Wednesday, October 31, 2007

T Minus ---- Oh, crap

Our drive-off date is November 18th. It would have been November 16th, right after the kids finish their last day of school here in Georgia, but Kellen and Kendrie both have their final soccer game of the season on the 17th, and their end-of-season soccer parties, and what kind of parents would we be to deprive them of such important, monumental, fun-filled events in their lives? It’s all about the trophy, baby.

Regarding the move, the left side of my brain is all ….., oh, la-dee-dah ….. no worries. We’re not leaving until the week of Thanksgiving, which everyone knows is the last week in November, which means it’s practically December, which everyone knows is the last month of the year, and the end of the year is so far away from now that it feels like it’s never really going to get here so what does it matter if we haven’t heard from our movers or done one single thing to get ready? We have loads of time …. Loads --- AGES. Practically months left.

The right side of my brain is all ….. holy crap! Sure, we’re not driving off until the 18th of November, but there are only two full weeks in November before that, and the movers are coming one of those weeks, which means we’ve only got one full week of November left before we move, and TOMORROW is November for goodness sake, which means basically, we are moving in a few days and I haven’t heard from the movers and I don’t have anything ready and WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD FROM MY MOVERS???? THEY WILL BE HERE ANY MINUTE!

It’s official. Pre-Move Panic has set in.


PS. Regarding last night's Dancing With The Stars Elimination Show ... I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, but I only have one thing to say ---------------------------- THE HELL??????????????????

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Brayden: “Apollo is a better dancer.”

Kendrie: “But Helio has a cooler job.”

Brayden: “But Apollo is cuter.”

Kendrie, conceding: “Yeah, Apollo’s cute. But I’m not going to marry him until he shaves that Mohawk off his face.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Morning

Child #1 announces pancakes are too cold.

Child #2 refuses to get out of bed.

Child #3 says shoes hurt her feet, and, no, despite appearances to the contrary which include a full shoe holder in her bedroom, she actually does NOT have any other single pair of shoes that can be worn to school this day. MUST wear painful shoes, complaining all the time about how they hurt her feet.

Child #2 announces pancakes are too hot.

Child #1 decides TODAY is the day she needs to take all the soda can tabs to school and gets angry when you won’t let her dig through the trash to retrieve them. Never mind she’s had all weekend to get this organized.

Child #3 cries when you can’t magically go to store and somehow purchase new pair of shoes before school.

Child #1 makes big production of re-heating pancakes, several times, including slamming of microwave door, and much huffing and puffing, to get them to the proper hot-enough temperature.

Child #3 announces she doesn’t want pancakes, but would prefer chocolate pudding for breakfast.

Fine. Whatever.

Child #3 cannot get peel-top off of chocolate pudding, but rather than calmly asking for help, throws a tantrum, flings pudding container on the breakfast table, throws down her spoon, and announces shrilly that “SHE’S NOT EATING BREAKFAST ANYWAY!!!”

Child #2 doesn’t understand why brushing his hair with his fingers isn’t good enough.

Child #1 confesses she only brushed teeth for a few seconds, then gets righteously indignant when you suggest she return to the bathroom for a re-brush.

Child #1 throws incredible tantrum when you have the audacity to ask if her hair is brushed, because WHEN she ignored your suggestion the night before, that she brush her hair after her bath, she ensured a total rat’s nest for herself this morning, but the parental announcement that you are “GOING TO CUT THAT SHIT OFF IF YOU CAN’T START BRUSHING IT” is met with much tears and drama.

Female parent refuses to open chocolate pudding until Child #3 can ask for help properly and politely, instead of rolling around on the sofa, crying about how nobody loves her.

Male parent confirms chocolate pudding lid is indeed defective, opens said pudding, and then slinks off to work like the coward he is.

Child #1 highly offended by parental observation that piling personal belongings in a corner does NOT qualify as “cleaning bedroom”.

Child #3, after being told to pick her cleats and shin guards off the living room floor, moans aloud “Why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?”

Child #1 is finally dressed, teeth and hair brushed, but refuses to pick out a snack.

Child #2 is finally dressed, teeth and hair brushed, sort of, but refuses to get a jacket.

Child #3 is finally dressed, teeth and hair brushed, but half way around the corner to school remembers something she forgot in her bedroom, necessitating a return trip to the house.

Children dropped off at school.

Female parent wonders if 8:35 am is too early to return to bed --- with a very large bottle of wine.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

An 8-yr old Interview

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? To run really fast.

What was the last chore you did? Empty trash cans. The ones in the house.

What was the last movie you went to see in the theater? I’m forgetting the name of it. Wait, hang on. What was the name of that new movie that just came out?

What he is your favorite song? The Cheating Song {Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood}

Do you get an allowance? How much? Ten dollars, as long as you do all your chores.

How do you get to school? My mom takes me to school and I ride the brown bus home.

What do you like to eat for lunch? Nachos. And hot dogs. And mashed potatoes. And peaches.

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done lately for someone in your family? Told Daddy the truth about something. But I don’t want to talk about it anymore since Daddy already took money off my chore chart for it.

What makes you mad? When Brayden and Kellen sing that song {Run, Joey, Run} and then it gets stuck in my head.

Where would you like to go on vacation next year? Georgia, because all my friends are here.

