Friday, November 30, 2007

No Bitchin' No Mo'

I didn't do the November Blog every day thing and you should thank me because November really kind of bit. So for December, although I wont be posting daily, I will only be posting happy.

You heard me. Happy stuff. Cookies and Ho Ho Ho and Joy and Jolly old Saint Nick. I need to do this. I get bogged down in my day-to-day crap and forget to see the great things I am blessed with and the funny stuff that makes up life.

By January you will be ready to have whiney old me back.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

More evidence to the contrary

So my birthday was Tuesday. It was fine. I got lots of cards and phone calls. I got some nice gifts from my sister and my parents and my friend Jackie. I got two gorgeous cards from my husband, plus the insistence that I schedule myself a massage and buy myself some "really good" new shoes. On him. All good. We also had cake four nights in a row. Cake. Four nights in a row. Yippee!

But birthdays end. And yesterday, the day after my birthday, I had a kah-rappy day. Here is a highlight from getting the kids out the door that morning - I got so angry and frustrated from the chasing, yelling, repeating, cajoling and re-dressing of my two sons, that I broke a wooden spoon. I just grabbed it and smacked it on the counter and broke it right in half. And I can tell myself that it was better than screaming (which I do) and much better than hitting (which I don't) but the fact is it freaked my kids out. So once the spoon pieces were retrieved and hidden deep in the trash, I had some damage control to do with the boys. I got on my knees and hugged them and told them that I was sorry if I had scared them, that Mommy was really mad and had a headache and it made me so angry that I broke the spoon. And it was wrong to break something just because I was mad and that I would not do it again. And I showed them that we had more wooden spoons. Since for whatever reason E seemed more concerned about the loss of a spoon than the loss of his mother's mind.

I can handle teething, and poop, and fevers and stomach viruses and rectal thermometers. But I hate this part of parenting. The part that has to suck up all of the mind-numbing repetitive stuff and toddler tantrum extremes and continue being sweet and respectful and kind and uplifting when what I really want to do is break things and run screaming from the house to find a boat on which to sail far, far away.

I would still miss them. The little $%^&'s. And they know this. My kids are wonderful, sweet and delicious little boys that bring me such great joy. They love me with a love that is so pure and boundless. I am not worthy. But I am trying to be.

By the way, it was my 40th birthday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I never saw this Elaine dance

When Tom and I bought our first house, we bought it for it's proximity to two cities. We were both working in Wilmington at the time, and he had visions of working in Philly again. The house was older and small, but pristine, and tucked at the end of a small dead end road with just five other homes.

It was quiet, so quiet. Everyone kept to themselves, in their neat little homes and their manicured little yards. I wasn't expecting to find a new best friend but Tom and I both wanted to at least meet our new neighbors. The second week we were there I made up Halloween candy bags for each of the families and Tom and I walked them around. We met the elderly couple across the street, the Korean family next door who were warm and welcoming in spite of our language barrier, and the young couple with a new baby.

The most interesting "couple" was at the other end of the street. They weren't a couple at all it turns out, but sister and brother, living in the home their parents had left them. They were both retired, from what I am not sure, but they were lively characters. She was Elaine, and she knew everything about us already; that we both worked, what we drove, what we had paid for our house, what the previous owners had paid years before, where they went and what they paid for their new house. She had a shrill, loud voice and crazy drawn on eyebrows, but she was friendly and obviously dying for company. Her house was at the entrance to the road, and her chair was parked in the big front window. She kept tabs on everyone and filled us in on the other neighbors comings and goings. I soon realized she was far better than any organized neighborhood watch. She introduced us to her brother Henry, who was watching four different TV's at once, all circa 1975, and at full volume. He was friendly enough, and Tom was able to discern somehow above the TV chaos that he liked to work odd jobs and was a junk collector and reseller. Elaine said we were the first neighbors to ever come for a visit and told us she was happy we were there.

In the weeks to follow, I would often come home from work to find little offerings from Elaine in the unlocked screened porch of our new home. It started with a bag of apples, then magazines and old books she was finished with, other fruit and cheese her brother got from his friend who owned a produce stand. I knew they were from Elaine because early on she waved an apple at me and pointed one day as I rode by. I stopped by to thank her and she seemed embarrassed by it, saying it was more than she and Henry could use anyway. Tom thought it was weird but I always kind of looked forward to her surprises. I left things for her too; tins of homemade cookies with her name on them, a loaf of homemade bread, a poinsettia, a pot of mums. It was our silent neighboring ritual. We almost never actually saw each other. She was busy with her old lady schedule of doctors appointments and church and neighbor surveillance. I was busy with work and socializing and shopping in my still kid-free with lots of disposable income schedule. I felt looked after and it also felt good to be able to reciprocate, even unseen.

