Tuesday, March 29, 2011

At least we're not *total* failures

Today was our first parent-teacher conference for the kids.  I don't know why, but I was terrified.

Not about Josie, who is a total rock star in her class.  She's perfectly behaved, easy going, everybody loves her.

But I was a little worried about Zeke.

Not that I actually think there's anything wrong with Zeke.

He's just so... 3.

And if you've ever spent significant amounts of time around a 3 year old, you know that "annoying," "difficult," "infuriating" and "unpredictable" are words that come to mind when asked to describe them.

So are "adorable," "hilarious," "sweet" and "effervescent."

But quite often, the former qualities overwhelm the latter.

And Zeke is a lot like me -- not a huge joiner, not one to prefer a big noisy crowd when a quiet corner with a book is an option.  Except that I'm old enough to know when I need to suppress my own preferences and do as I'm told, whereas Zeke doesn't really have the maturity to have mastered that particular skill.

So I frequently get reports about how he doesn't always participate in group activities and likes to do his own thing.

Which is fine.  It's not like he gets grades.  And that's not a trait that bothers me.  But that observation is frequently presented to me as a "concern."

And then lately he's totally regressed when it comes to potty-training.  He's gone from having no accidents, like, ever, except when he was in a situation in which he truly couldn't get to the bathroom in time, to having 3 or 4 a day.  Nobody can figure out why.  When I ask him about it, he shrugs his shoulders.  We've had conversations about it, I've scolded him, I've threatened with the return of "baby diapers, because big boys don't poop in their pants."  Nothing works.  So now I'm trying bribery -- I bought a big bag of M&Ms -- every time he uses the potty, he gets one.  I don't know what else to do.

So, the parent-teacher conference.  J and I were nervous that we were going to get reports that our kid is woefully behind and that somehow it was all our fault.

Of course that didn't happen.  The teacher said she is concerned about the potty training thing, but that we'll work on it together, and it will right itself eventually.  Other than that, he's fine.  He's really smart.  He has the emotional maturity of a 3 1/2 year old.  Which he is.  And that's OK. 

We drove away relieved, not just that our kids are doing well, but that we weren't branded as parenting failures.

Until we drove from the preschool straight to McDonald's for dinner. 

Hey, nobody's perfect.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mother [muhth-er] (noun) - a repository for the detritus of childhood

Yesterday I went and got a 90 minute massage.  It had been a few months since I had one and I had some Groupon deals in the bank, so J agreed to keep the kids for a few hours so I could get some time to myself.

It was in a funky little massage/accupuncture place up in Arvada.  Hip music was playing, the therapist was all be-tatted and pierced.  The walls were adorned with prints that looked like they were from Thailand.

I felt decidedly uncool in my ratty University of Virginia sweatshirt and jeans that I had used to wipe my hands after picking boogers out of Josie's nose. 

But hey, my money's good, so she led me back to the therapy room, asked me about my "problem areas," and then left so I could get undressed.

I emptied my pockets and took off my rings, disrobed and got under the sheet.

When the therapist came in a few minutes later, she wasn't able to stifle her guffaw.

Not because I tooted when she walked in or had left a bare cheek uncovered by the sheet.

No, she laughed because she caught a glimpse of the table where I had stashed my clothes and the contents of my pockets:
  • 1 Android smartphone
  • 1 pair dirty jeans
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 long-sleeved t-shirt
  • bra and panties discreetly tucked into fold of pants
  • socks and sneakers
  • 3 gold rings
  • 1 toy car
I always thought I could be one of those cool moms that looked well put together. 

Not so much, as it turns out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday frippery

Snow day! -- Tomorrow Zeke and I are off to ski, just the two of us.  J's got a bad back and can't snowboard without great discomfort, so there's no reason for him and Josie to schlep up to the mountains just to sit in the lodge.  So far, Zeke has only skied in ski school, so I'm a little nervous about taking him out by myself.  But we're going to play on the magic carpet (which he's used to), work on making wedges and controlling speed and maybe some mild turns, and if he's up to it, we'll get on the chair lift to try a bunny run.  I won't be able to do any serious skiing of my own, but last Saturday I got a lot of time on some super-steep black runs at Copper, so that will have to last me for a little while longer.

