Friday, December 17, 2010

What REALLY goes on behind the scenes of those cute holiday photo cards? Well let me tell ya...

It's time for another installment of Chicky Family Christmas Pictures!

*Thundering cheers*

*Smattering of polite applause?*

*Fine, one lady in the back who wandered in thinking this was a sewing circle and is too embarrassed to leave. Hey lady, there's coffee in the back. Help yourself.*

If you're new to this blog you should know I have a history with photo Christmas cards. I tend to set the bar a little too high for myself, not considering the two sentient beings who are the focus of each card. They have opinions too. And their opinions suck.

But photo cards must be done and they must be perfect! For they are the only proof my children occasionally smile and love each other! Black eyes and scrapes that I Photoshop out notwithstanding.

This year's Christmas card photo session was held over two days. The first, Caroline was having nothing to do with it and screamed the entire time. The second, Caroline was having nothing to do with it and screamed the entire time. The distinction, the first day Caroline was overtired and had a head cold. The second she was being Caroline. Big difference.

On the first day we tried to take pictures of them together:

I will not smile but I will insist on holding this 8 year old dog toy that has been sitting outside for the past year. Later I will lick it when I think you're not looking.

Grimacing is almost like smiling, right?

I believe this move is called the "Step Off, Beeyotch. I'm swinging here."

On day two is was very cold but we decided to push on anyway. You know where this is going right?

I... don't know what to say.

Except, thanks dog! The random tail in the picture gives it visual interest, dontcha think?

I could go on. Forever. But I won't because I'm tired of uploading pictures to gawd damn Blogger.

We tried to take individual pictures, too. We got dozens of pictures like this from Miss I LOVE the camera! Take more pictures of ME:

And we got hundreds of pictures like this of Miss I AM A FIRESTARTER AND ANYONE WHO ANGERS ME SHALL DIE:

Actually, that was a good one. The other ones would eat your computer from the inside.

But in the end, we got our shot and the cards were created and ordered. And there they sit, on my counter, until Santa sends me some of his elves to help address them. Should be any day now.

See? Perfect children being perfectly perfect. No one will ever know! Bwahahahaha! Except all of my friends who read this blog. Shit.

I may have included a little surprise on the back. I just couldn't resist this picture.

But honestly, who could?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bluebird, bluebird, fly through my window

A tiny, portable piece of happiness sitting on my kitchen windowsill. Sometimes the little things are enough.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The only thing we have to fear is spontaneously falling off a really high bridge to our bloody, violent deaths

There are many things in this world I am afraid of - Losing my family, a fire in my home, hairy French Canadian men in Speedos vacationing on Maine beaches - but only one stops me dead in my tracks and paralyzes me like no other.


I hate them. Never liked them. Have always been afraid of them. I have no idea from which my fear stems, I just remember always feeling this way. Me + ground = good. Me + not on the ground = I’m going to die, You’re going to die, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIIEEEEEEE.

I was that kid in gym class who wouldn’t climb the rope or get up on the balance beam. I was the teen who would rather have chanced sneaking out the front door instead of going out the window (on a related note, I was grounded a lot), and I’m the person who always offers to hold the ladder so I don’t need to be the one who goes up it but then does so with one hand because the other is firmly over my eyes. And I will never, ever, get on a roller coaster. Not for all the tea in China. Not for a million dollars. Not for a chance to run my hands over Ryan Reynolds’ ab... Um, well, maybe that? No. No I can’t do it. Uh uh, no way. Ain’t gonna happen. Even if you promise me I can lick those magnificent muscles. Yeah.


Julia* has been bringing up places like Six Flags and Disney World. And when I say “Bringing Up”, I mean, “Maaaaawwwwmmmm, when are weeeee going to goooooo to Disney Wooorrrlllldddd?????” I blame school for this.

*shakes fist at public school but never for a second considers home schooling*

A number of her friends, mostly the ones with older siblings, have been going to these magical places and then bringing back tales of friendly over-sized rodents and OMG, like, super cool rides that go really really fast, Mom, and REALLY HIGH.

And of course, she wants to go too.

Mr. C and I have already decided that places like Disney World are strictly verboten until we can get some culture into our kids... and satisfy our own world travel needs, but mostly because we believe a trip to, say, Scotland or England or one of the other 25 countries of our dead ancestors would better serve our family than a trip to the happiest place on earth. That and we don’t feel like dropping thousands on a trip where the most fun our children will have will be at the hotel pool. Although, that will probably happen anyway, the ungrateful brats. What was I saying?

Right. Heights comma My Fear of Them.

This debilitating phobia has stopped me from climbing to the tops of *coughverysmallcough* mountains. From going all the way to the top of the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy and taking in that magnificent view. From walking across rope bridges at Rock City in Tennessee and taking in that magnificent view. Of Alabama. This fear gave me heart palpitations and had me nearly in tears during the entire 60 minutes wait at Space Mountain.

I was 14 freaking years old! That’s just sad, y’all.

I know my days are numbered. I know there will come a day when I’ll have to swallow my fear, and my heart, and get on a ferris wheel or some other instrument of torture with one of my kids and try to put on a brave face and pretend like I’m not about to throw up. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but it has to happen. Because no one wants to be that mom. You know, the one who screams like a girl on the flying teacups.

Who am I kidding? We both know that will be me.

* That would be Chicky I'm referring to. Just making sure you're keeping up.


*** Writing prompt courtesy of the lovely and talented Jozet who asked what my favorite amusement park rides were. This is my roundabout way of saying the snack bar.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ask me anything

No really. Anything at all. It's the lamest trick in the book o' blogging but I need something to write about. It's been a month, so I'd say that qualifies for the "desperate times" department. Me asking you to help falls squarely in the "desperate measures" category. It's like it was meant to be.

Of course, this will totally backfire if there's no one out there reading but that's my own damn fault. Wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

'Cause I've gotta have Faith? Or according to Glee, a gruyere on whole wheat.

*Spoilers ahead. If you watch Glee and haven't seen this week's episode yet, you may want to save this post for a later date.*

My husband and I don't go to church. My children have only been in a church for Christmas service and the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are not usually invited into our home. Jesus is a name we invoke only in fits of pique and other than the occasional blaspheme my children have little knowledge of the presence of Jesus Christ or God (dammit).

