A Birthday Party or Three

Tomorrow my little baby Eva will turn three years old and officially become a Big Girl. As an only child Eva has gotten away with a lot of baby behavior for far to long. My embarrassment is often confessed to friends when Eva demands, “I want my nipple babi (her bottle)” something she should have given up two years ago. At least she is not an eight year old sucking a pacifier or worse, my breast- thank god I gave that up on week six. Eva also still sleeps in a crib, and has been asking for a big girl bed for at least a year. I have been promising her that she can finally have her big girl bed for six months but I keep shifting the date of my promise, counting on her inability to fathom time.

Now that she is heavy enough to give me a hard time lifting her into her crib, I have decided to take the metaphorical reindeer by the antlers and allow her to move into a big girl bed tomorrow. We will also be relinquishing her afternoon nap, my only two hour break on the weekends to work, surf facebook, write my blog, etc. I will miss her nap, but I won’t miss the bedtimes, which have lengthened to at times 10pm. I think I really loved her nap a bit too much. In exchange for her big girl bed and not having a nap Eva has to make an even trade and give up her bottles, this will be difficult to enforce, but life must move on. Parenting is really just a very long lesson in the art of the barter.

The upside of having an almost three year old is the tantrums have downsized, although a lot of parents say it is not the terrible 2s, it’s the terrible 1s,2s and 3s. Eva herself had her first tantrum a few days after her first birthday when I came to collect her from school. Auntie Zoe saw my new mother of a toddler look of horror, and lifted her hand to stop me from reacting further and said, “ This is a tantrum, you must ignore it.” The worst tantrums of course were right around two but they have been steadily improving since then. A friend of mine said her daughter’s tantrums were so bad she was convinced it was her personality, but it did shift eventually, and she was hugely relieved that it was just a phase, albeit a very long one.

Like all phases, as you see the backside of one, the next one hits you totally unprepared. Eva’s turning three phase is an honesty phase, when she says exactly what she thinks, right when she thinks it without social tact, embarrassment, or any kind of filtration. I hope it’s an almost three year old phase, but the thought has crossed my mind that she could have possibly inherited this character trait from my mother, and in that case it will be more than just a phase, and an interminably long one. My mother calls it “Telling It Like It Is.”

When we were at a Christmas party recently Eva was waiting patiently with Daddy to use the bathroom, when the very tall father of the host exited the bathroom. Eva yelled, “Daddy that man looks like the CREEPER,” hiding behind his legs while desperately trying to hold her wee. The Creeper for those who aren’t up on their Scooby Doo is one of the monsters that haunts the Mystery Kids.

A far worse example was when I had been to the gym, and in my usual crazy rush neglected to take a shower for one, perhaps several days and when I picked Eva up one such afternoon from school, she threw her little arms around me and stuck her nose in my crotch and yelled, “Mommy You are Stinky!” at least twice to my complete mortification. I knew somewhere my own mother was enthusiastically nodding.

Then there was the time when we were at the coffee shop and I saw her little friend Gwyenie coming through the door and alerted Eva of her arrival. Just as Gwyenie entered our room Eva yelled, “But I don’t like Gwyenie.” I smiled as my cheeks blushed, and Eva continued to completely ignore the little girl. I suppose the lesson there is I can’t choose my daughter’s friends.

Although Eva’s tantrums have diminished now that she is three, she is harder to fool. Her newest phrase is, “It’s not fair.” She says this at any and every time she has to go to bed, turn off the TV or eat a green vegetable. I am not sure what “fair” is in comparison to because she is an only child and sure her 40 something parents are allowed to stay up past 9 pm, the terrible irony is they would love to go to bed at 9, but they have a night owl toddler and lack the energy for “It’s not fair,” discipline.

We are aware that as an only child, there are drawbacks and advantages. She gets at least 20 books read to her a day, we harp on about the important questions in life, like if she ate five or eight green beans, every sheet is clean and her lunch box rotated every three months, she is signed up for gymnastics and swimming three months in advance, she has an album for every year of her life, a drawer for her artwork, framed pictures of every childhood milestone and has at least twenty gifts under the Christmas tree.

At several times we have had those parental conversations about not spoiling her yet it still happens. We decided when she was still in the womb that after her first year we would throw her a birthday party with her friends in the summer so that she would not suffer from having a birthday right next to Christmas, a birthday everyone forgets except for Jesus. This year was our first with a June birthday party, as soon as it was done I thought phew I can cross that off the list but by the time December rolled around, I thought oh lets have a little lunch for family and godparents. So now Eva is having another birthday party tomorrow, complete with cake, a treasure hunt and more and more presents. Opps it just kind of happened perhaps because it takes a landmark in our toddler’s life to get us to host a social event.

Unbeknownst to me, Auntie Zoe threw a birthday party on Wednesday for Eva because several of her friends at nursery were going away for Christmas. That night Eva had a tantrum reminiscent of when she was twenty four months old. I was shocked, OMG she has regressed. The following day when I found out about the party Auntie Zoe and I put together that she was expecting to get her big girl bed that night, but yet again mommy disappointed her. I felt really guilty, confusing the poor child with not one but three birthdays, she probably didn’t know if she was two, three or twenty three.

Tomorrow is her actual birthday, not one of the several “Unbirthdays” and I hope it lives up to her expectations. My mother has already started coaching her for the occasion. My mother just returned from Boston where she purchased a little black dress for Eva to wear on her big day. When she gave Eva the dress, she said.

“Now Eva, when your grandfather suggested black for your birthday dress, my first thought was no of course you cant buy a child a black dress, it needs to be pink or purple.”

Eva did not react and kept playing with her legos.

“Then when he said you would look fabulous in it because of your blonde hair, I reconsidered.”

Eva barely makes eye contact but pretends to be an elephant.

“Every woman no matter what age needs the quintessential little black dress,”

my mother continued.

Eva continued pretending to be a sleeping elephant, a sophisticated make believe play, a clever disguise for I’m not interested.

“It should be multi-seasonal, go from day wear to evening wear, smart casual and dressed up for formal.”

Eva the elephant was pretending to snore.
“Black is slimming, but the material and cut is just as important, and then there is the label, recognizability is a must if you want to be anyone who is anyone.”

“Mom she is turning three not thirty.”

“Never too early.”

I look down at my daughter as she picks her nose and chases the dog around the house.

“Mom, I hate to break it to you but I think she is a tom boy.”

Tom Boy

“Hmphf, you’re the one that pointed out she is only three. I have started her an account at Talbots, they are having a special on tweed.”

“We are having a special on vodka at Eva’s party.”
“Okay good.”

“Okay good.”

“Then we will all be happy?”

“Only if Eva wears her little black dress.”

“I will make sure to wear perfume.”

Happy Birthday to Eva!

DM signature001

The Worsick Family Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am writing this while sitting on the toilet, it is the only free time a mother has but at this moment I would trade it in for a clean bill of health. Eva and I have bonded more and more throughout 2014 by sharing communicable diseases including my current ailment, a week-long stomach bug. I didn’t know that existed until I had a two year old in nursery, only one of the amazing discoveries I have made this year! Daddy seems immune but that is probably just because he chose the year of the terrible twos to become a Stay-at-Work Dad, working two jobs and starting a new career in 2015. He has decided to get into the field of security systems, that seemed like a better way to profit from the growing crime rate than to turn our basement into a marijuana farm. I was leaning toward the marijuana farm but never mind.

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Eva has become more and more verbal and expressive like her mother. Just last night she said, “I like it when Daddy is not at home.” We are getting closer and becoming more and more alike. I am pleased to report that she has recently learned how to pick her nose with her big toe. Mommy is not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed. Most people are still unsure of Eva’s gender, but that is because she spends more time in a turtle costume than in normal clothes.

She takes pleasure in outsmarting us. When Daddy tried to feed her grapes for breakfast the other day, she said, “turtles don’t eat grapes, they eat jelly fish.” Later on I struck a deal with her that after her bath I would allow her to get back into her turtle costume only if she allowed me to brush her hair. She agreed. When I whipped out the hairbrush, her response was “Turtles don’t have hair.” Mommy still has a lot to learn about arguing with a toddler.

