Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Why My Laundry Room Floor is Clean

Today was just an ordinary day. Wake up reluctantly at 6:45 a.m. Fetch Babygirl from her crib. Welcome DaycareKid. Send YoungestBoy to school. Wake up twins who think 9:00 a.m. is early. (My Day of Revenge for all those pre-dawn mornings when they were toddlers is nearly here.) Oversee schooling, wash laundry, play with toddlers, wash dishes, make lunch, wash dishes, supervise science experiment, change diapers, empty potty-chair, fold laundry, take little nap while tricking Babygirl to sleep, paint two kitchen walls red, read newspaper, go outside with Babygirl, wake up DaycareKid, etc.

Then, the twins went to their twin-friends' house to play and after dinner, I headed upstairs to give Babygirl a bath. YoungestBoy appeared and mentioned casually that water covered the boys' floor downstairs.

WATER? I grabbed Babygirl and ran downstairs to find my fears confirmed. The washing machine hose had come loose from the drain in the wall and all the water from the load formed a gigantic lake on the floor. Water filled the laundry room, seeped under the walls and spread like a pond across the room.

I yelled a bit, threw towels in the vast expanse of water, shook my head, and heard the door open. My husband had gone to pick up the twins and had returned. Babygirl (completely without clothing) met him at the door saying, "Mama is so mad!"

He came to ask questions and watch me sop up water. I do not enjoy being observed while I cope with a crisis. Babygirl stood behind him and said, "You are so mad?" I said, "No, I'm not so mad."

He borrowed a wet-vac and by the time he returned, I'd condensed the pond to a smallish puddle, but I'd run out of towels. He sucked up the rest of the water with the vacuum and I thought to myself, This sucks on so many levels, and then I thought, Oh, I am so clever! I just made a pun! Sucks! Get it? I planned to paint a final coat of red on the kitchen walls and grocery shop . . . and here I was cleaning up water. Sweating, sore shoulder throbbing, full of annoyance.

But now my laundry room floor is clean and I'd added that to my mental list of Things To Do: "Clean laundry room floor before company comes." This matters only because the bathroom is accessible through the laundry room and I don't know about you, but my laundry room tends to collect dust balls and grime and kitty litter (that's where the box is).

After I finished dealing with the laundry room crisis, I put Babygirl to bed at 8 p.m. At 8:30 p.m., I went grocery shopping. Finished at 10 p.m. Home by 10:15 p.m., groceries put away by 10:30 p.m. I painted the two walls with what I hope is the final coat. Done with that at 11:00 p.m.

Midnight approaches and I will turn into a pumpkin and this fairy tale night will end. Or something like that.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

I am depressed. Let me count the reasons why:

1) Tomorrow is Monday and with Monday comes schooling at home.
2) Tomorrow is Monday and that means I have to wake up early.
3) Next Saturday I am having company. I will have to do the impossible: maintain a clean house and cook and look cute. All at the same time.
4) My hair is too long. I look like an unkempt cocker spaniel with long hair.
5) My boys' twin friends left our house today after calling their mother and telling her they were bored, there is nothing to do here and all my boys wanted to do was watch television and fight. I had no idea this boy was even going to use my phone, nor did I know things weren't going well. I am embarrassed and afraid my children will never have any friends. They will probably die of boredom.
6) Tomorrow is Monday.
7) My husband reported yesterday that the leftover turkey tastes "funny," and he didn't mean "funny, ha-ha." There go my dinner plans for three nights.
8) Tomorrow is Monday and I didn't have enough fun or get out of the house enough these past four days.
9) Tomorrow is Monday and the laundry pile is still huge.
10) I have to paint the kitchen wall tonight.

Wow. How quickly the Thanksgiving spirit departs from me. I should be sent to solitary confinement. With a novel. And popcorn with M&Ms sprinkled in it.

Why Girls Are Better Than Boys

Girls don't pee outside in the flowerbed.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

An Update In Which I Ramble

Thanksgiving Day
I have to admit the truth. I don't even like gravy, but I can make it without a recipe. And cooking Thanksgiving dinner was no more strenuous than cooking a regular Sunday dinner.

My 98-year old grandma and my mother arrived shortly before our scheduled eat-time of 1:00 p.m. Mom told me my brother and his wife would be late--they'd phoned right before they left at 12:30 p.m. and traffic on the freeway was heavy. So we began our Thanksgiving feast without them.

YoungestBoy ate three rolls and black olives. Babygirl ate black olives and spent the rest of the meal spooning cranberry salad from her plate to mine and back again. The rest of us ate heartily.

I'm not even sure what time my brother and his wife arrived, but by then, I'd put Babygirl to sleep and the boys had all left the table to play Nintendo. I'd started moving the food off the table when they finally appeared, so then Mom and I began reheating stuff and rearranging food back on the table. I was picking turkey from the carcass while they ate.

Wouldn't you know it? An elderly church woman was taken to the hospital, suffering from what turned out to be a type of stroke, so my husband had to leave to make a hospital visit. She's already doing a lot better, but I felt really sorry for her family.


I forgot that my husband had to work, so I found myself at home with the children Friday morning while my husband worked. Even so, since I had no Daycarekid and no schooling to oversee, the day seemed like a holiday. I cleaned up the remaining Thanksgiving mess and when my husband came home after lunch, I was set free! I joined the post-Thanksgiving Day shopping crowds, but mainly, I just meandered about, free of demands, free of children. I went to Costco, wandered about while my film was being developed at the one-hour photo shop, and then went to Toys R Us for a quick look-see. I have no problem figuring out what to get my daughter for Christmas, but the boys are more tricky because everything they want is expensive.

Anyway, I came home at 4:00 p.m., refreshed from my jaunt away from home.

Then, I realized that the staff potluck I'd suggested for "sometime in December" had turned into a reality and the date of that reality is December 4. In other words, in one week.

What have I done?

I spent the evening industriously working on the church nursery schedule and on the Vacation Bible School report (from last July's event). At 11:00 p.m., I finished. I have no idea where this burst of unprocrastination originated, but I am so relieved to have those chores behind me.

The day began slowly and fueled by donuts, I decided to shop. I had a Bath & Body Works coupon burning a hole through my pocket. And since YoungestBoy was going to a birthday party, I needed to buy a gift for him to take.

And lucky me! Babygirl was going with me. Not that I mind, really. She's a fun little companion, but do you remember how a two year old slows you down? I guess that's the good and the bad--toddlers slow you down. You really can't hurry them along. That's why it took me a good ten minutes to actually get out of the driveway with Babygirl.

First, I had to move the carseat from the van (she calls it "the man"). I hate refastening carseats.

Then, I buckled her up. I said, "Do you need to pee in the potty?" She said, "Yes." So I unbuckled her and we almost reached the front door when she changed her mind. "I peed in the potty!" she exclaimed.

Back into the car and I realized I didn't have my cell phone. Back to the house to retrieve it and finally, we were on our way.

