Monday, January 28, 2008

The One I Love

I was looking at Super Man the other morning as he lay next to me on our guest bedroom bed, with Super Boy on my other side, making a little Mommy sandwich as we snuggled in the Sunday morning sun. Super Man was talking on the phone to his dad about his mom being admitted to the hospital on Saturday with pneumonia.

I was admiring Super Man's strong Italian profile. Beautiful and just-the-right-size fine Roman nose, gorgeous bone structure, full rosy lips, a day's worth of salt-and-pepper shadow on his smooth olive skin. The concern for his mother making his warm, soft, velvety brown eyes seem sad. My fingers itched to touch his skin, as they have a million other times over the years. I reached out and stroked his cheek, played idly with his dark curly hair, noting as I often do that he's getting more silvery hairs with each passing year. Pretty soon he'll have a head full of silver, just like his father, who himself is an attractive man.

I listened to Super Man's deep, slightly raspy voice as he occasionally asked questions or murmured "mm hm" in response to something his father said. Super Man's voice has always captivated me, from the very first time I heard it, over the phone. It was March of 1998 - we spoke for three hours, and I was mesmerized by his voice. I had to meet the man to whom it belonged.

We were set-up by one of Super Man's best friends, whom I'd met the week before at a trade show in Washington D.C. Who would've thunk that of all the women who were at the show, the best friend would've singled me out, learned I was from the same city as Super Man, and begged for my number as he sold Super Man "like a brand new Cadillac," as he later described it to Super Man while relaying my phone number.

That was 10 years ago this March. That voice still mesmerizes me.

Our life and our marriage has its ups and downs, but through it all, we've stood together. If anything, our love for each other has deepened. Is our relationship as passionate as it used to be? Well, it's not the 24/7 Love Fest it used to be, but we still have our moments! More than that, much more than that, our deep soul connection is stronger now than ever.

I look at that man and I love him right down to the tips of my toes, to the depths of my heart and soul. He is my husband, the father of my child, my rock. The man who does sweet little things for me "just because."

For instance, today is my 34th birthday, and he left me a very cute little note before he left for work this morning, wishing me a wonderful and happy day. He even drew a heart and colored it in with a red marker in his rush to get out the door.

What a guy... I'm a very lucky girl.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Catty Women

As I mentioned in a prior post, I've been very good since 01.01.08 about going to the gym to workout three mornings a week after dropping Super Boy off at school. Now, I was working out somewhat regularly in '07 until fall, but my body since the birth of Super Boy nearly five (gasp) years ago is NOT what it used to be. (I know some of you out there are feeling my pain. Sing it, sister!) So going to the gym is not a fearless act for me. I worry about the wiggles & jiggles, how I look, how big of an ass I look like panting and red-faced, etc.

All has been well at the gym the past few weeks in that no one has paid any particular attention to me and I've been able to go about my business of tightening, firming, toning and sweating in relative peace. Until today...

I was in one of the areas where there are medicine balls and mats, primarily designed for doing ab work, lunges, etc. I do my crunches with the medicine ball, moving my eyes randomly about as I try to count quietly in my head, and suddenly I notice Creepy Middle Aged Man staring at me from across the gym. Not just glancing my way, as sometimes happens, but flat-out staring at me. I ignore him for the first 20 or so crunches, but since my ass is facing this creep, I look again to see if he's still gawking. And he is. (ugh)

I give him a disgusted look and proceed to completely ignore him. By the time I've started my second set of 30 crunches a minute or two later, he's moved out of my field of vision and is no longer staring at me. Amen.

Five minutes later, I'm doing some good Pilates leg exercises and these three women walk into the area and set-up camp behind me. I can't see them, and I have my iPod on with the volume down fairly low. All of a sudden, I hear one of them stop talking in her normal tone of voice and whisper something to the others. Of course, I now wonder if they're talking about me, and can imagine the question and the tone in which it was asked: "What is she doing?" And they are. Talking about me. Because one of them answers the question, quite clearly, with "That's Pilates."

I had just finished the last of my reps on the side facing away from these women, so it was perfect timing for me to turn over to work the other side, now facing them. All three are staring at me, and only two have the decency to look guilty, so I know who the bitchy questioner was. I gave her a general look like "what the hell is your problem?" and then set about finishing my reps on that side. They all shut up and moved on to other topics after that, much to my relief.

