Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pickles are the gateway drug

When I was pregnant with Elle and then with Little A I craved pickles all the time.  I could not get enough pickles.  Then I got pregnant with the twins right around pickle making season.  I made and canned pickles while I had ferocious morning sickness and by the time I was done the very thought of pickles made me nauseated.  I have not been able to eat a pickle ever since then.  Even the smell bothers me sometimes.

I was thinking about this last night as I was putting away the pickles that I've canned this summer. Am I ever going to be able to eat pickles again?  Or is this just one more reminder that I was pregnant, something that I'll carry with me forever even though the babies are long gone?  It's not the only reminder I have of course. This latest pregnancy (especially) has left lasting marks on me.

Four months after the c-section there's still a large numb area between the incision site and my belly button.  There's another spot below the incision without feeling as well.  Then there's the incision scar itself.  It's not a terrible looking scar but it's not exactly what I would call pretty either.  It's six and a half inches across my abdomen and it's going to be with me for the rest of my life.  Luckily I can't see it very well.  You know, on account of the flap of excess of skin I have after having had my tummy stretched out so much.

I remember how big I got at the end.  I remember a week before the babies were born I was waddling out of the hospital after getting an amnio and a group of people walking in stopped me and said "I don't think you should be leaving!  You're gonna pop any second!"

I remember how uncomfortable I was, how I couldn't sleep at night or take a deep breath.  I remember how I had to sit sideways at the diner table and how shaving my legs became a major aerobic workout.  I remember the morning sickness, the hormone shots, the endless dildo-cam ultrasounds, the way I told Jesse at least a dozen times "This is it!  Never again!"

And then last night I stood in my kitchen holding a jar of pickles and I started to wonder.  What if...

I told myself "I am not going to start looking at surrogacy web sites.  Ok, I'll look at web sites but I won't look at the want ads.  Ok, I'll look at the want ads but I won't read the closely to see if there's a good match out there for me.  Ok, I'll read them closely but I won't let myself think that anyone is perfect for me.  Ok, I'll think they're perfect for me but I won't bookmark their ad.  Ok, I'll bookmark their ad but I won't email them later.  Oh crap."

I blame the pickles.

One year ago today I was hit on by a shoe-shine guy while on my way to get pregnant.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The visible spectrum is full on

Once upon a time there was a guy who loved rainbows. I mean, he REALLY loved rainbows. Like, he made sex noises when he saw them.

Then the Huffington Post took note of him and he became an internet celebrity.

Cake Wrecks even got in on the act.

Then someone made a music video out of it. A video that I have played so many times that my children can now sing along with it.

The moral of this story? If you insist on sobbing about rainbows be sure you're video taping yourself while doing it. You could become the next internet sensation.

Alternate moral? Crazy people are really into rainbows.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This is why I don't have friends

You may not know this about me but I suffer from a rare condition knows as Compliment Dysfunction Syndrome.  This painful condition renders me unable to give or receive compliments like a normal person. Of course it's a real thing!  I offer the following example as proof.

Yesterday Elle was at soccer practice and I was sitting on the sidelines.  I noticed how cute the little boy of the woman sitting next to me was.  I thought to myself that perhaps I should try to talk to this woman and tell her how cute her kid was.  Try as I could though I couldn't find a good way to start a conversation with this person I didn't know and had never spoken to before.  I suppose I could have just jumped in and talked to her without planning it our first but I know that if I had I would have ended up lurching towards her all Frankenstein like saying "Cute kids good!  FIRE BAD!" and that is not a good way to start a conversation.  So I just said nothing.

Then, not three minutes later, the woman started talking to me.  We made small talk for a couple of minutes and then she said the words that stopped me dead in my tracks.  "Your daughter is so cute."

My mind raced.  How should I respond to that?  The only two things I came up with made me sound insincere ("Oh yeah, your kid is totally cute too and I totally mean that and I'm not just saying that because you said it first.  For reals.") or like a total creeper ("Your kid is so cute too!  I noticed it as soon as you got here and I was just sitting here planning out the best way to tell you how cute I think your kid is!").

So I said nothing.  I think I sort of muttered a quick thanks but that's the most I could come up with.  I know it was rude and that wasn't how I meant to come across but this damned Compliment Dysfunction Syndrome left me able to give a return compliment.

