Monday, February 28, 2011

Family, Freebies, and my Fiftieth Blog Post

            Last week was February vacation here in New England. Unfortunately all the fun things we had planned for the week were cancelled thanks to a nasty cold virus that invaded our home. James and I got hit early in the week so we were feeling pretty close to normal by Saturday. That was right around the time his accomplice big brother became pale and feverish and wasn’t up for anything more challenging than sleeping through Saturday morning cartoons. So James and I went to Target Saturday on a mission for supplies to sustain the family through another day or so of quarantine.
            We picked up juice, crackers, ibuprofen, a tub of modeling clay, a jigsaw puzzle and a couple of movies from the $5.00 bin. It had been a long time since James had been out of the house and he was spastic bouncing of the walls enthusiastic at Target. The cashier remarked that there was only another day left of February vacation left. She was looking forward to sending her kids back to school on Monday. I could relate! James had been home most of the week before vacation with a stomach bug. I have been sorely missing my time alone for the better part of two weeks. I can’t tell you how blissful it feels today to go a couple of hours with no one asking me for juice, complaining about their stomach, head, or throat, ask to borrow my computer, or describe in detail the difference between a Storm Trooper and a Clone Trooper.
            But then the cashier said something I couldn’t relate to. She said, “If I had it to do it over again, I would have only one child not two.” I didn’t quite know what to say so I laughed it off and said something like, “I have two boys. They can be a handful, but they mean so much to each other.” She shook her head and replied, “It’s too much. I would only have one.” I try in this world of parenting to not judge other parents. There are so many choices to make and so may different ways to raise children. And none of us knows for sure what is going to work until our children are grown. But she said it twice. She said it casually to someone she doesn’t know at all. I couldn’t help but wonder if she says thing like that in front of her kids.
            Of all the things I’ve done in my life, the two things I absolutely wouldn’t change are having my boys and marrying my husband. I’ve been a parent for almost nine years and I have no romantic illusions of perfect children (or being a perfect parent). I’ve held my baby while he was getting stitches, been thrown up on, cleaned up all manner of icky things, been so tired I could barely stand, second guessed my decisions and had days of frustration and anger. I have wished my children would be quiet, wished I had more patience with them, wished they would listen, wished they wouldn’t wake up so early, wished they were self cleaning, even wished it were acceptable to duct tape them on occasion. But never have I wished I hadn’t had one of them. They are my greatest blessings.

            Another decision I am glad I made was starting this blog back in September. This is my fiftieth blog post! I am so grateful to the folks who stop by to read what I have to say. I am overwhelmed by the support and feedback I’ve received from readers—some of them aren’t even related to me! In honor of my fiftieth post, I’m offering my very first give-away this week. Leave a comment below before midnight Eastern Time on Thursday March 3rd and you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive a $20 gift code for CSN Stores. They sell everything from pendant lighting to popcorn poppers. I’ll announce the winner on Friday. Good luck!

Friday, February 25, 2011

RDC: The List

            I must confess that this piece for The Red Writing Hood meme almost didn’t happen this week. While I had an idea of what to write about early in the week, I did almost no writing thanks to a nasty flu-like bug that hit me and both of my children. Did I mention the kids have school vacation this week? Not the perfect environment to write, but I managed to phone this one in finally. The mission: “Write a humorous listing for eBay or Craig's List. Talk about the history of the items, why they must go.”

