Archives for July 2011

Dear Rage Filled Stranger,

Today you clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You climbed into your SUV and drove like a bat out of hell right into the parking lot of Target and Starbucks. This, my rage filled adversary, is where you met me.

Pardon my egress into the cross walk. Clearly, my walking interrupted your qualifying lap for the Indy 500. By the way, kudos for your ability to navigate crowded parking lots with such speed! What a skill set you have. Seriously, the remarkable ability to disregard any semblance of safe driving, coupled with the knack of driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding your cell phone to your left ear. Now, that’s real talent!

You were so right. How dare I interrupt your reckless abandon and complete disregard for the safety of countless people! Far be it from me to interrupt your very important conversation and distracted driving. Yet, I feel compelled to let you know one thing, my rage-filled friend…I think your initial assessment of me was way off. Perhaps you simply saw a petite woman. Your quick glance as you nearly ran me over left you with the impression that I was a bit younger than I actually am.

Admit it, you thought you saw an easy target and sprang at the opportunity to attack someone “safe”. You were in such a hurry yet, you clearly had enough time to turn your car around, park, and enter the store to search for me. Well, you sure found me, didn’t you? I have to tell you, when you began yelling at my back I had no idea who the crazy yelling woman was talking to. Like all of the other patrons, I turned to see who the lunatic was and what she was screaming at.

This is where you made a mistake, lady. First, crunchy looking women with long, stringy middle-parted hippie hair generally don’t carry an air of intimidation. If you plan on verbally assaulting someone in public, might I suggest that you toughen up your look a bit? Your cardigan, Birkenstocks and Gap jeans don’t necessarily say, “Hey, I’m gonna kick your ass now.”

Secondly, before you begin said verbal assault, you should really take a moment to size up the target of your tirade appropriately. Your initial impression might be way off. Perhaps your quick glance as you raced through the cross walk left you with the impression that she was an easy, non-threatening target, but she’s not easily scared. When confronted by angry SUV driving women, she will stare at her pathetic attacker as if she is a complete animal. She will laugh at your assertion that your Acura “has cameras” and point out that they would have come in handy for the police, in proving that your lunatic driving caused you to strike a pedestrian in the middle of a cross walk… while you were talking on the phone.

In fact, Rage Filled Lady, your target is quite cunning. She has already assessed the situation. She is forming a response that will make your head spin. She will take advantage of the growing crowd that is gaping at your wacked-out tirade and use your rant to her advantage. You see, she has a fair amount of experience with nut bags like you whose initial assessments were also way off.

She might be small, but she’s nearly 40, she’s from New York and she can take you down with her cunning. She’ll piss you off even more with some fairly patronizing and/or sarcastic responses. She’ll use her small size to her advantage and, as you grow angrier and yell louder, people will begin to feel protective of her. Soon, you will realize that people are staring at you. It will dawn on you that the crowd is questioning your sanity and wondering if you are dangerous. You’ll catch your target’s eye and she will smirk with a raised eyebrow, underscoring the fact that she is better at this game. Oh, and, as you experienced, she is not opposed to pulling out her cell phone and offering to dial 911 so that perhaps the police could come and chat with the woman who followed her into a public place to threaten and intimidate her. She’s considerate like that, especially after nearly being run over by your giant speeding SUV.

My last bit of advice is this: in the future, when you realize that you honed in on the wrong target, try to make it look like you aren’t running away. You should walk with your head held high and own your stupidity. You might as well have something to be proud of when you realize that you acted like a crazed animal in front of a crowd.

All the Best,

Me

p.s. I recently wrote a couple of blogs about mean girls that you might find interesting.

Public Humiliation and Other Horrors

This weekend I spent a lot of time compiling essays and filling out transcript requests. I’m in the process of applying for my MFA in Creative Writing. By this afternoon, I was looking for a mindless task. I needed to zone out. I finished painting the family room a lovely shade of Fairview Taupe (brown-ish/grey-ish). Perhaps it was the paint fumes that got me thinking…We have been changing diapers almost non-stop since July, 2004. That’s a lot of hiney wiping. Yet, in exchange for the care and feeding of our three lovely children, we routinely suffer grave humiliation. There are a few that I’d like to address. I don’t expect they’ll be able to provide me with a proper response or change their behavior immediately. No one can accuse me of being unrealistic however, its time to call these kids out on a few things.

