Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is This Really My Child?

I wonder if my son was switched at birth. It just doesn't seem possible that he could be related to my daughter. My girl is such a mellow kid. We're moving soon and it's not bothering her at all. I was neurotic about moving her because I moved so much as a kid but she just takes a look at her new walk-in closet, says "cool" and is good-to-go.

My son freaks out if I leave the room.

My son is the kid you see in the McDonald's play area climbing on the side of play structure above the "do not climb" sign. He's the kid who picks up the bark at the park and throws it everywhere. I am the mom everyone looks at like "can't you control your kid?" No. Not really.

He's killing me.

I mentioned on my sci-fi blog how my son is going through a potty mouthed phase. At first I didn't believe what I was hearing. My son is a little bit speech-delayed (he's too busy climbing the walls to worry about talking) and his words aren't always that clear. At first I thought, well maybe he's saying "sit." But no, he wasn't explaining what his toys were doing on the floor, he really was exclaiming "shit!" whenever something didn't go his way. *Sigh* I got stop saying that every time I find that he got into the permanent ink markers and christened my couch....again. I still haven't figured out how to get the black ink off his belly from last time.

This week it's Halloween. To most people that might mean costumes but to my son it means candy. More specifically, chocolate. I will say this, the child has the good taste to prefer chocolate over all the other stuff most taste-impaired children go for. My daughter will trade a Kit-Kat for a gummy worm. Helloooooo? But not my son. He holds up his candy bar triumphantly and cries out "CHOCOLATE!" before smearing it all over his face and my furniture.

And now I'm trying to move and deal with this child. I'm pulling my hair out. He is the master of dragging the dining room chairs around to get into the higher cupboard-- or on top of the fridge. No place is safe from this child. I caught him with a knife the other day as he was trying to use it to open a candy package he had grabbed off of a high shelf.

And lest you think I leave this child unattended, let me assure you this is not the case. The last time he got a hold of a Sharpie, I had been following him around all morning. My husband has asked me to do all the transferring of utilities from the old house to the new, and I was making phone calls. I kept a note pad with me so I could be mobile and kept following my son as I made my calls. I'd go downstairs and dial and he'd immediately go upstairs. I'd follow him up as the phone was ringing and he'd turn around and go down. This went on for awhile until I got in the middle of a conversation with the cable company and realized after two minutes I my son was on the opposite floor again. I followed and found that he had pulled the Sharpies from the shelf (I think he stood on a box to get to them) tore open the package and got to work. He hit the couch, the kitchen floor, two tables and himself before I stopped the madness. Fortunately I got there before the ink was dry and managed to prevent any permanent damage. Thank God my husband wasn't home. The neighbors would have turned us in for sure.

But this is what it's like every day. I'm so tired I can't stand it. Between my family chaos and my son I need a sedative-- but I'm afraid I'd like the happy pills too much, so I'll stay away thank-you-very-much.

But what the heck do I do with a kid on testosterone overload? Seriously. Ideas?

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Mother-in-Law is a Tattooed Wiccan

I mentioned in an earlier post that my in-law's divorce saga was just too good a story to pass up-- and it is. I'll try to just hit the highlights, but I may still ramble a bit.

When I first met my husband's family I thought they were soooo normal, and for awhile, they were. My in-laws have been married 35 years and they kept it together for most of that time. They did split up for a year back when my husband was 11, but got back together when my father-in-law supposedly shaped up his act.

Let me back up a bit. My FIL is a career military guy. He flew F-4's in Vietnam and is now a General. I won't specify his position because it could actually hurt his career to have stuff circulating about him, and despite the family drama, I do respect the service he's given his country. But military men are notoriously controlling and in his younger days he had a temper. My MIL was not a strong woman back then but she finally decided enough was enough and left. My FIL calmed down, treated her better and they worked things out.

