Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Lately I've felt like I'm looking in a mirror when I look at Zeke.  Yes, he has Jason's coloring, but I've seen enough pictures of myself as a kid to know that the resemblance between us is uncanny.  Well, not uncanny, because I did create him, after all, so there's a ready explanation, but you know what I mean.

Other people see it too.  I saw my aunt at the passover seder, and she hadn't seen Zeke in a while, I guess.  She looked at him and exclaimed, "Oh, my GOD!  He's a little you!  He looks just like you!"

And he's starting to act like me, too.  Not in the sense that he mimics my actions as an adult, but he's doing the same things I did as a kid.

My mother tells this story about me when I was about 2 years old or so.

"Mommy, I need an ice cream," I told her.

"Honey, you don't 'need' an ice cream.  You want an ice cream, but you don't need it," she responded.

"No, Mommy.  I need an ice cream.  I need it."

Oy vey, I'm sure she thought.

Well, payback's a bitch.  The other night, I was getting Zeke ready for bed.

"C'mon, honey, let's go downstairs.  Time to get in bed.  We can read some books."

"No, Mama, I have to watch Elmo."

"Sweetie, you don't have to watch Elmo.  I know you want to watch Elmo, but it's late.  Time for bed.  You can watch Elmo in the morning."

"But Mama, I have to.  I have to watch Elmo now."

He didn't get to watch Elmo just then.  He got in bed and we read books and he went to sleep.

But, oy vey.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Renewal. And brisket.

Tonight is the first night of Passover.  The holiday celebrates the liberation of the Jews from bondage (don't get excited, Michael Steele, the other kind), and is a time to focus on freedom and renewal and springtime and all that good stuff.

We have much to celebrate and pray for.

There is Emma's return to health -- she had a great weekend, and this morning the doctors took out the bolt that attached the ICP monitor to her head.  The occupational therapist examined her and said her muscle tone remains good.  She has started to wiggle and move a little bit.  Josh and Lori have her iPod in the room and are playing music for her.  We are very encouraged that she will make a solid recovery.

There is the renewal of our life as a family unit.  It's been so great to have Jason home.  We have more time with each other, more time to ourselves when we need it, more time to focus on the children as individuals.  Saturday, for the first time in I don't remember how long, Zeke and I went, just the two of us, to the science museum.  We had so much fun, spending three hours running around looking at the wildlife exhibits, playing with magnets, playing with puppets, pretending to walk like different kinds of animals, coloring, dancing in the children's center.  Then that night, after a lovely time having dinner with Rich and Kathleen and their girls, we went home, put the kids to bed, and snuggled on the couch to watch a movie.

And other, little things, that make today feel like a fresh start, a liberation from some of the stressors of the past months and years.  Spring is here, and it's a beautiful day in Denver.  I painted my toenails and am wearing sassy sandals.  My cousin, Aaron, is in town, so Zeke is in heaven.  And on Friday night, I think for the first time since Zeke was born, I spoke on the phone with my friend Karen.

I always think of Passover when I think of Karen, because she and I became friends about 13 years ago right before Passover.  We played on the same club soccer team, and I liked her immediately.  She was one of those people who, from the moment I started talking to her, I just got a great feeling and I knew we were going to be friends.

A few weeks after we met, I was getting ready to host my first passover seder, and, recognizing her last name as one that few (if any) non-Jews have, invited her to come along.  And that was that.  Since then, we have had Passover together, been in each others' weddings, and been great, great buddies.

Since we left for Hawaii, I have only seen her once, when I went back to Atlanta when I was pregnant with Zeke.  We've talked on the phone a smattering of times, but really only kept in touch via email and Facebook.  Talking to her on Friday night was wonderful.  So another renewal I'm celebrating this Passover season is the renewal of my friendship with Karen.

We are going to my cousin's house for first night seder.  I volunteered to bring the brisket, because I make the best brisket ever (Karen makes the best matzo ball soup ever).  I modified the recipe after reading some Jewish cookbooks.  It's largely based upon Joan Nathan's recipe in her Jewish Cooking in America book, but I've modified the ingredients and added my own touches over the years.  For your Passover pleasure, or if you just like really delicious braised meat, enjoy:

5 lbs brisket
2-3 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
3 onions, chopped
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 springs fresh rosemary
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 stalks chopped celery (with leaves)
1 large (20 oz) can peeled tomatoes, with juice
3-4 cups red wine
2 cups Coca-Cola (classic, none of that diet shit)
1 packet onion soup mix
6-8 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup chopped parsley

For best results, this dish should be prepared the day before and then completed just before serving.  

Preheat oven to 325F.  Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper and rub with the garlic clove.  Heat oil and sear the meat.

In a large roasting pan with a cover, place the onions on the bottom of the pan and then place the meat, fat side up, on the onions.  Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, celery, wine, tomatoes, coca-cola and onion soup mix.  Cover and bake in 325F oven for 3 hours, basting often.

