Thursday, March 31, 2005

I Have to Know

A questioning has been burning within my gut. I must know.

Do you or your significant other iron blue jeans?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

More Interview Answers to My Questions

Here are SG's answers to my recent interview questions at The World According to Sass. Be sure to go over and say hello to Sassy Girl!

How To Freak Me Out

Without telling me, turn off the ringer to the kitchen phone.

Leave three messages on my telephone answering machine. (I'm old-fashioned. What can I say?)

First message: "Hey, I'm at your house, picking up the tape, but it's not there. Call me. I'm going to XXX this morning, but before I leave town, I want to deliver the tape to my secretary so she can finish typing it today."

Second message: "Hey, I'm still in town. Call me and let me know if the tape is ready to be picked up. Are you okay? Maybe your husband could deliver the tape to my office if it's not ready before I leave town. Call me."

Third message: "I'm in XXX now and my secretary is standing by, ready to type that tape. I hope you are okay. Are you okay? I haven't been able to reach you all morning. I called your husband and he's not at his office. Is everything all right? Please call me at XXX-XXXX."


At that point (1:24 p.m.), I knew that the reason my boss hadn't been able to reach me was because someone turned off the telephone ringer downstairs. I knew this because at about noon, the worthless, barely working cordless phone was sitting on the couch and began to ring. But the kitchen phone did not ring. I picked up the kitchen phone, however, to hear my husband's voice. He told me he'd called earlier, but I hadn't answered. He was in Portland for the day.

I looked at the buttons on the phone and saw that the "ringer" button was switched to off. I turned it back on.

It was an hour later that I discovered the phone messages upstairs.

At that point, I panicked. Not long ago, I attempted to rewind a cassette tape (which I transcribe as a part-time job). The irreplaceable, valuable-for-legal-reasons cassette tape jammed up and quit working. This time, the envelope containing the cassette apparently disappeared from my front door, where I'd taped it for my boss to pick up. He told me to have it ready by 7:30 a.m. and I'd taped it there at 7:15 a.m., just about the time DaycareKid arrived.

I put Babygirl and DaycareKid to bed, then came downstairs to investigate. I called my boss: "I left that cassette taped to my front door for you to pick up. My phone ringer was off all day, so I didn't get your message. I'm going to figure out what happened and get back to you." I left a message on DaycareKid's dad's cell phone, "Uh, you didn't happen to see or accidentally take an envelope off my front door, did you?"

I walked outside and scoured my front yard for evidence of the envelope or the cassette. Nothing, other than TwinBoyB's socks which are balled up and soaked by rain on the front lawn (and I used the word "lawn" loosely).

Finally, I called my boss's office to speak to the secretary. She answered after half a dozen rings. I said, "Do you happen to have that tape?"

And she said, "Yes."

"You do?" I said, stunned and relieved.

My boss had his wife come and pick up the envelope and deliver it to the office.

Now, DaycareKid's dad will wonder at my extremely bizarre message and my boss will wonder at my groveling message, but I don't care. I didn't lose the cassette. A quirky thief is not prowling my neighborhood for envelopes stuck to doors.

The end.

Weird Symptoms

My 7-year old boy has a mysterious illness. When he came through the door Monday after school, his face was flushed. I said, "Are you feeling all right?" and he said he did, but later, he complained that his eyes hurt, his legs hurt, his waist hurt.

I have a cold myself, as does Babygirl, but YoungestBoy gave it to us. This appears to be something new. So I kept him home from school yesterday. We hardly knew he was here--he quietly rested and played, though at one point, he did join us circling the block on his bicycle.

This morning, he came downstairs, cheeks unusually pink and when I asked, "How are you feeling today?" he said, "Well, my ankle hurts." A bit later, when I asked again, he informed me, "My thumbs are smooth."

I gave him some ibuprofen (I'm not sure it cures smooth thumbs, though) and plan to send him to school for at least half a day. He excels in school, but maybe he's just trying to get out of going? Then again, he has those pink cheeks.

The mysteries of childhood lead to dilemmas for mothers. To send or not to send? That is the question.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Missing What I Won't Have Some Day

Sunday morning, Easter, I woke up with a cold. DaycareKid shared his cold germs with Babygirl and with me, so we were both sniffling and crabby. Still, we went to church and did our duty volunteering in the nursery. The children all looked presentable and I teetered on my high heels and my short dress. Twelve children played in the nursery under my care.

And so goes another Easter Sunday. I keep telling myself that motherhood will get easier when my youngest child gets a little older. I've been telling myself this for a decade. And then when my twins were about four, I became pregnant, despite the doctor's prediction that we were "unlikely" to ever conceive. When that miracle baby boy approached three years of age, I told myself, now things will get easier. That was about the time I became pregnant again, which no longer seemed like a miraculous feat, but more along the lines of a divine practical joke.

Not that I wasn't thrilled and grateful to welcome another child into our world and family. It's just that the spacing of my children has not been what I might have ordered, had I been able to order them like a Chinese meal. ("And could I have three eggrolls to go with that?") Some mothers spend a total of four or five years going through the baby/toddler/preschooler stage because they have their children close together. Our kids are almost five years apart and so I've been living in baby-toddler-preschooler-land for eleven years.

And if I weren't breathing through my mouth because my nose is congested and if I weren't so tired from waking up at 5:30 a.m. (yes, even this morning, sick and despite the rain) to walk . . . well, I might be concentrating on the sunshine and rainbows that dot the landscape when you live with a small child. I'd regale you with tales of Babygirl's hearty laughter when my mother popped Babygirl's bubbles with a stuffed bunny. I'd smile as I'd tell you about Babygirl's tilted head and her squinted eyes when she questions me. I'd describe the joy of holding her long-legged body against mine and rocking, even though she won't let me sing to her.

But oh. I am just so tired of living with smallish people. I want to move on to the next stage, though as I move on, I'll find myself living with two teenagers and I hear that teenagers and toddlers resemble each other in many ways. Lucky me.

And then, I will close my eyes and dream of the days when I had a houseful of sweaty, noisy, giggling little children. And I'll miss this, just a little.

Or a lot.

Monday, March 28, 2005


To him, words are a particle of sand stuck in his eye.
To me, words are soothing eyedrops.

To him, words are sharp rocks digging into his bare feet.
To me, words are soft mossy green carpet.

To him, words are shards of glass, drawing blood.
To me, words are smooth pearls slipping through fingers.

To him, words are a slap on the face.
To me, words are a touch, gentle caress.

To him, words are slimy slugs, leaving a sticky trail.
To me, words are butterfly wings, dancing in the breeze.

