Month: April 2009

Paralysis by Analysis

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image Pleasing a woman is never easy, even in the best of circumstances. Pleasing her while she’s pregnant…why, that’s just a Pandora’s box that is perhaps best left unopened.

Perhaps my first memory of displeasing a woman, came back in the 80s. I don’t remember if it was my mother’s birthday, or actually Mother’s Day, but I found this really cool, under-the-counter can opener that I thought she’d love (remember: this is the 80s). With my little 10-year old money, I bought it and presented it to her on the now-forgotten holiday. Expecting her to be “wowed” by my selection, I was devastated when she started crying and even moreso when, after many months had gone by and she had not asked my dad to install it, I realized she didn’t like the gift.

That was an important lesson; one which, if you judge by the media and locker-room talk, many men would do well to learn.

The Lesson: A “good” gift is one part selection, and one-part timing.

For instance, had I given my mom the can opener at Christmas–at the same time she got a really pretty sweater or some jewelry–it probably would have gone over OK. However, having that being the “only gift” at the time, made what might normally be a good gift, instead something that reminded her that her young, active lifestyle of jogging and reading books like, “The Sugar Blues,” while partying and driving around on the weekends in her little blue Mustang, were over.

So it is with much trepidation that I approach May. In addition to Mother’s Day being in May, it is also the month of CareerMom’s birthday. In fact, there are only three days between the two this year (I know…yay me!). What does one get a pregnant woman whose self loathing is at an all time high? Sure, I could go the “spa” route, but really…a “pregnancy massage”? Really?

I could go with some nice clothes, which she’d only get to wear for a month or two before (hopefully) putting them into a storage bin for the last time.

Jewelry is always nice, but my bank account isn’t that lucrative right now.

What’s a man, and his two boys, to do?

I pose this question to my readers:

CareerMom asked that I give her money to purchase a new swimsuit for our beach trip at the end of the month. Ok, that’s doable, but…ho hum…BORING! Come on…she’s 6 months pregnant. She isn’t going to go buy a sexy bikini or even a moderately revealing two-piece (I know…it’s not for ME…).

I then thought about getting her a gift certificate for some clothes at a trendy-ish clothing store for women, like Chico’s or Boston Proper. But that would be for after the baby comes and after she’s lost some of the baby weight, which…I know, is a goal of hers.

But this idea is fraught with perils. My thought is that this would be a personal incentive for her to lose the weight so that she could get some fun new clothes. I know she’s going to lose it anyway, so is it really so bad? But, what if she gets offended that I “want” her to lose weight?

Is this a good idea, or is this a Pandora’s Box that I would be well-advised to just put back in the hole and cover up with some dirt?

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Change is…good?

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 time passing

We all change over time don’t we? I mean, more than just our age, we change the way the think; what we like; how we view the world. It’s normal right? It happens to everyone and when it does, you roll with the punches and move on.

Or, you’re supposed to…

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The other night, CareerMom and I were lying in bed watching TV. I had the latest hardback copy of Jim Butcher’s “Turn Coat” in my hands and CareerMom was beside me flopping around like a floundering fish while alternately poking herself in the belly in the vain hopes of getting the baby to stop kicking her in the kidneys (secretly, I chuckled). But then the show Fringe” came on and I put my book aside. There are few entertainment choices I enjoy in this world as much as a paranormal mystery, and while Fringe just barely qualifies, it does have some fantastic actors, including the venerable John Noble, who played Denethor in “Lord of the Rings.”

Anyway, as the Fringe intro concluded, and with it, the creepy music and somewhat vague, if not promising threat of coming violence, CareerMom mumbled beside me, “I don’t think I’m going to like this.”

Now, let me pause for a moment and explain the significance of this statement.

When I met CareerMom, the X-Files was at the peak of its popularity. In fact, the two of us spent many an evening playing the X-Files video game together and it was SHE, who introduced me to Twin Peaks, a show that, until then, I had ignored. Suffice it to say that she has always been a fan of these types of shows.

But no longer apparently…

In response to her cathartic announcement, I responded with, “What happened to you? You used to love this stuff!”

