Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Am I a stud?"

I'm at my parents house, working on my diss. (Well, as soon as I finish writing this entry).
They are headed out for the day to do some antiquing in Minnesota.

My mom comes down the stairs wearing a handmade NDSU green sweater.

So - let me explain the sweater. After NDSU's last president resigned, I was in the president's office and the administrative staff were cleaning out things. I notice these two substantial sweaters sitting on top of some boxes. They were really green (NDSU green), really thick, lined, and kinda cool - like 50s retro. The zip-up sweaters have NDSU knitted on the front, and a big bison (our mascot) on the back. The label says it was hand knitted by -- I don't remember.

I asked who owned these sweaters... and they told me I could have them. Right away, I thought - my mom will love these. She'll sell them on eBay for a bundle.

Well - she loved them alright. So much that she wanted them herself - to wear.

Today, she came down the stairs to where I am writing... wearing her sweater.

Mom: Do you see what I am wearing?

Me: Wow! Looks good!

Mom: Don't I look good?

(Her way of saying, "I look really good." - My mother has no self-esteem issues.)

Me: Yes. You look really good.

Mom: I have been waiting for an occasion to wear it.

Me: Oh - people are going to love it!

Mom: Yeah. Maybe they'll give me some respect. Give me good deals.

Me: I'm sure that will happen.


Me: Don't take dad out too long today. I don't want him to be in a bad mood for you.

My mom is always wanting my dad to drive her around on weekends to go antiquing. He gets tired of it sometimes. Then he gets in a bad mood. Then they argue the whole trip. Then they come back and I get to hear about it. From both of them. Today, Dad didn't really want to go -- but I told him it would be better if they left for a while so I could get some work done -- which is kinda a lie, because it is quiet when they are here. But I knew my mom really wanted to go.

Mom: Oh. He isn't in a bad mood anymore. I tickled him.

She says this while giving me a naughty look -- kinda like -- "I used my womanly wiles to get what I wanted" look.


Mom: So don't I look like a stud?

Me: You do look like a stud mom.

Mom: I know.

She starts walking away. As she goes up the stairs she yells to my dad:

Mom: Haaa-saaaan! See! Chino thinks I am a stud now. She says I am a stud.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Papa and Nana come for cake

On Saturday, Ethan and Zayd made a cake for Papa's birthday. I asked my parents to come over later and my dad told me, "Your mom has invited me out to eat. We will come after."

Which means, mom is using "her money" to pay for "his meal." My parents have a very strict relationship when it comes to money. It's pretty easy to follow: There is "his money" and "her money." And you will frequently, if not always, hear whose money paid for what. Such as:

Nana: Ethan! Nana bought you this game! Don't you love it? Now, Nana bought it for you. Not Papa. Nana's money.


Papa: Mayla? Did you give me back my five dollars?

Which he says regularly -- not because my mom owes him five dollars, but because it makes her crazy and because she ALWAYS takes it seriously. After 40 years of marriage, she still takes the bait.

To which my mother will respond:

Nana: Just! You! Get out of my face! I don't owe you five dollars! Gaaaad! You are going senile!

My dad usually starts chuckling to himself.

When my dad laughs, my brother, sister and I usually ask him if "it hurts." His eyes get all squished up and his laugh doesn't come out -- he just starts vibrating... and then the tears run down his face.

Okay. So. They come over, and after kisses, hugs, hellos and such, we all sit down in the sunroom and enjoy cake. Now, put on your seatbelt - if you feel like this conversation jumps around without notice or transitions... it isn't you.

Papa: Your mom invited me to Dolittles

Nana: Yah. I (emphasis on I) invited him. (She beams with pride).

Papa: Yah. Because your mom loves me so much.

He totally said that to egg her on...

Which of course she does...

Nana: Oh yah? Gaaad... No. You don't take me out for my birthday. See how nice I am to you?

He continues to bait her...

Papa: What do you mean I don't take you for your birthday? I do so many things for you!

Nana: Oh. Oh! Yah! No! YOU do so many nice things for me? You are awful! Gaaad. How did I marry you. Only I can live with you.

Now... this may sound like a heartless conversation... but in reality... this is their "love" talk. They go back and forth and back and forth like this regularly.

Despite having grown up listening to this, I think I turned out okay.

My dad beings to start his squishy-eye, vibrating laugh...

Nana: Oh! Now laugh at me! Very good. Very good.

Paul: So I heard you guys went to Minneapolis yesterday?

Papa: Yah. She wanted to go and buy her stuff so I took her to a few places...

My mother has a very successful eBay business selling antique linens. She is an encyclopedia of antique linen information. She has her favorite spots she goes to in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota for her "goods." She manages to find the stuff... then she turns around and sells it on eBay for a bundle. I am always amazed at what  sells. By the way, if you ever tell her you have linens, brace yourself for a new best friend...

Nana: Yah and he is watching me with his beady eyes. Gad. He knows exactly how much I spend. I can't BELIEVE it. He sits and calculates in his head and he knows to the penny how much I spend.

Me: Well, he is WITH you. Why wouldn't he know.

