Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pieface Origins

I feel like it's time for me to disclose the origins of Pieface.

It was the fall of 1985. I was 6 years old and in grade one (aka I'm Canadian). I loved school, but my favorite part was to wander around the playground, stirring up action. You know the elementary school type action: pushing kids into the rope pit, pretending to know how to play street hockey and making the boys let me play, chasing anyone that would run in front of me, etc. Nothing malicious or destructive, just active and busy. And as I remember it, I was kind of a lone wolf. Not that I didn't have friends, but being only 6, I was completely ignorant that you were supposed to have a posse and didn't know that in being alone you were indeed lonely. I think that's a learned trait.

It was during one of those recess rants that my path crossed a certain boy, let's call him Ronald (in the name of protecting the not-so-innocent). Ronald was also stirring up the pot and to be honest, I can't remember what transpired, but I must have done something to really get his goat because the next thing that happened has etched itself into my memory ever since. He looked at me for awhile, and yelled at the top of his lungs "Your face looks like a pie!! You're a PIEFACE!!" and ran off like a scared little school girl (ironic). I suppose a posse would have been useful right here.

I just stood there in shock. I quickly looked around, expecting to see someone right behind me smeared with blueberries or maybe a fancy lattice dough pattern tattoo. But no. I was the only one there. I remember feeling my face get really hot. The bell rang and I went back into the class room, only thinking one thing: is looking like a pie a bad thing? Because if it is, Ronald better run fast because he doesn't know what he was dealing with. I knew how to be scrappy because I have 3 older brothers and they were big (ages 8,10,11). We went to different elementary schools at the time, but I figured this worked to my tactical advantage. Ronald wouldn't know what to do when I showed up to school with my very own cavalry. Plus I had a little sister who was 4 at the time, who could scream louder than anyone I ever knew, so if the boys couldn't finish the job, than surely she could do some damage. And when I say "finish the job" and "damage" I mean give him a rub-burn on his forearm or any other fiendish acts my siblings had in their arsenal.

By the time I got home and sat down for dinner my bravado was completely depleted. Who was I kidding? Someone out there thought my face looked like a pie, and even my 6-year old psyche knew that this was not a high rung on the ladder of social acceptability. In fact, it was like the gum on the bottom of the shoe of the kid that was trying to crawl up the ladder in his double leg casts. My dad noticed that something was wrong and asked me what happened at school. As I told everyone the story, tears started sliding down my cheeks and by the end of it I was sobbing the words "heeeee...... c-c-c-called me... PIEFACE!" completely devastated. The table was silent. I regained my composure, expecting the war-cry and call to arms that would inevitably ensue.

It didn't.

The pause lasted longer than I expected. Then there was a muffled snort. Then heavy breathing, the kind that someone labors through to keep themselves from bursting out in hysterics. Then came the hysterics. My dad, bless his itty-bitty character-building little heart, said "well....he.... might be onto something." And at this point the whole table erupted. I would like to think that maybe I saw the humor in this funny little scene as well, but I'm sure at this point I unleashed my elbow hits to my brothers' ribs instead. Hey, don't judge, I was 6.

So my family started calling me Pieface (and "Evil Elbow"). I hated it at first. But this story has become part of our family legend and as I have heard this story re-told over and over again, I learned the important lesson that to laugh at yourself is healing, even when things are hard to laugh at. This story also reminds me that deep down I still have a feisty, independent, taking-matters-into-her-own-hands little girl is ready to throw some elbows for her cause. And I like that. So I wear my Pieface proudly, for everyone to see. Because, in my experience, very few people can say no to pie.

As for Ronald, he never met Pieface on the playground ever again. He may have had some run-ins with Evil Elbow but my memory is a little fuzzy on those events (in the name of protecting the not-so-innocent).

* I have tried to scan a picture of the original 6 year old Pieface, to accompany this post, but have had very little luck. I promise to produce photographic evidence and we can take a poll on whether you too think that Ronald really was on to something.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wife of the Year

So, I had a couple extra minutes the other day, and thought "Pieface, you should do something nice for the man in your life." See, he was having a hard day and everything seemed a little bleak. And I know that when I have a hard day, a little extra attention, a thoughtful gesture, a reassuring word or a fully cooked ham is all I need to get me through the tough moments. The next problem would be what do to? What could help his mood and lift his spirit? Should I make him something? Would he like a new outfit? How about if I send him out of the house with a book and "free time?" My brain came up with all these really fantastic answers and all these incredible ideas, but I realized they were all things that I wanted and not what HE would want.

And finally it dawned on me. The perfect, most excellent thing I could do for him, and it was shockingly simple.

So, I shaved my legs.

