Friday, July 28, 2006
Listen to This One
No, I mean it. Really, listen. Put your ear right up to your computer screen.

Do you hear it? A vague humming-buzzing-vibrating sort of noise?

It's there, listen close.

Know what that sound is? You might think it's your computer doing its computer things down in the depths of its computer belly. But you would be wrong. That sound is me, sitting all the way over here in New Hampshire, jittery and wired because this morning I faced a choice between coffee or napping at my desk, and I opted for the former. It's the first time in years that I've had anything stronger than orange juice to drink in the morning... I'm about ready to climb the walls.

And I hate the taste of real coffee. Love the smell of fresh-ground beans, love the smell of it percolating, and even went through a phase in college where I ate chocolate-covered espresso beans on purpose. But coffee brewed in a cup, no cream, no sugar, BLECH. So I ordered a medium iced coffee with cream and extra-large sugar. You can see a quarter-inch pile of sugar at the bottom, and since they gave me a straw I get to chase it around and maintain a good sugar high too.

The sad thing is, I'm working alone today, so there's no one to witness my goofiness. When I have caffeine in the morning, I am like a 12-year-old girl on speed. Can't shut up, can't sit down, can't focus. It's worth the price of admission, I tell ya.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I Fweepin'
We moved Jacob into a twin bed yesterday. We decided to use the same process that we'd done with Emily - cram the bed into the room with the crib still set up and let him choose for a while, and then eventually phase the crib out when he's ready. And he had the exact same response that Emily had four years ago - he loves, loves, loves his bed, is just so excited and proud of himself for being in it, climbed in and out about 400 times the first hour it was ready (no small feat, given the big wooden bar along the room-side of it).

He likes to hop in, pull the covers up to his chin, make sure Kitty is all tucked in next to him, and announce, "Go 'way, Mama. I fweepin'!"

I could just weep.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Drafting Through a Red Light
Have you had that experience where you're coming up to an intersection and you know you're pushing it? You know that light has been yellow for three or four hours at least, it's been orange since you were well within stopping distance, and by the time you wince, studiously avoiding any eye contact with the light, and pass through, it is red enough that you need special glasses to see it?

And then the car behind you goes too, thereby eradicating any wrongness about your own idiot traffic maneuver?

I love that.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Baby on Board
I worked yesterday, which is not usual for me. But with Judi on vacation (and therefore, there is no one here who is well-meaning but so perfect and competent that I literally quiver in fear at her indrawn about-to-offer-a-gentle-reminder breath) they're understaffed, and I earn a nice overtime bonus for extra hours... so Monday it is! The only thing I'd had planned for yesterday was to give blood and get a free t-shirt... and by working 10 extra hours, I can BUY a t-shirt or three.

And it turned out to be an interesting commute, if nothing else. On the way there, I had to go through a bank parking lot to get around a car fire - no one hurt, or at the very least the driver's adrenaline was still pumping enough to let her stand on the sidewalk and have a tantrum. A very nice one, complete with foot-stomping and gesturing, I might add. I was impressed.

Then I saw my running nun again. I just love when she's in full habit, surrounded by kids, talking on the phone. I always assume she's talking directly to The Big Guy. There's a handy number to have on speed dial.

And then I was driving behind a big extended-cab pickup truck with a "BABY ON BOARD" sign, two carseats in the back, and both driver and passenger smoking cigarettes. There was just something paradoxical there to me... they want me to drive extra carefully around them because they have babies in the car, because they would rather expose their children to second-hand smoke and damage them over time rather than having something happen all-at-once like a car accident. Gotcha.

See all these things I missed by staying home full-time? Isn't this worth the trade-off??? ISN'T IT?!?!?

Well, maybe not. But I'm getting health insurance in 6 weeks. That will be cause for much rejoicing.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Good Aim, Son.
Last night, we were getting the kids ready for their bath, which requires a certain amount of nudity and running around and giggling. They supply all of that, I just have to help set the stage.

Jacob, being in his tentative-potty-state, gets a certain gleam in his eye whenever his has been unleashed upon the world. So as soon as the gun is removed from the holster, as it were, he is barraged with a stream of gentle-yet-slightly-frantic reminders from his parents: "Don't pee on the floor, Jacob. If you have to pee, go use the potty. Don't pee on the floor, don't pee, don't pee."

So he was naked and running and giggling, until he stopped and attained a certain prayerful attitude that goes along with one or two specific bodily functions. "Don't p--," I started, but alas, it was too late. He had very carefully straddled one of Willem's slippers and let fly. Not a drop hit the carpet.

Willem doesn't find this amusing at all.

I do.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Clean-up in Aisle Two
I don't care what the calendar-gurus say. Yesterday was clearly the longest day of the year.

I woke up tired anyway, because I'd stayed up late Friday working on a sweater for Anni, a lovely 2-year-old who had a birthday party yesterday. And it came out cute, if I do say so myself. Of course, she'll dwarf it with her own cuteness, but I can cope.

