Laughing Mama's Blog

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

The End of A Chapter (AKA: “Canadians didn’t like Americans in 1877 either.”) September 18, 2012

Filed under: kids,parenting,Psychotherapy — laughingmama @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , ,

We’ve all heard the term “mama bear”. It’s a phrase meant to conjure up the image of a snarling mother fiercely protecting her young at any cost, striking fear into the heart of the one who DARES to threaten the cub on any level. I’ve definitely had my own “mama bear” moments where my children are concerned. Although, to be honest, I look less like a bear and more like a chicken with my disjointed head swivel going on, a finger waving in the air and a pointed “Mmmm hmmm!” at the end of the tirade. I’m sure I’m not very threatening. But, I do my best at fiercely protecting my babies. Which is why every time I’ve found myself in a meeting with our local county school system regarding my son, Drew, I’ve felt like I’ve had to have my guard up and fight for him. (If you don’t know Drew’s back story and have a couple of hours, start
here: “My Drew- Part One… (AKA: “With a mother like me, he’s GOT to be special.).) He’s had an IEP since he was 3 and with the help of some angels on Earth, he’s been doing better and better and is to the point now where he can handle himself in almost any situation and his IEP reflected that. There were no more modifications and the one remaining thing left to work on was his speech. I never thought his IEP would be so minimal.

And then the time for the annual review came yesterday. These used to be scary meetings with vice-principals, counselors, teachers and many, many forms to fill out and sign. I would go into them with my jaw set, a list of demands at the ready in my head. When I walked in yesterday, it was a smaller group, a smaller stack of papers and the first thing the speech therapist said was that she was recommending that Drew be exited out of speech. He had reached all of his goals, he’s speaking without mistakes 95% of the time, and there is no need to pull him out of class anymore. Part of me expected this and I agreed. There were other kids who needed her help much more than Drew. I signed the paperwork and the shortest IEP meeting ever was over in about 10 minutes. Drew’s IEP was closed. The end.

When I got to my car in the parking lot I called my husband who had unfortunately not been able to attend the meeting. When I told him the result, he asked me how I felt about it and I burst into tears. Some mama bear I am! But this has been such a long road. And although it’s by no means done (we still have Drew seeing a private therapist once a week- and I don’t mean for speech. See the explanation here: I See Fat People (AKA: “Shit OCD makes you say.”).) I felt a strange sense of sadness at the closure of this part of our journey. I exhaled with the sort of weariness of someone at the end of an extended battle. And suddenly, a part of me was scared that since we no longer had an IEP, we no longer had any recourse to get Drew any help in case he needed it. I forgot (temporarily) that I had been fighting for over 7 years for him and could again if necessary. I dried my tears and remembered something I had read a few days ago…

For Labor Day, we went to visit my in-laws in the NC mountains. While there we got on the subject of family history and tracing my husband’s family’s lineage. My father-in-law let us know there were boxes full of research his father had done and all kinds of papers and pictures going back more than 100 years. It was a treasure trove of familial goodness. He offered all of it to us since he had no interest in pursing it or storing it any longer, so into the car it all went and in my living room it sits. We’ve taken a few days here and there to look through some of it and it is fascinating. This past weekend we came across a letter written by one of his relatives in 1877. The cursive is beautiful and the script flows gorgeously, but it is a bit hard to read. Here is what I could decipher of its awesomeness:

“Charles says you call our boy a “runt“. He was born in Missouri but he is no “runt“. (My note: I surmised this slam on Missourians is because this side of the family originated in Canada and to them, someone born into American citizenship was a blemish on the family tree. Read further for proof of their clear superiority despite being from Missouri…) Our boy is a fine specimen of the sex- Canada today holds not his equal. Cast in the mold of beauty, he is perfection of form and personification of grace. He is energy incarnate, spunk typified and his ordinary howl makes the scream of a locomotive engine seem like silence. He weighs twenty pounds, stands flat-footed and alone, four months and three days old and he is no “runt”. Mark that down where you won’t forget it. (My note: That right there is what we nowadays call a bitch slap.) Hoping you may in future find it not inconvenient to be elegant as well as terse in your use of the mother tongue in speaking of our “King Ben”.”

