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Monday, October 29, 2007

Holy Moly! My blog is exactly 150 pages long!!! That’s 150 pages of nonsense and non-importance written by yours truly since…let’s see…the first entry was made on March 15th, 2006 at 9:22am it says: “Testing...testing with this ridiculously slow hospital internet connection. Can I be a bed rest blogger?!” Wow. History in the making. Famous first words. And those first words set the tone. Some of the words that jump out there are on themes of the ridiculous, the slow, the self-doubting. Fascinating, indeed. Foreshadowing, perhaps? I’ll let my readers be the judge.

Well, I can report that I would’ve enjoyed more time spent in bed this last week. I had a wonderful week despite having a cold. Somehow, my social calendar exploded and I did more in the last seven days than I’ve done in—maybe the last seven months! On Friday night, my dear friend Larissa (she’s my designated Mormon friend – everyone should have one – they’re grrrreat!) picked me up for Karaoke to celebrate her birthday. She arrived at 8:15 – at 8:07, I was upstairs holding the puke bucket for Matthew while he filled it, meanwhile Mike was downstairs with our visiting little pal Joshua (2 ½ yrs. old) who was sobbing for his parents and wondering why his parents would abandon him in such a crazy place. By 8:12, I was looking like total Hotness and was ready to roll. Mike shooed me out the door with reassurances that he’d be fine holding down the pukey, sobby fort and I should go out and have fun. I did. I TOTALLY did.

I was a little concerned with how my cold-inflicted hoarse voice would hold up in Karaoke. I need not have worried: a.) I’m a Karaoke Queen regardless of any temporary vocal handicap and b.) I could have been completely hoarse and tone deaf and still would’ve sounded better than the drunken peoples who always seem to find themselves singing solo after solo at Karaoke bars. And why do they think they sound amazing? And then the more they drink the worse it gets because at least before they could read the words, now they’re just slurring nonsense in a cat-yowly way. It’s sad. But definitely an ego-booster. Hey! I didn’t even mind the sleazy middle-aged men hitting on us and asking our table to sing back-up for them on their next solo. And come on! Who wouldn’t want four mom/housewives: three Mormons and a Catholic, all choir girls standing up there with them?! We were so ready for a good time, we may have done just about anything (well, anything that three married Mormon women and a Catholic would do, and quite frankly, that’s a limited list).

The next fun evening was seeing a show in Seattle with Rachel – Rachel my friend from childhood who has been a part of my life since first grade; Rachel who still loves me despite knowing me in fifth grade when I had a mullet and serious chub-issues; Rachel who forgives me for all the times that I repeatedly chose Jenna Petrie over her; Rachel who introduced me to the Beatles, Dean Cain (of “Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman”), and now…Josh Ritter. According to the reviewest (reviewee, hmm, I think it’s actually reviewer) Andrew Bartlett, “You're presently reading about what may be the best album of 2007 [The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter], hands down, by the most under-accorded American musical genius. Real murmurs, believable ones, came with Josh Ritter's 2006 album, Animal Year, suggesting that the Idahoan is today's Bruce Springsteen, today's Bob Dylan.” That’s exactly how I’d describe him: Bob Dylan meets Jon Mayer. (But way cuter). Josh’s voice (yes, Josh – yes, I do feel as though we’re on a first name basis) is ridiculously versatile and I feel like when I’m listening to his albums there are several different singers – but no, it’s just him; it’s Josh (with some back-up harmonies to boot).

The concert was SO fun. Rachel –has been a Josh fan for a while and was ECSTATIC to see him and was intrigued to see what his concert-attending crowd would be like. After some study, we determined that most Josh Ritter fans are Gruppies – Granola Yuppies. (For education purposes, I found this definition of Granola in the Urban Dictionary: A person who dresses like a hippy, eats natural foods (granola), and is usually a Liberal, but in all other ways is a typical middle class white person, and is likely to revert back to being straight when they finish college. And Yuppie is: Informal for (y)oung (U)rban (P)rofessional, or Yup. turned into yuppie in the 1980's. A term used to describe someone who is young, possibly just out of college, and who has a high-paying job and an affluent lifestyle. Can now be used to describe any rich person who is not modest about their financial status.) So, essentially we were surrounded by natural food eating, well-dressed Liberal folks. It was actually a really fun crowd – ranging from young single people to married couples (sometimes referred to ala Bridget Jones’ as the Smug Marrieds – I am not one of those. Or at least HOPE that I’m not)! Smug Marrieds get married and then they’re all bijiggity with their single friends who have yet to be wed. Anyway, back to the show – it was fantastic and so much fun. It was also Josh’s birthday and his mom surprised him on stage with a cupcake (that he proceeded to eat candle and all. Hmm….) and then cupcakes were passed through the crowd. I don’t think that I elbowed too many people to snag a chocolate one. It was, as Matthew would say, mighty perfection.

