Friday, April 28, 2006

Check It Out

Just for Peter, I added some links in my sidebar related to Sensory Integration Disorder (which is also sometimes called Sensory Processing Disorder). It's not quite a PSA post, but I'll get to that, I promise :)

This Is Not a Post

Okay, so this morning, realizing that I hadn't posted in a week, and fearing that any cool kids here in blogland who've been checking me out lately to see if I might be hip enough to blogroll were probably all about to drop me like a bad habit if I didn't post something interesting TODAY, I started racking my brain for something to post about.

Should I steal Dawn's idea from many weeks back, as I've been meaning to ever since I saw it, and post photos of my bathroom, or, say, my ridiculously overstocked linen/utility closet, alongside some witty, self-deprecating commentary? Oh crap, that's right. The boy has been throwing screaming fits every time I bring out the camera lately, because he wants to play with it (and yes, he has a toy camera. In fact it's not even a toy camera-- it's a REAL, cheap film camera my husband doesn't use anymore. But he doesn't WANT that dumb old camera, because it doesn't have a nifty digital display). I don't know if I'm up for that sort of craziness before noon, thanks. We're out of milk, too, so I haven't had my coffee. Because my stomach wasn't up for black coffee today.

Should I post a long explanatory Public Service post, all about the symptoms of Sensory Integration Disorder, for those who come here and aren't quite sure what I'm talking about when I mention it? Peter Nacken asked me about this earlier today, and I've been meaning to do something like this for a while. But I want to link to all these other sites for that one, and I'm not in the mood do do research.

That post exploring the intricacies regarding teaching your American meltingpot children about their diverse racial, cultural and religious heritage I've been knocking around in my head? Aww, too heavy. How about next week?

Something on being a feminist SAHM? Am I too late to jump on this feminism meme? Is that so last week?


Can you tell? I've been feeling so uninspired lately!

So why don't I just whine about my week, as usual?

Isaac's getting his last set of molars in, and therefore has been rockin' the premature terrible twos, and pretty much refusing to sleep when it's dark outside.

My husband has been sucked into a computer game all week, and I can't complain, because he really deserves some time to himself, and I'm actually quite glad he's been getting it, but it's sort of been cramping my internet addict style.

And yes, we have three computers in this house. But one of them is my husband's laptop, about which he is somewhat territorial, and anyway it's slow as molasses and only runs Linux. I have nothing against Linux, mind you, but it doesn't run Dreamweaver, or Photoshop, which I've been pretending to work in lately while I actually read blogs.

And the other computer only recently got reassembled after I finished refinishing the desk it lives on, and one of its speakers is broken because my husband knocked it off the monitor the other day, and I think I need to run an antivirus on it or something because Firefox keeps acting up.

I've been trying to finish a seemingly endless list of random chores that have been put off too long around the house, like spackling some nail holes, framing and hanging some photographs, fixing a door that hangs funny, reorganizing my pantry, reorganizing my study-in-the-bedroom to accommodate space for my husband's new electronic-device-building hobby, etcetera.

When my husband's not been on the good computer and I haven't been otherwise occupied, I've been messing with my new site graphics, which, after talking to this exceedingly picky and critical friend of mine who I used to do magazine layout with, I now think are HOPELESSLY AWFUL, and I feel like I might just have to scrap the whole theme.

And when not fixing up my house or sneaking onto the good computer I've been calling family member after family member trying to figure out what one day in the enitre 31 day month of May will somehow magically work out for all of them for Isaac's birthday, because apparently, not only do 50 family members expect to be invited, but they also expect us to schedule our son's birthday around ALL of their work and social schedules for the month.

My mother-in-law at one point even seriously suggested to me that we should just have the party more than three weeks after his birthday. More than. THREE WEEKS. AFTER. "He's too young to even know when his birthday is," she insisted. "You could even do it a whole month later and he wouldn't notice."

She may have been right, but this reminded me far too much of my own mother's sudden "epiphany" right around my much-younger brother's second birthday that she could really just skip all holidays outside of Christmas until my brother was in elementary school, because he "wouldn't even know the difference anyway." Not because of any religious issues, mind you, but just because she thought hiding Easter eggs and such for such a small person was "too much hassle."

(Please note that this wasn't because my mother was a bad parent. She was just burned out on kid wrangling after single-parenting two girls while working her way through school, and after her third kid turned out to have serious behavioral and health problems, well, let's just say the poor woman was sort of kicking off a decade-long nervous breakdown at the time).

But guess what? I was talking to little bro on the phone recently. He is now almost thirteen years old, and turns out he DOES remember those years.