That is the best letter from 1877 I’ve ever read! We parents have a way of defending our children. That is for sure. And any time I doubt that, I will think about this spirited correspondence. In the meantime, I will appreciate and celebrate where Drew is today – a mainstreamed student with good grades, lots of friends, the affection of his teachers and an IEP that has been rightly closed. Maybe mama bear can hibernate for a while. But rest assured that if need be, she will wake and she will be fierce! Mark THAT down where you won’t forget it, universe!


I got a Brazillian (AKA: “Blowout that is. Nothing about that sounds like what it actually is.” May 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laughingmama @ 11:27 pm

I live in the South. It’s summer. That means humidity. Not the sexy, glistening, sweaty iced tea glass between your breasts, fanning yourself while on the front porch wearing a sundress kind of humidity. I have naturally curly hair. In all my 39 years I have NEVER looked forward to summer in the south. Or summer in general. There are too many chance encounters with water for my tastes.

Take for example this one time my best friend and I went to a college party. There was a pool. We jumped in- with our clothes on. (We weren’t drinking, for the record. We were just silly.) It felt liberating. Until I thought… “Oh crap! What about my hair?!” Luckily we got out of there before it dried completely. I left the cute boy in the middle of the living room totally enamored with this soaking wet girl with a head full of dripping curls. So long, sucker!

My hair and I have always had a love/hate relationship. It has a life of it’s own. Sometimes it’s own zip code. Some days it can look fantastic and I’m so thankful to be a curly girl. But most of the time I’m left looking enviously at other women who can shower in the morning. Yeah, women with curly hair can’t do that. At least, they can’t get their hair wet. Okay, they can get their hair wet but they can’t have any morning meetings they have to attend or jobs they have to be on time for. Fuck exercising. You just have to resign yourself to rocking a sweaty pony tail the rest of the day, walking around with wet hair, or putting so much product in your hair after a shower that it’s hard to move your head at all lest you break off a whole section of it.

And this is where the guilt comes in. God blessed me with these curls. Lots of people want them. Or so I’ve been told. My mother included. She has baby fine, straight hair. When shopping for stylists to do my wedding day hair, one in particular looked exasperated as he clutched handfuls of curls as if he didn’t know where to begin. “Yeah, I know.” said my mother… “I gave birth to that.” At that moment I pictured my mom as a smooth, sleek Nala looking at me, her Simba, with a full, unruly mane and shaking her head. Turning to her, my stylist replied, “How is that even possible?”. I don’t know. I always wished I could share the wealth.

But I can’t. For years I was unhappy with hair cuts. I was tired of coming home from the salon crying so I declared a truce and didn’t go back. My new husband cut my hair for years. It was all one length and long- it wasn’t that complicated. And curls hide a lot of imperfections so it was a perfect arrangement. Until I realized I might want to retire my scrunchies and might actually want a little bit of style.This is where the quest for the perfect hair began. I heard about a certain type of cut developed by a woman named Ouidad. The closest salon who had stylists trained by Ouidad herself was 3 hours away and cost $300. It was around my birthday so I gave a present to myself. While there, I found out that they had clients that flew in from California to get the special cut. CALIFORNIA!! That’s how insane us curly girls are in our pursuit for hair perfection! The cut was good and and the resulting curl was transcendent, but something was still missing.

In the subsequent years I had discovered smoothing products, flat irons, thermal protectors, Oscar Blandi’s Olio di Jasmine Hair Serum which smells like what I imagine Ryan Gosling would smell like if melted down so naturally I’m addicted to it and wish I could eat it. I’m pretty okay with my hair IF it’s winter, a precipitation free day and a day when I’ve got an hour and a half to devote to washing, blow drying and ironing my hair. Did I mention that I’m a mom and have just recently started my own business?

And need I remind you that it’s almost summer? Yeah, so for the past two weeks it’s been cloudy with a chance of showers around here every day. Or to put in in my hair’s terms, curly with a chance that it will eat my face. The only choice lately has been to pull it back into a puff ball. Not cute. I was done. And luckily business has been good so I decided to treat myself.

