Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No offense 21

As I was leaning over the sticky Fedex/Kinko's counter trying to explain the color wheel to an over-paid clerk, I overheard the Red Baron introducing herself to a fellow patron behind me:

"Hi, my name is The Red Baron (for the record, she doesn't call herself that) and I am 4 years old. This is my little brother, The Little Man (also this name is a blogging alias and not his real name - aren't I tricky?) and he's two and a half. That's my mom over there, her name is Pieface but I call her Mama. She's 21."

21!!!! How funny is that?

The woman, quietly but audibly gasped and then said really slowly, "WOW. Really? Well isn't that something."

I let the awkwardness hang a little (because it's kinda fun) and then leaned over and asked my fellow Fedex patron, "Did she just say I was 21?"

The woman, bless her poor little heart, replied, "Yes, and you know - it's great to get all this baby stuff out of the way like that."

"That's so funny, because I'm not really 21."

In the nicest tone possible she replied, "Oh. Well. You sure look like it."

I know she meant to compliment me, but oddly this compliment left a sickly sweet after taste like day old cotton candy. I actually like being my age. No offense to 21, you and I had some great times, but I'm on the 31 train now and it's got a slurpee machine and everything. I really think it's mostly because of how I feel physically and how good I feel about myself right now. I'm even thinking of renaming this blog "Pieface is Awesome for the Following Reasons." (KIDDING - sort of).

As I've gotten older, I have come to appreciate my physique for what it is and not pine so much for what it's not ever going to be. My body is eons from perfect, but the fact that I have come to accept certain things about myself feels like an accomplishment and being tagged as younge devalued that accomplishment somehow.

In the past 31 years I have learned and accepted things like:

Words like "small," "petite," or "delicate" will never be used to describe me. And that's ok.
Words like "solid," "carnivore," "stout," and (thanks to my Canadian and Norwegian ancestors) "most likely to survive an arctic winter" are words that would more likely describe me. And that's ok.
I have no memory of ever being a size 6. And that's ok.
My feet were size 9 in grade 4 and I could share shoes with my mom. And that's ok.
I have finger toes, not because I can play the piano with my feet (I'm not THAT awesome), but because my thumbs and my big toes are the same length. And that's ok.
I am blond, but not in Marilyn or Gwyneth kind of way. And that's ok.
The DMV decided that my eyes are hazel. And that's ok.
My face is shaped like a pie. And I love pie, so it's ok.
One time a dentist described my mouth as small, but then we had only just met. And that's ok.
The orthodontist told my mother that I would never be a model if she didn't pay for an expensive elective surgery to correct my overbite (right in front of my 14 year-old self). My mother's eye's grew so wide you could see the small little red veins in the corners and responded in a loud voice "Let's hope to God that she amounts to more than just a model!" Which was MORE than ok (isn't my mom rad?).

Nothing really earth shattering but I still feel proud of myself. I'm just so happy to be in a time and place in my life where physically I can just say "Here I am. I like me." Not to say that I don't compare myself to others (I am female after all) but I'm finding that more and more often I admire better things about people. I'm drawn to their wit, or humor, their intelligence or perseverance, their skill or their energy - things that last beyond time and spanks. This has come with getting older and (I think) seeing people more for who they are.

So I told the lady:
"That's very sweet, but really - I prefer 31 over 21 any day of the week."

Her palpable relief that I was indeed in my 30 was hilarious and she said, "Oh yes, your 30s are the best - enjoy every minute of them. And 40 is even better."

Got it sister. Sounds great.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If I go to medical school, I get to skip the first day

It was 04/14/10. A typical Wednesday evening; I was trying to make dinner and had sentenced the kids upstairs to their room while summoning my culinary muse (Martha Stewart with a dash of Cookie Monster). Sometimes (usually) my kids get a little rambunctious (foaming at the mouth monkeys) at that time of the afternoon while I'm calmly trying (loudly and failing) to get dinner made (waffles on the iron). Sometimes the needy distractions make me resort to gating them in their room. This was one of those nights. They were like adorable, frantic, little caged zoo animals and I briefly entertained slipping peanuts through the slats of the baby-gate. But I resisted and focused on the task at hand - Operation Dinner.

I was downstairs for approximately 4 seconds when I heard this shrill scream from my Little Man. And like any self-respecting mother, I decided to give it the 15 second test. The 15 second test is something I implement at least twice a day. I have seen my children get their fingers crunched in doors only to violently scream for a mere 15 seconds and then be distracted by something else.

Red Baron: AHHH!!! That kid bit me and broke the first 2 layers of skin on my face! SCHRIWLERIWNE!!! (13 seconds later) Is there any cheese?