What do you think of the house we are going to move into in Oklahoma? Lager won’t be able to get up the stairs.

What would be the most perfect pet in the world, and what would you name it? A dog and I would name it Lager Jr. And a hamster and I would name it Willy since our hamster in kindergarten named Willy died but then Nicholas bought a new one.

Who is your favorite relative and why? My cousin Lawson because he’s almost my age and we play games every time I go to his house.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mickey Mouse Club

Yep, Grandma J, I remember learning the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, and other music, for a Disney-inspired PTA performance we did in elementary school.

I remember there was a boy a grade below me named Brent Rains who was made to dress up like Pinnochio, and told to "dance around, all jerky like a puppet" and I remember thinking I wouldn't have wanted that job because he looked a little spazz-y until my mom mentioned, "You guys are eight --- ALL of you are spazzy"

And I remember another little boy they dressed up like Tigger with a big ole', huge, round, paper mache head that bobbled and wobbled when he bounced up on stage, and that also probably impaired his breathing, and killed gobs of youthful brain cells, what with his face being surrounded by glue and all, but hey, what did it matter, at least he looked cute. And I remember, clearly, distinctly, remember thinking, "Tigger's head is going to fall off and the little kids are going to be fuh-reeked out", not even realizing that I was a little kid myself and shouldn't *I* have been fuh-reeked out by our teachers dressing us up like puppets, and animals with paper mache heads???

Ah, yes. Happy childhood memories.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Sad State of My Elementary Education

Ok, seriously. I obviously got RIPPED OFF in elementary school! First I can’t spell, and now I find out I’m practically the only person in America who never learned the Nifty Fifty State song. Blaine, by the way, swears he doesn’t remember singing anything *before* the states, but does remember the “North, South, East, West, Oklahoma is the state we love the best” or whatever that part is at the end. Fine, whatever.

But I got gypped. I never won any cool coffeehouse bets, or passed a college geography test with flying colors, OR won a beer in a bar with this knowledge. The only time *I* ever got free beer was on Penny-Longneck night, if I found spare change in the parking lot. Thank goodness you kind people shared the Nifty Fifty YouTube link with me so I can at least learn it now. (Although you know I won’t, because the precious few brain cells I have left must be saved for high-impact learning like the new version of Photoshop and figuring out who got eliminated on Dancing With The Stars.)

It does make me wonder why my elementary school never taught us this song. It’s genius, I tell you, pure genius. I do remember learning the Mickey Mouse theme song in music class …. How is *that* important? It also makes me wonder if they’re teaching it now, or if I need to push to get it included on the curriculum. After all, Blaine and I worked our living situation pretty hard to get our kids in this same school district, and they’ll be starting there next month. Have I doomed them to a Nifty-Fifty-free life? Oh, the shame and horror if I have.

Well, I’m off to practice. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas …. Something, something …. La-la-la- ….. some c states, and Delaware … then maybe Florida ….. God, I suck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The State Song -- A Challenge for You

At my children’s public elementary school here in Georgia, every morning they say The Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and “have a moment of quiet reflection on the anticipated activities of the day”, much to the horror of the ACLU. Back in the day, at my own elementary school in Oklahoma, we skipped the Star Spangled Banner, but said the Pledge and recited The Lords Prayer aloud, which I’m sure would have turned that O’Hare chick in her grave, had she been dead yet, but she wasn't. Blaine attended another elementary school not far from me, where they also did the Pledge, but instead of the Lord’s Prayer, they took a more geographical-historical route, and every single morning sang something he has long since called “The State Song.”

Basically, it is the complete listing of all 50 of the United States, in alphabetical order, set to music. Blaine has tried to teach it to me several times, but since the music is lodged firmly in his head, and he can’t play an instrument or display it to me in any other way, I can never get past the first five or six states before losing the rhythm entirely. Blaine always gets frustrated with me, “No, no, that’s not how it goes!” and I have to remind him it’s like trying to teach somebody how to do the Time Warp with no music --- it just doesn’t work.

But back to the song ---- it starts out quick, there’s a rapid rolling part in the middle, lots of Proper Pronunciation, with emphasis on certain syllables, and a BIG FINISH on WyOOOOOming! It sounds quite fun and educational, and I really wish they had done it at my elementary school, as well, because even to this day, Blaine sings loud and gets excited and pumps his fist in the air on the final note and damn, if that isn’t some fun, I don’t know what is.

Fast forward ten or twelve years: One of Blaine’s favorite stories is about an ROTC instructor he had in college. This guy was a pompous little ass, short in stature and character, with a huge Napoleon complex. At the time, he acted SO grown up and worldly because he was a CAPTAIN, for goodness’ sake, and everyone should RESPECT THE RANK, which just makes me giggle now because dude, most Captains are in their late twenties, so just how mature could he have been? But he definitely enjoyed lording it over the cadets and impressing them with just how wonderful he thought he was, and all the life-military-experience he had. Needless to say, Blaine couldn’t stand him.

One morning, he had all the cadets in his class, and he told everyone to get out a sheet of paper. Told them to number the paper one through fifty, and then made the following comment: “OK, you guys think you’re so smart? Let’s see how many of you can name all fifty states. You’re going to be DEFENDING them, you should at least be able to name them ….. you’ve got five minutes …. Go!”