In that, he remembers that his oldest sister painted and hid Easter eggs, made Valentine's decorations and cards for him, and made sure he went trick-or-treating every year ;) He recently made a point to thank me for this.

(What, did you honestly think I'd let the kid go without holidays? What kind of a big sister do you think I am? Pul-lease).

So, regarding Isaac's birthday, finally, I put my foot down, and . . .

Told a co-worker of John's we can't go to his wedding but might be able to make it to the reception, so I can have Isaac's birthday party on a Saturday, even though I wanted to have it on a Sunday, during the middle of the day, even though I wanted to have it in the late afternoon or early evening, so that all of Isaac's grandparents and aunts and uncles (excepting the ones on my side) can come without having to rearrange a single thing on any of their schedules.

I am such a wimp.

But at least my son's party will be in the same week as his actual birthday.

So, anyway, that's been my week. How was yours?

We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

I will put up something entertaining later today, I promise!

I have been:

1.) Working on some new site graphics (which I now think totally suck, of course, but I'll probably put them up anyway this weekend just to show you I've been doing something).

2.) Trying to finish a bunch of minor fix-it/decoration projects around the house in anticipation of my son's upcoming birthday party.

3.) Gardening.

4.) Biting my tongue while my husband spends 3-6 hours EVERY NIGHT hogging the best seat in the house playing a computer game. Biting my tongue because he has waited six months to buy this game -- he had to upgrade the computer to play it, so it required a fair chunk of change, and he kept putting it off so we could buy stuff for the house/the boy/ME instead.

We all know absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after staring longingly at this game on the Target shelf, for several minutes at a time, at least once a week, for six months, I am pretty sure my husband is currently more in love with this game than he is with me.

(I'm sure this is just a phase, though. He'll grow out of it eventually. Right?)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Continuing Education

Note to self:

When making a special surprise chocolate tuxedo cheesecake for husband, before putting cheesecake in oven, remove all oven racks and check entire oven interior thoroughly for foreign objects, as it would appear crayons can roll to the back of the oven and situate themselves under the edge of the rack in such a manner as to be practically invisible to the casual oven inspector.

Although a woman whose sharp sense of smell, quick thinking, and housewifely ingenuity allows her to not only save her kitchen from catching on fire but also actually SAVE THE CHEESECAKE when an overlooked wayward crayon catches fire in her oven might be said to be The Bomb, NOT being forced to battle a minature conflagration of wax and paper with a squirt bottle and a washcloth is preferable.

Get Off Your Lazy Blogging Butt and Help Me Put Away These Dishes, Mom

So, I am innocently taking a few minutes off from child-entertaining and housecleaning this morning while my son seems to be thoroughly distracted by educational public television to briefly visit a few favorite blogs, and suddenly, the kid runs up to me with a newly clean, still-damp plastic bowl from the dishwasher. Which he unlocked and opened himself, after opening the baby gate to the kitchen (which had not been closed properly, because I am a dumbass before I have my coffee).

"Mommy have it?" he asks sweetly, while I am thinking to myself, Holy $^%@! There are STEAK KNIVES in the dishwasher.

So I jump up and get the knives, which thankfully he has not touched, out of the washer (I guess I've done a decent job after all of teaching him the meaning of "sharp"-- yesterday he pointed at my sewing basket, which he once attempted to raid immediately whenever I got it out, and said, "Sharp! No touch Isaac. Owies," and stayed four feet away from me the entire time I was hemming some curtains, so hey. Maybe I won't get that call from Child Protective Services this week).

And then he insisted on helping me unload the dishwasher, by very carefully taking out the dishes one by one and offering them to me to put away.

This is actually the fifth or sixth time he's asked to help me unload the dishwasher (although it's the first time he's STARTED unloading it himself). He also insists on helping me put laundry in the washer and the dryer. Sometimes insists upon doing laundry together first thing in the morning, in fact. Before breakfast.

So anyway, after he finishes helping me unload the dishwasher, I start putting in a few dirty dishes that didn't fit in the first load (because our dishwasher is REALLY small), a task which I won't let him help me with, because I don't want him getting dirty dish germs all over the hands he is constantly sticking in his mouth.

But he stands there watching me intently from the other side of the kitchen gate while I load the dishes, and every single time I put a dirty dish in, he says:

"Thank you, Mommy."

If only his half-assed Momma can manage to keep him from impaling himself on a steak knife, he is going to make SUCH a great husband one day . . .

