Archives for February 2011

Memories of Snow

I sat in the kitchen window seat with the girls this morning and together, we watched the snow fall. When I suggested that we should go outside to play, Gwen’s nose wrinkled and her eyes narrowed while she pondered the view, “The snow is too fast to go outside.” She adjusted her tacky purple tiara and slid off the window seat to adjust her princess dress, “Maybe later, mommy.” Her plastic high heels clacked on the hardwood floors as she left for the playroom. Kate followed, tripping over Gwen’s cast-off Cinderella gown, leaving me alone with my thoughts and hypnotized by the chaotic rhythm of the falling snow.

The vision outside the window pulled me back in time. When I was a kid, I thought, I played in the falling snow. I opened my mouth wide and caught snowflakes on my tongue. I scrambled to escape the confines of our farmhouse and the female specter inside. I would throw myself into the silence of a storm, walk into the field and let the heavy curtain of falling snow hide me from the world. From that angle, the farmhouse would nearly disappear. Behind a white veil of snow, it’s edges dulled to a softer, more obscure version of itself. That was as close as I could get to stepping away and into another world.

I remember sitting under a maple tree, it held the remnants of a never completed tree house, long ago promised and forgotten. The hiss of falling snow and the sound of wind wrapped themselves around me as I tucked myself into the notch of the tree. I nibbled on a snowball and examined the big white house. Despite the life it held inside, it looked dark and ominous. Was it the ghost or the argument I had witnessed that caused me to flee into the storm?

My father came home the night before and I was happy to see him again. He stood in the kitchen doorway wearing his suit and smiling at me while his blue eyes sparkled. I was startled by my mother who was suddenly slamming cabinets and banging pots a bit too loudly. Her mouth was set in that jaw-clenched position that told me she was angry. I wanted to tell her to stop. Couldn’t she see that he was happy to be home? I was afraid that her anger would drive him away again. They forgot me as she yelled at him. I felt the wind of a thrown object brush against my face and jumped when a pot connected with the wall behind me. Perhaps the years have caused me to place a memory in the wrong spot, but I remember him crossing the yellow and cream linoleum and embracing her. She tried not to laugh and I skipped from the kitchen, happy that they loved each other again.

Of course, he left again the next day. I was always told that his job required time away with the Governor. Some time after he had gone, my mother lunged at the liquor cabinet and jerked the doors open. Her face was stony a mask as she gathered the bottles into her arms. I followed her into the kitchen and watched as she poured the contents of a Johnny Walker bottle into the sink. I knew that he’d be gone for days now and for the first time, realized that the contents of those bottles posed a problem for us all.

Lately, I’ve discovered that I like dirty martinis, but the years haven’t dulled the memories of martinis I hated to see shaken, not stirred. The sound of ice cubes tinkling in a glass still conjures a vision of my father in his favorite chair, a glass of amber colored scotch absently dangling from his right hand. I thought of these things this morning as I watched the snow that was falling too quickly for Gwen to play. I understood that she felt warm, safe and loved here in this house full of life. She didn’t feel the need to escape behind a curtain as I once did. Perhaps because my martinis are an occasional indulgence that I drink with the knowledge of my past still haunting me.

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Funky Town

Of all the days to say something bitchy to my kid, that childless little twit picked yesterday. The day when I was alternating between wanting to crawl into a fetal position and wanting to kick the shit out of someone. Not that I would, because that’s not lady-like behavior and I’m not that kind of person, but I might express the desire to. I might throw daggers at you with my eyes and don an expression that says, “I’m going to f$^&ing choke you now”.

School vacation, day three.

I took the kiddos to Old Port yesterday and had lunch with David at Flatbreads, otherwise known as our favorite local pizza joint. I was desperately trying to pull myself out of my funk (curse the funk!) and hoped that lunch overlooking Casco Bay would do the trick.

