My mother was my first true love.

As i sit and try to write memories of her, as her daughter, there are obviously too many to list. There are carnivals, picnics, camping, vacations at the beach. Memories by lakes, on lakes, and  even, once, of evacuating our truck as it sank into a lake. (I'm looking at you, Dad.) There are 35 years--and counting--of an extraordinary woman occupying a great deal of the space in my heart.

Mom had a favorite song and it said:

"Let there be peace on earth....and let it begin with me."

But it was more than a song for her, it was how she lived.

It is true that after people die, there is the tendency to make them seem like angels. But when it
comes to Mom, it is hard to overstate the kindness of her heart and spirit.

Simply look at the things she loved and one can feel her warmth.

She loved color.
She loved to sew.
She loved to garden,
She loved kids.

She loved to make clothes and quilts and Christmas stockings and curtains for her
friends, her neighbors, her grandchildren, and even people she'd never met. For the lucky out there that have something that mom made, you have only to pick it up and you'll be able to feel the love with which it was made.

Mom loved children, and the whole world in which they live…
She loved making childhood magical. She told me, shortly before she passed away, that my childhood was the happiest time of her life. Of course, I already knew this in my bones, because Mom was one of those rare souls who was able to hold onto an innocence of heart all her life, which enabled her to fully enter and embrace a child's spirit. We were always together; she didn’t just parent me, she inhabited my childhood with me. There are myriad pictures of mom playing with me (and later, my children) where she is on the ground, or in the ocean, or on all fours.... on our level, truly enjoying the beauty that is a child's world.

This essence of simplicity made her extraordinary and quietly powerful. She was a rarity in that she truly was a blessing to everyone she met, above all to my children and me.

When I had an early fascination with fashion, she began making the clothes I had designed in my head. As young as age 7, i would draw, and she would manifest my dream clothes. "I have this great idea for a dress made of cotton dolphins jumping though the crests of waves" I'd exclaim, and days later, she'd have me dolpin-clad and ready to be relentlessly mocked at school. But always bespoke, perfectly tailored, and completely original.

For my first communion I refused to wear white (a chilling omen for my parents). Instead of insisting I wear white and buy me a dress like all the other girls, mom sewed me an elaborate, beautiful blue gown – and I wore it proudly, happy to be the odd one out.

Even though mom held on to an innocence and purity of heart, she was strong.
She survived 6 years of cancer, and 42 years of Dad’s driving. True to form, her strength came not from anger, but from love.

As the story was told to me: Mom and Dad were called to the principal’s office on my second day of Kindergarten. They thought I was in trouble already, but that wasn’t the case. Another child on the playground had asked me whether I was black or white, the answer to which, at age 5, I did not know or understand.

“You’ve got to tell Rachel the difference between black and white,” the principal told mom.

“So, what is the difference?” responded Mom calmly. 

Needless to say, the meeting ended there.

Many years later, Mom’s strength of spirit was on full display again when she was diagnosed with cancer and doing chemo. I happened to be pregnant (not shocking, as I am more or less pregnant 90% of the time), but as ever, she put a chance to love and support  me ahead of her own struggles. She scheduled her chemo treatments around my pregnancy, so she could fly to Utah and be there for her last grandson’s birth – as she was for all her grandchildren. But when my fourth child was born, he was barely breathing and fighting for his life. And still, Mom was there, despite the fact that she was also fighting for her own. She arrived just as the Life Flight team burst in to save him, and took him away. She took me home and slept near me, and held me, her baby, as I was crushed by having to come home from the hospital with empty arms. Despite the weakness of chemo, Mom was still there to give me her strength. (Spoiler alert: the kid lived, he’s here screaming/destroying something valuable...)

I can say I even stood to benefit from her few shortcomings. Mom was a terrible cook. You’d bite into a muffin and Bisquik dust would fill your lungs, leaving you discretely gasping for breath, trying not to hurt her feelings. When we would sit down to have dinner as a family, it was sometimes difficult to
hear each other over the crunch of the charred lasagna. If you heard Dad say, “This is FANTASTIC,” it meant I had cooked that night, and Mom
was glaring at him from across the table. It’s astonishing that a woman so full of love could be so cruel to cream of mushroom soup: the words "tuna noodle casserole" still trigger my adrenal glands for me to flee immediately.

But even in this, she inadvertently taught me a love of cooking that I cherish and can share with
her grandchildren today.

("There is not peace in the kitchen; PLEASE let it begin with someone else.")

Just a few weeks ago I asked Mom if she had any regrets.

“Only one,” she replied, “not being able to see my grandchildren grow up.”

Mom never saw the Taj Mahal, or traveled to Asia, or saw a lion in the wild. Her adventures were not about places, they were about people. She didn’t regret where she had not been, or what she had not done. She only regretted the time not spent with those she held so dear. Shortly before she passed away, Mom wrote letters to her grandchildren. In them, she praised each of their individual strengths and beauty, and she promised that if they listened closely, and got really quiet, they would be able to hear her and feel her with them.

She hung a poem on my wall as a child which still hangs by my bed today. It is the perfect poem for an adopted child to see everyday. It reads:

Not flesh of my flesh,

Not bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart….

But in it.

She always told me that being adopted meant I was double loved, or "twice loved". Thanks to her, I always felt that way. And when I was 23 and wanted to find my birth mother, she wanted to find her too. She never felt threatened; there was never any hesitation or caution. And when I found her, and they finally met, my Mom’s first words to my birth mom were “thank you so, so much for my daughter.” And that isn’t just because I’m such a prize (wink), it’s because she was.

Mom lived Love-first. She cherished the opportunity to be grateful and say thank you. She considered it a privilege to have the chance to love me.  

She left her beautiful handprint in my soul. The certitude of being loved by her was something precious beyond words. And though i didn't come into the world in her arms, she held me there my whole life. She held me there till her very last breath, and there is no one who has been given a greater gift.

It is so very sad that she is gone, somewhat irrevocably sad for myself, my father, my aunt, and others who held her so very dear. And yet, we do not have to say goodbye.

We can all live by her legendary kindness.

We can all try and love-first as she did.

We can let peace begin with us.

Thank you, mom, always and forever. You're my angel. I love you.


Chump Trophy

Little children, headache; big children, heartache.  ~Italian Proverb

I am a chump. SHIT.

I very much recall not understanding my parents' frustration, their dismay, their sadness at my mediocrity during my larval stage, but i certainly remember it. And i know that the general malaise they seemed to endure throughout my adolescence was more or less entirely my fault. And now here i am paying it forward like i never thought possible. I can feel myself at times repeating with my oldest son the dynamic my father and i had. Oh, the tumult. The attempt to control and shape a human being for whom you are responsible. My temper. His temper.

I always thought the much smaller generation gap between myself and my son (a mere two decades) would make it so much easier to understand him, would impart a closeness more like that of peers. But time has sped up so much in the last 20 years that the gap between us is huge. Computers, cell phones and social media have rendered parents of today's teens the dinosaurs we thought we'd never be.

I can remember my son instructing me, in a very condescending tone, how to exit a program on a Dell in 2003. He was three.

