Monday, June 27, 2011

Special People

Yesterday I took my daughter to a department store in order to buy a suitcase for P. He needed a new one for our upcoming vacation trip because his old one has broken wheels, a broken zipper, and very low self-esteem in general. While I was there, I browsed for a new top for myself. I had a coupon, ya'll.

The kid was "helping" by pushing our shopping cart (which had the suitcase in it).  We were in the women's section. "Let's go over here," she said, and started to steer the cart towards the plus size racks.

"I want to stay in this section," I replied, guiding the cart back towards the jeans I was fondling. While I surely have had my struggles with my weight, thus far I have not required plus sizes. Honestly, I'm not even sure why it needs to be a separate section. Why not just put all the clothes together and have a full array of sizes in every style?

"Why don't you want to shop over there?" A asked. Oh geez.  How to say this?  I am very careful about the language I use when my daughter is around because I don't ever want her to worry about her body or her weight. I don't think my pocket-sized peanut will ever have weight problems, but I want her to have a good self-image regardless.

"Well, that section is for  . . . big people. We'll just shop right here."  (Not the most politically correct wording, I know. I apologize.)

"Big people? Like you?"  Crap. In her mind: big person = grown-up.

"No, it's a special section for . . . people who are larger," I whispered.  Why, oh why, didn't I just say I didn't like the clothes in that section or something?

That seemed to satisfy her. However, moments later I was browsing a rack that was near the plus size section and angled the cart in that direction.

At the top of her lungs: "MOM! YOU'RE ALMOST IN THE SPECIAL PEOPLE SECTION!" Great. Now, plus size = special needs.  I can't win.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from our very eventful weekend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Down by the Hanky Panky

I've had to listen to this at least 800 times a day for the past five days. I think it's only fair to share the joy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't look now, but . . .

I think I've gone all New Age-y. Or maybe I'm turning into a hippie.  Proof:

1. I got up at 4 a.m. yesterday to participate in a solstice celebration yoga session. I did yoga by candlelight while two drummers banged out tribal rhythms.  I have to say I really enjoyed it. I got to bang a drum on my way out, too. I wish I could start out every day this way. I think I need a drum.

2. I am not wearing patchouli, but I did buy a patchouli-scented tart at Yankee Candle last week.

3. I bought Almond Milk instead of cow's milk yesterday. (On purpose)

4. I wore a full-length broomstick skirt on Saturday.

Next up, I start investing in crystals, giving tarot readings, and talking an awful lot about my chakras. Is Phish still touring?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The good kind

This CNN opinion piece made the rounds on Facebook last week. In a nutshell, the author's goal is to encourage uninvolved fathers to rethink their role in their children's lives. His primary target is the dad who works during the week, plays golf on the weekends, and seldom takes an active role in parenting. As the world's grown-ups have often noted, kids grow up very fast and before you know it, your offspring is off at college or perhaps living with an unemployed tattoo artist named Smudge in a one-bedroom apartment in a bad part of town.

I am happy to report that my husband is not an inattentive father. Yes, he spends too much time playing games on the PS3, watching "Farscape" on Netflix streaming (remind me to tell you sometime just how much I hate that show), and reading comic books.  But, he does spend a lot of time with his daughter. He helps her with the zippers on her dress-up clothes. He carries her when she wants to be carried. He takes her to the park and pushes her on the swing. He works a second job so that we can afford to, you know, eat. He's a good dad.

Yesterday, we went to a music festival and he spent the afternoon carrying around a glitter-encrusted star wand that our daughter made at one of the kids' activity tents. Keep in mind that P is a former Marine and is about 6'3".  The glue was still wet so he couldn't shove it in his pocket or anything. Then he carried the paper plate tambourine she made right after she completed the glitter wand. Last night we went to a concert held at our neighborhood park. It was P who chased our daughter into the leafy playground with bug spray to make sure she didn't get eaten alive. He drew the line at attending a Faerie Festival with A and I yesterday morning (I don't know why he didn't want to hang out with a couple hundred little girls wearing wings and sprinkled with glitter), but he is game for just about anything else.

