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Blissfully Bitchy

Updated: 2018-03-05T14:02:54.648-05:00


Don't Discredit Me, "Reverend."


Because we can't go one entire season in Detroit without two or more bizarre happenings on the political front, last Friday we were treated to the news that subliterate school board president Otis Mathis resigned after being accused of touching his penis -- and touching it, um, affectionately -- during meetings with the district's superindendent. Who reports to him. The final straw was him whacking it during a meeting discussing her employment contract.Sounds like a massive sexual harrassment lawsuit waiting to happen, no? Especially since she says she informed other people about his behavior and documented each incident, to no avail.Mathis' conduct is despicable and gross and creepy, of course. But what truly has me infuriated is the following, from board member "Reverend" David Murray. Who changed his first name to Reverend so idiotic Detroit voters would vote for him, and who also has had foster children removed from his home for various reasons (and, for that matter, who shares a name with the husband of a friend of mine, who's about the polar opposite of this jackhole).Murray's been quoted locally, and of course right now I cannot find it, as saying that such behavior is something "some women" might find offensive and that "maybe he thought she liked it."Rage. Raaaaagggggeee.Here's the deal: I've been sexually harrassed, both in the workplace and elsewhere ('cause guess what, guys? Catcalling a woman as she walks down the street is HARASSMENT, no matter how funny you think it is). Ask any woman who's old enough to have been in the workforce for any length of time, and she'll tell you the same, I'm sure of it.Even acts that don't rise to an actionable level are just fucking irritating because men NEVER EVER EVER have to put up with this shit just to earn a paycheck. Or, you know, go outside. We've all experienced this: Men who have entire conversations with just our chest. Men who feel the need to comment on our appearance in any way, positive or negative, because that reduces us to JUST appearance, not a person. And when we have the temerity to stand up to it, to inform the Dick in question that their behavior is unacceptable, they do just what Murray did. Discredit us. Imply that we somehow encouraged the behavior. Suggest that maybe we liked it, and if we don't we're just too sensitive. "Hey, it was just a joke." "God, lighten up, bitch." "She has at fatal attraction crush on me and that's why she makes up lies" (Murray suggested that, too, about the superintendent, that maybe she had a little thing for Mathis).I'm not talking about joking around here, or complimenting a friend or coworker. I've worked in newsrooms, for fuck's sake, and the easily offended and the embracers of victimhood do NOT do well there. I can unblushingly discuss my sex life and breast size with certain male friends.But the difference between joking among people who know and like each other and creepy, uncomfortable sexual harrassment is this: The guys I joke with are seeing ME first, a woman with likes and dislikes and a whole personhood that has nothing to do with my status as a female. They're as likely to give me a hard time about my political affliations or my taste in music as they are the length of my skirt or height of my neckline -- and respect my feelings and apologize if I tell them they've crossed a line. Creepy sexual harrassers see Woman first, and it might be added "Inferior." Because to reduce us to just a place on your do-or-not-do list is fundamentally insulting. And to discredit our standing up for ourselves is just simply outrageous.On a side note: Many people have questioned why the superindendent continued the meeting after becoming aware of Mathis's actions. Her letter informing the board of his behavior recounts her trying to block him from her line of sight.I can tell you why, having been given The Full Mathis by not one but two random flashers back in college (yes, it's okay, you can laugh). First, there's sheer horror, just the desperate desire to have this Not Be Happening. Secondly, it's the "don't reward bad [...]



Fuuuuu--(thinks better of it)--dge.

So I turned 40 this weekend, and overall, it's not too bad. Reaching the day itself was sort of like pulling off a band-aid--I'd had all this angst about it and once it hit, it felt no different than being 39...or 38, for that matter. I may have been somewhat numbed by the aftereffects of staying up very late the night before with some of my favorite people in a typically deep and interesting conversation which wrapped up a fun birthday party, but overall I think I've pretty much found my Zen -- or at least the path there.

One thing that helped ease my mind a bit was, of all things, a silly parody of "Single Ladies" a friend of mine posted on Facebook. It was as you'd expect, but had a couple of lines that hit me pretty hard. Specifically, one that talked about these lines on her face meaning she's lived her years, and also "You can't change it so you'd better make your peace with it."

And damn, that's harder than you'd think. In my darker moments, I want my 25-year-old body and face --but I wouldn;t want to actually be 25 again. I'll keep my 40-year-old maturity, perspective and experience, and with knowledge that the stuff that kept me up at night then would mostly all turn out just fine (and be replaced with a whole new set of worries).

I'm not thrilled with the physical aspects of getting older, I'll admit. This surprises me, because I've never really had the looks to run with the pretty girls (despite having some really good-looking friends), so being out of that race completely bothers me more than I like to admit. I acknowledge it's all patriarchal society bullshit, but still. I've always been more of a brains over beauty kind of a person, and my brain still works (more or less, and that which doesn't has more to do with being a parent than being 40). I'd just like it to function well in a body less worked over by 40 years on this planet, the last six of which included gestating, birthing and nursing two babies.

I've been exercising at the Y pretty frequently for the last year or so, which has helped me reconcile with my 40-year-old body in more ways than one. Not only am I stronger, tougher and more flexible than I was five years ago, but I have had a glimpse into the future. See, I shower there most days, and am frequently hitting the locker room as the older women who swim or do water aerobics are getting ready or drying off after class. And you know what? They show no shame, no angst, no self-consciousness at all about their bodies. There are wrinkles, there are sags and bulges and cellulite, there are scars -- and yet there they are, in all their glory, casually gossiping with their friends while wearing only a towel and sometimes less. They just don't care.

