Thursday, March 26, 2009


My poor little man. Your birthday has thus far, been not very festive. You came down with an awful virus a few days ago and have been miserable and fevered ever since. But a shot of Ibuprofen with a Tylenol chaser seems to give you a few hours reprieve, and your brand new light saber, complete with lights, sounds and vibrations, went a long way to restoring your good cheer today.

Jamie you are a joy to your Father and me. There isn't a person alive that is not utterly charmed by your personality. The fact that you're also adorably cute doesn't hurt either.

I would never ever say that I didn't want to have a boy, but I was uncertain how to raise one. Since I am, obviously, not a boy I wasn't sure I could relate to a boy-child. But I am delighted to say that from the moment you were born and I inspected all ten of your fingers and ten of your toes, and held your hand, tiny beyond all belief, in the NICU, I have been completely besotted with you.

Happy Birthday Boogie-Boy! Try not to get big too fast okay?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good Luck With That Budget Thing

Sorry President Obama I can neither help nor criticize. I can't even balance my own budget. I can however relate to that whole deficit thing. We've been working with a deficit around here for some time now.

Seems I was a bit hasty to criticize last night. I got my weekly fill of Simon Baker deliciousness, my head did not implode, and no rocks were thrown at the television. You did however push it back an entire hour causing me to be very tired and cranky this morning.

Considering Bush made me feel that way 24/7, I'll let it pass just this once.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm A Little Irrational When It Comes To Simon Baker

President Obama needs to address the American People during these "troubled times." I get that.

By the way is anyone else tired of that euphemism? Let's call a spade a spade people - it's called "Your investments have gone down the pooper and don't expect to get that nest egg back any time soon." That's the advantage to being poor like me. No money = nothing to lose.

But can't he pick a night like Friday when the television line up sucks and the worst thing we'll miss is Wife Swap? Which would actually be doing the American People a huge public service if you ask me.

If The Mentalist gets preempted one more time I'm rescinding my vote.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Want A New Drug

My husband is a recovering addict/alcoholic. This post is not about that - that's his story to tell. This post is about my addictions and how they relate.

I often joke about my food addiction, but truly it's no joke. The only thing in my life that comes close to being as addictive a substance to me is my books. And let's face it, an over-indulgence in books just makes you, well.....smarter. Even if it lightens your pocketbook, you can overcome that by buying used books or joining a book trade forum.

But food. Food has been my drug most of my life. Even before conscious memory. Baby crying? Give her a cookie. Problem solved.

I've tried to explain my food addiction to my husband in terms he can relate to based upon his experiences with addiction. But in many ways I believe my addiction is far more difficult to overcome. Not to belittle his achievements, or anyone else who has battled drugs or alcohol, but the first, simplest and most basic rule, and the first thing they tell you in Alcoholics Anonymous or Drug Rehab is "Just don't drink/do drugs."

Easy? No of course not. Simple? Yes.

But "Just don't eat," is not only impractical, it's a bit incompatible with life. If we want to continue enjoying this Earth, humans must consume sustenance. Daily. Three times or more per day.

If you told a crack addict that they had to consume crack at 8:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. daily, and they were only permitted one hit of the substance, don't expect to see them or their money (or yours for that matter) ever again. It's impossible.

Is food equal to crack cocaine? Well it sure as hell doesn't make me as skinny as crack would, but it's every bit as alluring and dangerous to me. The detrimental effects of it may take a bit longer to kill me, but kill me they will. Everyone knows being overweight contributes to heart disease, circulatory problems, strokes, diabetes, the list goes on and on.

And besides the health issues, being overweight is one of the last remaining socially accepted prejudices. If someone's fat it's okay to call them on it. Make them the butt of jokes. Speculate on how much weight they've gained. And don't think I don't already know that half the people on Facebook are "friending" people just to see how fat they got since high school.

So it's literally been the fight of, and for, my life.

Today I have lost 10% percent of my body weight. This is a fantastic achievement for me, yet I still have a way to go. But my eyes were opened today to a similarity between myself and addicts/alcoholics everywhere. And I am amazed it has taken me this long to realize it.

I have to battle this every day, indeed every minute, of my life. I have to maintain my "sobriety." By losing weight and achieving a "goal", I have not been "cured." I will never, EVER be cured. And due to the nature of my drug, and the inability to avoid it entirely, I must accept that there will be relapses.

I have taken the first step. I admitted I am powerless over food and that my life had become unmanageable. I came to believe that a Higher Power (and the Almighty Weight Watchers) can restore me to sanity.

