Category Archives: Family life
Things have been busy in the last 6 months. Hell, thing have been busy in the last year. In fact, the last year has been a difficult one, which is why I’ve been so scare on the posts. It’s hard to write humorously when you’re mired in shit. That doesn’t mean that I’m not finding humor in my life, or that I’m focusing only on the bad times…just that I’m finding it difficult to take some of our everyday situations and turn them into a funny commentary on parenting, relationships, mental illness, atypical neurology, and what raging assholes 3 year olds are. Actually, that last one might not so so hard to write…
In the last year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, have had to readjust my expectations and my life based on my body and the medications I have to take to prevent irreversible joint damage, started weekly psychiatry appointments for Future Cult Leader to get a handle on her anxiety, ADHD, and daily meltdowns, I’ve struggled with my bipolar disorder, helped my mother after her surgeries (plural, with another one likely coming up) and the after effects of those surgeries (MRSA flare!), dealt with my aging grandmother’s progressing Alzheimer’s disease, hospitalization, moves to different homes and a rehab center for her severely broken shoulder and subsequent surgery, and other minor annoyances that are just part of life that have complicated some of the above events.
On the good side: Future Cult Leader is safely in a healthy weight range, has become a lot easier to handle, Evil Genius has made strides learning how to use the bathroom like a human being (no diapers, holla!), I’ve made some awesomesauce friends, gotten addicted to Words With Friends, had the privilege of officiating the marriage of 2 close friends, have managed a couple times to get my joint pain under control, have strengthened my relationship with Monsieur Stoic (today marks the 6th year anniversary of the day we became a couple), turned 30 (fuck yeah, 30!), have improved my photography skills (maybe eventually I can turn it into a career…who knows?), done a bit of traveling, and I’ve gotten to know my long lost brother who recently moved to Oregon from the Easy Coast to attend Oregon State University. So it hasn’t been all bad.
Tell me, readers…how has your last year been?
While I was at our favorite national big box store
picking up some new granny panties killing some time on the way to pick up Future Cult Leader from school, I found a mini spiral notebook in one of their dollar bins. As one of Cult Leader’s favorite past times is writing the Great American Novel, I bought one so I can live off her royalties encourage her love of the written word. After I presented it to her, this happened:
“Guess what I have for you?”
“Nope. I have this notebook for you.”
“Is this for me?”
“Yup. All yours!”
“So now I have my very own diarrhea?”
Yeah, baby. Your very own diarrhea.
Monsieur Stoic and I were in the kitchen, discussing how to end world hunger while fixing macaroni and cheese for lunch, when Evil Genius tip toes in. In her arms she is cradling her almost-as-big-as-she-is automatic Nerf dart gun, fully loaded. She is wearing a mischievious grin. Before we can register what is going on, she aims the gun at Stoic (as best as she can, considering she has to cradle it like a baby) and pulls the trigger. Synthetic material flies everywhere as she cackles maniacally, turning her body around so she is spraying the entire kitchen with suppressive styrofoam fire. Stoic jumps for cover so I spring into action, guiding Evil Genius into another position so he is assaulted by velcro tipped missiles. When the dust settles, our 2 1/2 year old daughter is giggling wildly, crowing in triumph. “I got you! I got you, Dad!” I cannot stop laughing. Stoic is shell shocked and appalled. “You little punk, I loaded that for you earlier and you had no interest in shooting!”
Folks, I give you Exhibit A.
Another undesirable trait of Monsieur Stoic’s is his habit of forgetting that I? Am not his height. I’m no shortie, standing as I do between 5’6″ and 5’7″. But at 6’4″, Stoic tends to stand a head above a lot of people, and it’s really hard for him to grasp that that 10 inches? Is a HUGE difference.
Going back to the same backyard project: while carrying the ladder from the back yard to the shop, Stoic lifted the ladder over a chair and was stopped short when I pulled on the ladder. “What?”
“I’m not tall enough to lift this ladder over this chair.”
His solution? Another tall person solution. “Then swing it over the table” which was to the right of the chair and in the direction we were trying to take the ladder.
