Friday, February 15, 2008

The Lies We Tell

I don’t know if anyone is following the Roger Clemens baseball trial, but in my opinion this is all sounding and feeling rather familiar. I’ll be honest and say upfront that before the Senate hearings, newspaper articles, and my husband’s explanations, I knew as much about Roger Clemens and his baseball legend-ness as my husband knows about Martha Stewart’s latest Good Thing. But after being informed and learning the basic in’s and out’s of the Mitchell Report and Baseball’s doping problem, I have to say, again, this is all sounding familiar. Anybody remember:
“I did not, at any time, have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.”

Over and over the phrase was repeated emphatically, hand gestures and fists and all.
And then there was the dress. That silly little thing that didn't get washed. Then the story changed. Suddenly, the man who ran our country wasn’t sure what fell under the “sexual relations” category. It’s an easy misunderstanding. Most 7th and 8th graders think oral sex isn’t really sex too.

This current issue is no different. Clemens emphatically denies ever using HGH. Even when his wife used. Even when his best friend not only used, but testified that Clemens admitted using. Even when the trainer says he injected Clemens. (Yes, the trainer is slimy. Yes, yes, yes.) And a dirty dress resurfaces in the form of used needles and gauze pads. So who to believe?

It’s no secret that people lie the most when they have the most to lose. Which I why I personally believe McNamee. He’s already a known liar. His reputation is already shot. He is already out of any decent job for the rest of his life. He has nothing more to lose by lying about Clemens. While Roger Clemens could still lose everything.

It’s not that I really care about losing a potential baseball icon. I really don’t. The bigger question is; When is it okay to lie, and when isn’t it? Is a lie considered only a direct and purposeful fabrication of the truth? Is a lie only a falsehood told with evil purpose? Is omitting details and leaving out parts of a story also considered lying? Is telling your grandmother that you love the brass statue of a sperm whale that she gave you for your birthday, the same as lying to your boss about why you were late to work? Or lying to your spouse about why your clothes smell like smoke? Or how much you paid for those new pants?

I fully admit that I lie to my children. There are times when the true answers to their questions are not something I want to go into. Or they are ready to hear. Questions like:
“Why can’t I use the public bathrooms by myself?”
“Why don’t we ever play with XXXX anymore? Can we call him?”
“How do you know you are never going to have another baby again?”
“You said you had to be married to have a baby, but a kid in my class, his sister is 17 and pregnant. How come?”
or, after mistakenly leaving on the news during the Bhutto assassination…)
“Why did that lady get shot in the head?”
or after seeing a trailer for a scary movie, “What if a robber breaks into our house?”

My obvious intention is not to mislead my children, but to save them (and me) from an explanation they are not capable of understanding on a deeper level.
Then of course there are the little lies I tell my children.
Kid: “Did you look at all the pictures I drew like you said you would?” (Yes, of course.)
Kid “Mom, were you listening to me sing my song?” (For the 100th time, yes.)
Kid: “Do you like the breakfast I made for you?” (The best I’ve ever eaten.)
And of course, Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

Yes, the kids still believe in these people. I have gone to great lengths (this year especially) to uphold the great lie of Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Especially good are the lies I tell about why the damned Tooth Fairy forgot to leave a dollar under the pillow. And of course you all know about how Santa fubar’d the pool table. Why do I go to such lengths to uphold these lies, when very soon my children will know the truth? Because honestly, there is something beautiful about believing that anything can happen. That all things are possible. That the Tooth Fairy doesn’t enter through a door, she “poofs in.” Because believing that there is a person out there whose entire purpose and job is to bring presents to girls and boys, in my mind offsets the knowledge that the local priest, coach, stranger in the bathroom and your best friend’s parent, could hurt you. So I lie.

I tell my children never to lie, that lying is wrong, and yet I lie to them. Does that make me a hypocrite? A female version of Roger Clemens? Are we wrapped in the same yarns deluding ourselves into thinking we are doing the right thing? As my kids grow up and their innocence is chipped at bit by bit, I will be able to divulge more truths to them. And it’s my hope and prayer that when they are older and facing the same shades of grey, they will know the difference between the lies you tell and the lies you never should.