To him, words are a tangled tight knot.
To me, words are a satin cord tied in a bow.

To him, words are a paper cut.
To me, words are a band-aid.

To him, words are a sharp stick in the eye.
To me, words are a flagpole displaying a flapping flag.

To him, words are the grime remaining in the tub.
To me, words are the foaming, scented bubbles.

To him, words are playing cards, refusing to stack.
To me, words are perfectly weighted blocks, towering into the sky.

To him, words are an overdraft notice from the bank.
To me, words are a fortune bequeathed.

To him, words are a toothache.
To me, words are a Farrah Fawcett toothy grin.

To him, words are a straightjacket, escape impossible.
To me, words are a vibrant silk gown.

To him, words are a noose.
To me, words are oxygen.

To him, words are the enemy with rifle drawn.
To me, words are the faithful friend with icy drink waiting.

No wonder my son hates to write. Words trip him, confound him, confuse him, push his face into the ground. Composing words together for him is like riding a ski lift into the mountains and getting tangled when he tries to leap off. Then, to add insult to injury, his ski pops off and an avalanche buries him.

This boy just can't write. He hates words . . . my beloved words.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

My $1.87 Bargain

At Target this afternoon, my shopping cart kept getting log-jammed by inconsiderate shoppers who clogged the aisles. So many people were crowded into the Easter candy section, bunched together like platelets that I, the red-blood cell, could not push my way past them, so I kept backing my shopping cart up and circumventing the clot.

I found a rectangular block which will allow me to buff my own fingernails. It cost $1.87. I felt so smug, so vindicated when I purchased it and shined my own thumbnail.

I am the Queen of Bargains. Really. I've never been one of those women who can buy two grocery carts full of food and pays with $2.32 and ten thousand coupons, but I do know my way around a thrift store and the Marshall's clearance racks. Tomorrow, Easter Day will find us clothed head-to-toe in bargain apparel. The beauty of it is that no one will know that my twin sons' brand new Ralph Lauren striped polo shirts cost $3.00 and $5.00 each. I splurged on YoungestBoy's shockingly bright yellow Gap shirt ($12 on sale), but I found a pair of Gap khakis at Value Village for only $2.99. The twins will wear new jeans from Nordstrom ($11.00 each).

I'll be wearing a lilac silk frock ($40--original $159.00 tag still on it) and Ralph Lauren patent leather pumps ($18.00). Babygirl's hot pink linen dress with its white Peter Pan collar and belt cost $3.50 at Value Village.

The challenge tomorrow will be to say "thank you" when people comment on our appearance. What I want to say is, "Three-fifty, Value Village," when the Church Ladies compliment Babygirl's dress.

The most holy of all Christian holidays will find me in the church nursery tomorrow, hobbling on my spiked heels. It's my day to be the official volunteer attendant, so I'll be watching over fifteen to twenty little ones dressed in their Easter finery. After church, I'll create a fancy dinner just for us. My husband will nap with Babygirl and the children will nibble at their solid chocolate Easter bunnies. The mundane mingles with the breathtaking memory of that morning so long ago when the woman crept to the tomb, only to find it empty.

Tomorrow, serving is my spiritual worship, and I will do so with the full awareness of my risen Savior, even though I am so easily distracted. I will not complain (as usual), but I will remember that Jesus paid full price when He paid the ransom for me. I will miss singing hymns and hearing the choral arrangments during the worship service, but my service in the nursery and in the kitchen will be my personal worship service, a celebration of Life's triumph over death and the grave.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Please Explain

Would someone--anyone--please explain to me why the hours from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. go by so S-L-O-W-L-Y and the hours from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. speed by in a flash?

Also, why am I the only person who notices trash on the floor?

Did someone elect me Queen of all Flushing? Because I seem to the only one managing the toilet handles in this house. And why do my kids put the toilet paper on upside down? Haven't they noticed how it's always been done?

And one more thing. Did Hillary really stop reading my blog or did she just stop commenting? I think of her now, whenever I iron my husband's pants. (I'd insert a link here, but my head hurts, it's almost 11 p.m. and I will be up and ready to walk in six and a half hours. But good news: Today, I didn't throw anything!)

Babygirl Goes Incognito

Where's Babygirl?  Posted by Hello

Apparently, she's practicing her technique for avoiding the paparazzi.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I Shouldn't Even Say This

You know how you like to look as if you have things together? Or at least you try to keep from looking like a lunatic? You might be frothing at the mouth, screaming at your kids, but the phone rings and you say, "Hello?" in the sweetest voice imaginable? Or someone says to you in public, "How are you?" and you say, "Oh, fine. Busy, but fine!" when you are really thinking, "I'm drowning! If I have to wipe one more nose or smell one more stinky kid, I will throw myself out the window!"

Mostly, I strive to appear like a sane woman who has it sort of together. I mean, most days I don't wear foundation and mascara and blush, so my face is bleary and lipless and blotchy which is always embarrassing when someone unexpectedly stops by. And recently a mom-friend told me she'd never seen me in jeans, only sweatpants, which is purely coincidental, because I don't wear sweatpants all the time. Really. I don't. But I don't look like Sar*h J*ssica Parker, dancing my way through a Gap commercial, either. (Everytime I see that, I think, she's my age, which is clearly wrong.)

But I know people think I am calm and sedate and rational. And today I wasn't. At all.

I shouldn't even say this--after all, what will you think--but today my twins made me furious. All I wanted them to complete for school was one unit of spelling and a few vocabulary lessons. Simple, right? They both woke up with the emotional stability of a teenage girl experiencing premenstrual syndrome. TwinBoyA actually narrowed his left eye at me while snarling through a curled lip when I went over his science assessment from yesterday. Both twins refused to do their spelling. Their defiance is what set me off.

Pretty soon I was gritting my teeth and demanding that they work. They dug their heels in. The baby was fussing in my arms while Babygirl and DaycareKid squabbled over toys. At some point, TwinBoyA expressed his displeasure with me by walking through the kitchen and casually knocking a high chair tray and a couple other items to the floor. He has been throwing things in fits of anger since before he could walk. He used to throw furniture--the child-sized rocker was a favorite--but now, he just slyly displaces things--I will find a stack of CDs on the floor or a pencil snapped in two and discarded behind a chair.

When he purposely tipped things onto the floor, I went berserk inside my head. I pursed my lips into a tight line and then went to his room and opened his headboard and threw his stack of playing cards on the floor. I dumped his bedding (unmade bedding) on the floor. I tossed some books on the floor. I emptied a plastic container full of blocks on the floor. TwinBoyB watched me do this. He was completely shocked. I did not care. I took the folded laundry from the couch and deposited it on the floor between their beds.

