Wednesday, January 31, 2007

All skate, reverse direction

Zack and I made our weekly trip to Trader Joes yesterday, to stock up on the foods that accommodate our 'special needs'. Zack cannot drink milk and lots of junky preservatives that no one should consume anyway (I won't elaborate lest I gross you out entirely); I have IgE allergy to eggs (bone fide 'can cause anaphylactic shock' variety). We are a collective pain. Lucky for us, Trader Joe has egg-free mayo and a wide assortment of soy, rice and nut milks so we are good to go. I am a TJ groupie. I have an unnatural love for the quirky place.

Turns out other people like it too; it isn't my personal haven of safe foods. Fine. I know it is cramped and crowded, and I don't mind the fact that it is small compared to the big box stores. I prefer small. But that's before the place turned into Skate World, circa 1981 - except without a DJ and the sparkling disco ball. And let's be honest; skating without either is a darn shame.

The little darling in question apparently didn't get my roller skating manifesto as she circled the apples and nearly took out the elderly woman in the cheese department. She was attempting jumps, with an eye patch, and no helmet. She was clearly begging for another trip to the ER, which would really bum her mother out. Mommy was drinking free coffee at the 'concessions' stand, catching up with friends, oblivious that her daughter's performance had begun. It was then that I realized my blue hair was showing. I stepped on my soapbox, the private one where I mutter my snarky remarks, and began reciting my 'I hate heelies' speech under my breath. Because I do. They bug me.

Zack forgot all about my 'I think heelies are dumb' policy and immediately started whining how he too would like a pair. For his birthday. A mere 2 months away. Please.

I took a deep breath. We talked about alternative birthday wishes while I pictured ramming my cart with its own 'wheelies' into the Mom in question. Then I tried to think good and wholesome thoughts. Because Jesus wants me for his sunbeam.

I'm afraid I'm still a little dim.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Lamentation for Paula, take 2

Ms. Abdul:

I am concerned for you. Really I am. Come out with it already. Are you on drugs? Are you hiding a dreadful disease? Are you in pain?

I for one am not believing the whole 'she had a long day' excuse for the sloppy speech and the spinning about in your chair. I suspect you are on major pain medicine; maybe you are doing the best you can. Just tell me. I have your aching back.

I know what it's like to want to keep chronic pain and illness a secret. Frankly, it isn't anybody's business but your own. But there comes a point when it is to your benefit to explain your abnormal behavior. Some time ago, folks were talking about Annette Funicello's behavior - everyone thought she was hitting the bottle until the former mouseketeer finally disclosed she has MS. Teri Garr went through the same thing. You wouldn't be the first celebrity to reveal a dirty little medical secret. I mean, if I can strum up some sympathy for Rush, I certainly can find it in my heart to give you a pass. (Except for when you clap that strange little seal clap. With your fingers spread like you just got a manicure. I hate it when you do that. Pain or no pain, it's just wrong.)

So, straight up, what's the deal? We're waiting for the announcement.


Poofy-Haired Fan from 1989, Otherwise Known as a Woman that Cannot Abide Yet Another Season of Idol (Especially When it Preempts my Beloved House.)

PS: If there isn't a thing wrong with you, then color me baffled. And hire a shrink. You need it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I took my woobie

I took a nap today. I had planned on taking a nice big walk, but I was dragging all morning, thanks in part to my new found sleeping companion, Mr. Sneaky Insomnia. I fall asleep lickedy-split, until Mr. Eye shakes me awake around 2 or 3. Now I tell you, is this really necessary? I am not taking Prednisone anymore, so the party is over Mr. Sneakers.

Please go away.

Luckily, he doesn't stalk me with worries or troubles - that would be a big bummer. He shows up in a tacky cheer leading outfit, urging me to clean closets, write, paint. And I would be pleased as pie to do any of these things, in the light of day. Preferably when Zack boards the bus to school.

This morning, Dr. Sara Mednick was on GMA, praising the value of nap taking. I focused my bloodshot eyes and nodded in agreement. Yes, doctor. What she said. I like her. I think I will bake Sara a pie. Tomorrow. Would she like a pie? Zack went to school; I set my alarm and headed to LaLa-land.

