May 25, 2010

Mom: The Technology Post

Over the weekend I was on the phone with my mom checking in with her.  She has another kidney stone. Three, to be exact.

I was calling to see if she was getting stir crazy yet and asked if she wanted to go ride in the car with me while I went on the fundraising Dice Run. She declined.  I told her the boys were really excited about it because the first place prize was $250 and Julius already had a plan on what he'd be purchasing with his winnings.

Mom: You're not going to let him spend all that money are you?
Me: Of course not.  I told him he had to split it with his brother if he wins.
Mom: What about putting it into the bank?
Me: Yeah, but they get to spend some of it anyway one of them wins.
Mom: Well what does he want?
Me: A DS.
Mom: You're not getting him a DS. He's 7 years old.
Me: What do I care if he gets a DS if he's won $250 dollars? Every kid his age has one.
Mom: No they don't.
Me: Mom, they do too.
Mom: *I* don't even have one at my age.
Me: (laughing out loud) You totally don't even know what a DS is.
Mom: (without even pausing) I know, but I don't have one. What is it?
Me: It's a Nintendo handheld game thingy. Basically, a babysitter. 
Mom: (grunts) Oh jeez. Kids these days.
Me: Yeah, tell me about it.

May 17, 2010

Learning to Let Go

One big trick of life is the art of learning to let things go. I'll be honest about it right up front... I'm terrible at this.  I hang on to nearly everything -- physical, emotional, mental.  I get this from my dad's mom, my middle namesake, who used to write notes on food wrappers. She'd jot down what she was doing at the time and a quick basic review of the product and then send them to me. For years I just called these "letters from Grandma" because that's what they were to me. It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized most people don't write letters that way.

When I became a mother I was aware enough to realize that no matter how good my intentions are, I will eventually inflict a bushel of neuroses onto my children. I came to this realization after a conversation with my mother during which she was complaining that I seemed more independent and detached than she thought was healthy. She blamed herself because she didn't want me to be weak and vulnerable and so now she thinks she overcompensated and sent me swinging on the pendulum all the way to the other side.

And then there is the matter of genetics. Some of the children in our family who are from divided homes and haven't been able to spend much time with one parent or another still carry echoes of their missing parent with them -- with two it's their smile, with another two it is the shape of their fingers and a particular look in their eye, with another it's the way she wrinkles her nose. It is strange and disconcerting to see when I know these things come from deep within the genetic layers of us.

* * *

Two nights ago we went to a pro baseball game in "the Big City". At this particular ball park they have a section where you can pay a few bucks extra and your kids can go in and run madly from one bouncy-house to another until they pass out from exhaustion or vomit, whichever comes first. We let the kids go in and Rob and I took turns staying with Tristan, our youngest.

At one of the inflatable fun houses he got very tired and when he slid down this huge slide and finally reached the bottom he just didn't get up again. He had an ecstatic look on his face and gazed up to the roof of the house as if he were seeing angels come down to carry him away to an afterlife of nothing but whipped cream, cookies and strawberry milk. At the top of the slide a couple of big kids started yelling at him to move and finally it was obvious they were going to come down whether he moved or not. I said, "Tristan, you've got to get up and move out of the way."

He struggled his little body up out of the cloud of air-filled plastic and was trying to heave himself back out onto the pavement when two girls, much bigger than him, came down and pushed passed him, knocking him off his perfect cloud and down onto the hard surface. He began to cry.  He stood up and looked over at me and I smiled and gave him the thumbs up and yelled, "You're AWESOME!"  He blinked, then smiled and ran back to the front of the line.

The event was forgotten (except for a small psychotic moment in which I yelled at the girls when Tristan wasn't looking and told them to stop knocking down little boys half their size) and we played for another half hour until the game was over and it was time to leave.

All the way back to the car Tristan cried because he was tired and didn't want to walk anymore. It was a long, agonizing journey of cajoling "almost-theres" and finally he was in his car seat and buckled in.

As we pulled out of the parking lot he said from the dark back seat, "They knocked me down."

I said, "Mm-hmm. They sure did. But you're fine now." I told Rob briefly what had happened.

Tristan reiterated, "They knocked me down, Daddy."

Rob said, "Sorry about that, buddy. Did you have fun anyway?"

Tristan said, "Yeah, but they did it. They knocked me down."

"But you're okay now, right," Rob asked.

Tristan said, "I'm okay, but they knocked me down."

I covered my mouth and snickered quietly. We tried not to say anything in case it unleashed another torrent of accusations about the girls who knocked him down.

Then Julius started in, "I got knocked down too. This boy jumped on me and wrapped his arms and legs around me and knocked me to the ground."

I nodded. "Well, sometimes those big kids play rough. You have to just try to stay out of their way."

"He wasn't a big kid. He was half my size..."


Tristan said, "They knocked me down, too."

I snorted, Rob chuckled.

Trying to change the subject, Rob said, "You boys had fun tonight right? What was your favorite part?"

Julius said, "The bouncy houses were the best part."

