Laughing Mama's Blog

My inner monologue with myself inside my head put in this blog out in the open for everybody to read.

Proper place settings and mating season (AKA: “Does Cotillion have a handicap like in golf?”) September 21, 2011

Filed under: Humor,kids,Life — laughingmama @ 4:26 pm
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Several months ago we got an invitation in the mail. The envelope was hand addressed but not by any hand I recognized. I opened it expecting it to be an insurance quote or something equally solicitous. Instead it was a formal invitation for our daughter to join the local chapter of the National League of Junior Cotillions. After I collected myself from the spontaneous laughter I burst into, I read further and tried to keep an open mind. See, we are not “Cotillion people” in the stereotypical sense of the word. I’m not a Southern Belle (I was born a Yankee), my outward demeanor has never once been described as “graceful” (lumberjack-y and awkward would be more fitting), and we don’t belong to a country club (we’d rather be camped out in the infield during a NASCAR race swilling Bud Light). However, after going through the description of the program, I began to see its merits. Not that the Foxtrot or Waltz have any real relevance in today’s society other than being a fun activity, but after sitting across from two children who eat dinner like cavemen, a lesson in table manners from someone other than me sounded pretty darn good. When my husband came home that night he took a cursory glance at the invitation and threw it in the trash. As he and I began to discuss whether or not it was worth his time to read about the program and consider it for our daughter, in walked the princess. Our ten-year-old was smacking her gum and digging for something that apparently had taken up residence deep inside her right nostril. “Whatcha talkin’ about?” she smacked. My husband fished the invitation out of the trash. Seemed he agreed that our girl could use a little refinement.

Fast forward to yesterday. It was her first Cotillion class and she was actually looking forward to it. In addition to this, Mary is also involved in another program this fall called Girls on the Run. This program is a wonderful way for girls to learn the benefits of exercise (specifically running) and discuss things like healthy body image, making smart choices, and respect for themselves and others. At the end of 12 weeks, they all run a 5K which I think is an awesome way to teach the concepts of working towards a goal and pride in accomplishing it. I wish they had had such a thing when I was growing up. The only exercise I got was when my mom put on her Jazzercise record and we did windmills to “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number”. That might have something to do with the fact that I hate exercise to this day. The reason I mention this other program is because once a month, it and cotillion happen on the same night. That means that she hops in the car after running, we fly home, she showers, gets coiffed and dressed and magically transforms from sweaty track star to a proper, graceful lady. If only she had a different family.

Coming back from Girls on the Run yesterday, I saw the cutest dog in a neighbor’s yard. It was the fluffiest thing I had ever seen and it was just sitting there attentively watching the cars go by. There were also two other dogs in the driveway hanging out, but I wasn’t so focused on them. As I drove by I let out a big “Awwwwww….” But, it was too late. Mary had missed the cuteness. For some reason (even though we were rushed) I felt the need to turn around so she could see it too. I will always regret that decision. As we came up on the house for the second time, there was the adorable pup just like before. But, those other two dogs? Yeah, totally going at it in the driveway like a sailor who had been deployed to sea for 14 months banging his hot 19-year-old girlfriend. I wish now I had paid more attention to their shenanigans when we drove past the first time. Maybe I would have been able to spot some foreplay going on and just kept on driving. Although, I’m not sure what qualifies as “foreplay” in the dog world. He certainly wasn’t buying her any oysters and I didn’t hear any Seal music playing softly. Of course, the hilarity of the animal antics weren’t lost on my kids- Mary in particular. She put one hand over her other hand in a pretty spot on imitation of what they were doing. Fantastic! This was going to be Mary’s first impression at Cotillion- obscene hand gestures reenacting dog sex.

