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Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am nearly done with my book. (I’ve been working on a children’s, middle-grade chapter book for almost exactly one year now). I’m so close to being finished with this first draft I can taste it (it tastes like chicken, as it turns out). I told Mike that it’s killing me to be so close to ‘all done’ and yet not having the time right now to sit down and just hammer out the last couple of chapters. I announced that, like J.K. Rowling, as she completed the seventh and final book, of the Harry Potter series, I have every intention of packing up and spending the next several days – however long it takes – holed up in hotel room somewhere wrapping up my manuscript. And then, upon completion, just like Ms. Rowling, I would autograph the hotel room desk. Mike didn’t go for that idea and for some reason he retorted with something like, “um, yeah, I don’t think you’re quite on that level…yet!”

Friday, May 30, 2008

Zach has a healthy self-confidence. He’s not only ridiculously proud of himself these days (he’s gone pee-pee in the potty two nights in a row at his very own suggestion!), but he’s also quite pleased with his appearance. The other day, I was at the kitchen sink – where I feel I spend a lot of my time – when Zach came into the kitchen and squatted down in front of the dishwasher. I watched as he smiled, grinned, generally admired his reflection and then gave a little wave and said, “Hey! Cute!” With that, he stood up and swaggered away.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I don’t feel a day older than 28. I feel a day and about 45 minutes older, actually. I’ve matured quite a bit in my 28 + years. I’ve spent my whole life being a Birthday Snob – me, me, me; that’s how it should be on May 24th. However, yesterday, I showed signs of great progress. I went to the grocery store and didn’t throw a fit that no one knew it was my birthday (despite being clad in my birthday suit for all to get the point…no one made eye contact for some odd reason…go figure). I didn’t even get to show my ID – I didn’t get carded! Then again, I hadn’t bought any alcohol, and I don’t think you get carded now for milk, bread, eggs, ham and cheese.

Mike followed through on his promise and for my birthday gave me…nothing. I’ve done a fair amount of spending lately; buying myself new clothes to go with my new hot bod. So, I made him promise that he wouldn’t get me a thing. And, in turn, I had to promise that I wouldn’t secretly be hoping that he’d still get me something even though I told him not to, which I did – I promised I wouldn’t hope for something but I kinda secretly sorta did (‘cuz I’m always hoping to get something). It was a good birthday, all in all. It was a beautiful day – sunny and about 70. We drove over to Port Ludlow in the afternoon to spend the 3-day weekend with my fam. The boys were ecstatic to arrive. They have a great time here at Summer Camp for Old People. And I must say, so far, we’ve all had a great time – reading our books, playing at the beach, I’ve had some good writing time and watching movies. Later today we’ll hit up the pool so the boys can demonstrate their newly acquired swimming skills from the whopping two lessons we’ve had so far. (Matthew has learned how to not cry through much of the class, and Zach has learned how to more successfully splash me in the face with water…these are some of the differences between our two boys).

The one gift I did receive yesterday was from my parental units who know me oh-so well. I got a new pair of running shoes (sweet!), some new running socks, and two plaques which essentially sum up the essence of Jenny; the Jenessence. One is a fridge magnet with a picture of a 1940’s-ish, primping woman. It reads: “Both of us can’t look good at the same time…it’s either ME or the House.”

The other is a little wall or door hanging that says, “CHOCOLATE: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.”

Last night I had a glass of merlot with dinner and a piece of Chocolate Decadence cake for dessert. Today, I’ve been promised a margarita with our bbqed brats dinner. And perhaps best of all, I did still manage to successfully play my Birthday Snob card and got out of changing ALL diapers yesterday. It was a wonderful day for me, though it turned out to be quite the crappy one for Mike.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Poor Matthew – suffering his first rejection, his first broken heart at the ripe old age of four.

