Thursday, October 30, 2014

i'm the smart one

My sister and I went on an overnight date this weekend. Naturally, we posted some goofy "us-ies" on Instagram. This morning a friend from work mentioned our "sister date" and said "Your sister is really pretty. Way prettier than you." I was like, "Thanks, I know. Dick." And we are no longer friends ;)

Anyway, the reason I'm so... and forgive me, this term is just THE WORST, but I feel like it works here: "butt-hurt," is that it rings true. I mean, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blah blah blah. But. By most any measure, my sister is prettier than me - always has been. She is a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, and while I don't think anyone would call me un-attractive, my looks are apparently better suited for a skinny gay man, if my handsome little brother is any indication. I've had a complex about it ever since I was old enough to care about this kind of thing. I was always glad we had totally different coloring and honestly don't even look related because then at least it's not as direct a comparison. Apples and oranges. I could tell myself that gentlemen prefer blondes, and tall, dark, handsome and mysterious men prefer brunettes. We could each be someone's cup of tea. But still. It's always niggled at the back of my brain.

It wasn't just something I kept to myself, either. I became self-deprecating about my looks from a young age. I always threw the first punch so that no one else could. Probably no one even cared. Probably this is just more of me being completely self-absorbed and neurotic. But that's what I did. I joked about my flat chest, my bad hair, my bad skin, in stark relief to my sister's buxom, Nordic beauty. It was such a thing that someone - I don't even remember who - I can't imagine it was my mother, self-help wasn't her thing. Maybe a teacher? Anyway, someone gave me this book when I was in 8th grade - Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. And probably the book was about a lot of things, but the only thing I remember is where the author says it's actually better, from a self-esteem perspective, to be "not completely unfortunate looking," as opposed to drop-dead gorgeous, because then your sense of self is more than skin deep. I basically pinned my entire existence on that notion. My sister was The Pretty One. The Sweet One. I was The Smart One. The Sporty One. The Funny One. (Which isn't fair to her, either. She's also very smart and pretty darn funny, too. Sporty? Eh, maybe not. Love ya, sis' ;))

And the thing is, people (our parents, teachers, etc.) played into this division of assets, for better or for worse. Perhaps we showed certain proclivities from the get-go. But it became this feedback loop that cemented us into these roles.

As I got older, though, two things happened. One, I just started to care less. I realized that not being "the pretty one" didn't stop me from getting what I wanted. People liked me anyway, and more importantly, I liked myself. Maybe Mary Pipher, PhD (author of Reviving Ophelia) was right. Maybe being just "meh" allowed me to develop a strong sense of self separate from my physical beauty (or lack thereof). And if you've read this blog for a while then you probably know, by the end of high school, I certainly wasn't lacking in self-esteem. I knew I was never going to be the prettiest girl in the room, but I also knew that I brought a lot to the table. And that worked for me.

Two, I won't say I got prettier, but, I learned to tame my looks into a manner that I found sufficiently pleasing. Yes, that means I became a slave to creams and cosmetics and Hot Tools. And again, I'm no stunner. But I'm pretty enough. And that'll do.

But. This issue obviously lay dormant because some offhand comment from my asshat friend instantly reduced me to my insecure, 14-year-old self again. And that just got me thinking about "labels." I've read these articles that say stuff like, "Oh don't tell little girls they're pretty," or "Don't tell your kids they're smart" or "Don't say 'Good Job!'" because you're going to give them some sort of complex and I'm thinking, "Come the f*ck on, people! Do you realize what a bunch of candy-ass hang-wringers we've become?!" But then, sometimes, I sort of get it. Like right now.

I don't even remember the context of the conversation, but I remember once my mom told me I had a nice singing voice. My little sister said, "What about me?" And my mom was like, "Yeah, not so much." We laughed about it at the time but it gave my sister a serious complex. To this day, she will not sing in front of anyone else because she is so paranoid that she has this terrible voice that is going to burst someone's eardrum. And that is just so sad. I think about that now, as my adorable daughter LOVES to sing. And I LOVE to hear it. It just kills me. It makes my heart swell. It is music to my ears, no matter how... ahem... unmelodious it may be. I would never ever want to do anything to dampen her sweet, singing spirit. (Unlike my little brother. I have no problem telling him to pipe down. As a big sister, I feel it is my duty and my honor to give him shit.)