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She has also become quite observant. After climbing on Daddy recently, she noticed the top of his head, and asked him with much concern, “Daddy what happened to the hair on the top of your head?” Mommy is not free from her toddler torment either, every time I use the toilet in her presence, she warns me, “Don’t break the toilet seat mummy.”

Everyone seems to think Eva is some sort of genius because she could do three year old puzzles and use adverbs from the age of one and a half, but I am not so sure, now that she is almost three and still can’t figure out how to climb out of her crib. I knew ballet was a lost cause so I have started Eva in gymnastics lessons, it might help.

As for me, after being unemployed for several months at the beginning of the year I now have two projects on the go, that are inevitably growing larger and getting more and more expensive, which is exactly how I would describe the reality of having a child, and probably how my husband would describe having a wife especially one with a sky miles credit card.

I am coming closer to convincing Eva that by the time she is three she can’t expect Mommy to carry her into school and to the car and next door and basically everywhere all of the time but I figure as long as she isn’t standing on a street corner yelling “Pick Me UP!” when she is twenty then we are all good.

I also find myself carrying Piccolo around now that he is too fat and arthritic to get down the steps. Piccolo is a sausage dog, but now at the ripe age of almost 12, he is more sausage than dog, and requires all the care of a doggie old folks home. I am thinking of putting him on the treadmill, that treadmill that I don’t ever get around to using.

I asked Santa for an amazon.com slow cooker and a soda stream for Christmas, it was only upon reflection that I realized how middle aged that was, that and the fact that I haven’t checked out the new restaurants, or even been away more than once in a year and a half. Maybe I am aging in dog years, and that’s why Piccolo and I are such good bedfellows. We roll over and leave Daddy at the other end of the bed.

For Christmas I ordered the largest tent I could find on amazon for Eva and shipped it to my mother’s Boston apartment and then told Daddy, “I have to fly to Boston to collect the tent in January, maybe with some friends and it might take a week.”

For 2015, I am wishing to not get hemorrhoids, to not get run over, to not get divorced or pregnant, and to never get the stomach flu ever again, especially the strain that lasts for a week.

I just reached into my desk drawer to find a pen to sign this letter, and found a deconstructed tampon. It’s a toddler’s metaphor for my life. At least I didn’t whip that out at client meeting.

All my best for 2015. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already, I would love to break the 100 followers mark ( I have 49). Pathetic, I know. Undiscovered. Not for long.

DM signature001Christmas card 2014

A Spoof Christmas Letter

I am sure we have all rolled our eyes at a Christmas letter or two in the past. As much as my entire family makes fun of my mother’s annual tome, she has used the annual letter to keep up to date with friends she would have otherwise lost track of forty years ago when their paths diverged. But at times Christmas letters feel like reading someone’s inflated resume to the power of five, and it leaves you with a feeling of jealousy and at the same time fraud. There is this imaginary gulf between those who seem to reap unfathomable success ( the writers) and those who don’t (the readers.) Feelings of inadequacy abound. The measure of a Christmas letter in the same way is how well you lie, inflate and manage your image. I suppose that is why people have entire careers in P.R., marketing, branding and the like- 20
% of the population are effective liars and 80% are gullible. I suppose the perfect recipe for a Christmas letter is probably a teaspoon of truth, a tablespoon of inflation, and one great heaping of omission. My mother has come up with some hilarious letters in the past. She has an extremely savvy way of crafting her letters, one such technique is to give away a huge revelation and then quickly there after hide an omission. It’s the time honoured technique of diversion. In 1999 I was the victim of just such a technique. In the first paragraph, she wrote:

“1999 has been a good year for us. Luci was at home with us and worked for a local TV ad radio station VSB for a year while she applied to grad school. She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but is feeling much better after homiopathic treatment and a special diet.”

Yes she misspelled Homeopathic, perhaps on purpose. I am not sure she thought about whether or not I might not want her entire world to know the details of the disease I was suffering from. I wonder if she will list her ailments in the 2014 letter, that is a possibility I wouldn’t put past her.

In the next paragraph comes the omission.

“Giles has changed schools. Things did not work out at St. George’s in Newport, R.I. although he enjoyed the sailing.”

Fifteen years later, I am sure everyone can guess that he was actually expelled for something other than enjoying sailing.

Over this last Thanksgiving week my old advisor from boarding school came to Bermuda for a holiday. We got to chatting about my mother’s Christmas letters which everyone loves and she reminded me of the year we sent a spoof letter.

“We sent that letter?” I asked.

“Yes, I remember opening it and I only read the spoof side, and I thought to myself, my god what has happened to the Spurlings!”

Her young daughter agreed, “Yes I remember the year we got that letter.”

Her mother, my advisor replied, “It took a few days but eventually I realized that there was another more typical letter on the other side and I thought PHEW! “

This conversation dredged up the fragment of a memory- did we really send that spoof letter my sister wrote?

I called her up, “Anna Laura, remember that spoof letter you wrote a while ago.”

“Yes.”

“Did we actually send that to people, I am thinking maybe we did to a few people.”

“I think maybe we did to a few people.”

“Did we send it to the Thomases?”

“You wouldn’t have sent it to the Thomases!”

“I think we did send it to the Thomases.”

“Oh my god, how many people did we send it to?”

“Who knows!”

“It was the toned down version though, not the first draft.”

“Yeah not the first draft with the unplanned pregnancies, chemical dependencies and inappropriate tattoos, yeah it wasn’t that wayward draft.”

“Phew, What year was it.”

“I think it was around 2007.”

“It was the year you were pregnant with Trystan.”

“Yeah before any of us had children and we had way too much time on our hands.”

I was inspired enough to dig through the family archive, which is my mother’s unreliable ancient imac, and found the very spoof letter, which is worth a chuckle even now. I am including it below, and at the same time considering drafting an updated 2014 version. If you are wondering, the puffer fish is still sending her annual puffed up letters. We have learned the hard way to cast an eye over it before it goes out, to catch embarrassing revelations, omissions and flat out misinformation like when she said my husband Chris, was the CEO of Island Press. It was her dream, not his reality.

Spoof Xmas Letter

Anna Laura got 2 cavities filled this year. She finally gave up smoking, but has plenty of wrinkles to show for it. She continues to drink heavily (she is a Spurling after all.) She is still dating the same guy for more than 7 years now and much to my dismay they are still not married, but will soon move in together and be living in sin. And he is not even baptized – can you believe it?

Luci is also living in sin with her boyfriend Chris. Thankfully he is baptized, but unfortunately he is more than 10 + years older than Luci. Luci also had a filling this year and now suffers from a stomach issues, which is probably a result of the copious from amounts of cheap wine she consumed in her twenties or it could be from the French kissing her dachshunds, Piglet & Piccolo (Don’t ask!).

Giles eyes failed him this year, he’s now blind as a bat just like his mother – how cute! At age 24,he’s still very much a momma’s boyJ! While at work “Four Eyes” calls home every day to ask his mother what she thinks about his every move. He gets all his laundry done for him, all meals cooked, all shopping done for him. And he doesn’t yet have to pay rent – however he still finds life quite difficult. It ‘s a rough life for my little baby G-boy!

Rick is a cigar sucking, slightly pudgy, but happy retiree. He spends an average of 5 hours a day sitting in his armchair puffing and a few more on the john pushing. He is too busy to play golf or exercise. In his retirement he has perfected the art of hovering over his computer leading to steady weight gain. My snoring keeps him awake all night and dogs barking all day prevents napping. Oh the golden years!!

I have had a couple of surgeries this year. The liposuction, the planned surgery, unfortunately was the one with absolutely no result. Ughaa… I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that my knees will forever be chubby. The other surgery I had was due to gorging myself on our European cruise. Due to overeating I developed a blockage in my bowel and had to have it removed in emergency in surgery in Boston. Unfortunately I didn’t loose any weight but rather swelled up like a puffer fish, although I must say it did help me float quite well while swimming this summer.

As you can see, all is well at Hard-a-Lee!

                                   Happy 2008!

 

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Thanksgiving Blaspheme

Thanksgiving, the time honored American tradition of gorging oneself in the company of family members and giving thanks for all of life’s blessings which include but are not limited to, a toddler’s terrible fashion sense and a family of crazy people.

