Thursday, June 30, 2005

5 for 5

I need to get serious. I can't deny it anymore. I can't put it off any longer. My diet and fitness need to improve and I need to drop this extra weight. NOW! I'm proud of myself for exercising regularly. I've worked out at least twice a week for months and months. It hasn't been enough. So this past week I've stepped it up. I've worked out everyday for the past 5 days. I've either run 3 miles or gone lap swimming (my favorite exercise). It's a good start. I've been more tired in the evenings as a result, but it's a decent trade-off. I'm just so sick of my mid-section being so fat and flabby! Really, it grosses me out. And I KNOW it grosses Mr. Chick out (he told me so, remember? Yeah, that was fun to hear.) My figure looks more like Lauren's than it ought to.

So I'm improving the exercise thing. Check. Now I need to get my diet under control. For some reason I can't shake my craving for all things sweet. Must.have.sugar! Or cheese. Cheese will satisfy my craving. All the things that should be eaten in moderation are my total downfall. Really, I'm not much of a snacker. That's not my issue. My issue is portion control and limiting my intake of sweets and crap in general. I eat too much cheese. Instead of just having half a bagel at breakfast I have the whole damn thing. With an egg and cheese, of course. I've been trying to eat more salads for lunch instead of a sandwich or whatever. Salads tend to bore me. And I've been really good about only having one helping at dinner, but it's usually something with lots of carbs.... And all these birthday parties lately - who can say no to having a piece of birthday cake?? Certainly not me. So I'm good in so many ways, and then sabotage myself with my diet. It's hard. I don't feel like I'm totally out of control, but I definitely need to get it in gear and lose this extra 20lbs. 20lbs - so doable and yet it feels unreachable or insurmountable.

In an effort to keep it real, I humbly submit the following candid photos I took of myself this morning. Very raw, very unflattering. Too bad I don't know how to retouch my image - ha! It's more of a reality check for myself than anything else. God I have a big ass! And my tummy - yikes. Those have always been my "problem" areas. My tummy is way worse since having had the kids. Sad but true. So here I am, revealed. I should have "dressed for the occasion" by wearing something more flattering, but this is how you would see me if you ran into me at the park today. So there. Hopefully these photos can be used as the "before" pics someday when I achieve official HOTTIE status again.

Me from the front

Me from the front wearing my swimsuit. Pardon the flash streaks...

side view in swimsuit. My D cups look almost non-existant here...

side view with clothes. Poochy belly, big butt and all.

The rear view. I thankfully don't have any fat rolls on my back, but my butt/hips - ! Oh my. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Strange Dreams

Lately I've been having some weird dreams. I know this is not unusual - most people have strange dreams. I think dreams, by definition, are mostly strange. But I don't regularly remember my dreams. They're there for a microsecond when I begin to wake up and then poof! They're gone, never to be recalled. But for the past several nights I've actually been able to remember the dream I was having when I woke up. And they've all been about Mr. Chick and something bad he does or is doing (in the dream, not in reality). It's bizarre.

In one dream a few nights ago, Mr. Chick and I were on some bed - not ours - just hanging out while there was a party happening or something. I'm not sure. Then this girl comes in and I immediately distrust her yet am strangely drawn to her as well (attracted?). Mr. Chick seems to like her (duh!). She starts flirting with Mr. Chick and he's flirting back and I get pissed. I leave the room but find myself outside the house (no house I recognize). I sneak back down to the window of the room where Mr. Chick is and knock on the window. He pops up, looking slightly guilty but grinning happily, saying that he's learning how to give good oral. I'm hurt and angry that he'd do that and tell him to leave and come with me or it's over, yet find myself intrigued and wonder if I should go back so I could learn, too. And then I wake up.

The other strange dream I have had to do with Mr. Chick becoming a smoker. Yuck! He's smoking and enjoying it and I'm disgusted and give the ultimatum: quit now or it's over. I tell him that smoking is a deal-breaker for me. He just laughs, tells me I'm overreacting, and keeps on smoking. And then I wake up.

What's up with these dreams?? In both of them I tell Mr. Chick to quit doing what he's doing or it's over, and in both he doesn't stop, choosing instead to continue with the "vice" and leaving me hanging out to dry. Does anyone put any stock into dream analysis? I wonder what my subconscious is telling me? In our waking hours Mr. Chick is his same attentive self. I don't have any concerns about him during the daylight. But at night? At night I seem to fear him leaving me or something. I've never once threatened to leave him if he didn't stop doing something, but I'm doing that in my dreams. Any suggestions?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Dad Who Doesn't Get It

So I've had some coffee and some time to really wake up today. I was chatting with a friend on the phone and telling her about the birthday party we attended yesterday. She has a couple of daughters and this party was for a BOY - no girls allowed, apparently, despite the fact that the moms are all friends.

The friends I hang with are all SAHM's and we do stuff with the kids, mostly. That's our primary social interaction. Daytime stuff to keep the kids occupied and let us interract with other adults. It's all good. But as a result, most of us aren't too familiar with each other's spouses beyond forming the impressions one does when one hears about a person. Y'know, one of us will either bitch about or brag about something our husband recently did, and that tidbit gets noted and added to the overall impression you get of that spouse. We don't get our entire families together all that often, if at all. We'll have Moms Nite Out or something, but usually the husbands aren't interracting with this group of lady friends.

The husband of my friend who had this birthday party was, of course, present at the party (unlike Mr. Chick, who sadly had to miss Nicholas's party because of the stupid Bar Review. Blech!). I have met this guy before on several occasions, but only briefly. I have heard a TON about him from my friend, his wife, but haven't had a lot of personal experiences with the guy to truly form my own opinion of him. I know he's older (in his 40's - gasp!), an only-child who was raised in NYC, and a fierce Democrat. He bans TV in his home and plays chess. He mostly rides his bike vs. car whenever he can. As a couple they've been going to marriage counseling and have vastly different views of how to parent their children. And now I can add "The Dad Who Doesn't Get It" to my list of stuff I know about him.

Maybe it's because he's a guy. Maybe it's because he didn't get to go to many parties as a kid. Maybe it's because he's just odd. I don't know. But I DO know that he totally and completely threw off the rhythm of the party more than once. There is a certain flow to kids' birthday parties. A delicate timing of activities, food, and general play time. A good hostess will keep his/her finger on the pulse of the party and gauge the best time to start the next game or activity. They will be certain to keep things moving along so everyone can get out of there on time without having felt rushed. But this guy? He clearly doesn't understand the nuances of kid party hosting. He kept screwing stuff up. Had I been his wife he would have been on the receiving end of many dirty looks and not-so-subtle explanations about why he needs to quit interferring.