“DUDE. That requires getting it over the chair in the first place! I CAN’T DO THAT.”
And again, later, when we were moving the porch swing….
“We need to move it back that way.” He motioned back about 8 feet, then proceeded to lift the swing near the top of the structure. I simply raised my eyebrow at him. He leaned down to pick it up where I was picking it up, down near the base, where I *actually* had the leverage to lift it.
Oh, and there was that one time we argued over whether or not I would be able to lift our 70 pound LCD TV onto the wall mount 6 feet off the ground. To get my point across, I agreed to give it a shot. Luckily, he stopped just before I dropped the freshly repaired piece of technology on his foot.
All the keys to the doors in the house? On top of the door frame. I can reach, if I stand on my tip toes, strain my shoulder, touch my tongue to my nose, and wiggle my right nipple. And he can’t figure out why I get so annoyed when all the doors are locked.
And, sooner or later, I invariably find all the most useful things in the kitchen on the top shelf. You know, climbing up on the counter was a lot easier when I was a kid. Now that I’m out of shape (it’s that damn bon-bon and soap opera habit of mine) and no longer 16 years old, lifting my foot above my waist AND THEN EXPECTING IT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE PULL MY WEIGHT OFF THE GROUND is more like the start to a bad joke.
I suppose I shouldn’t forget his point of view. After all, he’s been tall for the last 20+ years; plus, he’s spent most of his life doing physical projects with Womb Mate who is less than an inch shorter than him. But, I’ve decided all that is null and void because: he complains that he hates having to bend down to kiss me.
OH SURE, FORGET THE HEIGHT DIFFERENCE WHEN WE’RE LIFTING HEAVY SHIT BUT COMPLAIN ABOUT IT WHEN WE’RE MAKING OUT.
Monsieur Stoic has this terrible habit of forgetting that I am not his brother. See, they’re identical twins. This means I have nearly embarrassed myself a couple of times by almost grabbing my brother in law’s ass because the two of them often dress alike, completely coincidentally, so unless you’re paying super close attention to the tiniest of details it’s easy to confuse them from behind. Or while being bounced between them on a trampoline. But that’s another story.
As it usually is with twins, they have their own form of communication. They may not have the full extent of the twin ESP you hear about, but they can get by using only a couple words at a time and understand each other perfectly. I guess that kind of shorthand comes naturally when you’ve been womb mates. The problems is this: I didn’t share a placenta with my husband. I need more than 2 words to know what it is he wants. We’ve been a couple for 5 years, but that isn’t long enough for me to decipher his cryptic ass messages.
The other day, in order to make the house presentable for the photographer to come get some photos of the house so we can con someone into buying it, we needed to remove an extension ladder that leaned on the balcony off our bedroom. It was a 2 person job to take it out to the shop, so like a good little wife I agreed to give him a hand. “Walk it backward,” he told me. “It’s heavy.” As that was all he said to me, I assumed he wanted me to walk backward with the ladder, facing him, like one would help carry a table or a couch.
Stoic grabbed the ladder, straightened it, and started moving it. The feet started to come off the ground, so I grabbed the ladder at that end and tried to move backward with it. “No, don’t grab it. Walk it backward!”
“No you’re not!”
“DUDE. YES, I AM.”
“No, walk it backward.”
“Like put it upright and make the ladder walk backward?”
“No. Like this.” He proceeded to demonstrate by holding the ladder at a diagonal angle and walking backward while keeping the ladder stationary, moving his hands as though he was on monkey bars. The ladder’s feet never lifted off, and the ladder wound up safely on the ground. Oddly enough, he did this just fine without my help.
“Wait. So you wanted me to guide the ladder down to the ground so we could put it on its side to carry it?”
“So why didn’t you just say that? I’m not your womb mate. I need more than 2 words to know what to do.”
That same day, Future Cult Leader was Losing Her Shit last night in pretty epic form. A few days ago I swore that the next time she threw a fit I would take video to show her later and, okay, to get some validation by showing the video to people and going AND YOU THOUGHT I WAS EXAGGERATING. Since I needed to step back from her, I thrust her writhing body into Stoic’s arms so he could take her to tantrum in her bed where she wouldn’t get hurt or hurt someone else. Five minutes into their time upstairs, I get a text.
