Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Intrepid's Bad Choice

There are some wonderful things about having a twelve-year-old. I think it's my favourite gremlin age so far. They're old enough to do a lot of fun things, like watch previously inappropriate movies and television shows, understand and use sarcasm, and have long talks about things like human rights and religion (and how the two don't always go together). All of this in one package, and he barely talks back yet. The hormones are flowing, but not enough to scream 'SCREW YOU!' at me because I won't drop him off at the mall with $50.

It's a magical age, I tell you.

One of the best/worst things about being twelve is Intrepid's ability to contain the younger gremlins while we leave the nest in search of coffee or building materials or new vans. We've been able to see my friend's band without any phone calls, go to Bastette the Sponsee's dirty thirty (she's getting terribly old and decrepit, isn't she?) and even just peruse the aisles at the grocery store reading labels and finding sales. It's been a wonderful few months of owning raising a twelve-year-old.

But I did say it's the best/worst thing, didn't I? And that's because there are occasionally issues with an older brother minding younger brothers. No matter how well we train him, he's still a brother first and foremost. There was the time we came home to Gutsy crying - an hour past his bedtime - because he was too scared to go to sleep. Why? Because Intrepid told him if he was that angry about brushing his teeth he should probably see a psychiatrist, who is a type of doctor that can lock you up in a mental institution away from your family if they think you're crazy.

But sweet dreams, Gutsy!

We had a little talk after that. A little talk about not scaring the absolute crap out of your brother as that is not conducive to getting him to bed on time.


But that's the thing about entrusting the young to watch the young. Occasionally they will make bad choices. Like on Sunday, for example, when we figured Intrepid could have his friend over while we went out for an hour to the grocery store.

"Just find something to do with them that will keep them busy and you'll be fine," I said cheerily.

All appeared well when we came home. The first test is to listen outside by the front door and check for really loud screams. If any are detected it's recommended you go back to the car and head out for coffee for another hour so the whole mess can be sorted out. Really loud screaming is an early warning system for a completely ruined day if you dare walk through the doorway.

If you do step into the house and notice any yelling it's probably too late. If someone is upset enough they'll likely be somewhere near the front door waiting to pounce on you with complaints about how cruel someone else is being. You'll be detected in no time and any hope of escape to the blissful sounds of steaming milk are long gone.

In this particular case we heard none of those things. All seemed to be status quo. We like those days. We get back and everyone's watching a movie or playing a board game or building train tracks. It's quite lovely to breathe in some sanity as it's a rarity at Casa Maven.

But then something caught my eye. Dropping my shopping bags I walked into the living room only to discover a large space of floor completely cleared. It's a sizeable room to begin with as it was built onto the back of the house, so why did they need so much clear space? What were they doing?

The table was pushed against the window, the chairs stacked on top of it. What few toys were on the ground were now moved into a pile by the china cabinet (containing, I might add, some actual china I recently inherited from my late grandmother). Across from the china cabinet is an open cubby-like shelf full of breakables. The space around that was also cleared out. What was going on?

Gutsy bounded across the floor, a trickle of sweat on his brow. "Hi, Mom! We were just playing dodgeball!"




Bad choice! Bad choice!

No you were not. This is some kind of joke.

It was quickly apparent that it wasn't some kind of joke. Damn. "But Mom," Intrepid tried to explain when he saw the shocked look on my face, "We're not anywhere near the t.v., so it's fine, right?"

Just when you think you've explained all the rules you realize how very, very wrong you are.

Just when you think you've instilled common sense into your children, you realize that a twelve-year-old, no matter how bright, is still a twelve-year-old.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's all XUP's fault. And Maybe Gutsy's.

I now know why I haven't been blogging much, and you can blame her. Yes, that's right. XUP is the cause of all my blogging woes. See, I added her to my feed a little while back and I started to read her. And read her. And read her. She's really quite good, you see.

And that's the problem.

XUP can always find interesting things to talk about. I cannot. I do not comprehend how the brilliant woman comes up with a new and exciting topic most every day. She makes you laugh. She makes you think. And, in this particular case, she makes you wonder how you can ever blog again when you have that to compare it to. I believe she might be alien. She's even one of those creepy vegetarians. Those people are so aware of the bigger picture that they can't possibly be human.

Several times in the last couple of weeks I've started to write. It looks good at first and I think I'm actually getting somewhere. Then I hit the literary wall, get discouraged, and throw it all to the wayside while I pour myself another fair-trade coffee and sulk.

(One must remember the bigger picture even when one is sulking.)

Today, I woke up with a fresh perspective. You know what? Forget all those extremely talented bloggers. I may not be among them, but I'm also not swimming in the crappy blogger pool, either. You know those crappy bloggers. They write stuff like this:

omg so like tara is such a biaaatcchhhh!! WTF?!?!?!? shes all up in my face like were in high skool still but we not were workin peepz now u no? so when im geting the maneger to sine my vacasion form she doesnt need to come up and be all like 'what were u doing txting my man last night????'

fuuuukkkk! i hate this place and i cant wait to leave it 4 ever! as soon as her boyfriend and i get marryed i can quit stupid berger king and move in with him and she can serve me my fukkin frys. yesssss!!!!!

Ever stumbled on a blog like that? It can make your eyes bleed. I made that one up but I have no doubt someone will come along eventually and claim intellectual property rights:

hi u stole my life biaaatch! dont copy me and dont hate. ur jus jellous of my talentz!

Nope. I'm not quite that bad, thankfully. So I'm going to stop trying to up my game and instead get back to my writing roots. I'm not going to try and come up with neat topics anymore. I'm just going to let the words flow, like an improvising rapper. I'm going Eight Mile, yo. I'm spinning phrases like a spider spins webs.

I'm dipping my toes in the crappy blogger pool with that last sentence, aren't I?

Whatever. I can more than make up for that with some amusing anectodes. Why do I stress myself out trying to find fresh topics when the gremlins provide me with more material than I ever thought possible? And what they don't provide, my crazy friends and family do. I, of course, am nearly perfect and rarely do anything that could be considered short of amazing. Not much to write about, there. I'd basically sound like I'm bragging all the time.

It's a curse being this great, I tell you.

Speaking of gremlin stories, the middle one decided to let his horns show this morning. Not only did he crawl into our bed in the middle of the night - followed closely by Spawnling, and let me tell you that four people in a queen size bed does not give me the beauty rest I require at my advanced age - but he woke up a good 45 minutes before the alarm and wanted to get himself cereal.

No problem so far. Gutsy is a capable six-year-old who often wakes up with the birds to watch cartoons before school. The problem today was that he wasn't feeling very independent.

Poke. Poke. "Dad?"

Shake. Shake. "Daaaad?"

Geekster mumbles "Yes, Gutsy? What is it?"

Spawnling stirs. I stir. It's like a memory foam mixing bowl.

"I want some cereal. Can you get me a bowl?"

All gremlin-friendly diningware is in the pantry on the bottom shelf for easy acquisition. I streamlined the early morning food gathering process in the last quarter so that we can increase dream production. It's supposed to be a full-proof system that Gutsy and his brothers have had a training seminar on. He's to read the manual before calling in management. I was rather disappointed by this morning's events.

"Gutsy," replied his very tired father, "the bowls are in the pantry and the cereal is in the cupboard next to the dishwasher. You know that. Go get it yourself, honey. It's too early to be talking. I'm going back to sleep, ok?"

