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Archive for January, 2011

Of birds and bees.

Now that Spawn is 10, we are approaching the day when we have The Talk.  You know, The Talk.  Birds and bees. 

I’ve never really understood the whole “birds-and-bees” euphemism, mostly because it seems that it should explain that birds and bees somehow Do It with one another, and would that not be a sci-fi horror movie?  Birds with stingers?   

You might chastise me for not addressing the birds/bees issue well before now, and other than a few very gender-specific discussions aimed at thwarting predation, the issue hasn’t been so much me as it’s been Spawn’s readiness.  The maturity level is just not there.  Spawn understands the whole sperm-and-egg process, and has a vague notion that the act of bringing another living creature into the world most likely involves some discomfort.  To which I say, thanks, Discovery Channel.  What we have not discussed with Spawn is the very act, the mechanics of how that sperm and egg meet.  Because, trust me on this, right now the opposite sex is rife with cooties and that would quite possibly break the kid’s brain. 

Spawn’s a lot like I was at that age.  When my mother had The Talk with me, my singular response was, “that’s gross!”  I was determined not to participate in any of it.  And I didn’t, not for a very, very long time, long past when my peers were working out the logistics on their own.   As luck would have it, my hormones finally kicked in and here I am, married and a mom.  And now it is my turn to pass along the benefit of my knowledge. 

Still, there are the questions, which tend to pop up when we’re in the car.  Kids seem to know that confinement in a car creates a captive audience, and usually that’s when we have discussions.  It helps not to have to make eye contact. 

“Mom?  Some kids at school are calling C a name and I don’t want to say what it is.” 

“Okay, what does this word start with?” 

“G.” 

“Ah.” 

“Yeah, what does that even mean?  I mean, doesn’t it mean ‘happy’?” 

(My first encounter with “what does ‘gay’ mean” happened in first grade.  I’m surprised it took until fourth grade to surface in Spawn’s conversations.) 

“Well, Spawn, it used to mean that a long time ago, and that’s still one of the definitions.  But people don’t use it that way any more.” 

“Oh.  Well, I don’t get why it’s a bad thing to say to someone.” 

(I should also point out that one of Spawn’s cousins is gay.  We haven’t covered that topic, yet, either.  Boys and girls kissing is gross enough.) 

“Hm.  Well, that’s one of those things that’s really personal stuff and it’s nobody’s business.  And it’s also not nice to tease someone by calling them a name.” 

“Yeah.  Okay.” 

I don’t think I really solved anything.  And I’m pretty sure the Catholic Church won’t think I’m doing my soul any favors by not condemning the lifestyle, flat-out.  What can I say?  It’s hard to undo 40+ years of liberal Protestantism. 

— Mox

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I had no idea it was snowing outside last night until a friend of mine posted to my Facebook page asking me if it was, since she needed to make the drive down to our metro area for a meeting this morning. 

In what appears to be a case of willful ignorance of the facts, I had no idea there was a chance of snow overnight last night.  However, what was forecasted as a “dusting” turned into 2″ and effectively shut everything down for today.  The road crews didn’t even get out last night because they were expecting a “dusting” and I’ve been watching them playing catchup all morning long. 

In fact, it’s all winter, all the time south of the Mason-Dixon line.  And I would like to know who flipped the weather around so that areas north of us got no snow, no rain, no nothing, while we and everyone south of us got walloped.  Do the Powers That Be realize that southern folks are not equipped for more than one or two snow events per year? 

There are people of my acquaintance who get as giddy as schoolkids at the mention of measurable snow and in fact love and enjoy winter.  To each his own, I say.  But leave me out of it. 

— Mox

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Genetically, I have both won and lost the lottery.  My mother and her mother come from a line of women who look and act easily ten years younger than they actually are/were.  In fact, my grandmother made my mother promise not to list her age in her obituary because everyone assumed she was in her 70’s and not her 80’s.  The women of my dad’s family, however, age rather poorly.  Craggy faces, tired skin, the works. 

