New Beginnings

My landlord wants to move in with us, which is totally unacceptable. There’s just not enough space here. It doesn’t seem right that I suggest she find someplace else as the house belongs to her and all, so I’m taking 30 days to move my family out of the home we’ve occupied for five years. After checking out the rental $cene, my plan is to beg her to hold off on the contractor, renovations, and moving in for another nine months. She seemed fairly determined that the contractor come this week and so until I convince her that my bright ideas are always the best, I’m going to act as though she is serious about her move. At this point what that means is that my recycle bin is full to capacity.

In going through the ginormous piles of spelling worksheets, old correspondence, and outdated “to do” lists I discovered a box of letters I sent to my father-in-law. Rather than working on one of the eleventy seven brain blog posts floating in my head and in my drafts folder, I’m just going to reprint an update on my first pregnancy. I’m just lazy like that.

Subject: Asexual Alien Baby?

So, I gained a little extra weight. That’s is good. The baby is growing. But the growth came rapidly and my girlfriend and I decided to see if there was a miracle cream that prevented stretch marks — not that I have any. Palmer’s had been recommended, so off to Target we went. Looking at the ingredient list, we came across the substance urea. Sounds frightful, huh? We left the bottle on the shelf and went to consult our old pal, Webster. He told us that urea is mammalian urine. I’m as vain as the next woman, but I don’t know if I am that desperate yet. People keep telling me what is good and bad for me (my underwire bra will give me cancer; if I don’t have two eggs a day I will birth a hermaphrodite), and I wonder how good can rubbing a belly with urine be for a baby? Granted my sister-in-law tells me that it usually comes on powder form. I must agree that if you have to have hairy animal urine slathered on you, powder is probably the way to go. I have also heard of a convent in Italy where nuns donate their urine for such a product. Perhaps pristine powdered offerings of divine virgins warrants consideration. Nah, of all the things recommended to me, this is by far the scariest.

But this isn’t about lotions or potions, this is about my neuroses. I have plenty, you know. I went my entire life without a cavity and now I have one. This is definitely the baby’s fault. Doesn’t a mother suffer enough?

But this isn’t about my dentist visit, it’s about my OB Visit. Dr. Anderson says my uterus is looking good. Of course, she only looked at my stomach (thank God she isn’t into vaginal look-sees). She said that I could have a walking epidural during labor but wondered why I would want to walk around a hospital hall with my fanny hanging out. She has a point. She said that she doesn’t give episiotiomosectomies as a rule, unless they are necessary and not more than a centimeter of slicing. Mmmm, more fun. She promised that I will have to have an IV and that there are things more frightening than needles, but I don’t believe her. She supports the Bradly method of labor and delivery because they teach you about what is happening to your body, but at the same time she is a doctor and has her own way. Best of all, she blamed my weight gain on heavier clothes. You see why I think she is wonderful?

The kid is still kicking constantly. The other night the baby’s wiggle made me giggle. Mostly, the movement feels like involuntary muscle spasms but this movement was deliberate. I had Handsome Hubster do the laying on of hands thing and every time the baby kicked he said, “DAMN!” Being the generation that we are, we can’t help but think of the birth scene in Alien. This baby is strong I tell you. I imagine that soon he/she will pop out of my stomach via my belly button. Now that I think of it, I broke no ribbons at any of my bridal showers. I did snip one with scissors and my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law, you know how these extended families are, said that meant I would have a cesarean. Ah, one more thing to think about.

You may be able to tell that I am loving pregnancy. The weight gain, the back pain, the abdominal strain. For all this work, I expect some goods in return.

Oh and I did get some goods as evidenced here pictorially. I can only blame the pose on inexperience with mommy hormones. On closer inspection of my face it appears as though I just finished crying.

If you are good, I’ll post some other self-obsessed pregnancy rants. Maybe I’ll tell you about the time I was accused of smuggling a basket ball out of Wal Mart, which also happened to my cousin, so I guess it’s a family tradition and not so much a unique experience.

