Wednesday, April 30, 2008

These Boobs are Made for Walking

My friend Marybeth is doing the Avon 3-Day walk and is raising money for breast cancer research. I did the walk in 2000, and it was really an awesome commitment and undertaking. The most touching part was walking with people who had photos of the people they were walking for on their shirts or hanging on necklaces. 

It's kind of hard to miss thousands of people all of them wearing clothes that say things like, "I miss you, Mommy" or "Breast cancer made me a widow." Or the survivors wearing their loud pink shirts and adding a hugely positive ray of hope on everything around what could otherwise be a very sobering physical challenge. 

The Avon 3-day is 60 miles. 20 miles a day. It's way harder than running a marathon because you have to get up and do it all over again, and then do it again... all while sleeping in a tent and enduring the weather, whatever it may be.

Although I know my most loyal reader has already donated to the, I thought I might drum Marybeth up some business from some other readers. She needs some cash to meet her fundraising goal. And if you hurry you can order a t-shirt that says, "These Boobs are Made for Walking," that the team is selling as a fundraising endeavor. 

If you'd like more info on Marybeth, check out her blog, "In lieu of the Zone."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How do you know? -- TMI Warning

2008 is the year of babies around here. Several of my friends, who have kids X-man's age (2) or a year older are due with their second children or have recently given birth. I am elated to welcome the new members of their families.

When MacTroll and I decided to have a baby, it wasn't instinctual... We had been together for 12 years and neither of us was felt strongly about whether we wanted a kid or not until 2004, when MacTroll came home with his first real superhero car. The car, similar to the one Wolverine drove in X-men 2, is a sneaky sportscar. It's sneaky in that it hides the fact that it really has 4 doors and is, therefore, a sedan. 

You're probably wondering 1) how a sports car = baby and 2) how was I obviously not included in this purchase decision concerning thousands of family dollars...

Well, the answer to 1) is in my husband's words, that it's a family car because the backseat is equipped with the Latch system and 2) is that before the purchase was made, MacTroll had just risen in the ranks in the Legion of Superheroes commanding a salary that no longer required joint signings at the bank (and giving me adequate proof and fear as to why after divorce women get 74 percent more poor -- thank you Dr. Troy -- it's the one statistic he gave that stuck in my head for 10 years from his 200-level Sociology class on the Family.).

This was MacTroll's car, purchased with MacTroll's money... and after getting rid of the 1994 Corolla with 180,000 miles on it and ice tea stains on the passenger seat from his days playing Jimmy Olsen for the Booth Newspapers in Michigan (where the only real big pluses were free laundry and working with Jef Mallet, who is now known for his cartoon strip Frazz), who was I to argue? 

I mean, when I spend my miniscule earnings on things like Dana-only trips to Montreal to watch Roy Dupuis movies and eat at Schwartz's, do I want him to say anything about how I spend that money, just because he might have chosen another destination, had he been included in the conversation? No. (And he would never argue with me about being a Quebecaphile because he's an awesome guy who understands me needing to get out of dodge for a while in a place I feel happy.) 

We were due for a new car. At least it wasn't some giant SUV... 

Anyway, when he came home that day with his new toy, he opened the backdoor and showed me the symbols indicating the Latch system so proudly. "Look, car seat stuff!"

It felt like he had heaved a big medicine ball at my gut. "I don't have a kid. I have a dog." I offered. 

"Yeah, I know, but I thought this was the better purchase in case we had a kid in the next five years," MacTroll answered back with a lot of enthusiasm. 

In case you don't know me, I'm a sucker for practicality. Give me a choice between bringing me flowers and bringing me a Target gift card, and I will always go for the gift card. MacTroll is not often a practical kind of man. So when he said this to me, I knew this was him planting the seed in my head. The instant curl of my lip probably told him to stop talking, which he did, bless him. Suddenly, I knew I was going to have to make a decision whether I wanted to go down the road of motherhood or not. 

And the next six months were spent with me making that decision. I spent a lot of time talking to my friend Lori, who was baby crazy, just working up the courage to use the word — "baby." 

When I met that achievement, I worked on talking with other people bringing up the idea of babies. Mostly I chatted to strangers. But I broke down and gave it a testing ground at my friend Patrick's 30th birthday party two months later. His mom, Glenda, picked up on the word immediately. "Are you trying to tell us something, Dana, 'cause you're using the word baby a lot." 

I bowed my head turning bright red... "No."

When I finally decided I'd like to be a mom for sure, we headed into our doctor for the pre-baby discussion. I think we freaked out our doctor a little. Because her first words during the discussion were, "I usually don't get both the potential mom and dad for this kind of consultation. Usually it's just the mom, but I think it's fabulous that you're both here." 

