Sunday, October 31, 2010

Belle - she gets around

As I promised my mother, I took her granddaughter to every possible Halloween-related event I could find.  If Meemaw was willing to slave away over yellow fabric for weeks on end, the least I could was to make sure the kid was seen in the glorious Belle gown.  We attended three different events this weekend.  And of course the actual trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  My daughter has had a sugar buzz for about three days straight. 

I'd been holding the trick-or-treating gig over her head for the past week or so.  I told her that for each infraction, I'd take five houses off the list.  I may or may not have implied that those five houses are known to give out full-size candy bars. Listen, I work with what I've got.  Thank goodness I can roll out the ever-useful S-A-N-T-A threat shortly.

Earlier today, we had a minor battle over lunch.  I'd made steamed cauliflower, couscous with pine nuts, and drop biscuits.  Okay, not the most interesting meal but we are running low on groceries. Don't judge me! Anyway, I invoked the "you have to try at least one bite" rule on the cauliflower.  A sat with it in her mouth for about a month of Sundays. Finally she started sputtering and whining about how she had to spit it out.  She did so, and I promptly put her in time-out for being rude about the meal I had cooked. I should add that I'd put a bit of butter, salt, and cheddar cheese on the cauliflower to make it more palatable to her.  I only required her to eat a tiny bite. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to my mother for all the grief I gave her at mealtime as a child.

After being paroled from time-out, the kid seemed to realize that trick-or-treating was possibly in jeopardy.  She ran back to her room and started churning out letters of apology.  The first one says, "I am sor e mama and but I sil lve yuo."  (still love you) She delivered another one to me a few minutes later, laying it on a little thicker this time. This one said that she couldn't wait to "gv yuo a hug."  And finally the third one: "I cat wt to gv yuo anotor hug mom."  Oh my.

So yes, I took her trick-or-treating. I gave A one assignment, which was to score a Peppermint Patty for Mama.  She accepted the challenge and we were off. I pulled her around our 'hood in a wagon full of blankets since temperatures have dropped and princess gowns are not known for keeping a kid toasty. She kept getting excited and breaking into a run, at which time her tiara would fly off her head.  She was having a great time, though. We trick-or-treated until Belle realized she desperately had to pee, so I brought her home.  Once her bladder had been emptied, we emptied her bag onto the counter. Would you believe there was not a single Peppermint Patty in the pile?  I mean, honest to God, you give a kid ONE job . . .  She says she "really tried" but frankly, I just don't feel like she gave it her all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yoga, Yo

I tried a yoga class for the first time last night.  I must admit I have been curious about yoga for most of my adult life.  I've often been tempted to purchase a yoga mat and try it at home but then I remember: "The dogs will step on my head."  At our service auction at church last week, I (apparently caught up in the festive spirit of the 60s-themed event) signed up for a "yoga party" to be held in January. A few days later, I decided to check out the yoga studio's website to see what I'd gotten myself into.  The first introductory class is free - well, that's an offer I can't refuse.  The site did a good job of making me feel like beginners would be not be shunned, so I decided to give it a try.

I have a few reasons why I've wanted to try yoga.  For starters, the mind-body connection continues to elude me.  I seem to suffer from what the Buddhists call "monkey mind."  My brain is full of distracting worries and I do not know how to quiet them. Inner peace is a foreign concept to me. But, I truly, truly want to get there. Plus, yoga provides numerous physical benefits and since I'm expecting to need this body for at least a couple more decades* I should probably try to take care of it.  I do belong to a gym and actually show up there fairly regularly, but I feel like maybe I need both - the calorie-burning workout at my gym and the strength and flexibility-building of the yoga session. Maybe yoga will also help me to be more self-aware, to be able to stop myself in those moments when I find myself standing in my kitchen with a handful of cookies (usually some variety that I don't even like all that much).  I eat too much, I probably drink too much . . . yes, I have been relegated to the status of a walking Dave Matthews song.

