Saturday, November 26, 2011

Prime Cuts

Last night was a night I had been looking forward to for a long time.  It was Prime Cuts Saturday night, and I am going to fill you in on one of my most treasured traditions.

Remember when you began to date someone and a moment of truth was when you went through their music collection?  Sometimes you discovered new artists, sometimes you thrilled to see they had the album you had been missing from your own collection, sometimes you made a mental note to keep the Mace in your purse within reach at all times.  And sometimes, if you were lucky, you discovered your perfect musical fit.  The person that would be with you anytime, anywhere with the music of your life playing in the background.

A million years ago when Bill and I began dating, we went through the dance of musical compatibility.  I have written in the past about how significant music is  to me, and to find out Bill had similar taste was icing on the potential relationship cake.  We made whole evenings out of popping a record on my amazing stereo system in my otherwise empty apartment, playing a single song and then telling each other why we considered it a Prime Cut.  We watched the equalizer lights dance and I told him they reminded me of city landscapes at night.  I told him I called them my Dancing Cities. I held my breath, waiting for him to laugh.  He did not, so I fell in love with him a little more for understanding my weirdness.

My album collection, at one time, was fantastic. Then life took over, rent became due, car payments loomed and my record budget took a big hit. Just as I was shaking my head to clear it out a little, CD's were introduced.  Behold the CD; no more shaking hands while putting the needle into the groove of the perfect makeout song. No more worrying about stealing a big album from your boyfriend. No skips, no heavy sigh when getting up off the couch/bed/makeout spot to flip the record. CD's: more bang for your makeout buck.

So we bought CD's.  Many, many, many CD's.  And yes, Bill, I probably did kind of lose that box of them.  If you're reading this, consider it a confession.  All your Columbia House freebies are out there, somewhere. I grovel for you, right here, right now. Madonna's "Burning Up" MTV video in the road grovel. Please absolve me.

Although we bought CD's by the truckload, we could not part with our albums.  We moved our records from one apartment to the next, divided them when we broke up for a year and a half, and finally carted them to their final resting place in the basement of the starter home we were going to stay in for "a while" but still occupy 19 years later. Once again, life got away from us.

Bill is not an easy person to buy gifts for.  His life is fairly simple, he doesn't "need things". I have learned over the years that he has politely thanked me for "things" I bought that he could not have cared less about having. He makes me a nervous gifter. So I felt I was taking a leap of faith when I ordered a Turntable to MP3 player for his birthday last year.  Once opened, he thanked me politely.  I sighed heavily.

Then I fretted, as the box sat unopened for six months.

I felt loser wife-like. I was a failed gifter (again). I told him I could use the $180 for wine or beer if he wanted me to return his gift.

While Bill would have no problem blowing through $180 of libations, he said "no" and that he was waiting for the right night to have Prime Cuts.  Which about made me cry because I forgot we had named it Prime Cuts and I was taken back to the days of cereal and croutons counting as meals, wine coolers, banana clips in my spiral permed hair, and all other things young and perfect.  Prime Cuts.  Not only musical selections, but the times of your life as well.

Last night we had our Prime Cuts evening, and as expected, the crackles and pops of our well used albums were  sublime.  The delight of reading liner notes on the inside sleeves brought tears to my eyes.  Seeing my fantabulous collection of Prince EP's made my heart sing, especially since I can now pop them onto my iPod through the magic of technology.  We laughed at ridiculous albums like "Touch" and "747" and I made fun of Bill for the millionth time for liking Journey.  We played Duran Duran and E.L.O. and Yaz. We sat on the floor, reminiscing about makeout sessions and the beginning of our life together. We had a blast. From the past.

Earlier that week I had been writhing on the couch with a migraine I was convinced was a stroke waiting to ruin my life. I couldn't see, I couldn't walk, and I was having a real hard time making my thoughts come out of my mouth.  I didn't want to scare my kids so I laid there, waiting, willing Bill to come home from work to help me.  I did some bargaining, because it was that scary.  I begged the powers to not take my brain away from me, that even though it often caused me stress and embarrassment, I didn't take it for granted.  It was a lovely brain and I wanted desperately to keep it.  At that moment, Bill walked in, and did what he has been doing for 26 years.  He talked me through, covered me up, held my hand and made me feel safe.  It was a Prime Cut moment.

