Monday, October 31, 2005

Why I Love Halloween

Once upon a time there was a daddy. This daddy was the strong, silent type, apt to yell at inanimate objects like lawnmowers and car engines. His little girl was the quiet, timid type, apt to shrink into corners. She'd examine him shyly out of the corners of her eyes at the dinner table, and if she spoke, it'd be in a whisper.

But one time a year--guaranteed--this daddy would throw off his burdens and dig out his stage-makeup kit and play. He'd carve pumpkins into smiling jack-o-lanterns. He'd laugh. This was a holiday unlike any other, a holiday devoted to being childlike, a holiday comprised of candy and costumes.

And so, I've always loved Halloween. I regard it now as I did as a child. In my neighborhood full of mostly retired folks, a ring of the bell is met with a handful of candy and a smile.

Tonight was no different. My 3-year old girl (dressed as a green cateripllar) said, "Trick or treat time!" at each house, then said, "Thank you," in her piping baby voice. My 7-year old only had to be reminded at every other house to say thank you. "But, Mom," he'd say, "I'm so excited, I forget!" He was dressed in a homemade cape with the word "FLAME" emblazoned on the back. "Flame" is a superhero of his own creation.

After trick-or-treating, we dropped off the little one at home and I took the boys to the YMCA for their festivities, an old fashioned carnival. They had as much fun as you can have at a carnival in an hour.

And so every year at this time, I relish the joy of a holiday that brought out my somber daddy's fun side. Besides that, I get to create cute costumes for my cute kids so I can make cute scrapbook pages. And then, when they're tucked into bed for the night, I can go trolling for Snickers bars and other nut-filled chocolates they hate. That is my duty as a caring mother.

Memo to My Daughter

This is to inform you that Daylight-Saving Time has come to an end for the year 2005. Please adjust your internal clock accordingly.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Just Another Soccer Mom Saturday Morning

My husband was away this morning, so it was up to me to take my 7-year old to his 9:00 a.m. soccer game. Not only that, but it happened to be our day to bring snacks. My husband explained to me that it was imperative that I cut up apples and oranges for halftime and then bring Oreos and Capri Suns for the end of the game.

Before we left the house then (at 8:38, only slightly behind schedule), I washed and sliced apples, peeled oranges and broke them into sections. I also fed the little kids breakfast (the 12-year olds are on their own) and put a chicken into the crockpot.

We arrived at the damp field and my son didn't see his team. We limped along, me holding the snacks and an umbrella, my boys carrying an adult chair and a kid-sized chair and my daughter carrying her Winnie-the-Pooh unbrella. At long last, he exclaimed, "Oh, there's my team!"

I found myself in agony watching this game between two teams of seven-year old boys. My son is the goalie and each time the other kids came barreling toward him, I wanted to close my eyes. A few weeks ago, he was kicked in the eye (thank God for cheekbones). Last week, he was kicked in an even more tender area. This week, no kicks, but alas, several goals were scored.

Then he slid hard on his backside and thigh, hard enough to make him cry. He came out of the game and his team carried on without him, which meant the other goalie let several more balls get past and the offense couldn't seem to coordinate their efforts and score a goal. When he went back in the game, the ball smacked into him and he fell onto his knees more than once. All of this hurts even more when your tender skin is cold.

My daughter mostly sat and ate apple slices and then Oreos while the 12-year old boys took turns sitting in my chair. After a soggy hour, the game ended. My boy was disappointed that his team lost, but a good sport nonetheless.

We went to Goodwill, then, to find costumes for Halloween. My 12-year old twins are going to an event at the YMCA. One is going to be a cartoon character from some Japanese anime' show and the other is going to be an Army guy. The army camoflauge was easy to find and we managed to pick up a few other things as well.

Then onto the bank and then to McDonald's for lunch. We went through the drive-through and ate our lunch on the way home.

When we arrived home, I parked the car in the driveway and let out a sudden, shocking, rare, window-rattling, open-mouthed belch which spanned a seeming eternity. We sat in stunned silence for a moment. I didn't even say "excuse me." From the passenger seat, my blue-eyed 12-year old said dramatically, "It's a sign of the apocalypse!"

And that comment, my friends, is the reason I had kids.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Top Ten Ways to Drive Me Crazy

10) Crunch Pringles potato chips loudly where I can hear you.

9) Ask me pointless questions while I'm driving a car full of children.

8) Telephone me at the precise moment I sit down to feed a starving baby her bottle.

7) Heap your wet towel on the floor.

6) Take off your shoes and leave them in a walkway. Any walkway will do, but preferably in the middle of the kitchen.

5) Turn up the television extra-loud. Leave it on when you leave the room.

4) Drink all the milk but a tablespoon and put the jug back in the refrigerator.

3) Use the last of the ice and do not fill the tray to make replacement ice.

2) Argue over nothing.

1) Pee on the toilet seat right before I sit down on it.

[Edited to say . . . this list is inspired by my children, specifically my boys, not my husband. He is only responsible for telephoning me at the exact wrong moment.]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pilfered Cookies Lead to Impressive Vocabulary Word

Nothing says "I am a good housewife," like a crock pot simmering on the counter. On these days where I manage to think ahead (why I can't remember that I have to cook dinner
is one of the great mysteries of the human brain) I am so pleased with myself that I tend to ignore the rest of the household chores. I simply rest in my smugness, knowing that we will, indeed, be eating a hearty dinner together. And that makes me look good.

I stayed in bed until the last possible minute this morning (7:50 a.m.), which seemed to alarm my husband, but he didn't know what I knew. (One of my babies isn't here today and the toddler arrived late.) I've sort of been slouching through this day ever since, with the exception of doing the dishes, washing, drying and folding three loads of laundry, cleaning out the fridge, and getting dinner into the crock pot (barbecued pork, if you really must know).

Tonight, our 7-year old has soccer practice and I managed to schedule my parent-teacher conference with his teacher before he and my husband get back. Which means I'll have to take my 3-year old with me. Poor planning on my part.

Speaking of my daughter, today she and her buddy were sitting at the base of the stairs. She said to him, "This is frustrating!" As I approached, I could see they were sharing a pack of Oreo cookies which they pilfered from his lunchbox. She couldn't get the remaining cookies out of the package. I was impressed that she used the word "frustrating" correctly in a sentence.

Of course, kids learn by example, so apparently I use the word "frustrating" often enough to teach my baby girl to say it, too. So now you know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Well. Deep Subject for Shallow Minds.

