Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wait, I'm a what?

You know what my problem is? Well, no, I mean - you're right, I have more than one. But in this case I'm referring specifically to my inability to pass up a good debate.  I sometimes think of my friend Kevin (he died almost four years ago and I still miss him desperately).  One time he and I were at a party and Kevin got into some verbal sparring with a fellow party-goer. I can't remember what topic they were debating, but they were both getting very animated about it. The other guy clearly thought he was getting the best of my friend and asked, "Do you capitulate?" And Kevin, without missing a beat, responded, "Capitulate? I'm not even breathing heavy!"

Like Kevin, I enjoy a good debate. Earlier this week, a friend from high school posted a quote from Joel Osteen on Facebook. It was actually a nice quote: "Celebrate other people’s victories. Let their successes inspire you. If God did something so wonderful for them, He can do it for you."

Uplifting, yes. However, I have no time or patience for Joel Osteen. Not able to help myself, I posted a response about not being able to hear anything Joel Osteen says because his homophobia is so loud. 

Now, in retrospect, I should not have said a word. The friend who posted the quote is a genuinely nice person. The kind of person who is not inclined to say anything bad about anybody. When she saw my note about Osteen's homophobia, she mentioned that she had not been aware of it.  My friend is not homophobic. 

You don't have to take my word for Osteen's stance. Google it. He's been interviewed on national television multiple times and always admits it when called out on the topic. Hey, I'm glad people find him inspiring. I find him a little creepy and I think his wife might possibly be a robot, but that's just me.  In my mind, though, it doesn't matter if someone is "inspiring" if they are spouting intolerance out the other side of their mouth. 

After my response on the post, someone else came along and said this: "I like Joel. Very positive dude. Claudia not to be negative or anything but homosexuality is not a Christian belief."

A response from another person: "can't help but feel uplifted after hearing Joel... he does not believe in everything, but WHO does?"

I, unable to help myself, responded:  "How does someone believe or not believe in homosexuality? It's like saying that you're pretty iffy on this whole concept of the sun rising in the east. Okay, I'm done now, I promise. L is so nice and I'm leaving black marks on her Facebook page."

And then came the piece de resistance:  "Claudia it's ok to be a lesbian - I guess. But why do you have to be militant about it. I know exactly what you are doing.... Your attacking Christianity simply because you cannot be a part of it. Joel is a Christian and if he sounds homophobic then it's because he is. What's so wrong about that? the kingdom of heaven is not for everyone."

I'm a militant lesbian?  I had no idea!  Wait until I tell my husband!  Boy, won't he be surprised. Also, how do I go about explaining my physical attraction to men (particularly tall ones with dark hair)?  And my longstanding crush on Paul Rudd?

I guess I was supposed to be insulted, but this was the most interesting thing that happened to me all week, so I was actually somewhat delighted. I was reminded of a quote from actor Johnny Galecki. I am not a fan of "The Big Bang Theory" so I prefer to think of him as David from "Roseanne" instead. In any case, people kept asking him to address questions about his sexuality.  He responded, "I haven’t really addressed those rumors because why defend yourself against something that isn’t offensive?"   

What really upset me about the "it's okay to be a lesbian" comment on Facebook was the misuse of the word "your." If you know me, then you know it took everything I had not to respond to that. Instead, I unsubscribed from the thread and decided to let Mr. I'm-Going-to-Heaven-and-You're (Your)-Not have the last word.  

So, I'm a militant lesbian and I'm not going to heaven. Bummer. The whole scene just made me laugh, but it also made me a little bit sad, just knowing this is the battle my gay friends and family members must continually face. The logic is just so screwy. I care about equality for all people, so I must be gay. I also care about animal rights, so I must be a Schauzer. I'm concerned about racism. Maybe I am black? 

People are nuts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You can decide when you're older

My husband took our daughter to a winter festival while I was out of town last weekend. One of the activities in which she participated was ice bowling.  After she bowled, she was allowed to pick a prize out of a bin. She chose a rubber rainbow wristband.  She chose it because it's colorful, of course. As a seven-year-old girl, she is contractually obligated to love rainbows, kittens, unicorns, Taylor Swift, and glitter. I noticed that the name of a local LGBT community foundation was stamped on the wristband. We talked about how the rainbow is often used as a symbol for equality and diversity.

