People think Christmas is about the birth of Jesus or the spirit of giving or spending time with your loved ones. Think again.
I propose that it's about wearing matching pajamas not just with your spouse, but your small children. If you don't have small children, a dog will suffice.
We did it this year for our Christmas card, and let me tell you...it changed our lives forever.
There we were, frolicking about in our living room -- laughing, joking, hugging each other in our matching red and green stripes. Not a shred of self-respect as far as the eye could see.
Not a chance in hell would I have been caught dead in such pajamas pre-children, much less have them MATCH someone else. But, that is what children has done for me. It has freed me of all those oh-so-pesky constraints of good taste.
So, that is Christmas for us this year...two children, matching pajamas, and liberation (at least temporarily) from that silly thing called dignity.
It's been blue around our house the past week. We had to put down our 14-year-old dog who had cancer and a whole host of other maladies.
So, I've been reflecting...
Cheeba had been with my husband and me for about five years. He was my brother's dog since he was a puppy and when Denis moved overseas, he became our dog.
He was an adorable mix of lab and beagle (I know what you're thinking and I'm guessing it was an extremely ambitious beagle and a very docile lab). When he first came to live with us, life was good for ol' Cheeba. He was the apple of our eye and there was no want for doggie treats, cuddles, walks, etc. He was our baby.
A year later, Marley came along. And, as is a common story for canine pets when a baby enters the picture, Cheeba quickly became...a dog. I'm not talking Lady and the Tramp-style neglect, but things did change.
Although I don't think he ever got over being displaced by that loud, wrinkly little thing wrapped in a blanket (or being further displaced when the second wrinkly thing in a blanket came along), he did find a happy little spot in our family.
Most of the time, Cheeba would find places in the house AWAY from the kids. This is usually how the scenario would play out: Cheeba in playroom, kids enter playroom, Cheeba exits playroom and runs downstairs. I don't know how many times I would watch him scurry off to sleep in some dark, quiet nook and wistfully think, "Lucky fucker."
Then, there would be those sweet moments that are forever etched in my mind. Cheebs was half hound dog and you would be reminded of this every time you walked him. He would pull and sniff as if nothing else in the world mattered except that neighbor's dog's piss on the ground from two days ago. When I say he pulled on that leash, I'm talking about being dragged behind him like a rag doll anytime we went outside.
As Marley got older, she would ask to walk him. Knowing his penchant for forcibly hauling us around the neighborhood, we were reluctant to let our preschooler take the reigns. We eventually caved, though, and were shocked by the results. Anytime Marley would hold Cheeba's leash, he instinctively knew not to pull. The two of them would walk along looking like something out of one of those kid-and-animal-are-best-friends Disney movies. Travis and I would walk behind them half melting at the cuteness of the scene before us and half bitter that Marley didn't even have to break a sweat to walk the dog.
Then, there was the time that we discovered Marley feeding Cheeba doggie treats -- about 30 high-calorie peanut-butter flavored doggie treats. It was no wonder our friends were always making snide comments about our dog's rapidly expanding waistline. I'm not above blaming my 3-year-old for his not-so-svelte appearance.
Jack and Cheeba didn't have as deep of a relationship, but it was blossoming. Mostly it would be Jack making rudimentary barking noises at Cheeba that sounded less like a dog and more like him cat-calling some hot woman on the street ("Wooo wooo. Wooo wooo.")
The last day Cheeba was with us, we found Marley sitting with him in our bedroom. She was holding onto his neck and had one of her toy spoons held up to his mouth. She looked up and told us very matter-of-factly, "I'm giving Cheeba medicine because he's sick."
I know, I know....cue the "Aaaaaw." But it is one of those moments that I know I will never forget.
Now, Marley informs everyone that Cheeba is "dead" (don't you love how blunt preschoolers are?) and in "doggie heaven." Sometimes she likes to add a little color to doggie heaven by saying, "He's eating lots of food and playing, playing, playing."
I'm always surprised by how happy it makes me to hear her say that.
