Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We always hurt the ones we love...

...yet they keep on loving us: An allegorical (but true) story

When I got out of the shower this morning, I noticed Sweet Boy's bedroom door was closed. I heard him in there, playing and singing, and thought nothing of it. Until I heard, "Oh, kitty, don't move kitty, stop it, stay still!"

Uh oh.

So I opened the door and discovered Sweet Boy stuffing our 13-year-old cat, Pitino, into his stuffed animal pile in the corner of the room. He was pushing Pitino down, while Pitino tried to scramble back up to the top of the pile, eyes big and black, ears flat, only to be covered by another few stuffed animals.

I knew Sweet Boy meant no real harm, but I figured this was as good a time as any to reinforce the whole Pitino-is-a-living-creature concept, and explain that stuffing him into the stuffed animal pile could hurt him badly, maybe even kill him.

OK, so maybe "kill him" was a little over the top, but I needed to make the point. And the point was made: Sweet Boy plopped in a heap on the floor, sobbing huge tears. "I don't want to hurt Pitino! I just wanted him to play with me!"

After some tear wiping and further explanations of appropriate play with our pets, Sweet Boy and I got dressed and headed dowstairs to eat breakfast. Pitino lurked under the dining room table. "Why don't you go over there and give Pitino a kiss and tell him you're sorry and you won't do that again?" Good idea, Mom: He went over and sat on the floor next to the table and put his hand out toward his kitty.

I thought it would take some coaxing, but no, Pitino made the first move. He walked right over to his boy, put his front paws up on Sweet Boy's chest, and nuzzled his neck, even licked his teary cheek. Sweet Boy giggled and said "I love you, kitty-pants. I'm sorry I hurt you." And I could hear the cat purring from the next room.

Granted, Pitino is a pretty uniquely over-affectionate little creature, but on a day when I sought forgiveness from a human loved one, the scene was especially poignant.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mommies don't get sick days

[Warning: What follows is a whole lot of "poor me." I won't be hurt if you choose to just skip this and hop over to Perez Hilton or some site more interesting. Or, feel free to comment something along the lines of "Suck it up, you whiny brat, there are thousands of people dying in Haiti now. Your life is just fine."]

I am low on patience and compassion this morning, and though I feel a little bad about that, I need to vent a bit now. My husband, who is also my best friend and companion through good times and bad, has a nasty head cold. You know I adore him and I'm sorry that he feels awful, bt I'm also a bit jealous and grouchy that he can lie in bed moaning for two days because he has some congestion pain in his ear and head. I probably should be doting over him, making him homemade chicken soup and rubbing Vicks on his chest or something. But no. I'm griping.

You know why? Because not only do I have symptoms of this same head cold, including a searing pain in my left cheek, I also have a whole freaking person growing inside my body at the moment. Besides the aching head and stuffy nose, I am also dealing with stabbing pains between my legs, a constant muscle ache across my hips and back, and plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I have heartburn that simply laughs at any and all medication. My clothes don't fit right, my shoes are too tight, and my boobs really hurt. My stomach, lungs, and liver are battling it out for the same real estate, while my belly buddy pummels them all day long for fun. And I won't even discuss what the heck is going on with my bladder.

Do I get to lie in bed and moan? Come on, now. You know mommies don't get sick days! Nope, instead I grab a box of tissues, drink some lemon tea, eat an orange, and gulp down some Tylenol Sinus because I have to go to work, then come home to keep the energetic 4-year-old occupied enough that he doesn't bother his sick Daddy. I have to keep up with the cooking and the dishes and the laundry, pick up the cars and dinosaurs and super heroes that line the floors. Just getting the child and myself dressed and fed in the morning wears me out, but I've got to keep going because I have tight work deadlines, too. Meanwhile, the man with the head cold snores away in our cozy marshmallow bed.

I love you, babe, I really do. I'm not mad at you because I know it's not your fault that you're sick. And when you're well, you're a tremendous help with the kid-wrangling and the household stuff. But today I feel sick, too, and I'm grumpy and hormonal and sore and exhausted and I'm taking it out on you because you're here staring at me with that pitiful puss, looking at me as if I either gave you this cold or I have the power to take it away.

I'm also thinking, damn, if a head cold knocks you flat for two days, it's a good thing that women do the baby carrying and baby birthing and baby nursing because otherwise one of two things would happen: (1) Things would simply shut down for 9 months while the gestating daddies laid in bed, or (2) There would be way fewer humans on the planet.

And just think: In two months or so, this small person has to come out of my body (and we all know there's no good way for that too happen). I wonder how much time I'll get to just lie in bed and moan then? Hmph.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time to cut the cable

As you may have heard, there's a baby coming this way. Soon. In approximately 10 weeks, to be precise. Which is awesome and blessed and amazing and exciting. But really freaking expensive. Which makes it also scary as hell when we're just about getting by financially in our current family state.

But scary makes us think, right? Scary makes us evaluate what's important, consider what we can live without, brainstorm creative ways to make it work. So over the last couple months, Big Daddy and I have been contemplating all the many ways we can cut our expenses in order to afford another child in daycare (and all the diapers and clothing and food that comes with another person) but without causing too much personal hardship or lifestyle change.

There are the obvious things, of course -- no more eating out, suspending the gym membership that we so rarely use, putting vacation savings on hiatus, paying off small debts to free up monthly cash -- but we live pretty lean anyway so it's been somewhat challenging to come up with easy bills to chop.

One night about two months ago, we realized that we can download movies through Netflix to the Playstation 3 that's hooked up to our super-TV in the family room. Which led to another realization, one that's a tiny bit embarrassing to admit we hadn't realized before because it's so simple: We can watch movies and TV shows online on a laptop in our bedroom. A-ha! (We don't have a cable outlet [or space] in our bedroom for a TV.) This is only fantastic because I usually fall asleep on the couch mid-DVD; watching a movie in my bed cuts out that horrible wake-up-and-drag-my-butt-upstairs step.

Anyway, this startling, life-changing epiphany led us to realize that although we have like 800 cable channels on three different TV sets in this house, we rarely watch anything worth watching -- and only really use one TV. Hmph. That's silly. What's worse, we can't really come up with a list of even five shows we watch regularly. Big Daddy is a sports fan, so he likes ESPN -- but much of what you see on ESPN you can watch (or read about) online. Otherwise we do a lot of channel flipping because there's not a whole lot that's truly satisfying on the Boob Tube. We watch some Food Network and some Travel Network, but would we suffer without either? And now with the fancy new HD conversion of regular channels, we could probably have some decent TV watching for, like, free. Whoa.

And then the December cable bill came: $165 for our cable/phone/internet package. What?! Wait a second -- I can feed this family for two weeks on just about $165. I could fill up my car's gas tank 4 times for $165. We could go to the movies like 8 times for $165. We could go to DisneyWorld in a year if we socked away $165/month. I could hire a freaking housekeeper for $165/month!

When I called the cable/phone/internet company to find out why the bill went up, I learned they had "bundled" some premium channels together (even though we hadn't requested this) and tacked on $15 to our bill. How nice. Why is this legal? Why is it ok for a company to just force something on us and charge us extra? (By the way, these two premium channels offer us about 20 channels of absolute crap 24 hours a day.) No thanks -- cancel premium channels now, please.

So then I asked what it would cost just for the internet. I had to speak very slowly and repeat myself three times because the guy on the other end of the line just couldn't fathom why someone would discontinue their cable or phone services. In fact, when I told him I wanted to save some money, he actually tried to upsell me a higher priced package that offered even more crappy channels because that was, um, a "better value." Huh? How does that math work? Anyway, turns out we can save over $100/month by switching to internet-only service. Not bad, methinks.

Here's what we've come up with: Buy a TV antennae and converter box for roughly $50. A one-time charge. Get rid of the cable and watch the networks we can get over the airwaves. Get rid of the land-line phone and use our cellies. Find new favorite shows to watch on Hulu. Rent our favorite series on Netflix (and watch them in our comfy bed!) Read more books. Play more board games. Listen to the radio or podcasts. Go for more walks. Write more short stories. Learn how to sew, play the guitar, draw...

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Save lots of money and make time for things that are more enriching? So why, then, has it been so hard for me to make the call and just say "turn it off, man"?