Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rejection at the Check-Out, Ba-Humbug Christmas and Accidental Thievery

Begin rant/confession:

Today I'm ashamed that I couldn't afford to buy all three of the medications my daughter needs during a jagged bout with the flu and a deeply infected ear. Screw splurging during the final holiday gift rush when I have bigger fish to .... Well, you know the rest of that tired, old cliche.

"Ouch," the pediatrician said, squinting her eyelids into thin slivers of skin as she peered with a light-up thingamajig into Pigtail Sprite's tender right ear only hours ago.

"That looks so, sooo painful. It's as red in there as that chair. And so FULL of pus !" The good doc pointed to a kid-sized plastic primary color red chair to illustrate her point. "She's tough not to cry through such pain." And I'm numb enough not to pick up on it.

Money. Think Simply Red and his "too tight to mention" bit, but with a much less swanky voice. I wish I weren't such a biff who spends far too much money on overpriced, overindulgent holiday treat flavored caffeine jolts I could just as easily brew at home. While I'm synthetically wide awake, abuzz and alert, my daughter is wheezing ever so slightly in her sleep.
Sound the bad mom alert.

Money is so scarce lately that buying a grande nonfat pumpkin spice latte could very easily send us into the red. On the other hand, not buying one could send me careening asleep at the wheel and off the road.

How was I to know that Pigtail's meds would total some $65? After Frosted Mini Wheats, Juicy Juice boxes, cheap one-ply toilet paper and a thick pack of sugar-free Bubble Yum (to quiet Pigtail's cantankerous at the check-out brother, Cheeks, 3) rolled down the conveyer belt at Target, I was left with hardly enough cash to cover sick visit co-pay, my usual remaining balance at the doctor's office and antibiotics/inhaler/bronchial opening medications.

Suddenly, standing at the crowded pharmacy counter this morning, I felt an odd kinship with the millions of American senior citizens who can scarcely afford their medicine. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Thankfully my daughter is too young to understand how broke we are.

The astounding rejection beeps of my only two debit/credit cards sounded like dueling fog horns in my red, hot, embarrassed ears as the cashier kindly tried to appear casual and unmoved while sliding the thin plastic rectangles through the little machine over and over again.

"Sometimes the connection's just slow," she whispered, trying to assuage my obvious embarrassment. My face was beet red by now. I felt the eyes of the onlookers behind me boring with judgment into my tensed up back.

I wish I could blog about something other than my failures, including a glaring F minus at keeping my shoestring budget assembled and at the ready for emergencies like these. I wish I could blog about something far less narcissistic. Something meaningful. Something that would inspire, entertain, perhaps even change the world for the better. After all, this blog is supposed to be lighthearted and funny.

For now, though, I'll stick with documenting the complaints of the working poor living over our heads under the crush of overwhelmingly huge mortgages (that we ignorantly bit off by choice) in Southern California.

(So much for the people I meet/know who say that I shouldn't be so candid, so all-revealing on my blog. To them I say, why cover up reality? Why hide from the hard truths of my situation? This is how my day was. Plain and simple. There are few topics as touchy as money but I have nothing to hide. I'm not looking for pity, just for a venting venue. Trust me, I feel and act so much nicer, so much more relaxed as a woman, wife and mother when I have a place to publish/let off steam and know I'm being heard and possibly even understood.)

The sick thing is, I don't really know a bloody thing about struggling. Not like my grandmother did during the Great Depression. Not like the health insurance-less, food stamp/WIC eligible mothers struggling to make ends meet in South Central Los Angeles. Not like the grimy faced, out of control dreadlock-spotted afro mop-topped homeless man who begs outside our neighborhood Starbucks.

I see Salvation Army bell ringers trying to ring in the holiday spirit of giving outside the local grocery store and hesitate to drop even a penny in their festive colored metal buckets. Every cent counts right now right here in my home with my family. All this holiday cheer and the last-minute gift rush give me a terminal case of the bah-humbugs.

This year, each of my children will receive one measly gift from their parents, which really should be more than enough when you look at the overcrowded toy shelf in their equally overstocked playroom brimming with action figures and Leapster-brand everything that they never even play with. Consider also that they will receive lots of loot from their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Somehow I think receiving less as more is pretty cool, even if they hate me now and only fully understand when they are older.

I'll spare you further (over)exposure to my rejection of Christmas as commercialism. Think charity instead.

Maybe this year I'll show my children how to help others truly "in need." Perhaps teaching them "service" and "charity"by example will give us some much needed perspective on our own SAHM, single-income in SoCal situation, which embodies plenty of non-material wealth to be thankful for. As my 5-year-old son always tells me, "Mommy, we're rich with love." (Cheesy, I know, but very touching coming from my 5- going on 30 eldest son.)

My father often missed holidays at home because he was serving hot meals at the local homeless shelter. Though he never asked me to accompany him, I always understood and respected his choice to give to others on Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas. I still wish I could have been a part of his selfless service.

BTW, I got busy chit-chatting with a mom from my sons' preschool at the check-out this morning and accidentally "stole" a pack of Size 5 Huggies in all the catching-up conversation. They were on the lowest section of the cart, beneath my wired children, who bounced like Mexican jumping beans around the cart when the cashier informed me of my total. She had to repeat herself three times.

In all the hubub I ignored the patient cashier and hastily shoved a $20.00 bill in her direction. I didn't bother to check the change she gave me back or whether or not she included the diapers on the bill. I couldn't understand why the total was so small ... that is until I was miles and miles down the road from the store, heading in a hurry to Cheeks' preschool and next to Pigtail's pediatrician. I'll have to pay for the accidentally "lifted" diapers after picking up both of my sons from preschool. Just another mom-brain moment. Sheesh.

Have you ever not been able to buy something you really needed because you were so strapped (or pathetically unskilled with personal finances)? Have you ever accidentally "lifted" an item from a store? If yes, what did you do about it? Did you ever return to the store and pay for the accidentally pilfered item? Can you afford Christmas in the commercial sense this year? If you are going to volunteer at a local charity for the holidays, what will you do and who will you help?

This is your brain. This is your brain on too many Domestic Slackstress questions. Just try being my kids.

Ps. I met a nice journalist mom in the sick room at the pediatrician's office today and shared my blog address with her. I had hoped to write something intelligent and influential for her to mull upon her first visit. Today's rant-like entry seems a rough introduction to my blog.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Catalina Mountain High to Zen Garden Mel-Low - An Eye Candy Journal

Since my daughter is quite sickly today and I want to stock up on much-needed sleep to keep my germ defenses up, I'm only posting a mini photo journal tonight of my recent trip to Catalina.

One of the radish-resembling prickly cactus pear fruits that I was stupidly drawn to like moth to flame on Catalina Island. I can't tell you how many glochids (mini spikes) I yanked from my paws after dining like a desert animal on its sweet, juicy fruit. I even plucked the pesky prickers from my tongue.

Also, you will also see snapshots I took yesterday at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at California State University, Long Beach, a treasured zen-oasis in the city that I often take the kids to when we need to mellow out.

Wish us luck at the doctor tomorrow. Poor Pigtail Sprite manufactures ear wax like crazy, so I fear much uncomfortable ear digging (exam for potential ear infection) is to come tomorrow on the exam table. She's come to expect it during cold/flu check-ups, so she's come to dread the doctor's office.

Um, yeah, thanks for the warning. Would someone pa-lease kindly remind me why we're camping here again? Shaking in my stinky Adidas improvised climbing shoes ...

The vista from the top of Catalina Island, near Mt. Orizaba, the island's highest point (2,097 ft. above sea level). Cactus, ocean and mountains all in one shot. John Denver eat your heart out.

A super fresh buffalo print I spied moments before booking it like a scaredy-cat after hearing what I believe was the print owner huff and puff through its big ole' snout just feet away in the nearby brush.

My cousin snapped this amazing view from near Mt. Blackjack and Mt. Orizaba.

Bison burger from the Catalina Island tiki gods, anyone? My cousin demonstrates that island mountain hiking is hungry work. He's gonna' kill me for this.

This cat-napping kitty effortlessly personifies (can an animal personify something if it is not a person?) the laid back attitude of the island locals at a quaint little Avalon mini-golf venue.

Whoa! Wait! What's this Jell-O shot doing in here with breathtaking Catalina Island views? This was taken by my cousin the night before he headed back East from his hiking vacation with us out West. The Maestro of Mouth, 5, will stop at nothing for a giggle. At least he's the self-cleaning model.

You might have to squint to see the baby car seat slip-shoddily strapped with bungee cords to this Catalina Island local's pimped and jacked way up golf cart (the preferred form of transportation on an island that has a 10-year waiting list for full-size cars). What a strange sight.

Heavy lichen taking over a dying tree. I was just as fascinated with this phenomenon of nature as I was with the damned evil pricking cactus pears. A small picture doesn't do heavy lichen justice.

My cousin joked/tried to freak me out by saying this old "straight six" car heap was the rusty evidence of a mountain murder. Believe me, I over-thought this to the point of nightmares as I slept in my coccoon sleeping bag in a way too secluded camp site in a remote area of the mountains, only feet from this junked junker.

Switch gears now. Here's Moody Cheeks McGee, 3, at the Japanese Garden koi pond suspisciously eyeing a swarm of hungry oversized, overpriced but exquisitely beautiful beta (koi, of course). Look off in the distance at the bridge - There were a bunch of people shooting a film who asked my permish to let them film my kids. I said "sure." Film crews are as overcooked in Greater L.A. as palm trees and the parched landscape. Don't get me wrong, though, I used to ooh and aw at them when I first arrived here from New Hampshire.

Our little Pigtail Sprite, 2, contemplates koi in her nifty knit sweater that everyone asks me if I made.