Weigh in! Take the poll on the right. When is it okay to lie?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remains of the Day

No, this isn’t a summary about an aging Butler, unhappy with the choices he has made in his life. It is however, about the choices I have made in my life; a rather sad commentary on my current diet trends.
Have I mentioned what a time-suck eating and preparing meals is?
I fully understand my need to eat, out of ingrained habit if nothing else, but it’s really, really a pain in the ass.
No, I don’t have an eating disorder. That would require effort and caring, neither of which I really have about food. For me, food is just a means to an end; I must eat or I get a headache, become angry and then no one is happy.
So I’m reading along in my magazine, Parenting, (because I don’t have enough hands-on experience) and it says,

“56: Percentage of you who said you eat more healthfully now that you have kids. Good for you!” (March, 2008 pg. 66).

I, apparently, belong to the other 44% of people who do not eat more healthfully now that they have kids. In fact, my eating habits hit the toilet when my kids arrived. Why? You ask. What’s the matter with you anyway? You retort. Well, here is a glimpse of my meal-preparing-day.

6:30 a.m. Start the pot of coffee. 10 cups if my husband is home, 4 cups if I am solo.
7:00 Start to cut, dice, chop food for my 9 month old. Get out dry cheerios to purchase time with. Wake my other two children from bed.
7:15 Put baby in high chair. Cover her lap with a towel, tucked in around her sides and up under her bib in attempt to thwart meandering food. Put bib on top. Purchase 5 minutes with 15 cheerios. Pour cup of coffee.
7:20 Ask children what they want for breakfast. Give them each three choices. Older daughter cannot have dairy which eliminates cold-cereal stand-by. Eggo waffles, frozen bagel with butter, scrambled egg. Have two sips of coffee. Baby needs more cheerios.
7:30 Make scrambled egg for daughter after arguing that I am not making chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast again. Son decides to get out cold cereal (thank God); being 9 and a dairy eater has many advantages. Throw baby some more cheerios.
7:40 Daughter #1 eating eggs. Son, eating cereal. Suck down more coffee and sit next to baby. Flip her some cut, diced, chopped strawberries. Then bananas. Watch to make sure she doesn’t choke. Spoon baby applesauce into her face so she doesn’t starve, since only about 40% of cut, diced, chopped food makes it to her mouth. More coffee.
7:50 Still feeding baby. Daughter #1 is done. Still hungry. Grab strawberries from container, eat them unwashed. Son is on second bowl of cereal. Oops, he poured too much. Shrugs and continues.
8:00 Start the breakfast yell to clean up their mess. Daughter said she did. Son says he will. Extract said baby from too-large high chair. Dump 2 lbs of cut, diced, chopped food from lap-towel onto high chair tray. Wash face, hands, head, hair, nose orifice--the baby's, not mine. Suck down more coffee.
8:10 Ignore kitchen so the children will make the bus on time. Yell, demand, point at backpacks, shoes, homework, jackets, hats, in various stages of assembly and in various places on hallway floor.
8:25 Out the door to bus with three children in tow.
8:35 return from bus stop. Survey damage. Dirty egg pan on stove. Daughter #1’s plate on counter containing: half her (now cold) scrambled eggs, three strawberries, each with a bite missing, apparently they were too “smooshy.” Carton of milk on table. Box of cereal, on table. Bowl filled with soggy cheerios left on counter. Pile of assorted baby sundries in heap on high chair tray, remaining uneaten cut, diced, chopped food on paper plate on table. Pour more coffee. Add whiskey.
8:40 Baby crying. Make her 6 ounces of formula. Feed baby.
9:00 Baby sleeping, bottle sucked bone-dry. Lay her down for morning nap.
9:05 Enter kitchen. Decide on breakfast. Proceed to eat: four bites cold scrambled egg, three half-eaten smooshy strawberries. Sip of coffee. Work my way to cut, diced, chopped food bits from baby. Vacuum plate clean except for brown banana bits. Brown bananas are nasty. Dump soggy cereal into trash while cursing my son’s wasteful habits. Clean kitchen.
9:20 Heat remnants of cold coffee in microwave. Sit down and watch the rest of Ellen. I now have until 11:00 all to myself. The kitchen is clean. (Relatively) The house is quiet. I write. I blog. I work. I sit and stare. 11:00 is around the corner and I will have to repeat the aforementioned steps all again. (Substituting the coffee for iced tea or coke of course.) It’s enough to drive a person to wine way before 4:00.