Of course, right after I was done, I was on my way out of the club and there was a woman selling cool t-shirts, which I stopped to peruse. I was just about to check-out with the one I'd chosen when someone cuts right in front of me and starts bombarding the woman with questions. I look over at this rude woman and - oh, big surprise - it's the bitchy woman from a few minutes earlier! I gritted my teeth and glared at her until she moved out of my way, wanting to sock her one in the face for how smug she was.

The thing is, she was no thing of beauty either. In fact, she was pretty rough looking, and not all that terribly fit either. So what she was giving me grief for I'll never know.

Just goes to show how catty women can be, and over NOTHING!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One Small Victory in the Battle Against Laziness...

So, remember when I posted about being totally and utterly lazy lately? Well, I have scored a MAJOR victory, my friends: I emptied, cleaned and reorganized our pantry yesterday! And it was long overdue. So long overdue, in fact, that the stupid project took me all damn day.

I'm dead serious -- I started working on it at around 10:30am and did not finish until 5:30pm. Of course, I had to take a few breaks in there to feed Super Boy, let Super Dog outside and feed her, use the bathroom, check email, etc. But still, it took me all... damn... day.

And here I was cavalierly thinking that I was going to ransack my house, room-by-room, and turn it into the most highly organized home on earth within my first month of being a stay-at-home mom. What the heck was I thinking?

So anyway... back to the pantry. Our friends know what a mess this teeny-tiny room of our house used to be, and it wasn't very pretty either. We had all sorts of stuff overflowing in there -- appliances, snacks, sweet potatoes and other stuff piled haphazardly on the counter, the cupboards bulging (literally) with poorly organized cans, boxes and bags, and the stand-alone shelving unit chock full of stuff in no particular order. Then Super Man had this awkward and over-sized rolling cart thingy at the back of the pantry that was also overly laden with just stupid stuff that we don't use often.

I made a pile of things to go into storage in the basement, a pile to go to Goodwill, a bunch of expired dry and canned goods went into the garbage, and the rest was neatly organized back in the pantry cupboards, shelves and drawers. It looks magnificent, truly. It was worth the aching back I had by the time I crawled into bed.

What prompted me to dig into the pantry, you might ask? I'd HAD IT with the mess and clutter. Blogging about my frustration with the lack of organization in my house the other day was just the self-kick in the pants I needed.

The thing is, I know that if I were to tackle the entire house with that attitude, I'd be crazy within an hour, so I know I have to limit myself to the smallest possible corner of the house, and take baby steps. While it took me all day, I woke up this morning, came down to the kitchen, peered into my now-beautiful and well-organized pantry and felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment.

My goal is to tackle two smaller areas of my house per week myself, and then Super Man and I will begin tackling the basement together to purge the stuff we've held onto for nothing and organize the things we want to keep into "The Things We are Simply Storing for the Future" (mementos from departed family members or our childhoods, etc., which will go in the furthest reaches of storage), "The Things We Don't Need Right Now but Will Need Again, Hopefully" (my maternity clothes and Super Boy's baby gear and nearly five years' worth of clothing, which will go in our front room of the basement), and "The Things We Use or Need Access To With Some Frequency" (the various holiday decorations, the picnic backpack, coolers, camping equipment, all of which will be in our laundry room storage).

And here's WHY I feel the need to start tackling these projects sooner rather than later, the little secret I've been keeping for the past few days: Our city's historical society called over the weekend and asked us to participate in the Tour of Historic Homes this year. Apparently, the Historical Society is highlighting the homes on our street this year, as our street boasts some of the oldest and grandest homes in the city, most of which have been beautifully restored and maintained. This is a huge honor, and it was very exciting to be invited to participate.

Unfortunately, it also means we'll have 800-1,000 people coming through our house in October of this year. (Can you hear the sweat pouring out every single sweat gland on my body?)

When they first called, I panicked and didn't want to even consider it. I mean, honestly, our house is gorgeous and it IS clean; but we have so much stuff! And while our family and friends love all our little treasures and think we have a great, eclectic style and find our house to be very warm, comfortable and inviting, the fact is that we have a lot of clutter and we have to seriously pare down before I'll allow 800-1,000 people to stroll through our house, both because I want them to really be able to appreciate the bones of the house and because I don't want strangers making off with any of our antiques or other valuables or important papers.

