Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where You Can Gloat Over My Abysmal Mothering

The morning was more chaotic than usual: get everyone dressed and fed! Drive big boys to school! Watch Keane run at the school's Run 4 Fun! Drop off Will at preschool! Stop for large latte! Go to Colette's Kindermusik class! Go BACK to school to watch Rory Run 4 Fun!

So when Colette and I finally got home, I was a bit frazzled. Alas, it was bathroom cleaning day. So I began absentmindedly scrubbing the sink, while Colette watched with her own cloth. She started pointing to some cosmetic on my sink that she wanted to hold, and after seven or eight tries - this one, Colette? THIS one? - I got it right: she wanted to hold my toner. So - I gave it to her.

Why? I don't know. I guess I underestimated her ability to take off lids.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Next thing I know, she has taken off the lid, tilted her head back and is taking a big swig. Like it's a flask of Frangelico. I yelled and grabbed it from her before she got too much; she did get some, though, because she started to cry and spit.

Mother of the Decade! That's me!

So I called Poison Control (they're on speed dial, of course), and after describing the ingredients of my Olay Refreshing Toner, and the amount I think she had, the nice calm guy said she could act a little drunk from the alcohol. She might have a little diarrhea, but it didn't sound like any big deal. And with that, she was ready for a Lunchable.

She seems fine now, although she was a wee bit silly before her nap. Like a sorority girl after a cooler or two. Me? Shaken up. Feeling like a total idiot. Motherhood never lets you feel too experienced, too laid back, too SMUG for long.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beauty is Only Skin...Deep Pockets

What? What's that I hear? It's sunny? It feels like...spring chez vous? You have broken out the short sleeve shirts and perhaps a semi-juvenile floral sundress or two? You're awakening from a long winter slump? Oh...and you're in the mood to spend a wee bit of cheddar?

Well, don't you fret: you can always count on me for suggestions on how to fritter away some hard earned dough. Guess what the good brothers Nordstrom have to offer us:

Yes, free gifts! Swag for the rest of us! I'm a sucker for these. Just like party favors for a thirty something, or Jelly Bellies for mamas. So if you spend a mere $100 you get...a bunch of delicious little samples worth (ahem?) $70! And...if you spend $35 more you get a deluxe gift from Caudalie! (And yes, I got the bonus gift...and a gift from Lancome to boot. So, I spent a bit. Don't worry, PVT! It will last me a LONG time! And I will look hot! Or, as hot as a lumpy pregnant chick with varicose veins can look!)

Now I'm not sure who is pricing these samples. Someone who probably orders a $1,349 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild with their weekly dinner at the local Frenchy foodie joint. I DOUBT all these trinkets would retail for over seventy dollars. BUT...if you have to stock up anyway? I need a plethora of this for my poor overworked hair, which has just survived another moisture-sucking Oklahoma winter, and must now withstand the tornado-esque gusts that come sweeping down the proverbial plain. I need vast quantities of eye cream, to fight the angry feet of stomping crows. I need night cream to atone for all those (these) years of hard boozin'.

So...yes, it's probably just a big PLOY. But if all these baubles aren't worth $70...I certainly get at LEAST $70 worth of happiness of sorting through it all when it arrives.

Just call it...Jillonomics.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Handbang Reflections

This is my beloved Juicy purse:

It's lovely, yes? A beautiful soft buttery pink (yes, sorry. I'm a bit prepubescent in my taste. Neiman Molly, sophisticated urban lawyer, and wearer of all things neutral, just threw up a little in her mouth looking at a PINK purse), with plenty of room for fruit snacks and juice babas.

Alas, it is getting a bit...worn. I got it for myself as a "push present" (or, in my case, slice and dice present) after my second son was born. He is five and a half now. I bought it in a postpartum hormonal haze, and PVT was so horrified with the price ($350!) that I returned it once. Money was even sketchier back then, so it was not - and still is not - a small sum. I'm not sure if he relented, or I "rebelled," but I RE-bought it, and have loved the heck out of each buck I spent on the thing since.

So I think that if I do indeed bear a healthy child this September, I will celebrate with a NEW Juicy purse.

Something obnoxious like this:

I am a sucker for blingy metallic accessories like this. And a mere $398? PVT, some women insist on DIAMONDS for pushing out one measly kid. I'm on kid FIVE. C-Section FOUR. So I'm not being unreasonable.

Um, right?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick! I'm Feeling Oppressed! Get me a Light!

Take a peak at this delectable little tidbit from the Motherlode blog. Apparently this little tome about the "oppression" of mothers is a bestseller in France. Here is a summary of the book:

You wanted to be the perfect mother, so you gave up work, shopping, sex and all the other things you loved to breastfeed, make purees and wash nappies. But it's proving to be an exhausting, strife-ridden, painful experience.

