Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Naughty List


1. Home room mom who checked up on me the day of the class holiday party. It’s not that I mind her making sure I remembered to pick up the cookies. I mind her asking what kind of cookies I got, and then bringing two bags of cookies in case my cookies sucked. Also dressing as a hooker to attend the party. Really? Really with the fake tan, tight jeans, cleavage and big hair at the kindergarten party? MILF it out, girlfriend.

2. People who give cash to children rather than a present. I have no problem slipping a twenty to those hard-to-buy-for teenagers, but neither the one-year-old nor the five-year-old have a firm grasp on currency just yet.

3. Banana Republic Credit. I paid these a-holes in October, and they have yet to apply the payment to the credit card account. They took the money, mind you, it left my bank. They “can’t find the payment,” and thus keep adding late fees, finance charges, de-activating the card, and robo-calling us daily.

4. Me. I complained for months about a co-worker of mine for being an annoying hypochondriac until she found out all the pain she’d been suffering from was due to cancer. That’s right, cancer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report, December 3, 2008

9: 53 a.m. A caller at George’s Guard Shack, 1300 Kansas St., reported a theft.

Note to self: do not call George’s for security needs.

10:41 a.m. A caller with Urban Bleu Salon, 113 W. Elm St., reported graffiti.

Oh, the person that crossed out eu and wrote ue? That was me. I was correcting your pretentiousness.

11:55 a.m. A woman at Springdale Animal Services, 321 E. Randall Wobbe Lane reported a man stealing a dog pushed an employee to get out of the building.

I went to their website to find out why someone would steal a free dog. There’s actually a $40 adoption fee, so question answered. However, I find it curious that the pictures of the animals seeking adoption are all taken from outside their cages. I don’t care how cute the little furball is; it looks like it’s behind bars. Three weeks old and already doing time; that’s a badass kitten.

1:01 p.m. A man at 4181 N. Valley Lake Drive reported a screen torn off and plants disturbed.

Officer, arrest that wind.

3:51 p.m. A man at 809 S.E. G St. reported a man attempting to break into the house claimed to be part of an organization that took over the house.

This is what happens when you ignore those foreclosure notices.

8:05 p.m. A woman at 906 N.W. Princeton Square reported a woman entered her house and said she was at the wrong house.

It’s a hazard of living in a cookie-cutter housing development. The only difference in houses is the paint color, and Whisper of Buttermilk and Crème Fantasia look the same in the dark.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Post Postscript

Me: How did Paolo’s drop-off go today? Did you look for the missing library book?

Sam: I didn’t get a chance to talk to his teacher about the book because she had something to say to me. Apparently, yesterday at lunch Paolo would not sit down and stop shouting until they threatened to call his dad.

Me: Really? Our Paolo?

Sam: Yeah. So after I gave Paolo a talking-to while the teacher watched, I didn’t feel like bringing up the library book.

Me: Wow. I wonder why they threatened to call you. Why wouldn’t they say they were going to call me?

Sam: Because I’m the parent that walks him all the way to the classroom. You just drop him off at the front door like a stray dog.

Thursday OverThink #3, courtesy of SoftSoap

As of Monday, there is a new hand soap in the bathroom at work: Softsoap Black Raspberry and Vanilla. Hardly. It smells like cheap perfume on a decaying corpse. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except the smell does not wash off. Damn you, Softsoap, clean my hands, do not scent them for hours and hours, especially with the fragrance of rot. Every time I brush back my hair or scratch my nose, I am accosted with perfumed death.

Also, it makes my hands cold as ice, numb to the wrist. What is it, mentholated? It is twenty-nine degrees outside and I’m washing my hands in liquid nitrogen. Christ Jesus, I can smell my frozen hands from the keyboard as I type. Kudos to the development team who came up with a product that turns my hands into a morgue. Next trip to the bathroom, I’m considering just rinsing my hands really well. Better yet, I will not drink anything all day long.

Softsoap, you have overthought hand washing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Postscript

Sam: I read your post this morning. That’s some heavy stuff.

Me: Yeah, it really came out of left field. Do you think I did the right thing?

Sam: No, of course not. The boy is five years old. You can’t just drop him off at the front door. Jesus, he’s in Kindergarten, not junior high.

Me: Oh, hell. I was trying not to hover. It’s not like I abandoned him in the parking lot; he only had to walk down the hallway.

Sam: Yeah, well, he left his take-home folder in his backpack instead of returning it to his teacher and his library book is missing. Just because he asks for something doesn’t mean he’s ready for it.

Me: Well, when you put it that way…

Sam: No more of this front door business.

Me: Alrighty then. So much for my moment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I guess a hug is out of the question.

This morning in the car, Paolo asked to walk to school by himself. He explained that he had seen other kids walking by themselves and wanted to do it himself, too. After all, he is in Kindergarten. But those are bigger kids walking without their parents, I protested. Not true, he replied. He has seen his good friend Lily on her own, and she’s in his class. I took a few deep breaths while his request for independence shaved little pieces off my heart. “How about I walk you to the front door, and you walk all the way to your classroom by yourself?” He agreed we had a deal.

As I escorted him to the building, I reminded him to hang up his coat and backpack and stow his lunchbox once he got to his room. He silently let me ramble on, for once not snapping that he KNOWS. It’s not that I thought for a moment he might get lost or forget any step of the routine he’s been performing since August. It’s just that I wanted to do it with him, no, FOR him. I like to see him seated, settled, safe before I walk away from him. Then I realized, those small gestures of mine, I’ve been making them for me. But letting go, this is what I’m doing for him.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday OverThink #2, courtesy of The City of Fayetteville


Each year about this time, Fayetteville's downtown square is festooned with lights: white lights, colored lights, winding up tree trunks, blanketing bushes, blinking, glowing, pretty, pretty lights. The energy-wasting display is completely over the top, and every year the City Council threatens to discontinue the popular Lights of the Ozarks. And every year, Fayetteville citizens scream, "Oh no you don't!"

How else would we know that Christmas is coming if we didn't attend the parade with our children and sigh in awe when the switch is flipped and all 450,000 lights turn on? What would replace the smells of hot cocoa, kettle corn and cotton candy that fortunately mask the smells of the pony and camel rides? Despite frigid temperatures, almost every night there are bands and choirs providing live holiday music. There is a dedicated lane for horse-drawn carriages, and I've heard that this year there will be reindeer. I totally just got goosebumps.

City workers spent over 2,000 hours stringing up the lights that will be lit every night through December 31. The theme of this year’s parade is “Rocking in a Green Wonderland.” Ah, the irony. City of Fayetteville, you have overthought municipal holiday decor. And I love you for it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank heaven for little boys.

Thanksgiving is nigh, and I am thankful that I don’t have to go anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, we had a fabulous time in Florida last week. So fabulous in fact that Paolo is still pissed off to be back home where he asks on a near-daily basis for the location of the nearest Arkansas beach. He is not impressed that we have mountains instead. I almost won him over with snow, but he pointed out that his snow angels suck and got depressed again.

The era of toilet humor is upon us. Want to know what’s funnier than calling for your mom and, when she looks, bending over and pointing your butt at her? Nothing. And it doesn’t lose comedic value with repetition either. Last night Paolo was perched on the potty working out a dinner that had disagreed with him, when he yelled out, “Help! My butt is throwing up.” I’m not sure if that’s funny or gross. It makes me gag and laugh at the same time.

Luca has begun talking, pointing, and generally getting a whole lot better at communicating. The brain-melting scream is still around, but it is used much less often. It’s unsettling in that we have no experience with a happy child. We’re used to Paolo, who is thrown into a funk by the sun rising, so we’re a little unsure what to do with Luca and find ourselves shaking our heads gravely a good deal. Do you remember the part in Addams Family Values when the mini-Gomez baby woke up with bright yellow curly hair and rosy cheeks, and the parents were deeply confused? That’s us. He laughs for no reason at all. He beckons us to chase him and play telephone with a smile so bright it doesn’t seem human. His favorite activity, hands down, is sitting in things. In short, Luca is delightful. I’m starting to think he’s adopted.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday OverThink #1, courtesy of Paolo's Elementary School


The perpetrator of the very first Thursday OverThink is not me, which is odd because I felt like I was in the running. We’re flying down to Florida next week to visit my family, which means Paolo will miss four days of school. I mentioned his impending absence to his teacher, who told me it wasn’t a big deal because he’s doing really well, but I would need to send a note to the office. Remember those notes your mom scribbled on the back of an envelope for you to take to school on the day AFTER your absence? This is how I roll:

To Whom It May Concern:
Please excuse Paolo’s absence from school Monday, November 17 through Thursday, November 21. We are traveling to Florida to visit family. I have already spoken with Ms. C. about take-home assignments and lessons to review with Paolo during his absence. Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns.
Best regards,
Paolo’s Excruciatingly Proper Mother
Imagine my surprise when I was informed that, because the absence was greater than three days, I had to fill out a special form for the principal to review. The form is printed on legal-size paper, stating the regulations governing excused vs. unexcused absences from school, and requiring inordinate amounts of information from me. For example, if the absence is for a family trip, state with detail the educational opportunities that will be afforded to your child. Attach additional pages if necessary. I kid you not.

I considered picking one of the established excused absence reasons, and just lying, but I’m too honest and too scared of getting caught. So now I wait to see if the principal decides to excuse the absence. I’m not confident of my chances, considering the form was supposed to have been submitted two weeks ago. Why is it is such a big deal to have the four days excused? Because a child who has four unexcused absences in a semester will not receive credit for the semester.