But over the years another problem creeped up. Confidentiality. My FIL has a political job that involves a lot of secrecy. My husband will sometimes ask questions about what he does and his dad has to say, I can't tell you that, it's classified. It's not as bad as I could tell you but I'd have to kill you... But in all seriousness, that's the job and my FIL isn't making it up. But can you imagine the strain on the marriage? Most of the time he can't talk about his job. The habit is so ingrained that we never hear about his job. No workplace gossip or anything. I couldn't stand that, I love water cooler talk.

Over time this has bled into my FIL's everyday life. He is so used to keeping to himself that I don't think the poor man knows how to communicate beyond giving orders anymore and my MIL is literally starving to death for attention.

So, about two years ago, my FIL starts acting even more secretive than usual. He'd say he was going to go to Home Depot to pick something up and be gone for three hours. He started getting mysterious phone calls. My MIL found his Viagra. Yep, an affair, though he still won't cop to it.

The sad thing is that my MIL held on to the belief that is was just an "emotional affair" for a long time (as if that was better) but I think she's finally come to terms with the fact that he probably used a few of those Viagra, though I don't know if she actually counted them. I would have. But I'm a glutton for punishment.

My MIL's reaction was a bit strange though. Rather than kick his butt out she started acting like a rebellious teenager looking for attention. ((We actually kicked him out for her, but she let him back in just two weeks later after he promised to go to counseling, declaring I've known that man for 34 years and I trust him. He never went to counseling.)) I forget which came first, her decision to become a witch, or the tattoos. I think it was the witch thing first.

I can't remember how it came up initially. I just remember she told my husband that she was going to be a Wiccan. My husband just kind of rolled his eyes and went with it. She's always been the type to get wild hairs every now and then, but this was a new one. I told my husband not to give her a hard time because I thought she was looking for a diversion. But in hindsight, I think she was hoping to shock her straight laced military husband. We'd go over for Thanksgiving and she'd force us to sit through all these pagan blessings. Oh, but only after saying that Halloween was now some kind of major holiday for witch-kind and decking the house out in all it's Halloween finery, lighting candles and casting spells. At least she doesn't do anything halfway.

Unfortunately my FIL just wasn't as rattled by the whole Wiccan thing as my MIL hoped. He'd kind of shake his head, but never really offered a big reaction, which is what I think she was hoping for. So she started getting tattoos. Now, I don't want to be judgemental. Tattoos are pretty commonplace now, but when your MIL starts getting them, they just don't seem that cool anymore.

She started with a moon and stars on her ankle, then a ladybug on her foot. Followed by a small fairy on the other ankle and a great big fairy on her inner ankle that goes up her leg. They're pretty-- I guess. But they're also a pretty drastic measure to get your husband's attention don't you think?

And sadly, that didn't seem to get his attention either. I think he's just totally indifferent now. So MIL is talking divorce, though I don't know how long it'll take before she gets the guts up to actually do it. My FIL is beyond indifferent to her emotionally, but he manipulates her into staying because he doesn't want to lose half his pension. I personally think he's back with his girlfriend but I don't know for sure. I don't really have the energy to deal with it since my parent's drama is ongoing, but I expect that within days of my parents finally leaving, my in-laws will go into full-scale drama mode.

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the fact that my MIL decided awhile ago that she was bi-polar (she used to be a nurse and self-diagnosed herself) she got a psychologist to go along with it and has been taking meds for it--including Lithium. And she's become a raging alcoholic-- using the drink induced haze to run her mouth at family gatherings.

But you gotta laugh. It's like a black comedy written by the Farrelly Brothers. And the weird thing is that I still think my family is worse. My husband agrees. He thinks that compared to my family, this is garden variety stuff. I should write a screenplay.

I haven't heard much about my MIL's "religion" lately though. I wonder if she's got some other ideas brewing in that head of hers to get my FIL's attention. It could be an interesting Christmas this year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

10-20-30 Meme

I've been tagged by John over at Grasping for the Wind with a fun meme that asks what you were doing 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Unfortunately I have answers for all three....