I showed up at the studio about ten minutes before class, not really sure what to expect.  The lights were low and I caught the vague scent of . . . I guess I'm not sure what. It was akin to the aromatherapy scents you find at a spa when you get a massage (and since I've had three massages in my adult life, I think you'll agree that I'm an expert on this). There was a sign on the desk that read "bare feet only after this point."  I peeked around the corner and found the instructor, who helped me get set up with a mat and other equipment (a strap that is used for certain poses, a blanket, and a cork block that looked like an over-sized brick). I was relieved to see that it was a small class.  I knew I'd feel self-conscious regardless, but if I have to look like a dork, I'd rather have as small an audience as possible.

As soft music played, I did my best to keep up through the series of yoga poses.  The instructor called it "your practice" as in, "you may want to add inversions to your practice."  I inherited bad hips from my mom (thanks again, mamacita!) and struggled with a bit of discomfort on a few of the poses, but mostly I did manage to get my chubby limbs into something vaguely close to what was expected.  I noticed that I was the only one in the room who broke a sweat, but also knew that the other students had been coming for quite a while. Oh, and get this - it turns out that "downward dog" is a legit pose and not just some made-up thing you say when making fun of yoga. At the end, we laid on our mats and the instructor handed each of us a cooled eye pillow (filled with flax seeds, I believe?) There is a multi-syllable term for this meditative period, but I forget what it is.  I really enjoyed it.  I did feel, for just a second there, like I was truly at rest - physically and mentally.

After class, the instructor told me that I'd done well (and didn't even add "for your first time").  I definitely plan to go back.  I also need one of those eye pillows, I think. The things I won't be able to see! Naked Barbies on the floor of my home, glitter from art projects all over the couch, a sliding glass door perpetually smeared with with dog slime. I may just strap that tiny pillow to my head full-time.

*My daughter apparently does not expect me to be around that much longer because she keeps starting sentences with, "Mama, when you're dead . . ."  A few weeks ago it was, "Mama, when you're dead can I have your marrying dress?"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's a draw

Although there are moments when I think it would be nice to have another kid around, I'm generally very content with just one.  A keeps asking for a sibling, of course.  She says, "I want a sister who's five just like me!"  I keep telling her, "That's usually called a twin and it's, um, not happening."  Anyhow, as parents of onlies can attest, keeping a single child entertained can be a challenge at times.  Therefore, I was pleased as punch when my daughter embarked on a coloring/drawing kick recently.  She sits for a solid hour or two at a time, churning out artwork at a steady pace.

The drawings are generally of me, her dad, her, her teacher, and her teacher's cat (Cookie).  She is also learning to write, so many of the pictures have words on them.  A few days ago she handed me a drawing on which she had written: "I like fire."  I really do not know what to say about that.  She learned to write the word after a recent fire safety week (and trip to the local fire station).  However, I do not think this was the intended effect of the lesson.

Here are a couple of samples of recent masterpieces.  You should be able to click on them to see a larger version.

Here is one of me and P. I am always depicted in a dress, even though I only wear a dress or skirt about four times a year in actuality. Not that I don't like wearing dresses; it's more like I live in a part of the country where winter lasts about eight months and pants are simply more practical.  Oh, and please don't make fun of my husband's T-Rex arms - he's very sensitive about them.  Although he is eight inches taller than I am, the proportions are actually a bit off in this drawing.  He only wishes my head was naturally right at the level of his nether region.

Here is one of the whole fam damily.  Note that we allow her to eat ice cream cones that are the same size she is.

Here is a drawing of everyone we know, wearing a sombrero.  Including our dog Gideon (at bottom).

Finally, here is my favorite: the tooth fairy
I get a kick out of many of the drawings.  Some of them make me wonder about her quality control procedures, such as the drawing she handed me the other day, which was a sheet of solid blue.  "It's a lake," she said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pardon the dust

I'm doin' a little renovating. The other blog design was just supposed to be up until I was discovered by a major literary agent and then handsomely rewarded for my limitless talent, at which time I could afford to pay for a custom design.  Shockingly, this has not happened.  So, I'm going generic all the way. I've swapped the color scheme at least a dozen times today so don't be surprised if the palette changes a few more times.  I refuse to commit.

