Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Stinky Tale

Timmy puked in the toilet last Thursday. It was a big deal and he was all proud. It's a milestone in our house when the spawn reach the age where they wake up and know they're about to vomit and actually have the control of the esophagus (or whatever it is) to make it down the hall to the bathroom. We roll out the red carpet and have a party in their honor. And they get to drink their first beer.

So, when I heard the distinguishing "Mommy!" reach me in the ethers of deep sleep, I became worried that maybe Auggie had rolled over and puked all over himself and his bedsheets and his botty, thereby pronouncing his secondhood in the category of "making it to the toilet" as well.

There was a period of time when both boys were yelling "Mommy!" from their den in the middle of the night when they had lost their bottie, peed their bed, or puked in the space between the mattress and the side board. I asked them politely to please stop yelling from their beds and if they needed something from me in the middle of the night then they should get out of bed and walk down the dark hallway and up the dark stairs and find my pillow with my head on it in the dark and wake me up sweetly even if you have puke running down your chin. And wouldn't you know asking politely worked.

So, when I heard not one but two more "Mommys" last night at 3:19 a.m. my first instinct was to get mad. Any mother who has earned a full night's rest after having spent years waking up every 2 hours, and then every three hours, and then maybe twice a night, and then even just once a night deserves a full uninterrupted night of sleep for the rest of her life. Just my opinion. So, you can see where my anger might be justified.

But I slipped on my potato sack anyway and hustled down the stairs to see what disgusting chunky mess I would have to roll my sleeves up to clean up. In the dim light provided by the nightlight in the boy's room, I was able to make out Auggie and Timmy both sitting up in their beds. "What is it?" I asked, sounding annoyed. "Mommy," Auggie says calmly, "there is a skunk in our room."

What the...? And then I see it. I see the white tail dancing and its black shadow following very closely behind as he/she pulls the boys' toys off of their shelves.

"Boys, stay where you are and don't move a muscle."

I run back upstairs and do what I do best and wake Paul Bunyan up to save the day.

Me: "Paul, wake up. There is a skunk in the boys' room."

Him: "What? How did a skunk get inside our house?"

Me: "I think it came in through the cat door."

Him: "What the?"

Me: "Get up!"

When Paul wakes up from a deep sleep and has to move quickly to do something he doesn't think straight. Like the one night we went to sleep with the power out and in the middle of the night when it came back on the stereo, for some odd reason, turned on at FULL blast with the first song from the Oh, Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack on, (you know, with the guys on the chain gang working on the railroad) and he thought we were getting attacked by someone and so he took the time to put a shirt on but no pants before he started to run down the stairs.

Well, last night he jumped right out of bed, where he always sleeps naked, shuts the door to his porch. I don't really know why he did this. And he put on a pair of pants. No shirt.

By this time the skunk had exited the boys room and was over near our front door. Perfect. Paul says to me: let the dogs out the side door. They, at this point, don't know there is a skunk in the house. Me? I'm scared shitless because I'm supposed to have my closest friends over for dinner in 15 hours so I can give away all the spawn's shit that doesn't fit to anyone who will take it. No one would take this shit if it smelled like SKUNK! And not only that, but in one week we're having 7 of Paul's closest college buddies (and their wives) stay the night and I didn't want anyone having to sleep on skunk flavored sheets. So, yea, I'm shitting my pants.

Dogs go out the side door. I watch the skunky skunk suanter out the front door and now at this point I'm picturing the dogs, who are outside, realizing what the hell it is and chase it back inside. So, I stick my head out the side door and yell for the dogs to come to me. Liebe, of course, listens and comes right in. But Sydney, the dope that she is, picks up her head and starts to head towards Paul and the skunk. Thank the good lord I don't believe in that the skunk DOES NOT spray Sydney but rather comes back inside the house. But at this point Liebe is heading towards the front door and sees the skunky skunk and I see the skunky skunk raise that white tail like it's a forfeit flag and I hold my breath.

