Friday, October 31, 2008

The most stressful Halloween ever

Oh, what's that you say? Megan doesn't look like she's in a costume for the school's Halloween parade? The parade where all parents go and video tape and take pictures of their kids in their adorable costumes??? Um... yeah, well what can I say. According to Megan, she was in a costume. Add a backpack to her street clothes and her costume was "a kid going to school". She marveled at the fact that some kids didn't seem to think she dressed up at all!(Gee- go figure). She was perfectly fine in her non-costume costume, thank-you-very-much! I however was in a tailspin about the whole thing. I was totally sure that all the parents were thinking what a horrible mother this girl had. I could hear them in my head, "Awww, that poor girl. Her parents must have forgotten to send her costume. I'm sure she is going to be scarred for life on that one." And in my head I could see the mother's giving each other the knowing, sympathetic nod. Oh, I'm not proud of it but I tried to plead my case with one of the mothers. You can hear me on the video tape.

But I'm not going to lie. I plead my case with about 5 of the mothers. It was like verbal diarrhea. I couldn't stop myself. Honestly, I was quite a pathetic sight. The minute I would say hello I would automatically start in on the mothers. "Did you see Megan's costume? (insert air quotes with the word costume) You should have seen our house this morning! Whew- knock down drag out fight over the costume," I kept hearing myself say. One of the moms said, "Oh yeah. I was thinking maybe you just didn't celebrate Halloween." Ugh.

But alas, there is a back story to this. Megan did have an actual costume that she was supposed to wear. A few weeks ago when I was on a business trip, Jay bought her costume. She decided she wanted to be a Chicago Cubs player. Great in theory- not great on our wallet. Those jerseys are expensive! Add a hat and shorts along with the jersey and $100 later, you've got yourself a costume.

A couple weeks ago, Megan started changing her tune on the costume. "I'm not a Cubs player," she would say. "I'm going to be a UPS driver, Cubs edition!" (Whatever that means.) But I just rolled with it.

Then this morning it was time to get the outfit together and the shorts were nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere and nothing. "Meg, I'm sorry I've looked everywhere and I can't find your shorts."

"Well I can't go to school with half a costume!!!" Megan sobbed. And although I realize it's not my responsibility to keep track of her shorts, I had the stab of guilt that I ruined her Halloween.

But as the morning went on, her anguish about having half a costume evolved into, "If I wear the jersey and the hat, people will think I'm a Cubs player AND I AM NOT a Cubs player! I'm a person who likes the Cubs." (Again...whatever that means.)

I had kept my cool up to this point. But I looked at the clock and we had 15 minutes to get it sorted out. Admittedly, I lost my shit. I could feel the veins popping out of my forehead and if I was a cartoon, you would have seen steam coming out of my ears. "I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU WEAR TO SCHOOL. JUST STOP TALKING TO ME. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU GO AS. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU WEAR. YOU JUST NEED TO GET IT FIGURED OUT IN THE NEXT 10 MINUTES."

Just in case, I included the jersey and hat in Megan's backpack. I hoped and prayed that she would change her mind before the parade. She had already warned me at the bus stop that her new costume was adding a backpack so she would be "a kid going to school". I went up to the school in the afternoon for the parade. As I waited in line, I held my breath that she would come around the corner in a Cubs jersey and hat. But Megan stuck to her guns. She came out wearing her backpack and in my head, I thought, Oh Fuuuuuuuuuddddge (but I didn't say fudge). Part of me loves the fact that she can be so bold and not care what others think but there was a small part of me that saw her sticking out like a sore thumb.

And therein was the lesson I learned today. Be careful what you say you don't care about. Because I did care. I wanted her to dress up. I wanted her to fit in. I didn't want to feel like I needed to explain my daughters lack of costume to every person who I made eye contact with. I hate that this holiday that was supposed to be about her, turned into a holiday about me- how I felt, how I reacted, how I was embarrassed by how I appeared to the other moms.

Jack in his dragon ninja costume

Jack was really excited about Halloween as you can tell from the video. Megan, well...she was another story which will be coming in another post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A religious discussion about inappropriate touching.

Megan's Religious Education (RE) class is in full swing. At this week's class, they sent home a note informing us they would be discussing inappropriate touching with the students. The note assured us that it would be done in a tasteful manner and that it wouldn't be too jarring in nature. Yesterday, Jay and I gave Megan a heads up on what would be discussed and gave her the key points (or key "take aways" as I would say in my business-speak). Things like no adults should touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable and if an adult tells you to keep a secret that it's always okay to tell us about it. She seemed to be fine with that.