I’ve heard about the keratin treatment (Brazilian Blowout is one kind, but not the kind I received.) and thought I would go for it. My normal (awesome) stylist doesn’t do it, but the miracle worker 2 stalls down does. An appointment was made. I showed up. And it was easy. She washed my hair. She combed the treatment through every strand. It was very relaxing- in every way! Then, after sitting for a bit, she blow dried it and flat ironed it to set the treatment. Then she washed it again and this is when I realized she had actually performed magic. She blow dried it again but this time it only took 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES! And it wasn’t frizzy. She hit it with the flat iron in a couple of spots for good measure, but it was completely done and I was able to walk out of the door in 15 minutes. Insanity! It was like I had new hair. It was soft and smooth and shiny. It rained that afternoon and I went on the porch to “watch lightening” with my son. I was really testing the limits of this treatment. And it passed! No frizz! I even stuck my head in the dishwasher after it was done running. I opened the door and steam poured out. I put my head in thinking my hair would surely absorb all this moisture and double, even triple, in size. But no, my locks held strong.

I feel ridiculous for being so giddy over hair. But, for the first time EVER I actually was able to brush it while it was dry. You don’t even understand. Before, I would never even look at a brush. I didn’t want to anger my hair. But today, I seized a brush in my hands, steeled myself and ran it through my strands. To my surprise, there was no revolt! No rebellion! Just submission and lovely locks that just responded amicably and laid there afterwards completely happy and glowing. Damn! Maybe I don’t have to fight my hair after all. What a revelation!

After the keratin treatment I asked the stylist if I could hug her. I don’t know if she even knew why or how much what she had done meant to me. Of course she agreed and I hugged her as tight as I could without being that creepy client you might need a restraining order against. I’ve always felt like I should like my hair because that’s what God gave me. And there were times when I absolutely loved it and wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But most of the time it’s been a pain in the ass. Hopefully not anymore. I’ve been told that when I air dry it, it will still curl but won’t be unruly. I’m looking forward to that. It’s not the curl I hate, it’s the unpredictability. I’ve surrendered a lot of days to a baseball hat and a pony holder. Hopefully those days will decrease. I’m not giving them up completely because my husband thinks it’s sexy. Even more so than a southern belle on a porch in the middle of July. Hallelujah!!



There are downsides to looking this fluffy (AKA: “Why women hate me for being curvy”) April 5, 2012

Filed under: Humor,Life,Women — laughingmama @ 2:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Disclaimer: I am totally NOT serious. I’m not entirely sure Samantha Brick was either. I’m really hoping she wasn’t.

The other day I was at Dunkin Donuts. After selecting my dozen, the donut man smiled and told me to select one more. “A baker’s dozen” he said with a wink. I was pleased but not shocked. For years my curves have garnered me all kinds of attention. Just the other day I had no more than stepped foot into Ben & Jerry’s when someone handed me a scoop of ice cream… for free! It seems everyone loves me plump, and wants me to stay that way! Take, for example, when I go out on the town – everyone wants to dance with me. Guys constantly come up behind and say that they like the way I “shake that healthy thing”. It happens all the time.

I’m certainly not obese, but I’m of average height and greater than average weight. It’s not my fault that God chose fit to distribute it equally above and below my waist. I’ve got a nice rack. And a juicy booty. You might think I’ve got it made. That my life is perfect and music video producers are knocking down my door for Sir Mix-A-Lot’s latest video. Well, having a large backside isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. People are jealous. And it hurts.

Going out on the town is not always fun. A few Fridays ago I was cornered in the ladies room at a local bar. A tall, slim woman pointed a bony finger at my ample cleavage. “My boyfriend says he thinks you have the cutest dimples.” she angrily told me. “And I don’t think he was talking about the ones on your face!” she spat as she lowered her gaze to my meaty thighs. I was mortified and ran out of the bar crying.

The other day I was walking into the Gap when I overheard these two girls (wearing super skinny jeans) talking. One of them said to the other one, “Oh my God! Becky, look at her butt!” I had to leave the store. I was so embarrassed. Sadly though, the jealousy isn’t confined to strangers. My own friends constantly try to get me to join Weight Watchers or run races with them. I know it’s only because they think if I lose my curves I’ll be less attractive to their husbands. How do I know I’m attractive to their husbands? Because they always come up behind me and smack my butt. “Make it clap!” they demand, but I politely decline out of respect for their wives. I can feel their eyes glaring at me.

But no more is the jealousy more apparent than when I’m out to dinner with my husband, a very handsome man by the way. I’m not afraid to order cheese sticks as an appetizer before my burger with bacon and french fries arrives at the table. I see the other women staring at me as they miserably stab forkfuls of salad. I can tell they wish they were me. “I’m large and in charge!” I want to shout as the waiter brings me my brownie sundae. My curves are here to stay!