Mr. C was raised Congregationalist, went on retreats, sang in the choir, and participated in youth programs led by his parents who were youth leaders. I was raised Catholic, we were Saturday afternoon Catholics to be specific, and while I also spent many, many hours in the church, even attending a Catholic elementary school and singing in the chorus myself, I have my own reasons why I don't support or follow the teachings of the Catholic church any longer. Good reasons, I might add, but that's between me and God for the time being.

Yes, I believe in God or I try to anyway. To this day, I still want to believe in the existence of a higher power. But I struggle with His (or lower case, his) existence.

The fact that we haven't thrown our hat into the church-going ring, that we haven't adopted a local church of our own, that we haven't exposed our children to the teachings of the apostles and the New Testament, is a thorn in my Mother in Law's side and if my mother and grandmother were still alive, I have no doubt it would bother them too. Mr. C's mom is a spiritual woman who thinks that families are stronger for having a church to grow up in and around and my mother and Gram, God rest their sainted souls, held steadfast in their belief that the Catholic church, though hypocritical it may be, was the way to go.

I cannot, in good faith, hang my hat on either of those beliefs.

Last night I sat down to watch my favorite show, Glee, and Glee did something it rarely does - it disappointed me. I spent the entire hour watching the show horror movie-style: With my hands over my eyes, splayed fingers allowing only glimpses of the train wreck to get through, such was my fear that the writers of the show would "go there". They did. Well, almost.

Glee Tackles Religion is not something I thought I would ever see. Glee tackles Prince, yes. Glee tackles the musical stylings of Burt Bacharach, most definitely. Glee takes on the existence of God and the importance of allowing Him into your heart? *sigh*

The gist of the show was this: Finn gets hungry and makes himself a snack and upon inspecting the toasted cheese sandwich he cooked on the George Foreman, he sees the face of Jesus. The Grilled Cheesus. Praise gouda.

Finn decides that it's a sign and begins to pray to it for typical teen things - Please let him get his position as quarterback back, Please let him feel up his girlfriend. Spiritual things like that. Then Kurt's dad has a heart attack and ends up in a coma. This is when the host really hits the fan.

You see, almost everyone in the Glee club believes that God is good, God is great, God gives us chocolate cake. Not only that, but everyone needs a little God in their heart to get through life's trials. Everyone, that is, except Sue (more on her later) and Kurt who, bless his atheistic heart, believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and deems a morning at Mercedes' church is worthy only because he can wear a fabulous hat. "Very Christ chic," he says when appraising the congregation.

For her part, Sue has her own reasons for not believing in God and I'll give the writers props for making this a real issue and not a punchline. She worshiped her disabled sister and other kids made fun of her. Why would a God let something like that happen?

I don't have a problem with finding comfort in faith. In her darkest days, my mother found much comfort in God and the church and I respected her for that. What I have a problem with is how the show portrayed the only two non-believers as flawed, sad people who might eventually be swayed with the right miracle. To that I say, shame on you, Glee. And shame on you for that over the top "Papa, Can You Hear Me" number.

Does faith = God? God = faith? Are they two great tastes that taste great together? Personally, I believe you can enjoy your chocolate without your peanut butter and your faith without a God.

I need to ask, do we really need religion, or even the belief in God, to be sympathetic, well-rounded citizens of the earth? Can an agnostic, an atheist, a secular humanist, be seen as a person who can be trusted to find their own way and comfort without the presence of a higher power?

I've already asserted that I am not an atheist because I want to believe there is a God, though I have dabbled in Atheism in my younger days. I do not consider myself a Catholic, though I was baptized in that religion, or even a Christian, though I believe in and practice certain Christian principles. Do I need to be converted and will my children miss the benefit of a religious upbringing or even thanking His Almightyness for the mac and cheese at dinnertime? I don't have an answer for that and though I think some might have a strong opinion on this, we both know there are no hard and fast rules concerning faith.

The thing I think the producers and writers of Glee missed last night (emphasis on "I think", maybe I saw it differently than you did) is the presence of faith without the belief in God or religion. I believe in the beauty of nature, the soulfulness in my dog's eyes, the beauty in my daughters' laughter. Is that God's work? I'm not sure but it gets me through the day. I'm sure Kurt believes that music can move you and the right outfit can make your whole week. Sue believes in the power of discipline and... well I'm not sure what else Sue believes in but she loves her sister with a fierceness that displays a tiny bit of the good person hiding somewhere under that track suit.

The only points redeeming last night's show was the fact that Kurt did not "find" God when his father moved his fingers. He did not go to Jesus and neither did Sue, though she allowed her sister to pray for her. And that musical number with young Kurt? Tear. Jerker. But I don't feel like the point was driven home - Kurt didn't believe in something he couldn't see but he could reach out his hand and hold his father's. He believed in that. They missed the mark asserting that there are many people who don't need the presence of God or religion to be good people and whether some like it or not, their reasons and methods are sound.

There's no clean way to wrap this up. I have no desire to go into Thomas Henry Huxley's views or to debate whether God is dead or running for office in the Republic party. If going to Sunday mass grounds you and helps you be a better person, please continue. If a walk in the woods is enough to keep you from going postal on your neighbor and his barking dog, I'm all for it. If you feel the need to ram your idea of faith down my throat, don't let the door hit you where Buddah split you. Keep your dogma on a leash but let's talk about it like rational, thinking adults.

In the strangely coherent words of Puck, "It seems to me true spirituality or whatever you call it is about enjoying the life you've been given."

My name is Tania and I don't believe religion is for me right now and I'm not sure I believe in a single God, but I do believe I would enjoy a tasty grilled Cheesus right now.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

What's in a name? Well it has nothing to do with a rose, I can tell you that.

I've been a parent long enough to know that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, I will always, inevitably, mess up something.

Little gaffes will go unnoticed by everyone but me. Slightly larger ones will be noticed by my husband or a close friend. Big parenting fuck ups will have tongues wagging long enough to make me want to hide in my room with the covers over my head until the next scandal. Thankfully, I haven't made one of those mistakes yet but let's face it, it's only a matter of time. This is me we're talking about.

Then there are those parenting failures that no one considers mistakes but I know they are and there's nothing anything you can do to make me think differently. So there.