Anyway, spent the rest of the morning finishing the sweater, and dealing with the fact that both of my children have apparently enrolled in a brain-swap program with the nearest School for Degenerates. I had asked Willem to go to the party with us, even though getting him out of the house and to a social event is apparently akin to asking him to run naked through the neighborhood. Much "I don't wannnnnna" and "I have so much wooooork to do," interspersed with my very favorite, "Well, I'll go if you want me to, BUT..." So when I finished the sweater at about 12:30 (AIS - butt-in-seat - time being 1:00 to make it to the party on time), I told him, "I'm done - so if you really don't want to go, I can handle it." His response was a lovely refrain which has graced my ears once or twice before - "Well, I don't really want to, but I'll go if you want me to." I repeated myself, and he said, "Well, then, I'd rather stay home. Unless you want me to go."

Now, I've heard this one or two or a hundred times in the past. He grew up in a passive-aggressive household, receiving personal one-on-one training from Queen Guilt herself. He just can't help it sometimes. And usually I roll with it. Not yesterday. Yesterday I was apparently due for a tantrum, 'cause boy did I have one. I cried, I sniveled, I fussed... it was wildly attractive, I'm sure. Certainly mature, if nothing else.

The gist of my tantrum was, (1) stop looking to me to make your decisions - go or don't go but stop putting it on me, and (2) I'm tired of feeling like the Cruise Director in this house - I feel like very little would get done, and certainly not things that would primarily benefit me, if I didn't either use "Here's why you should..." or "I'm asking you to..." If I just say, "Here's what I would like to have happen, but it's up to you to make your own decisions," then what I want doesn't happen.

Sound complicated?? It was. Lots and lots of words, endless words, hundreds of words. Interrupted by a long pout by me in the car - he DID go - and a last-minute spat before the party just to make us both feel as awkward as humanly possible the whole time.

The party itself was pretty fun, or at least as fun as possible for a 2-year-old's birthday party with lots of outdoor activities scheduled in the midst of heavy rain and thunderstorms. N. just organizes good parties, it's a gift. With darn good food, hip-widening-and-gluttony sorts of things... though I was able to console myself with the knowledge that she doesn't have a $35 Kitchenaid mixer.

On the way home, we passed through Manchester about 10 minutes after a major car accident - 2 fatalities, many onlookers and cars with flashing lights and so on. Amazing how seeing things like that help to put some perspective on marital spats. Nothing like having a good snit interrupted by reality.

And the evening was better. We resolved stuff, said what needed to be said and listened to each other and generally behaved like a grow-up married couple, blah blah blah. In normal times, this would have been rewarded by some form of amorous activity, but these aren't normal times.

For one thing, I still have the Alien Communication Device, which still makes me feel yucky.

And for another, early in the evening I took a trip out to buy some new yarn for some new projects - God forbid I just sit and watch TV without fiddling with something - and pick up my $0.01 shoes. (We'd bought shoes for the kids for Mike and Jen's wedding, and then both got different shoes for the actual event - they came to a total of $19.98 when I returned them. I ordered a new pair of slip-on sneaker type things, which came to $19.99. Hence, one-cent shoes.) Midway through the drive to get the yarn, I felt a peculiar twisting, fist-clenching, full-body-sweat sort of sensation in my gastrointentional regions. "Oooh," I thought, "That's not pleasant." I ended up doing a wildly undignified but high-speed waddle to the bathroom, and had the presence of mind to be grateful that I hadn't left my mark upon Aisle 2 on the way there.

So... not exactly in the best mood for amorous, or even mildly affectionate, or even marginally polite activities by the time I got home. Ah, well. At least we're not fighting anymore.
Friday, July 21, 2006
The Jaws of Death and the Running Nun
This morning, I started off my day by playing carseat-shuffling games. Not just for fun, though it sure sounds like a hoot. No, it was because last night my son's carseat tried to kill him. It was a pretty old one, because the latch on his gorgeous expensive Britax one broke and we haven't gotten around to ordering a new latch yet so we just popped the spare, emergency carseat into the minivan. I don't know where we got it from, I don't know how old it was - it met the basic safety requirements, so it was better than nothing. So I thought.

But last night, after a bunch of errands and dinner out, we pulled into the driveway and everyone poured out of the minivan. I went around to get Jacob, and discovered that his carseat had been possessed by demons. It's a model where this rigid, roughly triangular codpiece is attached to the carseat by two straps, one over each shoulder - you pull it over his head and then latch it into a buckle between his knees. The shoulder straps were having that effect that sometimes happens with regular seat belts when you hit the brakes - they would get tighter but not looser. It very quickly it became a case of Jacob whimpering because the codpiece thing was digging into his neck.