Thanksgiving morning began with my mother finally catching up on her emails from last week, and reading last week’s blog. My parents’ morning conversation went something like this,

“She is most certainly not getting a Christmas ornament from me this year. “

“But I thought you were already NOT giving anyone an ornament this year?”

“Well that is true, they are too expensive, but I have been known to make exceptions.”

“Yes you are known for that tendency.”

“I am giving one to Giles and Danielle because they got married this year, that’s my exception.”

“So they really need a Christmas ornament.”

“Yes, they really need one.”

My father related the conversation to me when I dropped by midday to borrow paper, treating their house like the depository for everything I might run out of, eggs, paper, home made food, Thanksgiving dinner.

While I was there my mother began what has become a normal barrage of pleading insults.

“You aren’t wearing that tonight are you, please try and wear something better.”

“That doesn’t even match, you are wearing blue and black…. TOGETHER.”

She pretends to faint in shock.

“You never wear any of the clothes I gave you last winter.”

“Its 80 degrees outside, and I haven’t had the time to unpack my winter clothes.”

“You need to wear the yellow pants.”

“Why the yellow pants in particular?”

“It’s a fall colour.”

“So is black and blue.”

“Not- TOGETHER! “

After getting home with Eva at 6pm, I managed to wash up, feed her a snack, bathe her, make her lunch for the next day and make gluten free stuffing, leaving no time before 6:30 to get dressed or find my yellow pants, so like all important decisions I left the door to my wardrobe open and asked Eva to choose what I would wear to our Thanksgiving feast.

“The Green shoes mommy.”

“I can’t just wear green shoes, you need to pick out a dress something fancy for Mommy to wear.”

“This mommy, this mommy!” Eva said clutching the rhinestones that adorned the black dress hanging on the door.

“Hmmmm.” I said contemplating her suggestion.

“Its not Halloween but I could give it a try.” I said while looking the dress up and down. It was the latest “gift” from Reza who I swear is trying to improve my love life by dropping off sexy numbers I could never fit into. This was one such outfit.

When she gave it to me, she flung it out of the window in a crazy rush, like she was returning it after some late night hustle, — think Pretty Woman dress with cut outs, lycra and rhinestones. As I peeled it off of my face, and had a look at it, she must have detected my shock or surprise. She began rocking back and forth in her car seat and saying

“OOOhhhh LAAA LAAAA”

“OOOOHHH Laa Laa”

“You’ll need to lather yourself from head to toe and then slip that on and…..

drum roll…

“OOOHH Laa Laa.”

And then she sped out of the driveway before I could make any protestations about 2 not being my size, pleather not being my most flattering material and rhinestones being well just Dallas sized –gross. Since then it has been hanging on my closet door waiting for a toddler with hooker fashion sense to get me to try it on. So I did, try it on after lathering in coconut oil as per Reza’s advice. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I looked every bit the Pleather whore, it sucked me in and let me out in all the wrong places, making me look not just sexy but pregnant all at the same time which is very wrong. Although my vanity does not extend to fall colours and earrings, I do draw a line at looking pregnant. To Eva’s supreme disappointment I took it off, which was a chore in and of itself. I decided to hang it in Eva’s closet where all the other gifts from Reza reside. The Next time my inlaws come to visit they might think a call girl has moved into Eva’s room or become very concerned about our dress up games.

I pulled out a few other options, which were vetoed by Eva, until she found my blue and red 1940s dress.

“This one.”

“Okay, a compromise, a 1940s courtesan, instead of a rhinestone harlot.”

I threw on the dress and managed to carry, Eva her bunny and blankets, an eleven year old Dachshund named Piccolo and a tray of stuffing next door all at once, in heels becoming at once part hoarder and part lady of the evening.

We weren’t the only ones tarted up for the evening. My sister had thigh high boots and hoop earrings looking every bit the Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and weirdly matching our sister in law in a similar black and white ensemble. My 40s floozy outfit had been upstaged by an eighties throw back but at least I wasn’t wearing black and blue, TOGETHER.

Eva created her usual mayhem through out the evening while the adults ate a feast of offerings my mother had slaved over all day. The Festivities really began when my mother rang her Waterford bell and got up to make her speech on being thankful. She rounded it out with a mini speech on how proud she was that her daughter in law had passed her real estate license exam and joined a new company and that her son, Giles had passed his first actuarial exam, the most recent crowning achievements in an otherwise middling family.

“You forgot something.”

“What?”

“You forgot someone.”

“Who?”

“Chris, my husband, he also has a new career.”

I pointed at him at the other end of the table.

“Oh opps?”

“And Cheers to Chris’s new job.”

My mother always needs prompting to remember the quiet achievements of those who don’t work in reinsurance or property.

“Blaspheme!” I thought to myself.

It made me wonder if making an omission is similar to making an exception, but in an opposite way. My side of the family, the street walking, non yellow pants wearing, hustling, non reinsurance people seem to be favored with more omissions than exceptions. In some ways I am thankful for that. I can dare to wear pleather and rhinestones and tart around with my overweight dachshund and screeching toddler reminding me in their own way of the merits of my rhinestone sparkle of Dereliction – offset with pleather.

Xx Derelict Mom.

The Ornamentation of Christmas

The Holiday Season is almost upon us, and although I have the best intentions of sending Christmas cards, I never ever get around to it, in fact I probably wouldn’t have a Christmas tree if I couldn’t order that online. Every mother knows success in life is about those extra twenty minutes in a day, whatever corners you have to cut to get there, most importantly abandoning family traditions. Why send a Christmas card when you have a blog and facebook and twitter!

I have been inspired early to start posting about the holidays by Patience Brewster, an artist and a designer of beautiful Christmas ornaments. Check them out at this page. Ornaments even a derelict mother can appreciate!

http://www.patiencebrewster.com/ornaments.html

Every Christmas my mother very generously gives everyone in the family a Christmas ornament and my uncle has also started bringing ornaments back from his travels. Eva is still young enough that her favorite thing about Christmas is the tree, and well maybe I am now finally old enough that we share the same love: the tree, the lights, the ornaments, the smell as it slowly dies, those pesky needles that get everywhere. There is one level to which I will not stoop- the plastic Christmas tree. That is never happening in my house.

When I finally purchased my first Christmas tree in the dawn of my delayed adulthood I had about five ornaments, mostly hand me downs from my mother. She was really disappointed I had not spent half of my pay cheque “investing” in ornaments, but really she was even more depressed that I didn’t have any children to make them for me. The glitter and glue star that I made out of popsicile sticks is enjoying its thirtieth Christmas this year, on her tree. It was around this time (the dawn of my delayed adulthood) that she started a tradition of her own, we call it: tree inspection.

Fast forward several years to 2014, a marriage and one grandchild later: our Christmas trees-mine and my mother’s- arrive at the same time on the same day aboard the same truck because she – a savvy grandmother- orders hers online too. Hers usually goes up on its stand first, the decorating takes the better half of a week and when she is finally finished with its half seventies, half contemporary chique look, she begins the lengthy process of comparison. Keeping up with the Jones’ we all know is a dangerous game but my mother is like the domestic version of a chess master. After every Christmas Cocktail party, she asks someone in the family,

“What did you think of their tree?”

“It was nice.”

“It was way too puny for that enormous and ostentatious living room.”

“Oh.”

“It would have looked better if the lights twinkled instead of flickered.”

“What’s the difference?”

“There is a huge difference, I might come down with epilepsy from looking at that tree for too long, I had to turn my back.”

“Does your tree twinkle or flicker?”

“Of course it twinkles! Who do you think I am?”

“A Christmas Nazi”

After mom’s Christmas tree has been finished in all its glory she takes to yelling at me as she drives out the driveway,

“You better put that tree in a bucket of water or it will die on your doorstep! “

“Okay mom, Ill make Chris do it tonight.”

A few days later we would get the tree up and she would again drive by.

“I don’t see any lights on that tree.”

“We are planning on decorating the tree this weekend.”

As soon as the lights are up she arrives on the doorstep,

“Here is a gift, it’s a (2014) ornament, why don’t I put it on the tree to get you started with the decoration.”

