Friday, March 31, 2006

Another Virus!

Shalee "infected" me with the "Indie Virus," which seems maybe a little malevolent, but was really very nice.

You see, Pearsonified has started a small, casual social experiment, it's called "The Indie Virus." Here's how Pearsonified describes this experiment:

The experiment, henceforth referred to as "The Indie Virus," has two goals:*

1) To bring exposure to lesser known blogs (especially those outside of Technorati's top 100);
2) To explore the metrics behind a viral linking campaign launched by the 'little guys' (less popular blogs).

So, Mary, from Tales From the Edge of Sanity, consider yourself contagious with "The Indie Virus". (Follow the directions by clicking on the links for Pearsonified to infect others if you dare.)

Also, Oshee, from Hallucinations has been infected with the "The Indie Virus". (She's from Arizona, but is posting about a visit to Seattle, too, at the moment. How about that?)

Finally, Sarah, from The Cleft of the Rock has also caught "The Indie Virus".

Check out these blogs and say Mel sent you. (Thanks to Shalee of Shalee's Thoughts for including me in this internet virus.)


Here's what I'd like to do today:
1) Go crazy trimming ivy and hedges in front and back yards.
2) Remove old perennial growth from fall and grin and wave at new growth.
3) Sweep off patio and gather up toys from yard.
4) Eat lunch at Taco Time.
5) Nap.
6) Read all afternoon while my maid tidies up and my chef cooks dinner. (Oh wait, I think I just lost my tentative grip on reality.)

Here's what I'll actually do today:
1) Eat oatmeal while waiting for boys to become lucid and ready to work.
2) Sit at kitchen table for two or three hours and participate in School-At-Home.
3) Make lunch for little kids.
4) Put all little ones down for naps and thank God I made it through the morning.
5) Wash, fold, put away laundry.
6) Wonder what to make for dinner.
7) Make dinner.
8) Thank God for parents who retrieve their children and for neighbor kids who go home. (Eat dinner. Clean up after dinner.)
9) Try to read 13 Ways to Look at a Novel while concentrating on keeping eyes open. Wonder if I'll ever actually read a novel again or if I am doomed to be stuck in the middle of this extra-long-super-deluxe-big book about novels forever.
10) Watch pointless television, maybe.
11) Read blogs, definitely.
12) Think about working in yard tomorrow, but realize that I'd rather leave my house in a car than stay home and work. Plan my escape.

Update: What I Actually Did
1) Finished eating oatmeal.
2) Changed baby's diaper.
3) Dragged almost-13 year old twins through an entire unit of poetry. They were not impressed (hostile, really), but we conquered it with only a minor fit-throwing. One boy wrote his own poem about gluing a cat to the table, accidentally, of course.)
4) Debated merits of pitching navel orange at Reluctant Student's fit-throwing head. Refrained from violence. Barely.
5) Laundered three loads of clothes. Swept and mopped the laundry-room floor. (You really don't want to know.)
6) Made lunch.
7) Cleaned up disgusting kitchen mess.
8) Wondered how it was possible for whole house to look like a Goodwill store, post-bomb-explosion.
9) Figured out how many lessons of each subject we need to complete per day for the last ten weeks of school. (Answer: A lot.)
10) Ate Pizza Hut pizza, delivered personally by my husband, Mr. Candyland.
10) Watched mindless television ("Deal . . . or No Deal?"), read 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel (curse you, Jane Smiley, for writing such a long and meticulous book!), and thanked God for Fridays.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Six People Danced All Night and Then Died In the Morning

Actually, I have been thinking, so I take that back. I've been thinking about this rave after-party in Seattle at which party-goers were shot and killed by Kyle Huff. My sister (not the one who stole my birth pictures and hasn't spoken to me since, but the other sister who is seven years younger than me) used to go to raves in Seattle in her wild and crazy days. She'd be gone all night. Once I arrived at my mom's duplex on a Saturday morning just as one of my sister's friends was leaving. The friend's black clothing contrasted with her painted white face and stark red lips. She looked more dead than alive. My sister knew this girl only from the raves and after the dancing to thumping electronic music, they'd made their way back from Seattle on the bus and slept a little in the wee hours of the morning.

(And if they thought we didn't notice that they were behaving strangely and dangerously and using crystal meth, they were sadly mistaken. Because rave = drug use no matter what you say.)

