Sunday, May 30, 2004

I Could Have Been A Surgeon

I woke up this morning and felt my gold hoop earring under my fingers, near my pillow. I fingered my ear and sure enough, no earring. Then, I probed my other earlobe. No earring. Apparently, I had some kind of dream in the night in which I had to remove both earrings. I have no memory of this dream or action. Weird, huh?

Babygirl woke up with a runny nose today. Alas, we had to go to church anyway because I was in charge of leading the music. Despite her snottiness, she was fairly cheerful, unless, of course, someone said, "Hi Baby!" to her, in which case she buried her mucus-y nose in my shoulder.

Later in the afternoon, I took the kids to the pool. The sun actually shone and the rain stopped and despite a stiff breeze, the kids said, "It's hot! Let's go to the pool!" Babygirl was happy to go anywhere in the car. Lately, she wants to go places and do things.

YoungestBoy passed his swim test the second time he took it today. The first test today, he swam underwater nearly the whole way. Not good enough. He needed to do the crawlstroke, so he swam back to the rope (underwater) and then did a flailing crawlstroke back to the other end of the pool. The lifeguard looked dubious, but then said, "He wants to go off the diving board, doesn't he?" I said, "Yes!" and he said, "Well, okay, but if he gets tired, tell him he has to get out."

YoungestBoy said, "But mom, I never get tired!" Then he proceeded to jump off the diving board about twenty times in a row.

At 5:00 p.m., my husband arrived with hot dogs for the grill and the necessary accompaniments. (Chips, ketchup and mustard!) I took Babygirl home and left the boys under his care. They swam for another hour.

At home, Babygirl and I went in the back yard and she wandered around while I pulled a few weeds and trimmed some ivy.

When the kids came home, my husband mentioned that YoungestBoy's swimming trunks were stuck to his . . . private parts. Oh no! This happened once last year and it was a pain, literally, to get it unstuck. Same swimming trunks, too. Last year, I figured it was a fluke. Apparently, I was sadly mistaken.

I went up to the bathroom to find my boy sitting in the warm tub water, swimming trunks still on. Upon closer examination, I discover that the delicate skin has somehow poked through the tiny mesh holes and is stuck in two places. Can everyone say a big "ouch"?

My first thought was lubricant. Unfortunately, I don't even have baby oil in the house. I thought maybe hair serum would work--it's greasy and slippery stuff designed to combat friz.

My baby and my husband are looking over my shoulder. My husband says, "Are you sure? The area is . . . well, sensitive, you know." I decide to pour baby shampoo on it instead, though in hindsight, I'm not sure how I thought that would help. Poor kid is yelping whenever I tug on the mesh. I decide to cut off the swimming trunks, leaving just a square of mesh around the "area."

First, hair shears. No. Not sharp enough. Then kitchen shears. Again, no. Not sharp enough. Finally, I resort to my sewing scissors. This works and I leave a small square of mesh fabric hanging off the end of his tiny little member.

Then, I think, Wait! Heat expands, cold contracts! Let's put it in a bowl of ice water and see if the tissue shrinks. At this point, tissue is stuck in one single hole, but it pokes through like a little water balloon which has been stuck through a chainlink fence and then filled with water. Can we all pause and say, "ouch" again? Thank you.

So, I fill a small Rubbermaid measuring cup with cold water and an ice cube. I hold this chilly cup to his little willy and he flinches. If he could stand the frigidity, this might work. Alas, too cold and the little bubble of flesh remains stuck.

I pick up my sharp shears. I clip, I snip, I work slowly, painstakingly, one miniscule thread at a time. I realize I cannot cut the final edges or I'll prick his, well, his skin. But I get very, very close. He wiggles the fabric and it completely frays, leaving him free of the strangling mesh.

We high-five and he hugs me and thanks me for saving his life. I say, "Well, even if it were cut, you wouldn't die." "I wouldn't?" he says. This leads into an deep discussion of amputation and when it would and when it would not lead directly to death. He also makes me promise to always let him wear underpants under his swimming trunks. I promise and think to myself that I will write a scathing letter to Ocean Pacific and demand to know why they use mesh which can entrap a little boy's, uh, little boy. If you know what I mean.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Saturday: A Quick Summary

Wake up. Hear stomping, then bedroom door opening. Feign sleep. Continue to drool, arm flung over face. Hear husband say, "Yes?" and YoungestBoy answer, "Can I have a Go-gurt?"

Doze. Wake up when husband's arm bumps my hip. "Hey," he says, "You should shower before the baby wakes up." I pry one eye open and squint to see the clock. It's 7:08 a.m. Whatever happened to sleeping in on Saturdays?

I roll over and deny that morning has arrived, despite the evidence of children downstairs. STOMP! SLAM! THWACK!

I hate mornings. Have I mentioned that lately?

I shower while my husband lies in bed. This is clearly wrong, but I cannot figure out why it still happens. I should be the last person in bed. I am the person who makes the bed. It makes sense, right?

I have time to rotate the laundry (washer into dryer, dryer into basket) and fold a load of clothes. I pick up an enormous pile of cards from the floor where I'd ignored them last night. Then I get Babygirl from her room. She greets me, saying, "Sheet. Mommy. Sheet. Chair. Mommy."

My husband showers and goes to work until noon. I tell the kids we can go to the pancake breakfast at the pool--it's opening day--and that motivates them to shower and get dressed. I give YoungestBoy a bath and wash his hair because he has a birthday party to attend.

I feed Babygirl oatmeal. Coax her into clothes. Wrap the birthday present. Clean the litter box. Feed the kittens. Fill out the pool membership application and write a check. Get a snack for Babygirl. We finally leave the house at about 10:15 a.m.

We arrive at the pool and it's sprinkling. No matter. We aren't made of brown sugar. We won't melt. We eat pancakes and eggs and sausage. The rain stops. The kids decide to roll down the grassy hill. Except Babygirl. She runs.

We leave at 11:00. I have to pick up Babygirl and carry her to the car while she shrieks and kicks and cries. She likes the pool, I guess. We are home a short time and my husband arrives home, too. I realize that I don't need to make lunch because the boys just ate pancakes. I change YoungestBoy's clothes and at 11:45 a.m., take him to the birthday party. Mr. Over-Protective Husband advises me to check out the party house. "Be sure there aren't three 'uncles' lurking around," he says. I roll my eyes.

Noon. I drop off YoungestBoy at the party.
12:30 p.m. I go upstairs to nurse Babygirl before her nap.
1:00 p.m. Mission accomplished. Babygirl is asleep. Husband is also asleep. I tell him I'm going to the grocery store. I have a short list, a handful of coupons and I shop fast. By 1:45 p.m., I'm back in the car, heading to pick up YoungestBoy from the party. He had a great time! His good little group of buddies were at the party. He was red-cheeked and happy.
2:00 p.m. Arrive home. Tell husband I'm taking the boys to the pool to swim. He looks at me like I've clearly lost my mind. But the boys want to swim, even though it is sprinkling off and on and about 60 degrees. The water is heated, after all.

At the pool, TwinBoyB immediately takes the swimming test--he swims the length of the pool to the satisfaction of the life guards. YoungestBoy wants to dive off the diving board, so I tell him he needs to take the swimming test, too. He seems tired and bobs a lot in the water and once comes to the edge of the pool--I don't think he actually realized he was being tested. When he got to the edge of the pool, the lifeguard (a new girl with freckles) shook her head "no." He didn't pass! This is the boy who can dive 10 feet to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a penny, the kid who swims like a fish.

He was crushed. He swam back under the rope, though, and continued his underwater acrobatics. He practiced swimming with his arms whirling above his head. Then, while playing a chasing kind of game with his brothers, he bashed his head into the side of the pool and gave himself a lump on the back of the head. He came out of the pool, crying and I wrapped him in towels and hugs while tears rolled down his face. He was upset about the lump, but also upset about not passing the swim test. "Mom," he said, "I feel like I'm a bad person. I will never pass the test!"

I watched TwinBoy, too, with an aching heart. He is not a good swimmer. In fact, he doesn't really swim. His arms and legs are just not in sync with his brain and he cannot propel himself through the water. Besides that, he does not like dunking his head under water. He comes up sputtering every time. But he wants to play water-basketball with the other boys and the hoop is just on the other side of the rope. I watched him hugging a basketball under water, floating on it, and gazing at the kids on the other side of the rope. Seldom do you see such a stark picture of a kid who is not included. Usually, the rope is invisible. I hope he can learn to swim this summer. He did shoot a few baskets, but when the ball doesn't float back within reach, he can't retrieve it.

After YoungestBoy calmed down and decided to go back into the pool, I sat shivering because my jeans were wet from hugging soaking him. I tried to read an old Vanity Fair magazine (I'm so behind--this one was never opened, from December 2003), but mostly I watched the kids swim.