In the play space kitchen you were whipping up some “treats” when you loudly announced that you were serving me a glass of wine. Delivering the wine in an enormous and “fancy” ice cream sundae glass was the icing on the cake. You gave all the other mommy’s a nice warm cup of tea. What gives?

If I hold your hand in the mall and you’re pissed because I wouldn’t buy you one of those giant cookies, please don’t scream, “OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! YOU’RE HURTING ME MOMMY!” People think I’m abusing you.

Don’t yell, “I’m going to kick your ass!” Ever. You’re four. Not cool.

I know you’re my son but that doesn’t mean that I relish the act of cleaning your “pee pee” from the outside of the toilet, the floor or on occasion, the wall. What’s with that? There’s a big round hole. Point and shoot, dude. It’s not like your junk is separated from the toilet by several feet.

Yelling, “Look Mom, they even have booby traps here!” in Target was funny. I’ll give you that. But standing in the cart and squeezing each of the booby traps while saying, “Nope, too big for mommy!” wasn’t. Besides, they look like this because of you, you little stinker.

When Daddy quietly mutters, “Where the hell is the fucking bus?” to himself, don’t turn around and say, “I don’t know, maybe we fucking missed it.” Daddy doesn’t understand that you have the super-human ability to hear things from yards away. Skip the F-bombs. Especially at school. Please.

Stuffing things in your nose is never a good idea. We were lucky that your sneeze dislodged the twig. Plus, I have booger issues. Stop it.

If I take a picture of you with my phone, don’t loudly ask, “Mommy? Did you just take a picture of my privates?” That’s messed up. Social services visits mommies for statements like that. Please stop.

I overheard you tell your cousin that your “mom goes crazy.” Did you also happen to fill your cousin in on the times that you’ve cried and thrown the controller across the room because a mushroom killed you on Super Mario? No? Well, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Capiche?

While I’m on the subject of video games, It’s disturbing to enter the room and find you in the bean bag chair clad only in your mini-boxer shorts and a t-shirt, the room smelling vaguely of farts while you navigate the perils of Super Mario Land.

It’s not okay to bite the dog. Not ever.

It’s only okay to color on your face with WASHABLE markers. Sharpies are never a good idea. Trust me.

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Why?

Sometimes the best intentions just end in enormous failure. Having spent an hour snow blowing the driveway late yesterday afternoon, I re-entered the house to find that the Wii had been turned off and the kitchen was silent. Weird. The sounds of laughter traveled to my ears from afar…well, not really – just from the playroom. It sounded harmless enough, so off I went to find out what was so darn funny.

As I neared the closed (never a good sign) playroom door, I heard a loud smacking sound followed by a fresh round of uncontrollable giggles then, “Smack my butt! Smack my butt!” I opened the door and in a moment of horror, saw that my six and four-year-old children had both pulled their pants down for a round of rump whacking. Without knowing that I had entered, Joe turned around and stuck his bare bottom out at Gwen while uncontrollably laughing and yelling, “CHANGE MY DIAPER, LADY!” It was all just too weird.

“What are you doing?” Silence permeated the room as they both slowly stood and pulled their pants over their naked posteriors. Guilty smiles refused to the leave their faces as their eyes searched my expression for signs of laughter. Not wanting to scar them for life by acting disgusted, I simply said, “Pull up your pants right now. Privates are private and I don’t want to see this happening again.” I paused for dramatic effect and then walked off. They quietly giggled when they thought I was out of ear shot. I rounded the corner to the kitchen and whispered, “What the HELL was THAT?” to no one in particular.

I thought the subject was closed until this afternoon.

“Mom? Why are butts private?”

“Because one day you won’t want to remember seeing or smacking your sister’s butt.”

“Why?”

“Because you’ll both be big and big people don’t normally look at their sister or brother’s rear ends.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s big and you’ll be big and…Jesus, Joe…People just don’t do that!”

“Well your butt is big and I’ve seen it.”