Tuesday night was book club night. We had fun – as always. I left hoarse – as always (no, more from my cold then from overextending my vocal chords. My vocal chords are, in gym muscle-meat-head terms, ripped and tight. My vocal chords get worked out so much they could bench press 250). The sad, tale of woe of our book club is that one of our girls, Kelly, is moving to New York for at least a year. Kelly and her husband Tim are major world travelers and have been all over the stinkin’ globe, so we weren’t too surprised with the news that they’d be abandoning us. I am surprised they’re going somewhere as tame and civilized as New York though. They have such an adventuring spirit; I thought they would’ve moved to somewhere like Zimbabwe. New York is a little closer, and we all like toying with the idea of Kelly’s turn to host book club. Girls weekend in NY, anyone?! We’ll miss her and we promised – at her request – not to replace her with an imitation Kelly – maybe another Asian girl named Kelsey or something. There is only one Kelly Chow-Sale after all and she is irreplaceable!

Thursday night was the night that all the other nights were in training for. Thursday was Celebrate My Gay Ex-Boyfriend’s 30th Birthday Night! Yes, Brian from high school – my good pal Brian – who is now also married to a man named Michael (didn’t see that one coming…) was having a big ‘ol shindig for his big 3-0 and I was going to go! I invited Rebecca to come with me to do a combo celebration and girls’ night out kind-of deal. When I forwarded the invite on to Rebecca, she left me the funniest voice message: “Oh my gosh, Jenny!! My gay ex-boyfriend is also invited to this party!” Turns out her gay ex-boyfriend (apparently a lot of us have them) just so happens to be Joe – the best friend of Brian and with whom I was quite good friends in high school! Crazy. So, squeezing into the jeans that are a little too tight (but are cute) and the shoes that hurt a little too bad (but are cute), we – two stay-at-home-hot-mamas – ventured out to a brewery on Capital Hill to party with our gay ex-boyfriends. It was a most entertaining evening indeed….to be continued. (Ha! What a tease)!

Friday, October 19, 2007

There is something new and magical in my life that I have not even discussed yet. Wine. It’s wine. While I’m not new to drinking wine or even enjoying it, what’s new and magical in my life, is that I’ve decided that I deserve wine. And not just when we have friends over for dinner. I’ve decided that I deserve a glass of wine on weeknights. On say, a Wednesday night, when we’re having leftovers for dinner; I deserve a glass of wine. On Mondays, when Mike comes home late after his class and I’ve been on my own with the boys; I deserve a glass of wine. On Fridays after a teaching music classes in the morning and having a busy afternoon; I deserve a glass of wine. Maybe even on a Tuesday or Thursday, I…well, you get the point. No worries, I’m not turning into a complete wine-o; I’m just following Oprah’s rules and helping myself to extra antioxidants every now and then. (Extra – because I do receive antioxidants every morning in my dark chocolate dose with my cuppa coffee).
My dear friend from book club was the first one to introduce this idea and inspire me to aspire to more wine-drinking. I’m just trying to do her proud. Molly enjoys a glass nearly every night at 5pm. She’s told the humorous tale of, after a rough day with the kidlets, standing in the kitchen, drumming her fingers on the counter as the clock slowly inched on: 4:56…4:57…4:58…She had a conversation with her sister about this habit, admitting that she has a glass of wine at 5pm, every night. Molly’s sister responded with, “Oh! Just one? I have one while I’m making dinner and then one with dinner!” The sisters realize that they’re both doing exactly what their mom always does, and what Oprah recommends – can it really be that bad?!
So, as you can see, I’m already faced with the guilt. Can I really do that?! Can I really open a bottle of wine when we don’t have company over, and it’s not even the weekend?! And my main fear of all: if I plan on making this a nightly – well, a couple times a week, anyway – habit, does that mean that, in order to be semi-frugal about this, I need to start buying the box ‘o wine complete with spigot?
No, says Molly. Not at all. See, Molly – I love as a friend because (and not only because of this), before being a stay-at-home Mom, was a middle school math teacher! I never thought that I’d be friends with someone who chose to do Math for a living. (Then, again, I’m married to a double major in Computer Science and Applied Computational Mathematical Sciences – math for computer nerds, as I call it). So, when I raised the boxed wine question with Molly, she immediately came back with calculations in defense. (Man, I love it, when someone else does the math)! It was something to the effect of: OK, let’s say you buy six bottles at a time, so you get 10% off, and the bottles we’re buying aren’t the BEST there is out there, but still very drinkable, good wine, they’re about $5.99-$9/bottle. That works out to be about $1.40-$2.80 a glass. We are SO worth $1.40-$2.80 a night! That’s not even as much as many moms spend at Starbucks every day! Now that is my kind of math problem, and more importantly, math solution!
The epitome of this new wine habit occurred a couple of weeks ago when my good friend Rebecca came over for long play date. We’ll be watching their son, Joshua, for the weekend, while Jason and Rebecca present on an Engaged Encounter retreat. For that reason, Rebecca and I thought that we should do an afternoon play date, so Joshua could nap here and get a bit more comfortable. I had made a big pot of chili the night before they came over. So, for lunch, Rebecca and I enjoyed the leftovers and we thought – what the heck! Let’s have a glass of red on this cold, cozy afternoon. By 2pm, we decided that they should just stay for dinner since Jason was out of town on business and then Joshua could even have more time feeling at home, AND that way, we could just finish off the bottle. So, by 2pm on a cold and rainy Thursday afternoon, we’d had a couple of glasses of wine. It was the best play date ever!!!
And here’s a great example of while I WILL have a glass of wine tonight with our pizza dinner: within 45 minutes of Rebecca arriving (to bring Joshua for his weekend with us) Matthew had to poo, Zach jumped in the bath tub fully clothed, Zach slipped and fell on the bathroom floor, and Matthew threw up. The boys and I all woke up with colds today and now Zach is refusing to take a nap – he’s standing in his crib yelling, “Mamaaaaaaaaaaa, MAAAmAAA!”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