Hi, Mom! -- My mom has been out of the country on business, in Cambodia and Vietnam.  I'm used to talking to her every day, so it's always weird when she's away.  But when I check my statcounter, I see hits from Phnom Pehn and Ho Chi Minh City, so I know she's checking in on me.  Which makes me feel better.  Travel safe, Mama!  I miss you. 

Something's gotta give -- J and I were talking the other day about how we're constantly trying to stay on top of chores -- laundry, keeping the house clean, grocery shopping -- but constantly feel like we're falling behind because we just don't have enough free time to take care of everything.  We have a cleaning service that comes every 2 weeks, meaning that every 2 weeks, the house is clean until the kids have been home for an hour, at which point it's trashed again.  My office just instituted this flex time policy where people permitted to participate would do 9 days on and 1 day off, i.e., work 9 hours a day for 9 days, and then have every second Friday off.  I think I'm going to put in a request to go on that schedule, because Jesus, I could use the occasional day without the kids in tow.  Especially during ski season. 

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An outburst of the soul

Weekday mornings are pretty mundane and repetitive.  I get up, exercise, have some breakfast and coffee, get the kids up, get them dressed, take them to school and head to work.

But there are wonderful little moments that fill me with tingles.  Like when I first open the door to Josie's room.  She's usually half awake, but still lying comfortably in her bed, sucking on her two middle fingers.  When she hears the door open, she pops her head up and gives me this impish grin.  She's got this hilarious mop of hair that sticks up all over the place in the morning, and these chubby cheeks, and big blue eyes that crinkle up when she smiles at me. 

So. Fucking. Cute.

I sing-song, "good mooooorning, sweetheart!"

She giggles and plops her head back down on her mattress for an impromptu game of peek-a-boo.  Then she stands up, holds out her arms for me to pick her up, and gives me a huge hug.

Every morning I get this gleeful reception from her.  It makes my whole day.

Zeke is similarly full of love, especially these days, with the unending stream of "I love you, Mama."  He's happy to see me, he's happy to see Josie. 

"Good morning, Jo-si-jo-jo-jo-beany-bean-bean!"

Constantly giving both of us hugs and kisses.


They kill me with the cute.

Usually, when I drive them to school, I keep the radio down low and we talk.  But today when I turned on the car, the radio was already on.  Mumford & Sons' The Cave was playing.

After a couple of seconds, Zeke said, "I like this song, Mama."  So I turned it up.  "So do I, sweetie.  Let's listen to it."

In the rearview mirror, I could see him sort of bobbing his head with the beat as he looked out the window.  Josie started singing as well, imitating what she was hearing on the radio, but punctuating it with the occasional "E-I-E-I-O."

We drove along, listening to this cool song, each in our own little world that the music created for us.  And I was filled with a sudden burst of intense adoration for my children, and a hope that they would grow up to love and appreciate and maybe play music, as I do. 

And maybe I teared up, just a little.

It was another one of those moments.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Insert pithy quote about aging gracefully here

As I mentioned about a month ago, I'm back on the exercise wagon.

I tend to do that.  Go off and on, I mean.  And when I'm on it, I'm really disciplined and good. 

But then I'm not. 

So last year, in preparation for my Israel reunion, I did Insanity.  And it was -- wait for it -- insane.  Not particularly fun, but certainly an effective program.  And I lost many pounds and inches and went to the reunion in the dress I had been working to wear, and all was well.

Except that afterwards, we were moving and then I was changing jobs and then J had his hernia surgery and I just didn't have the mindset to stick with it.  So I ate what I wanted and didn't have much time to exercise, plus there were the daily offerings in the break room at work of leftover pie and "hey, taste this new recipe I made" and "there's extra Halloween chocolate, help yourselves!"

Now I've got another reunion coming up.  Celebrating 20 years since I graduated from college.

20 fucking years.  Holy shit.

And in the fall and winter since my last round of serious exercise discipline and dedication, my slack-ass-ness has resulted in an additional 6 pounds of chub on my 5'2" frame.  Not good.

So I'm back on the wagon.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I feel the need to pretty-up in preparation for seeing people that I haven't seen in 20 years -- I mean, really, who gives a shit?

But I do (give a shit, that is).  Call it vanity, call it clinging to the trappings of youth, call it superficial.

Guilty guilty guilty.

But I feel like if I don't show up bearing some resemblance to the little hottie I used to be, I have lost.  Or given up. 

