Monday, May 31, 2010

Freewheeling

First she has to get a pillow to sit on.

Then she reaches down and pulls her seat in close.

And then even closer.

She looks in the mirror, and she likes what she sees.

Then her hand snakes forward and gives a little twist to the right ...

And the engine roars to life.

Oh my stars. My little girl is behind the wheel of a car.

Yep.

The Roo-girl finally had her first official driving lesson, which then, according to our state law, finally validates her learner's permit and allows her to get behind the wheel of a large deadly weapon with her mother in the death seat.

Please hold me.

Actually, she is doing well. A little nervous yet and not paying as much attention to detail to suit me, but we're all still in one piece.

And she is pleased with me as well.

I am actually a very calm driving instructor, even though I must tell you that there is nothing in this world -- and I seriously mean NOTHING in this world -- more frightening than sitting in the death seat of a car with your child behind the wheel.

But she views me as very straightforward, issuing instructions in measured tones and never raising my voice.

Calm on the outside.

Inside, however, my stomach lining is rapidly being eaten away.

I should get an Academy Award.


Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's in a name?

Last Monday, I wrote about the evolution of J-bear.

How she has grown up from the scaredy-cat 10-year-old I first met to the confident, ssuccessful 20-year-old she is today.

And how perhaps as she enters her 20s, she is entitled to a more grown-up blog name.

I got a few suggestions, and I promised that I would let you all vote on what you thought was best -- although I reserve the right to over-rule your decision. This is MY planet, after all!

As promised, here are some choices in a real live poll:


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Proof that Amazon has a wicked sense of humor

We looked up a well-respected text on anemia during a meeting at work the other day, and this is what we found:


"The Anemias and Other Disorders of the Red Cell" is some pretty heavy reading, but look carefully.

Do you see it? Look closer ...

Yes, customers who bought this heavy-duty treatise on disorders of the blood ... also bought ...


Two vampire novels!!!!!

I just love a website with a bite.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, speaking of Amazon, I have been getting stuff for free from there. No, really. Totally-no-strings-attached free.

You see, I have been dabbling in a little website called Swagbucks, where you do a little searching and you can be rewarded with virtual "bucks" that you can redeem for stuff (t-shirts, electronics, whatever rocks your world) or gift cards.

Seriously, it's that simple. You sign up, you download a search toolbar and just use the Swagbuck search engine instead of those other guys.

The "bucks" are awarded randomly for searching. You can also get them for taking a poll or even for finding an occasional special code. They add up pretty fast.

And then you redeem them.

My secret addiction is Amazon gift cards. In the several months that I have been a "swaggernaut," I have put together enough swagbucks to redeem for about $60 in Amazon gift cards. That's 60 REAL bucks. Nothing virtual about it.

And, dude ... this completely feeds my Kindle habit. I put those swagbuck-generated Amazon dollars into my account, where they stay until I lust after new reading material. And with a single click, Mommy gets fresh reading material -- free.

So do it. Click here and do it yourself.

I mean, really. Who doesn't like FREE?

Do I need a disclaimer here? Yes? Well, Swagbucks didn't put me up to this, nor did they compensate me in any way. But I am totally enjoying my free stuff. Thanks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A birthday gift of maturity

I don't write a lot about J-bear anymore.

Not because there isn't something to say, but mostly because I get tired of being beaten over the head for being "anti-lesbian." My friends -- both real-life and online -- know how off-base that is, but that doesn't stop the blistering comments and personal emails blasting my "attitudes" and "hypocrisy" when I write about her.

It even has been suggested that I should find a "lesbian-friendly" therapist to help me work out my issues.

Whatever.

So instead, I take the lesser road -- and just don't say much.

But this past week, she hit a milestone that I wanted to acknowledge. Last Friday, she turned 20.

Good-bye, teenage years. Hello, twentysomething!

This young woman has come a long way, baby, over the almost 10 years I have known her and the almost seven years she has lived full-time under my roof.

Right before her 18th birthday, I wrote something about her that I would like to reprint here. A tale of how far she has come, edited to bring it up to date.

Until she moved into her own apartment, she had lived exclusively with us since she was 13, when she was halfway through the eighth grade. Her choice. A decision made after an earthquake in the city where she lived with her mother fuh-reaked her out beyond all reason.

Now you have to understand about J-bear. She was -- in my unprofessional opinion -- clinically shy and monstrously introverted. The first time I saw her -- not MET her, mind you, but SAW her -- she was about 10 and hiding behind her father at a chorus function.

That position turned out to be commonplace. She couldn't look anyone in the eye -- not grownups, not kids. She reminded me of a frightened bunny, never really able to step too far away from the comforting aura of her dad.

When she first came to live with us, she was a frightened loner. The Roo-girl, four years her junior, was really her only friend. In fact, she would follow Roo to play with HER friends.

She would wear hoodie sweatshirts -- with the hood up around her head and her face pulled back into its recesses as far as it would go. It became a trademark look that made her highly recognizable on campus. Her father and I refused to buy sweatshirts with hoods at one point.

