Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dear Stupid People

To the Mother-of-the-Year in Walmart:
If you are bundled up in a heavy coat, your baby probably should be wearing more than a short-sleeved onesie.

To the Joe-Bob who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to display parts of the male anatomy on his truck's trailer hitch:
Insecure, are we?

To the lady reading a stack of legal documents while driving:
Pull over please.  If you die in a horrific car crash before those divorce papers are signed, that lousy, cheating scumbag and his floozy will get ALL of your stuff.

To the Lead-Foot behind me on the road:
Tail-gating me will not make me go faster.  In fact, I'm likely to slow down. 

To Sarah Palin:
Stop. Just stop. Please.

Most Sincerely,

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Thorn

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul wrote in the passage above that he suffered from "a thorn in the flesh."  He never said what it was, but there are plenty of theories.  Some say it was a physical ailment.  Others believe it was discouragement.  Some even say that it was a certain person that was a hinderance to Paul's ministry.  Whatever it was, it bothered Paul enough to pray three times for God to remove it.  In verse 9, God tells Paul that he will have to continue dealing with the problem, but that His grace was sufficient to help him bear it.

Now, it's easy to read those scriptures and say, "What?!  God wouldn't heal him?  But it was Paul!  You know, the preacher, missionary, martyr, etc!"  Why wouldn't God heal someone who was so obviously devoted to doing His work?  I can't pretend to know what God's reasons are, but I believe He always has a reason.  God didn't remove Paul's affliction, but He gave him the strength to carry on despite it.

We all deal with stuff.  Sometimes it's physical. We deal with personal sickness, or the sickness of a loved one.  Other times we deal with financial troubles, or problems with family or work or even church.  We go through hard times and think, 'God, where are you?'  I say "we" because I'm right there too.  For me, my biggest difficulty comes in an emotional form.  I struggle with Depression.

It's not just the occassional blahs that everyone gets sometimes.  I have dealt with Clinical Depression for most of my life.  I'm not writing this to gain anyone's pity. This is just my personal struggle.  I have undergone therapy and counseling which have been truly helpful, but I still have times when the dark clouds roll in and I find myself struggling to do everyday tasks.  It's something that never fully goes away.  It's my thorn.

Paul referred to his problem as "the messenger of Satan to buffet me,"  and I think it's an apt description.  I believe in my case that Satan does use it against me.  He finds those moments of weakness, and then puts in a little seed of self-doubt and discouragement.  "You are worthless," he whispers.  "No one really likes you.  They all think you're a loser."  Sometimes he gets really bold and tells me, "If God really cared about you, He wouldn't have made you this way.  You wouldn't have to deal with this."

As ridiculous as those things sound, sometimes I begin to believe them.  Sometimes I allow myself to get so down that I just start wallowing in Satan's lies.  There are times when it just seems easier to give in and let myself sink into self-pity.  I start to question God and His wisdom.  Why would He make someone he supposedly loves go through something like that?  Why do we have to suffer?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

I have found over the years that as low as I sink, it's never too low for God to reach me.  I have reached points where I was ready to give up and end it all.  However, in those darkest moments He held on to me and didn't let me go.  He would speak to me gently and say, "Shhh, it's all right.  I'm still here and I do see you.  I understand how you feel, and I care.  Just keep trusting me to take care of you.  You know I always will."  In those times I have to admit that I do know.  I look back at other times in my life when He was all I had, but all I needed.  He has worked miracles in my life.  He has brought me through some dark days, and He continues to lead me through the rough patches in my life.

I know that I will always deal with Depression, but God constantly reminds me that His grace is sufficient to get me through the battles.  He's not going to let me sink.  He's not going to let me go.  As Paul writes in verse 10, I can have joy in my infirmities and distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.

His grace is sufficient for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Night (or Afternoon) Fever

Something happens to me on Saturday.  On other days I am a mild-mannered wife and mother.  I'm a bookish type who listens to NPR and watches History Channel.  I teach Voice and sing opera.  But not on Saturday.  On Saturday I become a screaming, snarling, crazed fanatic.  Football.

