First, let’s get a few things out in the open, shall we?

1) I do not bullshit.

2) But I am sarcastic.

3) And honest to a fault.

4) The upside is it makes for hilarious blog posts and funny stories to share in essays.

5) The downside is that I tend to piss people off easily.

6) I also ignore you if I don’t like you. If I’m pointing at you and calling you a jackass, it means “I love you and please pass the pie.” If I call you an asshole, I’m probably confusing you for my husband and actually using our code phrase for “I really, really love you.”

Why do you need to know this? Because like any blogger worth their salt who fully discloses relationships with brands, I happen to be a writer with a blog who likes to think I’m totally worth my salt so I’m gonna be all Open and Honest and tell you Straight Up that I know Robin O’Bryant and I like (love, actually) her book. Which brings me to more clarification:

1) I know Robin like most of you know most of the people you actually like: I’ve never actually met her but I talk to her more often than most of the people I am related to and don’t actually like. Unless you are related to me and reading this. Because I totally am not referring to you.

2) Her book is called Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves and you can get it in paperback or order the buy the Kindle version on Amazon.

3) If you don’t think it’s funny, I’ve got some Prozac I can hand you. Because this stuff is made of funny.

4) Like the time her daughter surprised her with a poop-filled handshake? Or the way that Robin can totally write Toddler-ese in a way unique to her that somehow jumps off the page and you can totally hear it in your head and it just sounds Adorable because she’s just that good? Or the having to set your foot down and tell The Mother and The Husband that they cannot see you naked at the SAME TIME because that violates code 19, subsection B of the Time and Space Continuum? Yeah…been there.

5) I feel it’s important here to point out that I don’t have a lot of Mommy friends because I have this little issue with not wanting to waste precious time pretending I like people and things that really don’t interest me.

6) That includes books.

7) And no offense to Robin, but I wouldn’t be Pimpin’ her out if I didn’t love and laugh and relate my way through Ketchup just because I like her and her blog.

So what’s the story?

1) Robin had 3 daughters in 4 years.

2) I know.….

3) And she lived to write the tale.

4) In Erma Bombeck-like essay format so it’s relatively easy to hide in the bathroom with food poisoning as your cover story so you can chug through one chapter before confusing the hell out of your husband and kids as you exit the bathroom wiping tears from your eyes and laughing.

5) It doesn’t matter if you only have boys. I dare you to read Ketchup anyway and promise to buy you a purple and pink pony if you aren’t shocked grateful that your kids are your kids and her kids are hers by the time you finish reading.

6) So grab a glass of Mommy Juice, kick up your feet after the kids are in bed, see yourself (and your kids) in Robin’s book, and when you’re done, sneak into your kids’ rooms and gently kiss them on the cheek, grateful in every way for the opportunity to be called Mama.

7) And the post title? That, of course, refers to the best ever PR campaign to sell a new book. I’m still beyond impressed Robin was able to convince Congress to go along with her plan.

***

Oh and Robin? Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the thank you.

Also? I expect to see y’all back here on Friday for my interview with Robin and a chance for a signed copy of Ketchup!

HOLLA!

 

 

You know that really embarrassing family story about the time the kids did that one thing in public at that one place and you were all like OMG that’s only okay to tell after five too many wine coolers with the girlfriends while the little angels terrorize Daddy because it’s your night off? Or that time you dressed up like an Italian sausage at Target while your kids picked out string bikinis for you to try on?

Yeah? Well, my friend just one-upped America with a book she wrote full of little gems like these that she wrote… while she was sober.

I know.

Okay, so the actual title is Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves and the mom behind the book is named Robin O’Bryant. I’ll let the following excerpt speak for itself…but make sure to some back Wednesday and Friday for my review and an author interview (including a giveaway for a signed copy of Robin’s book!)

***

After giving birth to Sadie, my third daughter in four years, I was perfectly happy to be fat for a few months while I finished breastfeeding, until I got a card in the mail from my little brother’s fiancee. I called my sister Blair immediately and said, “Did you get a card in the mail from Anna?”

She could tell by the tone of my voice I was panicking so she said, “OH NO! They didn’t break up did they?”

“Oh no, it’s so much worse than that…”
“Aw crap, did she ask us to be in the wedding?”
“Yep.”
I was flattered she asked me but I was horrified. I could wear a sarong at the pool all summer, but would probably look suspicious walking down the aisle that way. I reluctantly started going back to the gym and Blair started doing Weight Watchers. My feelings about exercising when breastfeeding are about the same as they are when pregnant: It’s pointless.

When I’m pregnant I’m going to gain weight no matter what. When nursing, my body fights to hold on to fat like I’m going to be hibernating. For example… my sister lost nine pounds in two weeks on Weight Watchers; I on the other hand gained a pound and a half going to the gym for a week. (Please save the muscle-weighs-more-than-fat tirade for someone else. When I exercise while breastfeeding I am ravenous and will eat anything in sight. I end up consuming more calories than I burn.)