She was behind in her social skills. She was behind in her emotional growth. She was behind in her academics.

Before she came to live with us, I exacted a promise from her father AND from her mother -- that I would have their permission to do what I saw fit to help this child recover from the trauma of the earthquake AND get her on track socially, emotionally and academically.

I felt uniquely qualified to take J-bear on as a project since I had fought the school system successfully for a variety services for my two older boys and had some valuable experience and knowledge to offer.

I required therapy, which had not been offered to her to this point. I offered tutoring. In fact, that first summer before she started high school, I worked with her a minimum of three hours a night on her daily summer school homework. I took her shopping for her first bra. I, along with Wonderhubby, provided a noisy, family-filled environment where she had to learn to share her father and cope with four insta-siblings and the tumult that comes with.

Today, J-bear is a confident young woman, with friends, a high school diploma, a black belt in karate, a responsible job and the ability to walk into a room and -- while not completely comfortable -- fake it so that you don't see her fear.

She stands tall, my J-bear does. And I truly do believe that her father and I have done an amazing job of guiding the little scared bunny through some tough times and out the other side.

And in honor of her 20th birthday, I would like to help her move into her next decade here as well.

J-bear was a name I picked for her based on a childhood nickname. Today, she's entitled to something a little more mature, but I don't know what that should be.

And so I ask you to help me. What should we call her? Leave a suggestion in the comments. I will pick the ones I like the best and let you vote on them.

So ... what do you say?

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekly Winners: May 9-15

This week, Weekly Winners a la Planet brings you two things that are very sweet but make my stomach lurch ...

This:

Seriously? There can be no socially redeeming features in snot-filled Twinkies. 
(Shot with my iPhone at my local grocery store)


And this:


Ruh-roh. Roo has a learner's permit ...

I suggest you get off the road now -- and bring me chocolate!!!!!

My baaaybeeeeee!!!

Lotus has more Weekly Winners at her place. Don't mind me. I'll just be sitting over here in the corner moaning quietly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Day + birthday dinner = train wreck

Only in the Planet household could you get a double dose of classic dinner-table conversation in one weekend.

With Mother's Day and Drummer Man's birthday coming in close proximity to each other, we found ourselves with a scheduling dilemma. The pole-dancing grandma planned her command performance Mother's Day event for Saturday night (don't ask), and so we planned birthday dinner for Mother's Day evening.

The issue for us these days is all these adults with actual jobs and fluctuating work schedules. Z-man works weekend nights. Drama King works weekend days. Oops.

Anyway, it was a weekend full of the usual stuff:

While watching the Lakers nearly lose in the last 4.4 seconds ...

Pole-Dancing Grandma: Why do all those basketball players shave their heads?

Drama King: Aerodynamics.

Pole-Dancing Grandma: Is that it? Really?

Drummer Man: *with his usual straight face, God bless him* Yeah, that's why swimmers do it too.

Drama King: Swimmers? AERODYNAMICS?????

Cue general hysterical laughter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Evil Mother: *to Randy Grandpa* You guys slept with the door open. It took me YEARS to figure out what it meant when the door was closed.

Randy Grandpa: A little slow, are ya?

Smart-Ass Brother: They didn't do that. I don't want to think about it.

Evil Mother: Well, you know they did it at least four times ...

Randy Grandpa: You know, we use to put ...

*Pole-Dancing Grandma taps him lightly on the arm*

Randy Grandpa: ... Butch Wax on the ...

*smack*

Randy Grandpa: ... doorknob to ...

*PUNCH*

Randy Grandpa: ... keep you kids ...

*Vulcan death grip applied*

Randy Grandpa: ... from being able to ...

Pole-Dancing Grandma: THAT'S ENOUGH.

*Cue out-of-the-nose-beverage-spewing from everyone at the table.*

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
And then there was birthday dinner for Drummer Man.

I'm not sure that there are words to describe what went on at that table Sunday night.

The tamest moment was this:

J-bear: Is Rocky coming?

Wonderhubby: That's personal.

Yes, we considered that to be tame.

Especially when the conversation turned to "The Human Centipede." (I provided the link, but you have been warned. DO NOT LOOK. Just know that this is a Drummer Man special, the same child o' mine who wanted to see the vagina dentata movie.)

So yes, the birthday boy has seen the movie. Not only that, he has seen it TWICE and described in excruciating detail how the demented doctor in the film created the -- ahem -- human centipede.

While we were eating.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Drama King: Oh, Mom, did I tell you? Chris Evans has a younger brother who is GAY. And he's my age!

Evil Mother: Huh. Rocky, what do you have to say about this?

Rocky: Have a good time.

Evil Mother: Oh ho!! So this is your free pass?

(We interrupt this hilarity to explain the free pass: For me, it's Toby Keith. If he rang our doorbell, Wonderhubby would say, "Have a good time. I'll be here when you get back." Ok, carry on.)

Drama King: Yes. Except for us, it's the top 5.

Evil Mother: Top 5? Whoa. I just have one free pass.

Drama King: That's why you should be gay.


