Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Five minutes

I knew it was dicey when I walked upstairs. Five minutes. That's all I needed. That's all it took.

Amelia whined briefly as I walked back down the stairs. I sigh. What now? "What's going on, girls?"

"I fell under the table," says The Amelia.

Well if you'd stop standing on the chairs, I think to myself as I round the corner into the dining room. Hmmmm. I should have a child under the table and a child sitting at the table. Where is the latter? Giggles float up from under my husband's great-grandmother's table.

Oh, please no. My calm self says to my panicked self, "They're washable markers. We're not THAT stupid." I brace for the worst and notice that no markers remain beside the open Dora coloring books. 

Amelia says, "Do it 'gain, 'Ginia." Explosion of giggles.

Virginia then says to me, "Mom, Amelia has stripes on her face!"

This post is for Uncle Dave. And I'm convinced the material is a gift from Aunt Ginger, just to make him smile. Thanks for reading, Uncle Dave. I love you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That Mom, in the pantry, with the soup pot

Warning: Faint of heart need not read further. Also, please don't barrage me with animal rights comments. Thanks.

I turned around and saw my children staring at me with saucer-sized eyes from the dining room table. They were no longer interested in their food. And though they didn't bare intimate witness to what had just happened, Virginia articulated her grasp of the situation with three words.

But wait. I should back up. It's been a while since we've had a chance to chat. I'll give you the Cliff Notes of the pre-quel.

"We have a mouse," he said with a look of total disgust. "It's eating Madison's dog food." I bought mousetraps for him. He couldn't figure out how to set them said they were defective. I silently left the mouse murders to my husband, who shall handle all things unappealling, but who also silently leaves all things that must be purchased (except beer) to me. Spousal Mexican standoff. Until he saw The Rodent. It's big and fat, he said. He revoked my purchasing power and bought proper traps and a plastic container for the dog food. We are confident the problem is solved.

Rookies. They're going to go look for food elsewghere. That elsewhere would be my pantry. Boxes of pasta and hot chocolate mix and dried cranberries were knocked over and gnawwed on in the night.

Now I'm angry. A mouse in the sunroom is basically like a mouse on the deck or something. Obnoxious, but not gross. A mouse in my pantry, nibbling on food that I fix for my family? Gross. And awfully bold. The Hubs sets a trap in the pantry before he leaves for work. The girls and I promptly leave the house for some rodent-free play time and then grocery shopping. We return close to lunchtime.

I see, peeking out from behind the onion box in my pantry, an overturned mousetrap and the tip of a tail. Dude. Gross.

Then, the tail moved. Pretty sure I cussed.

I grabbed the girls and their lunch and put them at the dining room table, hoping the food would distract them long enough to let me scoop up the trapped mouse and take him outside. It's important (to me) that I explain that one cannot see into the pantry from the dining room table. However, one certainly can hear what happens, as our home is the size of a tissue box.

I grabbed the first two things I could find. A broom and a stockpot. Into the pantry I went. Holy geeze. That's a big mouse. That's a big mouse just laying there in my pantry beside my white chocolate candy coating (of the popcorn debacle post) like he's gorged himself into a food coma and has every right to take a power nap on my pantry floor. And he's not caught in the trap. My plan of sweeping an immobile, mostly dead rodent into an old stockpot goes out the pantry window.

I'm not proud of what happened next, but I couldn't let him get away. And the AUDACITY of the thing to power nap there in the light of day, surrounded by all the evidence, unashamed and unafraid of any consequence... I'll spare the play by play. I will say I personally re-enacted a scene from The Patriot. You know, the one where Mel goes to get his kidnapped oldest son and goes totally nutso hacking a redcoat to death. I did it with a broomstick and a soup pot. Also, I wasn't covered in blood.

So, I come around the corner, still in my rodent whacking daze, and see the girls, wide eyed and mouths open, their little brains trying to comprehend what had just happened. I'm instantly mortified. I remember standing in the middle of the kitchen, staring back at them, wondering how in the world I could say, "Mommy had to kill a mouse." They don't even know what that means. Then, Virginia summed it all up.

"That fucking mouse." Didn't I write a post about a cat I couldn't stand?

Later that day, I'm talking to my friend Carrie (also, ironically, of the Mom v. Popcorn debacle). She says, "Kelly, are you sure it wasn't a rat?" This is where we go from a gross situation to S.A.F.U. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mom v. popcorn

Tonight, we're taking the girls to the Gardenfest of Lights. If you're from these parts, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not from these parts, you'd probably figure that it's some sort of Christmas light extravaganza in a garden somewhere. And you'd be right.

