Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shower Thyself?

I’m an old fashioned girl at heart and downright nit-picky about some things. In my silly little head, there’s etiquette to be followed at certain events. I don’t know where these rules came from, I don’t know who made that shit up, but these rules need to be followed. Because I said so.

I’m the first one to admit that I hate a wedding or baby shower. I would consider a root canal a viable third option if I had to decide where to spend a gloriously sunny Sunday. Let’s face it, the weather is always beautiful when we are stuck inside watching some friend open gift after gift while we ooh and ahh over crock pots or breast  pads. Truly, a woman’s life is sooo exciting. I hate these events so much that I mostly choose to not attend, but I’m pretty good at remembering to send a gift along anyway.

I hate these events when they happen in my honor too. I begged everyone to please not hold a shower for me when I married EN. I was pleased to be in the hospital, having already given birth to Sugar when her shower was held. Some friends knew this had happened and planned not one but TWO early showers when I was pregnant with Spice. I’m embarrassed at being the center of attention and opening piles of gifts makes me feel weird. However, it is nice to celebrate weddings and babies and I would never begrudge anyone a gift. I love to buy presents for people.

Even worse than a shower or party that forces gift giving is one thrown by the guest of honor herself (not being sexist. I’ve never seen a man do this). I was once invited to a neighbor’s house for a housewarming party. She further told us that it was called a housewarming party so people would bring her presents. Oh, and also bring an appetizer to share. I was completely taken aback and only went to this party because I was forced into it by another neighbor. Of course she had a great big gift table set up by the front door. I'll also add here that she never sent a thank you card either. 

It seems odd to me that someone would want to throw their own bridal or baby shower. Surely, they will get lots of gifts already, right? Surely there is someone else in their life that will take the role of hosting the party, right?

Across my Facebook status feed comes this little gem on Monday night:
Ok people I need you to email me ur addresses so I can send invitations for my baby shower November 5th! It’s a girl!

Then on Tuesday morning:
Didn't realize how much work a baby shower is! Trying to find a big enough place to have it any ideas???

Y’all? No no no… this is not how it is supposed to be! I am stunned by this, appalled even. When did it become OK to throw a shower on your own behalf? I like that she mentions the sex of the baby in the first post. Let’s not be confused and buy her anything blue. And in her second post, is it me being snarky or is she hinting for someone to offer up a place where she can host her own baby shower for the hundreds of people she’s obviously expecting. Her next post is likely to be something like, “Let me know what you plan on bringing for food/beverages!”

Call me bitchy, bossy or crazy, but I think it’s tacky as hell to host your own shower. At least have the class to ask a sister or someone to act like they are doing all the planning. I don’t care if the guest of honor actually does it all behind the scenes, but this kind of behavior is rude. 

While we are on the topic of showers, can we talk about how people dress at these events now? It used to be that the guests all dressed up in their Sunday best. Nowadays even the guest of honor shows up in ripped jeans. I guess she was too busy updating her Facebook status to: Don’t forget my shower is today at 1:00!!! Buy me something good… and expensive! 

Ice Princess

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Show Ready: Week Three

I’ve not mentioned the real estate transactions in a few posts because I’m sure everyone was sick of listening to it. So here’s the update: we were supposed to close on the new house on September 20. Then September 23. Now we just don’t know. In fact, we told the bank if they didn’t pony up the money to fix the heat, we were walking. I mean seriously, how unreasonable are we? We have to have heat on for about half a year here. Also, there’s a little rule in the mortgage industry that says something like, “If the house doesn’t have heat, we ain’t lending you jack.”

We gave the bank this message on Friday and we have heard nothing since. Really, not a word. So yesterday I was pissed. I told EN I don’t even want that fancy shell of a stupid house any more. In his usual fashion, he says, “Whatever you want.” Add to this drama the fact that no one seems to want our current house. It’s been listed since September 6, hitting the internet on the 7th… and we’ve had three showings and an Open House. I’m underwhelmed by the excitement these buyers are showing.

As I drove home yesterday I was ready to call it quits and stay living in the house I love, surrounded by assholes. My phone clinked and after carefully pulling over to the side of the road before checking, I saw that someone would like to see the house. Just when I convinced myself to take it off the market.

That means we had to go home and make it all Show Ready again. I couldn’t make the dinner I had my heart set on because it has curry in it and who wants to buy a house that smells like curry? On second thought, that surely would have covered the smell of dog someone mentioned at the open house.  The girls do their homework, I clean up after dinner and we start picking up. The house was in reasonable shape by their bedtime.

We go upstairs to find cat puke everywhere. Seriously, the cat’s food dish is in an uncarpeted room, which is attached to yet another uncarpeted room. Why does she feel the need to walk through both rooms before puking on the hall rug? Is that the high-impact version of binging and purging?