Along with the stress of getting the family packed up and flying halfway across the country with two children, I am now sweating whether my son will flunk out of kindergarten. Elementary School, lighten up. You have overthought your attendance policy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rejoicing from a Red State


Sometimes I forget that I live in Arkansas, but election years always remind me. I wish I could say, like the proud voters in Florida and Ohio, that my state flipped for Obama, that my red state turned blue. It's especially hard on me having moved here from California, where I could always count on my neighbors to do the right thing (well, almost always).

The voters of the state of Arkansas overwhelmingly voted McCain. They also voted to ban unmarried couples from being foster or adoptive parents, a thinly veiled assault on gay couples that ultimately hurts only children in need. Nice one, Arkansas.

I am elated at the election of Barack Obama for so many reasons, a big one being that we all wondered if our country was still, let's face it, too racist to elect a black president. I believe that people who voted for Obama did so because of what was inside the man, not the color of the skin that encased it. I also believe there were people who voted against Obama solely for the reverse, but finally and definitively, those people were drowned out by the wave of goodwill and hope inspired by our president-elect.

I was deeply moved by the emotion of The View's Sherri Shepherd as she related telling her son that he now had "no limitations" on what he could do or who he could become. All my life I have argued, out of hope rather than certitude, that racism in America was shrinking steadily, and that soon it would be powerless to squash the dreams or halt the achievements of great Americans of every color. Seeing the proof of it standing at the podium in Grant Park on Tuesday night was soul-satisfying.

It has been a very long time since I have felt proud of this country, but that changed Tuesday night when we as a nation told our African-American children to dream as big as they want. But, please, let us remember that the fight for equality is not over, not until we can give that happy pronouncement to our daughters.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report, October 30 - November 2, 2008

Nov. 1, 7:57 a.m. A woman on West Van Gogh Place reported a fight.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an ear.

Nov. 2, 12:11 a.m. A man on White Street, West Fork, reported his ex-wife broke into his home and tried to beat up his mother.
The divorce is becoming acrimonious when your spouse hates you so much she attacks the person responsible for giving you life.

Shocking Examples of Pumpkin Crime

Oct. 31, 6:36 a.m. A woman at 1306 Rebecca Lane reported someone threw a pumpkin through the back windshield of a car.
Nov. 1, 7:44 a.m. A man at 1736 W. Osage Bend reported someone knocked over his mailbox with a pumpkin.
Nov. 1, 7:56 a.m. A man at 60 S. 20th St. reported someone “molested his mailbox with a pumpkin.”

Refusing All Personal Responsibility

Oct. 30, 6:34 a.m. A woman at 3103 Levi Lane reported someone broke into her residence and ate candy while she was sleeping.
She might want to reconsider the prescription sleeping pills and whiskey chaser.

Oct. 31, 8: 39 a.m. A caller on South Razorback Road reported a car damaged a tree.
I bet if I asked the driver, he would say it was the other way around.

Nov. 1, 12: 45 p.m. A man at 1306 S.E. C St. reported money in an online gaming account stolen.
Just say no to online poker.

Election Day

What follows is an actual conversation I had with Paolo this morning walking to school, as closely as I can remember it. I thought it would be hard to explain a presidential election and my choice of candidate in a way that a kindergartner could understand. Turns out it was really easy.

Paolo, remember how yesterday you got to vote at school? Today, Daddy and I get to vote, and we’re really excited.

Mama, are you going to vote Farack Obama? You have to vote for him because he has a cool name.

Yes, we are going to vote for Barack Obama, but we like him the best because he’s really nice and he has better ideas than McCain.

Is McCain a bad guy?

No, he’s a good guy, too, but he only wants to help his friends, and Obama wants to help everybody.

Is McCain mean?

Not really, but he told people that Obama was a scary guy and said things about him that aren’t true.

So McCain thinks Obama is a bad guy?

Actually, no, he knows Obama is a good guy. He just wants to be president so bad, he forgot his manners.

Okay, well don’t forget to vote Farack Obama so he can help everyone. And tell Daddy.

We won’t forget.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The kitchen can be a dirty place.

I was listening to a bit with Nigella Lawson on NPR's Morning Edition. Nigella talked through several Fall recipes that, apparently, make her feel like a kitten has curled up in her stomach for a nap or some such nonsense. I admit, I’m not a fan. Has anyone else noticed that it is impossible to replicate her dishes because she provides no concrete instruction? For instance, "Chop the chocolate with a mezzaluna...until you have rubbly shards." Also, her recipes are guaranteed to include ingredients that do not exist in this country. Once you have your rubbly shards, pile on 2 meringue nests from a packet and sweetened chestnut puree or spread, such as Clement Faugier. Right. I'll just pop down the corner shop and get some from the guv'nor.

NPR's Steve Inskeep ended the feature by saying that every man in the studio had been listening intently to Nigella throughout the piece. You could hear in Steve's husky voice that Nigella's closing remark about a creamy dessert - "And then, as my brother would say, I apply it to my face" - in her trademark sultry English accent, had achieved its desired effect. The female co-host, Renee Montagne, jumped in immediately to say that all the women in the studio had been listening intently, too, because women appreciate Nigella just as much as men. That's sweet, Renee, but completely inaccurate.

Nigella is supposed to seduce men with her little sex-kitten act. All of the women on Food Network are groomed to make kitchen porn. First, the uniform of a bright V-neck top and dark-colored pants to emphasize the cleavage and de-emphasize the posterior. If you can ever tear your eyes off of Nigella’s mouth, baby got back. Staying tuned throughout the flirtatious cooking sequence is rewarded by the most overtly sexual moment of every female-hosted cooking show: the money shot, when the host takes a huge bite of her delicious creation and her eyes roll back in her head. "Ohhhhhhh, it’s good, mmm, so rich and creamy. Ahhh, I can't get enough. OOOOh, it tastes even better right off my fingers. Oh, yes, Yes, YES, mmmm. Okay, I’ll see you next time on Licking Lucy’s Bowl!"

Have you ever seen a male host perform a money shot? I think not. If they taste the food at all, and usually they hand it to someone else to eat, it’s a quick, small bite and a terse, “That’s good.” And I’m not complaining, no sir. If I ever see Emeril or Mario Batali moaning in pleasure, smacking their buttery lips, I may have to gouge out my eyes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My stunning intellect is too powerful for his little mind.

Me: Remember what twelve looks like?
Paolo: One two. Hey, Mama, what is one two three?
Me: One hundred twenty-three
Paolo: Whoa! What about one two three four?
Me: One thousand two hundred and thirty-four.
Paolo: What about one two three four five six seven eight nine ten?
Me: Oh. Uh, hang on. This is hard to do in my head…placing the commas…okay. One billion, two hundred thirty-four million…no, wait. Twelve billion, three hundred forty-five million, six hundred seventy-eight thousand, nine hundred and ten.
Paolo: No, it’s not.
Me: Really? Let me think. Yes, it is.
Paolo: No, it's not.
Me: Then what is it?
Paolo: It's not what you said. What you said is crazy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Filling the tank for $30.00 never felt so bad.

Me: Did you see that gas dropped below $3.00 just in time for me to fill up? Pretty sweet.

Sam: I wish it would go up to $5.00 a gallon. Gas needs to be as expensive as it is in Europe so people will stop driving huge gas-guzzling cars.

Me: Well, yeah. I just meant…

Sam: And so cities will invest in pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and mass transit.

Me: Of course. It’s just a little Woo Hoooo, not even that big, more of a w’hoo.

Sam: Less urban sprawl! More infill!

Me: A wuh, at most.

Sam: Developing alternative energy sources has got to be a top priority, and it never will be as long as gas is considered affordable.

Me: Yes. All of that. I just thought for me, only me, it was kind of nice to pay a little less today. I drive a small car, you’re a bicycle commuter. We’re good people. Only now I feel like an asshole.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I must be green behind the ears, too.

I wasn't going to write any more about politics, but I’m just so disappointed and frustrated. Like Senator Obama, there are some things I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why we need character assassination to pick a president. Why can’t Americans just disagree on ideas, plans and policies? If you want to vote Republican, that’s fine with me, but have a valid reason. I won’t hate you for it. You may have different interests than mine. Vote Republican because you have a lot of money and don’t want to pay taxes on it. Vote Republican because you believe in small government and deregulation. Vote Republican because you don’t want your tax dollars to fund social programs.

Do not vote for McCain because he and his bulldog are telling you Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist. He is neither of those things, and you are a gullible fool if you don’t understand that. If you vote out of fear, if you vote out of hate, you are wasting your vote. In a democracy, your vote is your voice. What do you want to say?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The longest three minutes of her life

Someone I met at one of Paolo’s soccer games invited me to attend a meeting of an organization she’s involved with. Actually, it was the coach’s wife, who I had previously written off due to the alarming rise of her pants. Until she had the parents stand in two lines and form a tunnel for the kids to run through after the game, and they screamed with delight. What a fabulous idea! It was then I deduced that cinching ones pants high and tight forces more blood to the brain. So I accepted her invitation and went to the meeting. The next day I wrote to my friend, my FRIEND, Melissa, and mentioned the meeting, and this was her response:
So, what was it like? Did you think of glass eye balls all night while speaking in fragments because you're staring at the glass eye and you can't get out a coherent thought? You didn't do the JD Mind Wander, didn't you? No really, I am very proud of you. Look at you, all grown up and talking to strangers.
I am not a complete fool every time I step out in public, you know. I do have some people skills, and I can work a room without seeing glass eyes in every new face. Although, there was a woman in a dark blue suit with a flesh-colored camisole under the jacket. So flesh-colored, in fact, it was hard to tell where the scoop-necked shirt ended and her skin began. It was sort of mesmerizing, and as she talked on and on about stocks or traffic or something, my eyes kept drifting back down to her chest as if to solve the mystery.