 In exactly 5 days, he will be 13. A real live teen. It's already so difficult. We butt heads often, both of our hormones raging. He wants little time with us, as his friends are becoming his whole world. And his hour-long showers are a colorful reminder that as a teen, i used to masturbate in the shower until my clitoris almost fell off and washed down the drain. My father would be completely flustered as to the enormous water bills and my incessant lateness. "WHAT IN THE SAM HILL IS GOING ON IN THERE, RACHEL??" he'd bellow, as i shuddered to my 4th orgasm with the detachable 'water massage' nozzle between my legs. I was a real piece of work, to put it mildly.

Flash forward to present day, as i sit looking at our enormous water bill. Which, sadly, has nothing to do with cleanliness. I haven't showered in days, because i have three toddlers and very little time to myself. I haven't even taken a shit alone since 2008. My oldest son, however, will cheerfully announce that he'd "better take a shower now!" at 2PM on a Saturday.

Recently, i opened an drawer in said tween's bedroom and found a mostly-consumed liter-sized blue Mountain Dew. Dew The DEWWWWWW. In blewwww. Although it wasn't drug or sex related, I was mildly dismayed at my son's sugary deviance: What kind of fatty hoards soda? What is this, Arkansas? More jarring was that the bottle instantly reminded me of the time when i was in high school and my father found my liter-sized homemade soda-bottle water bong. It was a bad day for both my dad and myself. Likely more so for him, as i am now coming to realize in the midst of writing this.

[Screen goes wavy, harpist plucks whole tone scale...]

It was probably 1996, so I was about sixteen. After a night out, I came home in the morning and sitting on the front porch in our big blue recycling bin was EVERY last stinky, sticky-sweet n' nasty bottle of alcohol i'd stashed in my bedroom closet, including those that i'd stuffed in my white patent (wait for it...) Go-Go boots in some sort of drunken, idiotic teen desperation. Years earlier, as an non-jaded, go-getting 6th grader, i'd won our town's art competition for the recycling logo (Sort Today, Save Tomorrow!!!) that was now printed on the bin....This was a sad twist of fate. Here was all my Boone's Farm, all my Mad-Dog 20/20, staring me in my stupid face.

"Uh-oh", i thought. "I am so fucked." My father is a wonderful, good man. However, for those of you who do not know him, has a temper that can reduce strangers and other people's children to tears. And alcohol and drugs are very high up on his Sin List, right below uncaught fish and sexual activity of any kind. He hates the shit out of Sins, you guys.

I solemnly and slowly ascended the stairs to the second floor, knowing i would have to pass my dad's home office before i could safely kill myself in my bedroom....

"Hhheeyyyyy, dad", i whispered.  He was sitting at his desk, looking like he had just adopted a kitten, only to have it immediately slain by some sort of large reptile. In front of him was liter of soda--Oh, dear GOD. There it was. My giant, idiotic, plastic homemade bong with the aluminum foil hitter. Even the label was still on. "Sprite!" it proudly declared, completely unaware of it's nefarious alter-ego. And wait....what else did it say?

My father had adhered a piece of paper to the bong that said "#1 CHUMP TROPHY". He was clearly stating, via my mega-retarded bong, that he thought himself a sub-par father because his daughter had smoked pot. (While this wasn't true, perhaps his dismay was warranted because his daughter was a fucking idiot. I am adopted, though. Maybe he found a sliver of solace there?) Either way, this hit home for me. Even if it just happened now, eighteen years later.
This isn't the original, but it was ghetto as fuck, just like this

He kept it on his desk for weeks, I'm sure more as a form of self-torture than as a reminder to my dumb ass to clean up my act. I am fairly certain at many points in my adolescence and perhaps even adulthood, my parents thought me a lost cause. This incident paled in comparison to many that would follow.

I am definitely in for some serious karmic bitch-slaps when it comes to my own children. I can only imagine our drug talks:

"One time, mommy was in a hippie's tent with a nitrous tank and visited a parallel universe. Oh, and the hippie was daddy."

Perhaps the sage Chump Trophy is a hideous, smelly, tape-covered reminder for parents to take it easy, on our kids but even more so on ourselves. Maybe even if our kids are disappointing in their adolescence they may still become functioning, happy, adults???  Furthermore, what defines 'functioning'? Or 'happy'? Or shit, 'adult'? And if and when they do, would it have happened whether we beat ourselves and our kids up about all their failings and indiscretions? I think our society puts so much pressure on parents via the concept of a nuclear family. EVERYTHING is up to the two (or fewer) people raising the child, there is rarely a "village" to share responsibility. I know my parents put worlds of pressure on themselves, and my husband and I do the same. The guilt factor is huge.

So, as i embark on the journey of being a parent of a teenager who will be using all the expensive conditioner to not condition his hair and likely taking bong hits before i know it, i realize i will have to constantly remind myself what it was like to not be a grown-up or a parent. That he's not intentionally hurting us, he's just growing up, which is awkward and difficult. That he's not a bad person or destined for failure because he screws up. That the best thing we can do is accept and love him unconditionally and always. My parents were and are exceptional at that, and i hope they know it's the greatest gift they could have given me. And even though i'm a bona fide, minivan-driving, home-owning grownup, i'm still a daughter as well as a mother. I love my dad, and we still have plenty to learn from each other. And the best i can do, the best any of us can do, is learn from the experiences we have with our parents, good or bad, and try to grow with our children. They are, by the laws of evolution, more advanced human beings than ourselves, even if they seem like ill-clad idiots with poor hygiene and worse grades. Maybe i will try and remind myself that i'm interacting with a superior, progressive human being the next time my kid tells me i'm "the WORST!" or he weeps hormonally over a bagel flavor like a menopausal woman. But i'll probably just yell and send him to his room like my parents did. The circle of life.


Child Pornography

Here's the chapter where you guys find out what I'm really up to and you call the police! Just kidding. It's not about child pornography. It's about sexuality, which for me surfaced at a very young age. My husband was all, "Can we get a better intro into your issues? Lalalala I'm hypersexual?" Well, I can't think of any other way to say it, so there it is. It's late as shit right now. It's on the table, take it or leave it.

 I have been thinking about sex since before I knew what it was. My friends I've known since grade school were pretty into it too, and one might wonder whether a Catholic education has an opposite effect as that desired by the educators. (It does. Catholic schoolers are freaks.) Our entire society is shame oriented, and going to a religion-based school definitely ups the shame quotient. Somehow (*ahem* human nature), all that guilt training just made us all that much more deviant. The whole system backfires. I have vivid memories of much of my childhood, but I'm sure the reason the sex-related stuff sticks out is because i was taught, as most of us are, that it was taboo and i was bad.
I refused to wear white. My poor parents.

I can remember the exact moment i became aware of sex, that it existed at all. My parents were not overtly sexual or at all affectionate with one another, and i was spared the classic, scarring scenario of walking in on them doing the nasty. Nothing was nasty about my parents, nothing. It was like Gandhi and Mother Teresa were married and expected to get their saintly freak on. If it were up to their example, i would have joined a convent. As it happened, I was in first grade at a fancy private school, wearing a plaid jumper and forest green knee socks with Sebagos, my blonde quasi-afro as wayward as my giant buck teeth. My brand new friend, Brandy, leaned over to me and whispered the news that she'd just seen the BEST MOVIE IN THE WORLD at her older cousin's house:

Brandy: "You know why they call it 'Dirty Dancing'?"
Me (oblivious): "No?"
Brandy: "Because they DO IT while they're DANCING!!!!!"

