Thursday, April 3, 2008

An overdue girls' weekend, but first let me get the house in order...

So I'm heading to the beach tomorrow for a much anticipated (and after today's whine fest with no nap for Bird or Deal, a much needed!) girls' weekend. That means no husband, no kids, no cat, no relatives, no neighbors, no one I have to be nice to. My girlfriends usually bring out the best in me and won't care if I'm a wee bit bitchy anyway. If I complain too much they'll just pour me another margarita and ignore me until I can get back to important things like what color to paint my toenails.

This is so going to be Shag relived. However, this time daddy's bourbon won't be off limits, there will be no colonial homes to tour, and sweet potatoes like Jimmy Valentine won't be making out with any of us. There will, of course, be plenty of beevo.

Whenever I leave Mac Daddy with the kids I feel an overwhelming need to prepare the household for any possible thing that can go down. And by leaving, I mean for a night, a weekend, or a couple hours for a lousy tennis lesson. Being the guilt ridden mother/woman/wife that I am, I feel like I need to do whatever it takes to make Mac Daddy's life easier in my absence. Laundry (washed and dried but admittedly not folded and put away), fully stocked fridge (with fresh ice for the Elijah Craig that Mac Daddy will surely need at the end of every day), at least one meal prepared, fruit washed, clothes set out, and fresh towels hung. Would it be overboard to program the coffee maker so Mac Daddy can wake up to some French Roast brewing (organic and fair trade, natch)?

OK, so the clothes bit is just so Bird and Deal don't look like total ragamuffins while I'm gone. One time Mac Daddy took the kids to work with him when I was sick, and Deal's outfit was on backwards. Mac Daddy never stopped to wonder why all that extra fabric was hanging in the front while the back pulled tautly over a size 4 diaper.

Other than some poor judgment in the fashion department, Mac Daddy is perfectly capable of managing our household and the boys. In fact, between you and me, he really does more than I do. Mac Daddy is not of those (lame) guys who calls caring for his own children "babysitting." Before we were married Mac Daddy kept a perfectly tidy house, cooked for me, and even invested in furniture that didn't require assembly. So why the need for me to stress out and get everything in order?

I recall the time when my parents were separated and my mom used to travel two hours each way on weekends just so she could cook a week's worth of meals for us. I have no idea how long this arrangement was in place but I do know that those weekends were pretty damn long and chock full of anxiety. I also recall our fair share of Stouffers frozen lasagna and baked apples on the table. I'm sure my folks did what they thought was best for us, and I give them a lot of credit for making it work. At the end of the day, my brother and I turned into pretty good citizens and stewards of our legacy. We have our parents to thank for that. Perhaps it is this act of sacrifice of those weekends so long ago that drive me to get my house in order while I'm away.

But here's my question: Do any husbands out there feel the need to do the same when they leave the roost? Mac Daddy, fabulous and irreplaceable as he is, has never left me with a gallon of milk and dinner prepared before he heads out for a business trip (aka boondoggle). Oh wait, there was that one time he had dinner delivered as a surprise. He would totally call me on that one lapse so it's a good thing it just struck me. Emphasis on one time...keep in mind that he travels an awful lot.

Do daddies out there leave a weekend's worth of clothes laid out, a fully stocked diaper bag, emergency diaper bag in the car in case daddy forgets the one at home, beer and juice boxes in the fridge, and a nutritious dinner that includes no trans fat or high fructose corn syrup ready to heat and serve? Does anyone out there think about ways to make a mom's life easier?

I guess that's Luca Pachina's job.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Find your own swan.

Overheard at the dentist's office:

"Why are you scarfing down lunch now? I thought you went out for lunch. Where you been?"

"I go tanning everyday at lunch. I'm dating this new guy who says he doesn't like me pale so I tan now."

WHHHAAAAAATTTTT THE F*%#?! I almost fell out of my seat, but I feared dropping People magazine, and I really, really needed to finish reading about Reese and Jake.

Now listen here: Dump his sorry, hairy ass right now. Text him. Email him. Write it in graffiti on a city bus. Stop taking his calls. Delete his messages. And then tell the whole world about what an A-rated prick he is.

Then go take a good look in the mirror. One arm on opposite shoulder and squeeze. Self-hug, honey. Then hug those little boys of yours and realize what an amazing creature God made you. Embrace your beauty and teach your kids to value people from the inside out. I'd roll over in a bin of snakes if Bird and Deal ever made a woman feel like she needed to lie in a bed of cancer rays to be worthy. The shame.

No woman, or man for that matter, but I'm dealing solely with women's self esteem issues here, should be made to feel like she needs to change for a man. (Fellow X-chromosomes make us feel bad enough.) "He does not define your self worth!" I wanted to scream. I was seething inside. And I wish she was too rather than accepting such nonsense as fact. An order, even.

We have enough screwed up messages telling us to be thinner yet curvier, erase those pores, smooth away that cellulite, pucker those lips, whiten those teeth, lift those boobs, carve away that belly. And let's not forget the photoshopping going on to make us think our hair should be a shiny mane strong enough to tie a barbell into it. We're turning into a nation of expressionless, Botoxed, tucked, bleached, blown out Stepford Hos.

Stop the madness. We are all victims of fashion, me included. But I make my own calls. I recently bought a spring little Lilly dress for a wedding rehearsal dinner in Florida with a resort casual dress code. What's more perfect than Lilly for such an affair? Unlike Mac Daddy, the uniform of khaki pants and a collared shirt wasn't going to work for this fashion maven seeking an outfit that would never meet playground sand.