At preschool, I feel a bit like a voyeur, an observer, a fly on the wall. This may be the first situation that I’ve been in where, well, not many people know me. That’s right – I’m admitting that I’m not the center of attention, AND that I’m FINE with that. (Mom, Dad – are you OK? Are you sitting down?).
The format of preschool is you arrive a couple minutes before class starts, drop your kid and go. Then at the end of the school day, they’ve requested that you not return until five minutes before they’re done (there isn’t that much room in the hall for parents to wait, and it would be too much of a distraction for the kids if we were all loitering around. This is very different from the format of Matthew’s Almost Three’s class, last year, at the community center. There was not only room to sit and loiter and socialize, but the entire classroom had windows and it was no rare sight to see parents, faces pressed to the glass, watching their little kiddo, the apple of their eye.
So, as I said, for numerous reasons of the parents at preschool right now, only a handful knows me, and I – them. I’m actually really enjoying this new sensation of anonymity. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do have friends – two, actually. Two dads – they’re my homeboys. I LOVE dads; because with dads there is NO drama. Every day it’s just, “hey, how are you? I heard Conner was home sick yesterday…” You NEVER have to have all the mandatory mommy-talk: “So, where will you be having Joey’s birthday party? Oh, there?! Well, we looked into it but it was just way too small for our plans, that and our caterer doesn’t like to serve there….Where did you buy that outfit? TOO cute!” Oh, and don’t forget the are-you-a-good-enough-stay-at-home-Mom stuff, “No, sorry. We can’t do a play date on Thursday; Joey has a private piano lesson, followed by soccer practice. Oh, and Thursdays are when we always spend an hour drilling with flashcards. He’s only four, but the SAT’s are right around the corner. If he wants to go to YALE, like daddy, we better get studying!” Heaven forbid id your child is at a “normal” level upon entering kindergarden – or even Pre-K 2.
No, with the dads there’s no drama, no pretending that you’re super mom, no talking recipes or where to shop and there are no cliques. The dads are just happy that someone is talking to them. They stay at home all day with their children, doing the things that the stay-at-home moms do but without the (necessary) benefit of daytime empathy and companionship. I don’t imagine that the dads get invited to many play dates or lunches with other moms to vent about the frustrations of childrearing. It’d just be a little awkward. So, these poor guys are just home – all day, every day with their kids.
I’ve befriended these two dads for two reasons: 1.) they’re very nice and based on the attention-starved looks in their eyes they could use a friend – or at least another parent who will talk to them. 2.) There is NO drama! (LOVE this). What you get is what you get; no strings attached. No tricky social ladder to climb. The dads and I just hang comfortably on our bottom rung.
As I said, because of these reasons, I haven’t met that many other moms and I don’t plan on exhausting myself trying to break into the preschool mommy cliques. I had a moment at the field trip that completely reassured me that I shouldn’t bother wasting my time. On our John Deere-pulled tram, we ended up sitting between two moms who have kids in the 4/5yr. old class. Most likely, this is the second year; these women have had kids in the same class, so it’s normal that they’d be friendly with one another. Since I was sitting between them, I initiated conversation – first with one (and that failed), so then with the other (mmm, strike two). After a few moments, we all gave up, so they proceeded to talk over me and around me – literally over my head or leaning forward practically across my lap to discuss, “did you hear what so and so did?” and “can you believe she dressed her daughter in THAT today?!” etc. After the tram, we went through the hay maze with Conner and Lydia’s dad and ate snack with Mason’s dad (and mom – who took the day off for the field trip). No who-wore-what or can-you-believe-its. Just chillin’.
I’m probably not helping my preschool social life by making enemies, but I can’t help it. There’s a mom from upstairs (the older kids’ class) who I totally and thoroughly judge. She shows up every morning in skimpy tank tops with bright colored bras sticking out, low slung jeans so that the big tattoo on her lower back is prominently displayed, and it’s not her clothes that I have a problem with. She parks – EVERY DAY – in the spot closest to the door which, yes, is a handicap parking spot! If that closest spot is taken, then she just places her white minivan in the other one. I understand that she has at least two kids to shuttle around – one in an infant car seat – but we’re all lugging little people around, so let’s just be fair about this. Equal luggage, I say!!
I’ll admit that there was a time – pre-kids – when I would go out of my way to use the handicap stall in the restroom. They’re nice and roomy, often cleaner as they’re at the end of the row. I learned my lesson when, one time after taking my sweet time, I exited the handicap stall to see a woman in a wheelchair waiting patiently for her turn. ALL OF THE OTHER STALLS WERE EMPTY and yet I HAD to be in the roomy, handicap stall. Never again – if I can help it – do I take advantage of handicap-provided spaces, services, etc. I have since become a bit of a self-proclaimed advocate for the handicapped. I tell them at Blockbuster, look guys, if my double-jogger can’t get through the aisles – while I realize it’s a monstrosity and huge – it’d be hard for a wheelchair to fit through. And until you have kids in strollers, I don’t think you really realize just how not-handicapped-friendly our streets, sidewalks, restrooms and stores are.
So, back to tank top lady. I’ve given her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she circles the parking lot and makes sure there are NO other spots available, so she just grabs it, runs in, drops her kids and go. No. Of course not. No. Her white van is, without fail, in that handicapped spot – even if the rest of the parking lot is still fairly vacant. When I get into the school, there she is – tank top, bright bra, baby carrier on the hip – chatting it up and taking her time visiting with the other members of Mom Mafia. I’d had enough when I saw at least two cars in the lot with handicapped stickers that weren’t able to park in the handicap spots, and I know that there are at least three grandparents that bring their grandkids to school and, I’m sure, would appreciate a closer spot.
Being in the not-really-caring-about-making-mommy-friends mood that I’m in, I approached one of the moms who I know is queen bee of the preschool board. (She also, happened to be, one of the moms talking over me on the pumpkin patch tram). The best part is that I got to be the tattle-tale but wouldn’t have to be the one to scold Tank Top Mom. For once, I don’t have to be the bad guy (well, not really). So, I explained to Preschool Board Mom in general terms that there was a parent parking in the handicap spot every day. I said – it’s a white minivan. Her eyes got big like, Oh my gosh, SHE’S the one I have to talk to?! She nodded slowly, admitting defeat, “Yeah, I know who that is. OK, thanks for telling me.” I smiled, “No problem. Good luck with that.” Better her than me. Her social life isn’t suffering any.
I don’t care that much that the moms don’t know me (or adore me – which, let’s admit, is what I’m used to), but I wouldn’t want Matthew’s social life to suffer because of my behavior, “Oh. It’s you. YOU’RE the kid with the tattle-tale mommy. My legs are sore now, thanks to her. We have to walk fifteen extra feet through the parking lot to get to school. Sorry, you can’t play with us and the worker trucks at recess today.” It’s all fine until sharing of the working trucks is affected. We just can’t have that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You can judge what kind of a week I’ve had based on my blogging habits – or lack thereof. BUSY (I’m working on the house painting project again – doors, trim, hallway)…and CRAZY. So, let me summarize. (Granted a Jenny Summary is never a super brief thing).