So the reason I keep thinking about Kyle Huff shooting all those ravers after he was invited to their after-party to hang out is that he could have shot my sister. She used to go home with people she didn't know and share needles with people she didn't know and drink alcohol with people she didn't know and then lie about it. I used to toss and turn at night, praying, worrying, wondering how she'd live through the choices she was making. I tried to stop her, but she wouldn't be stopped.

Two of the girls (ages 14 and 15) who were shot dead by Kyle Huff were much younger than the men who were shot. If news reports are to be believed, their parents knew they were going to a rave. They didn't know one of the girls would lose her friends and go home with strangers. That girl's dad didn't know she was missing until the next morning. But the parents knew what their kids were doing, staying out all night, partying. (I can't understand this. I know we are overprotective in many ways, but I believe strongly in boundaries for kids.)

This news story about the murders of six people plays in my head like a catchy tune stuck on repeat. Over and over and over again, shooting and dead bodies and the devastation in the rave community. (Did you know there was a rave community? I didn't.)

My sister, during those run-away days of Greyhound buses and needle tracks hidden by long sleeves, said to me once, "I just wish I was still grounded, at home in the living room." For only a short time before, she'd said to my dad, "I hate you! I wish you were dead!" And then he died when she was sixteen and she tasted the frightening freedom for which she'd yearned. And when the highs faded and the hangovers lasted longer than the fun, she changed her mind.

The consequences of the choices she made back in those days continue today, of course, even almost twenty years later. But at least she stopped before she was dead. Not all kids living more in the night-time than in the day are so lucky.

That's why I can't stop thinking about Kyle Huff and the six dead people (two of them only kids) and shots ringing out at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Untitled Due to Lack of Creativity


Do you sense that yawning chasm in my brain? Because I have been digging around in there and find that it's pretty much empty. Just echoes in the air and foil wrappers from chocolate Easter candy littering the floor.

I would like to point out that if you arrive on my doorstep around 3:00 p.m., you will find my house in a state of complete disarray. I don't bother picking up toys or straightening up the kitchen or doing much of anything between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. These are the sacred hours, the Nap Hours, the house during which I try to trick my 3 year old into staying upstairs, watching television. These are the hours in which my almost-13-year old boys disappear into their room, wandering out only to find a snack. If they speak to me, I say, "Please, do NOT talk to me!" I suppose they'll discuss my behavior with their therapist in years to come.

And from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., I am doing school-at-home with the boys while keeping an eye on my daughter, her 3-year old buddy and the 16-month old baby boy. You can imagine the utter devastation occurring moment by moment.

My daughter woke up at 4:45 a.m. She was hysterical over a bad dream she'd had. In her dream, a spider licked and licked a bee, then ate it and spit it out. Apparently, this is terrifying if you are three and a half. She insisted on watching a video, so I pushed in "Blue's Clues" and warned her not to wake me and abandoned her in her room. Because I am self-centered like that and completely delirious in the dark hours of pre-dawn.

She woke me once to ask for a cookie. ("No, you can't have a cookie. Go back to your room.") Then at 6:00 a.m., she crawled into my bed and slept. Problem was, I had trouble falling back asleep and so this morning at 8:00 a.m., I was not ready to face the day. I'm still not really ready, but the day is moving forward anyway.

And now, my bladder pleads with me to heed its call and I hear a baby crying somewhere in the distance. (Oh wait. Too much information?)


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Husband on Strike?

This husband is on strike. My only question is, "And how would that be different from not being on strike?" I bet his wife is happy he's on the roof. If I were her, I'd put the ladder away in the garage. One less person to pick up after.

(This is no way reflects on my husband, who happens to be a great husband and father. I offer this proof of his superiority to all other men: he plays Pooh-Bear Candyland every night with my daughter so I don't have to.) Sure, he wants me to iron his pants (*gasp* OH THE HORRORS OF THE PATRIARCHY!!) but honestly, everyone has to make some sacrifices and that's mine.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stuff in the News That Bewilders Me

From USA So, President Bush "believes the best way to end the black market in labor, which has drawn an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to the USA, is to legally expand opportunities for foreigners to take jobs that Americans don't want. 'By creating a separate legal channel for those entering America to do an honest day's labor, we would dramatically reduce the number of people trying to sneak back and forth across the border,' he said Monday."