Nana: Oh yah... right. He is calculating.

My dad looks as me and waves his hand like "what am I going to do with her?"

Me: So did you get a lot of stuff?

Nana: Oh yah. I got three... no four... no three quilts...


Nana: Wait a minute. Three? Hassan? How many quilts?

Papa: Three quilts.

Nana: But why was it only $161?

Papa: You got three quilts and then you got the napkins and the other bag of things.

Nana: Something is wrong. Wait. I got four quilts.

Papa: Nothing is wrong.

Nana: Something is wrong.

Papa: How can something be wrong?

Nana: I got three quilts. No. Four. And she gave me 20 percent off the expensive quilt...

Papa: You got THREE quilts...

Nana: No! I got four Hassan. The blue one..

Papa: Yah, the blue one... and the 20 percent off one...

Nana: Wait.

Papa: And the other one...

Nana: Wait. Wait.

Papa: You got three quilts.

Nana: Hassan. NO. I got FOUR. The blue one.

Papa: Okay. (He starts counting them for her with his fingers)

Nana: Then the expensive one...

Papa: Okay that's two.

Nana: Then the shiny one..

A shiny quilt?

Papa: That is three.

Nana: Then the 20 percent off one.

Papa: That is four.


Papa: No. You did not get four. The expensive one is the 20 percent off one.

Nana: Oh... is it?

My dad stops and looks up at the ceiling with his "I'm calculating in my head look."

Papa: Now... hang on.

Nana: See! Something is wrong.

Papa: Hang on. Hang on.


All I know so far is that she bought a blue quilt, an expensive quilt, a 20 percent off quilt and a shiny quilt, she spent $161, and apparently something is wrong with all that.

Nana: But it was only $161. It should have been more.

Oooo... this is going to be good. Not only is there a mystery involving money... but it seems as though it is going to end up in their favor.

Papa: Hang on. The first quilt was $70.

Nana: The blue one?

Papa: No, the expensive one was $70.


Nana: No. No. No. The expensive one was $84, Hassan.

Papa: $84? I didn't know you spent $84 on the expensive one.

Nana: Hassan!

Papa: Okay. So then the blue quilt was how much?

Nana: The blue quilt was $70. But the expensive quilt she gave me 20 percent off.

Papa: Oh... okay so...

Nana: And the shiny quilt was $65.

Papa: Okay...

And you know what? They spent the next 20 minutes going over this. Zach, Paul and I listened... amused. The other boys got bored and went to watch television. I almost pulled out my camera to capture on videotape - because it was classic Nana and Papa. Classic.

What they found out was that the lady had forgotten to charge my mother for one quilt.

Nana: Oh my Gad. What are we going to do?

Papa: Well...

Me: Why don't you call her in the morning?

Nana: I'm not going to call her.

Me: Why not?

Nana: Hassan? What are we going to do?

Papa: We'll call her.

Nana: We'll call her?

Papa: Yah. We'll call her and send her the money.

Nana: Okay. We'll call her...


Nana: How could she forget?

Then they went into how this possibly could have happened which they talked about for another 10 minutes. They decided that it happened because the antique store lady gave my dad a bag she thought she had already rung up. She hadn't.

Mystery solved.

Keep in mind - I have only given you a snippet of the total conversation...

Nana: Okay Chino. We're tired.

Papa: Yah. We are going to bed.

And they got up, more kisses, hugs, and such... put on their coats and left.

Holy crap. I was exhausted and I was just listening.

Ethan the single man

I curled up around Ethan last night as he was falling asleep. My chin resting on the top of his head and my arms wrapped around him.

Ethan: Mom? I don't want to get married.

Me: Oh! Okay sweetie. You don't have to get married.

Ethan: I don't?

Me: Of course not.

Ethan: But then what will I do?

Me: What do you mean?

Ethan: I mean, will I have anything to do?

I had to think for a moment what he meant.

Me: Sweetheart. You don't have to be married to do stuff. You can do anything you want to do, and you do not have to be married.

Ethan: But then who will I live with? I want to live with someone but I don't want to marry them.

Me: Okay. You can live with someone and not be married to them.


Me: Who do you want to live with sweet face?

Ethan: You.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Papa turns 59

When my sister, brother and I were growing up - my father was perpetually 39 years old.

Every single birthday we'd ask him or my mom how old he was and the answer was always the same: 39.

Frankly, I didn't even know what year he was born... and my mom couldn't seem to remember (conveniently) so we couldn't figure out how old he was.

I finally found out his real age when he turned 70. My mom let it slip. Something along the lines of:

Mom: Well you dad's not a young chick anymore... he's 70!

Me: Oh my God! He's 70!


She tells me in her threatening voice...

Mom: Now don't you dare tell him I told you. I'll kill you

Don't be alarmed. That kind of talk was standard growing up. Still is. Must be the Arab in us.

When dad turned 70, he was still a professor at South Dakota State University. I surprised him with a huge bouquet of balloons delivered to his office that said: "40! Finally!"

He liked that.

Today he turns 78. I gave him a call first thing this morning. Now, I'm going to start at the beginning, so you have an idea of how phone calls to my mom and dad's house normally go...

Mom: Hello?

Me: Hi mom! Can I talk to dad?

Mom: Okay.

Then she yells - which apparently my dad is supposed to be hear - but I don't know how that is possible since she is clearly yelling directly into the phone...


No response.

And why would there be? My dad is upstairs, sitting in a room farthest from the basement office that my mom is sitting in. He is probably watching television which is turned up so high that he wouldn't be able to hear the fire alarm go off... Most likely there are three televisions turned on throughout the upstairs level: One in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one in the room that has been officially named the "Chinese Room." Seriously.

Okay - so I'll need to explain the Chinese Room. I think it was originally designed to be a small bedroom just off the kitchen. My mother likes Asian decor. My dad does not. So when they moved to Fargo into this condo... the room became the spot where my mother was allowed to go nuts with her "all things Chinese." Funny - it is the spot where you will almost always find my dad - never my mom.

Which also reminds me of another weird thing. Whenever my dad picks up the phone and then I ask for mom, his response is to say...

Dad: Wait, I'll transfer you.

How can he transfer me? He can't transfer me. It's a home phone line with no transferring.


My mom continues yelling my father's name... but now I can hear that she is slowly moving farther away from the phone. I know she is headed upstairs...

In the meantime...

My father picks up the phone.

Dad: Helllooo?

Me: Hi DAD! It's Chino! Happy Birthday!

Dad: Oooohhhh. Thank you Chino! Thank you very much.

Now I hear my mother's voice coming through on HIS phone. She is still yelling "HA-SAAAANNN!"


My dad completely ignores her yelling. I can't ignore her yelling because it is so loud... but he manages.

Dad: So how are the kiddos? Is everyone okay? How is Paul?

Me: Everyone is fine dad. How are you feeling!

Dad: Oh... I still feel good.

Now it becomes clear that my mother is within eye-shot of dad... and sees that he is on the phone already and that he ignored her yelling... and he made her come up all the stairs for nothing.

Mom: HA-SAN! You are already on the phone and you didn't answer me!? (she is now yelling an angry yell)

Dad: You could hear me pick up the phone when I said hello! You weren't listening!

Which in fact he knows is a lie. He says stuff like that to make her mad. Believe me, I've seen it firsthand enough times to know.

Mom has now shifted into her bitter yell. It takes a slightly different tone. Kinda... well. Bitter.

Mom: Ohhh! Very good! You are lying! As usual! Gaaaaad! You did not pick up the phone when I called you... you are lying!

Dad: Ohhh! You don't know! (he yells back at her - also in my ear).

Then he talks to me.

Dad: It doesn't matter what I do, I do it wrong.

I now can hear my mother continuing to talk in Arabic - to herself... Probably saying something like she can't believe she has survived living with this man for so many years. Her voice slowly fades away from my dad's phone and soon I know I will hear it again on her phone downstairs.


Me: Okay. So. The big question. How old are you?

Dad: Oh! Well... I am 59.

Me: Oh! We're 59 now!

Dad: Well of course. We continue to get older every year. So now I am 59.

I chuckled.

Me: Well - for your 59th we want you to come over for cake.

Dad: No. No cake. No no no no no... no cake.

Me: Dad! You have to!

Dad: No cake. You and the kids eat the cake.

Here's another little tidbit about my dad - he watches his weight meticulously. He goes to the mall every day, three times a day, and walks 2 miles each time. He weighs himself every morning and if his weight moves even a half pound higher, he "diets" by nibbling on cookies he brings home from the bank and Little Debbies that he has hidden in the cupboard over the oven that my mother can't reach.

Cake would just send things over the edge.

Me: Okay then how about this? Let's go tomorrow for breakfast at IHop.

Now I hear my mother's voice again coming closer to her phone. She is still mumbling in Arabic.

Dad: Oh! When do you want to go?

Me: Tomorrow.

Mom hangs up phone.

Dad: Okay - I'll take you and the kids to IHop.

Me: No. We'll take you.

Dad: No no no no no no no. I take you. Otherwise we don't go.

My dad is from the old country. Dad pays for children's meals... and family of children's meals. Even if children are in their 40s.

Me: Fine whatever. So tomorrow.

Dad: Yah. Call me in the morning.

Me: Okay. So... Happy 59th birthday dad!


Me: Bo-say. (followed by the sound of a kiss)

Bo-say is actually Arabic for "kiss" - we never part without saying bo-say to each other. Phone or in person. It is our "I love you." But Dad and I don't just say Bo-say... it has to be followed by the kissing sound. It's in the rules.

Dad: Bo-say. (kiss sound)

I feel this sense of familiarity and comfort rush through my body. They are both so predictable... the yelling into the phone, the bickering in Arabic, the dad has to pay for meals, the Bo-say...

...and the fact that he is 59 years old today.

I hung up with a big lump in my throat.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I lost my temper this morning with my brood.

Well - to be fair - it was Zayd's fault. Anytime I ask him to do the most simple tasks, he digs in his heels for World War III.

When he arrived home from Boy Scout Camp yesterday morning, I asked him to unload his suitcase and throw the dirty clothes down the chute. He responded with:

Zayd: Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!! I DON"T WANT TOOOOOO!

I decided this was not the time to do battle.

This morning I revisited the issue. The suitcase still where he left it.

Me: Zayd.... I need you to...

Zayd: NOOOOOO!!!! I don't want tooooo!!!!


Seriously. My life is too short to deal with 9-year-old tantrums. He has been throwing them since he was 9 months old - not even kidding you. There were times I wanted to give him up. He is THE most stubborn child ever created. But I love him... because behind his extraordinary tenacity, is a loving, insightful, witty boy who will do wonderful things in his life.

Anyways, this time I was ready for battle.

Me: ZAYD. ENOUGH. You WILL do as I ask you to do. I don't CARE if you don't want to. I don't WANT to do 90 percent of what I do in this house. I don't WANT to make your breakfast, I don't WANT to help you with your homework, I don't WANT to wash your clothes, and I don't WANT to deal with your mood. Get over it and DO IT!

He backed off.

Zachary told me recently that he finds me easier than his father to get along with because I don't get angry over "everything." True - I don't get bent out of shape over what I think are trivial matters. Like the time Zach chose to spray paint his bike gold. All of it. Tires, chain, spokes, seat - all of it. In the garage. Right by the white van.

Paul went through the roof. I found it creative and funny.

So I take things in stride for the most part. We have four boys. It is difficult to keep up with the house and laundry and the everything. I figure that is the way it is going to be for a long while - why fight it? I also warn my children before I lose my temper. It usually goes something like this:

Me: (I whisper loudly) I swear to God, if you all don't get up and do what I have asked you to do for the millionth time... I am going to scream so loud that this house is going to shake and you are going to be scared out of your minds.

But, as Zach also pointed out to me -- when I do get mad... I get mad. He said he is more afraid of my temper than his father's because I show it so infrequently. He knows when I get mad I am serious.

This time - at Zayd - I was serious. He knew it. So did Ethan, Evan and Zach. And I wasn't just at the end of my fuse with Zayd - I was at all of them. Their rooms looked like garbage dumps, the house which was GLEAMING just 12 hours ago looked like crap. For example, apparently last night Zayd decided to "make something" in the bathroom. NEVER a good sign. I found aluminum foil and plastic wrap delicately floating in a sink full of water with a paper boat on top covered in scotch tape. Why? Why. I was tired of everyone's grumpy over-tired moods. It was my turn to be grumpy. I barked out my orders.

Me: Zachary, Zayd and Evan - your rooms are pits. I want them cleaned. And I do not want to see them looking like they do now - ANYMORE. That's it. I am sick and tired of it all! CLEAN THEM.
Ethan - you pick up your mess on the kitchen table. If you are going to do art project you need to pick up after yourself. Evan when you are done with your room, you get to clean the kitchen. Zachary, go downstairs and sort the laundry. Zayd - I swear to God if you don't do what I ask you to do you are going to hate your life for the rest of this week.

I stomped into the dining room to work on my dissertation.

And I could hear everyone shift into action mode. I had four men scurrying about the house doing their jobs - AND getting along. They were in this together. They knew if they started fighting there would be hell to pay from their mother.

Evan walks into the dining room with a cup of coffee for me. Zachary asks if there is anything else he can do for me. Ethan keeps showing me what he has accomplished. And Zayd is out of my sight - but he is quiet -- which is all I need from him.

Finally - when all has settled and the boys take me around to show me how good everything looks. I make my announcement.

Me: Boys. Just to warn you. Mom will become increasingly grumpy as the day wears on because I am going to watch what I am eating, I am working on my dissertation, and because you are all home with me today.


Zachary: Well then. There you go. Thanks for the notice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paper Towel Tube I Love Yous

At about 8:30 tonight, I told the three younger boys it was time to go to bed. Evan and Zayd were at camp for two nights, and judging by their mood (and their father who was with them) no one had slept. Since the boys are off of school on Monday, I thought in my best interest to make sure everyone had a good night sleep. I certainly didn't want to deal with sour moods in the morning.

Coaxing them upstairs wasn't easy. Finally everyone had on their pjs and I stopped in my bedroom to drop off a glass of water for myself before going in to tuck them into bed.

I walk into my bedroom to find this carefully positioned on top of my bed:

The note says: Tis is for you mom for valin tims day. Note the arrow - in case I didn't notice the gift.

The gift was a paper towel tube decorated with an elaborate drawing and finished off with a jewel (an old earring of mine). Here's a closer look:

Paul said it thinks it looks like a totem pole.

I can't think of a Valentine's gift more precious than this paper towel tube from my 6-year-old.
Totally unexpected.
Completely heartfelt.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Laughing out loud

Note: NajMania is a year old! Wow. Looking forward to blogging about the year ahead!

I'm at home for the weekend with just my 14 and 6 -year old. The other men are camping.

It's been fun... and they have been funny. So, presenting Zach and Ethan's most fabulous Saturday quotes.

A couple hours after we got home from breakfast at IHop, Zach went upstairs... when he returned...

Zach: What was in that omelet I ate?

Me: I don't know, why?

Zach: Because there are a bunch of rowdy kids on the bus, but the door is stuck.


At the video store as Zach's friend, Alex was helping Ethan pick out a movie...

Ethan: Uhm... can you move away? I need some space.


Ethan has strep (he's on meds)... When he got up in the morning he found Zach relaxing and watching television.

Ethan stopped and just stared at him.

Zach: What? What's wrong?

Ethan: I'M the one who is sick!

(meaning, get off the damn chair and give me the remote. Who the hell do you think you are chillaxing at the television?)


While waiting for Alex at his house, we saw Alex's little brother playing outside - looking rather angry.

Ethan remarks...

Ethan: I think he is that way because the kids at school are mean to him.


On the way home in the car:

Ethan: It seems as though my intestines are...

We all burst our laughing so he didn't finish the sentence.


Ethan: I think my intestines have a monster in them...

IHop apparently did a number on both the boys.


It's only noon. I'm sure there is more to come as the weekend continues.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Green, yellow, red or blue bad?

Ethan says he was only yellow bad today. Which according to him translates into a little good... not a little bad.

Like many grade school children, Ethan's behavior is tracked each day. There are rewards and consequences. In his first grade classroom, they track behavior by color: Green is good, yellow is a step in the wrong direction, red is two steps in the wrong direction... and blue? Well... blue is "very very really really super super bad," says Ethan.

Tonight during our "tuck in time" conversation... it was a yellow day. Or was it red? Or blue?

Me: So how was your day?

Ethan: Welllll... I kinda did something a little not good. But just a really really little not good.

Me: Uh oh. What happened?

Ethan: Welllll... I had to write a fix-it plan.

Me: Wow. What did you have to fix?

Ethan: Mom! A fix it plan? You DON'T know what a fix it plan is?

Me: I know what it is... I want to know what you wrote a fix it plan for...

Ethan: Music.

Me: What happened in music.

Ethan: Welll... Oh. I have an itch. Can you scratch it?

Me: Ethan. Tell me about what happened in music.

Ethan: But it itches so bad!

Me: Ethan. I will leave if you don't tell me.

Ethan: Ohhhhh... wellll... I talked and I moved. A lot.

Me: You talked and you moved.

Ethan: ..and so did Matt...

Me: Right but...

Ethan: and Marshall...

Me: Ethan this is about you...

Ethan: And Louis...

Me: Ethan.

Ethan: What.

Me: I'm not interested in Matt, Marshall or Louis. This is about you. So then what happened?

Ethan: My teacher told me I had to write a fix it plan. But I only got a yellow. I didn't get a blue.

Me: And yellow is okay?

Ethan: Well... yes. A yellow is just a little bad.

Me: So you are okay with getting a yellow?


Ethan: Yes?


Me: But wouldn't it be better to stay on green?

Ethan: Well... but yellow is just a little bad.

Me: That's true.

Ethan: Are you mad?

Me: No. But I'm sure your teacher would prefer you stay on green.

Ethan: Oh.. I itch so bad! I am just itchy itchy!

Me: So what is your fix it plan.

Ethan: I am hungry now. Can I eat.

Me: No. It's bedtime. We aren't going to eat again. Tell me your fix it plan.

Ethan: But my stomach is going to starve. I need to eat.

Me: Ethan. It is time for sleep.

Ethan: ...and I itch.

Me: Ethan!

Ethan: Oookaaay!


Ethan: I wrote down that I talked and moved and I would say sorry to Mrs. Kuntz.

Me: So you apologized to her?

Ethan: No. Not yet. Tomorrow.

...and then he let it slip...

Ethan: Blue's write fix it plans...


Me: What?

Ethan: What?

Me: You said you got a yellow.


Ethan: I did.

Me: But you just said blue's write fix it plans...

Ethan: Uhm... owwww... my leg is hurting from itching...

Me: Ethan! Did you get a blue or a yellow?

Ethan: Yellow!


Ethan: Would you be mad if I got a blue?

Me: I would be mad if I found out you lied to me. I would rather hear from you that you got a blue.

Ethan: I didn't! I got a yellow!

Me: You're sure?

Ethan: Yes!


Ethan: You're mad at me.

Me: No, I'm not mad. And even if I was mad.. I love you. Being mad doesn't mean I don't love you.

Ethan: If I got a blue would you yell at me?

Me: No. I'd be disappointed though.

Ethan: Would dad yell?

Me: Maybe.


Ethan: Ohhhhh.... (sigh).

Me: But I would tell him not to yell.


I am still waiting if we are blue or yellow.

Me: Do I need to check with your teacher about whether you are blue or yellow?

Ethan: No! I got yellow! I'm not lying!

Me: Okay.


Ethan: I think I'm not lying.


Ethan: Am I lying?

Me: How am I supposed to know?

Ethan: Ohhh... I don't know now! I don't know if I am lying!

Me: Ethan. What did your teacher tell you?

Ethan: She told me I got a yellow - but I did a fix it plan.

Me: Then, if she told you yellow - it's yellow.

Ethan: But I don't want you to call her.

Me: Okay. I won't. Now relax and sleep... let's not worry about it okay? It's fine. Thank you for telling me about what happened. I am not angry. I love you.

long pause

I stroke his hair.

He starts squirming... and making noises like somethings hurts...

Me: What's wrong?

Ethan: I - I - I... I just can't get it out of my mouth. I just doesn't want to come out! It's stuck!

Me: What are you talking about? What is stuck in your mouth?

Ethan: Oooooohhhh.. ooooooo... It. Is. Stuck....



Then he stops squirming...

Then he whispers....

Ethan: Blue.

I've got another blog now... holy

I started ANOTHER blog. It will run in tandem with this one.

The Backside of Mania.

I posted an introduction...

The first official story will be coming shortly.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm a spoiled daughter

I admit it.

I am so spoiled. I am 42, have four boys of my own, married for almost 17 years... and am not above letting my parents be my parents and spoil me.

I'm home sick today with strep throat. My throat is on fire, I can't possibly have enough blankets to stay warm, my skin hurts and our cleaning lady is coming in about an hour. I don't want to be there when she is there.

So I called my dad.

Me: Daaaaadddd? (I say this as pitifully as possible).

Dad: Yes Chino! (He is always so upbeat when I call).

Me: Daaaaaaddd? I don't feel good and the cleaning lady is coming and I don't want to be here when she gets here.

Dad: Oh! Okay! Do you want to come?

Me: Yeah.

Dad: Well you need to hurry, we are leaving shortly to the dentist.

Me: Daaaaad?

Dad: What?

Me: Will you come and get me?

How incredibly pitiful is that?

Dad: Oh! Okay. Yeah. I can be there at 9:35ish, 9:40.

9:35 or 9:40?... I'm not going to ask why not 9:30. I'm just not going to do it. 

Me: Okay - I'll just wait by the window. Whenever. 9:35 or 9:40 is fine.

Dad: Or do you want me to come now?

Me: No. You don't have to come now.

Dad: Because I am not dressed.

Then how is he going to come now?

Me: No dad. That's okay. 9:35 or 9:40 is fine.

Dad: Are you sure you don't want me to come now.

Me: No. I'm fine. I need to get some stuff together anyway.

Dad: I am not dressed but I can come and get you.

Me: Dad. No. It's okay.

Dad: Okay Chino. 9:35, 9:40. We'll see you.

So I get my things together. Pillow - check. Tea - check. Splenda - check. Cell phone - check. Computer - check.

He picks me up at exactly 9:35.

I make sure to put my hat on... if he sees me without a hat he'll scold me for not wearing one when I don't feel good.

I climb into the front seat.

Dad: What is that?

He is looking at my pillow.

Me: It's my pillow.

Dad: You're what?

Me: (louder) My pillow.

He laughs.

Dad: We have pillows.

Me: I know. But I need my pillow.

He pulls out of my driveway.

Dad: You look pale. I'll take you to the clinic if you want after we come back from the dentist.

Me: (pitifully) Thanks Dad.

I really want to say - "Thanks Daaaaddddyyyy!"

We get to the house.

Dad: Do you want me to get you anything?


Hmmm... in my head I am thinking McDonald's.... fries and a hamburger....

Dad: Do you want McDonald's?

Me: Okay! That sounds good.

When I was a kid, when my brother, sister or I got sick and felt like eating... Dad would go and get us McDonald's. A hamburger and fries. Something about those fries was very comforting.

I walk into the house and mom is waiting to leave.

Mom: Do you want us to get you anything?

Me: Yeah. Dad already asked. McDonald's.

Mom: Oh my Gaaad! (She laughs at me. She knows I'm being spoiled) Okay. McDonald's.

The house is mine now. My parent's house is the best. They have everything. Yummy food (probably because they don't have kids eating their way through everything)... cozy blankets... comfy furniture...

I make myself some tea, find one of my mother's crocheted blankets, and create a nest for myself on my favorite couch in a sunny room.

It is perfect. I feel better already...

...and guilty.

But not guilty enough to change a single thing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My little nurturer

Ethan is such a nurturer.

Today I am working on my dissertation at the dining room table. He comes in with a big loaf of sandwich bread - the plastic bag it's in is tied in a knot.

Ethan: Mom? Will you please open this for me?

Me: Okay. (I struggle with the knot). Did you tighten the knot Ethan?

Ethan: Yeah.

Me: That's okay. It will just take me a minute to undo it.

As I continue to struggle with the knot (the long nails do not help)... Ethan begins to rub my shoulder with his hand. He says, in a very calm voice...

Ethan: Take it easy mom... just take it easy. There's no reason to fight with it. Just take it easy.

omg - he is so funny.

A little later on he comes in to check on my progress. Again his hand goes to my shoulder... and he begins to rub it and my arm.

Ethan: So! How are you doing on your paper mom? (He asks in a very upbeat voice).

Me: It is coming along very well Ethan - thanks for asking.


He is still rubbing my arm.

Ethan: Uhm... so.... do you need anything?

Me: Ohhh... that's so nice of you to ask me! No. I am fine.


He watches me for a minute.

Ethan: Well okay then. I love you!

He gives me a kiss and off he goes.

What a sweetheart my baby is! I hope he doesn't grow out of it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's a girl!!


Candy had her puppies - NINE of them! Three girls and 6 boys on Feb. 3. We are so excited about our newest addition. More pics to come....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Butt squeeze

Okay. I hesitated sharing this, but then I thought - what the hell. I mean, you all know everything there is to know about my kids. What's another incident?

After I got home from work tonight, I changed into my sweats and went into the kitchen. I'm standing at the counter making myself a sandwich when Ethan comes up next to me.

Ethan: Hi Mom!

Me: Hello sweetie.

And then -- and I don't notice it at first -- like it takes me about 5 seconds before my brain synthesizes what is happening...

I feel a hand on my butt.

It's kinda rubbing my butt.

Then I feel the hand give my butt a squeeze.

I stop working on the sandwich, raise my head, and stare straight ahead into the cupboards.

Yes. Indeed. Ethan's hand is on my butt. I adjust my stance a bit to the right, away from him.

Ethan: How was your day mom?

Me: It was fine...

The hand comes back up to my butt again.

Me: Ethan? What are you doing?

Ethan: Nothing.


Me: Ethan? Get your hand off my butt.

He puts it down.

Ethan: I love you mom!

And off he goes.

Losing your funny

I pulled the car into the garage at 5:30 pm tonight with my passengers Ethan and Zayd.

Ethan bounds out of the car. Zayd doesn't move.

Zayd: Mom?

I turn around.

Me: Yup?

Zayd: I lost my funny today.


He's baiting me. He must be. Why else would he say things like this to me?

Me: What do you mean?

Zayd: I mean I got rid of it. I got rid of my funny.


Me: Uhm... I don't follow you Zayd. I don't know what you are talking about.

Zayd: I stopped being funny today.

Me: Oh. pause. Okay. pause. Was being funny becoming a problem for you?

Zayd: Yes.

He is SO good at only answering the question asked. 

Me: (sigh). Okay. In what way was being funny a problem?

Zayd: I think the kids in school make fun of me because I am funny.


Forget that this is the same kid who went to school with star stickers all over his face. Nooooooo. That couldn't possibly be why the kids at school are making fun of him... 

Me: Hm. I see.


Me: So did it help?

Zayd: Did what help?

Good God.

Me: Did losing your funny help?

Zayd: No.

Me: So now what?

Zayd: (sigh) I don't know. I need to figure that out still.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Facial Decorations

Zayd is an interesting character. I don't understand him. I try hard to just go with his flow... wherever that flow may take us...

This morning - it was facial decorations.

He has his coat and backpack on... ready to go to school. On his face he has star stickers (those little stars you may remember getting on your papers in grade school - yeah. Those).. he has star stickers on each cheek in the shape of a Nike swoosh. Eight star stickers on each cheek - multiple colors -- in the shape of a swoosh.

Me: Zayd. Why do you have those stickers on your cheek?

Zayd: Because I like them.


Seems reasonable. However, in  light of our conversation the night before, as I was putting him to bed - stickers on the face seems unreasonable. Zayd complained that he is made fun of in school -- "by EVERYONE." I told him I found that hard to believe...

But now I'm finding it not so hard...

Me: Are you going to wear those stars to school?

Zayd: Yes. (He says without any facial or vocal expression).


Me: Zayd. Why are you going to school with star stickers on your cheeks?


Zayd: Do I need a reason?

Oookay then.

I mean, where is a mother to go from there? Do I remind him of how he complained that he is teased in school? If I do, I risk quashing his independence and creativity. If I don't say something, I am knowingly letting him face a day of teasing.

I decide to let him be.

After school when I get home from work... the stars are gone. Now he has a mustache - drawn on with black marker.


Me: Where are your stars?

Zayd: I took them off.

Me: Yes. I see that. Why did you take them off?

He looks at me with a "are you seriously that stupid" look.

Zayd: Because I have a mustache now.

Again... I consider my options. I decide to press ahead.

Me: So... when did you take off the stickers...

Zayd: At lunch.

He left the stickers on until lunch. Good God.

Me: Did your teacher say anything?

Zayd: No.

Me: So, why did you take them off at lunch?

Zayd: I put them on my glasses. And then I grew my mustache. I looked like a rock star.

Where the hell is the teacher in all this? She doesn't care that my kid put stickers all over his glasses and sat in class that way? With a mustache!?

Okay - NOW I have to bring up the teasing thing. I mean... really.

Me: Zayd. Yesterday you complained that people are making fun of you all the time. And then you go to school with stars on your face. Did you get mad fun of?


Zayd: Well... Yes. But I knew it was going to happen. It didn't matter because I was prepared.

And there you go. This is our Zayd.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Just when I thought my children couldn't surprise me...

...couldn't shock me...

...couldn't leave me speechless...

they do it.

Tonight Ethan hit a new level.

So, I am having our Tiger Cub den meeting at the house. The project we were working on was making scrapbooks. A couple of the boys didn't have any pictures with them, so I took a few shots of them at the table working with their fellow Tiger Cubs. I walked over to the computer and put the memory stick in the computer to print out some pictures for them to use.

The thumbnails loaded.

And there it was...

A close up shot of a gleaming white butt.


My eyes grew wide. I gasped - and then the rest happened in slow motion.

I whip my head around and see a parent of another Cub Scout coming towards me.

I panic.

How in the hell do I delete this photo!

He steps up behind me.

Me: Hmmmm.... (I say loudly as if I just noticed it). Some of these pictures shouldn't be here.

Damn it! Why can't I delete this thing!

Parent: Ah! I see someone got a hold of a camera!

I am now officially mortified.

Me: Hee hee... yeah. (I laugh uncomfortably).

I finally manage to delete the photo... and then another photo catches my eye...


It is a penis.

Now I have stopped breathing. It's one thing to have a picture of your kid's butt in living white gleaming color on the computer screen in front of you... it's another to have his one-eyed monster staring you in the face.

I managed to click open another picture to cover up the penis picture before the parent saw it.

O.M.G. My mind races. That butt and penis look familiar... which son? Which son? Then it hits me. Ethan had taken the camera a few days ago and disappeared with it for about 15 minutes before I noticed. Wow. The butt and penis belong to Ethan. Man? How did he manage to take that well-focused butt shot by himself? And the penis shot was well-centered too... huh.

The father walks away and then Ethan comes skipping towards me.

Ethan: Are you printing me more pictures to use in my scrapbook mom!?

I click open the thumbnails again.

Me: Whose butt is this?


Ethan: Oh! (he laughs) That's mine!

Me: Who took the picture?

Ethan: I did!


Me: Who does this belong to? (I point to the penis shot).

Ethan: Oh. (not laughing)... that's mine too.

Me: Who took that picture?

Ethan: (more quietly) I did.


Me: (I turn my head slowly towards him and I whisper). You. Are. In. Such. Big. Trouble.

Ethan's eyes grow wide.

Ethan: What?! Why!?

Me: (I whisper more quietly... and more threateningly). Because we do not take pictures of our BUTTS and PENISES.


Me: (whispering) We will talk about this after the meeting.


After the meeting I go upstairs to our bedroom where Paul is watching television.

Paul: The meeting must have gone well! I didn't hear anything.

Me: You are going to take this one.

Paul: Huh?

Me: You aren't going to believe what Ethan did. This tops it all. You get to deal with this one.


Paul: Oh no. What?

Me: So I took some pictures since two of the boys didn't have any to scrapbook with. I loaded them onto the computer... but apparently someone had taken some pictures before me.

Paul: Ooookayyy...

Me: Ethan. Ethan took a picture of his butt and penis!

long pause

Slowly, a smile grows across Paul's face and he bursts out laughing.

Me: Paul!

Paul: Oh my God! (laughing)

Me: He had pulled it out over his pants and took a picture of it. Up close!

Paul: HA!

Me: Paul! Mr. G saw it too!

Paul: Oh God. (more seriously). I hope he didn't think we took them.

Me: Pauuulll! Holy! I hadn't even thought about that!


Me: No. No. He knows we wouldn't do that. Geez Paul. Okay. So you get to talk to him. I'm not dealing with this one.


I bring Ethan upstairs to face his fate.

Paul: Ethan. Look at me. We need to talk to you.

Ethan whimpers.

Paul: Ethan. You mom tells me that you took a picture of your bottom and your penis. Is that true?

Ethan whimpers again and offers the slightest hint of an affirmative nod.

Paul: What you did was naughty. Do you know why that is naughty?

Ethan whimpers more.

Paul: Ethan. Sit up straight and look at dad so I can talk to you. Do you know why that is inappropriate and naughty?

Ethan whimpers and shakes his head no.

Paul: Because. Our penis and our bottom is private. We do not take pictures of our privates for others to see. We do not show other people our privates. Do you understand?

No response. Ethan's face is now on the bed.

Paul: Ethan. Do you understand?

Ethan nods yes.

Paul: Okay. You are not to use the camera anymore. And you are not to use the computer for the next few days.

Ethan: Why! (he whines).

Paul: You are being punished for what you did.

Ethan's eyes are now welling up with tears and he is trying so hard to not cry.

Ethan: I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm really really sorry!

Paul: Good. I am glad you are sorry. But this will remind you not to do something like that again.
Now go and put on your pajamas and brush your teeth.


Then, he loses it. Ethan's tears come pouring down and he runs out of the room crying.

I stand and look at Paul.

Me: Paul. What is next? What are they going to do next? I thought I had seen it all. You'd think with the last son, by now we would have seen it all.

Paul: Oh... I think this last one is going to be a doozy.