Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner

Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner are on "Larry King Live" tonight. I used to work for Jim Bakker, back in 1985 and 1986 when Heritage U.S.A. was at its heyday. I was just a college student, then, with no awareness of who the Bakkers were, but some recruiters came to my college to find students to work for the summer. I had no plans--and I didn't want to work as a nanny again as I did during my first college summer--so I went to the interview.

That's how I ended up driving across the Smoky Mountains with a guy named Bill Potts in May of 1985. My roommate was a girl from Iowa named Lisa Beasley and we lived in student housing in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Our apartment complex had once been a Motel 6, I think. Our door opened to the outside, to a balcony. We had aqua shag carpet. It was a cheap hotel room. But we loved it anyway.

Once all the students had arrived, they herded us all into interviews to determine exactly where we'd work. All the girls with really big hair and small waists wanted to work in Public Relations. I had hoped to work with children, but when it came down to it, I volunteered to work on the grounds crew, because the grounds crews were promised overtime and overtime meant lots of money and I needed money. Besides that, the alternative was to work at a restaurant on the grounds of Heritage and I didn't come all the way to South Carolina to work in a greasy fast-food place. I already did that in high school.

A girl named Kendra and I volunteered to work on the grounds crew, so there we were, two college girls working with a bunch of men. After the first day, I hardly even noticed them staring at us. I kind of liked working outside, digging around in the dirt, smoothing long pine needles into little nests around trees. I'd only been working a couple of days when I noticed Jim Bakker and his entourage driving up to the Grand Hotel. I said to Kendra, "Hey, I should go introduce myself to Jim Bakker." And she said, "I dare you."

She dared me. So, I did it. I put down my gardening tool and marched my dirty self right over to Jim Bakker and stuck out my hand. I said, "Hi, my name is Mel and I think you know my uncle." My uncle was a well-known missionary, and in fact, he was now employed by Heritage U.S.A. Jim Bakker did not really acknowledge me, but another man said, "You're S.J.'s niece?" And I said, "Yes." And then he told me that he knew my uncles and my grandparents from way back. His eyes crinkled as he smiled at me. His name was Dick Dortch.

A few days later, all the college students attended an orientation of sorts. By then, I regretted my work on the grounds crew (no days off, working ten hour days) and I wondered if there were some way I could finagle myself a job working with the daycare. I spotted Dick Dortch when the meeting was over, so I made my way to him and said, "Hi, remember me?" He did, so I said, "Hey, are you important here? Because I really want to work with children."

He burst into laughter when I asked if he were important. I didn't realize then that Dick Dortch was the number two guy at Heritage U.S.A. In fact, he served prison time when the whole empire collapsed a few years later.

Dick Dortch led me to another man, Eric Watt, and explained to Eric that I wanted to work with children. He told Eric to make this happen. Eric did. The Human Resources woman was extremely perturbed with me and yelled at me in her office, but she transferred me to the day camp, where I worked for the rest of the summer.

Later in the summer, I met the man who would become my husband. My roommate, Lisa, pointed him out to me one day. I peeked out from behind our curtains and saw a dark-haired man, sweating profusely, dressed in shorts and running shoes. And then he spit. She thought he was cute. I thought he was a sweaty guy who spits. Yuck.

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner has now been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

I only have a sore throat which will not go away. When viewed in this light, that is good news, indeed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Please kill me now. My throat is so raw, so painful that I need a neck transplant, which I'm pretty sure they don't do in this neck of the woods. Besides that, I'm sure my worthless insurance wouldn't cover it anyway.

I sent my husband to buy the stupid, overpriced antibiotic and Claritin. I swallowed the pills and added a few more ibuprofen to the mix and I'm still in agony.

Besides that, no one is commenting on my journal and even worse than hearing voices in my head, I'm hearing nothing but the sound of silence.

My poor baby. Today, we were in the driveway where she was sitting on a little tricycle. I was mere feet away, but I was looking at TwinBoyB who was incessantly talking--he's still not watching television--and Babygirl tipped her trike. She fell so suddenly that she didn't even put her hands up and so she fell directly onto her tiny, little nose. She cried and cried and cried. Much later, when I settled her down, we went back into the driveway. She pointed to the trike and said, "Bike" and then prepared to ride it. She paused, pointed to her nose and said in a sad voice, "Nose." No more bike riding for her today.

Her nose is swollen. She looks like a homely version of herself. Poor kid. Like Kathy Griffin, before her nose job.



Monday, March 29, 2004

Race and the Moon

I'm in the back yard with my baby girl and my oldest son. He's chatting with me because he's joined his class in going "television free" this week. It's about to kill him.

He says, "Mom, why are all the black kids at school mean?"

I say, "They are all mean? Like how?"

He says, "They just say mean stuff to me. They think they are all cool and everything."

I really don't know what to say. I tell him that being mean to other people makes some people feel better about themselves. I tell him to ignore them. I think to myself that if you are a minority, you sometimes have a greater responsibility to be kind. My kid has encountered only a few black kids at school (maybe ten percent of the school population) and they are all mean. He will obviously extrapolate that finding to the greater population. What's a mother to do about the mean kids?

I have noticed black boys sauntering down the hallways like they are starring in a rap video. These are suburban boys raised by middle-class parents. What's up with that? The influence of the media, I guess. My boys just don't understand it. They are sheltered from so much of the media. If it's not on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, they don't see it.

When I went to high school, there was exactly one black family. The two black siblings were exemplary students. He was the homecoming king. She was in my P.E. class and was such a friendly, kind girl. I saw that these two kids were just like me, only with dark skin.

I honestly never understood racism, never, ever saw racism until I lived in North Carolina. Then one day I unwittingly ventured into a black area of town. I needed to do laundry and looked in the yellow pages for a laundrymat. Found one close by, drove over there. Put my clothes in washing machines. Then it dawned on me. Everyone was staring at me. I was the only white face in the laundrymat. The only white face in the parking lot. Oh. I wasn't welcome there, in the black section of town. It never occurred to me that towns might be divided racially.

I like our little town now because the schools are diverse. We have white students, black students, mixed-races of all kinds, Hispanic students, Asian students, Native American students. I like my kids to sit side by side with a variety of children, to learn with them, and work with them and play with them. I think it's healthy.

When we lived in Michigan, the racism was glaring to me, yet invisible to the natives. Nearly everyone was white, and one woman boasted to me about leaving Detroit way back when they started busing in minority students. She left her fancy home and came up north to get away from the minorities in the schools. She thought of that as a sacrifice. I thought of it as prejudice.

One day, I was standing in line at the bank when a tall, black man came in to cash a check. This was a remarkable moment. He was the first tall, black man I'd ever seen in town. He presented his check to be cashed and the teller said, "Oh, we can't cash that here." He said, "But the company I worked for in town told me I could." She said, "No, you'll have to go to the other bank down the road." Off he went.

Another teller came out and asked what happened. The original teller explained and the second teller (the manager, perhaps?) said, "That check was written on an account at this bank! We should have cashed it." The first teller shrugged. I knew she had been suspicious of him and sent him on a wild-goose chase because he was different. Different, tall and black, which is practically a crime in northern Michigan.

The racism was one reason why I was glad to leave northern Michigan for Western Washington. And now, here I am, trying to raise kids who are not prejudiced and the black kids in school are mean. Sigh.

