T – 1 Day: Ironman Has More Pizzazz Than I Do.

English: Screenshot of Julie Andrews from the ...

If I were Mary Poppins, I’d be making this look a whole lot easier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9:30 on the night before the party. I don’t have the energy to write, scrub the chocolate off the floor, empty and reload the dishwasher, paint the last coat of red on Ironman’s throat (yes, this morning I sawed off his head, lengthened his neck, and stuck his head back on), or lift Mbot in my arms and carry him from the sofa, where he fell asleep watching Mary Poppins.

Ironman is, but for the layer of paint, done. Pictures to come Sunday. My camera’s still broken, and Husbot is too tired from running interference all week to post pics from the Droid.

The monster cake is finished. Baked. Decorated. The marshmallow fluff frosting recipe (untested) off the internet is WAY to sweet, so I’ll caution parents to steer clear. I used an extra paper mache sphere left over from The Big I for the monster’s head, atop two chocolate cakes–a recipe I’ve made fifty times in the past twenty years–in which, by mistake, I put double the amount of butter. Blame exhaustion. Blame measuring in the company of ansty fighting weebots. Blame anything you want. It still tastes good. This is no Hollywood party. This is a homemade, folk art-type shindig and the homemade-er, the better. Except for the OCD moments with Ironman.

10:04 pm: Okay…I scrubbed the chocolate off the floor. No one’s house is ever this clean for real, right? I’ve just stuffed everything in my “office” (read: a five-foot-long counter in my kitchen) into the cabinets. I’m kind of feeling like a fraud–or feeling like everyone’s a fraud, in some way. Even my butter dish is fraudulent. It’s from Anthropologie, a small, bright melon-colored butter dish of cuteness. This morning, it was full of 80-degree soft butter, some smished around the edges. This evening, after cake-making and pasta-preparing, it was empty, still with some smished around the edges. Tonight, after cleaning? Empty. With some smished on the inside. But the edges? Spotless. Does everyone do this? Am I the only fraudulent housekeeper, grownup, mother, woman, writer?

Mbot’s still on the sofa. Mary Poppins has left with the west wind. Husbot’s snoring. I’m thinking about hanging streamers. I’m looking across the room in the half-light at Ironman, whose neck just received a final dousing in ferrous-hued tempera, and he kind of reminded me of the alien in Prometheus. Insiduous.

Time to hang streamers.

11:20 pm. Streamers hung. Teeth brushed. Dishwasher emptied and loaded. Mbot lifted from the sofa and carried to bed. Sippy cup checked to make sure it was full. Gbot kissed goodnight. Nose held to his skin, inhaled, inhaled, trying to fix the smell of sleeping baby cheek in my memory, which seems to unhinge from everything these days.

Will I know better next year what to do and what not to do for a birthday party?

This morning, when I received a late RSVP “yes,” I told Mbot, “Hey! Jbot is coming!”

He said, “Isn’t she already on the list? And Mom? Can everyone come just one at a time?”

I know just how he feels. Birthday parties, except for the presents, for the most part suck ass. I said, “Moon Pie, it is easier and more fun to play with one friend at a time. I feel the same way. But everyone’s going to be here together tomorrow, just like school, and it’ll be fun, too.”

Who knows if I’m right?

At the last birthday party we attended, the newly four-year-old cried when she saw Chuck E. Cheese approaching her. “But she loves him!” cried her mom, in consternation.

So, who knows. It’s all an ongoing experiment.

Will tune in tomorrow.

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Texting at the Wheel is Nothing Compared to This

image from livingthetravelchannel.wordpress.com

On this, the fifth day of my mother’s visit, she awoke from a dream about her grandchildren. Now, Nanny is known for her vivid and amusing dreams (see Passengers in Zone 4, Please Board While Doing the Charleston) which take reality and give them a Coen brother’s twist. So this morning, after five days of nonstop bots–swimming, Stomach Center, more swimming, library craft hour, watching the bots while their mother went to traffic court (er…more on that later), water fights at Grandma’s, trying (in vain) to get my camera to work again after Mbot’s last photo shoot (it was ancient, it was time for it to die), etc., etc.–she told me the dream she’d had moments before waking.

She was driving, in a car on an interstate. The interstate was deserted except for a lone police car cruising in the opposite direction. Gbot was sitting on her lap.

Steering.