“That’s different and you shouldn’t come into the bathroom without knocking.”

“Why? You’re my mom.”

“Because one day you won’t want to remember seeing your mom’s butt naked.”

“Why not?”

“Because I said so. That’s why.”

“What about your boobs? Can I look at those?”

My head drops and I slowly begin pounding it against the counter…

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Family Photos

It has become quite clear…grandparents, aunts and uncles don’t share our humor. In fact, they despise the very photos that make us laugh. Apparently, they expect pictures of sweet, squeaky-clean and smiling toddlers clad in white smocked dresses and crisp button down shirts. In other words, they simply adore fake photos.

One LUCKY shot


Well, sure that was simple enough back when we had one kid and extra hours to burn with endless poses. Here’s Joe in the bathtub, here’s Joe next to the bathtub, here’s Joe standing up, here’s Joe sitting down…you get the gist. I’m as much of a sucker for a cute picture as the next sap, but come on…sometimes the most unflattering photos provide the most genuine glimpse of a day in the life.

Dave and I are fans of what we call Reality Photography. I’m the first to admit that, at times, our humor tends to be somewhat twisted. We’ve been known to send photos to our parents aimed at making them question both our mental capacity and parental abilities. You know, to make them wonder exactly where they went wrong…(insert evil laugh here).

No, Gwen was not hit by the car. She was making a snow angel, but you can imagine the alarm that this photo caused among the senior-set. They were not amused. Not at all.



We call this one “Old Married Couple”. Notice that Gwen is demanding to be heard. Not much has changed in the time since this photo was snapped.
We’re not sure what to make of this one. Is it a glimpse into frat parties yet to come? I’m worried…but it still makes me giggle.
A few years back we put this one on a Christmas card. You can imagine the uproar it caused. The sheer horror that ensued was epic. Once the grandparents’ discovered this was the Christmas card that their friends would view, they were less than pleased. We still maintain that it was funny, but it will go down in history as the year of  “that screaming card”.
If you’ve read I Am Six. Hear Me Roar, then you know that not even our school pictures are immune to future mortification. This is Joe’s official first grade photo. I’ll fess up, I was freaked out at first, but now I’m thinking that it is possibly the most awesome school picture ever. One day, we’ll cherish the laser beams and Spiderman jammies. Really. We will.

Alas, we have caved to peer pressure and reverted to the socially acceptable Christmas cards once again. I’ve already begun snapping away in hopes of capturing the perfect photograph for our 2011 holiday greeting. I figure that at some moment over the next 11 months, the stars will align and provide the perfect fake photo.

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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

As I prepare for a week away, I’m reposting some older blog entries. This is the early draft of something I submitted in my manuscripts.

In 10th grade I had a boyfriend. He was my first “real” boyfriend. Meaning, the first boy who appealed to my hormonally charged sensibilities and pleaded for sexual favors. He liked to stand in the hallway with his good-boy, preppy clique and call out invitations to get ice cream later that night. Stupid me. Here I thought ‘ice cream’ actually meant ice cream. Not so, advised an insider to that particular boy’s club. In this instance, ice cream was a veiled reference to IT or any pathetic fumbling on the quest to attain IT. No wonder my public enthusiasm for ice cream dates were greeted high-fives from the fellas!

One evening, before I was clued in to the double entendre of ice cream, he picked me up and drove me to the local ice cream stand that boasted a cult following. Truth be told, I found him to be a bit too “vanilla” but I wasn’t above a ride to grab a vanilla ice cream cone from Martha’s. Sure, I participated in some clumsy backseat fumbling, but I never had any plans to give IT up to him. At that moment in time, I had no plans to gift any boy I knew with my most precious gift. My interest was piqued by the boys who were bad. The cocky boys who nonchalantly leaned against their lockers with arms crossed and feigned disinterest. Sometimes, I purposely walked down their hallway before the first bell, just to flirt. They pretended to take no notice of me, but I was sly enough to look back and catch them eyeing my acid-washed clad behind. I was bold enough to flash a knowing glance and flirt with those boys who were dangerous for the reputation (and heart).

