Thursday, March 25, 2010

Paging Dr. Luke

Unlike his father, my 8-year-old son, Luke, has never expressed interest in the medical profession. He actually hopes to be a pilot in the Air Force someday.

But over spring break, Luke performed his first operation, leading me to wonder what, exactly, the future holds for my boy.

"Mom," he told me Monday morning, "I'm going to do an operation today."

"Wow," I said as I helped him make his bed, "What kind?"

He held up his recently-acquired blue duck. While at his end-of-the-season basketball party at the local pizza joint, Luke won (and I use that word loosely) a stuffed animal from the claw-grabber game in the arcade. A blue duck:

Obviously winning a toy meant for a 3-year-old girl in front of a flock third grade boys does not do much for an ego. And Luke aimed to remedy the situation as easily as possible while still maintaining his prize.

"I'm turning the duck into a boy," Luke declared.

My boy was about to perform our home's first sex-change operation using nothing but a pair of fingernail scissors.

"I'm going to name him Todd when I'm done," he added.

Not wanting to break his confidence, I offered to assist. He took me up on it, and within minutes Todd was a new man - er - duck:

This little procedure beat out trekking to Oklahoma in a the snow to watch the Jayhawks go down in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tourney as the most unexpected thing to occur over spring break. And certainly far less painful.

(Patient is recovering well and is fully-integrated as a male duck with Luke's menagerie of animals that occupy space on his closet floor.]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Poop in the Night

The following was first published in the Lawrence paper and ended up being the #1 emailed article from the paper for the week. (We are a disgusting group of people.) Somehow, that still did not make up for the incident....

Like the minutemen of old, parents are conditioned to react to noise in the night. Whether stirred by a hungry newborn’s midnight cry or a child standing over our pillows uttering the words, “my tummy hurts” (nothing propels me out of bed faster than the threat of being spontaneously covered in rotavirus), we are always ready to respond when we hear a call for help.

Rarely, however, is it the sense of smell that stirs us to action, which was one of the many thoughts that crossed my mind when an unpleasant aroma filled my nasal passage, waking me in the dark of night.

At first I assumed the odor had escaped from my dear, though often flatulent, husband, though I quickly realized as I came to consciousness the smell was not human, but animal.

Assuming our dog had let a gas bomb fly in the night, I waved the bedspread up and down to air out the room.

Like a tsunami, the stench rolled mercilessly from its unknown source directly to me, swallowing my head, flooding my nose and throat, and rendering me unable to breathe.

This was no ordinary dog fart.

Just like days of late-night potty runs with our toddlers, this animal had business to tend to, and it was going to be up to me to escort him.

I slowly removed the covers and tumbled stealthily out of bed, so as not to wake my husband, who, by the way, was the only one out of the two of us in favor of owning a dog in the first place.

Quietly, carefully, and completely barefoot, I crossed our dark bedroom to take the dog (I had not wanted) outside (in the cold) to finish the job he had started (at 4:30 in the morning).

I had just rounded the corner of our bed when I my right foot settled deep into what felt like a heaping serving of warm mashed potatoes, yet smelled like canine colon.

“CRAP!” I yelled, paralyzed in the mother of all fecal landmines.

In one seamless movement, my husband shot up in bed, turning on his bedside light, something I wished he had done about three minutes earlier.

“What happened?!?” he cried before choking on the stench.

I surveyed the floor in the light. Piles-o-poo were strewn about the carpet like a toxic constellation. Our furriest child was ill, and I was ankle-deep in it.

Two 32-ounce cups, one heavy-duty trash bag and forty-five minutes of scrubbing later, the carpet and I were clean, but the scars remain. For there are things that cannot be unseen and, apparently, things that cannot be un-smelled, and this one, I am afraid, has been forever burned in my memory no matter what we do to erase it.

Although if you happen to run into my man or his best friend, please let them know a night at a nice (no-pets-allowed) hotel (with room service and a whirlpool) would be worth a try.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Name is Jules, and I am a Cookie-holic

I should have listened to Boomer Girl.

Remember back in November when she warned us the Girl Scouts were making their way around town, suckering people into purchasing what she called “legal heroin” with their cute, semi-toothless smiles?

Rather than heed her warning and avoid eye contact with the brown-sashed cookie pushers, I ordered four boxes from one. And four more from my niece.

What can I say? I got hooked on them long ago, when a neighborhood girl came by selling cookies. And, boy, did she hit the jackpot, I was eight months pregnant and ripe for the sale. Six weeks later the girl showed up with a truckload of Thin Mints that I, in my pregnant state, had apparently ordered. I looked at them in horror as I stood in the doorway holding my new baby girl in my arms – and about 20 extra pounds around my middle.

No longer sporting the metabolism of a breastfeeding twentysomething, I placed my order this time around with the belief that eight boxes (and a pair of Spanx) would hold me until next winter. Unfortunately I failed to consider the autonomy of my four cookie-hungry children, and all eight boxes vanished before I could sink my teeth into any of them.

Feeling empty inside, I shared this sad tale with my bunko group. The hostess announced that she, being the Cookie Keeper for her daughter’s troop, had in her possession a stash of leftover cookies for sale, and I returned home six boxes happier.

They lasted through the weekend, and not one of them landed on my lips. My kids had become cookie Ninjas.

Just when I had resigned myself to a long and cookieless winter, I overheard a mom at school discussing her troop’s plans to sell cookies at the grocery store that afternoon.

I casually sidled up next to her and muttered, “Caramel deLites?” under my breath like a junkie.

“Two cases,” she replied, “Should I hold them?”

Scanning the room, I whispered, “Three boxes, I’ll be there at 4:00.”

I arrived at 4:15 (so as not to appear desperate) and secured ten assorted boxes of cookies. The girls manning the table watched in awe as I walked out with 5% of their inventory, which I should have taken straight to my closet for personal emergency use. But that is something only an addict would do. Instead, I left them out in the open, unprotected.

Big mistake.

Five days later, I pulled the plastic tray out of the last box of Caramel deLites to find it empty, leaving me $84 down (don’t tell my husband) and destitute.

Alone and weeping over a barren purple box in the kitchen, I realized my cookie obsession had spiraled out of control.

And now, after some serious soul-searching, I am ready to admit I am powerless. However, I am not sure if I am powerless over the cookies themselves, or my family, who will not let me have one.