Of course napping during the day may interrupt my circadian rhythm further; Mr. Insomnia may take up residence with me. But for today, it made everything a little better.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ta Da

Remember the scene in Castaway, when Tom Hanks starts prancing around, because he 'made' fire. The screaming. The joy. Turns out that kids find this kind of celebrating scary, and disconcerting. Take for instance yesterday. I created a test site blog for the sole purpose of creating 3 columns; I didn't dare try it on the 'real' one. And it worked. (Thanks BlogCrowds!)

Where is my Wilson? He'd understand.

So, I guess that's all I have for today. I can't wait to play with my new template.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Aunt Sissy's house, or the Pit of Despair

I called my sister yesterday, after Lexi got on the bus. Or at least I tried.

"Hello!" Austin answers, sounding more like a harried business executive than a charming 4 year-old. "What do you want?!!"

Before long, Zack takes the phone and they exchange nonsense. And then they hang up.

I called back and asked for his Mommy. Lori said they may have to go over phone etiquette, again.


Austin coming over for a playdate is a fairly new development. I was his babysitter/daycare lady for a couple of years (Big Meany) - and because I doled out discipline alongside the lollies, I wasn't the person that came to mind when he wanted to have fun. I was that time-out dictator that separated him from his beloved Mom and Dad. I was not to be trusted.

After Caden was born in 2005, Austin's disdain for our gig grew from the typical separation anxiety to outright dread. I'd plan park dates, trips to the Kid's Club, and story times at the library, no matter. He'd cry. He'd cry until he was sick. Then I'd call Lori, so we could all revel in the deluge of tears. It didn't take long for all involved to admit that we were miserable. Every one.

Lori has been staying at home (not really) for nearly a year now and loves it. Except for when she doesn't.

I'd like to think we had some good times early on. Better yet, I like reclaiming my status as Aunt Sissy, purveyor of picnic lunches and romps at the park.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Dad's smarter than you are

Recently Lexi told me that she didn't want to hurt my feelings, but "Daddy is smarter than you." She said it a couple of different ways, so I would understand how she came to this conclusion, or perhaps because she fancied twisting the knife in my weeping heart. Now granted, I was folding laundry at the time, and to the casual observer, this is a meaningless, unskilled task. In fact, she sees me do all kinds of things that probably reinforce the idea that I grew up dreaming of doing menial housekeeping tasks. All day. Lexi argued that Daddy travels and Daddy goes to work and Daddy has meetings. Daddy is important and important equals big brains.

And Greg is smart. Some of the fine ladies from Greg's team were extolling Lexi's talking points at the holiday party a couple of weeks ago - well, they didn't say he was smarter than me per se - but they made a point to tell me how bright my husband is. Which I know. I married the guy and I like clever . No new news there. I'm glad Greg's team respects him. I am glad Lexi respects and adores her Dad. This is right and good.

But I was disappointed and well, irritated, that Lexi deduced that I am just plain dumb(er) because I am staying home with her. That I couldn't make my way in the world, like Greg, because I am not capable. I have been the main caregiver because it has simply made sense for our family. I have often wondered if I were ever in a situation where I needed to travel and I provided for the family financially, how would Greg and I rework our situation. I think Greg would do a fine job at home, and struggle with some of the repetition of running a household, just like me. I mean how many creative ways can you mop the floor, really.

Lexi and I spent another 30 minutes talking about her assessment, but really about gender roles. The more we talked, the more I realized that she is starting to build opinions that boys are universally better and more capable, that girls are universally nicer and quieter. I challenged her assumptions about me, I challenged her assumptions about herself. I made my case, for today. I hope she heard me. I tucked her in bed, put the freshly folded clothes away and sat on my bed.

And promptly started banging my head on the wall. Because that's what intelligent women do.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Not playing well, afterall

Body: Hey Brain, let's take it easy today. Rachael Ray is on. Besides, we are volunteering in Lexi's class this afternoon.