Any advice?  How do I give a compliment in a way that won't make the other person fear that I'm going to lunge at them and start stroking their hair? 

One year ago today people in LA really liked fiber. 
Five years ago today I thought about the differences between raising adopted and birth children and Jesse did some weird first aid for a black eye.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The kids are all right

Joseph has been playing soccer for five years now and in those five years he has never scored a goal.  Not a single one.  The fact is, he's just not very good at soccer.  He doesn't have the coordination or the motor planning or really even the attention span needed to be good.  He doesn't really care though.  He doesn't care that me spends half of the game staring off into space and the other half running in the wrong direction.  For whatever reason he likes soccer.

In the past it's been enough that he liked playing.  All the kids he played with were kind of in the same boat.  They didn't really know what they were doing and they were just out there to have fun and try hard.  This summer has been different though. All of the sudden everyone seems to know what they're doing and how to play.  They're aggressive and good.  Really good.  In fact, Joseph's team has never lost a game.  Now in some ways that's great because Joseph feels like he's part of that, that he has something to do with them winning.

In other ways it's not so great.  Sometimes the kids on his team get frustrated with Joseph for not knowing where to stand on the field or flinching when the ball comes by him or for forgetting that he can use his hands when he's the goalie.  It's painfully obvious that his skill level is so far behind the other kids and they aren't always kind about it.  I don't think that they're trying to be mean exactly but they can be pretty vocal when things don't go their way.

As a parent it's hard to watch your child struggle and not fit in.  There have been plenty of times when I have wanted to march onto the field and grab those kids by the shoulders and say "Be nice!  He's such a great kid!  He's funny and smart and kind and interesting and it doesn't matter if he can't kick the ball even it's at a dead stop three inches in front of him!"

Last week my frustration with the situation hit a new high.  Jesse had left work for a while to come to the game and I knew that Joseph was trying extra hard so that he could impress his dad.  If he would get anywhere near the ball someone else would swoop in and take it away.  He never even got a chance even though he was running as hard as he could.  After another kid scored a goal Joseph tried to give him a high five and the kid ignored him.  "I hate these kids, I hate them all." I muttered to Jesse.

I even took it to facebook. "I know that Joseph might not be the best soccer player in the world but he's a really nice kid. That puts him miles ahead of some of the other little shits on his team."

And then, something amazing happened.

After halftime the coach pulled Joseph aside and had him stand on the field near the other team's goal.  He kept his hand on Joseph's shoulder and reminded him to keep an eye on the ball.  And the kids on his team? They kicked the ball to Joseph.  On purpose.  Over and over and over.  Even when they had countless opportunities to score a goal themselves they kicked the ball to Joseph.  Every time someone from the other team kicked it away Joseph's team brought it right back to him.  They yelled encouragement and directions and cheered him on.  This went on for a good five minutes, the entire team clustered around him, helping him out.

And then Joseph scored a goal.

I couldn't really see through the crowd of kids when it happened but I heard him yell "YAY!!!!" and saw his little arms waving around.  When the crowd broke up I could see him hopping around and cheering.  I watched the kids give him high fives and congratulate him and I cried.  Oh how I cried.

I was still weepy when the game ended a few minutes later.  Joseph came over to me (or rather, strutted over) and said "Did you see it Mommy?  Did you see that I made my first goal ever?"

"I did babe!  You did so great!  I'm so proud of you!"

"I'm proud of me too.  I'm also proud of my team because we all worked together and I couldn't have done it without them."

Waterworks again.

Joseph told me that during halftime the coach said they wanted everyone to get a chance to get a goal this year so the coaches are to thank for putting it into motion.  The kids are the ones that really came through.  They didn't have to go along with it.  They could have gotten annoyed with the whole thing and given up.  They could have used it against him and been unkind about it.  They didn't though!  In fact, in the game since then I noticed a big chance.  When Joseph stood in the wrong spot on the field the kids gently directed him to the right place.  No one crabbed at him when he missed an easy shot or let the ball go through his legs as he was playing goalie.

I noticed a change in Joseph too.  He seemed more confident, more aggressive, more like he was really part of the team.  I know that one goal meant more to him than the other five years of soccer put together.  He doesn't feel like that goal was handed to him.  He feels like he had to work for it and that he was just a part of the team that made it happen.  He told me he's never going to forget that moment and I don't think I will either.