I tried to convince the kids to touch the koi by touching them myself. They are just as slime-coated as I suspected. Ew-gross but neat.

Okay, kids. Look but please don't fall in. Mommy's not exactly a skilled swimmer.

Non-stop Runny Nose, Fever and Chills - Sick Baby Girl Blues

Yesterday I promised to share my Catalina Island hiking journal with you, including snazzy ocean vista pics. Doesn't look like it's going to happen as long as my 2-year-old girl Pigtail Sprite's fever continues to rise, her nose continues to drip (clear, at least) and her arms continue to reach upward toward me begging to be hugged and held.

Her fever reducer must be kicking in because she's up off the mattress I've dragged her from room to room on all morning while attempting to tackle house chores between soothing her and playing hide-and-seek with her big brother Moody Cheeks McGee, 3.

This morning I had the pleasure of dropping my eldest son off at kindergarten. His daddy usually brings him but sweetly offered to switch with me today. He took care of Cheeks and sick Pigtail Sprite while I zipped off to the Maestro of Mouth's school. I'm not sure my son felt the short trip was such a pleasure, though. I nagged him to put on his seat belt as we whipped out of the driveway, on the brink of being late as usual. He moves like a snail in the morning, just like his father and me.

For now my two youngest are busying their mini selves pilfering their biggest brother's "special drawer," where he stashes all of his most special toys and treasures, like the freaky buffalo teeth I brought back from my recent hiking trip. I guess I should "bad cop" clamp down on my little "special drawer" robbers out of respect for Mouth's privacy.

I'm bummed about not having the time to document my Catalina camping adventures. I want to get it all down so I don't forget.

Hiking last weekend inspired me to take on more day trips with the family (thanks Mare and Dan for that). If Pigtail Sprite is on the mend this weekend I hope to take a small trek with the hubster and kids through Griffith Park, and perhaps to the historic Hollywood park's (think Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean) newly revamped observatory.

Ps. Just booked a 10:30 a.m. appointment with the good doc for Pigtail Sprite tomorrow. She's lethargic and still too hot for my liking.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Palm Frond Fanned Flames and Spiraled Scads of Buffalo Poo

Me posing last Saturday as a "real" mountain hiker at the foot of Mt. Orizaba or was it Mt. Blackjack? I sported my cousin's heavy backpack for a split second so he could take a picture of me, again, "acting." In reality I wore a regular school backpack.

Like a few of you who have called me in the last 24 hours, I too wonder where I've been. The past week was a radioactive cloud of activity - Thanksgiving (hangover), my first competitive run (I'm a 5K wuss), house guests (they cooked and cleaned more than me because I slack hard) and a few mile hike to and around the highest point on Santa Catalina Island (I carried the lightest backpack and whined about back pain).

Dan, me and Mare arrive at Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island, Channel Islands, California. My cousins might kill me for posting their pics without asking.

I'm supposed to be back on the blogging track, back in my domestic slacking routine. So far, I'm still in my black silk jammies with a cold cup of coffee in my dry hand.

Pigtail Sprite, my 2-year-old and my only girl, has a cough that sounds like she's smoked a pack a day since birth and Moody Cheeks McGee, my cranky meister 3-year-old, has preschool in a little more than an hour. My 5-year-old just rushed out the door with his hyper-white-blonde hair still wet on his way to kindergarten with the hubster. BTW, I heard from a little birdy that they're listening to Adam Corrolla on the drive to school again (no time to check the shock jock's name spelling, sorry). Eegads.

What I'm struggling in a morning wake-up fog to get at is that I hope to get Pigtail Sprite down for a nap while her two big brothers are in school and enter a travel journal of sorts here for your perusal, including a few pics of the endless ocean views of Catalina Island. No, I'll spare you the photos of spiraled buffalo poop that littered our camp site and just about every other step we took.

In the meantime, I'm off to shower and attempt to look put-together for the other mothers/teachers/passers by at my son's preschool. If we dressed for ourselves, would we ever drag a comb through our greasy heads? Really?

Think of me picking cactus pear glochids (spikes) from my fingers, even desperately scraping them from my catcus juice stained digits with pointy rocks (much to my cousins' amusement) . I just couldn't keep away from the radish-red cactus fruits. Thankfully I'm through picking cactus prickles from my all too curious tongue. Ouch yet still yummy, and I'd eat them all over again.

Until naptime ... Cross your fingers she even naps in the first place ...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Firepit Ashes, Shattered Wine Glasses and Hungover Asses

Hard alcohol and crusty casserole dishes await a major clean-up.

We over-killed the turkey. Finished every single bottle of red wine in the house. Tipped it back until we couldn’t speak without slurring. One of us even jumped over the blazing fire pit and next wiped out on my son’s BMX bike, lifting a bloodied nail from its tender bed of skin in the first of many hilarious and tragic drunken collapses.

A stop sign red push-up bra lay strewn across my bedroom floor, just feet away from a stack of quarters and pennies the children emptied from their piggy banks when I wasn’t looking. My bearded cousin, who finished off a bottle of strawberry schnapps after many, many glasses of wine, is gelling deeper and deeper into my couch, surrounded by kids who are curious about his unusually inanimate state.

My husband just scampered down from our son's top bunk, where he slept last night. On his descent from twisted Superman sheets-ville, he opted not to use the bunk bed ladder and in the clumsy process stepped on our boys' bookcase and toppled the entire unit. I think he's nursing his swelling knee wound in the bathroom right now.

The kids are looking as tired and haggardly as their parental units.

Ashes are still smoldering in our back yard fire pit. Empty plastic beer cups litter the driveway. Sticky, graham cracker crust crumble speckled pie pans shine in the morning sun alongside turkey grease splattered super hip square shaped dinnerware and congealed left out overnight peppery spinach dip. These are the leftover artifacts of our drunken Thanksgiving indulgence.

Thankfully one red-haired adult remained sober enough to care for the six tucked away in bed children between us in case of emergency, and he was the only one of all of us to know all the words to the Cypress Hill song “Hits From the Bong.” Scary. Also scary that he kept playing the song over and over while practically pressing his ear to the speakers. He even broke out some 80s break dancing. None of us were young enough to get crunk wit’ it. Sadly, there was a debate over whether the word is “crump” or “crunk.” That argument in and of itself is proof that we are all getting very, very old.

The aftermath of much sugar-fueled over-play in the playroom. Still not cleaned up.

I can’t seem to erase the acerbic cinnamon-y aftertaste of cloves from my stale tongue this morning. My eggnog spiked morning coffee IV drip isn’t helping on that end either. Hopefully the ibuprofen will kick in soon and buffer this damned hangover.

To follow up on my Turkey Trot post, yes I did run the 5K. And yes I did reach my shallow goal: to beat my brother-in-law. Insert maniacal victory laugh here. He finished a whopping three minutes behind me. I finished three miles in 27 minutes. Not exactly a time worth bragging about but not chopped turkey liver either.

The firepit, which my cousin leaped like a drunken cheetah.

Next year I plan to run the 6-mile 10K race and kick his ass again. Immaturely, it gives me exquisite pleasure to hand him his ass on a Thanksgiving platter. Let the training and trash talkin’ begin. Me and you, Mark. Me and you. Seriously, I booked it hard and really enjoyed pushing myself to the limit. My super in-shape cousin ran the 10K and met her goal too. We are a couple of proud, sore ladies today.

These are my cloudy, fleeting hung over observations, the morning after an indulgent, very close and never annoying family and friend enhanced Thanksgiving saturated fat, unrefined sugar and carbohydrate overdose banquet.

Does your head hurt this morning too?

As for me, I think that being hung over the morning after Thanksgiving is as American as fist shoving corn, hard squares of stale bread and diced giblets up the ass of a dead, hormone bloated decapitated turkey. Cheers.

I hope you have just as much gorgeous chaos to be thankful for this year.

Ps. We were supposed to gay bar hop tonight with a posse o' friends but we're still fighting the effects of our sins last night. Also, my cousins and I have to pack for our camping/hiking excursion to the highest peak on Santa Catalina Island. Our boat leaves bright and early tomorrow. We're heading 26 miles off the coast of Long Beach for a no doubt very memorable adventure. Where's my Dramamine?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Running Off Thanksgiving Feast Before I Even Eat It

Wish me luck tomorrow. Along with my cousin, close girlfriend and brother-in-law, I'll be running my first mini-marathon/race called the Long Beach, Calif. Turkey Trot.


I started training back in April. I'm excited and nervous. I kept on minimizing the race, referring to it as only 5K and merely three miles until my cousin, who will run the event's 10K portion, convinced me to stop.

"I'm so proud of you for participating at all," she said, as we drove to the shore to preregister an hour or so ago. "At least you are running this in the first place."

Not bad for a busy mom of three, if I do say so myself.

Here's to hoping I actually run the entire race. No stopping to walk and leisurely suck on my camel water pack like a pacified baby. I would relish finishing faster than someone in particular. Tee, hee, hee.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Think of me huffing and puffing down the Pacific shoreline, hopefully quite speedily. Send me all the good vibes you can. I'll need them.

Thanks, hubster supreme, for yet again taking the reins, taking the kids and taking care of T-day. I know you'll knock all 15 or so of our guests out with your flourless chocolate cake and homemade oyster cornbread experiment.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vitriolic Threat Spewing Mad Mom Machine - A Confession About Why I'm Not Cutting It Anymore

*Updated at approx. 11:45 p.m., as promised.

I beyond the pale lost my cool on three-year-old my middle child Moody Cheeks McGee today. If I were a child care worker, I'd be fired right now. No one should ever talk to a child like that. No one. My rage scared me, so I can't imagine what it did to him. I plan a full, hopefully cathartic confession late night or by morning.