Gwen cried in Flatbreads when she learned that David had to go back to work. She cried loudly enough that the people at a nearby table, a salty looking older couple, turned in their seats to cast a disapproving glare at my heartbroken little girl. I wanted to glare back then tell the woman to mind her own business and comb the wiry grey rat’s nest on her head, but didn’t have it in me. Instead, I snapped at Gwen then shot Mrs. McNasty a dirty look.
* Hint: If you are in a pizza place that is a known family hot spot, then lose the attitude. If it’s fine dining you’re after, walk up the street a few blocks…but you’ll probably have to comb your hair first.

I promised the kids that we’d hit the Popcorn Company after lunch, so ended up forcing my funked-up self along. We waited behind a self-absorbed woman who lorded over the Popcorn Co. staff to ensure that her children were provided samples of each and every available flavor. Evidently, Mrs. McClueless gave birth to children far more important than anyone else’s. Do I need to tell you that my patience was wearing thin? Joe killed some time by eating an abandoned kernel of popcorn off a random table.

Trying to be patient

Kate threw piles of napkins onto the floor while Mrs. McClueless let her kid shove yet another sample of blue popcorn into his sticky little pie hole. He turned and displayed his treats to my three children who were nearly drooling and loudly asking when it would be their turn. Thankfully, the McClueless family arrived at a decision, picked their popcorn flavors and left before I lost my mind and said something terribly rude. I mean, really…it’s fucking popcorn. Pick a flavor and drag your ass.

Finally, with popcorn in hand, we exited the shop and my happy little boy skipped down the sunny sidewalk toward a  young couple. I lagged behind attempting to deep breath myself into a state of relaxation. I watched my beautiful boy attempt to maneuver around the couple then heard the young (bitch) woman sneer, “I do NOT like kids.” Evidently my six-year-old’s presence on the sidewalk was too much to bear. He wasn’t worthy of a slight move to the right to allow him to pass without having to brush up against parked cars. If I was a cartoon, my face would have turned an angry shade of scarlet, and steam would have blasted out of each ear accompanied by that screaming whistle sound.

Thankfully, Joe was blissfully unaware of the nasty remark and not all that bothered that two grown ups had such terrible manners that they would purposely not share the sidewalk. While that nasty woman sneered and directed her child-hatred at my son, her boyfriend’s gaze fell upon me. He realized her faux pas as soon as we made eye contact and delivered her an elbow to the ribs. The sneer fell from her face the moment she saw me. Her eyes widened, her gaze dropped to the ground and she began walking whole lot faster. I made her walk around me, causing her to brush up against a car to get past. I hope that someday, she is cursed with a raging brat.

Maybe when I’m in a funk, I need to keep these family outings to a minimum.

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Shifting Gears

Something inside my head has shifted and the happy streak that I’ve been riding for the past few weeks has come to to shrieking halt. Maybe I’ve reached that point where winter has become just a bit too long. I feel trapped and then I feel guilty saying that I feel trapped. I have a beautiful family. Perhaps last weekend’s temporary single-parenthood paired with a week of school vacation has provided the perfect recipe a fresh bout with the blues.
Sometimes, I long for the spontaneity that was available in my old life, before children. I’d like to hop in the car and drive. I’d like to sit quietly in a movie theater, or walk in silence without worrying that someone is going to run into the road. I fantasize about going away by myself for a weekend and just doing nothing but read, watch movies, sleep and order room service. I just want to be alone with the monster that brings such despair. Sometimes I just need to escape and I can’t. Sometimes I just need silence.

Talk about a downer…Sheesh. Believe me, I want happy/funny to come back too.

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Aw, Shucks…For Me?

Somehow, the power cord for my laptop stopped working and I haven’t been able to write for a few days. I think that little mouse that I trapped the other night has some buddies issuing payback in honor of the decedent. Even though I went to bed on Saturday night with a fully functioning cord, I woke to find it suspiciously frayed in one section. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.

Last week I was honored with not one, not two, but THREE awards! Lest the three lovely ladies who took the time to bestow their awards on me think I’m an ungrateful bitch, I’m saying thank you today. I’m writing this thank you post on my children’s ancient Mac and it ain’t easy!

