Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Me To The Church On Time

The project started a month ago in a dressing room at Kohl’s. I should have known that the athletic event of trying on a vast array of Spanx in a tiny, hot, starkly white and mirrored cell would be just a glimpse at the gargantuan project ahead. My husband’s brother’s wedding was no longer just a blurb on the calendar. The day was coming and it was now in big bold letters clinking off the cells in my brain. I had a lot to do and a little time to do it. The first necessity and I mean NECCESSITY – was finding some type of spandex/lycra suit to envelope myself in that would make me look 50 pounds lighter. Well, I’m going to break it to you now, if you are as na├»ve as I, there is absolutely no such thing. I know there is no such suit. How do I know, you ask? I spent a Sunday afternoon trying every kind of certified fat crammer inner on, and do you know what my scientific study revealed? One can try all day to cram fat into a tight suit, but the truth is the fat is still there and it will find a way out. I believe it should be added to Newton’s Laws: Squinched up fat will find a way out. I bought one anyways hoping that maybe it would smooth a roll here and there. It may have helped, but mostly it caused shallow breathing and nonhuman-like body contortions to slip it off under my dress to use the restroom.

The big day had arrived. My husband and son had their tuxes hung neatly in their closets. My daughter’s dress was ironed and ready. Presents were wrapped and the camera was charged. The morning was uneventful, and the wedding didn’t start until 4pm, so we had some extra time on our hands. We ran errands. My husband busied himself in the garage, and like any husband who busies himself in the garage he entered into the man-project time warp. It must be some kind of time continuum worm-hole that makes an hour seem like five minutes. Nevertheless, you can predict what happened next. I stepped out of the shower and looked at the time. My husband had to be at the church at 3pm. It was 2:15pm, and he was in the garage. I leapt down the stairs in my towel, and with my very best angry wife voice asked, “Do you know what time it is?” There was a slight recognition on his face, like he might see a connection between my nasty question and something important he forgot. So, I decided to reword my question, “Aren’t you supposed to be at the church at 3pm?” Oh yes, that did it, it was like he was pulled out of his time warp safe haven in an instant. The fear, the stress – it was invigorating. I’ve never seen someone shave and adorn oneself in fancy wedding attire in such a small amount of time.

My husband did it. He managed to get to the church with time to spare, but I was left alone with the task of readying my children and myself. The explanation of the next 40 minutes will not do itself justice. I can’t imagine what my neighbors were thinking of what must have been the best free entertainment they had ever had the pleasure of watching. I got my son dressed first. He is three and his attire of choice on any given day is his Toy Story shirt, underwear, and one sock. I’m finally starting to accept it, but I don’t understand it. He was scowling and complaining. At one point he threw himself down in despair. I had to bribe him with a new train. I never bribe. Um, I almost never bribe. The next thing on my list was to find a screwdriver and battery to set up the new train. I couldn’t unscrew the battery chamber. I couldn’t understand the directions, and my armpit sweat glands started overproducing. Then I realized that it did not matter that I could not unscrew the battery chamber, because the only directions I understood were that the train needed a C battery. We had no C batteries, of course. We had AAA, and AA, and D, and the little tiny disc batteries. Ok, crisis number one without a solution – an inoperable train and an angry, bribed three-year-old.

I decided to get my one-year-old daughter dressed next. Easy! Okay, Then I had to cram my big feet into small, delicate, jewel encrusted, high-heeled shoes. Not too bad, but the procedure caused my hair to start sticking to my sweaty face and neck. I got the bags packed, and presents loaded. Next, I placed the kids in their car seats and buckled them in, so that I could finish the rest of my preparations. The dog had to go out. I had to find the dog and make him cooperate. Everyone with a dog knows that if you need your dog to do his business in a hurry he won’t. He will roll in the grass, sniff around, pretend to sniff, and slowly make his way to find just the right spot. He was probably cashing in on a vendetta he had against me for not sharing a snack with him the night before. Our dog took his time. Oh, was the sweat a pourin’!

Finally, when I made my last trip into the house through the garage I noticed the second crisis – the project my husband had been working on so diligently in the garage was now severely damaged. He had been installing a soft flooring which had been punctured nearly a million times by my heels on my many trips to and from the van. I was in trouble, no I was mad, it was not my fault that I ruined the new floor. I needed help, and if he had not spent all of his time installing the floor he could have helped me with the kids and the whole new floor aeration could have been avoided. I also got a great idea from the ordeal that would help me in so many ways. I could charge people to aerate their yards with my heels – in turn I would make some extra money and quite possibly lose some weight and not have to worry about trying on and purchasing fat crammer inners. I decided I would just play dumb when my husband asked what happened to his beautiful flooring.

On the final trip to the van I managed to complete the most death-defying, exciting stunt of the day. Due to our small driveway and my husband’s placement of newly purchased mulch and flowers I had to shimmy past the trash can and air conditioner in my sagging dress that I did not have time to pin. Crisis number three – a tie on the back of my dress caught the trash can, which I proceeded to drag down the driveway as I slid in my fancy, aerating capable, jewel-encrusted wedding heels. I dusted off the front of my dress as it had done a nice job removing the dust off of the side of our van. I detached the tie from the trashcan. I pulled up the gaping wide open top of my dress, and with what dignity and poise I had left, I hopped into the van and slammed the door.