But today when I was driving her to her class, Megan started pondering the topic. Among her questions:

Q: "Why are they bringing someone in to talk to us?"
What I said: "The church wants to make sure all of its members remain safe. They are using this class to share some information to keep you safe."

Q: "Wouldn't it be easier if they just had the priest come in and talk to us about Jesus?"
What I said: "Well today they want to talk about the other stuff so they are bringing in an expert to talk to you."

Q: "Why are we talking about inappropriate touching in a church class?"
What I thought: Uh, well if you were old enough to read the newspaper and see all the scandals with the Catholic church, it might make a bit more sense.
What I said: "Uh, I dunno."

After the class was over, Jay picked Megan up and when he came home I asked him what she said about it. His response- "She didn't say much. She said they watched a video about Karate."

??? Huh???

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The birds and the bees...Megan style

Megan and I haven't had The Talk yet. But I'm sure it will be coming...soon. After all, by the time I was seven, I had already asked quite loudly at Thanksgiving dinner where babies came from. My mother gave me the evil eye and said through clenched teeth, "We'll talk about it later!". To me, *later* meant the moment that she got up to run to the bathroom. I vaguely recall following her and sitting across from her while she was on the toilet. "Okay. I'm ready to hear about it now," I stated and patiently waited. So there it was. My sex talk. In my grandmother's bathroom. On Thanksgiving. With my mother still sitting on the toilet.

I can't recall the specifics of what she said. I just know it was pretty clinical in nature and when she finished, I had two questions for her.

#1- Do you and Dad do that???
#2- Can I watch???

Megan on the other hand, hasn't been as adamant about knowing the specifics on the whole deal. Which in a way is shocking to me because she's very detailed about most other things. But up to this point, she's been satisfied knowing that:

a) Babies grow in the mom's tummy.
b) There is a special hole where the babies come out.

That's it. No questions about where the special hole is- actually that's not true. She did ask once and I pretended like I didn't hear her. And she didn't even think to ask how, if at all, the Dad factors into the equation.

Anyway, I overheard a conversation Megan had with Jack that has left me wondering if I shouldn't take the bull by the horns, so-to-speak and set the record straight. The conversation went as follows:

Jack: I'm not going to have any kids when I grow up.
Megan: What? No kids? Well, are you going to get married Jack?
Jack: Yeah. I'm going to get married.
Megan: Well then Jack, you might have kids. People who are married don't get to choose.
Jack (pondered this for a moment): Will my wife get to choose?
Megan: No. It just happens.

So that is where we are at with babies in our family-You have to be married, you may or may not have them, and you don't get to choose. I still haven't formulated what exactly I'm going to say to her. I want to be specific enough that she gets it but not so specific that it's TMI (too much information). I'm looking for suggestions on how to handle- Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Bueller?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The two worst things I've smelled in the last 24 hours.

In the last 24 hours, my nose has gotten a work out. I've had the one-two punch so to speak, in the odor department. I just got back from being out of town all week. It was my company's global user conference and it took everything out of me. I had to be "on" all week-long days of conference sessions followed by long nights of drinking socializing. I think I had about 10 hours of sleep all week. So yesterday afternoon, I finally poured myself into my airline seat and was looking forward to closing my eyes and relaxing on the way home. But the thunderstorms swirling across the US had other plans. The turbulence was absolutely atrocious; the flight attendants were seated a good portion of the flight. So instead, I white knuckled the flight and tried to just close my eyes and appear like a normal passenger while I silently panicked.

And then I smelled it- rubbing alcohol. The smell was so acute, my eyes flew open and to be honest, after coming off 3 nights of drinking socializing, it kind of made me nauseous. Where is that smell coming from? I wondered. I looked to my left and saw the lady in the seat next to me rubbing hand sanitizer on her hands. But alas, that wouldn't be the last time I would smell the rubbing alcohol. In the next 2 hours, that lady rubbed hand sanitizer on her hands SEVEN times. I found this quite odd since she never did anything, I thought, to warrant more sanitizer. She didn't eat anything; she didn't leave her seat to go to the bathroom; I don't think she even touched anything other than her pants. But since I count the number of seconds from when the wheels come down for landing until the plane actually lands, I guessed I couldn't be too judgemental and so I endured the headache I acquired. (Note: it's usually about 180 seconds or so, in case you were wondering.)

Moving on to today...

I'm not sure how things could have gone so terribly wrong in the week that I was out of town but when I left Jack's feet were just like any other normal 5 year-olds. But now? Now they are some of the worst- I mean THE WORST- smelling feet. Out of disbelief, I grabbed his foot and brought it close to my face to give it a whiff. I just couldn't believe that smell could have been coming from such a small area. But as I leaned over to smell Jack's foot, an odor so pungent hit me like a Mack truck and I immediately gagged.