Remove cover and add carrots and parsley, cook another hour.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool overnight in the fridge.

Before serving the next day, skim the fat from the gravy and cut the fat off the meat.  Cut the meat across the grain into long slices and place back in the gravy.  Cook, uncovered, at 325F for 45 minutes.  Serve on large platter with gravy.  Gravy can be strained or not, but if you choose not to strain (the vegetables are delicious), remember to remove the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.  They're no fun to bite into.

Happy Passover, everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Mail plow"

I'm heavy on the "look at how cute my kids are" posts this week, because the other stuff occupying my mind isn't so happy.  Emma remains under sedation, as the doctors have determined that she isn't ready to be awakened yet.  They want to monitor her brain pressure and give her more time to rest.  Which I understand, but the waiting is agonizing.  This level of sustained anxiety is exhausting and draining, and I'm sure that whatever I'm feeling -- which sucks -- you can multiply that by a million and you won't be close to what my brother and sister-in-law are going through.  Once again, I want to thank everyone who has contacted me to offer their love and support, but in particular, those who have left messages for Josh and Lori on Emma's CarePage.  It really helps.  You've all been tremendous, and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

In other news, my children continue to be the light of my life, particularly Zeke's sweetness towards his sister.  He is so nice to her, it just makes my heart feel like it's going to burst out of my chest.  For your Friday viewing pleasure, here's a little clip of him reading to her from his beloved truck book.  He climbed into her little floor gym to lie down next to her and show her the pictures.  I just about plotzed from the cuteness.

You can hear me croaking (I've got severe laryngitis) in the background.  Zeke is pointing to a page that has a mail truck and a snow plow on it, and gets confused and combines the two, calling the snow plow a "mail plow."  Josie finally decides that the book is more interesting to chew on than to read.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Today is Josie's 6 month birthday.  She has been nothing but a joy from the moment she was born.  Sweet, smiley, giggly, mellow, happy, snuggly.  In keeping with the tradition I established with Zeke, I made an video, set to one of my brother's songs.  Happy half-birthday, Josiebug!

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Naked baby time

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a two-year old in possession of a cute tush must be in want of excessive time to run around with said tush unencumbered by clothing.*

It started a few weeks ago, when I began noticing that Zeke was displaying an aversion to getting dressed in the morning. All of a sudden, he was giving me a hard time about what he was going to wear, requiring much cajoling and trickery on my part to get him to cooperate.

"No shirt, honey? OK, why don't we put on pants first. Look, let's watch Diego! Diego wears pants. Don't you want to be like Diego? Oh, and look, your shirt has a fire truck on it. What noise does a fire truck make? Right! You're a fireman!"


Then he started wanting to take a bath 40 times a day. I think partly because it's fun to splash around, but mostly because he gets to be naked. Then he didn't want to put clothes on after getting out of the tub. Or I'll change his diaper, but as soon as I get him de-diapered and cleaned up, he scampers off, bare-assed, to the playroom.

Every kid I know has gone through this. When Emma was 2, we went on a family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She spent the entire vacation, save for times we were either at the store or a restaurant, buck naked. This coincided with her obsession with the movie The Jungle Book. So every afternoon, she would ask one of the grownups to put in her Jungle Book video, and she would stand there, this little tan, blonde, gorgeous teeny girl, and watch the movie and then start dancing around naked when the Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You songs came on. And those songs are seriously catchy and danceable -- I would usually join her in bopping around the living room (I wasn't naked, though), and then she would say, "Again, Again!" It was the cutest thing ever.

Tonight when Zeke got out of the tub, he put on his shoes all by himself -- which is a big deal -- but nothing else. First he sat with me on the couch and wanted to look at family pictures on the computer, but then he took off to push one of his big trucks around.

I find no look funnier than the "naked with shoes" look. I don't care who you are. You could be the hottest, most gorgeous person on the face of the earth, but put on a pair of sneakers and nothing else, and you're going to look ridiculous. Which is good, because I needed a little levity after days and days of being worried and nervous.

*My apologies to Jane Austen. Can you tell Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books?

Monday, March 22, 2010

News, or lack thereof (mostly)

I always had this perception of myself as a strong person.  And I guess about some things, I am.  I can deal with certain, probably many, types of adversity.  But the thing I am terrible at, the thing that reduces me to a ball of nerves and exhaustion and depression and despondency, is waiting without knowing.

I doubt this makes me unique or special.  That's probably the worst thing for anyone.  But in any event, I feel like I should be stronger than I am right now.

Because right now, I am a mess.