If nothing else, I’d have to agree that my blog is versatile. Sure, lately I’ve been following a theme of disgust and humiliation, but historically speaking, I think my writing has run the gamut. I’ve bounced around between fiction, depression, ADHD, disgusting poop tales, dead rodents and true ghost stories. Well, my friend The Fancy Flea sent me this award early last week and I can’t thank her enough. It was timely. I had just posted the true story of my husband and I falling in love and followed with a heartfelt post about my last baby turning two. I then spent a few days being funny. Evidently, at least one reader only likes funny and let me know with a message that basically said, thank GOD I was being funny again because my last few posts were a real downer for her. Initially, I wanted to say something not-so-nice in response, but I held my tongue. If you know me well, you know what I wanted to say.

Seriously, wouldn’t the world be lovely if our lives were like sitcoms 24/7? Far be it from me to wish my husband a Happy (10th) Valentine’s Day by posting our love story or by wishing my baby girl a happy second birthday. Those aren’t funny. So, let’s hope my kids continue eating dog shit and swearing in public so no one gets bored reading about love and birthdays and other shmoopsie-poopsie crap.

At least The Fancy Flea appreciates me and “gets” that I’m versatile, dammit! Have you seen The Fancy Flea? Her photography is spectacular. Her talent provides me (and you) the opportunity to see the beauty of Australia through her eyes. She’s also incredibly kind. So, thanks Fancy Flea for appreciating me and all of my posts…even the not so funny ones.

Have you read anything written by Mollie at OK in UK? I’ll bet you have, but if you haven’t, you should. I mean, like right now. Mollie is a very talented writer and she’s living my dream of relocating to England. She possesses that dry wit that I love and she’s just plain cool. To think, Mollie included little ol’ me when she was passing out her Stylish Blogger Award. Thanks, man. I’ll stop being snarky for a moment and say that I am honored that you read No. 7. Now go over to OK in UK to enjoy her little one’s developing British accent and her brilliant post that exposes the lies behind the 5 second rule.

Straight from Mrs. Sherman at Mom’s Bookshelf & More came another Stylish Blogger Award. I’m honored that she picked me and so pleased that she finds the time to visit the slightly crass and off-beat world of No. 7. You need a strong stomach to visit me lately, what with my current theme of poop and dead mice. I’m glad she’s riding it out. Thank you Mrs. Sherman!

According to the rules of my new awards, I’m supposed to tell you some stuff about myself and pass the awards on to 7/15 bloggers who I love. And I will. Just not today because this damn Mac is killing me and it’s painfully close to Wine O’Clock. Pray that my new power cord shows up tomorrow. In the meantime, throw me a vote and cheer me up. This post isn’t funny and I fear it might piss someone off.

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That Rat Bastard!

I’m a shitty mother. I’m on my second day of temporary single-motherhood. In all seriousness, I can’t fathom how single mothers function without losing their minds. I take great comfort in the fact that David will be home tomorrow night. In the meantime, I hope that lousy bastard is enjoying his peaceful weekend at a hotel sans children. Asshole.

Day One started out nicely enough. Gwen cried when she found out that her Daddy wasn’t coming home. I hugged her and provided vast amounts of comfort, but she continued bawling until I finally told her to cut the dramatics. A visual representation of my level of patience when it comes to whining little girls is this: o. Yes, that’s right. My patience could fit in that tiny little ‘o’ that I typed back there.

As the day wore on and I began to dread the complete lack of “me” time I’d enjoy over the next 72 hours, I decided to fight fire with fire. Off I went to the grocery store to stock up on crappy food that we wouldn’t normally eat. Okay, let me rephrase that. I bought a bunch of crap that under normal circumstances, I’d never let them eat but Daddy would because he’s the nice one. I bought the ingredients for cupcakes, I bought microwave popcorn to drizzle with Reese’s peanut butter chips and Nestle chocolate chips (you’re welcome for the shout out, corporate giants who peddle crappy food to my children). I also stocked up on pizza dough and all the fixings, then rented Despicable Me. Those kids rolled over on their Daddy and declared me the nice one right there in the grocery store. Suckers.