Case in point, I named my child the wrong name.

Back before we had Caroline* (AKA - CC.) I asked for help in naming my child. That's right, I asked the internet, complete strangers in some cases, to help me name my baby. And you did help and it was awesome. I not only got help narrowing down my search for the perfect baby name but you also shared stories with me about naming your own children and in some cases the story behind your name. And then we all sang kumbaya and ate some s'mores.

The list had all the names my husband and I considered worthy of our blessed spawn and methodically I worked through that list and crossed off one name after another for one reason or another until we came to an agreement about which we liked best, to be revisited once we could look upon the baby and give her a name that suited her best. I call it an agreement, Mr. C calls it taking into account his wishes for one specific name and then summarily squashing that idea and choosing one I liked better. Potato - potahto.

Finally (seriously), the magical day came when I pushed an 8 pound baby from my lady parts who really, really did not want to come out. There was much rejoicing and crying... maybe more crying than rejoicing - pretty sure she was holding on by her fingernails in there - and when the nurse, or maybe the doctor (fingernails, sharp ones), asked what my perfect cherub of a daughter was to be called, I said, "Caroline."

And then I wanted to kick myself in the kidneys because it wasn't right.

But it seemed too late to correct it. Everyone was calling her Caroline. They were cooing her name, "Sweet, sweet Caroline". My husband was, probably intelligently, keeping his mouth shut about the whole thing. We told our then two year old that her sister's name was Caroline. She called her "Baby Sister Carowine". It was such a perfect moment it would have made a bystander want to smack someone in the head, so overwhelming was the adorableness.

For the next couple of days I tried out the name on my perfect, beautiful, angry, squalling infant. For the next few weeks I tried out the name on my perfect, beautiful, angry, refused to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time infant. For the next few months I tried out the name on my perfect, beautiful, OMG CHILD WILL YOU PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY SLEEP FOR ONCE???

What was I saying?

Then when she was around four months old it hit me - The Perfect Name.

I can't believe it hadn't occurred to me before. The Name was a perfect combination of my Nana's name and Mr. C's Nana's name. It was a name that could easily transition from childhood into adulthood and could even be shortened into a cute nickname. Not to put too fine a point on it but it really was The Perfect Name.

And no, I'm not sharing it. I have a hard enough time not referring to my kid in private by the name. But don't think I don't think about it. A lot.

Not only did I goof on her name but I gave her a name that there is always a chance will be either spelled or pronounced incorrectly. After living with mine for as long as I have, I swore I would never do that to my kids. Now people refer to her as Carolyn. Oops, my bad.

In the grand scheme of things this really isn't bad. Let's call it a Whoopsie. One day she'll ask if she was ever going to be called something else and before telling her I'll remind her of that time I picked her up from school 30 minutes late in mismatched shoes with my hair not brushed and insisted on slowing down in front of that cute boy from school while yelling, "Yoohoo! Want a ride, sailor?"

It should soften the blow.

Introducing Murgatroyd Sparkles Sarsaparilla. It's so obvious, I don't know why it took me so long to think of it.

*After five years of blogging I think it's time to use their real names. They're both somewhere on this blog anyway.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh where, oh where can she be?

I'm still here. Last week I wasn't, however. I was here instead:

It was a last minute trip South of the Border. Threat of hurricanes and tropical storms be damned! We had an opportunity to spend a few days in paradise and we jumped on it like a starving dog on a raccoon carcass. Or like me on the complimentary minibar and all-you-can-drink margaritas.

(No mas tequila. No mas.)

For three days we were treated like royalty. I thought it was hard coming home from BlogHer this year but it was nothing compared to coming home after being able to open up the shades in the morning and stare at the ocean all day while ordering room services and doing nothing any more taxing than having a small Mexican man named Gabriel massage my shoulders or read a book a day.

Reality doesn't bite, it sucks. It sucks hard.

But all good things must come to an end and so did our short stint in paradise. Back to the toil of laundry and waiting for the school bus and needing to schedule things like haircuts for my children who decided to play hairdresser while on their grandparent's watch.

Maybe I'll take some more of that tequila after all.

(Pictures taken from the extensive patio off our suite with the Hipstamatic app for iPhone, under the influence of sunshine and tequila and comfortable chaise lounge chairs. Which is why I couldn't be bothered to stand up to take the pictures.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Whoever said birthdays were all candles and party hats never dared enter my head

Today is my birthday. I'm 38 years old.

Let me start by saying, 38 is not old. I don't feel old, though my knees might think differently, and compared to the lifespan of the average American woman, I'm in the prime of my life. But I can't help but compare myself, and where I am in my life right now, to where my mother was at this age.

My mother was a child when she got married, she was barely nineteen and less than a month after her 20th birthday she had me. Which means, when my mother was my age, she had an 18 year old daughter entering college. Therefore, adding it all up and carrying the one, I am old enough to have a child in college. But fast forward twenty years and I have a daughter entering kindergarten. My mind, it is significantly boggled.

I don't know how to process this. It has less to do with the biological possibility of having a child old enough to be considered a legal adult and more to do with grappling with my feelings about my mom and the way she and my father raised me compared to how I'm raising my children.

My parents were so young and naive and without modern conveniences like the internet to help them with their parenting choices (there is some sarcasm in that last part). For better or worse, they relied heavily on their families, specifically their parents from a far more removed generation, to lend guidance and share wisdom.

I don't agree with most of what they did, but here I am today - the first of my family to attend and graduate college. I've never been arrested and have never mixed up in drugs or criminal activity. Whether it was nature or nurture, and regardless of the negative things which I really don't feel like getting into, something went right.

My husband and I have years and experiences my parents didn't have. We have the education and the income they only dreamed of. Time will tell if the outcome is any better but I know what I'll be wishing for when I blow out the candles on my cake.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Then I went home and listened to Cat's in the Cradle while eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's


Can swim the length of a pool and back unassisted.

Can ride a two-wheel bike without training wheels.

Is learning to read and write at an amazingly fast pace.

Is constantly running, jumping, speeding around on her scooter, doing cartwheels.

Knows how to use a computer and an iPad.

Started Kindergarten last week.

Gets on a bus that takes her away from me every morning and to a place that encourages her to run and jump and learn and make friends.

