Friday, November 30, 2012

A Disturbing Tale of Poo

WARNING:  Don't read this.  No really.  I'm not using hyperbole in that title, this really is a disturbing tale.  And the poo, my god the poo.  Poo plays a major role.  In fact, poo is the main character in this tale.  Poo is the Hamlet of this tale, I'm serious.

Okay fine.....

It was a dark and stormy Friday night.  Erin was out, leaving me home alone with the boys.  Terrible dads are useless in this kind of situation, but they don't read this blog so it's okay to call them terrible...and dumb.  Awesome dads know that the rules for bachelor nights are simple: There will be a group shower before the pizza is delivered, followed by movies, then sleeping (not necessarily in bed).

I made the call and got right down to business.  We were in and out of the shower in record time which was a good thing because while I'd gotten Finn diapered and jammied, and was just finishing the Duck Vader Imperial March with Liam, there was the knock at the door.  Normally it would have been a time of celebration but I was wearing a towel and I didn't know our pizza delivery guy that well.

I dropped Finn and dove into to the closet where there were no clothes because it was Friday.  I managed to put on just enough to not appear too creepy and went to answer the door.

Me: Hi!!

Kid:  Sup!  No extra cheese or chili flakes right bro?

Me:  (Gasp! He remembers me!!)  No, we're, good......we're cool. (We were neither of those things)

While I was signing for the tip on our center island, Finn crawled up to greet my young bro-friend.  "Hey lil' dude" he said.  I gave him his receipt and noticed he was smiling at Finn, but in a weird way.  I'd creeped him out obviously.  Damn it!  I should have put on pants.

I shut the door and looked down at Finn where I immediately discovered that, no, it wasn't me that had made for the awkward 'goodbye'.  Finn's entire face was covered in shit.

It took a minute for it to register...., god, no.  Brown everywhere.  So much brown.  It's around his mouth.  Why is it around his mouth?  Oh my god his hands.  It can't be.  How can it be?  The bathroom!  LIAM!!!

Two steps to the bathroom and I found that Liam was not there.  He had wisely retreated to the safety of the sofa cushions.  What greeted my viking "FFFUUUUUUCCKKK!!!!!" scream was an impossible volume of still-very-warm preschooler pudding covering the entire area between the big boy potty and the adult potty.  Of course.

It was everywhere.  How, in that small window of time, Liam had managed to unleash this fury, followed by Finn apparently break-dancing in it, was a mystery I didn't contemplate until much later.  I had to act fast.  I didn't know where to begin but I knew sacrifices would have to be made.  I immediately gave up both hands and one arm by picking Finn up and peeling his shirt off over his head, trying to collect all that I could from his face, while keeping his hands away from his mouth.

All I could think was, "There's so much on his FACE!  Had he eaten it? WHY WOULD HE EAT IT!?? What do I do?  Do I induce vomiting?  Do I have to induce it?  Chase it with milk?  Oh god this is disgusting.  How is he smiling?  Oh GOD his TEETH!!"

Everything he had touched along his crawl from the bathroom and the front door was decimated.  I stripped him, but everything his clothes touched became tainted.  Everything I used to clean him became tainted and everything I used to clean the things I used to clean him became tainted.  All I could do was diminish the degree of filth that had struck the house by basically spreading it to every cloth, every surface, and every major appliance in the house until the mess was thinned out, but never gone.

By the time I was done the pizza was cold, but that was a moot point.  Well, for me it was.  Liam gladly ate his share having made plenty of room for it, and Finn had twice as much as Liam which was either a good sign or kind of troubling.  I haven't decided yet.

I never punished Liam for his crime.  When I found him tucked into the couch looking guilty I just cleaned him up along with the sofa cushions.  All the potty training books say to never punish or shame your kids when they have accidents because it could be counterproductive.  Of course it wasn't so much of an "accident" as an act of terrorism, but whatever.  I didn't want to take any chances.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chopped Liver

Erin is amazing with Liam.  She makes him laugh, reads him stories, takes him to the park, makes him both types of foods he loves, and generally dotes on him like any loving beautiful angelic young mother would.  Why he loves me so much more than her is a mystery.

I don't mean to sound insensitive.  I used to downplay his obvious preference by insisting that my lap is just warmer, or that he's not really hugging me he's trying to strangle me, or that he wants kisses only from me because he's trying to make me sick, but now it's just too obvious.

A few days ago I had to back the minivan out of the driveway, turn it around, and back it in.  While I was doing this Liam was doing his impression of Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice.  Erin could barely hold onto him so I quickly parked and hopped out to assure him I was staying.  Erin grabbed the keys and walked toward the car just to test her theory.  "Bye bye mommy!" Liam said, waving cheerfully through drying tears.