So, is this what the other 44% of people are doing, who don’t “eat more healthfully now that they have kids?” I can guarantee that my meals—at least breakfast and lunch—are simply remains of the day and are not made for my enjoyment. My children get the first round, I get the second.

My mother is tsking right now, guaranteed. She’s always on me to eat better. “When you eat better, you feel better,” is her mantra. (Along with, “When you look good, you feel good” referring to being dressed and fixing my face and hair. Which, I might point out, you don't see listed in the above steps.)

I know what you’re thinking. “But it only takes a few minutes to make a bowl of oatmeal, or toast some bread.” True. But then there is assembly. And dirty-ing of dishes. And more clean-up, and vanishes another 20 minutes of my alone-quiet-do-what-I want time. I just can’t be bothered. I’m happy to eat if I can buy it. Or if it’s prepared for me. If I don’t have to clean up afterwards. Or if it’s from a bakery. (I’m a sucker for sugary carbs.)

And what are the 56% of those other people eating? You know, the Good Moms? Perhaps a soft boiled egg, cantaloupe slices, and some fresh squeezed orange juice. Maybe even an asparagus frittata, mixed berry fruit cup, and grapefruit juice on ice. Not me. I’m happy with hardened bagel crusts, dried peanut butter waffle carcass, and whatever fruit was too smooshy to swallow. If I’m lucky the kids will forget to drink their reconstituted orange juice, which will be slightly warm when I get to it. Lucky Me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jimmies vs. Johnnys

Those that know me know that my family originally hails from Arizona. We are transplants from the Desert Southwest and if you were to ask me which I prefer, I would respond with a resounding, “EAST COAST, ANY DAY!” I’m not a lover of three-digit days for months on end; not a fan of drought and dead plants; not one who enjoys being surrounded by asphalt and cement, white rock front yards, and stucco track homes. I prefer the four distinct seasons, rain, snow and beaches in the summer. I enjoy planting and gardening, and running barefoot through my green lawn in June. Honestly, I prefer almost everything about living in Massachusetts, with the exception of a few things. Language being one of them.

I remember when my husband and I first came to Massachusetts looking for a house back in 2000. When we checked into the hotel it was all we could do to keep from laughing out loud at the desk clerk who not only omitted all “huh ah’s” (her R’s), but added them back into words that didn’t require them; (sawrs=saw, worsh=wash). We went to our room and laughed hysterically at the accent, wondering how we would ever look people in the eye. Now of course, I don’t even heah the accent anymoah.

One thing I have not gotten used to, however, is the different words people use heah, versus in Arizona. It’s one thing my old home state has over Massachusetts, and that is words that make sense. Picture this:
My husband and I take our son for ice cream (which, we discovered, is only a seasonal favorite around here, and we had better eat up, because come October the ice cream shop owners skip town until April, leaving you stranded and only able to purchase frozen treats through the local frozen food section).
We order a scoop for my son and my husband.
“You want Jimmies?” I was asked.
“No,” I replied. “I want my own. The one I ordered.”
“No, Jimmies…you know rainbow, chocolate…Jimmies.”
“You mean sprinkles?” I asked.
“They’re called Jimmies,” was the retort.
Not where I’m from they’re not. They’re called, Sprinkles, because you SPRINKLE them on top of your ice cream. Where the hell did Jimmy come into this? You don’t “Jimmy” on top of your ice cream, and if Jimmy did something to it then I probably don’t want it.
Whatever. I got my son chocolate Jimmies. Fine.
I then order a shake.
“What do you want?”
“A chocolate shake.”
Blank stare.
You know, a shake, where you mix ice cream together with milk, and “SHAKE” it up so that it’s blended? A SHAKE?”
“Well, we don’t have shakes, but we have Frappes.”
“What’s a frappe?” I ask, becoming annoyed.
“We blend ice cream with milk and then you suck it through a straw.”
“So it’s a shake, then.” I say.
“No, it’s a frappe.”
Whatever. I order the damn frappe. It’s runnier than the shakes I’m used to, more like really cold chocolate milk, but I drink it.
I make a mental note; jimmies=sprinkles, frappe=crappy shake. I’m one step closer to being a native. Ha. Then I went to the doctor.
“Here’s the Johnny. Put it on with the opening in the back,” the nurse tells me.
“The what?”
“The Johnny.”
“You mean the gown?”
“Yes. They are called Johnnys.”
Not where I’m from they’re not. They are called gowns, “hospital gowns” to be more precise, because it’s an article of clothing that you wear when in a hospital (or a Dr’s office, which is very hospital-like). I’d like to know who Johnny is and if he is related to Jimmy, because apparently they were two very influential people back here on the East Coast. They were probably brothers who sat too long at the Union Oyster House and after having one-too-many Sam Adams (on Patriot’s Day no less), decided to screw with the English language.