Thursday, April 20, 2006

If You Plant It, They Will Come

If by "They" you mean big-@$$ garden spiders:*

Which you must tolerate. Because they eat the evil little insects that destroy your plants.

Just stay in the pots, ladies. Stay in the pots, and we'll keep things neighborly-like, see?

*What? They don't look that big to you, you say? Oh yeah? These spiders? They're JUVENILES. Just wait three months and tell me how not-that-big they are.

Birthday Part II

I read my post from yesterday again this morning and I realized it made me sound like one of those totally neurotic SAHMs that, when asked to bring a snack to the Cub Scout meeting, wind up bringing gourmet muffins in ten different flavors, made entirely from organic ingredients they harvested themselves in the miniature farm in their backyard.

I'm not really that crazy. Of course I love my son to pieces, and I want him to have a great time on his birthday. And it's true that I really can be a bit of an overachiever-mom. I think hyperactive housewifery kinda comes with the territory when a woman accustomed to working 60 hours a week at two fast-paced jobs suddenly finds herself working 24-7 in the home. But I do know my son is far too young to really care how we celebrate his birthday. I'm not even certain he knows what a birthday is yet. After all, he's only had one birthday party so far. (And he was just getting over a bad ear infection at the time, so the whole thing was probably sort of a blur to him anyway).

If it were up to him, I imagine what my son would like best to do for his birthday is pick up two or three other kids his age, take a day trip to the zoo, visit the giraffes and the bears and the turtles, take a trip on the zoo choo-choo train, and ride a tiger on the big wild animal carousel at least five times in a row while we were there.

For lunch, he'd want everyone to dine on french fries, bacon, and dried fruit. He certainly wouldn't want cake for dessert (too MESSY). He'd probably go for a big bowl of marshmallows, though (I mean, as long as they were minature marshmallows. The big kind have too much sticky inside). Maybe a little ice cream, as long as it was vanilla.

He wouldn't really want to blow out candles, anyway (he says the fire's "scary"). And I'm pretty sure he'd really rather not have to listen to a roomful of loud people singing "Happy Birthday." But he might go for two or three people singing "Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes."

He'd be absolutely thrilled to get even just one present, as long as it had something to do with trains or cars. He'd probably spend just as much time playing with the box and the paper as the present inside.

I'd love for this to be his birthday party.

But when you're one of the youngest grandchildren in a midwestern Catholic family roughly the size of the mafia, when you have not one, not two, but SIX living grandmothers (including the step- and great-grandmas), four of whom live within driving distance, well . . . let's just say you're kinda expected to put up with some serious family party time on your birthday, even if you have no clue what's going on.

But I'm sure all the hugs, kisses and loot he gets will more than make up for it. ;)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's His Party, But I'll Cry If I Want To

In less than three weeks, my son will turn two years old.

I am so not ready for this!

I don't mean I'm not ready for the milestone.

(Although, okay, I'm not-- do I really have to stop calling him "the baby" already and start calling him "the kid"? Couldn't I just keep calling him "baby" until he's, oh, I don't know, 18? Oh, okay, okay. How about five? No?)


For Isaac's first birthday, I started planning the party and buying supplies in FEBRUARY.

For weeks I tracked prices online and in circulars to figure out where I could get the absolute best deal for my money, and then I the bought napkins, cups, plates, balloons and paper decorations, all on clearance/sale, at four different stores over a period of about a month.

I designed the invitations myself, incorporating a carefully selected photo from each month of his life, starting with the day of his birth, on the cover of the card. I went through about six design drafts before picking one to have professionally printed on cardstock at Kinko's. (I actually had my husband and several friends do critical reviews of each design before choosing the final). I then hand-assembled the invitation cards, adding a baby blue liner and a translucent insert.

Ahead of the party, I purchased four new serving bowls and two new serving plates and several new serving spoons and two new pieces of furniture (Extra chairs for the living room-- we needed them anyway. Really). I arranged to borrow folding chairs and tables from three different relatives. I tried to make my husband let me buy or rent a folding gazebo tent thing to put on the apartment lawn outside in case of rain, because our apartment is roughly the size of two postage stamps, and my husband has an ENORMOUS family, and therefore a good third of our invited guests would basically have to sit outside or we'd be violating fire codes, but he wouldn't let me. Because, unlike me, he is sane.

