Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Beauty Of Facebook

I admit it. I am addicted to Facebook. It is a brilliant idea. I get to sit on my couch in my jammies and keep in touch with my friends. With jobs, kids, and time differences, phone calls are basically out of the question. I am never more in demand than when I pick up the phone and dial someone. Suddenly, my kids are the paparazzi and I am Katie Holmes. They climb all over me, demanding food, the answer to life mysteries, potty help, etc. And, the best part of Facebook, for me, is that I can read posts, think out and ponder my witty, inspirational, intelligent comments. No blurting things out without thinking or out of nervousness. I do not do well in large crowds. Or small crowds, for that matter. I get nervous and blurt, ramble or babble incoherently. And for some odd reason, silences or gaps in the conversation freak me out and I rush to fill them. And do so very badly. Paul swears that my tombstone will read "Was that out loud? Oops". I disagree with anyone who says it is impersonal. Have you read or seen some of the weird, overly personal and downright inappropriate things people post? I love that I get to keep in touch with my nieces and nephews. I get to keep in touch with people I otherwise would have lost touch with years ago. The downside is that strange and random acquaintances crawl out of the woodwork and want to befriend you solely on the fact you coexisted in high school at the same time. These are the same people that never gave you the time of day back then. But now, they are Facebook friend collectors. If I can't pick you out of a line-up or we never had a conversation in person, please do not send me a friend request. The other downside is that insecure and neurotic people like me do not like reading about and seeing photos of fun things that everyone but me scored an invite to. Maybe I am not invited to all the cool events because everyone on Facebook knows I like to sit around in my jammies.

Timing Is Everything

Timjng is everything. And my kids have lousy timing. When Christian was six weeks old, he had seizures. To this day, I blame the cats because my husband was out buying cat food for them when they started. Rushing to the hospital with a now-sleeping infant, I looked sufficiently scary that the truly sick and injured people in front of me parted like the Red Sea and let my son get treated first. I still have no idea who parked my car when I pulled up to the ER doors. I do know that the hospital did not have valet service. Since a stomach virus struck him for 5 hours last month, he has been occasionally whining that his "tummy hurts". These dramatic outbursts are short and sporadic. There is no reason or logic to them. He recovers within 30 seconds and continues to run amok though the house demanding food. Having absolutely no medical experience or training, we chalked it up to boredom or feeble attempts at pity and/or attention. We prescribed trips to the bathroom, water and rest. All were ignored or heeded grudgingly. Life continued on and everyone lived. This morning he awoke at 5:30 a.m. crying about stomach pain. I had him use the bathroom and return to bed. Two hours later, he woke up again with claims of pain. He ate a waffle then proceeded to curl up on the couch. Very strange behavior for a 4 year old boy who thinks he is a super hero who needs to save the planet daily. Off to the doctor we go. He is examined every which way and declared healthy. He acted fine. His mood was better. His energy has returned somewhat. He scammed 2 lollipops and a couple stickers on the way out of the office. He was a little sleepy on the ride home. When we get home, he doesn't want to get out of the car. I carry him into the house and he flops down crying that his tummy hurts and he cannot take off his shoes. Now I'm thinking it's male PMS and he is just being moody. Then he announced that he is ready for his nap at 10:30 in the morning. Very, very strange but I oblige and follow him up the stairs. He doesn't want to read stories or sing songs. He just wants to sleep. Now I'm wondering if he is just tired from our weekend trip to the beach or suffering from malaria. He sleeps for a couppe of hours and wakes up with a fever. He was just checked and had no fever!! How does it come on that fast?! He couldn't have had even just a mild one so the pediatrician doesnt think that I have Munchausan-By-Proxy syndrome?! And maybe get treated for whatever bizarre ailment is afflicting him? I give him some medicine and he improves slowly over the afternoon. Well enough, in fact, to fight with his sister and chase her around the house. I am so intent on working on having them learn to resolve their own fights, I forget to give him more medicine. My husband arrives home from work and we have family dinner. All is well and harmonious. Out of the blue, again, his fever is back like a pesty neighbor selling Amway. I mean, this hit him like a Mack truck. Now I feel like the worst mother on the planet. His fever is dangerously high and I am ready to have him Med Flighted to the Mayo Clinic. My husband and I comprise and call the pediatrician. I HATE bothering doctors at night and on weekends. Maybe it's the catholic school girl in me and I'm afraid they will channel their inner-nun and scream at me for bothering them. Routine call with no judgements about actually paying attention to a feverish child. No diarrhea or vomiting, we assure the doctor. We give him the recommend medicine. He promptly throws it up. Now I get to call the doctor back 3 minutes after the first call. "Hi, it's the idiot mom who got so easily distracted with her kids and their fighting that I forgot to give him medicine. Well, remember how I said there was no vomiting? Funny story- he just puked all over himself, us and the carpet. How's that for great timing? You didn't really want to spend time with your loved ones tonight, did you? You really wanted to spend the night answering my calls every 3-5 minutes. I'm like labor pains but you don't get a cute baby at the end. You just get more phone calls about my puking child". See what I mean about timing? Lousy. Add to it that I am supposed to drive Sara to sleep away camp tomorrow. Do I leave Christian home with a sitter and hope for the best? Do I make Sara miss her first overnight camp experience because her brother is sick? Or do I drag a sick kid back and forth in the car? Paul is swamped at work and cannot take off or work from home. Great timing for a sick kid and an older sister who has been packed for sleep away camp for a month. I am never someone who would be described as calm, cool and collected. When my kids are sick, all semblance of maturity, firm grasp on reality and grace under pressure fly out the window. I immediately conjur up every possible worst-case scenario and spend all night running them through my head. I spend all night listening to the monitor and waiting for a child's cry. Is there ever a good time to have a sick child?


