Tine vs. Sneaky Sneakersons

I'm usually fairly observant and suspicious, so there isn't much that can get the best of me as far as surprises go. However, every once in a while, I really get engrossed in what I'm doing and fall victim to accidental sneak attacks. Most often it occurs when I'm running on my treadmill. I'll be happily clocking it in at 6+ miles an hour, completely absorbed in reruns of "Xena Warrior Princess," which are blaring at an earsplitting volume to be heard over the treadmill. And then, for no reason at all, my hubby will quietly slip downstairs like a stealthy little ninja and then bellow "Hey!" a mere two inches from my head. Of course I howl in shock, whip my head around, and try to defend myself. This usually results in a good 30 seconds of stumbling and tripping on a speedy conveyor belt as I try to avoid getting the smack down by my treadmill. After I regain my composure, he always says "Oh sorry, I thought you saw me." Really. Honey, when Xena is kicking someone's ass on screen, you better believe my eyes aren't wandering anywhere. I'm in ass-kickin'-learnin'-mode and have no idea what else is going on in the world. How long has he known me? I think he just enjoys watching my close call antics on the treadmill. 

The hubby is the most common offender of sneaky sneakerson, but I'm not immune to scare tactics by strangers. In fact, those are far more dangerous because there is a higher probability that someone will be severely mauled, and it ain't me. Peshaw. I've got thighs like an American Gladiator and fists that are lightening fast. Better believe I'm the one doing the mauling. The other day I was walking a trail with my kids. I was being a cruel mommy and making my son walk, so we were moving at a snail's pace. I stayed to the right to allow the other trail users to pass us as needed. As I was pushing Alex' stroller up a 60 degree killer hill, I heard grass rustling off to my right. I turned my head to see what sort of mischief my son was getting into and I was beyond alarmed when I saw this large man barreling past me....way too closely. I screeched in my get-ready-for-an-ass-whoopin' primal scream and he tripped over himself trying to get away. He said "You scared me!" I was thinking "Dude, you don't know the half of it. You were almost the unlucky recipient of a sterilizing kick to the groin and a face-altering right hook to the face." Seriously. Who passes someone on the right side in the grass when there is perfectly good open trail to the left?!?!?! Especially when that someone is a mother lioness with her cubs on a deserted trail? He doesn't know how close to disfigurement he came. Due to my incredible self control, he WILL live another day with the ability to procreate...he's a lucky man. 

And why is it always the male species to be the sneaky sneakersons? I don't know what that says about us ladies..."I am woman, hear me roar?" Maybe. Or perhaps we just like to let our presence be known at ALL times. Anyway, my son must be in some sort of secret apprenticeship with my hubby. I still have a monitor in my son's room so I can hear him when he gets up, either in the morning or at night. My hubby likes to tease me that I'm going to keep it in there until the kid is 12. Hell, I'm keeping it in there the entire time he's living under my roof! Let's see him try to sneak a little missy miss in that room for a makeout session when he knows mom's got the "bug" planted in there. But I digress. Okay, so there is a monitor in his room, not that its needed. He's totally incapable of getting up quietly and he has absolutely no volume control. He wakes up happy and ready to start his day and he announces all of his activities as if he's a sports broadcaster. "MOMMY! I'M PEEING." Two minutes later, "MOMMY, I'M WASHING MY HANDS." A minute later, "MOMMY, I'M GETTING DRESSED." Thanks for the blow-by-blow briefing of your morning Johnny, I don't know how I would have started my day without that. So imagine my unexpected terror when one morning, I open my eyes preparing to start my first hour of the day in full on grump mode (as usual) and there is my son...so close to my face that the eye boogers in his eyeball crevices were the size of boulders. I inhaled so sharply with fright that I almost swallowed my dang tongue. He said in a very cute voice "Good morning Mommy." Yeah, not likely. I think I need to go get my heart checked out. Did it start back up again? Oh good. Sheesh!

Tine vs. Sneaky Sneakersons....goes to the Sneaky Sneakersons. I don't even know what to say on this matter. I think the only way this could have gone to Tine is if I had actually annihilated that runner on the trail the other day and laid him out in the grass like he deserved. That would have been awesome.

Tine vs. The Interrogator

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again until my brilliant idea is realized. The U.S. military should use four-year-olds to interrogate terrorists. Yes, it may be cruel and unusual punishment (for the terrorists), but let's put it into action before that matter can be decided by lawmakers. Who knows, we might find Bin Laden before all of those human rights activists can picket and stop our information mining operation. The great thing about this idea is that the four-year-olds will gladly do their job without much need for motivation, they love to ask questions. They'll enjoy their work so much that it will be completely unnecessary to even pay them. Who wouldn't like to save some money in our over-spent budget? At the most, they might expect a few cookies and a handful of goldfish for a hard day's work, but that's a small investment considering the wealth of info we can extract with their finely tuned interrogation skills.