Dayna is a Few of My Favorite Things

Last Friday, I got my panties tied in a knot. If this has ever happened to you, you’ll agree that it ain’t pleasant. It’s about eleventy million degrees in the desert and any business who has a customer come in the door in this weather (and economy) should fall to their knees in gratitude. Okay. Maybe my attitude was skewed, but honestly the Universe should have been on my side.

Have you ever been into an Apple store? There is a culture there that I just cannot crack. I went to one such den of iniquity to purchase iPods for the kiddos at Christmas and, did you know you can’t just go there and buy some? Nope. You cannot. You can go there and order them online. Of course you can do that at your own damn house too and get them monogramed for free. Also, you might foolishly wait in line to buy those only to discover BUZZ wrong line. Also, there is a sign-in sheet, but you gotta know it’s there, where to find it, and what to do once you’ve approached it. I feel like a moron every time I darken their doorstep.

For these reasons, I’ve been delaying the trip to get my laptop fixed. Friday, I decided to bite the bullet, head to the hills, and get a new battery. If you think I could just go in and buy one, then you weren’t paying attention when I told you about the iPods. Nor was I.

So, it’s eleventy million degrees outside and I pack the kids up for a 16-mile trip to RichMan’s Land to get a new battery at the Apple store. I ridiculously wait in line with my MacBook before realizing that this line is a fantasy. I remember that you have to catch as catch can a, uh, what do you call them? They have a name, those applets walking around. They always send me straight home. Let’s make this long, agonizing story short to say, the kids and I embarked on our next errand – me still lugging the dead MacBook.

Next stop, the dry cleaners to retrieve the on-loan dresses belonging to my Fairy God Sister (I changed her designation as she is decades too young to be my mother). You’ll remember there were two borrowed dresses. Additionally, I dropped off a kid’s dress and a kid’s tie. The kid’s dress went in without stains and came home with rust stains. The kid’s tie went in with a chocolate stain, which I pointed out, and was returned with the same said stain. I didn’t have the guts to check Yvonne’s dresses. The bill for these four items? $47! I should have known to stay home. Nothing good happens in Hell.

I gave up on errands and retreated to sanctuary where I know loveliness awaits me. Handsome Hubster’s great grandmother Inez was a quilt maker. I washed and set out to dry four of her quilts. I thought they were in fairly good condition, but I was wrong.
Even raggedy, I love these fans both traditional and electric. That’s what I’m calling the designs. If you are a purist and want to correct me on the names, then I will require you to send me a handmade quilt, you quilt snob. I may just fill my house with handmade quilts. I’m not sure if you can see in this photo, but Inez cared enough for these beauties that she repaired them. I will find a way to honor her work.
Alas, the dry lines are near the alley by the car port. Once out of the car and en route to the back door, I ran into my pathetic garden. The death sentence of any living thing with the unfortunate luck to be planted here is why, Denveater, you haven’t had an update on my garden. The basil looks great, the hens ate the pepper pant’s leaves, the tomatoes died one at a time with this one croaking while I was in Oklahoma. Sad.
Through the house and to the street out front where we keep the mailbox. Inside, I found something that took away the sting of the Apple shunning, being taken to/at the cleaners, quilts in sad repair, and triple black-thumb death.
Dayna. Dayna. Isn’t that a lovely name? Dayna sent me a gift. It was completely unsolicited. I didn’t even pay her. Frankly, I’ve never even met her, but I love her. I love you, Dayna. Thank you for Going to Seed: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Plants of the Southwest*and for the encouragement as well. I think I will keep writing, even if I suspect you and my dad are in cahoots.

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?

My Fairy Godmother

Dashing out of town to attend my 20th high school reunion (I graduated early, yes I did), I breathlessly told my friend Yvonne that I had given up finding a decent outfit for the formal turned semi-formal turned dressier than church clothes event, which was, or could have been the first or second night. I wasn’t all that clear. I supposed I could find a cotton skirt or, uh, something not grease/dirt/snot/food stained.

Yvonne is a native Tucsonan, which I find fascinating since they are so rare. Her parents at some point in lineage were from Mexico. With her black-as-night hair, porcelain white skin, and splashy red lips, I can’t help but see her as the visage of 1940s era Tucson, although with four boys aged 9, 7, 3ish, and not yet 1 it has to be the case that she’s sweaty, disheveled, and exhausted at least some of the time.