And as people started scrambling, mentally scanning US maps in their head, Blaine looked calmly at the teacher, raised his hand, and with an innocent-yet-totally-ha-ha-conniving expression, asked: “Do you want this list in alphabetical order?” The captain sneered at him, thinking no doubt Blaine was being a wise-ass, but in record time, before anyone else in his class had even come close, Blaine handed in a perfect list, of the fifty United states, in alphabetical order. Got up, walked out of class, and gloated about the look on his instructor’s face the rest of the day. All thanks to the State Song he had memorized when he was in elementary school.

When he came home and told me the story, I laughed. And congratulated him. And then I laughed some more, in a smarmy way. Sure, I was pleased for Blaine that he’d been able to best that arrogant twit, but still ….come on, really …. How hard could it be? Fifty states? {shrug} I could do that. I could *probably* even mange them in alphabetical order. At the time, I was working at a nation-wide insurance agency, and our department was arranged geographically. Each girl handled certain states, and we all knew who handled what …. So all I had to do was go through the list of co-workers in my head and write all the states down. Easy-peasy.

Except it wasn’t.

Except it’s NOT.

I wasn’t able to list all fifty states that day. It was maddening. And humbling. Oh, and did I mention maddening?

Every time I’ve ever tried it through the years, I’ve missed at least one or two states. I’ll scour the list, certain, positive, 100 percent sure that I’ve got them all listed …. But I’ll have only gotten to 48 or 49. And I’ll make comments like, “What the hell?? I’m missing NOTHING --- they are all here!!! So why am I two states short???” And then I’ll consult a map, and figure out which states I’m missing, and I’ll want to smack myself, because normally it’s a state right next to my home state, or a state I’ve even LIVED IN, or something ridiculous like that. Seriously, it can drive you crazy.

We’ve had friends try over the years --- very, very few can do it. Bright, intelligent, educated people. But it’s so hard to list all 50!! I tried it again today, before typing this journal entry, just to prove, just to SHOW MYSELF, that I could do it. This time, I would be successful.

I only got 47. Possibly my worst attempt yet. Obviously, all the years of being a stay-at-home mom have sucked the brain cells right out of my head.

So, this journal entry originated when Blaine was performing (ie, showing off) the State Song to our children the other day, and promising them that he would teach them how to sing it, all the while I’m scoffing in my head because seriously, Blaine, you STILL can’t play the piano so how are you going to teach someone a song with no music????

But this entry ends with a challenge for anyone who is reading this. Get out a sheet of paper. Number it one to fifty. Set a timer for five minutes. See how you do. And bonus if they’re in alphabetical order. Big huge super bonus if you get as frustrated as I always do. And no fair if you already know the State Song.

Leave your results in the comments section. I’ll leave mine there, too, because if I tell you *here* which three I missed, that’s cheating. But I will give you this hint: There are a lot more damn “M” states than you think there are.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I will miss …..

As the time for our move draws nearer, I’ve started recently doing what I always do before a move --- analyzing all the things we’ve loved about our current home and what I’ll miss when we leave. Besides the obvious and predictable (friends, school, etc, yawn) it’s usually local restaurants that top the list, since I know I’ll most likely never get another chance to eat at these places.

I had one of those moments this past weekend. The kids had friends with them, and Blaine and I took them all to the kid-friendly (see also: cheap) local pizza parlor called Stevie B’s. Similar, I think, to what a CiCi’s Pizza might be? Not sure, since we don’t have those here. Basically, a relatively decent pizza buffet (with, I might add, the most pathetic salad bar I’ve ever seen) and a small arcade area, where the kids can go through five dollars worth of tokens apiece in about forty-five seconds flat and then squeal with glee to go to the ticket exchange counter and discover they’ve earned enough tickets to trade for a plastic spider ring, a pair of Chinese finger handcuffs, and three Tootsie Rolls. Ah, to be eight years old again and have no concept of the value of money.

While my kids will certainly miss the buckets of cinnamon jaw breakers and vampire teeth, all there for the winning, you know what I’ll miss? One of their specialties, the Baked Potatoe Pizza. Can you think of anything more delicious for a carboholic like myself? Pizza crust, with an alfredo-y, ranch-dressing-y sauce, then thin slices of potatoe, bacon pieces and cheese. It is like heaven on a plate, if you ask me. Really, I can think of nothing more perfect in this world, except perhaps Brad Pitt’s ass.

Although, the item that will rank highest on my “What I WON’T miss about Georgia” list came to light today: the fact that it’s the fourth week in October, and I’m still wearing summer clothes. This time of year, I should be sporting my favorite jeans, a fuzzy and oh-so-warm ultra-fleece pullover, and a great pair of boots. Not shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals. Didn’t Mother Nature get the memo about me not shaving after October 1st? What’s up with this eighty-five degree weather the week before Halloween? And the humidity, my GOD, the fecking ninety-bazillion degrees of humidity, who the hell ordered that? It’s like walking around outside with a wet rag on my face, and you all know how I feel about that. **And** the humidity does such lovely things to my hair (she said sarcastically.) No shaving, and no sweating. Those are my rules for October, but it doesn’t appear anyone is paying attention. Especially not the gobshites in charge of global warming.

(Why, yes, “fecking” and “gobshites”. I just finished another Marian Keyes novel, how did you guess?)