Someday I will rock a pair of expensive jeans. And I will run circles around my Grandchildren.

Even if it is in a wheelchair.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Every Day Is St. Patrick's Day In My World

Today is the one day of the year everyone wants to be Irish regardless of their ancestry. And I'm okay with that. When you're lucky enough to be Irish 365 days of the year, it's easy to be magnanimous. A little advice from an authentic Irish lass when ye're celebratin' the wearin' o' the green today:

Skip the green beer and go straight for the Guinness. It's tastier and more authentic than that thin watery food colored Iron City.

Better yet, a wee drop of Jameson's is good for the constitution.

And yes, my son was named for an alcoholic beverage, wanna make something of it? We Irish are known to be quick tempered. They don't call them the "Fighting Irish" for no reason.

Or best of all, join me for a Bailey's. Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? Do I really care?

To all my friends on this St. Patrick's Day I leave you with this traditional Irish Blessing:

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.

You've got to love a race that can pen a prayer involving bodily harm.

Éirinn go brách or póg mo thóin!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

One of my favorite activities is checking to see who has visited me here on my blog. I don't always know exactly who. Feedjit gives me a location and I can sometimes guess who it was. For example Sheffield England is almost always my friend Melissa. Australia used to always be Boo at Discover Boo, but recently I've gotten quite a few visits from Australia, so I am lucky to have a variety of Aussie visitors.

I've also added an application that shows me the flags of the countries of my visitors. And just in case that isn't enough ways of stroking my own ego, I also have a hit counter that shows the total number of visits I've received.

Because this blogging thing really is at least a little bit about ego isn't it? After all what fun would it be to write it and put it out there if I didn't actually hope that someone would read it. So from the bottom of my heart I thank all of you that stop by here and read my musings, rantings, simple stories, and snippets of my life. From my followers that check in every day, to the casual reader, to the hapless soul that stumbles upon my corner of insanity on the World Wide Web, I offer my appreciation for letting me have an audience.

But I also get a great deal of enjoyment finding out HOW people find me when they find me completely by accident. And by this of course, I mean on the occasion I see that someone has found me by searching Google for a specific term or phrase. So for your enjoyment, I offer a few of the recent phrases that have landed some poor unfortunates on my (likely unhelpful) blog.

Letter to mother - Without a doubt, this is the number one way I get hits from people all over the world. This term has landed people from Latvia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, North Korea, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Romania. Latvia alone arrived here 5 times using that search phrase. I am uncertain why Latvians need so much help writing a letter to their mother, but I wish them well. Tell Mom I said "Hi."

How do I convince my wife to swallow? - Dude, I'm no sex therapist, but I can tell you it's one of those things sort of like raw oysters, caviar, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. You either like it or you don't and you've just GOTTA be in the mood for it. And if you convince her to do it anyway, it's not going to be fun for anyone. Gagging and vomiting during sex just isn't a turn-on for ANYONE. I can tell you being reciprocal about the arrangement can go a long way toward encouraging her to try the "oysters" so to speak.

Swallow because my husband happy - We need to get these two together.

Constipated - I've been told on more than one occasion that I am completely full of shit. But I'm pretty sure that still won't help you with your problem. Eat more fiber and drink lots of water. A cup of coffee works nicely too. It hasn't improved my literary bullshit quotient, but it does keep me regular.

Peas and Carrots Story - I don't have one. I think you're meant to be looking here.

6 burgh sweater - The Steelers are the best Football Team in the world. And Pittsburgh is the best hometown I could ever hope to have the God given good fortune to be born into. I hope you found your sweater. Wear it proudly.

What does it mean if my testicles turn green? - It means you shouldn't be sitting in front of the computer reading blogs. And you might want to re-think your choice of sexual partner as well. And I hope you weren't planning on using those testicles anytime soon.

Or maybe you're just getting into the St. Patrick's Day spirit in new and interesting ways. In which case, I'm going to tell you a secret. I've never known a girl to get excited by genitals in any shade of emerald. Frat letters shaved into back hair is another turn-off, but that's another story for another day.

Either way, luck o' the Irish to you my friend. You'll need it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Quiet Scars

March 7, 2006 was the due date of my third child. I don't speak of her much (I decided it was a she, nobody will ever really know). Some of my family members never even knew she existed.

When I was 9 weeks pregnant I had a scan to check that everything was alright. I had been bleeding lightly, not even enough to be alarming, but as a diligent follower of "What to Expect When You're Expecting," I was a good girl and notified the doctor. I just figured it would be exciting to get an extra early ultrasound. I dropped Jamie and Sabrina at my Mother's and went by myself, with nobody there to support me. Because it never even entered my mind that I would need support.