If I was a betting girl, I'd say Jack will have new shoes by Sunday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to Jack!

Five years ago, Jack arrived on the scene and completed our family unit. His arrival was swift, timely and according to plan- only 1 day later than his originally scheduled due date. He’s always had a sunny disposition and was generally a happy baby- except for the time when he was a week old and we (and by we, I mean Jay) put scented Vaseline on Jack’s newly circumcised penis during a middle of the night diaper change. He wasn’t so happy then and in a testament to mother’s instinct, I flew out of bed because I noticed his cry just wasn’t right; he was actually screaming bloody murder. (In Jay’s defense, we were both extremely sleep deprived and in my sleep-deprived haze, I directed him to the wrong drawer that contained the scented Vaseline that I bought by mistake during another sleep-deprived haze.)
I feel privileged to be Jack’s mom and am in awe that in watching him and parenting him, I learn from him as well. With Jack, you always know where you stand. He is emotionally vulnerable and has no filter when it comes to his emotions. It is one of the things I love most about him because I’m really not sure where he got that trait. It is something I have always wanted to have for myself, that emotional vulnerability, but it’s just not in me. My nature is to tend to be more guarded, to make sure I’m safe before I start to let myself crumble. Jay is the same way. Megan is obviously a product of her parents in that respect. But Jack, well- he just lays it all out there- he’s mad, he’s sad, he’s tired, he’s happy. He lives in the moment and as his mother, it is joyous for me to watch.
He’s the boy who…
…while eating McDonald’s with his family leaned back, sighed and said, “This is the way things ought to be.”
…when opening his gifts for his birthday exclaimed, “This is the best day of my LIFE!”
…looked at me the other day when I was looking gross and unshowered and said, “Mommy, you are beautiful.”
…has told me on more than one occasion that he would want to marry me but knows he can’t because I’m married already- oh yeah, and mommies can’t marry their sons.
…stands up for himself and for other kids at school when he was bullied.
…isn’t shy and will ask for what he wants. On occasion, he will ask for things on behalf of his shy older sister and I find that endearing.
…is almost always polite- even when he is asking me, “Can you get out of here now please, Mommy?”

A co-worker of mine once described a mother-son relationship as a love affair. And I have to say, after I got over the ick factor of using the words “love affair” in the same sentence as mother and son, I tend to agree with it. It is as simple as this- little boys love their mommies. It’s like no other and I know I am a better person for having him in my life.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm guessing this song might be called, "Your eyes are locked. You can't see me." (sub title- "Don't touch me.")

I know I've been posting a lot of video here for the last week or so but I can't help myself. Megan and Jack have been allowing me to capture on camera what I struggle to explain using words alone.

Megan's personality is an interesting mix. She is shy-sometimes almost painfully so. But when you are around her enough, there is a part of her that is an extrovert. It's like the walls eventually start to crumble. She's like me in that way. Shove me in a networking event, or a party where I don't know anyone, and I want to crawl out of my skin. But if I'm with a group of people I know and adore, I could stay out all night having the best time.

Jay used to be like this, too. He's much more social now and can take the awkward social situations in stride. He's almost grown out of his shyness. I remember when we first started dating. Depending on which of my friends I was talking to, they had totally different perceptions of Jay. My close friends who interacted with him a lot would always comment that he was one of the funniest people they ever met. Ask any of my friends at the outer edge of my inner circle if they thought Jay was hilarious, and they would look at me blankly and say something like, "Jay? He never says anything."

Anyway, I guess I love this video clip because it captures what Megan is like on the inside, with her inner circle. I just hope that as she gets older, more people get to see this side of her. Lately, her new "thing" is to make up songs. She's writing lyrics and even adds the melody to them. This is one example of her latest, uh..."creation". As a side note, she's been listening to our local hip hop station... A LOT. I can see some of that influence here in the video.

She starts off on a mysterious tone, with her eyes covered. She has a little bit of a mini Gwen Stefani feel, I think. I love how she keeps singing but including directions to me as part of the song, "Zoom, zoom, zoom out." I also love how she incorporates the wording on her shirt into her lyrics.