WERDZ R HRD

This week’s theme on the home front is Communication. We have one child who has decided never to talk ever. Why use words when you can SCREAM? Luca is exhibiting either early genius or mild retardation; it could go either way. On one hand, he has bypassed the superfluity of language for a more direct cause-effect paradigm. One awful sound will get him anything he wants: attention, a drink, some food, a toy to play with, a door opened. On the other hand, maybe his skull is full of mud, and that sharp, piercing squeal is the best he can do. It really is the worst sound in the world. In all seriousness, it makes your blood run backwards. The way he chuckles post-scream while we peel ourselves off the ceiling makes me lean toward the “he’s doing this on purpose” explanation. Babies: they’re so hard to get a read on.

On the other end of the communication spectrum is our articulate Paolo, who talks so much he could do pull-ups with his tongue. Paolo is exploring written language, which is thrilling because it shuts him up occasionally. For several weeks now, Paolo has been writing and illustrating books. So far he has authored novellas featuring Sinbad, Superman, Transformers, and various other heroes and villains, and the theme is always the struggle between good and evil. He can’t actually read and write, but he thinks he can. He sounds out words and spells them the way they sound to him, usually without vowels. Hence, “bad guys are making evil plans” could become BAD GI R MK EVL PLS. Once he completes around 5-6 pages, he staples them together. If you think it’s hard to keep up with your kid’s artwork, imagine having to curate a library. It’s hard enough eliminating some finger-paintings. How do you throw out your kid’s books? That he MADE? Well, as the stacks on the table and the nightstand and the dresser prove, you can’t.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is how we impress clients in the South.

An executive at my office urgently rushed over to his secretary's desk and told her to purchase two Arkansas Razorback hog heads by tomorrow.

In case you are ignorant of this appalling redneck headgear, behold:
The exec stormed back to his office, instructing over his shoulder, "Charge it to client development." I suppose this isn't any worse than the bright orange hunting vests and mesh-back ballcaps (with our coporate logo) and boxes of ammunition (sadly, without logo) that are distributed at the annual "client development" hunt.

Still, it is moments like these that make me want to leave the state of Arkansas and never look back.

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Amendment Concerning Voting

On November 4, in addition to casting inexplicable ballots for McCain, qualified residents in the great state of Arkansas will vote on the following consitutional amendment:

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1
(REFERRED TO THE PEOPLE BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY)
(Popular Name)
AN AMENDMENT CONCERNING VOTING, QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS AND ELECTION OFFICERS, AND THE TIME OF HOLDING GENERAL ELECTIONS
(Ballot Title)

AMENDING VARIOUS PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING VOTING AND ELECTIONS; PROVIDING THAT ALL PERSONS MAY VOTE WHO ARE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES, RESIDENTS OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS, AT LEAST EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS OF AGE, AND LAWFULLY REGISTERED TO VOTE; TO REPEAL THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE RIGHT TO VOTE SHALL NOT BE MADE TO DEPEND ON ANY PREVIOUS REGISTRATION OF AN ELECTOR'S NAME; REPEALING ARTICLE 3, SECTION 5 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION PROVIDING THAT NO IDIOT OR INSANE PERSON SHALL BE ENTITLED TO THE PRIVILEGES OF AN ELECTOR; AND PERMITTING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ESTABLISH THE DATE AND TIME OF ELECTIONS AND THE QUALIFICATIONS OF ELECTION OFFICERS.

Am I reading this correctly, Arkansas General Assembly? You want to ALLOW idiots and insane people to be able to vote? I don’t know if you’ve noticed who is in the White House, but it appears to me they already can.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report, September 2008


Sept. 14, 1:32 p.m. A man at 13501 Arrow Lane, Garfield, reported his grandchildren stole his vehicle.

Can you blame them? Wheeeeee!

Sept. 10, 8:28 a.m. A woman on Southwest Calm Ridge Road reported her husband trying to force her into a vehicle and take her to Tulsa and he wouldn’t say why.

Maybe he’s taking you to see the Center of the Universe or the Golden Driller. Get in the car!

8:10 p.m. A man on Kings Drive, Bethel Heights, reported his ex-wife called and told him to call the police because she was fighting with her boyfriend.

This is exactly why they got divorced. She can’t do anything her damn self.

Sept. 9, 10:11 a.m. A woman at Gotcha Repossessions, 1401 Ingram St., reported items stolen from the lot.

Gotcha back.

12:15 p.m. A woman on South Willow Avenue reported her ex-boyfriend pushed her out of a vehicle, pulling her fingernail off, and put her 2-year-old son down in the middle of the street.

Yeah, yeah, he planted a toddler in the road, but let’s focus on what’s important here. Lee Press-On nails don’t just grow on trees.

For more Southern hijinks, check out Melissa's crime reports here and here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I also jumped up and motioned for a hand-ball foul. There are no referees.

Paolo is playing in the Fall soccer league this year, and it is both super-fun and excruciating. Paolo’s coach showed up to the first practice wearing sandals, his exposed feet as white as the ball. I lost count of the times Sam muttered, “I should have signed up to coach” when it got past four hundred. It turns out Coach Teva hadn’t signed up either; he got a call from the league because our team didn’t have a coach. Further validating his commitment, Coach Teva announced he would miss the first three games because his family was going out of town for a wedding. (For two weeks?)

Coach Teva appointed another father to be interim coach. Coach Sparky is a happy-go-lucky church dad who doesn’t know the first thing about soccer. A dear little man, enthusiasm for miles, with his pressed polo shirt tucked into pleated khaki shorts. I could gobble him up! He means well, but his advice to his players is along the lines of let’s kick the ball occasionally in the general direction of that net over there. Remember, this is the under-6 age group, fielding three players a side (no goalies) and switching them out every four minutes, and Coach Sparky is completely flabbergasted by what few rules there are: throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks. He can remind the players which goal to head toward, but once the ball rolls over a line, any line, he is lost. He once called the field a court.

Sam has been helping Sparky out with the kids at the games, and at the last game I got to assist with the substitutions. Normally a team has six players, so there’s no need to keep track. Whoever is on the field comes off, and whoever is not on the field comes on. It’s not complicated. However, we were a man down with the coach’s son gone, so someone had to make sure everyone got equal playing time. This was our second game, so I’d already sorted out our players. We’ve got the Bobbsey Twins, the blond-haired, blue-eyed Hitler Youth boys who carry the distinction of giving at least a tiny shit about the location and direction of the ball. Then we have the Bad News Bears, the three shorter boys who poke at the ball every now and then but are far more interested in galloping alongside their opponents and hanging from the crossbar of the goal as they get scored on. One of the Bears is Paolo, and one of the Bears is Emilio, and they are the worst two players on the team. How did that happen? In what world do the Mexican kid and the semi-Italian kid suck the most at soccer? It’s my own personal hell.

One of the Bobbseys pushing forward, while Emilio trails behind and Paolo skips.

Every four minutes throughout the game, I had to tell the coach who to send off. I’m not even going to lie: I was making strategic substitutions. I tried to keep a Bobbsey in the game at all times, except when the superstar player on the other team was on. Then I’d field the Bears because the kid was unstoppable; no point wasting a focused player. I kept my finger on the pulse of the game, taking note of which player’s energy was flagging and whose attention span was shot. Not that it mattered. If the score were kept (and it’s not; see how sick I am?) it would have been in the neighborhood of 39–1. I should be ashamed of my mania, and I am a little, but I’m too busy working out my strategy for the next game.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is walking backwards a milestone or a disorder?

One way to evaluate Gianluca at one year is to count up all the things he’s not doing yet: not talking meaningfully, not pointing, not waving bye-bye, not walking independently. You could look at my son that way--and pediatricians have to--but you would be missing everything. You wouldn’t see him speed-crawl to and up the stairs whenever the gate comes down. You wouldn’t see him wrestle with his brother until their belly laughs bring tears to my eyes. You’d miss out on Danger Baby, who can home in on the most dangerous item or activity available to him and bee-line for it. How would you know that he can find a missing pacifier his parents have torn the house apart looking for? But baby doctors don’t ask those questions. They want to know if he is walking backwards and how many wet diapers he has a day. They don’t care that he is ticklish in the small of his back or that he is so proud when he takes half a dozen steps while I am watching. Instead, his pediatrician labeled him “cautious” because he didn’t pounce on a proffered toy.

This is neither my first rodeo nor my first pony, so the list of things he isn’t doing doesn’t worry me. Gianluca is not behind, delayed, or stupid, and a stack of arbitrary questions cannot qualify his intelligence. There is no measure for the spark in his eyes or the joy in his smile. If there were, pediatricians wouldn’t have to ask any questions at all. They would just look at him, just be in his company for five minutes, and congratulate me on having such an amazing boy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"We believed in a dream and made it come true."

