Category Archives: RandomObservations

Praying For Sleep Among The Walking Dead

They say your spirituality grows with motherhood. That’s true. I find myself praying a lot more these days, even in public places. The prayer usually starts out like: Dear God, Please let Ethan stay asleep.

Amen.

Recently I said this prayer over and over again while toting my little man snuggled in his car seat as we ventured to renew my driver’s license. It had expired the previous week and in all the baby hubbub, I’d forgotten to get it renewed.

I walked into the “driver’s service facility” only about an hour after it opened and it looked like a scene out of The Walking Dead. It was eerily quiet and some people had that filmy gray coloring that zombies so love to sport along with the vacant look in their eyes. Other people had clothes that were so crumpled, it was clear they’d slept in them. Just how long had these folks been here? It just was 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.

The zombie behind the counter assigned me a number and nodded to my still-sleeping Ethan that there was no need to worry, I shouldn’t have to wait long. I wondered if I had a panicked Please-Stay-Asleep look on my face.

Sitting there, rocking the carseat to maintain his unconsciousness, I looked around. One woman had on hooker heels (you know the clear kind) and smeared red lipstick. One dude with matted hair was slouched so low, I couldn’t tell where the chair began and he ended. Don’t these people know they’ll probably have to have their picture taken and it’ll be immortalized in their wallets for at least four years? That’s when it hit me. Crap. I too look like crap!

I frantically searched my purse for make-up. Foundation, lipstick, mascara _ none of it could be found. I was considering trying to work some magic with one of Logan’s crayons when I found my MAC lip liner. That and some chapstick were better than nothing.

Then my number was called. I glanced down at Ethan. Yep, still asleep. Thank you, God. The beefy, tattooed Neo-Nazi behind the counter pleasantly asked me for my paperwork. He was nice enough not to bat an eye when I lied about my weight. I prayed he wouldn’t send me to have my picture taken, but no such luck. I schlepped over to the picture-taking holding pen.

I waited for my close up, and briefly considered striking a Janis Dickinson-like pose.

But wisely decided against it. The click of the camera woke my boy. Dang, and I almost made it.

When I took my wailing baby out of the carseat, the holding pen of zombies began to say “awwww” and I believe I heard some coo-ing too. The Poindexter behind the counter turned to Ethan and said: “I’m sorry Mister but you’re not old enough to get your license.”

The holding pen howled with laughter. I politely smiled, calmed Ethan down and grabbed my new license from the clerk. Praise God, the picture wasn’t too scary after all.

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Oh No She Di’int! Getting the Stink Eye at Daycare

Early in the morning I’d pull into daycare before jetting off to work and the other moms would glare at me. They’d give me a once-over and their eyes would narrow in distain. At first I thought it was in my head, but then it happened again and again and again.

What is it with these women? They’d all be so nice when I’d pick up Logan at the end of the day, were they all grumpy morning people? Admittedly a lot of them looked like they hadn’t yet had their morning coffee, sporting sweatpants, Uggs and off-kilter ponytails. I was perplexed.

When I went on maternity leave, we decided to keep Logan in daycare to maintain his routine and my sanity. Since I wasn’t working, I started taking him to school every day and I’d rush in with a hat on my head, yoga pants and coat zipped up all the way so no one could see my husband’s holey shirt underneath.

One morning a pencil-thin mommy with perfectly coifed hair and a snazzy suit walked out of the school while I was walking in. She smiled at me with her freshly brushed teeth. I glowered back.

And then I paused. Damn, I’m a hypocrite. Suddenly I understood the stink eye I’d been getting. It was because I appeared to be so together when dropping off my kid. Look, getting your family ready on time in the mornings can be hell.

Then you arrive at daycare and some moms look like they’re straight out of Working Women’s magazine while others look like suburban panhandlers. The panhandlers think: “She got a shower this morning, she is wearing clean clothes, she has on makeup. It must be nice.”

But really we’re all in the same boat. We all made Herculean efforts to get to school on time. It’s just that once that morning battle is finished, some moms have to go into the office where they frown on scrunchies and flannel shirts and other moms have to go back home pick up the house or go to the grocery store where they’re a bit more forgiving when it comes to yoga pants, Uggs and off-kilter ponytails.