Suddenly a tollbooth appeared up ahead, resenting the imminent need to drive straight and decelerate. She decided it was time to take control. She awoke from the dream as she was trying, in vain, to pry his plump wee fingers from the wheel.

That pretty much sums up our week. We’ve taken the scenic route, but the bots have sped right by all the rest stops.

And now we’re off to the dinosaur museum. I’m going to drive. At least literally. Figuratively, I think we all know who’s at the wheel.

Passengers in Zone 4, Please Board While Doing the Charleston

My mother called the other day. We no longer live in the same house, or even the same time zone, but we talk several times a week. “I have to tell you about the dream I had,” she says.

Now, when most people start a conversation that way, you check your pockets for a cyanide tablet. When Mom starts a conversation that way, you clamp the phone tighter between your shoulder and your ear and wish you weren’t also helping someone use the potty, so you could give her your full attention.

“Do you have time?” she asks.

“Yes,” I fib.

She began. “We were standing side-by-side, about to get onto the plane, because everyone had to board two-by-two, and everyone had to do something different as they boarded. The stewardesses ahead of us had their blouses all bunched into their skirts, for whatever they were doing, and when it came our turn, we had to do the Charleston. Side by side. As we boarded the plane. I remember my main worry was that I was going to lose my purse off my shoulder, because we had to swing our arms, and so I put it over my head, too, you know, around my neck AND my arm. And I remember thinking, thank goodness we don’t have the boys, too. I mean, with your hands on your knees, and the kicking….”

“Don’t tell the TSA,” I warn her. “They just haven’t thought of it yet.”

She had subconsciously regenerated my experience of flying a month ago from Idaho to Arizona, accompanied only by a twenty-two month-old, a thirty-eight month-old, an antique, diabetic carry-on cat, and a stroller provided by my mother, that hadn’t been in service since it had carried my younger brother’s diapered ass in 1971. Diabetes of course means that a lot of peeing can be expected. A collapsible metal stroller thirty-five years old means that, in spite of extensive testing in the garage, where it actually seemed cool, it might collapse with your twenty-two month-old in it, in front of a long line of strangers at the security gate. Whoops.

I have flown fourteen times since Mbot was born: twice with him alone, twice with him and Gbot at T minus two months (literally under my belt. This would be a good time to emphasize not to wear a belt when traveling with small children. Because who will keep them from disappearing while you’re struggling to remove it, and then to put it back on, and in the interim, who will hold your pants up, while your hands are otherwise occupied with mutinous midgets? But then there was that time when it came in handy as a leash.)

I have flown alone with both of them six times. TSA and I have gotten to know each other well. Our most intimate moments occur in that high-stress zone immediately beyond the security gate, where I unscrew bottles of breast milk for them to hold scraps of paper over to ensure that one bottle isn’t nitrogen tetroxide and the other monomethyl hydrazine, while replacing the laptop and re-constructing the stroller and shoving three boarding passes and the cell phone back into my bra (see The Girl Pocket) and replacing the shoes of a toddler and an infant while holding their hands.

I also enjoy the part where you are removing  not only your own shoes but the monster slippers of the two-year old and the dragon slippers of the one-year old, while the single woman behind you with the briefcase and headset tightens her lips impatiently. Am I really misinformed here, or was Al Queda and the Taliban known for its recruitment and inclusion of women? Especially middle-aged white women lugging teddy bears?

I have a list over thirty items long of how to make it through security with infants, toddlers, strollers, and hormonal imbalance, but, having recently flown, I don’t have the energy to write it down.

The only good thing about traveling with small children is that you eventually get where you are going, and you do not have to spend fourteen hours wishing you had a glass divider between the front seats and the back. The only other good thing is that strangers, reminded of how grateful they are not to be you, often offer to help. They carry bags. They attempt to re-construct the stroller. Except when it was built before the first Arab oil embargo and collapses with your child in it. Then they cease making eye contact, no doubt fearing potential liability and also suspecting that you are actually, really, in fact, insane. I pushed over the boundary last time around, with the stroller and the cat. Don’t do. it. I repeat: Do not do it.

Eight hundred words and I haven’t even gotten around to describing the joys of being on board. Even with midgets who are generally quite well-behaved. Even with bags of Goldfish and raisins. Even with two portable DVD players and two magnadoodles and pipe cleaners and crayons and Play Doh and Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

It’s not really flying. It’s falling, with style.

Or without.

Does the end justify the means?