We didn't live there long when we decided we wanted to take advantage of the rocketing surge in home prices in that area and the cheap mortgage rates in the nation (four years ago now). We found a neighborhood in another county of big new homes with huge lots and friendly prices. We put our house on the market and it sold in one day, for alot more than we paid for it. It all happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to talk to Elaine. I later learned she was miffed at not being the first to know, and she was even heard to snort about what we were asking (and got) for our house. I always felt like I failed her. Elaine, who prided herself on knowing what was happening on her street.

We never caught up with her in the quick weeks before we moved. Tom recognized Henry at a street fair a few summers back and chatted him up, but I doubt Henry remembered us. He did say Elaine was fine. Sometimes I want to ride up there and say hello and bring her some cookies and show her our boys and ask how things are on the street. But something keeps stopping me. I think I am afraid of finding out that Elaine is gone. The weird thing is, as quirky as she and Henry were, they were probably the nicest neighbors we ever had.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Old People Are Crabby

So it’s not just my birthday next Tuesday. It is also my sister Christine’s birthday (Hi Christine!!) We are Irish twins. So I will be 40 and she will be 39. And lookin’ fine.

Anyway, I went to the card store that shall remain nameless today to get my sister a birthday card. Let’s just call it “Ball-fark”. I am one of their “Valued Gold Crown Members”. I have a key tag to prove it. And they sent me a birthday card. We are like this >< ok?

So I go in and find the perfect, funny, musical card for Christine, and two more cards, and bingo, I qualify to buy the cute little singing penguin thing that my kids lust after. And I have a birthday discount coupon, and a rewards voucher for $3. I take it all to the register and the lady immediately goes “Uh, I have to check with the manager because I don’t think you can use these.”

I hate when people greet a customer that way. At least give me the forced, obligatory “Did you find everything ok?” before you bend me over the counter and start giving me your song and dance about how none of the coupons and gift checks and other crap you send me to try to entice me into your store are GOOD FOR ANYTHING!!!

So she goes and talks to the manager and comes back and says, nope, can’t use any coupons, birthday discounts or rewards vouchers for what I am buying. I, politely but sort of pissed offfly say;

“This is really frustrating. You guys keep sending me coupons and flyers and checks but I can never USE any of them for anything I want to buy.”

And she huffily asks if I want to see the manager. Since that is who she just came from, I don’t see the point so I say no thank you and take back the coupons that she is holding out to me and put them in my purse. At which she point she snaps

“You don’t need to snatch them from me. I don’t make the rules!!”

Snatch? The only snatch I see here is the one behind the counter escalating a simple coupon kerfuffle into a nasty snatch-attack. And you might not make the rules, but you do wear the nametag and collect the salary from “Ball-fark”, so don’t act like I was way out of line by complaining to you about Ball-fark’s stupid “We don’t honor any of them 87 coupons we send you each month.” Policy. Kay?

Then I did what any can’t-think-of-the-perfect-comeback-until-30-minutes-later person would do. I said “Just forget the whole thing.”, threw my stuff on the counter and ran out of the store like it was on fire.

Christine, your card is on it’s way. But there wont be any little gold crown seal on it this year.

Over my dead snatch.

Ready or not, here it comes

I will be 40 on Tuesday.

For. Tee.

In case I was going to forget, as old people tend to do, my siblings have been marking the countdown every day since it was 40 days out by sending me postcards counting down the days (“39 and she’s looking fine!”, “23 and she can still hold her pee!”) I am the oldest, so they are taking great glee in marking the milestone. And for that I am very grateful and very touched. And payback is hell.

I have never been hung up about my age. I always felt younger than the number, whatever it was, and tried to ignore all off the media hype about aging gracefully. I am one step ahead of all that anyway since I have never, ever been graceful, and that does not appear to be improving.

But 40 carries so much baggage. My infertility issues will statistically be twice as bad next week as they are right now, my skin will be 30% drier and 25% less resilient, peri-menopause will be lurking around the corner, and I will see a 29% drop in my peer group appearing in television roles. I remember reading that doctors classify the three biggest risk factors for gall bladder cases as FFF – Fair, Fat and Forty. While I meet all of that criteria, so far my gallbladder is holding its own. Yea for my internal organs jumping the curve!

