Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Abandoned at Tahoe?

I'm sitting outside by a roaring fire...alone for the first time in weeks and having mixed feelings about it.

The girls are skiing with friends. The boys are skiing with friends. I've been accidentally, I'm sure, stood up by my husband for a ski date.

I'm not all that sad about being stood up. Don't tell anyone, but I truly hate skiing. My two biggest reasons are that it's a mother's logistical nightmare and I'm afraid of killing myself.

I don't fear death as much as I fear a slow, painful frozen death that doesn't completely kill me, but leaves me in traction with no brain function.

That being said, I'm all geared up and ready to go, and happily sitting by the fire with my iPhone. If you see my man on the slopes, tell him I'm waiting...or not.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ariel the Christmas Cat

When Birk was four, we met Ariel the Christmas cat.

It was a bitter cold December night in Dexter, Michigan. The wind whipped through the trees and the sky was inky black. These are the nights where I am sure that Christmas lights throw some heat, if not for the fingers, for the soul.

An orange tabby cat arrived on the front porch of my parent's home. It meowed and meowed--cold and hungry at the front door.

In the country, there is a particular kindness to strays. We don't dial the pound, we feed and water and take them in. Many times strays became part of our family. Our best little dog ever arrived on that very same doorstep, and shmoozed her way in.

My mom is super allergic to cats, so there was no way this fluffy tabby was coming into the house. My kids did get to experience the country, farm life in that we found an old box, some old blankets and some food and made a comfy cubby for that freezing cold cat on that freezing cold night.

Birk, at age four, was particularly excited by this little creature. My husband, was not particularly excited, and in fact, thought we were all crazy.

Each night, the cat came back. The girls dubbed it, Ariel. My husband moaned and groaned, but my family, did what we always did with strays, and became attached.

A few nights before Christmas, it was especially cold. I was taking out my contacts when I heard the front door slam...followed by a scream.

I'm a mom of three, and at that time in my life, screaming was normal and crying was background noise. When Birk arrived at the bathroom door, gushing blood from her forehead, I was shocked.

The best we could tell from her sobs, she had hit her head on the door. Being no dumb bunny myself, I tried to make sure Ariel's teeth were not involved. Hysterical Birk insisted it was the door. We were travelling, and grandma and grandpa were not equipped with a first aid kit. I slapped hand sanitizer on that open wound in an act of desperation, and poor Birk howled herself to sleep.

The next morning, Birk woke up with a forehead the size of a watermelon. As parents, we knew right then, being hit in the head by the door was lower on the totem pole of options--being bit by a rabid cat moved to the number one position.

Flash forward to the local emergency room. Birk wavered slightly on her story, and now she was saying the cat scratched her. However, when you are in the ER with a possibility of a wild cat bite and rabies and the thought that your baby could possibly die--that had Christmas fun written all over it.

Meanwhile, my husband is not talking to me. My redneck, raised in a barn upbringing was not only not impressing him, it was to blame for this disaster.

Before we started rabies treatment, we had to try to catch and test Ariel. We arrived home, took off our boots, and heard a knock at the door: a six foot tall Michigan State Trooper was asking to come in and get a police report from us.

Nothing says Christmas like a State Trooper in your living room. We gave him the info, and super husband went out to trap himself a Chritmas cat.

Of course, luck would have it that Ariel was missing in action. She hadn't lived on the streets that long without developing some smarts. However, my husband tracked her, bagged her in a cat kennel and handed her over to Animal Control.

Meanwhile, our stress mounted. Tension was thick and we were terrified that Birk could be sick or worse...

Now, it's not like they tested that cat straight away, apparently the only sure fire way to test for rabies is to kill the animal, I'm still not sure I understand that. The secondary test? Five days of observation.

After sweating it out for those long days, turns out Ariel was not rabid and was not a girl--she was a he.

My family quickly reverted back to the people we are and discussed adoption and giving Ariel a permanent home.

I can't tell you how relieved you are when you find out your four year doesn't have rabies.

Ariel turned out to have aggression issues and was deemed un-adoptable. We still haven't ever really told our kids about Ariel's sad fate.

Birk turned out to be fine--and we never did get a staight story about what really happened that night. For Christmas, Santa brought her a shirt that simply said, "I make things up."

*NOTE: Typos, awkward language, and anything weird brought to you by the one finger hunt and peck typing method on my iPhone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Want for Christmas? My Luggage

Why do I love Halloween so much? For me, it's Christmas without the travel and hassel of gifts. We have decorations, lights, family, friends and candy! The spirituality factor is quite different, but I do not need to worry about saying Merry Christmas or Happy Channukah to the wrong person. I also am not personally offended if you're a Halloween Scrooge.

That said, all I want for Christmas is my luggage. Each and every year, we arrive at our destination to find one bag missing. Now, when you travel around Christmas, you don't travel light. Each bag is chock full of treasures. When one goes missing, and last year it was the bag with four bottles of very nice wine, you tend to panic.

