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  • Mr. and Mrs. Newton

    August 30, 2006

    Everyone thinks Isaac Newton was so great and so smart and that he came up with the three laws of motion on his own. Not so. What all the scientists don’t want you to know is that Newton stole the ideas from his own wife. It was Mrs. Newton who first penned the laws of toddler motion after a long hot summer with a two-year-old and Newton later adapted them for his little science project.

    Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion
    Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless an outside force acts upon them.

    Mrs. Newton’s First Law of Toddler Motion
    A toddler in motion tends to stay in motion, especially under the influence of Oreos. Toddlers will not rest unless an outside force acts upon them.

    Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion
    The rate of change of the momentum of a body is directly proportional to the net force acting on it, and the direction of the change in momentum takes place in the direction of the net force.

    Mrs. Newton’s Second Law of Toddler Motion
    The rate of change to the momentum of a todder is directly proportional the force of his mother’s hand acting upon his behind. That is if she is fast enough to catch him. The direction of a toddler in motion will change opposite to the location of the mother.

    Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion
    To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Mrs. Newton’s Third Law of Toddler Motion
    To every action a mother proposes, a toddler will respond with an equal and opposite reaction until the mother has pulled out every last tuft of her own gray hair and collapsed in a sobbing heap upon the floor cradling a bottle of tequila.

    Source: Little Known Scientific Facts about Cheetos, Tequila and Toddlers, Vol II, August 2006 Edition

    I’m Crying On The Inside

    August 29, 2006

    Today was Sean’s first day of school. As I walked him down the hall to his classroom, I passed some of my neighbors who had just dropped off their children. They were sniffling and dabbing at their eyes, overcome with separation anxiety. I felt like a rotten mother because I was not crying. I was having a hard time suppressing the happy dance.

    Although he protested the entire way to school, as soon as we got to his room he made a bee line for the Brio train set and immediately forgot that he had a mother, so I went on my merry way. As I walked out of the building looking forward to going to Home Depot without having to sit astride every single riding lawn mower in stock, I saw another weeping neighbor coming towards me and I tried to work up a few tears for appearances. It’s just not very convincing when you’re doing the happy dance.

    PHOTO: This is how I deal with separation anxiety.

    Seeing Dr. Larson

    August 28, 2006

    The third and final installment in the Dr. Larson series.

    Episode #1 – Waiting To See Dr. Larson

    Episode #2 – Still Waiting To See Dr. Larson

    When the nurse finally called me back to see the doctor, it took me a minute to stand up because after four hours of waiting, my legs had forgotten the fine art of locomotion.  As though I had on one 3-inch stiletto and one fluffy houseshoe, I did a Merengue (quick-step, hop, quick-step, hop) all the way across the length of the waiting room where Nurse Nohumor was waiting to show me a good time.

    She escorted me to a walk-in freezer Exam Room B where she took my blood pressure, weighed me and asked me to undress. “Don’t you think you should buy me dinner first?” I joked which made her laugh so hard she had to cross her legs and hold herself to keep from peeing. No, that part didn’t really happen. She didn’t laugh. She just handed me a paper gown and briskly informed me that the doctor would see me shortly.

    I sat on the edge of the table shivering in my Brawny paper towel and admiring the shade of blue my toes had turned when another nurse came in and took my weight and blood pressure yet again. And you might be as surprised about this as I was: I weighed the same as I did ten minutes earlier.

    She ordered me to lie down on the exam table where she wired me up like Frankenstein. After she electroded me in all manner, she began plugging me into a machine in all manner and flipping switches. But nothing happened. Either I was dead and no one told me or the machine was broken. She jiggled wires and plugged and unplugged and flipped and unflipped switches. She walked around the machine and shook the handle. Nothing. She nudged it with her ugly white nurse shoe. Still nothing. And then her expression clouded in the same way mine did the time I karate kicked my computer back in 1998 after it ate a 25-page art history term paper that was due the next day. And that was not a comforting thought.

