Monday, April 30, 2007

Be BankBe

The bedtime prayer sessions are yielding some hilarious moments...I am so glad we started doing this!

A couple nights ago we were settling in to Plato's room for prayers. For some reason every night it's an issue as to whose bedroom we pray in. I try to keep things fair and even but let's face it, some nights I just can't remember whose turn it is. So we knelt in Plato's room and made the sign of the cross.

Plato said he wanted to go first. He said, "I am thankful for everyone and everything. But except bullies. The End."

Ahhh, wasn't it nice when bullies were the ultimate evil?

Then it was Lulu's turn. She doesn't say the phonics of "Th" and "F" so she said, "I be bankbee,...uhh...Skittles! ORANGE skittles...and dat's all." I asked her if there was anything else she was thankful for. She put her pudgy little finger on her chin and looked up at the ceiling, her classic thinking gesture. "Well...I be bankbee por GREEN Skittles too...and WED ones...and LELLO ones...and BROWN ones....and PUHPUH ones...and dat's all !"

"Hmmmm..... BROWN Skittles? I don't think there are any brown skittles, honey. Do you mean brown M&M's?" Being the excellent therapeutic communicator that I am, I tried to give her some gentle guidance in her attempt at Skittle categorization.

She kept a straight face as long as she could (she is really good at this). Slowly, she got this impish look on her face, gave me a huge grin, and proclaimed, "I GOT YOU MOMMY!! HA HA HA!"

I am amazed that at almost 3 she has such a grasp of humor and comedic timing. Plato's idea of a great joke is still: "Knock, Knock. Who's there? Squirrel. Squirrel who? Squirrel who fell out of a tree and lost his nut!! HA HA! Good one, huh Mom?" He just doesn't quite get it...which is fine, age-appropriate even. But Lulu seems to have a bit more sophistication in this department. I guess it goes along with her mischevious and happy-go-lucky personality.

Next post might be about Lulu and her Bumby...more later.

Friday, April 27, 2007

JeepMan's OCD

I wrote on an earlier post that I would write sometime about JeepMan's OCD (for anyone who doesn't get it, that's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). It drives me absolutely crazy.

Does he really have OCD, you might ask? Well, clinically he might not qualify, but if you are logging the amount of time and energy he and the family have had to devote to his obsessions, I would give a vehement YES.

The strange thing is that his OCD seems to be direct-able by him to the things that he wants to obsess about. The Jeep, for instance. Or purchasing things that excite him (often Jeep-related). Or the lawn.

A recent example of his OCD: last weekend. I took the kids swimming last Friday evening. I did this not only to have some fun quality time with Plato and Lulu, but to get us out of the house for JeepMan's premeditated obsess-fest. He had told me that he was planning to do some maintenance on the trailer that we use to tow the Jeep, and to "get the truck ready to pull the trailer." Silly me, I thought when we bought the truck last month that it was ready to pull the Jeep...I mean, it has a hitch, four tires, and an engine! So I knew we would not see him Friday night anyway.

Well, his plans changed. He went out with his office for pizza and beer on Friday. Fine, no big deal....until Saturday. Saturday ended up being spent doing all the things that were supposed to be done Friday.

I can't even tell you what he did. There was a lot of banging from the garage. There was a mysterious grinding sound, some kind of loud whiny air-tool sound (right when the kids needed to be napping, of course), and I think I heard a few expletives from time to time. It wouldn't be so bad but this puts me on "kid duty" all day, and I can't get much done while keeping 2 kids from killing or mutilating themselves and/or each other all day.

The other rotten thing is that when he is doing these kinds of things he is in a foul mood until he is completely done. So when I went to take the kids outside later in the day and they got in his way, or wanted to talk to him, he was short and cranky with them. There is no use trying to reason with him when he is in the "OCD-Zone."

Anyhow, I thought the episode was over on Saturday. Was I wrong. Sunday started with the kids whining, wanting to do "something fun." What, I don't know, but JeepMan said we would all do something fun that day. Little did I know that "doing something fun" involved hooking up the trailer, driving the Jeep up onto it, and "going for a test drive" in the truck. OK, now this bores ME; you can imagine what fun it was for the kids. Granted, we did have a fun evening, but this little fiasco took up a good chunk of the day.

So there went our weekend, thanks to my husband's OCD. And it's not the first weekend that's been obsessed-away.

Other examples:

-When we did our landscaping, I can't believe we didn't end up divorced. Every damn landscape block we laid had to be leveled in 3 directions, checked, rechecked, and rechecked again. And we laid probably 500 landscape blocks. It nearly killed me.

-When JeepMan took out the Jeep/Trailer/Truck ensemble, he had to take pictures. Lots of pictures. From all angles. If you look through our photo CDs you will find hundreds of pictures of the Jeeps, close-ups of tires, pictures of parts and tools. Tell me, who is ever going to look through these?

