Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gooey Perfection

I remember feeling really sorry for Deborah Norville when she took over Jane Pauley’s spot on “The Today Show.” People were so mean. They never even gave her a chance. For 20 years or so I’ve been rooting for her, even during those lean years on “A Current Affair” or “Inside Edition” or whatever it was… until now.

Her interview in Family Circle has left me fairly nauseous. Perhaps I shouldn’t be reading magazines such as Family Circle if I don’t really aspire to a certain level of domestic bliss myself, but puh-leez.

I mean, at our house we had a near perfect Christmas. We wept at all the appropriate parts of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” we looked semi-decent for church. The kids woke up at a reasonable hour and took turns opening presents. They seemed genuinely grateful. We ate homemade chili and played games all afternoon. Fine. But do you really want to read about that?

Here are some snippets from the Deborah Norville interview:

Q: You were raised in Georgia. How have your southern values influenced your kids?

There’s a lot that I’ve tried to teach them: to say ma’am and sir, to have impeccable table manners, to respect their elders, and to pray before bed.

Yada, Yada, several more Q&A’s in which Deborah confesses to being a superior seamstress who “feels fulfilled when I finish making curtains or a dress” and a terrific cook whose chicken curry “is the dish my kids request the most.”

Personally, I feel most fulfilled after diving into a half-gallon of brownie ice cream. And I know that the second I would dare to mention that my children have "impeccable" anything, all hell would break loose. I'm never taking that chance.

This my fav:

Q: What’s life like on a random Saturday at your house?

A: If raspberries are in season, the kids and I like to bake a berry dessert. We put fresh berries in the bottom of a quiche pan and sprinkle them with sugar. Then we top that with a mix of soft butter, sugar and flour and bake at 325 until the fruit gets gooey. Delicious!

Sounds just like a typical Saturday here at Casa See. Nice and gooey.

All I Want for Christmas Is...

Poison Ivy? In December? In his eye? Poor kid.

Oh Well

Remember last week when I was going to write about my mysterious yearly weight loss? Well, never mind.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Worst. Date. Ever

I was reading Texas Mama’s blog and was thoroughly entertained by her tale of her worst date ever. It got me thinking about which date in my life would qualify. I decided to count out the heart-wrenching “should we break up or not?” dates and instead focus on the date that, while not emotionally scarring, would blow the others away on a Crappy Date Meter. It just had to be prom, my sophomore year in high school.

At that point I had dated a few boys, but I wouldn’t call myself “experienced.” By this, I mean, I had never kissed a boy. The boys I dated may have thought it was because I was a “good Christian girl,” but it was really because I was afraid that if I tried, I’d suck. In a bad way. After a while, hesitation turned into phobia. For the same reason, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until FIFTH GRADE and I still can’t dive into a pool.

Therefore, I was as chaste as chaste can be. One of my boyfriends, dear Calvin, who would ride his little red mo-ped 5 miles through traffic across town to see me, eventually saw through my act and gently said, “Anna, if you are afraid to kiss me, because you haven’t done it before, that’s okay. There’s nothing to worry about.” I, in a haughty 14 year old voice retorted, “It’s not that I don’t know how to kiss, I just don’t want to kiss you.”

Ouch. I punished him for seeing through me, and 25 years later, I still regret those unkind words.

Sooooooo, by sophomore year I had some unresolved dating issues. My friend and confidant Nancy had an older friend who had to be in his 20’s at that point. Imagine my surprise as I answered the kitchen phone, to hear this guy, this man, offering me “his services” to work out “a problem he heard I had.” Ewwww. I was mortified and declined. Just thinking about that part of the story makes me want to lock Molly up for the rest of her life to keep her away from pervs like that.

Well, let’s get to the worst date ever. So, here I was a sophomore, with an active dating life—Pizza Hut, parties, dances, the movies. My preferred dating M.O. was to go out with slightly older guys who could drive. I had no intention of attending prom, since I was just a sophomore.

One day I got a call from an older boy in my church youth group. He asked if I’d go to his prom at the rival high school and I said sure. I didn’t know much about him, but he was cute and I figured he must like me and I’d just never noticed. I was actually closer to his mom that to him—I think I would have fared better going w/ his mom.

Despite some anxiety about the kissing thing, I pulled a ruffly peach gown out of my closet (it was 1985!) and was ready for the big night. I can’t remember what we did for dinner, but at the dance I was not my fun, bubbly self. I was not getting a flirty vibe from this guy at all. I was used to guys showing me attention. From him? Nada.

At one point I went into the bathroom because the ballroom felt hot and cold all at once. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a pale face, clammy skin, and my mullet-like hair plastered down with sweat. I wasn’t sure what was wrong but was determined to tough it out.

Eventually, we headed to his house for an after-party. This consisted of a 6 people, two of whom were my date’s ex-girlfriend and her date. If I had been more in-tune to current youth group gossip, I would have known my date and his hot and heavy girlfriend had broken up just a few weeks before the prom. I would have found it unusual that she would be at his house at all.

At this point, however, my head was pounding and I didn’t much care. My date continued to ignore me completely. As I sat on his couch with my eyes closed, willing the night to end, I heard, “Mmmmm, Oh yeah….. mmmmmm” coming from right next to me.

Yep, my date and the ex-girlfriend were making out on the couch. I guess somewhere between breaking up and prom, there had been some making up. The parents must have insisted they not cancel their prom dates. Gee thanks.
These two love birds could not bear to be apart on the most important night of the year. Eventually, they went outside to “talk” while the (no-longer ex) girlfriend’s date and I were left alone. Awk-ward.

Eventually, my date came inside and deigned to drive me home. He drove so fast that I got the distinct impression he had somewhere else to go, as in, “ditch Anna as fast as you can so I can put my tongue back down your throat!”

No walk to the door. No goodnight. He did slow down enough for me to get out of the car. Before I dragged my shivering butt into my bed I looked in the mirror. What did I see?

Chicken pox.

Thus ended the Worst. Date. Ever.


I’d like to add a footnote for those of you are wondering how this kiss-phobe ever became the mother of two beautiful children. It did take a couple more years to get over my “issue”—time and a few Bartles and James wine coolers did the trick. Thank you very much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Confession: Psycho-Mom

I was going to write about my annual shrinkage, in which I tend to lose 5 stubborn pounds every winter, through no virtue or effort on my part, only to see it land back soundly on my thighs each May just in time for pool season. I was going to regale you with tales of this squandered thinness from Nov-April a chilly time in which even I don’t see myself in a state of undress.

I was going to lament the 5 lb’s presence in mid-July when even the longest skirted swimsuit can’t disguise it. I was going to deliberate whether I should try to keep it off this time, by cutting back on ice cream and starting to exercise again. I was going to leave you with a wise, borderline profound and mostly sincere statement about how losing those 5 lbs does not bring me happiness, for happiness cannot be found in things. But I won’t.

Instead, I have the pressing need to write about something else. Psycho-Mom. I tried to leave her home from Molly’s class Christmas party today, but she snuck into the car with me. Two cups of Constant Comment tea and a Diet Dr. Pepper beforehand, almost as sure an antidote as garlic to a vampire, didn’t ward her off either.

This has been the unfortunate situation over the past few years on field trips and lunch duty, too. I try to shake her off, and sometimes I make it through the craft and snack portion of the party without her rearing her ugly head, sometimes I don’t.

Molly has expressed embarrassment at Psycho-Mom’s unpleasant outbursts. Other moms tend to turn away, much as you would from a train wreck, while sneaking the occasional peek.

Why am I the only bitchy mom in these here parts? The others have wonderful soothing voices and don’t seem driven to psychosis when 16 second graders are all yelling, “My turn! Pick me! She cheated! Me! Me!” at them. The other moms are pictures of serenity, genuine kindness, and Christian restraint. I think of Michelle Duggar, who gave birth to her 18th child yesterday and has never raised her voice to her kids.

I’d almost made it through the whole party when I decided to take the last 10 minutes to play “Christmas Pictionary” on the board. Bad move. There was not enough time for everyone to go, and they all crowded around shouting out answers. The crush of bodies at the board threatened to turn into a WHO concert, or another Black Friday tragedy at Wal-mart. Psycho-Mom was starting to sweat. The clues were too easy, everyone was right and everyone deserved to go next. Four children held dry-erase markers, poised to go. Kids’ eyes started to well with tears. Pure chaos.

By this time the other moms were checking out, cleaning up and vacating. I wish they’d left a few minutes earlier, before Psycho-Mom really spread her wings.

I don’t really know how to paint this picture for you, other than to say it stunk. Kids, knowing that not only was I a horribly unfair mom who had let her own daughter go first, started bemoaning the injustice of it all. The enforcers, key 2nd grade girls, tried to regain some semblance of control by bossing the other kids around, and complaining to me, not knowing how short Psycho-mom’s fuse could be.

When I finally lost it, I insisted they all sit down and I may, just may, have uttered in an extra-loud voice something as self-righteous and pouty as, “ Sit down! Mouths closed! I am hurt, even wounded, that you would be screaming and shouting at me during this Christmas party. Especially while one of your poor fellow students is trying, in vain, to draw our blessed Baby Jesus on the board for you to guess! What, I ask you, would Baby Jesus think?” Crazy mom on Aisle 3, perhaps?

I know when I don’t volunteer for Girl Scout outings, sleepovers and class parties I may look like an uncaring person, who leaves others to pick up her slack, but I’m starting to think that the best gift I can give this year is to avoid these events altogether. To the children, the teachers, and my fellow mommies, I am so sorry this took me so long to figure out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Confession

This is the image my family tends to project at Christmas.

Sometimes, the reality is more zany and snuggly like this:
But a lot of the time, like this morning, it's more like this:

Minus any hint of a smile on my face.

When Jake threw a pen at Molly this morning in anger, I went all Linda Blair on him. I started screaming and ordered him to his room. When he gave me a shocked, angry, defiant look on his way up the stairs, I even grabbed him by the collar and yelled some more. Nice.

Molly told me later that she got caught in a stream of spit coming out of my mouth as I screamed. After I sent them off to school-- Isn't it nice to start their day on such a positive note? You're welcome, teachers!-- I had time to think about what kind of example I was setting.

My anger at his getting angry was about 100 times more intense than his was, minus the flying object. Any message I was trying to send him about self-control was lost in my own venomous rage.

I was really probably pissed because I hadn't had any caffeine, I was freaked about how much I was going to spend at Costco later ($400 to be exact), and I was feeling pressured to pick the "perfect" family Christmas card photo that captured us in all our adorableness. Hmmm.

I used the teachable moment to apologize, explain the irony of the situation (former English teachers like to get that in when we can), give hugs, and ask for forgiveness. All is back to red-plaid "perfection" in the See household again.

For all of us who have screamed at our kids seconds before pulling into the church parking lot, huffed and puffed around our "too small" houses while lamenting our kids' stubbornness and lack of gratitude, and any others who fall short on a daily basis--

I wish a Christmas of Peace, from the Prince of Peace, who loves us no matter what.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wounded Pride

Ever since I put a picture of Tom on my blog with a big gash on his forehead, I’ve been meaning to tell you the story behind his injury. In hunter’s parlance, he “got scoped.” When I was in college, “to scope” was to check out hot guys. This morphed into calling all hot guys you liked your “scopes.” Well, this is different from what happened to Tom.

He was in WV hunting with my brother. I was at home seething because he always leaves me alone with the kids for the first part of Thanksgiving week while he takes this trip. It took me until about Wednesday to get over myself and realize that leaving a mom home alone with two toddlers is vastly different from leaving her home with a 7 and 9 year old who are in school 6 hours a day. I had also overlooked the fun of having cereal and/or grilled cheese for dinner each night and blogging until 2 am without feeling like I had to explain myself.

During this year’s hunting trip, my 11 year old nephew rose to the ranks of the adult hunters by bagging 3 deer. Tom’s pressure to perform rose too. You see, Tom was not raised in a hunting family. When he and I married, my brother and his fellow hunters welcomed him warmly and spread the love of expensive hunting equipment, copious amounts of fried food, and male bonding, but Tom was still on the fringe. What he needed was to bag a huge buck.

Over the years he has endured some teasing, most of it deserved. There was the year he took a novel out into the woods with him and was caught reading under a tree. Or when he got excited and shot a “button buck”—when he was supposed to leave it alone so it could mature into a massive beast. Another time he fell asleep and nearly got trampled by a herd of deer running down the hillside on top of him. My brother and his friends are Southern-ish good old boys. Burps, farts, dirty jokes. Tom is all Northern private boarding school. Reserved, tidy, preppy.

So, when Tom did take a shot at a deer this year, not only did he miss, he bashed his head in with the scope from his rifle. Blood everywhere. Wounded pride. A Harry Potter-like scar. Much explaining to do at work, at church, in the hood. It didn’t help his self esteem when my brother let me shoot a rifle off the porch at a target and I almost got a bulls-eye. Beginner’s luck.

Oh well, part of me wants him to start hating hunting since I’m not really in love with the concept and so we can all travel together for Thanksgiving next year. The other part of me wants him to get back into the game and keep trying. This will be a great example to the kids about perseverance, and who knows, he might even bag his elusive “Moby Buck.”

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Perplexing Postage

Is it just me, or is this new papaya postcard stamp vaguely disturbing?

Maybe between Lamaze classes and my gyno's office, I've seen one too many posters over the years.

All I know is, whatever she's got, I don't want it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Confession

I am a huge dork. My non-bloggy friends have seen many examples of this in everyday life and need no more proof. For my bloggy friends, in case you have even a shred of doubt that I’m a dork, this post is for you.

Okay, I’ve been doing this blog thing for about 11 months. When I started writing mine, I had never even read a blog. I soon started reading and enjoying other people’s blogs. Not wanting to navigate away from them and lose track of my new friends forever, I decided to save some of them to my “favorites.”

This is before I knew anything about RSS feeds and the “Blogs I follow” function. Actually, I still don’t know what an RSS feed is, but I hear it’s kind of cool.

Anyway, for a good while I would click on my favorites to check out these awesome blogs. I got discouraged when I realized that these women, whose writing I admired, desired, and perhaps even coveted, WEREN’T POSTING ANYTHING NEW.

What was going on? Had they dared to let family time and jobs interfere with their blogging responsibilities? Why were they still talking about the swimming pool when they should have been writing about carpools and soccer games?

It took me a teeny bit of time (precise days, weeks or months are not necessary to divulge here) before I realized that when I saved to “favorites,” I was just saving a particular blog entry instead of the front page of a blog. I kept going back to the same old blog entries I'd read before.

I’m glad to know you are much more productive than I thought you were. I am glad your priorities are much more in line with where I thought they should be—entertaining me-- for instance. And I’m glad to erase any doubt you may have harbored about my immense dork-dom.

Oh, and see those band-aids on Tom's face in this picture, the one in which I'm working a Farrah Fawcett hairdo? He's a dork, too, but that story will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anna's Free Gift Guide

Jake's very detailed Christmas list contains Legos, Legos, and more Legos. I wasn't sure what Molly wanted, so I set her to work on her list. Here it is with corrected spelling:

1. Big surprise is a mouse!

2. Tickets to a Jonas Brothers' concert (please)

3. Do not take me to Home Depot ever again.

#1 gives me the creeps, no way in heck for #2, and I'm seriously considering making a fancy gift certificate for #3. I mean, she's not exactly a whole lot of fun to take to Home Depot anyway. This could be the gift that keeps on giving...