Home Sweet Home
The boys were still up when we got home from the airport a week ago. They were, as should be expected, very happy to see us (thankfully, they still remembered who we were and didn’t seem to hold our parent negligence against us too much…initially) and we were, them. Within less than 24 hours though, I was wishing I could get back on a plane. Again, please feel free to judge me, because I thoroughly do.

Matthew decided to deal with his abandonment issues as most any normal four year-old child would – he got even with his behavior. (That’s right. I’m going to make you suffer by being SO bad and crazy that you’ll WISH you could go back to Dallas and therefore you’ll have so much guilt for thinking that, that you’ll….suffer…from the guilt…of thinking that..). Yeah, behavior has been pretty crazy this week. And I’m not talking just about Matthew’s

Zoloft Sweet Zoloft
Several weeks ago now I took my last Zoloft (that I’d been on for a little over a year to ward off the Post Partum Depression Demons that had inhabited my body since shortly after the birth of Zachary). I tapered off the drug VERY slowly and gradually because I was afraid of what the weaning/withdrawal would be like. I had every reason to be afraid – very afraid. I’ve been SCARY and SPOOKY….how fitting for this Halloween season. (“What are you going to be for Halloween this year?” “Oh, thanks so much for asking. I’m going to be a Psycho-Zoloft-Withdrawals-Crazy-Mama. Grim Reaper, Hockey Mask Chainsaw-Murderer, Gory and Blood-Oozing Serial Killer? They ain’t got nothin’ on me. Look out. Stay away. Stay far, far away.

I’m dizzy, I’m light-headed, I’m spacey (at least I have an excuse now), I’m nauseous, and worst of all I’m EVIL. It’s pretty much like PPD all over again. Why, WHY would they make a drug that you take to fix a problem and yet only CAUSES the problem when you finish it? It makes you want to go right back on the juice. I’ve been reassured that this is a temporary situation that usually lasts between one and two weeks. When I called the doctor to see what, if anything, could be done and how long we would all need to suffer and could I maybe be locked away during this process, I was told, “well, if it gets really bad, we can always just put you back on Zoloft.” Yes, so keep me on the happy pill FOREVER ‘cuz I’ll be way too frightened to ever come off again because I’d just have to go through this again. No thank you, I’ll just suffer through now and get this over with (as will the entire Martin clan).

