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Momo Fali's: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

What Happens When Mom Goes Out Of Town

Should I be insulted that my husband tried to hide the box in the vegetable/Diet Coke drawer? I can hear him telling the kids, "She'll never look in here."

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

At Least He Stays On Task

While visiting with an employee of my husband's today, my son looked at her and said something I've never heard him say before..."Poopee-Head".

I said, "Hey! Do NOT say that again. We don't say that because it's not nice. Do you understand? Do NOT say that again".

Because, in his mind that means he has permission to proceed, he looked at me and said, "Poo..."

I glared at him and waited for the rest, but it didn't come. My husband's employee and I had continued our conversation, when my son got up and came over to my chair.

And, I truly believe he thought he wouldn't get in he had created a completely different word...when he looked at me, finished what he started, and said, "...pee-Head".


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Just Don't Call Me Goober

I am in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio this week taking classes for the family business. Truly, this is the smallest of small towns, and it's making me realize what a city girl I really am. But at the same time, I'm finding out just how jaded that's made me.

This afternoon, I went into a little coffee shop for a caffeine fix and while I was I paying, I looked outside to see a group of boys pull up on their bikes. They were probably about 14 or 15 years old, and there were a lot of them. They were all wearing black and had piercings in places that looked really painful. At first I was surprised to see them and all their gothness in this Po-Dunk town, but that only lasted only for a second, because the next thought that crossed my mind was that I had to walk through them when I went outside.

When I left the city yesterday, I was behind a man in a truck stopped at a traffic light when a car pulled up next to him. A young girl in the car took a full cup of soda from a fast-food restaurant and threw it at the man in the truck, then she and her friend quickly pulled away. It made me sick. Here was this poor guy, probably on his way home from work, and he AND the inside of his truck were covered with sticky soda because some stupid kids thought it would be funny. If he hadn't been on that road, it would've been me.

That incident was fresh in my mind as I left the coffee shop today. I eyed that group of boys, clutched my purse a little tighter, stood a little taller, and tried to look all rough-and-tough in my girly-girl linen shirt as I walked out the door. I was prepared to get called a name, or have something thrown at me, or get followed and harassed. Instead, one of them saw me coming toward the door and he jumped off his bike to hold it open for me. I was still hesitant when I said, "Thank you". But, when he said, "Sure thing. Have a good day", then hopped back on his bike and started talking to his friends, I realized he was actually just a really nice kid.

Maybe living in Mayberry wouldn't be so bad after all.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Baby Steps

Yesterday afternoon, we were at a picnic with some friends when my daughter got a blister on her hand. She had been playing on the monkey bars, and though she has been doomed with blistered hands from the monkey bars many times before, she keeps going back for more. Seeing as how this is completely preventable pain, I have a hard time giving her much sympathy. Especially because these are, ”OH!! TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES!” blisters. The kind where she cries real tears when she washes her hands and cries, “It burns! It burns us!”

I have no patience for this lack of toughness. It’s probably because I’ve seen my son go through eight surgeries in his five years, and have seen him poked and prodded with needles more times than I can count. He once had an IV in his head, and he has scars all over his hands and feet from all the other times he’s needed something dripped into his body. He doesn’t even cry anymore when he goes to the lab for blood-draws, and immunizations are a walk in the park. Once, in recovery after surgery, he actually stopped breathing. His Dad and I stood there in terror and disbelief as a nurse stood over our son yelling, “Don’t quit on me! Don’t quit on me!”

So a few years ago, when my daughter fell to the floor in a panic as I came at her with a sewing needle to remove her first splinter, I didn’t even know how to handle the situation. At first, I thought she was joking. Because, really? Could a five year old actually melt down because of a splinter? The answer is, yes. My mild-mannered, sweet, wonderful daughter TOTALLY flipped out. She was on her back, lying on the floor, kicking, screaming, crying, snotting…it was unreal to me. When I finally got her to calm down and got that splinter out, she seemed to be rational again. She said, “It wasn’t that bad. It didn’t even take you very long.” I thought we had an understanding.