So what's a sci-fi-loving, Italian-art-song-singing, trivia-spouting nerd like me doing watching football?  I blame my dad.  He took me to my first game, a high school game, when I was a kid and I fell in love with football.  I started watching televised games with my dad, and over time learned the ins and outs of the game.  Unfortunately, my dad and I are no longer allowed to watch football together at my parents' house.  My mom seems to think we get too rowdy. 

Now, when I say that I love football I don't mean that I watch with mild interest.  I mean that I watch on the edge of my seat while screaming orders to players, coaches, and refs as if they can hear me.  I don't know what happens to me.  It's like I have some kind of Jekyll and Hyde transformation.  I go from non-confrontational choir girl to rabid, blood-thirsty super fan.  While I normally don't have the heart to smush a spider, on Saturdays I find myself screaming things like, "Crush his skull!" at my teams players.  I cackle with glee when an opposing team's player goes down.  I delight in the tears of grown men after a heartbreaking loss. 

What is it about this game that makes me turn into such a ruthless maniac?  Perhaps it's just the raw violence involved.  I mean, huge grown men are out on the field plowing each other down in order to get a little ball to the opposite end of the field.  They are smashing and crushing and knocking and dragging and pulling and pushing and beating each other senseless. That's not something I would normally be into. I do not advocate violence.  I don't like vicious maulings.

Except on Saturday.  On Saturday vicious maulings are awesome.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thanks for the Memories...and the Asbestos

My old dorm, Pfeiffer Hall, was torn down earlier this week, and it's made me a bit nostalgic.  I have a lot of good memories connected with that building.  It was the first place I ever lived completely on my own.  The first space that was ever truly just mine.

That space was a tiny room on the second floor of Pfeiffer.  My window looked out over the sprawling front lawn that was covered with magnolias and large pine trees.  The building itself was old and musty.  The stairs creaked and groaned, and it was dark and a bit drafty.  Pfeiffer Hall was the only dorm on the tiny campus, so it housed both the guys and the girls.  It was divided into two sections with the girls' hall to the left and the boys' hall to the right..  A large sitting area with chairs, couches, and a television was in the middle.

I remember my first night in Pfeiffer Hall.  My parents helped me lug my belongings up the rickety staircase, and then I went back out to the parking lot to tell them goodbye.  After hugs and well-wishes, I returned to my room to discover I had locked myself out.  The Dorm Mother unlocked my door for me, but the next morning as I was leaving for my first day of classes my doorknob fell off in my hand.  There was no way for me to open the door and I was locked in my room.  To further complicate matters, I had no way of letting anyone know I needed help.  I had no room phone, or pager, or cell phone.  So I started yelling.  One of the other girls on the hall heard my panicked cries for help and came and let me out.  I got a new doorknob later that day.  That evening I called my parents to let them know how I was doing and tell them about my adventures so far.  Now, let me explain the phone situation.  Since I had no personal phone I used the dorm phone which was a pay phone in a closet on the main hall. I finished my call to my parents and tried to open the door to leave the phone "booth" but it wouldn't budge.  The door was stuck.  Again I started yelling, and again the girl from down the hall came to my rescue.  I was more careful after that, but I had already become known as "the girl who gets locked in places."

My two years in Pfeiffer Hall were filled with plenty of other adventures.  I was appointed Dorm Monitor my second year and was given the job of locking and unlocking all the doors.  Ironic, isn't it?  I had to yell, "Girl on the hall!" whenever I went to to the boys' side to lock the doors.  It never failed that some genius guy would try to shock me by walking out into the hall in his undies.

As Dorm Monitor I had keys to everything but the Dorm Mother's apartment and the attic.  There was a small hole in the attic door that allowed me to peek at what was inside, and I could see that the attic was filled with all sorts of cool old stuff.  My friend Sheri and I tried several times to break in, but we never had any luck.