Did you know that any team who wins the World Cup four times gets to keep the trophy? I had forgotten until now. Brazil was awarded the first trophy, which was stolen and is still missing. The second belongs to Italy, forever. Amen. The picture at left is captioned, "Fabio Cannavaro receives the Cup from Joseph Blatter." Excerpts from the article on Gazzetta dello Sport below:

FLORENCE, 2 September 2008 - For the first time, a national side displays on their shirts a logo reflecting one of their achievements: for Lippi's lads, it will be a special memory. It's a logo that will identify the reigning world champions: the world cup on a white background, with the words FIFA World Champions 2006. "It has never happened before and this shows how much FIFA cares about Italy," said Abete, president of FIGC.

(In case anyone was wondering what I want for my birthday, a-hem.)

Here is Joseph Blatter, FIFA's number one: "The champions deserve special recognition. The Italian side are the first ones to have it; the logo will be on their blue shirts at least until 2010. The players who have that logo on their shirts will have extra motivation." Then came a round of applause, requested by Blatter, who complimented Italy.

The squad and the coaching staff were also present in the ceremony. The captain Cannavaro found some time to talk about a rematch: "The experience in Germany changed all our lives. We believed in a dream and made it come true. We have won a magical cup. However, we have another chance at it now; the chance to silence everyone. This is why I invite president Blatter to hand over the cup to me. He can do that now." After which, FIFA President (who left his place in Berlin to Johansson), stood up and handed the World Cup (that was behind both of them) over to the Italian captain: "It's never too late to do well," smiled Blatter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dear Bulldog Hockey Mom,

Dear Bulldog Hockey Mom,

Your inclusion on the McCain ticket is supposed to appeal to my kind. Like you, I am a woman, I have a career, and I have a family that means the world to me. However, you do not speak to or for me. You do not speak for any woman with a brain and a conscience. Your views are harmful and hypocritical and delivered in a tone both vicious and demeaning. I watched your speech at the Republican National Convention last night. It was a roof-raiser: the snarkier your remarks, the louder the applause. Noticeably absent, however, were your ultra-conservative right-wing views on social reform.

Among many ridiculous things, you support abstinence-only education, banning access to and information concerning contraception in schools. That trite ideal of yours is awfully hard to defend while you parade your big-bellied teenage daughter on national television. Like a true Republican, in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence, you refuse to admit a mistake or change your opinion. Since you want to impose your lunatic ideals on my family, I feel at liberty to point out how they failed you. How proud you must be of withholding information from your own daughter that could have changed her life, let’s be honest, for the better. Teen pregnancy is a life setback that can indeed be overcome, but it is nothing to aspire to, don’t you think, Grandma?

Second, you want to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. You believe that a woman who did not even consent to sex should not have the right to terminate any resulting pregnancy. That’s mighty compassionate of you. But you’re being marketed as the soul of compassion for choosing to have a baby that you knew beforehand had Down’s Syndrome. That is not your badge of honor; it was your decision, and it does not make you more pious than a woman who would choose differently. I disagree with the choice to carry a baby with known genetic defects to term. However, I would never in a million years make that decision for any uterus but my own. I wish you and the rich, old, white men of your party would adopt the same attitude.

Speaking of your precious fifth child, is it in his best interest that you become vice president of this country? I do not disagree that a father can care for an infant just as capably as its mother, but in the first couple of years, a baby bonds with its mother more. Come on, you’ve had four previous kids, you KNOW that. You also know this baby will need you more than your others did. In addition, you have pledged your full support to your teenage daughter, who is due to give birth in four months. Lady, where will you find the time?

You are not more of a woman for seeking such a lofty position of power at this time in your life; you are less of one.

Sincerely,
Quattro Stelle

My Donkey Kicked the Lipstick off Your Bulldog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I’m going to shrink him down and put him in my pocket.

Paolo has been a worry lately. He underwent surgery to remove his adenoids the week before last; a relatively simple procedure with a short recovery time. Only he didn’t recover. He felt worse each passing day, and I called his surgeon on day five (his first day of school). The doctor had us bring Paolo in immediately and then sent him for an X-ray to look for spinal cord inflammation, a rare but serious complication from the surgery. After a tense day and a half, it turned out Paolo’s spinal cord was not infected, and he does NOT in fact have the one-in-ten-thousand syndrome we thought he might have, which can lead to paralysis or death. "Tense" isn't really the right word. Is there a word for when your brain starts to process that your child might truly be in trouble and you feel like you're at the bottom of a dark, heavy ocean breathing through a straw? It felt like that. Paolo finished his 10-day regimen of mega-dose antibiotics, and he feels great. Sam and I are still surfacing. It takes a while for the stain of such strong panic to wash off completely.

The first week of kindergarten was overshadowed by the specter of Paolo’s illness, so this second week feels more like a celebration. Tuesday I dropped him off, which was a big disappointment to him because he wants to ride bikes to school with his daddy every day. I’m losing ground to supercool dad, but the baby still likes me more. Sam went to pick Paolo up at 3:00, but Paolo never came to the designated pick-up spot. Sam watched other kids meet their waiting parents until he was the only one left. He went down to Paolo’s classroom, but it was empty. He started checking other rooms until a teacher, whose room he poked his head in, asked to help. She suggested Paolo might be with the kids at the car pick-up, so Sam headed outside. Paolo wasn’t there, and he wasn’t on the playground.

Just then, the helpful teacher caught up with Sam to tell him Paolo had been transferred to another school. Mystery solved! She explained that Paolo was one of the students who got bussed across town due to the overcrowding in the kindergarten classes. At this point, Sam had had enough. With dwindling calm, he assured this woman that Paolo attends THIS school. He was dropped off HERE this morning. He is NOT a transfer, and she was WRONG. She continued to argue with him and called over a male teacher for backup, because the intimidating father with a baby on his hip wouldn’t leave without his son. Finally, someone found Paolo’s teacher, who had mistakenly sent him to after-school care. Paolo was in the gym about to have a snack with the other kids, having no idea that he’d been lost for half an hour.

Paolo recently got his own library card, and he couldn’t be prouder. He carried it around for hours until he decided to store it in his Transformers wallet. As I watched him slip the bright yellow card snugly inside the pocket, I wished I could do that with him: fold him up and keep him close to me, away from harm. We gave him to a doctor, and he ended up with a scary infection. We gave him to a teacher, and she misplaced him. I want him to grow, I want him to experience life unencumbered by apron strings, but sometimes I want him back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Elementary school is the bee's knees.

Let me get this straight: after five years of crippling daycare registration, tuition, and supply fees, I can leave my son here with you for free. I owe you zero dollars, yes? And he’ll be supervised by people with education degrees, his teachers won’t change every other week, and the school will not pack up and move to another town. Sounds marvelous. Here, have my kid. Nope, I don’t need a moment to collect myself.

Paolo, welcome to Kindergarten. Be good, hang loose, see you at 3:00.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Holding it Together, but Barely

Great changes are afoot, and many things are conspiring to keep me on my toes. I do not like to be on my toes. I like my feet to be planted solidly, nay, bolted down with metal rivets to giant steel girders of non-change.

I finally registered Gianluca at a new daycare after weeks of deliberation. I had it narrowed down to two, and the last tour I went on clinched it. The director actually thought she could intimidate me. She began by telling me what would get me and my child kicked out of the school; she danced around my question about staff turnover by admitting her reputation for being insanely strict; and closed by saying her program was too good for the state of Arkansas, so she had no intention of meeting state guidelines to be labeled a quality-approved school. Check this, Frau Crazystein, if I’m giving you my kid, I’M the one telling YOU how things are going to be. YOU will fear ME, and you will jump to meet MY standards. That’s how this works. The daycare I chose is moving to a newly constructed building, which is good because their current building needs to be razed. They’re hoping to move at the end of this week, but aren’t sure. So I don’t know where Gianluca’s first day will be yet.

As for Paolo, his pedo-partial broke again, so he’s missing his front teeth until a week after he starts school. (I’ll skip over the dentist visit where they took an impression of his teeth while he gagged and screamed and I cried, and then they had to do it again.) Poor Paolo is also scheduled for surgery this Wednesday to remove his adenoids and put in another set of ear tubes. So it’s really helpful that his school moved its Kindergarten popsicle party to Wednesday evening, because I’m sure he’ll be in the mood to socialize. Maybe he could get a Vicodin pop, and share with his mama. I also just found out he is starting school next Monday, not next Wednesday as we were told at registration. I had to call the school to find this out. I guess this is not information that merits distribution.

Paolo is over-the-moon excited about starting Kindergarten and soccer next week. He’s got his school supplies, a new backpack and lunchbox, and the cutest pair of soccer cleats in existence. He’s also fortunate to have a dad who remains unstressed by all this upheaval and kindly uncurls his mama’s fingers every night.

Monday, August 4, 2008

House of Louse

I got the dreaded phone call last week: come get your kid; he’s got lice. No, not the five-year-old, the BABY. Clearly, I thought, he’s been hanging with the dirty kid in the baby room. Except he was the only kid who had it, so he IS the dirty kid in the baby room. Damn. I can’t even blame it on Forrest Gump, who is now on my shit list for biting Gianluca twice. Lucky for Forrest, it’s beneath even me to exact retribution on a baby with leg braces.