I had no idea what she meant, but i had to find out what 'doing it" was, STAT. Needless to say, i watched the movie as soon as i possibly could, without my parents' permission. I was hooked.

Brandy was involved in several other "rite of passage" type scenarios for me. This includes the time in 2nd grade when she told me we could expect to get our Periods ANY DAY. (For those of you who are severely retarded, most girls don't menstruate until around the 6th grade.) I never had the guts to tell her i had no idea what she was talking about when she made these revelations, so i just tried to imagine what it might be. In this case, i vividly remember imagining our Periods would be given to all of us, girls and boys, at a ceremony in the school chapel. It would be a Special Day, and we would be required to wear our crested blazers, as we did for graduations and such. Mister Grega, the school's officiant, would hand us each a plaque with the words 'YOUR PERIOD' reflecting from its gold face, and he would beam with pride and shake each of our little hands, happy to be a part of this milestone in our young lives.

She also helped me try on my first bra when we were in 3rd grade and utterly titless. It was peach and had a Calvin Klein elastic band. We did those exercises described in Judy Blume's 'Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret?' to make us grow boobs, and we made up sex stories that revolved mainly around lacy lingerie and kissing.

Another of my oldest friends, Katie, realized we had a sex obsession in common when we met in 4th grade. Our Barbies, which we secretly still played with, fucked like rabbits despite Ken's handicap of being unable to remove his tight, flesh-colored underwear. It was one long, drawn-out dry hump party in Barbie's townhouse. They were all involved, even those i had rendered stubble-headed. It was like a bizarre, sexless orgy in a posh cancer ward.

Katie and I also took up the sex fantasy talk with fervor around 5th grade. My parents used to take us on these things called Volksmarches, which were basically just long walks for nerdy adults. They were about 5k, and you got a medal at the end, so in case people didn't believe you could walk, you could hold that Volksmarch medal right up in their skeptic-ass FACES and show them what was what. Katie and i were always sure to be ahead of or behind my parents, out of earshot. We would create casts of characters who did nothing but seduce and fuck each other all day and had closets full of lacy bustiers. They were always husband and wife, and nothing got too kinky, save for a couple of Christmas Editions.

By the time we were 12, Katie and i were planning the loss of our virginities with the dedication of Olympic athletes. We'd stay up till 3 am in her mauve-ass room, dreaming of boys. We wanted to wait "till we were at least 13", so as to avoid any rumors of our sluttiness. The key piece of the puzzle we overlooked, however, was the fact that we were absolutely hideous. I was right in the middle of a crippling awkward stage that lasted approximately six years and was not aided in the least by the 1990s. I looked as if my parents had adopted me from Somalia weeks earlier and taken me directly to the 5-7-9 clothing store for multiple pairs of socks and any number of floral, puffy items. The seasonally appropriate colored bands on my braces weren't helping. Needless to say, boys didn't come closer than a safe several yards.
En fucking fuego

One summer during this racy sexual journey of mine, my 16-year-old cousin came to babysit and gave me Playgirl magazines to mull through while she was busy. She would draw me science-class pictures of the female reproductive system, in some bizarre attempt to be scholarly and maternal. She meant well (I hope), but was likely (totally) screwing me up completely. This is probably why i was so young when i discovered my own genitals. Besides, looking the way i did, it would be quite some time before anyone else came near them. My Tretorns and homemade puffy paint sweatshirts weren't causing any hard-ons, so it was necessary to take matters into my own hands, or at least my right hand. I remember, once again, having NO idea what an orgasm was or how sex was supposed to end. But i remember touching myself for the first time and thinking my brain was going to explode. I thought to myself, "Oh my God! I gotta stop! I gotta..stop....what's....happening???" Boom. Scorched earth.

I did not discriminate when it came to finding smut, either. We used to visit my grandmother in her assisted living facility in upstate New York, and there was a small library adjacent to the lobby. It was here that i discovered the sequels to 'The Clan of the Cave Bear', an excellent book that was actually required reading my freshman year of high school. The original, however, did not contain the straight up hot cave-porn that spiced up the subsequent books in the series. The protagonist, Ayla, was essentially described as a prehistoric version of Barbie and was constantly getting lovingly banged by her hot cave-partner, 'Jondalar'. He had a huge and often throbbing "member" with which he would "penetrate her quivering womanhood" on the daily. Thanks, Assisted Living Facility! Keep the change!

I was 13 by the time i actually made out with someone in Real Life. You'll recall i had big plans to be sleeping with at least one hot slice of masculinity by that point, but as reality would have it, i was making out with a fellow Giant Nerd from theater camp. (Yes.) He was starring as Kenickie opposite my Rizzo in our production of Grease, so he was a natural choice. We made out on the forest floor in the woods near my house in mild states of undress, and it was pretty cool, save for the two pairs of braces and his overactive salivary glands. However, the angry Catholic God with whom i was so familiar by then made sure i got poison ivy from head to toe. When i say head to toe, i mean every single inch of my body. My eyes were swelled shut and so was my (still untouched! so unfair!) vagina. It was a full-on Phantom of the Opera situation, and i was taken to the ER. God was being a real dick that day.

Years later, I finally lost my virginity at a friend's graduation party at age 16. I was totally in love with the guy and we remained friends for many years. Still, I had both hands over my eyes and yelled at him to "JUST GO!" because i couldn't bear to be a virgin for another SECOND. Thus began my sexually active life. But that is another chapter. That is a lot of chapters. Buncha chapters. Keep reading....

**Brandy is still one of my closest friends, even though neither of us became the dirty dancers we dreamed of being. She is the dean of a school for children with special needs, and i am a mother of four and an artist. So lame.
**Katie and i are also still extremely close. She, more appropriately, is becoming a sex therapist.


Fifty Shades Of Gay

     If the minivan, perpetual pajamas and litter of babies weren't enough to tip you off that i am a mom, perhaps you've taken note of the battered copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on my nightstand?

    Hold on. Wait. Don't even read this. I'm embarrassed. Plus, unless you're a complete dickwad like i am, you avoided these "books" at all costs. Or perhaps you're illiterate? In which case, "ghfffyufgyhguivehwifOhidontevenknowewiopjior3ik3lkjohnnyfivealive" Amazing. Bestseller, right? Give me ten million dollars, Random House.

    Still reading? Well, I will admit that, as with Twilight's stupid ass, i locked myself in a bathroom away from my children like so much Bin-Laden-In-A-Bunker (too soon?) to finish the trilogy, but was appalled all the same.

But the point here is that sometimes, we all could use a little smut in our lives. All of us, that is, except my father, the Ne'er-Do-Monk, who threatened to write to the local Mormon-owned grocery store chain here in Utah, outraged that they are selling "that sex book". God bless him. My other point is that publishing companies are run by morons such as the trilogy's protagonist, Anastasia Steele. Fifty Shades Of Grammatically Incorrect.

