Thursday, May 31, 2007

Go, Speed Racer

I got pulled over by a police officer the other day for speeding. It's been forever since I last got pulled over by a cop because since becoming a mother I've gotten pokey in my driving. It's not like I have anywhere especially important to get to in a hurry. Play group? Pssh. If I'm late that's just a few minutes less I have to pretend to care about where little Timmy's mom got those fabulous organic crackers she brought for snack time.

Yeah, the playgroup thing. It's wearing thin. Thankfully it's almost summer and soon I won't have to deal with all that, at least until fall. I'll deal with the dread then.

What was my point?

Oh, yeah. Me. Surly police officer. Toddler in the back seat asking, "Who dat? Who dat, Mama? Who DAT??". Flashing blue lights. Less than 400 yards away from my house. Good times.

And did I mention that my mother in law was about fifteen minutes away? Or that I still hadn't fed my kid her dinner? Or the dogs theirs? And that I had to be at work in less than an hour?

So I was a-speeding.

Yes, the normally pokey little Mrs. Chicky was putting the pedal to the metal - I can admit that - because I had less than an hour to take my kid with me to make copies for my class and get back home. You would think that after the last fiasco at the copy place I wouldn't have procrastinated this long. But you if you thought that you obviously don't know me too well. I am the Queen of Procrastination. The High Sovereign of the land of Dilly, Dally, and Dawdle.

(But this trip did go 100% better than the last. Why? Rice cakes and a stroller. Who knew?)

The officer who pulled me over told me I was going 45 in a posted 30 MPH zone. Which was crap - that was the jackass who was riding my ass who pulled off onto another street just as the cop hit his blues - but who was I to argue?

So there we sat, me trying to explain to Chicky what was going on while trying not to look at the clock, waiting for the officer to deliver my sentence. The minutes ticked away.

Okay, don't have time to make her chicken for dinner. Alright, now I won't have time to make mac and cheese. Well, maybe I'll have time to make her a hot dog, but no vegetables. Fine, I'll just throw some Cheerios on the floor and let Chicky and the dogs have at it.

All that waiting and he gave me a warning. A warning! Hurrah! (But, c'mon, wtf. He made me wait all that time for a warning) Now I'll let you, gentle reader, decide why Officer McGrumpy only gave me a warning:

a. His computer wasn't working so he didn't know that I was wanted in three states.
b. He liked that I was wearing a Red Sox cap - yes, I live in that thing - and felt a kinship with a fellow member of Red Sox Nation.
c. The dumb blonde Gee, Officer, I didn't know I was speeding hee hee act worked like a charm.
d. He thinks moms, especially those who don't care enough to do their own hair, are hot.
e. He saw the police sticker (given to me by my FIL, the retired Lieutenant) in my window.

I don't really know why he didn't give me a ticket, though I suspect it was probably E, all I know is that as soon as he was out of sight I hauled ass back home (I know, I know) and got Chicky some food just as my MIL pulled up in front of my house. Crisis barely averted. I promise, next time I won't wait so long before having to get to the copy store. Unless my loyal subjects decide to make me the high priestess of Shilly-Shally and Stall. I bet I wouldn't have to worry about playgroup then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The best defense is a good offense

Floors vacuumed - check
Kitchen clean - check
Horizontal surfaces dusted - check
Bathroom sparkling - Uh, not yet, but it will be (Right after I finish writing this. A girl's gotta have her priorities)
Clothes picked up off the floor - see above
Child sufficiently napped and in appropriate clothing - She will be, dammit, if I have any say in the matter (which I don't always have, but today I'm willing to take up that fight)

ETA - 5:30pm

Who's visiting? Heads of state? Foreign dignitaries? V.I.P.s?

Not quite.

My mother in law is coming.

(The mother in law is coming! The mother in law is coming!)

My mother in law is coming over this afternoon to watch Chicky while I run off to play - ahem - work with dogs and my husband plays in an Ultimate Frisbee game. She'll be here for a grand total of about two and a half hours but as of this morning my house could have been considered a Superfund sight so it must be thoroughly cleaned.

It was a long weekend after all and no one wants to clean house on a beautiful, three day weekend. My yard looks fabulous but my house? Eh, not so much.

Why must my home be squeaky clean? Well...

First of all, I love my mother in law, let's be very clear about that. I love both my in-laws. They're really great people who have been extremely helpful since Chicky came along. My MIL stayed with me after Chicky was born, helping keep the house orderly and making sure I was getting the hang of breastfeeding (she is a former La Leche League leader). She and my FIL have never declined to care for Chicky if we have a scheduling conflict - like tonight - or if we need a night out to ourselves unless they have other plans that couldn't be broken. We rely on them quite a bit.

But, let's face it, she's still my husband's mother. Mr. C can convince himself that his mother doesn't judge me on any level, but he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. My MIL is as judgmental as any other mother. And us mothers? We're a tough bunch of bitches some times.

She's actually a fairly easy going person. For instance, she knows we have a lot of pets and pets mean lots of hair, so it's not like she's running around my house with a white glove testing the piano for grime. But this is the woman who, shortly after Chicky was born, told me how she painted her entire house when she had an infant and a pre-schooler at home. You know, because she felt like it.

With an infant and a pre-schooler.

Needless to say, my MIL would not be understanding of the time I spent blogging or catching up on celebrity gossip when I could be reading "More, More, More, said the Baby" for the six hundred and eighty second time or digging around in the yard educating my child on the wonders of nature. Or at the very least, keeping my house clean. Not spotless, just clean.

