Saturday, September 30, 2006

Moody Cheeks McGee is Impervious to All Punishment

Moody Cheeks McGee (my three-year-old sensitive Barney Rubble look-alike middle child) is getting on my last nerve.

Today he kicked me, hit me and called me "stupid." Oh, and "mean."

I really don't know what to do with him. He's my challenge. He's my test. He's a pain the ass. He's a soulful sweetie. He's both and more.

I hate to say it but more and more distance grows between us every day because of my red hot reactions to his tantrums and over the top, eardrum splitting lashing out.

Should I take away his favorite motorcycle toys and matching helmet and boot clad riders? Should I send him to a useless time-out in the black playroom chair? Should I hit him back when he hits me?

Spanking. Now there's a topic I'm definitely not ready to broach on my blog.

I'm honestly considering dragging Cheeks to a child psychologist.

Anyone have any suggestions? Quick fixes? Books?

I'm truly at a loss tonight. Defeated. If I don't figure out how to help him I'm a failure as a mom.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Soaring High on Newborn Life-Force Energy

a brisk first bath
Watching the supple wet crown of an infant’s head gently glide out of his mother’s womb is one of the most miraculous visions I’ve ever had the pleasure to behold.

Baby Newbie, along with his amazingly graceful-in-birth goddess mama, granted me the gift of experiencing his first breath of life at 2:56 a.m. last Wednesday.

The robust, espresso-haired little guy weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and measured 19 and three-quarter inches in length. He seemed to embody a fighter spirit, as he Kung Fu kicked and punched at the chilly delivery room air while the nurses poked and prodded him with Vitamin K, antibiotic eye ointment and a brisk sponge bath.

Ever since I cut little Newbie’s umbilical cord, I’m still soaring high on his pure life force energy. In a split second baby Newbie was released from his mother’s physical being, but also forever enmeshed with her emotionally and spiritually. Thank you, Newbie, I’m eternally grateful for the honor and promise to always look out for you as if you were one of my own.

A woman can never truly know the immeasurable thrill of meeting the tender flesh of her flesh until she experiences it for herself. No one can prepare her for the infinite bliss of pressing her baby’s skin against her own for the first time. No one can prepare her for the self-amazement and hard-earned pride she experiences when she revels in the first fruitful, nourishing latch of her suckling newborn baby.

A woman can never truly know the nerve-shattering pain of hard labor until she experiences it for herself. No one can prepare her for the terrifying sensation of a zillion cluster bombs exploding in her uterus, shocking it with wave after wave of white-hot shrapnel pains that she has no choice but to put out of her mind in order to survive (and perhaps continue to make babies).

No one can prepare a woman for the soul-rattling shivering and shaking of labor. No one can prepare her for the raw, will-breaking peak of a full-force contraction. For the jagged intensity of transition. *Somehow the rest of this post which I worked very hard on got lost. I apologize for dropping off abruptly but it's gone forever.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cruddy Minivan Crumble With Unidentifiable Cream

My minivan is a bib on wheels. No, make that a dumpster on bald wheels.

Why should you care about my steadily fermenting minivan? (I'll clarify the fermenting bit shortly.) Well, I can't answer why you should care. 'Doubtful I could answer any question on three hours of fussy kid-interrupted sleep.

Perhaps you'll read on because everyone loves to hate minivans.

None of us ever think we'll grow up to drive one. I personally never scribbled "bad ass bitchin' minivan" next to Ferrari, Porsche and Jaguar when playing MASH on the schoolyard with my Catholic school alpha girl clique. What did they know about minivans when their moms hired drivers?

I think it's safe to assume that no one in their right mind ever announced, "I'm just dying to buy my first minivan!" Actually, my husband said just that during my second pregnancy. And, trust me; his mind is definitely "righter" than mine by far.

Then again, he also has a penchant for fuddy duddy cable knit cardigan sweaters, plaid anything and old-fashioned shaving kits with big 'ol bristle brushes and shaving cream you whip up your darn self. He'll tell you he was born beyond his years but you'll already know, in a good way.

In response to that last par agraph, he just now cracked, "I may be an old man but I 'got the libido of an 18-year-old!" That nobody can deny, jolly good fellow.

My husband once predicted, "Watch us get a minivan and fill it to capacity with kids." I blame him and his impressive libido for fulfilling his minivan prophecy.

So, I'm writing tonight to ask the multitudes of dorky "Baby on Board" minivan mamas out there about the hygienic state of their family's ride? Fess up to your mess and leave me some comments, minivan mafia. You know who you are. Now come clean, dirty girls.

Are your minivans as stale cheese puff and curdled milk sippy cup littered as mine? Could I be the worst minivan momstrocity slob of them all? Let's start a contest and call it "Cruddiest Minivan Mama of the Year."

First prize could be a gas-guzzling but way more stylin' than any minivan SUV. 'Say maybe a pimpin' pearlescent white Cadillac Escalade?

Thanks but no thanks. I'll settle for the smaller, more gas efficient and Earth friendly Honda Element, my favorite car at the moment. I'll take a lime green and gray one.

Runner ups could receive free, sorely needed steam clean and interior detail jobs and maybe even fully reupholstered seats and a pair of fuzzy pimp dice to match.

I can't be the only minivan mama mortified that I drive the most uncool form of transportation outside of a school bus? (I can just hear my husband grumbling to himself, "You're lucky I bought you wheels at all. Ungrateful woman, as usual.")

Like all of my life's many messes, my grubby minivan has a silver funk lining. Thanks to the lovely pastiche of Wheat Thin, Ritz Bits and Goldfish cracker crumbs scattered across the grape juice stained carpet, my family's nourishment needs are covered in the event of an earthquake or some other natural disaster. Rations for weeks, easy.

What's lurking in your minivan? You might be surprised.

I Blew Up My Blog Like an Idiot

I totally screwed up and forgot to save my customized links, etc., to this friggin' blog when I changed my template tonight. No more links. No more money-making ads (hey $24.00 isn't bad for two weeks of Adsense). No more donate buttons. No more meta tags. I blew it. Totally irrevocably blew it, man.

If I want to wake up cranky and treat the kids like crap all day I'll stay up all night like so many other nights in the past two weeks and fix my stupid mistake. If I want to actually get up on time to make sure all three of the kids' teeth get brushed, and make it to Moody Cheeks McGee's preschool on time, I'll be a good little doobie and go to bed RIGHT NOW.

Maybe I could actually give my husband some attention for a change too. How many of you blogging mamas neglect your other halves every night while posting all night like zombified blog geekers like me?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Breathtaking Birth of Baby Newbie

This morning at 5:30, on the dewy windshield way home from playing labor coach at my friend's impressively graceful birth, I noticed an anonymous quote on a mug at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. It captured my first experience cutting an umbilical cord and witnessing the birth of a new soul of other than one of my own:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away."

More on baby Newbie's 3 a.m. introduction to the world following a long, restorative hibernation. My husband skipped astronomy class last night and took the day off of work today so I can catch up on my z's.

Hopefully I'll wake in time for The Maestro of Mouth's first NFL flag football game.

"My mom will give you a check for the uniform later," Aiden, 5, confidently informed his coach. He's the only kindergarten shorty among much bigger, taller third, fourth and fifth graders. I had no idea he'd joined the team until I saw him eagerly doing laps around the field behind the others at their first practice. Nice going, outgoing Aiden!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mom - Her Very Own Last Priority

All three of the kids are asleep by 8:30 p.m. Not bad. How shall I fritter away my child-free evening?

a) Endlessly grinding pine nuts for a long-promised batch of pesto from our neglected, untamed basil patch.
b) Dutifully ironing (As if I actually iron .... Do we own an iron?) and folding a twice fluffed, twice ignored crinkled heap of school uniform laundry.
c) Chiseling the hardened taco meat grease spattered oven and sour cream smeared kitchen chairs. (Damn taco night. So tasty but such a bitch to clean up.)
d) Exclaim, "Screw it!" and gleefully blow off all my viscid nightly chores and indulge in a little mindless TV zoning. (At the moment, NBC's new Heroes show. Not a keeper.)

Hmm... Tough choice. I'll take option "d". Screw chores tonight. Screw lunch packing and all the rest. Everything can wait until morning, when finger-licking children will laminate my kitchen table in Candadian maple syrup and apple juice.

Except there's something sticky already coming over me. An inconvenient, aggravating feeling setting in. Something holding me back from my abandoned chore contentment.


What good mom would blow off oiling the wheels that keep her family in motion just take care of herself? Oh, snap. You're looking at 'er. Domestic Slackstress herself. I admit it. I take care of myself all the time. Probably too much. Can you take care off yourself too much? Can you love your children too much? Can you love yourself too much?

