Friday, December 28, 2007

Girls Make Passes at Men in Glasses

I was a little worried that my libido wouldn't make a return before my husband did. I turned it off six months ago and I was afraid I had lost the power switch.

But Mr. Nathan walked in to the pool area at family swim today and he was wearing glasses.

Be still my heart.

Hey, Tuna Man, dearest, maybe you should rethink that laser eye surgery. 8-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas for 3 and a Future for 4

"This was, perhaps, the best Christmas ever."

So says my daughter. Yes, she really talks like that. Imagine her saying that with accompanying facial expressions and hand movements.

Everyone kept telling me that I should just postpone Christmas until my husband got home, but that's just not realistic. Imagine telling two little kids that Santa wasn't going to come for two more weeks. That's not how life works. I thought this holiday was a good opportunity to teach them that life goes on and you must roll with the punches. Adaptation is the key to survival.

But Christmas doesn't just happen. A parent has to make it happen. And making it happen on my own wasn't all that fun. I wouldn't say that I felt stressed about it. More like, resigned. And tired.

I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. on Christmas Even wrapping gifts and eating Santa's cookies. Who knew it would take so long when you're all alone?

But both kids proclaimed it the best day ever, and I'm just glad it's all over. Now I have ten days until my husband comes home. Yes, I have an actual date and time for his return now. It's nice to have that nailed down. Yay!

What's not nailed down is what is going to happen with the rest of our lives.

There is a good chance we will finally be moving on from this bayou after nine long years. There has been a good chance all year, but now it looks almost definite. I hesitate to even write that for fear that once again things will change.

But I am torn. I am sort of heartbroken to be leaving this school that we love and the roots I've sunk deep. I have friends here. But I'm happy to be moving on from this place that my husband hates. And after seven years in this house, some new digs would be very welcome.

Mostly I am scared, no terrified, that we won't be able to get the kids into a comparable school. The school I already have my heart set on is highly competitive. With 80 open slots for first grade, my son has a good chance of making it in. But the fourth grade may only have one or two openings, or none at all.

If I have to leave this school that has become part of our family and I can't get the kids into something similar in our new state, I will be heartbroken.

Everything is still up in the air, but it is keeping me up at night.

If nothing else, 2008 looks like it will be a year to shake things up. And that has to be good.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Polar Express

Last night I surprised the kids with a trip on the Polar Express.

We had to drive for two and a half hours through rural Texas to get to the train depot, but it was worth it. I have never seen my son so excited.

They did an excellent job with it. Each car had chefs to serve hot cocoa and Rice Krispy Treats. They read The Polar Express. Santa met us at the North Pole and boarded the train for the trip back. He sat and talked with each child and gave them a bell. Then we sang Christmas carols all the way back.

You've never seen so many excited children in one place. But the parents were even more excited. You'd have thought the paparazzi had boarded the train with all the cameras at work.

It was pretty magical. Of course, this morning when Uncle Patrick asked my son, "What did you do last night?" he replied, "Oh, I forgot. Um...I built a track for my trains."

Kids. You can't live with them, you can't throw them under Santa's sleigh.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Last night at about this time I started reading Michael Tolliver Lives. And I stayed up all night to finish it.

I loved finally gaining closure for a set of characters I had come to care for. Michael spends some time in his 55th year contemplating all of the people who have touched his life. It was a sweet book and it made me happy.

Tonight, I stayed up late to finish sending my Christmas cards. As I poured though the list, updating addresses, adding partners and removing the deceased, I couldn't help but see the parallel to the book I had just finished.

Our Christmas card list is filled with such a diverse host of characters. For many of them, we will only share this one yearly exchange of a holiday card.

There is my flaky college roommate with the three daughters who look just like her. There are my two lesbian bridesmaids whose cards always get returned because they move so much.

There are my husband's ROTC friends, many of whom have had their lives touched by the war in Iraq even more than we have. There is the priest who married us. There are relatives who probably can't even remember what I look like, much less realize that I am old enough to have two children.

There are the host of military friends who have surely moved on to another base in the last year. I send less and less cards to them every year.

There are our parents, grandparents, my brother, my husband's step-sisters. There are the local friends who have supported me so much these last few months. And there are friends and family I've come to know through this very blog.

All of these people have touched our lives in different ways. Some in passing, some so deeply that we are different people for knowing them. They all have their own stories and their own lists.

Too many people have come and gone over the years to even count.

But the 55-year-old Michael Tolliver would consider me young. He would know that I have many more connections to make. And many more connections to break.