Turns out, I was wrong. Way wrong. Shortly after the splinter, she needed a strep test done and freaked out so much at the sight of the throat swab that she threw up. A strep test the next year took all my strength, along with the muscles of two nurses to keep her still. All while the doctor pinched my daughter’s nose shut to force her to open her mouth. Simple procedures and things like paper-cuts send her into so much of a tizzy, that we are ever fearful that she will actually injure herself, then go into shock. I can’t imagine a broken bone or a deep cut. God help us and everyone in a ten block radius if the girl ever needs surgery. They would definitely have to use sedatives…and I’m talking about for me. “Ma’am, please put down the nitrous tank. Your daughter needs you.”

But tonight, I looked at my daughter and saw her rubbing her blistered hands without any tears in her eyes. Maybe it’s because she’s getting older, maybe it was because she was with friends, maybe it’s because I told her last night that she needs to “buck up”. No matter what kept her from coming to me and crying in pain, I was really, really proud of her and this new found backbone of hers. Another thing no one tells you about being a parent is just how gratifying such small steps can be.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

And So Life Goes

I'm not trying to go all Alanis Morissette on you, but isn't life ironic?

My husband and I just got back from a couple of days away to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years ago today, on August 23, 1997, at exactly 2:00 PM, at a church not far from here, our marriage ceremony began.

When I think back on our wedding vows, I remember them very clearly. We stated that we would be true to each other, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, until we are parted by death.

Today, on August 23, 2007, at exactly 2:00 PM, at a funeral home not far from here, my Uncle's calling hours began.

Tonight when I saw my Aunt, who had been married to her husband for 43 years, I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have been married to mine for only ten. I can only hope and pray that my Uncle is looking down and helping us on this journey. He obviously knew what he was doing.

I am sitting here at my computer, still drying my eyes after a tough evening at the funeral home. To my Uncle, I love you and I will miss you. To my husband, I love you and I cherish you.

Until we are parted by death.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just Call Us The Griswolds

My husband and I have notoriously bad vacation luck. A few years ago, during Hurricane Charlie, we were at a hotel in Virginia when it started raining in our room at about 2:00 AM. It had nothing to do with the hurricane though. It was due to the yahoos upstairs who left their shower running, then went out for the evening. I heard one drip coming down near a window, and by the time maintenance got there it was like we were in a downpour. Everything was soaked. We had the displeasure of moving the kids and all the gear that comes with them, to another room in the middle of the night.

During the huge blackout of 2003, we were stranded in a hotel in Cleveland. Not only was there no electricity, but there wasn't any water either. No ice, no flushable toilets, and no gas in our car to get the heck out of the blackout area. AND, to top it all off with a big, fat cherry on top, our daughter was very, very sick with what we later found out was viral meningitis. Ahhh...good times, good times.

A few months ago, my husband and I were at a hotel in Indiana when an alarm went off at 4:00 AM. We were on the 11th floor, and for an hour we heard this over and over, "There is an emergency in the building. Please stay where you are until you receive further instructions." I sat on the edge of the bed, with my shoes on, ready to run out the door as soon as that voice told me to do so. Thank goodness, she never did.

A couple of days ago we woke the kids at 5:45 AM for our last family trip of the summer. It started raining halfway into our drive and never stopped. We were supposed to go to an amusement park, but instead we ended up walking around Wal-Mart for hours before we could check into our hotel. Woo hoo!

At about 11:30 that night, my husband and I were watching TV in our hotel room, with the kids sound asleep in the bed next to us, when the electricity went out. A few minutes later a fire truck arrived and parked below our 3rd floor window. I barely had time to picture myself fashioning a ladder made of hotel-room bedsheets before the fire alarm went off. We each grabbed a kid, some warm clothes, and the car keys, and evacuated the building with all the other guests. It was cold, it was raining, it was a nightmare. We sat in our car until 2:30 AM before they let us back into our room.