Brain: But the sun is out. We could walk around the park while Zack rides his new scooter. Get your shoes on.

Body, irritated: Um, may I remind you that we walked FIVE miles yesterday. There was sweat. I was achy. The arms are even reporting pain today.

Brain: I don't recall walking on them. Stop whining you big baby.

Body, dour: Listen, we are recovering, doing great, thank you very much, from that nasty sjogren's crap. We do our job. You are such a task master. Leave us alone.

Brain: I see that sour look.

Body, snotty: Nothing gets past you...

Brain: Hey, I have FitTV and I'm not afraid to use it.

Body: Fine. But there better be House and a hot bath tonight, or or

Brain, smug: Yeah, that's what I thought...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

This is my 72nd post. Some random number; some time spent at my laptop. By now, I have probably said something that could be misconstrued, taken out of context. Some things come to mind. I don't hire prostitutes to tutor my children, I don't have a flask. (Yet.) My kids have good traits, and my first boyfriend became a preacher with a lovely family. Posts are short; they don't reflect the big picture.

Sometimes I rethink a post, concerned that I may have unintentionally hurt someones feelings, said something that cuts. There is no way to avoid this, unless I were to write about moonbeams and gnomes, but then someone out there would surely complain about that as well. So I weigh my words, and do the best I can. And keep writing. Just keep writing...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Name game

Sometimes Greg will say something like "I spoke to Jen today," which to my mind is equivalent to saying "I spoke to a girl today" - we know several Jens, Jennifers and Jennys. A sentence like that needs to be followed with a last name, association, location or long convoluted story. Like, remember the one who was mean and dated our friend at the Red Lobster, not to be confused with the Medford Jen with the 'pher' we both adore so. It cuts down on the confusion. We need a flow chart.

Not that I should talk. I attended a baby shower for my friend Lisa Nicholson last weekend. I typically write my full name on my name tag to distinguish myself from the legion of Lisas I am bound to meet at any social function. Otherwise I end up as LisaM, some derivative of Liam+Neeson that I can't answer to. (I noticed two others from TeamLisa at the luncheon). Later that night, I met one of two Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jams that are on Greg's team at Symantec. Oh, and don't forget the time a customer a Blockbuster yelled at me because he was angry that both video stores in town had managers named Lisa. I needed 'to do something about that'. I guess it was too confusing for him.

(Apparently 'Lisa' reigned supreme from 1962-1970, when 'Jennifer' had her way with us and stole our pretty tiara. All she had to do was ask; we have gladly given up the title.)

That's why Greg and I gave our kids crazy unique names, so they'll be so original.

*What's that you say? What is that sound? Oh, what you're hearing is the sound of gleeful mothers prancing up and down the streets, rejoicing as the buses roll up and take their little angels off to school. For one day. Which is good. The snow days have added up and the only thing I seem to know for sure is my name, which might be a lucky guess.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I don't know why the caged bird sings

I clipped their nails. I reviewed homework. We read together and went to bed early. Because I had faith that school would resume. I was wrong. I am leaving the house shortly. Don't tell my Dad.

Back when I was delusional and pregnant with Lexi, I planned on homeschooling my kids. (Don't snicker.) Before I continue, please know that I admire homeschoolers, and support it in theory. There are times I get all wistful and reconsider this option when I volunteer at school (again, not slamming the school either) because I know we could go further faster at home. But eventually I got honest with myself; I am not an ideal candidate to teach at home. Don't let my extroverted nature fool you. This girl enjoys being alone. I need it. I need to read. I am ugli(er) when I don't. I remember in college, after hanging out with the girls, I would retreat to my bed to read. Dear, dear friends would follow and sit there with me. And try to talk to me. And learn I am not lit from within. Not at all.

As Lexi got older I realized that she too was not an ideal candidate to learn from her mother. She'd rather study with scary clowns or call girls than me. (I haven't tested this theory, but I surmise I speak the truth.) Case in point: she has been creating possible entries for the bookmark contest. I say entries because this is how I manage her burgeoning perfectionism. Many entries takes the pressure off and keeps the peace. Now, if a teacher or family friend were to suggest which entry they thought was award-winning, Lexi would beam. And glow. And bake them cookies. But if I simply say, "Gee, I really like that one", it is heard as "Dang it, the other 28 entries really suck and you should never, ever color or draw again. Ever! Now go to your room and scrub the wall with a toothbrush". She would cry and whimper something about how sad it is that her own mother doesn't love her.