    Christian Grey ('sardonic smile', 'long fingers', 'impressive erection', and all) is no less imaginary than a blood-sucking, Hot n' Sparkly Twilight vampire. This man will do anyone's husband/boyfriend/lover/ice-skating partner the honor of making them look like a fat, poor, inadequate piece of crap. Those who claimed their relationships were "enhanced" by 50 shades could not possibly have had a sex life outside of their own genitals to begin with. My darling, talented, great-looking husband would interrupt a chapter and i always looked at him like he was an ugly, homeless sack of dog shit for even encroaching on my dream lover (cue Bobby Darin).

Dave was all,
--"Why are you in the upstairs bathroom? What are you doing? The baby woke up."
--'"Whatever, nothing, i dunno. Shutup. Make billions of dollars, quicklike. Here's a binkie."

     Like Twilight, which i read/ saw a couple of years ago, this book is written by an author with little talent and even less Thesaurus access. The repetitive nature of the prose is nothing short of autistic. The author, Rain Man James, utilizes catch phrases that are so mediocre that they shouldn't even be put into print once, let alone 455 times. Phrases like, "Jeez" 81 times. And "oh my" 72 times. Anastasia "blushes" or "flushes" 125 times, including 13 that are "scarlet," 6 that are "crimson," and one that is "stars and stripes red." (I can't even imagine. Not even Ryan Lochte blushes red, white and blue.)

Furthermore, i wanted to punch every one of her 'Inner Goddesses' right in the face. (In my head, her Inner Goddesses were illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. Punch yourself in the face if you comprehend this reference.)

   Like Twilight's author, she has made unfathomable amounts of money with a sub-par novel that speaks (whispers-sweet-nothings?) to the loins of sub-par Americans. And here am i, waving dumbly among them. I consider myself a moderately intelligent and decently literate human being, and yet i found myself at the grocery store on a Friday night buying the second and third books in the trilogy (and like, three boxes of brownie mix...and some Pamprin...*single tear*) because i simply could not wait another second to read them. I've already admitted publicly that i am a raging gaywad, and clearly there is a lot of freedom in coming out of the proverbial Nerd Closet. Honey Badger don't give a shit.

     The oft-made correlation between Fifty Shades and Twilight is not at all unfounded. It's (spoiler alert!) about a non-existent male and the Pretty-And-Smart-But-Retarded idiot he loves. He's wealthier than Steve Jobs, he's hotter than the entire cast of Magic Mike and Christian Bale combined, and perhaps most importantly, he's a fixer-upper with a dark side. What woman doesn't want to fix? "Oh, look at this dilapidated bullshit, I'll add yellow curtains! DIY, ladies!!!" We all want to Etsy the shit out of everything, and men are no exception.

    Our hero, Mr. Grey, is a genius. And, he plays a piano on which he also fucks our leading lady's virginal brains out, he has planes, helicopters, homes in exotic places, sort-of-slaves, and he's a golden god in the sack. So much so that "intense," "body-shattering," "delicious," "violent," "all-consuming," "turbulent," "agonizing" orgasms delight our previously-unsexed heroine on at least every third page.  Still, she retains her retarded shred of feminism throughout, and her general thought process remains: "Hmmm. I just don't know. I love him so much, but can i live like this? All these servants? All these expensive clothes? All this phenomenal sex with the hottest motherfucker alive? On his yacht? With his unwavering devotion and a flawless mother-in-law who adores me as her own, but not in an overbearing way at all?? I mean, after all, i did just get a great job two seconds after college graduation. Maybe i should just work for a living and wear my dumb ugly Wal-Mart clothes. After all, i really do hate shopping..." (Pfffft! Mid-level job straight out of college. Pretty girl who hates to shop. This IS good fiction.)

      Also, there's the "BDSM". I suppose i have to address this, because THIS is what evidently distinguishes the book from all the other romance novels with Fabio on their covers. But honestly, this is the fine line, and heretofore no one spoke of it on a mass, public, bestselling level. This is how my religious dad distinguishes and protests this book in his mind. But this is where i, as part of Momerica, must champion alllll Fitty Shades:

     Lots of girls like to be spanked, lots of girls like submission, some like domination, blah blah blah. Lots of guys like the same thing, but who says so, unabashedly? This isn't darkness, this isn't anti-feminism or abuse.  Had these books included gimps and terror and violence or rape, it wouldn't be a bestseller. There's where i think E.L. is good-doing, and reading (writing) between the lines.  WE'RE ANIMALS, ALL OF US.  Those who are waxing feminist do not seem to understand at all. As women, we are ALWAYS in control. James points out through Christian Grey, that the submissive is truly the dominant. And after all, who but women will further the human race? To incubate, birth, raise, and educate the next generation? Men inherently know this, i think, and they inherently worship and fear us. Those who don't are out of sync with the universe, in my opinion. Even homosexual men respect and worship that from which they came. Often in a more reverent way than the hetero man...

The other conundrum, at least for me, as amazing as i am (*crickets chirping*), is that E.L. James is kind of a fatty. I really wanted her to look like Cindy Crawford. Like...older C-Craw. She's not ugly or anything, but when people are fucking in my mind because you made them and you're not writing  at college level or above, you should really be moderately hot. Especially if you're making bazillions for it. Just diet for a goddamn second, for Chrissake. Jenna Jameson is turning over in her grave. Oh wait. Is Jenna still alive?

  All this said, one must hand it to E.L.: She tapped the market in a genius way and made record (RECORDS! SHATTERED! WHAT IS WRONG WITH US??) amounts of money. She walked the fine line between porn and The Babysitter's Club that unfortunately runs through the subconscious minds of most Thirtysomething moms, and we all read her grocery store books to kingdom come. With a flashlight. At 3 AM. Possibly with one hand down our pants.


Oh, Did I Have A Blog?

Guys, i wrote this a year ago. Since then, if you can possibly believe it, life got even more insane. But i think Gus may have stopped wanting us to die, school is starting, and we have a nanny now, so, once again, I'm hoping the upswing is around the corner. But i have had quite a few requests to start writing again, so i figure i have to start somewhere, so here is a glimpse of my 2012:

Oh, hi! Perhaps you remember my blog. I don't. I only have about three brain cells left, and they all have to hold hands and fucking Kumbayah for me to think. Since our military dictator bundle of joy arrived a year and a half ago, the shit hit the fan, so please do excuse the delay. I have been busy dying inside. That little baby-shaped ball of evil persistence has seriously tipped the scales around here. We love him dearly, but either he's planning to save the world or burn it to dust and ashes, we aren't sure which. Should we buy him a unicorn or a hairless cat? The kid has fire. He is responsible for countless baby-maimings both at daycare and on playdates, and he looks like a tiny, pissed-off version of my mother-in-law. It's disconcerting at best. It's like i can feel him judging me. He even tries to bully his older siblings. Beau has immunity, of course, but Kingston and Georgia often come to me sobbing that Baby Gus has somehow drawn blood. I sometimes wonder if he actually did die in the NICU, and they just pulled some Pet Sematary shit and brought him back to life and any day now he's going to cut through my Achilles tendon with a butter knife. To quote my husband's fevered query last night, "WHY IS HE SO HATEFUL? WHY IS HE RUINING EVERYTHING? He's taking...our souls...*muffled sob*..."

