Friday, May 27, 2011

Whatever, coupons.

This probably comes as no big surprise, but I am not a fan of couponing. Rather, I just can't flipping do it. Maybe I don't have the intelligence level to wrap my head around it. I don't know. Whatever the case may be, I am literally incapable of couponing.

Now, this is something that I've tried my hand at on several occasions. My interest has been piqued when I've heard my friends bragging about how they saved $249 on $250 worth of groceries. And let's be honest here, saving money on groceries that could be spent on things like, um, ME is definitely motivational. So, I've listened to them explain the ridiculously intricate ins and outs of getting the little clipped golden tickets to work for them. They talk extensively about some supernatural woman, often referred to just in pronoun form as "she" and "her," of the famous Southern Savers website and how she has couponing seminars to teach people how to be just like her. Apparently, Publix is the best store for deals, and, according to one of my BFFs, Kim, you can totally work the system at CVS (by buying diabetes test strips of all things!).

My problem is that all of this Southern Savers, Publix, CVS business is not so simple. There are so many steps and procedures and maneuvers and hoops to jump through that I get lost going from A to B. I've gone to "her" website and spent time trying to find coupons and great deals and 2 for 1 or free or whatever. One day, I parked myself in front of the computer for 6 hours, determined to figure the whole thing out. When it was all said and done, I had a headache, sweat-soaked hair, a sore back, toilet paper coming out of my mouth that had turned into a potty, and a coupon for salsa. That's it.

No matter how many times and how many people try to dissect the world of coupons to me, I remain ignorantly confused. It's gotten to the point that any time someone mentions the very idea of saving money on groceries, I automatically get a sharp ringing in my ears and my brain is shocked with several volts of electricity before it shuts down. It's as if my mind has a forcefield surrounding it that rejects the smallest notion of learning how to get more bang for my buck at the grocery store. To combat this, I've offered some of my coupon-savvy pals a cut of the money they save me if they do the shopping in my place.

I suppose it goes without saying that one of the most maddening things for me when I go on a major food shopping trip is getting in line behind one of those women with a binder the size of California that holds a million dollars worth of coupons. First of all, they take sooooo long to check out. Secondly, I cannot stand hearing them get all excited about how they didn't pay a dime for their loot and they got money back after buying a week's worth of groceries. And, as I'm getting ready to pay my bill, and the cashier asks, "Do you have any coupons?" I can only hang my head in shame.

Whatever. So I pay more for my household necessities. Whatever.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Well Visits

Oh, doctor visits, how I loathe thee. Seriously. Loathe. I know. I know. Doctors are good. They are there to keep us healthy. Blah. Blah. I get it. I got your healthy. Still, I strongly dislike a doctors' office. This is probably just me, but there's something ominous about a place that has scales to tell me how fat I am, needles that suck blood, and slides and tubes to runs tests. I have a hard time with the fact that those tests could go one of two ways, and one of those ways isn't good.
Regardless, when it's time to take my kids to see their pediatrician, we go. Since I'm somewhat of an obsessive compulsive hypochondriac, sometimes we go when we don't really need to go. I'm not gonna let anything slide when it comes to my babies. Not surprisingly, when visiting the doctor day is upon us, I should take a valium (okay, several of them) to get inside. My problem is that the friendly little pills impede my ability to function at the gym (or be on top of the mommy business), so I go forth without them, and I just suffer through the nervous ticks and sweaty palms that accompany my anxiety of visiting the doctor.