We baked cupcakes together and I only yelled once. I let them frost their own cupcakes then eat two. I let them make their own mangled pizzas but couldn’t refrain from adding broccoli to the toppings.  It was a good night. The kids went to bed a bit later than usual and I knocked back two glasses of wine before passing out from a mixture of exhaustion and booze. This being nice crap isn’t easy.

Day Two had a bit of a bumpy start. For a week, I’ve made David check the mouse traps that I set in the cabinet holding the dog food. For a week, the mice have successfully avoided death by Victor. Well, I think that one of those furry little bastards was waiting until David went away to sacrifice himself.

I’m not one of those women who shrieks and jumps on a chair at the sight of a mouse. I actually think they’re kind of cute. We happen to have field mice with those big, black teardrop shaped cartoon eyes, long whiskers, a furry white under belly. After the rats in Boston, these little critters look like a Beatrix Potter illustration come to life. However, I don’t want them in my food. Dead mice freak me out and there he was, laying in the cabinet with a smooshed head, rigor mortis and that long tail. I shrieked and slammed the cabinet shut. Gwen and Kate each mimicked my performance while Joe barely registered a reaction.

Stella was the only family member willing to help out. Initially, my plan included her picking the mouse up in her mouth and then I’d send her outside to “dispose” of it. Good plan, right? Wrong. She happily went into the cabinet and starting gnawing on the mouse right there. I seriously could have shut the cabinet and let her go to town and I don’t think she would have moved until it was gone. I wasn’t interested in hearing tiny bones cracking or Stella’s tongue lapping up gooey mouse parts. So, I made her come out of the cabinet and began to rethink my mouse removal methods. Stella began digging the cabinet to get back in, which prompted me to act.

Much to the delight of my children I found a paper bag and while emitting an insane sounding, “OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD” over and over again, I picked up the trap and sealed that stiffened little creature into his tomb. The kids all giggled when I ran to the garage to pitch the corpse of our tiny thieving friend. I performed a shrieking heebie-jeebie dance in honor of the sacrificial rodent. He’s entombed in a Baby Gap bag, still wearing his trap. He had a good life and spent his final days noshing on expensive dog food. God Bless Mouse.

I don’t care how cute they are, if his buddies come looking for him tonight, they’d better watch it! Another Victor is baited and ready to take out the next rat bastard who tries to filch the dog kibble.”

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Ten years ago, if someone had told me that someday I’d love a person capable of biting his own toenails without feeling a lick of shame about his disgusting grooming habit, I would have scoffed. That’s right, I would have completely disregarded the person prophesying my love for a dirty toenail biter. The prophet would have been on the receiving end of one of my trademark sneers of disgust (I don’t do that on purpose, they are naturally occurring phenomenon). I’d have bid that person a curt farewell and turned on my heel without a bit of remorse at leaving an insane person in my dust. Well, if I had scoffed at that prediction, I’d look like a fool today and I’d be forced to apologize for being such a self-righteous, snooty bitch.

This afternoon I called Joe into the bathroom to help him clip his toenails. (Yes, this is one of the more glamorous requirements of motherhood.) I’ll admit it, in the winter months when their little feet are covered in socks, I tend to forget the toenails. So shoot me, there are worse acts of neglect than failure to clip a six-year-old kid’s gnarly little toenails.

Anywho, since he was in the middle of a rousing game of Super Mario, my beck and calls were being largely ignored. Somewhere around my third and increasingly screechy demand to “get upstairs RIGHT NOW or so help me…”, he yelled back, “It’s okay, I trimmed them myself!”

Silenced by his declaration, I stood in my bathroom with the toenail clippers in hand, wearing a look of bewilderment. In one of those weird moments where a million different scenarios rush through a mom’s mind, I wondered how he had found the clippers. I worried that he had cut himself or even worse, had gangrenous ingrown toenail festering.