And then she nearly fell off her chair when two people, closing in on 30, asked her how to make a baby. 

After over a decade of doing everything possible NOT to get pregnant, the idea of not using birth control was so foreign it was like our brains just couldn't wrap around the idea of procreation. 

Plus, Joel and I had always been through health classes as teenagers where the eerie music would play in the stereotypical health film as the pregnant girl realized her world had ended because she chose to have sex... with the narrator (who should be shot and laid next to the hanged writer) saying something like: "It took only one irresponsible act for Lindsay to lose her childhood." 

You know... it was one of those films that blames the girl, damns sex as evil, curses babies made from teen pregnancies as "bad" and gives no actual discussion to the health topic of sex and its repercussions, no real information (other than trying to scare you into abstinence) on how to prevent pregnancy nor any discussion about how to raise a baby (like mentioning services to look into), how to find information on adoption (Go Juno) or information on abortion

Either way, it didn't stop us from having sex... it just made us the two most responsible birth control friendly people in the world. 

And bless Dr. Jennie and her, "Don't be surprised if it doesn't happen on the first try. It could take months. If it takes longer than a year, come back and we'll see if we can help."

After the encouraging pep talk. We decided to start in June. And damn it if using all that birth control for over a decade wasn't a really good idea. MacTroll, superhero that he is, managed to get the job done in the first round of attempts.

Now we have a 2 year old, and I see the photos of my dear friends' new babies, and I remember what it felt like to smell X-man's cool, clean George-Clooney-esque baby hair. I remember giving him baths in the sink. I remember the cute little clothes and watching him devour a bottle, learn to turn over, eat rice cereal... And they're all good, positive memories. But when I see the pictures, I realize I don't want another baby... I would just want to have X-man, as a baby, all over again. 

I'm in awe of the steps my friends have taken to love and provide for the little ones in their lives. MacTroll and I feel like parenting one is really pushing our limits. 

I guess it's just the way it is. Some people have six kids and rock as parents. Some people are just super dandy without having any. And I think it's awesome nowadays that a growing number of people are able to make such choices. Because apparently the ability to make choices, like family planning, doesn't always hold true for all

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ode to my husband

I love so many parts of you.
Your sweet demeanor.
Your challenging intellect.
But sweetheart I'm gagging, 
Choking, really, 
On your latest offering of love.
Was it lingerie? 
Or candy?
I am blessed with the smell of digested hot dogs wafting across the room—
straight from our dog's ass.
Six hot dogs swiped from the counter on Sunday.
Still stinking up my life pushing Tuesday.

Crazy Fears

I hate marionettes, dummies, clowns and mimes.

And this is why I hate marionettes and dummies: Madame. When I was little Madame was on Solid Gold. A program I used to watch as a kid because I loved the dancing and the singing (it fed my love for Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, Pat Benatar, etc.). I was too young to understand the humor, but her face scared me to death.

As a child, I had a nightmare that she was 20 feet tall and chasing after me with her big scary mouth and crazy cheekbones. But I refused to give up my Solid Gold dancers and kept watching the show. At the end of which, my mom had to stand at the top of the stairs when I came up from the basement every night to make sure Madame's big, long stick arms didn't reach out and grab me, so she could eat me up.

What is more frightening is that it looks like Madame has a new handler... and has been trying to stage a comeback

P.S. The reason I am afraid of clowns is also available on YouTube, but I couldn't bring myself to watch it. The scene in "Poltergeist," when the little boy is almost strangled by his clown marionette. 

Ahh, the problems with being a child of the 1980s.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Toddler Talk

I've been working on teaching X-man to use his words. His preferred method of communication is pointing and grunting. For a while he'd point, grunt and then when he realized I wasn't falling for it he'd blink his eyes all pretty and say, "Puh-leez, Mama." 

Now I'm having to work up a resistance to the "Puh-leez" and ask, "Please is good, but what is it that you want?" 

Today I got out of him, "Go backyard, puh-leez" and "More milk, puh-leez" and "Play ball, Mama, puh-leez." Other favorite words/phrases at this point include "Open door," "Orange juice, puh-leez," "Daddy, where are you?", "Go downstairs," "Mama, Dada, Breakfast, puh-leez," and everyone' favorite, "See Poopy, puh-leez." (Yes, he's starting to get curious about what smells so bad in his diaper.)

