How I Spent Valentine’s Day

Yeah, I know I’m reporting on this a few days late, but Valentine’s Day was just so overwhelming this year.

For Valentine’s Day, I got: kisses from my kids; a flash memory card and chocolate from Michael; and the stomach flu from God only knows where. That last gift was something I just had to share, so I gave it to Michael. Cass had it the weekend before, and I think Sam has it now. Bleah.

New Year’s Resolutions

I resolve not to eat anything larger than my head.

I resolve not to forget to exercise. Doesn’t mean I’ll do it, just that I won’t forget I’m supposed to do it.

I resolve to start calling a toilet a toilet, and not a potty.

I resolve not to let the kids watch cartoons unless I get to sit and watch them too. “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” rules!

I resolve not to eat cookies in front of my three-year-old daughter, because if she sees me eating them, then I have to share some with her.

I resolve not to stay up past 10 PM, because if I do, I’ll have no hope whatsoever of getting any sleep. Sam still wakes up twice during the night, wanting to nurse, and at least twice a week Cassie comes scrambling into our bed at 3 AM complaining of monsters in her room. None of this is conducive to sleep.

I resolve to promptly forget about all the above resolutions just as soon as I possibly can.

Another Fond Christmas Memory

Cassie got a stuffed doll for Christmas. It’s sort of a horse wearing a frilly dress with petticoats. We decided to call her Hortence. Anyway, Cassie was playing with Hortence the Horse. For some reason, Hortence “died” and Michael had to revive her. This provided some unexpected amusement…

Cassie: Daddy, Hortence died! She’s dead!”

Michael: No, sweetie. Hortence is only mostly dead, which means she’s still a little alive. You know what that means?

Cassie: Um, noooooooo…

Michael: It means we can bring her back, like this!

(Michael proceeds to give Hortence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Hortence quickly comes back to “life.”)

Cassie (grabbing the newly revived Hortence): Mommy! Mommy! Daddy blow the horse! Daddy blow the horse!

Remember folks, if you just sprayed coffee all over your computer screen, it’s not my fault.

Just One More Christmas Anecdote

Did I happen to mention that after opening the huge mountain of presents that overwhelmed our living room, Cassie actually ran around the house singing “I’m Getting Nothing for Christmas?”

Really, that’s what she did.

Christmas Overload And Recovery




You would not believe the sheer number of presents that got opened in this house yesterday morning. I knew it was going to be bad, because the number of giant packages we had received was already making it hard for people to get in and out of our living room. I swear, the place looked like the store room of UPS.

So many presents, so much excitement. I would have liked for things to have gone at a more leisurely pace this year, but with the kids sick so much of the time prior to the holidays, Michael and I never really got a chance to preplan and prepare, so we ended up running around in chaos like always. Ugh. Maybe next year will be different. Riiiiiight.

Cassie is old enough this year to really get into the whole Christmas tradition. We started with a delicious Christmas Eve dinner, which we ate early (Michael cooked it, Cassie helped). Turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, crescent rolls… yum. Cassie ate a little bit (she’s at that age where all foods that don’t obviously look like candy are “yucky”). Then we all raced to get dressed and head out the door for 5:30 mass. Cass sat through most of mass with her daddy, although I had to leave because Sam wanted to sing… during the homily. Personally, I don’t mind missing mass. I’m Buddhist, and if I’m going to sit that long for any reason, I’d rather meditate than go through the Catholic Calisthenics of stand up, sit down, genuflect, HIKE!

But we got through church and then came home. This is where the real chaos started. I avoided the misery of buying gifts this year by shopping almost strictly online. I gave all the adults the same gift – porn (or rather, the erotica anthology I’m published in this season). However, I hadn’t managed to wrap anything. And of course, neither Michael nor I realized until we sat down that evening that we were almost out of Christmas wrapping paper. Cassie got a few gifts done up in baby shower paper. Don’t think she noticed though.

I wrapped stuff first while Michael got Cassie to bed. Then I spent all evening cleaning while he wrapped. The cats are on a ‘Bah-humbug!’ trip right now, it seems. They went to great pains to puke and poop all over the downstairs carpet (joy to the world, people). But they’re old, so these things do tend to happen. Especially on Christmas Eve.