Happy Father's Day to my other half. You're a good egg.  We love you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's not to like?

Bathtub Art
What I love about being a mom:
  1. Seeing all the trappings of childhood in my home. At the end of the hallway is a colorful bedroom full of stuffed animals, Barbies, and magic markers. At this very moment, there is sidewalk chalk all over my driveway. One of the drawings is of me (I must say I look very svelte, too!).
  2. Hearing my daughter's voice on the phone and being reminded of just how young she still is (do they sound younger on the phone or is it just me?)
  3. Knowing that sometimes, all she truly needs is my touch. I know that sounds corny but it's pretty cool to know that I have the power to soothe and to fix stuff, just by holding my baby girl in my arms.
  4. Getting to see all the kids' movies that come out. Before A was born, I was often tempted to rent a kid so that I could see animated movies in the theater. (P gamely came along to see Monsters Inc and some of the Muppet movies with me, though). I still laugh out loud at certain lines from Toy Story. 
  5. Watching her sleep. She can drive me to the brink of utter insanity all day long but looks so sweet when she's sleeping that all is forgiven.
  6. Rediscovering the whole world through her eyes and being reminded that little things, such as an unopened bag of cookies, can be so awesome.
  7. Reveling in her innocence. In the photo above, she wanted me to take a photo of her standing next to her drawing (while she was in the tub). I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd probably go to prison just for having a nakie photo of my child. Nonetheless, I have to tell you that even though she's not a baby anymore, she still has the cutest heinie the world has ever (or never) seen.
  8. Having an excuse to run and skip for no reason at all except that she wants me to do it with her. We also played hopscotch this week. 
  9. Having someone call me mom.
What I don't like about being a mom:
  1. Having someone hand me DumDum wrappers and other types of garbage all the time. Seriously, do I look like a trash receptacle? And what's up with spitting unwanted candy and gum into my bare hand? Yeesh.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mother-Daughter Bonding and Whatnot

The kid and I spent the weekend out of town. We had signed up to volunteer at a pet expo on Sunday, so we made a weekend of it and stayed overnight on Saturday (the expo was held a couple hours away from where we live). I got a room on Priceline, and fortunately the hotel had a pool. 

We headed out Saturday morning after my Weight Watchers meeting (I only lost a 1/2 pound, but it's better than a poke in the eye, so I'll take it).  I had planned to leave earlier than we did, but when you have to yell, "PUT YOUR SHOES ON!" at someone for 45 minutes straight, your travel schedule tends to unravel a bit. We drove to our destination and had lunch at a deli/ice cream parlor. The restaurant has a carousel out front so of course she had to ride that. I would have ridden it with her except that she told me I had to stand by the gate and hold her blue moon ice cream cone. Thank goodness she left me with a flavor I don't like. Had it been chocolate or mint chocolate chip, I would've had some 'splainin' to do when the ride ended. After that, we headed downtown to the farmers' market and then did a little shopping (I needed to buy a Father's Day gift). By mid-afternoon, we had checked into the hotel and were in the swimming pool ten minutes later.

A is getting to be a pretty good swimmer. I did bring along one of those foam noodles for her. She wraps it under her arms to give her a bit of buoyancy as she paddles about. We had this conversation when we were in the pool:

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Her: A princess.
Me: Well, that's not really a job. You'd have to marry a prince in order to be a princess.
Her: Oh, I don't want to have a job.
Me: You need to make money somehow, Goober.
Her: Maybe I'll work on cars.
Me (not wanting to discourage her, but also knowing that this occupation is probably incompatible with someone who only wears dresses and screams if she gets a blade of wet grass stuck to her ankle): Oh, okay.
Her: Or maybe I'll be a worker at Target. Then I can use my money to buy Icees.
Me: Good thinking.

She also announced that she is changing her name to Elizabeth. When I told her she can't do that, she seemed incredulous. "You mean I have to stay what you named me?" I'm glad I agonized over her name for years on end before she was born, since she was willing to chuck it on a whim.

