Monthly Archives: September 2009

Channeling my father

There’s another person  taking over my body these days. And his name is Dad.

Today was pretty nice, so George was outside playing with the 3-year-old twins from next door, Cira and Christian. Cira and Christian are, for lack of a better way of saying it, monsters. Now, I don’t know if they are just normal 3-year-olds, but they are hard to take because there are two of them, or if they are in fact real life monsters. They are yellers and kickers and tantrum prone, and they never ever ever ever ever listen. Certainly my own 3-year-old has selective hearing when I am speaking (a trait he obviously inherited from his father), but these two are something else. Like, maybe they have legitimate hearing problems. But judging from the way their little heads tilt in the direction of the ice cream man when he is still several blocks away, I’m guessing the old hammer and anvil are in perfect condition inside their little ears.

Today, since it was so very nice, I headed out to the front porch with my lunch to watch George and his playmates skip around. Cira, stuck hanging out with her brother, the boy next door and her dad, decided to come on over. The first thing she did — she asked for some of my lunch. Twice. I politely told her no. Twice. Then, she pointed to my flowers. Now, I have no idea what these flowers are. They are purple and pretty and bloom all season and I really like them. Young Cira leaned over to smell them, only to quickly put her tiny little fingers on them and start squeezing.

“Don’t pull at my flowers, Honey,” I say.

Devilish grin.. Hand slowly moves back toward flower.

“Please don’t pull those, Cira,” I say, a little more motherly.

*pull*

“Hey kid,” I state. “Get your hands off my flowers.”

Holy crap, Dad just spoke through me.

Now, Dad wouldn’t really have used the word “kid.” He would have said “pal.” In fact, “kid” is really a term of endearment when my father uses it, as it usually is when I use it toward my own children. But the way I said it, it was not me. It was Dad. That kid was touching my stuff, and it was not going to happen.

It’s not just my father. I’ve been channeling both of my parents these days. I’ve slowly been turning into both Mom and Dad in the following ways:

  • Upon being questioned where an object is, like say, a backpack, I generally answer, “If I find it can I hit you with it?”
  • When my son asks me where his shoes or jacket is, I reply, “I don’t know, I don’t wear your clothes.”
  • I routinely take my kid to school without brushing my hair first.
  • I recently told Hank, after he was punished for something he SWEARS he did not do, “Well, that’s for something I didn’t see you do.”
  • If my child utters the words “I’m bored,” I respond with, “Then go clean the bathroom.”
  • I have convinced my children I have eyes in the back of my head.
  • I think stretch pants are the single most important and brilliant invention of this or any generation.
  • I wear said stretch pants while driving to school with my unbrushed hair.
  • I have, on more than one occasion, asked my children, “Are you out of your mind?”
  • I often tell my children, “I’m your mother, not your maid.”
  • If a child approaches me telling me about some toy he must have, my repsonse is, “Wow, you better get a job.”
  • I have screamed out, “God save me from little boys!” (my mother’s yelping replaced “little boys” with “teenaged girls,” and I think it’s fair to say that she really did have the short end of that stick).

These are just a few examples. But it happens every day. I think it is in this manner that we never truly die. We just become our parents. I cannot wait to hear some of those phrases come out of my sons’ mouths.

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Today, I’m just not right

I’m off today. Not off like, not working. Off like, I’m just not right.

I did my usual morning hub bub. I straightened up, made breakfast, put some clothes on myself and the boys, got Hank off to school. I went upstairs and made the beds. I drank my two cups and coffee and decided to go for a third cup — and now I’m thinking about a fourth. I procrastinated. But despite my usual to do, I’m off today. You see, last night I had the worst dream I have ever had in my entire life. Last night, I dreamt that my children died.

There were a lot of red flags in this dream that should have clued me in to the fact that I was asleep. For example, George Clooney was there. He was dressed in a robe and long beard as if he was playing God in a Monty Python flick. Apparently, he was not out of place — we were on a movie set for some reason. At other times, we were at home, but not our home. We were at my parent’s old house on Casa Solana. Through most of the dream, I was clutching a photo of the boys that does not exist. I won’t tell you how they died, it was worse than you think, even for a dream.