Me: "Liebe!"

Liebe comes like a perfectly good girl. I smell a tinge of skunk, but it's not super bad. I put her back outside.

Me: "What do I do?"

Him: "I don't know."

Skunky Skunk heads back down to the basement, where I have a feeling he's been hiding out all day. I remember hearing the crash of bottles at 5 a.m. the morning before and I think that was him jumping off the platform that we have set up for Hunter the cat to eat on and walk in/out of his cat door.

At this point we open the garage door to the basement and block off the stairs to the upstairs, so skunky skunk has no where to go but OUT. And this is the part where I go back to bed and hear Paul Bunyan wrestling with what I hope and think is STUFF and not skunky skunk. It takes him a half hour to maneuver it OUT.

After a shower.

Me: Did you get sprayed?

Him: No.

Me: Why did you shower?

Him: Because I was freezing cold. (remember no shirt)

Me: Were you just picking up down there or were you trying this whole time to get him out?

Him: He was trying to hibernate in our basement.


Him: Thanks for your help. (being sarcastic)

Me: Yes, well I thought maybe you would rather choose trying to get the skunk out of the house rather than picking up the skunk shit around the house tomorrow. Am I right?

Him: Hmpf.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Botties

I have failed to introduce you to some very important members of our family. They are slowly dying and may one day be reduced to shreds. But they've survived being left behind in mall bathrooms and have endured being washed with purple chapstick. They've been peed on and puked on. They have persevered through burns on the wood stove and have stayed stinky through many washes. They've been to New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Florida, Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Arizona. And lots of places in between.

Each of the spawn does something different with their botty (named because the boys couldn't say 'blankie'). A few of them have demonstrated for you.

Timmy pulls his between his index finger and his middle finger.

And rubs it.

And then he runs his fingers around the edges.

Until he finds his corner.

Where there is a hole. And then he proceeds to stick his finger into.

And sometimes he puts his hole in his ear and makes this sucking motion with his tongue and lips.

And sometimes he just smells the thing.

Auggie's botty is blue.

He wraps the engraved 'Auggie' around the index finger of his right hand.

And pulls it tight with his three other fingers.

And then proceeds to put his left thumb in his mouth.

He only sucks his thumb when he has his botty. (ding ding ding...take the botty away!!)

But it makes him happy.

Here is a picture of Claire refusing to show me what she does with her botties. She has two. But she has two tags, which she flicks on the tip of her nose. At the same time, she makes a high pitched squeeling noise with her nose. I'll try to record it some time- covertly. If she's not flicking the tags on the tip of her nose, she's rubbing them on the inside of her left index finger. She has a callous to prove this. Ask her to show you if you don't believe me. She generally just sniffs the suckers and subsequently hates it when I wash them.

It wasn't too long ago that I began to hate the Botties. I'll say it now. I hate the Botties. It might make me look insincere, and quite possibly the meanest mommy around. But I don't care. Here is how it goes sometimes.

2 a.m. I am sleeping. "Mommy, I can't find my Botty." "Timmy, it probably fell down onto Auggie's bed." "But Mommy, I looked. I can't find it." "Check your covers and come find me if you can't find it." A few minutes later. "Mommy, it's not anywhere." So, I go and find the sucker burried deep under the sheets. And everyone goes back to sleep.

7:30 a.m. We are backing out of the driveway. "Wait! I need my Botty!" "No. You don't. We're late and it's a 10 minute drive to school." "Yes! I do!" "Fine, quick. Go get it!"

3:00 p.m. Everyone has gotten home from school. "Mommy, where is my Botty?"
4:00 p.m. "Mommy, where is my Botty?"
5:00 p.m. I am making dinner and the Botties are getting twirled around my kitchen. "Get those things out of here!"

7:00 p.m. Bedtime. "Mommy, where is my Botty?" "I burned it."