Now I’m not a big Arizona flag-waver, but at least our words make sense. I have never accidentally ordered a hospital gown on my hot fudge sundae, nor have I asked where I should place the opening on my sprinkles. They are two very distinct words: hospital gown and sprinkles. Not Johnnys and Jimmies.
In Arizona we have shopping carts or shopping baskets (because you use them to SHOP), not carriages, which are devices you push a baby in, or a vehicle pulled by horses. Women carry purses, not pocketbooks—which by very definition is a book that can fit in your pocket ie: a wallet. In Arizona when we order coffee “regular,” it means NOT decaf; it does not refer to a size and it does not mean, “Please add as much cream and sugar as you think I’d like.”

It has taken some time to get used to these differences and to switch the way I order, ask or refer to things. (Although I cannot bring myself to call my purse, my “pocketbook.”) Would I rather live in Arizona? Heck no. I’ll deal with the differences in word choice and try to fit in, even if I’m not a “Townie.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Benefits of Wine

Lately, come 4:00, my Pavlovian-dog responses have been kicking in, as I anticipate preparing dinner so I can imbibe in a dark, luscious glass of red wine. Preparing meals is such a time sucking chore, and I have found that a glass of wine really helps me get in the mood. (Wine will do that for you.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as happy to have a glass of wine and eat Wendy’s take-out. This fascination with wine ebbs and flows with me. I’m not a wine snob by any means, and a few years ago, wouldn’t touch red wine even if you told me that it would erase the cellulite on my back-side. These days white wine seems too sweet, and red is what I crave. In fact, I just finished off a bottle of Blueberry Merlot, from a local vineyard—Nashoba Valley Winery—and it was very, very, good indeed.

So I did a little research (no, not for AA) on the benefits of wine. Not to be confused of course with the benefits of whine, of which there aren’t many. Turns out that red wine has been linked to a reduction in bad cholesterol, and decreases overall mortality, especially lowering incidents of cardiovascular problems. (I’m just paraphrasing here, so don’t go drink a case from Trader Joes and sue me because you get sclerosis of the liver.) One or two glasses of red wine a day was all it took to be able to claim health benefits. Obviously, drinking (more) wine has also been associated with alcoholism, poor life choices and a tendency to neglect basic personal hygiene (not to mention can stain you teeth for heavens sake) but I’m not there, so I’m going to focus on the health benefits.

In fact, you have to love a world in which you can suck down a glass of red wine and eat a dark chocolate candy bar and actually claim you are currently working on lowering your cholesterol. I love oatmeal as much as the next 6 year old kid, but going for the 30 day challenge to see my cholesterol lower 5 points doesn’t seem worth it. A bowl of thick, chunky, vommity-looking paste, or wine and chocolate. Hmmmm, let me think. I’d like to see someone go on a 30 day wine and chocolate challenge and see how they compare to the Quaker oat-eater. I bet his butt would be kicked. At least he’d be jealous.

So, aside from these obvious medical-study benefits, wine drinking has other benefits for me as well. Here are some of my personal observations:

Drinking wine is cheaper than taking Prozac.
Trust me on this. Wine has about the same effect as those prescription medications. I find that I’m much more serene and at peace with the world—especially from 5 to 9 p.m. (the dinner and bed time hours)—after a glass of wine, and I don’t need to have my liver process those terrible, manufactured chemicals. Wine is so much more natural, coming from grapes and all. Grapes are healthy, right?

It helps you keep your cool in the following situations:

  • Your son walks up to you holding your favorite, $30 kitchen wisk, the loops of which are folded down all the way around, and he says to you, “Look mom, a banana!”

  • When you have to explain to your son, exactly why he cannot “fix” your kitchen wisk by simply bending the wires back into place, that it is in fact, a kitchen tool and not an object for modern sculpture.