A Day In The Life Of A Snowtastrophe

The descriptions of this blizzard are endless. Snowmaggedon. Snowpocalaypse. Snowtastrophe. Snowlacaust. Or my favorite: winter.

A sledding path to the street.

OK so that’s a bit harsh, it *is* the worst storm in decades and it dumped a good 20 inches. And last night’s “thundersnow” was pretty cool, I’d never before seen lightning during a snowstorm. We’ve got about 4 feet of alps formed just outside our garage. So I’ll admit it, this was a spectacular storm.

I’m just glad we’re all home.

Logan went to day care yesterday and Ethan and I tried to pick him up before the blizzard hit, but it turns out everyone else headed home early, clogging the roads. What usually is a 40 minute round trip, took me two hours. On the way home, I could only see about a quarter a mile in front of me and at times both boys were crying simultaneously. It was fun, let me tell you.

Then Hubby tried to leave work early and the trains were crazy packed. He waited for about an hour on the platforms to get on one and even then had to sharpen his elbows to fight for a place to stand. He said his usually cordial commuters were quite brutal.

But he made it out to the burbs and even swung by the store and got butter pecan ice cream and a bottle of Shiraz. (Other people were stocking up on bottled water and peanut butter, not us!)

Last night, my only request was that we didn’t lose power, and though the lights flickered a bit, the power stayed on. We could hear the skies thundering and saw them brighten with lightning. It was like a good summer thunderstorm except it was, well, winter.

In front of our subdivision.

This morning we went to check out the damage. The porch was covered in several inches and a foot and a half was piled against our front door. When we opened the garage, that’s when we saw the drifts in our driveway. Hubby dug out a little path to the street and Logan “helped.” After a narrow pathway was cleared, the two went sledding in the street, shrieking and giggling the entire way. This is what snow days are supposed to be about.

Out With The Old, In With The New-ish

My 9-year-old Jeep Liberty was on the fritz again and we were trying to figure out whether to get a new car or pump more money into Black Thunder. To help us with our decision, we needed to know more about our options. It was time to go car shopping.

Black Thunder and the Silver Tank

We started at the Jeep dealer, thinking we could get a good deal on the trade-in. We had a price point in mind and browsed the used cars.

As a girl I hate dealing with car dealerships. When I go to the service department they often talk to me like I’m a frail, dense little lady or the salesmen dismiss my opinion and I find it insultingly annoying. I’ve taken different approaches in dealing with car folks and when I’m with Hubby, I let him take the lead and pipe up whenever I want.

The guy at the Jeep dealer who approached us a few inches inside the door was about as wide as he was tall and seemed affable. He talked mostly to Hubby, until it was clear we were looking for a used car and not a new one. Then he seemed bored, disinterested. I suppose we weren’t considered a high-dollar sale.

We got the Liberty appraised and decided to check out Carmax. There we got Black Thunder appraised again and they gave us a quote $1,000 higher than the dealership. And the salesman was enthusiastic, but kind of like a loving odd uncle. When he found out I just gave birth to a boy, he told us how he tried having sex with cowboy boots on so he could get his wife pregnant with a boy. See? Odd.

Nevertheless, we started culling through all of the cars in stock and at first, Hubby and I were feeling pretty bleak, the choices weren’t really anything that fit us and our budget. Then we checked out the Jeep Commander, a car I’ve always liked and it was roomier than the Liberty.

We test drove it, Mr. Cowboy Boots didn’t pressure us, but let us think about it for a day and after much talk, Hubby and I bit the bullet and got the silver Commander. I call her the Silver Tank.

Considering Ending My Relationship With Black Thunder

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love cars. Fast ones, big ones, small ones, and of course my own. I’ve had Black Thunder since 2002, the first year the Jeep Liberty was made.

Black Thunder

I named her that because when she gets out on the open road, she roars. She’s seen me through many times good and bad, road trips, traffic jams and precarious close calls on Chicago’s winter ice. As time’s marched on she’s been going to the shop more frequently and a few weeks ago, she began making a scary grinding noise.

I warned Hubby about it, but Black Thunder never made it to the mechanic. Then Ethan was born, Hubby went to Florida for business and it was my mother-in-law and me holding down the fort.