What this means for me is that I get a little bit of both worlds.  I work on my skin texture because that’s what my maternal grandmother taught me to do from an early age.  Moisturize and always, always smooth on lotions and makeup with upward strokes.  I don’t think I look my age, but I’m not that 10 years younger that my mother enjoys.  Maybe more like three.  The reason for this is that I have some lines on my face that could not have come from any other source than my father’s side of the family.  I mean, woo!  you could plant some corn in those furrows. 

I have worn my hair over my forehead for years, mostly cut into bangs or fringe, because of the frown lines on my forehead.  I look at my contemporaries and none of them have the deep grooves I’ve got.  Maybe I’ve been a bit too facially expressive over the years. 

I am in the process of changing my hairstyle (again) and in this process I have uncovered my banged/fringed secret.  Currently I hate my haircut but it’s on its’ way to something else (I hope) so right now I am just trying to live with it.  But the abyss on my forehead is hard to ignore. 

On a whim, I Googled a few search terms, like “deep wrinkles” and “wrinkle treatment” — because oh yes I am vain — and set about learning what it is I could do about this problem.  Here’s what I’ve come to: 

  1. Botox is out.  I am not anxious to inject myself with a toxin.
  2. Other facial fillers are not totally out of the question, at least not at this point.  More reading will need to be done. 
  3. Wrinkle creams are a decidedly cheaper alternative, and therefore there’s a strong possibility I will attempt. 
  4. Still, I loathe spending a lot of money on makeup without that magical guarantee that it will restore my youth.  Or at least a semblance of my youth. 
  5. I don’t entirely trust that a cream would even begin to fill in the lines on my forehead. 
  6. Plastic surgeon?  I hate to admit this, but yeah.  I probably would.  If I could. 

So you see, despite my tomboy nature, there is something of a girly-girl lurking inside me.  I try not to let her get the upper hand because that leads to all sorts of money-spending, and the last thing I am able to do is spend money all willy-nilly.  Given a free hand and an open bank account, I could load up on shoes and jewelry pretty quick, because those are my girly weaknesses. 

I was born to the wrong socioeconomic class, y’all. 

I guess my next step, the safest and least spendy of my options, is to shell out some bucks for a wrinkle cream and see what happens.  Because my hair is on its’ way to something else and I need to keep up. 

— Mox

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So, when we last left off, I was kvetching about the cold and the snow and winter in general.  Little did I know at the time that it was about to get worse. 

What could be worse than (pfft) 3″ of snow, you ask? 

How about making a 128-mile trip, eastward, in a snowstorm that is tracking to the east.  In the dark. 

Yes, Gentle Reader, that was my afternoon/evening on Thursday. 

The roads at home weren’t completely terrible so I decided to keep my hair appointment for that afternoon.  As I was headed out my cell rang and my husband started asking me a bunch of questions about where I was, where I was going, and when was I going to get back.  Because, wouldn’t you know it, his father had had a heart attack. 

Next thing I know, I’m flinging clothes and makeup into an overnight bag, packing Spawn off to my parents’ house (because surely there would be no school on Friday but you never know), and heading off toward my in-laws’ city for what turned out to be a very tense and extremely long drive. 

We got to the hospital almost four hours later to find my father-in-law still sitting in the ER, hooked up to various monitors, pissed off, and waiting to get into a room in the cardiac care unit.  As it turns out he did not have a heart attack but congestive heart failure and severe anemia.  For 81 years my father-in-law has managed to avoid being hospitalized and he was pretty ticked off that his streak was broken.  But had he not been coerced into going to the minor emergicare clinic by my sister-in-law and then having control over the issue taken from him by the clinic staff, who called the ambulance… well, he might not be with us right now.  He was in pretty bad shape. 

My father-in-law is the lynchpin of the family.  I shudder to think what will happen when it finally does happen.  I would not be surprised to see the siblings bickering.  The family business will probably collapse.  Of course it’s a monster he’s created himself, making most of his kids dependent on him, and at 81 it’s getting harder to feed that monster. 

My husband and I stayed a couple of days, and we got a taste of what life would be like without his dad.  It was a little bit chaotic, like a ship without a rudder.  I am glad my husband chose to stay out of the family business, let me tell you. 

Lesson learned here:  it can always be worse. 

