Monday, June 30, 2008

An Apology and Random Bits of Info.

I'm so sorry I've been quite today. We leave for a family vacation in Lake Tahoe on Wednesday morning, and I've been busy all day drilling dull pencils in my eyeballs as punishment for procrastinating on, hmmm, everything.

I got my "smart card" at Curves today, and according to their system, I burned 235 calories in 20 minutes.

I've reached the conclusion that 235 calories is nothing when you eat 5,000 calories at dinner because you haven't slowed down to eat all day.

We took the truck into the shop on Thursday, and 7 mortgage payments later, it's in tip-top shape. Woohoo.

You know how else you burn 235 calories? Procrastinating and then running around like madwoman trying to get everything done.

If I don't buy an athletic bra soon I'm going to have to tuck my boobs into my sweats before I work out.

The Mister made me a green smoothie and put in so much agave my teeth saved me the trip to the dentist by jumping out of my mouth and into the trash. I am now nursing a migraine and trying to flush out the world's worst sugar rush with a gallon of water.

And, hey! Guess what! We have a giant Expedition and with the car seats and all our gear, we can only fit 4 people! We have one of the biggest cars on the road and I'm pretty sure we're going to have to coat my mom in Vaseline if we expect her to fit in the truck with us. So, if you see a Grapes of Wrath type vehicle on the 395 this weekend, honk and say hi.

See me writing this post? That's called procrastination.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

Yay, progress! Maria Singleton designed a new logo for me, and Nicole put it up on a super cute splash page. While you are there, you can sign up for my newsletter, which will keep you up to date with the latest and greatest happenings in the shop.

Before you know it, I'll be announcing my Grand Opening!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Favorite Moment

Every time I think I have my favorite moment of the week pegged, something better happens. Not a bad thing, eh?

Nico is really starting to interact with us now. I love it. This week he started calling Mikey by name, or at least as close to his name as he could get with his little rosebud mouth. "KeyKey! KeyKey! KEYKEY!" I hate to be all "mom blog" on you, but it is just the sweetest thing.

And then! Today! Oh my goodness the cuteness just went positively overboard! For the first time ever, Nico offered Mikey a hug. Mikey "hugs" [choke holds] Nico all the time. Nico always pushes him away. But today he went up to KeyKey with open arms and then snuggled into Mikey's chest like a little koala bear, smiled, and closed his eyes while he patted Mikey's back! GAH! Can you stand it? Is that not the cutest flipping thing ever? To see two little dudes [3' tall and 2'6" tall] loving it up made me positively burst with happiness [and laughter].

Mikey was beside himself. He's a hugger so this was especially exciting for him (we had issues during school where he had to be told he can't hug everyone, and he must ask first).

So there they are, rocking back and forth in a big hug and Mikey looks at me over Nico's head with a huge smile on his face and says,

"Mama, look! We're married."

It's all so damn sweet my teeth hurt.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Reading

I may read all year long, but I really pick up speed in the summer. Today Mikey and I spent the afternoon swimming in my parent's pool. We later lounged on chairs, and I read from The Pillars of the Earth while he ate banana cookies. It was a great, if not entirely productive, day.

And that brings me to the question at hand. We leave for vacation in about a week, and I plan to devote at least one suitcase to books. I haven't had the time to compile my summer reading list, unlike some more organized bloggers, but I do have some books already in mind.

I want to finish The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet.

Once I am done with that, I am going to dive into the new David Sedaris book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

But what next? I'm in need of a few good recommendations.

What are you reading this summer? I ask not only because I am curious, but because I might copy a few books from your list. I love religious themes and Latin American literature, but I'm open to anything except romance novels and hardcore chick-lit. I just can't read that type of book without wanting to crawl into the story and knock the main character off her pink stilettos. I am embarrassed to say I am unfamiliar with most American authors. I've been muddling my way through the classics for so long that I'm out of touch. That said, I do love John Irving, so I might read a few of his less well-received, earlier works (of course I've read The World According to Garp--it's one of my favorites).