I can't wait for the teen years. I hear that's when the real fun begins.

So it suffice to say that I will continue sending my kids to public school. When they let me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I've given up on all plans for the week. Dinner tonight? It's looking like Trader Joe pumpkin muffins and clam chowder. It's what we have. (Well, I was far too social on Monday, when I was due to grocery shop - I was all tra-la-la-la, I will gather the food, tomorrow. You know, the day the skies opened up...)

Greg logged some hours playing Fable 2 on Playstation, the kids created bookmarks for the local library contest, and I crept out for a walk. The plan was to grab some movies at Blockbuster, which I did, but really I was preserving my sanity for another day. Like today. And tomorrow if the freezing rain comes.

I was pacing myself.

Here's a little footage from yesterday's bumper car show:


(Click on the 15 car collision. No blood. I didn't know a car could bounce off that many cars/curbs.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Meteorologists lie. I distinctly remember something about a possible flurry, but I watched '24' without a frozen worry in the world. My weatherlady told me to forget about it and I did. But alas, it snowed. Again. Greg even aborted his commute and is taking calls from home. Scratch all the plans, we are homebound. Our district took its sweet time before announcing that school was indeed cancelled this morning. I was waiting for my Dad, aka Panic Papa, to call me and to suggest strongly that I keep his sweet grandbabies home, even if the fools, I mean, powers that be go forth with the plans to educate little minds. He has a strict no-driving in nasty weather policy. And if he has any say (my whole childhood into college) by golly, I stayed home.

Except for this one time. Somehow I got past the perimeter and made it to church, about 20 minutes from home. My parents were having dinner with some friends; Laura and I were supposed to come to her house right after services, as the forecast was calling for snow in the higher elevations, in the boondocks we called home. This sounded reasonable. And it was. But I was a 16 year-old zealot in love with God and his servant, my Boyfriend the ministry major. (Although it is hard to say if my affections truly were in that order.) So, when dreamy religious Boyfriend offered to take me home so I could sing praises to God, Amen, at the devotional after church, against said no-lingering policy, I didn't hesitate. Boyfriend was Smart and Godly and Righteous, so The Plan seemed to make perfect sense to me. As we approached Sandy, the gateway to Mt. Hood, I started to question the wisdom of said Plan. The Boyfriend seemed frightened by the snow, and more importantly, scared to answer to his parents if he got stuck late at night, on a hill, in deep snow. It didn't take long for the revisions to begin. The NEW AND IMPROVED Plan was to leave me in front of a grocery store, late at night, in the cold, by a payphone. So I could beg my parents to fetch me. Afraid to rock the boat, and without many options, I kissed the Boyfriend goodbye and made the call.

My Mom is Patient and Sweet and Lovely, but I caught her in a fury. By now, she had spent a few hours stewing about The Plan (poor Laura had to break the news; I imagine I am alive today because she took pity on me, the friend-dumping idiot, and begged for my short life to be spared). I know now that she was equally angry at me for disobeying her and at the Boyfriend-on-the-pedestal that left me in the dark. But at the time, I wasn't sure if I was more scared of being left alone at night in a deserted parking lot or of my Mom risking life and limb to get me. At least all the creepy guys were heading to shelter, right? The phone call was brief and terse and miserable. She made me wait. She told me she would come get me when she was ready. Clearly I was getting a lesson. (Don't try it at home kiddies. Learn from me. Unpleasant and very cold.)

No one nabbed me and I made it home safely, thanks to my silent, yet loving parents. I was busted for a time (hard to swallow considering I was such a goody-goody). And I continued to date the guy who dumped me somewhere to save his own hide off and on for a few more years. True story. Young love is blind, afterall.