As she waved the magic wand over my belly she couldn't locate anything visibly. She assured me this wasn't unusual and proceeded to the INTERNAL magic wand. She asked if I wanted to do the inserting or if I preferred she do it. I laughed and made an inappropriate joke like I usually do when I'm extremely embarrassed and uncomfortable and said "Neither?" She ignored me and went about her business.

She moved and prodded and poked and twirled. I had met with this tech before and she's not a Chatty Cathy under the best of circumstances. But after several moments of silence and noticing she still hadn't moved the screen so I could see it, a creeping unease began to wash over me.

And then the words.

"I'm sorry. I should be seeing a heartbeat by now, and I'm not."

It was as if someone had shot my entire body, brain, and heart full of Novocaine. I wasn't sad, I didn't cry. She handed me a handful of Kleenex and I sat and wadded it in my fist, twisting it and passing it from hand to hand, uncertain exactly why she had given it to me. I was confused as she told me I could get dressed and speak to the doctor. I think I knew somewhere inside what her words meant, but all I could think was, "Why isn't she still looking if she can't find the heartbeat?"

When the young doctor who had delivered my son walked in, the one who looked closer to 12 years old than someone who should be catching babies, he also said, "I'm sorry."

Through the buzzing noise in my ears I caught phrases such as "genetic defect," "ceased to develop," and "D & C."

I said I wanted to think about how to proceed and managed to walk out of the office and waiting room looking completely normal. As if I was actually capable of thinking rationally about my options when my brain was so distracted by that buzzing sound. Were there bees in here?

Inside I was just..........nothing. To say I felt numb would be to say I was aware of the absence of feeling. And I wasn't. I was shut down and on auto pilot. The lights were on but nobody was home. The body performed it's locomotive duties without any apparent direction from the brain.

I refused to talk about it. I collected my kids and went home. I have no recollection of driving there.

I decided later that afternoon I wanted the D & C so I could be done with it. So I wouldn't have to think about it. So I wouldn't have to feel anything. I was almost frantic with the need to have it scheduled right away. I pleaded with the nurse to get it scheduled for the next day, and being the efficient soul that she was, she made it happen.

The procedure itself was painless. Some minor cramping afterward, nothing a little ibuprofen wouldn't handle. I got home and thought "How nice, people sent me flowers," not entirely sure I deserved them. I called those kind people and thanked them but again thwarted all efforts to talk about it.

The next day the psychic glue and mania that were keeping me tightly wound let loose their bonds, and like a Waterford vase dropped on a ceramic tile floor, I shattered into a million tiny cold bright pieces.

I had nowhere to pour my grief. She was never born so I was not supposed to miss her or mourn her or acknowledge her existence. I had no casket to weep over or headstone to visit. My child was carried away in a metal pan to be examined in a pathology lab like a cancer and disposed of as medical waste. It was as if a baby never existed.

I began a rabid pursuit of copies of the sonogram pictures. You know the happy little strip of thermal paper you're given as a badge of completion of a successful sonogram? I wasn't so successful but I wanted my badge anyway dammit. The same competent nurse said she would do what she could but wouldn't promise anything. Everyone told me there would be another baby, but I didn't want another baby, I wanted THAT one.

I needed proof. Something tangible to mourn. A picture to prove she was real.

Six weeks later I would be oddly comforted by the lab report that declared the findings "products of conception" and "necrotized tissue". Somewhere in the recesses of my mind lived a niggling thought, "What if they were wrong and that baby could have lived?" It was a relief to know definitively she had died quietly some time earlier with no knowledge or pain.

I remembered the due date that first year, and even by then the grief had muted, less a blistering wound and already fading into the scar it would become. The next two years I'm not sure I even noted that day's passing. Of course I did go on to have another baby. A beautiful baby girl. And while one baby can never replace another, new babies have a way of distracting us from our sorrow.

But she was real, and I loved her. She lived and she died. The scar remains.

I remember.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Would Like To Thank The Academy....

So maybe it's not really an Academy Award. Unlike Kate Winslet, I'm pretty sure I'll only be making my acceptance speech in the bathroom with a shampoo bottle for the rest of my life. It's hard to be discovered when you're almost 40 and more Frumpy than Fabulous.

But I am pleased and honored to receive the Kreativ [sic] Blogger Award from Mary at The Adventures of Mommy Maestro. Thank you Mary!

The rules of the award state that I must list seven things I love, and then to pass the award on to seven bloggers I love to read.