I sent Emily into the house for a pair of scissors, and was able to use them, Jaws-of-Death style, to cut through one of the shoulder straps and release my little prisoner. I haven't yet checked to see if my heroism rated a headline in the local paper for it. And I realized that when carseat shopping, I never thought to research whether certain models were known for Satanic possession. Another ignorant consumer enlightened.

So, this morning, I pulled the other (non-Satanic, as far as I know) carseat out of the Jeep and installed it into the minivan. And sprinkled it with holy water and garlic, just in case.

Then I got a free Coolatta! I just love free stuff. I decided to treat myself on payday, so I went through Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and ordered an orange Coolatta and a banana walnut muffin (weight loss efforts? what?). When I got to the payment window, she asked, "One muffin?" And I thought she meant, did I order several or just one? So I nodded, and she handed me the muffin and said the total price, which I completely ignored because I was paying with a debit card and don't even have to sign for it anymore (how dangerous is THAT? "Give me 37 donuts and a chocolate milk, STAT!"). Then she returned my card and I kind of sat there. When she came back to the window, she gave me the patented Dunkin Donuts whaddaya-want-NOW look, and I just pointed at my drink, which was sitting right in front of her. She sort of slapped her forehead and handed it to me, and I drove away.

It wasn't until about a block later that it occured to me to look at my receipt - and turns out, she had only charged me for the muffin, not the Coolatta. So, proof of my basic cash register dishonesty, sure - but how cool is that? "Free" is one of my very favorite words.

Toward the end of my epic 2.7-mile journey to work, I got to experience my daily pause while the running nun crossed the street. Yes, really. There's a large-ish group of children, maybe 15-20 of them, all wearing running clothes and bright orange vests, and a nun, in full light-grey-and-blue habit (black is SO "Sound of Music") with a nice pair of running shoes, running along with them. Sometimes she's on a cell phone. This messes with me greatly, but in a delightfully-befuddled sort of way, not in a the-carseat-ate-my-baby sort of way.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Stupid Aliens
I'm having some serious second, third, fourth, five-hundredth thoughts about this Alien Communication Device. Sure, sure, it's supposed to prevent pregnancy and not mess with a lot of hormones and so in theory I'll have fewer migraines, even though I feel like THOSE are under control and easy enough to treat when they happenl.

BUT. I am having way more pain than seems like a good idea for any circumstance that doesn't result in a new baby. This is not your normal average run-of-the-mill men-sneer-but-whimper-if-someone-even-looks-sternly-at-their-buddies sort of menstrual cramping, this is breathing-exercises-and-medication type pain. I'm not sure how long I'm supposed to just deal with this until I call someone or call the mother ship to come and beam me up for removal, or what. Ugh.

And, to add insult to injury, I've discovered that apparently having this device installed means that I'm also communicating with traffic lights. Because I swear that I never hit as many red lights as I have in the past few weeks.
I Know Everything
I've suspected as much for quite a while now, but I've recently had it confirmed: I know everything I need to know. Wicked smahhhhht, I tell you.

I started my job about a month ago now (so how much longer until it doesn't count as a "new" job anymore?), and for whatever reason they didn't schedule me for any of the typical new-job orientations or trainings or whatever. Which I am grateful for. Last year, I taught at a tiny little artsy college, one course in the evenings and never saw a single other staff member or secretary or janitor or anyone the whole time, just my 5 students and that was it. And yet I had to sit through an 8-hour orientation day with all new and returning faculty, during which I wrote my syllabus, made all sorts of to-do lists for myself and everyone else I could possibly boss around, and drew a tiny and intricate maze over an entire sheet of notebook paper. If it had gone on much longer, I'd have had a little pile of origami boxes and paper airplanes on my lap.

So, when I started here, I figured it was inevitable. It's a mental health agency which means lots of self-promotion and paperwork from each department, all of whom seem to believe that they are unique and memorable, and I'm a full-time clinician, so I was resigned to some interminable time in a small room where my sole function was going to be to try not to absorb every tiny little detail they threw at me. And I got an orientation schedule in the mail the other week - THREE FULL DAYS of introductions and reviews of topics like "how to do paperwork" and "how not to have sex with clients." Oh, you can just imagine how excited I was.

But then I asked my supervisor, Nancy (whom I *love*, she has got to be one of the smartest and most human people I have ever encountered in management... I wonder who screwed up to let someone like that have some power), what I should do about the Monday training. I don't work Mondays, so if I was going to attend the training, did I bill for that as overtime, or take another day off, or what? And she decided, nah, I didn't need to learn how to do Non-Violent Conflict Resolution (let's just pretend that it's because I already know how and not because I need to get Mace and a big stick to continue working here), let's scratch that day off the list.

Then I realized that on Friday, my regular Friday coworker will be away, so I'll be alone in the office. Which is fine with me, but if I'm supposed to go to a training that means leaving the office unstaffed... which is probably bad, right? Yes, Nancy agreed... and I really didn't need to do the paperwork-and-departmental-blurbs section of things, since I'm already doing paperwork and she can give me blurbs on whichever departments I need to know about. Which apparently means this one and that's it.

