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Momo Fali's: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let's Make It Two

My daughter, who will be 10 years old in December, is becoming quite sassy. That's a nice way of saying that she's starting to talk back. A lot.

Her attitude lately reminds me of when she was three and she began to use the word "no" in every sentence. Except now it is accompanied with enormous sighs and eye rolling.

At her school's open house a few weeks ago, her teacher stressed the importance of responsibility to the 4th grade parents. She instructed us not to help the kids remember their homework, or help them pack their backpack, or lay their clothes out. She told us that it's time they start doing those things on their own. I agree.

So part of the problem is that we are trying to get her to be more independent and she's not quite sure what to make of it.

Last night, when we couldn't find her gym uniform anywhere, she realized she had left it crumpled in the bottom of her backpack. I have told her, somewhere around a thousand times, that she must empty her book bag when she gets home from school. Mostly it's to force her to put her ice pack back in the freezer so she doesn't have to eat warm tuna for lunch the next day.

Since I have repeated this rule over and over again, and because I had just done all the laundry only to find she had been holding onto one, wrinkled, dirty shirt, I decided punishment was in order. Something had to be done to make her get into the habit of taking care of her stuff.

I said, "Because you didn't empty your backpack again, and because you're not taking care of your gym uniform like you're supposed to, then you're not allowed to watch TV for three days."

And Miss Sassy replied, "Instead of three days, can you make it a week?"

Oh Sweetie, you bet I can.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Do You Know Where That Ball Has Been?

Our daughter started playing competitive sports at the ripe old age of six, when we signed her up for t-ball. Our biggest concern wasn't teaching her the fundamentals of the game, but rather teaching her not to play in the dirt. Though we completely understood how hard it was to hold her attention while kids stood at bat, time and time again, missing the ball when it was sitting on a tee.

But I'm finding it may have been her age, and not the lack of action, that drove her to dig for ants every week. My six year old son is now playing soccer in two games each Sunday afternoon and I see him repeating her behavior when he gets bored.

Yesterday he managed to hang in there for the first four quarters, but by the sixth he was starting to fade.

After his coach sat him down on the sideline for a break, I looked over to see him picking at the grass. I flashed back to my daughter kicking up dust with her cleats.

I looked over again to see him gathering his teammate's practice balls into a circle and I remembered how my daughter would take her glove off and throw it in the air, to play catch with herself, right in the middle of a play.

But then he went a completely different route than his sister, because the next time I looked over he was going around that circle kissing each and every soccer ball as he went by. And for the life of me, I couldn't recall his sister ever making out with her bat.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everybody Cut, Everybody Cut...

When I was a young, impressionable 12 year old girl, life as I knew it changed forever. Something huge happened. Something so big, I will never, ever forget it. Footloose was released.

You all remember, right? Oh, it's just me then. Well, Footloose is a movie in which Kevin Bacon plays Ren, a hip, city-slickin', high school kid who moves with his Mother to a town that's so small that racing tractors is what you do on a Saturday afternoon. A town so tiny, that playing chicken in your pick-up truck, with a semi, is what you do after church. A town so minuscule, that because some kids died in an accident after a night of dancing, they outlaw the hustle completely.

But, that was all before Kevin Bacon comes to town to save everyone from their tango-less existence. He rescues "the girl" from her abusive boyfriend, gets the town to overturn their silly law (Note to self: When trying to get something accomplished in the bible belt, quote Ecclesiastes in a town hall meeting). But, over and above all else, he teaches Christopher Penn how to dance.

Let me remind you, I was 12. Kevin Bacon was a teenage rebel, with a cute, spiky haircut and some fine moves. So, I did what any girl would do...I saw the movie 40 times and plastered his picture over every square inch of my room. That dude was the cat's meow. Enough said.

My crush on Kevin Bacon came only after Jack Wagner. Quit laughing. And, Jack came after Greg Brady, the members of Night Ranger, and every cast member of The Outsiders. As it turns out, my husband closely resembles one of those Brat Pack fellas. Who's laughing now?

What I want to know, boys and girls, is who was your pre-teen, celebrity crush?


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is Yodka. Yodka was the sixth wheel at the cabin with my girlfriend's this past weekend. Wait. Did I say sixth wheel? Because actually, Yodka was doing most of the driving.

Yodka is made by pouring one, or two, bottles of vodka into a very large container, after you squeeze in the juice from as many lemons and limes you can fit, and then adding sugar. Lots of it. See the granules caked on the bottom? It's like one big lemon drop.

We insist on doing shots of Yodka whenever something big happens, like when someone says the word "and". Or, when we're watching Ohio State football games and they score. The year the Buckeyes beat Northwestern 54-10, was especially rough on us.