Most mornings I'm gone long before he wakes up which he can manage, but if he sees me leave he's inconsolable (I shouldn't be smiling after typing that).  If I pop out to the grocery store without doing my proper goodbyes I'll come home 15 minutes later to his red streaky face and an exasperated wife.

Like I said, Erin is a perfect mom so it really isn't fair.  They say kids will go through phases where they prefer one parent for awhile and then it switches.  I'm just hoping for a major Oedipal complex.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Do You Think?

I have the joy and privilege of working in the retail segment of the service industry. While I love what I do and feel that I pretty much have the best community of customers in the world, there's one that occasionally comes in, and I almost can't muster the energy it takes to interact with her.

I own a children's used clothing (and all kinds of other things) store. This customer has an ever-increasing amount of children, so you'd think we'd be like two peas in a pod. Not so much. Rather than bore you with all of the details of all the reasons why, I'll present to you the top 5 actions that have brought me to likening the sound of her voice to that of nails on a chalkboard. (Incidentally, she doesn't seem to realize that I recognize her voice, so never identifies herself when she calls to ask me ridiculous things, perhaps in hopes of remaining anonymous. Doesn't work.)

1. Sock Obsession: Every time this woman has another baby, she loads up on socks. She will hem and haw and whine about being broke, then bring a pile of about 30 pairs of socks up to the counter. She will then go through each pair, deciding not to take several of them, because she's broke. Then she changes her mind and buys them all.

2. Garage Sale Comparisons: Occasionally I will get a phone call during garage sale season, and it will be her.  "Hi, um, I'm at a garage sale right now, and I'm looking at this stroller. It's a Graco, that's a good brand, right?" "Well, people seem to like it." "Okay, good. Now, this one, it's got this...kind of a blue, plaid pattern, with a giraffe on it. Do you think that would be cute for my baby? I have a little boy." "Well, I really don't know. I suppose it's a matter of whether you like it or not." "Right...right...but would you - I mean, what do you think? Is thirty dollars a good price for this stroller?" "I really couldn't say, since I can't see what kind of condition it's in, sorry." And so on.

3. Closing Time: She often comes in about 20 minutes before my store closes, carrying at least two bags of clothes that she wants me to go through in hopes of getting store credit. She usually has her second-oldest (I think) child with her. This girl is a quiet, deer-eyed kid with terribly tangled hair and a spooky presence. She wanders around quietly while I go through the bags and bags of crumpled shirts and single socks. They have a routine. "No honey bear, mama can't afford that, I'm sorry! Let's see if the nice lady needs any of these old things, maybe then we can get just one thing, maybe some socks for your brother, but mama can't...Oh, well look at that, that is really cute. Oh shoot, go try it on, we'll see, but no promises! And hurry, this nice lady has to go home, she's got kids of her own to get to...oh, wow sugar booger, that looks so cute on you, ohhhhhh, ohhhh, shoot. It depends on if the lady can use any of this stuff we brought in!" Then to me "gosh it's so hard to say no, she's so good. I just can't afford to be buying her things all the time, you know?" Meanwhile I'm going through her clothes, most of which still have the telltale color-coded Goodwill tag on them, and am rejecting most of them because they have stains, tears, are off-season, or are just plain hideous. Once I've put everything that I don't want back into her bags, she then pulls things out at random and says "oh, you didn't want this? It's so cute. I just..." I show her a rather large stain on the collar. "Oh, shoot, I didn't see that...gosh...well, yeah, sorry, okay. And not this? This is so cute, I thought for sure you'd really like this one." This goes on and on. Eventually she ends up buying most of what her daughter asks her for, mumbling about the gas bill under her breath.

4. Will This Fit?: When her kids aren't with her, she asks me if I think things will fit them. She'll bring up a pair of corduroy pants and say "do you think this would fit my little sugar bear? Her legs are kind of long...what do you think?" I'll patiently (I think) say that it's really impossible for me to tell, having not seen her daughter in several months. I advise that she, as the mother, might be better informed to make that call. Then she'll bring over a winter hat. "Do you think this will fit my baby? It says it's 6-12 months, and he's 9 months now...hmm...I don't know, what do you think?" I repeat the above. We do this several times. Each time she says, "yeah, I suppose you're's just that his/her head/legs/feet/arms is/are so big/small/long/short...hmmm....I just don't know...sorry, sorry, I'll get out of here, I know you gotta go." She'll put everything back. She'll pick something up again. "I'll just get this one thing, it's just too darn cute to pass up. Gosh I really shouldn't be spending any money right now, oh man...." pulls out crumpled bills from every available pocket she can find, making a pile on the counter, feigning an attempt to smooth them out before handing them to me.