Trying to play it cool, I meandered downstairs and asked exactly when he’d last trimmed his nails. “Uh…all the time”, he absently responded while ground-pounding Bowser. I began to think that I’d missed some sort of shift in maturity that carried a new interest in personal grooming. “So, what did you use to trim them?” My question was followed with a sigh and a look of annoyance. “Well, Joe?” He impatiently answered, “My teeth” and rolled his eyes. If he had added a ‘duh’ to the end of his statement I wouldn’t have been shocked.

After a lengthy discussion about proper grooming methods, I left the room and began pondering some of the atrocious, gag-inducing moments we’ve experienced over the past six years. 

It all began with the dried up umbilical cord. It fell off and clung to the front of my shirt as I held my newborn son. All I could see was that tiny little blackened and shriveled appendage. I gagged and someone had to come in and remove it for me. Needless to say, I’m not one of those mothers who lovingly placed the disembodied umbilical cord into a tiny bag and pasted it into a baby book for future viewing.

Months later, following a week-long vacation, we returned to our little apartment with our newly-crawling son. Our cat, a very fuzzy Persian named Rosie O’Kitty, held down the fort in our absence. Despite the cat sitter’s daily interaction, Rosie tended to get a bit miffed when we left her alone. Getting miffed caused her to do weird things, like lick herself incessantly. Evidently, Rosie was pretty miffed that week because she had hacked up hairballs all over the floor. Stifling my gag reflex, I walked around the apartment and picked up petrified wads of cat hair/vomit before the baby was allowed on the floor. I wiped each spot with disinfecting cleaner and congratulated myself for having it all under control.

Minutes later I heard chewing sounds. Thinking it was Joe’s teething ring, I continued unpacking and stumbled upon Joe’s teething ring. It took a millisecond to realize that whatever he was chewing on wasn’t good. Overcome with dread, I bent down to peer beneath the table. There he sat with his chubby little fist wrapped around an old, dried up hairball that I had missed. He used his new teeth to chomp on the dried cat hair/vomit repeatedly as I scrambled to reach him. I think I screamed and threw up in my mouth all at the same time. David came running and cringed when he saw what I was holding in my hand. Joe sat on the floor crying at the loss of his new teething ring. I sat on the floor crying in disgust. The cat sashayed over to me and stuck her fuzzy ass in my face.

Yet, I don’t think anything can trump the mother of all disgusting things. It happened last summer. It was a warm, sunny day not unlike the day before. Except that we had a new puppy…and a one year old. Our (blissfully childless) friends were minutes from our house after a long drive and, as David confirmed their location via telephone, Kate entered the kitchen wearing a face full of chocolate. Her hands were coated in it too. I thought, ‘Huh…well, that’s odd. We don’t have any chocolate in the house.” It was right about that moment that the smell hit me. My mind focused in on the fact that the thing in her hand wasn’t a melting chocolate bar. I shrieked and threw up in my mouth at the same time. David grabbed Kate and disinfected her while I scrubbed the area rug in our living room.

There was a lot of manic swearing and mouth breathing as we cleaned the baby and the rug. I’m pretty sure that I kept yelling, “Oh my god! Do you think she tasted it?”

These are the kind of things that people need to tell you about before you have children.

*Chocolate frosting…but it seemed appropriate.

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As I stood at the counter waiting for my change, my toddler’s hand repeatedly snaked down the front of my blouse. “I see boobies!” she yelled. I patiently extricated her hand only to have her plunge it right back into the depths of my bra. “Boobies, Mama, BOOBIES!” she shouted and threw her head back with laughter.

The cashier in Toys R Us was a 20-something man-boy sporting a low ponytail. He pretended not to notice but I could see the flush rising in his face as he tried to change the cash register tape and get me and my boobie-grabbing girl out of his sight. “Sorry about this” he mumbled and maintained strict eye contact as Kate fondled my left boob. He was trying very hard to pretend that she wasn’t there and that he wasn’t embarassed. Mostly, I think he was under the impression that I was embarassed. I wasn’t. I’ve built up my immunity.