In no particular order:
Seven Things Irishembi Loves (besides husband, children and assorted pets):

1) Grocery shopping by myself - No joke. I enjoy grocery shopping solo. I'm not sure if that's because that is the rare place that I do sometimes get to be by myself, or if I really just enjoy grocery shopping. Maybe a little of each. When the kids are with me, it's a trip guaranteed to produce a nervous breakdown, tears and snot, and at least one temper tantrum. And then sometimes the kids have a rough time too. But when by myself, I stroll through those aisles. I read packages and labels. I check out new products. Look over all the items in the $1 bins just in case I might need a miniature size can of foot powder some day.

2) The smell of my kids' hair, clean or dirty - I'm sure that will change once they enter puberty and dirty hair smells less like the syrup they got in it at breakfast time, and more like sweaty teenager.

3) Music - I love music of all eras and genres. I have completely random taste. There are certain artists or genres I might be more familiar with or prefer, but for me it's all about the way a particular song makes me feel. Could be the melody, a certain turn of phrase in the lyrics, or even just that a particular song reminds me of a certain time in my life. A song can bring back a memory to me in such a way that I can feel that memory with all of my senses. I love music from Classical, to the cheesiest of Pop, to Disco, to Rockabilly, Jazz and Heavy Metal. There is a finely tuned string somewhere inside my soul and certain songs make it resonate. Music, especially played in a public forum such as a concert hall or marching band, can bring tears to my eyes. Not to be confused with making me cry, it just plucks that inner string and the emotion and sheer feeling overflows from my eyes. I also love to sing. I'm told I should never do this, but my singing always sounds far better inside my head than out of it.

4) Kennywood - I've promised a full blog entry about this local Pittsburgh Amusement Park in my post about Pittsburgh. But the short version is that I love the sounds, the smells, the foods (three words: POTATO PATCH FRIES). I love the build-up of anticipation to the annual Kennywood trip. It still feels almost the same as it did 30 years ago when I couldn't wait to go.

5) Really Good Coffee - Nuff said.

6) My friends - I am blessed to have wonderful friends that would do anything for me at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately those hats are mostly in different time zones to the tune of several thousand miles away. Even my BFF that I grew up with right here in Pittsburgh had the nerve to move to England. Hmmm, maybe I should shower more often......

7) Books - I have a love affair and passion for books. It's cerebral, it's sensual. The smell of a new book, the cracking feeling when you open it for the first time, the feeling of the paper pages; both smooth and slightly scratchy at the same time. The moment the book opens up I can escape to a world that is "other." I have looked at a Kindle on Amazon, and while I like it in concept, I am reluctant to give up my real books. I cannot understand people that don't enjoy reading. Cannot relate at all. It is a love affair that has not wavered since I learned to read approximately 35 years ago.

Seven Blogs I am passing this award on to (again in no particular order, and I love ALL my blogs on my bloglist) :

1) Welcome to the Snug
2) The Chronicles of Blackheart Lola (since giving her an award seems to be the only way I can induce her to write)
3) Been There - Done That - By Jo (because I haven't heard all her stories yet and I never get tired of them)
4) Say it Ain't So (because I'm waiting for her to tell ANY story ;-) )
5) The Other Side of the Fence
6) Confessions of a Mommy Blogger
7) Life's a Journey...Not a Destination

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's Tough To Apply Mascara With A Toddler Hanging On Your Leg

It has crept up on me over the years. I didn't even see it coming. I have turned into a bona fide FRUMP. Don't get me wrong, I have never been a really high maintenance gal. I did grow up in the 80's so there was a time period where doing my hair took a minimum of two hours and carrying a lighter to assist in makeup application was something that never raised eyebrows. Hey did you REALLY think we achieved that raccoon look without actually melting a crayon on our eyes?
Who would think anyone would actually spend two hours to achieve triangular shaped hair with white stripes down the sides? For those of you unfamiliar with the 80's, people with far more money (but obviously no more fashion sense) were doing the same.
(You're welcome Dani, enjoy!)

But I've never been one of THOSE girls. You know the ones. They would sooner die than leave the house even to run to the mail box without applying full facial warpaint. And in their book, sweatpants are for pajamas, NEVER daytime wear.

I love What Not to Wear as much as the next girl, but with my apologies to you Stacy and Clinton, I have to state it really is acceptable to go to the grocery store in sweats and flip-flops. Try it some time. It's liberating. And those lovely little outfits you put together for Moms? Well, let's just say that Play-Doh and cashmere cardigans just don't mix.