Because this happens every year, and it happens with every airline no matter which we fly, I am quite calm about the process. We always eventually get our bag. Sometimes my suitcase has a more interesting travel destination than I do.

This year? We waited patiently at the baggage claim. I watched the carousel spin, gripping my claim check stickers, wondering which bag wouldn't show.

Guess what? I got ONE bag out of EIGHT. Seven bags were MIA! I understand my annual missing bag....but seven?

When you have no underwear, toothbrushes, or snow boots for three kids, then you know panic. I'm not going into the weeks of shopping and planning. No strategy could prepare me for this.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Alfalfa Sprout

There are some things, I'm sorry to say, that really sadden me. One is when I tell my kids in the morning that they need to comb their hair because they have an Alfalfa Sprout and they give me the blank stare. After constant examples, they understand what I mean, but they have no point of reference.

For all of my children, and some of yours, too, here is...THE Alfalfa Sprout:

And here it is in motion:

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Feel Like I Know You: Merry Christmas Back!

Every year we get a beautiful photo Christmas card from a family of six. The photo is gorgeous. The kids are adorable.

The mom and dad are smiling and in their Sunday best. There's not a hair out of place. The kids are smiling and their eyes are twinkling. They obviously look like the kind of kids that never whine or fight.

Year after year we get their very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The matter of the thing, is that, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE.

For over 5 years, we keep getting a card from these people. We don't even know anyone that lives in the state it is mailed from. We don't know anyone by their name. We have no idea who they are.

This year, I am finally sending them a card. I mean, after this many years, I feel like I'm stiffing them. And, after this many years, I feel like I know them.

Dear Mystery Friends,
When so many of my real friends forget to mail me a Christmas greeting, or I've dropped off their list, you are steadfast and reliable. It's like I feel like I know you after so many years of seeing your family grow.
Best Wishes for the Holidays,
Your Mystery Friends

However, when I send them a card from our family with our picture, maybe THEY'RE going to REALIZE that they don't know us either.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Portrait of a Mean Mom

That's blurry old me--Mean Mom. There will be at least three best-selling books written about the ways that I've ruined my children's lives. My husband might jump in on that money-making boat, as well. He's got some humdingers to tell, that's for sure.

My meaness came to mind this morning when I was looking through old photos. It's holiday time, so we need to whip out a card with some fairly recent photos--this is mainly so some of our distant relatives might recognize us at family Christmas parties and not call the cops.

A lot of the photos on iPhoto are actually movies from this summer--movies taken on my new iPhone, by then 7 year old Birk.

The charming summer memories last for the first 15 seconds, then I am in the background of almost EVERY single one, yelling, "Get off the dock with my phone!!!" Or, "Stop, you're using all of my battery!!!" Or, "Turn that off now, you are using up all of my memory!!!"

Someday, my daughter will pull up the files of these summer memories. She will sigh with wonder at the beauty of her childhood. Then her pleasure will turn to horror.

I'll be dead and gone, but will live on screeching, "Don't drop my phone in the water!!!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Little Pitchers and Big Ears: Selective Hearing

Why is it that I can ask my kids 20 times if they've done their homework and get no response?

I can say one thing about a wacky relative in a whisper voice on the phone and EVERY TIME they will crank their neck around with whiplash speed and ask me why I said that?

Selective hearing.

It works the same way with my husband. He swore up and down on Thanksgiving that I never asked him to do X, Y or Z. I am 100 percent sure that I did.

It's kind of like a "If a tree falls in the woods..." situation. If you ask a question, and no one hears it, or acknowledges it, did you really ask?"

Amazed at the frequency of use, this week I started experimenting with the phenomenon. To my surprise, selective hearing is actually an addicting habit. Now, I find myself using that technique with my whole family.

Here's how in 4 easy steps:
  1. Say you are working at the computer. Stare straight ahead at the screen. If the request is one that just doesn't interest you, keep staring straight ahead.
  2. On the second request, keep typing and staring.
  3. On the third request, move to the kitchen and begin slicing carrots (keep the knife in hand, most grown ups approach you with extreme caution when you are brandishing a knife).
  4. If the inquirer is persistent or crying, you can finally say with a smile, "What did you say, dear?"
Of course, if you really have no interest in the tasks, tears or screaming, just continue along in you blissful blank state until the inquirer walks away.

This technique also builds the useful skill of people not realizing that you are really listening and spying on their conversations. This is quite good, especially with teens.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lice O' Rama

I got the dreaded call from Birk's constant companion's mother. Birk's BFF has lice again. Now, if two little girls, let's call them Thelma and Louise, spend 9 out of 10 vacation days together and one gets lice...what are the odds on the other NOT getting lice?

I'm thinking zero. The big donut. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Diddly squat.

Oh, please Lice Gods, not again. I will have to sell my daughter's Zhu Zhu Hamster that she got for her birthday on eBay to pay for another round of treatments.



The ever-calm Ruth's 11 year old advice: "What are you worried about, mom? It's not like they can hurt us."

Considering our electric bill jumped like a frog out of the frying pan, I guess they can only kick us with their little lice feet where it the wallet.