Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Story: If You Need a Good Laugh

I have been in desperate need of a good laugh after the last several weeks, thanks to Maleficent and my poor exwife-bullshit-coping skills.
This email was from Stepmom #2 did just the trick...

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the rum. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.
The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.


I'd like to wish that Maleficent would be my Christmas Angel, if only for one moment.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Communication Roadblock

Cinderella comes home with a note last night from school.
She has a MANDATORY choral concert next Monday. It counts as a test grade for her class.
Mondays are Maleficent's visitation days, so the onus will be on her to take Cinderella.
With her recent claims of health issues and excuses of not being able to drive her daughter anywhere, we are concerned over Maleficent's ability to come through.
(Maleficent bailed out on bringing Cindy to drama rehearsals last week.)
Prince Charming tries calling Maleficent to give her the courtesy of as much of a heads up as possible.
Diablo answers the phone. He has taken to running interference, going so far as to call the house for Maleficent when she wants to talk to Cinderella and answering the phone whenever Cinderella calls there... just in case.
Diablo refuses to give the phone to Maleficent, instructs Prince Charming to communicate in email and tells him "I pay the phone bill here, so don't call again."
The rest of the call was a blur, but it ended badly. Threats were made, names were called, Diablo hung up.
Prince Charming regrettably allowed Diablo to pull him down to his level.
Diablo is trying to protect his lady love. I get that.
But he has no business putting himself in the middle of a pre-existing court order designed to facilitate ongoing communication between Cinderella's parents.
They have enough trouble on their own, they don't need a macho bully fanning the fires.

Monday, December 1, 2008

In Which Maleficent Sinks To a New Low

It wasn't too long ago that I had extended a helping hand to Maleficent by driving Cinderella to her house. And that wasn't the first time I helped her out in that department either.

So why where we surprised when Maleficent did not take that into consideration when she recently was LATE dropping Cinderella off at the farm where we volunteer (an activity she does not let Cinderella participate in), leaving me WAITING in the car in the DARK and COLD with Hansel & Gretel and then REFUSED to bring Cindy home when I had to GO HOME TO COOK DINNER.
I called Prince Charming before I left, to let him know what was going on and that I needed to leave.
No problem, I will call Maleficent and ask her to take Cinderella home instead.
That did NOT happen.
Instead, Maleficent called him SCREAMING that HE would now have to come to HER HOUSE if he wanted Cinderella.
Then proceeded to hang up on him and turn OFF her phone.
The hostility and anger she felt from that night was offloaded on Cinderella for the entire time as the child sat waiting to see what would happen. Not knowing if she would be stuck spending the night at her Mom's or if her Dad would come to rescue her.
He did. And she was brought safely home.
It doesn't end there though.
(Does it ever?)
Maleficent's spitefulness reared it's ugly head a week later when Prince Charming asked if Cinderella could be allowed to come to Gretel's third birthday party. A party that was unavoidably taking place during Maleficent's weekend.
(In years past, we have always planned family celebrations for weekends when Cinderella was HOME, but this year we could not.)
(Not that it should matter, for during the sumer Maleficent was in the SAME situation with her parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary that was scheduled for a weekend Cinderella was home with us. Prince Charming was happy to allow Cinderella to go to that party, WITHOUT asking to make up for the time. It was a family celebration, afterall.)
Cinderella asked her Mom if she could come to her sister's party. Maleficent refused.
Prince Charming then asked and was told Maleficent had special plans for Cinderella that day which Cindy was quite excited about.
Oh yes, those must have been tears of JOY we saw on Cinderella's face.
In the end, Cinderella missed out on the only celebration we had for Gretel and seeing her family in exchange for going to a CRAFT STORE with her mother.
And here I thought she couldn't get any lower.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Count to Three



Three years ago today, I became the mother to a daughter.

Happy Birthday, Stinkerbell.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recycled Christmas Crafts: Ornaments

I've discovered a fun new way to fuel my passion with handmade crafts. Recycled Christmas ornaments!
No, not antique, re-gifted or one-man's-trash-is-another-man's-treasure "Hey look what I found in the dumpster!" sort of recylced.
But a way to find NEW uses for those things that seemed to have fulfilled their only purpose.
For the past few years those things have been light bulbs and baby food jars.
(I can't believe I haven't blogged about these before, as least I don't think I have as I can't seem to find the pages ANYWHERE but if I am repeating myself forgive me for I know not what I do. Having babies makes your brains fall out.)
(Back to the ornaments!)
They're fun, easy and best of all CHEAP & oh-so GREEN!
The internetz is full of ideas and patterns. With a little searching you're sure to find a project you can do, or become inspired to make up one of your own.
PAY ATTENTION 'cuz I am about to divulge all of my secrets to you.

Last year, inspired by my daughter's love of all things Mumble, I made this Penguin ornament:


I adapted and simplified the pattern from several other penguin light bulb ornaments I found online. The only materials needed were the paints and toddler socks which were used for the hats. (Trimmed, cuffed over and hot glued into place then tied off with the silver rope ribbing.) I make and give ornaments as gifts every year to family and friends, and since socks come in so many different colors, each of these little guys was able to get his own color/patterned hat!

The year before I had an infant who was making her way into solid foods. I had baby food coming out of my EARS! Literally and figuratively. So I found a way to re-use the jars and made these tealight ornaments:


I made this one up as I went along. Basic instructions can be found at the bottom of this post. Oh yeah, and I still have BOXES of these jars stored in my sunroom thanks to donations from the Moms in my daughter's playgroup so... yeah, there WILL be more baby food jar ornaments for years to come.

And this is the bugger that started it all, in 2004.



Instructions for The Grinch light bulb ornament can be found here. All I have to say about this is THANK GAWD for tracing paper! This was the most involved of all the paint jobs I have ever done. But totally worth it.

Baby Food Jar Snowman Ornament/Tea Light Holder

Start with a clean stage 1 baby food far (label removed).
Cover it with the paint-on snow. Apply it thick and sloppy to give it texture.
Let dry overnight.
Meanwhile... make little carrot noses out of orange molding clay (bake according to package directions).
Next day, use black dimensional fabric paint to dot on eyes and mouth and use a dab of hot-glue to attach the nose.
Wrap soldering wire around top of the jar and bend into hanger.
Hot glue black velvet ribbon around the top.
Drop in a battery-operated tea light. Hang on tree, place on your mantel or shelf and enjoy! We always put ours on tree first, then keep it out as Winter decoration once the tree is tossed.
(Note: We tried using a real tea light but the wire hanger gets VERY hot.)

Who says it's not easy being green?
As for this year, you'll just have to wait and see.
(Mostly because I have no idea what I will be making yet.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bliss





May they always be this ignorant to the troubles and turmoils of the life around them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Custody & Visitation: Kids Are People Too

Why does Mommy get all of the holidays?
"Because that's what the court papers say, babe."