So, there’s this couple at church who I refer to as “Imitation Scott and Amy” – they look like our friends Scott and Amy, you see, but they are the much less attractive, not nearly as friendly version. We’ll call them ISA for short. ISA have two children – a girl probably four and a boy under two. The ISA offspring are very cute little people – not nearly as attractive as the REAL Scott and Amy offspring, mind you – but like the real ones, they have the blondest, blondest hair I’ve ever seen. (They actually remind me of Mike’s baby/little boy pictures – he was a total tow-head).

One morning, after Mass, we went downstairs for coffee and donuts. I ended up in line behind Imitation Amy who was holding the little boy. I guess because of her resemblance to my friend Amy, I felt like I already knew her and was quite comfortable. I leaned around and said, “you have the most stinkin’ cute kids I’ve ever seen.” (Yes, that was my ‘be my friend’ pick-up line. Smooth, huh?) Unfortunately, because of my feeling so at ease, I started saying this without really thinking it through and as soon as the word “stinkin’” escaped my lips, I got stuck – I was stranded in a mud pit of awkwardness with the realization, oh, right. Snap. She doesn’t actually know me and I just said stinkin’ and I’m about to wrap it up in a phrase referring to her children. So, what I.A. heard was, You have the most stinkin’…………………………….cute kids I’ve ever seen.” She gave me a tight lipped smile, said a quiet thank you and turned back around. Fine! Well, I’d choose Real Amy over you any day, you fraud!!

This past Sunday, we sat in the vestibule area at church – they have a few rows of chairs set up for “kids who make a little too much joyful noise unto the Lord” (or something like that). We ended up sitting behind ISA and offspring. I made the very judgmental and non-Christian observation that Imitation Scott always chews gum in church – which is the opposite of classy, if you ask me (chewing gum in church, not chewing gum in general…I chew gum ALL the time…not that that makes it classy, it’s just not in the same category as chewing gum in church). Anyway, I.S. ended up taking his gum-smacking self to the back where he wandered around with the Little Boy. Little Girl stayed in the row with her mom and was busy coloring. One of her crayons fell on to the floor and rolled back towards us. I gestured to it, indicating to Matthew that he should pick it up and give it to her. He vehemently shook his head and whispered, “No, how ‘bout you do it?” I ignored him, knowing that eventually he would do it. Sure enough, after a moment, he picked up the crayon and shyly past it to Little Girl. She took it from him without a glimmer of appreciation or acknowledgment.

A little while later, we noticed a card on the floor under her chair, I gestured to it to Matthew and he got down on his hands and knees to retrieve it. It looked like a hotel room key card, but on closer inspection, we saw that it was a “Cirque de Soleil” VIP Room card. So, now I’m jealous of these people too! (Cirque is in town and I would LOVE to go, but it just ain’t happenin’).

Now, let me digress for a moment – my children wear ID bracelets. You know, the old school silver rectangular ones. I have been asked by SO many people “what’s up with those bracelets?” “Are they for food allergies?” I’m sorry, but I thought it was totally normal to brand your children. I wore won for the first several years of my life (OK, OK, I’ll admit it…I took it off for the first time a week ago). Anyway, until the boys really know their stuff – name, address, phone number, our cell phone numbers, etc. I think it’s a good thing for them to have.

So, here we are, in church with Matthew holding on to ISA’s Cirque de Soleil card. I was wondering what he was doing just holding on to it when I noticed he was busy with his ID bracelet. He flipped it over so his stats were showing. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, and I’m not even kidding, this is the direct quote, ‘cuz how could I ever forget this, “Now, she can see my phone number!” My son was totally making moves, trying to slip a girl his digits during church! Before I realized what he was doing, instead of handing the card to her over the chairs, he walked around our row and almost into their row. He stood there for a minute just holding out his wrist, slowly rotating the bracelet so she could see all the info. He grinned from ear to ear and pointed to his bracelet in a “hey baby, check this out” kind of a way. Eventually he handed the card over to her. Completely stone-faced Little Girl took the card from Matthew and then turned her back. This was beyond playing hard-to-get, this was just plain cold.