The situation with Emma is that she is essentially in a holding pattern.  She hasn't required surgery, which is good, but her intracranial pressure has been spiking off and on, and so all we can do is wait until she stabilizes a little bit more so that the doctors can do an MRI and try to get a sense of the extent of any brain damage she has suffered.  We are being told that she will need to stay in the hospital for 3 weeks to a month, and then require probably at least a year of therapy.  But right now, we just don't know how bad the damage is or how extensive the impact will be in the long term.  So we wait, without really knowing how long we will have to wait for some information, some understanding of what the prognosis is.

Every once in a while, the mundane details of life take me away from it, mentally, so I'll be focusing getting Zeke dressed or finding an emery board because I've got a snag in my nail or doing the dishes.

Then it will all rush back.  There are pictures posted on the CarePage of Emma in the hospital bed, with the ICP monitor attached to her head, and they haunt me.  I think about it and I start to cry.  I look at pictures of Emma surfing or coming back from lacrosse practice, all sweaty and healthy and beautiful, or grinning while piling on for a family picture at Thanksgiving, and my throat catches and my chest tightens and I'm overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and desperation.

Thanksgiving 2009.  L to R:  Jason, Emma, Mom, Hazel, Josie, me, Josh and Lydia.  Not the entire crazy mishpachah, but most of it.

This is a hard time.

On the home front, it's so great to have Jason back in town.  His new project is 30 minutes from the house, and he gets off work early enough to pick up the kids from school.  We can share dinner duties and have time to exercise and just be a normal family again.  Plus we have reclaimed our bed.

I'm going to go to New Hampshire over Easter weekend to see Emma and help out any way I can.  In the meantime, your emails, comments, and messages on Emma's website have been tremendous.  I am so thankful for the support of my wonderful friends.  With all the prayer lists and candles and everything else that our friends and neighbors are doing, I think we've got just about every religious denomination covered.  So that's good.  We'll take it all.

Meanwhile, we wait.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


First off, I want to say how incredibly grateful and touched I have been by the outpouring of love and support for me, for my family, and most of all, for my niece, Emma.  She's on prayer lists, the subject of positive thoughts and hopes, had candles lit for her, healing prayers at synagogues, you name it.  It means more to me than I can say.

My brother has set up a CarePage for her through Mass. General, so click here if you want to look at photos, leave a message, or get a status update (I'm also putting a button on the blog sidebar to the right).  As I write this, she is in stable condition.  The big thing the doctors are monitoring is the pressure in (on?) her brain.  The next few days are critical, and she has been sedated so that she and her brain can stay calm and have the best possible chance of healing appropriately.

But, the truth is, we have no way of knowing what will happen or whether she has sustained any brain damage and to what extent.  I'm trying to stay positive, but I'm terrified and I spend much of my day choking back tears.

The other big news is that Jason finally finally was transferred to a job back in Denver, meaning he will be living at home full time and I will no longer have to function as a single parent.  We're so happy to all be under the same roof again, and it will be so much easier for everyone.  For Jason, no more 100 mile drives through snowy or icy mountain passes, no more coming home during the week only to hang out for an hour and a half, go to bed, and then get up at 3:30 in the morning to go back to work.  He can finally get to know Josie, who up to this point, he has seen only on weekends.  For me, no more days of never having a free minute, of always being on duty.  For Zeke and Josie, time with their daddy.

It also means that it's time for Jason and me to retake control of our marital bed.  In the months after Josie was born, Zeke started crawling into bed with us more and more.  He's sweet and snuggly and it was easier to move over than to fight it, so we didn't fuss about it.  And when Jason was out of town, it was nice to cuddle up with him.  And then eventually, we dropped the pretense of putting him to sleep in his own bed, so now when it's bedtime, he just crawls into our bed and we read stories and then go to sleep.

We could have picked the battle and made him go back to his bed, but decided to wait until Jason was back in town.  And now he is.

We've known the day was coming soon, so I've been trying to prepare Zeke for it, talking about how he's a big boy now and big boys sleep in their own rooms.  And we already know that I'm not above bribery, so we talked about how we would pick out special sheets and blankets and set up his room with tap-lights on the walls so he could sit in bed and look at books if he wanted to.

My mother is always cool-headed in times of stress, and emphasizes dealing with what you can control and not worrying about what you can't control.  Obviously, I'm going to worry about Emma even if I can't control what happens to her.  But I can control the bedtime situation with Zeke.  So I spent my day buying Thomas sheets (a.k.a. "crack on a track") and putting up lights so that Zeke has this to look forward to:

*Oh, and what of that firetruck bed, you ask?  Yeah, apparently the novelty wore off pretty quickly.  He still likes to play on it when friends come over, but displays very little interest in sleeping in it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

There are no atheists in foxholes - or hospital waiting rooms

It's the kind of thing that is absolutely impossible to ever be prepared for.  You think that it only happens to other people, because it's too unthinkable, too nausea-inducing, to contemplate that it could ever happen to you.

But it does.