I’m all jokey-jokey about it here and now, but calling this incredibly difficult and frustrating, is a huge understatement. It’s heart-breaking when your sweet four year-old is pleading with you, “Mommy, please don’t be sad. Mommy it makes me sad when you’re sad. May you please not be sad?” He’s even polite about it! “I know; we’ll go play Legos and then you don’t have to be sad anymore, K? Right? Then you won’t be sad? Please may you not cry anymore?” And unfortunately, there’s nothing – nothing – that I can do to ‘snap out of it’. It’s completely out of my control; I can’t just NOT be sad. I have no real reason to be sad, and yet my brain tells me otherwise. It says, “Be sad, be totally and completely without hope (kind of like how the Dementors in Harry Potter make their victims feel)…oh, and while you’re at it, be completely irrational and moody and have a temper that can snap like nobody’s business, for no reason.” So, without meaning to, I’m sad, I’m irrational, I feel lost. I don’t feel like me. I feel like I’m back in that deep, dark depression place that I never wanted to be in ever again; and there’s nothing I can do about it. But wait. Wait. They say it’ll get better. So we wait.

Big sigh. Moving on to some of the other things that popped up in the midst of the crappy of this week.

Yes, I’m one of those
Turns out that I’m one of those obnoxious Moms. Following my orders (from PPD Pal, Patricia), I had to get out of the house with the boys as much as possible – she said that was the only thing that helped her get through the post-Zoloft adjustment phase. So, on Friday after my music classes, we went to McDonald’s for lunch. We had just sat down with our food when a McDonald’s employee approached and inquired as to whether or not I drove a red Honda CRV. “Why, yes I do. Thank you for asking.” Right. They needed me to move my car as the big McD’s delivery truck had arrived and needed to unload tons of fat and oily and greasy food products. “Hmm, no, sorry,” was what I pretty much said. I explained that we had JUST sat down and that I’d have to put my boys into their car seats to move the car or I’d have to leave them in the McD’s unattended to go move my car. I put my foot down. Neither of those things would happen. “Was there a No Parking sign where I parked? Or a truck unloading sign? Because I took the one open spot in the middle of a fully packed row of parked cars….so I certainly wouldn’t have parked there had I known…” Yeah, I wasn’t going to budge. You don’t mess with me on my ppd, non-Zoloft weeks.

In the end, I did have to run out and move the car. I asked an employee if he wanted a stint as a Valet driver and did he want to move my car ‘cuz well, as it turns out, I do care about my children more than the car (besides I figured he wouldn’t take off with my car since we knew who he was…and where he workd). After much discussion, it was determined that one of the McD employees (a father of two, himself, I was informed) stood watch over my children (who were still sitting eating and Zach was strapped into a high chair, so I knew he wouldn’t run away). But what would you have done? Do you judge me for abandoning them in a restaurant with total strangers for 30 seconds? I even played all of the worst case scenarios out in my head: “OK, if someone tries to steal my offspring – based on behavior this week (mine and theirs) – I might let them because maybe they’d be a more fit parent than I. No. I would see them exiting out of one of the doors that I’d be very close too, and I would be able to use my super ppd, Zoloft-withdrawal violence to Kung-Fu chop them down, snag my kidlets and get the heck outta there.” They’d be fine. They were fine. They were still there, happily munching away on McNuggets unaware that I’d even left.

Apparently I was on such a mission not to let anything detract from my McDonald’s dining experience, that I kicked an entire huge pack of unruly young teenage boys off of the McD’s playland equipment. They were too big to be on there (requirement is four feet and under) and they were freaking out the little kiddos. My boys stood frozen just watching the big hooligans rip around. Yes, I’m an old fart, a fuddy-duddy, a stick-in-the-mud, a party pooper. You name it; I’ll admit to being it. My threats of getting the manager to escort them out worked, and they managed to leave with my lame, scary mom threats trailing after them.

John Deeres make things better
When all else fails, John Deeres do provide some cheering up; especially to Matthew. This past Wednesday, we successfully attended Matthew’s first ‘real’ field trip (like leave the property, go far, far away field trip). We went to a pumpkin patch way down in Orting, WA – about a 45 minute drive from our house. Matthew was ready to roll in John Deere hat, construction worker rain coat, and “army man” camouflage rain boots – this kid is ALL boy. The first thing we saw when we pulled in was a HUGE John Deere tractor on display complete with pumpkin head scarecrow in the driver’s seat. Next to the John Deere was a 975 pound pumpkin on display. I informed Matthew that no, sorry, that would not be the one that we took home with us. When we saw Matthew’s preschool teacher, she said, “Matthew! Are you so excited for the pumpkins?” He replied with a confident, “No! I’m excited for the John Deeres!!”