10 years ago I was mostly getting ready for my wedding. I had a job in L.A. that I left to come back to Northern California since my husband-to-be couldn't relocate his job as easily as I could. I decided to move back with my parents to save on rent money and I didn't want to live with my husband prior to marriage-- you know to keep it special. I was also scrambling to get a new job which ended up with me back in school to get my teaching credential that I completed soon after we married. All-in-all a hugely transitional time of my life.

20 years ago, let's see, I would have just turned 18. I had been in college for a year at that time and was just starting to realize I was going to have to actually apply myself if I was going to graduate someday. I was working as a waitress at a local Mexican restaurant-- after leaving my oh-so-glamorous job at the movie theatre. I had a lot of fun at this age. I wasn't a partier at all, but I had a bunch of friends that I worked with and we often would socialize together outside of work and had a blast. We'd go river-rafting or just hang out at Denny's at 2am. I didn't have a steady boyfriend at this age so just dated a bit and flirted a lot and got way too little sleep. Good times.

30 years ago I would have been 8. We were living in Irvine California. We moved a lot when I was a kid, I went to a different school almost every year in fact. I liked third grade. We lived in a great house in a nice neighborhood. The problem was that my parents only rented the house and couldn't keep up the payments after the first year-- but oh what blissful ignorance until then. I went to Turtle Rock elementary and I fondly remember a little boy Carl who declared his undying love for me-- at least until his next crush. I imagine that boy was quite the charmer as he got older. Even then he knew that compliments and gifts were a sure fire way to get the ladies. I hope he didn't turn out to be a cad.

I'm sure I'm supposed to tag someone. But I'm lazy, so consider yourself tagged if you want to be.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sorry for the lack of action....

For the few who actually read this blog, sorry for the lack of new posts. I wrote THIS POST to explain on my sci-fi blog.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Obituary: Common Sense

I totally stole this from Factor 10 but I think it needs to spread around a bit.

Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Author unknown

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sassy, the One Eyed Wonder Klutz

So, we're getting a dog. By the title of my post you've probably already deduced she's not any ordinary dog.

Who wants ordinary?

My parents are moving sometime in the near future and I'm inheriting the dog. I love this dog. As the title of my post suggests her name is Sassy and she is the greatest animal on the planet.

I don't know what it is, but my family has never had normal pets. We're all a little nuts and I'm sure our pets reflect that; but our pets also have personality. Oh yeah.

Where do I begin with Sassy?

My mom got Sassy just before I had my son, so she's almost four years old. She was the cutest puppy you ever saw. A little apricot colored bundle of toy poodle with bad hair. You know how most poodles have a kind of regal snootiness about them? Not Sassy, she's the poodle who's hair sticks out at weird angles and isn't quite curly enough to sustain the pouf the doggie hairdressers try to put in her tail. You gotta love a dog who has bad hair days.

Sassy had a great personality from the get-go. Super sweet with this teddy bear face that almost diverted attention from my newborn son. Though we noticed right from the start that Sassy was very clumsy. You know, the kind of dog that trips over their feet when they're running at you. Most puppies outgrow this but Sassy still finds running very tricky.

My mom has always spoiled our pets shamelessly and they often live twice as long as they're supposed to for the food alone. Sassy got the doggie bed, the little outfits, the toys and even a little knitted blanket. I remember the blanket well. Sassy was laying on my couch one day when my mom came over to help with the baby and I was petting the dog. Sassy jumped up in a puppy frenzy to play with me and promptly started yelping as her front claws got caught in the fabric of the blanket. Poor baby. I untangled her and she licked my face in puppy gratitude and got on with her day. It was an omen I think.

