Thursday, February 2, 2012

Monday on a Thursday

Ever had one of those days as a mom? It is like a Monday that happens on any given day. It begins before your Keurig can brew its first cup of morning coffee. Your oldest daughter comes to you ten minutes before she is suppose to be at school and says, "I have no clean pants." Your four year old interrupts to tattle on the ten year old for eating the last of the cereal and then throws herself into a dramatized coughing fit taking no measure to cover her mouth that has now become a germ cannon aimed directly at you and her one healthy sister who is certain that said cougher is trying to sabotage her perfect attendance record by systematically breaking down her immune system. She does legitimately have a cough to some degree, you can tell by the rough baritone note it is throwing, but she is coughing extra violently to make sure you know she has a cough. The too-smart-to-be-a-two-year-old behind her politely and articulately states she is choosing to fill her diaper rather than use the potty. Again. Though you barely hear her over the baby screaming from her crib with green snot smeared back to her ear. You silently plead to your husband who shrugs and looks down at the mis-matched pair of socks he is wearing for the third day in a row and suddenly your body temperature starts to rise. You can feel the heat start from your toes and rise up your body, your brows furrow and your eyes narrow. Your family starts to flinch back when your ears begin to redden and as you open your mouth they scatter like frightened woodland creatures at the echo of a shot gun blast. Now you don't even have anyone to cast your frustrations on so you stand there with your fists and teeth clenched until the heat goes away and you see clearly again.
Seeing clearly lasts only until you walk into your oldest daughter's closet and find what she actually meant was, "I don't have any clean skinny jeans and the rest of these I just don't feel like wearing- especially not the ones with the tags still on them!" That vision of seeing her walk out the door this February morning in shorts brings the red heat back and you begin pace on top of the pile of mostly folded clothes that you washed last week and set inside her room to be put away. They, of course, were never put away but, instead, scattered and stomped flat by a week's worth of foot traffic.
Right now. Now is when you want to throw in the towel. You send the scathing text to your husband at work reading, "You all suck. I quit." and you briefly entertain fantasies of driving to the airport. Destination: Anywherebuthere. You are certain that is a real place. But then you remember you have Parent/Teacher conferences scheduled tomorrow, a table full of women are expecting you at your bi-monthly MOPS meeting in the morning, you owe your mom money for the bountiful basket she is picking up for you on Saturday, and Sunday your husband has invited friends to watch the Patriots win yet another Super Bowl- an institution that he despises but still believes he should be able to partake in the cold beer and all-you-can-eat finger food. And, lets face it... that all-you-can-eat finger food does sound pretty good to you. You sigh and realize that even though nothing is being done satisfactorily now, nothing will be done at all if you make your run for it. Or worse, it will all be done more efficiently with one of your husbands systems he is always trying to implement where everyone wears the same uniform with name badges that just have an assigned number on them that matches the one that is displayed on his smart phone when he scans the QR code tattooed to your wrist. His notarized laminated blue prints outlining a structured daily routine of chores, scheduled potty breaks and meal replacement shakes are no joke. No, you cannot let that happen. You are the first and only line of defense against your husband's disturbing regime and it is a dangerous, thankless job. But if you focus on Sunday's finger food, and not that silver snot streak the baby just left on your micro-suede sofa cushion, you might survive the day and even be productive.
Now, you proclaim, it is time to tackle this Monday on a Thursday so that your husband is not disappointed to find that your I quit text was a hoax. You slam that Keurig cup of coffee, dole out the cough syrup, wipe the line of snotty noses, and climb the stairs to start on that laundry. Ready. Set. Go.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Butt Cheek Blues

I was sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor changing baby Vera's diaper when Jasper, my two year old, knelt behind me and began jabbing her index finger into my back fat which (I had not realized until that moment) was visibly spilling over my jeans and out of my shrinking t-shirt. Giggling, she sank her chubby peanut butter and jelly finger into my chubby side again and again. I was becoming increasingly self-conscious when she asked me something I will never forget, "Is dat you butt cheeks?"

I choked.

If the postcard I received in the mail that week from the local YMCA advertising "No Joining Fee" didn't speak to me, my extra set of butt cheeks certainly did.

I cannot say that I hadn't noticed my jeans were fitting too tight. I mean, I had to lay down on the bed to get them zipped and then do squats once they were buttoned in hopes to gain some maneuverability. My t-shirts had all become unsightly; that is why I had been rotating through my growing zippered hoodie collection. My entire wardrobe was coordinating layers. I guess I was hoping no one else noticed.

Staring at my No Joining Fee mailer, I reminisced on my past futile attempts at beginning a workout regimen. There was the time my friend and former co-worker, Polly, had talked me into Hot Yoga when I was six months pregnant with Lola. I had thought I might die that day. Who knew Hot Yoga as so... hot?