Both boys went upstairs and I found them playing Nintendo. I took the controllers out and told them to finish their lessons. They tried to make deals with me: "We're not doing spelling. How about if we do music instead?" No. No. No.

I was so angry that I fantasized about grabbing the car keys and leaving the house. I imagined enrolling them back in public school next year. In fact, I called TwinBoyA over to me and I informed him how very close he was to returning to school. I said, "So if you'd like to be back in the halls of school, having people make fun of you, just go ahead because that's where you're heading."

I thought of Mt. St. Helen's . . . how it explodes when there is no easy outlet for its molten lava. I was like that volcano today--bubbling with fiery hot fury.

I thought I was such an easy-going, calm, patient, loving person. And then I had kids. Motherhood is a continual lesson in disappointment with myself. I thought I'd be better. I thought I'd have more control over how this situation turned out. I thought my kids would be more like me and less like themselves. I thought my kids would want to please me.

I thought parenting would be a stroll through a flower-filled park (quit laughing) and instead, it turns out to be an uphill climb in the rain. At night. Carrying four kids on my back. Without adequate footwear. Or a light. Or food. And all the while, they are chattering in my ears and arguing and calling each other "Stupid."

My kids are more like magnifying glasses than anything else. They have supersized spotlights which peer into the very corners of my being, illuminating the cockroaches and dust and mucky ugliness that lurks in me. I much preferred the public me that I used to know, the unruffled person who was unchallenged and unquestioned, the person who excelled at things she tried. My kids will never know that person. They only know the screaming me who retaliates like a child and who says things like, "STOP. TALKING. TO. ME."

For the record, I did clean up the mess I made. So did TwinBoyA. They also both finished their spelling units and we discussed their behavior later. They promise to be better, to do better, to work harder tomorrow.

When TwinBoyA said I overreacted, I peered at him and said, "Child, if you light a fuse, you just might set off a bomb."

I need a vacation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why Did You Start Blogging?

I've been blogging now for almost a year and a half. I started blogging when Brandie suggested it. I used to be part of a parenting message board and Brandie thought it would be fun if we all started journals to share a glimpse of our lives with each other.

So, a handful of us did just that.

A few of us developed an addiction to blogs and blogging.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. How'd you get started? How long have you been blogging? You know me. I'm curious and can't stop asking questions.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Note to Self: Eliminate Small Talk Attempts

An amazing thing happened today. I left Babygirl (and the boys, too) in the care of their grandmother for three hours. This may not seem remarkable to you, but today was the first day I've ever left Babygirl with anyone other than her daddy.

I intended to sneak out while she was napping and then, just at the time we needed to leave, the bedroom opened and Babygirl called out down the stairs, "I waked up early!"

She came down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I chatted with her for a moment, then suggested a video upstairs. She agreed and back up the stairs we went. I turned it on and said, "Hey, I'm going downstairs," and she said (sensing something), "I go downstairs, too." She followed me downstairs and so, I looked at her tousled blond curls and said, "Well, Grandma's going to play with you. I have to go with Daddy for awhile. Bye!" And she said, "Bye!"

I called half an hour later to see if everyone had survived my sudden departure. They had. Wow. No tears at all.

My husband and I were guests at a luncheon. A parishoner who is a doctor and his wife invited us to hear a man lecture, so there I sat in a cozy room with about twenty or thirty doctors. I think there may have been a few other members of clergy, but mostly, doctors, all wearing khakis and cell-phones.

I sat next to the doctor's wife. I don't know her well, so I began with an innocuous question: "Did you grow up in this area?" She did, in the rough side of town. She mentioned how grateful she was for her house now with its view of the sun setting over the Puget Sound. She explained that her mother's grave was near our town, too, which was a comfort to her. Her mother died when she was thirteen and whoever chose the gravesite at that time picked a place far across town from where they lived. Now, though, twenty years later, the grave is near her home.

I said, "What did your mother die from?" I am always curious about these things (I scour obituaries for information, too, about complete strangers)--probably because my own dad died when he was 47.

She said, "My mother committed suicide when I was thirteen."

Please stop me from asking questions which seem innocuous to me but which elicit a painful, awkward response! I obviously need a new set of "small talk questions."

I apologized and extended my sympathy. She said it was no problem, that she's actually going to share her story at a women's meeting soon. God really cared for her and kept her in His palm, she said. She truly is living happily ever after.

As for the lecture, when the man began to speak, my brain stirred from its long nap, sat up, stretched and I scribbed notes to try to keep up. He spoke with a cultured British accent and he talked about morality and philosophy and lofty ideas I seldom probe during my days as a nose-wiper, floor-cleaner, baby-rocker, schooler-of-kids-at-home. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience which made me long for an academic life full of ideas and languid conversation over iced tea.

And then I came home to Babygirl with her crooked grin and my mother with her mint green shoes. I have a mother. I have a daughter. I am thankful.

(I ask too many questions. Beware, should you ever have lunch with me.)

You Have to Read Her Blog

My friend, Gina, is an excellent writer and maintains a witty, fun, terrific blog called Just Another Day. Recently, I asked her five interview questions, which she has answered.

Go. Read. Enjoy. You can thank me later.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Adventures With a Shiny Thumbnail and a Sad Ending

I and my glowing thumbnail were very busy today. We attempted to sleep in, but Babygirl woke us at 7:20 a.m. This is an early hour on a Saturday, yet a full two hours later than my normal wake-up-and-walk time, so I tried not to be bitter.

Saturday morning tradition at our house involves donuts. I combined a trip to the donut shop with a trip to Target to purchase a birthday present and film. Babygirl accompanied me and my glossy thumbnail and although she is darling and cute and fun and all, I much prefer running errands on my own.

At 11 a.m., Babygirl and YoungestBoy and I were standing in the parking lot of our pool club, waiting for the Easter Egg hunt to begin. The twins are officially "too old" for Easter Egg hunting, so they stayed home with my husband. The rain had stopped and I commented to another mom, "Wow, aren't we lucky? I thought it would rain all morning." The cold rain resumed, however, the second the kids began hunting for eggs.

But what's a little precipitation among friends? Babygirl and another two year old were the only ones in their age group, so they each easily scooped up a basket full of plastic eggs. YoungestBoy filled his bucket, too.