Did you notice where the cereal is? Streamlined, see? I'm such a freaking genius.

Poke. Poke. "Dad?"

Geekster's mumbling turns into grumbling: "What?"

Spawnling kicks me in the ribs. Ouch. Damn it.

"I don't want a plastic bowl. I want a glass one."

The "glass" - or ceramic - bowls are sitting in a less convenient cupboard above the sink for a very specific reason: they are breakable.

"It's not time to get up yet so I'm not moving if I don't have to. What's wrong with plastic bowls? You always use those." At this point, Geekster sounds like he's whining more than discussing. I can't blame him. Being forced to make conversation before any coffee is a form of torture in some countries. So, instead of subjecting myself to torture as well, I winced at the pain in my ribs and went back to pretending I was fast asleep.

Gutsy, never quick to back down, explained his situation earnestly. "Yes, but they're plastic bowls. Plastic bowls are for babies. I want a glass bowl."

Knowing this could go on until the alarm sounded, I figured I would quickly rectify the situation. I didn't have a Food Acquisition Manual for Casa Maven in hand to throw at Gutsy, so instead I used 6:15AM logic. "Gutsy, when you're tall enough to reach the glass bowls you'll be old enough to use them. That's why they're up high. I have a system. Please respect the system. Now go get a plastic bowl and let us sleep, ok?"

There. Problem solved. When The Maven puts her foot down that is final. End of story. Everyone listens because I am god-like in my power.

For the next half hour we listened to Gutsy whine at the foot of the bed in such a way that he sounded like a sickly cow. A very sickly cow. A cow so sick it couldn't go get a damn plastic bowl in the damn pantry so its poor elderly cow parents could get a few more minutes sleep.

And then the alarm went off.

I got him a plastic bowl. He frowned and begrudgingly accepted it, his throat too hoarse from deep throated bovine-like whining to argue.

See? That's quality material right there. Moo-velous material.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Naughty Maven

I've been a very bad girl. So bad I should be punished.

If anyone wishes to punish me they could try taking away my chocolate, although I would advise against it if they value the use of their hands in the future.

I've been bad to myself, you see. Since Spa Weekend I haven't been taking very good care of myself. I've been eating poorly, sleeping less, whining more (see below), ignoring pain (see further below) and not blogging much (see the last few weeks).

The last little while has been mostly sucktastic: news of tooth decay and dental surgeries for two of the gremlins, no hope in the near future for the reinstitution of hours (and thus full pay) at Geekster's work, and added expenses as the insurance estimates start trickling in. We're on the hook for about $800 of Spawn's surgery and, while I considered prostitution as an quick-fix money maker, I don't think I have any leopard spotted bras or frayed jean skirts, and none of my shoes have heels high enough or colours bright enough to get noticed on a street corner in the dark.

...Also, did you know what you actually have to do as a prostitute to make money? You don't just lean over and talk to people in cars while holding a cigarette and looking flirty. There's... other... stuff. Stuff involving getting in the car. Ewww.

Anyway, since I'm not in the mood to be replying lipstick that much in a day, I've decided to whore myself out in other ways; I'm doing casual childcare and some light cleaning and sorting for a friend. I'm also strongly considering getting an actual postpartum doula certification as long as it doesn't break the bank, and doing some real, paid writing.

Oh, and we're getting a tax return for the first time in ten years. I had big plans about how to spend the $1200 until Geekster said nothing would look as nice on me as less debt.

Damn him and his reason.

All this stress and new work has wreaked havoc on my poor, delicate neck. And since cashflow has been a bit of an issue I haven't been seeing my chiropractor on a regular basis. And by 'on a regular basis' I mean any time in the last six months.

Then I woke up and couldn't move my neck.

For three days.

Pain is incredibly motivating.

I saw her this evening and will be seeing her once or twice a week for the next little while. I have some kind of syndrome - the name escapes me, but I think it's something like When You Move Your Neck It Feels Like Someone Is Throwing A Fucking Hammer At Your Back Syndrome. Something like that.

Anyway, I'm now able to blog again because I can look at my screen without wimpering. It feels good. I missed you almost as much as you've undoubtedly missed me. Wipe away those tears, my lambs, for The Maven is back and she has many great stories to tell about her sorry little life in the suburbs.

Right now I'm going to go make myself a late dinner and watch some X-Files. My twelve-year-old is obsessed and I'm enjoying drooling over Mulder in Season 1. Not so much Scully, though. She doesn't get attractive for a while yet. At some point they make her look less like a schoolmarm and she catches some sex appeal. Right now she's just annoyingly skeptical and trying so hard to be normal.

Don't try so hard, Scully. Some of us fringe girls are never quite normal and it's not a bad thing. At the very least, it means a lot of people will want to be around you for entertainment purposes or because they're addicted to crazy, but either way you'll sometimes score free coffee. Also, you might find yoruself doing cool things like talking to fictional characters on a show that ended several years ago.

I need to get out more.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Baby Boot Camp

When The Sister and I go shopping and I bring one of the gremlins, it's not because I'm a sucker for punishment.

When she chases Spawnling around the house with a shoe of his in each hand, enacts a perfect wrestling hold to put his coat on, hastily chases him outside and stuffs him unceremoniously into his car seat as he cackles evilly, she's not doing it because I'm too busy deciding what purse would go best with my shoes.

When she hovers around him in a mall, bribes him to get into the stroller by buying him a lollipop, navigates carefully around store racks that have clothing he could stain with his sticky little hands, all while attempting to buy things, I'm not off getting myself a bagel and a coffee because I feel like it.

When she's trying to negotiate a movie in the van for him to watch, changing it because he decides ten seconds in that he hates that one, reaching haphazardly behind her to pick up his dropped lollipop, contorting her body into uncomfortably painful positions to tickle him when he gets grumpy, I don't ignore the entire kerfuffle and instead belt out Weezer tunes because I'm being insensitive.

See, The Sister - AKA Photo Lush - has no little spawns of her own yet. And given that it took five years of dating before her and Chemgineer moved in together, I'll probably be throwing her first baby shower about the time we enter the next ice age. In the meantime I have three gremlins at nearly all stages of development for her to sink her future parenting teeth into.

Thanks to me, she can learn to steer through the ferocious storms of toddler tantrums, attempt to focus on her daily tasks while simultaneously processing a six-year-old's incessant monologues, and delicately, oh so very delicately, tiptoe around a preteen's precarious mood swings.

By the time she has her own children she will be nothing short of a parenting goddess, and people will bow at her feet for she has knowledge they only wish they, too, possessed. She'll know why we say "because I said so" and that it's okay to yell "STOP YELLING!" in certain situations. She'll understand how important shopping lists are when your mind is on telling the kids they can't have every damn thing in the store, and why you should never, ever leave your box of tampons where someone can reach it ("Look, mom! Nose plugs!")

When my sister becomes a mother she will already know that you can't watch a movie from start to finish without pausing it. That spit-up stains can be covered up with a nice scarf. That rock music trumps Raffi after you've given birth to your second child.


As she was struggling to get Spawnling into his car seat today while avoiding his sticky lollipop hands, I loaded the shopping bags into the trunk and sat in the front seat eating Peanut M&Ms with my free hands - all two of them.

Why? Because I love my sister enough to let her get sticky hands all over her hair, that's why.

(Photo: My sister as a baby. Sooo cute!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spread 'Em!

This afternoon, around the time I was dumping my cleaning water after nearly four hours of playing Maid Maven at someone else's house, Gutsy took it upon himself to organize the bathroom I had just organized two days before. Lovely.

I guess Geekster probably mentioned I was working and the middle gremlin felt inclined to do something nice for me. He really is a sweetheart most of the time.

Well, at least half of the time.

Sometimes only a third, but that's because we don't meet his high standards of quality on those days.

As I dragged my exhausted ass into the kitchen and dropped all the cleaning supplies on the ground, Gutsy whipped his head in and said "Mom, guess what? I have a surprise for you. Come see! I organized the bathroom! Come see right now!"

I shuffled away from the chair I was about to plop into and made my way to the bathroom, where I doscovered the sink and mirror ledge crammed with toiletries found previously in the medicine cabinet. On the left were the toothbrushes (all five of them) and toothpastes (all four of them) in a plastic container. To the right was my acne system, make-up and deodorant.

Gutsy felt the need to tell me what everything was just in case I inhaled too many cleaning products and had forgotten. "So we have toothbrushes, toothpaste - did you know we have four toothpastes open, Mom? That's kind of a waste - and then your makeup in that container there, and right at the end is your Lady Spread Stick."

Ever tried to swallow a laugh? It actually hurts.

"My... My what?"

"Your Lady Spread Stick."

"I bet Dad wishes I wore that all the time, eh Gutsy?"

"Oh, yeah! So you don't get stinky, right?"


Newly reading six-year-olds are awesome blog fodder.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Like Pulling Teeth... Or Elbows.

Yesterday, I took Gutsy to see our new dentist. I figured since Spawnling's teeth were rotting out of his mouth and the old dentist didn't catch it, we might want to question the validity of Gutsy's "perfectly healthy teeth" report at his last cleaning a few months ago. Intrepid will eventually follow suit and have his own appointment. But frankly I'm getting really tired of dental clinic smell. It makes me think about parting with money.

The new dentist took some x-rays and showed me the heavy decay in two of the middle child's front teeth. Yes, the same spot as Spawnling's. Not nearly as pronounced, but enough that they will need to be drilled and filled, thankfully without sedation. Gutsy is perfectly happy to watch Sponge-Bob on the television in the ceiling while they work on his frozen mouth. He has no need for $850 in sleep medicine like some people. *CoughSpawnlingCough*

Of course I'm unimpressed by the total lack of dentistry that has been going on at the old dentist's. However, this latest discovery makes me feel less like a jerk for leaving over one mistake, even though it's a big one. And yes, I was feeling a little jerkish being so pissy. I don't do anger very well. I'm more of a 'find some way to make it my fault' kind of person. It suits my personality better and it makes for fewer uncomfortable confrontations. I don't like accusing people of not doing their job very well; probably because I feel edgy when people do it to me. It's okay if I question my capabilities as a mother, but you had better not critique me or I'll get all up in your face.

Or I might just go somewhere and cry, or pay for therapy so I can cry in front of someone.

Now that both Guts and The Spawn are going under the knife - or drill, or plyers *shudder* - I'm finding it very easy to take our business elsewhere. Even the prospect of writing him a letter explaining the situation is less scary. I don't know what I'm going to say just yet, but maybe it'll go something like this:

Dear Dentist,

Thank you for missing obvious dental problems in two of my children. Specifically, eight cavities in total. We're eagerly awaiting April 25th, when our toddler will be sedated and lose four of his teeth because they are now so badly decayed they can't be saved. I'm also looking forward to paying our portion of the $1500 for his dental surgery and his likely need for braces in a few years' times.

It's okay. They didn't need to go to college anyway.

The Maven

See? Polite and positive. That's the best form of complaint letter.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: This morning I had been visiting a friend of mine and was just getting back into Vanzilla when I got a call on my cell phone.

"Hello, Maven? Are you near the school? ... Oh, good. You'll want to come pick up Gutsy. He and a boy were playing outside and Gutsy's arm was pulled. He can't move it at the elbow anymore."

"Ah. He dislocated it. It happens. I'll be there in a few minutes."

You might think I would be freaking out at this point, but we're old hats at this. Intrepid had four separate trips to the emergency clinic to have his elbows put back in. This was Gutsy's third go in six years. Our children have wussy joints. It's not their fault. If there is a genetic mutation to be discovered that causes someone to be ten pounds at birth, have poor elbow joints, weak enamel and hearing loss, the gremlins will be frontpage news in the science world. Until then it's one blurry haze as we travel from specialist to specialist with occasion trips to the hospital.

But you get used to it and it stops becoming a big deal. It's not drama if it happens all the time. When I want drama now I just start some rumours about people, or make them get into fights with each other but subtly egging them on. It's not like I'm busy with my own life or anything.

I immediately called Geekster and informed him that he'd be spending the afternoon keeping Gutsy company in the CHEO emergency waiting room. "Again?" was his reply. I explained I was working in two hours' time doing childcare for my friend who is, ironically, a nurse, and that I didn't think she'd appreciate me minding her babies in a hospital full of sick children. Something about contamination or superbugs or whatever. Those nurses are so paranoid.

I would like to say that I then hung up the phone and, panic-stricken, raced down the road at top speed so as to gather my sore child into my arms and comfort him, but I transitioned out of that state a long time ago. That's what first-timers do and I'm a seasoned pro. Old skool, baby.

By dislocated elbow #2 I stopped panicking and put on the radio to drown out crying on our way to the hospital (there are only so many times your heart can get ripped out of your chest as you helplessly listen to your child wimper every time your vehicle turns a corner or changes speed). By #4 I had learned to make a nifty sling out of either a pillowcase or receiving blanket. And by #6 I knew I could get a coffee or a bite to eat before heading out anywhere as long as the gremlin in question was not in complete agony. In this case, time #7, Gutsy's elbow episode sounded minor compared to the others and probably only partially dislocated. He was sitting, not screaming and simply keeping it propped up so it wouldn't hurt. Sounds like a candiated for pre-pickup coffee if you ask me!

After four hours the Gutsmeister was back home with his partially dislocated elbow now mended (can I call them or what?). I was finished my paying job for the day and we ate dinner. I then made my way over to my neighbour's house where I got the skinny on my other part-time moneymaker, which is the cleaning and organizing of her home.

Now, if you know me and have been to my place, you might ask yourself why anyone in their right mind who also knows me and has been to my place would trust me to clean theirs. While I've improved how tidy and organized Casa Maven is, it still doesn't look like I have mad skillz, yo. More like my skillz are starting to get moderately angry. It's a work in progress. But, like I explained to someone today, if I was paid cash every time I swept and mopped my floors or organized a pantry, my house would be sparkling at all times.

Then I would mess it all up and clean it again.

Then, after a few cycles of that, I would retire and my retirement home would remain a pigsty.

My only hope is that the people I'm working for will be able to go on without me when I'm a successful author who no longer needs to pimp out her other skillz to the masses. It won't be long before I'm rolling in more cash than I know what to do with. That's because I'm an awesome writer. So awesome I have all these writing jobs!

Oh, wait.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Little Spammer

The middle gremlin has his very own laptop. It's an old Mac iBook from around the year 2000 which was sitting on a shelf at Geekster's work for years, untouched. Finally he asked if he could bring it home, at least temporarily, to let his son destroy use. Since it was destined for the scrap heap he got quick clearance.

Gutsy loves his laptop. He listens to music on it. He looks at websites on it with a very old version of Firefox. He plays one game on it called Midnight Mansion, which is very cute and about the only Mac game we could find that will run on the old beast. He's been very happy with the limited capabilities of his machine because it's his. And, from what I've learned so far by raising three kids, when you're in the middle you hold on tight to what's yours and never let go. It's just nice to have something that belongs to you and only you.

Having this computer has helped Gutsy learn to read. It has helped him think logically while he sorts and maintains the files on his operating system. It has helped him acquire coping skills the few times his little brother pulled off keys and his dad patiently put them back on with tweezers. It has taught him to appreciate and take care of his belongings. Or, rather, his belonging - no s. He's not so careful with the other stuff.

Gutsy begged his dad for an email address. Generally, what Gutsy wants Gutsy shall receive, as long as he's persistent enough to wear us down over the course of several hours to days. This time was no different. We were concerned with the level of havoc he could bring to others' inboxes if he were given permission to do so. However, the pros of him learning to read and write and communicate online seemed to far outweigh any paranoid parental concerns.

The first email I received was this:

To: The Maven @ my real person address.com
From: Gutsy
Subject: Hi

hi mom i lov you


Now, that was touching. What a sweet email to get in the middle of a hectic day. I wrote back something about loving him, too, and smiled for the next hour. Such a sweetheart.

The next day, which was Friday, I sent him the following email as a surprise.

To: Gutsy
From: The Maven
Subject: Hello!

Hi Gutsy,

Hope you are having a good day! Love you!


His response?

To: The Maven
From: Gutsy
Subject: Re: Hello!

mom i haf to go pee

I chose not to reply to this one and instead vowed to have a little talk with him about appropriate vs. inappropriate sendings. Then we got busy with yesterday's trip to the in-laws and I had completely forgotten.

This morning, after prying my eyes open, grabbing a bowl of cereal and making coffee, I sat at my computer and perused my email. It didn't take me long to see Gutsy had tried to make himself a priority in my inbox:

To: The Maven
From: Gutsy


Fantastic. I have created an email spammer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Week in Quotations

Last night I took Bastette The Sponsee out to a meeting. This is one time I can definitely say I needed it just as much if not more than she did. A recap of last week in memorable quotes should give an idea of why:

Geekster: "Thanks to my paycut it looks like we have about $500 more a month going out than coming in. I think you're going to have to start bringing in some extra money right now. In the meantime, what can we cut?"

There's nothing like a Sunday bill paying session to start your week off on a positive note.

Dentist: "It appears we're going to have to pull all four top front teeth. They're too far decayed. Had his regular dentist referred you out to a pediatric specialist the first time you went in we probably could have saved them."

Yay! We get to the play the woulda-shoulda-coulda game? And it's only Monday, too. What luck!

Me: *cry* *sob* *blow nose* "My baby's teeth! It's so not fair!" *screaming into a pillow at 1AM so as to not wake up the rest of the house and have them awake with me while I cry, which would promptly end my little pity party*

A true display of my upbeat, positive attitude at work. It's beautiful to behold, isn't it?

Pixie: "Oops! Looks like Spawnling's truck collided with Einstein's nose and caused a nosebleed. It's okay, Einstein. Let's just go in the kitchen and get some tissues. Oh Maven, don't worry about it. Einstein will be fine. And about my white designer sweater with blood all over it? That's why I have this stain remover pen with me. See? All better."

My friends make such a big deal out of Spawnling's little love taps, don't they? Look at how upset she is. She's practically screaming at me. That just added to my stress level.

Spawnling as blood pours down his face later that day: "I try to hit Gutsy wif a Rescue Hero but I hit myself wif a Rescue Hero an' now I am full of red on my face and it hurts!"

What's that squeezy feeling in my chest? Must be all the love inside.

Gutsy: "Mom, the school needs us to raise more money for textbooks by getting people to donate to our bowl-a-thon"

Wow, really? That's awesome! I was just thinking that I needed a little fundraising in my life this week. It's been so monotonous, after all. How about we use the one free day we have this weekend - Sunday, when we're not three hours away seeing your grandparents for the day - and spend that time walking door to door and trying to collect money from people who are in the middle of an economic crisis?

A good week overall, but there's a little bit of stress mixed in there - no clue why, really - and I felt I could use last night's 12 step meeting. By "felt I could use" I really mean "ran out the door, jumped in the van, cranked up the punk music and took off screaming angry lyrics at nobody in particular before picking up Bastette The Sponsee and trying to make it seem like I was doing this for her"

She knew better, but she didn't let on. Instead she bought me coffee and let me act all sponsorish.

We saw Jobthingy after the meeting and went to a diner below the scariest strip bar in Ottawa. They make good poutine, but I had to stop eating it when the cook came out to talk to someone and wiped his nose on his apron.

Anyway, I'm off to pack up our stuff for this morning's excursion to Peterborough, Ontario. I'm one of those freaks who actually loves my in-laws (and I'm not just saying that because they read my blog - Hi in-laws!). The trip involves beautiful countryside, coffee, and three extra people to lasso the gremlins. These are definite Maven-enticing bonuses.

Given the week I've had I may sneak away for a walk. Or maybe just make a run for somewhere tropical and skip all the preliminary steps of slowly distancing myself from reality. I haven't quite decided yet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Rescue Hero Incident

(Photo courtesy of Photo Lush, the non-blogging sister)

Everyone feels so sorry for the littlest gremlin since hearing of his impending dental surgery next month where they will extract his four top front teeth.

When they see him this week they get a look of pity in their eyes, as if he will be having his fingers pulled off with rusty pliers by some sadistic doctor. 'Poor Spawn,' they say, and get teary.

When friends and family call or email they ask how he is as if he has a prolonged illness - and unless you count sad-and-guilty-mother-itis among the baddies in the medical textbooks, he's quite healthy.

'How's poor little Spawnling?' they ask gently. 'Is he doing okay today?'

'He's so little and it's really unfair,' will remark a kind soul.

'Is there anything I can do?' they will ask hopefully.

There is something you can do, actually: duck and cover.

What people don't realize is that Spawnling is a little boy from my womb, and therefore made of the very finest demonic ingredients: Specifically, rabid puppies and dark matter with just a pinch of chaos for added spice.

Oh. And half teaspoon of cinnamon.

Don't let those sweet blue eyes fool you, for the child is a creature of the nether world.

And being such a creature, my little demon feeds off the sorrow and misery of others. There's always enough of it going around on a daily basis, but pump up the sympathetic volume with a few more tears on his behalf and he gains immense strength.

And you don't want to see him when he has that much evil inside of him. Nay, it is the thing legends are made of and it is truly frightening.

Don't look at me like that; I know what you're thinking. 'Maven, he's just a little boy with rotten teeth. How could you say such things?' You probably write me off as a horrible parent. You probably think I'm over-exaggerating or mentally unstable.

You'd be right on to something with the mental instability part, but I'm telling the truth: My boy is vicious lately. So vicious I have to follow him around whenever there are other kids, never sitting down, never letting down my guard. Any child regardless of age can be a victim of his scratching, biting, slapping or pushing. He attacks mercilessly and without warning:

Get in his bubble? Smack!

Take a toy? Whump!

Talk to him when he's busy breathing? Blammo!

Crawl around on the other side of the room innocently looking at the carpet? Ka-Pow!

It's stressful and exhausting, I'll have you know. My job is full time referee, always watching and waiting for the next foul play. I drink a lot of coffee. A lot.

Thursday appears to be when he's at his finest. Last week he pinched my friend's toddler's face, getting one claw inside his cheek and pulling enough to draw blood. Today, he not only smacked Pixie's four-year-old with a car and made his nose bleed, but he also did a drive-by smacking of another little boy for no apparent reason. Just because. He was paying it forward. Doing random acts of violence. Taking a chance. Being spontaneous. He also committed at least a dozen other infractions that I won't bring up for brevity. I'm like a sports anchor reporting only the highlights.

My arms and chest are covered in scratches and have been for weeks. It looks like I raise large birds for a living and fail to wear protective gear. I wish I could have a good reason like wild bird rehabilitation to excuse my mangled body because it would provide a more interesting and less embarrassing answer to 'What happened to your arms... and neck... and, um, cleavage?'

Yesterday was a 'taste of your own medicine' day. After a full agenda of gremlin taming I decided to take the dog out in the back for bladder relief while the children were playing together. Spawn is just starting to figure out cooperative play, so he's been enjoying action figure adventures with Gutsy. They were doing very well when I walked out the back door. Intrepid was supervising nearby.

Did I mention they were doing very well when I walked out the back door?

I was gone three minutes.


I came back in to the following scene:

Intrepid had jumped on the computer to check his email and was oblivious to what had just transpired. Gutsy was crying in the livingroom. Spawnling greeted me at the door screaming and, when he turned around, I saw his face was covered in blood.

Apparently Spawn and Guts had a little "incident", where they began to fight over adventuring techniques. Spawn then chased his older brother into the livingroom and raised the action figure to hit Guts with it. When he did so, he whacked himself with the toy's feet: once above the hairline and once below. The bump on the forehead split open and started bleeding. Head wounds bleed a lot, just so you know. It was a tiny cut, but it hurt and it was scary. Spawnling was screaming 'Mommy! There's red on my face and it's yucky and it huuuuurts!'

It will go down in Maven family history as The Rescue Hero Incident.

A little bit of karmic payback perhaps? Now not only is he the kid with rotten teeth, but also with a large scabby bump on his head. From a parenting perspective I'm looking less attentive by the minute.

I've heard cavities can cause a low level of discomfort in children that can make them extra crabby. I pray every day that this is Spawnling's problem and he will emerge from the dentist chair a changed child. A happier, more complacent little guy like he used to be. And until I see otherwise I will hold on to that pipe dream and tell myself it's not all aggressive personality. He's in pain. Poor Spawnling. Poor, poor Spawnling.

(It is that sympathy which makes the darkness grow in him. I had better wear a long sleeve turtleneck tomorrow.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Recap of my Debauchery

Thank you for the love, sheeple. Truly, I appreciate all the comments, emails and phone calls of love.

Except for the calls where I pick up and someone is breathing hard. I don't appreciate that kind of love unless I consent to it. Just so we're clear.

I was having a very crap evening and this morning wasn't so great either until my friends showed up with gifts of coffee and chocolate. Being able to slowly brainwash people into thinking I'm so fun to hang out with that they must bribe me with food has proven to be a worthwhile effort. Sure, it's a huge lie, but who cares? In the end I get sweets and bitters. And once they figure out how boring I am I'll have convinced someone else they want to please my stomach.

Baby, don't hate the playah. Hate the game.

Completely coffeed out and with friends gone home, I'm indulging in a glass of water - exciting - and a chocolate-covered cherry - significantly more exciting, I'd say. Intrepid and Gutsy were ushered off to school with a hired marching band following the bus. I ran alongside it with some pompoms and made up cheers about how wonderful it was that March Break was over. It was a subtle sendoff, but I think they got the message.

As of right now, Spawnling and both dogs are asleep in various parts of the house, while one cat is eating and the other is outside like it's Spring or something, but with a foot of snow still on the ground. He's old and senile, so we'll forgive his stupidity. In short, this seems like the perfect time to write about how fantastic my spa weekend was, and maybe even add in a few pictures.

For starters, I attended the Ottawa Blogger Brunch... Or is that Breakfast? I never remember. It was a lot of fun. After this brunch I have deemed Nat and I to be official, bona fide friends and not just geeky internet weirdos having the occasional coffee, as we've spent enough real life time together. I met Laurie and one of her sons who was probably the most personable child I've had the pleasure of hanging out with. In fact, it made me wonder what is wrong with my own gremlins that they don't sit and talk to grownups in quite that way.

(It may have something to do with my referring to them as gremlins, which are little, ugly destructive goblin-type creatures. It could maybe be affecting their self-esteem a little. I don't know.)

I also had the pleasure of finally - finally! - meeting Jobthingy's Raspyberry. Can I just say that I adore that guy? What I don't adore, however, is their constant mushy gushy stab-me-in-the-eye sweetness with each other. It's disgusting! I mean, get over yourselves. Even my sister - who I rebelliously brought to the meal even though she's *gasp* not a blogger - was grossed out. We kept rolling our eyes at each other as we attempted to keep our food down.

I also met Raino, Hannah78 and several others I'll add to my blogroll. They're really cool chicks and so personable! Who new you could use the internet and not be creepy?

These are mine and jobthingy's name tags after the big event:

After brunch we hit the spa. I got my first ever pedicure. Man, that was gross. Who knew you could slice off that much dead skin from a heel? Uber nasty. I really admire people who can work on feet for a living. The aesthetician put pretty coral pink on my toes, which inspired me to buy a pink purse and dark metallic slip-ons with hot pink interiors. I was in heaven, buying stuff just for me! Normally I wouldn't, but I was caught up in the do-something-for-yourself whirlwind and I just couldn't stop. Sort of like binge drinking but with a money hangover.

My hair got cut and straintened at the hair salon. Damn I looked sexy. Well, sexier anyway. Slightly more sexy than usual, which probably isn't saying much. Still, I liked. Here's a pic of my sister and I getting ready for dinner. Note my hotness.

It takes me a good 45 minutes to an hour to straighten my hair. Way too much work with three gremlins to tame on a daily basis. I'm relieved to report that it looks almost as good curly if I put a bunch of frizz-taming and curl-enhancing products in it. It's all about the products, ladies.

We had dinner at an Italian place. As a non-meat-eater I was highly skeptical. Normally when a vegematarian goes to a place where meat is served, the dishes are rather bland and boring without a big slab of seasoned carcass. Not so at this place; I had the most amazing fetuccini of my life. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

Salivating all over my keyboard like an internet pervert. That's freaking gross. Where's the tissue?

Clubbing was fab. I had my first ever energy drink, which is basically some pop with a hell of a lot of caffeine in it. It had zero affect on me for the first twenty minutes. I thought of telling the company that their drink is for sissies. Then it hit me like a herd of elephants and I started yelling song lyrics while dancing profusely anywhere I was. I couldn't sit still.

No more energy drinks for The Maven. She has no tolerance. They are like crack to her. She is banned.

We had poutine at a 24h diner when the clocks changed from 2 to 3am. I felt like a bad girl being out so late. It was a wonderful feeling. I started to get really giddy as the energy drink wore off. We headed back to the hotel around 4am, which was really 3am but whatever.

Around 4:30am we - mostly the drunk sister and her hilarious friend Toupée and I - were being so loud we had the neighbours next door bang on the wall so violently it freaked us all out. Then we were quiet and well-behaved girls. Honest. Not another peep.

The Sister and Toupée made a funny video about the whole ordeal in which they whisper about the mad banger on the banging wall and giggle to themselves. I'll see if they'll let me post it.

Do you know how long it's been since I had a noise complaint? How awesome is that?! I felt like a rocker girl. I contemplated trashing the room but unfortunately I am without the rocker salary. Tragic.

I slept a total of four hours but am happy to report that there was a Fourbucks in the hotel lobby. Bastette bought me a very big latte and that kept me going. Speaking of Bastette, she's my sponsee and she's gorgeous. Check it out:

(She is gorgeous, but really I just wanted to show off my hair again.)

We checked out and I had brunch with The Sister and I came home. Because, honestly, there was nothing left to do. I had pampered, I had partied, I had partaken in shopping and food. What more was there? For just over 24 hours afterwards I was the happiest - and most exhausted - person alive. Then yesterday's dentistry surprises occurred and I felt glum. Refreshed, but glum.

At least I'm refreshed. And I have cute hair, feet and shoes. Not to be confused with "hairy feet in shoes". If you read that you need to go back, read slower and stop watching Lord of the Rings.

Besides, hobbits don't even wear shoes.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Spawn's Toof(s): The Saga Continues

Know what really sucks?

When you spend the day writing a fairly fantastic post about your stupendously superb weekend and figure you'll finish it right after Spawnling's surprise dental visit at 5pm (there was a cancellation and they called this morning), and then you find out that your child's teeth are too far gone to be saved and they will have to pull all three of the remaining top front ones.

Yes. I said all three.

I told you it sucked.

My child is going Deliverance style. Wasn't I just making fun of Deliverance and having a purdy mouth and all that? Is this some kind of karmic joke? Now I'll have to buy him a banjo and some slacks with suspenders. We'll need to move to a log cabin, join a militia and raise our own turkeys and pigs for the slaughter. This is how these situations work. It's practically a law.

And we're peace-loving vegetarians, damn it.

On Saturday April 25th, my poor little Spawnling will go under general anesthetic and have three teeth pulled, two filled and sealed, his mouth flourided and polished. He will wake up sore and confused and I will feel like a very, very shitty mom.

Oh, wait. I already do. I suppose that will simply be a continuation of the feeling coupled with copious amounts of empathy for my baby.

You know that little nagging feeling I had about my dentist not picking up on the decay like he should have? I should have listened to that voice about six months ago instead of waiting and waiting and guessing hearing voices in my head simply meant I should drink less coffee.

I'm also trying not to have murderous feelings toward my dentist. I know everyone makes mistakes. Sesame Street taught me that. However, they were referring to spilled milk and not the loss of four top teeth.

Just sayin'.

There's no point in being mad, I suppose. With that in mind, I suppose having several crying jags on the way home was also pointless. The pattern was sort of like this:

I'm fine. He's fine. It could be worse. He could have leukemia.

Oh my God. Did I just use the "He could have leukemia" card? What the hell is the matter with me? Kids get cancer and it's nobody's fault. Spawnling's teeth are rotting out because I feed him peanut butter cups while watching Arthur. Leukemia. You're such a jerkface, Maven.

*crying jag*

No, I'm not a jerk. I'm a distraught mom, that's all. This is a big deal. My child is going to have dental surgery. My child is going to have no front teeth. How is he going to talk? Is he going to sound so weird that none of the other kids will play with him and he'll be at home feeling lonely and doing puzzles with mom and dad until he's seven? Will he look like we don't love him and take care of him? Will someone call the authorities?

Oh. My. God. Did I just make this all about me? Seriously? All I can think about is how I'm going to look to the rest of the world when my child is losing his rotten teeth? I'm such a selfish bitch of a mom!

*crying jag and nose blowing*

Shut up, big meanie voice! You don't know what you're talking about. I'm a great mom. Or at the very least mediocre. I brush my kids' teeth! I make sure they get their calcium! I take them outside! And play games with them! And fix them nutritious snacks like apples and...

Oh. My. God. How is he going to eat an apple now? Is it considered a longterm disability if you have to cut up fruit for a child on account of being toothless for five years? A preventable disability, even. I ruined this poor boy. He should have had a better mother who loved him enough to floss. And... and... Corn on the cob is his favourite and he'll be without it for so long he'll forget what it tastes like! He's going to need therapy forever!

*crying so hard the person in the car next to me looks like he might put it in park and come hug me*

So, as you can see, this has not been a good evening. My mom called tonight just to make sure I'm okay. When I can talk about it without crying I'll be sure to call my in-laws and tell them, too. And maybe my friends - the ones who don't read my blog.

Are there any of those left? I think they all like to read my little trainwreck. Probably because I look so composed and together in real life and it makes them feel better about themselves.

Yes. That's it.

I suppose we might want to look on the bright side. All this angst he'll be feeling is the perfect fuel if he wants to front a punk band later (after his teeth come in and get knocked out again in a bar fight). I'm also slightly relieved that biting will prove more difficult. He's been doing a lot of that lately and it's soooo annoying.

I think it might have been over the line to celebrate the end of biting. Whatever. It's been a crap day and I'm grasping at the straws of positivity. Just smile and nod for me, alright?

Tomorrow I'll post about my awesome weekend, though. It was spectacular and I enjoyed every minute of it. I'll also post pictures of my incredibly sexy new hair. It loses some of its appeal when my make-up is smeared from sobbing all the way home, though. I'll make sure they're happy pictures from when I was blissfully unaware of what was coming today. Stupid life, throwing curveballs.

But I'm not bitter. Nope. Not at all.

Friday, March 06, 2009

In Which The Maven Runs Away

Technically, morning will be here in half an hour. But my morning - the morning of all mornings - starts in about nine.

In nine hours I will wake up anything but well-rested because I will have likely been Spawnling's trampoline and food source from about five in the morning while getting only very broken sleep. But I will wake up anyway, because it's going to be the first day in a long time that is dedicated entirely to me and only me.

Let me say that again. It's all about the most important person in the world: me and only me.

Me, me, me.


No gremlins, no husband, no pets, no housework. No mundane thoughts like is the load in the dryer ready?, no how many vegetable servings did the kids get today? calculations. Nothing ordinary, nothing selfless, nothing responsible or productive or educational in any way. I will have two days of complete abstinence from the real world in which I will enjoy my happy pink bubble filled with friends and rich foods and too many diet drinks at the bar while I dance my face off.

Spa weekend is here! It's officially happening in a really real way and I will enjoy it to the fullest. I'm starting off the party by heading to the Ottawa Bloggers Brunch and will be bringing my sister Photolush along for the experience of meeting other internet exhibitionists. She will see that her sister is not the only one who puts her life out there for other people to laugh at.

The highlight of the brunch? Other than seeing some of my favourite people, I am beyond excited to be meeting Laurie, who I first blog stalked, then Facebook stalked and am now working my way into an autographed copy of her new book. The poor girl is probably terrified to learn that I'll be there and will undoubtedly hide from me at the other end of the really long table, but I'll flash her some Maven charm and she'll come around eventually. Most people do once they realize I'm the harmless kind of crazy.

Then Photolush and I will meet up with the othe girls at the spa and get very self-indulgent things done to our bodies. I fully intend to burst out of my pants at dinner by commiting caloric suicide at the Italian restaurant before destroying my very first pedicure on the dance floor until I drop from exhaustion and fall blissfully asleep in the hotel room with four other girls in various states of drunkenness.

Obviously I will not be drinking, as I've heard that can be a bad move for a recovering alcoholic. Something about complete abstinence? I'm sure I read that somewhere...

In my seventeen years of clean and sober living I've come to appreciate drunk people in a way I never thought possible. Some would call sobriety boring in that you can't share in the inebriated fun. But that's the human character flaw of instant gratification talking; the real joy of not drinking in a room full of booze is that you can remember the stupid crap people do even when they can't. Then you can remind them of it at your convenience for a very long time. For example:

Friend Who Drinks Too Much Sometimes: You were half an hour late picking me up. You're always late lately. What's the matter with you?

Sober you: Hey, remember that time last year when you puked on the cute guy in the bar that was buying you that drink and then puked on the bartender when he got you a towel and then still asked the cute guy for his number? How gross was that? Did you ever tell your boyfriend? But it was so hilarious! Can I tell him? No? Then shut up and get in the car, perfectionist.

See? There are definite advantages to being a non-drinker, and blackmail is just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, I should get some sleep. This has been a very busy, exhausting week; hence the lack of blog posts. You can blame the gremlins for their constant bickering and boredom as it lead me to - ick - having to do things with them. Like, come on! I gave them life and now I have to amuse them, too? That's so not fair.

Goodnight! I'll update on the awesomeness on Sunday. In the meantime let's place bets on how destroyed the house will be upon my return. They have thirty hours without me, give or take. On a scale of 1 to 10, I pick 7. But what do I know? I'm just the mom.

Also, Monday is advice column time! Have something you want to ask me? Write to me at mavenmayhem@gmail.com

If you're too lazy to copy and paste that, you can just touch my monkey on the sidebar, over there ---------->

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Spawnling Toof Saga: Volume 3

See, the thing about being a frantic typer is that you can hit the keys so fast and unpredictably that you could, say, wipe out a half hour's worth of writing in one unknown keyboard shortcut.

I was not impressed with what transpired two hours ago. So, I went to watch 300 and now I feel better. Sure, I nuked my rather funny post, but at least I'm not a psychotic Spartan.

I was trying to update about Spawnling's toof situation. If this is your first time here or you happen to not care enough about my incredible life to read me regularly, you'll want to catch up here and here. I don't like to repeat myself unless it's to mention what an awesome person I am; the truth should be told over and over until it's believed.

Incidentally, that's also the way brainwashing works.

Spawnling and I took a little trip to see Dentist A on Friday, but not before booking an appointment with Dentist B. I had heard good things about both thanks to the wonders of Facebook status comments and the many people who's children also have horrible teeth. I called Dentist B's office first but couldn't get in until March 23rd. So, I called Dentist A while keeping the appointment with B.

Finding a dentist, I've learned, is a little like dating: Your date on Friday might be a kind and wonderful bloke who makes you laugh, or he could be a rabid serial strangler from the mountains. There's just no way of knowing, so it's best to keep your meeting on the 23rd, just in case. See what I'm saying?

Like a good mother, I came to the appointment equipped with toddler essentials: his "Baby" (a teddy bear dressed in WWII flight gear), his blanket and his purse that he had adopted from my armoire a few minutes before leaving the house. It's taupe and matched his pants and he refused to get into his carseat without it.

It's all about the pant to purse matching, ladies. Let Spawnling be your guide.

I made sure we arrived early. I gave him plenty of time to explore his surroundings, which mostly involved scribbling on top of other children's scribbles on the kiddie table, repeatedly glaring at and saying 'no' to an infant on the opposite end of the waiting room for no apparent reason other than he could, and crapping his pants. When I changed him in the bathroom I also had to change Baby the WWII pilot veteran. I'm glad I brought a spare diaper or we might have had a meltdown earlier than expected.

We met Dentist A in a very cool room with not one, but two televisions: one on the wall and one on the ceiling. And, they played Thomas the Tank Engine at the push of a button. The doctor gave my boy some cool sunglasses to wear and let him hold one of those little mouth mirror instruments. Spawn and I both agreed that he did not in any way resemble a mountain man serial strangler, nor did we notice any rope with which to strangle us with, which was quite reassuring. All these things combined made Dentist A very cool in Spawnling's book.

Until, of course, he realized that Dentist A was, indeed, a dentist. That happened just around the time we wanted to do dentistry things, like have a look in the ol' mouth. Then he screamed the scream of someone about to be strangled by dental floss and feeling the betrayal of not knowing a serial stranger when he sees one.

The entire thing was quite tragic, and lead to two conclusions:

1. That he has two definitive cavities in two different teeth with possibly more decay elsewhere that couldn't be *ahem* "evaluated", and,

2. That Dentist A recommends we not go with his laughing gas/oral sedation wussy stuffy and move right along into full sleep-like-the-dead sedation reserved for the truly traumatized, which can be done by making an appointment with another dentist.

Oh, you guessed it: Dentist B. And who has an appointment already booked?

You may high five me now. I am that good. So good at my job I'm damn near psychic!

I'm not terribly thrilled with the idea of full sedation, but having Dentist A explain the very real potential (30-40%) that Spawn could wake up in the middle of his proceedure and flail around if not put completely under, I don't think there's a lot of choice. Also, I would like to think that if a dentist is recommending I take my business elsewhere he has a very good reason. He's losing out on some serious cashola.

Dentist B is, I believe, the nice doctor who pulled Gutsy's tooth four years ago. He works at the local children's hospital and I really liked him. He didn't judge like another dentist we had to deal with for the consultation. Instead, he simply explained, empathized, froze, pulled, and comforted me while I comforted Gutsy. A good guy and I look forward to meeting with him again.

Can I let out a long, drawn out sigh for a moment? Can I just say again that this toof thing really sucks? I've had five root canals, two crowns, a host of cavities, a six tooth bridge and various other dental surgeries in my lifetime, but the thought of the Spawn having to be put under to save what's left of his front teeth really makes me a sad Maven. I feel so bad for the little guy and a part of me still wonders if I could have done something differently. Brushed more, fed him fewer Skittles. That sort of thing.

This is one of those times a recovering alcoholic and drug addict will try to use 12 step program knowledge to make sense of a situation. It's a very effective way of not freaking the hell out and diving into a bottle. So, in this case, I'll use the 'everything happens for a reason' mentality. Eighteen months ago, Intrepid fell out of a tree and broke his femur. He had two surgeries which were far more invasive than simple dentistry and required heavy sedation. He came out of it just fine.

Perspective, right? It's all about perspective. See? I can be positive! I can be wise! I can mature about this, and all that crap.

Want to know the other thing I'm good at? Asking my mommy to come with me so she can buy me coffee and hold my hand while I wait for my baby to wake up with fixed teeth. Because while I can keep it in perspective now, I will be a hot mess when the big day comes. Geekster can hold the fort here and The Madre can prop me up in the waiting room chair. Team effort all the way.

For now I'll enjoy March break. By "enjoy" I mean dig my nails into my palms and pretend I'm looking forward to summer break when they can take the time to work on more effective and louder fighting strategies. By "break" I refer to being on my feet all day breaking up arguments and cleaning up messes.

Confession: All this noise takes my mind off of what's coming. It's oddly comforting. I suppose that means I've completely lost my mind, now.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mavenly Advice, Week 3: Matricide, Panticide and Vegecide

A little guilt goes a long, long way.

I received three decent questions this week while I was not blogging. Why wasn't I adding daily meaning to your lives with my eloquent prose? In less than seven days I caught both a stomach flu and a nasty head cold, the latter of which is only starting to dissipate. When I said I would attempt 365 posts in 365 days, I also added a disclaimer about not wasting precious energy posting when I could barf on my keyboard or some such. I would also think that too much sneezing would make keys sticky and non-responsive. I've had three keyboards in two years on this poor laptop. It's bordering on ridiculous and I refuse to buy a fourth, ok? Ok.

Onward with the questions!

Dear Maven,

I'm sitting and drinking a cup of hot chocolate as I calmly consider the pros and cons of matricide. I thought you might have some helpful advice for me. Here is my situation:

I live in a house of five people. Other than my wonderful self, these five people consist of ...
1) a husband who likes everything to run as smoothly as a Jedi council meeting. (Well, you know, the meetings before Anakin goes over to the dark side and hacks everyone to pieces with his light saber.)
2) my wonderful free-spirited, non-conformist, unpunctual, unorganized self
3) a daughter who has a genius level IQ and is therefore, perfectly capable of walking into any room (say the bathroom), standing still and becoming lost in her own thoughts for an hour or more with NO CONCEPT of the passage of time
4) a son who is five, active, and nicknamed "Gozer the Gozerian"
5) my aging mother, who's super power is to be able to sense when would be the worst possible time to get in the shower, and then do so.

We have one bathroom. Not one and a half. Just one. Adding another bathroom or moving to a house with more bathrooms is not in the budget right now, despite the rut the housing market is in.

Every morning, I, who am not a morning person, face this terrible choice
A) get up at the ass-crack of dawn and get in the shower before 7am
B) wait until close to 9 am to get a shower, then grouse for the rest of the day about how I can't get anything done till 10 am.

Why are those my choices? Cause my mother is in and out of the bathroom between the hours of 7 and 9. She needs in to use the rest room every 15 minutes. Tomorrow I shall time this phenomena to prove my point. If I'm not out of the shower by 7:30, she's in a panic cause she's going to be late to work. (She's late to work every day, regardless of whether or not I shower.) Even if I am out of the shower before 7:30, she's standing in the hall with her legs crossed cause she really needs to go (despite the fact that she went right before I got in the shower.) I typically occupy the bathroom for 30-40 minutes when showering. I don't think that's an unreasonable length of time. Therefore, after calmly considering this, I'm coming to the conclusion that matricide might be the best solution to my situation.

Requiring Another Necessary Today

Dear RANT,

I empathize with your situation; there is not a single one of us who hasn't considered matricide at some time. (Except me, mom. Never once have I thought about contributing to your untimely demise. Unless you count the episode when I was thirteen and you found both my cigarettes and drugs while doing my laundry, punished me severely and refused to give either back to me. Big meanie.)

Good news: Surprisingly, there are ways to avoid killing your mother. Sure, that might be the simplest solution, but then you have to figure out how to cover it up, bribe the cops, or find a judge who's sympathetic to your need for an early shower. And in the end, do murders just never work out the way we want them to? Sadly, no. It's disappointing, but we need to move beyond the woe-is-me attitude and become more proactive. I have a few suggestions for you.

Do you need your mother living with you for financial reasons, or would running her out of the home be a viable option? Asking her to leave is just going to create waves; running her out of the house is far better. Ultimately, you want her to make the decision to move out. To do so, you could try some of the following conversation starters:

"So, we've joined this nudist colony..."

"Hubby and I are going to turn the house into a free-run shelter for orphaned tarantulas. You don't mind shaking your clothes out in the morning, do you? Those furry little cuties can hide in a lot of places!"

"The thing is, by removing the bathtub/shower and hosing ourselves down outside, we'll save a lot of energy and make the lawn look nicer, too. Oprah says it's all about getting back to basics, you know."

"Mom, we've been talking and think you deserve more for your monthly contribution. So, every time you pay your portion of the mortgage, we're going to get you a lap dance. No, no, don't thank us. We insist! That's just the type of giving people we are."

If mother moving out is not feasible, you could slowly warp her aging mind with some of the following statements repeated several times daily until she starts believing them:

"If you shower at night you'll save soooo much time in the morning. You really must make use of every minute you have left. Don't you think?"

"You should try sponge bathing with a bowl and a rag. All the cool elderly are doing it!"

"If you stop drinking liquids by about 4PM every day you won't have to pee until you leave the house in the morning. Talk about efficiency!"

As you can see, matricide is not the only solution to your hygienic dilemma. Let me know how it goes.

Spending most of my morning un-showered and still in jammies,
The Maven

Dear Maven:

How can i get my daughters who are 11 now to put their dirty knickers in the damn laundry basket, instead of on the ground, so that the dog doesn't eat them? She so loves dirty undies!

It's really quite embarrassing when I'm at the dog park and the missus goes for a shite and out comes pink and purple Dora underwear.

The Panty Whisperer

Dear PW,

That sounds very problematic. I'm sure there's a hotline for this kind of thing but I can't seem to find the number. Have you checked on the back of a milk carton?

While your children definitely need a lesson in hamper usage - and if you put them in a course I would also like to enroll Gutsy, the king of dirty laundry pyramids - I would be more concerned with your dog. If she were human, would she still be eating knickers? Would she insist on filling her belly with cartoon-plastered undergarments? Isn't that behaviour some kind of early warning sign for serial killers?

I recommend some serious puppy therapy and a Hannibal Lecter-like mask until the help kicks in. With any luck she can be reformed before she starts chewing up bras and shanking other dogs in the park with leftover underwires.

I wish you all the best. Please keep safe.

From the woman whose cocker spaniel wears a doggy diaper,
The Maven

Dear Maven,

In all your vegetarian goodness, what would you do if someone did a drive-by ham throwing at you?

Getting Porked

Dear GP,

I think you raise an important issue, and one that I don't take lightly. This video depicts the cruel act of violence brought on by omnivorous vigilantes. I warn you: it will burn into your psyche and haunt your dreams.

Unfortunately, as with most minority groups, hate crimes are enacted on innocent vegetarians all the time. I, myself, have not been a victim of a drive-by hamming, but I know the permanent damage this can cause non-meat-eaters and their families.

How many bottles of stain remover must we go through to get the grease off our good walking clothes? How many washes before the fake smoke smell is removed? How many vegetarians need to lose their homes because they can't pay their chiropractic bills? How many of us must be buried after a large pig thigh is hurled at our unsuspecting heads?

I pray the day will never come when a cured carcass part is launched from a passing vehicle at myself or my family. However, one must protect the ones they love; I have told the gremlins not to mention our "lifestyle" to people they don't know. Especially people who eat ham.

Munching on an organic apple (with the blinds closed),
The Maven