Three years ago, when Maleficent lost custody she had written into the visitation stipulation that she be able to spend every school holiday with Cinderella.
Every one. From 11am to 5pm.
Until this year, it never posed that much of a problem. There were a few times when my plans had to be altered to make sure I was home for her pick up/drop off, but that's the way it goes. I made the compromise to adhere to what seemed to be in Cinderella's best interests.
This year, however, things are different.
Cinderella is getting older and finding her voice. She wants to participate in the decisions surrounding her days off.
Like expressing a wish to volunteer at a local farm to come on school holidays to care for their chickens.
Twice a day. Morning and evening.
Cinderella was especially excited to be part of this. (We always fantasize of the day when we own our own home that will be big enough to have chickens and horses and sheep! Oh my!)
There was just one problem. Chickens need to be tucked in at DUSK.
Dusk comes earlier now thanks to Daylight Savings. Right at the time Cinderella comes home from visiting Maleficent.
Not wanting to exclude her from his activity, and not really thinking it would be a problem, Prince Charming contacted Maleficent. We posed a COMPROMISE of allowing Cinderella to CHOOSE to stay home SOME holidays so she didn't miss out on this.
Maleficent outright refused and accused Prince Charming of making these plans to purposely spite her out of time with their daughter.
Step in the Rational One.
Moi.
I contacted Maleficent to smooth things out a bit. Explain it was my doing and that I was unclear as to the actual wording of the court document and misunderstood that holidays were an absolute RIGHT and not an option open to compromise. (A concept that has historically proven lost on her.)
She changed her tune and seemed willing to work with me.
If you want ... can you and I keep in touch on this and then if you need me to bring Cinderella home early so she can go with you, I can do that. It's no problem.
GREAT! Right?
Wrong.
Monday morning, I realize tomorrow is Election Day. A school holiday. We need to be at the farm by 4:30. That's 30 minutes before the time Cinderella is supposed to be home.
I call Maleficent and leave her a voicemail, per our agreement. I asked her if she wanted to drop Cinderella off at home at 4pm (only an HOUR early) or just meet us at the farm at her regular drop off time of 5pm. I know from past experience that she responds better if she feels she has some control over the situation. So I gave her a CHOICE.
Still, I suspected that she would not like either.
And when I received the call from Prince Charming a few hours later I knew from his tone of voice that I was right.
If Maleficent was going to lose an hour with Cinderella because of this activity (which Cinderella WANTED TO DO) then Maleficent wanted to make up that time on another day.
In light of recent events, Cinderella does not want to spend extra time with her Mom. She is beginning to see her for who she really is. And she does not like it one bit.
Prince Charming could not consciously place his daughter into that situation.
Emails were sent. Accusations were flung at us.
Prince Charming and I spent ALL DAY Monday either in email with or talking about this woman.
Such a waste of a day and of our energy.
We put up a good fight on Cinderella's behalf. I apologized to Maleficent in an effort to smooth things over.
In the end, she chose NOT to bring Cinderella home and decided to communicate that THROUGH her daughter. Using her as the messenger to notify us that she had changed her mind from the earlier emails in which she agreed to the request for the early drop off.
We went to the farm without her.
And waited in the dark for her to be dropped off (and she was LATE, too).
Sooner or later Maleficent is going to have to realize that Cinderella is a person too.
That she is not a piece of property and has a RIGHT to CHOOSE what she does with her time. Cinderella sas a right to voice her opinion. And to be HEARD.
That's it not about what Maleficent wants.
Or about what Prince Charming or I want.
It's about Cinderella.

Monday, November 3, 2008

There's a Fine Line Between Fairytales and Nightmares...

... and thanks to Maleficent, we are being reminded of that. Again.
What's happening now?
What's happening is that Cinderella's friend narc'd on her after a DARE event at school. Concerned over the fact that C had been "scratching" herself, she sought help in the Guidance Office.
Cinderella was called in and promptly broke down into tears in front of her Guidance Counselor and Social Worker. She told them her tale of woe being a child of divorce.
There is nothing unique about her story.
Parents divorce. And oftentimes they don't handle it well, focusing on their own problems and losses (especially when mental illness plays such a major role).
Kids get caught in the middle. Blame themselves, grieve and try to keep the peace by internalizing EVERYTHING.
Sooner or later all of that stress has to come out.
It's starting to come out now in Cinderella and an observant friend took note.
She scratched her arm in frustration. It's no big deal now, but we know it could turn into something worse.
It's been three years since the Maleficent lost custody.
Three years since PrinceCharing was advised by the law guardian to violate the shit out of her when she crossed the line (which we ALL knew she would do).
And she has. Yet instead of adding fuel to her bipolar-fanned fires, we looked the other way and offered compromises.
Well, Cinderella's well-being is now compromised.
The Law Guardian has been called.
Maleficent has NOT been called. Yet.
We are trying to buy Cinderella a little bit of calm before the shit-storm. If her Mom gets tipped off, it will only spell doom for her and this kid has been through enough.
In the meantime, we're looking for a therapist for Cinderella all-the-while reassuring her that we will do our best to make things better and protect her from continued distress. (Which is a double-edged sword because she is worried that our attempts to make things better will make things worse. And that very-well may be the case.)
PrinceCharming is back to compiling details and facts, taking notes and saving EVERY email. Planning his next steps which will include filing paperwork and going back to court.

And I'm remembering to breathe through it all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I See The Bad Moon Rising

A one hour phone call with Cinderella's school.

Concerns over her (reported) behavior by a worried friend.

Social Worker and Guidance Counselor called in.

She confirms. Cries in their office as she explains the stress of her parents' troubled relationship and her mother's subsequent (and contributory) behavior.

This is Maleficent's visitation weekend. PrinceCharming is FLOORED and en route to Cinderella's school to try and provide some reassurance before she heads off to god-knows-what this weekend.

He is torn between wanting to swoop in to protect his daughter from further pain while following the legal constraints of the custody agreement.

I don't know what will happen from here. But I see trouble on the way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

What Qualifies As Meaningful Conversation?

"Babe, did you call Mommy yet?"

Suddenly, her shoulders slump. Her face frowns.
She hangs her head down as she walks shuffles over to the phone. Sulking.
The signs are everywhere.
Moments before, she asked if she could go to bed 30 minutes early and read until her bedtime.
She only does that when she is avoiding something.
Cinderella does NOT want to talk to her Mom tonight and now I was forcing her. And because she has not yet found her voice she could not refuse my suggestion.
Her conversation is short and characterized by one-word answers to her mother's interrogation about her play rehearsal schedule.
(This week marks the beginning of rehearsals. One of them has cut into Maleficent's visitation for that day. She was quite displeased by this and had bitched to Cinderella the night before over how she hoped all of her rehearsals don't fall on her days. She apparently can talk about nothing else at the moment.)
The custody agreement states that if Cinderella has not had a "meaningful telephone conversation" every night with the other parent, then it's up to Prince Charming or Maleficent to make sure that happens.
But... what qualifies as meaningful conversation?
I'm pretty sure it dos NOT mean instilling guilt in your child for pursuing an activity that they love.
For being so selfish as to look at it ONLY in terms of how it  affects YOU and your time with said child and for making them think that it's THEIR fault that you are so miserable and unhappy.
I'll be damned if I'm going to forcibly place Cinderella in that kind of phone call.
She is twelve years old. If she wants to call her mother, she can choose to do so.
If not. Then Maleficent can suckit.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Powder Coat

Gretel got into the baby powder the other day.

That is all.

(If you need more, you can click here to SEE the results of said ecapades.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Here We Go Again

I don't know where to begin.
It's been five months in the making.
Five months since we found out Cinderella has three...THREE!!!!!... cavities.
Five months since we ponied up $400 for the dentist appointment that told us she had THREE cavities.
Five months since being told, AFTER we bent over and let the dentist stick it to us for $400, that Maleficent WOULD NOT BE PAYING her half of that bill.
Oh I'm sick and not working and can't afford it.
(Gee, ya think she would have mentioned that for the MONTHS leading up to that appointment?)
For five months Maleficent has been crying poverty, and unilaterally saying that she won't be able to pay her COURT ORDERED share of Cinderella's dental bill.
And yet for the same five months she has come up with a magical solution where she CAN pay another dentist to have said cavities filled.
She CAN work out a payment plan to pay this dentist.
Her dentist. Cinderella's OLD dentist.
But she CAN'T figure out a payment plan for PrinceCharming.
(Which could have worked out to $50 a month and would be payed off BY NOW.)
And she WON'T accept our saying that we CAN'T afford to absorb her half of the prior bill and that we were counting on that so that we CAN move forward and have Cinderella's cavities filled.
Instead she spent this time instilling fear into Cinderella with constant talks of how she will need root canal if her cavities are not filled and so she needs to tell her Dad and I that her TEETH HURT even though they don't but DO IT SO THEY CAN MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR YOU!!!!!!
The child was in tears as she confessed her Mom's covert op to us.
(We're so proud of her, BTW, for choosing NOT to lie to us about her teeth hurting just because her Mom told her to.)