We were home long enough for me to clean up the kitchen and start a new load of laundry. Then I took YoungestBoy to a birthday party, this one at a YMCA swimming pool. While the other kids his age frolicked in the safety of life-jackets, he swam underwater, bobbing up for air. This kid loves the water.

When he jumped into the pool, I found a seat on the bleachers with another mom. I didn't know this particular mom, so I introduced myself. She told me she was Lauren's mom and I remembered how YoungestBoy had a crush on Lauren in kindergarten. We chatted as moms on the sidelines tend to do and then I said, "So, do you have other children?" and the second the words escaped my mouth, I remembered with dismay that this was the mom whose two-year old daughter died not long ago.

I said something like, "Oh, I'm sorry. I just remembered--you lost a child, didn't you?" We got past that awkward moment and then I gently asked, "How are you doing?" and gave her the opportunity to talk about her daughter and her loss.

The two year old had a liver disorder, of unknown cause. She had surgery as a newborn and doctors told her parents she'd eventually need a liver transplant. When she was two, they found a perfect match and proceeded with the transplant. Things went terribly wrong and two days before Christmas, she died of complications. The doctors had assured them that there was a ninety-eight percent chance the surgery would be a success, but she died anyway.

And then, less than three months later, I had to ask, "So, do you have other children?"

I thought of other friends I know, how they hate that people are afraid to talk about their lost children, of how people shy away from them, afraid of saying the wrong thing. I can only hope that I did the right thing, said the right thing, listened the right way. If Babygirl died today, I'd want to die, too. But if I lived, I'd want to talk about her endlessly, about the fine blond hair that curls just so above her ears, about the repetoire of songs she sings when she's supposed to be napping, about the way she dances and urges me to dance, too.

Some days are like this post, I guess. You complain because you can't sleep in and joke about your smooth thumbnail and before you know it, you are looking into the sad eyes of a mom with a loss like a giant black hole. Where do you possibly go from there? At the end, you thank God for the children you are so tired of picking up after, rub your thumbnail as if it will cause a genie to appear to do your bidding ("Pick up this mess! Finish the laundry! Wash the windows!") and go to bed, whispering an extra prayer for the mom at the pool who'd give anything to have her daughter back in her arms.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Mr. Smooth Strikes Again

Tonight, a strange man caressed my hand and now I can't stop rubbing my thumbnail.

See, it all started a week or two ago when I couldn't find a thing to wear on a Saturday morning. I had a blue-jeans crisis, which I solved later that weekend by marching myself into Eddie Bauer and plucking a pair of denim jeans from the shelf. I didn't even try them on and didn't have time to take advantage of the buy one, get one half-off sale. I was in a huge hurry.

Since then, I've regretted my hasty purchase of only one pair of jeans. I love them and I want another pair so I can rid my closet of the others that I hate. I had a rough week with the kids, so the second my husband came home, I went shopping. First, I went to my favorite store, Marshall's, where I found an Easter dress and pointy-toed pumps. After that, I headed back to the mall to see if I could get another pair of jeans for half-off the original price.

I parked outside of Macy's and zig-zagged through the store to the mall corridor. I had my force field up, yet the penetrating gaze of a kiosk employee caused some kind of malfunction. I never, ever, ever, ever take a survey or listen to a spiel or even make eye contact in a mall. I just don't. It's a gift, a special psychological shield which protects me from such nonsense. Plus, I have the fat-housewife invisibility thing going on. Works great. Usually.

Yet, this dark-haired man reeled me into his space and asked me, "Do you have natural nails?" And I held up both my dish-pan hands and with a laugh said, "Of course! I'm a housewife!"

He looked at me with pity and compassion and took me by one dried up, wrinkled hand with its one age-spot and said, "Oh, I can help you."

"Let me show you this," Mr. Smooth said. And he gazed into my eyes as he held my hand. I'm afraid I had a little smirk (which he may have mistaken for a grin) on my face because I was so amused and I was thinking, Oh, just wait until I get home! Perfect blog material! His eyes twinkled and I couldn't help but notice his long lashes. And he had some kind of accent, but I'm afraid I couldn't tell you if it was Middle Eastern or Italian or Latin. All I know is that he was buffing my fingernail with a small rectangular block and I was thinking, I'm SO not buying anything. I wonder how much that thing is? and if I ask him how much it is, he'll think I'm going to buy it and I'm not.

I also remembered how my sister once gave me a nail-buffing kit and how it was fun to make my nails shiny and smooth one time and then it was just too much hassle. I think I sold that kit at a garage sale.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smooth is shining and buffing away. When the thumbnail is done, it glimmers and glows and Mr. Smooth smiles and blinks at me and insists I smell the different lotions that accompany the rectangular buffing tool. I sniff each one, make a face at some. He tells me his favorite and asks which one I like. I know where this is going.

Sure enough. "This kind of product would sell for $59.95! But we don't have television commercials. You just tell your friends and I can sell this to you for $29.95."

I raised my eyebrows in a Do-you-think-I-shop-at-Nordstrom's-because-I-just-came-from-the-Marshall's-clearance-rack-where-I-purchased-a-silk-dress-and-patent-leather-Ralph-Lauren-pumps-for-a-grand-total-of-$60-dude-look and said, "I don't think so."

He said, "No?"

I said, "No."

He leaned in conspiratorially and said, "Tell you what. You're probably my last customer of the night, so I can give you the lotion free and the whole thing is only $19.95." I grimaced and said, "Uh, no."

"No?" he said.


He must have mistaken me for a desperate housewife who would fall prey to the handsome hand-holding antics of a long-lashed accented man, but no. I'm no floozy. And I also wouldn't dream of paying $19.95 for a fingernail system when I could buy something similar at Target for half the price.

He said, "Why?"

I said, "Too expensive."

He raised his hands in despair and shrugged and he was done with me. No lingering fingertips on my palm, no fluttering touch on my wrist, nothing. No more flirty gazes into my eyes. My force field snapped back into place and I was invisible again.

I said, "But good job!" and hurried off. He didn't even say good-bye. All I have to remember him by is my silky-smooth thumbnail. I can't stop circling it with my index finger. Mr. Smooth! You have ruined me! I was perfectly content with my neglected nails and now, I am obsessed with the ridge-free zone, the way the light glints off my thumbnail.

So if you a woman walking around tomorrow making tiny circular motions on her thumbnail and pressing said thumb to her upper lip to feel the smoothness, that would be me.

Did You Hear Me Screaming?

I was unable to get Blogger to cooperate with me yesterday, despite my pleas. I hope you didn't miss me too much. (Blogger Support assures me they are working on their issues, but I'm not holding my breath.) By the way, if you are unable to comment using the comment feature, feel free to email me at melodee at gmail dot com.

