Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's kind of like Yahtzee, but the dice aren't white.

Once again at the firm's holiday party this year, we were encouraged to select festive "Christmas names" for the silent auction. I didn't participate, as usual, but I was all about stirring up some trouble because I'm pretty sure not everyone celebrates Christmas. It's not merely politically correct to use the term holiday rather than Christmas; it's accurate. I helped one co-worker brainstorm her submission--Dreidel--and I suggested Kwanzaa to another co-worker. She smiled, put pen to paper and asked me how to spell it.
"K..W..A... Wait a minute, you do know what Kwanzaa is, don't you?"
"Yeah. Is it a game?"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Guidville, USA

I got an irate call from my husband this morning. He had called Dish Network because there was something wrong with our system, and he didn't want to miss our college football team's playoff game tomorrow morning. Go, Bearcats! That's all the spirit I've got, unfortunately. When pressed, I got the school colors wrong, and I got a four-year degree there. Incidentally, AC Milan is in the World Club Cup Championship game. Now that's exciting. Woo-hoo! Anyone?

We've had problems dealing with Dish Network in the past because it's about the only bill in my name, and Sam is usually the one who calls. I kept my name when I married Sam because my last name is Italian and Sam's is German or maybe Dutch, we're not sure. I don't get bent out of shape if a telemarketer asks for Jennifer Hislastname, but Sam, for whatever backwards reason, comes unglued when he is mistakenly referred to as Sam Mylastname. So, the poor Customer Service Rep was unsuccessfully trying to locate our account on their system, and Sam finally suggested she look it up under "Sam Mylastname." The CSR found it, and they were happily progressing through the diagnostics when the CSR said something about our address in Rockaway Beach, New York. She had pulled up some other Sam Mylastname's account.

At this point in the story, Sam's voice went up an octave. "Do you know where that is?" he demanded. "It's in the heart of Guidville! There are probably a dozen Sam Mylastnames in Rockaway Beach, New York." I tried to interrupt him with threats of marital sanctions for his ethnic slur, but he was unstoppable. Apparently, I am supposed to call Dish Network and explain to them that Sam has his own last name, and we in no way live in Rockaway Beach, New York aka Guidville or Dagotown. And once again - you cannot imagine how often this topic is revisited - Sam declared that our lives would be so much easier if I would just take his name. Sam, I'm not going to change my name and erase my heritage so that you can make a phone call to Dish Network. But thanks for asking.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Double Bagged

The baby, and therefore I, have been sleeping really well lately. So what gives this morning with my reflection in the bathroom mirror? The bags under my eyes have bags. Both eyes! Am I that tired and don't even know it? It looks like the usual puffy, purple bags gave birth to little baby bags and are carrying them around on their hip. Well, congratulations on your little ones, undereye bags. Kiss sleeping goodbye. And the strangest part? I wasn't even disgusted, just...intrigued.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm not going to let you ruin Christmas

There has been fierce action in our Competitive Parenting of late. It usually ramps up around the holidays because there are so many opportunities to snatch greatness. Like printing out ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas schedule so we don't miss any of the classic shows (that was me), making hot chocolate from scratch (Sam), or finding a Super Mario stocking (me again!).

Friday we got our Christmas tree. We usually get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that's about four feet tall, but the boys came home with one that's a hair taller than me. It only has four branches, though, so it still qualifies. You can really see the ornaments without all that pesky greenery. Paolo and I were decorating it when Gianluca woke up. I told Sam to take over for me while I fed the baby. He kept flailing his limbs and clawing me with his little razor-nails rather than eating, so I got annoyed and started sniping at everyone. Sam hung exactly two ornaments before huffing over to the couch to read a book. Lacking direction, Paolo began jumping over the pile of ornaments until he landed on one and broke it. Sam promptly shut down Christmas for the night, and we all sulked. Fa la la la laaaa. Later, Sam began speaking to me again in order to tell me he had decided not to let me ruin Christmas. That is our new holiday motto. For example, "You drank the last of the egg nog? I'll pick some up at the store, because I'm not going to let you ruin Christmas."

Saturday, Paolo and I made an Advent Calendar out of a cereal box and old Christmas cards. So now he can count down the days until Christmas by opening little doors to reveal pictures that he cut out himself. I thought I'd racked up monster parenting points...until Sam got Paolo to eat spinach sauteed with garlic and red wine vinegar at dinner. I don't know many adults who would eat that, and the kid snarfed it up. That pretty much blew my Advent Calendar out of the water.

I was still mourning the loss of my parenting crown yesterday morning when Sam called me to report that Paolo had upchucked his breakfast. He was convinced it was because he had been giving Paolo too much sugar lately, and the chocolate-covered donut had pushed his little body past its limit. As Sam described the crushing guilt he felt when the sprinkles came out of Paolo's nose, I murmured my sympathy. But really, inside I was shouting, I'M BACK ON TOP! Well, it wasn't the donut after all. Paolo threw up a half-dozen more times throughout the day before I got home from work, but had absolutely no other symptoms of illness. By pure coincidence - I mean, superior parenting - once I took over rationing the food and drink, Paolo kept everything down. He made it through the night okay and is doing fine today, which is as it shoud be, because we're not going to let him ruin Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Reaching milestones at 2:00 A.M.

Okay, little buddy, you lie right there, and I'll lie next to you. No, no, don't turn over, you can't sleep on your stomach. You have to sleep on your back, it's a baby rule. There you go, I'll just ease you back over. Child, stop rolling over here. Where am I going to sleep? Well, maybe it would be okay if you slept on your stomach. I'm right here; I'd know if you were in distress. Hmm, that's a bad idea. I'm flipping you back... HEY! HE CAN ROLL OVER!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 11/07

Nov. 22 - 11:34 a.m. A man at 12230 Rose Cemetery Road, Prairie Grove, reported exhaust fans to a chicken house turned off and about 1,500 chickens died.
Is it too late to add chicken to the Thanksgiving dinner menu? Waste not, want not.

Nov. 24 - 12:29 p.m. A man on South 19th Street reported his brother-in-law standing outside with a club saying “blood will be shed.”
If my husband stepped out of line, I wish my brother would come get all Braveheart on our front lawn, but he probably never gets that drunk.

2:57 p.m. A woman at 706 Dewoody Drive reported a turkey fryer stolen from the back of her pickup.
You know, you can get one at Wal-Mart that isn’t already coated with used grease and turkey fat for, like, fifty bucks. Seriously.

10:53 p.m. A man at Buffalo Wild Wings, 2707 Moberly Lane, reported an intoxicated man punching vehicles and the mailbox and refusing to leave.
Oh, he’ll leave all right, once the buzz wears off and he notices his hands are hamburger.

Nov 26 - 5:49 p.m. A woman at 16801 U.S. 71 in Winslow reported her neighbor shot her dog again.
It’s the “again” that kills me.

7:05 p.m. A caller at George’s Hatchery, 402 W. Robinson Ave., reported a car stolen.
Go, baby chickens, go!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Now I lay him down to sleep

"Paolo Joseph, I love you."

"That wasn't very exciting."

"No, I guess it wasn't very exciting."

"I thought you were going to tell me something special."

"It's always special when someone loves you."

"..................."

"Okay, goodnight, bud."

"I'm trying to sleep."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Please won't you be my neighbor?

At the park on Saturday, I was accosted by a stay-at-home mother or Mommie, as I think of them. Usually my avoidance of the playground benches and focus on my kids ensure these weirdos leave me alone. Unlucky for me, it was a game day, so the playground was almost empty, and Ellie (Notice how her name ends in 'ie'? They all do.) was determined. Ellie chatted brightly about how her family had moved to town the day before, and she had come to the park to find mommie friends.

Her third question, right after establishing my name and how long I've lived here, was "And what does your husband do?" I was so thrown, I answered before I could process the implications of that question. I was as surprised as if she'd just asked me my shoe size, but I thought there would be some follow-up information that would justify the inquiry. Like if I answered size 7 1/2, she'd give me a pair of shoes. But that wasn't the purpose of the question. She was "getting to know me" and, apparently, my husband's occupation defines not only him, but me as well. Once my brain caught up with my mouth, I felt like I'd taken a swig of sour milk and swallowed before realizing it had gone bad.

Now I'm not very good at small talk, but if I want to get to know people, I'm interested in their hobbies, their taste in books and music. A person's career as a realtor tells me nothing about whether we'd get along, but a scrapbooking obsession speaks volumes. I don't walk up to a man and ask how he earns his money, and I sure as hell wouldn't approach a woman and ask how her husband keeps her. Seriously, who thinks like that? A job, no matter how much you love it, is WHAT YOU DO, not WHO YOU ARE.

As I walked away, I realized that I must have blown my new-mommie-friend interview because Ellie didn't ask for my number or try to give me hers. Or maybe I was supposed to initiate that. This sounds an awful lot like dating, and I never did that either.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fright Night

My family deserved a quality Halloween experience. All previous Halloweens have gone poorly, and by "poorly" I mean they made us wish we had never had a child. For Paolo's first Halloween, we took baby Wizard to my boss's Halloween party, where Sam spilled a beer all over her granite countertop, making a huge mess for her Honduran maid to clean up. Halloween II entailed carrying little Frog Prince around crowded, miserable Malloween to procure smashed Tootsie Rolls and luggage coupons. Halloween III was epically terrible. Paolo's gorgeous dragon costume had puffy feet that rested on top of his actual feet. Paolo could not be persuaded that his actual feet still existed because, looking down, he could not see them. Screams of MY FEEEET echo to this day in the dark recesses of my memory. We had to carry Paolo around this Halloween, too. He refused to walk because he had no feet. And also, he threw up the teeny bites of candy I allowed him. Last year Paolo invented the character of Super Tiger Boy. You can read about that debacle here.