I bit my tongue to keep from laughing myself and acted properly outraged. I was hoping that would be the end of it. At home, Mary’s transformation was complete. And she hardly complained when I burned her with the hair dryer like always – a miracle in and of itself. Looking at my beautiful daughter standing there with her clean, shiny hair, pretty dress and fancy shoes I realized I hadn’t considered that it was after Labor Day and her shoes were white! The horror!!! Since her growing feet didn’t fit into any shoes she owns other than flip flops, I decided to let that one go. What I couldn’t let go was what I looked like myself. Granted, I wasn’t the one going to Cotillion, but first impressions ARE important and I didn’t want to escort Mary in the t-shirt I had been wearing all day and had slept in the night before. So, I quickly slathered on some makeup, changed my clothes and put on a pair of cute wedges.

We arrived at the country club and luckily dropped Mary off without incident. I and all of the other mothers stuck around until the introductions were completed and the ballroom doors were closed. We all left the building in a big, proud gaggle. That’s when I stepped on a rock in the parking lot. Wearing the cute wedges I had changed into 20 minutes earlier. My ankle turned over and I almost fell flat on my face. I almost wish I had fallen just to get it over with. Instead, in an attempt to save face – literally and figuratively, I stumbled, and then stumbled again and then continued stumbling, my body pitching forward, my legs struggling to keep up, and my arms flailing trying to keep my balance. I’m quite sure I looked like a combination of Frankenstein when he’s faced with a torch full of fire and Whitney Houston when she’s high on “life”. Fire bad and crack is whack, y’all. Did I mention I’m not at all graceful? At least my son asked if I was okay before he busted out laughing and said, “Mommy, that was FUNNY!!!” I didn’t look back to see if any of the other moms agreed with him.

On the way home, I was ruminating about my parking lot performance and felt bad for Mary for being related to me. I have often said that I was absent on the day they went over “How to be a Girl” in school. Things that just seem to come naturally to other women don’t to me and I am intimidated by them. I muddle through make-up, generally opting for a minimal, “natural” look since the concept of a smoky eye baffle me and doesn’t sound like something I’d want whatsoever. I find the Three Stooges and basically any kind of stupid or sophomoric humor hilarious. I never wear polish on my fingernails and keep my nails short on purpose. (Mostly because of a complex I’ve developed after years of my mother patting my freakishly large “man hands” sympathetically and saying “You have Grandpa Charlie’s hands.”) For years I resisted a nighttime facial cleansing/moisturizing routine putting all my eggs in the basket labeled “My mom looks incredibly young for her age so I must have good genes”. Little did I know that she was spending $80 a bottle for anti-aging cream from Estee Lauder. Pretty much the only thing I do that’s stereotypically “girlish” is shop for shoes. And cry.

As all these thoughts were going through my head, I heard a noise come from the backseat. A low rumble, if you will. A noise such as that coming from a 9-year-old boy could only be one thing. “Woo!!!!! Talk to me about it!” Drew shouted. I presume he was speaking to his rear end, which is where the rumble had originated. I couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. Poor Mary. Horny dogs, a clumsy mother, and a brother who would fist bump his own hiney in a celebratory fashion if he could is what she has to contend with. This is why I wanted her to go to Cotillion in the first place. It actually has less to do with her needing refinement and more to do with the crazy people she’ll encounter in her life and being able to feel confident and comfortable in any situation. I have a feeling her family will give her lots of practice.


How I Spent the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001 (AKA: “It’s All About The Dash”) September 12, 2011

