Thursday, December 30


Thank God that Holidays are over. OK, there is still one more day, but it  really doesn't count because most people don't leave the couch all day. Frankly, that is my ideal way to start a new year. Lazy. Even though I enjoyed the actual Christmas part of the holiday, I'm totally over it now. I'm ready to put up the decorations, get the new basketball goal out of my living room (thanks, Dad) and most of all, get rid of the goddamn tree.

When we went to pick out the tree, we had Tanner with us and it was like, 12 degrees, so we didn't take a lot of time to peruse their fine selection. I really wanted a Balsam Fir, but we wound up getting some other kind that resembles the Balsam, but cheaper. I did it against my better judgment because we bought the same kind last year by mistake, and pretty soon discovered why it was cheap. It's a pokey tree. Meaning that every time I touched the thing I got stabbed by its needles and then enjoyed 10 minutes of residual stinging. It was like a tree made entirely out of stinging nettles. Fun, fun, fun.

I began to think that over the course of a year, my mind must have erased the pain that the tree had previously inflicted. Like a tattoo or childbirth, your mind just blocks it out so that hopefully you'll be dumb enough to do it again (hello two kids and three tattoos). Sure enough, as soon as we got the thing home and tried to put it in the tree stand, I was already feeling hundreds of pine needles penetrating my skin. While I was under the tree getting poor man's acupunture, Mark was using his work gloves, which I didn't even know he had, to position the tree. Looking at it in the stand, I began to cringe as I thought about how painful it was going to be to hang ornaments.

The next day I borrowed Mark's gloves to string the lights on and damned if those needled didn't poke through leather work gloves, which I didn't even know he had. By the time Piper was ready to hang ornaments, I was bracing for an hour of impromptu crying about "tree owwies." Oddly enough I was the only one that was crying about it. Eventually I just started shoving ornaments into the tree to prevent myself the pain of having to actuall hang them from a branch.

Against the primal instict to avoid pain, I again crawled under the tree to water it, because no matter my age, that's somehow my job. The good news was that because the tree had a natural defense system, no one really bothered it. Tanner rolled too close and got a sharp prick in the face and decided to roll to somewhere safer, like the fireplace. Piper knelt down near it and took a needle to the kneecap, only relieving the pain with a Hello Kitty Band-Aid. They are apparently made of magic and are something that the medical community should really look into. Even I avoided my OCD Christmas tradition of re-positioning ornaments because I knew that I was asking for trouble.

Suddenly the tree went from bad to worse, which I didn't think was possible. Mysteriously all the water was gone and the thing was drying out - fast. I put more water in it, and the next day it was dry again. This went on for a few more days until one night I looked over and saw a weird stain on the tree skirt. I investigated further only to discover that the spot was a gigantic drool slick left by the dog. The friggin' dog had been drinking tree water. At least it explained the recent increase in his trips outside and the dog poop all over the patio. I really thought that the tree stand doubling as a water bowl ended when Mitchell died last year, but I'm now getting the impression that it was a team effort.

When I examined the wet tree skirt with the gigantic snail trail of  drool, I realized that there was absolutley no water in the tree stand and there hadn't been in days. I quickly filled it up but noticed that the tree was no longer taking nourishment. It was if he'd given up, which became apparent as it dried out more and more. At this point I am actually very hesitant to turn on the lights for fear I am lighting a powder keg. I really don't want to be one of those women standing in the driveway being intervied by the local news station in my pajamas.

Side note: this is where I mention that in the event of a fire, flood or tornado there is one item that I will not leave my house without. My bra. I may have crazy bed head and no shoes, but you can bet your bottom dollar in the event of a natural disaster I will have the support I need. My friend had a fire in her apartment a few years ago, and ignored my advice. Although she forgot the bra, she did rescue the cats, so I guess it's alright. It's just a good thing that there were no news crews around.

