Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Bummer Summer and Why the Hoosiers are to Blame

School starts for the Midget tomorrow.   At 8:05 tomorrow morning my darling Midget will become a big ole’ toothless 1st grader.  Unlike last year, this year I am only moderately traumatized.  I’m over that whole hump of losing my baby to the world of elementary gang bangers and resigned to life with an almost toddler.  I’ll miss my little sidekick but not gonna lie, it will be nice to catch up on profanity filled Netflix offerings during naptime once again.  I’m over keeping it clean.

 As far as summer-break adventures, The Midget, The Nugget and I have had some fab ones: from hiking every nature preserve we could find to various picnics in sculpture gardens, from Colts training camp to Lego camp and a million things in between.  We even let the Turk join us for a few weekend adventures and while festive times were had by all, our excursions were marred by one thing- they were in Indiana and from what I’ve ascertained thus far, Hoosier summers are total bummers.  After two and ¼ summers in the land of the happy Hoosiers, I have drawn the conclusion that Indiana just can't do summer.  Sure, they might blame the Polar Vortex this year but personally, I blame the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers’ obvious summer impairment is its utter lack of water.  No sea.  No ocean.  No lakes.  Ok, they do have partial custody of that tiny corner of Lake Michigan but that totally doesn’t count because it’s so small.  When you’ve spent a few summers on the beaches of the Aegean Sea and down the Jersey Shore going landlocked is rough.  I can’t totally blame geography on the Hoosiers, but they do take an odd pride in it.

Then there is all the car racing.  Maybe that’s a plus if you like a world bursting with testosterone filled cars
driving in circles, but not this broad.

But the biggest issue is the weather- it sucks.  It sucks and it’s schizophrenic.  It might be hot in the morning and snowing by dinner.  Or the sun is shining and three seconds later the tornado sirens are blowing.  And don’t even think about checking the forecast, they are chronically inaccurate verging on daily dead wrong.

We moved here during mid-August two years ago and it was so hot you could not even step outside without sweat pooling in your butt crack.  Our lawn was a permanent shade of brown and don’t even get me going on the humidity. Last summer was a blur as I was a pregnant whale up until the end of July so even if it was 32 and snowing I would have considered it sweltering.  After I popped out the Nugget, it went immediately from sweltering to sweater weather then back to buttcrack-sweat-hot again every other day until mid-September.  But this summer has been the worst.  We’ve had about 5 good pool days and none of them within the same week.  Our average temperature has been around 79 all summer long and today, mid freakin’ August, I am wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt as I watch the thermometer struggle through the 60’s?  What the hell is that?

Why complain about perfectly acceptable weather you ask?  Because with fair weather comes high expectations and as far as I’m concerned, summer is supposed to be a time of very, very low expectations.  Like sitting on one’s ass and sipping cool beverages under the guise of avoiding heat stroke for three glorious months.  For those of us who need an excuse to be lazy without guilt, the Earth gave us summer.  

“Mom, can we go to the playground?” – “No dear.  It’s too hot.  You’ll burn your ass on the slide and we will die of heat stroke.”

“Mom, will you kick the soccer ball around with me?”  - “No dear.  It’s too hot.  We will die of heat stroke.  Best if we just have another ice pop and check in on Sponge Bob for a few more hours.”

“Mom, can we go for a picnic?” –“Afraid not dear.  The grass is so dry they closed the parks.  The grass has heat stroke.”

“Honey, are we having watermelon for dinner again?”  -“Yes Darling.  It was just too hot to fire up the oven.  We might all get heat stroke.”

Trip to the amusement park? – Nope.  Heat stroke looms.

Walk through the neighborhood?  Mid-afternoon hike? Exercise out doors?  No, no and no.  Those activities must wait until long after the heat of summer is gone.

Unless of course you live in Indiana and the heat of summer didn’t even bother to show up.  Thanks to the Hoosier Vortex, instead of sitting on my sweating ass, sipping a beverage and avoiding all active parenting, I have spent my entire summer hiking with a Nugget tied to me, jogging countless miles behind a Midget on a bike and cooking full, hot meals every damn night.  In short, busting my ass without a single day of heat induced laziness.  Not cool Mother Nature.  Not cool.

So sure, it’s been calm and gorgeous.  I’ve saved hundreds on my air conditioning bills.  And yes, it’s been nice to spend a summer without my thighs chafing and without sweating through a couple pair of Hanes Her Ways in a day.  But I’m an old mom with young kids and I was really banking on a break from all the trips to the playground and all the fun and festive outdoor adventures.  Not this year.  Not in Indiana.  Perhaps it’s all global warming coming to bite us in the ass.  Perhaps it’s the beginnings of the next Ice Age.  Or perhaps it really is connected to the Polar Vortex or her ugly cousin El Nino.  I’m not a meteorologist so I can’t say, but even if I were, I’d still blame the Hoosiers.  Somehow, I know my bummer summer is all their fault.  Damn Hoosiers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Might Just Suck At Parenting...

When you have a kid that doesn’t sleep, you start to draw the conclusion that it’s your fault and thus, you
suck at parenthood.  I’ve been in this mode of suckage for about eleven months, three weeks and six days.  You see, the Nugget does not sleep.  Ever.  He’s almost a year old and I can count on one exhausted hand how many times he’s made it even halfway through the night.  It’s not really a shock because the Midget never slept either. Naps do occasionally happen but a schedule?  Ah hells no.  Most nights are so horrific I can’t even discuss it without beginning to tremble like Coco from Fame circa ‘80. 

Suffice it to say, I’m tired.  And cranky.  So very, very cranky.  But aside from giving him a little booze in his bottle, what can you do?  And as my luck would have it, Nugget is a boob man and wouldn’t dream of taking a bottle.

