Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eyes on the Prize

Rocky IV - Eye Of the Tiger - The most popular videos are a click away

I rock. Finished three miles yesterday -- without stopping, whining, or dying. May be peanuts for you crazy people who actually enjoy running, but for me, it is a feat akin to fighting a 7-foot Russian. It was raining yesterday too, which just added to the ambiance of my yo-Adrienne training session. Just imagine it: I'm running down the parkway, sweat and rain careening down my face, which is twisted into a grimace of pain...and determination. Hells yeah!

The end point was this sign at the intersection of the parkway and the main road near our house. About 100 feet away from the sign, I felt a burst of energy. With my arms pumping and legs picking up speed, I neared the sign. As I got closer, I jumped up and banged it with all my might. I let out a roar, shook my head in fury like a wild animal and ripped my shirt off in a moment of pure physical adrenaline.

Eye of the tiger, bitch! Eye of the MUTHAFUCKING tiger! (Sorry, Rocky-mode means liberal use of the f-bomb.)

Afterwards, I drove to an inner-city warehouse did 500 sit-ups hanging from the ceiling, jumped rope at lightning speed, and did body twists with a 100-pound cement block on my shoulders.

Well, I WOULD have done that if it wasn't for those pesky dinner reservations.

Fuck yeah.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nth Disease

When I had kids, I knew there would be a high probability of lice, pink eye, ear infections and other commonly named maladies in my future. What I didn't have a clue about were all the other strangely named illnesses waiting to pounce on me and my family in the disease-ridden place I affectionately refer to as "Gross," but most people call "preschool."

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Fifth Disease. Sixth Disease. Impetigo. Dub. T. Eff. I'd get all these notices about disease floating around the hallways and classrooms of the sweet Christian day school M attends. "Little Johnny Gross was diagnosed with Fifth Disease last Tuesday. We don't believe he was contagious during the day he was in school, but we still wanted to notify parents."


Just makes me look at all people under four feet as tiny, deadly little incubators for grossness.

I remember the first time I encountered Hand, Foot and Mouth. My daughter was two years old. She developed these little blister-like bumps on her hands and feet. She also had a couple really painful-looking sores on her tongue. Poor little M. I wanted to take the illness away with a snap of my motherly fingers. Still, when the doctor informed me that my daughter had this Hand, Foot, Mouth thing, I nearly slipped and yelled out, "Gross!" Luckily, I was able to bite my non-blistered tongue and refrain from wrinkling my nose into a nonverbal "gross" face.

M recovered after about a week.

Now, once again, the dreaded Hand, Foot, Mouth has struck the Vollmerhausen compound. It's toddling J. I thought the rash was a reaction to the sand, but I had a sneaking suspicion...I thought the fever could be attributed to two molars coming, but I had feeling...Sure enough, took him to the doctor this morning and he's got Hand, Foot and Gross Disease. All we can do is keep his temperature down and wait for the vile virus to have its fun, get bored, and leave.

Still, there is no true end. Next it could be Fifth Disease, which apparently is like a slap in the face -- literally. Or, some other mystery illness that will leave me scratching my head and thinking, "Ok. For real. Who's the douchebag that did a family vacation in an Amazon jungle and picked up some yellow fever nonsense that I've never heard of?"

Sigh. I'm going to rub antibacterial wipes all over my body now, thank you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Does Someone Smell Something?

Despite my incessant pants-shitting about traversing mountainous sand dunes while single-handedly hauling toys, children, towels, snacks, and drinks...our vacation ROCKED. It rocked so hard that not only did M whine when it was time to go, so did I.

My biggest discovery during the midst of all this beach fun? No, it wasn't that getting a tan will erase about seven years from your face. Or, that if I lay on my back and have one of the children placed strategically in front of my midsection, I can still work a bikini like it's 1999.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

(Exhibit B is technically from our trip to the Outer Banks. I am sitting up in this picture and have since learned that laying down produces even better results.)

It's that if I scoop the giant doody out of my drawers every now and again and just let shit fly, vacations -- and life -- are really, seriously fun.

P.S. My husband looks smokin' hot in his board shorts. He made me say that.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Vacation Shmacation

So, on my last day at the beach for the holiday weekend and it occurred to me...I'm exhausted. I just went to put my one-year-old down for his afternoon nap and fell into a deep sleep for several minutes while holding him. I was rudely smacked back into consciousness by The Wordless Wonder. "What? Huh? Who?" I sputtered until I realized what had happened. I looked down to see his smiling face and the weapon that shocked me back awake (his hand) still resting firmly on my cheek.