If you think you'd like to try it, be forewarned, Yodka can make you do crazy think you can suddenly shoot pool, or swim laps in a hot-tub, or play ping-pong like you're Serena Williams, or sing Led Zeppelin on a karaoke machine better than Robert Plant could.

What? I was rocking that joint. And, you totally should've heard me playing guitar on my pool stick.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let There Be Light, Eh?

These are four of the six Canadian men who were at my house this afternoon. Oh sorry, they were at my hoose.

They came for a visit because Hurricane Ike decided to go a little off course and do this to my Ohio backyard. Yes Canucks, those are maple leaves.

And, after one full week without electricity those wonderful fellows from the country up north made it possible for me to not have to pee in the dark anymore.

Thank you, Canada, for sending us your finest. I'll never understand how you take the cold weather or how you can stand to eat moose meat...but, at the very least I promise to never cross the border and complain about your insane sales taxes again.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

I Bet She'll Get Carded

Our Wii has a program that let's you play a game to determine your "fitness age". It will have you participate in a combination of sports, then tell you how old you are. I am usually somewhere around 78.

Last week, my daughter was playing as my six year old son was watching.

As soon as she finished and her brother saw her fitness age on the screen, he exclaimed, "You're 21! Now you can drink beer!"

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Number Two On My List...Don't Forget Limes

Tomorrow afternoon, I am leaving for my annual girl's trip, which we refer to as our GGW, or Girl's Get-Away Weekend. Our husbands call it Girls Gone Wild. Hardly. Last year I got a concussion and we sat around making pot holders.

There is always a lot of planning and organization involved with stepping out of my routine and having my husband step in, but throw in having no electricity for four days...with no end in sight...and you'll see one Mommy whose head feels like it may pop off.

We have been living in limbo since Sunday, shuttling back and forth between my Mom's house, 20 miles from here. Thank goodness, there hasn't been any school. There are no batteries anywhere in town, stations have run out of gas, and when I called around looking for a generator, people laughed at me.

But, our GGW house has power and we've spent a small fortune to rent the place...which some of us can't even afford. Have I mentioned that I'm in the mortgage business? Regardless, this is our one opportunity each year to have a real break, recharge and eat obscene amounts of chocolate.

My husband will be busy while I'm gone, driving the kids around to various activities, all while treating every intersection like a four-way stop.

He will entertain them without the use of TV, Wii, or computer. He will continue to drive 20 minutes, each way, twice a day, to charge a battery in hopes of keeping our fish alive (we've only lost one, so far). And, he will have to make due without any cold food or drinks, grocery stores with doors closed to the public, and no ice available within city limits.

But, he will not be the only frazzled person in this family. Today, I have to make lists and schedules, pack my stuff...and somehow find a liquor store that's open so I can buy my vodka. Some of us have real priorities.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Take A Hike, Ike

I live in Ohio. We do not get hurricanes in Ohio. We get tornados, flash floods, and more than a few people who lose their lives to lightening each year.

But yesterday, Ike showed up for an unexpected visit and he wasn’t a very nice guest.

While we were gone for the afternoon, Ike’s remnant, hurricane-force winds took advantage of our absence and wreaked havoc on our home. He snapped a branch off our 70 foot tall maple tree like a toothpick, which then crashed down on our swing-set, fence, cable wires and electrical line.

We are just one of a half million families in the Buckeye state who may be without power for roughly a week.

We packed up the kids, dog, and all the food we could salvage and drove 20 miles to my Mom’s house. We’ll camp out here, where the kids can get good and spoiled, until things get fixed at home.

On the drive out, it was eerie to see the entire city without power, and every other house with a large limb or an entire tree down in their yard. Roads were closed, shingles were flying, and cars were crushed. I have never seen anything like it.

Despite the hassle, the inevitable death of every fish in our 55 gallon tank, the loss of income because our places of employment are shut down, the wondering if our house will catch fire because there are electrical wires laying on the roof, and the monumental mess we have to clean up…the biggest challenge will be dealing with the fact that my Mom still lives in 1975 and doesn’t have internet access.

I am thankful for so many things right now, but mostly that no one was hurt, that we don’t live in Texas, and that Panera has free Wi-Fi.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away

A few years ago, my son's cardiologist told us that he would never be allowed to play contact sports. I had grown accustomed to imagining my boy as the next Tiger Woods (and me being a very rich Mommy), so I was surprised at his last heart check-up when the doctor cleared him to play soccer.