We left at 3:45 p.m. and the second I got home, Babygirl ran to me and insisted that I hold her. My husband left to run errands (pick up dry-cleaning, wash car) and I felt so annoyed! Even when he's home--when he's not working--he never seems to stick around! So, I had to cook dinner with a nosy, pesky toddler in my arms and underfoot. We had tacos--hard and soft--and I had to laugh secretly because my boys raved about the "meat" I cooked. It wasn't meat at all, but a ground beef substitute called "Morningstar Grillers."

My husband returned while we were eating dinner. Then he mowed the lawn. Finally finished, he decided to take Babygirl for a car-ride so I could practice music for church tomorrow. I sat at the piano and went over the songs while the kids make a big racket behind me.

Then TwinBoyA said, "Mom! Mom!" I turned and looked and there was YoungestBoy, sitting upright, legs crossed, head completely drooping sideways. Sound asleep. I took two pictures and then my husband returned and laid him in TwinBoyA's bed. He slept until 8:30 p.m., and was awake and off-kilter until 10:30 p.m.

Now, this is what you call really, really tired.  Posted by Hello

My husband and I watched "The Restaurant" on television. I read the newest Vanity Fair while I watched television. My husband was teasing me about it because this is the issue that features Brad Pitt on the cover and much ado was made about nothing (his naked photos inside). I told him, "I only read this for the articles." At the moment, I was reading about Stephen Hawking, eminent scientist who is trying to figure out the origin and purpose of the universe.

And now, it's past 11 p.m.

Everyone is asleep. I never finished all the dinner dishes, nor have I put all my music for tomorrow in a notebook. I have no idea what I'll wear to church tomorrow, but right now--right now--I'm going to put a chicken in the crockpot and go to sleep.

Saturday sure ain't what it used to be. (I remember when it was a day of leisure. Now, that memory seems like a lie.)

Friday, May 28, 2004

Buddha: The Finger

Perhaps I just haven't gotten out of the house enough recently (although I did manage to shop at Old Navy--it's flip-flop season for the kids--and Target before taking YoungestBoy to the public library this morning before kindergarten). Even so, this news report about Buddha's finger being on display in Hong Kong just tickled my funny bone.

HONG KONG, China (AP) -- Beijing is lending Hong Kong one of the Buddha's fingers for public display, but critics have belittled the move as a political gesture to soothe anger over China's recent decision ruling out full democracy in Hong Kong.

"This is part of China's propaganda exercise," said pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.

"Beijing is trying to get close to Hong Kong people and cool the heated political atmosphere."

The relic, held in a bulletproof glass box, was flown in Tuesday afternoon -- just in time for the Buddha's birthday celebrations here Wednesday. It will be shown for 10 days in this largely Buddhist territory. . .

. . . Saffron-robed monks escorted the finger off an airplane that brought it from Xianyang in Shaanxi province. It was transferred onto a truck decorated in gold paneling and lotus flowers as a band played welcoming music.

Senior monks prayed and sounded horns before the finger was driven to an exhibition venue.

Buddha died about 483 B.C. After his cremation, some historians believe his bones were saved by Indian monks and that a few pieces were brought to China later.

The finger bone to be displayed in Hong Kong was among Buddhist relics discovered in an underground shelter at Famen Temple near the ancient capital of Xian in central China in 1987.

A senior Communist Party official, Liu Yandong, was set to officiate at an opening ceremony for the finger's display from Wednesday through June 4. The relic is believed to bring peace and luck.

Now, far be it from me to belittle another faith, but come on. People are swooning over this dead man's finger. I don't get it. How does a dead man's finger bring anyone peace and luck?

Sincerely yours,
Skeptical Mel

Thursday, May 27, 2004


My baby seems better today. No sign of any illness whatsoever.

My husband sat by the bedside of yet another dying man today. This man was 72. I can't remember what he died from, but my husband drove the widow home and then came home a little after dinnertime. Poo husband fell asleep before 8:30 p.m. He's emotionally drained from taking care of so many grieving people and preaching funerals back to back.

My daycare baby is going with his parents to Georgia for five days. I will have a break--which is hilarious considering I now think of a break as days when I "only" have four kids to take care of.

The pool opens Saturday. YoungestBoy, especially, is excited. TwinBoyA loves the pool mostly for the "Snack Shack." He plans to "work" at the Snack Shack this summer to earn money. They earn a pittance, but he's jazzed about it.

We've had two days of rain. Being the Old Woman that I am, I am so thrilled that the rains came just a day after I planted my flower bulbs and wildflower seeds. Now, one more day of rain and then it must stop so YoungestBoy can swim at the pool on Saturday. He's going to have a great day--he was invited to a birthday party on Saturday, too. I love the earnest enthusiasm of a six year old. I wish I could stick him in a jar and preserve him.

TwinBoyA has been unusually cooperative and sweet lately, which makes me nervous. TwinBoyB waited until the last minute tonight to write a speech on Martin Luther King, Jr., which made me want to bang my head on the computer keyboard.

I am tired.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Irrational Thoughts

Here is my train of thought upon realizing that my daughter is feverish.

Oh no. She feels warm. She probably just has a virus. I hope it passes quickly. That explains my aching head. I probably have it, too. I wonder if her head hurts? Wouldn't it be horrible if this doesn't pass quickly and if it actually turns out to be cancer? She has been clutching her knees and saying "ow." Maybe she has bone cancer. My friends' daughter had bone cancer when she was 12 and she died. My grandpa died from bone cancer. That's a horrible way to die. But Babygirl is too little. Then again, she can't tell me if her legs really do hurt. If she died, I would curl up on my bed and never come out of my room. People would understand. But my other kids would still need me. Boy, look at that rain. I wonder if my kids would think I didn't love them as much if I fell apart after Babygirl's death? I would have to carry on so they would be all right. Oh, I would totally love to take to my bed for a month. On the other hand, if I didn't have this baby, I could go to school and work as an RN. You know, the youth pastor and his wife will be making more money than we are since they'll both be working. I wonder what it would be like to have enough money? Why didn't I work more before I had kids? I was in such a hurry to be a mother. Someday, I'll work again and then I will shop. A lot. Is it almost nap-time? I wonder if I should give Babygirl a Tylenol suppository? Nah, fevers are good. It just shows that she's fighting an infection. I hope she sleeps for two hours. Oh, look, her eyelids are drooping. I can't wait until naptime.

I Need A Room for One, Please

Yesterday, Babygirl woke up early from her nap, but she went back to sleep. That was the first sign.

This morning, she woke up at 6:30 a.m., a full hour earlier than her usual time.

Throughout the morning, she was very clingy and crabby. She has taken after me, I'm afraid, and is sullen and apt to give dirty looks to anyone who is too chipper first thing in the morning. We hate mornings. But, this went beyond our usual slow start. She only wanted to sit on my lap and nurse and she didn't want breakfast. Then I noticed she felt warm.

She is sick. And furthermore, I have a headache I can't shake, despite ibuprofen and caffeine. I guess I'm sick, too, though I refuse to embrace it. She's napping and I hope she naps a good two hours.

I think she caught this from DaycareKid--last Friday he was out of sorts, red-eyed, crabby and tired. I wiped his nose a few times. But he never became really ill, so I am hoping that we have that sort of not-quite-an-illness.

How sick is it to dream of checking into a hotel alone for a week? These are the fantasies of a housewife.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Here We Go Again

YoungestBoy went on a field trip with his kindergarten class today, so the house is exceptionally quiet. They are going to Northwest Trek to see animals.

My husband's day off is today, but he's working. Boy, I say that a lot. He will officiate at the graveside service for Christine, who died last Tuesday. I can never decide which is worse--to bury someone on a beautiful sunny day, like today, to on a stormy, rainy day, which seems more appropriate to me.

Babygirl is laying on the floor, under her blanket, watching Sesame Street. DaycareKid fell asleep with his blanket in his mouth, so I took it away and stood him up. It's not nap-time! It's only 10:50 a.m.--they haven't had lunch yet.

When I finished weeding out my biggest flowerbed yesterday, I planted daylillies and dahlias and wild-flower seeds and then turned on the sprinkler. My mom arrived and sat in the backyard with me and tried to befriend Babygirl. When she left, the boys decided to run in the sprinkler. We have the kind that goes up and down, like a lifting waterfall and they would stand in front of it and pretend they were being "scanned" so they could go into an alternate universe.

I watched them shriek and run around and wondered how much longer their childhood will last. When are you too old to run in the sprinkler? When does it stop being fun to get wet on a mildly sunny spring afternoon? When are you too cool to make a fool of yourself in the backyard? I sat and watched all four of my kids playing together--Babygirl was timidly running her fingers through the water-spray--and then got out the video camera to capture the moment.