My four-year-old son is at that age where he needs to know why, what, where, when, and how about everything. The sad thing is that I am not that well rounded when it comes to "knowing shit" and even the stuff I did know at one time has fallen prey to momnesia. I'm getting stupider by the day. I'm convinced that pregnancy kills off several thousand brain cells and then the useful ones I have left are constantly misused for useless information like remembering the names of all of the Thomas trains, lyrics to Yo Gabba Gabba songs, or the plot lines of Backyardigans cartoons. So, when my son comes running up to me with a never-ending line of questioning, I do my best to give honest answers until I'm forced to either guess or make it up. I bet you didn't know that trees can't get into our home because "Daddy put in magic doors and windows when he built the house." I tried to explain "root systems" to him, but he wasn't buying it. He can't see them, why would he believe something was holding the trees down? Especially when he sees them fallen over in our woods from time to time? I had to put the "magic windows" into play just to save my sanity.

The thing about four-year-olds is that they are inquisitive and they are always three steps ahead of you in the line of questioning. Just when you think you've given an answer to satisfy their curiosity, they hit you with another zinger. My sister Laurie confided in me that she was worried about what she would say when her daughter Sylvia started asking where babies come from. Laurie is weeks away from d-day, it was only a matter of time until Sylvia's curiosity got the better of her (and my sister). So two weeks ago, Sylvia posed the dreaded question. "Mommy, where do babies come from?" My sister thought about it for a moment and decided to try to answer honestly but in G-rated terms. She explained that the baby grew from a seed, just like the seed that Sylvia planted for Mother's Day that grew into a pretty flower. But instead of a pretty flower, Sylvia would have a little brother. Sylvia understood that just fine and pondered for a moment, preparing to strike like an angry cobra. "Mommy, how did the seed get in your tummy?" Laurie knew this one was coming and she was semi-prepared. "Papi put it in there." Simple. Discreet. She crossed her fingers hoping that Sylvia's curiosity was subsiding. And then. Sylvia struck with a well-placed zinger that only a four-year-old can deliver. She needed to know exactly how Papi had gotten the seed into Laurie's belly. "Mommy, did Papi put the seed in your mouth?" As you can imagine, my sister dissolved into fits of laughter and was in no condition to continue the conversation. After a few minutes, Sylvia realized she wasn't getting anymore info and stalked off to plan her next inquisition.

Just when I think I'm pretty doggone smart, Johnny will ask a question and remind me just how much I don't know. Mommy, how do planes fly? Mommy, why do fish live in the water? Mommy, why is the sun yellow? Mommy, where does rain come from? Mommy, why do bugs stick to the wall? Mommy, where do bubbles go when they pop? Mommy, how do you make goldfish? Mommy, where does that water go when it goes in the ditch? Mommy, why do I have to walk? Mommy, why is daddy's peepers bigger than mine? Mommy, why don't I have a brother? Mommy, why does poop stink? Mommy, why do we have to go to Target...again? Try explaining a Target addiction to a four-year-old. They just don't get it! The questioning starts as soon as his little eyes pop open in the morning, as if he spent all night preparing questions instead of sleeping! And the queries are still ongoing as I shut the door after putting him to bed.... "Mommy, can I have a drink? Why not?" .... "Mommy, can you sleep with me for a little while? Why not?" ... "Mommy, can I have something? Why not?" I'm beginning to think he says "Why" and "Why not" even when he has all the info he needs. Even after I give a sufficient answer, the "Why?" is tossed my way. I'm confident its just another weapon used to speed along my journey to the mommy looney bin...just like when he pees without aiming and ends up "watering" the entire toilet or when he dives head first from one couch to the other. Its the same reason he runs with a lollipop in his mouth or jams small toys down the heating vents. He's trying to amp up my crazy lady level and he's learned that "Why" is just another very effective tool.

Tine vs. The Interrogator...definitely goes to the Interrogator. I can never satiate his curiosity and that's a good thing. Okay, not a good thing for my sanity as I frantically try to avoid letting him know that I'm an information imbecile. However, curiosity in a kid is a wonderful thing and he will most certainly meet people far more informed than me and pick their brains, learn, and become as intelligent as his Daddy. And, along the line, maybe he'll get a little dose of my uniformed imagination and put that to good use as well. Creativity ain't a bad thing. Preschool teachers...Johnny is all yours in the fall, brush up....on EVERYTHING!

Tine vs. The Closet Romantic

When my husband Johnny is out in public belching loudly like Homer Simpson, his lips and tongue vibrating with professional vulgarity, its hard for anyone to believe that he's a romantic guy. I don't think he really likes anyone to know he's got a sweet side. He's what you might call a closet romantic. If people were to find out that he's a secret Don Juan, it would totally ruin the sarcastic, clever, and sometimes borderline offensive front he works so hard to maintain. His mission in life is to find laughter and comedy in every situation and most of the time, people don't even realize when he's "pulling their leg." You can't imagine what he puts restaurant servers, cashiers, and customer service people through. He's extremely intelligent and he has a brilliant sense of humor and I LOVE that side of him. But when he catches me off guard and totally does something romantic, that is when I'm reminded just how remarkable he is and how lucky I am.