Our dogs have always had these kind of slender metal collars; designer duds for doggies I think. So of course my mom immediately went out and got one for Sassy. I don't think it lasted a week. Somehow, while trying to get the collar off, she got the collar wedged in her mouth. I don't think this is too unusual, my cat used to do this every now and then. But Sassy wedged that thing in so tight my parents couldn't get it off no matter how they tried. My mom got out the wire cutters and metal collars are now a thing of the past.

Things went along like this for awhile. Sassy would run and trip and bite her tongue and do all sorts of silly things, but nothing too serious. Until the Great Dane that is.

My brother had a Great Dane. Another dog with a fantastic personality. I remember when he got her and told me her name was Kingcow. Huh? What the hell kind of name is Kingcow? Turns out he named her after a friend of his who lives in Thailand. I suppose Kingcow (Kinkow?) could be a Thai name. But I digress. After my brother decided to move to Thailand my parents agreed to keep the Great Dane. I don't know many people who would take on that challenge but we are the type to go overboard with our pets. So they ended up with two strangely paired dogs: the Poodle and the Great Dane. And they got along very well; no sibling rivalry at all. But it turns out, size matters.

My mom was babysitting my kids for an overnight stay when the strangest thing happened. I have given my mom a lot of crap on the blog so far, but one thing I really admire about her is that nothing rattles her. Nothing.

So the kids had been at the house for a few hours and I called to check in and my mom tells me every thing's fine and the kids are having a great time. Cool. So my husband and I have our date night and go to pick up the kids the next morning. When we get there I notice that Sassy is looking very strange. One of her eyes looks like it's about ready to pop out of her skull. And it's an alarming red color.

Oh, funny story, my mom tells me.

Mom: Kingcow knocked Sassy's eye out last night.

Me: Um, what did you just say?

Mom: Oh, it's nothing really. The dogs were playing and Sassy jumped up somehow and her head went into Kingcow's mouth and I think one of her teeth hit Sassy's eye and knocked it out.

Me: Silence.

Mom: I didn't want to worry you when you called last night. Dad had already taken the dog to the vet and the kids didn't see anything. I saw Sassy's eye right after it came out and I picked her up really fast so the kids wouldn't see it. I had dad distract the kids while I put her eye back in.

Me: Standing with jaw dropped.

Mom: The vet said there really wasn't anything else we could do. He thinks the eye will stay in but doesn't know if she'll ever see again.

Finally I manage a coherent thought. You put her eye back in??!!

Mom: Well, I had to, it was kind of hanging there....

Me: Kind of twitching now, And you didn't call me to come pick up the kids?!

Mom: I didn't want to spoil your evening....

Me: More stunned silence.

Even though I called Sassy a "one eyed" in the title of this post, she still actually has the eye, though she can't see out of it. You'd never know. She's always been clumsy so there's no discernible difference, though she has a tendency to look at you sideways if you're facing her bad eye. Weeeeellll maybe she is a bit more clumsy. My mom actually knocked the dog out cold one day playing catch with the dog. I kid you not. She threw the ball and Sassy apparently didn't see it coming and it hit her right on the temple and the dog keeled over like a tipped cow. My poor mom thought she had killed her dog, but fortunately Sassy rebounded quickly and my mom's heart started beating again.

My hand to God, this is all true.

And I can't wait to bring her home. My mom is not looking forward to leaving the dog. I mean, anyone who would put your eye back in must really love you right? Gah! Just the thought of it... Maybe I'm crazy for a taking a dog with this history, but maybe it's like someone who has already been stuck by lightening; what are the odds of it happening again? Quick, I need some wood to knock.

And is my mom a cool customer or what?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Should've Been a Rebel

I never rebelled as a teenager. I had three older brothers who did more than enough rebelling for the four of us. But sometimes I wonder if I should've raised a little more hell.

The problem in my house was that I didn't really get much out of being the good kid. I wrote a post about my psychotic family and a couple brave souls left comments (thank you by the way) so those who read the post might understand why I wanted to remain invisible as a kid. And that's what I was aiming for; invisibility. But looking back, I realize I didn't get much mileage out of being the mild mannered one.