Friday, January 12, 2007

(Message inside)

(I am writing, even if it's a short post, Monday through Friday now. 2007 is shaping up to be my year of self-discipline. I am not seeking more 'shoulds' in my life - I've got a long history of being paralyzed by perfectionism. (It's not all it's cracked up to be.) Instead, I am focusing on taking small steps, daily, to reach some goals I've set up to be lofty, thus unattainable. (See:perfectionism) I am exercising, to regain my health. I am writing, it's what I love. I don't wake up every morning wanting to do either, but yet I am. Oh, I am growing up after all. (And sounding like I read far too many self-help books. Don't puke.)

I was rereading some of my posts last night and noticed a little trend. I am in love with parentheses. When did this happen? I don't think I interrupted myself continuously in the past. I can only think of two reasons for this change in my writing style: a) I have undiagnosed adult ADD (otherwise known as being a multitasking master mom) or b) I am imitating Chang-rae Lee. I was chemically altered by reading his book (full of parentheses and big sentences) while I had a fever. Like Spider-man, only with no cool powers or book deals. In the past, this quirk would have caused enough doubt to make me stop posting. At least for a while. But I am a woman on a mission, writing raw and loving it. Sometimes it's all about the love.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Never alone

I woke up early to confirm what I had suspected: no school today due to the lovely snow that fell last night. I enjoy my kids, I really do. (I practice affirmations; I find them helpful.) But I was secretly ready to have the day to myself. I had BIG PLANS, THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH. And I needed a reprieve from Lexi's mood swings.

It started with a yellow balloon that she had named some months ago. She is a collector and a pack rat (clearly my child), so sometimes these precious things get misplaced. Balloony or whatever her name is, was found mortally wounded and deflated, smashed under Barbie debris. Cheap rubber has never been treasured like this before; her heart was broken. After grieving, she filled 'Loony' up with cardboard and scotch-taped her back to some semblance of her former self. She held onto her all night, because she clearly sensed that her dear old Mom didn't understand the love between a girl and her frankenballoon. (I think she detected my indifference when I said that if we continued talking about the balloon, my eyes would bleed.) After she tucked 'Loony McLoon' into bed, she got a little choked up again. I then heard her whisper, in disgust, "I hate hormones". I guess our little puberty talks are starting to hit home.

Lest I give you the impression the Zack is a bastion of stability, let me reassure you that he is doing his part, sucking the sanity out of the room. Today is a day of tears. Tears over bumping his toe. Tears over bonking his head. (Maybe it's the day of being clumsy.) Tears over being too cold.

Mooommmm, (howl) I am (howl) too cold. (Insert all manners of carrying on and blubbering.) I need (sob) A (boohoo) and W.

Huh? Oh, we have leftover root beer from Greg's birthday party, a delicacy often not seen in our parts. One that must be guzzled down immediately. I popped open a can for him, found my flask, and settled in for what I hope is a long winter's nap.

A girl's got to have dreams.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lisey's Story

I started writing a blog to force myself to write, period. No drama, no formulas. Just write. My previous strategy included self-torture and missing exits on the freeway as I 'wrote' dialogue in my head. I still daydream too much, but at least I am doing something each day, putting the pen to the paper, or the laptop in this case.

I wrote a blurb about Lisey's Story at LibraryThing, but it refuses to submit. (Submit, I say. Submit.) So until my computer skills match my desire for tidy little book reviews connected through my book widget, I will simply have to copy and paste it here:

King is typically regarded as a gore-master, his throne squarely rooted in horror. But he has an uncanny ability to describe the relationships between everyday people - that's why I've been reading his books since high school. I have to admit that the 100 middle pages felt too long (I would have given up if it wasn't King and I needed to know how he finished it). Like others have noted, it is a creepy tale, primarily centered on a dead author and his widow, Lisa, and the relationship they share that transcends death. It brings Bag of Bones to mind; if you enjoyed the 1998 dark love story, you might give Lisey a try.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chronic Babe

When I started a second blog, Much to My Sjogren, I wanted to write about chronic illness and living well. Sometimes the entries were whiny, but ultimately I hoped to present fun and inspiring ways to live well, even if you are anything but.