This crappy-ass sleep pattern that somehow pops up in my offspring is one of the reasons there is a five year span between these brothers.  See, being a geriatric mother as I am, I was not willing to risk doing another three to five with no sleep. When I got knocked up with the Nugget everyone reassured me that “the second child always knows their place,” and “the second child always just goes with the flow, it will be much better this time.”  Well that was a load of crap. 

Thanks to my little insomniac, I’ve got lots of time in the wee hours of the night to ponder my parenting
inadequacies and to Google.  Bad combo.  I’m a Nancy Drew by nature.  I need answers.  I need explanations and I am prepared to Google until I know exactly why these children born to two parents who are big fans of bedtime, despise it so. Help me Google, you are my only hope.

Aside from their shared genetics, the only other shared factor are their parents -The Turk and me. They didn’t share the same crib, the same home or even the same country of origin.  There is nothing about the first year in the life of my little Turks that is similar except their parents. With this information, the wizards on Google's massive list of mainstream parenting blogs and websites have drawn the conclusion that we are to blame.  We suck at parenting.  Damn.

If I am to believe all that I’ve read- and of course I do because everyone knows that there is only absolute truth on the interweb- every child sleeps in his own bed all night long from the age of 2 months onward and if they don’t, you suck at parenting.  If you allow your children to sleep in your bed, they will die and you suck at parenting.  Additionally, every other child responds positively to all methods of sleep training  and if you don’t train them, you suck at parenting. 

I also learned that I suck at parenting because I refer to my children as Turdnuggets and Buttheads and because I don’t buy a lot of organic crap. (Though I will admit that I’ve recently started buying some organic crap because I’ve been watching too much Dr. Oz.) 

I suck at parenting because I don’t always say no to Dunkin’ Donuts and in times of extreme stress and trauma – like after a trip to the dentist- I medicate with McDonalds.

I suck because I expose them to the news and far worse than that, Honey Boo Boo.

Mostly, I suck at parenting because my children never sleep and when they do it’s rarely in their own beds.

But there are things that the parenting experts on the interweb don’t cover and those more important things are the ones at which I totally rock and I feel some points should be given for that.

For instance, by the age of 3, the Midget was fluent in class A profanity in two languages– though just the PG 13 words like ass and damn – even I have the good sense to reserve the big ones for adolescence.

Thanks to my stellar parenting, my offspring have the good sense to laugh at fart jokes and point out the fact that peaches often look like butts.

My parenting has taught the Nugget, at only 11 month, to flash a spot on “Whach you talkin’ ‘bout Willis” face and to flash his dimples and grin when his ass is on the line.  

Recently, I’ve also seen great signs of appropriate use of obscene gestures while stuck in traffic coming from the Midget.

Thanks to my parenting skills, my son knows to take off his shoes before stepping on the doctor’s scales in order to spare himself an extra pound.

And nothing warms my heart more than when my oldest corrects his own grammar, and often that of the Turk.  That’s all me world.  All me. 

But yesterday it all came to a head.  Just when I was getting down about this whole sleep thing and beginning to think I’d really blown this parenting gig, my 6 year old came running up to me with two pendulous avocados in a container and said- “look mom, boobs” – I beamed with pride as I laughed myself to the verge of wetting myself.  That moment of comedic brilliance alone was proof that I don’t suck at parenting after all.    

So perhaps my kids don’t sleep.  Ever.  Perhaps they are clingy and scared of their own beds.  Big whoop.  
They are freaking funny and in the grand scheme of the world, being a funny guy gets you a lot farther than being a good sleeper.  Who ever made enough money to care for their elderly mother sleeping?  No one, that's who.

Suck on that interweb parenting experts!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Song of the Fat Runner

I started running about 18 years ago.  It was a shock not only to society, but to myself as well.  Up until that point the only type of run in which I was known to partake involved a liquor store.  But somewhere around the end of grad school I took up real running.  Not because I wanted to become athletic, nor because I wanted to get the upper-hand on that heart disease gene, no, I started running because I was fat.  Really fat. And after a little number crunching it became clear that the best way to shed some pounds quick was to hit the pavement and if there’s anything a good old red blooded American chub wants, it's a quick fix.  It worked. I lost a ton.  Ok, not a whole 'ton' but it felt like a 'ton'.  But more than that, I learned to love running.  I loved it so much I kept on running just like Forest Gump.

There are a lot of reasons to love running.  Personally, the big ones for me were to burn lots of calories so I wouldn’t feel guilty about that extra glass of merlot, a firmer butt and that unspoken sense of superiority that comes with running. 

Back then I had very strict rules for my running.

1.  I run alone.  Don’t suggest that we go running together because it’s not going to happen.  That is my time to clear my head and let my wind just totally wander. This rule was hard and fast for one real reason - I was fat when I started and have been varying degrees of chubby for the past 18 years. Ain’t no way I was ever going to share the sound of my wheezing and thighs slapping together with anyone.

2.  I don’t do races.  To be honest, 5Ks and Color Runs weren’t so cool back then but even if they were, refer to the wheezing and thigh situations mentioned above and it’s clear why I chose to never participate.

3. I can stop and walk whenever I want, guilt free and still call it running.  My sport, my rules.

But that was all before The Midget, The Nugget and the Turk. I’ve had to take a few breaks from running in recent years.  First when living in Turkey.  My father-in-law told me that no self-respecting Turkish girl would be seen running just for sport, and thus I should not run in public either.  “Women do not make sport like that here Margaret.  That is for Americans.  You will get robbed.  You will be killed.  No running here.”  He had a flare for the dramatic, but as a stranger in a strange land, I gave the angry little sultan what he wanted and I walked instead.  Upon repatriation I took up running again but those years off made it rough. And by rough, I mean the wheezing and thigh slapping reached new decibels.