To elaborate, the party was held in the afternoon at a local park. There were something like 7 or 8 four-year-olds in attendance, plus a few younger siblings (not Lauren, thank God!), and parents. There was a playground, of course, and lots and lots of sand. Good times for the kids. The party had only one game/activity planned: a pinata. Otherwise, it was just general playtime, cake & ice cream, and gift opening. The usual. So we get there and the kids are all off and playing on the playground happily. Not everyone had even arrived yet - 2 guests were still MIA - but this guy suddenly starts calling to all the kids to come and do the pinata. We'd been there maybe 10 min. Pinata already? Why not wait for everyone to get there so ALL the kids can participate in the ONLY activity? Of course the kids came running and clamoring to get in line for their turn to whack the shit out of the pinata. This guy is handing the first kid the bat while his wife is now scrambling to find all the bags that the kids will need to hold all their candy once the pinata breaks. He had no forethought. Bags? Oh yeah, bags. So the kids proceed to make short work of the pinata and candy and crap spills out all over the grass and it's a mad scramble to collect all you can. Nicholas is a master at this, by the way. He filled his bag in record time. I had to pull him away in order to let all the kids get a equal share of the booty. Except that a couple of kids were still not there and now this crazy dad is on his hands and knees collecting candy and stuff and filling bags for the missing kids. I didn't feel bad for him AT ALL. Should have waited, jackass. The kids were all playing just fine and would have been happy to wait a little bit before hitting the pinata.

The parents were all standing about chatting when suddenly The Dad starts running to the playground. Apparently he saw a couple of the kids about to mix it up. Tempers were starting to flare and he was going to intervene. This would have been OK, except that neither of the kids involved were his (or mine - good boy, Nicholas!), and the parents of both the kids were there. It felt a little weird to have him sprint down there like a full-on knock down, drag out brawl was happening and not let the parents of the kids handle it themselves. He's down there giving the kids a "talking to" as their parents are still making their way to the scene. It was just odd. It didn't seem like his place.

And finally, as the birthday boy was opening his gifts, The Dad decides to get the bundle of helium balloons - all of which were a different color - and interrupt the gift opening to start handing them out. Each kid suddenly noticed that the balloons were being passed out and they clamored around him shouting out which color they each wanted. It was chaos. And his own kid is now sitting by himself still opening the last couple of gifts. The rhythm was totally blown. The Wife had previously told the kids, when they first spied the balloons, that they would each get one when the party was over but that they wouldn't necessarily get to select the color they wanted. They would get whichever balloon they got - end of story. But now her lovely husband interrupts the gift opening time and is letting the kids dictate which color they get, and of course some are getting upset because they didn't get their preferred color, and a few accidentally let go of their balloon, and it was just a mess. He screwed it all up. Everything was going along fine until he gets involved.

Now I totally understand why my friend had suggested marriage counseling. There is NO WAY I could live with that guy. I'd kill him. It's clear he doesn't get it. Doesn't listen to his wife very well, and seems to be impossible to communicate with. Yeah, I'd kill him. He just SO doesn't get it.

Our "Incredible" weekend

It's a rainy Monday and I have nothing particular to post about. Nothing. It was a good, but busy, weekend. I think I'm still recovering and that's why my brain is turned off this morning.
In a nutshell, Nicholas's birthday party went very well. For a small party, it seemed big and very chaotic at times. I guess that happens when each party guest also brings along a little sister and a mom. I spent the morning using the party as the excuse I needed to get my house all cleaned up. I had plenty of time. Nicholas was amped for the party and woke up at the ungodly hour of 6am, inquiring at my bedside if it was "morning time yet and time for my party??" "umm, NO. The party isn't for another 5 HOURS. Go back to sleep." But alas, my son was too wired to sleep anymore so we were up and at 'em wwaaaayyy too early for my liking. I shit you not when I tell you that Nicholas and I were at the grocery store to get the helium-filled balloons and ice cream BEFORE 7am. I don't think I've ever been in a grocery store that early in my life. UG.

The kids all had fun and I don't think there were any mishaps. I was able to keep things rolling along through the various activities and such. After everyone left the clean-up was easy and the kids crashed. So did I. I LOVE napping on the couch on a weekend! We had another party the next day at a local park and that was fun, too. But by the end of the day we were all beat and no one felt much like cooking dinner. So the kids had microwaved hotdogs, reheated rice and black beans. Gourmet, no? I'm not sure what Mr. Chick ate - something leftover, probably, and I dined at 8:30pm on a can of turkey chili. Oh yes, we went all out. Wanna come over for dinner sometime?

Since the camera was handy for the birthday party I snapped a few this weekend. I'll leave you with this nothing post, on a rainy Monday, with a few pictures from the weekend. They are more entertaining than I am.

The birthday cake I made. It turned out pretty good, I thought, and was delicious! You can't see the sprinkles that were all over the side. Very festive, if I do say so myself. Throwing, literally throwing to get them to stick, those sprinkles on the SIDE of a cake and not getting any on the top was a feat, I tell you!

Nicholas all dressed up for the party in his new superhero cape and mask. He looks INCREDIBLE (ha!)

Hey Nicholas - how old are you?

Random pic of my kids. This is a pretty typical pose for them as they watch TV flopped over the couch together. CLOSE together. Lauren is always up in Nick's business like that. She loves him fiercely and doesn't allow him much breathing room.

A close up of their feet. I don't know why I like this shot, but I do.

The front view of the kids as they watch TV. Yes, our TV is BEHIND the short end of our sectional couch. I don't like the TV being the central focal point of the room, so the kids have to sit backwards on the couch to see it. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Nicholas!

Today is Nicholas's 4th birthday! Happy Birthday!! His arrival in my life changed everything. He was born at 8:30am and weighed 9lbs, 1oz. I had a long-ass labor and delivery (26 hrs of labor, including 3 hrs of pushing which ended up requiring the use of the vacuum extractor thingy and an episiotomy to get his face-up self out. Stinker.) Thank God for pain-killing drugs is all I can say. He really wasn't the cutest baby, but he became cuter as he got older. I have eyes, I know this. Today I think he's one of the most attractive kids in the bunch, and one of the best-mannered (he's very good about remembering his "pleases", "thank you's" "may I's" and "excuse me's"). He was my affectionately-labelled "velcro baby" because he demanded to be held all the time, and he's still very cuddly today. He probably always will be, and I love that. He was dramatic from day one. I will someday appreciate this trait but it is still a trial for me. I'm thinking it will pay off when he's an adolescent and will still wear his emotions on his sleeve and therefore won't be able to hide anything from me. I'll be able to read him like a book. He started to suck his thumb around 5 mos old and continues today. He has a very special blankie and reminds me of the Peanuts character Linus when he cuddles up with it and sucks his thumb. It's adorable. Peer-pressure is what is going to have to get him to quit the thumb-sucking. It's an automatic reflex at this point and is tied to Blankie and being tired. It's like some people with cigarettes: they're not smokers unless they have a few cocktails and then they just GOTTA have a cigarette. Anyway, my boy is 4 and no longer a baby. Here are a few pictures of him from each year of his life:

Nicholas just a few days old.

Nicholas @ 2 weeks. This was the picture we used for his birth announcement. My big boy!

