Friday, November 28, 2008

attention shoppers

First things first. The moral of this story is never to be texting an extremely sensitive conversation, with someone's heart on the line, while fighting off 2,000 Japanese tourists in search of the very last green GAP hoodie, size xxl, in the world, for your son. Got it?

(I realize it is way un-PC to specify that they were Japanese tourists, but they were in fact Japanese tourists, so deal with it.)

So we went to bed one recent summer night and awakened to freezing black winter. (Um, hello? Has anyone seen fall?) As such, it's time to outfit the kids for the various forms that winter takes in our inclement state. Sometimes a long-sleeved t-shirt will suffice, other days a hoodie is your best bet, and then there are the sideways rain days where you pull out the puffy parkas and scarves and wooly hats that frizz your hair to oblivion. Anyway, my kids grow an average of six inches a week, so of course they needed all new stuff. Off to Old Navy to stock up on the essentials. Quinn is a dream. Some pants (size 16! He's 10!), some sweats, some hoodies, and big man undies, and he's set. (Papa got him shoes later.)

But Christ Almighty, then there's Reilly. I love my daughter. More than words can convey, but this girl would have Mother Teresa screaming for corporal punishment if she were ever to shop with my precious daughter. Here's the problem: She doesn't want some fucked-up Miley Cyrus bullshit, she's not into goth, nor makeup, nor any look in particular, she simply doesn't like anything. Ever. She has a closet full of clothes and wears the same black pants and black shirt everyday. She even confessed, to my OCD horror, that she recently pulled her outfit from the hamper and rolled it with my lint roller so as to give the appearance of cleanliness. OMG. Needless to say my experience with her was in stark contrast to my easy-breezy twenty minute spree with Quinn.

Rather than threatening to make her wear yellow Wal*Mart sweat suits all winter, I hatched the ingenious plan to have a girls' day and head to the GAP in Woodburn. In retrospect I believe the only reason she agreed to go was for the frappucino she got en route. But I digress... We got a killer parking spot (I am known for this), and approached the door, beating off the swarms of people pouring out the door. We pushed our way back to the kids' section and began perusing the inventory. I had made it clear to Rei that we were looking for coats, hoodies, pants, WINTER GARMENTS. Naturally she made a bee-line for some ridiculous, 80's polka-dotted, repulsive hat that made me vomit, discreetly. I redirected her to the jackets, where she was ambivalent, but eventually decided on a really cute one because I manipulated her and told someone she admires has a coat like that. She will never wear it. (Hasn't worn it yet, tags still on.)

Now might be a good time to mention that Rei has certain wardrobe rules, even though I know I shouldn't let her. She will not wear most coats, jeans, sweaters, jeans, any shoe that is not a flip-flop, nor jeans. She is so skinny that when we cinch them up there's like a softball-sized knot in her back. She wants to wear shorts and flip-flops with some ugly threadbare pullover handed down by the aforementioned person whose fashion sense she admires. I recently threw it away in hopes of ushering in a new era. So I patiently watched as she browsed ear muffs, pajamas, belts, heinous patent leather things, waiting for her to spy some pants or anything else on the list. The hoodies were buy-one-get-one, so after slaughtering at least twenty people to get some for Quinn, I coaxed Rei into picking out some too. I forced her into one pair of jeans, that fit perfectly, and when I asked if she would wear them, she said, "I don't really do denim." For $28.00 I was not pushing it.

That concluded our GAP bonanza, and we snagged a sweet spot at 75th in line at the registers. We (I) opted to give Old Navy another go, and I re-learned the futility of trying to make her see the allure of jeans. Rei does have a bit of an edge, and is drawn to skulls and pirate stripes and all the things you dream of for your daughter. We found a hoodie, a shirt, and praise be to Jesus, ten more colors of the black yoga pants she wears everyday. I mean, every color was absolutely abhorrent, because they're yoga pants and should only be black, but she's so skinny you do what you gotta do, even if it means allowing her to get pink ones (puke), sky blue ones (wretch), grey ones (eh), and wisely, more black ones. All in all, I was pleased, but we still had to tackle the most volatile clothing issue: shoes. We had already scoured heaven and earth for the perfect skater shoes, to no avail. She really wanted to go to the skate shop in the mall, and in my sweaty, throw-in-the-towel-and-let-her-wear-flip-flops-all-winter desperation, I dragged my carcass to the ridiculous shop, with her skipping 50 feet in front of me. She immediately spied what she wanted, and I heaved a sigh of relief that they were actually pretty cute. And only cost about three months' wages. So I called Todd, who was so glad I had undertaken this mammoth, maddening task, and not him, that he readily agreed to getting the shoes.