So, yesterday afternoon was set aside for my Ella and Summit's annual well visits at Palmetto Pediatrics. Since Matt had some work business to tend to, my mother took a half day from teaching second graders (happily, I might add) to help me out with the double check-up. This was mainly for Summit, as the 4-year appointment isn't an easy road to hoe alone. He had an eye exam, hearing test, and 4 wonderful booster shots to endure, 2 in each arm. Thank goodness Babi was there to help hold him down, because after the first 2, he was like a caged tiger, writhing and kicking and yelling howling screeching. I am almost certain that some people left the office because of his screams of bloody murder. And on our way out, you could see the fear in the eyes of the children whose parents made them remain in the evil doctors' office. They knew their fates, and they were deathly afraid of what was to come. Ohhh, that was fun. And I remembered Ella's 4-year check-up like it was yesterday. She was way worse than her brother could have ever dreamt of being.
Needless to say, the girl's visit was far easier than the boy's on this occasion. It was a little embarrassing when she told the doctor she doesn't brush her teeth every day. Seriously, Ella? First of all, that's gross. You should know better by now. And second of all, if you don't brush your teeth every day, don't admit it to people. Other than that, everything went alright with my sweet, albeit stinky-breathed, little lady. Well, unless you count the part where she peed on my hand when I was trying to help her leave a sample in the cup. That was pretty nasty. Ah, the firsts of growing up. From first steps to first time peeing in a cup.
With the go ahead to leave, we peaced out of that pediatricians' parking lot as quickly as we could. Traumatized from the immunizations, Summit promised, "I am never going back to see that doctor ever again!" (Ha! If he only knew.) We stopped at Rush's for rootbeer floats to reward the kids for enduring the torment of being poked and prodded. Wait, is that healthy? Whatever. It got Summit to quit that awful, painful crying. And truly, I couldn't be more happy to know that my babies are developing well. I couldn't be more thankful and relieved for their good health.

Monday, May 23, 2011

rhythm and blooms

One of the best parts of John Wesley playing in a band is that he relishes being seen and heard. Fortunately, he's really good, so we love to see and hear him. And so do the kids. Last week, my brother and Harris and Reggie played some tunes for the Rhythm and Blooms cpncert series at the Botanical Gardens. The weather was just right, the flowers were on their proudest behavior, and the people were great. We took the little boy and girl who live with us, some blankets and a camera, and popped a squat on the grass close to the 'stage.' We enjoyed the company of some awesome folks... family and friends... and relaxed on a perfect spring evening.
It seems that every time my brother plays outdoors and the kids are there, he enlists ella to hock CDs of his music to everyone in attendance. I suppose she's a perfect salesgirl. I mean, who's gonna tell a little girl with big blue eyes and a sweet voice no? (Well, probably the same people who say Santa Claus isn't real.) Seriously, though, it's harder to say no to her than it is to give up the cash to pay for the CD. I promise. On the rare occasion that she is turned down, she'll just stand there and stare at the person with the cd held out. If they're not ready to be broken, she moves on to the next potential customer, but has no qualms about returning to the scrooge who wouldn't fork out the 5 bucks to buy a disc on the first attempt.

Most of the time, she's an exemplary hustler. She's even gotten people to buy 4 or 5 CDs at a time. Or sold to people whom she's gotten to purchase the same disc at another show. And if people say they only have a 10 or a 20 dollar bill, she easily convinces them that it's alright if they pay more... even if she HAS the change. On the whole, she doesn't have to say much. Her face is worth a thousand words in negotiations, and most suckers just cave as soon as she walks in their general direction. They know what's coming before she even opens her mouth. It's all in her eyes... they have in them their own silent siren song, which makes people do as she says. I know this because she's pretty successful at using them on me and Matt, though I'm starting to gain the strength not to fall victim to her convincing mannerisms.

But it doesn't all go to my brother; she looks out for herself, too. My Ella knows that she deserves a cut... At the Botanical Gardens, she negotiated trades with artists who had booths of items for sale and landed herself a pretty glass-blown necklace. Some folks were so impressed with her ability to sell so many CDs that they gave her dollar tips.
Just so we're clear, I don't condone child labor. If she didn't ask to do this, I wouldn't let her. (Wow, did that just sound like a pageant mom line or what?) I think it's a good experience for her to learn how to interact with people... especially people with money... particularly when she's learning how to get them to fork it over. So, to my daughter I say 'goodwork.' And maybe she can teach me a thing or two, as those skills evidently didn't come from her mama. And I don't think they're something that Summit inherited, because as soon as Patrick and Chris Dunbars' blond-haired and beautiful little girl arrived, he was more interested in her than anything else. Now, that's a whole different story.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Open Arms and Cheek Kisses