At Bath & Body Works, Babygirl picked up everything, smelled it, carried it and then tossed it back on the shelf. I was trying to keep the translucent soaps from getting all dented while trying to figure out how to get the best bargain. I began to count in my head, pondering how many soaps to buy, who the recipients would be and then Babygirl said, "I need to pee."

We had to leave that store (no bathroom) and go into T.J. Maxx, next door, which meant a long trek to the back of the store. Then I had the bright idea to look for a toy for the birthday party while I was there. Bad, bad idea. Babygirl had to touched and hold all the toys and at one point, I thought I might have to purchase a doll in a box for $14.99. Babygirl was so insistent about holding it. Finally, we left the store, but only with one purchase, a book for less than $4.00.

Then back to Bath & Body Works to ponder soaps. At last I made a decision, tossing soaps randomly into the basket, no longer caring, and then we paid and headed to Target for the birthday present. I was in the Goldfish cracker aisle when my cell phone rang. It was husband, wondering when I'd be home and if I was bringing lunch. It was 12:15 p.m. I said I'd bring bread and be home soon.

You just can't hurry with a toddler. That's the bottom line.

My husband spent the afternoon with YoungestBoy at the bowling alley birthday party. While he was gone, I prepared my entryway and kitchen wall for paint. Tonight I painted the entryway. Tomorrow, a second coat, then Monday, the kitchen wall will be primed for red paint.

Because I lost my mind invited company over for a potluck next Saturday night, my house has to be pulled together. The walls have to be painted. I have to get out my big, old fake Christmas tree.

And think--next week at this time, it will all be over.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Something Cute for you to Look at Until I Find Time to Write

Here are Babygirl and Smokey the kitty hanging out on Thanksgiving Day. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving Eve

The stockings are hung by the chimney with . . . oh wait a second. Wrong holiday. The children are nestled all snug in their beds. I am thankful for that. I am also thankful for a myriad of miscellaneous things:

1) I am thankful for rainy days and dancing leaves.
2) I am thankful for my kids, even the one who stomped his feet and yelled at me today. Not so long ago, I feared I'd die a bitter, childless woman. Now I know I will die an exhausted, worn out mother.
3) I am thankful for my husband, even though he doesn't cook. Or build things. Or fix things.
4) I am thankful for a kitchen full of food, even though I can't find any chocolate in it.
5) I am thankful for stuff that makes me laugh, including the sight of Babygirl dancing to the Wiggles.
6) I am thankful for a shower that drains properly so I can take long, thoughtful showers.
7) I am thankful for my husband (yes, I know I already said that) because he's so funny--this morning he woke me up saying, "Do you want me to tell everyone you are unavailable today?" I mumbled, "Yes." And then he told me he had a great idea: "Personalized bobbleheads. I really think there is a market for them." I said, "Why are you awake?" and stumbled to the bathroom.
8) I am thankful for my marriage. I know it will not crumble or explode without notice.
9) I am thankful for books and chocolate, and wish for an endless supply of both.
10) I am thankful for friends, far and near, especially the ones who think I am amusing and smart and cute.

I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house tomorrow and I think I am ready. My 98-year old grandmother had to invite herself over because it didn't occur to me to invite her. I am glad she took action, rather than offense. My brother and his wife are coming. So is my mom, so it'll be a small gathering of ten of us.

God bless us everyone. Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pee and Orange Juice

Here. Try a little experiment.

Shampoo your carpets.
How long will it take for pee and orange juice to contaminate the clean carpet?

That's right. Three days.

Babygirl in the family room, standing in front of her potty-chair: "I peed on the carpet!"

Me, shrieking and running: "NO! NO! DO NOT PEE ON THE . . . oh, you peed on the carpet!"

Upstairs, later.

Me, putting away clothes in Babygirl's dresser. Her, sprinkling orange juice from her sippy cup onto her carpet.

Me: "NO! NO! Do NOT spill orange juice on the . . . oh, you spilled orange juice!"

My husband, from the bedroom where he is reclining, watching Fox News: "Don't yell at my baby!"


Well, okay, maybe I overreacted and was just a bit too loud, but hey, at least I didn't go into the stands and punch a cup-throwing fan.

Sleep and Eats

Naptime has become something of a nightmare. Well, can you have a nightmare if no actual sleep is involved? At naptime, I put DaycareKid to bed on my son's bed. He sucks on his blanket and goes immediately to sleep.

Babygirl and I lay on my bed. She never really wants to nap, so I give her choices, which confuses her.

Babygirl: "I not sleep!"
Me: "Do you want to lay in Babygirl's bed or Mommy's bed?"
Babygirl: "Mommy's bed."

Pause. Climbs onto bed. Whines.

Babygirl: "No go night-night!"
Me: "Would you like to lay on Mommy's pillow or Daddy's pillow?"
Babygirl: "Mommy's pillow."

And so on. I curl on my side, face away from her and perch on the very edge of the king-sized bed. She presses her tiny body against my back and wiggles. And rotates like a giant-twirling earthworm. She flops a hand over my back, then inches up and back. Sometimes she leans over me to look into my face. She kicks my back.

Today she sang. "I. Love. You. You. Love. Me. We're. A. Hap-Py. Fal-i-my." And "Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you." Then she launched into a rendition of "She is a super-dooper pooper. She can potty with the best. No more diapers to get in her way. We are very impressed." But she sang only every other word, so it took me a while to figure out the song. It was like playing "Name That Tune": "I can name that tune in 10 syllables."

Anyway. I am personally in an unsatisfactory wake-sleep cycle in which I stay up past midnight, wake at 6:30 a.m., drag through the morning, fall asleep while I try to trick Babygirl into sleeping, and if I'm still tired, fall asleep again while I put her to bed at night. Then, tided over by my naps, I stay up until midnight again, kicking myself for staying awake so late.

Getting Babygirl to nap takes longer and longer these days. Today she sang and kicked and wiggled for over an hour. She finally fell asleep and so did I--long enough to have a nightmare about losing my purse on a bench in the city of Chicago and then boarding a train heading out of town, so far out of town that I was suddenly in the country. My twins were supposed to be following me and I lost them in the crowd, but I was more concerned about my lost purse than my lost kids.

Over the weekend, I thought I'd just abandon nap-time altogether. Saturday, I sneaked out of the house for an hour to make a thrift-store drop-off. Five minutes after I left, my husband suggested to Babygirl that she lay on the couch and she fell asleep immediately and slept the whole time I was gone. Sunday, while I was busily cleaning out the storage room and sorting through the toys, I realized I hadn't seen her for a long time. I went upstairs and found her sound asleep on her tummy, stretched out on the gliding rocker footstool, her feet propped on the chair and her head dangling over the edge of the footstool. (I did take pictures, but they aren't digital, so you'll have to be patient.)

So, she clearly still needs to nap. I need her to nap, who are we kidding?