I'm not prepared to give up yet.

Maybe for the 30th reunion, when I'm 51, I won't care.  But right now, I still do.

So 2 weeks ago, I started another program:  P90X and Weight Watchers.  That's another thing I tend to do -- programs.  I like the regimentation of having a schedule that tells me what I need to do on which day, for how long.  It gives me a sense of control.  Same with the points system on Weight Watchers.  I do well with structure. 

The first two weeks were predictably difficult and somewhat discouraging, because I didn't feel like I was seeing results right away.  I was getting used to the program, and all the resistance training was probably adding a little bit of muscle weight, so my weekly weigh-ins were not sources of joy.

But like an old steam engine, I feel like I'm slowly but surely gaining momentum.  My metabolism is picking up again and I''ve started dropping pounds.  My muscles are responding to the weight work and are regaining their definition.  My clothes are drooping a little bit.

I feel good.

And by June, I predict that I will feel great.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


What is it with this guy?
 Josie has discovered Elmo. 

Zeke went through a big Elmo kick when he was her age, but as crazy for the little red punk as he was, Josie's got him beat by a mile.  Every waking moment she wants to watch Elmo.  Or hold the Elmo doll.  Or do the hokey-pokey with the Hokey Pokey Elmo that she managed to wrangle from school by throwing an arched-back fit every time the mere suggestion that the doll might be taken away was made.

Sometimes it's all at the same time.

This morning as I was getting them ready for school, she insisted on doing the hokey-pokey with Hokey Pokey Elmo while holding the Elmo puppet while watching an episode of Elmo's World on TV. 

I caved only because I knew she was tired and cranky, the result of having been up every couple of hours,  crying and asking for Elmo.  I finally brought her into bed with me at 4 in the morning to try to sooth her and get her to sleep.  She sat up, pointed to the TV and said, "Elmo!"

"No, honey, we're not watching Elmo now.  It's time for night-night."

She slumped in my arms, utterly defeated, moaning, "no! no! no!"

So pitiful.

Finally, she rested her head against me, snuggled in, and went to sleep.

I'm not overly alarmed by this behavior -- I know it will pass -- but I'm having a hard time understanding it.  I don't remember ever forming attachments like this as a kid.  I didn't have a binky or fixate on a doll.  I was always very independent and almost disdainful of those kinds of displays, like they showed weakness or something.  My mom tells me that when I was about 2 there was a doll that I played with with some regularity, but one day it got lost.  She kept waiting for me to get upset or ask for it or something.  I never mentioned it and moved on.

I don't want to be a hardass.  But I kind of want Josie to sack up and not be such a patsy for Elmo.  I feel like it doesn't bode well for her future relationships, to be so overtly needy.

Or maybe I'm the one that needs to chill out and not view the situation so harshly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's on second

Zeke and I have this thing we do when we go to the park.  I push him on the swings and he sings "Old MacDonald," but instead of animals, on the farm there are light posts and dirt and various other inanimate objects that don't make noise.  And then we'll make up silly noises that the window or wagon or juicebox make.

Josie has started to sing Old MacDonald, and particularly likes repeating "E-I-E-I-O" over and over.  She started doing this in the car on the way to school this morning.  So I sang along with her, and then Zeke picked it up.

We went through cows and chickens and goats and sheep.

Then Zeke sang, "Old MacDonald had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O... And on that farm he had a what."

Me:  He had a what?

Zeke:  He had a what.

There was no question-like inflection in his voice, so I thought he was being funny with the song, as is our wont, and doing a "who's on first" kind of thing.

Me:  He had a what?

Zeke:  A what.

Me:  A what what?

Zeke:  A what.

Me:  What the what?

Zeke:  He had a WHAT!

Then he started to cry.  "What did he have, Mama?"

I realized he hadn't been playing and was waiting for me to fill in the blank, i.e., identify what Old MacDonald had.  And he thought I had been mocking him.

This is what happens when you establish a rep as a little smartass. 

And here's how to use that rep, pull the old switcheroo, and make Mama feel like a grade A asshole.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One year

I was sitting at my desk at work when I got the call.  I think it was around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, Denver time.  It was my dad.

"Emma's been in an accident.  She was hit by a car."

"WHAT?  Is she OK?"  My heart started to race.