And the kids on his team?  Turns out that the little shits aren't half bad.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In pictures

When we got back from our vacation to South Dakota I went through my pictures and discovered that the only picture of me was one where I had happened to catch my reflection in a mirror.  I whined to Jesse "Someday the kids will look back at these pictures and wonder if I was even there on the vacation!"

I'm never in front of the camera.  I tell myself that's because I'm the one that's always taking the pictures but the truth is I sort of plan it that way.  If I'm behind the camera then I don't have to show up in front of it.  Point a camera at me and immediately every tiny insecurity I have about myself is magnified by 1000.  I have a goofy smile, my hair looks funny, this shirt isn't very flattering, I haven't lost the baby weight, I need to wax my eyebrows, I'm so pale, I have this weird bulge where my waist should be.  The list never ends.

On one of our last days in New York we were playing together on the beach.  I was standing in the waves holding one of the kids hands in each of mine.  Each time a wave would hit us the kids would shriek with laughter and cling to me even tighter.  The sun was warm, the water was cool and the three of us were having a wonderful time.  I thought to myself "I never want to forget this moment.  I never want the kids to forget it either."

I glanced back up to the beach where Jesse was sitting. Where the camera was.  The little voice started up.  "I didn't put on make-up this morning.  My hair looks stupid from being windblown.  I know my bra strap is hanging out.  My hips still look pretty post-partumy."

Then I looked down at my kids.  I looked at their happy little faces.  I felt the warm sun on my shoulders and the cool water splashing against my legs.  "Hey Jesse!" I yelled.  "Why don't you take some pictures of me and the kids in the water?"
Twenty, thirty, sixty years from now no one is going to care that my bra strap is hanging out.
Or that my hair and make-up were not done.
Or that my backside was so large that Elle began using it as protection against the waves.

When the kids look back on these pictures all that they're going to care about...
... is that one day their mom played in the ocean with them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Even then

"I love you Mama."
"I love you too baby."
"Am I always your baby?"
"Yes, even when you're all grown up, you'll still be my baby girl."
"Even when I'm old?"
"Even then."
"Even when I'm really old?"
"Even then."
"Even when I'm really, really old?"
"Even then."
"Even when I'm really, really, really old?"
"Even then."
"Even when I'm as old as you?"

Two years ago today I added a chapter to Joseph's adoption story.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New York is awesome

So.  New York.  It pretty much rocks.

As you may remember I was a teeny bit freaked out about the trip before we left.  Then we went on the trip and it took me one day to fall in love with New York.  In the span of one day I went from thinking "Oh my god!  This is so scary!  It's so huge and overwhelming and I can't look anyone in the eye because they might murder me and why do I keep smelling urine and HOLD MY HANDS children!  Don't ever let go of my hands!" to thinking "I love this city so much and I never want to leave and I want to move here and get a dog and walk the dog all over the city and make friends with other people walking their dogs and I'll ride the subway and I'll take the kids onto the subway and oh, look how cute it is that Elle likes to hang onto the pole and spin around any maybe I should make her stop doing that because I want her to love New York but I don't want her to become a stripper."

I honestly don't know why everyone doesn't want to live in New York.  It's seriously that awesome. 

We saw and did so much but when it came time to move on to the next part of our vacation I was still a little bit sad to leave the city.  A little bit.  Not super sad because up next was Fire Island.  Beach house!  Ocean!  Pool!  Relaxation!  Baby time!  Sort of!  (There was a bit of a situation with the nanny not wanting me to hold the babies or feed the babies or touch the babies or even look at them or occupy the same general area as them for too long so that was SUPER FUN.)

The house was gorgeous, the beach was beautiful, the pool was delightful (other than a brief incident where I had to jump into the pool (fully clothed) to "save" Joseph from "drowning") and the babies, oh the babies.  Let me tell you about those babies.  They are 100% their father's children.

The Boy is happy and cheerful and nearly always smiling.  When he turns his head to look at you he gets an expression on his face that says "WOW!  I'm so HAPPY to see you!  It's so great that you're here!  This is one of the best moments of my life!  And what's this over here?  My hand?  I LOVE this hand!  Watch me stuff it in my mouth!  Isn't this just the BEST TIME EVER?"