In the past, we've talked about the fact that some boys like boys and some boys like girls. Same with girls. I've even mentioned to my daughter that when she grows up, she could marry a girl or a boy. She has been heavily steeped in Disney movies and can only picture marrying a prince, but hey, at least I floated the concept. I've seen far too many episodes of "Intervention" involving young adults who self-destruct as a direct result of parental rejection - they break my heart. If I manage to impart nothing else to my daughter, I want her to know that she'll never need to hide anything about herself from me. Even if she votes Republican or something harrowing like that. I will still love her with all my heart.

Although she will be free to choose any partner in life (or no partner at all), her orientation is not really a choice. I don't care what anyone says. Statistically speaking, the odds would seem to indicate that she will prefer to date a prince instead of a princess.  But still, I want her to know that she can do whatever she wants.

Other aspects of her life, however, will come about as a result of choices she will make. This is where I struggle a bit. I've told her that she will be able to choose:
  • What religion she practices (or no religion at all). 
  • Who she votes for/political party.
  • Whether or not she wants to be vegetarian. 
  • Her career path.
  • Where she wants to live (she says she will always want to live with us - I've assured her that she will change her mind). 
  • How she raises her own family.
I am trying to raise a free-thinker, but sometimes I'm not sure where the line between parental guidance and a hands-off philosophy really lies. Or should lie.  Richard Dawkins is adamant that a child of Muslim parents should be referred to exactly that way: "a child of Muslim parents."  Not "a Muslim child." He maintains that it's not right for parents to force a religion on a child. I can't really disagree with that. I take my daughter to church (Unitarian Universalist) every Sunday, but would I be a better mom if I gave her a chance to check out every type of church?

How can I expect my child to choose a religion/political party/food philosophy, etc. if I'm not exposing her to all of the options?  Do I just keep my fingers crossed that what she doesn't learn in school (or from her parents), real life will teach her in time?

I already know that she is bound and determined to learn every single lesson the hardest way. She can't take someone else's word for anything. "Stop doing that. You'll fall."  Keeps doing it. Falls. I provide consolation and bite my tongue.  So, part of me thinks that she will do her own thing no matter what I try to impart to her. And maybe that's the way it should be.

In the end, I guess it makes the most sense just to focus on raising her to be a kind, thoughtful, and generous person. I'll try to stick to that. You'll forgive me if I slip some Democratic party brochures into her backpack when she leaves for college, though.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Almost done feeling sorry for myself

I had another tough week last night, but I think I'm pulling into the home stretch of this whole dark-cloud-hanging-over-me business. Or at least I hope so.

A low point last week involved taking two dogs to the vet - our female Boxer, Gretchen, and our foster Boxer, Kaiser. Gretchen was due for her annual stuff. I also needed to have the doctor take a look at a bunch of scabs on her back. When I was growing up, if one of us had an ailment (typically a skin issue) of some sort and didn't know what it was, my stad would say, "Oh, you've got the creeping epizooties."  So, armed with my vast medical knowledge, I diagnosed Gretchen with a case of the creeping epizooties.  Dr. S had her doubts about my diagnosis. She did a skin scraping (sent it out to a lab) and prescribed antibiotics and a topical spray. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's not ringworm, as that would suck.  Gretchen did receive one definitive diagnosis, though, which is that she is fat.  We kind of knew that.  That's why we sing "Oh fat Gretchen" to the tune of "Black Betty" (bamalam). So, her rations are officially reduced.

I brought Kaiser in because I noticed that he had an aural hematoma. This is when the ear flap fills with blood. Typically, a dog shakes his head, more blood flows into the ear, and so on it goes. Just puncturing the pocket doesn't work, because the ear will just fill again. So, I had to leave Kaiser overnight to have surgery the next morning. The surgeon emptied the bloody pocket (which, I think you'll agree, would be an excellent name for a band) and then put random sutures all over the pinna to keep it from filling with blood again. He also added a foam disk to stabilize the ear. So yes, Kaiser essentially has a dessert plate sewn onto his head.