OK, your turn. Are you up to helping me? :)

Curves, FAQ

Apparently, I'm not the only one intrigued by thick sweats, over-sized t-shirts, and the company of 60 year olds while working out. I've received a few emails with questions, and here are my answers.

  1. The workout is 20 minutes (2 circuits) long. If you do the stretching afterward, it's 30 minutes. Each station is 30 seconds long. So I work out on a machine for 30 seconds then jump to a recovery platform for 30 seconds.
  2. I work out at 7am. Curves doesn't offer childcare, so I need to be back home early enough for the Mister to leave for work on time.
  3. I pay $34 a month. I think this is expensive, since the Mister's full-package gym membership is only $22 a month, but worth it so far. I think the price discrepancy reflects the size difference in establishments. He works out with 50 or more people at a time, I work out with 5.
  4. The workout is as strenuous as you make it, so in my case it's a good workout. You can burn up to 500 calories, depending on how hard you work. The older woman next to me can talk the entire time, and does. She doesn't really break a sweat, either. I, on the other hand, can't speak, can't stop sweating,--and at the end of the workout--can't move.
  5. They do offer a way for you to see how effective your workout is if you belong to a club with Smart Equipment. On my 4th visit (tomorrow, for those of you counting) they will program with my height and weight a little card that looks very much like a supermarket key-ring club card. At each machine station I insert the card and based on my data and performance, the machine calculates my exertion and calories burned. At the end of the workout I'll insert my card in a computer near the changing rooms. The computer reads the card and gives me a breakdown of the calories burned, strong areas/muscles, and areas of improvement.
  6. Do I love it? No. I hate working out, I hate sweating, I hate exercise. The most you will ever get out of me is that it's ok, as far as exercising goes. I'm only doing this because it's good for me and sets a good example for the boys. Also, if I have any hope of losing weight I need to burn more calories than I take in. With my sedentary lifestyle, I would have to eat perfectly all the time to maintain my weight--let alone lose any! Exercising gives me the wiggle room to be human when it comes to food.
I think those were the most common questions, and I hope I did a good job answering them. Ask away if you have any more!

p.s. Sorry for the boring post!

Monday, June 23, 2008


I have them, so I joined them. Yes, I joined Curves. The bastion of the frumpy, the dumpy, the too much junky-in-trunky. At my Curves, the women wear thick sweats, over-sized t-shirts, and sensible sneakers without recrimination. The walls are sponged mauve and pink, and a garden trellis border circles the perimeter. There are no mirrors, only affirmations. Avon catalogs clutter tabletops and accent dot lettering on homemade signs tell you to store your "Keys in a cubby!" It is the place where erectile dysfunction is born.

While mauve and pink faux finishing is not my thing, I was more than happy to show up today festooned in the anti-sexy and sporting two day's worth of stubble on my legs. I felt confident I would be the most stylish one there. And initially, as I worked out alongside the woman wearing jean shorts and a tank top and the confused grandma in polyester pants and matching leisure shirt, I was. But suddenly, twelve minutes into my workout and at the exact moment I realized-- as my pectoral muscles snapped like frayed rope-- working out in an old nursing bra is not a good idea, she showed up.

I knew I was in trouble the second I saw the hair stylist smock. Nothing healthy for the ego can come from someone who can pull off a plastic apron in public. Under her smock she wore a small slip of a dress slightly darker than the kohl rimming her eyes. On her feet were Miss Piggy shoes, black leather attached to wooden, platform stilettos with fat, silver, nail heads. As she signed in, a ray of sunshine bounced off her left tricep and blinded me. The sky opened up and angels perched on clouds strummed Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver."

She came out of the dressing room dressed for a Britney Spears video audition and positioned herself several stations ahead of me so I wouldn't slow her down. It was a good move on her part, because when she got to the thigh press she worked that extension machine like the wings of a hummingbird. When she reached the rowing machine, she rowed with such force I half expected her to burst through the wall and down the street.

But she didn't. Instead, she was there to witness my own attempts at the thigh press machine. An attempt that was more lame duck than jeweled bird. And my row was more of a paddle. By the end of my workout I was dripping sweat. She, on the other hand, glistened. But all of that is ok. I'm going back tomorrow at 7am, provided I can still use my muscles.