All I can say is thank GOD the tour isn't until October because we'll need that long to go through all the rooms and pare down, organize, re-paint, and really have the house ready to shine.

Super Man is beside himself with joy about the whole business (probably because he won't have to do as much to prepare as I will given that he's working full-time and traveling half of most weeks, lucky bastard), and I'm gradually warming up to it, as long as I don't think about all the work that will have to go into preparing. I know it will be a good thing in the end, and that it will help us sell our house in the next 12-18 months, as was our plan. I just hope we can stay on a steady course of preparing the house - and ourselves - so I'm not killing myself doing it all solo in the final days leading up to the event!

So, really, this battle is won but the war rages on...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Creating a Budget In Three Easy Steps

Step One: Gather up the courage to face into the number of Starbucks coffees both you and your husband purchase in a single week (not to mention a single day), the number of "extras" that always end up in your cart at Target that were NOT on the list, the number of times you've all gone out to eat (whether to McDonald's every week for lunch with your four year-old or to that expensive sushi restaurant with your husband, for a change), the amount of food from the specialty grocery store that gets thrown out on a weekly or biweekly basis for having spoiled before it could be eaten, and so on and so forth. Use a calculator to average these numbers for purposes of documentation. Throw away receipts and immediately pour a shot of something strong directly down your throat.

Step Two: Put all of these numbers down on a piece of paper, preferably in a nice, neat, organized fashion like Excel. Begin moving the numbers around in such a way as to make them look better. Feel free to delete some if it'll make you feel a little less nauseous since, let's face it, the only way you're going to be able to fit all your expenses into the meager number representing your income is if you lie your ass off, kids. When finished, run directly to the bathroom to vomit. Feel better?

Step Three: Tally up your totals! Smile glassy-eyed at the computer screen because YOU DID IT!! Forget that you had to delete some regular expenses that you'll both still expend money for "off the record." Besides, you and Super Man have been down this "let's make a budget" road before and it always ends up in the trash can because neither of you sticks to it anyway. But it helps to go through the exercise, doesn't it? Gets your blood pressure nice and high, gives you diarrhea, makes you so sick to your stomach that you at least will be eating less for a week or so (see, your grocery budget will now be more realistic than ever!).

Now, go do something that'll make you feel better. A trip to Target sounds good...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Can You Say "AWKWARD": Conversation With a Pre-Teen Girl

So, Super Man and I were hanging around the house with the super kids yesterday because it was too flippin' cold to do much outside of the house, and he and I started up an age-old conversation about a conversation I felt "we" needed to have with Super Girl "sooner rather than later." The discussion about "body changes." Super Girl IS after all turning 12 next month and is going to be going through puberty "sooner rather than later," no matter how much Super Man would like to bury his head in the sand and pretend his baby isn't growing up.

He tries to tell me that I should do all the talking since I "know what I'm talking about." (Where he got that idea is beyond me.) (And the fact that he admitted that for a change was earth-shattering.)

I try to tell him that he should do most of the talking so that Super Girl's mom doesn't come back and try to kill me for treading on her mother-daughter territory (which she would most certainly do). Although, in all fairness to Super Man and myself, all indications were that Super Girl's mom had not had the "body changes" conversation with Super Girl yet since the girl has yet to don a bra, despite being slightly developed and playing sports (don't even get me started...).

After going around and around for a good 15 minutes, we ultimately decide that Super Man will kick the conversation off and I'll jump in as needed. Great - we were off to a great start.

Super Man calls Super Girl into the kitchen, where we sat Spanish Inquisition-style around the table with all eyes on Super Girl. I'm sure she was practically wetting her pants wondering what she was going to get in trouble for or "talked to" about. Small red blotches appeared on her cheeks before we even parted our lips to speak, so typical for Super Girl. (Her face always betrays her when she's nervous or attempts to lie or play dumb.)

Super Man stares at her for an inordinate amount of time, clearly struggling to find the right words to begin with but ultimately making even me uncomfortable, and I was just there to offer the "all girls go through this" portion of the speech!

