Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sister Wives at the Lake

My older son, Zack, was away at Boy Scout Camp this past week.  He returned today - filthier even than the previous year.  Logan was happy to have him home, but thankful for some time spent with friends while his brother was away.

Cut to a week ago, after all the area troops had packed up and driven off.  After a few moms had their sobbing breakdowns while concerned onlookers debated whether coffee, alcohol, or sedation was the appropriate antidote.  My friends and I tossed out the idea that we should take the younger kids on a mini vacation and wouldn't that be fun?  In true summer fashion we let the idea percolate for a few days before then frantically contacting anyone who owned a suitable rental house on a lake and begging for the opportunity to throw money at them so we could make this dream a reality.  Thankfully we found a large house and confirmed all the details - 22 hours before arrival.

California has many beautiful recreation areas near oceans, lakes, and rivers.  Our last-minute plans meant that we didn't do too much research regarding water activities that each area could offer.  We envisioned sitting on a deck, sipping cold beverages while the kids jumped off a dock into crystal blue waters.  Imagine our surprise when we first saw the lake from shore.  The very name of the lake would suggest sparkly, refreshing water, but it was "clear" that summertime algae reigned supreme.  Our neighbors had angry-looking pit bulls and we couldn't let the kids go out front for fear of a contact high.  In fact, much of the area had experienced quite a hit during the economic downturn.  Half of the businesses were closed and the rest specialized in tattoos, liquor, or smoking accessories - or all three.  I bet you could even get a tattoo of your favorite brand of alcohol or your best glass pipe if you wanted to.  I'm guessing that the dentists in the area moved on first.  You might be hard-pressed to find anyone with a full set of teeth.

The owner met us at the house to go over logistics.  We brought up our concern regarding the amount of algae and he asked if we had a boat.  Nope, must have forgotten to pack the boat.  In talking with friends since our return, the first thing they tell me is "Oh, yeah, that lake's really known for boating activities, not swimming. You need to go out a ways for nice water."  Apparently everyone in the state knew this except myself and my two mom friends.  The owner then suggested that the four children could "swim" in the 3-person hot tub which was unheated.  He also explained that there was great fishing right off the dock.  Carp on one side, catfish on the other (how the fish know which side to stay on is beyond me).  He said we could simply use corn kernels on our hooks to catch 7-20 pound fish which none of the moms wanted to even handle, let alone gut, clean, and cook.  Thankfully the "fishing" was really more of an impatient "casting" activity that kept us all busy.  The kids swung their poles around with abandon and the moms did extreme Pilates moves trying to avoid carelessly flung hooks - think The Matrix, but with  barbed corn kernels flying in not-so-slow-motion through the air, barely skimming our eyebrows.

This is not to say that we didn't come close to reeling in a big one!  We spotted a catfish, swimming toward us.  All the fishing lines instantly converged in that one area and the dumb fish slowly bobbed toward the surface, mouth open.  Not floating, but not really swimming.  In their zeal to catch anything the kids kept dropping their lines right next to the oblivious (dying?) fish.  It neared the dock and again bobbed upright with its mouth open.  This had now become that annoying carnival game where you just have to drop the hook into the fish's mouth to win a fabulous prize.  Still, we could not do it.  I'm sure the fish was thinking "Why are these people hitting me in the face with corn?  And what is it with this house and corn all the time?"

Lest you think this trip was a bust, I can assure you it was a memorable adventure.  I laughed quite a bit, hanging out with my friends and the kids.  We even spent a day at a beautiful, clear, little lake just up the road a bit.  The kids swam and splashed for hours.  The kids loved this trip, played well together, and kept themselves occupied.  The moms drank some tasty beverages and reveled in the knowledge that there were two other capable adults willing to play Mom to any kid that needed something.  Splinter removal?  Sure, see that lady over there.  You need food?  Lemme fix something for you.  You broke something?  OK, I will super glue it while your mom takes a nap. You want me to pull that clump of slimy seaweed off your fishing hook?  Uh, go ask her instead.  I can definitely see the appeal of having Sister-Wives.  Shoot, it's so easy!  It takes a village... and some whipped cream vodka, but we were so on it!

In true form, minutes before leaving we noticed my child was crying out on the dock, clutching his injured hand.  I went running out to help and came upon his friend heading back up toward the house.  I asked, "What happened?" to which he answered, "I have no idea!" and continued on.  The next mom also asked this boy what was going on and he said, "I told him not to do it" and kept right on past everyone.  Logan had pinched his finger in a gear meant to raise and lower boats into the lake, not children - go figure.  After an ice pack and some simple first aid we were ready to go.  In the car, I started having some misgivings.  The children had splashed out almost half of the jacuzzi water during their "swimming" sessions and the only hose I could find to replenish it drew water from the lake.  It looked clear enough but the swampy odor gave away its origin.  I told my friend, "I may have made a mistake using lake water for the hot tub".  She answered, "I'd like to go on record saying I told you not to do it!"  Ah, gotta love my supportive, mature Sister Wives!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motherhood Is Like a Bridesmaid Dress

As parents, we are constantly looking forward: to the next milestone, the next accomplishment, the next level, the next birthday... the next night when all is quiet and we can finally relax.  Sometimes we forget to look back.  Or we forget what it was really like when our own kids went through various stages.

I am fortunate enough to have my nephew with me once a week during the summer.  He is five (going on 23) and he brings to mind all the funny stuff from that age with a figurative smack to the head, like "Oh yeah!  I remember when they did that!"

