Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If You Promise To Watch My Video, I Promise NOT To Sing Auld Lang Syne

As years go, 2008 was, like most years, good and bad. We try to focus on the good and move through the bad.

We started the year with Meredith as a crawling infant and we end it with a full fledged kid, running everywhere she goes. Jamie's severe nut allergy shows signs of waning and the doctor is cautiously optimistic that despite odds being against it, he may outgrow the allergy. Sabrina continues to be a voracious reader - the one trait she's inherited from me that doesn't drive me insane.

Like almost everyone else, we are worried about the economy and where it will take us. There was a Doris Day song my Grandma played for me when I was a little girl that said "Que Sera, Sera. Whatever Will Be Will Be." Good advice and only slightly less annoying a song than "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

And yet, words to live by.

2008 from Irishembi on Vimeo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If You Own A Pair Of Testicles, Move Along, There's Nothing To See Here

I know you guys are all enlightened and crap these days. You've learned that it is possible to buy a box of tampons without having your balls shrivel and fall off. And even if the cashier has to do a price check, you are confident that nobody will mistakenly assume they are for you.

But when we actually start talking menstrual mechanics and er, specifics, you men still go all squiggly eyed and green around the gills and back nonchalantly yet quickly out of earshot.

Fair warning. I am about to overshare.

Yesterday we went to my Mom's and during dinner I suddenly felt that icky trickling sensation that any girl over the age of 13 knows means to head for the nearest bathroom immediately. Holding a purse over your butt if you have the misfortune to be wearing white pants at the time.

I visited the bathroom to confirm what I already knew. Aunt Flo and Uncle Red were visiting for Christmas and they're messy houseguests.

I am a confirmed Divacup convert, but said Divacup was residing at home being ecologically sound and completely useless in practical applications since it was in fact nowhere near my vagina. Therefore I found myself sadly lacking supplies. Did I mention my Mom is menopausal?

I immediately began to consider alternate uses for Pampers, size 4. However it was 3:00 in the afternoon, we were going to be there for quite a few more hours and Meredith hadn't pooped yet that day.

I felt using the one and only spare diaper for my own purposes was tempting the wrath of the Poop Gods.

I considered appropriating one of her towels but didn't think my Mom would appreciate my decidedly un-Martha Stewart transformation of wash rag to, well, RAG rag.

I ransacked the closet hoping I had left behind a not-so-sentimental piece of my adolescence, but came up with nothing except that cursed waxing kit.

I did however discover a package of Depends.

Seems the sneezing and peeing thing won't be improving with the passage of time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

They Say That The Grinch's Small Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

This year:

  • I will not wait until 10:00 p.m. to wrap all the gifts (the train may have left the station on that one already).
  • I will not tell Dave to "hand me the damn scissors already!"
  • I will not tell the children "That's it! Santa's not coming!" (But it's sooooooo effective...okay, no, won't do it.)
  • I will not snap at everyone to hurry up and get dressed and/or stop playing around and/or leave the damn cat alone and/or go pee and/or get your butt in the car when it is time to visit the in-laws this evening.
  • I will not make anyone cry by "calling Santa" (really? that one's effective too.....alright, alright, joy of Christmas and all that).
  • I will not tell anyone in a slightly (extremely) irritated tone of voice to "sit still and be quiet!" while we read the Advent Book tonight.
  • I will not yell at anyone when they get out of bed for the fifth time because they are too excited to sleep just because I need to get those @#$%!*#ing presents wrapped.
  • I will not tell them to go back to bed at 7:00 a.m. because Santa hasn't been here yet. Instead I will drink coffee and smile. Okay scratch the smiling part. That comes AFTER the coffee.
  • I will enjoy my children's excitement, laughter, and re-live the magic of Christmas vicariously. It is short lived and should be treasured. With or without coffee.
  • Definitely with coffee
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

XOXOXO - Irishembi and family

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 1969

It was a cold December night. She was 24 years old and this was her third baby in four years. Her three year old son and four year old daughter were at home with her mother. She wondered if it was for real this time.

She had been to the hospital a week ago with leaking waters and labor pains, but this little one had decided it wasn't quite time yet. It would be the first of the many ways this child would be contrary.

Could she really do this? Did she have a choice? She remembered the first time she went into labor and she announced to everyone around that she had changed her mind and didn't want to have a baby anymore. They had all laughed about it later, but it seemed a pretty reasonable thought now.

Many people had urged her not to have this child.

Her first two labors had been almost more than she could withstand, each lasting well into two full days. No one would know whether her son and daughter were handicapped as a result of the difficult labors, or if it was something else. Something that would also happen to this child.

Her history of labor said it would be quite some time before the baby arrived and her husband wasn't doing anyone any good sitting around the waiting room smoking cigarettes. Might as well head off to work.