"You thought you were going to get to sleep, sweetie?" he seemed to say to me, with a look in his eye that was... could it be? Yes. Condescension.

"We may be on vacation, honey. But, get your ass back to work."

There's no question...Since becoming a mother to two small children, I come back from vacations wondering where the "vacation" part of the whole thing went.

Between lugging toys, blankets, towels, snacks, and a toddler... hiking over and across what feels like miles upon miles of sand... doing laundry, getting the toddler to sleep in his Pack 'n Play, which he hates...I've been pushed to my physical limits. Oh yeah, top it off with two days of intense paddle ball on the beach with my husband. I need a massage. And a foot rub. And a nap. That lasts for three days.

I have to admit that the sand is what got me this time. Walking across the sand while hauling J did me in. My 1 1/2-year-old -- who has just started walking -- has this innate ability to become dead weight the minute you pick him up. My mother-in-law says my husband was the same way when he was a kid. Sack o' potatoes. Great.

Today, I was carrying him across the sand back to our place, giving myself a pep talk. "Dig in. Come on Rosana. Dig deep. You can do it." I was breathing like I was in labor or running, "Whhh. Whhh. Shhh. Shhh." Got back to the house and literally collapsed and let J down in a pile on the front stoop.

"My calves better be so rockin' after this trip," I mutter to myself.

With sweat beads still glistening on my brow, I hereby would like to rename vacations with small children. I mean, let's face it. When you go away with kids under five, you get to see new things, do different things, and spend QT together. But, relax? Pshaw. So, let's simply call these family getaways, "changes of scenery." That's right. That way no parents get fooled into thinking they actually are going to get a VACATION.

Give me a break. No seriously. I need one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Next Annie Leibovitz?

As many of you who have preschoolers may have already experienced, we have a budding photographer on our hands. I meant to post this for Wordless Wednesday, but I've been inundated with deadlines, packing for the beach, and breaking up preschooler/toddler brawls, which, incidentally, seem to be taking on a life of their own. More on that later...

It is eye-opening to look at my daughter's pictures and realize, man, the kid doesn't know what the eff is going on. Now that M can express her opinions (argue), verbalize her needs (demand), and tell us when she's not happy (whine), it's easy to forget that she is only four. The simple fact is this, though: She's little. You'd think this wouldn't be a difficult concept to grasp seeing as I still wipe her ass every morning. But, it is easy to lose track in the midst of the often-frustrating daily life with a preschooler.

Pictures tell the truth, though. M sees the world and life from an upwards angle, partially cut off, really big, really close up...and often extremely fuzzy. Or, as in the case of the unfortunate picture of her mother above...completely horrifying. Someday those pictures will be focused, centered, and (adult) level, but for now, every time I get annoyed with how "big" everything seems to M, I'm going to try and remember these pictures.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good Housekeeping

The Black Widow. The Torch. Mistress of Death. These are all names I have come to be known by during my quest toward ultimate domesticity over the last five years.

There are some motherly/wifely duties I have mastered -- keeping a fairly clean and organized house, groceries, picking up dry cleaning (oooh. Good one. I ROCK at that), laundry, making sure the children live through the day...But, there are some chores that day after day, week after week, year after year, continue to elude my housewifely prowess. In fact, not only do they continue to somehow escape my radar, but I manage to do them over and over again, really, really badly.

First on the list is toast. I cannot seem to get toast right on the first go-around no matter how determined I am at the onset. It always takes me two times to get it right. This used to perplex and irritate my husband to no end. He would say, "Rosana. Seriously. What is up with you and toast? What is going on?" as if Toast and I had this long, tortured past that always ended in an ugly confrontation with me throwing Toast head-first into the toaster oven, turning the oven on, and then tossing my head back and cackling with evil glee as it turned a charred, black mess.

The toast incidents continue to this day and my husband has taken to keeping his disappointment to himself, simply shaking his head each time I dispose of the morning hockey puck.

More worrisome than the toast is how these massacres seem to be going beyond slices of bread. Last night for instance, I baked two trays of french fries for an impromptu dinner with the in-laws. The timer was set and there was NO chance these puppies were not going to make it into a pool of ketchup. The timer beeps, I turn it off, but do I remove the fries? No. I say to myself, "I'll take them out in a sec once I finish blah, blah, blah."

