Saturday, August 29, 2009

Coming Soon .... The Chronicles of Babbleville

Holy Hell, people! I cannot believe that come Monday, the kids will be back to school. Well, not entirely. Sage is 18 now and still "exploring" her opportunities. Translation: wasting the day away on some social networking site and then making brownies after I go to bed. And well, Boss Lady was born after some lame-ass cutoff date so she has to do another full year of pre-school which is only 2.5 hours long and so beneath her superior intelligence that it's almost an insult but we'll take it anyway.

Alright, so maybe it's just The Boy that's going back to school full-time ... but I Can't Wait!

Here's one reason:

I've been holding back from you, dear readers. What with suffering through a summer of outdoor activities and tending to little things like feeding the kids three squares a day and making sure my internal cauldron of craziness does not boil over, I have neglected to describe in any kind of detail the outrageous cast of characters on and around my block. This neighborhood is some kind of wonderful; a fantastic hybrid of Sesame Street meets Cops meets those old school, late night movies on Showtime that us kids were never supposed to watch but we so did.

These ladies deserve to be fleshed out properly and now that I have an extra 2.5 hours in my day, my goal is to do just that. But first, I have to come up with a pseudo-name for our tiny little corner of the planet.

I think I'll dub thee Babbleville.

Unless ya'll got something better. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thin Mints, Chinese Orphans and The Boy

Things that are thin:

 * The MacBook Air

 * Karen Carpenter

 * My Patience

 * Thin Mints

 * The Line Between Love and Hate

 * Chinese Orphans

 * My son, The Boy

I know The Boy is only six, but I'm pretty sure he has an eating disorder. Like any concerned, highly strung and sometimes intoxicated mother, I spent some time Googling toddler eating disorders and forced the pieces to fit my puzzle.

Pay attention people.  Here are some signs that your precious little lanky and angular first grader might have an eating disorder, too:

Does he/she wear big or baggy clothes?  Sure does. My son couldn't keep his pants on for nothin'. We could be in a room with 500 people and if the word Pants! was shouted, my son would be the first to wiggle his size 5's back to where they belong without skipping a beat.

Does he/she have an obsession with continuous exercise? Yes, in fact he does. His workout routine starts at 6:30 in the morning with cardio. This usually entails playing Wipeout in his bedroom and then running circles around his mother's bed, repeating the words Waffles, Waffles, Waffles. By 10:00 he's ready for the pool and will swim all day long if his mother lets him, which his mother doesn't because she has things to do too and is fed up with sweating her ass off in this Nevada heat which is clearly just an expression because her ass is just as big today as it was yesterday. Swimming is followed by skateboarding, biking and a little bit of downhill luge. Most days also include shadow boxing and some All-State worthy freestyle wrestling with his younger sister, Boss Lady. When it comes to exercising with his older sister, he prefers to lick his hand, smack her across some area of exposed skin and then run for his life. 

Visible food restrictions and self starvation?  Where do I start? The Boy eats PB & J but only without the J. He eats more pasta than Mario Batali, but only with butter or Alfredo sauce. No red sauce and no cheese and good God don't try to slip him a meatball. If he's forced to sit at the table while his sister has dessert, he might have an inch or two of chicken. No fish. No beef. No hot dogs. He prefers a bun with just ketchup. Might eat rice. Must have waffles in the morning. No eggs. Likes his cereal dry with a glass of milk on the side. Likes apples, hates melon. Big fan of chips, salsa and taco shells with no filling. Is repulsed be vegetables and all things green, except of course green Otter Pops.

What's a parent to do?

Well ... I've got that book, Deceptively Delicious, but with The Boy's all-day-every-day workout routine it's been hard scheduling time to steam, puree and jar vegetables that I'm supposed to sneak into his meals. Mama has to have time to chill, uncork and pour Chardonnay too, you know. 

I am however making the switch to whole wheat pasta. Hold your applause.