Dinner Plans
I have a clear vision of Thanksgiving dinner, which I will host at my very own home with its still-green, not-gold hallway. I'll be cooking a 22 pound turkey, mashing my own potatoes, creating gravy from scratch, preparing my delicious corn souffle', and baking a pecan pie, from scratch, even the crust. I will set the table with Mikasa French Countryside, light orange candles and even mop the floor for the occasion. I have a puzzle with a pumpkin-autumnal theme, which I will have set up on a spare table so visitors and children can meander past and put together a few pieces as Norah Jones plays in the background.

It's the days between here and there that have me perplexed. I didn't plan to eat this week, prior to Thursday. Yesterday we had breakfast burritoes. Today? I have no plan. It's 3:38 p.m., and we have dinner at 5:00 p.m. around here.

If you had to take a test prior to becoming a homemaker . . . well, I'd probably be a pediatrician right now. No one in their right mind would license or certify me to run a household.

I'd better go search the bottom of the freezer for inspiration. For some reason, my kids and husband like to have dinner every single night. Even on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The World Has Gone Insane

People go to horror movies all the time--voluntarily. When I was a teenager, my friends (Dean, Dean, and Shelly) took me to see Friday the 13th in 3D. Granted, it wasn't much, beyond gore and screams, but I watched it with my hands in front of my face. I lied and told my parents I'd seen "Pirates of Penzance." I've never been interested in horror movies.

Who needs horror movies when you can read in the local paper about a 35-year old mother who let her 7 week old and 16 month old babies starve in their cribs? The police found 307 empty beer cans in the apartment, along with a 2 and a half year old malnourished toddler who'd been foraging in the cupboards for dry rice and noodles. The mother's blood alcohol level was 0.40. How long does a baby scream from hunger before it stops?

On the news tonight was a story about a 51-year old father who killed his 11-year old and 8-year old daughters and then himself.

And then I heard about a mother in Plano, Texas, who cut off her 11-month old baby's arms. The baby died in the hospital.

I just finished reading First They Killed My Father, a story told about a child who survived the war in Cambodia in the seventies. The atrocities, the killings, the violence . . . how does that happen?

The world has gone insane. I can even see that with my hands held in front of my face.

What It Really Means

Your two-year old daughter marches around the family room, dancing to Sesame Street. She drops her banana and then smooshes into the carpet with her foot.

What it really means: You spent Saturday night shampooing the carpet.

The young man your husband hired to paint the entryway and hallway (against your better judgment because how hard is it to paint and how much will he charge anyway?) before Thanksgiving calls and apologizes for being unable to fulfill his promise.

What it really means: You will be painting walls tonight, even though your husband says he'll do it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Most Embarrassing Moment

You know how every once in a blue moon, someone will say, "Tell us about your most embarrassing moment?" I can never pull a good story out of the air. I mean, there was that time I was waiting for a meeting to begin and I leaned over to get something out of my purse and I (as one cultured friend would say) passed wind loudly. None one in the room even snickered. But that's not really a story, is it?

Tonight, while I was filling my one-gallon red pitcher with water for the Rug Doctor, I remembered a mortifying moment from junior high.

I was in ninth grade. I'd become a model student--which is not the same as a student model, by the way. I was the student body president, a straight-A student, a sought-after babysitter, and an all-around good girl. I rode my bike to school early every morning to work in the library for extra credit. Teachers loved me. The school counselor loved me, and in fact, used to pat me on the backside, which I've come to realize was probably inappropriate, but hey, what's a little light-hearted sexual harassment in junior high?

I had a good friend named Carolyn. We knew each other from church and we both loved to sing. I convinced Carolyn to enter the school Gong Show. Furthermore, I masterminded a plan for us to dress like hippies and sing a song about nuclear war. She went along with this ill-fated idea.

The day of the Gong Show arrived. We decked ourselves out in blue jeans and headbands and padded out in our bare feet, carrying peace signs. Then we sang this song with no musical accompaniment:

They're rioting in Africa (la-la-la-la-la)
They're starving in Spain (la-la-la-la-la)
There's hurricanes in Flo-ri-da (la-la-la-la-la-la-la)
And Texas needs rain (la-la-la-la-la) the whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
They're rioting in Africa (la-la-la-la-la-la-la)
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow "man"

I thought this was hilarious. Of course, I was a ninth grader, but still. My fellow students did not find this amusing and the three judges--"radio personalities" from local stations--GONGED US before we even got to the line about the mushroom-shaped cloud, which, of course, is the point of the whole song.

The kids in the gym hooted and hollered and we slunk out, booed off the stage.

And that, my friends, is my most embarrassing moment. Until I think of something else.

So, no matter what happened today (routine household chores, including Rug-Doctoring the family room carpet), at least I didn't get gonged. For that, I am thankful. Also, I found a Barbara Kingsolver hardback novel at the thrift store when I was dropping off stuff (I had to browse, didn't I? Isn't that a requirement?). In my world, that's about as good as it gets.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Electrons and Bonding

I was in eighth grade. In my town, eighth and ninth graders attended junior high and during those first few weeks of school, I was scared to look around for fear that someone might notice me and mock me. I had no basis for this fear, really, other than the typical awkward self-consciousness of being a teenaged girl.

My salvation was not in make-up and cute clothes. My redemption was entirely within textbooks and class lectures because I was a brain. That's why I loved Mr. Ainsworth.

Mr. Ainsworth taught eighth grade physical science. He grinned his lopsided grin and demonstrated scientific principles with vigor and verve. One day, he hopped up on his desk and explained that he was an electron. He hopped up and down, showing us how atoms bonded by sharing electrons, how they sought a stable orbit of electrons. Here is a refresher course. (Trust me, you want to know this . . . and for those of you who won't click, here--important facts:)

"Why do atoms connect to one another?
There are many different types of bond that will exist between atoms. One of the most common types is a covalent bond, the sharing of electrons. The electrons of an atom exist in orbits, with each orbit holding a certain number.
The orbits and the number of electrons that they can hold are:
1st orbit - 2 . . . 2nd orbit - 8. . . 3rd orbit - 8 . . . 4th orbit - 18

When an atom's outer electron shell is completely full, it is stable and will not react with other atoms. All of the Noble Gases (Argon, Helium, Xenon, Krypton, Radon, and Neon) are inert, and will not naturally react with other elements. Due to this, single atoms of these gases can be found in nature. Other elements such as Oxygen (O) and Hydrogen (H) are not stable as single atoms.

In the picture (you'll have to click on the link above--go ahead, I'll wait . . .), the larger Oxygen atom has only 6 electrons in its outer electron shell, needing 2 more to completely fill it. The 2 smaller Hydrogen atoms both need 1 electron to fill their outer electron shell.
In the other picture (click on the link again--I'll still be here) . . . the Hydrogen atoms are "sharing" their one electron with the Oxygen atom and the Oxygen atom is sharing one electron to each of the Hydrogen atoms. Now each of the atoms have complete outer electron shells, making this molecule stable."

