My roof is under stress (being replaced as we speak). My life is under stress. My marriage is under stress. I keep asking myself why I have entered a phase of my relationship with John in which the "fun factor" has disappeared. Conversations about remodel details, the baby's sleep habits, construction budgets, Shelby's summer sign ups, blah, blah, blah, our mundane life, same S%$! different day. We need a shake up, a wake up, some way to refocus ourselves so life is on the outskirts and we are back in the center of our circle, balanced, channeling our inner spirit, maintaining our chi, whatever!
I'm considering shadowing his every move for 24 hours, in his space, at his work, reading the sports page while he reads the sports page, eating out of his same cereal bowl. I don't think I'll even warn him. He'll just wake up one morning and !WHAM! Insta-Body-Double. I'm intrigued by the idea of this intermingling of personal space to reconnect. I think it might spur some insight. I also think it might really piss him off. Imagine, me on his lap while he interviews some college kid for an internship. No explanation necessary.
I got this wacky idea from the following article-watch the video, it's pretty funny, too.
"A Short Leash. Did you hear about that Buddhist couple who're never more than 15 feet apart? Well, we tried it." By David Plotz and Hanna Rosin


Second Place Revelations

"Of course she'll be ready for kindergarten next year, honey," my mother beamed over the phone, "She's bright, she's outgoing, she's your first child. She's the oldest." She's the oldest. I have often used this same phrase myself. I've analyzed myself, my friends, my enemies, and my husband to justify actions based on their rank in the sibling line. An inside understanding, if you will, I have shared with my husband, who's the oldest, and his friends (who are the oldest) and their spouses (who are the oldest). It's been a common fact in my world that I completely understand "The Oldest Child". They are confident. They are bossy. They are egotistical and outgoing. I should know, I AM ONE. A common fact, an advantage, as I saw it, until I had Ana. And now, suddenly I am the mother of "The Youngest Child". The youngest child has all sorts of stigmas! The youngest is spoiled. The youngest child has much looser parenting, less constraints, more freedom. The youngest is quiet and reserved because their older sibling has always done the talking for them. The youngest is less willing to move out on their own. Oh, and don't even get me started on "The Middle Child"!
Ana has recently become a contributing member of our family. No longer a pod who sleeps and eats and takes up one square foot of space in our house. She requires cooking, cleaning, bathing, attention, jeez, the list goes on and on! But suddenly, I've realized she has developed a strong personality in the short 10 months of her existence. She loves attention, and squeals when she doesn't get her way, she vocalizes everything as loud as possible and dives for anything within reach. She is not only "The Youngest Child", but was also recently realized to be "The Active Child". This means that taking her to the antique store is a liability. That library books are completely off limits. And dinner outings have screeched to a halt, now that Ana's around. Between the grabbing and the screaming we can hardly contain her at home, much less in public.
This evening I realized that all these stigmas and expectations are frustrating. Prior knowledge, for once, is a true disadvantage because I don't want to apply it to my unique and wonderful little girl ("The Youngest Child"). What can I do to assure her the same confidence and intellect as my first child? How do I apply myself as a parent to her in the same way I did with Shelby? (Okay, maybe I know the answer to SOME of these questions-blogging time, ahem-but I can't figure out how to fit them into my already hectic schedule). So, how do I spend four hours a day to stare into her big eyes like I did with Shelby? When do I take her to the aquarium and gymnastics and read her 7 books in one sitting and perform puppet shows?
Quite honestly, I DO have the time to apply myself as the enthusiastic, interested and doting mother I once was. I could be super mom (if I wasn't super housewife, super secretary, sorta super general contractor, super accountant, and super chef all in one day). I just have to make "The SecondChild" come first.