In any event, Yvonne dashed into her closet, pulled a few hangers off the rack, and sent me on my way. MIL pressed my lightly rumpled dress and the 7 YO girl helped edit my jewelry for the first night. I love this BCBG dress. I’m just a breath too big for it and probably should have used scaffolding to hold stuff in. As it was, my pantyhose only lasted an hour or so before being stashed in Caddo Artist‘s handbag. The pre-prom photograph doesn’t do the dress justice.

Yvonne had me doubly prepared for Night Two. I forget the label on this draped-neck number. Also, sadly, I don’t have a photo of the bottom half of the dress and its soft sweet double ruffle at the hem. I do have this.

I’m sure I was saying something endlessly fascinating like, “Yes, I did so go to Norman High School. I did too. I swear to God we went to high school together.” Alternatively, it may have been, “Yes, I do remember the time I got involved with that ridiculously good crowd of smart, kind-hearted, and responsible kids who for whatever reason committed 7 felonies and 13 misdemeanors together.”

What I lack in photographic evidence of Yvonne’s excellent taste and generosity in loaned dresses I have in spades regarding shoes. Yes, Yvonne even sent me forth into reunionland with footwear more lovely than Cinderella’s. While the dresses and shoes must return to the owner, this photo of my feet with my sweet’s is mine forever, just as Handsome Hubster is mine to have and to hold (unless, of course, we have some sort of hard drive failure).
Thanks big time Yvonne. I would have been nekked and barefooted were it not for you.

Hubster’s Travels

Handsome Hubster went to Montana. He promised photographs. By the way he talked I imagined sweeping images of romantic vistas that reminded him of his beloved (that’s me), who he’d left behind. An image along the lines of …

Yessss. I imagine a picnic with pink lemonade, potato salad, coleslaw, and roast beef sandwiches. I can smell the beef now.

HO-LY COW! WTF? [Gag, wretch] HH, are you serious? When you were talking about the amazing sights, I didn’t realize you were referring to amazing sites. Though I admit, the bison jump and the bison kill are marginally interesting.

Not as interesting as the tipi rings.

Those are cool, but what I really want to see pictorially is you, babe.

You’re squirrelly, it’s true, but I want a picture of you.

Ahhh… so handsome, even in silhouette.

For the Hawt Voyeur

The Hawt Mz is amazed by Oklahoma’s beauty. That’s understandable. Peaceful contentment emanates from all who live there, including this guy.

One of my favorite things about Oklahoma is the generational connection. Irises were harvested from Handsome Hubster’s grandmother’s garden in Sulphur by his aunt who then sent them to me as a housewarming gift. Just look at how happy they are snuggled up to the house!

After moving in, we hired a plumber to bring the fireplace up to date. After a wicked winter when we lost a good bit of the pecan tree and the whole of central Oklahoma was out of power but not gas, it seemed like a good idea to replace the gas furnace as well. MIL found the perfect replacement.

Walking through the house on my first tour, I was struck by lighting. This window seat runs the entire length of the dining room and provides storage too.

Yes. It’s home. And I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

I’m Going Home

In September 1995 on a random drive-by situation, I saw a man place a FOR SALE sign in the yard of a cute little house near the University of Oklahoma. I arranged for my sister-in-law of six months to check out the place with me. I loved it straight away, but didn’t have in mind buying it. I did think it would be a good way to get Handsome Hubster out from underfoot while I set up his surprise birthday kegger, so I set up a date for him and his sister to check the place out. Here, you can check it out too:
See? I did not lie. The house was built in 1930 and has a gas fire place, wood floors throughout, and all the odd characteristics of an older home. When Hubster and SIL arrived at the party after seeing the house, a fifty eleven people yelled, “Happy birthday!” and Hubster said, “We gotta buy that house.” “Seriously, dude. Happy birthday.” “I’m telling you I want that house.” I looked at SIL. She nodded in agreement. Damn! The party wasn’t enough; he wanted a whole house!