When I was younger (and cuter), I used to say, "Well," all the time. It was a nervous habit, a verbal twitch of sorts. This led my friends to eventually say, "Well, hell, Mel," which was uproariously funny (okay, mildly amusing) to us. I'd unthinkingly fill in blanks in conversation with "well," and the rhyming would begin. (My brother always said--without fail--"that's a deep subject for shallow minds.")

I also found myself saying too often, "I'm so tired," especially in my sleep-deprived college days. I didn't really notice it until people began to mock me. To this day, I can't say, "I'm so tired," without being hyper-aware of that phrase.


I'm so tired.

But I wanted to thank everyone who added themselves to my Frapper map. As of tonight today, there are one hundred and seven fourteen of you. I only wish I could email you each personally to thank you for your comments and for de-lurking long enough to give a shout-out. (And I would have, except that Frapper didn't include a space for email addresses.) As a former pen-pal, I have to say that having so many distant friends warms my heart.

Sometimes I have nothing more to say than "well," and "I'm so tired," but I think of you all staring at your computer screen and I feel this tremendous sense of responsibility to say something. Anything. Preferably something funny and self-disclosing, but not too intimate because what if I ran into you in the grocery store and things were completely awkward because of some far-out (but not groovy) personal confession I'd made?

Well. I'm so tired. So tonight, how about you share something instead? Do you realize the most comments I ever received were in response to my question about ironing blue jeans? How about breaking that record tonight?

Confess your sins. Showcase your talents. Leave a link and we'll all traipse over and check out your blog and we promise not to leave fingerprints or break glasses.

Speak. One hundred and seven fourteen people await your comments.

Two Boring Hours

Well, that's two hours of my life I'm never getting back. I wish I had read this review of North Country before I saw it.

The two hours felt like three. That's never a good sign.

The movie was B-o-r-i-n-g--that's Boring with a capital B.

The only redeeming factor about going to the movie last night was that I wasn't at home, hearing the normal, natural, regular sounds of children. Some days, I just can't stand that for one more minute.

I like to see movies that I suspect will be nominated for Academy Awards. I think I made a mistake this time, however. Drat!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jump Rope? Or Not?

The object? A blue jump rope.

The boys cut off the handles and tied it into lasso. They swing it around in the backyard and throw it high into the trees. I have no idea what purpose this serves. Who can fathom the reasoning in a boy's mind?

My daughter found this mangled jump rope. She knew exactly what to do with it. She put the loop around her neck and with one dainty hand, picked up the other end and voila! It was a stethescope.

I murmured to my husband, "Look at her. She's pretending to be a doctor!"

My husband, aka Mr. Safety, looked horrified and said with alarm, "I don't like that at all! It's very dangerous!"

To think a simple jump rope can be so many things to so many people. Lasso, stethescope, noose. Not once has anyone actually jumped rope with it.

(For those of you wondering: Our weekend with a houseguest went very well. I never did get the floor mopped, much to my utter shame, but the world did not come to an end because of my dismal housekeeping skills.)

Where, Oh Where, Are You?

I came across this map which allows you to add your locations so I can see where you are. Won't you please play along? There's a button over in the sidebar, too. (And when I say "you," I mean all of you who read this blog on a semi-regular basis.) Please? Pretty please?

Oh. And don't forget to put something in the "shout-out" box. If you don't (I didn't originally), you entry won't show up at all.

[I am reposting this today so everyone can play along. That's right. That means you. Thanks to everyone who has already added themselves to the map. Did you notice this is an International Blog, with readers in Australia and England?]

Like a Dry Sponge

I realized that my children soak up the academic information I provide with all the enthusiasm and effectiveness that a dry sponge soaks up dry sand.

In other news, I vacuumed out in the inside of my computer. It hasn't crashed since.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wal-Mart: Owned by Satan or Not?

My brilliant and handsome husband had the good sense to release me from the shackles of my bondage. He and his friend took the children to the pumpkin patch today (despite protests from one of the 12-year olds: "I hate the pumpkin patch! It's stupid! I won't go!") while I went out. And about. Alone. For hours.

I found myself wandering in a secret passageway I never knew existed at the local public library. Who knew there were stairs in that building? Today was a library book sale and I came away with a bag full of books that cost me only $12.50. I can not die until I am 127 years old because I have so many books stacked up waiting to be read. (Alas, I am going to temporarily give up Gilead, which won a Pultizer Prize. I wanted to love this book, but I'm just bogged down and everytime I read it, I literally fall asleep. I'm going to start a new book.)

Then, I went to Wal-Mart, where I wasted a great deal of time cruising up and down the aisles, doing a little Christmas shopping while I waited for my film to be developed. We don't have our very own Wal-Mart here, so I had to drive a bit to get to one. I know some people think Wal-Marts are actually run by Satan, but I love Wal-Mart.

My love for Wal-Mart goes back to the days when I lived in northern Michigan. Hold up your left hand, fingers closed--we lived at the left base of your pointer-finger fingernail. One year, the snow began in October and we didn't see grass again until March. Since we didn't own snowmobiles and didn't ice-fish, our entertainment involved shopping at the local Wal-Mart--which was a good thirty-minutes from our house. (Everything was thirty minutes from our house, except for the moose and wild turkeys and the kids who sniffed glue back in the woods on the edge of our ten acres.) I loved Wal-Mart (and I never disrespected it by calling it "Wallyworld," either) because it made northern Michigan almost bearable. I even spent one wedding anniversary shopping at Wal-Mart.

Those were four long years. And that was before I had the internet, so just sit still for a minute and feel sympathetic.

Thank you. And good-night.

Friday, October 21, 2005

An Open Letter

Dear One,

When you came into my life, suddenly, everything expanded. My constricted, tiny, slow-motion world turned into a blur, a whizzing magic show, full of wonder and lights. What joy I felt in those early days! You rescued me from the doldrums, from plodding along in weary monotony.

As the days passed--really, as the months screamed by in a flash, I spent more and more time with you. We grew so comfortable together, didn't we? You and me; we made such a great pair. I depended on you. I counted on you. I even trusted my financial records to you. I thought you felt the same about me.

I'd spill my guts to you, often late into the night. I looked forward to our time together, learning new things, sharing information, dreaming of places we might visit. And you let me down. You utterly betrayed me.