I have so many other great memories of life at Pfeiffer Hall.  There were the nights when everyone chipped in and rented a movie (usually Twister) to watch in the main TV room.  We would all bring out whatever snacks we had, and then we'd camp out in from of the television and nosh on stale Doritos and melted globs of gummy bears.

We had water battles in the hall and snowball fights on the front lawn.  We (even the guys!) watched soap operas together, and we were all there the day Stephano and Kristen's evil plan was uncovered on Days of Our Lives.

I think the one thing about Pfeiffer Hall that sticks out the most in my mind is the Flushing Ritual.  The pipes and plumbing in that old building had seen better days, and that caused some awkward moments in the communal bathrooms.  There were instructions taped to the doors of all the bathroom stalls that read something like If someone is in the shower, please yell FLUSHING before you flush!  This was done to ensure that you didn't scald the scalp off whoever was in the shower.  When you needed to flush you yelled, "Flushing!"  When the person in the shower stepped back and yelled "Okay," you were clear to flush the toilet.  Occasionally someone forgot, and if you didn't jump back quickly enough you were showered with water heated by the fires of Mount Doom.

I miss Pfeiffer Hall, my first home away from home.  I miss afternoons studying Music Theory under the pines.  I miss singing French art songs in front of my window.  I even miss the communal microwave that always smelled like burnt popcorn.

Farewell, Pfeiffer Hall.  You were the starting point of my journey to adulthood, and the birthplace of my independence.  You will be missed.

*Thank you to Johnny Brewer for posting the above photo.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Coming Out

Before anyone gets too excited, let me assure you all that I'm as hetero as ever. I am however choosing at this point in time to acknowledge a long closeted part of myself, and there is something rather "rainbowy" about that.

For the largest part of my life I have believed myself to be a singer. Just a singer. What did I want to be when I grew up? A singer. Oh, there was that flirtation with the idea of becoming a missionary to Australia. I think perhaps that was a subconscious desire to be near a certain opera house in a certain harbor.

In my teens I discovered Broadway, and I became convinced that was my destiny. I would be an actress/singer on stage! The only problem with that was the fact that I knew nothing about music and even less about acting. So, off I went to college to study music.

All the while, from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil and scribble letters with it, I had been writing. Stories and songs and poetry... I told myself that it was just a hobby. I was a singer. My teachers had other thoughts. I remember my 10th grade English teacher taking me aside at the end of the year and telling me, "I hope you keep writing. You're born to be a writer." I laughed her off. Sure, I enjoyed writing. But it was just something I did to blow off steam or work through emotions. I never considered it, in the words of Little Bill, "my thiiiiiing."

That has changed. Singing and music take a back seat to what has always been a passion of mine. I truly love to sing. I thank God that He chose to bless me with some musical ability. However, there is a special kind of satisfaction in writing. When I sing I'm just performing. I'm singing someone else's words. In writing, the voice and the words are my own. There's something so beautiful and fulfilling in that. I love to look at a sheet of paper or a computer screen and see it filled with my words. I appreciate the applause of the stage, but it can't really compare to a favorable review of something I've created.

I am finally choosing now to acknowledge myself as a writer. I think I was afraid before. Maybe a little intimidated. I mean, anyone who knows me knows that I'm hopelessly devoted and obsessed with a long-dead genius poet and the mark he left on the world. How could I ever compete with that? I think initially, instead of inspiring me, he scared me to death! I've come to terms with dear Eddy now, and I'm ready to embrace my own style and my own voice and my own ideas.

I'm letting go of the past and all the garbage I came up with as an angsty teenager. I'm letting go of all the times I was told to stop "wasting paper." I'm letting go of the fear of failure that ironically serves as a security blanket at times. If I fail, and I already have, I will try again. I have and will continue to learn from my mistakes. I will scribble furiously, type until I'm satisfied, delete, delete, delete, delete.

I am a writer.

Monday, August 09, 2010

After the Ball

Paulie starts school today, and most of my friends are aware that I'm having a hard time with that.  I'm sure most moms think I'm completely crazy.