-Our lawn is perfectly manicured, fertilized on a schedule, and trimmed to a precise height based on what time in the season it is.

Now, I love this man. I love that when he does something, he wants it done right. I guess I just wish I could direct his obsession toward the dishes, or our house, or finishing the basement.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Brain-Drain and Writer's Block

This is a posted apology for my lack of posting.

Seems like when I have a few spare minutes to blog, I have total writer's block...and finding a few spare minutes has been very difficult the past few weeks. Work is crazy, my house is a pigsty, and the kids are suffering from mommy-time-o-penia (for you nonmedical types, "-penia" means "lack of.") So I have directed most of my "spare time" to quality time with the kids: I took them swimming last Friday night (got the best-mommy-in-the-world award for that one), and did lots of outside stuff with them this weekend. Sunday I got halfway through my laundry pile in between rounds of Memory, cooking meals, doing dishes, playing referee, and going on a several-hour "test run" drive with the truck, trailer, and Jeep with JeepMan in preparation for our summer vacation - which isn't until the end of July.

I think that might be a subject for a post in and of itself.

Note to self: Write a post about JeepMan and his OCD.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Official Name Change Notice

This is to officially announce that "The Boss" will now be referred to as "Lulu." I sometimes forget what her alias is for this blog, I am tired of typing out "T-H-E B-O-S-S," and her nickname at home is "Lulu" anyway.

This doesn't represent a change in her nature...she still thinks she IS The Boss.

Religion, Calamari, and Vitamins

Ok, it's been another ultra-hectic week; more overtime, busy lab, laundry and dishes piling up... but work today is a little slower so I am going to start (and hopefully finish) a post.

I am starting to teach my kids to pray. This might sound weird - after all, they are (almost) 3 and (almost) 6. We don't go to church except when we visit my folks. I know, I know, we should. This subject is probably the biggest dilemma I face on a moral/ethical level.

I grew up Catholic - not hard-core Catholic, but go-to-church-every-Sunday Catholic. Religion wasn't a huge factor in my life. We went to church every Sunday, I did all the Sacraments, went to Catechism, and was in Youth Group. My two best friends were in all these activities with me, which was probably a major factor in my drive to be involved. Church provided me with faith in something larger than myself, which is so important; it also provided me with a lot of uncertainties and anxieties.

My dad wasn't Catholic (still isn't technically, though he goes to church every Sunday with my mom). As a child and young adult, I frequently worried that he would go to Hell because he had never received the Eucharist. The Catholic church proclaims themselves the only "true" religion. Indeed, Catholics say a prayer referencing the "one holy Catholic and Apostolic church." Growing up, I wondered - in fact I still question - how any Christian person let alone an entire Christian organization could justify proclaiming superiority and passing judgement on others based on religious beliefs.

As a family, we didn't keep all the Church rules; we made our own "modifications" to the rules. For example, you had to give something up for Lent (church rules)...but, you could have it on Sundays (our rules). You were supposed to go to Confession (church rules), but if you confessed to God in private, that was ok (our rules). I spent a lot of restless nights thinking about how you can be Catholic but sort of pick and choose the rules you want to follow. My mom always told me that the church provided us with "guidelines" for life, but we ultimately could decide what we think is important and what isn't so important. I would never blame my mother for doing this - she did what she thought was right; I also think following all the rules and teachings of the Catholic church would be both unfulfilling and practically impossible. As a child, I accepted my mom's point of view without question because it made perfect sense. As an adult, it has left me in a bit of a moral quandary. I don't know if the "cafeteria Catholic" concept (taking what you want and leaving what you don't) is one that I want to espouse or teach to my own children. On the other hand I also can't think of a single church whose rules I could choose to follow 100%. I have toyed with the idea of switching religions, but frankly, I don't have the time or energy to devote to learning all about a new religion so I can in turn teach my children.

JeepMan was baptized Methodist, but that is where his religious training began and ended. His mother has told me she wishes she had taken him to church; yeah, too late now. Given his past, it is no wonder that he has struggled to have faith in anyone or anything outside himself. His limited contact with the Catholic church has been through me (wishy-washy) and through the media (financial and moral corruption, pedophilic priests?: that would be a definite thumbs-down...).

When we visit my parents and go to church with them, he sits there through the whole Mass with this blank look on his face. The "stand up, sit down, kneel down, stand up, sit down, fight-fight-fight!" (as he calls it) is meaningless to him. The beauty and ceremony of it all is completely lost on him. The kids are often fidgety, and Lulu usually needs carried out for disruptive behavior or potty breaks at least once. It's hard for me to enjoy any of it, especially when I know it does nothing for him.