 But! When he's cute, he's beyond cute, and smart as a whip. I really think he just has serious drive, and when he can articulate it more successfully and is able to keep up with the herd a little better, he'll be a delight. But we will probably be dead by then because he will have already murdered us. (Even now, i type sitting on an inflatable donut because he pushed me out of a hammock and broke my tailbone. He is ONE.)


 Anyhoo, since we just bought our dream house and are beginning a remodel, i thought i'd rev up the old blog again so you can all feel awesome about your easy-ass lives. Starting this week! I probably need to do some filling in as well, because there has been some pretty entertaining clusterfuckery that has gone on in the past 18 months. Even just in the last 4 weeks, my toddlers crashed a truck into someone's HOUSE, i have been in the ER twice, we moved out of our old house without any assistance, and i was kissed heartily by a woman without my permission. But we are still married, my kids and my parents are alive, we have an amazing house to work on, and only one of my bones is broken, so i still consider myself a lucky lady. Stay tuned...


Baby C Dubs

So, my status as Luckiest Lady Alive has been set in stone. The recent past has contained both the most frightening and uplifting moments of my life thus far. Not a funny post, i don't think, so if you like funny, read the one about dildos and old people. Actually, read that one anyway. It's a winner.

In retrospect, Dave and i both somehow felt intuitively that something would be difficult or "wrong" about Cassius' birth, but neither of us voiced our premonitions because...well, you don't want to give any credence to your fears. And the birth itself was a complete cakewalk. I (finally) had an epidural, and my husband was like, "Why the hell didn't you do this before??? It's so QUIET in here! " Beau was there, and when i said i could feel that the baby was ready to be born, Beau chose to stay, holding a washcloth on my forehead as i pushed. "Don't look down Beau", i advised. "If you do, you'll never want to see another vagina as long as you live." He listened, but after what happened next, he didn't talk much for the next few days, and I wish he hadn't had to cope with such a weighty situation.

My mother in law on one side, and my love and sweet oldest son on the other, Cassius came into the world. He was beautiful: curly haired, blond, and a total synthesis of his three predecessors. "Oh God, look at him. I swear, this never gets old," Dave said, smiling. I held Cassius for a moment, and fell in love, as only a mother does. But he didn't cry. Instead, a gurgling sound came out, and the midwife handed him quickly to the nurses, who looked at each other ominously and shook their heads. And then they took him from me.

Evidently he had "fluid in his lungs." I didn't see him for hours, and when i did, he was unswaddled, in only a diaper under heat lamps, with oxygen tubes in his nose and a mask near his mouth. According to the monitors, air levels were still low and his breathing was haggard and erratic. He looked helpless and awful. I wasn't allowed to hold him, and barely allowed to even touch him. But he seemed to be holding on.

After a  few hours of sleep, the nurse woke me and said that he was stable, and that he had relaxed a bit, but when i went to see him, it was obvious he was still fighting hard. They had started antibiotics, presuming an infection and probable pneumonia, and the oxygen mask was kept on more consistently.

And then, the following day, he dropped like a rock. A nurse came running for me and asked me to speak to the doctor over the phone. Dave was out getting us some food and my mom was at the airport still, so i was alone.

--"Mrs. Chamberlain, we are going to go ahead and get him to the university hospital. He's... well, he's going downhill a li-i-i-i-tle faster than I'd like to see, and just as a precautionary measure, we're going to get him up there where they're a little better equipped to help him out."
--"He's going to be ok then???"i asked.
--(Pause)"We're just going to take him up there now. You know, we could wait and see, but it's probably best we just have him over there before we're in a panic. They should be there in the next couple of hours."

Just as he said that, a Life Flight team burst through the doors and came to my baby son's bedside. At the same time, Dave came running through the doors as well and held my shaking shoulders as i sobbed uncontrollably. We watched for a minute as our baby's chest completely collapsed, the top of his chest sinking all the way into his tiny spine. He looked exactly like a caught fish out of water, desperate for breath. I knew then that there wasn't much time, and he could only fight a little longer. He was dying in front of us, and thought i would die too. The head nurse, Beverly (who had helped me deliver Georgia two years earlier) escorted me back to my room as i was backing away, unable to watch helplessly.

Beverly then left to see what was happening with Gus. She returned after a bit and reported he had been stabilized and put on a life support--an oscillating breathing machine inserted into his windpipe--and given morphine in order to rest. Apparently he had been working so hard to breathe in the 20 hours since he'd been born that he hadn't slept or rested at all, which is normally all babies do. He was being transported to the University of Utah Primary Children's hospital, and we were to follow.

We arrived, and after waiting for an hour or so, we were told he was stable, and went to see him. All the nurses were so confident, level headed and sharp, and it boosted our confidence that he was in the best possible hands. However, although positive, they told us we were not out of the woods yet. He was still on the breathing machine, and would remain on it for a day or so longer. He had tubes in his nose, one in his mouth that went down into his stomach, and several going in through his new belly button.  It was hard to see, but at least he was resting and at peace.

Then we had to leave him and go home without a baby in our arms. For me that was super difficult. The first night, i slept with the assistance of the painkillers they give postpartum, but i awoke sobbing after a few hours. It felt like my heart was literally breaking, the emotional pain becoming physical. But thankfully my husband and my sweet mom were there, and she rushed into our bedroom and rocked me, her baby, in her arms until i was able to calm down, then stayed up talking to me until i fell asleep again. And my in-laws let us stay at their house, which is adjacent to the hospital, for the subsequent nights when i had to pump breast milk and Dave had to drive it to the NICU every three hours. We were well supported and very loved throughout the ordeal.

So the short version from here is that he went off the breathing machine after a day or so and was put on a high-flow oxygen cannula , then a low flow, then eventually down to breathing regular room air. After several days, the antibiotics that were fighting his pneumonia took effect, and a week later i was able to nurse him for the first time. (Normally i hate nursing's guts, but this was a brilliant moment for sure.) He stayed in the NICU for a total of eleven days, but since he was only a little early, he made a full and fabulous recovery without any residual problems or expected long term effects. We couldn't believe our luck, especially after seeing what the majority of the NICU looked like. Cassius's roommate, for example, weighed 1 1/2 pounds when she was born, and was at 2 1/2 when we were introduced to her. But she was still here, and still fighting. There were babies with obvious, heart-wrenching deformities, those that would suffer long-term complications, and those that would not simply make it, despite the heroic efforts of the nurses. My heart goes out all these children and their parents--or any parent who has to watch their child suffer.

The nurses were the most special breed of person i have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and are all walking angels, i swear. One of Cassius's nurses worked the night shift, ran a tax service with her husband during the day, had six sons (five surviving sons, she said), and a three-year-old grandson in her custody. She was incredibly on top of her game, completely pleasant, and joked and laughed with us as she shared her stories. It really blew my mind. All of them cooed and loved these babies as if every one was the most important thing in their world. It was beautiful.