I settle Spice in with a story and a back rub and move on to Sugar’s room. Mind you, little Lola puppy has to travel from room to room with me. Why? I’m not sure, but both Sugar and Spice insist on kissing that dog good night. I settle onto Sugar’s bed while she reads to herself (thank God!) and I rub her back. She shoots straight up in the air after a minute and starts screeching at the dumb dog who has decided to pee on Sugar’s bed… on her dry clean only comforter.

Gross, gross, gross. So many issues here, I’m not sure where to start. Ok, dog peeing in house… really? She hasn’t done that in months and I’m not sure why she did it then. She had gone outside within a half hour so it’s not like we were keeping her from her potty.

But the bigger question, Ice Princess, YOU IGNORANT SLUT*, why does your CHILD have a dry clean only comforter? I have nothing to say for myself. I can only blame that asshole that wears a red suit that comes around once a year. He’s the one that bought Sugar the ‘grown up comforter’ and didn’t bother to read the care instructions first. Even worse, this comforter is marketed to tweens by JC Penney… Really? Dry clean only? Who’s brilliant idea was that?  

Now it’s 8:45 and I need to figure out what to do with the pee comforter. I did what every other good mother would do, I shoved that fucker into the washer, swearing the whole time, and washed it. I used the delicate cycle, that’s the same as dry cleaning, right? It must be because it came out looking fabulous.

What really pissed me off is that I had a load of laundry in the dryer that I was too lazy to fold. Since I had a whole house to clean, I figured I could just leave the clothes in the dryer until after the showing. No now I can’t. So I tumble them for a bit to get the wrinkles out and I cut into my Words for Friends game playing to fold the damn clothes.

Living show ready sucks as bad as I thought it would. 

Ice Princess

PS: If you are too young (Fly Girl) to understand the "You Ignorant Slut" line, Google it. I will NOT change your diapers AND educate you on the finer lines from old school TV. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bachelor Party

EN is out tonight at a Bachelor Party for one of our friends that is getting married in October. We both adore Creig. He makes us laugh every time we see him. Do you know any other person on this earth that dances the Electric Slide to EVERY song? As I sit here alone, having a few drinks (yes, drinking alone! It’s been Hella Week in the real estate process!) I reflect back and realize that my anniversary is in a few days. It’s likely that thirteen years ago on this night, I was sitting alone in a different house while EN was whooping it up with his friends at his own Bachelor Party.

I should mention that while EN and I prefer to go out together, neither of us has a problem with one going out without the other. It is our agreement that we are upfront about it. If one wants to go somewhere with his/her friends, we discuss it and if there’s a reason the person staying home has issue, we speak up. We don’t play that game where we agree to go out as a single, then come home and the partner is pissed. That’s just stupid. Fight beforehand and plan on make-up sex when the other returns.

So, thirteen years ago I planned ahead for EN’s big night out. I went to the video store (pre-Netflix, y’all) and rented several chick flicks. I don’t remember two of them, but one was Terms of Endearment. EN left for the night, intending on sleeping at the best man’s house, and I curled up in my bed with the dogs and zoned out to my movies. I laughed and cried and was blissful. It was a night off from the stress that comes along with wedding planning.

At 2 am the phone rang. Terror struck my heart. A bunch of drunken buffoons had been tearing up the town and I thought the worst. Instead, it was EN. He. Was. Loaded.

EN: Hi Baaaaby.
Me: Hi. Why are you calling?
EN: Because I miss you.
Me: You miss me? You’ve been whooping it up with your pals!
EN: I wanna come hoooooome.
Me: Really? You want me to get up and come and get you?
EN: Please? And can you take us to breakfast too?

So, off I go. Yes really. I took off my jammies and Winnie The Pooh bathrobe and got dressed and went to get my little party animal. I pulled up to the best man’s house and I could see EN waiting outside with one of his buddies. They stumbled to the car and gave me directions to the place they wanted to go for breakfast.

We were seated amongst the drunkest of the drunk and the weirdest of the weird. There were cross dressers, bikers and college kids, all waiting to be served and acting like they weren’t under the influence. It was quite something for me, being the only person not intoxicated.

The three of us sat down and placed our orders. The food came quickly and we dug in. Side note: remember being in your 20’s and thinking that eating fried food in the middle of the night was a good idea? Anyway, we ate and chatted about their fun-filled night. Suddenly, EN sat back and gave THE LOOK. Oh, shit… He excused himself and stumbled to the bathroom. I tried to talk louder to our friend, knowing what was coming. EN is by far the loudest puker in the world. All of a sudden, RETCH RETCH RETCH! Everyone in the restaurant gave pause to listen and our friend looked at me, “Is that EN?” Why yes, yes it is. I continued eating. If those pricks are dragging me out at 2 am, I’m enjoying my food. EN came back to the table and polished off his meal, his belly was empty now after all.

I drove our friend back to the best man’s house and EN insisted he still wanted to go home, so that’s where I took him.

And so far, we lived happily ever after.