It all started even before we were married. Our premarital retreat was absolutely horrible: an entire poorly planned weekend of preachy, borderline psychotic couples trying to "lead by example." One after another, after another, after another. For two straight days. We listened, mortified, to one couple talk in lengthy and embarrassing detail about how they had gotten pregnant without even having sex. In an effort to illustrate the evils of birth control, another couple told us all about their experiences with (Hellfire and Brimstone!) an IUD - I specifically remember the phrase, "bled like a stuck pig" being used - ugh. The weekend was expensive up front, and a total disaster in retrospect. The icing on the cake for JeepMan (and me, too) was when the church had the gall to solicit a DONATION when it was all done!

Our premarital meeting with the priest turned both of us off, too. We had 3 separate meetings. The first was an hour-long "compatibility test" (after 3 years of dating I would hope we might know if we were compatible). At the second, the priest asked a lot of very personal (nosy, weird, inappropriate) questions. The third meeting culminated in each of us (separately) being asked to put a hand on the Bible and swear "to have sexual relations with my spouse for the purposes of procreation." Ugh and double ugh.

My children are baptized, both in the Catholic church. Given my ambivalence about religion, especially the Catholic religion, I have pondered why I even felt the need to do this. I don't believe that unbaptized people go to Hell when they die. I suppose I was drawn to the ceremony of it...and frankly, I wanted to keep the kids' options open.

The plain truth is this: if I were married to someone who had a strong religious convictions, Catholic or otherwise, I would just follow along. For myself, I don't have a need for organized religion. I am actually a bit suspicious and skeptical about organized religion as a "business" or an "industry." I am secure in my own faith. I am teaching my children about God, and most importantly about belief in something larger than themselves. I am teaching them humanity, humility, gratitude, and generosity. I am teaching them about the Bible, and to pray. By not going to church, I am spared having to explain away the contradictions between what the church tells us we should do and what we choose to do. I am spared having to reassure them that their father isn't a heathen, and neither are many of their friends (our community is extremely diverse). On a more selfish level, Sundays are our lazy family days. Forcing everyone to get up, around, and sit in church for an hour doesn't budget into our precious, limited weekend time.

So why am I conflicted? I can't get past the feeling (guilt?) that maybe I SHOULD be exposing my children to church. Plato's first communion would be coming up soon (if I decide he should do it). I sometimes wonder: who am I to make the decision for him that he should or should not partake in the ceremony and community of organized religion? Will he resent me if I don't at least expose him to it? Should I "keep his options open" and let him make his own decisions later in life?

I am married to a man who is quite content not belonging to any religion. It fills no need in his life either, and it asks for his time and his money - both things with which he is reluctant to part. I am simply not going to get his support in this. If the kids are involved in any way in church, it will be entirely because of me. There will be grumbling, griping, and foot-dragging, both from him and the kids at times. In truth, it is almost too much to think about.

So Sundays come and Sundays go, each with a little twang of guilt and a thought that we should probably start going to church again one of these days. Maybe.


At bedtime prayers last night, we were telling God about the things we are thankful for:

And what are you thankful for, Plato?

Plato: Uhmmmm.....(looks around)....I am thankful for bedrooms. And stars. And food. And Mom and Dad and Lulu.

And what are you thankful for Lulu?

Lulu: Uhmmmm....I am tankful for...ummm...CALAMARI!!

Calamari? (we haven't eaten calamari in months!)

Lulu: YEAH! CALAMARI!! And...ah...I am tankful for...ah...BITE-A-MINS!!

Vitamins, yeah, me too. Thank God for vitamins!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Week from...

This week has been rotten. All because of work, which tends to spoil the rest of my life. Now I am not a person who, as a rule, has difficulty separating my work life from my home life. That's not it at all. What happened was that all the overtime I worked severely limited my time with my kids and JeepMan.

My kids go to bed at 7pm, 7:30 if they are "up late." This rule is somewhat flexible on the weekends, but carved in stone for "school nights." If they don't get enough sleep, they are MONSTERS in the morning (they take after me...).

We leave the house at 7am, sometimes 6:45. All week my kids have been late to bed. The mornings have been...difficult. Last nite I did not get back home until 8:15. The kids did not get to bed until 8:45. This morning stunk. The thing is, I cannot blame the kids (no matter how easy it would be to do that) for their rotten morning behavior. They are not getting enough sleep because of me!

Even if the stress of working late hours doesn't necessarily follow me home, the exhaustion does. I go home, put the kids in bed, and then myself. I am certainly neglecting my "wifely duties." Not one load of laundry has been done this week. The dishes are piling up - JeepMan cooks, but I think he believes in the dishwashing fairy. We are going to be out of town both days this weekend, so I really hope she exists. It's going to be freaking cold and my kids will be wearing their Christmas outfits, not their Easter ones. Yeah, I am stressed out. Oh, and did I mention that I will most likely be here late tonight too?