You know what I'm talking about ladies. Guilt is no stranger to mothers. Do any of you ever take a break from the endless care of house, home and husband to take care of yourselves, perhaps by doing absolutely nothing at all like me tonight?

Go ahead. Blow off your chores and RELAX, mama! Perhaps by simply deepening your butt impression on the couch, without building a fortress of folded laundry stacks all around your tired self? Perhaps by sneaking off to the yoga studio to relax while self-consciously trying to shield your cracked, calloused flip-flop feet in bound angle pose? Maybe that last one is just me.

Moments ago (while smuggly shirking chores) I read about infamous mother guilt in a Bitch (feminist response to pop culture) article titled "The Shame Game - Marketing the Guilty Pleasure" by Jessica Jernigan. While I kick off my severely abridged chore list from the slouching comfort of my over poofed couch, take a chore-free moment to chew on Jernigan's ideas about maternal guilt, evil guilt:

"Eloise's guilt is predicated upon the idea that a woman's pleasure should always be her very last priority." This quote refers to a video blogger on ABC's Desperate Housewives web site feature that highlights the lives of real-life desperate housewives.

Without knowing much about poor desperate vlogger Eloise or the show, I relate to the unfortunate, outdated notion that we mothers and housewives are selfish if we demand the time to care for ourselves when we have a house/apartment, kids and a husband/partner to care for and clean up after.

How dare we value ourselves and our precious sanity! Excuse me, but don't we have to be happy and healthy first in order to raise happy and healthy children? How can we possibly nurture our young from a well that's perpetually dry?

I didn't mean to leave single moms out. Not at all. I can't imagine how much harder it must be for them to schedule me-time. I babysit for my single mom friends as often as I can. Often we're lucky enough to go out on the town together while my husband cares for my kids and theirs.

Bitch writer Jernigan goes on to say, "And if a woman's work is never done, a woman's pleasure will be eternally deferred. Thus, in order to take pleasure, a woman must transgress the rules that keep her endlessly working. Self-care -- in the form of relaxation, recreation, downtime -- becomes selfishness."

Jernigan takes her stance on maternal self-care much, much further than my basic suggestion that mothers take care of themselves first and foremost by concluding her article with this:

"Guilty pleasure is fleeting and, ultimately, counter-productive. A closer look at the lives of real desperate housewives -- of real American women generally -- might reveal that they don't need a spa day so much as they need things like subsidized childcare, rewarding jobs for themselves and their husbands that don't preclude family life, and schedules that allow for a little personal time and adult socializing. They need a society in which the pursuit of pleasure -- of joyful self-expression and honest self-actualization -- is nothing to feel guilty about."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Labor Secrets of a Waddling Nipple-ation Station

Tonight I'm on pins and needles waiting for my librarian friend to finally go into labor. As her only birth partner I'm gripped with constant clock checking anxiety and jittery nerves, as if I'm the one who's percolating several long days past my due date. Been there, done that.

Selfishly, I'd like to hurry to the main event so I can experience childbirth as someone not doing all the pushing for once, and as the symbolically significant cord-cutter. I hope I can handle cutting the whitish-bluish twisty birth matter my husband tells me feels a lot like fried calamari between the scissor blades. He should know; he cut all three of our children's cords.

My friend's painless contractions are coming 18 uneventful minutes apart. Much to her frustration, they've remained that way throughout the weekend.

Her bags are packed for the hospital and so are mine, including Listerine Breath Strips, curiously strong Altoids and Binaca spray. I distinctly remember being extremely sensitive to others' sour breath when I was pushing. Who cares what mine smelled like when I was a righteous vessel of life, right?!

I went overboard, investing almost $10 into my breath-enhanced labor and delivery room ploy. I'm sure my friend will appreciate my minty freshness when the time comes. If not, I'm sending her a bill. No really ...

I so badly want to call her and check up on her every hour but I don't dare. I remember how annoyed I was during my two past-due pregnancies when well intentioned friends and family bombarded my phone to squawk in my ear, "Didn't you have that baby yet?" and "C'mon. Isn't there something, anything you can do to get that baby out?"

By the third pregnancy I finally smartened up and unplugged the phone for most of those final days, a ring-proof precaution I still take during my kids' naptime.

Naptime callers, feel free to leave a message if you must. I'd tell you to drop by in person if it's an emergency but I don't answer the door during naptime either. Unless you are actually aflame and I see you on local TV breaking news trying to stop, drop and roll your firey ass out, it's safe to say you aren't getting through to me, my kids' resident nap Nazi.

In case my overdue mama-to-be friend has nothing better to do while waiting for her Butterball timer to pop up and signal the start of labor, here's a list of tricks (some of them downright freaky, so be ready) that my midwife convinced me to try to help speed up Kade's on-and-off 29-hour labor.

The only trick I emphatically DO NOT SUGGEST is gulping castor oil. Why do I call it a trick? Because it was the biggest, meanest trick I've ever played on my nether region, which was already a pregnancy hemorrhoid train wreck to begin with. Please, please don't do tamper with evil castor oil possibilities, ladies, no matter how desperate you are! Trust me, Castor oil = ExLax on acid times twenty!

Back to my list of tricks I tried to bring my baby out of the womb of darkness and into the light (actually, he was born at 9:45 at night):

1. Walk, prego girl, walk. Walk until you need new insoles for your bad self. This isn't groundbreaking advice but walking probably helped me progress further in labor than any other "trick" up my midwife's nag champa smelling rolled-up sleeve.

I wasn't "allowed" to walk much at the hospital when Aiden was born, especially after I received a so-called "walking" epidural. Walking, my ass, Mr. Anesthesiologist.

I was numb from my hips to my toenails and higher than a hippie at Woodstock. C'mon. Walk? It was hard enough to try and keep my eyes from crossing and my panting-chapped mouth from drooling. According to my mom, I did plenty of both. She had to leave the room to laugh. Hey, mom, maybe I was just getting in touch with my inner newborn. No, really, I was high beyond crack-mom high on whatever the nurses convinced me to swallow and take by injection. Truth be told, after the Pitocin contraction hell ride kicked in, I pathetically begged for medicine. Sheer begging. Be careful what you ask for ...

During Kade's labor I was the opposite of the drooling, hallucinating and practically paralyzed bed-bound mess I was when laboring with Aiden. At eight, nicely pain-free centimeters dilation I strolled (okay, waddled) a sunny morning mile along the California shore with my husband, ate blissfully ripe strawberries and the best turkey sandwich of my life (thanks to kitchen crafty Todd) with butter crackers and sharp Canadian white cheddar.

Basically I did whatever my pregnant heart desired right up until retiring to my comfy bed to push Kade into the world. It's beyond cliche (as well as an understatement) to say that home birth changed my life, but it did. Home birth was the most freeing and empowering experience I've had yet. I look forward to the day another hyper-living experience tops it for me. I've heard becoming a grandparent is close, but I think I'll wait a few decades for that one.

Back to walking ... Walking opens up your hips and helps distract your mind. It's a no brainer, just what you need during labor. Something you don't have to think about much.

Walk. Pace. Stroll. Jaunt. Strut. Just don't run, okay, sister? The last thing we need is you eating dirt mid-sprint like I did when I chased Aiden in the park while very pregnant with Kade. My orhopedic doctor wrapped my leg in purple cast strips as a twisted homage to my first son's least favorite PBS character, Barney. The trumpet-voiced blob scared the heck out of Aiden and is likely the culprit behind his still-ongoing (and funny as hell sometimes) fear of mascots.

2. Play a game of Tune in Tokyo ... or a little thing my doula and I like to call nipple-ation.

Let me explain. My doula and midwife suggested that I stimulate my nipples to bring about more frequent (and stronger) contractions. Apparently nipple twisting isn't just for freaky-deeky foreplay, it also helps the brain release the super hormone Oxytocin, also the chemical behind the wonder of breastfeeding and so many other awesome mamas only functions.

When pinching index fingers and thumbs didn't cut it fast enough, I upgraded my nipple-ation by hauling out my Medela wonder breasts pump (the reliable Pump N' Style backpack model, which I sold on e Bay not too long ago ... ew!). I sat in front of the mirrored closet in my first son's room (no he luckily wasn't there to witness mom's nipple aerobics) and cracked up laughing, alone ... just me and my two highly irritated, grossly suction-elongated nips.

Parents and parents-in-law warning: You might not want to read this last labor trick without a barf bag handy. You might not want to read it at all, for that matter.

