Friday, October 30, 2009

Marge Simpson

Halloween came early for me. I woke up this morning with hair like Marge Simpson.  I'm going to sleep on it again tonight so tomorrow it will pile even higher. All I need now is some blue hair spray, yellow makeup and a long blue dress. Come to think of it - I could also go as the Bride of Frankenstein. So many options!

I'm set.

So then I realized I can do so much more! There's the mod-squad look:

And Elvis:

These are just some of perks of having hair like mine.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cell phone follies

I don't know how well this incident will translate onto paper... but I'll give it a try because it was seriously hilarious.

So - my mom and dad have a cell phone, which they don't really know how to operate. If you call them, they don't answer but they know how to call out. You can't leave them messages, because they don't know how to get into the message box.

It's mid-afternoon today and I'm writing away... and the phone rings. I can see from the caller id that it is them calling from the cell.

Me: Hello?


Me: Hello?!



Now - in order to get the full effect of this conversation - I want you to think about yelling into a phone as loud as you possibly can. And then dial it up another 10 notches. That is how loud my dad was yelling into his cell phone. (and he has a middle eastern accent which for many reasons makes this all the more funny).

The even funnier thing was, that he couldn't hear me unless I was yelling just as loud. Thank God there was no one around during this conversation. If I was in a public place, I would have had to hang up on him.




Me: (even louder, which I didn't think was possible) YES DAD!!! I CAN HEAR YOU!





Who the hell is Dr. Anderson? And where the hell is my dad?




I take in a deep breath to yell louder.



and why are we saying everything twice?



OMG -  he's driving down the interstate AND talking like this? Wait. Maybe my mom is holding the phone for him... that might explain the yelling...



Good God. All I need is for Dr. Anderson's receptionist to get a call like this one from my dad. 





Dad: OH! OKAY!






I can hear the engineer brain clicking. I've obviously missed a step in logic.



omg. I have no idea what is going on now. 






This is clearly FAR too complicated of a discussion to do at decibels 10 times the normal levels. 



We hang up. About 10 minutes later I call Dr. Anderson's office.

Receptionist: Oh! you are so nice to call! But your dad just called and asked if you had called yet.


Good cop/Bad cop

Zayd, Zach, Paul and I were sitting around after dinner talking tonight.

Zayd: My teacher is really scary.

Me: How so?

Zayd: She just is. She freaks me out.

Zach: Yeah - She has a reputation.

Me: Oh my gosh! Well... what does she do?

Zayd: She just... just... if someone talks in class she just stares at you really scary.

Me: Does she say anything or just stare?

Zayd: She stares. Well.. sometimes she says something. Like today she said, (he imitates her scary stare)"You don't want to know what I'm going to do to you if you don't stop talking."

eww. That does sound kinda freaky.

Me: Has she ever done anything?

Zayd: Yeah. She moves you to level blue. That's really bad.

Me: Okay - but besides moving you to level blue... does she do anything? Like smack you?


Zayd stares at me like I'm from another planet.

Zayd: Nooo-h. She doesn't smack us. Gad mom.

Ah... those were different times...

Me: So she's essentially controlling you all through fear. Highly effective. Your dad does that too.

Zayd: Ya.

Me: And I keep thinking I should start.

Zayd: NO!

Zach: No. No. No.

Zayd: We need the scary one... balanced with the... hum.... with the... nice one.

Paul: Are you saying I'm the scary one?

Zach: Zayd. Don't look him in the eye when you answer that. You'll turn to stone.

Talking in my sleep

I scared the shit out of Paul last night.

I woke both of us up from sleep by yelling at the kids in my dream.

I was dreaming that Ethan and Zayd decided to cook some stuff in the oven. I remember it clearly: A container of Yoplait Yogurt (peach flavored - my fav btw), a huge package of Kraft string cheese, a bag of ice and then something that looked like a pot roast.

I open the oven and see the Yoplait on fire and the plastic covering the string cheese burning, and the ice melting (and the plastic holding the ice melting) and the roast... cooking.

I am trying to blow out the fire - unsuccessfully. And I remember thinking - where is the damn fire extinguisher?

Zayd and Ethan are standing behind me.

Zayd: What are you doing?

Me: I'm trying to keep our house from burning down!

Ethan: Don't wreck our cooking!

Me: YOU DON'T COOK Yogurt, string cheese and ICE!

I keep blowing.

