Monthly Archives: August 2009

Sleep depravation – an experiment

George won’t sleep.

I’m sorry, but those are three of the most horrifying words that any parent can utter about their child, especially once that child is well past infancy.

George won’t sleep.

Here’s what I really don’t understand, though. If someone were to look at me everyday, and tell me, you know what, it’s time for you to stop what you are doing and rest, right now… my head would hit the pillow before the words were out of their mouth. A nap. EVERY day? I am so in.

But not George. Sleeping is, apparently, a waste of his time.

Which is not to say that the child doesn’t just lose consciousness every day. For example, he passes out on the boat:

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And he’ll envelop himself in every blanket in the house and grab some z’s, like so:

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Here he is, somehow sharing the couch with Jim, but if you look closely, it’s like they are in some type of “old woman or young woman” painting, where you cannot quite figure out how it is humanly possible that they are laying this way. Serioulsy, where are both their legs?

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And of course, here he is in a bed. My bed. Not his. He won’t sleep there. Mine.

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But in general, when I ask him to sleep, the response is something like this:

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So generally, much of my mid-morning and early afternoon is taken up with the intense and grating effort to put George down for a nap. Of course, sometimes, when he does nap, he wakes up not refeshed, but crankier than before, as if I put him to sleep not with a lullaby and a sweet kiss, but with a dose of some sort of powerful anestesic that caused him to wake like a grumpy giant instead of a sweet prince. So really, I don’t know why I bother.

But anyway, last night, at 7:30, the child went down for the night. He fell asleep while playing, and we managed to easily transfer him to his bed, where he stayed all night. All. Night. George slept. Yesterday, I had errands to run, and George did not get his nap. And this was the result.

So, like many mothers before me who also thought they’d stumbled onto a feat of true genius, I thought, A-HA! Sleep depravation will set me free! I shall never let him nap again. So I was working at it today, and how. We played, we busted out the Legos, we played a little Bakugan (still — no idea what this is). We watched Dora (which is a strangely compelling show). We had a snack, and later lunch. We did as much as possible to distract ourselves from sleep. So when he held up a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD to watch, I popped it in the DVD player in the basement, came upstairs, made myself a PB&J for lunch (So good, by the way. Do you ever just eat PB&J? Tastes like my childhood wrapped in a happy cloud. Mmmmmmmmmm.) and went to check on him. Here is what I found:

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I put the blanket on him, but only because I was cold. Which is a totally different beef I have all together. It’s August, for the love of Mary. Why the hell am I cold?

Anyway, I suppose I should have seen it coming. At least I have yet another picture of him sleeping, to add to my collection of photos to prove that he doesn’t sleep.

George won’t sleep. George konks out whenever and wherever he damn well feels like it. It’s going to be another long night.

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What Ted Kennedy’s passing means to me

I’m struck by how very sad I am at the passing of Ted Kennedy. Surely we all saw this coming. Brain cancer at the age of 77 is not exactly something that you bounce back from. It’s cancer. In your brain. It’s just not a smiley prognosis.

Yet I am overwhelmingly sad watching the wall to wall coverage on television.

I looked up the definition of “legacy,” the word that the talking heads on my TV box keep throwing around. Legacy – Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past. I think it is this very word, “legacy,” that makes me so very sad. I fear that I’m not ready to inherit it yet.

To me, the passing of Ted Kennedy means the passing of my parents’ time. Theirs is a world I cannot even begin to understand. My parents watched the Vietnam war on televison, and my mother would quiver with sadness remembering the time she saw a live report in which a young American GI, cradled in the arms of one of his fellow soldiers, cried out, “Mom!” and died. My mother herself was holding a newborn baby girl, my sister Carrie, when President Kennedy was killed. Five years later, my mother cradled another new born, Laura, just two days old, when she was given the news that Robert F. Kennedy had also been assassinated. The Kennedy family could have been classmates of my parents. If Ted Kennedy experienced it, my parents experienced it. The death of his brothers, the war in Vietnam, civil rights, Nixon, Ford, Carter, hostages, arms, Reaganomics, AIDS, the 70’s, the 80’s, the cold war, the Berlin Wall. Their lives and experiences eventualy overlapped with mine, but my parents saw it from a different perspective. My parents, though removed by miles and social status and money and political ambition, KNEW what Ted Kennedy knew. It was their time.

Now, it’s my time.

I am 35 years old. Those of us at this age who have been paying any attention (and by that I mean, the non-Katy Abrams of the world) first got a fire in our belly in 1992. Love him or hate him, Bill Clinton made us think. But it wasn’t until this year, this president, this new administration, when we started to really inherit the country. It is NOW that we identify with the president, because he’s our age. He’s our type. He’s what we know as America. He’s familiar to us on a personal level. For better or worse (and to me, I beleive, for better), Barack Obama is our first glimpse at what it was like for our parents to identify with the Kennedys. And I’m excited. But I’m also sad. Because I don’t want my parents time to be done yet.