I don't know if it's because they're active and thus feel good about themselves, or if it's being so far outside of what society considers attractive that they aren't bothered by it anymore, or that they just have enough perspective on life to not give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks (although I'd vote for the latter). They may not be what the world considers beautiful, but they are magnificent. And I hope it doesn't take me until my next big birthday to be just like them.

Well hello again


yeah yeah. Facebook, work, not much to say.

So I've come back, and I think today is an opportune time. See, my darling boy is going to be two tomorrow, and so it just feels right.

He's as cute as can be right now. Paul and I say frequently that he is made of chocolate, because he's just delicious. He talks a ton more than Maggie did at this age, and has to say! Everything! at the top of his lungs! for no apparent reason. He's obsessed with trains, dinosaurs, and trucks. He loves to announce to us what he's doing (I running!! I spinning!! I dancing!!). He does this goofy little grin that he's figured out is kryptonite to his mother, so he unleashes it on me all the time. And his favorite game of late is to give me big wet kisses with a mwwwaaahhh sound, over and over.

The thing that really melts me, though, is that after ignoring him for the first year of his life, Maggie and her brother have become best friends. He adores her and always has, but now that affection is returned. Lots of kisses and hugs and games.

Of course, there's a lot of Two. He refuses to eat pretty much anything except pasta and cheese, we've dubbed him NoCan the Contrarian (after a Word Girl character) because everything is No No No, and he has these enormous tantrums that are almost funny in their drama.

So overall, things are good. My little girl is a kindergartener and doing even better than I hoped, we have somehow acquired a kitten, we have some tough decisions to make about our house, and I sense some big job changes coming up. All of these are things I'd like to write about. So hello, again.

How Things Have Changed


Last year, Maggie got, in her Easter basket, chocolate and Matchbox cars.

This year? Chocolate, a little purse with yellow flowers on it that matches her Easter dress, and a some piece of plastic collectible crap.

The four year old gender identification thing has begun, and it's really funny. The girl is a tomboy and has been since day one -- she loves to be on the move, run, tussle, and generally be active. Sitting still is not her thing, to say the least. But suddenly the pink, the sparkly, the flowery and the girly have become irresistible. She wants to grow out her chin-length hair and loves "jewels" aka anything applied to any other thing.

This also comes with a bit of a bonus for me. She loovvvveesss me right now. As she tells her daddy at night "Only persons with long brown hair can lay down next to me." My hair's not that long (nor is it all that brown any more, which is a sob-choked subject for another post). Frequently she talks about how we are on the Girl Team and Will and Daddy are on the Boy Team.

And I admit, I eat this shit up. She's been a bit of a daddy's girl for a long time, and now having my delightful little daughter decide I am her best friend ever makes me really happy. Plus, well, if the preschool years are previews of the teens, things are going to be jusssttt a bit stormy around here. My own teenage relationship with my mother is the stuff of family legend -- slammed doors, screaming matches and general fury marked the years. Maggie makes me look chill, temper-wise, and is about the most stubborn and rebellious little person already. So I am trying to enjoy this closeness while I can.

I like to think, and hope, I am a better mother than my own. I've spent a lot more time acknowledging my own weaknesses and working on them. Reading "Raising Your Spirited Child" was so soothing to me, more because of my own childhood than Maggie's. I realized that I wasn't some sort of horrible bad out of step child, I was just me, made this way. I understand that a little better with Maggie than was understood with me, and so I have a slightly better ability to give her what she needs because I understand it. Do I always do it perfectly? No, nowehere near it (witness the pitched battle today over getting her to put her shoes on and help me go get Paul from work, featuring screaming (her), swearing (me), and in a truly superior Parenting Moment, threats to return the Easter presents I got her. Please send my mother of the year award c/o Blogger).

But mostly? It's awesom being on the Girl Team around here. And I hope, even through hormonal upheavals and adolescent turmoil, on some level we always will be Girl Team.

A Parenting Moment


Parenthood is about the only type of relationship I can imagine where you not only wipe someone else's nose, but think "Oh boy. I do not like the look of that mucus."

(I think Will's gearing up for his seventh or eighth ear infection in his short life. And Paul will be gone tonight. Send prayers and Shiraz, please).

Boys Vs. Girls


I've never really dealt that much in gender stereotypes, especially when it comes to my kids. I want Maggie to be Maggie and Will to be Will, and am trying really hard to not make my kids relieve or fix my own childhood (and I'll let you know as soon as I figure that out to my satisfaction).

But it's funny to see the kind of things I hoped to avoid play themselves out right in front of my eyes.

for example, Maggie was always been more of a tomboy and less of a girlie girl, which I am actually very proud of. When I pick her up from school, most of the time she's barrelling around the playground with the boys or scaling one of the climbers while all the other little girls are clustered in one corner, playing some cooperative, imaginative, well-regulated game.

But. As she's gotten older, the influence of the older girls is starting to meld with the normal gender-identification stuff they start doing at this age, and suddenly there is LOTS of pink in my house. Maggie insists that her favorite colors are pink and purple, she is super attached to me because we are both on the "girl team," and yes, those evil princesses have made their debut in my house.