I "interviewed" two blogging friends. Jan answered her interview questions over at Happy Homemaker. Be sure to say hello and let her know I sent you.

Wash Lady answered her interview questions, too. Check out her answers at Life's Laundry. Again, tell her hello and enjoy her site.

A couple of others are working on their questions, too. I'll post links to them soon.

I'll be back later (God-willing, if the creek don't rise and Blogger cooperates) with something to say. I think. I just might run away from home. I don't like twelve year old boys much today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

One of Hundreds of Questions

As we dropped off his brothers at church for youth group at 6:11 p.m., 7 year old YoungestBoy, remembered that a magician would be performing at his school at 7:00 p.m.

I quickly adjusted my plans and YoungestBoy and I dropped off video games at the rental store, made a quick stop at Target for diapers and microwave popcorn (the essentials). As we shopped, YoungestBoy peppered me with one question after the next. He noted, "Mom, I have hundreds of questions in my mind." As the owner of an already cluttered mind, I find this terribly distracting, yet I play along.

We dropped the diapers off and arrived at the school in the nick of time. The magician did a great job of handling the rowdy little crowd of kids. YoungestBoy was picked to be a helper and not only did he grin at the crowd, but he played along with the magician, exaggerating surprise at the way the magician created a peanut butter and jelly sandwich even though the jars were set on tables six feet apart. (It's complicated. Just trust me on that one.) YoungestBoy is a born performer. He relishes being on stage. I'm a little scared. (But then again, maybe someday he will be able to afford to buy me a house with a pantry.)

Here is the only question I can remember out of the non-stop barrage of curiosity flowing from his brain: "Mom, would you rather lick a slug or touch a great white shark?"

That's easy. I'd touch a shark any day. Under no conditions would I ever lick a slug. At least I have some answers to some of the questions. That's a good start.

Monday, March 14, 2005

"It Could Always Be Worse"

My friend, Brandie, mentioned to me today in an instant message that I haven't written a word since Friday. Why? I offered the following reasons before the phone rang and naptime arrived and I abruptly abandoned our chat.

1) I have been too busy. My husband worked Friday night, most of Saturday and most of Sunday. (Retreat for the board of a rescue mission, funeral, meetings, church, meetings, and then another meeting.) I accepted a transcription job, so I had sixty-four pages to transcribe by this morning. The weather here was glorious, so we spent a lot of time outdoors. I took the kids twice to the school playground where the boys rode bikes, climbed the monkey bars and ran around. Babygirl pedaled her bike, too, and played on the slides. We finished each playground excursion with a McDonald's ice cream cone.

2) I am too boring. My husband worked Friday night, blah, blah, blah, blah. My big outing this week was a drive to The House I Lust After Love to take pictures of the neighborhood for my friend, MarathonMom.

3) No one reads my blog over the weekend anyway. Well, hardly anyone.

Not long ago, the boys read a story in literature called "It Could Always Be Worse." This is a tale of a Jewish man who had come to the end of his rope. He went to his rabbi for advice. He complains how bad things are: he's poor, he and his six kids and in-laws live in a one-room hut. "Believe me, " he says, "--my home is awful, and things could not possibly be worse!"

The rabbi tells the man to take his animals--his cow, goat and some chickens--into his house to live with him. Of course, things get worse, much worse. The man runs to the rabbi to complain. The rabbi tells him to take out the chickens. Soon after, the man runs to the rabbi again, complaining about the goat. The rabbi tells him to remove the goat. Then, the man runs to the rabbi crying about the cow. The rabbi tells him to take the cow out of his house.

Not a day later, the man runs to the rabbi to report, "Rabbi! You've made life sweet again for me. With all the animals out, the house is so quiet, so roomy, and so clean! What a pleasure!" (The End)

And that, my friends, is why staying home with just my four kids feels like a sort of a vacation. Today, DaycareKid didn't come (sick in the night, I guess) and CuteBaby only stayed half a day. I felt liberated. I cleaned out YoungestBoy's closet. I washed the twins' bedding and remade their beds. These chores, done during daylight on a Monday, no less, were a pleasure, because normally, I'm fully occupied by the duties of my regular life: schooling the twins during the morning, taking care of 3-month old CuteBaby, refereeing the squabbles between Babygirl and DaycareKid, answering the phone, interacting with the laundry. (Interacting! Ha!) ( realized very recently that I am a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. I even make more than minimum wage now, a whole lot more if you count my occasional transcription work.)

We left at 4:00 p.m. for the playground and stayed until 5:00 p.m. Normally, my childcare duties extend until 5:30 p.m.

Truly, the days when my twins were babies seem like a picnic compared to the juggling act I perform now. You don't realize how easy it is to parent a baby (or two), until you no longer have time to watch "The View" or "Oprah." You aren't grateful for a non-verbal infant until your house is filled with the shouts of pre-teens and toddlers. You have no idea how easy it is to clean a house when the only ones messing it up are you and your husband because your babies can't use their hands yet. You don't cherish those monontonous hours until later, when you realize your house, now full of chickens, a cow and a goat, wasn't really that bad before. Working around naptime? No big deal. Loneliness? I could cope. Boring television? Oh, if only I could actually locate the remote control and turn the television to something other than Sesame Street.

Those were the days.
These are the days.
For tomorrow, I just might be living with an aardvark. You never know.

It's all in how you look at it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I've Been Unfaithful

I have a confession to make. I never, ever dreamed I would be in this situation, but an email last week changed everything. Before I knew it, I was climbing into the cab of a super-sized pick-up truck and heading out of my neighborhood, leaving my husband and kids behind. Oh sure, I returned that night, but something inside me has irrevocably changed and I will never be the same. Even though I'm here, my heart is there.

You wouldn't be so suprised if I detailed my current living situation, the drabness, how things have broken down without warning. When I was there the other night, I felt whole and new, like a rereleased song with enhanced digital remixing. And when the all-too-short moments passed, we went to Starbucks and drank hot drinks and shivered in the air-conditioning and talked about it. We talked about other things, too, and then I climbed back into the pick-up and back to my regular life in my worn house built in 1972 filled with shabby-not-chic furniture.

I'm in love (you might call it "lust," but I think this is the Real Thing) and I don't think it's too soon to admit it. When you fall in love, no amount of boring logic and reasonable thought matters. When I saw how big it was, that's when I knew. I hadn't even recognized my longing until that night when I walked into a small room and found a pantry that went on and on. That's right. A pantry. (What did you think I was talking about?)