She just grunted.

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Folks, I felt like a piece of me died right there in that bed. I mean, unless she was just completely snowing me when we were dating, she was into Sci-Fi–not hard core, but enough! Now, hell, I don’t know what kinds of shows she likes now. For all I know, my weekly diet of “Fringe,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Two and a Half Men” leaves her completely bored and in need of intellectual stimulation. But frankly, at 9 p.m., the LAST thing I need is MENTAL stimulation!

Can’t a guy just relax and lose himself in some otherworldy improbability for a while?

But more than that, it’s a sign of things to come and even things that have already happened, but which I’ve ignored. We’ve changed. Oh, we still love each other and our marriage is solid, but…do you remember when you first started dating? Do you remember hearing about couples who took separate vacations and do you remember looking over at your partner and saying, “Man that’s ridiculous! I would never go on vacation without you!” The people who did that, who went on vacations without the love of their life; well, they clearly had marital issues!

Yeah…um…give it ten years. Now, she wants to go to the beach, and I want to lose myself in the woods, preferably in a lake created by an asteroid crater somewhere high in the mountains–just me and my fishing pole (and maybe my MP3 collection and a shower, and an actual toilet…).

And it’s not just vacations, it’s lots of little things. Things that, taken individually, are minor. I mean, so what if she’s not as into new age classical music anymore. And, is it THAT big a deal if my Netflix selections rarely ever include a chick-flick or anything else with Mathew McConaughy in it? She’s a big girl. She can log on and make some selections.

It’s not one thing; it’s lots of little things. It’s lots of the little things that I’ve loved about her all this time. But hey, people change and I still love her and all that, but then, where do you draw the line? For how many vacations do you suck it up and keep your mouth shut until finally, you’re like, “Hey, I get that you’re not going to want to go hang out in a cabin with no cell phone service for a week while I sit in a little John boat and fish. So, why don’t you go to the beach with the kids, while I…don’t.”

I mean, is that possible? Or rather…is that possible without coming off looking like a complete douche? After nearly ten years together, the part of me that really WANTS to make that effort just thinks, “If she wants it badly enough, she’ll say something.” Seriously, a guy can’t spend his entire life trying to figure out what somebody wants. Sooner or later the other person has to speak up. And by the way, I could use that paintbrush on a WHOLE bunch of different life-canvases…if you know what I mean.

Move over Hank Moody…

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image By nature, I’m a socially sullen person. By that, I mean that when I’m out and about in public, I put on my “don’t talk to me” face so that I can get in and out with the least amount of interaction with others. Grocery store baggers, bank tellers and cheery hair stylists are my Kryptonite and I am the mild mannered, if perhaps slightly less-musculared, Superman.

After my recent trip up to TrishaTruly’s, thanks to her man’s assistance in locating some of the best online sources of “free from somewhere” movie and television programming, I’ve been catching up on episodes of “Dr. Who,” “Dexter” and I’ve even now watched all two seasons of “Californication.” David Duchovny is one cool dude–always has been. Ever since his X-Files days, I’ve admired his lazy delivery and seemingly casual demeanor, and it’s evident in every role he plays, including the sex-addicted writer on Californication. I’m drawn to this show for a number of reasons: his job (cuz, it’s kinda like mine), Duchovny as an actor, lots of breasts, and some amazing cameo appearances from people who must owe either Duchovny or the other producer on the show, some serious favors (e.g., Tom Cruise did a quickie).

If you’ve never watched the show, Duchovny plays a writer (Hank Moody) in L.A. who is living the party life. He drinks like a fish, smokes a boat-load of ‘the pot’ and he picks up girls like nobody’s business. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, or where he is, the whole show is one big hottie-fest.

Definitely NOT like my life. Don’t get me wrong, I may only be 5′ 8″ tall, but I’ve done OK. I once dated a girl who ended up getting implants and then becoming an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader. I pulled a Hootie and the Blowfish and had one come knocking on my door after she left her husband. But still, I don’t just walk down the aisle in the grocery store with a bottle of Jim Bean in my hand and have the ladies give me ‘the eye.’