Our hotel room had two beds, which is exactly what I wanted.  However, when it came time to go to bed, my daughter turned to me with sad eyes and a frowny face and said, "Mom, can't you sleep in the bed with me?"  I had visions of a little size 11 foot planted in my kidney all night but said, "Sure."  Sure enough, she kicked me from 10:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., when I finally gave up and moved to the other bed. It was like sleeping with "the beast of a thousand legs" or something, I tell you.

On Sunday, we worked at the pet expo and headed back home by mid-afternoon. We handed out flyers and chatted with a few strangers. A is obsessed with little dogs and asked to pet every Chihuahua and Rat Terrier she could find. Fortunately, most of the owners were good sports about it. One lady didn't mince words and said, "he doesn't like you."  I don't think the kid believed her, as I don't think she can conceive of anyone not being in her fan club.

So, that was our weekend. I don't think Short Stuff got enough sleep, because she was having meltdowns every thirty seconds or so by the time bedtime rolled around.  I picked up one item off the floor three times and told her I would throw it away if I found it on the floor again.  Sure enough, it made its way back to the carpet so I tossed it.  Oh, the wailing that ensued!  Then she unloaded this: "You don't even love me! You don't want me to be your daughter! You don't think I'm the right daughter for you!"  Ah, how many years to go until she is a teenager?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Things I wish I didn't know

As you know, I'm a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian since I was a teenager and I'm an old lady now, so I'll let you do the math. In most social situations, I tend to keep my eating habits on the down-low.  I don't want people to feel awkward if they eat at a restaurant with me, for example. I don't really like answering the questions about the whys of it all, because it always seems to come along with the unspoken sentiment that I'm not right in the head. I also don't want my friends to feel like I'm holier-than-thou or that I believe I'm somehow more evolved than they are.  However, I do think I've made it a point to take a hard look at what really goes on in the world (on factory farms and in the slaughterhouses) whereas many find it easier . . . not to look. Certainly it would be easier if I fed my child hot dogs and pretended I didn't know what went into them. Wait, no one actually knows what hot dogs are made of, right?

I'll just be very honest here. I do believe it is ethically wrong to support factory farming, which is what anyone who purchases meat at the grocery store is doing. I realize it is an inadvertent and non-purposeful sort of support. No one I know is pumping their fist and shouting, "Yeah! Up with suffering!"

I don't care what the Bible says on the topic, even though I know there are some who point to that as their reason for eating meat. God gave man dominion over the animals yadda yadda yadda. I'm pretty sure he didn't say anything about "be sure to de-beak live chickens while you're at it!" Why am I all up in arms about this, all of a sudden?  Well, it's not all of a sudden. I just don't talk about it much for fear of alienating people. On Facebook, I subscribe to a newsfeed from a group called simply, "Vegetarian."  Most of the posts are recipes and such. Last week, they posted an article about what happens to calves, when cows are pregnant at slaughter. I won't go into detail, but it's not pretty. I honestly had never thought about it, but I've been thinking about it ever since.  I simply cannot understand how we can somehow pretend that animals don't feel pain. Go and give your dog a little pinch if you don't believe me. He will react to it, I'm sure, and also give you a look as if to say, "WTF? Nutjob!"

I guess my biggest fear is that I'm getting a little more militant about these things as I get older and I don't want to turn into some extremist. In some ways, I'm actually mellowing a bit (maybe it's all the yoga I've been doing? Namaste!). Things that used to seem black and white to me no longer seem like a big deal. I changed my mind about capital punishment and with many political issues, I've gone all laissez-faire. But when it comes to animal-related issues, I haven't mellowed at all, I'm afraid.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why it's okay to eat a pig and not the family dog. They have been shown to have similar intelligence level, the capacity to develop attachments, etc. 

In the interest of honesty, though, I must confess that I'm not entirely comfortable with my own failure to commit to a fully vegan diet. I don't drink milk, but I use it on my cereal. I pay through the nose for organic milk and free range eggs, but I don't think that gets me off the hook. I am currently looking into some options for soy/almond/rice milk for my cereal. Over time, I'd like to phase out eggs as well. I'm trying not to be a hypocrite, ya'll. In the end, I guess I'm just trying to get through this life in the least harmful way possible.