Why so self-congratulatory, you ask? Well, lately I've discovered that how good I'm feeling is wholly dependent on the little successes throughout the course of my day. It used to be reaching a challenging sales goal at the shop, writing a story I was really proud of (still is to a certain extent), earning a fat paycheck,...
These days, it's my ability to navigate through (or circumvent) daily minutiae that sends me into high-fiving, chest-bumping, and chest-pounding territory.
For example, today I hauled the dog and two kids to the vet. The appointment was at 11:10. We got there at 11:08! I'm not always on time, but I have a pretty decent record. Early,though? Unheard of. And, without breaking a sweat? Never. But, there I was, pushing the baby in his stroller with one hand, directing Marley (calmly) to walk alongside the stroller, and holding Cheeba's leash with the other hand. And, miracle of miracles...I managed to get through the door of the office without accidentally smacking a child or animal in the head. Bravo, Rosana! (Yes, I do little cheers for myself too.)
We all sat down to wait our turn. I had packed some snacks so as to avoid any pre-lunch hunger meltdowns. I have forgotten snacks before and have suffered the brutal consequences. So, the two sat munching on their crackers while we waited...
Ding! Our turn. As the doc checked out Cheebs, Marley sat in the examining room chair looking at the diagrams of cats' innards on the wall while Jack continued munching on his cracker. Not a peep, not a whine, not a sound. Hallelujah!
Even the vet commented on how well-behaved MY two children were. Did you hear that? I'll say it again. Even the vet commented on how well-behaved MY two children were.
We leave Cheebs there for some tests and head home for lunch and a nap.
I hummed on the way to the car...and all the way home.
So, I'm reading one of my favorite blogs, The Cut, and I stumbled upon an older article about a fashion trend that was ubiquitous on London runways this past fall -- nipples.
According to the article, the New York sheer-clothing trend was taken to new levels during London's fashion week extravaganza in September. Apparently, every designer was serving up see-through sundaes topped off with cherry nipples.
I couldn't help but imagine what it would look like if I was to sport a sheer top.
First of all, after breastfeeding two children, my nipples just don't take it easy anymore. They are super high-strung and prone to acute anxiety. They also look like they're on some sort of warpath -- ready to attack any and all strange intruders. I'm always a little surprised when my husband makes it to second base that he doesn't scream out, "Ow! Damn! I've been cut!"
A friend once told me she had seen her mother topless and was alarmed by the sheer length of her nipples. She said they "looked like they could cut glass." At the time, I remember thinking. Holy shit, what mutant form of human teat was this woman born with? Not until years later did I realize she was not BORN with those glass-cutting nipples. Some baby sucked the bejesus out of them and she'd been left with the wreckage.
Second of all, it just wouldn't be cute. All the girls in the runway pics had small, but supple breasts, and perky nipples. If my boobs actually had any breast tissue left in them, the nipple issue probably wouldn't be so...dramatic. But, the deflated-balloon boobs actually HIGHLIGHT the nipple issue. Hot.
So, I digress. But, my point is, no sheer tops sans bra for this mommy, unless the "slashed" look suddenly becomes in vogue again. If they can cut glass, they'll certainly slice through chiffon.
Marley's preschool teacher informed me today that my daughter and another little girl in her class had engaged in spit-fire combat. When the girls were pressed about who started the playground war by way of saliva, both pointed to the other.
Now, the other little girl -- we'll call her Cecilia -- has gotten significant airtime at the dinner table over the last couple of months. Marley, no stranger to drama, has this little girl rapidly rising from take-it-or-leave-it status to full-blown nemesis.
It all started with the playground tunnel. As Marley recounts, she was in a tunnel with a bunch of other kids when Cecilia approached.
"We were playing in the tunnel and there wasn't any room. So, I said, 'Sorry. There's no room in here, Cecilia. Go away.'"
At this point, I've started racking my brain for poor examples I may have set that have caused my daughter, at 3 1/2, to be on the road to being a Heather.
"Then Cecilia said to me, 'I'm going to tell Mrs. Mitchell.' And, I didn't think that was very nice of her to say to me at all."