Fantastic. So now I'm just down to one day of training, Thursday. But it just so happens that on Thursday my department has scheduled a big meeting/colloquium/talkfest at one of the local hospitals, where we tell them what they're doing wrong as far as working with us is concerned, but we give them breakfast so that makes it all okay. And Nancy would rather have me there, learning more about what actually happens in my job, than in a training learning about medications and why it would be bad to kill a client and bury them on company property. Go figure.

So - no training for me. I keep telling Willem that I already know everything and he should just start deferring to me and saving himself the trouble (ha ha) but now I have some external support for that!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Welcome to the House of Therapy

Now, I'm not going to name any names. Husbands with reputations to protect and manliness to uphold could be embarrassesd. So let's just say that in some house in New England, the wife started out by being stupid enough to stay up until 1:00 in the morning because she had agreed to fold a bucket of laundry and forgot until midnight and hates saying she'll do something and then not doing it. So she was up too late before any of this ever happened.

Then she went to bed, and her husband was still awake, himself, having just finished some schoolwork. There was a brief moment of hilarity, and if I was less brain-dead now I might be able to come up with the topic. Something about those alarm clocks that roll out of reach after you hit snooze, and somehow combining that with those vacuum cleaning robots that drive themselves around the house... I don't know. But go ahead and giggle anyway, it was funny at the time.

Somehow, from there, the conversation morphed to Bigger Things, much of which has been brewing for a while, all in the general vein of wanting certain things changed but not wanting to have to ask and worrying that asking one too many things might just send me, er, I mean, the wife, over the edge because she's already so overloaded and overwhelmed and pathetic and so then who is responsible for whose emotions and so on and so forth... complicated and lengthy and confusing as only non-angry but fundamental marital conversations can be. Until 3:00 in the morning.


The up-side is, things were said that needed to be said. Without arguing or crying or accusations.

And the bigger up-side is that even though the wife overslept this morning and wasn't out of bed until 7:30, she still made it to work by 8:00... or close enough for government work, anyway.

And the biggest up-side is that as the wife was heading into the shower, she noticed that their son, who has been sleeping until 9:00 or later recently, was standing up and chatting with himself at 7:30 in the morning, so the wife headed off to work secure in the knowledge that no one else over the age of 7 was getting any more sleep than she did.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
They like me... they really like me...
Yesterday after work I had sort of an epiphany. I had a good day at work, I felt like I had done some good on-the-spot therapy with some people facing real crises, and they told me so. Literally, two different people said things like, "Thank you so much, you did a great job. You said just what I needed to hear. I feel better now."

Which was very nice to hear, of course. So why was it that on my drive home I got very depressed and sad and teary? I was really pretty surprised by just how awful I felt.

At first I thought it was just sort of a variation on anxiety at the idea of going home and dealing with whatever Willem/Dad/kids conflicts might be waiting for me there. But I thought about it, and no, it was definitely a sadness and it was related to my workday.

Some of that sadness came because three of the people I worked with yesterday were moms who were worried - with good reason - that their adult sons were on their way down a very scary, sad, unhealthy mental path. I could identify with them and hurt for them.

But I realized that most of the sadness came from the fact that in the rest of my life, I've been validation-starved lately. I've been so focused, either because of my own brain or because of things others say, on all of the ways I've been coming up short lately... the kids miss me at work, Willem has some sort of unclear set of emotions about me being at work (unclear to me anyway - maybe it's like crystal to him), my dad has opinions about everything and just because he hasn't shared them all with me doesn't mean he doesn't have a criticism or seven about the way I'm doing things, I'm still the New Guy at work so I make small but apparently crucial paperwork errors there, and so on, I can't figure out what to do and how to do it as far as my schooling is concerned, and so forth. All of the big important areas of my life, I get feedback, internal or external, that I'm not quite meeting the standards.

So hearing that I did, just about floored me.

I haven't figured out how to fix it yet. I don't just want forced praise or guilty validation, I want to feel like I'm actually doing things well enough. But I've been able to put a name to it, so there is hope...

(Gah. Could I possibly sound like more of a psychologist???)
Friday, July 14, 2006
Kitty is a...
...Kitty. Duh.

I finally asked Jacob, "Is Kitty a boy or a girl?" And he responded, with just as much derision and condescension as an almost-two-year-old can possibly dredge up, "No, it's Kitty!" He didn't go on to say, "Geez, Mom, how can you ask such stupid questions?" but I got the message.

Just for fun... here's the first meeting between Jacob and Kitty. Kitty is very much grungier now, but that's just love.
So Anticlimactic
So after a big pile of stress and anxiety and worry on Wednesday, I brewed and stewed and obsessed and anxietied all afternoon and evening. I rediscovered the hidden advantage to working with a bunch of therapists... free therapy! So I bounced my situation off my coworker, got some new and valuable perspectives, stewed some more, and then had a ten-minute talk with my dad in the evening, just letting him know why Willem's strung out and what my dad could do to help, and asking for his take on the situation. Which he delivered, without getting angry or overly defensive. And then we both moved on, and since then I've noticed him making more of an effort to chill out and not swear around the kids - hooray! So THAT's how adults do things. Huh.