I just can't believe how suddenly you dumped me. In the past, at least I had some warning. But you? You just up and quit! How dare you! I was in the middle of a riveting spiel about something or another (I can't remember exactly what, but I'm sure it was dazzling) and your deafening silence cut me off in mid-sentence. I am still stunned at your callousness.

I never expected it. Oh, I know, I should have. I've heard others moan about that kind of unreliability, but I never thought you had it in you. I believed you were different. My vulnerable faith has been crushed.

I thought I was doing everything right. I was really careful. I didn't wander afar, nor did I let my eyes stray. I didn't speak to just anyone, nor did I share things I ought not. You and I--weren't we guarded enough? Didn't we put up a strong enough fence around us? How did this gulf open between us?

Now, I just don't feel safe. I don't want to begin a tale for fear you will cut me off. I am wary of disclosing any information, personal or not. I'm even scared to go places I used to go. Who is watching? Who caused this devastation? Was it me? Was it you? Was it someone plotting against us? This turn of events baffles me.

I was true to you, too. Even after the first time. But now, you should know that I've begun to think of another . . . another computer, that is. I'm thinking of replacing you with a laptop.

So there. Take that. I'm taking my lightening-fast fingers and moving on.

(Okay. One more chance. But that's it. I mean it.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Doling Out Mustard Wisely

As some of you know, I did not fall to the floor in sticky mirth while watching the bonafide hit movie The 40-Year Old Virgin. Aside from the fact that I don't find the idea of a 40-year old virgin particularly hilarious or mock-worthy, I was offended by the overuse of the f-word. I read that that word was used 68 times during the course of the movie. I think that's excessive.

I realize that I am in a teeny-tiny minority on this matter.

A particular blogging friend (who shall remain nameless, at least until she consents to being quoted) sent an email with this remark: "I was telling [my 16-year old son] about Mel not liking the word 'f*ck' and he said, 'Oh, she's one of thoooose' (hehehehe) then he went on to say, '"F*ck" is an enhancer, it's like adding mustard to a hot dog.' Well, there ya go."

And that sort of sums up my point. Would you put mustard on everything? Say you're at a fancy dinner party eating lobster and asparagus quiche . . . do you douse it with mustard? Say you're eating cookies with your three-year-old. Do you frost them with mustard?

Mustard on spaghetti?
Mustard on eggs?
Mustard on pudding?
Mustard in orange juice?
Mustard on shrimp-fried rice?

No. You do not.

I like mustard as much as the next girl. Occasionally, that is. I also use a thesaurus full of other condiments. (When my twins were toddlers, once they had ketchup for lunch. Just ketchup. I thought you'd like to know.) Why limit yourself to mustard when there is a whole wide world of sauces, condiments and flavorings?

Please, people, use your condiments wisely. Otherwise, the whole wide world will reek like a hot dog stand and we don't need that now, do we?

A Quick Post While I Can

I spent untold hours yesterday installing, removing, tweaking, downloading, and almost (but not quite) cursing. (Okay. Maybe one little "dammit!")

The computer is running so far this morning, but it did give me the old "your computer has recovered from a serious issue," as if that's news to me.

I'm sorry my map doesn't recognize Tokyo as a "valid" city. I'll email the guys who created it--it's still in the Beta stage, so maybe they haven't gotten to that hemisphere yet. Or something.

For those who are curious, I already run AVG anti-virus software, as well as X-Cleaner, Zone Alarm, SpyBot and SpySweeper. And I never click on suspicious things. But despite my precautions, something's happened. When I used the "Restore CD," my Windows XP reverted to the older version. I am unable to install the newest updates (including the Service Pack 2)--the computer shuts down midway during the installation.

We do have another computer. The boys have a computer, which is identical to mine, only with sticky keys and an unfortunate location (their room). It shows no signs of illness.

My company arrives late tomorrow night, so today I am thinking about deep cleaning the bathrooms. And mopping the boys' room. I don't want to do too much too far in advance or daily living with children will undo it.

On a positive note, this is the first time I've ever had computer trouble. On a negative note, if my dad were here, he could fix this in a jiffy, but alas, he took his computer knowledge to his early grave.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Scream of Blue Death

Stupid computer. As of 3:17 p.m., it is randomly shutting down. I wiped the hard drive clean (again), reinstalled everything (again) . . . and still, the computer shuts down.

A virus? Perhaps.

If so, I hope the originator ends up in hell Chuck E. Cheese's.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Avoidance Tactics

I know. I wasn't even gone long enough for you to miss me. I have apparently cured my computer woes. Next up? A cure for cancer.

Actually, I'm going to watch television in a minute or two. Surely I'll be able to find a reality show somewhere. I am at the mercy of the television programmers since I don't have TiVo yet, like the cool kids do.

Tonight, I caught a glimpse of someone I wished to avoid in the grocery store. Someone I know, but not well. So, I traveled a tangled path through the store, swerving this way and that, peeking around corners before committing my cart to an aisle. I strolled ever so slowly to the checkstand, noting that the woman I wanted to avoid was already in the next line, about to pay.

I tilted away from the woman as I unloaded my cart and pretended to study the tabloids. I would have whistled an aimless tune, if only I knew how. I practiced the "If I don't look at you, I am invisible," method.

Then, she spotted me as she walked past the checkstands. "MEL!" She yelled my name and so I feigned great joy at seeing her. She gave me a message for my mother, asked me how I am ("busy," I said, my standard answer which tells everything, and yet nothing at all).

That's why it took me so long to get home from the store tonight.

Oh, and to answer a question or two. Ellipsis asked if the coffee really is better here in the Pacific Northwest, home to Starbucks. To my chagrin, I hate coffee. I thought I would drink it when I grew up, but alas, no. I adore the smell of coffee and despise the taste. I avoid steaming drinks entirely, anyway, as they make my nose run.

But I do like my chocolate with nuts. Unfortunately, I was so busy avoiding that woman at the store that I forgot to buy any.

Also, if I could choose a Superpower, I think I'd have to go with the Power of Invisibility. Wouldn't that be handy?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Looking Forward (With Gritted Teeth)

My computer continues to malfunction. All paths lead to wiping the hard drive clean and using the magic "Restore CD," to start fresh.

I am looking forward to this almost as much as I am looking forward to starting another school week with my underachieving twin boys who exert more energy avoiding schoolwork than they do working.

And I'm looking forward to that almost as much as I'm looking forward to preparing my house for overnight company arriving on Thursday and staying for the weekend.