Has friends I’ve never met.

Is growing up.


Am not as ready as I thought I was.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Important accomplishments and contributions - Check. Team player - Check. Doesn't smell like a fish market - Check.

Hey ladies. Feeling under appreciated at work? Want a big, fat raise but just don't know how to go about asking for one? Then I've got one word for you -


That's right, douche. Clean the private area. Take a special shower. Steam clean the meat curtains.

Summer's Eve ran this rather unfortunate ad in a recent issue of Women's Day magazine:

According to the ad a crucial step, nay, the FIRST step in approaching your boss for a raise is making sure your special place is nice and squeaky clean before leaving for work with the help of Summer's Eve Feminine Wash. Then eating a good breakfast. It's all about priorities, people.

And then if that wasn't bad enough, ladies, if you're worried you might stink up your boss's office with your womanly smell, maybe you should bring a packet of feminine cleansing clothes with you to the office to freshen up with before sitting down for the big talk. You never know what may waft up when you cross and uncross your legs.

Summer's Eve's brand manager has since apologized for the ad stating that "... Fleet Laboratories and Summer's Eve brand have the utmost respect for women." They respect you, but they still think you're kind of stinky.

Kind of makes you long for days like this, doesn't it?

Source -

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pimp my dining room. Seriously.

Calling all design-types!

This is my dining room.

The room looks light and bright in these pictures. This is due to the flash. It's not this bright, trust me.

As you can see it's red. Very red. And on the small side. Sit in it for awhile and I guarantee you will feel like I do when I sit in it for any amount of time - like sticking your thumb in your mouth while breathing amniotic fluid. But without the floaty feeling.

We did not pick the color that is currently on the walls, it came that way when we bought the place. Friends and family come over and they first thing they say is, Wow! Love the color! And I'm all, Oh yeah? It doesn't make you feel like you're about to slide through someone's vagina?

And then they make this weird face. I can't imagine why.

Anyways, because of the red it gets really dark in there. On days when there's bright sunshine it's light enough but it doesn't get any direct sunlight due to the wrap-around farmer's porch directly outside. The farmer's porch I dreamed of owning before realizing I would need to buy special lamps to keep myself from jumping from the second story in a fit S.A.D.

So during gloomy, rainy days, like today, for instance, it's not so much womb-like. Replace the w in womb with a t and it's exactly like that.

The furniture was purchased before we owned this house and it's very nice and quite special to me (built in my hometown before the last of the factories closed up. *Pours some out for the diminishing trade industry in the north east*) but it's also red in hue. And the curtains, or "swags", as I believe they're called... Don't get me started on those. Let's just say they seemed like a good idea at the time. You know, while going through postpartum psychosis.

Another view, including the wall color of the rest of the first floor through the doorway and a picture of some crazed pig-bunny creature my kid drew.
Also, in the right bottom corner, a tiny child-sized rocking chair that was mine when I was a baby, purchased new, also built in my hometown. I believe it's technically an antique. I believe I can technically begin drinking now.

I need to do something to this room immediately. I've been looking at it for two years now and it's time. I can't stand it any more. The only thing my style is the furniture. Everything else is too... colonial? Traditional? Early American? I don't know what to call it. The wall color needs to be changed. That damn light fixture needs to go too but I don't know if that's going to happen since I don't want to spend a lot of money right now. I'd love to get rid of the rug (too small, too red) but only if I can find a decent one for cheap.

One more picture because I am in love with my dining room furniture. Also observe, if you can see them, more window swags in my kitchen. I blame Bed, Bath and Beyond.
There's another light fixture in the kitchen that needs to go sooner than the one in the dining room because it hurts my eyes to look at it but that's another post.

As for the furniture, I know it's a little big for the room but it's not going anywhere. Which is what I told my husband when we bought it. You can divorce me or kill me, but I'll still figure out a way to go to my grave with that hutch and sideboard. I'm not kidding, that was our actual conversation after buying it. I do love it so. This is not Pottery Barn, particle board furniture. This furniture is art. I'm not kidding.

But don't get me wrong. I like Pottery Barn.

(Great, now I'm the Pottery Barn snob.)

So what do you think I should I do with this room? I'm thinking of painting the walls blue but I don't want a beachy blue or another colonial/traditional blue. However, I'm up for any other color suggestions. And I'm not too keen on painting the wainscoting and trim. The rest of my home is pretty traditional but I lean toward the more homey, Anthropolgie feel. I don't like super modern but I do want to update things a bit.

Looking at these pictures I can't get over how stuffy the room feels. It's just so serious. Have you met me? Not serious. We celebrate holidays and special occasions in that room - it needs some life, dang it!

I need your help, internets. I can't spend another Thanksgiving imagining I'm sharing a uterus with my in-laws. Help me pimp my dining room.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My heart

Children have no idea of the power they hold over their parents.

It’s just as well. If they did, imagine the possibilities.

It would all be puppies and ponies and chocolate for dinner.

But procuring small, fuzzy animals aside, children, from day one, hold us in the palm of their hands never realizing at any moment they can, and do, crush us. Oftentimes several times a day.

A fever will have us up all night with worry. A tantrum can send us into a fit of our own. A hug and a kiss melts our heart. The very heart they hold in their tiny fists.

It takes a hard heart to not be melted by a child’s hands, a child’s tears, a skinned knee, a hopeful look. We write about it, in baby books, in blogs. We tell our friends and our family anecdotes. Share life’s small moments. Show them the latest pictures whether they want to see them or not. We have to.

And as they grow older their power changes. They become manipulative but they’re still our babies. Still unable to comprehend what they can do to us. They have the power to wound us. Cut us to the core. Demolish us with a word. Make us bleed with an action. We grapple with our feelings for them. Love, hate, resentment, need. How crazy that all those emotions and more can be evoked all at once and by one small person. How insane we can feel this way because of...


Love at its purest as well at its most complicated.

We created them. They can end us. Give, take. Push, pull.

Power without supremacy. Surrender without frailty. Nurturing. Giving. Love.

My heart is their heart. They can do with it what they will.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Feral Woodland Monkey Child of Awesome

See this kid?

She’s awesome.

She’s almost always filthy, half naked, with her hair in her face, climbing something incredibly dangerous and sticking sharp things toward her face on purpose. While wearing a cowboy hat.