So... now... we are back to one-sided communication.
Her refusing to answer or return calls.
Feigning illness as an excuse to return to email only communication.
Yet she is well enough to leave a threatening voice mail on Prince Charming's voice mail.
And now... tonight... an email threatening to violate him in court if a dentist appointment is not made by this Wednesday.

Shit-stirring bitch. She's at it again.
I am not sure I have the strength to another round.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Start of an Obsession

I've joined the Bento Box bandwagon.

Today I packed my first two for Hansel (1st Grade) ...


... and Cinderella (7th Grade). 



Aren't they cute?

[Edited to add: I picked these and their accessories up at www.ichibankanusa.com and www.JBox.com. I've been told that eBay is also a good place to look.]

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How We Spent The Holiday


The kids and I are volunteering at a local farm that offers a farm-based education program. Our job is to care for their pasture-fed chickens on school holidays. Volunteers get to keep any eggs found in the coop, as well as bring home some herbs from their gardens. 

We've found one egg each day. 

Yesterday's egg was still warm.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And I Didn't Have a Piece



But I did lick the bowl(s) while I was baking it.

My first EVAH commissioned cake. Baked for my BFF's 4 year old niece.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old Skool Technology

Soccer practice.

Drama Rehearsals.

Volunteering at the local farm to care for their pasture-fed chickens.

PTA Meetings.

Belly dancing.

Birthday parties.

Chairing 1st Grade Activity Night at Hansel's school.

Cinderella's visitation schedule with Maleficent.


My calendar is quickly filling up! HALP! 
I don't know how Blackberry and Palm users can keep track of your schedules on such a tiny hand held.

So yesterday, I gave technology the snub, went old skool and purchased a Day Runner!
I might be a former dot com goddess, but I'm still a pen and paper whore.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I DEMAND a Refund!


My darling 12 y/o stepdaughter, Cinderella, now wears a bigger bra than me.





It's. Not. FAIR.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finding Common Ground REDUX

I had a lovely conversation with Maleficent a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, that's right... LOVELY.
(And yes, that's right a couple of WEEKS ago. We don't talk every day. We are not BFFs, but on those rare occasions when we do have to speak I try my damnedest to make it pleasant.)
It started with me apologizing for Cinderella being dropped off late from camp.
It wasn't my fault, of course. It was Prince Charming's. He picked up the kids and forgot it was Maleficent's visitation day, so wound up getting Cinderella to her Mom's an hour late.
Oh, it's fine. I was starting to get worried at first but then figured it *had* to be just that Prince Charming was dropping her off. And I know how he's always late.
He is our (sometimes) neutral ground. Just another tie that bonds us, as it were.
Ex Wife. Current Wife.
We have both dated him, lived with him and married him. 
We know his quirks, his habits - the good, the bad and the ugly.
And, during the course of this conversation, learned that we both developed the EXACT SAME tricks to deal with his idiosyncrasies. 
"OHMYGOD, you do that too? What about ...??"
Yep, done it all.
When we are able to share a laugh at my husband's expense, it breaks the tension.

Thanks, hon!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Breakfast...

***UPDATED TO ADD***
Track my progress for the next 21 days through my Utterz (located on the right column of this blog).




And lunch.
And dinner.
For the next 21 days.

That's TEN PILLS THREE TIMES A DAY PEOPLE!!!!!
Taken with the MONDO >20oz shake.

No caffeine. No dairy. No alcohol.
Organic fresh fruit and veggies. Lean protein.

Today marks the first day of my 21-day cleanse.



Monday, September 8, 2008

Validation

I appreciate you stepping up to the plate and getting things done for Cinderella, especially since I can't.
She can't because she's not allowed since losing custody and all parental rights.
And she can't because her current medical condition prohibits her from being as active as she once was.

I take it with a grain of salt, but recognize and appreciate the effort it must have taken Maleficent to thank me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Tween Walks Alone


This was Cinderella for a good majority of our vacation last week.
Moody. Pouty. Isolating herself from us.

Makes for a great picture, no?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Birthday-palooza 2008

In case you were wondering where I've been for the past week and a half... I've been planning a party around (and baking) this cake:



Argh.

Monday, July 28, 2008

12th Birthday: By Herself



For the first time in 9 years, I did not bake her birthday cake.

She wanted red velvet cupcakes. And she wanted to make them all by herself.

(And BOY did they ever taste like it.)

I'm so not old enough to have a teenager in the house.

Send help.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Make a Wish: 6th Birthday



I wish my baby boy would stop growing up.



He wanted a Jurassic Park birthday cake.



There is so much frosting piled on the two angel food cakes used to make the volcano. My teeth hurt just by looking at this photo.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thank You for Smoking

There is nothing worse than a reformed smoker.
I admit it. I do.
I can't stand to be within 5 miles of the nastiness.
I can smell it on your clothes, on MY clothes after I've been in your house, on your breath, even your fingers if you get too close to me.
And yes I *do* judge you.
I stand upon my soap box and lecture for hours on end the evils of your way.
Your teeth are yellow. You have premature wrinkles. You do not look cool or attractive AT ALL.
Why would you want to do that to yourself? To your family?
And GOD forbid... your kids?!?! Yes I SCREAM AT YOU FROM THE TOP OF MY LUNGS AT YOUR STUPIDITY!!!!!!!
(On the inside.)
(Except for my husband who is bad at hiding it and despite being caught and confronted years ago still refuses to officially admit his weakness to me. *Him* I will scream at OUT LOUD.)

I have recently found myself feeling the same judgment when I read some other stepmom blogs.
(No... not *your* blog silly. Someone else's blog.)
I see these Moms going through the same power struggles as I did, getting upset over the same trivial stuff and wonder WHY OH WHY! are they allowing themselves to sink down to that level?!
The whining. The justifications as to why they are BETTER than their stepkids' BioMom. The blaming of BioMom for ALL of their troubles.
I bring out my soap box again and yell at my computer screen OMG, GET OVER IT ALREADY!

And then I remember...

While I hope it is much less in frequency than it used to be, I do the same thing.
Fuck this blog was nothing but one giant BITCHFEST in the beginning.
It was is my place to vent. Safely. Without judgement.
And it's the reason I have been able to find my way and figure out how to cope with my situation with Maleficent.
I don't know if I have it figured out for good, but I've got it FOR NOW.
I eventually reached a point when I was tired of being angry all the time. Tired of laying the blame on a person whose actions I could not control.
This blog is how I was able to reach the conclusion that I cannot control Maleficent.
But I CAN control my reaction to her.
Where I became committed to making this work (l'est I become committed!)
Where I made the first steps to reach out to her.
To establish communication. Try to allow her to get to know me.
And where I stood up for myself while validating her role as Cinderella's mother.
I know I was able to do this through the support and understanding of other Stepmoms.
Those who have "been there, done that" and those who are struggling to find there way.
They You all knew that I needed to vent. That I did not need a judgmental lecture.
You listened and offered your gentle support and advice. You let me know I was not alone and that my feelings were normal and that I was doing a good job (even if I didn't think so).

So, thanks for the refreshing reminder of what it was like for me and of how far I've come.
You will get there too, one day.
You *will* get there TOO.
Be it by reaching out, detaching, or some other method that I have yet to discover.

