Friday, November 30, 2007

Random Thoughts for Today

Anyone who thinks German Shephard Dogs are smart hasn't met mine. Granted, the breed smartness is a generalization and we did get our doggie from a rescue. You get what you pay for, I suppose,...

He is outside at the moment, for fear of eating my mother's cat. So, he is bored. I'm doing the best I can, but I can't do the walks anymore, too painful with 13 days to go until baby is out in the world. It's been raining and I am a California girl at heart, can't handle dampness or anything under 60 degrees. So, I've been inside most of the time.

The dog has started having what we call 'yard sales.' He was taking the boys shoes that were on the porch outside in the basement and, I swear this is true, meticulously lining them up in a straight row on the grass. We took the shoes inside. Then it was B's outside toys. Then, he wrestled a big plastic garbage can we were using to save plastic bags to recycle at the grocery store. I picked up all the plastic shards and plastic bags and threw them out. I guess this is the grown up's version of 'the dog ate my homework.' If my carbon footprint is larger than it should be, it's becaause my dog ate my recycling bin.

And for all my attempts to save my mother's kitty while we shack up with her embarrassingly for six months, the cat HATES MY GUTS. How do I know this? Because she finds absolutely every opportunity possible to pee and poop on my things. I get the point, Isabell. I'm leaving soon. : ) I can't win. For a girl who wanted to raise horses when I grew up, I sure don't enjoy the furry wildlife at the moment.

Not that I'm complaining, but I woke up today after the dog howled me awake for the second night in a row to my 10 year old finishing his book report and my kindergartner doing his homework. At 6:30 in the morning. How can I have kids who are more disciplined than I am?

This means that I missed my 5am wake up alarm. No work was accomplished this morning, and while I have quite a few documents open right now to work on, I needed to get some blogging done to ease my brain. Maybe my version of a cigarette break.

So yes, I have turned on the boob tube for B. I don't usually have the TV on at all. I used to catch up on DVR'd version of Gray's and House, but I think she's beginning to get too conscious of the screaming, kissing and bleeding. So, we found Teletubbies, that horrible show. She wasn't very impressed, thank goodness, because after the 500th time they repeated the word GREEN, I was about to throw my shoe at the TV. What we did find that she likes is 'Animal Jam' on Discovery Kids, for anyone who cares. Except now she is dancing on the oversized ottoman along with a big creepy elephant who is singing and dancing on TV. Is this how Paris and Brittney got started? Better than the Goosebumps she watches with her brothers, I suppose.

Speaking of too yucky to go outside, did anyone else see the article about kids today getting RICKETS because they didn't drink enough milk or get enough Vitamin D because they were inside couch potatoing instead of exercising in the sunshine? Two things necessary for proper bone growth? Frightening. Especially as I keep my little one sequestered inside because I'm old and fat and tired and ready to get this baby out.

Baby is due in 13 days and everything is good. While I am certain the baby is at least 20 pounds and has a head of a steel ball bearing, my doctor assures me she's normal at around 7 pounds and only has human parts. I'm dilated to 3 centimeters, which prompted her to ask 'Now, where is your husband?' I'm banking on the fact that my uterus is as stupid as my dog and won't clue in until we have hubby home, colonscopy completed for him (two days before the due date, should I be gambling in Vegas, OR WHAT?) and the baby car seat I just ordered arrived and set up in the car. The other one is in a shipping container somewhere in Long Beach.

As much as I love, love, love moving and being incredibly random and hoboish so I don't have to really grow up, setting up households is always an expensive endeavor and I end up owning more things than I'd like. Think about it, all those spices you acummulate in your kitchen? They must be thrown out or given away for every continent hopped and new ones bought. Baby items get lost, toys are left behind and new things must be had. I think we could be early retirees if we would just stay put.

So, I hope the baby stays put until she's expected to come out. Then we smoke her out, because we are on a schedule, you know? Gotta get to California by the new year. Ridiculous, I know.

So, as waddly as I have become with the big baby sitting on all those nerves and chewing away at my ligaments so I can't lift my legs after I've been shuffling around all day, and so bloated that I've actually developed carpal tunnel, they are easier to deal with inside than out.