Nicholas @ 6 mos. A very happy, very bald, baby.

Nicholas is 1 year old! Still bald, still not walking.

Nicholas @ 18 mos. Hard to believe Lauren is older than this now.

Nicholas at 2 years old. Going to see Blue's Clues LIVE!

Nicholas @ 2 years old. He looks tan here - could he really be my child?? I'm as white and pink and freckled as they come. He got himself into that garbage can without tipping it over. Impressive!

Nicholas @ 3 years old. Not a baby anymore. He looks like a BOY now.

Nicholas @ 3.5 yrs old. Showing off his trademarked "smile for the camera" look - the slightly crooked grin. I think he'll grow to be a very handsome man.

Nicholas @ 4 yrs old (ok, 4 days shy of his actual birthday but trust me, he looks the same today). What a kid!

I love you, Nicholas. Happy Birthday!!
Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Penis Milk

Another funny from the Nicholas file:

We were driving in the car the other day. A long drive. Past various pastures and such where you are likely to see all manner of livestock. Nicholas was starting to whine and give me the typical, "Are we there yet?? How much longer??" routine. The one I love so much. Music to any parents' ears. So in desperation I told him to keep an eye out for cows and to tell me when he saw a cow. This trick/diversion used to work so much better a year ago and is quickly losing it's appeal for my almost-4-yr-old .

"Hey Mama, when I see a cow and if I'm thirsty, could we pull over so I could get some milk?"

"Well, Nicholas, probably not. We'd have to go to a dairy farm to get milk right from the cows."

"But Maaaammmaaa, I want to drink milk from the cows penis!"

"umm - what??! No, milk doesn't come from penises. GIRL cows are the ones who make milk, and it comes from something called udders."

"Are udders girl penises? I want to drink milk from them!"

Gotta love my boy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What I'm Up Against - The Ridiculous Housing Market

It's bad all over. I know this - I read the papers. I'm plugged in. But it seems especially bad in Portland. What am I griping about? The skyrocketing price of real estate, of course. Duh. Maybe it's because that's where I'm from and where I hope to return to, but the cost to buy a home in Portland is out of control. Seriously out of control.

I actually really like the home buying process. I love looking at homes and the nervous excitement that comes when you think you've found the perfect home and put in an offer. Will it be accepted?? What will they come back to us with? I'm sick like that. I'm not such a fan of the selling process or the moving process, but I'll take the bad with the good. I think I must have been a real estate agent in a former life.

In a dramatic statement of my adulthood ("I'm all grown up now, see? I don't need to be married! Ha!") I bought a cute little house all by myself back in 1996. It was small but surprisingly spacious at the same time: 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, indoor laundry/storage/mudroom, hardwood floors - the works. It was post-war construction (when they did it right) built in 1950, I think. It had a whopping 950 square feet and I paid $96k for it. It was yellow with white shutters. No garage. I loved it. The neighborhood was "in transition" (code for emerging ghetto), but I felt safe and I was very proud of myself. I had arrived in the world of the responsible adults.

2 years later Mr. Chick finally got around to proposing (we'd been dating 6 yrs by then!) and he, too, owned his own home. We agreed that we should both sell our houses and buy one together as married people vs. one of us moving into the others' place. I sold my little bungalow, having done nothing to it other than live in it, for $107.5k - a nice little profit in just 2 years. Mr. Chick also did well with his place. So the hunt was on for a new place at the same time as the wedding plans (we got engaged an married within 6 months). We found just what we were looking for: a 2-story contemporary/traditional home with 3 bdrms, 2.5 baths, a formal living and dining room, a kitchen w/ an eating nook and a family room off the kitchen. It had a laundry room and a 2-car garage on a big-ass corner lot with a view of the mountain. We paid $189k for it. When we decided to go to law school 4 years later (2002) we sold it For Sale By Owner for $221k. Not a great return, but it was what it was.

In Eugene we expected the housing market to be much more affordable. We were so wrong! This shocked us. The cost of housing here is nearly as bad as the cost of housing in Portland, but the wages in Eugene seemed lower. So really, in many ways, Eugene is MORE expensive. And we moved here when there was a big shortage of real estate. We were downsizing to prepare for student life and a tight budget. We didn't want to spend more than $150k on a house. That didn't give us many options. We ended up putting in offers on a couple of places and losing out because a bid war would start and we'd get priced out quickly. It was stressful. I finally found the house we have on a total fluke. I was out with an agent to look and knew the area I liked. We were driving down the street randomly and happened to spot a For Sale sign in the yard. It's a cute house, but small. We were surprised that it didn't turn up in her search - how could such a small place be more than $150K?? Maybe it only had 2 bedrooms or something. So we called - from the driveway. Turns out the sign had gone up only 10 hrs before and the house hadn't even hit the MLS yet. The asking price was $151k and it had 3 bedrooms. So we called the owners who let us come in to see it right away. I made a full price offer on the place that day - Mr. Chick never saw it before we officially bought it. Thankfully our offer was accepted and we moved in a month later.

Now it's 3 years since moving in and it's nearly time to think about moving out. We can't stay in Eugene - there aren't job opportunitites for Mr. Chick here. We hope to return to Portland. Sooo... being the freak that I am, I'm always keeping my finger on the pulse of real estate there. It is utterly ridiculous what the price of houses has done in our absence. I mean, it's BAD. Skyrocketing asking prices and bids being offered for even more. There are more buyers in the market than sellers, so sellers are getting whatever they want for their homes. Mr. Chick has a SWEET job interview today in Portland. I'm totally getting ahead of myself by projecting where we'll be if he gets an offer. I've done some searching to see what we can expect. Oh.My.God - ! Who can afford to buy a house anymore? Seriously. I don't want a mansion! I don't need all the fancy top-of-the-line features! I just want a decent, comfortable home in a good area with acceptable schools and a manageable commute. At a minimum we need 3 bedrooms. 4 would be better. I want at least 2 bathrooms, but 2.5 would be ideal. I'd like to have more than 2000 sq.ft. but would be ok with 1800 (I've been living in 1200 and that is too damn small with 2 kids, IMHO). I'd like a big kitchen and a formal dining room (I LOVE dining rooms!). A flat, usable yard would be good. My wish list is long, but my must-have list is short. I'm not scared of having to make cosmetic changes/updates. Major remodels? - that's another story. There are many nice suburbs in the Portland area we are willing to consider, mostly south. A quick search of those areas gave me serious sticker shock. Behold:

Totally my style: traditional/colonial. In fact, in looks like the same house I grew up in! But it's $300k for 4 bedrooms and 1966 sq.ft. That's actually decent in this market, if you can believe it!

This number also has 4 bedrooms and 2120 sq. ft., but the asking price is $320k! Yikes.

I really like the red door and dormer windows of this one. It has 4 bedrooms and 2389 sq.ft. and the price tag is a staggering $320k. Gulp!