A few days later if she sees anything hanging off the tree, the star, a Christmas Mickey Mouse, or her ornament, she arrives, dressed head to toe in red and green, with a santa hat, and musical earrings playing “Joy to the World.” She looks the tree up and down, shaking her head.

“You need to put ornaments around the back you know.”

“Why no one is going to see them?”

“But everyone will be able to tell by the way the tree leans.”

“No one will know.”

“You never brush the back of your hair either and it’s a rats nest!”

“Mom!”

“You need to put more ornaments lower down and higher up.”

If I didn’t distract her she would start rearranging the ornaments.

“Don’t you have any more?”

“No.”

I think she thinks of a Christmas tree as some sort of emblem of how well you are doing in life, how creative, how affluent, how organized, how family orientated and how much you care about Christmas, and lets not leave out Jesus Christ. He should be at the top of every Christmas tree.

“Where is the nativity?”

“We don’t have one.”

“You have to have a nativity!”

“No we don’t.”

“You have to have a nativity now that you have a child.”

“I am a heathen, remember.”

“Your husband was an altar boy and its your duty as a mother not to spoil Eva’s religious soul.”

I had no answer for that so she bought a Fisher Price nativity on amazon to be kept at Hamma and Gigi’s house. Of course Eva loved it, and has not stopped talking about Baby Jesus and Gigi’s perfect Christmas tree ever since.

Personally I would like a tree that leans a little to the side, a tree with character. I am really suspicious of people whose trees look like they shoplifted one from the department store, or stayed up for seven consecutive nights decorating it. Why?

My mother would disagree. She has been known to try and return her Christmas trees for not having the perfectly shaped form. Maybe she should think about a plastic tree? Personally I embrace the imperfection of nature, and imperfection in all its forms.

“You need tinsel on that tree.”

“We all need tinsel, mom.”

Perhaps this year, I will purchase a few new ornaments for my tree from Patience, if only to please my mother. Eva, because she is only two years old, gets off easy she can make me something with glitter, glue and popsicle sticks- the messier the better as long as she makes it with love and dereliction. As my husband says,

“Eva takes after you, arts and crafts are not her forte.”

Xx Derelict Mom

 

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A Relative History

I was never very good at math, and I might be a bit excitable, but my “fiftieth” blog post last week was actually my 49th, derelict I know. So today is my 50th post. I am always early to a party J

I decided to go back to posting about reconnecting with my mother’s American relatives, because it is so much fun to discover more about one’s roots. I posted a lot of videos on my blog in the spring from the “round robin” video I found dating back to 1985, which is now thirty years ago but somehow hairspray and balloon pants seem like yesterday!

I never found any of the round robin letters between my grandfather and his siblings, but evidently they started in the 1940s and lasted through the seventies until perhaps they all got too old or started to die off. I believe my grandfather although not the youngest was the longest lived when he died at 96 in 2004.

With the miracle of Facebook I was able to connect with my grandfather’s brother Harold’s family and meet my generation on that branch, and lovely ladies they are. One of them sent me their mother’s beautifully etched version of the family history, and what she knew of each sibling’s family.

She begins the history with an apt preface, which I will quote:

Nothing would have pleased me more than to have been able to include some famous writer, educator, or statesman in our family tree, but I’m afraid that like most families ours is unexceptional…. Except for the fact that I knew most of these people… and that I loved all of them.

Although none of us are famous, I am sure there are one or two or three Derelict Moms in the family tree, and most certainly, at least one.

The author also says she will tell you about the Youngblood family as much as she “will tell you what I think I remember from the adults’ conversations and from reading the Round Robin letters.” Inevitably oral history will get some parts right and some parts wrong and the difficulty is in looking back and trying to distinguish one from the other. When I read the section on our side of the family, and knowing the difference made me giggle many times over. Here is what it said about my grandfather Curt:

A book could easily be written about Uncle Curtis… he had the most extraordinary life of any of the Youngblood’s. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas and there were two future governors of Arkansas in his class, Sid McMath and Gov. Cherry. He enlisted as an officer in the Navy and served in the legal department of the navy during World War II. He was legal advisor to the Secretary of the Navy and observed nuclear testing in the South Pacific. At the end of the war he was transferred to London, England where he tried court marshal cases and handled lawsuits that had been brought by private citizens against the U.S. Government. He, His wife Ruby, and daughter Jane lived in a huge home with formal English gardens and completely staffed; chauffeured in a black limo with American and Navy flags on the fenders. ( The U.S. Government felt appearances and protocol important.)

The parenthesis are the author’s. I am not sure if all those details are true, but I don’t think they had a staff- I must ask my mother. The early history is spot on, but as it gets farther and farther away from the common ancestor the story gets farther and farther from the truth and more and more entertaining of course.

Curtis held court in Ireland, Scotland, Italy and France where they collected furniture, art etc and many friends who visited them in the U.S. including the author of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (this part is of course not true) . They continued to travel throughout their lives…

The parenthesis are mine this time… they were actually friends with the author and mastermind behind, The Man Who Never Was, Ewen Montagu, not John Le Carre the fiction author. Mere trivial details!

She continues:

Upon returning to the U.S. he was assigned to the Pentagon and placed in charge of the Navy’s offshore oil well and for the first time they were able to build their dream home… it is right on the Potomac River. The three story house which boasts a fireplace so large you can stand in it was built of brick made by slave labour (purchased when an old federal building was torn down.) When Uncle Stan viewed it he said it was so impressive it looked like the first National Bank of Texas.

I remember this fireplace and it was a pretty normal sized fireplace, which only a toddler could stand in, but that is from my perspective and I did grow up with electricity, parents, shoes, and multiple fireplaces. Of course I also grew up with the family trait of telling tales and never letting an even truth get in the way of a much better exaggeration.

Here is where the story gets funny:

When Curtis retired from the navy he went to work for a publishing company handling their legal affairs. His daughter Jane married a young English Barrister (lawyer) named Rob Spurling and they live in London with their son and two daughters. Rob’s father was Lord Spurling and Governor of the Bahamas, where Jane and Rob lived the first few years of marriage. ( A position the Duke of Windsor held during the Second World War… when the Royal family wanted to exile him for marrying Wallis Simpson.) Oddly enough Jane did not meet Rob in England but at Washington and Lee University. I have probably told you more about Curtis than you really wanted to know but he truly had an interesting life. And yes he did meet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip though not in England.. but at a Garden Party at the White House.

I just love the asides, despite the fact that it is totally hilarious, it would have been nice to be the granddaughter of a Lord and grow up in London, with a sojourn in the Bahamas, but alas none of that happened! and my parents met—oddly enough— at William and Mary University. My dad’s name is Rick, we live in Bermuda, my grandfather was a Sir and was never Governor of Bermuda or the Bahamas for that matter.

Particularities what do they matter? I wonder if they got these details from my grandmother’s Christmas letters, which tended like my Mother’s Christmas cards to be a more glamorous telling of the year’s events than an even truth. We are working on the 2014 version as we speak so I will be posting about that soon.

What amuses me most about the family history is that although Curtis “had the most extraordinary life of any of the Youngblood’s,” his life story is told through all the people he met or didn’t for that matter: Sid McMath and Gov. Cherry, John Le Carre, The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, and the Queen of England …. Not to mention the fireplace.

It’s pretty funny just think if he or she had written a memoir.

Xx Derelict Mom.images-7

Friends: My Saving Grace

Today is my fiftieth blog post. 50! I am having a little party for myself on my office chair with my old man of a dog, Piccolo. It’s making me reflective. It’s making me think of all the friends, enemies, and frienemies I have made through my blog. I still find it fun, I can’t imagine that I would ever stop doing something that is so much fun.

Piccolo has been my best friend for eleven and a half years and plenty of people will, do, and have made fun of me for loving a dog so much, and yet sometimes I am a bad best friend leaving him home alone too much, taking him to the vet a few months late for his annual check up and making him have an expensive and painful dentistry, but never mind, I do my best and at least I have stopped dressing him up in ridiculous costumes. I do my best with Piccolo, at my blog, at raising Eva, at life and sometimes that’s not good enough but I have an outlet of course.