Like I said, she’s awesome.

I don’t know where she came from - probably from that whacked-out, crazy part of my family, which if I’m being honest is most of them so the odds were good I’d get at least one child who was just this side of cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs - but she’s mine and despite her penchant for scaling walls and laying on top of the wood stove while watching SpongeBob and eating stolen carbohydrates, I love her madly.

Because she’s made of awesome it makes up for all the sleepless nights/gray hairs/added trips to my therapist. Mostly.

Look at her. If you didn't know her you’d think from her diminutive size she’d be the quiet, retiring type. You’d think because she’s a female child she wouldn’t have the ability to make the other little boys her age run away in terror, crying real tears to their mothers. You’d think from the dresses and sparkly necklaces she wears she’d be a feminine, girly girl. But you’d be wrong. She's just herself - which is awesome.

She plays in the toilet, destroys books, sits on top of upright pianos, dumps the contents of full cereal boxes onto the floor and then sits next to the 90 pound dog to share the reward, uses both hands to eat her food even though she can, oh yes she can, use a fork and spoon. She’s not going to preschool for another year but her future teachers have been warned she’s coming. They are ready because they have seen her and I do believe they understand the awesome headed their way.

You have to love her, because she is awesome.

She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, hold her ground and protect what she believes to be hers. She will tell you about her day in great detail and you’d be lucky to understand five words - because frankly, they’d be awesome words - but she doesn’t care because darnit, she’s got something to say. She will hold your face to hers to make sure you’re listening intently. And you will, because her stories are... You know.

But at the end of the day when she’s exhausted from being awesome she’ll curl up on my chest like she did when she was even tinier and demand I sing Itsy Bitsy Spider while tickling the actions on her back.

And she sighs.

And she snuggles.

And I’ll do it some more.

Not because she asked but because being with her like that, quiet and still with that perfect little creature, even after she tried to ride the dog like a horse and dumped a bottle of soap all over the bathroom floor and drew in red crayon up the stairs and after a day when even her grandparents couldn’t take her and her antics for another minute... that time with my baby girl is awesome.

Because for a moment OMG SHE'S NOT MOVING. AWESOME!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An un-recap of BlogHer '10

(I tried really hard to add some pictures to this post but Blogger is being a complete douche canoe so for now think of this as one of those old school, photo-less posts.)

I sat down to write my BlogHer recap post, I put aside time, put the kids down for a nap and everything, but I found that I... can’t. I can’t write about it. I tried, I really did. But... no.

I want to write in depth about the love and community and sisterhood (okay, there were some brothers there too) I felt at the conference this year. And the lack of drama! Hooray!

I wanted to write about getting my groove back, at least for a few days. About high heels and pretty dresses and statement necklaces (!) (some of those sparkly gems deserve extra exclamation points) and getting my hair done up in rollers while in the midst of a hundred people and the stylist’s shock at how well my hair took a curl. (*brush, brush, brush some more, now brush it that way and back again, flat iron, brush brush brush*. Damn.)

I wanted to write about how I had planned to hang it up once I got back - give up blogging, no more conferences, maybe even shutting down my Twitter account (*cue collective gasps*) - but how being surrounded by so many influential women who have created so much from “just” a blog... Well, at least I’m inspired to get off my couch more, if not fully bitten by the writing bug yet.

I wanted to write about how I acted like a five year old during my first trip to NYC since I was little girl and spent most of my time outside the hotel looking around like I had never seen a tall building before, and Wow! All the people in New York are so beautiful! (“No Tania, just the ones on Park Avenue.”) And how I would totally move there if only I could take just a half acre of my land with me. I could be convinced to lower that to a third. A quarter?

I wanted to talk about dancing (except for those Amish types) and dinner at midnight with people I love and people I had just met (whom I now love) and meeting kindred spirits who are gracious when they have to let you into your hotel room at 2am because you thought you lost your I.D., credit card and room key but - Surprise! - you didn’t. It was in the lining of your bag the whole time. Oops. (I swear I was sober.)

But I just can’t. The full extent of the conference has not hit me yet. When I think of it, BlogHer ’10 is all one big pink glow and, honestly, I think I’d like to keep it that way.

So to you and you and you and definitely you (you know who you are), thank you for the conversations, the hugs, the meals out, the jokes, and for holding my hand and convincing me that everything was going to be okay even when you had no idea that’s what you were doing. I’d link to every one of you but I’m afraid the sheer magnitude of blogs I’d have to call out to would prohibit me from finishing and publishing this post. And I don’t want that to happen. It would be a disservice.

So just, thank you. I think I’ll stick around a bit longer.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Step into the heart of darkness. Or as I like to call it, vacation with my kids.

It's been a busy couple of weeks 'round these parts.

Mr. C. took two weeks off in a row for vacation - something virtually unheard of for the man who is looking into having his Blackberry, Macbook AND iPad surgically attached to him, kind of like Iron Man for geeks - so we decided to make the best of it and scheduled not one but two separate vacation trips. First up, Story Land in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Don't know about Story Land? It's an amusement park best suited for the under 10 year old set that's been in operation since the 1950's. It's quaint, it's heavy on the Mother Goose motif, the only way out is through Ye Olde Gift Shoppe of Doom. It's awesome. I went there as a kid, as did Mr. C., and by jeebus our kids were going too! So we went. Along with half of New England.

Okay I'm exaggerating. Only a third of New England was there. We went mid-week when it was slow.

The kids loved Story Land and we're planning on going again next year. Because next year, poor CC won't be stuck in a stroller most of the time. Maybe. She has a tendency to wander and a stubborn streak as big as Texas and shut up, husband of mine, she DOES NOT GET THAT ENTIRELY FROM ME. At least I only wander when there's something shiny to look at and not every time we encounter something that plugs into the wall.

CC had a good time, though. We threw her in a germ-infested pit of plastic balls and she was happy as a toddler in a germ-infested pit of plastic balls.

One of the highlights, for Chicky at least, was Cinderella's Kingdom:

A place I thought for sure would be skipped. My daughter loves pirates and beating up little boys, but she can take or leave a Princess. But on this occasion, bring on the sparkles! And I mean that almost literally.

Want to see something that strikes fear in my heart and wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat?