Buying a home wasn’t on my radar. Besides, my new husband and I were flat busted broke, as always. What I didn’t know is that this home was picked up by a prospector for a song. The previous occupants, by legend, were fans of hookers and blow (that phrasing is for you Jacques, but it’s also true). Also, the house hadn’t even been listed so we sorta got in at a good time.

We put in a ridiculously low offer – $54.6K, seller pay closing costs and refinish the floors, retile the kitchen, mud room, and baths, paint the whole thing inside and out, and install new kitchen cabinets and appliances. That moron took our offer. We waited five months to close, but in the end the house was ours. I planted azaleas. Aren’t they lovely?
Yes, they are. Take another look. Green grass, pecan tree, cute as a button home-sweet-home. My mother-in-law lives there and takes immaculate care of the place. I look forward to seeing it again. I’m going home. I’ll let you know when.

Hold the Phone

I’ve admitted before that my parents were freaks. They totally own it, so I don’t feel guilty for putting it out there for them to read or not, because, you know, whatever. One way in which they were not much like other parents is that they only made rules about important things like telephone etiquette. Consequently, I have some phone hangups. For example, salutations are scripted.

“Hello. May I please speak to Populist?”
“Hi, Pop. This is Mom-a-Tron.”
“Hi, Mom. What’s up?”

See? How sweet is that?

There’s also:

“Hello. May I please speak to Populist?”
“Populist isn’t available at the moment. May I take a message?”
“Yes. Please tell him Mom-a-Tron called.”
“Okay, does he have your number?”

Shut up. Back in the day people talked to people on the phone or they didn’t talk on the damn thing. No machines, no computer generated voices, no status updates.

Right? I like the scripts, so don’t get all caller ID-y on me. What am I supposed to say when you answer the phone with, “Hi! Mom-a-Tron.” Because then I’m all, “Uh, hi. This is Mom-a-Tron.” DUH! Follow the rules, people.

My parents had other phone scripts too. Since people can only call between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. with an hour of cushion in case something is important like a 9:59 p.m. call that Denveater and I already ate so we’re going to Tracyland to make friendship bracelets, all calls received after 10 p.m. or before 8 a.m. must be answered with a terrified, “WHAT’S THE EMERGENCY!?!” Peace in the City and I had a quick ring code, so I sorta busted this one a couple of (thousand) times. Those were emergency calls though. As a mature woman nearing her 20th reunion, I’m much more fond of the restricted call times and more aware that John Stamos worship isn’t exactly an emergency.

My parents also insisted that it’s sick and wrong to call someone and chat for longer than it takes for an in-person visit. Come sit in my messy freaking house and let’s chat (no presumptions though, call first). Otherwise say what you gotta say and hang up already. Though by that logic Populist and I could talk for 39 hours and 32 minutes. Since he knows that I don’t like the phone, he doesn’t call anyway. He’s e-awesome like that.

The phone philosophy and resultant rules stemmed from my folks’ belief that the phone is an interruption. Maybe you were looking for a pack of smokes, yelling at your kids, or aerobicising while singing Karaoke to Rita Coolidge (you know you want to) when – BRING! YIKES! Holy cow, that phone is loud. I am supposed to drop what I’m doing and answer it all nice and happy like? Yes, because what if it’s important? That reminds me. Never, not ever, should you call someone or answer the phone at dinner time. Even death can wait until after roast, rice, and gravy.

Yup. The phone is a tool. It’s not an application. It’s not an accessory. It’s a tool. And if you are passing out my home number to someone who expects me to do something for them, then you are a tool too.

Refrigerator Art

When I was a kid, my folks never put anything on the refrigerator. Nothing. Not one thing. Not my perfect grade cards (pre-Freshman year, obviously), not my mountains of awards and certificates, not the number to poison control, not nothing. Well, that’s not fair. When I was about 14, my evil father (love you, Daddy) put up a chore chart that was supposed to be signed off by someone else after a task was completed. Usually my brother and I performed the work in earnest. Unfortunately Connie, who lived with us at the time with her husband/our cousin, routinely refused to sign off. The sign-off chore chart was a disaster, was therefore short lived, and came down revealing a bare refrigerator door once again. Soon after, Connie moved out, left my cousin, and became a lesbian.