"You'll have the whole house to yourself!"
"You can do whatever you want!"
"You can have some Me time!"

I've tried to tell myself the same things, but for some reason, the thought of my last little bird leaving the nest fills me with dread.  I couldn't really figure out why until today.

For the past 10 years or so, Motherhood has been my life.  It's my job, my identity.  With an empty house and time on my hands, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  I feel like Eliza Doolittle after her triumph at the Embassy Ball.  She found herself facing an uncertain future.  She knew she couldn't go back to the life she'd had before, yet she couldn't begin to imagine a place for herself anywhere else.

That's where I am right now.  I look into the empty hours ahead of me and think, like Eliza, 'What's to become of me?'  

I tell myself that there are lots of things I can do.  I can volunteer with something or other.  I can work on some projects that I've been longing to get busy on.  And I can actually sit down and write.  That's good, right? 

The truth is, I want to be useful.  I'm useful as a stay-at-home-mom.  Now that both boys will be in school, I still want to do things of value.  I don't want to sit and watch television (even though I'll finally be able to watch something other than "Yo Gabba Gabba!)  I want to be busy. Industrious. 

I know things will come along to fill my days.  There's always plenty of laundry.  Even beyond housework there is plenty to do.  Besides, as long as I have full pens and empty pages, these hands will never be idle.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Conversations from the Back Seat

Timothy: When I grow up I want to be a soldier.  Or a race car driver. Or maybe an Olympic fencer.  What do you want to be when you grow up, Paul?

Paul: Hmmmm... a waterfall.

Paul:  Knock knock.

Timothy: Who's there?

Paul: Banana.

Timothy: Banana who?

Paul: Banana joke!  Hahahahahah!

Paul: Hey Timothy...

Timothy: What?

Paul: Everything is mine!

Timothy: Arggggg!

Me:  Oh my gosh!  What is that horrible smell?

Timothy and Paul: *snicker*


To Be Continued...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alejandro (or Sunday Afternoon at the Mexican Restaurant)

*No offense intended toward anyone of Mexican descent, or Lady Gaga for that matter.

I put my name down
With the host now
But he won't call it yet
Won't call it yet

I've got my heart set
On some fajitas
That tomorrow I'll regret
I will regret

You know that I'm hungry, chico
Clear that table, make it quick-o
Seat me anywhere you want
In the restaurant

Just call my name, just call my name
Don't want to wait, don't want to wait,
Don't want to stand, I want to sit
Bring me tortilla chips and dip
Just call my name, just call my name
Alejandro, Alejandro, Ale-ale-jandro, Ale-ale-jandro

Why is there pizza
On the menu
I don't think pizza is from Mexico

Can I still order
From the lunch list
'Cause it's like three bucks cheaper
I'm saving dough

You know that I'm hungry, boy
Ooh!  Here comes my food. Rejoice!
More Coke Zero, por favor
Comamos ahora!

Just call my name, just call my name
Bring me my plate, bring me my plate
I'll have fried ice cream for dessert
I'll tip you; you don't have to flirt
Just call my name, just call my name
Alejandro, Alejandro, Ale-ale-jandro, Ale-ale-jandro

Repeat chorus a ga-zillion times

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm Not Old, I'm Just-- Hey! You Kids Get Off My Lawn!

I suppose it's time to face facts.  I am officially an old fart.  This isn't really a new realization; I've been wrestling with this for some time.  I have embraced my impending "elderly-ness," mainly because I'm just too darn tired to fight it anymore, but also for many other reasons that have lately come to light.

For instance, I have vivid memories of my parents when they were my age, and they seemed really old.  I suppose that's how my children see me now.  I'm that old bore who's always saying things like, "Back in my day..."  I always thought I would be the mom who seemed eternally young and hip.  Then I realized that young, cool moms don't use words like "hip."  Which reminds me, I need to go take my Calcium supplement.