As for my diet, I'm trying to convince the Mister that I need a gastric bypass and, after that, a lap-band cinched around my new, thumb-sized stomach. For some reason, he doesn't think it's a good plan. Instead, he has this crazy idea that I should eat right and exercise a month before I start dissecting important organs. I guess I'll give it a try.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Favorite Moment

When you have one child and you capture a nice picture of them it's a good moment. You're happy and pleased as punch.

Father's Day, 2008. Because God Forbid they take a nice picture on Mother's Day.

When you have two children and you capture a nice picture of both of them--a picture where they both look human, both are looking into the camera, both are sitting properly, both are almost smiling, and neither one is poking random objects into the other's orifices--you better believe it's your favorite moment. And trust me, it's just a moment. Ten seconds later all hell breaks loose and life returns to normal.

Meme! Meme! Meme!

I've been tagged by several people, but This Young House and Simply Seleta are the most recent. The only problem is I did this meme in April, when the lovely Reluctant Housewife tagged me. You can read my answers right HERE, if you are interested. But, in the spirit of fun, I think I'm going to extrapolate on some of the questions later. For example, 1998 is also the year I met the Mister. Wouldn't you like to know how we met? No?! Too bad! It's on my list of boring stories to tell, and soon!

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Bug in My House

For once I am happy to be outside among the bugs. The bugs out here, while annoying, are at least tolerable to some degree. I can't say as much for the bugs inside my house. While shopping in Trader Joe's yesterday evening, Mikey starting acting like a little boy on the verge of a stomach flu. For an emetophobic like me, it was very bad news.

I don't know why I am this way. I don't know why I have to shoulder this phobia like an albatross around my neck. I do know the inability to comfort your child because of a fear you can't control is excruciating. Devastating. Debilitating. But not as much as the fear itself. The fear always wins, and the disappointment I have in myself collects in my stomach like bile, leaving me to feel just as nauseous.

I can postulate any number of reasons why I am plagued with this phobia. I threw up as a child often due to severe motion sickness. And by severe, I mean my mom would bring a change of clothes for me on simple trips to the grocery store. I remember clearly one trip to Canada when we were living in upstate New York. I had to be younger than Mikey. I kept vomiting, over and over, into diapers. I was crying and my parents were bickering with each other. It must have been so exhausting for them, dealing with a child who couldn't go more than a quarter mile in the car without baptizing the contents and passengers. Some therapists believe the trauma triggered my phobia. Others say it's hereditary. My mother has a phobia, as does my maternal grandmother. Most likely, it a combination of both: a perfect storm of nature and nurture.

Back to Mikey. We got home, and he threw up on the Mister as he was putting him to bed. I was outside, feigning some important task. If you have a phobia, especially one like mine, you are aware. There is no other way to describe the incredible ability you develop to read body language. And so, when my radar starts to beep, I leave. But when I heard his screams, I couldn't deny the mother in me any longer and came running back.

I bumped into the Mister on his way to change out of his sopping clothes.

"What happened?"

"He threw up."

"What can I do?" I pushed the words out of my mouth like flat, heavy stones.

"Comfort him."

It was like a slap in the face. I looked at my sobbing Mikey, wet and scared and feverish and defeated by his own intestinal tract. I asked him what happened as I steered him towards the linoleum of the bathroom.

"I f-f-frowed up!" He was beside himself. So was I.

The mother in me wanted to pick him up, press his soiled little body against mine, and rock him into good health. Instead, I closed my eyes and tried to catch my breath as I gingerly tousled his hair and grazed his shoulders with my fingers. I murmured trite platitudes as my chest tightened, my breath shortened, and the cold sweat of fear trickled down my neck and formed rivulets between my shoulder blades.

I don't hate much, but I hate emetophobia.