As summer quickly approached I finally had to break down and buy a bathing suit. No amount of tugging and/or lubricant could coax my post-baby body into one of the million suits I already owned. There was no way my baby’s meal tickets were going to be squeezed into anything I already had.

I went to Target (also known to Mommies across the country as their “happy place”), and bought a “Big Girra Bathing Suit.”

“Mommy, how ‘bout this one? It is SO cute!” Aubrey said as she picked up a hot pink string bikini.

I looked critically at the bathing suit she was holding, and quickly deduced that the triangle top probably wouldn’t even cover my zipple.

“No baby. I don’t want the other mommies at the pool to have nightmares.”

We continued back to the “Women’s Sizes” and I flattered myself with the first size I chose and forced it on to my body, Lycra snapped and crackled as I pulled, stretched and sucked it in. After seeing my reflection closely resembled an Italian sausage I’d eaten once, I was forced to get a larger size.

This should have meant that I took off the suit and put my clothes back on to go get another one. But If you’re shopping for clothes somewhere you can also buy an ICEE or a foot- long hot dog, you need to realize that no one is going to come knock softly on your door to see if you need another size. I’m lazy though, so I put on the swimsuit cover-up I was trying on and walked to get another size, dressed for the pool. I’m not going to tell you what size I ended up in, though I will say it had a “W” behind the numberS. (Plural. As in there was more than one.) I called my sister while I was checking out and she texted back, “I’m in WW’s (Weight Watcher’s) can’t talk, ttyl :)”

I texted her back, “How many pts are a Butterfinger & a Coke cuz that’s what I’m eating rite now?” Maybe I can convince Anna that all of the bridesmaids should be in sarongs.

 

 

 

Mom and Dad at my wedding in 2002. He wasn’t excactly big on pictures.

 

I’ve been wondering for weeks now if I’m supposed to acknowledge today and it’s significance or pretend it’s just a day like any other.

The first option sucks in that I’ve Really Got to Get to the Dentist to Get this Cavity Filled kind of way (immediate pain lessened by the relief of finally getting beyond the initial hump of resistance) and the second just seems wrong.

But I don’t know how to say differently what has been said before. So I’m just going to use the same words.

It might be a different day and a different year, but no matter how far forward time takes me, a piece of me is still standing in that hospital room crying because I want my dad back.

***

I make sad things funny. It’s a coping mechanism, I am sure. But it’s also an engrained part of my culture.
Sometimes, though, sad things make themselves funny. Like when my aunt told my father to look into the light.
As he lay on his death bed.
She didn’t mean it that way. But English isn’t her first language. So while my sisters and I were fighting tears and laughter for two separate reasons, my father’s sisters were rallying my him to stay with us as they rubbed his hands and patted his feet and reminded my father of all the reasons he needed to focus on living.
He was 50 and had gone into the hospital to have heart valve replacement surgery (the original surgery a result of rheumatic fever he suffered as a child). Being the cocky stereotype he was, it hadn’t really entered his mind that he might not come home. And because we all believed him to be the strongest man in the world, we had only focused on making fun of him while he recovered.
But problems arose after the surgery. And after a few close calls, the doctors finally told me and my mother to call everyone to the hospital. He wouldn’t make it more than a few hours.
There were only a few people to call. If you break your toe in my family, we are required to turn the waiting room into an ethnic stereotype. Every tia, tio, prima, and primo within driving distance is called to appear at the hospital, waiting for the afflicted to emerge, triumphant and cured. I am sure the hospital staff groans when we all arrive; a Spanglish three ring circus. Even as the doctor quietly urged us to notify friends and family, he looked around at the standing room only crowd already present.
Five daughters.
Two son-in-laws.
One Godson.
One grandfather.
Two brother-in-laws.
Three of four sisters.
One Niece.
One (or was it two?) long time friends.
One uncle who had flown in from Texas.
One aunt who had delayed her trip back to Mexico.
One wife of thirty years…who just happened to be celebrating her 49th birthday that very day on November 27, 2007.

But we made calls. My in-laws were at my house taking care of 5 month old Buttercup, but everyone else we could get a hold of did their best to arrive before my father left us. And while we waited for the inevitable, my aunts continued to rally my father.
“Rene! Rene! Stay with us! You have your daughter’s Rene. Pauline, Veronica, Sonya, Maria, Patricia!”

Stay with us, Rene! You have the grandchildren! Nicholas, Caleb, Aiden, and Buttercup!”

“Rene! Dorothy is here, Rene. It’s her birthday, Rene. She needs you to take care of her, Rene!”