But when you realize your entire wardrobe consists of sweats, or at least elastic waists pants, T-shirts and sweatshirts, you know you're just one flip-flop away from an ambush by Stacy and Clinton. In fact, you might say I'm the poster child for shows like What Not to Wear.

Don't get me wrong. I'll never be a MILF. I'm too old and after bearing three children, the boobs are less Pamela Anderson and more National Geographic. I don't even want to be a Yummy Mummy. You know who I'm talking about. That Mom that drops her son off at pre-school with hair done, manicure in place, creased jeans and a crisp white oxford shirt. Instead of the rest of us shlubs that look like we just rolled out of bed and put on our shoes.

I'll tell you a secret. We did just roll out of bed and put our shoes on.

So. I realized the other day that, while not striving to be a glamour-puss, I would like to look like an actual female instead of the shapeless, sexless, colorless, lump of gray I have begun to feel like.

Which is when I realized the makeup in my makeup case is at best two years old (I think I might have worn makeup to Meredith's Baptism) and at worst 15 years old! Do they even have Merle Norman Studios anymore?

Besides being out of date and style, the stuff is downright unsanitary.

So along with my new (7,565,433rd attempt at a) diet, I have embarked on a journey to finding my inner girly-girl.

If you find her could you give her my phone number? I have no idea what she looks like.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You Can't Polish A Turd (Especially When There's Corn In It)

SOMEONE has kindly reminded me I have been delinquent in my blogging duties (thank you Laura, how can I resist when you flatter me so?) so I have settled in here with a cup of coffee determined to write something.

DISCLAIMER: I cannot be held responsible for content. All potty humor forthcoming is a product of blogging under "duress", the fact that I recently read two hilarious pieces involving colon cleansing and chili respectively, and the fact that having three children just naturally means your life involves copious amount of poo.

We are not worrying too much right now about attempting potty training yet. And by "we" of course I mean me. There is no "we" when it comes to potty training believe you me. The other parental unit in this house abdicated all potty duties long ago. He seems to think our children just miraculously sit down on the toilet one day and produce waste products in a timely and tidy manner much the same way all laundry seems to appear in his drawers cleaned and folded as if the Laundry Fairy pays him a nightly visit. She got directions to our house from the Tooth Fairy. But I digress as I am wont to do.

So the only assistance I can count on in potty training is pretty much from the dog. But you really don't want to know what she does to help. No really. Even *I* have limits on what I will print here.

So anyway, I take the lazy approach to potty training. I figure it's going to happen somewhere around three years of age with or without my help. I know this from experience. Sabrina being my first child I thought it was time to potty train somewhere around 18 months of age. She disagreed. To the point where she developed severe constipation involving years of laxative therapy from trying to hold in her poop so she didn't have to use that potty. And after being exasperated for a year and a half, tearing my hair out and being certain the girl would have to pack diapers in her lunchbox, one day shortly after she turned three she solemnly announced to my mother "I have to use the potty all the time now."

And she did. From that day forward.

So I finally figured out the important lesson of "You can lead a child to the toilet but you cannot make them poop." The dog on the other hand will be happy to be led to the toilet and drink anything available, never mind mellow yellow or brown not yet flushed down.

Hmmmm, it seems I really don't have limits on what I will talk about here.

Moving right along.

Jamie was much easier to potty train once I realized it was really just a matter of providing him with tools (a convenient potty) and incentive (kids don't like when you leave their diaper off and the pee runs down their legs), and they learn pretty quickly to use the potty. Granted Jamie had more of a fire hose effect, but honestly, I let him run around bare-ass for a few days and that was really all it took. Yes it involved cleaning up some pee, but after three kids, a dog and a cat, I'm kind of used to that by now no?

But I can honestly say, none of my kids ever pooped without a diaper on or a potty under their butts.

So the other day, Meredith removed her diaper. She likes to do this. When you're two, something as simple as this is a major achievement in your life. She was going to take a nap soon so I felt no need to rush over and put a new one on for the 10-15 minutes before she took her nap. Besides I was very busy with important work, AKA surfing the Internet.

So she carried on playing with Play-Doh at the dining room table sans pants. And I will confess I forgot she wasn't wearing a diaper (I miss my brain cells sometimes), so when she sounded a little more alarmed than normal when she said "Mama poop!" it surprised me a little.

Then the hamster stirred from his Internet induced coma, got on his wheel with a creaky groan, and the synapses began to fire again.

Despite her complete willingness, I thwarted all of the dog's efforts to help clean up.

The dog won't eat the damn Cheerios the kids drop on the floor like snowflakes, but she's more than willing to entertain the end result.