"It's very serious.  She's being medevac'ed to Mass. General right now."

I began to cry.  "Is she going to die?"

"I don't know, honey.  It's moment-to-moment.  Everyone's one their way to the hospital.  As soon as I or someone else has any information, we'll let you know.  I love you, sweetheart."

I think I asked how it happened.  I remember some coworkers coming in to comfort me, because I was sobbing.  I remember driving home and thinking, even though I am not remotely religious, "please, God, please.  Don't let her die." 

I remember the next few days being a blur of tears and terror and trying to get news, any news.  My heart feeling like it was breaking not only for my beautiful niece, but also for my brother and sister-in-law, who were holding up remarkably well, considering.

At first, the big question was whether she was going to make it at all.  Then we knew she was going to live, but the question was, how?  Would she ever speak again?  Walk again?  Would she have cognitive function?  Would she be able to live independently?  Would she be the same, or as close to her old self as possible?

Miraculously, the answer to all of these questions was "yes."

It has been a year since that awful day.  And in that year, not only has Emma come back to us, beautiful and funny and strong and sweet, but we have all felt the power of having not only family and close friends, but acquaintances, and sometimes people who weren't even acquaintances, offer up help and support.

While Josh and Lori were spending months with Emma at the hospital in Boston and then at the rehab facility she was in for a few weeks, my parents were up there almost weekly to look after Emma's sisters and provide whatever help they could provide.  I went up for a weekend to do what I could.  Our brother Sam did the same.  Lori's parents and siblings pitched in.  Neighbors organized a food rotation, so every night for weeks and weeks, the family had dinners ready for them.  People who lived in the neighborhood, but whom Josh and Lori had never met or talked to, would stop by to drop off a meal.  Friends sent gas cards to help with the expense of driving back and forth to Boston.  She was on prayer lists all over the country, for every religious denomination.

Josh set up a "care page" on the Mass. General website (he still updates it from time to time) where he and Lori posted updates and pictures.  In the months following the accident, the page was inundated with comments from a far-ranging group of people. 

The comments and expressions of love, support and concern from family and friends was obviously appreciated, but not unexpected. 

What was incredible, what blew everyone away, was the daily visits and messages from people in their town who hadn't met them but had heard about the accident.  Or friends of mine from college, law school, and beyond, who didn't know Emma, but had heard me brag about her and who wanted to send their love.  Friends and bandmates of my brother Sam.  Friends and colleagues of my parents. 

In the year since the accident, 593 different visitors have logged in to the care page, leaving over 2000 messages.  I find that so extraordinary.  It moves me to tears.

The other day Josh wrote an post about how the year has affected him.  Obviously, to say that it's been difficult would be a ridiculous understatement.  But he was sending a message of love, and I'll let him tell it: 
One of the most important things that I have learned is how to love and open one's heart to accept love and kindness, how to be true to one's self as much as possible. Trust me, it is not easy to do in this day and age. People at times, me included, can get filled with thoughts of jealously, bitterness, pettiness, the list could go on and on. With the opening of my heart, talking to friends, family and strangers, I was able to begin this journey of growth. I was able to come to terms with the accident in a better way, accept reality, push away as much as possible the ugliness that can creep into one's life. As I said, not easy but worth it.
Where am I going with all this, not sure. I try to smile more, accept people for who they are, love my wife and kids as much as possible every day.
Amen, brother.

It's such a cliche, but life is so short.  And so fragile. 

So go out and live.  Let go of the bullshit.  See the world.  Try something new and scary.  Have fun.  Be kind.  Take care of yourself and the people you love.  It's the most important thing. 

The only thing.

Emma at the park with us a few weeks ago. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Keeping the romance alive

We've gotten into a nice routine in the afternoons.  The weather has been so glorious -- upper 60s to mid 70s -- that J picks the kids up in the afternoon and takes them straight to the park.  I get home, exercise if I didn't manage to do it before work, and then get dinner ready.  J brings the kids home at about 6, dinner's ready and on the table by 6:30, and we have some nice family time.

Yesterday I did a weights workout that didn't cause me to break too much of a sweat, plus I knew that I would be doing a hard cardio workout this morning that would require a shower afterwards, so I cleaned up by running a washcloth over my face and pits (face first, natch). 