I promise I'll bare some in-the-heat-of-the-moment-of-fury confessional style meat within the body of this post after I return from fermenting my conflicted, remorseful thoughts during my evening run. I hope that I am brave enough to confess completely uncensored and at the risk of being forever dubbed a "bad mom," possibly the worst moninker a mother could ever have the shame of wearing.

Said raging, pissed off body post "meat" will be directly derived from a hot-headed journal entry that I furiously scribbled today at every city stop light between my youngest son's preschool and my oldest son's kindergarten. Every word scratched down in my lifeline journal linked me closer to survival.

It's amazing how much I can vent on paper between pressing on the gas pedal and cantankerously (and regrettably now that I'm no longer seeing red) verbally lambasting Moody Cheeks McGee for smashing a high sentimental valued piece of pottery during a temper tantrum and purposely spitting in my face and on my car. I wish I could capture the verbal daggers that exploded this morning from my sharp-edged tongue on paper forever, instead of hurling them in the direction of my sweet little kid (who was just being a kid having a fit).

After posting tonight I must clean white-glove test caliber for sleep-over Thanksgiving guests, launder enough towels and linens for them and last-minute grocery shop for our 15-plus person turkey feast. Thank Goddess for hyper helpful husbands (who is now watching our three football chasing kids as I type, and when I should be running).

Until the wee hours, that is, IF I topple my towering chore list ...

Seeing the signs that I might perhaps be burned out on staying home is one of the hardest views I've had to take in. Even if I prefer to be blind right now, I have to take a hard look at possibly getting a "real" job outside the home . Maybe it would be better for us all, but most especially the kids.

"If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size?" ~Sydney J. Harris

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." ~Ambrose Bierce

A couple of sluggish, nonproductive hours later ... Chore completion zero! Kids sleeping like babies: three. (Similar to when I hustled leads and wrestled synonyms in newsrooms, I thrive on the challenge of a nervewrackingly tight deadline. We'll see how well I cope tomorrow, the day my guests whisk into town at who knows what time. Maybe I'll leave the place in squalor. If they love me, they won't care, right? My sister-in-law suggested I deep clean only the bathrooms and kitchen. Sounds good to procrastinating 'ole domestic slackstress me. Hey, c'mon. I've just had five kids through the weekend. Whaddya' expect?)

Now, as promised, I sheepishly give you the enraged contents of my venting-heavy journal entry on my son Cheeks' fit of rage today ... which was immediately followed (and further fueled) by my own.

But first a disclaimer/explanation of sorts:

Why you might ask would I want to reveal such intense emotions, ones that perhaps will cast a negative light on me as a woman and, most importantly, as a mother? Why would I want to expose the ambiguous, sometimes seedy, difficult to hear about underbelly of stay-at-home by choice motherhood, an institution society at large seems to view as sanctimonious, hallowed and all homemade gingersnap cookies and butterfly kisses?

My answers are not clean-cut and crystal clear. To tell you the truth, I'm not completely sure why I'm motivated to bear all, possibly more than I should, day after day on this blog. It just feels right and I go forth every day here on instinct.

So far, even if people might think I'm a weirdo freak mama to divulge so much, I think it is important to share the highs of stay-home motherdom, but equally as crucial to expose the lows, which can dive down dark and deep at times for so many of us.

Why should we always have to grit our hopefully brushed mama teeth and smile, even when we're on the verge of tears? So, in an effort to encourage fellow overwhelmed by wee little clone humans of their own making to come clean of the mother-guilt that is such an intrinsic part of raising children in these modern times, in encouraging them to open up to other mothers so we know that we are not alone in our struggles, and even failures, and maybe we aren't really that bad after all, here goes. (Run-on sentence, alert!) This is going to be painful for me, even embarrassing. But I feel there is worth in sharing this, even if I don't yet fully understand what that worth is. Does that make sense?

Begin journal entry written in the red hot heat of anger:

(Please keep in mind that I did not say these all of these things, only the terrible, terrible parts about quitting the SAHM gig and sending Cheeks to more preschool. I know ... I was quite bad. Aside from needing to vent pronto, I jotted down many of the rageful comments I was tempted to say but thankfully did not in order to spare my son. It's a good thing I always have a venting journal and trusty fast-gliding pen handy. You never know when Cheeks might flare up, or me for that matter.)

How would you feel if you were only three years old and your mom told you she quits? That's right. She's just about ready to quit staying home taking care of YOU! That's it! She's going to get a "real" job. Now! Somewhere, anywhere, far, far away from playrooms and play things! Far away from anything shellacked in spit.

What if you were only three and I, your mother, told you that it's "gross" and "disgusting" when you hawk loogeys in an angry fit of kid rage at my already filthy minivan, as if your saliva could make it dirtier? What would you think? Would you think you were indeed "gross" and "disgusting"? Would these horrible words/names make you feel shame? Unloved? Too dirty to be loved? Would you think that I, your mommy, don't love you? That you wish you could run away? Run away into the arms of a non-evil enraged, I've-had-it-up-to-here mom who wouldn't verbally lash out at you the entire drive to the school you never even want to go to?

Yes, preschool. The place you say no one plays with you at. The place that I just said I might send you all week (instead of only four hours twice a week) when I quit, quit, quit and get a real job like daddy.

Would you cover your soft little ears and whimper "I don't like you, mommy," and "I can't hear you, mommy"? If the sight of this doesn't stop a fire-spewing mother in her tracks I don't know what will.

I wish I could duct tape my mouth shut in damaging moments of fury like these. They must have glue at preschool. Maybe they have a magic potion too so I can take back all the hurtful words that I have just irresponsibly spoken to someone I made, someone I love.

How did I turn into such a bad mother today? How could a few jagged, chipped sections of thrown against the wall and smashed to bits pottery turn me into an enraged mom-strocity? How could a gazillion sets of kid sized sneakers, flip flops and poofy slippers chucked against a closed for time-out door set me off so harshly? How could I let myself take the fitful actions of an attention-starved middle child three-year-old personally?

In all my vim and vigor, in all my instant regret at having launched a verbal assault aimed at a bullseye Moody Cheeks McGee, I have just now realized that he grapples with same explosive anger and impatience that I suffer from. That's it. We are the same. Maybe that's why we drive each other mad without even meaning to. Maybe that's the place we can start healing from.

Except that Cheeks is not the same as me. He hasn't lived all that I have lived. Seen what I have seen. For starters he's a kid. Twenty-eight years younger than me, to be precise. He's also much, much louder than me when his rage takes hold.

Except that I don't break things when I'm mad, unlike Cheeks earlier today. I only break children's self-esteem.

Except that I'm an adult and I should know better.

What difference does all this make? I can never take my words back. All I can do is move on and try for a better tomorrow.

In true slackstress style, I'll close now by asking YOU a question: If you are feeling brave enough to come clean, what's the worst you've said to your child in anger? How old was your child at the time and what set you off? C'mon. We'll all feel better knowing we're not the only ones who lose our cool sometimes. Sometimes too much.

If you are not a parent and happen to be reading this, go out and procreate already! Join the insane ranks of us breeders, especially after reading such an uninspiring horrible parenting confessional post. Just playing.

Anyway, if you happen to have kids or not, do you remember a time or two when your mom lost her cool? If so, do you feel in doing so she damaged your self-esteem, self-concept, etc.? What would you tell your mother about inappropriately venting her anger on you as a child if you could?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Maybe I'm the Mean Girl All Grown Up

Judging from the comments to my previous post, it seems no one has yet bared her mean girl bones. Since I promised to blog today about mean girls, here I go, however briefly. (Remember, I'm supposed to be watching five kids here.)

Sometimes I fear I'm "the mean girl" all grown up. All too often I talk trash about people behind their backs. I can hardly cover my tracks as to who I told what, which often comes back to burn me. Gossip is my vice. I wish I could just grow up already and quit the habit. But it's a bitch to put down.

Ever talkative and outgoing, I effortlessly oscillated between being a nice girl and a mean girl in high school, just as I oscillated between popular girl cliques (preppie, metal head, easy). Who I hung out with any given week depended on who was having the best party with the most contraband, etc. There was nothing deep, balanced or intellectual about how I kept my erratic but always booked social calendar in those days. I can't say I'm all that deep or balanced now. More like disorganized and bitchy. I come off like a jerk because I was a jerk.

Anyway, there was this one gorgeous Barbie doll look alike girl I used to hang out with, even sometimes call my best friend (you know, all that BFF crap, right?). She was the first out of all the popular, pretty girls I hung out with to have sex. Scandalous. And we all said we'd never do that! The first of many acts we said we wouldn't dare try.

She played the field A LOT, specifically the soccer field (she really, really liked soccer players if you dig). Word got out after a wild night that she did something even worse than "regular" sex with one of the huge-calved varsity ball chasers. Without going into too much embarrassing detail, word got out she experimented with a little back door action. Way too scandalious and kinky for high school, no?

I scarcely want to admit just how much gossip mongering I did about her little incident. Everyone did but that's no excuse. I was downright evil, all while still calling her my best friend. Before long, the mean girls, which again depending on the day sometimes included me, had practically the whole school calling her "Back Door Sally" and "Up the Pooper Trooper."

Mean? Was I? Hell ya. I'm not proud of it. My guilt still eats at me to the point that I wonder where I'm headed in the afterlife (if there is one).

Trust me, when karma comes back around to tango, there's no escape. I definitely got what was coming to me upon stepping naive foot in my college dorm.

More mean girl confessions later when I can get a break from the chitlins.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Molten Lava Flowin' Like the Wrath of a Mean Girl

The scene at my house moments ago: Ominous, purling tsunami wave-walls crashing down, delicate palm trees trembling from the roots up and unwieldly hot molten lava spewing copiously from the angry mouth of a violent volcano. Sound like the edge-of-your seat opening scene to a box office natural disaster thriller? Or a flashback from the gripping pain of labor and delivery?