Now, let's get something straight...I have one tough boy. This kid has had more needles in his veins in six years than most people have their whole lives. But, apparently the hospital is one thing and the soccer field is something else entirely.

At practice last night, after 50 minutes of drills, my kid hit a wall. The first time he complained was when he was playing defense in a scrimmage. He stopped in his tracks and yelled, "Mom! I'm tired."

I yelled back from the sidelines, "You're okay! You can hang in there for 10 more minutes!"

Then the second complaint, "Mom! My tummy hurts!"

Again I said, "Come on, buddy! You can do it! Just five more minutes!"

And, he was hanging in there just like I told him to...until, with just two minutes left in the practice, he took a hard-kicked ball right in the ear.

He burst into tears and ran off the field to me. I checked him out, then said, "I know you're tired, but your ear looks okay. You can do this! When you're playing on a team, you have to be there for your teammates. They need you. Now get back in there and show them what a big, strong, tough kid you are!"

When it didn't appear that would convince him...I whispered something in his ear.

He then trotted back to the field for some inspirational words from the coach and one final huddle. They ended the practice by having the team put their hands together as they chanted, "One. Two. Three. TIGERS!"

Then my big, strong, tough boy ran off the field yelling what I thought would stay a secret, "Okay, Mom! Let's go home so I can get my bubble bath!"

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Easy As 1, 2, 3

When I recently took a job as a teacher's aide, I stipulated that I could never assist in a classroom above second grade. Why? Because I wouldn't be able to handle the math.

When I was in the eighth grade, I was in an advanced math class. I don't know how I got there, but I do know that any skill I had in the numbers department ended in that class. Not only that, but it seems my brain went through some sort of regression in the summer before high school. Once I started ninth grade, algebra seemed as easy as studying Latin.

This did not lead to a stellar academic path. My grades were excellent in anything involving language arts, journalism and communications, but by my senior year I was taking "College Prep Math" which was taught by the football coach.

People mostly referred to the class as "College Football Math", though that couldn't have been farther from the truth. The goth girls and burn-out's who sat around me didn't know offense from defense.

Now, I have a fourth grader who is bringing home real math homework and who is participating in something called the Metric Olympics at her school. Last year, she memorized her multiplication tables in no time flat, and would finish timed-tests so quickly that I think she once gave herself a pedicure before the next kid turned in his paper.

That's my girl! She's a regular chip off the old block. Her father, that is. I may be bad with numbers, but I'm smart as a whip.

I married a math major.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Not Your Typical Tourist

The picture at the bottom of the last post was taken last week on our vacation in Virginia. Moments after I captured the shot, I joined my daughter in the ocean.

I was in hip-deep water as we were lightheartedly jumping in the waves. Since I was trying not to get my hair wet, I had my sunglasses on top of my head to prevent fly-aways from getting whipped with saltwater.

After a few minutes, we turned to head back toward the beach. My daughter was wading ahead of me so I could keep my eye on her, but she kept looking back to watch the waves. Apparently, she's much smarter than her mother, because I suddenly heard her yell, "Mom! Look out!"

I soon realized she had warned me a little too late, because as the last syllable left her lips, I was blindsided by a massive wave. I was knocked to my knees and as I flailed about under the water, all I could think about were my new sunglasses. What? Seven dollars is a lot for shades when your line of work is mortgage lending. Hi Fannie! Hi Freddie! Need bailed out much?

When I came up for air, I sputtered and spit, then immediately set about looking for my glasses. But, after a few moments of searching I realized sun in my eyes was the least of my worries. Was that a breeze I felt across my chest?

As I faced the beach, I looked down to find that my halter had come undone, and my entire bathing suit top was around my waist. I stood there mortified as I flashed the Labor Day crowd.

At least if I had found my sunglasses I could've hid some of my embarrassment...because I sure wasn't hiding much else.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Special, Indeed

My six year old son was born with multiple heart defects, one of which is very rare. It is called Cor Triatrium Dexter and has to do with the trabeculated anterior, sinoatrial orifice, crista terminalis, and the super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious.

Basically, the right side of his heart is jacked up.

For the first year of his life, he was cyanotic a lot. For people who are fortunate enough not to understand that means that he was blue. He often had discolored skin around his mouth, which was a constant reminder that his blood didn't have enough oxygen in it.

When he was 13 months old, he had angioplasty and valvuloplasty. This wasn't because he was eating too much butter and bacon, but rather because this one weird defect had created a blockage, and that's why he looked like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The benefit of the surgery was that he suddenly had energy he never had before. The downside is, that in stretching out the valve the cardiologist created a leak. Not because he messed up, but because that is what happens when you expand a valve.

And that means in the near future my kid will need open heart surgery.