The List

FOR SALE:  A list of seven qualified and dependable babysitters. After living in this neighborhood for eleven years, my family is moving cross-country for a new employment opportunity. One of the things I’ll miss most about living here is the list of babysitters I’ve managed to acquire after much trial and error. Not listed are the ones I stopped calling because they fed the children meals of unheated Spaghettios or let them watch The Jersey Shore. I have also left out babysitters who “entertained” visitors of their own while we were out. These seven people are truly wonderful and deserve to keep getting hired. I can vouch for their characters and have made extensive background checks on each of them. I’ll furnish you with a list of their numbers—for a price (I’m hoping to defer the cost of moving expenses a bit).
            The list includes (but is not limited to):
            Jane*  is a grandmother and retired kindergarten teacher who loves children. Her own grandchildren live out of state and she misses them terribly. She likes to baby-sit so she can spend time with children. The children love doing arts and crafts projects with Jane. She works cheap, but doesn’t drive after dark. Have a daytime appointment or need to run errands without the children? Jane’s the one to call.
            Mandy* is a sophomore at Glendale Community College where she majors in child psychology. The kids just love Mandy. She is willing to plays board games for hours and is happy to listen to them chatter on endlessly. Unfortunately, kids aren’t the only ones who love Mandy. She’s rarely available on Friday and Saturday nights.
            Courtney* is a senior at Blessed Sacrament High School and a member of the varsity soccer and softball teams. The kids really like her because she runs around outside with them. I love her because the kids get really tired out when she comes over. She’s going away to school next year. Enjoy her while the summer lasts!
            Carol* is a stay at home mom. She is very reliable and I know the kids are in excellent hands with her. They eat nutritious meals and go to bed at a reasonable hour when she watches them. The kids don’t get quite as excited about her coming over to baby-sit for some reason.
            Also for available for a smaller fee—a list of babysitters to avoid. You can’t be too careful.

*Real names withheld until payment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Better than Valium... sometimes

            I couldn’t fall asleep the other night. I had a disagreement with my boss over some scheduling issues. Normally it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I’ve been taking a medication that is messing with my hormones and I dealt with the situation as maturely as a fifteen-year-old girl with PMS. Sigh. I hate it when I know I was the one who was wrong. Actually, I’m glad I know. I just wish I wasn’t. Anyway, there I was lying in bed at 2am knowing that we had a busy day the next day—kickboxing, Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, birthday party at the bowling alley, and baseball signups. I was annoyed that the fight discussion had happened in the first place, angry at myself for handling it badly, at frustrated that it was still on my mind, and even more frustrated that it was keeping me awake.
Then, for some reason, I thought about the moments I spent with my son James before I had left for work that night. He was trying to sneak up on me—and being as subtle as only a six year old boy can be. I whirled around and grabbed him and started tickling his belly. James is absurdly ticklish and has the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard. We wrestled and tickled for a few minutes and then I dusted myself off, said goodnight and went to work.
I felt myself calming down while I was thinking about that moment. It was the first thing that had worked all night—I had tried reading, surfing the web, taking deep breaths. Nothing had worked until I started thinking about James and his laugh. I began a mental slide show that continued to calm me down until I fell asleep.

I thought about every day stuff like making pizza with my boys.

And watching James play with Sammy, the most patient cat in the universe.

And I thought about special occasions like when Owen made his First Communion.

Or when James lost his first tooth center stage at his preschool graduation.

And the day James was baptized. I can't believe it was six years ago.

I thought about the boys acting like monkeys at The National Zoo.

And how serious Owen looks when he's creating something.

And my favorite Halloween.
And my other favorite Halloween.

It's so hard to choose!

            In my stress and anger and frustration, I allowed myself to forget about the things that are really important things in my life. No, my schedule isn’t exactly what I’d like it to be. But I’ve met very few people who have the work life of their dreams—it is work after all. So I might have to work a few more night shifts than I’d like. But before I go, I’m going to be sure make the moments we have together count.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Red Dress Club: Power Suit


This weeks writing prompt from The Red Dress Club: “Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.”