I snapped this morning and told the kids I was going to call the Easter bunny and tell him to skip our house because he didn't need to bring any goodies to whiny kids.

Oops. There goes my mom-of-the-year award.

Funny car conversation last night:

We pulled into a parking lot so JeepMan could go find a new mower blade. Don't ask me why we needed a new mower blade at 8:30 pm, but I was too tired to argue. We pulled into the front space of the parking lot. Right next to us was a handicapped space, with a sign. Plato is learning to read:

Plato: Mom? I wish we could park in that spot.

Why Plato? We are right up front, here.

Plato: Well, if you park there, they give you $100.

I looked at the sign, it says "$100 FINE." I asked him what he thought it said.

Plato: One-hundred-dollars, fun-ne.

Yeah, funny. Until you get the ticket.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

M-I-L Rant #1

We were riding in the car last night after eating out (which we do too much). It was pretty quiet, then Plato dropped this bomb:

Plato: Mom? I've had a shot drink before.

I looked at JeepMan, who was driving. He frequently tunes out the kids when driving. He didn't offer any explanation.

What is a shot drink, Plato?

Plato: Well, you drink it from a little glass and you chug it.

We often have chugging contests at the dinner table to see who can finish their milk first...MILK. It's a fun way to encourage dairy intake.

Where did you have this shot drink?

Plato: At Grandma's.

I could feel the heat rising to my face. I forced my voice to stay calm. Of course I knew which Grandma. My mother would never think to give my kids shots of any kind. I looked at JeepMan: blank expression.

Are you listening to this?

JeepMan: Yeah, my mom had us all do shots for St. Patty's.

That's it, no elaboration. I could see that I would have to pry it out of him.

Shots of WHAT?

JeepMan: Well, Mom and I had Bailey's and the kids had chocolate milk.

Plato: Yeah, Mom, I CHUGGED it!

The Boss: ME TOO MOM!!

Somehow the fact that it was "only" chocolate milk didn't make it that much better. I have an issue with the fact that the kids are even being exposed to this kind of behavior. Now I know I was a relatively naive kid, but I truly didn't know what a shot was until I was about 18. I guess I believe in keeping my kids oblivious to things like this as long as possible. It's not like naughty words and sexual innuendo, which kids are just going to be exposed to on some level by their peers at a relatively young age whether you like it or not. Things like shots are things you can choose to deny or severely limit exposure to until they are quite a bit older.

Rational as that may sound, try explaining this concept to my mother-in-law. The fact that she was such a great mother to my husband (choke) doesn't help much; the fact that she could never comprehend that something she did was wrong renders it impossible.

Final example: her idea of funny is taking pictures of my children wearing beer caps and putting empty beer bottles up to their lips.

Call me crazy - I don't see the humor in it.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I had a really great weekend with my sister and my two best buds. Sis's birthday was Sunday, so Saturday night we took her out. We ate good (fattening) food, drank beer, played pool, and inhaled more than our share of second-hand smoke. Best of all, I paced myself, so no hangover the next day. It was great to see my friends. We still have so much in common, even though we have been out of high school for 16 years and live about an hour away from each other. We are all busy with family and work, but when we are together it is like time just falls away and we pick up where we left off.

My sister is also my best friend. We are 2 years apart (she's 32, I'm 34) and we fought like cats and dogs growing up. When we hit puberty though, we became buddies. We are so much alike: we look kind of alike (except she's way skinnier) but our mannerisms are almost identical. I have had people tell me they met her and knew she was my sister just because of the way she acts (I'll take that as a compliment?). She and her husband of 8 years just graduated chiropractic school. I am SO proud of them. They are now in transition, trying to set up a practice and get their feet on the ground. Hopefully soon they will be able to start trying for a family...I can't wait to be an aunt!

JeepMan got to go to a Jeep club thing, so he got some alone time. It's good for him, and he is much easier to live with when he has an outlet for his "creativity."

I got to spend some quality time with the kids. The weather was rotten so we mostly played games. It's hard to play games with an almost-3-year-old who thinks she needs to play too. The Boss gets frustrated because she wants to be included, and Plato gets frustrated because The Boss is "ruining" the game. I get frustrated because we are supposed to be having fun. Pretty soon it ends up being nap-time. The kids HATE nap-time. I love it. My kids still need naps. This makes me very happy...mommy-time.

Unfortunately the weekend went too fast, as weekends do. Next thing I need is a weekend at home, but that's not going to happen for a while. Oh Well.

I think I just rambled but there it is, saved for posterity.