In the days before the party, I drew up a menu and started cooking. I bought a few things pre-made at the store, but, being monetarily impaired, I cooked at least half of the food completely from scratch. The menu included:

-Dinner rolls
-Cheese-garlic breadsticks
-Fresh green salad
-Fruit salad
-German potato salad
-Three-bean salad
-Fresh chopped vegetables with three flavors of dip
-Pretzels with dip
-Chips and salsa
-Macaroni and cheese
-Pasta primavera with garlic-roasted vegetables
-Homemade hand-frosted sugar cookies cut in the shape of stars and the number one
-Homemade yellow birthday cake with homemade, from scratch butter-cream frosting, rainbow sprinkles, topped with homemade sugar cookies spelling out ISAAC.

(Did I mention that my son has Sensory Integration Disorder, and at that time wouldn't have touched a frosted cake with a ten foot pole?)

Crazy Uber-Mom syndrome, much?

Okay, so I went a little overboard last year. But the 50,000 family members (only one of whom was actually from my side of the family) who showed up to our overpriced Quonset hut-- oops I meant "luxury apartment"-- had enough to eat, and had a great time, and for the most part Isaac had a good time too (he was a little traumatized by the cake).

But this event took months of work and planning to execute on a single-full-time-income family budget. And was exhausting. And overwhelming. And probably not really what Isaac would have wanted for his birthday if I'd asked him, anyway.

So this year, I was thinking, I would have to do something different. Something fun. Something small and kid-oriented. Someplace where someone else would have to clean up afterward. Maybe have the party at the zoo? The Magic House? The Carousel in Faust Park? Maybe at the Museum of Transportation? Someplace where other kids would have a good time. Someplace with a laid-back atmosphere.

I've looked into it. All of these places cost like $150-$200! FOR ONE HOUR. You ever tried to keep a party to one hour? Sheesh. Not my kind of party. And that price is without food or decorations, in most cases.

So, what. Chuck-e-Cheese? Scratch that. You just try taking a kid with sensory integration issues to a crowded, noisy restaurant full of SIRENS and STROBE LIGHTS and making him stay there and behave for three hours. We made the mistake of taking Isaac to Dave and Buster's a few weeks ago for a bring-the-kids dinner party one of John's coworkers was having.

I'll give the kid mad props-- he made it for almost two whole hours while we waited and waited for a table before a major meltdown.

Then he screamed at the top of his lungs for two hours straight. Including on during the 45 minute ride home.

So, I've come to the conclusion that we'll just have to do it at home again. Which means that my husband's entire extended family, including Isaac's grandparents, great-grandparents, and possibly multiple great-aunts and uncles will expect to be invited again, since it's "just a little family get-together at home."

And this is BEFORE we invite any kids Isaac's age for him to play with-- there are no kids his age in the family who live nearby.

I have less than three weeks.

I have done next to no planning.

(What happened to Uber-Mom? What's that? You say she dropped dead about six months ago from sheer exhaustion one night? When she cooked yet another three-course dinner from scratch for her family after spending all day writing copy for a deadline WHILE watching a child and folding laundry, and then her kid screamed at her and threw the food back in her face? Tragic, truly! And you say Half-Assed-Slacker-Mom has kindly volunteered to move in to permanently take her place? Oh, ok.)

(Is there a stronger word for panic?)

(P.S. Did I mention it's my husband's birthday that week too?)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hoppy Easter

Last night at our house the Easter Bunny stayed up past midnight making four-bean salad and perfectly swirled deviled eggs to take to the in-laws' Easter lunch. Then the Easter Bunny had to get up twice in the middle of the night to rock a little bunny who was having night terrors back to sleep.

Then the Easter Bunny got up at 6:00 in the morning, before anyone else, to arrange and display an easter basket, make special chocolate pancakes with whipped cream for the whole family for breakfast (a dish that the Easter Bunny of course knew the picky boy who lives here would not actually eat, but that the Easter Bunny made anyway because the Easter Bunny, like all mythical gift-giving beings, lives in hope). And then everyone else woke up. And then the Easter Bunny had to make ambrosia to take to the in-laws' also.

And then the Easter Bunny had to put on high heels and makeup and a floral dress and pearls and try to be chipper and sweet to people at all sorts of parties for the rest of the day.

And when the Easter Bunny finally got home and got to take off the damned heels and sit down, when the Easter Bunny reflected upon the day, the Easter Bunny was happy.

Because a little boy had a great time.

This is how I know the real Easter Bunny is a girl-bunny. And a mom.

(Well, that and the laying eggs bit. I mean, a bunny laying colored eggs is a stretch, sure, but a BOY bunny laying eggs? That's just impossible).

Friday, April 14, 2006


MOMMY: Do you want to try on this hat to see if it fits you, Isaac?

ISAAC: (shoves hat away violently) No!