When at last language returned to Super Man, he managed to mumble his way through the reason for the Inquisition. Unfortunately, the words that came out most clearly were "the birds and the bees," at which even my eyebrows nearly shot off my forehead and my jaw nearly hit the table, considering that we had only discussed talking to Super Girl about getting her period and the need to wear a bra!

I decided it was time for drastic measures, and I opened my mouth. The conversation went something like this.

*all text in brackets ([_____]) indicates thoughts in my head while speaking

SW: "Super Girl, what your [clearly unprepared]* father is trying to say is that we wanted to talk to you to find out if you've had the 'body changes' conversation with your mom yet. Have you?" [There, easy enough. Super Man, you idiot...]

SG: "Um..." (painfully long pause during which SG's cheeks became even more red and blotchy) "yeah."

SW: "Right. So, when did your mom talk to you about this, and what all did she discuss -- just the changes that your body is going to go through or, um, adult physical relationships?" [God help us all.]

SG: "Just body changes." [Don't help me out here, kid.]

SW: "So, she talked to you about getting your period?"

SG nods her head, cheeks now so red they're shooting out flames.

SW: "Ok. Well, um, have you started getting your period yet? Because I was the exact same age you are now when I got mine for the first time, and quite frankly, it freaked me out because no one had talked to me about it yet other than what you hear in school, and let's face it, we're all just freaking out when we hear that kind of stuff in school, so I didn't really pay that much attention."

SG sits there staring dumbly at me.

SW: "You didn't answer my question -- have you gotten your period yet?"

SG: "No."

SW: "Have any of your girlfriends?"

SG: "One."

SW: "Well, it's probably going to come sooner rather than later [there's that phrase again], and I just want you to know that if you get your period while you're at our house, or if you have it and you're coming to our house for a weekend, I've got all the supplies and can help you out if you need it. I just want you to know that you can feel comfortable talking to me about this, and you don't have to be embarrassed if it happens here, ok?"

SG: "I know."

SW: "Do you REALLY know, or are you just saying you know? Because this really shouldn't be a big deal that you have to worry about, and I do want to know if you need anything. All the supplies are in the linen closet in the bathroom upstairs, and if there's anything else you need that I don't have, you'll need to let me know."

SG (still staring dumbly at me): "I know."

SW: "Right. Um, the other thing: Has your mom talked to you about wearing a bra yet? Because you really do need to start wearing one soon, especially since you're in sports."

SG: "Yeah, she's talked to me about it."

SW: "Okaaaaay.... and has she said anything about taking you shopping for a bra, because I'm serious - you need to start wearing one sooner rather than later." [Ugh, I'm starting to hate those words. They're soooo overused. Especially in this conversation with the monosyllabic cave people.]

SG: "Yeah. I think we're going to do that soon."

SW, ready to bang my head straight forward onto the table: "Ok. One last thing: There are books that talk about the changes that are going to be happening with your body, one of which I've seen is actually part of the American Girl series and looks pretty straightforward and not too crazy embarrassing. Do you have a book like that, and if not, do you want me to get it for you?"

SG, before I can even finish my sentence: "NO - that's okay."

SW, sighing with impatience: "OK, that's fine. Just know that we're here if you have any questions and you don't need to feel weird or embarrassed about this because we ALL go through it. Do you have any questions or is there anything you want to talk about?"

SG: "No."

SM [grrrrr.... nice time to chime in again, FATHER of Super Girl -- at the END!]: "Okay! Well, that wasn't too painful, was it?"

SG and SW look murderously at SM until he closes his mouth and walks away with his cape between his legs...

Now we'll see whether Super Girl's mom actually goes and buys her a bra, and then whether Super Girl actually wears it.

I'm not holding my breath.

Pure Laziness?

I'll admit it: I can be lazy. Very lazy. Having sympathy pains, are you? Well, read on...

I've been a stay-at-home mom for a few months now. When my last day of work was approaching, I was filled with excitement, anticipation, and plans. BIG plans. Plans to completely organize my house, my minivan and my life. Here is a sampling of what I planned to do the moment I finished working in the office.

THE BIG LIST

1. Go through house - room-by-room - and purge, revive and organize. (Yeah. This hasn't happened.)

2. Sort through all bins of clothing in storage and all closets and dressers; decide whether to toss, donate or save. (Uh, neither has this. Oh, wait -- except for the boxes of maternity clothes that I let a coworker borrow. Which unfortunately contained my embarrassingly large stash of scary-big maternity underwear and nursing bras, which I had to hastily stash in my pockets after said coworker shyly mentioned the presence of said scary unmentionables. Ooops.)