We made sure Cassie put out milk and cookies. Sometime around midnight, after all the wrapping and the cleaning was done, Michael and I managed to sit down and ‘help Santa’ with his treats. We also put out Cassie’s reindeer food – uncooked oatmeal with silver glitter in it. The glitter is for magic. Then we each exchanged one gift, like we do every Christmas Eve. Michael gave me “Meatloaf: Bat Out Of Hell III” and I gave him a blank book with a love note written in it. The idea is that he now has one week to write a love note as well, and then hand it back to me. Then we’ll pass this book back and forth to each other, adding a love note each time until the book is full and I feel schmaltzy enough to go get another one.

We collapsed into bed around 12:30 AM. I got up four hours later and started working on some caramel pecan rolls. Yes, further proof that I am crazy. My mom always made these things and served them hot on Christmas morning, and they really are good, but they take forever to make. I promised myself that next year, I’d get my act together and make them on Christmas Eve. Of course, I also promised myself that next year I’d have all my presents wrapped the week before and we’d have plenty of Christmas paper to do it with. Michael did buy new wrapping paper this morning at the traditional butt-crack-of-dawn post-Christmas sales, so one out of three ain’t bad, right?

The pecan rolls were ready to eat by 9:30. By then, both kids had been up a couple of hours and we had cardboard boxes and wrapping paper strewn all over the house. Remember how I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we could barely get into the living room for all the boxes? It got worse, a lot worse, once we started opening everything. And it seemed like the boxes were multiplying exponentially under the tree. Open one box and find two more behind it. Open those two and find four more behind that. Open four and find sixteen. Etc, etc, etc.

Around noon I finally had to quit opening gifts to do more cooking. We had an invitation to eat Christmas dinner over at Mary’s parents’ place and I offered to make something. I made a killer spinach soufflé and packed up the second plate of pecan rolls to take with us. By the time I was done, Michael was finishing up with the last package, stabbing it to death with his leatherman to prevent it from breeding any further gifts. The word disaster does not begin to describe the scene in our living room. It was at this point that I really started to feel ill. You can have too many presents, believe me.

And now for some of the highlights on who got what in this gross display of overabundance and wealth…

Cassie: She got a handmade Cinderella costume from her Grandmama. To say it’s gorgeous does not begin to describe it. She had to immediately to try it on, so we caught half a preschooler striptease act on video before Michael was able to turn off the camera. Twenty minutes later, Cassie opened up the Ariel wedding gown her aunt Khaki sent and stripped yet again. She also got a Disney Jasmine and Aladdin doll set. The dolls are dressed in their wedding clothes and look gorgeous, but the look on Aladdin’s face make me think he’s just realized it’s his wedding night and he’s not anatomically correct.

Sam: My little baby got a play saucer, one of those giant contraptions that’s supposed to keep kids entertained and out of trouble. The idea is that you sit babies in the little diaper-style seat amidst a frightful of light-up noise makers, allowing them to scream at the top of their lungs while they flail their little feet a mere inch or two above the carpet and fail to go anywhere at all. It looks like the mother ship from ET. Or maybe Close Encounters. I can’t decide.

Michael: I always try to find something that Michael will enjoy, yet hasn’t been listed on his wish list. I know, I know. Wish lists are there for a reason. But to me, it’s so unoriginal to keep checking off items on his list every time a holiday, birthday, or anniversary rolls around. So this year I decided to give him the gift of intelligent conversation. I got him a subscription to Scientific American, a magazine that looks at what’s happening in all areas of science and talks about topics like relativity and unified field theory (areas that Michael wants to do research in someday). The idea is that he and I can both read the magazine and then discuss it at the dinner table, in the car, wherever we get the chance to talk a bit. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do more than just look at an issue and say, “Oh, pretty pictures!”