Which brings us to Halloween V. Sam and I went trick-or-treating with mini-Superman, and my mom stayed home with the pea pod. The experience couldn't have been more perfect, strolling through a historic neighborhood of big Victorian houses, teeming with giggling, costumed kids racing from door to door. I was thoroughly enjoying this idyllic slice of small-town America until we spotted two tween-age girls dressed up as Mammies. That's right: faces painted brown, slave clothes padded to form giant bosoms and bottoms, kerchiefs knotted around their heads a la Aunt Jemima. Holy lynch mob, Batman, I'd almost forgotten I live in the South. How, HOW did they think that was a good idea? Where were their parents? Probably out burning crosses. Sam tried to help me stop hyperventilating by assuring me that, at some point during the night, those idiot girls would run across a black family, preferably some hard-luck New Orleans transplants, and get their heads kicked in. That Sam, he always knows the right thing to say.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I should have married beneath me.

We were driving to the mall, and I noticed a half-built dome atop some new construction on the corner. While sitting at the red light, I quipped, "Oh, look, they're putting a dome on that building. They certainly didn't get Brunelleschi's advice." Sam didn't reply. "It isn't very often a person can reference Florentine architecture, you know," I added, feeling smart and unappreciated. Sam glanced over at me and said, "It looks more like a Spanish dome." God, I hate him.

Replace with...

I just got an email from my sister-in-law thanking me for Gianluca's birth announcement. Yes, he's seven weeks old. I've been busy. Anyway, "Gianluca" had been turned into a hyperlink by the email program. Sweet, I thought, I'll click on this and a whole army of Gianlucas will appear, hopefully none of them porntastic. Turns out it was only a spell-checking feature suggesting that I should replace Gianluca with Ganglia, Galician, Gigantic, Gigantically, Granular, Gail, or Gallup. I don't know about you, but I think Gallup William has a nice ring to it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can't you see I'm blurry? Maybe this blues can wait.

That's a lyric from Night of a Thousand Verses by Semisonic, who coincidentally will be coming up on my playlist soon, as I am in the R's in my continuing quest to listen to my music collection alphabetically.

I'm convinced that 80% of post-partum depression is sleep deprivation, 15% is insecurity, and 7% is resentment. That adds up to 100 after three months without a decent night's sleep. I'm a little prone to suffering from "the baby blues," or post-partum suckitude as I like to call it. I'm a perfectionist with no patience for a learning curve. If the baby is crying, it's something I'm doing wrong. If Paolo is sad because I'm not spending enough time with him, I am failing as a parent. And, of course, there are the countless ways I disappoint my husband. Not only does he have to make up for my shortcomings, he has to put up with my being sad about them. Now how depressing is that? Without enough sleep, I can't see how false and negative this thinking is. It is my reality.

I was barely getting enough sleep during my maternity leave. Now that I have to get up for work and can't nap during the day, I'm down to five interrupted hours of sleep a night. I can't think how to fit in more sleep that doesn't come unfairly at the expense of my family. After his day of caring for both boys, making me lunch on my break, cleaning house, running errands, doing laundry, cooking dinner, putting Paolo to bed and washing my breast pump, I just don't feel right asking Sam to do more. Call me crazy.

I never thought having a baby would be easy, but I didn't realize how hard a second baby would be. As Gianluca gets older, he'll sleep longer at night, so I'll sleep more and be a happier, more productive person. So, little one, not too much longer, okay?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ninja Warrior

There is a show on G4 called Ninja Warrior that has captivated my household, most notably the testosterone set. Ninja Warrior reminds me a lot of Iron Chef: a crazy, campy, competitive show has come out of Japan and completely changed the face of television. My television, anyway. One hundred competitors--athletes, garbage collectors, firefighters, comedians--begin the first stage of a bizarre obstacle course in hopes of reaching the final, fourth stage. The courses are physically grueling and insanely hard. Sometimes no one makes it past the third stage. The Warped Wall and Spider Walk can be real killers, and the Pipe Slider has shattered many dreams. In fact, there is only one Ninja Warrior.

We watch it every weeknight, and Paolo lives it every day. He creates Ninja Warrior courses at the playground, but he also puts himself through his ninja paces at the grocery store, library, and restaurants. Anywhere there is a wall, door or ledge, Paolo is bouncing, jumping, hanging and creeping in complete earnestness. Sam is, of course, Paolo-sahn's Mr. Miyagi. I'm left to be the responsible parent, which is a shame because I'm much better at frowning than enforcing. Besides, with more upper-body work, I think Paolo could be a contender. I can hear the cheesy dubbed announcer now, "Our next competitor has been training for this from the tender age of four. Don't let his cherub smile fool you. The face of an angel disguises the soul of a WARRIOR!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If I didn't have a sense of humor, he'd be dead by now

Keep in mind I had his baby, drug-free*, a mere two and half weeks ago.

Me: Gianluca has outgrown his first outfit, so now I have a dilemma. Do I store any baby clothes as keepsakes or do I just get rid of them all?

Sam: We're gonna have another kid, right?

Me: Um. What?

Sam: We've got to have three.

Me: Well, neither of us got fixed, so it's still in the realm of possibility, I suppose.

Sam: I can't get fixed. I might want to have kids with my second wife.

*That's somewhat misleading. I did have Pitocin, which speeds up labor by making your contractions very strong very fast. I didn't have any pain-relieving drugs. That's just the kind of wonder-woman (idiot) I am.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ten days ago

Gianluca came to hang out with us on September 3rd. He sleeps a lot, which can be normal for a newborn or a self-defense escapist mechanism. Hard to say.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How you know you're going to have a big baby

He simultaneously reaches for your hipbone and kicks you in the esophagus.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dear Second Son, I'm Apologizing Already

We've finally named the kid. It was a lot like naming Paolo. We knew we were possibly doing a great disservice to our offspring, but we couldn't help ourselves. We're doing it again. Brace yourselves.

We are waiting for you, Gianluca.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

OverHeard at Home

Your orange juice intake this pregnancy has been abominable. Our kid's probably going to have some horrible disease that you could have prevented, like citric fibrosis.

Okay, okay, let's play Simon Says again, Mama. This time you be Simon...and I'll be Says.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alone but not lonely.

Last night was a big night for our boy. Apart from the toy box, which awaits a second coat of paint, Paolo's room is officially ready to be occupied. We'd been telling Paolo he was getting his own room, and he was cool with it, as long as we didn't move his bed. He was very firm on that; he was scared to sleep alone. I assumed he'd flip yesterday after school when he saw his bed in his new room, but he didn't. In fact, it was eerily easy putting him to bed last night. With next to no fuss, he fell asleep as I sat beside him.

At about 2:00 in the morning, I awoke to a wild party being thrown by Paolo's flamenco-dancing, hiccuping little brother and, since I was up, I tiptoed to Paolo's room to check on him. I soundlessly opened the door and peered into the darkness. In the glow of the nightlight, I saw Paolo sleeping peacefully in his bed and Sam sacked out with a pillow and blanket on the floor next to him. You know, just in case. In case his little boy should wake up on that first night, disoriented and afraid, he wouldn't have to take a single step to find comfort.

That's what I love about my family, and what I think "family" is supposed to mean: never feeling alone.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Great concerts

Billy Bragg at the Filmore in San Francisco, Freedy Johnston opening (2000). Excellent venue, of course. Very purple. I'm a Freedy fan, too, so attending this concert was a no-brainer. Billy Bragg was tremendous, peppering the performance with socialist commentary and admiration for the World-Cup winning U.S. women's soccer team.

Lush in Dublin (1996). This was an unexpected delight. I was in Dublin on one of those university study abroad two-week courses. A friend that I met on the trip was also heavily into Britpop, so when we saw the flyer for the concert, we got tickets and blew off our night class. Shortly thereafter, the drummer committed suicide and the band split up. So, lucky me.

Morrissey in Lawrence, Kansas (1998). Damn, that man puts on a show, whipping the microphone cord around like a lion tamer. Highlight was the lookalike worshipper who threw flowers, and later himself, on stage.

Oasis in Minneapolis (1995). So cool because we drove eight hours in winter for the concert, which was in the university campus concert hall - such a small venue for the likes of the Second Coming.

Cranberries in Kansas City (1995). The concert was fine, but the truly memorable part was the drive home during which Sam and I were pulled over for speeding. The police searched my car, which was laughable because there was nothing contraband in it except that RIFLE that Sam forgot he had in the trunk. I'll never forget shivering on the side of the road with my hands on the hood of my car, wondering exactly how much trouble I was in, warmed only by the guilt rolling off of Sam in waves.

L&D Books dying to be written

Since I'm a veteran, I'm not planning to attend childbirth classes or watch Babies: Special Delivery marathons on TLC this time around. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to check out a labor & delivery book just to refresh my memory about stages of labor and whatnot. I'd prefer to skip the blessings and miracles and promises of painlessness, but there don't seem to be any books out there that fit the bill. Where are these titles?:

  • Preparing a Birth Plan, and Other Wastes of Time
  • It's Supposed to Hurt
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Take That Down
  • Exactly How Much is This Going to Suck?
  • Negotiating the Pitfalls of Labor/Management Relations: How to Tell Your Doctor What He/She Can Do with Those Forceps Without Sounding Rude
  • What Goes Up Must Come Down
  • Not All Babies Are Cute: How to Love a Conehead

Friday, August 10, 2007

Round update: Week 35

It turns out every other kid in Paolo's class knows what a woman walking around toting an enormous belly means. Each time I enter the classroom, another ankle-biter runs up and asks if I have a baby in my belly, if I'm going to have a baby, or why my belly is so fat. I should really work on an answer to that last puzzler that's better than, "Because it is" or "Well, your belly isn't so small," both of which are things I have actually said. If I could be sure that Paolo knew the current location of his brother, I'd respond like I had two brain cells to rub together, but I don't think he knows. As I've mentioned before, we decided not to bring it up unless he asks.