He would know that what I now consider to be the worst time in my life (which, frankly, is this present moment) could be eclipsed without a moment's notice. And he would know that what I now consider to be the most wonderful time in my life (which, frankly, is also this present moment) could be outshone before my eyes.

I wonder where I'll be in twenty years. Barring catastrophe, I know I will still be loving my husband and caring for my (now adult) children. I could be a grandma by then!

But what I wonder most about my life in twenty years is how many of the people who are so important to my life now could be mere footnotes in my story then.

People come and go so quickly. The trick, I think, is knowing who to hold on to and who to let go.

And I think Michael Tolliver go it quite right.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Tuna Boy

Today is my son's 6th birthday.

It's hard to believe that only six years ago today I was screaming, "Get him out! Just get HIM OUT!"

He was being stubborn and had to be dragged into the world with forceps. Figures.

It can't be easy to be a late December baby, but he has never complained. Today at school was all about their Christmas program and class Christmas party. But he doesn't seem to mind. Heck, considering that he was due December 7 and we forced him out on December 20, it seems like he actually likes being a Santa Baby.

He's a great kid with an adventurous spirit and kind heart. He's smart and strong and I love him to pieces. Even when he's pooping on the floor.

Happy 6th birthday, Baby Boy. We love you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Concussed

The only good thing I can say about yesterday is that it is over.

Well, that and I got to see Mr. Nathan again, but with my libido simmering on low since this summer, Mr, Nathan doesn't even really bring a smile to my face anymore.

I decided to try and finish all of my holiday errands yesterday and spent a good two hours at Target, mostly walking around trying to remember what I had forgotten. But I bought some tacky, animated outdoor holiday decorations on clearance, just to assuage my guilt over not stringing lights and setting up inflatables this year.

In the midst of attaching penguin wings (or are they flippers?), screwing on sea lion tails, and assembling an igloo I smacked my head on a door handle.

I have a huge door handle indentation on my forehead. And I keep bumping it every time I push back my bangs. Which I do a hundred time a day.

I think I may be concussed!

My afternoon ended up being hectic and stressful with swim lessons, homework arguments and phone calls. My son was so into reading his homework to my parents on the phone that he put off going to the bathroom until the last minute and had to make a run for it.

After a few seconds I heard, "I didn't make it!" I sighed and headed after him expecting to clean up wet pants.

What I found was poop. Poop on the floor! He pooped on the floor!

While I was trying to clean that all up, I turned around and stepped in more poop. On the carpet. The dog had pooped on the carpet!

I'm not sure how much more shit I can take. No more fiber for anyone until Daddy comes home.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Should Be Sleeping

I'm feeling exceptionally sad right now. I feel so alone yet I don't want to talk to anyone. Nobody says anything right.

I know this feeling will pass, probably by morning. I'm too freaking well-adjusted for it to linger too long.

At the barber shop yesterday a man was loudly telling everyone a story about a high school girl who was missing an arm yet was still one of the best athletes in the state.

"Ain't no one in here who can complain about nothing," he proclaimed. "You know what I'm saying?"

I do. I know what he's saying. There is always someone worse off than you. When you're at your lowest there is always someone your friends can point to and say, "At least you're not in that place." And they're right. At least you have friends, right?

But is it really so wrong to really feel your feelings? What is so wrong about saying, "I'm sad. I'm mad. This sucks!"

I think we all need to give ourselves a fucking break and stop comparing our woes. Strong feelings don't always need to be medicated away. Or talked away. Or written away.

Maybe they need to be truly felt, so we can truly deal with them.

I'm sad. I'm mad. I'm tired.

This sucks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Very Special Freakin' Christmas

Have you seen that Christmas episode of Family Guy where Lois totally loses her shit and has to be shot off the town Christmas tree with a tranquilizer dart?

Yeah. I feel you, Lois. I feel you, sister.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Do the Math

My husband called from Iraq this morning. I haven't heard from him in a while and it was great to hear his voice. It would have been greater if it wasn't five o'clock in the morning.

"Mello? I mumbled.

"Hey, Hon. It's me. What time is it there?"

He's been deployed for six months with his boots on the ground in Iraq for the last five and he still hasn't figured out the time difference!

We talked for a little bit, but I'm not really at my best in the morning. And that's the biggest understatement you'll hear all year. At one point I sort of remember saying, "You say stuff now."

He laughed at me and offered to call back after I had dropped the kids off at school. "I'll talk to you between 8 and 9," he said in farewell.