I made it to the church early, sweaty and stress rash covered, but early. As luck would have it my Mama pulled into the parking lot right after me. She pinned my dress, retied my tie, and saved the day like only a Mama can! The wedding was beautiful and the reception was fun. I think for the next wedding we will be showered, dressed, and packed hours before it begins.

A Day At The Zoo

I was awakened by a boy wearing only jungle motif jammy bottoms and complaining of severe hunger. My eyes shuttered. I grunted and rolled away. My survival instincts were kicking in and my body knew that if I played dead there would be a 50/50 chance that my sleep steeling predator would move on to more lively game, like my husband or dog. Nope. It didn’t work. The restless native used more aggressive measures to wretch me out of my glorious stayed-out-too-late-last-night, probably-haven’t-made-it-to-REM-sleep-yet slumber. I was probed in the back by Buzz Lightyear, and he was saying things, very loud and obnoxious things. There was no way out, not with a three-year-old boy with hunger pangs.

I cricked and creaked my way down the steps whispering loudly to please keep it down since baby sissy was still sleeping. I’m sure it’s normal for three-year-old boys to jolt awake and flit about with as much energy as a frat house hopped up on Red Bull on a Friday night, but it just seems so unnatural. I need time and space. Oh how I need space and peace. Yes. But forget it. It never happens for me. I have to turn it on and try to match the excitement Georgie has for a brand new day. He always acts surprised that the sun actually rose up off the horizon and lit the world. I guess we just take it for granted. I would prefer to be in bed at sunrise and for a few hours thereafter.

Nevertheless, we had to start eating immediately, because this was a day for big things. We had plans and they would take us on the “eventure” of a lifetime. George finished off three bowls of cereal. His baby woke up. George refers to his little sister, Evie, as his baby. Things were really coming together. My husband and I packed. We packed and packed and packed. And anyone with two very small children know that we continued packing and making trips upstairs and to the garage several times. During the packing the natives were getting restless. There was pinching by the toy box, hair pulling and toy stealing by the front door, and dog riding under the dining table. There were stainless steal pot lids clashing as symbols and squealing with joy at big bubby’s ingenuity. And yet there was still packing and some arguing for good measure. And of course, right on cue, when we were walking out the door there was pooping. By the grace of God, a bottle of Alieve, and some kinda luck we were on our way to the National Zoo.

I was giddy as we walked through the entrance. We made it after all. It was like making it to the finish line at a marathon. George insisted upon seeing the farm animals first. Have you ever been there? The farm animals at the National Zoo are probably cleaner than my dog, and for sure cleaner than my children. They must get bathed daily. Oh, and their barn is immaculate. The inside is covered in richly stained, cedar planks, and there wasn’t a scant trace of manure. I was ready to move in. Let me be a donkey here. Show me to my stall please. I’m pretty sure that George would have spent the entire day looking at the goats, but we had more exotic animals to see.
The first treasure George spotted after the livestock was cotton candy. I don’t know how he knows what cotton candy is. How do kids do that? They learn things and you don’t even realize it. Well, he certainly knew what it was and he wanted it. He wanted it more than he wanted to breathe air. I resisted. Only a neglectful mother would let her baby boy eat mounds of fluffy, artificially colored sugar. He became obsessed. Around every tiger, sloth, naked mole rat, and lemur was more cotton candy. It got hot. We ran out of water and nutritious snacks. I was thinking about falling into the Cheetah enclosure just to get a few minutes of peace in the shade and drink some cool water. It was just that bad. There it stood a lemonade/cotton candy cart, and we gave in. George picked his color. He was in bliss, and we won, as well. The walk back to the car was quiet – sticky, but quiet.

The ride home was none to pleasant. I can tell you that that much sugar in a three-year-old body should probably be illegal unless you have about 50 fenced in acres and some kind of harness or animal trainer. I’m still not sure how the seatbelt contained him, and I was pondering ways to sedate him in a humane fashion. When he finally came down from his sugar high and was able to respond in a semi normal way to questions, we asked him the key question of the day. “George, what was your favorite part about our day?” I predicted he would say Amazonia or the Reptile House, the misting machines would even be an acceptable answer. His honest and hurtful response: “THE COTTON CANDY!!!” I even tried asking him later in the evening and before bed, but every time I asked I got the same wretched response.

Needless to say, we will not be going back to the zoo anytime soon. I realized that I have my own zoo at home. I would rather not pack the entire house, drive 40 miles in hoards of traffic, pay $20 to park after preying on exhausted families for their precious piece of asphalt in the city, and be harassed about eating 10lbs of colorful sugar. I think I’ll stick around the house at my own zoo for a while.

The Great Food Swap

As if my life is not chaotic enough with a ten month old and a three year old, I have the most high maintenance, lazy creature best known as a dog for a pet. We have a miniature, long-haired Dachshund slapped with the moniker, Bruiser, that my husband let me get for my birthday right after we got married. He would best be described as a black and tan ottoman as he has the broadest back and shortest legs of any creature this side of the Mississippi. On the rare occasion I have enough gumption to drag his lazy 17 pound (supposed to be 10 lbs) body into the open for public scrutiny I get assaulted with questions about my fury creature. No one knows what he is, and when I tell them the breed I get squinched faces and suspicious “hmmmmms” as replies. People act as if I’ve smuggled a rare, squat, fury, clawless sloth from the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica. Or perhaps they are pondering my obvious stupidity for being coerced into believing and subsequently forking over large sums of money to a breeder for a “pure bread Dachshund” of which the poor thing does not resemble. Before we had children I loved Bruiser fiercely. I still love him, but he’s at the end of the line, and these days he just adds stress to every situation.

Poor Bruiser is ghastly overweight and he will not walk. I have to lug him, or in some situations drag him to the grass so he can relieve himself. I am not amused by his tomfoolery. It’s utterly exhausting to cater to his every demand. He will also not walk down steps of any kind. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and make excuses about his short-leggedness, but deep down I know he’s giddy that he gets airlifted to any location of his choosing and at any time he pleases. His demanding bark is such a shrill, grating sound that you have no choice but to give in just to get a reprieve. He expects to sleep in our bed every night and given a few seconds to roam he will forage and root around until he finds that perfect, cool spot under your pillow. He then performs his nightly ritual of scraping, scraping, scraping, circling, circling, circling, and plop. My husband sweetly barricades my pillow with decorative pillows so our hound cannot penetrate the barrier, therefore leaving my pillow in pristine condition. By nature Dachshunds are burrowers. They will find the smallest nook in your home and make it their lair. My sweetly smelling pillow is Bruiser’s first choice for a sleeping locale with my husband’s as a close second. On most days I too will protect my husband’s pillow from Bruiser. But sometimes, as we all know, husbands can annoy you to your very core. On those weary nights I let Bruiser excavate the little space under my husband’s pillow and make it his haven. I lay in bed awaiting his grunt of annoyance when he surprisingly unearths the beast from his sacred den. I chuckle to myself and think “one point for the home team”.

Lately Bruiser has not been eating his weight management dry dog food. For five years he has gobbled up his dinner as soon as he has been presented with it. In fact, feeding time is so significant to him that he starts his demanding bark and complementing whine at least one hour before his meal is expected, which makes dinner time in our house that much more fun. So, as you can imagine it is quite a surprise that he is not touching his food. He is being aloof about his food even. Me being me, I have pondered and worried about this new phenomenon. Is he sick? Is he dying? Is he tired of the same kibble? Why? I have analyzed and hypothesized… and then I saw it. The answer to my question came in the form of a newly walking baby girl who thinks she lives at a petting zoo and Bruiser is her own personal pigmy hippo or ring tailed lemur, or some type of animal that is allowed to eat senseless amounts of food from sweaty little palms at a God forsaken stench filled petting zoo.

My sweet little baby girl has been walking for two weeks, and subsequently has found new uses for her free hands, which benefits Bruiser in such a supreme way that he must think he has checked into dog heaven a little earlier than expected. His ship has come in, and he is reveling in his own glee. No, I wouldn’t eat dry, crunchy, foul tasting dog food if I was being hand fed the delicacies found left over on a baby’s high chair. I saw their little scheme with my own eyes, and couldn’t help but smile. After Evie finishes her meals I wipe her down and get her out of her high chair, which has been lowered to the shortest setting so she can easily reach her tray when she’s standing on the floor. She reaches back onto her tray takes a bite of any morsel she can seize and gives the rest to the shameless dog who sits expectantly at her feet. The astonishing part of the whole event was that Bruiser tenderly and ever so carefully licks the food off of her hand. I watched in amazement as the pair repeated the act several times. Both were in their glory. Of course I had to show my husband at dinner that night. We quietly observed from afar like spectators at the zoo. The two have such a cute relationship. It almost warms your heart. Almost…but then I discovered what was becoming of the dog food that sat uneaten in the stainless steel bowl. Two guesses…..?

It’s like a food cycle gone wrong. I don’t know what to call it. The only thing that comes to mind is The Great Food Swap! My sweet little baby girl thinks that weight management dry dog food is a delicacy that must be swiped swiftly and quietly in warm, chubby, little baby hands and whisked quickly to a second location to be enjoyed in privacy and quiet. I don’t know how long it has been going on. I don’t know how to accept it. Right under my nose the smallest creatures of the house have been swapping food with a silent understanding and sense of respect for each other’s diet, and they’ve been enjoying it.

I’m sad to say that their fun is over now. The free trade agreement between species has been severed. It means more work for me. For now, I have to put the dog food in a secret location, and I have to clean Evie’s tray immediately. I see the sad, longing glances between them. Had it not been a major sanitary issue I would still be turning my head and ‘ignoring’ the swapping. The relationship between baby and dog was so sweet, so trusting. I realized that as adults, sadly, we have a lot we could learn from a baby and a dog’s relationship. The two cannot speak to each other, do not look remotely similar, but yet they have a pure, loving, kindly relationship in which they are each openly willing to share what means the most to them…food.