Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big River - The Secret Sisters

I can't stop listening to this song, this month.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Breakfast In Bed (But Better)

This morning, the kids woke me up at a blissfully late 7:40 a.m. After rolling around in my bed and snuggling for about 20 minutes, Sicily announced, "Mom, you can't get up. Don't come in the kitchen. Stay in bed, I'm doing breakfast today.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, you can't come in."

"So I can stay in bed for a while?"

"Don't get up until I tell you to."

Hard to argue with that. Jack and I played on the computer for about 15 minutes, but she was still busy in the kitchen.

I yelled from the bedroom, "Can I send Jack in to watch TV? Do I have time to take a shower?"

She called back, "Yes, I think I need Jack's help. You have plenty of time to take a shower."

I wondered what was taking so long - I bought a rare treat, honey buns, for the holiday, and she popped her head in earlier to ask for the 10 second microwave instructions. But I really wanted a shower, so I didn't ask.

I yelled, "You know I don't want a honey bun, right?" Too sweet for me.

"Don't worry, mom, I already knew that."

As I was washing I tortured myself with my thoughts. I texted my babysitter the night before to ask her to come help out with one of the kids for a few hours so I could run errands with the other. I didn't really need help but felt guilty for the lack of work I had provided over the last couple of weeks - she normally picks up my kids from school and takes them to activities or gets them home but I and their father had been able to cover it ourselves. I made up my mind to call and cancel and then told myself I would look stupid for being wishy washy. I was also concerned that both kids would want to go with me and that would be another battle. Oh well, I decided, I would split the time evenly between them. As I climbed out of the shower I called, "Don't turn on the stove unless I am in the kitchen."

Sicily wandered in, "Too late, mom, we've already cooked your eggs. Jack helped me, but now he is mad that I am doing everything and he won't help me cook your cheese toast. How do I work the toaster oven? Which dial do I use? Do I switch the setting from pizza to toast? I am worried that your eggs are getting cold!"

I silently laughed that my seven year old was depending on my five year old to learn how to work the various kitchen appliances. Is this girl vs. guy or personality? He watches everything I do, always wanting to help - he can even run the coffeepot. She could care less if I am making her breakfast or it is materializing out of thin air. Until today. My heart went out to her.

"Don't worry, C - you can always heat up the eggs in the microwave." I explained to her how to work the toaster oven and assured her I would be out as soon as I got dressed. A few minutes later I called, "Can I come out now?"

"Yes, please! The breakfast is ready."

When I walked out the card table we have been using since we moved was decorated with leftover Christmas trinkets we used for making her school Christmas goodie bags the day before. Tiny snowmen, snowflake, and candy cane erasers were adorning the plates. She poured our favorite juices/water into glass cups and each had a candy cane twirly straw in it. My egg and cheese toast were on my plate and she and Jack had warm honey buns on theirs. Baby candy canes were artfully arranged as a centerpiece. She even had their vitamins out. I sat down and gushed over every detail. When I reached for my absent honey she jumped up to get it from the cupboard - telling me not to get up. This was a far cry different from most school mornings when she is lying on the couch moaning over my requests to help put out napkins and forks while I rush to get the cooking done. I was overwhelmed.

I put my fork into my breakfast and noticed the smoked cheese was hiding it's paper separator, which she had accidentally cooked. I said, "Oh! Is this a little present?" She looked down shyly and apologized. I told her it wasn't something I hadn't done myself, and was easily fixed by scraping the cheese off onto the top of the eggs. It didn't change the taste, I added, of the best egg and cheese toast I'd ever had. I asked her what the hardest part of cooking breakfast was, since she made it all look so easy.

"Well, keeping everyone's meal warm enough in the microwave - it was hard to get it all ready and get people to the table on time." I certainly did not have this level of awareness about meal preparation at her age.

Later in the day, after we ran errands - my babysitter had arranged a play date with my son and his old best friend from last year that he hadn't seen in months - she is in nursing school with the mom - so he was over the moon and my anxiously anticipated battle was a non-issue - Sicily and I were making Christmas presents for her dog and her dad. She looked up at me and asked, "What about you, Mom? What do you want for Christmas?"

I smiled at her. "You already got me a Christmas present. One that I'll remember forever."

She looked puzzled. "What are you talking about?"


She smiled, clearly pleased with herself. "So now what?"

"How about another round of Old Maid?"

She happily picked up the cards, and we played.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homecoming Queen

Read it, if you want, over at MiM.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old New Music

Introducing the kids to Van Lear Rose this week. I hadn't listened to it much since 2006. Sicily's favorite song is the album title.

She loves the part where Loretta Lynn says, "You're dreamin' boy, she'll never look your way."

Jack's fave is Portland, Oregon. He calls it the Fizzy song.