I don’t want you, dear Pieface reader, to think that I take my hygiene lightly or that I’m not a fan of shaved legs because that would be false. I’m a huge fan of shaved legs, and love the feeling and look of them immensely. My problem is that they require some time and effort which are in short supply these days (what with my new blogging responsibilities and all). Also, with the turning of seasons, and the pants being dusted off and pulled to the front of the closet again, shaved legs seem as useful as a calculator watch (don’t tell me you have forgotten all about the calculator watch!). In fact, unshaven legs are very useful in providing that extra layer of heat padding for those especially brisk days. Who in their right mind wouldn't want an extra layer of heat padding? Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? But this perspective isn't quite the view the man in my life takes. It's not that he wants me to be cold or anything ridiculous like that. Nor does he even really care if my legs are shaved or not (or that he really has a choice in the matter). I just know that it's something that I can do, like a nice little gesture to show him:

"Hey you.. yeah, you in the back, next to the Doritos... I know you care about this, and even though I don't really care about it, I care about it today because you care about it."

So there you have it. Shaved legs.

Don't say I never did anything for you, honey!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Hope That This Never Happens To You

You know the feeling when you find a fantastically priced house in the perfect neighborhood, with all the right schools and the gorgeous parks? It's like you've hit the jackpot. But they never tell you about that one strange neighbor .... with a problem... until it's way. too. late.

It all started like any other quiet, stay-at-home evening in the Finnegan household.

A family dinner,

Mrs. Finnegan and little Fanny watching Battlestar Galactica,

and Mr. Finnegan and young Barkley doing some sudoku,

but they couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right.

It was as though they were being watched somehow.

"...RUN FANNY!...."

They tried to escape, but they were really no match.
A criminal investigation was conducted where a suspicious piece of downy hair was found with a trace of tuna fish residue. The authorities haven't been able to question the Finnegan's neighbor, Crazy Eye Mishi, who coincidentally didn't report in for duty at her job down by the docks that night. Neither the Finnegans, nor Crazy Eye, were ever seen or heard from again.

*No dolls were harmed in the staging of this post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Red Baron's First Solo Flight

The Red Baron has officially entered the system and had her first day of preschool (coincidentally on Tuesday, aka my 30th birthday). Never in the history of preschool students has there been a kid with higher expectations and anticipation. She has been asking to go to preschool since she turned 2 years old (I didn't start taking it personally for a good 6 months) and would practice leaving to go to preschool on a daily basis. We found out she got into our favorite preschool in June, and she has asked me a minimum of 4 times a day since "can I PLEASE go to preschool today?" like it was something I was willfully withholding from her.

And preschool has come at a high price too - the toll being that she had to be potty trained. Anna used her iron will in this instance and was so determined to go to preschool come hell or high urine, that she made the potty training happen on her own. Well, that and a jar of jelly beans, but since they're only 4 calories each we don't really count them.

Next came the outfit, and most importantly a backpack. I'm embarrassed to say that I shopped in more stores for Anna's backpack for preschool than I did for my own wedding dress. We made her special hair-band, bought glowing Tinkerbell shoes, searched Craigslist for the best "first day of preschool outfit" (my wallet has a moral dilemma against buying new clothes for my kids other than at Target) and performed what we hope to be an annual back to school fashion show the night before the big day. I was exhausted by the whole preschool ordeal and kept having preschool-related nightmares and found myself gazing into space wondering how healthy the other kid's snacks will be, what might happen if she kills the class guinea pig (by accident of course) and other equally important and meaningful thoughts.

So the day came and after tiring her completely by photographs, we all took her to school. Since she's never been in daycare before, I was a little anxious how she would handle our first parting. She walked in, found her cubby and turned and said, "Ok, bye guys." and started painting. Chad turned to me and said, "Did you hear that?" and I was in total shock. My baby just left ME at preschool like it was no big deal. The teachers handed us a little parting gift (complete with tear-inducing poem and Kleenex) and we were suddenly back in the car, completely dejected, relieved and stunned.
I looked in the back seat to find the Little Man, having lost his playmate and best friend for the morning, looking like this:

She could have had at least cried for a minute or shed a small tear, right? But she was nothing but excited and ready to tell everyone who the real boss was and that these "teachers" were merely ornamental in function and that the buck stops with her, as we heard her telling the teachers it wasn't time to clean up, she wasn't finished with her water colors yet. I have to say, hearing that interchange helped me leave a little less sad.

When I picked her up after, she was so sad to leave preschool. She looked at me and her whole body deflated as if to say, "Really? You again?" A trip to Burgerville for a celebratory berry smoothie solved that problem, and she's been wearing her backpack ever since.