Love notes are the epitome of romantic deeds and Johnny is an expert at love notes. Throughout our relationship, Johnny has been notorious for leaving me unexpected love notes in my car, at my place of work, in the fridge....any random place that will surprise me. One morning I got up and found a note that said "I love you this much" with a line going across the page. There were arrows on the ends of the line pointing to the edges of the page. Underneath the line it said "(Not drawn to scale)". His love notes are often unconventional and a complete reflection of his personality and that's what makes them so endearing, they are totally one-of-a-kind. One time he went to bed before I did and when I finally came up to bed, there was a note on my pillow that said "This is your kiss goodnight" complete with a set of lips saying "kiss kiss." I save all of these notes like the irreplaceable treasures they are. 

And its not just the love notes themselves that are unique, its the places he chooses to leave them for me to find. One day around Easter time, I went into the nursery to get my daughter up for the morning. There on the changing table was a plastic easter egg. I thought for sure that my son had put the egg there while playing, but despite my suspicions, I just couldn't resist looking inside anyway. Inside the egg was a folded up piece of paper that said "Tine, I Love You. Johnny" Nothing fancy, no special occassion...but there's nothing better than a personalized, unexpected, display of affection. And the fact that he took the time out of his busy-rush-out-of-the-door morning to think of me and make this effort, I felt incredibly special and loved. 

Love notes aren't his only forte though. When we were in the process of building our first home, we would visit the property often to watch the progress. One day, as we were walking around the land where we would soon build our first home, he said "Come down here in the woods, I want to show you something." I was skeptical and said "Johnny, if you squirreled away construction materials, I'm not helping you steal them." The builder was building a bunch of homes in the same court as ours and I thought for sure he had hidden some "extra materials" in the woods and was hoping I'd be his accomplice in crime in acquiring them. Despite my distrust, he managed to talk me into going down to the woods and boy did I feel like an ass when I saw what he wanted to show me. There on the biggest tree in the woods, behind our soon-to-be-first-home, was an engraving of a heart, our initials, and the date. He said "I chose the biggest tree to make sure it'd be here forever." Awwww. I know, you're melting just like I did, aren't you?

When we moved out of our first home, I was sad to leave that lovely little engraving behind. However, last Valentine's Day (or as Johnny calls it, ValenTine's day), he invited me for a walk in our woods. There are a couple of trees in our woods that I'm very fond of, but there is one in particular that I love. It looks like a storybook tree, big wide spreading branches. It looks like it was plucked out of a fairytale and I can see this tree from my kitchen. Of course, our valentine's day walk concluded in front of my favorite tree and I was pleasantly surprised to see our initials on a new tree, in a new heart, with a new date. That's just the sort of traditional display of affection that you just don't see anymore. Ahhhh....so sweet. We need a milkshake with two straws please.

One of my favorite stories happened in the fall of 2007. We had just gone to see the fifth Harry Potter movie. I'm a huge fan, Johnny...not so much. He had fallen asleep during the movie and on the ride home he did his best to listen to me talk about the storyline of the fifth movie and the sixth book. I thought for sure he had briefly nodded off during my retelling of the HP series. Anyway, soon after the fifth movie came out, the seventh and final book of the series was released. My "MO" whenever an HP book was released was to find a Walmart that was selling them at midnight, stand in line with all of the other HP nerds, get my lovely new book, then go home and stay up all night reading it until I was done....all 900 pages or so. Yes, I'm a freak and I don't care if you think so. 

Anyway, when the last book was being released, I was in the last few months of my pregnancy and was completely incapable of staying up past 10 pm. I did my best to stay awake until midnight to go out and get HP7 but I fell asleep on the couch around 9:30. I finally admitted defeat around 10:30 and I headed up to bed with my head hung low, accepting the fact that I'd have to wait until the next morning to get my beloved book. The next morning, I was ready to head out to the store first thing. I came downstairs and there on the kitchen counter was the brand new Harry Potter book with a note that said "Tine- I heard you were taken, so I settled for Ginny. -Harry." That was the sexiest note ever. Not only did Johnny go out and get me the book after I had fallen asleep, but he had proven that he had listened to my nerd-fest Harry Potter rambling that night after the movie!!! I'm sure many of you who are not up to snuff on the HP storyline have no idea what that note means, but I do and that's all that matters. That's true love for you. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day and night, reading my book in happy geekery.

Tine vs. The Closet Romantic...goes to the closet romantic because I just never know what he's going to do next. Even though I'm not showered with flowers and jewels like some ladies, I'm far luckier. I get undeniable proof of Johnny's love in unexpected places and at unusual times. And because his displays of affection are so unique and uncommon, they feel that much more heartfelt and sincere. Yeah, he belches in public (loudly) and sure he watches an excessive amount of sports on tv, but I never know when he's going to hop out of that closet with one of his marvelous "I love you" surprises.

Tine vs. The Pee Pee Dance

I pee about 500 times a day. 500 times. I am in a constant state of doing the pee pee dance. Just thinking about a toilet makes me suddenly do the tinkle two step. The closer I get to the bathroom, the closer I get to an accident. Why is that? Why is it that the urgency increases with my proximity to the bowl? I've never understood that. Seriously, sometimes I will head to the bathroom with a slight inclination that I have to pee and then as I start to prepare, its all I can do to get my pants down before all hell breaks loose. Without a doubt, I have bladder issues. Part of the problem can be attributed to multiple pregnancies and aging I suppose, but to be honest, I've had more than my fair share of accidents.