This morning I was fending off another probing question when Paolo hooked one arm around my leg and put his other hand protectively on my stomach and steered me away from the interrogation. It reminded me of the phase he went through at three when, if another child approached me, he would jump between us, arms out to ward off the interloper, and shout, "MY Mama," as if I were his greatest possession. On the other hand, he may have just felt bad for me because his friends keep calling me fat. Whether or not he has a clue what's inside, Paolo loves my belly. He likes to pat it, lay his head on it, or - my favorite - grab me around the legs and look up at me from beneath so only his eyes and the top of his head are visible. Cracks me up every time.

Paolo has picked up on the whole pampered pregnant thing, too. Last night he asked me if I wanted a glass of milk, and I said I did. (I drink about a cow and a half a week.) He instantly called out, "Daddy, you gotta get Mama some milk." That's how it works these days: I have two boys attentive to my comfort and every need. It's overwhelming, slightly embarrassing, and lovely. It's also temporary, so SOMEBODY FETCH ME SOME LEMONADE AND RUB MY FEET.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 8/2/07

2:53 p.m. A woman at 20089 Center Road, Winslow, reported her neighbor shot some of her goats.
6:46 p.m. A woman at 160 Roundtop Road, Sulphur Springs, reported her boyfriend threatened to shoot her cattle because he believed she shot his dog.
Guns don’t kill animals. Wal-Mart's everyday low prices on ammunition kill animals.

10:02 p.m. A woman at 1217 W. Walnut St. reported a man stole her phone and then told her to pick it up at Waffle Hut but he didn’t leave it there.
You’d think a thief would be more honest.

5:10 p.m. A woman on Bonnabel Lane, Rogers, reported a child accused her of stealing his mother’s cigarettes.
But if you hand over your lighter, he’ll pretend he never saw a thing.

10:55 p.m. A man on Sunnydale Drive reported his ex-girlfriend would not leave.
10:56 p.m. A woman on Sunnydale Drive reported her ex-boyfriend beat her up.
When your psycho ex-boyfriend with violent tendencies tells you to leave, it may not be worth sticking around to finish the argument. I’m just saying.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Baby name suggestions, by Paolo

1. Carlo (also the name of Paolo's imaginary dog that he's had for two years)
2. His father will come and tell us what his name is
3. I don't think we should call him ANYTHING
4. Luke, like Luke Skywalker
5. Bruno
6. John Cheffer (We were watching Top Chef at the time, or it may have been Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, unless it was Hell's Kitchen, although definitely not Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations because that comes on past my bedtime. Two hundred channels, and all we watch are cooking shows.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tears in the Pesto

I know it's been a while since I've posted the hilarious and intriguing police calls from our local paper, but today I have my own crime to report. My potted basil plant was stolen from our front walk Saturday night. I went out Sunday afternoon to gather the basil I'd need for two of my dinner dishes, and there was a gap in my row of potted herbs. I didn't jump to conclusions. I scouted the perimeter of the house and questioned its inhabitants before arriving at the sad and shocking truth: somebody ripped off my basil. And then I began swearing, which I believe is the step after denial in the grieving process.

It's Tuesday now, and I don't think my basil will be returned. I've left its spot open, just in case the hooligans might regret their actions, but only the chalky orange circle on the pavement stares up at me each day. Since I can't figure out why anyone would steal another person's 20-inch pot, AND SAUCER, three feet from the front door, I can't help but wonder what has become of my plant. I mean, the thieves took the saucer. Doesn't that mean they care? Maybe they've always wanted a basil plant of their own but, for whatever reason, just weren't able to have one. Or have they completely stripped it and created some culinary nightmare with all of its beautiful leaves? By now the dirt-filled pot must be lying cracked and abandoned in a ditch somewhere.

As some insensitive clod said to me, at least I still have my other herbs. That is cold comfort, Sam, I mean, anonymous insensitive clod! What the hell do you think Angelina would say if someone made off with Pax? Oh, it's okay, I still have Shiloh and Maddox and Zahara...dear Lord, and I get flak for "Paolo"? Yes, Sage and Rosemary are present and hearty, but Basil is gone! Basil was my favorite, my high-needs herb, the one that mattered the most in our summer cuisine. Too much sun, it burns; too little sun; it won't mature; too much pruning, it can't recover; too little pruning, it goes to seed. I have spent years perfecting the right location, pot size, maintenance regimen, and this year I nailed it. It wasn't a basil plant, it was a basil epiphany. Oh, you should have seen it. Have you seen it? Or who took it? There may be a reward.

I have imposed upon you long enough, kind reader, with my tale of woe. I could have written something funny, like how Paolo wants to change his name to Chief Bruno, but instead I've bored you with botanical theft: a senseless-but not victimless-crime. The writing has been therapeutic for me. Maybe now the healing can begin.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

WWJP?

Law Clerk: Parking near campus is just impossible lately. I used to park in the University Baptist Church lot, but they've turned it all into paid parking.

Melissa: Have they? That's where I used to park, too.

Me: Where Would Jesus Park?

Melissa: He wouldn't have a car.

Me: Yeah, they'd be all, "You can't park that donkey here."

Melissa: They wouldn't make Jesus pay for parking.

Me: I bet they would.

Melissa: He's Jesus. They wouldn't make him pay.

Me: Whatever. They don't care who his daddy is.

Melissa: WWJP?

Me: I'm going to spray paint that all over their No Parking signs ... Hey, where did the law clerk go?

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Retirement of a Gladiator

Francesco Totti announced his retirement from the national team today, after a year of speculation following the Azzurri's World Cup victory. At his best, Totti had vision, skill, artistry and unflagging devotion on the pitch. At his worst, he was petulant, fraudulent, lazy and absent. Throughout his career, I have both admired him and been terribly disappointed in him, but there is no denying he is one of the greats, an Italian legend.

Totti wore the number 10 for the Azzurri, and I can't think who will wear it now. A creative, attacking midfielder - the Playmaker - is not so easy to replace. Who is the new Totti? Sure, there are Del Piero and Pirlo, but those guys aren't getting any younger. Who is the next brash, fearless, imperfect, brilliant star to streak towards goal, to send in the perfect cross, or to score a free kick that defies the laws of physics?

Totti has said that he is more loyal to his club team, AS Roma, than to the national team. I could never understand that, and I don't think Italian fans or players did either. Totti is a rare player in that he has only ever played for Roma. Most players jump around in their careers to bigger clubs, higher salaries, and better chances at winning titles. Still, everyone knows it is the greatest honor to pull on the blue jersey and play for Italy. Ever since Totti made that statement, I have had mixed feelings about his place on the Azzurri squad. If his heart is not in it, I know how badly he can play. "If Italy is not his highest professional priority, I don't want him on my team," I declared defiantly, all the while watching from the corner of my eye for his return.

Totti, affectionately called Bimbo d'Oro (Golden Boy), was often weighed down by a superstar complex, but on many occasions earned every accolade. Totti: easy to love, easy to hate, impossible to count out. Until now. Now he has counted himself out of the lineup, and I will miss him.

Grazie, Francesco, for your contributions in blue. See you in August wearing red and yellow.


Monday, July 16, 2007

The blinding and unwelcome dawn of realization

Everywhere Paolo and I go, people ask him about his impending sibling. Since he doesn't know where the little guy is right now, he always gets the same expression on his face: DUDE, how do they KNOW? In all other respects, Paolo is a smart and observant boy, but he has no idea why I have an enormous belly. He knows he's getting a baby brother, but he thinks someone is bringing him to us. We're okay with that. As Sam puts it, if Paolo ends up thinking that we went to the hospital to pick up a baby, that's just fine with him. A four-year-old doesn't need to understand the logistics or start thinking of his mother's abdomen as a tank of sea monkeys. Because once that line is crossed, then come the uncomfortable questions: how did he get there and how is he getting out? I expect to have that talk much later, when I can lay down the mechanics of the process and lecture that he must never, never engage in it until he is at least in college and never with a skank.* I can't control what his dad tells him, but he better back me up on the skanks.

After one such encounter with an impertinent grocery checker (seriously, people, please direct your questions to me instead of the child), Paolo and I discussed his baby brother in the car on the way home. I asked Paolo for name suggestions and, after thinking for a minute, he answered, "His father will come and tell us what his name is." Oh boy. "Paolo, Daddy is your baby brother's daddy." With near-hysteria in his voice, Paolo declared that I am HIS mama, and Daddy is HIS daddy and any would-be usurper can just suck it. That last part was implied. My explanation of how the newbie would be a part of our family was met with cold silence. I tried to continue our baby-naming conversation, which had been interrupted by the elephant falling on his head, but he blasted me with, "I don't think we should call him ANYTHING." Discovering that he will be expected to share the center of the universe has Paolo completely over the baby brother thing. This is not going to go well.

*I was watching VH1's "I Love the 80s" wherein the term skank was featured as extinct slang from 1987. Perchance I'm showing my age, but when did skank die? I can understand if I were going around calling Juicy-butted girls ho-bags, but skank? Skank is timeless.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pneumonia in July

Summer's here, the grass is green, the weather is warm, and Paolo contracted pneumonia. Figure that one out. It started with a minor cold that, over a week or two, escalated into a recurrent fever and deep cough. We got him to the doctor last Wednesday and received the diagnosis. Luckily, it's a mild case, and we're treating him with asthma medication and antibiotics. He was cleared to return to school on Monday, but his dad decided to keep him home until Wednesday.

With mom at work, the boys are running around shirtless, cleaning the house, excavating watermelons with drills, and doing the grocery shopping. The last thing they wore shirts for, I'm pretty sure. Today they're going to a magic show at the library and, at Paolo's suggestion, we're meeting up for a picnic lunch, and then who knows what other excellent boy adventures are in store. It's such a pleasure for me to come home to the two of them and see their utter contentment at having spent the day together.

Sam slipped into fatherhood like a favorite T-shirt, like he'd been waiting his whole life to be the light in his little boy's eyes. He makes mistakes like any parent, but he reflects on them, discusses them, and learns from them. I'll never be as natural and easy a parent as Sam, but I learn a lot by watching him. So when Paolo went on a coughing jag that ended up with him projectile vomiting all over the bathroom, I happily scrubbed down the walls while Sam cuddled Paolo on the couch.