I've looked for treatment. I've consulted therapists. It is, I discovered, one of the more common phobias. People don't admit to it often because on the Official 1-10 Scale of Cool and Acceptable Phobias it ranks a meager 1. Instead, you'll hear things like "social anxiety" or "claustrophobia" or "agoraphobia." For years I used these labels, too, but I stopped once I realized there might be other people like me, and that by being honest I might be rewarded with a comrade in fear. I truly, really, believed I was the only person with this phobia until I googled it in 2003. I was shocked to discover it had a name, and that celebrities like Joan Baez, Denise Richards, and Matt Lauer have it, too. Oh, and Howie Mandel. Probably. It's been rumored his OCD regarding germs is about emetophobia.

Sadly, this is one of the harder phobias to successfully treat. Even worse, of the four types of emetophobia, I have the more difficult to treat fear of others vomiting. For whatever reason, the usual techniques in the psychiatrist's arsenal just don't stick. There is no purple pill for me to take. And believe me, this morning when the Mister left for work and left me to take care of Mikey until 8:30 tonight, I would have swallowed an entire bottle if I thought it would help.

Somehow, I survived. I had him lay on blankets and had bowls at the ready. I allowed him to take slow, controlled sips of water and juice and waited to see what would happen. We had a couple of close calls when his stomach started to feel "crazy" again, but he never threw up. It didn't matter. If you have a phobia, you know the anxiety of waiting for an event to happen can be more incapacitating than the event itself.

By dinner time, Mikey was almost back to normal. Whatever bug made him sick had left, leaving in its place guilt and disappointment in myself. I'm disgusted I can't be there for my boys when they need me. I don't want to be a perfect mother; they don't exist. But I don't want to be so imperfect, either.

So I keep looking for a cure because I will not let this fear control me. My stubborn, relentless, terrier-with-a-bone personality finally has a purpose. I won't give up. I won't stop researching. I won't die with regret.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, well, well. (Pun not intended, but I'll take it.)

Looks like the one and only Dooce is going on Oprah's 21 day cleanse. The one I wrote about right HERE. I'll be following her progress with interest.

As for me? Blech. I weigh as much as I did when I was 9 months pregnant with Nicholas. ISN'T THAT FANTASTIC?! You're right; it's not. Whether I realize it or not, my late nights, little sleep, erratic eating, and junk food binges are catching up with me and pretty much amounts to a long, drawn out suicide. I would never treat my boys the way I treat myself, and yet here I am. I promised my mom last week (on day 7 of a migraine) that I would start taking better care of myself. Time to pony up.

I've been reading more and more books on nutrition, and am aboslutely inspired by everything Bronwyn Schweigerdt writes on her blog, Bean Diet. (Read her. She's great.) I emailed her today with some concerns about my unhealthy habits, and she provided me with motivation, scientific and divine, to move forward with a new attitude.

I am also in love with the book, The China Study. I think everyone should have it on their bookshelves. T. Colin Campbell, PhD. isn't selling a diet; he's reporting the results of numerous epidemiological studies in the field of nutrition. The bonus? Dr. Campbell actually holds a PhD in--wait for it--nutrition! And he's not a celebrity, unless you happen to be into epidemiologists over 60. Double bonus.

OK, so where does that leave me? Hopeful. I'm going to start by reducing drastically my consumption of animal products. I'm not doing Oprah's cleanse. It's too drastic a measure for me. I'll just eat how I did when I was at my thinnest and healthiest: lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Pretty simple, right? Not really, but I'm willing to give it a shot. If not for me, then for my boys. They deserve to run from their mother for at least 50 or more years.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

At Home. With Perfect Work Conditions.

We have an office in the backyard. An office. Not a "studio" or "artist's suite." It's an office. Actually, it's a 200 square foot rectangle attached to the garage. When we first walked through this house and saw the office, we immediately fell in love with the idea of working outside the home, especially since the commute was only 10 steps from the family room. The set up seemed so ideal! Late nights in the backyard with the windows and doors open...the sound of crickets and owls keeping us company while the stars twinkled above our angelic little heads. It was simple. Organic. Romantic.

We must have been high as kites.

OK, I don't hate it. I love the office is out of the house and out of sight. No messy desks for company to see. No important papers for grubby little fingers to grab and dispose of. No reminders of work while we're trying to watch T.V. But I swear to God it's me against every single bug on the planet out here.