As Kate let a rapid-fire string of “boobies” fly, he got flustered and dropped the roll of tape. Kate began occupying herself with the padding in my bra. Her little finger repeatedly poked at my bra through my shirt while she pulled the neckline foward to investigate what was happening behind the scenes. I’m sure that, as the door slid shut behind us, he laughed. 
Four years ago, Joe and I were in the women’s locker room at the Oak Square YMCA in Brighton, Massachusetts. We went there often. I’d run while Joe stayed in the childcare room, then I’d pick him up for a swim in the YMCA pool. It was in the changing room where Joe found his voice. I was changing out of my bathing suit when he loudly exclaimed, “Mommy, you’re pee-pee is Cuh-RAZY!” I wanted to die. I quickly shushed him and pretended that Joe hadn’t shared the condition of my ‘pee-pee’ with the current occupants of the locker room. No matter how hard I tried to gracefully move on from that moment, the kid wouldn’t drop it. “Why is your pee-pee all hairy?” I had nothing. I was mortified and just wanted him to stop. For so many reasons, I wanted him to stop. Mostly, I was reminded that it had been ages since my last bikini wax. My pathetic attempts at self-grooming were hindered by the gigantic belly holding our newest bundle of joy.

Suddenly the gravity of my situation came crashing down upon me. All at once, I felt very much like a mother. I looked around me and saw throngs of childless, twenty-something women snickering about my pee-pee. I wanted to slap those smug little freshly waxed bitches and say, “Just you wait! Someday you’ll have a kid and a hairy pee-pee too!”

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Just kidding…but if you likes this installment of No. 7 please vote!
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For My Love

Happy Valentines Day! I’m re-posting the true story of how my husband and I met. It is simply magical…

I walked down the hallway watching him as he moved ahead of me. He was handsome in his navy suit. Far more well dressed than any of the men in my life…and then he turned to do a goofy dance that completely belied his appearance. Waves of lightness and love washed over me. At that moment I felt myself shift from the nothingness of a completely mundane existence to the realization that I was experiencing unequivocal love. It was palpable and intense and I tried with all of my might to focus on his face. I needed to see it clearly…to memorize it because somehow, I realized that this meeting was brief.

I struggled to stay there with him, but I woke to a snowy morning in February. It was 1997 and I was just four months away from a rather large wedding, but I forgot all of that as I desperately clung to the filmy remnants of my beautiful dream. Tears streamed down my face because I knew I didn’t fully see his face. I didn’t know his name and I’d likely never see him again. I couldn’t imagine living without the intense happiness that I briefly felt in my dream. I had never experienced such joy and letting go of that feeling of lightness to return to my dark place was unbearable. The dream was so unbelievably vivid. Out loud, and to no one in particular I asked, “Where are you?” Knowing that I couldn’t go back into that dream, that our meeting wasn’t real was devastating. I know …this sounds dramatic, but I just don’t have the words to express how intense that dream was, how happy I felt.

Even after telling myself that it was just another dream, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was out there. As I talked myself out of believing in his existence, I came to the realization that those feelings of love and acceptance were so intense that I couldn’t deny them. I’d never had such strong feelings before, and here I was having them for a blurry, handsome man in a dream. At the very least I knew that if I was getting married to Steve, I was marrying the wrong person simply because that intense love wasn’t there. We shared no real connection except that we were really good friends who were attracted to each other.

Three days after the dream I still couldn’t stop thinking of him. I wondered where he was. I walked into the house that Steve and I had just bought and handed the engagement ring back to him. I knew that if nothing else, my “gut” was telling me that marrying Steve was the biggest mistake I could make. I stood in that house looking at him, scared to say goodbye, but not feeling any affinity to this place that was supposed to be ours. I willed myself to love him the way that I loved the man in my dream, but realized now that my love for Steve would never be as intense. But I did love him and I loved him enough to know that leaving would be painful for both of us. So instead of trusting my instincts and believing in the message of my dream, I chose to take the ring back. I listened to people tell me I had cold feet and I kept my dream to myself wondering if perhaps I had finally gone completely crazy.