Me: In addition to the Meatloaf CD, Michael also gave me sleepwear. You can tell our marriage has only gotten better over time. Years ago, he would have bought me Victoria’s Secret. This year he got me “Nightmare Before Christmas” jammies. The man truly loves and understands me. I also got the “You Can Do It!” book set (a merit badge handbook for grown up girls) from my sister, several boxes of Darjeeling tea from my parents, and the Action Heroine’s Handbook from Angie. Angie is always sending me cool stuff like that. One year, out of the blue, she sent me a psychedelic wall plaque of Ganesh. It’s still up in my dining room today. Cool!

Other odds and ends of note…

Once again, we got Trappist Monk cheese from Michael’s parents. You either love this cheese or you hate it. Whichever you decide, pray that it uses its overwhelming powers of stinkiness for good and not evil.

In addition to Cassie’s spontaneous strip tease acts, we also caught a few other interesting tidbits on tape. At one point, she was sitting with Michael while he worked on assembling the mother ship. Cassie kept putting her foot on the frame, so he responded by taking his screw driver and pretending to screw her foot to the saucer. Cassie was having so much fun she turned to me and shouted, “Mommy, Daddy keeps screwing me! Screw me again Daddy! Screw me again!”

So anyway, now that you’re done spraying coffee out of your nose, that was our Christmas. We headed over to Mary’s parents’ for dinner and had a wonderful time there. When we got home, I went to work on recovering my house. It took me two hours, but I eventually found the living room floor. Now I’m gearing up for a post-Christmas party. I’ve got a cake baking in the oven and once Sam is done nursing, I’m going to sit down with a cup of joe and one of my new books and do some reading. Hope everyone out there had a wonderful holiday, and enjoy New Year’s Day!

Holiday Miracle

I never thought it would happen. Last night, after weeks of dealing with sick children, after weeks of having both kids in bed with us crying and fussing, last night for the first time in ages, Sam and Cassie slept through the night in their own beds!

It’s a miracle! Can I get an amen? AMEN!!

If this happens again, I’m calling the Pope.

Of course, Sam probably thinks it was a miracle that I didn’t stick a thermometer up her butt when I changed her diaper this morning.

Happy Father’s Day

I am so tired, I am blind with sleep.

I think it was T. S. Elliot who wrote about the burnt out stubs of the end of the day. That’s what all of yesterday felt like to me, or maybe that’s what I felt like to me. Completely burnt out. I checked my breast feeding log. Between midnight and 5:30 AM I nursed Sam four times. Cassie came into the room three times during that period, crying about monsters under the bed. So I got no sleep and felt completely fried by the time 8 AM rolled around. I was up a lot last night too, so today won’t be much better.

I pretty much stayed fried all day long. Michael left the house at 7 AM to go to a karate review for black belt testing. He didn’t have to go, but he decided he wanted to, and after that he planned to hit the hardware store. He’s in the middle of ripping out our downstairs toilet so he can re-tile the floor. Apparently the plumber installed the toilet incorrectly so now Michael has to chisel and hammer out a good bit of concrete to fix the problem. Joy.

Between the karate review and Michael’s trip to the hardware store, I ended up spending the day alone with Cassie and Sam until 1 PM. This was my first time on my own with both kids. I’d love to say it went smoothly, but I could not seem to get my act together to save my life. I had wanted to finish up my housecleaning chores early so I could get Cassie outside to play. No such luck. Every time I turned around, I was back in the glider nursing Sam. She must be going through a growth spurt. Cassie played pretty well on her own, but started driving me nuts asking if she could put a blanket over Sam. “It’s 90 degrees outside, honey. Sam doesn’t need a blanket.” Then it was the constant requests for milk, of which we had almost none, and the requests of television, which I wasn’t going to allow. Somewhere in between all the nursing and dealing with requests, I got the housecleaning done. But even though I was up at 5:30 AM to get a jump on the chores, the cleaning still wasn’t done until 12:30 PM. Where the hell did all that time go?

From 5:30 AM until 12:30 PM is seven hours. Figure I spent about forty minutes in the chair each time I nursed, and I nursed three times between 5:30 AM and noon. There’s two hours for you right there. Half an hour went to breakfast. That still leaves me with four and half hours. It should have taken no more than an hour to do the basic chores, and then another half hour to do some detailed cleaning in the bathrooms. That would have left me with three free hours, which I had planned to spend playing with Cassie and Sam in the backyard. But that never happened. All I can recall is an endless session of trying to clean house. I feel like one of those alien abductees thinking about all that time, because I have no idea what happened to it.