Instead the child, a baby girl, would arrive that afternoon before anyone, including the doctor, was ready. When the doctor came blustering in long after the little girl had been taken to the nursery and she had been cleaned up he asked cheerfully "Well, how did we do?"

She wondered where he got the "we" from.

Thirty-nine years later that little girl has her own three children, coincidentally a girl, followed by a boy, followed by another girl.

Happy labor day Mom.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And......There Goes The Last Of My Christmas Cheer

I know my last few posts have been rather "cranky" in tone.

I'm not done yet.

Yesterday I was running errands in the pouring rain. December rain is the most depressing, soul-flattening rain ever experienced. I had just gone to the specialty pet store to try out a new food for the panty-muncher who seems to think that pooing on the carpet is now welcome behavior, when I spied a Starbucks nearby.

I like coffee and have even described myself as something of a coffee snob. I am particular about my coffee, but simplistic in my expectations. It has to be good, it has to be strong, and it has to be hot. You'd be surprised how hard it is to obtain the last expectation ever since the Darwin Award runner-up won millions of dollars from a fast food chain because she spilled it on her crotch and was shocked to find that it was actually HOT, like it says RIGHT THERE ON THE CUP!

But Starbucks takes coffee snob to a whole different level.

I walked in and eyed the menu board to see what was on tap so to speak. It said right there to "ask what we're brewing today!"

So I approached the 19 year old "barista" behind the counter and asked exactly that. To be precise I said "What hot coffee do you have available?"

She said "Do you mean hot coffee?"

Is there an echo in here?

When I assured her that by asking for hot coffee I did indeed mean hot coffee, she stated that they had Pike Place coffee and Christmas Blend. I'm familiar with Pike Place coffee as this is the coffee they always have available and I usually purchase, but was intrigued by the Christmas Blend. So I used my own personal barometer question by which I judge most coffee, "Is it a strong coffee blend?" She answered in the affirmative, so I asked if it was stronger than the Pike Place coffee.

"Um, it's a bold blend with spicy notes."

Well I'm relieved to hear that it's assertive enough to ask me out on a date and will probably wear a sexy outfit.

"But is it stronger than the Pike Place coffee?"

"Um, it might be."

Very helpful. I'll take the Pike Place as I'm not feeling adventurous today.

"OK, give me a medium cup of the Pike Place."

You almost heard the hush blow through the place and a slight gasp from the trendy couple browsing the Internet on their matching laptops at the nearby uncomfortable but oh-so-urbane bistro style postage stamp size cafe table.

"Um, did you mean a Grande?"

I, assuming in my unenlightened mind that Grande meant "large" because that is actually what GRANDE translates to, said, "No I mean a medium." And considering Starbucks has it's origins in Seattle, Washington, which last time I checked was in the continental United States and didn't in fact have any connection to Italy, I couldn't understand why the sizes were listed partially in Italian anyway.

The trendy couple shook their heads in disgust at my uncouth, and the 19 year old gave me a pitying glance as she plucked a Grande cup from the pile of paper cups and attempted to educate me. At which time I discovered that Venti is large - even though it actually translates to "twenty", Grande is medium, never mind that it actually means large, and Tall, in a remarkable stroke of contradictory genius, is a small.

Give me my damn coffee and let me slink out into the rain with the other unwashed masses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Auditory Incontinence

This weekend I sat next to another Mom while our daughters played together at a birthday party. She's a stay-at-home-mom just like me. She is also one of Sabrina's Girl Scout Troop Leaders, coaches softball and basketball, active in the school's PTA, volunteers for several other school related functions, as well as our church. She made me tired just talking to her. Did I mention she has 4 kids? She's one of those Moms that you just want to hate, but she's so unbelievably sweet and kind on top of it all, you can't help but like her despite the fact that she'll volunteer for almost anything.

I, on the other hand, will never inspire that kind of hatred. Unless someone envies my lack of organizational skills and devil may care attitude toward housecleaning.

My one concession to volunteerism, is the school's emergency phone tree. I sign up for it every year. I've only been required to make phone calls twice now; once last year when the school district called a late 2 hour delay, when every other school district in the area was capable of detecting the 11 inches of snow at 5:00 a.m., and today when the school district decided to dismiss early for bad weather that apparently only they are aware of since my roads are dry as a bone and every other school district has completed a full school day.

I have been given an envelope containing a note card for each child in Sabrina's class. Each card is meant to have a list of 4 phone numbers and/or contacts for each child that can be reached in just such an emergency. It's not unusual that I have to call all 4 (or more) numbers in order to reach someone. Sometimes it is a someone that had no idea they were listed on this card, and have no idea why I am calling them. So while this particular act of volunteering occurs rarely, it takes up a significant amount of time and usually gives me a thundering headache when it does.