The Girl is very serious and much more reserved.  When she turns her head to look at you she gets an expression on her face that says.  "Oh.  You're over there.  Hmmm.  I"m not sure how I feel about that.  I need to think about it some more.  Here's my hand.  I believe I'll chew on it for a while.  You may watch if you chose."

They are adorable babies and it amused me greatly to watch them ... from at least 20 feet away at all times so that the nanny didn't get too upset.

We were all very sad when it came time to leave Fire Island. I don't think any of us were ready to come home.  Some of us may have cried.  One of us may have wailed "It hurts my heart to leave such good friends!"  I can't take Jesse anywhere.

Now we're home and all that's left to do is clean the sand out of our suitcases, tend to the neglected garden, sort through pictures and figure out how and when we're going to be able to get back.

Did I mention that we really liked New York?

Friday, July 09, 2010

The one with the hot boys

I'm back from New York.  I'm exhausted from the vacation itself and now I'm facing a mountain of laundry, a pigsty house and a garden that needs several hours worth of weeding and harvesting.  I shouldn't be sitting down at all right now but I need to share one little vacation story with you.

We spent the end of our trip on Fire Island.  One day the four of us were on the beach.  Jesse and Joseph were out splashing in the water and I was on the beach taking pictures of Elle building a sand castle.  All of the sudden Joseph comes running up to me yelling "Why are you taking pictures of hot boys?"

Turns out Jesse had thought I was taking pictures of the (many, many, many, many) guys walking up and down the beach and he decided that the best way to address it was to send our 10 year old son screaming up the beach to ask me about it.

I crabbed at Jesse for a bit and then I pouted for a bit.  Then I decided I didn't want Jesse to have to live with the guilt of accusing me of something I didn't do.


You're welcome.

Three years ago today I took a sure-fire pregnancy test.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The "I must be crazy" Chonicles - South Dakota Edition - Bear Country, USA

Bear Country, USA

There are a lot of reasons to visit Bear Country USA.  There's the bears of course.  The many, many, many bears.  More bears than you can shake a stick at.  There's the otters, the leopards, the foxes, the peacocks, the sheep, the goats.  The list just goes on and on.  I think the real reason you should visit Bear Country, USA though is to see  the autofellating raccoon.

Bear Country, USA is an attraction that you drive through.  Sort of.  You drive through part and then walk through the other part.  I can't think of a good, short way to describe it.  So I'll just continue to ramble on about it.

First you drive (on a paved path) through some large animal exhibits.  The brochure we picked up for the park promised that we would see reindeer, coyotes, bighorn sheep, wolves and more.  When I decided we would visit Bear Country, USA I imagined us sitting in our nice air conditioned car and ooohing and ahhhing in wonder as all manner of animals approached our car like we were some sort of modern day Snow Whites.

In reality our time on the wildlife loop was equally divided between the following four activities:
1. Getting annoyed at the person in front of us for stopping in the middle of the road when there were no animals around whatsoever.  Then getting more annoyed when they would see an animal (like a sheep) and then sit there for for five minutes or so just staring at it while cars piled up behind them.
2. Ignoring the annoyance of the people in the car behind us as we sat in the middle of the road for five minutes on the rare occasion we were able to spot an animal.
3. Trying to spot animals.  "Oh!  Look!  Back there behind that tree!  I think I see something!" "That's just another stick." "Yeah but it's a stick that kind of looks like a horn!"
4. Trying to get the kids to see the animals we managed to spot.  "Look kids!  Look out Elle's window!  Right now!  Hurry and look! It's walking away, hurry and look! OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE SHEEP YOU GUYS! Um... never mind, that was a stick."

I guess it's possible that the drive-through part is a little better on a day when it isn't so hot and the animals aren't all hiding out behind trees and in their air conditioned break room.  It doesn't really matter though since the real reason you do the drive through part is to see the bears.  That's right at the end and they make sure you really get your fill of bears.  There's really a lot of bears is what I'm trying to say.

When you drive into the park they warn you to NEVER open your window and I suppose that's pretty good advice but I'll admit that as we drove through the bears I was tempted to roll down my window and stick my arm our and touch a bear.  They seemed pretty harmless.  And soft!  They looked so soft.
Some of them seemed kind of bored so maybe a new arm chew toy would have livened things up for them.
But mostly they seemed happy.
Or perhaps dead.  It's really sort of hard to tell.