I have so many things to do before she comes. One includes getting my kids, especially the 8 year old, up to Seattle to the Science Center. We got a year membership because it was only a couple bucks more than the 'old woman in the shoe' price I paid to get me and my brood in for one visit. Stupidly I told him about a sea monster IMAX show that has been running since October. He LOVES dragons and dinosaurs and is freaking out wanting to see this movie. But we haven't been able to make it up yet with parties, baseball, football, basketball, and other stuff getting in the way. I'm thinking the only day I have left to get him there is next Friday, five days before the due date. Then, I think there is nothing worse than being alone with my brood an hour and half away from my doctor in Seattle and my water breaks. Except maybe being in the middle of an Indonesian mall alone with my brood and hemorraging. You only live once, right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ode to Thanksgiving

It’s not like I don’t know when Thanksgiving will be each year. They don’t exactly move the holiday – it’s always basically on the same date. I have no excuse not to be prepared; in fact, I have 364 days to get ready for it each and every time it comes around. But where do I find myself each Thanksgiving Eve, but at the local grocery with the other slackers pushing a cart up and down isles looking for food products I would not otherwise buy.

Most of the year I’m pretty healthy about my eating, even if the three small boys I try and sustain are not. How they exist on yogurt enhanced with flavors that don’t exist in nature, every kind of sugary coated cereal imaginable, and a wide array of alarmingly nasty snack chips, I’ll never know. Real fruits and vegetables do manage to find themselves into my cart, and once and a while, even something as wild as tofu or a whole grain low carb cracker or two.

But let’s get back to Thanksgiving. The one thing I notice about each of the other cart pushing slackers is, we all have the same food products in our carts. Maybe the others aren’t as lame as me. Perhaps that nice lady over there thought she had one can of left over sweet potatoes in the far reaching cob webbed back corner of her cupboard. Maybe that kindly looking gentleman thought Great Aunt June was going to bring the cranberry sauce, but that fell through. Not me. No, I just don’t think about all the necessary but odd foods I’ll need in order to recreate the warm and fuzzy Thanksgivings of my and my husband’s childhoods.

So, here I am at the store as the clock strikes nine p.m on Thanksgiving Eve, along with the other twenty or so cart wielding slackers as we race like a pack of frenzied lemmings to each Thanksgiving food station in search of those last few cans of necessary items required to make the holiday a success. It’s like a marshmallow topped yam induced treasure hunt as we all try and figure out where in the world French fried onions, whole cranberries and cornbread stuffing reside in the local supermarket. I always wonder if these goodies are actually on the shelves during the other eleven months at all, or if the store manager whips them out of some storage shed in a back lot somewhere just in time. Think about it a moment. Do you find green and red candied cherries any other time than at Christmas? Does anyone actually eat those anymore, or have they gone out of fashion like marshmallow jello and pasta salad? If they do stock these things, I don’t think they put them in the same place each day. In fact I think they move them every morning in the store. This keeps us shoppers on our toes, and for those of us suffering from stress induced short term memory loss or early Altzheimer’s, a.k.a. parents, we are guaranteed to purchase more cans of odd Thanksgiving foods than if they were in the same spot in the store during that whole honorary turkey month. It isn’t by happenstance that I now have four jars of marshmallow fluff in the pantry. It’s because they keep moving the holiday food endcap, like a camouflaged hunter in a duck blind, trying to trick me every time I have to run in to the store because I forgot butter again. Racing past that pyramid display of cooking delights, each time I stop and try to remember seeing it the day previous. I look around at my surroundings, confused and disoriented, reaching yet again for the powdered sugar and chocolate chips, walking slowly to the check out. It isn’t until I reach the safety of my own home I realize I have once again forgotten the butter.

But I digress. Here I am again. Thanksgiving Eve, eyeballing the cart next to me to see if that person has figured out where the pearl onions are hidden. Crawling close the floor boards stalking that necessary box of cornbread stuffing, I pause. Where is it? In the bread aisle? Or is it with dressings? Oh, they don’t mean that kind of dressings, they mean the salad dressings, right? Oh whatever, I’m so confused. I tackle the cute stock boy on leave from college for the holidays to ask where the black olives are located. I mean, what is an olive anyway, a vegetable or a fruit? Doesn’t matter as they are located with the condiments. No wonder I can’t find anything.