My brother's eldest daughter was hit by a car today.  When I first heard the news, all we knew was that she had been riding on her ripstik out in front of her house, had been hit by a car, and it was very serious -- so serious that her local hospital (she lives out in the country in New Hampshire) decided to med-evac her to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  As more information has trickled in, we've learned that she has a fractured skull, but her vital signs are stable and trending in the right direction and the swelling in her brain is decreasing.  She will be kept sedated for the next 3-5 days while her brain and her condition generally is monitored.  So all we do is wait, and hope.

I'm not a praying person.  Whatever belief I may have in God -- and I am deeply unsure of it, honestly -- I definitely do not believe that God is an intervenor in the world's events.  If he/she/it were, then things like the Holocaust would never have happened.

But as I was driving home from work today, shaking and crying and terrified, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I said, out loud, "please, God, let her be OK.  Please.  Please."  And every time I think about that gorgeous, sweet, smart, cool, funny girl lying in a hospital bed, with tubes coming out of her, I ask again.

Please.  She has to be OK.

TMI Thursday: Lost in translation

TMI Thursday

OK, folks, time for another TMI Thursday. Click the picture above to read more awesomely cringe-worthy TMIs courtesy of LiLu at

After Jason and I met in December of 2003, I went back to visit him Costa Rica in February 2004. We had a great time surfing and, uh, getting to know each other again.

Surfing with Jason in February, 2004
The second or third day I was there, which also happened to be my birthday, we were out in the water in the late afternoon, when I had to pee.  So I peed.  And felt that twinge, that slight sting at the end, that made my stomach sink.  Because I knew I was getting a urinary tract infection.

It was the third one I'd ever had in my life (and I haven't had one since, thank goodness).  The first time I got one was in law school, and when I started experiencing severe pain and, oh, yeah, blood while urinating, I seriously thought I was dying.  I went to the student health clinic and the baby-faced med student who treated me gave me some pain pills and some antibiotics -- but not before engaging me in extensive, meaningless chit-chat while I was sitting there holding my crotch in agony -- and I was fine within an hour or so.  

Yes, they're easy to treat.  But holy shit, they're awful, and they go from mildly uncomfortable to excruciating in about 12.7 seconds.

So I'm out in the water, feeling that little painful tingle, thinking, Fuck.  I know what's coming.  And I'm in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, without a fucking clue as to where I can find a doctor who's open after hours.

There was a little chemist shop next to the surf camp, so I went over there and pleaded with the pharmacist to give me something.  And they did, but I can't remember what it was, though I do remember it didn't help.  The night wore on, Jason threw a little birthday party for me, and we were sitting there in the restaurant at the surf camp, hanging out with everyone, as I became more and more uncomfortable.  I had to pee constantly, it was intensely painful, it was getting bloody, and I desperately needed to find a doctor.

I whispered to Jason, practically crying, that I couldn't take the pain anymore and needed to go to a clinic or something.  But at that point, it was 8 at night, and the closest place that was open was an urgent care-type facility about 30 minutes away.  And neither of us had a car.

Jason went and whispered to Jorge, one of the guys who worked at the surf camp, about whether he could take us in the surf camp's van.  Apparently, he wasn't supposed to, but he did it anyway.  So we climbed into the van and went speeding down this narrow country road to the clinic.

Once we got there, everything was fine. The doctor was very nice and perfectly competent, but he was out of oral antibiotics, so he asked me if I wanted to get the antibiotics in a shot.

And I'm all, yeah yeah, I've got a monster pain threshold and no issues with needles, bring it on. I leaned over and exposed the top of my butt cheek.

"You might want to lie down on the table. This could hurt a little."

Mmm hmm. Fine. Whatever.

I got up on the table and proceeded to get the most painful shot of my life.  It felt like it took hours, and the doctor kept pushing and rubbing and jiggling the needle in my butt, trying to help my muscle absorb the thick liquid he was pushing into me. It took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. But then it was over.

I hobbled outside to find the boys, who had decided to wait by the car.  My ass-cheek was throbbing and sore.

The car was there, but there was no sign of Jason or Jorge.

I looked down the street.  Off in the distance, I saw a blinking sign for Imperial, the national beer of Costa Rica.


I limped down the street and found the guys sitting at a bar.  Rather than stay mad, I joined them and ordered a beer.

I was telling the guys about the experience at the doctor, mostly in Spanish because Jorge's English wasn't great.  

Jorge asked me, "¿tienes infección de la pepa?"

I leveled a withering stare at Jason. "'Infección de la pepa?' You told him I have a pussy infection?? So now everyone at the surf camp is going to think I'm some kind of nasty skank?"

Jason's eyes got big, then he shrugged and looked sheepish.  He pretended to be intently concentrating on the foam on the side of his glass.

I turned to Jorge, rolling my eyes at Jason in the process.  "No.  No es 'de la pepa.'  Es urinario.  No es 'de la pepa.'"  It's not "de la pepa," it's urinary.

