Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Strategic Plan

Last night Rooster Girl was practicing standing up by using my thigh to pull up.

The Mayor was coming in and out of the room dragging pillows, down comforters, crib sheets and baby blankets in the process of constructing some kind of nest.

K was standing in the doorway asking me how I would differentiate Goals, Strategies, and Tactics in an organizational strategic planning process.

Me?

I was trying to POOP.

Yes. I was on the TOILET in the BATHROOM while all this was happening around me.

Can you feel my joy?

When did it become NORMAL for my ENTIRE family to have to be in the bathroom with me when I try to get my
smooth muscles working?

Let's see...

Strategic Plan Title: Poopin' in 2006

Goal: Poop Alone

Strategy: Decrease the number of people in the bathroom at the time of smooth muscle stimulation.

Tactic: Eat A LOT of garbanzo beans and fog them all OUT.

Special Band-Aids, Part III

Well, it is the time of the month when mommy's "special band-aids" are out in the bathroom and sure enough, The Mayor was ON IT.

The Mayor: Hey mom, what's those?

Me: Those are mommy's special band-aids. (Let's be clear that this name for them came from Kevin, not me.)

The Mayor: Can I have one?

Me: No.

The Mayor: Can you put one on my knee?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Anomaly

On Sunday night I got a pass from my husband and went over to my friend Jill's house. I didn't read the invitation closely so all I knew was that it was a girls night out thing and that the amazing singer songwriter, Caroline Herring, was going to perform. That was all I needed to get me there. I didn't realize that there was more to it...

Jill is a Presbyterian minister and a convener / organizer of an interfaith group of 180 women of who gather in small groups to discuss faith, feminism and philanthropy. In addition to gathering to hear Caroline sing, about 30 women from this group had come together to meet Suehyla El-Attar, a playright with an acclaimed new play called The Perfect Prayer. She and the lead actor from a recent production were at Jill's talking to the group and taking questions. On top of that, many of the women at Jill's had just been to see the film, Water, by Deepa Mehta (an amazing and intense film I can hardly recover from...) and were discussing that too. Jill's house was filled with powerful women, most of whom Jill told me, she had never met before.

I met interesting people, had interesting conversations and listened to the beautiful music of Caroline Herring. At the end, I felt fed in a way that I haven't felt in a long time. I've been so focused on the daily tasks of mothering two small people, that I haven't really had any time to follow my own interests. It felt, well frankly, fantastic. I started thinking that maybe I should find the time (from where I don't know) to get out more, learn more... generally make sure that I still do at least a few things that are just for me.

I was meditating on this as I gave Rooster Girl a bottle before her bedtime last night. Despite the fact that she held her bottle on her own for the first time yesterday, she refused to do it at bedtime because she needed her hands free to relentlessly see how far up my nostril she could stuff her pointer finger. After she finished her bottle, she BELCHED like
Barney Gumble of the Simpsons and began to roll around the bed and across my lap laughing and grabbing at me.

Yeah, personal enrichment... like that will happen any time soon. Maybe next year.

UPDATED: Of course I don't mean to imply that parenting is NOT personally enriching. It IS of course. (The rolling around laughing part more than the nostril part obviously.) I'm just not used to having ONE SINGLE SOURCE is all...



Sunday, June 25, 2006

I Need More Points

My mommy guru friend joined Weight Watchers and has already lost 10 pounds. She had extra copies of all the materials and gave them to me suggesting that I count my “points” for one day to see what I thought about it. Since I follow most of her advice (except putting rocks, sand and pinecones in the bed), I thought, “O.K., why not, what have I got to lose (besides 15lbs.?)”

I was OUT OF POINTS at lunchtime.

Grrrrr.

Today at the pool, Mommy Guru and my Seder host were talking about how all the clothing targeted at women our age is either designed for Super Sizzlin’ Hot Mamma or something, er, LARGER and nothing in-between.


I wouldn’t know for sure as I am still in the “disposable clothes” phase. Everything I currently wear, I have to admit, came from Target so that if the build-up of kiddie fluids, formula and baby food overwhelms any given outfit I can just go back for more from the bulls eye on my paycheck people.

Still, the conversation gave me pause. I am stuck in the in-between… It must be time to strengthen my resolve. One mouthful of Craisins is almost half the points the WW team allows in a day.

Deny thy craisins be redeemed! Hmmm, wonder how many points in this... not TOO many, right?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Daughter

While we’ve built a solid routine around putting The Mayor to bed, getting Rooster Girl to sleep is more haphazard.

We have the best intentions about reading to her, but we don’t always do it.

Rooster’s routine is more casual; often she just drains a bottle and passes out in your arms.

I know I am supposed to put her down awake to teach her to put herself to sleep and all that, but I get sort of mesmerized by her little sleeping form in my arms.