YoungestBoy is my camera hog and he was in fine form. He kept appearing in the viewfinder, waving and saying "hi!" When the twins went inside, and I focused on Babygirl, he got right in front of her and started to dance. I tried to not giggle, but I couldn't help myself. He's at a chubby stage right now and he's a hysterically funny, enthusiastic and horrible dancer. He even reaches down to touch the ground occasionally and kind of hops his feet up in the air as if he's a gravity-bound gymnast. Today when I showed my husband the video, I laughed so hard I had to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Sometimes I think that my life would have been so much simpler if we'd only had the twins, but simple is not always better. Complicated, chaotic, and messy is a whole lot more fun. I get to enjoy childhood just that much longer, even if only from the sidelines in my old lawn chair. Just don't expect me to run through the sprinkler.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Babygirl: The reason we went through so much toilet paper last year.  Posted by Hello

I am sitting here on a rainy Saturday, wasting time until I can put the baby to sleep for her nap and wishing my three boys would stop picking at each other and tattling to me--even though I am right here. My husband will be gone all day officiating at a funeral and then doing premarital counseling and then working on his sermon.


Okay. But I think back to last year at this time and Babygirl wasn't even walking yet and she certainly wasn't talking yet and furthermore, she wasn't sleeping through the night yet. She reminds me of how quickly time passes. She demands that I be present, even when I am trying my best to curl up inside my head and think.

Thinking's over-rated anyway. Who wants lunch?

Friday, May 21, 2004

A Comment on Iraq

I normally do not comment on political issues here.

But this paragraph from my newspaper today deserves mention: "Kasim Mehaddi Hilas told investigators that when he first arrived at Abu Ghraib last year, he was forced to strip, put on a hood and wear rose-colored panties with flowers on them. 'Most of the days I was wearing nothing else,' he said in his statement."

What an outrage! Get the guy some better underpants! How about days-of-the-week panties? Thongs? Low-cut bikinis? French cut briefs? Something with little hearts? "I 'heart' the USA," for example.

Seriously. Really. I can't believe that the goons who perpetrated the abuses in the Iraqi prison were so stupid that they videotaped it and photographed it. They should be discharged immediately for complete idiocy and then spend a lot of time in prison or in a school which teaches imbeciles common sense. Then, they should be banned from using cameras, video and print, for life.

And, they should have to wear rose-colored underpants until they die. With flowers. That'll teach them!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Baby Beauty Queen

On one of those evening entertainment shows (they all look alike to me), the Bravo (the channel) mother of a four-year old beauty pageant contestant said, "The pageants have helped her to, definitely, become a person."

Just make up your own sarcastic comment here. I'm too tired.

He Ought To Be A Lawyer

TwinBoyB (left), TwinBoyA (front and center), YoungestBoy (right, trying to get into the picture).  Posted by Hello

Earlier this evening, I was sitting in the back yard with Babygirl while she put sand in her hair.

Then TwinBoyB flung open the sliding glass door and announced, "Mom! He called me a jackass!" He actually seemed a little pleased, happy, smug, but he is a tattler-extraordinaire.

"HEY! Come here!"

TwinBoyA came with his hand raised like an attorney approaching the bench. "Mom, I meant donkey! Technically, that means donkey, you know!"

My boy has been reading too much again. Or succumbing to peer pressure.

I practiced "Active Listening," and then I explained that in 2004, we cannot call people "jackass" because it's not polite. Teaching children to use polite language is almost an exercise in futility, but I will persist. At least in my house, they will not use crass language.

When I was a child, my dad used the f-word. Once. Only once in my whole life did I hear him use that word . . . and I can remember his face, I remember the sentence, I remember his fury. I had been riding with my mother in her car and we encountered his vehicle coming toward us on the road. We pulled over into a parking lot to talk and then he accused my mother of trying to, shall we say, "ruin" his Christmas by inviting my brother to her house. Now, my brother and father were estranged and we were used to having to shuffle back and forth on the holidays (since my mom and dad divorced).

But he had expected my brother and my sisters and I to be at his house at Christmas. He had not communicated well, though, and a misunderstanding resulted and he was infuriated. I was completely shocked, horrified and devastated. I hated conflict and this, this word stunned me. I can still feel his anger like a heavy stone in my belly.

He taught me that people who use vulgar language do so because they lack a strong vocabulary. I've always believed so and even now, even when I read curse words in mainstream magazines (Vanity Fair, for instance), my eyes still feel seared and I kind of cringe.

So, please, go wash out your mouth with soap before you leave comments here. Thank you.

Here I am, in college. I know. You probably had a lot of friends in college just like me, only prettier!  Posted by Hello

An Entry By Jennifer, My Guest Columnist

My friend, Jennifer, used to have a blog, but for various reasons, she deleted it. Because this story is worth a blog entry, I invited her to be my special Guest Columnist. Here is her story:

This morning, I realized that I was out of a few essentials....soymilk, juice, diaper wipes, and hand sanitizer. Yes, when you have 3 young children who touch and lick every germ infested surface, hand sanitizer is an essential.

Around 10am, I packed up my 2 youngest boys, Alex and Ben, and off we went to our local discount market. Bob's is the kind of place where someone who doesn't have to budget, wouldn't be caught dead shopping in. Most of the products are bought at reduced warehouse prices by Bob himself, then shelved and priced drastically below grocery store average. The store itself is clean but fairly disorganized. The aisles are narrow and the shopping carts are rusted leftovers of bankrupt enterprises.

My system is to put Ben in the seat of the cart and have Alex in the basket. Today Alex insisted he walk. To keep him occupied and attentative, I gave him my written list of 4 items to hold. We proceed down the chip aisle to get to the dairy section. Imagine this; The aisle runs along the length of the store and 8 aisles dump out into the chip aisle. It is the only access route to the rest of the store. So in other words, it's a traffic jam of carts and shoppers.

I am standing near the Cheetos when an elderly woman and her lady friend pull out of the dish rag aisle and stop me dead in my tracks. I am not paying much attention as I am trying to control my 3yr old son. He is weaving and running, lagging behind and dancing. I am calling out to Alex to, "come here NOW," and waiting for this woman to move her cart. I force a smile and ask her to excuse me. She doesn't hear. I inch forward alittle. Turn around, yell at Alex again to come here. He comes at the same time she notices me and decides to move herself. Alex dives out of her way. I shoot her a dirty look. I pick him up off the floor. She strikes up a conversation with her lady friend about the the marigolds on sale. I dust my son off and growl. I can't move forward because her lady friend is in front of me....I cant move backwards because the woman's cart is jammed up against me. I notice the list is missing and search the floor for it. Alex spots it and jumps behind me to grab it off the floor. Unfortunately the list is right next to the old lady's cart wheel. She starts to move...Alex reaches down, I yell, STOP! Her reflexes are rather slow and she runs over his fingers...then stops. She turns to me with a nervous smile. A smile? "What the heck?! You ran over his fingers!" She apologizes profusely as I stand there shaking my head and repeating over and over again, "What is wrong with you?" Alex isn't even fact, I am not sure he realized what happened. The woman appears as if she is about to cry when I realize what I am saying outloud. I start to cry because I see that she is about to cry. I cry, she cries. Again, she apologizes and her lady friend, who is tearing up also, grabs her arm to support her. I feel like a passive aggressive monster. I try to convince her I was asking myself, "what is wrong with me?" We become a mass of fleshy tears jammed in a 4 foot wide aisle. The only one not crying is Alex because Ben started to cry when I yelled, "STOP!" the first time.

The irritated patrons behind us finally insisted we move along and I avoided the elderly ladies the rest of the shopping trip. On the way to the car, I saw the marigolds for sale on the sidewalk and kicked a pot of them over. It was their fault anyways.


Premenstrual Syndrome At Its Finest

My husband has been working really long days. So have I. And yet, even though I clean my kitchen, it never looks clean. I ran out of dishwasher liquid because he is never home at night so I can get to the store. Yesterday, I rewashed all the dishes in the dishwasher and put them in to dry, then washed all the dishes from the night before. And there were still dirty dishes.

And then we had dinner. I left the mess in the kitchen, supervised the boys because they had to leave at 6:20 p.m. for church. Then I concentrated on playing with the baby and cleaning her and putting her in her pajamas. At 7:30 p.m., she was ready for bed, but I needed to wait and let the boys in and instruct them to get ready for bed because if I did not, they would just play Nintendo until their eyeballs fell out.

At 7:55, the phone rings. It's TwinBoyA relaying some frivolous information about the movie plans for tonight. But at least I know he's at church and will be home soon. I put the baby to bed at 8 p.m. Husband returns at 8:02 p.m. and wonders where the boys are. I tell them they will be home very soon and sure enough, they come home moments later.

I say the same things over and over again. Stop playing Nintendo. Put on your pajamas. If you want a snack, it's now or never. If you want to watch television, it's time. At 8:30, you are going to bed. Stop yelling. Okay. You can play Nintendo, but you have only fourteen minutes. Stop being annoying. Okay, five minutes. While I'm saying all this, I'm at the computer, biding my time, waiting until they go to bed because I have work to do.

Earlier in the afternoon, in a fit of greed and delusion, I agreed to do a transcription job that had to be finished by morning. Al estimated it would be 24 to 32 pages. That translates to about three hours.

