Uterus on Wheels

I have a love-hate relationship with my minivan.

It’s mostly love.  Ninety percent love.  OK, eighty-five percent.  I remember being in my 20’s and scoffing at the 30- and 40-somethings around me who had embraced the minivan stage of life, and thinking, “I will NEVER be that person.  There is no way I will ever drive a minivan.  Ever”  And yet, here I am, rocking my 2011 Honda Odyssey.  Black, because that makes it look sexy.  Power doors, so that they can magically open with the light touch of a button on my key fob, fascinating and delighting my children time and time again.

My two work BFF’s and I used to have matching Honda minivans, parked side-by-side in our parking lot at work, announcing to the world our position in life without a word. My one friend coined the term “Uterus on Wheels” (UOW) when referring to her minivan, which is the most sad yet accurate description I have heard yet.  She once threatened to hang a set of truck nuts from her bumper to balance out the estrogen that seems to ooze from every crevice.  Instead she traded her UOW for a sporty little BMW.   Mid-life crisis if you ask me, and unwise at this time when storage and function simply must take precedence over vanity.

I was recently at my local Honda dealership for a service appointment, and while I was there one of the salesmen was trying to talk me into buying a new car.
“What are you driving now?”, he asked me.
“A Honda Odyssey”, I replied.
“You got kids?  Married?” he inquired, and this is where I gave him the side-eye.  I mean, does he know a lot of single gals without a partner and a gaggle of kids who drive around in minivans for giggles?

My husband was devastated when we first took the plunge into minivan-land.  We were both 32 at the time, with a 2 year-old and another on the way.  The day we picked it up and drove off the lot, he appeared humbled and ashamed, his manhood challenged.  Would he be strong enough to drive a UOW?  Could he withstand this assault on his testosterone levels?  He started calling it the “family mobile”, and I told my 2-year old that our new van was a “cool car”.  He repeated the phrase “cool car” in his cute little toddler voice which always intoned upward at the end of every phrase, so that each time he said it, it sounded like a question.  “Cool car?  Cool car?”  Allllll the way home, we rode in our cool car (?), our toddler repeating his mantra from the back seat as if to convince us both that if you say it enough, it must be true.

But my new van WAS cool, especially with my pregnant belly and a toddler in arms.   I no longer had to bend over and strain my back as I once did in my 4-door sedan to buckle my little one into his car seat.  Loading up the trunk after my weekly grocery haul was a breeze, and we had room for all the toddler and baby paraphernalia on our road trips to see family.

My kids are bigger now, but the UOW is still working overtime.  My husband has since bought a Toyota Tacoma for him to drive, likely an effort to recover his manhood.  He looks really cool in it, but guess what?  It still doesn’t haul as much stuff as my uterus.  Anytime he has to haul a big load, the uterus gets it done.  Road trips are always a job for the UOW, which easily accommodates all of the suitcases, coolers, bikes, toys, and people that we need to bring with us.  The man-mobile just can’t manage quite as much.  There may be a metaphor in there.

All that said, my UOW is not without its faults.  Her turning radius–not so good.  I had an angry man in a little compact sedan flip me off the other week when I underestimated the breadth of my turn while coming out of a school parking lot onto a narrow side street, causing him to have to hit the brakes.  Never mind that he was barreling down a side street adjacent to a school about 30 miles over the speed limit. Jerk. Move out of the way, dude–my uterus is coming at you!  Your compact sedan must yield in my wake!

Parking can be a challenge. It’s kind of like trying to wiggle into a pair of skinny jeans one size too small. On a good day if you come at it from the right angle, it’s possible.  But it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes once you get in, you can’t get out.  Then you have to open the door a tiny crack, suck in, and scootch out, praying that the person beside you won’t leave an angry note on your windshield.  And parallel parking?  Fuggeddaboutit.  Just don’t.

She’s looking a little beat up these days, my UOW.  She is bearing the scars of life with a young family.  In this way, I feel like we understand each other.  She has some exterior scratches, and the other day she had an unfortunate encounter with a deer.  She tries to be pretty, but it’s really an uphill battle for her, what with the constant stream of Goldfish crackers getting ground into her upholstery and the dead bugs freckling her front-side.  Her windows hide secret messages and pictures that can only be seen from the inside when the glass fogs up.  We could probably survive at least 2 days after an apocalypse in there between the snack remnants that have fallen between the seat cracks and the half-empty water bottles camping out in all of the cup-holders.   No one cares about washing the UOW consistently, though sometimes she is the recipient of a homespun car wash in the driveway, with kids in bathing suits who only manage to get her streaky-clean at best, and even with that her upper third goes completely untouched. I don’t think the UOW cares, nor do I, since we both know it is just a matter of time before the rain comes to wash away the soapy streaks.  She is the embodiment of functionality.  And I love her, streaks and all.