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Husband, the Bad-Ass

Over the weekend, Sam gave Paolo and himself their annual summer buzzcut. A freshly shorn Paolo is about the cutest thing in creation; I can barely look directly at him without my eyeballs melting. On the other hand, the same haircut makes Sam look a bit like a thug, and I think it's gone to his head. On Saturday, he kicked a cat. At least that's the report I got from Paolo. Our neighbors have a cat they keep outside (which incidentally VIOLATES CITY ANIMAL ORDINANCES), and this cat has a most annoying habit of trying to run into our house every time the front door opens. Apparently, Sam and Paolo were about to come inside, and the cat was preparing to bolt, so Sam put his foot under the cat's belly and scooped it into the air. It flew impressively across the yard before landing on its feet. It hasn't tried to move in with us since. To Paolo, however, it will always be the meow-head that Daddy kicked. How funny was it at the pet store on Sunday (just visiting; no plans to adopt) when Paolo announced loudly, "That meow-head looks just like the one you kicked, Daddy!" in earshot of shoppers and employees? Totally hilarious.

Act II of Sam's new thug life took place Sunday afternoon. We were walking to the car after exiting Target, Sam carrying Paolo and a bag, me a few steps behind with another bag. We were well into in the crosswalk when an SUV shot past, inches away from Sam and Paolo. Having his hands full, Sam swung the bag into the side of the SUV. The driver stopped, brakes screeching, and opened her door as Sam marched around the back to yell at her. "HEY! You almost hit me, and you almost hit my son. This is a CROSSWALK. Do you see these yellow stripes? You have to stop when there are people in the crosswalk." And he swung the bag against the SUV again as he walked away. The driver's response: "Do you want me to call the cops? If you do that again, I'm calling the cops." As if that weren't amusing enough, Sam yelled back, "Why don't you back over my pregnant wife, too?" I was still chuckling when we got to our car and I noticed the SUV that almost ran down my family double-parked in the handicapped zone a few rows over while the driver, I'm sure, furiously dialed her cell phone. Oh, to be a fly on the windshield for that call: "I was speeding through a crosswalk when a man carrying a small child, who I guess I almost hit or whatever, assaulted my car with a plastic shampoo bottle and yelled at me. God, it was terrifying! Can you, like, arrest him or something?"

In the car Sam lamented that he was not setting a very good example for Paolo lately: kicking a cat and screaming at a crazy driver. I assured him they both had it coming, and it's important for Paolo to know his dad's a total bad-ass.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Triple the excitement

Paolo has had a big week. First, he moved up to the Scholars' Room at daycare, which is the last class before the kids head to kindergarten. Paolo was supposed to move up in September, but the teachers wanted to move several kids at a time rather than uproot an entire class at once. Paolo was in the first group of three to move up because--and my head is totally floating six feet above my shoulders right now--he's really smart, and the teachers felt sure he could handle the more challenging curriculum. As it turns out, they are not messing around with the kindergarten prep in that class. I have a sheet at home with six words to work on sight-reading this week: this, the, and, at, if, it, is. This kind of learning is a big jump from coming up with a handful of words that start with a certain letter. I've been working on sight-reading with Paolo, but our words are simpler: stop, go, no, play, a, I, red, blue, C-3PO and R2D2. Those last two count, right? They may not seem easier, but they are words that either he sees all the time or knows how to spell from a song. I don't know how to teach the words on the list. I've been racking my brain since Monday for a way to explain "the." Here it is Friday, the end of the week, and we haven't reviewed any of the sight-words due to my mental paralysis. And now my son is going to fall behind. It all starts here, you know. He can kiss that college scholarship goodbye.

This was also the first week of Paolo's swim lessons. They're going well, except that he refuses to get in the water without me. Parents aren't supposed to be in the water during class; the kids hang onto the side of the pool. I swore I wouldn't be that mom who hovered unnecessarily. However, by the second lesson, I had to come to terms with the fact that either (a) I get in the pool, or (b) we pack it in. Stubborn, thy name is Paolo. Once I'm in, I hang back out of the way, looking like a bobber in my maternity swim get-up, and Paolo participates in the class...for the most part. It's still a struggle for him to be comfortable in the water, but if there's a way to swim without getting one's face wet or moving one's arms at all, he's practically there.

We had a houseguest as well, which only added to the week's excitement. Sam's and my best friend from college came for a visit. It's probably weird that both Sam and I were such good friends with the same person, but there it is. Behold the power of Neal. Neal and Paolo instantly bonded, which makes sense considering that Paolo is genetically predisposed to find Neal vastly entertaining. Also, Neal presented Paolo with a cap gun. A gun. A gun with caps, little pellets of gunpowder. That explode. To a four-year-old. To MY four-year-old. Am I babbling? It would be an understatement to say that Paolo thinks the cap gun is the most wonderful toy ever and would like it to be surgically attached to his right hand. Before you call Social Services, you should know that my condition for allowing this most inappropriate gift (and I'm not offending Neal; he meant to make my eyes roll back in my skull) was that, once Paolo uses up all the caps, the gun has to disappear. This is a limited-time toy whose time is almost up. Neal, come back and see us anytime and, while I appreciate that other Arkansas children are already hunting by age 4, maybe a toy truck?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 6/22/07

7:59 a.m. A caller in Tontitown reported someone taking fence posts and bringing them back damaged.
Dammit, Cletus, I told you that wood wasn't strong enough to fix the floor on the trailer. Haul yourself out of that hole and take it back.

11:41 a m. A woman at 400 S. Futrall Drive reported a man got out of a vehicle with no pants or underwear and asked two girls at a pool if it was a community pool.
Because if it were a community pool, he'd have to put some shorts on. Great, let's party.

5:02 p.m. A man at First Baptist Church, 1709 Johnson Road, reported a man in a vehicle pointed a shotgun at him.
Did Jesus call the police when he was persecuted?

9:01 p.m. A caller on Turner Street reported a man kicked a woman in the buttocks during an argument.
I can just imagine the desk jockey taking this call: "And where did this assault take place?... He put a boot in her a...Thank you, sir, but I mean where are you calling from?"

10:57 p.m. A caller on East Randall Road reported 20 people fighting with baseball bats.
11:05 p.m. A caller on East Randall Road reported a man hit with a baseball bat.
Out of twenty bat-wielding rednecks, only ONE person connected? Swing it like you mean it, Dirty.

Monday, June 25, 2007

You can't always get what you want.

I've started the neurotic nesting thing, where I'm cleaning things with a toothbrush and re-folding everything in the linen closet. I worked hard on Saturday (after the fabulous pony party), and I worked even harder on Sunday. In the afternoon, Paolo refused to nap and Sam went on a bike ride. Me, I wanted to sit down, read the paper, and do the crossword. And I didn't just kind of want to do this; I really wanted to do this. I'm not sure why, but that 30-minute break between cleaning and starting dinner would make or break my satisfaction with life, and it hinged on the crossword. I pulled out Paolo's town rug, helped him pick out cars and trucks to run along its roads, and I sat on the floor with my paper and pen to be close by while he played.

Paolo thought it would be a lot more fun to crawl all over me, flick the paper, and generally be a complete nuisance. I coaxed, I demanded, I begged, I bellowed; he would not leave me alone. So the mature adult in the room crumpled up the paper, kicked it, and stormed into the kitchen to start dinner prep. The Menace followed me, repeatedly asking if I was happy and if we were friends. After the hundredth time I answered in the negative, he launched into a steady stream of how he was not happy, he was really just not really happy, and he was not my friend anymore. Once his chatter escalated to rudeness, Paolo got a scolding about the proper way to talk to one's mother and went to the living room to pout.

With all the extra prep time, dinner was pretty wonderful. I made fettucine with shrimp in a tomato cream sauce, an artichoke with lemon-butter dip, and blueberry cobbler for dessert. The not-quite-apple-of-my-eye, aka the Crappy Eater, had never eaten shrimp before. Not only did he eat the pasta without complaining, which is a tropical vacation in itself, he raved about how great it was. Then he wanted to try the "leaves" Sam and I were enjoying. We showed him how to peel a leaf off the artichoke, dip it in butter, and scrape the tender bottom with his teeth. And he did it, and he loved it. He declared artichokes to be his favorite food forever and asked to have them again and again. He thanked me for the tasty dinner and put stickers on my hands for doing such a great job.

I did finish that crossword much later, Paolo and I ended the night the very best of friends, and I got to see him take another step toward a life of food appreciation.

You get what you need.

Watermelon Walter

(Flipping through coupons in the Sunday paper)
Me: Check it out. You can customize a bag of Dum Dums for your kid, like Anna Banana, or Butterscotch Brian. What would be a good lollipop name for Paolo?
Sam: Pukin' Paolo
Me: What??
Sam: Punkass Paolo
Me: Oh, shut up

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bad license plates

1. 1PLY. This may not be your fault. You paid $40 to get a University Alumnus license plate, which consists of one number followed by three letters. Chances are you didn't choose this, but you should have kicked that back immediately at the DMV. Honestly, I buy generic toilet paper, but even I spring for 2-ply. What does your license plate say about you? You're a cheap bastard, possibly named Scott, and you better wash your hands twice.

2. KEMO. Okay, maybe your name is Keenan Moses or Kelly Monique, and you or your friends thought it would be hip to J-Lo your name. But didn't anyone at any time point out to you that it's a bad nickname and a terrible thing to put on your personalized plate? Hey, dawg, call me Kemo; all my homies do. Chemo?? Yeah, but with a K, so it's cool. No, dude, no it's not cool. Or maybe you're a really twisted radiologist.

Armchair psychology

I've been worried about Paolo. Lately he seems to be trying to regress. He has been having accidents overnight and at school. Around the house, he clings to me like a spider monkey, wrapping himself around an arm or leg. He requires constant assurance that we're friends and gets nervous if he thinks I'm mad at him. He picks at his fingernails and whines rather than using words when he's upset. I convinced myself these behaviors indicate a heightened level of anxiety about our impending family addition.