I thought about this scientific principle the other night. I pictured Mr. Ainsworth--wavy, groovy, 1979 brown hair--hopping up and down, showing us how atoms needed electron-shells to be filled just so in order to be stable--and I thought that I am just like an atom. Well, a really, really BIG atom.

I have some vacancies in my outer electron shell . . . leading to some instability. Why can't I find someone else with electron-shell vacancies so we can bond together? Every single atom I bump into seems to have a full electron shell. And you know as well as I do that if the electron shell is full, it's impossible to bond, atom-to-atom.

So you see where I'm going with this? I have a basic scientific vacancy in my outer electron shell. I'm oxygen and my electron shell has a couple of vacancies, desperate vacancies, flashing-red-light vacancies.

Well. I've lived here six years and it seems that all the women I know here have full electron shells. They have their quota of friends, full social calendars, demanding jobs, busy husbands, children with activities. Everyone is so busy, so full, so complete.

I'm busy and all, but I still long for a friend who would sit and watch me dump out my purse and eat fuzzy gum and let me unzip my heart, dump it out and then watch me sort through it without judgment. It's probably my old eighth grade paranoia, but I feel like I must guard myself and put on a pretty face, complete with mascara (make-up has become my salvation now that I'm nearly 40). I need to keep my true self quiet and secluded. I can't vent about my life because I am the Pastor's Wife. At least that's how it feels to me.

But I would. If I could find someone who qualified. Which I won't as long as I am home, within these walls, teaching big kids school at home while watching little kids build block towers and dance to Sesame Street. The only women I meet attend my church and even if I could feel free to appear without mascara (and my industrial strength shield which keeps my negativity neutralized and my whiny self strait-jacketed and stuck in a closet) . . . well, I don't think they would see me as anyone other than The Pastor's Wife, complete with stereotypical expectations. I do, after all, play the piano, sing, coordinate the nursery volunteer schedule and direct Vacation Bible School in the summers, just like a dutiful Pastor's Wife.

Recently, I mentioned to a church friend that I'd like to start a book club. She was agreeable, but then she made a little comment that made me suddenly realize: I can't recommend a book to her that is less than "Christian" and edifying and encouraging, because I'm not just a woman she knows. I'm The Pastor's Wife. I can't start a book club with church women--I'd constantly edit myself, censor myself, keep my opinions to myself. I don't want that.

I can't figure out how other pastor's wives do it. Maybe they have full electron shells already and they don't feel like flinging themselves against other electrons until they bond and form a neat, tidy molecule of water. But my shell has an open space and like a string of Christmas tree lights with a burned out bulb, I'm not lighting up the way I should. Maybe I'm not Christian enough or spiritual enough because I feel this empty little spot.

Or maybe I just need more sleep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


I am so tired. I told my husband on Monday night that I have reached capacity--I just can't do one more thing. I am overextended and fatigued and overwhelmed and why, oh why, is the Leaning Tower of Laundry in my bedroom?

Then my sometimes-boss (the private investigator) called and asked if I'd like to do some transcription for him. I asked about the deadline and how much typing would be involved and he assured me I could do as much or little as I wanted. Deadline would be Wednesday at 8 a.m.

I said, "Fine."

My husband thinks I've lost my mind. But I could not turn down an easy $20 an hour. Christmas is coming. Ho-ho-ho. (Pass me a bottle of rum.)

I typed 27 pages, which translates into two and a half hours of work and fifty-four buckaroos. Now, I'm heading to bed, where I will finish my latest book about the Cambodian refugee.

I'm worried that Thanksgiving is coming too quickly, and Christmas will be holding hands with Thanksgiving, pushing through the front door without even politely knocking. There is no possible way I will ever be ready for Christmas.

Then again, ready or not, it comes and goes. "This, too, shall pass." That's the good news--and bad news--for the day.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Looking for the Moon

Ever since the eclipse, Babygirl clamors to go outside to look for the moon and stars. Tonight, YoungestBoy went with us. We all walked up the damp driveway for a clear view. Almost black clouds spread thinly over the barely-blue sky. We craned our heads back and saw a lone star directly above us.

As we pointed and talked about the star, I saw our neighbor coming around the bend, her fiesty lab leading the way.

This young, soft-spoken woman is a graduate of West Point. Her husband, a fellow graduate, was deployed to Iraq at the beginning of October.

I said, "Hey, how are you feeling?"

She patted her round, protruding belly and said, "Pretty good." She's one of those women who truly make pregnancy look easy and beautiful. She is due in exactly one week. Her mother will arrive on Friday to support her through the labor and delivery and beginning days of motherhood.

Babygirl and YoungestBoy laughed at the dog's antics while my neighbor and I made small talk.

How soon her life will change in every way. On one hand, I wanted to warn her: "In two years, you'll be standing in a chilly driveway looking for the moon!" On the other hand, I wanted to say, "Just wait! In two years, you'll be standing in a chilly driveway looking for the moon!"

She's about to begin the biggest adventure of her life. I just hope and pray that her husband will return to join her. Everytime I hear of a soldier dying in Mosul, my heart lurches a little.

War. If I were the queen, there would be none of that.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

If I Had Time

If I had time, I would chart my moods. Every month, I seem to have a "floating anxiety day" in which I examine my mind for the source of my anxiety. I can almost always find a throbbing ache upon which to thwap my anxious feelings. I think they are hormonal. I have a day when I scream for no good reason. Last night, it was over chocolate milk and I made my littlest boy cry. I have a monthly day of incredible murky depression in which I feel hopeless under that little rain cloud that drizzles upon my naturally curly hair, rendering me not only despondent, but also ugly. I have a day when I am convinced I cannot go on under the load of responsibilities that I bear. I mentally pick up each duty, consider whether I can toss it through a window, decide it must stay and then replace it in the stack. Nothing can go. I must do it all. I have a lonely day when I wish someone would call me and invite me to coffee. I have a fat day when I am thankful no one calls me to invite me anywhere.

I just think maybe all these moods correspond to a particular hormonal pattern and if I had time, I would figure it out.

If I had time, I would paint the entryway.

If I had time, I would write up the Student Academic Plan required by the school district.

If I had time, I would clean out the storage room--again--and give away the gerbil cage which I hope to never need.

If I had time, I would join the YMCA and work out every day.

If I had time, I'd prepare the flowerbeds for winter and trim the ivy.

If I had time, I would scrub beneath the utility sink and clean out the freezer! Hello! Lentils, anyone?

If I had time, I'd find the post where I mention my lentils from Y2K and link it here.

If I had time, I would get a hair cut.

(Can we talk about hair for a second? I can't figure out what to do with my hair, the previously mentioned, naturally curly, unruly, hanging in my face, hair. I've had short hair, which was supposed to look like Lady Di. Uh, natural curls anyone? I looked like a 75 year old woman who got her hair set every Thursday. That didn't work out for me. I had a shoulder length cut, but oh, the constant straightening of that hair! I am lazy about my hair and so then, eventually, I look like I need an Oprah makeover with this long, crazy hair. But what to do with it? I have to have bangs. Really short hair doesn't work on me. I'd like to work with my curl, not against it. I can't find a hairdresser I love. And I don't want to stare at my face for an hour while I get a hair cut. I am paralyzed. I wonder if it's hormonal?)

