The Importance of Wow

May 31 2011

Puff pastry is a miracle food.

I’ve fantasized for years about making an entire meal, from appetizers to dessert, using puff pastry as the essential ingredient in every course.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
Beef Wellington
Arugula & Candied Pecan Salad with Parmesan Cheese Pastry Twists
Puff Pastry Napoleons layered with jam and cream

 

Mmmm.  Puff pastry.  It goes well with everything.

Well, WOW is the puff pastry of words.  And what I love about it is this… it can be Good Wow or it can be Bad Wow, and only the Speaker of the Wow knows which.

You can build an entire verbal menu full of Wow.

Sad?  Say, “Wow.”
Shocked?  Say, “Wow.”
Ecstatic?  Say, “Wow.”
Dismayed?  Say, “Wow.”

 

I learned the importance of Wow many years ago when I started to watch NFL football on TV.

I wanted to bond with my husband.  To like what he likes.  To not rush the TV in slow motion every Sunday afternoon yelling, “Nooooooooo!”

Oh, I was a passing acquaintance of football.  We nodded to each other at the grocery store.  But I faked a real in-depth understanding of the game for years and years.

I explained to Greg my main football confusion.

See, football is kind of like pinochle and the church.  It has its own complex language, complicated rules and strange nuances, and, if you’re not in the “in” crowd – if you weren’t raised with football from a young age – then you have no IDEA what the heck is going on.  Or where to start.  Or what you’re going to say that’s dumb.

Is this the part of the game when we stand up?  Sit down?  Chant?  Fold?  Run?  Yell? As my two-year-old niece says, “I just no KNOW!”

Fortunately, in football, pinochle and the church, you just have to find yourself an evangelist.  Someone who’s willing to let you in on all the jargon and convince you of the inherent beauty, order, and love you’ll find therein.

When I began my football conversion, Greg was my evangelist.  And he was very zealous.  Greg pretty much tied me to a rock and pushed me into the football deep end.

It wasn’t his fault, really.  Greg just thinks that everyone wants to drown in an enormous, bubbling vat of knowledge.

See, Greg’s intellectual pool only has a deep end, so gently dangling toes to test the water before wading ankle-deep isn’t him.  Which I mostly blame on the fact that he doesn’t drink beer.  Giant vats of knowledge come from not killing brain cells.

I, on the other hand, like to bask in a plastic, blow-up kiddie pool of knowledge.

So when Greg pulled out his Football Bible and started telling me about downs, wide receivers, punting, and tight ends, I felt a touch bewildered.  But it’s OK.  No need to worry about me.  I knew how to compensate just fine.  I just started telling Greg about matte lipstick, underwire, pantyliners with wings, and why short women over 30 years old shouldn’t wear drop-waist anything.  And then he looked at me like I was lookin’ at him.  Confused.

At that point, my brother, who was there to hear the whole thing (sorry, Jeffy), intervened.  Which was fantastic, because Jeff has a shallow end.  He popped his beer top and sat down in the kiddie pool with me.

And that’s where Jeff taught me my first Football Watching Survival Skill.

The Importance of Wow; the world’s most amazing all-purpose word.

Wow is good.  And Wow is bad.  And there’s simply no football situation that can’t take a little Wow.

It’s like this:

  • a guy fumbles the football (go with me on this – you don’t have to know what fumble means, although if you’ve ever given a toddler a lidless glass of red juice on white carpet, I bet you already know)…
  • and the room explodes into high volume chaos…
  • and you can’t tell whether the shouts are good or bad — whether they wanted the guy to fumble or not…
  • and you have NO IDEA what to do…

Enter the Wow.

You just yell right along with ’em, “WOW!  Wow, wow, wow!”

And you suddenly look like you know your game.

Or:

  • a guy makes a touchdown…
  • but you don’t know whether it’s your team or the other team that just scored…
  • the room erupts into shouts…
  • and you have NO IDEA what to do…

It’s time for the Wow.  “WOW!  Wow, wow, wow!”

