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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Story of the Baloney Sandwich

I have a bad taste in my mouth today. Mostly because I saw a kid be slightly mean to my best girl, and I didn't like it. Even the most minty fresh gum isn't going to rinse this nagging, day-old bread residue out of my saliva glands.

Can you even imagine someone being mean to this face (and yes, that is a tooth flosser in her hair, thank you for asking)? It wasn't a big deal and the funny thing is that it wasn't the actual insensitive act or bossing that bothered me so much. What really got my goat was the Red Baron's reaction to it. She was so submissive and repentant, when I really just wanted to see her hold her ground and counter a little bit. This wilting girl was not the Red Baron that I know. If I had been the one to demand and boss, she would have shrieked, flung her arms, pointed her toes and turned a deep shade of purple. No one tells the Red Baron what to do. Except little, itty, bitty 7 years olds, apparently. Those protective instincts just flared right up in me and left this ugly feeling that I imagine echos any loss of control.

Now, if it was this face:

being mean to this face:

I would only consider it sibling rivalry and no big deal. But it was an outsider. And that just irked me to no end. I worry about the Red Baron. A lot. Is she going to be able to defend herself when the time comes? Have I stifled her sense of self and made her just another sheep following the herd with all my "good listening" encouragement and being mama's little helper? Am I equipping her with the tools to deal with people who might not have her best interests at heart? Am I forgetting that she's only 3 years old and I need to let go of the "what ifs" and focus on the smaller, more immediate things like counting in sequence to 20 and getting her shoes on the correct feet? Lots of stuff rattling the old upstairs hamster wheel, I assure you.

Then tonight at dinner the Red Baron started playing her favorite game - "Tell me a story about when you were little." At first this game was really fun. It's great strolling down memory lane, reminiscing about a simpler time (the 80's) and how life used to be before email and twitter. But eventually I actually ran out of stories. I started to repeat myself, but the Red Baron would have none of it. She demands fresh material and with a wave of her tiny hand, will proclaim "Mama, you've already said this one. I want a different one."

So I was racking my brain for any loose tidbits I could stretch into a decent story for this demanding little dictator and my better half said "Tell the story about the baloney sandwich." This story was so buried in my deeper psyche that I just didn't respond to him in the hopes that he would just forget what he had just said and we could move on to another topic. This story is so etched in my being I can still feel, taste, touch and hear every sensory element of that day. But with his persistence ("Hey!? Can you not hear me? I think you should tell the baloney sandwich story!") I took a deep breath and dutifully told her the story of the baloney sandwich.

It was a sunny day in grade 8 and I had just gotten off the school bus and had quickly gotten some distance to the bottom of the short hill toward a path that led to my street. I heard the rush of the air compression brakes as the bus pulled away from the curb and continued down the hill towards where I was walking. I was safely on the sidewalk, but the bus would pick up speed and come right past me as it continued it's route. Now, it was full with Jr. High students and you could hear the general ruckus that accompanies a bus full of teenagers on their post-scholastic high. I could feel the bus coming closer and closer, and knew that soon it would pass me and leave that thick gush of air that gets in your face, crowding you eyes, nose and mouth with dust and exhaust fumes. But this time was different. Because along with dust and fumes, I heard this obnoxiously loud slapping noise. I knew I hadn't been shot, because supposedly you never hear the shot with your name on it. But such is not the case with mystery meats. This slapping sound was so loud, it startled and disoriented me at first and I looked around to see what had happened. I glanced to my right. There was nothing. I tried to glance toward my left, but couldn't because my view was obstructed by this sticky, soggy mass. I peeled it off only to find an open-faced baloney sandwich, filled with mayo, plastered to the side of my head and face. I looked up at the bus right in time to see about a thousand eyes looking back at me and hear a roaring explosion of laughter trail ahead of me, leaving me in it's wake. There I stood, alone in the world and smelling of week-old baloney. Maybe older.

The Red Baron thought this story was hilarious. Almost like a "why didn't I think of that" kind of moment. But it was good for me to stroll down this murky memory lane and remember that without harder times, we wouldn't have a chance to rise above and fulfill our whole potential. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, that sandwich helped me to see what I was really made of. Because even though it was tempting to never step foot on that bus ever again, I still did it. Even though it was tempting to change my name and get a face-transplant, I continued to answer to and don my Pieface. Probably no one remembers that story except for me. Though, part of me would love to listen to the person at my 20-year high school reunion that starts off the conversation with "Dude, remember when we threw that sweet sandwich at that unsuspecting girl? That was the best day of my life." And if my baloney sandwich is the crowning jewel to someones high school experience, I can't take that away from them. I am not cruel (even though I picture this person surfing questionable Internet dating sites while donning a Taco Bell vest).

