Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Eyed Peas and Cabernet

Let me just tell you this: being almost 41 years old rocks!  Recently I was having a conversation with a good friend about age.  Both of our birthdays are comin' soon to a theatre near us, and we were lamenting a bit about how body parts just don't work as efficiently as they once did - or look the same, for that matter.  But we both had a laugh and agreed that it's all character building and doesn't really matter. 
Then a little later during the conversation, it dawned on me that I hadn't yet told her how great it is to get to forty - she's approaching the turn soon, but not quite yet.  This is what I told her: On the day of your fortieth birthday, a little alarm sounds off in your brain and commands all of your insecurities and personal confidence issues to stand down.  It's true!  It's very peculiar and often you don't even realize it's happened.  But then, there you are, answering random questions out loud in a fancy boutique - then you realize the sales person was not talking to you at all - or you're in the grocery store lifting ten pounds of flour into your cart when you are alerted to the fact that there is a hole in the flour sack and you end up finishing your errands with strategically placed puffs of flour on the front of your black, wool jacket - as well as a skiff of it on your face - and YOU DON'T CARE!  Really!!  It's true! 
And the best thing - is that it can happen anywhere - and it still doesn't matter!  For example, just this past weekend, my husband and I were dining at a well-known,  rather elegant restaurant in the downtown area celebrating our birthdays.  I was in the middle of one of my stories about how one of the kids was singing a Black-Eyed Peas song inserting their own words - and of course, I needed to sing it to him so he would better understand the moment.  However, just as I was "quietly" singing the new rendition to him, the Maitre'd was also leaning in closely to ask how our scallops and bruscetta were tasting.  Obviously, he was treated to a rather odd song about ding dongs, Pei Wei, and puppy dogs.  Guess what?  I didn't even think of that story until right now!!!  See?  Didn't matter!  It's awesome! 
And the icing on the cake?  At that particular restaurant, birthdays are celebrated - not by a throng of un-enthused waitstaff singing a tired round of "Happy Birthday" to you and then slapping a sombrero on your head - but instead by awarding you a dollar for each of your years toward the purchase of a bottle of wine.  (We won't mention, that my husband spoke up at that point and offered, "She looks pretty hot for eighty, huh?")  In my world of Three Buck Chuck at Trader Joe's, $41 buys a nice, with hints and notes of something or other, bottle of Cabernet.
So, bring it on forty-one! And yes, the Black Eyed Peas came before the wine - I swear.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Notes from Joseph

     Years back, when the kids were at the glorious nap taking ages, I would often daydream about washing the day's spit up, sticky fingers and untimely crying fits away by taking some time to play the piano.  Of course, that doesn't work when kids are slumbering away all their grouchiness.  And far be it from me to interrupt those crucial hours.  So, even though my children are past napping ages, I have gotten completely out of the habit of playing the piano.  
     Last night, after working through fourth grade math and mastering the spelling of "isosceles," there was a quiet moment just waiting to be filled with something.  This was it - my chance to play the piano. I started in on some pieces I used to play quite confidently.  However, as I'm sure you can surmise, I was a bit out of practice and playing once easily read lines of music was becoming a laborious, relearning chore.  Not the relaxing experience I was hoping for.  I finally finished a song, feeling a bit beaten and was fishing around for an easier piece when I heard from the kitchen the sound of clapping.  What?  Sure enough, it was Joseph.  "Mom!  That was awesome!  You are really good!"
     It's amazing how just a little encouragement can carry you through and lift your spirits enough to make you feel like a superstar at something.  My ears were hearing only the wrong notes from misplaced, stiff fingers.  Joseph was hearing a tune he liked.  Pretty simple, right?  I continued on for awhile completely enjoying my moment. 
     Later, the evening's events took over and far too soon it was bedtime.  As I was saying my good nights to Joseph, he asked me if I would play again tomorrow night. Why, yes, Joseph, I would be happy to play, what song would you like to hear?  Oh, I don't know... one with loud and soft notes... or just the ones you like.  Doesn't matter to me.  Just play music, Mom.  You shouldn't worry so much, just play.
     Enough said.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ho! Ho! Hah!