I swore that when I had kids, my refrigerator would be enveloped by the pure awesome. Here’s a sample of the 9 YO’s work from last school year. It’s a Frank.
The 7 YO gave up the Anti-Rebecca club and created this adorable portrait of me.
And of course we have a ton of magnets to hold everything up. This is one of my favorites. The photo is crappy, so I’ll just tell you it’s a Loteria card of La Corona – because I’m the queen and you know it.

I’ve made a new addition to my refrigerator door. This one feeds my ego mostest. Denveater posted a FB status update for all to see. And of course by “all” I mean the funnest, smartest, hippest kids on the FB playground, desperate for a piece of her and unaware of my existance. Denveater has held an OSCAR people!

Ruth, I’m SO going to go food commando on you soon for this little boost. The rest of you, please don’t think that just because you were beaten to the punch that you can’t still publically exclaim my prettiness. Like me, my ego is always hungry.

Imaginary LA

The kids and I sneaked off to Los Angeles to see my step-brother on the event of my mother’s visit to him. I bet you didn’t even know I had one (a step-brother, that is, as I presume you assume I have a mother and was not hatched, though my father insists that I had been). In fact, I have FOUR step-brothers (only one mother). Most of the time, I think of myself as a baby sister with one single most awesome big bro. Through a twisted series of events, more twisted than I’ll ever tell, I wound up with four baby step-brothers. They aren’t actual babies. In fact, I don’t recall them ever as babies, however, they remain my baby-brothers — my (perhaps illegitimate) baby step-brothers.

The middle one, we’ll call him Commander Uncle A., married a fairy princess. She’s the Cinderella sort who works real hard and always thinks of others and is completely unaware of her nobility. If she knows it, in any event, she doesn’t show it. Commander Uncle A. and Cinderella have two children sculpted of utter wonderful. Chuchieness sublime.

As I said, the kids and I sneaked away to visit. Handsome Hubster is dissertating and may not realize we’d ever been gone, so I thought I’d produce some photographic evidence of our mini vacay to LA. If you would like to keep score on the potential for photo ops, consider:

  • My mother is here with her husband (who is totally paying for my most awesome hotel room).
  • I’m visiting Commander Uncle A., Cinderella, & two chuchies.
  • The eldest of the step-brothers made a few appearances, once with his photographic sweetheart.
  • The cousin of the step-brothers made an appearance with her significant other.
  • We went to the acquarium.
  • We ate at a diner & visited a quaint toy store with plastic-covered 50s Jetson-style furniture.
  • Commander Uncle A. & Cinderella treated us to a BBQ.
  • We swam.

And that’s pretty much it. Oh, but we also spent four or more hours on public transit. You got all that? Okay. Here’s the photograph.

Where I Won’t Live – or More Fun with Google

When I moved to Tucson in September 2000, I had it in mind to return to Oklahoma as soon as possible. Immediately, I noticed how unfriendly and often inaccurate the fast food workers were. In fact, the entire town seemed to be lacking any need to appear, much less BE, polite. The most egregious breach of etiquette has to be door infractions. I offer you, by way of example, the story of a visibly pregnant mother, me, trying to take her toddler, the 9 YO boy, to see his dad, Handsome Hubster. I did have a stroller laden with a year’s supply of Cheerios, three types of sunscreen, woobies, and various sundries. In other words, anyone looking my way could tell I had my hands full. Reaching past my overly ripe belly, I opened the door to the Hubster’s building, braced it open with my foot, struggled to reorient the stroller toward the door, and then stood by waiting for my uterus to drop as three or four people entered by way of the door I had just opened. Don’t get me started on the Tucson Mommie Cliques. Yes, that’s a proper noun because I have aptly named them.