Tristan said, "Yeah and they knocked me down..."

Obviously I'm not the only one who has a problem letting go.

May 7, 2010

Hunting for a Diamond (a Touching Mother's Day Post)

Here's a great activity for Mother's Day.  I recently got this mail from one of the people I stalk on the Blogosphere.  (Apparently I'm not a very good stalker since he's noticed.)  Anyway, he's just recently published a book and as part of his book promotion he's designed this very nifty treasure hunt for people who love mysteries, intrigue and puzzles.  Oh, and diamonds.

* * *

Hi Wendy:
I wanted to make sure you knew about an "armchair treasure hunt" I'm conducting to promote my novel The Tavernier Stones.  The contest is up and running at
The prize is a one carat diamond, but I hope to increase its size, if the contest lasts long enough.  Please share this with anyone you know who likes puzzles, codes, treasure maps -- or diamonds.
The novel debuted 1 May and has garnered some good reviews, including this one from Booklist:
"As the legend goes, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a seventeenth-century explorer and trader, was robbed of a small fortune in precious gems that remain unaccounted for to this day. Using this intriguing premise as a jumping-off point, Parrish, a cartographer and gemologist, fashions an enjoyable thriller in which a cartographer and a rather disreputable gemologist join forces to solve the mystery of the fabled Tavernier stones. The author clearly knows his subject—the details about map-making and gemology ring true—and even better, he knows how to tell a good story. His odd-couple protagonists (John Graf, the Amish cartographer, and David Freeman, the gemologist and jewel thief) make an interesting pair of heroes, and their jaunty relationship gives the novel an agreeable, lighthearted feel. The story itself, which involves a race against time to find the stones, is intricate without being annoyingly elaborate. This is a quite good first novel that, one hopes, will launch a series of Graf-Freeman adventures."
Thanks for indulging me,
* * *

Get to it. Maybe you won't even have to buy flowers for Mom this year. (And, no, this is not a paid ad.) Personally, I'm thinking maybe I should just get the book for my mom and then she can find her own diamond.

This year I was actually thinking of stealing my brother's idea for Mother's Day. Every year he brings her cut flowers from his garden and some kind of plant that he's dug up from somewhere that she doesn't already have. She always calls to tell me how fabulous her new garden addition is.

I am notoriously bad about the gifts I get her. They are almost always wrong. Although to be fair she has the same problem when buying gifts for me. What I've started doing lately is getting stuff that I personally don't like and I think I'm getting much closer to the mark.

Recently, her feud with the neighbor has escalated so perhaps I should get her a big stand of invasive bamboo to plant on the border of her property. Or maybe something that attracts ground hornets or rodents. Or I should bottle up some of the ants that won't stay out of my house and thrown them into the neighbor's yard like a Molotov ant bomb. That will teach her.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 3, 2010

My Not-so-Secret Addiction

As a mom, you just have to every now and then put your foot down and be determined to act in a recklessly selfish manner.

For me this manifests itself in stopping off somewhere while I'm out doing errands and getting a cool drink and a snack and, for once, not asking anyone if they want anything. It's not that I want to be selfish or deny anyone a treat, but it's also heavenly and feels decadent that for a few minutes during my working day I can not worry about anybody but me -- no kids, no clients, no family, no constituents.

So, I do this and generally don't mention it to anyone and I drive down the road singing loudly with the radio while swilling down some exotic concoction from Sonic, always with real cherries included.

The other day it was cherry Dr. Pepper (with real cherries) and my latest obsession -- cheddar peppers. I was on my way to go get some photos of a house and picked up a snack along the way. I thought briefly of my hubby slaving away at the office while I'm driving down the road with a pepper in one hand and Sheryl Crow blasting from the radio. Not only did I not tell him I was stopping for cheddar peppers, but I'm listening to his CD, too.  Poor guy.

I didn't think much of it until later when I was back working and he took the car to go do his errands. My phone rang.  It was him.

"I see someone has been to Sonic for cheddar peppers..."

"Oh, well, you know there is a funny story about that. You see, I was on my way into town to pick up those papers and go get a picture of that house. I had to slow down where all the construction was going on because the traffic was jammed up around that time of the day. And there were these guys out there -- some hispanics, and they were with the oil and gas company, I think.  They had the orange vests on and there was a lot of those survey markers out there and I think they are probably doing some seismic testing for the gas company. Anyway, I had the windows down because it was such a nice day and since I was going slow it wouldn't blow my hair very much and suddenly I hear one of the guys yell, 'Arriba, arriba!' and all of a sudden some trash flew into the window, nearly hitting me and I almost ran over one of those orange construction cones. I looked down and it was a bag from Sonic. I think there was some other stuff, too, but all the other parts of the trash went all the way across the car and out the other window. I hope nobody thought it was me actually littering. Anyway, it was the craziest thing..."

There was a very long silence and finally Rob replied, "Well, I was going to tease you about not getting any for me, but after that I'm too tired."

Oh yeah... mission accomplished.