MOMMY: Come on, sweetheart. We just need to make sure it will fit.

ISAAC: No hat! No!

MOMMY: What about this one? Look! It has a cool tiger on it! Grrrr!



DADDY: "Isaac, it's a baseball hat. For playing baseball."

Isaac grabs hat, tries to put it on his own head, fails, eagerly accepts help from mother in righting hat.


Back Posts

Scroll back to Tuesday if you want to see one of the unfinished posts I was talking about previously. I decided to leave the draft dated the day I'd started it, since the tone of the post reflected what I was feeling that day.

Don't worry, y'all, I'm in a better mood now :)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jaelithe and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

I have three half-finished posts sitting in my draft box today. Three posts I tried to start this week, and couldn't finish.

This song is stuck in my head:

Where is the moment when we need it the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue sky's faded to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carrying on

Stand in the line just ahead of the law
You're faking a smile with the coffee you go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I don't need no carrying on

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carrying on

And I don't even like Daniel Powter.

It's been one of those days all week. You know the kind. Where you wake up with an inexplicable cloud over your head, and you almost sort of expect all sorts of things to go wrong, but you try hard to shake the feeling and be optimistic, but then things go wrong anyway. Just like you felt they would.

Anyway, I will try to finish my posts today. I don't know if they will be funny, or clever. I fear one or more of them might be too personal. But, hey, art imitates life. And my week has been unfunny, unclever, and in some cases painfully personal. So I'm sorry if I wind up getting all angsty and incoherent. It's all I've got today.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Baby Steps

So much of the time, he seems so normal.

Well, maybe normal isn't really quite the right word. I've never really liked that word, normal, as applied to something so complex as people. Who is really completely "normal" anyway? What exactly is supposed to be the norm?

Let's say then . . . average? No, not quite. Every kid is above average in some things and below average in others. Developmentally appropriate? Bleh. I don't know. Let's just say:

So much of the time, he seems like a regular, healthy kid.

Look at him there, with that tousled red hair, those big brown eyes, that coy, toothy smile. Those fine elven features. That creamy skin. He could be a child model-- and I'm not just saying that because I am his mother-- we hear it from strangers every day-- he could almost be a kid out of a magazine, if it weren't for that little white scar there right between his right eye and the bridge of his nose. (The scar where they took out the tumor growing slowly on the outside of his skull, a "minor" surgery. The scar marking the day when his eating behavior suddenly, drastically changed).

If it weren't for the fact that his arms, when you look at them closely, sticking out of his sleeves, seem terribly thin. Bone-thin.

If it weren't that under his shirt you can see in crisp detail right under the skin his entire ribcage.

See him at the restaurant having dinner out with his family? Sitting so calmly in the highchair. How well-behaved. Almost never screeching like the other kids. He just read a word off the menu! How old is he? He's really not yet two? His parents must be doing a great job! And now he's ordering what he wants from the waitress with a flirtatious grin, and every waitress in the restaurant is pausing on her rounds now to look at him and ooh and ahh over his sweet smile and the color of his hair. He seems like such a happy kid!

But then watch what happens when his food comes. The kitchen accidentally gave him ranch dressing with his nuggets instead of ketchup. He begins to moan softly and rock back and forth. Suddenly he screeches "Hot! Hot!" although his food is mildly warm. He shoves his plate across the table, refusing to look at it, shaking in actual fear. "Mommy have it!" he insists. Then he won't even touch the french fries, his favorite, even when his mother takes them off the plate and cuts them into little pieces. He won't eat a bite of the food he ordered so eagerly, even though he seems very hungry. He won't even touch the cookies his mother packed in the diaper bag, just in case. He goes the whole meal, whining in hunger, without touching a single piece of food.

"Why don't they just MAKE that kid eat something?" the other patrons whisper. "Such a little brat. I bet they let him get away with murder at home."

Look at him running around there in the grass! Tossing a ball to his mother. Smiling winningly and shouting out "I got it! Thank you, Mommy!" clear as a bell when she tosses it back. Already talking so well for his age. Such a regular, healthy kid. ABOVE-average.

Until the ball rolls across the paved path curving up toward their apartment, and you see how he starts to run after it, but stops short in front of the concrete, confused by the sudden change in texture beneath his feet, afraid for a moment to take the next step, though he's crossed that path while holding his mother's hand hundreds and hundreds of times. Afraid to move forward, convinced he will fall.

Until a plane flies too low over head, or a big truck drives past on the street, and he drops everything and snaps to attention, shivering, suddenly anxious, whispering, "Loud."