Yes, I’m 35. I am married and I own a home and have two children and have been on my own for quite some time. But still, I crave my parents’ counsel. I crave their approval. I hesitate to make big decisions without first thinking, “I wonder what Mom and Dad would think?” And now it’s time for their generation to hand the reigns to mine, and I am afraid to take them. They had ups and downs and made huge mistakes, but I think they did a good job overall. My generation seems capable of pushing forward, yet, I don’t want to mess up all their hard work. They did exactly what they were supposed to do — they prepped the world for us. Now it’s our turn. And I don’t know about anyone else, but that scares the bejeebies out of me.

My parents are happy and healthy, and I don’t necessarily expect them to leave this world any time soon. But with the passing of Ted Kennedy, it’s clear that it’s time for Mom and Dad to enjoy themselves, while me and my fellow Generation X’ers take on their legacy.

I hope we do right by you, Mom and Dad. And thanks for getting us there, Senator Kennedy.

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How far have we come?

Yesterday, I was walking home with my sons after school. It was a typical day, sun shining, warm but not hot, suburbia splattered all over the sidewalk. Frankly, I think, we’re living the dream.

Walking about 50 feet in front of me was a young boy and his mother. The boy was carrying a bag with his name on it: Muhammed. Across the street were a boy a girl, likely brother and sister, both well dressed, handsome and blonde.  I’m guessing 3rd and 4th graders. I walked out of the school yard surrounded by all these children and more. Like I said, it was a typical suburban day.

“Hey Muhammed! Hey Muhammed! Hey! Hey!” the  boy across the way started to yell.

“Muhammed! What’s wrong with you? Muhammed? I hear [inaudible name] likes you! She’s a weirdo!” the girl cries out.

Then the mocking kicks into high gear. A lot of it is hard to make out, but at one point, Muhammed turns and yells something back, and his mother leans in and whispers something to him. My guess, she was telling him to just ignore those kids. And yes, you just read that correctly — the kids were bullying Muhammed from across the road RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS MOTHER. When I was a kid, even the cruelest of bullies wouldn’t pick on someone when an adult was in earshot, let alone the MOTHER of the object of the bully’s contempt, lest his mother call your mother, and man would you ever get it. That used to be the key component of being a bully — they were actually just scared little bastards who lacked the balls to say something when the risk outweighed the reward. But apparently, no more.

I thought about it a little more, and realized that no way would these kids be mocking young Muhammed in front of  a teacher. But somewhere, along the line, someone taught them that while teachers are to be respected, the parents of other children are not. You don’t learn that in school. You learn that at home.

The mocking continues from the little girl, and finally, I’ve had it. At this point, I have no idea if they are bullying Muhammed because of his ethnicity, or if maybe he is just a weird little kid. I mean, they exist. My thought is it’s the former, I hope it’s the latter, and either way, it’s going to stop, and right now.

“Hey,” I holler. They both look. “Watch your mouth.”

The boy looks at me, unsure, but decides he doesn’t need to respect me, either.

“Muhammed, you’re not funny. But your name is!” the boy shouts.

“Oh yeah,” I shout back, “what’s YOUR name?”

The boy and girl both quickly run off in another direction, apparently done with their bullying for the day. Either they sensed that maybe I was the kind of person who would follow them home and tell their mother what they did, or they were just bored. I hope it’s the former, I bet it’s the latter, but either way, it’s over.

Muhammed’s mom glances back at me, smiles, nods, and goes on her way with her son.

Fast forward to this morning. I decide to talk to Hank quickly about what happened. During the entire exchange, he had hurried ahead with his friends, and didn’t see or hear any of it. So I lay it out for him. I tell him what the kids were yelling, what I said, what I think about why they were yelling. I reinforce a lesson I have tried to teach him over and over about how he has the choice to walk away from bullies. I tell him that’s it’s unacceptable to mock someone just because they are different from you, whether it’s their name or the color or their skin or any other reason. I explain to him why I stepped in and what I said to the kids.

And you know what he said? My beautiful 7-year-old, looking as serious as possible, looked at me, shrugged, and said, “Muhammed’s not a funny name. Sounds normal to me.”

It might just be baby steps, but maybe we’ve come a little further than I thought, at least in my own little slice of suburbia.

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What’s the deal, health care reform naysayers?

The thing that is making me the absolute most crazy about the health care reform debate is the incessant reading and re-reading of proposed bills at various town hall meetings, on fabulous news shows, in countless blogs and uttered from the lips of the average Joe at the office, in the bar or even just hanging out with friends.

