5 days of nuggets: Day five: SHORT AND SWEET.

6 Sep

Talking with a group last fall, not long after Sweet Chuck was born, a fellow mom said “Long hair is so much more versatile than short hair.  You can put it up or leave it down!  Everyone cuts their hair short when they have kids, but not me.”

This is a friend of mine, so I knew she just wasn’t realizing that I, who had short hair, was sitting directly beside her.  When my presence and shortness of hair occurred to her, she added, “Yours looks great though, Jaime.”

It was then that I thought perhaps I should grow my hair out.  But over the past year of enduring my hair’s length, I was reminded of things I’d forgotten:

  • Wearing a ponytail constantly is not cute.  It is the coif equivalent of sweatpants.
  • A headache recurs around 4pm everyday from wearing hair in said constant ponytail.
  • Postpartum shedding is about five times worse with long hair.
  • My wispy hair in the front of my face tickles my nose and gets in my eyes with impunity, even when my hair is in the aforementioned constant ponytail.

I started to get glimpses of myself in shop window reflections or mirrors across the room, and I didn’t like what I saw.  And what did I see, exactly? A frumpy, lackluster woman with a baby dribbling off her hip and a preschooler running circles around her legs while the words “no” and “stop that” and “don’t touch that” poured endlessly forth from her lips.

Could I change the dribbling baby, the insane preschooler, or that endless river of negative words?  Probably not.

But I could get my sassy hair back.  And that’s exactly what I did.

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5 days of nuggets: Day four: EASIER THAN PARENTING.

5 Sep

I recently added to the mayhem around here by tiling our new kitchen’s backsplash.  I wouldn’t have done it myself if I hadn’t been graciously assisted by a little clutch of girlfriends – all fellow moms – who have each done some time tiling in their own homes.  At first I felt a bit rotten asking them to help me, but they all answered yes without hesitation, arguing that a day’s worth of hard manual labor was easier than parenting.  Touché.

Easier than parenting.

Me and friends not parenting for a day. 


5 days of nuggets: Day three: THEY WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF CHEERIOS.

4 Sep
Snack happens.

Snack happens.

5 days of nuggets: Day two: RUINING IT FOR THE REST OF US.

3 Sep
First day of school.

First day of school.

There’s an old Saturday Night Live sketch that parodies a round-table talk show, and it’s called “Ruining It For The Rest of Us,” wherein a moderator asks several guests to describe how they ruined some part of everyday life for the rest of mankind.  One man arbitrarily puts razor blades in Halloween candy.  Another man uses a store’s private restroom only to pee all over the walls, the mirror, everywhere, just for fun.

Is this clear as mud? I couldn’t find the sketch anywhere to show you. Sorry.

The punchline is this: I believe the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in San Luis Obispo will forevermore prohibit three-year-old boys from peeing in its restroom because of Seabass.

The untamed Seabass has only recently learned how to recognize the onset of urination and defecation.  On Monday afternoon, he felt the urge while in the produce section and alerted Mama, who – with Sweet Chuck strapped to her chest and a handful of eggplant – scampered with him to the bathroom to make it all happen.

After one glance at the adult-sized potty, Seabass announced confidently that he wanted to pee standing up. For the first time.

Now, I don’t know how the male apparatus functions in such a situation.  I mean, I know that guys stand up to pee, but does it come out straight? Sideways? Up and to the left?

Bingo.  In this case, up and to the left.

Oh, AND EVERYWHERE ELSE.  It was like the freaking Fourth of July in there.  What else could I do but run for cover?

We will not be peeing standing up for at least another couple inches’ height, for everyone’s sake.

5 days of nuggets. Day one: THIS IS LOVE

2 Sep


This is the branch of kangaroo paw that Seabass found on a recent bike ride and insisted on planting in the back yard.  How much does he have Daddy wrapped around his little finger? Daddy not only dug a hole, inserted the branch, covered it up and watered it – he also gave it a sturdy stick to lean on and introduced Seabass to the myriad seductions of duct tape.  Now that, my friends, is love.

Sweet Chuck has Dracula disease.

21 Aug

So…for whatever reason, our sweet baby girl got her bottom two teeth and her top two canines first.  Can’t picture it? Here’s what that looks like:

Our little Jack-o-Lantern.

Feel free to really zoom in here.

When she smiles at me like that, I just can’t keep from laughing.  I’m sorry, precious Sweet Chuck.  You look completely ridiculous, even as you look completely adorable.

Why are her teeth growing in all wonky like that?!?  Nervous that this might be a permanent condition – Dracula disease – I asked her pediatrician if there are, in fact, teeth up there ready to come out.

“Oh yeah,” she said, peering in with a little flashlight and tongue depressor. “They’re there.  They’re just taking their time.”

Once she reassured me that Sweet Chuck won’t look like a jack-o-lantern forever, I started to kind of hope that the teeth don’t come in for another couple of months, because, well…




Scene involving excrement from a recent swim lesson.

20 Aug

Lo and behold, Seabass is using the potty.  And it was all his idea, just like you said it would be.  Thanks for keeping the hope alive, friends.  I gotta say, it’s been awfully nice to hear him scurry to the bathroom and potty on his own while I’m cooking dinner or nursing Sweet Chuck, as though he’s done it all along.