Until the neighbor kids come out to play too, and you see how he suddenly shies away from them, even though he knows them, even though he likes them, even though a few months ago he chased them happily around the yard. You see him cling to his mother's leg mumbling, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Because he's already started to realize he's different from them. That he loves to throw a ball, but hesitates to kick it like the other kids. That he's afraid to climb up the stairs at a playground, even when holding hands.

Then another kid's mom brings out a box of popsicles for everyone. Sweet, colorful, slimy popsicles, dripping bright sticky juice. Another child offers him one and he screeches and RUNS full tilt into his mother's arms.

"Inside, Mommy. Inside, please, now," he says.

Look at his mother, there. Young, thin, smartly dressed. Looking pretty put-together for a stay-at-home mom. "I hear that even though she chose to stay home she has a college degree from a great school, and her apartment is stacked to the ceiling with books," someone says. "She must be smart as a whip. No wonder her son is already counting to ten by himself, and reading." "I hear she cleans her house every day, and cooks with herbs she grows in her own garden, and sometimes even bakes bread for her family from scratch," another voice says. "She's a really dedicated housewife." "I hear she works from home part-time as a writer and a photographer, too," another person says. "She must really have it together."

Now look at her, crying in the bathroom at night, after she finally gets her son, who has been a terrible sleeper since birth, to go to sleep for the evening an hour past his bedtime. Listen to her saying over and over again to her husband, "What kind of a mother can't even get her son to eat or sleep like a normal human being?!?"

(What's normal?)

"Eating and sleeping. The two most basic components of survival. And I can't even get him to do those right. What kind of a mother raises a child who's afraid to play with other kids at the playground? What kind of a mother am I?"

The mother of a child with Sensory Integration Disorder, is what kind.

With occupational therapy, love, and time, we've both been getting better. Slowly. A few steps forward, a few back. And we'll keep working on getting better, getting closer to "normal." One teetering little step at a time.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dirty Hands

For some women, it's shoes. For others, it's designer bags. For still others, it's perfume, or professional-style kitchen gadgets, or high-end scrapbooking accessories, or collectible china.

For me, the weakness, the addiction, the unwholesome obsession which, if I give it a moment's free reign, sucks away my time and drains my bank account before I even realize what I've done has become:


That's right—my postage-stamp, too-poor-for-a-real-yard patio container herb garden.

After last year's excesses, this year I promised myself (and my husband) that I would cut back. No experimenting this time with exotic finds from the county herb society sale like lovage or borage or wormwood. (Seriously. Wormwood? Was I planning on brewing bathtub absinthe?). Stick to simple, hardy culinary herbs. Maybe just some sweet basil, and oregano and sage. The old standbys. Easy to grow, frequently used. Just a few pots. No more plant explosion crowding my patio to the point that a person might have to climb over a small tree just to get out the patio door.

But then, last week, we went to the hardware store. Just to pick up some potting soil—organic potting soil—that was on sale at $2 for 40 pounds! And maybe, just maybe a small plant or two. And then—just what was that intriguing purple plant there, with the pretty semi-gloss fringed ovate leaves, arranged invitingly in flats outside the garden center next to the marigolds and pansies? A cabbage, you say? Sweet spring cabbage? Edible and ornamental. A very nutritious vegetable. And hardy! At just $1.79 for six plants. How lovely. I'd never grown cabbage before. Picture a fresh cole slaw at the end of the season, with bright purple cabbage slices plucked fresh from my own garden. Lovely fronds of purple cabbage floating in a golden vegetable soup.

Perhaps, just a single set of six?

And then, you see, once the cabbage was purchased, it suddenly occurred to me that surely it would be best to grow it in hanging pots. After all, one had to consider the previous season's terrorist garden attacks by roving gangs of thug squirrels. The squirrels, grown bold as rats and sleek as seals thanks to a hand-fed diet of fresh fruit and peanuts provided by my neighborhood's resident crazy squirrel-loving lady, would surely be tempted to take a fat bite or ten out of those lovely violet leaves.

But the shallow hanging pots we bought last year couldn't possibly be deep enough for a cabbage. And then, at Target—- what was this? A just-in shipment of elegant powder-coated cast steel hanging baskets with natural moss liners? For just $14.99? Really, a steal.

But then, once the baskets came home, it occurred to me—- won't my young cabbage plants seem so lost all alone in these big, deep, metal baskets, hanging so high? The baskets would need something else, too, at least until the cabbage matured. Some more color, perhaps. Some trailing vines down the side?