I remember a time when I stayed out all night on crazy road trips and doughnut runs.  I would get back in time to go to class, take a quick nap on a couch at the BCM, and then I was off again on another adventure.  The other night I fell asleep in the chair in front of the television.  Watching Cooking Channel.  At nine o'clock.  So many things about that just scream "OLD!"

The funny thing is that, while I complain a bit, I don't really mind growing older.  It sure beats the alternative.  And aging has it's advantages.  It's the perfect excuse to take naps.

I hope that when I'm really old I can be what folks describe as "spry."  I want to be the slightly crazy old lady who zips around town in a red sports car and has a purse full of butterscotch candy to give to any children I meet.  I'll travel, and take salsa lessons, and create weird art.

Right now, I guess I'm just resting up for retirement.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mommy Bird Tries Again

I went outside today to check Paulie's little wading pool, and I received a wonderful surprise.  Mommy Bird was back.  I heard her distinct chirp from the top of the pear tree, so I looked up and there she was.  She flitted out of sight for a few moments, but I followed her chirp to the top of the Japanese maple and saw not only her, but a nest!  She's nesting again!  I am thrilled!  After such a heartbreaking first go, I am pleased to see that she's come back for another try.  I can still see the nest from the front porch, but it's high enough this time to be out of the reach of reptilian predators.  There is also a male cardinal that seems to be helping out this time, so I have a feeling this little family will be successful. 

I'm so happy to have my little neighbors back.  It just goes to show that God really does care about His creation.  Great or small, we are all under His watchful care.  When we fall, when the unthinkable happens, when we're not sure we can get up and try again, He's there to lift us up and restore us.  We can all have great hope and joy in knowing that if God cares for the little birds, how much more must He care for His children!  (Matthew 10:29-31)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I am heartbroken. 

After last night's bad weather, I went out this morning to check on our little bird family. *See Our New Neighbors* Mommy Bird's nest was somewhat askew, but she and her little eggs had survived the storms.  Later, however, I heard her chirping loudly and looked out the window to see what was going on.  Mommy Bird was hopping around on the bushes a few feet from her nest.  I went out onto the porch to get a closer look, and to my horror saw a large black snake curled up in her nest.

The snake had already swallowed one little egg while Mommy Bird looked on helplessly.  Don and I tried to intervene.  He grabbed a broom handle, and I grabbed an umbrella, and together we attempted to get the snake out of the nest before he ate the rest of the eggs.  It was no use.  We couldn't uncoil the snake without upsetting the whole nest, so we were forced to just turn away.

We left for church, and when we returned, Mommy Bird and her eggs were all gone.  I think Mommy Bird is still around.  I thought I heard her a few times, but I'm still very sad.  I had adopted them all in a way.  I checked on the eggs when Mommy Bird was away.  I left birdseed around the bushes so she wouldn't have to go very far to find food.  Most of all though, I looked forward to seeing the tiny little baby cardinals when they hatched.  I wanted to see them break out of their little speckled shells.  I wanted to witness Mommy Bird feeding and caring for them. 

Now instead of chirping little open-mouthed hatchlings, there's only an empty nest.  I can see it from the front door, and it breaks my heart over and over again.  Perhaps I'm silly for mourning three little unhatched birds, but I felt as if they were neighbors.  I sympathized with and related to that new little mother.  I don't know if birds have any concept of love or loss, but I hope Mother Bird is all right.  I hope she knows that I cared for her and her babies.  I hope she knows that I tried to save them.  I hope she forgives me for being unsuccessful.  I'm sure she'll lay eggs again.  She'll be more experienced and a bit wiser.  I hope though, that she'll still see fit to make our home her home too. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

 We have some new neighbors.