Anyone have a light?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Unexpected Haiku

Leaking incision,

Inspection past seven months,

Starts our vacation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Step Away

Diablo is driving.
I remember the last time I spoke to Maleficent car-side I had ignored him. It wasn't intentional. I was so focused on having a pleasant conversation with Maleficent that I forgot he was even there.
Still I felt bad for my rudeness later on.
I decided that I wasn't going to do that again today.
I would be polite. Say hello or acknowledge him in some way.
He ... apparently had other plans.
Throughout my entire conversation with Maleficent he avoids eye contact.
He is looking down. Fidgeting.
"We have the DVD of Cinderella's play for you. We can give it to you later if you want."
Oh that's great. Thank you so much for copying it for me.
(Maleficent missed the play due to emergency surgery that day.)
I glance over at Diablo. He is sitting in the driver's seat looking down at his feet. At his lap. Out the window.
I try to include him in the conversation when I make the offer to drop Cinderella off at her place after summer camp.
"I have to pick up Hansel anyway and I know sometimes Diablo has your car. So it's really no trouble."
Yeah, his schedule is sometimes a bit crazy.
Maleficent glances over at Diablo but he neither makes eye contact nor offers her any acknowledgement.
He appears to be seething in anger.
He curls his lips and wipes the sides of mouth like some angry thug trying to control his temper but is teetering dangerously close to opening a can of whoop-ass on someone.
I fear that someone might be me.
Prince Charming has witnessed first-hand what *type* of guy Diablo is.
He's the kind of guy who tries to use physical intimidation when he feels threatened. Or if he suspects a loved one is being threatened.
He is the antithesis of Prince Charming using his "boxer" title to show-off and bully.
The chest-bumping finger-pointing-in-your-face kind of guy.
I have never liked that trait.
I like it even less knowing that my stepdaughter is in such close proximity to it and knowing that this guy is one step away from being her Stepfather.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Reading

Sunday is date night in the castle.
For the past several months our location of choice is the local Barnes and Noble. 
Prince Charming and I grab some books off the shelves sip coffee in the Starbucks Cafe while perusing through the pages.
I inevitably wind up coming home with a book or two. I can't help it. I love books.
(Disclaimer: I love books but I am not an avid reader. Reading puts me to sleep. *yawn*)
This summer I am determined to read at least one of the books I have purchased. 
The last summer I tried this was in 2004. The year Oprah's Book Club tackled Anna Karenina. I made it halfway through before I lost momentum.
(This was the summer we moved into the castle and the book was packed away and I just forgot about it. But I am still proud that I was able to get through half of that book.)

The current choices on  my side table are:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom.
I Love You, Ronnie (The letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

What's on your summer reading list?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The No-Hawk


Hansel wanted a mohawk for the summer.
Prince Charming and I decided to splurge and take him to one of those cutesy haircutting places for kids.
1 hour and 20 minutes later he has neither a mohawk or a fauxhawk.
I present you... the NO-hawk.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Recovery Log: Day 6 to Present

Saturday


Second verse, same as the first!
I woke up wanting to tear my skin off.
Non of the meds were working. I was tired. Itchy. Miserable.
I had become one GIANT HIVE.
(With huge boobs but who noticed.)
We called the in-laws to watch the kids and headed to the ER.
It was 11am.
The same time I had arrived home from my surgery 5 days earlier.
The same time I first noticed the red patch on my belly.
The next five hours were filled with IVs, meds and monitoring.
AND SCRATCHING.
I was pumped full of steroids, Benadryl and Pepcid. (It's not just for reflux anymore.)
At the third hour a nurse came in with a heart monitor.
We're going to give you a shot of epinephrine so your heart might race a bit.
Might?
MIGHT?
I wish I could write something funny and clever about the epinephrine but I can't.
It's not funny. I hated it. The end.
I left the E.R. at 4pm with prescriptions for Allegra, Prednisone and Pepcid.
(And no definitive answer on what caused the allergic reaction.)
I was still itchy but the original points of eruption were beginning to fade so there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
By Tuesday the hives were gone. GONE!
By Thursday I was finished taking the medications and actually dared to apply some lotion to my poor skin that is currently being stretched beyond its limits.

***
Today. Saturday June 21st 2008.
It's now a week after my E.R. trip and I am still hive free.
I still experience some residual itching which I am hoping will go away.
(Someone please tell me it will go away!)
The rest of me is doing very nicely as well.
My incisions are beginning to itch, but in a good way.
They are healing and I can now laugh, sneeze and cough without fear of jettisoning these puppies out of my chest cavity and clear across the room. 
(Though we are still going to wait another week before seeing GET SMART because that kind of laughter would surely kill me.)
(I only got as far as BALLSACK! in the special AppleTV trailer.)
I am still sleeping on my back and somewhat upright because... well, I am a baby. If I move onto my side *they* will move too. I tried it on Thursday night. And it just felt too creepy for me to sleep through it.
Today I head out to pick up some temporary undergarments because I DON'T HAVE ANY BRAS THAT FIT ME.
Temporary, you see, because right now I am swollen to the point of looking like I've been plucked out of a classic 19th Century painting with my vulgar and romanticized curves. Curves which will in time soften and leave me feeling more *natural* but until then I need a little something to support and conceal.
So off I go to fumble through the racks of bras trying to find one that will fit my rack.
Here I am. 38 years old and feeling like I am going through puberty all over again and getting my first training bra. 
And what a training bra it will be!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recovery Log: Days 4 & 5

Thursday & Friday


The rash... is HIVES!
(Though I won't officially hear that term until Day 6 after I spend 5 hours in the Emergency Room but you will have to wait for that post. Neener-neener. Sorry, canape!)
We DO know it's an allergic reaction to... something. 
And that's it's systemic. 
And migratory.
By Friday I have hives in places where hives should NEVER EVER!!! venture.
They have become bigger than my post-op swollen BOOBS at this point. Both literally and figuratively.
I wind up going to my dermatologist who believed it was something I came in CONTACT with, instead of something I ingested. But because I had been on a low does oral steroid it was difficult to say for sure as the steroid interferes with the normal eruption pattern.
Let's say that one again if only because it makes me sound all smarty medical like: NORMAL ERUPTION PATTERN.
To say my doc was intrigued by my rash would be an understatement.
He stared at me squinting through his professor-type glasses as he madly scribbled down notes as he spun me around to get a closer look AT THE FREAK.
Take this off! 
Lift this up!
Are you wearing underwear? 
OK, let's pull these down. What about your butt?
(What can I say. The nerdy-types love me.) 
He was baffled. So he gave me a prescription for a steroid cream. Sorta taking the let's-attack-it-from-both-sides-approach.
I want you to rub this all over the rash.
I have to admit that while he didn't mean to sound dirty, that's totally how I heard him. After 5 days with a mad itch that had me fantasizing over the things I would like to do with the BBQ wire brush ANYTHING that came with the promise of relief was sounding pretty sublime-borderline-ORGASMIC to me at that moment.
"Yeah, doc. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to rub this foam all over my creeping crud and I'm gonna rub it in real good too. Ooooh yeeeaaaahhhhhh."

.
..
...

*ahem* 
So, where was I?
Oh! 
Foam. Rubbing. Itch-be-gone! YAY!
Prince Charming drops me off at home and RUNS LIKE THE WIND! back to the pharmacy with the prescription in hand.
He calls from the pharmacy to say that insurance won't cover the prescription because the doctor ordered a $300 bottle of this foam. 
What. The. FUCK?!
HOWEVER, they will cover a smaller bottle with refills.
Morons!
And... of course our local pharmacy doesn't carry the smaller bottle so PC must drive 40 minutes to another town for it. He uses the time wisely to call our ASSHAT insurance company forcing them to approve refills for the smaller bottle.
...
Needless to say, as indicated by the above E.R. mention the foam didn't work and I was once again up in the middle of the night pacing and scratching and popping Benadryl if for no other reason than it would knock me unconscious.
I convinced Prince Charming to wait until morning before rushing in on his steed and rescuing me from my hive-y prison.