Some time later, right before we sit down to our turkey burgers, I yell out in horror, "THE FRIES!" The in-laws have no idea what the hysteria is about until I open the oven.

As I sheepishly sit down to a dinner with burgers, no fries, my 4-year-old daughter decides to go ahead and address the issue head-on as only a preschooler can.

"Mommy kills fries...and plants."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mean Girls

I thought cliques were done and gone once you left highschool. Wrong-o. Apparently when your kids start going to school, that curious "in" crowd and "out" crowd phenomena that dominated your pubescent life rears its ugly head. Except this time, you're in your mid-30s, it's the moms, and the "in" criteria includes seniority, number of kids, and the ever-elusive (to me at least) "craftiness" factor.

Last year was M's first year in preschool and we loved it. When I mean "we," I mean M AND me. M loved her class, her teacher and her new little gaggle of pint-size pals. Most of the parents were new to the school with this as their first time doing anything close to organized with their kids. We all walked around in a clueless daze, giddy over the little art projects our kids would trot out to us each day after class.

I bonded with four of the other moms. We all had two kids a piece and shared a fun, silly outlook on mothering. We relived horror stories about child-rearing, laughed at the ridiculousness of pregnancy, marveled in our little miracles, and compared notes on the minutiae of it all.

This year has been a little different. M hasn't had the strong bonding with any of the kids in her class that she had last year, and I have been equally noncommittal.

It all started with the first week of school, which scared the bejesus out of both of us. M’s class was twice the size of last year's. She was immediately intimidated. I'd see her at the start of class meandering about the sea of kids, not quite knowing who to approach, talk to or play with.

By the same token, at drop-off instead of hanging around for a minute to chat with some of the moms -- as I'd done last year -- I found myself rushing off. At first I thought it was the chaos of drop-off. The blur of screaming babies, frantic moms, coats everywhere, kids scrambling to wash hands before class, and hollering preschoolers facing separation anxiety for the first time would put anyone in oh-my-God-get-me-the-hell-out-of-here mode.

But, really, it was that the moms this year seemed...different. They appeared to already know each other and were always engaged in what looked like hush-hush mom conversations with no room for newcomers or interlopers. As the weeks passed, with each drop-off I started to notice the inner-workings of the clique and found that there were indeed requirements to make it into the inner sanctum.

1. Must have three kids. Yup. Two doesn’t cut it. You must have put in at least three-kids' worth of blood, sweat, and tears. Sort of like a hazing ritual. The youngest one still has to be an infant too -- preferably attached to your chest at all times like a badge of honor. Not sure if I’m ready, willing, and able to go through another stomach-stretching, nipple-pulling, sleep-deprivation torture episode to be part of the “in” crowd.

2. Must have been through this preschool once before with an older child. Seems trivial, but it sets up the whole seniority thing. I remember switching from private Catholic school to a local public school in junior high and wondering how in the heck all these kids already knew each other. Elementary school. They all had gone to elementary school together. Same story more than two decades later. Sorry...SOL on this one as well.

3. Must possess intricate knowledge of The Crafts. Now, I’m only guessing on this one because the times I have overheard conversations, I seriously have no clue what anyone is talking about. The only word that sounds familiar is “homemade” so I am guessing it’s about cooking and making things...from scratch. Shudder. In my defense, I have tried to do arts and crafts with M, but it typically ends up as an exercise in how quickly I can lose my patience. Ultimately, I’m annoyed, she’s annoyed and we’d both rather play dress-up. So, no crafts for me or my kid. I suppose I could try harder...

Marley has adjusted over the course of the school year and has a few pals in her class that she likes well enough. As for me? There are a few other moms that look just as on-the-outside as I do. I think I’ll start my own clique of mom nerds. We’ll be like in Revenge of the Nerds and take over the school. Our mantra will be, Fuck Arts and Crafts!

Lest you think this is all in my head, the husband took M to school the other day and called me on the way to work.

“Hey, what’s up with the moms at school?” he said. “I said ‘Hi’ to a group of them and they looked at me like I was a leper.”

I guess there is one thing that is even more loathed by The Clique than outsider moms. Dads.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Being fairly new to the blogging world, I've never done this Wordless Wednesday thing. So, here's my first shot at it...I like to call this piece, The Last Emperor.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

When Did This Become My Holiday?