I think Paolo understands he's going to have a baby brother, but he doesn't want to talk about it. He asks no questions, shows no interest, and takes no notice of my expanding belly. We haven't forced information on him because he doesn't seem to want it. However, once I decided Paolo was a ball of anxiety, I concluded that he is aware a big change is coming and it's making him afraid because he doesn't understand what it means. I ran this theory by Sam, who dismissively told me I was projecting my own worries onto Paolo.

Undeterred, I sat down with Paolo yesterday and, as tenderly as I could, explained to him that he didn't need to be a baby for me to love him, and that I will always take care of him, no matter how big he is. I then asked if he thought he had to be a baby in order to cuddle and be close to me, to which he replied furiously, "I'M NOT A BABY!"

Thus, the theory I had cultivated for weeks was shot down. Sam was right, and I'm done projecting now. I'm the one who is worried about our happy family dynamic going all screwy; I'm the one having useless second thoughts. Is there such a thing as pre-partum depression?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heavy dreams

In the wee hours of the morning, Paolo woke from a restless sleep. With perfect clarity, I heard him sigh and say, "What's darkness?" before falling right back to sleep.

Indeed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The parks are no longer safe.

I am not taking Paolo to the park anymore for the rest of the summer. We walked into another birthday party on Saturday that I had not planned to attend. Who does this twice? Seriously.

As we were leaving the playground, a little girl carrying a plastic Party City bag came crying down the sidewalk chasing after her mother who had walked too far ahead for the girl's comfort. Paolo ran right over to the girl, which surprised the hell out of me. He's compassionate, but that was way out of character. The girl stopped crying immediately when she saw him and said, "Hi, Paolo. Look what I've got for my party." No. Way. Not. Again. My body slumped as Paolo cheerily called back to me, "It's Jillian, Mama. It's Jillian from my class!" Well, of course it is. I have her party invitation on our goddamn refrigerator so I won't inadvertently find myself in this exact situation. Just kill me. Before Jillian's mother, who was hurrying back to her no-longer-crying daughter, could get close enough for a conversation, I flashed her a quick smile and herded Paolo out of the park. In other words, I ran like a chicken and never looked back.

I'm sure it won't be awkward at all when I run into Jillian and her mother at Madelyn's birthday party next weekend. She'll be all, "What, my little girl's party wasn't good enough for you?" And I'll just be honest: "Well, maybe if you would have hired some ponies like Madelyn's mom..."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Birthday Party Protocol

Children's birthday parties are in full swing. Apparently, no one is born between October and March; they all wait for warmer weather. Paolo is booked for three weekends in a row, and I'm turning down invitations because there are multiple parties on the same day! Now, heaven knows Paolo doesn't have that many friends. It's just that his classmates' parents invite every child in the class to eat hot dogs and take swings at a piñata in honor of their little snotnoses. I don't get that. Maybe my kid is strange, but he doesn't like all the kids in his class. Frankly, his birthday party would have been ruined by some of those little shits showing up. So I didn't invite them.

Besides, I've taken Paolo to enough of his classmates' birthday parties to know it's always the little shits who show up: the ones who demand to open and keep the birthday presents, who have to have their sticky fingers pried off the piñata-thumping stick so someone else can have a turn, who have screaming fits when denied an extra piece of cake or third lollipop. It's edifying, though, to observe the mothers of these little beasts in action. They spend the entire party chastising, threatening, taking pictures, getting pummeled, rolling their eyes, and having zero effect on improving their child's behavior. Oh, that's why your kid is that way. You only speak to him to say no, and you never look him in the eye. It's no surprise he does the same with you. And yet, you never miss a party.

I miss as many parties as I can; I guard my weekends fiercely. I work full-time, and every minute I spend with Paolo is important to me. So, every birthday party invitation has to pass a three-step test. First, do I know this child? There are close to thirty kids in Paolo's class, so this isn't easy. I tend to know who's evil and who's lovely, but the kids in the middle can fall through the cracks. Second, I ask Paolo if he knows this child. If so, are they friends? This question gets me out of a lot of parties. Third, I factor in our availability for the date, as well as the venue and any special features, such as superhero dress or pony rides.

Whether or not I decide to go, I keep the invitation until the event date. I learned my lesson. If I do plan to go, I always RSVP and bring a small, wrapped present that Paolo and I purchase together. It's a current trend for parents to write "No Gifts Required" on the invitation. Now, I know the parents have bought way too much crap for their kid's birthday, and considering they've invited 30 kids to the party, Birthday Boy/Girl truly does not need a present from each attendee. Tough. My father taught me NEVER to show up empty-handed - not to a dinner party, a holiday party, and certainly not a kid's birthday party. If you don't want so many presents, be more selective with your guest list.

I do not mean to insinuate that having Paolo attend a child's party is some sort of honor. He will hang back most of the time, reserving his enthusiasm for the pinata and cupcakes. (To a four-year-old, if you have those two items on hand, you have yourself a party.) Paolo tends to weird out the adults because he doesn't act like a crack-addled monkey, but he will hand over his present without complaint, take turns at games, and wish a happy birthday to the Birthday Boy/Girl and and thank the hosts when we leave. So take THAT you parents who all seem to know each other and have SO much to talk about, while I smile politely and mentally drink myself unconcious. After about two hours of frosted bliss for Paolo and crushing discomfort for me, my well-behaved boy and I head home. It's a bittersweet feeling as we depart, favor bag in-hand, knowing that my elation at surviving another birthday party will be quickly crushed by the next little envelope in Paolo's school take-home folder.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Things I was smart enough not to say out loud

Me: That new Korean BBQ restaurant is getting good business. We should go there for lunch sometime.
Sam: We still need to check out the new Vietnamese place, Red Palace. Awesome name.
Me: Um, let's go to the Korean place first. I'm not sure I trust the Vietnamese restaurant.
Sam looks at me quizzically.
(In my head): What if they're still mad at us?

Me: I'd like to make you something special for Sunday dinner, it being Fathers' Day and all. Do you have any requests?
Sam: Yeah! I want a double order of those fried zucchini blossoms you made last weekend.
(In my head): I'd better get to the Farmers' Market extra early on Saturday in case there's a huge run on zucchini blossoms for Fathers' Day.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

And the results are in...

I passed the second glucose tolerance test! You'll recall my last blood sugar score was 140, just one measly point over normal range of 69-139. This time I knocked it out of the park with an 82. Wooooo! Who says cheaters never win? Somebody give me some chocolate.

Nightmare

Sometime during the night, I woke to hear Paolo crying in his sleep. I tried to wake him gently, imagining all the horrors he could be experiencing in his mind. We shouldn't have finally let him watch the first Star Wars movie. Even though it didn't scare him a bit at the time, it must have left some evil imprint on his delicate subconcious. He must be dreaming of monsters, of being chased or hurt. "Paolo, honey, Paolo, you're having a bad dream. Wake up, sweetheart." Even worse, what if he's dreaming of being alone? I bet he's lost or looking for me, but he can't find me. I rubbed his back and tried to break through his night terrors: "Mama's here, baby, Mama's here." Finally he woke, sat up, and asked for some water.
"Did you have a bad dream?" I asked him softly.
"Yeah," he answered.
"What was it about, bud?"
"You got me in Time-Out."

"Well, I'm sure you had it coming. Go back to sleep."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 5/27/07

7:01 p.m. A man at 2761 Travis St., Fayetteville, reported an automatic deer feeder stolen.
He will now have to go into the woods to bag a deer rather than picking them off from his back porch.

8:29 p.m. A caller on Orchard Way reported a pickup driving around while two men played instruments in the bed.
That's what we call a free concert in Arkansas.

10:15 p.m. A woman on South Seventh Street reported a male acquaintance threw a deep fryer.
I hope he took the turkey out first, because that's just wasteful.

10:53 p.m. A man at 1664 Lester Cove reported a small child was dropped on the floor.
Britney must have been in town for the Wal-Mart shareholders' meeting.

10:59 p.m. A woman at George’s Deboning Plant, 701 Porter Ave., reported a person stole a vehicle, hit a pedestrian and tried to drive through a fence.
Three hundred originality points for elevating "Take this job and shove it" to the next level. Fifty style points deducted for not making it through the fence.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

When History Majors Marry

(Phone rings at work.)

Me: Hello?

Sam: What's up, dude?

Me: Did Missouri enter the Union as a slave state or a free state?

Sam: Well, you have to remember how important it was to preserve the balance of the Union between free and slave states, hence the Missouri Compromise. Kansas came in...

Me: ...as a free state and Missouri came in as a slave state. Damn, why can't I remember that? So is it true that Missouri was the last to abolish slavery?

Sam: It makes no difference. Slavery was abolished on a national level, so however long it took state legislatures to push the paperwork through is moot. After Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitutional amendment, slavery was done.

Me: Okay, got it. Hey, what did you want anyway?

Sam: What is Cosmo short for?

Me: Well, it's really Cosimo, like Cosimo Medici.

Sam: Oh that's right, Cosimo was one of the Medici. You are the smartest person alive.

Me: Back at ya. Later.

Sam: Later.

Monday, June 4, 2007

It's only cheating if you get caught.

I totally cheated on my glucose tolerance test. I've never cheated on a test before in my life, academic or medical, so this was a first. My doctor had told me to sit during the hour-long wait between the sugar drink and the blood draw. I disagreed with that approach, so I took a walk around the building...five times. And also I walked a block uphill...twice. What? I was bored! I walked at a leisurely pace, and I sat the rest of the time, honest.

Besides, while the lab lady did my paperwork, she told me I was supposed to be fasting. That information would have been good to have BEFORE I ate breakfast that morning. She wrote down that I was fasting anyway. And I'm supposed to be concerned about the results being skewed because of a little exercise? Please.

And another thing: while I was waiting, I witnessed a parade of round ladies coming and going for their glucose screens. Only two of them were in for the three-hour test, and they were cows. "I am not one of you," I shouted inside my head, and then I went for another walk.