I am in awe of my 8 year old daughter. She is afraid of nothing. Granted, she has her stuffed Lambi to look out for her and protect her from........ whatever lambs protect small children from. And Lambi's track record is impeccable. Nothing truly horrible has ever happened to her while Lambi is on guard duty. Today I dropped Sara off for her first overnight camp. She will be spending 2 nights living in a "glorified" tent 4 hours away from home. Sara knows no one at this camp and has never been there before but she was excited to go. She packed a month ago. She woke up at 6:30 this morning even though check in was not until 10 a.m. She has never feared new experiences, new places or new people. Any school or day camp she attends, she jumps out of the car, races into the building and introduces herself to everyone she meets. No clinging, no tearful goodbyes. Just a hug and a casual "see you later, Mom" and she is off. This girl is not afraid of new experiences. She doesn't worry that she won't like it or make friends. She just fully expects to have fun and make new friends. And she is always right. Evan an afternoon at the park will garner at least 2 new friends. She already told me she wants to return to camp next year and stay longer. We got to her tent, met her counselors and set up her sleeping bag. Before I could blink, it was time for me to go. She gave me a half-hug and kiss before racing back to her tent to meet the girls and start having fun. Silly me, I got back into my car, looked in the rear view mirror at her empty booster seat and wondered why on Earth I just dropped my baby off to survive in the woods for 2 nights. I called my father for sympathy. He barely concealed his laughter and assured me she would be fine. Granted, my brothers were sent to the Canadian woods for a month every summer. So, I guess I was barking up the wrong tree for sympathy. But, this is different. How? This is MY baby. My little girl who still sleeps curled up with her Lambi. Every night I blow kisses onto her ceiling so they fall on her while she sleeps. She still believes in Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Logically, I know she will be fine. That we will miss her more than she misses us. But it will feel very strange to check on only one child tonight when I go to sleep and see her empty (still messy) room. I will not feel right and settled until she is back under our roof and sleeping in her bed. She has a positive outlook and it pays off. She embraces new experiences. She thrives on new adventures. She loves trying new things - places, food, activities. I wish I were more like her. I dread the unknown and unexpected. Maybe I need a Lambi to watch out for me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Note to Jerry Sandusky - the whole world knows you are guilty of inhuman behavior. Molesting children who are in your care and trust makes you a vile and despicable human being. Own up to your horrific crimes and pay the price. You belong in jail, locked away from humanity. Spare your victims further pain. How dare you force them to relive their pain at your hands for public consumption? You are inhuman without a moral compass or conscience. You do not deserve to be a member of society. You violated their rights. You deserve to be stripped of yours. In my mind, your wife and co-workers at Penn State are guilty, as well. Over and over again, your crimes were brought to their attention and it was swept under the rug for the sake of football. Are you kidding me? So some overgrown jocks can run up and down fake grass throwing a ball back and forth and tackling each other? That is just sick and wrong. I weep for your victims and their families. I hope your conviction sends a message to the Penn State football program that people are more important than a football reputation. It is a sad day for humanity when THAT message needs to be sent. To the middle school bus bullies - I have not watched the video of you bullying, mocking and insulting a kind elderly lady who never did anything to you. I have read enough articles about it to know that it will enrage me. You are evil, vicious and cruel. You and your parents should be ashamed. You have nowhere to hide. You proudly video taped this disgusting behavior and posted it for public consumption. It worked. We all watched it and were horrified that someone so young could be so cruel.. What were you thinking? Did you really think it would be ok? Did you think it made you look cool? You look like nasty, vicious. You mocked her weight, looks, fashion and family. Who raised these little animals? Were you trying to be cool? You weren't. You represent the worst of humanity. How dare you inflict that sort of pain on anyone? She never did anything to you. No one deserves the pain you inflicted on her. I pray and hope that someday you realize the truly despicable and awful nature of what you did and feel true and sincere remorse. Shame on your parents for raising you to behave that way. Shame on you for not knowing better. You will be forever remembered as the awful middle school kids who terrorized a kind old lady for no reason other than your own sick amusement. You deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. How dare you think you are entitled to behave that way towards anyone. She deserves nothing less than your respect. I truly hope everyone else is as sick of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and their divorce. No one was shocked when a marriage between a 44 year old Scientologist and a normal 24 year old girl from Toledo tanked. We were mildly surprised the sham lasted as long as it did. I don't care about Katie and Suri's trips to the zoo or pet store. I don't care that she used a disposable phone to escape his freakishly controlling lifestyle. I know more than I care to just by skimming the headlines. Friends and family asked my why I don't watch the local news. Well, because last night's headline was about the hot dry spell we are experiencing and it is putting the local hay supply in danger. Not even close to relevant to me or my life. Except that I am deathly allergic to hay.
This is what is happening in America and my hometown. Stay tuned for more weird, useless and horrifying news. I'm sure we will have a whole new crop of it next week.