The lice situation definitely stole my thunder as I handed the director my one-week’s notice. In the letter, I complained that the daycare center had moved to a crime-infested barrio, and I would not have child molesters yards away from my babies. Still, it was an uncomfortable paradox to declare that my boys are too good for the place while removing them before they gave other kids bugs.

Once home I washed sheets, pillows, blankets, carseat and highchair covers, and vacuumed anything too big to fit in the washer. That night we resembled a monkey house at the zoo, taking turns checking each other’s scalp for intruders. Three days, fifty gallons of scalding water, and seven hours of nit-combing later, the lice count is one bug (removed at daycare) and two eggs that I combed off the baby. Are we done? Is a lice episode of this minortude even possible? Maybe they’re regrouping for an infestation of epic proportions. Does my nape itch?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report, July 22-24, 2008

July 22, 9:12 a.m. A woman at 10910 S.E. Campbell Road, Fayetteville, reported a male acquaintance keeps calling, telling her how high he is and that he won’t give her father’s chain saw back.
Could this be why?:


7: 31 p.m. A woman at Ultimate Tan, 1810 W. Sunset Ave., reported a man exposed himself to her.

That was a misunderstanding. He just really, really hates tan lines.

July 23, 7:26 a.m. A woman at 16185 Osborn Road, Winslow, reported a man took a bus from her mother’s yard that was full of her mother’s belongings and it’s sitting in front of the TNT Diner.
5: 23 p.m. A caller at 11122 Cannon Road, Lincoln, reported parts stolen off of several vehicles parked on their property.

You think the people whose houses resemble ships floating on a sea of crap don’t know what’s in their yards and might even be pleased if some of it should disappear. You are incorrect. Also, TNT Diner is the best greasy spoon name ever, edging out Terry’s House of Heartburn. It’s always nice when a dining establishment lets you know what will happen to your insides should you eat there.

July 24, 9:11 p.m. A woman on Southeast A Street reported her ex-boyfriend broke into her residence, ate her food and had been in her bed.
10:01 p.m. A man at 2552 E. Neely Road reported he left his door unlocked and someone trashed the residence and ate his food.

Their porridge was juuuuust right.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A battle of wills in which no one wins

At daycare this morning, we were in the baby room dropping off Gianluca. Paolo was playing chase with a kid in there who has Forrest-Gump-style leg braces. The kid is a ball of sunshine and damn quick for having to lug those things around. As I was finishing up getting Luca settled, I told Paolo he had to let the baby catch him once before we left the room.

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes. That is how you be nice to babies, and you will be nice to this baby. Now.

No.

By this time, since Paolo was standing still, the baby wasn’t chasing him anymore. I told Paolo to say goodbye to the baby so we could go to Paolo’s classroom.

No.

Say. Goodbye. To. The. Baby.

No.

I had no idea this was a hill Paolo was prepared to die on. I threatened the first thing that came to mind: I told him I’d take his swim clothes with me so he couldn’t participate in Water Day with his classmates. He made a tragic face but wouldn’t budge. I scolded, cajoled, counted to three, and then gave up and pushed him out of the baby room. I don’t even want to know what the two teachers in there thought of our ridiculous exchange. There we were fighting to the death over social niceties between a five-year-old and a baby with the attention span of a goldfish. I knew how little it mattered, but once it started, I couldn’t back down. “Consistency in Parenting” and all that.

In Paolo’s classroom, I explained that I wouldn’t take his swim gear with me, but I WOULD take his “ticket.” He’d found a dollar bill on the sidewalk yesterday and was eagerly waiting for the weekend to buy a toy with it. Well, that started the tears. I hated doing this. I HATED it. I hated myself, I hated parenting, I hated this stupid situation. So I did something I’m pretty sure a better parent wouldn’t have. I asked Paolo, if he had one more chance, would he do things differently, would he say goodbye to that baby? I was prepared to take him back into the baby room, let him grunt at little Forrest, and all would be forgiven. But what was Paolo’s response, through his lost-ticket tears? No.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The longest three minutes of my life

I had just finished my afternoon pumping session and walked out of my designated room to return to my desk. A wonderful, engaged co-worker of mine was standing a couple feet away with her fiancée, who was in town so they could get their marriage license. I had never met him, but I am very fond of my co-worker, and from what she has shared, he sounds like a great guy. I politely shook his hand and introduced myself. He smiled, introduced himself and began to small-talk. His eyes gleamed. Wait, was one eye gleaming more than the other? Why is that one eye so shiny? Maybe he’s allergic, or emotional. Shit, is that a glass eye? Whoa! Glass Eye! No, surely it’s not, or is it? He kept turning his face away while he was talking and I couldn’t get a good enough look at it. It’s incredibly rude to stare at someone, ESPECIALLY if you’re trying to sort out whether they have a prosthetic body part, but damn it, YOU try to look away from a glass eye. It can’t be done.

The whole time I’m arguing with myself about whether or not this delightful man that my co-worker is in love with has a fancy marble in his eye socket (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this delightful man has been talking to me. And I have not heard a word. I tuned back in just in time to hear, “So where are you headed?” I assumed he had confused me with another co-worker who is moving, so I explained that I was the one staying behind. Both he and his fiancée stared at me like I’d lost my mind. I got the feeling that tidbit had been mentioned while I was zoned out. My co-worker said helpfully, “No, I think he’s talking about the bag you’re carrying. It looks like you’re heading out.” Oh, right, my bag, my pump bag, my “discreet,” enormous, ugly, black bag containing my electric breast pump and newly expressed breast milk. Oh, that. My brain got sucked into a black hole of embarrassment, and I couldn’t speak. My helpful co-worker jumped in again and stumbled her way through an explanation while I stood there like an idiot, nodding and mouth-breathing.

Then, unsurprisingly, it was time for the happy couple to go. Ever the gentleman, the fiancée said it had been great to meet me (and my breast milk). Oh, it was implied in the awkward way he could no longer meet my eyes and didn't reach to shake my hand, presumably covered in breast milk gore. "Yes," I agreed, "it was nice to meet you, too" (and your glass eye).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How to scare the peas and carrots out of an overprotective mother

“A cute thing happened when I was at the grocery store with the boys. An old man started talking to Paolo and told him he’d been waiting all day to give a little boy a cookie. So Paolo went with him over to the bakery, and the guy let him pick out any cookie he wanted.”

“Um, Sam. Are you saying that you let Paolo go off with some random old guy who promised him sweets? Because that’s like Lesson One of Stranger Danger.”

“Oh, right, no, NO. The guy works there, and I told Paolo it was okay. He never left my sight! It was totally harmless. I guess I left out some parts of the story, huh?

“Yuh-huh.”

They don't call it rocket for nothing

Sam made a new dish a few nights ago, involving grilled portabella mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, and arugula stacked on ciabatta bread. The recipe called for the arugula to be dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sam presented the bowl of arugula to me and asked me to check it for salt/pepper deficiencies. I popped a leaf in my mouth and told him not to add a thing to the mixture. Arugula is a BYOB green: it brings its own bam. Sam looked at me doubtfully, so I told him to partake. He chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds, and then his eyes popped out of his head. "Aaaaaagh! This is like eating poison ivy," he exclaimed while sucking air. "Don't be silly. You're just getting that peppery finish," I said. "No, dude. I'm here trying to have a nice meal, and someone came along and sprayed mace in the back of my throat."

Tell me he couldn't have his own cooking show.

Friday, June 20, 2008

But what about the children?

We have the same child, at two different ages. I thought Luca might be a different sort of kid, but then his hair turned blonde, and I knew. Luca has joined his brother in the 25th weight percentile, having decided that eating is overrated. At mealtimes, Luca's high chair sits next to Paolo's chair. I suspect this is a mistake. Do I really want Luca to model his table manners after Paolo, licking ketchup off his plate, agonizing over every tiny bite, begging to be finished, fake-gagging on his mashed potatoes? This is the same boy who has to be told repeatedly to stop taking the baby's food off the high chair tray. They both do that: they'll eat anything that isn't theirs. You know what else they do simultaneously? The dinnertime bowel movement. I'll be right in the middle of yelling at them to eat when one hotfoots it to the bathroom and the other one bears down.

Luca learned to crawl about three weeks ago. Not to be outdone, Paolo learned to crawl down the stairs headfirst. It's very Spiderman. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed at the baby's crawling. I had an all-too-brief spell of freedom between the sitting up and the crawling. I could plant the baby in the living room with bright, fun toys in arms' reach, and he was cool. Now, I sit the baby down, and he crawls after me. This is cute for about five minutes. When he does not crawl after me, he crawls over to pull the fan down on himself or choke on his brother's Legos.

Sam and I have lost the ability to baby-proof. When Paolo was a baby, we owned a chair, a TV, maybe a lamp. All the toys were Paolo's and, thus, baby-friendly. Now we have furniture, electronics with tasty, chewable cords, sharp Power Ranger spinners, microscopic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle daggers. When I look around at all the things in our house endangering a curious baby, I am ashamed and overwhelmed. We're not completely irresponsible, however. We've got Paolo acting as our baby-getting-into-trouble alert system. Is that wrong? He's really good at letting me know when Luca has pulled the vent cover out of the floor, and he is especially indignant when Luca has a superhero in his mouth. They are brothers, after all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nobody told me there'd be a trophy

T-ball season is behind us, and we kicked it out the door with a party at Steak n Shake Monday night. Hooray for our awesome team sponsor! (Give me a free chocolate shake, and I’ll cheer for you, too.) It was a really nice gesture by some really nice people, so I had no business being there. However, I have children now, and I keep the snark to myself even if I have to choke on it. The game face stays on, people, the face that says I put in real effort to get the grass/clay stains out of T-ball pants and I love to watch Oprah, too, yes I do.