In my dream, I had to tell Jim what had happened. I couldn’t get any words out, until I finally screamed at him, “My children are dead.” At one point, I found Jim crouched in Hank’s room, drunk off his rocker, because his children were gone. But it wasn’t Hank’s room, it was my room, from when I was a teenager. See, that same room that was mine as a child was the room where we set up Hank’s nursery when I lived with my parents after he was born. But in the dream, it was still my room from the 90’s, complete with my day bed and the old dresser and Aunt Lil’s mirror. Again, red flag. WAKE UP.

At one point, I was sitting in the family room, this time of my current home. I was sitting on the floor surrounded by the toys that the boys had not put away. I told Jim, “I know this is a dream, I just need to wake up.” But I wasn’t waking up.

Finally, I turned to Jim and told him I needed to have another baby. “I’m only 35,” I told him. “I can’t go though another 35 years without children.” But, no sooner than I said it, I thought, “I hope I don’t have a girl. I need a boy.”

I finally snapped out of this nightmare when Jim crawled out of bed, grumpy as usual, and staggered into the bathroom. I shot upright in bed and quite literally ran to Hank’s room. I didn’t just gently touch him, I actually yanked his blankets off of him.

“Mommy,” he said, still half in slumber. “Why did you do that?”

Now, keep in mind that Hank rarely calls me “Mommy.” I am just Mom. That one word tugged at my heart. I bent over and tucked him back in, kissing his head. Then I went down to George’s room, gave him a little hug without waking him up, and headed to the bathroom. In there, I proceeded to bawl my eyes out. Once I regained my composure, I climbed back in my bed, only to cry for another few minutes before finally getting a grip. For God’s sake, Marney, it was a DREAM. They’re fine.

Jim was oblivious to the whole deal, he was in the bathroom, doing his usual morning business, shaving, showering, etc. When he came out, I told him I had a horrible dream that the children had died, but by this time I had completely regained myself and sounded normal. He said he too had a bad dream, but he couldn’t remember what it was. I brushed it off, but my heart actually hurt. It hurt so much that I made the kids pancakes. And I let them horse around. And I didn’t yell at them when I told Hank to go get dressed for school, but instead they ripped all the covers off the beds and made a fort. When I dropped Hank off at school, I told him to be careful today. He lifted one eyebrow (a genetic trait that I cannot perform myself) and said, “uh…. ok,” before hopping out of the car and running over to his friends.

I did some quick searches on the internet about what dreams mean, but couldn’t come up with anything specifically for what it means if your child dies. Mostly, death means something about figuring out what you are missing in your life, or facing your fears. I don’t know if dreams are a product of the subconscious or a message from the gods or just neurons or whatever firing in your brain, but I feel pretty strongly that I did not need a lesson on how horrible it would be to lose my children. I wonder, if there is any hidden meaning to it, if I am sad about my children growing up, hence, the death of their childhood. Hank is doing math that I don’t understand. George is using the potty. If you take a look at Hank, you can so clearly see my nephew Jonathan in him. But Jon is 21 now. Maybe it was something like that? Beats the hell out of me. The George Clooney reference — that just puts me at a total loss. I suppose that was just my mind’s way of letting me know that this was, in fact, just a dream.

I know that there is no time limit to when you stop worrying about your children. I am pretty sure that I was well into adulthood the last time my own mother checked on me in the middle of the night to make sure I was breathing. But today, I want nothing more than to hold my children as tightly as possible.

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And to never dream again.

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There it goes…

A brutal truth slapped me in the face this morning when I stepped outside to check the weather: It’s just not summer anymore.

I know very few people who view the brutal, sweltering heat of summer the way I do — I LOVE it. Love it love it love it love it love it. Nothing makes me happier than a good summer sweat. Certainly there is a limit. No one can be comfortable in 110 degree weather with no cooling prospects in sight. But this particular summer was like a three month long 83 degree dream. For all the complaints I heard about how it wasn’t all that warm this summer, I found it to be pretty much beautiful all around. We only ran the a/c for a total of maybe two weeks the whole time. I got lots of lake time. There were a handful of hot nights (my ABSOLUTE favorite — nothing beats the feeling of near 90 degree temperatures when the clock slowly ticks toward midnight. LOVE IT!).