Ice Princess

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Handwritten Notes

I love thank you cards, but I have to say, I’m not always great about sending them out. When I got married to EN I read that it was proper etiquette to send them out within three months. So you bet your ass I sent them out over the three month period. I look back on that and I am so ashamed.

When I was pregnant with Sugar, I just started doing them every time I got a gift. I was on bed rest right after my work shower, so those went out quickly. I was in the hospital having her when my friends and family shower was going on, so I did those as soon as we came home from the hospital. I still think that since EN was there playing “mommy,” he should have had to write them out. Every thank you card for gifts and flowers celebrating her birth was sent out within a week. I wanted those to be out before I sent out her birth announcements. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know either.

When I had Spice, I did the same thing. I sent them out immediately, so I never had a big pile to do. And really, those little babies sure slept a lot so I had time to do them. Hey Freaky Ice Princess, you should have been NAPPING!

For the most part, I only send a handwritten thank you card for big occasions like weddings and babies. I’ve tried to be very diligent about having the girls write thank you cards for everything. I know they are delighted to receive mail and I’m sure their friends are too. It’s generally a painless process. Sugar is old enough now to write everything she wants to say and be done with it. Spice either copies what I write, or just signs what I write, and even if she didn’t, I’m not sure I’d trust her enough to send them out without reading them first.

I’ve never acknowledged a Christmas gift with a handwritten thank you, but I always try to remember to email, text or Facebook a little note. Are you supposed to send thank you’s for Christmas gifts? I’ve never gotten one, so I assume not.

Someone that I worked with years ago has been rehired by my company. He lives in upstate New York and spends much of his time on the road. Someone had introduced me to a regional food item from that area years ago, so I mentioned it to Tom when I saw him earlier in the summer. They are called salt potatoes. They are teensy little red potatoes that you boil in salt water, then dip in butter and eat. I don’t know why we can’t get them here, and I don’t know why our red potatoes don’t taste quite as good… But you really can only get this treat from NY. These yummy bits of goodness were sent right down from Heaven, no lie.

I guess he was so amused by my love for those stupid potatoes that he told his mom about it. I’m guessing his mother is in her late 70s or so. She apparently told him, “Well, if you are going to bring her some there’s only one kind to get. So she went to the farmers’ market and bought a bag to give to Tom the next time he was coming to the office.

When he told me the story about his mom and gave me the potatoes, I asked for her address and said I would send her some candies that are made locally. I’m sure he thought I was talking out my ass, but gave me the address anyway. Anyone that knows me, knows I get around to doing nice shit every six months or so. Not this time.

I bought the candy, wrote out a little card and shipped it to her. I emailed Tom to let him know that he should tell his mom a package was coming. He said he thought the surprise would be more fun for her. He called me on Tuesday to let me know that she had received the package. I guess she didn’t open it at first and had a long discussion with her best friend about what to do. The return address was the name of the company her son works for, perhaps the package was intended for him? So the two of them sat there and shook the package a bit. Finally her friend convinced her to open the box. If it was really intended for Tom, they could just call him to get whatever was inside.

Tom said she was delighted with the candy and now has a great story to tell all her friends, the women she’s been friends with for 50+ years! She liked the candy ok and said they are so rich that the bag will last her a long time. But what she loved the most was the card. It was a simple card, maybe a paragraph for two. I basically just thanked her for the potatoes and told her that I wanted to send her a regional treat in return. For $10 and less than ten minutes writing time, I gave this woman a little bit of unexpected sunshine and a few truffles.

I’m reminded of my German grandmother… whose birthday is this week. Had she still been alive she’d be 108 this year. That woman loved a thank you card like nobody else. We could stretch holidays to last until the next one came around. It worked like this: receive gift and send thank you note. She would be so pleased by the gesture, she’d return the thank you note with one of her own… with $5 inside. Therefore we’d have to send her another card to thank her for the money. A vicious circle that kept us in “pin money” year round.

The next time you have the opportunity, send a little handwritten note… maybe even for no reason at all. You’ll be glad you did. 

Ice Princess

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just Say NO!

I have the hardest time in the world telling anyone no. I’ve been involved in many activities that I had no desire to be a part of, yet I felt that it was easier to go along with the plan rather than saying no. Countless examples come to mind, but if I were to list them all, I’d reveal that the Ice Princess is actually a marshmallow. My reputation will be ruined!

My inability to say no carries through with my girls and the items they want to buy and activities they want to be part of. So many times they’ve asked for things I’d rather not give in to, but I do because it’s just easier.

Last week Sugar came home and asked if she could try out for a play at her school. Before asking me, she had told Skinny Bitch, who passed Sugar’s excitement along to me. I looked over the part to be memorized for the audition, then looked at the audition, rehearsal and performance schedule. It was brutal enough for a working mom. But a working mom buying a new house, selling an old one, moving… the schedule was downright impossible.

