Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What do the Military and the Catholic Church Have in Common?

So we were at one of Eight's school's adult-only functions the other night.

These parties are fantastic. Nothing like a party run by Catholics, if you know what I mean. Let's just say that I wasn't drinking alone at the kiddie pool . . .

Anyway, a few of our friends started discussing a flyer they'd received in the mail from the church on the topic of "Same-Sex Marriage."

My heart sunk.

I seriously must be a masochist. I did run long-distance (track and cross country) in high school. In any case, I thought I had dealt with all of this twenty years ago when I got the boot from the U.S. Air Force Academy when they (and I) realized that I was a lesbian. Now I'm here again, intimately involved in an institution that, by definition, would rather the GLBT crowd not be hanging about.

I ran into the obviously-gay-but-not-out youth minister a day or so later at the coffee shop. He was heading out of town with a few guys, one of whom I'm friends with (his son's in Eight's class). I asked if he'd pass on to me one of the flyers and the usual conversation ensued:

Him: Oh, I didn't even LOOK at that.

I think that's how most people in the parish dealt with it.

I told him that I thought I'd go and talk with the priest a bit. I mean why are they now proselytizing? I mean, we all know some of Catholocism's dark-side beliefs, but many join anyway for cultural reasons or because of the church's liberal, anti-poverty roots. Oh, and the beer.

Then the other guy, my friend, said that he'd like to sit down with me over a cup of coffee sometime and discuss the issue. Then he basically concluded by saying that some Episcopal church is welcoming of gays, implying that we should just put our efforts there.

Alas. It's hard for me to figure out why I'm here again. I mean why even involve myself in an institution that is not supportive? And we're exposing our kids to this too?

Talk about self-destructive.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Big: The Diabolical Little Brother

So, before we had completely given in to consumerism in our parenting, we spent some energy putting off the American Girl Doll purchase for Eight who was, at the time, Five.

Big, for example, "brought" her a look-alike from seemingly inside the womb (or so she thought) when he was born. When friends of hers noticed that the doll she had was not associated with any official American Doll character, we tried to divert her attention (LOOK! A SHOOTING STAR! ala Lesbian Dad) or claim that this doll was, apparently, from a different catalog, but that only worked for so long.

It is not without irony then, that on the way home from dinner last night with MRM#1 and MRM#2's house (aka the Godfathers), he used this doll to torture his sister. This, ultimately discarded and unwanted doll, post arrival of THE American Girl doll. This doll that is usually used to placate her little brother when he wants to play with Kit, or when she has friends over and wants him to get out of her hair a bit, though he does all that he can to keep up with them. It is this doll that she uses.

So when I heard her wailing from the back seat, I had no idea what to expect when I turned around and saw this:

Note the casual way that his hand holds the doll's ankle while the doll itself swings precariously out the window of a moving vehicle and yes, while not the freeway, we were on a busy street.

Oh, and check out that shit-eating grin.


While attempting to squelch our howls, BioMom took pictures in the rearview:

The photo I didn't take? His sister's reaction.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mother-Of-Four on Drinking At the Kiddie Pool

MofF attempted unsuccessfully to comment on my post about drinking alone at the kiddie pool which I had felt was my bottom, the ultimate of pathetic. Not just drinking alone, but drinking alone at the kiddie pool. She pointed out that you can't know what everyone else is drinking there. . . She suspects one out of three have a little spike in their punch!

Ahhhh coping mechanisms.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Girl Effect

Check it.

BioMom, Esq.

So BioMom's work often spills over into the household. And no, I don't just mean the incessant fiddling with the Blackberry, or the travel, or the "Oh, I'll be home at 6:00" and getting home at 6:45s.

No. Here I'm referring to her tendency to see us as witnesses to whom she can depose.

For those of you readers who are or have been intimate with lawyers, you'll understand. Their logic is a bit funny and I can usually see where I'm stepping when she enters into 'deposition mode'. I know that when she's in that space that anything can and will be used against me, and that it does, in fact, depend on what "is" means.

But I get a little protective of Eight when BioMom directs her inquiries in her direction.

She'll notice, for example, that Eight's bedcovers were in the laundry or that she's suddenly changed her clothes after a playdate:

BioMom: Did you go to the bathroom over at [Sidekick]'s?

I want to intervene: YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER THAT WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! But Eight is already skilled in the slippery logic of the lawyering mind.

Eight: Yes.

BioMom: Did you go while you were at her house?

Eight, somewhat exasperated: Yes!

BioMom: Did you have an accident?

Eight: No.

BioMom: Why did you change your clothes?

Eight, pleading the fifth and remaining silent.