One day when I was eight, my mother drug me along on shopping errands. Our first stop...the grocery store. Halfway through the food gathering excursion I discovered I needed to visit the little girl's room. When I informed my mother, she said "We're almost done, just hold it." The problem was that by the time I told her that I had to "go" I was like a water balloon ready to burst. Shop, shop, shop. Pay, pay, pay. Whew. I was making it through, we'd be home soon. Just groceries in the car and a quick ride home. But! Oh no! Could this be? After putting the groceries in the car, my mom grabbed my hand and led me up to the drugstore next door. Unfortunately, she wasn't looking for a bathroom for me, she was picking up some prescriptions. I told her again that I had to "go" and really badly at that. She merely said that she wouldn't take long and that I should just go look at some toys while I waited. As if toys would take my mind off the fact that I was holding back Niagara Falls in my miniature child bladder. I did as she said and perused the toy section. I did the pee pee dance, I crossed my legs, I tried, tried, TRIED to hold it back. And then...pshsshshshshsssssss!  Once it started, I just decided to go with the flow, it felt soooo good. I peed all over the floor. When I told my mom what I had done, she was so humiliated. Instead of just rushing out of the store and leaving it for the employees to clean up, she actually went and bought a roll of paper towels to clean up after me. She BOUGHT a roll of paper towels. They didn't even feel sorry enough for her to give her a roll. I felt a little bad, but in all fairness, I HAD warned her...several times. What more could I do?

My pee problems didn't stop at eight years old either. One summer after my fourth grade year, I went to photography camp at the Science Center in Baltimore. Every day, my mom would drop me off in the morning and then come pick me up in the afternoon. It was great fun learning how to use a camera, develop the film, and make prints. The only problem was that when you were making prints in the darkroom, you couldn't leave the room until the safe light came on to let everyone out for a break. If you opened the door prematurely and let in light, you'd ruin the entire class' pictures. Easy enough to understand. Unfortunately, I was only nine and had a proven record of poor bladder control. One day, I found myself in the same predicament as a year earlier. I had to "go" and had no access to facilities. I tried for as long as I could to hold back the tinkle torrent. As you can guess, this story ended no better than the previous story. Actually, even worse. I peed my pants and then had to sit it in until the safe light came on. And to add insult to injury, my mother wasn't there to clean up after me so guess what? That's right, I cleaned up after myself AND had to wear those clothes for the rest of the day until she came to pick me up. I can assure you, her humiliation was no less than the previous year. Let me just go on record by saying that I was more mortified than she was. Afterall, I didn't WANT to pee my pants! Who would?

For years, I avoided further public urination. I made it through middle school, high school, and college without losing control. And although the frequency and urgency increased, I managed to always be near a bathroom and save face (and pants). Until last August that is. Last August I ran a half marathon with my sister Laurie. I had run the half marathon twice before without any issues. However, last year around mile 11, I realized I really needed to "go" and unfortunately, we had passed all the spot-a-pots. I told myself, "Only two more miles, you can do it." I was like the little engine that could. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. About 200 yards from the finish line, my sister said "Let's sprint!" I didn't want to let her down, so against my better judgement, I ran like rabid dogs were chasing me. Each pounding step brought me closer and closer to shame. Run, squirt, run, squirt. I kept telling myself it was only a little, no big deal. And then, just before the finish line, my bladder liberated its captive....all 13 miles of it. Down my legs, in my shoes, absolutely disgusting. Thank god that I was soaking wet from sweat so that noone really knew what I had done. My dirty deed was a secret, but that didn't make it any less revolting.

I went to my doctor asking for help and she told me to do kegel exercises. I squeezed for months with no luck. Finally, she prescribed me some medicine that was supposed to help. But when I went to fill the prescription, I was shocked to discover that the meds were $120/month!!! Outrageous! Isn't that the monthly payment for a Geo Metro? I decided to skip the meds and deal.

How's the "dealing" going you might ask? Well that brings us to my most recent chapter of shame. The Bel Air Town Run 5k this past June. I was confident that I could make it through the 5k with no problems. The race was at 8 am and I peed 25 times before race time. I also brought a change of clothes, but figured I wouldn't need them since it was such a short race. The run was great, beautiful weather, nice free time without the kids. After crossing the finish line, I was absolutely ashamed to realize that Tinkle Tine had struck again! Needless to say I filled that $120 prescription the following day. 

Tine vs. The Pee Pee Dance...goes to Tine. I might be paying $4 a day to stay dry, but at least I'm not wearing a diaper. And now, when I dance it has everything to do with getting my groove on and nothing to do with my bothersome bladder. Oh hey, I gotta go. As Forest Gump said "I gotta pee."