In other news, a few days ago I was contacted by the program chairperson at my church.  She said that the program committee met last week and because I did such a stellar job the first two times I presented a topic at Sunday service, they wondered if I would be willing to speak again in February.  Part of me thought, "Oh, how flattering!" and another part thought, "Oh, they must be running low on speakers."  Regardless, I agreed to do it.  Now I just need to come up with a good topic.  Typically, each speaker tackles a subject that ties in with the seven principles or is at least spiritual in some way.

So far I've considered the following topics:
  • Merging into moving traffic: why it's not as hard as people seem to think.
  • A two-pronged study of Subway restaurants: a) what's up with hiding the napkins so that I have to come up to the counter and beg for them if my child spills orange Fanta all over me? and b) how come 100% of all Subway employees fail to understand what "just a little light mayo, please" means?  
  • Why my daughter directs all requests/pleas/miscellaneous whining to me, even when her father is standing right there.
Needless to say, I've got some additional brainstorming to do.

In the meantime, I insist that you kick off your weekend by listening to this upbeat little ditty:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sister Wives

I realize that every blogger on the planet has already weighed in on the show “Sister Wives.” I have tried to refrain, but now it’s bugging me and I can’t help myself. The show airs on Sunday evenings (well, it did – I think it’s actually done now for the season). P works on Sundays evenings, so I get about a half hour to myself after the kid goes to bed. So of course I use that time to read Faulkner watch sub-standard television programs.

Mostly, I have this expression on my face when I watch:

Me, perplexed and befuddled
A few thoughts come to mind during the course of the show. One: is there some sort of man shortage in Utah? I mean, seriously? Four women are wedded to this lone man, Kody Brown (only the first one is a legal marriage, however). It’s hard for me to comment on the apparent attraction to this particular man, because personally I am not drawn to him. I go for the traditional “tall, dark, and handsome” deal myself. My other half is more like “tall, grey, and handsome” these days, but I still dig him. In any case, Kody is essentially the opposite. I believe that Kody thinks Kody is attractive, however.

The next thought is: what is up with all the chicks wearing long-sleeved shirts under short-sleeved shirts? Watch an episode and you’ll see what I mean. It’s an unfortunate fashion epidemic. It should be stopped.

The third thought is basically just a big question mark over my head. If all parties involved are truly happy, aren’t committing any crimes, and are willing participants, who am I to judge? I definitely struggle to get my brain around the concept of polygamy, though. I don’t know if the sister wives just bury the jealousy or deal with it head-on, but I’m hard-pressed to believe it’s not part of their daily lives. When I look at Meri, the first wife, I’d swear I see real pain in her eyes. I mean, religious convictions aside, how do you kiss your husband good-night every evening and send him off to some other broad’s bed? And how do you do that when the new wife, Robyn, is significantly younger and possibly cuter than you are? 

Also, what do you tell your children, particularly daughters? “Listen, sweetie, you’re not special enough to keep the attention of a man all by yourself. So, plan to settle for leftovers every fourth night.”

There have been times when I’ve thought it would be ideal to have a second husband. However, this would be purely a platonic thing. I would feed him and let him play PS3 games and whatnot, of course. Second husband would fill the role first husband refuses to fill which is, “giving a shit about our house.”  I already have the list of handyman tasks on the refrigerator - I just need the handyman. I guess I won't search for him in Utah, what with the shortage and all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Belle Belle Belle

I hear the word "Belle" (as in, "Beauty and the Beast") about 80 times a day. Belle dress, Belle movie, Belle shoes, Belle Belle Belle. "The Bells" by Edgar Allan Poe always springs to mind.  Not a normal mind, just mine.