3. Last but not least, if all else fails HAVE SEX. Yes, sex! You too can do the do, ladies. Yup, the very deed that landed you in smarmy elastic waistband maternity panel jeans in the first place just might lead to enough cervical disturbance to jumpstart your petering out labor.

No, sex smack dab in the middle of stalling labor was not my idea. Sure, I'm perverted at times, but not that perveted, people. Blame my practical, talented midwife, Anne.

At first I abjectly refused her slutty (and grody) little suggestion. How could I possibly get into the mood with an ass rivaling the size of my overdue Buddha belly and Chianti colored stretch marks streaking upward from my crotch right through my belly button ring scar, as if I'd run into Freddy Krueger on Elm Street? (My dad always told me I'd regret my belly button ring one day. He was right, damn it. I do regret it. A wrinkled, pesky stretch mark runs right through what used to be a puny piercing puncture scar. The little bastard stretched longer and longer with each pregnancy, spawning my indefinite moratorium on bikinis and low-rise, belly-baring jeans.)

Even more effective than disturbing the cervix, to put the sex-effect nicely, according to my midwife, are the prostaglandins found in semen that help to soften, ripen and thin out the cervix in preparation for dilation. Who knew those flagella tipped little buggers actually had any function besides overpopulating the earth and sapping its already in short supply resources?

I yanked my unsuspecting husband into our bedroom after my midwife/doula team escaped our weirdo labor love nest for lunch and demanded, "Gimme' your prostaglandin stuff!" He had no clue what I was talking about. Even though he was grossed out and terrified to injure the yet still unborn, he was a trooper. He laughed the entire time and I winced, feeling like a battered big, fat collostrum leaking cow.

Of course, sex probably wouldn't be kosher in the hospital maternity ward. Nor do I suggest it. The hospital is the least sexy place I can imagine other than maybe a garbage dumpster.

Incessant contraction monitor beeps, movement inhibiting IV drips and numb legs a la epidural or spinal block aren't exactly in the aphrodisiac department. Besides, Nurse Ratchet probably wouldn't appreciate you busting into her medical stock K-Y (that stuff is gross ... and tastes about as delectable as curdled milk ... it's not meant to be eaten ... and is best left behind where it belongs ... at the gyno office and far, far away from your hopefully more adventurous than K-Y boudoir).

Perhaps the sex suggestion should only apply to the homebirth crowd. We homebirthers are crazy enough to try anything anyway.

I'd better post this twisted list now so I can get to bed early, just in case my cord-cutting moment happens to happen tonight. In the meantime, put out the good baby vibes for my overdue friend.

Friday, September 22, 2006

My Cousin's Fab Cervical Dilation Chart

I love this image as the visual anchor for a future version of this site. Now if I could only figure out how to customize my whole site and get rid of those darn freaky errors. In the meantime, thanks a bunch, Dan. You are great. I dig the simple black line labia running through the varied blue dilation concentric circles you made. What were you doing up at 3 a.m.? Just like me, night owl.

I'm off unshowered and make-up free (fab dermatologist's advice ... not the unshowered bit, the sans make-up bit) to the grocery store with Kade and Solenne to cash-in our quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies so I can drag my caffeine addicted self to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. We have no nectar of the gods (organic whole cow's milk) in the house for a pot of at-home coffee. Guess I'm getting desperate. Desperate enough to spend my last chump change on coffee house java instead of less expensive milk to put in my less expensive homemade coffee.

A neighbor joked yesterday that I earned enough of a pittance through Google Adsense to buy a cup of scorching hot joe at Coffee Bean!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Keep Your Bullets Outta' My Bubble, Fool

I'm writing to come down from a clammy three-mile run through our clone home neighborhood or should I say 'hood? Yeah, my 'hood, where last weekend there was a combination pistol-whipping robbery/gang shooting across the street from our house, an armed robbery at a McCrap a quarter(pounder)-mile away and a brazen broad daylight rape mere hours ago on a college campus I just now zigzagged through during my evening run.

Safety should not be a relative term. I wish I'd known about the rape before bounding like an uninformed, unarmed (mace-free) idiot toward the scene of the crime.

My husband is on duty tonight. Huge sigh of relief. I'm hiding out from the bedtime rigmarole while writing from my squat on the prickly backyard lawn next to the kids' flowering (and towering) jungle of purple and green basil. And I'm avoiding being sucked into the "bath, books and bed" routine while also attempting to avoid dwelling on the recent chain of exceptionally proximate violence.

Post-run muscle twitches are pinging off the backs of my thighs and (TMI warning) sports bra perspiration is gathering amid my anti-cleavage, mostly all that's left up top after breastfeeding three babies born practically one pregnancy after the other (and nursing for a minimum of eight months each and a maximum of 18 months with supernatural nurser Solenne).

The only sounds by our blooming herb and veggie garden (that daddy and the boys coaxed from hard-packed stubborn soil this summer with twenty back-breaking bags of organic mulch and twenty back--breaking bags of organic topsoil), are steady cricket songs and thundering booms from commercial airplanes taking off and landing at the nearby airport. A rocky auditory marriage at best, yet still a far cry from the recent gunshots next door.

We started gardening with the kids this summer partly to excite them about growing and eating their own vegetables (which practically cause their soda-swigging, bland meat-and-potatoes loving papa to gag when he just looks at them ready to be picked) and partly to show them the hard-earned value of seeing self-driven projects through to the end (an accomplishment they've almost never seen their slacker mama achieve. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. With eager help from their papa I completed them, didn't I? I didn't quit in the midst of pushing them out, right? At least I finished birth! So, there!)

Hey, that reminds me ... Did I finally empty the wet laundry into the dryer or is it the fridge that reeks like mold? Hmm ... that would be my third incomplete task of the day.

Short story long, as a super nice TV producer said to me today during a heavily kid interrupted phone call from NYC, perhaps we devised our family gardening experiment as a way to bring our children closer to nature and further away from the horrible things people do to each other in our world, our country (How do you explain war in Iraq and Afghanistan to a breathtakingly curious, precocious and impressionable 5-year-old?), our state (I challenge you to prove that California isn't as loopy as people say), our city (which touts the cheesy, unoriginal motto "Tomorrow's City Today." If the latest rash of next-door-neighbor violence is a slice of our city's "today" than I shudder to think of what our city's "tomorrow" brings.) and now on the very street we call home.

Ironically, a political "proposition" something or other TV ad just now aired featuring the following voiceover: "After all, our children are our most vulnerable citizens."

My very own sable-haired "most vulnerable citizens" have an overly idealistic mama who is infatuated with raising them in a romanticized "bubble" of perfection and protection. For better or for worse.

Perfection, well, that's not quite the right descriptor for what I'm trying to explain, being that I tell Aiden time and again that "perfect" shouldn't really be in the dictionary because as a concept or a goal for human beings, I believe elusive true perfection is unattainable and shouldn't be strived for in the first place (unless you're meditating your way to Nirvana ... Om on, my fellow yogis).

So what am I doing trying to create a perfect 'bubble" through which to filter my children's lives and experiences? My reasons must have something to do with my undeniable maternal instinct to nurture and protect my young, an impulse that flows thick and heavy like bittersweet molasses through my blood, the blood my children were born of, coursing from my mother-heart into theirs.

At the same time, I feel that one can protect her children to their detriment, to the point of sheltering them too much from the inevitable realities of the wonderful, cruel world around them.

I can't yet tell what my protective "bubble" is made of or what it's made to do. I just know that my motivations for keeping my kids in the "bubble," for now at least, are pure of heart and intention. That second-guessing ambivalence is me, through and through. I'm a paradox personified.

My husband is the wise-ass who came up with the term "bubble" as the home planet of my obsession with exposing our little chitlins to "passers only," that is people, concepts, ideas, images, experiences, institutions, web sites, etc., that only their ironically pessimistic, "glass half empty" complainer mom okays to "pass through" her "bubble" of unrealistic idealism, peace, love and lollipops.

Rejected items indefinitely on the outside of mom's idyllic rose-colored "bubble" (like your friendly neighborhood psychologist's tired old rose-colored eyeglasses analogy): Racists, sexists, homophobes, bourgeois elitist snobs and any other stereotype mongering, closed-minded, unevolved jerks mom can't stomach without eventually inserting her hefty size-10 foot into her mouthy-ass mouth.

Hey, wait. If we meticulously screened via lie detector machine for all of the above listed "bubble" rejects (and for many, many alternate and infinite disqualifiers I'll spare you the mention of) we wouldn't permit anyone to pass through our precious "bubble," now would we?

Maybe not even our own selves.