She absent-mindedly opens her mouth and sucks at my t-shirt, perhaps remembering the days of nursing.

I can’t help but stare down at her and wonder what our relationship will be like as she grows up.

The mother – daughter relationship being as fraught as it is.

When I look back on my own teen and young adult years and think about Rooster Girl coming of age I just cringe.

Overall, I have turned out all right I guess, but I made a LOT of mistakes and did things I am not proud to claim.

All the while, I shut my mother out and took her for granted.

In high school, I used to keep a diary.

One day I wrote about the high school drama department wanting me to wear ugly and ill fitting costumes in my role as Gypsy in our spring musical.

I was upset about it so my mother took me to an upscale fabric store to pick out patterns and material.

She made every costume I wore in that play.

She also worked full time.

In the next entry on the very next day, my diary entry is a scathing collection of expletives describing my mother because I didn’t get my way about some unimportant crap.

Lord.

How could she stand me?

How did she not go insane?

I suppose now that I have Rooster Girl I know the answer to that question, but I am almost 40.

I feel sad that my own mother had to wait so long for me to understand.

How might I endure years of a crappy relationship with Rooster if she turns out to be, like her mother before her, slow to grow up?

Not to mention that I am a generation older than my mother was when she had me.

I might not be around long enough for Rooster to come full circle.

So when I hold Rooster in my arms as she falls asleep at night, I admire her sweet face and think about how much I love her.

I worry a little bit about the way that, as a second child, she doesn’t get the constant dual parent admiration and worship all the time, every minute the way her older brother did.

I feel guilty that she’ll never be able to speak or write because we don’t read to her every night.

I try NOT to think about the alarming way that she spreads her legs on the changing table and how she relentlessly tries to capture her brother’s penis in the tub… could it be foreshadowing of her sexual coming of age?

God, I hope not… though I suppose if it is then she would just be the next descendent in a long line of fine women who also found the penis intriguing…. ;-)

Mostly I worry that we won’t be close, that no matter how much I love her, she’ll push me away.

I’ll have to remind myself, when the time comes, that she is supposed to push away, that it is a normal part of growing up.

I’ll have to learn to be patient, wait for the day she needs me again and, like my own mother, be there.


This is my mom.


Mom

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Shot

So I think my delicate flower of a southern Granny might be secretly reading this blog because I got an e-mail from her OUT OF THE BLUE suggesting that I might want to have some sort of gastro-intestinal surgery to correct my abhorrent flatulence.

This makes me realize that I have spent a lot of time writing about my public announcement system and / or poo recently, and that I have failed to point out that while I am able to achieve great VOLUME, it is not in the least bit offensive because I produce a smell quite like Night Blooming Jasmine.

Ask anyone.

Ahem.

At any rate, I think I should leave all subjects related to butts alone today and focus instead on underwear.

Specifically, fun with men’s briefs…

Here at House of Joy we are avid fans of the book, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.

We’re such big fans, in fact, that if my husband and I were being honest we would have to admit that our son The Mayor is named from the book.


“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice- not because of his voice,
or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the
instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God;
I am a Christian because of Owen Meany”
John Irving

I remember the first time I read the book thinking, “What IS Owen’s obsession with THE SHOT about?” only to sob and sob at the book’s end.
But I digress, this is not a literary review, this is a story about underwear.

The King of the House of Joy (also known as He Who Does Not Live in Spain) has his own SHOT.
Like Owen Meany, K has been practicing and working on his SHOT for YEARS. Each night, when he is getting undressed for bed, he takes off his underwear, balls it up in his hands, calculates the exact trajectory from the ceiling fan to the hamper, does some advanced mathematical problem solving related to triangulation and then… he shoots.
He flings the underwear up towards the ceiling fan in the hopes that they will catch on a blade, take a flying spin around the room, fly off, and land in the hamper.
(Need I say, “Oh, The Joys” here?)
Night after night, THE SHOT.
Obsessed, I tell you. Obsessed.

Last night…he shoots… HE SCORES!!!!!
The husband paraded around the room completely naked, both hands in the air, head thrown back like a true champion.
The crowd went wild.
He is an instrument of God.


Monday, June 19, 2006

It's Fun to Stay at the Y.M.C.A.

As a child of the 1970’s, I have taken some messages from the Village People to heart and am a long-time member of the YMCA.

I’ve been trying to swim regularly to decrease the postpartum flab.

(Exactly how many months can I blame the flab on postpartum-ness? Because I’m coming up on 10 months and still working that argument to DEATH.)

Anyway, after swimming, if I have time, I like to go into the steam room.

Yesterday there was a man in there with headphones on and he was singing Gospel at top volume.

I have to admit that he had a reasonably good voice – which is saying something because when I have ear phones on the singing that comes out of my mouth tends to be completely off key… but then, that is also usually true when I’m NOT wearing headphones...