As I type the hubster is feverishly slathering the final touch glue-on floating algae (the translucent strands of green Easter basket grass) to my lucky 8-year-old niece's spill-proof, erupting volcano. The nasty little wenches at her school who make fun of her for the mole near her lip will be silenced at the sight of her science project wonder.

Little girls can be so mean. Make that ALL little people can be so mean. Those little people we love, adore and dote on called kids.

When I'm done zigzagging through L.A. traffic to drop my niece off at a friend's (we've been babysitting her for the weekend), I'll have a bit more to say about mean girls. The smug ones already sharpening attitudes on the weaker ones in elementary school.

What's the meanest thing another kid, possibly a "mean girl," did to you in grade school? Or were you one of the mean girls?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Best Part of Waking Up: Fake Cheetos in Your Cup


Breaking (down sanity) news flash from the babysitting-five-kids front:

What better way to admit that I'm only a mere shadow of the healthy-food shoveling mama that I say I am than to publicly free myself here of the guilt I bear over feeding my sister's young, impressionable child, along with my three kids, this: Trader Joe's brand Cheeto-ish cheese crunchies in mugs for breakfast?

You bet I'd lambaste either set of grandparents for such a high-fat, nil redeeming nutritional value breakfast offense. Even though I'm a hypocrite for letting them practically eat cake for breakfast, the Trader Joe's version of Cheetos at least contain 30 percent less fat than the real thing and no artificial colors or additives. There, now I feel an inkling better.

Trust me, I started the wee ones' morning off healthfully with Fuji apple slices and syrup free, fake buttered waffles. My first crunchy offering deteriorated quickly when the kids rejected both after discovering the generic cheesy poofs that my sister donated to the babysitting cause. She left the bright orange snack on the kitchen floor in a brown paper bag along with some juice boxes. Curiously, she also left a Ziploc baggy of pumpkin seeds in my fridge that are still covered in slimy pumpkin pulp. I assume I'm to rinse them off with the kids, salt them and bake till super crisp, like my brain today.

Also, in totally unrelated non-news, as I clasped a used-to-fit-me oversized B-cup bra onto my training bra sized matching skeeter bites a few minutes ago (yes, I managed to shower with all these crazy chitlins ricocheting wildly off the springy beds of my domestic world), I thought up this self-deprecating, zany jingle that can be crooned to the tune of Motown heyday hit Mr. Big Stuff (not that anyone would want to be caught dead doing such a thing):

Mrs. A-cups, who do you think you are?
Mrs. A-cups, you never gonna fit in this bra.
Mrs. A-cups, who do you think you are?
Aw, snap! (Instead of aw-yeah)

Okay, so it's only funny to me, me thinks.

Now to go scrape the kids off the pull-out couch bed and away from the trance-like grip of TV's most vexing purple dinosaur.

I'll spell check/grammar check this later, when I'm not wrapped in a towel just out of the shower and wrapped up in five kids.

Ps. What's the worst, most shameful thing you've fed your children for breakkies?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

1 in Rubber Panties, And My Sister's Kids Make 5


Yes, that would be rubber underpants. Your eyes tell no lies. (I'm refering to the headline, not the breast-ful pic above. More about the perky pillow boobies in the closing portion of this post.)

If you wonder where my posts have gone this weekend, think of me with your fingers crossed for good luck. As the title of this post implies (and then screams ... but in a good way, sis, I swear), I'll be babysitting my nieces, ages 8 and 2, along with my own chitlins, ages 5, 3 and 2.

Imagine for a moment five car seats, some boosters and others not, crammed like sardines into my double crumb filled minivan. I'm trying to imagine how I'm going to squeeze in showers. And it's sort of a problem that we have no milk, let alone ANY groceries at this point. Maybe I'll be brave (or stupid) and take all five to the local Food 4 Less (yeah, that's right. I said Food 4 Less. Ain't no shame in this game!) so I have no room for groceries.

My kids are psyched to see their cousins for a good, long stretch and can't wait to show them their new, improved raspberry techniques.

Back to the rubber underpants, shall we? My 2-year-old niece hasn't worn Pull-ups for three months, according to my sister. However, since getting wind that my sister was hopping the next plane to the deep south to rendezvous with old friends, she's had a few understandable accidents. After all, she isn't even three yet and recently potty trained.

"So, I hope you know I'm putting her in Pull-ups the whole time to minimize the possibility of accidents," I said to my frantically packing sister on the phone tonight.

"Uh, no you're not," she retorted.

"Well, what if I'm out with all five kids and she has an accident?"

"I don't know, but I'll pack her rubber pants, all right, and have her sister remind her to go potty as often as she can."

I'm crossing my fingers that the rubber doesn't meet the road in our case. Know what I mean?

My sister so graciously watched all three of my kids (I feel bad asking anybody, even experienced former child care providers like my only sister to watch my kids because they are so close in age and, c'mon, they come in threes) a while back so I could go to Vegas for almost exactly 24 hours with my husband. He was there on business at the Venetian in a very swank suite. We were married at Paris Las Vegas three years ago. My sister's husband is in the military and was out of town and her kids were sick when she babysat all of mine. The least I can do is return the favor for the weekend.

Where's my leash? (Don't laugh. I actually used it once at Gatwick Airport in London. Poor little Moody Cheeks McGee. I still keep my lead, as the British call it, in my pseudo baby bag.)

While I play co-ringleader along with my helpful husband in this weekend's 5-kid circus, stop by my hometown/high school friend's crafty blog, Little Messes, and buy yourself a new pair of boobs. See the picture above. Aren't her plushy "racks" adorable? She's very talented and unusual.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Case of the Baby Teeth Indented Poop Balls

I stepped in dog poop while taking a stroll with the kids this morning. I was barefoot. Lucky me. I win big prizes.

"Ear muffs, kids. NOW!" I shouted in disgust, signaling for my oogling chitlins to clasp their hands over their innocent mostly selective listening ears. Insert a Turrets Syndrome like firestorm of uncontrollable choice f-bomb expletives. "G-damn, m-f-ers can't even pick up after their stupid dogs. Now look at my feet." (Do I also win the bad influence cussing mom award, I wonder?)

"Mom, ya 'got poo on you fees?" my curious two-year-old daughter asked between long suck-drags on her favorite thumb. "Look at this mustard colored poop streak! Of course it's poop, now hurry! Scoot! Hurry back home so I can clean it off!"

I hopped down the sidewalk on one foot in order to avoid driving the canine crap further into the dry cracks in my calloused heel. My neighbors could think two things: 1) Yes. That bitch is as crazy as she looks. Confirmation complete. 2) Wow. What a fun, involved mother who plays so animately with her lovely children. I'm banking on option number one. How about you?

The kids chortled like happy little elves, following close behind their fecal frowning Pied Poopy Piper. There goes mommy full of shame-tail, hoppin' down the bunny trail, dog poop and all.

"You stink like dog poop, mama!" my Moody Cheeks McGee, 3, squawked, covering his upturned mouth with his cupped hand for added ridicule effect. "Mommy is a poopy girl! Mommy is a poopy girl! Dog poopy mommy! You're a poo poo head!"

Apparently "poop," and especially "dog poop," rank right alongside the word "underwear" with the whippersnappers.

(Thankfully it takes a lot more than poop comedy to crack a jaded adult like me up. Um, yeah. Two words: Chappelle's Show. Let's add another two or so words to that: Dave Chappelle as Rick James. Now that's sophisticated adult entertainment light years above childish poop gags. Sure. It's right up there with Chappelle's hilarious "Pee On You" R. Kelly sattire. Of course, I would never, ever laugh at such base potty humor, now would I?)

Back to my woeful tales of malodorous "number two" ... Now both kids (my eldest was in kindergarten at the time, or this would read "all three kids") chime in for a melodious dog pooh duo, chanting, "Doggy doo on you! Doggy do on you!" (think "doom on you" from the watermelon hoarding dodo birds in Ice Age I) pointing at their flush faced, poop smeared madre.

As I hosed off my soiled foot with the always outstretched across the lawn in an acutely white trash fashion (along with the rusty BMX bikes and Big Wheels strewn this way and that in the driveway), I thought back to the time I busted one of my sons, I'm not telling who so he'll still talk to me, DINING ON HIS OWN POOP.

He was just two at the time. It was one of those episodes when the house suddenly fell silent. Too silent. You moms know what speak of. The dreaded pin-drop brand of quiet that signals only one thing: trouble. Yep, the type of deafening silence that says, "Your numb skull kid is testing his palate on a generous culinary sampling of the footnotes from his own bum." So maybe not all of you have experienced what I'm talking about, and I figure that's probably a good thing. Just play along.

So I search the apartment (this was before we bought a house full of closets) for my suspiciously quiet mini marauder. Luckily, I don't yet notice that it stinks like someone "dropped the kids off at the pool," make that someone dropped them off in his Pull-up, then impishly dumped the dump on his bed quilt.

When I found my two-foot offender, he wore the tell-tale shameful look of guilt.

"Where's your Pull-up?" I asked, just as curious about the product of his back-end as he apparently was a the time.

"Ober dere," he matter of factly answered, pointing beneath his pillow, where he had purposely stuffed away the evidence. Sure enough, there his Pull-up was. But it was empty. Something was definitely rotten in Denmark because the room stunk like a full-grown man had just cracked the porcelain in the aftermath of an authentic Mexican triple jalapeno salsa blowout. Sorry to sneak a barf bag alert on you like that. How cheap and inconsiderate of me to toy with your stomach, but I've got to channel my post-poop-traumatic-stress disorder (PPTSD) somewhere, right?

"Okay, so we've located the Pull-up. Now where's the poop? You pooped, right, honey? Give up the poop! Do you even know where your poop is?"