Malibu Barbie

I live in the Midwest, surrounded by cornfields. Yet, some of the Barbie-esque women around here think they live in Hollywood. They sit around the pool in their itty bitty bikinis, showing off their tan, toned bodies, giant rings and expensive sunglasses, gossiping the day away. They do NOT discipline or supervise their kids. When the kids cause trouble, endanger themselves or others, they are too busy chatting to notice or take action. When a lifeguard or other parent steps in, they roll their eyes and keep chatting. I say let Darwinism handle this. If no one else is in danger, let their little trophy kid get injured. Let the little brat bleed all over his Polo swim trunks. I will no longer worry about pulling your kid to safety when he swims out too far. I WILL yell at the little terror when he jumps into the pool and lands ON my child. To the lady in the fancy bikini that has never gotten wet- I was NOT annoyed because your little trophy splashed me. I was in pool, for crying out loud. I was annoyed because he landed ON me AND my child. Then, when your little prince ignored pool rules and safety and did running jumps into the pool, my son tried to do the same. I do not enjoy having a conversation with my child that you can hear that involves me reminding my child that it doesn't matter if other kids are ignoring rules and being dangerous, HE still needs to follow safety guidelines. Get in the pool, play with your kid and keep him safe. And keep him away from my kid until he learns some basic manners and safety. Newsflash - you are not better than me. You are just skinnier.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Fun