But none of this has anything to do with Father’s Day, which is today. Michael told me he planned to spend the entire day with Cassie and Sam, because they’re the reason he’s a father. He also said something about wanting to go on a picnic with the whole family. We’ll have to see if either of those things happen, because I know he’s still anxious to tear up the concrete in our downstairs bath. I’ve got a present for him, something I know he wants, and if I’m lucky, I still know where I hid it. I’m up early enough I ought to be able to make him breakfast, although he’s not getting it in bed. I just can’t pull that miracle out of my behind. The best I may be able to do is convince Cassie that she does not need to wake up her father any earlier than 8 AM, and then try my best not to resent Michael for getting to sleep in so late. Personally, I can’t recall the last time I slept in until eight. I was up at 5:30 AM even on Mother’s Day.

So you can see, we don’t have much planned for Father’s Day this year, but we’ll do the best we can. I figure I should get bonus points just for remembering anyway. After all, sixteen days ago, I did tear the hell out of my vagina pushing one of his kids out into the world.

That’s got to count for something, right?

Memorial Day

Memorial Day brings back fond memories for me. This time four years ago, I was lying on an examining bed in a doctor’s office having an interuterine insemination. My husband was there, as well as Rita, the nurse who performed the procedure, thus allowing me to joke that there were three people involved when Cassandra was conceived. I had no idea four years ago what I was getting into, and some days, I still don’t know.

We did the same infertility procedure back in September for Samantha, the baby who is currently kicking the stuffings out my innards and leaving me with enough stretch marks to make my hide look like a map of Rhoade Island. There were five people present this time, including myself, Michael, Cassie, Rita and Dr. Flood, our reproductive endochronologist. Cassie was extremely excited to be involved in the creation of her future sibling, and has gone through every step of this pregnancy with me. I mentioned in an earlier post that while I’ve been pregnant with baby Sam, Cassie has declared she is carrying “Baby Boy.” Baby Boy does every thing Baby Sam does – kicks, wiggles around, eats his “mommy’s” food. If you ask Cassie very nicely, she will pull Baby Boy out of her navel and show him to you. She’s even complained of having contractions, suddenly stopping in the middle of the room, grabbing her belly and going, “Ooh! I having contractions. I have to lay down!”

Cassie doesn’t know it yet, but I went out and bought a “Baby Boy” for her. I had a hell of a time finding a baby doll that was just the right size and look. Too many of them are all cutsied up and made tinier than real babies. And I’ll be damned if you can find a doll that’s actually male. I don’t expect them to be anatomically correct, but would it kill any of these overpriced toy manufacturers to sell baby dolls with little blue outfits? Every single one of the dolls I looked at came with pink clothing, which I thought was pretty weird, considering they were all made in China, a country not known for valuing female children.

But I did some hunting and finally found a decent looking doll with a little purple and aqua colored outfit. I also got Cassie a stroller, some feeding toys and a spare set of clothes. She has a rocking chair already, and I’m pretty sure that Cassie is more than likely going to go through the whole diaper-changing/breast-feeding routine with me, just like she’s gone through the rest of this pregnancy. All of which just astounds me.

Four years ago, I wasn’t even pregnant. Today I’ve got a tall, skinny three-year-old who loves to run, play, count, sing, read and chase the cats. She can converse better than most adults I know. In fact, yesterday, while we were housecleaning, Cassie turned to me and said, “So how’s your day been so far, sweetie?” And when I asked her about her day, she shrugged and said, “Oh you know, the usual cleaning and stuff.” It’s the weirdest mix of adult and child I’ve ever seen, but she’s mine and I love her.

So for Memorial Day, I celebrate Cassie and the baby about to come. We’ll have burgers and potato salad at my best friend Cindy’s house where we can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her new baby, and I’ll remember what it was like to lay on that examining table four years ago and start down the road to parenthood myself.

Yeah, sappy, I know. Wait a few weeks until I’m up to my hips in poopie diapers and spit-up. Then I’ll be back to my cynical old self. I promise.