I had a simple message to deliver. "Hi, this is [-------------], I'm calling to let you know that [----- ------] Elementary is dismissing children at 2:55 p.m. today so [your child] will be home approximately a half-hour early."

This message is met with confusion (as it was by me, since there is no snow anywhere to be seen), annoyance, questions, and sometimes outright hostility. I guess they've never heard the saying "Don't shoot the messenger."

But the most annoying thing my call was met with today was......

I may be about to display the fact that I am incredibly un-hip (not that this was EVER a secret), and quite possibly this practice has been around for some time.

But who came up with the brilliant idea to provide a service where people can force you to listen to a song of their choice while you wait for your call to be connected to their phone?

I do not want to wait three minutes just to be told you are not there anyway and leave a message and by the way "If you're a private caller or blocked your number, then un-block it cuz I ain't answering." This was an honest to goodness classy greeting I was met with. But I especially don't want to wait for that greeting while listening to rap for 2 minutes.

This happened three more times. I have nothing personal against rap musicians, or the other artists I was subjected to against my will. It's just not what I personally enjoy listening to.

Don't get me wrong. I love music. I have very eclectic tastes in music and there is very little that I won't listen to. But the point is, I like what I want to listen to not necessarily what you want to listen to. This is equally annoying as music blaring at me from a playlist when I open someone's facebook page or a blog where their playlist is set to auto-play. I appreciate everyone's right to their own musical tastes, but at 1:00 a.m. when Marilyn Manson blares through my speakers unexpectedly, well it's enough to make me pee my pants.

Sneezing makes me pee my pants, but at least that's self inflicted.

It's A Family Affair

How is it that a 4 year old boy can fill the toilet bowl with toilet paper, use two handfuls of wipies, smear the toilet seat with poo in the process,

And STILL manages to leave skid-marks in his underwear?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Because I Like To Share Exciting News

Taffy doesn't really seem to know she's a dog. Playing with Frisbees, or "fetch" is completely beneath her. She thinks sleeping all day is an admirable career choice. She's not eating food off the floor unless maybe it's hot dog. And licking humans to show affection? You can almost see her shudder delicately at the thought. In fact I've always said she's really more cat than dog. Considering her questionable lineage it's not completely out of the question that somewhere one of her ancestors did do the Wild Thing with a cat.
But she has one very annoying, very expensive, very dog-like behavior.

She suffers from something called Pica. This is just a fancy way to say Taffy likes to eat clothing. Specifically my clothing. Even more specifically, my underwear.

She's very discriminating when it comes to this behavior. The granny panties I buy from Wal-Mart in a package of 6 for $5.00? No, no, no, she would far prefer to eat the expensive ones that come from Victoria's Secret or Macy's if given a choice. Don't get me wrong, she will eat the El-Cheapos, but it's sort of like if you or I were given a choice of eating at McDonald's or The Four Seasons. She will eat the Hanes, but she will actually go digging through a closed laundry hamper for $15 panties.

Of which I no longer own any because I got tired of feeding them to the dog. And we like to pay the bills and buy groceries at least some of the time around here.

Every vet I've asked tells me this behavior is in response to some sort of anxiety or boredom. While it is true she only does it when she's alone - I've never once caught her in the act - I can't understand where boredom or anxiety would come into the picture. When you are waited on hand and foot, given everything you could possibly want, and rarely left alone, where exactly does boredom and/or anxiety occur? She sneaks into the basement to do it when nobody's watching.

It might be cheaper to buy her some Prozac.

Unfortunately for her, since she is not in fact a goat, this behavior is actually dangerous to her health. Most of the time she simply passes the cloth, as evidenced by the cheerful multi-colored piles in the yard (Yay! Decorative poop. Martha Stewart eat your heart out.). But on Thursday, since I've been more conscientious about keeping underwear out of her reach, she accepted a substitute and instead ate a dish towel.

Since we can neither afford to feed her underwear, nor pay $2,000 to have cloth removed from her intestinal tract, we have been worriedly watching her try to make something come out of her rear since then, to no avail.

This morning Dave called me to tell me he found a pile of poo on the living room carpet. Did you ever imagine this could be good news?

Me either.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Without A Net

In polite company I would be referred to as accident prone.

But since I don't get that kind of company, MY friends and family will tell you I am a complete and utter klutz.

When I was a child I had the dubious honor of having gotten more stitches than anyone else I knew. I may still hold the record but I haven't compared notes lately. I've had stitches in every body part imaginable (and I do mean EVERY) from my head to my toes including my armpit.

