Friday, July 29, 2011

It's Story Time

Running out of fairy tales. Here's a little change in the classic book Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.

"Mom, I think we need to have that boundaries talk again."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You Know You Have a Toddler When...

Cries for Mom at 2:00 am are met with "Damn it," instead of "Oh my God, what's wrong?"

You tip servers based on their compassion and understanding.

You are a little suspicious of Steve's successor, Joe.

You have a standard fake smile and retort when people say, "My, she/he's got a lot of energy!"

You are becoming an awesome speller. Because even a quiet utterance like "park" or "ice cream" can create a snowball effect you are not prepared to deal with.

You have to bribe to get them in the tub, but set a timer to limit the amount of hand-washing.

You may have said, "Peanut butter does not belong in your ear."

You've considered a child leash.

You call trains "choo-choo trains" and cows "moo-cows," and you're talking with fellow adults.

You try to rouse your co-workers with a round of "What's gonna work? TEAMWORK!"

You've said, "No! Please stop!" or "I'm so sorry" over thirty times at a grocery store. In one visit.

You've promised anything-- from candy to toys to unicorns to rocket ships-- just so they'd go to bed. And they've refused.

You still try to cram them into 18-month sized clothes because everything else is dirty.

You wonder why a young rabbit is allowed to sleep in a room with an exposed fireplace and obvious rodent problems.

Your partner is wearing sparkly pink nail polish and pretending to be in a marching band and you don't even blink.


What are your additions?

Monday, July 25, 2011

No Swearing: Day 1

I already failed. Norah got up at 5:00 am and the first words that muttered out of my mouth were "Damn it." But I'm going to keep at it.

I think that by limiting my use of curse words, I will bring back their special meaning. Right now they're just words.

Man, I have a lot of shit to do.

Damn, it's hot.

Where's that fucking towel?

But they used to be more powerful. Here are a couple of my favorite swearing moments from childhood:

Who: Me and my childhood friend, Crystal
When: I think I was around 7 or 8
Where: Summer Bible school
What: We had made kazoos using toilet paper rolls, wax paper, and a rubber band. We were leaving the church and Crystal had left hers on a table, and I got it and ran up to her.

"Don't you want your kazoo?" I asked.
"I don't want that piece of shit."
And the Bible school teacher was right behind her.

I still giggle when I think of that moment.

Who: Mom, Dad, sister, me
When: 9 years old?
Where: In the car. Road trip to Oregon from Minnesota.
What: We were going to take a pit stop and visit my great aunt and her little poodle.

Dad: Yeah, she really loves that stupid little dog.
Mom: What's it's name? It's Pingo, or Pongo, or Dipshit or something.


And here are some of my favorite cinematic swearing moments:

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Clark goes batshit when he finds out his holiday bonus is a jelly-of-the-month-club membership.

Pulp Fiction: Samuel L. Jackson's character asks for his wallet back.

The Big Lebowski: Walter and Donny.


And my favorite Subversive Cross Stitch pattern:


Ah, good times. Making curse words generic has weakened them for me. This sabbatical will do me some good, and remind me that swearing can be awesome in appropriate situations.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: The Ugly Duckling

I will make a better ending.

"Ha, ha. I'm a swan now, bitches."

"You know, we were wrong to tease you. And maybe the true moral of this story isn't about how one day you'll grow into your own, or become more attractive. Maybe the moral of this story needs to be about finding the beauty within yourself, and being kind to others."

"Eh, fuck you."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No More Swearing?

Well. It happened. My mother's worst fear. We were playing outside. It was an ordinary day. I had just gone inside and had forgotten what I was going to retrieve, which wasn't unusual. I stepped back outside.

"What the..." I trailed off.

And Norah, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, finished my sentence.

And she didn't say "heck." Or even "hell." You know what I'm saying.

Ryan looked at me and I could almost hear his brain repeating that TV commercial that says, "Dial 'lawyers.' L-A-W. Y...E...R...S."

It got me to thinking that I really need to stop swearing. While on some level it was hilarious, on another level, swearing toddlers aren't exactly socially acceptable, and as she goes to Catholic school, that could pose some problems.

So I am planning a swear-free week. Just like South Beach. I will break my addiction to swearing by eliminating swear words for a period of time. Then after the addiction is broken, I will slowly introduce swear words into my lexicon, but only in appropriate situations, such as if someone were to steal my parking spot.

I'll start on Monday. Until then-- fuckity fuck fuck!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If My Brain Filter Didn't Work

Here are the fantasy responses to recent conversations.