At first, my only friends were the cold and distant authors of parenting books and illegal cable. Over time I singled out a few friends. Like Robyn! She’s a great friend who I met here. Of course, she’s from Kansas by way of Oklahoma, so…. Okay, Robyn doesn’t count and she’s leaving me to follow her Ph.D. hubby anyway (YAY or BOO depending). I’ve also found some solid community resources. Like Allegro! Oops. The co-founder, as I think I’ve mentioned, is from Oklahoma, so…. At least Todd is always by our side and, yes, he’s from Oklahoma too.

Unapparently, I’m trying to make the point that I’m not ready to move and Oklahoma may not even be an option. The stick whipping my donkey ass whist I bite at the dangling carrot of fulfilling the Handsome Hubster’s graduation goal. I know it’s a sentence fragment. Pretend it goes with the previous sentence. Last year I was chastised for obsessing about the move by my favorite Cuban mother. See? Not all my friends are from Oklahoma, though she’s more Oklahoman by behavior than she is Tucsonan. I take her advice more to heart than I do most people. Except you, of course. She doesn’t even read my blog.

Once I quit dreaming about the move back to Oklahoma, I quit wanting to go there or anywhere else. Suddenly, great things about Tucson revealed themselves. For example, while their hearts are sometimes closed to pregnant mothers opening doors, their minds are open. You can move in any social circle regardless of your political party, religion, or background. It’s not perfect, but no place is.

Today I took the newly 7 YO girl to watch the Hannah Montana* movie at the cheap theater. Don’t judge me! I don’t know about the movie, story, or acting, but the scenery called to me. Large fields, large rooms, large people – OH! I don’t by any means mean fat. I mean people who treat you good. I mean big fat embraces with no pretense. There’s no need to network because everyone is already together.

Robyn told me that she thought I had grown since moving here. I hope so! My desires for my children to live with a robust family and community life have lit a fire under this otherwise stationary ass. It’s a different carrot and a different whip that forced me to try to be the idealized me. I’m not even close yet, but have a stronger identity as a parent than at any other station in my life.

On this I mulled as we watched the movie and when Hannah revealed her secret identity and the 7 YO girl reached over to hold my hand, I wanted to cry. I sure am proud when my kids have recitals, when they get good school reports, when they look cute in their church clothes, but when they show empathy revealing they aren’t automatons, well, then I’m a waste case.

She let go of my hand about the time the small hometown of Miley shoves her back into the closet with the refrain, “Put back on the wig!” I realized, I can’t live in a place where I have to wear a wig (getting to wear a wig is another story all together). Maybe that means I can never live in Oklahoma. I don’t need people to agree with, but I do need people to talk to. I need open minds and open hearts. Considering the lack of diversity in voting the past few years and the gun provision inserted by an Oklahoman into the credit card bill, I just don’t think the doors of acceptance will be open in the same ways for myself and my other non-wig wearing friends. Then again that all happened in a movie and not in Oklahoma (the put back on your wig stuff – obviously the rest is a matter of record).

Per popular vote (all Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs of you), where won’t I live? I turn to Analytics for help.

If I take a world view, I have to live in the USA. All my blog friends are here, however, Australia beckons too as does India and Canada. I’m working on the Hubster pursuing an international locale. It’s sorta like, “If I can’t live here, then I’m taking my marbles and leaving.” I would never advocate that with my kids though, so…. Okay, looking in this country. I have no peeps in the North, so forget you Fargo! Sadly, my brother in Louisiana isn’t reading nor the family in the Free State of Jones County Mississippi nor my great aunt in Alabama. I won’t be moving near ya’ll. At one point I thought Missouri or Arkansas might be good locales, but again, they aren’t clicking me and won’t be getting me. Yes, my adoring fans are all in Arizona followed by Oklahoma and then Connecticut. Hi, Max!

The stats aren’t fair though. When I changed my blog layout, I forgot to add back in the Analytics code so I wasn’t getting data for like a week (that “like” was dedicated to Peggy, Joe, and Ruth). OH! It was horrid to see days of zero hits. I thought I had offended and how would I win all eight of you back? But then I got my code and, ahhhhh. Much better. So, I took a year view of my stats and saw that I really can live anywhere within the USA – except Rhode Island. Hey, RI! YOU SUCK!

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?