Naw. I take that back. We family of five deflecting the bad news of the world "bubble" dwellers, who don't yet wish to fess up to our own individual preconceived notions about groups, anything or anyone, will forever enjoy a lifetime membership and full, uninhibited access to our cozy little "bubble" of ahimsa (the Buddhist concept of "do no harm").

In time the kids will hate me when they unsuspectingly pop the foisted upon them "bubble" while watching breaking news of a violent car chase on the L.A. evening news at a play-date at a "normal," non-"bubble" dwelling friend's house.

Seriously, though, I do make a hell of an effort to screen assholes from the kids' lives while still remaining fairly open-minded, compassionate and on very rare occasions perhaps even forgiving in regards to how those assholes became assholes in the first place.

I simply can't and will not tolerate gunshot firing assholes running loose on my street, and I absolutely refuse to allow them into the sanctity of my family's esteemed fairy tale "bubble." Just you try it. (Am I going all vigilante mama, here? Potential pacifist conflict ahead?)

Also permanently exiled from mom's "bubble" of idealism are: violent TV (Are there any nonviolent shows on network TV anymore? We don't get cable nor do I ever want to, maybe not until our kids beg us into it. Mom-imposed TV age-appropriateness snobbery abounds at our pad, that is unless you are outside watching the brain drainer in dad's garage, his very own mom rule-snubbing monarchy), smokers (just kidding, daddy, and for the record I never, ever occasionally smoke cloves when I sip wine), too much sugar/candy/junk food/cosmic flourescent orange Cheetos, McShit in any hormone-laden, grease dripping, moldpress-shaped form (man, I sure miss McDonald's fries since watching the brilliant, persuasive SuperSize Me and reading Fast Food Nation) and especially in exile from the "bubble" are the few gun-toting fools running amok in our 'hood.

Helicopter lights flicker in the distance as I rap away on my laptop (and hopefully wrap up this extended rant). The mechanical drone of police choppers, a.k.a. "ghetto birds," a term I picked up not even a week after landing in crazy California from my humble home state of New Hampshire, served as the soundtrack for my run tonight unknowingly through the unfortunate site of a sex crime.

For now, back at home supposedly "safe" in my backyard, I escape into the calming, fragrant bouquet of our fledgling garden's basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, lavender and spearmint while tuning out the nervewracking buzz of neighborhood police activity and occasional wailing sirens.

From here I magically bounce it all away, off into the cloudy night sky, to any place but near my precious children and our sappy, unrealistic "bubble" of protection.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wanted: My Pre-Kindergarten Sanity

Today I was "that mom." The one you see (and pity) with the loud, whiny kids spilling out of her minivan sidedoors in the Target parking lot. The one who looks like she could just about shoot her brood, one cranky kid at a time.

The unlucky, embarrassed mom with the two obnoxious, screaming toddlers in tow. That was me today. The well put together and prettily made up on the outside but melting on the inside mama hag who crossed the preschool parking lot slow and haphazard as a drunk snail while practically begging her two youngest, you know, Solenne, 2, (Leni) and Kade, 3, to put their best clumsy light-up sandal feet forward and walk across the sun baked blacktop toward the open doors of the preschool.

First they protested in unison, then in volleying tag-team style, demanding to be held at the same time AGAIN! A recurrent theme since Aiden started kindergarten last week. I convinced kicking and screaming Kade to release his white-knuckled clamps from my tensed shoulders by leaving him in the arms of his favorite teaching assistant, Dan, the six-foot-three Buddhist gentle giant with "Why are you looking at my foot?" curiously tattooed across the top of his always flip-flopped right foot. (I felt a little guilty the first time he busted me reading his foot posted question, like a peeping Tom or something. Wouldn't you? Guess I gave him what he was looking for with a tat like that. I like it, though. It's different.)

Though Kade merely attends preschool four short hours twice weekly, eight hours a week total, you'd think I dumped him off at the dentist 40 hours a week with the way he whines and fusses the entire 15-minute ride there.

I hate asking for help (unless in a codependant wife moment ... I ask my husband for help far too much ... or when racking up lots of extra help from my responsible saint of a babysitter, Camille) but broke down and leaned on sweet Lisa, one of the head teachers, to hold also kicking and screaming Solenne while I helped Kade transition (yeah, if you call darting for the exit when he turns his back to me a "transition" ...) to outside play at school.

I did manage to plant a quick peck on Kade's tear-stained chubby cheek before bolting. The teachers advise parents to cut out fire alarm fast if their child is freaking, which grates just about all my maternal instinct nerves. But by the time your second child enrolls in preschool you evolve into more of hard-ass about goodbyes knowing the staff has ten times more patience than you do and could probably handle it ten times better than you could, at least in my case these harried days.

Post-traumatic drop-off, once I reached my thrice dented minivan (all my fault, including a lovely crack-up with a city bus that I blamed on a lost between the seats pacifier, except for the smashed driver's side mirror, perpetrator you know who you are!) I briefly fantasized about smashing not the minivan again but my on the verge of tears face into the dull gray steering wheel over and over again until my head would break loose from its shaky post.

Then I thought of how scary and scarring it would be for Solenne, who seems so lost and forlorn without her newly school-bound brothers, to witness mom lose her shit in such a violent, cartoonish way. Mostly I thought I was crazy for dreaming up any of said fantasy at all.

Instead of ramming my double baby scream overdosed spinning head into oblivion I irrationally ripped out of the parking lot into the direction of Dr. Yun's office. She's the kick-ass (and stunningly beautiful) dermatologist who gave me a hug upon entering the exam room just an hour ago or so. My tension was as obvious to her as my picked-over adult acne. Actually, she hugged me to show Solenne that she wasn't going to harm me. We conspired on the hug deal, to be honest. Leni's petrified of doctors and their exam tables/rooms since her tumble out of an RV.

By the way, I found Dr. Yun's attractive, youthful glowing skin reassuring. Would you trust someone with a pizza face with your delicate, needy skin? Doubtful. How does the good doc look so svelte, so rested, so refreshed with a five-month-old and a two-year-old to tend to between patients, continuing medical education and surgery? Three words: nanny, maid and money.

I've always hated the cramped Child Development Center parking lot because it's been the stage of so many tragic drop-off and pick-up dramas thanks to poor scheduling and lack of consideration for naptime on my part since Aiden began preschool at age 2.5.

What mom loser speeds out of a school parking lot anyway? A real, human, at her wits end mom who incidentally hasn't pounded her lifeline Starbucks yet. Thankfully it was empty at the time. No, not the pumpkin spice latte Starbucks, the parking lot, silly.

I'll have to vent more later. I fear I must now away to the shuddersome preschool parking lot once more. I wonder how much tag-team crying noise my little ones will generate this time. Every day they push my lifelong noise sensitivity into overdrive.

I'll leave you with what a glamorous brunette SUV driving mom said to me as I dragged Solenne and Kade through the parking lot for drop-off this morning: "Girl, I go through that same drama with mine every day. Keep on keeping on." Easier said than done.

Bold-lettered note to scatter-brained self: Don't forget the damn stroller in the driveway next time! Maybe even upgrade to one of your three fancy double strollers to keep foot-dragging Kade in check alongside his partner in crank, Leni.

Seems all in the family, except for Aiden, are having a tough time adjusting to kindergarten.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Uncensored Motherhood Anonymous

I've decided to begin blogging sitting Indian style (can I still say that?) atop a tasseled zabuton (floor/meditation pillow) that my husband used to lounge on when he was a Navy brat in Japan. Maybe my 'arse won't ache so badly now that I've given up sitting like a "big people," as my 3-year-old would say, on my kids' IKEA mini chairs.

Let's switch to topics bigger (I hope) and better than my backside. While putting Solenne down for her nap a few moments ago I read the first non-anonymous offering by Marcy Sheiner titled Anoymous Was a Mother. In it she writes about how often mothers are judged by society, especially by fellow moms, when they publicly come clean about the not so saccharine picture-imperfect side of mothering.

More specifically, Sheiner exposed the isolation mothers often feel when they choose the stay-home realm over the 9-to-5 plus daycare choice, the ostracization working mothers often feel when snubbed by the stay-at-home kind, the passing but often biting criticism from strangers that mothers can be subject to while out at the mall/grocery store/park or any other place outside the home with their babies in tow; the shame that comes along with admitting that perhaps motherhood isn't all you thought it would be and self-doubt and disappointment in one's own parenting abilities.

Sheiner, also incidentally a long-time erotica author, (How dare she be a sexual being and propagate the same act that gave life to her own children while at the same time being a being a mother?!) exposes the emotionally seedy underbelly of motherhood that so many of us aren't willing to admit to ourselves, let alone to the world at large.