What I really want to know, is how I can be turning 40 when I still have the sense of humor of a 17 year old boy? How can I be 40 when my kids think that I can fit in their toy box with them to go on a “boat ride Mommy!” How can I be 40 when I have still never purchased new living room furniture? Can I really be 40 when I am afraid of getting kicked out of yoga for laughing when someone farts? When I am still afraid of clowns and German Shepards? When I still don’t know how to whistle or play chess? When I remember getting the training wheels off of my bike as vividly as I remember dancing on a bar in college or buying my first car, like it just happened yesterday?

This weekend, I will be going to two parties, not my own. And that is fine with me. Years ago I told my husband that when I turned 40 I wanted a big party and a trip to Italy. Alot has changed since I made that declaration. Jobs lost and found, houses bought and sold, and children longed for and prayed for, and finally prayers answered. Instead of a big party and a trip to Italy, I think it will be more like a party of four at my favorite small, casual family-friendly Italian restaurant. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Right this very minute

Things that I love about right now this very minute:

My kids in their jeans and sweaters – deliciously handsome.

Blowing leaves to crunch through on my way to the car.

The smell of wood fires burning.

1 part peppermint hot chocolate, 2 parts coffee, with a splash of milk, all for $1.35 at Royal Farms.

Knowing I have lots of time and three paychecks left to shop before Christmas.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wild On Mom's

Saturday night I went to a “Mom’s Night Out” party. It wasn’t just a mom’s night out; it was also one of those home parties. You know, where someone comes and tries to sell you alot of stuff you didn’t know you wanted or needed but somehow after a few glasses of wine and too much hot crab dip, seem like a really good idea? Yeah, one of those. But there weren’t any Partylite candles or Longaberger baskets or Discovery Toys to be had at this party. No, my friends, the toys at this party were for adults only. Yes, it was one of THOSE parties.

In my time, I have bought baskets, candles, dip and bread mix, skin care, baking pans, lipstick, flags, pictures and purses, all in the comfort of some friend or co-workers living room. The parties were all pretty similar, about 10-15 women, all balancing little plates of crackers and cheese and Spinach Dip on their laps and making friendly small talk while figuring whether they really needed the basket or the holiday sampler they were eyeing. Most of them lasted about 1-2 hours, and I was home in time for “West Wing”.

Not at this party. Whew! There were over 30 women there, truly every women she invited came and many brought a friend along. I brought my sister, because “virgin" as I was to this kind of party, I wanted a buddy. I didn’t even want to go, but I also didn’t want to be the one mom who didn’t go. Ah, peer pressure still wins out, even as I stare 40 in the face next week.

The hostess wisely had an array of cocktails on hand, and kept us all well-filled. (Before you go all M.A.D.D. on me, nearly every woman there lived in the neighborhood and walked home, and the two pregnant women there were designated drivers for those who didn’t.)

I won’t force you to hear the blow-by-blow (har,har) but here are a few highlights:

Fact - I laughed so hard during one of the games that I almost wet myself. My sister DID wet herself.

Fact - My husband and I are extremely compatible in bed, and also rather organic apparently since we were among a handful of couples who didn’t already own any toys, lotions or games.

Observation – The woman who was the raunchiest and talked the biggest game, also probably has the most insecure marriage. Me’think she doth brag too much…?

Fact – Women will share tips and recommendations on vibrators as readily as they will share recipes and shopping secrets.

Fact – Women who won’t spend $40 on a good haircut, will spend $150 on “toys” without a second thought.

Observation – No one once worried that her husband was going to be upset about how much she spent at this party.

Fact – At other home parties I have attended, there were always a few women who left without buying anything. That did not happen at this one. They stood in line for two hours for their private order session.

Fact – The hostess told me she sold over $1800 worth of stuff and still had other orders coming in after the party. The consultant makes 50%. Not bad for a Saturday night.

Observation – I would have judged these parties and people who had them in the past. But after seeing 30 women who couldn’t wait to go home to have some good old fashioned married fun with their HUSBANDS, I can’t think that it was such a bad thing.

Fact – I will never have one of these parties in my house, but I will definitely go to another one, even if it is just for the laughs.

Observation - My husband will strongly encourage my future attendance. *Wink Wink*