Now, on a completely unrelated note, when DaycareKid left this afternoon, I took Babygirl out for a quick stroll around the circle. She has memorized each yard that has patches of stones and asks for a rock at each place. She says, "Rock!" And then she says, "Thank you." There are four or five yards with stones and so she exchanges her rock at each place for a new one. We had almost completed our second circle and I was daydreaming about the flowering tree in Sleeping Beauty's yard which is about to burst into riotous bloom when Babygirl said something. I looked at her and said, "What?" And she pointed straight above her head and said, "Moon!" I craned my head back and sure enough, hanging directly above us in the blue sky was a half-moon. I said, "Yes! That is the moon!" And she said, "Moon, moon" a few more times.

Picture that!

This was our Superbowl party. I just had the film developed. Yeah, so I'm behind. What's new? This picture shows our twin boys, their twin-boy friends, Lauren (sister to the twin boys), YoungestBoy, Babygirl and my husband. Notice that Babygirl is slouched on the couch, eating potato chips with complete contentment. This is her first Superbowl party and she fully participated in watching the game while eating junk food.

My husband may finally have a child who likes to watch sports with him. As long as potato chips are involved, anyway.

I'm sick and sick of it!

I've had a sore throat for eleven days. I have a very high pain tolerance and ibuprofen has dulled the pain so I can get through the days.

But this morning, my son, TwinBoyA, woke up with a sore throat and I thought, Uh-oh, maybe this is strep throat. I'd better go to the doctor. When I made the appointment, the woman on the phone said, "Oh, you are practically a new patient! You haven't been here since 2001."

Exactly. I never go to the doctor.

Especially with crappy health insurance. So, off I go, leaving my husband at home with the babies, YoungestBoy and sick TwinBoyA. I actually enjoyed driving out of my driveway, out into the sunshine. Today is the most lovely Spring day we've had yet. It's supposed to reach 70 degrees.

The nurse does the nurse-things, including swabbing my throat. The doctor comes in, listens to my lungs, looks in my ears, nose and throat, remarks that my throat is, indeed, red and says they'll swab my throat. I said "the nurse already swabbed it." Doctor leaves the room. Finally, the nurse returns, says, "Good news, it's not strep." Then she tells me the doctor wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic anyway "to clear up your sinuses" and one for Allegra . . . though, I am sure this is not allergy-related. I have allergies in the fall and I know what that feels like and this isn't it.

Fine. Her diagnosis? Basically, sore throat. Duh. How much did that just cost me?

Dear husband calls me from the pharmacy. The cost of both prescriptions is $180. No joke. I said, "NO WAY!" and he said that the pharmacist recommended over-the-counter Claritin and the antibiotic alone is $100--or something like that. By then, my brain had spun around three times and was dizzy. I said, "Just forget it."

I don't understand why the doctor would even prescribe the antibiotic in the first place. This is probably just a virus anyway. And I am frustrated and angry that she never returned to the treatment room to let me ask questions.

In my next life, I'm definitely going to medical school. It seems that any idiot can become a doctor, so why not me?

Friday, March 26, 2004

YoungestBoy and His Teacher's Comments

This was YoungestBoy last year, sitting on the back of the couch, wrapped in the sheer curtains, looking out the window and eating a popsicle. I'm the kind of mom who sees such a sight and thinks, "Oh, I must have a picture!" and then a few days later when the curtains are ripped, I say, "It was worth it! That was such a great picture!"

But enough about me. This is about YoungestBoy. He brought home his kindergarten report card this week and this is what it said: "He continues to excel academically in all areas, especially in math. He always demonstrates great effort into whatever he is doing. He is such a sweet and caring student. He is such a joy."

And lest I think that I had anything to do with that, TwinBoyB's report card says, "Continue to work on effort." TwinBoyA's says, "He has truly put great effort into completing his assignments neatly and accurately. His handwriting/penmanship has improved! Good job!"

If I only had YoungestBoy, I would think that I was an outstanding parent. He's that kind of boy. But God knew I needed a reality check, so he gave me TwinBoyA and TwinBoyB. And then, just to give me something to do in my old age, He gave me Babygirl.

What a funny Guy.

More Good News, Bad News

Good News: Baby slept all night. She seems healthy.
Bad News: I woke up coughing in the night.

Good News: The boys cleaned up the kitchen last night.
Bad News: The boys cleaned up the kitchen last night and put regular dishwashing soap in the dishwasher.

Good News: My kitchen floor is remarkably clean near the dishwasher.
Bad News: I had to wash an extra load of wet towels after cleaning up the puddle.

Good News: It's Friday!
Bad News: Husband will be gone all day tomorrow.

Good News: The kitchen is clean.
Bad News: I have no plans for dinner and it's already 3 p.m.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Sick Baby

Scene: Last night.

7:00 p.m.: Place baby in crib.
8:45 p.m.: Baby wakes up crying. Nurse baby.
9:00 p.m.: Return baby to crib.
10:55 p.m: Remark to husband from under covers, "I just want to hear the beginning of the news."
11:00 p.m: Baby wakes up crying. She has chills and is warm. Nurse baby.
11:15 p.m.: Return baby to bed. Crawl back under covers.
11:39 p.m.: Baby screaming. Get ibuprofen. Use bathroom. Turn on t.v. in baby's room to use light to administer medication. Hold washcloth to baby's face as she vomits medication back up. Nurse baby.
12:15 a.m.: Return baby to crib. Crawl under covers.
1:12 a.m.: Baby crying. Rock baby, nurse baby. Realize baby no longer has fever.
2:00 a.m.: Return baby to crib. Crawl under covers.
6:20 a.m.: Baby's awake.

Unlike yesterday, she was clingy and crabby. I didn't shower until after lunch when dear sweet husband took baby for a ride in the car. This was a long day. I put the baby to bed at 7:00 p.m. I hope she sleeps tonight.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Baby has been lethargic all day, which in a peculiar way has been delightful. She just wanted to lean her head on my shoulder and sit on my lap. She napped twice. She wanted to go outside, but didn't want to bother with shoes and a jacket, so I wrapped her in an afghan and we sat in the backyard for a bit. She just sat. All of this is completely out of character for my busy girl.

She's running a fever, the first real fever of her life. I'm not sure how high it is since I don't own a thermometer, but I will probably borrow one tomorrow to make sure her brain isn't boiling. She's not been crying or fussing, so I don't think anything really hurts. She's warmish, but not burning up.

I put her to bed at 7 p.m., as usual. At 8:45 p.m., she was crying, so I went in and nursed her and then realized she was breathing kind of fast and then remembered that fast breathing isn't good, so I counted how many breaths per minute. Thirty-five. When I put her back down, I consulted my book and under 40 is okay. Apparently, fast respirations help bring down a fever.

I'm not treating it with medication yet. We'll see what tomorrow brings. The last time I gave her ibuprofen, she threw it up all over me.

I am still hacking up a lung, which is ever so pleasant.

If I drank, this would be a good time for something strong. But I don't, so I just ate too much chocolate and now I'll go upstairs to listen and hope that she sleeps all night.

Good News and Bad News

Good News: Babygirl is on her second nap today.
Bad News: She's sleeping because she's feverish.

Good News: My mood has improved.
Bad News: My period has started, thus my hormones have settled down.

Good News: My husband went to the grocery store for me today.
Bad News: He forgot the butter.

Good News: Tonight is Survivor.
Bad News: Survivor is just a recap show tonight.

Good News: I had enough time to wash my hair this morning in the shower.
Bad News: My legs are still stubbly.

Good News: My head doesn't hurt today.
Bad News: My throat still does.

Good News: Frozen pizza for dinner.
Bad News: Frozen pizza for dinner.

Good News: Spring is in full swing here: trees blossom, tulips bloom, perennials grow.
Bad News: Weeds are thriving and rain is falling.

Good News: I have free time while the baby naps.
Bad News: Laundry.