After a rather hectic and sad week, our family needed to peace out of town for a night. And thank goodness for dear friends who were willing to welcome a party of four into their lives... who were willing to let us make their regular home our vacation home. It was a much appreciated gesture that I hope they know made us feel loved, brought us peace amongst our mourning, and cleared our minds in a way that was long overdue.
Saturday morning was Matt's coming out to the autism community as the new executive director of the Autism Academy of South Carolina. That's right, friends, he's got a new job! The road before Matt is very exciting, and we are all so proud of his accomplishments and hard work. The next several months and years are sure to be filled with lots of activity in the world of autism, and our first function was the Strides for Autism Walk in Finlay Park, a fantastic event that we were really happy to be a part of.
With the walk finished, we piled into the car and cruised on down to our sweet friends' place in Charleston. Ashley and Bryan and their kids, Luke and Lauren, greeted us with open arms and cheek kisses as soon as we arrived. Following a quick change of clothes and a loading of toys and coolers, we mozied on down to Folly Beach for an afternoon of sand and sun by the Atlantic. The kids played in the water, Luke got up on the surfboard, some people got married, John Wesley and Ashley came by, and we just chilled. (I would've gotten in the ocean if it weren't for an unfortunate fight that I got into with some bikini wax and lost in a major way.)
When we all had enough sand in the most precarious places, we bid adieu to the ocean and took the Crab Shack by storm. Luke had leant Summit one of his play knives, and my dinosaur lover turned into a pirate on the deck of the restaurant, wielding his weapon and ordering passers-by to "walk the plank" and shouting "shiver me timbers." Being the high-class folks we are, we forgot to put a shirt on the kid, so his shenanigans were all the more obvious. But, whatever, it's Folly Beach. They can take it. They have enough crazy that his wild pales in comparison to.
Fat and full of some awesome fried seafood, we headed back to the Perrucci's for a dip in the pool before putting the kids to bed. It's always easy to get them to sleep when their heads are sun-weary, which left us plenty of time to hang out on the back porch for the rest of the evening. We listened to music, drank too many adult beverages, and enjoyed fabulous, inappropriate, laughter-filled conversations. The moms and the dads traded off bike rides to the harbor, and we relaxed the night away. It was perfect. 
We even got to wake up late... thanks to the strategic plans of Matt and Ashley to lay out the kids' food, along with sticky-note directions, before we went to sleep. To reward their good behavior, Ash made everyone pancakes and sausage and bacon (should we mention the sticky buns?), and we spent the rest of our time there eating more food and hanging out with the kids while they swam until they couldn't see through their bloodshot eyes.

Leaving was bittersweet, but regular life kept calling, and I'm sure the rats, I mean Perruccis, were ready for some peace and quiet. But, we really needed a break, and we're so lucky to have such special peeps who gladly became our guardians this weekend. Thank you, my amazing friends, we are so grateful for your generosity and kindness. We love you all!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grandpa Wood

Today, we lost. We lost someone from whom the world had gained so very much. Someone who truly made this earth a better place. Who set examples for how to live life in a way that is respectful and true to one's own self. Matt's Grandpa Wood was a man of tremendous measure... a man who the world was far brighter and bigger for having had in it.

Today we celebrate the life of a man who helped create so many other lives. Who brought happiness and love and warmth wherever he went. And who did so in one of the most genuine ways I have ever been witness to. Many people who had endured the trials that he did would have given up. They would have felt defeated or that the world was working against them. But, not him. He turned adversity around and made, for lack of better use of a term, lemonade out of lemons.
Grandpa Wood was a man who lived his life to the very fullest. He absorbed the abundance of life and appreciated the blessings that were presented to him. He cheated death on more than one occasion. Seriously, I don't know how someone could survive crashing a bomber in Germany during World War II, live a year in a P.O.W. camp, and come back to lead a successful existence with a beautiful family. But, this is why these men and women were known as "The Greatest Generation." They were able to overcome the worst possible obstacles, muster the courage to push on through, and hold their heads high, knowing that the best of their lives were yet to come.
So that's what he did. He proved that he was not only a survivor, but a force to be reckoned with... if the fates of life did dare. And when they did, he maintained that fight for life, for his lovely wife (of nearly 70 years) and his precious family. I am sure he did it for himself, but he also persevered for them. He set an example of how to lead a life of honor and strength and honest, hard work. In all the years I was fortunate enough to know him, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone or raise his voice in anger. He never demonstrated a pretentious attitude, though he had achieved success that many never know. He was always ready to greet people with a genuine smile and an endearing demeanor. He was always just happy. I see this personality trait in Summit, and, if he's got at least a percent of his great-grandfather's character, he's well on his way to a full, amazing life.
Grandpa Wood always carried a gentle grin and a mischievous look in his eyes. He loved laughing. He loved playing golf, and beat the tar out of several competitors. He enjoyed watching Days of Our Lives with his wife... he always had something to say about that crazy Sami Brady. Sweet treats, beef jerkey, Scotch, and Tony Packos hotdogs were his favorite. He loved the rock quarry in Genoa and Cedar Point. He loved Ohio. He relished holidays and family gatherings. He adored his wife and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And he was adored right back. Truly. Wholeheartedly. A.D.O.R.E.D. I know it may seem that after 93 years on this earth, someone's passing may come a little easier, but it's just not that simple. Not for someone who was so absolutely incredible and loving and sweet and kind and so perfectly pleasant to be around. Not for someone who made such a special mark in the lives of so many people. And, all of those people will miss him for as long as they live.
Sweet dreams, Grandpa Wood. We love you. And thank you. If only there were more of you. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