“The bill says this” and “the bill says that” and “the bill will add this” and “the bill will take away that.”

Jimminy Christmas, people, am I the ONLY person who payed attention to School House Rock?

I’m just a bill
Yes I’m only a bill,
And I got as far as Capitol Hill.
Well, now I’m stuck in committee
And I’ll sit here and wait
While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
Whether they should let me be a law.
How I hope and pray that they will,
But today I am still just a bill.

That’s the point of the town halls among other things people, to get the information out there. Yet everyone keeps pointing at the bills and saying, LOOK WHAT THIS WILL DO.

*POINT*

We’re killing old people.

*POINT*

We’re killing choice.

*POINT*

We’re giving free health care to illegals.

*POINT*

We’re rationing health care!

*POINT*

Did I mention we’re killing old people?

*POINT* *POINT* *POINT*

People. It’ s just a bill. And it’s sitting there on capitol hill.

I know that I am way oversimplifying the matter. I know that there are people, on both sides of the issue, that have fiercely strong opinions. Some of them are whack jobs, some of them have valid points. But how in the hell does HB 3200, with all its good and bad points, evolve into John McCain getting booed at his own town hall when he says that he believes the President of the United States is sincere in his beliefs. Why do a group of people boo at the very thought that the President wants to aid the poorest and weakest among us in the battle for affordable and necessary health care.

Seriously, I am sick to death of hearing people say that we have the best health care system in the world. No we don’t. Not even close. The only way you have great health care is if you can afford it, and even then, your insurance company is rationing out care. I can certainly speak to that. An inquiring look at my hospital bill after my last c-section shows that I had to pay, in part, for the stitches and staples used to put me back together. So cutting the baby out, covered. But putting the mom back together…. hold on now, what’s REALLY necessary? And you know what, I have GREAT health insurance.

I cannot reach into my pocket and pull out a magical list of answers. But I know that something’s gotta give. We cannot walk around making ourselves the moral authority of the world, when we poo poo on some of the poorest among us. Walk into an emergency room and watch for a while. There are too many people out there with no way to pay, using the ER as their primary care physican, getting diagnosed only to not get a prescription filled due to lack of money, coming in way too late for their condition to be properly treated.

I don’t know what the answers are. That’s why I voted for my senators and congressmen and asked them to represent me and help find the answers. And of course, one of my senators is Rolland Burris, so I don’t exactly feel fully represented here. But I do know this — it’s only a bill. Why do we even vote these people into office if we have such little confidence that they can properly wade through the proper channels of how a bill becomes a law and represent the people of the United States.

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Hearts and thoughts they fade… fade away

That’s right. I went and saw Pearl Jam.

Jim and I went to see Pearl Jam last night at the United Center, and it was LOUD. Seriously. My ears are currently ringing, and I am wondering how long this will last. It’s mostly my left ear. But who needs hearing, right?

We were in a suite (SWEET!) with some people who Jim works with, and some of them I think were a little annoyed that they didn’t play more of their original stuff. No Jeremy, no Daughter, no Better Man. But I enjoyed it, and Jim LOVED it.

Here is the thing about my husband: I don’t think he gives himself nearly enough credit for how smart he really is. The man has an abundnace of common sense, which is obviously a good thing. But he is highly in tune with things like music. When the band started to play a Neil Young song, one that I certainly do not know, Jim knew exactly what it was after the first few notes. And it’s not like he’s some obscure music freak. He can recognize some random independent band as quickly as he can recognize a mainstream band, and when an independent goes mainstream, he’s the guy who already owned all their albums back in high school (think Wilco).

But it’s not just this type of thing that impresses me. Not long ago, I was looking at my yearbook from my freshman year in high school. In the back, there was a list of all the top stories from 1988. So we started with sports and he knew all the answers, NCAA champions, football, baseball, basketball, I think there were even some Olympic notes in there he knew. But it wasn’t just that. He knew all the world trivia too.

When they recently let the Lockerbie bomber go, I knew the man had been responsible for blowing up a PanAm jet, clearly over Lockerbie. But Jim knew how many people were killed. Stuff like that. He’s like a sponge, just KNOWING things.

You know how so many people got caught up in the sub-prime mortgage thing? Not us. Want to know why? Becuase my husband explained to me exactly what would happen if we went for one of those, LONG before anyone else figured it out. Dammit. The man is smart.

I cannot even begin to explain his job. I know he is a purchasing manager, and that sounds straight forward. But I think he has whatever job that Chandler Bing had, where he is worried about the Weenis. There’s a computer and a stack of paper and an inbox and lots and lots of rubbing his eyes… but what he’s actually DOING, I couldn’t tell you. But I know I’m not smart enough to do it.