Ryan: Aren't you going to help put the groceries away?
Me: No, goddamn it. I work from home, yes, but I'm WORKING. Also, you need more day shifts because having you at home in the mornings is annoying and is making me stabby.

Me: Then get a job and go buy some.

Norah (pushing her kid-grocery cart at the store): I'm driving!
Woman (visibly annoyed): I see that.
Me: You don't know how fortunate you are to even gaze upon my perfect little angel, Jerkface. Now get out of her way.

Neighbor Girl (for the third time in one day): Can Norah come out and play?
Me: Good lord, kid. You are so lonely and you need attention. Your parents fucking suck.

Norah: Terrible Kangaroos, please!
Me: I think I'm going to hunt down the author of this book and punch him in the face.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: The Three Little Pigs

I will make this story better.

"Ha, ha, sucker."

"Yeah, the little brick house on the left. Thanks."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Expect This excerpt

Here's a little excerpt from my book, Expect This. It's from when I was at the very end of my pregnancy. Just kind of shows what a wuss I was. If you like it, you can click on the tab above and check out the book, but no pressure, of course.

Hope you like it!

         When I sat down for a little break, I noticed some little flashes appearing in the peripheral vision of my right eye. My memory immediately recalled information about preeclampsia, headache, and flashes. Where had I read that? Email? Book? Blog? Nowhere? Was I making up symptoms because of stress? Better safe than sorry.
He couldn’t hear me over the running water.
I heard the water turn off and a very panicked Ryan ran into the living room. I explained to him what I thought was happening. 
“Let’s Google it,” he suggested. 
Google came up with exactly what I remembered reading. In regards to what to do when experiencing such symptoms, it suggested calling the doctor. I called the nurse line and impatiently waited for the on-call nurse to call back, telling myself it was reasonable that there was no one at my beck and call on a Saturday night. Ryan said he was going to keep at the dishes, but didn’t move. 
“Chuck Jones is spinning in his grave,” I said absentmindedly as the remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas played on the TV. 
A few minutes later, the phone rang out its “Electric Avenue” ring tone, which seemed a lot less fun and cute all of a sudden, and the nurse on the other end gave us her advice. 
“Well, get your shoes on,” Ryan said. “I’ll warm up the car.” He almost went outside shoeless until I stopped him.
We only let the car warm up a few minutes, so it was still pretty cold when we got in. The car made a painful squealing noise backing up. I didn’t know if it was the car in the cold or the snow beneath the tires. Eventually all we could hear was the blowing of the vents and the soft murmur of talk radio, just low enough that you couldn’t quite hear what the reporters were talking about. 
I didn’t want to be a parent. I wasn’t ready. Not mature. Not patient. Not selfless. It hit me that it was too late. No matter what, my life, as I knew it, was over. No more sleeping in. No more just up and leaving the house any time I wanted. No more money (not that we had an abundance or anything). No more living on my own schedule. Now I’d be in charge of a baby. No more choices. It was either do all these things associated with caring for a baby, or it would die. Or Ryan would die, trying to do it on his own. And then I’d eventually die anyway from guilt. Waking up at all hours of the night. Screaming. Crying. Poo. Constantly trapped in the house. $25 for each can of formula. $139 a week for day care. $11 for a pack of diapers. At a changing every two to three hours, that came to 50 to 60 diapers a week. Over 200 in a month. Wanna lie on the couch and watch a crappy movie? Nope. Gotta rock the baby to sleep. Wanna go to the bar with the girls? Nope. No sitter with such short notice. Wanna buy a new pair of shoes? Nope. Extra money goes toward baby clothes and baby toys.
And how could I possibly do all this anyway? I can’t remember to send back my Netflix DVDs. I’ve had a disc from the fifth season of The Sopranos for months. Not to mention that I now own Saw II because I lost it somewhere in my house. I hate doing dishes and let the sink fill up until I have to wash a fork to use one. I never make my bed. I stay late at work every day. I’d rather go to a dive bar and drink cheap, light beer until I end up karaoke-ing to a Stevie Wonder song than stay home reading The Hungry Caterpillar. I have a 1998 Oldsmobile 88 and student loan officers are tracking me down like mafia hit men. And Ryan? Sure, he’s sweet and smart and has a nice ass and everything, but he had just put an empty Coke can on the counter, which two frickin’ feet away from the recycling container. 
What if we do make it through the newborn stage? It’s not as if someone sweeps in, as if to say, “Good job. I’m the real parent. I’ll take this off your hands.” 18 years. According to my mother, 30 years plus. It’s not temporary. It’s the biggest commitment anyone could ever possibly make. Marriages can end in divorce. Mortgages can be paid off or foreclosed on. Tattoos can be laser removed. 