Then while standing in the kitchen, my husband said it.

"Well, I'm glad to see that the kitchen is a mess as usual and that the house is a wreck. Someday, dear, you'll wear make-up again and a dress and everything, right?"

I didn't hear everything, though, because at that point I jumped up, hurdled the iron railing between the family room and kitchen and decked him. Then I sat on him until he couldn't breathe, which, at my current weight, only took a few moments, and pummeled him with my dishwater hands.

Oh. Wait. Maybe I only imagined that part.

After he commented about the condition of my house--the house I haven't left for 72 stinking hours--I stood up and told the boys it was bedtime. I allowed them to finish "just one more thing." Then I picked up a few things in the family room, mouth in a tight, grim line and tried not to stomp.

My husband asked what time Shrek starts today. (He's taking YoungestBoy. And furthermore, we're letting YoungestBoy skip school to go to a movie. Boy, I wish I was my own kid.) I answered in an even voice, not making eye contact. I said, "Let me look," and went into the kitchen to check out the listing in the paper.

Now, my husband, being brighter than the average bear, says, "Hey, are you mad? If I can't joke around with you, then I just won't say anything again."

I said, choking back tears, "It's fine. I just have PMS."

Then I told him the movie times.

Then I typed.

While I was typing, I heard him in the kitchen rinsing dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. Of course, I should have told him that I have no dishwasher liquid, but I was too angry that he was doing the dishes because doing the dishes is my job and his actions commented silently to me, "YOU ARE A HORRIBLE FAILURE AS A HOUSEWIFE! WHY, OH, WHY, DIDN'T I STAY IN TEXAS WHERE WOMEN KNOW HOW TO TREAT THEIR MEN?" When he finished loading the dishwasher, he said, "Where's the dishwasher liquid?" I said, "I'm out." He said, "Well, I just loaded the dishwasher." (Which, by the way, took him at least three times longer than it takes me.) I said, "Yeah, well, I guess I'll have to rewash them by hand as I need them." Before he went upstairs, he brought me a big, cold glass of water and pretzels for a snack.

I finally finished typing at 11:35 p.m. I would have finished earlier, but my stupid word-processor gave me an error message and warned me, ever so sweetly, that I might lose the unsaved material I had. That was five pages, gone in a poof!


Today, I am $68 richer and my house is still a wreck. I've just baked and eaten chocolate chip cookies, though, with the last half-bag of chocolate chips that I own. Only two hours until naptime. I'm pretty sure I can make it until then, unless, of course, someone comments on my housekeeping skills or washes dishes for me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

At Some Point, Things Will Get Better

Monday, my husband's day off, he was gone from 9:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. J_____ had a heart attack and died around noon. The funeral will be on Saturday.

Tuesday, my husband worked from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. He spent the afternoon and evening at the home of a middle-aged woman who was dying of cancer. Five minutes after he left, she died. He figured she was waiting to die until she was alone with her family. That seemed to be the case. She leaves behind a husband and two teenagers. The funeral will be on Sunday.

Tonight, he will head back to assist the family with funeral arrangements. He'll probably be home at 8 p.m.

This means that I have been on full-time duty for . . . well, it seems like forever. He takes the kids to school, but I've been doing everything else. I am so weary. And there really is no end is sight, which makes the journey seem even more grueling.

And then, I think how grateful I should be for my health and the health of my family and all that. So, I am grateful. Weary, but grateful.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Like Me, Only Prettier

When I was in college, I knew a boy named Ron. Well, I knew several boys named Ron and when I say "knew," I do not mean in the biblical sense. Anyway, I remember first seeing Ron in the cafeteria when he was a brand new student. He was blond and attractive and he was collecting old baked potatoes from people's trays. He found this wildly funny and I found it wildly weird. But he was cute.

As time went on, we connected somehow. I was "taken" already--having committed to a relationship with my now-husband--so I was a safe partner to just hang out with. (My boyfriend lived in another town, three hours away.) He knew I wouldn't get any ideas about dating him since I was off the market. I was happy to just laugh at this wacky boy.

I remember mostly riding in his red car, going to the ice cream parlor. I remember how amazed he was that I was a virgin.

And I remember very clearly the conversation we had one day in the cafeteria. At one point, he said something like this:

Ron: I just wish I could find a girl who is really smart and really funny. Someone who can make me laugh and who likes to have fun.
Me: (Half-joking) Oh, you mean someone like me? Only prettier?
Ron: Yes! (Relieved that I understand.)

The thing is, those kind of back-handed compliments used to really hurt my feelings. But the older I get and the saggier my eyelids become, the more grateful I am that I always treated myself first as a really smart, funny girl. I always felt I had a secret when male eyes would flit over my unremarkable face, overlooking me in favor of my Beauty Queen friends.

The secret is this--if you could actually read, you wouldn't judge this book by its cover, you idiot!

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Final Update

Husband returns home at 7 p.m. and is ambushed by YoungestBoy asking, "Can we go down and see our kittens?"

The kittens that we promised the neighbor we would adopt.

They return twenty minutes later and YoungestBoy says, "We are going to get the mama cat and two kittens." Husband looks at me and says, "Mom and I have to talk about it."

Later, YoungestBoy says, "We have to get the mama cat and the kittens so that the kittens don't run away back to find their mama."

Husband raises eyebrows at me. Apparently, we are soon to be the proud owners of three cats. Yes, count them. One. Two. Three. One for each of the boys, I guess.

(Remember, husband said "no more cats." Of course, that same night he got the Chinese fortune cookie that said, "Someone will give you something." Who said fortunes don't come true?)

An Update

My husband came home for a short time and told me that J____ had stabilized. Unfortunately, not for long and my husband returned to the hospital. He just called me to say that the man died.

I think of his wife, now a widow. She did CPR on him this morning to keep him alive until the ambulance came.

They were married a long, long time. They liked to square-dance until she hurt her back. They raised children and doted on their grandchildren. For fun, they took their huge R.V. on vacations, when they weren't going on cruises. He served in World War II. None of this will be a comfort to her right now, but I hope that as the days pass, the memories of their happy life together will surround her like a soft hug.

(DaycareKid went down for his nap at 1 p.m. as usual. Babygirl is awake. It's going to be a long time until 8 p.m.!)

Monday, Monday

My husband is a pastor. So, he takes off Mondays. I think he feels guilty about taking a day off when I don't ever have a day off, so between naps, he tries to do things to help me. Before he started his Superdad/Superhusband Day, he decided to go have a nice quiet breakfast in a restaurant and read.

Here at the homefront, the phone rings and a crying, hysterical voice says, "I'm trying to reach Pastor. This is C____ W_________. J_______ just had a heart attack and they are taking him to the hospital." I tell her all right, I'll give him the message. Call his cell phone. No answer. Call the restaurant and the woman checked with every solitary man there ("does he have an earring?" Uh, no!). He wasn't there. He arrived home shortly and I gave him the message and off he went.

So, he will not be taking YoungestBoy to play at the park and hit some balls.
He will not be taking Babygirl for a walk.
He probably will not be mailing that package for me at the post office.

And this day just keeps getting stranger. I ran YoungestBoy some bathwater and when I returned downstairs, I found Babygirl asleep on the floor. At 11 a.m. Then I went into the boys' room to sweep and when I returned to the family room, DaycareKid was all curled up facing Babygirl. Asleep.

They did not have lunch yet. Their naptime isn't until 1 p.m.

Apparently, today is a test of my flexibility. I may not be able to do a backbend anymore, but I sure can swing with the punches!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Garage Sale Signs Put Up By Idiots

Will someone please tell the idiots who put up the sign that read "7-Family Garage Sale" that I did three u-turns trying to find the garage sale?

It helps if the signs actually direct people (with money in their purse, ready to spend) to your garage sale.

I did find have success at one garage sale, though. I bought a Playskool "Sit'n Spin" which is 30 years old, though it looks brand new. Babygirl can't quite figure out how to spin around, but she does swing from side to side and say "wheeeeee!"

YoungestBoy had a baseball game schedule for 10 a.m. and when he arrived at 9:40 a.m., it was just ending. The coach called my husband's work number, late, after he left work yesterday to notify him on the time change.

Are people trying to annoy me?

By the way, Babygirl has started yelling "Mom!" at me, usually from another room. It's lovely how advanced the youngest child of the family is.

And now, only fifteen minutes until bedtime, thank heavens, or I might actually bash my head into my brick fireplace until I fall unconscious.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Look Out!

I can only hope that no boys are reading this. And by boys, I mean anyone who has a penis, no matter how old. I like to refer to the male human as a boy. My propensity to do this used to really annoy the colllege boys, but I can't help it. If I'm a girl--which I am--then they are boys.