Yes, I've resorted to saying "I burned it" every time they ask. It took awhile for them to realize that I was joking. Every time I said it they thought I was serious and a look of panic crossed their faces. And part of me was serious. I would have loved to have walked out to the big green monster and thrown those suckers into the boiling blaze. I would have shut that door and never had to look at another stinkin' Botty for the rest of my life. But that would be cruel. And my plan worked anyway. They have stopped asking. And I have stopped searching. If they can't find it, it's their loss.

But I respect the Botties place in our household. I'm just looking forward to the day that they are just remnants. I have a feeling it might be awhile.

So until then, my recommendation to you, if you're a new-to-be mom, give your babies pacifiers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hey, Mr. Tooth Fairy!

Yes, so I remember being in Mrs. Schweikhart's first grade class. I had my Holly Hobby metal lunch box and I had just finished unwrapping a bagel with cream cheese that my mother had so neatly folded in waxed paper. I took a big bite and hmph, out came my tooth.

That's all I remember.

Well, I knew things were going to start falling out all over the place here. Everything is loose. So, I went to the bank in my frilliest outfit and asked politely for 16 of the crispest one dollar bills. I've got 8 for him. And 8 for him. Because god forbid anyone receives 4 quarters.

I wrapped my crisp bills in a tightly sealed envelope and hid that sucker so Paul Bunyan wouldn't steal any of it for maple creemies.

And then wouldn't you know, this happened:

And wouldn't you know it happened to HIM first. Because he came out second, talked second, crawled second, walked second, pooped on the potty second, learned how to tie his shoe second, played T-ball second best, road his bike second best, played soccer second best.

And just this morning he was waving his dollar bill around FIRST thing. And everyone had to stop for a second and watch.

**In a frightful panic so as not to forget, and because I'm ghastly afraid of being the one to get 'caught', I taped a note (Hey, Mr. Tooth Fairy) and a freshly pressed one dollar bill from my hidden and sealed envelope to the front door. Strategically placed so that when Paul Bunyan came home from sanding and painting trim at his man lover's house, he would see that it was time. He, of course, has been known to do "magic" and leave special candies under the spawn's pillows at 2 a.m. when he returns home from the E.R. AND because he has a keen likeness in appearance to the tooth fairy, it just makes sense to me that he is more prepared and designed to take on this dirty duty. After just now interviewing him, he claims it was a painstaking job, filled with a long and suspenseful wait as Auggie tossed and turned for 20 minutes. When he was complaining to me about how difficult it was, my only reply was, "dood, wait until you have to climb up to the top bunk to steal Timmy's teeth." He says to me, "I'm retiring."

hmph. Now what are we going to do?

**can you guess which one is me??

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Monday

I had grand plans of putting together an IMovie for you so that when you woke up and came right here after your morning coffee, you'd be blown away with my movie making prowess. Yes. I have lots of footage that now can't be downloaded from my near prehistoric video camera. And so now the wanting starts. The scheming on how I can get my hands on a new HD video camera. Because we're in the 21st century. And well, it doesn't matter that we were in it when we bought the last one, we still need a new one. Because this, this doesn't cut it.

But good morning anyway.

From your "there is always something better to begotten" Hussy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Few Letters of Request

Dear Connie,

I'm still sort of upset with you for moving away halfway through my therapy work. I still need your help. I need you to help me figure out why I can live in a house with clutter and crap everywhere and, yet, my whole body seizes up and I start to have panic attacks when the tiny pieces from the Lego sets that the boys' received for their birthday get scattered throughout the house and are used for other things other than the helicopter or airplane or boat they were designed to be used with.

Love, your Hussy

Dear Lego Gods,

Why did you have to make such small god damn pieces?

Love, your Hussy

Dear Liebe,

Will you please stop pulling our nice pieces of pottery off the counter? You have broken my favorite sugar bowl and favorite butter dish, all in one week. You may have the yard....anything in it. You may dig holes, eat flowers, pee and poop anywhere. The yard is yours. Anything on the counter is mine. Do you understand?

Love, your Hussy

Dear hydrangea gods,

Will you please explain to me why this happened this year?