On Friday night, we went to a birthday party for a friend of mine. A bunch of us met up at a bar and hung out there for a while before heading to a restaurant for dinner. The kid was at a sleepover, so we didn't even have to pay for a sitter. Woot! It was a fun evening. Something pretty awful did happen at the bar, though. I went to the jukebox to play a few songs (and, as you know, I have stellar taste in music).  However, I realized I needed change and went to negotiate with my husband. When I went back to the jukebox, a man in a striped polo shirt was already there. And worse yet, he was playing Top 40 music. "We have to go!" I told my fellow partygoers. "I know for a fact that 'Red Solo Cup' is about to play." Sadly, we didn't make it out the door before the song played. I died a little inside.

On Saturday morning, I left town. I had to attend the annual meeting for the rescue (about two hours away) and had gotten a hotel room on Priceline. I can't say that I was too sad about leaving my family behind, in as much as I think my daughter had gotten about four hours of sleep at the sleepover. I suspected she was about to redefine the word "cranky."

"Good luck to you," I told my husband as I hopped into my mom-mobile and hit the road.

The meeting was a lot of fun - not the dry affair it probably sounds like it would be.  But I cannot lie - I was mostly just excited about sleeping in a hotel room without dogs/kids/husbands in it. I love my family but I get tired of negotiating for the remote control and whatnot. It's nice to have a night away. I locked the door, poured some Merlot, and painted my toenails. Yes, THAT kind of decadence. I watched Saturday Night Live and then drifted off to sleep. Funny thing, though - you know what I dreamed?  In my dream, I was at the hotel but my daughter appeared in my bed. I woke up to find her size 12 foot wedged into my armpit. "How did you get here?" I kept asking her in my dream. "Does Daddy know you're here?" I guess some part of me missed the cranky little thing.

I got up this morning and went for a quick swim in the hotel pool (the water was freezing) and then got my act together and hit the road. I had to leave earlier than planned because the weather was supposed to get bad. The weather man was calling for a "wintry mix," which I interpreted to mean, "We think something may - or may not - fall out of the sky. And if something does fall out of the sky, we're not 100% sure of that that something will be."

That's all, folks!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Down but not out

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. You know how I hate to disappoint my reader! I have started several blog entries but have completed none. I try not to get too "TMI" with my blog, but I've been struggling with a lot of stress and anxiety lately. I am looking into ways to manage my stress and anxiety that don't involve food and alcohol. If you've got any tips for me, please pass them along! Natural supplements? Meditation?  I've been thinking of delving into meditation a bit, as I've never felt like I really KNOW how to meditate. I think I get somewhat close during savasana at yoga class, but I struggle to clear my mind. We sometimes have silent meditation at church and I always think of a bit from comedian Jim Gaffigan, who talks about being in prayer at church but admits that he's actually thinking, "Hey, did I eat at Wendy's TWICE yesterday?"

I had a really, truly, profoundly bad day on Tuesday and my daughter, sensing my stress and frustration, gave me a huge hug and said, "Maybe this will help, Mama."  And it did, at least for the moment. I'm so lucky to have this bright little constellation in my life.

Last night, I found this in my refrigerator and yes, it cheered me up! She looks like Mr. Heat Miser's jovial little sister or something. And yes, she is standing inside the refrigerator, sucking on a lemonade and reading about Junie B. Jones.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

When Claudia gets the house to herself

My daughter has a new sleeping bag with her name on it. She's been dying to go to someone's house for a sleepover. I've been hesitant to encourage it because we tried it last summer and she got nervous and came home before bedtime. However, she assured me that she was ready. So, I posted on Facebook that the kid was ready for a sleepover if anyone wanted to invite her. I'm friends with some of her friends' moms on Facebook. She quickly got an offer and accepted it just as quickly.  The plan was set for a sleepover on Saturday night.