All that to say that this upcoming week will be that glorious time when I turn into the Evil Mel. I will be looking into the corners of the cupboards in search of something even remotely cookie-like. I will probably stomp my feet at least once and scream, "THIS IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!" I will think I am ugly and fat and, don't bother telling me differently, I will know that you are lying to me because I do have a mirror, by the way, and don't be condescending to me. I will cry for no reason. I might grit my teeth so hard that they ache. And don't lie and say that avoiding chocolate helps premenstual syndrome. I know better. And no, I won't share. Give me those M&Ms back.

It doesn't matter that I am aware of my cycles and these patterns. I will just be irrational. I will probably pick a fight with the women on the message board where I hang out. I will stub my toe on a shoe and scream out, much louder than necessary, just because I have so little self-control. I will seriously consider whacking off all my hair because it is so hideous and unstyleable.

Of course, my husband has gone to visit a woman who is dying and tomorrow he's taking YoungestBoy to a baseball game at 10 a.m. and then he has some volunteer work to do at the pool and then he'll have to visit the dying woman again. And that means I will be in this house, with these kids, for an entire Saturday again, so help me God.

So if you hear some shrieking and some foot-stomping, don't worry. That's just me enjoying my womanhood. Now look away.

This won't be pretty.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Why Anne Lamott Makes Me Want to Cry

A miracle occurred today. I attended an Anne Lamott lecture, the lecture that has been sold out for months. Only, a friend of ours found out that a teacher had gone home sick today and that teacher donated her ticket to my cause. And I didn't even have to pay.

I had seriously considered lurking outside of the building, sneaking inside, nonchalantly pretending I had a ticket. Or something. But God smiled down on me and preventing me from breaking the law and got me a free ticket.

The college student who introduced her read an introduction that was lifted directly from a book jacket or something. I recognized it. When she walked in carrying a big leather bag and her sweater, I wanted to cry. I felt like some fourteen year old girl swooning at a Clay Aiken concert. The entire room--150 of us--applauded as if she'd already done something amazing.

And she had, really. She wrote books. She writes books. That's amazing, no matter how you look at it.

She wore black. A black t-shirt. Faded black jeans. Sensible black shoes. But a foresty-green headband on her dreadlocked hair and a matching greenish scrunchy holding the back into a crazy ponytail. She put on her sweater and said "I get hot, I get cold." And then she took it off.

She read ten pages of her new book. Ten pages about Sam, her now-14 year old boy, a boy who sounded so much like my own boys, like my Shane specifically, with his propensity to whack bushes with a big stick. I laughed in recognition and comfort. (She also mentioned at one point how being at home with a baby is so boring that you want to hang yourself. That is so true some days.)

After she read, she talked about writing, about the process. I've read her books and I know. I know what to do, I know how to do it. I just don't do it. I don't write because I can't see the whole road--and she pointed out that all you really need to see is what is in the headlights. You can make an entire journey in the dark, following the illumination of just the headlights.

Then she took questions, but only a few. They were excellent questions, but I wanted to know the following things:

1) Favorite authors, favorite books.
2) What first? An agent? A publisher? How do you actually get someone to say "yes" to your novel?
3) Will you write for Salon again?

I also wanted to tell her that my dad died, too, when I was in my early twenties. "Hard Laughter" spoke to my heart. I wanted to tell her that I have boys who smell and brandish sticks like swords and that some days I am so bored I want to climb out of the bedroom window on a rope of tied-together-bedsheets. I wanted to tell her about the miraculous way I got a ticket, thanks to Beth Stevens' illness. But all I did tell her at the book-signing afterwards was, "You are the only author I ever wrote a fan letter to." And she smiled and said, "Well, I'm sure that I would have lifted it up for a blessing, but I never answer letters anymore." And I smiled and took my book and went home.

I had a fantasy on my way to the lecture that she and I would go out for coffee and chat and she'd definitely want to be my New Best Friend. But she mentioned during her talk that she hates to travel. She hates to mingle. She likes to be alone. She has a boyfriend, a son and about four good friends, but other than that, she doesn't like to leave her house. She certainly does not like to eat with anyone.

And, of course, neither do I. So, she doesn't want to be my New Best Friend, but that's not why she makes me want to cry. She makes me want to cry because she makes me feel normal, validated, uncrazy. She's a little farther along the path than I, and I can see her bobbing lantern up ahead in the dark and it gives me assurance that there is a path and not just a drop off in the dark.

As an aside, I noticed shoes tonight. Several women were wearing these shoes that reminded me of bowling shoes crossed with "earth shoes", like the blue suede ones I wore in fifth grade that had the toe higher than the heel, so you were kind of tipped backwards on your feet at all times. And I thought, I need to get out more because apparently fashions have changed while I've been wearing my red Keds.


I finished typing a 72-page statement for Al, my private investigator boss. Although just saying "private investigator" sounds all glamorous and exciting--involving, perhaps, stake-outs and hidden microphones and gunfights--Al investigates worker's compensation claims. In this case, he took a statement from a 72-year old former truck-driver regarding his hearing loss. ("What?" Oh, excuse me, that's my dad's old joke.)

The funniest thing I ever heard while typing for Al was the time he was interviewing a burly, Harley-Davidson-riding, construction worker. All of the sudden, Al says, "What type of work did you do, sweetheart?" to the guy. Silence. Then a little nervous laughter. I guffawed and rewound the tape so I could laugh more. Then I played it for my husband. Then I mocked Al and laughed harder.

Anyway, this most recent guy said he was in the Army Reserves in the 1950s. In the summers, he would report for duty in Eastern Washington and his unit would build a bridge over a gully or canyon. Then, another unit would come and blow it up. He said, "That just about broke my heart."

Huh. Tax-payers' dollars at work. Although, I've been puzzling over that and I guess that's probably the most logical way to learn bridge-building and demolition.

I just had a telephone call from Barb, a church woman we know. She works at the college where Anne Lamott is appearing tonight. Last Friday I saw the notice in the newspaper, advertising tickets for $20 and when I called on Monday, I was informed that this even thas been sold out for months.

Well. Then why was it in the newspaper? Huh? Huh? Tell me that! Al (the private investigator) tried to call in a favor and get me a ticket. No dice. So, my husband thinks of this woman at church who works at the college. He called her today and she has a ticket for me! I feel like a stalker or something because I was seriously thinking about going and lurking outside the auditorium with hopes that I might sneak into the building. The only catch is that the appearance is not on the campus near my house (just a few miles away), but in another town probably half an hour away.


Yesterday, a set of twin boys came over to play with my twin boys. They played basketball for awhile, but then disappeared around the corner of the house. When I finally investigated, I found them trying to use a small magnifying glass to start a fire. They had very carefully constructed a cement block fireplace, used newspapers and had dry leaves ready to add. "But Mom, we weren't trying to start a fire!" TwinBoyB has successfully created flames in the backyard already--a few weeks back--but with a giant dinner-plate sized magnifying glass that was my dad's. I immediately confiscated it. I remember trying to start fire myself with that magnifying glass and trying to sear insects. Still. I am a kill-joy. A party-pooper. There will be no campfires in my backyard.

It kind of reminded me of when the twin boys were over and all five boys created a potion by peeing into a bucket.

Kindergarten Program
YoungestBoy could not be more "look-at-me-look-at-me" outgoing. During the kindergarten program Tuesday night, he was completely animated, bobbing his head to the songs. When the audience applauded, he pursed his lips and did a little "golf-clap." I was so happy I video-taped him. Also, I saved the day for the mom standing next to me. The program was about to start and she pulled out a tape and said to her husband, "Oh no! I'm out of tape!" I said, "Hey, do you want a new one?" I happened to have a brand new, never-opened spare tape. I love it when I can do that sort of Supermom thing. Turns out that it was Brian's mom. We met before on the day of YoungestBoy's birthday party because Brian came to YoungestBoy's party--and then vice versa because they share the same birthday.

Stupid Starting Over Girl

I mentioned previously my addiction to "Starting Over," the reality day-time television show. Josie gave birth. Gushed over how she was so happy because she was the only one who could feed her baby. Then, the next thing I know, the baby has a bottle in its mouth. I hate that I've become so zealous about breastfeeding, but honestly. You're poor, you have nothing, but you do have breastmilk. Use it. Dingbat.

Dinner Plans
It's Thursday. What does that mean? It means I have forgotten to figure out what to cook for dinner. This also means that my husband will be extra-hungry, because on the previous days this week when I actually made a decent dinner, he was full. That's how it works around here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

When I Say "Jump", You Say, "No!"

See this?

This is a metaphor for the relationship between my twin boys. TwinBoyB is the jumper, the instigator, the rabble-rouser. TwinBoyA is the receiver of the jumping. And this reaction remains the same as it did when he was three years old:

I Cringe When I See . . .

1) Men's feet in sandals. Hairy toes. Enough said.
2) The boys' toilet.
3) Some unidentifiable mushy, stinky object in the refrigerator vegetable drawer.
4) Photographs of myself.
5) The electric and water bill.