And why I only got ONE flower?

Albeit beautiful, one is never enough for me. See Connie? I still need your help.

Love, your Hussy

Dear Hunter,

Will you please kill the mice that are in the house and not the ones that are outside?

Love, your Hussy

Dear Circus Boy,

I know that we have been missing each other as of late. Although, I feel like I've been missing you more than you've been missing me. But that's okay. I understand that is sometimes how things work. I've also discovered how much I really love you. Despite feeling guilty that I love you so much, I still have to come to terms with the fact that I need my liver to function as well as it possibly can right get rid of those dead and dying spirochetes. So, I'm going to have to control my cravings for a little while. But we'll meet again...very soon. It won't be long until I have your cold long bottle neck in my hands again. And the birds will be singing.

Love, your Hussy

Monday, September 13, 2010

One of These Kids Is Doing His Own Thing.

**I've threatened to take $21 out of his bank account unless he agrees to go back in for a retake and smile for the f-ing camera.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sept. 11th

I remember exactly where I was- like my mother remembers exactly where she was when Kennedy died. I was in a trailer, parked outside the back doors of Penn Charter, teaching 9th graders about The Odyssey. I wore a maternity blouse, blue button-down, and a black skirt. I was four months pregnant with Claire. I remember.

I, in a timely fashion, recently read an essay by Barbara Kingsolver called Saying Grace. She wrote it right after the 9/11 attacks. I would like to share with you her last paragraph. The rest is worth reading as well, if you can search it out.

I wish our national anthem were not the one about the bombs bursting in air, but the one about purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain. It's easier to sing and closer to the heart of what we really have to sing about. A land as broad and green as ours demands of us thanksgiving and a certain breadth of spirit. It invites us to invest our hearts most deeply in invulnerable majesties that can never be brought down in a stroke of anger. If we can agree on anything in difficult times, it must be that we have the resources to behave more generously than we do, and that we are brave enough to rise from the ashes of loss as better citizens of the world than we have ever been. We've inherited the grace of the Grand Canyon, the mystery of the everglades, the fertility of an Iowa plain- we could crown this good with brotherhood. What a vast inheritance for our children that would be, if we were to become a nation humble before our rich birthright, whose graciousness makes us beloved.

yes. yes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The tea is good; though,

I'm having trouble with change. Are you?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Lake that Captain Arnold owned

My mother's name was Harriet Hix. Before she married my father. She hated the name. I rather like it. And if I write a children's book the main character will be Harriet Hix. My mother grew up in Vestal, N.Y. Her father's name was Ike, or Ira. Her mother's name was Mary. She has an older sister named Joanna.

That is all for now.

My grandfather had a hunting cabin on a small lake in Otsego County, N.Y. The lake is called Arnold Lake, in the town of Hartwick, which is nearby to Milford, which is close to Oneonta, which is right outside of Cooperstown. I'm sure you've heard of Cooperstown, right? Baseball Hall of Fame?

Well, someday I'll show you pictures of the old place. But I'm too lazy right now. And someday I'll tell you a story about the place and how it smelled like wood and mold and particle board, and how my grandparents used to sleep out on the screened in porch, and how there was a curtain that separated the bunk beds from the rest of the one room camp and how my brother and I would lay awake at night and watch the shadows of the adults dance in front of the woodstove.

Well, now, now there is a house. A house with water that runs from a well and not from the lake. A house with a real tub and not a metal one. A house with different floors and bedrooms and a kitchen with counters. My parents gone and changed it all up. I'm still trying to get used to it.

Well, in the new house on the lake of Captain Arnold (who is related to Benedict Arnold) is a journal. The journal is there for anyone who wants to retell a story, playback a weekend, remember the time they had. And it is unfortunate that as of late my departures from Arnold Lake have been hurried and disjointed with trying to find lost articles of clothing, lost toys, lost shoes, lost toothbrushes, lost bike helmets, lost dogs. So, it has been awhile since I've been able to sit in reflection on the morning of my departure and write something in response to our time there.

