I’ll have a cup of distraction with my cereal, please

Lately, I’ve taken to observing Siig as he tries to leave the house in the morning. It’s quite entertaining. Here is a typical morning for my easily-distracted husband:

7 am: Wakes up. Gets in shower.

7:10 am: Still in shower.

7:15 am: Still in shower. “I can’t get out of the shower.”

7:30 am: Comes upstairs. Puts on tea kettle. Turns on the TV to watch the weather.

7:40 am: Yells at children to get dressed and ready for school. Opens his computer to check his email. Checks Facebook.

7:45 am: Completely absorbed by Facebook. Does not hear me asking him if he’s going to put pants on.

7:55 am: Looks up from his computer. “Oh crap. Time to go. Kids, 5 minutes.” Makes a phone call. Finds pants.

7:59 am: Still talking on the phone.

8 am: Can’t find wallet. Or mug of tea he just made.

8:05 am: Goes outside to start his truck. Comes back in. Sits down and writes an email. Does not hear me telling him now is not the best time to start working.

8:10 am: Looks at clock. Hustles kids into truck. Comes back inside. Puts tea kettle back on. Spills honey. Grabs kids’ backpacks and puts them in his truck.

8:11 am: Comes back inside. Makes another mug of tea. Searches for his cowboy hat. Gives up, wears baseball hat instead. Looks at time. “Oh shit, gotta go. Kids are going to be late.”

8:15 am: Walks out the door. Forgets not one but two mugs of tea.

8:20 am: Calls me from bottom of the road. “Where am I taking Kaya today?”

8:25 am: Calls me again. “I forgot my tea.”


Note to baby: Be a man and get some sleep

This is what cave women looked like while listening for their babies.

I want to know who coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby.” I’d like to invite that person to spend the night at my house one night. Then they’d see how a baby really sleeps – in two to three-hour increments, waking up screaming, and waking up each time you try to put them back in their crib.

Mind you, I understand the root of that saying. Once a baby is sound asleep, you could take a jack hammer to the room and they wouldn’t move a muscle. I say this from experience because when Kaiden was little we were remodeling and he literally did sleep through jack hammering.

But I’d like to propose a new phrase. Forget sleeping like a baby. You know who I want to sleep like? A man.

Siig can sleep through anything. He barely stirs when Nakita wakes up howling at 3 am, only to cry again at 4 and 5 a.m. It’s all like a distant dream. He’ll stir slightly, if at all, and be snoring again within seconds. And he rarely hears Kaya over the monitor when she wakes up crying “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY I WANT YOU” after having a bad dream or wetting her bed.

After a night of easily getting up 7 times, I’ll ask Siig the next morning – did you hear how many times Nakita woke up? Did you hear Kaya? And he’ll usually say: “What? Oh, I missed all that.” And I sit there looking at him in disbelief, wondering how it’s possible to tune all that out.

To his credit, I know one reason he doesn’t hear the baby – he knows he can’t do anything. Nakita only wants me, or more specifically my boob, when she wakes up in the middle of the night. And he has told me to wake him up when Kaya has one of her night terrors. But usually I’m awake so I feel bad getting him up.

Men are just programmed differently than women. I saw this documentary once on the Discovery Channel that pretty much explained the differences between men and women’s brains. Women’s brains are designed for multi-tasking – back in primitive times, they had to be able to gather food and wash their bear skins and clean up their kids’ cave drawings all while listening for their baby’s cries. Men, on the other hand, had to be able to tune everything out and focus while hunting, they had to be able to sit crouched behind a rock picking their teeth and scratching their balls while they waited for that Mammoth to come sauntering by.

See, not much has changed.

I see this primitive brain in action all the time. If Siig is watching TV or writing an email, the kids could be at his elbow yelling “DADDY DADDY DADDY I’M ON FIRE!” and he wouldn’t hear them. It’s really quite incredible. I am in awe.

I know I’m not the only one who has observed this. My friend Caryn told me about her experience in the hospital during the birth of her son. While she was in labor in them middle of the night, she said she was moaning and screaming while her husband Jason snoozed away in the chair next to her.

