Again with the random bits.

I am topic-less. So. Once again, a Friday Five!

1. Pregnancy update. I can feel the baby move now, and I’m getting BIGGER and BIGGER. I see the size as a mixed blessing. On one hand, being humongous has never appealed to me, and already I’m having an awkward time trying to give myself more room to slide sideways through the sliding glass door while keeping a ready foot for Clarkie in case she tries to make a break for it. Also on that same hand, I’ve started grunting every time I bend to pick something up, try to zip my non-maternity jeans, or tie my shoes. Or roll over in bed. On the other hand, at least now I am starting to look pregnant and not just overweight. Status of belly button (because this is important): it’s still an Innie.

2. Because I entered a past manuscript we shall never speak of again in the Amazon Breakout Novel contest a couple of years ago, I had a free proof copy from Createspace (Amazon’s self-publisher). So I uploaded a recent draft of le manuscript and made my manuscript into a BOOK! Not only is it nifty seeing it in book form, with a cover & everything (even an ISBN, which is pointless, if you ask me, because this copy isn’t going anywhere), but my printer’s broken and so this saved me from imposing on friends and/or shelling out dinero to get my printer fixed.

3. Husband will no longer be nicknamed “Husband” on this blog. For awhile now, I’ve been calling him “Homes.” As in, “True dat, Homes,” and “I don’t think so, Homes.” I am not sure where this came from, but it has stuck. Sometimes I picture the word as “Holmes” in my head, giving him a Sherlockian air. Does this make me Watson? I did read an essay once, an argument that Watson was actually a woman, so I guess it could work.

4. I cooked! Our CSA box has been heavy on the leafy greens lately. Other than salad, I don’t know what to do with these things. So I actually put forth the effort required to A) look up recipes and B) buy ingredients and C) try not to hyperventilate while operating the stove. Result: Hot Wok Bok Choy (say that five times fast) last week, and Collard Greens Sauteed with Garlic this week. And baked potatoes. I’d never baked a potato in my life. Decided to consult multiple sources – Homes, my mom, and the Better Homes cook book. I don’t know what potato out there can finish baking in 40 minutes, but it wasn’t mine, so we had dinner late that night.

5. Enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast put on by Z’s preschool class today. The kids even had cute little placemats and napkin rings they’d made. Food was delicious; I could have easily eaten six plates full. Should have gone back for more mashed potatoes and roast potatoes. There is something about the Glorious Potato right now that has me wanting them. All the time. That and loaves of soft Pugliese bread from the Nugget and tubs of hummus. If I don’t stop rhapsodizing about food now, I don’t think I ever will. So. The end.

I won’t be updating the blog next week, so have a great Thanksgiving! I hope your car rides are shorter than mine!

One Small Banana to the Head…

…One Giant Leap for Mommies Everywhere

So I promised I wouldn’t name any names. But I heard the greatest story last week, about a mommy who threw half of a banana at her husband’s head.

First, applause to the mommy, because the banana actually made contact (I would have missed and would have had to clean smeared banana off the microwave door).

Second, I in no way advocate the use of bananas as projectiles in domestic conflicts. And neither does Mommy X (like Madame X, get it? No? Whateva.) (Although, a banana isn’t the worst choice of things to throw.) (A tomato might be better. I’ve got ’em in spades, and some have gotten kinda soggy.)

Mommy X didn’t say why she got so angry she was driven to throw the banana. And it doesn’t matter. Haven’t we all been mad enough to throw a banana at some point? What’s important is that Mommy X was enraged. Enraged enough to hurl something at her husband’s head (lucky she was holding half a banana and not, say, cutlery). We’ve all been there, right?

The rest of the story, if you’re interested (and even if you’re not because this is my blog), is that the Banana’d spouse thought she was joking around at first, and he chuckled a little bit. Then he saw the look on her face and said something along the lines of, “Oh, I get it….”

So, confession time: have you ever been mad enough to chuck something at your Significant Other? Or (I can’t resist) – have you ever gone bananas?

What, you want me to go first? Fine. Yes. I threw my cell phone. But luckily Husband wasn’t actually at home. That was the problem – I was trying to call him at work and couldn’t reach him. I was very upset at the time, obviously.

I was rewarded with a new phone.

(For an interesting Parenting article, “Mad at Dad,” you can click here. And here’s the follow-up article.)

Any Other Name

She calls me “Mom Mom.” It’s kind of cute, I guess, but it’s what I called my grandmother. So it makes me feel like I should be calling jeans “dungarees,” complaining about the dry heat of California, expounding on the benefits of sleeping without underpants, and sending post cards from far-off places.