Skinny Bitch and I texted endlessly about my dilemma. I shared a story with her about not being able to sign up for a ballet class when I was little because the time was inconvenient for my parents (why do I remember this stupid shit?). I didn’t want to be That Mom, the mom who says no and crushes her child’s dream. You know I won’t be thanked when she wins an Oscar! Skinny finally reminded me that I am the mother, life is particularly crazy at our house right now, but it won’t always be… and it’s ok to say no for now.

When Sugar and I were getting ready the next morning, I talked to her about the play and asked if there were others scheduled during the year. She said that there were and I asked if she minded if she sat out this round. I was expecting a fight and was shocked when she agreed… no argument whatsoever, even a “Yeah, we need to move and set up our new house.” I was relieved that she was so mellow about it.

I think Sugar will be the same way and will have a hard time telling people no. I have tried to teach her (physician, heal thyself!) that it’s ok to tell someone no. It’s ok to decline an invitation or to not take part in something that you don’t want to. I am fairly certain that I won’t ever have to teach this stuff to Spice. Girl can stand on her own… Her independence and forthrightness shock me sometimes.

We talk about what is going on at school and she shared with me that she’s really not friends with Big Head Little Girl or Foot Tall Little Girl. I couldn’t believe that she moved on so quickly and I asked her what happened with the girls. She told me that Big Head cries all day, every day. She doesn’t even get to participate in play time because she’s too busy crying. I tried to say that maybe this was the first time she’s been away from her mother and Stone Cold Spice Girl said, “No, I know she’s been away before.” Ok then, Miss Know-It-All!

Then I asked about Foot Tall Little Girl. Apparently, she’s just annoying. During some activity in class, they were told they’d be working with partners. Spice was kind enough to demonstrate Foot Tall asking to be partners. She got right in my face with her hands on her hips and said, “Spicespicespice, will you be my paht-ner? Spicespicespice, will you be my paht-ner?” I asked Spice what she did about it and she said that the teacher ended up partnering people up anyway, but there was a glint in her eye that I didn’t care for. I said, “Spice, you weren’t mean were you? You didn’t tell Foot Tall that she was annoying, did you?” She swears up and down she didn’t but I have a creepy-crawly feeling she was lying.

I then try to tell her that it’s just not ok to tell someone she’s annoying, don’t hurt feelings, blah blah blah. Do you see where I’m shooting myself in the foot here? I’m trying to teach them to stand up for themselves, but then I add in all these extra rules afterwards. I’m telling Sugar to stand up for herself, yet I’m telling Spice to be a little more gentle with others. Where the fuck IS that mothering handbook? 

Ice Princess

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Awards Ceremony

The beginning of the school year started off so well that I was beginning to be afraid. I played nicely with the Mommy Mafia at the middle school open house. My kids haven’t run out of peanut butter, snacks or juice boxes and they love their teachers. I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I would be invited to this year’s Mother of the Year Awards Ceremony. I do not want to attend that mostly due to wardrobe issues. I am about to have two mortgages so there’s not a lot in the bank to buy something new. Second, you know how much it would cost to drape this ass in taffeta? Bring on the third mortgage.

Back to the topic at hand… things were going along swimmingly. Everything was so fabulous, I even saw a unicorn yesterday. Swear. Shit was bound to explode all over the place. I picked up Sugar at Skinny Bitch’s house and she was happy. She chirped along as we went to get Spice from the after-school program at the elementary school.

I walked in and Colleen gave me The Look. I knew something had happened. I braced myself to hear a story about Spice dropping an F-bomb or punching a fourth grader in the face. It was her second day at the program; the possibilities of what she might have done were endless. Colleen said, “Spice didn’t get off the bus here today.” Given that I had already seen my child playing happily, I knew that it ended well, so I am only a little ashamed to admit that my first feeling was one of relief that she hadn’t done anything wrong. As it turns out, Colleen realized Spice was missing and worked with the bus company to get her back to the school. I asked Spice why she didn’t get off the bus at the right stop and she said she forgot. I asked if she was scared and she looked at me strangely and said, “Noooo.” Oh that’s right, riding a school bus is an adventure and being the only passenger is the Bonus Jackpot.

I guess there’s a million ways I could have reacted. I could have yelled at Colleen and asked why she wasn’t waiting there for Bus #2 to take Spice off the bus, knowing it was only her second day. I could have called the bus company and screamed that the driver didn’t make sure she got off at the right stop. I could have emailed her teacher and demanded to know why the bus tag she wears around her neck doesn’t specify her drop-off point. I could beat myself up endlessly because I am not there to drop off and pick up and wrap them in bubble wrap before buckling them in their car seats. There’re a bunch people I could have blamed, but I’m the parent and it’s ultimately my responsibility to make sure my kids are taken care of at all times. There really would have been no point in berating anyone else involved in this mishap, because truly, she is my child and my responsibility.