Jorge nodded as if to say, yeah, right.

We finished our beers and made our way back to the surf camp.  I got better and Jason and I enjoyed the rest of our weekend.

And of course, I did end up marrying the guy. But I think the lovely and wise Mrs. Banks had it right when she said, "though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thanks a lot, Ben.

The first time I went to Australia (before I met Jason), I flew from Atlanta to Denver, had a 2 hour layover, then Denver to LA, another 2 hour layover, then a 14 hour flight to Sydney.  I arrived at 6 in the morning, went to the hotel, and slept for an hour or so while waiting for my mom to fly in from Papua New Guinea, where she was stationed at the time.  She arrived at around noon and we went out and walked around Sydney, took a boat ride on Sydney Harbor, went to see an opera at the Opera House,* and then finally went back to the hotel to go to bed.  We got up at 6 in the morning to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge and then rented a car to drive into the Blue Mountains west of Sydney to go hiking and look at waterfalls.

Only at around 6 that evening, when we were lounging in our hotel room, did the travel and activity and 14-hour time difference catch up with me.  I passed out and slept for 13 hours.  Then I was fine, and we had a lovely trip.

I appear to have lost my time-change-battling mojo.  Because the recent "spring ahead" to daylight savings time is completely. kicking. my. ass.

Sunday morning we woke up and were supposed to be at my cousin's house for brunch at 10:30.  I got up with Josie and was sitting giving her a bottle while watching the previous night's episode of Saturday Night Live, only to be shocked when I pressed the "info" button on the remote control to find that it was already 9:37.  Shit!  We needed to get moving!

We started buzzing around, taking showers, dressing the children, dressing ourselves, only to glance at the clock and see that it was only 9:00.  And I was all "dooooh?" like a confused Scooby Doo.

So we calmed down and slowed down, thinking we had an hour before we needed to leave.

In other words, I assumed DirecTV had the time wrong.  It never occurred to me that, oh yeah, it's mid-March and there's this thing that Benjamin Franklin thought of a couple hundred years ago to change the clocks during the summer and of course the time on the cable box and the cell phones is never wrong and I seriously think my brain is broken.

When it finally dawned on me what was going on, we called the cousins, explained our stupidity, no problem, and we went and had a lovely time seeing them and their new baby.

But I've felt all discombobulated and just off ever since.  My days feel hurried and then slowed down, I can't figure out how to get Zeke's bedtime on track, I'm not sleeping and then when I do I have an impossible time waking up.

It's only a fucking hour.  It's shouldn't be such a big deal.

God help me the next time I have to travel to another time zone.

*Mozart's The Magic Flute, which sucks even when you see it in the Sydney Opera House.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Semper Fi

I read this funny post by FoggyDew about the general bad-ass-ery of our boys in the Marines.  And it took me back to my high school days, when I was living overseas, and the embassies had Marine Security Guards manning the various entrances and generally keeping our butts safe.

If I saw them now, I'm sure they would look like babies to me, albeit big strapping ones.  They were so young, usually in their late teens or early 20s.

But at the time, they seemed like forbidden fruit to us high school girls.  Not that many of us actually wanted to date them -- I thought some of them were cute, but I think I realized, even at the tender age of 17, that I wasn't likely to have enough in common with any of them to sustain a relationship (plus I had a boyfriend).  But they were Older and wore spiffy uniforms and carried guns.  So there was something exotic about them.

The summer after graduation, when a bunch of us were hanging out in New Delhi before heading back to the U.S. for college, a couple of my friends had little summer romances with Marines (I think they weren't allowed to fraternize with us until we were out of high school).  We would hang out at the pool on the American compound, and have drinks at the bar, and go out dancing at the Gunghroo, our club of choice.  And the guys were all very nice, if not particularly intellectual (these were young enlisted guys, not officers).  I think we sort of thought of them as these cool older boys who worked out at the Marine House Gym and looked good in bathing suits and occasionally went to work in a security booth at the Embassy.

What a naive little thing I was.

I didn't even think about the dangers these guys faced on a daily basis.  Not that New Delhi, India, was a seriously dangerous place, but still.  The Cold War hadn't ended yet, and we had recently bombed Libya, and Khaddafi had supposedly threatened to target U.S. diplomatic posts overseas.  And you never know.  An attack can come out of nowhere.  Truly, if anyone in the embassy was at risk, it probably would have been the Marines.  They put their safety on the line to protect not only the ambassador and the embassy officers and staff, but also our little Foreign Service Brat asses, as we pranced around the pool in our bikinis, shopped until we dropped at the local bazaars, and flitted around like little colonialists, having drinks and dinner at 5 star hotels.

It may be 20 years late, but I want to say, thanks, guys.  From the bottom of my heart.