I think I’ll go have me a piece or two or seven of baked potatoe pizza, to make myself feel better about this weather, except then I’ll most likely gain another five pounds and schlepping this giant body around in this kind of Amazon jungle weather will probably give me a heart attack.

So, what was I saying? About how much I’m going to miss Georgia???

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Rainbow Flag Appears to be Drooping

OK, let me just say it up front, since I’m sure I’ll be accused --- no, I’m not homophobic. I’m not anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-anything-that-is-not-a-typical-nuclear-family-with-two-point-five-children-one-dog-and-a-minivan. I had a gay best friend in my 20’s and spent more time dancing in gay bars than straight ones. Some of my favorite co-workers have been gay. I *liked* the purple Teletubby; I thought Will and Grace was hysterical; I have lots of George Michael downloaded on my iPod, I have gay friends now; and a few of the best parents I know are gay. So,ok? We clear there? I have no problem with the gayness.

Why, then, am I so disappointed in the recent announcement by JK Rowling that Albus Dumbledore is gay? That he [quote] “fell in love with Grindelwald [a bad wizard he defeated long ago], and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent, but he met someone as brilliant as he was and, rather like Bellatrix, he was very drawn to this brilliant person and horribly, terribly let down by him." [end quote]

First of all … what? Excused Dumbledore? Excused him from what? For falling in love with the wrong person, or with a person who turned out to be completely different than what Dumbledore thought he was? I mean, that pretty much fits the bill for the majority of the human race at one point or another, so why does he need to be excused for it?

You know how I want to remember Dumbledore? I want to remember him as being the greatest wizard ever known. I want to remember him as a brilliant, kind, wise, empathetic, good-hearted, astute, prudent, almost-father-figure. (Yes, I know he's imaginary --- I just really loved him.) Gay or straight, I don’t care. But why are we bringing it up NOW, when the story is done??? I don’t understand --- How is his sexual orientation even remotely important here?

I’m sorta confused. Was there a story line or plot line I missed? Whether Dumbledore was gay, straight, trans-gendered, asexual, or worked nights as a Chippendale dancer --- what does it even matter? I would have been equally disappointed if she had blurt out that he was from the Wizarding equivalent of stereo-typical-Mormon-Ville and had twelve wives, or that Madame Hooch had a husband and four kids at home we never got to meet, or if she had mentioned after the fact that Professor McGonagall was a hooker who wore leather boots and a saucy bustier under that black robe of hers ---- Why does it matter? It changes nothing of the story, it’s not relevant, or significant to anything that happened, and as long as she’s not writing any more books, why put out new information at this point?

She obviously wasn’t opposed to developing relationships throughout the books --- there were quite a few hetero-relationships that occurred during the series -- Harry and Cho, Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermoine, Hagrid and What’s-Her-Face, the Giantess, Tonks and Lupin (although seriously, did her name have to be *Nymphodora*??? That’s a little inappropriate, isn’t it?) Bill and Fleur, etc, even the mention of the unrequited love Snape felt for Lilly. If she had wanted to work a gay relationship into the story for Dumbledore, fine. I WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE WITH THAT. It’s certainly not that amid all this yin and yang-ness I begrudge one measly little homosexual relationship ---- it’s that there WAS NO relationship in the book for Dumbledore at all, so why does this have to be mentioned now? I feel a little bit like I’ve been tricked. I had finished reading the books, and mentally put everyone in the place I felt they belonged at the end of the story. JKR ended book 7 with a nice little synopsis that was very satisfying for people like me, who like their packages tied up neatly at the end with shiny bows. My middle name is “closure” and I thought I had gotten it. Now? Not so much.

Now, I need to revise my opinions and beliefs about Dumbledore because he is not the person I thought he was. Not because I like him any less, but because now I like him *differently*. I had never given one minute’s thought to his sexuality. Why would I? It didn’t matter. It wasn’t even on the horizon --- at all. Not even a SPECK on the horizon! Now, this changes things. Now, as Kellen and I prepare to begin reading The Prisoner of Azkaban together, having just finished The Chamber of Secrets last week, I can no longer sit back and just enjoy them with my son. I’ll be hyper-analyzing the story, looking for hidden meaning in her words, searching for clues that I missed the first ten times I read the book. Clues that will help me understand Dumbledore, (who is, in my opinion, one of the most freaking awesome characters ever invented in literature) a little better.

So, see? I’m not happy that he’s gay. Because this means more work on my part. I told you, I’m not homophobic. I’m just lazy. And as far as I’m concerned, this is all wrong because it means I’ve got to start thinking again. Geez, I hate that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Our Child Prodigy

So, Kellen came running in the living room tonight, animated, bursting to tell us about something … something obviously very “cool”, something obviously worth sharing ---

Kellen: Mom, Dad, listen to this, listen to how cool this is! {eyes glittery, big smiling face, clearly very excited}

Kristie: Ok, what?

Kellen: I just went in your bathroom ….

Kristie: Uh-huh ….

Kellen: And got on your bathroom scale ….

Kristie: Yes, I see …. {thinking to myself, woo-boy, this is fascinating stuff indeed}

Kellen: And I weighed 70.0 pounds!