He called at 12:30.

"Do you have any idea what time it is here?" I asked him.

"Nope, I haven't a clue," he replied.

"Well, let's see. It's 12:30 here, two, three..."

But he interrupted me. "Honey! Don't even bother. If I haven't figured it out by now, I'm not going to."

It's a good thing he sent flowers today.

Yes, he really did send me flowers. Orchids, in fact. Just because he loves me. I can't tell you how happy his simple words and sweet gesture made me feel. His timing was perfect. I needed a lift.

We talked and gossiped and it was great. He also said what may be my all time favorite Tuna Man quote. "Just remember," he said. "I love you more than he loves his wife." I love it!

What can I say? He gets me. He just can't count backwards.

I do have some constructive criticism for the flower delivery person, though. If you're going to leave flowers without ringing the bell (In fairness, he may have rung the bell but I didn't hear it because I was sleeping. What? I was up at 5 a.m.!) don't prop the box up on the screen door.

I was trapped inside my house! At least until I remembered that I had a back door.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Better Them Than Me

The kids each had a holiday violin concert this afternoon. The brand new beginners played before my son and I learned something interesting.

Starting this year, each beginning student must have a parent learn to play along with them. So each kid had a violin-playing parent on stage with them.

If that policy was in effect when my kids started, they wouldn't be playing the violin. There's no way they'd get my perfectionist ass up on that stage!

Ah, life without the stresses of violin. That could have been sweet.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Show and Tell

In the newsletter that my son's Kindergarten teacher sends home every Friday, she has asked for parents to come to the class and share some of their families' holiday traditions.

Is it sad or just pathetic that I can't think of a single thing to share?

Oh sure, we celebrate the holidays just like everyone else. We celebrate Christmas by exchanging presents, decorating a tree and hanging stockings. The problem is that we celebrate Christmas just like everyone else. I can't think of one unique thing that we do.

Hmmm, maybe I could take the kids on a little field trip to the post office. I spend 75% of my Christmas preparation time there anyway. Or maybe I could bring in my laptop and show the kids how the bank has made it extra easy for me to obsess about our seasonal finances online. That's how I spend the other 25% of my time.

Maybe I could bring in a fire extinguisher and talk about fire safety. Between burning candles under a shelf, using the oven for the first time in months, and letting the Christmas Tree dry out until it is a pile of brittle pine needles, almost burning down the house has become a sort of family tradition.

Oooh, maybe I could put on a little skit for the kids entitled Stupid Fights We Have around the Holidays. Or maybe I could call it How Mommy and Daddy Test Their Marriage Every Year. What? It has a happy ending, I swear!

Oh! I could bring in a scale and let the kids chart how much weight I'll gain in December. That would be a good math lesson.

In an attempt to avoid inflicting all of the things that will send my kids into therapy twenty years from now on everyone else's children, I think I'll ask my kids what holiday tradition they would like to share.

Seeing what they come up with could be the most entertaining thing I've done all year.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

And We Hit a Wall

That's it. My daughter is done. Absolutely and completely done. She actually stood in our house today with her face straining to the roof and bellowed, "I just can't take it anymore!"

I sort of saw it coming. Sort of. You just never know with my daughter. A couple of days ago she told me that she only wanted one thing for Christmas. "All I want is for Daddy to come home."

There isn't much you can say to your child when all she wants is her Daddy back and there is no way he'll be out of Iraq and home in time for Christmas. I find that the straight answer works best. Not even Santa can bring Daddy home for Christmas. Daddy has to stay in Iraq.

Tonight's desperate episode all began when I sent her back to her room to redo her homework.

She stood on the stairs and took dramatic I-can't-believe-my-mom-is-so-mean breaths until I raised my voice. "Enough with the drama. Go!"

She was only gone a few minutes when I heard her desperate wail. Apparently, she just can't take it anymore. At first I didn't even realize what she was talking about. In bewilderment, I asked, "What can't you take anymore?"

"I can't take Daddy being away for one more day!" Then she burst into tears.

It's funny how she misses Daddy the most when Mommy is being mean. But she ran into my arms and sobbed and cried. What could I possibly say?

"I know, honey. I miss Daddy too, but he won't be back for a few more weeks and we have to just keep living our lives day to day."

"I know," she sobbed. "But you don't know what it was like at school today! I missed him so much so I put his picture on my desk. I didn't get in trouble but it didn't help!"

I let her cry it out for a while but my son struggles with that. He hurts to see her hurt and he tries in his own five-year-old way to help.