We’ve done everything we thought was right. We have sent explicit notes to her teacher to detail her after school care. We’ve quizzed her endlessly about bus numbers and drop off spots. Even if I was less selfish and didn’t work outside the home, something could go wrong with me dropping off or picking up. We can wrap our babies in bubble wrap and protect them from villains and lions and tigers and bears, but there are still a thousand things that can go wrong.

As always, when I have an Eff Up of Epic Proportions, I told Skinny Bitch. I tell her everything, even though she’s been to EVERY Perfect Mother Award Ceremony for the past ten years. She never screws up AND she drives her kids everywhere, so nothing like this would ever happen to them. Skinny never, ever tells me out loud that I am a bad mother and if she thinks that on the inside, I am not aware of her feelings. But she never does anything wrong when mothering her kids, so I was delighted this morning to receive this text from her:

“Fucking Tooth Fairy forgot to come last night. Stupid bitch.”

While this may pale in comparison to my kid riding a school bus all over the wild blue yonder, we can honestly say that parenting is a job filled with fuck ups. We don't always do our best, but damn it, we sure try hard. 

Ice Princess

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living Show Ready

The bulk of our prep-work to get the house listed was centered on making it look PERFECT for the online pictures. We all know, every person in the world that knew we were going to list our house would be all over the online pictures. I didn’t want to be the gal with the bra hanging from the ceiling fan in our pictures. Not that that’s ever really happened. In this house, anyway.

For weeks we I scrubbed and sorted and trashed and donated. EN spent most of that time in the basement looking through his crap, moving piles from one spot to another. At the end of our allotted time, the basement and garage looked marginally better and the inside of the house looks spectacular. I will say that I carried on doing little projects here and there. At the very end, all I had left to do was carry heavy stuff out into the basement. EN was so willing and helpful that the Ice Princess did NOT have to foam at the mouth and scream, “Stop fucking around in the basement and get your ass in here to help me.” That never happened.

Last Tuesday our realtor came and took the pictures and I must say, our house looks pretty fabulous. Everything is neat as can be. There’s nothing anywhere but furniture. No piles of papers, no toys, no nothing. Even the front of the refrigerator has nothing on it. Our house echoes, y’all.

Our dining room. It almost always looks like this... because we only eat in there twice a year!

The kitchen. Where are you supposed to put all your stuff?? 

 Herein lies my question, do people really live like that? I can’t imagine. Where do people put all the paper that normally consumes my house? I actually put everything in a box that sits at the bottom of my basement stairs. “Emergency papers”… you know, the newsletters you might need from school next week but not now. The paperwork for the new house. The girls’ medical forms. You just never know when you might need that shit.

For a week now, we’ve been trying to live “show ready.” It’s really near impossible so we do our best and then run around like crazy people right before a showing to make sure everything looks good.

We’ve had a couple of showings so far. The first person thought the house was too expensive. The second person really liked the house but it’s at the top of his price range, so he’s off in a corner somewhere crunching numbers. Then we had an Open House on Sunday and more people came to see it, including the number cruncher. Another couple spent a long time there and seemed to love it, the rest weren’t interested, including the man who said our house “smells like dog.” How humiliating is that?

As I have strangers wandering through my home when I’m not there, sometimes think I would like to be a fly on the wall so I know what they’re saying. On the other hand, I think my feelings would be pretty hurt so I’m better off not knowing.

Honestly though, can anyone really live in a house that is “show ready” all the time? How do you do it?? I mentioned this to one of Sugars’ friends moms and she said, “None of us live that way.” Since I live in the town of perfect little Stepford Wives, I assume they all live that way. What a relief to know that the perfect show-ready house is just a fa├žade. 