I expect to receive any bad news by mid-week. What if my score is still abnormally high, you may wonder? I will yield ever so gracefully to whatever medical atrocities they want to inflict on me because, if I didn't manage to pass the test this time, there is something seriously the matter with me. Moo.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I don't feel diabetic.

Last week before we left for the wedding in Omaha, a nurse from my doctor's clinic called to tell me I had failed my glucose tolerance test. This is the routine test that screens for gestational diabetes. The test subject drinks a highly sugared solution and, after an hour, her blood is drawn to see how much sugar remains. The normal range caps at 139, and I scored a 140. The nurse insisted I come in the next day for the more intensive three-hour glucose test. This beauty of a test entails fasting from midnight, having my blood drawn upon arrival at the lab, drinking even more of the sugary mess, and having three more blood draws at hour intervals. Jesus H. Considering I failed the test by one point, am very low-risk for gestational diabetes, and just plain don't want to take the miserable test, I refused. So I had to go see my doctor yesterday to argue about it.

In this age of opting-out, you'd think I could opt out of a lab test, but you would be wrong. I find that extremely messed up because, you know what it is optional? Testing for Down syndrome and neural tube defects. If I don't want to find out if my fetus might possibly NOT HAVE THE RIGHT NUMBER OF CHROMOSOMES, I don't have to. Like I would ever waive something like that. Hells no, test me twice!

I did score a minor victory at the visit. My doctor agreed that it makes no sense for me to have gestational diabetes, but she still wants to rule it out. I got her to agree to let me take the one-hour test again tomorrow. If I pass, I'm off the hook. If I fail again, I have to suck it up and spend three hours in the lab starving while they drain my life's blood away. It's either that or, at every visit from now on (and I've got about seven to go), I would have to undergo a two-hour postprandial blood sugar test. It seems a round lady can't catch a break. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

He is not the only one, and I can prove it.

Sam and I knew going in that we were blessing/cursing our son with a unique name. We knew we would never find a Paolo on a store rack of personalized cups or bike license plates or 'Stay out of _____'s Room' signs. We knew our Paolo would probably never meet another one. But they're out there, those Paolos, and they're totally rocking of late. I'd like to introduce you to a couple.

For those of you who weren't paying attention, AC Milan won UEFA Champions' League yesterday. This is important. Imagine if a professional sports team from some city in the United States could enter and win a championship to be the best team out of all the teams on the continent. Also pretend the U.S. were on a continent that had more countries that all played the same sport and were really good at it. Okay, I give up. The gentlemen holding the trophy is Paolo Maldini, otherwise known as God. I'm not kidding; look it up. It would take a very long time to detail all of his winnings and contributions to his club and national team throughout his long and illustrious career. So I'll just celebrate this, his latest. Auguri, Paolo!

Also underway is the Giro d'Italia, which is just like the Tour de France,
only it's a tour of Italy. Got it? The cyclist pictured on the right is Paolo Bettini, and he had a very good 2006. He is wearing a special white jersey, different from his team, because he is the reigning world champion of cycling. He is also the national champion of Italy and, not surprisingly, is heavily favored to win the Giro. Forza, Paolo.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

You know you want this ring tone

I work in an office with lots of other people. We all have phones, our own phones, right at our desks, just an arm's reach away. And yet, I hear cell phones ring all day long. I've got Madonna on my right, Chiquita Banana on my left, and a loud, angry robot across from me. When I get a cell phone one day (don't hold your breath), my ring tone will be a quiet, polite clearing of the throat.

Ahem.

A-hemm.

ahem.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

OverHeard from a Four-Year-Old

Following his father into a fitting room, right as the door closed behind them, Paolo asked him, "Hey, what's your name again?" That can't sound good to a store employee.

I asked Paolo what the nice police officer had talked about at career day at school: "He KILLS bad guys. He didn't have a sword, but he had a shooter, and you can only see what comes out of the shooter when he's KILLING bad guys." Nice presentation, Officer Slaughter.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Victory Baby

In the new Eurosport catalogue, there's a facetious article about a baby boom happening in Italy right now, nine months after the World Cup victory. The article points out that similar baby booms occured following each of Italy's three other World Cup victories. The most outlandish part of the article was the report that baby supplies were running out, and Italian women were getting into fistfights over packs of diapers for their "Victory Babies." While the story was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if historical birth rate statistics proved it true. I laughed at the article and passed it to Sam to read. When he'd finished, I sighed and said, "I want to have a Victory Baby." He replied, "You are having a Victory Baby." Seriously, I love him so much sometimes.

Speaking of Eurosport, I am now the proud owner of these beauties. So...pretty.

Princesses and Star Keepers

We went to see a fabulous family show on Friday night called The Star Keeper performed by the Canadian puppetry company Théâtre de l’Oeil. It's about a wormy little puppet guy named Pretzel who finds a fallen star and tries to put it back in the sky, helped and hindered by other fantastical puppet creatures. Probably because Mothers' Day was impending, Pretzel's devotion reminded me of maternal devotion. A mother's task is to help her stars find their places in the sky, and if she does her job right, she will watch them shine from afar.

Shortly after the show began, Paolo moved from Sam's lap to mine and instantly started wiggling. He wiggled off of one leg, then the other, until he was sitting on the seat between my legs, and began wiggling forward. I assumed he wanted to go back to Sam, so I took my arms from around his waist. Two seconds later, he fell forward into the wooden chairback in front of us. Because it was dark, and the chair was angled, he couldn't catch himself. The full brunt of the impact-THWACK-was borne by his face. A four-row perimeter of showgoers gasped and turned to see what had made that ungodly noise and also because Paolo was screaming. Sam snatched him up to take him out of the theatre, but Paolo didn't want to leave. In under a minute, he was laughing again with the other children.

Although it was too dark to read expressions, I imagined disbelief and accusation on every face turned toward me, including Sam's. I couldn't blame them. I had my child on my lap, under my protection, and had allowed him to fall off, incurring loud, significant and painful damage to his head. What was my defense, he wiggled? I misconstrued a wiggle! My inner voice criticized me mercilessly into a total crisis of confidence. If I can't even keep my son uninjured at a puppet show, what qualifies me to have a child, much less two? Like a complete goon, I sat there empty-lapped, full-bellied and cried, because after four years I can still be so incompetent.

My overreaction was obviously caused by the stupid moodswings of incubation. Still, it's a hazard of motherhood that we swallow our children's misfortunes as small, bitter pebbles of guilt that weigh in our stomachs like lead. They become the proverbial pea under all those fluffy mattresses of everything we've done right. You know you're a true princess (and a true mother) when, resting on cushions stacked to the ceiling, that pea is all you can feel.

By the end of the show, my self-hatred was waning. Pretzel watched his star twinkle in the night sky, proving what I already knew. Even the best star keeper can drop her star. You just have to pick it back up and keep climbing; it's a long way to the sky.

Happy Mothers' Day to all the True Princesses and Star Keepers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Five-Point Recap of Recent Events

1. Marriage on the Rocks. Sam forgot to tape the first leg of the Coppa Italia final between Roma and Inter Milan today. The FINAL between ROMA and Inter Milan. By the by, Roma won 6-2, and all of my favorite players scored. The game won't be replayed, and there probably won't be that many goals in one game for another one hundred years. Would have been nice to see.

2. Sweetness. Saturday morning as I buckled Paolo into his booster seat post-Farmers' Market, he told me I'm his friend, his best friend. He loves me, and we're going to be friends FOREVER. The only response I've ever gotten to telling Paolo I love him is a calm, considered "I don't love you, Mama." He has professed love for other things like cheese and swings, but not for me. Although I know he adores me, the spoken words are golden, and they will drown out every hurtful thing he says to me in his teen years when I become a clingy idiot out to ruin his life.

3. The Pregnancy Stupids. Place empty coffee pot under drip. Pull out filter holder. Throw out old grounds. Put in new filter. Open coffee creamer. Pour into filter. Watch as cream flows through onto the counter and floor. Do this in front of a co-worker.

4. What Child is This? Paolo had his annual checkup on Monday, accompanied by both parents so that one could muffle the screams while the other one righted all the furniture. Imagine our surprise when our boy turned into Prince Charming instead of his usual incarnation as a Viet Nam vet in the throes of a village-burning flashback. Several times during the exam he announced proudly, "I'm not scared at all and I'm not crying." We were finally able to have an EKG done to find out if he inherited his dad's heart condition, and I'm so happy to say his heart is just fine. Like I didn't already know that.

5. Disconcerting. I walked into the breakroom, where the lunch topic immediately switched to an historical analysis of my belly growth by a three-member panel. I escaped as quickly as politeness allowed, and as I walked away, said panel commented, "See, you can't even tell she's pregnant from behind." Has the hallway always been this long? It's one thing to think people are staring at your backside. It's another thing entirely to know they are.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

On Being Round and Objectified

Now I know how big-bosomed women feel. People walk past me, even greet me, without once lifting their gaze above my waistline. During conversation, they sneak glances with a knowing smirk.

Hey, Bozo! My eyes are up here.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Maternity Fashion in Action

Here are a few looks I will NOT be rocking at the wedding.




Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Nice Recovery

I walked downstairs this morning wearing a dark purple stretchy long-sleeved T-shirt. Sam looked over at me and a huge grin broke out on his face. "Aw, look at you, you look like an eggplant! Let me see your profile. Yep! You are a super-cute eggplant." I glared at him, lost for words. "What?" he asked. More glaring. "Hel-loooo. I said a super-cute eggplant."

Monday, April 30, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 4/26/07 and 4/27/07

9:23 a.m. A woman at 3100 Old Missouri Road, Elkins, reported a neighbor stole cattle and other property.
2:27 p.m. A man on Arkansas 264, Healing Springs, reported two asphalt rollers stolen.
Well, they couldn't have gone far…or fast.