Power Suit
I open the closet door looking for something appropriate for a funeral—something that fits. My current uniform of well-worn Levi’s, an old school Patriot’s hoodie, and graying Saucony running shoes aren’t going to work today. In the far left hand corner of the closet I find a leftover from my corporate days—a black wool suit. The jacket has hidden placket buttons and the skirt falls just above the knee with a three-inch slit on the left side. I used to wear it with an ice blue silk blouse and pearls or a red shell with a bold printed scarf. It was my uniform many years ago.
I look dubiously at the label—size six. I’m no heavier than I was before I had kids. According to the scale I am a few pounds lighter than I was in my suit wearing days. But my waistline has never quite recovered from making room for my nine and a half pound baby boy. My jeans are a size six too, but clothes are cut differently these days. When I worked in the corporate world, no one wore low-rise jeans except aging hippies. I’m not sure the term “mom jeans” had even been coined yet.
I try on the jacket first and I’m surprised by how tight it is. Apparently spending my days lifting children has broadened my shoulders and back. Maybe I didn’t need the freedom to move my arms when I worked in an office or perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to wearing looser clothes. Whatever the reason, I decide it fits well enough to wear for an hour or two—assuming the skirt fits.  
I steel my ego as I zip the skirt. It fits, but the fabric digs into my softened midsection. Then I realize that I’ve forgotten a part of the old uniform. I rummage through a box at the top of my closet. I find it still in the package—one pair of sheer, black, sandal toe, control top pantyhose.  I take off the skirt and pull on the hose. It feels so foreign to encase my legs in Lycra and nylon and yet there was a time I did it every day. The skirt is no more comfortable now, but it looks better. I decide it’s worth the discomfort.
I stare at myself in the mirror. This was my “power suit”. If I was meeting a client or running a training class I would wear this suit. It always felt confident and professional. It fit so well I bought two of them—one black and one red. I don’t remember what happened to the red one—probably long gone during a ruthless spring-cleaning. Donated to Big Brother Big Sister along with the blue pinstripe and gray flannel pants suits and the burgundy gabardine suit with the long straight skirt. Given away to make room in the closet for the Pack and Play and an extra case of diapers.
The suit fits well enough, but something doesn’t look right. Maybe my shoes aren’t the right height for the skirt. I try on every pair of black shoes and boots I own trying to make it work and I still feel like I’m wearing a costume.
My son comes in while I’m looking at myself in the mirror. “Mommy, you look pretty,” he says.
“Thanks sweetie,” I say.
“But you don’t look like Mommy. Can you put your regular clothes back on?”  His chubby finger points to the pile on my bed. It’s my power suit these days—jeans, a sweatshirt and shoes made for running.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's Not that Far Away... Really!

            My son has the insidious on-again-off-again stomach virus that seems to visit this house every year. After mentioning it on Facebook, my sister remarked that I must be looking forward to spring. I hadn’t really thought about it much—but yes! Now that she mentioned it I keep fantasizing about all the joyful things warm weather can bring. I can’t wait for winter to melt into a brief New England spring and then blaze into summer. So instead of a rant about how I’m so tired of the smell of Lysol and making sure I have Saltines, Jell-o, and bananas in the house, this post is about the things I’m looking forward to when the weather warms.
            Vegetables from our garden. I never know what that patch of dirt is going to yield. Some years it’s nothing but zucchini, but last year we had pounds of cherry tomatoes and green peppers until October. Not to mention sugar snap peas that were so sweet they never made it from the yard into the kitchen before they were consumed. 

Zucchini: full of vitamins and fiber. Plus they make great weapons!