Perhaps I should hire myself out: for every good, I can find a bad. It's a gift, really. My husband didn't nickname me "Dreambasher" for nothing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yellow Roses

My husband brought me two dozen yellow roses yesterday.

At 5:30 p.m., he took our three sons to a movie. My baby went to sleep at 7 p.m., so I've been alone in my quiet house so long that I have started to worry that my menfolk have been in a devastating car accident somewhere and that the seatbelts failed and somehow, my boys were ejected from the car and are now in a ditch somewhere.

Okay, not really. But it has been weirdly quiet here. I have two television set on "American Idol" and I kept switching rooms as I wander about cleaning and putting stuff away.

My throat hurts still from this cold. Now I feel a little bit bad that I wasn't more sympathetic to TwinBoyB last week when he had this cold. I am a terrible nurturer sometimes.

Anyway. My husband either senses when I'm close to the edge or he reads my journal. I'm not sure which. At any rate, he's a good husband and a good person and he makes me laugh out loud almost every day.

Last night, when I got home from a movie ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), he was sprawled on the bed upstairs with the thick book about dogs that we bought when we first married. We used to go through all the breeds, imagining which dog would be perfect for our family. Three and a half years ago, we bought Greta, a Newfoundland. After two years, we had to return her to the breeder when she nipped two of the children. They still have scars. I wrote about this a long time ago, so I won't go on and on about it.

The fact is, last September, just after Babygirl turned one, I drove Greta two hours north to the breeder's home under cover of darkness and returned home to my broken-hearted boys and Greta's empty crate. My husband said, "That's it. No more dogs." He told me he never wanted her to start with, that it was my idea, that it was a bad idea. Well, it was a good idea, but the timing was off because two months after Greta arrived, I became pregnant.

YoungestBoy still misses Greta. When I'd mention that YoungestBoy had cried about Greta, my husband would say, "No more pets." But last night, he happened to be the one to hear YoungestBoy's cries. When he put YoungestBoy to bed, he put Big Dog on the bed (a huge stuffed animal) and Little Dog (a small stuffed animal). YoungestBoy burst into tears and cried for five solid minutes. Those five minutes prompted my husband to begin researching dog breeds so his boy can have another dog.

That sums up my husband. He is soft-hearted and generous and kind. He is the calmest, gentlest person alive.

But YoungestBoy hasn't mentioned Greta today, so we will move forward without a dog. For now.

Here is the last picture I took of Greta, as she was celebrating Babygirl's birthday with us:


Why does my baby girl climb the stairs, enter her bedroom, close the door and then cry because she is alone upstairs in her bedroom with the door closed?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Childhood and Happy

I've always said I had a happy childhood. I'm not sure why I think that. My parents moved twenty-five times by the time I was five years old. And not just down the street. We moved from Wisconsin to Kansas to Montana and points in between until finally, we landed down in Washington state like the house that settled on the Wicked Witch of the East. I remember very little of the tornado that was my early childhood.

When I was five years old and halfway through kindergarten, we moved to a house in a housing development called "Whispering Firs." My dad teased and said the house was haunted. It was the first house we owned--three tiny bedrooms, a living room with a fireplace that had two sides, so you could enjoy the fire from the family room, too. Not that I ever remember a fire burning. Small kitchen and sliding glass door leading to the back yard. When I was very small, at night I was scared of the side of the yard that sat on the other side of the garage. No light shone there at night.

I loved animals and one year, my dad asked me in the hallway what I wanted for Christmas. With uncharacteristic boldness, I said, "A puppy" and he said, "Don't count on it!" But he presented me with a small black poodle anyway, a black poodle that my mother doesn't remember at all. She was named "Midnight" and one day when I came home from school, she was gone. My mom had a new baby and the dog was just too much and so they just made her disappear without warning.

Then somehow, years later, my dad presented me with another dog, a Miniature Schnauzer he named Mitzi. He'd made some arrangement with the breeder and contrary to that arrangement, the breeder bred her while the dog was boarded and one day, shortly after I remarked that Mitzi's tummy sure was getting fat, Mitzi gave birth to four tiny puppies on my twin-sized bed while I slept. But the time I fully woke and ran through the house to my mother's bed, Mitzi had licked off the last pup and placed it in my slipper for safe-keeping.

But Mitzi eventually became too much, too, and she was sold.

My dad had cancer when I was in the second grade. He had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and he was extremely ill. He endured chemotherapy and wasted down to a skeleton of himself. He shaved his head one night while we were at church and then he wore a hand-towel over his bald head and scared me by yanking it off his head and making a face.

I hardly knew my dad because he worked graveyard shift from midnight to 8 a.m. Then he worked in his own shop, tinkering with ham radios and electronic equipment and eventually, computers. He never ate dinner with the family. He was sleeping then. I was kind of scared when I had to sit next to him at the dinner table because he was so unfamiliar to me.

Once, I jumped out my bedroom window to join my siblings in the back yard. I bit my tongue hard when I landed and blood spurted everywhere. I ran inside where my dad gathered me in his arms and sat me on his lap, though I was much too big to sit on his lap. He rocked me in a chair while I cried and he kind of laughed at me and asked me if I was going to live. I can't remember him ever holding me or rocking me at any other time.

My mother stayed at home and took care of us. She was stern, yet she gave us a lot of freedom. We rode our bikes until the streetlights came on. We walked down to the creek and got muddy. We played all afternoon in the "honda fields", pressing down the waist-high grass to make little rooms to play in. Her friends came over while we were at school and drank coffee and ate cookies and made crafts.

Every week, my mother would bring home friends from church, or my dad would invite some of his ham-radio buddies over and the grown-ups would play cards and eat snacks. I'd try to linger outside their attention, but I'd always give myself away by crunching giant pretzels in my mother's ear and then she'd shoo me away to play with the kids.

We played a lot. Outside, inside, in the backyard, in the streets. I read a lot. I had friends in the neighborhood and I remember them trying to get me to dance, but even then I was too self-conscious and had no rhythm, so I would just watch while they danced to the Jackson 5.

When I was in fifth grade, my parents divorced. We lived with my mother for maybe a year, but by then, my dad had remarried (six months after my parents divorce) and my mother soon remarried, too. My childhood essentially ended when we moved out of that house and into a rental house a few miles away. My room had hot pink carpet, but the rental house did not have my mother, but a stepmother who hated children and who had no idea what to do with an 11 year old girl.

By then, I lived almost entirely inside myself. I remained self-sufficient for the rest of my school years. I even bought my own shampoo and my own clothes from then on.

But the thing is, I remember my childhood as being happy. I thought I was happy. I was happy. Did my parents even think of my happiness? Did they obsess, like I obsess about whether or not my children are having a happy childhood? It seems like parents used to just live their lives, dragging their kids along for the ride. And we survived. We scared ourselves sometimes when we went too fast down the Big Hill and crashed our bikes with banana seats, but that was just part of being a kid. If bigger kids threatened us, we just adjusted our paths and put on a tough face and averted our eyes and dealt with it.

Sometimes, I think I am still eleven years old, wondering what I will do, now that I am so alone. Is it possible to avoid any more pain? Is it possible to do everything just right so I will never stub my toe again? I guess not.

I wish my kids had a guaranteed Happy Childhood. I wish I could be sure I was doing everything right. I wish I could let them eat chocolate and potato chips all day and never tell them to turn off the t.v. for their own good. I hate being the Mean One who makes the rules and then reinforces them. I hate it when they yell that they hate me.

We don't have quite enough money and they don't get to have enough fun, nor do we travel as we should. I yell too much, I am not consistent enough, I am tired too often.