The Boy, shown here in a display of deep shame.
It is clear that the stigma of being the only six year old in his entire school to be diagnosed with the rare Possibly-Maybe-Probably-Not-Eating Disorder is a great burden to carry.
That, or he is passed out from too many Skittles.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seltar Lives

Dear Seltar,

It was one year ago. I don't know exactly how your morning went but I'm sure it was the same as the day before. You were, afterall, a man of routine. I'm sure the alarm went off at 5:30 and you didn't hit the snooze button. Preparing for your shower, you closed the door from our bedroom to the bathroom because you knew that I was a light sleeper. That I'd wake up at the slightest sound, at the most meager sliver of light. I love you for that.

I'm sure you kissed me on the forehead. I'm sure you checked on the kids before you walked downstairs and poured your coffee that had been pre-set the night before. Coffee so thick you could stand a fork in it. You watched the morning news -- not local news, San Francisco news. With coffee and lunch in hand, I'm sure you left home before you had to and got to work at least thirty minutes early. You went early because you liked to talk shop with your new co-workers and loved, loved, loved being an electrician.

The only thing different was that you never came home, Sel. You never came home. I could have spent a lifetime sitting on the floor in front of your closet just holding your sweatshirt to my face, trying to inhale every last memory. But you would never respect that. Maybe for a day, but not for a lifetime. Though I never heard you leave that morning and never felt you leave this Earth ... you would tell me to get up. Be a soldier. So I did.

Seltar, I love and miss you more than these simple words can express. I loved you at your worst and in turn you loved me at mine. But beyond you and I and our family, I learned that you were so admired, so respected, so loved but so many. How did you retain such long lasting relationships? So unlike me. So very unlike me.

Sel, I hope our kids inherit this quality from you. I hope that they can be apart from friends for a year or even longer and still be held so close to their hearts. I hope their friends are also their family as yours so clearly are. I hope that they are selfless like you, adventurous like you and are a friend like you.

All my love,


Monday, August 10, 2009

My Name Is Gina and I'm Angry, Very Angry

Angry. That's how I started my day yesterday.

Angry that I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep.

Angry that my niece just spent her 9th birthday in foster care.

Angry that although my mother, Boss Lady and I were taking a trip to go see her that morning, it would mean six hours in a car and only two hours with my niece.

Hold on, it gets better ......

Angry that as I opened my oldest daughter's room to let her know we were all leaving, I find her fast asleep with her 22-year-old-father-of-two-boyfriend right beside her. Sure he was fully clothed but does that really change things for me? Nope.

This was all before 7:30AM! And people wonder why I tend to hug my knees and rock back and forth to the rhythm of my own incoherent babbling.

But wait, there's more ......

Fueled by Starbucks, the three of us set out on this journey to visit my niece. Directions in hand, we successfully navigate our way from Sparks, Nevada to French Camp, California. We arrive safely and 45 minutes early to the compound known as San Joaquin Hospital. I say "compound" because it's in the middle of nowhere and the place looks and feels like a military base. All the buildings surrounding the hospital look like bunkers and barracks. All the streets are layed out in a circular pattern; no street names; no visible addresses. We ask for directions to the Childrens Shelter from three different people and we of course are sent off in three different directions. After circling like idiots for half an hour we finally find the place. The two hours with my niece flies by and before you know it, it's time to go. 

It's 2:00 and although we have yet to eat anything, we decide to wait another hour until we reach our next destination - Ikea. My idea is to relieve myself of some of the day's earlier stresses by throwing my money away on things like kitchen thingys I don't need and frames that may never be filled with pictures. Fun, right? Wrong. Wrong because we get lost and lost and lost. Wrong because I start to notice the car smoking. And now I'm angry again. Angry because the coolant cap is nowhere to be found and what coolant we did have is now running like a neon green river from beneath the car. Angry because it's about 95 degrees outside yet we have to drive with the heater on blast to keep the flippin' car from over heating. Angry because Ikea is so close I can smell the shrink wrap yet we can't go because it's now 3:30 and Boss Lady is about to pass out from malnourishment and I'm about to punch the asshole who just asked me if I'm aware we're leaking coolant as I stand ankle deep in it. 

