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Momo Fali's: March 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

I have been known to make notoriously ugly birthday cakes. They are made with love and they usually taste okay, but that's as far as I can stretch it.

There was the time I made my husband, what has been dubbed, the diarrhea cake. Not because of the texture, but rather the icing I so lovingly concocted with food coloring. Did you know that blue and green make brown?

And, then there's this. Quite possibly the most hideous cake ever. What you can't see is my son's name, which I removed with Microsoft Paint (widely known as Photoshop for poor people). All you need to know is that the "M" in his name looked remarkably like an "N".

What you can see? The crooked "2" in every corner, the thick letters in "Happy", which ends in a whacked out "y". Oh, and even at two...he knew he was in for years of this, which would explain his reaction.


But yesterday, I was so proud of myself. My father-in-law came to visit and I made a cake from scratch! From scratch, I said! Even the icing was homemade. My letters were well-scripted and I added some red sprinkles to match. This is a masterpiece in my house.

But apparently, I can only do one and not the other. My ugly cakes are yummy, so I should have known that I can't make a pretty cake and have it taste good.

When I sat down and took a bite I said, "Oh no! It's awful! It tastes like flour."

My brutally honest son chimed in, "It doesn't taste like flour. I think it tastes like chalk."

He later claimed he was trying to say that my vanilla cake, "tastes like CHOColate" but I don't buy it for a second.

His birthday is next month, and he asked for it. That's right, I'm going to make that boy a pretty cake.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Fountain of Youth

Each day in the second grade class in which I work, the teacher goes around the room and asks the students if there is anything they are concerned about. The hands quickly shoot up and they begin talking about their problems.

Here is an example of some of the things they've mentioned lately:

"My arm is scratched, because I was playing basketball with my sister and ran into a brick wall."

"My puppy is sick."

"We're moving to a new house."

"I had a hard time waking up this morning."

"My brother has a swim-meet this weekend and I hope he does well."

Then the teacher calls on me and here are some of the things I have said (okay, wanted to say...I don't want to traumatize anyone) in the last couple of weeks:

"Out of my sister's four best friends, three of them have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The third one just got the news."

"My mom is being sued for money which is rightfully hers and was left for her in the will of a man with sound mind, who she nursed through his sickness and death for 12 years. Who's suing? The daughter who never came to visit him."

"I am in a continuing battle with health insurance and our county over medications and therapy that my son needs, but no one seems to want to pay for."

"My husband is working 16 hour days to support us and we never see him anymore."

"I haven't slept well in over 10 years."

And what I've learned from this little exercise in reflection and sharing, is that I really wish I was seven again.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comedy for the Congregation

Last night, my 10 year old daughter had her First Reconciliation (Confession). As archaic as some people believe this Sacrament to be, I like the idea that my kid is acknowledging she has done things which are wrong, like lying and gossiping and spitting out perfectly good food when her mother told her to eat it and then the dog came along and ate it off the floor, so not only did she not eat her lunch but the dog had apple-scented gas all afternoon...hypothetically.

I also think it's a good thing that she saw me in line for confession right there with her. She needs to know that even her parents are flawed and that we are always striving to improve. Some parents were in with the priest for so long that they started turning out the lights (*cough* my husband *cough*).

Because there were roughly 30 kids and quite a few parents waiting for an available priest, we were there for a long time. My six year old son wholeheartedly appreciated this captive audience, and amused us with the following:

*When I pointed to a picture of the Pope and said, "He's the highest priest in the Catholic Church".

My son replied, "Really? So he's very tall?"

*After I told him why we were there he said, "When I have my First Confession, I'll say I'm sorry for this." Then he hit me.

*When his sister left the confessional and was coming back to her seat he yelled, "What did you tell him?"

*While waiting on the playground for my husband to finish up in the church, the kids started playing hide and seek. When my son couldn't find his sister he announced, "Mom! I can't find her. I think she's hiding in heaven!"

When next year's class has their First Reconciliation I'm bringing him with me again...and this time I'm going to charge admission.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Da Bomb

On Saturday night, our family attended a dinner party in honor of our niece's college graduation. It was an elegant little affair, complete with great conversation, an around the world beer tour and some delicious food.

The home of our hosts was amazingly decorated and resembled an English manor. It was a sprawling abode, sitting on a golf course and even had a pond out back with swans swimming about. Thank goodness I took my fake Coach handbag and wore my best Target jacket!

After a few Coronas, Amstel Lights and Red Stripes I still managed to be on my best behavior. But, on the way home I decided to let my real riff-raff self come out and said, "That sure was a nice party. Their house was unbelievable and the food was da' bomb diggity."

Then my son, who was all pumped up on mini-cheesecake and juice boxes, piped up from the back seat and said, "Nuh-uh! The food was really good!"

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Mister Messiah

Because of my son's ear tubes, I still have to help him at bath time. The last thing we need is an ear drum full of playground scum mixed with shampoo.

As I was lifting him out of the tub last night, I grabbed him with the towel and said, "Come here, Mister".

He corrected me and replied, "I'm a Master".

I smiled. "That's true. You'll be a Master for a few more years and then you'll be a Mister, and your sister will be a Miss until she gets married." As I handed him his pajama shirt I said, "When you get big, you'll get married too."

"I will?"

I brushed his hair. "You will if you want to." Then, thinking he might give me a hint as to whether he has a crush on anyone I asked, "Who do you think you'll marry?"

He thought for a moment then said, "I think I'll marry my sister".

I laughed. "You can't marry your sister. You can't marry me, or your Dad, or your cousins, or anyone else in our family." I left out the part about some places in the world which still let you do that. I'm talking to you, West Virginia.

"So, since you can't marry your sister, who do you think it will be?"

And, I will never accuse my boy of not aiming for the top because he went ever so slightly higher than his sibling when he exclaimed, "I want to marry Jesus!"

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Answer: Is the Sky Blue?

This morning my six year old son had an appointment with a psychologist. He was evaluated because we are searching for a diagnosis in order for him to continue receiving an hour of one-on-one speech therapy each week. Therapy which is completely paid for by our county.

Because his report card is perfect and because extensive genetic testing didn't turn up a particular disorder, this is our last resort. Not that I want my son to be labeled, but those therapy sessions cost $250.00 a week and are extremely beneficial. I would hate to kiss them goodbye.

We certainly can't swing an extra bill for $1000.00 a month. Not unless we want to give up something like oh, say...food. Without a diagnosis of some sort, speech therapy will be no more.

So I was pretty thrilled when I was filling out forms for the psychologist and read the question - Does your child ever make inappropriate comments to people such as, "Your sweater is ugly" or "You're fat"?

Because if they're judging him based on that? I don't have a thing to worry about.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Mr. Literal

My husband has been working long hours at his new job, which means I have been doing just about everything with both kids in tow.

Last night I had a committee meeting at their school. While I was in the library, they were to sit across the hall in the music room and read or play some handheld games. They've done this a few times before, but for some reason my son was really restless last night.

After coming in and interrupting us over and over, I finally sat him down in the chair next to me, gave him a pen and told him to draw some pictures in my notebook.

After a few minutes, I looked down to see him happily sketching. He looked up at me and said, "It's a picture of you."

I nodded. Then to further keep him busy I whispered, "You could make my hair longer or write my name on my shirt".

Which explains why I got home from my meeting to find my white, hoodie sweatshirt now has the word "Mom" written on the sleeve.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jogging My Memory

My best friend, Bean, saves everything. It has been particularly beneficial when I want to remember something that happened years ago and need help jogging my memory. She will inevitably pull up her organized computer files and find whatever I'm looking for, then will resend me e-mails that I sent her in 2004 just so I can know which work-out tape I was using when it hurt so much that I called the instructor some very colorful names. Kathy Smith, you mock me with all that talking...and breathing.

Yesterday, Bean sent me this from August, 2002. My son was three months old and obviously having difficulty sleeping. I had sent her this e-mail, probably to vent as I so often did.

I don't know what to do with him. He's been aspirating on spit-up the past couple of nights, so last night I put him in his car seat to sleep, but he still did it. He doesn't breathe very well in his car seat either. I can make sure he's on his side so he won't choke on it, but I can't stop it from going up his nose, and understandably, when that happens he freaks out. He tenses up and won't take a breath. I've heard him do it the past few nights and was able to get to him before he bradied (bradycardia...where his heart rate drops dangerously low), but he's certainly not resting well and neither am I.

What amazes me, is that I had forgotten all about this period of time, but reading about it brought it all back. I now vividly remember his tiny body stiffening and the gulping sound he would make as he struggled to get air down his throat because his nose was filled with fluid. My, maybe, six pound, three month old probably felt like he was drowning.

I figure that I forgot these episodes because there have been so many other tough experiences with my son and it's much easier and makes me much happier to remember the fun stuff. Which is mostly what I write about here.

But, that doesn't mean I will ever forget the first time I stroked my son's head, or the first time he was wheeled away from us for heart surgery, or when a nurse stood over him when he stopped breathing in the recovery room after a surgery three years ago and yelled in my boy's face, "Don't quit on me!"

Some things you can't forget even if you want to.

But, I much prefer to think about the time when we were in Target and he ran away from me and yelled for me to "come chase him and pinch his butt", or the time when he asked me if he could take a quarter to school for "Q" day and put it in the "little pocket on the front of his underwear", or when he saw a woman in a red sweat-suit and called her "Santa's brother". I could never decide if it was worse to get insulted by a five-year old, get called a man, or be told you resemble a jolly old elf.

He once told a very much alive, elderly woman that she had "died" because she was old. He mentioned to our cable repairman that he looked like Santa, because of his "big round belly". And, it's a toss-up as to whether my personal favorite is the time when he told a masculine woman that she looked like "kind of a girl", or when we were at the doctor's office and he mistook two Muslim women's head scarves for bandannas and called them both "pirates".

Some things you can't forget and never, ever want to.

These things that mortified me at the time, now make me laugh and remind me that despite everything this kid has gone through, he still has an amazing spirit and this gift of wit and sarcasm like none I've ever seen.

Which is why I'm glad Bean sent me that e-mail. To remind me not to sweat the small stuff, because my son has come so far. So very far. And, through it all he has chosen to make us laugh instead of complain.

However, none of this can make me stop calling Kathy Smith names.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Cheese Puffs

Last week, we were playing a board game together as a family when my husband blocked our six year old son's next move. Our boy saw his dad's defensive strategy and proclaimed, "Damn it, Daddy!"

He didn't realize he had said anything wrong, so we explained that it was bad, and he need not ever say it again. We didn't need to ask him where he learned it. We knew he had picked it up while playing games with his dad. My husband's competitive nature has also been responsible for teaching our son the words, "sucker" and "crap".

My husband, the sailor, also taught our daughter her first curse word. When she was about two years old we were driving in the car when, out-of-the-blue, we heard the "F" word come from the back seat. Before we had a chance to stop her, she had said it about ten times in a row. At least she used it in the proper venue. Clearly, she had heard that while driving in the car with her dad.

But, I can not blame my husband for the time my daughter did not fling curse words, but instead assaulted us with attitude.

I was extremely hormonal tired, and had been working all day while my husband played with our daughter, who was just a toddler at the time. They sat down to have a snack together as I flopped my exhausted body onto the couch. No sooner had I sat down, than my daughter asked, "Mom, can you get us some napkins?"

Irritated that she asked me, instead of her father, I angrily said, "Oh, sure! Dad's been playing all day while I've been working, but I'll get up to get the FREAKING napkins!"

I returned to the room and tossed them a couple of paper towels before falling back into my seat.

Then I watched as my daughter climbed onto her dad's lap and put her face a mere inch from his. She held that position as she stuck her hand into their snack bag, then glared at him and yelled, "Dad! These are FREAKING cheese puffs!"

But all things considered, I don't think my "F" word is nearly as bad as his.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Picky

My ten year old daughter has always battled me at mealtime. She was born 10 weeks early and was fed through a tube for two weeks before I begged the doctors to let us try bottle feeding her. I have a home video of that first bottle and halfway through you can hear the monitor sound an alarm to let us know her heart rate was dropping dangerously low. Things have only gone downhill from there.

If she was permitted to exist on popcorn, chicken nuggets and Ho Hos there would be no problem at all. The girl is totally doomed when she gets to college. Let's hope she continues to play three sports.

When she was a toddler she would pick at her plate and it would take her an hour-and-a-half to eat a meal. People thought I was kidding until they saw it for themselves.

After Thanksgiving one year, we even received a note from a dear great-aunt who told us how impressed she was with the way our daughter sat at her seat and ate her food, while her cousins left the table and played all around her. For an hour. We didn't have the heart to tell her that it was only because there was turkey and, for crying out loud, she has to chew turkey 136 times before she would swallow a bite. At least it made us look like good parents. For once.

She was so picky in kindergarten, that she would come home with one quarter of her sandwich eaten, and nothing else. I could hear her stomach growling from three blocks away.

Now that she's been around for over a decade, I have learned to work with it.

Tonight I made salmon, which is one of her favorite things to eat. As we always do, we went over our best and worst parts of our day.

And darn if I don't have to work a little harder, because when I asked my daughter to tell us the worst part of her day, she didn't hesitate in saying, "That this salmon has no flavor."

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tatiana

If you are not a viewer of American Idol, let me introduce to you Tatiana. Some of us are hoping Tatiana gets sent home soon...



...and some of us aren't. Here is my son's take on it. Also, you get a look at his OCD flavor of the month. Not long ago, he swiped his forehead a thousand times a day, then he moved on to scratching his arms and legs incessantly, then to pulling up his pants over, and over, and over. See if you can guess what he does obsessively now.


video

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Bessie

When I turned 16 years old, my mom bought me a used car from one of her co-workers. After she brought it home, I gleefully jumped inside to go for my first solo ride.

I went exactly two blocks before the power steering went out as I was turning a corner. All you modern youngsters may not know what I'm talking about, but when the power steering went out on a car made in the mid-seventies, you were no longer trying to drive an automobile. I would compare it to a cruise ship...or maybe a planet. A planet whose orbit you are trying to control with only the power of your biceps.

I got my second car a couple of weeks later (yet, for all intents and purposes it was really my first...two blocks does not a first car make). It was a hand-me-down from my pregnant sister, who could no longer climb over the center console to get to the driver's seat. Why didn't she just open the driver-side door? Because it didn't open. At all.

It was a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and that door wasn't the only thing that malfunctioned. One time, I went to make a left-hand turn and the entire turn signal stick broke off and fell to the floor. I couldn't drive over 55 mph without the tape cassette ejecting and flying into the back seat, and once when I was unlocking the only working door, the entire lock mechanism came out with my key.

My mom often tells stories about her first car. She had three young kids when some people from her work felt sorry for her and gave her a very old, very used jalopy. There were no seats in the back so my sisters had to stand, which had an added hazard because there was also a hole in the floor. And, and those three young kids could often be seen giving the car a push to get it started.

Speaking of pushing...my cousin's first car had a broken gas gauge. Since she was old enough to drive, and I wasn't, guess who got to push it every time it ran out of gas?

I went through three other used cars before, in 1997, I bought my first new car and have been driving it ever since. It's the only car my kids have ever known me to drive and they have affectionately named her, "Bessie".

Coming home from school the other day, Bessie was making some strange sounds when I looked in the rear-view mirror and said to the kids, "Bessie is getting old. I don't know how much longer she'll be running."

My 10 year old daughter matter-of-factly said, "Well, when we get a new car we still have to keep this one."

I laughed. "No. We won't be keeping this one. Why would we do that?"

"I don't know. Just so we could look at it, I guess. Can't we keep it in the driveway?"

I replied, "No. We can't keep it in the driveway. We don't have room in the driveway to keep cars just so we can look at them."

She said, "Aw! That really stinks!" She was genuinely upset about it.

But, what she doesn't know is that I'm planning to drive Bessie for five-and-a-half more years...so it will be in perfect condition to hand over to my daughter as her very first car.

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