So I waited. Fifteen seconds came and went and the screaming only got worse. I popped into high gear and bounded up the stairs to their room with the determined speed of "this better be good, I've got waffles on." At the top of the stairs sat a very judgmental Red Baron, with a knowing look in her eye, and a spastic red-faced Little Man, rolling around in agony.

Me: What's going on? What happened?
Red Baron: He's got a doll shoe up his nose and he can't get it out.
Me: ..... What.....?
RB: He's got a shoe up his nose and we can't get it out. (Turning to Little Man) I told you not to do that.

If I were to chart her concern at this very moment, I would say that she was about 10% concerned over his nasal peril, 40% disappointed that her doll shoe had sunk deep into his face and 40% annoyed he hadn't listened to her sage "don't-put-that-up-there" advice. I finally wrestled the Little Man into temporary stillness and realize he is practically elbow deep up his left nostril, still screaming. It's really difficult, but I can barely see the slightest trace of something. And it's WAY up there.

Me: Who's shoe is up there?
RB: Polly Pocket's.

DAMN THAT POLLY POCKET AND HER SLIMY LITTLE SHOES! I knew EXACTLY what shoe she's talking about - it was part of Polly's Dog Walking ensemble - a chartreuse high heeled pump (obviously). I myself heroically saved it from the vacuum several times and repeating the words "be careful with this or you'll lose it." But NO ONE EVER LISTENS TO MAMA, DO THEY!

I bring them both downstairs, Little Man still screaming and Red Baron acting smug. I try to extract said doll shoe with a bulb syringe, to no avail. I try to instruct him on blowing it out with a deep breath, but suddenly realized his 2 year-old mind doesn't see the difference between blowing out and breathing in, taking the offending shoe deeper into his cranium. I call the doctor's office, which is of course closed, and I leave a message with the call-back service.

Operator: What's the nature of your child's injury?
Me: He has a doll shoe up his nose and we can't get it out.
Operator: (Suppressing a rising chortle of laughter) Can you repeat that?
Me: He has a DOLL SHOE up his NOSE. And I can't get it out. It's really up there. (Screaming boy in the background).
Operator: Ok. (deep breath). Ummm... (serenity now, don't laugh). I'm sure they'll call you..... (I'm not going to keep this laugh down too much longer).... really soon.Goodbye.

The doctor did promptly call me back, also breathing in funny sequences after hearing the situation accompanied by continued screaming in the background that hadn't declined in volume or pitch I might add, and she said that we needed to take him to the ER because of potential breathing problems while Little Man slept.

I then asked,
"Are you sure? The ER? Really?"

Listen. It's not that I don't want him to breath. I really do like my kids breathing; in fact I prefer it. But the ER? Just seemed unnecessary. I pictured the Little Man's bulging nostril sitting next to the kid with a half-lodged fork in his arm, or someone on breathing tubes. Isn't going to the ER a little hasty? Dramatic? Embarrassing? What about the waffles?

"Yes," she assured me, even though I can feel her smile through the phone,"we just don't know how far it is up there and you should probably get him in pretty soon. It's not like it's a measly ear problem. If the shoe were in the ear you could totally wait until tomorrow's clinic hours."
I had not known of the hierarchy of such injuries. So I agreed and called the Husband Around Here to come home and assist me in these parental duties. Believe me, I really felt for Little Man. He was obviously really uncomfortable and pretty mad. But I also felt for myself too - having to trek everyone to ER, wait, pay and retell the story of the blasted Polly Pocket Shoe over and over again. Damn that Polly and her tiny little feet.

We get to the ER, and after retelling the story about 4 times (to the delight of everyone) we finally get on a gurney in the hallway with a real, live doctor.

Dr: This is going to be quick and easy. You'll be out of here in 5 mins. This is what we're going to do: you're going to form a tight seal around his mouth, while plugging the other nostril with your fingers, you will blow really hard. Like you're doing CPR.

I noted the proverbial "we" which really meant "me (aka Mama)" doing all the work here (I've heard that a time or two before). In coming to the ER, I expected some doctoring and that I would be off the hook. If I messed up, who would I sue?

Plus, for whatever reason, I just couldn't get my mind around what he was saying. It wasn't brain surgery (well.... maybe it kind of was, but anyway), I just could not compute what he was telling me. It might have been that my ears were still ringing from having a screaming kid on me for a while, but I just couldn't make sense of what he wanted me to do.

Me: .....What? I'm going to do what?
Dr: Form a tight seal.... have you taken a CPR class? (dumbing-it-down).

My brain wasn't registering any of this. CPR was for kids who aren't breathing.

Me: Yes.
Dr.: You're going to form a tight seal and blow really hard while plugging the other nostril and the object is going to come flying out. It's all connected up there (d'uh). If that doesn't work, we'll get the forceps. If those don't work, we'll operate.

What did I say about the ER being dramatic!! I'm so right!