My daughter has been obsessed with the princess in the yellow gown for  the past year or two.  As Disney heroines go, I have to admit she's not that bad (a slightly better role model than the princesses who do nothing but wait for the dashing menfolk to save them from an endless slumber and whatnot).  Belle is bookish and loyal.  She's a brunette - always a plus.  The movie itself is the soundtrack to long car rides and to my life in general.  I think I know every song, every word of dialogue.

There goes the baker with his tray, like always
The same old bread and rolls to sell

Last year, A was Super Girl for Halloween.  I knew that she regretted the decision almost immediately (although her nerdy, comic book-loving dad was thrilled with the choice) once she spotted some princess gowns at Target.  But it was too late - we already had the other costume. So, on November 1st, literally the day after Halloween, she announced that she would be Belle the next year. "Well, call Meemaw and ask her," I suggested.

So we did.  My mother, powerless against a tiny little voice asking her, "Meemaw, would you make me a Belle dress?" agreed to make the gown.  In the 11 months since that time, my daughter has called her Meemaw regularly to assess her progress on the dress.  My mother should be glad my daughter does not yet know how to dial her number - otherwise the calls would have been daily.  The kid is still young enough to buy excuses like "I'm pretty sure Meemaw's not home right now."  My mother lives 1,000 miles away and could be naked on the roof for all I know, but let's just say my spidey sense keeps track of her whereabouts.

As Halloween 2010 approached, I let my mom know that since she was going to so much trouble to make this ornate gown, I in turn would take the kid to every possible Halloween-related event in town. I mean, this kid would be SEEN. I called her last week and let her know that the first such event would be held on the 16th. I heard silence and then "Whaaaaaaaat?"

So, God love her . . . she took it right down to the wire and overnighted the dress to us. My daughter was over the moon when she saw the box and demanded to try the gown on immediately.  As scheduled, we attended our first Halloween event yesterday.  It was held at the zoo and every time someone would say, "Oh, it's Belle!" my daughter would hold her princess-y head just a little higher.

Here it is, in all its glory. Belle Belle Belle Belle!

 From The Bells:

Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In other news . . . I have a lover

He has soulful brown eyes.  He is totally devoted to me and follows me wherever I go, listening with rapt attention to whatever I say.  He gets jealous when I try to kiss others. I think it's time I introduced you to my new man: Benny.
I love his dark brindle coat, his stocky build, and his big, blocky head.  His breath smells like a rotting carcass topped with fresh vomit but hey, nobody's perfect.  Poor hygiene is no reason to reject a fella.

The only other stumbling block in our relationship: his steadfast refusal to seek gainful employment. It's okay, though.  I'll get a second job if I have to so that we can be together. He is staying with me until he proposes or gets adopted, whichever comes first.

Our love cannot be denied.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh, Emily . . . we're so sorry.

After 10+ years of volunteering for a Boxer rescue organization, I can take just about anything in stride. Nothing really grosses me out (and I’ve seen some foul shit attached to and coming out of various dogs, let me tell you). Dogs come and go from my home and I find something to love about each one of them. I try to focus on the pooches we can and do help and not the ones we couldn’t or didn’t. Otherwise, my heart would break at least once a day. People are constantly sending us emails containing dire pleas like “This dog will be PTS on Friday!” PTS is shelter lingo for “put to sleep.” Most of the time, the dog is far away and we already have our hands full just trying to help local dogs.

Last week, however, a friend of mine tagged me in a photo she put on Facebook. She lives a few states away. I became acquainted with her originally because she founded the rescue for which I volunteer. She founded the rescue and then I came along and offered the one skill I have: my ability to organize stuff. I got us set up with our 501(c)(3) status and all that jazz. We became friends and worked together very closely, establishing and growing the rescue. For the first year or so, it was just the two of us, doing what we could for the Boxers. Eventually, though, she remarried and moved out of state while I carried on with what she had started.