The ride home yesterday was literally hell and high water. We had to drive at a snails pace to get through the massive amounts of water on the road. But, as we would go through the mini-lakes on that little two-lane road, our daughter would laugh out loud. She thought it was FUN! I was clutching the door, constantly checking that seat belts were fastened, and telling my husband to be careful...and she was laughing.

I suddenly thought about how our son had slept through the entire debacle the night before. Neither one of our kids heard the blaring alarm. And, how my daughter, wearing her Daddy's big sweatshirt, was perfectly content to lie in his arms in the front seat of the car while there were firefighters running around outside. They had no sense that anything was wrong or that there was anything to worry about. As far as they were concerned, they were safe and sound, and Mommy and Daddy would take care of everything.

And, with that realization, I finally found myself with a smile across my face.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

He Gets This From His Dad

At the store the other day, while I was looking at face moisturizers, my son asked, "What's that for?"

I told him it's for Mommy's little lines in her face, and that I put lotion on so those lines don't turn into big wrinkles.

He pointed at the lady standing near us and says, "She needs lotion too."


Friday, August 17, 2007

I'm More Like Underdog

I ran into one of my son's preschool teachers at the grocery store the other night. It was one of those rare trips to the store where I'm not distracted by two kids, or trying to push one of those semi-truck-carts with the steering wheel that is supposed to keep my son occupied, but never does. My point is, I could actually stop and talk with her. Now, I am not one for small talk. I hate small talk. Especially the awkward, yet inevitable, discussion of weather that is the topic of choice on elevators.

But, this woman....this amazing woman who is a preschool teacher, who is ALWAYS smiling and so happy, and saying how blessed she is, and who, when told the children are lucky to have her replies, "No, I'm lucky to have them"...well, quite frankly she fascinates me. How anyone can spend their day with a roomful of toddlers and pre-kindergartners, without going looney, is really beyond me. AND, she has two children of her own. I find myself looking at her with this weird sense of fascination...part admiration, part freak show. Because, having all those children around her all day, and always having that smile...well, that's as odd to me as the human blockhead.

So, there we were in the grocery store talking about back to school stuff. I told her that I wasn't really looking forward to the hustle and bustle of schooldays, but that I would enjoy having my house clean for a few hours a day. She laughed and said, "Oh, you can't worry about a clean house, because after all, we can't be Supermoms." Really? Because, in my eyes she might as well be catching bullets in her teeth and leaping tall buildings in a single bound, and I'm just Jimmy Olsen watching from the sidewalk.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What A Pain

Am I the only one bothered by the radio advertisement for The Petal Study? Have you heard it? They're advertising a medical study for a new endometriosis medication. It's actually painful to listen to.

It goes something like this...
"If you feel as if you're wrapped in barbed-wire, AND you're lying on a bed of nails, AND there's a cinder block on your stomach, AND someone is pounding on may qualify for The Petal Study."

Wow. It makes me want to run out and hug anyone I know with a gynecological problem. It also gets me thinking about how you would qualify someone for The Parenting Study.

"Have your senses been deprived due to a lack of reading anything more intelligent than Dora books? Does school tuition leave you with an empty dinner plate? Are you sleep deprived and exhausted from being exposed to fire truck sirens and the High School Musical CD? Do your feet ache from stepping on errant toys? Have you forgotten what it feels like to have an adult conversation? If so, you may qualify for The Parenting Study."

I'm sure I know what my friends without children are saying...

"I think I'd rather have endometriosis."


Monday, August 13, 2007

What I Learned At The Dollar Movies

I have been to the movies three times in the past four days. I don't know what's gotten into me. My husband and I used to see movies all the time. You know, back when we had lives. But, the opportunity to see a film has dwindled to a few times a year, and usually movie night is reserved for those of the Disney/Pixar variety.