You believe you are content with your own house until an out-of-state friend emails and asks if you'll take a look at a house they hope to buy. That's what happened to me the other night. The housing market here is hopping, so when my friend, RealEstateAgentFriend, alerted my friend, MarathonMom, that a house was available, MarathonMom (who lives across the country) asked me to check it out for her. RealEstateAgentFriend came and picked me up in her husband's pick-up truck and off we went.

Here is what $370,000 will buy you--a house built in 2002 with a giant living room, even bigger upstairs family room, formal dining room, eat-in kitchen with cozy gas-fireplace room/family room attached, two ovens, a built-in microwave, a enormous laundry room with attached pantry (that was when I fell in love--it's a long, narrow room with shelving all along one side), three bedrooms, three bathrooms, HUGE CLOSETS EVERYWHERE, a two-car garage, oh, and did I mention the PANTRY? Everything was shiny and clean and new and in contrast, I am living in a Goodwill store with poor hygiene and body odor.

MarathonMom (named for the marathons she insists on running even though she is now the mother of three and has a Ph.D., oh, and did I mention that she also has long, straight, naturally blond hair and is the sweetest person on the planet? I hate her, no, I love her! I can't help it!)--oh, where was I? MarathonMom and her husband (the doctor) won a bidding war and now own the house. They aren't moving in until July, so they've asked me to go by once a week and open the windows and check on it. She said I could have a party or roll around on the carpet or whatever I want.

She has no idea. I'm in lust love and there's no way I'm leaving the new object of my affections, even if I have to move into the pantry. Just call me Alice and give me an apron. I'm staying.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Oops! Now I Will Play Along

I found a new blog to read, Present Simple, written by Badaunt who lives in Japan (by way of her native New Zealand), where she teaches English. Anyway, because I commented on her "interview post," she is now interviewing me and after I answer her questions, I'm suppose to play along and then interview you, too, at least the first five of you who ask.

And now, without further ado:

1. Who was your favourite teacher at high school, and why?
Mr. Ibea taught advance math courses. He was elegant and handsome and spoke with the trace of a mysterious accent. I adored math--numbers are so obedient and consistent--and he had a wry presentation. He made cryptic comments on my papers when I'd offer a geometric proof with a leap in logic right in the middle. Anyway, I loved math and I loved Mr. Ibea.

2. What do you remember as your finest moment, and why?
My finest moment? This question tripped me up. "Finest moment"--what does that mean? The day I married my husband? Or the day we adopted our twins? I could be cliche' and say that my finest moments were the births of my younger children. (They were born at home--the first after a 43 hour labor--and the second after a 6 hour labor. To participate in the ordinary miracle of pregnancy and childbirth was a privilege to me after years of infertility.)

But, I'm going to have to go with one of my finer college moments. I performed a song about dead butterflies at the school talent show. (Yes, I even wrote it myself.) I wore an orange polyester dress and white vinyl boots I purchased at the local thrift store. I carried a tacky white handbag and in the handbag, I hid a mannequin's hand . . . at the appropriate moment of my dingbat/airhead act, I pulled out the hand, making a lame joke about the hand-bag. If I weren't in such a hurry, I'd scan the picture from my yearbook and show you.

All joking aside, I don't have a defining "shining moment" in my life. Does that mean I am dull? All my moments are pretty ordinary, I think.

3. If you could move anywhere, money no object, where would you go?
I'd love to live on the Oregon coast. I fell in love with the ocean when I went on a long-distance bike ride with my stepmother, brother and sister when I was 14. We rode from Seattle to San Francisco. I don't even want a big fancy place, just a cozy cottage with a view and the sea breeze.

4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I'd change my hair. It's curly and I'd like it to be straight, please. And naturally sunny blond.

5. How would your children describe you?
They'd probably say I'm a mean ogre who yells too much. They'd say I hate messes, that I have too many rules, and that I never let them have any fun or take them anywhere. My boys probably couldn't describe my physical appearance if a police detective asked them for a description, but my daughter (bless her heart) would say I'm pretty. (I recommend having a two year old girl around who offers compliments without prompting.)

Hopefully, when my kids grow up, they'll think of me as a fun mom, a good mom, a mom who took them to the video store more often than they deserved and didn't care if they ate in the living room.

Thanks, Badaunt, for the questions.

Now, if you, dear readers, wish for interview questions, comment below and be sure to make you email address available.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

He's Very Very Sorry

Overnight, I turned into the Wicked Witch of the West Coast. Babygirl's typical whines grated on my sensitive nerves. YoungestBoy's desire to built a fort from his comforter before school provoked an eye roll from me. The twins' typical non-stop, nondescript noise caused me to clench my jaw. And I skipped my walk because I'd been awakened at 2:30 a.m. by a sad Babygirl standing in her crib, where she has ready access to the light switch which explains why the light shone in my squinted eyes at that grim hour. I only rocked her for five minutes, but when I returned to my bed, I couldn't sleep and so decided at 3:30 a.m. that I would not, could not get up to walk at 5:20 a.m.

Next time, I will override that decision. No decision made at 3:30 a.m. is a wise decision.

So, I was crabby today. The day progressed fairly well, though, until this afternoon when TwinBoyA sassed me one too many times. He'd been yelling at his brothers and friends to fix the tent-city in the dining room and I finally rebuked him. He told me to "BE QUIET!" I did not take kindly to this back-sass (as my boys used to call it) and gave a finger-waving, glaring lecture which included the threat of an early bedtime and no trip to Hollywood Video (source of rented GameCube games) for a "very, very long time!"

He kept interrupting me. Somehow, he's never noticed that when he interrupts, I just rewind the lecture and start back at the beginning. This enrages him and enrages me and soon we are locked in an epic struggle for power. Just like when he was two, only now he has a bigger vocabulary. When I left the room, he threw the pillows from the couch and attempted to dig himself deep into the furniture. His cries were loud and dramatic.

I left the room to tend to CuteBaby and a while later, when I rounded a corner, we nearly collided. He said to me, "Mom, I hope you end up in hell."

I said, "You hope I end up in hell? Really?" I could not have been more surprised. Where does he get these things? Not from anyone in this household, nor from any media as we are selective. I think he actually thought of the worst possible thing he could say to me and then said it, thinking it was an original thought. His ingenuity impressed one tiny part of me and floored the rest of me. He said, "Yes, and I HATE YOU!" So there.

I said, "Oh. So, you hope I END UP IN HELL and you hate me? Well, very nice." I did the Bill Clinton pursed-lips thing and said, "Okay, then. You hope I end . . . up . . . in . . . hell . . . and you hate me. Thanks. Great."