I stopped again exactly one year and ten months ago when I got knocked up with The Nugget.  I know, I know, there are those women who tell you to keep on running up to delivery but to that I say – screw off.  That little gift of getting knocked up was a nine month excuse to rest free of guilt and though I may have become Sporty Spice 18 years ago, I still got fat girl roots.  And thus I simply said, "pass the ice cream and the Netflix."

My 9 month hiatus lasted a little longer than I’d hoped after my twelve year old orthopedist decided the only way to get this old gal running again was a surgery usually reserved for those who make a career in Nikes and nylon shorts rather than chubby moms in clogs and baby slings.  But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Now after knee surgery in November, I’m finally back up to running in June.  Kind of.

18 years ago after the big shed, I ran daily.  I cranked up the Metallica and hit the pavement for 40 minutes of me-time. It's not nearly that easy anymore.

First, get the Midget on his bike, adjust his training wheels, make sure his helmet is actually on his giant head. Next, get the Nugget in the jog stroller, ply him with snacks and things to chew on.  Make sure everyone is momentarily happy and twenty minutes later, we hit the pavement.  Two steps in, stop to argue about whether it is better to go left out of the driveway or right.   Two minutes after that, stop to fix a bike seat. Too high.  Three steps later...nope, too low.  Three minutes after that the Nugget needs a snack refill and we’re off again.  Thirty seconds later, stop to pick up a sippy cup that has been thrown out of the stroller. Off we go...wait, was that a teething ring that just flew by?  And we're off again, until we see a maimed butterfly. And on and on for the next forty-five minutes.

Years ago I rocked some sweet spandex , brand new running shoes and stylish t-shirts.

Now I rock a giant knee brace, running shoes with grass-stains from the last time I mowed the lawn and anything that will cover giant jiggling nursing boobs and ass cellulite.

Years ago I would feel the burn in my lungs and the cramps in my legs, but the desire for a tighter butt and Beyonce-like thighs would energize me to push on.

Now my Beyonce-like thighs would be covered in spider veins so who needs them?  But when I feel the burn in my lungs and the cramp in my legs and am ready to stop,  a giggling baby in the stroller wanting to keep chasing the maniac on a Lightening McQueen bike pushes me on.

Years ago I had different playlists for different days of the week to drive me through.

Now I keep pace to my own heavy breathing and the flapping of my miscellaneous body parts.

In short, it ain’t pretty but I’m out there.  Such is the song of the chubby runner. No matter how things have changed, I’m still out there and I’m out there because I love it.  I’ve never been a good runner.  I’ve never been a pretty runner and even when I was at my peak form I was still a fat runner but I was running.  And as that t-shirt says, “I may be slow, but I’m still ahead of you.”

Damn strait.  I may be huffing and puffing and limping when I’m done, but after all these years,  this fat girl is still at it and that's miles ahead of anybody sitting on the sofa.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Neck Waddles and Why Forever 21 Can Suck It

Nora Ephron said it first, “I feel bad about my neck.”  A few years ago I had inkling as to what she meant but in the past week, I full on feel what ya Nora.  After we hit the big 4-0, we spend a good hunk of the time just rolling along, feeling like a teenager with a better brain trapped in a body that is beginning to sag, yet other times the world decides to make it painfully clear just how damn old we have become.   I’ve had one of those, “Damn girl, you gettin’ old” kind of weeks. 

It started with a selfie.  I’m not a fan and prefer to leave those to the Kardashians and other self-absorbed individuals.  Occasionally though, one really does need
to show the world just what an awesome thing is going on in your life.  Often you find yourself without a photographer nearby, or in my case, my companion has yet to develop the ability to stand upright so therefore he’s not much of a photographer.  My only choice to record the moment seemed to be via selfie.  So I bit the bullet and snapped a self-portrait.  Ok I totally snapped like 50, but when I took a gander at my work, there, glaring at me in every single photo was a neck like the underside of a Thanksgiving turkey.  I have a full-on waddle.  My, “Hey Girl,  you are 42 and you have yoyo dieted a bit too often so gravity is bringin' on the neck sag” waddle.  I tried angle after angle but alas, that waddle was impossible to hide.  I now totally understand why selfies are taken from above but unfortunately, I lacked the coordination for that.  It became immediately clear that I will need to milk this whole scarf trend for the next 10 – 15 years.  I also vowed to never selfie again without a scarf or a child hiding my waddle.  Suck it waddle.

And that was Monday.  On Tuesday I finally went in to get my glasses readjusted after the all the glory of my pregnancy-induced perfect eyesight was finally gone.  I knew I needed an adjustment because I suddenly couldn't see a damn thing and had begun reading at arms length.  I’ve worn glasses since the 7th grade.  I don’t need them 24/7 so I’m cool with it.  What I wasn’t cool with was the fact that the eye doctor was 12.  Maybe he was 13, but I’m pretty sure he was 12.  When he then told me I needed bifocals, I called him a young whippersnapper, beat him over the head with my pocketbook, grabbed my walker and made for the door before he could call security.   “Don’t feel bad Ma’am (Seriously?  Ma’am?  Watch it Bucko.)  Most people need a little help with reading close up in their mid 40’s.  You’re just a little early.”  Suck it Junior.

By the time Wednesday rolled around I nearly kissed the girl at Trader Joe’s who tried to refuse to sell me
beer because I’d misplaced my ID.  (Misplacing incredibly important things happens both with age and with a baby so I’m not sure which to blame it on but I’ll feel younger blaming it on the baby so there we go.)  Clearly the baby tied to me in my hippy baby-sling did nothing to paint me as a responsible adult.  I offered up a waggle of my waddle but she claimed that sagging body parts were not acceptable forms of identification at that establishment.  Not wanting to seem too Betty Ford in my need to purchase the booze, I finally gave up when she smirked, “Oh who am I kidding?  You’re obviously well over 21.  I’ll just push it through this time, but you really should find your ID.”  “Well over 21?“ Suck it Missy.