Kristie: Wow, 70 pounds, that’s a lot {*that* is what this kid is excited about??? That he finally hit 70 pounds? Sheesh, he’s sure easily entertained}

Kellen: 70 pounds, Dad, did you hear that?!

Blaine: Um, yeah. 70 pounds. That’s a lot, huh?

Kellen: But this is the cool part --- are you listening? THEN, I pooped, then I weighed myself again, and I only weighed 69.5 pounds!!!! That means I was half a pound less!

Total silence.

Kristie: Wow, that’s um. Hmmmm. I don’t even know what to say to that. I guess, um….. good job?

Blaine: For what? His math skills, or the other?

So, in a nutshell, now you understand why Dancing With the Stars is the cultural highlight of our week, don’t you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why He's a Keeper, Cancer and All

Because when a prospective renter for our house here in Georgia called yesterday, at 4:15pm, to ask if he could stop on his way home from work and pick up his wife, then come see the house ... "in about half an hour" .... this is what Blaine started doing.

He didn't try to finish watching any tv shows, or lounge around on the sofa scratching himself, or pretend he was busy in the garage "supervising" the children. He just grabbed the swiffer-thingy and jumped right in. Like he always does. Which is one of the reasons why me and my sparkly clean mini-blinds love him so.

And thank you Lord, that apparently that lovely couple were so blinded by the shine of my clean mini-blinds that they didn't notice the pile of toys shoved in the corner of Brayden's room or the dirty pajamas hidden under the pillows on Kendrie and Kellen's bed, but said they loved the house so much they agreed to rent it right then and there, because despite all my talk and bravado and confidence that things would turn out fine, I was getting a teensy bit worried we would have two mortgage payments to make without any rental iincome and even a diet of beans and rice every night wouldn't have made it possible.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why I try to never take them out in public. Ever.

You know those parents; those sick, twisted, masochistic parents, who turn a simple trip to the grocery store into educational and high-quality family time? You know who I’m talking about? The ones where the husband AND wife AND the kids go to the store together, and each parent pushes a buggy containing a kid or two, with the wife giving the husband instructions on which kind of peanut butter or breakfast cereal or dishwashing detergent to select …. Or worse, the moms who are in the produce section, helping their toddlers learn their colors by “Ok, little Johnny, point to the RED apples … good! Now point to the GREEN apples … excellent!” Or helping them learn their numbers by opening up the egg cartons and counting to twelve together --- you know the ones I’m talking about, don’t you? Those parents who believe every situation is a learning opportunity?

I am not one of those parents.

I am the mom who, if we were to run out of toilet paper at the house, and I had recently been diagnosed with a bladder infection, and I had to choose between taking my kids with me to the store to buy lovely, fluffy Charmin, or using folded up cheap, generic, tree-bark paper towels, I would use the paper towels.

I am the mom who waits until dad comes home from work, so he can stay home with the kids and then goes grocery shopping by herself in the evening. I am the mom who will gladly give up a Saturday afternoon so I can go to the commissary by myself, while the kids are again home with dad. I’ve never understood couples who go to the store TOGETHER --- what is up with that? If the husband is off work, then he can stay home and watch the kids. I can get the entire shopping trip done in less time, for less money, and with a WHOLE lot less frustration, if I just go by myself. It probably helps that Blaine feels about the grocery store like I feel about Auto Zone. Or total body waxing. No, thanks. Forget that quality time nonsense. Quality time is a picnic in the park, or family game night, or a bike ride together ---- not scurrying your buggy past the cookie aisle hoping your kids won’t notice and start whining and clamoring and begging for mint-flavored Oreos.

I am the mom who, if meeting friends at McDonalds for a playdate, will go through the drive through to buy the Happy Meals, then get out and carry the food in with me. Because standing in line with all three kids, waiting on them to make their selection, and then trying to pay for my order, fill the soda cups, carry the trays, squirt the ketchup, and balance the shoes they’ve abandoned in their gleeful sprint for the play-land, seriously gives me hives.

When we lived in Ohio, I discovered the best invention ever: drive-through liquor stores. I would go once or twice a week after our morning playdates. Not because being a stay at home mom to three kids under the age of two drove me to drink … often ... or a lot ... normally I didn’t drink until **at least** 2pm, that was my rule. But the drive through liquor stores in Ohio also sold MILK by the gallon --- GENIUS for someone like me who would rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty fork than take a newborn, a one year old, and a two year old into the grocery store. Shoot, it would take so long to get them in and out of their car seats the milk would have expired anyway. But drive through liquor stores? Brilliant.

Even now that they can manage the seat belts on their own, I try to avoid taking them to stores. Maybe when they’re older, and it’s important to teach them the proper way to grocery shop, I’ll take them one at a time for instruction. Otherwise, let me zip in, get what’s on my list, and zip out again, without them bugging me. That’s my motto. It might be a selfish one, but it works for me.

Yesterday I had to fill a prescription at Eckerds and had two of the three kids with me. Eckerds has a drive through, but I needed a few other items as well, so I reluctantly took them in with me ---- because no matter how much I hate dragging them with me, I’m not about to leave them in the car unattended. I might be willing to do that, oh, say, maybe when they’re 30.