I mean, I didn't do anything. I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I didn't skip school and I got good grades. Out of four kids, only two of us graduated high school and I'm the only who went to college and was the first in my family to have a college degree. I got something out of being the good kid on a personal level, but from a familial standpoint I didn't get squat.

What I mean by that is that my brothers were so busy raising hell that my parents didn't have time to care whether or not I was doing anything good. To a degree, this was a good thing since I did strive for invisibility. But on the other hand, when you don't raise hell, you get in trouble for the dumbest shit.

Case in point. The only thing I did that bugged my mom as a kid was that I had a messy room. Looking back, it wasn't even that bad, just an unmade bed and some clothes on the floor. But you would have thought I set the place on fire. My brothers were doing drugs, getting kicked out of school and getting in fights that resulted in more than one hospital stay. Were their rooms clean? Um, no. Did they get grounded for having a messy room? No. Did I? All the time.

Am I the only one who sees a glaring double standard here?

Obviously my mom was looking for a measure of control in an out-of-control life and I bore the brunt of that. And it chaps my hide to no end. I have laid into my mom on this and to her credit she admits it was messed up. But daaaaaamn, I wish I would have had the guts to just go a little crazy back then. I mean, what's the worst that could have happened? Getting grounded? Sheesh.

And now I'm a mom and I don't have the luxury of rebelling. Oh, I could do the Britney Spears route, but how sad is that? I wouldn't put my kids through that for anything. So I'm kind of stuck being the good girl for different reasons now. I have a good life, a nice husband, beautiful kids and nothing to be too ashamed about. But every now and then I wish I had been a little bolder when I was younger and had the chance to live it up a little. You know, given my parents a real reason to ground me.

My daughter has a messy room too, and I don't say a word.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Someone Said I Was Beautiful Today

I went to Starbucks to get a chai tea latte today, and the greatest thing happened. The woman behind the counter handed me my hot concoction and said "Here you go beautiful..."

And it made my day.

Now, I have no doubt that she uses that with everyone. She's probably one of those personalities that calls people "cutie," "honey," and "beautiful," but so what? It made me feel special for about 2 seconds. Okay, at least 10 minutes.

Somehow my days of being called beautiful on a semi-regular basis left me about 10 years ago. I'm not saying I was a great beauty, but youth seems to attract the kind of compliments that we miss as we get older. I remember my mom once was so thrilled when a strange man told her how beautiful she was and I was thinking soooooo. How stupid was I? At the time I was thinking, well yeah, she is beautiful (my mom was a serious beauty) so what's the big deal? I hadn't gotten old enough yet to realize that as we get older we get a little less approachable, definitely more guarded. The open-faced child of 10-15 years past isn't there anymore with the assumption that life will continue to stroke our fragile egos as often as we might wish. How did those days go by so fast?

Now I'm told how beautiful my daughter is. And as much as I miss hearing it myself, I'm not jealous. I love to see her face light up when she hears that and she remains wonderfully modest too. I'm very proud of my beautiful little girl.

But every now and then, it's nice to be reminded that I might have a little something left that glows just a tiny bit with the radiance of youth I see in my kids. That someone might in fact think that I could be beautiful still.

I'm going back to Starbucks tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Come I Am This Way?

Do you ever wonder why you have certain personality traits? I do. All the time.

I swear I was type A personality in the womb. I was even born six weeks early. Having children has forced me to relax a bit. It's impossible to be as obsessive over dumb s*** when you have other little people to worry about. But I would give anything to be more laid back.

I mentioned in my last post that I fret about my weight. Oh I cannot begin to tell you what an understatement that is. My metabolism seemed to have shut down by my reckoning after having kids. So I bugged and badgered my doctor about it until he told me to knock it off and that I wasn't overweight. You'd think that it would be fabulous to have your doctor tell you that you're fine, but noooooo, not me. If I'm not perfect I can't let it go. Why is that?