Of course, our trip to the pumpkin patch wouldn’t be complete without pouring down rain. So, all the raincoat clad kids and parents were huddled under a tarp while we sat and listened to a woman talk in a really bad, fake Southern Drawl about how the ‘old days’ were – covered wagons, cooking food on fires, etc. The kids sat there, heads down to keep out the cold, eyes glazed over, not listening to a word that Old Fashioned Lady had to say. She attempted to lead the crowd in the most unmelodic, lack-luster rendition of ‘Old McDonald had a Farm’ that I’ve ever heard. But then, OH, but THEN, she announced that we would go on a covered wagon ride – but a little different than the kind they rode in the old days – and on perfect cue three – THREE – huge tractors pulled up towing long cow-themed-painted wagon/car/tram-type thingies. The first tractor that drove by was red. This was exciting, sure, sure. Matthew sat up to get a better view. But then the next two tractors to appear were – you guessed it – great big, beautiful green John Deeres. Matthew shot straight up off of his hay bale seat and exclaimed, “John Deeres, Mommy! John Deeres!” And wouldn’t you know, that being in the emotional state that I was in, I had to blink hard to not let my tearing up be noticed by anyone. (I could’ve blamed it on the rain, I suppose). He was so ecstatic, it was like Christmas morning; I’ve got a knot in my throat just thinking about it.

We managed to push into the line for one of the John Deere-pulled trams (again, I was not about to let anyone rain on our John Deere parade – yes puns intended as it WAS raining AND a John Deere parade). We rode around the huge corn maze and by the pumpkin fields, passed by the pumpkin-catapulting field (complete with hundreds of small smashed and squashed pumpkins), and eventually came to the small area where pumpkins were neatly lined up in rows, ready for the taking. We stopped to see the goats and miniature horses in the fenced pasture and picked out the two best pumpkins available. (Zachary got one too). After putting the pumpkins in the car, we went through the hay maze in the barn and then had hot apple cider. It doesn’t get any more Harvest-y perfect than that.

On Saturday, we had another fun-filled day. We ended the night at our friends’ Fourth Annual Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza. Mike chose not to stay for the carving process (he would’ve stomped the competition AGAIN), plus we decided that being near all the knives and sharp carving implements was maybe not the best idea for our children. Before the carving extravaganza, we had dinner with some friends from Engaged Encounter. Their kids are 4 and 2 and the boys LOVE them. Matthew walked out into the backyard and stopped dead in his tracks before sprinting off their deck faster than I’ve ever seen that kid move – they had a toy riding John Deere, the kind that every John Deere-loving kid DREAMS of having. He was in HEAVEN. Amy (mother of Tyler and Amanda) had been on backyard duty (making sure no child got seriously harmed or mutilated in any major way) when she came in laughing. She said that Matthew was playing with the John Deere and had said, “This John Deere is mighty perfection.”

Matthew has reached the age of questions. What’s and why’s and how’s fill our days, ALL the live-long day! He and I had been having a very deep conversation about how people are different (i.e. different hair color, sometimes skin color, sometimes people have to be in a wheel chair etc.), but that we’re all the same (i.e. no one is better than someone else because of their skin color, etc.). I had said to Matthew that there are people in the world who, for example, are light-skinned people, but think that people with dark skin are bad. I stressed that THIS is bad, that it’s bad for people to say that someone else is bad because their skin is a different color.

That night, when Mike was putting Matthew to bed Matthew told him, “Hey, Daddy. People with dark skin are bad.” “What????!” Mike said. Mathew casually responded, “Yeah, Mommy said that. That people with dark skin are bad.” Great. So great. Here I’m trying to teach my child all these great lessons in acceptance and to be a loving little being, and it’s going to come back and bite me in the butt. I can only imagine the things that Matthew will be telling his best little buddy, Mason, at school – Mason, who happens to be darker skinned and whose parents we hung out with at the pumpkin patch. I now live in fear of the moment, when Mrs. Mac asks me to stay after class. I’ll be SO busted, by the preschool teacher…for something that I’m SO not guilty of. That would NOT be mighty perfection.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The wedding was beautiful. So, so beautiful. And SO exciting. Liane and Jeff shared their first kiss on the altar. (Mike and I easily admit that we were disappointed with the quickness of the event – it wasn’t even long enough to get a picture!). But we made sure that at the reception they shared numerous others – frequently initiating the obnoxious clinking of glasses and hitting-of-plates-with-forks that signifies the requirement for a bride and groom smooch. The first time our table started it, Liane looked over quizzically – the photographer had to bend over and explain, “You’re supposed to kiss.”

They are such a perfect couple – absolutely made from the same cookie-cutter – and they were so happy and humbled yesterday by the beauty of their special day and the love emanating from everyone present. I was so happy for them. I smiled ‘til my cheeks hurt, laughed and cried. (No worries: I came prepared with Kleenex and waterproof mascara. I’m quite a clean cryer. I do it well. Lots of practice).