So far, summer vacation has meant fighting, heat waves, a messy house and day camps. With strategic planning worthy of a four star general, I have enrolled both kids in a variety of day camps. The goal is to keep the warring factions as separated as possible. Swimming is usually a safe choice. Sara prefers to hang in the deep end with the big kids and Christian likes to be able to touch the bottom with his feet. Keeping gallons of water and dozens of feet apart keeps the fighting to a minimum. We've had sleepovers, sprinkler parties, and car washes. Somehow, the more people we have over, the messier the event, the happier the kids are. Inviting friends over is sufficient motivation for Sara to "find her carpet" - clean her room. The irony of cleaning your room so your friends can come over and trash it is not lost on either one of us.
We left Paul to entertain some visiting Chinese professors. They are here on a cultural tour. Since there is very little culture in the cornfields, he sent them to a working Amish farm to do manual labor. Then he took them outlet shopping and golfing. The idea of my husband doing any of these activities is enough to make me giggle. We packed up and headed to the beach with friends. I packed 4 beach towels, 1 beach chair, sand and water toys, snacks, drinks, clothes, swim suits, sunscreen, books, and movies and hit the road. Since we live in the middle of the cornfields, my son has never experienced a "beach". He was horrified to learn that I expected him to walk down a sandy hill to the water. Since I was carry 750 pounds of beach stuff, I had no sympathy for a kid who just had to walk 50 yards on his own steam. It took him a little while to screw up the courage to go into the "pool". There was no convincing him it was a lake. In the meantime, Sara quickly joined hands with her best friend and headed as far out as she was legally allowed. We are still finding sand in her body parts. For "amusement", some people decided to hike up a sand dune. You read that right, folks. Some of my friends have a bizarre sense of fun. They pretend they are homeless and call it "camping". They also think hiking up a pile of sand in 90 degree weather is fun. Luckily, my 4 year old son has more sense. He walked about 10 yards towards the trail of doom and headed back to the "pool". I joined him gladly. After getting sufficiently sunburned, we packed up and headed to the hotel. My son was even more horrified that I expected him to walk UP the sandy staircase. Realizing his choices were to walk uphill or live at the beach with no food or water, he sighed heavily and grudgingly trudged up the beach. Cleaning up myself and 2 very sandy children in a small hotel bathroom was not pleasant. I am not sure there was any sand left at the beach. It is all in my luggage or in the shower. Whoever invented the phrase "a day at the beach" never went to the beach with small children. Between sand fights, reapplying sunscreen on small, squirmy, wet kids, food demands, the parents did not relax much. Mostly we watched to make sure no one drowned, drank lake water or got buried alive in the sand against their will. The next day we took the kids on a dune buggy ride. The bravest of our group? The 1 year old who never stopped grinning. The cowardly lion of the group? My 8 year and the oldest kid of the group. She is still shocked and relieved we made it back alive and in one piece. As we put the kids to bed last night, the both asked when we could go back to the beach. When they are old enough to carry their own stuff and apply their own sunscreen. Then it will be "a day at the beach".