I'm not quite sure why she switches up mid-song and turns into a British talk show host but heck, when she requested that I zoom in "one touch", I obliged.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's a Twister

Jack has quite an interesting thought process on a number of things. In this video, between taking sips of his Gatorade, which we know he lurves, he provided me with a few weather facts:
1) Tornadoes can destroy lots of damage...
2) ...more damage than Twisters, which apparently are different than Tornadoes in his 4 year-old mind. (As a side note, I can't stop going back and listening to him say the word Twisters. I'm not sure if it is the way he is holding his Gatorade, or the look in his eye, or the way that he curls his lip up and just pauses for emphasis, but I.cannot.get.enough. It makes me want to just bite him because I love him so much.)
3)...which apparently are different than Water Tornadoes...which are actually Hurricanes that make "big circles all twisting and windy".
4) Finally, it's good to know that he's got it figured out. I'm happy to know that Twisters are only at farms. Here in the suburbs, we just have fires.

And that's all he has to say about that as he gulps down more Gatorade.

Monday, October 13, 2008

OMG little brothers can be annoying

Megan in a somewhat rare moment of acting totally girly.

A few comments about the video:
1) I'm not sure why she keeps licking her fingers while pretending to dial. I know, I know- it's kinda gross.
2) There is something inherently wrong, I think, about a 7 year-old child doing a skit in which she says things like, "Did you hear the news? It's.the.MAN. He's outside." But I don't know. I'm just gonna go with it.
3) The amount of times that Megan says OMG in the video... five. (Note: I don't think she even knows what "OMG" stands for.)
4) Yes, I do realize that her high pitched pseudo scream just might break a few glasses. She gets that from my side of the family. (Or so the story goes that when I was young, I would scream and people thought it might shatter glass, or that it was a whistle.)
5) There is one point in the video where I'm not sure if Megan was pretending she was buzzing like a bee, or if she was trying to act as though the person on the other end hung up on her.
6) I love how Jack is so stealth about ruining Megan's phone skit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Harold ain't a Gangsta

Sometimes I just love to drive around in the car with my kids. It's like I'm a voyeur. I cruise around town, periodically looking in my rear view mirror sneaking glances at facial expressions to help add color to their chatter.

A few days ago we were driving by a Burger King and there just so happened to be some graffiti on a brick wall. Jack noticed it first. "Hey look at that. Someone colored on the wall."

"It's not colored, Jack," Megan corrected him. "It is painted. Isn't that right Mom? It's painted not colored, right?"

"Yup," I confirmed. "It is spray paint. That is not good. People should not paint on walls like that. It's naughty."

Jack pondered that. "It looks like crayon to me."

"Yeah," I joked. "And it's purple. Maybe it was Harold and his purple crayon."

Jack laughed at that one. "Harold and his purple crayon," he echoed.

"There's just one thing," Megan chimed in. "It couldn't be Harold. Harold isn't a gangster, Jack."

"What is a gangster?" Jack inquired.

I peeked in my rear view mirror to get a look at Megan's face. As our eyes met, she sighed and whispered, "Mom, he's not old enough to know what a gangster is yet."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another one of Jack's odd eating habits

In addition to Jack's love of fruit snacks, he also has an affinity for Popsicles. Recently, he enjoyed eating, or should I say devouring, a Flavor Ice.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I give you...Jack and the Flavor Ice.

...and scene.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lonely Girl 15? Nah, it's just Megan, alone, with the video camera

Preface to this video- Megan is the "tour guide" to the messiest part of our house. The storage area of our basement. Please, no one call the hoarding police.

Commentary on the video:
1)Note to self- remind Megan that saying you are "hip" doesn't actually make you "hip".
2) I assure you that on most "normal days in our family" that my son doesn't wander around with a Santa hat on.
3) She's right. We are big fans of holidays. We are used to the concept.
4) Love Jack's two brief cameos.
5) Yes, in our family reading is a "chore" in Megan's eyes. And by "projects" she means cleaning up. We aren't having her build a space shuttle or anything.
6) Help an un-hip woman out...can anyone name that tune at the end????

Monday, October 6, 2008

Three more things I do that my daughter finds embarrassing

Megan has started to be more, um how shall I say this, open to telling me what she really thinks about me. The flood gates are open and the hits just keep on comin. In the last 48 hours, I've accumulated 3 more things that embarrass Megan in addition to "Everyone out of the pool!" They are as follows:

1) Shop till you drop. I took Megan to get some new clothes for the winter. As I opened my car door to exit I benignly said, "Okay kiddo. Let's shop till we drop." Megan sighed deeply, hunched her shoulders and grouched, "See that is what I'm talking about. When you say stuff like that! It's weird."

"Well, it's a good thing I'm driving the Brownies to a hay ride and not taking them shopping then, huh?"


