Archive | September, 2010

For My Sister

24 Sep

Whine:  Last night I stepped into my bedroom and into a large, slushy puddle of water simultaneously. After scanning the room for evidence of Tiny Terrorism and finding none, I shrugged and cleaned it up. When I returned to the scene an hour later and the slushy puddle had returned, with a vengeance, I called for back up. Turns out my air conditioner is disgruntled about having to work so late into September and is protesting by spewing water all over my carpet.

Cheese: Mr. Dad just earned his second “Fix the A/C” badge for his Handyman vest. He may have had to rip up the carpet and remove the bedroom door in the process, but at least I’m not borrowing from Big Sis’ college fund to pay for an emergency after-hours repair guy to come rip up my carpet and remove my bedroom door. Because that would be weird.

I want to dedicate today’s post to my sister Wren. Today is her birthday. And if you’ll excuse my language, it’s going to be a really craptastic birthday. Let’s just say it’s been a terribly hard week for her, and today will be no exception. And while I’m glad that she has a cute little house and cute little kids (and of course her hubby, “Uncle Steve”), I’m sad because they are all in sunny Florida. And that’s there and she’s there, and I’m precisely the opposite of that. I’m here.

And it just sucks to be so far away when she needs me to fan her and feed her grapes. (It’s what any good sister would do.) I mean I can’t even mail her a noodle casserole or anything because I’m pretty sure the UPS guy would scarf it all down before it got there because who can resist a noodle casserole??

And so the best I can do is try to make her laugh or at least entertain her. So I’ll probably spend the rest of this post telling stories about the good ol’ days and bore the pants off the rest of you, but I don’t really care because it’s not your birthday, unless it is, in which case you’re still probably not having quite as craptastic of a day as my sister so quit your whining already.

At some point in the early 90s Wren and I went to summer camp together. On the last night of camp there was an all-camp pizza party out on the grassy hill. We were all sitting around talking and hanging out. This apparently was really lame, so some of the boys started playing frisbee with the pizza boxes. Wren and I were ignoring them because we were deeply involved in a conversation in which we discussing our funerals. Looking back, I see how the pizza box frisbee may have broken out, as funeral arrangements are not that interesting to most eighth graders. Just as she was promising to bring flowers to my funeral, I felt something drop out of the sky right onto my head.

Upon further inspection and through choked back tears we discovered that I had just been hit with a full can of Sprite. Apparently the pizza boxes got boring and someone started throwing soda cans. I felt the Sprite spilling down my head, so Wren ran me up the hill to the nurse’s station. Except when we got there I realized it was most certainly not Sprite, but blood, trickling down my forehead. I looked like an extra in a bad axe-murderer movie. (As opposed to the good axe-murderer movie, which is one of mine and Wren’s favorites.)

In the end I was taken to the local middle-of-nowhere hospital, had a few stitches put in (it was merely a flesh wound) and went back to camp to milk my injury for all it was worth. But the thing I remember most was laughing so hard afterward with my sister about the irony of “almost dying” while discussing funeral plans. And the fact that there was someone else in the world with a sense of humor as morbid as mine.

Wren (far left) and I (far right) post soda can episode. Wish I could blame head trauma for my choice of shorts, or should I say jorts?

Wren and I, along with our other three sisters, have shared a lot of life together. School dances, breakups, vacations, and myriad bad style choices (see above). We have played dress up more than any teenagers probably should. We’ve had our fights, although fighting with Wren is pretty useless, as she will just argue until you are beaten down and give up.

A little too much time on our hands, I think.

As we’ve grown up we’ve done everything at almost the same time: gone to college, gotten jobs, gotten married (three weeks apart), and had kids. All the while we’ve remained friends and partners in life.  Our neurotic fixations may have changed over the years, but we still understand each other pretty perfectly. And I’m so glad that when the sky is falling, either literally or figuratively, that we have each other.  Happy birthday, Sis.

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LIFE IN ALL CAPS!

15 Sep

Whine: I CANNOT, CANNOT, CANNOT believe my little baby girl is five years old. Somebody must have accidentally hit FF on my life.

Cheese: Nothing illustrates this more than the hilarious reruns of Dukes of Hazzard I am currently watching. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in front of the tv in my Daisy Duke Underoos waiting to see how long the General Lee would stay airborne. Or was that yesterday?