Tine vs. The Princess Stereotype

I am about as low maintenance as you can get for a girl. When my husband lived at the beach during the summer breaks from college, I would go down and spend a night or two with him every week. He lived in absolute filth and even as a neat freak, I endured it just to spend time with him. The amount of taint on that place he lived in was so bad that he had to build mini wooden walls around his mattress, which was on the floor. Why the wooden walls? To keep out the roaches. Apparently, he was under the impression that roaches, which can live through nuclear holocaust, could be thwarted by six-inch wooden walls. And the roaches weren't the only manner of filth to be tolerated. One time I got up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break and stepped right smack dab into a pile of dog crap. It went between every single toe. Ew! The doobie-smoking-roomies on the first floor seemed to believe that dog crap indoors was acceptable as long as the dog didn't defecate too close to their stash of weed. Nice.

Despite my low maintenance personality, Johnny still likes to throw the "princess" title my way every once in a while. For instance, if he asks if I want to go to KFC and I respond I'd rather hit up Chili's instead, he'll say "Whatever my princess wants, my princess gets." As if Chili's is gonna break the bank or something. Or if I mention I'd like to get a dresser for our bedroom to match our bed, he'll throw out the princess accusation. And he doesn't mean it in a "my pookie bear" kinda way. Its meant to blame me for the crime of having high standards. I decided I should put this princess labeling to a test and see how I measure up against a couple of the most famous princesses to determine once and for all if I have earned this dubious title of PRINCESS. 

Let's start with Cinderella. What's little Cindy best known for? Groveling at the feet of her wicked stepmother and stepsisters...that infamous glass slipper...and waiting for her man to come rescue her. I grovel at the feet of noone. There's little to say on that subject. Those who know me know that I'm opinionated sometimes and determined at all times. Which leads us to waiting for a man to come rescue me. I don't have the patience for that kind of hoopla. If there is something I want or need to do, I just do it. If I lost my glass slipper, you bet your ass I'd haul my booty back there to go look for it. I wouldn't wait for some man I just met to tromp all over the kingdom to return it to me. Cindy was too worried the prince would see her all un-magicked so she didn't risk going back to reclaim her possessions. You know what? If my "prince" can't handle me all un-magicked, then what's the point? I don't have the time or desire to be magicked up all the time anyway. 

Finally, that leaves the glass slipper. I am the last woman that should be allowed on a pair of heels, especially glass ones. I'm a clutz. Just last night I broke the fourth plate in our set of eight and just last week I fell off a pair of one-inch wedge sandals and nearly broke my dang ankle. And what about those small dainty feet Cindy is so famous for? Not only are my feet normal sized eights, but they definitely don't look princessy at all. I've been blessed with the unusual delight of having my second and third toes partially webbed. As you can imagine, getting a pair of those socks with the little separated toes is just about the worst gift I can receive...and yet I seem to be gifted with them at least once a decade....even by family who know my toes all too well. Maybe its their idea of a cruel joke? As much as I have come to love my cute little siamese toes, I am well aware that they are not even close to princess material. Obviously, I'm not a dead ringer for Cinderella. 

So what about Sleeping Beauty? I must admit I do loooooove to sleep. Sleep is just about one of the best things on earth. A nap on a Sunday afternoon? Orgasmic. I'm great at the sleeping part. But what about waking up with a kiss from the prince? Well, I get tested on this every morning when my hubby leaves for work, so let me just tell you how it usually goes. When he kisses me, does he get a beautiful sex kitten fluttering her eyes open and smiling an angelic smile? HA! No freakin' way! He gets a face full of lovely Tine-morning-breath and an earful of grumpy incoherent grunts as I roll over into a tight sleeping cocoon. I am the absolute opposite of a morning person. Don't bother even talking to me for an hour or so after I wake up unless you want to risk a scene out of Exorcist. Alright, okay. I'm no Sleeping Beauty either.

Then Snow White. How about her? I had a good foundation for Snow White. I was a virgin until the age of 21....pure and innocent. I like animals (as long as they don't live in my house) and I like to sing. Yeah, maybe Snow White. Well, the first clue that I'm not much of a Snow White is my serious lack of seven darves bringing home bags of jewels every night. I do live with two small people who are sometimes grumpy, sleepy, bashful, happy and dopey and I do spend a lot of time cleaning up after them. In fact, one of them has been quite sneezy this week, but I never see them carrying around pick axes or sacks of jewels, so I'm quite sure they're just normal children. Thank God. I think if I saw them with pick axes, I'd be fairly creeped out and would seriously consider locking my bedroom door at night. 

And the singing part, I do quite a lot of that, but American Idol isn't knocking on my door so I'm beginning to get the impression I'm not all that talented. Well perhaps the animal attraction Snow White has...would that prove my title of princess is fairly given? The neighbor's animals seem to like me quite a bit. I've had four goats, two horses, and a big sheep dog escape their yards and come visit me in mine. They liked me, they really really liked me. However, I do have some doubts about my animal love fest. Yesterday I was outside setting up some sprinklers on my lawn and some birds started dive bombing me. I was literally ducking to avoid having my eyeballs pecked out. If I had been Snow White...I would have run inside to get some food to feed my feathered friends. Instead, I ran into the garage and went through my husband's baseball gear to find a bat with which I could have batting practice. Hell! No way I'm letting those feathered kamikaze peck my body all up or use me for shat target practice! BATTER UP!