And my house is still far from that. Only four more house until she arrives. Better get crackin' on that toilet.

(Thank you for your reassuring comments on my last post. Your words of encouragement meant everything to me. For real. I wish I could send you all cookies.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

So this toddler walks into a bar and says gahblaslkjdlkjelj!

In my mid-20s, while taking a break from the media business, I was bartending at a local country club, pulling in a (very) modest wage from the twenty-five cent tips so graciously left for me by the elderly golfers and faring better monetarily during the weekend wedding gigs and holiday parties. It wasn't going to make me rich but it was a good job and I enjoyed my time working there.

One afternoon after tending to a boring, though, strangely fascinating reception where an 85 year old woman and her wheelchair-bound 90 year old husband renewed their wedding vows on site (The bride wore her old wedding dress. Oh yes she did.) I had a lull toward the end of my shift. Part of my job was to restock the liquor bottles when the bar got low from the store room in the cold, stone basement, so I grabbed my empty Tanqueray box and headed for the cellar door.

Through poor design the basement door was located directly in the path of the kitchen door. If left open the door would be in the way of the waitresses rushing into the kitchen with their empty trays ready to be filled with dry wedding chicken or baked scrod. So leaving the door open would mean unhappy waitresses, which would mean a stingy payout to me, the humble bartender, at the end of our shift.

As I started down the first few steps with my unwieldy box I realized I had left the door ajar. I took a step up to close it, then turned and - for some reason that still to this day I don't understand - I chose to step not onto the stair in front of me but the step in front of that. The forward momentum propelled me down the rest of the stairs, ass over teakettle, and I landed with a thump on the concrete slab at the bottom. But not before I cracked my head open on the exposed rock wall.

I lay there stunned and bleeding (head wounds bleed like a sumofabeech but thankfully I think I was only knocked out for a few seconds) and afraid to move, until someone heard my cries for help through the now closed door. I laid there until the EMTs put me on a backboard and brought me to the emergency room. And I laid there cracking jokes to put everyone else at ease.

Hi! I could have a broken back, but did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi and the duck who walked into a bar...

I wasn't trying to be strong, really, it's a defense mechanism. Whenever something gets uncomfortable I make jokes. Usually self-deprecating ones. On that day I think I probably made fun of my clumsiness and my inability to see things spatially, and probably the 12 inch crack in the stone I made with my thick skull.

That poor rock, just minding its own business...

Unfortunately, it's not a trait that I've grown out of and whenever I have to go see the doctor, any doctor for any reason, I'll usually undermine the severity of the situation by poking fun of myself. I make it very hard on myself to get an accurate diagnosis.

To make a long story short, I was fine. I have back problems and the occasional migraine that I didn't experience before, but I healed quickly. However, this story has nothing to do with my health or my back and everything to do with Chicky.

Didn't see that coming, did you? Neither did the rock.

(See?? There I go again! It's a sickness. I can't stop.)

The other day during her two year well visit I told the pediatrician that I was concerned about Chicky's speech development. She's speaking, just not nearly as well as most of her peers.

It's probably nothing, I told the pediatrician. I'm sure she's fine and just taking her own sweet time...

But I can't ignore the red flags popping up whenever I hear Chicky say "Dat" instead of "Cat". My kid can't say "cat". She can say other things, but not "cat"? And she speaks very simply, with very few sentences.

I'm sure we'll have a great laugh about that when Chicky grows up. It will be our little joke - Hey! Wook at dat Dat! Ha! That'll be hilarious when she's 16! Of course, not if she's still talking like that. Not that she would but...

I don't want to seem like an overprotective mom...

I'm sure she's fine...


So there I was, trying to talk myself out of getting help for my daughter by joking about being a neurotic mother who can't stop hovering over her child. Thankfully her pediatrician saw right through me and recommended a call to Early Intervention.

You know, just in case. It's probably nothing, but better safe than sorry.

God help me, if it would have been for me I would have shrugged off the idea of a specialist. I would have poo poo'd the whole idea. It's fine. I'm fine. It's all fine. But for my daughter I can't live like that. I've got to start changing my ways. Chicky is going to see a specialist.

And if it's nothing I won't feel badly for taking up that specialist's time.

Now, if I can just convince myself of that.

Until then I'd better brush up on my knock knock jokes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Down with Raffi!

If I have to listen to one more Raffi song, or have to sing "Baby Beluga" one more freaking time I'm going to commit Raffi-cide.

Chicky has decided that nothing, and I mean NOTHING (Capitalized for emphasis. Not over emphasis mind you, because, yeah, I'm Raffi's bitch), should come out of my iPod other than Raffi. Raffi in the morning, Raffi in the evening, Raffi in the Goddamn afternoon. Raffi Raffi Raffi. And if I dare put on some TMBG or Justin Roberts, even Berkner (hey, desperate times), Chicky will have a meltdown of epic proportions. I'm starting to hate that poor, sweet, bearded man.

I didn't always hate him. As kids music went I kind of liked dear old Raffi. I liked his messages, I even liked the religious undertones of his songs. Spirituality without having to get our heathen behinds out of the house early on a Sunday morning, I could dig that. And there have been some crucial times when his songs have come in very handy - like teeth brushing. That "Brush Your Teeth" song has worked like magic to get Chicky excited about keeping her pearly whites clean.