Look into my eyes. You will buy me a $15 soft serve ice cream and there's nothing you can do about it. And I'll take that row of stuffed Humpty Dumpty's too.

Dude. Just... DUDE. When we saw the face painting stand I thought for sure she was going to ask for the SpiderMan or the one that looked like a snake was eating the wearer's face but no, she went for... that. Whatever that is.

Come to think of it, sans fake gold crown on her forehead and that was me in high school. Only I wore more blue eyeshadow.

She had to be coaxed to sit on Cinderella's lap. To be fair, I'm pretty sure she took Cinderella for what she was - an underpaid, blond teenage girl in a dress that look suspiciously like the one I wore to a prom in '87. So she just stood next to her. All the better to make a quick getaway from.

Cinderella needs more blue eyeshadow.

Later in the trip we took the girls to Santa's Village, another place I had been to as a kid, and I'm not going to get into that trip except to say there was a very large cross and a huge nativity scene there and I'm sorry but you're not going to rationalize that away enough for my heathen liking.

I'd show you pictures of my children posed on sleighs and standing next to fake penguins and elves, just as I had a wee child, but I lost most of them in the great iPhoto crash of '10. They may still be on my memory card or they may be on my hard drive or I may have been ready to start shooting tequila at that point so let's move on.

The next week after barely any rest from four days in New Hampshire we set off for my sister's house on Cape Cod. If you have a relative who lives near an ocean and happens to own an eating and drinking establishment, I highly recommend you take them up on the offer to stay with them. Especially if that relative has extra bedrooms so you don't have to spend another week with your beautiful but non-sleeping children and has a seemingly never-ending reserve of wine. I'd show you pictures but I don't have many. Much too busy sleeping and eating and drinking and laying in the sun and Story Land who?

Which leads me to today - A mountain of laundry and a house in questionable condition, I still haven't caught up on my sleep and three days until I leave for BlogHer to get it all done. And no never-ending supply of wine.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

I could write a clever title or I could watch my cat stalk a chipmunk. Guess which one I picked?


Yep, I'm still here. Not writing but still... Here.

If I don't write, does that still make me a blogger? Probably not, huh? I'm going to a blogging conference in a couple of weeks, does that make me a blogger? Not exactly, right?

I love what blogging did for me in the past - the free therapy, the friendships, the support, I am much in debt to this space and to all who drop by. But being a blogger sometimes means sharing pieces of ourselves with friends and strangers we might not otherwise share and let's face it - I am not usually a sharer. As much as I hate the word, but use it I must even at the risk of sounding cryptic, there are issues I need to work out that most days take center stage in this rattled brain of mine and are making it impossible to write something breezy or silly, or even heartfelt and memory capturing.

It's like a big old yellow road block complete with flashing lights and sirens. Annoying sirens. Really annoying sirens that sound like a Ke$ha song on constant repeat. Yes, that bad.

When faced with that it's nearly impossible to write something coherent and coherent writing is kind of the name of the game in blog land. Otherwise, it would all be "Lollipops molecule sod halitosis Squirrel!" It's already kind of like that around here.

I could also go on about the ways blogging and bloggers, specifically Mommy Bloggers, have changed since I started writing in 2005. Five years may not seem like a lot of time but it is light years away from where we started. But I'm not going to go on about it. It's been done, let's move on.

Maybe I need to quit or maybe I need to change my blog name or maybe I need a new scene. Maybe I need Prozac or Xanax or Wellbutrin or Red Bull or whatever else all the kids today are taking. Maybe I need a writing class to get the juices flowing... Okay clearly I need a writing class because, Juices Flowing? Ew.

Maybe I need to grow a set, stop being afraid, admit how I feel. Maybe I need to find my voice again.

Yeah, that's it. I need to find my voice again. It was here a minute ago. I'll go check the dryer lint trap and see if it's in there.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A wish is a dream your heart makes when it's busy thinking about cake

Oh, hey there, internet. What's happening?

What's happening with me? That's so nice of you to ask.

Let's see.... My kids both had birthdays in the last couple of months, but did I blog about it? Noooo. So let's make up for lost time, shall we?
Chicky turned five, FIVE, had a pirate-themed party at home where I made the cake...

Idea for the cake courtesy of Fairly Odd Mother
Made with my own two hands.

and we invited 16 of her closest friends, thereby cementing my desire to never have an at-home birthday with that many children ever again. Not that the children were not lovely and well behaved, because they were, but because my poor, weak heart can't take that kind of pressure again. And as we all know, it's all about me and my poor, weak heart. Wishes of adorable preschoolers be damned!

And speaking of preschoolers, Chicky no longer fits into that category. She, as she loves to tell everyone who will listen, graduated and is on her way to kindergarten in the fall. Or next week. She has a questionable grasp of time.

CC, on the other hand, has one more year before she can start preschool as she only just turned two, TWO, last week.

I am happy to note that after her most recent well visit she is now on the growth charts and is nice, healthy and average sized... for an 18 month old child. S'alright though, because what she doesn't have in size, she makes up for in sheer will and attitude.

She is a blur, constant motion, and I am unable to take a decent picture of her because even those super powerful, state of the art cameras that wildlife photographers use aren't fast enough to catch this child. She runs, she jumps, she climbs like a monkey. She has no fear, except of loud noises, and I can't get anything accomplished because I always have to have one eye on her, lest she find a new and interesting way to cause bodily harm to herself.

She is, in a word, awesome.

They're both awesome. And they both deserve their own post. I should get on that.

But until then, I will go remove the tiny Playmobil toy from CC's mouth. Again.

Friday, May 07, 2010

We interupt this blog with a special "I Hate Mother's Day" announcement...

I still don't like Mother's Day very much.


There are others who hate it with a white hot fiery passion for reasons only they can explain and those people deserve to be recognized.

*getting on my (wee, tiny) soapbox*

*really, it's more like a palette than a box*

*okay fine, it's a bath mat*

Last year I wrote this post about my feelings about this upcoming Sunday

(If you haven't figured out what this Sunday is, that would be Mother's Day. Please catch up and don't forget to hold onto your travel buddy's hand. Wouldn't want you to get lost again. Poor dear.)