This baby looks impressive, but it only has 3 bedrooms, 2162 sq.ft. and the asking price is $350k. Is that ridiculous or what??!

So can you see what I'm up against?? We're in trouble. Admittedly, these are very nice homes. They're upper middle-class. Surburban neighborhoods. There are many that are not so nice and are going for even more money. Fixer-uppers in sketchy areas. These are just a sampling of homes that appeal to me. We will make more than we should on our little house here (again, the market in Eugene has remained good for sellers and people are getting whatever they ask for their homes.) We'll be able to get $200k or thereabouts for our little place. That blows me away. But we'll need it if we have any hope of buying a house in Portland. Can you say house-poor?? We would like to stay under $300k but that might be hard to do. Depending on how much he'll make as a starting new attorney, we may not have a choice. It's hard to feel like you're going backwards, but that's how fast the market is moving. We can afford less today than we could before law school (most likely). Say it with me: Real Estate Bubble. And oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, Oregon doesn't have a sales tax. That's right, no sales tax. (Do your shopping here!). So to make up for it our property taxes are super-high. The taxes on these home would be in excess of $4000/year. That really makes a big difference on your monthly mortgage payment....

I probably sound selfish for griping about *only* being able to afford a house in the $200k - $300k range. I fully recognize that that is a shitload of money. A quarter of a million, in fact. I know we're fortunate. Mr. Chick and I made some good, sound investments in our early days when we were D.I.N.K.'s (double-income, no kids) and both working well-paid, professional jobs. Now I stay home full-time (for now) and we're trying to make it on one income. We've protected ourselves financially and have made a lot of sacrifices. We've been living on less than $30k/yr during law school. It's just hard to see what you want and see it slip further away because of a silly housing boom. I also know that everything is skewed regionally. What might be considered high-priced here is a damn good deal somewhere else. But it's all relative, right? And if things in the real estate market keep going the way they're going we're going to have to move in with our relatives just to have a roof over our heads. Ha!

Keep your fingers crossed for Mr. Chick and his interview today. All of my worrying will be for naught if it goes well.Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

Summertime Fun in the Backyard

We're seeing some summer sunshine around here and the kids played in the backyard for a bit this afternoon. Fun Fun! We cobbled together a makeshift slip-n-slide and had fun with the garden hose. Of course, the kids were nudie - is there any better way to play with water in your own backyard? I didn't think so, either. Don't worry, the photos were cropped to protect the innocent.

Nicholas being a goof with the hose and the slide. Trouble!

Little Funny Face in the sunhat! Check the gap between her front teeth. When she's famous it'll be her trademark. Either that or our orthodontia (sp?) bill will be less because she has extra room for the enormous permanent teeth she's bound to get. It's all good.

Lauren taking a breather from all that playing in the sunshine. Can you see her "cafe au lait" birthmark on her tummy just above her belly button? Nicholas has a matching one, just a bit lower on his tummy. What's weird? Neither Mr. Chick or I have any birthmarks, yet our kids get nearly identical ones. Hmmm....

Lauren playing with the hose. Is there any bettter toy in the backyard?? Poor thing has inherited my thighs as well as my blue eyes . It's a family curse (the thighs, that is. LOVE the blue eyes!). My mom and sister have started to (privately) refer to her as "J.Lo, Jr." Yeah, my baby got back.Posted by Hello

"I Changed My Mind"

This is the response elicited from Nicholas every time he's asked about his upcoming birthday party. "I changed my mind". "What??!" is the usual reply most of us Grown-Up's utter. "I changed my mind. I wanted a Dora party but I changed my mind and now I'm having an Incredibles birthday party." My almost-4-year-old is hyper-excited (dare I say SUPER excited? Pun very intended) about his party. He is beside himself with anticipation, and this is wearing on my every last nerve. He insists on "checking out it" (small word order issue here) the bag that contains the party gear, and will lovingly, reverently lay out every package of Incredibles paper plates, cups and napkins we purchased last week. He'll do this all day long if I let him. And he gets PISSED OFF if Lauren dares to touch any of this precious booty (more on "booty" at the end of this post, btw). More than a few tears have been shed by both of them over these stupid paper products. Nicholas is very protective of his party gear. You've been warned.

What's funny in an odd way about his obsession with the plates and cups is that my mom, just this weekend when I was in town, made 5 super-hero capes, in red polyester double-knit, each with it's own personalized initial of the first name of each kid coming to his party. How cool is that??! To get your own super-hero cape as a party favor?? (Each cape ended up costing me only about $2 each - cheap!) Come ON! But my son has barely noticed his new red cape with the big yellow "N" on it. No, he'd rather study the cups that have pictures of The Incredibles on them. He's an odd duck, my Nicholas. I think I'm more psyched about the capes and am really looking forward to giving them to the kids and watching them wear them (along with the black eye masks, of course). Maybe I should have asked my mom to make one with a big "M" on it for Mama.

The game we're playing at the party is a bit of a stretch. I mean that literally and figuratively. I got the idea off the internet: Play Twister, but call it the Elastigirl game, and tell the kids that they'll need to strrreeetcchh like Elastigirl to reach the colored circles with their hands and feet. The kid who can stretch the most and is the last one to fall wins. As it happens, we own Twister (of course!). Nicholas has never seen the game before but is BIG into games right now. I mean big. So I told him about the game and he's been hassling me to play the damn game ever since. My bad. So now, like literally right this second as I type this, he's finally getting his chance to peek at the game for the first time. It's the only way for me to get him off my back for a minute so I can get this post done. He's mesmerized. I can hear him talking himself through it in the other room. "This is the spinner. You spin it like this." Oh yeah, it's a hit already. If I'm able to score the Incredibles pinata the party store says they'll get in in time I'll REALLY be SuperMom. I think he'll faint dead away if he gets the Incredibles coloring pages, all the Incredibles paper products he so loves, the super capes and masks, an Incredibles game AND a pinata. His brain will surely explode.

And to wrap up my entry on my funny kid I'll share a booty comment he made to me this weekend when we were all in the hottub together. Naked, of course. A big happy naked family sitting in the hottub on the morning of Father's Day (it was my gift to Mr. Chick - ha!) We're about to get out of the tub and Nicholas swims over to me and starts asking if he can "check your booties for milk". I look at him as if he has 3 heads and ask, "booties?" (it was early still). So he starts to playfully slap/tap my boobs to make them jiggle and says, "yeah, your booties. Is there still milk in them? Can I check?"

"Umm, NO, there is no milk left in them and you don't need to check. Trust me."

"But Mmmmoooommm (whining), I want to see. Can I just do a little check, puhhleeesseee??" (now tweaking my nipple)

"Nicholas, no. There is no milk in my boobies, not booties, and you absolutely cannot check. Time to get out NOW"

Meanwhile, Mr. Chick is grinning like a proud papa and willingly claims that he (Nicholas) gets it from him. Duh.