I stared at the words, trying to figure out what he meant. So I tapped out “what?” and hit send.
Perhaps it was because I was so rattled by the force of Cult Leader’s fury over a dinner she refused to eat, even though she didn’t actually know what it was, but I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say. Was she Losing Her Shit because I had mentioned we could rent a video soon and didn’t run straight to the nearest Red Box to pick one up? Of course, this would be more than adequate to send to Womb Mate, who probably wouldn’t have even needed the second text.
I responded. “Stop speaking in sentence fragments, please.”
He came back with “want to video the tantrum?”
SERIOUSLY. WHAT WAS SO HARD ABOUT THAT.
If you’re a mother, then chances are you know about Caillou. If you’re a mother and have half a brain, then Caillou annoys the ever loving shit out you.
For me, it’s not so much the cartoon itself. That bratty little 4 year old buys me an hour of peace every morning, an hour that I can use to
screw around on the internet get a bunch of chores done around the house. No, what gets me is its effect on Evil Genius.
First thing in the morning: “Dai-yoo? Dai-yoo?”
“Sorry, baby. Caillou is still night-night.”
Right after breakfast: “Dai-yoo? Dai-yoo?”
“Sorry, baby. Not for another hour.”
As soon as 9 AM hits…
And after Caillou hour is over and we turn the TV off…
Snack time: “Dai-yoo?”
Lunch time: “Dai-yoo?”
Before nap: “Dai-yoo?”
After nap: “Dai-yoo?”
Every ten minutes for the rest of the day unless she is occupied: “DAI-YOO, MAMA, PEAS? DAI-YOO?”
WHAT is it about that show? Why does it enthrall her so much? Why is she so obsessed with it? After much study and contemplation, I have my theory.
Caillou is sending out subliminal messages to my daughter. See, she is a clever, clever girl and already has a well-developed mischievous side. Suffocating her mother? She’s tried it! Strangling her sister? Check! Escaping the house when Daddy is in the bathroom? Hell yeah! The kid ain’t not no dummy, and she’s deceptively cute enough to use her powers for the dark side and get away with it. But she knows that in order to conquer all, she’s going to need some assistance.
That’s where Caillou comes in.
Caillou is obviously nothing more than a carefully coded message from the enemy, except instead of being tied to a pigeon’s leg it’s delivered via children’s cartoon. Are you over the age of 5? Nothing to see here! But for the wee ones there are cues in the animation, secret messages in the dialogue. The songs are cute but full of we’re-not-in-this-alone morale boosting. The credits pull it all together into a anarchist’s cook book for toddlers. That’s why Evil Genius is obsessed with it. Each episode covers a different topic and if she misses a day, that’s one more day she’ll have to put off her diabolical plan.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. THIS CHICK IS OFF HER ROCKER. I don’t claim sanity, but hear me out. There’s a reason this child’s pseudonym is Evil Genius. I invite you to come spend some time in my house. Watch what happens when we deny this child of her Caillou. Then you tell me: is this cartoon really as innocent as its creators want you to think?
Future Cult Leader comes home today after a week at her bio dad’s house. Here’s a list of things I didn’t miss when she was gone:
Cooking full fat meals
Since on a good day, Cult Leader weighs as much as a top of the scale 3 year old, we can’t cook the low fat meals I want so I don’t wind up looking like one of the hot air balloons that fly over our bedroom at 6 AM. Sure, I could make my meal or her meal separately, but I’m already playing goalie in the game of kids. Making a separate meal would be like trying to play pitcher at the same time.
I know, I know, I deserve to be publicly flogged for admitting that I yell. I remember mentioning to my sister in law that we sometimes yelled upstairs for Cult Leader to get in bed and go to sleep (though, that was more laziness than anything; we didn’t want to get off our asses and go upstairs) and she gave me this horrified look, like WHO LET YOU HAVE CHILDREN as she asked me, dismayed, “Wait, you yell at your kids?” Yes. I yell. And honestly, I haven’t yelled since Cult Leader has been gone. Well, that’s not true. I’ve yelled upstairs to Monsieur Stoic, and once when Evil Genius grabbed a knife out of the dishwasher. No one is perfect, so suck it. It’s one of those parental flaws I try to work on daily.