A few weeks ago I was typing away when I heard a rustle under my feet. On the floor were piles and piles of receipts that Mikey tossed like confetti. I never bothered to pick them up (I was under the illusion Mikey would do it) and suddenly it occurred to me that all sorts of furry creatures could have taken up residence in the pile of paper at my bare feet. Knowing I have sausage toes any animal would love to gnaw on, I promptly shit my pants, slapped wings on my heels, and flew inside to get the Mister.

Jules: "There are creatures at my feet in the office."

The Mister: "And?"

Jules: "Pony up, dude. Get rid of them."

The Mister: "How do you know there are creatures at your feet, and why do I have to get rid of them?"

Jules: "Number 1, I heard rustling. Rustling. And at my feet, where things shouldn't be rustling. Number 2, I don't do bugs or creatures--you knew that getting into the deal."

The Mister: "So get the broom and sweep up whatever it is with the paper and toss it in a garbage bag."

Jules: [...]

The Mister: [...]

Jules: [...]

The Mister: "Fine."

Minutes later, with me directing the operation from the doorway, the Mister starts grumbling.

The Mister: "I don't hear anything."

Jules: "Just wait a..."

The Mister: "I don't hear anything. You're hearing things."

Jules: "Yeah, I'm hearing rustling. And you're not because the creatures aren't deaf and if you would shut your yapper for 5 seconds you would hear rustling, too."

The Mister: "It's been five seconds and I don't hear anything."

Jules: [...]

The Mister: "Fine."

Ten minutes later the Mister conceded there might have been an extremely large bug of some kind under the paper. I passed out. And then I woke up disgusted and went inside to watch T.V., satisfied that I was right, as usual.

Since then, the floor has been clean of even the smallest filament of paper. The bugs, unfortunately, are not deterred. I'm now being attacked from the sky.

Take last night, for instance. I was minding my own business trying to write a press kit. I'm right in the middle of a thought, and look off in the distance to assume my "I'm so thoughtful" pose. The one where I furrow my brow, look important, and lift my chin towards the ceiling to find ideas. Then, from left field, I get pelted with a flying object perilously close to my left eye. I look down and there is a beetle, a scarab, for you Egypt fans, doing the backstroke on my desk. After I was done running up and down the street screaming, I came back into the office and proceeded to create office supply catapults in vain attempts to launch the little piece of walking dung out the window. Instead, I managed to fling it somewhere on the floor. With my Jimmy Dean toes firmly in mind, I shut everything down and went inside to take 5 boiling showers.

It will only get worse as summer wears on. I imagine by August I'll be typing with one hand and tossing molotov cocktails under the desk with the other. Just tonight, I had to take a break from typing to remove the flying ant looking thing from my letter C key. Except I got too aggressive and accidentally squished it into the letter D. I had the head on C and the ass on D. One wing flew off and landed in between H and G, and the other was acting as a bridge between the head and the ass. It was great. I tried to use an index card to scoop up all the body parts, but of course they all fell into the depths of my keyboard. So, as I type, I am pulverizing bug body parts.

I am so throwing away this keyboard when I'm done with this post.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Favorite Moment

Children squealed with delight as they ran under the fine spray of outdoor misters. Adults faked nonchalance as they wrangled for the best positioned picnic tables. Teenagers pushed up slipping over-sized sunglasses, pulled down their slim jeans, and cast furtive looks at their reflections in shaded boutique windows. Everyone gathered to hear the band play.

While the band checked sound and set up the donation box, the crowd settled down into various stages of dinner. Some ate leftovers from compact tupperware containers. Others were finishing up takeout dinners and gearing up for ice cream. Most stood in lines that curled like tendrils and waited patiently for this century's answer to T.V. dinners: Pick Up Stix, Quiznos, Pizza Palace. The hamburger joint boasted the longest line.

One bacon cheeseburger special, one veggie burger special, and one kid's grilled cheese special, please.

Minutes later, everyone is outside, seated and ready to eat food that makes one pause given the news of poor Tim Russert. But that thought is something to tuck under the carpet and hope denial inoculates against tragedy. For now, the focus is on long, crispy spears of fried zucchini dipped in ranch dressing. Is that dill? It must be. A faint taste of dill in the ranch must be what makes it taste so good. The baby inhales his half of the grilled cheese while his brother peers over the crowd in hopes of catching a glimpse of the band. They have real instruments. It will be loud, like The Wiggles. This is all very exciting.