All and all, this was life altering. This was the accidental child whose presence in our life seemed too daunting to cope with when i got pregnant. And then i thought i lost him at 4 months, and then i thought i was going to lose him again after he was born, and the mere threat of that was unbearable. All this has not made life any less hectic or stressful, and bringing him home has been quite a circus (although thankfully our burden was much eased by my mom's six week stay). But it has changed the way i look at my kids. They are the most beautiful, miraculous little beings, and i am so incredibly lucky to have their healthy little bodies in my arms every day. I am so thankful for my husband and how much i love him, and for the incredible, unwavering support of our amazing parents and family. We are truly blessed. Baby Cassius is aptly named, growing like a weed, and totally awesome.

starry-eyed miraculousness


Baby Jesus. And Vaginas.

Christmas with my husband's family is never normal. His mom is an atheist whose "number one reason to celebrate Christmas this year is the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (because you are both gay and in the military? OK....). His oldest sister Claudine and her family are vegan, in stark contrast to his uber-carnivorous dad, and his other sister Annie is a Mexican-By-Marriage whose spouse and son have only recently stopped littering indoors. His brother Paul and i are just plain adopted, and claim no blood ties to any of them. And my husband is a big fat fucking Grinch of a middle child.

Last year, as i was in the pantry searching for vegan ingredients, i stumbled upon Dave's mom's stash of chocolate vagina pops. I can only speculate, but i imagine Ponce De Leon felt this way when he found Florida. "Holy shit, Claudine!" i yelled. "LOOOOOOOK!" There were several of them, and i imagine they were left over from her acting stint in The Vagina Monologues starring opposite Babs DeLay, our town's most famous lesbian (who once told Dave his wife was one 'seriously sexy woman'. Thanks, Babs!). Whatever their origin, it was a spectacular holiday find.

Christmas Miracle

I miss my family terribly this time of year, but this year it was simply too much to haul the kids home 8 months pregnant. Don't get me wrong, i love Dave's family, all of them, but they are insane. Luckily, my mom was able to come out last week and we got most everything done for Christmas early. So i thought i was done and ready to chill a bit until yesterday when my father-in-law let me know that he had bought nothing for his wife and would like me to take care of this. I was thinking along the lines of a sweater from Coldwater Creek or some other old people store, or perhaps some nice jewelry. But since her two daughters who know her best are both in town, i decided to turn to them for a better idea. I was in no way prepared for their answer.

"We were thinking a Camelbak water backpack and a 'special treat' from the back room of Cahoots," replied Annie. Cahoots is a novelty store with a back room filed with giant dildos, penis vases, and 'anal training kits'.
-"I just threw up in my mouth," i responded.
-"I know, it's gross, but she would really love it," she said.
-"Holy Christ. I'm so glad my parents have never had sex. Um, ok, i'll come pick you up around three?"

In the car, Annie explained that since her dad's prostate surgery last year, there have been 'issues' in the bedroom. I had already become privy to this unsettling visual, thanks to Dave's mom's giant yap. According to Annie, she's telling everyone who will listen about the impotence issues, and how much it sucks for her. "Jesus Christ," said my husband. "Fucking eww. Like what are they, a hundred? Why do they need to hump anyway? My poor dad..."

But in Annie and Claudine's opinion, a dildo for mom was just the ticket. Maybe this would shut her up, they suggested. "If someone gets you a dildo for Christmas, it's time to shut up about it," Annie said. Agreed. On to Cahoots.

The only thing more ridiculous than two pregnant ladies in the dildo store is two pregnant ladies in the dildo store shopping for their mother/mother-in-law. The first thing to catch my eye was the pregnant blow-up fuck doll. "She's Got A Bun In The Oven And She's Ready For Another!" declared the box excitedly. Oh my gross. There was also a midget doll and a "Fatty Patty" doll, whose package touts "NOW THAT'S A BIG BITCH!" Another doll was simply called "John" and had "no holes or openings". He is, as one website claims, 'Suitable for propping up in the cubicle of a co-worker you suspect is homosexual.' Good to know. And there was a dirty old man inflatable doll, which we bought, because "Isn't he the cutest?" asked the clerk. Yes. So cute. Not fucking disgusting at all.

On to the actual dildos. What gets me about sex shops and dildos is the juvenile nature of so many of them. They're like My Little Ponies or something. Clit stimulators posing as little pink and purple plastic butterflies, vibrators that look like rainbow unicorns. Is this Toys R' Us? Just because you're female, you're supposed to want to fuck dolphins and rabbits? Weird. And if you're a man, you are supposed to be a rapist, pretty goth, and definitely Krazy 'Bout Anus. And don't forget to know your cock ring size. Because with a strict no-return policy, i'm pretty sure you can't try them on.

Now, buying a dildo for someone else's genitals, particularly senior citizen genitals, is a conundrum on top of a conundrum. Bigger? Smaller? Less scary? Batteries or not? Are you puking yet? The one thing that was for sure was that the El Baron Latino and the Latin King were out. Since taking in Annie's Mexican stepson this winter, hispanics of any kind (even barons and kings) are not high on the list for the mother-in-law, and i suspected this would cause more anger than arousal. Plus you just can't go too lifelike when selecting a sex toy for your mother. Wrinkled balls are just out of the question.

After a phone consultation with Claudine, we decided on the Rabbit. We'd heard good things about it, and at $120, it couldn't be bad, right? I still couldn't believe this was happening in the first place, and the expense was pretty mind-blowing. Plus, we hadn't run this by Dave's dad yet, the benefactor for this entire ridiculous spree. I mean, this is supposed to be a gift from him. This was my main concern about the whole endeavor: how would he feel about this? My guess was 'pretty goddamned bummed out'. Like, what better Christmas news than this: "Hey!! Your wife won't stop bitching about your temporary, post-surgical sexual ineptitude, so your daughters got her this big fat crazy vibrator from you! Ho ho fucking ho!!!"

And my guess was right. When we returned to their house with said Rabbit and showed Dave's dad, i told Annie that she was on her own with this part, but i was so curious to see his face that i followed into the bedroom where she revealed the Rabbit. His face went from confused to disappointed to a mix of shock/sorrow/amusement. Then, to my utter horror, he said, shaking the Rabbit at me like a finger scolding a child,
-"Now whose idea was this? Rachel, was this your idea?"
-"Are you KIDDING me, Will? No WAY."

Annie was laughing and told him it was his daughters who had come up with the plan, and then spent a long time trying to convince him and explain that this giant vibrating monstrosity would be best for mom, and really for everyone. I left the room at that point and went to recover and rub my forehead in the family room. When Annie finally emerged, she said that "He wasn't into it, but it may just take some time." Christmas is the day after tomorrow. I'll keep you posted as to how this whole debacle turns out. If it's a disaster, i guess one of us could try it out. Or we could Ebay it. Or how about both? "Up for auction: One gently used mom dildo, $50."


So it turned out as well as could be expected, i think. Christmas was lovely. Claudine made a killer vegan coffee cake, the kids all had a twinkle in their eye, some very thoughtful gifts were exchanged, everyone got Shakira perfume from K-Mart for some reason....and my mother-in-law was THRILLED about her dildo. Christmas truly had arrived.