It’s fun to watch Eva grow up and make friends, and negotiate her own relationships. She loves older girl friends, a girl named Maeve and Matilda, and Sienna and Scarlet who live next door. Eva is a favorite with the boys and she mucks right in with their rough and tumble play. Caelen’s mother and I have already discussed china patterns, and a wedding date, impatient to see what happens. Occasionally I see glimpses of more adult emotions like sadness and jealousy.

Eva said to me last weekend, “I want to get a kitty cat, I want two kitty cats, because they don’t bark like dogs.” And then later on she said, “Sometimes I like Piccolo.”

“What do you mean, sometimes?”

“Mommy, he is your best friend.”

“He can be your best friend too, I can share.”

“I don’t like it when he licks me.”

“Eva that’s a kiss.”

I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, which she promptly wiped away, convincing me she is two going on sixteen and those moments parents dread when their teenager makes them drop them off at school around the corner, were already happening to me. When she is sixteen I will remind her about the bracelet she gave me when she told me I was her best friend, and how I changed all her diapers and took care of her when she was sick and all the wonderful horrible details of being a mother that a child will never know, remember, or appreciate.

On Monday morning she said when she woke up, “I wish every day was Sunday,” and I told her I wished the same thing, but big girls have to go to school and mommies and daddies have to go to work. Later in the week, two friends came over and Daddy had to put her to bed and she said to him, “Daddy, I don’t like it when mommy’s friends come over, it makes me feel shy.” But I know Eva does warm up but it takes some time, sometimes three years, and most of the time chocolate works.

Eva has finally accepted my friend Reza, and when we arrive at her house every Saturday morning she screams and yells until I unclip her car seat.

“Mommy, Mommy, I want to come in.”

“We are only picking up Piglet. I’ll be right back.”

“No mommy, I am coming in to see Reza.”

“Okay, fine”

Our visit delays our regular and inevitable trip to the playground, but I am secretly happy that Eva has finally warmed up to Reza.

Reza is my dog walker and we met probably five years ago, when my dogs Piccolo and Piglet were fighting horribly and we needed the intervention of a dog trainer and his pack walking service. Enter Reza. The first time I met her, it felt like taking earplugs out of my ears and hearing the world for the first time, she was loud, a bit crazy and utterly charming.

She drove way too fast down the drive way in an old jeep beeping her car horn wildly, windows down with about seven dogs hanging out of the sides drooling. There was a fluffy medium sized red haired dog, a grey Weimaraner, a Rhodesian ridgeback, a Rottweiler, and a Labrordoodle and a couple of mutts. I had second thoughts about putting my little babies in the back seat with this motley crew of canines, but I did and she sped out of the drive way in an equally manic way which made me concerned for their well being but I felt I had no choice. If I left them at home they might kill each other. As the jeep teetered on its axel speeding around the corner, I noticed the back bumper hanging off and sparking as it dragged behind, like an unwilling accomplice.

Reza could never fade into the background, I am sure everyone knows who she is, if they don’t know her personally. To say she has presence is not enough, meeting her is like getting run over by her car, which is equally an extremely possible way of making her acquaintance.

I always love a character, so in a quiet unsure way I was besotted with Reza from the very beginning. She might be the only person I know who doesn’t have an email address, but there is something appealing, simple and ahead of her time on that front. Reza keeps it simple, and she is also loving, generous and believes that God will always take care of whatever problems arise. She has faith, more faith than I do.

The dogs soon started to hide when they heard her car horn honking her arrival outside the front door. I was a bit worried about this, so in the typical behavior of someone who does not have human children (at the time) and possibly too much time on her hands, I consulted my animal psychic. I put it to her this way, the dog walking seems to be working but I am worried that the boys are frightened of Reza as she is quite different to me, and our general quiet environment (this is pre Eva). The psychic said that they loved Reza, they might not want to go on the walk but they feel much better after they come back, kind of like the way we all feel about exercise. She also added that if our walks stopped for some reason it would cause a real problem, and specifically if Reza stopped walking them they would be upset. It was this moment that I began to realize that Reza was not just a friend she was part of the family.

Much like I get a notebook account every evening of what Eva has been up to at nursery, if she successfully negotiated a fight, who won the argument over the yellow swing, how long she napped and if she did a poo or not, Reza would appear back at front door with the dogs with a report on their behavior.

“They both did their business. That piglet is a character.”

“He sure is.”

“He doesn’t take any messing. Portia ( the Rottweiler) tried to get in his way, and boy Piggy he put her right in her place, snapped at her with all his teeth bared.”

“That sounds like Piglet.”

“He is a real so and so.”

I laughed, a so and so might be how I would describe Reza.

A year or so in Reza confessed to me something I had long expected,

“Piglet is my favorite. He is my little man. Such a So and So.”

As we got used to Reza as part of the family, we grew accustomed to expect the unexpected. Usually in the form of something odd strapped to the car, or someone odd in the car. Reza has a heart bigger than anyone I have ever met and it is often her downfall.

She lives on a budget, but she has a car which she knows is a privilege that not everyone enjoys, and she is always giving lifts to people, no matter how shady or down trodden they might appear. Personally I have never given a lift to anyone I didn’t know out of fear, yet fear doesn’t seem to sway Reza but she does get hurt from time to time. Once someone stole her phone, a blackberry my father had handed down to her, and because she never locks her door other things sometimes disappear. There will always be someone out there who will take advantage of a generous person.

Reza fills up her car in fifteen dollar increments, and the other day when she went to the station to get her regular she met a man who could not buy his kids dinner, so of course she gave him the fifteen dollars. It was a normal day for her, but probably not for the man that happened to come across her loud screeching vehicle full of dogs.

Every Sunday she bakes for the neighborhood kids and takes care of them after church. And Yes she goes to church every Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I went to church.

A month or so ago when she picked up Piccolo for his walk she tried to give me a flyer and invite me to her church’s prayer picnic that following Sunday.

“Oh I have to work on Sunday.”

She took the flyer back and could probably tell I was lying. When she brought Piccolo back from his walk, she handed me something else, a small pamphlet.

“Read it and think very hard about the message.”

I looked down and something about the cheaply printed comic book made me think it was a Jehovah Witness mini watchtower booklet.

“Reza, I thought you were an African Methodist Episcopalian (AME), not a Jehovah Witness.”

“Of course I am a Christian, hun.” She said looking offended. “Promise me you will read it.”

“Okay I promise.”

I went inside and read it. This was the jist, an elderly couple who are missionaries happen to sit next to a convicted murderer who just got out of prison on a plane flight. The plane catches on fire and is about to crash and incinerate everyone, and the murderer asks the couple to take this opportunity to trust Jesus Christ. They respond by saying that they have been good people all of their lives spending fifty years in Africa building schools and hospitals for lepers and “fed and clothed thousands of dear natives.” (that is a quote) “doing good works for God.” The Murderer tells them that good works are only fine but that they have to save sinners to get to heaven. They disagree. The Plane incinerates, and then the sweet good charitable elderly couple burn for eternity in hell but the murderer goes to heaven. The message: save a sinner or burn for eternity in hell.

I still don’t go to church so I suppose the scaremongering pamphlet didn’t work on me. I wonder if it works on anyone? Was Reza trying to SAVE me? Does she think I am a sinner?

Reza is so charitable she takes in people who have no place to stay, even sinners, and lives with complete strangers in order to give them a helping hand. She is the kind of person who would give away her last dollar knowing it would come back to her. I would never be so confident.

My husband, who makes fun of everyone, calls her a Magpie, because in addition to at least seven dogs, she usually has a car full of bags of clothes, toys, candy, chips (all bulk size), anything she has found on the side of the road and once an inflatable boat. I would not blink twice if on my way down the driveway I found her digging through the trash. She has always brought me bags of second hand clothes when she finds something in my size, but the other day she ended up bringing me an entire suitcase of clothes, shoes and of course negligees and took the time to draw my attention to the sexy bathing suit which she instructed me I should be wearing when Chris comes home from work. I still have the swim suit, its on my dressing table, more as a hilarious ornament, rather than anything I would actually wear or even be able to fit into but I couldn’t bear give it to anyone else, maybe in another lifetime I will be that thin and do as Reza instructed.