For 2 years and 9 months I kept my dream to myself but never forgot it. I was married but very newly separated. I vaguely knew David. At work one afternoon, I was out of the office researching documents in his conference room. I was distracted by my recent separation, for the past few nights I had been staying at a hotel and was just beginning to realize that the road ahead of me was about to get very bumpy. David seemed to sense that I was in a bad place.

We left his office and began walking down a deserted hallway. He said something that made me laugh. For the first time in days, I felt completely at ease. I had momentarily forgotten what was happening in my life because there was something about David that made me feel safe. As he moved ahead of me, I noticed for the first time how handsome he was in his navy suit. We were laughing about something, I don’t recall what now…and he began to turn toward me. As I stood laughing and watching him break into a goofy dance, I felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I stopped laughing and stood staring at him with eyes wide open. He stopped his dance and with a look of concern, asked me if I was alright. I blinked in shock but gathered my composure enough to tell him that I was fine and continued walking.

How in the world do you tell someone you barely know that you dreamt of him almost three years ago? That you saw that very moment play out exactly as it happened before you even knew he existed? The hallway, the suit, the dance…nothing differed. It was him. I knew it was him.

I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story because you know that we fell in love. Just days after that goofy hallway dance we were inseparable. I told him of my dream months later, after he knew me well enough that he wouldn’t think I was a crazy, clingy stalker. To this day I am amazed. I wonder how that dream happened. What or who placed it in my subconscious just before I was about to marry the wrong person?

Whether or not you believe my story is of little consequence to me. It happened and to this day I feel that destiny brought David and I together and there will always be a little bit of magic attached to us. He finally found me.

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Leaving Survival Mode

… ‘course I don’t really need another kid, but Dottie says these-here are gettin’ too big to cuddle.  Raising Arizona

I always say that its a good thing Dave and I didn’t meet until we were nearing the age of  “too old” to have babies. Had we been five years younger when we married, we’d be raising a herd by now, giving the Duggars a run for their money. Okay, no. No we wouldn’t…that whole situation is just borderline freaky.

For awhile there, we never planned on having any at all. We were going to be those city-dwelling professionals who worked, dined and traveled sans sticky, loud and smelly tiny humans. Then one day my biological clock, the same one that had very nicely kept it’s tictocs to itself, began sounding the alarm. You’re 33 years old, WAKE UP! 33 years old, WAKE UP! I realized that it was now or never. 40 seemed so far, yet so dangerously close. So Dave and I got busy. In all senses of the word.

10 months later we were the proud parents of a handsome baby boy. 24 months after that, we were the proud parents of a handsome toddler and a beautiful baby girl. 24 months after that, we were the proud parents of a handsome pre-schooler, a beautiful toddler and another beautiful baby girl.  For me, the pain of pregnancy’s 9th month provided the perfect mix of clarity and decisiveness, both of which are latent traits under normal conditions. I knew I was getting a c-section so took the opportunity to get ‘fixed’ at the same time. That’s right, tubal ligation.Why? Because I knew that sometime approximately 18 months after the birth of that baby, I’d start saying “Oh, she’s getting so big” and, “I miss having a tiny little baby in the house, one that I can carry around like a perfect warm, sleeping angel sent from heaven above.”

Let me provide an analogy… Think of me as a person who loves puppies and kittens, so keeps acquiring puppies and kittens. Eventually they get big and I begin longing for more puppies and kittens thus creating a vicious cycle of animal hoarding. I’ll leave the baby hoarding to Natalie Suleman. The bottom line is, I knew that my inert baby-hoarding tendency had to be nipped in the bud, so I ordered that tubal and  assured my OB at each and every visit that “NO, I will most certainly not be changing my mind!”

If I had my druthers during the 8th month of my last pregnancy, I would have video-taped myself to deliver a message to my future self…the current me. You follow? Past me would deeply empathize with current me, saying, “Yes, I know you love babies, so do I,  but just look at us.” I’d stand and pointedly exhibit my wide pregnancy ass to the camera. I’d tell myself how very tired I am and encourage future/current me to try and remember the last two weeks before birth because they suck. The tape would cut out and pick up again in the days post-birth. I’d be swollen, recovering from another c-section (which, admittedly, weren’t all that bad thanks to my friend Percocet) and I’d have bags under my eyes. I’d tell myself that breastfeeding with two other kids running around isn’t a picnic, and by the way, just this morning the UPS man knocked causing Kate to pop off for a look and whoops! He saw our boob! (true story.)