Over the course of this last week the branches have become brittle and the needles are more dangerous than ever. It's hard to imagine, but our tree has become a lethal weapon, Gibson style. Minus the anti-semetic slurs and domestic abuse. The good news is that we get to take this thing down day after tomorrow and Mark and I are already trying to come up with a game plan on how to get it out of the house without sending everyone to the hospital. I think that it's going to involve us wearing every piece of winter outwear that we have to wrangle this thing out onto the curb. I feel bad for the garbage guys and think that I should really leave them a warning note or something. "Caution! Tree may cause sharp pain, eye bleeding and increase your desire to gamble."

So, even though we gave up on trying to keep the tree alive, apparently it still has water in the stand, which I found out today when I went home for lunch and caught the dog drinking out of it. Again.

Friday, December 24


This time of year always makes me think of Christmas past. Christmas was always both a stressful time and a highly profitable time of year for me. I had to maneuver three different Christmases with two different families, which was a lot to take for a little kid who really only wanted to stay at home on Christmas Day. However the upside was that I got a freakin' ton of presents. Or, as my Mom would say, "full scale model of the Earth."

When I was young it was usually a Barbie Christmas. I had the Barbie Dream House, which my Dad hated because he had to put it together, the Barbie Townhouse, Jeep, Mercedes, Horse, Dog and a variable cornucopia of Skippers, Kens and accessories. In fact I had so many Barbies that  one year I got a Barbie store, which sold hats and shoes, because my Mom said "bitch gotta get a job to pay for all of this stuff." I like to think of it as she was trying to teach me a lesson about the value of a dollar.

Yep, Santa was very, very good to me. When I started to question his existence, I was told that as long as I believed, Santa would come. From that point on I made it my mission to make "Santa," or as we called him, "Ms. Clause," happy. All this meant was that I kissed up to my Mom for the month or so before Christmas and left a glass of Zinfandel instead of milk and cookies. It usually worked.

My Dad on the other hand wasn't so diplomatic. When I was about seven I was visiting him for Easter and kept talking about the Easter Bunny. I knew that he wasn't real, but I really wanted to make sure that I planted the Easter Basket seed. I figured since my Grandmother was with me, it wouldn't be an issue. Well, I was dead wrong. The night before Easter, my Dad took me outside and told me "look, Santa and the Easter Bunny don't exist, deal with it." Oh my God my Mother was pissed. Sometimes on a cold night, if you listen really close you can still hear the echo.

There were other Christmases that left a permanent scars. Like the time that instead of gifts Santa (my Dad) left me switches, which is the Southern equivalent of a lump of coal, except they are meant to beat you with. Don't worry my Mom and Grandmother were super-pissed at my Dad and later that day my Grandmother burned them. Later I learned that my Dad's reasoning was that I had been a "little shit" the entire year, but I am sure that the fact that my parents were going through a divorce had nothing at all to do with that.

Now that I look at it in print I think that I should have a business card made up with the stories above and hand them out to every one that asks me why I hate Christmas. Or, should I say hated. Now that Piper is old enough to get excited, I find that I am looking forward to Christmas for the first time in many years. I participated in the decorating of the house, even using my Mom's very traditional decorations that she sent me. I normally go for kitsch, but Piper tries to play with it all and it's very hard to explain that "it's vintage" to a three year old.

So on this Christmas Eve, I find myself looking forward to tomorrow and watching Piper get everything she asked for, or as I like to call it a "full scale model of the Earth." But in keeping with a family tradition, I will ask her to leave Santa and his helper a couple of beers to wash down those cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17


During Piper's four days of unfortunate intestinal distress, there were many fake-outs that led us to believe that the worst was over. During one such reprieve, I unwisely decided to take her a "Breakfast with Santa" that I'd already paid for. I think had I not already laid out the cash, cooler heads might have prevailed and we would have skipped it. But hey, eleven dollars is eleven dollars.