Until last week.

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I picked the boys up from Daycare a tad early and headed over to the local mega-mart shopping center. First we picked up some dog food and treats at the pet store and then we headed over to the grocery store where the boys wedged themselves into one of those buggies that has a big plastic race-car on the front. I mean, it’s cool for them, but it makes navigating those tiny store aisles something of a challenge.

Looking back on it, the next thirty minutes seem a bit surreal. The boys were being cute-crazy and I’m sure that, more than anything I was doing, attributed to the smiles, chit-chat and looks I received from all the female shoppers. But something was happening out of the ordinary. Women smiled at me. They looked me in the eye. And as I turned the corner once, an achingly attractive, late-20’s-something blonde girl in heels and black ankle-length pants stopped, looked demurely over at me and said something in a self-deprecating fashion as she lowered her eyes (oooh, that’s HOT!) before flashing a brilliant smile and heading left. Honestly, I felt like Hank Moody walking around the store. And the weird thing was, I was happy. I was smiling. I was having a GOOD TIME!

Out in public no less!

I’m now starting to wonder how many single years I wasted acting unapproachable. Sure, I have always been able to turn on the charm when necessary, but most of the time I didn’t bother. Looking back…man, what a waste. It was a Zen-like moment that I’m sure will not happen again. But for just a few minute there, I knew what it must feel like to be a PLAYA! It felt good. It was fun.

It could get a guy in a LOT of trouble–married or otherwise.

One more candy holiday down!

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Easter 20094Are there any more candy holidays until Halloween? I pray not. MLE has shown exceptional acumen at being able to sniff out and unwrap foil-wrapped candy. It’s a vice his older brother never picked up, but is happily playing along with.

*sigh*

CareerMom leaves town again today for the whole week, but this time, things are going to be  bit different. For one, she’s not leaving over the weekend, so I get a break during the day while I’m working and the boys are at daycare. Secondly, she’s arranged for my SIL to come watch the kids two nights this week.

TWO NIGHTS! That’s like, more free time than I get when CareerMom is home (and she wonders why I don’t mind her traveling so much).

However, in what is hopefully not a portend of the week to come, this morning we woke to discover bulging paint in the ceiling over our bedroom armoire, which, when coupled with the pounding rain we’re getting today, could only mean one thing–water leak!

Luckily (if there’s a silver lining when it comes to water leaks), the water is dribbling down a pipe where apparently, it’s not sealed well on the roof. I was able to stuff towels down to stop the water from getting further into my sheetrock and I’m hoping the rain is merciful as the day goes on. Friday night we had some nasty storms come through and we had a brief bit of large hail. I’m wondering if we didn’t accumulate some damage this spring with all the bad weather. So, I’ll be calling Mr. Insurance this morning to see if they want to come out and take a look-see. I know a few of my neighbors have gotten new roofs because of the weather this year so who knows.

Leapfrogging to another topic — church. Being Easter and all, we kept the boys with us in church on Sunday rather than sticking them in children’s church, which incites screaming fits each time from MLE, and they were really good for about 35 minutes. Unfortunately, church is more like an hour and 15 minutes. By the hour mark, MLE had played peek-a-boo with everyone behind us; he’s crawled around on the floor, and even wandered out into the aisle where he watched in awe at the unfolding passion play on stage. MLI just sat, laughed at MLE and ate Cheerios. Luckily, we were in the balcony where you can get away with a lot more shenanigans. It WAS entertaining at least (moreso than the over-emoters playing Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter on stage. And dude! You can’t tell me that Jesus and Mary M. weren’t an item!)

I hope you and your family had a good Easter, or at least enjoyed the fine weather if you don’t celebrate the holiday!

Here we go again…

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image Crap. CRap. CRAp. CRAP!

Those seven little words every father dreads have been uttered in my home. No…not, “I’m pregnant again. How did this happen?”

That’s so…four months ago.

No, these seven little words are, “I’d like to go to the beach.”

CRAAAAAAAAAP!