I had the good fortune to sit across from a lady who made her two boys pray over their meal before digging in. Oh Lord, bless these thy chicken fingers, which we are about to baptize in ranch sauce in thy holy name. Amen. Further chatting revealed she home-schools them both, which would explain the bizarre quizzing of the older boy about the origin of the hamburger. I’m not sure what would explain her younger son’s name, Gunner. We had the inevitable conversation about my boys’ names and mispronunciation, wherein she complained that she has trouble with people not getting Gunner’s name right. Even her relatives want to call him Hunter, and she doesn’t understand why. That is really odd, I agreed. Maybe it’s because his name is Gunner, and “Gunner” belongs in the Future Felons of America, along with Shooter Wayne, Cash, Wesson, and Remington.* I did not say that but, oh boy, I thought it.

I cleared the Jesus-freak-home-schooler hurdle intact and turned my attention to the coaches for the trophy presentation. The assistant coach began his speech, but then sort of hunched over and covered his face. At first I thought he was having a heart attack, but it turned out he was weeping…from the emotion…of T-ball. To fill the uncomfortable silence while he composed himself, his wife whispered, “He’s very emotional. He really wears his heart on his sleeve.” That’s fine, I can handle a man who cries, but did YOUR team just suffer a historic loss in the European championship today? Did YOUR team go from World Champions to laughingstocks in the space of 90 minutes? No. Get a grip on yourself, man. If I can hold back the tears, SO CAN YOU.

On to the important part – Paolo got a trophy! With his name on it! And I can burn the white T-ball pants that tortured me so and marked Paolo as having a mom who doesn’t love him. We’ll also be hanging up the T-ball hat, since, as my father-in-law pointed out, anyone named VeryGermanLastName shouldn’t be walking around in a hat emblazoned with SS. That man cracks me up. We have the same sense of humor, and I never have to pretend with him. Although I guarantee he would have gotten those damn pants clean. Probably a closet Oprah watcher.

*I searched a couple baby name websites before it occurred to me to check my own hometown newspaper for birth announcements. In a single issue I found the above, along with some candidates for Future Pole-Dancers of America: Jazmyn, Jorja, Au’Bri, Swiston Shea, and Brooklyn Rain.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Storing some junk in the trunk

"This is what I tell the younger guys at the bike shop: women are like elephants."

"Go on."

"They forgive, but they never forget. So, watch what you say."

"Like maybe don't call them elephants?"

What I'm Reading: Haven Kimmel

If you don't know Haven Kimmel, you should meet her. Start at the beginning with her first work, A Girl Name Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. In these autobiographical snapshots, Kimmel manages something every writer struggles with: to write honestly about her family without hurting them or making them hate you. The stories are hilarious, touching, and identifiable. You know these people; you remember these childhood feelings of joy, embarrassment, frustration, and silliness. The Kimmels' story continues in She Got up Off the Couch: and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana. These bittersweet tales focus mainly on Kimmel's mother, a woman who put her life on hold for her family and then takes it back. Know anyone like that? Thought so.

The great thing about Haven Kimmel is that her fiction is amazing, too. The Solace of Leaving Early is stunning. Kimmel attended seminary, and faith and religion are major themes in this novel. Kimmel's contemplations are intellectual and inconclusive, which I appreciate because you cannot get to the bottom of religion, any religion. Reason will take you only so far, and then you have to take a leap of faith...or not, because you have better ways to spend your time. As little as I care for spirituality, I enjoyed these meditations immensely. The Used World, her latest, is another exercise in awesome and features the reappearance of several of her Solace characters. To round out her list of works is Something Rising (Light and Swift), which I'm reading now.

Italy lose captain Cannavaro

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hounded by the Paparazzi

This is us on Memorial Day at the park. We were in the paper! I didn't see the copy, but it probably said something about how we're the cutest family in Northwest Arkansas.

http://www.printroom.com/ViewGallery.asp?userid=nwa0nl1n3&gallery_id=1098570

"When you make it to Google Earth, you've arrived."

I added the pictures, but the story is pure, unadulterated Arkansas.

SPRINGDALE : Rooftop plane makes last flight off McDonald’s
BY ROBERT J. SMITH
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2008

SPRINGDALE — An engineless airplane on the roof of a Mc-Donald’s propelled its last customers through the restaurant’s front door on Thursday.

Owners Bill Mathews and Walter Mathews are removing the Piper Seneca that’s rested on metal posts above the roof since the store opened in 1994.

Two factors led to the decision: The fast-food chain encouraged the brothers to remodel their local restaurants, and liability became a concern after a rudder snapped off in high wind three months ago.

“The restaurant is going to be a ‘Forever Young’ design,” said Bill Mathews, referring to the chain’s current branding campaign. “That plane was showing its wear.”

Customers and store employees were disappointed to see the plane with Ronald Mc-Donald riding proudly on the fuselage lifted by a crane and put down on the parking lot. The restaurant was closed temporarily while the crane moved the plane.

“When they do something like this, people ought to have a right to vote on it,” said Audrey Harris, a Springdale resident who eats breakfast at the McDonald’s every Thursday. “That’s how we tell people where to turn to get to our house. It’s a landmark. Now, what am I supposed to do?”

Indeed, the restaurant most commonly referred to as the “airplane McDonald’s” just down the road from the Springdale Municipal Airport has served as a regional compass for years, guiding people to the used car lots, pizza restaurants and other businesses on Robinson Avenue east of Arkansas 265.

The brothers knew their store, with its unique decoration, had become a landmark for locals and businesses.

“It’s served its purpose,” Walter Mathews said. “It’s like one of your kids growing up and going off to college.”

Still, Bertha Murillo fretted about getting customers to her job at a neighboring used car lot.

“We’re going to have a harder time giving directions to people who call,” said Murillo, who works at the Pine Meadow Auto Plex. “We don’t even have to say we’re on East Robinson Avenue because everyone knows where that McDonald’s is.”

A giant chicken and turkey just up the street in front of Four State Poultry Supply Inc. might be just the ticket for those seeking a different compass. Each standing 14 feet tall, the fiberglass birds are nearly a mile west of the airplane McDonald’s and have been in place for 30 years.

“If you go to Google Earth on the Internet, it’s a big chicken and big turkey that’s on there in Springdale,” said Ron Day, one of the supply company’s owners. “It doesn’t say ‘airplane.’ When you make it to Google Earth, you’ve arrived.”

Popeye, a statue near the Allen Canning Co. plant on Thompson Avenue, declined comment.

The McDonald’s corporate honchos knew of the rooftop airplane. A vice president from Dallas often commented about it, telling Bill Mathews “you Mathews boys are nuts” when the topic came up.

Walter Mathews, a former aircraft mechanic, pieced the halfton plane together from parts found at a salvage yard near Kansas City, Mo., with the propellers purchased in Clinton.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Five's been a little bit hard on me

"Transformers! No one meets the skies," Paolo's voice piped through the house. I joined in, singing the actual lyrics from the cartoon's theme song. Silly me, I'd forgotten that nothing pisses off a five-year-old like being corrected. In a rude, condescending voice, my know-it-all son told me how very, very wrong I was about the whole thing. Robots in disguise? Hah! The song says no such thing. Paolo lectured me slowly, enunciating each word of the bungled lyrics like he was explaining 'sit' to a mildly retarded puppy. A nerve in my left eyeball started to twitch. "Listen, Paolo, I'm pretty smart...," I began. Paolo interruped, "I'm pretty smart, too. I know how to spell play. P-L-A-Y. I know things!"

It was late, and I was waltzing the baby to sleep in Paolo's room because he can't fall asleep alone. (Yes, I wrote waltzing, not walking. Gianluca has been having a lot of trouble falling asleep lately, with screaming and bucking. For whatever reason, my hurky-jerky attempt at ballroom dancing does the trick. Call me Twinkletoes.) So. Between the fussy, floppy, tired baby and the willful five-year-old noise machine, I was on edge. I barked at Paolo, who was lying on his bed sideways with his legs up the wall, to LAY DOWN. He told me no. I walked out of his room and closed the door behind me. He immediately got out of bed and ran to open the door. I was waiting on the other side, furious-faced, and demanded, "Do you say no to me?" Paolo started to answer, but couldn't because I had asked him an impossible question. He had such a perfect oh-shit expression on his face, I couldn't help but erupt with laughter.

I like Five, I do, but it wears me out. Five is literal, scatter-brained, clever, infuriating and hilarious. Five can make me so mad my skin vibrates. But just when Five is making me re-evaluate my stance on corporal punishment, Five says or does something that makes me smile, totally undermining the impression I'm trying to make of how much trouble he's in. I'm figuring out that I don't need to fight the urge to enjoy a moment of levity with my kid. I need to relish those moments.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Azzurri squad announced for Euro 2008

Goalkeepers: Buffon, Amelia, De Sanctis
Defenders: Barzagli, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Grosso, Materazzi, Panucci, Zambrotta
Midfielders: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Aquilani, Camoranesi, De Rossi, Perrotta, Montolivo and Pirlo
Forwards: Toni, Borriello, Del Piero, Di Natale, Quagliarella, Cassano

There are three, THREE Fabios in the lineup. Have I mentioned already...? Yeah, I have.