By the time J came home with the monkeys, the table was set and dinner was ready.  When I heard the car pull up, I went outside to meet them.

When J saw me, his eyes lit up, he gave me a kiss, and he said, with great enthusiasm, "that's my girl! All barefoot and sexy." 

There were some people walking by on the sidewalk, and he looked at them and did a, "eh? eh?  check out what I got!  That's what I'm talking about, baby!" 

They laughed.  I rolled my eyes and chuckled under my breath.

Oh, and the outfit that sparked his ardor?

A ratty white wifebeater, replete with grease spots from the burgers I had been preparing.  A ratty black sports bra underneath.  A pair of workout shorts that fit kind of like men's boxer briefs, only they're so old and abused by my wearing then when I was pregnant that the waistband is all stretched out.  And an knee-length apron decorated with pictures of herbs and flowers.  Hair in a scraggly ponytail, lop-sided from when I was lying on my back to do ab work.  A smudge of mascara under one eye.

Hot hot hot is how I roll.

Clearly, he needs to get out more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can't I just give her my dog-eared copy of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? and be done with it?

I'm on all these email lists from baby/parenting websites, leftover from when I was naive enough to believe that message boards populated by equally clueless first-time parents would be of any value.  I'm too lazy to click on "unsubscribe," so I'm bombarded daily with 80 bazillion emails about my toddler's developmental milestones and "5 ways your baby's crib can kill her!"  Plus I get lots of product offers for diapers and whatever.

Then today I got this from Mamapedia, which is kind of like Groupon for parents:

First of all, my daughter isn't even 18 months old, so thanks, Dot Girl, but I'm good for a while.

Second of all, What. The. Fuck.

When I got my first period, my mom and I weren't even on the same continent (we were living in Israel and I was in the States for the summer, so my friend's mom had the pleasure of dealing with me when it happened).  And it wasn't a big deal.  I had read my Judy Blume books so I knew what was going on, and it was fine and not even remotely emotionally charged or traumatic or anything.  My "practical kit" was a box of sanitary pads.  No "facilitation of healthy communication" was required.  I called my mom and told her the news, and she said something about growing up, and that was that.

Seriously, is this a thing?  Is this what people do now?  Is every single event in life now the subject of a marketing strategy?

Monday, March 14, 2011

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

One of the things that I'm really enjoying about living in Denver is the weather.  Yes, it can be a little crazy at times with the what-the-fuck?-there's-a-blizzard-in-April? and the supercrazycold and the 70 degrees one day and 40 and windy the next, but for the most part, it's not bad at all, even in the winter.  While the East Coast has been getting socked over the past few months with wave after wave of snow and blizzards and ice storms and whatever else, it's been OK here. 

And now it's about to get really good. 

Spring is getting ready to spring, so in addition to being able to head west and up to ski on the weekends, we can stay in town and go from park to park to park on the weekends. 

Saturday, J and Zeke went to one park at 10 in the morning and then walked a mile and a half to another park to be met by Josie and me (she had been napping), where we played played played to the point of exhaustion and then all took the bus home together.

Yesterday we skied in the morning and then came home and met my friend Kim out at Confluence Park in downtown Denver.  The kids giggled and ran and Zeke rode his Skuut and they threw rocks and sand in the river and had a blast in the late afternoon sunshine. 

Then home for dinner, bath and a good night's sleep.

All the activity and outside time is putting everyone in a good mood.  Josie's boil is healing and she's comfortable and healthy.  Zeke tells me he loves me every 5 minutes.  J and I are having a good time with our kids.

There's a lot of scary, awful shit going on in the world.  Sometimes it's hard not to get bogged down in the bad news and uncertainty that seems to persist on a global scale.

But life is to be lived, so that's what we try to do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The downside of regaining "hottie" status

I'm fortunate to be married to a man who has an awesome physique.  He's a surfer and a biker and an all-around great athlete, and it shows.


After his hernia surgery, he couldn't do much but sit around and watch TV and eat.  And in the process, he put on a little bit of weight (and understandably so). 

It drove him crazy.  So as soon as he got the all-clear from the doctor, he started exercising again, and decided to do a round of P90X. 

The one benefit of starting work at 5 in the morning is that he gets off at 1:30 in the afternoon, and thus has time to work out for an hour when he gets home.  And he's been incredibly diligent, coming home every day and doing the workouts.