[My husband just came downstairs and asked if I remembered to buy cucumber chip pickles. I did not. I said, "Hey, but write it on that list on the fridge. And he said, "No, I want you to write it on your heart." Maybe I would, if only I had time. He is home and when he asked what my plans were for tonight, I said, "Oh, I'm just going to spend the evening dreading tomorrow." He tried to help me figure out a way to cut down on my responsibilities, but all he came up with is not coordinating the nursery schedule at church, which takes about 40 minutes each year.]

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, I was busy making excuses.

If I had time, I would shampoo my family room carpet.

If I had time, I would put away my Halloween decorations.

If I had time, I would write my final report for Vacation Bible School from last JULY!

Well. I am clearly a loser, so I am going upstairs to read a book about a Cambodian refuge. That ought to make me feel like an ungrateful lout.

The Non-Slumber Party

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I allowed the boys' twin-friends spend the night. All five boys sat up and watched the television showing of a Harry Potter movie. They ate an entire half-gallon of ice cream. Then they asked for popcorn. And my boys dispensed pop to everyone.

YoungestBoy spent a great deal of time rolling on the floor and annoying the bigger boys. The visiting boys are loud, so LOUD that my boys seem sedate in comparison. First one visiting boy, then the other stuck his thumb in his mouth and then popped it out, making a suction sound. Pop! Slurp! Pop! Slurp! If my boys had been doing that, I would have ordered them to stop using my most irritated voice.

Then from my desk where I sat for three solid hours bringing Quicken up to date (I have ignored it since September), I heard, "Hey! You spilled it!" In a single bound, I leapt across the room to find a spilled glass of pop on my carpet. Granted, my carpet is in dire need of shampooing, but still!

The visiting twin sat placidly as a cow chewing cud as I stomped away for a towel to soak it up. I said to my boys, "Spring into action! Come on! Clean this up!" and they seemed to suffer from hearing loss and said only, "It's not my pop."

While I finished mopping up the spill, I said, "Would your mother let you put a glass of pop on your floor?" I was thinking of her brand-new gleaming hardwood floors, her expensive leather furniture, her antiques. He said, "Well, if there is no table."

And then, I saw that the twin brother had also spilled his glass and was also sitting mutely, catatonically, perfectly still, except for the hand bringing popcorn to his mouth while the pop became one with the carpet.

ARRGH! That's my pirate sound, saved for especially aggravating moments. I couldn't believe that the boys just sat and let their pop soak into the carpet.


I finished balancing my checkbook at 11 p.m. and sent the kids to bed. It's past 12:30 a.m. now and I still hear whispering and giggling and movement. And in the morning, somehow I have to get us all to church by 9:45 a.m.

I'm going to pretend that they are all sleeping and go upstairs. If I'm lucky, they won't get up at 6:00 a.m. like they did last time they stayed over.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Unexpected Break

Last night, in a fit of annoyance, I shook my finger at my three boys and said in a threatening voice, "If ANY of you get up before NINE O'CLOCK or make any noise or WAKE ME UP . . . YOU WILL BE SORRY." And then I stomped upstairs while they stayed downstairs and finished watching a video.

I knew, of course, that they would all be up before 9:00 a.m., so I'm not even sure why I said that, other than my being peevish and fed up with kids. This morning, Babygirl woke at about 7:20 a.m., a mere six hours after I finished The Secret Life of Bees. I wearily stumbled into her room, took off her wet diaper, rocked her awhile and turned on her newly rented "Elmo's World" video. Then I told her I was going to lay down.

I dozed off and on as she interrupted my sleep every few minutes, but I did stay in bed for another hour, until 9:00 a.m. Then I cleaned the shower stall and eventually, showered. I moved slowly, the luxury of not having a deadline or an appointment. I came downstairs with a towel on my head, shifted laundry from machine to machine, watered the cats, and finally went back upstairs to dry my hair and put on my make-up.

My hair is naturally curly and almost half-way down my back. The turban on my head half-dried it, so the curls were a little frizzy, so I pulled the curls out a little more, thinking I'd get a wavy effect, but instead, I ended up looking like Roseanne Rosannadanna. This was not a good thing.

So, then I pulled on my hair with a flat iron and a curling iron and generally spent a lot of time trying to look normal. Whatever that means.

I finished playing with my hair and came downstairs. I folded laundry, picked up a few things, washed some dishes and sat at the computer. Then I glanced at the clock. Eleven twenty. Eleven twenty?! Eleven twenty? How'd it get to be 11:20 a.m.? I realized that I needed to speed up a bit. (11:20?!) YoungestBoy would be picked up for his soccer game at 12:30 p.m. No one had even eaten breakfast, except for Babygirl.

I went into the kitchen and popped waffles into the toaster. The stove clock said 10:15 a.m. The microwave clock said 10:17 a.m. I said, "Hey, did someone mess with that clock?" and I guestured to the battery-run kitchen clock hanging high on a cabinet.

YoungestBoy said, "I did!"

I said, "Why?"

He said, "Well, when I came downstairs, I thought it was 9:00 o'clock, so I changed it."

In other words, "Mom, you said not to come downstairs before 9:00 o'clock, so I changed the clock so it would say 9:00 o'clock, even though it was really 8:00 o'clock."

He had to climb on a chair, take the clock down and change the time.

Later in the day, he went to soccer with a family friend. The twins went to their twin-friends' house. Then after soccer, YoungestBoy went to his friend's house. While they were all gone, I put Babygirl down for her nap and my mother came over to sit with her while I went to a big school rummage sale. (Books, glorious books, at cheap prices.) When I came home and my mom left, the doorbell rang. There stood the neighbor boy.

I said, "Hey, the boys aren't home."

He said, "Where are they?"

I said, "They went to play at their friends' houses."

He held up a Gamecube game, twirled it around and said, "Can I come in and play anyway?"

I said, "No."

He said, "That's not fair! My Gamecube is broken!"

I said, "Bummer for you. Buh-bye!" and kind of eased the door closed with him still facing me.

Now. YoungestBoy is home. The neighbor boys must have been watching out the window because they came over moments later. The twins called to ask if their twin friends can spend the night. I said, "Well. Hmmm. What do you plan to do?" and they said, "Watch a movie on television," and I couldn't think of a single reason why I should say "no," so I said, "Fine."

Their mother called to ask me one question: "Have you lost your mind? Are you on drugs?" Wait. That's two questions. At any rate, I said, "Hey, what's two more when I'm stuck here anyway?"

And she said, "Well, I figured since your husband is gone you have one less pair of adult hands."

And I said (God forgive me), "Do you actually think he helps out when he's here?" Then I blurted, "WHO SAID THAT?" leaving my friend silent and puzzled for a moment before she laughed.