What do you see that makes you cringe? I'm sure more things will come to mind now that I've begun this train of thought.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Scraping Off the Wallpaper

I've been fiddling with a new look since has updated its features. I can't decide and will probably have to customize a bit. But what do you think? Pink? Green? I think perhaps green.

You know what I hate? I have a few blogs I read every day. I'm breathlessly following along the various real-life tales: the bitchy pregnant mom who's having a c-section tomorrow, the single mom with two kids who was sleeping with her boss, the career-gals who have boyfriends and interesting weekends, the breathless teenage girl who was toying with bulimia and fretting about her boyfriend (now her ex-boyfriend). And then, boom! I click on my link and they have disappeared.

Hey, no fair! You can't just disappear. How will I ever know if Olivia got Xander back or if she came to her senses? How will I know if the office worker stopped sleeping with her boss and found True Love? You can't just delete your blog after I'm hooked on your Reality.

Back to my real life. Which includes the Kindergarten Spring Program tonight. I can't wait.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Repeating Myself

This afternoon, I began a witty retelling of my weekend adventures. But I didn't have time to finish, so I saved it as a draft. Which has disappeared. Drat and double-drat.

So, I begin again.

Friday Night
I attended my usual Young Couples Bible Study, which makes me feel like an outsider, since I am neither young, nor a couple (since my husband stays home with the kids). But I am under forty and I have a baby, so I weirdly enough belong to this group and it was my turn to bring snacks, so I went. I took brownies. Homemade brownies better than any brownies I've had anywhere else. Not that I'm bragging. But I do make a tasty brownie. We discussed the movie "The Passion" and the gospel accounts of the passion, too. Then we ate the brownies.

Afterwards, I went grocery shopping. When I returned home at 10:30 p.m., my husband and children were all asleep and then I stayed up too late instant-messaging on the computer. Silly girl.


YoungestBoy had his third baseball game, although he missed the second game last week because his parents misread the schedule. While my husband took him to the 10:00 a.m. game, I took the remaining three kids to the bank to make a deposit. On the way home, I thought about stopping at garage sales, but decided that possible whining and fit-throwing was a price I was not willing to pay, even to get a bargain.

My husband returned with YoungestBoy at a little past 11 a.m., changed clothes and left again. He went to a Russian wedding and was gone the whole afternoon. While he was gone, TwinBoyB left to play at a friend's house, Babygirl napped and I pretended I wasn't stuck at home on a Saturday afternoon yet again. When Babygirl woke from her nap, I took YoungestBoy and TwinBoyA to the video store to buy a game before TwinBoyA's money burned a hole through his pocket and singed a hole into his actual flesh.

I think the first time I wrote all this, it was a lot more fun. Witty, entertaining, et cetera. Really.

So, Saturday night, my husband arranges to take me out to dinner. After Babygirl went to bed at 8 p.m., we left. This was the beginning conversation in the car as we left our house.

Me: You realize, of course, that when our youngest son realizes Shadow is gone, we'll have to get another cat?

Him: No. No more pets. I don't want any more pets to take care of.

Okay. (Looks out window, avoids arguing, but thinks he will eat his words.)

We went to a Chinese place he'd discovered recently. As we entered, I noticed a prominent sign about Karaoke in the bar. Sure enough, after we ordered, an earnest voice began singing "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore." It was a good thing I wasn't in the bar or I would have thrown maraschino cherries at the crooner. If I'd actually been drinking in the bar, I might have clapped my hand over my mouth in glee or possibly fallen out of my chair with laughter. Oh, it went from bad to worse and I found myself even more amused when the waiter confirmed that, indeed, the singing quality disintegrated as the evening went on and the alcohol flowed. Oh, the mirth! And this entertainment was free.

My husband's fortune from the cookie read, "Someone will give you something." Now. Hold on a second. Someone. Will. Give. You. Something. How can that not come true? My fortune promised good health and a long life, but someone will give my husband . . . something. Woo. Can't wait.

Then, when we finished, I said, "Now, as a test of your spontaneity, how about a movie?" My husband passed this test easily and we were off to see "Laws of Attraction" with Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore.

The movie was inoffensive, predicable, sweet and completely improbable. In what universe would Pierce Brosnan be single and available? Oh, that's right. In the same universe where Julianne Moore is also single, available and not the least bit desperate to be married. This was a movie in which I heard actual swooning in the theater. Did you know swooning is audible? Well, it is. The experience reminded me, though, that I prefer viewing movies alone. Otherwise, I tend to worry what my movie companion thinks about the movie. He liked it, he said. I liked that we went to the movie, more than the movie itself.


Sunday morning, the kids brought toast and a glass of ice water to my bedroom while I was in the shower. I didn't notice it until the toast was cold, but I did eat a bite anyway. They eagerly brought me flowers (purchased according to my instructions by my husband) that I can plant in my garden. Petunias and marigolds and impatiens. Each had made a card at school and my husband bought a funny card, too. TwinBoyA has a female teacher and so he also had a handmade recipe book with recipes from all his classmates' families and a hand-dipped candle. TwinBoyB has a male teacher, so all he had was a hand-written thank you essay.

YoungestBoy was baptized by my husband during church. He has been begging to be baptized for a long time (he views the baptismal tank as a really cool small swimming pool, I think), so my husband agreed finally. YoungestBoy grinned huge when my husband lifted him up so everyone could see him. I took photographs and managed to not shed a tear. Then I went back down to the nursery where it was my turn to be the volunteer in charge.

Sunday afternoon, my husband had to perform a wedding ceremony. So, we had leftovers for lunch, then he went to the church to prepare for the wedding while I put Babygirl down for her nap. The kids were busy playing their new video game, so I had time to read the newspaper and putter around a little. I planted my flowers in the back yard when Babygirl woke up. She helped, except she refused to give up the pot of flowers I asked her to hold. Funny girl.

Last night, my husband says, "Oh, I agreed to accept two kittens from the people down the street."

I said, "Are you kidding?"

He said, "No. They have six kittens that are six weeks old, so I told them we'd take two."

I get an email from mother about my sister, the one who I am never speaking to again because she stole some of my birth pictures, specifically the one where you see the baby emerging from my . . . well, where babies emerge from. My sister lives in Japan and my mom said: Your sister and I did instant messaging last night - she has really been having some bad medical problems and is quite worried. She is leaking blood into her joints, and it is very painful, plus she is purple! She also has bumps on the back of her head, and had 2 seizures at the
hospital Friday. I suggested she fly to the States and get checked out - I'm not sure Japan's medical tests are up to par with ours.
A tiny little part of me thought, "Oh, that serves her right! Blood into her joints! See! That's what you get for stealing naked pictures of your sister giving birth!" Then I immediately repented of my bad thoughts. Kind of. Purple. Ha!

My husband takes Mondays off now, so that's how it happened that he was at home while YoungestBoy was about to eat lunch. He blurts out, "Hey, have you seen Shadow lately? Because I think Shadow ran away to live with his original mom and dad."

YoungestBoy turned red and his face contorted.

My husband rushed on. "But that's okay, because I was thinking, maybe we could get two kittens. Would you like that? Oh, I see you feel sad about Shadow, but that's okay. The neighbor has two kittens and they said we could have them."

I wanted to immediately take YoungestBoy into my arms and make him feel better with a candy bar (what? me? food issues?) but I just busied myself giving lunch to the babies and cleaning out my refrigerator. YoungestBoy was still teary and red after lunch later when I checked on him, but he had stopped crying. Tonight he told me he's going to name the new kittens Fred and George. Unless they are girls.

In last Friday's paper, I came across a notice about an appearance Anne Lamott is making at the local community college. I adore Anne Lamott (especially Operating Instructions and Bird By Bird and Traveling Mercies). I ripped out the notice and called this morning. The tickets for the appearance on Thursday night have been sold out for months. I pictured myself lurking by the door, trying to sneak in. But I may not have to resort to that. A friend of ours was at the house today helping my husband with yard work and he made a phone call to some mucky-muck he knows at the college to see if he could get me a ticket. Now I wait to see if this behind the scenes string-pulling works.

Today, Babygirl tried out a new skill. When displeased, she stomped her left foot. Which sort of worked, except that sometimes the effort would throw her off balance. It's pretty hard to throw a fit when you are listing to the side. My husband says she is just like me and that I will get to see myself grow up.

Hey! What's that supposed to mean? Stomp, stomp, stomp! Whew, I'm dizzy.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Rain, Rain, Glorious Rain

Remember how just a couple of days ago I was wishing it would rain? Well, I have super powers! I woke to the sound of the early-morning rain. Raining, pouring--and still early enough for me to plump my pillow, roll over and doze longer. I love that. Sleeping to the sound of rain is sweet.

The rain let up by the time I got up, though. And it was just cloudy all day. Then this afternoon, dark clouds suddenly moved in and rain, rain, rain!