The next challenge is teaching him that some places aren't safe to jump off of even if a Mama is below him. Case in point, the window wells for the basement, which should be covered up in the next few weeks (it's on the list for this summer after staining the fence and putting the sandbox together but before adding a storm door). I went into the well after some debris had blown down there to clean it out and to cut the mouse eaten screen out of the window finally (I left the mouse skins and bones where they were). And X-man walked up and said, "Jump!" and put his arms out like he was jumping at me from the side of the pool or in the ball pit at Ants in Their Pants. I managed to prevent it with a big "No!" and then divert him out into the driveway so we could play with his plastic car (which holy cow has he gotten good at steering/pushing). But the last thing I need him to do is to jump down there whether I'm in there or not and break his head open.

MacTroll also introduced X-man to a new machine -- the lawn mower. X-man assisted with a couple of laps in the front yard on the lower bar. But he mostly laid down on the grass rolling around shouting "Whoa! Whoa!" at his father using machinery. Not nearly as exciting was the "natural, organic, safe for kids and pets" (i.e. way too expensive) fertilizer spreading that I have to finish tomorrow. Lesson that I learned today: Two parents can't do yardwork at the same time with a toddler without him getting bored and thinking it's okay to walk into the middle of the street to turn around in circles for no apparent reason. Never mind the zillions of chalk, cars, balls, sand and dirt he has to entertain himself with. Maybe when he's at Papa's next weekend, he'll get a spin on the riding lawnmower. (Papa owns a couple of acres, mostly wooded, but there are some larger areas that a push mower just won't help with.) 

We also introduced X-man to sushi tonight. He wasn't hip to the texture. But he did enjoy the veggie tempura, and of course, the edamame, which has always been one of his favorite veggie treats. 

We struck out this week in the neighborhood garage sales/One Week Boutique areas. I was looking for summer pjs for X-man. I've been to the sale two or three times, and I always go on Fridays to avoid the fee to get in and the 2+ hours standing in line to check out at OWB. I thought this year's sale wasn't as impressive as last year's. Maybe I have higher standards, but the toys that were left over wouldn't have passed my crappy garage sale standards, let alone what they advertise as being high quality. I really hope they don't donate that crap... then the non-profit has to pay to trash the stuff. Maybe someone should start a business recycling the plastic in toys...

So, defeated I ended up at Target, where it is impossible for me to leave without spending like $100. Of which $70, this trip, was on a side table for the guest bedroom. Since MacTroll has been having such severe snoring issues, I figured I might want to keep a light, a book and an alarm clock in there for when it's a problem or, uh, you know, to make it more friendly for guests. (Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate!)

Speaking of books, the CARE bookclub is reading "Good in Bed" by Jennifer Weiner for May. I have to get a move on... if it counts for anything, I've started rereading the August book, "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin. I guess with all the crazy school whatnot happening, it was nice to get out the old Norton Anthology from days gone past and feel scholarly. I'm not sure why I didn't remember that she was from New Orleans. All the French made me think of Quebec (are you guys out of the snow yet?)

A big thank you today to the woman who bravely cut 2.5 inches of magical blonde hair from X-man's head in a relatively neat fashion despite his protesting. I'm hoping MacTroll gave you a tip that was worth the 20 minutes of unhappy 2 year old. 

I wasn't supposed to be there for this haircut, but through strangeness and a back up at the walk-in hair salon at the place we normally go, it worked out that I got to be the parent-on-point for the haircut.  And of course, the minute it was over with, X-man washed his hands, and was a sweet as could be to the woman. Sigh. 

Tomorrow I head to Decatur for my last Dec weekend. I'm wondering if it will be a strange sorrow like it was exactly 10 years ago when I graduated. A big congrats to Galen on his Journalism Award... and to Chris and Carol who will be graduating in May and moving on with their lives. It's also Carol's 22nd birthday, so I'm taking her the chocolate cupcakes I promised.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Childhood Role Models

Yeah, so I have the day off, well kind of. MacTroll is home but since he's on phone calls all afternoon, I have to stay home to take care of the X-man. The only time I get to wander off is when I'm working or when X-man is at school. Otherwise I start to think of the house as a cage after awhile. Sure, it's a very nice cage. But a cage all the same. We kept X-man home today to go have some fun this morning at my friend Heidi's school. But maybe after he gets up, I'll take him out in the 45 mph winds (seriously!).

Anyway, when I was a teenager there was this huge push at school about role models. I think it was about the time that the rap group NWA came out that people (as always) start needlessly wondering about the pop culture icons the younger generation look up to and criticizing them (rather than looking at them critically).

I was always a Princess Leia fan as a little kid. What was not to admire? She was awesome: mouthy, bright and always in the middle of a mess clamoring on about a greater purpose. As a teenager, I read "Postcards from the Edge" and loved it, but it was really "Surrender the Pink" and the main character's dual personality that hit home with me.