That makes sense to me. And yet:

"The House bill by Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., passed in December, would make illegal immigration a felony and increase penalties on employers. It would also expand 14 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border by 700 miles, at an estimated cost of $2.2 billion."

Eleven million illegal immigrants are here. The question is, what now? Isn't a a "guest-worker" reasonable? Am I missing something, Mr. Sensenbrenner? Are we seriously considering making their presence a felony, increasing our the load our courts and prison systems must bear? What is the penalty now for being an illegal immigrant? And how did we accumulate 11 million of them before we decided to take action?

See? I'm so confused. I need more information and yet, I'm not sure I'd have enough unbiased information to ever really understand these sorts of things.

I'm also confused about Michael Schiavo. Why would a man who claims to shun publicity and decry public interest in a so-called private matter write a book about it? Am I missing something? I have no patience for a man who began dating, having children and cohabitating with another woman while waiting for his wife to die. What ever happened to duty and faithfulness? And why put yourself back in the news just when we were starting to forget that he begged the courts to deprive his wife of nourishment (and water, too).

I wonder about Rusty Yates who is getting on with his life, while his ex-wife faces a second trial in the drownings of their five children. How does one just move on like that? Don't dead children require at least a decade of mourning? And what kind of woman marries a man with that kind of baggage? This boggles my mind.

And just when you thought a pastor's wife was a quiet little woman with a beige personality, along comes Mary Winkler with her sassy haircut, three little girls and husband shot dead in his bed. I know. We are all thinking the same thing: What was her motive? Why would she shoot her husband in the back? (Oh wait, I presume guilt. Shame on me.) Still. Why? Why? Why? Why didn't the vision of her children with a dead dad and an incarcerated mom stop her?

I don't understand a lot of things today, I guess.

Check Out This Blog: That's an Order!

If you've ever caught vomit in your cupped hands, you are probably a mother. And so, you might want to check out this blog by a mother of four.

Cyn's blog is one of my new favorites. She talks about a support group she wanted to start when she had four preschoolers: MAPS--Mothers Against Preschoolers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

MISSING: Maternal Brain Cells and More

Have you seen this shoe?
  • Appearance: Reebok, black, right shoe, baseball cleat, dusty, no laces.
  • Missing since: Fall 2005
  • Size: 3.5

    This black Reebok baseball cleat was last seen in the vicinity of the family room and the Nintendo GameCube. Owner's mother offers a reward of $5.00. Foul play not suspected.


Recovered earlier today in a frantic pre-P.E. search:

Brand new baseball glove owned by 12-year old son; located in underwear/socks drawer.

Brand new softball, necessary for P.E. at the YMCA; located under children's desk, nestled in a nest of cat fur and dust.

It's that time of year . . . when the seasons change and I suddenly have no idea where necessary accoutrement hides. I used to be the kind of person who could locate any item--no matter how obscure or tiny--in a matter of minutes. I had a brain that retained minute bits of information, little diagrams of the interiors of drawers and cupboards. I could remember.

Now, I am lucky to find my slippers. Oh, that's right. They're on my feet.

On my 8-year old's feet? Yeah, red Chuck Taylors. He may not have any traction, but he sure will be stylin'.

Mission Accomplished

Even my husband (who tends to not eat pizza much) said it was the best pizza he'd had in a long time. "I've had pepperoni for so long I had forgotten what a good combo pizza was like."

Really, life is too short not to order the pizza of your choice.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Worse Than Interruptions: Pepperoni Pizza

What's worse than being constantly interrupted? What's worse than never being alone in the bathroom? What's worse than constant noise when only silence will do? What's worse than chatting on the phone while peering into the eyes of a 3-year old who chants, "I want to talk! I want to talk! I want to talk!"? What's worse than reading the same sentence in a book three times, no four times--no, make that a half dozen times--because you're being paged by the girl in the bathtub? What's worse than walking into a room and forgetting what you're doing because you were sidetracked by an "urgent" matter?

I'll tell you. Pepperoni pizza.

That's right. Pepperoni pizza. Had I known during those feverish days of baby-lust that the day would come when pepperoni pizza would trump my craving for black olives and mushrooms and onions and--oh, just give me everything on it, yes, even pineapple--I might have reconsidered. All I want now is a decent pizza, one loaded up with all the things my kids refuse to eat.