My poor, wounded, broken-hearted sensitive boy returned to me with a defeated shuffle. Trampled. Little Girl had stomped all over his heart. His eyes welling up in tears, he said, “She didn’t even say thank you.”

I no longer think they’re the stinkin’ cutest kids I’ve ever seen. Now, they’re just plain stinkin’.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Summer has arrived in Seattle! It’s like 85 degrees here – though the John Deere thermometer located in direct sun on the deck tells me that it’s about 103 degrees, but that freaks me out, so I’ll stick with 85. It’s hot and beautiful and a very interesting thing happens when the sun appears in Seattle – people disappear/appear. Allow me to explain (as you know I will).

When the weather gets hot, our neighborhood turns into a ghost town. You’d think we’d see lots of people out and about doing yard work, BBQing etc., however, for the most part, it’s like the ‘hood just isn’t the place to be when it gets hot. You HAVE to go to different parks (the neighborhood parks are abandoned), and you MUST go to the beach. Which is precisely what we did yesterday. The boys and I baked ourselves at the beach park. I made an interesting observation: the only people on the beach – and there were quite a few since no one stays in their neighborhood – were moms and children under the age of 4. (The children were under the age of 4, not the moms). Everyone else was in school or at work and I wept inwardly for them. It was the first big beach day in nine months – sand toys were dusted off, sunblock lids were de-crustified and pasty white skin was lathered in sunblocking goo. Beach toys-sharing protocol was put back into place as boys enviously studied each other’s collection of shovels, diggers and dump trucks.

Matthew had an especially good time as it was his first real outing in nearly a week. For Mother’s Day, he got a fever – but was kind enough NOT to share it with me. It was particularly bad timing as my dear friend Katherine arrived in town that day for a four day visit. When asked what she wanted to do while she was in town, she had said, “I just want to hang out and live the life of Jenny Martin.” Unfortunately this meant really experiencing the epitome of my life – caring for sometimes cranky, totally miserable sick children.

Mike was kind enough to take Matthew’s germs on – giving me a break from this nasty bug. So, feeling under the weather, Mike worked from home on Monday and Tuesday. Having Mike home and Matthew fairly mellow because of not feeling well actually worked a bit to my benefit. (Sorry, but it’s true). On Monday afternoon, as soon as the boys were tucked in for nap (and not a moment past), Katherine and I vacated the Sick House and went to the Pike Place Market. I haven’t been to the Market in four years…since Katherine’s last visit! One of the first things that Katherine and I discovered was a quaint little Italian wine shop. A small sign on the window said, “Wine Tasting 1-5pm, $5/3 wines.” We debated for a moment (or pretended to, so as not to appear over-ego for mid-afternoon drinking), and then both agreed it was in our best interest to participate. So, on a Monday afternoon, during naptime, I found myself drinking four (yes! We scored 4!) different wines and learning about Italian vineyards (and pretending I was there) with one of my dear friends. That, my peeps, is an ideal Monday afternoon!

On Wednesday evening, despite suffering through the newly acquired absence of Katherine, I had a marvelous evening with two of my book club girls. As an early birthday celebration, Molly and Kate, wined me and dined me at a cute little wine bar. And boy, do those girls ever know me – great conversation, a Syrah and a piece of chocolate cake! – my birthday week is off to a great start. And that was actually 10 days pre-bday. I like to stretch out the celebrating (and drinking, apparently) as much as possible. This morning, the birthday festivity was a different kind of drinking – coffee – and then a pedicure with my friend Rebecca. I now have beautiful toes to unveil at the pool! (Unfortunately, swimsuit season is starting early in the Martin household. The boys are starting swim lessons on Monday. And I’ll “get” to be in the pool with Zachary. Good times. At least my beautiful toes will be looking good!)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My eldest has turned into a Liar-Liar-Pants-on-Fire. I won’t go into details because it’s not even worth wasting my precious typing muscles on it, but the other day he repeatedly lied to me (all the while getting severely chastised for it) on the topic of underwear (on whether he was wearing it, if he’d worn them to school, etc.). Come on! Don’t waste perfectly good lies on underwear! Not to mention dropping a lie that can easily be proven wrong with the pulling down of pants! I’ll admit that it’s slightly amusing when the lie has no correlation to reality what-so-ever. Like, “Mom, it’s raining.” “Uh, no, Matthew, it’s not.” “Yeah-huh. It’s raining outside. Actually it’s pouring.” “Matthew, it is NOT…OK, why am I even having this argument right now?”