The Proud Dada
A Very Proud Pieface

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting Into the Birthday Spirit

In our house, birthdays are celebrated like Hanukkah (for the record we're not Jewish) - it's long lasting, filled with fun and total disregard for the suggested daily caloric intake. And this birthday was no exception. It all started with a meeting Chad had with a new client, a karaoke joint called "Voice Box" downtown on last Friday night. He suggested that I bring the kids down at about 7:15 to do some good old fashioned family karaoke. You would think that the odd client meeting time (what client is meeting you on Friday night?), or overly specific arrival time would have tipped me off, but if Chad knows one thing about me it's that when talking karaoke I don't ask questions, I just show up with my game face on. So I'm heading into the Voice Box and as he's giving me a quick little mini-tour, I pass by this room, and all of these people jump up and yell "SURPRISE!" which made me almost throw up in my mouth. My poor Little Man, who was on my hip at the moment, completely froze in place and his inner-thigh muscles didn't let go of my side for about a half hour after the initial surprise. After assessing that my toddler wasn't going into cardiac arrest, my first thought was "how nice of Chad's client to let him throw me a surprise party." That is how convinced I was at his story. It took some time, but finally I realized that this party was thrown under this "client" guise.

This is the same guy who shows me my Christmas presents every year weeks in advance. How did he pull this off? Then I remembered a conversation that we had a while back, where we jointly decided not to have a big birthday parties for each other this year, because of schedule, budget, etc. I remember agreeing, but feeling a little disappointed because I like me a good partay! I realized that Chad was paying close attention AND listening to my disappointment, and as a result he threw me a surprise party, doing one of my favorite things - KARAOKE. Too many highlights to list, but two stand-out performances were: The Red Baron doing the worm along the floor under the disco lights, and the Little Man singing back-up for about a solid hour, because I couldn't wrestle the second microphone from his sticky little hands. And of course Chad's performance of "Sweet Child of Mine" brings a tear to my eye, as it always does. It was a great night, and I've been thinking about it ever since. Thanks folks for letting me monopolize the microphone and for putting up with my performance starved family.

My man can SANG! Little Man and Red Baron waiting patiently to have a turn doing "yoky."

Can you feel it? Sure you can.

If it's possible, it gets better. My other birthday present was given yesterday (Tuesday - my official birthday) and is a FREE DAY where I get to LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT KIDS and will return to a clean house, all by the heroic efforts of my husband. This is epic. Which proves that Chad was listening to me when I said "You know the best present would be 3 hours by myself with 50$" (a hint I dropped several months ago). I suppose I've been priming the birthday pump for quite a while.

To recap - I got a night of sweet karaoke tunes, a free day all to myself and a husband that listens, which is probably the best birthday gift of all. Which also means that this birthday is stretching to Saturday (my free day). So HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! Mazel Tov!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mental Organizing

My mind has had lots to think about lately, and I've been able to compartmentalize all my thoughts into specific categories. So here they are, in tidy, little, lists with labels and everything:

Category 1 - The Mundane
"That laundry pile is getting bigger and bigger. Oh well."
"I don't suppose that fridge will clean itself. Oh well."
"That kid probably needs a diaper change. Oh well."

Category 2 - The Trivial
"I wonder what's happening on Facebook right now?"
"Better check my email again."
"I wonder what's happening on Facebook right now?"

Category 3 - The Deep
"I was at the Twin Towers one month before 9/11."
"I took the bus to and from the Pentagon every morning and evening for 3.5 months during the summer of 2001."
"I became an American citizen on August 14th, 2001."
"It could have been me."
"It could have been any of us."
"It wasn't."
"This country was united then."
"This country isn't united now."
"Why do we have to have an enemy to unite?"

Category 4 - The Optimistic
"I hope things get better."
"Maybe I'll make cookies this afternoon."
"If I have to hear one more crazy loud-mouth verbally spew about health care, I'm moving to Canada."
"Chad can clean the fridge."

I'm really good at hypothetical/philosophical/metaphorical organizing. My mind is really the only part of me that does that (organize). Some of my best mental organizing skills were learned by the GOP during the recent Presidential elections. If we could all put our thoughts/actions into the "The Terrorists Win" category or the "The Terrorists Lose" category, we can't really go wrong.
For example, "I want to create a training camp in my basement." (Terrorists Win)
"I want to get along with my neighbor." (Terrorists Lose)

It's really easy. So, tonight as you are thinking your mundane, trivial, deep and optimistic thoughts, let it all lead you to where the Terrorists will lose the most. As for me, I'm going to a karaoke joint, because I'm pretty sure they would HATE that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Lesson from Hemingway

A new favorite lately is listening to Writer's Corner on NPR, where I recently heard that Hemingway once wrote a story in 6 words. It reads: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." and is acclaimed as being one of his greatest works. I have never been concise in my writing and I'm even worse in my speech, but if I were to write the story of today in few words, it would probably go something like this:

"One dozen Krispy Cremes, totally inadequate."