I still won't go near baloney. Even I can tell you that the stuff is nasty, and none of it even entered my mouth. Thank heavens my ears don't have taste buds.

So I hope that the Red Baron never gets publicly hit with rotten sandwich meat, but since I know she will be at the receiving end of other people's insensitivity at some point (or many), I hope that she faces those hardships head on and stretches to see what she's truly made of. Perhaps one day she'll be recounting her smelliest, most degrading and humiliating stories to a Red Baron of her very own and realized that she too triumphed over some ugly situations.

And this makes me smile. Because I'm pretty sure she's going to be just fine.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm a Social Marketing Genius

When I was pregnant the first time around, a friend gave me a book called "How To Con Your Kid." Which excited me to no end. I had read/skimmed plenty of parenting books/magazines and was left confused and scared. Words like "family bed" and "attachment bonding" were dancing in my head, and I realized that what I needed was a book that would just tell me, straight up, how to get my kid to do what I want them to do. Case closed. I hoped that the loving, attachment and bonding would come naturally and it did. But getting a kid to do what I wanted? I was as clueless as the next blubbering pregnant woman.

I didn't really read that book until the Red Baron was about a year old, which is when the real dissension started to happen. Some call it "the terrible twos" and the reason, I think, is because that's the age when the kid starts to think they are smarter than their parents. This goes dormant, for some, at about school age and then comes back like plague of grass-hoppers at about 12 or 13. Unfortunately for me, the seeds of superior thoughts started at approximately 10 months old for the Red Baron. This became obvious when at about 11 months old I gave her her lunch, and she threw her arms in the air and said "You gotta be kidding me!" Like a servant scorned, I just stammered and give excuses "Honey... but you like cheese, remember?.... and the strawberries were in season - remember how you like strawberries?" Talk about handing over the reigns, right? I knew this had to end - I couldn't be stripped of my dignity as routinely as one would change their socks. Since I had kissed my waistline, hair, brain, punctuation, punctuality and privacy goodbye, my dignity was about all I had left. "Stand up!" I told myself, "Stand up and be a Mom!"

So I broke out the book and started to read.

But this book, though clever and creative, wasn't quite what I needed to take back the control and "con my kid." It told me to cut my kids hair while they slept (sounds like a disaster to me) or sing songs called "eat the peas" to the tune of "Let it be" by the Beatles. Again - very sweet, but they didn't know who I was dealing with. This girl has the pipes of a banshee and a will of iron. She wasn't going to eat the peas even if I juggled 20 of them in one hand while singing Handel's Messiah on a unicycle with my eyes closed. Eat your own dang peas.

Then one night, I was making pulled pork (the BEST stuff for tacos, burritos, sandwiches, you name it) and in trying to get the Red Baron to eat it I called it "meat candy." As soon as the word "candy" was out of my mouth, a Social Marketing Genius was born within me (of course it doesn't hurt that there's a cup of brown sugar in the recipe). You put the word "candy" in any menu name and your kid will eat it. The Red Baron wolfed down the pork, and was begging for more. "Meat candy please!" was like music to my ears and a band-aid to my wounded parenting ego. I'm going to try to sell them on "asparagus candy" tonight so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Then last month I got a gym membership and knew I would need to really sell the in-house daycare idea to The Little Man, who would be going in alone. I was a little worried there would be some fireworks, but I laid down the ground work and told him that after dropping The Red Baron off at preschool, he would be going to "Playschool" where he would meet friends, play with toys and have general fun and shenanigans. So we walked in, and he marched over to the admitting desk and said "Hey Friends! I'm here!" and didn't take a sideways glance at me ever after. It was almost magical.

So you can see why I think I might be onto a second career here, right? Social Marketing expert for toddlers? Sounds great to me. Anything to keep me off that unicycle.

The Red Baron from her command central.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

For the Love of Target and All that is Holy

Since it's the sabbath, I should really only write about holy things. And in this house, Target falls into that category.

Ok, no it doesn't. But kind of, it does.