Ice Princess

Monday, September 12, 2011

Uncle JJ

On this day in 1999, one of my favorite people passed away. His death was tragic and unexpected. Twelve years later I am still devastated on this day. I function and try to work through it, but my thoughts frequently wander to my beloved Uncle JJ.
Uncle JJ was married to my mother’s sister, whom I have blogged about in the past. They met when he was in the Navy, stationed in Germany. They lived in a bunch of really cool places including Paris and Belgium. He retired after a million years in the Navy, but wasn’t done working. He applied to the Sheriff’s Department and then worked for years at the jail in Norfolk, VA. 
Despite having been raised in New York City and spending so much time in the Navy and jail, he was never one to “celebrate diversity.” He could be a bigot, and be very loud about it. More times than I care to remember, he embarrassed me in public. He was opinionated and always right. He was obsessed about privacy and safety. He had a thousand locks on everything and God help you if you didn’t lock every single one, every single time. That bit of him, I attribute to a hostage situation he was involved in while he worked at the jail.
Even though he wasn’t perfect, I loved this man dearly. No one else has ever called me Baby Girl. No one else has ever told me story after story about his life, the wars he fought in, the things he witnessed at the jail. No one else taped my two-year-old voice over a long distance call, and would randomly play it any chance he could. No one else answered an email back faster than him. Heck, no one else ever printed off every email he ever received and put in a folder with a typewritten label that said “Incoming.” He was hilariously the most anal retentive person I ever knew. How many other people do you know that go outside with a clipboard and a form every week to keep track of electricity and water usage? You never know when they might try to rip you off!
After he retired, his anal retentiveness and focus on security got even nuttier, but we all just put up with it. There was an awful time when he considered leaving my aunt, but still… we forgave him. He got sick in the summer of 1999, and I’m not sure they ever figured out what was wrong. EN and I went to visit them that summer and I’m forever grateful we did. I can’t believe that quick trip would be the last time we would see him. My favorite memory of that trip is hugging EN on the deck and having Uncle JJ bellow out the door, “Not in front of my goddamn squirrels.” Such a romantic, he was. 
As a retired person, he mostly hung around the house. He and my aunt would make frequent trips to visit us, often several times a year. He was bored a lot and started tagging along with his long-time friend and neighbor on trips to the Shriner’s Hospital in South Carolina.
Rosy was a clown for many years, but also started transporting patients to the hospital in South Carolina for free medical care. I have no idea how many trips they took together. Uncle JJ went along to give Rosy a break from driving. While he drove, Rosy entertained the kids and their parents with magic tricks and balloon animals.
It’s really not known what happened on this September trip. They were so very close to the hospital and Rosy was driving. It is thought that he fell asleep at the wheel. The van rolled multiple times before catching fire. Rosy and the patient’s mother died instantly. My Uncle JJ died in the ambulance of a massive heart attack. The only survivor was the little girl they were bringing for treatment.
As long as I live I will not forget my father calling my house and refusing to speak with me when I answered the phone. He insisted on telling EN, who then had the thankless job of telling me. I hear those dreadful words like they were spoken yesterday.
I went into my brand-new job and told them I needed to take a few days off to travel to Virginia for my uncle’s funeral. EN and I got on the road after work and drove straight through without a map. We arrived in the middle of the night and seeing my heartbroken aunt devastated me even further. How would we ever get through the next few days?
I only recently found the folder of “Incoming Messages” that my aunt had given to me from my uncle’s office. I don’t remember ever having looked through them before. It was ironic to me that the last email he put in that folder was a response from my father, wishing him a good trip and responding to my uncle’s concerns about Hurricane Floyd, which was due to come up the coast that weekend.
What makes this ironic is that Hurricane Floyd did in fact hit Virginia Beach on the very day we were supposed to bury my uncle. My uncle, the man so obsessed with weather would be delighted to know this. While the winds whipped and the rain fell, we rushed to inform everyone that the funeral was postponed. JJ must have been pissing his pants laughing while doing his ridiculous Irish jig.
As is typical after a storm, the next day was beautiful. The funeral would have made him proud. It was a full-military funeral with 21 gun salute. Different clubs that he had belonged to were in attendance and the funeral procession was escorted by the Sheriff’s department. When we got out of our cars at the cemetery, the strangest thing happened. As we walked toward the spot where we would bury my uncle, the Blue Angels flew overhead, one plane banked off into the Missing Man Formation.
I don’t think it was planned and I’m fairly certain that my uncle was not important enough for the military to send out the Blue Angels. The sight of them flying overhead was breathtaking. Thinking about it now, I know if my uncle had been there to see it, he would have yanked his ever-present baseball cap off and said, “Kiss a duck!”
How I miss our political discussions. I would have loved to hear his thoughts about 9-11, about Obama’s presidency, about the war in the Middle East. But what makes me saddest is that he never got to meet Sugar and Spice. Every once in a while when they do something particularly crazy, I know he’s up there somewhere laughing his fool head off. 
Rest in Peace, Uncle JJ. You are missed.
Ice Princess

Friday, September 9, 2011

Details from a Five Year Old

This post is not meant to offend anyone who is really short, or who has a big head, or anyone who loves someone who is really short or has a big head... I just found the details that Spice shared to be somewhat amusing... 

So far, Spice has proclaimed the each of the two days of school she has attended as, “The best day ever.” Sugar is also excited about her school day. She gets to have lunch with anyone she wants, she adores her teachers, and she’s making some new friends.

When Sugar talks about her day, I understand what’s going on. She’s clear on details and answers questions. When Spice talks, I’m confused. She’s ambiguous on detail and doesn’t know anyone’s name. Some of her stories show “great imagination.” Is what she is saying fact, fiction or a combination of the two? In addition, she can’t tell time, so her stories about 5 minute snack time not being long enough may not be true. She claims that she is unable to eat the healthy snack because she only has time to eat her Cheezits. How about no more Cheezits?

After her first day of school I asked her about friends, was there anyone she knew in her class? She said no but she really liked a girl that, “looks like Avery but has a bigger head.” I was dying to ask, “Way big or just a little bit big?” However, I know my Spice well enough to know that she’d go into school the next day and mention the size of the girls head. I am still really curious though.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I asked her how the big-headed girl was. She said that she didn’t play with her because she was busy playing with the little girl.