            Warm showers. Warm when you get out that is. I can’t wait until I can take a hot quick shower without trying to time it for when the radiators kick in.
Grilling. I love the winter comfort foods—chili, chicken pie, lasagna, beef barley soup with crusty bread. But I can’t wait until dinner is just a matter of grilling some marinated chicken and tossing a salad. With crusty bread of course—that's perfect in any season.
            Bare feet, sandals, no wool socks. The number one thing on my Christmas wish list this year was wool socks. Really. That’s how glamorous I am. I hate it when my feet are cold. Right now I’m wearing wool socks AND fleece slippers. A few months from now I’ll be barefoot in the house and wearing Tevas or flip-flops outside.
            Walking. I used to sneer at people who drove their kids a block or two to the bus stop. Encouraging childhood obesity and bad for the environment—what kind of parents do that? Parents like me. I don’t mind walking to and from the bus stop. It’s the standing around waiting in 10º degree temperatures that I mind. Not to mention the fact that the sun setting at four o’clock really brings me down. I can’t wait to take my afternoon stroll to meet my little guys and hear about their day while we look at the ducks and turtles at the pond on our way home.
            Wearing fewer clothes. Get your mind out of the gutter. I just mean fewer layers. Trading in my long johns, jeans, turtle necks, sweaters, jackets, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves (did I mention wool socks?) for  a pair of shorts, a tee shirt and my sandals. The only other layer I’ll need is sunscreen.
            Open windows. My house doesn’t smell like sickness exactly. But it does smell like Lysol and Resolve carpet cleaner plus a layer of Yankee Candles “Fresh Linen”. It doesn’t smell bad. It just smells like I’m trying to hide something. I can’t wait for a nice warm day to just air this place out!
Is it summer yet???
            The beach. Now we’re talking about the good stuff. Load up the minivan with towels, snacks, sunscreen, buckets and shovels. Swing by Dunkin’ Donuts for an Iced Coffee and meet the cousins at the beach. Explore tidal marshes and catch minnows and crabs. Build sandcastles and knock them down. Watch the kids chase each other around with seaweed. And the bonus prize? Children who are exhausted and ready for sleep.

            What are you looking forward to when the “livin’ is easy”?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Well, That's Embarrassing

            Back in 1999, I auditioned for a local production of The Pajama Game. I had been out of the community theatre scene for a couple of years, but I was taking voice lessons and singing a lot—in choirs, at weddings, even in a Christian rock band (that’s material for a another post entirely). Much to my surprise, they cast me as Babe Williams—the spunky union leader at a pajama factory who gets romantically entangled with the new boss. In the movie she was played by Doris Day. At 28 I had played dozens of character parts, but I had never been “the lead” in a musical. A voice teacher once said to me, “You have the voice of a leading lady, in the body of a character actor.” Lovely.
            I was beyond excited to finally have my big chance. The rehearsal process was wonderful. The group was incredibly friendly and welcoming. The director was a dream and my leading man was talented and supportive. I worked my tail off. I never drove my car without practicing my music (back in those days we had tape players in cars). I was early to every rehearsal and had my lines memorized before anyone else. I had something to prove—mostly to myself. I always knew I could do it and now I finally had my chance.
            The best director I ever had, Jim Steinmeyer, used to remind us of PEACE before we went on stage. PEACE stands for Pacing, Energy, Action, Concentration and Ease. It’s great advice onstage or off. If you can manage those five things, you can get through almost anything. Unfortunately, during one of the performances of The Pajama Game I lost my concentration for a moment. As Mark, the Music Director said later, my brain took a trip to The Bahamas and didn’t even bring back presents.
I saw my brother sitting in the front row of the audience and remembered that I had offered to pay for a ticket and have it waiting for him at the front desk. Busy with preparations for the show I had forgotten to do it. So instead of my mind being completely absorbed in the show I was thinking about my brother and the very strong likelihood that he didn’t have any cash in his wallet. I was singing the very funny song called “I’m Not at All in Love” with twelve women in the cast when the words left my brain. Poof. Gone. There I was, center stage, singing a song I had sung hundreds of times and all that came out of my mouth was, “La, la, la.” 

This is what it was supposed to sound like.