Who's playing? No one knows, no one cares. The line-up is always available online, but it is doubtful any of the people gathered took the time to look before showing up. The weather is perfect, the mood is light, and it's Friday. For many of them, no work tomorrow.

The first few notes from a zampoƱa, or panpipe, swirl up into the air and jump on a passing breeze. Peruvian music. Really? A few weeks ago it was Rockabilly. But no one cares. If they did, they would have checked the line-up. Peruvian music it is.

By now the grilled cheese sandwiches are nothing more than a congealed memory. It's time to dance, and if not dance, it's time to run around like a headless chicken in a roped off parking lot and call it dancing. One song. Then two. Three. Four. One "dances" while the other toddles around the crowd in search of standing water and sharp objects.

Six songs and intermission. It's time to go home, amidst the pleas for one last song, one more "dance," and the need to satisfy a sudden, ravenous hunger. It's time to go home.

It will all be there again next week. The people, the music, the family. Dill scented ranch dressing, crispy fried zucchini spears and the strains of a schizophrenic play list.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where am I?

I threw out my back this morning while putting on my bra, which should give you an indication of the out of shape fat ass I have become. I'm currently on my second muscle relaxer and writing a client's media kit. It should be awesome.

The good news is I am inching my way out of my writer's block. I have some ideas I want to flesh out on paper, and when I am done with this latest bunch of clients, I will do just that. It feels good to want to write. I haven't had the urge in over a month. I hope to finish the last few jobs I have outstanding before the urge leaves me!

I am also moderately obsessed with The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. I know it's not a new book, but I'm rarely the first one to show up at a party. Anyway, I am staying up late, reading when I shouldn't be, and taking it everywhere with me in hopes of catching a few minutes to read. I love it when I am breathless over a book, and I am happiest when fiction consumes my reality. I've missed the smell of ink. It feels good to have it back.

And last but never least, Kara tagged me to write a 6 word memoir. It didn't take me long.

I refuse to let fear win.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where is Petunia Face?

We interrupt this severe case of writer's block with an important update: I found Petunia Face!

The lovely Susannah at Petunia Face kind of, sort of, accidentally deleted her entire blog over the weekend. You know, the blog recently nominated for a 2008 Blogger award? The blog with legions of borderline obsessed fans? The blog that reminds me daily that I can't string three words together to form a sentence? Yeah, that blog.

Well, after accepting the fact there really isn't a help desk at Google or Blogger, she started a new blog (old posts still available!) you can visit called Petunia Faced Girl. I promised Susannah it was no big deal she tripped and fell off the internet. Every problem has a solution, and we can polish this turd and make it sparkle! So, go visit her, say hi, and tell your friends. Also, if you link to Susannah on your blogroll, please update your link. The new address is

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go stare at a blinking curser.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Favorite Moment

Thank you, Word to Your Mother, for making me laugh so hard I couldn't hear my perpetually sick child hacking up the last lung he has left.

If you've ever seen Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis, you're laughing, too. And if you haven't, click on over and enjoy the teeth and cleavage.

p.s. Mikey is doing better. The doctor at the Urgent Care said he has a bad ear infection. He missed his birthday party at school today, but should be able to attend the last day of petri dish school next week.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Birthday Blues

Today is Mikey's 4th birthday. He is currently in bed sleeping with the Mister in between fits of coughing. I'm going to try baking a chocolate cherry cake without eggs. Wish me luck.

I had planned on doing this with Mikey, but maybe we'll bake another one on Sunday before the in-laws come over.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Song for Mama

The Mister left for another business trip on Monday. The day before, Sunday, he spent the better part of the afternoon playing with Mikey in the backyard, hoping to make up in a few games of baseball whatever he might miss in the next few days. We noticed Mikey wasn't acting like himself when he came back inside, but we attributed it to hours and hours of nonstop physical activity. Turns out is was the beginning of a bad allergy attack brought on by something outside.