Two years later, I let Polly talk me into Zumba. I had watched her body transform into a rock hard vision of seduction during the two years since the yoga incident and I would have participated in anything she presented to me. Zumba was just loud music, rigorous dancing and a ton of sweat, almost like I was at a Ladies Only night club on my lunch break, and I felt really sexy until Polly asked me if I was Epileptic. (Gasp!) "I am not having a seizure! I am doing Zumba!" She didn't invite me back.

Most recently, my husband tricked me into a Spin class. What. A. Joke. We were late, because we are late for everything, so class had already started when we got there. I was stunned at how fast these people were peddling on their stationery bikes- like no one knew they were stationary. I looked to the back of the room to see who was chasing them. I had expected to see a gaggle uniformed cops back there running in place. There was not. Instead, there were two empty bikes and Oliver was already moving to claim them. Thirty minutes on my stationary bike and I was begging for Hot Yoga. My rear end and girl parts felt as though I had been assaulted. There is no delicate way to state that.

Snapped out of my reverie, I reluctantly placed my No Joining Fee mailer into my purse and drove across town to see about a membership at the Y.

Last evening, with my gym savvy husband coaching me, I completed my first work out. Oliver worked my legs and even my butt cheeks in the weight room until I staggered out of there on burning legs of jello. Today, I am sore from the tops of my shoulders to the tops of my knees and it feels fabulous. Mark my words, I will get my two original God-given butt cheeks back and they will be better than before.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Biddies, by Invitation Only

Yesterday, I was allowed the privilege of posing as a "Biddy."
What is a biddy, you ask? Well, the dictionary defines it as:  a fussbudget, especially a fussy old woman, a woman, esp an old gossipy or interfering one; or a chicken; a dialect word for hen. It was with this definition in mind that, as an adolescent child, I named my mother and her group cackling lady friends who met around our dining table every Monday night to indulge in wine and create show stopping craft projects, during which time I was banished to my bedroom to adhere to an early bed time. To be perfectly honest, I called them "Old Biddies." They called themselves a "sewing circle," but later adopted the word "Biddies" to describe their tight-knit group of crafty friends, choosing to forgo "old."
I am not sure what the initiation process was that made you a bonafide "Biddy," but it must have been brutal. Occasionally, by invitation only, ladies would audition. Few made the cut and even less stood the test of time. I am also not sure when the Biddies went from being a group of annoying cackling hens (in my mind's eye) to a tradition I admire.
The Biddies have been meeting regularly for nearly 20 years now, although I wonder if they realize that. They have supported each other through child rearing, moves (both long distance and short), divorce, college classes, menopause, illness and death in each other's family, grandchildren, and milestones that I do not even know about. They no longer meet weekly, but monthly with additional "celebrations" mixed in throughout the year to account for each other's birthdays, Christmas, or other party-worthy events. I use the term "party-worthy" quite loose, as they will find any mundane reason to celebrate and it will be a shindig to remember.
It was one of these party-worthy events I was invited to attend last night. We were celebrating the lunar new year; or Chinese New Year- the year of the dragon. The party was being hosted by my mother's Biddy bestie, Brenda; who, in true Biddy fashion, had pulled out all the stops.
Brenda's home was adorned with beautiful Chinese art and decorations arranged in beautiful displays. Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling and wooden carved dragon art panels hung in front of the windows. Her home was warm and smelled of ginger and wasabi.
My mother and Brenda were dressed in traditional oriental attire made of silk, with chopsticks in their hair. Each Biddy, and myself- the Biddy poser- brought a Chinese dish to contribute. I can't prove that my recipe was traditionally Chinese, it was chosen because it had "Chinese" in the title, and the ingredients were in my cupboard. But what better dish for a Biddy poser to bring than a poser Chinese dish? Regardless of whether or not it was authentic, it was delicious and a total hit.
Here is the recipe:

Chinese Fried Walnuts & Pecans


  • 1 pound shelled walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • oil
  • salt


  1. Place walnuts in a medium stock pot. Cover with water and boil for 2 minutes. Strain, but do not rinse. Transfer to a bowl, and toss with sugar while still hot until well coated.
  2. Heat 3 inches of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil appears to shimmer, fry 1 nut to test for heat. Nut should begin to sizzle immediately. Fry 1/3 batch of nuts at a time for 4 to 5 minutes uncovered. Toss nuts before each batch, and repeat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer each batch to a cookie sheet to cool. Season to taste with salt, and break apart when cool
  3. Devour.

Besides wining and dining, the Biddies always exchange homemade or creative gifts. Jean, who, like my mother, is an O.B. (Original Biddy- a founding member), made origami kimonos to give last night. Brenda gave Year of the Dragon scratch tickets from which I won $4.

My mother beaded this beautiful charm out of Dragon Blood Jasper which, in Chinese culture, is said to enhance courage, strength and vitality. Above the Jasper stone is a black pearl symbolizing wisdom; and Jade for good luck and prosperity.