But when you take it all together, my husband is this incredibly smart man… who apparently doesn’t know it. Not that he thinks he’s dumb, but he certainly doesn’t flaunt it that he’s not. He doesn’t challenge others to Trivial Pursuit (which, after I played him and WON one time, I refuse to play him again). He doesn’t look down on others when they don’t know the answer to something. And, despite his inherent smartness, he cannot figure out how to start the washing machine.

I guess all I am trying to say is that I married a very smart man. Of course, he picked me, so I guess I knew he was super smart from the start.

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A blog like no other

Well, that’s doubtful.

But my husband is slightly interested in my new decision to start to blog. I think he might be worried that I will include in this script details of our sexcapades, as if his weekly ritual of taking off his glasses and grunting “wanna do it” would make it to my blog. Of course, it just did… but I digress.

Honestly, one of the reasons I wanted to blog, as I told him today at lunch, is because more than anything, I would love to be a columnist. I mean, I don’t want to WORK for that job. I just want someone to HAND it to me. It doesn’t have to be a big paper or magazine or website. But the idea of sitting around writing what you know is pretty much my dream job.

I notice with a lot of blogs, and even with just a few entries under my belt, however, that lots of women tend to turn their blogs in to their children’s blogs. Here’s what Johnny did today, here’s what little Sally had to eat, oh Junior had the most adorable dump in his pants! Squeeeeeeee!! And sure, being a mother to two little boys is something that I KNOW, and hence, if I am going to write what I know, then the boys are going to be my subject matter, and often.

But they aren’t all that I am. Right? I mean, does that make me a bad mother to want to write about how bad the Cubs are or how I am working my butt off at the gym in an attempt to put on some muscle or how freakishly stoked I am that I FINALLY inheritied my Mom’s fine China (seriously, it’s good stuff).

I remember shortly after Hank was born, looking at him, and honest to God thinking,

 “this is why I was put on this Earth, to be this boy’s mother.”

What.The.Hell? It’s like the kid came out of me, and *BOOM* no more Marney. Just Hank’s Mom. I think I even changed my e-mail signature to actually say, “Hank’s Mom.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, Hank is awesome. And I have every intention of writing about him frequently, as he is, as his teacher put it, “a joy.” I mean look at him:

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He was a Cub this year. For God’s sake, a CUB. It’s like a little preview into the future.

And take a look at his brother:

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That’s right, my three year old is wearing a Santa hat while boxing his reflection. It’s like I don’t need to think of what to write, it COMES directly to me.

Still, I am not just a mother. Sure I was put on earth to be their mother. But that’s not it. I mean, if that was it, I could lay down and die now, because the action is complete: They’re born! I just cannot think of what made me think that having children was my reason for being, when I still KNEW that there were other things I wanted in my life. Not instead of them. Not in spite of them. But ALONG with them.

So when I add up all my life long dreams, I can go back to childhood and know that one thing I did, non-stop, was write. Some of my childhood writings were saved. Some were ruined in the great basement flood of 2007. Some are still folded up and placed in the center of books in my Mom’s house, because she used to do that on purpose so she would find it again one day and relive a nice memory. And because I am my mother, I admit, I do that too with my kid’s drawings and stuff.

But when the day comes that I pull out an old copy of whatever and find a picture that George drew or a spelling test Hank took tucked into it, I don’t want to be sad thinking about it, and how much I miss being a Mom to little boys. I want to be happy, and remember how nice it was to have little ones, but relieved that raising them didn’t take over my life. I don’t want a Mom blog. I want a Marney blog. In a way, it’s my dream job come true — minus the salary. But meh, I can live with that.

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Toys… an investment

I think if we could separate all the toys in my house into categories, then get an appraiser to look at each category and determine their worth, we’d find that toys are the number one money-eater in this household. We probably, most likely, have invested thousands in toys over the past seven years. If we could rid ourselves of those toys, and put that money in our pockets, we’d be well on our way to paying for honeymoon #2. Or a nice boob job for me. Or, more likely something sensible, like a nice kitchen table (yawn).

Legos… not cheap. Bakugan (whatever the hell that is)… not cheap. Thomas the Tank Engine… sweet mother Mary not cheap even from a garage sale.

Then there’s the usual staples. Cars. Chalk. Bats. Balls. Hippity-hops. Bubbles. Jenga (which, if it’s not a staple in your house, it should be — long before they can play Jenga, they can use the blocks as building blocks with pretty much ANY toy. Seriously, I have no daughters, but I am pretty sure Barbie would have some kickass end tables made of Jenga if I did).

Yet despite all these toys, everyone knows the old adage about how the kids would rather play with the box, and that’s mostly true.

Until tonight. When I found, at Target, two blow up guitars and two blow up microphones. $4. Best toys ever. Or at least, best toys this week.

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