Yet, my parents kept me on a relatively short leash with respect to who I was allowed to “go out” with. Car Dates, as my mother called them, were strictly forbidden. That is, until Mr. Vanilla came along in his mother’s white sedan. He must have looked safe and his invitations to ice cream sounded so innocent. A mother’s dream come true. A slightly nerdy boyfriend with a fondness for ice cream dates. On paper, he must have seemed like a throwback to the years of June Cleaver. The reality of the situation was quite the opposite.

The rumor was, his father found condoms in his room and assumed that I was some kind of little hussy bent on impregnating myself and latching onto a ‘good catch”, the Who’s Who of upstate New York, the creme de la creme of Warren County! If only his father had known the truth behind his son’s backseat pleadings. The way he grabbed my hand that time and forced it to touch things I had no interest in touching. The insistent attempts to pull up my cheerleading skirt and get into the bloomers beneath. And all I ever wanted was an ice cream cone. I was repulsed, but for some reason I kept dating him for the second half of 10th grade. Until the day I happened upon him crying in the very hallway where the bad boys loitered. He had been rejected by the university of his dreams. I’m fairly sure it was the public crying that put me off.

Then summer came along and I climbed into a car with a bad boy, leaving Mr. Vanilla in my wake. He asked me out for ice cream a few more times, but I was onto him at that point. I had no interest in him or his incessant rubbing against my leg. He boasted that we had “done it”. I was sure the whole town had heard and believed his lie. The priest at my parish questioned me on the very subject before I was allowed to make my confirmation. He seemed to privy to more (fictional) details than necessary. Behind his glasses, his dour and slightly creepy expression told me he thought I was a lying whore. I later learned that he had no right to judge anyone for their sexual exploration given his penchant for boys.

Late summer came and Mr. Vanilla came to bid me a dramatic farewell, as if I would be devastated by his departure. I was happy to have him out of my hair. Yet, even from several states away, he’d call and sob about his homesickness and his desire for me. I know I wasn’t sympathetic. Sometimes I put the phone down on the floor next to my head and simply interjected lame “uh huhs” and “mmm hmmm’s” at regular intervals. My bad boy boyfriend and I had taken things to the next level and soon, I stopped answering Mr. Vanilla’s calls. At some point, he stopped calling. I suspected that he found someone at his enormous college that wasn’t repulsed by his forceful hand-to-penis placement. I wanted to send her a thank you note and some pepper spray.

He called me the next summer and invited me to ice cream. I declined and went with my bad boy instead. He bought me chocolate and vanilla twists with rainbow sprinkles.

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Gwennie’s Little Helper

As I get ready for ten days away from home and Narragansett No. 7, I thought about stopping to write something funny. I’ve got nothin’ today. That could change, but for now here’s an oldie but goodie.

I have two glasses of wine each night. Don’t judge.

After consuming my two glasses of bottled relaxation, I’m generally sufficiently exhausted. If I am able to successfully shirk my evening dog walking duty, I generally drag myself up the stairs and leave my wine glass behind on kitchen counter. Sometimes, I leave a few sips behind too.

I used to do that. Until last Sunday morning.

Gwen sat at the kitchen table on Sunday morning looking rather teenage-ish with her hair piled on top of her head and wearing pink silky pajamas. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you catch a fleeting glimpse of what the kids are going to look like in ten more years? It happens here on occasion and it never ceases to make me stop dead in my tracks and hold my breath for a moment. It’s magical to see your pre-schooler momentarily looking so mature as she sits with her head resting in one hand and twirls a strand of hair in the other. She dutifully sat waiting for her breakfast, made courtesy of Daddy who happily prepares the morning meal each Sunday.

I continued watching my beautiful girl as she noshed on her preferred breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. She caught me looking. Her face brightened and she opened her mouth to speak. “Mommy, you know?… I was thirsty in the night so I got a drink and I wasn’t even scared!” Gwen speaks with her hands, so the ‘wasn’t even scared’ part was punctuated by a chopping movement with her right hand.

I took a moment to ponder her extraordinary claim of bravery. There is a mug in the kid’s bathroom that they use to rinse their mouths after brushing, so though out of the ordinary, her story seemed plausible. “Wow, Gwen…so you went to the bathroom all by yourself in the dark?” I was impressed. She’s normally terrified of the dark. I’m talking about shrieks and panic if the lights go out…it’s that bad.