Friday, June 17, 2005

My New Best Friend

A lingering benefit from law school arrived in the mail the other day: my new coffee maker! We got this pretty little thing FREE from a law school-related website where you earn points and can redeem them for various items. Mr. Chick got my new Coach purse this way, too. Anyway, I'm please to introduce my new best friend: The Braun AromaDeluxe coffee maker, in white.

Ain't she pretty?? This sucker is programmable, people. I know this is archaic for most of you, but for me? Heaven on Earth. Our old coffee maker dated back to the dark ages of 1992. It simply had an on/off switch. No bells and whistles. It was a workhorse and was still functioning when our new baby arrived. So really, I don't want to diss the elderly. But I'm just so tickled with the new one I could pee my pants. It has a Brita filter to keep my water all sparkly! It has a gold filter so I no longer have to buy paper ones! It makes my coffee for me in the morning and automatically shuts off. Lord knows I can't trust my addled Mommy brain to remember to shut the damn coffee pot off and I have been known to leave in the morning and return in the afternoon to a house filled with the scent of still-on coffee. Smells good, tastes like shit. Plus it's not the safest practice, y'know? So now I don't have to stress my dwindling brain cells to remember such trivial things - it has a microchip brain smarter than mine and does it for me. Hooray! And best of all? It keeps my coffee hotter than my old one. I hate nearly tepid coffee. I could guzzle several cups before because I had to drink them fast or they'd be cold in a heartbeat. Not so with my new best friend! It keeps the coffee hot so I have to actually sip my coffee. Each cup lasts so much longer this way! I'm like a new woman, I swear. So now I rise from my bed, the graceful, fully rested goddess that I am in the mornings (ha!) and glide down my hallway to my kitchen (more like bounce off the walls in a stupor to avoid stepping on painful toys left on the floor - you know the drill), and find a full pot of glorious coffee just waiting for me. Could there be anything better than that? I don't have to do a thing except pour a cup and sit down to drink it (usually propping open my eyelids and hoping the first sip of the coffee kills whatever funkiness is happening in my mouth and cursing the cheerful songs emanating from the morning cartoons the kids are watching). After a cup or two of my filtered coffee I'm ready to take on the kids and whatever the day throws my way. Because we ALL know that filtered water makes all the difference, right??! Yeah, right.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Birthday Bonanza

I just checked the trusty calendar I keep magneted (new word?) to my refridgerator and it dawned on me that I'm approaching "Kid Birthday Party Fest '05". Seriously, I think more kids must have birthdays in summer than any other season. I'm going to be blowing serious cash supporting all these parties with all the gifts and travel involved. Sigh. I have parties stacked up like airplanes at a major airport in bad weather.

It all starts this weekend with Father's Day and a 3 year old birthday party. I know, Father's Day is not a birthday party technically, but a gift-giving occasion regardless. I'm always at a loss as to what to give the men in my life. They're just harder to buy for, don't you think? I took an easy way out this year and got both my dad and Mr. Chick gift certificates for music downloads. Easy. The 3 year old (to be) is Mr. Chick's Goddaughter, the daughter of one of his best friends. The party is up in the Portland area - a 2 hour drive. And of course Mr. Chick can't attend due to the overwhelming amount of studying he has to do. So it's me and the kids flying solo. I like the parents, but is it wrong of me to admit I don't like the birthday girl? It's hard to imagine not liking a child, but this child is hard to like, trust me. Very spoiled and indulged. Coddled. She's a diva who whines incessantly. She acts much younger than she is. Hell, Lauren at 19 mos acts older than she does. This child is just not my favorite little girl in the world so it's hard to get excited about her birthday. Sick, aren't I? I wouldn't go, except that I want to represent our family for Mr. Chick since this is his best friend and all. Plus, they have an older son who is 4.5 yrs and he and Nicholas get along fabulously, so the boys will have fun together, if nothing else. Can the price of gas I'm shelling out to get to the party be considered gift enough, do you think?

The following weekend is Nicholas's birthday party on Saturday. My first baby will be 4! Wow. He has chosen The Incredibles as his party theme this year. For awhile there I really thought we'd have our 3rd Blue's Clues party. Then it was Dora - he was hot to trot about a Dora party. But at the last minute he changed his mind and settled on The Incredibles. He's invited 4 friends to his party. It's going to be low-key - I'm not planning a big to-do. Just 4 kids, their little sisters (all the kids have little sisters close to Lauren's age - cute!), and their moms. I'm bringing in a pizza for lunch. Small gift bags for the kids, which will include black masks to wear during the party, balloons, which will entertain the baby girls, a game of some sort, and a pinata. Of course a cake & ice cream, too. Simple. Pray for good weather so I can have the party in the backyard vs. the living room..... In addition to Nick's party on Saturday I get to make a shitload of cupcakes for him to take to his preschool class the Thursday before. We're keeping Nicholas in school during the summer.

The day after Nicholas's fiesta is the party of one of the kids that will be a guest at Nicholas's party. We're just trading off. The boys have been friends and in a playgroup together since they were 15 months old. Then the weekend after that, which technically is July, is the party of another boy who is turning 5 and has a vacuum obsession. He's an odd kid. He saved up his own money for a long, long time and guess what he chose to spend it on? A steam vac. They have hardwood floors and don't need a steam vac, but that's what he wanted. He's giddy about it. Like I said, strange kid.

We get a weekend off from parties - whatever will I do with myself? Then we're right back in the thick of it with a triple threat from my sister and her family: my nieces 2nd birthday on July 15th, my sisters birthday on July 21st, and my oldest nephews 7th birthday on July 24th. Thankfully there will just be one party for all of them, but still - ! So yeah, I'm bombarded with parties, pretty much every weekend from now until the end of July when we'll have the biggest party - the Bar Exam is OVER party! That's my summer in a nutshell. Maybe I need to sell an organ or stand on a corner panhandling or something to pay for all the gifts I need to buy. I'm drowning in birthday parties!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Home Again, Safe & Dry

I'm short on time, but I'll do my best to recap my madcap adventure whitewater rafting. We're home again after spending 3 days on the Rogue River. We had a really, really fun time minus one plugged eustatian (sp?) tube (earache on my part), one wicked sinus headache and some so-so weather (brrrr!!). But the river was fast, the scenery spectacular, and the comraderie was top-grade. Mr. Chick and I really did make some great friends in law school. And to make it even better, my period was light and manageable, so no trouble there. And, as it turns out, there were at least two other women in the same boat as me, and everyone knows that misery loves company.

There were 20 people in total on the river this trip. That's a lot. We had 6 boats and a shitload of equipment and supplies. The first day was the longest one - 7 hours on the river. In overcast weather that got downright COLD when you got wet, and getting wet is a given when you're on the river. Duh. We hit one of the biggest rapids that day (see pics below). Can you say FUN??!