Not long after that, he approached me and said, "Mom, I'm sorry," and I said, "Well, great, but I don't think I will ever forget this day when you told me to go to hell." And he crawled under the tent and bawled.

As you can imagine, I was perturbed and not quite ready to let this go. A better mom might have embraced him and forgiven him immediately and sometimes I do wonder why God didn't give this child to A Better Mom, wherever she is, but I sighed and walked away again.

Then later, much later, he hand-delivered this note:

 Posted by Hello

We had a rational talk about the disrespect of his words. I accepted his apology and formally forgave him.

I wonder what I did to deserve a mouthy, snotty, sassy child like TwinBoyA. He's been this way since before he could talk or walk. He's a fit-thrower, an impulsive child who has a short fuse and an Elvis sneer. I might blame myself for his behavior and attitude, yet I have three other children who are vastly different. I might blame genetics, since he has no genetic link to me or his dad, but what point is there in blame? TwinBoyA is who he is and it's my job to mold his resisting, harder-then-stiff-clay self into a decent human being. On bad days, I figure he'll be an inmate somewhere, someday. On good days, I know that he'll be just fine, even though raising him might just kill me.

There is really nothing like having kids to bring you face to face with your own flawed self. I'm not really enjoying that close-up view today.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Mole-Whacking: A Follow-Up

Shocking, but true. My 5:30 a.m. walk this morning felt easier. I came home to a tidy house because I put stuff away before I went to bed last night. All I had to do after my shower was vacuum. DaycareKid arrived at 7:45 a.m., following by VisitingToddler and VisitingBaby at 8:15 a.m. By 8:30 a.m., CuteBaby arrived. I took him upstairs and put him down for his first nap. YoungestBoy left and I instructed the boys to take their literature assessments.

The babies took turns napping and while each one was awake, Babygirl held and rocked them and fed them bottles. At one point, my husband sat in the back yard with the toddlers while CuteBaby slept in his carseat and VisitingBaby napped upstairs. I mentioned to Barbara Curtis in an email that my day was going so well, despite my fears the night before.

Taking advantage of a lull in my day, I hurried to the laundry room to keep the laundry cycle moving. A gigantic foamy lake greeted me. My washing machine hose came loose again, emptying water onto the floor.

I opened the patio door and informed my long-suffering husband, "My washing machine leaked everywhere again." He said, "Well, the Wet-Vac is in the back of the van."

Bad news, good news. Last week, when I flooded the bathroom, we borrowed the Wet-Vac from friends. Lucky for me, we still had it.

I vacuumed up 24 gallons of water.

Moral of the story: Brag about your day and the laundry will take revenge.

At about 5:15 p.m., I paused and counted how many children had entered my home. Including the neighbor boys, eleven children. Eleven. (Here is where you are momentarily impressed and you think, how does she do it? and then I remind you one mole at a time and besides that, Barbara Curtis is the mother of twelve children, whereas I only mother four children and borrow the rest.)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mole Whacking

This is the time of the night (10:30 p.m.) and the time of the week (Sunday night) that I think, I can't do it. I am tired, my head aches, my carpets need to be vacuumed and I just can't wake up in six hours to walk. I can't coerce my boys into completing their math in the morning. I can't deal with my two year old being two years old. I can't handle DaycareKid and CuteBaby and I certainly can't manage watching the two extra kids I agreed to watch in the morning for four hours (ages 2 and 4 months). I can't come up with dinner for tomorrow night. I can't finish the laundry. I can't face another day. I'm weary.

But I will, because that's what I do.

I wake up, I move through my day step by step, moment by moment, chore by chore. I do what has to be done. I cook again. I wash dishes again. I change diapers again. I guide my boys through lessons again. I do it all again and again and again. I'm always puzzled when people say, "I don't know how you do it!" because there's only one way--tackle the next thing that pops up--a lot like "Whack-a-Mole." Next time someone asks how I manage, I'm going to say, "Oh, I just whack the next mole."

Last summer, I rode rides at the local fair with my youngest son. We chained ourselves into that giant circle of swings which rises up and flings its passengers high above the ground. At first, it was fun to feel the breeze and see the kaleidoscope of sights and feel the motion. And then, I clamped my jaw tight and fought the dizziness. We went around and around, past the point of joy and right into the land of too much. I held on until the swings slowed and deposited us back onto the ground, thankful to be stumbling on solid earth.

Some days, that's where I am. I'm on the ride, no longer exulting in the thrill of circling in the air, just holding on and waiting to be dumped back on unmoving ground. One sudden day, the motion will stop and everyone will disembark, leaving me swaying and disoriented and wishing I could pay six tickets to get back on the ride. I'll wish I'd taken pictures and laughed more and lived in the moment and avoided the dizziness.

I know. I know. I know. But tonight, the week seems daunting and unending and I'm tired already just thinking about it. Tomorrow, I will whack each mole as it pops up. That's what I do. Please, from now on, I'd like to be called Princess Mole Whacker. And I want a sash.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Sign me up!

What crime must I commit to be sentenced to house arrest? At Martha's house, I mean.

If they really want to punish her, they should have sentenced her to house arrest at my house.

Friday, March 04, 2005

How's the Weather?

Blossoms cover the trees. Daffodils bloom. Hyacinths scent the air. The neighbor's forsythia is bright yellow. The lilac buds are ready to open and the robins hop around looking for worms. Clumps of crocuses dot nearly every yard in my neighborhood.

I know it's early, but spring has sprung here in the Pacific Northwest.

I hear it's winter some places. How's the weather where you live?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Take THAT!

This morning, when Babygirl finished eating her second syrupy waffle, I said, "Let me wash your sticky hands, okay?" She is an unusually compliant two-year old. But not today.

Today, Babygirl said, "No!"

She's two. She says "no" a lot, and usually I can cajole her into changing her mind. I said, "Please? You don't want to have sticky hands. Let mama wash them."

She said, "NO!"

So, I quickly wiped her face and hands anyway.

She shrieked and with a look of defiant resolve, swished her hands into the remaining syrup on her plate. They were stickier, much stickier than before.

I think she was sorry she had such goopy hands, but she tipped her chin up in victory. I laughingly said, "Okay, well, have sticky hands then." I put her on the floor and off she ran while I trailed behind saying, "Don't touch anything!"

Then I tricked her by filling a bowl with warm water and soap bubbles. "Do you want to put your hands in my soapy water?"

She did, of course. She's two and she can't resist soapy water.