He nodded a guilt dripping "yes" and averted his frown to the Go Fish playing card scattered carpet below.

"Then where is it? Where's your poop?"

"I dunno."

I scanned the room as if routinely looking for the missing half of a pair of socks, but this was weirder because the object of my search was not something I'd unthinkingly pick up with my bare hands, and could technically make me even sicker than a putrid sock.

Apparently my poop-adventurer 2-year-old son wasn't above picking up his own excrement with his bare paws.

When I came up dusty and frustrated from sweeping my hands beneath his trundle bed, there he was, pinching a hard poop ball between his thumb and index finger.

"I foun' it," he said with toddler pride. "De rest is unner my covers."

"I hope there's a laundry room washer available PRONTO!" I thought to myself in a panic. This was before I became a mother of three, mind you, and I was still a touch of a germ-a-phobe. Now I could care if they eat food off the floor, even when the two-second rule is beyond past due.

"Do we even have any detergent? Wait. What if this requires bleach? This is so much worse than a skid mark! I'm calling your father." (This was back at the time when I used to freak out and call my husband whenever the mildest, most mundane child anti-drama unfurled, from a simple scraped knee to an up the back breastmilk diaper blowout, as if he could snap his exceedingly paternal fingers at the office miles away and make my troubles disappear as fast as my new mom memory.)

I turned over the ugly tassle fringed end of my poop-player's celestial themed bedspread. There, fully illuminated in the afternoon sunshine beaming in from the windows, lay the evidence. Two rabbit poop looking orbs the size of peanut M&Ms, both indented by two curious front baby teeth.

I peered at my son and asked him to open his mouth. Sure enough, his two front teeth bore the caramel colored stains of guilt.

"No offense, kiddo," I said between gut laughs, "but your breath really smells like crap!"

How ironic that while rapping out this post on the keyboard, my other son has come to me naked from the bathroom, wearing only two suspect poop smears on his feet and clutching a dripping toilet brush.

Don't even get me started on the time my sister painted our 1970s bathroom wallpaper with her own pooh when we were kids.

It's one o'clock. Do you know where your kid's Pull-up is? While you double check that it's still on, I'll be busy drawing a detoxifying bath for my most recent poop trooper. I'll also be pondering the mind boggling probability of both of us sporting excrement on our bare feet in the same crappy day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Ben & Jerry Toast, Feelin' ROFL Award Slap Happy


Thanks for the awesome nod, ladies. I feel so squishy-special for receiving the October ROFL award. Seriously, I am thrilled that some of you mammas (and daddies, I presume) are getting a kick out my caffeine O.D. driven three-kid insanity. Someone has to. My kids don't know any different. They think my delusions are normal. What's normal, anyway?

It's funny to receive an award bearing the name of an acronym (ROFL=Rolling On the Floor Laughing) which I was too green to decode only a few weeks ago, when I first started this blog. Here's the twisted toy ad satire awarded post, titled Toys R Us - The Land of Misfit Cop Toys? I probably should have tossed an "alleged" in there to cover my arse.

Somewhere between stuffing my mascara raccoon face with shaker salted on top of already overly salted microwave popcorn, scraping mushed, chewed up and spit out turkey hot dog remnants from the juice laminated wooden dining room floor tonight, I plan on checking out a hefty chunk of the other October ROFL winners.

I'm honored to keep company with some of the zaniest bloggers out there, even if tomorrow I'm totally unfunny and crash and burn. Now let's hope I don't plunge into random, drive-by maternal depression accompanied by death by chocolate and have zilch funny to say/report/blog evermore. Okay, not funny.

Speaking of depression, my next planned posting is very dark. I'm still debating whether or not to publish it. Bring some extra Kleenex and check back soon to find out if I will "go there." I'll sleep on it tonight.

Thanks again, Momish, for nominating me for this cool jury-of-your-peers style award. And thanks Plain Jane Mom for continually linking to me in your "Great Posts" section. I'm digging the extra traffic/page views. It turns out the blogosphere, especially when it comes to blogging moms, is quite a supportive, nurturing community. Moms and nurturing. Aw shucks. It's a no brainer. It feels silly to say here that I'm touched, but I truly am.

'Hoping that I don't come off as a narcissistic ass now that I've loudly tooted my own crazy horn ... Yipee and into the Ben and Jerry's deep carb end I dive to celebrate. Oh, and where's that chillin' bottle of cheap peach infused chardonnay I picked up while getting Benedryl for my allergy stricken three-year-old, Moody Cheeks McGee?

Lest I should forget, thanks to Mommy Off the Record and Izzy Mom, two of my mom blogging favs, for creating and listing the complete ROFL Award Winners each month between working and hyper busy momming.

Monday, November 13, 2006

(Mostly) Happily Replaced by a Decapitated Barbie

My little Pigtail Sprite, 2, and her sleep-enhancing fistful of doll hairs.

"Women! What can you say? Who made 'em? God must have been a &*$#@! genius. The hair ... They say the hair is everything, you know. Have you ever buried your nose in a mountain of curls ... just wanted to go to sleep forever?" -- Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino), in the movie Scent of a Woman.

My overly kid pawed hair follicles can finally rest easy. Maybe even relax deeply, as if lavishly VO5 hot oil conditioned for hours on end. Thank God I won't have to shave my head bald after all.

(Hey! No, I do not have head lice.)

Break out the champagne. It's official: My hair is (almost) no longer required by anyone but me, its rightful owner, thankfully since as far back as I can remember. Starting tonight, my 2-year-old daughter's all but replaced my mane, her fluffy, longtime human security blanket, with a decapitated Barbie ... of all people ... um ... things.

Actually, the synthetic mop topped, eerily symmetrical, fossil fuel derived head is technically known as the Barbie Princess Rapunzel hairstyling head. But tonight, for my deep snoozing Pigtail Sprite, it might as well be mommy's warm, midlength, almost blonde hair.

My hair. The hair Pigtail Sprite begs on the brink of breakdown to press between her tiny fingers before naptime and bedtime. The hair that she smells and nuzzles with her smooth face whenever we squeeze one another and kiss. The hair that comforts her when she's fallen out the back of an RV upside down and onto her still delicate baby head (that's one hell of a story turbulently detailed in another post I'm too lazy to link to).

Damn my damn hair! Weasel hair! Bane of my existence hair! The hair that I've come this close to Sinead O'Connor scalp shaving ever since my second son ignited his obsession with it.

When Moody Cheeks McGee could no longer nod off on his own as a newborn (don't you hate when the newborn self-sleep-ability bliss suddenly comes to a screeching cry halt?). In trying to manipulate Cheeks back to sleep I willingly, lovingly, desperately, stupidly introduced him to the soothing sensations of tactile-follicle gratification. Thus began his addiction to my hair. No one else's. Especially not his daddy's, since he's mostly bald (sexy bald to me, babe) and short buzzed.

Without more than one promiscuously fuscia lipsticked decapitated Barbie to go around the house, I wonder, when will Cheeks' hair high finally frizz out? He's almost four years old now and still reaches a whole other eyes rolling in bliss dimension when weaving his sticky fingers in and out of my dry, split-end tipped locks.

He ruthlessly sneak hair-attacks me, hair snare entangling me when I'm lazing about, curled up like a shrimp on the couch or reading Augusten Burroughs' latest offering while sipping eggnog spiked lattes. Yeah, he accosts my hair during those moments. Those soulful solitude moments that all moms must, must, must have to recharge their permanent autopilot batteries.

I suppose Cheeks needs me, more specifically my hair, as much as I need heavy doses of soul-saving mama breaks. Who am I to deprive him of what he needs? On the other hand, who am I to enable his poor sleep habits?

Sometimes Cheeks is polite enough to ask nicely: "C'n I touch your hair now, mommy, pa-lease?" And his roving hair buried fingers still drive me knots (okay, that was cheesy bad but I couldn't resist)! Often to the point of my sheer repulsion.

I've long struggled to find a comparable feeling and all I can come up with is waking to the chilling sensation of a venomous tarantula slowly creeping across my tender scalp, not that I've ever actually felt such a horrific thing or would ever want to. Don't get me wrong ... I love Cheeks. I love Cheeks' affection. I just want my hair back.

One hair-dependent child down (the right now Barbie head palpating Pigtail Sprite). One to go.

Letting Cheeks adulterate my hair, and practically own my hair, reached the tipping point when we bought our home almost two years ago. At the time our children were ages three, one and two months. Insert how-the-f-do-you-do-it? reaction face here. Yeah, I know. I lived it.

I was barely hanging on to being awake, and far from into letting any of my children hang onto my perma-bed head hair like a greasy, baby food splattered life line. But I offered my hair to them like a white truce flag in order to survive from one harried day to the next. To get them asleep so that I could sleep. But sleep was not to be with my eldest son expecting so much attention and stimulation while his baby sibs slept (long enough to stop pulling at his hair too).

Things were such a three-extremely-young-kid blur at the time that I can't even remember what I did or where I was for Thanksgiving just days before the move into our new home. What I do remember crystal clear, though, is laying on my side like a bloated cow and nursing then two-month-old Pigtail Sprite on one side of my sapped postpartum body and allowing Cheeks to extreme-crochet my hair at a furious pace on the other side of my defeated frame until he finally conked out for his nap (and ever so generously left the back of my head looking like a Wild West tumbleweed).

Our mad hatter hair-sleep cycle went on like this for months, with me sprawled out on my duvet, one child sucking on my flopped out always-engorged breast and one child twiddling my hair like Paul Mitchell peaking on baby acid. Oh, yes, don't forget to add in a third child ricocheting like a pinball about the perimeter of the bed, incessantly asking when I'd be "all done with the babies" and ready to give him 100 percent of my attention. Poor kid. I think he's still waiting ...