Ahhhh, to sleep like a man. That is my goal in life.

What’s really so funny about Siig’s sleeping is that he can sleep through the baby’s cries, but usually the second I crawl into bed he’ll wake up with a start, sit straight up with his eye’s half-open, and say in a drunken-sounding, accusatory voice: “WHAT??? WHAT’S WRONG? WHAT’S GOING ON?”

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at this, and I used to try and ignore him but he wouldn’t let up, so now I give him some ridiculous answer just to shut him up and get him back to sleep so I can read my book in peace. I say things like: “Oh, nothing, just back from running around naked outside in the snow” or “Go back to sleep dear, it’s just a rattlesnake in our bed” or “Don’t worry honey, it’s just the kids playing with my hair dryer in the bath tub.”

He never has a recollection of these incidents the next day. I guess you could attribute this to the primitive man-brain as well, to the need to be on alert to protect the tribe. But that theory just goes to shit because then men would wake up when the baby was crying.

Whatever the case, I hope that Nakita can quit this sleeping-like-a-baby load of crap, man up already, and sleep like her daddy. Then maybe, just maybe, I might get some….wait, gotta run. Baby’s waking up.

Postscript: While Siig was reading this post, Kaya was screaming for him downstairs and he didn’t hear a dam thing. Lucky dog.


What not to wear to your high school reunion, or how Nordstrom saved the day

Having not gone to my 10 year high school reunion, I was excited for my 20th. I really had no idea what to expect. And clearly, I had no idea what to wear either.

I could blame my clothing debacle on several things: 1) My friend Stacy, who told me how at her reunion all the women were dressed in jeans and tank tops; 2) The fact that two months after having a baby, my clothing options were limited – I can only fit into a few of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and definitely not the cute ones; 3) Baby brain.

My husband would tell you it was probably the latter. As he told me later when he saw what I was wearing: “I was wondering what you were thinking wearing that!”

Now don’t get all excited – I wasn’t wearing something ridiculous like stuffing my post-baby belly and big boobs in some tight-fitting, low-cut, slutty dress, or something crazy like a pink tu-tu and bustier. I still had somewhat of a brain after baby. No, it was really much more simple and benign – I was dressed like I was going out to dinner in Tahoe. Which basically means super casual.

I was wearing jeans, a white peasant shirt (mind you, I think it’s cute), and – in this my baby brain did kick in for I had forgotten to bring cute shoes – my Chaco sandals. To my credit, I had accessorized with long earrings and a necklace.

But clearly, I had not gotten the memo about the reunion dress code.

I showed up to my friend Linda’s pre-party and the first thing I see are two guys getting out of their car dressed in suits with their wives in nice dresses. “Well, won’t they be embarrassed that they’ve overdressed,” I thought to myself. I walk into the party. Everyone is in semi-formal attire. They are all dressed like they are going to a wedding. And then there’s me, Ms. Mountain Casual, wearing jeans and sandals.

I was completely mortified. How did I not know that you were supposed to dress up for a reunion???? Why did everyone but me know this??? It was almost like that scene in “Legally Blond” where Reese Witherspoon shows up to the non-costume party in a Playboy Bunny outfit. OK, so not quite that bad, but you get the picture.

After the pre-party, I run back to the hotel to nurse the baby. Siig tells me I need to go shopping. “You can’t go to the reunion dressed like that!” Great, where were you when I was packing?? It’s  7:30 pm. The reunion started at 7.  I make a decision. After speed nursing and a little pumping, I kiss the kids and hubbie good-bye and make a mad dash for the mall across the street. I run into the mall and ask the first person I see, a security guard, what’s still open. It looks like my choice is between Macy’s and Nordstrom. (Dam, Anthropology, why couldn’t you stay open late night???)