1:36 p.m. A woman on North College Avenue reported a cook threatened her, saying he had a big shiny gun to stick down her throat.
Couldn't you just spit on my burger?

2:48 p.m. A woman on Southeast Falcon Lane reported two sisters throwing dishes at each other.
I’m never babysitting here again.

4:30 p.m. A caller in Winslow reported a drunken male acquaintance hit him with a truck door.
Was it attached to a truck?

4:49 p.m. A woman at Hobby Lobby, 5244 W. Sunset Ave., reported a male acquaintance ramming her vehicle with his.
I can’t believe you bought the last mauve crackle spray paint, you bitch!

7:54 p.m. A woman at 14918 Crawford Point Road reported she believes a UPS driver stole her dog.
Just sign the card for re-delivery.

11:46 p.m. A man on West Maple Avenue reported being shot in the eye by his wife.
Stop looking at me like that.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Any Mammal Can Do It

It's been a quiet week hereabouts, which is just the way I like it. Sam took Paolo to get measured for a tux for an upcoming wedding, which is insignificant except for the fact that, while I wasn't looking, Paolo shot up to 41 inches tall. Huh. It does grow.

So, yeah, Paolo has been requested by his future aunt to be a ringbearer in her wedding. It's no secret that neither his father nor I are thrilled by the idea. You see, we harbor no illusions about our offspring. When the idea was first proposed to Sam by the bride-to-be, he replied, "He's going to ruin your wedding." My response was far more diplomatic, "You'd better have a backup plan." The chances of our kid walking down the aisle are about as good as the sun not coming up tomorrow. Sure, it could happen, but every scrap of historical data tends to indicate otherwise.

Which MEANS I'm going to have to walk with (drag) him to deliver the rings. Which MEANS I need to be looking good. Which MEANS I have to find a maternity dress that doesn't suck. Good freaking luck to me. Oh I could easily rant about the horrors of maternity clothes, the tents, the bows, the belly pouch, gahhh!! True, the clothes are improving, and it is much less painful for women WHO ARE NOT A SIZE 2 to purchase them. However, what does one do when a Small is too big, when the sizes start at 8? One moans about it on one's blog is what.

Apologies. No one wants to hear about pregnancy except other pregnant women...excluding me. Even I don't want to hear about it. People ask me how I'm feeling (instead of how I'm doing) and it still takes me a few seconds to figure out why they're asking. I guess I don't get the fascination. You swell up and then you have a baby. It's just gestation. Go ahead, say it. You won't be the first. Pregnancy is wasted on me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Not so much with the fillings

First the good news: Paolo had a fantastic Easter and birthday, due in large part to my fabulousness and star parenting. I'm still a little high from the first successful birthday party I've ever thrown for my boy that included real, live other children. The two-week-long extravaganza of colored eggs, candy, family visitors, presents, and more candy wrapped up just in time for Paolo's dreaded dentist appointment yesterday.

I know some people hate going to the dentist, and that's cute and all, but I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that Paolo could be flayed alive and not react more violently than he does in a dentist's chair. He had an appointment yesterday to get three fillings. I won't go into why he has cavities. It's a long story with competing theories and, let's face it, the Internet is not big enough to contain my guilt.

Sam and Paolo arrived at the dentist's office at 8:00 A.M. sharp, as instructed, so that Paolo could down his multiple sedatives. Only they appeared to have no effect. One hour later, the boys were ushered back to begin the procedure, and Paolo went completely apeshit. The dental assistant tried to gas him to calm him down, but the gas had no effect either. Sam had to restrain him just to keep him in the chair, then pry his mouth open so the dentist could at least LOOK at the state of the cavities. Filling them was out of the question, as you can't put a drill into a writhing wolverine's mouth without doing serious damage.

The dentist explained that Paolo would have to see an oral surgeon who could knock him completely out because his pediatric practice doesn't have that capability and, clearly, the most his office can do is not enough in our...situation. Paolo, who had not stopped screaming since the door to the waiting room had opened, sat up and vomited the useless narcotics all over himself, the chair, the floor, and his father. Sam picked him up and carried him out of the office, apologizing to everyone he laid eyes on. He stripped Paolo down to his underwear for the car ride home, and he threw up again on the way. The End. In case we promised you a phone call to report on the visit, and you didn't get one, this is why.

So why wasn't I there? Because I make it worse, to my eternal shame. When Paolo cries like that, with terror, I go to pieces. I used to be so damn tough, but that kid's cries make my bones melt. Besides, I think Sam had enough mortification to deal with yesterday without having to carry us both out of the dentist's office.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What I'm Reading: Cormac McCarthy

My intellectual husband suggested I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and I did just to prove that I can take his advice. You may have heard stirrings in the literary community about this book: it has already been shortlisted for book-type prizes, declared a masterpiece, and hallelujah! Oprah has selected it as her newest book club read.

I don't get it. The hullaballoo, that is. I'm fairly sure I understand the novel. The premise is simple: a man raises his son in a post-apocalyptic world. How the world-as-we-know-it ended is irrelevant; it is merely the setting for this novel of a father's devotion to his young son.

I didn't dislike The Road entirely. McCarthy's spare prose is a revelation. It's not terribly innovative; others have a similar style: Hemingway comes first to mind. However, I tend to read authors who fill a swimming pool with words and write like they're meandering in slow laps. Compared with them, McCarthy is a cannonball dive. His prose is piercing and direct and no less meaningful for its brevity.

Still, I don't get the POINT of this dark, depressing novel, and I've read every review I can find to see where I'm going wrong. Why hasn't anyone said that the father and son were unlucky to survive? Their every moment is a waking nightmare, a hell on earth. McCarthy hits his readers over the head with how delicate and sensitive the child is, and how every atrocity he encounters shatters him emotionally. This child was born after the apocalypse; he has never known anything other than starving, freezing, and hiding from cannibalistic "bad guys." He has no memory of a compassionate humanity. For McCarthy to assume, and expect us to assume, that the child retains his innocence for the 5, 6, 7 years (the child's age is never revealed) of his life, which consists solely of grim survival, is nonsensical.

Some reviewers are deeply moved by the care and love the father exhibits for his son. This theme did not strike me as extraodinary, but I blame this failure on my personal experience. I have the good fortune to witness this kind of devotion every day. One critic gushes over a scene in the novel where the father and son have a brief reprieve in a bomb shelter and the father gives his son a haircut. I was flabbergasted by his amazement at this simple gesture and imagined my son and how his father would tend to him in such horrible circumstances. A haircut? Oh, this and so much more.

My third and most controversial point (aren't you glad you stayed with me?) is that I don't think the father and son should be on this road at all. The boy's mother, the man's wife, concluded years ago that suicide was their best option. In a flashback, she tells her husband that all they have to look forward to is being murdered, raped, and eaten, in no particular order. She cannot face that hopeless existence for herself or her family, and she kills herself. Tragically, she does not manage to convince her husband, who carries on with his son in a state of perpetual fear and misery. Try as I might, I can find no understanding for why the father chooses this shadow of a life for himself and his son.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Sweet or Awesome, never both

Most children Paolo's age have figured out that there are two genders. If you were to ask a 4-year-old what makes a boy different from a girl, he or she would probably reference a difference in...equipment. At least that's what I assume. I'm not about to ask a 4-year-old that particular question, or any question at all if I can help it. It's not that I can't take the answer; I can't stand having to repeat the question at ever-increasing volume until I get the kid's attention just so I can ASK THE QUESTION AGAIN.

Thankfully, Paolo presented me with his understanding of the difference in sexes without my having to inquire. Girls are sweet and boys are awesome. That's it. That's the difference. While "sweet" is a little pink and ruffly for my taste, it's not like he's saying little girls stink or are in some way inferior to boys. Girls just have their own thing going on, they're over there in the sweet club baking cupcakes. Since I can't put my finger on exactly what it is that disturbs me about these classifications, I have to let them go. Besides, it makes for some good anecdotes. Once I called Paolo sweetheart and had to endure a lecture on his awesomeness. Also, there are colorful stick figures painted on the set of glass doors at Paolo's school, a girl on one and a boy on the other, and Paolo will only go through the awesome door. Amusing, yes? Well, it makes me smile. I figure if your kid doesn't put a smile on your face as least as often as he puts a frown on your face, your kid probably sucks. (On second thought: More likely, you're not paying attention. Hang up and parent.)

I asked Sam the other night if he knew about the sweet/awesome thing. He replied that he did, and he sounded so familiar with the concept that I then asked if he had taught it to Paolo. Without missing a beat, or even looking up from the paper, he answered, "Oh no, I would never say girls are sweet."

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Saturday in the Park

Some people put their foot in their mouths from time to time. I prefer to insert my whole body into the gaping maw of humiliation. Like this past Saturday, for instance. After a difficult day with Paolo, who refused to take a nap despite my desperate pleas that I was two seconds away from becoming comatose and hated to leave him unattended, I finally gave up on naptime (oh, sweet fluffy unconsciousness, I wished to hold you and pet you and snuggle with you, but my son is the devil) and hauled Paolo to the park.

As we wandered over to the playground, I recognized a very distinctive car parked there that belongs to one of Paolo's classmate's mothers. While that tidbit registered, I recalled in a blinding flash the birthday party invitation that I had thrown away a couple weeks ago...for today...at this park. My head swiveled slowly to the gazebo, the preferred location of kiddie parties, and took in the balloons, the swarm of children, the Birthday Party. And just in case I hadn't fully swallowed the enormity of my screw-up, several children called out, "Paolo's here!"

I had walked into the tail-end of a party I had no intention of attending.

Yeah, I couldn't even play it off like we meant to come and just didn't bring a present. The party was over. Some children were going home while others wandered over to the playground. I led Paolo over to the swings, limply waving at children and parents I recognized, and prayed for some sort of deliverance from this obscene situation. Then the birthday boy himself came over and hopped onto the swing next to Paolo's. I couldn't make this stuff up. Birthday Boy's mother and I pushed our respective offspring while they carried on a comfortable, friendly conversation. After several minutes, she looked at me, her forehead creased in confusion, "Did you come for the party?"