5. Medical Advice: One day I got a call from this customer. I think it was about two kids ago. "Hi, um, lemme ask you something, do you have a minute?" "Ummm, sure, I have just a minute..." "Okay great. So I just need your advice on something. I just came from my doctor, I'm actually in the parking lot, see I'm pregnant, and he says he thinks I should get a D & C" "I don't know what that is." "Oh, well, I mean, it's, you know, it's an abortion. Basically." "Uh huh..." "Yeah, so, I don't know, what do you think? Do you think I should do it?" "Well, wow, yeah, I'm not at all qualified to give you advice on this, sorry." "Sure, sure...but, I mean, if it was you...what do you think?" "If your doctor is suggesting it then my guess would be there's a reason, but I can't tell you one way or the other." "Hmmm, yeah, gosh I just don't know. What would you do?"


I think we all know what my answer to that question is.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hop on Pop

Erin left me.

I'm not too heart broken since she'll be back tonight.  She's in Vegas again for "work".

Me:  So...what new developments in the world of tooth care, that apparently can only be discussed in the Nevada desert, will you be learning about this weekend?

Erin:  Just some continuing education stuff that you wouldn't understand.  (That's not really what she said.  She actually told me but I can't remember what it was because I didn't understand)

Me:  Then why are you packing snake-skin pants?

Erin:  We're going to the conference in group costume.

Me:  Of course.

Erin:  We're going to be an 80's hair band.

Me:  That sounds true.

Erin:  It is!  We're calling ourselves Oral Six and the Ejectors

Me:  Right!  Well, try not to come home with anything you can't get rid of.  Love you!

Normally I'd ease my grief by living off of delivered pizza while she's away but we're broke this week so that's out.  We're so broke in fact I've had to spend the weekend holed up since it's too cold and wet for the park and all the good indoor stuff requires money.  This means I've had to find creative ways to entertain two young energetic boys at home all day.  Luckily I made a discovery.

The boys are in their lion cub phase where all they want to do is wrestle 24/7.  They're about the same weight class so it's an even fight.  Nonetheless things got out of hand this weekend often enough that I found myself having to intervene so much I couldn't really do anything else.  I finally just gave in and laid on the floor next to them in the living room.  They immediately took this as the cue to pounce on me and continue their match, feverishly entertained now with me in the mix.

This was perfect!  Not only was this free, but we were all interacting, they were burning off some energy, and they were having a blast without seriously injuring one another.  The only problem was I kept spilling my wine.  My solution to use a sippy cup with a built in straw had its pros and cons.  I stopped spilling but I couldn't set the thing down because Liam and Finn assumed it was for them.  This meant I had to finish it fast (not really a problem).  Also, drinking red wine through a straw means less tooth staining (I learned that in the Nevada desert).

Hopefully they're just as enthusiastic about hopping on mom.  Erin's going to need some good stomps on the head after her exhausting three-day bender conference.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Dark Side

About every four months I completely lose my shit.  The business of life gets to me and I go postal...sort of.  My "going postal" looks more like I'm just on a major fart-hold while trying to remember the lyrics to the Twelve Days of Christmas.  My turmoil is largely internal.

"Uuuse the forceful language, Mike"
There are a few ways in which my rage manifests itself externally though.  For example I was grumpy and impatient enough yesterday to illicit, I'm sure, a few disparaging comments from the polling place volunteers at the The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.  If there was some shit-talking, I hope they know that they don't have to pray to Luther for forgiveness.  He would have called me a "dickhead" too.  

And of course there's Erin.  Poor, sweet Erin.  The spouse always get the brunt of the bad mood, don't they?.  I'm sorry about that babe.  Love you!  

The good news is what comes from this is a drive to change things for the better, TODAY!!  I find that this stress and frustration that's been building, probably for weeks, fuels within me a sudden and uncharacteristic urge to grab life by the pants, yank down as hard as I can, and point and laugh until I pee myself.  Metaphorically.

It's kind of like in Return of the Jedi when Lando Calrissian flies into the Death Star's core to blow up its reactor and then has to outrun the explosion.  There's a moment right at the end where he's shooting down the tunnel and he's completely overrun but manages to burst out in a big fiery explodey ball of flames and shoots out into space going "Yaahooooo!!" to that alien that looks a little too much like Dumb Donald from Fat Albert.  It's just like that.