I don’t know if you know this, but tantrums are common in kids with ADHD. Between all the stimuli they experience (if you Google “Misunderstood Minds” and click the link that says “attention”, you can get a taste of what it’s like to be my daughter. I’d include the link but I tried that and WordPress won’t let me and I’m not smart enough to figure it out) and their impulsive nature, their emotional volatility tends to be higher than that of their peers. Cult Leader has a tantrum a day, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop them. Not dealing with them has been a relief.
Evil Genius and Cult Leader fight and bicker and HOLY CRAP MAN. You’d think that a 4 year age difference would make a difference, but they fight just as much as kids 2 years apart. One of these days, the fighting is going to escalate into World War III, and I shudder to think about the results. Cult Leader could easily start an uprising against the Evil Genius, but Evil Genius could plot some sneaky counter attacks. It’s entirely possible she wouldn’t even need help. She’s way more likely to get her hands dirty than Cult Leader, because Cult Leader would just get someone else to work for her.
The great thing about conversations in the car with Cult Leader is that you never have to say a word. The bad thing about conversations in the car with Cult Leader is you never have the chance to say a word.
Honestly, Cult Leader was more work than Evil Genius when Evil Genius was a baby. Oh sure, the reflux made the baby almost unbearable, but at least I could strap her to my chest as a solution. Well, and the 20 minute snippets of sleep at night sucked ass. But that was mindless. Cult Leader takes a lot of mental, emotional, and physical energy. She sucks it out of you, and I think even uses it herself.
It might sound like we were happy to get rid of her, and we were. Believe me, the need for a break was mutual. She was not at all heartbroken at leaving us for a week, although part of that might be because her older sisters were there for the week, too, and they are way more fun than we are. But we’re also really happy to get her back, and she’s ready to come home. The house was empty–and too quiet–without her.
Since we’ll be on a road trip having hotel sex and playing on the Oregon Coast for the next few days, I probably won’t post much, if anything. Enjoy the break!
Stoic and I finally settled on a road trip for our vacation. Tomorrow we will be driving up to Astoria, staying the night, and then taking Friday and Saturday to drive down Oregon’s highway 101, and coming back Sunday. And I’m excited to go, because not only is it a break from the kids, but HOTEL SEX! WOOT!
(Oh, and the change in scenery as well as the beauty of the Oregon Coast is a plus, also.)
In order to pack, I needed to iron a pair of jeans. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but I assure you it’s actually necessary and not my neurotic showing. My washer is awesome and I love it, but it has this awful tendency to crease the hell out of my clothes. My iron and I don’t get along and my steamer and I have been in a few arguments, so I will take whatever steps to avoid it I can, even if it means smacking the crap out of my clothes before throwing them in the dryer on refresh 5 times.
Ahhhh, energy efficiency.
So I lay my jeans on the ironing board with my nemesis in hand. Lo and behold, what do I find?
Those circles are glitter, and all the arrows are pointing to all the different directions you can find glitter on my jeans.
So EVEN THOUGH I line dried the shirt, and EVEN THOUGH I shook out all the clothes before I put them in the dryer, and EVEN THOUGH I shook them out when I folded them I STILL HAD GLITTER ON MY JEANS.
All thanks to this shirt:
To exact my revenge, I took it outside and beat it to get rid of the loose glitter. Instead, I succeeded in making it look like Tinkerbell took a shit on my front porch.
There is now a glitter shirt embargo placed on this house.
Monsieur Stoic, as I may have noted, is a bit anal. He’s can be so literal and so precise at times that you (well, I, really) just want to kick him in the shin. (Note: I am not advocating violence. I’m merely expressing a fantasy.) I am not usually so exact. However, there are moments where the two of us trade roles. The difference is the situation as well as the reaction. When I’m being anal, I freak out. When he’s being anal, he gets really mocking. Let me give you a glimpse of what this is like.