— Mox

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the view from my front window

If your answer is “trapped at home, no school today” then ding ding ding you are correct. 

They cancelled school at 5:15 this morning, before the first flake ever fell.  I was beginning to doubt that wisdom around 8:00, when nothing had materialized.  By 8:15, however, it was snowing at a pretty good clip and it hasn’t stopped.  Looks to be about 3″ so far, judging from my eyeballing the patio table.  Cursory examination of local radar shows that it won’t quit any time soon, either. 

My feelings on this sort of thing are well-documented. 

So far I have made a pot of soup and am considering cookies.  Or brownies.  Or a cake.  Something sweet and warm.  By the time this winter is over I’m going to be as broad as I am tall. 

Spawn hasn’t made a peep about going outside to play in this stuff.  If that doesn’t tell you how winter-weary we are around here, nothing will.  And we still have February to go! 

— Mox

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Northwest Territories, Canada, about a year ago.  Air temp:  -22°. 

It’s nowhere near -22° here and if it were I wouldn’t be standing around outside performing this little trick, despite how amazed Spawn would be.  If it were -22° here I’d never get out of bed.  I mean, what would be the point?  As it is, I have enough to deal with trying to keep the outside cats’ water bowl filled and flowing with our measly little barely-below-freezing air temps.  Minus 22°?  Without even factoring in wind chill?  Nope.  I am as far north as I ever intend to live. 

That said, we are expecting another 3-6″ of snow sometime tomorrow.  At this rate the kids won’t learn anything until sometime in March.  I know that those of you in snowier climes are all “pfft” about 3-6″ of snow, but around here school gets cancelled for much less.  Hell, they’d cancel for a heavy frost if it made the roads a little slick.  We’re just not equipped to deal with it, mentally, emotionally, or mechanically. 

I was okay with the snow we had for Christmas, which is the one time per year that I actually want snow.  Once Christmas was over I was ready for the return of 70° and sunny.  Just sayin’. 

For about nine months out of the year the weather here is good, but for some reason the other three months (during which the weather is mostly crap) seem so much longer. 

— Mox

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Spawn turned 10 over the weekend. 

As is my nature, I spent some quiet time in reflection over the past ten years.  Namely, wondering where they all went.  Who in the hell was I at 33?  I’m certainly not that same person today. 

Spawn amazes and exhausts me, much in the same way my husband amazes and exhausts me.  Often I wonder if maybe I’m the one who’s a little out of step with the world.  At ten years of age, Spawn has demonstrated a capacity for compassion that I have only recently grown into myself.  Instead of birthday gifts, this year Spawn asked party invitees to bring gifts for the local animal rescue group that we volunteer for.  Spawn has great gifts and passions, and most of them revolve around animals, and I am continually amazed at what goes through that noggin when it comes to helpless little critters.  “Mom, if someone mistreats an animal, they might mistreat a kid.  And animals can’t talk for themselves.  Animals and kids are sometimes kinda like the same.” 

Indeed.  Indeed. 

Couple of things happened over the weekend that sort of made me weepy.  I’m normally not much on the weepy, so it took me by surprise.   

First off, I was at the local Walmart, finishing up some last minute birthday stuff, and behind me in the checkout line was a young couple and their small child.  He was talking to the cashier as I gathered up my things to leave, and I heard him tell her, “I’m four years old!  I used to be three and now I’m four!”  And it cut me like a knife, how quickly I was just there.  I walked out of Walmart with tears in my eyes. 

Secondly, I attended a baby shower for a cousin on Sunday.  The very last gift was a small step-stool that the mother-to-be had used as a child at her grandmother’s house.  We all burst into tears.  Her grandmother was my dad’s oldest sister and my aunt, and it pointed up how keenly we still feel her loss.  I wish that Spawn were able to remember her. 

I look back at the path I’ve traveled over the past ten years and oh, how I wish I could go back.  Some things I would change, and some things I would savor.  Oh, the things I would change.  Oh, the things I would savor. 

I don’t know if it’s the never-ceasing events of the past couple of months, or if it’s my annual bout of seasonal depression, but emotionally I am wrung out. 

— Mox

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