I run like a crazy woman to Nordstrom. The sign on the door says they close at 8. I have 15 minutes to find me a new outfit. I burst through the doors, take the escalator two stairs at a time (bemoaning the fact that I am not wearing a jogging bra), and run to the women’s section. Where do I start? I tell myself not to panic. I can do this. I start flipping through clothes on the racks in the  Junior section, where I used to shop in high school. Who am I kidding???? No body who just had a baby can fit into any of these clothes! I need help. I need a personal shopper. Then I see her. Like a shark eyeing an innocent baby seal, I pounce on a young girl behind the counter: “You’ve got to help me!” I say breathlessly. “I have to go to a party that’s already started. I’m totally wearing the wrong thing. I don’t know my size because I just had a baby. I can’t wear anything tight around the belly. I want something cute but kind of funky.  I have 15 minutes. GO!”

The girl looks shell-shocked for a minute, then she sprang into action. This was the moment, the challenge, she had been waiting for, after all. Between the two of us, I manage to find a pair of black pants and a fancy tank top. They are totally not me, but they would have to do. I rush out of the dressing room in the new clothes, my old clothes crumpled, like the scum they are, in my hands. I need shoes. Fast.

I thank my shopper and then bounded, barefoot, down the escalator and repeat my spiel to a cute shoe salesman who doesn’t know what hit him. I don’t really like any of the shoes, nor their price tags, but by the third pair he brings me I don’t care anymore. They fit, they had a heel that was not too high and not too short, and they a were bright, patent red. They got the job done.

My bill comes to $260. But it doesn’t matter. I will be returning everything in the morning.

What’s that you say? You didn’t know about Nordstrom’s clothing lending policy? Well, yes, it’s quite like renting a movie or a library book – you just “borrow” the clothes and as long as they are in good shape with the tags still on, you return everything the next day! I actually did this once before, in high school, for a New Year’s Eve party. Guess I haven’t changed much in 20 years.

Back to my story. So I run like a bat out of hell out of Nordstrom, carrying my new shoes in my hands so as not to scuff them, and jump in my car. I am so pumped up that I drive out of my parking space straight over one of those cement curbs designed to prevent that very action, a light goes on on my dashboard alerting me to some sort of damage – but I don’t care. I have a reunion to go to, for christ’s sake! And I finally got me my fancy new clothes and I’m ready for a cocktail.

I arrive at the reunion, run barefoot to the front door of the restaurant, and slip on my new shoes. Later, in the girls’ bathroom, a friend says, “Melissa, one of your tags is still on your shirt. Do you want me to rip it off?”

“NO!” I scream, whirling around to avoid the hands reaching for the tag. “It’s just a loaner!”

The whole night, I manage never to get spilled on or drop any food on my new clothes. The next day, I return everything without a hitch. $260 right back on my credit card.

You think Nordstrom’s “lending program” applies to children’s clothes? My kids need pants.

Paying it Forward at the DMV

This is exactly what the guy at the DMV looked like. Cross my heart.

Sometimes it pays to be pregnant. Like when people at the DMV take pity on you, just because you’re sitting in a metal seat with your stomach practically touching the chair in front of you.

Never mind that I had no kids with me and that the woman with four kids probably deserved special treatment more than me. Then again, why would you bring four kids to the DMV??? But it does seem interesting that people in general are more willing to help a pregnant women sitting by herself doing a crossword puzzle than a mom trying to keep four kids from destroying a public agency.

Actually, the first hour at the DMV was relatively pleasant. With no children to look after, it was practically a vacation. I read two newspapers, did a crossword puzzle, checked my email on my Crackberry. But by hour two, I was getting restless. They had called number 75; I was 85. Ten people in front of you at the DMV is like the last two minutes of an NBA championship game – it can last forever. There are those damn, responsible people who had the forethought to think ahead and make an appointment, hogging up one of the two or three ladies working behind the desk. And then there are those pesky teenagers who insist on getting their driver’s license and take away one of the few DMV employees to give them an exam. (We won’t talk about how I showed up late to my drivers exam on my 16th birthday and was forced to wait two weeks to take it again – complete torture for a 16-year-old – or the time I got caught cheating on my permit test. It was totally someone else’s fault. I swear.)