By the next morning, his nose and eyes were watering. He was sneezing constantly and had a tight cough. Naturally, I was hosting the end-of-the-year school party on Wednesday. Forty adults and children, including the teachers, principal, and school secretary and I had a questionably sick preschooler and the Mister wouldn't be returning until Wednesday night.

Monday was a blur of activity. I had planned to clean and clean and then clean some more. Instead, I spent it with Mikey on the sofa while he sneezed into tissue after tissue. When he wasn't sneezing, he was crying about his eyes constantly watering. In the afternoon, I dropped him off at my mom's and went back home to get ready for the party--hoping I would at least get enough ahead that I could finish another job I am working on. Didn't happen. I went back to my mom's and decided to just stay the night. Nico must have sensed something was amiss, because the entire day he behaved like an angel and promptly went to sleep without a peep or complaint.

Mikey slept with my mom, and they were up most of the night.

The next day, Tuesday, I waited until Mikey fell asleep at around lunch time and took the opportunity to run home, do some work for clients, and do some more cleaning. Midway through a letter, my phone rang. The rug I had ordered was about to be delivered early, and the delivery people wouldn't place it for me. So, there I was, moving furniture and 9x13 rugs all over the house with a pile of work to do and 40 people showing up in less than 24 hours. After moving every piece of furniture in my family and dining room twice, I grabbed Nico and headed over to the store to buy food for the party. Luckily it didn't take long to buy the food because my mom called and asked me to come home quick--something was wrong with Mikey.

When I got there, his eyes were almost swollen shut and were pouring water. His breathing wasn't labored, but his cough didn't sound good. He was also curled up in a ball in my mom's lap, screaming that his ear hurt. I made a mental note to rip the Mister's head off, again, for being out of town--even though it was completely out of his control.*

I rushed Mikey home and gave him his allergy medications and some albuterol. I put Nicholas to bed (again, an angel all day) and settled Mikey down in his bed while I tried to get the house ready for the party. By 10:30, I couldn't do anymore. I pushed myself until midnight, and decided to go to bed when I heard Mikey calling me.

"Mama, will you snuggle with me?"

"Of course, sweetheart." I know his allergy medications wire him up. I was hoping, but not expecting, a full night of sleep.

So we talked. And we giggled. And we tangled ourselves up repeatedly in the blankets and welcomed the breeze from a sheet-parachute. Finally, at around 2:30am, Mikey snuggled deep into my side and looked up at me in the soft, blue light of the moon that filters through blinds we need to replace.

"Mama, will you sing me a song?"

"Of course, sweetheart. Which song would you like?"

"Ah, ro ro." A spanish lullaby my mom always sang to me, and I sing to the boys. When I was done, he asked for Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star. Again, I obliged. Finally, his favorite, a song I made up one night to the tune of Fere Jacques.

"Mama? Will you sing I love Mikey?"

I love Mikey,
I love Nico,
Very much!
Very much!

I love daddy, too. I love daddy, too.

They're my boys.
They're my boys.

"I like that song, mama."

"I know you do. I like it, too."

"I have a song for you, mama."

I love Nico.
I love Nico.
Very much!
Very much!

I love daddy, too. I love daddy, too.

And I love mama.
I love mama.

And that is how, at 3am and by the light of the moon, we both fell asleep with watery eyes.

* The Mister begged and pleaded and got out early. I was running around this morning trying to get everything ready when I heard the door open and watched in disbelief as he tossed on the table two days worth of mail I forgot to pick up, all the while flashing a grin that said he just picked up 1,000 extra bonus points.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What Car do you Drive?

We bought an almost new Ford Expedition right before we had Mikey. Up until then, I was tooling around town in an electric blue Volkswagen Beetle. I've had the opportunity to drive many different cars in my life, and some of them luxury models, but I have never loved a car like I did my Beetle. But alas, we decided to get the Expedition because we were told, repeatedly, that a Beetle would never be able to accommodate a young family. To this day I wonder about that decision. On his way to pick me us up from the hospital, The Mister stopped to get gas and almost choked when he paid $50 for a full tank. And he choked again when we refilled it a couple of days later. We were happy when we were in an accident when Mikey was 9 weeks old--he never even woke up. And we are still happy every time we save money picking up furniture or home improvement supplies or make long road trips with every possible piece of child equipment we could ever need.