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the day when it came. For the entire week leading up to the anniversary, I had been reading some of the very personal stories behind our very collective grief as a country. September 11th is our generation’s “Where were you when?” moment. Everyone remembers and I for one will never forget. I was a new mother. My baby was almost seven months old and we had grown into a comfortable daily routine. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home and at 9:00 that morning, after diaper changes and some snuggling, we had finally made our way downstairs to get some breakfast. I absentmindedly turned on the TV and walked into the kitchen expecting to hear the voices of Regis and Kelly. I did not. Instead I heard what sounded like a news report. Carrying my daughter, I walked back into the living room and saw fire engulfing one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I quickly learned a plane had caused the gash in the side of the building and my mind started trying to put the pieces together. It was an absolutely beautiful day so I couldn’t comprehend how a pilot could have gotten so disoriented and how he could have possibly slammed into something as large as the World Trade Center. As I was listening to the news anchors mulling over the same questions, not but three minutes after I had turned on the TV, a second plane came quickly into view and just as quickly disappeared into the second tower and exploded into an enormous fireball. That’s when I knew, the world knew. The shock of it hit me immediately and I hugged my baby girl tightly and sank down to the couch. This was no accident. The enormity of what that meant weighed me to my spot. I cried and apologized to my daughter for bringing her into a world where people could do this to each other. And of course I prayed for every life I had just witnessed being extinguished.

I spent a very similar morning on Sunday, September 11, 2011. We were out-of-town at my in-laws unexpectedly. A close friend of our family had a death in their family. Our friend’s father had passed away after a long illness and as soon as we heard when the funeral was going to be, we packed our bags and headed to the mountains. The service was held on Friday, September 9th. Our friend’s uncle said his eulogy. We had met “Uncle Jay” earlier at the visitation and I liked him right away. He has piercing blue eyes, a very wry smile, a generous laugh, and carries himself with enviable grace. He is the type of person you just want to be around. I grew to like him even more when, during the eulogy, he read the poem, The Dash by Linda Ellis. I wish I could reprint it here, but there are copyrights and such so I’ll just have to ask you to Google it. The gist of the poem though, is that there is a beginning to your life and an end. But what is really important is what you do with the “dash” in between those dates. Throughout the eulogy, “Uncle Jay” told us wonderful stories of love, devotion, and service in a tribute to my friend’s father. His dash, it seemed, had been very full. At the end of each story he repeated the line, “He is my brother. He is a good man and I’m here to celebrate his life.” Life.

I thought about this as we all sat as a family Sunday morning watching the ceremony at the memorial in New York City. Just like ten years ago, I was holding my daughter on the couch as we watched TV, but this time we were both crying. I find it difficult to explain what happened that day to her and to her brother who was not yet born. The overwhelming question they have is “why?” It’s something I wish I could make any sense of, let alone put it into words that my children can understand. Luckily, the program we were watching focused on the stories of those lost that day instead of the why. This day ten years ago was the end of an earthly path for so many but thankfully they have loved ones, just like my friend’s uncle, who are more than happy to let us know how they spent their “dash”. It was so good to hear these stories. And it was amazing to hear that some who knew they were not going to survive the day and were able to, called their friends and family to say, “I love you” and “I want you to live a good life even if I’m gone.” Live.

By the grace of God we did not die on September 11, 2001. By the grace of God we have our family with us and were able to share this anniversary with my husband’s parents. And so, after all of the moments of silence, after we gathered our bags and packed the car, my husband suggested we go for a hike together on our way back home. We drove to a state park with several walking trails all leading to beautiful vistas of waterfalls. At one point, our children walking ahead, my husband took my hand and held it. This was much different from ten years ago. That day he had been out-of-town on business and was in New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan. He had flown into JFK the night before. I remember calling him frantically after the second plane hit; leaving him voice-mails because I was unsure of what was going to happen next. He called back saying he could see the smoke and when they went outside, smell the burning. With air travel being grounded for days, he rented a car the next day and drove home. When I hugged him the night he came home, I felt like I was hugging him for all those people who weren’t as lucky as I. And when I held his hand today I felt the same way. Along the trail we met a man, a veteran, who was there doing something he loved – photography. We found out that not only had he served our country, but his nephew (who he said “was as close as a son”) made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. He said he had been devastated for a long time and still didn’t think he was over his loss. But yet, there he was enjoying the outdoors on this somber day and not letting it get the best of him. He was doing what I’m sure his nephew would want him to do. Living.