So I was standing in line at the pharmacy, waiting to be helped, while Brayden and Kellen played with the automatic arm pressure cuff machine that measures blood pressure. And they were giggling, and getting along, and not bothering anyone, and not pestering me to buy candy or toys, and I began to chastise myself for being so impatient. And cranky. They’re good kids … well-behaved …. I should just take them more often … it’s not such a big deal, right? I looked around, feeling good about my kids’ behavior, not really paying attention, and then realized they had wandered off. Well, they knew better than to go far, so I wasn’t worried.

Then, a moment later, I heard peals of laughter coming from the next aisle, and then a young boy’s voice, suspiciously familiar, exclaiming loudly: “Beano!!! Beano!!! Helps control gas! You know what that means??? It keeps you from FARTING!!!” and then more hysterical shrieking laughter.

The lady in line behind me just looked at me, and yep, you know exactly what I did. Pretended like I had no idea who they were, gazed around, whistling innocently, and made a mental note to see if Blaine is available to watch them on Saturday so I can go grocery shopping alone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Late Effects

The purpose of Tuesday’s visit to the AFLAC Cancer Survivor Clinic Workshop, besides giving us an excuse to do a happy dance, because woo-hoo, SURVIVOR CLINIC, BABY! was to get a baseline check of Kendrie and her medical/social/emotional/neuro-psych needs now that she is {almost} two years off treatment. Also, to educate and enlighten us as far as what late term effects are likely or possible and how to watch for them.

Twenty-six months of chemotherapy, while directly responsible for saving my daughter’s life, also can, unfortunately, bring with it a host of potential problems. Learning problems, gross motor skill deficit, fine motor skill deficit, etc. Most of these problems occur, if they’re going to occur, either during treatment, or in the first two years off treatment. That is the window of time after which, if these problems haven’t already popped up, chances are good that they won’t. Hence the reason our clinic wants children to wait two years before attending their first Survivor Clinic appointment. We squeaked Kendrie’s in a little early since we are preparing for our move, but still, we’re pretty darn close to two years, which makes me smile just thinking about it. Especially if you compare this week to where we were this week four years ago:

Diagnosis and beginning of treatment, Oct, 2003.

We are fortunate, as it appears Kendrie has, so far, dodged the bullet(s) for complications and late term effects. One of the chemo drugs she took can cause heart problems, but both the EKG and echocardiogram from Tuesday were normal. She doesn’t have recurrent foot drop, or joint or bone problems from the steroids. Her growth does not appear stunted, nor does her weight seem to be an issue. Her blood counts were fine (although she was MAD AT ME for forgetting her emla cream and had to endure not one arm stick, but TWO, BOTH OF WHICH REALLY HURT HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN MY MAGIC CREAM?!?!?!?!?!) and did you know Scottish Rite no longer keeps freeze-y spray on hand so all you parents out there, when you go to Survivor’s Clinic, don’t forget the emla for pete’s sake, or your child will STILL be harping on it three days later, is all I'm saying.

There are other potential problems we will need to watch for later in life --- periods of time where learning problems might crop up (making the switch from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school, for example) problems to watch for when she goes through the hormonal changes of puberty, and also, she will need to be watched by a cardiologist when/if she ever becomes pregnant. Her teeth and bones might be softer than average, and, she's at greater risk for secondary cancers for the rest of her life.

But overall, it was a very encouraging, positive visit. Kendrie is not having any of the common issues that crop up for kids who have received long-term chemo (kids with ALL leukemia). She also received different, less-intense kinds of chemo than say, brain tumor kids, plus no radiation, so in all likelihood, we dodged those potential problems, as well. She is physically active, and is doing well in school.

I left the clinic feeling very blessed, very fortunate, very privileged. Because NOTHING separates us from those kids who have these types of problems than pure, dumb luck.

Then, we arrived home, and before I realized what was happening, before I could even prepare myself for the shock of what was to come, she appeared to have fallen victim to a side effect so insidious, so sneaky, that they didn’t even mention it as a possible problem. I was so busy celebrating our clinic appointment that I didn't even see it coming. Quite frankly, it’s so dire, I’m not sure how we’ll cope. It seems that one horrifying late term effect of chemo is that my tomboy, my so not a girly-girl, my “rough and tumble, I’d rather skateboard than play house, I’ll wear blue jeans and t-shirts but not dresses, and let’s chase frogs and bugs all day long” daughter --- has been reduced ------ to {gulp!} ---- playing with DOLLS:

Oh, the horror.

I was stunned.

Then she told me she was only feeding Brayden’s Baby Alive doll to see if it would poop.

Ahhhhhh, *that’s* my girl!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Or maybe ...

…. more neglectful than the mom in the previous entry is a blogger who after being gone for over a week, comes home, only to leave again the very next day to take her kids to Atlanta so her youngest daughter can attend her first-ever appointment in the Scottish Rite Cancer Survivor Clinic, which pretty much rocks as a milestone, if I do say so myself, and I didn’t even mind getting stuck in that hellacious Atlanta traffic one last time because God willing, it’s one LAST time!

… or who then spends the entire next day taking her kids to the fair, and allowing them to ingest obscene amounts of various and sundry breaded, fried, sugar-coated and calorie-laden food items (and then puts her middle son on a spin-y ride which was perhaps not such a good idea) but hey, we walked what felt like twenty-seven miles up and down the mid-way today so surely we burned off *some* of those calories? Right? Oh, and did I mention that I damn near killed myself eating a caramel apple? But that’s a story for another day.