I am an admittedly huge Target fan. There's just something about it that doesn't make me feel cheap even though I am about as cheap as they come. My husband sometimes feels bad that perhaps our children will never know what a full-priced, brand new item of clothing feels like. Poor little, neglect kids, right? I can't wait for the telethon for that cause to roll out (I hope it's hosted by Tori Spelling).

Anyway - I love Target (I feel extra exotic when I roll the middle R - Tarrrrrrget. Try it. You'll like it). I was first introduced to Target as a teenager (no Targets in Canada). We were in Southern California and my mom said "Let's go to Target (read Tar-jay with a french accent)." It sounded so classy; I was instantly excited. Then we went in. And honestly, I can't remember anything about that inaugural trip. My only explanation of the lack of detail on this historic occasion is that I was so overwhelmed with awesome that I blacked out. I'm just not entirely sure. All I know is that Target made an impact and I have been pretty brand loyal ever since.

I have been known to float around Target on my kid-free nights if I have nothing else to do, or no plans with other friends (ie Target is my friend). Maybe I should feel ashamed at my lack-luster use of free-time. But I'm 30 years old now, and I can own that I occasionally haunt Target when I should be out solving cold cases or crocheting leprosy bandages. It's liberating to be able to loiter in the book section, look at EVERY magazine I can get my hands on, check out music I've never heard of, try on all the hats, touch all the baby clothes, buy my laundry detergent and go home. Simple minds = simple needs.

But I had no idea the kind of impact my love of all things Target would have on my children, specifically The Red Baron. At a very young and tender age, she could spot a Target from a mile away. "Mama, I see the red ball!! Let's go to Target!" I'm not sure why at Target elicited an excited reaction for long shopping trips, while trips of the same length at other stores received screeching-fetal-positioned-dead-weight style reactions from the same kid. Is it the lighting? The staff uniforms (or lack-there-of)? I don't know. But I do know that The Red Baron is about as loyal to Target as I am. Recently, at preschool they were learning about maps and each was given the assignment to draw a map to somewhere they liked to go and the teachers wrote the descriptions at the bottom in big bold letters: "Sydney's map to Grandpa's house" or "Anders' map to the beach." Other popular destinations were the lake, the park, the zoo. The Red Baron's map simply read "The Red Baron's map to Target." Initially, I laughed at this - the apple not falling far from the tree, chip off the old block, (insert your favorite cliche here). But then I started to worry - obviously other three year olds aren't demonstrating this kind of intense saturated commercialization. Is this healthy? Has my love for Target somehow clouded her idea of what a good time really is? Shouldn't she be wanting to go to the park as well, and not to the accessories section or stationary aisle? I started over-analyzing my parenting, and re-evaluating my enthusiasm of Target. I had to get to the bottom of this, for both of our sakes. Because abandoning Target wasn't an option. Where would I go then? Walmart? (shudder).

Slowly the story of her love of Target unraveled in my mind. Back at Christmas time we were shopping for a gift to donate to charity. A tag was chosen from the angel tree was for a girl who happened to be the same age as the Red Baron. Due to our lack of foresight, the shopping trip we hoped would teach her about charity really only encouraged her to come completely unhinged after realizing that the toy she carefully chose for herself was actually going to a complete stranger. In a last stab at charity, we explained to her that if she got this doll for this mystery girl, we could write to Santa and let him know which doll The Red Baron would really like. It worked, and we left the store with a couple shreds of dignity. Well, a week later, Santa made a surprise visit to the preschool Christmas party, bringing with him the perfect present for each of the students and siblings in attendance. And to the amazement of the Red Baron, Santa handed her the exact doll she had picked out at the store. With her eyes wide open and her jaw to the ground, she turned to me and said, "Mama ... Santa shops at Target."

Ever since, I think her Target excitement stems from the possibility of running into Ole St. Nick. I think she feels like if she goes often enough, she's bound to catch sight of him and maybe put in a good word or two. You know, rub elbows with some one owning real authority. I can't really blamer her either and would probably do the same thing at the chance to meet Ellen Degeneres or Tina Fey.

So I don't need to worry about The Red Baron's over-excitement for Target and I am saved from having to darken the door of Walmart once again. And all is well in the world.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some Shots Are Just Going to Fall

Please note my ridiculously fast healing gums.
Hi. It's been a while. I'm tired of feeling badly about blog neglect. There's got to be a support group for me right? We could meet and exchange fake names and discuss why it's not OUR fault the blogs are being neglected, it's our camera's fault (it's still not working right) or the scanner won't start (really - by the time any of my techno problems are fixed I'll just have to donate them to a museum - my stuff will be right next to the atari game console and the football phone) or any number of other daily blogging dilemmas. I'll bring the city-punch (aka tap water).