I sometimes feel like I'm the nanny. I know the picture above is evidence that I am not the nanny. But, I honestly don't walk around on a daily basis feeling like a capital M-O-M. A lot of times, I think I'm just the slightly older person in the house that is there to make sure everyone eats, sleeps, avoids serious injury, and doesn't sit in soiled diapers all day. I am also the social coordinator, playing games, providing entertainment, and even matchmaking. Sounds pretty mom-like, right? Sure. But, what I'm saying is that at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, I just feel like the gal who's hangin' out with two little kids.

For the first couple of years as a mother, I would just forget that Mother's Day was something I could benefit from. I remember sitting at a Mother's Day brunch with my in-laws when Marley was about two and just thinking the whole time, "Wow. This is so nice. Travis and his sister do such a great job honoring their mom." Then, someone handed me a gift and I actually sat there confused for about 15 seconds.

Part of it was insecurities about being a mom. Feeling like I had to live up to some imaginary standard of capital M-O-M perfection. Part of it was being scared that if I just dove right into this pool of mommy-ness, I'd lose forever the girl I'd come to like pretty well over the past 30 years. And, part of it was a strong aversion to the kitchen (which, I am happy to report, has waned).

This is the first year that I feel like this could actually be my holiday. Not a sea change, but a change nonetheless. Here's what I've discovered. Becoming a mom is not some overnight transformation -- at least it wasn't for me. I had a baby, not a lobotomy. I became a mother over time. It was and continues to be a culmination of the struggles and joys that have created my motherhood experience -- a patchwork of love, hope and fear.

I am a mom when I'm up all night with a bucket holding Marley's hair back as she vomits every hour from the wicked, evil stomach bug we had this past winter. I squeeze her tight and tell her I'm here and I know it hurts. I am a mom when I yell to Jack, "Come here, boy!" and he toddles into my arms as fast as his little, unsure legs can carry him, gleefully throwing his body against mine. I am a mom when I watch Marley on her scooter, proudly pushing along and hollering for me to "Watch me, Mama! Watch me!" I am a mom laying in the pullout hospital chair next to the metal crib with bars so high you'd think lions lived in it. Looking at my baby boy, hot with fever, pumping breast milk every two hours to feed him, and praying, praying, praying he is going to be OK.

And, today, I am most a mom when, in the middle of the night, I sneak out of my warm bed just to be near them. Marley, although it is now 80 degrees out, still insists on wearing her fuzzy, winter footsy pajamas. At some point during the night, she inevitably unzips her jammies and kicks her way out of the heat. Last night was no exception. I kiss her on the forehead, she snorts, and I sit next to her for I don't know how long, just staring. I finally pull myself away and move on.

Next door, Jack is asleep on his stomach. His long body is scrunched up with his knees tucked up hear his chest and his tush sticking straight up in the air. This is the way I find him most nights. He stirs when I walk in. His eyes -- lined with the most enviably long eyelashes -- flutter open. Uh-oh. He looks up at me with sleepy eyes and smiles. He softly cries out, "Mama," before drifting back to sleep. Safe.I leave his room.

I am so overwhelmed that I can't stop smiling even though I am alone and nothing is particularly funny or entertaining. My stomach and chest feel full. My chest even aches a bit. My arms tingle, right down to my fingers. I never knew life and love could feel this way. I sneak back into bed with Travis sleeping soundly. I am so tired. And...

I am a mom.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quote of the Day

Crazy puked today all over himself. (I am no longer fazed by such occurrences.)Stripped him down to his diaper and let him run around. He made a beeline for the playroom and upon entering, where Crazier was already looking at a book, I hear the following:

Crazy: Aaaaaa...PSFFFFOOOO.

Crazier: OH.EM.GEEEE. You are buck butterball. Come here and let me smell your tush.

I could sit here and try to explain in detail the obvious issues with Crazier's statement. Instead, I'll keep it short and sweet.

My fault. My husband's fault. Both of our faults.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who Did It Better? You Decide.

So, in case you're wondering, the Juno obsession has not waned. We (Travis, Jack and myself) are growing a little tired of our pretend roles as Pauly Bleeker, Brenda, and Liberty Bell, respectively. By the way, we haven't let her actually watch the movie, but she's bullied us into give us information on its contents, which we've attempted to do in a G-rated fashion.

Anyhow, the music is at the core of this obsession and Marley has not only learned many of the songs off the soundtrack, but also has mastered the air guitar for each song.