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I grew up in Mobile, AL. People from there don’t go on vacations. Despite what you see in movies and on television, you’ll rarely EVER see a true southerner in Paris, acting a-fool. No, when I was a kid, rather than going to Disney or traveling out west, we went to North Carolina to visit my dad’s family instead; and about every other summer, we’d drive a whole hour, and spend a few days in a two-bedroom condo on the beach, with my mom’s side of the family–namely, her sisters and their kids–all girls. The dads were smart enough to stay far, far away from the estrogen wave, and so each summer, rather than coming with us, they would conveniently have important work things that required their attention and only drove over once or twice during the evenings to take part in the beer and boiled scrimps. That meant me, and about 10 women of various ages and bitchiness, were all stuck in one condo together. Me–one male–all alone.
I have many memories of those days, but I think what most starkly punctuates my feelings on the subject of beach vacations is the memory of one summer at the condo, space was at such a premium that I had to sleep on the deck in a lounge chair at night. To this day, I can’t stand the feel of dried, salty humidity on my skin.

Yeah, I LUV me some beach vacation! Good times…

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As an adult, there’s nothing fun-sounding about a beach vacation. Well, it does sound fun–I mean, what isn’t fun about lounging around on the beach sipping a cold beer and watching scantily clad, oiled up young women carelessly bask in the summer rays?

I’ll tell ya what’s not fun about it…

What’s NOT fun about it is that there is no lounging. There is no relaxation. From the moment you start frantically packing the car, and all throughout the 7-hour car trip filled with whining toddlers and antsy 5-year olds, and all the while actually at the beach where you spend time alternating between rinsing the sand out of the baby’s crack and dealing with sleep-schedule screwed up toddlers, it’s not fun. It’s not a vacation. It’s hell. And you actually pay money for it! You want to take a vacation? For the same money, hire a nanny for a few days and let me disappear into the basement!

And why the heck a woman who is going to be six-months pregnant when we go (oh yes, it’s a done deal now!), wants to go to the beach where her self-consciousness is going to plague her the entire time, is beyond me.

But I can’t say this to her. Perhaps she knows that I’m feeling a tad guilty over my “baby reaction” and she figures it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. I dunno… So, yesterday I called my Aunt down in Orange Beach and asked her to check availability for late May (before the rates go up). Rather than the beach-beach, we’re going to stay at a condo on the bay. I figure…a little less stress on everyone right? It has a “lazy river” and a marina–all in all, more to actually do once you’ve had your fill of sun and sand-swept wind.

I’m going to do my absolute very best to be positive about this. I mean, this year is our 10-year Anniversary and I was planning a nice “out of town” trip for just the two of us. Well…that ain’t happening now that we’ll have a 3-month old on our hands, so this trip is really the only vacation we’re taking the whole year.  I can’t be a scrooge and not make it happen.

It’s just too bad that booze makes me gain weight…otherwise I could have a REALLY good time.

It’s the Monday Wrap-Up!

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Let’s call this “Wrap Up Monday,” which is odd I know, but I have a lot of short little ‘vignette’ type things to mention that don’t deserve an entire blog on their own merits, so here goes:

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On Saturday, MLI had his second soccer game of the season. At this age, they play four kids at one time, on each team, and they don’t have a goalie. So, you’re supposed to have 8 kids running whilly nilly around a soccer field, while two coaches try to keep pace by immediately throwing a ball back into play whenever one goes out of bounds. It’s very “high energy” and very, very funny.

Unfortunately, our team apparently suffered from “Spring Break” syndrome, so only four kids showed up, and one of the kids was a girl who proceeded to pout on the field (because she couldn’t get the ball) until I pointed out to her how important the “goalie” position was and that, “…all you have to do is stand right here and keep the ball from going in. It’s THE MOST IMPORTANT job on the whole team!” She loved it and didn’t pout the rest of the game. Course…by then we were already down about 8 points, but…

Despite having three boys on our team who were unable to substitute out and rest, they did pretty darn well against the other team who had seven players and could rotate out the bench when a player started flagging. Our team scored two points and I’m proud to say that MLI scored the only “legitimate” point for us (the other was scored by a member of the opposite team who got confused about which side of the field he was on).