BioMom, persistent: Did you have an accident?

Eight: No.

BioMom: Then why are your shorts wet? Why did you change?

Eight: Well, it wasn't an accident.

BioMom: Did you go to the bathroom.

Eight: Well, no. Not exactly.

And it goes on. Being the straightforward one, I have to leave the room. I guess going to the bathroom does not necessarily mean visiting the toilet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I've Got To Admit, It's Getting Better

So after nearly loosing my mind last week, and a little bump in the road upon BioMom's return last Thursday (Eight got just a little sassy on Friday morning) BioMom and Mother-of-Four orchestrated a weekend in which I actually rejuvinated. So much so that I held it together when she left again tonight, precipitously at 8 p.m. to the chorus of two kids moaning "Maaaamaaaa.... Mamaaaaa!!! MAMAAAAA!"

As soon as I locked the door behind her, it was all drama, no substance. At one point I even caught them (in separate and unrelated incidents) watching themselves moan and grimace in the mirror.


Anyway, Big's sleeping is relatively back under control and my sanity is somewhat in tact, although I'm sure I'm 10 percent grayer than I was a week ago.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drinking Alone At The Kiddie Pool

Needless to say, the transition home, post-vacation has been rocky. I can always tell when my mind is full when I don't consider blogging, or when stories for this venue don't form in my head.

After tasting the freedom of "getting me out" of his bed on vacation, Big has been unwilling to go back into his crib for bedtimes, nor has he been willing to move into a "big-boy-bed" (i.e. a mattress on the floor). This has translated into me having little time to either work or to stop and breathe, either during the early afternoon (former naptime) or that quiet time between the kid's bed and our own. This, plus BioMom's recently heightened travel schedule (read: no relief) has seriously put my sanity in question.

Of course, every parent has been through this. No new story. But knowing that other people have lived, and that chances are, I will too, is not always helpful when you're in the middle of it.

Essentially, at bedtime, we go through our whole routine, I put him in his crib, sing a song or two, plant a kiss on his forehead and head out. At unpredictable intervals, he gets out over and over. Supernanny is in my head as I pick him up and without any fanfare, quietly put him back, attempting to ignore his pleas for "more songs".

This can go on for hours. Picking him up, putting him back, him getting up and out and asking for songs. At some point, my arms are sore, the sun is down and I crash in my bed, hoping that I've turned on the alarm so that if he does wander around, at least he won't head outside.

Unsolicited advice has included putting a lock on the outside of the door so that he can't get out of his room.

This feels wrong to me at some in-my-bones level. Not that I'm judging any of you that have done that. His door sticks now, and there are times when he can't get it open and I can hear the terror in his voice. Maybe it's manipulation. If so, I'm manipulated.

The other day, after hours of attempting to get him to nap, and focus on the book review that was due last month, I finally retreated and headed out front only to greet Eight coming home from camp. I saw her and nearly cried knowing that she was right in this moment, that he had taken all of my resources and that I had nothing left to give her other than to direct her to a snack, the television and, ultimately mother-of-four's house for a little playtime.

That night we all headed to the little neighborhood wading pool in an attempt to collectively wear Big out so that the evening would go a bit better.

I was the only adult carrying a G&T, and, after a few sips at the side of the pool, I didn't even mind the few splashes of chlorine that Big had added to the glass.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Irregular Monthly Newsletter: 31 Months

Happy 31 Months, Big!

On your way to three!

One short story, about which I could not even compel myself to photograph. I know that this sounds incredibly cliche, and quite unbelievable, but I literally looked away today, possibly to put something into the refrigerator, or to take out the garbage, and returned to you using your own excrement to draw on the wall.

I didn't even know that you had gone No. 2 (for the third time today. . . You're still recovering from vacation) but you had reached into your diaper and thought to yourself hey! How about a nice mocha-color for the kitchen?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Me and Cousin: Backyard, in Elementary School T-Shirts, Presumably Fall

There is nothing like a box of pictures to encourage nostalgia. For me, however, and, I suspect anyone who has lost family members, the nostalgia feels a bit like being blind, or at least looking through extremely foggy glasses, but without anyone to help clarify the images. Both of my parents are gone and, having followed their footsteps through South Dakota, with nearly the same baggage in tow (an eight year old and a two year old, as opposed to two eights) but a much more comfortable car, I would love to swap stories.

Instead, the pictures are like pieces of a puzzle that I can use to piece together my incomplete childhood memories (Cousin, by the way, whose memory of the trivia, and details of life is impeccable, is of little or no help here).