With our legs nearly blistered from the damned heater and our flip flops melted to our feet, we crawl over mountains at 55 miles per hour. Home at 7:30. In bed at 11:45 because the sun never goes down in goddamned Nevada so the kids play outside all night until I peel them off of their bikes and toss them in bed, kicking screaming and smelling like dirty sidewalk.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Don't Ever Shine Your Light In the Shit Hole

And so our short lived yet fun filled camping trip is over. Sob.

After spending three weeks making lists that would prepare me for this "simple" three day excursion into the wild, another two days putting those lists into action and one afternoon (the actual afternoon that we were scheduled to leave) putting two new tires on the jeep, me and my fellow campers were ready to hit some kind of dusty trail.

The cast of characters:

G aka Me, Mom, Gina. I'll also answer to Dirty Little Slut and She Who Is Awesome.
Camping Skill Level:  Moderate
Other Qualities: Camp Out Culinary Arts and Fireside Mixology

Uncle Johnny - aka Johnny Boy, JB, He Who Has Much Luck
Camping Skill Level: Somewhere between Eagle Scout and the Discovery Channel
Other Qualifications: Enlarged sense of humor and almost 2'000 songs on his IPod 

Uncle Will - aka Puppet Boy, Geek Squad
Camping Skill Level: Moderate (just because his Dad ran over himself during a camping trip doesn't make Will an idiot, too.)
Other Qualities: Woodland Creature Whisperer

Mark - aka John, My Gay, Harlowe's Boy, My Brother's Boyfriend
Camping Skill Level: Absolutely none, zero, zilch
Other Qualities: Can drink 24 beers in an afternoon and likes to dance after doing such

The Boy - aka my son Maximus, Thing One, Frick, Clyde
Camping Skill Level: One trip under his belt and likes to take a piss in the great wide open
Other Qualifications:  He's a Sevedge boy who loves fire 

Devil Girl - aka my daughter Harlowe, Thing Two, Frack, Bonnie
Camping Skill Level: One trip under her belt as well as one dramatic fall into an icy river while fishing
Other Qualifications: She's a Sevedge girl who can bench press her own weight

Tents and sleeping bags: check. Random camping supplies such as a wine opener: check. Three days worth of nourishment and spirits: double check. On we go.... headed just past the Nevada State Line and into Cali Country.

Day One: Set up camp and within five minutes are hit with a slight thunderstorm and some rain. Perfect opportunity to take a hike to an empty lake bed and scout out where to pitch our shade tent and cooler the next day, right? Right. Also of note: the campers right across from us could have been filming an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. Bare chested twenty something metro-sexual boys passing a football to each other while swigging lite beer and rocking scarves. Yeah. Later that evening My Gay decides to shine his flashlight down into the deep and unforgiving cavern known as the Men's Vaulted Toilet. He is still visibly shaken from that experience. 

Day Two: Packed like mules, we make the quarter mile hike to Stampede Reservoir. We are four adults and two children strapped from tip to toe with folding chairs, a folding table, a shade tent, two inflatable rafts (already inflated), water toys, land toys, beach towels, cameras, music and maybe 50 pounds of beer, wine and Capri Suns all packed into one fabulous cube-shaped cooler on wheels. Later that day and back at camp, we had a very large deer walk right through our camp site and up to our tables (thanks Woodland Creature Whisperer). Max turned into some kind of Uber-Fire-God once the camp fire was lit. He kept doing some kind of primitive tribal dance while dressed in his Wall-E pajamas. It was kind of disturbing yet wildly entertaining and he also developed a fondness for the local water spiket. Harlowe built rock formations and architectural phenomenons out of river rock and twigs. Day Two also included three adults (one sober, the other two not so much), attempting to scare the shit out of first-time camper Mark by jumping out of the woods half-naked wearing a Chewbacca mask while being filmed by yours truly. The night ended with much bigger thunderstorms, lots of rain and four shots of Wild Turkey in honor of Seltar.

This trip was so worth the dust, the dirt and the peeing in the wild at 3:00 in the morning that we will be doing it all over again come September. But the next time ..... I'm taking along my saucy neighbor and her three year old son. Bring on Chewbacca!