The paddle boat getting swamped in the rapids

That first night after we got to our camping spot everyone was pretty wiped out. Most people crawled into their tents and napped for a bit before dinner. We had pretty decent camping fare - no complaints about the food. Lots and lots of candy, chips, gummy bears, beer, fruit, beer, granola bars, beer, burgers, french toast, yukka, beer, and s'mores. Did I mention beer?? Yeah, lotsa that. After a late dinner that first night, no kidding, most everyone went to bed early. Like 9:30pm early. It's like these people had KIDS or something (we were the only ones there who were parents)! BUT, I must confess, it was NICE getting hours and hours of interrupted sleep, being lulled into dreamland by the sounds of crickets chirping, the rushing water of the river, and no fewer than 5 guys snoring. Oh yeah, loud-ass snoring. It's not like tents provide a whole lot of insulation or sound dampening. We started referring to our camping area as "snore canyon" and one of the girls passed out extra earplugs. That helped. It was universally agreed that Mr. Chick is the worst offender in the snoring realm. Great - just my luck. But I could have told you that from the get-go. No surprise - I LIVE with the man.

The next morning was leisurely. We broke camp, pigged out, and then got back on the river. The weather still sucked - misty rain from time to time, cold breezes - general ickiness. Plus I had the worlds WORST sinus headache. I felt like shit and feared I was acting bitchy. This DESPITE getting 9+ hrs of sleep - what gives?? Anyway, the scenery was amazing. We went through a very narrow, very deep canyon with cool rock formations. Really spectacular. Saw a few bald eagles. We were only on the river for 4 hours this day before hitting our campsite and gearing up for the party night. People needed to make up for being such lame-asses the night before. So naps were taken and people got refreshed. Then the party started! Dinner and drinks were had by all. We got a nice campfire going and busted out the fixin's for s'mores. Yum! Then, at some point in the drunkeness of the evening one of the guys issued a dance challenge. Yes, a dance challenge. Around the fire. It was the most hilarious thing I've ever witnessed! Picture a really big guy - mid to high 300 lbs big and something like 6'4". He used to play Pac-10 football on the offensive line. But in truth he's a big teddy bear. Now picture this behemouth doing dance "moves" dubbed things like "the shopping cart" and "the oarsman" and "the bus driver". Funny shit!! We were practically peeing our pants. Then he commanded ALL of us to bust a move across the fire pit. I love to dance but was caught off-guard and ended up doing some embarrassing PeeWee Herman move. I'm ashamed.

The final day the weather finally cleared and was sunny and hot. Beautiful weather for being on the water. THIS was the day for water fights and swimming. It was awesome! Lots of dunking and pulling people off their boats. General mayhem. We got into a water fight with some tourist jet boats never expecting them to fight back WITH the jets. They absolutely drenched us. We never saw it coming, but it was fun. And then it was over and time to return to reality. I had to drive hours and hours to get back to Portland and get the kids. It was good to see them and they did great with my parents, but I truly enjoyed my time away. Good for my soul to get back to nature like that. Very elemental. And good for Mr. Chick and I, too. There is something about sleeping curled up together for warmth inside a cozy tent that gets the juices flowing. It was good.

But now we're home and I've been spending all day getting the house pulled back together. UG! I'm putting the kids back into separate rooms and having to move all the furniture around and get stuff organized. They've done great sharing a room, but we're going to be selling soon and the house will show better if they are in separate rooms. Time to get back to it! I didn't drown on the river, but I'm drowning in laundry.... help.... I.can't.breathe..!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Rafting & Ragging

Let me begin by saying I USED to love being on the Pill. My cycles were regular prior to going on the Pill (as a teenager - gasp!), regular while on the Pill, & even regular after going off the Pill for our first attempts at getting pregnant. Regular regular regular. Then I had kids. I didn't go back on the Pill between babies, knowing we wanted a 2nd. But after Lauren was born I went on the mini-pill while I was breastfeeding her. No problems. Then I weaned her and it was time to upgrade my mini-pill to the regular Pill again. My dr. put me on the Pill I had been on for all those successful years - TriLevelen. It sucked. I was having breakthrough bleeding mid-cycle, plus my period. I was having to wear pads or tampons every two weeks. Not fun. So my dr. changed the Pill I was on to something else. Something without a generic equivalent. I'm paying way more for this prescription every month than I was for the TriLevelen. But whatever, right? If I no longer have to be on the rag twice a month it's worth it, right? Wrong! Now I'm not getting my period at all. First month - nothing. No breakthrough bleeding, but no period, either. It's like this new Pill is the Hoover dam and nothing is getting through. 2nd month, same story. I'm now on my "off" week - the week I'm supposed to get my period, and today is the 3rd day into that week and I'm finally seeing some evidence that maybe, just maybe, I'll get some sort of period this time. Third times the charm? Good thing, too, because I was starting to wonder if maybe I was pregnant again. I used to want nothing more than to miss my period because that meant I was pregnant, and now? Now that would be my nightmare. But the timing of this couldn't be worse: We're leaving on Thursday for a rafting weekend with some friends from law school.

Rafting and ragging - two things that just don't mix well. How am I supposed to spend the majority of two days on a raft and deal with my period at the same time??! It's not like I can just find a quiet corner of the raft and deal with a tampon. "uh, excuse me while I yank on the string and insert a new fresh one. I'll only be a sec." I don't think so. And pads are out - we'll be swimming and getting drenched in the rapids. Plus, I'll have to PACK OUT my garbage. Gross! Nothing like hanging on to used feminine products for a few days and carrying them around with you. Plus, it totally eliminates any possibility of getting hot tent sex with Mr. Chick. Bummer. The one time I wish my period wouldn't come is this weekend, and this is the weekend it's decided to show up in three damn months. Just my luck. I can only pray that despite it's absence for 90 days this period will be a light one and I can be OK using one tampon for the majority of the day. That's reasonable, right? Then I can wait until we set up camp and can get a little privacy inside my tent for the necessary "changing of the guard", so to speak. Uh-huh, and the Pope is a woman. I'm doomed.

On top of dealing with my (hopefully light) period, I get to drive endless hours up and down my state. My parents will be watching the kids for us this weekend. They live 2 hours north of us. The put-in location for the raft trip is 2.5 hrs south of us. So I get to drive the kids 110 miles to their house, drop them off, and drive 110 miles back home. Then Mr. Chick and I load up the car with the camping gear and drive another 2.5 hrs to the camp site. We *could* wait until Friday morning to leave, but we'd have to hit the road by 4am at the latest to reach the put-in spot by 6:30am, and I just don't see that happening. These people want to be on the river all damn day and we're on the water by 7am. We can't be late or we hold everyone up. Better to head down the night before and camp at the put-in. Although... we could make a fortune re-selling Starbucks lattes to everyone at the camp if we arrive that morning with hot coffee for everyone.... hmmm....