“Nope”, she said as she noisily chomped on a piece of bacon, “I came down here to get a drink.”

I was skeptical. My right eyebrow raised and my lips pushed out in thought. Thus began my line of questioning.

Gwen nonchalantly described the happenings of the prior night as she licked the butter from her toast. I cynically listened as she recounted the details. It seems that she woke up in the wee hours of the morning feeling extremely parched. Despite her normal reticence to even stick a toe into a darkened room, she saw fit to leave the safety of her cozy pink bed piled high with the protection of her ‘special animals’. She then descended the dark stairs and walked through the gloomy, silent house to the kitchen to fetch herself a drink.

I wasn’t buying her story.

I asked her how she could possibly get a drink downstairs when she couldn’t reach anything. As she noisily munched away at her second piece of fatty, nitrate filled breakfast meat Gwen told us that she was sooooo thirsty, but she couldn’t find a ‘kid’ cup. Being a resourceful little gal, she spotted my abandoned glass of wine on the counter and figured what the heck?

So, my four year old bellied up to the bar, err…kitchen counter and commenced sipping pinot grigio from a stemless glass. By herself. Well, not technically by herself since Stella was probably watching from her crate.

As she described her nocturnal wine consumption and general distaste for pinot grigio, my eyes wandered to the glass. It was empty.

Joe helpfully pointed to the box of wine in the pantry that was left behind by my mother. “Next time why don’t you just get a drink from the wine maker, Gwen?”

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The Conversation

 

We all have a pair of shoes that tell a story. It may be a story remembered or a story that never happened, but shoes can speak volumes, after all they’ve walked many miles. This week we want you to take a picture of your favorite pair of shoes (or a pair of shoes with a story) and tell the story of those shoes. Where have they been? Where will they take you? Let the shoes do the talking!

 

Hey, what did we do before children? I can’t remember.

I don’t know…we went out dinner, traveled a bit, cocktails. We just walked a lot.

Remember when we used to go shopping on Newbury Street then meet up with the Alden’s at Cigar Masters?

Oh, right. I remember that! They’re so handsome. Then we’d walk across the street and check out the scene at Saks.

Mmmm hmmm…and sometimes we’d even take gorgeous couple home with us.

So naughty…even when we knew we shouldn’t do it.

Remember that time we went back to New York and ran into all those old shoes?

Oh my God. Are you talking about that time that we ran into the old sneakers? What were their names…?

..The Nikes.

Right, the Nikes! But we looked good that night!

Damn good!

Those old things didn’t expect to see us walk into that bar.

What about that French bistro in Beacon Hill…

Pierrot Bistro Francais?

Yes, that’s the place. We went there a few times.

Of course. I loved it because the walk from the parking lot to the restaurant was easy.

Right…no cobblestones.

Shudder

I’ll never forget that night we tried to walk on the cobblestones a Faneuil Hall.

Well, those cocktails sure didn’t help!

Laughter

At least there was no permanent damage.

Yeah.

Sigh

I miss us. I miss those times. I feel boxed in.

It’ll get better.

Seriously, I can’t live like this. I can’t stand this tiny box anymore. I need to get out and live a little! We barely even talk to our friends anymore. For God sake, they’re shut-ins now too!

Those really tall black ones must be going crazy…what were their names?

The Gucci’s.

Oh, right…The Gucci’s…

Well, I don’t know about you but I’m kind of glad to see all those Blahniks get knocked off their high horse. What a bunch of elitists.

Hey, Jimmy?

Yeah, Choo?

Do you think she’ll mow the lawn with us on her feet again this summer?

I hope so Choo…I hope so, because I think our glamour-filled nights are over.

At least we’re still the favorites. Thank God we’re pink.

 

Ahhh…Summer.

Despite the fact that I now have only six days (eeeeeeeeeek!) until my residency, I’m squeaking out some family time this weekend. We hit two different beaches today and stopped for ice cream cones in our travels. My goodness, I love the ease of summer!