If you never hear from me again, you'll know I was done in--defeated, decimated, destroyed--by either my computer and its Blue Screen of Death, schooling-at-home uncooperative twins who just can't remember to capitalize proper nouns or put numbers in their proper columns during long division or my house, host to millions and billions of microorganisms, thousands of sheets of errant paper, hundreds of toys, dozens of glasses stranded in bedrooms and four kids who make messes quicker than I can clean.

Or maybe I just ran off.

Send chocolate.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I Hate Science Projects

The task seemed straightforward. Create a water filtration device. Just follow the simple directions listed in the student guide. Materials needed? A 2-liter bottle and activated charcoal. (After spending three weeks thinking about buying activated charcoal, another week half-heartedly searching for activated charcoal at Target and the grocery store, and a Saturday morning actually buying activated charcoal at the pet store, we were finally ready.) The curriculum company provided the two kinds of sand and two kinds of gravel we needed. I had to scrounge up a cotton ball.

I will spare you the details, but let's just say that when the directions say to loosely plug the opening of the bottle with a cotton ball, do not take them literally or seriously. And by "them," I mean the sadists at the curriculum company who wrote the directions to the science project.

Because if you follow the scant directions, you will end up with pea gravel in your kitchen garbage disposal and as you fish out each piece of gravel from the bowels of the garbage disposal, you might also go berserk and yell, "I HATE SCIENCE PROJECTS!" in a very unmotherlike manner. (I'm guessing Michelle Duggar has never thrown a tantrum with her hand plunged into the dark recesses of her garbage disposal.)

The children did manage to learn the five steps of water filtration (aeration, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection), despite my antics.

And by the way, when the directions say "one 2-liter bottle," just realize that they actually mean "four 2-liter bottles." One, four, what's the diff, really?

I hate science projects. Just tell me and I will believe you. I don't need to recreate a water filtration system to believe that it works. I am entirely convinced by the written word. No hands-on experiments needed.

Note to self: Avoid becoming a scientist when you grow up.

Cotton ball, schmotton ball. Did I mention how much I hate science projects?

A Favor, Please?

Check out Toni's blog. Her stat counter tells her she's had 2900 visitors so far. She wonders when she'll reach 3000. How about tonight? Run on over and tell her hello, won't you?

Children as Tally Marks

What kills me about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar is not the fact that they have sixteen children all named with J names. Even Michelle's extreme-mullet hair doesn't bother me (too much) and Jim Bob can't really help that his name is Jim Bob, right?

I just can't get over the fact that she can appear on television a day or two after giving birth to her sixteenth baby while looking so incredibly chipper and awake. And her children, even the seven little in-a-row boys all sit quietly and literally smile when the camera pans by them.

She's a better woman than I. Put me in a line-up with her, ask someone to identify the superior mother and they'd pick her. No question.

If a camera panned my home, they'd see the dinner plates sticky with pancake syrup from last night's makeshift dinner. (My husband wasn't home for dinner again.) They'd see "Higgley-Town Heroes" on television and in the same room, a portable DVD player playing "Veggietales." My daughter is tossing Goldfish crackers to my son. School-at-home paperwork litters my desk. My Reluctant Student sits bleary-eyed at the kitchen table a full hour before he normally stumbles from his room. He's desperate to have at least part of the day off. (It's a Teacher In-Service day and my 7-year old has the day off.) Occasionally, he shouts out complaints that I've ruined his life by giving him too much work.

The "Quiverfull" folks add children to their families routinely, tallying up another mark of blessing from God. The problem I have with the whole "children are a blessing from God" party-line is the unspoken corollary, which is "those who do not have children have not been blessed by God." (And then there is the woman who calls herself "The Comic Mom," who doesn't think adoptions should be done. Ever.)

Believe me, in the days when I was trying to get pregnant without success, I did feel like God had turned His omnipotent back on me. My friends were conceiving while using birth control. I was like a fertility talisman--everyone in my sphere of influence became pregnant. Except me. I spent more days than I care to remember carefully wiping mascara from under my eyes, trying to look like I was not crying, when, in fact, I couldn't stop crying. All this angst because I was not a mother.

The question is, did God make me infertile becuase He loves me less? Or does He loves me less because I've only been pregnant twice? Are the arrival of babies the surest sign of God's blessing? Because that's the message I get from women like Michelle Duggar who blithely portray a perfect family crammed with smiling children who never appear on camera with so much as a runny-nose, let alone a foot-stomping fit. She runs a tight ship. No question about that.

But I am not inspired to do the same. In fact, I feel the tiniest bit enraged at this woman who seems to be living a life which she planned exactly, down to the matching pinafores on her daughters and the straight parts in her sons' hair. I mean, doesn't she ever wake up and think, Today I am too tired to be a mother. Does she ever do the math in her head to figure out when the last kid will be gone? Does she have any flaws (beyond that misguided hairstyle)? And how does she get those kids to sit still? Don't things ever happen in her family that cause her to shriek and say things she regrets like, "YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY!"?

Kudos to Michelle and Jim Bob and their ever-expanding family rosy-cheeked children. I just wish they'd stop appearing on television looking as if they never break a sweat. Are their superior reproductive systems a sign of God's ultimate blessing? And if so, what did I do to forfeit a similar blessing? Or is it simply a matter of biology, nothing more?

And is shutting down the reproductive factory the same as telling God, "No thank you. No more blessings for me," as Jim Bob and Michelle would have us believe?

[Update: I did see the entire family appearing on a night-time news program and this time, the baby was screaming and the little boys were fidgeting and that made me feel OH SO MUCH BETTER about my inadequate mothering. Thank you, Michelle.]

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First?

This morning on ABC's "Good Morning, America," I caught a profile of a young doctor named Brian Skotko. He did a research study about the way that doctors inform parents that their baby has Down Syndrome. From the article linked:

"Doctors continue to find it very challenging to deliver a diagnosis like Down syndrome to an otherwise happy expectant mom," says Skotko, who has a 24-year-old sister with Down syndrome and co-authored the award-winning book "Common Threads: Celebrating Life With Down Syndrome" (Band of Angels Press). "But the results of this study are conclusive: Delivering a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome does not have to be a gloomy affair. In fact, mothers in this study have now written the prescription on how best to explain the diagnosis in a loving manner."

Ever since "meeting" Julana of Life in the Slow Lane and Barbara of Mommy Life I have been more aware of the challenges and blessings of families who have children with Down Syndrome.