But c'mon. Enough is enough. I kinda wish the "Five Little Ducks" would stay over the river and far away. Screw Mother Duck and her tedious quacking. Quack quack my ass, Mother Duck. These little ducklings gotta get themselves some action.

And maybe the fatties of the "Six Little Ducks" wouldn't widdle waddle so much if they went on duckie Weight Watchers. Stop floating in the river and start paddling.

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah. I'm starting to loathe Raffi.

I don't hate kids music, let's get that straight right now. There's a lot of good music out there for the under three feet tall set and I'm thrilled that I don't have to listen to the music of my youth (you know, when we would beat on rocks with sticks and make maracas out of deer hides and bits of bone) if I don't want to.

But, Aha! There lies the rub. I do have to. Chicky is holding my iPod hostage. Play some Raffi and nobody gets hurt, sucka.

I can't always convince her to listen to other children's music but occasionally I can convince her to listen to some of mine. Especially hard rock from the 80s. But though I love to see my two year old bang her head and attempt devil's horns with her wee fingers I think she may be a bit too impressionable to be listening to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" on a regular basis.

So I started to put together a list of appropriate kids music that won't make their parents' ears bleed.

(Mrs. Chicky and Chicky Chicky Baby, LLC do not make any promises that your ears will not hemorrhage after listening to these songs 152 times in a row. That is the choice you made when you had kids. Proceed at your own risk.)

Feel free to add to this list. I'd love to know what you have on your MP3 players that your kids like to groove to.

Bouncing Around the Room - Phish
Coconut - Harry Nilsson
Rock Lobster - B-52s
Any surf song from the Beach Boys
Yellow Submarine - The Beatles
Crawfish Song - Buckwheat Zydeco
If You Want to Sing Out - Cat Stevens
Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
I Like to Move It - Sascha Baron Cohen
Who Let the Dogs Out - Baha Men. Find the clean version.

(Yes this song may make you want to slam your head in a window but kids seem to love it. And in my home it's not just a song, it's a way of life.)

(And the video I linked to is all about cute dogs doing things that any dog trainer would be horrified to see! Good times!)

Theme from Rawhide

(Okay I'm making a funny, but this frequently plays in my head when I'm trying to get Chicky moving in the morning.)

Jump Around - House of Pain (That about says it all, doesn't it?)
Shiny Happy People - REM
Walk the Dinosaur - Was (Not Was)
Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Swede (It's not about the song, it's about the Ooga Chuckas)


As with any list, this is a work in progress. I could be updating this for weeks. Whoohoo! Another time suck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And this little puppy went wee wee wee... every time you're not home

Your dog is not out to get you.

I know, it's hard to believe but it's true. Your dog is not plotting his revenge for when you leave the house. He's not lying in wait, head on paws, taking an internal inventory of your favorite dress shoes all the while picking his favorite to chew to shreds if you dare as so much walk out the front door. [Read more...]

Monday, May 21, 2007

Playing favorites

Over the past five years I've spent working with dogs and their owners I've realized that there are just going to be those students that I favor over others. Any educator will tell you that it's a slippery slope to pick favorites but my educating experience is a bit different from other traditional teachers and professors in that my students are almost always under the age of five, they have four legs and a tail and are attached by a six foot leash to an adult who is usually over the age of 30.

There's one family in particular that comes to mind. For the past six months I've had the pleasure to work with a family that is just so damn... Nice. Yes, nice. Normally, I go out of my way to not use that word but this is one of those times when the word does not seem trite. The kids, a young girl and a boy, are sweet as can be. The wife and I swap baking recipes and the father sends me YouTube clips that he thinks I'll enjoy. Not to mention their kooky dog who makes me smile every time I see his silly face. Every member of this family of five (including the dog) has left a mark on me that I won't soon forget and I'm lucky enough to have them in another one of my classes right now. I care for this family. I care about what happens to them, right down to their crazy mixed breed rescue dog. They're good, kind people and I want to see them happy and successful, not just with their dog training but in every other aspect of their lives.

The other night after class the husband, lets call him "D", hung around to ask some questions. The week before (I found out through email correspondence with his wife) he was unable to attend class because he was with his mother, who has brain cancer, and I could tell he needed someone to talk to. So we talked long after class had ended. What started as a conversation between teacher and student, to make sure he wasn't screwing up his dog by running back and forth to his mother's home and running her to the hospital (therefore, spending far less time caring for and training his dog), became a therapy session between two people who have the unfortunate bond of shared experiences with cancer.

I told him that I had lost my mother three years ago to cancer and that, along with our short past as friends-with-dogs, was enough to get him to open up about his mother's illness.

His pain was so evident that it broke my heart. He knows that he only has a short amount of time with his mom and like most of us who have, or have had, a close relative or friend with cancer he's trying to work out in his head how he can juggle the pressure of helping his mom while still maintaining some normalcy in his life.

Like I said before D. is a good man, a nice man. Right now he's trying to be everything to everybody, but he can't and I'm sure that's tearing him up. He's doing as much as a man with a job, a wife, two kids, and a dog can do when faced with a parent who has this horrible disease, but I know that it never feels like enough.

Dealing with a loved one with cancer, especially when it gets to the end, means putting your life on hold. I didn't do that as much as I could have when my mother was dying (in my defense, I didn't know how quickly she was declining) but D. is and I made sure to tell him that his time spent with his mother and the love he is showing her are the best gifts he could give to her. Because you never know when the end is coming. You have to live today as if there is no tomorrow.