I'm packing us a picnic dinner, and I thought to myself, "Hey, I should pack us some sort of special snacky something." My friend Carrie's voice popped into my head, poetically describing white chocolate popcorn the way some describe wine. Mmmmmm. Yes. Salty sweet goodness to munch on while sipping hot chocolate and meandering through magically lit flora and fauna. That's the way I saw it in my mind's eye.

So, standing there in the big box store in front of all the popcorn, another voice pops into my head. I heard the reporter from Sunday's 60 Minutes segment called The Flavorists. These folks concoct chemicals that companies add to food to make it taste sweeter or citrusy-er or chocolatey-er so that you, sucker consumer, continue to buy the product. I stood there in front of the processed, pre-packaged popcorn thinking about what kind of fake butter flavor was in each different kind of popcorn. This project began to lose it's appeal. Then, I saw this.

One ingredient: popping corn. The directions sounded simple enough. Heat oil. Drop in a kernel. When it pops, add lots more kernels. The end. Did I mention it was cheaper? Significantly so. I bought it.

After I'd put the girls down for their nap and done some dishes, I decided now's as good a time as any. Best do this while they're asleep and I can work in peace. Out of the cabinet comes my favorite silver frying pan. Out of the pantry comes the vegetable oil. The directions said to cover the pan by an eighth of an inch. Done. Medium high heat. Done.

Now, we wait. I scanned facebook and amazon until I heard some cracklin' and sizzlin'. Open bag. Grab single kernel. Toss in oil.

Nothing happens. Hmmm. Must not be hot enough. I have a moment of clarity here. I think ahead long enough to grab a cookie sheet to place over the two right burners I wasn't using, and a small plate over the baby burner behind my favorite, silver fryer. Just in case the oil spashes a little like bacon grease or something.

That kernel was still just sitting there. I imagined it was getting pretty soggy from the grease and just wasn't going to pop now. I turned back towards the computer to give the oil a bit longer to heat up.


Gasp! It worked! That little guy popped himself right out of the oil and landed on the counter beside my stove. I picked him up and looked at him. Looked normal. Smelled normal. Didn't feel greasy at all. Then, I ate it. Not bad, not bad. Alright. Time to get down to business. As per the bags instructions, I covered the bottom of the pan with kernels.

It took about ten seconds for it to start popping and for me to realize I was in trouble. As each kernel popped, it flung hot oil out in a little trail behind it. A white comet of popcorn and hot oil. Who knows how many kernels were in that pan. Enough to cover the whole dang thing.

Oil landed on my arm as I reach for the pieces landing on the stove. It smarts. Like bacon grease or something. As I pull my shirt sleeves down to protect my arms, the kernels start popping in rapid succession.


Pieces are landing everywhere, even the floor. I bend down to pick them up, and firey little trails of grease land on the part of my hair and the small of my back. The floor is becoming a a bit slick. I stand up. Oil is splattered all over the stove and the counter.

Here comes another moment of clarity. I somehow think through the popping and spitting grease to grab my colander and I slam it upside down on the pan in an attempt to contain those little suckers. That's where the clarity stops. I just stand there staring at the pan and blue plastic colander, wondering when in the world all those kernels will be done.


It seemed like it would never, ever stop. The popcorn stayed contained, but the grease. The grease! It was everywhere. I finally grabbed the handle of the pan and took it off the burner and set it on the cookie sheet (thank goodness for the cookie sheet!). And still, it kept on popping.

When the popping finally (FINALLY!) stopped, my eyes landed on the wall behind my stove. My house was built in 1904, so there's no backsplash. Just wall. Look closely at the picture above. See all those grease spots? None of them existed before today. My husband will notice. My husband who doesn't do a darn thing in the kitchen will notice those grease spots and ask what happened. How will I explain this?

How will I get all this vegetable oil off the floor? And my Keurig? Oh, my poor Keurig. I'm sorry, Keurig. I love you.

And that's where we are, folks. I'm typing this at my kitchen island, staring at the mess. That greasy, popcorny mess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Well how 'bout that

I quit smoking nine months ago. Can you believe it? It's almost like that part of me never existed. Except that it did. The really unbelievable thing about this day is that being a non-smoker is totally irrelevant.