I have a friend who never seems bothered by anything. I know it isn't true because every now and then she lets a tiny bit of weakness show through and says something like my hair looks like crap today. Oh happy day, she felt the need to complain about something. And I envy the heck out of her. She can be cut off in traffic and not think a thing of it. She can run into a rude cashier at the grocery store and somehow manage to make that person love her before she even swipes her debit card. She can put on a bikini and not freak out. The woman is inhuman I tell you.

And everyone notices her ability to sail through life seemingly unaffected by the B.S. that wears the rest of us down. I even asked her mom about it and she said that my friend was always like that, even as a child.

How? How did she win the personality lottery that allows her to skip the part where she gets stressed out by stupid stuff? Chicken Soup for the Soul my ass, you gotta be born able to not sweat the small stuff.

But still, I wonder. Is is possible to develop these kinds of personality traits? Was Dale Carnegie telling the truth when he said he could teach us how to win friends and influence people?

Seriously. I worry about these things.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Delicate Art of Husband Management

Men don't get it. And they will tell you that too. They will also tell you that they have no conscious thoughts floating around in their heads at any given time. Just ask.

So is it really surprising that they almost always say exactly the wrong thing?

For me this comes up most frequently when I lament the fact, that despite running several miles a day, doing martial arts and eating grass disguised as salad, I can't lost weight. You'd think, after 12 years together he'd have a clue by now. But no, still clueless. Instead of saying what any sane woman wants to hear, Honey, I love you just the way you are... he's always saying crap like, I'm sure if you keep at it, the weight will come off. Tell the truth, you want to kill him already, don't you?

But I must admit fault here too. See, I was very slow to realize that I was supposed to tell him exactly what to say. That's right ladies, they will not figure it out for themselves. Ever. So it is up to us to coach them in the fine are of saying the right thing.

So the last time my husbands started in on his Oh, I'm sure you'll get it figured out eventually.... I stopped him mid-sentence. I tried not to actually say shut up, but it may have slipped out. Anyway, I stopped him before he made sure he'd never have sex again in this century and told him point blank, that is not what you're supposed to say!

Oh the confusion. The poor dear really didn't know what was going on. But I stood my ground and told him to quit trying to encourage me because he just didn't know how. I told him to repeat after me and slowly, with careful enunciation, said the words that every man should write on the back of his hand and say at least 10 times a day to the woman in his life. Honey, I love you just the way you are. I made him repeat it. I also told him to throw in a I don't think you need to lose any weight for good measure.

I told him to practice on his own. A lot.

Next week we're working on I don't care if you gain 50 pounds, I'll still love you just the way you are.

Taking the Blog Down the Rabbit Hole

So I'm checking out Pay Per Post.

Need I say more?

I have always resisted the whole Pay Per Post thing, especially when I think certain blogs abuse the use of it. You've been to those blogs I'm sure.

But I have 3 blogs and sometimes it feels like a job. I have the book review blog, which is great because publishers will send me books to review. Free books are a beautiful thing...

But the sci-fi blog doesn't pay for itself in any way at all. And I can't post PPP ads on it because I have contributors listed on the site. That's a good thing I'm sure; keeps me honest.

And I never considered using this blog for PPP until someone said they make $600 a month with their PPP ads. Really? Um, that much? Just for posting a few ads?

No, it's not a huge amount of money, but it isn't half bad. And here's the thing. I've also seen blogs that use ads and then turn around and use the ad money to do contests on the blog. For example, Ree over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman has "name the photo" contests and has given away as much as $600 in gift certificates in just one contest. How cool is that?

I do book giveaways on my review blog, but I'd like to do more stuff like that. It's fun and it's a nice feeling to be able to give rather than take.

So if the few of you who have actually come back to this little blog from time to time can stand a few ads, I might be able to use the $$ for fun and maybe give away some Amazon gift certificates, or something like that. Do you think it would be worth the bother?