Anyway, a poorly-bred but very sweet middle-aged Boxer showed up at her local shelter last week. No name, no history. The dog was a wreck: a nasty open mass on her rear leg, sizable lumps along her mammary chain, etc. With local rescues being full and not a lot of other resources available in that area, I talked with our President and Vice President and we agreed to give this Boxer girl a shot. We are fortunate in that we just had a fundraiser and can technically afford to help a dog like this.

Many, many volunteers worked together to arrange the transport across several states. One of our volunteers drove for hours to meet the last leg of the transport. The journey was over 400 miles in total. Somewhere along the line, this nameless girl was dubbed Emily. Everyone agreed that she was just as sweet as the day is long. She was so happy to have any little bit of attention. She soaked up every pat, every hug. Emily touched a lot of hearts along the way.

Finally, she arrived at the home of one of our volunteers, who immediately took Emily to one of our regular veterinarians. We had lots of reasons to be alarmed about Emily’s health status. The open mass on her leg smelled hellacious and kept her from walking normally. The masses on her mammary chain were also of concern, because such growths are often a telltale sign that what’s happening on the inside (lungs, etc.) is much worse than what is going on externally. However, our hope was to have the growth on her leg removed and then address the other issues. Emily wiggled and did a happy dance every time she met a new person. This was probably the first time in her life that anyone had taken such an interest in her.

Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The veterinarian had an entire “to do” list for Emily: if item 1 goes okay, proceed to item 2, and so forth. The bad news came early, though, when the pre-anesthetic blood work came back with some not-so-great results. Her x-rays were okay, though, so Dr. Jeff proceeded. He took her into surgery and opened her up. What he found was that she was full of cancer from stem to stern. The lymph nodes were involved and the tumors on the mammary chain were significant and deep. Her prognosis was bleak. She had no more than a few weeks to live and her body would not have been able to tolerate even the removal of the smelly mass on her leg. The kindest thing was to let her go while she was still under anesthesia.

We are all saddened by her death, of course. Our only source of consolation is knowing that she was so loved for the last few days of her life and that she did not die on a cement floor in a shelter. So many people were pulling for her, but we were too late. Every year, our rescue loses a few of the 70+ dogs we help annually. We typically lose one or two to untreatable medical conditions and a few more to temperament issues that cannot be overcome. It is, unfortunately, part of the deal. The vast majority of the dogs are adopted and spend the rest of their days holding down the couch in a loving home. It is cases like Emily’s though, that make it hard not to hang my head and cry. Occasionally I do exactly that, but it doesn’t really help matters. Why did someone allow her to suffer for so long? The masses could have been removed when they were still just tiny bumps, buying her lots of happy days, lots of walks, lots of giddy car rides. Instead, she suffered, unable to walk properly while cancer spread like a stain across every part of her.

The family that used to own my boy Gideon caused him to suffer as well. He was, as far as we can guess, hit by a car. The impact broke his right foreleg and knocked out many of his teeth. Instead of seeking medical attention or turning him over to someone who could, they simply kept him as is. Later, they did leave him on a roadside (in a crate) near a shelter. By then, the leg had healed (crookedly) and he was in a lot of pain because his teeth were broken off at the gum line, leaving the nerves exposed. I understand that maybe some folks don’t have the financial resources to provide care to a companion animal. But if that is the case, why not surrender the animal right away? If we had gotten Gideon right after the incident, we could have had his leg repaired. Instead, he has a crooked foreleg that is too short, leaving him with a limp and probable arthritis.

Emily didn’t just wake up one morning in the condition in which we received her. These things happen over time. There is almost always time to help, to do something. But so many times, people just don’t. Why? I don’t understand.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gettin' away, if only for a day

I attended a moms' getaway this weekend.  There were six of us.  We shopped, went out to lunch, shopped some more, ran our mouths a lot, and then checked into our hotel rooms.  We had two adjoining rooms at a hotel about thirty miles from where we live (hey, a getaway is a getaway, man). As soon as we checked in and got settled in our suite, I had to use the bathroom.  Click! I locked the door behind me. I do this automatically at home because, inevitably, my daughter will need to tell me something ASAP and no, mama, I can't wait thirty seconds!  Then I remembered that she wasn't there and that my friends were unlikely to be so desperate to show me their drawings that they would feel compelled to bust in on me in the bathroom.