And perhaps more substantively, positing my sister and I in these seemingly diametric roles sort of snowballs. Not that anyone ever used this exact terminology. It wasn't, "She's the pretty one," it was, "Well you're no beauty queen," or "You'll grow into your looks," or "Pretty girls are boring. You don't want to be like them anyway." And my personal favorite, "Your sister is hawt. You guys look nothing alike." [?!] For my sister, it was "Why can't you get good grades like your big sister?" "You don't apply yourself," and "School isn't your strong suit." If one of us was crowned the queen of beauty or brains, it meant the other one had to fight to unseat her from the throne. And sometimes it just seems easier to play the part you're given.

The thing is, we sort of internalized these roles even though they weren't necessarily a perfect fit. I showed this post to my sister and she was like, "I thought you were the pretty one AND the smart one! I was just the 'nice' one." (She is the nice one. That is for sure.) Then she pointed out that even though our collective perception (her own included) was that she sorta sucked at school - looking back, her grades were really quite good. I mean, she was no Academic Decathlete like yours truly, but hey, there's only so much room up here at the top of the nerd chain ;) Sadly, all the negative reinforcement made her hate school, and left a chip on her shoulder. Similarly, I'm actually not terrible to look at. But because that wasn't my part to play, I didn't (and to an extent, still don't) feel like I can really "own" my beauty.

I'm not saying my parents did anything wrong. I often think we are better off for our parents not having spent so much time talking about feelings, giving trophies for participation and the like. And anyway, I find myself guilty of the same things despite endless and exhausting touchy-feely self-examination. For example, as I've discussed here at length, Jack is always our "sensitive boy" and Colby is our little "scrapper." DM and I are cognizant of the risk that these labels entail (this article discusses fundamental attribution error and confirmation bias in the context of parental labeling - pretty interesting) - but we both do it anyway. Just like me making fun of my flat chest, beating everyone else to the punch, we'll warn so-and-so about our "sensitive," "emotional," "dramatic," "scrappy," and/or "certifiably insane" child before s/he even has a chance to demonstrate this behavior (or not demonstrate it). And, if that is what people are looking for, that's what they're going to see. In turn, what they (and we) see helps inform how the kids are going to act. Chicken? Egg? Who knows.

Food for thought: If a toddler acts bat-shit crazy in the forest, does he make a sound?

Okay I don't even know how to wrap this one up. Just imagine me getting reluctantly escorted off stage by a large hooked cane.

The end.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

amish frolic

I would seriously suck at being a spy or part of the witness protection program. I can't even keep it together with my not-so-secret blog identity. I try to come up with fake names for everyone but then I forget what I fake-named them and I get really confused, and sometimes I accidentally use the wrong initials on my blog, thereby revealing the wizard behind the curtain, and/or call my kids their cheese names in real life, which is just sad.

Anyway, in my halfhearted attempt to stay semi-anonymous, I often look to types of cheese for alias inspiration. And that is how I discovered my new favorite website: Some women spend hours online looking at shoes or purses or nail designs or moto jackets or hypothetical home improvements or imaginary well-dressed children. No. Not me. I can spend hours looking at an alphabetical list of cheeses. There's one called "Abondance," which I love because I feel like life with cheese in it is abundant, except pronounced all fancy-like because it's French. "Ameribella?" That just sounds like it came straight from ole' Bessie down on the farm. And let's not forget "Amish Frolic" - how could you resist?! It's like Rumspringa for your mouth?!

I am a little sad that this is how we represent ourselves as a country:

"American Cheese"

Look. I have nothing against plastic-sheathed fake-orange cheese. There's a time and a place for all of God's delicious dairy creations. But really? This is the best we could do? This is what we choose as the paragon of cheese products in the U. S. of A.? I guess it does personify America pretty darn well.

Then there's "Aura, a diet-conscious delight." Do I hear angels singing? And that's just the "A's"! "Bermuda Triangle?" Disappear me into a bottomless black hole of cheese? Yes please! "Breakfast Cheese?" Absolutely! It's never too early for cheese! "Cahill's Whiskey Cheese" from Limerick, Ireland? Sold! Celtic Promise? Sounds like some sort of celibacy vow but I'll take it. And of course, my fave, Colby-Jack!

Okay. I'll stop now. But I really don't want to.