On the way to take Logan to daycare Black Thunder Ka-THUNKED followed by a rhythmic flap, flap, shutter so I pulled over, convinced something happened to the tires. I walked around the car, found four perfectly fine tires, so I trudged on to daycare and Black Thunder sounded normal.

That night Hubby and I agreed, if the cost for the repairs were more than $1,000, we’d look at getting a new car, if not we’d fix Black Thunder. We’d just fixed the radiator and scores of other things, not to mention the motor to the rear passenger window broke the week before so we had to tape up the window from the inside so the glass didn’t slip down into the door. It was classy, let me tell you.

The next day, I had to get Logan to daycare and I was afraid to drive the Jeep for fear of getting stranded with my boy. But I made a plan that if Black Thunder died before we made it to school, I’d call a cab to finish our trip to daycare and the garage could send a tow truck for the Liberty.

On the way to school, Logan asked me to drive a different route, I told him no we needed to get to daycare fast before the car broke.

“The car will break into pieces?” He asked.

“Yes, it very well could.”

His eyes got big and we rode the rest of the way in silence.

After dropping Logan off, I headed to the dealership, one block away a metallic grinding noise came from under my feet, I began to pray. Screetching into the Jeep dealership, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, I had made it.

Turns out my drive shaft was broken and that plus the window, the tally was $1,100. We were back to the question that we’d visited and visited again. Is it time for a new car?

Both the Jeep and the TT are paid off, which has been great not having a car payment. And the start of a six-month maternity leave is not the greatest time financially to start paying on a car, but we needed safe, reliable transportation. What to do?

A Stumble Down the Stairs, the Facebook Fallout and a Trip To The Hospital

You know that saying what a difference a day makes? I’m not sure this is what they were talking about, but I recently had a 24 hour period that left me asking: What’s next?

It started on Thursday. I was working from home, my blood pressure was a little high, but I figured it soon would drop. After all, it had to, as we had a babysitter coming over. Hubby and I were going out to dinner to celebrate a huge accomplishment at his job and to go Christmas shopping for Logan.

Like every time a sitter comes over, Logan gets a little clingier, starts moving like molasses through our evening routine. I was trying to get him to go downstairs so he could get a good start on dinner before the sitter came. My stubborn mini-me, refused, despite my commands to “get down here!” Finally I decided to put him on my back since that’s the best way to tote him. (Yes, I shouldn’t be lifting him, at 9 months pregnant, but I dare you to find me a woman who hasn’t had to lift their toddler during their pregnancy.)

Logan knows I’m not a fan of carrying him, so he announces: “I’m going to hold on tight.” I said: “good!” and one step later I slipped. Everything kicked into slow motion. I realized I couldn’t fall forward because of the baby in my belly. I couldn’t fall backwards because of the baby on my back. Panic singed my soul as I ground my feet into the stairs trying to stop hurtling downward. I saw my pinky toe jut out at a 90 degree angle and thought, that ain’t right.

Finally gravity was through with me, we were done with the stairs and both of my babes were fine. My toe however, was another story. I put Logan down, began howling and cursed. Logan started laughing, mimicking me. I just prayed he didn’t repeat my bad language, especially at day care.

About 30 minutes later, the sitter and Hubby came home. I didn’t mention the fall and I was relieved Logan didn’t either. After walking with me for a bit, I had to explain to Hubby my gimp. His eyes bulged and he quietly gave me a fierce hug. Then it was off to dinner and then shopping.

We hobbled through Toys R Us and had a blast finishing up Logan’s Christmas shopping. I’m not sure who will enjoy Logan’s gifts more, my husband or my son, as Hubby grew giddier each time we put an item in the cart. A date night to go Christmas shopping is surely going to be a new holiday tradition in our family.

On the way home, Hubby put air in the tires and I waited in the car. Bored, I whipped out my Droid and hopped on Facebook. I updated my status with a flip comment about my trip down the stairs. That was a mistake as I misjudged how it might be received and immediately got scads of very concerned comments. I suppose they thought I did a triple back flip down the stairs maiming, Logan, Bean and myself. Eventually I deleted the post. Note to friends: Thanks for the concern, but if something ever is really wrong, you won’t read about it on Facebook. 🙂

The next day, my blood pressure still was pretty high, as in 150/100. I again was working from home, lying on my left side along with my laptop and my blood pressure wouldn’t go down. I knew I should have called the docs on Thursday, but now I *really* had to call them. Sure enough, when I rang, they wanted me to head to the hospital immediately for monitoring. Let me say, I *hate* hospitals. Hate them. They do a lot of good, but I can’t stand to be in them.