I hold the line on that one -- no clothing with their images on it, and very little of the avalanche of plastic crap that lines Target. However, one cannot attend a birthday party without the goody bag being filled with princessy trinkets, and I have caved on things like a book at a mom-to-mom sale for 25 cents.

Of course, she also has dinosaur PJs clearly meant for boys (why aren't dinosaurs gender-neutral? Annoying), loves her baseball mitt, and has, um, hitting issues at school.

Will, however, is such a boy. And I hate saying that, because why wouldn't girls like to bang every single toy they touch on the floor, or play with cars, or climb like little monkeys? And as a matter of fact Maggie did some of that -- her Easter basket had Matchbox cars in it last year, for example. But she hasn't done any of those things with the single minded determination with which Will does it.

Of course, he's also obsessed with her light-up wand she plays with in the tub, loves anything sparkly and likes her My Little Pony.

I know their personalities will grow and change as they do, and that their likes and dislikes will be informed by a million things in addition to gender. But it's funny to see these very gendered behaviors from both of them right now, and equally funny to see the ways in which they deviate.

Morning After President's Day



I wake up, shift in bed, trying to get a little more rest before what will be a momentous day. The baby starts to move and kick and squirm. I try to burn this feeling into my brain, knowing this will be one of my last pregnant monents probably ever, and whisper, "Will, today we're going to get to see each other for the first time. I finally get to see your face, and you get to see the person whose voice you've been hearing all these months."


I am awake, but wish I wasn't, and shift in bed, trying to get a little more rest. The baby starts to move and kick and squirm. I open my eyes, look at the bed next to me, and see this:


You're almost one, little man, and I can't believe there was a time you weren't here.



Damn it.I was really, really hoping I'd make it to a full year. I even entertained the idea of nursing a little beyond that, if Will wanted. We had a rough start -- he wouldn't latch, and when he did it HURT. But we got that ironed out, and so I have been spending quite a bit of time over the last year with my baby snuggled up against me, pulling at my breast and reaching his hand up to brush at my hair.But sometime in the last few weeks he started fussing when I'd feed him, often taking only a few pulls and arching away angrily. His crumpled, angry face would break my heart, especially once he started to let loose these furious yells.It's partially my fault, and probably part nature's too. Paul and I had a night without the kids a few weeks ago, and I didn't pump while he was gone. I'd nursed the evening before, when we dropped the kids off at my parents' house, and then for whatever reason didn't pump the next day until I saw him sometime after noon. The problems with supply started then, but they'd seemed to resolve themselves -- now, though, it's clear the girls are no longer up to the job.What I'd really wanted this time, though, is to know, and mark, the last time I nursed him, nursed my last baby for the last time. I had to wean Maggie very abruptly, and I wanted to be able to say goodbye to it a little more consciously this time.I had started to attempt to focus on the experience a little more in the last month, knowing that sooner rather than later, our nursing time would end. But it cropped up suddenly -- some days he'd nurse, some days he wouldn't, until finally this week it's been none. Yesterday was the first time the only breastmilk I dispensed was expressed into a pump, not an eager little pink mouth.I should be pumping now. I probably won't, will let nature take its course and end things only a few weeks earlier than I had planned. Like last time, I know my supply has been dropping because it doesn't hurt to have not nursed, and yesterday, when I pumped, I got a measly little three ounces.I hate that this part of motherhood is over, which is odd because I am really not a fan of nursing, but both times stopping it has made me really sad and this time moreso, since there's not even the thought of another little baby coming down the pike. I feel like it was so key to my relationship with Will. Anybody else could love him, play with him and cuddle him like I do, but nobody else could nurse him.And damn, did that baby love to nurse. When he was a newborn, he'd make this funny little "unnnhh unnhhh unnnhhh" sound when I nursed him, like this was just the happiest he could ever be. More recently, he'd wrap up a feeding, pop off, and lean back, grinning at me. He's always been a quick nurser, so much so I was afraid he wasn't getting enough. But his fat little thighs and chubby cheeks and cankles and wrist rolls quickly put that to rest, and filled me with pride that I'd grown this chubby little guy. He picked up the drill quickly, too -- when he was a newborn he'd do the "pecking" thing where he'd start to sort of headbutt my shoulder. Maggie did the same thing, but Will added the twist of flinging himself bodily sideways and attempting to latch on to whatever was available.When he was a little older, he'd get excited when he'd see we were headed for the den, where I usually nursed him. And he would just stare at my boobs and drool, an unattractively frat boy habit in an older male but awfully funny in a baby. I would tell him, "Will, if your mother teaches you nothing else: EYES UP HERE."As a second kid, he's gotten very little one on one time, so it's been so nice for both of us to have that break in the day. I feel like our relationship is changing now, growing a little more distant, as it must. It goes from him beiung snuggled inside my body to being outside but nourished by it to trying his own nourishment to his o[...]

Oh, Detroit....


MORE corruption investigations.

I read this today and was just holding my head and saying "This is UNBELIEVABLE." But it is, of course, all too believable.

I always knew John Conyers was out of it, but you've got seriously question his judgement when he is married to that crazy ghetto screecher. Not to mention that he and Carolyn Cheeks Kwame-Mommy Kilaptrick are our representaion in Washington. For years, the lone Republican vote I cast is whoever is running against Conyers, just to make a point, but the power of incumbency is real.