We agreed the gift would best be given by the girls, and not Will. So after the initial bout of gift exchange was over, the sisters and i took Linda into her home office/self-glorification room to reveal the Rabbit, and she squealed with delight like a kid with a new Lego set, or someone who is age-appropriate for receiving a vibrator, perhaps. She told us she'd been meaning to get one for herself, as per the advice of all her girlfriends, but hadn't gotten around to it. She cooed about "how hard it was",  and said "Yesssssss!" when we told her it did indeed vibrate--and then some.

-"I'll let you know how it goes!" she told us excitedly.
-"Um, or don't," said Claudine.
-"Yeah", said Annie, "that was kinda the point. Like, maybe you can stop talking about it now."

Evidently oblivious to our request for reticence, she continued on, telling us that her husband actually had a sex toy of his own already, but "wasn't using it much". At this point, Beau walked in, and we all screamed maniacally at him to leave the room.

-"What?" he asked. "What are you guys doing?"
-"NOTHING!! OUT OUT OUT!" we shrieked in unison.
-"Okay! God..." said Beau, backing away slowly in fear and confusion.

According to my husband, back in the living room, Claudine's daughter Katie was busy interrogating her dad, Pete, about the whole situation. She is 12 and very smart--hopefully not smart enough to figure this one out. Pete has an awesomely deadpan demeanor that must have made this hilarious to watch.

-"What is it? TELL ME."
-"NO, Katie. Do not go in there."
-"Because i said so."
-"What is it ? Just tell me."
-"No. I'll tell you when you're 21."

And so forth. If you ask me, 16 is too young to drive, and 21 is too young to find out about your grandma's dildo. But at least by then she can numb the pain and stop the shaking with a few shots of whiskey, an army blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

Shortly later, Linda emerged from her office to embrace her husband in the kitchen, effusive about her gift. "Now we can use our sex toys together!" she gushed, hugging him. He looked reserved and slightly embarrassed, but smiled nonetheless.

"Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse," said Annie. "There it is."


Thai Chicken Soup

Here it is...long awaited by some of you WHO HAD BETTER BE READING THIS, *ahem*: my Thai Chicken soup. I adapted this recipe many years ago from one of those crapbag cookbooks you get in the entryway of Borders or Barnes and Noble for like $5.99. But it evolved into one of the best soups ever, according to quite a few friends. One time my friend P.J. (now the proprietor of  Pure Wine Cafe in Ellicott City, MD) ate some soup at my house, left, and then promptly called from his cell phone to say he was on his way back because he needed more soup. Another friend once proposed bathing in it. And even my daughter Georgia likes it, and i'm pretty sure she's fully anorexic at age two--she eats NOTHING, ever. (She's anticipating her illustrious and successful modeling career with Victoria's Secret.) It's way good--most likely totally inauthentic, but completely delicious. Here are the ingredients:

*Split chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in--about three big ones should come in a package...for those of you who are Thomas Keller and are using smaller, just-killed-in-your-restaurant-garden, organic chickens, maybe use four breasts. And if you are some sort of fitness-y guy, you can use skinless boneless breasts, which are easier to handle and have less fat, but you'll lose the flavor from the bones and skin. Mmmmm, bone flavor.
*1 large or 2 small onions, diced finely
*1 small Jalepeno, diced finely--optional
*Chicken stock, enough to almost cover the meat (maybe 5 cups-ish?)
*a stalk of lemongrass, if you have it--optional
* 2 cans coconut milk
*1 can diced tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes
*Curry paste--i use about 5 Tablespoons of Madras paste and 3 of Tikki Masala paste. You can get these at Whole Paycheck, or, to my surprise, Target!
*1-2 Tablespoons of fish sauce, if you have it. Optional
*2/3 to 3/4 cup peanut butter
*1-2 Tablespoons honey
*vermicelli rice noodles, prepared separately according to package directions
* cilantro and limes, for garnish

As with any soup, begin by sauteing the diced onions until they're translucent. Then add the chicken breasts, skin side down, and sear them till golden brown. Flip them over and do it again. Then add the stock and tomatoes to cover, and the lemongrass stalk (whole)and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest until it's cool enough to handle, and skin and shred it. Discard the skin and bones (duh). Add the curries, coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, honey, and some of the cilantro if you like, and stir and simmer for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Add the shredded chicken back in, and you're done! If you are serving the entire pot of soup at once, go ahead and add the cooked rice noodles in with the soup. Other wise, spoon the soup over the noodles in individual portions to save the noodles from absorbing too much liquid and becoming a soggy mess. Garnish and enjoy!

*Note for veggies/vegans: I haven't tried this, but you could probably alter this with delicious success using vegetable stock and summer squash in lieu of meat. Try it and let me know...


In the Kitchen with Fidel

Last weekend, my husband, our youngest son Kingston and i had the pleasure of spending a little slice of time in Philly with some of our besties, Kelly and Marcos, and their daughter Camila. Some of you may be more familiar with Marcos's alter ego, Fidel Gastro. The man has an enviably amazing blog and the kitchen skillz to match, as were showcased in the form of pork and cheese last Sunday.

The evening began with our arrival and some Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPAs we brought along. These amazing beers really got things going for my husband and Fidel, both of whom donned full Eagles regalia for the ensuing game against the Redskins (who might, i suppose, be "my" team, if i gave even half a shit about football. All i know is that the Eagles now have that sicko dog-eater on their team, which is hardly forgivable...but i digress...). Thus began a showcasing of a little something new for Fidel, dare i say for all of us: sporting equipment in the form of webbed shoes. These new-fangled Vibram Five Fingers (Um, toes? Thanks.) are evidently all the rage--and they are pretty cool, but i did notice some dipshit in a coffee shop the other day (not running) wearing them, and i really wanted to punch him in the nuts, if in fact he even had nuts. But Fidel runs the way any self-respecting foodie runs, and the way i would if i ever ran, EVER: with a beer in hand.

After filming this clip, i tried on the Vibrams, and although they were comfortable for the most part, the fabric and rubber between my toes gave me a sensation i can only describe as "violating". Like a greasy Chinaman to the foot prostitute, mayhaps...(too much?)

On to the food. I observed Fidel as he stirred, nay, caressed his bechamel to a creamy perfection before adding four kinds of cheese and some Barilla Plus elbows to the mix. He then topped it with Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and pats of Rich Creamery Butter:
Chef Gastro

It was then baked to a golden perfection:
 Meanwhile, in the CrockPot was more delicious alchemy, this one involving pork [insert cheering noises]. I am sorry to say that i have no idea what he did to those sweet pig cheeks, but the sandwich that they became was one of the best i have ever had, f'real! The slaw was something super special, evidently obtained at some magical Philadelphia farmer's market run by Slaw Gods, and the buns (the bread ones, not the pig ones) came from the bakery up the street from their house. They live in an awesome niche of Philly where everything quaint a whitey could want is in cobblestoney walking distance--enviable for sure, especially to we Salt Lakers--Salt Lake is somewhere between 99% and 100% void of quaintness. Here is the end result (note the side of pork with the pork):

NOM NOM NOM Oh God, need more...