As I sat in there with him I amused myself by thinking snarky thoughts like, “Quick! Somebody call Ryan Seacrest…” But of course, the fates would have to punish me for this…

Immediately after thinking sweaty, SMARTASS thoughts, I got in the shower.

I got all good and soapy when ZOOOOOOOOP the soap slipped out of my hand, shot out of the shower stall and into the center of the room – which also happens to be the main, and very public, thoroughfare from the ladies locker room to door to the pool.

Reluctantly, I waddled out in all my glory to get the soap.

Spotting it, I bent over – third eye winking at the room – and ZOOOOOOP – the soap shot further away.

Without standing up, I scrambled after the soap, my periscope still UP.

I finally caught up with the Dove (because I am a "real woman") and hurried, now upright, back to the privacy of my shower stall.

While in that compromising position, certain things must have – well – SHIFTED, because once safely back behind my curtain I released a completely involuntary foghorn blast that hurt my nose.

My son only recently discovered that he has a “little hole in his butt for making poo poo.” I think I’ll let that settle with him before I let him know that thanks to a genetic gift from his mother that very same hole also functions as a loud and sometimes unpredictable, public announcement system.

"ATTENTION ALL YMCA PATRONS: WINKY “THIRD EYE” WINKENHEIMER IS BACK IN HER SHOWER STALL. IT IS ONCE AGAIN SAFE TO WALK THROUGH THE SHOWER ROOM. PLEASE HOLD YOUR NOSE.”

Thou shalt not think sweaty, smartass thoughts.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Everyone has a Hole in their Butt

Last night I was reading Alona Frankel's "Once Upon a Potty" to The Mayor.


He is obsessed with it lately and the minute we finish it
The Mayor says, "The. End. Again?"

We were reading this page -

- where the book shows all of Joshua's parts - "his head for thinking, his eyes for seeing" and so on right down to the "little hole in his butt for making poo poo."

As we reviewed each of Joshua's body parts, I asked
The Mayor to point to his own corresponding parts. He pointed to his head, eyes, ears, mouth, hands and legs -- and even patted the front of his diaper to show his "pee pee for making wee wee." But when we got to the "little hole for making poo poo" The Mayor paused and looked at me and said,

"Mommy, I DON'T have a hole in my butt."

I assured him that, in fact, he DID have a hole in his butt.

"No, Mommy. I don't, NO!"

I decided to reassure him that we ALL have little holes in our butts. I started listing people he knows and telling him that each one has a hole in his or her butt... "Daddy has a hole in his butt, Mommy has a hole in her butt, Grandma has a hole in her but..."

The Mayor thought it over. He looked at me quizzically. "Asheleigh has a hole in her butt?" he asked. (Asheleigh is a young woman that works at his daycare.) I assured him that yes, she does have one.

The Mayor thought it over some more. Finally he turned to me and said, "I wanna SEE it."

Proof. The kid needed PROOF that he has a little hole in his butt. (Why take MY word for it on something as critical as that?)

So, this morning we held a "Me and the Hole In My Butt"
Radical Consciousness Raising session. While The Mayor was on the changing table we got out K's shaving mirror, winched up The Mayor's legs and strategically positioned the mirror for full hole appreciation. The Mayor studied it.

When we arrived at daycare about a half an hour later,
The Mayor flung open the door and yelled to his teachers, "I HAVE A HOLE IN MY BUTT!"

Yup. Don't we all. Love your hole.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Miracle at House of Joy

Here at House of Joy something miraculous happened.

K and I are so excited.

After eight days of non-stop vomit and diarrhea, 46 loads of laundry, six business days of making excuses to bosses and clients...

ROOSTER GIRL PRODUCED A SOLID TURD!

A big, soft (but not too soft) pellet of poo!

OH, EXHAULTATION!

Then began the celebration…

We paraded around the kitchen making circus music…

We performed the dance of our people...



...and we generally made a lot of joyous noise…

until The Mayor yelled, “Be still!”


. . . and tamed us with the magic trick of staring into all our yellow eyes without blinking once and we were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all.

But in our hearts we KNEW, that they would BOTH be going to daycare in the morning.

Hallelujah and AMEN!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Nighty Night Dirty Details

Driving The Mayor to daycare this morning, Rooster Girl was tired and irritable in the car.
The Mayor was asking about it and I told him that she was tired and that maybe he should sing her a “nighty night” song.
He happily obliged.
I wish I had a way to record it because here is what he came up with...

Night, night song
How I wonder what you are night, night
song
Home, home on the ra-ange
Where the deer is
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Hi! I wonder what you are
Where
the deer is
Night, night song


Just before dinner last night, The Mayor and Rooster Girl were sitting in the pink sunlight streaming through the slats of the dining room window blinds.
They were facing each other in the slatted, evening light laughing and delighting in one another.
They were completely oblivious to K and I.
As I watched them so absorbed and enamored with each other my heart just swelled with happiness. Then we noticed that Rooster Girl was sitting in a giant lake of liquid poo.
Details, details.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Down. The. Drain.