In addition to the lying, Matthew’s been toying with all sorts of attitude and general behavior-badness. (Yes, I realize that the behavior issues of my children, next to some, are nothing, but still…when you’re living it day-in, day-out it gets a bit draining). Matthew even dropped the W-word on me the other day. I told him to do something and he responded with the slightest of eye rolls and a, “whatever” under his breath. I believe my response was like that of being slapped in the face – a look of shock and disbelief took hold and was accompanied by the slow intake of air and denial. No you di-nt! My son?? My FOUR year-old son? Dropping the W-bomb on me?? Are you kidding? He’s not a teen…he’s not even a pre-teen!

So, you can imagine that this ‘tude from Matthew is met by my parental-version-of-‘tude right back. (As in, there’s been quite a bit of scolding and voice-raising in this household, I’m ashamed to say). The other night – the night of Underwear Lying Incident ’08 – Matthew had requested that I put him to bed. I agreed to this as it’s fairly standard protocol. Well, I was getting Zach ready for bed – diaper changing and slathering in his Eczema-fighting lotionizing regiment – when Matthew walked in and placed his hands on his hips.

“Hello,” I say, looking up at him.
“Yes, Matthew?”
“You’ve been cancelled.”
Confused pause. (Actually a “pregnant pause,” if you will, but I don’t want to confuse people lest they think I’m with child and pausing for that reason…as I’m not…just to be clear). “I’m sorry, what?”
“You-have-been-cancelled,” Matthew enunciates each word incase I really am slow.
“I’ve been cancelled at…?”
“You have been cancelled; you are not putting me to bed. Daddy is.”
“Um, OK. Did Daddy tell you to tell me that I’ve been ‘cancelled’?”
“OK, why don’t you go ask Daddy if that means I’m ‘fired’?” (Thinking: is this his new take on the whole Donald Trump-Apprentice-lingo AND hmmm, if I’ve been fired from my motherly duties, does that also mean I get out of doing the dishes tonight too?!)
Matthew grins as he leaves the room – he enjoys delivering messages.
When he returns I say, “So, what did Daddy say?”
“He said, I need to go brush my teeth.”

So game over, Matthew brushes his teeth and gets ready for bed, and Mike does the whole bedtime routine as I’ve been “cancelled.”

Later, I asked Mike “cancelled?! Why cancelled?”
“Huh?” Mike gave me a blank stare.
“Matthew said that you told him to tell me that I was cancelled…from doing bedtime.”
“I never told him that!”
“You never used or taught him the word cancelled?”

OK, then, so it was all my son’s idea to dismiss me from the bedtime scene. I didn’t know if I should be hurt or happy with the extra time I had on my hands! Either way, Trump could use a new line. The whole “You’re fired” thing is so Apprentice circa ’05-’06; “You’re cancelled,” is really where it’s at.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I know. I’ve been a total Slacker Blogger. Sorry. I’ve been spending my blogging time…sleeping. Yeah, I haven’t done that well the last week or-so with getting up early on my writing mornings. Naughty, Jenny. Very naughty. The sleep’s been good though.