Friday, October 24, 2014

broken bikes & black eyes

"I don't feel nearly as bad about running over our son's bike with my car after you kicked our daughter in the eye."

I think that about sums up our family camping trip last week.

It was good fun, actually. I mean. You know. Considering the fact we had 7 kids 4-and-under in tow.

not a terrible view
We camped right on the beach and we were with our favorite friends and all the minis loved each other and played and played and flew kites and spent hours in the sun and sand and sea. Happy campers, literally.

little people, big kite.

One of my best friends Claire and I were pregnant with our first babies at the same time, lived a mile apart, and spent a lot of time together the first year of the kids' lives. The kiddos, Jack and Millie, were sweet little baby-BFFs. They later moved away, but we still manage to get the pipsqueaks together a couple times a year. One of DM's cousins has a PhD in child-something-or-other. She seems very wise. Recently she was talking about how children "imprint" on each other at a very young age, so even if they don't see each other often, they have these innate memories of one another.

And i feel like that must be true of these two because they get along like gangbusters when they see each other. Then there's Colby chasing after them like, "Hey guythz, wait up! Can i play too?" Poor nugget. Sadly, Jack was relegated to Millie's second fiddle when my friend DP's daughter "Button" joined the kid crew. Sorry, son. Best familiarize yourself with this feeling now. Let's revisit the issue in about ten years and talk about a little tactic called "playing hard to get" vs. "sobbing inconsolably because she doesn't want to sit next to you."

Anyway, within the parameters of family vacations, it was pretty perfect.

a beautiful mess
Though we did spend a night at the motel 6 in Lompoc, CA, which I hope was a once in a lifetime experience. *Shudder.* Colby did barf on the winding drive there. Apparently she shares her mother's propensity for motion sickness. I did expose my latent heteronormativity by asking Claire to pick up a coloring book with "boy stuff" for Jack (i.e., super heroes and ninjas versus the puppies and princesses we had on hand). DM did run over and destroy Jack's bike with the car. And I did kick Colby in the eye. (She was roasting a marshmallow and leaned too far forward in her cheapo camp chair and tipped toward the fire pit. She was out of arm's reach so I threw up my foot to stop her from falling into the flames... aaaaand, kicked her in the "eyebowl." She had a shiner and everything ;-/)

There were ruthless seagulls and fearless bees to contend with. And a bunch of brazen raccoons ransacked our camp the first night. They got into the coolers and broke/ate/tossed four dozen eggs all over the place so, not only did we not have anything for breakfast, we essentially got egged by rodents of unusual size. They destroyed a box of graham crackers, too, so at one point Claire resorted to making s'mores with tortilla chips. Coming soon to a Pinterest board near you ;) She tried to liken it to salted caramel but I wasn't buying it. And of course it wouldn't be a real family vacation without a sick kid. Colby was a total snot faucet the whole time, poor bug. I'm not sure a kleenex was used once. "Roughing it." Oh! And I got so much grief for my headlamp! You people don't know what you're missing!

BETTER than sliced bread. y'all are crazy. it is an incomparable tool for eating pizza in the dark, and other essential activities.
In spite of all that, though, the kids were on cloud nine. I remember one of the first times we took Jack camping, and after one day he was like, "Can we go home now?" But this time they both decided they want to live in a tent forEVAH! It was so cute. And though I've never been an advocate of the family bed, it is sorta fun to wake up all together in this cozy little cocoon. (I actually wish I'd taken a pic of our crooked cocoon. It was a sad, lopsided little thing, listing dangerously to the left, probably from the gale force winds that nearly blew us off the cliff into the ocean last time we went camping.) We even had themed dinners! And of course there's nothing like drinking beers around the fire with friends (once the kids are asleep and the threat of toasted children is no longer imminent). It can't be beat.

Oh YEAH. Also the part where we taught the littles how to play beer pong. RELAX. They didn't drink the beer or anything. They were just our ping pong proxies. I swear I read about it in Parenting Magazine or something. Teaches valuable skills like teamwork and hand-eye coordination. Anyway. Jack was a natural. Pretty sure we created a monster the second he sunk that first ball. His eyes fairly gleamed in triumph. We didn't think much of it at the time, but the next day we got onto the topic of "things you can do when you're 16," like drive a car (because DM also let him "drive" the car down to the camp store - permagrin!) DP asked, "what else are you going to do when you're 16?" and J says, "DRINK BEER!" Aaaaaand, we just created an alcoholic. Wonderful. Can't wait to hear how this gets translated to his teachers. Up until now we had duped the kids into calling anything alcoholic "gwown up dwink." I felt much safer cloaked in that gauzy ambiguity. Oh well!