I stopped buying clothes for myself after Eva was born, and Chris just buys me the same t-shirt in a different colour every time it’s my birthday, Mothers Day or Christmas. I have had to put a moratorium on t-shirts but not the designer second hand outfits Reza finds. Its like having my own personal shopper, just not at Saks Fifth Avenue – at Thrift city or as we call it The Barn. I do occasionally wonder if the new additions to my wardrobe were out of a dead person’s closet.

I get compliments too.

“Where did you get that?”

“From my dog walker.” I used to say and people looked at me funny like we swapped shirts or something, so now I just say, “From my friend Reza.”

Reza keeps it real too. In a moment of trying to economize Chris suggested we cut back on our expenses and cut the dog walks back from three times a week to twice, so when I told Reza she was really disappointed.

“But you can afford it.” She didn’t mess around. “Look at the size of your diamond ring, its HUGE.”

“It’s not HUGE Reza.”

“Yes it is.”

Well its not, but I guess everything is relative especially when you don’t have a diamond ring and if you did you would probably pawn it. Still, she had a point to make and so did the dogs, because within a week of missing their third dog walk they went bizerk and began warring with each other again, forcing us as the psychic predicted to reinstate the third dog walk.

Reza never married but her love life was long and varied as I came to find out about a year after she began walking the dogs. One Friday afternoon in December I was all dressed up and wearing makeup, no one would recognize me, who knows me now, and I was waiting at the bus stop to catch the number 11 into town when she saw me and stopped.

“What happened to your car?”

“Nothing, I am just taking the bus so I don’t have to drive.”

She looked at me like I was crazy.

“Why?”

“ Because I am going to have a few glasses of wine, and I don’t want to drive my car home.”

“Get in the car, I will drive you.” She looked at me sternly.

I obeyed.

“Drinking will do you no good, you shouldn’t drink, I don’t drink, not one drop.”

“Okay”

I wondered whether I should try and convince her that I was actually doing the responsible thing by taking the bus, but I figured that it would be a pointless argument and of course she was probably right.

It took thirty minutes to get to town and I think she talked the whole time, somehow she ended up telling me the story in detail of how she lost her virginity. I think I just responded with the simple yet articulate, “Oh really, that is ummm nice.”

My extra large glass of red wine when I finally arrived tasted especially good.

When Eva was born Reza showered her with gifts, unnecessary but very very kind. Eva who like her father is very sensitive to sounds was completely afraid of Reza and we had to have a talk to Reza about trying to control herself and to stop beeping the car horn wildly when she arrived. She remembered some of the time.

When Eva grew into a toddler, she ran and hid from Reza when she arrived, and then broke into a high pitched wail when Reza tried to approach her, speak or look at her.

“She is shy” I would say embarrassed, but I knew she was also intimidated by Reza’s loud, kind of crazy energy.

As Piccolo and Piglet racked up a decade of years each, their relationship began to sour as they grew more and more grumpy and there was not much three dog walks a week could do to change that. We rigged the house with a series of gates and a strict protocol of behavior for the humans that we were hoping would rub off on the dogs. It didn’t. For once Reza could not help.
Finally one day Chris had enough, the dogs tried to kill each other again, Eva had to be locked in a closet and there was so much blood, it looked like someone had been murdered on the stairs. He said to me, “Enough is enough, one of the dogs is leaving the house and not coming back.” Of course I knew he was right, but I would never have reached that point myself without someone losing a finger or the tip of their nose, and god I would never forgive myself if it had been Eva.

We put Piccolo because he is the nicer of the two dogs with my parents for two months, while I tried to work out a solution. I hoped Chris would mellow but he didn’t, and I was forced to find a home for Piglet. I think I cried myself to sleep for a month before I could even cross that bridge but I did. I did something I never thought I would do, rehome my dog. I found a candidate but at the last moment I backed out, it wasn’t right, something wasn’t right about it. I begged my parents to adopt Piglet but their answer was a certain No.

Around the time my entire family came down on me for stalling in finding Piglet a home, Reza was wrestling with her own tough decision. Her dog Sergeant was old and had lost the ability to walk, so in January she had to have him put to sleep. And after a few weeks of grieving she suggested a timely solution to my own problem.

“Why don’t I adopt Piglet.”

“You would do that?”

“Yes, and he would still be your baby.”

“When I pick up Piccolo for a walk I will drop off Piglet for a visit.”

And so we came to a co-parenting agreement. Reza would become Piglet’s mother and I would become more like a god mother. I would pay the vet bills, and visit him every Saturday and take him on an outing and Reza would drop him off to see me a few days a week. This solution had in many ways been under my nose the whole time, ever since she first called him, “Her boy,” he had always been her favorite charge.

It’s been almost a year since Piglet relocated, and almost three years since Eva was born. Eva became smitten with Reza when she discovered that she has a bowl of candy in her house that she doles out to the neighborhood kids. Eva is now first in line on Saturday mornings when we pick up Piglet for an outing. Although I make her, her own organic raw cacao chocolate at home, I am not a stickler for anything so every Saturday before lunch she has a mouthful of chocolate courtesy of Reza, who she now calls “Auntie Reza.” And on occasion Reza sneaks her a packet of potato chips, which she happily scoffs and then erupts in an allergic reaction to the processed MSG. I try to say no but it’s hard to disappoint them both as they have discovered what they have in common, a love of chocolate and chips and a new friendship has been born.

Reza calls the house now quite often when she needs to talk something over. After the hurricane when she was sitting in her house ten days without power, she had obviously had too much time to think, so she called me.

“I am thinking about becoming a bone marrow donor. I give blood but I want to do something more.”

“You know you have to go away for that, and it’s a dangerous operation.”

“Yes but I want to help people.”

“Do you know anyone who needs bone marrow?”

“No but someone might need my bone marrow and I would happily give it away.”

“But you would be risking your own life, it’s a complicated operation.”

“Its just something I have to do like a calling.”

“Would you give it to a Jehovah Witness?”

“Yes I would give it to anyone.”

“Okay well don’t rush into anything we need to research it first.”

“Can you look it up on your computer.”

“Yes.”

Click

Now I am thinking she has really gone insane, but that is from the viewpoint of someone who has never even given blood, forget a kidney or my own marrow. But you got to love her; she adds sparkle to my life.

Reza really solved a terrible situation by adopting Piglet, and we will be friends forever not only because she did for me something my own parents flatly refused to do but also because she just can’t help being herself. She has a loving heart of gold even if she does think I am a wine guzzling heathen with an ostentatious diamond who needs to be SAVED. I know who I will ask if I need a bone marrow transplant and it won’t be my parents it will be Reza of course!

I am considering letting Reza save me, just to see what happens.

Xx Derelict Mom

Reza and EvaFlight 144001Piccolo on his walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Recovery and a Naughty Halloween

What should you do after a Hurricane? After you finish cleaning up?

It took us a week to finish and after the dust settled I decided to….

Enlist the indentured servitude of my two year old, and her handy Radio Flyer wagon, to collect the fallen fruits of Gonzalo’s labour, our family crop of limes.

Radio FlyerEva's lime

When we surveyed the damage from the Hurricane and ventured into the citrus garden to check on Eva’s much adored and feared Bee Hive to find that the wrath of Gonzalo spared the lime trees but not its crop, but for a few scraggly weather beaten ones that managed to hold onto their stems by some godly miracle. Looking at the two that remained on the tree, reminded me of how I felt after the first year of motherhood, and Hurricane Eva. Now that she is nearly three I have learned to buffet the changing wind and tide of motherhood, but now the monstrous storms have clinical names like salmonella, septicemia, or hand, foot and mouth and impetigo. As Eva has made it through the alphabet of diseases I have gotten less and less freaked out by disaster and to more or less expect it. So when Hurricane Gonzalo set its sights on us, all I could think was thank god I don’t have a breast pump dependant infant anymore, there was always a worse time for a Category 4 Hurricane or a better time to stop pumping if that had been the case. Anyway now that Eva is almost three, and we had a few dropped limes and missing trees, we were happy eventually to celebrate the passing of Hurricane Season 2014.