I was worried that they’d decide to induce me that day and I fretted that I still hadn’t packed my hospital bag. I actually tried to argue with the nurse that I didn’t need to come in. Obviously, I lost.

Hubby met me at the train station and we jetted to the hospital. After being monitored for three hours and some blood work, my blood pressure finally went down, all the tests came back great and I was told I could go home. I thought about having someone check out my toe while there, since it hurt like a b*tch, but was too much in a hurry leave.

After returning to the burbs, I swung by a friend’s house to drop off a thank-you gift and relayed to her the zaniness of the past 24 hours. I began joking with her and her hubby about my possibly broken toe. He looked at me quizically, I’d forgotten he was a podiatrist. They insisted he take a look, asking me, if my toe was purple and blue. I answered: “it’s brown.” (Duh, I’m African American, ALL of my toes are brown.)  Clearly, I was very tired.

After some poking and prodding he confirmed it was broken and advised me on taping it up.

Finally, I made it back home and shut out the rest of the world. It was really, really nice to just be with me, my boys and my broken brown toe.

They May Be Strange, But They’re Still My Neighbors

My neighbors are strange. And I don’t mean hide-your-teenage-daughter strange, but weird strange. They’ve lived across the street from us for about four years and I don’t know their real names, I just call them the Klopeks.

That’s the name of the deranged family that was in the Tom Hanks movie The ‘Burbs. (I often give people private nicknames.) A few months after the Klopeks moved to our quiet little community, they created a stir by the massive amounts of trash they piled at the end of their drive. Every week for an entire year they’d throw out so much stuff it was about the size of a Mini Cooper. At first I thought nothing of it, but after six months I wondered what was going on in this family of four. Are they eating off of paper plates and cups and using copious amounts of paper towels? Are they disposing of dismembered bodies? Dead cats?

One night, I got my answer. Around midnight Hubby and I heard a THWACK! THWACK! Something strange was going on at the Klopeks. We turned off our lights and peeked out the window. The father was attacking a sofa with a hammer. He wasn’t in a blind rage, it was a precise, methodic mutilation. We watched through the blinds as he disassembled the entire thing and then one of his two sons began helping him bag up the innards. Over the next month we witnessed the dissection of two arm chairs and at least one more sofa.

When I was on maternity leave with Logan, I got to observe more about the Klopeks. Like how no matter which of the three cars they drive, no one sits in the passenger front seat. It will be dad driving and mom in the back or dad driving with two adult sons in the back.

But they are unfailingly polite, awkward and eccentric, yes, but nice people.

We have a door that opens into the garage and is tricky in that it locks at the most inconvenient times. Once when Logan was 4 months old, I was loading up the car and the door slammed shut. He was inside, strapped in his car seat, while I was locked out. The Klopeks pulled up into their drive. I ran across the street biting down the panic and explained how I was locked out of my house and my baby was inside. I suggested their youngest son use our ladder to climb in through our balcony. I knew that door was open.

We were getting the ladder out when the dad, sporting his usual fishing jacket and comb-over like swirl, walks into the garage with two steak knives. I stop futzing with the ladder and watch him. He slips the knives into the door and five seconds later it flings open. I’m stunned. I thank them profusely though part of me is concerned that he can break into my home with two steak knives and lightning fast speed.

They may be strange, but they’re my neighbors.

This past weekend Hubby and I rented a U-Haul to pick up the new crib and dresser for the nursery and once we got it home, it was clear Hubby needed help getting it into the house.

We were on a tight schedule that day and didn’t want to bother some of our friends who live nearby to come over right *now,* so we thought we’d try the neighbors first. I call the area that we live a retirement community because many of our neighbors are 70+, except for…  the Klopeks.

Hubby asks the oldest son for help and turns out he’s got two furniture dollies (!!?!) and with some sweating, grunting and input from the dad at the very end, the dresser and crib made it into their rightful spot. They seemed very eager to help and we were very grateful for the help. Later that night, Hubby brought them a six pack of beer as a thank you.

I plan on making them some Christmas cookies, besides, isn’t that the neighborly thing to do?