He's in the home stretch now, only a few more weeks to go, and he looks awesome.  He's lost a bunch of weight and has his abs backRrowr.

Recently he was walking out to his car after work.  He's redoing wiring or whatever for a big grocery store, so he was walking out through a crowded parking lot.  His hands were full of tools and what-not and he had his tool belt on.

Which is heavy.  As he was walking, it was pushing down on his pants, which are loose because he's so much thinner now.

Because his hands were laden with big heavy things, he tried to wiggle and arch and reposition himself. 

But to no avail. 

Leaving him in the middle of a King Soopers parking lot with his tool belt and his pants around his ankles.  There were quite a few cheers and claps from the onlookers.

As he was telling me the story, I thought, thank goodness he was wearing underwear.  Also, lucky King Soopers shoppers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I tried to come up with something clever about a boil on the ass of humanity, but I got nothin'

First it was the ear infections.  One after the other, each treated with a different antibiotic -- amoxicillin, cefdinir, zythromax -- nothing worked.  Josie still had persistent pus in her ears that wouldn't go away.  The doctor tried one more round of a different antibiotic and told me that I had to bring her back in two weeks to check her ears.  If they still were infected, we'd have to try other remedies, like shots or tubes. 

So she did her course of medication, seemed to get better, but then her nose started running again, which always seems to be a sign of another (or the same) infection.  So I made the appointment with the pediatrician, fully expecting that her ears were still fucked up.

Amazingly, they weren't.  She had a runny nose, but her ears were free of infected-looking pus.

Now the problem was that all the antibiotics had given her a raging yeast infection.

So I whipped up a batch of magic butt (or in this case, vajayjay) paste,* including an extra batch for her teachers to use at school, and slathered it on with every diaper change.

I was changing her diaper after a few days and noticed that the yeast infection seemed to be healing.  Victory!  But then as I was putting paste on her, I felt a hard lump on the inside of her right butt cheek.

The Passover plagues
She has a massive, painful boil, right near her anus.  Which makes it difficult to sit without leaning to one side and difficult to be wiped off during a diaper change without intense pain.  Plus, if it comes to a head and bursts, it could lead to more dangerous infection if it comes in contact with poop.

Poor monkey.  I feel horrible for her, though she's a tough little girl -- she doesn't really fuss and has weathered the recent spate of one-malady-after-another with remarkable aplomb.  I, on the other hand, am a wreck.  I'm good at taking care of sick kids, but I become horribly agitated and nervous when one of my kids has an injury or an illness.  Along with any prescription the doctor gives, I should ask for some Ativan for myself.

So I've got a call in to the pediatrician for advice, and I'm letting her sit in a hot bath and run around naked, and I try to position her on the couch to watch Elmo so that she leans to one side.  And I guess there's not much to do but wait it out.

And hope that as the boil heals, we don't get beset by locusts or cattle disease or something similar.  Passover is just around the corner, after all.  You never know.

*Magic Butt/Vaj paste recipe (handed down to me by my friend Karen):
1 part zinc based diaper cream
1 part lotrimin (anti-fungal) cream
1 part hydrocortisone cream

Spread liberally on affected area.  Marvel at the speed with which affected area gets better.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Reminiscing and rambling

I was talking to some coworkers last week and the topic of conversation turned to childhood. Specifically, the question asked was, "what was the most difficult thing you had to deal with as a kid?"

My childhood was the best of anyone I was talking to, by far. Everyone else had suffered from parents who were alcoholics, who had abandoned them, who were divorced, whom they never saw because they were poor and the parents worked multiple jobs.

It was a serious eye opener. I've always been aware of how fortunate my brothers and I were growing up, with parents that were together and happy and supportive of us and each other. We got to live all over the world and see incredible places and things. We got a top-notch education not just through our experiences, but because we lived in countries where the diplomatic schools were superb (Israel and India in particular). 

When it was my "turn" to talk, it was hard to come up with something that didn't sound petty.  The best I could do was that all of the moving around left me without a strong sense of place.  There isn't really anywhere in the world that truly feels like home to me, because I had so many homes.

I was born in Cyprus, a half a world away from where I am now.  For most people, the place where they were born is someplace familiar.  But I haven't been back to Cyprus since we left when I was 2. 