I just feel so beaten down. People (OK, mostly suburbanites) talk about the city not wanting good leadership, but what about the majority of us that do, but find ourselves powerless against the entrenched political culture here? Let me tell you, the current city council are hardly the best nine people for the job, nor were they the nine best candidates. What they are is politically connnected and/or related to the people who are. I know tons of people who might even consider a run for city council but when you know, unequivocally, it's goign to be a huge waste of time and money and that Council seems to be an employment program for those otherwise totally unemployable, what are you going to do?

That said, the Cockrels have impressed me, as has, so far, Kwame Kenyatta of all people. But I am hoping aginst hope AND experience that somewhere in the mess of people who will be running this fall, there's a good, smart, professional core of people who are fed up with what's wrong with this crazy city and are ready to bring real leadership back. Anyone have any suggestions? Because I am ready to bring it for someone who simply doesn't make me embarassed to live here anymore.

It's not a high bar, folks.

Anybody out there got some good candiates for me to get behind?

Courtesy of Poison Control


An interesting fact: when your baby somehow gets ahold of one of the watercolor disks from his sister's paint set, and chews it, sending rivulets of purple drool all over his face, clothing, and hands, it is not toxic.

It will, however, cause purple poop.



I think today is as good a day as any to come back.

Like most people, I am feeling a great sense of hope and awe today. A country that just 50 years ago didn't extend full citizenship rights to African Americans will, in just a few hours, inaugurate a black man as president. And the man himself is a remarkable American story. Born to student parents, soon abandoned by his father, raised all over, yet able to leverage his intelligence and discipline to ascend to the highest office in the land. Whatever your politics, that's got to make you feel good about the promise that exists in this country. We need, desperately, to be reminded right now that anything is possible here, and I think that's why this is striking such a chord with so many people.

Also? I have a giant girlcrush on Michelle Obama. Is she ever cool. I think this is the first First Lady I have really liked.

More things: My girl is hilarious. She's definitely developing big-kid attitude, but she's also getting more mature and sweeter and more of a remarkable grown-up type person every day. She informed me yesterday that watching the inaguration with me will be "exasperating." When I asked her what that would mean, she said "That means AWFUL and BORING."

I don't think I need to worry about her speaking her mind.

And Will is just the most delicious baby, but becoming more toddlerlike every day. His fat little legs are getting longer and adding a little more muscle and a little less chub, and he's really responsive and cute. And an enormous flirt -- he loves women and smiles at them everywhere we go. So far, women, especially blondes, and older people get beaming Will smiles -- everybody else gets serious-baby face.

Thanks for coming back, if you do. I promise not to be gone so long again.

Strange Days Indeed


The funeral tour is over, thank God, knock wood. We went up to Saginaw Friday to be with Paul's family, which was brutal. His mother and father had been married for 56 years. Paul's dad has Alzheimer's, as well, and in some ways is like a little child. He was very dependent on Irene and deeply devoted to her, and is understandably devastated by her loss.

Since my family was in for my grandmother's funeral, we asked them to take Maggie so she could be with her beloved cousins, and we all reconvened at home that night. Then it was up early the next morning to go to my grandmother's funeral. It was at the church she was born near, bapitzed in, met her husband on the front steps of, married in, and the place she bapitzed all three of her sons. It's a beautiful place in a nierghborhood that's gone from Polish to Mexican over the years. Unlike many Detroit churches which refuse to relfect the change in their neighborhoods, they've included the newcomers in their ministry and the church bulletin is an almost comical mix of consonant-heavy Polish names and toungue-rolling Mexican ones. The pastor is Polish, the associate is Mexican.

It was sad -- it was the first time I cried for her, really -- but beautiful, a warm, loving reflection of the woman she was. We should all have such a funeral. I did one of the readings, from Romans, and did a fairly nice job given the fact it was shoved into my hands five minutes before the service began.

My father did a speech at the end of Mass, and it was lovely -- affectionate and funny, with many of the details we'll remember about her. She was a hard worker, driven, energetic (she used to complain to me, at age 90, that she had "no zip" and just didn't know what was wrong with her), funny, and quite a people person. My dad mentioned that she loved to sing despite having the worst singing voice in history, and that her boys could do no wrong. They would come for dinner and she would wait on them, and they could make her laugh like no one else.

After the Mass and the gravesite ceremony, there was a lunch (and open bar) at a banquet hall which was very well attended, something she would have loved. Then we all went back to my uncle and aunt's house, went through her jewelry (all costume, but she loved jewelry and so we all took things that would remind us of her), ate and drank more and told stories.

Finally, it was time to go home, and the next day we headed back to Saginaw for the visitation for Paul's mom. This was, well, a lot different. A lot of that is the differences between the families --Paul's family is stoic, phleghmatic, reserved, and mine is pretty emotional and verbal. And it was also because of the manner of Irene's death, so sudden and shocking.

It was hard for me -- she and I never really saw eye to eye, and we didn't have a good relationship. She was passive-aggressive, dour, and had that "real Americans live in small towns" attitude I find so annoying. Everyone else was crying at the funeral -- I stayed dry-eyed, which made me feel guilty. But I was surprised by how sad I felt. Much as we didn't care for each other, she raised a great son who is a wonderful husband and father, and she never willingly hurt another living soul.