Me: So.... I'm going to do it?
Dr.: Yes.
Me: Like. Right now?
Dr.: Yes. (Idiot).

By this time Little Man was finally calmed down and actually enjoying all this great attention. In fact, every time I told the staff what had happened, he would chime in at the very end with "Yah, is really up there!" It was adorable. But now Mama had to do the dirty work and get this dirty shoe nugget out of my kid's schnoz. I lean over, but had totally forgotten that I had gum in my mouth. I tried to hide it on the roof of my mouth out of embarrassment, but that resulted in a half-hearted effort. Nothing came out.

Dr.: Again!!

Surging with his can-do attitude, I spat my gum out the side of my mouth, catching it in my left hand, and blew in Little Man's mouth with ferocity. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flying wad of chartreuse digustingness land somewhere on the other side of the gurney.

It totally worked. I did it. Call me Mama, MD. Is it strange to say this flying, slimy hunk of plastic bounced it's way into my top 5 most proud motherhood moments?

I was beaming.

Dr.: Would you like to keep this? (Lifting up Polly's dirty little secret).
Me.: I don't know, do you think it would fit in his baby book?
Dr.: (You're a freak).

For the record, the doctor was really great and I was glad to know this non-invasive procedure for future reference. And I'm considering the total bill as the down payment towards my medical school tuition, should I ever choose to attend. But I'm totally going to skip the day they cover nose obstruction, since I'm already an expert.

*This posting is dedicated to Jenner. Thanks for asking.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Man with a Passion for Fashion

As I was getting my gas pumped at the gas station (I live in Oregon), the pumper-person* had this really big ring in his nose, a la bull. Let me be frank - he was very nice with great customer service; however the ring looked a little ....... ill-kept. And greasy. In all the wrong ways. As a pumper-person it's totally understandable to have grease on your fingers. Grease on your nose ring?


After the pumper-person assisted me, the Red Baron leans over and quietly says: "What was that?"
"What, honey?"
"That metal thing. Hangin' from his nose." (She looked alarmed - like this thing came hurtling out from inside his head while sneezing and got caught on his betweener nostril skin)
"Oh. That's decoration."
"Yeah. He put it there and it's kind of like.... jewelry."
"Oh. (pause) Jewelry?"
"Yeah. Jewelry."

I've never thought of those kinds of rings as jewelry, but it was really the only way to describe why and what he was wearing. And I guess that to an extent, it's totally accurate. I just never mentally placed that kind of guy in the "flare for accessories" category. Until now, that is.


Photo courtesy of the National Education Network of the UK website. What are they teaching those kids over there?

*Pumper-person is WAY more descriptive than Gas Jockey. There is no one riding the gas - thus completely not a jockey. LONG LIVE THE PUMPER-PEOPLE!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

House-keeping Items

Have you ever walked into a room where everyone else was speaking another language but you? And when that room erupts into laughter, you wonder:

Are they talking about me?

Does someones breath smell?

Do they think my breath smells?

Does my breath smell?

Does anyone have some gum? Or a dinner mint?

If I start laughing along too, will they know I don't know what they're talking about and laugh harder at the irony that I'm laughing about my own *potentially* stinky breath and then when I laugh harder they all stop and just stare at me as I quietly back out into the carport?

I'll even take a teaspoon of Cinnamon at this point? Anyone?

See what I'm getting at? Speaking in a language that isolates others isn't ideal. So when there are comments posted to this blog in languages that I don't know, I get a little ..... anxious.

How could they possibly smell my breath? This is a flippin' computer!!!

So, since this is my blog and I'm the boss, we're speaking in English. That's just how it's going to be. I refuse to be isolated in my own blog. Please feel free to leave messages in English. However, messages in other languages will be deleted. I've felt the need to make this policy because of the volume of comments that are being posted in languages that I don't know. Some of you might argue that 3 comments does not a "volume" make, but I care about each little bit of my itty-bitty blog and this is how I'm going to take care of it. Because I'm nothing but responsible. And paranoid.

That is all.

Goodnight and good luck.

*For the record: I don't have a breath/stink problem, I merely used this purely hypothetical situation that would apply to many, if not most people, at some point in their lives to illustrate my angst. Not that having stinky breath is bad. It's not. And I'm sure Cinnamon does help. I mean, why wouldn't it. But I have no real facts or data to back that up. Because why would I, since I don't have a stinky breath problem.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm Just a Girl in the World

It has become apparent that I am, and will continue to be, raising a girl (ie. the Red Baron) and I'm a little freaked out by this fact. Maybe "freaked out" isn't the right term. A more accurate description would be that I have stared right into the depths of female turmoil and shuddered to my very soul. Not to be mildly dramatic or anything (YES I SAID MILDLY!).