"Maybe Daddy will be back next week," he says. But I can't let that false hope fester.

"No, he won't, but maybe you could e-mail him."

"No, no," my son insisted. "I saw a big sign that said that a big group was coming home January 2. Maybe Daddy will be home then."

Never mind that he can't read yet.

None of the normal things we military moms do to help our kids with separations are working with her. She doesn't want to write him or send him anything. I'm not sure why. She has been so amazingly mature these last few months that I sometimes have to remind myself that she is only eight-years-old. She wants her Daddy. Nothing else will do.

I did the only thing I could think to do. I sent her to finish her homework.

My son summed up his own feelings then. "I miss Daddy too, but I don't get sad about it."

"Why is that, Buddy," I asked him.

"Because I have so many other people who love me too." He and I are a lot alike.

My daughter has struggled to fall asleep tonight. Her brain and her heart are in overdrive. And that's how she and I are alike.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hey Look! Green Grass!

I've been worried lately.

Isn't that what good mothers do? No matter how wonderful our kids are, we worry that we're screwing them up enough to land them in therapy or get them married to the local mullet-headed shrew.

I've been worried that my kids are getting spoiled. Like, really spoiled.

Okay, well...not so much my kids, but my son.

His expectations and demands have been grating on me. And since I am the only parent here, any negative change in his behavior has to be directly traced to my parenting.

I suck.

But there are people who suck more. I know it. I try to remind myself of that fact. Sometimes, those people even manage to remind me.

My daughter is friends with a set of sisters in her class. These girls are the offspring of the most wealthy people I know in real life. The dad is kind of famous and the family's charitable foundation is absolutely renowned.

One of the girls is kind of sweet. The other one is a terror. Let's call her Maddy.

One day last week I picked my daughter up from school and she immediately told me, "Maddy asked me to get her a Nintendo DS for her birthday."

I sort of laughed that off. I'm not about to buy my own child a Nintendo DS, birthday or not. I'm certainly not going to indulge someone else's kid. But my daughter had more to report.

"She told me I had to go to Target and buy it tonight before they're all sold out and drop it off at her house."

"She did, huh?" I responded. "How very demanding of her. What did you tell her?"

"I told her sure, as long as my mom said it was okay."

Well, her mom certainly did not say it was okay. I gave my daughter a little speech about being taken advantage of and about reasonable expectations. Not only is this girl's birthday quite a while away, I know that her parents almost always request that guests do not bring gifts to their parties.

But when we got home, my daughter dug something out of her backpack to show me. It was a letter of instruction from Maddy.

Not only did she write out every detail of her "request" she also added that my daughter had better hurry up and get it to her. "You have to drop it off tonight," she wrote.

I was a more than a little put out. You guys know how I am. My daughter is an exceedingly empathetic, sweet and polite child. There will always be people who will want to take advantage of her.

When I threw the paper away, my daughter started crying. "But Maddy will be upset! I feel like this is all my fault."

"Honey, you can't be responsible for other kids being rude and spoiled." And we moved on with our afternoon.

Later, when we came home from running errands, there was a message on our machine.

It was from Maddy.

"Did you get my Nintendo DS yet? You better hurry up."

Okay, that was enough. I probably should have picked up the phone, but I decided to compose my thoughts in an e-mail instead. I'm a better writer than a speaker.

I played it all off like it was funny. I told her mom, "I know what Maddy wants for Christmas." And I told her that I hesitated to write at all but I knew that if it was my daughter, I'd want to know.

Lie. I didn't hesitate a second to write. And my daughter would never dare do such a thing.

At 9 p.m. Maddy's mother called me. She wanted to know if my daughter was awake because Maddy wanted to apologize to her. Ha! My kid had been asleep for two hours.

So her mother told me how Maddy was embarrassed and how she was at that moment crying in her father's lap. She explained that when her "mean" mom said no to the DS, she just turned to the sweetest person she knew. She said that now she felt horrible because she didn't want to hurt my daughter's feelings.

Oh, and she explained that Maddy had written down our home number and used her grandmother's phone to call us, because she knew that her parents wouldn't let her make that call.

Yeah, sure. She was embarrassed, all right. Embarrassed to be caught.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. Either I need to adopt Maddy's mother's kids-will-be-kids attitude, or I need to put the smack down on my son's spoiled ways right now.

Ah huh. The smack down is on.

You know, money doesn't make good people, charitable contributions aside. Someone remind me of that when I'm rich and famous. Okay?