And to end on a funny note: There was a lunch after the funeral, prepared by the ladies of the church in this little tiny town where Carl and Irene lived. I don't want to mock the food, because it's really a kindly and beautiful thing to do for a greiving family. It's the kind of food Paul grew up on and I never, ever cook. Including, poh yes, tater tot casserole. Which was exacly as one would expect such a thing would be.

Please tell me these things don't actually come in threes


Paul's mom died this morning.

She's been battling cancer, but it was sudden. We're all in shock. Poor Maggie --we've been having to teach her about death a hell of a lot sooner than I ever hoped to. And Will will never know his grandma.

Speaking of whom, he's crying. More later.

Random Day


* Happy though I was yesterday, I was really in kind of a post election funk. We'd been following this so close for so long and now what? Because fact is Obama is getting handed a great big mess and while obviously I think he's the guy to fix it, it's not going to be easy.

Or maybe that was just a bit of a hangover. Ahem.

* Plus, gay rights. Gah. Come ON , California! I expect better of you than that! Although my designated gay gurus (Shannon on SD, among others) seem to think what really matters is the Supreme Court picks Obama is going to make which should settle the issue once and for all.

* Maggie is actually interested in the election a little bit. She called me a Barack Obama-head the other day. We were talking about the election and I told her he won, and that he's a daddy and has two little girls. Later we were having a snack and the newspaper was on the table, with a picture of the Obamas facing up. I showed Maggie the picture and said "those are the little girls were were talking about. "Mom, I love their dresses," she said. "I would like to meet them."

So of course now that's all I want for the next four years.

* The visitation starts tonight for my grandmother. I'm dreading it -- not only will it be sad but all the crazy family dynamics will come into play. My aunt will be at full tilt Irish grieving drama, my mom will be so tense you could bounce quarters off her, my dad will be sad and I hate seeing my dad sad, and I either have to find a way to keep Maggie away from the casket or explain to her what Gigi is doing in there. And oh yes, my grandmother is dead. If I didn't love my father to the ends of the Earth I SO would be trying to get out of doing this for the next three days.

And maybe it's a Polish thing but I am not getting why two days of visitation. We have "family viewing" tonight for FOUR HOURS, public visitation tomorrow, and the funeral and funeral lunch Saturday. Of course we had longstanding plans with friends tomorrow and Saturday I had to cancel, which made me even more sad because I don't see my friends enough as it is.

All I know is, tonight I am looking forward to a large glass of wine and some serious couch time in my PJs.



And we did.

There is more that unites us than divides us. That is one of my fundamental, truest beliefs. I have more in common with Sarah Palin, who I loathe, than I have differences with her--especially since I share with her the most transformative experience of my life--motherhood. We all, at heart, want the same things.

And this, my friends, this election, proves that. We voted in favor of the best of what America is instead of what is the worst. Hope instead of fear, unity instead of division, belief in a better world.

I'm happy. And more so, I am inspired. Not only by Barack Obama, but honeslty? McCain's concession speech reminded me of why I used to hold such respect for him. He's showed more class than I ever remember from the losing candidate, including those I have voted for. Way to lose with dignity, Senator.

Yes, we can.

"In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."

--Barack Obama

Calling it


This may be premature, but based on the lines at my polling place this morning and what I have heard from other people, I'm calling Michigan for Obama.


Now to nervously await the rest of the country....

Not so funny today


I had this whole funny tidbits type post planned out, and kind of a reflective one on how Halloween is really making me aware of how fast time flies --it seems amazing how just last year I was scuffing through the leaves in my new maternity jeans, watching Maggie trick or treat for the first time and it seems like yesterday. How Will seems deeply unimpressed with Halloween so far.

But then my grandma died yesterday. It's not all sad -- she was nearly 96 years old, would have turned 96 at the end of the month, and lived long enough to see her children and grandchildren grow up and get established in the world. And she's been really ready to go for the last few years -- she would be telling me some story about how she wasn't feeling good or something she forgot and say to me "Amy, I don't know why God is keeping me here."

She could be a difficult lady -- she held grudges, worshipped the boys at the expense of the girls, and hated having to depend on others as she aged. Still, she loved us, loved her sons and grandkids deeply.

She told great stories, too. Her family owned a bar -- a fact she was embarassed about. When I was a kid she told me it was a store. But she told us about being 14 years old and her mother sending her out to drive down to the river front and get booze from the Purple Gang.

She'll be missed, a lot. She taught me about faith and style and staying engaged and mentally and physically active (she watched, God help us, Fox News and CNN religiously until a few years ago when her eyes got too bad to see much anymore). She spoke Polish and taught me a few things, and I was honored by being the only grandchild to learn her fabulous pierogi recipe.

She died on All Soul's Day -- when Catholics honor the dead. And ironically I was thinking of her during Mass -- probably right about the time she was dying -- during a prayer about the dying finding comfort in God inviting them home.

It helped in telling Maggie as well. She went to what she's dubbed "kid church"-- the children's Liturgy of The Word -- and returned with a scribbled-in picture of an angel with the name "Bear" written on it. I asked her why and she told me it was because they'd talked about lost toys -- and the toys were in heaven (mind you, Bear was at that very moment in her bed, but he's been lost, once, for a few hours). So when I'd gotten the news and Paul and I sat her down to tell her, we had a framework to discuss it.

I'll be doing a prayer or a reading at the funeral; and the family is rolling in starting Wednesday. Polish wakes are second only to Irish wakes in the drinking and the storytelling, and my father and his brothers together are never not funny. I'm actually, in a sad way, looking forward to it. And I think Grandma would think that's OK -- she loved being in the midst of her boys, letting them razz her about some of their growing-up stories, and listening to her grandkids laugh.