Before dropping her off for the sleepover, I took her rollerskating at the local skating rink. On the way home, we had a talk about manners.  I reminded her to be polite when she is a guest in someone's home. "What do you say when someone offers you some food that you don't want?" I asked her.

"No, thank you!" she said proudly.

"Great! Just make sure you don't say, 'Oh, that's disgusting.'"  (She once did this, which is why I knew bringing it up was valid.)

She thought for a few moments. "Can I still think it in my head even if I don't say it? Like, I can think 'oh, that's disgusting' but not say it?"

I was stumped for a moment. "Sure, I guess so," I said. I mean, what do you say to that?

I dropped her off at her friend's house about an hour later and kept my fingers crossed that she would stay through the night. As for me, I was pretty giddy about getting the house to myself. P had to work so it was just me and my doggies.

Here are the various activities that comprised my evening:
  1. Fed the dogs.
  2. Lit some candles and plugged in my bowl o' rocks. 
  3. Let the dogs in and out in various combinations. Asked them why they can't coordinate it so that they all go in/out at once instead of me opening/closing the door three separate times. 
  4. Noticed that Gideon's ears were gunky. Cleaned them out with a series of Q-tips and then squirted some gunk in there. He was less than thrilled.
  5. Attempted to clip Gretchen's toenails. She was not down with it. I'll probably have to have P hold her while I make my next attempt.
  6. Watched part of "The Biggest Loser." Tried to decide whether I like Jillian or hate her.
  7. Sorted my nail polish drawer. Tossed out the bottles I've had since Clinton was in office.
  8. Soaked my feet in a bubbling foot bath. However, don't tell my daughter because she gets really pissy if I do this without her. 
  9. Slathered my face with a couple of facial peel-off and mud masks. Fervently hoped I wouldn't get a call that I had to pick up my daughter from the sleepover prematurely - driving around the neighborhood with a green clay mask on my face seemed like it would be traumatic for all involved.
  10. Drank some blackberry merlot. 
  11. Watched "The Incredible Dr. Pol."
  12. Watched "Pit Bulls and Parolees." 
  13. Played Words with Friends. Lost three games in a row.

I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before so I was asleep by 11:30 or so on Saturday. This morning I got up and headed to church. It was very strange not to have to yell, "BRUSH YOUR TEETH WE ARE LEAVING NOW!" a dozen times or more.

I have a small confession, though, which is that I started to miss the little sassbucket this morning. We always go to church together. She goes around and greets all the kids and then hugs her favorite grown-ups. It occurred to me that maybe I should fill in for her, but it might have been a little awkward for me to fling myself at the mid-section of my fellow congregants.

Anyway, she is home now and I'm guessing she didn't get a ton of sleep last night. Things could get ugly later this evening. But, c'est la vie. Here's to successful sleepovers!

Gretchen Scissorpaws

There is a very slight possibility that I used too much soap in the foot bath

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Tricky (with apologies to Run DMC)

"I met this little girlie, her hair was kinda curly"

Every weekday, my daughter brings home a backpack full of stuff. It typically contains:
  • Her lunchbox, including the napkin I always add when I pack her lunch. The napkin never shows any signs of having been used. WHERE DOES SHE WIPE HER HANDS?  Never mind, I don't want to know.
  • Hat, gloves (on a good day, a matched set), and snow boots
  • Whatever contraband she took to school. I feel like we need to start frisking her in the mornings - we should throw her against the minivan and pat her down. Contraband usually includes those ugly Monster High dolls, stuffed animals, Polly Pockets, hair accessories, dollar bills, and other random items.
  • A clear envelope containing books and a reading log sheet.
  • A purple take-home folder containing math homework and any other assignments.
  • A blue assignment book. Each day, she writes down her homework assignments (typically, a math worksheet and 25 minutes of reading) in the blue book. Sometimes there is a note letting us know that library books are due on Monday and that sort of thing. The teacher checks it off daily.
Each evening before bedtime, I find the blue book, confirm that the assignments were done, and then sign my name at the bottom of the page. Occasionally I include a little note on the page if there is something I think her teacher should know.  One day, the kid didn't like what I wrote so . . . she erased it.  The little shit thinks she's so crafty. I'm smarter than I look, so I started using a pen thereafter. 