Pretty cool, huh?

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Wow isn’t all rainbows and kittens.  It’s so good in so very many situations that you might be tempted to overuse it.

For example:

  • a tight end runs across the screen…
  • and you yell, “WOW! Wow, wow, wow!”…
  • and not a single other person is makin’ a peep….
  • and, instead of staring at that tight end, they seem to be staring at you…
  • except your husband who is shaking his head in public endorsement of your shame (but who is also surreptitiously gesturing to his own fine tush)…

Well, you might’ve fumbled the Wow.  You might’ve overindulged the Wow.  You might have the teensiest, tiniest stomach ache from partaking of the Wow menu.

But it’s hard to be sorry when the Wow is Just. So. Delicious.

Here I am, more than a decade later, with a lot of Wows – in football and in life – under my belt.  Sure; there’ve been a few fumbles along the way.  But I’ll have you know, my football conversion is complete.

I love football.  I love the competition.  I love the jargon.  I love the nuance.  I love the noise.

I love telling my kids that Mommy and Daddy are hogging the TV all Sunday afternoon, and they should go play outside if they don’t want to rot their brains.

In fact, I even won my fantasy football league a few years back.  Of course, that was before my league had a trophy, so I didn’t get all the recognition that accomplishment deserved.  But I’m not bitter.  (Read: So. Bitter.)

My acceptance speech, if I’d had the chance to give one upon receipt of the trophy I didn’t get, would have been dedicated to the Power of Wow.

For the Wow is how it all began.

…….

Stay tuned tomorrow for a very brief lesson in applying the Wow to the raising of children.

Not It

May 30 2011

It was a gorgeous day for seeing the city from the top of the sky tram.

A perfect day for photos.

And a good time for the realization, come viewing all the pictures later, that there may be a reason this woman’s boys end up with stitches.

What kind of mama lets her boys climb rails?

What kind of mama lets her boy hang upside down from art sculptures?

What kind of mama props the other twin up and tells ’em to hang on tight while she gets just one more shot?

What kind of mama applauds when her child gracefully succeeds at the ancient art of pole dancing?

Good grief.

Someone should really have a word with that woman.

Not it.

 

Schmornings

May 26 2011

Some people say I’m not a morning person.

I think that’s mean.

For example, my father says I’m not a morning person.

When I was a well-behaved, polite, considerate and thoughtful teenager living under my parents’ roof, my dad used to wake me in the morning.  He might say he drew the short stick, but I say that’s a gross misrepresentation of my joyful morning personality.

Also, my father used beat me.  Sure, it wasn’t with a belt or his fist or anything, but, really, being mentally tortured in the morning with a bouncy, happy, stuffed bear that romped over my covers is its own kind of grisly horror show.  Add to that the fact that my hardened Marine father used a wittle, cutesy, baby bear voice to say, “Wise and shine, Bethy Wethy.  It’s wake up time!”  And you can see where morning may be something of a difficult subject for me.

I think the first time my father heard me swear was in the morning at a bear.  But that’s neither here nor there.

My daughter says I’m not a morning person.  She believes that I’m incapable of speech before 7:30am.  Which is definitely not true.  I speak in full sentences in the morning.  Like “Wha?” And “Uh.” And “Hmm ah.”  It’s like learning a second language at home, which I believe is an invaluable and lifelong tool.  You’re welcome, kids.

And also, Greg says I’m not a morning person.

Geez.

I believe Greg’s exact quote was: “Whoever said ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask’ obviously hasn’t tried to talk to you in the morning.”  Which is a totally bizarre thing to say, since I’m pretty sure all I did was ask him politely to stop talking to me, go far, far away, and leave me alone to more thoroughly enjoy my drool puddle.  On pain of death.

Do you ever have those moments when everyone believes one thing and you believe another and you start to question your convictions?  Here’s some advice for moments like that: Shut. It. Down.

Sincerely,

The Fairy Princess of The Morning

P.S. This is the only child o’ mine who understands.