I, like Sheiner, have struggled with the concepts of anonymity, self-censorship and the many controversial truths of motherhood. I wasn't bothered much with either, even after giving them much thought since starting my blog, until I went to a neighborhood bachelorette party last Saturday.

Who knew my suburban housewife neighbors were such scandalous, self-admitted dirty birdies? Don't worry. They know I call them dirty birdies, and they like it. I like them even more than I did before now that I don't have to be the only one bearing the Scarlett perv mama Letter on the block.

The crowning edible jewel (much bad pun intended) of the party was a vanilla Bavarian creme-filled penis cake, which was shockingly life-like with its slightly curved flesh colored frosted shaft and salt-and-pepper food coloring tinted shaved coconut ball hair. The groom is no spring chick and the confection's ever so diligent baker, my children's friend's mom, aimed to be as body hair authentic as possible.

Being the youngest one (31) at the party was a little strange, though. Younger by decades. You should have seen my ailing 81-year-old widowed neighbor ask what a dildo was during a game of D-I-L-D-O (the skanky, sexed-up version of your grandma's B-I-N-G-O).

I guess this makes me a ridiculous mom who talks about about dildos and penis cakes. There must be something wrong with me because nice moms don't talk about sex, especially not in their dinky little hobby blog. They're supposed to miraculously forget what sex is the minute their babies crown in the delivery room, or in my case, in their master bedroom. Or at least keep it to themselves.

Back to my anonymity/censorship tie-in many long-winded, parentheses littered paragraphs later (get used to it). At the bachelorette party I told one of my neighbors that I wanted to blog about the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey spin-off game of pin-the-dong-on-the-chiseled-model-poster-guy we played with our eyes closed on our no-peeking honor. No one wanted to sport a bandana over her eyes.

Totally dorky, I know. Yeah, dong, seriously. Who still says that? Some loser at the party said it after a few Solo cups of vodka spiked punch. Okay, I admit it. It was me. I'm a tool. I didn't want to toss around hardcore swears in front of the elderly, so I awkwardly said "dong". What would you say in front of someone older than your grandmother when your friend unwraps a nifty, heavily veined dildo ring-toss gag gift game?

"Why would you blog about a thing like that?" my neighbor asked, pursing her lips with condemnation. "Don't you have a mom blog about mom stuff? I don't know any moms who'd write about stuff like that! You want people to think you're a nice mom, don't you?"

The people who know me already know that I'm not that nice, at least not all the time. I'm moody, opinionated, bossy, impatient and uppity. I can be nice enough if there's chocolate and/or fine cheese involved. I can be bribed. I'll take any kind of chocolate. But the cheese, only the finest. To the strangers reading this blog, well, I can't make up your minds for you. Let me know via comments.

"What about your kids?" she asked, loaded with judgement. "What about them? How would you like it if they read your blog?"

First, none of my kids are fully reading yet ... and I'm not sure I know the answer to that last question yet. Probably a big emphatic NO. No, they won't be allowed to read mommy's blog.

The kids definitely know I'm doing some kind of work on the computer every day. Something is seriously wrong if they don't after staring at the back of my head an hour at a time while I rap away on the keyboard and shout at my hand-me-down (but still lucky to have, wonderful husband who so sweetly and generously procured it for me who is no doubt reading this) laptop when it serves up annoying errors while I try to post new blog entries.

Aiden's learning to read but isn't all the way there, so I'm not worried about him just yet. Kade knows his letters by sight and sound but definitely isn't reading. Solenne, well, she's busy lapping up her thumb and twiddling her hair all damn day, so what's to consider at this very moment? I'll have plenty to consider in the coming days.

"What about your kids' friends' moms reading your blog? How would you feel about that?" I've also been asked.

All I can say is that I've been on the homefront raising kids for five plus years and am about to blow if I don't let off some steam. I hope to give voice to the frustrations so many moms, especially moms with three very young children at home, endure every day like I do.

For as much inconvenience and irritation that I experience on the daily, there are equal doses of elation and joyous pride, all that happy, gushy stuff moms love about their kids. Lest I forget the nicey, nice stuff (which I also plan to share on this blog between bitchy rants. Otherwise, who would stick around to see what happens next?).

I can't speak on other mothers' situations. I wouldn't dare because I know how sensitive an audience mothers are. But, as you'll soon learn, I have far too much to say about mine.

Before Kade and Leni wake from their synchronized nap (that's a feat in and of itself) looking to be cheered up out of their sleepy grumping (which involves heaps of patience and alternately holding each of them while the one not being held whines, stomps and sometimes screams) I'll quickly share some of Sheiner's thoughts from her aforementioned essay Anonymous Was a Mother, featured in the book The Essential Hip Mama, Writing From the Cutting Edge of Parenting, edited by Ariel Gore, also one of my favorite zine-stresses and unafraid-to-come-clean mama authors.

For your perusal ... Here Are Three Marcy Sheiner quotes on mother censorship:

"I got stuck in rage, I got stuck in terror -- but most of all I got stuck in the writer's hell of self-censorship. I knew that if I told the truth about what motherhood has been like for me, I would be breaking a taboo much stronger than the one against sexual expression. I would be violating a conspiracy of silence that serves to keep the human race propagating. Furthermore, if I wrote about how difficult motherhood has been for me, I would open myself up to the irrational charge, frequently leveled against mothers who deviate in any way from the norm, that I don't sufficiently love my children. If I told the truth, without couching it in good-natured jokes -- that for me motherhood has been more of a source of pain than pleasure -- I would be seen as defective, unnatural, inhuman. Worst of all, if my children were to read what I wrote, I would, even at this late date, do them irreparable harm. I would be vulnerable to the most deadly epithet know to woman: "a bad mother."

"I think mothers have remained silent primarily out of fear. We are not supposed to feel ambivalence. We are not supposed to have negative feelings about motherhood, let alone negative feelings toward our children."

"It should not be necessary to state this, but part of the problem is that I must: I dearly love my children and do not wish them gone. As a matter of fact, it is precisely the love I feel for these people, a complex, many-faceted love unparalleled by any other I have known, that makes the condition of motherhood so unbearable. That I can never do right by them, that they can never live in a pain-free existence, that I unthinkingly caused them some of their pain, that the world I brought them into isn't good enough for them -- all these are sources of anguish to me. I believe that most mothers -- most parents -- feel at least some of this."

I certainly do. Do you?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Interrupted Cabernet Sauvignon Night Cap

My bearded husband and our mutual best friend from high school are sprawled out on our avocado hued matching couches (I'm obsessed with describing the color of things) watching a Mad TV "peerless leader" Kim Jong il skit featuring side-splitting comic Bobby Lee. Per norm, I don't pay much attention to TV unless its a snobby educational PBS documentary. At least I freely admit my media snobbery.

I've just polished off my third glass of cabernet sauvignon. Solenne moments ago stumbled out of her room in a fuscia (see, I love color names) "'Lil Sis" T-shirt with frizzy bed head seeking mommy to soothe her back to sleep. I thought that was one of the many pacifying functions of her cherished pruney thumbs. Here she hobbles toward me again chirping, "I just wake up." Don't I know it. Major buzz kill but quite cute all the same.

Randomly notable: The CIA is recruiting agents via mainstream TV ads. One just aired on NBC4LA. How desperate is that? Should we run ads recruiting the next Commander-in-Chief too?

Candy for Breakfast After Waking Up Broke

Yesterday I woke up before the sun to the din of Kade screaming at the top of his lungs, "I WANT CANDY! I WANT CANDY! NOW, MOMMY! CANDY NOW!" Once I realized that I wasn't in the middle of a nightmare I shuffled half-asleep in my husband's boxers down the hallway in the direction of my candy-demanding Veruca Salt. Turned out Kade had a dream that it was the sugar-coated morning after Halloween. He was convinced it was fact. "No way, man. Sorry but there's no way I'm gonna' give you candy until after you've eaten a healthy breakfast," I squawked. "Yes, momma, CANDY NOW!"

For dessert following a breakfast of fresh-cut pineapple, broken-yolk fried eggs and frozen Eggos (he actually likes to eat them still-frozen), I treated Kade to two sugar-free, food coloring-free gummy bear vitamins. Does the trick every morning. The kids think I'm a sucker because they nibble a little candy before noon and I feel like a snotty, satisfied tofu mom because I slip them additive-free nutrients on the sly. Not bad when you consider that for a long time I convinced them that raisins and dates were the only "candies" on the Trader Joe's shelves.