Well, that's not true, of course. My husband is helpful. It is good to have a partner. I am thankful for him. And I'm saying that even though he never reads this blog.

So, the house will soon be full of kids again, but at least I had a mini-break in the middle of this day. Otherwise, I might be out of my mind. Or taking drugs. Or making jokes at my husband's expense.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Paint Schmaint

Well, I decided not to paint tonight. Why am I so surprised? I am a slothful excuse for a human being.

YoungestBoy had to go to school today, so I took the other kids with me to run a few errands. The twins did their lessons haphazardly before and after our excursion and while I was putting Babygirl to sleep (and falling asleep myself), TwinBoyA did TwinBoyB's work--both math and vocabulary. I guess they didn't think I'd be able to tell the difference between their handwriting. What's a mom to do?

Tonight YoungestBoy went to his third (or fourth?) birthday party of the school year. My big boys went to that many birthday parties in their whole lives, just about. When I went to pick him up tonight from the party, I spotted him across the room, face flushed, his friend's dad standing nearby. I said, "Is he all right?" and the dad told me that he'd fallen and hit his head while being wheeled around in a giant tire-thing. He was so sweaty his hair was drenched.

He seemed fine, though, but he cried some on the way home, mentioning to me that he couldn't get his shoes off so he could jump in the bounce-house thing. (Yes, that's the technical term for the inflatable jump-thing.) I said, "Why didn't you ask for help?" and he said, "I did!" and I said, "And no one would help you?" and he said, "I'm just crying because my head hurts."

Poor kid. He had fun, despite his last-minute injury. And once I gave him some Advil and a drink of water, he forgot his pain.

And now, thirty more minutes until the children are in bed. Not that I'm counting.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Eight Is Definitely Enough

Remember this show that ran from 1977 to 1981? Well, me neither, because I wasn't really watching much television in those days, but I did manage to see enough of that show to wonder why those kids all looked so dissimilar. And boy, I wished I had that long sheet of butt-length hair that one of the daughters had. In my youth, long hair was everything. I dreamed of long hair and then Farrah came along and I was all about wings. But Eight is Enough.

What brings this to mind today, you ask? This afternoon, I did a head-count and found that eight certainly is enough. DaycareKid didn't even come today, yet I managed to spend an afternoon with eight children in my house. And eight is enough.

I feel like a terrible American citizen and schooling-at-home mother because not only did I not observe Veteran's Day, I only gave it passing thought--once when I thought what a terrible American citizen I am and then again when I realized there would be no mail delivery today. It's awfully strange not to have school on a Thursday and then send the kids back to school on Friday.

My twins were peeved that I expected them to do lessons today. But since we lost our internet connection earlier this week, they fell a little behind. I really had no choice but to make them do school. They'll thank me when they are grown. Or not.

Despite the siren song of The Secret Life of Bees (which I heartily recommend and, yes, Beth, the library should have it), I rose above and beyond my usual standard of mediocrity (keeping the kids alive, basically) and cleaned up the backyard, even mowing the lawn and gathering trash and sweeping up giant piles of Douglas fir needles. The trees are in our neighbor's yard and dump an endless, prickly supply of rusty needles. The visiting twins came outside and I said, "Hey, what are your plans?" and they blinked and said, "We're going to work on the moat." I said, "Fine, but no water, okay?"

So, they continued to dig near the back fence. They have quite a tributary system happening there.

I did not paint.
I did not do much laundry.

Tonight, I sat in Babygirl's room and while she watched her Barney video, I read by the light of a small book-light. She sat on her knees right in front of the small television with its built-in VCR, mesmerized. She asked for a banana. Finished that and asked for an apple. Then, she turned around and said, "I dance?" I said, "Sure, you can dance."

First, she held onto the wire television stand as if it were a ballet barre, and danced. Then she swung her arms and did a little step from side to side. The room was dark, lit only by the television and my book-light, so her silhouette glowed with the flickering light of Barney. I looked up from my book and saw her sparse blond hair forming a halo around her bobbing head and the image brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. She looked around to see if I were watching, then danced on.

I know she won't dance to Barney forever, but I hope she'll always have moments when she can only respond by jumping to her feet and swaying to the music. And I hope I won't be too busy to notice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

My Husband's Leaving Me

Well, he's leaving, but he'll be back. He's just going to Minnesota on business for four days. He leaves early in the morning, so on one hand, I'm a little frantic about making preparations. I need to get to Target for laundry detergent and meringue cookies. I'd like to go to the video store to rent DVDs. We probably need more milk.

And I hate to take the children shopping. I can't think while they are careening around the store and bombarding me with questions. And it always costs me more when they come along because I am a pushover in the grocery store.


The irrational thing is that I always imagine I will start and finish some type of enormous project while my husband's away. This time, I've settled on painting. My entryway and hallway need to be painted. Why not paint while I am outnumbered four-to-one by children? Why not paint while I am the sole adult in charge? Why not, indeed?

The only thing standing between me and progress is this little book, The Secret Life of Bees. I'm not sure I can let latex paint and my green, soon-to-be orange-gold, entryway come between me and this fiction.

As for my husband, he'll miss us, about as much as he'd miss having a rock in his shoe.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

All Creatures Great and Small

When I was older than eleven and younger than fifteen, I fell in love with veterinary medicine, a al James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small . Even the description of plunging a hand deep into the innards of a pregnant cow did not dull my dreams of becoming a veterinarian myself, preferably one who lived in Scotland.

My parents, in a strange bid to force me face-to-face with reality, arranged for me to work on weekends for a goat farmer. This job required me to ride my bicycle a good twenty miles up and down rolling hills to the goat farm.

The goat farmer was a portly woman with stick-straight, frizzy, gray hair, which hung down her fat back. I can't remember her name, but I remember very clearly being introduced to a pen of small goats. I was given a knife and some clippers. She demonstrated how I was to trim the hooves of these smelly creatures. Then she left.

She left me with her son, a teenager or a young man who made me acutely aware of being with him, and not in a cozy, comfortable way. But I didn't have time to worry because I had goats to fix.

I caught the uncooperative goats and I trimmed and clipped and shaved their hooves, only drawing a bit of blood.

I can only remember one other incident at the goat farm in which the goat farmer woman had me help her shear the goats. I guess they were angora goats.

We brought the goat into the dim kitchen where the goat farmer prepared to shear the goats by stripping down to her underpants. They were giant, white, granny-pants, for which I give thanks. If thongs had been the fashion back in the seventies, I might have seen much more of the goat farmer than I desired. As it was, my adolescent self was horrified to view a grown woman in her underpants, especially a woman with a generously protruding stomach filling out her cotton panties.

I can't imagine I was much help. I remember nothing, other than the fact that the goat woman sheared the goats in her kitchen, while wearing underpants. Sometimes I think I must have dreamed that part, or maybe I dreamed the whole thing--the job, the bicycle ride, the bleeding goat hooves. I think I was paid in goat milk.