I know, I know, in a perfect world Willem would have approached my dad directly and I wouldn't have gotten involved, but since when does family operate in a perfect world? Willem grew up in a family where stating your preference is right up there with vomiting in the Japanese prime minister's lap as far as social faux pas is concerned. He's gotten much better about telling me when he wants things changed, but he hasn't gotten to the point where he trusts my dad not to bite his head off and then play basketball with the skull if he tells him what he wants changed.

Sigh. It is so much WORK being a grown-up.

Today's my dad's birthday, and he insists and insists and insists that he doesn't want a big deal made out of it, birthdays aren't a big deal after you're 13, blah blah blah. I think it's really more his excuse for not meeting my mother's (often unrealistic, I grant that) standards for her own birthday wishes, but he keeps saying it and I'm kind of going to take his word for it. Not 100%... I'm still going to cook a nice dinner and bake a cake today... but I'm not going to obsess about getting him a nice gift or whatever. I'm not, really, honest. I swear.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
This isn't funny yet.
Someday it might be.

But right now I'm just strung out.

My father is an angry man. Has been as long as I've known him. He just sort of lives close to the edge all the time. I wish he was happy, but he's not and it's not something I can fix.

Willem is a good guy, but he carries the responsibility of the whole world on his shoulders. So he wants my dad to be happier (not so much out of an altruistic feed-the-world thing, but because if my dad was happy then he wouldn't snap at the kids or act angry so much of the time) and he doesn't like it when I say that my dad has never been happy and is not going to just wake up better one morning. Any more than he is going to wake up and think to do the dishes or mop the floor on his own. He's willing to do it if asked, but it won't independently occur to him. No matter how much Willem wants it to.

So I'm feeling very torn between them right now, understanding where they're both coming from and feeling loyalties in both directions. But the bigger pile of loyalty sits on the head of Willem.


The part that will probably be funny someday, though it is not yet, is that when I came home for lunch today, I was immediately regaled with tales of what a terrible morning Jacob had. Whiny and crying and tantrums, oh my. Both my dad and Willem had negative things to say about him (and guess what? My very BIGGEST pile of loyalty resides with Jacob and Emily, so I was instantly defensive for them) but my dad's discourse was (a) louder and (b) said with more certainty. Plus Jacob was already down for his nap, so I never even got to see him. So, a crappy lunchtime all around.

But I digress. My point was, after my dad's diatribe, I said something lukewarm and milquetoast like, "Well, that's what being two is about, kids have tantrums." And he said, "MY kids didn't."

I can't decide whether to be honored to think that I never had a single tantrum, freaked out to think that my sisters and I were that weird (because, come on, aside from those in a persistent vegetative state, WHO doesn't have tantrums sometimes? At ANY age?), or baffled to think that my father's long-term memory is that selective. I very clearly remember both of my sisters having tantrums... yes, even my even-tempered, lovely little Sarah and sweet precious delicate little Mary.

Honored, freaked out and baffled, plus stress and torn in several directions and tired and wishing I could just be home and not at work. Yippee.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Jacob and Kitty
When we left Darren and Kristi's house last week, on our way out to the wedding extravaganza, we accidentally left Jacob's Kitty behind. Kitty is his special guy - he sleeps with Kitty every night, and refuses to let us take Kitty out of the crib (with his knowledge) for any reason. Kitty-washings are an act of subterfuge, and Kitty does not even get to watch TV or play with the marble maze - Kitty is strictly a crib-guy.

But we brought Kitty on our trip to NY, and then during the nighttime acrobatics which Jacob indulged in, he ended up shoving Kitty down between the bed and the wall, so even though Willem did the requisite room-check, he didn't find Kitty. So we had to wait for Kitty to navigate the intricacies of the US Postal Service. Which Kitty did, and arrived at our house just in time for naptime, today.

Jacob hadn't asked for Kitty or seemed to even notice Kitty's absence (has anyone noticed the pronoun/name game I'm playing here??? I haven't figured out yet whether Kitty is a boy or a girl. I'm not a veterinarian, ya know). But he had the BIGGEST grin and the strongest hugs when he saw Kitty, and then during our normal snuggle-time before nap, he told me, "Kitty make me happy."

Aww. I need a Kitty, too.
New Hampshire: Live Free or Bite Me
Come to New Hampshire, for a fun and family-friendly vacation experience! You and your children can ride motorcycles without helmets, only wear seatbelts if it seems like a fun idea at the time, and not pay any income or sales taxes!

BUT. You can only play Bingo if you're over 18. Because, you know, THAT might be dangerous.