Since then, many, many people have Googled the words "I Hate Mother's Day" and have ended up here. To you random web searchers, may I offer you a hearty welcome and a scone? Because gurrl, we've all got some issues to work out, now don't we?

As I said last year, I am more than happy to open up this safe place as a virtual support group for fellow pseudo-holiday-for-those-of-the-maternal-persuasion haters. Please, if you're here because you found your fingers flying over your keyboard in a fit of rage, feel free to vent 'til your heart's content.

(Ooh, that rhymed. Sweet.)

You obviously need a space to express your feelings about your mom, your wife, your husband/boyfriend/baby daddy, or yourself and motherhood as a whole. I applaud you for having the guts to write it out, even if you did so anonymously. I hope it helped a little. Here, that scone wasn't very big. Have a cookie.

If, however, you feel more comfortable lurking in the shadows might I suggest you have a gander at some other, very passionate comments on that post and know you are not alone.

Or if you're one of those well-adjusted types - I hear rumors of that strange breed walking amongst us, those with not a hint of chip on their shoulder or darkness in their heart - maybe you could impart some wisdom upon those of us who would like a glimpse into the mind of someone who doesn't go through the day with a grudge, a whimper or a sigh.

As for me, when I used the word "hate" I may have overstated my feelings. Mother's Day makes me sad and I hate to be sad, but I can't hate a day set aside to honor those women who nurture and love those in their care either through biology or other avenues. I can hate the hype but I don't hate the day. Besides, today is beautiful and it's hard to muster such strong feelings of loathing when the sun is shining and the air is warm.* And my husband sent me cupcakes. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend but cupcakes make me smile too. They don't make me sparkly but they make my stomach happy.

So please, go, vent, bitch, cry... Whatever you need to do. Or leave kind, reassuring words. It's all very cathartic, ain't it?

*If you're wondering where the glass-is-half-empty Tania is, come see me tomorrow when it's dark and stormy and I have a cupcake tummy ache. I don't think this life is beautiful crap is going to stick.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ramble on

So... yeah.

I've been moping. My dog, Lana, has been moping. We've been mopey. Moper McMopersons. My cat, Nina, aka Jabba the Cat - who is trying her best to lose that nickname, now that I've just found out she has a hyperthyroid problem and is losing weight super fast and Hello! More vet bills! *sigh* - however, has been thrilled there is one less slobbery beast to steal her food and fight for position near me on the couch. And the kids have been fine - Chicky likes the shock value of talking about death and CC only once stepped into the sun room and asked "Where Fisher go?", which broke my heart into ten million tiny pieces... But that was a week ago. And your comments and emails and words of love were so very welcome and filled my cold, dead heart with warmth until it turned black and inky again. So there's that.

(That's me saying Thank You, by the way.)

To get me out of this funk, and possibly kick start my writing again - did I mention Chicky had a birthday? Three weeks ago? No? She's five now. I should probably write something about that... before she's 15. And CC. Where do I even begin to write about CC? - might I suggest a little audience participation?

Wait! Don't go. It's painless, I promise.

I poseth to you, dearest reader, this question -

At what age do (did) you feel comfortable allowing your child(ren) outside to play alone and unsupervised (except for the surreptitious viewing out the window by overprotective parent, oh, every five seconds)? Does your location factor in to your decision? And how far will you let them go out of view? Next door to the neighbor's house? Two feet from the front door? In the backyard, but only if tethered by a ten foot leash and only if Child Services isn't looking?

What sayeth you?

Monday, April 26, 2010

4/19/02 - 4/26/10

We'll miss you, buddy. You were loved.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Fisher King

My dog is dying.

I don't mean to sound fatalistic, but it's the truth - Fisher, my beloved yellow lab, will be dead soon.

Actually, if I'm being completely truthful it's not that simple. He is not technically dying as there is not one illness that is ravaging his body and leading to his inevitable demise. There is no cancer spreading through his organs causing failure, no disease that will stop his heart at any moment. Instead he is cursed with a number of ailments which individually would allow him to live much longer but together will force us to make that difficult decision no pet owner wants to make - when to consider euthanasia. So I was wrong. He's not technically dying, just close to death. Six of one, half dozen of another - the result is the same, it’s the way he gets there that’s the kicker.

To date, Fisher has hepatitis, bladder stones, occasional elevated kidney values (due to hepatitis, we think), two torn ACLs, recurring UTIs (due to his medication), constant and painful ear infections (also due to the medication but also because of his breed and a predisposition) and the latest, a slipped disc in his back. The last one may just be the proverbial straw. He's in so much pain - So. Much. Pain. - and, unfortunately, nothing is really operable. I guess it's more than slightly ironic he was named for a tragic character.

It's the pain and obvious discomfort that is making this difficult for everyone. A Labrador Retriever is a tough breed. A dog bred for icy waters and thickets and extreme activity. They do not feel pain the way some other breeds do, so to actually witness the grimaces and twitches, to see his anxious, expectant face at the bottom of our deck stairs while he waits for me to come to him so that I can help lift his back end up over the few steps it will take for him to get back into the house, to see him take a few steps and have to lay down... It's heartbreaking.

And he's not even 8 years old.

In two weeks he'll have his birthday. For months I've been saying, Please, just make it to your birthday. Make it to 8. I don't know why 8 seems more reasonable than 7, why a few weeks or months make such a difference in my heart, but they do. He's supposed to live to be 12, I'm supposed to have at least four more years with him. It's not fair, I rail to myself and to my husband and to whoever else will listen. It's not fair, he's too young, too loved. It's not fair. But dying at 7 is unconscionable.

I watch him as he restlessly paces a few steps, trying to find a comfortable place to rest. He doesn't go far, he just can't, but he's up and down often. I watch him stare at the grass from his perch in the sunroom and I can almost hear him weighing the importance of walking down those deck steps to relieve himself against the pain he'll inevitably feel going up and down. But walk down the steps he must; one of the side effects of the Prednisone he takes is excessive thirst and frequent urination. Pee-dnisone is what some call it. At least it helped him get his appetite back. And I have a couple of rug cleaners, so there's that.

Sometimes I feel like we're living the canine version of hospice, waiting for the "patient" to decide when it's time to go, but there will not be a time like that. We need to decide for him. I suppose that's where a dog has the advantage - we can euthanize if things get too bad. There will be no machines or ventilators or life saving measures beyond what we've already done, no unnecessary suffering. If one more thing happens or if he gets much worse we'll need to end his life. His vet agrees. You've already done so much for him, she counseled as I worked things out while she listened.

