not only tolerable, but a wonderful addition. One person alone, like parmesean, can not fill up a person.

Stink: That's right, Mommy. But we can also take all the parmesan cheese out and blast the monsters with it and eat only the good stuff ourselves!

I'm thinking they'll appreciate my life lessons later.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fire! Fire!

Today has been a lazy day of organizing the house, my thoughts and getting some mail out the door. The kids have managed to get through lunch without throwing food or poking each other in the eye with our new plastic cutlery.

We've had lots of local fires raging. As I type this, I am forced to look within at my own personal fires and wonder how much of them I cause myself. Am I an arsonist? Or simply someone who, like many of the fires of late, have inadvertantly dropped matches on other peoples' hillsides. Probably a little of both. But with my new torch of being honest, I'm hoping that when the heat subsides, new growth can occur. It's all too exhausting to not be upfront.

On the homefront, however, the candles are burning bright. My children are healthy. And I'm feeling the warm fire of peace as I inch closer toward my goals and my purpose. I am blessed for this warmth and heat when so many others have so little.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Family Tree

This weekend we were blessed with a new family member. None other than... a tree.

I don't know what it is about plants that my husband goes so crazy for, but he will research through an almanac, hunt through various stores, smell, sniff and then, only then, will he take one home.

Then he surveys.

Then he digs.

Then he plants.

If he's lucky, little rugrats will help. Or big rug rats will make fun of him.

I try to see the spiritual side of gardening - the growth, the roots, the tilling, the beauty. But truth be told? The roots I love to plant are with words. My queries are my flowers these days. And so I water. I wait for the right temperature to strike, I talk to them lovingly, then I send them off. Today was a big day in the garden for me - let's hope I get big bulbs from it soon!

Meanwhile, I can't say I hate trees. I like them. From a distance. Fifty floors up from a Central Park highrise. A lush apartment full of prints of, what else? Trees.

Did any of you gain any new family members this weekend?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Happy Mothers Day to Me

Okay, so I'm the first to complain about lack of time to myself. About housework. About not making my own money... YET.

But then I have a moment where I see my little Pipsqueak not only wanting to help with the dishes (which usually means making a bigger mess than when she started) but actually putting them away correctly. Unlike her mother, she knows to seperate small forks from big forks. She seperates spoons from knives. She even recognized that one needed to go back in the washer (see photo.)

How did someone that used to be in me become such an individual person? How is she so sure of who she is? And how exactly can she muster such enthusiasm for the mundane chores of life?

Yes, mothers teach their kids. But what I'm realizing now is how much our kids teach us.

Pipsqueak, if you're reading this thirty years from now, I pray you are as much of a sweet, intelligent, ball busting diva as you are right now. (Then again, with me as your mother, you don't have much choice. And if you think a handwritten note is enough sentiment for Mothers' Day, think again. I'm a size 12 and like gift cards.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Unhappy Birth Day

I try not be a bitch.

I fancy myself a Christian.

I consider myself open minded.

That all said, here's my top thoughts about people who post water birth photos on the internet:

1. If you're going to have a baby in your living room, can you at least take out all the filing cabinets and fold the laundry?

2. If your husband MUST get in the tub with you, can he at wear something besides Dolphin shorts?

3. Is it me, or does this mother look no older than a fifth grader?

4. Speaking of, is that really a woman, or is it the understudy for Peter Pan?

5 Does anyone care that the drapes and the carpet don't match? When you add placenta, the shit is going to hit the fan.

6. Does the midwife have to look like the head teacher from Crochet 101?

7. If you're going broadcast your va-jay-jay to every freak on the planet (nudity photos spared) can you at least tidy up down south? Oh wait, Mom needs to prove to us that she is, indeed, at least 13.

I don't care what anyone says about Kaiser. It was clean, I had an epidural, I got to wear a clean gown, and Rex knew his place: at the side of the bed, ready to get a Diet Coke for me at a moment's notice.

Did anyone have a water birth at home? And if so, did you at least vacuum first? I'd like to know.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My New Car

Sunday my dear friend, Mrs. V, had a fireman themed party for her 4 year old. And in a classic "Only in L.A." moment, a real firetruck arrived one hour later, sirens blazing, horn honking. I don't know if the dads or the kids were more excited, but within moments they were all up on the vehicle, strapping themselves in for a fifteen minute excursion around the Valley.

Most of the moms stayed behind, cameras posed for the big return. Me? Not so much. I know a quiet moment when it comes along (even if it's in the form of a bright red ringing monstrocity)... I hightailed it to the back porch where, for 15 minutes, I enjoyed a cool beer and a pool view.

Someone dial 911! It's a relaxation emergency!

PS: Yep, that's me up there. I'm sticking true to my point of wearing red, vintage and accessorizing. I hope you are all doing something you love, also. We might not change the world with our little goals, but we can change our attitudes (which, hey, just might change the world - one bracelet at a time!)