What's the emoticon for crossing one's eyes while sticking out the tongue? Because that's my primary reaction to finding myself being kicked out of a Bingo hall with both my kids and my sister in tow, because they have the audacity to be children. It honestly never even occurred to me that I was endangering their moral welfare by bringing them there... thank God that Bingo Cop intervened in time.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Plug Me In and Turn Me On
Every woman needs a certain special little appliance to brighten the day. It doesn't necessarily need to be an everyday-use sort of thing, but sometimes it helps just knowing it's there, even if you don't actually use it.

It took me 29 years to find my perfect one, but this past Thursday, I finally did. I've been a wee bit obsessed with it since then... I haven't been using the computer, calling people on the telephone, eating, sleeping... I've just been plugging in at the slightest little excuse. It's a little embarrassing, really, but I'm telling myself that if I give in and indulge myself now, the novelty will wear off and I won't have such a constant awareness of this lovely, sleek, sexy piece of machinery. But even if not, well, some things are worth the trade-off.

I'm talking, of course, about my new Kitchenaid stand mixer. This baby is just wonderful. I have already made cookies good enough to numb several key areas of the cerebral cortex and waffles that make procreation seem unnecessary in terms of sheer endorphin bliss. I am in the process of freezing ice cream which I am confident will be worth every tiny little calorie.

I have a suspicion that this will impact my home life for some time to come. Never fear, though... the mixer is too heavy to bring to work, so I can still log on then.

Thursday, July 06, 2006
Ain't we clean up nice?
Some of my favorite shots from Mike and Jen's wedding... just 'cause I can.
Jen on her way down the aisle... Grainy photo, I know, but could she possibly look any happier??

Mike says, "I don't know whether I want to have kids or not..." suuuuure...


(notice the middle finger... that wasn't planned, honest!)

Cool dudes:

My daring-for-me dress:
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
The other tantrum
I was also remiss in reporting my mother-in-law's tantrums for the weekend... I missed one. At dinner on Saturday night, out with a big crowd at a busy restaurant, we were all eating and most of us were even enjoying ourselves. Willem had ordered a Caesar salad, no dressing, and when I asked him how it was, he said, "Ehh, it's okay. It's a salad."

His mother immediately pounced on this, saying, "Well, why order it if you don't like it?"

He said, "Oh, I don't dislike it. I just don't love salads in general. But this is okay."

She spent the next several minutes spouting off a litany of salad dressings and alternative salad-toppings, trying to convince Willem that if he just found the right combination of oil and vinegar he would love salads, enjoy his life more, and come into sudden and unexpected wealth. Or something - most of us, or at least I, had tuned her out by then.

Willem finally stopped her and said, "Look, I ordered what I wanted, this is fine. I don't want dressing."

She persisted. "But WHY would you order a salad? Why not order something you really like?"

"Because I've eaten nothing but junk food and beer for the past two days, I wanted something healthy."

"But -- "

"MOM. Are you really going to keep poking at me for ordering a salad?"

She never really subsided with it - we just all left the restaurant to get dessert at Cold Stone Creamery, and then she got mad at us because we let Jacob run around and play (*gasp*) within 10 feet of the parking lot. Neglectful and negligent, I tell you. I'm really just a horrible person.
That's why they call them Massholes
I forgot to mention the absolutely fabulous driving skills we saw demonstrated during our drive through Massachusetts on Monday. At one point, traffic was comparatively slow, though certainly not down to a crawl. Maybe 60 mph instead of the usual 120. This was due to two tractor trailers, one in each lane, who must have been talking on a tin-can-and-string telephone or something, given the amount of time they insisted on staying parallel rather than someone slowing down to let the other someone pass. No big deal, we were moving, not a problem for us.

For the guy in front of us, on the other hand, this was a major life stressor. He was in a blue convertible with a big cooler in the back seat, and he kept switching lanes and leeeeeeeaning around to try to see past (as though seeing the enormous trucks 100 feet ahead of him was not sufficient information to fuel his driving frustration). After a while he relaxed a bit and settled into the left lane, directly in front of us. So we were able to enjoy the show of his obsessive and not-very-successful coiffing maneuvers. In a convertible. With the top down. "I just can't figure out why my hair won't stay in place." Not just a twit, but a pompous twit.

So then the left-hand trailer finally was able to pull to the right and the stopped-up knot of cars was able to pass. As our Convertible Friend was passing, he made a big display of wagging his finger and shaking his head disprovingly and pointing to his own temple in a clear "use your head" sort of lecture. Which allowed me to feel perfectly justified in despising him and any offspring he might ever produce. Pompous AND condescending, truly a winning combination.

He took off, but a little later we caught up to him. He was in the right-hand lane, sort of weaving around the lane and generally not driving well. We could see the back of his head, and that he was holding something in both hands, like he was eating or playing a harmonica. I said to Willem, entirely jokingly, "Oh, look, he's eating corn on the cob, there's brilliance personified." But then we passed him - and he WAS eating corn on the cob. With both hands. While driving down the Mass Pike. Fantastic. Might as well add some hypocrisy to the list, the guy has already lost his invitation to any event I'll ever host.