I assume my affection for the heat comes from summers crammed into a three bedroom trailer in Wisconsin. While I only have a few scattered memories about when we used to stay in the cabins at Clearwater Resort on Lake Jordan, I can smell that trailer, purchased by my parents when I was around 8 years old, as clearly today as I could back then. Just close my eyes, and BAM, I can smell the mixture of dust and crisp Wisconsin nights and wet towels and taco salad and Russel’s meat market and of course, moth balls. Those summers when we crammed as many as 22 people inside that little trailer were the best memories of my childhood and early adult adventures.

Clearwater Resort is long gone, and the trailer literally fell apart after we left it, but our summers at Lake Jordan remain, thanks to Mom and Pops and their awesome lakeside hacienda. My sister Amy and I refer to it as “The Happy Place.” You cannot blame us:

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This is Hank and Danny on the boat, the view from the beach at the house.

And when we are at the back of the lake, we see this:

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Or, often, we see it like this:

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There is no shortage of laughter and joy in the Happy Place. And I found this summer to be a particularly nice one. There were, of course, the obligatory self-portraits.

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You know I must love the Happy Place when I absolutely adore a photo like this one of me and Hank, despite the way it completely and totally highlights each and every ginormous sized pore and splotchy skin discoloration flaw in my face.

And this summer just FELT so good. Check out this photo:

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I cannot for the life of me imagine what Hank is saying to Tim, but look how hard he has Tim laughing. Must have been a good one.

And of course, there’s just all around good times:

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You just cannot argue with the likes of hanging out with Grandpa, catching frogs while wearing a shark hat, and the “ska-do.”

Nights are nice too.

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Look at that! I’ll admit, this particular night was slightly marred when the full moon made one Mr. Glockenspiel go out of his ever-loving mind and attempt to hike back to Chicago all while cornering the market on parental love. If you don’t know what I am talking about, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the moon over the water. If you do know — sorry Laura!

Anyway, back to my point. I love summer. I love hot sticky summer. I love Wisconsin summer. I seriously could use up all of my space available on this blog simply posting my favorite pictures from Wisconsin summer. And it’s gone.

Every year, after Labor Day, I PROMISE myself that I am going to get back to Wisconsin one more time in September. That I am going to look fall in the face and tell it where to go and how to get there. That I am going to get out for one more boat ride and one more back-of-the-lake swim. And every year, I fail. The weekends come too quickly, the priorities get rearranged, the commitments pile on. The next thing you know, September is out of weekends, and here I sit in Illinois. No more Wisconsin summer. Even if I can get to Wisconsin in October, I’m a minimum of 8 months away from my next dip in Lake Jordan. That just makes me so sad.

Don’t get me wrong, the Happy Place is always happy, even in the dead of winter. With winter comes ice skating and snow tubing and hopefully, if the lake is frozen through from end to end, auto races on the lake. Karaoke Bob still shows up at the Boondocks on Friday nights, even in January. The Pizza Pub is open all winter. And with the invention of the indoor water park, there’s always something to do in the Dells, even go swimming should you so choose to blow your entire tax return on a single weekend.

Jim has successfully gotten me interested in college football, and I do love the smell of fall. I love Halloween and Christmas and my birthday (January 4 for those of you who forgot, Mom). I’ll get through the lull of cabin fever and summer will be here again before I know it. But today, it’s clearly over.

It’s a sad day today.

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Open question to men

Seriously… why do you love your junk so much?

George is 3 years and 5 months old. At this age, Hank was fully potty trained, always in underpants, MAYBE he’d wear a pull up at night, but it would be dry in the morning. Hell, we got married two days after Hank’s 3rd birthday, and he was wearing underwear at the wedding. So naturally, I expected George to take to the potty as easily as Hank did. What a crock.