Monday, March 15, 2010

First we taught him to talk, now we teach him to be quiet

When angry, count to four.  When very angry, swear.
-- Mark Twain

Like most people, I yell at other drivers when I'm in the car.  And like most people, I do it with the windows up so they can't hear me.  I don't really suffer from road rage much - it's just a habit, a verbal way of blowing off steam, but it's rare that I'm ever truly angry with other people on the road.  It's just not worth the time and effort.

And when Zeke is in the car, if I do "talk" to other drivers, I generally limit myself to sarcasm rather than swearing, because he is a total sponge these days.  Everything he hears, he repeates.  Ad nauseum.

But every once in a while, something makes me so furious it takes me by surprise.  

Like this past weekend.

Saturday was a beautiful, glorious, sunny, warm day in Denver.  Spring was showing signs of definitely springing soon.  Of course, everyone was out, at the parks, running, playing at the playgrounds, you name it.

We had talked about going to the zoo.  But if you don't get there early on a nice day -- especially the first warm, sunny day in weeks -- you're totally fucked in terms of being able to find a parking space.

So of course, we didn't get organized early and by the time we got to the zoo it was a complete mob scene.  Within the parking lot itself, it was huge masses of cars circling and circling and not a lot of finding empty spaces.  We made our way down the ramps at the parking deck, searching in vain for a spot, any spot, but there was nothing to be found.  

Until we got to the very bottom level of the parking deck, and back in the corner, there was a woman standing next to the open door of a minivan, and next to her was an empty space, with a stroller in it.  The woman was fiddling around on her phone.

We pulled up to the spot.  We looked at her.  She looked at us.  I made a "nu?"* type of gesture and pointed to the spot.  And she said, "I'm saving it."

At this point, we had been crawling through the parking lot for at least 20 minutes.  Our kids were both being good, but Zeke was getting restless and was ready to get out of the car and do something.  And it wasn't just an affront to me; there was a long line of cars snaking throughout the parking deck, in both directions, full of families with children, trying to find a place to park.  So this woman was violating every rule of parking deck etiquette in the book, and was being a rude hag about it, to boot.

"No! You do not get to save spots!"  I yelled at her.  Both front passenger windows were open, so she definitely heard me.

She looked at me and shrugged and went back to fiddling with her phone, like one of those a-holes from the SNL sketch a few years back.

I totally blew a gasket.

"EXCUSE ME!  You can't save spots when people are waiting like this."

She refused to look at me.  I contemplated getting out of the car and moving the stroller (or throwing it against the wall), but retained at least a modicum of sanity and stayed where I was.  

But not without a parting shot.

"YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE!"  I screamed.  

"Fucking COW!"  Jason added.

Then we drove off.  And realized that Zeke was sitting back there, listening intently.

We looked at each other sheepishly, praying that Zeke wouldn't start repeating anything he had heard.  We strongly believe in not swearing in front of the children, and rarely, if ever, slip up.  We whispered to each other in the front seat.  "What is the matter with us??"

Thankfully, Zeke was quiet until we were inching back up the parking deck ramp, trying to get out, and I said, "I can't believe that woman.  Dammit!"

And Zeke said, "dammit!  dammit!  dammit!"

"Zeke, honey, that's not a nice word.  Mommy shouldn't have used it, and you shouldn't use it either."

"Let's get out of here," Jason said.  "We can go to the park."

"Yeah!" said Zeke.  "Let's get outta here!  Let's get outta here!  Let's get outta here!"

Dodged a bullet on that one.

*Yiddish for "well?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fantasies, and my lifelong nitpicking of words and language

I'm having one of those days when the thought of being single and childless is so overwhelmingly attractive I can barely stand it.  I love my children, but the day-to-day of full-time work then chasing after the children then not sleeping because of insomnia then waking to feed and dress the children and get them to school so that I go to full-time work etc. is wearing me out.  I'm grumpy.  I'm irritable.  Stupid shit like Zeke taking a bottle of nasal spray and dumping it on the couch is making me lose my patience and yell at him, when it really isn't that big a deal and he's only acting his age and it's not like the stuff stains.

And I'm feeling totally disconnected from my husband.  We barely ever see each other, and when we do, it's to divvy up cleaning and childcare duties.  To say the spark and heat of our marriage is low to the point of barely being perceptible would be a massive understatement.  My mother suggested that Jason and I need to go away together, but the truth is, I don't even want to.  I just want to be left alone.

I know, I know, so much of the problem is that we haven't had any time together and we're both under enormous stress and we're tired and it makes everything else shitty.  We could probably use some help figuring out how to communicate about the big stuff again.  There was a guy we were seeing to work on some issues last summer, before Jason got the job and had to work out of town during the week, meaning we couldn't synch our schedule with that of our counselor.