"Where are you now Super Nanny?"


"I'll give you something to scream about."

Forgive me on the superfluous word on the last one. Today was one of those days. Cheers to tomorrow, because it couldn't get any louder than today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Long Live the Skinny Hero!

I didn't go to the spa or do anything luxurious. I gave blood on a Red Cross bus and had a GREAT time! Really. But I should explain, because let's be honest, it's a little weird to be so enthused about giving blood, and it's not something I've ever been very eager to do. Until now, that is.

Yesterday was a great holiday, except that holidays ruin your inner calendar. It felt like Saturday, which produced a REALLY big nap right in the middle of the afternoon, which in turn ruined my night's sleep. Between 10:30 pm and midnight I had gone to the grocery store, switched the car seats, cleaned the kitchen, made Chad's lunch, flipped the laundry, and unfortunately, was still bright eyed and bushy tailed.

So, I turned to my old loyal friend Facebook to entertain and tucker me out. Facebook and I understand each other. It's a selfish relationship really, but Facebook doesn't mind. She feeds my need for social interaction, busy-bodying, and internet snooping and doesn't ask anything in return. I like that. She's like your favorite Aunt; the one that you tell your quasi-secrets to and you think she's not going to tell them to anyone, and instead she tells them to everyone. But you don't get annoyed at her because she bakes you a cake with pictures of weddings and other people's babies, and funny sayings that don't mean anything, and all is forgiven. You can't help but forgive her and like her.

So I'm with my friend Facebook, and I get instant messaged by my wonderful neighbor. Before I know it, I've committed to going to a 4:30 appointment to donate blood. She's a social marketing genius and set up this smoke screen of free babysitting (provided by her wonderful daughter) and cookies in order to get me in her charity trap. Knowing that those are my two greatest needs these days, she went for the kill. I'm lucky she didn't ask for a kidney or a baby for the black market, because with the promise of those two things I probably would have given in to just about anything. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to demand a stack of People Magazines, which she quickly conceded to, and I was committed. In blood.

I have to admit - after a long night of poor to no sleep, giving blood was not at the top of my busy list today. But dutifully I went.

As I'm sitting down to give my medical history, the wonderful nurse says to me "You're a hero today. If you do this, you will save 3 lives." Now, I'm used to saving lives, but it's the same two lives, over and over again. Traffic, choking, bath-time, intussusception, wrestle mania - you name it. My kids are constantly on the track leading them to mortal danger, and sometimes I'm the only thing standing in their way. So saving 3 mystery lives was quite novel to me. Next the wonderful nurse asks me my weight by guessing. Usually this doesn't go my way. But her words are etched in my mind, and might make an appearance on my tombstone "you're what ... 135?" So now I'm a hero AND 135 pounds? You have got to be kidding me!! Could this day get any BETTER? My brain was reeling so much from hearing such a low number that I made the mistake of correcting her!! WHY ON EARTH DID I DO THAT? I could have reveled in the idea that someone thought me so slender, and who knows, maybe even convinced myself that it was true and start telling my dear friend Facebook all about it.

People magazines in hand, I float into the Red Cross bus on cloud nine, to give life-saving nectar to those who really need it, aka I'm a hero. My phlebotomist turns out to be this HUGE guy, who starts to tease me, by saying "Do me a favor: grab a ziplock bag and stick yourself will ya?" at which I start laughing long and hard. No one is going to ruin this mood of mine - didn't he hear? I'm a skinny hero. My obnoxious laughter put him in a better mood and he proceeded to prep and stick my arm with real caution. I hardly felt a thing, and sat pumping my blood into a bag, reading deliciously about John and Kate plus 8 (I couldn't help it - it's like a train wreck or anything with Pauly Shore - you just have to see it to believe it) and before I know it they said I'm done and wrap up my arm.

Next came the cookies: morsels of peanut-buttery, chocolate-fudgy goodness (there were oatmeal raisin cookies, but I leave those for the diabetics). Was that it? I'll give blood every week if this is how it goes down.

So please people - be a skinny hero. It's awesome. I would know.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Getting ready for the weekend

Spent the day cleaning the house and training the domestic help. So draining.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Red Baron In All Her Fineness

The ruling-class never really gets much privacy. However, she doesn't seem to mind. This is where she does her best work.

Now this picture begs the question - is it emotionally abusive to post a picture of your child learning to potty-train on the Internet? There's nothing really scandalous about it, except for the hint of toilet paper holder, but is this crossing a line of decency? If it is, I truly apologize, and I vow to send my children to the best therapist my husband's money can buy. But until the results of this unofficial pole are tallied (and please don't feel obligated to respond in anyway), we'll just enjoy her Highness' latest legislation and call it good.