Example A. We are out shopping for groceries. We walk by the milk case, where I open the glass door and reach in for a gallon of 1% milk.
“Don’t grab that one.”
“Check the date on the one behind it.”
“I’m not checking the date. That’s stupid. We’ll go through this gallon in 3 days.”
“Check the date so we have the freshest milk possible.”
“I’m not checking the date,” I say as I set the jug in the cart. He calmly removes it, opens the cooler doors, and swaps it out for a gallon with a use by date 3 days after the one I originally grabbed.
“That was” he chuckles “SO hard, wasn’t it?”
Example B. Since we’re in the process of getting our house ready for sale we need to make things more…presentable. We need new guest bed sheets, so while we’re out and about, I look at sheet sets. (WHY the hell do they make 8 piece sets that have a bunch of stupid pillows and not a single fucking sheet in the set? It makes no sense to me. WHO DRESSES THEIR BED WITHOUT SHEETS?!) I settle on a set that looks nice but has all the necessary pieces and goes with the scheme of the room. I bring it to the cart.
“How much is it?”
Stoic gives me a look. “I’m not paying $80 bucks for a set of sheets.”
I bristle. “Look buddy, I’ve been looking for sheet sets. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a decently priced set of sheets that have everything in it? This is a good deal.”
“We can find it cheaper online. Go put it back.”
I chuckle in that way that suggests I am not amused. “You have to be kidding me.”
“I’m not paying full price for a sheet set.”
“But it’s not full price, that’s the sale price.”
“Not cheap enough. We’ll buy it online.”
I growl, but I walk off with the sheet set to put it back. Should have made him do it.
Example C. We are getting ready to can home made vegetable stock, because it’s cheaper and tastier than that crap you buy in a can at the store. We’ve never used a pressure canner before, but he’s helped his dad make pickles, and we’re pretty good at reading. How hard can it be?
“How much is in there?”
“I don’t know, I’m filling up the measuring cup.”
“Why not use a ladle?”
“Because this is easier.”
“But you’re not filling it up to the 2 cup mark.”
“Then I’ll get some more in there,” he says, moving to dip the cup back in the heated broth.
“Just use a fucking ladle,” I say exasperatedly, shoving one in his hands.
“Wait, you didn’t pour all that in.”
“It doesn’t all fit.”
“But how much did you put in there?”
“I dunno. A cup and a half?”
“Honey, I need to know.”
“I didn’t measure. I can’t tell you,” he replies without sympathy as he loads up the next cup without really looking at the amount.
“HEY.” My frustration is palpable, but he dumps it into the waiting jar anyway. “You need to measure that!”
“It’s not that big a deal.”
I’m more or less panicking, so my voice is getting shrill. “YES, it is. I cook with this stuff, I need to know how much is in there so I don’t have to measure.”
He shrugs. Inside, I’m screaming. I take over filling the jars and learn that a pint jar? Doesn’t actually hold a pint.
“But I need these to hold 2 cups! If it doesn’t hold 2 cups then it messes up my plan!” And I’ll lose my homemaker badge and life will suck and BLARGH. So, in light of this lesson, it makes sense to me to start filling some of the jars in 1 cup increments, so I fill one of the jars half full.
“You can put more than that in there.”
I snap at him, “NO. This is how much is going in this jar because this is a logical amount.”
No conflict until we’re outside with the camp stove and pressure canner. This happens:
“How much pressure is needed?”
“Ten pounds.” Not that I knew, but I had looked it up on the internet BECAUSE THE INTERNET KNOWS EVERYTHING.
Fifteen minutes later….
“Wait, the pressure gauge is reading 11.”
“It’s like cooking with the pressure cooker. You get it up to pressure and have to relieve pressure when there’s too much.”
“How do we relieve pressure on the canner?”
“You don’t. You turn the heat down.”
“But what if it keeps going up? It’s supposed to be at 10!”
“It’s not going to hurt anything if it goes up a little. I wouldn’t let it get to 15 or anything.”
“BUT THE INSTRUCTIONS SAID 10. IT’S AT 11. IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD.”
