What turns on your lights

The Husband planned an elaborate belated birthday date for me, which was supposed to take place today. We were going to ride the train to Chicago, have dinner at Giordano’s, and finish out the evening with a walk through Millennium Park. It was going to be great. We were going to laugh and enjoy each other’s company, walking hand-in-hand through the park. I was going to lay my head on his shoulder and fall asleep on the train ride home. A fellow passenger, probably a sweet elderly lady, was going to smile and ask if we were newlyweds. We were going to giggle and say, “It sure feels like it, but no. We’ve been married five years!” Like I said, it was going to be great. It was way out of character for The Husband to plan something so thoughtful. I should have made a big deal about it, went on the date, did the hand-holding and snuggling and giggling, but….I started thinking about all of the other things we could do with the money….and that’s how I ended up lightbulb shopping for my birthday date. Read on.

Last night:

Me: So I’m really excited about tomorrow. And I really want to do it. Seriously. And it’s totally up to you, but should we consider spending that money on some lumber to start framing the basement? Like either way is fine with me. Both would be fun. But I am really anxious to get started on the basement….
The Husband: 😐

Now some of you may be feeling bad for him right now. He planned this fantastic date and I’m just kind of politely declining, but you should know that the reason he wants to do the date instead of buy lumber is not because he wants to have a romantic evening with me. It’s because we’ve done enough home improvement projects together for him to know that taking me on an expensive date is one of the billion things he would rather do than start another project. Right next to hack off his own leg with a dull knife, sleep on a bed of scorpions…

When we do a home improvement project, I believe we’re like Carl and Ellie from the movie, Up, lovingly fixing up our dream house, writing our names in a heart on the mailbox. In his head, it’s probably something more like a scene from Roots:

The Husband: *sweating, dirty, breathing heavily, grabs a glass of ice water and collapses in the chair while reaching for the remote*
Me: Oh, you already got it all done?
The Husband makes up some obscure tool that he needs so that I can’t force him back to work: I need a fligeradoo before I can do anything else.
Me: Well can’t you do another step until we get the fligeradoo? Like start hanging the drywall?
The Husband: No. I can’t hang the drywall before the studs are up to hang it on. Unless you want me to hang it on air.
Me: Fine. Just watch TV then, I guess.

I’m awful, I know. Anyway, we went back and forth on whether or not to go through with Chicago date night, but because he loves me:


Soon enough, we’ll have the extra bedroom done and I can stop listening to the boys complain about sharing a room, I thought. Chicago would have been great, but this will be really great.

The Husband had made a shockingly long list of light bulbs we needed (27 bulbs to be exact) and we decided to grab those first. An hour and a half and nearly $100 later, we left Lowe’s with nothing more than 27 light bulbs and a new broom. Who knew that so many light bulbs would be so ridiculously expensive!? And how in the world did we need 27 light bulbs!? Had I just gone along with the original plan, we would have been leisurely strolling through the park right now. Instead, we’re at home changing light bulbs while all three kids scream their fool heads off. Sometimes I’m disgusted by my own practicality. But the good news is that the security lights that I didn’t even know we had are now functional. Happy birthday to me.

I can’t complain because it’s my own fault, and I must add that he did insist that we at least eat at Cracker Barrel, where he talked me into buying a few swan trinkets that he knew I wanted, but was too cheap to buy without the extra encouragement.

So thanks for planning a fantastic birthday date AND for actually taking me on a mediocre one, dear. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

Forever young

So I hit a milestone birthday today – 30. I think I’m on target for a thirty-year-old: married, three kids, stable job, nice house. I grocery shop regularly, match socks, and drink Chardonnay (also regularly), just like a real mom, but so far I hate thirty. Here is why:

Every other year, on my birthday, I think about all of the big things that will happen to me that year: my wedding, a baby, college, a new job, a new house… If something big like that happens this year, it is probably the result of a mid-life crisis. All of my big excitement is over and now all I have to look forward to is the secondhand excitement of my kids. When they start actually doing things like getting married and making grandkids, that will be exciting, but right now we’re at potty-training and multiplication tables. Not very thrilling.

So I’m sitting here, thinking about how depressing thirty is, when I have an idea: Wait a minute! This is easily fixed. I just need to have another baby! 

The Husband: No.

No discussion or explanation. Just “no.”

Responsible Me: Umm, yeah, he’s right. I’m pretty sure that the cost of delivery, another five years of childcare, formula, diapers, stronger anxiety meds…would be enough to cause you to end up homeless and/or divorced. Then you get a new baby, a new (dilapidated rental) house, and maybe a new husband (if you make a quick turnaround) this year. Cue that midlife crisis you mentioned above.

Several people have told me that the thirties are the best, but I find that hard to believe:

  • I’m too old to pull off a messy bun without actually looking like I just forgot that I have hair altogether. It’s not the hair so much as it’s the combination of the forgotten hair with the eyebrows that I forgot needed waxed, the nails that I forgot needed trimmed…I have three freaking kids, okay? I consider myself lucky if they all make it out of the house fully clothed and free of hazardous debris like feces. My personal grooming takes a backseat. It’s fine, I can’t pull my hair up anyway because the sides are a nice shade of Dorothy Zbornak gray.
  • I have to practice bad habits, like tanning and drinking energy drinks, in secret. Thirty-year-olds worry about skin health and they drink black coffee, or some type of vitamin concoction, or perhaps some type of direct sales fad system like Thrive or It Works. Maybe that is why thirty-year-olds are so tired. Stick with what works, people. Come back to the Monsters. Anything that comes in a metallic black can and contains a million times the caffeine of a can of pop is going to be the right choice to give you energy.
  • My main objective in life is my futile effort to keep the house clean. Not pursuing higher education or a career aspiration. Not finding my soul mate or dream house. My long-term goal right now is simply to be able to pee without first having to check the seat for dribbles. I’m most proud of myself when guests ask if they need to remove their shoes in my house. The answer is no, but the fact that I somehow got the house to a state where it appears that they should ask makes me happy. This has only actually happened once.
  • The Husband is getting old too. He’s tired and hairy and the sexiest thing you’ll hear during an encounter between us is “Put your glasses on.”

Thirty has all of the worst parts of being old without any of the benefits, like Medicare and a mortgage-free home.

So, for all of these reasons and many more, you don’t impress me so far, Thirty, but it’s only been one day. You have 9 years and 3 months to change my mind. If I still feel old, sad, and bored by then – baby it is.

Oh what a birthday surprise

Two years ago at this time I was just hanging out, being pregnant. I wasn’t due for a couple more weeks so I had no clue that I was actually in my last few hours as a mother of two. Had I known this, I might have used those hours a little differently – catching up laundry, sleeping, finishing the crocheted dress that she was supposed to wear on her birthday. I had no idea that I would be in labor in just a few hours and, judging by the length of my labor with Colt, I certainly had no idea that The Girl would be in my arms before morning.

All moms treasure that photo that was snapped in the delivery room the very first moment their baby was placed in their arms. They are at their worst in that photo: no makeup, exhausted, sweaty, disheveled, and sporting a huge floppy hospital gown that, despite the fact that the inspiration for its design seems to have been a circus tent, still does very little to hide the fact that the poor woman’s body is now the thing that nightmares are made of. Every mom looks terrible in that photo, but it’s still her favorite photo of herself. They all have that same look of complete, unadulterated joy and love as they stare into their precious new baby’s unfocused, beady little eyes.

Well guess what? I didn’t get that photo with The Girl. No, ma’am. I got this one:


You can tell exactly what I was thinking from looking at this photo: Well, crap, I guess we’re starting this already. I completely blame her early and quick arrival for ruining our first mother/daughter photo.

As you can see, I did finish the dress. Once I realized she was on the way, I panicked and got right to work, still figuring I had another 20 hours of labor to finish it. I actually had to stop crocheting in the middle of a contraction and hand it to my mom to attach the bows and buttons.

Anyway, she came when she felt like it, she wore the dress, she got her picture taken with her mom, and even though none of it went according to my plan, it all worked out and this girl has given me joy every single one of the 730 days since. Happy birthday, Punky.