We both walked away that night happier that we found a connection to each other, but fighting back the tears that we were too tired to shed. I hope that a cure, a magical combination of chemotherapy treatments, will be found in time to save his mom, but if that doesn't happen I hope he'll be content with how he spent this time with her.

With the exception of a cure that's the best thing that any of us dealing with this disease can ask for.


Do you have a favorite? Charity, that is. If you do - great! - give as much as you can. Donate your time, not just your money. But if you don't yet have a favorite charity please consider helping the American Cancer Society (you Canadians can go here). Give what you can.

If you're like me and you hate sending a check to a faceless charity please take the time to attend just a portion of your local Relay for Life. The face of cancer is as diverse as the types of cancers that are out there, but so much more beautiful. I've written about the Relay for Life in the past, the indelible effect it had on me and the grace that comes from people sharing the bonds of life and survival but the Relay for Life is really something you need to experience for yourself to truly understand. It's a tight knit community that welcomes anyone that has been touched by cancer. You don't even have to have know anyone who has had cancer (I pray that you haven't but it seems everyone knows someone with cancer) you just have to want to help.

To find a Relay for Life close to you go here and type in your zip code, then attend. Show up. Be present. Buy a shirt or dedicate a luminaria to someone who has cancer, both those who are still fighting and those who lost their fight. Walk, even if you're not on a team. Arrive early for the survivor's lap and stay for the luminaria ceremony. Show those around you that you are happy they're alive and that you want to help with their fight. Your presence will be appreciated.

And I promise you your life will be changed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Like a PowerPoint presentation but funner

Ooh, bullet points! Where's the tepid coffee and stale bagels?

Shit, just some prune danish left. Anyway, let's begin. Could someone hit the lights?

  • How about another link? Hey! Look over here! Bring your feather dusters and Pledge because I could use some help cleaning up the joint.
  • I need a new look for my blog and I'm ready to part with some money (how that pains me to say that 'cause I'm cheap frugal) to get all spiffy. Does anyone know of a designer who can give me a more modern look? I'd like a three column blog, something simple with just a few bells and whistles and I'd like it to be completed before Blogher. Your help would be much appreciated.
  • If you like my occasional, infrequent wine reviews (maybe if I layed off the hooch I'd write them more often) you'll love The Whinery. Really good stuff already over there for your drinking pleasure.

Chicky is still sick. I've watched so much children's television that blood is starting to flow from my eye sockets. Is there any coincidence that blood is the same color as Elmo? Someone send reinforcements and make sure they have all the necessary emergency equipment: tequila, gin, and a case of wine. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh, happy day

You know that sick thing I've had going on for, oh, a month or so? Otherwise known as "The phlegm that would not die", "The phlegm that ate my cat", or the critically acclaimed "Arthur 2: Phlegm on the rocks"? It's finally starting to clear up. Hurrah. The sick is still very much there but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Or that could be the sun reflecting off a phlegm ball. I can't be sure.

But it seems to be going away and I'm finally getting better. Better. Do you know what happens when things start to take a turn for the better here at Chateau de Chicky?

Dah dah duuuummm.

What's the saying? Sick as a... cat? Hmmm.

Chicky has caught my sickness. Please divert your eyes from the mismatched pajamas and the 59 cent socks. Do you really think I was going to fight with a sick toddler for the sake of fashion?

But wasn't it nice of Jabba the Cat to keep Chicky company while she's suffering through coughing, sneezing, fever, stuffy head, and post nasal shitty attitude? Nina, The Wonder Lump, was entirely covered in snotty tissues after this picture was taken. Poor cat, she takes entirely too much abuse and keeps coming back for more. That's either love or mental illness. I knew I should have taken her to the vet when she started walking into walls.

And what fun it is to keep a sick whirling dervish (read: crazy ass toddler) quiet because it's FOR HER OWN FREAKING GOOD. I'm not even bothering with cough suppressants, instead I'm going with the only thing that works. Elmo. Lots of Elmo. I'm losing IQ points but Chicky is thrilled.

Ooh, the Hokey Pokey! Good times, good times.

Elmo loves you.

Great, but can he make me a gin and tonic?

Chicky wouldn't sleep last night. I don't know about you, but when I'm sick all I want to do is sleep. Gots to help the bod heal and all that, but toddlers apparently don't abide by these same principles. Every time she coughed it woke her and freaked her out so eventually, at about midnight after 15 minutes of screaming, hitting and "Mommymommymommymommy Nononononono!! Mommymommymommyyyyyyyyy!" (and that doesn't include the hour I spent with her in her bedroom letting her doze on my chest) Mr. C brought Chicky to bed with us. Now that was fun. I hope we can do that again real soon.

For anyone who has "slept" with a toddler in the same bed you know that I use that term loosely. One does not "sleep" when a toddler, especially a sick one, is in bed with you. One gets absolutely no "sleep" thus forcing them to be extremely "tired" the next day and over use "finger quotes".

Shit. The Elmo DVD just ended.

Elmo Elmo Elmo ELMOELMOELMO!!! More Elmo! More more more Elmo! Elmo Elmo Elmo Elmo ELMOELMOELMO!!!

(Translation: I'd like to watch some more of that little furry, red monster, you stupid wench.)