When I hatched.

Anyone who knows my Summit knows that the kid says some crazy stuff and asks some crazy questions. He loves to pique our brains about dinosaurs, when they lived, and what happened when they disappeared from the earth. He's interested in plants and the sun and the moon and stars. He loves learning about how food gets on the table and where different meats and vegetables come from. It kind of freaked him out to know that we eat animals that we see in pastures, and I don't think he likes being a carnivore, knowing that he's eating someone else's mom or dad. To get him to eat chicken, I tell him it's dinosaur meat, and he seems to think that's kind of cool... until he remembers that dinosaurs are extinct... which brings up a whole new set of questions... like, "If dinosaurs are extinct, how can we eat them?" At times, this can be exhausting. Sometimes, I think he's just trying to get out of eating dinner so he can get to the candy.
Lately, he's been really interested in figuring out how he came to be. He's very intrigued by how he developed inside of me and how he was born. For a long time, he was convinced that I grew Ella and that Matt grew him, and he kept telling us that when Ella has babies, she'll have 3 girls, and when he has babies, he'll have 3 boys. I guess from a 3 or 4-year-old perspective, it would make sense that girls make girls and boys make boys. We corrected that idea with the example of Mercy Lou, how her daddy is a poodle and her mommy is a cocker spaniel. (Not surprisingly, he asked if a cocker spaniel is a dog? Ha! It is a funny name, but the question was pure Summit.)

After he understood that mommies grow babies in their tummies, he became especially intrigued with how he and Ella lived while they were in mine. He asked if they played and fought and got in trouble together in there. So, we explained that, no, they didn't play in utero... that he was there after Ella was born... and he started getting that, too. As I'm sure you can imagine, I didn't really wanna keep going down the road that we were headed... explaining the birth process to the kid... or how the daddy gets the mommy pregnant in the first place (though, I think he's got some idea, judging on what he used to make Ella's barbies do to him when he first discovered his "friend" that lived under his diaper).
Luckily, we haven't gotten to that point. Currently, he's stuck on the time he spent inside of me. Since he was about two, he's been afraid of going to sleep with the lights off. (This is a condition I attribute to his father: he was fine before Matt started leaving the light on for him until he was riding dinosaurs in lullaby land.) Anyways, a couple of days ago, he started asking about how bright it was when he was growing inside me. I told him he couldn't see anything, so he said, "Mommy, I wasn't afraid of the dark when I was in your tummy." And I agreed, "No, Summit, you weren't afraid." So, he waited a few minutes and said, "Then, I got scared of the dark after I came out." And, I was like, "Yeah, I guess so." (I didn't want to tell him how his father started making his carbon footprint unnecessarily larger.) And we left it at that.

Tonight, when I came home from teaching my first summer school class, Summit and Matt had a video to show me. It was about Summit's fear of the dark. You gotta see this. (I recommend pausing the song at the end of the page to hear what he's got to say.)
Clearly, the kid has gotten some signals crossed between how dinosaurs come out of eggs and how babies come out of mommies. I suppose I could try to explain the difference, but that's not a bridge I'm ready to cross just yet. So, I'll let him think he hatched. That's fine with me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

He just wants to live. That's all.

Last week was one of those weeks where you learn that it is far better to give than it is to receive. Where you understand how important it is to offer yourself up to the service of others. Where you learn just how much of a difference a small group of people can make in the life of anyone in need of support.