Anyway, the point is, (mostly) good times were had by all. But. Holy shit, man. The amount of crap we brought? Unreal. I don't even know how we fit it in our car. My parents, who could hike for ten days with nothing but what they could carry on their backs, would be appalled. Seriously. I felt like I was preparing for The End of Days. And of course, we wouldn't want to venture to the end of days without our iPads. (Again, the shame! My mom and stepdad are rolling over in their graves. Even a year ago we SWORE this was something we'd never-ever do: camping and i-anything. But really by now we should know better than to say "I never.")

provisions for a normal human to survive for 4 months,
or my family to camp for 4 days 
precious cargo! it feels like we're forgetting something though.. 
And then there was the great glow stick fiasco of 2014. One night we handed out glow sticks for the kids. Jack and Colby both got green ones, and we fashioned them into necklaces with twine. But THEN. Jack noticed that Button had a PURPLE glow stick, with a soft black lanyard. OH, the injustice. THE HORROR. Well. Button's dad, JP, overheard the ruckus and assumed that it was Colby, not Jack, who was squealing like a stuck pig over a purple glow stick. So he managed to wangle a coveted purple stick out of thin air, and gave it to Colby. Oh dear lord. You can probably imagine where things went from there. Or maybe you can't, because your children are not psycho-beastie-babies. ANYWAY. Jack starts LOSING HIS EVER LOVING MIND because Colby got a purple glow stick and he didn't. Then he tries to snatch it from her, which of course sets Colby off. Talk about end of days. World War Z erupts and I promptly fireman-carried both children to bed. Colby finally decided to be the bigger person and trade her purple for his green, but naturally, that was TOTALLY insufficient, because jack wanted a purple glow stick with a BLACK necklace, not a scwatchy, twine necklace. "Everything is terrible. What is the point of going on??? HOW CAN I BE EXPECTED TO LIVE LIKE THIS?!?" (< I'm paraphrasing.)

Poor JP felt bad for exacerbating the histrionics but I assured him he could not possibly have anticipated the depths of my children's despair over WHAT COLOR GLOW STICK they received. I mean, come the f*ck on. After I finally got the crazies to sleep I was commiserating with my friends over the fire. Are we just raising complete and total terrors? I think the answer is pretty clearly yes. But everyone made me feel a tiny bit better, reminding me that they're just kids. (Though I feel like this is the same argument people use with extremely large puppies - oh, they're little, it's fine, and then suddenly you have a 300 pound dog leaving Everest-sized piles of poop on your bed and using your head as a tiny pillow.) Claire said "Your kids are kind, which is the most important thing, right?" ("Kind" with the caveat that they occasionally torture their parents, each other, and unsuspecting State Park patrons.) Or maybe that's just what delusional, overindulgent parents of spoiled little bratwursts tell themselves. But then JW reiterated my favorite parenting mantra: compared to the vast spectrum of shitty parents, we are most likely at the high end, e.g., only very slightly shitty. And then I felt pretty okay.

good thing they're so cute.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

morbid curiosity

in case you didn't hear, we got a puppy this weekend. on October 17, actually, the 16th anniversary of my parents' death. as I texted one of my friends, "best anniversary of my dead parents EVAR!" she replied, "not a sentence I ever expected to hear. and that's part of why I love you." seriously, though. this face. the 'rents wouldn't have been able to say no, either.

so, the pup has been dubbed Feta. she is adorable. i love her. also, much like my second-born child, my second-born fur baby is WAY easier than my first-born. phew. fingers crossed she stays that way.

the kids love her too even though they're a little scared of her because she's already twice the size blue was. and they do miss their best old blue. last night jack and i had this conversation -