I'll be absent from blogging until early next week. I'm off to enjoy Mother Nature and all her glory from the view of a raft on the Rogue River. Wish me luck in my attempts to contain the bitchy side of Mother Nature as she pertains to my body, and keep your fingers crossed that I don't end up getting dumped in the river and have to swim the rapids!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Spaaaaahhh Party

Yay! Tonight I'm hosting a few girlfriends over for cocktails, dessert and a soak in our new hottub. Wanna come?? It's gonna be our equivalent of "Calgon, take me away" for the evening. I'm making a sinfully rich pan of triple-chocolate brownies, putting together a fairly complete bar, and adding candles and aromatherapy to the spa. Kind of sounds like I'm planning to seduce my friends 'cuz you know I'd give it up in that kind of atmosphere. Woo me with sweets, booze, candles and music. But before you get too crazy picturing some sort of lesbian orgy scene, let me assure you that it's nothing more than a girls night out. Only instead of going out for lame-ass coffee, as we tend to do, we're hanging at my house. Lots of gabbing, giggling and guzzling. The only part of the evening that is making me nervous is the weather. It's unpredictable today. It's 2pm and already we've had drizzle, sunshine, full-on rain, and even a bout of hail. Yes, hail. Now, I don't mind some soft rain sprinkling down if I'm in a hottub. I live in Oregon - rain is my middle name. But hail? Hail I have a problem with. I'm praying for no more hail. Hail hurts, and I'd hate to have to call my insurance company to see what my coverage is for hail injury in a hottub.

I'm off to tidy the house and make the brownies. I wish I felt more up to make something a little more extravagant, more impressive, more Martha, than brownies but I've got a touch of the cold the kids have had and I just can't motivate for that kind of effort today. The TheraFlu dissolving tabs help, but sort of make me feel off my game. I don't think my friends will mind. I'm going to be offering free liquor a-plenty, so who's going to complain?? I don't hang with friends who would be offended by such a thing. I think a soak in the spa with some funny ladies topped off with chocolate will be just the thing to make me feel all better. There is no better medicine.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Snoring - the bane of my nights

Mr. Chick snores. There. I said it. Usually he snores only when he's sleeping flat on his back. When that happens (which is nearly nightly), it's a guaranteed snore-fest emanating from his side of the bed. In our early days I was much more tolerant of this ruckus and would softly, gently, nudge him and be all, "Baby? You're snoring. Could you please roll over?".

Then, as the years pass, my tolerance dwindles some. It's inevitable. Instead of the gentle nudge - a love tap, if you will - it morphs into a bed-jiggle. What in the hell is a bed-jiggle? you ask. Good question. It *used* to be effective. It's where I would wiggle my hips a bit to get the mattress to shake, resulting in a change of position from a snoring, slumbering Mr. Chick. Voila! A no-contact sport. Sometimes I have been forced to employ the dreaded kick under the covers when the bed-jiggle fails. Or even moving (ok, jerking) his pillow so his head shifts and the awful snoring stops. A girl can only take so much! But now? Now we're in the midst of allergy season. And people? Allergies where we live are awful. Wicked bad. So bad that this is one of very few spots in the whole USofA where they do allergy testing. Higher concentrations are tough to find. It's mostly grass/hayfever, and it's kicking our asses. His worse than mine. We get regular allergy updates in our email (yeah, we're geeks like that). "Moderately severe" is a rating in the upper 30's. It's been hitting in the upper 300's lately. It's bad. Mr. Chick is popping Claratin like it's candy and he's STILL sneezing and dripping and feeling miserable. 24 hr relief my ass. He takes TWO 24-hr pills at a time.

This allergy stuff is really making his snoring reach new levels of suffering for me. Now he snores no matter his position. Side, tummy, back - it's all the same. Loud. Just loud. And incessant. And impossible for me to sleep with. If he starts snoring AFTER I've fallen asleep, no problem. But if the nightly concert begins before I've reached dreamland, well, then we've got a problem. I find myself using all the tricks in my bag, and none of them are working anymore. And then last night - EUREKA! The cure! We finally found a cure to Mr. Chick's snoring and my sleeplessness: Mr. Chick sleeps on the couch. It works.

Now, if we could only get Lauren to stay sleeping in her crib all night long vs. sleeping in the bed we'd all be in a happy, happy place. One thing at a time.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wedding Pics

As if you didn't already know, I think pictures tell stories much better than words ever could. I just received some quickies from my mother from the wedding. Now you can all have a visual from the day and the stories behind it.

You can see that we bridesmaids wore sheer scarfs/wraps with our dresses. These were gifts from the bride. They had beads that sparkled and matched the beading on the bodice of our dresses. It looked really nice and hid any flab that *some* of us have on our arms . Nothing worse that fat arms in a spaghetti-strap dress! What you can't see are the earrings we were given as well. They were black and didn't really show up against our dark hair. Oh well. Aren't the flowers gorgeous??! The dude in the back over my shoulder is my new brother-in-law, Marc. Handsome guy. :)

The Chick Sisters. From L-R: MP, Maureen, Carrie (bride!), and Katie. See? Looking pretty decent in the dress but wish my posture was better - UG! And suddenly, now that I've reached my mid-30's, my forearms look like they belong to an old lady! What happened there?

The Wedding Party. Don't we look like we should be posing for a magazine spread or something? The boy on the right is my oldest nephew, Patrick. He'll be 7 in July. He took his job as ringbearer VERY seriously.

Mr. Chick holding a sleeping Lauren during the ceremony. Everyone saw them and thought they were adorable. She was OUT. Like arm hanging out and flailing willy-nilly out. At least she was quiet during the ceremony. Too bad you can't see her pretty dress with her all wrapped up in her blankie. Doesn't Mr. Chick look hot in a suit? I've always thought so. The dude behind him was the singer for the parts of Mass that required a vocalist. I guess he went to school with one of my sisters and my mom works with his mom or something. Whatever - he was good. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In-Laws - can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em

To make a long story short, the wedding was really fun. The drive down was tolerable and we made it in 10 hrs. The hotel was lovely. The rehearsal dinner was delicious but a tad over-crowded. The best man put together a photo montage of the bride and groom that was sweet to see and reinforced that yes, they DO look like each other already. There were a few baby pics where we couldn't tell which baby was Carrie and which was Marc. Scary, huh? The wedding itself was beautiful with the big altar completely covered with votive candles. And *I* looked pretty damn good and wore the size 10 dress! I paled in comparison, of course, to the bride herself, but was happy with my appearance. I had all the friends of my sister be the judge on which dress to wear and it was unanimous: the 10. I was a happy lady! My fuck-me pumps looked good and I was able to walk down the longest aisle ever without killing myself, and even kept the suckers on for most of the reception. But damn, my dogs were barkin' the next day - yeow! Lauren slept through most of the entire wedding ceremony and everyone was ooh'ing and ahh'ing about how cute it was to see her crashed out in her daddy's arms. So it was all good.

And then came the reception.