When Thursday yielded a trip to the mall in search of some costume items for a show I’m currently designing (for those two or three of you who are not devoted readers, I’m a costume designer by trade – don’t get excited.  It’s so not as fab as it sounds, especially in Indiana.) Anyhoo, it didn’t even occur to me that it would be so dangerous, nearly deadly, for a woman of my advance age to enter Forever 21.  I could go on and on about the terror I felt as I went through row upon row of crop tops and booty shorts, but I can’t recount it without medication so I ask you to use your imagination.  Suffice it to say that by the time I got to the rear of the store, I’m certain that I heard a rack of sequined micro minis whisper, “Gurl, this is Forever 21 – and you ain’t been 21 in Forever!  Get yo 42 year old ass outta here.” Suck it micro minis – may a fat girl buy you and stretch you beyond capacity.

I’ve been in my 40’s now for two years but this is the first time I’ve really felt old.  I guess because I spent most of 40 and 41 pregnant and with a new baby.  That combo makes you feel miserable no matter if you are 19 or 40.  Now that our new reality is settling in, I guess it’s time to face up to it.  I’m old.

People always say parenting tiny kids is for the young.  But truth be told, 90% of the time I don’t really feel old.  God knows I have the maturity of a 12 year old boy and in 30 years, that seems to have remained steady.  Sometimes I do think I have more aches and pains.  My back has pretty much been in a constant state of ache since I got knocked up, but I do have a child attached to me 24/7 and unlike the first time I did this, this baby is fat.  Really fat.  So maybe it’s that and not age.  When I hang with other moms over the age of 30, I don’t feel old.  I feel like we’re all pretty much rowing down the same crap-creek and doing the best we can.  I just have a waddle and theirs are only beginning to bloom.  One thing I do know for certain is that I wouldn’t trade my ‘advanced maternal age’ for anything.  I knew young me and I know me now and without a doubt, this me is the only one I would want in charge of rearing children. 

So it seems the only thing to do is exactly what so many women have done before me:  put on a scarf, read bedtime stories through my bifocals and keep enjoying every moment of it because in 20 years, I’ll look back at these baby photos and wonder at how young I look.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When Leprechaun Meets Turk, Turk Will Win

Dear Parents,
There is a leprechaun loose in our classroom and we need to catch him!  Please spend the next two weeks building a trap to catch the leprechaun with your student.  Remember to use problem solving skills and logic.  Make sure the traps are returned to school by Friday March 14th.  We’ll set the traps in all of the kindergarten classrooms over the weekend and hopefully catch him by St. Patrick’s Day.  

Seriously?   This is the kind of assignment that makes a parent cringe and maybe drop a few bits of low-
grade profanity.  But maybe that’s just in our house.  You want me to spend two weeks on a project with my 5 year old?  And what is this “logic” of which you speak?  I’m supposed to depend on 5 year old logic to build a trap for a small imaginary person which you have now convinced him is real?   Damn these newbie  teachers without enough experience to know this is dumb and without enough bitterness to make them too lazy to assign such a project to a bunch of 5 year old and their parents. 

Having long worked in education, I guarantee that of those projects that were returned to  school last Friday– at least a handful of kids had no projects as two weeks gives a parent more than enough time to totally space the project off and completely forget about it.  Those returned could be divided into three distinct categories: those done entirely by control freak parents without the patience to enlist the assistance of their child, those done completely by unsupervised kindergarteners and those, like ours, that began with the best intentions but quickly whirled out of control.

Though I am pretty darn Irish, and having spent the past 42 years receiving shamrock themed birthday wishes the day before St. Paddy’s Day, I’d never heard about trapping a leprechaun.  But I was willing to go with it.  The Midget and I did some brainstorming and we figured the best thing to do was start with a well decorated box and then turn it over to the Turk, who is an engineer, to handle the mechanics of trapping.  True to all stereotypes, the Mom-led decorating was complete on day one and the Baba-led mechanics wasn’t completed until twenty minutes before bedtime the night before it was due.

Though we’d discussed it extensively at the dinner table in the days leading up, this was all lost on the Turk when it was made clear that final evening that he had no idea what a leprechaun was.  While the Irish love to vacation in Turkey and a few of us fools even love to marry Turks, it seemed leprechauns never made their way to Turkey.  After a little Googling, when the Turk was clear on his target, he went to work while the Midget assisted him by standing on his head, releasing intermittent bursts of methane and occasionally whining.

Though assistance was offered, Rambo-Turk refused, preferring to take the lone wolf approach.  Cardboard flew, tape torn and rope was woven as the Turk ran in and out of the garage.  At one point he was out on the driveway smashing a brick to get the perfect size and sharpness of brick.  Through it all, the Midget remained in his farting headstand.  Finally, as he wiped sweat from his brow, the Turk declared, “It is done.  You see, he go in, trips the string, rock falls on his head, this sharp part cuts his neck.  He is dead.  We got him.” 
Horror washed over the faces of both the Midget and me.   “Baba, you can’t kill him.” 

“But you say trap.”

“Yes, Honey.  Trap the leprechaun.  Then they can let him go out in the woods.”

“Ha!  Like stupid No-Kill mouse trap?  No.  What is the point of that?”

“But Baba….” I quickly sent the Midget off to the bath tub to save him from a night of dead-leprechaun themed nightmares and turned my attention to the Turk.