One of the other moms made a beeline for the telephone as soon as we got to our hotel rooms.  She was going to unplug it so that her young boys would not play with it and dial 911 (emergency personnel tend to frown upon that sort of thing).  Then she, too, remembered that she was childless for the weekend.  When we were out shopping, several of us remarked that we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves in the store when we don't have to say, "Stop touching that.  I'm not buying that. Put that down." Over and over and over again. 

We all adore our children but it was nice to relax for a day (and sleep alone for a night). We brought our swimsuits but never got in the whirlpool.  We talked until it was time to go to dinner and then talked some more after that.  We compared notes on our kids (I wondered if it is reasonable to expect my daughter to bathe herself eventually or if she's just playing me for the servant that I am) and ate snacks and drank adult beverages. It's always nice to spend time with a group that acknowledges (and embraces) the fact that being a mom doesn't mean you're not a wholly individual person anymore.  One of my biggest peeves is when a friend becomes a mom and then ceases being who they were before. 

I am not sure if I will be invited next year, in as much as I spent a solid hour (at least) in the bathroom showering and getting ready this morning, leaving five moms to use the other bathroom.  Wash-n-go I ain't.

I'm a proud mom, though.

When I got home, my daughter demonstrated this useful skill:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If she's so smart, why can't she take off both shoes in the same room?

I attended my first parent-teacher conference of the year yesterday. I joked on my Facebook page that morning that I was going to take along a bottle of Ketel One and make a drinking game out of it – do a shot every time I heard the terms “very social” “does not listen” or “has her own agenda.”

I arrived a few minutes early and sat in the hallway to wait for my scheduled conference time. There are two Kindergarten classrooms, directly across from each other. Both classroom doors were open. Because I was facing the other classroom (not my daughter’s class), I could hear that conference better. Well, these hapless parents were getting an earful about their offspring. Apparently this little rapscallion races through her assignments without doing them properly, doesn’t listen to instructions, etc. I started to wonder if maybe Kindergarten is a lot more demanding than I realized or remembered.

Finally, it was my turn. Mrs. L (a petite, energetic lady who weighs approximately what my left leg weighs) came out and greeted me. As soon as we sat down at the little table, she started gushing about my daughter. “She is just a JOY! I can’t tell you how happy I am to have her in my life.”  I was beaming from ear to ear.

She pulled out some folders containing work my daughter had done. “Academically, she’s very bright. I have no concerns whatsoever about her academics.” Mrs. L showed me some worksheets and pictures my daughter had completed. There was one worksheet where she was supposed to have recognized a pattern of colors and letters, but she goofed it up about halfway through. Other than that, she is progressing beautifully and is learning to write words by sounding them out phonetically. (I had a flashback to a phonetically spelled paper my little sister once brought home from school, where she wrote: “Ronded Raygun lives in the whit house. He got shot but he did not doy.”)

We chatted a bit about how A has a problem with “visiting with her neighbors.” A lot of times, she brings home half her lunch and tries to tell me that they don’t give her enough time to eat. I know for a fact they give her ample time to dine but that she runs her mouth the entire lunch period. Anyway, Mrs. L revealed how/why my daughter has been doing so well with getting her work done in recent weeks: she got moved to a table by herself. Ah-ha. The teacher said that she may move her back to a group table soon, if she can handle having a neighbor again. I dunno. I live with this kid and I can tell you that if she is awake, she is talking.

There was really very little emphasis, though, on my daughter’s outgoing personality causing a problem. I think Mrs. L is just the perfect teacher for her (“I was a talker as a kid, too” she confided). I know I struggle to walk the line between encouraging A to be who she is (an ebullient, friendly kid) and requiring her to follow at least some of society’s rules. Her teacher is single-handedly dealing with 20+ five-year-olds all day. It is necessary to maintain some sense of order. I don't want my kid to be the order messer-upper.  But I guess I was fretting for no reason - apparently she is performing beautifully in school.