I like that he loves it, but worried a little in carpool when he climbed out singing, "And a pitcher to go!!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perpetual Motion

Having a five year old son is a unique experience. His teachers tell me that while capable of great focus and amazingly sweet, my son moves around more than any other five year old they ever knew. Even while sitting at his desk doing work, he will have legs and arms in constant silent movement. At home he is always climbing the kitchen counter tops to help me cook and shimmying up the dangerous outside part of the wrought iron stairwell to the second floor when my back is turned for a second. He is fearless.

On Saturday morning we followed Sicily's requests of making bug cages and hunting for bugs with magnifying glasses. We are reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden and she is a little bug crazy - wants her own cricket prodigal musician. I have to hide the chapter books I read her at night now so she won't finish them after I've left - I provide her with popular series tailored toward her age group that she loves but I don't really want to read myself. I followed Jack's fancy for the next half of the day. We recently had an electrician visit our home - I have been out of a bedroom closet light ever since I moved in over a month ago and there were a couple of other light problems. He is the husband of a friend and moonlights at night - so he was around taking apart a light fixture in the kitchen one evening last week while I was preparing dinner and Jack was fascinated. He wanted to learn and experiment about electricity.

We found a highly recommended and awarded electricity kit at a local store, and set to learning about loops and circuits. The kids were both enthralled with creating light and whirring motors with a C battery, rubber bands, alligator clips, and the provided simple motors and bulbs. We even set up a switch with a paper clip and some brads. I tried to extrapolate what we were doing with their life experiences - the train around grandpa and bapcia's Christmas tree, the lights in their rooms, etc. I was pleasantly surprised that the activity held the interest of both my five and seven year old for quite some time, and I think they learned something from it.

Today was a special day I had planned a few weeks ago. Here is a hint:

I know - 40,000 people in my state have seen this over the last two weeks, but I was really excited to take the kids. And pleasantly surprised that they handled the three hour performance rather well. Jack was in his usual state of perpetual motion, which was somewhat challenging, but I was shocked to find my best control tactic over him kicking the seat in front of him over and over or flying his stuffed flying monkey in front of his sister's face was the threat of leaving. He was loving it, even though I was a little challenged trying to keep him focused. As I sat in the balcony, I thought back to my first viewing of this musical in the Orpheum in San Francisco last fall. I was in a front row seat, no squirmy kids or whispered questions about the plot. All in all, I enjoyed this second performance much better.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Blond Moment

I had 45 minutes to kill today before a 4:00 section meeting, and was looking for an excuse to have an "outside classroom" in the beautiful 74 degree November weather. As the head of the microbiology department, I have to sign off on 15-20 procedure manuals every year before December 31st. Last year I waited until December 20th to begin my review, and I decided to get a little head start this year so I wouldn't be so rushed. I wandered back to micro, and found the lab supervisor.

"Nothing to big or heavy. Just a couple of small ones that I can start to go through in a half hour or so."

She said, "Bioterrorism isn't too big. Here, take it, and this one too."

She handed me two identical small black three ring binders, which I assumed were both bioterrorism. Many manuals contain so much material that they have a part one and a part two.

I donned my sunglasses, grabbed a bottled water from my fridge, and headed out to a park bench in front of the hospital. After checking my e-mail and my google reader, I opened a notebook. At the top of the page in giant block letters I read:


Oh my, I thought with alarm. Bioterrorism has changed a lot in the past year. What in the world could this be about? Where was Anthrax, smallpox, and Yersinia Pestis? I had no idea that Chlamydia and Gonorrhea were agents of bioterrorism. How could they be? It was kind of gross to think about. Then I thought to check the spine of the notebook. RAPID TESTING. Bioterrorism was the other folder. Duh.

Maybe I Need to Clarify

Read it, if you want, over at MiM.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boob Job

I was in the office trying to tackle a breast case that had been interrupted over the hour with a CT needle, a visit from dad, and a call from my best friend ophthalmologist in Jonesboro. I should have known it was futile to continue. Dr. Woods, the one I walked down the partner isle with recently, came to the door.

"How's your day?"

"Great for a Monday. Kind of slow. I'm getting a lot done, and I'll probably have time to catch up on some journal reading this afternoon. I have a really cool case I've never seen - a pregnancy leuteoma. It's out for consult, but I'm pretty sure that's what it is. How is yours?"

"Ugh. Four medical livers. Nasty outflow obstruction. But other than that, fine. So do you have a hot date for the weekend?"

I laughed. He's been asking me that every week for the past month. I think he wants to live vicariously, but he's barking up the wrong tree right now. "Nope, no hot dates lined up. Laurie and I saw Hamlet this weekend, and it was wonderful."

"Is that a new shirt?"

"Yes! I got it this weekend." I was shopping at Kohl's for the kids, and I saw some beautiful long john shirts on sale for eight bucks. I bought a dark coral, an ivory, and a cornflower blue. They all have subtle but wonderful bohemian patterns - perfect for fall transition with scrubs. I debated over the medium and large, and decided to go with the large.