Jim and I have tag teamed now for months and months of potty training. Which, by the way, my sister Amy says is the absolute worst job a parent has to perform. And to qualify, Amy has six kids between the ages of 3 and 19. She’s been through it all, the whining, the crying, the kicking, the screeching. She’s ridden the wave from Lizzie McGuire to Hannah Montana and did the last few years of it on only one working leg. She’s had five children forcibly removed from her uterus. She had one kid break bones on two other kids just a few months apart. Yet still, she says potty training is the worst job a parent has. It clearly sucks.

So anyway, after what has really been a year long effort, George has finally taken to the potty for Number 1. Number 2 is still a work in progress. But the child has discovered that if he pulls his pants down, there’s this… thing. He gets to TOUCH it. Whooopie! So now, at least twice an hour, I hear a little noise in the bathroom, and it’s George, standing at the toilet, his little ding-a-ling barely making it to the edge there, and yelling, “There it goes!” So not only does he get to LOOK at it several times a day, but then he gets gummy bears for finally going in the toilet.

My mother has a son. My oldest sister has a son older than mine. Why, I ask of these women, WHY didn’t you let me in on this stuff? WHY? Do you hate me? Did I do something to you? I mean, I didn’t expect my brother to explain it to me. But the WOMEN in my life. Why would you punish me this way? Why did no one ever let me in on the fact that boys are icky and gross, and they LOVE THEIR JUNK FROM THE MOMENT THEY DISCOVER IT? 

I admit, I am a little more prepared this time since we are working on son #2. I have not yet recovered from the time Hank yelled out, “Mom, you have got to SEE this!” and pointed down, and THIS was actually THAT and it was standing at attention. I may have actually screamed when that happened. But still. What is up with boys and their JUNK?

Please, anyone, I’m begging for an answer. Jim doesn’t even notice, he’s no help. And I am way outnumbered here.

I think I finally understand why nuns used to claim that it’ll fall off and you’ll go blind if you play with it. Because boys are gross.

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Music review I am in no way qualified to make – Lady Gaga

I have a new obsession. And her name is Lady Gaga.

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Well hello there miss. Nice to see you and you fun wig and your wild and crazy face painting thingy.

Honestly, I had no idea who this woman was or what she did, other than she was some sort of “entertainer” who is often the object of the contempt of the Fug Girls and their wise musings on the habits of the modern celebrity. But the other day, Jim and I were watching “Parks and Recreation” (which, by the way, is way better than its first two episodes suggested it would be, which is good, since I *puffy heart* Amy Pohler), and there was a scene in a gay bar where Amy’s character apparently became Queen of the Gays. And the Lady Gaga song, “Poker Face,” was on. And it was from then on stuck in my head, to the point that I finally had to go buy myself her album. Which, as it turns out, is her first. Who knew? Seems Ms. Gaga here is a mere 23 years old.

So now I am obsessed. Of course, being obsessed means I must find out everything I can about this woman, as well as learn said “Poker Face” so I can rock it the next time Karaoke Bob is out at the Boondocks Bar. And you want to know what I learned? I don’t get her. At. All.

For example, seems Lady Gaga is not terribly shy when it comes to letting people get really close to her Lady Gaga bits:

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Of course, rumor has it she does not really have “lady” bits, but rather, “man” bits or some type of combo of the two. So maybe she’s just trying to prove the rumor wrong. Or right. Whatever.

Anyway, moving on… even when she is not “performing,” she rarely wears pants. Well, underpants, kind of, but no actual pants.

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And of course, there are other moments that really have you thinking, WTF is that?

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No seriously… WTF is that?

Ok, ok, ok. I confess, I secretly love this:

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I love it because I am pretty sure it is the end result of this:

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Anyway, despite all of… this… I sure do like that Lady Gaga. Wikipedia says she was “inspired” by people like David Bowie and Madonna and Queen (apparently her name is a tribute to the Queen song “Radio Gaga” — her real name is Stephani something).  But when I listen to her album, I’m sorry to say, I hear more Britney Spears than I do Queen. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, I purchase my music at the same store where I buy my groceries AND my clothes. It’s not like I am a music virtuoso. It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it. I give it a 98.