Thank you, baby.

How To Be A Good Example

May 25 2011

My husband kicked a hole in the wall.  He morphed into the incredible hulk, ripped his t-shirt to threads, and just kicked the insulation right out of it.

The gutteral shouts of “Ggrrraaaahhhrgggg!” could be heard for miles.  It was an epic, wall-breaking moment.

FYI, it’s probably best if you don’t believe me.  Partly because I make stuff up.  Partly because Greg, while incredible, isn’t hulkish and never kicks stuff.  And partly because the hole is the size of a kiwi fruit.

Even more embarrassing for Greg than having the bloggy world think he’s a wall-kicker would be letting you think he has kiwi-sized feet.  Poor guy.

The truth is, we had a baby gate in this particular hallway spot for about three years.  And the gate weakened the wall.  And my husband took out the gate.  By tripping over it so that it busted through the wall.

I’m sure Greg’s super happy that I just mentioned his tripping-over-a-baby-gate episode to y’all.  So excuse me for a second while I talk to just him.  Remember how I cleared you of that horrible kiwi-sized feet rumor, Babe?  That’s ’cause I love you.  Keep that in mind.

Anyway, that was about six months ago now.  So that hole’s getting a little old.

But that’s OK, because it was also about six months ago that I busted the “bake” button on our oven.  You know the button that sets the temperature and allows you to actually use the oven?  Yeah.  That button.  I was just very enthusiastic one day about baking, so I guess I got a little over-zealous with the button-pushing.  Never fear, though.  The ice pick is working just fine for jamming in the missing-button hole and forcing the oven to start, so that’s not getting old at all.

Just didn’t want you to think that every broken thing bugs the heck out of me.

Because it doesn’t.

Like how the Tab key is stuck on this computer I’m using.  Doesn’t bother me a bit.  I can let that go right this     Tab     Tab     Tab     Tab     second.

You know what does bother me, though?

Two things.

Thing #1: THAT HOLE

It mocks me.  (Filthy baseboards are clearly not a problem, however.  Chalk another one up in the “Doesn’t Bug Me” column.  Yay!)

Thing #2: Girls who wait around to be rescued by wall-fixing men.  Seriously, Me.  Rescue thyself.  If the wall bugs you, fix it.  Don’t be a helpless damsel.  It’s SO very unattractive.  Easier.  But still unattractive.

And I thought… Gosh!  What kind of an example do I want to be to my kids about who women are?  About our capabilities?  About being go-getters?  About gettin’ stuff done?

I knew there was only one answer.

So I took matters into my own hands.

And I fixed that hole.

Yes, I did.

The kids were fascinated.

Geez, guys.  It’s like you’ve never seen Mommy fix anything.

The dog was fascinated.

Actually, he wasn’t fascinated.  He just wanted to take advantage of my floor-sitting position to crawl into my lap.  So I had to hold him still with my foot for a photo first.  Then he crawled in my lap.  That made fixing the wall extra easy.  He’s such a big helper.

But, even with all the help, I persisted.

And here it is.  My FIXED WALL!  Yee to the haw!

The final product:

Yep.  That took me a Sharpie marker, ten minutes, and a LOT of times saying, “I know we’re not supposed to draw on walls, but do what I say and not what I do.  K, kids?” Which I can tell is going to work out really, really well in the days to come.

See?

There’s a nonmischievous kid right there who’s TOTALLY gonna listen to his mama and keep the walls around here marker-free.

I can feel it in my bones.

It feels good – really good – setting the right kind of example for my kids.

 

I’m calloused.

May 24 2011

I went running today.

3.7 miles

Now, 3.7 miles is a LOT farther than running to my mail box.  Which I used to couldn’t do.  (Go with me on that grammar thing; it was kinda fun for me.)

But 3.7 is clearly not as far as I need to run for the half-marathon my nutsoid sister-in-law convinced me to do this Fall.

Pneumonia put a serious crimp in the training plan.  The illness I thought would require three weeks for recovery took ten weeks total.  So, oh, pretty much February through April.

I ran during weeks 8, 9 and 10 of the recovery.  Which was probably dumb.  But, honestly, pneumonia is a poophead and deserved to have its green-phlegm-laced spit spanked with a running shoe.

I tried to be disappointed in myself for the delay, but life with one million children has taught me that our best laid plans are exactly where it’s all going to fall apart.

So here’s what I really think about it:

Whatevah.

Really, I have until October.  And I have a revised plan.  It’ll have to do.

I’m spending more brain power these days on blisters, callouses, wrinkles and scars.

I have them.

From my face to my feet and in between.

And here’s what I really think about them:

Whatevah.

It’s been years now since I’ve had a pedicure.

I mean a more formal pedicure than sitting on my grimy bathroom floor, slapping on toe-nail polish and hoping my 4-year-old boys don’t catch me.

‘Cause if they catch me, then they’ll want some, too.  And we do NOT allow boys to wear nail polish around here.

HA!  Just kidding.

We totally do.

In fact, I’m sad that my 11-year-old boy is too cool for his sisters to polish his nails anymore.

But, really, if my little boys catch me at nail polish time, which is inevitably an “Oh, CRAP, I’m wearing open-toed shoes to work, and I have GOT to paint these suckers” moment, I’ll have to explain that I don’t have time right now, because I’ll be late for work.  I’ll also have to explain that they should ask their 12-year-old sister, ’cause she’s WAY better at it.

None of which will work, because they’ll want their nails painted NOW.  And I’ll wonder when I got so unfun that I won’t paint my little boys’ toes.  So I’ll be late for work because I’m painting their nails.  And I’ll get to work and find that I wasn’t as careful as I tried to be, so I have nailpolish (or boogers or yogurt or a hairball from my gross bathroom floor) on my work pants.  And…

Well, you get the idea.

I haven’t had a real pedicure in years.

The relaxing kind.

With someone massaging my calves and making me wonder if I shaved well enough to not be embarrassed.

With a wall of nail colors that makes me feel inferior because I’m always certain that I’m going to painfully reveal my terrible fashion sense as soon as I choose Cantankerous Cantaloupe over Grovin’ Guava.

With parafin wax that softens my feet so they slip and slide in those thin, foam flip-flops they give me because I never bring my own flip-flops because I’m always missing one of each pair because it’s been used as a baseball bat or a shovel in my backyard and I won’t find it ’til it’s unearthed in one of the dog’s deep-dig escape attempts.

Oh, screw it.  It’s just too hard to bring myself to pay real money for that kind of stress.

And besides, ever since I started running, I feel sad when they sand my callouses away.

I’m very attached to my callouses.

My callouses are good to me.

I worked hard – running with pneumonia hard – to earn them, and they keep me from blistering.

The very last thing I want to do is shave those suckers off and run on tender feet.  Because that HURTS, dang it!

I guess I’ve gotten to the part of life where I value my callouses more than I value good lookin’ feet.

Sandal Season, I’m very, very sorry you had to find out this way.

 

I’m being stalked by an evil plastic dinosaur.

May 23 2011

I’m being stalked.

And not just your run-of-the-mill stalking, either.

I’m being stalked by an evil plastic dinosaur.

Brace yourself, for this is what greeted me during my bath:

There I was.

Nekked as a jaybird and terrified.

The eyes.  The yellow, malicious eyes.

 

Now, you may be wondering why – oh, why – I had a camera handy in the bathtub with me.

Bwahahahaha!  I’ll never tell.

Tell us, Beth.

OK, you broke me.  I’ll tell.

(What can I say?  I wouldn’t do well under torture.)

I keep my phone (the smart one that has a camera) next to me in the bathtub in case there’s a kid emergency.  I am a mother of 5 children; I need to be available around the clock.

Isn’t that noble?

And, um, I also keep my phone next to me in case I need Greg to refill my wine glass.

Hey.  Emergencies come in all kinds of flavors, right?  Like Merlot flavor.  And Pinot Noir flavor.  And Sangiovese flavor.

‘Cause nothing’s worse than being wet and cold and trying to explain to the mob of neighborhood kids who run in and out of my house as though it’s a regular thoroughfare why I’m clutching a wine bottle in one hand and holding my towel closed with the other. That’s how neighborhood rumors get started.  Or how they persist.

Thank goodness for my phone, then, right?  It prevents all kinds of awkward situations.

But back to that evil dinosaur perched on the edge of the tub.

After I got over my initial terror, I pulled out my camera phone and started snapping.

I figured that if my family later found my lifeless body floating in the tub with tiny, plastic bite marks all over, they’d know what happened by looking at the photographic evidence.

Then I looked through the photos and had to retake the picture ’cause I realized that the metal overflow drain is reflective.  And the only thing worse than having your mother ruthlessly murdered by a possessed toy is having a permanent record of your less-than-clothed mum as seen through the fun-house mirror that is our overflow drain.

Best use of the “delete photo” button ever.

Then I finished my bath, attired myself appropriately, and went downstairs to play with eggs.

Eggs have recently become very important at our house.

“Duuuuude.  Eegggggs.”

Way back last week, we used to buy enormous quantities of eggs at our local discount grocery store.  Like, five dozen at a time.

But then, we got to play with our neighbors’ chickens in return for free, lovely, brown eggs with the most amazingly orange yolks.  And next, my dad sourced local duck eggs for us.

Thus began a week-long crush on the incredible, edible egg.  The egg bounty around here is inspiring and delicious.

Here they are, for your viewing pleasure:

Left to right: a local chicken egg, a grocery store chicken egg, and a duck egg.

A local chicken egg, a grocery store chicken egg, and a duck egg walked into a bar.  (Ouch.)  And the bartender said, “You shouldn’t do that. You’re getting scrambled.”

Hee hee.  I made that joke up all by myself.

Please accept my sincere apology.

And, also…

Why can’t you tease egg whites?

Because they can’t take a yolk.

Ba ha!

I didn’t make that one up.

But I’m still really sorry.

I have no good excuse.

Except that it’s probably a reaction to the terror-inducing, evil, plastic dinosaur.  I’ve always tended to respond to stress with inappropriate humor.

‘Cause guess who was waiting for me as soon as I finished making my duck-egg omelette?

YEP!

And since I didn’t put him there, I’m forced to conclude he walked his own evil dinosaur self downstairs.

The terror lives on.

It’s eggscrutiating.

Flying

May 22 2011

I long for each of my kids to break free.  To grasp with firm, confident hands all they’ve been working, stretching, and reaching toward.

But, I confess, sometimes my role in helping the little birds spread their wings makes me tired.

This month, dance plum wore me out.

I’m tired of competitions and conventions.

I’m tired of racing to fit classes and rehearsals into the already packed schedule.

I’m tired of tacking, and tying, and taping costumes.

I’m tired of early morning conversations about eyelash glue and whether I pull too much when I do her hair.

And I’m tired of being a whiner-pants about all those things.

So I wonder.

Is it too much?

Too much time?  Too much money?

Am I teaching my child to be active?  Or just way too busy?

But then comes that moment.

That break free moment.

That grasp-it moment.

When her hard work pays off, and my baby soars.

And for a while, I’m not tired, and I don’t wonder any more.

Because all I’m capable of doing is sitting there, stunned, remembering this same, timid child who was 6 years old just two minutes ago.

And I’m so grateful for her perseverance and her grace and the joy of being her mama.

And I whisper,

That’s it!  Fly.  Fly, beautiful baby.  Fly.

And so she does.

And, because of her, so do I.

Isn’t that the funny thing?  I sit and think of my hard work and exhaustion.  I think I’m doing it all to nudge them closer to flying.  But I’m wrong.

The truth is that my heart lives and breathes because of her.  Because of all five of them.

And they are the ones who teach me how to soar.