I wish I had some profound way to wind this up, so I'll just end. I'm sure there will be tales to tell as the week unfolds.

Sweet Fancy Moses


It's been quite a while since I posted. Lack of anything to say, baby who's refusing to nap, wayyyyy too much work, and oh yes, did I mention that my sweet boy is perfect in every way except he just. won't. nap?

That being said, he's been sleeping for like an hour right now. We're sleep training. Kindly don't share what a horrible mother that makes me.

I'm just really upset abut the election, among other things. Until Palin was nominated, I could honestly say that while I really, really want Obama to win, I wouldn't be horrifed if McCain did, becauase I thought he was a man of honor and would not be bad for the country. Enter Caribou Barbie. She's unqualified, not bright, and I have serious issues with much of what does come out of her mouth. Like that big-city, liberal-leaning people are somehow not American, not "real" Americans anyway. So, um, do I get to stop paying my taxes now?

And the hate mongering at the rallies has been just awful. It turns my stomach to think that in 2008, we're still here, with race-baiting and nastiness. When screaming "Terrorist" and "Kill him" at rallies is okay, when John McCain tells Barack Obama during their last debate that he's proud of the people coming to their rallies, these people calling for his head. How is this even acceptable? These people even booed McCain himself when he tried to show some class and tell them to simmer down. It scares me that America still harbors these kind of people, who are so distrustful of someone who looks different and has a strange name that they'd rather see him killed than president.

I care about and love many Republicans -- my dad, sister in law, and two best friends from college just for starters. None of these people are evil, scary racists, nor are they stupid enough to believe Obama is some kind of terrorist. I don't know how they can justify this kind of stuff happening in their name (if you're reading, feel free to weigh in, guys).

I'm just really, really eager for it to be Novmber 5th and this all to be over.

6 Months


My darling Will:You've lived your first half year on this planet. And what a remarkable baby you are. Sweet, good natured, pleasant, laid-back -- when you were a newborn, your Papa described you as "easy to get along with."And you are. You fuss when you're hungry, when you hurt from your teeth (those awful teeth which are causing your great discomfort but refuse to just break through already) or a stomachache, or when you're tired and don't get why we won't just lay you in your crib.Other than that, you're just chill. You don't like to be alone, and will protest vigorously if I put you in, say, the exersaucer and move out of sight. But as long as you know where I am, you're perfectly happy to amuse yourself, rolling around or playing with toys or eating your feet.One thing you've been doing since you were a newborn that just melts my heart is to stop crying and relax almost the minute your Daddy or I pick you up. I can't put into words how that makes me feel, to know I am your comfort and that just being held by me makes yourelax and feel like all will probably be right with your world, eventually.You're also funny. You love to be tickled, especially when I kiss your ginormous pudgy cheeks or Daddy tickles your "Dunlop" (where your big belly "done lops" over the top of your diaper. It's a bad family joke. There are many. I apologize in advance). We dance together, you and I, and you squeal with delight when I spin you around and lift you over my head or swing you back and forth. I'm fairly convinced you're a genius because you now get all excited when I walk over to the CD player and turn it on. And you've just learned to blow raspberries -- and that it makes me laugh -- so you do that a lot.I tell you you're cute, or gorgeous, or a great baby about nine million times a day, because you really are. You aren't a super smiley guy, but your smiles, when they come, are sweet and genuine and absolutely adorable. You are as chubby and solid and delightful as can be --we have nicknamed you Yokozuna, which is the highest level of sumo wrester, because of your chub. You have great squeezy thighs and multiple chins and pudgy little fingers and rolls of fat at your ankles and wrists. I don't worry, because your sister was the same way at your age and now she is a tall skinny stringbean of a girl -- and actually, you look almost exactly like your daddy at the same age too.You're interested in the world around you, too. It's wonderful to watch you just look and observe things. We've moved you into the sitting-up part of the stroller, and you loooovvve being able to face forward. I miss being able to see you and chat with you, but you really like greeting the world.Your eyes are changing --they were dark gray at birth, and now are, surprisingly, changing into the same hazel green as mine. I'm selfishly pleased that one of you will have an obvious genetic marker that you came from me, and glad that if its anything it's the somewhat unusal eye color we share with my dad's side of the family. Your eyes are the same huge and arresting shape as Maggie's, though, with the same long dark lashes. I think our father and I are screwed if the two of you choose to team up and beg for things.I'm recognizing in you now the same baby I used to tell "settle down in there!" when you were still inside my body. You kick those strong little legs with great enthusiasm and can pull HARD when you reach for things. You're really close to sitting up on your own. And you're so far the kind of kid who thinks things through. I don't see you making a lot of multiple att[...]

Thank God


It's over.

I thought I'd be happy. I'm not. I'm sad, sad it came to this, sad such a promising politician destroyed himself --and nearly destroyed his city --because of his own failings.

And I am angry. Angry at Kilpatrick's smirky demeanor in court, angry that he chose to go after the governor instead of just apologize and be done with it, and especially angry that he seems, still, to want to point the finger at everybody else, that he shows no real regret for putting the city through this, that it's someone else's fault.

And especially angry that his last line last night was "Detroit, you have set me up for a comeback."