The only thing that made her happy last night was after Mr. C had brought her to our bed. I had finally convinced her to put her head down on the pillow and she let her hand wander along the bed and under the covers. She touched my shoulder and then down to my belly button.

"Mommy nekkid!"

Usually it's the cutest thing when I take off Chicky's shirt and she yells "I nekkid!" But is it funny at 12:30 in the morning when your toddler discovers that you sleep in the buff?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Spontaneous fits of laughter after midnight do not help your toddler into ol' Slumberland, however, and she was wide awake after that. Chicky was shuttled up to her own room sometime after 1am, when I was finally sick of having my nose beeped and my nipples pinched (I can get that any other night of the week, when Mr. C is feeling frisky), where she slept until just before 7am. That was when she woke up crying softly into her blanket, heralding the beginning of a bright, shiny day.

Any suggestions for what to do with a sick toddler? Because I did a Google search and I found it's frowned upon to chuck one into a dumpster when you're tired of the whining.

They drive me crazy

Two is not always better than one. But it's hard to stay mad at those faces.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Killing two bloggers with one stone

Like that would ever happen. I played first base so, consequently, I have no arm. I couldn't hit the broad side of a blogger if I tried.

Not that the bloggers I met this weekend had a broad side. I didn't notice any broad sides. I was too busy trying to talk myself out of saying really inappropriate things like, "Wow, you're hair is really shiny in person. Can I touch it? How about if I just sniff it?" to notice if they had a broad side.

As a matter of fact, I should just drop the whole broad side thing all together. This is exactly what I told myself I would not do when I decided to go off in search of real blogging women, outside of their computers - say stupid shit. I guess I just can't help myself.

To reiterate, there were no broad sides. But there was shiny hair. And, no, I didn't sniff it.


Part of my Mother's Day gift to me was to get the hell away from the computer and meet some of these amazing women in real life. So I headed off to the book store - yes, the book store - to meet Boston Mommy, Meredith O'Brien, one of the women writers that inspired me to start my own blog. Meredith recently wrote a book, did you know that? A funny one. A book about motherhood that takes off the gloves and laughs in the face of competi-mommies everywhere. And on Saturday she was at a local bookseller signing copies of A Suburban Mom: Notes from the Asylum - a book that I really must insist that you go and buy right now - and I had a chance to shake her hand and chat with her for a few minutes.

Do you know what? Not only was she gracious and funny but she was also stunningly good looking. Really. Gorgeous in that way that you just can't hate a woman for because she just seemed so genuinely nice. I hate to harp on another woman's physical attributes but it's hard when you're talking with someone and you keep thinking "She's got three kids and her skin looks great. How does she do that?"

It was a pleasure to meet Meredith, and I would have loved to have had more time with her, but her public was waiting and I had bogarted enough of her time already. So I went off to the coffee shop to wait for my next victim blog date with the lady of Cape Buffalo.

And I waited.

And I waited.

(hey, at least I had a good book to read)

And I waited.

When in she came, frantically apologizing, with her adorable daughter in tow. I couldn't fault her for being late because 1) I was sitting in a coffee shop, sipping iced coffee, and reading a book without a toddler trying to get my attention, 2) I'm the one that's usually late, and 3) She had just taken her 7 year old to get their nails done. Would you be ticked off at a mom who took her kid to get pedicures the day before Mother's Day? Didn't think so.

I knew I was going to like Kara as soon as she sat down. Those of you who know her will back me up when I say Kara is just one of those people you want to be friends with. I don't know what it was about her but she put me instantly at ease, which is no mean feat since I'm usually a bundle of nerves when I meet someone for the first time. But then she told me a story about losing one of her cats in my hometown years ago, when she lived no where near my hometown, so I figure we must be cosmically linked some way. Yeah, it's fate. I truly believed after hearing that story we were destined to be BFFs, have slumber parties, and braid each other's hair, but then, as she and her daughter were helping me pick out some books for Chicky, she took a call from a friend who, as luck would have it, is adopting a puppy very soon. And Kara told that friend that she didn't have to search for a dog trainer because she had (to paraphrase) the best dog trainer in the area to recommend to her.

That would be me for those of you playing at home.

I'm thinking of making her my agent. Or my pimp. She can sell me to whomever she wants as long as she keeps saying nice things like that.

I'm so easy.

So, that was just Saturday of my Mother's Day weekend. This doesn't even cover Sunday, a day that started with getting to sleep late, included a picnic and a gift, and finished with Coq au vin and a good bottle of Chianti (somewhere a French chef's head is exploding) prepared from scratch by my husband. The chicken, not the wine. If he could cook and make wine I'd keep him locked in my basement so no one could steal him. But if you had tasted his Coq au vin you might want to steal him anyway. It was to die for.

Come to think of it, I wonder what size shackles my husband would need?

Hope all you moms enjoyed your weekends!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Motherhood means sometimes having to say you're sorry

This post was written not only for Girls Gone Child call for good mothers but also for the PBN blog blast - in conjunction with Light Iris - "What makes you a mother?" Go to either PBN or Light Iris to find out how you can enter to win a fabulous prize.


There we sat that evening, my mother and me, a year or two before she died, in one of those pop-up, camper-trailers. We were parked in the middle of a college running track, our designated spot for our Relay for Life team. With us that night was my sister, Mom's boyfriend, and a couple of her closest friends. Our small group sat in the dark, our emotions already running high from all that was going on outside the zip-up walls of the camper, and we talked. We talked not like a mother and her friends would with her children, but as adults. We shared stories, laughed at past foibles, and gossiped. We offered details about ourselves that, if not for the intimate setting and the perceived safety that darkness offers, we might have never shared.