But I don't order the pizza of my dreams because:

1) I don't want to spend that much money on a pizza just for myself.
2) I don't want to tempt myself to eat that much pizza myself.
3) Too many leftovers.
4) I'm ridiculous.

How many things have I sacrificed for my children? Long bubblebaths, nights of reading until the wee hours, days spent browsing in antique shops, the last cookie, watching a grown-up show at 8 p.m. downstairs in the comfortable recliner, sleeping in on Saturday mornings and sitting all through the service on Sunday . . . let me count the ways.

You see where this is leading, don't you? Papa Murphy's, of course. If I had a working vehicle and three fewer children in my house at this very moment, I would be in the car RIGHT NOW, heading for my beloved Papa Murphy's franchise, coupon clutched in my sandpapery hand. I would throw all caution to the wind--to the wind, I tell you!--and order a combination pizza for me and a pepperoni for the picky kids.

A girl can dream.

(For the record, I'd pay the price over and over again, but first, I need sustenance. And a day off and a maid.)

Update: So, I called my husband and asked if he'd go pick up pizza from Papa Murphy's for me. "Sure," he said. I told him to let me know when he'd have time and I'd call the order in.

A few minutes ago, he called me. He was so pleased with himself. He reported that he happened to speak with a friend of ours who was shopping at Costco at that very minute and he'd asked her to bring home a pizza for us. Saves him time going to the pizza place and all. Cool, right?

Guess what kind of pizza she's bringing?



Tomorrow? I will buy myself a combination pizza . . . or die trying!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'm A Dwarf: Sleepy

Here is fatigue. At 8:13 p.m., I put my daughter to bed. Then I curled on my bed and proceeded to fall into a deep sleep, but not so deep that I didn't hear myself snore. At least I stopped short of drooling.

Motherhood is so glamorous.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll have more to say.

Wanna Be A Television Star?

I received an email from an associate producer today. (And no, it wasn't from the producers of "The Swan." Ha ha. Real funny.)

This is what it said:

"I'm currently working with The Learning Channel casting a new television series about children with behavioral, sleeping, or eating problems. The show is a hit in Great Britain and TLC is excited to adapt it for American television. I was wondering if you'd be so kind as to post our flyer, or our contact information and the kind of people we hope to hear from.

Let me tell you a little bit about our show:

An international TV first, this exciting new format takes parenting television to a totally new dimension by fusing reality TV with observational documentary to observe families solving their behavioral problems. This is not reality TV. This is reality with a purpose. Three families will be selected with toddlers and young children, each suffering from a parenting problem. They will be invited to a residence in the UK where they will learn the skills they need to turn their lives around in just six days. The house consists of a living area, a garden with a gazebo, conservatory, deck, and playground that the families will all share. Each of the families will also have their own private suite with master bedroom, children's room, and bathroom.

Our ideal families have children between the ages of 18 months and 8 years old. We would love to hear from all families: single parents, alternative lifestyle parents, teen parents, ethnic minority parents, anyone and everyone!"

The flyer says this:



Britain's hit parenting series is coming to the States!

TLC and Outline Productions are working

on the first American season of

"The House of Tiny Terrors"

We would like to hear from all families and
single parents with children between the ages of
18 months and 8 years old who wish to take part.
Whatever your parenting dilemmas or problems ?

we may be able to help!

If you would like some more information,

contact us at:

or 646.216.4348

No commitment is needed at this stage and
all calls will be treated with strict confidence.
There you go. For what it's worth. Seriously, how can you resist reality television? I'm thinking of faking a serious problem just so I can go to the UK and lounge around in the gazebo and sleep in the master suite. I wonder if I'd have to take my kids?
No, really. I'll pass, but you? Or someone you know? Feel free to pass the love along!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thinking Interrupted Thoughts

I used all my fingers and one toe (the pinky toe which turns sideways, much to my chagrin) to count the number of children in my house today. And yet, I managed a creative dinner (breakfast burritos) and kept everyone alive all day long. I had some thoughts in my head at some point today--I believe I was going to complain about my utter fatigue and about the depression that sometimes lurks in the shadows until I poke it with a stick--but that all seems a foggy dream now.