Having a baby is fun. Not the actual “having” part, but the getting to take one home with you part. Until they are up at all hours ruining your life, but that’s a rabbit trail for another day. But the really fun part of having a baby is that they turn into kids. And as they grow you get to try and figure out who the heck they are becoming.

You spend all your time speculating on every tiny accomplishment because that’s all you have to go on when they are 9 months old. “Ooh, honey, she threw her spaghetti on the floor with her left hand, maybe she’ll be an Olympic softball player and it won’t matter that we haven’t saved for college!”

Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s dicey moments. Like when your three-year-old walks around like a mini-mobster swinging a sock full of batteries and all you see is a future of long visits at the state penitentiary. Or when it seems that her most viable career option might be as a graffiti/tattoo artist.

As they grow, though, more and more patterns begin to emerge. As I’ve watched my precious firstborn, a few things have grown remarkably clear.

Big Sis lives life IN ALL CAPS. She could teach us all a thing or two about living in the present. And speaking of presents, if you are ever having a bad day, just give this girl a present. Anything, even just a pair of Cinderella socks from the dollar store. She will jump and yell and glow like she’s on the Oprah show getting a new Pontiac.

Right before she ran and threw her arms around me and made me cry.

She gets excited about making a plan then making it happen. Like planning her Candyland Cake four months in advance (I really shouldn’t let her watch Cake Boss anymore) or elaborate building-block Eiffel Towers. Or perhaps filling a 5-gallon jug with water to get a drink. Or using her new grabber toy to reach the donuts on the top of the fridge. Occasionally, cleaning up after “inspiration” strikes is a little more than we bargained for. I think I may know how Thomas Edison’s mother must have felt. And they didn’t even have Magic Eraser back then.

Eat your heart out, Cake Boss (& thank you, Kiki!)

Her hyper-planner side has another downside as well, namely that things that do not go according to plan usually result in unparalleled devastation. I have NO idea where she gets THAT from.

Her enthusiasm extends to everyone she meets, usually in the form of an enthusiastic assault hug. She loves to play dress up with her friends and her brother and even with her sister. She shares her toys with her friends and her brother and not so much with her sister. I love watching her mind work, even if I don’t always understand exactly how she comes up with the things she does.

Big Sis aka Jessie the Cowgirl

She hugs with gusto (heimlich, anyone?), laughs like her life depends on it and somehow convinces me to go play in the rain even though I hate getting my hair wet. I hope she never decides to live her life in lowercase.

Need I say more?

Business Class

8 Sep

Whine: Summer is officially over. I sent The Sisters off to their first day of preschool today. That means no more lazy mornings or swimming days or sleeping in our clothes then wearing them the next day. Darn. I might have to start doing laundry.

Cheese: Did you not hear me??? I sent the Sisters off to preschool! I drove several miles in the Sister-free car jamming to Psalty the Singing Songbook before realizing I didn’t have to.

I met some old friends for lunch a few weeks ago. You know, friends so old they remember those bangs you had in the 9th grade and still love you, so they’re really not going to care if you drag your three kids along for lunch. So I did. I spent most of lunch shushing, cutting up of spaghetti, and generally keeping things at a dull roar between bites of my Pasta Fagioli. Not to mention holding Brother Bear at arms’ length on the march to the bathroom because he had exploded in his cute little outfit. Unfortunately I had changes of clothes for everyone but him. Which left me with the choice: parade his naked little self back through the Olive Garden or dress him in Lil’ Sis’ clothes.

Let’s just say he looks pretty good in ruffles.

"But it's a very masculine ruffle, sweetie. . ."

I know businesspeople of varying stripes often meet for lunch to meet and get things done, but I’d put my ‘working lunch’ up against theirs anytime. If you get to eat all your food uninteruppted, you’re not working hard enough.

In a similar vein, ‘vacationing’ with kids, as I may have mentioned in a previous post (or two, or three), is about 1 part vacation and 99 parts work-your-butt-off. One of my friends has decided that any trip with her kids is to be considered a ‘business trip’ and I am going to embrace her terminology from here on out. Too bad I can’t expense it, too.

In the last six weeks we’ve taken two flights and driven 40+ hours, hopped on buses, trams and rental cars.