Soon we came upon a roaring waterfall. It was so serene and peaceful. As I stood with my family, I said a silent prayer for those we lost ten years ago and for those who survived. At that moment, I felt that what we were doing together was a perfect way to pay tribute to all of them. I saw many tears today but I was also heartened by the LIFE in the stories I heard. Being able to LIVE in the moment, tell people how we feel, enjoy being together, appreciate everything we are given and share it, LIVING our “dash” and making it the biggest and boldest we can possibly make it… that’s the good stuff. And in a weekend full of grief and sadness, that is what I want to remember.


I’ve Been Told This Is Common (AKA: “I now have proof that I’m naturally fat and lazy”) September 2, 2011

Filed under: Humor,Life,Women — laughingmama @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Okay, so lately I haven’t been feeling so hot. Not “hot” as in Paris Hilton “That’s hot”, but “hot” as in well – heath wise. Thanks to my husband’s attentive eye and appreciative smile I always feel Paris Hilton “hot”. But lately something’s just been off with me. So after having a perpetual headache for 2 weeks and constant bloodshot eye for over 1 week (neither of which were caused by binge drinking), I schlepped myself to the doctor. I dislike doctors. They hardly ever have any good news, they’re judgmental and the first thing you have to do when you visit them is step on a scale so I pretty much need either an anti-depressant or a quick run to the ABC store afterwards. The only time I halfway enjoyed going to the doctor was after my daughter was born. I had found an unusual lump on my shin and wanted it checked out. There I sat on the examining table with my general practitioner (a fairly handsome guy) running his hand up and down my lower leg. I know it was just routine for him, but my husband and I were still in the midst of our 6 week hiatus from any post-baby fun so this was a hell of a good time for me. The only thing that kept it from being Harlequin Romance perfect was the fact that he diagnosed my leg lump as a “fat deposit”. Yeah, not sexy. But still, there was the leg rubbing. I’d always have that.

Well, since then I have switched to mainly seeing the Nurse Practitioner they have on staff. No, it wasn’t court ordered by my doctor. I just like her a lot and she has really cute shoes. So a few weeks ago I made an appointment to see her and get myself checked out. During my exam she “guesstimated” (because isn’t that what 80% of doctoring really is?) that I had a sinus infection and put me on a steroid, an antibiotic and gave me a script for pain meds to handle my headache. I took the script even though I hate taking medication and never planned on swallowing one pill. Actually, I may keep it in an emergency pouch just like the astronauts supposedly keep a cyanide capsule – only instead of using it in case I get stranded floating around in space, I’d use my pain pill the next time I go to the doctor and they have me step on the scale. Whatever works and quiets the sound of the nurse sliding the miserable weight ten more pounds to the right… right?

“Okay, so I have a sinus infection. Can I go now?” I was asking internally. Her fingers probing my neck and the look on her face told me the answer was most likely no. Turns out she also thought she might have felt a “nodule” on my thyroid and ordered an ultrasound of it. Great. Add that to the list of internal organs I’ve had scanned that I never cared to see. As far as I’m concerned, I’m made up of parts only God and my OB-GYN have been privy to and that’s the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it. She explained it’s most likely nothing. I’m sure. But I don’t really care for things that aren’t supposed to be there being there, so I’m reserving judgement. Of course the first thing I do when I get home is get on the internet. What I learned was that thyroid lumps are fairly common – a fact I already knew since two of my friends have had issues with this lovely butterfly shaped gland. Also, “most” nodules are benign and don’t affect your thyroid levels at all. I felt somewhat relieved but being in a position where words like “benign” are bandied about is not thrilling.