But here is what I know I'm giving them that I did not have:

1) Parents who stay married forever.
2) A mother who does not leave.

I don't know if they are having a Happy Childhood. God, please let them remember it that way, though.

Can I Have a Do-Over, Please?

I need a do-over. Yeah. Really. I think I should never have married or had children. I would like to have a second chance and if I were that same 20 year old girl, I would go to medical school and then disappear into some needy country to devote my life to serving others.

That would be easier than where I ended up. Okay, right, so that would be my hormones talking. Or maybe my sore throat and aching head. So what?

My husband was gone most of yesterday and the day before and the week before that and the weekend before that and the week before that. Turns out that I am a horrible single parent. The kids drive me crazy with their incessant arguing. TwinBoyB, in particular, seemed to be on a mission to make my head pop off my neck. I'd tell him to do something (like "stop hitting you brother and come here") and he would slide his body half-way off the couch at glacier-speed. I gave him a thwap with my foot under his thigh and he shrieked as if he was burned with a hot poker in the eye.

Of course, his dad came downstairs just then and got his wailing report of how I kicked him. Which, technically speaking, it was a kick. It wasn't intended to be a kick, but a . . . well, a reminder-thwack. My husband scolded me and said I should use time-outs. Yes, I heard that loud and clear: You are the worst mother in the world and a rotten human being as well.

That was Saturday. Sunday, I decided I would use time-outs. So the first time TwinBoyB disobeyed me, I told him to go sit on his bed for ten minutes. He said, "No." I said, "Okay. You just earned yourself an early bedtime." He launched himself into a wildly dramatic performance, flopping around on the ground. Then he went and sat on his bed and screamed, "Mommmmmmmm! Mommmmmmmmm! Mommmmmmmmmmm!" He wanted to argue with me about his punishment. I told him to stop immediately or he'd get an additional ten minutes.

He got the additional ten minutes.

This kind of thing wears me out.

Last night, he expected not to go to bed early. He thought he "earned it back." I said, "No, there is no earning back your punishment. Otherwise, it won't count." He sobbed and cried and carried on so much that I said, "Just go now." It was 7:40 p.m. He laid on his bed and shouted and cried. When I'd go in and check on him, he'd argue with me more and complain more. This child is not a quick learner.

My husband came home, of course, after TwinBoyB had been sent to bed, but before he had finished throwing his fit. TwinBoyB tattled on me, trying to make his behavior my fault.

Husband tells me I should go in and comfort him. I do so, but of course, get even more aggravated with him. Now it's not about his behavior but about his brothers and school and why he's going to fail math. I told him it's all about choices. You choose how to behave, you choose how to do in school.

Then TwinBoyB comes out to report to his dad that he does not have a particular item he needs. I already know this, but TwinBoyB is telling his dad anyway. I say, "Hey, if people would tell me when they use the last one, I would buy more!" (Early in the day, I find out that we have no more trash compactor bags. I did not use the last one and I did not know we were out.)

My husband rebukes me and says that it's my job to know these things and not the job of a 10 year old boy.

With that, I went upstairs and ironed Husband's clothes and fumed and stewed and then crawled into bed at 9 p.m., watched a show until 10 p.m. and turned off the lights. I never, ever go to bed at that hour, but I was tired, sick and emotionally drained.

I decided just as I fell to sleep that I am a complete failure as a wife, mother and homemaker. The worst part is that being a wife, mother and homemaker is all I do. So, at least I would win "Best All Around," if Anti-Mother of the Year Awards were given out.

Of course, that's completely irrational, but it still sounds true to me today.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

I have another cold.

Tonight I have an obligation, a meeting to attend. Of course, I'll be late because first I have to put Babygirl to bed.

Tomorrow morning at 10:15 a.m., we are having our family portrait taken. I have all the clothes picked out, ready to go, but I can't decide whether to battle my hair and straighten it or whether I should just let nature win and have raucous curls. I'm also hoping to have some cosmetic surgery, pronto. Or at least find some good concealer.

All day tomorrow, my husband will be busy interviewing a candidate for youth pastor at church. Yeah, we know what that means. I will be home with the kids all day. I am so sick of being home alone with the kids. I want to drive my car somewhere. I want to walk down the city streets and look into store windows. I want to eat a meal in a restaurant with silverware. I want to leave whenever and come home whenever. I want to buy myself flowers and smell perfume at department store counters and read books in bookstores with no thought for the time.

Then tomorrow night, after spending a pleasant day with the brood, I will be having dinner at a church member's home with a bunch of other people, including the youth pastor candidate and his wife. They've flown in from Pennsylvania. (I want to fly in from Pennsylvania.)

The home is beautiful--I walked through it while it was under construction. I can barely contain my jealousy, though. These people had a gorgeous home before with marble countertops and a view of the Puget Sound and stained glass windows the wife created herself. And now, they built an even bigger, grander, more lovely home with a better view. (I want a home with a view.)

I'm usually quite happy with my house and my little odd-shaped yard ringed with wild hedges and determined ivy. Then I drive two miles down the hill to a home ten times nicer than mine and suddenly, I've gone from 1972 and shabby carpets to 2004 and I'm standing on carpet padded so luxuriously that my feet actually sink into it. I wash my hands in bathrooms with no water stains, no toothpaste smeared on the counter. I look out the windows and instead of seeing my moss-covered shed with its falling-apart door that needs replacement--I see lights twinkling on the rippling water of the Puget Sound. I hear the blaring horn of the ferry as it crosses the water. The kitchen is all about marble and stainless steel and spacious cupboard and suddenly, my own little kitchen with its dated cabinets and dull yellow-gold countertops looks even smaller and darker.

Jealousy has always been my issue.

Contentment is my goal.

Sunday always means church here and even if I don't go (because of sick kids), my husband is busy all day. This week, especially, he'll be busy all day.

I really hate weekends.

Then Monday all over again.

I realized all this yesterday--that I would have no time to myself--and I was really having a pity party, complete with balloons and noise-makers--and today God smiled at me and caused my baby to fall into a deep sleep. Actually, I think she napped because every day this week, I have followed the same routine. Upstairs at 1 p.m., nurse her until 1:30 p.m., put her in her bed. Today was the first day she actually curled up and slept. The other days, I let her cry for half an hour and when I retrieved her, she looked at me with big, teary eyes and said, "Night-Night" very regretfully. Like "how dare you make me go night-night!"

I'd also like to point out that God must love me because tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be spectacular. The temperatures will reach sixty-degrees and it's supposed to be mostly sunny. After the pictures, maybe we'll do something fun outdoors.

A girl can always dream. Even a jealous girl.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Unfortunate Fashion Trend

I saw my high school neighbor girl leave the house today. I noticed her wearing saggy sweatpants with a word written across her rear-end.

Why do girls wear words written across their butts? I never wanted people to look at my posterior. Perhaps I'm just an anomaly, but you can be sure you will never have to read my backside.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Texas Brownies

My husband came home from work last night at about 9 p.m. He'd been visiting a church member who is dying from liver cancer. She is the mother to a couple of high school kids. Her cancer is quite advanced and she is now sleeping 16-18 hours a day. When my dad died (age 47), liver cancer gradually took his waking hours until finally, he breathed his last.

Anyway, what struck me is that my husband brought home a plate of perfectly square, frosted, Texas brownies (you know, the kind that are more like cake than a brownie). How remarkable that this dying woman spent some of her precious time awake preparing a small gift for the pastor and his family.