So help me God if he gets re-elected I am done. We'll abandon our house, turn our backs on the city, and just walk away. We're through. They don't deserve us, or anybody who truly wants to make a difference here.

And that's all.

The good,the bad, and the ugly


The Good:Maggie was in swim classes at the Y this week. First of all, nothing is cuter than a happy little three-year-old in her "swimming suit"and her hair in a ponytail and her goggles (she insisted), making friends with her whole class and embracing her pal from preschool that was taking the class with her.And nothing will break your heart more than standing behind the plate glass window that flanks the pool and watching that three year old scream and sob in full, abject terror once she got in the water and realized how deep it was (almost exactly as deep as she is tall).After class, she walked through the showers holding her instructor's hand and just stood there, eyes, nose and cheeks beet red from crying, her little shoulders slumped and a look of total defeat on her face. I held my arms out to her and she grabbed onto me for a long time, wailing.But I am so proud of that little girl of mine. Despite her terror, despite sobbing the whole way home that she didn't like swimming class and she was too scared to go in the pool, despite spending the whole next day intermittently bursting into tears about how scared she was, brave little Maggie went to class the next day, and the next. We'd asked her to give it one more try, thinking she might be OK once the initial strangeness of the pool faded, and told her she didn't have to go again if she didn't want to after the second night.Well, that night a private lesson didn't show, so the instructor who was there for the lesson took Maggie aside and just drifted with her slowly through the water, talking her through it and coaxing her to try paddling with her feet and then her arms. I was gone, but Paul told me she was absolutely joyous at the end of class.The next night didn't go well -- I was half laughing, half heartbroken watching her literally crabwalk backwards from the side of the pool when her turn was approaching, so we told her she'd given it a good try like she asked and she didn't have to go tonight, the last night of class, if she didn't want to.She opted not to go, which was fine with us. Overindulgent? Probably, but she's three. And was petrified.I'm just so proud of her for trying again. She did something a lot of adults can't do -- fail at something, be terrified of it, and go back to face it again, even though she was scared. Her strong will is driving me crazy right now, but that's the flipside of it, right there -- that little girl is made of tough stuff. And I couldn't be more proud.Props to the swim instructors at South Oakland Y, too -- they could not have been kinder or more encouraging, congratulating her for doing a great job, ending class with high fives, and gently urging her to try when she was freaking out.So that Olympic swimming gold? Probably not going to Maggie. The BadIt''s good she's done something so great because SHE IS KILLING ME. Twice she's peed on the floor (once) and the couch (once), on purpose. She knows how to get to the potty, knows how to get on it, and both times it was after she asked me to come sit with her and I was busy, so she revenge peed. ARGH. And she took off running away from me at Target, giggling. Like it was a game. And today at the park, same deal (toward a very busy street, no less) and then looked right at me and said "NO" while she shook her head when I asked her to leave the milk jug alone and close the fridge, I would get her her milk in a minute. I had her in a time out for like ten minutes, and yesterday I think it stretched to twenty, and I yelled at her so loud I[...]

I am alive


And sorry it's been so long since I posted. My new gig is keeping me hopping, and most things I would typically sound off on over here I have been saving for Strollerderby.And quite frankly, things have been less than great over here. Parenting two kids is kicking my ass. Hard. Will has been teething, poor little guy, so he is cranky and gritchy and not too into the whole "sleep" thing. One night a few weeks ago, I flopped down onto the couch, exhausted, next to Paul and said "Remember that baby we had? The one that would go down easily, even the mythical "drowsy but awake"? The one that would sleep seven or eight hours at a stretch? I want THAT baby back."Which would be doable, except Maggie is going through A Phase right now, at least I hope it's a phase, that has me seriously considering walking the hell out of here and never coming back on especially bad days. She's just awful, quite frankly. She screams at me, she's kicked us, and she openly defies what she's been told to do and not do. Like looks right at us and does it with what can only be described as a "screw you" look on her little face.Which makes me feel like the most incompetent, stupid, ineffectual mother on the planet. Nobody else seems to get this kind of behavior out of their kid, at least no one who, you know, actually parents them versus letting them run wild. The people I know have lovely children. I feel like people are either watching her behave like a maniac and thinking "Who is that child's mother??" or hearing me say "Maggie, stop touching that! Margaret, come back here! Mar. Gar.Et. Put. That. Down" while she capers around like a mountain goat on crack and think I am Hell Bitch.Here's an example: We went to a wedding this weekend, one of my cousins. I love my mom's side of the family, I have a bajillion cousins and some of the awesomest aunts and uncles on the planet. We decided to spend the money and time and go, thinking it would be so much fun to watch Maggie dance with her cousins and carry on.But disaster on top of disaster (we couldn't get her to nap, and dinner took forever to be served, and I made her stop running around and fondling the ice sculpture), and sure enough, Melt. Down. Our fun family night was over by 9 pm. On the way home the next day, when she'd finally fallen asleep, I asked Paul if he thought she might be, you know, "diagnosable." Or is her issue just that she's three and a half coupled with a very strong will?Monday night, she fought going to bed tooth and nail and showed up in our room (for the first time) twice to tell us she couldn't sleep. She's been getting up before 7 every morning, and with Will still up at least twice a night and me usually working until 10:30-11ish that REALLY blows. She finally copped to having nightmares last night, and with lots of cuddling and encouragement, got herself to sleep and stayed there.The worst part is, his behavior makes me not want to be around my daughter. My daughter, who is beautiful and charming and delightful and one of my favorite people, who is growing up so fast I feel like she'll be in college in about a week. And I am not enjoying Will and his utter deliciousness (seriously, were I to post a picture right now you'd be threatening to eat him with a spoon with the chubby thighs and the enormous cheeks and the sweet smile) as much as I should because I am just so damn exhausted all the time.It just feels like other people can handle all this, too. Other people keep up with their blogs and hold down[...]