And every year, every month, every day, and every second you spend with your baby or your child can influence what kind of person they turn out to be, what kind of memories will fill their minds. You can’t predict what a child will take to heart. You can tell them a thousand times that doing drugs is bad, and wind up finding a giant bong made out of a plastic dinosaur in their closet. Tell them over and over that education is important, and they end up skipping their PSATs to go to a Vandals concert. But off-handedly make one remark about how you wish you were as thin as Heidi Klum, and she develops an eating disorder. Or blow off one softball game to work late, and she ends up being a workaholic. You could have millions of happy memories of camping or going to the park or visiting the grandparents. What if the only visit they vividly remember is the one you and Dad got into a huge screaming fight in the car over confusing directions?  Out of all the times they get in trouble, what if they only remember the one time you lost your temper and spanked them? 
That’s just the damage I could do to another person. What about others? What happens if she comes home from school crying because some little punk was mean to her? Tom Hutchinson teased me relentlessly in sixth grade about my glasses, my hair (I couldn’t do the 80s bangs with any skill), and because I used a “professor word.” I couldn’t get away from his skinny, pimply face. I came home crying almost every day, and I remember my mother sitting on the edge of my bed, telling me to ignore him. Just ignore him and he’ll pick on someone else. I remember because she had pain in her eyes, just the same as my own, because some little fuck was messing with her baby and it hurt her. There wasn’t anything she could do. What if her friends turn on her in elementary school? What if she’s bad at sports or terrible in math or speaks with a stutter? What if a boyfriend treats her badly? What if she’s molested? What if she’s abducted? What if she’s raped? Murdered? 
I wanted to go back in time and change our minds. I never stopped taking the pill. I didn’t want to be pregnant. And I didn’t want to have a baby.
Once at the hospital, we got checked in and before we knew it, I was secured to a table with blue and pink straps that also held a fetal monitor. People came in and out, asking questions, checking the monitor, inflating the blood pressure band, and unapologetically lifting my hospital gown. Blood pressure was fine. Headache was gone. Flashes gone. Urine okay. Baby heartbeat good. Not dilated. No preeclampsia. No induction. 
The medical staffers left us to gather our things and for me to dress. I went to the small bathroom to find my clothing.
“You know,” Ryan said, “I was kind of hoping they’d induce you tonight. Is that bad or what?”
“Why? That labor is supposed to be worse than normal.”
“Oh. I didn’t know that.” He paused. “I just am ready, that’s all. And I hate seeing you so uncomfortable every day.”
I pulled on my stretchy pants. “You’re ready?”
“Yeah. You’ve had nine months to get to know the baby. I want to meet her.”
I didn’t answer. Instead I felt guilty for all the horrible thoughts bouncing off each other in my head. What depraved pregnant woman could think such things? There was a living being inside of me. It was a miracle; a blessing. Think of all the women unable to conceive who would do anything to be in your place. Think of your daughter having a horrible mother who doesn’t want her. I started crying.
“Are you crying? What is it?” Ryan opened the bathroom door and put his arms around me.
I composed myself somewhat after a few seconds. “You know how everyone always says the moment you give birth and lay eyes on your baby, you feel this incredible, unconditional love?”
“What if I don’t?”
“What are you talking about,” he said, starting to sway me back and forth.
“That book—What to Expect. It said that sometimes it takes weeks for mothers to bond and to feel that. What if that’s me? What if it never happens?”
“It’ll happen. It’ll happen. Don’t stress out about that kind of stuff. You will be a great mother.”
“What if I change my mind?” The tears started again.
“Honey.” He just smoothed my hair. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
The car ride home was a lot shorter. We pulled into our driveway and watched as a rabbit bounded across the yard in the yellow glow of the headlights on the snow. It disappeared into the dormant lilac bushes. Ryan spoke as I started to unlatch the door.
“You’ll love her.”
I wasn’t convinced. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

PMS Post-Child

**This post is going to be about female issues, so, Dad, if you're reading, you may want to stop right here and catch a game of poker online instead.**

I used to be pretty lucky. I never had cramps. Very mild irritability. A little bloating. But after having Norah, I have some crazy-ass PMS.

Here's how it begins: I'm just a little tired. Little things start to bug me. I overreact a little bit.

My brain: If that storm door doesn't latch next time I close it, I'm going to burn this house to the ground.