Tine vs. The Princess Stereotype...goes to Tine. I'm no princess and I'm thankful. Who wants to be a helpless cutie with a low self-esteem and sleeping disorder? Until the day that the 30 pound groundhog that does laps around my property actually comes in the house and does my dishes for me, I will be glad not to be Snow White either. The only princess I'd like to have the title of is Warrior Princess....maybe we'll explore that one in another post, but as far as fairy tale princess? Nope, not me. The one bright side is that despite NOT being a princess, I still managed to find my prince. He may not always be charming, but love couldn't be any sweeter in our kingdom...

Tine vs. The Guy's Guys

I don't know the exact wording, but the saying goes something like....when you date a man, you date his friends. Not literally, but its basically pointing out that you better like your man's friends or you will be an unhappy little lady. Luckily for me, my man has a great group of guy friends that are not only good-to-the-core kinda guys, but they have been an excellent source of entertainment over the years.

During the second year of our relationship, my husband (Johnny) lived with five other guys in an apartment on campus at UMD. All six of them were engineering majors, so essentially there was a lot of brain power, way too much testosterone, and a lot of free time all jammed into a four bedroom apartment. Four of the guys Johnny lived with were guys he was friends with. However, the other guy was primarily the group scapegoat...the guy they all picked on. There is always one dude in a group of guys that is not really part of the friend circle and is just there as a designated scapegoat. I think its a matter of natural selection. In Johnny's group of friends, they called this pathetic soul "Goondiver." 

Apparently, instead of going to classes during the day, Goondiver stayed up during the wee hours of the night watching Star Trek reruns and constructing a submarine made of cardboard cereal boxes and paper towel tubes he found while rummaging through the trash. He took a lot of gripe for the cardboard submarine and I wish I could say the story had a happy ending...that he launched his cardboard ship into the Potomac, and sailed around the world in it earning himself not only everlasting glory, but the love of a gaggle of hot chicks. He WAS an engineering major and UMD IS known for its engineers, so I guess that was a valid scenario. However, I think upon its maiden voyage, the Goondiver submarine ended up a soggy mess in the bathroom which only gave the rest of the guys more fuel for tormenting the scapegoat. Perhaps if he had gone to class once or twice and achieved more than a "D" average, he might have had a successful launch, been crowned Captain Goondiver, and earned himself a little respect. Instead, he lived out the rest of the year like that weird guy that lives in the closet in Real Genius. Random sightings of Goondiver were always nightly talk as was the occasional gossip about what actually went on in that room of his. He certainly wasn't sleeping in there...

You might be asking yourself....how would a group of guys put up with a girl constantly spending the night at their place all of the time? Didn't you take up bathroom time? Didn't you intrude on guy time? Yes and yes. They seemed to put up with me just fine and I think the answer simply is....bribery. Johnny had given me a Homer Simpson gift for my birthday at the beginning of the school year...a lovely fusball table. No, I was not a closet fusball champion nor even an occasional player of fusball. What the hell was I going to do with a fusball table? Aha! I gave the table to the guys to put in their apartment and earned myself a free pass for boyfriend visiting and unlimited sleepovers any time I wanted. In addition, I brought over homemade baked goods from time to time to sweeten the deal. Hey, I know the way to a guy's heart.

Co-mingling with six dudes definitely poses various challenges. I believe using the same bathroom as these guys definitely knocked me down the purity scale several notches. Of course it was filthy by girl standards, but I'm talking about how it scarred my mental purity. In the apartment there was a single bathroom and then another bathroom that had several stalls in it. Given the chance, I always used the single bathroom. Nothing more awkward than peeing while a dude pees next to you with only a thin half wall between you for privacy. But every once in a while, I just couldn't wait for whomever was in the single bathroom to come out  and I was forced to use the bathroom with the stalls. I only hoped and prayed on these occasions that I could pee in privacy. 

One of the stalls in the big bathroom was the designated #2 stall. There was a dry erase board attached to the wall and the visitors to this stall were encouraged to "write" while doing their business. Reading through some of the messages and looking at the detailed drawings, I'm convinced that some of the visitors spent a GREAT deal of time in there and most likely earned themselves a few hemorrhoids from prolonged bowl sitting. If I gave you exact descriptions of what I witnessed on that board, I'm quite sure I'd have to give this blog an "XXX" rating. Suffice it to say that it most often involved one of three things. One...drawings of "three piece sets." Two...descriptions and drawings of "favors" that various roommates would need to perform for engineering professors in order to earn a passing grade. And Three...basic insults to each other that always involved body parts in the nether regions. Think of your favorite characters and gags from "Old School," "The Hangover," "Road Trip," and "American Pie" and you've got a good idea of what that old dry erase board was subjected to on a daily basis. 