As often happened when my mom and I were together our chatter led us to reminiscing about my tumultuous teen years. It was a saga I was tired of hearing; how I was a little shit and caused my poor, suffering mother years of frustration and pain.

The abridged version for those of you who care: From the age of 12 to 17 my mother and I, more alike than we wanted to admit, were at war. The details aren't important. The bottom line is we both wanted control of my life and neither was willing to give an inch. She was over-protective to a fault and I did more than my fair share of testing the limits of my boundaries.

As far as my relationship with my mother is concerned I wouldn't do much to change those years. I was, after all, a teenager learning to be independent. And she was a mother struggling with the maturation of her first born. Neither one of us knew what the hell we were doing.

But that night... I don't know if it was her advancing illness, her sense of mortality, or the intimacy of the setting, but instead of poking fun of the 16 year old me my mother, the woman who had tried to keep me pinned down like a butterfly in a shadow box- presumably for my own good - apologized to me.

I think it is safe to say that there won't be many moments in my life as profound as the night my mother told me she was sorry for not always doing the right thing when it came to raising me. How many of you have heard an apology like that from your parents? Yeah, those four or five years when all we did was fight and all the tears we shed and the months we spent not talking? I royally screwed up. Sorry about that.

Those weren't the words she used, of course, but I don't really remember what her exact words were. I remember looking to her friend for confirmation. My eyes said, Did I really just hear my mother tell me she was wrong? Her friend nodded in agreement. They had obviously talked about this before.

My mother felt she was wrong and she was sorry.

She wasn't wrong, however. She made some big mistakes but they were all in my best interest. I wasn't wrong, either. Because of my mother's apology I know that now. I was a young, stupid kid filled with hormones. But to hear this woman who had held such power over me admit that she made mistakes, took the wrong stance, was unfair at times... that really knocked me for a loop. It didn't set things right entirely but it changed how I viewed our relationship.

Now I'm the mother and I screw up all the time. If there's a hard and fast right way to parent I haven't found it yet, so I'm bound to make more and that's just the way it is. I'm not infallible and I'm learning to live with that. Hell, I'm learning to embrace that fact. Just because I have some pretty stupid lapses in reason does not make me a bad mother. If I can learn from those mistakes it will, eventually, make me a damn good mother. And it didn't make my mom a bad mother, either. I mentioned before that she wasn't the best but she was pretty damn good. She had to have been or I wouldn't have turned out as well as I did.

Before she died my Mom gave me a few very important gifts, one being that apology. I was finally able to see my mother as the fragile person she was and that made me feel so empowered. Not because I saw her as weak but because she had the strength to admit that she was flawed. She was a mother and there is no place for perfection in motherhood. In that moment, when she let go and dropped her guard, she taught me what she couldn't all those years before. Life is not about hiding from what scares us, it's about making mistakes. How else do we learn?

One day, when she's old enough to understand, I will begin telling my daughter that I make mistakes. Not just small ones but big gaffes. I don't want her to wait until she's thirty, after she's lived decades questioning herself and her choices. I want her to know that I mess up but that I try to learn from every misstep and poor decision. I want her to know that all good mothers do. I'm human. I'm a mother, a good mother, and those mistakes will help me be the best mother I can be.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The woman behind the blogger

Last night after class a co-worker asked if I wanted to go with her to a drop-in Rally-O class at another training center. I was all for it - since I've been slacking in actually working with my own dogs - until she mentioned that it was on Sunday evening. I declined as it is Mother's Day on Sunday. That was when it hit me.

It's Mother's Day on Sunday.

It's almost Mother's Day already?

Wow, that snuck up on me. Yeah, I've seen all the commercials and read a lot of blog posts about Mother's Day - I even wrote a Mother's Day post of my own for the Blog Exchange - but the actual day always seemed to be coming up. A way's away. Soon, but not now. Well now is almost here.

(There's a hint for you, Mr. C., you've still got a couple of days left until the big day. Don't blow it. You remember last year, don't you?)

I've decided that in honor of Mother's Day, the day we celebrate those women who bravely pushed a living being out of their girly parts and those who spent much time and effort adopting a child, here at Chicky Chicky Baby the rest of this week is all about Moms.

(Which is much better than me talking about my phlegm, don't you think? I will refrain from writing about the loogies I can hock up at whim, their consistency and color. You're welcome.)

I was recently tagged for a "10 things about me" meme by the suspiciously happy Smiling Mom (Seriously, lady, why are you always smiling? What's the secret?) and rather than talk about myself again I'm going to tell you 10 things that I think you should know about my mom.

Why should you care about my mom? First off, if you have to ask that than you can just go now. Seriously. How rude. But second, she was a woman that people just wanted to know and since she's not here with us this is my way of introducing you to the woman who I called Mom.

10 things about Grammy Chicky

1. I'm ashamed to say (ooh, there's a good place to start) that I didn't always call her "Mom". During my teen years, when my Mom and I hated each other, my best friend and I came up with a nickname for my mother. The rather cumbersome moniker "Creature with the Fangs".

We were so witty.