    I looked down and noticed that the machine was not plugged into the wall and so I gingerly suggested that perhaps she get back on her meds we could start diagnostics there. She plugged it in and voila! The machine started clicking and sputtering and spitting out hieroglyphics on graph paper and this made her very happy. She ripped the paper out of the machine with gleeful flourish and on her way out, she informed me that Dr. Larson would be with me shortly. Shortly. As I sat there in silence, it dawned on me that “shortly” was code for “You’re going to die here.”

    After four hours in the waiting room and 30 minutes in the deep freeze, I was ready to let Dr. Larson have it. And then he knocked and in he walked. He was so cute I could hardly look at him. And as if that weren’t enough, he was nice. Really, really nice. Dang! How could I tell a really nice handsome man what a jerk he was?! He was sympathetic and apologized several times for the lengthy wait and I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard myself cheerfully saying, “Oh, that’s okay!” Although I did manage to stop short of saying, “Here let me lay down on the floor and you can step on me if you like, really, I don’t mind because you’re cute and nice.”

    For the next 35 minutes, he looked me in the eye and focused completely on me as though I was the only person in the entire world. He explained the details of the different components of my blood work and answered every question in English and to my satisfaction. Then he recommend that I have a test costing $3500 that my insurance won’t cover.

    I coughed and clutched my chest and nearly fell off the table. I would have had a heart attack, except that I didn’t have another four and a half hours to wait to see a doctor.


    August 27, 2006

    The day was November 7, 1938. She had turned 39 in August and was in her twelfth year of marriage to an uneducated but hard working farmer who adored her. It was never clear if she really loved him or if at the advanced age of 26, she had just given in to the fear of becoming a spinster and finally agreed to marry him when he asked her for the sixth or seventh time.

    She was a tall, pretty woman with hazel eyes, a thick head of wavy auburn hair and perfect white teeth. She loved jewelry and china and books and beautiful things. Her own mother ran off and left the family Hester_1
    when she was ten-years-old, leaving her to help her father raise her three younger siblings.

    At an early age, she had made the unconventional decision to forego marriage and children in favor of working as a housekeeper for a wealthy doctor in order to have the nice things she loved so much. Marrying Allen Rhodes had put an end to her life of pretty things and was the beginning of a life of hard work and worry that was the lot of the farmer’s wife. Together they had five children ages 11, 8, 6, 4 and 5-weeks.

    She had been suffering since the birth of the baby with severe abdominal pain and after more than a month she could bear it no more. Her father, Hiram, who had come to live with the family several years earlier, begged Allen to get help for his daughter and so the decision was made to take her to town to see a doctor. In those days, few things were more terrifying to country folk than doctors. Such a radical decision says everything about the degree of desperation and pain she was suffering.

    As she stood to leave for the hospital that November afternoon, her feet must have felt as though they were made of lead. She kissed her infant daughter over and over cradling her downy soft head up to her cheek, closing her eyes and listening for the sweet purr of baby’s breath circling in her ear. She placed the baby into Hiram’s waiting arms and then kissed each of her other four children taking a long time to look into the face of each one. If there was any question of her love for Allen there was no question she loved her children more than anything in the world. In spite of the crippling pain, she couldn’t bring herself to turn away. Allen gently pulled her away and lead her to the door.

    Three separate times she made it as far as the car only to return to kiss her children good-bye one more time, kissing them and weeping over them at the same time. When she turned away for the last time, she intuitively knew that she would never return.

    Allen settled his sick wife in to the car for the long journey into town and waved feebly at his father-in-law as he put the car in drive. Hiram stood at the door of the farmhouse with the baby in his arms and tried to nod reassuringly. He watched the car carrying his daughter pull away, then dip and disappear into the rolling hills of corn. When there was nothing more to see but endless rows of corn, he clutched the baby tight to his chest, hung his head and shook and shivered, silently releasing all the tears he had been holding back his entire life.

    As the car bumped down the country road, perhaps she bore the unbearable in silence, wordless and brave. Perhaps she gave in and beat her breast and howled long and bitter and helpless as an injured animal does when caught in a trap and left to die. Allen never spoke of it.