For now, though, I must go. And frantically clean my house. Because wouldn’t you know, the day *after* my twelve-day extravaganza of totally and completely neglecting every household chore known to man, we’ve received the first serious inquiry for potential renters for this house, and they are coming TOMORROW to look at it. To look at the rooms which haven’t been dusted or vacuumed for two weeks, the dining room whose floor needs to be mopped because the dog pee’d on it yet again yesterday afternoon (note to self: next time you spend the entire day in Atlanta, put him outside. The old boy’s bladder just isn’t what it used to be) The kitchen which, despite my not cooking anything in it for the past two weeks, still manages to be cluttered and messy, the master bedroom which looks like a Samsonite factory threw up in it, what with the only-half-emptied suitcases here and there and everywhere, and the kids’ bedrooms, which, well ….. God help us. In fact, I should get off the computer this very instant and inquire about renting a back hoe.

Wish me luck.

PS. On a more serious note, please visit this site. This family has been through enough. ENOUGH. They need prayers, good thoughts, and encouragement. They deserve to catch a break.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What is ...

... the only thing more neglectful than a mom, abandoning her children to a weekend of grilled cheese sandwiches and too much soda and excessive tv watching** so that she can spend the weekend visiting friends in NYC????

A mom who is home less than 48 hours before leaving again to spend a long weekend scrapbooking in Pennsylvania with her girlfriends.

**I'm totally kidding. Blaine is a fabulous stay-at-home dad the times I go away, and in fact, would probably make a better house husband than me. Plus, the kids LOVE the soda and excessive tv watching.

Also, to the general public of the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport from Thursday morning: the human dandelion you saw walking through your jetways was me. Deciding to park in long-term (ie, cheaper, NON-covered) parking during a wicked downpour, pelting, thundering rainstorm was perhaps not the best idea for someone with naturally coarse, frizzy hair. So I'm sorry for any small children I might have frightened yesterday. All the flat irons in the world are no match for Mother Nature.

Note to self: Umbrellas INSIDE suitcases really do no one any good. Moron.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You asked for it .....

… so here goes. I’m not sure the story of the tattoos is really that interesting, although in hindsight, it did involve scary-biker-men who didn’t speak English and prostitutes, so maybe it’s a little out of the ordinary after all.

Everyone knows in life, that if you want a child, or even better, a rebellious teen or young adult, to do something, just tell them that they can’t. Such used to be the case with tattoos in Oklahoma when I was growing up. Oklahoma was the last state to legalize tattooing (at least I *think* it’s legal now) but when I was growing up, tattoo parlors were illegal. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, but I am nothing if not a rule follower, so was never willing to go to any of the unregulated, “underground” tattoo parlors in the city. Not that I even knew where any were. Because, yeah. I’m pretty much NOT in the cool crowd, so wouldn't have even known where to go. But like every other young adult from Oklahoma who was told she COULD NOT GET A TATTOO ABSOLUTELY NOT ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND IT’S AGAINST THE LAW, MISSY, I always wanted one.

So when Blaine and I traveled to Germany on vacation (1994, maybe?) to visit his brother and sister-in-law, I got a wild hair to get a tattoo. What better holiday souvenir, right? So one night, Blaine and his brother left for a boy’s night out, and no, it didn’t actually INVOLVE prostitution, at least not in the sense that anyone paid for or received sexual favors, of course not …. But let’s just say that prostitution is a very above-board, legitimate profession where they lived and since Blaine had never actually stepped foot in a house of ill repute, especially a classy house of ill repute, he JUST HAD to go see what all the fuss was about. In other words, gawk at pretty, scantily-clad women. Sort of like eating at Hooters in this country, only with way more potential. So off they went.

My sister in law and I went out and shot a few games of pool (Who am I, The Female Hustler?) and then headed to the local parlor. I kept thinking about how cool this would be, to get a tattoo in a foreign country. I thought about what a great souvenir it would be, and thought about what a neat story it would make. What I *didn’t* think about, unfortunately, is what image I wanted to get tattoo’d on my body. Which meant I had to make my choice from the selection they had at the shop.

Oh, my.

Skull heads with bleeding eye sockets, naked women on the backs of Harleys, she-devils, fire-breathing dragons, etc. ….. shockingly, no Polly Pockets or Care Bears anywhere. Seriously, not one single image I was willing to have permanently placed upon my body. My sister in law suggested one of those Chinese sayings, maybe the sign for “love” or “happiness”, but I’ve always been a little suspicious that some tattoo artist with a warped sense of humor would put the sign for “gullible asshole” on me, and that just wasn’t a chance I was willing to take.

So I decided to design my own tattoo, perhaps not the best idea for two reasons. Well, three. One, I have no artistic talent whatsoever. Two, the artists, big scary German bikers guys, were waiting for me and not the most patient in the world. I’m not very quick on my feet so had trouble coming up with anything original under the gun like that. Three, and perhaps most importantly, neither of the gentlemen spoke any English.