A man at church was diagnosed very recently with lymphoma. His cancer is quite advanced, as well, and although he is going through chemotherapy, the prognosis is not good. Yet, two weeks ago, there he was at church, smiling, asking me how I was. He is maybe 61 years old, which used to seem "elderly" to me. Not anymore.

My grandmother turned 98 last week. She has lost her vision, her entire leg from hip to knee aches all day long with arthritis and bone loss, and she barely hobbles around her perfectly-kept, tidy home. Yet, when I was there, she insisted that I take home some of her birthday flowers. She prays for me every day. She sends me twenty-five dollars for each birthday.

My neighbor picks up my kindergartener for school every day. She brings him home every day. She does this with a smile and perky enthusiasm.

I am so thankful for the small kindness of these people. I am awed by the generosity and selflessness of people who have every right to complain and to be bitter and to rage against the injustice of their circumstances.

I hope I will make visitors brownies when I am facing my death. I want to be that kind of person.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Last Year at This Time

Last year at this time, Babygirl had just learned to sit up.
Now, she crawls onto a kitchen chair, then onto the table and sits there.

Last year at this time, Babygirl was bald.
Now, she has a wispy, gold baby-mullet that shimmers with red highlights.

Last year at this time, Babygirl woke up every two hours throughout the night.
Now, she sleeps from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Last year at this time, I was the only adult that mattered to Babygirl.
Now, she adores her daddy and hollers "da-da! da-da! da-da!!"

Last year at this time, Babygirl's babyhood seemed like it would stretch on forever.
Now, she's a tiny girl, not a baby.

Last year at this time, Babygirl had two teeth.
Now, Babygirl has a mouthful of teeth and she does not want them brushed.

Last year at this time, I wished time would hurry. I wanted to sleep again, I wanted to go places alone again, I wanted her to be able to talk to me, to tell me what was wrong.

Now, I miss her being six months old.

And next year, I will miss her being eighteen months old.

(Reminder to self: Please, do not wish your life away.)

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Me and My Shadows

Babygirl loves to stand on the bathroom counter while I attempt to disguise the circles under my eyes and tame my wild hair. I buy her cooperation by sharing various cosmetics. The other day, I gave her eye shadow. She wanted it opened. I flipped it open.

To my utter amazement, she put eye shadow on her eyelids. She looked bruised when she was finished. She has also curled her eyelashes and powered her nose. Her dad asked me later, "Does she have a bruise around her eye?" I said, "Oh, no, she's just wearing eye-shadow" as if that is a normal thing for an 18 month old to do.

This morning, Babygirl insisted on stepping into the shower with me. Then she got annoyed that the water kept spraying in her eyes. She'd gesture towards the towel and when I put it in reach, she'd dab her face with it. Mind you, she was completely dressed. I tried to shower and use my body to block the spray, but as it turns out, it's fairly complicated to shower with a small person at your feet who is trying to stay dry. She finally left the shower wailing her unhappiness.

Me and my shadow. Speaking of Shadow the Cat--today I strolled Babygirl over to the neighbor's house to ask her if we could retrieve some of our balls from her back yard. As we were chatting at her front door, our cat, Shadow, came up and she said, "Oh, is this your cat?" and I said, "Yes. He's overly friendly."

Using that as his cue, he slipped into her house! After we tossed the balls over the back yard fence, she met us at the back door, with Shadow prancing behind her, tail flying high. When she handed him to me, he was purring. He apparently didn't get the memo about cats being skittish and leary of new places. Weirdo.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Call Me Tim-the-Tool-Man-Taylor

My entire front yard needed a haircut today. So, when my husband took my baby for a long walk, I dragged out the big aluminum ladder and the electric hedge-trimmer and trimmed away. I trimmed the laurel hedges, the other wild bush next to the laurels, then moved on to the boxwood along the front of the house. Then I topped the evergreen bushes near the front door and finished up by edging the ivy all along the driveway. I filled the whole yard waste container and then swept the driveway.

All that work, and you can't tell I did anything. Trimming the yard--just like getting my boys haircuts--is one of those invisible tasks. You only notice if it's not done. I hate that.

The twins both have colds.

We got the kids a new basketball hoop for the backyard, plus two new bikes--one for TwinBoyA and one for YoungestBoy.

Babygirl has suddenly added a bunch of new words to her vocabulary. I discovered she says her own name. Other new words include: nose, ear, hair, cold, dark, bike, 'side (outside), car. She was full of energy and good cheer today--finally feeling perfectly healthy after suffering from her cold for a solid three weeks.

And now, with that random report, I'm heading to bed to read.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


So last night at 1:30 a.m., approximately 83% of my family was simultaneously awake. Babygirl's screams wound their way into my ears and I pretended for a second that she was going to go right back to sleep. I wrapped my robe around me, stood still for a minute, then stretched back out on my bed until her cries resumed. She was standing in her crib with her overhead light glaring. She can reach the light-switch in her new room. Normally it's not a problem. Last night was not normal.

I switch off the light and nurse her in the dark and even half-asleep, I hear TwinBoyA's cries through the vent. His bedroom is downstairs. So, after ten minutes, I put Babygirl down, cover her up and head downstairs to check on TwinBoyA. He has a cold and also tends to have night terrors, so I find him wandering around near the bathroom, obviously disoriented. I help him to the bathroom and then who should apear? My husband, coming to check on TwinBoyA. He didn't realize I was already downstairs. He goes back to bed and I settle TwinBoyA back in his bed.

I happily returned to bed and thought how funny it was that five out of our six family members were simultaneously awake. I dozed for less than half an hour and woke to Babygirl's cries and her overhead light on again. I nursed her and finally put her back to bed at 2:00 a.m.

Needless to say, I was tired and crabby all day. And Babygirl did not nap today, so the day just went on too long. TwinBoyA was home all day, babying his sore throat and eating ice cream.

Tonight, Babygirl went to sleep at 6:30 p.m., which was great because I needed to help TwinBoyB write a report on the circulatory system. Parenting an adopted kid is such a challenge for me. When he became my baby as a 7 month old, I never envisioned the frustration of a nearly 11-year old kid who doesn't think sequentially. You think about a child inheriting your fingers or your nose or your hair color, but you don't think about passing along your brain. Until, of course, you are dealing with some other person's biological offspring who did not pass along a logical, rational, sequential, linear-thinking brain.

TwinBoyB's brain is like a shelf that can hold one item. If you give him two items, one wobbles and falls from the shelf. He does not think in straight lines or in orderly sequence. He could not be more intellectually different from me--and not just me, but different from the kind of student public school is geared towards. He's going to be homeschooled next year and we are going to figure out a way to help him succeed. He's smart, he's sweet, he loves to laugh--he just can't organize his thoughts into a cohesive report. He thinks in circles, he obsesses over one particular part of the whole, he forgets stuff a lot. A lot. For instance, tonight, after an hour and a half, we finished his report (he basically dictated it to me) and then he tried to find his spelling words. They are lost. He blames me. He thinks he gave them to me, but he did not. He spent an hour in his bed while he should have been sleeping obsessing about the words.

God must have really thought I needed a challenge when He led me through the valley of infertility and adoption. He gave me boys who don't mind if they smell, boys who track dirt through my house every day, boys who don't think in straight lines.

Excuse me while I bang my head against my finger-print smeared, dog-scratched patio door.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Almost the Oldest Woman in the World

YoungestBoy is fascinated by my grandmother. She turned 98 today. He can't wait until she turns 120 years old, because then she'll be the Oldest Woman in the World.

I put Babygirl to bed tonight and hurried to my grandma's house to wish her happy birthday. She lives only 20 minutes away, but I rarely manage to visit her. It's probably something I'll regret for the rest of my life (if she ever dies, which doesn't appear likely). But that's just how my life goes right now. She comes to my house for holidays and we speak on the phone, though. That's something. And I know she prays for me every day. That's an even bigger something.