The reception was good. The food was delicious, the drinks were top-shelf (had me quite a few cosmos - yum!), and the company was fun. The DJ sucked, but whatever - people were dancing anyway. I was enjoying chatting away with many of my parents friends I've known my whole life who travelled down for the wedding. At some point my mother took off her shoes and no shit, wore her slippers. Her slippers! Eww. Can you say tacky?? She was wearing a really nice, expensive dress and her ratty white slippers. I was appalled and told her so. She eventually took the stupid slippers off. My mother is a force. You really don't want to be on her bad side. Ever. I have been (see all my adolescent years) and it's not fun. Trust me on this. But once you're in her good graces, you're golden. She's got your back and she's a powerful ally. Mr. Chick didn't get off on a good foot way back when when we started dating. We moved fast and furiously in our early years and he moved in with me for the summer after I graduated. We'd been dating for 4 months and my parents didn't know him. I was moving to California for a job and he came with me for the summer (he was two years behind me in school and so would be returning in the fall). This did NOT go over well with my folks. Not that I blame them - as a parent now myself I would be horrified and pissed off if my kid made this seemingly bad choice. But I was in love and there was just no getting around that fact (gag!). I didn't help things between them because I kept running interference and wouldn't let them ever really talk and hash it out. So Mr. Chick was off to a rocky start. Add to the fact that he's from a divorced family and isn't Catholic (hell, not of ANY religious belief), and you've got a big hole to dig yourself out from with my mom. Lots of strikes against you.

Over the next 13 years Mr. Chick has redeemed himself. He's proven his worth. His core values are in place (as I've always known them to be) and his priorities are straight. My parents pretty much know this. But my mom, again, is a force. She's a very nice lady who has a thriving social circle. She's not without the ability to get along with people. But she sometimes commands things vs. asking nicely. Mr. Chick is very sensitive to this. She'll say something like, "Mr. Chick, go get the cups from the table" and he'll bristle. He'd prefer her to ask him: "Mr. Chick, could you please go get the cups from the table for me?" Subtle difference, but important. This has always bugged him about my mother. He respects her, but wouldn't choose her as his favorite person to just hang out with.

Now add my first brother-in-law, married to my sister Katie. He's from an enormous family of 12 kids. No shit - 12 kids. He's #6. They're all smart and successful people. Each and every one went to private Catholic school and good universities. That's where my bil met my sister - freshman year at Notre Dame. He's got all the qualities a parent could wish for in a son-in-law. He's an attorney (prosecuter), was an officer in the Navy, a Notre Dame graduate from a strong, intact family. A parents wet dream. He's a good guy - we all like him. He's competitive and has been known to say that Mr. Chick was the best thing to ever happen to him in our family because he took the heat off my bil. Reinforcing the fact that Mr. Chick has a reputation for being the outcast, or black sheep, of the family. Then add my most recent bil, the groom from the wedding. Marc. Also a really nice guy. From a good family whose parents are still together. He's Catholic to boot and met my sister her freshman year at Santa Clara University. It's all sunshine and roses. He's what my parents would order if they could select the qualities of a son-in-law for one of their daughters. So again, Mr. Chick seems to be lacking some of the same qualities. He's different. My sisters don't care - they all really like him. He fits in just fine with them and the bil's. Even my dad seems to be just fine with everyone and everything. But there is an undercurrent of understanding that Mr. Chick doesn't measure up somehow. Its' sort of become an unspoken joke of how Mr. Chick knows what a hard time it can be to get into this family, blah blah blah. Well, all that came out at the reception. BIL #1 is all, "So Mom, am I not your favorite son-in-law anymore?" and she's all, "nope, not tonight. tonight is all about Marc" ha ha ha - love fest 2005. Meanwhile Mr. Chick is standing right there witnessing this exchange feeling like dogshit. Normally he can blow that stuff off, but that night it was getting to him. He was told by one of the brides friends, upon meeting him, that she'd heard that he was the "black sheep". Makes a person feel real good to hear that message over and over again. So he'd had it. By the end of the night he couldn't shake it off. He went for a walk to clear his head but was unsuccessful. He asked if we could talk about it. It was 2:30am and I got dressed and we sat by the pool.

Oh.My.God! He was SO pissed and angry and hurt. I've never seen him like this. He kept saying how he was sick and tired of feeling like shit in my family. And what more does he need to do to get them to stop punishing him for not being Catholic or from a "normal" family (his mother is PSYCHO, if you didn't already know...). He was damn near distraught. I cried for him. I tried not to be defensive of my family. Well, my mom. He's cool with everyone else. It's my mom that sets him off. I told him how sorry I was that he felt like this. I told him that I was with HIM - that I choose him and my loyalties were with HIM, not my family. As much as I love them, he's my husband. Those were the vows I took when we got married. Hurt him, hurt me. He's at the point of not wanting to move back to Portland so he doesn't have to deal with my mother. It's that bad. I told him I would speak to them and get them to understand what's happening. It's nothing overt or specific - it's all undertone and vibe and joking. But my mom has a big mouth and what she might think of as funny just isn't anymore, and her quips and comments can influence opinion. I was NOT looking forward to that conversation.

On the drive home we had a chance to speak more about this. He'd calmed down and thought things through a little more. He still felt that something needed to be said, but now he wanted to be part of the conversation instead of sending me in as the family spokesperson. I thought this was a fantastic idea. After all, he's the one with the issue. The day after we arrived back home my folks stopped in on their way up to Portland. Mr. Chick, who we all know has issues with receiving gifts graciously, and who I reminded that my folks gave him a very generous graduation gift that he didn't really acknowlege well, eased into the conversation by thanking my parents again for coming down to graduation and for the generous gift. He was really nice about it. We had been talking about our grad party and it was a natural seque. He then proceeded to tell them about what had been happening and how it was making him feel. My dad has a background in social work and counseling and is a GREAT listener. He kept saying how glad he was that Mr. Chick and I felt that we could even talk about it with them in the first place. My dad has a way of making you feel very good and not judged. My mom got a tad emotionally defensive and pled ignorance. She says she was completely unaware that this sort of behind-the-scenes impressions were being perpetuated and that's not how she feels about Mr. Chick. She said some really wonderful things about him. I really think they do love him, but the "comparison" game needs to stop. They get that now. I think things will get better. There was no shouting or accusations thrown about, and I was really proud of how Mr. Chick handled it. Calmly, rationally, and open. It was an honest discussion. We didn't want to make a big thing about it, but wanted them to understand how he was being made to feel so it could stop. I think it will. God, I hope so. Because it was really awful there for a few days. Lots of tears and upset. I'm very close to my family and the thought that he felt so poorly around them was heartbreaking. That he was ready to cut ties completely was unthinkable, but that's what he was saying the night of the wedding. So I have hope that things will turn around. It's not like he expects them to kiss his ass or tell him he's their favorite son-in-law - not at all. He just wants the respect he's earned as a good husband, friend, provider, and father. He's paid his dues and he now demands equal respect for who he is. I think now that they're aware of how even subtle comments disguised as jokes can really hurt him. It's been building and building over the years. But now, at last, I think it's over.

To "celebrate" putting that behind us, Mr. Chick and I FINALLY christened the hottub. And it was good.

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