Then I found Chronic Babe. It is what I would write if I had the time/creativity and had thought of it myself. (I am hoping to contribute to their newsletter at some point.) If you know someone living with a chronic condition (diabetes, Chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, just to name a few), check out CB. It's worth a peek.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Power Ranger Mystic Force

Power Ranger Mystic Yogini
Originally uploaded by mama.milton.
I've been 'practicing' yoga off and on since Zack was a baby. Last summer, I ventured out of my house (where all the yoga magic had happened up until then) and took some classes at the YMCA. I was still grieving my Jazzercise loss; I'd been faithful to the wacky jazz dance aerobics since leg warmers were popular the first time around. I came home certain that by-golly, I could try and love something new.

Now I've created a convert.

*If you want to see more superheroes/action figures in yoga poses (you know you do), check out yogabeans!, hosted by Mrs. Kennedy of Fussy. (She'll bust out some naughty words from time-to-time, so if you are sensitive to swearing, consider yourself warned.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Achy, sore

For the poor souls that have heard me gripe about my aches and pains over the past year, what I am about to describe is positive pain. I have cruised through the holidays without nary a cluster headache; my arthritis seems manageable and my energy level is higher than it's been since the summer of 2005. Really.

For a time, I couldn't hold my blow dryer to fix my hair. My arms were that weak. (Autoimmune disease often causes muscle inflammation and weakness; it can target any muscles, including the heart and lungs.) I think in retrospect, I was depressed by my new limits and gave up on much exercise, besides yoga. (Even yoga proved to be difficult when neurological symptoms screwed up my balance.)

But wait, here's the good news. I like pain! Sorta. Now that I am in remission, I am cranking up the cardio, lifting some weights, crunching the crunches. And gee, I am sore.

Thank God I am sore. Not that I am complaining - never has overexertion felt so good.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I caught the end of Oprah yesterday, proving I am that demographic. I think she is in Africa, opening her new school, so it was a repeat. (How do I know these things? It must be in the water.) The show had been about social and economic class in America - I tuned in just in time to see Warren Buffett's granddaughter. Turns out that when he's not handing over big bucks to Bill and Melinda Gates, he's teaching his offspring to work for their keep. His heirs are provided with an education, complete with room and board. Thereafter, they make their own way. I imagine that they would never actually starve; there is a safety net. But they don't live on a trust fund. She seemed grounded, and normal. (It was a refreshing contrast to the Paris Hiltons of the world. Don't even get me started.) I would hope this is how I would handle a fortune. I hope I am doing a good job with what I have. The world can do without another generation of 'entitled' citizens; it's good to work for what you have.

I am now prepared to come into a large sum of money.

(I have a rich fantasy life. I also contemplate other likely scenarios that could just happen. For instance, what color eye shadow should I use on a third eye, should it erupt from my forehead. Very useful stuff.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I was peddling my way to the cash register yesterday when I heard some kid screeching. Not a baby, but what appeared to be a school-aged little guy, like Zack. But very naughty and very far ahead of his Mommy who was admonishing him in that detached, 'I-am-saying-this-for-the-benefit-of-the-folks-judging-me' type of tone. He singled me out and started to mess with my cart, clearly looking for attention, so I tried to give him a stern, yet kind look. (This is hard to do - I haven't quite mastered the serene and mean look.) He grew bored with swiveling my smoothie and rice and took off around the corner just as his Mom made her approach.

"'Little boy with a name I can't recall', come here right now. Someone is going to grab you and kidnap you." Says Trance Mama, rather loudly.

And my first thought, on the second day of the year was, "not likely."

So much for being more loving in 2007. I've got my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy birthday honey

Greg is the big 4-OH today. Yippee. I couldn't resist posting his senior picture, you know, as a special gift to my dear husband as he is so fond of it. His dad sent a copy of it on the CD of Christmas pictures, much to my delight.

So happy birthday Gregor. We love you very much.

*Boopie and the kids

(Yes, I am that Boopie. No, I don't answer to it outside the confines of my hubby or home.)