    She never returned to the farmhouse again. She died in the hospital 12 days later. Her name was Hester. She was my grandmother.

    Lookee Me!

    August 26, 2006

    Yesterday my blog traffic sky rocketed and so did my spirits which heretofore had been broiled, grilled, blackened and served up Cajun-style by the summer heat.

    Jcougar_2After I checked my site meter referrals did some investigative research using my deductive reasoning and sleuthing skills, I discovered that I had won the prestigeous and “totally important and not-fake JCMHSGBAOE” award which is short for the John Cougar Mellencamp Hurts So Good Blog Award of Excellence given out by the fabulous Amalah over at Club Mom.

    And you know what the real honor is? That I was nominated by Veronica Mitchell of Toddled Dredge — a truly excellent writer with substantial things to say. Thanks Veronica!

    Some Assembly (And Tequila) Required

    August 25, 2006

    We are officially in the dead of summer here in Texas.

    My flip flops have melted into the pavement like bubble gum. What the mole hasn’t destroyed of my lawn, the sun has burnt beyond recognition. I can barely stand the sight of my shorts and tank tops that I couldn’t wait to wear back in April. I have soured on summer. I am ready to break up with summer. If summer were my boyfriend, I would beat him to death with my electric bill. The thrill of summer is gone folks.

    Because it has been so miserable outside, Sean and I have been spending a lot of time indoors together. A lot of time indoors together. Which has given us both a bad case of cabin fever, the primary symptom of which is repeating ones self. Repeating ones self.

    One afternoon last week, in a state of Freon-induced dementia, I decided to get out our Ryan’s RoomTent3_1 Mambo Combo Tent Playhouse and assemble it in the den in an effort to occupy and amuse my child thus alleviating the symptoms of cabin fever and so that I might avoid cannibalizing my child for yet another day. Although my precious little spawn is mighty tasty – a little like cheese enchiladas.

    In my mind, my very tiny blonde mind, I imagined my child sitting quietly and patiently nearby assisting me in the construction of Ryan’s Room, handing me the little white framing tubes upon request like a surgical nurse. Delusion is another symptom of cabin fever. Another symptom.

    What Ryan doesn’t tell you about his stupid room is that the assembly of the 147 parts requires an advanced engineering degree, the flexibility of a Chinese acrobat and the patience of Mother Teresa. I have none of these things.

    Because I am a methodical person when delusional, I dumped out all the parts and sorted them putting all parts of similar shape and size together. Because Sean is also methodical, he resorted all parts of similar shape and size into one big pile, which he stuffed into the bowels of the sofa. Yet, I managed to assemble one whole tent frame without losing it. Too much. It was a feat of engineering and personal restraint.

    As I stood back to admire my work, Antique Daddy walked through and asked how I planned to get the frame inside the nylon tent form. Some people are so annoyingly logical. Of course I had a plan. My plan was to curse Ryan and his room and his tents and his mother and father. Then I would locate the nylon tent form, which Sean had filled with Brio train tracks and taken somewhere. Then I would disassemble the frame, afterwhich I would wedge my antique behind into the flaccid boneless yet cheerfully colored tent form and finally I would reconstruct the frame from the inside. Right after I remembered where I last put the Tequila.

    So I disassembled the frame, resorted the parts, crawled into the deflated tent and asked Sean to hand me one of the long white plastic rods, labeled A so that I might begin constructing our afternoon of summer fun. As I stuck my hand out to receive Part A, I felt Part A beating me on top the head. Beating me on top the head. And then I lost it. I tried to get out of the tent and have a word about respect with the boy, but I was trapped like an angry cat in a pillow case.

    And then I realized I was craving a Margarita and cheese enchiladas.

    Socializing In Tuna

    August 24, 2006

    The fifth installment in a series that looks at life in a small town in Texas.

    Never let it be said there is nothing to do in Tuna. Between the funerals and hospitalizations, the fun just never stops. Here’s a typical day:

    6am – Get up. Read newspaper and check obituaries.