This little family of cardinals moved in not long ago.  Initially, I think Mother cardinal built her nest on our front porch in an old helmet Timothy had left out.  When she realized that it was in a less-than-ideal location, (little boys going in and out all day) she abandoned that nest and built a new one in the shrubs just below our front porch.  She seems to be a bit inexperienced, so I've come to the conclusion that she must be a new mother.  Been there, done that.  Wrote a whole blog entry about it.  *See Let's Hear it for the Mommies

I've become fascinated by our new little feathered friends.  The mother cardinal, who we have lovingly dubbed "Mommy Bird," sits patiently on her three little speckled eggs even as we come and go.  Occasionally, she's startled enough to flit away, but she doesn't stay gone for long.  She quickly returns and resumes her vigil. 

I know from experience that waiting is the easy part.  Once the little blessings arrive, Mommy Bird's days will become a non-stop feeding cycle.  It was difficult enough for me to feed one mouth at a time.  I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to feed three hungry mouths, especially when it involves going out and hunting for food.

I hope all goes well for our new little family.  I know God looks after His creatures great and small.  I plan to keep up with the progress of our little birds and post updates here.  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

They Say You Never Forget...

Today I did something I haven't done in at least 15 years.  I rode a bike.  Not the kind that's in the gym where you just sit and pedal your heart out and never go anywhere.  I mean the real wind-in-your-hair kind of bike.  It was hard, but fantastic.

I live in the country, so I have a nice little stretch where there isn't too much traffic.  There are, however, an abundance of little hills that are just steep enough to make your legs ache when you try to climb them.  I need those hills though.  Those hills are what's going to take my legs from jello jiggle to va-va-voom

I''ve decided that I am going to try to ride at least a couple of times a week.  I really enjoy it.  The bike in the gym seems counterproductive in comparison.   There's no wind in my hair besides the big fan.  The only scenery is a wall with a bank of televisions broadcasting CMT and stress-inducing news stories on CNN.  On an actual bike, I ride past the cotton fields, greet the neighbors working out in their gardens, watch the cute little furry creatures scampering through the woods...  It's all very serene and relaxing despite the complaints from my jello legs.

I have a feeling my legs won't be jello for long.  Hopefully by summer I'll be a red-headed, fun-sized Heidi Klum.  What?  A girl can dream, can't she?  ;)

Monday, March 01, 2010

As the mother of a pre-schooler, I am getting quite familiar with kiddie television. In my house the tv stays on Nick Jr. most of the day. I like the programming on Nick because it's not only entertaining, it's also educational. Paul and I watch a number of cute shows like The Backyardigans and the Wonder Pets and Little Bill.

A couple of years ago a new show joined the daily line-up called Yo Gabba Gabba! I was totally prepared to hate the show. It looked like some kind of Sesame Street for stoners. The characters were big monster-like creatures and the host was a creepy black guy in a fuzzy orange hat. Weird, right? Except it's awesome.

I have to admit that I have been sucked into Gabba Land and all its trippy glory. I love the quirky musical guests. I love the little video game-like interludes and the spazzy dancing children. It's unique and weird and all the things I like. And next week it gets even better.

Next week Anthony Bourdain visits Gabba Land.

I knew it was coming. I had a gut feeling. According to his show as well as his blogs, he and his young daughter are fans of the show. Next week Bourdain makes his Yo Gabba Gabba! debut as Dr. Tony, coming to the aid of Tooti who is suffering from a bad cold.

The juxtaposition of the snarky bad boy rock star chef with the warm and fuzzy Gabba friends is genius. Can Tony behave? Can he be *gulp* sweet? Of course he can. Since becoming a dad, Tony has made no secret of what he calls his "transformation into Bill Cosby." He's quit smoking, lost the earring, and taken on a somewhat gentler tone. He's taken a lot of flack for it too. But that's what happens when you become a parent. I don't just mean when you have kids. Plenty of people have kids, yet are not parents. When you really take on that role, you change. You have to. You tell yourself that you will stay the same, but it's just not possible. Kids change you, but in a good way. A great way.

Sure, I adore the snarky, smoking, sour Tony of the earlier shows. But I really love this newer version. He's still Tony, but with less of a need to shock or repulse. It's more about the exploration and the story. That's another great thing about becoming a parent. You get to rediscover the world through the eyes of your children.