Sometimes, I'm here all day, routinely switching laundry from basket to washer to dryer to basket to folded on the back of the chair back to basket, changing diapers, fetching snacks, dragging the boys through their lessons (lately, the War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine), answering the phone (I need to get a cordless phone--what is this, 1974? I have to run into the kitchen to catch the phone before the fourth ring, which is clearly archaic) . . . and I feel so disconnected with what is happening in my household because my brain is churning and then--STOP--interrupted. Over and over and over again until I am positively strung out from the effort of thinking a coherent thought from beginning to end.

That has to be the worst part of motherhood--the elimination of meaningful thought. I used to have thoughts, ideas, actual beginnings, middles and ends to my daydreams. Or maybe it only seems that way. The constant interruptions drive me berserk. I did not know that becoming a mother would mean I would never have an uninterrupted thought again.

Except for short thoughts, thoughts like, "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" and "HEY, WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE COOKIES?" and "LET'S HAVE PIZZA FOR DINNER."

* * *
Blogger will not let me comment on any of my favorite reads . . . which I assume (giving you the benefit of the doubt!) is what is also happening on my blog. If you have a comment, please feel free to email me at Melodeee (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Change: Not Just Under the Couch Cushions

So much has happened since I've been silent. For instance, winter ended and spring sprang. And I cooked two decent meals and one half-decent meal. The sun shone and the rain returned. Change, change, change--it's not just floating in the recesses of your purse.

Rest assured, though. Some things remain the same. My desk still features a wide array of clutter: the yarn weavings the boys did for Art, my teacher's guide (Spelling), five envelopes full of developed pictures, a small pile of used tissues, and a 24-pack of Crayola colored pencils. The problem with being healthy after a week (or more) of being sick is that the to-do list backs up and stacks up. And I'm still weary and my (spring) fever will not respond to treatment (la-la-la-la, I can't hear you!).

I have to admit that I'm kind of bogged down in Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. Reading it makes me feel like I'm back in college, minus the broad back of the cute boy sitting in the front row. What's hilarious to me now is that I thought I was so busy then, so stressed out, so living-the-life-of-drama.

Ha. Someone else cooked all the meals (thanks, Cafeteria Ladies!), I only did laundry for one (and I used the same towel for a week), and I could sleep all day on Saturday if the mood struck. Real stressful. However did I manage?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wherein I Pout and Rant and Rave and Leave Home

Yesterday, my husband had to work. The funeral started at 2 p.m., so by noon, he was gone and I was still here. I admit that I was the tiniest bit pouty about the fact that I faced another Saturday at home with the children and the laundry and the dirty kitchen floor. He said, "You could at least have a good attitude," and you know, that's true. I could, but I didn't. I don't know . . . maybe six weeks of illness and too many weekends in a row at home have taken a toll. You think?

Anyway, then, of course, I felt remorse and shame at my petty pouty attitude. And so I gathered the children together ("Where are we going?" "I'm not telling." "Why not?" "Because you'll complain." "Oh, Mom! That means it's somewhere we'll hate!") and off we went in our 1987 Chevy Astro van.

First stop? Gas station.
Second stop? Bank.
Third stop? Wendy's drive-through.
Fourth stop? Zoo.
Fifth stop? Dairy Queen.
Sixth stop? Side of the road so I could stop screaming and start wiping up the ice cream plastered all over my daughter's fingers, dripping on the floor.
Seventh stop? Video game store.
Eighth stop? Parking lot of video game store where I completely blew a gasket and considered simply walking about from my family. Why? An entire spilled Cookie Dough Blizzard in the third row. Children clamped their mouths shut, quite wisely, so while I ranted and raved, it could have been worse. For instance, the Blizzard might have spilled on carpet rather than the plastic floor mat thingy.
Ninth stop? Back home.

My husband called a bit later to let me know the funeral had ended and that he'd be home and then I could leave if I wanted. I had been under the impression that I wouldn't get a chance to get out of the house alone, so this was a delightful surprise. I practically sprinted out the front door when he arrived home.

I poked around in my favorite local discount stores and ended my evening using my lone remaining movie gift card. I saw "Failure to Launch," the Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker movie. The reviews have been dismal, but I went anyway, figuring at the very least I'd just gaze at Matthew McConaughey, who is one fine looking man.

The question is . . . would he be as fine without that accent?