I’m happy to report that my practice paid off (ridiculous amounts of practice, Mike would have you know) – I didn’t mess up on my reading at the wedding and MORE important and exciting – I didn’t fall on my face and moon everybody walking up to the mic in my high and oh-so pretty heels. Here’s a question: why must women suffer for beauty? When we got back to the hotel after the wedding last night, it was determined (by me) that I looked too darn good to check-in early for the night. We’ve got built-in babysitters for the weekend; we best make the most of it. So, I changed (dressed down a little) and put on my cute shoes #2 – a pair of slip-on, shiny silver high wedges. Why, oh why, must women suffer for beauty?! I even said to Mike on our walk up to the bar/bumpin’ night-spot that I’d decided that life is “too short to wear ugly – yet comfortable shoes. I don’t get to go out much,” I said, “so I might as well look smokin’ hot when I do.” Having cute, sexy shoes really helps with that whole goal of being the Ultimate Hotness. And thanks to both pairs of cute shoes #1 and #2, I’d achieved. I was THE Ultimate Hotness. About two minutes further down the street I said, “life is way too short to wear cute – yet completely uncomfortable shoes.” I had a blister the size of…Texas…appearing on the top side of my left foot where the cute, sassy shiny silver strap was rubbing my cute, sassy foot totally and thoroughly raw. Not so cute and sassy anymore, huh? Here I thought that cute shoes #2 (the silver shiny strappy wedges) would be more comfortable than the shoes I wore to the wedding – cute shoes #1 (a pair of sparkly and bedazzled bronze multi-strappied, oober-high heels). Cute shoes #1 rubbed my baby toes the wrong way, cute shoes #2 rubbed the top sides of my feet the wrong way. My feet now look as if I ran a marathon and suffered extensive damage. Mike gave me a piggy-back ride some of the way back to the hotel. But at least my toes are still pedicured nicely and thanks to last night’s damage I’m forced to wear my hopefully-more-comfortable but cute shoes #3 (periwinkle and black dressy flip-flops that sport a periwinkle flower on the top – between my big toe and 2nd toe). We won’t be walking that much today – we have to wait for a couple hours for our airport shuttle bus, then we’ll sit at the airport for a couple hours, then we’ll sit on the plane for several hours…what with all this sitting around, wearing cute shoes is practically a requirement.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

October 5, 2007

My dreams are coming true. It’s 5:35 in the morning, I only got about four hours of sleep last night, but I don’t care. I’m at the airport – sitting in a fairly comfortable leather chair, looking out the window at the pitch black sky beyond the runway. We flew through security – no strollers, no carseats, it was a dream – and now we have an hour until our flight to Dallas. I’ve got Kara plugged in and look oh-so important. I can just imagine people seeing me (“Wow, look at her – typing away on her laptop at 5:30 in the morning, she must be very important. She’s working…or maybe she’s an author. Wait! Isn’t that Jenny Martin…THE Jenny Martin?!”)

Traveling without kids is like…it’s like a date! We’re having a weekend-long date. I even carefully planned my outfit for today (well, of course I planned my clothes for Liane’s rehearsal and dinner tonight, but I mean my butt-crack-o-dawn flight outfit). I’m Casual-and-Comfy-Yet-Cute Sporty Spice for my day of travel. And so far, my date has been a perfect gentleman. He lugged the heavy suitcase, carried the carry-on laptop bag and he’s currently on a coffee run – hunting down one of the 250+ Starbucks at SeaTac airport. (OK, maybe not that many, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were way up there).

I do worry (very selfishly, I know) that on the plane we’ll end up sitting next to a single mother traveling alone with her two toddlers and colicky infant. I, of course, will feel her pain and will spend the entire flight walking a cranky wee one up and down the airplane aisle. But there’s something to it not being your own kid.

I will definitely miss my kiddos. Wouldn’t you know that yesterday, as we spent the day at home playing, doing laundry and packing, my boys were excessively cute (mixed with moments of seriously not-so-cute crankiness)? They were the right balance of I’ll make it so you CAN’T wait to leave but then you’ll feel SO GUILTY that you left us and that you couldn’t wait to leave us that you’ll have a ridiculously hard time checking the guilt at the gate. But darn it! I’m determined to gate check-it. What dedicated parental unit wouldn’t enjoy two weekends away from their offspring?...ahh, my coffee and date has arrived! Wait, I better not rest my Latte on Kara – the last thing I need is a coffee-in-keyboard laptop. Oh wait, I already have that.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Matthew is giving the art of guilt-tripping his absolute all. 100% effort. No sign of weakness. It’s currently “Quiet Time” in the Martin household. Quiet Time ideally means that it’s quiet…time. Zach is napping and Matthew should be having some quality time with Green Bear in his room, playing with Legos, listening to an audio book or looking at books. But no. Instead, recently, Matthew has declared that he no longer wants to do Quiet Time in his room – he wants his Legos out in the living room. This isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a huge deal…but then Quiet Time turns into “Lay it on Thick” Time.