So, on March 10th, Anthony Bourdain will reach a new level of awesome in my book. To those who have been critical of Tony's journey into fatherhood, I would tell you exactly what I think, but according to the Gabba friends, that kind of thing just isn't nice.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

As If I Needed Another Reason to Hate Walmart

Walmart doesn't have Hobbits.

There is a guy at my local grocery store who bags groceries and pushes buggies (that's shopping carts for all you Yankees) and he looks just like Elijah Wood. Okay, maybe not just like, but there is a definite similarity. Every time I see him I want to holler, "Wait up, Mr. Frodo!"

He's a very nice young man. (Ugh, I sound like somebody's Granny) He always offers to take my groceries out to the car. A few times I have let him. I like to watch him push the carts around the parking lot and wonder if he's thinking about the Shire. Is that mean?

The same local store that employs the Hobbit now carries Paulie's favorite juice as well as my green tea, which means I have no reason to ever shop at Walmart again. Win!

If they get a cashier that looks like Aragorn I will be there every day.

My Preciousssss...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Hate Mieces to Pieces

I live in the country. Way out in the country. When you live out in the country you tend to see a lot of wildlife. We have rabbits, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, etc. You know, cute fuzzy animals. We also have the non-cute fuzzy animals. The wildlife that doesn't want to stay in the wilderness. I'm talking about mice.

Oh sure, some folks have the nasty little things as pets. Personally, I would rather see them get fed to pet pythons. Ewww! I have don't have much love for the disgusting little rodents.

We've been waging our war on mice for some time now. They come and go. They tend to show up in the winter when the weather gets cold. This winter has been particularly cold, so we've had a real problem with the little critters. I found some stuff a few years ago that seemed to work for quite some time. It was a powder that supposedly smelled like mouse predators. It kept the mice away for a long time. I don't know if the little buggers have gotten used to it, or if they're just too cold to care, but recently the powder doesn't seem as effective.

The other day I walked into the pantry and noticed that there were broom bristles all over the floor. I moved the broom, and there it was. A mouse. It was caught on one of the little glue pads we've been putting out to catch them. The mouse was trying to pull itself off the glue pad with the broom bristles! I got a plastic bag and swept the mouse, still stuck to the glue pad, into the bag and closed it up tight. I hope it died a slow, torturous death. Sue me, PETA.

We tried poison a while back, but it didn't kill the mice. It just made the next generation of mice slightly retarded. Don called them "Tom and Jerry's Kids." That's terrible, I know. I didn't say it, my husband did. Anyway, the retarded mice would just walk out in the middle of the room and look at us. Then they would scamper off sideways like they were totally wasted. They would run into the walls and the furniture. They were fairly entertaining, albeit nasty.

Today I pulled a t-shirt out of my dresser drawer and a handful of almonds fell out of it. The little buggers have been storing nuts in my dresser! And they were my nuts! I was very upset. I emptied my entire dresser and threw everything into the washing machine.

So now this is war. I am thinking seriously of getting a cat. We had a cat a few years ago. His name was Simon, and he was quite old so he couldn't really chase mice anymore. He passed away at the ripe old age of 17. I think it's time for another cat. I'm not really crazy about having animals indoors, but I think I would rather have a cat than mice. So, if any of you know where I can find a good mouser, please let me know. I've had it with the rodents eating my food, and leaving their little droppings, and chewing up my stuff. They MUST go.

*Please don't tell my grandmother about my little problem or she'll never come to my house again! Those of you who know my grandmother, know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Mommies!

A beautiful young mother-to-be smiles at the sunny, sparkling nursery. She places her hand on her smooth, perfect, round belly...

Pregnancy. It's a magical time. Well, at least according to commercials and movies where it's romanticized into nine months of glowing bliss. Where morning sickness, if there is morning sickness, only happens in the morning. Where a woman gets the slightest baby bump and gains weight no where else on her body. Where maternity clothes are actually stylish.