And about Sarah Jessica Parker . . . she is two months younger than me. She has a son the age of my daughter. Her hair, in its natural state, is the color my hair in its natural state. But that is all we have in common. She's somehow managing to remain young and nubile, while I have two age spots on my hands. I hate her.

The Plague has passed and all that remains are random coughs and an occasional sneeze. I am thankful to be alive.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Really Random Notes

I noticed surefire, telltale signs that my children are ill.

My boys: Uncharacteristic silence, stillness, lack of noise. They don't even fight.

My daughter: Remained in one outfit (her pajamas) all day. For two days, actually.

Also, if a drug company could figure out a way to mass produce a mother's lap, they'd be rich. My daughter refuses ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but sitting in my lap seemed to soothe her pain. I am Human Pain Reliever, no danger of overdosing.

Finally, during this mornings' three hour ordeal math semester assessment, I had to fight the powerful urge to hurl a grapefruit at my Reluctant Student's head. He is lucky I possess so much self-control. And that I'm terrified by the thought of a women's correctional facility.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Oh Look! I Just Coughed Up My Spleen.

I began to dream today. I imagined driving to Costco, alone. I saw myself leaving my three film canisters at the one-hour photo counter, shopping for an hour, and then picking up my pictures before returning home.

And my dream came true! I left home at 5:30 p.m., made a bank deposit, and drove straight to Costco. I dropped off my film and wandered up and down all the aisles at Costco, idling placing stuff in my cart: lightbulbs, swimming trunks, pot roast, printer paper, romaine lettuce, twenty-four packs of Maruchan Instant Lunch, the noodles of choice for 12-year old boys, three cans (19 oz each) of Lysol spray. I shopped and shopped and shopped, surprising myself with the sheer number of essential items I picked up. Socks, batteries, cat food, corned beef . . .

Then, at 7:22 p.m., I headed to the photo counter, eager to see my pictures. I handed the man my Costco card and then opened my wallet to retrieve my debit card.

"Um, just a second," I said to the man. "I never leave home without it!"

My initial purse-search revealed a huge wad of receipts, tissues, tickets from an arcade, coupons and no debit card.

"Ha ha! Let me look. It's here somewhere."

More frantic digging. Beads of sweat spring up on my forehead. I wonder why my fleece jacket makes me so hot.

"Well. I guess I'm going to have to look some more over there. Just, uh, put that back."

Three times, I emptied out my purse, section by section. My debit card did not magically appear. I frisked myself, checking pockets.

Then I pushed my full cart around the corner and telephoned my husband and announced, "Would you like to hear about my nightmare?" Costco does not accept credit cards. I never carry a checkbook nor cash.

He suggested my mom could bring me his debit card. I said, "No, uh, wait. The last time I left the house was . . . Saturday when I went to that movie. Will you check my black jacket?" And that's where I'd left my debit card, safely zipped into the pocket of my black jacket.

The photo guy let me leave my stuff tucked into the corner of the photo station. I drove twenty minutes home, picked up my card, drove twenty minutes back to Costco and arrived in time for the door-guy to say, "You have seven minutes." Plenty of time!

The moral of this story: Never leave your debit card in your coat pocket, even if it seems like the best solution to the hands-full-of-popcorn-and-medium-Diet-Coke-at-the-movies dilemma. And yes, I did enjoy "16 Blocks" and no, I've never done this before and yes, we are feeling better, but no, I haven't stopped coughing, but yes, my daughter is giggling again and no, not on the brink of death.

Now, excuse me while I tuck my spleen back into place.

The end.

Untitled Due to Lack of Interest

When I woke up at 7:10 a.m., I thought perhaps I'd slept right through her crying. Or maybe she was dead. I jump to conclusions like that. (Do you, too?) She fell asleep in my arms last night at around 6:30 p.m. and roused a few times until finally, I put her to bed at 8 p.m. She woke up once at about 9 p.m. and while I fully expected her to wake up in the night, she did not.

She slept until 7:30 a.m.

But she woke up still complaining about her tummy ache. (No mention of ear pain.) I started to wonder when the last time was she'd . . . well, you know. Then I thought maybe she has a bowel obstruction and needed x-rays and surgery, stat! But, as the morning wore on, she padded upstairs to the bathroom and took care of business.

Later, she coughed once and winced, so her ear hurts a little, but not enough to wake her in the night.

I daresay we are going to live through the Great Plague of 2006.