So, that was fun to watch. Always nice to know that you're not the worst driver on the road. And this guy did have MA plates, so he really earned that little endearment reserved for Massachusetts drivers, "Masshole."
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Let the Nuptials Begin
Long weekend. It started Thursday morning. I went to work at 8:00 to sit around and not have a staff meeting, because apparently there are a handful of responsible, mature adults and then there are the rest of us, and when it's left up to the rest of us, we'd rather sit around and chat than hold a staff meeting. Go figure.

Afterward, I went home to pick up Willem and the kids, they dropped me off to get the alien communication device (a.k.a., an IUD) installed. I learned that "You might feel a little pinch" is gynecological code for "BWAA-HAAA-HAAA." I never used that fancy Lamaze breathing in any of my trips on the labor merry-go-round, but it came in handy in the office there... not because it actually helped with the pain one little bit, but because it kept me conscious and therefore not falling out of the stirrups onto the floor.

Emily had her first gymnastics class that afternoon. As far as I know, she had fun - I had to wander all over town looking for the post office and barely made it back in time to pick her up. But she wasn't bleeding or whimpering when I got there. I take that as a good sign.

At 8:00 that night, we picked Willem up after he taught his class, and drove to Albany to stay at his friends' house. The drive was just delightful. That is, if your version of delightful includes two wrong turns, the brand-spankin'-new minivan being left in Drive during a gas fill-up, pulling out in front of someone so as to test their reflexes and the minivan's ability to accelerate, and then arriving at the destination at 1:00 in the morning.

Jacob woke up in the car around midnight. So he was awake when we arrived, and stayed that way until 3:00. He, Willem and I shared a queen-sized bed, which was plenty big enough, it just really interfered with Jacob's sudden desire to climb Mount Mama. I was able to doze on and off, but not much - it was like sleeping with a small blind man with poor short-term memory. Every few minutes, I had tiny little fingers exploring every plane and crevice on my face, some spots more enthusiastically than others. Bliss, I tell you. Nothing like a toddler-administered nasal irrigation at 2:00 in the morning.

The next morning we finished the drive to Rochester. Willem went to pick up the tuxes, and discovered that having measurements taken and writing "Size 2T" apparently meant nothing when it came to actually handing over some clothes. Jacob's tux was big enough for him and Emily, and maybe a few small woodland creatures as well. We returned to the store, and were told, "It's the smallest one we have." Wonderful!
It wasn't MY wedding, so I was able to stay cool, calm and collected, and just said, "Okay, then we'll have to go somewhere else."
"Oh, wait, this one might be smaller." And lo and behold, it was. Next time I'll just start out with the tantrum and save us all some time.

Rehearsal was a smashing failure as far as Jacob was concerned. After 4 hours in the car and then two hours of attempted nap at Grandma's house, he finally slept on the way there, so he woke up all disoriented and sleep-drunk. Would not walk, run, crawl, or fly down the aisle. This caused both bride and groom to repeatedly assure me, "If he doesn't want to do it, it's okay with us." Good to know, I'd hate for the fate of the marriage to rest on the capriciousness of a two-year-old. And while I knew that (a) he would have a nap on Sunday come Valium or high water, and (b) if he had a decent nap, he would be an agreeable and cooperative critter, I couldn't say that, because I just got the all-knowing and condescending suuuuure-he-will nods from anyone who would listen.

We decided to leave the kids with my mother-in-law for the rehearsal dinner. Willem and I barely remembered how to function out in public without having to cut up someone else's food or pause for constant irrelevant interruptions. We really should try it again more often than annually.

The first mother-in-law tantrum was with Willem Saturday morning, re: "Have you called your dad and told him you're here?"
He said, "No. I don't have time to get together with him, I'm doing wedding stuff all weekend. And we told him the dates, if he wanted to see us he could call."
[several-minute pause]
"Did you call your father yet?"
"No. I'm not going to."
"But he'll want to see the grandkids."
"He knows we're here. He can call if he wants."
[several-minute pause]
"Willem, have you called your father?"
"MOM. STOP IT. I said no. I meant it. You chose to get a divorce, now things are awkward, stop cramming this down my throat. Let him worry about himself."
He left for a golf game shortly afterward, leaving me to hang out with Mrs. GlaresALot.

The second tantrum came a while later, when we (myself, mother-in-law, both of my sisters - who happened to be in town after summer camp, Mary as a camper and Sarah as a counselor - and Emily and Jacob) were all at a mall for pedicures and random shopping. After a period of blissful silence, my mother-in-law announced, "I've lost 20 pounds and no one has noticed." What is the correct response to that? If I congratulate her, she'll disregard it anyway because it wasn't spontaneous and independent noticing on my part.
So I went for brutal honesty instead. "Oh, I've lost 15 and nobody noticed either." I did NOT add, "Pfbllghtt."