And, so, I present to you two versions of "Tire Swing" off the Juno soundtrack. The first is Kimya Dawson -- the original songwriter/performer. And, the second is our 4-year-old, who I think gives Ms. Dawson a run for her money.

P.S. That funny voice Marley does mid-song isn't some strange alien inhabiting her little body. It's just a character from Bob the Builder that occasionally (and randomly) takes over. She's a girl of many talents, as you can see.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can You Die From Lack of Sleep?

Last week was the worst week of my life with Thursday taking top billing as Worst Day of My Life. I'm talking nervous breakdown, bust-out-the-straight-jacket bad.

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating...sort of. Let me clarify. It was worst week/day of my nocturnal life. The Evil No-Sleep Baby (technically a toddler now) struck again Monday-Saturday. Thursday we felt the worst of his wrath when he literally did not sleep for more than a half-hour stretch at a time.

Teething. Allergies. Congestion. Gas. All of the above? Whatever the culprit was, he was not a happy camper. By Thursday, I had lost my mind.

It was 3 a.m. that fateful night and No-Sleep hadn't slept since 10:30 p.m. He went down as usual at 8 p.m., but awoke two hours later. That was it. After getting up for the fifth time that night(and the umpteenth time that week), I found myself in the family bathroom screaming to the heavens, "Why? Why? Why?" My husband rubbed my back as I rubbed my poor puffy allergy-ridden and sleep-deprived eyes. "I can't do it anymore! I just can't," I sobbed. I had lost all perspective and had turned into an exhausted, angry, frustrated mess.

"I haven't slept in four fucking years!!!" I screamed maniacally.

On a related note, if there is any advice I can give to people contemplating having kids, it's this: Enjoy. Your. Sleep. I had no idea about the alarming degree of sleep deprivation that parents of young children go through while still having to maintain the guise of being good, productive mommies and daddies. I mean, I knew there was going to be no sleep early on, but I had no idea about the amount and duration of said sleep deprivation. Or, that it would unglue, unhinge and destroy me in such a methodical and dramatic fashion.

"Go lie down, honey," my husband said calmly. "I'll deal with him for the night."

"I'm just not cut out for THIS," I yelled.

"I'm not strong enough for THIS," I sobbed.

"I'm not going to make it through THIS," I howled.

He shuffled me off to our bedroom/makeshift psych ward where I went back to bed in a zombie-like state. I lay there for several minutes and listened to my husband whispering to our 16-month-old in a calm, hushed tone. Finally, my eyes shut.

They stayed sealed shut for several hours. I woke up groggy, but sane. The temper-tantrum I threw the night before seemed like a hazy dream. I found my husband in my son's room, asleep in the rocking chair. Jack, passed out in his arms, was creating a pool of drool on my husband's forearm.

I smiled and went back to bed. I'd made it. I. Was. Alive. Lack of sleep hadn't killed me after all. Well, at least not yet...

PS -- That's how I found No Sleep the next day in the playroom at 8:30 a.m. It was nowhere near his nap time.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Where's the Beef?

In an effort to eat healthier (read: get back to my pre-baby weight), I made a meatless chili last night.

I used protein crumbles instead of ground beef. The crumbles actually looked like meat in that they were brown and sort of meat-like in texture. Plus, I was going to be covering all that pesky fake-meat flavor with crushed canned tomatoes and an assortment of spices. So, I started cooking and was feeling pretty confident that what the recipe called a "hearty chili" could indeed be hearty -- sans any bovine influence.

About three-quarters of the way into the process, I decided to sneak a little taste. Hmmmm. Tomato-y. Slurp. Green-pepper-y. Liick. Hmmmmm. Not bad. Searching for a word to describe what I was tasting. It's not overly spicy. Not overly salty. Not overly onion-y. Oh, wait...yes, the word I'm looking for is...bland.

Despite the seasonings (and I did add more to try and pep up my sad, bland chili), my protein-crumble pot was missing a crucial element that I hadn't considered until the very moment I tasted it. Fat. The crock-o-healthiness I had created was all the things you want in a dinner -- veggies, protein, etc. -- without that thing that makes us actually want to eat food...flavor.

So, in the end we threw in some sour cream (fat-full), cheddar cheese (fatter-full), and some corn chips to boot. The family gave the dinner an enthusiastic thumbs up ("Yummmy Mommy, Yummmmmy! Can I have some more corn chips?)

The moral of the story here? When a recipe calls for protein crumbles...substitute with ground beef.