Fast forward to yesterday. The kid was assigned to read the first three chapters of a specific book. Most of the time she can read whatever she wants, but this was an assignment for her reading group.  She did not bring the assigned book home.  So, after a bit of a tantrum (apparently it was somehow our fault that she didn't bring home the correct book), she read a different book. I signed the blue book and included a note for her teacher. I stated that my daughter did not bring home the correct book and then signed my name.

As I was tucking the kid into bed a bit later, I told her that I included a note for Mrs. C.  She frowned at me in the dark.  "Did you . . . " she started, " . . . write it in pen?" 

"Yes, I wrote it in pen, Goober."  I could almost hear the gears in her brain clicking and whirring. "You won't be able to erase it," I told her. 

She sighed, sounding very defeated indeed. Not totally convinced that she still wouldn't find a way to make that note disappear, I sent her teacher an email. Ha! Mean mom cannot be stopped!

I mentioned this incident to my sisters via email. My middle sister and baby sister both admitted to some fraudulent note-writing in high school that got them out of school back in the day. My baby sister even confessed to having a particularly mature-sounding boyfriend call the school to say his "daughter" couldn't make it in.  Mom, if you are reading this, I just want you to know that I never did these things. I want them both punished!

Ten bucks says that my daughter is practicing my signature right frickin' now. 

She's tricky

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Good and bad and ain't no in between

Bad: my mom's been in the hospital for several days now. I am mucho worried about her. Tests show that there is something ominous going on with her intestines. The doctors will run more tests on Monday. I am in a bit of a holding pattern. I am hoping she will be sent home with some effective meds and all will be well. However, if surgery is needed, I need to figure out a way to get down to the great state of Oklahoma. Nothing can happen to my mom. I do not have a spare.

Good: my foster puppy was adopted today. Augie's a cute little bugger and all, but this whole party-all-night thing had started to wear on us a bit. You have to be ultra-vigilant when you've got a pup around. Several times I suggested to him that he give some consideration to choosing a hobby. I thought maybe he could start with a latch-hook rug kit or maybe try cross-country skiing. I think he knew I was disappointed in his decisions as far as how he spent his time (attacking the mop, chewing electrical cords, etc.), but he didn't lose any sleep over it. Because he doesn't, you know, sleep.

Bad: I went to Weight Watchers today for the first time in a few weeks. It wasn't pretty. I was feeling pretty dejected after my last weigh-in. I worked my ass off and wrote down every bite I ate for several weeks. On my last weigh-in before Christmas I lost .2.  As in, a fucking fraction of a pound. I mean, I can blow my nose and take out my contacts and lose .2. However, I have a new fear that might just keep me in line.  My husband's insurance is requiring me to have a full physical. My fear is that they will hand my results to my husband and, for the first time in 20 1/2 years, the man will know how much I weigh. Once he has this knowledge, my only choice is to smother him in his sleep. I mean, you and I both know I can't let him live once he knows.

Good: I went to yoga this morning and got a little bit closer to two goals I have set for myself. One is that I want to be able to do a headstand without using the wall for support. I played around with this a bit in class today and actually pulled it off for a few seconds.  The other is that I'd like to be able to pull myself into a full wheel without assistance.  I tried it today and made a little bit of progress. Goal number one involves core strength and goal number two involves upper body strength.  My upper body strength has always been lacking. I remember trying to haul A around in a baby carrier when she was an infant. I'd have sworn she weighed as much as a cinder block. However, since she was a very average-sized baby, I think the problem was with me and my floppy arms.

Good: Downtown Abbey starts tomorrow night!  Do not call me, email me, or text me while it is on. I will cut you. 

Awesome: my kid actually sleeps like this.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Girls on Ice, Girls on Waterslides, Girls on Horns, etc.