So there I was, on hour two, getting impatient and, I have to admit, uncomfortable with Baby Breakdancer kicking me in the ribs, when all of a sudden a bearded angle dressed as a town employee appeared at my side. He bent down and whispered something. At first I thought he was trying to steal my purse, but then I heard these magic words slip out of his mouth: “You dropped something.” And with that, he handed me his golden ticket – #77! I looked up at the sign – they were on 76! I had been chosen! I whispered back a quick thank you. It was like I had gotten out of jail early on good behavior.

As I stood up triumphantly when they called my new number, I quickly glanced around the DMV waiting room – who should I pick to be the lucky beneficiary of #85? The pimply teenager waiting with his mom to take his driver’s test? Nah. The loud, tattooed couple behind me who complained the whole time? Yeah right. Or the guy who carried on a loud conversation on his cell phone for one hour? Not a chance. My eyes settled on an old man who was missing a few teeth and looked like he could be homeless. He seemed deserving. When I finished up, I handed him my ticket. “This should help speed things along,” I said. He gave me a big, toothless grin. “I was number 08,” he said. I had bumped him up by 23.

I smiled on the way out the door. Charity doesn’t always have to be giving someone a dollar or a can of food. It can be as simple as saving someone an hour at the DMV.

The Husband’s Guide to Changing Kitty Litter

With only a month to go until baby #3 arrives, I am going to relish in the one duty I have been temporarily relieved of: the dreaded task of changing the kitty litter. For those of you who don’t know, pregnant women are not supposed to get near kitty litter because there is a chance they could contract toxoplasmosis, which can then give their unborn child all sorts of nastiness, such as an aversion to baths, dogs and the constant need to enter any room with a closed door.

So while I have enjoyed the past 9 months of no kitty litter duty, I have not enjoyed watching Siig’s laborious process of changing the cat poop. For those men out there faced with 9 months of kitty litter duty, I graciously pass onto you Siig’s 10 steps for performing this noble task (women, forgive me):

1. Talk about changing the kitty litter for a minimum of three days. This will get you psyched up.

2. On day four, take the kitty litter box and put it on the deck. Let it sit there for a few days. If you are feeling ambitious, you can also place the tools you will need outside as well, such as garbage bag, shovel and new bag of kitty litter.

3. Turn on TV and sit on the couch. When you see the kitty crying because she can’t find her litter box, throw her outside as well. Tell your kids that, most likely, the coyotes won’t get her (unlike her sister).

4. When wife complains that the kitty litter box has been sitting outside for three days and has yet to be changed, inform her it’s all part of your master plan. You have done your research and the litter needs to dry out first before you can transfer it to a garbage bag.

5. Congratulate yourself that you are half-way done with this project. Grab a can of Coors from the fridge and stare at the kitty litter, now even heavier and wetter because of the recent rains. Give it the old college try and say you’ll do it tomorrow.

6. Ignore your wife when she tells you that she had to bring in the dirty kitty litter box last night, even though she’s 8 months pregnant, because the cat was driving her crazy. She tells you that if the baby comes out meowing and licking its private parts, it’s all your fault. Open another beer.

7. Day 7 – you are now ready to get to the heart of the project. Push up your sleeves and empty the old kitty litter into a garbage can. Let the empty litter box sit in the sun for another day. Be sure to leave the full garbage bag outside to annoy your wife and entice your curious cat to open it with its claws to inspect its own poop. Allow the mess to sit on the deck at least 1-2 days.

8. Drink three beers. Heavy sigh. Grab a broom and clean up the mess, yell at the cat for making your job more difficult, pour fresh kitty litter into the box. Leave everything on the deck, including beer cans.

9. Day 9 –  Look at the deck and realize none of the stuff is out there anymore. Your frustrated wife has brought in the kitty litter box, thrown away the garbage bag and empty bag of kitty litter. You wonder why she is looking at you with a scowl on her face. Everything has gone exactly according to plan.

10. Day 10 – Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Tell yourself that if you keep up this pace, by the time you need to change the kitty litter again, your wife will already have given birth.

All part of the master plan.

Would you eat this if you were me?

I am being overrun by two things – ants and hunger.