I didn't work at that farm for long. Soon after, I worked at a health food store and then graduated to Taco Time, where I learned how to properly roll a bean burrito or a soft taco.

I gave up my dreams to be a veterinarian somewhere along the line. The idea of reaching up a cow vagina didn't bother me, but the vision of that goat farmer woman in her gigantic white underpants frightened me forever.

And that's what I've been thinking about lately. Strange jobs. Paths not taken. Seeing people in their underpants.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Going, Going, Gone!

Today is my husband's day off. He asked what my plans were for the day and I fell to the floor, laughing my fool head off. Plans! Who makes plan? I have kids who school at home and a two year old.

Actually, I said, "Well, I really need to write my Student Academic Plans and if you could take Babygirl out of here for a couple of hours, that would be so helpful."

He, being a Superior Husband and all, agreed. Off they went.

I sat at the computer and clicked on K12.com to gather the list of assignments for today for the boys. My internet connection kept wavering though, jiggling and swaying like a suspension bridge, and then BOOM. I was off-line.

I rebooted. And clicked. And switched to the other computer. And rebooted it. And briefly found myself connected again before plunging into the dark world of disconnection.

How did we survive without our high-speed internet connection?

I called Comcast to ask if there were some type of outage, found out nothing, unplugged everything, rebooted and found myself linked to the on-line world yet again.

By this time, though, the day had flown by and my husband and Babygirl were back from their adventure to Kristy Kreme. I had achieved nothing, but my boys completed most of their lessons before we lost our connection yet again.

I haven't caught on my daily-read blogs. I haven't answered email. I didn't finish my record-keeping for K12.com.

You'd think that my house should be spic-n-span and that the laundry would all be put away since I spent so much of my day flapping in the wind without my internet anchor. Alas, not true. Between my meeting at school this afternoon, a meeting tonight and grocery-shopping, I feel farther behind tonight than I did when I woke up this morning.

By the way, Babygirl (who was 2 in September) can play on the internet. I set her up with pbskids.org and she plays games. She knows how to click the red "X" at the upper right hand corner. She can manipulate the mouse. She knows how to put in a CD and play her toddler game. I am pretty impressed.

Next time my computer loses its internet connection, I know who I'm calling.

That's right. Babygirl, Computer Whiz-Girl, Age 2. I'm having business cards made up right away.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Boring, But True

Slept in. Avoided traditional Saturday morning donuts. Took Babygirl to bank, shoe store, church bazaar, grocery store. Babygirl looked at "girl" in mirror at shoe store, apparently not recognizing herself. Sometimes I feel the same way. Where did my baby go? And who is that wrinkly-eyed, doughy-chinned woman holding my Babygirl in the mirror? (Oh, what an unpleasant mental image! I apologize. Please erase that and continue to think of me as, oh, say Julia Roberts. No, someone more my age. Yes, that's it--Brooke Shields.)

While waiting for shoe store to open, Babygirl ran up and down the sidewalk four times. A two year old can be so easy to entertain.

This afternoon, YoungestBoy went to yet another birthday party. He's quite the popular party guest. Next Friday he has another party to attend.

TwinBoyA read two books in two days. He's insatiable and wanted to know if we could go to the library tomorrow. (It's closed.)

I went to a movie tonight: Shall We Dance, with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. It was an amusing film, made more so by the woman behind me with the hearty, joyful laugh.

Babygirl sang all afternoon. Apparently, a song was stuck in her head because she kept singing, "I. Love. You. You. Love. Me. We're. A. Hap-py. Fal-i-my." (Barney theme-song.) I laughed at how she sang "family."

Have you ever noticed how some people's lives seem so portable? In the six years we've lived here, we've seen people come and go. A military family I know has moved from here to Hawaii and then to North Carolina. My mom has moved three times in these six years. One close friend moved from Kansas to Vermont and then Missouri. What is it with these people who just carry around their lives like a potted plant? They can just up and go and then plunk down in a new sunny spot at a moment's notice.

And here I am, growing roots deep into the soil, growing impossibly tangled with the neighboring perennials, stuck in one spot. Stuck?

I'm planted in a lovely spot. We stayed in a pot for so long, growing slightly root-bound until we had to choose, decide, break the pot and stay awhile. But I am slightly wistful for the portable days of the past, although I am really loving my golden hued living room. That color looks fabulous with my autumn decorations.

And now, I'll end this tortured analogy. Feel free to throw clay pots and daffodil bulbs for dragging you through the mud.

p.s. After more thought, I realized that the longest I've ever lived anywhere is six years, even in my childhood. No wonder I'm worrying about getting stuck in the mud here.

Friday, November 05, 2004

"I want a cheeseburger and a doll."

Funny Girl
Friday! The twins went to their friends' house to play, so dinnertime found me in the car, heading for Wendy's with the two youngest kids in the backseat. "What do you want tonight?" I asked YoungestBoy and he recited his order: "Chicken tenders, fries and a chocolate shake-thing."

Then Babygirl piped up: "I want a cheeseburger and a doll."

I laughed and she said, "I am so funny!"

Two year olds make you laugh so hard that it makes up for the times you grit your teeth and cover your ears to drown out their screams. This morning, she was playing her computer game--she clicks the mouse and everything--when she clicked on the letter "K" which brought up a picture of a kangaroo.

She climbed down and came into the family room where I was folding laundry. "I want a kangaroo!" I said, "We don't have a kangaroo." She stomped prettily and whined, "I want a kangaroo on the t.v.!" I said, "There are no kangaroos on the t.v."

Then she burst into flames.

Inattentive Mothering or Are You Talking to Me?
I can't tell you how many times I realize that someone, somewhere is talking to me. I say, "Are you talking to me?" which reminds me of Robert Deniro in Taxi Driver: "You talking to me? You talking to me? You talking to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? You talking to me? Well, I'm the only one here." . . . even though I never even saw that movie.

I wonder if my children will ever realize that I have thoughts and that many times I'm actually in the middle of talking to myself--or listening to myself, rather. If I don't answer, they up the volume or simply chant, "MOM! Mom! MOM!" until I vaguely look around and say, "Are you talking to me?" and I've turned into Robert Deniro again.

I'm not sure if they talk to me because I am inattentive or if I am inattentive because they are always talking to me. At any rate, on one hand, I think children do best if they are left on their own--within certain boundaries, of course. I don't want to hover and wipe their chins when they are 11 years old. On the other hand, am I missing their childhoods because I am so distracted by my internal dialogue and external noise? Am I paying enough attention? Can you ever pay enough attention? And if you pay enough attention, will you spontaneously combust from the effort?

On Being Judgmental
I've been thinking about how easy it is to be judgmental. It takes no effort to look out from the safety of our front doors and judge each other. I do it in big and small ways all the time--judging people who wear slippers in public, for instance, or wondering at those in the movie-theater who have such bad taste in movies.