"It's kind of big. It drowns you. I think you need tighter shirts. And a boob job. Then the guys would be falling all over you."

I might have been offended if this was coming from anyone other than Dr. Woods, but I just laughed. "So you think I need a boob job? I know people that are happy with them, but I've also heard a lot of horror stories. Cockeyed nipples (I demonstrated with my fingers shaped like errant arrows in front of my chest and now it was his turn to double over). Open ports. Silicone busting. Nope, I think I'll stick with what I've got."

I've had the experience of bigger boobs. Double DD's, when I was nursing. And I can understand why women pay for them. They hypnotize men. I've witnessed it. I remember certain male attendings (I could have guessed which ones before I was nursing) never met me in the eye for months while I was nursing - they just stared at my boobs during every conversation. I felt like I could have asked them to buy me a car instead of when are we going to meet to discuss this autopsy and they would have just smiled and nodded. It was comical. I certainly don't judge anyone who wants one, but it is not for me. I know too many people that regret it, and friends that are naturally endowed are frustrated by the unwanted attention.

There is also a downside. They hurt! Maybe not so much when they aren't swollen with milk, but it is harder to exercise. And they cause lower back pain. To someone who isn't used to having them, they are cumbersome and unwieldy. Plus, and I've never investigated this from a medical standpoint, so I could be way off base, but I worry about nerve damage, during surgery. How that might affect things.

Dr. Woods said, "I've been trying to get my wife to get them, but no dice." I think he was joking, but I replied, "Good for her." She is about the same size as me, and we underdogs have to root for each other.

I put down my glass slide. "C'mon, I hear there are good cookies from that Ed's Bakery in Conway in the break room. Let's go get one."

"Maybe you'll find some guys around the cookies, and you can get a hot date."

I can count on one hand the number of guys I have dated, and still have leftover fingers. I've always attracted a certain overly aggressive type that plows me down with attention, and in retrospect, that's pretty telling considering how the relationships turned out. Nope, I'm not eager to go there again anytime soon.

"You'll be the first to know, I promise."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Madness, Murder, Suicide, Incest, and Ghosts

I was looking forward to this past weekend for a very long time.

My house is somewhat settled on the ground floor, I didn't have a conference to attend, I wasn't on call (well, I was supposed to be, but I fixed that - remember? I'm a partner now. I can sacrifice a little money for happiness, if someone is willing to take on the work), I didn't have a weekend full of activities for the kids, I wasn't moving. The kids were headed to Fayetteville Friday night with their dad, and I had the weekend to myself.

After a moderately busy week I was looking forward to an evening alone Friday night - take out gyros (yum!), massive project of moving the one hundred addresses I correspond with Christmas cards yearly from paper to laptop, addressing moving announcements, and watching three movies. Yes, I did all of that on Friday night. I stayed up rather late - one thing nice about these weekends alone is reverting back to my high school/college clock - I never started papers or test studying until at least midnight.

The only movie I would recommend, very highly, is Winter's Bone. Just watch it, if you haven't already. I haven't fallen so in love with a heroine since I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series for book club. I would have rented The Girl Who Played With Fire, but subtitles and laptop projects don't go well together, so I decided to save that for later. Luckily the other two movies were mediocre at best, so I got my project done. If they were as good as Winter's Bone, I would have been toast.

Saturday was sinful - laying in bed until almost ten reading/sleeping! I know this may bore people that don't have kids, but believe me, when you are a mom - this just doesn't happen. Unless you get a divorce. Not that I'm an advocate. I was somewhat productive the rest of the day with exercising and running errands and cleaning out/organizing Sicily's closet, not to mention buying frozen mice for poor Spotty who was a few days overdue on his feeding. I was buying time, looking forward to my evening out with my friend Laurie. Who made me a kick-ass CD I haven't quite gotten through yet.

Have you not already guessed what we did based on the title of this blog? Shame on you! Our plans were down to Hamlet vs. 127 Hours. Hamlet won. She saw the Broadway version with Jude Law a couple of years ago, and had read a review where a Wall Street Journalist claimed that this Hamlet, Avery Clark, was better than Jude Law's version. I had seen a picture on Arkansas Blog, and he was pretty hot, maybe even more so than James Franco, so Hamlet won. We had fourth row seats in the center aisle of the Rep. I remember struggling through Hamlet in high school, so I was a bit skeptical, but the three hour show went by in a flash, it was so incredible. I voiced my amazement to Laurie during the intermission - "Wow, I can understand Shakespeare - it is so much better acted well than studied!" She replied, "Yes, this guy makes Shakespeare seem conversational, and funny. Better than Jude Law, I agree."