Well, how about some lavender pansies? Look! On sale at the K-Mart down the street! Such a nice compliment to the dark purple leaves of the cabbage. And while we were at the K-Mart, well, I thought, why not pick up a few pots of marigolds, too, to put on the garden wall? To keep the squirrels away, of course. (Though they didn't work last year). And these jersey gardening gloves sure do look smart! $2.99 a pair? Why not?

Hmm. That basket would still look a bit empty with nothing but cabbage and pansies, though. Still needed something trailing! "Let's take a quick trip to that nursery just down the street and see if they have creeping thyme. Just to see how much it costs. Maybe it's on sale."

Wouldn't it be lovely cascading down the sides of those baskets, growing into the moss liner? And with a shallow root system it's sure not to choke out the cabbage or pansies. What a perfect idea I'd had! Just a few sprouts of creeping thyme.

But there was no creeping thyme in yet at the nursery—- only the boring French upright kind. What a shame. Still, the nursery had ruffled purple basil! We had looked all over for that last year! And those rosemary plants—- so healthy and upright. What a heavenly scent. "One won't do, will it dear?" Why not two?

Aha! But we still needed to find that creeping thyme. Just to fill out the basket. So why not saunter on down to south city? Such a beautiful day, and the parks there are lovely. We could take the boy to a playground. And stop at this little ol' nursery down in the botanical garden district on the way.

Once there, why look! The red creeping thyme was almost gone! Only one flat left! Why not take the whole lot? Some lime thyme, too, just for a bit of variety. And really, that cilantro there—- already so full—- what a deal! Don't I cook with cilantro at least once a week? Hmm, marjoram, also somewhat tempting.

And oh yes—- I must pick up some sweet basil, oregano, and sage. After all, I promised myself and my husband I'd have those plants in my garden this year.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Awesome Willpower? Tooth Pain? Or Motherly Love?

I've made a single box of these last for two weeks:

I gave four of them to my husband, even though he kept an entire box of Samoas for himself.

And I just gave the last one in the box to my son.

Isaac's Rockin' Children's Music Countdown

And Isaac's Top Five Requested Songs of the Week are:

5.) "Pop Weasel-weasel-weasel"
4.) "Dumb Dumb Bidge Fall Down"
3.) "It's a Bigger Pider"
2.) "You Unda Sun-Sign"
1.) "Tinkle Tinkle Star"

In other news, the reason I didn't post the epic post I had in my head yesterday about the crushing anxiety, mother-guilt and self-doubt I drown in nearly every day because of my underweight child's continued refusal to eat like a normal human being is that given the brief bit of lovely weather, I spent several hours on my tiny patio attempting to refinish this:

The project is now about 80% finished, but completion is currently rain-delayed until at least Saturday.

(Did you look at that thing? For heaven's sake, wish me luck).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lines that Will Definitely Get My Husband Laid

During one of several discussions I've had with my husband lately regarding blog posts like this and this and, of course, the infamous this, as I tried to express to him my own insecurity about the ways my body has changed since having a baby, and the ways it will most likely continue to change, despite my best efforts, throughout the rest of our lives together, he looked me in the eye and said, quite seriously:

"Oh, come on. You do know I'll still love you even if you get to be 500 pounds, right?"

Did I mention he also takes out the trash, folds laundry like a pro, and makes mighty fine pancakes on Saturday mornings?

Sorry ladies-- this one's taken. As long as we both shall live.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Springtime Resolution #2: Flip My Blog

I know I've said it before. It is happening. I'm working on it. I spent about six or eight hours over the weekend coming up with a design theme and messing around with some graphics for said theme in Photoshop. It's going to be fresh. It's going to be bold. It's going to reveal to the world what an ENORMOUS geek I am.

And it's going to go live . . .whenever I get around to getting it done.

You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Which makes me somewhat of a slacker.

No, those are not contradictory statements. Think about it.


Anyway, if I keep telling you all I'm doing it, it will HAVE to get done at some point, right?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Springtime Resolution #1: Write More Fiction

The other night I had a dream that I had finally written a wonderful novel, and it had been an amazing overnight world-wide success. I flew to Britain to kick off a whirlwind book tour, and at some fancy literary party full of fancy literary luminaries, I ran into Neil Gaiman. (Okay, I know-- though British by birth, Neil Gaiman actually lives in America. In Minnesota. Near Minneapolis. But this was a dream, all right? Maybe he was there promoting his new children's musical pandimonum Wolves in the Walls. What? No! I'm not obsessed with Neil Gaiman. Not in the slightest. What are you implying? Anyway).