 

His signs were fading.
The beeping was slowing.
The tears were flowing.
I kept my eyes closed. Easier to block the tears that way. I needed to stay focused on catching my mother before she hit the ground when the last beep would eventually fade away. And that damned light over his bed was harsh enough to sting my already tired eyes.
I stood in between Pati and Sonya, with one arm around each of their shoulders. Being six inches taller than both of them, I was able to offer them a place to rest their heads while I used them for support to keep standing.
None of us spoke. We just let my dad’s sisters cry and wail and toggle between English and Spanish while they tried to break through to his spirit. His body may have been failing, but he was strong. Maybe strong enough to make the impossible possible. If only they could reach him.
“Rene!” One of his sister’s cried out. “Rene! Look into the light, Rene! Look into the light!”

My eyes shot open as my face crumpled into a pained expression that had nothing to do with my father and everything to do with me trying to bite back a “What the HELL?” at what had just been uttered.

“Really?

Really?”

She, of course, meant the light over his bed. The one harnessing the power of the sun. The one we would have joked was bright enough to wake the dead had my father not been dying.
But a chuckle, which came out as a muffled sob, escaped one of my sisters. Sonya and Pati, tears streaming down their cheeks, both looked up at me. They wanted to laugh. My father would have laughed. He would have laughed his ass off.  But it wasn’t the right time. Later. We could laugh after we got home. After we had signed off on the autopsy. After we got my mother into bed. While  we sat huddled together waiting to leave for the funeral home. After we got home from the service. We could, and would laugh about it often. All it took was one of us to dramatically call out, “Look into the light!”


But not now. Not yet.

I pursed my lips and silently shook my head slowly. It was as much an admonition for them as it was a reminder to me not to lose it. Because good fucking God, I needed to laugh.

“Rene! Look into the light!” She cried out, as the beeping slowed even more. “Look into light!”


My father had never listened to his sisters. He never listened to anyone. But as the beep, beep, beep finally drew itself out into a heart-wrenching “beeeeeeeeeeep” until one of the nurses (thankfully) turned off the machines, as I let go of my sisters to catch my mother before she fell to the floor…I had one thought.

“Damn it, Dad! Fifty years! And you listen to them now?”

 

Buttercup’s preschool teacher continues to amaze me. Their science center? Learning the life cycle of the chicken.

She’s four and already understands that first the chick has to grow in the egg and that it has to work really hard to hatch from it’s shell.

And that the chicks are slimy when newly hatched and need to rest because they used so much energy “being born.”

And when they dry off they start to get really fluffy.

And even fluffier. And when they are big enough, they can be adopted!

Mama! Isn’t that just perfect?

She’s enthralled.

Now I have to figure out how to explain to her there is no fucking way one of these little puff balls is coming home with us.

Nov 232011
 

Bruja.

It means “witch” in Spanish and was something I grew up hearing constantly as a child. It was a reference to my crazy, kinky curls that my mother insisted on brushing so much they frizzed to a static nightmare before pulling and twisting the whole mess into the world’s tightest pony tail.

I’m sure my aunts and uncles didn’t mean anything by it. They thought it was cute.

I probably laughed it off.

“Look at her hair,” I say to my friend H.C. just a few weeks ago when out and about, “it’s crazy and I love it.”

I’m referring to a little girl, probably five or six years of age, and she’s oblivious to the admiring glances being cast her way by anyone who passes. Her kinky curls are wild and free and defying gravity just because they can. She doesn’t notice the glances because what other people think doesn’t matter to her. I imagine she’s been raised with “you’re beautiful just the way you ares” and “the world would be so boring if we all looked the sames.” It’s the same message I try to convey to Buttercup every chance I get. I don’t want her growing up to think everyone is judging her appearance and that her crazy curls must be manipulated to be something they are not just so she can blend in with everyone else trying not to look like they are trying to blend in, too.

My mother came to visit a few months back and good times were had by all as she spoiled her granddaughter with cuddles and toys and kisses. She spoiled me, too, with little things like mornings to sleep in and the opportunity to go grocery shopping by myself. I didn’t realize until she left that Buttercup hadn’t had one wind blown curl fly across her face during the entire visit. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for temper tantrums and pleas to “pull my hair back, mama!” for the two weeks i “lost all the hair bands in the house.”

But there it was. And here I am.

If I wasn’t a mother of a four-year-old who asks me questions like why I didn’t wish for two babies or if humans will become extinct if the Earth runs out of water, I might continue to pull my ‘fro back into a bun at the nape of my neck because I’m not self-conscious that way. But I am the mother of a fou-year-old who asks me questions like why I didn’t wish for two babies and if humans will become extinct if Earth ever runs out of water. And unless I want her asking me why I encourage her to love and celebrate her curls while I try to hide my own, it’s time to celebrate what I’ve got, too.

For both our sakes.

Today, I went out with The Husband with my mexifro in all its glory. No one pointed. No one laughed. I even got complimented. And after I forgot about being self-conscious, I realized how lovely it felt to just let myself be.

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