“What is wrong with you?  This is a kindergarten project.  You can’t kill the pretend character.”

“Why not?  I wanted to build so when he go in, knives come in sides and ….whoosh…off his head.”

As I looked at the excitement in the eyes of my dear husband, the man I love, the father of my children, all I could respond was, “You are a freak.”

“No.  I am Turk.  In Turkey if you catch and set free, it come back to kill you.  That why you kill it first.”
And having lived there and recounting the great wild boar hunt of '07, I understood.  Completely.  To my Turk, being charged with catching a small mythological Irishman was no different than when he and his friend were charged with saving their parent's summer homes from a pack of wild boars some crazy woman had spent the winter feeding and now were threatening to eat the children. (True story.  I can't make this crap up.)  We'd asked him for a trap and a trap is exactly what we'd received.

Touche’ my Turk

The next morning we did instruct the Midget that when he explained his trap to the class, it was best to just point out that the rock would not kill the leprechaun, but rather only  knock him out and close the door.  Then they were free to whisk the little amnesiac  out into the woods and set him free.  The Midget, knowing his classmates well, agreed that this was the best approach too.  These little Hoosier kids are just not ready for Turkish life lessons yet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gypsies, Tramps, Cher and The Ukrainians

I’m a newsie.  A junkie really.  Occasionally I try to get the news monkey off my back by going cold turkey, but inevitably I come crawlin’ back.  NPR is my drug of choice.  I wake up to it.  It’s on in the car. It provides solid background to my day and until the batteries died, I even listened in the shower.  I love to listen to the rebroadcast of BBC news.  Back when we were in Turkey, the BBC trumped NPR as my drug of choice.  1. Because it was some of the only English I heard all day and 2. European CNN sucked.   
Today, I flipped on NPR just in time to catch the end of a BBC broadcast as I was doing diaper duty and the story I heard utterly blew my mind. 

The Ukrainian Army is fiercely trying to protect its borders in Crimea against a rapidly intensifying Russian Army presence.  Ok, nothing new there.  This has been going on for days.  The shocker?  They are using Cher.  You read that right.  Her Half-Breed singing, Sonny Bono marrying, daughter turned son lovin’ Royal
Highness Cher.

I know, right?

I know what you’re thinking – hey, I thought she was Lebanese not Ukrainian.   True.  She is.  Country of origins seems to have nothing to do with this.  Like me, you are probably right now getting a visual of an aged Cher in that black leotard with only her naughty bits covered and a feather Mohawk leading a tank into battle while flipping her jet black hair over each shoulder one at a time with manicured fingers.  No?  Ok, maybe that’s just me.  But Cher herself  is not actually the one waging the battle.  Too bad, because she’s a bad ass and I’m pretty sure that within five minutes of unleashing the wrath of the half-breed upon those Russian forces, this nonsense would be done and Cher would be riding one of them home. No, according to the BBC, the Ukrainian forces are blasting Cher’s Greatest Hits at top volume to keep their enemies at bay and drive them into retreat

Seriously?  Cher?  What Metallica was busy?

As a devoted Cher fan and long-time friend of the world’s homosexual population, there are a couple things here with which I can’t help but take issue. 

First off.  How dare you Ukraine.  I understand that things are a little dicey right now and that you are grasping at straws but to use the songs of Our Lady of Spandex in such a manner is sickening.  That music was made for love, not war.  I can guarantee that when the goddess Cher laid down tracks like I Got You Babe and If I Could Turn Back Time, she did not have war in her heart.  Not even when she exposed her soul in Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves was she thinking of war.  Half-Breed may have been a different story but still, I doubt she ever saw it coming to this.

Second, Did anyone bother to check with Ms. Cher to see how she felt about this?  Whenever Cher is played, an attitude of fabulousness must be worn.   I know this for fact.  Long before I was a chubby mom in the land of Hoosiers, I worked in professional theatre-costumes- out East.  I think it goes without saying that where there are costumes, there are gay men and where there are gay men there is Cher so therefore, I was trained by THE best.  My BFF Johnny and I spent countless nights in grad school strutting his hallway to the musical stylings of classic Cher practicing our attitudes of fabulousness so that when we were finally called up to the big leagues, we would be ready.  And you know, one night years later on a roof deck on Fire Island, no one was more fabulous.  We were Cher (I was totally better but that’s neither here no there.) So the real question is, are these Ukrainian soldiers prepared for fabulousness?  Do they even have any spandex in their duffle bags?  Who taught them the hair flip?  Troubling indeed.

Apparently this type of tactic is common to war.  I wouldn’t know, I worked for the Quakers for a million years and they are all about…peace.  I know, you thought I was going to say oats there didn’t you.  I guess over the years many armies have used whatever music they had at hand to torment their nemesis.  The US reportedly is fond of using ACDC and Metallica, both obvious choices.  The use of Cher is a bit unprecedented.  Then again, is it?  Blasting the beloved tunes of a gay icon into a militant antigay country?  Well played  Ukraine, well played.  Just be aware that if you unleash the power of Cher, you better be ready for it.

The Warrior

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Do Not Need Pets. We Have Children.

We have children. We do not need pets.  This has long been my stance on pet ownership.  I’m not a fan.  I had a turtle once.  He died.  I had a dog in grad school.  He ate his own poop and ultimately had to go live somewhere else.  That’s pretty much my history on house pets and I am totally good with that history.  However, my family did not feel the same.  Last year, my dear hubby, The Turk, decided that it was time for us to get a dog.  Being pregnant and surlier than usual at the time, I suggested we try fish first instead to test our readiness for a larger, more demanding pet like a dog.   Being the omniscient being that all mothers are, I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that the members of my family were capable of taking care of a four legged friend.  

The Turk is the kind of man who becomes easily obsessed with an idea.  As he was about to get his American citizenship he was obsessed with the idea of an All-American life which included his sons frolicking through the yard with a K-9 companion and himself sitting on the sofa watching basketball sharing a salty
snack with his new furry bestie.  He’d determined that the best fit for our family was a bulldog and I will
admit that a snarly, hostile breed with an alpha male disposition would fit right in here, but I also know the Turk well enough to know that the minute drool hit the carpet, things would get ugly.  The Turk is just that – a Turk.  They are a breed of people obsessed with cleanliness and trying to keep up with their standards drove me into the open arms of my dear Martha Stewart.  Anyone that has ever lived with an indoor pet knows that germaphobes and pets do not live well together.  Thus, I suggested a long-term trial with the fish.

We started our adventure with the unexpected deaths of Luke Skywalker Fish and his comrade Han Solo Fish.  It was tragic.  A week later we lost an entire school of Storm Trooper guppies due to improper water treatment as performed by my husband – the water treatment engineer.  We made it a few more months before the untimely death of Darth Vader Fish.  He was injured while swimming through the window of Sponge Bob’s house and his wounds would not heal.  And then there were three, a sucker fish with no desire to be seen by humans-ever-, a lone surviving Storm Trooper and JarJar Binks Fish – the fish that simply would not die.

This odd threesome thrived through the birth of the Mini Turk when Mom forgot to feed them –repeatedly-  a busy start to kindergarten when we tried to introduce the concept of being responsible for feeding your own pets to a 5 year old, and a winter of subzero temperatures living a little too close to the window.  The rougher things got, the stronger they seemed to grow.  The problem with fish is that they don’t complain.  They don’t bark to let you know they’re hungry or scratch to let you know their home needs cleaned.  So the longer we had these three survivors, the more often we forgot to clean the tank and the grosser things got.

We determined a few weeks ago that maybe we were not the best family for these fish and it was time to find them a new home.  In the midst of making relocation arrangements, I went in to feed JarJar and the boys one morning only to discover that most of the water in their tank was missing.  One step closer and I found all of that stanky fish water - it was now permeating the floor, bookcase and all nearby toy receptacles in the Midget’s room.  Somehow, Sponge Bob’s lair inhabited by JarJar and his crew had sprung a leak and these three fish were seconds away from becoming free range.

I was able to get the boys temporary housing in a trick-or-treat bucket but I can only imagine the kind of PTSD that those fish experienced going from a life in a pineapple under the sea, into a plastic bucket with remnants of Butterfinger.  But it was better there than the alternative –swept under the rug – literally.

The Turk determined the best thing to do was take them back to the pet store so they could be adopted out to a family more responsible than ours.  If that meant that I no longer had to deal with the smell of fishtank combined with stinky 5 year old boy and dirty diapers, wafting from the end of the hall, I was all in.

Tragically, the surviving Storm Trooper did not make it out of the Halloween bucket alive.  He was looking weak when I rescued him and his demise was not a surprise.  We gave him a fitting burial at sea in the guest bathroom and continued on.    The Turk bundled the remaining two aquatic members of our family in a plastic bag and headed out.  Being the former army commando he is, he planned a covert drop of the bag in the unattended fish department of a nearby Walmart.  “No one pays attention to fish at Walmart.  I leave them in sink.  I run away.  They just think ‘hey, that guy change his mind.’  Problem solved.”  

Not a bad plan, except that as he strolled through Walmart with a plastic bag of fish in water sitting in the child seat of his cart, he was dismayed to learn he was at one of the few Walmarts without a fish section.  When the checkout girl asked what he was doing, my quick-thinking Turk replied.  “Ah, these my pets. They love to shop.  We like take them to shopping every weekend,” before strolling away stonefaced.  That, my friends, is Turkish commando training at work.

He next tried to make the drop at a nearby Petco.  He decided it was best to go legit on this one and waited as Petco’s resident fish nerd waited on another family.  After waiting for 10 minutes to do nothing more than attempt to convince a pimple-faced Petco worked to take back his son’s fish, the Turk gave up.  He slipped the bag into the sink and ran out the door.  As he recounted the story to me he was visibly concerned. 

“There is one problem.”
                “Honey, we got rid of the fish and they are not dead.  What’s the problem?”
“The Petco camera got me.”
                “Got you what?”
“Giving fish.”
“Do you think they can call police?”
“Because I give fish?  I looked weird.”
                “Not as weird as the guy at Walmart who takes his fish shopping.  Besides, I don’t think they can persecute you for giving things back.  Stealing yes.  Giving no.”
“Good.  I worry.”

And so ends the saga of my family’s pet ownership.  Fortunately, the need for a dog has been quelled for now.  Between the drool strung about by the teething Tiny Turk and the angst put upon us by the recent fish debacle, we are in no shape for pets.  Hence, my NO DAMN PETS stance rules for now.  But I’m sure, my victory is momentary.  However, should we need a pet fix, I hear there is a man at Walmart who takes his fish shopping every Saturday…

Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Open Letter To Polar Vortex

Dear Ms. Vortex,

From widespread reports this morning, it seems you may be making a departure from what Al Roker likes to
call, my  "neck of the woods.”  I realize that if this departure is like your last, you may be back.  I get it.  You pulled out, headed home for the Arctic and suddenly – “Damn I forgot my conditioner in the shower”- and it was the expensive kind you have to buy in salons so I understand your return visit.  Done the same thing myself a time or two.  But don’t be offended if I say, I sure as hell hope you double-check the shower stall before leaving this time.  Forgive me for sounding harsh, but I think I speak for most all inhabitants of the middle states as I say, you’ve overstayed your welcome and it’s time for you to go-  or for those in more folksy regions – don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. 