*Ba-dum-bum*
 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blink, and it's gone: a story of loss and opportunity

Time is precious.

And precious time spent with my children and family is priceless.

As we close the books on another Mother's Day, I am reminded yet again that life is short and nothing should be taken for granted.

Roo has learned this the hard way this spring. There have been several tragedies in our cheer family, including the death of a mom who lost her 2-year fight with lymphoma a mere two months before her daughter would graduate from high school. It was a hard loss. We were all shocked and heartbroken, even though, ultimately, it was not unexpected.

But the one that keeps my daughter at my side, looking at me with new eyes, is the story of another mom. The mom of another cheer friend and her sophomore classmate.

When the girls qualified for nationals this past year, I had a conversation with this mom (who we will call Lois) about going to Florida with the team. She hadn't gone the year before because her daughter (Katie) had been fractured her ankle and had been unable to actually compete.

This year, though ... THIS year.

"I'm going," Lois told me last December. "I don't care how I have to do it, what I have to sell to pay for it. I'm going. Who knows if Katie's ankle will hold out for another year. This might be my last opportunity."

Time passed. Plans were made. Lois ultimately didn't go to watch our daughters perform the routine of their lives.

I don't know why she didn't go. She's kind of an odd duck, and I kind of shrugged it off as another bit of oddness. I knew that I was going to be in the stands for my daughter, and that was that.

A couple of weeks ago, Lois fell. Why? We don't know what happened or how, but we do know that she hit her head in the fall.

She is currently in the hospital with no brain activity, on life support, not expected to ever recover.

She will never again make dinner for her family. She will never give goodnight kisses or comforting hugs. She will never drive carpool again. She will never see her daughter graduate from high school or go to college or get married or have babies of her own.

And she will never go to Florida for nationals.

In an instant, it was all gone.

Katie is back at school. She is doing, as she puts it, "as well as could be expected."

But my daughter and I look at each other, and we know.

It only takes an instant, and it's all gone.

Hug your children tight. Go everywhere and attend everything. Make every sacrifice.

Because you never know.

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Friday, May 7, 2010

But at least I admit it ...

I'm an asshole.

Yes. It's true, and I have proof positive.


See? This is my Starbucks cup.

Grande half-caff dark cherry mocha. Non-fat. No foam. No whip. Three pumps mocha. Five pumps cherry.

I defy you to order something more complicated with a straight face.

And speaking of straight faces, I'm guest posting today at Rachael's blog, The Scientific Nature of the Whammy. She's having a baby any second now and is celebrating birthdaypalooza month to commemorating her new arrival and a bunch of other May birthdays in her world.

In her honor, I am recapping some of my favorite birthday dinner memories. So stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The birthday Drummer

Today he is 29. And I have no idea where my baby boy went ...

Happy birthday, Drummer Man. I love you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Berry-ations on a theme

Wonderhubby doesn't like strawberries.

He doesn't like peaches either.

Or bananas.

Or blueberries.

Or any other kind of berry, for that matter.

Or apricots, nectarines or plums.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Some of it is a texture issue (bananas) or a seeded outside problem (strawberries) or just the flavor (peaches), but when we first started dating, I was flabbergasted.

I had never met anyone who just. didn't. like. fruit.

Oh, apples are good. And oranges. And pineapple.

But come at him with anything more adventurous than pears and you are guaranteed "the face."

You know the face. The scrunched-up EWWWWWWWWWW face. (Why, yes, he IS my sixth child, why do you ask?)

On one of our first dates, he took me to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. It was December or January, and my fave-rave seasonal flavor was available: Winter White Chocolate. I was happily eating my cone and offered him a bite.

You would have thought that I had poisoned him.

"UGH," he gagged. "FRUIT!"

Uh, yeah. Fruit. Sorry, dude. Who knew?

One night I cooked dinner at his place. I brought everything with me. Salmon. Asparagus. Potatoes. And the fixings for chocolate fondue.

As it turned out, we never got around to the fondue, but when I mentioned what I had brought, he asked uncertainly, "What were you going to dip into the chocolate?"

"Strawberries," I said (duh!), "and bananas and marshmallows and ..."

"You KNOW I don't like that stuff, right?"

Uh, apparently not.


Fast forward a few years of wedded bliss.

He has learned to live with blueberries. The blender of looooooooooove has expanded his palate.

Which brings us to a case of yogurt recently purchased at Costco. Twenty-four little cups of yogurt: vanilla, blueberry and strawberry, stored on the bottom shelf of the garage fridge.

Every morning I would walk into the garage and find the carton gradually emptying.

And an ever-increasing line of strawberry yogurts on an upper refrigerator shelf.

Yes, Wonderhubby had picked out all the vanilla and blueberry cartons and left me the strawberries.

Which is fine. I LIKE strawberry yogurt.

But I also like vanilla and blueberry -- and a little variety in my world.

When I confronted the little devil with his misdeeds, he laughed.

"I'm looking out for your health," he said. "Antioxidants and all."

Nice try, dude. The antioxidants are in the BLUEBERRIES, too.

Sheesh.
 
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