Later, the Biddies and I participated in a themed craft:
We made Luminary Lanterns by wrapping paper around a square block and gluing the sticks in place (like pictured) while still on the block. When the hot glue was dry, we slid the block out and, Viola! The paper illuminates beautifully with a lit candle inside.
We rounded out the evening with perhaps the greatest Biddy tradition: The Junk Swap. "'Cuz one Biddy's junk is another Biddy's treasure" ... or so I was told. I became a believer when I scored this fabulous dress form mannequin lamp!

Does it get any better?
My night as a guest in the exclusive members only Biddy club was bound to come to an end, but I am grateful for the delicious food, conversation, a night away from the kids, years of tradition, and my dress form mannequin lamp. Happy New Year, Friends and Biddies... and Biddy-friends!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Deterioration of my Brain

Mothers laugh among themselves about the loss of brain cells, increased forgetfulness, and borderline mental instability that occurs to varying degrees of severity after the birth of each child. Women without children or moms of just one "perfect child" roll their eyes and snicker about us "crazy moms" and silently tick off impossible ways in which they could do it better, often based on what they read in books or saw on the most recent episode of Super Nanny. Husbands and fathers have learned not to roll their eyes, snicker, or even let on that they notice any change at all due the mental instability factor. I don't need to see science behind it, because I know it to be true.
I was normal once. I had one perfect child once. I could pitch the sale and close the deal all day long, then head home to my perfect child and prepare dinner for my family and the neighbor each night. I even had a rockin' body, void of stretch marks, that effortlessly bounced right back into shape after the birth of my perfect child. I literally had no qualms or hesitations about having another baby. I entertained the same ideological fantasies the snickering women do. I was caught completely off guard.
Again, I don't care what the science says, I only know my experience. My experience was that, with the birth of my second child, I was lobotomized. Every functioning brain cell I possessed prior to Lola's conception was given to Lola on July 7, 2007. She was born smarter than me. She acquired all of my knowledge and firing synapse, her dad's physical strength, and our combined determination. I was defeated before the game began. Lola was like a nuclear detonation within my brain, and the initial fallout period lasted for 6 months postpartum and looked like this:
Charlie (my perfect child) was late to morning kindergarten. Every. Single. Day. And, once, I forgot to pick her up and she sat in the elementary school office for nearly an hour until my brain finally solved for the nagging, anxious feeling in my gut.
Charlie missed 6 months of weekly girl scout meetings and cookie sale outings, resulting in my personally purchasing nearly $300 worth of cookies and Charlie not returning to Brownies the next fall. Charlie also missed nearly all of her cheer leading practices, resulting in her being one step behind everyone on her cheer squad until she finally just sat down on the court and traced the lines on the hardwood with her index finger talking quietly to herself.
I was depressed. I wrote myself reminders that I lost. I wrote myself reminders to read my previous reminders, which I lost.
Mundane tasks such as cooking dinner for my family became daunting. I would grocery shop for dinner, have it started on the stove and be missing ingredients that I 'forgot' while grocery shopping or lost somewhere between the checkout and my kitchen. I would then scrap dinner, throw a tantrum, and order pizza.
Today, nearly five years and two additional children later, I still exhibit symptoms including memory loss- long term and short term, disorganization, perpetual procrastination, subtle mood swings accompanied by the occasional meltdown, high aspirations/ low productivity, and love handles.
Last year, Charlie's 4th grade year, was a milestone year for me. It was the first year that Mrs. Barron, the school's secretary, didn't call me every day (no exaggeration) to tell me that I had forgotten to pack Charlie a lunch.
I don't want to use my children as an excuse for unacceptable behavior, poor habits or chronic laziness. I am willing to do anything to recapture my mind and take back my body. Vitamins, exercise, Ginko Biloba, crossword puzzles. Give it to me! I am willing to put in the work... if I can remember.
Until then, I have this blog. Here is where I will input as much as I can before my mind erases it forever. I am tired of my kids and husband asking, "Really!? You don't remember that?" I hate looking back and thinking, "Which child said that inappropriate remark that one time at that one place with those people watching?" I have spent hours staring at my children trying to memorize what they look like on any given day- the curve of their nose- the blue of their eyes, how they pronounce 'cookie' like 'tookie' (That's Jasper, by the way...), or the sound of each child's bare feet or knees slapping on the hardwood floor. But I do forget.
I refuse to forget anymore. I will remember.
I will remember that Charlie can find value in anything and turn garbage into art. That Lola runs everywhere she goes and holds your belongings hostage in Monster Jail. That Jasper has an imaginary pet named Mr. Pettibone who lives in her hat. And that Vera playfully shakes her head no, no matter the context, and giggles when you shake your head at her. I will remember all of this because of this blog. And someday, I will say to my husband and my girls, "Really!? You don't remember that?" and I will roll my eyes and snicker.