If you Google Lady Gaga (which, according to GleN Beck, is the best way to do research anyway), you’ll find two types of people on various sites devoted to her: those who HATE her, and those who LOVE her. There is no in-between with Lady Gaga. But if you ignore all the comments and listen to the little Lady, you will find that she actually sings really, really… pretty. No really. The girl sings pretty.

I imagine that someone who writes lyrics such as “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” isn’t looking to be described as a “pretty” singer, but really, she is. She has a song about a girl who is basically stalking the hell out of a dude in order to get him to like her, yet the song itself sounds really pretty.

So I give her a good grade. If you haven’t yet, give Lady Gaga a try. I mean, she looks to be out of her diddy mind:

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Seriously girl, WTF?

But really, she’s just a pretty singer playing a non-stop game of dress up. Can’t really argue with that.

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Watch your mouth

You would think I would learn that there is such a thing as inappropriate language around children. I mean, I have two kids. And they are boys. If anyone is going to pick up a bad habit, it is the male of the species (and you know I am right). It’s not as if my mother walked around spouting obscenities like a leaky faucet (the way I apparently do these days). It’s not like I was always this way. But lately, for some reason, if it is obscene, I like to say it. I mean, my blog is called FOUL MOUTHED HOOLIGANS. Cussing, swearing, cursing, whatever you call it, I seem to say it. But still — I really need to watch my mouth.

Case in point — today we were walking home from school, ominous storm clouds hanging barely three inches above our heads. It clearly was about to pour any second, and we all had but moments to make the half mile trek back to the house. So I was in a hurry. In front of me was, for some reason, a group of junior high age children. My son’s school only goes to 4th grade, and none of these kids were riding their bikes along side a younger sibling, so why they were hanging out at the elementary school I do not know, nor do I care. What I did care about was their pace. Seems they wanted to hog up the sidewalk and push their bikes forward as slowly as possible, and ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. Children. Speed up already.

We got caught up. I waited a moment, and they started again. Then we got to the corner. The crossing guards swiftly and with some sense of authority held up their cardboard stop signs and marched into the road, stopping the parade of minivans and paneled station wagons driven by parents who were clearly smarter than I (because of the rain). Yet still, on the corner we stood. I counted. One. Two. Three. Four. A few raindrops struck my forehead. Five.

“Let’s go kids! Move it!” I shout in my most motherly tone.

The kids slowly pick it up, and across the street we go. Next to me, slowly peddling a bike, is young Kayla from next door. She is about 13, and was there picking up her brother and sister, who are twins in 1st grade. Of course, it could have been Kirsten — they are also twins (yes, their mom has TWO sets of twins. *shudder*). But this particular girl had a seriously dorky boy following her, and I know that boy has a crush on Kayla, so I assume it was her. Of course, later I saw him touch the other one on the back. I think he was trying to snap her bra, because seventh grade boys are still disgusting. So who knows which girl I was actually speaking with.

Anyway, Kayla/Kirsten said to me about the kids who had been holding up the lines, “Those kids said they were going to go really slow in front of us… on purpose!”

So I say, naturally, “So, you want me to kick their asses?”

Yes — I offered a tween my services if she wanted to see other tweens get beaten up. By me. And I am an adult.

Kayla/Kirsten looks at me and says, very seriously, “You’re the coolest parent I know.”

So, lessons learned today:

  1. I am the coolest parent ever.
  2. I need to watch my mouth.

I’ll try a little harder to focus on the second one.

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The wall art

Remember a few days ago, when I put up pictures of George decorating my walls  with his nicely sharpened pencil?

Remember, how it was so sweet and enduring. That I was holding on to it as tightly as possible, because my baby won’t be a baby for long, and it’s these little moments that make me stop and think and enjoy what I have, right here, right now. Something as sweet as a little artwork on the wall is proof that life is fleeting. We should enjoy our children while they are young, because it’s gone in a flash.

Remember that?

Well…

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For some reason, Jim did not share my enthusiasm.

Thank God for Magic Eraser.

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