I decided on getting my initial, the letter “K”, in a nice cursive script, with a trail of roses curving around the back (straight line) of the “K”. Personal, simple, feminine, what could go wrong? I wanted the tattoo on my waist area so it wouldn’t be readily visible, that much I knew. I got into position on the chair-recliner thing, and he got started. Naturally, I couldn’t see what he was doing. My sister-in-law, who is a very artistic type of person, kept making these strange faces, and saying things like, “Oh, yes, I see. That’s, yes … oh, um, ok.” I guess things weren’t going well.

When he finished, I assume he asked if I liked it, but since I spoke no more German than he spoke English, I couldn’t be sure, so I just paid him and left. We headed back to the bar where we had been playing pool earlier, where Blaine and his brother were now waiting for us, in very high spirits for some reason. I guess staring at pretty women will do that.

“Well, did you get it?” Blaine asked. Proudly, I lifted my shirt on the side of my waist and showed off my new design. It was met with silence for a few seconds, then Blaine blurted out, “It looks like a cattle brand.”


I went into the bathroom to take a closer look, and sure enough, because I had been stretched out on my side when he did the tattoo, the “K” looked more like an “X” when I stood up. And instead of a delicate trail of lovely English roses, he put one big fat rose down at the bottom.

Truly, one of the ugliest tattoos ever done. And perhaps the worst vacation souvenir EVER.

A few weeks later, acknowledging that I couldn’t live with the cattle brand the way it was, Blaine drove me to Texas for some “repair” work. (Yep, gotta love having no legal tattoo parlors in the entire freaking state.) We stopped at the first shop we saw across the border, and I explained my dilemma to the artist there. He tried, bless his little inked heart, I know he tried, but I think he made it worse. He added clouds above and a rainbow going through the initial, going for a sort of happy-aura scene, but to this day, it just looks like a big fat ugly cattle brand with clouds, a rainbow, and a blobby rose, all discombobulated and slapped on my waist. Of course, I blame the tattoo for the fact I will never be hired as a bikini model, therefore, there’s no real need to diet. So in the end, it has served me well, don’t you think?

But I still wasn’t happy. I wanted a tattoo that would look nice, darn it, a tattoo I could show off with pride! So for my 30th birthday, we spent the weekend in Dallas with a group of friends, and I treated myself to another one. This time, I went to a very well-known parlor in Deep Ellum called Tiggers. I had my image selected already (hey, I wasn’t making the same mistake twice) and knew right where I wanted it. For that tattoo, I got two blue dolphins chasing each other round in circles, sort of a yin-yang design, on the small of my back. Let me just tell you that even someone as chubby as me does not have a lot of fat on the small of my back and that one? Stung just a wee bit. But, it's also served me well since every time I've ever given birth, the anesthesiologist just aims for the middle of the circle for the epidural --- automatic target practice.

The things is, tattoos are addictive. Ask anyone. (see, also: deep fried foods) So after Kendrie was born, I was ready to get another. I was 33, living in Ohio, and was well-ensconced in my Americana-country-treasure-folk-art decorating phase. So I selected an Americana heart, which I like to this day. I also felt a bit more daring, so had it put on my left shoulder. You can see it when I wear a swimsuit, or a shirt with straps, if I have my hair up.

At that point, I felt done. I wouldn’t mind getting a few more, except I’m not willing to get one anyplace that is highly visible. I think they look cool wrapped around ankles and biceps, but not for me. I wear shorts in the summer, dresses to church and work (when I used to work) and personally, don't want a tattoo that would be easily seen. I like thinking that I’m somewhat discreet with them, even though to some people I imagine that defeats the purpose.

I still like them, and I’m glad I got them. Well, not the ugly cattle brand one, but the other two are fine. I do wish that I had gotten, however, and encourage my kids all the time, if *they’re* ever going to get a tattoo, to get a temporary one. Six months or eight months or however long those things last would have been long enough for me. I could have put one in a more visible location had it been temporary. I don’t regret mine, but don’t feel the need to have them on my body until I’m wrinkled and bent over in a nursing home. But I will, because even more than that I don’t feel the need to go through the time and expense of having them removed. Am I sorry I got them now that I'm older, as anti-tattoo people always predict? No. Would I get them again if I could go back in time? Eh, probably not. Although I probably would, just to prove my point about being told NOT TO DO SOMETHING my whole life.

Next time I go to Germany, though, I’m bringing home a beer stein or nice cuckoo clock.

In Calendar Years

Kristie: Hey, thanks for washing the sheets and making the bed before I got home. It was nice to climb into fresh clean sheets last night.

Blaine: That’s ok. I sort of had to wash them because I got Ben-Gay all over them.

Kristie: Ben-Gay? Why?

Blaine: Well, this change in weather really bothers the leg where they took the bone from that surgery, and makes it ache a lot, so I was using Ben-Gay trying to make it hurt less.

Kristie: Oh.


Blaine: Hey, I forgot to tell you, while you were gone the base called and they should have my temporary false teeth ready by next week.

{another pause}

Kristie: So, in calendar years, you're 43. But basically, in physical years, you’re like, 72, aren’t you?

Blaine: Pretty much.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Super is ...

Getting to visit friends you haven't seen in a long time.

Getting to hang with their kids, who are growing and changing and turning into such enjoyable little people. And not so little people.

Hanging out in Times Square on a beautiful fall afternoon.

Taking in a Broadway play.

Mary Poppins.

It's super.

In fact, it's supercalifragilisticexpialidicous.