We live in the damp Pacific Northwest, but you'd think we live in the desert if you judged my children's reaction to this downpour. All three boys came running outside. TwinBoyB literally danced in the rain, swinging his arms and stomping his feet like a drunken street person dancing to an internal polka. YoungestBoy pranced around with a broken umbrella and then stood in the waterfall that shoots from the corner of the roof where the drainage pipe broke. TwinBoyA, ever industrious, gathered wagons and buckets to catch the precious rainfall. He stashed all this rainwater behind the little playhouse for use on a not-so-rainy day.

Babygirl watched all this activity with fascination and then demanded an umbrella of her own. Then she stomped in the newly created mud puddles on the lawn.

Now that I know what wishing powers I have, I shall guard my gift with great care. (I wish I had a million dollars.)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Another Nap-time Wasted

At 3 p.m. every day, I think to myself, "Boy, that was stupid. I just wasted two hours." The boys return from school and the baby wakes up and I have accomplished nothing.

I put the babies down to sleep at 1 p.m., then watch a television show called "Starting Over." It's reality television and the first time I watched it I thought the women on the show were possibly the most annoying women in America. And now I'm addicted. It's so embarrassing. I've avoided watching soap operas and daytime talk shows and now, I have to watch television every day from 1 to 2 p.m. You can check out the website at

Today, I even got riled up. Josie, a pregnant, single woman with a worthless boyfriend who may or may not be the father . . . well, her water broke.

Now, of course, an educated woman knows that just because your water breaks does not mean that you should rush to the hospital. Especially if your contractions haven't started. But, this chick seems to know nothing about pregnancy--how else to explain her continual reclining and lying on her back at this stage of pregnancy? (That almost guarantees that the baby will be posterior, which can mean a longer labor and back labor to boot.)

So, off they rush to the hospital. No contractions. What does Josie do? She stretches out on her back in the bed and waits for labor to start. What should she do? She should be walking the hallways. She should be at home, still, hanging out. She should be active. She should be ignoring labor until she can no longer do so.

Oh, and she was hungry and thirsty and housemates tell her not to drink too much water and not to eat a banana. In fact, one of the other women actually reaches into her mouth and takes the banana out. Stupid, I'm telling you.

Would you run a marathon without drinking water during the race? Would you hike a mountain without carrying along snacks? No. Of course not.

That brings us to the next joyous intervention. That's right boys and girls. Pitocin. Now, Josie had expressed interest in having a medication-free birth, but did she plan for alternative pain relief? Uh . . . no. Didn't take them too long to get her all drugged up after the contractions started to actually hurt. And yes, pitocin contractions do hurt more. That's just one reason why you should avoid pitocin or its very nasty cousin, cytotec.

Her stupid boyfriend was sitting in the room, but she had no real labor support. No one helping her breathe, no one rubbing her back, no music, no deep jacuzzi to soothe the pains, no sitting upright, just stretched out, waiting for pain, thinking about pain, expecting pain. Idiot.

The doctor comes in at 2 a.m. and rouses Josie. "Hey, in a few minutes, you're going to push. Okay, Josie?" Yeah, right. An unconscious woman with a numb pelvis will be ready to push in just a sec. Hold on. Okay, ready.

Be sure to get your sharp instrument ready so you can cut her perineum and then yank that baby out. Why cooperate with nature when you can just overpower it and whack it in the head?

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion tomorrow!

And then it's 2 p.m. I think about doing laundry. No. Picking up the family room. No. Doing dishes? No. Oh yeah, I should water the flower bed. No. (Gosh, I wish it would rain.) Make a few phone calls? Balance the checkbook? Iron my husband's pants? Scrub the stinky toilet? Clean off the table in the other room? Organize the mess of shoes in the entry-way? Finish the thank-you notes? No, no, no, no. I don't want to do any boring stuff. I don't want to be a grown-up and do what's got to be done.

And you can't make me.

Sigh. I wish I hadn't just wasted nap-time. Tomorrow! Tomorrow I will get something done! For sure!

You Know You Are Old When . . .

1) You wish it would rain because your garden really needs a good soak.
2) The weekend is not fun, but actually more work because everyone's at home.
3) You find gray hairs. On your own head.
4) You can use the following phrase in a sentence, "I remember about twenty years ago . . .".
5) You are old enough to be a college student's mother.
6) The "new" fashions of the day look like something you wore in fourth grade.
7) Your doctor is younger than you are.
8) It seems like the past five years have disappeared in a five minutes.
9) You see the merits of plastic surgery.
10) You don't care what people think.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


My cat was last seen on Friday.

Notice seen in today's Town Newsletter: "Attention Pet Owners: Coyotes are in the area. Please be sure to keep your pets safe."

Now they tell me.

Middle School

On the news today is a story of a local middle-school girl who was beat unconscious at the school dance by two other girls. This was a dance for honor students.

Does anyone actually like middle school? I hated middle school. Sixth and seventh grades were possibly the worst years of my life. My parents had recently been divorced and my dad had custody of us. Prior to this, I hardly knew my dad, even though I'd lived with him my whole life. He worked the graveyard shift at a ship-to-shore radio station and then worked more tinkering with electronics during the day (he could fix anything) and then slept while I was home. I'd hear him up in the late evenings and occasionally, I'd even be awake late enough to hear him roaring with laughter at Johnny Carson.

Then, my mother disappeared into a new marriage and a new job and a new apartment and my dad was the main parent. His wife, Pattie, was quirky. She had lived in a small house, which she called "The Little House." This house was a free-standing garage originally and it had been converted into the tiniest house I'd ever seen. It had a miniature kitchen (no matter, she hated to cook), an adjacent living/dining room the size of my bedroom, a small bathroom and a bedroom so small that you had to walk on the twin bed to get in the room. If you got a pitcher out of a cupboard, you'd find dead spiders in it. You never heard the scritch of mice, but you'd find their droppings.

My dad left our house to live in an apartment across town, then married Pattie and moved into The Little House. My mother's intention to remarry caused my father to spring into action and demand custody of us. I think he intended to right all his wrongs as a father.

At any rate, the year I went to sixth grade was the year all this happened. The Little House was very close to the middle school, so we'd sometimes go there after school. I remember listening to Gordon Lightfoot at that house, which seems odd since Pattie liked classical music. She was classically trained on the flute and played a bunch of other instruments as well. She had a degree in political-science, but she worked at a regional library. She was 29 when she married my dad. She wore no makeup, had long, straight-as-sticks hair and drove a Mustang convertible.

Sixth grade, though, was a bleak time for me. I'd already grown and developed, so I had this figure that an 11-year old girl should not have. I remember the day a boy named Jeff teased me in front of my entire art class. (Mr. Wise, the teacher, had a hair growing directly out of the top of his nose. Not from inside, but on top.) I slapped Jeff's face. He never did that again, but after that I hid by wearing my heavy winter coat all through school. Getting straight A's was no problem for me, but I couldn't figure out how to giggle and joke and be friends with the other girls. My life had fallen apart over the summer, while they had learned to wear eyeliner and ride in cars with boys. I was self-conscious and no fun. And worst of all was the school spelling bee. I made it to the final round held during a school assembly. I missed the word "cellophane," which was a crushing blow, because until that moment, I had not tasted spelling defeat. When I got back to my classroom, I found a teeny-tiny folded piece of paper. I unfolded it and found "c-e-l-l-o-p-h-a-n-e" printed in small, neat letters. How embarrassing.

So I hated sixth grade. Seventh grade was no better.

So I ask, does anyone actually like middle school? I'm planning to homeschool one of my twins next year. He's always struggled in school, academically and socially. He has not really learned to write and he still struggles with his multiplication tables. He needs more attention than he can get in public school. I think he may suffer from a processing disorder of some type or an attention-deficit issue.

My other twin, TwinBoyA, can't decide whether to go to homeschool or our local middle school. Yesterday, they had an assembly for fifth-graders and described to them what they could expect in sixth grade. Last night, he said to me in the darkness of his bedroom, "Mom, I just can't decide." He held up his hands like a scale. "Homeschool? Middle school? There are good things about them both." I told him maybe he could go for a year and then decide. He said, "A year is too long." I said, "Well, maybe half a year?" He agreed to that.

Yesterday afternon, he said middle school sounds like fun because they have brownies. And pizza. For lunch. I said, "Well, you probably shouldn't decide about school based on the lunch menu." He said they also have cool classes like Spanish and computer.

Is there a way to just wake them up in three years when it's time for high school? I'll pay extra.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Stuff I Wanted to Mention

1) Tonight as I drive to the store for a couple of things, I notice duck, a mallard duck, crossing the road at an odd place. No pond, no wilderness, no water. But a duck. On the way back, I notice a truck pull to the side of the road and a man hurry out of the driver's side. He walks across the road and picks up . . . a dead duck. As I pass this scene, I see a second duck on the side of the road, alive. A widow? I don't know, but I thought that dead duck was so sad.

2) My cat is missing. This is the third day. No sign of him. Sigh.

3) Why do women go really blond after they lose substantial amounts of weight? Carnie Wilson, for instance. Why? Why do they make The Swan contestants blonder? What's up with that? Do blond women just look thinner?