He has a one-track mind.  Any game that is worth playing is worth doing for hours straight.  He was laughing with my older son and kept saying "Again, do it again Zack!" because thankfully my boys can be sweet and sensitive and loving with him even when it's impossible for them to be kind to each other.  And he remembers when he comes here that Auntie Karen has Hungry Hungry Hippos.  That fun game gets trotted out every time he's here.  The noise of plastic hippo heads slamming down onto marbles skittering around on a plastic surface really wakes you up in the morning. It should be called Miserable Miserable Migraine.

Last week he was obsessed with the idea of going swimming.  Just one problem prevented us from doing this: I don't have a pool or belong to a homeowner's association that has a pool.  He kept pointing out places that might have pools.  I tried to distract him by taking him to a friend's house.  I told him, "My friend has chickens, a bunny, and a duck that you can see.  Won't that be fun?"  And he said, "A duck, huh?  You know what ducks do?  Swim!"  Yeah, kid.  I get it.  So today I had plans to meet a friend at her pool and go swimming - but he didn't want anything to do with that.  Of course, my dog appreciated the thought... she got into his backpack, pulled out his flip flops, and proceeded to chew them into small rubber chunks.  I bet the duck doesn't pull that crap.

I love the kid conversations that go places you never expected.  Today he tells me:

I have a friend named Emma.  But she hurt her hand.  Twice.  I thought I was the baddest friend ever and that I hurt her.  It turns out she ran over her hand with her own bike.  I wasn't the baddest friend ever!  So we went and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Alrighty then!  The rest of our conversations center around "Why?" or "How come?"  I forgot how much explaining my days contained when my guys were younger.

I knew that my kids would grow up quicker than I'd ever expect.  Now I wonder, how did we go from this cute, wondering stage to the sullen mood swings that encompass the tween years?  People always tell you "Enjoy it.  They'll grow up in the blink of an eye!"  And I've been very cognizant of that.

I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding when Zack was only 4 months old.  During one of the slow songs I suddenly started balling.  My concerned husband looked around, embarrassed for me (because of me), and then asked, "What is wrong???"  I answered, "Zack will be married soon!" to which he laughed and shook his head because I was acting like the crazy, hormonal woman all mothers can instantly become.  And then, as if fate wanted to magically remind me that my child was still a tiny, nursing infant... the spaghetti strap on my dress finally gave in to the overwhelming strain from my engorged breasts - and SNAP!  As the strap whipped backwards, nearly blinding the bride, it was like a metaphor for motherhood.  You are consumed with unbelievable maternal love (or alcohol-rich milk that will need to be pumped and dumped) until the stress becomes too unbearable and you snap unexpectedly and spectacularly.  And it's all in the blink of an eye - unless you're standing too close behind.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Sarcasm Genes

I remember the first time that I realized my mom had a sense of humor.  Sure, we'd had times where we all laughed and joked, but I'm talking about a good, raunchy, somewhat inappropriate appreciation for the funny stuff.  She came home from work with an accordion-folded printout of a conversation from her company's interoffice email (although it was definitely not called email at the time).  She and her friend were discussing the merits and the drawbacks of their "Wang" computer system.

Don't you hate it when your Wang is inoperable?
My Wang is never up for long before it stops servicing me.
Will your Wang work better if you slap it around some?

The rest of the conversation went back and forth along these lines but it contained sarcasm and puns galore and I loved it.  I saw her in a new light.  Wait a minute, my mom can make funny penis references?  How is that even possible?

Since having kids, my main method of communication consists of sarcasm and humor.  How can you take anything seriously again when you have vomit on your front (or back) and you are absolutely positive that your sweet infant is busy creating diabolical plots designed to wake you up the exact second that REM sleep is achieved?  Sarcasm had been passed down to me and childbirth had switched that gene to the "on" position.  In fact, some people will tell me that they enjoy my blog and find it hilarious (thank you to those 3 people) and they usually ask me, "Have you always been this funny?"  And I reply, "No!  Absolutely not.  I was shy and quiet and barely talked to anyone who wasn't a close friend --- until I had kids.  And then, blamm-o, you're like an instant stand-up-comedian because your life is a freakishly funny mess of bodily functions, crazy kid sayings, and constant criticism from everyone, including your own tiny children.  What else are you gonna do?  You have to use wit to get by."

I'm not so sure how this sarcasm gene passes on to boys.  My preteen son is becoming proficient in this special language and uses it all the time!  He's so snarky that I cringe at times.  Especially when he speaks to adults as if he's grown and buddy-buddy with them.  For example: my friend offered to give Zack her ticket during our school's annual Ice Cream Social.  He could not figure out why anyone would willingly give up their frozen treat until she explained, "I don't' like ice cream".  To this, my 10-year-old said, "Why, were you dropped on your head as an infant?"  Gah!  You can't say that to an adult!!!  And I wasn't even there!  Luckily my friend also has boys, and thus appreciates the humorous side of things, and she was laughing when she told me this.

Now, my younger son is the one who gets these venomous attacks courtesy of his older brother.  Thankfully, he is relatively immune to the daily berating and criticism.  Yesterday, while out on a walk Zack was constantly griping about his brother (all because of a video game they were playing earlier when Logan's character had left the screen where Zack was playing, so you know it's all out war now).  What was supposed to be a relaxing walk turned into a migraine-in-the-making.  The damn dog would not stop whining and yipping because she wanted to catch up with Logan on his bike.  Logan was not looking as he slowly pedaled across the road - in front of a car.  Zack was busy commenting on the near-crash and calling his brother an idiot.  I finally lost it and said, "You are not allowed to call your brother mean names!  So stop!"  Zack said, "Well, I can't help it if he's a moron.  I'm just saying it out loud.  You know we were all thinking it."

Oh my head.  Hey, who wants to talk about their Wang computers?

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