But, Friday night my husband and I got a babysitter and snuck out for a few hours. After a nice dinner, we spent $17.00 on movie tickets (plus another $10.00 on concessions) to see The Bourne Ultimatum. It was a good movie, but what is with the shaky camera syndrome? There were times I had to look away, because every scene looked like it had been filmed in an earthquake. And, the editing was so quick and choppy that I had the sensation of spinning about in a Cuisinart. I liked the movie, but I left there feeling really OLD. Those darn Hollywood youngsters and their flashy cinematography!

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the day at the mall while the boys were away. After visiting all the stores with floor to ceiling glitter, where girls are getting their ears pierced and buying all things that sparkle, I decided to take my daughter to her first chick-flick. We spent $12.00 for tickets and $3.00 more for popcorn, then settled in for the new Catherine Zeta-Jones movie. I had heard it was good. A make-you-laugh, make-you-cry film. Yeah right. It was BOR-ing. I can't even believe we stayed awake.

Today I decided to take the kids to see Evan Almighty. It's playing at the "dollar movies", and because it's Monday, and we had more than three people, we got in for 50 cents each. They also had a deal where you could buy a kids-meal sized box of popcorn AND a drink for $2.50. Sign me up!

Turns out, this was my favorite movie of the three. Not because it was a bargain, though that was nice. But, because I laughed, and both my kids laughed, AND to top it off this movie had some moral value.

I didn't walk into the theater thinking it would be anything but mere low-level entertainment. Just something to do for a couple of hours on a hot, August day. But, we left there having learned lessons in courage, decency and goodness. My daughter picked up on the "Acts of Random Kindness" message, whereas I paid particular attention to the part where Morgan Freeman says, "If you pray for patience, do you expect God to just give you patience? Or, does He put you in situations where you can learn to be patient?" I suddenly remembered a co-worker who once told me you should never pray for patience, because if you HAVE it, then you may be put in a predicament where you NEED it. This was before I had kids, so I really had NO CLUE about how often I would need to stay calm and composed.

Who would've thought I'd be reminded of those words of wisdom at the dollar movies? There on the sticky seat, eating popcorn out of a kid's meal box, with the two little people who most often test the patience that I'll try not to ask for anymore.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Look At Me

My two kids have recently taken to acting like dogs. Not only that, but I am frequently summoned to watch their "dog shows", where they pretend to eat, sleep, slurp water, play fetch, and bark a lot. It's fascinating.

In addition to these performances, I am often asked to watch dance moves, rope jumping, big-wheel riding, bubble-blowing, and swingset tricks. I also have to keep track of movements, or time them, A LOT. "Mommy, see how fast I can run around the house." "Mommy, count how many times I hop before I get to the car." These are the times I want to reply, "See how fast Mommy can make a margarita."

Why is having an audience so appealing to kids? My son even wants someone in the bathroom with him to observe his peeing skills (or lack thereof). I can't think of anything I do that I would want someone to see. Look at me! I do dishes, I fold laundry! I am amazing with a vacuum!

But, despite the constant interruptions and sometimes being bored to tears, I do find charm in knowing the mundane is so interesting to them that they want to share it. There is such innocence in getting excited about the ordinary tasks of getting to the car, or going to the bathroom. Or, in finding abundant joy because you're playing inside a big cardboard box.

Maybe we should all try to find delight in the commonplace, because it sure seems like a great way to live. Maybe if we have an unconventional attitude, we'll learn to appreciate the day-to-day. Though, it's hard to picture adults doing that. Because, I'm thinking that if I wanted to skip through the grocery store, I'd probably need one of those margaritas first.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Good Samaritan Blues

I would make a horrible beggar. I've come to this conclusion because I'm starting to notice that whenever anyone does something really nice, it almost always brings me to tears.

I had my first generosity-meltdown a few years ago. It was Thanksgiving, and our son was very, very sick with a blood infection. We had spent the previous day at the ER and instead of admitting him to the hospital, they prescribed a $300.00 bottle of antibiotics. Other than seven days worth of IV meds, it was the only thing that could fight the bacteria. Well, being that this kid doesn't do anything without making it harder first, he decided that as soon as one drop of that medicine hit his tongue, he would get violently ill. I can't blame him, considering the taste reminded me of the time I was dared by my elementary school "friends" to lick a light pole. Mmmmm....wet steel, covered with stranger's fingerprints and dog pee. DEEE-licious!

So, we made an emergency call to the doctor on Thanksgiving morning, just knowing we were about to get sent to the hospital for a week long stay. But instead, our wonderful pediatrician offered to open her office, AFTER making Thanksgiving dinner for a house full of people, to put in an IV port. We made arrangements for a nurse, who also happens to be my son's aunt, to come to our house every day to give him his meds. You can't imagine how happy we were that our lives didn't have to be turned upside down. Our son didn't have to spend a week in the hospital, and he was in the comfort of his own home when he was very sick. I cried every day during that time, because things could've been much different. And, I was so grateful they weren't.

When my husband was between jobs and we were low on money, my hairdresser gave me a free haircut. I cried like a baby right there in the salon. When I think of the time my Mom gave a classroom of developmentally disabled children $5.00 each at the Secret Santa giftshop, or when my husband gives money to people on the street, I get misty. When I envision all the men and women who serve this country, I weep. And, even though my neighbor knows I'm scared to death of her cat, she brought me a dozen roses today for taking care of him, and I almost blubbered in her face.

I have come to accept that I am an emotional wimp when it comes to generosity. And, as much as I want to simply thank you, please know I can't help it if I simply boo hoo.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Public Apology

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail tonight called "Kids - The 15 Step Program". It was a humorous look at all the things you should do BEFORE you have kids to see if you're ready for them.

What got me was Lesson #2, which said that before you have children, you should go find a couple who does, and then BERATE them about discipline, sleep habits, breastfeeding, toilet training, and for allowing their children to run wild. That way, once you have children, you'll know how to take such unsolicited advice from non-parents.

Unfortunately, I have to own up to something. I used to be that person doing the berating. Only, I had a child at the time.

Our daughter was, and for the most part still is, a model child. She never acted up, cried in the check-out line, threw her food, talked too loud, or had random fits. When I told her "don't do that again", she didn't do it again...ever. After two years with a pacifier, we took it away cold-turkey, and she never even cried for it. She was completely potty trained in three days and didn't have a single accident after that. Everything came easy. So, I hope it's understandable that I completely believed this whole parenting thing? Well, it was a breeze really! Why didn't all these other parents know how to raise their children?!

Ah, but things have a way of working out. I was firmly, and absolutely, put in my place when my son was born. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has been easy with this child. Aside from his health problems, there were major challenges in feedings, crawling, walking, talking, potty training, and dressing himself. He doesn't mind having purposeless breakdowns, and he has the ability to make just about anyone uncomfortable with his glaring honesty. If I tell him, "don't do that again", that means I've given him a green light to do it more. In church, he mocks the choir and throws his head back while he dramatically lip syncs. And, he will walk up to strange women and ask me, "What's HIS name?" His latest act, for which we can't seem to find a solution, is that he becomes visibly upset if he sees, or even hears, another child crying.

But, it's that sweet, wonderful sensitivity that gets to me. That, and when he's not actually making fun of someone, he's really very funny. Quite the comedian, in fact. And, all those challenging milestones? Well, that was all the proof we needed to see that no matter how hard something may be, he's going to work at it until he can do it. Even if it takes YEARS.

So there. My son is not a model child, but to me he's pretty perfect the way he is. And, to all those parents I criticized when my daughter was young. I'm sorry. I really had no idea.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Ignorance Is Bliss

On occasion I participate in research studies for a local marketing company. They call me, ask me a bunch of questions, and if I answer the way they want me to, I'm asked to come in and give my opinion. In return, I get a couple of hours out of the house, some adult conversation, and a paycheck.