Next, I start mentally responding to everything Ryan says with irrational rage or bitter sarcasm.

Ryan: You did a wash, but there aren't any clean socks?
My brain: Are your hands fucking broken?

Ryan: I can't find my wallet.
My brain: If you lose your wallet one more time, I'm going to duct tape it to your hairy ass.

Ryan: Could you turn on the air conditioning before I come home from work so it's cool in here?
My brain: Pussy.

Ryan: Are you okay?
My brain: Go to hell. 

I also start giving him the finger when I'm in a different room. Next, I'll start eating. I mean eating. And not salads and shit. Eggos with peanut butter, Norah's M&Ms that we use for potty rewards, cheese puffs, and anything else I find in the house, as long as the expiration date is less than one year passed. This step often overlaps the first.

Ryan: What's for dinner?
Me: S'mores.
My brain: Go ahead. Say something, motherfucker. 

After eating and raging for a few days, my lower back starts to ache. Really bad. I start walking around holding my lower back like an old lady cartoon character. I can't carry Norah, much to her dissatisfaction.

Norah: Caaaarry meeee.
Me: I can't, Honey. Mommy's back hurts.
Norah's brain: This is bullshit.

And I'm sucking down Advil like they're Norah's M&Ms. The pain is making my anger worse.

Now I'm bubbling over with rage. My mind is letting angry comments leak out to Ryan.

Ryan: Hey, let's order pizza tonight.
Me: God, I'm going to punch you in the face.

Driving, at this point, is dangerous. Not so much for me, but for others. They don't have to cut me off or tailgate me. If I just think their car is an ugly color, I'm on the cusp of a major road rage incident. I can't watch much TV, either. Especially crime dramas, like First 48.

Detective: He was shot close-range in the face. This was personal. Very personal.
My brain: Psh. I could shoot a stranger in the face right now.

These thoughts are actually starting to worry me. And right at the point when my back is throbbing relentlessly, my appetite has caused me to gain 32 pounds, and my anger is about to result in a national tragedy, I get my period.

Then I'm fine. Ryan doesn't annoy me. (He's actually pretty awesome most of the time.) I feel good. Back to normal eating. Just like that.

Fairy Tale Friday: Cinderella

I will shorten this story and make it better.

"Oh, woe is me! All this cleaning and working and slaving away."
"Oh, please."

"Young lady, you know the chore chart is divided up equally."

"But my step-sisters never do anything!!"
"Well, then they won't be going to the water park this weekend, will they?"

"And you won't either, Missy, unless you change that attitude. And stop calling yourself 'Cinderella' for heaven's sake. You're embarrassing me in front of the neighbors."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You Hurt Me

This is Norah's new catch phrase: "You hurt me."

This catch phrase is preceded by any time we say no. We don't physically hurt her. We're not spankers or anything. But we do occasionally tell her "no," which is consistently met with the following exchange:

"YOU HURT ME." Falling on the ground, dramatically. Tears. "OW!"

We've tried telling her that we didn't hurt her. This doesn't work.

"Honey, no one hurt you."


We've tried correcting. It doesn't work.

"Honey, do you mean we hurt your feelings?"


We've tried ignoring. No workie.



"YOU HURT ME!!!" Sobbing. Falling on the ground. Hanging on a leg.

So, why do I care? Well, as any parent, I imagine, I'd like my child to graciously accept what I've told them to do, and even apologize, if necessary.

"No, Norah, you can't climb up the back of the couch and try to jump down to the floor."

"Okay, Mommy. You are so thoughtful and wise."

I also am a little worried this "You hurt me" business is going to make her daycare providers or passerbys think that Ryan and I use excessive physical discipline. We've got a kid who is always saying someone hurt her. What would you think?

And maybe it's more that I don't want people to think I spank or physically discipline at all because I'm so against it. (Sorry, spankers. Just my opinion.)

Or maybe it's just because it's super... annoying. I'm not used to Norah being annoying. Every syllable she has spoken has been perfect, like birds singing Mozart. (Yeah, I'm "that" mom.) And now this "You hurt me" phase (please let it be a phase) is... well... ANNOYING AS SHIT. I've actually felt the urge to tell my beautiful, perfect angel to SHUT IT. Wow.

Anyone have a similar experience so that I don't feel as bad?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fairy Tale, ur, Saturday: Princess and the Pea

I will shorten this story and make it better.

"Oh, what a terrible night's sleep!"
"Um... really? ...Hey... I have an early meeting today. I'll call you."