Monday morning.  Eating Rice Krispies and checking out the Lego Catalog.  Joseph... that is.  Preparing a rather lengthy Christmas list.  He adds up all the Lego sets he would like with a calculator and presents me with a total of $968.41.  "That's a pretty good deal, right, Mom?"
Before I launch off into my "Value of a Dollar" speech, I simply turn to him and say, "Sure... now you only have to lose 484 more teeth."
"Well... at the going rate of $2 a tooth, that's how many times the Tooth Fairy would have to visit for you to make enough money to buy all those Legoes."
"I don't have that many teeth!!"
"Exactly.  I guess that's not that great of deal then, huh?" (Snarky Mom to the rescue!)
Then, as usual, the peanut gallery (the six year old) adds in her two cents rather flatly, "You should really hike up your prices for teeth... at your price, all you'll be able to buy is a box."
"Humph... that's not fair.  (The usual response from the nine year old.)  I wish I was an alligator... or a shark... because they have tons of teeth."
The voice of cynicism speaks again, "That's dumb... then you wouldn't even be able to play with Legoes... webbed feet? flippers?  Won't work."
He was getting more and more frustrated and finally slammed down his magazine and pen and in a frustrated voice, came up with, "Fine! I will just ask Santa!  So ha-ha on you!"
And this is where I braced myself for all of the magic of fairy plums dancing in their heads to come to a screaming halt at 7:45 am at the breakfast island, on a Monday morning, over a lousy bowl of Rice Krispies.  I was sure she was going to announce who she believes Santa really is... in a rather sarcastic, non-apologetic voice, most likely.. 
Instead, "Good idea, Joe!  I think Santa's loaded - and besides, his elfs can make anything!"
Phew!  That was a close one!  But there's one more catch I begin to realize... this Santa's not loaded.  Maybe this Santa should just go get loaded... or maybe this Santa should have just stuck with the "Value of a Dollar" speech... it ain't easy bein' me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Are You Lookin' At?

     Every morning, I seem to have "company" with me in the bathroom.  Doesn't really matter what I'm doing or how much clothing I am wearing - or not wearing... it just seems to be the rule:  When Mama's in the loo - it's a party and everyone is invited.  Why is this?  I don't remember taking vows that prohibit privacy... or making a big sign that says: Come on in!  You may ask: why don't you just lock the door?  I do.  But it is easily unlocked with the slight twist and turn of a bobby pin - which the children readily learned after a young guest locked himself in and couldn't remember how to unlock the door.
     So here I am again.  Towel on.  Applying make-up.  The audience curiously and quietly stares at me as I put on my mascara.  Then, at once, both audience members announce as though they have just discovered a rare treasure, "Mom! Your eye is going cross-eyed!  Who are you looking at... me or him...?  Or are you just using one of your eyes to do the make-up and the other one to check on us?!"  As luck would have it, I am the proud owner of one lazy left eye.  This is not new information - nor is it the first time this fact has been proclaimed with enthusiasm as I am getting ready in the morning.  So, because of my lack of a sense of humor about it for the moment - or wanting to re-explain this common condition again, I reply, "Yeah, when I was little, my parents lost me at the circus and one of the clowns found me and asked if I could do any tricks.  So I told the clown I had magic eyes that can watch naughty children while also applying make-up.  He wanted me to join the circus, but just then my mom and dad found me... so I never got to have my own circus act."  Both kids just stared at me without saying a word .  But sure enough, thirteen seconds went by and they were on to the next order of business, like can they have a piece of candy in their lunch and should they wear a jacket or not, and can they start a rock collection right now.  Soon enough, they cleared out and I finished my daily routine.
     Today was my day to drive the carpool in the morning.  As we picked up our rider, the usual conversation began about what silly bands to trade and whether or not there might be a science experiment at school today.  Then, quite abruptly, my six year old announced, "My mom used to be in the circus because she has a crazy creepy eye and she used to watch naughty kids and put on clown make-up at the same time!"  And then the nine year old chimes in, "Yeah... it totally creeps me out... Mom, do your eyes that funny way for Ryan!"  And Ryan replies, "Dude, you should totally share that for your sharing today!"
     Great.  Not only is my sarcasm lost on my morning audience, but now I'm also going to be known among the entire fourth grade as "The Creepy-Eyed Freak Show Mom."  It's time for this mama to find and then hide all the bobby pins in the house, and reclaim a few private moments to have my circus show all to myself.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Once Upon a Pixie