I should have known better. I did know better. Especially since right before we left, she had a "throw up in her pull-up." Her words not mine. Mark and I thought that the phrase was pretty great and throughout the next couple of days turned it into a techno song of sorts. I still think that in the right demographic it could be a hit.

Anyway, we got her all cleaned up, waited a bit, and then decided to give the Santa breakfast a try, especially since I'd already mentioned the magic word: Santa. We braved the 20 degree weather and reached the Community building just in time for pancakes and Tang. When I asked her how she liked the Tang (because let's be honest, that shit is gross), she said "it's good." I then told her "well the astronauts drink it," thinking myself all kinds of clever and cool. The couple across looked at me like I was an astronaut - from planet crazy. Hey, I can't help it if I'm old and I remember that damned ad campaign.

Piper had exactly two bites of pancakes when she looked at me and said, "I need to go to the potty." I could tell by her face that it was serious. I immediately took her hand and sprinted to the bathroom and we made it time. Almost. All I'm going to say is that I left that bathroom with a pair of panties in my pocket and she went back to the Santa breakfast commando.

I tried to get her to go see Santa, since you know, he was the reason that we were there, but she didn't want to. Instead she wanted to do crafts. I was like "kid, I didn't pay eleven bucks for pancakes and Tang." But we did some crafts and after a while I suggested that we give Santa another try. She approached him with a lot of trepidation and then tried to hide behind me. I kept trying to lure her over to Santa so I could get a picture, even telling her at one point "look, he has a candy cane, don't you want to get a candy cane?" That's when I realized that I was actually encouraging my daughter to take candy from strangers, so I backed off that one.

Then Piper did what Piper does best, which was to throw a fit right there in front of Santa and everyone. Not realizing that the floor she was about to fling herself on was concrete, she really nailed her nose during the episode. I looked at the dude playing Santa and he kind of shrugged and I drug Piper on the highly-buffed floor back to the crafts table.

We were just sitting down to more coloring when two of her friends from school came up to say hi. I asked them if they'd seen Santa and they, of course, had. I then asked if they wouldn't mind taking Piper up there and holding her hand so she wouldn't be scared. They obliged and I have to say that it was super cute. They all walked up there and Piper's fear completely vanished as she ran up to Santa and gave him a great big bear hug, just as her pants fell down, exposing her butt to the entire crowd waiting in line.

She got a candy cane.

Friday, December 10


I'm not very good with other people's bodily fluids. I was not the girl in high school that held your hair back when you threw up, that was Kellie Stewart who should be Sainted for taking care of everyone when we got hammered off of grain alcohol. I really thought that once I became a mother all that stuff wouldn't bother me anymore. I was wrong. Sure diapers are one thing, usually whatever is lurking them is self-contained. If not, you know about it pretty quickly and TCB in a flash. Barfing is something else entirely and I leave that cleanup to Mark and a Hazmat suit.

Thus far we've been lucky and haven't really had anyone that suffered from the big D. I was kind of hoping it would stay that way until they were 10 or so when they could handle the clean up all by themselves. That dream came crashing down yesterday when I got a call from Piper's school reporting "significant diarrhea." Trust me, those are two words you never want to hear in conjunction with one another.

When children are sick, that motherly instinct really kicks in... until you're up every three seconds changing a pull up. Until you find yourself at the grocery store at 8:30 pm buying more pull us and anti-bacterial cleaning supplies just for good measure. Then the maternal instincts begin to lean to the Joan Crawford end of the scale. There's just something about holding a kid down over a toilet while being kicked that takes away those warm and squishy feelings (bad choice of words - sorry) toward them.

I am sure that my neighbors figured that out when I picked her up, potato sack style and put her in the car wearing a shirt and pull ups all the while screaming "I am so tired of your shit" (again bad choice). But before you judge me, I assure you that she was matching me toe-to-toe in the screaming department. And yes, I do expect a visit from family services.

The good news? Now I have it. I can't say as I am surprised as I've been handling poo for the past 24 hours. But as my old roommate use to say, "at least you're losing weight."