We’re coated in salt, sand and rainbow sprinkles.

Gwen and I picked wild strawberries together when we got home.

I simply sat in an Adirondack chair and watched my children laugh those hard, delightful little kid laughs…because someone said the word “poop”.

Actually, it was Joe saying, “Watch out for that enormous dog poop, Gwen!”

“Where?”

“Right there” he pointed, “I think Stella had a lot of breakfast because that’s the biggest turd I’ve ever seen!”

Insert shrieks of laughter here

I looked up from my book to see them puzzling over poo. I’ll admit that their curiousity – their sheer amazement – piqued my interest.

So I went to have a look too.

“That’s not dog poo, it’s Kate poo!” I flinched and we all backed away like it might stand up and bite us. I recalled the video that David showed me last night after I got home from the mall. The cute video where he captured our three naked children running laps around the house.

“Joe, go tell Daddy to come outside and pick up this poo.”

Goodness, I love the ease of summer.

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Inner Child

What’s a good sign that winter has nearly overstayed it’s welcome? Well, generally its right around the time that I begin fantasizing about performing Stupid Mommy Tricks. Let me point out that I have never claimed to be completely normal. I’m just not. I’ve learned to embrace my inner-weirdo. Believe me, it has taken many years of costly therapy to come to the conclusion that I’m okay. Are you okay?

I’m the product of the late 70’s “feel good” vibe and the 80’s “Me Generation.” To sum it up, I’m all sorts of messed up. I’m a strange dichotomy of selfishness, but filled with love for my fellow man. I publicly joined ranks with Nancy Reagan and said “No” to drugs, but smoked huge bongs in my friend’s basement. I empathized with Allison but was more of a Claire… I thought that when I grew up, I’d drive a Ferrari, have a lucrative career as a super-model and miraculously sprout some boobies. Sadly, none of that happened. I have, however, somehow managed to tenaciously cling to my inner child.

Keeping Inner Child around to the ripe old age of none-of-your-damn-business has, at times, been difficult. Let’s just say that a career in the legal field, specifically personal injury and medical malpractice, put a damper on some of my more careless acts of stupidity. Skiinghas become a minefield of possible injuries, potential run-ins with orthopedic surgeons and their barberic tools of trade. I’ll admit that for awhile there, I became a bit of a buzz kill. A veritable Debbie Downer bent on presenting every possible tragic outcome of say…a walk down the driveway.

Just last week, as I procrastinated my exit from bed by feigning interest in the morning news, I was greeted with images of roof collapses and information about heavy snow load and pounds per square foot. Within moments, I conjured a visual of our house, complete with a caved-in roof and emergency personnel parked in the driveway. Surely, the snow up there was heavy enough to cause certain death.

Despite the fact that none of my neighbors were doing so, I climbed out of the guest room window and began shoveling snow from my roof. I gasped at the huge task ahead of me and it didn’t take very long to realize that I was never going to be able to tackle this chore on my own. Soon, my coat was unzipped and I paused to take a breather. As I paused, a neighbor drove past. Maybe I’m over thinking things, but when he slowed down to gawk at me on the roof, I suddenly felt very much like a displaced New York girl. I faked a confident wave and pretended to nonchalantly lean on my shovel until he drove away. After he rounded the corner, silence closed in and I finally paused long enough to see this…

and this…

I gingerly inched my feet to the edge of the roof line and peered over at the pile of snow that I’d shoveled onto the ground. It took just a moment to be transported back in time. I was standing in a 3rd story window of our “Big Barn” during haying season, watching the hay elevator carry bale after bale to that top floor. As each section of the enormous 3rd floor was filled with hay bales, the elevator would move down to a new window, leaving a pile of hay remnants behind. It was those piles of hay that would catch my 9-year-old body as I fearlessly leaped from the window and rode through the air in a joyful free fall. I’d quickly hitch a ride on the next hay bale being carried to the third story and jump out the window. Again and again, I would jump.

So Friday morning, as I stood perched at the edge of my roof, I recalled the exhilaration of my free falls. It’s true, this is no three story drop but it’s been awhile. Inner Child urged me to jump.

So I did.

Welcome home, Inner Child.

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