2) The car purrs like a kitten. I took our car to get an oil change and simply made the comment, "The car purrs like a kitten." This, as you can imagine, was met with an eye roll and a comment about, "What does that even mean???"

3) No more making random comments about other drivers. I still say this one is totally justified. I mean, I was waiting to turn right out of a parking lot and the driver coming down the road didn't even turn on his turn signal before he took a right. Had he used proper signal-age, I could have made an exit. I commented under my breath, "Nice turn signal." Megan heard me say something and asked me to repeat it. I told her I was just muttering under my breath about the driver who failed to use his turn signal and that it irritated me a bit. "Well, if you aren't talking to me, maybe you need to keep those types of comments to yourself," she said.

Oh no she di-dn't just say that to me. Seriously? How much does a woman have to take from a 7-year-old??? So I kinda snapped...just a little bit. I felt my face getting hot and as I was driving, I turned back to look at her in the backseat. "Now Megan, that is just mean. You know, I get it. I GET IT. You don't think I'm cool. You are embarrassed by me. I GET IT. But you know what??? Why don't you try KEEPING THAT TO YOURSELF!"

Not one of my finer moments but whatever.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Boys will be boys, I suppose

Today we are going to my niece's 4th birthday party. The kids are excited about it and I suspect that for the most part, my niece is excited to see them. I say "for the most part" because although Megan is a gem with her, Jack on the other hand has taken to somewhat torturing her at times. Jack is a...well, he's a boy. He likes boy stuff and that includes creatures, monsters, dragons, aliens, snakes and anything else that falls into the scary and creepy categories. My niece is a...well, she's a girl. She likes girl stuff and that includes ponies, barbies, dress up and anything else that falls in the absolutely NOT scary and creepy categories. Jack has figured out how to "freak her out" and I fear he revels in pushing her buttons a little too much sometimes. But according to Jack, he's "just trying to teach her some lessons." Teaching his cousin "lessons" can be anything from making scary noises to holding scary toys up to her face to freak her out. Or like the last time we were all together, Jack kept turning the lights off in the basement. There were a couple of angst ridden moments on that one and so on our car ride home, it was a topic of discussion.

Me: Jack, why did you keep turning the lights off on her?
Jack: I dunno.
Me: Were you doing it to try to scare her?
Jack: Um, she's afraid of the dark. She shouldn't be afraid of the dark.
Me (sarcastically): So were you turning the lights off on her to try to teach her not to be afraid of the dark?
Jack: Uh, no. I just turn off the lights when we are going upstairs and she is at the bottom of the steps.
Megan (always the voice of reason): Anything he just said- I don't believe any of it. Trust me, I've been there and I've seen it.
Jack (trying to justify his actions): Well, she follows me everywhere.
Megan (again, the voice of reason): Well then go somewhere else.
Jack (trying to change the subject): Actually, she only follows Megan, not me!
Me: Well, do you think she follows Megan around because Megan is nice to her and you do mean things like turning off the light on her?
Jack (after a moment of contemplation): I dunno.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I thought it would be a few more years before I was considered so uncool

I am going to be a helper in a couple weeks for Megan's Brownie troop. The girls are going on a trip to a farm for hay rides. I was pretty excited about it and mentioned it to Megan the other day while we were in the car.

Me: Megan, guess who is going to be one of the drivers when your troop goes on the hay ride?
Megan: You?
Me: Yup!
Megan: Do I have to go in your car?
Me: Well, don't you think it would be weird to have your mom driving and you not be in the car?
Megan: (says nothing and just shrugs her shoulders looking out the window)
Me: What? You don't want to be in the car with me?
Megan: Not really.
Me: Why not?
Megan: Because you say weird things sometimes.
Me (shocked): Like what?
Megan (visibly getting upset): Stuff.
Me: You have to give me an example before I believe it.
Megan: Well, you say weird things that other mom's don't say like, "Everybody out of the pool." Who says that? Nobody!
***My grandpa used to have a habit of yelling, "Everybody out of the pool!" when he would pull up and park the car. It was his way of saying, "everybody get out of the car." I always thought this was hilarious and I sometimes say it- but only rarely.
Me: What you don't think that is funny?
Megan (totally tearing up, voice quivering): No! It's embarrassing!
Me (gasp): You are embarrassed of me?
Megan: Sometimes (sob, sob). IT'S WEIRD!
Me: Wow. That kind of hurts my feelings.
Megan: (sobbing saying nothing.)
Me: Why are you crying? Are you crying because you are embarrassed of me or because you feel bad that you hurt my feelings?
Megan (whispering): Both.

That was a painful conversation. I thought I had at least a few more years before she would realize how embarrassing I could be.