3. Organize all of the billions of photographs strewn around the house. (Ditto #1 and #2. And I'm not kidding about the number of photos we have: My husband, Super Man, is a pretty good photog and already had millions of photos before we hooked up nearly 10 years ago. After eight years of marriage and one child together, the photos have started mating and multiplying exponentially. They are in our kitchen, dining room, office, living room, hallway and bedrooms, in boxes, envelopes, frames and just carelessly lying around. It's a mess. Really.)

4. Scrapbook, scrapbook, scrapbook! (See #3 - and numbers 1 and 2 above.)

5. Purge kitchen and pantry of all unhealthy foods, stock up on only those that are "good for us," learn to cook, and make world-class gourmet meals for dinner. Every night. (I think you can already guess how this one fared. Although I have been cooking most nights and I've been cooking quite healthy, all things considered.)

6. Start working out again and go to the gym at least three times per week. (I'll admit that this one fell through the cracks for, oh, the first four months of my being at home, but since New Year's, I've gotten back on the bandwagon and have been going to the gym at least three times per week. Honest.)

7. Send out pictures of my gorgeous little boy to area modeling agencies and finally get him into modeling. Super Boy has to earn his keep after all. Just because he's four is no excuse. (The photos - many, many, many of them - have been taken, but not a one has been sent off yet.)

8. Start a freelance writing career. (Sure, because it's just as easy as that.)

9. Finish the damn novel already! (It's been underway for about a year now, and I'm only halfway done. I've hit a writer's block, what can I say?)

Right. So, I'm sure that's not an exhaustive list by any means, but you get the drift. And in keeping with the title of this post, I can attribute my lack of industriousness to nothing more than sheer laziness.

You might be wondering, "How, then, are you spending your days?"

And my answer is simple: Sitting on my couch eating bonbons. All day long.

Kidding, kidding. That's not even remotely true. Well, not most of the time.

No, what I do with my days is clean, run errands, tackle much smaller organizing projects which, when finished, feel almost like I did nothing at all. I also workout in the mornings three days a week while Super Boy is at school (he's in half-day K4), and I occasionally meet up with a friend or friends for coffee, knitting, lunch or just hanging out. Surprisingly enough, those activities take up a scary amount of time!

I think back to the days when I was working full-time plus juggling parenthood, wifehood and homeownership duties, and I honestly have NO CLUE how I managed it all and kept it together. Granted, I had a cleaning woman back in the good ol' days, (but we were forced to part ways when I stopped bringing home a paycheck, damn that Super Man...) who kept the big house stuff largely under control. But, due to the simultaneous presence of Super Dog and Super Boy, it's not like I could just be lazy for the two whole weeks between her visits -- I actually had to still clean between "big" cleanings. But I feel as though my house looked better and my life was more structured and smooth-flowing before I started staying at home than it has been since I left work.

How is that possible?

I'll tell you: Because we're actually LIVING in our house more now than we were when both Super Man and I were working full-time and Super Boy was in daycare all day. It actually is harder to keep it clean and organized because we're here messing it up so much more. It's not right, but it is what it is.

So maybe I can squeak out of having to label myself completely and utterly lazy. But it still doesn't explain why I'm sitting here blogging when I could be going through those billions of photos or organizing my house room by room.

Huh...

I've Moved!

I used to have a very similar blog on a different blogging website, but unless I upgraded to the $25 plan, I could do next to nothing with the format and design of the blog, and it was frustrating the hell out of me. And so, after six months of fighting with my laptop to make the other one look halfway decent, I threw in the towel and moved here!

I'm an aspiring writer - and have been for, oh, about five years now. I love to read, have written half of a novel, and have purchased many, many... many books about writing. I figured it was time to crack down and get serious about something, and so, this blog is reborn.

I have no idea what exactly I'm going to write about here. Probably a little of everything: marriage, my son, my tales as a "stepid wickmother", day-to-day observations about life, and so on and so forth. Hopefully it'll be worthwhile reading, not to mention worthwhile writing!

Onward and upward...