With our bags full of every black garment we could cull from the racks, as well as the black shoes, we set out for the car. To my absolute dread, Reilly reminded me that last time we were in the mall I promised to go into one of those hepatitis/who-knows-what-else, riddled photo booths (which are spelled "foto" booths for chrissake!). I had grown rather irritable as our seemingly failed shopping trip wore on, so I thought it might help end the night on a sweet note if I indulged my girl and crammed my ass into this diseased claustrophobia nightmare for her. Please try not to conjure up images of a hippo in a VW Beetle okay? But it was bad. The first problem was everything. These booths are made for three of Reilly, not one of her mama. We scrunched onto the bench and the screen showed that while Rei looked bright-eyed and smiley, I was only sagging shirt and cleavage. For those who don't know, I'm 6'1", so I didn't line up right for the camera. Thus began what ought to have been my olympic gold medalist contortionist routine, wherein I slumped off the three-inch-wide bench, onto the dirt/spit/god knows-covered floorboard so the camera could see my face, a feat about which I was none too thrilled. Okay but that wasn't enough of a sacrifice, for the camera still only showed my shoulders. So I literally sat on the floor, and unfurled my mile-long legs completely out of the booth, to be seen by every passing gawker, and positioned myself so that we could get our $3.00 worth with these damned pictures! Might I qualify by saying, well, no need, you'll see the pics. For what they are, they turned out alright, except one, wherein I inexplicably french kissed my daughter. No really. She tilted her head to make room for her ginormous mother, and somehow my instinctive response was to make out with her. Please don't call protective services, this really isn't a normal practice in our family. I was simply trying to salvage what I could of our merriment-turned-to-angst.

Despite my frustrations, I'm proud to report mission accomplished, all the way down to the shoes. As for Reilly's enthusiasm for her hard-won bags of loot, well, she has worn the same black pants and black shirt everyday since. Sigh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

13 going on 10

Quinn turned ten. He crossed that threshold into double digits, and I'm surprisingly mournful about it. His doctor said recently that physically he is already 13, a surprise to no one, but his tender heart is still ten, and very much mine, and I never want that to change.

T and I were reflecting how it has come to be that our gentle giant is now ten, and he reassured me by saying, "In all fairness, Quinn has been ten since he was one." It's so true. He spoke in full sentences by 6-7 months, and used to point to the night sky and say so sweetly, "Have it, the moon?" He used to pull the hair on T's chest and say, "Papa has a lot of grass on his chest!" He was the most loving baby in the world, and that hasn't changed, though he is establishing, to my heartache, some autonomy. He's a boy, and plays Halo, and watches these You Tube videos about geeks that, really, are so painful, I wonder if he should be in a special helmet. Last year for his birthday he wanted Legos, and this year he wanted video grabbers, splicing thingies, connector cables, and all the apparatus that mark his entry into tween geekdom. Sigh.

I had my babies 17 months apart, which was totally insane. Sometimes, when I would be rocking them both all day, having long forgotten about showers and food, I'd remember the words of Erma Bombeck: "The days are long but the years are short." While it was profoundly true, it gave me very little comfort then, and sadly, it gives me less comfort now, now that they are half grown. Soon I will release them into the wild, and am bound to love them, no matter what. Even if they opt out of college (gasp!), get ugly piercings, drive motorcycles, date losers, or pull some goth bullshit. Obviously, becoming Republicans is the deal breaker, and I'd no longer be obligated to love them. But I still would. They're my babies, and I'm so not ready to let go. I'd still carry them to bed if Quinn wasn't taller than me, and if Reilly didn't have a 100-piece menagerie that require being transported in a very specific series of blankets and strings.

Now they cook, text their friends, have sovereignty over their hair (shudder), clothing, Quinn drives, and they know more about my phone and the computer than I do. I know should be grateful, and I am, but their independence is a double-edged sword. Quinn is best friends with his dad, which melts my heart, since fabulous fathers are tragically scarce, but I grab him up and hold him as often as he'll let me.