If you say you are not judgmental, you are probably deceiving yourself. That includes me, of course. But with awareness comes--hopefully--understanding and change. This insight courtesy of Hillary, who pointed out that I do the very thing I criticize others for doing.

And now, I promise not to call Michael Moore an idiot again. At least in print.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm Scared

Don't Look Now!
I had a seriously frightening thought today. Next month is Christmas. Next month. That's the month right after this one. I'll be hiding behind the powdered sugar.

One Small Political Comment

The election is over and maybe now, I'll go back to seeing commercials for cars I'll never own and tampons that stop leaks in rowboats. My junk mail will be credit card offers and grocery store flyers. When the phone rings, it won't be a pause, click and recorded voice. That in itself is a relief.

What has bugged me in these most recent weeks are the comments by the "other" side which have degenerated into name-calling and seething judgments. I vote Republican because I favor smaller government. I vote Republican because I believe in the protection of human life. Not that it matters, though. I live in a predominantly Democratic state (a "blue" state--our electoral votes went to Kerry). But still. I voted.

Here's the thing, though. I vote for reasons that make rational, logical sense to me. Just because my reasons are different than a Democrat's reasons does not mean I am stupid or naive or blind. For people to suggest that over half of the people in this country are idiotic and short-sighted and ignorant is . . . well, idiotic and short-sighted and ignorant.

Anyway. I love my Democratic friends. I respect their beliefs. I disagree, but we want different things from our government. I would never judge their intelligence by their political belief system, though. That just seems silly.

With Ribbons in Her Hair

Babygirl cheers for treats!  Posted by Hello


Mundane Stuff
Babygirl declared yesterday, "I gotta wash the dishes!" And she did. She stood on a chair at the sink, sprayed water, moved dishes from one sink to the next, cracked a glass and got her clothes wet. What fun she had. This time around, I am wiser and I let her practice doing chores in the hopes that one day, she will actually do the chores with a smile on her face.

When I started motherhood with a set of twins, I didn't encourage this sort of thing because the mess of two children playing in water at the sink is not really just twice the mess of one child. It's more like four times the mess. And they fought over everything. They still do.

Right now, one of the twins is working on spelling while the other works on literature. What puzzles me is that they choose to work on the crazy yellow couch in the golden living room rather than in their room, where I painstakingly set up separate study areas for each of them. I always forget that they are not me. If I would adore my own separate study area, they will hate it.

I Blame Paris Hilton
What's up with people carrying their little yappy dogs into stores around here? Two times in the past week, I've seen someone clutching a pointless little dog in their arms while they shopped--once at the grocery store! What's that all about? Does everyone think they are the exception to the rule?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Anonymous Comments

An anonymous person made the following comment on my blog a moment ago: Why not just be happy for what God gave you and shut up for a while! Did you know there was a war on and plenty of women are losing their children every day. How about grabbing yours, thanking God, and stop whining!

Frankly, it's impossible to take an anonymous commenter seriously and comments like this always crack me up.

But to answer the questions:

Question: Why not be happy for what God gave you and shut up for awhile?
Answer: Your question presumes I am not happy, which is a false presumption. Furthermore, is happiness really the point of life? I think not. Finally, if I shut up, who would write my blog entries? Were you hoping I would ask you? I don't even know your telephone number!

Question: Do you know there is a war on?
Answer: Well, yes, I did. In fact, a friend on my street is expecting her first baby in three weeks. Her husband is serving in Iraq and will miss the birth.

Question: How about grabbing yours, thanking God and stopping whining?
Answer: How about you find a blog you feel more comfortable reading? How about you sign your name to your comments, you big coward?

Thanks for stopping by.

Oh, but before you go, I have a question for you. Do you know how to use a question mark? Or did you fail grammar in elementary school?

(Yeah, that was kind of unnecessary, wasn't it? But at least I'm signing my name.)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Baby Kicks, Detours and Stuff in Between

Tonight, I stretched out next to YoungestBoy and read him a long library book. I had a sudden flash of nostalgia for those days when I could feel a baby squirming inside. How I loved being pregnant. After so many years of infertility, the shock of tiny in utero knocks always delighted me. Always.

When I was pregnant, for the first time ever, I admired my body. Instead of hating the imperfect contours of my body, I found myself in awe of my body's functions. I stroked my swelling belly--which before I'd always despised because it was never flat. Ever. Now, I adored my round stomach. When I could feel the baby swirl around and hiccup, I exulted in my participation in a miracle.

How can you not want to participate in a miracle as often as possible? I totally understand those women who repeat this experience over and over again. But even if I had a choice, I'm not sure I would make the choice to be open to unlimited pregnancies. Maybe I'm selfish--though God knows, that isn't an easy state in which to remain when one is a mother--but I do hope to have a life beyond my children.

I see myself as the planet and my children as my orbiting moons. It seems like some mothers function more like the chocolate shell on a dipped cone. Their ice cream children melt and they are a pointless, broken shell. The children are the center and somehow, when the children grow-up, those moms are empty. Of course, this is entirely speculation since I am in the midst of the chaos of child-rearing and having an empty nest sounds appealing. (I know, Suzanne, is probably making a clucking sound right now at my short-sightedness. I should probably sit on my hands and quit pontificating.)

I want to read an entire novel during the daytime, but beyond that, I have private dreams and aspirations that do not involve my status as a mother. I once said that being a stay-at-home mother is not what I am, it's what I do. I don't define myself by my day-to-day activities, but by my internal self, the part of me that thinks and daydreams and reads and observes. That's the part of me which is often drowned out by the noise in my household and by the row after row of demands. That's the part that stays up late at night.

As I approach forty (in January--send gifts!), I wonder about my life in a few years. Will I school the boys for the next six years? Will they go back into public school? Will I go back to school and pursue a career? Will I forfeit the satisfaction of a much-dreamed of career for a job that merely pays the bills instead? Will I ever write for publication? Will the laundry all be clean and put away on the same day? Or will the laundry baskets always overflow? And why, oh why, do Goldfish crackers crumble into a thousand pieces when they are crunched into the carpet?

In a way, I've never felt like the mastermind behind my own life. Obstacles have determined my course more than anything else, obstacles like available jobs for my husband, my dad's death, our infertility, money woes, my children's learning issues. It's as if I'm a Pac-Man, working my way through the maze, not heading the direction of my choosing, but scurrying away from monsters who will eat me in a quest for fruit (magic pills?) which will keep me safe for a moment.

Does anyone fully feel like the controller of their own destiny? Do people actually live lives according to a grand plan? Am I the only one without a road map? Do some people get to fill in the blanks and not just pick between "A", "B", or "C"?

(I just realized that I sound like an atheist. I believe God has a plan for my life, but sometimes, just occasionally, I wish He would give me a road-map so I could pack adequately for the journey. I don't think that's too much to ask.)

I also think that perhaps learning to enjoy the ride, especially the so-called detours, is probably the point of all of this. After all, if you never leave the freeway, you never experience the worlds' best drive-in and other joys on streets where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour.
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