I’ve also spent the last week or-so doing things like falling down our stairs [not that I did that for the whole last week or-so; I did it once and learned my lesson – stairs are a dangerous, dangerous thing especially in slippy socks]. I semi-sprained my ankle, bruised my butt-bone something fierce and looked all around like a total buffoon. What is a buffoon anyway? And actually, the Blogger-spell-check-speller just told me to spell is buffoon; I was totally going for bafoon. What the heck? Anyway, I sat there on the bottom of the stairs whimpering and debating on whether or not I should actually cry. Matthew came down the stairs and rubbed my back saying, “It’s OK, Mom. It’s OK.” Zach came running out of his room with Mike and stood at the top of the stairs asking, “OK, Mama? OK, Mama?” I do have very sensitive boys.

I managed to gimp through my wounds (they weren’t that bad) and had a splendid book club get-away on Saturday. We shopped at the Premium Outlet Mall. Yes, swanky, indeed. And despite vowing that I wouldn’t be able to (or didn’t want to) afford a thing at these upscale places, I actually did some serious damage. And on more than one occasion a few of my booky friends had to wait for me outside of a fitting room. I really did need new clothes though. The great news is that I’m slimming and trimming and slowly but surely turning my outer into my inner hot mama. Anyway, I needed smaller pants, so I did have a good reason for shopping. We spent the afternoon basking in the sun at Kendra’s beautiful house. We even decided to play badminton where I proceeded to stomp the competition to smithereens. (Though we weren’t actually keeping score, so that point could be contested. Our main goal was to keep the birdie going back and forth more than six times which was our record.) I somehow got a wee bit too into the game and tried to semi-dive for the birdie a couple of times. My gimpy ankle did not love my new found competitive nature.

Kendra’s husband, Eric, took it upon himself to be our man-slave for the day. Shoot. If only there’d been a pool. We could’ve called him “Pool Boy.” Eric was in the kitchen preparing our dinner plates when I stopped in for a chat. (I took it upon myself to stoop to speaking to the hired help. Kind of me, huh?) He said he was having a blast being the fly on the wall of our get-together. I can only imagine how difficult it is to (attempt to) keep up with a conversation of eight women…when you’re not even in the same room. When we finally sat down for dinner someone had the audacity to suggest that our book club actually discuss the last book we read – the nerve! Eric flew into the room saying, “Ha! Eight and-a-half hours! You’ve been together for over eight hours, and you’re just now talking about the book!” Molly said that her husband actually thinks the ‘book club’ title is a guise – we’re really a drinking club who occasionally discusses books. I’m not sure what Mike thinks. All I know is book club night is the one night a month when he and the boys routinely get to have McDonald’s for dinner.

On Monday, the 28th, my baby turned two. TWO! That’s so not even a baby anymore it’s upsetting. And he’s so two! He throws a mean tantrum, let me tell you. To celebrate his two-ness, we went to the Rainforest CafĂ© for dinner on Sunday night with my parental units and brother, Chris. Zach, of course, loved it. Matthew, of course, sat covering his ears through half of the meal. We came home to have cupcakes and open a few presents. Zach so enjoyed ‘Happy Birthday’ being sung to him, that we sang it through about three times. Then, during breakfast on his actual birthday, I break into a rousing round of ‘Happy Birthday.’ Zach holds up his hand, shakes his head and says, “No singing, Mommy. No…singing.” (Was he a little hung over from the previous night’s excitement or something?)

Monday afternoon, my oldest friend Rachel came over to hang out. (Again, oldest not in age but in years of our friendship.) Being the overachieving (and great!) Auntie that she is, she brought gifts for both of the boys. Within five minutes of her arrival my little people were a gift-giver’s nightmare! Matthew threw an awful fit because she hadn’t brought a John Deere Harvester. (There are other things out there in the world, son…beyond the realm of John Deere). And Zach thought Rachel was funny when she put on the pirate eye-patch but then decided, ‘Mmm, actually, no. I’m terrified. That’s like the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.’ I think at some point both boys were wailing. Poor Auntie Rachel. Poor me. Oh, and sorta poor boys, but not really. They did this to themselves.