And I liked him alot, except for his opinions about the word "but."  He wouldn't allow us to use the word "but," because to him, using the word "but" in a sentence negates everything that came before.  So if you said, "I enjoy spending time with you, but sometimes I wish I had more time to myself," the good doctor's therapy-speak translation would take the sentence to mean that I don't actually enjoy spending time with you.

Which I think is a bullshit linguistic rule.  I really liked the guy and thought he was helpful, but (aaagh!  there's that word!) the "no buts" rule annoyed the shit out of me and caused me to use what felt like very awkward sentence structure at time.  And 7 or 8 months after seeing him, I'm still bothered by it.

"I'm a loser, baby, so why dontcha kill me..."


My Atlanta girly peeps have been floating the idea of a girls' weekend in Miami, maybe in May.  Time to get away, recharge the batteries, get some sun, and spend time with good friends, sans husbands or children.  It sounds like heaven.

And reminds me of a funny story my mom tells me about when I was a little peanut, around 2 years old, and we were going to Miami to visit the grandparents.  I asked about our destination.
Mom:  We're going to Miami.
Little Wendy:  Where's your ami?
Mom:  No, it's not my "ami."  The name of the place is "Miami."
LW:  Right, that's what I said, Your Ami.
Mom (getting frustrated):  Wendy.  There is no "ami."  I don't have an "ami."  The name of the place is "Miami."
LW:  I know.  It's YourAmi.
 Money is tight right now, but nonetheless I need some fun to look forward to.  I will make it to YourAmi if it kills me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

TMI Thursday: Would you, could you, in a tree?

TMI Thursday

OK, folks, time for another TMI Thursday. Click the picture above to read more awesomely cringe-worthy TMIs courtesy of LiLu at

Back in September 2004, after Jason and I had gotten together but when he had gone back to Australia to reconnect with his family, renew his driver's license, and make some money, I went to visit him. We hung out awhile with his family near Sydney, but then decided to take a trip. Initially we thought about going to the Gold Coast to go to the beach, though it was still kind of winter-ish and not that warm.

Then I read a book by Bill Bryson called In A Sunburned Country, about his travels through Australia, including out to Western Australia, south of Perth, where there are giant trees. Like, bigger-than-most-redwoods giant. That people are allowed to climb.

In addition to these giant, beautiful, majestic - and did I mention climbable - trees, he described the countryside as extraordinarily gorgeous, with rolling hillside and vineyards and cliff-side views of the Indian Ocean and amazing underground caves with stalactites or stalacmites or whatever the hell they're called.

All of that stuff sounded awesome, each justifying a trip out there in its own regard, but he seriously had me at the giant climbing trees. I told Jason that instead of going to the Gold Coast, I wanted to go to West Oz to climb the giant trees.

So we flew the 5 hours from Sydney to Perth, and hung out at King's Park and walked around Perth and saw one of the Bourne movies and had yummy sushi.

And we went to Freemantle, this funky little hippie town south of Perth, and saw funny-looking quokkas on Rottnest Island and stayed in a working pub, which, given the noise of drunk people singing all night, was a better idea in theory than in practice. Particularly since the heat in our room didn't work and it was 40 degrees out, so we had to sleep in our coats.

We rented a car and drove south down the coast to Margaret River, where we sat watching the sunset over the ocean while we drank yummy wine that had been recommended by a skate-rat-looking kid with bleached blond hair and a broken arm from a skateboarding accident. He looked like someone that would be sent over from Central Casting if you called and asked for a typical surfer dude. But then he started talking about grapes left to sweeten on the vine and the acidity of the soil during the winter of 2000 and it was totally like having Keanu Reeves's character from Bill and Ted as your somalier. In other words, kind of awesome.

Finally, finally, it was time to go see the giant trees. We drove into the Southern Forest, and the trees were just magnificent. In addition to being enormous, they are beautiful -- a smooth, shimmery, marble-y grey colored bark, with silver-grey leaves. The climbing trees were fire lookouts at one time, with pieces of steel rebar stuck along the trunk in a spiral to climb up to a little platform/tree-house type thing at the top. They were opened to the public for climbing probably about 30 years ago.*

First we went to the Gloucester Tree, which is about 60 meters high (about 197 feet). And it was amazing. The climb was incredibly cool and the view from the top was spectacular.

Me climbing the Gloucester Tree

View from the top


Then we went to the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. I have no idea who Dave Evans is or was, but it's a hell of a tree - 75 meters (about 245 feet) tall. It was getting to be late afternoon when we got there, and there was only one other car in the parking lot. As we climbed to the lookout tower at the top of the tree, we saw people get in the car and drive off.

Meaning we were all alone.

And I don't know why -- this is seriously unlike me -- but there was something about being all alone on the top of this insanely tall, beautiful tree, in the gorgeous countryside, on a warm, sunny late afternoon, that kind of ... got to me.

I looked at Jason.

"So...," I drawled.

"Yeah?" he responded.