Another phenomenon I witnessed in that apartment, that I don't think I've ever seen the likes of since, was the incredible feats of trash jenga these guys could accomplish. They avoided garbage duty like the plague. Even though they had a 50 gallon drum as a trash can, they would still pile and balance trash seven or eight feet high to avoid the dreaded walk out to the dumpster. There must have been some agreement that if you were the one to knock over the precariously balanced trash tower that you would earn the right to take out the garbage. That is the only explanation I can come up with for why they would spend so much precious time balancing bits of trash and using other bits of trash as support systems. Maybe it had something to do with their engineering studies, but I'm inclined to believe it was just pure hate for trash duty. It really became quite an art form for them. One time, Johnny was accused of neglecting his trash duty and to punish him, the roommates moved the nice big drum of trash on top of his bed. Can't say I was a big fan of that move, but I suppose in guy-world, punishments must be handed out quickly and harshly.

One of the most interesting "games" these fellas participated in was the food defacement game. There was a black permanent marker kept in the kitchen. The purpose of this game was to use the marker to deface the food packaging of the other guys in such a way that they would become too grossed out to even eat the contents of the altered packaging. Some of the favorites included transforming Pop Tarts into "Poop Tarts" and Corn Flakes into "P*rn Flakes." Of course drawings of the three piece set made regular appearances to either embellish the disgustingness of the new name or just to stimulate the gag reflex when an appropriate name change couldn't be invented. Some other popular name changes were Hot Dogs to "C*ck Dogs" and Cocoa Puffs into "C*ck Puffs." One memorable graffiti that indeed had the desired result of forcing the owner to toss the package was changing Cream of Chicken Soup into "Cream of C*ck Soup" complete with three piece set drawing depicting the making of the soup. Needless to say, even though the owner was a poor college student with barely two pennies to rub together, this new and improved can of soup was placed (unopened) atop the ever teetering tower of trash.

Tine vs. The Guy's Guys...is a tie. These guys definitely destroyed my naivete and innocence with all that I observed over the years...visions of three piece set drawings still invade my dreams and assault my waking moments every once in a while. However, I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to be friends with my man so, hell yeah for that. And, all of the guys have chosen wonderful women as their wives and I've become good friends will all of these special ladies...hoorah. Maybe when my children learn to write, we can incorporate a more PG version of the food defacement game for old times sake and pass it on to the next generation.

Tine vs. I Don't Need No Stinkin' Birthing Classes!

A little over four years ago, I was on the verge of becoming a mother for the first time. I did all the normal preggo mom stuff. I signed up for weekly emails at a baby website that would tell me things like "your baby is the size of an apple this week" and "your baby now has fingernails." Pretty freakin' cool! I perused the 10,000+ names in the baby name book and I packed my little hospital bag. I even bothered to get a few things for the little guy that was doing constant aerobics inside my tummy. However, that's about as far as I got on the preparedness scale. I had a lot of things going on at the time and basically neglected some of the crucial new parent steps. 

I was due to deliver on July 30th, we were scheduled to sell our house on July 21st, and on top of that, I was working a lot of overtime so that I could take days off to go to my mom's doctor's appointments a couple of days a week. I didn't have a nursery set up because we were supposed to move before my son was born. When it came time to plan to do birthing classes, my husband wasn't interested and I was relieved because I just didn't have the extra time. I figured my doctor had delivered hundreds of babies and would be more than happy to tell me when to push and breathe. Women had done this sort of thing for thousands of years without going to classes, right? Who needed a stinking class anyway? I could handle it. Well, I'll let you be the judge. Let's go back four years and a day...

Monday, July 18, 2007. I was 38 weeks along in my pregnancy. I was was living in Laurel and I was scheduled to have an OB appointment up in Bel Air, an hour away. We had spent the weekend moving most of our belongings up to two enormous storage units in Bel Air. I decided to take the day off from work and while I was up North visiting my OB, I'd make a trip up to the storage units with another carload of belongings. And hey, while I was out, I figured I'd drag my enormous belly around neighborhoods in 100 degree weather and deliver flyers for my husband's business. Logical, right? Made perfect sense to me. My father-in-law always enjoyed joking that I was like one of those women in colonial times who, if out in the field farming, would just squat by the squash, squeeze out the baby, put it in the basket, and continue on with work like nothing had happened. I have to admit, I would probably do something like that.

So, after dropping off the carload at the storage units, I went to the doctor. He told me that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced and that the baby could come at any time. He might as well have told me that butterflies were going to start shooting out of my arse. I was like "Alrighty doc, see you in twelve days so we can get this little stinker out." I had projects at work to finish, I had a house to sell, a move to make, and just too much to do in the next week and a half to bother having a baby early. Like I said, I didn't go to the classes and had no idea what 2 centimeters and 90% effaced actually meant. After I left the doctor's office, I continued on with my plan and went and delivered flyers in the oppressive July heat for a couple of hours. 

When I got home, I continued to do some packing. I started getting some contractions but I shook them off as fakies...certainly my baby wouldn't be rude enough to come before I was ready. Around 3 am, the contractions were coming every three minutes and I finally accepted the fact that perhaps my doctor was right. Holy crap! I was in labor! We needed to leave asap because the hospital was in Bel Air and we were still living in Laurel...almost an hour away. I quickly grabbed my hospital bag and woke Johnny up. We raced down to the car and at 3:11 am and we pulled out of the driveway. It never even occurred to me that it would be the last time I ever saw our first home. 

Quickly, the pains started getting worse. I was trying the breathing thing I'd seen on tv because it was really starting to hurt and I didn't know what else to do. By the time we got to the tunnel in Baltimore, I had thrown up twice, Johnny was going about 100 miles an hour, and I was screaming. The contractions were coming non-stop, I couldn't tell the end of one and the beginning of the next. Every time I screamed, Johnny drove a little faster. As we got closer to the exit for Bel Air, I couldn't stop my body from pushing no matter how hard I crossed my legs. I was getting scared....this baby was definitely going to come before we got there!!!! We got off the exit and I started to feel a little relieved until Johnny suddenly said “We have to stop for gas, the gas light came on at Whitemarsh.” I think my head spun around 15 times as I ordered him, or rather screeched at him, to keep going. I have no idea how he managed to keep his cool. He merely said he was just going to put one gallon in to make sure we got to the hospital. I truly thought I was going to give birth right there next to the gas pump. Can you imagine the other people filling up their cars listening to some crazy lady screaming her head off at a gas station at 4 am while the hubby calmly gasses up the car? I'm sure I wasn't the only one with a story to tell from that night.

Johnny got the gallon of gas, hopped back in the car, and sped down the road to the hospital. He pulled right up to the emergency room door, illegally parked the car, and ran out to find someone. In addition to not going to classes, we also never visited the hospital ahead of time so we had no idea where to go. Rookie parents! As I got up out of the car, my water broke and I hobbled in after him. The nurses found a wheel chair and quickly took me down to the birthing center. The entire way down to the room, I begged and begged for some pain killers because I felt like I was being ripped apart down the middle. They put me on the table to get a peek at this rookie mommy who was begging for pain killers. I'm sure they figured I had a couple of hours to go. After a nice quick peek at my girly bits, the doctor said "The head is crowning, no pain killers, just push." What?!?!?! What do you mean push? I want my pain killers!

Barely 10 minutes after arriving at the hospital and 6 massive pushes, our beautiful son was born at 4:08 am! After making sure that Johnny #4 was breathing and healthy, my husband went to make all the calls to the grandparents since we hadn’t had time to do it on the way to the hospital. I think he also had to go find some tranquilizers after what I had just put him through. Poor guy.

Tine vs. I Don't Need No Stinkin' Birthing Classes.....goes to Tine this time. I was right, I didn't need the classes afterall...and I didn't need those painkillers either! I survived the whole ordeal and have a great story to share with my son. Oh yeah, and its pretty cool because I'm somewhat of a celebrity at my doctor's office. Apparently, I'm the first mommy they've had come into the hospital with the head already crowning. I like to think I'm a celebrity for my ability to deal with the pain, but in reality, its more like being famous for being stupid. Whatever, I'll take it. Happy Birthday Johnny 4!!! I love seeing all of the things you learn and accomplish. I'm proud to be your mommy....and guess what? You owe me big time mister. No painkillers? I'm sure I'll find a way for you to make it up to me....

Tine vs. Carpet Fuzz

My son is obsessed with fuzz. And not just any fuzz. He loves to pluck yarn out of our oriental rug, roll it in a ball, and tote it around. He "tickles" with it. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but I'm honestly surprised that we still have a rug left at all considering the rate at which he plucks it. I will vacuum the floor and ten minutes later find an infestation of fuzzballs, twenty members strong, scattered about the floor. This has been going on for almost three years! I find carpet fuzz tucked away everywhere. If he finds a hole or hiding place of any kind, he stuffs it full of fuzzballs. He'll store them in dvd cases, various toys, his ears... I've opened battery compartments to electronics and found fuzzballs hiding out in there. I'll be going about my daily routine and be ambushed by fuzzballs as if they were mini jack-in-the-boxes. I open the ketchup bottle...peekaboo! I open a cd player...voila!  I open a book...boing! Fuzzballs, Fuzzballs, Fuzzballs!

As you can guess, I spend a great deal of time picking up fuzzballs and throwing them away. My poor back! So imagine my delight when I discovered that my son gained an accomplice. And I do mean delight. Once my daughter became mobile, she would follow her big brother around and make sure to clean up the crime scene. Whenever he'd drop a fuzzball....BLOOOP...right into her mouth. As much as I like the idea of not having to pick up fuzzballs anymore, I realize allowing my daughter to ingest them isn't at the top of the list of good parenting. So, I've been teaching her to throw them away. Unfortunately, my son still harvests fuzzballs at a much faster rate than my daughter can dispose of them. 

Tine vs. Carpet Fuzz....goes to Carpet Fuzz. I'm a neat freak and it drives me insane that the house is constantly invaded by bug-look-alike-fuzz. I have no idea how to get my son to stop. Its just one of those weird things he does that isn't necessarily a bad behavior, but its also not something you go bragging about with a bumper sticker on the back of your car. "My son harvests carpet fuzz." I just need to put this plucking skill to good use. Perhaps I'll just put him out in my yard and get him to pluck all the weeds out of my garden? Hmmm. Weed plucking training begins THIS WEEK!