Like most mornings, Kade was the rooster of the house. He stirred Aiden and Solenne, who both didn't hack his cacophonic wake-up call so well. Solenne, who usually wakes up a buttery ball of sunshine ready to attack the world opened her big blues and busted into a tantrum demanding I put a pair of "lell-ow" shoes on her that don't exist and probably appeared in a dream state too.

Money. Big, fat leather twine-cinched satchels of money. Robin Hood gold coins a-plenty. The fairy tale money bags you'd imagine the buck-toothed giant at the top of Jack's beanstalk would've hoarded next to his captive golden-egg spewing swan. That's what I dreamed about most vividly when I was a kid. I'd wake with dollar signs for eyes and dash to my closet, sure that beneath the pastel piles of Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake dolls (always topped by my single silver-mittened Michael Jackson Barbie for fast "thriller" access), positive that I'd uncover the jackpot of my dreams. Not so. Dream after money-lusting dream, all I'd ever turn up were cat-hair woven dust balls and scattered Garbage Pail Kid cards worn at the edges.

Pathetically, since giving up a regular paycheck to stay home with the kids, I revisit my childhood jackpot dream a few times a year (and with higher frequency lately), when I hopefully stick my ATM card in the slot and nothing but air comes out. On piggy bank scavenging, broker-than-a-joke days like that, I tell the kids, who watch me from the van parked right behind me (is that illegal?) in the bank's handicapped parking spot (that's definitely illegal and bad Karma), that it's the ATM machine that's broke, not me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Biff-prone Solenne's Botox'd Kisser

Isn't Solenne smashing after smashing her lip? Any agents out there want to sign her up for a high-paying cameo on Nip/Tuck Jr.?

Braless Unbrushed Teeth PJ Stroll

You know you're scraping the bottom of the barrel when you take to the neighborhood (more on a recent shooting next door in the 'hood later) sidewalk in your mismatched Target PJs without a bra, littering the crisp morning air with unbrushed dragon breath and a mug of your fourth cup of coffee in your free hand. The other hand firmly grips a Jeep stroller full of Solenne. I draw the line at letting the children out in their jammies. However, I don't apply the same high standards to my dirty self. Have you ever tried to steer an umbrella stroller with one hand? Zigzagging results at best.

Thanks, Rebecca, for letting me crash your homeschooling schedule unannounced this morning with my greasy, make-up free disheveled morning self. I promise to call ahead next time, and I guess I'll even dress myself for the day.

Take a gander at Solenne's bruised ear, that is unless you are the talented, lovely pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Cunningham, who advised me to try and keep falls to a minimum while Solenne recovers from her neck sprain. Someone please tell me how exactly a busy mother of three is supposed to minimize the likelihood of falls with a bumbling spark plug two-year-old who tries to keep up with her hyper big brothers? Let me know if you know. I'll give you a Bozo button, as my sister used to say when we were kids, way before we became kid factories.

Makes me think of the grotesque boxing ears Olympic wrestlers often end up with.

Right now Solenne is diligently busying herself with snatching Kade's Lincoln Logs and ruthlessly hammering him on the crown of his head with them. Better go play reluctant ref.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Penis Biting and Baby Botox Lips

Solenne's a seasoned clutz and one of my kiddies, who shall remain anonymous, is an accidental penis biter (more on pecker pulverizing later in this post. He's going to despise me for this when he's older.)

Our baby girl is tough as hell, even if she does have two left feet. Tougher than her two big brothers. But don't tell them I said so. Let me explain.

Tonight Solenne (who we also call Leni, Leni Benny, Ben Ben and more) majorly biffed twice in a span of four minutes. First she tripped inside my neighbor's pop-up play tent and crashed face-down onto a pointy plastic toy lawnmower knob. Major owie. Her two front teeth didn't knock loose from the impact. Nope, they were just coated in fresh blood. I'll take a smattering of split-lip blood over missing teeth any day, thank you. At least now we know Leni's a fast clotter and can safely rule out hemophelia. Thanks yet again, Solenne, for scaring the crap out of mom so she could inadvertently arrive at a nice-to-know, yet overall insignificant medical revelation.

It took all of 10 seconds or so for Leni's top lip to swell up twice its already plump size. Now my poor little Leni Benny looks like an Orange County Botox bimbette. "I okay, mommy," she assured me between sniffles. How could she not pick up on my panic? A second or two later she bounced back to her Mexican jumping bean self in that damn collapsible tent. You'll understand why I freaked so badly in just a second. Hang in there.

Not five whole minutes later I turned my back on my thumb-sucking, pigtailed marauder for a split-second (How many Child Services investigations begin with lame, unoriginal excuses like that?) when I heard a huge skull-banging thud. I was maybe 10 feet away from Solenne facing the opposite direction when she fell and struck the side of her head against the glass edge of my neighbor's flatscreen TV stand. It only takes a second, as they say. (Who are "they" anyway and where can I hunt "them" down for a long overdue bitch slap on behalf moms like me who care way too much about what "they" say and think?)

As a mother to two fearless boys who constantly flirt with broken bone possibilities except for when they're sleeping, I know all too well the every-mother's-worst-nightmare sound of human cranium clashing against metal, glass and concrete. And I knew it was Solenne. Again!

A few seconds passed before she was able to catch her breath, then she unleashed a tidal wave of panicky crying. I rushed to scoop up her fetal-positioned figure from Diane's carpet while feeling like the worst mom in the history of the world because I was sure she'd re-injured her still-recovering neck. Mark it down for the record that I'm actually happy to say that I was wrong ... just this one time!

You see, a few weeks back Solenne fell out of my sister's RV, hit each step on the way out the door and finally rolled to stop on the welcome mat outside on the asphalt. How sickly appropriate to end up on the welcome mat ... Brings to mind insults like, "Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out." Her injuries could have been much worse but she walked away (that is when she was able to walk seven long days for an active two-year-old later) with only a severe neck sprain and related muscle spasms.

The poor little thing was Velcro'd and taped to a spinal paramedic board, unable to move an inch for nearly four hours in the emergency room while the doctors ordered some 1,400 CT scan photos and a dozen X-rays to rule out neurological damage, bone fractures, spinal problems. The list is too long to remember. The painstaking wait for results was worth being reassured that Solenne wouldn't end up a vegetable for life.

You can easily imagine just how over-reactive a mom can get about her child's safety after a petrifying incident like that. I'm not yet ready to revisit how deeply my heart sank watching Solenne struggle in pain while immobilized for hours on end crammed inside a tightly wrapped contraption that didn't look too far off from a straight jacket. I think the incident scarred me more than it did her. She's young enough to forget. I will never forget. It was her second ride in an ambulance in just under two years. Cross your fingers that it was her last.

This time it was her ear that was wounded. Nothing substantial, though. When I picked her up, she whimpered "My air, my air." I thought she was talking about her pretty hair being messed up in the fall because she has a tendency to be such a diva about her 'do. She pointed at her right ear. I felt like an idiot for not understanding what she was saying right away. It's frustrating when you can't decode your child's needs, especially when they're in pain and seeking relief.

Now she has a slightly swollen, blood-blistered, bruised ear to match her Botox inflated kisser. I irrationally scolded her, nagging sternly, "You gotta' stop falling like this, Leni! No more walking for you!" No more walking? What was I thinking? I wasn't, clearly. She pathetically replied, "K, mommy. No mo' falling."

I just don't know what to do with her. Strap her into the stroller 24/7 where I know she can't budge too much? Cryogenically freeze her and store her in the fridge for thawing at a safer, less clumsy stage in her development? Keep her on a leash tied to my belt loops? I actually own a nifty wrist leash from my mother-in-law that I broke down and used with Kade at busy Gatwick Airport (or was it Stansted Airport?) in London two Junes ago. Apparently leashes (a.k.a. a "lead" if you're British) are quite popular in England, where my mother-in-law lives and originally hails from.

Perhaps Solenne wants to make her point that she might have arrived last but certainly won't stand for least. She has to reel in her attention somehow.

Aiden aptly called his baby sister a "whirling dervish" when he found out about her successive spills tonight. Impressive verbal lexicon for a five-year-old, you might say. Don't get too excited yet. He says he learned the term while watching Robin Williams' most recent flop RV while ironically having a sleep over in my sister's RV (the one Leni tumbled out of while she was less than a foot away from three parent adults, including my sister and me).

You're probably dying to know what's up with "Penis Biting" in the title. Aside from an obvious attempt to use popular search words to gain readership for my new blog ... I bet you can't guess which of my menaces clamped his teeth down onto Daddy's unit during a nasty tantrum. C'mon. Think but not too hard. If you guessed right you could be the lucky recipient of a date babysitting him until he grows out of biting, especially penis biting. Call me. We'll hook it up when your background check clears. No, absolutely don't call me unless you are a family member who owes me babysitting!