The other day, hubby said that we probably won’t need our UOW much longer, now that the kids are getting older.  He proposed getting a bigger truck for him, and downsizing my car.  “But, what about all the high-school friends I will have to shuttle to and fro?  And the family road trips?  What about college move-in days??”  He’s clearly not thinking this through all the way to the end.  We’re not ready for a vehicular hysterectomy quite yet, in my opinion.

So in the meantime, I shall drive my uterus proudly through town, racking up the miles and the memories, angering hurried men in compact sedans and inciting jeers from twenty year-olds who look upon my streaky, bug-speckled van and say, “I will never drive a minivan.”

 

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Questions for Deepak Chopra

The other day I was listening to a podcast, in which Oprah was interviewing Deepak Chopra on the subject of meditation.  They spent some time talking about the well-established benefits of meditation, in addition to how Deepak himself practices daily. Though some Christians would criticize a practice of meditation as being “new age” or in some way counter to their faith, he explained how it is actually a vehicle we can use that allows our mind to be quiet enough to hear the voice of God.  I enjoyed this part of the conversation, and as someone who started practicing yoga a little over a year ago, I can fully see the benefit of learning to turn down the background noise in order to pay attention to that “still small voice”.

Of the benefits that he himself experienced, he said that he had no one he needs to forgive, and he does not have any stress.  When queried, Deepak told Oprah that he meditates for 2 hours in the morning, in addition to a half- hour to one hour in the afternoon.  [insert record scratch sound]

Wait, what?

OK, now I just have a lot of questions.  I know Deepak probably doesn’t read my blog (YET!).  However, I am still going to raise these questions directly to you, Deepak. I feel it will be the most direct way for me to try to get to the truth of the matter.

First of all, Deepak, you said that in order to meditate effectively one must be well-rested, or else one will find themselves falling asleep.  This makes perfect sense.  However, you then went on to tell us that you meditated from 4-6 AM every morning.  This, for me, was the most troubling section of the podcast.  Four in the morning, Deepak?  Deepak, what is your bedtime?  According to my calculations, this would mean that in order to get enough sleep to be adequately prepared for a 4 AM wake up call, you would have to get your peaceful butt in bed by 8 PM, maybe 8:30 at the latest.

And Deepak, if your bedtime is indeed between 8-8:30 pm, this raises a whole other set of questions for me.  Like, when do you fold your laundry?

What time do you eat dinner?  Are you one of those people that shows up at restaurants at 4:30 PM for the early bird special?  I’m just asking because you know it’s not really good for your digestion to lie down to sleep right after dinner.  So if you eat at 6:30 or 7 PM and then you have to go to bed an hour later, I’m just worried you’re going to get indigestion or something.

When do you watch Homeland and Breaking Bad and House of  Cards and all those other swear-y TV shows that are inappropriate to watch in front of young children so you have to wait until they go to bed?

Speaking of children, when your kids were young, what time did they go to bed?  Did you go to bed before them?  When they were doing the bedtime stalling thing where they get up and down 17 times for water and one more hug and please close my closet door, and I’m scared and et cetera, did this interfere with your pre-meditation sleep sesh?  What if they had a bad dream or puked in their bed in the middle of the night or something like that?  This adequate rest + waking at 4 AM thing is not adding up for me.  I feel confident that I could do either of those things individually, but not both at the same time.  How do you do both, Deepak?

Do you ever hit snooze and skip the meditation in favor of sleep?  If so, approximately how often does this happen?

Is coffee allowed at morning meditation?

I don’t know about you Deepak, but my children have this uncanny ability that causes them to know when I am awake.  Maybe they are light sleepers simply responding to the faint creaking of the stairs underfoot, or perhaps something more calculated is occurring.  Either way, I am quite certain I would have some inquires at some point along the lines of, “what are you doing mom?”  If this happens, say, an hour into my two-hour session, do I have to start all over, Deepak?  If I get agitated about my meditation getting interrupted by small people, does this negate the benefits for me?  Can I still successfully meditate with two people watching me and asking me rapid-fire questions?


In regard to your afternoon meditation session, my question is this:  Deepak, do you have a cloak of invisibility?  Like the one from Harry Potter?  If not, how do you get people to leave you alone for that length of time?  How is it that no one interrupts you?  I’m just asking because I myself have not had an uninterrupted shower in over a decade, and even attempts at defecation are, in the eyes of the people I live with, perfectly good opportunities to ask me questions such as, “Do you know what the weather is going to be like today?”, or “Can you toast me a bagel?”

Does lying on your side in the fetal position whilst seething with resentment count as “meditation”, Deepak?  Asking for a friend.

I know you’re probably too busy to respond directly to my inquiries, Deepak, what with being a doctor, an author , a sought-after speaker, and a spiritual guru, in addition to your time-consuming meditation schedule.  I think you would probably tell me to start with small increments of time and work my way up, and I think this is sound advice.  So right now I am playing hide-and-seek with the family and I found a really good hiding spot, and I am being as quiet as I can.  Hopefully this will last 3 whole minutes before someone finds me, so if the Divine voice has anything to say to me, He better do it quick.  Full disclosure:  I didn’t actually tell my family  we were playing hide-and-seek.  I just hid.  Is that a good start, Deepak?

I admire you Deepak, I really do.  Maybe one day you and I can meditate together, and you can show me how your cloak of invisibility works.  Let’s do it at your house, OK?  My house is a little crazy.

Superfoods

Something in my fridge stinks and I don’t know what it is.

No lie–I have a super power.  I can smell things before other people can smell them.  I think I am part hound.  Or I was a hound in a previous life.  I can walk into my kitchen and smell that there is something amiss.  “What is that smell?”, I ask my family, my face contorted in disgust.  They all shrug and bite into their waffles, and my husband rolls his eyes, because I probably say “What is that smell?” or “Something stinks in here” at least 4 times a day, and everybody’s tired of it.  But then–THEN–2 weeks later we will be cooking spaghetti sauce and I will ask that same husband to reach into the pantry and grab me an onion, and he will emerge with a full-on rotting onion, all soft and dripping rotten onion juice, and I will say:  “HA!  I TOLD YOU SOMETHING WAS STINKY IN HERE!”

I have not figured out how to use my super powers for anything other than driving my family crazy and occasionally sniffing out rotten food 2 weeks before it is actually rotten.  It’s really a burden more than a gift.  It’s not like I’m one of those dogs who can smell when someone has cancer or something cool like that.  It’s more like I will be laying in my bed at night and feel completely distracted and unable to sleep because I can smell that something in the kitchen downstairs is decidedly not right but I couldn’t find it on my pre-bedtime stink search so now I’m just laying in bed smelling it and wondering what it is and trying to ignore it so I can go to sleep but I CAN’T GO TO SLEEP BECAUSE I CAN SMELL IT, so then I have to put Vick’s Vapo-Rub under my nose so I can finally go to sleep.

Anyhow, this fridge business is different than the onion business, because everyone can smell it, not just me.  That’s how you know it’s bad.  I have been through that fridge at least a half-dozen times in the past 3 days, sniffing and wiping and scrutinizing its contents.  Yesterday I roasted up 3 heads of broccoli, just to get it out of the fridge.  It was still fresh, but you know how sometimes those cruciferous vegetables can emit that certain odor?  I had to get the broccoli out of the mix, just to narrow things down.

The only thing left that might be questionable is the kale.

I mean, it looks fine.  It’s in a bag, and it’s not slimy or anything.  But it’s kale.  It’s easy to blame things on kale, I think.  I started eating kale as I was approaching 40 because it’s good for you, and it’s a superfood and all.  I have this complicated relationship with kale because I don’t love it, but if it’s prepped right I don’t hate it either.  It’s growing on me.  And after I eat it I just feel like the biggest superstar, because I just ate a superfood.  So I’m trying to eat more of it, and I try to sneak it into recipes, much to my children’s chagrin.  So this morning after opening the fridge, the husband said, “Just throw out the kale!”  But I feel guilty.  I should eat the kale, because it’s good for me and all the health experts say it prevents cancer and is a good source of antioxidants.  But realistically, how much kale can I eat in one sitting?  Also, what if I throw away the kale and then the fridge still stinks?  You see my dilemma.

And then this morning the husband was in the crisper and found a little nubbin of an English cucumber that was all soft and macerated and sitting in its own cucumber juice there in the corner of the drawer, cleverly hiding under the tomatoes.  Could this nubbin have been the source of our fridge odor?  I have to tell you, it was nasty and drippy, but I sniffed it with my super-smeller and it really was not emitting any smell at all, which is impressive if you think about it.  The bag of kale doesn’t smell either, but I think all of these vegetables are LYING TO ME.  I just gave a whole bunch of celery the boot last night because it was looking a little brown around the edges of the leaves.  I HAVE NO PATIENCE FOR BROWN CELERY LEAVES.

I guess I could spend a little time today making up a fresh batch of kale chips with all of the kale that I feel guilty throwing away.  Except for one small problem:  Kale chips sound disgusting.  I have saved many a recipe to my Pinterest boards for kale chips, but I have not yet been able to bring myself to actually make them.  Chips are made of potatoes or corn.  End of story.  Bake them, fry them, cook them in a kettle, whatever.  They are one of life’s simple pleasures.  They are perfection.  To try to imitate this perfection with a cruciferous vegetable just seems wrong.  I can’t do it.  And you know that I would be the only one eating them.  No way that I could convince my two kids to eat chips made of kale.  And then if they were gross I would feel guilty throwing them away.  Because of the antioxidants.  You can’t just throw antioxidants into the garbage next to brown celery leaves and macerated cucumber nubbins.

So here’s what’s on the menu today:

Breakfast:  Smoothies made with bananas, berries, and kale
Snack:  Massaged kale, drizzled with a citrus dressing and tossed with walnuts and dried cranberries
Lunch:  Quinoa and mixed vegetable salad (featuring:  kale)
Dinner:  Teriyaki vegetables with rice noodles, edamame, and a side of sautéed kale.
Snack:  My tears
Midnight snack:  An entire bag of tortilla chips, with a side of Lay’s Classic.

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Revenge of the school bus driver

Last week was the last day of school.  Both kids came home with a mix of emotions, and ran off the school bus eager to tell me all the sad and tragic and happy things.  My oldest is starting middle school in the fall so he is dealing with the excitement of moving up, combined with sadness at leaving his elementary school and a healthy amount of fear of the unknown.   We talked and hugged, checked out their report cards, had a snack, and I sent them out to play.

About a half-hour after later, Leah came running inside to tell me that their bus driver had driven by our house on his motorcycle to give them a present!  She promptly checked with the kids next door and down the street and confirmed that she and her brother were the only lucky recipients of a special gift from the bus driver.  Why  this matters to her, I don’t know.  Everything’s a competition when you’re eight, even winning favor from your school bus driver.

Then I saw what the bus driver got them.  HE GAVE EACH OF THEM AN AIR HORN.


You guys, what do you think my kids DID to the bus driver this year, exactly?  And why is he punishing ME for it?  I am guessing he holds me responsible in some way.  I swear, I knew nothing of any misbehavior on the bus this year.  If they did something to tick him off, he could have just talked to me about it and I would have nipped it in the bud.  That’s the kind of parent I am.  I am a bud-nipper.

But no.  Instead, he bided his time.  Waiting.  For just the right moment.  For the first day of summer vacation, when they were returned fully to our care for two whole months.  When he KNEW there was no way they could bring those devil’s instruments on the bus.  He’s no fool.

On the bright side, they have learned a few musical tunes.  See “Jaws on the air horn” below.

Contractors are like bad boyfriends

We are doing a little (OK, not so little!) exterior renovation project on our house right now.  The house was built in the mid-1980’s, and though I’m sure the color “fecal brown” was all the rage at that time, I’m over it.  Since we moved in 6+ years ago, I have been wanting to give the exterior of our home a face-lift.  Unfortunately I have neither the savvy nor the budget of Joanna Gaines, so we’re just hoping that we can make our vision a reality.

This is the “before” shot. Hoping to have an “after” sometime this century.


We all know the old adage about renovating:  it will always cost more money and take more time than you think it will, which I can attest is true based on my own personal experience over the years of home ownership.

But here’s the thing about renovating that HGTV will never tell you:  Contractors are like bad boyfriends.  Trust me on this.  I’ve had some bad boyfriends in my day, SO I KNOW.  You call this contractor up for the first time for an estimate (which I think might be the contactor equivalent of a booty call), and they show right up at your door the next day.  They seem interested in you and they give you a professional estimate for a reasonable price.  You commit.  Then–NOTHING.  Crickets.  All communication becomes one-way.  You try calling, it goes to voicemail.  You email, sometimes to more than one address because you’re creepy like that.  No response.  You try texting, but you keep it light, you know?  Because you’re so breezy and easy to get along with.  You’re definitely not the type of girl to sit around your house waiting for your stone mason to text you back.

 

Why won’t you get back to me?  Am I trying too hard?  Not hard enough?  If you get back to me I will stop texting you, promise.

Don’t tell me that I just need a better contractor, or a different contractor, or that I should call this guy you know who is your husband’s brother and he’s so awesome and professional so he would never do that to me.  IT’S ALL LIES.  I have employed a least a few dozen contactors over the past 15 years and they have all done it to me at some point.  Sooner or later they ghost, and I find myself in the same old predicament–on my phone in the kitchen, stalking this dude who won’t call me back .  Hello, high school memories!

Inevitably, the contractor always seems to turn up a few weeks later, right around the time I am giving up all hope for our working relationship.  He is always full of apologies and excuses, just like those bad boyfriends.  And I am faced with a choice–do I smile, accept the apology, and move on toward a future in which my house is no longer the color of feces with 1970’s brick?  Or do I start over with someone else who could be just as bad or worse?  That’s the question.  That is always the question.

I would like to thank all of the bad boyfriends from my past who unknowingly but effectively prepared me for the rejection, frustration, and abandonment involved with home improvement.