Meme, meme!


Oz and Zellner both tagged me for this, the "Six random things" meme. I've actually had this ready to go for awhile and finally can get links going. So, here are six random things about moi:

1) I am terrified of chickens. Like, seriously phobic. If you want to see me freak right the fuck out, present me with a live, clucking, flapping chicken. Yes, I do eat chicken, the only good one is a dead one.

I went to a college that had a major agricultural sciences program, and there was a building where chicken research happened. Rumor had it it was all in the basement. I got stuck with a class there once and had to use the bathrooom IN THE BASEMENT. I swear I have never been so jumpy--I kept convincing myself I heard rustling wings and was totally sure I would open the door of the stall to find a chicken gang cornering me.

And my friends are all enormously amused by this, damn them. I cannot tell you the amount of chicken stuff I own. And at least two former boyfriends wanted to buy me a baby chick, thinking I might get over the terror if I raised one from a cute little fluffy chick. Would have been a gigantic fail. As were the boyfriends.

2) I'm really bad at creative arty-crafty things, like crocheting, sewing and painting. But I love doing all three. Luckily I don't have to be especially good at something to enjoy it.

3) To paraphrase Anne Lamott, many of my friends are surprised I am religious --I mean I am surprised I am religious. I'm pretty irreverent by nature, am quite the liberal, and I was an atheist, agnostic, and raging anti-Catholic for years, so it still surprises me I get up and go to church most Sundays and love my church community.

4) I want to change my hairstyle and am stalking good haircuts lately. I haven't worn it this long since I was 27, 10 years ago. Nothing's more aging than long flippy hair on someone with wrinkles, etc, and let's just say another thing I am stalking is a good eye cream. I think I want a Pob. Which would be a bitch to grow out if I am wrong. Thoughts? (NOTE: Since I wrote this, I have gotten a fabulous modified short in the back, long in the front, awesome, cool, I love it bob. Still looking for help on the eye cream, though. Issues are dark circles, puffiness and fine lines, and I would prefer to not spend $85).

5) I used to be a vegetarian. Now I am not. We eat 2-3 meatless dinners a week, probably, around here but that tends to be by circumstance, not actual planning.

6) I use my male cat's name when I sign up for mailing lists, etc. Casey gets a lot of mail. And he's dumber than a box of hair, so even people attempting to reach the nine-year-old, wildly affectionate, pampered-housecat demographic would probably be disappointed.

Hmm, whom shall I tag? How 'bout Summer, , Nictoria, and Brett?

Where I have been


So I have a nifty new gig! I am the Detroit correspondent for Savvy Source. My mission, along with the 17 other bloggers in several big cities, is to write about cool, fun educational things to do with your kids here in tha D.
Go here:

And check it out. I am, to put it mildly, open to suggestion (AmyPT, anything you can suggest on the East Side would be awesome). It's been insane working toward launch, but I think it's going to be a blast once we get going. And I totally feel like I get to sit at the cool table what with the bloggers we have involved.

Joy Comes in the Morning


Yesterday marked the fourth Mother's Day that didn’t suck for me since, well, about since I've been in my 30s.

The beginning part of the decade was marked by a really rocky relationship with my own mother. She was in the midst of this utterly ridiculous midlife crisis that caused a lot of questionable behavior, including separating from my father. The first year we were in our house, I carefully planned with her what she might want to do and what she'd be comfortable with given the broken nature of my family. I prepared a nice brunch for her and my grandmother, cleaning and cooking and buying a gift, only to get a call the next morning that she was too sick to come.

The sickness in question being a raging case of brown-bottle flu, since she and her friend had been boozing it up at the Bue Martini the night before. And this behavior was not atypical.

In my mom's defense, that remains the worst thing she's ever done to me.

And Mother's Day when you're going through infertility is just a minefield of hell. I had to stop going to church that day — I just couldn’t take it anymore.

And then came Maggie, and suddenly I was the mother on Mother's Day.

Last year, my friend Karyn gave birth to her long-awaited second son the day before Mothers' Day, and I got the call the next afternoon as I arrived home from church. My period had started that day too, and I remember thinking as Maggie clambered on me as I tried to listen to the message that my period coming on Mothers' Day was the kind of thing that used to really suck, but instead I was just happy for my friend and hopeful for myself.

Of course, I had no way of knowing that was the last period I’d have for a year, that the cycle I began that day would result in the pregnancy that would result in Will.

My sweet little Will, who was baptized Saturday, again the day before Mother's Day, in a ceremony I couldn’t help but feel marked the closing of a circle and a rebirth for both me and my baby. From hurting daughter and barren wife to a joyful mother, dipping my son in the holy water, my daughter and godson looking on. From feeling like an outcast in my church community and like my family would never heal, to being warmed by the glow of the family Paul and I created and my parents, standing together, reunited.

A day that once pointed out everything I lacked was, yesterday, a reminder of everything I have gained. And to say I am grateful is not enough. I am redeemed.