Me: Little girl like you?
Spice: No, she’s littler.
Me: How little is she?
Spice held her hand about a foot off the floor and said, “About this big.”

Now I’m really curious about who my girl is going to school with. When I brought her on Tuesday, I didn’t notice anyone with a huge head, nor did I notice anyone a foot tall. In turn, I wonder what the other kids are saying about Spice… “There’s a crazy little girl in my class that has really long hair and wears tutus every day. And she’s been to South Carolina.”

How do they know she’s been to South Carolina, you wonder? Apparently, they went around the room on the first day and introduced themselves. Everyone else said their name. Spice said, “My name is Spice and I’ve been to South Carolina.” I just found that to be a strange detail to add on to her introduction. Of all the details she could have given about herself, why choose that one thing? And why add details when you only have to give your name?

An interesting class this teacher has: Big Head Little Girl, Foot Tall Little Girl, and South Carolina Little Girl.  Stories like these also make me a little sad. I remember when Sugar was this little, she would tell similar stories. I wish I had blogged back then. 

Ice Princess

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crying Mama

Today was the big day. Both girls woke up excited and the mama woke up out of sorts. I went into Sugar’s room at 7:00 am and told her it was time to get up. She popped out of bed and shouted, “First day of school!” She got ready and made her bed without the constant reminders I usually have to make. Yes, I know it was only the first day and I’m sure to become a broken, screaming record before long.

Even though I was going to the middle school to sign the banner that would hang in the cafeteria for the school year, I brought Sugar to the bus stop so she could ride with her friends. Finally this year, she gets to ride in the back of the bus and didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I watched her get on the bus, then sat in traffic. The ten minute ride took 20. I arrived and immediately found Skinny Bitch. She brought her daughter, so she didn’t have to wait for a bus to arrive. We left the cafeteria where all the kids were waiting and went to sign the banner. As we were leaving to come back, BFFL’s mother told me that she had just seen Sugar. We went back to the cafeteria and I looked around. My stomach got more and more upset when I didn’t see my girl. Finally, there was an announcement for parents to leave, yet Sugar was still nowhere to be found. I was near panic mode when one final bus showed up, and there was my smiling girl. We talked for a moment, but her body language told me not to dare reach out for a hug. I wished her a good day and left the school. I made it to my car before I cried.

I got home to find Spice anxious to leave. She asked if it was time to go, asked if it was time to get dressed. I told her we had HOURS to wait. She settled down a bit and watched TV and helped me clean and pack her snacks, but her mind was focused on the exciting day ahead. Finally, I told her she could get dressed. She shouted, “This is the best day of my life!” Suddenly it was time to leave and I could barely make myself go. Damn these kids for growing up so fast.

She was excited all the way to school then suddenly panicked as we stood outside the school waiting for the doors to open. She wouldn’t smile, talk or pose for pictures. The doors opened and the kids started going in. The parents were left behind smiling through their broken hearts. Our girl didn’t want to go and had to be urged along. As she walked up the path, she must have forgotten we were watching and she started skipping. I knew all was going to be ok with her.

I’m not sure when exactly I noticed the family standing next to us. There was a tiny little boy with red hair, crying like he’d never see his mama again. She was kneeling down in front of him, hugging him tightly. But that’s not what caught my attention. What caught my eye was the smiling sibling standing with them. The smiling sibling that has obviously been undergoing extensive medical treatments for something. He was completely bald and had that pallor that comes along with chemotherapy treatments. The smiling sibling looked so happy for his brother, getting to head off to school. I told EN that I needed to leave. All I could think was, “Thank God my girls are healthy enough to go to school.” I don’t know that family, their circumstances or the battles they face. I could have totally misread the scene, but my heart broke for them all the same.

We arrived back home for the meeting with the realtor to take pictures and measurements, the final step in listing the house. I realize it was our choice to sell this house, but oh how it pained me to see her walking through, snapping pictures. Never have I lived in one place for so long before. If I didn’t know it already, it was clear to me that the day we leave this house for the last time, it will be painful.

I’m not the crying mom. I generally send my girls off on their adventures with a big smile. Sometimes that falters a bit on the inside but not often. I don’t know what came over me today. Maybe it was too much, too many changes all at once. I was very relieved when we picked the girls up from the bus stop and both were thrilled about their respective days. Sugar loved everything and everyone, Spice still proclaimed it The Best Day Ever. I smiled and laughed with them, but was sad inside. Never again will they be this little…

On a separate note, let’s all wish Skinny Bitch a very happy birthday. That’s her saving grace and why I’m friends with her. She might be skinnier and nicer, but she’s older and it’s important that we all respect our elders. Big smoochie kisses, Skinny! xo

Ice Princess

Monday, September 5, 2011

First School Night

Summer vacation officially ends tonight with the girls going to bed on a “school night” schedule. The summer flew by and I look back and think, “We did nothing.” We didn’t take any trips or go anyplace new. Instead, we hung out by the pool, played with friends and let the girls spend lots of time with their grandmothers. A part of me feels guilty, summer vacation should include a grand trip somewhere. Then I remember our fun trip to Myrtle Beach in April and the new house we are moving to and my guilt is lessened.