Mom Mom would absolutely love Z. As would my grandfather (plain old “Grandpa”) and Husband’s grandmother (“Mama Nona”), and so many other friends and family who have passed away. It gets me thinking, and remembering, and above all, hoping we can make these people come alive in our memories, so that she can learn about them too. I’ve never felt I had much of a heritage, because I’m a mixture of so many ethnicities no one ever bothered to keep track. Husband’s half-Italian, so we get a lot of through-the-generations-traditions from his side.

I think my “heritage” will have to come from the people I love, and I think I’ll need to remember them, find photographs of them, and tell Z all about them. I’ll need help from my family in remembering, but that’s what family is for, right?

And of course, we invent our own traditions and family culture as we go along, momming, writing, playing with our kids. It’s all (forgive the soft, poetastic description) part of the richness of life.

As far as my name, I won’t ask Z to call me anything different. But I’ve re-spelled my name to “Mamam” in my head. It has a European feel to it (“Maman” is French), so I can get on board with that. Especially if it erases those images of commando sleeping habits from my brain.

Yappy #1 and Yappy #2

*

Good morning. It’s 4:12 a.m. The neighbors’ yappy dogs have begun to bark.

4:12 a.m. and 15 seconds: Z wakes up crying.

4:12 a.m. and 20 seconds: The Ever-Suffering Mother (hey, that’s me!) retrieves crying child and deposits her into what can now be called The Family Bed (of Pain).

4:13 a.m.: Yappy dogs still barking. [Mostly it’s the dog with the higher-pitched bark, but the other joins in occasionally if things are getting too quiet.]

4:13 a.m. and 17 seconds: Z shifts and says, quietly, “Hold my hand.”

4:13 a.m. and 18 seconds: The Ever-Suffering Mother holds her hand.

4:22 a.m.: Bark. Bark bark bark bark bark! …Bark Bark Bark BARK BARK BARK…BARK BARK! Bark bark bark bark bark Bark BARK. Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark…bark bark…bark bark bark bark bark. BARK BARK BARK BARK!

4:25 a.m.: Z and Ever-Suffering Mother blink at each other in the near-dark. Suffering together.

4:26 a.m.: Bark bark bark bark BARK BARK…bark BARK (etc.). Z shifts again, impaling the Ever-Suffering Mother with her leg.

4:27 a.m.: Silence.

4:27 and 36 seconds: BARK BARK!!!!! Bark bark bark bark BARK…bark bark! BARK.

4:29 a.m.: Silence. Z shifts, kicking leg into the Ever-Suffering Mother’s back (back still sore from the previous night’s kicking abuses).

4:29 and 12 seconds: Ever-Suffering Mother balances precariously on edge of the Family Bed (of Pain), almost out of range of the Kicky Feet.

4:33 a.m.: BARK! (etc, etc)

4:34 a.m.: The Ever-Suffering Mother drafts dialogue for nasty phone call to owners of Yappy #1 and Yappy #2.

4:35 a.m.: Still barking.

4:36 a.m.: The Ever-Suffering Mother contemplates scenes of graphic violence to Yappy #1 and Yappy #2. Too graphic to recreate here, but basically involving firearms, poisons, and a spork.

4:39 a.m.: The Ever-Suffering Mother kicked again. Just punishment for her 4:36 a.m. Evil Thoughts.

4:40 a.m.: Still barking.

4:41 a.m.: Z still awake. The Ever-Suffering Mother still awake. Husband sleeps. [How? How? Must find out his secret.]

4:42 a.m.: Silence.

4:43 a.m.: Silence.

4:44 a.m.: Silence. Will it last? The Ever-Suffering Mother dares to hope. While perched on edge of the Family Bed (of Pain), the Ever-Suffering Mother puts defensive arm against lower back. Maybe sleep will finally come at last.

4:46 a.m.: BARK! BARK bark BARK barkbarkbark BARK…BARK. BARK bark BARK bark bark bark bark BARK! Bark…bark bark bark barkbarkbark.

4:47 a.m.: The Ever-Suffering Mother hauls suffering self off the edge of bed, finds neighbor’s phone number, and dials.

4:47 and 5 seconds: Silence.

4:47 and 30 seconds:

Mrs. Neighbor: [croakily] Hello?

ESM: Hi, this is ESM, your neighbor. I’m sorry to call so early, but your dogs have been barking for a half hour and I can’t get back to sleep [Subtext: you terrible person why haven’t you done anything about those noisy pests when no other dog I know has ever been so terrible they should be put down they are a blight on our society].

Mrs. N: Oh, I’m really sorry. Mr. N just brought them inside. I apologize.