The only part of this process which I dislike are the phone interviews. They call A LOT. And, the opportunities to participate in a study for money are far and few between. Of course, if I have a pleasant person on the other end of the phone doing the interview, it's not so bad. That was not the case the other night.

A gentleman (and I use that term loosely, only out of respect to his Mother) by the name of Mack, called. The beginning of the conversation always consists of general questions about yourself....age, occupation, income, etc. He then went on to ask me ten minutes worth of questions about my buying habits, before telling me that I qualified for the study, and was invited to participate in person. He gave me the location, date and time and then asked if I would be able to attend. After I confirmed that I could, he said, "Well, I thought so, since you're just sitting around over there."

Uh, what did you say? Mack? Is it Mack? I would be happy to let you fill my shoes for a day. I'll take my turn over at your desk, at your stressful job surveying people, and you can come over here for awhile. You can take care of my five year old who likes to pee mostly around the toilet, and my eight year old who will inform you that she's bored within five minutes of your arrival. You can spend an hour making dinner that, mysteriously, no one will want to eat when it's hot, and in the meantime, answer phone calls from stupid market research companies. You can change my son's shirt three times in a day, wipe his butt, give him all his meds, and deal with the insurance company who always seems to be jerking us around. You can also teach my son to read, help my daughter at softball practice, and you can clean the house. Oh, and that last one...well, it's pretty funny, but as soon as you clean it, it will be a mess again. It's like magic, or something.

Those were all the things I wanted to say. But instead, all I could spit out was, "Mack, I'm guessing you don't have kids". Of course he doesn't. Because interviewing people over the phone doesn't pay for the endless amounts of food they eat, the clothes they tear through, and especially not school tuition. In the end, I will be satisfied with the knowledge that "I'm just sitting around over here", with my crazy kids, crazier dog, stressed-out husband and messy house. And, that Mack's just sitting around over there, and he can only hope to someday have a life as good as mine.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Here Kitty Kitty

Our neighbors are on vacation and I'm taking care of their house this week. I've been watering the flowers, collecting the mail, and feeding their cat. For those of you who really know me, that last task is my version of torture. I have Ailurophobia. That's a fancy word for "cats scare the poo out of me".

My fear of cats started when I was in elementary school. It seems my house-sitting abilities were evident early on, because I used to open and shut my neighbor's curtains, and take care of their cat when they went away. They had a big, white, long-haired cat who was the meanest animal I've ever known. And, just to add insult to injury, his name was Fluffy.

That cat taught me the first lesson in feline behavior, which is that they can never be trusted. He was always nice to me when his owners were home, but once they left town and I'd show up to feed him, things would turn ugly. Fluffy used to greet me at the door standing on his HIND LEGS, while baring his teeth and hissing. As I entered the house, he would swat at me, then chase me from room to room, hissing at me the whole time. I hated that cat, but I loved the money, so I'd go back every summer to be battered and scratched up some more.

My fear of cats only got worse as I aged. I once locked myself in my sister's bathroom because her two cats were meowing right outside the door. It's like they knew. I stayed in there until someone came looking for me and they had to physically move the cats before I would come out. And, last year when a stray cat showed up at our campsite and jumped into my husband's lap, it made me jump out of my chair. Because, if that thing had climbed into my lap...well, let's just say I would've either passed out, or made a mess in my pants, or possibly both. I ended up letting our dog off her leash to chase that stray away, then kept her at my side for the rest of the night, chanting, "Good dog. GOOD DOOOOOG!!"

This fear has even invaded my sleep. I have a recurring nightmare that a cat has jumped up and dug it's teeth into my outstretched arm. I swing my arm violently, but it won't let go. This is evidence that what happens in your childhood can scar you for life.

But, these neighbors we have now...they're good neighbors, and they've helped us out when we've needed them. So, I will suppress my fear, tentatively enter their house, and muster the mental strength it takes to put some kibble in their cat's bowl.


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