Today I found out I have skin cancer. Isn't that funny? Not funny "ha ha." But certainly funny in the well-of-course-why-not kind of way.

Just so I'm clear, I do not have melanoma. It's basal cell carcinoma. "It's the most common form of skin cancer," the nurse said to me over the phone. My innards aren't being rapidly chewed away my this thing. Just slowly decaying. My handy dandy pamphlet from my super duper dermotologist says that it rarely spreads to other areas of the body, but that it can damage surrounding tissue. It specifically mentioned eyes. As in, this stuff growing in the general vacinity of my face could lead to loss of an eye. Why do they put stuff like that in a take-home information packet?

So, it's kind of thrown me off. And trying to form a coherent reason as to why I'm so bothered has proven difficult. It seems pretty silly to get all worked up over a cancer that's not really a cancer in the way we typically think about cancer. I should be extraordinarily thankful that this isn't melanoma. I should be happy. And I am. Kind of.

I also feel like I've gotten away with something. Or, like the worst is yet to come. I smoked. A lot. For a long time. I'm trully ashamed at the reckless way I went about life. As if my life would always be mine to do with as I pleased and that being a mother was for other people and I'd never have to answer for any of my actions.

As it turns out, being a mother wasn't just for other people. Maybe I just became one of the "other," grown-up, people. Whatever the case, my life isn't only mine. It also belongs to my children. What if, one day, I have to look my children in the eyes and tell them I have lung cancer? Ugh. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I feel guilty for something that may never happen.

CLEARLY, I need to work on forgiving myself.

I've been writing this post for 23 days. It's been a month since posting anything. This stupid little spot on the side of my neck has taken up enough of my time. It's cancer. I'm not dying. They'll cut it out after the new year. I can't beat myself up over the past. I quit smoking and that is awesome. Amazing. So, I'm done obsessing over this. I will hit the post button, and move on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"All by myself!"

She's so proud that I don't have the heart to tell her they're backwards. She can channel Kris Kross until our next potty break.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Shaming

I don't like cats. They're aloof and slightly neurotic and I don't trust them. I'm sorry. I don't. Stop reading if it offends your feline fanaticism. I will say, no animal was harmed in the typing of this blog entry. Or ever in my life, except for that mouse that Carrie and I smooshed in a frantic attempt to catch and release it. (Yes, I get it. A cat would have been handy.)

So, there's this orange striped tiger cat that roams our neighborhood. I frequently find it on our fence, on the bumper of my Explorer, and even on my porch swing. When I spot it, I'm quick to shoo the thing away. My husband doesn't understand. Especially when I mumble, "That f*#!ing cat," under my breath.

"Have you seen a mouse since we moved in, Babe? You better start thanking that cat," he says. Humph.

A few weeks ago, the girls and I were loading into the Explorer on our way to where ever we were going. I turned the corner, baby in my arms, to find that cat laying in my hostas. Without thinking, I lunged towards it and it took off running.

Now my hostas! The porch is no longer suffient? Oh! The nerve of that cat! And who does it belong to anyway? All these thoughts run through my mind as I strap the baby in her carseat.

"Come here, Virginia. It's your turn. Let's get in the truck so we can go on a trip." She skips over to me, reaches her hands up, and as I lift her into her seat, do you know what she says to me? Straight out of the mouth of my precious child:

"That f*#!ing cat."

Just as sweet as can be. Her face turned towards me, blue eyes sparkling in the morning sun, and her perfect little mouth smiling in weird juxtaposition to her language. I was stunned "What did you just say?" I asked out of disbelief. And there it was again.

An announcer appeared behind me, dressed in a tux and holding a microphone. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the Mother of the Year Award goes to...." I felt the hot, white spotlight of my daughter's innocent and unblinking blue eyes.

She just stared at me, expectantly. As if she finally found a way to make me see her as a grown-up and now we could talk about the deficit and Afghanistan over a glass of pinot. Mortified doesn't do the embarrassment justice. Nothing can.

I quickly scolded her (because she is the one who needs scolding) and poured myself into the driver's seat. That cat sat under our neighbor's walnut tree as I pulled down the driveway. It watched me. We cut eyes at each other as I put the truck in drive and pulled away. I was too indignant to say it out loud.

Thank you, cat, for teaching me a lesson.

And Babe, you were right. (Oooooh! That one hurts!)

Further proof we're unfit parents:

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