The only thing more exhausting than the feeling of actively neglecting something is trying to chase the ever flowing fountain of things that spring in my mind to write about. You better believe that I have things to say. That those things are intelligent, witty, slightly off-color and would totally blow your mind. Just trust me. But I just can't seem to get my act together. You must be wondering "How does Pieface actually sustain lives, feed babies, return phone calls, answer emails, etc. etc. when she can't even keep a simple blog updated?" And the answer to these and many other questions is "barely" (all except the feeding babies part - I'm pretty dedicated to that).

So my deepest apologies. Really and truly, if you are reading this (and I'm not sure if anyone still reads this) BUT IF YOU ARE please know that this neglect is nothing personal, that I love that you're reading and I love your comments. Yes, even you; person-with-the-Asian-keyboard-who-posts-random-Confucius-style-comments. Thank you.

I guess I've been feeling lately like I'm just barely making it as a mother. This is by far the hardest gig I've ever had, which may not speak much for me by way of character or capability. Some days it seems like everyone else has their act together and I keep seeing other people being the kind of parent I always thought I would be. But I continue to fall short. And it's frustrating. I would be lying if I said I haven't cruised the Craigslist classifieds looking for a job that would pay enough to send my kids to a place where the childcare professionals could take care of them. At least they have child development degrees, liscences, certifications. Which isn't as flashy as a Sociology degree, let's be honest. But the Sociology degree hasn't really helped in this current parenting job I've landed (I don't even want to think about my Communications minor or Inter-Personal Communications Associates degree - jeesh). Toddlers just don't appreciate synergy like they should.

Yes, there have been some pretty hard and long days.

And what's worse is that I get frustrated about being frustrated. I know. I'm ridiculous. But there it is.

So, after some pretty crazy days (and the realization that my education and skills are outdated and I could probably make enough to send my children to the double-wide day-care next to the train tracks and the cock-fighting ring, but not much more) I went looking for answers. And people, answers are what I found (thank you Internet).

I've been looking at this thing all wrong. Motherhood is a relationship, not a job. This might sound obvious to you, but it was enlightening to me. Because I was looking for some kind of validation or self-evaluation check-list. Something to tell me I was doing a good job, that my kids will one day contribute to the greater good, that The Red Baron would stop saying things in public that would cause a scene like "Don't touch me, you're hurting me!!" or that the Little Man would stop running into busy parking lots by himself. But I'm not going to find that stuff anywhere. I just have to do my best and pray that everyone's going to make it. Because my wagon is hitched to the motherhood bull, and that's where I want it. I want it hitched to the bull.

Also, I was reminded of something an old basketball coach once told me (get ready for a high school sports anecdote). She was a quasi-scary lady; very militant in our conditioning, not afraid to yell or demand respect. When she didn't get the respect she wanted, she stomped over in her ill-fitting early 90's track suit and took it. The ill-fitting track suit was the only thing keeping me from developing a deeper fear. The pants would ride up so high it was hard to take her seriously. She told me not to expect much playing time because I lacked the level of skill she preferred in her players but I had a good attitude so I could be on the team. I was excited at the chance to learn more and hopefully prove her wrong. Throughout the season I improved and somehow along the way picked up a perfectionist tendency. I would mentally beat myself up if the person I was defending scored too high or did too well (and this happened often), hindering my ability to effectively play the offensive game. Finally, she took me aside and said "Look. Some shots ... they're just going to fall. There's nothing you can do about it." (For some reason I want to start chanting "RU-DY! RU-DY!" right here).

After giggling that her faded navy blue running pants were bunched up to the bottom of her sports bra, I realized she was totally right. Some shots are just going to fall. There is not a single thing I can do about that. Sometimes the Red Baron is just going to be impossible and I will look like a crazed maniac dragging her dead weight out of Target. And sometimes the Little Man will defy all reason and only speak in dinosaur roars for days and wear Thomas the Tank Engine underwear as a hat. And there is nothing I can do about that (besides take pictures that I can't upload onto my blog). It's up to me to decide that we're going to roll with it, make sure no one gets hurt and move on. That's my job. And until recently, I didn't get that. My days have been looking up ever since coming to that realization. And motherhood is fun again.