In retrospect I think Cheeks' binky (pacifier) should have been enough to pacify him. I weakly played into his drama, as well as into my heavy guilt over weaning him so suddenly after finding out I was pregnant with his sister. (I also half-believe my older children (boys) think in the recesses of their exponentially growing minds that they were once the first apples of mummy's eyes, all before the youngest sibling, a girl, came along and "stole" what was theirs in the first place. If they understood what a complaining crank I am, none of them would vie so hard for my attention.)

Once I resorted to giving Cheeks a foot-long mullet wig that was velcro'd into a hat we got as part of a promotional give-away at a local minor league hockey game. That went over about as well as when his last binky vanished in the night for good.

Even though I relish how affection my children are, I still can't stand them touching my hair. Stroking it. Clawing it. Clumping it. Twisting and twirling it. Even sticking it in their greedy mouths and trying to chew it, suck it. And maybe even chase their milk with it.

Tonight, when I read a random Toot N' Puddle bedtime book to Cheeks, he reached over as if it were a reflex and slid his entire upturned palm beneath my neck to feel the hair that ironically I'm sprouting more and more of while purposely growing it out long for a change. I winced a bit, but mom guilt kicked in faster than mainlined morphine. I let out a sliver of a smile in his direction and leaned in closer to him for easy hair access. He's still my baby after all.

There's no replacement for mom in Cheek's case. And he won't let me forget it; At least three to four times a night he wakes up demanding me (and sometimes my damned coveted hair) at the top of his very capable lungs. I've got a new plan him tonight, though. And it just might have something to do with sneaking that handy hairy Barbie head from my daughter's clutches and trying to pass it off as me.

What's that you say? I should be flattered? Naw. I'd rather flat iron my kids for flattening my 'do!

(I'm literally falling asleep writing this. Forgive my errors. I'll fix them after a good, hopefully hair grubbing free rest.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cars on DVD - a $19.99 One-Time Fee Baby Sitter

Hey, at least I admit when I use the TV as a babysitter.

The kids, minus napping Pigtail Sprite, 2, are engaging in yet more Lightning McQueen worship while watching Cars for the umpteenth time this weekend.

I'm on a neglectful mom kick today. I can't promise I won't allow them to hit "play" again after the last credit rolls for Cars.

I even let them feed themselves breakfast this morning (three-day old sugar-junk filled donuts) after I inexplicably woke up cold and alone in my daughter's bed. She was in bed spooning my husband in our bed. I also vaguely recall sleeping in my 3-year-old son's bed last night too. Go figure. The mystical, sleep-magical game of Musical Beds is a hard habit to break when you are pathetically desperate for sleep, rejuvinating sleep.

I'm the bad mommy who sneaked off with a friend to yoga today and sneaked off to a mini shopping spree yesterday. My husband's practically had all three kids all weekend. I confess. I haven't been pulling my weight, especially not while training so much for a mini-marathon coming up soon on Turkey Day. When all is said and done after my race, I might be the turkey who needs a fork put in it, following by a good stuffing. I go pretty nicely with gravy.

Delirious today after a hard-ass yoga class. Check back for hopefully more coherence and an actually topic-focused blog posting tomorrow. In the meantime, what's your "filthy confession" for today? Set yourself free over at Filthy Confessions.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nancy Pelosi - A Sister Who's Doin' It For Herself, Me - A Sister Who CANNOT Do It By Herself

It’s time to salute one of our own, mamas. If you haven’t already heard by now, a whip smart mother of five – incidentally also someone who publicly dubbed President Bush a “liar,” “incompetent,” “an emperor who wears no clothes” and “dangerous” -- is now the first female to be at the helm of the House of Representatives!

Bravo, Nancy Pelosi! Thank you, Madam Speaker-elect for giving me a fresh, much-needed perspective on how much more arduous my three-kid juggling act could be (and how much of a total schlub I am for kvetching ad infinitum about the rigors of modern childrearing in the first place).

I can't be the only voting mama dying to know, Madam Speaker, how did you survive five labors and deliveries, become a grandmother of yet five more and still manage to conquer a cutthroat, mostly gentlemen’s Capitol club?

Pelosi, San Francisco’s Eighth District representative since 1987, during a post-victory press conference jokingly threatened to use her “mom of five voice” when a microphone malfunctioned. I loved it. Thanks to the wonders of live, "breaking news" coverage I got to hear that loaded maternal power nugget (so many moms surely can relate to) in real-time.

“Maybe it takes a woman to clean house,” Pelosi also said after learning of her historic victory. You weren’t kidding, Nancy, even if I can’t figure out whether this particular comment sets women back a few decades or not.

Whoa. Hold up a second. I can just see dedicated hubster rolling his eyes, since he, not me, elbows through most of the nitty gritty scrubbing (worthy of the white-glove test, I might add) in the nooks and crannies of our pad.

Speaking of women like Pelosi who continually champion fellow women and women’s interests, (kind of lame segue but work with me here) I’ve wondered a lot lately about just how far I would make it as a woman and mother without the continued help of fellow women and moms, some close friends and family and others complete strangers.


(For the record, let me now state that I do not and have not allowed strangers to watch or babysit my children. Never, never, NEVER! The brand of help I'm referring to from strangers is more along the lines of opening the door for me at the post office after saying the customary and completely unoriginal "Wow. You've got your hands full!")

Just today I leaned on the receptionist at 3-year-old Moody Cheeks McGee’s preschool to watch over (through stock tinted glass) my slumbering away 2-year-old daughter, Pigtail Sprite, in my still-running, parked minivan so I could pick up her big brother from his nearby classroom.

Trust me. Waking up an overtired feisty girl toddler who declared a walkout on naptime for the third day in a row is a very, very unwise idea. Please don’t try it at home. Let alone a minivan mafia monopolized preschool parking lot.

As usual on the two days a week Cheeks attends preschool (for only 4 hours each time but long enough for him to complain that he spends too much time there), Cheeks knocked completely off on the ride to pick up his 5-year-old brother from school. In the rearview mirror he looked like a grumpy old man, snoring away with tension-stitched brows.

I guess daubing himself from head to toe in musky, food-coloring tinted shaving cream really wears my little Cheeks McGee out. Either that or the senses-accosting sight of way too many wired 2-year-olds dressed in garish caped costumes even though Halloween is long gone and just "because they can" at Bohemian preschool.

Moments later and three or so miles away from Cheek’s preschool parking lot, I found myself pathetically asking for help again. I timidly called upon another female office administrator, this time at my kindergartner son's school, for help watching my minivan slumbering kids. If unloading one snoozing toddler is unwise, you bet your ass I’m not trying it with two!

If not for an acquaintance who offered her two very mama-capable arms to help, I seriously think I might have lost Pigtail Sprite in the dark while trick-or-treating. I'd give anything to turn into an 8-nerve-packed-sensitive-armed octopus when my three-kids-aster blasts off in three different, manic directions.

I can't tell you how many times I've asked my mom of one neighbor to watch the kids "for a sec" that turns into ten minutes of noodling around with mundane chores. She just took down the large"for sale" sign beaconing from her front lawn, opting to wait to sell until after the holidays. I keep telling her that she can't move. I don't know what I'd do without her. Thankfully I can return a fraction of the many favors she's done for me by watching her almost 2-year-old son this morning. Don't forget I owe you a date night babysitting too, neighbor.

Along with profound gratitude for the help women so dependably (even if I don't necessarily know them very well) assist me and my children comes profound shame and embarrassment. Humiliation that I even feel the need to sometimes ask for assistance. Clearly this sister is not “doin’ it for herself” much of the time, and that hurts.

I’m sure all mothers out there (some of whom, like me, cannot afford babysitters and nannies) know all too well what I’m talking about. When I’m older and my children are off at college or smashing guitars into bumper-stickered amps or whatever, I hope to return the favor by helping a frazzled, over-her-head mother of three (or less or more). Maybe I'll lighten a random mom's load in some dangerously minivan in motion packed parking lot cope with keeping her brood in transit, and her head screwed on all right.

For now, though, I’m still the frazzled mother who can’t help but reluctantly ask for help more often than she like to admit, even to her own self. I feel like the opposite of self-help.

How often do you mamas out there ask for other women (especially mothers) to help you? Do you feel guilty about leaning on other women to help take care of your kids in a pinch? How are you helping fellow mothers and women now? How do you plan on continuing (or paying back, depending on how you look at it) the age-old cycle of sisterly support?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Proof That I Dragged My Kids to the Polls

Maestro of Mouth, 5: Um, yeah, okay, mom. What? You want me to do what? A thumbs up to look like I'm interested in this voting stuff? Where's the race you told me about? Isn't there a dem-crumb-bat running in a race against a pub-lickin? Where's the racetrack, mom? I thought we were going to a race track? This just looks like an office in a garage. Geez. I told the ladies behind the table I'm soooo used to voting with you.

Pigtail Sprite, 2: No, weally. I use-u-ee pict-your vewy, vewy 'door-a-bwie. I just wook a wittle scare-we wike dis. Eben wike a lion, maybe. Where's da boat? You said we go boating, mommy! (Actually, mommy stole the boat thing from my cousin. My aunt told my mom about it and my mom totally ripped it off for a laugh on her blog.)

Maestro of Mouth: Can't we go get frozen yogurt now? Voting makes me hungry. I want gummy bears and Oreo cookies and raw cookie dough and mini M&Ms on mine. Please, mom. Pa-leeeeese? You just want to look cool on your blog, mom. Stop taking my picture.

Grumpy Cheeks McGee, 3: I'm not shown because I'm camera shy and very, very moody. Even when my mom wants me to be social in public. Especially when we're out in public! And about the frozen yogurt, I told my mom, "No. Dat's just like canny. Our teef will rot if we eat dat!"