I’ve been holding it together pretty well. I passed the 18-month mark and have had a few ‘moments’ that led me to believe that, if I hadn’t been ‘fixed,’ I’d be attempting to talk Dave into baby number four. Once you’ve had three you might as well throw another one on the pile, right? Wrong!

At this moment, two years ago today I sat in my OB/GYN’s office hooked up to monitors because baby number three hadn’t been moving all that much. She wasn’t due for another two weeks, but once you pass the age of 35 and enter the land of High Risk Pregnancy, most doctors don’t mess around. My OB sat with me watching baby Kate’s movement, or lack thereof, and we chatted. She looked at me and laughed, “Well, you are about to enter survival mode. Two children at home under the age of 5 and a new baby…that’s what I call survival mode. I did it. You’ll be fine. In a few years it will all be over with.” Having shared that information, she stood and told me that I was being admitted for another emergency c-section. Survival mode in T-minus three and counting.

Lest you think my OB was a total jerk, she shared my no-nonsense, sarcastic sense of humor. Boy did we laugh at the thought of survival mode. Her children were entering college and mine were just entering the world. We shared stories and giggled at the joy our children have brought to our lives. No matter what their age.

Today marks the day when I officially declare the end of survival mode. Today my baby enters her second year and leaves all that is “baby” behind. To celebrate, she had a raging party at her crib last night and the light show was amazing.

When her party eventually wound down, I tucked my one year old girl into bed for the last time and mentally said goodbye to her infancy. Happy Birthday, Kate.
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Cue the Crying

Dim the lights! Cue the princess music! Illuminate the castle and send Jasmine out! Is that woman in section T, row 15, seat 14 trying not to cry?

What? At least I’m man enough to admit it. The Disney species of princess make me cry. I don’t know why. Is it the music? The gowns? The castle? The last time I was exposed to the princesses en masse was March of 2006. Gwen was just a bun in the proverbial oven as I stood in front of Cinderella’s castle during some kind of Disney Princess extravaganza, sobbing. I was a weird 30-something pregnant woman blubbering at the vision of fake royalty waltzing with their princes on the grand staircase of the castle.

I remember pushing my little boy’s stroller toward the castle and hearing the grand announcement of Ariel and Prince Eric, followed by Snow White and Prince Whosey Whatsey and the guy who got hitched to Belle. Did we ever find out that guy’s name, or does she still refer to him as ‘Beast’? Maybe she really is a peculiar girl… Anyway, there I stood with my eyes glued to the girls and their princes waltzing around when I felt the overwhelming sting of tears working their way up the pipeline. I bit my lip, I took a deep breath, I looked away and shifted on my feet, but there was no stopping the flow. I let my freak flag fly under the guise of emotions run by pregnancy hormones, but the truth of the matter is that to this day, I have no friggin’ idea why the hell I was bawling.

Today I took Gwen to Princesses on Ice. The overture announcing the arrival of a princess boomed throughout the Civic Center, the lights twinkled and danced, then Jasmine skated into view. The ol’ pipeline started to trickle and threatened to spring a leak. Thankfully I was able to call myself a jackass and turn off the spigot. I was fine until the end of the show when those stinking princesses went and lined up on the stairs with their princes. Maybe it was the gowns, or the music. Mostly, I think it was the delight in my little girl’s sparkling eyes as she clapped and danced with excitement. I realized how quickly time has passed since my Disney World princess/pregnancy-induced outburst. Back then, my baby was just a bump. Four years has assigned the bump a sex, name and terrific personality. I’ve spent the past four years falling in love with a beautiful princess.

The waterworks flowed as those princesses stood on the steps waving and waltzing, but mostly my tears were tears of joy and wonder as I watched my girl’s face.

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