ESM: No problem. [WTF? Why would the ESM say “no problem” when it so obviously was a problem? Her internal scientists (small, confused people that they are) continue to puzzle over this behavior problem.]

ESM & Mrs. N say goodbye, hang up.

4:50 a.m.: Silence. The Ever-Suffering Mother reperches on edge of the Family Bed (of Pain).

Sometime after 5 a.m.: Both Z and the Ever-Suffering Mother fall to sleep again.

For a too-brief interlude.

And the Ever-Suffering Husband, bless him, deals with both the highly-spirited Z and the highly-dis-spirited Ever-Suffering Mother as he tries to get ready for work. He gets up early every work day, despite his own lack of sleep, to deal with an either cranky or hyperactive toddler, and a cranky or extra-cranky wife.

So, happy Father’s Day, Ever-Suffering Husband!

*Because the Ever-Suffering Mother doubted the legality of breaking into Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor’s back yard and taking picture of the Very Demons From Hell Yappy #1 and Yappy #2, Z provided the artwork for today’s blog post.

Max the Noble

Naming inanimate objects has always been a hobby of mine. My favorite egg baby in middle school was Hester. I had a dust mop named Jorge in college, and my dwarf mandarin orange tree is named Frida. Most, if not all, of my stuffed animals had names, and now I name Z’s animals. She has a giraffe named Gerald, a penguin named Mr. Penguin (yeah, really stretching the bounds of creativity on that one), and her Duplo person is Guy. Husband named her stuffed cat Talula, and I’m jealous that I didn’t come up with the name.

I also have a clothes hamper named Max. He was  in the garage, on top of the Yard Sale pile, and I’d forgotten about him until yesterday when my friend Kristin visited. “You have an elephant clothes hamper,” she pointed out in wonder. Or horror. One can’t be sure.

Max previously belonged to my Grandma Marion, and I don’t know where she got him, or why. But grandmothers have a way of foisting their strange belongings onto their granddaughters. I still have a garbage sack filled with throw pillows Grandma Myrt started to sew but didn’t want to finish. When I look at the fabric patterns of gigantic, blazing orange peonies and kittens wearing Christmas-patterned ribbons, I have to wonder why she abandoned that particular project.

But back to Max.

I grew so attached to him throughout middle and high school that he came to college with me, and then my first apartment, and to subsequent apartments, until Husband and I got married. Now we (gasp!) shared a clothes hamper, and Max simply wasn’t big enough to contain our filth–especially since said filth collected for between two to four weeks at a time until we made a trip to one of our parents’ houses to do laundry (yes, even when we were married. We have a deep-seated and irrational fear of laundromats). Max was sent back to live with my parents, and we adopted an accordion-style, silvery clothes hamper from IKEA that I have christened Ugly.

When we finally bought our house and our parents brought all of our junk from their garages to our own, Max resurfaced, took a quick breath of fresh air, and then the garage door closed on him for months. (Anybody thinking of The Velveteen Rabbit? ‘Cause I am.) During a purge of old things, Mom finally convinced me to put Max in the Yard Sale Pile: an epic mound of…garbage, basically. But garbage I hope someone will buy, so that I can, in turn, use their money to buy more garbage.

Then Kristin mentioned Max, and I remembered our fond times together. Personified as a faithful friend, he held my dirty clothes for so many years, and now I sell him like the other garbage? I asked Kristin if she needed a clothes hamper, concealing the fact that Max was missing an ear. No, she didn’t need a clothes hamper.

But you know who does?

My daughter.

Max the Noble

Welcome back to the fold, Max.

Grace

By the time I’ve slaved over a pot of burnt rice and battled the side leg tackles of my toddler, I’m ready to chow down on the (unburned, new batch of) rice and curry stir fry cooked by loving Husband. Throw plates on the table, sweep dead flower petals to the side, plonk down a beer and call it a meal.

Fortunately we’ve already instilled in our daughter a deeply ingrained love of prayer, otherwise we’d be eating like heathens in front of an episode of Lost without any form of pomp or circumstance…which is exactly how we used to do things. What I thought would be a nice family routine of saying a quick prayer before dinner has turned into a breakfast-lunch-snack-and-dinner affair, complete with thanking God for the food and pretty much every single person we know on this earth. Oh, and the animals too. Our grace goes something like this:

Parent (either Husband or me): Dear God, thank you for this food.

[pause]

Z: Pop Pop.

Parent: And Pop Pop.

Z: Meh-nie.

Parent: And Melanie.

Z: Hay-son.

Parent: And Harrison.

Z: Gamma.