    7am – Drive to Whataburger and drink coffee with the cronies. Talk about a) who died this week and b) who is in the hospital and fixin’ to die. Discuss what to eat for lunch. Describe in detail what you ate for dinner last night.

    9am – Go home and bake a cake to bring to the hospital for the people in group b.

    10am – Arrive at the hospital with cake. Joy ride in the hospitality golf cart. Try to get free medical advice from anyone wearing scrubs who happens to pass by.

    11am – Reconvene with Whataburger cronies in the hospital waiting room and enjoy cake and free hospital coffee.

    12am – Break for lunch at Aunt Clydes. Talk about what you would like to eat for dinner tonight. Round table discussion on what everyone ate for breakfast.

    1pm – Go home and put on funeral leisure suit with clip-on tie and dress cowboy boots.

    2pm – Attend funeral and post funeral feeding with cronies.

    4pm – Meet cronies for dinner at Furr’s Cafeteria. Discuss what to eat for breakfast in the morning. Reminisce about what you ate for lunch.

    6pm – Get home in time for Wheel of Fortune.

    7pm – Call all the cronies to make sure no one died since Wheel of Fortune.

    8pm – Go to bed.

    Partyanimals_3The Tuna Social Committee

    Hungy for more Tuna?  Check out Best of Antique Mommy.

    The Broccoli Police

    August 23, 2006

    BroccoliI am so bummed. I just figured out that motherhood is mostly about trying to get people to eat stuff they don’t want to eat. It hit me the other day when:

    – I overheard myself saying, “No dessert for you dude until you eat some of those vegetables.” (This from someone who ate Raspberry Zingers out of a vending machine for breakfast all through her 20s.)
    – I noticed broccoli and bran were where the Cheetos should have been in my shopping cart.
    – I found myself reading package labels for fiber content.
    – I found it interesting
    – I spent half a morning devising ways to trick people into eating broccoli and bran.

    And it left me with the following questions:

    – When did I become the broccoli police?
    – How can I hide broccoli in a Raspberry Zinger?

    Vacation Planning Just Got Easier

    August 22, 2006

    This past weekend, we took a few days off and took Sean to Sea World in San Antonio. The rides! The shows! Shamu! The $3 bottled water!


    And Sean’s favorite attraction? The candy-cane posts! That was definitely worth the five hour drive and $50 admission. I think on our next vacation, we’ll just go to the mall parking lot and let him play with the parking blocks.

    Crackers of The Rich and Famous

    August 21, 2006

    A while back, I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who lived in the neighborhood where I grew up. When he said he always thought our family was rich, I nearly fell out of my chair.  I couldn’t believe it.

    Having grown up wearing hand-me-downs and living in a more than 75-year-old-house with one bathroom no bigger than a broom closet, I can’t think of one thing about our house or our family that would lend that impression.  But then again, he was one of nine kids, so maybe from his perspective we did have a lot more.  With only three kids, so we certainly had more room.

    However, the family across the street from us lived in a three-bedroom, one-bath 1950’s bungalow style orange brick house. They had four girls, some older and some younger than me, so I played at their house quite a bit.

    Occasionally their mom would give us a snack — sometimes strawberries that she had grown in her garden or (cue choir of angels) Keebler Club crackers – or what I called Rich People Crackers.  Crispy and buttery and oh so decadent!  My mom bought store brand saltines.  I grew up thinking that all you had to do to be rich was live in a brick house and buy Keebler Club crackers.

    I left that neighborhood more than twenty-five years ago to seek my fortune.  I landed in Texas in the era JR and excess.  I spent my 20s and part of my 30s in pursuit of the expensive things I loved and that the advertisers wanted me to love.  I attained most of things I chased and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

    But now that I’m in my mid-40s and the mother of a two-year-old, those material things hold no allure for me anymore. And in many ways I even find them burdensome.

    What I really enjoy in this season of my life is living in my brick house with my little family, going to the pantry and finding a box of Rich People Crackers.  I guess I am rich.

    What did you think it meant to be rich when you were growing up?