Super Eva and her radio flyer amassed several wagon loads of limes, which after a few rounds of pressing them on my juicer to freeze in little jars with a broken hand like the penny pinching artist I should be, but am not — I thought F…THIS… lets break out the Tequila. I was given this idea, by my aunt who informed me we are going to make my uncle’s 60th birthday party a Tequila party.

Patron Silver was the perfect muse to bring us all back to reality, after spending most of the week cleaning. In the true spirit of coming clean I have to admit that I had almost never cleaned Eva’s play pen in the several years it was in operation. After taking everything apart in preparation for the storm surge, when we came to put the playpen back we sorted through every toy and missing puzzle piece with the idea of restoring it to its former glory, just cleaner. To this end Chris cleaned the multicoloured padded flooring which had come apart into a million pieces in letters and numbers and weird corners and parts. After all the parts dried we did not have the heart, or could not be assed to put it back together so we normalized the living room and called it Eva’s big girl playpen. And she bought it – Phew.

The other casualty of the Hurricane recovery week was Eva’s unspoiled vocabulary. She has always had a robust vocab for her age, ever since she said her first word at the early age six months; it was “mama” of course. We almost made it to three without a terrible word escaping Eva’s mouth, or anything worse than “yucky” or “poo poo” until a terrible event spoiled everything. Last weekend, Eva was perched on Daddy’s knee while he watched the Spurs vs. Newcastle game. When Newcastle scored, he yelled “Fuck Off” and the little parrot on his knee echoed him back “Fuck Off” she roared toward the T.V. I laughed, finally, we had a bad parenting moment I did not have to take credit for!

Great I thought, in another six months she will be shouting “Yid army!” be wearing camo cargo pants and be unrecognizable underneath the Spurs regalia and swear words. It was probably predestined that I would give birth to a football hooligan and it was beginning to materialize before my eyes.

Maybe I will become one of those really bad parents who dress their kids up on Halloween as a football lout to explain away their potty mouth. But I am not sure that I will be able to explain why my two year old dressed up as a turtle is yelling “Fuck Off” to the princess and the witch instead of chewing on lettuce leaves.

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I am sure Daddy won’t appreciate this revelation on the blog but he does have his own way of seeking revenge. Like when he came home from work last Friday and made a mischievous promise to Eva.

“Eva I promise that Mommy and Daddy will both dress up for Halloween.”

“Don’t make a promise to a two year old you can’t keep.” I said

“I bought you a present.” He said with an evil grin.

“What?” I asked in dread.

He went out to his motorbike and came back with an unsuspicious plastic bag, and gave it to me, still grinning.

I took a deep breath and opened it. Inside was another plastic bag, one of those all in one costume packages. I pull it out, and with one word, ruined my Halloween.

“VELMA!”

“You are dressing up as Velma Dinkley for Halloween.”

I looked back in the bag.

“If I am dressing up as Velma, where is your Fred costume?”

“They didn’t have any other Scooby characters.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true I looked.”

“Then we will make one up, we need to get you a yellow ascot.”

“Okay. Will you try on the red wig?”

“This is not Naughty Velma is it?”

“Maybe it is Naughty Velma!”

And so Naughty Velma was born a week ago, out of revenge and a plastic bag.

And so it was that the morning of Halloween Friday, I dressed Eva in her first of three costumes, the turtle and took her to school. When I left I made her my own promise.

“Eva when mommy picks you up from school I will come to get you in costume.”

She was so excited.

When I pulled out of my driveway at a little after five in a red wig and glasses my neighbors gave me a triple take.

“It’s Halloween people!”

More and more people stared at me as I drove by them in my familiar car with an unfamiliar look as if I couldn’t possibly be doing something as innocent as going trick or treating, they looked at me as if I was going to rob a bank, or maybe to everyone else in the world, Halloween is just for kids.

When I arrived at Eva’s school she burst into tears.

“Eva it’s mommy I’m dressed up as Velma.”

“I wanted you to dress up as Mommy Turtle.”

“Oh dear. Next year I can dress up as Mommy Turtle.”

After I wrestled my baby turtle into her car seat we headed home to unpack her school bag before heading out Trick or Treating. On the way home we passed a young woman on the side of the road dressed up as a playboy bunny, now I am sure she got a lot of looks, and I am equally sure no one thought she was going to rob a bank.

“Look Eva it’s a Naughty Bunny.”

“He He” she giggled, “A Naughty Bunny!”

“What are you dressed up as Mommy?”

“I told you Eva, I am dressed up as Velma.”

“Naughty Velma.”

“Okay fine, Eva whatever you want, Naughty Velma! “

We trick or treated our way down to Eva’s classmate’s house where Eva resumed their ritual fighting over toys, while Naughty Velma had a glass of wine.

When Daddy finally turned up from work right in time for trick or treating he showed up looking every bit as dapper as he usually does on a Friday evening.

“What happened to Fred?”

“I ran out of time.”

“You broke a promise to Eva.”

“Naughty Velma is more than enough of a surprise.”

“It was the yellow ascot, you weren’t man enough.”

“We need to immortalize this moment with a picture.”

Chris photographed Naughty Velma at the party, to which my only response following the lead of my naughty turtle, was F*CK OFF.

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On a side note, I have long wondered if hoarding was genetic and I think it is. Eva did not want to be just one thing for Halloween, so she dressed up as both a Turtle and a witch, and then when she went to bed she had to wear her skeleton pajamas because what is a holiday without at least three costumes. Or perhaps just perhaps my little Eva is turning into my mother and is already designing her future walk in closet.

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I hope everyone had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

Xx Derelict Mom aka Naughty Velma.

Hurricane Gonzalo: A Lucky Escape

There are times in life when you feel downright lucky and today is one of those days. Bermuda survived Gonzalo without any loss of life, and we personally escaped with only minor property damage. We anticipated a much worse scenario, flooding, possible roof loss, which was widespread in 2003’s Fabian. It was 15 degrees of separation between a blow from the South like Fabian and a blow from the East that we had with Hurricane Gonzalo. As I watched from my unshuttered kitchen window I was thankful I was watching the waves crash to the side of the house rather than over the house. As a precaution we had sealed up all the doors with a caulking gun and moved most of our belongings on the bottom floor up to the top. We hunkered down in my office, playing a new game of “Candlelight Lego” and waiting for the eye to pass. When it arrived it was dark but we ventured outside anyway to investigate and our world had an eerie orange glow. We checked in on our neighbors, shared a glass of wine and then discovered all the planks from my father’s docks had washed into our bay so before the storm returned, yours truly went for a swim in her clothes and fished out all the planks, partly so we could reuse them, and partly so they wouldn’t sail in the opposite direction causing unknown harm to property or people. Chris and I had a large bottle of wine, a gift from Uncle Michael and Another Michael which we had been saving for a dinner party we never got around to hosting, so we decided to crack it open for the special occasion. We still haven’t finished it but it is helping to ease the clean up process.

After we woke up at dawn the following morning to the ominous drone of coast guard planes flying overhead in an eerie stillness without the traffic, birds chirping, or the chatter of people that usually accompanies a weekend sunrise, we got up dusted ourselves off and did a survey of damage. To our utter amazement our power came back yesterday, making us one of the lucky ones, and enabling me to post this Hurricane aftermath update. We found the St. George’s Ferry sign in our yard amid the debris, many downed trees, and a hut from the garden thrown into the air but miraculously without hitting anyone’s house, and sparing Eva’s cedar tree by a few feet.

Later on, like many of the fortunate, we partook in Bermuda’s premier spectator sport, Hurricane damage sight seeing around St. George’s and St. David’s. From the vantage of my father’s boat, which emerged unscathed from its storm mooring in Mullet Bay we counted about forty boats either sunk at their moorings or on the rocks. Here are some photos of the damage around our house and in the East End area. Amazingly, the Settler’s Dwelling, which my father and volunteers built at Carter House, using tools and material from the 1600’s as the first settler’s would have done, withstood the Category 3 hurricane without damage. Unfortunately the St. George’s charter fishing vessel, Messaround, sunk at the St. David’s dock, although the boat next to it, Lucky Charm, weathered the storm. Not all vessels were so lucky, not even Lucky seen in my featured image aground at Ferry Reach. I hope “Lucky” has insurance.