So to commemorate his passage into near-adulthood, we lavished him with video equipment galore, and between Papa, aunties, and both grandmas, the kid raked in enough cash to buy some property. We all went to Red Robin, where I managed not to have a panic attack, and then back home for his succulent Konditerei cake.

Happy birthday my precious boy, you've made me the happiest mama ever!

Quinn and Rei nestled in the loot:

Rei opening her card:

The cake, which I could not eat, which I did eat:

Quinny's great big card-o-cash:

Cherished Halo action figures:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

bacon redemption

Things got pretty desperate this morning in my epic and pitiful quest for breakfast. I pulled myself along the carpet, foaming at the mouth, speaking in tongues, until I became too weak to speak at all. With my deteriorating mental acuity, I likened myself to Smeagol, scrambling about on all fours, skin sallow, hair falling out, scavenging hopefully for a dead fish under the computer chair or perhaps some maggots on a bookshelf. But my hunting prowess leaves a lot to be desired, and I totally struck out.

Todd got up and set about his weekly mission to pawn all the rotting fruit onto us, and today he started with pears (perhaps my least favorite fruit). Nevertheless, no Smeagol in her right mind would pass up any food at this point, so I snatched it away and ate it crouched in the corner, hissing at anyone who neared. "It's a wonder," I thought, "that Todd just got up and started peeling fruit. I never would have thought of that."

The pears gave me just the boost I needed to commence my extended weekend ritual cleaning extravaganza. We're talking bleaching sinks, mopping the laundry room, cowering under the computer desk to wipe down those dusty atrocious cords, taking toothpicks to offending crevices, wiping down cupboards and baseboards (is anyone else having an orgasm?). One of my dreaded chores is changing the sheets in the master bedroom Todd and I share alternatingly. The mattress is really thick so one has to pull the corners of the sheet as if s/he were Hulk Hogan to make it fit and it typically makes me sweat, which really pisses me off. So I was just stripping the bed down to its nakedness when T appeared and said, "Hey, I'll make the bed if you'll cook this bacon." In an instant, thoughts of greasy splatters sullying the stove top I just cleaned emerged, and I blurted out, "No way." But then, as I fumbled with the bitch of a fitted sheet, I remembered that B bakes her bacon. With one percent guilt for cheating, I told Todd I would in fact accept his deal, and I put the bacon in the oven. Twenty minutes later, having forgotten all about it, vacuuming away, T rescued it from being burned to a cinder and we basically swam in strips of delicious perfection until we hurt. Much like Scrooge McDuck swam through his money. Bacon has always been a real dilemma for me because it's splendid (right Gab?), yet messier than a motherfucker, which is not worth it for me. But today I outsmarted it, and what a delectable coup that was.

I just hope T has another deal for me at lunchtime...

self pity rant

I'm just beginning the third week of my new lifelong, do-not-pass-go, no-possibility-of-parole, sentence of eating essentially Top Ramen and wheat germ for the rest of my life. I survived the first week because B baked me some uber-healthy muffins which were definitely dense in that earthy way, but very tasty. Ever the lazy bastard, I basically just ate those for every meal. Then I got all motivated and started making salsadillas for lunch. (Avocado and salsa on a corn tortilla, sans cheese [oh cheese].)

Week two found me in a compromised mental state, so I checked into Chez Kinch, where I slept and slept and slept and was awakened for custom-made treats such as the best wraps in the world, delectable scones, meat charred to perfection, an assortment of potatoes (with real commercial ketchup!), and so much more. I had approximately 1.5 brain cells functioning, and never did I strain them to think about what to eat.

Back at the home front, I am the first one up today and in need of nourishment so I can take my pills, so I don't go crazy, yada yada yada. I hunted Like Man vs. Wild for some grub (even a real grub would do), but alas, all I can find is sourdough bread, chocolate donuts, yogurt, pudding, bagels, protein powder (can't have the whey), waffles, and a spider in the corner above me. Now, we know what Bear Grylls would do. He'd roast the spider over a match and then wash it down with his own urine, or whose ever urine happened to be lying around his neck in a snake skin. But this is a tiny spider, not enough to chase down my 1,105 pills. We all know I don't cook, but there isn't much here even if I did. I can't have pot roast for breakfast, nor soup, that's just wrong. All my avocados went bad the week I was spent at B's, stupid bastards. On the bright side, today is grocery day, but I don't even know what to put on the list. I think my cooking retardation ought to entitle me to a handicap tag for my car. I so desperately want the sourdough toast. Damn you all. And coffee? We'd better not even go there, lest I kill someone.