And as Brian Skotko points out, doctors ought to make parents more aware of the blessings as well as the challenges, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thinking About the End

A couple of Sundays ago, I was wandering the church with my 3-year old daughter who believes she is too good for the nursery. The other toddlers and babies and preschoolers happily play in the nursery while their parents sit in church, but not Miss Hoity-Toity. Oh no. This is payback for the many judgmental thoughts I had as a teenage nursery attendant. I would roll my eyes at mothers who wouldn't let their little ones cry a little or a lot when they were abandoned in the nursery.

Well, now I'm that mother. I've left her a time or two in the nursery, but when I've returned, she was gasping for breath and extra-clingy for the next day or two. She has a genuinely slow-to-warm-up personality and I can't see any reason to leave her in the nursery. So, I do my spiritual worship while I trail behind her and try to convince her to be still, just for a while, just until the congregational singing ends at least.

So, there we were, hanging out in the fellowship hall looking at a large display of pictures and memorabilia that had been set up for a funeral the day before. I studied the pictures and artifacts of this man's life, calculated how old he was when he died, figured out how old he was when he was married. Then, my eyes fell upon a plain brown plastic box labeled with the man's name. The box held his cremated remains.

How odd it is to have your life summed up on a long table full of pictures and items. How strange to be condensed small enough to fit into an unremarkable box. Eighty-two years and now he's gone.

Tonight, my husband has gone to Seattle to visit a dying woman. The last time I saw her, she looked fantastic. A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but she'd responded very well to treatment. But the end is near now. She will slip from being a member of our world to being a memory.

Sometimes, I can hardly stand the thought that our time here is short. The world looms large and I have only seen a tiny speck of it. I've sunk my feet into the sand at Cannon Beach only a dozen times a most. I watched the sun set in Tahiti only ten nights. I breathed the brilliant air at Mt. Rainier a mere half a dozen times. I've never seen the Northern Lights or the Alaskan coastline. I haven't eaten lobster in Maine, nor have I gazed at the Grand Canyon.

So many books wait to be read and that doesn't count the brilliant prose yet to be written. My shelves alone could keep me busy for months, if not years. I haven't read Dickens or Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." I never developed an appreciation for poetry.

I haven't seen a live production of "The Nutcracker" at Christmas. I've never been to Hawaii. I've never even seen Niagara Falls.

My children's journeys have scarcely begun. I want to see the directions they take. I want to be waiting at the dock when their ships come in. I want to cheer at the the finish line. I want to hold grandbabies and prove that mothers-in-law can also be friends.

I think of the really beautifully written books I've read. When I read a great book, I am eager to know what happens and simultaneous dread the book's end. That's a shadow of how I feel when I ponder the story of my life stretching ahead. I look forward to the unfolding tale, but I shirk from the end. The thought of closing the book feels like a boulder on my chest and I can't breathe. So mostly, I don't think about it. Until I see a brown plastic box holding what used to be over six feet of man.

Occasionally, I think I should just go ahead and save my husband the trouble by writing my obituary now. But then I realize how incomplete it would be . . . at least I hope that it would be incomplete. I have more life to live, more stories to tell, more boxes to check. I need more material before my obituary will be worth the money the newspaper will charge to run it.

Plus, I need a better picture.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Home Ec Teacher Would Be Horrified

At 4:00 p.m., I wiggled a stack of recipe cards from the box I've had since I was a teen. I decided to make Taco Soup and . . . muffins. Yes, those "Corny Corn Muffins" I like so well from my favorite cookbook, Jane Brody's Good Food Book.

There on page 600. I turn the oven on to preheat to 425 degrees. First ingredient, wheat flour. I have that! I measure out a cup. I feel smug about making homemade muffins for dinner. Next ingredient, corn meal. I reach the top shelf and pull down my box. I wonder how long it's been up there, so I sniff. Rancid. Blech. I sniff again, just in case. Still rancid.

I throw the box away. Hmmm, what could I use instead? I know! Oatmeal, that steel-cut stuff I got from Trader Joe's. Yes, that will give a similar texture, I think. I measure out a cup. Then I add baking powder, salt and sugar.

Next ingredient, 2 eggs. I get them out, along with the . . . oops. No milk. Well. What can I use as a substitute? I stand and stare, willing milk to appear. I finally decide to use sour cream, so I plop half a cup into the measuring cup and add water until it reaches the one cup mark. I melt three tablespoons of butter.

Last ingredient? Corn. Please, please, please, I think, let there be corn. I don't have the creamed corn the recipe calls for (who buys that stuff?), but I have one can of regular corn. I measure out a cup.

I mix everything together--just until moistened, as directed and scoop the muffin tin full.

My daughter ate a bite and said, "Ewww. I don't like it." She ate Cheerios for dinner. My 7-year old took a bite and said, "Uh. I don't want it." My blue-eyed boy gave me a sympathy vote and said, "They're good with butter." My other son made himself macaroni and cheese.

I thought they were good, but then again, I never met a muffin I didn't like. Next time, maybe I'll check to see if I have the main ingredients before I start cooking. Or not. It's so much more challenging to cook without the stuff you need.

I am reminded of my stepmother's cooking. She once made us peanut-butter-tuna-fish sandwiches, but we didn't have to eat them because she burned them while broiling them. And I also remember the cake she made for my sister's birthday cake one year. She burned the chocolate while making frosting, so the cake had a frosting top, but naked sides.

I consider myself a good cook under normal circumstances and I enjoy cooking. But I do not enjoy cooking while being interrupted. I do not enjoy noise while I cook. I do not enjoy the limitations of my family's eating habits. My husband grew up in Houston, drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast and eating delicacies like Frito-Pie and brisket sandwiches. He doesn't really care for vegetables, pasta, anything involving eggs--unless they are fried--muffins, vegetarian cuisine, pork, salads . . . and he's lactose intolerant, so dairy products are problematic. He also prefers that I avoid red meat as it hurts his stomach. He doesn't like cornbread, biscuits, muffins or scones.

My children have their own quirks. One isn't fond of meat. One hates potatoes. None of them like their food mixed together (aka casseroles).

I like to cook, but I like an appreciative audience. My sons tend to ask, "What's for dinner?" and then respond, "Ewwww." I know. I should have nipped that in the bud, but I haven't, so I generally respond, "Monkey guts and pig eyeballs. With a side of elephant tails and bat eyelashes."

And now, in closing, I'd like to explain what I believed a "taco" was when I was growing up. My mother hailed from North Dakota, the daughter of a Swede who taught me to eat pickled herring and pickled pigs' feet. (Yum.) My father's people came from the Netherlands and landed in Wisconsin. We're pale folks from the North.