Here's an answer. Give the baby a bottle and have a drink and a smoke, too, if it takes your fancy. Then turn to industrial baby food, disposable nappies and a childcare arrangement that allows you to get your life back.

Not only will you free yourself from the Great Oppressor (we're talking about the baby here, not the father), but you will become a role model for angst-filled contemporaries and encourage a long-term rise in the national birth rate.

I have to admit, I rather love this. (Perhaps because I'm half French, and it appeals to some atavistic longing to be chain smoking Gauloises in a Left Bank Cafe). Yes, I have a buttload of kids that I breastfed (nursing while nursing my Pinot Noir). Yes, I gave up work (but I was a CPA. Not exactly fun.). But give up SHOPPING? SEX? (Erm. Obviously haven't given up that.) HOOCH? If I pureed my own baby food, homeschooled, and disinfected cloth diapers, I'm afraid I'd would have strangled myself on the crib sheets long long ago.

Perhaps the point is this: no matter how "good" something purports to be for your child or the environment, if it drives you to the point that you become a shrieking, nagging, harridan (haven't we all been there?), it JUST ISN'T WORTH it. If breastfeeding makes you feel suffocated, don't do it. Can't stand bleaching another cloth diaper? You're worth more than an overflowing landfill. And no child ever met his demise in a jar of non-organic pea mush.

Just remember to have some fun, mummies. Buy some impractical shoes. Bribe a sitter and go swill some gin for lunch one day. Book a weekend in Vegas. Just don't give up your life for your kids. They don't want you to. They don't need all that guilt.

As for me? Maybe I'll take up smoking.

Oh, DON'T worry. After this baby is born.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Toast to All You Quincy Girls (And a Boo Hoo for Moi!)

Hark! Here, my friends, you can read about those lucky ladies (and perhaps a few men) who get to shop at a new Nordstrom come Friday!

Sob, sob. I have never actually been to a store opening; I imagine the floors quake and heave as they do at the Anniversary Sale, all those crazed, frenzied estrogen-bombs grabbing espadrilles and free microdermabrasion kits with the purchase of oscillating mascara. Ah! Such fortunate girls!

For the rest of us who live in Nordstrom-less retail wastelands, we can content ourselves with tinkering around online:

But it's just not the same, is it?

Now that we VTs are home from the East Coast, I will readily admit it was wonderful to return to our house and not another hotel room for six. But I was ambivalent about returning to Tulsa. Even after three years here, I still don't feel like this town is home. If only I had a Nordstrom to escape to - not simply to buy more leopard print stilettos and Geox shoes for my boys, but just to BE amongst all the beautiful baubles. To soak up all that rainbow retail beauty. To be among those Nordstrom employees, who may not know my name, per se, but know my account and Level 2 rewards status!

Yes, you can call me shallow. But everyone has their means of lifting their souls up from the nine-to-six muck, or the endless flow of kid poopies and bougars. And while PVT thanks the Lord the nearest Nordstrom is a four hour drive, I will continue my pining...until perhaps one day the good Nordstrom brothers deem us backward Okies worthy of their inimitable presence.

Until then, Quincy girls...sniff some shoes for me! Grab a white chocolate mocha at the eBar! Make sure you get the cutest shoe salesman (they all wear suits - as if buying shoes weren't enough of an aphrodisiac) to fetch your spring thongs! And congratulate yourself on your good purchases and fun at the Cafe with a glass of Pinot Grigio...

And hide that Nordstrom bill from your husband.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where My Weird Obsession May Come in Useful

While we were tooling around Virginia, a lovely reporter from the Quincy, Massachusetts, newspaper emailed me. Why, you ask? Well, the good Nordstrom brothers are opening a store there! One of only three Nordstroms that are opening in the universe this year. Ah, how I was slain with envy!

This really doesn't have anything to do with me, of course, except that Dana, the reporter, was Googling around to discover why, exactly, shoppers are so enamored of Nordstrom. She stumbled upon my little blog, and wanted to interview me for my thoughts about the Mother Ship.

WHAT? Someone wants to TALK to me about my favorite fluff-filled topic? And write about the conversation in a NEWSPAPER? REALLY?

When Dana did call, I was changing a load of laundry, wiping a kid bottom, and on my way out - ah, the coincidence! - with my mother and assorted children to the Norfolk, Virginia Nordstrom. I am sure she thought I had had a few mimosas that morning, so garbled and incoherent was I from nerves and excitement. I have never been INTERVIEWED, before, people. So mundane has been my life thus far. But after a while I was able to answer a few questions, I hope, that did not sound like the rantings of a drunken, crazed shopaholic.