We have bought new clothes, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes. The back packs are filled with a few supplies (no supply list yet!) and the endless forms I filled out. How come I can’t just copy one set of forms and turn in for both? I grocery shopped today and bought piles of snacks, a nice mix of the school-approved healthy snacks and the kid-approved sweets. They will have a difficult time deciding what they want to bring tomorrow.

We went yesterday for fresh haircuts and spent tonight getting beautiful for tomorrow: a bath with bubbles and manicures and pedicures for both. They headed off to bed on schedule and settled in after reading a bit. I’m not so sure either one is sleeping, the excitement was palatable.

It is a year of big changes… Sugar in middle school and Spice in kindergarten. For the first time ever, Sugar will get report cards with real grades, no more “At Grade Level” marks with comments about how good and sweet she is. I worry about how she will do. I know she has to work hard and doesn’t like to. She’ll only push herself if she’s got a mama behind her forcing her to do her best. I don’t know if either of us is up for it. I nagged all summer for her to take part in the challenge to read ten books. Only a few days ago, after hearing about a field trip for the kids that participated, has she decided to start reading. I guess that’s how it will have to be with her… rewards for effort put forth.

Spice walks into a new place tomorrow after leaving the daycare where she started when she was six months old. She’s never been the new girl, she’s never worked to fit in. Instead, she was with a group of kids that she’d been with since they were babies. I wonder if she will miss them and I wonder if she will try to fit in. She’s marched to her own beat for her whole life, part of me hopes she keeps her individuality, but certainly not to the point where she has trouble making friends. If all else fails, the kid that dropped trou and peed on her at daycare will be in her kindergarten class.  I still haven’t told her and I am not afraid to admit that I’m scared of her reaction.

I’m anxious and excited to see how tomorrow goes. I hope they will love their teachers and find some old friends and make some new ones. I say a silent prayer that they look back on this school year and proclaim it to be the “Best Year Ever.” Then again, that’s my hope every single school year.

Ice Princess 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kindergarten Open House

On Friday we attended the Open House for Spice’s upcoming school year. She will be attending kindergarten in our town’s newest school. It is fairly small and houses only morning and afternoon preschool and kindergarten classes.

She was up bright and early asking if it was time to go yet. Unfortunately, the event wasn’t scheduled until 1:00 pm, so we decided to run a few errands in the morning to fill time… mostly so she wouldn’t drive us too crazy.

Finally it was time to go and she could barely contain herself. We got to the school and found Spice to be over-dressed in her pink dress and silver lame´ (really) sandals. Most of the other kids were in t-shirts and shorts. She couldn’t get from the parking lot to the school fast enough and pulled me along. As we got inside, some foreign being took over the body of my child. Gone is the sassy girl I know and I had Shy Spice at my side.

She flushed a bright red when she was greeted by a woman she knows. She couldn’t even bring herself to say thank you when she was complimented on her spectacular outfit. She hid behind me and I nearly dragged her to her classroom. We were given a scavenger hunt to work on, a great way for her to become acquainted with her classroom, cubby and coat hook. She met her teacher and the various aids that work in that room. She could barely answer their questions and I found myself biting my tongue to not answer on her behalf. Sugar was glad to pipe up whenever she could.

We left the classroom with a sticker and forms to fill out. Because I knew footwear was a bone of contention with her, I was happy to see the principal at the entrance. We went over and introduced ourselves (I have a feeling I’ll be on a first name basis with the principal by the end of the school year). I asked if there were rules about shoes and the principal addressed Spice when she said “No flip flops.” Shy Spice became Scowly Spice. I thought she was going to argue her case but she did not. The principal told her she’d have much more fun on the playground in safer shoes. With that, she said we should go check it out, and we were off.

We stopped at the waiting school bus so Spice could practice getting in and out and hit the playground. I wasn’t really surprised to see Spice play by herself and not interact with any other kids. I am her mother, and I didn’t talk to any of the parents. Of course Sugar found a kid she knew and was less than impressed when we called her to leave.

I sorted through all of the forms she needs for Tuesday and read through the Parent Handbook. I had to sign a form saying I read it, so of course I read the entire booklet. I came across a section titled “Birthday Celebrations” and let Spice know that on her birthday, she would not be able to bring cupcakes to school to share with her classmates due to food allergies. This is a girl who takes cupcakes seriously and she was not happy. I told her that they suggested she bring something else to share with her class, like pencils. She frowned at me and said, “But you can’t eat a pencil.”

It’s gonna be a long year.

Ice Princess