  • When your husband comes home from work, and calmly says, “What’s the big deal? It was only a wisk.”

  • When your daughter’s emergency siren is on, complaining that her ear hurts. You’ve heard it all day. She is so dramatic. You give her some Tylenol and Motrin, a heating pad, and tell her she’s going to be just fine. Your head is pounding.

  • When you return from the doctor’s office and find out your daughter has a ruptured eardrum, two ear infections, and needs nebulizer breathing treatments twice a day. (2 or 3 glasses recommended for this one.)

  • When your toilet explodes, floods your bathroom, your husband is out of town, you are ankle deep in fecal matter and it’s 3:00 in the morning. (This didn’t happen to me, but a friend of mine. She really needed a bottle of wine for this one.)

  • The kids have all been sick and home from school for a day. A couple days. A week. A few glasses of wine really helps you not dread the coming summer. (Or tape your children to the couch.)

Wine helps you be the parent you always wanted to be.
I have found I’m much more likely to say “yes” to my children, than “no” after a few drinks.
Child: “Can we have this candy bar before dinner?”
Me: “Sure!”
Child: “Can we not take a shower and just put on our pajamas tonite?”
Me: “No problem!”
Child: “Can I swing from the ceiling fan while chucking stuffed animals at my siblings instead of doing my homework?”
Me: “Absolutely! Let me help you!”

It’s Jesus’s drink of choice.
I figure there is a reason Jesus turned the water to wine at Cana. He didn’t turn it into beer. Or Jim Beam. Or icy margaritas. Not only was He performing a miracle, but He was also thinking about the health benefits for all those present at the wedding. There were probably kids running amok, the DJ was most likely late, and the Bridegroom was stressing out; “ WHAT? THERE’S NO MORE WINE??” (C’mon, we’ve all been to weddings like that.) Jesus knew that wine would be the best thing for all involved. It’s calming. It’s healthful.
That Jesus. He truly does think of everything.

Well readers, I may not have sold everyone on the benefits of wine. That’s okay. Some may prefer other modalities to help ease the tensions of this life. Wine seems to do the trick for me. Delicious, healthful….oh wait….it’s almost wine-thirty now…. Gotta run…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New Format

So, All,
What do you think of the new format? Is it easier or more difficult to read? Is it more interesting? What layout changes would you make? Let me know the good and bad of it, and I'll see what I can do!

A Note About Leaving Comments:

I've heard quite a few people say to me, "I was going to leave a comment, but I didn't know how." I've also heard, "I was going to leave a comment, but I didn't have time," or even "I promise to leave a comment soon..."

Well, I can't help you find the time or even beg you to do it, but I can tell you how. It's simple, and contrary to what you might think, you do not need to register anywhere or leave your email.

1. Click on the icon under the posting that says (most often) "0 Comments." (There is a little thought bubble there as well.)
2. You will then enter a screen that allows you to do two things:
a. view other people's comments
b. leave your own comment
3. Type your comment in the box on the right. There should be a cursor there. (See below on comment content.)
4. When you are finished leaving a comment, you have to choose an identity. The easiest way is to click "anonymous." If you truly wish to stay anonymous, fine; or you can leave your name (initials, whatever) after you are done writing your comment in the box.
5. Then choose "Publish comments," or something to that effect. You'll notice on the post that the number will change from "0 Comments," to "1 Comment." Then you know you have been successful.

Now, you ask, "What do I leave in my comment?" You can leave any message you want. It can be related to my posting, a similar personal experience you had with the same situation, or you can disagree with me and post something saying, "You're so full of bs Rachel, quit your whining." Or perhaps, "You rock Rachel! You're blogs are so enlightening and funny, and well...I'd like to be just like you someday." Even a posting that says, "Right on," is welcomed. You can also post comments on other people's comments, so even if you don't leave a comment, you should read them. Getting a dialogue and discussion going is one of the reasons people blog. That and it satisfies a small narcisistic gnawing for the writer.

As my mother says, "Who the hell has time to read blogs and leave comments?" Touche. And as you can see, lately I've been having trouble finding time to blog as well. So, we do what we can. If you find you have a few minutes, and you decide to leave a comment instead of taking a bathroom break, finishing up those few dirty dishes, or folding the last of the clean laundry, we'd all love to hear from you.