I had better get back to raking leaves and clearing debris. Until next week. Enjoy the images.

Xx Derelict Mom

DSC_0423 Lucky DSC_0431 DSC_0429 DSC_0426 DSC_0421 DSC_0417 DSC_0403 DSC_0402 DSC_0395 DSC_0373 DSC_0349 DSC_0342 DSC_0339 DSC_0334 DSC_0328 DSC_0325 DSC_0321 DSC_0315 DSC_0313 DSC_0310 DSC_0306

October 2014 103 October 2014 102 October 2014 101

Gonzalo: Force Majeure

When I started my blog in January and committed to blogging once a week, I thought it was a tall task I would have trouble committing to, therefore I made it a New Year’s Resolution. I imagined all the obstacles that would come my way, a sick child, surprise work deadlines, holidays, exhaustion, a family wedding. Until today all of those things have happened and been successfully negotiated, and my blog has gone up every week either on a Thursday, Friday and on one occasion a Saturday morning. Its 2pm on Friday October 17th, I was supposed to be filming Founders Day at the Berkeley Institute but instead I am hunkered down with shutters closed. We just finished moving the bottom floor of our house up to the top floor in anticipation of the inevitable flooding which will be coming along with Category Four/Three Hurricane Gonzalo. Eva is supposed to be napping but she is instead crying from the comfort of her crib in the safest room in the house. Chris and I are exhausted already and we are taking a break while Eva naps to take advantage of the power while we still have it. I am writing, Chris is watching tv. Whether or not I make my blog posting deadline this week, depends on how fast I type and how long the electricity stays on. It is a race.

If I don’t make it, I am claiming an Act of God or Force Majeure, that clause in a contract you never think will apply for you which may extend to next week too because who knows when the power will be restored. It is a miracle I got any work done this week, as just five days ago we were all surprised while we were sleeping ( or partying) with an unforecasted small hurricane, Fay. The week before, Chris was away and Eva had vomiting and diarrhea, in the midst of my evening workshops, and one of my closest friend’s weddings. I couldn’t do it all, it was one of those weeks I was just trying to show up and deal.

Last Friday, I became very concerned about Eva’s condition, her belly swelled up, she wouldn’t let me touch it and my mind jumped around before landing conclusively on the assumption that she had an obstruction because who could possibly have stomach flu for an entire week. I considered taking her to the emergency room, and I half packed a bag for an overnight in the Gosling ward, but instead I took her down to the doctor’s office, having to wait a few hours for an appointment. Right as we were about to leave, she requested the potty and after several minutes of contortions, noxious fumes, and loud echoing boofas (farts), her stomach became less of a pregnancy and more of a soft toddler belly. The occasionally diligent derelict mother that I am, I photographed the toilet explosion, partly to show the doctor and partly to show Chris what he missed while on holiday, I mean while on his trip for his Grandmother’s funeral.

Rushing down to the doctor, they looked shocked to see me five days after I had called, concerned with what seemed a worse than usual stomach flu. After close examination but without looking at my diligently photographed documentary evidence, he concluded that Eva may not have a case of the stomach flu, but rather be suffering from a seven day case of Salmonella poisoning. There is no treatment.

When Eva and I returned home and looked up salmonella poisoning on the internet I saw that it is most often contracted by consumption of raw eggs. I racked my mind, and remembered that on Sunday, only my second day of single parenting with eager enthusiasm and a desire to become at least for a day or two, the fun parent, I made her eggs benedict for lunch. Toast with butter, smoked salmon, a poached egg and home made hollandaise sauce made from…raw egg yolks. Eva helped me crack the eggs, and somehow contracted salmonella, just the perfect little microbe to ruin our week and make a derelict mother even more derelict. I poisoned my child.

By Saturday though I felt Eva had recovered enough for me to leave her at home and attend my friend Elena’s wedding, as I had missed a cruise and several parties and if I missed her wedding it would have been a disappointment for years to come. I am not sure many parents would have done the same, but I did not want to be a derelict friend in addition to a child poisoning mother.

Chaos follows us so, enroute to the wedding we managed to leave someone behind. The weather had picked up early in the day because they had forecast a bit of a blow so the bride at the last minute had to move the entire wedding to the tent on front street at Pier 6. It was an amazing act of organization that they were able to pull it off, and pull it off they did. The wedding went off without a hitch, by the witching hour my mother was dancing on stage with Uzimon. A perfect night.

But it was an imperfect morning. I wasn’t sure at 7am if it was the banging in my head or if it was the shutters banging that woke me up. Within a minute or two of consciousness and noticing that the power was off, I realized that we were in the midst of a hurricane. Home alone with a small child, and a large hangover I wasn’t even sure I had shut the front door the night before never mind moved Eva’s toys, or the lawn furniture. We had no choice but to wait it out.

When the winds subsided, we realized that no one knew more than we did, and that there were winds recorded up to 155 mph, a Hurricane. It was a frightening thought that I went to bed, husband less, having had too much to drink, in charge of a small child recovering from mother induced salmonella poisoning and completely unaware of what was happening. However Hurricane Fay was but a warning.

I could not have been more happy when a world weary husband walked in the front door at midnight, fresh off the BA flight from London, the only flight that arrived the day after the freak Hurricane. I regaled him with tales from the wedding and boats upon the reefs, and showed him a picture of the wedding tent, which only a few hours after the party ended was but tatters on the ground.

When Monday morning dawned and Chris got up to survey damage to the house, he was pretty surprised to see that like the Hurricane had downed trees, and broken branches, that inside salmonella poisoning had wrecked the house. There were clothes everywhere and crayon scribbles all over the wall confessing all my derelict mom moments where I just let her take my sharpie pens and do so with them what she would- which was draw on the wall, probably while I was in the kitchen pouring my self a nice big glass of wine or a tequila and probiotic lemonade.

Little did we know that the next five days would kick the chaos up a notch. Within a day or so a grim forecast was issued by the Bermuda Weather Service, who we weren’t sure whether to trust or shun. All of the responsibilities of the salmonella week that I offloaded into this week were again cast off, in favour of spending way too much money panic buying with the rest of the island at the hardware store, and the grocery store. Chris would say I do this every week, but at least I could clear my schedule and be that parent, the one who organizes everything.

To make matters worse, drunk with the chaos of the moment, I tripped backwards over a paving stone and storm detritus falling backwards and hurting my hand which I reached out behind me to break my fall. The following day, while refilling a prescription I decided to show the doctor, who said it would be best if I had an x-ray because if it is broken I may have to have surgery to put a pin in to stabilize the thumb. Two days before the storm I rock up to the Fracture clinic without an appointment, after about an hour of arguing it was agreed I would be seen. Meanwhile in the waiting room I have visions of having surgery and being trapped at the hospital during the worst hurricane in a decade and separated from Eva and Chris. Although I would probably get more sleep than I had in the preceding ten days, it was not the best version of events. It was eventually decided that I did not need surgery but a brace was required.

I am not sure being one handed slowed my shopping down at all, but it did create a problem for hurricane prep especially considering my husband ever the loyal employee, did not arrive home from work to begin prepping the house until 4:30, approx. three hours before nightfall, whereas I had been preparing for at least three days.

So here we are on Friday October 17th at almost 3pm crowded into two rooms with a dog and a three year old, and all our worldly belongs waiting for that Force Majeure otherwise known as Hurricane Gonzalo and its wrath. Gonzalo was named for the character in Shakespeare’s Tempest famously inspired by the wreck of the Sea Venture in 1609 and the survival of the castaways in Bermuda leading to the island’s colonization by England. In the play Gonzalo was stranded on a remote island when Prospero conjures up a storm to wreck a ship. The conjuring is amping up now so I better sign off. Until next time. Waves are crashing in the garden and friends have lost power, I will post now or never! 1700 words in almost an hour- that must be a record. Lets see how fast I can cut and paste.

Forgot to mention, I have been on a cooking spree and made gluten free pizza, vegan fudge, ham, spagetthi squash, potato salad, gfree bread, quiche, deviled eggs, guacamole. We will not go hungry for days, and now I just have to decide if I am going to make gazpacho or bloody mary’s with my bottle of V8? Votes?

Xx Derelict Mom