Which is why I'm going to do it now and maybe it will get transcribed there, or not.

Journal entry dated September 6th, 2010:

I think there has to be a finger slammed in the car door story somewhere, someplace in the history of every kids' childhood. You must have one. Yes? Well, we have one now too. I'll be waiting patiently for a few more. But I'd like to give you details of Timmy's story, only because he can't write yet. But I know he's dying to tell you it.

We were on a hunt for elderberries for dyeing. We'd tasted them at the take out. Verified of their sweetness and color, we loaded up in Grandpa's truck to find more. We packed bags and Swiss Army knives and scissors and dogs. I rode in the back with Sydney and Liebe and watched as the familiar landscape of my childhood passed me backwards.

Right onto Lake Rd. Left onto County Rd. something something. Right onto Goey Pond Rd. Up, up and up. I was flushed with the memory of riding in Grandpa Ike's Jeep Willy on the four wheel drive roads that crisscrossed the state forest surrounding Arnold Lake. We moved trees out of the way with his winch. His deliberate way always worked.

Today we passed houses that shouldn't be houses and lots of No Trespassing signs, but upon arrival at Goey pond we spotted more elderberries. Dogs out, spawn out, mom out, grandma out. Pop Pop went further to look up ahead. I walked along the shoreline a little ways by myself to scout out more elderberries when I realized how perfect of a deserted place Goey Pond is for dumping dead bodies. Just sayin'. I picked up a rock full of fossils and walked back to start filling my bag.

Everyone helped and it didn't take long before we had picked the bushes bare. We started to head back down Goey Pond Rd. to seek out others. Grandma had spotted a few up ahead on the right, except that they were pretty high and behind a nice pricker patch. So, she started to move around to the right and Pop Pop came in from the left and I split the middle. We were attacking the elderberry bush when I heard the spawn getting a little rowdy in Pop-Pop's truck. Timmy was in the way back and Claire and Auggie were in the back seat.

Well, it's more fun to hear it from the horses mouth, or ass, however, you want to look at it. His version is full of details. Not really, but you get to hear the desperation in his voice:

And so other than that we road bikes, built Legos, took out the boat, took out the dock, took out a few fish, went out for ice cream, ate like it was still summer time, smore's included. Oh, and the most exciting news of all: after I crapped in the woods (just seeing if you're still reading), we found Captain Arnold's foundation to his house. Yes, the steps are still there. Yes, we'll be looking for his grave next summer. Supposedly he is still searching for his gravestone. Someone took it. If you happen to see his ghost while you're visiting Arnold Lake you'll know that's what he's looking for.

I thank you, lake, for your cleansing spring fed waters, for your on-top of the world feel, for your air that makes everyone sleep better and eat more, and for your proximity to the stars that make me feel so insignificantly small. It's a wonderful feeling.

Pop-Pop used to take me out in the old wooden rowboat, down the very end of the lake, to fish. He would burp and fart and refuse to take me home. I don't really like to fish now. But at least I know why.

Mmmhhhm. Cows on the barby. Nothing better.

The old blue boat. Runs like a champ, except at high speeds and then it sounds like the fiberglass bottom is going to fall out. Original Evinrude engine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last Day of Summer

If I could suspend the summer in midair, I would hold on to brand new shin guards for soccer camp.

I would freeze frame Avalon Freeze.

I would bottle the ocean breeze.

And take a still photo of rope swings over the dark waters of Ricker Pond.

I would preserve my niece's blond hair and my nephew's blue eyes.

If I have to, I would glue the energy at the waterpark to the walls.

And freeze the conversations I had in my 24 hours in N.Y.C.

I would package up three flights to the border of Canada, fold in all the tubing, bald eagles, and smoothies.

I would record and save the cackles of little humans leaping into ponds.

And frame the view from on top of the world.

But most definitely, I would hold on to this day for the middle of winter when we're all covered in creosote from the woodstove.