Laughing Mama eating ice cream.

Laughing Mama defiantly enjoying some ice cream that will go straight to her hips.

Although, I admit lately I’ve been thinking of joining my friends at Weight Watchers. I’m getting tired of being hated for being voluptuous. For once I’d like to hear the term “motorboat” and know that the men are talking about actual watercraft. And I’d love to have women accept me for who I am and be able to just be “one of the girls” instead of having to rely on THE girls for company on lonely nights. Don’t even get me started on the pain that is a mammogram.

But until the day comes when I can fade into the background of their boring, skinny lives, I will be proud of myself and my curves. Girl, look at this body! I, I, I, I DON’T workout! Suck it!

Even Ryan Reynolds agrees that curvy women are hot!

Even Ryan Reynolds agrees. Don't hate!


It’s Valentine’s Day, Bitches! (AKA: “This is the day Hallmark has made. Let us buy candy and get fat.”) February 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laughingmama @ 11:56 am

Dateline: February 14th. It’s Valentine’s Day. Big Whoop, I say! Yes, that’s right. Big Whoop! “Cynic” you must be thinking. “Someone jilted her and now she’s got to take it out on poor, innocent Cupid.” Au contraire, mon cheri! I am a happily married woman who has nothing against the fat, flying baby brandishing a weapon. And I am very much in love with my husband. As a matter of fact, he proposed to me on Valentine’s Day. It was tres romantic and the best Valentine’s Day ever! And every day I have known him has been like Valentine’s Day. Okay, now I’m sure you’re thinking, “GAG ME!! Who does this girl think she is? Nicholas Sparks?” No. This is not The Notebook or anything half as dramatic. To me, love is not about the overpriced cards Hallmark sells, or the red roses so abundant in store windows. It’s not about heart shaped boxes of candy that we hope and pray someone special gives us as a sign they love us. I feel a lot of pressure surrounding Valentine’s Day. And I don’t even CARE about it.

“Easy for you to say, you already have someone” you’re thinking. That’s true. When I was younger and without a boyfriend, this holiday sucked. I hated Valentine’s Day. I watched vase after vase of flowers being delivered to girls at work and sat and stared at my empty desk feeling sorry for myself. What kind of shitty holiday does that?? Valentine’s Day. It’s a concocted holiday to celebrate “love” which is all well and good, but why do we have to attach so much importance to it? Guys feel under the gun to give just the right thing to make their girl happy and girls have such high expectations for what the day is going to bring. As if all of a sudden their man will magically wake up on February 14th and be the most romantic person in the world just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Granted, it does fall in between the Super Bowl and March Madness so there’s not a whole lot else for guys to focus on right now. But I digress.. Singles just feel left out completely. Which is why there is now something called “Single Awareness Day”! Totally hilarious. Why? Because it’s just as silly as making up a holiday celebrating love.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a romantic at heart. I confess to loving The Notebook. It’s one of my favorite movies. Along with While You Were Sleeping and When Harry Met Sally. I’m a sap. And I cry at everything having to do with love. I’m a sucker for a bouquet of flowers. And of course, never turn down candy- in a heart shaped box or otherwise. “So what the hell is the problem with Valentine’s Day??” you’re screaming at your monitor. Well, it’s not a problem per se. I just don’t see the need in forcing love to exist on one particular day. Love should exist and be SHOWN every day. Getting back to what I said earlier about my husband… the other day I went out to the car to take the kids to school. He leaves for work earlier than I and this particular morning was cold. And totally unprompted and unknown to me, he took the time to scrape the ice off my windows. THAT is what I mean when I say every day is like Valentine’s Day. Because he doesn’t just think about me on February 14th when the jewelry stores and florist shops tell him he has to, he thinks about me every day. And scraping the ice off my windows is a much more romantic gesture and means more to me than anything he could spend money on for Valentine’s Day.

Except that engagement ring, that was a good move. I hope you have a wonderful YEAR of love showing those you care about how you feel and getting it back ten fold. I hope you get your fair share today and every day. Happy February 14th!


PS- I hope this doesn’t give you the impression that my husband is off the hook today. If he wants sex tonight he’s totally going to have to bring me flowers.