OH!
My boobs. Yeah, they were still healing very nicely.
My stomach muscles and the skin around the incisions are tight (from sleeping sitting upright), so standing upright is a challenge.
But... whatever.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Recovery Log: Day 3

Wednesday

I am beginning to look like a leper!
The rash on my belly has now crept it's way down to my groin and up my back. I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat which sent me out of the bed and pacing the living room in a 1am scratchfest.
Now little raised bumps welts accompany the patchy redness. 
I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror and after breast augmentation surgery all you want to do is LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE GODDAMN MIRROR!
I can't enjoy my new curves without them being overshadowed by the allergic FREAKSHOW  that's growing beneath.
I call my surgeon to give him a status update. 
He asks about the painkiller assuming that's still the culprit.
"Doc, I haven't needed the pain killer since 9am yesterday morning."
I love you.
"No, doc. *I* LOVE *you*!"
My mother chuckles over the love fest. So does my surgeon. I swear I could almost hear him blushing as I profess my affection.
Ok, back to business. 
Stop taking EVERYTHING!, he tells me.
I'm on my third day post-op and the antibiotics really aren't necessary.
You were given the most important doses in the OR. The rest is just prophylactic and here in the U.S. we tend to overuse antibiotics anyway. 
Same deal with the muscle relaxant. Not necessary anymore.
He doesn't ask me to come in, but does ask me to describe the rash, where it is and what it looks like.
It's migratory. It's on the move. Getting itchy in the new spots, not as itchy in the original areas.
And... most importantly... NOT on my breasts!
*whew!*
He instructs me to ONLY take the oral steroid. And Benadryl if I feel it's helping.
And again reminds me about the dermatologist.
We hang up only for him to call me back five minutes later.
He consulted with the anesthesiologist who suggests I try Claritin for the rash instead of Benadryl.
Prince Charming is not happy with him not wanting me to come in. I am thankful because the thought of sitting in the car for the 30 minute ride with an itchy back that I cannot reach is not my idea of fun.
I trudge along. And continue to wear the elastic pressure band as instructed even though it, too, is causing an ITCH.
I decide to forgo the Witch Hazel and Aveeno cream that we were using Monday and Tuesday. Better not to add ANYTHING to my skin that might irritate things.
And I beg Prince Charming not to comment or react to the rash as he helps me shower.
My body image is already skewed and I am trying not to freak out over what could *also* be the cause of the allergic reaction.
I spend that night scouring Google for "silicone implant allergy" and "breast implant rash."
Hoping that I find nothing.
Scratching all-the-while in between mouse clicks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Recovery Log: Day 2

Tuesday

It's 9am. My surgeon calls to check up on me.
"Hi Doc, how are you?"
Well now... wait, I'm supposed to be asking YOU how YOU are!
"Ok, then I will shut up and let you do your job."
He chuckles.
(It's this kind of back and forth banter that makes me love him.)
My rash has spread a bit over night, expanding over more of my belly. Still a little itchy.
But otherwise I feel great. Slept well. No pain. I tell him, once again, that's he's a GENIUS.
He tells me to keep taking the oral steroids and to consider seeing a dermatologist if it doesn't get better in a day or two.
I take my last pain killer at 9:30am. After that I realize that my pain level is so minimal that Extra Strength Tylenol is all I need.
GENIUS I say!
Throughout the day I take the antibiotic (Keflex) and muscle relaxer (Robaxin) as prescribed.
AND BENADRYL. Cuz now this damn rash is starting to get on my nerves.
My breasts are swollen. There is some minor bruising along the incision lines. Pectoral muscles still sore so there is no lifting of anything heavier than a remote control. Or a small mug of water.
I am very pleased with the surgery and recovery... despite the rash.
I should have knocked on wood.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Recovery Log: Day 1, Part II

I was sent home with three prescriptions: pain killer, antibiotic and a muscle relaxant.
There was some post-op debate as to which pain killer to prescribe me seeing as I am an idiot and can't remember the difference between Endocet and Darvocet but I know I am allergic to ONE of them.
(And by allergic, I mean TONGUE SWELLING allergic.)
We've prescribed you Tramadol for pain but give us a call if you develop any itching or a rash.

At some point later in the afternoon I took the prescribed pain killer.
And at some point afterwards I noticed another red patch on my belly.
Hmm. This must be the rash they were telling me to look for.
I called my surgeon's office. It was 7pm so his service patched me through to him and we decided to change my pain killer since that was the ONLY pill I had taken so far.
He called in the new prescription as well as an oral steroid pack to offset the allergic reaction and prevent the rash from turning into something worse.
(He also gave my his cell phone number. Just one of the many reasons I love him.)
The red patches were warm to the touch and itchy. Very itchy.
I had changed out of my clothes when I came home following the surgery, thinking it might have been from my laundry detergent.
(For the week prior to my surgery, I washed everything with Downy so as not to irritate my tender post-op boobies. I never use Downy.)
Still it was difficult to tell if it was the meds or the detergent.
No matter, the oral steroid would take care of it.
Right?
All-in-all I was feeling pretty good by the time I went to bed. My pectoral muscles were a little sore from the surgery. Getting Climbing into our pillow top King-size bed proved challenging (because I could not use my arms to support myself AT ALL), but thanks to my Mom and Prince Charming and a LOT of pillows I was able to get comfortable and a decent night's rest.
What I didn't know is that the rash... was spreading.


Recovery Log: Day 1, Part I

Monday:  The Day of Surgery

How do you feel?
"Tired."
When I opened my eyes I am alone. 
The person belonging to the voice is gone and I am alone in the recovery room with the curtain drawn.
I have no idea how long it had been since the voice asked the question. 
Could have been 1 minute could have been 30.
But now the veil of anesthesia has been lifted and I am awake.
WIDE awake.
My surgery is over.
No pain. No nausea. No grogginess.
My surgeon and anesthesiologist are GENIUSES!
(Not to mention ball-busters as evidenced by the banter that was exchanged during the hour I was being prep'd for surgery. I was never this much at-ease before either of my c-sections!)
Awake and alone. What to do?
A-la every breast augmentation episode of Dr. 90210, I peeked.
Then I peeked again.
And ... one more time just to be certain.
I was not bandaged. I only wore an elastic pressure band across the top of the breasts which is designed to keep the implants from riding up into my throat.
I have to say that I wasn't very impressed with what I saw.
No moment of OHMYGOD I'M HUGE!
All I saw was a little nip protruding beyond the elastic band and not much else.
But I knew enough to reserve judgement... for now.
(I know now it's because of the pressure bandage which skews the view from above, making you look smaller than you actually are. WAY. SMALLER. OMG I AM HUGE!!!!!)
Before I knew it my nurse poked her head in, sat me up and started me on the process of getting ready to leave.
One more dose of Toradol via IV to get me through the ride home.
WHHHHEEEEEEEE!!
My surgery began at 7:30am. I was home ... HOME!!!!... by 11am.
I forced myself to nap though I didn't need to. And I was up and able to greet Hansel when he came home from school like I had promised him the day before.
The rest of the day was spent back and forth between hanging in the living room and resting.
Then I noticed it.
A small red patch on my stomach right behind the waist band of my shorts.
Must be from my laundry detergent, I thought.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birth Announcement!

The castle is proud to announce the birth of our new TWIN girls!
Born Monday, June 9th 2008 somewhere between 7:30 and 9am.
Weighing in at 350ccs each.