I'd had it!  So today I made a list of things that have been stressing me out that I can resolve on my lunch break.  The first thing I did was call Buckle and DEMANDED to know what's going on with the pants I ordered back in August.  Next I called Healdsburg Hospital and DEMANDED a detailed receipt from a procedure I'd had last July so I could submit it to my HSA.  "No problem" they said.  Sure it's "no problem" when you can tell I mean business.  And finally I DEMANDED that the auto repair place let me know if there was any chance I could make an appointment for service sometime this month, maybe (I'm less confident with car stuff).

What a satisfying turn of events, and all brought about by months of suppressed frustration.  As Karma would have it though, things have already begun to turn around for the better.  I only wish poor Erin could have seen me go all "alpha-male".  The hotness of it might have undone some of the damage.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Deer Creek Gene

The first thing my first boyfriend Scott and I did together after we'd broken up and didn't speak for a while, then went to a Nirvana concert, then regrettably slept together one more time, then didn't speak for a while again, was go to the horse races. He seemed really into it, which surprised me because in the two years we were a couple he'd never once mentioned an interest in going to the track. I've since learned that people can change drastically after a difficult breakup.

Scott gave me a quick tutorial on how we would be betting, something involving choosing three different horses, and they had to all come in together. He told me which were the 'sure thing' horses, and instructed me to put my money on them. Ignoring all of the numbers in the program, I picked the two names I liked best out of the three he'd suggested, then chose a completely different third horse: Deer Creek Gene.

"You can't pick Deer Creek Gene," Scott told me. "Look at his stats! He's like, last. Don't do that one."

But I knew what I was doing. "Deer Creek Gene is totally going to win, shut up," I replied.

What Scott seemed to be forgetting was that my dad's name is Gene. And for every summer since I'd been 14, Gene had taken me and a few of my siblings to the Deer Creek Music Center in Indiana to see the Grateful Dead. Duh! Of course Deer Creek Gene would win! It was so obvious I almost got a headache from trying to explain all of this to Scott, while he in turn tried to explain the numbers, pointing to them over and over again and getting frustrated at me for refusing to acknowledge them.

When the race began, everyone stood and cheered for their picks. Only one person was rooting for poor Deer Creek Gene - me. Slowly people began throwing their tickets to the ground and sitting back down in a huff as their horses lagged too far behind to recover. My two 'sure thing' horses kept up a good pace while Deer Creek Gene stayed near the back. Scott elbowed me and laughed at my stupidity. I kept cheering on my choice.  As the horses began to round the last curve, one of the sure things began to slow down - several people groaned and shouted "Nooo!"

Do I even need to tell you what happened next? Deer Creek Gene, from six horses behind, started hauling ass and one by one, passed all of the other horses. The crowd, literally, went wild. Men were biting hats, women were pulling their hair, everyone was wide-eyed with insanity at the nerve of this animal with no reputable stats to speak of. I woo-hooed for Deer Creek Gene with all my might, jumping up and down, laughing and feeling mighty smug. The collective disappointment of the arena as my horse nosed his way into second place behind the second of my sure things was one of the most satisfying sounds I'd ever heard.

I didn't win big money that day, what with my other guaranteed winner turning out to be a burned-out loser. But what I didn't walk away with monetarily, I made up for in 'I Told You So' rights for years to come. It was a beautiful day at the races.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

I frickin' LOVE Halloween.  Always have.  It's the real reason I had kids, I'm not gonna lie.  So when Liam started tearing off his costume Tuesday night because he didn't want to wear it, I had a mild panic attack.

Somewhere along the line Liam got it into his head that Halloween had anything to do with him.  This is MY DAY.  It's the fourth time I've allowed him to join my Halloween fun, the lucky bastard.  The previous three years he's enjoyed me including him with the appropriate level of enthusiasm as you can see...

Year 1 :  Hotdog

Year 2 :  Dexter

Year 3 :  Hamburger
Year 3 we had to sacrifice creativity due to funding issues but as I promised in last year's post, the force was with the Bairdsmith family this year.

I took a couple of hours off work so I could wrestle Liam into his costume.  Erin and I pinky swore we wouldn't take a screaming tantrum as an answer.  As you can see from his "I wanted to go to Toshi station to pick up some power converters" face that he's not exactly digging it.  Sure it was a Wednesday, and we'd all spent the weekend violently ill, and it was pouring rain, but it's Halloween goddammit!  Fun will be had!!

We made it around three sides of the downtown Healdsburg square before retiring to 'The Wurst'.  I call that a huge success.