When I first heard the news about David Pugh's illness, I was, like so many others, distraught. I couldn't believe that someone so young... someone with whom I shared classes in elementary and high school (Chapin was too small for middle school back in those days)... someone that I grew up with... someone with a strong body and a heart of gold...  how he could possibly be as sick as he was. But, there he was, in his early 30s with a beautiful wife and precious little boy, stricken with a cancer so rare and aggressive that it was hard to comprehend. And my heart, and everyone else's, just broke for them.

To date, he's put up one hell of a fight. He's a testament to lasting faith, absolute will, and a determination that can't be shaken. He's been through rounds and rounds of chemo and radiation. He's undergone surgery after surgery. He's had piles and piles of tests. He's received good news and then bad. He's gotten better and worse. And he's never given up. He wants to live, people, live. He wants to be there for his wife and kid... to be a husband and father and brother and son and friend. He just wants to live. That's all.

And that's what everyone else wants for him. Until last weekend, many of us had listened from the sidelines. We've read his incredible wife's Caring Bridge reports and sent prayers and kind words. We've shared his story with others and held our own families a little closer. We've stopped sweating the small stuff and been thankful for our own blessings. But last weekend, out of the leadership of two Chapin girls, some of us were able to put our thoughts and prayers into action, even if just for a little bit, making contributions to the efforts of a silent auction and a rummage sale for David's benefit.

In all, $7500 was raised for David and his family. Because he was so sick from the treatments, our friend was unable to attend, though he really wanted to be there. He did share a few precious words with everyone over speaker on his sister's phone. I will never forget how appreciative he was or how kind and loving he was. He was just the way I remembered him from so many years ago. In those moments when he was talking to us, of course I cried a little a lot for David and his family, but I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to hear his voice. And I realized that that is why we help others. Because they need it and we need it. We need to help people. It's what makes us human. It's what makes the world work.

So, if any of you would like to help out, please do. It'll make you feel good. I promise.

Here's the address to his Caring Bridge page:

If you're interested in helping any other way, please get in touch with me, and I'll help you figure out what to do.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Girl Crazy

My baby boy. My little man. My sweet Summi Poopers. The little guy who loves his mommy the most. He's made room in his heart for another. He's got a major crush on THE little girl from school. It began at the start of the year, and I thought that it'd wear off, but, every day when I get him from school, it seems to have worn on a little more.
When 3-year-old preschool started up, Summit hated staying for Lunch Bunch. I mean, h.a.t.e.d. it. He'd beg me to not make him go. Plead. Cry. Bargain. And, each morning when I'd leave him in his room, he wouldn't let me out the door with less than 10 farewell hugs and kisses. And he'd stand at the door watching me walk away until I was out of sight. I loved it. I felt like the best mommy ever. My kid wanted to see me off and make sure he gave me enough love to last me for the 3 or 5 hours that we'd be apart.
But all that changed when he started spending more and more time with the cute girl with the bow in her hair. The little girl whose 4 brothers at home made her rough and tumble and ready to rock it out with the boys in her classroom (which is probably a good thing as out of the 13 kids in Ms. Rita's class, only 3 are girls). I mean, what more could Summit ask for in a gal? She likes to play in the dirt and she loves dinosaurs! I suppose there was nothing else to do but make her his girlfriend.

Now he asks to stay for Lunch Bunch. He sends me away with a single kiss goodbye, and doesn't wait at the door for me to leave. And, every time I pick him up from the playground, he's gotta tell Ms. Thing goodbye at least 5 times. He'll even roll his window down and scream, "Goodbye Carly! Goodbye Carly! Goodbye! See you tomorrow!" Very loudly. I guess it's kind of cute, but at the same time, I feel like my special fella is starting to break away from me.
During the Easter Hunt for their class, they searched for eggs together, and he'd let her have the ones they found at the same time. What?! My boy, who hoards candy under his bed, was literally giving away sweets-filled prizes to a chick. He even thinks about her outside of school. He wants to wear clothes that she'll say make him look 'handsome.' Handsome? Are you kidding me? She gets him in trouble in Circle Time, and now she wants him to wear clothes to look 'handsome?' She needs to worry about paying attention to the teacher and not what Summit has on. At home, he likes to make notes for her and pick flowers to take to school. (Umm, Carly? Those used to be mine!)
So, when we went to Moseley's last week to look at new settings for me, I shouldn't have been surprised that the girl was on his mind... I shouldn't have been surprised when he was destroyed that we couldn't take home a $10000 diamond ring for her. You'd have thought someone was taking out his heart and stomping all over it. Seriously! He had even told Matt that when he turned 4, he was going to marry Carly and kiss her and have babies. Dear lord!