            I smiled through tears as the audience politely applauded and ran off stage. I wanted to find a dark quiet corner to hide in for the next few days. Tim, my leading man, was waiting in the wings for me. He wrapped me in a bear hug and said, “You’re going to be fine. It’s over now.” Then he took me by the shoulders and looked me square in the face, “Let it go and do the next number.”
            As I look at the words on paper, they seem pretty ordinary, but at the time they were just the words I needed to hear. I managed to pull myself together. I took a few deep breaths, changed my costume, and met Tim on stage for our next number. It was a song called, “There Once was a Man” and it was the one I had the most trouble with in rehearsals. The rhythm was very tricky and it made me very nervous even under the best of circumstances. But by then I had regained the concentration I had lost in the last scene. Tim and I nailed the number. This time, the applause was genuine—it was the best we had ever performed that very difficult song.
            Despite all of my preparation, I screwed up in a very public way. I wanted to dissolve in a pile of self-pitying Jell-o. Fortunately embarrassment isn’t fatal and neither are most mistakes. I regained my focus, put the mistake behind me, kept going, and put on one hell of a performance.

This post was written in response to the Red Dress Club’s new writing prompt about writing memoir: “This week, we want you to imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail. Let’s have a maximum word count of 700 words for this post.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Dress Club Meme: Wicked Stupid

 Here's another post inspired by The Red Dress Club's writing meme. The assignment this week is to write a post that begins with the phrase, "I could never have imagined..." and ends with the phrase, "and then the world shifted".  Please feel free to leave comments and criticism. 

Wicked Stupid

I could never have imagined how stupid I would get. I knew I would gain weight, feel nauseous, have weird cravings, and have to go to the bathroom ALL THE TIME. The stupidity however, was the side of pregnancy that I was not prepared for. That and how unbelievably exhausted I would be. I’m sure it’s mentioned in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I’d look it up, but I’ve forgotten where I left the book. Maybe I gave it to Good Will. Maybe I lent it to someone—but I just can’t remember?
That’s the problem with the stupidity I developed during pregnancy. It never went away. The location of What to Expect… is just one of the things I’ve forgotten over the years. Along with the name of my second grade teacher—I can remember first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grader teachers. But not second. I wonder why. Did something traumatic happen in the second grade? I had a reunion last year with some folks I went to elementary school with and I was astounded at the detail my former classmate Kerry could remember. She doesn’t have kids—coincidence? I think not.
I was out to dinner with my family recently. I ordered chicken piccata and my husband said, “It’s been ages since I made that.”
“You’ve made chicken piccata?” I said.
“Yeah, I used to make it for you when we were dating.”
How could I forget that? I love chicken piccata. More importantly I love it when people cook for me. I had no memory of it whatsoever. I could remember him making buffalo chicken and black bean burritos, but not chicken piccata.
Last week at rehearsal I had to shuffle a couple of small speaking parts around because of the way the vocal parts were assigned. One of the people I needed to get in touch with wasn’t at rehearsal—fortunately her husband was.
“Phil, can you ask Gerry if she can do the part of Mrs. Shelley on page thirteen?” I asked him.
“You already did,” he told me.
“I did?”
“Yes,” he said. “You sent us an e-mail.” He laughed at the look on my face and added, “You’re getting old.”
Phil may have a point. Certainly I’m not getting younger. But I think it’s motherhood more than age that’s responsible for my fading brain cells. My great aunt Dorothy was sharp as a tack into her nineties—she never had kids either.
Most of the pregnancy symptoms (silly word—it’s not like pregnancy is a disease) went away as soon as each child was born. The heartburn went away, my ankles returned to normal and the smell of coffee no longer made me gag. The need to pee all the time got better—but my poor bladder never quite recovered from being used as a trampoline for ten months (that’s right ten not nine—I carried Owen for 41.5 weeks that’s ten months on my calendar). My sister warned me that it never really comes back. At least, I think it was my sister. Someone who has had children warned me.
When I was wheeled into the operating room for my c-section, I looked forward to meeting this little person who had made himself so comfortable in my body. I also looked forward to being little less tired and a little sharper. Then the whole world shifted.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Young Love