Today our music comes through various computers, with little stick like speakers replacing the 3 foot tall blocks that doubled as end tables.  My amazing stereo is disassembled in the basement, with most of the parts sold or donated to charity, except for the equalizer.  I can't part with my dancing cities.  I just can't.  Prime Cuts night inspired Bill to clean the furnace room in the basement, storing our albums on shelves so they can be safer. They will be out to play again, soon.

I have lots of Prime Cut moments.  Because I have lots of blessings.  I write them down here in case my brain someday decides it doesn't want to keep them anymore.  I am working on making peace with growing older, and while nights like this make me a little melancholy, I am so happy to have had those blissed out moments to savor.  I have a Prime Cut life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


At this very moment, I wish I was thankful for the maid that was scurrying about making my house neat and tidy for the upcoming holiday season.  Survey from my peripheral vision assures me; that is not the case.  Last night's nacho remnants are scattered over the bar, strips of Hershey Kiss wrappers are littering the carpet I just had cleaned last week.  150 pretzel/Hershey Kiss/peanut butter M&M treats were assembled at 11pm, because the Room Mommies decided that two days prior to Thanksgiving was the perfect time to have a bake sale for the 5th grade.  Note to ya'll - this is an easy item to make, and your kids can do the majority of the work.

Here's what they look like assembled:

That, my friends, is the closest you will ever get to seeing this blog take a turn toward food prep, so enjoy it.  I now turn over the recipe invention wand to Laurie at Simply Scratch, whose blog is in my feeds and recommended to all of you as a Godsend for Those Who Don't Cook Much.  

This post is about Thankful.  Please redirect yourself and focus on the task at hand, 
Miss Van Dyke. (Spoken in Evil Catholic School Nun Voice from my youth)

Oprah; one of the only celebrities I think is worth her salt, once spoke about keeping a Gratitude Journal.  The idea was simple:  each night, jot down a few things that you are grateful for and reflect on them.  Thank the  person in charge of your life for these things, and try to pay them forward.   

Isn't that nice?  I mean really, really nice?

Yet I could not pull myself together enough to do it.  

Today, however, I am going to play catch up.  In no particular order, I will share with you the things I am thankful for, and we both will reflect on them, and I challenge you to pick something and pay it forward.  I am a huge believer in Karma, so I think you will be very pleased to see good things come back to you when you indulge my request.

Kim's Gratitude Journal - Cliff Note Version

Despite my complaints of old lady hip, broken rib subluxation, migraines and chronic weight battles, I am thankful for my health.  I am not on dialysis, in a wheelchair or on a scooter in Meijer with a basketful of pop and cheetos.  I am strong, stubborn and willing to persevere to get what I want.  I pay it forward by working to help others get healthier, or at the very least give them the pain medicine they are addicted to so they can live to seek narcotics another day without seizing.

I am grateful for my people.  
I have 2 healthy gorgeous children, a husband I adore, friends who surround me with light and laughter, coworkers that alternately torture me and save my ass.  I show my gratitude to them by assembling Pretzel Kisses in the middle of the night, jumping in to help change adult diapers with contents so noxious we need masks (those would be the coworkers, not my family and friends), driving to retrieve lost house keys at 10pm on a Monday, and dropping everything to sit on the porch and just plain listen when someone's heart has been punched.  To prove my point, the Karma thing is in full force when I show "my gratitude" to Bill.  What you give, you get. Snicker.   

Thankful for Nana.
Nana, my little friend, the person that challenges my patience more than anyone else.  I am so lucky to have her.  Her generosity has bailed us out of many jams, her humor has made me laugh when I want to throw things, her mere existence has taught me how to live my life by looking at the big picture.  Her deviled eggs, offers to iron and fold tablecloths,   
and ability to make a perfect pie crust from scratch are just three of a million things I cherish and will take comfort from when she is not with me any more.

Even though you are on my shit list of late, with this crazed behavior of peeing on the carpet (thus the carpet cleaners last week), digging up my perennials (no one stocks garden fencing in November) and middle of the night requests to go outside, I love you.  I read this the other day, and chant it in my head when I want to call the Greyhound rescue and invite them to find you a landfill to dig in:
For those of you with crappy eyesight like mine it says: 
dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

Seriously. Pinterest. I am so thankful to Moe, for finding me a place to lose myself for a few minutes hours a day.  I find motivation, inspiration, beauty, humor and peace all in one convenient website.  I lack the body composition to wear the things I lust after, I am not one to scrapbook,  have no time (patience) to learn to quilt, little money to decorate the way I wish, but what I do have are my Pinterest Boards.  And they make me happy.  I am paying it forward by telling you to get yourself over to and sign up.  It's free joy for the taking.

I thank my stars above that I can see.  I can see colors, nature, feelings, blight, insecurity and peace.  Because I have vision I can act to make the world a brighter, happier, safer, more comfortable place.  I decided long ago that anything is better than nothing, and encourage you to remember that when you have so little to give that you think it is better to just keep it to yourself.  

Random Items that People Invented 
My lighted makeup mirror, Slacker radio, Funky reading glasses, Biggby Coffee, my new Sherpa blanket from Costco, Keen clogs, Digital cameras, Swimming Pools, and Blue LED Christmas lights (the prettiest ones of all) are on my list. 
Thank you also inventors of Sharpie markers, iPods, Etsy, Fleece socks, Pedicures and Milk chocolate. And wine. And craft beer. And good vodka. Amen.

I am grateful, very very grateful for your comments, support, laughter and acceptance of run on sentences as I pursue something I love: my writing.  Like eight million jillion other people who embrace the written word, I have a dream of writing a column. People who mean the most to me have challenged me to step up, so I have set a goal to send my words off to editors that have the power to break my spirit and tell me I suck.  Because of you, I know that when that happens, I will be just fine.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends.    


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Evolution of a Mom

Have you ever thought about your journey as a parent?  How you got to the place where you are?  How different it is than you imagined when you planted the seed of being a mom into your head?

As I type, Casey is asleep.  Spelling words completed, Halloween finished - Luna Lovegood costume a success, Griffyndor T-Shirt laid out for the next day.  Travis is in the basement, playing X-box,   hooting into his microphone to his friend in Chicago as his Football Team alternately scores and sucks.  At times I want to yank the thing out of the wall.

I just watched the Season 2 finale of Sons of Anarchy, which I would have never known about had I not had a Son of my own.  I realize now there would have been a lot of things I wouldn't have known about had I decided against having children.

When you get right down to it, there was really no decision at all. At least not one that I carried to fruition.  When we planned a pregnancy, I miscarried. Every time I got pregnant and actually made it to delivery, they had decided to have me.  At the most inconvenient times of my life, no less.  Twice.  What is that they say; "Man plans, God laughs"?  Well she had a side splitting time with me, no doubt.  

I suppose if I would have been a little a lot more careful with the alcohol consumption + diaphragm use formula,  my pregnancy convenience factor would have been more favorable.  But it was what it was, and I got my babies.  One that was six weeks old when I started nursing school, and one eight years later that came after I busted my ass to lose 75 pounds and had come to terms with having an only child.  There's Karma, as only I would get it.

These children changed our lives, as all children do.  We embraced the brave new world of 5 minute just do it sex, driving aimlessly around the neighborhood to quiet a screaming baby, catching barf in our bare hands, and the realization that restaurants with 2 year olds are never, ever a good idea.

I slept on the floor next to the crib praying to the Laughing At Me God not to let my girl be brain damaged from seizures.  I held a sobbing Travis in my arms in post op while he declared that   having his adenoids out was "not fun at all and why did everyone lie to me and say this would be fun?"  I held fish burials and cleaned fish tanks that I didn't want and intervened when Travis and his twin buddies tried to dig up the poor dead cat because we buried him with a baseball that they now needed to play with.

I fought the good fight.

Yet, I am not a perfect mommy.  Just ask the Stepford mommies at the elementary school Casey attends.  The ones who pull into "their" parking spot ten minutes early, get out and walk their kids into school with shoes on,  their hair done and make up intact, busting with eagerness to suck up to the teacher.  When I pull up at one minute to the bell, I have yanked a hat on my head and my make up is on, baby. Because it's the stuff I didn't wash off from the night before.  Alice Cooper has nothing on me at 8am on a Tuesday.

I avoid PTA, PTO whatever the hell you call it now like the plague.  I don't head fundraisers and go to mommy coffee clatch.  I don't do Girl Scouts/Brownies/Bluebirds. I am the one telling my kid to return the candle/cookie dough/wrapping paper/cheap ass whatever they are trying to sell that year forms the day after she brings them home.  I get carsick on buses so field trips are not my thing.

Does that make me a bad person?

Nah.  Know why?

I learned.  I learned from the trial child, Travis.  The one I killed myself doing all that crap for.  The one who looked at me blankly when I posed the question:  "Do you remember when I volunteered for that committee in 2nd grade and you had that amazing party and we bought the teacher the best gift ever?"  "Do you remember the reindeer cookies I made and the sweet little Halloween goodie bags we gave to your first grade class"?

Yeah. Not. So. Much.

When I first pondered becoming a mom, when the "you're so pregnant" stick had two lines and I alternated wanting to puke with puking, when the formerly flat stomach began swelling and stretchmarking and filling with feet that kicked my bladder, I had some grand delusions.  My baby would sleep. I would put it in the jogging stroller and off we would go - every day getting our exercise.  I was going to be the room mommy.  The hot mommy.  The cookie baking, car pool driving, organized,  healthy snack mommy.  I was going to work, parent, keep my house clean, keep my husband happy and wear my size 10 jeans to my kid's first birthday party.

Silly, silly, Kim.  Duck as the fist of reality heads right at your face.

Please pause now, and flip your dial over to the Actuality Channel. 

Here is Mom Kim, staying up until 2am to assemble the 4th Grade Arctic Wolf diorama she forgot after she threw the reminder note out in a fit of clutter reduction.  Here she is breathless, running out of the house in a nightshirt because she set the alarm for 8pm instead of 8am.  Watch as Kim parades through the house with a garbage bag full of Legos that she threw out in a fit of rage when one lodged between her 2nd and 3rd toe.  Observe as she "swears she hasn't seen" the too tight Harry Potter T-shirt that gets worse every washing. See her struggle not to cry when she has nothing that fits to wear to the Christmas Concert (or the Graduation, or the Swim Banquet.)  Tune in as she heads to Meijer at 3am to look for Monster High Dolls with the drunks and Middle Eastern population.

Hear Kim scream "WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT FROM MEEEEEEE?" to the infant that has been crying for six hours straight.  See her stomp outside in her nightgown and boots at 4am to throw down with the neighbor who is shoveling snow under screaming baby's window.  Observe as she leaves a dog biscuit under the pillow of the boy who tried to trick the tooth fairy by leaving the dog's lost tooth there.  And on, and on, and on.

On paper, I kind of suck at Momming.

But really, what are the moments you remember about your mom?  Is it dioramas or Monster High Dolls that broke 10 minutes after you got them?  Is it what she was wearing when she took you to school, or the fact that you got there safely?  What did you get your 3rd grade teacher for a holiday gift?  Did you think your mom was pretty?  Do you remember when she screamed at you when you had colic?

I think not. And mercifully, beautifully, my kids put a different spin on what makes a good Mom.

My kids go crazy when I announce that it's meatloaf and apple pie night.  My kids wear Chuck Taylors because I do.  They listen to great music because I exposed them to it.  They have a million pictures of the things they have done because I took them and made them albums.  My kids were taught hand made cards are best, so they make cards that alternately make me laugh and cry because they are so hilariously spot on.  I contribute to things at school under the radar because it's inner joy, not recognition, that I crave.  My kids are clean and loved and immunized and don't smell like cigarette smoke.  My house doesn't look like an episode of "Hoarders". Their friends like to come to our home, and they are (almost) always welcome. And while my kids sometimes make me want to tear my hair out, they know I would go to the ends of the Earth for them.

Travis appreciates that I worked two double shifts to buy the Xbox he screams at his friends on.  Casey smiled in the realization that no one in the school had a cooler, more original costume than Luna Lovegood. She is told she is beautiful, strong and sweet because we pray she stays that way. They attend guitar, swimming, baseball, dance and vocal lessons because I took the time to find them and sign them up.  They hug and kiss us and tell us they love us because it was told to them a million times, from the minute they came into the world.  They laugh, because they were raised with humor and taught the value of self deprecation. They are happy, because they appreciate life.

On paper, or maybe to the model mommies, I may suck.  But in the real world I am not so bad, after all.  Because I can take it when God laughs.