So I try on my new dress, and here's Mac Daddy's comment: "I like the dress, just not on you."

Guess what, I wore it anyway. And for the record, I got a jillion compliments. Between you and me, I think Mac Daddy didn't like the dress because it wasn't clingy enough to show me off to his buddies whose wives aren't MILFs. Had he articulated such a thing, I would have worn a burlap bag emblazoned with "I'm a hottie in my own mind."

Confidence, ladies. We've earned it. Guard it vehemently. Preach it.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Find your Marbles.

We are fortunate to live near a fabulous children's museum. It's a given stop on the Dirt & Noise itinerary for any and all out of town guests. It is more than the interactive, hands on blah blah blah that others in the ilk tout. Marbles has clever exhibits that challenge kids (and adults) of all ages to experience new things, see the world from a new perspective, inspire curiosity, and most of all, have a damn good time.

Bird loves whooping it up in the pirate ship the best, while Deal can't tear himself away from the train table that has waaaaayyyy more hoopla that the lame figure eight track that takes me a day and a half to complete. And me, I'm all over the pint size grocery store and cafe. I love me some play food. For that matter, I love me some real food too.

Our family has a membership to the museum, which is a steal. We more than get our money's worth. Any time I see people there who paid admission, I resist the urge to tell them to just pony up for the annual membership. It will more than pay for itself. Plus, it's pretty cool for Bird and Deal to learn about patronizing the arts and supporting non-profits from an early age.

We do our part to support Marbles. The annual Black & White Bash fundraiser is yet another way we totally get our money's worth. It's a great night out (sans kids!) with delectable food, flowing cocktails, knee slapping, toe tapping tunes, and auction items galore to tempt even the scroogiest penny pinchers out there. We scored an heirloom worthy train toy box for Deal last year. Best of all, it's a chance to dress up in something not meant for sticky jelly hands and phlegmy noses. Who doesn't feel pretty and decidedly un-matronly in a kicky little black silk number with strappy heels and luxuriously long dangly earrings? Can you say, "dry clean only?"

For those readers in my zip code, go ahead and drag your LBD out of the closet. Support your kids while enjoying a date night away from them, sauvignon blanc in hand. That's my kind of irony.

Here are the particulars:

April 17, 2008
Marbles Kids Museum
{201 East Hargett Street}


Live & Silent Auction
Fabulous Food by Catering Works
Music by Fantasy

Black & White Cocktail Attire
{Tickets $50 Per Person}
Visit Black & White Bash to purchase tickets.

All proceeds support Marbles Kids Museum
Questions? Contact Taylor Anderton at 919.857.1021
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Monday, March 31, 2008

We are Family.

The whole Dirt & Noise clan just spent a week cavorting with some cousins and an aunt from out of town. We were honored that they chose to spend their spring break with us. Bird and Deal were on Cloud 9 the whole time because they got constant attention, barrels of fun, and 24/7 entertainment from their older cousins. It was a blast seeing all four cousins joke and play and laugh together. They truly enjoyed each other's company and loved getting to know each other.

Deal fell especially hard for his 12-year old cousin Big D. Deal was basically an attached appendage to him the whole time, and Big D ate it up. I can't wait for him to come back and be our manny for a summer. He is delightful despite his preteen hormones and too-cool-for-school attitude that are surely lurking somewhere beneath his crisp blue eyes, envy inducing lashes, and easy smile. Little M was a comic relief and loved reading to the boys. She was a trooper in a house full of boys who'd rather laugh at fart noises than solve the riddles in Dora. She is the most affectionate little girl I've ever known, which was welcome amidst all the dirt and noise last week.

It was a shame to see Big D, Little M, and Aunt G all head home to the frozen tundra this morning (not just because it was 4:30 AM!). The house is dead quiet. The boys are sullen. Even the cat is wondering where the action went. And the steady pitter patter of much needed rain just adds an element of melancholy to our already glum mood. We're teetering on the edge of what Holly Golightly called the Mean Reds.

Mac Daddy and I don't have any family close by so our kids will never know the Norman Rockwell meaning of family. Every time they see their relatives it's like meeting strangers who conjure up a sneaking feeling of deja vu over and over again. We have family photos all over the place and make it a point to talk about Aunt So-and-So and Uncle What's-His-Name. Our meager attempts to bridge the miles isn't all that successful. You simply can't cram a lifetime of family experiences into a week. Even two weeks. Or three.

The fact is, what makes a family is shared experiences, not just bloodlines. The ingredient that makes all (OK, most) long distance relationships fail over time is DISTANCE. The same holds true for families. Perhaps failure is too harsh a descriptor, but the sentiment rings true nonetheless. Distance is a difficult factor to overcome. I grew up with a couple continents and an ocean between me and my extended family. If my cousins knocked on my door selling encyclopedias I wouldn't recognize them. Ditto for my aunts, uncles, grandparents even.

I never realized until I had a family of my own just how sorrowful that is. You don't miss what you never knew so my childhood was quite fine without family around. But now, I want Bird and Deal to feel that they are a part of something bigger. They have a place in this world chock full of people who love them fiercely despite the miles. They share a last name, a history, a gene pool, and most importantly, unconditional love that stretches to the moon and back again.

Sure, we could chat online and hook up a webcam to make connecting a bit easier, but all the technology in the world doesn't make up for seeing four cousins, ages 2 - 12, curled up together reading Gerald McBoing Boing. And having the time of their lives.
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