All in all, I'm pleased with the lineup. I'm disappointed with the exclusion of Pippo Inzaghi in favor of Antonio Cassano. Cassano's a big baby, and Pippo's a pro. Pippo is a cherrypicker and has never scored a pretty goal in his career, but you know what? They all count, even the ugly ones he scores with his knee cap or his ear.

There are two words that explain why I'm not too stressed about our forwards: Luca and Toni. Toni, who broke my heart by moving to Bayern Munich last season, helped his club win the Bundesliga title and finished as the league's top scorer with 24 goals in 31 appearances. Perhaps the national side lost God but found Jesus.

Two years ago when Italy brought home the World Cup, I said I didn't care if they ever won anything else. I almost meant that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stimulate this!

We finally got a Wii, which we've been trying to find since December. We don't have any games except the sports pack it comes with because Wii games are freaking expensive! Luckily, all GameCube games work on Wii, so Paolo and I are still plugging away at Paper Mario and revisiting Lego Star Wars (the greatest game ever made). The sports games are fun, but Paolo won't play boxing anymore since he got knocked out. He takes things like that very personally. Speaking of Lego video games, there's a Lego Indiana Jones AND a Lego Batman coming out soon. I'm totally hyperventilating just contemplating that. At some point, we also need to replace our GameCube Lego Star Wars with the Wii version because you use your remotes AS THE LIGHT SABERS.

Dear IRS, could you mail our stimulus payment soon?

Actually, that payment is going to stimulate some medical bills, stimulate me a new windshield, and anything left over is going to stimulate our savings account. In short, I will do the opposite of what the government wants me to do with this money. I will use it to pay off our recent emergencies and sock the rest of it away for the next time the cosmos takes a dump on us. As much as I'd like to pay $50.00 for a brand new video game, I'll wait to find it used. The sagging economy is just going to have to suck it.

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Alchemist

I'm about three months behind initiating a discussion for my book club on The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I considered getting up the gumption today since it's pretty slow at work, but instead I'll combine a post and a discussion point because I'M A MULTI-TASKER. I've been hung up on a line from the book, "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." (Now, isn't that sweet? The whole book is like that: fulfilling your personal destiny, not abandoning your dreams, and trusting that all of the natural and spiritual world has your back.) This poetically worded concept is actually quite common. Most people call an unlikely event "happy coincidence" when it's favorable and "Murphy's Law" when it's not.

What the book does not address is the worth of the "something" being sought. Santiago, the shepherd boy in The Alchemist, is seeking treasure. Is that a worthy quest or merely avarice? What about people with truly laudable quests, like curing cancer, who don't seem to be getting anywhere? Conversely, people throughout history with rotten dreams, like genocide, can be quite successful. Are they getting help from the universe? Should they be? Chew on that, book club, and email me your thoughts.

And now I segue into what's going on in my life and what I have been wanting: sleep. For such a harmless goal, you'd think the universe could help me out. Indeed, it is working against me. There are many things that disturb a baby's sleep. Currently, my baby is experiencing three of them: teething pain, illness, developmental milestones. Over the past several weeks, Gianluca cut three new teeth. Babies are SUPPOSED to get two teeth at a time every two months, starting at 5-6 months old. I have an eight-month-old with seven teeth. And since teeth come in pairs, there's another on the way.

On top of that, he contracted a mean cold that went straight to his lungs. It sucks holding a baby down to force his asthma meds. It sucks sitting in a steamy bathroom at 3:00 A.M. It sucks even more watching your baby struggle to breathe, his body jerking as he sleeps. He's getting better though. A few more days ought to do it.

The third sleep-destroyer is actually awesome. Luca is learning to pull himself to a standing position, as well as learning to crawl. Right now, it's more of a backwards scoot, but he'll get there. Who can sleep when there's potential for pitching over the side of the crib? [Note to self: lower crib mattress.] So I'm still not sold on Personal Legends, but I think my baby is dabbling in alchemy. He has managed to turn sleep deprivation into gold.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report April 24-26, 2008

April 24 6:08 p.m. A caller at Cracker Barrel, 1022 S. 48th St., reported a couple being intimate in a vehicle behind the business.
Who knew country-fried steak and meatloaf were aphrodisiacs? They got a double helping of love gravy.

April 25 9:44 a.m. A caller at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill, 528 N. 47th St., reported identity theft.
Impersonation of local eatery wherein cooks prepare freshly purchased food items on a stove.

2:25 p.m. A man on Southwest A Street reported a woman causing a scene.
Heaven help us, baby’s got her blue jeans on.

3:57 p.m. A woman at Bible Believers Book Store, 130 Spring St., reported a theft.
Too easy.

April 26 6:40 p.m. A woman at 1801 Anthony Drive reported someone draining Freon from her air-conditioning system.
She went on to report her suspicion of someone stealing gas out of her car. Every time she gets in her car, the fuel gauge is a little lower than before. And also, a person in a safari hat driving a small white truck keeps opening her mailbox.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Whole Hand

My eldest turned five years old or, as he put it with fingers outspread, he made it to a whole hand. To celebrate, we threw him a party. I chose his favorite park as the locale and reserved the gazebo in case of rain. It didn't rain, as it happens, because the clouds were too cold to cry. There was a cold snap on the day of the party that drove the temperature down to a balmy 41 degrees. What could I do? I dressed Paolo in three layers of clothing and away we went. I'm not sure what was more disheartening: noticing tiny snow flurries as we got out of the car or trying to prepare Paolo for the likelihood that none of his friends were going to show up.

So we laid the table with cake and cookies, hung the piñata, and lined up the thermoses of hot chocolate. And then a miracle happened. People started showing up. I greeted each new arrival with, "Thank you so much for coming. Are you crazy? It's freezing out here!" I decided that was preferable to what I really felt like doing each time I saw a little person toting a present down the hill from the parking lot - grabbing the parent in a bear hug, burying my head in his/her neck and whispering, "thank you for making my little boy happy." That might have been weird, no?

As kids get older, parents can do less and less to protect them from disappointment. I'm learning that I have to rely on the kindness of others sometimes. Whether it's a patient T-ball coach, an inspiring teacher, or a parent who brings her child to the park on a freezing day in April, we all have a hand in producing happy childhoods. I know I'll think twice now before I throw away another of Paolo's classmate's birthday party invitations. It's a pretty big deal when your kid makes it to a whole hand, and he should get to walk away from it with good memories. And speaking of Paolo's whole hand, it's marvelous how comfortably my whole heart fits in its palm.

Friday, April 11, 2008

T-ball or die

Paolo is playing T-ball this year in a non-competitive, everyone's-just-here-to-have-fun league. That being said, these people are morbidly serious about their T-ball. I had an inkling they meant business when they demanded a copy of Paolo's birth certificate at registration. I can understand needing proof of age to weed out the "ten-year-olds" with mustaches, but who is lying about their five-year-old?

Of course there was a snafu with registration because we mailed in his birth certificate separately, and he was put on the roster of two teams. Our fault, naturally, for giving him such a common name. After communicating with both coaches, my matter was referred to the Vice President of Five-Year-Olds. How cute: T-ball bureacracy! I explained to Mister T-ball which team I preferred for scheduling reasons. He agreed that Paolo should be placed on my preferred team, but before he could approve the roster, he would have to contact the OTHER Vice President of Five-Year-Olds. There is more than one holder of this esteemed office. After all, one vice president would be inadequate to administer the complexities of five-year-old T-ball. Case in point, poor Paolo who was on two teams and is now on none. We need PEOPLE on this, for crying out loud.

Several unnecessary communications later, Paolo got approval to stay on his team, and I took him to his second practice. The coach emailed Sam the following day asking why Paolo had been at his practice, seeing as how he isn't on that team. I know! I laughed, too, right before I beat my head against my desk.

It's all sorted out now, and Paolo's first game is tomorrow afternoon. Sam took him outside last night to practice catching. They were back about five minutes later with blood gushing from Paolo's nose due to a flubbed catch. I heart T-ball.

All this Bliss

"There's a barstool out there somewhere with my name on it, but that's another Sam in a different life."

"Well, that Sam is sad and lonely."

"I'm better at that."

"Is all this bliss cramping your style?"

"It is. It's beating me down."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sky Rockets in Flight

Me: Great, I have Puff the Magic Dragon stuck in my head.

Melissa: You know that song is actually about getting high.

Me: No, it's not! It's a movie, with a cartoon dragon and a boy named Jackie Paper.

Melissa: The song came before the movie. It's one of those songs that sound all innocent, but are really about something...else, like Afternoon Delight.

Me: *gagging* God, that song fills my head with visions of dirty hippies getting busy.

Melissa: Smelling like patchouli...

Me: Yeah, dirty hippies knocking patchoulis.

Brotherhood

The boys and I were outside enjoying one of the year’s first warm days. Paolo had the awesome idea of chalking targets on the driveway to bomb with water balloons. We were sketching bad guys from Paper Mario, naturally, when Paolo’s chalk jumped out of his hand mid-stroke and started rolling away. He swiveled on his knee to grab for it, which was a bad idea considering he was wearing shorts. He began to cry and carry on about his scraped knee and the tiny drops of BLOOD, dear Jesus, the BLOOD. Suddenly Gianluca, who had been perfectly content in my arms, started to cry. “Paolo, you have to stop crying. You’re making your baby brother cry,” I told him. In an instant, Paolo stopped crying, and a moment later, the baby stopped.