Confucius says: "When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them."
Dude. Confucius. You totally get me.

That's me in the middle. With a tiny bit of crazy-eye.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On Being An Olympic Underachiever

Tonight while I was watching the men's skating I distinctly remember watching these type of events as a kid and thinking "What's the big idea, I could totally do that" (I was really good at spinning around and not getting dizzy). Remember when you were little and you thought "I wonder when I'm going to get MY gold medal?" Not a matter of "if," but "when." Turns out I wasn't the only one. The longer I watch the Canadian coverage of the Olympics, the more former classmates I see in the standings. I went to elementary school with 3 Olympians. How funny is that? We all survived french immersion together. I'm starting to feel like a real Olympic underachiever. And there's the French Immersion/Quebec factor again. Have you noticed how many Canadian Olympians are francophone? I'm sensing a relationship between complicated grammar and athletic prowess. But that brings me to the question - what's my problem? Why aren't I an Olympian. I'll mull this one over and get back to you on that.

But let's talk about my current favorite Olympian - Maelle Ricker. I got goose bumps when I watched Maelle Ricker receive her gold medal for the women's snowboarding cross for Canada. This was a very fun moment because Maelle and I went to elementary and high school school together, though I didn't get to know her until grade 11 when we played on the basketball team together. Maelle has got to be the nicest, hardest working person ever. This kind of success could not have been given to a more deserving person. I'm so proud of her. When the competition started I was just casually telling people "I know her!" which slowly built up to an emphatic "I totally know her!" which preceded an enthusiastic "We were like TOTALLY FRIENDS!" and finally a slightly hysterical, "She was practically in my wedding!"

She was never in my wedding. But our last interaction was so typical of Maelle. We ran into each other at 7-11 in the winter of 1996 (am I old?) and she said "Hey - come up to Whistler I'll teach you how to snowboard" and I was like, "Thanks, but I'm just so super busy." Isn't that the lamest story ever? I assure you that she would never remember this. She is just so nice that she would just offer things like this - time, skills, etc. to an old friend and leave a lasting impression on an Olympic underachiever like me. I love it when good people are rewarded for their success - like all is well in the Olympic world.

I guess I'll just have to keep figuring out what Olympic sport is mine (my thighs would indicate speed skating, but my buoyancy leans more toward ski jumping. Decisions, decisions).

*I'll post some pictures when I return home from this magical Olympic land.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dear Quebec, Thanks for Everything

So I'm back in my hometown, Vancouver, BC, Canada, to attend the Olympics. This is a city of beauty, fun and it's my home town. I love it. If you've never been, you have to come. During the most normal times you won't regret the visit. However, throw in the Winter Olympics and it's like we've all died and gone to heaven (this heaven is red and white and smells faintly of wool socks). We're all practically dipped in fairy dust, it's so magical. I'm so glad and lucky to be here.

Currently there is a TV campaign promoting each of the Canadian provinces and Quebec's commercial ends with the tag-line "Quebec, Providing Emotions Since 1634." This made me laugh out loud when I saw it. Because any Canadian will tell you that this statement could not be more true. As you may or may not know, the Quebecois are constantly wanting to ditch the rest of Canada and after a while this happy little Canadian has started to take it personally. Like the rest of Canada is an ice cream parlor, and Quebec is just wandering around the place with one of those itty-bitty-teeny-tiny spoons contemplating whether the chocolate is chocolaty enough or whether the pralines are praliney (?) while rolling a swollen pecan in their mouth.

I have a unique perspective on the Quebecois since attending elementary school in the French Immersion Program, mostly run by Quebecois and the odd mild-mannered Albertan. You have never seen anything like the fire in the eyes of a French Immersion teacher discussing the glories of the early Canadian explorers (who were French), or the intricacies of verb conjugation in "plus-que-parfait" (the french verb tense directly translated to "even-more-than-perfect") or the beauties of Winter Carnival (celebrated only in Quebec). The only thing to rival their love for all things Quebecois is their love for obnoxiously loud MC Hammer pants and aerobics. These teachers were jumpy and could make a student burst into tears with the least provocation. They weren't mean necessarily, but definitely ran on pure passion, which you could see in their eyes (a teeny-tiny bit of Crazy Eye - from all the emotions). It was an interesting educational experience for sure. So you can see how the tag-line that brags of bringing "emotions" seems pretty funny to me.