Time to check out. Now my next decision is whether to hide the wedding ring or not as I hand items to the checkout clerk. They are already passing judgement against me; do I really want them to think that someone as irresponsible as me could possibly think I can cook a Thanksgiving dinner for another consenting adult, or heaven forbid, children who have no say in the matter?

Once home I feel half the battle is complete, but there are more dragons to slay. You see, our family seems to make a habit of moving right during the holiday season. This time I feel relieved to say our move only entailed swapping houses a few doors down, but usually it takes several airplanes, a truck load of baggage and a change of language before we are safely ensconced in our new home.

Not wanting this move to be any easier than the others for fear I will be out of condition for the next one, I have put off calling to turn on services until the very last minute. This means that my lovely family of five is without basic services we Americans think is our constitutional right including water, electricity, gas and satellite tv for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Never fear, as I still hold the key to the rental house. I imagine it will be fun to pretend we are at the local campground dashing in our unmentionables down the street to use a running toilet and take a warm shower.

The Thanksgiving dinner won’t be a problem this year, as I have already impolitely invited myself to a dear friend’s house for the holiday. So what if it is their first Thanksgiving together? So what if they were married less than one month ago? Why wouldn’t they want to share this family holiday with me and my brood? Nothing says family planning like hosting three rambunctious boys at a formal sit down four course meal. My heart rate increases when they unveil the newly purchased 61 inch HDTV and sweat starts pouring down my forehead. The visions I have are not of my wonderful friend Wendy basking in the glow of the cooked turkey as she carries the platter from the kitchen to the dining table, or of that first toast to a wonderful meal, but of me intercepting nerf footballs as they are launched at the largest piece of electronics I have ever laid eyes on. I say a silent prayer as I catch the floor lamp in its arc towards meeting that shining, incredibly flat screen after a match of small boys wrestling and chug the rest of my mulled wine.

Now, maybe you are wondering what I was doing at that grocery in the middle of the night, if I have shamelessly invited myself to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It all goes back to recreating those wonderful meals from childhood. My husband is partial to a particular stuffing. I have to wonder though, what ever possessed his mother to brown bacon in butter? Isn’t that redundant? And what possesses me to do the same? I am a college educated adult, and I recognize that bacon doesn’t really need to be browned in butter to elevate the grease factor of the stuffing to ‘saturated’. Could it be I am still reeling from the fact that his favorite comfort food comes from his ex-girlfriend’s mother, even though we’ve been married for eleven years, and I’ve given birth to all three of his children?

Well, I didn’t do his stuffing. I’ve decided to not be so neurotic, and chose instead to make my mom’s fruit salad. It is a wonderfully sweet concoction made with (full fat!) cream cheese and marshmallows. She discovered it when I was just a babe in Alaska, out of necessity because they didn’t get many fresh fruits at the time. You’d have thought I was born during the ice age. My thought is, if the cans of fruit cocktail were so bad, they had to be smothered by cream cheese and marshmallows, I question the intelligence of eating them in the first place. Anyway, I had to dash to the local supermarket to get marshmallows because the boys had used them for their marshmallow guns (another story) and of course, the (full fat!) cream cheese.

I’m sure our neighbors were wondering as I ran back and forth from the new house to the old house carrying a sauce pan and some hot pads. But nothing was going to come between me and a groovy fruit salad from my past.

Even living oversea, the pull of comfort foods was strong. Whether I was boiling down enormous squash to make ‘pumpkin’ pie, or sneaking ham underneath my underwear in luggage traveling back to Cairo, we’d do anything to recreate that special meal. Friends and I would look for hours in store after store in the Philippines to find the right ingredients for chili. We thought nothing of going over our weight limit on the airplane if it meant bringing back a few extra jars of peanut butter. I’d travel four hours in a hot van to secure a can of speghettios for my deserving children. I’ve been known to pay the equivalent of $15 US for pop tarts while outside of the United States. This is the true test of honesty in a relationship. Do you confess to your spouse that you were idiotic enough to pay that amount of money for some pop tarts? You’ve got to really love them if you let them eat a pop tart when they are three dollars a piece. It was a challenge acquiring all these foods, but the sense of accomplishment and experiencing those familiar smells and tastes were worth it.

So, if you see me this next Thanksgiving eve, pushing a cart close to midnight, know that it’s a mission of love. And I forgot the cranberry sauce again.