What, exactly, is it that makes Nordstrom special? My take:

First, the atmosphere: the soft lighting, the cleanliness, the (sometimes) live piano tinkling softly, the spacious walkways, the uncluttered departments that are crap-free and easy to navigate. The merchandise is always easily visible and accessible; you never feel you have to dig through a bunch of garbage to find what you're looking for. Every department is carefully edited for aesthetic and psychic appeal. Even the sale racks are neatly organized and not overwhelming. Compare this relative oasis of zen calm to entering, say, a Macy's, with the obnoxious signage, the hard fluorescent lighting, the racks of messy retail vomit. UGH. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

And of course one can't talk about Nordstorm without marveling about their famed customer service. You can enter Nordstrom with unwashed hair, covered in baby spit up and hauling many screaming children (yes, this is personal recollection), and the salespeople will, almost without exception, greet you warmly and ask if you need help. Somehow they manage to be friendly but not aggressive. Nordstrom teaches their employees to treat all people, regardless of appearance, equally and with respect. Because, hey, you never know who's out to spend a lot of money.

Their return policy, too, encourages loyalty. Rumor has it that someone once successfully returned a TIRE to Nordstrom. I can neither confirm nor deny this rumor, but I know that I have returned worn shoes and partially used cosmetics that I was not happy with, and every time was accommodated without question.

Another plus? Yes, Nordstrom carries the high end designers with the attendant prices that make us stay at home housewives heave tears of agony. But unlike a Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman or Saks, you can still find merchandise that is trendy and affordable. Point of View has decent selections for mere mortals; and the Brass Plum, for juniors, has cute, stylish pieces for practically nothing. There is something for EVERYONE at Nordstrom.

And, of course, the SHOES. Everywhere I go I get comments on my shoes. The buyers must be blessed with some magic pixie dust ability to select a staggering variety of unique and noteworthy footwear. Again, while they do have shoes for the socialite's budget,

they also have many selections for those of us who operate at less lofty echelons:

These are a few of the meandering thoughts I hope I spat out somewhat articulately for Dana. What do you think, my friends? Did I miss anything?

Last Eve on the Eastern Seaboard

Here are my landlocked monsters, enjoying the Atlantic Ocean:

And yes, after three boys I consistently clothe my daughter in various combinations of pink vomit:

Now we are back home from a chaotic yet successful tour of the East in lovely Tulsa, Oklahoma...where it is snowing.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Trip to the Mother Ship. AT LAST.

After seven grueling days of family vacationing, which has included sightseeing in the rain with our children (I believe I was the first to call uncle in our nation's capital, after many long rainy blocks - much to PVT's chagrin), refereeing the additional bickering that comes with unfamiliar territory (mostly children's bickering. Really!), many emergency pee runs (just a few in totally inappropriate places), more McDonald's consumption than any person should eat in a lifetime, and 34,893 steps up to the top of various Great Wolf Lodge waterslides (OK, OK. PVT, SuperDad nominee for March 2010, climbed all of these stairs while I splashed with the babies in gurgling fountains below), we have finally landed at Tarzhay Miss's abode near Norfolk, Virginia.


Ahhhhh. Such a balm for the soul. The soft, mauve lighting; the lack of loud signage and retail vomit that usually greets you when you enter most emporiums (think: Macy's, Dillard's); the ubiquitously friendly yet not pushy salespeople; all the beautiful baubles that you don't have to buy but simply gaze upon to lift your mood.

I did buy a few things: a cute, cheap floral dress from Brass Plum that can expand a bit; a dress for Colette; a couple pairs of kiddie shoes...not much, but I felt quite FULFILLED. So fulfilled, in fact, that I think I will survive these last few days of VT Vacation 2010.

I am not so sure about PVT, who may never recover from all this family bonding.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Departing from Dodge

A frisson of excitement is zipping through the VT compound! After many long months of freezing our limbs off in Tulsa, we are going on a TRIP! Yes, all six or so of us are flying to Washington, D.C. to visit Neiman Molly, and then we'll meander through Virginia down to Norfolk, where Tarzhay Miss is currently residing with her family. We will also see my parents in Norfolk, where my Dad will be running his 38,384th marathon.

What, you ask? You call that a VACATION, flying with four young children? Well, yes! I am not cooking or cleaning or driving in my same half mile circle! It should be just the change of milieu I need. PVT, on the other hand? He will be happy to return to the oasis of calm adult sanity that is his JOB.

And how many Nordstroms does the state of Virginia have? Seven. SEVEN! Can you imagine? I don't think I need to tell you that's SEVEN more than the state of Oklahoma. I intend to do a bit of reconnaissance work at MOST of them.