I just paid $75 for a little more than half a tank of gas, and I'm not happy.

Every time we look into getting a different car, like a hybrid, someone talks us out of it. The CHP officer told us we would be safer in a truck until the SUV craze is over. High elevation vehicles do damage when they plow into lower, lighter cars. Someone else told us that cars like the Prius are dangerous because the fuel cell makes it difficult to extract someone from a crash. Another person said they release all sorts of radiation that have been linked to genital caners.

My brother drives a Prius, and while he hasn't been in any crashes, he handles the LA freeways just fine. I can only assume his testicles are in working order.

I also looked into the new Volkwagen Diesel Jetta Wagon that is coming out in August. Diesel is more expensive than gasoline right now, but I know you can buy a converter and run on bio-diesel. The only wrinkle is access to bio-fuel stations. There don't seem to be any in my area. I heard you can also get the fuel (grease/oil) from local restaurants, but I'll need to do more research.

So what do you drive? How many kids do you have? Do you like, love, or hate your car? And what do you think of the Prius for a young family of four?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Uniforms and Wardrobes

Did you see Nicole's Style: June '08 post? I've gone back to it several times already to look at all the items featured.

  • My BFF, Kara, and I have wanted a crystalyn kae bag for over a year now.
  • I've wanted a Manic Trout necklace for over a year, as well.
  • The shoes are just plain charming. You don't walk in those shoes; you mince.
  • The skirt is unapologetically Scandinavian, and while I am not Western European, I'm still drawn to the pattern and color combination.

But when I first saw the style board I was disappointed and immediately thought it was nothing I could ever wear. The heels are delicate and not meant for running after a preschooler and toddler. I look best in skirts, but I avoid them because it makes bending over for strewn items in public risky. The bag has fabric panels that don't always go with everything, and I don't often have time to change out my purse. The necklace, too, is brass and my wedding set is platinum (I always feel awkward about mixing metals). But really? The real reason I thought the outfit wouldn't work is because it's too young and free for a stay-at-home-mom like me.

And then it occurred to me that I could not possibly be more uptight.

When did moms develop the uniform from which we rarely deviate? Jeans, yoga pants, t-shirts, hoodies, semi-stylish sneakers, and, of course, the ubiquitous ponytail. To lend polish to the outfit? A Coach bag, naturally. It's all so safe it's suffocating.

There are some moms who look outside the wardrobe of domesticity, but they veer down an equally disturbing path. I call them RockStar Momz. They showcase their fake boobs with lowcut wife-beater tank tops and have name brands dancing across their pilates-toned asses in rhinestones. Their hair is platinum blonde with the random black highlights. They have every possible "it" label in their possession because they depend on US Weekly to tell them what is cool. The look is worse than safe. It's forced, and I can't help but think they want everyone to think they are sexy despite being fertile.

I don't want to be sexy, but I would like to be me. And my initial response to Nicole's post begs the question: When did dressing young and free become incongruous with being a stay at home mom? From the looks of the other moms at schools, malls, and restaurants across the country, I am not the only one who relinquished style to embrace motherhood. I have treated my wardrobe with the same practical eye that, until recently, I used to decorate my house. Everything safe, predictable, unlikely to offend (or inspire), and guaranteed to last several years in a life without oxygen.

I have taken some steps in distancing myself from the Mom Club. I stopped using Coach two years ago (I still have a wallet I need to swap out--any suggestions?), and I cut my hair shoulder length to make it harder to put it back in a ponytail. Now I just need to work on my clothes.

Maybe Nicole's outfit wasn't totally wrong for me, after all. I don't often wear shoes in the house, so the heels really aren't as problematic as I imagined. Fabric panels peeking out of a purse probably coordinate with more items than giant interlocking Cs. If I look better in skirts, I should wear them--wardrobe malfunctions be damned. Mixing metals? There are bigger controversies-- like waiting until you really are too old to buy an outfit you love.