The two brothers stared at each other with identical solemn expressions.

“See? Gianluca was crying because he knew you were sad. He already loves you.” As ridiculous as that should have sounded to a four-year-old, Paolo nodded in wonder, never taking his eyes off his brother. The strangest feeling washed over me, part excitement and part foreboding. I saw my children’s hearts open up to one another; but with love comes vulnerability. When you love someone else, his or her happiness becomes necessary in part for your own happiness. Sam, Paolo, Gianluca, and me: we are all linked to each other now. Whatever happens to one of us happens to us all. It’s scary and beautiful, this family business.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Six-Month Checkup

Last Friday Gianluca had his six-month checkup. I didn't have any concerns to discuss with the doctor, so Sam took him to the appointment, while I planned to stay home with him in the afternoon. Our baby is happy, relatively healthy, chubby, vocal, energetic: everything a six-month-old baby should be...or is he? When Sam pulled up at my office after the appointment, he looked like he'd been hit by a truck driven by his dead grandmother.

APPARENTLY, Gianluca's ears are infected, and the infection is so bad, his right eardrum ruptured. The doctor scooped out an ungodly amount of wax and crud from the ear canal while Sam watched in horror, and then prescribed an elephant-powerful antibiotic to kill the infection. During the excavation, the doctor was incredulous that we had not noticed the amount of pain our baby has been in.
ALSO, Luca fell off his growth curve, way off. He has gained only one pound in the last three months. That's a problem. Sam explained that we'd been trying to start Luca on solids, but he acts like he's not ready. He cries when he sees the spoon coming and spits out the food. "Keep trying," was the doctor's advice. We'll be mixing his organic rice cereal with lard from now on.
AND THEN, just to lay down the buttercream frosting on the Screw-Your-Parental-Confidence Cake, the doctor pointed out that Gianluca's teeth are coming in wrong. He's supposed to have two up-two down, but he has four on the bottom. Thanks, doc, that was necessary.

In conclusion, our seemingly sweet and content baby is actually suffering from a bubbling cesspool inside his head, starving to death, and possibly a mutant. Good to know.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This is not a love song.

I’m at the end of my music collection now, so I’m spinning the Various Artists and compilation discs. On my way back from lunch I was listening to a CD that I got with an issue of CMJ (College Music Journal) back in 1996. It took me a minute to figure out why I was rocking out, yet felt like I’d swallowed a bowling ball. Those familiar songs, like they always do, took me back to where I was when the music was new. I could see myself so clearly, stereo at top volume, letting the angry, yearning songs speak for me. I wish I could go back in time and tell that girl not to hurt so bad. Because that boy who is breaking her heart is going to marry her someday and give her two magnificent sons and will love her just as much as she wanted him to.

What would you tell your twenty-year-old self?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Crime Report Feb-Mar 2008

Feb 26 - 8:35 a.m. A man at Helping Hands, 320 Airport Road, reported they denied a man help on Monday, and he kicked the building, denting it.
Helping Hands is pretty selective for having an office in an aluminum lean-to.

3:22 p.m. A woman at 1877 Wheatland Ave. reported her husband’s 84-year-old mother trying to fight with them.
Never too old to BRING IT.

Feb 27 - 1: 06 p.m. A woman at 15789 Cow Face Road, Lowell, reported a front door left unlocked and an all-terrain vehicle, 18-foot trailer, computer, TV, and 10 bottles of perfume stolen.
Feb 28 - 7: 55 p.m. A man at 545 E. Whitefish Bay Place reported a burglary and 14 rolls of toilet paper and collector videotapes stolen.
These inventories are awesome in their total randomness. When did Girls Gone Wild become a collectors’ item?

8: 39 p.m. A manager at Burger King, 5660 W. Sunset Ave., reported receiving death threats via text message from a former employee.
UR DEAD. LOL. CUL8R.

March 4 - 3:10 p.m. A woman at 5409 Yellow Brick Road, Fayetteville, reported several youths with guns.
They represent the Lollipop Guild these days. They rule the streets in Munchkin Land.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Did your father put you up to this?

So Paolo has a new twin bed, thanks to Uncle Sam's returning all the tax dollars he tried to bleed from us last year. Paolo thought it was pretty sweet until I hopped in it with him to read books at bedtime. Then he realized his new bed rocks his face off. The morning after his first night in his new bed, he raced into my room shouting of my betrayal. When he fell asleep, I was in his room, and when he woke, I was not. And WTF is that all about?

"Paolo, there's not enough room for both of us to sleep there all night. I told you I was just going to read you books and later I'd go to my room. I told you that. Remember?"

"But there's enough room. We fit very good when we were reading books."

"Yes, but I need to come back to my room to take care of baby brother at night."

"We can put him in the middle. I'll be real careful and I won't even smush him."

"Paolo, then we'd definitely have too many people in your bed. We wouldn't all fit."

"Actually, you could get really skinny and then we could all fit."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I would not, could not, with a hippie.

Yesterday, Sam took the boys to the library for a celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday. And then today he suggested we join a commune. I think he got the idea off the side of a jar of organic peanut butter. While I will eat the nut butter products of the sun children, I will not live amongst them. Below is a list of random reasons I would make a terrible hippie.
  1. I do not want to milk anything. Ever. (Myself excluded, of course.)
  2. I do not want to make or wear rope sandals.
  3. I have a 401(k).
  4. I do not want someone else, of either gender, sleeping with my husband.
  5. I do not want to fertilize a garden with my own waste.
  6. My hair is not the right texture for dreadlocks.
  7. I want my children to learn more than hammock-weaving and animal husbandry.
  8. I do not like Kool-Aid.
  9. I am a terrible drummer.
  10. I do not want anyone besides myself to breastfeed my children.
  11. I do not look good in curtain.
  12. Jesus does not want me for a sunbeam. Trust me on this.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dead fish and wildflowers

Yesterday's "social hour" at work featured a cold appetizers menu of boiled shrimp, fresh strawberries, and pinwheel sandwiches. This morning the office smelled like a lake at low tide. Our intrepid* office manager, who had not bothered to rinse off the strawberries (which is neither here nor there, just gross), had failed to return last night to clean up, as promised. To remedy the situation, she emptied several cans of air freshener in and around the offensive conference room. When I walked past several minutes later, I inhaled so many chemicals I fear my reproductive health has been seriously compromised.

*I'm not sure what intrepid means, but I'm using it here to mean waste of a faux leather executive chair.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I get the feeling we've been here before.

After having a cold for six weeks, the baby got really sick the weekend before last. He ran a low fever, got good and congested and, my personal favorite, started having trouble breathing. I was up most of Sunday night and Monday morning giving him asthma medicine or sitting in a steaming bathroom. When he slept I remained vigilant, checking for blue lips and making sure he was asleep rather than unconscious, singing modified nursery rhymes, “Are you breathing, are you breathing / brother Gianluca, brother Gianluca?” I sent Sam off to the doctor with him the minute the clinic opened because I couldn’t get his breathing to a level I was comfortable with. I stayed home with Paolo for two reasons: I didn’t want him to pick up some foul illness from the waiting room, and he was scheduled to get fillings at noon.

I’d been dreading Paolo’s dentist appointment for weeks. Whenever I thought about it, my throat closed up and my stomach turned inside out. Remember, I had very good reason to expect the end of the world. I’d planned on getting all worked up Monday morning, surrendering myself to the black dread, before the appointment at noon. However, I was so fraught with images of Gianluca being hospitalized or having to wear an oxygen mask, I didn’t have as much worry to spare on poor Paolo. A person’s heart can only get so heavy.

Gianluca was diagnosed with a double ear infection and bronchiolitis, and prescribed three different medications, but the pediatrician assured Sam his condition wasn’t all that bad. His breathing was much deeper than it sounded, thanks to all the work we’d done prior to bringing him in. Hooray for us! Keeping Paolo from the grave during his first winter yielded a considerable store of experience, which appears to be paying off.

Now, on to Paolo. As noon approached, the sun was blotted out by a cloud of locusts. Not really, but that’s how hopeful I was feeling. Before we left the house, I overheard Sam tell Paolo that, if he went through with this, if he let the dentist do everything he needed to do, Paolo could go to the toy store and pick out anything he wanted. Anything. Before you shake your heads, you have to know Paolo. The promise of kingdom come will not mitigate the terror he feels at the dentist. Besides, Sam and I both knew the staggeringly bad odds those cavities had of getting filled, and Paolo isn’t greedy anyway. He ended up picking out a little Lego set. And, yes, that means he went through with it. I have never been prouder of my little boy, who isn’t so little anymore, not in my eyes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Knickerbockers

Melissa: Remember that time her son called, sobbing and distraught, because he couldn't find his knickerbockers and he had to go to dress rehearsal?

Me: Yeah, and she yelled at him for being such a wuss. God, he's never coming out of the closet.

Melissa: Not to his mom, he's not. What are knickerbockers anyway?

Me: They're like short-pants with suspenders, I think.

Melissa: Knee-pants?

Me: Yeah, knee-pants.

Melissa: So there are tights?

Me: Definitely tights.

...

Me: They're like pioneer leiderhosen.