So to sum up the drive through portion of Bear Country, USA.
Pros: no walking involved, bears aplenty
Cons: animals appear to be able to transmogrify into sticks
The other part of Bear Country, USA is the walk through part.  You, um, walk through it.  This is where they keep the smaller animals that, without the protection of their exhibit walls, would doubtlessly leave Bear Country, USA smeared on the car tires of the park visitors.

To kick off the walking tour we had the kids pose with a statue of the park founder.  Or something.  I assume that's who it was.  I didn't really look I guess.  I just like for my kids to pose with statues of old men.
Then we went and looked at the animals.  First we saw a fox.  It was cute and bored looking and (according to Joseph) invisible.  I nearly fell into the exhibit trying to point it out to him.  I probably should not have put so much effort into it.  In the great scheme of things your dignity is probably too high a price to pay to get your son to see a tiny, uninterested looking mammal.
Then we saw a bunch of other animals that I didn't take pictures of so I no longer remember what they were.
Then we saw the bear cubs.  There were like 80 cubs and if you want to talk about things that are small and cute and soft then you should talk about bear cubs.  Because, you know, they are those things.  We were all admiring the bear cubs when I spotted one that was sort of blond.
I came to the conclusion that this bear was not only an albino but that he was also blind.

Me: Jesse!  I think that bear is blind!
Jesse: Why do you think that?
Me: I think albinos are blind.
Jesse: I don't think that's true.
Me: Well, maybe not.  I saw Powder and I don't think he was blind.  It was a really stupid movie though.  Maybe just albino animals are blind.
Jesse:  I don't think that's true either.
Me: I think it is.  I remember seeing a movie about a bunch of little baby foxes and one of them was blind and I think he was also an albino.  He died because he walked into the ocean.
Jesse: ...
Me: It was really sad but I wonder why he was even by the ocean anyway.
Jesse: Let's get you a drink of water.

Then we saw the otters.
Me: I love otters!  They're like the prairie dogs of the sea!
Jesse: These are river otters.
Me: They're like the prairie dogs of the river!
Jesse: We really need to get you out of the sun.
Me: But I just really need you to know how much I like prairie dogs!
As we were headed inside to get something to drink something caught our eye.  (Our collective eye.)  It was the summation of all things glorious and wonderful and terrible with a little bit of porny on the side.

It was a raccoon giving itself head.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that I'm being a dirty bird and that the raccoon was just cleaning itself.  That's what I thought too at first.  But no, after observing it for a moment I realized that this was not a cleaning session.  This was a full on, head bobbing, mouth all the way around the you-know-what tongue lashing.  As proof I offer up the following picture.  I have let the raccoon retain some of his dignity by covering up his naughty bits with a picture of a patriotic hot dog.
I made that hot dog a lot bigger than I needed to.  If you get what I'm saying.

I tried to get a better picture but it was difficult between struggling not to laugh and trying to answer Joseph's questions about what was so funny and what did I mean I would tell him when he's older and why is Daddy turning bright red?

We thought it was funny.  The raccoon's exhibit-mate didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal.  Probably because he was blind.
I have no idea why everyone in South Dakota uses lolspeak all the time.

After all that business we headed into to eh gift shop to see if they had any blowjob raccoon souvenirs.  They did not but they did have a bear skin rug.  That seemed not totally kosher given that we were in an animal "preservation" park.  Although I guess making an animal into a rug is sort of a way to preserve it.  They also had a large stuffed bear that provided Joseph with another chance to practice his acting frightened skills.
Yeah.  Can't you just feel the terror jumping off the screen?  Elle managed to look adorably terrified.
I know what you're thinking (again) but technically the bear was touching Elle so we were still following the rules.  Phew!  We were able to retain our asshole status.

Having seen everything Bear Country, USA had to offer we decided it was time on to move on to some decidedly less cuddly animals.  Stick around because next time we visit with some snakes and Joseph makes a questionable fashion statement.  And, as always, flickr holds the key to more picturey goodness.

One year ago today google hurt my feelings.
Two years ago today I hated a commercial.
Three years ago today I liked Deadliest Catch.