I was trying to work on my book a bit ago (since this is the only time during the day – unless I get up early) that I can do so. But I couldn’t really concentrate when all I could focus on was the steady stream of whining. It started like this: “Mommmmmmy. I NEEEEED you to come PLAAAAAYYYY with me…I get very tired when you don’t play with me.” Then it turned into this: “Mommy. I LOVE you. I need you to play with me because I love you SOOOOOOOOOOoooooo much…Don’t you want to play with me? Why don’t you want to play with me? You’re a fun Mommy and I want you to play with me.” See the change of tactic there? He figured his odds for my caving were much better should he go the guilt-trip, butter-me-up route. Hahaha! How he underestimates my will of steel – my complete and total dedication to MY Quiet Time. (He finally gave up and went to play Legos in his room).

Now, if that isn’t enough for you to judge me – (What kind of mother wouldn’t cave under those loving pleas?) – I will now provide with some more proof as to why Mike and I deserve the “Deliquent Parents of the Year” award. We abandoned the boys this past weekend – they were in good, loving and capable hands – but we totally ditched them. We went to Eastern Washington for an Engaged Encounter hootenanny. Well, technically it’s the Unit 3 Board Meeting but the board meetings are WAY too much fun to call them meetings.

We got put up in a house of another EE couple – pretty much a mansion where we had our own Master Suite (the house had two!) complete with ginormous bathroom with soaking tub. We spent Saturday evening doing a ‘blind’ wine tasting. (Everyone brought wine from their region – Washington, Idaho, Oregon, but it turns out Montana doesn’t have wine or there would’ve been some). All the bottles were placed in brown paper bags (classy, huh?) and numbered. So, we just drank away trying to pick our favorites and guess what they were. Then on Sunday before we came home, Mike and I stopped at a vineyard and did some more wine tasting. Mike drove. I drank. We left with two beautiful wine glasses and a few bottles – one for us, one for my parents and one for our friends who hosted Matthew for his first ever sleepover on Saturday night.

[Ahh, beautiful segue, which I still think should be spelled “segway”…] SO, Matthew went on his first ever sleepover! That’s right – four years old and the kid is doing slumber parties! Matthew (and Zach) spent Friday night at my parents’ house and then Saturday, Matthew got to go to his best pal, Jack’s birthday party and then spend the night. We met Jack’s parents, Megan and Kelly, in childbirth class, so the boys have literally known each other since before Day One. And Matthew LOVES Jack and anyone slightly related to him. Megan reported that Matthew is officially a Sleepover SuperStar. The best story of the night happened around bed time.

The boys were getting all tucked in and settled to sleep when Matthew said that he didn’t want to have bad dreams. Megan assured him that they chase all of the bad dreams out of their house, so there was no need to worry. Matthew thought about that and replied, “But my bad dreams are in my eyes, so when I close my eyes they’re there.” Without skipping a beat, Megan blew into Matthew’s eyes and said, “There! I just blew away all the bad dreams. You’re good to go.” Matthew thought that was hilarious! (When I heard that I thought that’s just another reason why I need to take parenting lessons from Megan). Then, Megan suggested that the boys – though they had to stay in their own beds – could talk a little bit about the good things that they wanted to dream about. With that, she left the room….only to return a few minutes later when she heard nothing but hysterical laughing coming from Jack’s bedroom.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

Matthew, who was busting a gut laughing, managed to squeak out, “We’re going to dream that Jack and I are at the beach….giggle giggle….and that we sit down in the sand….haha…and TOOT IN THE SAND!” And with that the boys both collapsed into gales of laughter again. Needless-to-say, they had a great time…and Matthew was in bed for a nap by noon.

So, the reason why you need to thoroughly judge us (because I do) is we’re leaving our children behind AGAIN THIS weekend. We fly out of SeaTac at the butt crack ‘o dawn on Friday morning for Dallas to go to Liane’s wedding. Liane is my best friend from college, Freshmen year roommate, one of my bridesmaids and fellow Marathoner…she’s gotta be a good friend to listen to me talk for five hours of running. I ADORE HER. And I ADORE her man – Jeff. As much as Mike and I are absolute opposites-attract-types she and Jeff are exact carbon-copy-types. Jeff is pretty much the boy version of Liane. They are so stinkin’ cute together and will go forth and make the most stinkin’ cute little Korean-American babies that you ever did see. And….drumroll please….they haven’t even kissed!!! They’re saving their first kiss for the altar. Now, that’s a lot of pressure. I mean, when they’ve waited that long to kiss, what’s the likelihood that they’ll actually pull apart and come up for air anytime soon? I’m thinking it’ll be a long wedding.

And since I’m the first to admit that I completely judge us and our parental dedication (or lack thereof) for ditching the boys two weekends in a row, I will also be the first to offer the following confession: I am SO excited to travel without children. I’m excited to sit on a plane for five hours with my book and my laptop. I’m excited should we get delayed at an airport! I’m excited to not have to travel with car seats and oodles of baby gear – heck! We aren’t even going to rent a car! And I’m super excited that it’s 90 degrees in Dallas right now! (It’s currently cold and windy and rainy in Seattle…welcome to October in the northwest)!

Alas, Quiet Time has come and gone. The boys are here eating Goldfish crackers and whining…and asking questions…and begging for more food…and dropping food on the floor. I AM going to miss them this weekend – maybe not the whining part – but I will miss them. I mean it.