Parent: And Grandma.

And so on, until we finish thanking God for the grandparents, the cat, the dogs next door, Mama, Daddy, and finally, Z herself. Then sometimes we loop back to the cat.

The same thing happens at nighttime prayers. Then yesterday as I put her down in her crib for naptime and her eyes were drooping, she popped her little head up and said, “Gace!” [translation: Grace].

This is hard to admit in front of the Public and God and Everyone Else (including my mother), but I pretended not to know what she was talking about.

It sounds bad, I know. But her little eyes were practically shut, and she would have been wide awake by the end of a recital of the contents of my address book (and don’t forget the animals). Plus I work so hard to get her to sleep sometimes; if she’s already there on her own, I don’t want to mess with that. Sometimes I’ll go to extreme and superstitious lengths to preserve what I have come to think of as our Routine.

So I said a quick prayer for her, because I believe you can just say, “Hey God, thanks for my beautiful kid,” whenever you feel like it.

My Friday Five

A Friday Free-for-All

1. I really do love Sarah Dessen’s blog. There usually isn’t anything particularly helpful in it, which I like in a blog (as you can probably see if you’re reading mine). Hers is entertaining. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and sometimes way too true, as she is also the mother of a toddler. Because imitation is the finest form of flattery, I’m stealing her Friday Five idea and using it today, because there are too many bits floating around in my head. [Sidenote: if you want to explore her books, my two favorites are The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby.]

2. My friend and Birthday Buddy, Cora, is not yet a year old and she is already facing her fourth surgery. At least, I think it is her fourth; I have to admit I have lost count because there have been extra trips to the hospital not involving surgery. I bet her parents could tell you without any thought at all how many surgeries Cora has had. Right now, Baby Cora needs to get her nourishment through an IV, and hopefully in a few weeks she’ll have gained enough weight to be strong enough for the next surgery. I don’t want to share details here because a) I’m terrible at medical details, being so swayed by the emotional aspect, and b) Cora is not my baby so I’m really not at liberty to share her information. At any rate, please pray for Cora, or send positive thoughts to the Universe, or virtual hugs to her and her parents, or whatever it is that you can do right now for her. She is a special little girl who does not deserve to have to go through this again. No baby does.

3. Um, it’s really hard to move on from Point #2. But let’s try. Z woke up around 2:30 and could not go back to sleep. She tried. I know, because she was in our bed and I was watching her. Z has always slept with us, from Day 1, and this was a conscious decision we made before she came home with us. I think, however, that even if we hadn’t made that decision, co-sleeping is where we would’ve ended up, anyway, since she screamed if she wasn’t with me. But back to my story. Finally, after watching her flip and flop and almost ruin her chances of a sibling with some of her kicks towards Husband, I asked her if it was her diaper. She actually said yes. So I picked her up, changed her diaper, then rocked her and sang through our current lullabies twice (“All the Pretty Horses” and “Ring Around the Moon”). Then I waited a half hour for her to fall asleep in her crib, sneaked back to my room (hmm, “snuck” comes underlined red with spell check). The creaking floors must have given me away, because she woke up and I had to do the wait-by-the-crib routine all over again. I’m a freaking hero, okay?

4. I hit the Big One with the library hold list this week. Usually I get one or two books at a time–totally manageable. Right now I’ve got eight of them, all taking up space on an already-crowded bookshelf. Then yesterday: a message that five more are just waiting on  me. Here’s my list:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, audio recording (I LOVE this book!)
  • A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (finished on Thursday; I had the feeling I’d already read it though)
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (D-Chan’s been trying to get me to read this for years)
  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (MG book, random interest)
  • Accents: a Manual for Actors by Robert Blumenfeld (I’m terrible at accents, but so curious)
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman (author is a literary agent who has published numerous books and articles on writing and querying)
  • Gone by Lisa McMann (may as well finish the trilogy)
  • My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (reading now. Love her Werecats series. Unimpressed with this one)
  • The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp (hated the baby one, but friend said this one is better)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (might be terrible–who knows?)
  • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (ditto the above parenthetical comment. We’ve got to take a chance occasionally)
  • Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (I’ve been on hold for months waiting for Shiver–buy more copies, library!)

5. Although it isn’t official yet, since the “official” first day isn’t until tomorrow, spring is here. From the seeds I planted last week, the lettuce has already sprouted. The weather is warm enough I can go without socks around the house, and Z and I have resumed our morning walks. Everyone seems to be happy about this, and I’m wondering: is anyone sad to see the end of winter?

I’m barely proofing this thing in my rush to get it out. Hope it’s okay…. And happy Friday!