Traveling with three kids under the age of five is crazy. As in Barnum and Bailey, three-ring circus crazy. My trip to Florida with my mom was no exception. Lil’ Sis had a freak out of epic proportions which began in earnest when the ticket agent had the nerve to take her carseat and put it on the luggage conveyor. The screaming continued from the ticket desk, through security, into the bathroom with those dreadful automatic-flushing potties all the way to the jetway, with intermittent breaks for breath. Finally my mom (aka The Amazing Gigi) got her to calm down by holding her in a vise grip and singing in her ear.

We arrived in Atlanta, ran the gauntlet that is the world’s busiest airport, pushing a stroller, car seats draped over our shoulders, dragging multiple suitcases and trying somewhat unsuccessfully to retain our grips on both the children and our sanity, includng a very family UNfriendly tram to the rental car counter. If my Go-Go-Gadget-Mommy-Arms had been about fifteen seconds slower, Lil’ Sis would have been standing on the tram platform watching the rest of us chug away , which I found highly unsatisfactory. (Suffice it to say we convinced Alamo Rental to give us a ride on the return trip.) The five-hour drive from ATL to Tallahassee was the easiest part of the trip and THAT is saying something.

Our battle scars faded quickly once we arrived at the Promised Land. Hugs and kisses between cousins, introducing Brother Bear to his Aunt Wren, sitting on the couch with my sister eating ice cream pretty much gave me some much-needed travel amnesia. Which apparently Big Sis also had, as she spent the entire week referring to her cousins as “That Girl” and “The Little One” and my sister as “The Person Who Owns This House.” When my brother-in-law came home from being gone all week she rushed to hug him saying “Welcome Home, Uncle Steve!!!” (His name is Dave.)

(From L to R) The Little One, Big Sis, That Girl

We got home from Florida. The return trip was so easy in comparison, there’s not much to tell besides that fact that Lil’ Sis would NOT use the airport potty due to the automatic flushers and held it for seven hours. Good thing I had a spare size 3 diaper to put on her just in case. We got home amid severe upset-tummyitis (yay for me!), and I didn’t even bother to unpack. We left three days later for a family weekend to San Antonio with Mr. Dad’s family.

The trip was fun. We lolled our way down the lazy river, celebrated CharChar’s 1st birthday, and just generally hung out with the fam. Like I said, fun. Relaxing? Let’s not get carried away. There was an unfortunate “short cut” (Road Trips: Now 50% Longer!), a rather pointless “timeshare sales presentation” (because yes, I totally have $25K to spare, I’m so glad you asked), dinners to make, naps to enforce (good luck with that), poolside near-poop experiences to avoid, fussy babies who needed to eat/sleep after I’d been in the water for exactly four minutes.

Oh yeah, then we went to Sea World, because we were in the neighborhood. The weather sign said “His in the low 100s” and it wasn’t lying. Although we lost our body weight in sweat, we did get to see a baby killer whale and it’s Mommy. If that’s not vacation highlight reel material, I don’t know what is.

2 out of the 3 of them know the "gumbo and beignets" they're making are pretend.

Mr. Dad and I had the good sense to wait a while before our next adventure. Like three whole weeks. Our mission: try and cram as much activity into four days as is humanly possible. All told, we drove twenty hours and almost 1,000 miles, ate more delicious food and gourmet ice cream than was really wise, hung out with our awesome aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids, jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool, drafted the best fantasy football team of all time, talked a little trash to the competition and visited an awesome (and free) farm park. The cherry on top was when my friend Jo and her hubby Jon and their Littlest One (in utero) drove 7 hours (round trip) only to stay 24 hours. She’s as crazy as I am.

Lil' Sis and her pal Cousin Laura feeding the ducks.

Three generations of ice-cream lovers.

Me, Jo, Brother Bear and his future BFF.

I’ve stopped in the middle of the whirlwind a few times to question my sanity, doubtless some of you have done the same on my behalf. But in the end Mr. Dad and I have decided to put our money where our mouth is. We say we value family, and now our bank account agrees. So much for that timeshare in Aspen.

Honestly, though, I’m glad it’s over. I’m tired and about two weeks behind on laundry. The girls are ready for some structure, as is evidenced by their continual need to peck at each other’s fleshy parts. In short, we are all vacationed out.

But someday I’m going to be really bored and miss this chaos. Then I’ll stretch my legs in my very own airplane seat, watch what I want on my iPod and sip my diet coke without sharing and realize, hey, if I’m that bored I can just watch the highlight reel.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz