Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh, Brother.

I was so excited when Kristen, Cathy and motherbumper invited me to a virtual baby shower for Julie, aka mothergoosemouse who is expecting her third child - her first boy! I've been away from the blogosphere for awhile and didn't even know Julie was pregnant, but I was honored to contribute by doing a post on raising sons.

And then it hit me: I have two daughters.

But I thought about it and seeing as I have three brothers, I realized that I could give out some valuable advice to Julie's two daughters on surviving life with a sibling of the opposite sex. So it's to them that I write this post, what I like to call:

Sweatpantsmom's Top Five Tips For Surviving Life With Brothers

1) Don't let them near your Barbies, or your Brats, or your Hollywood Hookers or whatever dolls are in vogue at the time. Trust me, they'll think it's high comedy to put Barbies panties on Ken's head. They never seem to understand that it's really not funny to have your friends walk into your room and find Raggedy Andy sitting next to Raggedy Ann with his hand down her pinafore.

2) They will always drink directly out of the milk carton and the orange juice bottle. This odd behavior dates back to the caveman days, where it's believed that the male would drink the woolly mammoth milk straight out of the sacred stone vessels and the cavewomen would go apeshit. There is no way to untrain this unfortunate behavior that seems to be an integral part of the Y chromosome. Do not even try. My advice to you is to stop drinking milk and orange juice.

3) Expect much more farting. I'm not talking about the occasional, accidental passing of gas that is usually followed by girly giggles and an 'oops' like you're used to, but all-out gleeful, devil-may-care farting that is performed proudly as if they were playing the cello at Madison Square Garden. Do not scream or pretend to faint after these displays - this only encourages them.

4) Be prepared for them to go through your yearbook and label all of your friends as 'Hot' or 'Dogs.' They will of course go gaga over Kelly, the one girl you hate and probably the only seventh grader you know who is on birth control. You can always bring them down to earth by telling them that Ms. Crane, the hot blonde english teacher they're drooling over is actually a lesbian.

5) Be prepared to use physical force to get your way. I don't care what anyone says, boys don't like to listen to girls talk, especially their sisters. Sure, as you get older you'll be able to have those deep heart-to-hearts to sort out your feelings, but until then nothing says "Get out of my room" like the threat of a flying cereal bowl, or the sight of you putting on your big heavy "kicking shoes." Don't let your parents know you heard this from me.

But brothers aren't all bad. They'll also loan you money to start a business, help you ditch school to buy concert tickets, babysit your children, be there through illnesses, walk you down the aisle when you get married, buy unreasonable amounts of candy and wrapping paper from your kids' fundraisers, give heart-wrenching speeches at your weeding and help you take care of your parents when they get older. Just remember that there will come a day when you'll actually enjoy being in the same room with them.

As long as they bring their own milk and some air freshener.

Julie, congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy!


Hear from more of Julie's shower guests here.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Well, At Least It Wasn't "My Humps"

The girls spent the night at their friends' house on Saturday night so that Rigel and I could get away for a whole, blissful 24 hours. We stayed at my favorite hotel and pretended we were rich, spoiled rock stars. Although, I did steal all the toiletries again and this time even tucked one of their beautiful pens into my purse, so I guess that would make us more like tacky, thieving, rock stars.

Kiyomi was a little worried about spending the night away. The last slumber party she went to at a classmate's, she had a hard time getting to sleep and ended up sleeping in her friend's mom's bed, which meant the mom got kicked into the den. This made for an interesting story when the dad, who's an airline pilot, came home in the middle of the night and the unlucky parents had to sleep on the floor in the family room while Kiyomi luxuriated in their comfy, king-sized bed.

So I was relieved when we picked the girls up on Sunday afternoon and Kiyomi said she had no trouble getting to sleep whatsoever. Slept like a baby were her exact words. When I asked her what she did differently, she said she had found the perfect song to listen to as she drifted off, one that made her feel warm and fuzzy inside and sent her floating off on a marshmallow cloud. The song? A breezy little Disney Channel theme song? A lullaby from her infancy?

No, it was Beverly Hills by Weezer. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

Beverly Hills
That's where I want to be
Livin' in Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills
Rolling like a celebrity
Livin' in Beverly Hills

Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between

I wanna live a life like that
I wanna be just like a king
Take my picture by the pool
'cause I'm the next big thing

Awww...looks like she takes after me. Nothing gets me sawing logs like the vision of housemaids and swimming pools.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Put Another Candle on The Rum Cake

Today is my birthday. For some reason I've never wanted to reveal the actual date of my birthday on my blog. I think with all the talk about cyberstalking and I.D. theft I got paranoid, and was afraid that some psycho reading my stories would somehow find a way to break into my bank account and steal that forty-nine dollars in there, or harm me for using too many serial commas. So let me just say to all the psychos: Seriously, there is only forty-nine dollars in there, and maybe some change. Your time may be better spent breaking into the DMV database and wiping that jaywalking ticket off your record.

I was born on my dad's birthday. He passed away almost nineteen years ago, but I remember him always saying that I was the best birthday present he ever got. Of course, back then I imagine the gifts may not have been all that spectacular - I'm guessing I only had to compete with a plastic change sorter, or another clip-on bow tie. I'm joking of course, but it makes me remember a woman I knew who was set to have a Wolf 8-burner stove delivered on her birthday, a gift from her husband. She seemed truly concerned that she wouldn't be there since she was set to gift birth on that same day to her second child, and I honestly think she was considering inducing an early delivery so that she'd be home to welcome that shiny new appliance to the family.

I share this birthday with a few other people. Besides my dad there's my sister-in-law's brother, the wife of one of Rigel's friends, and my favorite singer Mary J. Blige. I'd like to point out that not only do her and I share the same birthday, but the same first three letters of our first name, and the same middle initial. Coincidence, or some cosmic force joining us together in spirit? I'm hoping that if I ever meet Mary J. and tell her about all our similarities she'll be so excited she'll invite me back to her mansion and give me a Mercedes.

Update: Nicole Richie just had her baby, so now I share my birthday with her daughter, too. Did I tell you she's a close personal friend of mine?

My awesome husband let me sleep in today while he got the kids up and took them to school, made me breakfast, and then took over all household and child-related duties while I went out to see a movie. He's taking us all out to dinner along with a few friends tonight, and then whisking me away for the weekend. Am I a lucky woman or what? I'm totally going to stop beating him after this weekend, I swear.

I went to see Juno, which is the greatest movie, ever. I know I have a reputation for saying this after every movie I see, but this time I really mean it. It was everything - funny, sad, touching, edgy, biting - and had a great soundtrack on top of everything else. I'd have to say I may even like it more than my other favorite movie Little Miss Sunshine, and definitely more than the last movie I saw - National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I only saw that one because we were on a trip with some friends and it was the only movie playing at the local theater. The kids all liked it though, so we held our tongues until we got home and then the adults all sat around with a bottle of wine talking about all the things in the movie that didn't make sense and all the unnecessary plot twists, and can you believe Jon Voight is Angelina Jolie's dad? My friend Lisa was especially upset about Nicolas Cage's bad toupee, and seemed even more upset that I didn't know he was wearing one. Seriously, I just thought he was using cheap conditioner.

Getting back to today, I'm one of those neurotic, not-evolved people who isn't comfortable discussing my age with strangers, but let's just say I'm younger than Madonna and older than Britney. I look old enough to have kids, but apparently young enough that I got carded last week when I ordered a glass of wine at a steakhouse, and it wasn't because they thought I was eligible for the senior discount. I'm sure I'll divulge my age someday, although with my birthday and my actual age revealed on my blog that psycho who's after me out there will have a better chance or getting my forty nine dollars. I guess I'd better rethink that.

I'm going to go get ready for dinner now - I've got to brush my hair and apply a trowel-full of that new expensive wrinkle cream I bought at the mall last week. My sister sent over the biggest basket of cookies and muffins I've ever seen, so I'll kiss my diet goodbye and have a couple dozen brownies along with my early evening cappuccino. Our friends will be here in a few minutes, and then we'll go out to dinner where I'll have a couple of martinis and say a toast to this wonderful life that I'm so grateful for.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Comes But Once a Year, THANK GOD

Happy New Year!

How was your Christmas? I'm sure you're all still warm and fuzzy from the sights, the sounds and the smells of the holiday; the lights on the tree, the sounds of bells chiming, the smell of ham.

I am, too, but for me it was seeing the door slam, the sound of my child sobbing and calling me a liar and the smell of my brain on fire inside my skull as I fervently tried to dig myself out of a hole.

Because this was the Christmas that Kiyomi realized there was no Santa Claus.

Come join me as I relive that joyous morning, won't you?

In hindsight, I should have sensed trouble. She seemed pretty subdued for a Christmas morning. Her and Kira actually took turns opening their presents, like a pair of characters from an Elizabethan novel: I've opened one, now you open one, dear sister! Oh, isn't this splendid! In other words, polite and civilized, nothing resembling a normal human child on Christmas morning.

After the last present had been opened, Rigel and I continued our usual Christmas morning tradition: we went back to bed. This may not be something you practice in your home, but we figure what better way to celebrate Jesus' birth than to sleep like a baby in a manger for a couple of hours. After we woke up and made breakfast, we didn't give much thought to the fact that Kiyomi was at the computer instead of playing with the piles of toys and video games covering the living room floor. I figured she was probably on Craigslist trying to trade in those pajamas I bought her, or emailing one of her friends to complain about the fact that she hadn't gotten that puppy she asked for.

But when we sat down for breakfast I could tell something was wrong, and that's when Kira told me that Kiyomi had been Googling "is Santa Claus real?" all morning, and judging by her mood it was obvious she hadn't found that website called "You Bet He Is!" or that other one that has actual footage of the fat guy coming down the chimney, right next to that YouTube spot of BigFoot.

First let me say that the whole Santa Claus thing has always been my deal, not Rigel's. He never grew up with Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, or anything make-believe for that matter, although I do remember him telling me about tbe time in high school when he smoked that funny cigarette and saw the Easter Bunny chasing Eric Clapton across the desert.

So when the girls were small and we were discussing it, he wasn't in favor of it. In fact, I remember his parents being here at the time and they were trying to talk me out of it, but I insisted that MY KIDS WOULD GROW UP WITH SANTA, DAMMIT. I refused to accept the alternate scenario, telling the girls that all their presents came from Macy's and the only reason Santa was invented was so that the Salvation Army would have someone to ring that bell outside of Walgreens.

That said, I loved growing up with the idea of Santa, and I don't remember any trauma or feelings of deceit when I found out he wasn't real. it was just one of those things that you realize gradually, like the fact that your parents had sex at least a few times, or that Ms. Swain, your sixth grade gym teacher with the fanny pack and all the keychains was probably gay. I had good memories of writing letters to Santa, waking up on Christmas morning to see what he had brought me - I don't remember when I actually found out he wasn't real, although the fact that his handwriting was identical to my mother's should have tipped me off.

Getting back to Christmas morning, when I tried to ask Kiyomi if she wanted to talk about it, she ran crying to her room and slammed the door. What followed was like some script from a bad ABC AfterSchool Special, the one where a young Jodie Foster finds out that Santa isn't real and spends all morning asking, "Why, pa, why? Why'd you and ma lie to me?" only to find out that she's also adopted and her dog is dead. That's when she finds the ax in the barn and the movie ends with her chopping their covered wagon to pieces. It's a good one - you should rent it sometime.

Kiyomi yelled (through the door) for us to go away, that she didn't want to talk to us. That we had lied to her, and how could she ever believe anything else we told her? And what about "all the other children of the world who believe in Santa and their parents are lying to them?" Then there was the speech about how it was never about the presents, it was about the magic, and now the magic was dead, was gone, and it was all our fault, her lying parents. And there was the sobbing about how she had put her heart into those letters, and to now find out that it was her lying parents that were reading them the whole time.

Oh, and did I mention her parents were liars? She made sure to point that out.

And then the kicker. "And I suppose the Tooth Fairy isn't real EITHER??!!"

I thought about that one for a heartbeat, but then figured if we were laying it all out on the table why not go for it? And I remembered all those nights I had to stay up late and tiptoe into their rooms, and all the frantic midnight searches through our wallets for dollar bills, and the one time Kira woke up just as Rigel was sneaking in and he spent a good twenty minutes lying on the floor, trying not to breathe.

"No, honey, she's not real either."

*silence* *silence* *silence*


Maybe that wasn't the right answer.

In our defense, our answer to the "Is Santa real?" question has always been, "As long as you want to believe in him, he's real." And we honestly thought she'd figured the whole thing out anyways, since she'd been saying things like, "I can't wait for Santa to come! Or should I say, mom and dad?" and end it with a wink and a nod. During her tirade, we tried to explain to her that we had only done it because we thought that it would bring her joy, and that magic is something that everyone believes in at one time or another. She may have bought it, but at that point I think she was too busy sharpening her ax.

It went on forever, and ended with kind of a whimper, but I was in tears by that point and we were all tired of talking about it. I think she heard at least some of our fifty-thousand reasons why we had done what we did, because she finally opened the door and came out. Rigel went off to calculate how much money we would save next year by not having to buy separate gifts from Santa, and I left to pick up my mom to bring her back for Christmas dinner. By the time I got back, Kiyomi was prancing around, back to her old self, and came up and gave me a hug and thanked me for all her gifts. I'm thinking she may have suddenly come to the realization that there would be fewer gifts under the tree next year and not as many miniature bottles of nail polish in her stocking, and how any tooth lost would only get her a pat on the back and a small wax envelope from here on out.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, and I'm pretty sure that when the time comes for my girls to decide whether or not to have Santa in their kids' lives, they'll do it too. In fact, Kiyomi's already mentioned how Christmas may not be as fun next year without Santa (I interjected, "You mean, the FAKER?" just to be mean) and has hinted that she may still write him a letter, if you can believe that.

I think I'll just sign all her presents "From The Tooth Fairy."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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