I point out to Marley that it wasn't exactly nice of her to tell Cecilia to beat it from the tunnel. How would she feel if someone had told her to leave? How about next time taking turns?
Ms. Thang was not budging from her "Cecilia's mean" stance.
So, from that point on, she has regaled us with stories each week about Mean Cecilia and, honestly, we haven't been very parent-like in our response. I think part of it is Mean Cecilia is kind of entertaining. Marley, when telling her stories, lights up like a Christmas tree, gesticulating, laughing, playing off our response like a seasoned comedienne.
Now that spitting has entered the picture, though, it's time for US to grow up. Sometimes I wonder about growing up and learning lessons. Harder for a 3-year-old or for her 30-something parents?
I can't believe my baby boy is about to be one. It seems like yesterday that you were born, following two weeks of bedrest. You were the second baby of 2008 in our county (even got in the paper) but your dad always tells people you were first.
I'll get straight to the point...mommy is a pushover. I never believed in the whole "Mama's boy" thing, but I do now. You make the slightest peep and I'm there. At your service, sir. What can I get you sir? A bottle? A cuddle? Rock you to sleep? A lullaby? An intricately choreographed tap dance routine for your viewing pleasure? Right away sir.
You have an easy smile, a laugh that won't quit, and this happy, joyful squeal that would make anyone want to join the party you're at (usually with a phone, remote control or some other electronic contraption).
These days, you like balls. You can play a form of rudimentary catch where we sort of toss (ok, roll) the ball back-and-forth. Your dad has already deemed you a superior athlete. So much for not living vicariously through your children...
You also like toilets -- no surprise since farts, poops, burps, and the like still send your parents into Beavis and Butthead territory. If you could, I know you'd jump right in...just like it's your own miniature pool. For now, when my back is turned, you settle for splashing your little hand around in that lovely, clean toilet water. Yay! Great news for a mommy who thought the Anal Retentive Chef actually had some pretty decent ideas.
You and your sister have sown the seed for a loving (physical assault can sometimes be sort of loving right?) relationship. These days, a lot of times either you're in her business without her approval or she's in yours without your approval. But, then there are those sweet moments...wait, I just lost my train of thought...
Oh well, trust me, you guys have sweet moments.
My favorite, though, is when you're so happy to see me that you bury your head into my shoulder and then try to bite my nose. I know what you mean. If you could, that would be a smooch. I squeeze you, cover your face with kisses, and then bend over so you're upside down. I blow on your neck. You laugh and laugh and laugh. Every part of you is laughing -- even those two lonely bottom teeth, your curled-up toes, your fingers grasping my face.
I know you have to grow up, but please don't do it so fast. Please?
There I am. In my bathroom. Expressing. Milk. From. My. Boobs. Funnel-like cones attached to said boobs, pump pistons workin' on the chain gang, and milk flowing like the salmon of Capistrano.
I'm not sure my nipples have and will ever forgive me.
Travis is downstairs giving Marley* a bottle. She is not taking to the bottle at all. But good Asian and German stock breeds determination. Practice, practice, practice.
I'm upstairs in a zone. The rhythmic sound of the pump reminds me a little of this really cool house track that I used to love to dance to in college...
"Oh no. She finished it," I hear Travis say from downstairs.
The milk receptacles (plastic bags) are just about full. Why defrost another bag?
"WAIT! I'M COMING!"
I run downstairs, tits a-blazin', and fists wrapped around the bags of magic elixir that are going to render my baby immune to...everything.
Without missing a beat, Travis grabs one of the bags. Ok, maybe the sight of me topless, running full-speed down the stairs with two bags of milk, and cone imprints around my boobs gives him slight pause.
But he knows his mission. He dumps the milk in the bottle, screws the top back on, and...aaaaah...Marley continues her tentative love affair with The Rubber Nipple.
I walked back upstairs, victorious, and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Not bad for a cow. *Marley was about four months old when the topless/bags of milk/running down the stairs incident occurred.