Meanwhile, on the sideline, MLE showed that he could have probably hung with most of the 5-year olds on the field, by dribbling the ball up and down the sidelines better than half the other, bigger kids. I have high hopes for that one!

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On a more serious note, one of my many moms and MY BROTHER, are coming for a very brief visit on Wednesday. This is significant for several reasons:

  • This is my “adopted mom” who exerted the same lack of parenting skills that I find myself exerting when CareerMom is gone. The main difference being that hers was “all the time” and a good bit rougher.
  • Despite having any real connection to my kids, she continues to call them, “my babies” despite neither of them being either A) Babies or B) hers.
  • My brother, whom I probably haven’t seen in five years, is coming with her. Last time I saw him, was in the visitation lounge of the Lexington, Kentucky Federal Penitentiary. He had a long beard and lots of tattoos. He’s been “straight” for a while now, but I honestly don’t know how I feel about him coming to my sanctuary…my home…and being around my kids. Oh, he’s never been violent or anything, but I honestly don’t know him anymore and I don’t know what to expect. Being around him is like being around that strange uncle that you’re supposed to like, and that your parents want you to hug and stuff, but whom you really don’t know well enough to want to do any of that stuff. It’s gonna be a weird visit all around.

Luckily, they will only be there for a very brief instant. After the “we were gonna stop by, but my GPS sent me to the wrong side of Atlanta…and oh, by the way, here’s your rotten shrimp” incident, I suppose I should give her credit for trying.

I got your plans right here!

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image In retrospect, I may have started liquidating our baby stuff a tad prematurely last summer. During a yard sale I held in late spring, I managed to get rid of a number of stuffed animals, a Moses basket, a side-to-side infant swing, some kitschy baby toy crap and other sundry items that people who no longer plan on having children don’t need to keep around the house.

*sigh* Yeah.

So anyway, I was at Baby’s Russ the other day and it occurred to me that, while I was there…I might as well stock up on a few of our “old standby” baby items. For instance, both of our boys really liked the NUK latex nipples. They are the dark beige nipples that feel like, well…like a rubber nipple. How a kid, who has suckled a REAL nipple, can be fooled by latex, is beyond me, but whatever. We tried some of the others and the boys both kept coming back to the NUK latex versions. Well apparently, our kids were in the minority. It seems that you can no longer purchase those in the store. They are available online, but not in-store. The same goes for the Diaper Decor refills that we use. I guess the old Diaper Decor wasn’t “late 2000s enough” or something.

I walked out of Baby’s Russ with nothing more than some diapers and wipes for MLE, which was kinda dumb considering I could also have gone ahead and purchased some for the new baby. After all, it’s not like diapers are designed for a particular gender. This was before we knew we were having another boy.

I got to thinking about all the stuff that we’ve either given away, thrown away or simply ill-planned for, and we’re in for a whole lotta new baby crap. Even though we’re having a boy, and we already have two boys, we’re going to have to buy a lot of new clothes. Two boys are awful hard on clothes. With clothes,  it’s not so much that they wear the clothes out, but more like they stain the crap outta them to the point where you’re embarrassed to let them wear the clothes anywhere outside of the house. Things like pants and shorts can be reused because they are pretty tough, but T-shirts and pajamas…fuhgeddaboudit!

There’s also the issue with my truck. When CareerMom got pregnant with MLI, I traded in a tiny Ford Ranger for a Dodge Dakota extended cab thinking that it would be plenty large for two kids–and it is.

For TWO kids.

It’s not going to work with three. Already, I have MLI in the front seat with a booster, and I have MLE in the backseat. But by the time his legs poke out from his car seat, he’s kicking the back of the seat in front of him, which is pushed forward as far as it can go without jamming MLI’s knees up into his chest. And the really tough thing is, my truck is paid for. The thought of having to get either another car, or a bigger truck, just kills me!

But, these are the kinds of things that happen to you when you thumb your nose at mother nature and try and plan too far into the future.