I asked her tonight what time of day she was born, but she doesn't know. She had two older brothers and two younger brothers, but the oldest brother died as an infant from pneumonia. The youngest brother died at age 17 from injuries suffered in a car accident.

She was born at home with the assistance of her mother and her paternal grandmother. Those were the good old days, weren't they? When family and friends and neighbors assisted at births. We have the best of all worlds now--home births attended by midwives, but backed up by hospitals and doctors.


Here she is last year on her birthday:

She would be horrified if she could see herself. She always prided herself on her appearance. My entire life, she wore her hair up in a twisted kind of bun. But finally, the hair to her waist became more than she could handle. I still can't get used to seeing her with short, permed, old-woman hair.

Her front porch is always so inviting. A white-painted iron table always holds blooming flowers, year-round. Everything is in its place in her house. I even glimpsed into her underwear drawer once and saw that it was all neat and tidy, everything in its place. She never leaves her clothes on the floor, even now that she can hardly walk. I wonder what it was like, though, when she had five boys and a daughter at home? Did she go crazy from the noise? At least they lived in the country and she could send them all outside to play and romp and work.

She loved to garden. In my lifetime, she's raised only flowers, but when her children were young, she raised all their food in the garden and canned it and preserved it all. They were extremely poor, because my grandfather was a minister. He'd be gone for weeks at a time, while she stayed home and managed all the children and the household. She sewed everyone's clothes. Tonight my mother told a story about when she was a girl in school and she needed a new tablet. They could not afford the five cents for one. My mother cried and cried and now wonders if this explains her obsession with buying paper and pens.

My grandmother's mind remains sharp. She hears well, but has lost her vision to macular degeneration. She lives alone in the house she shared with my deceased grandfather, who died on their sixty-second wedding anniversary. She longs to join him in heaven, but we joke that she never will die--who would boss my mom around if Grandma died?

There never has been, never will be anyone as remarkable as my grandmother who made a life out of serving others and cheering them on, all while keeping her underwear drawer completely organized. I should be half the woman she is.

The Passion

I did it. Despite my misgivings, I went to see Mel Gibson's "The Passion" on Monday night. The parking lot at the theater was nearly empty, but the theater was half full. I walked in as the movie opened with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I came prepared with a pocket full of tissues and didn't even stop at the concession counter as I usually do.

I was surprised to hear the crunching of popcorn during the opening scenes. How is this "entertainment"? I didn't intend to be entertained, but to be stunned and shocked and horrified. And when I prepare for those emotions, I don't need popcorn.

I didn't cry until Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was portrayed. On a much smaller scale, I know that feeling of wanting to protect your child and of wanting to avoid the inevitable. I also realized with a shock that part of Jesus' agony was knowing that those he loved had to endure his loss--I've thought before that I just cannot die and cause my children that kind of loss.

The violence was as graphic and horrifying as reported, but overall, I found the movie more moving and intense emotionally than I expected. Using a visual representation of Satan was effective.

All in all, I am glad I viewed it, even though afterwards my head hurt from crying and from the tension. I knew how it would end--with the Resurrection--yet the journey up the hill to Golgotha was agonzing to watch. I heard in my head Mel Gibson's description of the movie--"it's about the Passion of Christ--and twelve seconds of the Resurrection." So, as soon as the final scene came on and the credits began to roll, I bolted out of there. I sat near the front of the crowd, yet I was the first one out the door.

I cried in the car, then decided I really had to get myself together so I could stop by the store and pick up some milk. That's exactly what I did. I suppose the people in the store thought I was having a crisis of some sort with my blotchy face and red eyes.

When I got home, my husband and I fell into our usual routine of sarcastic humor. He complained about there being too many pillows on the bed and I made a comment about him being overly critical. He said, "I can see that movie really changed you." And when he made another critical comment, I called him Mr. Critical and commented that the movie really changed him, too.

Seriously, there is no way you could live in a constant state of hyper-awareness about Christ's sacrifice for mankind. You would surely implode. But it is good to venture to the outside of your self occasionally to glimpse the greater reality.

Monday, March 08, 2004

What I Lost

Today, for a second, I thought I lost my mind. Then I thought I lost my boy. Then I thought I lost my mind again.

My husband asked repeatedly throughout the day: "Does Youngestboy have a ride home from school today?" I kept saying, "Yes, he does." My neighbor, Beth, (I think of her as Saint Beth, she's so wonderful) usually takes him to and from school. So, after dropping off the twins from school, Husband runs an errand. The twins get out of school at 2:55 p.m. YoungestBoy's school is dismissed at 3:20 p.m.

At 3:15 p.m., I'm out in the backyard, hacking away at the ivy while Babygirl plays nearby, and suddenly, a conversation with Beth pops into my head. She told me Thursday that she could take YoungestBoy to school today, but not pick him up because after today's field trip, they were going to just stay in Olympia and visit friends.

Had I lost my mind? Apparently!

So, I grab Babygirl and rush inside and try to figure out what to do. Husband does not have a cell phone with him because he broke his charger. My nearly-11 year old twins are home. DaycareKid is sleeping and won't wake up until 4 p.m. I decide to throw DaycareKid's carseat in the car and put Babygirl in it and drive to the school (which is less than a mile away). Babygirl screams when I attempt that. Okay. I buckle her into her beloved stroller instead. I tell TwinBoyA that I'm going to get YoungestBoy and that I'll have my cell phone with me and that he is not to answer the door.

I walk as fast as possible, out of our circle and down the path through the woods to the school. One bus is leaving as I hurry around the building to the front. I see children but I do not see YoungestBoy. I speak to the guardian of the children, a blond woman holding a clipboard. She not only does not know where YoungestBoy is, she is not sure who he is, either. Have I now lost my boy?

The principal strolls up. She knows nothing. She tells me to check in the classroom. No boy.

I now frantically push my stroller out the building and back up the path towards home. I am breathless and sweaty and worried. Have I truly lost my mind? Where is my boy?

I round the corner and see Beth's van in my driveway. Turns out her friend in Olympia canceled their plans and Beth forgot to tell me.


All's well that ends well, I guess.

Yesterday, I went bowling for the first time in years and years. All I have to say is if you haven't been bowling for a long time and your bowling skills are rotten, be sure to bowl with little children who are worse than you are. And use the bumpers. I almost scored 100.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Late Night Thoughts and Stupid People

I'm in a funk. Probably hormonal, possibly related to my vampire existence and even more likely directly traced to my viewing of "Mystic River" again tonight.

Watching DaycareKid is great. He's a great baby, funny, sweet, easy to take care of. But the trade-off is that I am a virtual prisoner of my home. Between him and my afternoon kindergartener, I don't leave the house during the day. And since my husband's fallen into the habit of working on his sermon on Saturdays, every single day is the same. I am home alone with kids every single day of the week from sun-up to sun-down. This would make any sane person crazy.

I have checks I haven't cashed for two or three weeks. Donations for Goodwill sitting, waiting to be donated. Errands to run, things to do, people to see (okay, only things to do--I have no people to see). How long can a grown-up go without being out and about during the daylight? I am going to lose my mind.

Or not.

Tonight, at my husband's urging, I went to a movie. I put Babygirl down at 7:15 p.m. and left by 7:30 p.m.--without even cleaning up the kitchen. (My husband did the dishes while I was gone. Good job, Husband!) I planned to see "The Passion", but it was not showing until 9 p.m., so I saw "Mystic River" again. It was better the second time, I think. What a movie! What superb performances! But, here's where the Stupid People come in.