It was an absolute delight--party in our mouths, errybody invited, etc. Kingston and Camila were pretty stoked on it as well. Perhaps they will serve this meal at their arranged marriage. (Kelly has done Marcos the kindness of birthing one of the most exquisite baby girls on Earth, and i don't just throw that kind of compliment around lightly--i do, after all, have some of the cutest fucking kids on the planet myself...)
Dave with the betrothed

Later, the night got a bit nuttier for the guys, and involved the questionable synthesis of "Amp" energy drinks with vodka, and several Newport cigarettes (both men are what i would define as "negrophiles", having spent at least their entire high school careers in a desperate attempt to be black via graffiti art and hip-hop music in the middle of Utah...i assume the Newports are just a lingering flicker of hope in this department...as is, perhaps, Dave's marriage to me--a thinly veiled attempt at producing offspring that are quasi-negro that has thus far been thwarted by his blindingly white gene pool...). Dave ended up passed out using a baby chair for a pillow despite the Amp usage, but this is generally as wild as it gets for us parents. A lovely night, spent with lovely and extremely hospitable friends whom we love dearly. Thanks, you guys! Buen provecho.


Magic Beans

'Aneurysm' is a fitting alternate title to this one. Those of you out there with pre-adolescent boys may be the only folks to truly understand the chaos involved here, but i will attempt an outline of the three hour panic attack that is the 10-year-old birthday party.

But first let me say that i cannot even believe that my son is ten whole years old. It truly brings tears to my eyes when i recall a time that he couldn't even talk or walk, or holding him in my arms when his whole body would fit and not just his head and shoulders. He is such a darling, sweet, compassionate young man, despite some upheaval in his young life due to his father's and my tumultuous relationship and subsequent separation. He is loved dearly by his siblings and his friends, and I am truly lucky to have him as my son. It is both joyful and heart-wrenching to see him growing up so fast. I can't believe this was the same Beau:


(*Sniff*) Anyhow... It began with a puker and ended 24 hours later with a straggler:

The night before the party, a mother of a new student in Beau's class first requested that i bring her son home with me from school for the party, but not without meeting me first. Um, ok. Although i do have that pesky penchant for raping little boys whose mothers ask for a ride for them, i am usually able to refrain if i have a Meet N' Chat with the fam beforehand. "Can i meet you before school tomorrow?" she asked via email. No. "Can i meet you after school tomorrow?" Um, no, that also sounds like a complete fucking pain in my ass, but thanks anyhow. "Ok, how about i stop by at 7 o'clock, which is right around bedtime, and is sure to annoy the shit out of you and interrupt the schedule of your exhausted toddlers?" Yyyeah, ok. Fine.

She came by, and was perfectly nice, albeit "worried about spelling" with the new 4th grade teacher. I only wish i had time to worry about, and subsequently discuss, my spelling worries with other parents. We chatted for a bit, and her son and Beau played, and everything seemed just fine. I walked her out to the driveway to her car, and as we were finishing up our chat and her boy was by her car, he began interrupting with "MOM! LET'S GO! I WANNA GO-O-O-O!" Now, although this is of course rather obnoxious, i think it's fairly normal for a boy of nine at 8:30PM on a school night who is listening to a couple of ladies talk....but then....he just started PUKING. And not like finger-down-the-throat spitting up--violently vomiting, like, QUARTS of nasty-ass nasties into the gutter of our street. "It's OK," said mom nonchalantly, "he does this all the time. He's doing it on purpose." I could only stare at her, then at him, and then the mass amounts of bile spewing from his little red head. "He and his brother both vomit on command--SO annoying, right?" Ummmm...RIGHT. Wow. I could only stand there and stare, dumbfounded, as she hurried to the car and left with him.

Forward to the party the next afternoon...afterward i felt like i'd been hit by a truck. For rizzle. Within less than TEN MINUTES of the beginning of the party, the boys had broken a door in our house. And our house was built in the 1890s, so it wasn't some particleboard shit. Evidently something like 9 of them had pushed their collective, hyperactive weight against it till it collapsed off the hinges and fell into the hallway. Unreal. And this was before a possibly radioactive cake, M&M's, and root beer floats.
Not found in nature...

Thankfully, exactly on time, Magical Mormon Timothy showed up. Beau (or Beans, as we call him), is way into magic this year, so i had the idea to hire a magician as a birthday surprise. Charlie, his biological father, was in town for the birthday, and did the leg work of hiring Timothy (NOT Tim, make no mistake), who was just about as Mormon as they come. In fact, i'm fairly certain this man was the direct reincarnation of Joseph Smith, even though he didn't use a magic hat except maybe once.

Almost every kid from Beau's class showed up, including all the girls and Deng Deng, the super cute, super African kid who never comes to events outside of school. That is his actual name, by the way. I didn't believe Beau when he first told me this, but it's true. Deng has three siblings who share his last name, but evidently with Deng they just said, "Fuck it. Deng Deng."

--"That's a lot of Deng kids", said my husband when we found out about the multitudinous Dengs.

--"That's a lot of Deng money", i replied, referencing the cost of the Catholic school they attend.

Deng Deng was evidently part of MMT's act, because i swear to God his little purple body totally vanished mid-show. Like, i was sitting there the entire time watching, and the show was within eyeshot of the front door, and i swear his African ass just disappeared into thin air. My natural assumption was that MMT is in cahoots with Brangelina, and he just evaporates attractive little Africans as part of his show and then has them delivered to them for large sums of money.

Then, halfway through the Magical Mystery Tour, Magical Mormon Timothy suddenly turned that shit into a gay rave when he shed his oversize red button-down, stripped right down to his Underarmour and levitated my firstborn. It was fetching RADICAL. This was one magical Mormon motherfucker. This guy even had frosted hair, ok? It was amazingness, and worth every penny (an asston of pennies, to be more accurate). Here's a clip:

Then the straggler. Poor Jason. He was dropped off by what may have been his teenage sister at 3:30, two hours after the party had begun. She kindly asked what time the party ended, and i told her that there was only a half hour left--it ended at 4PM. She spoke perfect English, unlike the rest of his family who are (shocker!) Mexican, so i am certain she understood what i said. We called his parents twice during the two and a half hours he was forced to overstay, and when his dad showed up, he peeked his little swarthy head out the window and said, "Ees Jason here?"
--"Yeah, he's been here since the party ended. At four," i tersely responded.
--"Jason? He my son, he ees here now?"
--"FOUR," i said again, and held up 'that many' fingers as Charlie sharply nudged me in the ribs in a desperate attempt to thwart a melee between my feisty Halfrican (possibly Quarter Rican?) ass and some Mexithug parent.

To top it off beautifully, this was the straggler's gift. Although i can feel the flames of hell licking at my feet, i just cannot stop laughing at this. It seems fairly obvious that they simply took a picture of their negligent family out of the frame and gave it to Beau in what was pretty much identical to the brown bags that Spicy Chicken Crunchwraps come in at Taco Bell:

"A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone A Man of Vision Sees Potential in Everyone..."
 I am also fairly certain, and hopeful, that they were unable to read this frame, and therefore are unable to read my blog. (God knows i'm thankful my Mexican jumping bean of a brother-in-law can't read, not even in Spanish.) All that said, Beau loved that gift in particular--calling it "poetic", and Jason is a doll--very polite and easy to be around...i just felt so sorry for him. Plus, we were crunched for time, as we had to get to Dave's parents' house to celebrate with the negligent Mexican members of our own family, and it was getting late...