4) My kids have been saying things like, "Mom! He said the C-word!" Or "Mom, he said the F-word!" Or "Mom! He said the N-word!" The thing is, they don't know any actual cuss words. The "F-word" is Fart. Et cetera. These kids crack me up.

5) Babygirl is afraid of weeds. She freezes and points and jabbers if she encouters a firece-looking weed in our yard. Unfortunately, there are many warrior-weeds, waiting to conquer the back yard.

As the Sun Sets

Yesterday afternoon, upon my return from Target (my "break" for the week, a shopping trip for household necessities while Babygirl naps . . . yeah, now I feel refreshed and ready for another week) I realized I had a long four hours facing me with four children alone at home again. Still. Always. My husband had to go back to work. I decided that we'd go to the beach and enjoy the last sunlight of the day. I gathered water bottles and sand toys and jackets (because truly you never know around here) and off we went. First to McDonald's, then to the beach.

Babygirl chanted the whole way there. "Beach! Beach! Beach-beach-beach!" She couldn't remember being at the beach before, even though she has been. A few weeks or months (?) ago we went to the beach and she freaked out when I put her down on the sand. She hated the sensation of sand under her feet. Last summer, she hated the beach because the swings terrified her (me holding her while pushing her brother, specifically) and the train's whistle scared her.

This time, she loved the beach. She loved the grassy expanses, she loved the swing, she loved the big slide, and she loved the sand. She did not, however, like the waves which kept moving up to "get" her when she wanted to put her toes in the sand.

YoungestBoy and Babygirl are getting wetter and muddier than I anticipated. They always do and somehow, it still always surprises me.

The twins worked together frantically building a sand wall to keep back the tide. Only, just as they finished patting the sand, I said, "Hey, you know what? I think the tide is going out!" The last time they did this, the tide was coming in and they dug and patted sand and barked instructions to each other as if the lives of dozens of helpless children depended on their efforts . . . and then the drama as the waves crashed through their sand wall! Thrills! Chills! Yesterday's activity dwindled to a sudden stillness when they realized the water was going and not coming.

So, we went home, sandy, tired, and wet. This, I hope, is what they remember of childhood.

Did You See That?

After church yesterday while I was driving on a semi-busy road, I spotted two small boys trailing after a dog on the side of the road. I slowed down and gawked. They were not in front of a house and there was no adult in sight. I realized I was blocking traffic, so I pulled ahead, did a U-turn and cruised back to where the boys were. They each had a crew cut, one blond, one brunette. The older boy was probably three and the younger was maybe two. They each carried a stick and the older boy was barefoot.

I rolled down my window and said, "Hey, where's your mama?" The big boy said, "We're catching my dog." The dog was now out of sight, around a bend. The smaller boy was now standing in the middle of the road, talking to me.

A car was coming up behind me, so I pulled forward and off the side of the road. I had my own four kids in the car, but I couldn't leave these two little ones by the side of the road. This road is regularly traveled and although the speed limit is 25 mph, usually everyone speeds. There is no sidewalk. A woman was walking a dog, heading toward me and the boys. She was on the other side of the road, but I wondered for a second if she might be the mother. She wasn't.

A small pickup truck pulled up and the guy rolled down his window and asked me if I knew where the boys lived. I said, "no," and said, "Should we call 9-1-1?" He nodded, but then he pulled his truck ahead of mine and parked. He walked back down the street and took the boys by the hands and led them back to where I was parked. The dog-walking woman said she knew where the dog lived, back quite a few blocks. The man started walking the boys to that house.

Now I was comforted and worried. A strange man now has these two little boys by the hands and they are willingly walking with him. I asked the dog-walking woman if she was going to follow the man and she said that she was going to make sure the stray dog got back home, too. Even though she was following the man, I still drove my car slowly in circles until the man delivered the little boys to a duplex. He knocked on the first door and a very young woman answered the door with a broom in her hands. She seemed completely unconcerned that her barefoot child had been found blocks from home. She gestured toward the other side of the duplex. The boy went inside and the door closed.

Then the man took the other boy to the other front door. Same thing. Door opens, young woman seems unsurprised by the turn of events, small boy goes in, door closes.

When the man walked back to my car, I said, "What did they say?" He said, "They didn't even notice the boys were gone."

I thought briefly about calling Child Protective Services. But I didn't. But what kind of parents let their small children--a two year old and a three year old--out of their sight? These children (one barefooted) walked two-tenths of a mile from home. They crossed a street alone. One had on no shoes. They could have been hit by a car or abducted. They had no idea where they lived.

What stupid, stupid parents.

Here's the funny thing. Those kids will probably grow up to be stellar human beings--bright, over-achievers--because they had to fend for themselves. My kids--my overprotected "no you cannot watch an R-rated movie or spend the night at someone's house if I don't know their parents" kids will probably end up living at home until they are 35, watching MTV and eating Frosted Flakes for dinner while I bleach their socks and scrub their toilet.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Wind in my Hair

You know how sometimes you are driving and suddenly you realize, I have no idea how I got here. How long have I been driving on auto-pilot? Did I stop at that last stop-sign? Your mind has been whirling away while your foot is on the gas pedal and you have no memory of the past stretch of road.

That's how I felt today when I spontaneously pulled out an old home video from 1999. The twins were six years old then and YoungestBoy was 18 months old. I thought, how did I get from there to here? I know the minutes passed in full sixty second increments, the hours lasted precisely sixty minutes each, the weeks were a complete seven days and the years lasted exactly fifty-two weeks. But it seems like I have been daydreaming the whole time because I cannot for the life of me remember the actual drive.

I think this is probably as God intended it to be. You can't remember everything, just the highlights and if you are especially pessimistic, the worst parts. And, of course, the things your write down and the videos you make and the photographs you take. My whiny journals will be balanced by very happy images of children playing and showing off and smiling. We look happy. We are happy.

Except today. The twins were quite unhappy because they could not compromise on their video game. Each insisted that it was his turn to play and refused to listen to the other. I told them to come outside and negotiate while I was watching. Their tactic is to yell louder and louder at each other. I finally said, "Look, you need to listen to him and then repeat back to him what he's said." (This is called Active Listening and I didn't just make it up. It's a real communication technique.) TwinBoyA was incensed that I would suggest such a thing and he refused to listen to TwinBoyB. They sounded like a presidential debate, only without the civility she says wryly.

I did what has worked before. I said, "Hey, hold on, I'll be right back." Meanwhile, they are still yelling while I run inside to grab the camera and the newly charged battery. I return--they are still hollering--and I can't fit the stupid battery into the recorder. I want to record them arguing and fighting so they can see how ridiculous they look and sound. I fumble with the battery, growing more and more frustrated. Babygirl is fussing at me, YoungestBoy is saying, "Mom, mom, will you videotape me?" and TwinBoyA is shouting, "No" and TwinBoyB is outing, "Listen!"

You know how the video "The Blair Witch Project" was shot all crazily, the camera bouncing around and the subject's nostril in focus and the cameraman shouting while running? Well, I didn't actually get the battery in, but if I had, that's what that moment would have been like when TwinBoyA belligerenly looked at me and said, "Mom, get out of here! Leave me alone! Go away!"

I thought for a second about just getting into the car and driving away and then realized that, of course, I had to stay. So I ordered TwinBoyA and TwinBoyB into the house. I am completely irrational, because I finished fiddling with the battery before I turned to them and by then, they were huddled under a blanket, finally hammering out a peace agreement. I made them come out and they were rational and announced they had agreed on a plan.

Then I explained calmly and rationally that they were simply not allowed to speak to me disrespectfully. Okay, just kidding. I lectured very sternly until TwinBoyA was crying. He apologized, but when I said, "What are you sorry for?" he couldn't actually say why he was sorry for a long time. He reminded me so much of "The Fonz" from Happy Days. The Fonz could not say "I was wrong." I mean literally, he could not get the word "wrong" out of his mouth.

Anyway, finally TwinBoyA managed to squeeze out an actual apology and I told him that he will not be allowed to be disrespectful to me or any other adult. I said, "I will not let you be a teenager who speaks disrespectfully to me, and if you ever do that again, you will suffer a very serious consequence that you will not enjoy at all. Do you understand me?"

I think he did. At any rate, I think I'm glad I didn't get that all on video. The twins went back in their room to resume their video game play and I went in the backyard with YoungestBoy and Babygirl. I shot some beautiful footage of Babygirl toddling around and YoungestBoy singing three kindergarten songs ("Folks, this is the second song and don't worry if you can't understand the words because it's an Indian song!"). YoungestBoy blew bubbles for Babygirl and she shrieked "be-be-be" when she spotted a bumblebee. How does she have any idea what it is and that it might sting her? Then she carried the hose around for awhile until we bribed her to come inside and watch "the babies." Babygirl loved the videotape we'd just created.

See? We are happy. I have proof.
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