I'm waiting in line to buy popcorn and a Diet Coke. The giggling, hair-flipping girl in front of me was taking her sweet time choosing candy. She had such evenly cut straight hair. I envied her hair. Mine seems to be getting curlier and curlier as I age. Anyway, as I'm waiting, waiting, waiting (knowing the previews have already started), I hear two young men behind me talking. "Did you see Mystic River?" one says.

"No," the other says. The first one says, "Great movie, but terrible ending!" Then they yammered on and on about movies with bad endings ("Unforgiven" was mentioned.) Why in the world would you discuss how a movie ends while waiting in line for popcorn? I saw it before, so I knew the ending, but what if I hadn't? Do people not use their God-issued brains? I ought to have turned around and given them a searing look. Idiots.

So, after the movie, I'm walking out and behind me, I hear someone say, "I thought Dave did it." Dave was played by Tim Robbins. I hear someone else say, "You know who should have won an award? Tim Robbins."

Uh, hellooooooo! He did win an award, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Honestly. My brain is only half-functioning due to the constant drain of motherhood and life with toddlers and pre-teens. Yet, I know these things!

Tonight, TwinBoyA says, "What's for dinner?" and I say, "Sloppy Joes." And he makes a gagging noise. This is what I deal with, day in and day out.

So, I'm in a funk. Although, at least I'm not facing twenty years of prison. Poor Martha.

Who Said Housewives Don't Have Fun?

Woke up with a start yesterday morning at 7:04 a.m. after a remarkable night of sleeping without interruption. How did that happen? Unfortunately, I was supposed to be showered and dressed and in my right mind by 7:00 a.m. Lucky for me, DaycareKid was late and didn't arrive until closer to 7:30 a.m. I spent an unshowered day watching kids. YoungestBoy was home all day because his kindergarten class will be going all day on Monday to a field trip. So today, the afternoon class had the day off.

Babygirl had her second mid-day bath. She started pulling at her clothes and once undressed indicated that she wanted to get in the tub. She had a great time until I outraged her by washing her hair.

DaycareKid left a bit before 4:30 p.m. We ate dinner. (Don't even ask, I'm such a failure as a cook to this family. My husband doesn't want to eat dairy products, beef or pork and he doesn't like most vegetables. My 10 year-old twins don't like vegetables or any food mixed together--TwinBoyA is disturbed by food that is too crispy. YoungestBoy is going through an extremely picky phase and refuses dinner entirely, preferring cereal and milk and bananas and cheese. None of the boys like any food mixed together or anything with suspicious ingredients. Babygirl is a toddler and embraces the widest ranges of food. I cannot please these people. I made lasagna this week, from scratch. Only one person ate it. It's frustrating when you cannot make any type of casserole, use dairy, beef or pork or vegetables. And my husband says I don't like cooking--which is not true at all. I just don't like cooking for ungrateful whiners.)

I showered after dinner and dressed in clean clothes. I put Babygirl to sleep at 7:10 p.m., then went to the church for my first meeting with a new small group. We've formed a group for young couples, which is kind of funny because at 39, I am the oldest and my husband stays home with the kids, so I'm not a couple, either. But they are nice people and I know all the women from the church nursery. We all have children who are toddlers or preschooler (except one couple who is a military couple who both graduated from West Point).

The discussion lasted until 8:30 p.m. and then we chatted until it was 9:15 p.m. We joked about how I was going to the grocery store afterwards and how pathetic it is that going to the grocery store alone is a thrill for some of us.

At 9:15 p.m., I headed for the grocery store. In my advanced state of exhaustion, it took me until 10:38 p.m. to finish shopping. I had to go up and down every aisle (I had no list) to look at everything. My son, TwinBoyA, has a cooking project planned and needed bizarre items from white chocolate to jumbo shrimp and something from nearly every aisle besides.

On the way home, I drove along the water and then through our little town with its 25 mph speed limit. I was careful to reduce my speed once I hit city limits. That's why, when I was a mile from my house and had just turned a corner, I was shocked to see a police car with flashing lights suddenly appear behind me. I pulled over immediately and reached in my purse for my license and wondered if I could find the registration and proof of insurance quickly. I looked up and the officer (who looked too young to be an officer) was approaching my window cautiously, flashing his enormous flashlight at me. I held out my license. He took it and said, "Do you realize this is a 25 miles per hour zone?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you realize you were speeding?" I said, "Was I? I'm sorry!" He said, "Have you had any tickets in the past five years?" I said, "No." He examined my license and then said again, "Any tickets in the past five years?" I said, "No." He said, "Okay. Slow down." I said "okay." I would definitely slow down. But would my heart?

And you thought being a housewife wasn't exciting. Ha.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Eighteen Months Old

Babygirl (aka The Terrorist) is 18 months old now.

She still has no bangs, but she has wispy curls in the back. Her eyes are still the color of denim before it's washed too much. She has delicate hands and long arms and legs. She is not a roly-poly round baby, despite being "big" when she was born. (Eight pounds, eight ounces.) She is tall and thin.

All she wants to do is go out the front door and walk around the block. The backyard no longer holds any attraction for her. She threw a big fit today because I said, "no, we are not going outside." Then she calmed down, nursed and fell asleep for an hour while I held her.

She just started giving big hugs, the kind where she wraps her hands around our necks. She gave me a few open-mouthed kisses the other day. On Valentine's Day, she gave her daddy a kiss for the first time. She hasn't done it since. She's not a big kisser.

She likes to laugh. She even makes jokes by putting weird stuff on her head or making crazy faces. If someone yells, it startles her and she runs towards me. If the neighbor's dog barks, it scares her. If someone fails to wear their usual coat, it bothers her. She's a creature of habit.

She helps me take care of DaycareKid, who is only 6 weeks younger. She brings me a diaper from his diaper bag every day after lunch when it's time to change him. She likes to toss the stinky diapers in the outside trash can.

Her words include "cold" and "car" and "dark" and "cookie." Her most-frequently used word is "ga-ga." Unfortunately, I have no idea what "ga-ga" means.

Baths are good. Bubbles are bad. Pouring water onto her six-year old brother's head in the bathtub is good. Getting hair washed is bad. Throwing toys out of the tub is good. Clipping fingernails is bad.

She resumed napping for about 10 days, then stopped napping again. She goes to bed at 7 p.m. and sleeps for twelve hours. Twelve hours on, twelve hours off.

She's wearing size 18 month clothes. She likes to pull her clothes off. She'd rather be naked than clothed. She tells me when her diaper is dirty.

She adores laying on people, especially DaycareKid. She seems to be pinning him to the ground in a wrestling move. She dances every day, especially to the Wiggles. She likes Sesame Street. She likes the Teletubbies. She loves books and pencils and pretending to play her brothers' Gameboys.

She would love to ride in her stroller every day. She likes to go for rides in the car.

Her daddy is her new favorite person. She still refuses to allow anyone to hold her but her mommy and her daddy.

She walks up and down the stairs holding on to the wall. She climbs into her booster chair and tries to fasten the belt. She pours out her sippy cup, if she can do it without getting caught. She is outraged if I ever leave the room without her. She helps me by putting clothes into the washer. She'll also put dishes into the sink and trash into the trash compactor.

She tries to pick up the kitty. The kitty does not appreciate that. She still purrs. Both the baby and the kitty.

According to her:
A cow says "ooooo."
A dog says "oo-oo-oo-oo."
A cat purrs.
A frog growls.