Jack: I love Feta. But I miss Blue.
Me: I know. Me too, buddy.
Jack: I wish I could have two dogs that aren't dead.
Me: I think one dog [that isn't dead] is enough.
Jack: Well, someday, when Feta is older, can we get another dog that isn't dead?
Me: Probably not.
Jack: Why not?
Me: Because two kids and one dog sounds like a full house to me.
Jack: Why does my cousin Finn have two dogs?
Me: I guess Aunt Chelsea and Uncle Rocko have more time and patience than I do.
Jack: Why doesn't Finn have a sister?
Me: You'll have to ask Aunt Chelsea.
Jack: So either two kids and one dog, or one kid and two dogs?
Me: Well, not necessarily, it just depends on what works for each family.
Jack: If I didn't have a sister, could I have another dog that's not dead?
Me: Proooobably not. Plus, you would be so sad if you didn't have a sister! She is going to be your best bud forever and ever.
Jack: Dat's dubious!
[At this point I am cracking up because not only has he picked up my phrasing (much to DM's chagrin), he is reenacting a conversation I had with my mom when I was his age! This kid is a riot.]
Jack: [Literally the next sentence.] Am I gonna die?
Me: Um, eventually?
Jack: I don't want to die.
Me: Well don't worry, it won't be for a very, very long time.
Jack: Like how long?
Me: Well, you never know for sure, but probably when you're like, 99, or 103.
Jack: What do you look like when you're dead?
Me: I'm not sure.
Jack: Why aren't you sure?
Me: It's not something I like to spend a lot of time thinking about.
Jack: Can you look up a picture of a dead person on your phone?
Me: Um, no.
Jack: Do you know anyone who lived to be a souzand-hundwed yeaws owd?
Me: Nope.
Jack: Well I do. He's some wandom guy. He's invisible and he lives on Jupiter except on da weekends.

Seriously. Killing me.

Also, please tell me my kid is not the only freakishly morbid little focker out there. Like, wanting to talk about death and dead people, and describing various manners of death in disturbing detail. E.g., "Cowby, you bettah sit down on yo' buns o' you wiow fawl ovah on yo' head and cwack yo' skowl open." Or, "HaHA, Daddy! I killed you dead! You have no head! And all the bwood leaked out yo' bains [veins?] all ovah da flow!" And my personal favorite, "Cowby, you can nevah evah open da door when da car is moving o' ewse you might fawl out da car and get runned ovah and flattened out like a pancake and yo bwains wiow come out yo' eyebawlz." I have NO IDEA where he gets this shit. I mean, I do tend to be a bit alarmist about safety concerns but I swear to you, I have never said anything about brain matter and orbital cavities. Nor did he pick this up from Umi Zumi or Bubble Guppies or even the Lego Movie.

Oh, and what about inventing a complete alternate reality? (See above re: Jack's acquaintance with "Wandom Souzand-Hundwed Year-Owd Martian Who Weekends on Planet Erf.") The kid makes shit up ALL the time. He can tell some whoppers! Is this normal??? I mean. He's really very sweet. And I definitely hear all sorts of second-hand tall tales from his preschool buddies. So I'm just going to pretend you have a PhD in child psychology and you say, yes, he is totally fine, and not at all a sociopath-in-training. Thanks! Good talk!

ha! pretty sure this applies for all the ages.
photo credit: DP

Friday, October 10, 2014

all growed up

I will consider myself to be a fully fledged adult when:

I floss.

I can properly ration hot sauce for the duration of a burrito.

I can patiently wait until the pizza is not as hot as hades before I take a bite.

I can patiently wait for anything.

I can make the proper amount of spaghetti for a family of four, rather than a family of forty-four.

I can eyeball the amount of leftovers and choose the correct size storage container.

I know how long to microwave leftovers, without nuking the shit out of them.

I can use superglue without adhering my fingers to inanimate objects or each other. 

I can hear/speak the words Seaman, balls, and Count Duuku with a straight face. 

I can finish projects more than 13 seconds before they are due.

I have a working knowledge of how to fight laundry stains and fold fitted sheets.

I can do a load of laundry, start-to-finish, without anything ending up irrevocably wrinkly, smelling of mildew, having to be washed or dried more than once, and/or sitting folded in a leaning tower of Pisa for 3 weeks.

I can cook without measuring every 1/4 teaspoon or consulting the recipe 97 times.
I don't eat Skippy, Nutella or marshmallow fluff standing over the sink with a spoon. 

I don't hide candy from my children/husband... So that I can eat it myself.

I can buy a dessert that contains multiple servings without consuming it all in one sitting "so that I won't be tempted to eat it tomorrow." 