Back At Home: Old and New Photos

The following are a few pictures from this trip and the one that I took with Cousin, my folks. Sister-in-law gave me a box of old pictures, and I had a few, but not all of the trip from thirty years ago.

I can piece together a few similarities. I guess there are, simply, picturesque shots that everyone seems to gravitate toward. The first two are from the badlands. I'm in the white hat (I LOVED that hat).

The third is my dad standing at the entrance of a tunnel in the Needles. I believe the picture that follows is at the opposite side of that very same tunnel.

This last picture is Cousin and I in the needles, moments before getting lost. I know now where we were, but that is not where Big and Eight and I chose to climb.

Kids: Budles of Joy They Are Not

Cousin just sent me this NPR report from Bryant Park Project:

"Part of our cultural beliefs is that we derive all this joy from kids," says Simon. "It's really hard for people who don't feel this to admit it." Social pressures to view only the positive aspects of child rearing only make the problem worse, she says. "They're afraid to admit it because it runs so counter to our cultural beliefs that children make you happy."

Simon points out what any parent knows very well: Children, especially young children, can create lots of work and stress. "There are very many positive things that come out of having kids, but it's a mixed bag," she says. "They are demanding. They are a responsibility, and it's a responsibility that doesn't end."

And studies have also shown, says Simon, that parental depression increases along with the number of children parents have.

My own personal evidence is an exponential growth in gray hair. Of course, I'll never know if its the kids, life or simply age, but there you go.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Day 14: Independence

We're rounding out our trip now, at my second-oldest brother's in Nebraska.

Aside from about twenty minutes of hell, trapped in a moving vehicle with four people that, at the time, you wish you could walk away from and never see again as long as you live*, this trip, with it's 20 or so odd hours spent in a car, and 14 or so odd nights spent in hotels and in other people's rooms, with vast differences in climates, activities, and food intake (the one constant: alcohol) has been lovely.

Tonight, the Fourth-of-July nearly wraps up our two-week-tour. I will fill in blanks about the sights seen in Cheyenne, but I thought I'd honor the holiday with this post.

We decided to take the kids to the local park where the local symphony would play while we watched the big fireworks show, laying down on blankets with them shooting overhead.

It was a risk.

The music didn't even start until 9:30, the fireworks at 10:00. Big had woken up at 5:40, but fallen asleep with us until eight, but Eight got up with him. There was a big opportunity for a hug meltdown.

We got there early, with tricks up our sleeves for Big and Eight (it helps to have five adults, (me, BioMom, my grown nephew, my brother and my sister-in-law) to spread the burden, and we entered Eight into a pudding eating contest, and my nephew into a hot dog eating contest, to pass the time until nightfall.

The entire event was lovely. Kids roamed everywhere, and there were loads of different kinds of people there. It truly felt like a melting pot. I suppose it is just easy to wax cheeky on Independence day.

By the time the music began, the kids were running on fumes, but it was just enough to get us into the station. The fireworks were brilliant and choreographed perfectly with the music. Big learned the art of oooowing and ahhhing at the appropriate moments and it was topped off with a round of "There is no place like Nebraska" a song in our regular nightly repertoire.

At the end of the show, Big shouted: That's CREDIBLE! Dropping the "in" before "incredible".

We were home by eleven, and brought the kids right up to bed. Tonight though, we let Big fall asleep in our bed as we wrapped things up with the adults. Since our infamous Badlands experience, he's felt free to hop in and out of his crib at naptime and we've been doing that dance at bedtime where he hops out, giddy with his new freedom, demanding kisses, or more milk, or a swift-kick-in-the-ass (thanks Dad for the memories of that saying) before it sticks and he falls asleep. Today even, he took his nap on the little mattress that Eight is using on the floor of the same room.

So, yes, despite our misgivings about this transition (mostly for inconvenience sake) he seems to be moving toward a "big bed" relatively seamlessly.

Here's to independence!

*At one point, after Eight reached up to pull down the little screen from the ceiling in BioMom's behemoth (yes, we are those people who you drive past and have television going IN THE CAR. Yuck. I never thought I'd be that person. . . I keep waiting to drive by a van showing some porno on its little flip-down screen but no. It's just Nemo, Toy Story, and Cars. Nemo, Toy Story and Cars. Oh my!) after I had explicitly flattened it and ixnayed the oviemay, I actually threatened to glue the little door in the ceiling shut with superglue after she reached up to open it again. No less than 10 minutes later after there had been one too many fingers crossing that invisible line running down the middle of the behemoth, into the other kids' territory, I threatened to "pull over the car and make the trip go from six to eight hours!". Not pretty moments on the family vacation. Familiar, but not attractive.