That being said, Ms. Vortex, upon great reflection – and since we’ve been locked in basically for most of January I’ve had ample time to reflect – I must admit, your descent upon us was not all bad.  Let me point out a few highlights.

-         - Thanks to your arrival and frigid temps, it became necessary to put that whole New Year’s Diet thing on hold as I obviously needed all the extra body fat I could pack on for survival.  One pound down and I could risk hypothermia just getting the mail. 

-          -On a related note – I had no choice but to spend the last frigid weeks testing out all those things I’ve been Pining on Pinterest for the past year under the guise of baking to keep the house warm and fatten up my Turks for survival.  Apple Fritter Pull-a-part Bread?  Yes please – but only if it will keep my family warm.
           - For those of us with small people, there was no pressure to run out and play in the snow as such an activity would cause immediate frostbite relating in missing digits and who wants to be the parent who sends the note explaining the missing finger?  Nobody.
-     -Shivering counts as cardio. 
-            -I achieved great success sticking to my new 2014 budget plan simply because it was too damn cold to go shopping.
-        -  “Are you on Netflix again?” Yes, yes I am.  It’s  -20.  What the hell else is one to do all weekend?
      -Time for Baby Book Circle- where a crusty librarian saturated in gardenia perfume prods a group of drooling little ones towards literary greatness?  Sorry, too cold to go.

-          -An extra glass of wine?  Why of course.  Wine makes you warm.

-          -No one dared to toss a judgmental look at my overstuffed yoga pants.  They assumed I must have been rockin’ some long underwear even though I was just rockin’ some Apple Fritter Pull-a-part Bread.

-          -No child begging to go out for a walk/bike ride/run- anything!
-    -Sensible shoes with no apologies.
      -Universally accepted hat head.
       -Yet another 2 hour school delay?  That’s ok.  With three hours to prepare, we might finally be ready on time.
      -And finally, for this one brief month it has been totally socially acceptable to revel in all my latent antisocial tendencies one hundred percent guilt free and for that I thank you.

So Ms. Vortex, though we have all used your name in vain and surrounded in profanity in recent weeks, your visits have not been all bad.  If for nothing else, I got to spend one gloriously cold month snuggling with my rapidly growing little nugget before he starts crawling off on a path of destruction and as fast as that is coming, I won’t hold any of this against you.  Just don't come back again too soon.



Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Snow People- Why Does Everyone Need So Damn Many Eggs?

Dear America,

We need to talk.  I know you might not all be to blame directly due to the barrage of constant mass media
assaults and I am more than willing to point the finger and blame the media, but still, we are free thinkers in an independent nation so that begs the question –America, WTF?   It’s a snowstorm – not the Storm of the Century or Snowpocolypse or any of the other charming titles thrown up on screen in the days prior to any snowstorm promising to deliver more than two inches of the white fluff.  So why is it the moment a snowflake appears in the forecast everyone has an immediate need for eggs?

For quite some time I thought the immediate need to rush out and stock one’s home with milk, bread and eggs prior to the first flake was a distinctly East Coast thing.  But no.  In the past two days I was nearly trampled by groups of hungry Hoosiers desperate for a loaf of pre-snow Wonder bread and a 12-pack of eggs.   Come on Indiana, you are Midwesterners – you should be accustomed to snow.  WTF? 

While East Coasters have a bad reputation for being cut throat pre-snow, during my 14 years in the hostile City of Brotherly Love, never did I experience what I did with the happy Hoosiers these past couple days.  

Friday afternoon – a full two days before the projected first flake, I stopped at Meijer – a fab cross between Target and Walmart with a European flare – to pick up a couple prescriptions, diapers and a bribe payoff.  I should preface this with the note that prior to the stop, I had spent over two hours at doctor appointments for the Tiny Turk with the Midget in tow.  I was a bit off my game.  But I needed the prescription and I’d promised the Midget a Matchbox car for being agreeable – (Judge all you want, I bribe.  It works.  What of it?).  

Within seconds of making our way to the entrance I knew we were in a bad, bad place.  Having dodged geriatric drivers on icy asphalt from the far ends of the parking lot, somewhere near Ohio, while carrying a 75th weight percentile baby in an obscenely heavy baby carrier accompanied by a chirping 5 year old, my eyes were on the prize – a cart.  Alas – there were none.  The elderly greeter was useless.  “Well we seem to be fresh out of carts.  Would you like a shopping basket?”  Sure.  I can use it as a counter weight on the other arm.  Damn Hoosiers.

The shoppers departing were equally useless.  Not one offered the crazy lady with the fat baby and hyper kid their cart but instead looked at me as if they’d each stolen the last piece of cake and clutched their cart handles tighter.  Word had it there were some carts near the other entrance.  With 40 pounds hanging from my elbow and the chorus of “Mom where we going?  Slow down Mom?  What’s happening?  Why so fast?  Where’s the cart?” playing on a constant loop, we played a slow moving game of Frogger all the way to the other end.   We were steps away from a fresh row of carts.  If only I could get around the old lady in the camel coat who had left a trail of farts for the last 50 feet.  We were so close.  But within seconds – the mid-afternoon geriatric snow shoppers snapped the entire line of carts from my grasp.  One left…there is one left and as I lifted the baby into it- Fart Lady whipped it out from under me.  I was stunned.  I’d been hijacked by a granny on a high fiber diet in dire need of eggs.  Unreal.

I did the only thing one could.  “Screw this  boys.  We’re going home.”  Ok, it’s never that easy but after Sherpaing it back to the Matchbox cars – because if you don’t make good on a bribe they lose their power- we gave up and vowed to get up early and try the next day.