Anyway, attached is a speech she gave a while ago honoring George Lucas. It's an embodiment of how Fisher writes and all that I loved about Leia. I also think when Fisher first walks out you see a sense of fear behind Steven Spielberg's eyes. :-P

Star Wars geeks unite. Fly that freak flag. It's all good.

Good Morning, Sunshine

Three months ago we had a baby that slept from 7 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. Yes, we were spoiled. Now that it's light longer at night and earlier in the morning X-man goes to bed when it gets dark at 7:30 p.m. and wakes up at 5:45 a.m. I'm hoping that when it starts to be light until 9 p.m. he doesn't go that long... or at least sleeps in a bit in the morning. 

Because although I'm adjusting fairly well. MacTroll is resistant to going to bed before 10 p.m. Of course, with the snoring he's been doing lately, it's not like my sleeping has been very high quality either. Last night I moved down the hall to the guest room, and I had to shut the door. And I could still hear him. 

I've made the request that he goes to see someone about it. We'll see if that happens. 

They Might Be Giants Podcast for Little People

Yeah, I know it's nothing new that TMBG reinvented themselves by producing not your norm kid songs about ABC's and 123's. I didn't care much for the albums, until I caught this podcast on iTunes (hooray for free stuff). X-man, MacTroll and I are googoo not for the Mississippi part (which is okay), but for the Lost and Found song that follows it. :-)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Freedom to Stand Still

Once upon a time I blogged on LiveJournal. Then I went to Xanga in 2005, since it seemed to be the only way to communicate with my mother. 

Xanga eventually went down the tubes when I established my Facebook account in fall of 2006. 

I don't think what I have to say is going to be any different than most of the other C-U area blogs I read (Carrie, Mrs. Chicken, LBOTP, Rayne, Just a Mom, Soy is the New Black, etc., you rock). 

But what I do realize is that certain parts of my brain and thought processes are getting bottled to the point of no return. When I think of this period of my life, my memories are going to be entirely made up of those I'm making with my 2-year-old son. I love all of the stuff we do together, but at the same time, I want him to grow up knowing that his mother has a sense of who she is outside of being a mother. And in that aspect, I'm failing in new and huge ways every day. 

For example, last fall, I finally decided what I wanted to do as a career, since working 60-plus hours a week as a PR/media person while being married to MacTroll, OS X superhero for the 21st century, doesn't exactly work when you have a child. It's the reason we moved away from the big city where we both had pretty demanding careers five years ago. 

Anyway, I applied to the the mega large university's graduate program to do Early Childhood Education. I picked it because when I called around to find out about the programs in the area, the person I talked to went on and on pressing the point that if admitted to the program I couldn't work because it was a full-time, day-time program. 

In response, I gave notice at my part-time job, wrote the six pages of essays, nagged my references,  studied my ass off for the GRE, took the Illinois teaching BASIC test and started saving money for tuition for fall of 2008. 

When I got my acceptance letter I was jubilant. Then I met with my mentors who handed me the list of required classes I needed to take. When I got my computer access to start working on my registration last week, I can't tell you how surprised I was that the full-time, day-time program I had chosen that works with traditional childcare hours required me to take evening classes three nights a week. 

Since Mighty MacTroll doesn't have a set schedule for saving the IT world, I was screwed. The university employee who told me about the program was shocked when I sent her the list of courses and the night-time requirements. She started to get into it with scheduling. Then she sent me to a faculty with some kind of authority... who basically told me that maybe I should defer and in a year my life could work with the schedule (for example: maybe I'll get divorced and he'll take the kid?) or I should conveniently transfer from the program I wanted to be in, to a program I didn't want to be in so I could have more daytime options. 

So, today I asked to withdraw entirely from the program. I just don't have from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. free every day to let the sucky large university set my schedule for me. And as the only parent with consistency right now, I'm not about to get gipped of 2 years of my only child's early years for educational snobbery. Seriously... 

Of course, I might have gotten a bit disappointed and depressed about it enough to schedule a beach vacation in Wisconsin for September with the money I saved. Sure, it's no Virgin Islands, but I'm a girl on a budget with a son who likes sand and a dog who likes water. Plus, MacTroll can still be on the grid with DSL versus on dial up from a mail station on St. John. 

To put my whining into perspective though, I have two friends going through divorce. My mom lost one of her students after he suffered an asthma attack at age 16. A friend with a fetus in utero (although she's due any moment now) with enlarged ventricles, sooo... boo hoo hoo, Looseyfur doesn't get to get a freaking second master's degree. 

That said, anyone have any ideas on what the hell I should do with my time while I'm taking some classes at Parkland part-time and figuring out an online program that might better suit my needs? I'm not a girl who sits still very well. On the other hand, my life is still dictated by my spouse's work schedule and my son.