On a lighter note, I wandered off for a few minutes and came back to find this on my chair, along with the plea, "Mom! Don't look at the chair! Just sit down and reeeeelax!"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to be an embarrassing parent

A friend of mine sent me this blog yesterday: Wave At The Bus If you haven't seen this site previously, be prepared to lose a solid afternoon looking through the posts. In a nutshell, a dad in Utah decided to wave to his teenaged son's school bus every morning. In costume. How he came up with 170 themes, I have no idea. The icing on the cake, to be sure, is the fact that this dad has a peg leg and works that into a few of the outfits. There's no parent alive who wouldn't think that embarrassing a teenager isn't the funniest thing ever. The dad and his wife claim that the kid doesn't mind, which may or may not be true.

My parents delighted in embarrassing their children. Sometimes just the threat of it was enough. My stad has worked at an Irish pub ever since I was a kid. St. Patrick's Day has always been a big deal at the restaurant, of course. When I was in high school, Pop somehow got his hands on a green tuxedo and promoted St. Patty's Day by standing at a busy intersection in Washington DC with a sign inviting folks to celebrate at the pub. I, of course, was mortified. Realizing this, he threatened to trade his regular sign for one that simply said, "I'm Claudia's dad."

In the summer, we often went to Myrtle Beach on vacation. My middle sister's birthday is in July, so we usually went out to eat and celebrated. At one particular restaurant, the servers would sing Happy Birthday to the honoree, so my parents were always threatening to say that my sister's name is LatishaWanda just so they could hear the servers belting out, "Happy biiiiiirthday, LatishaWaaaaaaanda, happy birthday to youuuuuu!"

Then of course there was the time I'd just gotten my first car and the 'rents thought it would be downright hilarious to put a heavy metal bumper sticker (I think it was Judas Priest, but I always forget) on the back of the car.  They then collapsed into hysterics after I pulled away from the curb and drove off to KMart, blissfully unaware of all the hilarity going on at home. When I came out of the store, I walked past my own car because I didn't recognize it with the black bumper sticker.

I'm sure there were lots of other incidents, too, but I've probably repressed the memories (wait, I just had a flashback to the time they convinced me to eat the decorative parsley on my plate at a restaurant - "because it's good luck"). So far, I haven't had a lot of opportunities to embarrass my daughter. One of the reasons I went to Weight Watchers when she was a baby was that I knew I'd do lots of stuff to embarrass her when she got older, but I didn't want my circumference to be one of them. She's only six now, so she's not mortified by my daily actions yet. In fact, she handed me a drawing yesterday with "BFF Mom" in the middle and then hearts drawn all around it.

However, I see little signs that it's only a matter of time. My hair is very fine and in order to try to make it look like I have more than eight strands, I often flip my head upside down, comb out my hair, and then spray it with hairspray. When I'm upright again, my hair is flying outward at all angles.  Sometimes, before I brush it back into my usual drab style, I cheerfully tell my daughter, "Okay, I'm ready to go!" It's fun just to see the momentary look of horror on her face before she realizes I am kidding. A couple months ago, I accompanied her to an event at her school that involved a deejay and dancing in the gym. Before we left the house I said, "I'm gonna dance like this at your school."  Then I proceeded to hunch my back and kick my legs out from side to side like a square dancer on meth. Again, momentary look of horror.

Just ten years to go until I get to apply that bumper sticker to her car!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Kindergartener No More

Well, my daughter passed Kindergarten and is now a proud first grader. She's particularly psyched about the fact that first graders are permitted to check out three books at the school library (instead of just one). This is awesome because I was really hoping to have a few more things to keep track of next year. We got her final report card yesterday. Her grades were generally good, mostly 3's and 4's. She got a 2 in "exhibits self control" as well as "listens when others are talking."  That was a proud parenting moment for me, for sure.