     Once upon a time, there was a little girl who owned a pixie costume.  The costume was complete with golden wings, a fluffy tutu, a happy green frock and of course, a magic wand.  She loved her pixie costume the minute she saw it among all the other costumes at the store.  When her mother agreed to buy it for her for the upcoming Halloween, she showered her with hugs and kisses.  Later, as she and her mother were leaving the store with the pixie costume safely tucked away in the depths of the store bag, the little girl wondered aloud if the costume came with magic pixie dust.   And if it didn't, could she please have some?  And would it be okay if her mother found her a special pouch in which to hold the precious dust?  She also wondered if golden sparkle hair spray could be added to the list of items to be attained.  The mother quietly pondered these requests and replied with a patient, caring, "We'll see."
     The mother had been so pleased with herself that she had been able to acquire such an affordable costume and that her little girl seemed so enamoured with the new ensemble.  But as the mother and little girl located their car in the parking lot and neared the trunk of their vehicle, the little girl announced that she would also be in need of new green tights, new glittery shoes, and a new tiara (her other four would not be appropriate).  Now the mother was beginning to feel a little frustrated and a little... well... irritated with her little girl's behavior and apparent need for so many accouterments.  The mother earnestly played up the goldeness of the pixie wings and the fluffiness of the tutu, and even offered up a special hairdo to accompany the costume.  However, it was to no avail.  The pixie stood strong on her "need" for the extra accessories.  The mother also held firm and agreed only to some new tights.
     Finally, the night of All Hallows arrived and the pixie was ready - fully pixied up.  After a night of tremendous generosity by the pixie's neighbors, the little girl quietly removed her costume and climbed into bed.  As the mother was tucking her little girl in and brushing the glitter away from her eyes, the pixie had one more thought on her mind:  "Mama, It's okay that you didn't get me all the extra stuff - and it's okay that you couldn't find the magic pixie dust.  I think you were even a little mad at me.  But I just wanted to tell you that I pretended to have magic pixie dust all night, but I didn't actually need it because I already have the best Mommy and Daddy in the whole wide world.  With a big yawn and a tired hug, the pixie fell fast asleep.  And the Mommy lived happily ever after... knowing that she too doesn't have a need for magic pixie dust because she already has the very best pixie in all the land.
The end.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Which Way Did You Say?

It ain't easy bein' me.  Everyday.  All day long.  Here's why:  I have the MOST horrendous sense of direction.  I can never find my car in a parking lot, if I happen to be talking while I am driving, I continually miss exits, and while most people have gut instincts about which way to go in unknown parts, I have "opposite" gut instincts. And what's worse is that my Dad and my sister (blood relatives) have this innate sixth sense that allows them to ALWAYS end up in the right place... in the best parking spot... on time... no matter where in the world they are.  I, seem to prefer the roads less travelled - unintentionally. 
So, in a desire to avoid the freeway on my way to pick up the kids from school yesterday, I decided to forge my own path.  This is not the first time I have attempted this - and on most occasions, I have succeeded... eventually.  After a number of wrong turns on county roads and peoples' driveways, I finally ended up at the school with a minute or two to spare.  I've had this issue for most of my life, but was alone in the car a lot more than I am now, and my "problem" is not so much a secret anymore.  Example A: I greeted the kids, helped them put their art projects of glued sugar in the car, and started off on our way home.  I decided to go around the block to avoid a school bus melee on my way out.  And almost simultaneously from the back of the van, I hear:
Kids: "MOM, can we please just go the right way home!"
Mom: "We are going home the right way - I just want to avoid this school bus issue ahead of us."
Six year old: "Well, Ryan's mom (their ride on the way to school) always just goes the right way and never says to us, 'Just look at this beautiful scenery.'"
Mom (getting frustrated): "Don't worry.  We will be home soon."
Six year old (under her breath): "I just hope it's not dark..."
As much as I wanted to begin a fruitless argument with the designated smarty pants, I just ended the conversation and decided I will stick to the boring old same old dumb regular way... for today... little does she know that I am STILL the mom and STILL in charge... even in the dark!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hide and Be Found

Hide and Go Seek is SO much more fun as an adult than as a kid.  On Monday night, we let the kids choose a game to play after eating dinner.  I really wasn't in the mood to go squinching into small, dark spaces and then waiting to be found... or to go looking for children and a husband who were just chomping at the bit waiting to bust out of somewhere and scare the peewaddin out of me... until... I found the perfect hiding spot.  On round 3 of this caper, I found the best spot ever... no one could find me.  The best part was that I could see though the space behind the back of the dresser and the wall exactly how hard the kids were trying to find me.  There was much consternation.  They kept asking me to make a noise so they could have a "hint" as to where I was.  On most occasions, I am pretty good natured about letting the kids win whatever game we are playing, but for some reason that night, I was not willing to give in... to the point that my ankles and knees were burning in pain from the position I was in.. but I was holding on... I would not give up my hiding spot. 
In all the time I had to think while hiding, I decided now was not the time to be found because I was in the perfect place.  When we play in the future... I could win again... and again... and again.  If I could ignore the searing pain in my joints for just a little longer, the Hide and Go Seek Championship Legacy would be mine!  The kids were starting to get angry.  It looked and sounded as if there might be a mutiny.  I hung on.  Finally, they went downstairs and I was able to slowly untangle myself from out of the hamper.  I nonchalantly meandered downstairs as they were still looking for me.  When they saw me, they were astounded and begged for me to give up my spot.  No way.  Wouldn't do it.  This match goes to the mom!
Next day.  I was separating clothes and getting ready to do the laundry.  I found this little tiny scrap of paper crinkled within the whites with my six-year-old's handwriting on it.  This is what it (cryptically) said:
"I no this is yor spot mama.  I wnt tel Joseph!"
She's either got a career in acting or special agent spy work just waiting for her.  So I didn't actually win the game, but I don't know if it was the loss or the being outsmarted by a first grader that hurt worse...