Truth is: though I have felt jilted, I love that Quebec continues to be a Canadian province. I love that I've had the opportunity to learn french and visit such a beautiful place. I love that I can spot a French Canadian from a mile away (it's the Crazy Eye) and can then go and speak to said Crazy-Eye. I hope this is always the case and that Quebec never secedes. It's part of who we, as Canadians, all are.

These thoughts were rolling around in my head as I watched the first Canadian to ever win a gold medal on Canadian soil on Monday on television. It was a happy and exciting moment and the excitement extended into the Victory Ceremony the next day, which I was able to attend. I stood on my feet, with a sold-out crowd, singing "Oh Canada" at the highest decibel I could muster (and let's face it, if volume and lung capacity were an Olympic event, I would CLEAN HOUSE) and watched this young man hold up his gold medal to his country-people, beaming at his accomplishment. I just was absolutely brimming with patriotism and couldn't help but tear up. It was beautiful and something I will always remember. A moment when I thought "I am Canadian and I love that I am Canadian." As I'm sure you know by now, this Canadian Olympian is Alexandre Bilodeau, from the glorious province of Quebec.

So, thanks Quebec for providing all the emotions. I really owe you one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Being Discovered....

So it's happened; I've been discovered.  Twice.  It's no big deal (insert arrogant snort here).  

The first discovery happened when I went to my post-operative appointment to check on my gum grafting surgery.  It was my first experience with implants and I'm extremely satisfied.  Surprisingly, the actual grafting procedure itself wasn't THAT bad.  This procedure also confirmed the end of a long battle with dental phobia.  It's only taken 4 years, intense sessions with some laughing gas,  and 12 dental procedures.  This time I didn't even sweat as I sat in the examination chair, which is a real feat for me.  Anyway - the procedure was totally no big deal as evidenced by the discussion being thrown back and forth above my wide open maw.  The banter was light and lively - mostly centered around funny things like what was Bing Crosby's real name, what does TMZ stand for, etc.  Part of me was relieved to think about something other than the slicing and dicing of my gums, but the other part of me was like "maybe you guys should focus - my gums are flapping in the wind here."  All in all though, it was as pleasant as gum grafting can be. 

So I walk into my post-op appointment and my periodontist takes one glimpse in my pearly whites and puffy reds and exclaims, "Tell me we took 'before' pictures!  YOU LOOK AMAZING!"  I know he was talking specifically about my gums and not my overall carriage, but I'm choosing to think that he meant the whole package.  I was very gracious and accepted my high praise for my ridiculously quickly healing gums. 

"Really, I want you to be in my commercial."  Finally - my big break.  Stay tuned.   

My second discovery was last Wednesday morning.  I got out of the shower and walked into my room, quickly closing the door behind me.  I should preface that I'm at my parent's house, staying in my childhood room to welcome my little brother back into the civilized world after serving a 2 year mission in Tempe Arizona.  So I usher my towel-wrapped self into my childhood bedroom, with wide-open blinds.  Also, let me preface that though I'm not an exhibitionist, I have been known to keep my blinds open because there aren't any houses at an angle or position to see inside my bedroom.  But to maintain some modesty, I kneel down, below the line-of-sight of the window sills.  As I sit down to go through my suitcase, my towel slips down past my nether-regions.  

"Oh well, no one can see me."  

This thought ran through my mind at the very moment I turned to the window and looked right into the face with a strange man standing on the roof of my parent's house, facing my room while cleaning the gutters.  You can imagine my shock as I realize that I'm naked, wet, in my childhood room (that threw in a whole new element psychologically) looking at some guy in a winter hat on a cell phone.  Seems like a great time to make a call.  I throw my body to the ground with a little yelp, trying to plaster my wet self to the ground behind my bed.  I was really without options and just started laughing.  I tried to open my suitcase with my toes and with some real difficulty get dressed, which is extremely difficult without showing any body parts at the window.  

Replaying the whole scenario in my mind, I go down stairs, fully dressed mind you, to talk to my mom, who is thrilled because her gutter-cleaner guy just gave her a rockin' discount on her gutters.  

Needless to say, it's been a really busy time lately planning my TV debut highlighting my ridiculously fast healing gums and unveiling my discount procuring booty.  

I really hope nothing ends up on YouTube