Obviously (and hopefully) our little biter didn't know he was biting the very tip of Daddy's most beloved body part. The unnamed is an animal sometimes and presumably went for flesh without mapping out a target. What ?-year-old thinks that far ahead? Well, actually, I could name a few. Any flesh will do when mystery child feels the fury. I don't know what sent him over the edge this time. So many things do. He was playing football with my husband, his brother and his favorite neighbor kids at the time of the drive-by penis biting. Maybe someone skipped his turn or tackled him too hard. Either way, there's no excuse for biting in the first place, especially a firm chomp on the pecker.

Final verdict before I nod off on the keyboard (now 2:21 a.m. and tons of blogspot server errors): For Halloween Solenne can dress up as Botox bimbette baby and our little biter can masquerade as a cross-dressing Lorena Bobbit.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Losing Credibility 1 Blown-Off B-sitting Gig at a Time

First off, here's a menacing snapshot of the subject of so much of yesterday's venting and k'vetching posts. It's Kade Emerson, my chubby-cheeked, three-year-old, motorcycle-worshipping middle child. He looks like a little rascal with that long metal sprinkler prong aimed directly at my lense. Today he is the polar opposite of the affliction he was yesterday. Hell on wheels and at the very top of my shit list.

Instead I'm the troublemaker sheepishly occupying the dog house for a change. Maybe I'm the one who deserves a useless time out because I completely spaced it that I committed to baby sit my neighbor's 17-month-old son, Logan, this morning. After spiking up Aiden's faux-hawk hairdo just-so like he likes it and carting him off to kindergarten I mustered the energy (thanks to a velvety Starbucks latte) to scamper around a sandy city park with his younger sibs, Solenne and Kade. The kids and I watched an ancient looking Asian man practice Tai Chi at the park when I should have been home dutifully watching Logan while his mom made her lush, gorgeous espresso hair even more espresso, gorgeous and lush at the salon.

Luckily I heard a strange poppy ring tone buzzing off in the distance just as Kade slithered down the firehouse style pole right onto his face. Apparently one of the kids felt the need to update my ringtone. Old school Beastie Boys' Intergalactic Planetary wasn't good enough for them. Thanks for letting me know, kids. When I answered it was Diane checking in to see if I was still on for babysitting. Since she's my next-door neighbor she can easily see whether or not my minivan (yeah, triple dented stereotypical minivan at that)is parked in my sidewalk chalk graffitied driveway.

What is it with toddlers and cell phones anyway? My two-year-old daughter already thinks she can't live without one. "I knee phone, mom." She whinges those four monosyllabic words at least half a dozen times a day (sometimes punctuating her plea with a bossy RIGHT NOW!) hoping that I'll give in and hand over my new Virgin pay-as-you go el cheapo phone. Who am I kidding? I always give in and give her the goods, after locking the keypad, or course. 'Can't have her calling the babysitter in the middle of the night again. Solenne has no clue just how uncool and low-fi mommy's phone is. No games. No pictures. No video. No frills. Just plain old calling capability, usually reserved for emergencies and driving directions. If I wasted away my minutes on idle chit-chat my penny-pinching husband would lose his shit, and then I'd lose my phone. Maybe when Solenne's an expensive, self-conscious tween she'll realize how boring mommy's coveted cell phone really is (and go on a hunger strike waiting for me to spring for a pricey pimped out cell of her own). In the meantime, she plays the field, cunningly angling with her massive sapphire eyes and suffocatingly cute curly pigtails to snag fancy flip phones from my neighbor Diane, her babysitter, Camille, and anyone else she can con in a hurry.

Back to my embarrassing misadventures in accidentally blowing off babysitting ... I recently flaked on another preplanned babysitting gig last month. This time it was with a different neighbor. In the weeks following "the incident" we both still can't figure out who really is at fault and thankfully have since moved on business as usual. Even if we did agree on who to point the finger at, we can't go back and fix what happened -- She showed up with her two kids so she could head off to a hard-earned contract job and found my ox blood red front door closed and locked. My house was empty and no one was home. While she frantically tried to locate a last-minute replacement sitter, I was oblivious to the whole debacle and busy slathering SPF 45 on the kids in a borrowed deluxe oceanfront condo 80 miles south of our neighborhood. I know I'm a disorganized, clutter bug nut sometimes, but I'm afraid I'm beginning to border on irresponsible. I want my friends, especially friends who are neighbors, to feel they can rely on me and that I'll always come through for them. I can't even imagine how pissed I'd be if I scored a rare writing gig at a newspaper and my babysitter was a no-show for my big day. Maybe scrawling pen notes in my palm just isn't cutting it anymore. Time to grow up and get a day planner.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Raw Cookie Dough Stress Eating to the Rescue

Thankfully I've cooled off about 100 degrees since my last posting/rage ridden rant, when I desperately daydreamed about shipping Kade off to boarding (pre)school (do they even have boarding preschools?) for hocking loogies in my face and purposely knocking over and trashing six shelves brimming with small, annoying-to-pick up manipulative blocks, train tracks and Legos. I'm too drained to mention the other various pain-in-the-ass naughty behaviors that polluted his toddler rap sheet today.

To counter all my bitching about troubles with Kade because, yes, I do feel guilty about cutting on his behavior like this while gaining some relief from venting about it, I feel the need to share some awesome, more positive Kade behaviors of today:
- He unscrewed two door handles then chucked the screwdriver at my head (Why did I allow him to be the "mister fixer guy" he wanted to be today? Wait, this is a list about good behavior, right? Lemme' try again.
- He washed his summer sun bronzed two-year-old sized body (he's well over three now and can still pull off size 2T) in the "big boy" shower with Mom's Bath and Body Works Pecan Pie scented three-in-one shampoo/bubble bath/body wash without any help or his typical bath time whining. I hope he didn't forget to scrub behind his ears and between his cheeks. I could live with overlooked ears, but the cheeks, that's just gross.
- He proudly poured his very own bowl of mozzarella cheese for lunch. What's he doing eating an adult-sized bowl teeming with shredded mozzarella cheese you ask? Look, I'm just trying to get the kid to eat some dairy protein, so if he wants to eat a bowl of shredded cheese with a spoon as if its Cheerios, than I'm all for it. Did I mention he dumped a snack pack of Sponge Bob Squarepants shaped Cheez-Its on top of his mountain of shredded cheese for that extra cheese-ification flavor factor and called it "Kade cheese soup"? Is Kade the next Chef Gordon Ramsay (of Hell's Kitchen fame), I wonder? At least in the spitfire angry epithet spewing department, yes, Kade could qualify.
- He rolled around with me on the front lawn while we spastically tickled and "steamrolled" each other ... until the love ended abruptly when I accidentally elbowed him full throttle in the face. Nice going, mom.
- He voluntarily opted out of a way overpriced Horizon organic chocolate milk box at Starbucks and saved me a couple of much-needed bucks. I'm skeptical about this one being on the list because I'm not sure Kade knew he was doing me a favor because he refused my offer for milk with an added 25 grams of refined sugar while he was fully enveloped in his third in-carseat tantrum-twister of the morning. Surprise, surprise. A kid says no to chocolate milk in favor of plain old (also overpriced) bottled water. Should I be drinking non-fat, sugar-free vanilla lattes at Starbucks if I can't even afford a stinking box of milk?
- He meticulously set up his big brother's fantasy baseball guys set (from invited me to play in his Anaheim Angels vs. Pigeons game. What city do the MLB Pigeons play in and how drunk and steroid jacked do players actually have to be to round the bases in reverse order like Kade said we should?
- He sweetly kissed me on the lips at "lights out" and told me he loves me (then promptly told me to "Go away now, Mommy").

Chilled raw cookie dough came to my rescue at about 5 p.m., when I just couldn't fight off the urge to stress eat any longer. At least it beats a glass of cabernet sauvignon during the day. Tempting but not so kosher while taking care of the chitlins. Just my luck ... the kids spied me scarfing down square chunks of mushy Tollhouse dough, the kind that comes pre-cut and ready to break off and bake (or not bake, in my case). Of course, they convinced me to let them wolf some down too because it's such a stellar idea to allow children to eat glob after glob of raw cookie dough at dinnertime, just two hours before bed. Solid parenting choice. We ended up comparing and contrasting (yeah, because my two-year-old even knows what the word "contrast" means) each other's melty chocolate moustaches and licking our gloppy fingers clean. Yet another valuable lesson in proper table etiquette from Mom.