Anyone who has had a baby knows that this scenario is, to put it nicely, bull hockey. Morning sickness can happen any time of the day, and it can last all day. Everything swells, belly, boobs, fingers, toes... No one tells you that your feet get bigger, but they do get bigger. And they stay bigger. As for maternity clothes, they have gotten better. However, after five or six months of wearing jeans with tummy panels and little poofy floral tops, you start feeling like a style- challenged Weeble.

Another thing no one tells you before you get pregnant is the fact that your IQ will suddenly drop to about 17. Apparently, your brain is so busy with the task of putting together a tiny human that you become a drooling moron who can't walk without falling down or running into stuff. It doesn't matter that you were a rocket-scientist before you got pregnant. As soon as the little stick says "positive" you earn a seat on the short bus.

The Hollywood version of pregnancy cravings is the oh-so-humorous pickles and ice cream. Ha ha, that's hilarious. *Sarcasm* In truth, you can crave anything from Big Macs to laundry detergent when you're expecting. No joke. For the last month or so of my second pregnancy, I had a Big Mac every day for lunch. Needless to say, my butt and thighs still bear the evidence, but it was what I wanted, so I ate it. Pregnancy cravings are irrational. You can't make them go away until you satisfy them. It's different from regular cravings where you see a pizza commercial and think, 'I'd like to have some pizza.' This kind of craving is a deep, desperate need. You must have a banana split with extra chocolate sauce and a side of bacon or you feel like you will DIE!

We've all seen those movies where a couple is about to have a baby. There's a comical mad dash to the hospital, and then the woman pants and pushes a few times, and Voila! A clean, pink, bright-eyed baby is born. Uh-uh.
The truth is, for most births, there is a lot of waiting involved. First off, there isn't that one big moment where you're hit with a contraction and you know "it's time." No, there's usually a grueling build-up where the contractions begin, but just slightly enough to make you go, "What the crap was that?" For the next 12, 16, 18, 32, 48+ hours, the pain continues to build until you begin to feel like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart. I thought I would be tough and go without drugs with my first child. By about halfway through, my contractions started overlapping, and the anesthesiologist became my best friend.
With my second child, my labor progressed so quickly that there wasn't time to administer an epidural. That actually ended up not being so bad. Delivery isn't nearly as horrific as some folks would have you believe. Sure, it hurts. You're pushing a tiny person out of your body. It's actually pretty amazing. Once the pushing is over, you are presented with this tiny little purplish alien blob. For those of you who think you could never fall in love with a purplish alien blob, you've obviously never given birth.

The alien blob is cleaned up, and after a short stay at the hospital you take a sweet pink baby home where it suddenly hits you; this baby is totally dependent on you and you have no idea what you're doing. How do you know what it wants or needs? What if you forget something or do it wrong? How did you mother manage to do this twice? Suddenly you're doubtful and afraid, and it doesn't help that everything seems to make you cry. According to modern media it's not supposed to be this way! You should be skinny and smiling serenely as you calmly nurse your baby in your beautiful, sunny nursery. Instead, you're bloated and tired and still in your pajamas from two days ago while you're desperately trying to get your ravenous little milk leech to latch on properly.

Fortunately, it all passes. After a few weeks, you can nurse while doing dishes and talking on the phone. At the same time. The little darlings do eventually sleep through the night. The time between crying fits gets longer and longer. The baby stops crying so much too. And then there's all the cute stuff that happens in between: the first smile, the first giggle, the first tooth. A day comes when he looks up at you and smiles and says, "I love you, Mommy" and you forget about the hours crouched in front of the toilet. You forget about the heartburn and the midnight mushroom cravings. You even forget about the labor pains.

It's all worth it, right?

In a few more years I'll be dealing with a teenager. I'll let you know then.

*This post is dedicated to my little sister who is currently expecting baby #2. I wish I could say that I hate that you're going through this, but as Aunt Mimi for a second time, I can't. I do hope you feel better soon!