The third tantrum came on Sunday morning. She had been very quiet and withdrawn, which I was kind of enjoying but which, as it turns out, was supposed to be a punishment. Apparently she was not feeling well, and finally launched into a detailed and extravagant description of her bathroom experiences thus far that day, ending with the statement that, "If we hadn't gone out to dinner and then had ice cream last night, I wouldn't be feeling like this." This is a woman who has three ice cubes and a freezer-burned TV dinner in her freezer and an assortment of ready-to-eat kid snacks like yogurt and cheese sticks in her fridge. We have never actually eaten a home-cooked meal in her home. (Anybody remember 2003? Where she asked us to drive out there for Thanksgiving dinner which she then ordered pre-made from a grocery store and left it sitting on the kitchen floor, amidst a pile of cats, for three hours before it was served? And then I got e. coli and was just a little tiny bit pregnant with what turned out to be Jacob and couldn't take meds for it? Wasn't that GREAT??) But, okay, let's blame it on eating out the night before. Sure, why not?

The fourth tantrum had to do with the fact that I was having back pain (how DARE I?) and I explained that, "No, actually, I have seen a doctor, and we have a treatment plan in place for the next few months, until my health insurance kicks in and we can consider some other, expensive options." She hates when I'm not an idiot, and was only able to console herself by assuring me, "Well, a lot of doctors really know nothing about back pain, so you might not be getting the best possible advice." Thanks. And bite me.

In further consolation, she has FOUR herniated discs to my measly little one. I'm such a wuss.

The fifth tantrum (and, truly, five in two days is a lot even for her) started when I asked if she would drop Jacob and I off at the wedding, because she had agreed to come pick the kids up midway through the reception. "No, I can't, I'm feeling too sick to go to the stable so I'm not going to make any extra trips out today." Hmm, let's review... too sick to be maintain appropriate filters when it comes to polite conversation, too sick to drive the 15 minutes to go feed and medicate your horse, too sick to drive me and your grandson to the wedding... but well enough to pick the kids up and get them to bed afterward?? It seems that my confusion about this was irrelevant and frivolous to her. I guess it gives Jacob the chance to learn more about what can happen in the bathroom, no?

Only two more to go, honest. The sixth incident wasn't a tantrum on her part, it was just a reminder of precisely how warmly and fondly she regards my marriage. When I was getting Jacob tuxedoed up, I told him, "You'll be so handsome! You'll look just like Daddy!" I asked my mother-in-law if she had any pictures of our wedding day, and she *immediately* replied, "No." Didn't have to look around, didn't have to think about it. In her house, there are photographs of every other family event, large and small, that have happened in the past 30 years. But not of my wedding. Okay, then! Loud and clear!

The final snit came late Sunday night, after the wedding and reception. She asked to see photos, and her first, immediate, knee-jerk comment was, "Did she gain weight?" First of all, no. Secondly, shut up. Thirdly, shut up.

But in all honesty, the weekend wasn't all bad. Not even mostly bad. Willem had some good times with his buddies (He has a simply delightful story that involves aa bowel movement and a tree on a golf course - but it's not my tale to tell. For which I am grateful.), and I got to do a bit of socializing, myself - we went out Saturday night, with children, with Jeff and Laurie, and Jessi, and various offspring. We went out afterward, sans children, with Jeff and Laurie, and we were somehow able to console ourselves even though Jessi mercilessly and brutally stood us up.

The wedding went beautifully. I spent time throughout the weekend practicing the tux-on, tux-off maneuver with Jacob, and by Sunday afternoon he got it on without a peep of protest. We also told him that the ringbearing pillow was Daddy's pillow, "Can you go give this to Daddy? He needs his pillow." So every time we saw Willem all weekend, Jaocb handed him this pillow and then Willem would sneak it back to me. By the ceremony, wearing a tux and walking down the aisle were old hat for my man-of-the-world. I'm surprised he didn't stagger under the weight of all that cute.

The bride was beautiful, and my mother-in-law's jealousy and snottiness bore no relation to reality: she did not look like she had gained an ounce. Wishful thinking does not a fat ass make.

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and both my kids behaved beautifully. Jacob went home with my mother-in-law at 8:00 (lots of people said, "But he's behaving so well! Why is he going now?" It's BECAUSE he's behaving so well that I want him to go now. It's like Gretzky, let him retire at the top of his game) and Emily decided to stay till the end because there were two other flower girls to play with.

I chatted with two other fraternity-wives, and enjoyed their company immensely. I even enjoyed chatting with other of Willem's fraternity brothers, though not quite to the point of wanting to turn back time and live through college again.

Willem and I danced. Twice. This is two more times than we have danced since our own wedding.

So, a good weekend. And a bad mother-in-law. What else is new?