So, my mother's version of a taco was this. Take one soft corn tortilla. Microwave it until it's floppy. Fill with fried hamburger which you have lovingly seasoned with salt. Sprinkle with cheese, shredded lettuce, diced dill pickles and then cover the whole mess with ketchup. If you are extremely adventurous, squirt one drop of Tabasco sauce in the center. Fold and eat.

My husband grimaces everytime I mention this, which means I bring it up once a year at least.

Things I've Done

I've been a daughter for forty years.
I've been an older sister for thirty-nine years.
I've been a wife for eighteen years.
I've been a mother of boys for twelve years.
I've been living in this house for seven years.
I've the mother of a girl for three years.
I've been a blogger for two years.

I babysat.
I worked on a goat farm.
I picked and planted strawberries (my first "real job" when I was twelve.)
I worked at the "Nutt Hutt," a natural food store.
I folded soft tacos and fried mexi-fries at Taco Time.
I typed college papers for money.
I worked in the cafeteria.
I was a nanny.
I worked for Heritage USA as a children's ministries worker and then as a youth ministries intern.
I was a childcare worker at a health club.
I worked as a legal secretary.
I was the office manager/secretary for a social service organization that served widowed people.
I worked for Blue Cross in the customer service department.
I had a home daycare.
I transcribed legal documents.
I have been paid to write a time or two.

But I have no idea what I'm going to make for dinner, even though I assured myself at the grocery store on Saturday that I had a plan for each day this week. It's 4:00 p.m. Do you know where what your dinner is?

Monday, October 10, 2005


I was about to conclude a long rambling post when my computer shut off again. Same time as last night.

The only thing I can salvage is this thought: I think Oprah is chubbier this season.

Oh. And this thought about the sixteen year old princesses featured on that MTV show "Sweet Sixteen," a show which features the birthday parties for these spoiled brats. These girls need to be grabbed by the hair and forced to serve the less fortunate. They could serve meals to homeless people or read books to smelly, unruly, underprivileged children. I watched two episodes tonight while I put away laundry and ironed. I couldn't look away from their complete self-absorption.

That's all for tonight, lest more of my words disappear in a computer crash.

What I said to the lab tech when he asked what I do.
Why I hate cooking for my family.
Rain and weeds.
Songs I sang in the 70s and 80s.
(All ground I covered tonight in the post I lost.)

A Small Grumpy Message

Last night, my computer began to spontaneously turn itself off. Over and over again. I was prepared for it to spontaneously combust, but it did not.

[This morning, my recalcitrant machine informed me, "The error was likely caused by an unrecoverable system hardware error. These errors are general in nature and can be caused by problems (such as overheating) with one or more of the following computer components:

Random Access Memory (RAM)
System board
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Power Supply

I doubt it. It's probably just the avian flu and fifteen million of us will die by nightfall.]

Then, after retiring to bed at 11:30 p.m., I watched Ebert & Roeper and finally snapped off the light at midnight. I was mysteriously wide awake (worried about my dreadfully ill computer, sure) and nine minutes later, my 3-year old daughter who never wakes in the night, woke up crying.

Let's just say it was a long night, featuring a whimpering child coughing in my face and hogging my bed. I gave her ibuprofen at 2:00 a.m. and then we slept until 7:00 a.m. She's been talkative and cheerful all day. Me? Not so much.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ponchos, Small Talk and a Chocolate Fountain

We went to a wedding tonight. I sat in almost the back row, while my husband stood on the platform and conducted the ceremony. I am happy to report that everyone wore shoes.

My mother babysat and although my daughter was thrilled at the idea of Grandma coming to our house, she cried four times in the first hour we were gone. She didn't nap well earlier today (if at all) and she has a little cold--my daughter, not my mother. I'm not sure who was happier to see me at 8:30 p.m. . . my mom or my little girl.

I saw a woman at the wedding wearing a poncho, much like that one Martha Stewart famously wore when she was released from prison. As far as I can tell, this is an ugly yarn blanket with a hole in it for the head. I can't believe people are wearing these atrocities. When I was in third or fourth grade, my grandma crocheted me more than one shawl, which I wore to church with my cotton-polyester blend dresses and my white knit kneesocks. If you wore a blanket-like creation in your childhood, you should not wear it again. That's why you will not find me wrapped up in a poncho or a shawl. Well, that and the ugly factor.

Also, what is the deal with wedding clothes? Not just the clothes the wedding party wears (halter necked gowns which bare shoulders should not be worn by just anyone, you know, especially, say, seven of your closest friends of all body types and sizes), but the clothes which are acceptable to wear to a wedding. I feel like I'm about eight hundred years old, but when did it become okay for women to wear pants to weddings? I wore a dress and pantyhose to the last wedding I attended, and as you may recall (if you have been lucky enough to follow all my utterly boring fascinating adventures, I stripped those pantyhose off in the bathroom at the reception. (Which sounds very exciting, except, I was alone and it was a matter of comfort versus agony.) I noticed then that many of the other women wore pants. Who is responsible for this fashion trend?

I don't know, but I'd like to thank the woman responsible for my complete and utter comfort tonight. My black pants were quite comfortable and as it turns out, completely commonplace despite the fancy, hoity-toitiness of the wedding. I sipped champagne during the toast, I held a skewered strawberry, banana chunk and marshmallow under a fountain of chocolate and I asked the (retired) military wife next to me if they had children when they were stationed in St. Louis and she replied--to my utter shock--"We don't have children." (I've known this lovely couple for about five years.)

Someone, please, anyone, stop me from making small talk.

Introducing . . .

Just tonight, I came home to a comment from Krisco of this blog. Go see for yourself. She is one funny blogger!

Friday, October 07, 2005

I Wish I Weren't Quite This Dull

The other morning at 4:45 a.m., my husband woke me to tell me he couldn't sleep, so he was going to work early. He bragged later that he was at his desk by 6:00 a.m. Though the sun slips from the sky earlier and earlier, the days seem longer and longer around here. It doesn't help when a certain someone keeps waking up early (alerting me to that fact) and when a certain someone else calls my name, "Mommy! Oh MOMmy!" before 7:00 a.m. and when a certain someone else stays up too late writing her blog and reading other blogs.