I went for my ultrasound a few days later at a very busy radiology practice. The people there amused me. First there was the World War II Veteran who was very proud of his service. He was decked out in a WWII t-shirt and ball cap which was festooned with all sorts of pins and patches. He was there by himself, walked with a cane and in general seemed just plain annoyed. I’m not sure if he was annoyed at the line, annoyed at the forms or possibly annoyed at the chair he was sitting in which I tended to agree with him about. One thing’s for sure though, he was flat out about to lose his shit at some guy who had the audacity to ask him two questions about the war. “Man, would you let me finish what I’m doing here, please???!!!” he shouted as he pointed to the clipboard in his lap. Note to self: Even though WWII vets may advertise that they are vets, it is NOT an invitation to strike up a conversation but instead a warning to shut the fuck up. Once they called me to the back, they ushered me to yet another, gender specific waiting room. We were separated by the rules of anatomy because some people had to change into gowns depending on the test they were having. This is where I met the woman I’ll refer to as “Gotta Go”. Gotta Go had to drink a shit-ton (her words) of fluid so her bladder could be full for her test. The result was she needed to GO! And the nurse was taking her sweet time in calling her back for her test. Once she was finally called, she swooped up her gown, picked up her toddler sized Bojangles cup and disappeared down the hall only to return a few minutes later with a tale of even more indignities. It seems as she was told to roll from one side of the bed to the other, her gown rode up exposing her back side. When the nurse gasped, Gotta Go apparently replied, “What? You ain’t never seen an ass before?”. I love Gotta Go.

All of these people kept my mind off of the fact that I had potentially cancerous growths somewhere in my body. When it was my turn, I was escorted to a dark room and told to lie down. If I think about it, the experience up until then was not unlike the spas I’ve visited. The girl’s waiting room was quite soothing – complete with toile covered overstuffed chairs, classical music and pitchers of water and the “exam” room was dark and a little warm and (if I ignored the scary pieces of medical equipment) mostly inviting. Unlike the spa though, I didn’t start to second guess my decision to leave my panties in the locker in the bathroom. (There was no locker. My panties were on, as were the rest of my clothes. They were only scanning my neck, sicko.) Bringing me back to harsh reality was the sound of the ultrasound tech dispensing copious amounts of lube which then found it’s way onto my neck. She was gentler than I expected but took longer on the right side than the left. It’s amazing how you can try to read so much into seemingly endless minutes worth of keyboard clicks.

And then I was left to wait for days on end until the result was passed from radiologist, to nurse practitioner, where it sat while she was on vacation, to fill in physician’s assistant, to nurse, to me. The result? Not one but two nodules. Yeah, that’s how I roll. If one is good, two is better, right? They were small though and “most likely benign” so they want to do a follow up in 6 months to check their size. Cool. Putting off dealing with something is the name of my game, sister. But blood tests were ordered to make sure my thyroid levels weren’t being affected.

According to the internet, wacky thyroid levels could be the cause of lots of my problems. Headache… check! Heart palpitations… check! Night sweats… ewwww and yep! Moodiness… what are you trying to say, asshole??! Weight gain… cnlcobvoi… oh, sorry. I was trying to type with one hand since I was eating a slice of pizza. Tiredness… *yawn* The list goes on. Of course, all these “symptoms” could be easily explained by other things. But until I knew for sure, my lumpy thyroid seemed like a good scapegoat. And then I got a postcard in the mail from my doctor’s office. I sliced open the taped sides and there in front of me was a whole bunch of numbers and the word “Normal!”. Whew! Right? Right? No. While I will be the very first to say I would never wish for there to be anything wrong with me, and would never want to undergo surgery to remove a faulty thyroid unless it was absolutely necessary, or take pills on a daily basis to keep me “level”, it was kind of nice thinking for 7 days that it was all my thyroid’s fault. My weight gain couldn’t be the result of the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey that my husband and I would split when we started dating. And surely my love affair with Two Buck Chuck is not to blame! Neither is the aforementioned pizza. No, there in black and blue was the word “normal” which means that I was holding in my hands proof that I am just naturally fat and lazy. Fantastic! I guess it’s time to break out the treadmill once again. And where the hell did I put those pills she gave me? I feel some pain coming on.