So, I win. Take that!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I'm Glad You Asked

"Mel, how's it going, watching all those kids while you're schooling two pre-teens at home?"

I'm glad you asked.

First, let me say that Babygirl is me, only smaller. She is not a morning person. On Monday morning, she kept shrieking at DaycareKid, "STOP LOOKIN' AT ME!" She is a crab-apple and she remains irritable until after her noon-time nap. Seeing my own worst-self reflected in her is unpleasant, at best.

And then, Monday morning found me sitting on the floor with a howling baby. I realized I needed baby-wipes, so I interrupted my pre-teen boys' who were busily avoiding composition by making loud mouth noises. "Hey! Can you bring me the wipes? They're in that diaper bag right there."

Time passed. Slowly. CuteBaby still howled.

"Please! Hurry!"

"Mom, I can't find them."

Arg! I said, "Hey, can you hand me those wipes on the couch?" to DaycareKid. He ambled over to the couch, blinded to the bright-green wipe box in plain sight. I was trying to avoid standing up and getting the wipes myself, which was obviously a mistake. Slothfulness leads to trouble.

CuteBaby arched his back and screamed louder.

And then he peed. On my leg. Actually, on my ankle. I screamed and he stopped peeing and joined me in a scream-fest.

You haven't lived until you've been peed on first thing on a Monday morning while being bombarded by the cacophony of a bunch of grouchy kids. Trust me on that.

So, to answer your question ("How's it going?"), it's going swell! Swimmingly, even. Just peachy-keen. Actually, Babygirl adores CuteBaby and today all three little ones took long naps and my husband took the twins to get haircuts and it was quiet in my house.

And that, my friends, is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Oh, and best of all, today Babygirl saw her first-ever rainbow outside. It's the small things that make me smile.
Happy Half-Birthday, Babygirl! (Photo taken two years ago . . . now she's two and a half!) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

About that Birthday Party

Saturday Birthday Party
Friday night, at about 10:00 p.m., my husband commented that if he'd been in charge, he would have just paid money and had the birthday party somewhere else. I gave him the evil eye and said, "Hey, this is not the time for criticism. This is the time for support and encouragement."

I love being 40 years old and aware enough to ask for what I need. No fights. No stomping. Just clear direction.

Saturday morning, my husband put the boys to work cleaning and picking up. Even though the first party-guest arrived at 9:50 a.m. ("Oh, are we early?") for the 10:30 a.m. party, I was ready.

Only ten of the nineteen guests came to the party, which was excellent because I only had enough chairs for twelve. Three moms stayed to help.

The only activity I planned was a scavenger hunt in the back yard. Each child was given a paper bag with a list of eight items to locate: gum, straw, block, small ball, bubbles, star, play-doh, glitter glue. Even though it was a bit chilly, the kids had a great time running around finding things. As usual, the activity took less time than anticipated, so I stretched it out by asking them to locate the extra hidden items.

Then they trampled inside for the opening of the gifts. Meanwhile, I had corn dogs and "bagel bites" heating in the kitchen. I spontaneously created a system for the gifts--I had each child give YoungestBoy his gift, in order according to their birthdays. This system brought a small semblance of order to the chaos of ripping open gifts. While he was opening gifts, some of the boys were draping their bodies over the coffee table and sliding down. The noise level rose higher and higher and the corn dogs were not heating fast enough.

But here is the beauty of the 90-minute party. Just about the time you regret throwing the party, you only have thirty minutes left to endure. We served lunch, then cake and had only about fifteen minutes left before parents began to arrive. The boys ran and yelled and grabbed each other until they were picked up one by one.

YoungestBoy had a great time. By noon, it was all over and by 2:00 p.m., I was heading away from home as fast as I could go.

The Academy Awards

I'd accepted a typing job for the weekend, due Monday morning. I probably shouldn't have agreed to do it, but I did. Saturday morning, no typing. Saturday afternoon, no typing. Saturday night, I began to type but only finished fourteen pages. Fatigue coupled with two sore, cracked, bleeding fingertips stopped me.

Sunday morning, no typing. Sunday afternoon, an hour of typing. But Sunday night (5:30 p.m.!) the Oscars started. What to do? I videotaped the awards and typed, typed, typed. At 10:00 p.m. I stopped typing and sat down to watch the award show. This year I saw four of the five movies nominated for Best Picture (I never did see "The Aviator"), so I was particularly interested in the results.

I watched the entire telecast in about 90 minutes. I fast-forwarded through almost all the acceptance speeches (what was up with receiving an award in the aisle?) and songs. I skipped the lesser awards (short documentaries, etc.) and just watched the main awards. I have to recommend the 90-minute Oscar viewing, too.

It was not until the next day that I saw the repeat showing of E! Entertainment's Red Carpet show with Star Jones. I have always kind of liked Star Jones--I'm pretty sure I'm the only woman in America who does--but why do woman who've lost some weight fail to realize that certain fashions are still not appropriate? As my friend, Lisa, said, "If back fat hangs over the back of the dress, put it back!" And I have to add, do not go sleeveless if your arms are jiggly.

And please, someone tell me, what has happened to Renee Zellwegger's face? She does not even resemble the woman who played opposite Tom Cruise in "Jerry McGuire." I can't figure it out. Her new face scares me.

I need to get to bed, but I will be compelled to read another chapter of Ice Bound.

By the way, my family room smells musty, but the ceiling is drying. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who forgets to turn off a faucet, though.

Walking Before Dawn: A Public Service Announcement (Okay, I'm Bragging)

This is my second week of getting up at 5:15 a.m. to walk. My shins don't hurt anymore. Besides that, I've realized there are hidden benefits to walking before the sun even rises.

1) It's dark. No one can see exactly how scary I look. If you are embarrassed to be seen walking around town, I recommend walking in the dark.
2) By 7:00 a.m., you're finished. No bargaining with yourself all day, saying to yourself, Tonight, I will exercise. When the day ends, you can collapse without guilt.
3) You feel virtuous and can casually mention your pre-dawn walks and people will be impressed.

Those are just the benefits of walking at 5:30 a.m.--these are in addition to the well-known health benefits of walking. And if I can do it, so can you. I am not a morning person, but having a walking buddy gives me a reason to get out of bed. She is waiting for me. I have to get up and get moving. Even in the rain. Even when it's frosty out.

I just know for sure that I don't want to grow up and be my mother, who at age 62 has a handicapped parking tag on her car because she can't get around very well anymore. After all, my grandmother is turning 99 next week and I could very well have another fifty years to live.

So, in eight hours, I'll be heading for the hills--quite literally.
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