When I was a little girl and I would fall down and hurt myself, before the tears would start or before I asked for a band-aid, my first words were"Do I need to go to the hospital for stitches?" And inevitably the answer was "Yes." And did you know my Dad gets really touchy when the emergency room takes more time than he deems prudent to examine his daughter's arm she just sliced open? Thirty-three years later I think they still might have a restraining order and his picture posted somewhere in Children's Hospital.

It's one thing to be gravitationally challenged as I like to call it, but the sheer stupidity of the ways I manage to hurt myself amazes even me. I fell down my cellar stairs and broke my foot because I was too vain to stop wearing a pair of wedge heels that had already landed me on my butt many times previously. I've fallen down a hill in my brother's front yard for no apparent reason, with absolutely no alcohol in my system. People that were present that day will tell you one moment I was standing before them, then right before their eyes I was suddenly rolling down a hill, ass over teakettle. Last year I dislocated my big toe by catching it in my opposite pants leg.

People, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

I've noticed that I seem to go on jags of klutziness. In other words when it rains it pours. Yesterday I broke two different toes in two separate incidents, twenty minutes apart. I seem to have found my God-given talent and the Lord knows I don't squander it.

I'm continuing my streak. This morning I managed to get toothpaste in my eye.

Don't try this at home folks. I'm what you call a "professional."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

I only do it when I'm alone.

I don't pursue it as often as I used to - who has the time? And it just doesn't feel as good as it used to. Really I'm just getting too old for it and I can't do it in front of the kids.

I was referring to watching "A Baby Story". What were you thinking?

When I became pregnant the first time, I watched the show obsessively. I probably could have told you the names of every Mom and baby that were on the show that year. I would discuss them in conversation as "The Smiths from New Jersey" or "The Jones family that live near Philly" and "did you see the one where the woman had a baby for her gay brother and his life partner?"

I wasn't kidding when I told you I was obsessed.

I was almost studying these programs, looking for a key or a clue to this mystery process I was going through. That tired old cliche about childbirth that "you can't explain it until you go through it" just didn't hold water for me. I was sure if I watched enough programs and read enough books and surfed enough websites I could get a handle on this. I wasn't afraid of labor pain at all. I was afraid of THE UNKNOWN.

So I made it my job to know everything I could about this process of birth.

If you've ever watched A Baby Story, and if you've ever actually had a baby, you know that the two are NOTHING alike. A Baby Story follows a pretty consistent formula (happy pregnant couple, a little grimacing from the Mom as labor begins, nice speedy epidural, a little "push push push c'mon you can do it!" and voila! pretty little approximately 8 pound baby boy/girl) and wraps it all up in a neat little 30 minute package.

The reality is, uh, different. If it were truly a reality show you'd see that the pregnant woman just spent 20 minutes screaming at her mate because he ate the last of the ice cream, burst into hysterical tears because the pharmacy closed before she could refill her heavy-duty extra-strength heartburn medication prescription, and just ate an entire box of Raisin Bran in an effort to poop just once this week. And please do NOT hand me that baby covered in gunk! Really it's okay. I'll wait 2 minutes while you clean him/her off.

That's strictly a hypothetical pregnant woman of course. Any resemblance to actual pregnant women is purely coincidental. I have no firsthand knowledge of any of that behavior and no I am not crossing my fingers behind my back.

It's hard to cross your fingers while you type.

But yesterday while the "baby" napped (she'll be two in February, how long do you think I can get away with calling her "the baby"?) and Jamie was content playing on the computer I decided to switch it on for old time's sake.

And when they did the close up on that newborn baby (cleaned and gunk-less of course) with his little befuddled face and his squinty eyes looking puzzled and wondering how the heck he got here, I remembered why I do this. Because I will never see a bewildered newborn look at me again, and it makes me a little sad.

Even if I am sitting on the couch yelling at the television.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sixty-Seven Years Of Perfecting His Art

Today is my Dad's 67th birthday. That's hard to wrap my head around, mostly because it means I will turn 39 shortly. I calculate my parents' ages based on my age (and vice versa on the occasion that my feeble mind forgets my own age). I know that my Dad was 28 when I was born, so add 28 years to my age and Voila! I can pretend I knew all along how old he was going to be!

So I took two-thirds of my children to visit and wish him a Happy Birthday today. Sabrina has caught on to the fact this school thing is a bum rap and as she suspected we really do have fun while she's gone. And because I think it is a parent's right and privilege to torment their children, I might tell her there was cake and ice cream and balloons.

Or better yet, Hannah Montana made a surprise appearance.

The fact that my Dad once told Sabrina he was good friends with Billy Ray Cyrus might just lend a little credibility to this.

So now you know where I learned the fine art of teasing my children.

Happy Birthday to the Master.