I don't say "Holy shit, I'm a mom," at least once a day.

I can keep up with regular maintenance of my car, my teeth, and my vagina.

I stop breaking out like a teenager.

I can accurately track my menstrual cycle and/or reliably have tampons when I need them.

I don't dig clothes out of the laundry hamper to wear to work.

I can unpack immediately following a trip instead of leaving a suitcase full of dirty clothes on my bedroom floor until the next time I have to travel.

I am not caught off guard every. single. time. the gas gauge is on E. like, "what the...?! again?!"

I can keep the fridge and pantry well-stocked, which means never running out of milk and having to serve dry cereal for breakfast.

I can actually prepare and serve the fresh food items I purchase, rather than letting 73% of them rot into foul and unrecognizable substances at the bottom of the vegetable bin.

I can provide home-cooked meals for my family every night without wanting to hang myself with al dente linguine.

And when I don't feel like cooking and we eat out, I can calculate the tip without using a calculator or making my brain hurt.

DM and I can wake up before the kids to make lunches, tidy the house, and do other grown up things, rather than using our kids as alarm clocks.

I can comfortably plan for my kids' college funds and my husband's and my retirement, as opposed to being proud of ourselves for paying off the credit card each month.

I can shop at real grown up stores instead of everything in my life being delivered in brown cardboard boxes by the UPS guy.

I can get in an elevator with my boss without getting the insta-sweats and saying something RE-diculous.

I can engage in "small talk" without looking like I am mentally challenged:
Me: How's it going?
Them: Good, and you?
Me: Friday.

I don't have to hold my pants shut with hair ties.

I stop shopping in the "juniors" section.

I wear something other than flip flops to work.

I get to sit at the "grown ups" table at holidays.

I come to grips with the fact that I am at least a decade older than the hot new Hollywood heartthrobs, and I am no longer the target audience for those angsty coming-of-age films.

I stop freaking out when doctors, lawyers, teachers, etcetera are younger than me.

I can be honest with the stylist when I hate my haircut, rather than pretending I love it and then crying in the car.

I know how to do cute things with my daughter's hair. Me: "So, sweet pea, do you want barrettes? Or do you want barrettes?"

I make fun of DM for losing his wallet and car keys all the damn time, but I literally lose my CAR in the parking garage almost daily so I really shouldn't judge. Those seem like things grown ups should be able to keep track of.

.... In other words ... I'm never gonna grow up!


How about you? What abilities/talents/basic survival skills do you hope to master when you grow up? ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

that time a preschooler put me in my place

this weekend was probably not my best showing as a mother and a human being.

first of all, i have to let you in on a shameful secret. please don't tell anyone.... but... i have sworn off sugar, alcohol, and white things (bread, rice, my smug sense of entitlement, etc). of course i'm not doing this for fun. or to lose weight. because LOTS of things taste as good as skinny feels. i'm doing it because i have been having a host of health problems for some time and western medicine has failed to provide a remedy and i'm getting desperate. so i turned to eastern/holistic/"natural" medicine. also it's only for a short period of time. i'd rather wear Depends at mealtime than spend the rest of my life without bread. we'll see how it goes. so far i just feel hangry and shittier than usual so i'm not super hopeful about the outcome.

(also, i definitely drank a flask of whiskey and basically ate a baguette dipped in cheese fondue halfway through the diet. so, there's that.)

it's kind of crazy though, how quickly you can recalibrate your expectations re: food and happiness. for example, there's this restaurant here called tender greens. it's tre popular, but i usually refer to it as "terrible greens" because they don't really have a lot going on for vegetarians who don't like vegetables. people always try to make me go but i would basically have to be roofied before i would go there on my own recognizance. and if i am there, expect to see me eating a salad bowl filled with mashed potatoes (the only yummy thing on their menu). their desserts are the WORST. they look SO DELICIOUS, but it's like eating a picture of a delicious dessert. someone should really tell them to put the gluten back into their cookies. anyway, they have this "happy vegan" salad that everyone raves about. i hate it. did you ever see "how to lose a guy in 10 days?" that scene where kate hudson takes matthew mccaughnahey to this hippy dippy place and he's pouring salt on his meal and stabbing it with his fork and muttering "rabbit food" under his breath? that's me. "happy" vegan my ass. more like "vegan who has no f*cking clue what they're missing."