Fisher is a dignified dog, we will let him go with as much of his dignity intact as we can.

But yet...

That all sounds so simple, doesn't it? Like a day will come when we'll just... know? When the combination of disease and pain and, oh how I hate to say it, cost will come to a head and we'll be forced to make the appointment to put everyone out of their respective misery? I don't think it will be that easy. There are far too many factors at work.

I feed him his pills in bits of bologna, the prednisone, the pain killers, the various antibiotics and assorted medications for ailments I do not understand, and sometimes I think, it would be easier if he were gone.

God help me, it would be easier.

The expense, the damn expense, would be gone. Oh, the expense. You'd choke on your tongue if you knew. No more yellow dog hair covering every square inch of my house, both inside and out. I'd get my sunroom back, since it would no longer be the sick ward. The constant smell of urine would abate. The trips back and forth to the vet. The looks from the vet techs when they see I'm there again with Fisher. Fisher's here! We love him, he's such a good dog, they say as they scratch his head. Ooh, he's even worse this time, poor Fish. However, he still wiggles with happiness. He somehow musters the strength to reciprocate the love. He still gets excited about meal time and treats and the occasional marrow bone. He stares expectantly when I come near. My puppy is still in that beaten down body. Somewhere.

But I fear the morning I'll wake and find Fisher unable to move on his own and I'm terrified I'll have to deal with it alone because my husband is off on a business trip. Will I be strong enough to physically move him and emotionally to hold it together in front of my kids? I think of these things far too often.

So go ahead and tell me he's just a dog. I will passionately disagree.

He's is a good dog... no, a great dog. Cranky, yes, and sullen occasionally but a lot of that can be chalked up to his chronic liver problems that were there long before we knew about them. He's not perfect by any stretch but perfect for me. I'll miss looking into his deep, knowing brown eyes. I'll miss him at my feet in the evenings and absentmindedly letting my hand fall to stroke his side. I'll miss rubbing his ears and hearing his satisfied groan. I'll miss the bent tip of his tail, the silly tricks he does for a treat, the way he snaps to attention when he knows we're "working". He's my dog and he is important.

I miss him already and he's not gone yet.

But I'm preparing and while we wait I'll spoil him. I owe Fisher that. He was at my leg when I cried for my mother. He was there when I needed someone to help me off the couch when I was hugely pregnant. He helped me in my somewhat crazy choice to become a dog trainer. I owe him more than I've been able to give back so the least I can do is give him the best now while I can. A scratch, help up the stairs, a marrow bone and a comfortable spot to rest his painful body and someday soon, a kindness that at this very moment brings me to tears when I think of it.

Marrow bone, not a pound of flesh but it will do.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hello friend

You know how you can have a really good friend, have lots in common, and really enjoy talking with them - and do, regularly - but then you lose touch with that good friend for months and months because life gets in the way and you feel like you just don't have a minute to dedicate to catching up or commiserating or asking for or offering help but you miss them and think of them often and would really like to talk with them again and you know you just need to set aside some time to catch up because it's so important but so much time has gone by and you start to feel really awkward about picking up the phone or sending an email because all that time has passed so you think about it and think about it and wonder how you would start the conversation after so much time has gone by?


Hello, friend. I've missed you. How have you been?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I don't know how I do it

Hey there, blog. How have you been? Me? Oh, I've been a little bit busy. I'm working on a new/old endeavor. I have two kids who won't give me a moment's peace. I have a husband who travels extensively for work, leaving me with even less peace than I would normally get.

(If you're playing along at home, we would be up to 0% peace. Scratch that, .5% peace. Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom and wait for the savages to stop beating on the door and begging for snacks/television/books/someone to wipe their butt. It's called "Self Preservation".)

My family and I, we make it through the day the best we can and some days that best is not so good. But funny enough, friends and acquaintances, upon hearing about my group blog or latest trips Mr. C has taken that require him to away from home about 75% of the time (true story - in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my husband was gone something like 16 out of 21 days. Yeah, that month sucked.) say to me, "I don't know how you do it."

Want to know my secret, how I "do it"?

The dishes are basically done...
Except for the stack next to the sink that never seems to get smaller.

And the house is reasonably clean.
Just don't look under the couch. Or in the corners. And pay no mind to the pet hair stuck to the furniture. And for the love of Pete, DON'T LOOK BEHIND THAT CLOSED DOOR.

The kids are well taken care of...
When was the last time I gave them a bath?

and are well fed.
I always serve vegetables with their boxed mac and cheese. And sometimes they eat them.

And occasionally, after everyone is cared for, fed and put to bed...
Please sleep through the night for once, baby. Mama is begging here.

the pets are attended to and medication is dolled out...
When was the last time the dogs had a walk? And is that the cat box I smell??

emails are sent...
Only five people I forgot to email in the past week? Not bad!

toys are picked up...
thrown in a box/kicked under the couch/thrown in the trash.

phone calls are made...
Damn, when was the last time I spoke to my Nana?

and I've written something for my other blog and attended to that business...
So what if I stay up until midnight to get things done? That's why coffee was invented. WEEEE!

I get some time to relax and take care of myself.
Work out? Psssh. How about five minutes with wine and Nutella? That's, er, not too unhealthy.

But is that really any worse than how most have it? Sure, most parents I know have another spouse around to help out but that's not my life right now. Mr. C has to travel for work and that's not going to change any time soon so we make do the best we can with the time we have. We're surviving, it's not optimal but, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, we make it work. And if that means feeling incredibly guilty for wanting to have an evening out with friends, so guilty that it leaves a slight black mark on the occasion for me, or putting off that yoga class I want to take because going means less time together as a family...

Bottom line? This time in our lives kind of sucks. Not entirely - the kids are great, Mr. C and I are happy together and at least one of us has a job that put food on our table and keeps a roof over our heads - but life is difficult right now. However, I get by knowing it won't always be like this and I am buoyed but the fact that I'm not alone. Um, right?

In the meantime, there's caffeine and chocolate. Now I only wish I could find them. Maybe they're under the dishes...