In my dream, he said to me, "I read your new novel and I am absolutely in love with it. You have a beautiful mind. I do hope you're already writing another."

And, in my dream, I was preternaturally unruffled, and said something very coy and witty in response that set the whole room laughing. And then I woke up. Because I must have suddenly known at that moment I was dreaming. Because in real life, not only have I not yet written a best-selling novel-- In real life, I am a total dork, and there is no way on earth I would ever be able to come up with anything witty to say to Neil Gaiman, or for that matter any famous author I like, in person. I mean, seriously. I'd be lucky to be able to stammer out a "How-very-nice-to-m-m-meet you!"before flushing bright red and ducking into the next room to get a drink or something.

Then the next afternoon I casually happened to saunter by Neil Gaiman's blog (See? Happened. To saunter by. Casually. Not obsessed). And I saw that he'd put up a post about dreams (And about a guy who is EATING,* as in munching the pages, of Neil Gaiman's complete works. See? I am not obsessed with Neil Gaiman!).

And for a split second before reading on, I imagined, despite being a card-carrying skeptic of all-things-supernatural, that Neil Gaiman would say, "Last night I had a curious dream about meeting this young American woman, quite the sparkling wit, who had written the most fascinating book, and we had such a pleasant, entertaining conversation, and I told her that she had a beautiful mind, and that she she should really write another book. (And also, on a side note, I was thinking, in this dream I had, that she was strikingly attractive in a nerdy sort of way, and that that charming, handsome husband of hers who regularly reads her blog had to be a very lucky man). And I woke with the unmistakable sense that this woman really exists somewhere, and I really ought to tell her that she really ought to write something. Isn't that odd?"

And I further imagined that this shocking cosmic coincidence would be a blaring wake-up call from the universe telling me to GET ON IT ALREADY with the actual writing of one or more of the fifteen different unwritten stories I currently have knocking around in my big fat head, and that somehow I would be inspired to find time and energy, to MAKE time and energy, in my WAHM-of-a-toddler schedule to write something for myself already, something I wasn't expecting to immediately be paid for, (other than, of course, my blog).

But it turns out Neil Gaiman, being Neil Gaiman, actually had just a dream about escorting a zombie Queen Mother to some charity dinner whilst trying to evade the mafia.

I decided to make myself take it as a cosmic sign anyway.

*Okay, so it turns out this book-eating guy may have just been perpetrating an elaborate April Fool's hoax. But still, I imagine there are people out there who really would do this.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What Is Wrong with My Teeth?

I dragged myself back to the dentist yesterday. Not the dental surgeon with the scary ditzy assistant, but my regular dentist, one Dr. Hill, who has very nice competent not-scary assistants.

I was all afraid Dr. Hill and his nice assistants were going to tell me that my teeth/jaw/nerves had been irrevocably damaged during my wisdom tooth extraction, or that I had some sort of raging super-bug infection that was going to require ten weeks of industrial-strength antibiotics taken by injection, or something.

But instead, after taking an x-ray and poking my mouth with various things, they told me the actual situation was that my gums hadn't healed properly or quickly enough on the lower-left side, and that consequently a small gap had formed between my gums and one of my teeth that was leaving a small portion of the root of my tooth exposed. The root is unprotected by enamel, and is therefore very sensitive to pressure and temperature changes. Which would be why I've been getting occasional random throbbing pains in my jaw, why it hurts when I chew things, and also why I've been wanting to scream every time I eat or drink anything cold.

Now, if you've been reading my blog over the past three weeks, you may recall that the oral surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth previously told me the reason I was still having pain on the lower left side was that the gum tissue in that area had healed TOO WELL, closing over the wound too quickly and trapping fluid inside, which lead to an infection. And so he took it upon himself to CUT MY GUMS BACK OPEN a week after my original surgery.

Who's right here? Did my gums heal "too well," and create an infection that caused this gap to form? Did my gums heal incorrectly, and did the oral surgeon therefore make this whole situation worse by cutting them open again?

I don't know.

All I know is that Dr. Hill says there is basically nothing he can do for me right now that wouldn't be likely to make the situation worse, and I will just have to put up pain and cold sensitivity, possibly for several more weeks, until the gap closes on its own. And also that I should keep brushing and flossing my teeth at least three times a day, irrigating my gums, and washing my mouth out with warm salt water every time I eat or drink anything, indefinitely.


On the upside, I am convinced I have the cleanest mouth in at least a 20-mile radius.

And I don't appear to need industrial-strength antibiotics, or a root canal.