Navigating summertime pool fun with his new-found love for underwear and le potty has been tricky, though.  Questions arise like “Why don’t I need to wear underwear in the pool?” and “What do I do if I need to poop when I’m in the pool?”  You’d be surprised how difficult it is to explain these mores to a young human.

And clearly I haven’t done a very good job, as evidenced by the following scene from a recent swim lesson.  Keep in mind we were surrounded by gobs of parents/kids.

Me: [dripping wet, holding Sweet Chuck in one arm while wrapping a towel around Seabass with the other]: So, sweetie?  How was your swim lesson?

Seabass: Good! [now yelling] MAMA I PEED IN THE POOL!!! I DIDN’T POOP, BUT I PEED!! IN THE POOL!!!

If he peed in the pool, what, oh what, are they bathing in?!?

If he peed in the pool, what, oh what, are they “bathing” in?!?

Confidence and poise, that’s me.

5 Aug

Once upon a time, I really enjoyed driving, but that era had long since past.  In this particular moment, all I could do was try to breathe and tell myself over and over again, “You’re okay.  You’re okay.  You’re okay.”

I was driving down a 7,000-foot-high mountain with Sweet Chuck and Seabass in the back seat after a week at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Uncomfortable turns and sheer drops off the right shoulder had me more than a little anxious. Since my early 20s, I haven’t been able to handle heights or grand vistas like the ones I was seeing through the passenger’s side window.  But who else could take the wheel? Jake was home remodeling our kitchen by himself.  We were in Southern California to get out of his hair.

To complicate matters further, my driver’s side mirror was gone – smashed to itty bitty bits in the middle of the night by a hit-and-run driver – and Grandma and Grandpa had been nervous for our safety.  So, just before we left their house that morning, this happened.

So much better.

MacGuyver, eat your heart out.

On one particularly hairy turn down the mountain, my palms started to sweat.  “You’re okay, you’re okay,” I muttered to myself.  Sweet Chuck started scratching at her ears, which were no doubt popping from the effects of a steep descent.  “You’re okay, you’re okay.”  And then Seabass started whimpering, I thought out of fear because his mommy sounded loony.

“My back hurts!” he mewed.  “When you twisty turny on the road, my back hurts!”

“I’ll try to take the turns as gently as I can, sweet boy,” I replied. But it was no use.  The next thing I knew, guttural barfing noises emerged from the back seat.

If it wasn’t for the godsend of a turnout on the side of the road that very instant, I would have had hot Seabass chunder all over the inside of my van, which, more importantly, may have wound up at the bottom of a canyon due to driver instability.  But I flew into action at the sound of vomit and made the turnout just in time to catch Seabass’ honk with a plastic bag.

I’ve only ever seen Seabass barf once before, thankfully.  This time, I marveled at how slowly yet forcefully it came out.  It reminded me of those underwater volcano videos we used to watch in science class.

Poor little boy.  He was pretty well shaken by the whole experience, and Sweet Chuck’s crying couldn’t have helped settle his nerves.  I stroked his little back and kissed his head.  And what do you know? Not three minutes after I’d removed the barf and wiped the corners of his mouth, he was asking for something to eat and requesting The Incredibles in the DVD player.  Before long, we were down the mountain and both kids were happily in their own little worlds.

We made it to Santa Barbara in three hours, fifteen minutes – a record by all accounts! – and decided to visit the darling Santa Barbara Zoo for a peak at the animals, a train ride, and lunch on the lawn.  I strapped Sweet Chuck into the Ergo and Seabass chirped excitedly alongside me, holding my hand.  The weather was pristine and the animals even seemed happier than usual.  Despite a rocky start, I was officially having a good day.

We eventually made it up the hill to the Zoo Cafe, where a long line of hungry people snaked around the building.  We took up residence behind a vacationing Indian family of about two dozen members, each of whom wanted a quesadilla.  You would think that an order for a billion quesadillas would go pretty quickly, but each of them ordered and paid individually.  I feared for the happy attitudes of my children, but Sweet Chuck gummed the strap of the baby carrier contentedly, and Seabass stood quietly in line.  It was as though they’d been drugged.

We finally made our order and picked up our food, bringing it over to the lawn where both kids could roll around and eat without greasing anything or anyone up.  Sweet Chuck had just started crawling, so she was scooting to her heart’s content, and Seabass made friends with the Indian boys while munching on his PB&J.  I was even able to eat a salad without answering Seabass’ machine gunfire-style questions about life, or keeping all food and sharp dining implements out of Sweet Chuck’s reach.  It felt like life was happening.  I felt like I’d finally found my groove.  You never would have guessed that my car sported a sagging bumper and a duct-taped side mirror, or that I’d nearly had an anxiety attack that morning, or that my son had ralphed nineteen pounds of oatmeal into a Stater Brothers bag just hours before.

“Excuse me?” I swiveled to see a family seated nearby, the mother smiling at me.  “How old are your children?” she asked.

“The baby is ten months today, and my son is three,” I answered.