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. The days just seem a little less hectic. I did end up taking the Christmas tree down a bit sooner than I planned. The reason? Our foster puppy was swinging from it by his teeth. So, down it went. I'm still finding pine needles everywhere. I found one in my hair when I took a shower last night.

Hightlights of the week:
  • I took myself to a movie on Wednesday night. I went to see Les Miserables. I would have gone with my husband but his eye started to twitch when I mentioned that it is a musical. So, I went alone. Although I can't for the life of me understand why someone would cast Russell Crowe in a singing role, I loved the movie in general. Amazon had the soundtrack on MP3 for five bucks so I downloaded it and have had "Do You Hear the People Sing?" stuck in my head ever since.
  • On Friday, P and I went to dinner and a show. The show was a work event that was rescheduled from the week before (because of a snowstorm). The show was a Christmas production so it was a little weird to be watching it three days after Christmas, but it was pretty good.
  • On Saturday, I ran a gazillion errands and took the kid to Target to go shopping. I explained to her that my Grandma, her Great-Grandma, had sent us a check for $100 to share. This was our Christmas gift from her. "You can spend $30.00," I told her.  She paused for a moment. "What the heck? Thirty plus thirty plus thirty is ninety. Where's the other ten dollars?"  I tell you, we liked her better before she could read and do basic math.  Anyway, she used the money to buy one of those ugly Monster High dolls. She gets really mad at me when I say, "Hey, you left your ugly doll in the dining room."
  • On Sunday, we went to church and then the foster pup had a visit from a family that would like to adopt him. Augie gnawed on all four of them, but they have decided to adopt him anyway. P is ready to pack the pup's bag toute de suite. In the afternoon, I took the kid and two of her friends to an indoor water park. I floated in the lazy river for the better part of an hour while the girls went from one attraction to the next. Then I moved into the whirlpool and sat in there for as long as I could stand it. After a couple of hours, one of A's friends started clutching her stomach and saying she might vomit, so I decided that it was as good a time as any to head on out. When we got home, A lost yet another tooth. I tell you, they are flying out of her head like crazy lately.  The Tooth Fairy needs to be mindful of this and do a better job of keeping cash on hand at all times. 
  • My company wasn't closed on Monday, but I used my last available vacation day so that I could stretch it into a four-day weekend. P had to work, so I took the kid out to lunch and then we went ice skating. She did better than I was expecting. In fact, I couldn't get her off the ice even after they'd shut off the music and announced that the open skating session was over. I told her I would take her back sometime. I didn't fare as well as she did. During a single hour of skating, my left skate managed to rub a blister on the back of my heel, pop the blister, and then rip the skin off the blister. I don't mean to be a pussy, but ow. I gave up and sat on the bench while my daughter continued skating counterclockwise around the rink. The day was going well until we got home and discovered that A lost one of her new gloves at the rink/parking lot/somewhere-in-between (I should add that the rink isn't vaguely close to our house so it's not worth a trip over there to look for it.)  I must've told her a hundred thousand times to put her gloves and scar on vs. trying to carry them out. I mean, it was all of 18 degrees out. Anyway, because I am the meanest mother ever, I made her give me her tooth fairy money back so that I can go out and buy her a new pair of gloves. Will she be more careful next time? I doubt it. But you can't blame a mom for trying.
  • The kid invited a friend over for a sleepover for New Year's Eve.  So, it was pretty crazy up in here last night. The girls ate brownies, almost a full bag of Doritos, and some s'mores. A friend of mine gave us a cute little s'mores-making kit for Christmas so we tried it out. P and I set up the girls in the living room with their sleeping bags, noisemakers, and Cabbage Patch dolls, while we retired to our bedroom to watch a movie called Looper. It was a good movie, although the plot is very complex and, if you decide to watch it, you may want to make sure you haven't had a couple of mixed drinks ahead of time. In my defense, I had two screaming second-graders in my house. One has to wonder what I was thinking when I bought the girls celebratory New Year's noisemakers.
We all made it to midnight, although I did crash right at 12:01 because I knew I had to be up for yoga this morning.  I could still hear the girls wailing on the cardboard horns as I drifted off to sleep.

Happy New Year!