The next day was no better.  Though the sun was shining and the temperature was 25 degrees, we were now down to 24 hours before the projected entrance of the apocalypse.  Stop number one went well – we secured the diapers and were on our way in no time.  We got hung up in a bank line which set us back on our targeted arrival time at the food store.  Again we ran into the cart difficulty but we were prepared and having left the baby at home with his father, the Midget and I were able to ninja us a cart from an unsuspecting victim with relative ease.  We left some unassuming storm pregrocery shopping newbie cluelessly searching for a cart he believed had meandered into traffic when we looked away.  This crowd was easier to work with as it was made up of the worker bees of the world on their day off rather than those surly old ladies we’d encountered the day prior.  However once inside, things were ugly.  9:30 am and various shelves were empty – notably milk, eggs and white bread – even in a snow storm the average Hoosier doesn’t seem to want a nice pumpernickel.  The lines were all at least 8 people deep and, much to my surprise, few carts were filled with necessities like booze and toilet paper, while all seemed to have at least a dozen eggs.

The real question at the end of this is, why?  Why do we panic in this manner?  We are not on the tundra and within a day or two at best, things will be passable again.  Yes, I understand a snow day is a good day to pig
out in one's flannel jammies and watch trash television all day.  I get that one might need a gallon of moo-juice and of course bread is about as important as toilet paper to most but why the eggs?

I suspect that this is somehow related to the phenomenon that drives people to take photos of their lawn furniture covered in snow, as it is equally as strange.  Do you people even eat eggs?  I thought eggs were out after the South Beach diet lost favor.  What about snowstorm high cholesterol? What will happen if you need to go for two days without an egg?  Are you all just baking batch after batch chocolately-chippy goodness and there fore the need for eggs is strong?  Or is there something I just don't know?  Is the Egg Council holding out on me?  Why people?  Why does everyone need eggs?   Is there a special power held within the incredible edible egg that enables one to plow their drive without breaking into that horrible back sweat that runs down into your underwear and gives you a butt chill?  If that is the case then hell yes, get me some eggs!  But until then, I will keep my fridge stocked with eggs until the weather warms and avoid pre-storm shopping at any cost.

2013 - Those I Lost

Each year in an attempt to further demonstrate that the world does in fact revolve around me, I like to pay tribute to the way my life was affected by those famed individuals who passed on during the course of the year.  While there are those whose influence should go without saying – such as Nelson Mandela, there are also those whom I feel have left ginorumus marks on my world.  Let me give you a brief run down.

Let’s start with Psychic Sylvia Brown.  First off, didn’t you see this coming?  I mean you are a psychic, but alas, we will miss you.  Kids, long ago, back in the dark ages before we could go to Astrology.com to find out what the future held, we were forced to telephone a knowledgeable psychic who seemed to only operate under the cover of darkness and who often advertised during Friday Night Videos.  However, Sylvia you must have done something right because years later Montel Williams took you on as resident psychic.  *Disclaimer- I shall never admit if I did or did not dial her, let it be noted that I was saddened by her departure.

And then there were those who helped to raise me via boob-tube:

Bonnie Franklin- Ann Romano, together we took it one day at a time.  My parents hated your show but oh how jealous I was of your daughters and the festive single mother upbringing you offered them.  Most importantly, your bell bottoms were amazing.   

Conrad Bain – aka Mr. Drummond.  What you talkin’ about Mr. Drummond.  

Jean Cooper – Oh Mrs. Chancellor, you were my first soap opera Grand Dame.  Young and the Restless was something my mother and I shared in my years before kindergarten and you were such an integral part of our lunchtimes. 

And Marcia Wallace – My fellow native Iowan, you made me dream of being a sassy receptionist with
flaming red hair and a razor sharp wit.  And while I did do a brief stint as a receptionist for a group of shrinks, alas, I looked heinous as a redhead and never did a runty Bob Newhart-esque man of medicine offer me a job. 

Jean Stapleton – Edith, you and Archie formed the mold for my in-laws and thanks to my years of following your escapades with that blockhead husband of yours, I came to understand my own mother-in-law.  And much like your extended kindness in the face of Archie’s hostility to your son-in-law Meathead, my mother-in-law did the same for me.  If only the rest of America had ever really known how your talents went far beyond All In The Family.

Pat Summerall – We spent many a football season together and when my brothers wouldn’t allow me onto the field, I grabbed my tin-foil and construction paper microphone and became your female alter ego.  Ah the 70’s were good to us both.

Annette Funicello – Before I used your movies to entertain angry mobs of middle schoolers as a teacher, encouraging them to shake it on a beach blanket like you, you taught me the beauty of Skippy peanut butter.  You may have a cannon of work 20 miles long, but you will always be the peanut-butter lady to me.

Lou Reed – I didn’t find you until grad school but once I did, you never left my collection.

George Jones and Slim Whitman – you were major players in the soundtrack of my childhood and while the new version of country music causes me to vomit into my mouth, I will always love the old school.

Seamus Heaney.  I’m not a fan of poetry but you swayed me to your side.  Years ago in graduate school I came across your work and once I realized your name was not pronounced Sea- mus, I dreamed of naming my son after you.  Sorry I lost out to the Turks on that one though.

James Gandolfini- You played to my love of the bald man.  The chubbier you got and the more hair that you lost, the more I thought you the sexiest man in Jersey.  You were one fine piece of ass. 
For years, Sunday nights in Philly were centered on a nice Chianti, a little linguine  and you.

Mehmet Ali Birand – You were one of the most level headed and legitimate newsmen I witnessed on Turkish network television during my years there.  Your crisp manner of speaking and ‘matter-of-fact’reporting made you one of the few television personalities I could acutally understand. 

I could go on and on but these were the big ones.  Each of you added a little something to my and you will all be missed.  Especially you Tony...