Fuck it, I just won't take the pills. Then I'll have another breakdown and go back to B's. Take that Bear Grylls.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

tears on my pillow...and everywhere else

Where were you when Kennedy was shot? Me? I was a drug-addicted, brilliant con man sperm, and across the country, a super feminist artist egg. The twain would not meet for 14 years, though I will note that even as some random cellular glop, I was studying the Kennedys, and have never stopped. I always felt remiss that I was nowhere to be found on that devastating historical day.

Little did I know I'd be front and center for our generation's question of the century:

Where were you when you saw/heard the words, 'CNN'S PROJECTED WINNER, PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA?'

As 30 of you know, I crumpled to a heap on the floor and cried. For five days. I still can't articulate the profundity of that moment. I was certain the Republicans were going to rig it, so when Obama cleaned up that map, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and then BAM! he took the election in a landslide victory, my legs just gave out on me. My heart burst open, my brain turned to static, and all I could do was cry and cry. And cry. In my heart, I am fierce seeker of justice, something we see precious little of these days, no matter where we look. Obama's victory was so totally just it knocked the wind out of me. Literally.

Then there was the little matter of my subsequent nervous breakdown this week, during which I alternately didn't know who Barack Obama was, and licked his picture on the front page of the newspaper. I have no excuse. I'm nuts. I'm just now crawling out of the mental quagmire, so pardon my audacity in thinking I could compose a blog post worth reading. I just Obama had Obama to Obama say Obama something.

Monday, November 3, 2008


On the worst day of your life, the top three songs to avoid at all cost, in order, are:

3. Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

2. Say Hello Wave Goodbye by David Gray

(and the number one slice-your-heart-to-pieces song of all time?)

1. The Promise by Tracy Chapman

I was going to attach links but thought better of it, as I myself half regret knowing these songs exist. (Today, I fully regret it.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

anyone have a couple slings in xxxxxl?

Boy, you can take the kids out of co-sleeping, but it's proving impossible to take the co-sleeping out of the kids. By now, our epic history of nine years together is known by all, and I proudly blogged several months ago about the kids' transition into their own beds. Well, in all fairness, I think a partial retraction is warranted, because the kids still seem bewildered each night when I attempt to shepherd them into their room. I come from a long line of nightowls, who must have a few hours at night to read, fold laundry, watch TV (who, me?), or just flatline in the comfort of some hard-won solitude. But my darlings Quinn and Reilly apparently equate being sent to bed with me biting off their umbilical cords and sending them down the proverbial river. Sigh. They will use every ploy they possess to persuade me to let them sleep in the living room next to me, and often succeed primarily because Reilly is a master at finding that one strand of a heart string I forgot to shield. "Mom we have to sleep out here because I just spent the night with Gia (my mom)." In fairness, she certainly has no problem spending five consecutive nights with my mom, as well she shouldn't. But bring the girl home, and suddenly she will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if she can't sleep in my nostrils. Score one for Rei with the "I just spent the night with Gia" tactic. Another maneuver they use with startling success, it to ask to "sit by" me for "just a while longer," to which I also have no defense because they're so sweet in their jammies, six feet tall, trying to pile on top of me on our ever-falling-apart couch. Sometimes they need to sleep with me because it's raining, or because there's folded laundry on their beds that they're too tired to put away, or because Reilly suspects a migraine might be on its way. "Yes, okay." "Yes, okay." "Yes, okay." After a day spent overseeing chores, lessons, appropriate clothing, flossing, and fighting, it feels so good to be revel in them. I know it's in their best interest to have a bedtime routine and that their pillow-top mattresses are so much better for them than the floor, but jeez, it's so hard to say no to Dalmatian slippers and to a boy giant clutching his prized stuffed animal mushrooms. (These can be seen in the picture below, carefully covered in a blanket) So get off my back okay? That's where my kids sleep!

(I'm sure Todd's relishing his $800 investment in bunk beds...actually, he too feels that kids sleeping on their own is totally counter-intuitive, so he's cool.)