...I am so not ready to deal with this

An absolutely terrifying thing has been happening in my house lately. I knew it would happen eventually, but I never expected it to happen when my kids were still in elementary school. My boys have been talking a lot about a strange and murky topic: girls. For the longest time I was the only “girl” in their lives. I am the lone female in a house with one man, two boys, and two male cats. As my friend Sara says, “I’m an island of estrogen in a sea of testosterone”.
With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, my dear sweet eight-year-old boy has been weighing his options about how and if to tell his sweetheart how he feels. Frankly, I’m damned if I know what to tell him. When I was eight, girls noticed boys and boys ignored girls in favor of collecting bugs, playing baseball and making fart jokes. Apparently the little guys are more sophisticated these days, so he’s been trying to figure out how to give her a Valentine without the entire third grade noticing. Owen only sees Melanie* at outdoor recess—which they haven’t had in ages thanks to Snowapalooza 2011.
He’s also very confused about the feelings he’s having. He keeps asking, “I don’t know why I like her. Is it because she’s pretty? She’s a good person too—she was citizen of the month.” I’ve tried to explain that there isn’t always an explanation as to why we’re attracted to a particular person. It’s just something that happens. This is not a useful explanation to give a kid as analytical as Owen. He is a boy in search of concrete, scientific data—and as adults we know that in matters of the heart, there is no such thing. I only hope that being a “citizen of the month” means that Melanie does not laugh at my little guy if he works up the courage to give her that valentine.
I think a lot of this mushy-lovey stuff has come up lately because of my younger son, who seems to be something of a “chick magnet”. Before he reached the first grade two separate girls had already informed him that they intend to marry him. Now it seems that at the tender age of six he has a girlfriend. Here’s a conversation my husband overheard the two boys having last week:

Owen: James, do you have a girlfriend?
James: Yeah.
Owen: Who is it?
James: Annie*
Owen: How do you know she’s your girlfriend?
James: Because she told me.

            Girlfriends? I’m not ready for this. Aren’t girls still supposed to be icky? I thought all the questions that Owen had when he was preparing for First Communion were hard to answer. Theology is a piece of cake by comparison! Last week Owen told me that a classmate of his kissed a girl on the bus. I said, “But you’re only in third grade!”
            “It was last year. In second grade,” he reported.
            “Oh my God!”
            “You’re not supposed to say that.”
            “Trust me honey, God totally understands why I said it.”

*Names have been changed to protect the adorable

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recess: A Red Dress Club Meme

Today I'm linking up with The Red Dress Club for the following assignment:  write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes. If you have the time, I strongly recommend you peruse some of the links you find at the Red Dress Club. It's amazing how many talented writers there are out in the blogosphere. Please enjoy my little piece of fiction. Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. So is praise--I LOVE praise!