"What do you think about, uh, inaugurating the tree?"

His eyes got wide.



"Really???" I think he was in a little bit of shock.


So we got it on in broad daylight in a treehouse in the middle of the Australian forest. And then carved our initials in the railing for posterity.

Poor Jason had a sore neck and probably some splinters in his ass for the rest of the day.

But he didn't complain.

*What I particularly loved was that in the U.S., you'd have to sign liability waivers and be attached to harnesses and whatnot - assuming they ever let anyone up on a giant tree at all. In Australia, the rebar was totally exposed - no harnesses, no safety nets, nothing - and there was a sign at the bottom that basically said, "this could be dangerous, turn back if you're not in decent shape." Yet another reason I love the Aussies.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

He's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

Jason is an incredible "people person." He will chat anyone up, enjoys talking to strangers, and has a memory for faces like no one I've ever met. He knows the names of all of our neighbors, and their dogs. When we lived in Atlanta, he knew everyone on our block and around the corner. He can meet someone once, for 3 minutes, and totally remember everything about them when he randomly runs into them in a different location a year later.

"Hey, when I was at the store, I ran into Chris."

"Who is Chris?"

"You know, Chris. He lives over on Jackson. Has a kid named Ellis. We met him that one time last year."

"Nope, not ringing a bell."

As you may have surmised, I am not similarly talented, particularly if I meet someone in one location but run into them in another. I can't even count how many times in college I would be walking to class, and someone walking the other way would say "hi, Wendy," and I'd be all, "whaaaa...? Oh, hi!" And I'd have no idea who it was. Someone from the dorm? Someone I kissed at a party? It was all a big mystery.

Even a formal introduction, either made by someone else or self-initiated, is no guarantee. There are so many parents we see in the park across from our house, particularly during spring and summer when it's warm and it stays light longer and everyone is out running around with their kids. We stand around watching the kids climbing on the monkey bars or going down the slide and invariably the kids will start to interact and so the parents will start to chat and introduce themselves.

And then I'll see them the next time we're out, and they'll say, "hi, Wendy!" and I'll realize that they look vaguely familiar and I've met them before but I couldn't tell you their names if you held a gun to my head.

I don't know what this says about me, but I doubt it's good.

But on the details that affect or are involved in my daily life, my memory is impeccable, particularly when it comes to our children. And that is where Jason and I differ vastly.

I could list virtually every article of clothing in my children's drawers, what is in the laundry, the entire channel lineup on DirecTV and which children's show is on when, what children's books we own and how old Zeke was when he became interested in each one, how old each child was when they reached particular developmental milestones, who has been to the doctor and for which ailment, who had which shots and when, and every daycare teacher either of them has ever had.

Whereas Jason will go pick up the kids from daycare, and when he comes home, I'll ask how much Josie ate or what time Zeke took a nap, and he'll look at me blankly.

"Well, what did Theresa say about Zeke's behavior today?"

"Who is Theresa?"

"One of his teachers that he's had for at least 5 months."

"Yeah, I can't remember any of their names."


I don't understand this at all. Maybe it's a guy thing?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Aussie word of the day: lunch edition

Anyone who knows Jason knows that the boy has an appetite unlike anything most of us have encountered in nature, outside of maybe a ravenous goat. He's a pleasure to cook for, as many of our friends have discovered, because he likes just about everything, is effusive in his praise of a good meal, and goes back for seconds and thirds, plus will relieve you of any leftovers you're looking to clear out of your fridge.

I'll put some effort into trying out a new recipe, and he'll have a bite, get a look of bliss on his face, and exclaim, "baby, this is top tucker!!"*

The only difficulty I have, in addition to fights about leftovers, is that his palate is seriously defective. One manifestation of this is his tendency to slather every single thing he eats with some sort of condiment or sauce, be it chili sauce (such as Sriracha on all forms of pasta), salad dressing (some thousand island on a piece of pizza, perhaps), or anything else he can find.

Another manifestation is the sandwich combinations he comes up with. Australians, apparently, will put anything between two pieces of bread.

He called me this morning for our daily 11:20 chat.

"G'day, love."

"Hi, sweetie. How's everything?"

"Fantastic, now that I'm getting ready to sit down for smoke-o. Got a bunch a' sangers* lined up."

"Oh, yeah? What's on the menu?"

"Tuna, cheese, onions soaked in balsamic vinegar, pineapple and mayo."

"I'm sorry, did you just say 'tuna with onions, balsamic vinegar, pineapple and mayo?'"


I hate it when people are all, "EWW, GROSS!!" at other people's food choices. So I just said, "Well, uh ... have a lovely meal."

But, seriously, people. EWWW, GROOOSS!

*Tucker = Aussie for "food." For full effect, hold your nose and pronounce it thusly: /TAH-kah/
Sanger = "sandwich." /SANG-ah/