This kid has it bad. And he's only 4. Girl crazy at 4.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

They are the ones who make a brighter day.

Since the beginning of the school year, Ella's and a partner class have been hosting monthly visits for senior citizens who live at the Lowman Home in Chapin. It's been a great experience for the kids... they get to interact with elderly people, serve them snacks, sing them songs, and provide important love that such a population often misses out on. I am so proud of her teachers and  the kids for being interested in the lives of such special people. As someone who still greatly mourns the loss of my precious grandmother, it brings me to tears every time I see my child being so sweet to someone else's grandmother. And every time I see the old folks, my heart cries for the tenderness of my beautiful, blue-eyed lady.
Last Friday, to tie up the year's worth of visits, the kids went to the Lowman Home for a change. I was really excited to be a part of this field trip. The group of about 30 seniors and the 32 students congregated in what is the chapel for the retirement community. To begin, the residents were wheeled in and positioned around the perimeter of the room, and the kids sat together in the middle. A slide show of the kids and the seniors played as the children sang 3 songs to their aged friends... one which made their (and my) eyes a little damp, and one which made me feel almost as old as the old folks. 

The first, Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, by Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, is a gracefully put-together tune of two songs that my grandparents loved. Not surprisingly, it seemed to fill these people with joy, memories, and a sense of longing for their past lives. They sang along with the kids, some were bobbing their heads (and not just from Parkinson's), and a few had tears coming out of their eyes. It was heartbreaking and beautiful at once, and I regretted not wearing waterproof mascara.
The second was We Are the World, and Mr. Schiesser played the video from the iconic song from nearly 30 years ago as they sang. Hearing the kids sing the words was moving. They are the world. They are our future. As such, it is so important that we provide them with the best possibilities for productive lives. The funny part, for me, was seeing all of those 80s superstars in all their glory. Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Al Jarreau, Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, Hall and Oates, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen... O.M.G. I was transported back to the main portion of my elementary years, and I remembered when that song came out. And I felt old. Well, not as old as the people there, but pretty old. But I went back to a time in my life when I was those kids' ages, and I recalled how big and promising the world was. And I loved seeing on their faces, as they sang that song, how big and promising it is for them. 

After a pretty bad magic show by a parent, the kids were sent to visit the rooms of other residents to whom they read books from home. My group of 4 worked a hall until the old folks were ready to kick us out and/or beg for mercy. I'm half joking here. They were all women who really appreciated the company, and they all had black-and-white wedding portraits on display. It was obvious that they mourned not only their husbands, but the lives they lead before moving into a nursing home. A few of them asked if Ella and I could come back to visit, as they had no family in their lives. And I wondered how in the world they ended up there... it was so sad to hear their stories. I hope and pray that such a life is not in my future. 
When the reading was done, the sweet employees served up a meal of thanks for all the time and effort the kids and teachers had put into providing company and entertainment to the seniors. It was a perfect end to a wonderful experience for these children. Besides learning social etiquette, like not to say, "That one threw up, Mommy," they got to understand that life is difficult for people and it's important to be kind and giving and willing to spend time with others who are in need. They learned that they can be "the ones who make a brighter day." 

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

elephants' balls

last friday, i was given another opportunity to help chaperone ella's class on a trip. this time we ventured to riverbanks zoo. i truly relish the opportunities i get to spend time with ella in her school environment, and i have a lot of fun hanging out with her classmates. this trip, four kids, including ella, were my responsibility at the zoo. one kid's nickname is speedy, so you know that this experience was nothing short of exciting. (in fact, i didn't even know what speedy's real name was before this outing; he's that famous.) actually, speedy was easier to keep up with than the girls. the other three were lollygaggers and day dreamers, and one kept following the beat of her own drummer, which made her a little difficult to manage. in the end, though, no one got lost, and we even got to help a little boy find his own mommy, thanks to none other than my boy speedy.
because we are members, i take my kids to the zoo a lot. having visited with the animals so often, i've developed quite an affection for certain residents. i love the gentle natures of the koala bears, the sweet and calm personalities of the giraffes, and the ability of the grizzlies to scare the you know what out of me despite the fact that (i hope) there's no way that they can get to me. i enjoy visiting with the gorillas and desperately want to apologize to them and set them free. my all time faves are the giant galapagos tortoises, mainly because they're so freaking old, yet they have the sexual drive of college students. seriously, those things are always, um, busy. always. i've never seen them not "busy."