My conundrum: I know many of you will be waiting ANXIOUSLY to hear about the chaos that ensues on our trip. But: I do not know how to Tweet. Neither PVT nor I will schlep a laptop, since we have to tote 342 carry ons and 4 children. I am not cool enough to have an iPhone or Blackberry (PVT being of the opinion that a stay at home mom with no source of income WHATSOEVER does not need an iPhone. I reluctantly agree. Alas!) So: how will I keep you abreast of our various calamities? Any suggestions? Do I really have to learn how to Tweet?

Don't fret, dears. I will think of SOMETHING.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Scary Peak Into the Mind of a Gestating Female

A day or so ago Keane asked me when I would go to the doctor again to find out "whether the baby was still alive."

AARGH. I guess we all learned together that the breathtaking fragility of the first trimester applies to EVERYONE. Me included.

So, yesterday, I went to the doctor. And sheesh. I guess once you've had a miscarriage, every doctor's visit is fraught with drama. While I suspected everything was fine, since I have continued to feel like a bloated, seasick beluga, when I climbed up on the ultrasound table, I was shaking. The doctor, sensing my distress, almost immediately said: "A lot of movement today..." Mensan that I am, I deduced that...movement means...alive! Movement means a heartbeat! And what a gorgeous heartbeat: 176 beats per minute. Woo hoo! I even got a lovely picture of the tadpole (which I will refrain from posting, because ultrasound pictures tend portray adorable little amphibian/aliens, rather repulsive to everyone except to the parents).

Of course by this time I was a sobbing mess, which I was a bit chagrined about, but I suppose OB's see a LOT of emotional, hormonal females. It's probably a worse gig than being a husband.

So now I will stop worrying about miscarriage for AT LEAST a day or so. Then, perhaps if all goes well, in a few weeks, I'll get to worry about the results of the nuchal translucency ultrasound! Down's syndrome and Trisomy 18! And then....maybe I'll get to worry about congenital heart defects! Or other more benign anatomical malformations, like cleft palates! And then: preeclampsia! Pre term labor!

Ah, to get to the point in my pregnancy where all I have to worry about is whether my baby is merely UGLY. That will be bliss.

Lest you Think I Have Been Too Serious Lately

Look what's afoot at Nordstrom! It is ALWAYS worth a look at a Nordstrom shoe sale, even if you are subsisting on ramen and Franzia.

Here you may find the good...

The delicious...

The intriguing...

The horrific....

And the WTF?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where I am Catty and Talk Smack about A Famous Blogger

I'm sure a lot of you mommys have heard or read about "MckMama" from the famous blog "My Charming Kids." Her blog's popularity exploded after her youngest child was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia - essentially a very dangerous rapid heartbeat - in utero. After a dramatic first year with the little boy, he was finally cured after a risky surgery. Her blog now receives over 1 MILLION hits per month, and she is able to SUPPORT her family from ads on the blog.

So, yes, I'm a bit JEALOUS.

It is an excellent blog, though: her photographs are stunning, her writing is pretty solid and she is prolific - she updates the darn thing once or twice daily. Sometimes she writes very LONG posts on Christianity (which can get a bit tiresome; yes, I'm Catholic, but we don't actually TALK about our religion that much). But all in all, she does a fabulous job. And to keep churning up drama, she is now pregnant with her fifth child.

Here is what irks me a bit: she travels quite often for blogging conferences or Christian get togethers and such. Some of this is necessary for professional reasons, I'm sure. But now she and her husband have just left on a trip to Kenya for some "compassionate missionary" work with children there.

Um, huh? Her own children are 5, 3, 2, and 1. She is leaving them for weeks to flit into the lives of poor Kenyan children. What good is her brief presence going to do these children in the long term? Certainly the publicity her blog generates for these children might result in some short-term financial aid. But here's my take: save the vague Christian showboating for when your own kids are in college. Your little ones need you NOW. Not to mention the dubious wisdom of embarking on a physically grueling trip while you're pregnant.

I'm sure her kids are fine with whomever they're staying with. And I'm not saying that mommies need to be chained to their children all the time. Of course not! Obviously mothers need to travel professionally on occasion. And the healing powers of a weekend of mimosas and spa treatments with the girls cannot be overestimated. But a trip to another country, of this magnitude, for dubious payoff? I say nope.

Yes, I suppose, I'm just another mother criticizing another mother - another voice in the "Mommy Wars," when we shouldn't be judging each other, we're all trying to do our best, blah blah blah. I know that.

I am also of the school, though, that your mind can't be so open that your brains fall out.

So now I've opened myself up for you all to criticize my many iffy parenting choices. Including writing this post while I completely ignore my own 3 and 1 year old.