The boys screwed around a bit at bedtime and I found myself barking at them to be quiet from the other side of their bedroom wall in Solenne's room (where I read her favorite but so darn repetitive Miss Mary Mack bedtime story). I put all three of them to bed on Mondays and Tuesdays because my husband takes an astronomy class with hot young co-eds and freshman science dorks on those nights. While fighting sleep on the top bunk, Kade hid a small jade turtle my friend brought back from India for him in his mouth. No my friend didn't bring the trinket turtle back in his mouth. It's Kade who placed the turtle in his mouth to get a little attention. Major wet pillowcase drool tipped me off to his sneaky stone bedtime snack. I merely threatened to take it away if he shoved the choking hazard between his lips again. Ever the disciplinarian, I am. He nearly swallowed the turtle in the moments following my half-hearted, ineffective warning. He willingly dropped the turtle into my cupped outstretched palm with a pathetic, guilty look on his tired, cute little face.

In other news, our new school-year schedule is kicking Aiden's normally live wire ass. I know he's exhausted because he no longer emerges from his bedroom every five minutes in the wee hours to tell us that bugs (namely cockroaches but don't ask me why ... um, right) are caught between his sheets and trying to eat him alive and a million other colorful made-up excuses not to sleep. His traumatic night terrors have magically vanished too. 'Hope the trend sticks. I don't miss reminding him that his name is Aiden and that he is five while he convulses and panicks half-asleep while mistaking the hallway floor for the kids' bathroom toilet.

My husband is gleefully clinking a spoon against the sides of a veritable trough of vanilla bean ice cream, his favorite flavor and my least. I just called him a loud chewer and he ignored me, something he is quite skilled at after living with my naggy self some 10 years now. It's hard not to join his one-man ice cream social but I'm trying to be perfect, slim and healthy like every other woman on the planet (but maybe moreso in Southern California). Screw it. Where's the ice cream scooper and microwavable hot fudge? Sign me up for sundaes!

Oh, before I go, in case you need a few reasons to feel like a bad-ass housewife who keeps her domain spit-spot clean, here's my first ever Domestic Slackstress Chore scoresheet:
0 loads of week-old extremely wrinkled laundry rescued from the dryer
1 load of hard water spotted dishes emptied from dishwasher
1 wooden kitchen floor sprinkled with shredded mozzarella and petrified Rice Chex cheese swept clean
4 beds (two of them bunk) sloppily made
No other harried housewife offerings because ... Hey, why bother making excuses? I just didn't get there and don't plan to tomorrow. I have to get all three kids out the door looking halfway decent by 7:45 a.m. for the trip to Aiden's kindergarten and then off to a play date with his siblings at the park. That alone is a chore in and of itself and enough hustling activity for a whole week. Looks like I'm losing the tidyness battle on the homefront but at least I'm getting the kids where they need to go.

Pelted With Sweaty Socks, Spit At and Sucker Punched in the Back

Yep. The title of this entry represents my moody middle child in a nutshell today. It's hard not to throttle him and knock his bratty little ass to the ground when I'm this mad. Of course I never would. You can call me a mean mom like he just did, but I'm telling the truth and coming clean about my feelings without holding back.

Kade knows to stay away from me right now and is currently behind his closed bedroom door repeatedly spitting at it. He's not even supposed to be here (at home) right now. He supposed to be in preschool but instead I let him play hookey from school today so I could take him and his little sister to the local airport for a special behind-the-scenes tour. Yeah, I treat him to something really cool and special ... airplanes, pilots, airport firefighters and state-of-the art 2005-model $89,000 airport firetrucks up-close and in return he treats me to a bitchslap and booger snot infused saliva. Angry doesn't even begin to scratch the state I'm in. That's why he's banished to his room. That way I won't be tempted to reduce myself to his 3-year-old tantrum throwin', sweaty sock chucking, perma-frown sourpuss self.

Now I've just returned from barging into his room in response to his incessant knocking on his closet wall, his latest antics to see if he can wake his napping sister while he's supposed to be "resting". Why is he in his closet anyway? He furrowed his brows at me and whimpered like a hurt puppy when I told him he has to remain in his room for now but cannot knock on the walls for fun.

Without sound, I can't demonstrate the ogre tone I used to express my annoyance but I think it would probably send you running for the hills, or to the bar for a nerve calming shot of whiskey. I didn't scream, but my tone was nasty. I've just had enough, today, to beat an old cliche. I'm really at a loss. I work my damndest for these kids, giving up my career (that was probably not going anywhere anyway thanks to a few poor job choices on my part) to stay home and raise them all warm and fuzzy showered with constant stay-home mom attention and love. I'm sure I'm not the first career woman turned house wench who finds this a thankless jobs when spit and fists start flying.

With my 5-year-old now in full-day kindergarten I had hoped that I could log some long overdue hours playing with Kade, whose continuous acting out might indicate that he's pretty attention and affection starved. I'm not a child psychologist, so I don't know for sure. Believe me, I've spent many moments guessing why he is so difficult, whiney and sour grapes so much of the time. So far, and we're only on day two without Aiden from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., I've spent most of my time blocking Kade's punches, trying to figure out how to stop him from crying every few minutes and feeling sadly disconnected from him.

Just now he's emerged from his in-room time-out and tragically said, "You never play with me, mommy." Sad but somewhat true. I replied, "That's because you sometimes hurt mommy and spit at mommy when we play, so sometimes I don't want to."

"You already did that talking," he whines, pointing his play screwdriver in my direction. I'm closing my laptop now to start over again with Kade.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Gratuitous Headshot of Me

Wow. A huge head shot of me taken this morning before carting Aiden off to kindergarten. Please bear with me while I get the hang of this.

MC Maestro of Mouth and His 1st Day of Kindergarten Shout-Out

The Maestro of Mouth started kindergarten today, amid a lofty opening ceremony that included an electric guitar rendition of America the Beautiful as a tribute to 9/11 victims and some melodious harp plucking by his Spanish teacher. I've never heard of an opening ceremony to kick off the school year.

Maybe it's a private school thing. Each of the 14 kindergarten newbies was introduced before the crowd of some 150 students and their camera snap-happy parents.

When the perfectly color coordinated and accessorized admissions director poked a microphone in Mouth's direction and announced him to the crowd, Mouth responded with a whopping, "Hey Yo, people!" puncuated by throwing up two arms in the air rapper style. He's such a wigga wanna be already thanks to mommy's closet gangsta rap problem.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Football Ignites a Testosterone Tsunami Within My Sons

You know football season is off to a mighty good start when your gay best friend scuds off your battered old garage couch and chirps, "Dallas is done! Dallas is done! They're goin' down!" with what he says is a purposely exaggerated queeny lisp while wagging two pasty white index fingers above his head. Or do you?

Pigtail Sprite, my 22-month-old daughter, bumbles around her gloating, victory drunk uncle wearing only a saggy size 5 Huggies diaper. Let me be clear. Pigtail Sprite's in the diaper. Her uncle sports his usual -- baggy faded jeans cinched with a worn belt.

My flaxen-haired, blue eyed daughter, like me, probably doesn't give a flying flip about football. We both don't even know what 1st and 10 means. She gleefully points out to me that the ref's yellow flag is "pretty, mommy," seemingly because "lel-low" is her favorite color at least for the moment.

My sons (The Maestro of Mouth, 5, and Moody Cheeks McGee, 3), on the other hand, are totally insane about pro football. They turned their closet upside down this morning feverishly fishing their baggy but official NFL jerseys, helmets and funny little butt-hugging stretchy football pants out of a heap of dumped board games in anticipation of watching guys whose names they can scarcely pronounce tackle each other and slap each other's tight, toned asses for no apparent reason. They shout "defense" at all the wrong time, confuse teams and are oddly petrified of mascots.
By halftime (Saints vs. Browns, I think) they no longer care to sit with their salty chip encrusted mouths hanging open on the old garage couch alongside their salivating fan daddy and uncle and heed the urge to reenact the violence they've just studied for hours on TV. Instead of deepening their mini-butt impressions on the couch, they take to the sun bleached backyard lawn and start tackling each other in pathetically slow motion but with enough force to come crying to mommy every two minutes.
My superbowl predicition? Of course, I don't have one. But I know for sure that football ignites a testosterone tsunami in my boys that no amount of Benedryl could curb. Tonight's history making Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning fraternal brother vs. brother showdown will likely have Mouth and Cheeks squaring off against each other with a fervent brother bloodthirst that will be quite inconvenient come bath/bed time. I'll be sure to have the first aid kit alongside the popcorn bowl on the old garage couch.