“Wow,” she gasped, looking at the man next to her.  “I was just telling my husband that you are my inspiration.  I can’t imagine bringing my two kids to the zoo alone.  You look like such a natural mother. No, really! I’m jealous of your confidence and poise.”

Now, I want you to take a moment and think back on what you know of me.  Think back on the posts this blog has featured. The hair-tearing.  The sackcloth-wearing.  The gnashing of teeth.

Now imagine someone attributing the above words to me.  TO ME.  I was awestruck, dumbfounded and speechless, just like you are right now.  That’s why I started to laugh.  And not in a cute, self-deprecating way.  More like in a sort of creepy way.

“Well,” I choked, “that is A MIRACLE.  Really, you have no idea how funny that is to me. But thank you.”

Here was a lesson I needed to learn right then and there: looks are deceiving.  Sure, you hear those words all the time, but that’s usually from the outside looking in.  This time, I was on the inside looking out, appearing to have my ducks in a row and the world on a string. It was my moment to learn that everything is not as it seems. That woman you think has it all?   Who drives the nice car and whose kids have clean faces and who smiles a lot? She might be dying a slow death inside.  Or she may have just been breathing into a paper bag in the ladies’ restroom.  You just don’t know.

I give you this. I give you that.

31 Jul

We vacationed in Idaho with my parents for a week this summer, and all was as it should have been.  We swam in the lake, we barbecued every day, we watched movies, we zoomed to and fro in Oompa’s boat, and we lounged around a fire pit with marshmallows on long sticks. I even caught a couple fish.

The day after we returned, I got a text message from my mom asking that I call her.  When I did, she announced that she had a tumor in her breast and that she was having it biopsied that week.  The results came back that she had a 6-centimeter cancerous tumor, and her choice was to start chemo right away to shrink it before surgery.  In a matter of just two weeks, she had been diagnosed, tested from here to kingdom come, given percentages of likelihood that the cancer would come back in ten years, and begun chemotherapy, with my dad as nurse.

God, I give you my mom.

We are in the midst of a massive kitchen remodel in which Jake has orchestrated and performed nearly every bit of the work himself.  The results are stunning – this will truly be a cook’s kitchen, and perhaps the largest room in our house! – but the process is slow, tedious, and uncomfortable.   It is also all-consuming for Jake.  Me and the kids have had to stay out of his way while he does what needs doing, and even when he has been physically present, his mind has been elsewhere…or just dog-tired.  We are using the mini kitchen in our travel trailer, which thank God we have, and is parked in the driveway.

God, I give you my home.  I give you my marriage. 

And because it’s parked in the driveway, our minivan and truck have been parked on the street….where they keep getting hit by negligent drivers.  We’re talking six collisions in just two years, with compensation for damages on only two of them.  Jake also hit a deer recently.  He couldn’t tell if the truck was damaged due to the existing damage.

God, I give you our cars.

While we were in Idaho I received a call from my doctor saying she wanted me to arrange an appointment to discuss some recent blood work.  When I met with her, she shared that my thyroid numbers are in the toilet and that my kidneys appear to be suffering.  Thyroid problems can be triggered by childbirth, she said, and since I have a history of thyroid dysfunction in my family, it stands to reason that I will need to be on medication the rest of my life.  Thyroid problems can also contribute to depression.

God, I give you my health.

Seabass is three years old.  Who knew this age would be so trying?  I remember holding him as a screaming, back-arching baby and thinking I can’t wait until he’s THREE. But now THREE is here and I almost can’t handle it.  He’s willful, disobedient, and pretty outrageously annoying at times.  He baby talks.  He yells.  He kicks.  He has to know everything about everything and nothing gets past him. And then there’s Sweet Chuck, whose teeth are coming in all at once, and who’s sick and fussy and who needs MAMA AND ONLY MAMA ALL OF THE TIME.

God, I give you my children.

And then there are all the ideas, all the projects I want to complete in this life that feel like they’ll never get done – not even started.  Sometimes these projects are as ambitious as writing a book.  Other times, these projects are as simple as washing the dishes.  I had promise, at one time.  Does promise have an expiration date?

God, I give you my career and my ambitions.

I put on such a good show sometimes, acting like I’m fine!  Everything’s good!  Look at me go!  But this life is unmanageable for me.  The truth is cancer happens.  Remodels and discomfort happen.  Husbands are preoccupied. Cars get hit. Thyroids stop working. Kids irritate. And dreams get shelved.

But when I can’t accept the truth, I need to be able to put it somewhere.  So God, take it all.  Amen.

Addendum to the potty training post.

11 Jul
I'm going right now.

I’m going right now.

So, yesterday I posted about Seabass and his lack of potty skills.  About an hour after the post published, I took him over to my friend Amy’s house to play with her daughters while I took our stupid minivan to the mechanic (as if I need another reason to hate it).  Anyway, when I returned to pick Seabass up, Amy relayed that when she offered him snack, water, or access to the potty, he said, gravely, “I don’t do that.”

Meaning he doesn’t use the potty.  She said it was almost as if she had offered him a bong.  I DON’T DO THAT.