Minis Unimpressed With Voting, Better Luck With Mercury Crossing the Sun

I'd like to start this post once and for freakin' all but my heathen children are refusing to nap. One in particular, I'm sure you know who, just tried to punt my face in the midst of his full-throttle, full-volume fit trip.

My wimpy threats to take away (and maybe even chuck in the trash) their obsessive favorite thingy du jour (glow-in-the-dark Halloween skull rings) are futile.

It's a raw deal that kids don't come with a nifty sleep button. Screw stem cell research. If a nerdy engineer can figure out how equip my $10 alarm clock with three different snooze options and even project the time in blue light onto my ceiling, then why can't a savvy scientist stick a snooze button on my clone children?

If I could only command them to sleep. Knock them out without hurting them or breaking the law. Then I could bore you with how bored they were at the polls with their civic duty heeding mama.

Hopefully when the heathens finally do succumb to their hellish over-tiredness they won't sleep through Mercury crossing the face of the sun. Something they won't be able to witness again until 2016. Chances are they'll make it and get an unusual daylight glimpse of Mercury; The planet's trip across the biggest star is reportedly a five-hour long event. Check it out with the kiddies if you can. Thanks for the tip, my astronomy student hubster.

According to NASA: "Mercury's tiny disc -- jet black and perfectly round -- will glide slowly across the face of the sun. Only a speck of the sun's surface is actually covered, so the sun remains as dangerous as ever to look at. But with a proper filter and a little imagination, the transit of Mercury can be a marvelous experience."

Who knows? They might be as unimpressed with the rare celestial phenomenon as they were with my democratic assertion at the polls.

Let's take the Senate next!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm Cramming for the Convoluted California Vote - Sex Offenders Tracked by GPS? Parental Consent for Teen Daughter's Abortions?

(*Finally, a wholesome 8cmdeluded topic not centered on love(making), marriage and next comes baby in a baby carriage. Oh, and who could forget (you wish you could) the duo of freaky placentas buried out front? I was on an over-the-top roll for a while there. I plan to brew some better topics in the coming days.)

Vote, mamas, vote! Pretty please?

Hopefully my 2-year-old daughter will nap long and hard like a hibernating bear today so I can make (eleventh-hour crammed) educated decisions at the California polls.

In the next few hours, between laundry, dishes, dinner prep and two (brother) school pick ups, I will decide as to whether or not it's a good thing for the parents of a pregnant minor to be notified before she goes through with an abortion. (Prop 85)

Thankfully I don't have to study my sample ballot long to know where I stand on Prop 83, "Sex Offenders, Sexually Violent Predators, Punishment, Resident Restrictions and Monitoring, Initiative Statute.” This is the controversial California ballot measure that would “Prohibit residence (of sex offenders and sexually violent predators) near schools and parks.”

Furthermore, the measure, if passed, would “Require Global Positioning System monitoring of registered sex offenders.” Now there’s a high-tech Big Brother project I could get behind, without my usual consideration of personal rights, civil liberties and freedom.

Has the ACLU jumped all over this one? I’m out of the loop. Radio Disney AM 1110 in the minivan doesn’t count towards political consciousness. It is the bubble gum equivalent of musical unconsciousness and only encourages unrefined musical taste in my three-kid captive minivan audience. But, hey, it keeps 'em quiet while I weave in and out of traffic.

I say go Martha Stewart-style on the twisted, kid-preying bastards. Slap a hefty ankle bracelet on them and keep the hell away from my kids' schools and public parks. GPS sounds good to me.

Tune in tomorrow, a few hours after I’ve cast my ballot at the polls in the neighbor’s garage down the street. I plan on revealing how I voted on each California ballot measure, in case anyone cares.

I make a point of bringing my children to the polls with me time and again so they can first-hand witness their mama doing my civic duty. I want them to know that complaining about the state of your city, state, country and world is a sad, sorry state, unless you strike out at the polls and let your gripes be counted properly. I also drag them to peace rallies when I feel it's safe enough.
Hopefully my kids, ages 5, 3 and 2, won’t go around shouting “Go ahead. Make me LOSE!” in crappy eastern european accents like I jubilantly did while pouring milk into their honey nut cereal this morning.

Now get off this blog and vote, would ‘ya?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beef Jerky - The New Aphrodisiac

(*Bummer. I blew my NaBloPoMo prize chances by getting too carried away with this post and going past the midnight mark. Snap! Another one bites the dust. Good luck to the diligent bloggers still in the running.)

Since a few comment-leaving inquiring minds want to know, the answer is YES. Yes, last night the Hubster masterfully arranged the most romantic HAHD (hot, at-home date) we’ve indulged in yet.

This morning the kids pounced off their bunk beds and scampered to a playroom filled with two dozen recently extinguished fire hazards – vanilla bean scented tea lights my husband mysteriously procured while on a covert HAHD supply run yesterday.

Have I mentioned the rose petals? Now I know why my husband hacked all the stunning full blooms off yesterday, despite my pleas that he spare them. Get this. My groggy 2-year-old daughter, Pigtail Sprite, waddled to my bedside this morning and spit a crumpled cluster of rose petals from her very own (placenta-fertilized, as you might recall from recent posts) amethyst rose bush all over my chest.

Having obviously rejected the floral remains of mommy and daddy’s last night HAHD/tryst, Pigtail Sprite next demanded while picking rose petal fragments from her teeth, “I wanna eee de breffess. Make me dee breffess now, pees.” She slurred as if drunk, spitting more bits of petals that my husband scattered around our peculiar playroom love nest. Hey, wherever inspiration strikes is good enough for us.

And to think I can hardly scratch together a brown bag lunch for my considerate, doting husband these days. His everlasting goodness makes me look so very bad. Terminally bad.

I think the hubster isn’t a fan of my new leaner, trimmer figure. I started running last May and last week managed to get back to my pre-mom weight. Yoga met my needs for a long time but didn’t seem to melt the baby fat.

Anyway, I get the feeling the hubster misses my former junk-in-the-trunk b-donk a-donk butt because last night he stuffed me to the gills (with his own hands) with my most beloved but no longer on my healthy diet high-fat, mega-carb food favorites –- double crème brie, gobs and gobs of Rondele, a spreadable garlic and herb cheese concoction, dark chocolate dunked, melt-in-your-mouth strawberries topped with extra thick freshly whipped cream … and hot, buttered movie-style popcorn. And he was definitely trying to get me drunk with generous splashes of fine, imported from Australia wine. Merlot, I think. My head still hurts …

The hilarious edible crowning jewel of our quasi-aphrodisiacal feast was the paper plate platter stacked high with slabs and slabs of teriyaki flavored beef jerky. I challenge you to look Nine and a Half Weeks open refrigerator hedonism scene seductive while primitively gnawing on chunk of petrified, smoked and flavor injected dead, dried cow muscle. (Good luck with this if you should boldly attempt it. Stick it on YouTube. Some lurker or other might find it arousing. You never know.)

Let me explain the deal with the jerky. It isn’t that my husband has bad taste in hot, at-home date food. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Having dined the world over since he was a kid, his palate is much broader and more refined than mine, and I’m a big-time foodee. It’s just that he’d asked me if I craved anything from the grocery store, where he dashed off to to get some last-minute whipped cream and wheat crackers to go with the gourmet cheeses.

I answered, “I shouldn’t but … Could you please bring home some jerk?” He knew just what I meant. So there you have it. I noisily chewed ‘n chawed on my beef jerky cud as we watched a mui romantic movie. Okay, it was not romantic at all. We’re talking Dodge Ball with Ben Stiller and his “f’n hot wife,” as my husband said five million times during the hilarious movie. There’s nothing like Ben Stiller sporting a mullet and a sweet 70s handlebar moustache to turn up the heat on a hot, at-home date. Yikes.

Short story long, my husband went above the call of duty as usual last night. I owe him for life ten times over, and he knows it. Now don’t you go and hold it over my head, honey hubster. Good old saltlick beef jerky and bed of roses entanglement. Who could ask for anything more?

Currently Mr. Casanova uber husband is dusting between the feminist lit section of our living room bookshelf. I’d better log off now and pitch in before I’m yet again shown up by him as the slacker spouse that I am.

But first, where’s that last dehydrated, preservative clogged morsel of teriyaki flavored petrified cow?

Ps. It’s funny some of you commenting mamas should mention peeping tom dogs (and other peeping pets). In our case last night we fended off our peeping tomcat, Tricks-y, aka Tricks-a- licious. Curiosity almost killed our nosey feline last night. I won’t go into further detail because just living it creeped me out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Moms - Remember That Thing Called 'Libido'?

Pre-Childbearing: Libido Minus Kids and Mom-sponsibility = Passion. Romance. Spontaneity. Bordering on Pleasure Overkill (if there can be such a thing).

Post Childbearing, Then Three-in-a-Row-Child-Rearing: Libido (What’s that? I can’t remember?) Plus Motherhood = the Opposite of Arousal. Tuned Out. Turned Off. Drop Dead.


Fade eerie dream sequence music and enter my soon to be romantically elevated reality tonight.

“I’ll pick you up in an hour,” the Hubster warm-breath whispered in my ear moments ago. “Wear something nice.”

“Whaddya’ mean? Where are we going? We have no sitter?” I said, utterly perplexed. “We had plans?”

“Don’t worry about it.” he said. An I-know-something-that-you-don’t smile tautened his short-shorn russet beard hemmed cheeks. “I’ve taken care of everything. You’ve got a couple of hours to get ready. I’ll pick you up, let’s say, around 10 tonight. Meet me at the door to the back hallway. We’re having a date at home tonight.”


“Oh, now I get it,” I thought to myself. My husband, historically light years more romantic and tender surprise engineering than me, is planning a hot, at-home date (HAHD).