Same with Venezuela.  I have vivid memories of the house we lived in, our yard, the mango tree, the wall behind the house where my parents let Josh and me paint with watercolors.  I could draw the interior layout of the house if you asked me to.  I remember the park and the barrio down the road.  I remember my school.  One day I was dicking around on Google maps and was able to find the house we lived in.

But I haven't been there since I was 6 years old.

Same with Israel and India.  Those were majorly formative years for me -- middle school and high school, first kisses and boyfriends and going through puberty and seeing truly incredible parts of the world.  Those places are a part of me.  I could give you directions around Tel Aviv or New Delhi, draw a map of my schools and my neighborhoods and where we hung out.  But I haven't been back to Israel since we left in 1984, and I haven't been back to India since Christmas break my first year of college (New Year's of 1989).

Most people I know have a hometown.  Somewhere they can return to (if they don't still live there) where they can sort of return to childhood, see the people and places they grew up with, feel a sense of home where they can recharge their batteries. 

I wouldn't change the way I grew up for anything.  But as I wrote yesterday (can you tell I'm doing a lot of reminiscing?), the wonderful friendships and experiences I've had are so disparate in time and place that sometimes it feels hard to hold on to them.

So I think.  And I go to reunions.  And I try to preserve memories by writing.

Are you far away from the people and places you grew up with?  Do you want to go back, or are you glad for the distance?  Should I just quit my mawkish ramblings and be grateful for my quasi-Rockwellian upbringing?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Why I'm jealous of Marilu Henner

Sunday was a wonderful day of skiing and reconnecting with an old friend that I hadn't seen in 10 years.  Eleanor and I were close friends and sorority sisters at UVa., and we've kept in touch via Christmas cards and Facebook and word of mouth, but we haven't seen each other much.  So when I found out (via Facebook, natch) that she and her family were going to be vacationing in Breckenridge for the week, I jumped at the chance to go and hang out with her for a little while (and get some skiing in, of course). 

I got to say hello to her husband, Robert, and meet her beautiful daughters, but then Robert took the girls so that El and I could have the morning to catch up, just the two of us.

It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to slip back into conversations and coexistence with people that you've known really well, have been really close with, and who have been with you through formative periods in your life (like college).  And social media obviously helps.  I haven't seen Eleanor in forever, but I keep up with her daily via Facebook and Twitter, so I've seen the pictures of her kids and know what sports they do and I have a general sense of what's going on in her life.  She can say the same for me.  So we might do a little bit of catching up, of filling in the blanks, but mostly we fall back into just talking -- about life, about how we feel about where we are, about our mutual friends.  It's the same conversation we always had.

Of course, there were certain things that she remembered that I didn't, and things that I remembered that she didn't, and it was fun to bring back things that had been otherwise tucked away in the recesses of my brain, probably never to be retrieved.

You're probably saying to yourself about now, "yeah, yeah, that's really nice, but what the hell does Marilu Henner have to do with any of this?"
Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory

Marilu Henner is one of 6 known people in the world with the ability to recall, in vivid detail, every single day of her life (the clinical term is Superior Autobiographical Memory).  If you say a random date -- April 7, 1989, whatever -- she can tell you what day of the week it was, what she did that day, who she saw, and whatever else she can remember about it.  When she hears a date, she describes her brain's function as being similar to a DVD -- the day cues up and she sees it as if it were all happening again.  She can look at a pair of shoes and immediately remember the exact date she wore them last, what happened that day, etc.

Now, I have a decent memory for history and dates -- I even do exercises to try to cultivate and improve my ability to recollect -- but it's obviously nothing like that.  And I often lament the loss of certain memories because in losing the memories, I've essentially lost the experiences.  I've done so many cool things in my life, visited so many amazing places, met and known so many incredible people, and I feel like by not being able to remember all of them, it's like they didn't really happen.  I crave the ability to bring it all back, to carry all of those memories with me.  It makes me feel closer to my friends and family.  Friends like Eleanor, who is so wonderful and whose company I enjoy so much.

It makes me feel more alive.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Proof positive that he's not adopted

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When I went to pick up Emma and my mom at the airport last week, I took Zeke with me.  I wasn't originally intending to because I was going to go through security to meet Emma at the gate, and who needs a toddler in that scenario?  But J had been sick and puking and then sleeping all day, so rather than leave him with both kids while he was feeling like total dog shit, I lightened his burden a little bit by leaving him with the easy kid who cheerfully lies down and goes to sleep at 7:30 on the dot after giving her Elmo doll a hug and chirping "night-night, Mommy!"