"Um, no. I, uh, didn't know about it," I lied badly, "We're just here by pure coincidence." She seemed relieved, "Okay, I was afraid you'd come for the party and missed it all." Then she looked confused again, "I really thought I put an invitation in everyone's folder."

THINK. FAST.

"Sometimes my husband picks Paolo up from school, and the paperwork doesn't always make it home." Birthday Boy's mother laughed and said she totally understood; her husband is the same way.

So, are you in awe of my ability to recover from this social atrocity? Heaven knows I should be able to by now. This kind of crap happens to me ALL THE TIME.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Why I hate you, Romance-Novel-Cover Fabio

"Hey, Sam?"

"Mm-hmm?"

"Did you read that article about Fabio Capello, the tactical genius who coached our favorite Italian club, Roma, to a championship a few years ago? Well, apparently, he's very successful at Real Madrid, too, and they're saying he's one of the best coaches in the world right now."

"Yep."

"Also, you know Fabio Cannavaro, the defender I have followed and worshipped for years, from his humble beginnings at Parma to serving as captain of the national team, which he led to its fourth World Cup victory last year? Dear Canna, who, if I had to choose, I would name as my absolute favorite Italian player? You'll remember he also won the Golden Ball and the FIFA World Player of the Year for his performance in the World Cup."

"Uh-huh."

"And let's not forget Fabio Grosso, who also put in an outstanding performance at the World Cup. Not only was he a solid and creative force in midfield throughout the tournament, it was the foul he suffered against Australia that Totti converted to give Italy the win, and he scored a goal against Germany in the dying minutes of the game, putting Italy through to the final. And finally, it was Grosso who scored the fifth and final penalty kick that won the game against France. You could almost call him the face of victory."

"Yeah, he's good."

[Deep breath] "So, if we have a boy, can we name him Fabio?"

"No."

Damn you, Romance-Novel-Cover Fabio, for ruining a perfectly lovely name. By the way, when you did that promotional roller coaster ride and killed a goose with your face, I totally laughed at you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 3/22/07

7: 52 a. m. A man on Raedels Avenue reported his girlfriend had a knife and was scaring his children with it.
I'm just making breakfast for the kids. How else do you get the eggs open?

2: 21 p. m. A man at 13658 Rocky Dell Hollow Road, Gravette, reported chickens stolen.
Maybe they just done run off.

4: 02 p. m. A woman at 2605 N. Villa Blvd. reported a woman trying to steal her shed and threatening her.
Those crazy meth-heads will steal anything that isn't a semi-permanent structure in the backyard. Wait.

4: 03 p. m. A woman on East Central Avenue reported being assaulted by her boyfriend and his mother.
That slut is really, really not good enough for her son.

5: 18 p. m. A man at 3601 W. Hemlock St. reported two tools, a microcassette and tobacco stolen from his vehicle.
Thou shalt not take another man's Skoal. It is written.

March 23, 4: 05 a. m. A man at Holiday Inn, 1500 S. 48 th St., reported an intoxicated man in the office had no pants on, didn’t know where his pants were and had no I. D. on him.
That's typically kept in a wallet, right?

Monday, Monday

I don't know why Mondays are so hard, why it is so far outside the realm of possible to get out the door and on the road at a reasonable time. This morning boy and I were in the car ready to go (running about 10 minutes behind, which isn't bad for a Monday) when he sweetly and shyly requested orange juice of his father who had just strapped him in. Now this ticked me off because we had offered to make him a to-go cup of juice BEFORE WE CAME DOWN TO THE GARAGE, but he had declined. Sam sprinted up the stairs and back down with the vital juice.

About two blocks from home, I glanced around the car thinking that I was traveling light for a Monday when it hit me - Paolo's naptime bedding! Since the daycare had just sent home a reminder about that bedding being a state requirement, and if we send our child without it, said child will have a scarlet F for Forgetter pinned to his chest and be forced to wash all of the lunch dishes while his compatriots sleep, I circled back around to our house. I left Paolo in the car parked in front of the house and ran in and grabbed his bedding. As I tossed it in the passenger seat, Paolo whispered, "Mama, Mama, what about my pillow?" This would be the pillow that he didn't want last week, the pillow that is upstairs in the bedroom. Right. I'll be right back. I guess the third time I slammed the front door alerted Sam to my presence, and he came tearing down the stairs in combat mode to confront the intruder. I panted, "Just me. Getting pillow," as I raced up the stairs. Sam walked outside to the car, and I thought, Oh good, he'll make sure no one takes Paolo. Looking back, I'm not sure why that was such a concern. Hmmm.

I grabbed the pillow from the bedroom, flew back down the stairs, and snatched Paolo's rainjacket on the way out the front door because it was sprinkling. Sam had just made it to the car. "Hey, it's raining," he observed. I wordlessly held up the rainjacket - parent of the year. Sam turned to Paolo and said, "Do you want your Spiderman umbrella?" My whole body slumped. "Where is it?," he asked me. "Upstairs in the bathroom." "I'll get it." Oh yes, you will.

When Sam returned with the umbrella, he poked his head in the car and suggested that maybe we should just hang out for a few minutes while he got dressed so he could drop me at work and take Paolo to school. I happily accepted. Paolo and I disembarked, and he walked around in the drizzle with his new umbrella while I ate my to-go breakfast of dry Corn Chex in a baggie. And just think, we're adding another joker to this house of cards. We must be out of our minds. I predict our Monday mornings will be up and running by Tuesday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

This Little Pig

Want to know what my clever and interesting son is up to? He is chock-full of innovative ideas and natural curiosity. (Aside: where the hell did that word come from? Is anything ever chock-empty? Half-chocked? What is chock?)

First up, Paolo is in a licking phase. He'll lean in close and you're thinking, Bring on the super-snuggle and slap down a side of sweet lovin', and he licks you. That's more than a little jarring. Even weirder is he licks his own hands and fingers, especially if he's feeling anxious. Once banned from licking parents and himself, he'll apply the saliva to clothing or furniture. Maybe he's trying to tell me something, like he'd appreciate a lollipop every now and then?

I'm in the middle of an attempt to listen to my entire music collection in alphabetical order. I'm still on letter B, so maybe "middle" isn't the right word. Paolo, opinionated as ever, always lets me know what he thinks of the selection. He prefers "boy songs" to "girl songs," boy songs being those sung by a boy or boys, and inferior girl songs are sung by females who are neglecting their ironing and pie-baking duties, for shame. Obviously I haven't cleansed him of his chauvinistic tendencies, mainly because his PIG FATHER ISN'T HELPING.

Speaking of boys, not being one, I feel I should be relieved of the duty of having to explain why there is a hole in the front of boy underwear. And yet, I found myself in just that position recently. Paolo, wearing only a pair of blue boxer-briefs--and let me tell you there is nothing heart-meltingly cuter in the world--noticed an opening in the front of his drawers and proceeded to explore it. He stuck his arm in up to the elbow, which requires no small amount of flexibility, and asked me what the hole was for. I gave him an accurate explanation, and he just stared at me in disbelief, as if to say, "What do you take me for, some kind of girl? I should have known better than to ask a non-boy." Then he patted me on the head and sent me back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What I'm Reading: Lee Smith

Occasionally people ask me what I'm reading because they generously attribute me with good taste in literature. Thank you, people, and here's a recommendation. I just finished On Agate Hill by Lee Smith. This was the third novel I've read by Ms. Smith, and I highly recommend her as an author. Smith was an author that I discovered on my own, and it's always such a nice surprise to be blown away by a novel when you have no expectations from publisher's hype, word-of-mouth, Oprah, or bestseller lists. The last time that happened for me was when I stumbled across Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale.

This time my happy discovery was Fair and Tender Ladies (1989) by Lee Smith. I was looking for a novel set in the Appalachians because I was missing my grandmother. She was a spirited, sad, funny firecracker, born and raised in the Eastern tip of Tennessee, and her family's roots in that area are centuries old. I was delighted to recognize little pieces of my grandmother in the main character: a point of view or turn of phrase, her disappointments, rebellions, her restlessness, and her deep love for the beauty of the Appalachian mountains.

Ladies is a lifetime of letters from its heroine, Ivy Rowe, to her family and friends. (That makes it an epistolary novel, if you're into learning new words or checking my credentials.) The writing, all in Ivy's semi-educated voice, is so smooth you don't even notice your eyes are translating text; you hear this novel more than read it. The story is moving, surprising and fulfilling, and Ivy is a character you will not soon forget. The last, broken sentence of the novel echoed in my head for days. I've also read and enjoyed Oral History and now On Agate Hill, but for me Fair and Tender Ladies is her best. Give one a try.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report 3/9/07

Our local newspaper prints a Crime Report in each edition that consists not only of arrests and court appearances, but also police calls. Oh, how I love the redneck police calls, so trashy and delicious. The Crime Report is my favorite part of the paper, right up there with the baby names (Des'Tinee RaeAwnah, born to Phil and Lisa Brown) and marriage licenses (Bobby Wayne Jarvis, 38 and Loretta Jane Fink, 16 - that's legal as long as she's pregnant).

Enjoy these selections from last Friday and wonder along with me why COPS hasn't filmed here yet:

9: 57 a. m. A man at Auto Connections of NWA, 1805 S. Pleasant St., reported a large freezer, buckets of paint and other items placed in front of the business door so he couldn’t get in this morning.

10: 28 a. m. A man with the power company at 100 W. Oaklawn reported an elderly man threatened to get his Smith and Wesson if they trimmed a tree.

4: 18 p. m. A man on Henryetta Street. reported his wife’s vehicle window broken out sometime after he had to pepper-spray a Chihuahua that was trying to bite him.

11: 38 p. m. A caller at 2608 Stagecoach Drive reported a man pushed another man off the porch.

This being Arkansas, it is perfectly safe to assume that at least three of these four calls were made by or about men who were not wearing shirts.