The Red Baron has discovered her reflection in the mirror within a social context. This is freaky psycho-analytical/social commentary stuff I'm getting into. Dust off you text books people!! This is about to get CRAZY in here!

This is how it went down:

While in the bathroom and she looked in the mirror and shockingly exclaimed "Oh no Mama!! My hair!! I look terrible! I can't look like that!" in this disgusted, frantic little voice with flailing hands trying to smooth the fuzzies out of her golden strawberry hair (which, for the record, looked perfectly fine). After much fussing, she parted her hair way over on the side and then looked back in the mirror and assured herself "Oh that's so much better! Look how beautiful I am now."



Are we related? Please note the pictures below of me and my best friend, Da Bangs after rolling out of bed one morning. I don't really worry about fly-aways and certainly never thought I would spawn a child that would worry about them at 3 years old.

Look - I've known I would be raising a daughter since that precious ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation. She was the cutest little gummy-bear girl fetus I ever beheld. But I've only now realized that I was raising A GIRL and all the girly anxiety that goes with it. I vividly remember the insecurities and emotional stress that I endured in relation to my appearance and the ups and downs that go hand-in-hand with being a girl. Who am I kidding by speaking in the past tense? These insecurities roared their ugly heads yesterday when I started to sweat justthinking about going bathing suit shopping. Sometimes I feel like I barely made it through thegirly gauntlet on my own behalf - how am I supposed to show this little tyke how it's done when I can't seem to figure it out myself?

Back to the bathroom - in this little scene I was completely dumbfounded. It was practically an out-of-body experience. Everything got very quiet - like the weight of this pivotal teaching moment pressed down on us all - I needed to say or do something that would put beauty and appearances in context for the rest of her life. I swear even the berry flavored toothpaste grew eyes and was just starring at me. Waiting. For something.

Please don't get me wrong - I do try to and enjoy looking nice - but I've told myself that I was above emphasizing appearances. That they didn't matter to me - a practical non-issue. But this little bathroom episode has changed all that. Because the Red Baron spends approximately 98% of her waking hours with me, and if she's scrutinizing her looks, than it's because she's seen me do it. And I had promised myself that the traits I would hand down to my posterity would be hooked elbows and finger toes. But the Red Baron didn't get my finger-like toes - she got something bigger (reference - I have size 11 feet). Instead she inherited.......



Suddenly I realized - it's started. The worrying, the primping, the plucking, the picking, the stressing, the plumping, the pinching, the tweezing, the brushing, the trimming, the waxing (ouch), the shaving, the "do these pants make my butt look big?"-ing. All of it. It's begun. And she's 3.

"You know what?" I said, shakily, "I think you look just right, exactly how you are."

Would that be enough? Would that put the diva-talk away and in it's place a re-prioritizing of values? Would this make her want to be smarter instead of prettier? Would this inspire self-appreciation instead of self-degradation? My mind was racing with less than helpful thoughts like "Who do you think you are, showing someone how to be a girl? You're a terrible girlPIEFACE!" I held my breath.

"Oh. Ok. Let's go sing Jingle Bells."

And like that, it was over.

Obviously she gets her dramatics from her dad.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday To My #1 Fan

May is a big month. Mother's Day, numerous birthdays (including a husband), memorial day, and anniversaries all land on this celebratory month and to be completely honest, I'm not very good at remembering them all. It's not that they aren't important, it's that my brain isn't what it once was (it could be argued that I've never been a great remember-er of significant days, even at my brainiest moments - but let's not argue during such a happy month, k?). It's a big month. Like the biggest month. Think of the biggest thing you can think of, and then name it May. (In case you were wondering, I thought of an elephant pregnant with triplets). (SIDE NOTE - elephants are pregnant for 22 months at a time and their babies weigh 250 lbs). (I don't think this huge elephant named May should be pregnant with quadruplets, because, I mean, like get real). But this year, May is even a little more special because along with all the other fanfare, I celebrate the birthday of my #1 fan.

I would be remiss to neglect this special occasion after all the things we've been through, me and my #1 fan. My life, my whole being would be so different had we never met. My heart is full thinking of all the things we've survived together - all the late nights, early mornings, good times and bad. "Through thick, and thin," or so the saying goes. With this in mind, I would like everyone to raise a glass to toast my friend, my rock, my constant companion:

To my Bangs!!

Happy Birthday Bangs! May you continue to be my favorite part of my face and the most surprising part of my morning.

May Heidi Klum continue to inspire us both and may we continue to avoid self-maintenance.

Long live the Bangs!!

So just keep in mind that if you're ever having a bad day - just go birth you some bangs. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This is How We Dance in a Hazelnut Grove

I challenged myself to post something under 100 words. But if pictures are worth a thousand words, than I have failed miserably because these say so much about my girl.