anyways, when we got to the zoo, my group headed directly for the siamangs, who were on their worst behavior, which makes them some of the best friends to visit. their whooping intrigued my kids, and ella and speedy had a blast matching them whoop for whoop. even the siamangs seemed to be impressed. it was like taking monkeys to the zoo to visit the zoo.

another great part of our trip was getting to talk with the kids and see them absorb everything in their environment. and i love hearing the crazy stuff that creeps out of their mouths. seriously, you have to be on your toes because you never know what they're going to say or how it's going to come out. one little girl had attended zoo camp the previous summer, and she shared with me her experiences with the elephants.

butterfly chaser #2: "last summer we got to hang out with the elephants."

me: "how awesome! what did you do?"

butterfly chaser #2: "we got to play with their big balls."

me: "what!?!?"

butterfly chaser #2: "yeah, the elephants have these great, big balls."

me: what!?!?

butterfly chaser #2: "yeah, they have all of these cool big balls to play with."

me: "oh." sigh. phew. "how neat!"

clearly, my mind was in the gutter. i had only known the elephants at riverbanks to sniff around in the dirt, splash water on their backs, and drop massive piles of dung all over the place. i'm glad to know that they also get to play with balls and other things for entertainment. really, butterfly chaser #2's comment won't soon be forgotten, though. that's some funny stuff. elephant balls.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Blues

Mother's Day Blues happen to everyone. Not just to the moms who are supposed to be honored for the never-ending service that they provide with immense love, sweat, and tears to their families. Not only to the families, who, try as they might, often make misguided plans to celebrate their beloved mothers. Not only to the countless women who try and are unable to have children. Not only to the multitude of women who choose, out of their own free will, not to have babies. Not only to those who mourn the passing of mothers whom they cherished and adored and miss with all of their hearts. Not to be a total bitch, but Mother's Day can kinda suck. Well, maybe not for Hallmark. They seem to be the main beneficiaries of the holiday.

I don't mean to sound crass; Mother's Day is nice in theory. It's a great gesture to want to dedicate a day for moms around the globe. To be sure, we deserve the recognition. We bust our asses 25 hours a day, every single day of the year for our families. We put our own needs and desires on hold for the loves who rely on us for so much. And, most of the time, we do it gladly, without question.
However, the day has so much riding on it. There are so many expectations for el dia de los madres. Breakfast in bed. Meals at the best restaurants. Flowers. Jewelry. Spa packages. Family gatherings. This and that. That and this. Too often, the ideas that moms have in their heads for what they think would be appropriate tokens of appreciation for the large amounts of ourselves that we bequeath to our loved ones are not exactly what the token givers have in mind.

The simple fact that Mother's Day falls on a Sunday just stinks. I mean, if you really want to do something for us and give us a day dedicated just to us, then put it in the middle of the week when nobody's gonna be home. When we don't have to diffuse situations. When we don't have to pick up after people. When the kids aren't asking us for stuff. When we don't have to be on duty.
As a woman and a mother, I know that one of the things that I would appreciate the most is to not have to mingle and get dressed up (unless I want to). To not have to sit at a table and eat food off of plates that I'll most likely have to clear and wash. To not have to do anything at all. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and family meals and family gatherings, but that's what we do every day. If I'm to be given a day solely for me... then make it different. Make it so that I don't have to feel guilty if I don't want to do anything like that. So I don't have to feel like a bad mother for wanting a break from my life.

So, here's what I propose: give working women and stay-at-home mothers a day off on a Wednesday.  Call it Woman's Day. Actually, two days off would be better. Let us sleep late, maybe in a hotel, spend a day at a spa, eat leisurely meals in restaurants... let us choose what we want to do. Let us be.