So yeah, I was one proud mama as I walked out of that elementary school. I think my head was the size of the average Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade float. How is it, though, that my daughter kicks academic ass at school, but then comes home and can’t handle putting her own underwear down the laundry chute? A mystery for the ages.

Friday, October 1, 2010

An ode to mamas (and Tim Gunn, too)

Confession: I am a Project Runway junkie. There is no compelling reason why I, personally, should love this show. I am not fashion-forward in the least (I get tons of compliments on how I dress my kid, but never on how I dress myself). I cannot sew a stitch even though my mom can sew like the wind (she has fantasies about Tim Gunn showing up at her house and announcing, “Let’s go to Mood!”) I have only a passing interest in reality TV (I have never sat through an episode of The Bachelor, Big Brother, or Jersey Shore although I will admit to watching Lockup Raw more often than a normal law-abiding person should/would), but yet I tune in to Project Runway every Thursday like clockwork. I even let the kid eat popcorn and watch Nickelodeon in my bed on Thursday nights so that I can have the other TV all to myself.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I really enjoy the show and have been a fan for several seasons. Watching creative, artsy people make legitimate (if outlandish) clothing out of supplies found at a party store or grocery store . . . it’s oddly compelling. The whole process fascinates me. The most fabulous thing about the program is, of course, Tim Gunn. I don’t think anyone else on the planet could manage to talk a designer out of an unneeded peplum quite so eloquently. "This worries me," he always says with a slight frown.

This week’s episode was more emotional than most. Tim had a surprise for the designers: their families came to visit. For most of the designers their visitor was, more specifically, their mama. I have never seen a group of adults crumple quite like those seven people did. Andy was so emotional after spending time with his mom that he finished the week’s project by churning out a piece of utter crap (and normally his talent really shines). See, I don’t have an eye for haute couture and normally I cannot predict in advance what the judges will love or hate, but this week even I knew it was a heap of dung. Gretchen, who is normally a bit haughty and as Dr. Phil would say, “is happy with the way she turned out,” revealed that her family doesn’t have much money and she didn’t think her mom would be able to come. But then her mom rounded the corner and Gretchen erupted in tears just like the others.

It was quirky but endearing Mondo who really got to me this week, though. He, too, received a visit from his mom. Each designer was given the technology to design his/her own fabric, which would then be used in this week’s garment challenge. Mondo’s material contained large + signs. He quietly revealed to the camera that it is symbolic of his HIV+ status. He also spoke of how he had come out to his mother years ago and while she took the news fairly well, she immediately advised him never to tell his father. My heart broke for him, having to keep so many secrets for so many years.

Although I thought the pants Mondo made from that + sign fabric were uglier than homemade sin, the judges adored them and he won the challenge for the third week in a row. He’s socially awkward and quirky as all get-out, but apparently the man’s got talent. I’m betting that his mama may not thoroughly understand him, but loves him more than he’ll ever know and is proud as all get-out.

The episode did make me think about what a huge impact one’s mom has. Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but I can’t help but wonder if I can live up to such a big role myself. It could be that some of the designers would have burst into tears upon seeing their dad as well, but we reserve our truly weepy, needy selves for our mamas, don't we? When something big happens in your life, who’s the first person you call? Your muddah, most likely. When my daughter is hurt, she calls out for me, even if her dad is literally right next to her. That’s because I will scoop her up and kiss her owie and wipe her tears, whereas her dad will helpfully advise her on what she could have done differently so as not to have incurred the injury in the first place. He’s a spectacular dad, but nurturing he ain’t.

Speaking of moms . . . yes, I have formally decided to drive to Oklahoma to visit my mom next month. That’s 34 hours round-trip. I would make a comment about how she’ll feel compelled to re-write her will after this incredible act of devotion from her oldest daughter, but with my luck I’d just end up with her six cats.

My mom and my kid