(The long-mom-dormant journalist in me can’t help but employ hugely un-sexy acronyms for multiple references in a single post, even a post about post-baby booty calls. Acronyms are a literary buzz kill, but worth the key stroke conservation, and let’s face it, my post tonight is anything but literary.)

Anyway, the Hubster and I haven’t indulged in nearly enough HAHDs since moving into our home two years ago, and could use a whole lot more them.

Preparing for a HAHD is (mostly) easy.

HAHD Pointers for Wife/girlfriend/lover (No more alternatives to "wife" for too tired tonight, please! I can’t be so consciously all-inclusive that I can't get past this sentence simply because I’m over doing it with open-minded, non-offensive, politically correct terms for contemporary labels like 'Baby Daddy and Two-Dad Duo):

1. Splash your overtired, overwhelmed, bordering on perma-frown mommy face a few brisk times with freezing cold water. Even though it’s the end of the night and the kids are laminating their pillows in drool, you’d better be ready because it’s time to WAKE THE HELL UP, GIRL!

Dig deep and channel your nagging mom leaning over your bedside, threatening to toss ice cubes beneath the covers “if you don’t get up and get ready for school THIS MINUTE, young lady!” At least pretend that you’re awake enough to participate in, and maybe even take a domineering role in tonight’s HAHD.

Remember, romance isn’t such an energy sabotaging chore when instead you could spend your night filing smiley face-stickered kindergarten busywork away and stuffing envelopes for an upcoming preschool fundraising push. Break out the pitch black coffee if you must, unless of course you are an all-out caffeine junky like me who pounds a pot and a half of coffee by 10 a.m. You’ll need something stiffer, like maybe a Red Bull.

2. Remind yourself while ignoring two saggy, shapeless post-human-milk-factory nursing relics sadly drooping like overstretched Silly Putty toward the scale beneath your toes that you once had it “goin’ on.” Well, perhaps “goin’ on” enough to attract and long-term retain the attention of your husband/partner in the first place.

Quickly convince yourself that sporadic b-acne, oozing over-the-belt love handles and crinkle-cut French Fry shaped tummy stretch marks are smokin’ hot. While you’re at it, convince yourself that your pregnancy battle scar Mom-cessories are hotter to your lover than Pamela Anderson’s jugs, with or without basketball-sized sacks of silicone.

Try singing this Buster Poindexter chorus/mantra if you get a touch desperate in the final countdown leadin gup to your hot, at-home date: “How you feelin’? Hot! Hot! Hot! I’m hot! She’s hot! He’s hot! They’re hot! We’re hot!” A kid-finger printed and Very Berry Kids Oral B toothpaste smeared bathroom mirror helps here. (I'd feel pretty silly singing in the mirror like that ... now that I'm on the other side of 30. Brings me back to my childhood when I used to lipsync Cindy Lauper's True Colors and Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun in my behind-the-door, ceiling-to-floor bedroom mirror.)

3. Hop in a near-scalding shower and take a deep sigh of relief knowing that none of your children will interrupt you, perhaps to confess that they’ve just eaten two pieces of Day Glo sidewalk chalk and crammed uncapped permanent markers up their noses.

Wash up extra squeaky clean and don’t forget to shave whichever of your body parts are in desperate need of shoring up, slap on some lacey two-sizes (and kids) ago lingerie and lay the makeup on thick with Madonna-caliber ruby red lipstick and stand-out liquid eyeliner. Who cares how overstated your make up appears when i/ts for his eyes only?

4. Remember, he doesn’t care that your body is night and day to what it was pre-kids. He’s just pysched to be feeling the love and not having to take an attention number at the end of the line for once, that is if you don’t succumb to the exhaustion of your three-kid day before the arranged hot, at-home date “pick up” time.

Lest I should forget the pointers for your husband/partner/lover:

1. Lovingly spread out a quilt with sentimental value to you both (the wool plaid one the cops busted you on in 1996 making out by the river’s edge) on the playroom floor. Having grown bored of your bedroom, the playroom will have to do, even if fooling around within inches of your daughter’s Dora the Explorer doll that incessantly chirps, “Do you like Daddy? I like Daddy. Do you? Do you? Do You?” Map-fatuated Dora might as well shout, “Who’s your Daddy?!” for the kid-free HAHD moments soon to unfurl.

(I just realized that HAHD could be used to shorten "Had a Hard Day" or "Husband's are Hairy Dudes."

2. Melt a chemically stinging Listerine Breath Strip on your tongue while lighting the few candles not yet nibbled on by the kids. S.O.S. to the meddling chitlins: Just because it looks like chocolate, smells like chocolate and vaguely tastes like chocolate doesn’t mean it IS chocolate. Haven’t you ever heard of hardened wax? Quit pulling all the wicks out and trying to floss your teeth with them while we’re at it.

3. Take a moment to be thankful that the kids haven’t yet stuffed the brand spankin’ new CD player with rock-filled mud pies like the last one. Press “play” to cue up “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer. Hit “pause” in waiting for your surely-by-now-pruney wife to finally climb out of the damn shower. Stop for a split jealous second to wonder why your wife finds wavy maned John Mayer so smokin’, so irresistible. Jesus, she’s almost obsessed with him. With those lips. That hair. That smoldering, velveteen voice. Next, scheme of ways to conveniently “lose” said John Mayer CD and see how long it takes the wife to notice.

4. Light some earthy yet mild incense, but not too close to the smoke alarm this time. Recoil for a second imagining the blaring smoke alarm beeeeep-beeeeep-beeeep sending the kids leaping from their beds, right toward your carefully planned seduction scene.

Wait … One final pointer for the wife/partner/lover preparing for a hot, at-home date, don’t get caught blogging when you are supposed to be making headway on wife pointer number 3 (“hop in the shower”). Getting busted not at all preparing for a HAHD is the least sexy activity of all. I’d better go now if I know what’s really, really, really good for me.

Planning this much for a (moody) booty call should be illegal. Scratch all the above lame pointers and start from scratch, wherever it may lead. Even if it's too the toy-littered playroom floor.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Strange Fruit: The Rosy Afterlife of Two Placentas Buried in My Front Yard - Part Two

Two glasses of merlot can change everything, especially intentions. I'm rushing like a mo fo to complete this post before the stroke of midnight in order to keep up with NaBloPoMo. I feel like a tipsy Cinderella, staring down the clock, fearing that my fancy coach/buggy will -- poof -- turn into a pumpkin and I'll end up either stranded in the sidebar or thumbin' a mystery ride to the end of this post.

I'm supposed to be blogging tonight about my strange fascination with my trio of placentas and placenta rituals the world over. So here I go.

A pretty bud from Pigtail Sprite's (we think) authentic placenta-fertilized thriving amethyst rose bush.

I left off in a tizzy last night moaning superfluously about my high-risk pregnancy with my first child, my son, The Maestro of Mouth, now 5. Let's speed up to the here and now. So, my two latest placentas from the home births of my youngest children are buried in the front yard, perpetually fertilizing the rose bushes sprouting upward, reaching toward the children's bedroom windows. Perhaps they are trying to reconnect with the babies they once nourished. Doubtful.

My husband, who you'll recall buried both placentas without my knowledge one full moon night, doesn't remember which child's placenta is buried beneath which child's bedroom window. This upset me even more than not being part of what I had hoped to be a memorable albeit freaky ritual.

I don't know if the placenta-fed rose bush stretching faster than our wildest dreams toward the window pane of 2-year-old Pigtail Sprite's room "belongs" to her. And I don't know whether the overly thorn spiked, dwarfed and not yet budding stubble of a rose branch creeping closer to the ground than to 3-year-old Moody Cheeks McGee's room "belongs" to him. It matters to me which belongs to whom, but I'll never know. "Pauvre bebe," as ma tante Claudette used to say to me in a thick French-Canadian accident whenever I was feeling bad for myself as a lanky little girl.

Moody Cheeks McGee's (we think) overly thorny placenta-fed rose bush. Thorny like his hot temper.

I often wonder while tossing a half-eaten by Pigtail Sprite Nerf football around the parched, sunburned front lawn with the boys if the state of each rose bush is indicative of the state of the placenta at full birth-maturation. Cheek's placenta was hulking, deformed and had grown dangerously old. My midwife thought it looked better suited for twins than for a single baby.

I remember walking into the bathroom just moments after delivering Cheek's placenta and nearly passing out at the gorey sight of the afterbirth sliced open on the counter near the sink. My midwife poked the bloodied, fleshy single-use organ and flipped it like an omelet with her gloved hands, the ones that had only moments before magically helped glide Cheek's out of me with a literally ass-saving perineal massage.

By my third child, maternal placenta inspection (and worship?) wasn't even a consideration for me. "Just bag it, please," I curtly told my midwife, who'd offered me a glance at the meaty mass, again heaped on my bathroom counter, halved for her close scrutiny.

Pigtail Sprite's mauve rose bush can't be stopped. It reaches her window again and again, even after persistent pruning.

The condition of the placenta upon delivery can be a window into the overall health of the pregnancy, baby and even the mother. Then there's the practical business of making sure no placenta particles are left inside your womb to rot and cause infection and painful cramps, as if you won't be gripped with afterpains anyway.

Can I just cheesily say at this point that we women rock? Think of it -- We co-create life, bring it/push it into being all on our own (without dying, in most cases) and even manage to (creatively/respectfully or not) dispose of the no longer necessary nourishing organ effortlessy conjured up in just nine months.

Hey, have you ever heard of a Lotus Birth? At least I didn't try that, not to knock those who have. I believe it's when the mother leaves the delivered placenta attached to the newborn via umbilical cord for as long as possible, maybe even until it ages/degenerates enough to fall away from the child on its own. I can imagine it's a pretty intricate and smelly endeavor but never wanted to find out for myself.