(This is as close as you are gonna get to actually seeing them, so ... DEAL!)
The delivery was painless. 
My surgeon & anesthesiologist are GENIUSES. 
I was home by 11am feeling great.
I have some mild swelling and bruising, but nothing like some of the freak shows I have seen on Dr. 90210. (Really, that Dr. Rey ain't all that.)
I must wear the above elastic pressure band until my post-op appt next Monday at which time I will receive another apparatus designed to keep the girls in place. Aside from that, the girls are out in the open and haven't seemed to mind the occasional peaks and pokes from curious onlookers (namely myself and Prince Charming).
My recovery has been remarkably easy, except for the hideous allergic rash to one of  my meds that has been creeping across my torso since Monday leaving me looking like a Leper.
A leper WITH HUGE TITS.
I may have to call upon my dermatologist if this shit doesn't clear up by tomorrow.
Aside from that, I am taking it easy and enjoying the peace and quiet as Prince Charming takes care of the kids.
And scouring through the big girl bras in the latest Victoria's Secret catalog.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

Who has the best Twitter friends of them all?

I do! That's who.
Just look at what "the twins" and I received in the mail recently...



I love it! It's perfectly HILARIOUS!
I plan to keep it on my bedside table next week.

T-minus 4 days and counting.
I'm a bit crazed to say the least.
So much to do. So little brain cells to do it with.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Vignette Into My Mind's Eye


"We do not remember days; we remember moments."
~ Cesare Pavese

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Parenting Tip: Mind Your KEYS and Q's

(*Updated to add photo below.)

Never leave your car keys in the ignition, even if you are parked in a friend's driveway;

But... if you DO leave your keys in the ignition while parked in a friend's driveway, NEVER let your toddler escape from your clutches and jump into the DRIVER'S SEAT while you are rushing to get home because HOLY FUCKITY FUCK your brother's school bus is coming in LESS THAN an hour and we are at least 40 minutes away from home!!!!!;

But... if your toddler DOES escape from your clutches while the keys are in your car's ignition, ALWAYS make sure your car doors are UNlocked before you retrieve the little shit button-pushing-escape-artist and strap her back into her car seat and then CLOSE.THE.DOOR thereby LOCKING said toddler in your car;

(BONUS PARENTHETICAL TIP: It would also be helpful if you plot the sun's path ahead of time so you can make sure your car is NOT parked in the BLAZING SUN in off chance that you DO to lock your toddler in your car with the keys in the ignition 45 minutes before you are supposed to be home for the school bus;)

And... if you DO lock your toddler in the car (in the BLAZING SUN) with the keys in the ignition, do not ALSO lock your cell phone in with her because you will need it to make frantic phone calls to ALL of your neighbors as you desperately try to find someone to retrieve your kindergartener off the school bus;

AND... if you DO lock your toddler AND your cell phone in your car, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY do NOT lock your camera in with them because teh internetz will need pictures to go along with your blog post!!;

AND!!!!... if you DO lock your toddler and cell phone and camera in your car remember to be gracious and thank the nice police officers who were subjected to the repeated phone calls from your panicked BFF pleading that they "PLEAAAASSEEE HURRY UP IT'S HOT IN THE CAR!!!!!";

(Even if they DID drive right past her block with their lights and sirens blaring as if to torment you just a *little* bit longer for being such a moron as to lock your toddler in your car with the keys in the ignition;)

(And ESPECIALLY EVEN if one of them flashes you a look of condescension that spoke volumes as to what he really thought of your stellar parenting skillz.)

Thank you officers. 
My sweaty, heat-flushed toddler thanks you.


I was locked in my Mom's car and all she got was this stupid AFTER-photo.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

ACK!
OMG!
I've lost 1.5 inches!
And not in the *good* places!
(In fact, I seem to be e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g South of the Border according to the doctor's stoopid BROKEN!!!! scale. Dammit.)
The inches I've lost are in HEIGHT.
I used to be 5' 8.5".
I KNOW! Right?? That's not just TALL... that's goddamn STATUESQUE.
And all goddesses should be statuesque.
Put me in stilettos and I'm a FREAKIN' AMAZON!!!!
Fear me.
But... no longer am I a statuesque fearsome Amazonian goddess.
Now, I'm just 5"7' thanks to my twisty scoliosis-riddled spine.*
GAH!
I feel so... average.
But, there's still hope I can regain my tallness.
I have gone back to seeing a chiropractor for my scoliosis.
(As is Hansel for his allergies & asthma. And Gretel because... well, she is TWO and there is NO WAY she is going to let her big brother be the only one getting his back cracked like popcorn!)
My twisty spine was straightened out once before, and it will be again.
Dr. Cougar (as in John Cougar Mellancamp because when he cracks my back it HURTS so GOOD!!!) has his doubts, but I don't.
My back and muscles know what they're supposed to do.
In no time, the only thing that will be twisted will be my sense of humor.

Aside from finding out I am now vertically challenged, yesterday's presurgical clearance physical was all good.
Barring any freaky results from my blood work (results will be in today or Monday), I'll be good to go under the knife for my little procedure in early June.

Next up... figuring out how to tell the kids.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What Makes a Mother

[This is an "Edited to include Stepmoms" version of an email that has made it's way into by inbox numerous times over the years. I decided it's time we were represented.]

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay honey, I'm here."

Who have kissed boo-boos and made macaroni and cheese every night for dinner because it's their favorite.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes. And the "bonus" mothers to their husband's children.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors. And for those who smile through the innocent announcements of "Look what I made for Mommy!" and "I am going to give this picture to Mommy this weekend!"

And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. So that when their kids asked, "Did you see me?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who have struggled through the issues of co-parenting with their husband's ex-wife. And who continue to love these children in spite of being told she has no right.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who take their children shopping to buy their (bio)Moms a birthday/Christmas/Mother's Day gift. And who say "It's ok." if they don't get something in return.

This is for those mothers who understand that divorce is painful. And who let their children go through the normal grieving process without taking it personally.

For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then read it again, "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there. And for those who dropped everything when the nurse calls an hour later because their (bio)Mom cannot be reached.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their teen informs you that they wish to live with their Mom instead of you and their Dad.

And for every Mom who has ever heard the phrase "But she's not my mother."

What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Biology?

Or is it in her heart?

Is it the ache she feels when she watches her son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The pride she feels as she watches from the back row of their first ballet recital or school play?

The panic that comes at 2 A.M. when she just wants to hear their key in the door and know they are safely home after their first college road trip?

Or the need to flee from wherever she is and hug her child when she hears news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation...

And for mature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.

Single mothers and married mothers.

Mothers with money, mothers without.

Stepmothers and "Bonus" mothers.

This is for you all. For all of us...

Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray and NEVER stop being a mother...

"Home is what catches you when you fall - and we all fall."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Freud Would Have a Field Day

Me: "Hi Dad. I wanted you to know that I'm going to have breast augmentation surgery next month."

Dad: "Good for you! Make sure you wear low cut shirts when you come down to visit. I want to get tons of before pictures."

Me: "And I'll be sure NOT to wear my regular padded bras so you can get a true comparison."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Mother's Day Quote for Stepmoms

"A stepmother might have to rise above a little more than everyone else to make everything go smoothly and for everyone to feel comfortable. It's one of the nicest gifts they could give."
- Elizabeth Howell 

Here's hoping we all find the strength to rise above the challenges, adversities and animosities to make this Mother's Day a good one ... especially for our stepkids.

If you need a little more inspiration, go read A Stepmom's Say and see how she's grabbing the bull by the horns this year. 

Monday, May 5, 2008

Little Hans(el)


Umm... Mommy, I can see your bra.
I straighten out his blanket and settle in next to him for our shoulder-to-shoulder nightly chat.
"It's OK honey. It's no big deal."
Umm... Mommy? You might want to button your top button 'cuz I can see your bra.
He averts his eyes and he continues his protests.
"Hansel, it's OK. I'm your Mom."
Well, Mommy ... sometimes when I see people's underwear or bras my penis sticks straight up. And that's kinda a bit of a problem.

*flipflipflipflip*

I quickly search through my repository of parenting wisdom.
This is one of those special teaching moments that we all love SO much as parents. 
But all I could do was think of how I had JUST recently showered with Hansel and OHMYGOD did he have an erection the entire time and I didn't notice?!?!?!?!?!?

*flipflipflipflip*

The response I came up with...?
I *giggled* people!
G-I-G-G-L-E-D.
Like a school girl.
And then exclaimed "REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?!"
He *giggled*.
Then we both *giggled*.

Hello, Dr. Freud. Nice to meet you. Loved your theories. They've prepared me well, as you can PLAINLY SEE.

Behold my mad parenting skillz.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mother's Day Gifts for Stepmoms

Mother's Day is around the corner.
I know it's a holiday many Stepmoms dread.
(For many, MANY reasons.)
What does one buy for a Stepmom?
There's an abundance of Mommy bracelets, rings and charms out there.
I have my fair share of them.
But there is not much for Stepmoms.

LOOK NO FURTHER!

I found the perfect gift, and blogged about it in this is post from August 2007
I love it. Of course I bought it for myself but it was summer and there were no major holidays coming up and I am impatient. 
Cinderella loves it so much that she wants a matching necklace that represents ME. With my name and birthstone. 
Oh my gosh! It's like SO cyoooot and if I get my own then like we can match and stuff!!
*squeaaalllll!*
So go here now, browse and around and tell Beth Wicked Stepmom sent you.

And, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that you might possibly find something here
(I know. Shameless plug! Sue me.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WARNING: Dangerous Curves Ahead

There I was. 
Standing before him. 
Topless.
He was talking to me. Asking me questions. Reassuring me with his own responses.
But all I could do was think, "Holy shit. I am standing in front of this man with no shirt on and the girls dangling hanging out there. And he is looking at me dead.straight.in.the.eyes." 
I'm topless. And he is talking to ME and not my BOOBS.
Well of course he is, he sees them every day. It's no big deal to *him*. 
It's only a big deal to you.
(And trust me, my boobs are no BIG deal which is WHY I am there in the first place.)

Before having children my figure resembled that of a prepubescent boy.
(Well... a prepubescent boy with a bit of boo-TAY.)
Calista Flockhart? Debra Messing?
Those chicks are fecking Dolly Parton compared to me.
Hello Great American Flatlands... meet your East Coast rival. My chest.
After two pregnancies and two years (cumulative) breast feeding I now have as my Stepdad affectionately called "woman curves."
South of the Border, that is.
Hellllooooooo pear-shape!
So here I was talking to a plastic surgeon about breast augmentation.
Looking for a bit of balance to my curves.
"I don't want to look like Pamela Anderson. Or like I make my living getting up close and personal with a stainless steel pole." 
(No offense, Josie.)
An hour and a half later we left our consultation after sufficiently grilling our HIGHLY qualified surgeon with our well-researched questions.
And here I am a month later with a surgery date scheduled for early June.
ACK!
I have not yet decided how much of this journey will be documented here.
Not sure how many of you will care or if I want to go into that much detail about my boobies.
(Whatever I decide there will be NO before or after pictures. Pervs.)
But what I will say is that I am excited, relieved and anxious all at the same time.
I feel empowered for taking control of something that I have been talking about for twenty years. Just one of many things that I had always wanted to do *for myself* but never gave myself permission to do.
Then I saw this quote on the blog of one of my favorite social media gurus & Twitter friends, Jeff Pulver.
I didn't want to let another twenty years go by and regret not doing it.
No Regrets. That's my new philosophy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Custody & Visitation: Transportation "Responsibilities"

I waved as I drove past the house. 
Their waves were as much an expression of their gratitude as much as their happiness.
Five minutes later my cell phone rang.
Hi WSM. I wanted to thank you again for driving Cinderella here. I know you are now rushing to make it to your appointment but I really, REALLY appreciate it.
"Oh, it's no problem really."
Well, I am grateful because I know you didn't *have* to do it.

Maleficent was right. 
Legally transportation for her visitation days is not my responsibility. Court documents put the onus entirely on her shoulders.
And then there's the "all-of-the-responsibilities-none-of-the-rights" argument that plagues stepparents. 
Gah!
Technically I didn't have to drive Cinderella anywhere. But emotionally. Morally, I *had* to. 
Ten minutes earlier my 11 year old stepdaughter was in tears after just learning that her mother would not be able to pick her up for one of their twice weekly visits. 
I was heading out anyway. So what was the big deal to leave 10 minutes earlier?
Are you sure? I don't want you to have to take the kids out in this [rainy] weather. 
"It's no big deal. Hansel and I have a 5:30 chiropractor appointment so we were leaving in a few minutes."
But will that make you late for your appointment? I just feel so terrible, we hate to lose time with each other and I had no idea I would be stuck without a car but my time with her is so preshus already... but are you sure you don't mind? Will the doctor's office take if you you are late?
(Well if you stop ASKING me if I was sure and let me GET OFF THE PHONE DAMMIT I will be able to make my appointment.  My moments of compassion and empathy for you are fleeting, woman. Don't make me lose sight of WHO I am doing this for by making it all about you.)
(GAH!)

I was late. But who cares. I called ahead to the chiropractor's office and there was no problem.
Maleficent thanked me profusely on the phone, in her maniacal waves as I drove away and then again when she called me on my cell as I was rushing to our appointment in between reaming Prince Charming a new one for not listening to his voice mail sooner.
But most importantly, Cinderella was happy.
I may not be responsible for the visitation transportation, but I am responsible for her happiness.
In the end, that's all that matters.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Putting the HOME Back in Homework

The last school quarter we have been faced with the realization that Cinderella had not been completing her homework.
Her recent grade and progress reports SCREAM of her irresponsibility and poor choices over the past 6 months.
Yep, six months.
You heard me.
For SIX months she has been choosing not to complete class assignments, as well as skipping her private (required) violin lessons at school.
I know what you are wondering, why have you allowed this go on for so long?
I didn't.
We didn't. Because we didn't know.
At Middle School orientation, parents were advised NOT to check up on their children's homework assignments as we had been required to do in elementary school.
They need to learn responsibilitiy, they said.
It will prepare them for high school, and college, and... LIFE.
(I did not attend this orientation, BTW. But her parents did. And yes, I questioned that rationale but that's what they and now I was beng told to do. So I did it.)
And then... the report card came.
Capable of doing better work. Inconsistencey in classwork. Grades reflect a lack of homestudy.
Her teachers had a lot to say.
We questioned her as to why. And were met with the answer that EVERY parent of a middle-schooler gets: "I don't know."
Oh, how I love that answer.
For a while, I even tried it on for size.
WickedStepmom? Where are my clean clothes?
"I don't know."
Can you take me to the mall to spend my gift card?
"I don't know."
Remarkable!
The freedom! The lack of accountability that those three little words offered was liberating! No wonder she used it. All. Of. The. Time.
Yeah, well no anymore.
Cinderella, dearie. I'll tell you what *I* know. 
You WILL go to each of your teachers and request for ALL the past due assignments.
You WILL complete these over-due assignments THIS week (even though the time for you getting any credit for them has long passed).
You WILL start writing EVERY assignment down in your assignment pad.
You WILL ask for extra credit work.
You WILL stay for any and ALL extra study sessions.
And *I* WILL be checking your assignment pad and you homework EVERY DAY.
(Oh yeah, and Drama Club is OUT for the rest of the school. You see, most of these assignments were NOT done in favor of going to, and socializing at, rehearsals even though she had every possible opportunity to complete them during the abundant downtime she had as an ensemble cast member. Final curtain call! Take your bow and get off the stage. For this year.)

Three weeks, numerous calls and emails to her teachers and guidance counselors later, her grades are all back into the 80s. 
YAY!
Her guidance counselor called just prior to Spring Break to praise Cinderella's efforts and to let us know of her progress.
I was proud. Prince Charming was proud. Maleficent was proud.
Cinderella was especially proud.
With this kind of turn-around, she has the potential to finish the year strong. 

You're damn straight she will.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bittersweet Milestone: His First Tooth

His Big Sister was the one who first noticed when this tooth came in.
He was just 5 months old at the time.



Five years later, it fell out at the breakfast table for us all to share.
All but one of us. 
Cinderella was visiting her Mom that weekend.
Her empty chair made the moment bittersweet.
That is, until she came home that night and he could tell her all about what happened.
Then the circle was complete.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Too Many Reps to Count

In the past week, I have been asked by two different doctors if I worked out.
Apparently lifting and constantly carrying a needy toddler tones one's pectoral and shoulder muscles.

Now if I can only learn to walk on my hands and carry her with my ass.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Milestone Rewind

Indulge me for a minute and pretend... for now, that it's last Sunday.
March 30th.
Are you with me?
Ok. Great.

*ahem*

OMG! Internet!
You won't believe what *just* happened. RIGHT NOW. At the BREAKFAST table!

(The SUNDAY breakfast table in case you forgot what day of the week we are on. Pretend I am Oprah or Ellen or one of those talk show hosts who pre-records their shows. K?)

Hansel has JUST lost his FIRST tooth! Gah!
It's been loose for about a week. He proudly announced and showed it to me after getting off the school bus last Monday.
Panic ensued. My [former] Stepmom, his Nanny, bought him this last month.
(Isn't it cute? And the personalized letter from the tooth fairy is preshus!)
"Oh you can hold on to it for a while. His tooth is only slightly loose so it could be several months before it's loose enough to fall out. No need to rush over here to get it to us. There's plenty of time."
Yes, clearly I am new at this.
Like I said, PANIC ensued. I grab the phone, run into Gretel's room, close the door and crouch down behind her rocking chair to make the secret call.
"OMG WE NEED THE PILLOW NOW NOW NOW IT'S GONNA FALL OUT AND THE TOOTHFAIRY CAN'T COME WITHOUT IT AAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"
Pillow is dropped off Monday night followed by daily phone calls for the rest of the week asking "Did it fall out yet????"
*sigh*
When it finally fell out, we were eating this. We JUST sat down to eat this for breakfast a mere MOMENTS AGO and I was about to ask Hansel how his tooth was when he suddenly exclaimed that it JUST FELL OUT!!! as he spit it into his hand and then flashed a bloody smile filled with mushy monkey bread and a gaping hole between his lower right and remaining central incisor.
YUM! Eat up everyone!
After several moments of oohing and aahhhing we sent him to the bathroom to wash up and admire his missing tooth in the mirror while I quickly retrieved the hidden tooth fairy pillow from our closet and left it along with the letter on his pillow.
He's JUST found the pillow and his reaction was is classic!

Yes, there are pictures. And a little video as he read his letter.
But they are ... umm... on my camera.
So, let's pretend that it's SATURDAY and this momentous milestone hasn't happened yet so how could I possibly have any pictures to show you. You silly internet.
K?
But WAIT till you see what I have to show you tomorrow!! You won't believe what's ABOUT TO already HAPPENed in the castle!!!

Oh, and just out of curiosity, what's the Tooth Fairy's going rate nowadays for a FIRST tooth?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Progress Report: Operation VEGGIES

I've successfully been able to sneak veggies into the following dishes without them being detected by the kids' oh-so-refined palettes:

Hot Cocoa (w/ sweet potatoes)
French Toast (w/ sweet potatoes)
Pizza Sauce (w/ spinach)
Rice Balls (w/ sweet potatoes)
Quesadillas (w/ white beans and butternut squash)

I taste-test everything before serving it so I can adjust the amount of pureed veggies I add.
The addition of the pureed spinach to the tomato sauce definitely changed the color. Looks like total newborn baby shit. So that night, I did not let the kids make their own pizzas. :)

(Night #2 of make-your-own-pizzas with spinach-laden-baby-shit sauce. I *did* let he kids make them and GUESS WHAT????????? Hansel would not eat it. Bah!)

Otherwise, my evil plot mission of poisoning feeding my unsuspecting family vile healthy foods is working. MWAHAHAHAHA!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hide the Scissors

Or else you will go from this...



... to this.


A little trim is all he needed.
Instead, he looks like he lost a battle with the hedge trimmer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fighting The War on Veggies

Carrots. Spinach. Sweet potatoes.
All steamed, pureed and packaged ready to be snuck into recipes (like
brownies and hot cocoa!).
Operation: Green Stuff goes into effect starting at 15:00 ET today.
Watch out kids, Mommy is armed and dangerous!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Encore! Encore!


Today is Cinderella's cast party to celebrate the success of their drama club performance (of 3 weeks ago).
I'm a little sad that I won't be able to be there.
I didn't realize how much fun I had with those kooky and wacky middle schoolers, until my time with them was over.
"This is the happiest I have seen you in a long time."
My mother's observation was right-on and a little shocking.
I had no idea I would have this much fun working with Cinderella and her classmates.
They're funny, exuberant and stuck in that awesome and awkward place between childhood and adulthood. The dynamics of their relationships are laced with sexual tension that they have yet to understand or even realize. They are beautifully innocent and frighteningly grown-up all at the same time.
Being backstage with them left me feeling something like a Big Sister, Friend, Mom and Warden all rolled into one. I wanted to strangle them and laugh and hug and run around being silly with them all at the same time.
Cinderella and I bonded in a way we had never done before. Her play gave us something in common - something neutral to enjoy together, that existed beyond our home and chores and custody/visitation issues and the problems with her Mom and the dynamics of our Stepmom/Stepdaughter relationship. We connected easily. We chatted, gossiped, planned and genuinely enjoyed each other's company. 
This experience has left me wanting more.
I can't wait to do it again.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Spring May Now Come

As we have successfully filled our snow fun quota for the season after Friday's storm dumped close to a foot of snow.


Yep, he's totally aiming for his unsuspecting sister.


But then realized it's way more fun to simply run down the snow-covered hill...




... because snow suits are just as slippery as any sled.


No snow day is complete without hot cocoa. This time, I was smart and started the machine BEFORE we went outside so it was ready-and-waiting for us when we came back inside.


All the fixin's.


Apparently, it's all about the marshmallows.


The perfect cup.


The perfect ending to a perfect day.

(Man these photos suck ass in terms of quality. I just got a new camera and have yet to figure out the proper settings.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Make Tracks



Nothing beats being the FIRST to make tracks in the newly fallen snow.

I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am that it's snowing and that they are predicting close to 11 inches by the time it stops. Whhheeeeeee!!!!!!!!

(Shut up. It's not like *you* have to shovel it!)

(Well, that's only true if you don't live on the East Coast and, if you do live in the tri-state area, well... suck it up! *I'm* happy about the snow!)

(And yes it *is* all about me.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Knitting My Fingers to the Bone...

... in preparation for a Baby Shower this weekend for my StepBrother and Sister-in-Law.

Over the holidays, I was given a hand-knitted dishcloth by a fellow knitting friend on Twitter and I LOVE it. It's super absorbent, makes a great pot holder and is oh-so-pretty.

So I decided to make some washcloths to go in a layette basket for my new nephews.



Cute. Right?



And some bibs too ...



I think I may be addicted because they are so quick to knit and I am an instant-gratification-kinda-gal. I predict gifts of washcloths and dishcloths for EVERYONE!