THE WHOLE WEEK IS SHOT. Rooster Girl is still suffering from the stomach flu, which means that she can't go to daycare again tomorrow. Tomorrow is FRIDAY. She has been out sick ALL WEEK. It gives me renewed appreciation for single parent's - how do they do it? How do they (or any of us) just up and take an unexpeced week off? I have client deadlines looming over my head and I'm doing my best to work at night, but admittedly, the P.M. focus is a bit off after a long day of ring and cup stacking.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Only One Left Standing

The inevitable has happened. Both K and I have been struck with the stomach flu that has been plaguing Rooster Girl for four days. I am here to testify that it is really hard to parent when you would most like to lay down on the bathroom floor and spoon your beloved toilet.

I have learned one important lesson today. It is a lesson that you would think I would have learned earlier than this… but no. Should you fail to adhere to this lesson (as I did TWICE today) you will be very unhappy with the results. The lesson is this:

If you are suffering from diarrhea, by all means, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PASS GAS.


No.

It's a very bad idea.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Uncle!

I am so FRUSTRATED. It has been more days than I can count since we spent a whole day WITHOUT getting plastered, showered, (scattered, covered and chunked) with vomit. Rooster Girl is VIOLENTLY EXPLODING from both ends all day, everyday. K and I are juggling her like a hot potato during the day because you are not allowed to send your children to daycare when their orifices are acting like pressure washers. Imagine.

We need 24 projectile fluid free hours to get BACK to the (I bow down before you) support of the daycare team. Every morning I hold out the hope that perhaps today she WON'T throw up. Perhaps today we will make it 24 hours without vomit and excessively loose poo.

But no.

Today she has made it CLEAR that there is no hope for daycare attendance tomorrow either.

Grim.

Just as soon as she is well, I can rest assured that The Mayor will start spewing forth chunks of partially digested toddler food. Somewhere in the schedule K and I might find ourselves hovered over the proper receptacle... sadly, THE PROPER RECEPTACLE is not in the repetoire of the wee ones. There is no rest for the weary in sight.

If I was not my only employee, I would fire myself for not showing up for work - ever. My clients must be so tired of hearing about the latest round of kiddie illness. They must think I feed my children firecrackers and sewage.

So I'm TIRED of being thrown up on and TIRED of cleaning up really disgusting contributions from the nether regions... but I know she's sick with some virus and I'm sure her tummy hurts... I wish I could magically make her feel better. Where is THIS kid? Have you seen her? Please send her back. We miss her.

Look at ME!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Teeny Tiny Wanna Be

IMG_2343

BEHOLD!

I am Rooster Girl!

I can crawl!

I can keep up with HE WHO HAS TURNED TWO!

I am a big girl, I am...

IMG_2344

...crashing violently to the floor.

I am smashing my face on the metal ring that holds this tunnel open.

I am crying, I am WAILING.

I can't make my arms and legs do what I want them to do.

I can't keep up with HIM!

I am turning Two

I am God-like in her eyes. I am TWO!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Edge of Love

K and I were recently talking about the way that having children has introduced us to a new kind of love. It is, overwhelmingly, the most powerful love either one of us has ever known. Strangely though, this love is tinged with a razor sharp edge called fear. Never before have I had so MUCH to lose. Now that my children are a part of my life I don't want to imagine life without them. But there's that lurking fear...

When I am falling asleep at night I am vulnerable to it. Sometimes, in the moments between waking and sleep, I imagine the worst. Tragic and awful scenarios unfold – one or both of my children end up gone forever – sometimes K is gone too. When this happens I come up from near sleep with a sudden gasp, but before I can wake up enough to realize that none of it is true, I feel the deepest despair and panic.

I spend what feels like the longest thirty seconds in history in a state of absolute devastation. Before I can beat the fear and panic into submission, my imaginary self sells all my belongings and my house, buys a plane ticket to a squalid beach grotto in a third world country, abandons all my friends and family and literally walks away from my life. She spends the next 5 years drinking on this beach trying to figure out what the meaning of life might be and why it is so cruel. Gradually, she develops relationships with locals and fellow travelers also running from their pasts. Slowly these relationships become binding and life begins to go on. Her time in this third world beach town reminds her that for me, meaning in life has always come from my connection to other people.

I blink.
I realize I am still in my bedroom. I listen to K breathing beside me. I tell myself that it would be awful if something bad ever happened to the children. I remind myself that nothing bad has happened today and that I am doing my best to protect them from harm EVERY day. The fear and anxiety is beaten back. I drift more peacefully to sleep in love, in love, in love with my family and thankful for each day with them.