I See Fat People (AKA: “Shit OCD makes you say.”) January 27, 2012

So, if you’re a regular reader (like I’m some Erma Bombeck or something) you know by now that I have a son, Drew, and we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs in his young life. If, on the other hand, you are blissfully unaware and want to educate yourself, here’s the story in black and white: “My Drew”. But be warned – there are a lot of words. After a period of relative quiet over the past couple of years, Drew’s difficulty processing the outside world decided to rear its ugly head again this past fall. After mulling over whether or not I should write about it, I remembered that the advice you hear most about writing is to “write what you know”. I also rationalized in this way: Drew isn’t aware that this blog exists yet and hopefully he won’t know that I’ve been writing about him until I’m long gone. Then he can’t be mad because being angry at dead people is against the Ten Commandments. Or something like that. If you are mad, adult Drew, I’m very, very sorry. But, you shouldn’t feel too bad because look at you! All handsome and winning at life. Damn, you must have had great parents!

And as your parent, I’m taking it upon myself to share our struggles so that others may be helped. Or at least get a chuckle because even though childhood mental illness sucks huge donkey balls, it can lead to funny situations. Take for example the manifestation of Drew’s “disorder” last October. For about a month prior he had started exhibiting obsessive compulsive behavior. Not the hand washing or checking door locks 100 times type. More like the feeling compelled to say things (in this case, “bad words”) and not being able to stop yourself or getting stuck on one train of thought kind of OCD. The day it came to a head and I realized he needed help was scary for all of us and decidedly not funny. I won’t go into that, but what grew out of that day was a move away from obsessing over “bad words”and towards obsessive thoughts about fat people. I wish OCD and anxiety disorder made sense because it would make things a lot easier to handle and explain, but it just doesn’t. So, we blamed it on his penis. More specifically, the beginning stirrings of puberty, the fact that his crush at school was slightly “round” in a totally cherubic way and the misunderstanding that somehow these feelings he was having about her were wrong and bad.

He began to notice (and comment on aloud) the fact that an overweight person looks like they’re about to have a baby but they’re not pregnant. And he began to wonder (again, aloud) what enormous amounts of food they must have consumed to get that big- possibly even, he thought (aloud), the Hindenburg. Let me interject here that the people he was talking about while not thin by any means were not “Guinness Book of World Records” fat. (Yes, he used that description too.) And when I say “people” I not only mean the people he saw in public, I mean me. I can’t tell you how fucking fantastic it is to have the fruit of your loins- loins which haven’t looked or behaved the same since he sprang from them I might add- point out your every outward flaw and exaggerate them 100 times over. Add to that the mental anguish he was so obviously feeling (as evidenced by the compulsive act of scratching his scalp that had also emerged and which he couldn’t control) because he knew the things he was saying were wrong and hurtful and he didn’t want to say them, but he was literally compelled to and absolutely couldn’t stop and… well, you’ve got yourself a one way ticket to hell.

And then the State Fair came to town. (I told you you’d chuckle.) Promises of rides and bright lights and cotton candy proved too tempting for Drew and he begged and pleaded with me to be able to go. I did not think the fair was the ideal place to be for a child obsessing about people’s weight. Not judging or making a statement about fair goers in my state or any other state for that matter, but I was being over protective and thought the possibility of a high concentration of slightly larger than average people might put Drew over the edge. I explained this to him but he insisted he could handle it. I had a world of doubts, but my sister was in town and my daughter also joined the chorus of those in favor of the fair. So, being outvoted, away we went.

You know how in movies they can convey the feeling of something being amplified in someone’s mind by editing frantic shots of the person looking here and there while sweat pours from their head next to close-ups of the thing they’re obsessing about which is seemingly EVERYWHERE all at once? Yeah, that’s how the first 30 minutes of the fair went. One of the first booths we came across was the “Giant Turkey Leg” vendor. Every single person stepping away from the food cart was grasping this club-like hunk of meat and gnawing on it cave-man style while grease dripped from their chin and down their arm as they made their way to the roasted corn on the cob vendor to fill their empty food shovel on the end of their other arm. I know, I know, smoked turkey legs are delicious (Mary had one) and so is the corn on the cob (my sister had one of those). But when your child is staring wide-eyed and begins to scratch his scalp, you see things in a new light.