BUT. the other day, out of desperation, i went there for lunch, and had the happy vegan salad, and, dare i say, i .. almost... enjoyed it??? so yeah. you, too, can willingly eat rabbit food if you deprive your stomach of things that actually taste good for long enough, i.e., more than 12 hours.

all of this is background to the scene friday night. it had been a long week. i was hungry and tired and teetotaling, which is not an ideal mental state when you are about to host a family dinner - a dinner where there will be seven children ages 6 and under. normally, this would send me straight to the liquor cabinet and/or i'd start sport-eating cupcakes to ease my nerves. to be honest, i'm usally too busy buzzing around being a stress ball when i'm entertaining and i forget to drink anyway. but it's nice to know it's there. i had no such crutch on friday. but luckily the littles took it easy on us. and there is something so singularly sweet and right about a bunch of little kids playing together. a different level of connection with these people you love (siblings, cousins, friends that are like family) - visible, (audible!) threads stemming from your shared past and extending, intertwined, into the future. i love it, even if it hurts my ears :)

still. being hungry and restricted to beverages made from unsweetened hemp milk tends to bring the real me a little closer to the surface than she generally resides. i usually sweeten up a bit when we have company, but take bread and wine and high fructose corn syrup out of the equation and i just don't have the energy to be pretend i'm nicer than i really am. i was laughing/lamenting with my sister and cousin because, you know how growing up you always had a favorite aunt, a favorite friend's mom? the cool, laid-back aunt? the fun mom? that will just never be me. i'm the mom/aunt with lots of rules and very little patience.

and all of that is a lead in to this next story.

okay. i have to preface this by saying that, lately, when jack hurts himself (or, doesn't hurt himself at all), he has taken to HEAVING his body onto the ground (if he's not already there), writhing around, and SCREAMING bloody murder like he just got a compound fracture or a fatal gut wound. i guess he just wants attention but the thing is, when you get closer to try to alleviate the situation, he just screams louder. i mean, LOUD. like, you can hear him from down the block, the entire park stops and stares, etc. he's like a brazilian soccer player and an italian opera singer rolled into one.

so, anyway, the other evening at the park, J kept running up and "shooting" me in the face with his "laser bwasters." i told him it wasn't nice to shoot his mom but he did not heed my warnings. then, he promptly slipped on the sandy sidewalk, and proceeded to SCREAM and writhe around on his back like a dying beetle. so i said, "sorry dude, that's what you get for shooting your mom in the face." some little kid within earshot shouted at me, "THAT IS NOT NICE!" and gave me the best disapproving parent look i have ever seen. DM starts cracking up. i shrugged and said, "sorry, kid" but he must have sensed the inauthenticity of my apology because he kept yelling, "THAT IS NOT A NICE THING YOU SAID! YOU NEED TO SAY SORRY BECAUSE [blah blah blah - couldn't hear him]... NOT. NICE. [heard that part loud and clear]." so, yeah. in case there was any question, it is now official. no one will ever accuse me of being nice.

i'm happy to report he quickly forgave me. (jack. not dr. phil, jr.) he even sat in my lap for an extended period of time which happens like 4 times a year. so i don't think he suffered permanent emotional scarring.

later that night at dinner, out of the blue, jack says, "i'm fweakin' tiowed of sitting here." there is no question about which parent that particular turn of phrase came from. WHOOPS. could be worse, i guess.

then yesterday when i went to pick the kids up from school, one of the teachers informed me that jack said he and his sister "ride in the trunk" in mama's car. dear lord. i could just see this look in her eyes, scanning, like, "are we gonna laugh about this or am i calling CPS?" thankfully she seemed satisfied with my explanation that they call the way-way-back "da twunk."

oh, and, the kids now demand candlelit baths with the dulcet tones of Rodrigo y Gabriela playing in the background, to kick-start the royal coronation jubilee that is our nightly bedtime routine. apparently i am raising Spanish royalty. or assholes. unsure. could go either way.

so anyway. as i said. probably not winning any parenting awards this weekend. but hey, you can't win 'em all.

luckily, right before colby went to sleep last night, she said to me, "you're 'DORable, mama." me: "awww. thanks baby. i think you're adorable, too." c: "no i is nawt! i am cowby jean mccheesy."

and all is well with the world.

well except the part about the bread and booze.