The name was eventually shortened to just "Fang". My friend and I thought ourselves not only terribly witty but also horribly clever for keeping this from her. Of course, my Mom (Fang) knew but she never said anything. Until years later when I was in my 20s, and we were on speaking terms again, and she let it slip that she knew. And she smirked when she said that she knew. It must of hurt a bit, hearing her first born call her names, yet she still found the stupid humor in a couple of 15 year olds trying to pull a fast one over on her and failing miserably. I can respect a woman who can laugh at her child being a dumbass.

2. She loved to dance. The woman was a dancing fiend. She wasn't particularly good at it but she was infectious. If she was dancing then you wanted to dance with her. Unless you were a sullen 15 year old, calling her stupid nicknames, and embarrassed by her exuberance.

At one of my uncles' weddings my mother was on the dance floor surrounded by people all of them doing the Twist. She was so busy giving that dance her all that she didn't notice that she had Twisted herself right out of her slip. When she did notice she just stepped out of it, kicked it to the side and kept on dancing with all of her family cheering her on. She didn't have time to be embarrassed, there was dancing to be done. It's been almost 20 years and that story still gets brought up at family get-togethers.

3. Mom had just turned 20 when she had me. She was just about to turn 24 when she had my sister. When I asked her why she had us so young Mom told me that the only thing she had ever wanted to be growing up was a mother so as soon as she could she started a family, and that simple fact used to bug the hell out of me. A mother? Just a mother? No other, greater, aspirations? A year or two before she died, after spending almost two decades working as a secretary for a Catholic elementary school, she told us that now that her children were grown she really wished she could have been a teacher. I think she would have been a great teacher, but at the risk of sounding cheesy and selfish, there's a part of me that's glad we didn't have to share her.

4. She was obsessive, almost anal, about keeping a clean house and she was not an animal lover. In this way I am my father's daughter.

5. Mom wasn't the type of person who was quick with a dirty joke, though I suspect she secretly liked them as much as the next guy, but she had a streak of gallows humor in her. She always said when she died she wanted to be buried upside down. So every who came to visit her grave could kiss her ass.

6. "Sun worshiper" isn't a strong enough term to attribute to my Mom. As soon as the weather got warm enough you would find Mom floating on a raft in the pool or lying in a deck chair soaking up the sun. By the end of the summer, thanks to her Portuguese heritage, she'd be as brown as a nut. Also in this way I am my father's daughter. Damn English genes.

7. Mom had a gap between her front teeth that was never fixed. Since she was one of eleven children there wasn't the money for dental work and she was sometimes ashamed of it. Not that it took away from her beauty. But, consequently, she didn't smile that much in pictures. But when she smiled, either in real life or in front of the camera, you felt like she had just given you a gift.

And if you feel like I'm falling into a pit of cheese let me just tell you that when she wasn't smiling she sometimes looked like she was about to bite your head off. In this way I am my mother's daughter.

8. After a long, unsatisfying marriage that ended badly (and that's all I'm going to say about my parent's relationship) my mother - a huge Red Sox fan - finally met her soul mate, a wonderful man who just happened to be a Yankees fan. Ain't that a kick in the head? At her funeral he gave the most beautiful speech and in this speech he mentioned how that year - 2004 - should be the year that the Red Sox would finally win the World Series. And I think he was genuinely pleased when they did. Now that's love.

9. Whenever he wrote her a note or gave her a card, my Mom's boyfriend would end it with the words "Here, There and Everywhere". I can't listen to that song without crying.

10. She wasn't the best mother, she wasn't the worst mother. She messed up a lot and I didn't make things easy on her. But she would have been the best grandmother ever.

It's sort of hard to wrap up a meme like this one gracefully so I'm just going to move on to the tags. I'm tagging Redneck Mommy, Sarah, and Lawyer Mama.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Blue Roses

I'm not a hypochondriac. It's hard to be one when you're afraid of the doctor. But I suppose I have as many hypochondriac-like tendencies as the next person who has lost a loved one to cancer at a young age. Which is to say, I fucking freak out whenever I'm hit with some strange affliction that I wasn't expecting, but then I hide in my room and refuse to let my husband coerce me into going to my primary care physician. I just don't want to know, Doc. Save your sympathetic look and let me die of pleurisy in peace. Preferably on a chaise lounge, with my lap covered with a warm blanket, as I sit on a veranda overlooking a tranquil lake in the south of France.

So, as you can see I never give a second thought to any illness I may have contracted. But a couple of days ago the cough I had just gotten over came back. Along with the hacking cough (And the phlegm! Oh, the phlegm.) I'm extremely tired and I have lower back pain - which is different from the usual back pain I'm constantly plagued with. I know my body pretty well and this cough does not follow any predictable pattern of sickness that I've had in the past. After my last trip to the doctor, and how unconcerned she was with the illness that knocked me on my ass for a week, I'm not going back to have her ask me the same questions only to discount all my answers. I'd rather treat myself with plants I find in my backyard. I hear dandelion tea is good for what ails you. That's what my grandfather used to say. He's dead now, but still...

(Ooh, death humor. You're not laughing, are you? Thought so.)

I'm not going to go on, bitching and moaning about being sick, but have any of you had anything like this? Could this be allergies or something? I know as I get older (oh, how it pains me to say that. Older. Shudder.) I'm more susceptible to spring allergies and pollen. But, good lord, this cough is beating me down. Another day of this and I'm going to start sounding like Harvey Fierstein and I kind of need my voice to get through the day. My kid doesn't know the sign for "Take that nasty chew toy out of your mouth and give it back to the dog".