            Jeremy took a deep breath to calm himself. He flattened down his wiry dirty blond hair, straightened out his Lego Batman tee shirt, and approached the other boys.
“Can I play too?” he asked. Jeremy held up his Pokemon deck. “I brought my cards with me.”
            Usually Jeremy just looked for interesting rocks on the playground during recess or watched the other kids play. He wasn’t good at sports. No matter how much he practiced at home, he couldn’t catch a ball and he tripped over his own feet when he ran. Lately he noticed some of the boys bringing Pokemon cards to recess. Jeremy had lots of cards and hoped they would let him play.
            “Sure,” said Seth. He was in the third grade too but seemed a little older. The kids at school all liked him. Seth wore tee shirts with the names of rock bands and pictures of skateboards on them. He seemed to be the leader of this group of Pokemon players.
            Jeremy sat down on the pavement with the other boys. “You wanna hear a joke?”
            “Sure,” said Seth.
            “What’s a banana’s favorite gymnastics movie?”
            “A split! Get it?” 
            “That doesn’t make any sense,” said another boy named Ryan. “Wait, do you mean gymnastics move?”
            “Um. I’m not sure. I’ll have to get check my magazine.”
            “You got that joke out of a magazine?”
            “Yeah. Boy’s Life.”
            “Boy’s Life? What is that? Some kind of homo magazine?”
            Jeremy had trouble breathing. He looked from Seth to Ryan not knowing what to say. He didn’t know homo meant. But he could tell from the way Ryan said it that it wasn’t nice. He loved getting his Boy’s Life magazine every month and his favorite part was the joke section.
            “Lay off Ryan,” said Seth. “It’s a magazine for Boy Scouts. Just ignore Ryan. He thinks he’s cooler than everyone else. Let’s play.”
            “It’s okay,” shrugged Jeremy. He was happy to still be able to play with the other boys. Ryan gave him mean looks part of the time, but he didn’t say anything else to him.
            It was the best recess Jeremy had all year. For once it didn’t matter that he was bad at kickball or that he sometimes cried when he fell down. He found something that he liked to do that other kids liked to do. It was worth putting up with a few mean looks from Ryan.
            When the bell rang, the boys gathered up their cards. Jeremy couldn’t hide his excitement and said, “Are we going to play again tomorrow?”
            “Maybe,” said Seth. “Bring your deck.”
            Jeremy smiled as Seth walked into the school until Ryan started talking again. “I can’t believe he’s letting you play with us. Seth must feel sorry for you. If you come back tomorrow don’t tell anymore of those homo jokes,” said Ryan.
            Jeremy felt his face get hot. He had such a great recess and this boy was going to ruin it for him. He wished Seth were still here. Maybe he’d stand up for him again.
“They’re not homo jokes. They’re Cub Scout jokes,” Jeremy said quietly.
“Same thing.”
Jeremy felt a part of his brain melt into anger. He loved Cub Scouts. It was the only place he fit in. He didn’t care if Ryan said bad things about him, but he wouldn’t let him say anything bad about Scouts. Jeremy made a fist, but hesitated. Ryan turned his back and walked away before Jeremy could strike. A tear slid down his cheek and Jeremy quickly wiped it away before anyone could see.

This is a work of fiction that was inspired by the jokes my boys read in Boy's Life magazine and my absolute terror that I feel when I think about the possibility that my sweet, sensitive children might run into a real bully one of these days.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sugarpalooza 2011

            As the mother of boys, I feel like I spend an awful lot of time in the role of enforcer: “do your homework”, “no horsing around in the living room”, “flush!”, “eat with your mouth closed”. Sometimes it seems like I am so busy setting boundaries and doing what needs to be done that I forget to enjoy time with them and just have fun. And really, what’s the point of having little boys if you don’t get to have fun?
            Some time ago we hatched an idea of making dessert pizzas with my best friend Julie. Children will forget to wear a hat when it’s 10º out, they’ll forget to wash their hands, and they’ll forget to put their toys away. They will not, however, forget the promise of a giant sugar fest. After being hounded reminded a few times, I set a date, invited Julie and started preparing for “make your own dessert pizza night”.
            First I made giant cookie dough “pizza crusts” using Nestlé’s Toll House cookie recipe (without the chocolate chips). I divided the dough into five large cookies and baked them for about ten minutes. Don’t over bake because they’ll be going back in the oven later. Then I gathered “sauces” (raspberry jam, strawberry jam, and caramel), “cheeses” (white chocolate chips & mini marshmallows), and toppings such as pepperoni and sausage (mini peanut butter cups & Rolos), and anchovies (Swedish Fish).

The chefs at work.

            After each of us made the perfect pizza I popped them back into a 250º oven until they were all melty and gooey.

Their creations.

            Then we argued briefly about how much pizza each kid could eat. Fortunately, this is serious sugar and the boys surrendered after a half a pizza each.

A not-so-flattering picture of all of us.

            I’m posting this today to remind myself to spend some time having fun with my kids as we have yet another snow day. How many days until spring?