Unfortunately, I am not hungry for ants, or else I would probably be full. There are so many of them that I have almost come to regard them as annoying roommates – you’d like for them to go, but they live here so you might as well put up with them.

Sometimes I take that attitude. I see them scurrying around the living room floor, on the coffee table or on the wall, and I just say, “Good morning. Did you sleep good? Don’t forget to put your dishes in the dishwasher. And put a check for the electric bill on the table. And can you clean up the kids’ mess while you’re at it?”

Yeah, I wish. If they earned their keep and acted like little fairy godmothers and actually did something useful like tidying up the playroom I might not be tempted to crush the living shit out of them. Sometimes I’m lazy and just stare at them overtaking my house. But most of the time I’m on a mission. Rolled-up magazine in hand, I hunt those little fuckers down. Yesterday, I even broke out the vacuum and started sucking them up like some giant black hole had descended upon them. This is when it really pays off to have a 5-year old son who enjoys torturing insects. He likes to give the ants a slow, painful death by dissecting them with his Swiss army knife. I’m all for it.

Despite our many ways of killing them, the ants are still here. And it’s been nine months. I wrote about this problem before (Ant That Grand). We had someone come and spray in August, and again this winter. But it’s obviously not working. Yesterday I was laying on the couch watching TV when I heard this strange dripping sound that I couldn’t figure out. When I got up to pick up a bunch of the kids’ books that were on the floor, I discovered 15 ants crawling around. I think they had parachuted in on some kamikaze mission to drive me insane and totally gross me out. The ‘dripping’ sound was them landing on the books. I was mortified.

Unfortunately, the ants’ presence has done nothing to diminish my appetite. Eight months pregnant, and I am constantly hungry. I eat, and I’m hungry 30 minutes later. I stay up at night fantasizing about what is the most filling food I can find. I wake up at 4 am starving but too lazy to go upstairs to the kitchen. I would eat my comforter if it was edible.

Being this hungry all the time is work, I tell you. I think I now know what it must be like to be a 15-year old boy. Without the pimples and hard-ons.

What I need is a live-in chef and pest exterminator. They would be two separate positions, of course. I can’t have someone cooking me up ant stew. Unless it was super filling. And tasted like chicken.

Update: As I am writing this, I just spotted an ant for the first time ever in my bedroom. It crawled up on my desk. I think it was carrying a gun and threatening me. I squished it with a yellow sticky note that said “Die, ants, die!” Hope they got the message.

I swear I packed my massage therapist in my suitcase, but I can’t find her

Alas, poor me. Re-entering reality after a week of spa life is challenging.

There is no one to bring breakfast to my room every morning with my favorite newspaper, there is no healthy evening snack waiting for me when I go to bed, and no one has made me a smoothie in five days. Worst of all, my feet are going through total withdrawal after being rubbed every day two to three times a day for a week. And the lavender-lemongrass scent has long since faded from my limbs after my body scrub on Thurs.

What’s a girl to do?

I tried teaching the kids to make me smoothies and bring me breakfast in bed. After all, Siig has trained them to get him a beer from the fridge. But the experiment didn’t work out so well. Turns out that letting two kids loose in the kitchen for some fun time with a blender and frying pan just means more mess for mom to clean up. Where are those maids and room service attendants when I need them?

I still had Siig to work with. Surely he wouldn’t deny a post-spa-recovering girl from a massage? I tried to convince him to rub my back, but, unbelievably, he said he’d rather go snowmobiling. I decided to switch to a different tactic, a more direct approach. Sitting on the couch watching TV, I stuck my bare feet in his face and played the pregnancy card: “Oh, help a mother out! My aching feet. My back. My neck.” It worked – for about three minutes. Then Siig stood up, mumbling something about needing to teach the kids about how to open a beer bottle with their teeth.

I guess I have no choice but to accept my plight – total relaxation-pampering-me-time is over; now I’m back to being mother of two (and a half), cooker of meals, shuttling of children, writer of articles, blogger extraordinaire and (my favorite. not.), shopper of food.

To ease the transition back into my real life, I think I better get a facial. And a manicure. My nail polish from the Golden Door Spa is already chipping.