And I love having one-on-one time with Zeke.  He's so smart and fun to talk to.  And he tends to be much better behaved when Josie isn't around competing with him for attention.

So we got our escort passes and went to the potty and then made it through security and rode the train and went to the potty and successfully jumped off the escalator and rode the moving sidewalk.  He was a little bit shy when he first saw Emma, but then we sat down to have something to drink while we waited for my mom's plane and he became his normal chatty self.  He met a friend, a 4-year-old named Zach who was with his grandma waiting for his mom's plane, so Zeke and Zach had a grand time jumping around and making funny faces and saying things like "booty tooty chaka looty" and then cracking up like it was the greatest joke ever told in the history of jokes.

My mom's flight arrived, there were big hugs and kisses all around, we got the luggage and settled into the car for the ride home.

My mom sat in the back seat with Zeke.  He talked about school and his friends and going to the zoo and his desire to have a birthday party on Sunday.  So we decided we'd make a cake and blow out candles to celebrate everybody's unbirthday.

It was silent in the car for a minute or so.  Then Zeke leaned over and whispered to my mom.


"Yes, sweetheart?" she whispered back.

"The quiet ones are always the stinkiest," he responded.

She cracked up.  "Are you trying to tell me something?"

"Yes, Mimi.  I tooted quietly."

It occurred to me to make a crack that he's just like his father and comes by it honestly, coming from a long line of tooters.  But I kept my mouth shut, realizing that he gets it from my side of the family as much as J's.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


We had a lovely visit with my mom and Emma (who is doing fabulously well, by the way).  Josie recovered from her stomach bug (from which she suffered while also having the miserable experience of cutting 4 molars at once) and was (and is) back to her normal, chipper self, running around all happy and saying new words all the time and eating everything in sight every minute of the day.  Not that I blame her, considering that she essentially went 4 1/2 days without eating.  But it's seriously hilarious now -- she's still a peanut but now she's got this ridiculous belly that sticks out.

Reminds me of her uncle Sam:

This is my brother Sam, aged 2, checking out a safety demonstraton on the beach in North Carolina. 
Josie's belly is even more pronounced than this, if you can believe it.
Anyway, she's doing great. 

But then on the second day of Mom's and Emma's visit, we were standing in the pizza place getting ready to order a pie to take home when Zeke suddenly threw up.  I got him outside.  He threw up again.  We went home.

He was sick for the next 5 days.  Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, exhaustion, and general punkiness.  Which, given his current level of 3-year-old (im)maturity, made him whiny and emotional in addition to his default state of annoying and defiant (when he's not being really sweet).

So I had a nice time hanging out with my mom and my niece, and we got out of the house and did some cool stuff, but we couldn't have the Denver cousins over for dinner because nobody wanted to get Zeke's cooties, and Zeke was exhausted and emotional regardless of what we did, so we always had to be prepared to just pick up and go home if he started to melt down.

And he just wanted to be on me.  "Mama, sleep with me."  "Mama, snuggle with me."  "Mama, I want to sit on your lap."  "Mama, I don't want you to drive.  I want you to sit with me in the car."

Whee!  Motherhood is fun!

Honestly, I feel like I've been living in a state of siege since we moved to Denver.  Just one shitty thing after another (with the exception of Josie being born).  Husband working out of town, husband sick or injured, dog dying, grandfather dying, niece severely injured, moving, losing the Hawaii house, husband unemployed, burst pipes, sick kids, blah blah blah. 

The minute one thing clears up, another thing starts. 

Yes, J recovered fine from his hernia surgery, and yes, he's gainfully employed now, but his work schedule is so fucked up that I still never see him and still never feel like I have any help with the kids.  I have great friends and family in town, but every time we have plans to do something, a short person starts vomiting and we're quarantined.

I'm exhausted.  I'm emotionally drained.  I'm resentful.  I'm lonely.

Life is hard.  Being a grown-up is hard.  I guess I just assumed that there were be more moments of light, more moments of peace, than I'm currently able to enjoy.  Because right now, it pretty much sucks, and I'm not seeing any respite any time soon.