My 3-year old daughter is incessant, persistent, insistent. Bossy. And she talks, talks, talks. Last night, I had to take her with me to a meeting for school. She kept talking out loud during the meeting, so I would whisper to her, "Shhhh, be quiet." And she'd retort, "No! You be quiet!" Sometimes, when I tell her, "Stop that!" she'll say, "No! You stop that!" But usually, she scolds herself and says, "Don't be mad at me, Mommy."

My husband tells me that in ten years, he'll be sitting in a recliner with a Pepsi and a bag of Doritoes, laughing at me and her. He says she is just like me, which is patently untrue because I was a docile, compliant, overachieving child. I never sassed my parents and if I talked in church, my mother would poke my head with her pointed fingernail. I kept my sassiness to myself. And it doesn't count if you don't say it out loud, does it? If your sarcasm and bitchiness is contained only in a thought bubble floating over your head, you are innocent, aren't you?

(In seventh grade, at the beginning of a school year, I raised my hand in my homeroom class and challenged the teacher: "Why do we have to go over every single answer?" I was bored, bored, bored. The teacher sent me straight to the principal's office for being such a rebellious troublemaker and the principal gave me a little lecture and I never raised my hand in class again. Good job, public school teachers! Way to handle the very bright girl who was bored with worksheets!)

My daughter is sweet. She adores babies and helps me in many ways--some helpful and some not. (Helpful--getting a diaper and the wipes from a diaper bag. Not helpful--"washing" dishes, leaving a puddle in the kitchen floor.) She seems to be very smart and knows the sounds of lots of her ABCs and has a sharp memory. I hope this trend continues because, so help me, if I have another Reluctant Student, I may resign.)

I went to Target tonight in search of activated charcoal, but they didn't have it. (Pet store, here I come.) I need the charcoal for a science project. Anyway, when I returned at 10:00 p.m., as I was unloading the trunk while holding my keys, I accidentally pushed the panic button.

My car blared: HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! Nothing like announcing to the (quiet) neighborhood that I'm home. I'm unobtrusive like that.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Adventures in School-at-Home

What is it about having children that turns a rational adult (me) into a raving lunatic who acts like a child? Or at least wants to act like a child?

My Reluctant Student, the one the public school assessment team declared was "just a normal sixth grade boy" continues to push me right to the edge. Sunday night, I literally forgot all about watching "Grey's Anatomy" because I was busy organizing the school work for the week. I printed out a list, I ripped the necessary pages for each subject out of the book, highlighted the parts I required done, stapled them together, put everything in labeled folders for each day of the week which fit neatly into a binder. I put Post-it notes on pages to explain when further explanation was needed. (To this point, they'd been referring to the online schedule each day and working directly out of their individual student guides.)

All this to avoid the problem I was having with the boys not completing each day's assignments on each day. When they don't, the assignment is automatically rescheduled for the next day by the computer and pretty soon, the work that should have been done this week has been pushed to next week. I figured if the day's work was waiting in a folder, they would work through it, one subject at a time and I'd easily be able to tell what was left undone. That's what I would do, after all, if I were the student.

The Reluctant Student spent the first hour this morning working (and I use that word loosely) on an art assignment. Then he spent forty-five minutes holding his literature book while demanding to be allowed to do his literature in another room with his brother. I refused, so he yelled and shuffled his papers and tossed them across the table and then declared that this system doesn't work and how can he possibly do his work when it's so confusing? All this in an effort to avoid doing the writing portion of his literature assignment, which lies abandoned on the table.

The Reluctant (non-sequential) Student decided to do math instead, so off he went to the computer to do his "Study Skills Update." I sneaked into the doorway to watch and the first problem popped up. He clicked on his keyboard to enable the calculator feature. I startled him when I said, "What are you doing?" He was annoyed that I wouldn't let him use the calculator to work on the math skills exercise.

When he flopped back to the table, he began to fret and whine and carry on. He criticized the system of folders and blabbed on and on and on. Inside my head, I'm thinking, I am not speaking to him anymore today. But the provocation finally led me to scoot my daughter off my lap and stride into the kitchen. When he said, "I just want to work out of the books!" I made his dreams come true. I taped the math pages right back into his book and I did so with fuming righteous indignation. Then came the last straw.

He asked if I had activated charcoal, a required element for our science experiment. I don't. I haven't been able to get to the store to buy that ingredient, so the science lesson has been postponed more than once. When I said, "No," he began to whine, so I saved him from the next step, which was the fit. Sacrificing myself, I threw myself (gently, I am forty) to the floor, where I kicked and flailed my arms and did a fake cry. I thought a little exaggeration would be funny. He did not laugh because he has no sense of humor.

I picked myself up, dusted myself off and told him in no uncertain terms that I reached my limit, that he pushed me to the edge and that I would no longer be dealing with him today. "So, get to work!" Then he cried, as he usually does when he's made me furious.

I was panting when I reached my bedroom. I took out my frustration on my sheets and made the bed. Then I sprawled out, face-down and explained to God that I can't possibly meet the needs of this child. I stayed there until I could breath normally and the urge to rip up papers and snap pencils in two passed.

When I returned downstairs, he was quick to apologize. I directed him back to his math and sat with him to verbally correct each one he did wrong (the majority). He was told to do his assessment, but he's disappeared into the living room again.

Because I am mean, I said to his brother, who was on his stomach playing with the cat (ostensibly, he was practicing his speech), "Hey, when your brother goes back to public school, do you want to still do school-at-home?" He looked at me, wide-eyed, aghast. I winked. Then, without skipping another beat, he said, "Yes."

A few minutes later, a pitiful voice floated out from the living room. "But I don't want to go to public school!"

And I said firmly, "Then get to work."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Roy the Stupid Cat

Roy the Stupid Cat peed on my leg tonight as I was attempting to hold him for the vet (who makes housecalls). When I felt the warm wetness on my jeans, I dropped the cat and yelled and stomped upstairs. Stupid cat!

The vet, my calm friend of twenty-plus years, said that peeing is the cat's last defense.

But I didn't hate Roy the Stupid Cat any less.

While I found clean pants, my vet friend quietly moved aside my son's bed to get at the cat and managed to pry her (yes, Roy the Stupid Cat is a female) mouth open and pop the pill in. My vet friend rocks.

After all the drama, we ate Mexican food and compared stories of our dad's deaths and funerals and wondered how it can be possible that we are forty. Then we promised not to wait another year before getting together again.

And when I got home, my husband was cleaning up cat poop and cat vomit and hating cats in general almost as much as I hate Roy the Stupid Cat specifically. Stupid cat.

(Edited to add: We have three cats. They all needed their routine vaccinations and flea treatments and *blech* as it turned out, pills for tapeworms.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Tenth Circle of Hell

Dante's Inferno describes nine circles of hell, which feature such punishments as being trapped in a violent storm unable to touch each other, being forced to push rocks in opposite directions, being turned into a thorny black tree, being chased by ferocious dogs, being in a desert of flaming sands wehre flames rain from the sky, being whipped by demons, being placed head-first into a hole while flames burn the soles of the feet, having your head put on backwards so you can only see what is behind you, and being frozen in a lake of ice. (I remembered none of that. I had to look it up. What a pitiful education I've had.)

What Wikipedia will not tell you is that documents have been recovered which suggest a little known Tenth Circle of Hell. Which is where I spent the afternoon yesterday.

Chuck E Cheese's The Tenth Circle of Hell is crowded with children who have no quiet, indoor voices, and catatonic adults who languish in booths watching over their territory. The adults appear to be shell-shocked, which is due to the high cost of tokens, which are the Lifeblood of the Tenth Circle of Hell. The token machines taken credit cards now and soon, they will be able to fill out the paperwork for your second mortgage.

But I thought I could survive unscathed, even though to enter you must accept the Mark of the Beast a hand-stamp. At precisely 4:00 p.m., we arrived with birthday present in hand. The mother of the birthday girl had twenty-five plates lines on the long table. No children were in sight. They began to trickle in fifteen minutes later and party seemed to sort of officially begin at 4:35 p.m.

I was lucky, though. Near the long table was an unoccupied booth, big enough for two. I marked my territory with my jean jacket and "Family Circle" magazine, then sat and watched. I read my magazine ("Love Your Life: 25 Ways to Feel Calm Every Day", which strangely enough, didn't mention a thing about sitting in a booth at Chuck E. Cheese's on a Sunday afternoon), glancing up occasionally to see my son acting crazy.

He goofed off with the others. The animatronic creatures had been replaced with a fake movie camera which projects the images of the crazed children on two big screens. The girls seemed to be auditioning for MTV, while the boys took turns throwing themselves to the floor and karate-chopping each other and shaking the camera violently. Periodically, my son would hurry over and ask if I'd seen a particular stunt he'd done. At one point, a bunch of hapless employees joined a costumed Chuck (can I call you "Chuck"?) as he danced a few numbers. The bored manner in which these employees danced was a delight.

At long last, pizza was served. At long long, pizza was finished. At long last, tokens were distributed. Ten tokens for each child. Knowing ten tokens would never be enough and hoping to parole myself Chuck E. Cheese's the Tenth Circle of Hell for at least another year, I bought twenty bucks worth of tokens--which works out to 105. I redeemed myself by actually tagging along and playing games with my boy and his friend (who was mooching tokens from us). (I had long since finished my magazine.) I demonstrated my propensity for gambling by plugging token after token into this game in which (in the words of this website,) "The coin or token will land on a flat surface or surfaces which have a sweeper(s) and/or a pusher arm moving across the surface or surfaces." I could easily put all 105 tokens in that machine, but I didn't.

When we spent all the tokens, turned the 311 tickets into a receipt, and "purchased" our cheap trinkets, we went back to see if the cake was being served. No. It was not. Instead, birthday party mom had distribute goody bags which contained torturous noise-makers. Suddenly, the room was filled the sound of ten thousand crows having their tailfeathers plucked out one by one and dog-whistle kind of whistles, which oddly enough, considering my state of near-deafness, I could hear.

A grown adult, a man, stood blowing a whistle over and over. I was about to suggest to the three other moms sitting near me (they'd infringed on my booth territory while I was busy gambling playing games, but I'd assured them, ""Oh no, that's fine. Stay there," and then I eavesdropped, but sadly to say, they were very boring) that one of us needed to slap that noise-making lunatic and I was willing to offer ten bucks to the slapper, but instead, I just sat glaring deathrays at that man who eventually did stop, but not a second too soon. I had slapped him in my imagination about ten times by then. (No wonder I was sitting in the Tenth Circle of Hell with such dreadful thoughts.)

The cake was finally served and the second my son finished licking his plate (over and over and over again and then some more, was he raised by wolves, hungry wolves on the Atkins plan with a fierce sugar craving?) I marched over to birthday party mom and shook her sticky hand and thanked her profusely. And I said that I hoped she'd get to put up her feet when she got home.

We left at 6:15 p.m. I have no idea when the birthday girl opened gifts.

As we walked out in the sudden stillness of the evening, my son said, "Mom, you know what kind of parties I like the best? Chuck E. Cheese's and Odyssey 1."

Yeah, me, too. That and being chased by venomous snakes and being plunged into a lake of burning pitch and then, as a grand finale, being steeped in human excrement.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Substitute Post for the One My Cable Company Lost

Last night, at midnight, I sat here composing a post while half-watching Steve Carrell on Saturday Night Live. I had just clicked "publish" when the television picture turned into static. A moment later, it occurred to me that my computer is connected to the same cable as my television.

Which explains why last night's post vanished.

Well, it wasn't that exciting anyway. Yesterday, my husband worked all day. I lingered in bed until 10:00 a.m., which is a feat in itself when you consider that I have a three year old who woke up early and spent her morning begging me for goldfish crackers and donuts and jumping on my back. Somehow, I kept drifing back to sleep, over and over until I was shocked into full consciousness when she began to scream.

Her brother had come up to ask me if Dad was getting donuts. ("No," he's working.) Then he saw his sister in the bathroom, so he peeked in and grabbed the yo-yo she's been playing with for a day or so. She responded with an outraged sob and was so hysterical that I immediately checked for blood, bones poking through her skin, and missing teeth. She was fine, just furious and her clothes were on backwards.

When my husband returned from preaching the funeral and working on his sermon at 5:30 p.m., I exited stage left. I attempted to run two errands (both places closed), bought one Christmas present at Toys R Us, then went to a movie which was as sweet, cute and substantial as a cupcake. (Any guesses?)

Afterwards, I went to the grocery store. The sheer number of fellow shoppers surprised me. I even had to wait in line--on a Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.! I was home by 11:00 p.m.

And that's how I spent my Saturday.

I have been sentenced to spend this afternoon at Chuck E Cheese's. My son's entire second-grade class was invited to a birthday party. I wonder if I could be completely anti-social if I pretended not to speak English?
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