The Village People

I'm trapped in the twilight zone with a thumb sucking teenager and hammering on my head-literally. And those things pale in comparison ...I took Shelby to dance class yesterday only to find that my day had been turned upside down and Earth forgot to send me the memo. We arrived at the dance studio on time (for once!) to be informed that we were on "Performance Schedule" and class didn't begin for another hour. Glad I decided to bring the dog along for a "quick outing" in the hot car. Shelby was happy to make do with a tutu and some hula hoops to pass the time. Other parents began to arrive and I recognized one mom from preschool. Look, she is coming my way! (like something out of a jr. high social) "Hi! she nearly foamed at the mouth, "Aren't you excited for tonight?" The blank look on my face must have prompted her to continue, "You know, the preschool graduation ceremony tonight?" OH SHIT! Wait a second.... preschool doesn't finish until next week and the potluck ice cream social is next Wednesday...Isn't it? (oh, God let us please have one more week of preschool!!!!!!!). Okay, I think I'm gonna bet on the other mom. Odds are pretty good my dates are wrong (big surprise.) and now I need two cans of whipped cream STAT and make an emergency call to John: Go Directly Home after work, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (the mother of your children has blown it...again). I'm two for two! This is when I noticed the 15 year old sitting in the corner of the room sucking his thumb, and then tiny unicorns did the river dance around my head. We arrived at the "graduation" a mere ten minutes late, freshly purchased whip cream in hand. After the teachers introduced 18 "graduating preschoolers" one at a time with a 5 minute description spent on each child's individual personality traits and learning behaviors, I stepped into the hall to change Ana's diaper. John appeared and whispered through clenched teeth, "Do the teachers know Shelby's here? Are they going to say anything about her?" I knew he was getting at the inevitable two hour meltdown over her lack of flower, certificate, and personal introduction like everyone else. He continued, "Where's Riley? Where are the other kids?" It occurred to me that all the children on the rug were 5 years old and moving on to Kindergarten next year. Shelby's only 3 and none of the younger kids were anywhere to be seen. I AM A TOTAL MORON. All I can say is that at least the evening finished with icecream and copious amounts of additional artificial colored sugar or we would have never heard the end of it from our exhausted (unmentioned and ungraduated) toddler. I'm pretty sure I assured John that night that at least I had "ONE thing under control", as the General Contractor on our current roofing job, I was feeling pretty sure of my capabilities of insuring our budget (also using the distraction as some sort of excuse for all the other balls I had dropped). The gollowing morning I dragged myself out of bed at 7 a.m. to the sound of elephants on my roof, an air compressor, and a concert performance by the nail gun !POW! to blaring hoedown music !POW!. I can't believe that the completely reasonable price of a new roof comes with all these wonderful perks! First the roofing manager knocked, then there was a "Phew, ya know, there's a lot more work on this roof than we thought." and then a, "Yeap, it's gonna get pretty darned pricey, ma'm.(whistling through his teeth)" MAYDAY, MAYDAY, (baby crying, toddler tantruming) this General Contractor job has spiraled out of control, where's the spiked coffee? WE'RE GOIN' DOWN!!! When the plumber arrived an hour later to deliver more bad news about a leaky shower I stepped out onto my front porch half dressed and screamed, "Is money seeping out of every orifice of my body??????" And then, the roofer, the plumber, and a passing police officer suddenly linked arms and broke into a country version of Y-M-C-A, high kicking across the roof of my house.