We decided to take a break from the midway and go look at some of the animals. My sister and daughter decided to make a potty stop. The minute Drew and I walked into the barn we heard some people saying things like, “Man, I ain’t never seen a pig THAT big!” and “Shoooey! I wonder how much that fat pig eats?!” and “Mmmmmm, all that flab makes for some goooooood bacon!”. Drew looked up at me, pleading with his eyes and I took him by the shoulders guiding him through the crowd saying, “I know, I know. We’ll be out soon. It’s okay.”. We both breathed easier once we got outside, but only for a brief second. We were leaning against a fence waiting for the girls, when a new mother trying to fit into her pre-baby clothes pulled her stroller up next to us. Drew glanced her way just in time to see her bend down to get something from the bottom of her stroller and get an eye-full of everything her pre-baby tank top couldn’t contain. Which was a lot. I heard him suck in all the air around us and his hand immediately flew up to his scalp and started scratching. I directed him to look the other way. But soon that view was filled to the brim with someone who had come over to rest their substantial bones. More deep breathing from Drew and furious scratching. I feared he would leave the fair bald, so I directed his attention to the ferris wheel across the midway and suggested that he count how many times it goes around until his aunt and sister get back.

That seemed to do the trick. All was well and we were back on track until we continued up the path and came to the “Guess Your Age” game. We had stopped because my daughter LOVES flamingos and one of the prizes was a huge, cute, stuffed one. In that brief second we stood there admiring it and debating if she could try to win it or not, my brain suddenly kicked in and remembered that the second choice in this game is “Guess Your Weight”. That, of course was the strategy the next person in line (a very cute 10-year-old boy) opted for and before I could distract Drew again or at the very least cover his ears, the carnie began his very loud schtick into the microphone. “You want me to guess your weight? Well, let me look at you. Geez, you’re a really FAT KID. What’s your mama feedin’ you? You must be 200 pounds, you’re so fat!” I turned to my sister who had just realized what was happening and I said “I’ve gotta get him the hell outta here.” We quickly ushered the kids somewhere else. (As an aside I just have to give my sister props for being the most understanding and supportive sister and aunt. She later took Mary to another “Guess Your Age/Weight” booth by herself and paid for her niece to win a flamingo. That was the very least of what she did that weekend and she was just generally awesome in every way.)

We eventually made our way to the kids section to ride some tame rides and play some outrageously expensive games. As long as Drew was occupied and having fun, he was fine. I hadn’t seen him scratch his head for an hour or two. I kept the tickets (and ATM receipts) flowing because we all were in desperate need of this good time. And I steered clear of the exhibit containing the “world’s largest woman”. With my guard down, I watched the kids get in line for another ride. But then something caught my eye. It was a girl 4 or 5 kids in front of my children. I recognized that sweet, round face. It was the girl Drew had a crush on. You have GOT to be fucking kidding me, right???! I thought. Almost 128,000 people attended the fair that day and THIS is the girl we run into? The girl who my son was obsessing over and who might have contributed to this latest incarnation of his OCD (obviously through no fault of her own)?? Really? Thanks, God. I didn’t say a damn word but watched Drew to see if he would notice. Of course he did. And instead of the sight of her launching him into a shame spiral, it was totally adorable. At first he did a double take and I could see the wheels turning. Then his hand went to his head and began scratching. (Uh-oh.) Then he asked his sister if that was who he thought it was. She was very supportive and said, “What?? I don’t know.” He stepped slightly out of line and called her name. She turned around and smiled and waved and he did the same. His hand came down from his head and into his pocket. (Phew!) He talked to her for a minute until it was her turn and he told her to have fun. She waited for his turn to be over and when he got back on the ground she waved bye to him and told him to enjoy the rest of his fall break. He looked at me and sounding just like Opie Taylor said, “Gee, it was good to see her.” Some of the tension I had been holding in my body started to relax.

We played two more games before we left. At the first one the prize he chose was a light-up ninja sword. At the second his choice was a GIGANTIC inflatable banana. If that wasn’t a sign that this boy was having issues with his penis, then Sigmund Freud was a woman. I laughed… until he gave it to me to carry through the crowd. As we left, we stopped at a booth near the exit which had every fried food they had to offer at the fair all in one place. Fried candy bars, fried pieces of cheesecake, and even fried kool-aid. I handed Drew his prizes so I could help carry our fat-filled goodies. I looked down at my son, who didn’t have a free hand available to scratch his scalp even if he wanted to. Standing there holding his enormous phallic symbol, I knew he was going to be okay. Anxiety disorder and OCD is no fun, but it’s nothing lots of love, a therapist, a giant banana and a fried Reece’s cup can’t make better.


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.