I'm starting to feel so poorly that I couldn't even care less about Roger Clemens, Anti-Christ. That should tell you how bad off I am right now.

I'm bypassing a visit to WebMD all together and going straight to my biggest source of information. You. You've helped me out in the past* so I have high hopes for this solution. No pressure, I'm just putting my life in your hands. That's all.

So, give it to me straight. How much longer do I have?

*Sorry for the poor follow-up. You guys gave me some great advice when I asked about what I should wear into the desert. At the hoe-down I passed on the cowboy hat and boots - a lot of others didn't, but they should have - and wore a cargo skirt from Banana Republic and a top from Target (bad picture. bad, bad picture). And wouldn't you know, the skirt kept me from being able to get my picture taken on the fake bucking bull. Aw, shucks.

The night of the dinner in the desert I wore flax colored linen pants and a silk top like this one (although, mine was had a brownish-grayish pattern). I was neither under dressed or over dressed. Oh, and I wore wedge heels. Screw the people who said that women should wear flat shoes. First of all, we weren't hiking in the freaking desert, we were sitting down for dinner. And second, you should have seen some of the heels that some of the other women wore. I don't know where the hell they thought they were going but from the imprints in the dirt you could see just where they had been.

Friday, May 04, 2007

April ROFL Awards

It's the first Friday of the month and you know what that means, right?

No, it's not trash day.

Well, it is in my neighborhood... But that's not the point.* It's time for the ROFL Awards!

(please, hold your applause until the end.)

My nomination for this month goes to a man after my own heart. A man who understands me, who gets me where I live. A man who knows that the R's at the end of some words are totally optional. I can respect that in a person, which is why I'm nominating Piglet of Fire and his post about Massachusetts slang - which was impressive in its amount of great Boston speak as well as in its length. Another trait I can admire in a man.


Congratulations to Piglet of Fire and the rest of this month's nominees!

Crank Mama awarded Redneck Mommy

The Kids are Alright awarded Mama Tulip

Polliwog awarded Bobbarama

J.D.’s Daze awarded Ambulance Driver

Kyla awarded Mad Hatter

Bub and Pie awarded Write About Here

Ali Martell awarded Redneck Mommy

*I promise I will post a list of guidelines for the ROFLs and link to them from my sidebar really soon. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught the procrastination bug. I think I caught it back in 1981 but it's a pesky little bugger and I can't seem to shake it.

If you'd like to be included on the email list for the ROFLs please send an email to Chicky Chicky Baby 2 at Yahoo dot com. If you sent me an email already please resend it to the above address. I'm trying to get better organized so I'm carrying separate emails with the hope that I'll finally stop burying things. Not that you care, but I know people have sent me emails about the ROFLs and now I can't find them and it's really making me cranky. It's the ROFLs for chrissake. I should be laughing, not throwing a whiny hissy fit. I could do both but not only do I procrastinate but I also can't multi-task.


And before I have to send out (another) belated birthday card I have to wish Mr. Big Dubya a happy, and hopefully not incontinent, 40th birthday.

I thought long and hard about what virtual present I would give to the big guy. A package of Depends? Nah, I'm sure he has plenty already. I hear he buys in bulk.

When I was watching House the other night I thought, "A walker! With painted flames!" Then
I thought it might be too showy for the birthday boy. People might think he was trying to, uh, compensate for other areas. Then again, he does refer to himself as Mr. BIG Dubya.

Then I came across this. True, it's from the women's department but I hear the Big Dub has maintained his girlish figure quite well. He can bring his sexy back and show his support for the greatest team ever.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Big Dubya!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And just like that, another generation of dog trainer was born.

All she needs is a bait bag full of liver treats and hot dogs and she could be me at any given training class I teach. Spooky.

Before I shot that picture my dog looked like this:

Lumpy McLumpypants with her lovey bear.

Then Chicky came along, pointed at the bumper and said "Lana, toy". Clear, firm and to the point. As in, "Toy. Here. Now." Just like a command should be given, complete with a finger point. And don't you know that the damn dog retrieved that toy for her. Do you know what this means? Not only does my dog listen but apparently my kid has been paying attention to what I've been doing, too. I've never been so proud.

Now, who wants to hire me? Anyone?



Alright, fine. Who wants to hire Chicky? She's clearly a natural and she'll work for animal crackers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Perfection. Almost.

Just taking a moment, a pause, from the Blog Exchange (don't forget to read my blog partner Chelle's lovely post about motherhood below) to award an April Perfect Post award to a lady who, though she lives thousands of miles away and we've never met, is joined to me in the most profound way. She's in love with a Red Sox fan. And if you love a Sox fan, even if you don't love their team, you have to love their passion and commitment.

The Original Perfect Post Awards – April 2007

Jen of One Plus Two wrote a beautiful post about her dear J's love for his team, the pain that accompanies that love and the triumph that we, Red Sox fans, occasionally get to feel. But you don't have to be a member of Red Sox nation to love that post. If you've ever given your heart to anything only to have it crushed repeatedly, and yet you go back for more because you just can't quit your love (it's a part of you, after all) then you'll relate to Jen's post.

Congratulations Jen!

Thanks to Lucinda at Suburban Turmoil and Momma K at Petroville for hosting the Perfect Post awards. Go to their sites to read more Perfect Post award nominees.