In a planning phone conversation earlier in the day, Laurie mentioned how much she loved British humor. I said, "Boy, do I have the book for you. Soul Music, by Terri Pratchett." I gave it to her, with the embarrassing admission that I struggled with the humor. I wanted to love it, based on the person who recommended it, but I felt embarrassed and stupid that I plodded through it. I think it is just a British humor thing - you find it funny, or you don't. Monty Python, The Princess Bride - I just don't get the humor. I did laugh a little in places, especially when DEATH gave his drunken speech in the pub and passed out, but overall it sailed right over my head, and jumped around so much I was reeling. I can't wait to get her take on it - I may appreciate it more in retrospect. Having said all that - the first song on Laurie's CD, which I played over and over in the car today, is freaking hilarious. And I think he is British. So please don't give up on me, you know who you are.

After Hamlet Laurie and I had a midnight dinner at Ferneau - fried calamari, ahi tuna nachos, wine, fruit and cheese. It was decadent, and there is no better place to people watch while discussing Hamlet on a late night out. We agreed that Ophelia was a little stale - I remarked that she seemed the same sane as she was mad. Laurie said, "Yeah, she just looked a little more disheveled." Polonius was incredible. Claudius, who doubled as King Hamlet's ghost was good, but his occasionally muted voice made me lose a little of the text. Hamlet was a pleasure to watch - both visually and with his interpretation. Laurie told me, "Yes, he was hot, but gay don't you think?" I was shocked. "What, do you really think he is gay? Surely not." I remembered back to the spring where I went to a concert and thought a bevy of guys talking to my friend and I were gay, and I was dead wrong. I thought I was good at that sort of thing, but maybe I'm not. Marriage and the passage of time has ruined my radar. "You might be right," she conceded, but she left me questioning my judgement.

This morning was another lazy one - in bed late late late especially when you consider the whole fall back thing. Took my mother-in-law to a long overdue brunch (can I still call her this? What do I call her now? The semantics of family after divorce are really strange), grocery shopped, and finished the last of the book I was reading this week - "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell" by John Crawford - in the gorgeous 68 degree weather down by the river. There's another weekend recommendation for you - a very readable and fascinating account of a soldier in the Iraqi War. I hate war stories in general, but each chapter told an isolated story of his year long stint. The dream vs. reality of his return home was heart-wrenching. He is no longer affiliated with the U.S. government.

I was so happy to see my kids at 5:00! Cooked Italian and then we vegged out on the couch with YouTube. They took turns suggesting searches. "The scariest thing in the world! The biggest snake on the planet!" and I happily obliged. When Jack got to a certain search, I almost fell over laughing at the result. He wanted "The scariest surprised fattest thing in the world." I told him that was a pretty detailed but general search and we might not get anything. Here's what came up.

I have to agree with YouTube on that one. The kids were cracking up at the video - we could only tolerate the first minute.

Hope everyone reading had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Questioning Eyebrows

I love this cover of The Magnetic Fields song. But where oh where are the Pine Valley Cosmonauts? Definitely better, in my opinion, than Andy Hopkins.

I got a big laugh the other morning when I interrupted Sicily's sing-along and asked her to show me what she thought "questioning eyebrows" look like. We've been experimenting showing emotions through eyebrows all week long during our short morning carpool. I love Jack's "surprised eyebrows."

My favorite line in the song is, "I see that kiss me pucker forming, but maybe you should plug it with a beer."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Special Friend

A few weeks back, at dinner with the kids, Sicily was being especially intolerable. She was mad about something, and nothing I could say or do would make it right. Despite my efforts, she was determined to get a rise out of me.

"Mom, that thing on your chin. What is it called? It's so BIG."

"It's called a mole, Sicily."

She looked at me with a wicked gleam in her eye.

"Is it your special friend?"

I was a bit taken aback, but decided not to let it show.

"As a matter of fact it is." I began to stroke it lovingly. "At night after you and Jack go to sleep, I talk to it about my day and my problems. It is my most special friend."

The look of barely veiled horror and surprise on her face was priceless. "Aw, come on Mom, you're kidding, right?" I loved that she had to ask.

"Of course I'm not kidding. You just hurt it's feelings. I'm going to have to spend some extra time with it tonight."

"You don't really talk to that thing, do you?"

The next morning in the carpool line, she was sulking over being reprimanded for goading her brother. I tried to think of a way to cheer her up before she left the car for her school day. I caught her eye in the rear view mirror and started rubbing my mole. She broke into a fit of giggles.

"You know, Sicily, some people call these things beauty marks. All of the famous models have them. That's what I was telling my special friend last night to console it."

"Mom! You are crazy. You are teasing me again. A what? A beauty mark? You cannot be serious."

"Shush, Sicily! Don't hurt it's feelings again." I stroked it with exaggerated motions, trying once again to elicit a spontaneous, wonderful smile. Ha. It worked. Still does, if I use it sparingly.