She is getting to be a little person, yet she's still so much my baby. I want her to grow, grow quickly, yet I know I will be nostalgic for these sweet days when I am the center of her universe. I wish I could hold these days in my pocket somehow. I look at my twins and their babyhood was just a flash of light and joy and frustration. And here they are, on the cusp of adolescence. I want to enjoy her. I also want her to let me go to the bathroom without freaking out and running after me. I want to sleep in again. I want to go places in the daytime without a child in tow.

I want to freeze time and rush ahead and then come back when I'm refreshed so I can enjoy this more. I must remember that now, today, is all I have guaranteed. Savor it. Don't wish it away.

Life with Terrorists

I'm living with a terrorist. She doesn't speak much English. She demands sole rights to all the territory. She stinkbombs the house. From the beginning, she insisted upon full attention. Despite her limited English vocabulary, she makes her desires clear through screams and occasional physical demonstrations. She's been known to grab hair and shove.

They say you should never negotiate with terrorists. And I don't. I meet her demands. And when I can't, I just live with the consequences--tantrums and a brain drilled through with incessant noise.

I've figured it out. I have been living in this occupied territory for over ten and a half years now. I will not be free of this terrorist presence until the year 2006. We have negotiated a peace agreement which will take effect then. It's called "Kindergarten."

Until then, the occasional cease-fire will have to do.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Glass Half Empty

Wednesday. The halfway mark. Which makes me think of a glass half-empty because that's just the kind of girl I am. The weeks go by so fast, except that the days pass with excruciating slowness.

Today, for instance, DaycareKid's lunchbox contained a can of lentil soup. Fine, right? Well, that soup smelled disgusting. I kept saying as I spooned it into him, "This is the most horrible smell!" I was wrong about that. It smelled impossibly worse after his nap when I changed his foul diaper. Blech, blech, blech. Nothing is quite as revolting as dealing with the waste products of an unrelated person, even a small person.

My husband called this morning and said, "Bad news. I just got a phone call from the school."

Now, at that point, my mind races. TwinBoyA? TwinBoyB? Academic? Did they fall on the playground?

"A third-grade girl from school died from the flu yesterday." This child attended our Wednesday night program at church. I remember her from last summer. She came to the Vacation Bible School that I coordinated at church. Cute little girl, dark brown hair with bangs and Harry-Potter glasses. Tonight, we hear that she woke up yesterday morning with breathing difficulty. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she remained in critical condition all day. Then she died last night.

I cannot even really believe it. Third-grade children do not just die. She has a younger sister who is a grade younger.

Time rushes by all too fast for some. But time will crawl now for this child's family.

Just another reminder to live in each moment, to savor it, to hold it tightly. If we knew the length of each person's life from the beginning, could we even stand it? We tend to live as if we have endless tomorrows. And I have to believe that we do, though all the tomorrows are not on this earth.

Sigh. Enough of this glass-half empty kind of day.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The Neighborhood

I'm pretty sure that Sleeping Beauty is encased in the house a few doors down. Remember the story? The vines grew and covered her castle while she slept under the spell? Well, soon the ivy will overtake that house. Seriously. Those green fingers have climbed up the wall of that house and are clinging to the front picture window. A tree obscures most of the house from view. The ivy is growing into the street. The bright green moss will soon thatch the roof entirely. Nature seems determined to reclaim this particular point of civilization. I wouldn't be surprised to wake up and find that a giant Venus fly-trap has eaten that house, leaving nothing but a gaping green hole.

I've seen the tattooed man who lives there. Once or twice, when the kids trick-or-treated at his door. He seems nice enough, but is his roommate Sleeping Beauty? Will the house soon disappear from sight altogether?

I was in my backyard this afternoon clipping my ivy. The former owners of this house thought it would be a lovely disguise for the chainlink fence and perhaps it was before it developed tree-trunk sized roots and overly enthusiastic vines. Now, it's a constant battle to keep the ivy from creeping into the flowerbeds. The ivy fence separates us from our backyard neighbors. Their house is two stories, so our bedroom looks directly into their bedroom. This explains how I once caught a glimpse of the middle-aged paunchy man of the house wearing only his underpants. I wish sometimes that I could unsee things.

So, today, as I'm clipping my ivy, I thought how I'd never really spoken to this neighbor. I could hear him tinkering with his grill in the backyard and I wondered if I should say hello to him through a gap in the ivy. Then I realized two weird things: 1) I haven't said hello to the couple ever, in the three years they've lived there; and 2) How wacky it is that I have seen this guy in his underpants but I have never said hello. I think if you've seen someone in their underpants and you don't know them, it's too late to say hello.

Then I giggled. I am so mature.

Time is March-ing On

March is already here. That can only mean one thing. Summer is practically here and then before you know it, Babygirl will be going to kindergarten, getting married and moving to Maine.

I hope I actually get the tax stuff in the mail before then.

I looked over just now in time to see Babygirl sprinkling water onto DaycareKid's head. DaycareKid is such an easy-going kid. He wasn't even saying anything. Her favorite thing is to pin him to the ground and lay on him. He hates it, but he allows it. He outweighs her, but she is more determined, more wiry and a smidge taller.

The birthday party on Saturday went as well as can be expected. Five of YoungestBoy's kindergarten classmates attended, as well as three "older" friends (ages 8 and 9). We played bingo for one round. The first kid won, then I started cheating and calling out the numbers I could see they needed. That way, everyone won, and fairly quickly, too. TwinBoyA's job was to spin the dial for numbers and call them and he did it in such a dramatic way that it cracked me up.

After bingo, we went outside and whacked the pinata to death. Each child had three swings, no blindfolding involved. The stick was pretty short and I kept all the kids behind me on the stairs so no one would end up with brain damage from the party. I always put bags of loot in the pinata so there is no mad scramble for candy. There is a bag for everyone, no need to push down your neighbor and skin your knee. I learned the hard way.

Then it was time to open gifts. My husband had taken the baby away, so I was doing everything myself. I did pretty well, even managed to get a decent amount of pictures taken. No video because I only have two arms and one brain. I have two chins, but the second one is pretty useless.

Immediately following gifts, we had pizza and cake. The kids were itching to run in circles in the house, so as soon as they finished, I started an impromptu game of hot potato, which killed more time. By then there were only ten minutes remaining but each time I looked at the clock, there were still ten minutes remaining. I hollered to my husband (who had returned at pizza time), "is the clock BROKEN?!" Kidding around, really.

Our party ended at noon. Another boy in YoungestBoy's kindergarten class shares his birthday (Thursday) and also had his party on Saturday, so all of the kids went to Brian's party, too. She had a two hour party (mine was only 90 minutes). Having a short party that ended at noon was brilliant, really. By noon, it was all over. No fuss, no muss. I didn't even break a sweat.

I stayed home from church on Sunday due to Babygirl's runny nose and YoungestBoy's snuffly cough. I began a cleaning frenzy upstairs, but as usual, when I was in one room cleaning, the kids were in another room uncleaning. I managed not to scream my head off. In the afternoon, the twins went to play with their twin pals, so it was quiet with just Babygirl and YoungestBoy. I took Babygirl for a walk around the block--she actually walks and jogs all the way around. She adores walking outside. Then, my husband took YoungestBoy and Babygirl for a ride in the car. In their absence, I did dishes and weeded the front flowerbed. The perennials are starting to grow again.

I missed the Academy Awards last night. My VCR malfunctioned. I managed to catch the last hour, though. I was strangely enough not very upset. I saw the major awards.

Time to put the babies to bed for a nap. Woo-hoo! (Not that Babygirl will sleep. I always pretend that she will, though.)
Parents Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

Listed on BlogShares