Bad Karma

I subjected my toddler to act as witness to torturous, animal cruelty today. Let me explain: I noticed a few spiders in the eaves of our back patio a few weeks ago. When my neighbor pointed them out and suggested I give them the "chick treatment" I was intrigued (and slightly embarrassed-she brazenly pointed out how unkempt my patio was while simultaneously introducing a technique with which I was not familiar). Chick Treatment? Yeah, she continued, in a tone that said You Idiot, without actually saying, You Idiot. You just spray spiders with Aqua Net until they're so stiff they can't move...then they starve to death. Take a minute for yourself to process this....at least I did. Whew (close eyes, shake head), that sounds terrible. But, the very next day I found myself at the hardware store with a spray bottle of spider killer in my cart and a mental debate developing in my head. (This seems cruel. I studied Biology in college, I understand those stupid leggy things have a purpose. They bite my children, they deserve to die! Spiders are so intriguing, and talented. And TOTALLY creepy, yuk! KILL 'EM ALL!) I bought the spray and proceeded to let it sit by the back door for a week. And today, for some reason, frustration, lack of sleep, whatever it was, I picked up that spray can in one hand, clutched Shelby's little hand in the other and proclaimed, "MOMMA'S GONNA GET THOSE SPIDERS!!!!!" (And maybe I actually roared, for a second) Then I sprayed the bastards and all their little baby bastards, too. And suddenly the scene went from Ramboette vs. Nature to something horribly gruesome. Spiders appeared from everywhere, curling and twisting their spindly bodies in pain, then they twitched and turned and let out their webs until there were 29 tortured spider bodies hanging from my eaves, twisting painfully in the wind. I swear I heard tiny screeching noises as the twitching slowed. I have a bad feeling about tomorrow. Pretty sure spider genocide is not covered by my Good Karma Insurance.


Gym Flub

I realized I forgot my towel this morning at the gym just as soon as I submerged myself in the pool. $55 a month and they want to squeeze me for a dollar to borrow a hand towel! I refuse to pay. The looks I got when I dripped into the locker room and grabbed my gym socks to dab myself were priceless. What??? I got 3 hours of sleep last night. At least I remembered my swimsuit.


MTV Crib

I'm Back! And yes, I've traveled to infinity and beyond, fallen from the face of the earth, and clawed my way back from the depths of insanity. Dare I digress? The abridged version goes something like this: What do you get when you put two brothers and their opinionated wives (one of which: yours truly) in one ginormous tasting room and ask for a complete makeover in less than 3 days? Answer: Heated banter, followed by disagreements, followed by a round of designer's challenge gone caddy, a few rounds of beer, more banter, persuasion, frustration, mind numbing drunkenness and finally, results. All the excitement occurred in Paso Robles where we worked, drank, bantered, and successfully ignored our children so as to accomplish the daunting task at hand (thanks to 8 hour care from Mimi). The family and I crashed at an old barn up the road from the scene of the crimes. A place I once lived just after college, where life was simple, exciting, and Saturdays were meant for hangovers and lazy breakfast dates. It seems like yesterday when my place was the upstairs loft above a garage full of tractors and other farm machinery. Now "my place" is a crisp clean master suite and the tractors gave way to wood plank floors with a full kitchen and living room. We rather enjoyed our taste of country living. Shelby "the exhibitionist" was most comfortable. We walked through the vineyards, chased a lizard out of the kitchen, ate our dinners under the stars and observed the bizarre behavior of country folk in their natural habitat (quads, cowboy hats, and giant trashcans on wheels, get the picture?). But my adventurous hiatus did not end there. I returned home to greet our babysitter and venture off to Hearst Castle with John as my copilot. WARNING: Unabashed bragging to follow. Do not read if you are prone to jealousy! First off, we rolled through the gates in our own car and drove to Hearst's Crib like absolute rock stars. When we arrived to the event, an hour early (because John lies about event times so he can hedge his bets against female disasters like the infamous clothing crisis), we slipped around the gardens unnoticed by security guards busied with preparations. Next thing I know, John and I step out onto W.R.'s Outdoor Pool (Neptune?) overlooking the entire coastline. Just me, John, and a few nude Italian marble statues, chillin' by the pool. Wha'd UP?! And yes, skinnydipping DID cross our minds.

We spent the next hour walking in and out of outdoor patios and balconies, peeking in windows, sitting under gigantic gold leaf water fountains, and pretty much owning the place with no one else in sight! It was unreal. The rest of the evening paled in comparison, although it did include dinner at Robin's and a midnight police chase (we did the chasing, by the way, but I'll save that one for another post).
I've missed the blog world and am happy to be back. Glad we're all caught up! I promise to regularly share my embarrassing moments, offensive opinions and idiocy on a much more regular basis from today onward.