I have to admit, I find it odd when people talk about Kindergarten graduation ceremonies. I don't want to offend those for whom this is a big deal - I'm just glad my daughter's school doesn't do it. Some of my friends have posted photos on Facebook of their children wearing wee caps and gowns, and such events definitely rate pretty high on the cuteness meter. However, isn't it pretty much a sure thing that a kid will pass from Kindergarten to first grade (or from preschool to Kindergarten)?  I don't know what the nationwide failure rate is, but I have to think it's pretty low. One of the skills my daughter had to learn this year was coin recognition. She got a 4 in this. I'm proud of her except . . . well, if a parrot can be trained to understand sign language and crows are capable of making rudimentary tools, I think my kid can reasonably be expected to know the difference between a dime and a nickel.

During the last few days, she brought home a ton of stuff she'd done over the course of the school year. My favorite was a page in a workbook we actually did at home. She brought home a book to read each week. She was then required to write a couple of lines about the book and draw a picture of something she remembered from the story. One week we read "Henny Penny."  Henny Penny and her friends are traveling around the land, on their way to tell the king about the fact that the sky is falling. The animals are then lured into the clever fox's lair and "never heard from again."  A drew a picture of Cocky Locky with the words "Cok a doo dool doo!" written next to the rooster. For the explanatory text, she wrote, "I know the fox ate the chikens." It just cracked me up for some reason.

I imagine she'll start getting more homework in the first grade. I've appointed her dad as official homework person. I don't know what grade she'll be in before her math homework will be over my head, but I have a feeling it'll be sooner than later.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Missed goal and whatnot

I've had two things on my mind this week:

1. I had hoped to get back to my goal weight by June 1st. Why I chose that particular date, I have no idea. Just arbitrary, I guess.  While I did miss that goal, I do not totally suck. I've lost some weight.  I'm currently 39.4 pounds under my original starting weight (September 2005) and 27.4 pounds over my goal weight. I have been working out a ton and sticking to my eating plan. One side effect that I'm really proud of is that the gazillion yoga classes I've taken have increased my overall strength.  I can now pull myself into a headstand without the instructor having to shove my legs up into the air. This basically means that my core is stronger, even though it does still have a layer of fat on top of it. I can also lower myself from a plank position (chaturanga) without collapsing onto my face. My upper body strength is still crap (always has been) but has gotten a little better. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever see my goal weight again (I'll just wave to it from down the road), but my clothes are fitting a little better and I'm glad for that.  I don't think my career as a bikini model was ever in jeopardy anyway.

2. Ever since my friend Susie lost everything in the recent spate of tornados, I've been obsessed with what I would take if I had to clear out of my house in a hurry.  Do you ever freak out over this? Obviously I would first make sure my child is safely out of the house and in the van. Then I would round up the three dogs.  I'm glad to have a van - I would worry if my home had more inhabitants than I could fit in my vehicle. I fret over the fact that I might have trouble finding my cat. Ella Fitzkitty is an inside cat, but she is an 8th degree black belt in the art of hiding. However, assuming my husband, child, dogs and cat were safely out of the house, what do you take beyond that? I keep thinking we should make sure all of our important papers are in a fireproof box so that we could grab that (I'm thinking along the lines of birth certificates and stuff that is a pain in the ass to replace). We have such a box somewhere but I'm not sure what's in it.

Susie was apparently able to grab some of her children's clothing. I'm not sure what else. The list of things I'd hate to lose is pretty long: infant keepsakes related to my daughter (as well as all the stuff my mom has made for her), a diamond heart necklace that belonged to my grandmother (after whom I am named), my beloved iPod (don't judge me!), photo albums (which already took a hit when the dogs chewed up a couple of them), maybe my computer (because I am not re-typing all that &#%$ing shit again!), and I guess that's about it. Oh, maybe my black wedge sandals because I'm convinced my feet look cute in those?

I know people always say that "things" can be replaced but, can they? I have a heart-shaped jewelry box that I've had for over 30 years. It was a gift from my mom. I have artwork that would be impossible to replace. I hope I never have to find out.

On a more chipper note, I will now kick off the weekend with this upbeat ditty. Yes, it is old. Yes, I still listen to it. No, I cannot be stopped.