One good thing? Well, he's always been too young to understand just how messed up his ticker really is. He knows there is something different about him...and how could he not? He may as well have a stethoscope permanently affixed to his chest. But, we never talk to him about having any limitations.

The other night, we saw that he has grasped what we've been telling him all along. Because when my daughter was upset and crying hard (Note to Dad: Let's not tell the nine year old that someday her dog will die), my son walked over to his sister and said, "It's okay. Don't cry. I love you. I love you with all of my special heart."

And if that doesn't warm your cockles, I don't know what will.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dirty Work

My last post really got me thinking about my employment history. Having gone from fast-paced, corporate America to a job where I use glue sticks, goes to show how varied my work background really is.

When I was 15 years old, I got my first job. Sure, there had been a paper route and babysitting, but this was a REAL job. Like with a paycheck.

It was a very glamorous work environment. So glamorous that I had to wear a hairnet. To make matters worse, I would often have to ride my bike to get there...looking a lot like this.

I worked at a local restaurant well-known for its cafeteria style food service. It was also notorious for having patrons who are very old.

The doors opened at 4:00 PM and there would already be people in line for dinner. I was a salad girl, so their first stop after picking up their tray and flatware was at my station.

For the next three hours, I had to practically yell at every person who slid their tray past me.

"Would you like Jello today? Or, maybe a carrot and raisin salad?"



Patron turns to equally age-challenged acquaintance, "What'd she say?"

"She said she wants to know if you'll sing a ballad."

Patron exclaims, "OH! Pardon me boy, is that the Chatanooga Choo Choo..."

After battling with elderly people over things like whether their ambrosia had enough marshmallows, I would have to get down on my hands and knees and scrub out the refrigerators. After that, I got to wash dishes and clean mayonnaise off the decorative lettuce. I know, I can clearly see the allure which drove me to such a coveted job.

Needless to say, after that summer I swore off food service for good.

Through college, I had odd jobs and slowly worked my way into the mortgage industry. Given the state of the real estate market, maybe I should've stuck with salads.

Tell me boys and girls, what was the worst job you have ever had?


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My J-O-B

Yesterday I was at work, fingering through my latest project. I had a stack of 29 autobiographies which I was editing and alphabetizing, when my mind started to wander.

What? You didn't know I work with writers? Well, I do. A whole second grade classroom full of them.

I was cutting out their pictures and using a glue stick to attach head-shots to a list of facts about each child. Facts detailing very personal information like their favorite color, or what they want to be when they grow up.

I couldn't help thinking about how ten years ago I was working as an Operations Manager for a local corporation. I oversaw two departments and numerous people. I worked long hours, I was motivated, diligent, and career-driven. My job defined me. That was before I had kids.

Now I'm a teacher's aide whose hours are 8:00-11:00 AM. I work with crayons, markers, and a lot of germs.

I took this job because it allows me to be home with my kids after school. Not to mention, my kindergartner still needs a little special attention, and the principal allows him to come to me for certain things. As a school and as an employer, they are more than accommodating.

If I had not bore children, who knows where I would've ended up career-wise. I know one thing for certain, we'd have a lot more money.

But, being able to stay home with my kids for nearly a decade and now work in the same building where they attend school...well, you can't put a price on that. It's a very fortunate situation in which to find myself.

So my briefcase doesn't hold business cards or a Blackberry, and sometimes I can't tell if the goo on my desk is from glue or some kid's snot, and I'm definitely not breaking the bank, but I think I'm the richest woman in the world.

Maybe I should stop sniffing those markers.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

How Not To Impress People

Two days ago, we attended our niece's wedding in Virginia. The ceremony and reception were held at a beautiful and exclusive resort on the banks of the James River. I'm pretty sure they wanted to turn us away at the gate, because our Cadillac wasn't fancy enough.

The bride and the guests were gorgeous, decked out in clothes so fabulous that the sunset paled in comparison. Following the ceremony, the wedding party had photographs taken while we were treated to scrumptious hors d'oeuvres in truly lovely surroundings.

After finding out I have a love for something called "mushroom cigars" and even more love for something called an "open bar", it was time for the reception.

As we left the riverbank and stepped inside to the five-course, sit-down dinner, I grabbed my son's hand and told my daughter to follow behind.

We entered on the far end of the hall and zig-zagged through the crowd, looking for the table number that matched our place card. I nodded politely and said, "Excuse me", numerous times as the three of us wiggled around the room.

Little did I know that I should have been excusing my son's behavior, not mine, because when we arrived at our table my daughter said, "Mom! Your son smacked the butt of every person we passed by!"

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