Welcome Wagon

The fact that I am on the board of the neighborhood homeowners association isn't even the funniest part. The fact that I am on the welcoming committee is the really funny part. Especially given my positive attitude about moving here. Well, three years have passed. We've unpacked (mostly), made friends and adjusted (mostly). My job is to drive around the neighborhood and stalk new homeowners. If I am lucky enough to catch them at home, I give them a packet of information about the neighborhood - who to call to bitch, moan, complain and tattle on their fellow neighbors. Tired of driving by during the day to find no one home ever, I set out tonight determined to hunt these people down. Tonight, my life was a cross between a Stephen King Novel and an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I got violated by a horny Australian Shepherd while his amused owner watched. I swear the furry little molester laid down and smoked a cigarette after I did my walk of shame back to my car. I met a psycho ex-military guy with an even crazier dog who wanted to eat me for a snack. Then I met a retired guy with a whole host of health issues that he freely shared with me. Next on my welcome tour was a lady I either want to be friends with or will be visiting in rehab. I'm not entirely convinced she was kidding about bringing a keg to the board meetings. I'm still on the fence about whether that will improve the meetings. Driving by my own house, I spotted a gaggle, herd, posse of crows circling my garbage. It was straight out of Hitchcock's "The Birds". In my determined quest to be the welcome wagon lady, I called Paul to alert him to "his" garbage problem and kept driving. What can I say? I'm a good neighbor but a lousy wife.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


When we got married, Paul promised to love, honor and cherish me. In the last 12 years he has done so and much more. He has supported me, encourage me, helped me, and taken care of me in ways I never expected. Above all, he has put up with my temper, humor, idiosyncrasies. I have also made him promise to let me die first. It's the gentlemanly thing to do, after all. The man does not die and leave his wife alone to fend for herself. My grandfather outlived my grandmother for that exact reason. They met in the first grade and were married for more years than most people live. They were polar opposites and complemented each other very well. Much like Paul and me. If he died first, I would be living in a shack with no water or electricity and no way to feed myself. He is more domestic, which ain't saying much. He fixes everything around the house, cars, yard, etc. When there is a problem at school, he knows how to speak to the powers that be. I just get mad, froth at the mouth and issue insane threats. He sees the problem and fixes it. To show my love and adoration of this man, I have sworn that I will haunt him from the grave. Just so he won't get too lonely without me. But in a nice, sweet, Lifetime movie kind of way. Not a creepy, evil souls sucking his life force from him kind of way. When I suggested we do the whole Eva and Juan Peron mourning, he got squeamish. I guess he won't be laying out my embalmed body out in the dining room while making his new wife (chosen by me, of course) comb my hair and absorb my essence. Party pooper. I was kind of hoping to spook the next Mrs. Velasco. Guess I will have to settle for haunting, spying on and spooking him. So you don't feel too sorry for my husband, you should know that he has more life insurance on me than Dolly Parton has on her chest.

Not Enough Of Me

Those of you who know me probably read that and thought "Really? One of you is all we can handle. Thank you very much". But for the next 2 weeks, I need a clone, a servant, a helper or something. Paul is swamped at work and unable to play chauffeur. Sara's camp ends at 4 pm. Christian's swim lessons start at 4. See my dilemma? After months of lessons, my son finally enjoys the water and doesn't think we are trying to kill him or waterboard him when he approaches a pool. So, do I make him miss his swim lessons? I don't have Floo powder and any other magical abilities so I have to figure out how to get Christian to his swim lessons and pick Sara up from camp at the exact same time. Next week is more of the same. I have to drive Sara to her overnight camp 4 hours away. Do I drag Christian in the car with me for the round trip or fund my babysitter's entire college education and ask her to watch him for an entire day? Trust me when I say that she will earn every penny. And probably swear off motherhood. I think I will be in the car for more hours than Sara will actually be at the camp. I drove with my kids to Disney in April. I do not relish the thought of being trapped in a small confined space with the 2 of them again any time in the foreseeable future. If I leave him home with a sitter, do I make him miss his day camp? He loves camp. He gets to brink his bike AND his Spiderman lunch bag. That makes him a big kid, I guess. Is it fair to make him miss his activities in favor of his sister's activities? I once heard that life is not fair. Fair is not everyone getting what they want. Fair is everyone getting what they need. Well, I need 2 of me for the next 2 weeks or so.