Me: Now you boys stay here. When I get this cooled off, you need to help me clean out the oven.

and this is where is gets kinda weird...

Ethan: But I need to go watch what Buffy says to Mr. French.

See what I mean? 

At this point in the dream, I remember getting really angry and taking a deep breath so the boys would be able to hear me yell.

Me: I don't care WHAT you want to do!

That was the line I did say out loud. Well... I actually yelled it. For real. Out loud at 3 am.
I heard myself but I wasn't sure if I heard myself in my dream or for real. But that only took a few seconds to figure out because Paul said...

Paul: Naj? Are you okay?

Me: I was yelling at the boys.

Paul: Yeah. I know.

His voice sounds like a therapist. So soothing...

Me: They put a Yoplait yogurt, string cheese and ice in the oven and they were trying to cook it. It was burning.

Paul: Oh. Really?

He still sounds like a therapist. God, I never noticed that before...

Then I realize I AM awake.

Me: I'm awake aren't I.

Paul: Yes.

Me: Oh my God. I am so sorry! What the heck! Did I scare you?

Paul: Uhhmmm... well. It was kinda creepy. (he's laughing)

Oh my God. I gotta start yelling at those kids for real so I don't do it in my dreams. For Paul's sake.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm a drunken sailor...

Last night the boys were in prime form. Dinner was a series of one-liners that I couldn't keep track of, but left Paul and I wondering where the heck these children came from...

After dinner, they cleaned up the kitchen.
And sang songs.
Innappropriate songs.

It kinda reminded me of the dwarfs all whistling while they worked... but...
kinda not.

Zach started things off with the rousing: "I'm a drunken sailor man..."

Zayd and Evan joined in ... and soon after - Ethan was singing it.

All of them: I'm a drunkennnn saaaaillllor maaan! I'm a drunkennnn saaailllor mann! You're a drunken sailorrrr mannn!

Over and over and over again.

Me: Knock it off! Don't teach Ethan that kind of song! Where did you learn that?

Zach: We are doing it in band.

Me: What?!

Zach: We are playing it in band. It's really cool - the trombones can hit this really low note - even lower than I can sing. Which isn't actually saying much since I haven't hit puberty.

What the hell does puberty have to do with this?

Me: You are telling me you are performing a song about a drunken sailor in school?

Zach: Yeah.


Public schools.

Me: Well don't sing it here - Ethan doesn't need to learn it.

Zach: Fine.


Zach: (singing) Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me. Don't cha? Don't cha?

The rest of them join in. Including Ethan.

Paul: Okay - that's enough. Your mom and I are going on a walk. Finish cleaning the kitchen.

Me: And stop singing that! Don't teach your brother that song!

Zach: Why not?

Me: Because he will sing it in his first grade classroom! He doesn't know any better!

Zach: Ahhh... good point.


Zach: (singing) I'm too sexy for my shirt. too sexy for my shirt... too sexy yah...

Ethan: I'm! Sexy in my shirt! Sexy for my shirt! I'm sexy yea!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Fire Drill

Tonight I led my Tiger Cub Den in a meeting and we worked on our "Keeping Myself Healthy and Safe" badge, or bead, or activity... or whatever it is called.

I had home fire escape plan grids printed out so each parent and tiger cub could work on their plan.

Here is how my discussion with Ethan went:

Me: Okay. So we need to make sure that there are two ways to get out of each room.

Ethan twirls his pencil and stares at the kid next to me.

Me: Ethan? Ethan?


Ethan: Huh?

Me: Ethan. Let's start with your bedroom. What are two ways out of your bedroom?

Ethan: The door and the window.

Whew. Okay. This is good.

Me: Right! Good! Okay. So... let's say you had to go out the window. That would be kinda hard wouldn't it?

Ethan: No.

Me: No?

Ethan: No.

Me: Why no?

Ethan: We would just open the window and go out.

Me: But the window is really high up hon. You can't just jump out.

Ethan: Yes I can.

Okay - this isn't going so well.

Me: No. What would happen if you jumped out of the window?

Ethan: Nothing.


Me: Well - no. You would break your leg if you jumped out of the window. You shouldn't jump out of the window. Okay? Ethan? Ethan? Look at me. Look at me!

Ethan: What?

Me: Do NOT jump out the window. Understand?

He stares at me blankly.

Me: Ethan, what would be a good thing to have if you need to get out of the house through the window safely?


Ethan: A band-aid.


Me: A band-aid.


Me: Why would you need a band-aid?

Ethan: 'Cause I jumped out the window and broke my leg.

Holy crap. 

Me: No. A band-aid isn't going to help you. Listen Ethan. What would help you get out of the window? Can you think of something that would be helpful? A safe way to get down from that high up?


Ethan: Hmmmm... he puts his pointy finger on his lips.  I know! A pillow!


Me: No - not a pillow. And not a band-aid.

I'm now listening to the other tiger cubs around me. They seem to be getting this. The twin boys next to us came up with "rope ladder" on their own. I obviously need to help Ethan more.

Me: How about a ladder!?

Ethan: No. No. A ladder won't work.

Me: What? Why not?

Ethan: Because the ladder is in the garage.

Me: Not that kind of ladder Ethan. There is something called a rope ladder.


Ethan: No. It won't work.

Me: Yes it will work Ethan. A rope ladder is what we need to help you get out of your room through the window.

Ethan: Mom. A ladder is too big to fit in my room. And ladders are dangerous.


Ladders are dangerous to climb, but pillows are safe to land on. 

Holy crap.

Little dots

Today we had couscous as a side dish for dinner.

Ethan's arm shoots up in the air with a couple of grains of couscous between his two fingers. He yells:

Ethan: I want more of these little dots thingys please!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The engineer

My father is something else. If you don't explain something in minute detail - he argues with you about the minute detail you left out.

I'm convinced it must be the engineer in him.

My father is brilliant - really. You can give the man anything to read from any discipline and he understands it and can explain it. So - I'll sometimes give him an academic article to read that I'm having trouble with so I have someone to talk through it with me.

Today I was working on my diss at my parents house and I sent him an academic article to read via email so we could talk about it.

Dad: I have two emails from you.

Me: Yes. Don't read the draft of my dissertation I sent you. Please read the other email - I've attached a journal article I want you to read.

Dad: Okay. Fine. What is the subject line?

Me: I don't remember.

Dad: Okay - which one is longer?

Me: My draft is over hundred pages, the article is like 15.

Dad: So you want me to read the 100 page or the 15?

Me: The shorter one.

Dad: So the fifteen?

Me: Yes, the fifteen.

Dad: Okay.

He shuffles off to his office, wearing the pink slippers he took from my mother. He liked them, so he took them. My mom went back to the store and got herself purple ones. So they wear matching slippers in pink and purple.

A few minutes later...

Dad: I can't open the paper because it is a doc.x. I don't have .docx on my computer.

Me: No dad - the .docx is my dissertation draft. You need to read the pdf file.

Dad: No. You want me to read the .docx.

Me: No. I want you to read the pdf.

My mother: Why do you ask your dad to do anything?! You know how he complicates everything!

Dad: Well'k (an arabic term - a curse that I will not translate), you want me to read the .docx!


Me: I THINK I KNOW what I want you to read, dad!

(now we are raising our voices - something that middle easterns do - and something I only do when I am at home with my parents. Paul can't handle this mode of communication)

Dad: Can I say something.

Me: Dad...

Dad: Can I say something? (louder)

Me: Fine.

Dad: You told me to read the longer paper. Correct?

Me: (sigh) Yes.

Dad: The longer paper is the .docx file.

Me: NO!

Dad: Well'k the .docx file is 3295 kb and the pdf file is 345 kb.

Me: Well the pdf is longer!

Dad: How can the pdf be longer?!

Me: I don't know! It's only 15 pages and the .docx is 103!

Dad: Well how am I supposed to know that? I go by kb, not pages. The pdf is 3295 kb and the .docx is 345 kb. That tells me the pdf is longer.


Me: (I take a deep breath in). Dad. Maybe the pdf file takes up more kb than the document file


Me: And I didn't know you went by kb.

Dad: Well I do. I go by kb.

Me: Okay. Will you please read the 3000 plus kb?

Dad: Sure. I'll read it.

And THIS is just about opening the file. We haven't even gotten into discussing the contents of the file. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Connection and peace

8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009.

The boys are still sleeping. Paul and I savor an hour and a half of coffee and conversation.

After almost 15 years on hold  - our co-existence is ending. We finally are experiencing connection and peace.

Ahhhh... :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mess, mess, and more mess


I am amazed by the volume of mess my boys can produce on an hourly basis.

Today, I clean up the kitchen while they finish their dinner. Afterward, I get on the family computer (located in the kitchen where we can keep an eye on internet use) for 15 minutes.

I get up, turn around... and the kitchen is a mess again. Dirty dishes piled by the sink, half-eaten cupcakes on the counter, art projects galore on the dinner table and crumbs and crap all over the kitchen floor.

Seriously? Seriously.

20 minutes. And I was right there the entire time!

And the cups... oh my GOD - the CUPS! I wash cups, and put them away and they magically appear again all over the place. These boys must each go through a dozen cups a day. When they run out of cups, they start using coffee mugs... then the wine glasses, then bourbon glasses.

Which - come to think of it... we don't even drink bourbon.

About two years ago I had HAD it with the messes and I took drastic action. I had read about a mother who stripped her kids' bedrooms clean because they did not take care of their stuff.

In a rage - one day when I got home before the rest of them - I took everything... and I mean EVERYTHING out of Evan and Zach's room - dumped it in a pile in the basement -- leaving them with NOTHING but their mattresses.

And you know what they did?

They went down to the basement, dug up a pillow and a blanket and slept on their mattresses without any bedding. And... for the next week, continued to go down to the basement to get what they needed each day. They dug through their piles to get dressed in the morning and find the stuff they wanted to play with.

A week.

So... I had multipled the messes. Two messy piles in the basement and more messes in the bedrooms.

They are talented... very talented.

...and messy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Stuff

This birthday was filled with funny little stories.

It began, as all my birthdays have, with my mother singing happy birthday to me.

By the way, my mother is tone deaf.

She called me at work right at 8 am. I pick up the phone and she goes right into it.

My Mom: Haaaaaaappppeeee buuuuth-day tuuwww-uuuuuu... haaapppeee buth-day tuwwww-uuuuuu... Happpeee buthhh-day deera Chiiiiinnnnnooooo.... (etc, etc)

Chino is my nickname. Has been as long as I can remember. No idea why. All my family members (with the exception of my kids and husband) call me Chino. Even my brother-in-law calls me Chino. My niece and nephew call me Chino. Aunts, uncles, cousins...  My brother didn't even know my name was Najla until like 6th grade.

My brother-in-law calling me Chino kinda bugged me for about 2 years. Then I got over it and now it seems natural. I've decided that when I become a grandma, I will want my grandkids to call me Chino. I mean, Grandma Najla? Ew.


About two minutes later - my trainer called me. He is a great guy - funny as hell. I pick up the phone.

He sings happy birthday to me Marilyn Monroe style. I threaten to put him on speakerphone.

Which reminds me, I did put my mom on speakerphone.

As the day progressed, I got cards, chocolate, AND 24 long stem roses from the hubby. Wow. Who knew turning 42 was such serious business?

Living with five men means lots of talk about body parts and bodily functions and smells like a mixture of maple syrup, urine, stale potato chips and sweat.

But being the lone female in the pack also means being treated like a queen. Especially during birthday week. The festivities began early in the week - with small, daily, handmade gifts from the 6 and 9 year olds.

One day, Ethan ran to me with a package all wrapped up in holiday paper... and lots of Scotch tape.

Ethan:  Mom! This is for your birthday!

Me: Wow! What a pretty present! But it's not my birthday yet, Ethan.

Ethan: I knowed that. But this is your present. Open it!

It took a while to open it. Scotch Tape does not rip easily.

Me: Wow! It's a calculator.

My calculator from the kitchen drawer.

Ethan: Do you love it?

Me: Of course I do.

He kisses me and bounds off to wrap... who knows... maybe the egg beater.

By Monday, I had received at least a dozen drawings, small paper gift bags decorated with tissue paper, handmade envelopes filled with small cut out shapes and people, and letters with "I love you," from the little boys. Seeing their younger brothers lavish me with their handmade projects of love left the older ones promising something "special that I am working on."

In the meantime, three of the four came down with the flu. Also a lovely present.

The evening of my birthday I arrived home and walked into a dark and strangely quiet house.

Two seconds later, the lights come on, the five men jump out and yell "Surprise!" Most of them still in their pajamas.

Evan, 11, accosted me first. He made me a small pillow - one side Green Bay Packers and the other Vikings.

Evan: "I put the Packers on one side because they are NDSU colors."

Made total sense.

Evan: I made this for you to sleep with.


Me: Okay.

Evan: You will?!

Me: Sure!

Paul looks at me like, "Really? Now I have to share you with FIVE pillows?"

I did sleep with Evan's handmade pillow that night and I told him so the next morning. He was beaming.

I was treated to a fantastic Italian meal - and I mean FANTASTIC. The table was all set with candles. I got the special "You are special" red plate which Ethan was quick to point out.

Ethan actually purposely works towards having the "You are special" plate almost nightly. He'll do anything for it. I was surprised he was even willing to let me eat off it.

After dinner came the cake. Eight candles to which Ethan explained, "Mom is eight."

The boys sang an original arrangement rap version of "Happy Birthday" to me. Paul caught that on video which I will have to post soon.

Zach gave me a card that read on the outside, "I love you" and when you opened it read "THIIISSSS MUCH!"

Zach: It reminded me of what we used to play when I was little.

Me: Huh?

Zach: Didn't you use to say, "How much does mommy love you?" And then you and I would put our hands way up in the air and say "Thiiiissss much!"?

Me: Yes. We did.

Zach: So - that's what this card is.

I mean - really. What the heck more could I want in life?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The other night - a feverish little 6-year-old climbed into bed with Paul and I to watch television.

A quick tangent - did you know it is not a great idea to have a TV in your bedroom? Apparently it's bad for your marriage. Paul and I didn't have one in our bedroom for about a year and then - damn it! He bought this awesome umpteen-inch flat screen with high definition. (pause)  I think as long as you have one like that in your bedroom, it's fine for your marriage. 

So, Ethan crawls in and we watch one of his favorite channels - The Food Network. It's airing one of the "challenges" - and it is a pumpkin carving contest.

Ethan: Is that cake?

Paul: No. It's a pumpkin.

Ethan: But is it a cake?

Paul: No, it's a pumpkin.


Ethan: So it's a cake.

Paul: Ethan. No. It's a pumpkin. They are carving a pumpkin.

Ethan: Cake?

Paul (laughing) No Ethan! A pumpkin! Not a cake - a pumpkin!


Ethan: I knowed - but is it a cake?

Oh. My. God. Seriously? 

Me: No Ethan. You know how last year at Halloween we got pumpkins and we cut the top off and scooped out the insides and made a face on it and put a candle in it?

Ethan: Yeah.

Me: That is what they are doing! They are making jack-o-lanterns!


Ethan: Oh!


Ethan: So...


Ethan: It's not a cake?

It must be the fever. Please - let it be the fever.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My 42nd birthday is coming up in a couple days.. and over the last few years I approach birthdays more reflectively. I suppose age does that to you.

My 41st year of life has been the most challenging one I've ever had - Professionally and personally.

I had an feeling it was going to be. I remember watching the big ball drop on New Year's Eve 2008 and thinking to myself, "Najla? You got a hell of a year ahead of you."

I was primarily thinking about all the work that was ahead of me on my comprehensive exam and dissertation... but so many other things happened along the way this year - so many other really big, hard, stressful, emotionally draining things. Holy. The dissertation pales in comparison.

I'm not going to get into all the things that made this year so difficult. But today, as I was trying to sort through it all... and thinking about turning 42... Ethan walks into my bedroom.

Ethan: Mom. Can I take a nap in your bed?

Me: You are taking a nap?

Ethan: Yes. I am tired and sick. I need a nap.

He crawled under the covers, nestled up beside me as I was working (well... sorting through the last 42 years of my life and trying to work on my dissertation. Not a combo that equals success, I know).

He fell asleep in two minutes...

Kids seem to know what they need. They eat when they are hungry, cry when they are hurt, laugh when they are happy, and take naps when they are sick.

So he is lying beside me, looking angelic but sounding like the devil with this awful sounding stuffed-up snore and for some reason it hits me...

We are all great! I'm great! Life is great!

Yeah - it has been a hell of a year and I really don't care to experience it again... but wow. I managed it and I am still here. I'm not only here... but I'm better for it.

And... if this year had happened to me when I was younger - like let's say 5 or 10 years ago - I wouldn't have managed it well. I don't think I could have coped.

Man - do I improve significantly with age or what?

I can't wait for 42.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pee Dance

At about 7 am this morning I was still in bed with the covers pulled up - covering most of my head.

But I see my closet light come on...

hmmm... who is it? Paul? A son?

Then I hear feet... quickly tapping on the carpet back and forth and back and forth... The tapping gets closer and faster... and soon the bathroom light turns on...

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap... little bare feet on the bathroom tile. Ah. I know this sound too well. It is the Pee Dance.

The Pee Dance is the little jig that all my boys have done at one time or another. It's the "Oh my God I gotta get me to the nearest toilet and get my zipper down as fast as possible" dance.

The tapping stops.


I am patiently waiting for the next vital sound. The sound of pee hitting the water in the toilet. This is important for a mother to hear. If she hears it, she knows the target has been hit. If not... there will be a mess to clean up.


I hear... well... kinda the right sound.

Hmmm... he must be a close to the foul line... a little too far over to the left. 

Then it is quiet again. The light goes off in the bathroom and the next thing I hear is some clinking of change in the closet.

What is that child doing in our closet? What is he doing in the coffee can full of change?

The light goes off and a shadow comes up to the foot of the bed.

Ethan: Mom? (he says quietly)

Me: Yes? (I whisper)

Ethan: Can I sweep with you? (yes. he says sweep, not sleep).

Me: Yes.

He climbs onto the bed, tucks himself under the covers and curls up next to me. His arm drapes over my waist and his head snuggled near my neck.

Me: Did you wash your hands?


Ethan: I don't know.

He didn't. Note to self - "I don't know" means no.

Me: Did you pee in the toilet or on mom's floor.

Ethan: No! I didn't get it on the floor.

Me: Oh. Good.


Me: What were you doing with the money from Mommy and Daddy's closet?



He must think I am psychic or something.

Ethan: Well... I just have four monies. Just four. I wanna buy four pencils at school today.

Me: Hmmm... You should ask before you take money from the can.

Little thief. Cute, cuddly, little thief.

Ethan: Mom. I'm wearing my Spongebob pajamas.

Me: Really? Do you love those pajamas?

Ethan: Yes.

Me: I love them too.


Me: Are you my baby?

Ethan: (snuggles closer) Yethh....


Me: Oh good.


Me: I love you.

Ethan: I love you too.

What a fabulous way to be woken up in the morning.


Last night Ethan was sitting at the breakfast bar, finishing his dinner. Zach was sitting next to him. I was loading the dishwasher.

Ethan: Mom! We did science in school today!

Mom: Wow! Science! What did you do?


Ethan: Science.


Me: Yes. I know. You said science. But what kind of science did you do. Did you do a project or activity or something?


Ethan: I don't know.

Zach, still chewing his food, turns and looks at him.


Me: You don't know what you did?

Ethan: No. I don't remember.

Me: Then... how do you know you did science?



Apparently that was a stumper...

Ethan: Mom. We did science. That's all I knowed.

Zach looks at me - smirking.

Zach: He's a bright one... isn't he?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ice cream always helps

It's been an emotionally and physically exhausting week at work for me. It feels like I have lived through a month's worth of experiences in just four days.

After four consecutive 12+ hour work days, I have stumbled into the house each night into the arms of my loving and ever-supportive husband. It is times like these that it's great to be married to someone who understands and appreciates what you do for a living.

My kids have been curious and confused by what has been going on...

Ethan: Why are you always so late! It is bedtime!
Zayd: Do you like work THAT much?
Evan: You look tired mom. You are going to get sick.

And Zach is curious about the politics of academia... and worried about my worries.

Last night I came home - absolutely wiped out and just plopped on my bed in a daze.

Zach: So... are you just going to stay in bed?

Me: Zach. I'm really, really tired. Yes. I am going to stay in bed.


Zach: So... are you depressed or just tired?


Me: I don't know.

Zach: How can't you know?

Me: I can't really think at all right now. I'm just.. blank.

Zach: Well... Are you worried?

Me: Maybe.


He stands there shifting from foot to foot - not sure what to say.

Me: Don't worry Zach - I'm fine. I'm just super tired.

Zach: Well... I don't want you to be worried or depressed or anything.

Me: I know... it's okay. Really. I am fine.


Zach: I know what will make you happy...

Me: What?

Zach: Culver's. Ice cream always helps.

I think he is going to make a fine husband one day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mom's Essence

Zach must be bored today because he's been hanging around me a lot. I'm typing on my comfy chair in the bedroom and he sits on the floor beside me and leans towards me...

Zach: You have a smell...

Oh great. Here we go...

Zach: It's kinda smokey. Like a campfire.

Me: Hummm... maybe it was the steakhouse dad and I went to last night. It's probably still in my hair.


Zach: Yeah.


Zach: But it is kinda mixed with the perfume you always wear.

Me: Oh. Hummm...


Zach: I like it. You smell good. I like the way you smell.


Zach: It's comforting.


This kinda stings.

I have always been very loving towards my boys. I tell them I love them, I hug them, I laugh a lot with them... give them positive feedback... and yes... I am probably a little too soft on them. I can't help it. I'm just an affectionate person who always tries to see the best in people - including my children.

Zachary, my 14-year-old, has been ignoring homework. He's a super-bright kid, but thinks homework (and turning it in) is pointless. So Paul and I really got on his case. He is grounded from friends and his cell phone until the grades go up again.

The other day after I came home from work, Paul pulled me aside.

Paul: You'll have to ask Zach what happened at school today.

Me: Bad or good?

Paul: Good. Really good.

Me: Wow! What happened?!

Paul: I think he'll want to tell you.

So I changed out of my work clothes and found Zach watching television in the family room.

Me: So - tell me what happened at school! I hear you have some great news!

Zach: What news?

Me: Dad said you had some news from school.

Zach: Do we have to talk about it now?

Me: Oh. Okay. That's fine.

I waited... and waited... and waited... no news. Now I was feeling hurt. After about two hours, I finally said to Paul...

Me: Please just tell me the great news. I just want to know.

Paul: He hasn't told you? Okay - so he got the highest grade on the science test today - and his teacher was so impressed, she called him up to the front of the class to brag about him. She said it was clear he was the only one who studied.

Me: Wow. That's awesome! Did Zach seem proud?

Paul: Very.

Me: Well - it obviously doesn't take too much work for him to do well in school.

Paul: Obviously.

So, the night went on and I waited patiently for him to tell me the news himself. My mother came over for a glass of wine... and while I was out of the room, Zach told HER what happened. I found that out later in the evening as we were all sitting together talking.

Now I was really hurt.

Me: Why are you telling everyone about your great news but not me?

Zach: Dad told you. Why do I need to?

Me: Dad told me after I waited two hours for you to tell me... and now you told Nana. Bt not me?

Zach: You already know about it. I got a good grade.

Obviously this wasn't going anywhere. I couldn't figure out why he didn't tell me, or want to tell me... so I dropped it.

Today it came up again.

Me: So what do you think of the new living room look? (We are redoing the living room).

Zach: Why do you always ask my opinion on stuff?

Me: Do you not want me to ask your opinion?

Zach: No! I just want to know why?

Me: Well! Why do you think?!

Zach: I think I know - I just want you to say it!

Me: Because I value your opinion - that's why.

He can't hide his big smile.


Zach: Thanks.


Me: Zach. I want to talk to you about something that really bothered me the other day.  I felt hurt that you told my mom and your dad about your science test accomplishment but you didn't tell me yourself. Why didn't you tell me?


Zach: Because I have your approval.


Zach: I know you are proud of me. You are always proud of me. But Dad... it's hard to get his approval. REALLY hard.


Me: So... because you know I am proud of you, you don't need my approval.

Zach: Kinda... I guess.

I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. Kinda sad that he doesn't feel the need to earn my approval... and kinda happy that he doesn't feel the need to earn my approval.

Maybe I am too soft.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

High Waters

I swore I would never let this happen to one of my sons.

But I did.

I have failed as a mother.

When my oldest was the only child, he was always dressed to the nines. Everything matched... he had cute clothes from Gymboree, Baby Gap... he had sweat suits with the swoosh on it. I loved dressing this kid up. AND... he was cute. Actually, he was a beautiful child.

We'd go out and about together... and I'd see stressed out parents trooping around with a herd of children who looked like ragamuffins... and I'd think to myself - "Never."

One thing that I would often see were boys wearing jeans that were too short, and too tight. "How in the world!" I used to think to myself, "Why can't that poor child's parents spend just an extra five minutes finding something that fit?"

Yesterday I found out.

I looked up at the clock and I had fifteen minutes to round up Ethan and Zayd, get them in their boy scout uniforms and drive to the pack meeting.

Me: Oh my God! BOOOOOYYYYYSSS! We GOTTA GO NOWWW! Get your boy scout shirts on and let's hit the road!

Two bodies tore out of the house and into the garage as I ran upstairs to get what I needed together.

I hop in the car and the boys are already buckled up in the back seat.

Me: Whew! Sorry about that guys! I didn't see the time.

We drive to school and walk into the cafeteria. That's when I see him.


He is wearing jeans that are so tight his zipper is barely hanging together... and they are high waters.

I gasp.

Oh my God! Oh my God!  

Me: Zayd.

Zayd: Yeah?

Me: Zayd. Where did you get those pants?

Zayd: From the closet.

Me: Zayd. Those pants don't fit you. Why are you wearing them?

Zayd: They fit me.

He doesn't even KNOW that they don't fit! This is bad. This is very, very bad.

Me: They look tight. They look uncomfortable. Are they tight on you?

Zayd: Weelll... kinda.

Me: Oh Zayd! I'm so sorry! I didn't know you needed help finding pants to wear! pause Here, untuck your shirt - that will help them feel (and look) not so tight.

He untucks his shirt.

Two seconds later, someone says "T-N-T Zayd!"

I whip around and look at him.

Me: What? I say sharply

Parent: You are going to get in trouble with the pack leader for not keeping your shirt tucked in.

Me: His pants are too tight.... and by the way dude? Get out of my face.

Zayd looks at me in horror and starts tucking his shirt in again.

Me: No! Stop Zayd. It's MY fault you aren't wearing pants that you can tuck a shirt into. NOT yours. Leave it untucked - and dude! Leave my kid alone!

Another parent comes to my defense.

Sane Parent: I'm sure it will be fine. Don't worry about it.

Me: Yes. Thank you.

Insane Parent: Well... He's going to get on you Zayd.

Zayd proceeds to squeeze his shirt in his pants and then I am trying to adjust -- when I see that he is not wearing just his boy scout shirt... but ANOTHER thick nylon basket ball shirt underneath it.

Me: Zayd! Two shirts? Really? No wonder it is so tight. Why don't you go to the bathroom and take off the shirt underneath.

Zayd: No. No. I'm fine.

Me: I'm worried about you - can you even breathe?

Zayd: I'm fine mom. I can breathe.

He can't breathe. I'm sure of it. I see his face turning light bluish. My God! Not only have I failed him in fashion... now I have put his health at risk.

The meeting begins, and we have no time for adjustments. I scan the room. Hummm... all the boys have their shirts tucked in....


And Zayd gets up to walk away... and he looks just like those boys I used to see when I had only one child.

He looked like a goober.

But by God - he is my goober. And he is a handsome goober.

And tonight - I went to the mall and bought him pants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mr. Light on His Feet

Paul, Zach, Ethan and I are the only ones left finishing our dinner tonight.

Zach and Ethan were sitting on the barstools at the breakfast bar and Paul and I were talking. Next thing I know, I see Ethan out of the corner of my eye tumble head first off the bar stool onto the floor.

Me: Oh my God! Ethan!

I rush over and scoop him off the floor and cradle him in my lap.

Ethan: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! (sobbing)

Me: Oh my goodness Ethan! How did that happen? How did you fall out of the stool?

Ethan: Awwwwww!!! I hurted myselfffff!! Owwwwwwwwweeeee! My elboooo!!!!! It's beeding!

Me: Let me see. Let me see. No! Noooo. There is no blood. Just a little scratch.

Ethan: I feel like there is blood!

Me: No - I promise. No blood. See? See? You're okay. You're okay sweetie.

I look up at Paul has his lips squeezed together to keep from laughing. I look over at Zach and he has his mouth on his shoulder - also not to laugh.

I can't believe this! They are laughing at my poor baby who just fell out of a stool! He could have broken his arm! He could have been killed! Okay... maybe not killed.

Paul now is really trying hard not to laugh.

Okay - Yeah. It is pretty funny. I'm not really sure how he managed to fall out of the stool.

I start giggling... So I press my cheek against Ethan's back so he can't see me laughing. 

Zach: Ethan - wow. That's takes talent. I don't think I've ever seen someone fall out of a stool quite like that.


Paul gets up to take his plate to the sink.

Paul: Wanna another Bloody Mary Ethan?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chop Sticks

Tonight the fam went out for Chinese - the kids fav.

Ethan decided to use chop sticks for the first time. The rest of the boys followed his lead.

Ethan actually did really well - got the hang of it right away and ate his entire meal with them.

Me: Ethan! You are doing such a great job! I didn't know you knew how to use chopsticks.

Ethan: I didn't knowed. But today I watched Kung Fu Panda and I learned.