Of course, after I relent and let the pressure vacillate between 10 and 12 without having a cow, the pressure drops to 8. I start to worry. IF IT’S DOWN TO 8 THEN WE’VE RUINED ALL THE JARS AND WE’VE DONE ALL THIS WORK FOR NOTHING AND OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW POORLY THIS IS GOING.
Stoic comes out to check on my progress. I’m not visibly upset, but as soon as I open my mouth…
My head explodes.
On second thought, I’m not anal. I’m just neurotic. My bad.
I know some moms do a load or 5 of laundry every day, but I’ve always been a person with a laundry day. I much prefer to get it done in one shot than to spend time every day folding clothes. Oh sure, I could have Monsieur Stoic do it, but his way of doing laundry is appalling and makes me twitchy. In fact, on the rare occasion he does do laundry, I write him out detailed instructions because I’m a control freak who can’t let go. Or something like that.
Part of having kids is buying clothes, so we went to a department store some time last week to return a couple items that sucked and pick up some things that don’t suck. Since Future Cult Leader has this thing where she grows taller and taller, she’s heading straight for the girls 7-14 section. This both excited and saddened me. It’s sad because, oh hey, last section before the juniors section! And what’s in the juniors section? Clothes that I don’t find appropriate for girls under the age of 18! The excitement? Came from my hatred of glitter.
Fucking glitter. It was an awful Mariah Carey movie (erms…from what I heard, anyway), everyone jokes about how it’s the dumb way for shit to go down when vampires from crappy series that have a cult following step into the light, and like Dimitri Martin said, it’s art herpes. It gets everywhere, and you can’t fucking get rid of it. Why is this relevant? BECAUSE CLOTHING COMPANIES PUT GLITTER ON LITTLE GIRL CLOTHING. My god, I think I’ve even found it on little girl underwear. WHO NEEDS GLITTER ON FREAKING UNDERWEAR WHEN YOU’RE 5? TELL ME. I REALLY WANT TO KNOW.
It’s like the people who manufacture clothing are soooooooooooo desperate for your money that they’re pimping out their shirts however they can. Or jeans. JEANS. It’s not enough to be cover the body and maybe be stylish. HEY, BUY OUR SHIT. WE NEED MORE CIGARETTES AND HOOKERS OVER HERE. Put glitter on a little girl shirt and you can guarantee that most little girls who walk by are going to pull this number:
“*GASP*! Authority-figure-who-has-taken-me-shopping-and-made-the-mistake-of-walking-by-the-girls-clothing-section, see that shirt? It’s glittery! It’s so pretty! Please please please please buy it for me! I really really want it! I’ll do anything for it! You want me to kiss your toes? I’ll lick the bottom of your foot if you just buy me that shirt! All the kids are wearing shirts with glitter on them, it’s so shiny and beautiful and please please please please?”
My girls are not girly girls. I don’t have a problem with this, because kids should get dirty and wrestle and play hard and jump and not worry about getting dirty or breaking a nail. Don’t get me wrong. Cult Leader loves herself a pretty dress, and Evil Genius loves to put on pretty shoes and every article of clothing she can hijack, but then they go outside to roll around in the mud, much like Scrooge McDuck would roll around in money. Danger? They laugh at it. Getting loud and rowdy? Yup. Non stop activity? Hell yes.
But if you show them a shirt with glitter on it, that’s the only shirt in the world they want and will stop at nothing to get it. Even the 2 year old is attracted to glitter, kind of like a magpie. Those clothing companies, they addict them young. So I figured, hey. Once we hit the big kids section, THERE WILL BE NO MORE GLITTER. What self-respecting 7 year old wants glitter on her clothes?
The shirts Stoic picked out for Cult Leader? COVERED IN MOTHERFUCKING GLITTER.
I can’t escape it. That shit is my lot in life. And the worst part about glitter covered clothes? They make more glitter covered clothes. I can shake the hell out of mine and Stoic’s clothes when they come out of the dryer but since glitter is like herpes, or worse than herpes, we’ll still find it when we put the clothes on, or 10 washes later.
If I was ambitious, I would start an anti-glitter campaign. Because no one’s lint trap should look like this: