Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weird, weirder, weirdest

I pick up Ethan and Zayd from the after-school program and Zayd is upset by a kid named...

Zayd: Armand.

Me: Armand?

Zayd: Yes. And that is really his name. ARM-AND.

So Zayd's upset by Armand because Armand apparently butted in during Zayd's turn to be the pitcher in kickball. Armand also had the gall to ram into Zayd when Armand was clearly out... leaving Zayd with a skinned knee.

Me: Did you cry?

Zayd: No!


Zayd: (voice choking up) But I wanted to! It hurt!

Anyways... Not only does Armand have the nerve to be an aggressive cheating kickball player, BUT...

Zayd: He's weird.


Zayd: Weirder than ME!


Zayd: And THAT's pretty weird!


Zayd: 'Cause I'm really weird!

At that point of the monologue, I was just trying to memorize what he said so I could blog it... 

Zayd: And I don't want him to be that weird!

long pause

Zayd: Because I want the be the weirdest.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

North Dakota

I've been meaning to post this. My 12-year-old, Evan, won 1st place at the North Dakota State Fair for his poem on North Dakota. (And $30 - which was VERY exciting)

North Dakota
by Evan Amundson

North Dakota, Oh, North Dakota
With you lush fields of emerald green,
And bone chilling winters which I know will soon pass.

North Dakota, Oh, North Dakota,
With you old towns of the West,
The future for you will always be headed for the best.

North Dakota, Oh, North Dakota,
With your monstrous floods within,
Mad, or calm, you are our home.

So, take my hand, and dance around,
Although you make not a sound,
You are our faithful home.

Morning to night,
We shall not part,
You will be our everlasting home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today I was reminded about privates...
... private parts that is.

A friend of mine posted on her FB page that her youngster had referred to their privates as "private. party. parts." This made me laugh.

And it reminded me that when the boys were much younger -  I referred to their boy parts as their "action-packs."

I have no idea where that came from. I occasionally still use the phrase and my boys ridicule me for it.

Granted - the action pack really consists of many parts...
Okay well a couple...
.. maybe three?
I guess it depends on how you choose to divide it all up.

But their choice of words to describe their penis and testicles are not (in my opinion) a step up from mine. They refer to their privates as "nuts," "gonads," and "rods"... I mean...please. Isn't action-pack much more refined?

So I can't call it their action-pack. NOR can I refer to their action-packs using their proper names...because they laugh at me when I do that too.

What to call them has become an issue because apparently as boys get older... stuff happens to their action-packs. Stuff that I don't know ANYTHING about because - as they seem to regularly forget...

I don't have one.

So when they come to talk to me about their action-pack issues...

I think to myself: "Do I LOOK like I have a penis?"


Paul and I have had the following conversation a couple of days ago. We have had several conversations similar to this in the past several weeks. It's an epidemic.

Paul: "insert son name here" said that "insert issue here."


Me: Is that normal? I mean, is that what it does?

Paul: I don't know.


Me: What do you mean you don't know. How can you not know? You have one.

Paul: Yeah.. but I don't remember.

My eyes narrow.

Me: You don't remember. How can that be? I mean.. they are kinda important aren't they?

Paul: Well... I don't think it ever happened to me.

Me: Oh my God. Well...  did you look at it?

Paul: NO!

Me: Well why the hell not!

Paul: Najla. I don't think he wants me to look at it.

Me: Who cares what he wants. If something is wrong with it... someone needs to look at it. I mean, if it isn't  you, it's going to be a doctor!

Paul: Najla. He will be fine.

I had no idea that action-packs were self-healing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nana's Big Project

I started writing this post on May 31 -  but got so overwhelmed with it, I had to stop. There was TOO many things to write about. I have come to realize that "Nana's Big Project" is a book - or at least a handful of posts....

So - as I mentioned in a previous post about the end of this project - Nana has been itching for years to paint a big bedroom and adjoining bathroom, and another small bathroom in their condo -- all covered in wallpaper.

But Papa didn't want that done.

So when Papa leaves for a 3-week trip to the middle east, Nana decides the rooms need to get done now.  I check the wallpaper to see how hard it will be -- it is obvious the wallpaper wasn't put up properly and it is going to be a pain to get it off.

Nana decides that the solution is to paint over the wallpaper.

Me: No.

Nana: Oh come on Chino. It's good! The wallpaper is smooth! No one will see it!

Me: No. No. No. You cannot paint over the wallpaper Mom. I won't let you. It will look crappy and if you ever want to fix it, it will be an even bigger pain.

Believe me - I am all about taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are good. But when it comes to home improvement projects shortcuts are bad. Very very bad. I owe this perspective of course to my sensible husband who does not take shortcuts on anything... and once convinced me that we had to scrub the old masonite siding on our home with a brush and soapy water before we could paint it.

Nana: (looking pitifully at me) Well, who is going to take the paper down? You dad is coming in a week!

I know the answer to this question. I no longer have a dissertation to write as an excuse.

Me: Mom - I don't think you know what a pain taking down this wallpaper is. It is not fun and it is going to be a huge mess. Plus, the walls will probably have to be patched or textured. I mean, I can paint everything once the paper is down, but I really REALLY don't want to take down this wallpaper.

Nana: So we can't do it?

Me: I think we should get an estimate. I don't know that I can get it all done in a week during the evenings. So let me call a few places and we'll see.

We get an estimate.$1600 to take down the wallpaper, texture and paint only two rooms.  Mom says it is too much. My sensible husband who has never hired anyone to do anything thinks it is too much...

So I am guilted into doing it for her.

Paul: I'm not tearing down wallpaper. Don't ask me to. I won't do it.

Of course he won't. Why should he? She's my mother. Plus, he has done countless home improvement projects for me... Plus...

And he knows this will be hell.

Me: I'll do it. I'll ask the kids to help. It will be good for them to work.

It took six of us two full days to get the wallpaper down from two rooms. Six people working from 7 am to 10 pm. That is what a bitch this was. And I've taken down lots of wallpaper - so I'm not an amateur or anything. But it was awful. AWFUL. The people who had put it up, put it right on the drywall. Right on it. No plaster on the drywall, no primer on the drywall... nothin'. Just drywall. So you can just about imagine the mess. We did a good job of not damaging the walls too much - but then I had to spend half a day applying plaster all over the bathroom walls (yes, with a trowel and all).... and then we had to wait a day to sand it all down. We hadn't even started on putting plaster to fix the bedroom walls...

So I tell my mother...

Me: Mom, we are just going to do this bedroom and bathroom and leave the upstairs bathroom for another time. If we need to get it done before Dad comes home, there is no way we can get it all done. Okay?

Nana: Yah yah! Of course! I didn't know it would be so hard! Oh my Gad! I am so tired!

So what happens?

I come over the next morning to find her looking like death warmed over. She comes limping to the front door, hunched over....

Nana: Oh my Gad... I am so tired! I was working all night! I think I am going to die... Oh my Gad... I am so tired...

Me: Why?! What were you doing?!

Nana: Come see. Come see!

She brings me into the upstairs bathroom.


Nana: See! (She says with pride). See! I took down all the wallpaper by myself! It was so easy! They did this bathroom the right way. See how smooth the walls are!?

I stand there - speechless...

I am ready to cry.

Me: Mom! That's not the wall. That's not the drywall mom! That's is the paper backing on the wallpaper. We still have to take that off!


She looks at me shocked.

Nana: Noooo! It IS the wall. I took it all down! You are WRONG Chino (she says as she feels the wall)... You are wrong. THIS is the wall... come see. COME SEE!

Me: I grab a spray bottle of water, soak a small section and then use my fingernail. The next layer peels (grudgingly) off.

Nana: Oh my GAD! Oh my GAAAD!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE it! I CANNOT believe it. Ohh... I am so tired! My GAD! My bones are aching! I worked so hard!

I am standing there trying to contain my frustration.

Me: Mom (I say in a pleading voice). Mom. Why did you start another room? I said let's try to finish the other two first and I told you I would help you do this after we finished downstairs.

Nana: I didn't know! I didn't KNOW!

And exactly what does that mean? "I didn't know."  I didn't know what you said? I didn't know if I could believe you? I didn't know that you knew what you were talking about? I didn't know it was going to be that hard to take down wallpaper from THREE rooms!

Me: Mom. Just leave this - please? Please? You look tired and you shouldn't be up all night doing this. You're going to get sick or hurt yourself. Just go lie down and let me take care of this.

Nana: And I was SO dizzy! I was standing on the toilet (which she pronounces "tw-wall-let") looking up and I was so dizzy! For HOURS I was standing on the tw-wall-et! Oh my Gad... I cannot believe this.

Me: Yes, that's why you should lie down. No more. No more working. You sit and let me finish this.

Nana: And I was so tired. This is so hard. I can't believe how hard I have worked. I have worked so hard!

Really? Really mom? YOU have worked so hard? Why do I want to scream?

After she rested for about an hour, she found me in the downstairs bathroom, covered in plaster dust working to sand the walls down smooth.

Nana: Oh! You are almost finished!

A scream would really help me right now.

Me: No mom. We are not almost finished. After we sand this, we need to prime the walls. Wait for the primer to dry, then we can paint them. THEN we can replace your vanity.


Nana: Oh, so did you already finish the upstairs bathroom?


Me: No mom. I haven't done that yet. I am still working on this bathroom. We still have to finish the other bedroom too.


Nana: I didn't know it would be so hard.

Me: Yeah. Stuff like this is hard.


Nana: Okay - let's hire someone. I don't care how much it costs... let's just do it.

Now. Now we are going to hire someone.

Me: It's going to cost a lot mom. The walls are really in bad shape. They will have to repair the walls and still remove the rest of the paper upstairs and...

Nana: Okay... I know. Whatever.

So - I make a call back to the guy who gave us the original estimate. The new one is less... but not much.

They finish the rest of the damn project in two days -- paint and all!

Nana: I should have had them do it from the beginning.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Morning glory

I am half asleep early Saturday morning lying snuggled in our bed... so peaceful... so happy...
When from the hallway I hear Zayd beckoning:

Zayd: Eeeethan.

no response

Zayd: (a little louder) Eeeeethan!

no response

Zayd: (same volume, more intense) Eeeeethan!

From further in the distance I hear the voice of Ethan, who sounds like he too was lying all snuggled comfortably in his bed half asleep...

Ethan: What.

I open my eyes and see the digital clock: 6:30 a.m.

Zayd: Eeeeethan!

Ethan: What!

Zayd: Will you get me some toilet paper please?


Zayd: Ethan?


Ethan: no.

Zayd: Eeeethan! Please! I need some toilet paper!


Ethan: No. I'm sleeping.

Zayd: I would get you some...


Ethan: No. You wouldn't.

He's right about that.

I climb out of our warm, peaceful, snuggley bed to get some toilet paper for Zayd - because women understand what an issue the absence of toilet paper is...

I walk out into the hallway, still groggy, to find Ethan -- now prancing -- outside the open bathroom door in his underwear.

Zayd: Ethan! Just get me toilet paper and stop looking at me!

And I got up for this.

Me: Ethan. Give your brother the toilet paper. (I hand him the roll).

Ethan continues to prance.

Ethan: Mom! You're awake!

Me: Ethan. Give your brother the toilet paper.

Ethan continues to prance - now prancing with the roll of toilet paper in his hands.

Ethan: Why are you up mom?

He has no clue how lucky he is that he is so damn cute...

Ethan: I was going to get Zayd toilet paper.

By prancing in blue camo undies to the toilet paper gods?

Zayd: ETHAN! Give me the toilet paper!

Me: Give it to him please.

I would give it to him, but Zayd is at that age when he doesn't particularly want his mother coming in while he is in the bathroom...

Ethan: (still prancing... but now prancing into the bathroom) I was going to give it to you!

I turn around and head back into my bedroom.

Ethan: Where are you going mom!


Ethan: Are you awake now Mom!? 'Cause remember, it's a stay-at-home day!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Najla: Cold-blooded killer.

Me: I had the weirdest dream last night about us. We were staying in this shack by the coast somewhere and there was a hurricane coming and...

Paul cuts me off.

Paul: I had a dream you killed two people.


Me: What!

Paul: Yeah - it was weird. We were in the car - and you were driving and we went to some farmhouse in Dilworth...

Me: Dilworth? Why Dilworth?

Paul: I don't know... so we get to this farmhouse and you say, "Stay right here," and then you get out of the car and like beat two people to death. Then you get back in the car and drive away...


Me: uhhhh...

Paul: And you had no issue with it at all! You were totally sure that no one was going to catch you and that you had it all planned out. And I wasn't so sure but you kept telling me not to worry...

I cut Paul off.

Me: I am a little worried that you would dream about me doing that.

Paul: Yeah. It was weird.

Me: So... what does that say about how you think of me? I mean, do you think I'm like violent or something?

Paul: I don't know?

Me: What do you mean "you don't know?" That doesn't sound very reassuring!

Paul: Well (he starts laughing)... It WAS very weird... I can't figure out why you killed those two people... and why you were so cool about it - and in fact you were so not worried, that I was really worried about myself!


Me: Okay. I don't even know what to say. I can't believe you dreamed that I would kill anyone - let alone two people.

Paul: Maybe I am scared of you (He smirks)...


I roll my eyes.

Me: ANYWAYS... let me tell you about my hurricane dream... So we were in this shack with your sister's family and I had to go to Fleet Farm and buy wet suits of all of us to keep warm if we were going to get flooded.


Paul: That's weird.


Paul: But did you kill anyone?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cello talk

Zayd: I really want to play the cello.

Me: Why the cello?

Zayd: Because I like the sound.

Me: Oh... I do too.


Me: But there are two things you need to know. I don't want World War III to start between you and your dad. So - first, you need to practice. And second, you cannot complain that it is heavy and you don't want to carry it on the bus.

Zayd: Why are you bringing up all the negative things?

Me: These aren't negative things. These are things that I know your dad will get on you about. And I don't want to be in the middle. He will get irritated if we rent a cello and you don't practice and he'll get irritated if you complain about carrying it around. If you will promise to practice and not complain about how big it is... you'll be fine. Then I'll be fine.

Zayd: Well... I feel as though you don't want me to play the cello because you keep bringing up negative things.

He feels as though? Are we having one of those "I feel, you feel" adult conversations? Wow.. and he hasn't even gone through marriage counseling yet...

Me: I want you to play the cello Zayd. I love the sound. I think it is a beautiful instrument and I'm thrilled you are interested in it. I'm trying to help you by preparing you...


Zayd: But why do you seem angry?


Me: I'm angry?

Zayd: You don't like the cello.


Me: Uhm... I just said I like the cello.

Zayd: But you are bringing up all these negative things...

Me: I think you may be misunderstanding me. I know you. You get stubborn and your dad and I don't want to fight with you about practicing. So, I am thrilled you are interested in playing the cello - I just want you to understand that we will expect you to practice it.


Zayd: I'll have to put it in my schedule.

Me: I didn't realize your schedule was so booked.

Zayd: (snort-laugh)

Me: So... You can try out the cello. We'll rent one and if you like it we'll stick with it.

Zayd: And...

Me: And what?

Zayd: Then if I like it what will happen?


Me: Well... we'll buy one for you.


Zayd: Wow.


Zayd: Buy is a strong word.