* * *

Now, in other business . . . if you link to this blog and would like me to include your blog in my reciprocal blogroll, will you please email me or leave a comment? Thanks!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Plague, Continued

Did you hear me rustling around in my kitchen this morning . . . at 3:48 a.m.? Did you inhale the scent of olive oil and fresh garlic and say to yourself, My, my, that Mel is one industrious Christian woman, up before dawn to prepare Italian food! Then did you notice the pajama-clad three-year old sitting on the kitchen counter weeping?

She was weeping because her ear hurt. I'd known that since midnight, the first time she woke up, crying. I think she accepted some medicine, then. I can't remember anymore. At 3:00 a.m., I'd hurried to her room again, rocked her, put her back to bed, only to be woken at 3:48 a.m. Or had I even slept? I don't think so, because by 3:48 a.m., I had formulated a Plan of Action.

My Plan of Action included a drop or two of warm olive oil dropped in her aching ear. The garlic is dunked into the oil because of its anti-bacterial properties. I haven't had an ear infection in my house in many years, but I remembered well that the garlicky oil worked on my 8-year old when he was an infant. So, 3:48 a.m. found us in the kitchen. At 4:00 a.m., I laid her on the ground, ear up, and dropped oil into it.

She screamed, a scream worthy of Drew Barrymore.

And then she slept until 6:35 a.m. When she woke, I rocked her in her room and we both dozed until 7:48 a.m., which was horrifying because I needed to wake up my son, get him off to school, shower and be prepared to meet Baby 16-Months Old at the door. By 8:30 a.m.

My daughter's ear ached off and on throughout the day. I faked her out and put some ibuprofen in a drink for her. Then her stomach hurt the rest of the day (and still does). She went to sleep early, but woke up once already. (Her 3-year old buddy showed the first symptoms of this illness this afternoon. Am I in a horrible re-run?) I don't intend to take her to the doctor at this point. She refuses to take medicine by mouth and so a seven or ten day course of antibiotics sounds like a seven or ten day cruise through hell. Plus, studies seem to indicate that eighty percent of ear infections clear up on their own in four to seven days.

But will I survive until then? For those of you keeping score at home: Since February 10--long-lasting cold, followed by sore throat. Brief hiatus, then stomach virus. Just as the stomach virus ended, this flu/virus hit. ENOUGH! Enough. Enough!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Faith in Humanity: Restored!

The worst part about being sick is that you are desperate for extra rest . . . and you can't sleep soundly. At least I can't. And then my daughter has turned into Miss Early Riser and why? Why must she take a bath at 6:25 a.m.?

This afternoon, an email arrived from a local friend. She chit-chatted and mentioned that she dropped off a goody bag for me at the church. My husband brought it home when he delivered my son after school. This sweet woman from church created a gift bag full of cheer-me-up things like an Oprah magazine, Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, cough drops, scrapbooking paper and ribbons, scented soaps and more. Girly stuff. She called it her RAK--her Random Act of Kindness.

I call it a blessing.


Monday, March 13, 2006

The Virus Speaks (Incoherently)

I suppose the people in my church would describe me as being standoffish, aloof. The more uncharitable would say I'm stuck-up. Or maybe this is only my own projection upon the unsuspecting and dear parishioners to whom my husband devotes his days and often nights and inevitably, his weekends. No one is ever unkind to my face and only the occasional anonymous soul offers up "constructive" criticism.

Most of it is imagined on my part, if truth be told. I hear their silent words when I dress on Sunday mornings: "Why does she wear the same three outfits over and over?" and "Does she look a little bloated to you?" and "What is with that curly permed look?" [Note: The curl is real.] The real conversations I have following the services are so shallow as to be puddles as opposed to ponds: "Oh, fine. Staying busy!" (said brightly with fake smile.)

I haven't always been this guarded. Not until I learned by trial and error. As we'd arrive at a new church, one or two women would appear on my doorstep or telephone me frequently, extending a hand of friendship or the use of their washing machine before mine was functional. I'd share bits of myself, innocuous secrets about my life, candid moments freely offered. And I learned to regret it. I learned that those who approach the new pastor's wife first are those who will end up being trouble.

Given the logistics of my life at the moment--the isolation that comes with schooling at home while tending to younger children--my connections with the outside world are limited. I am unable to leave my house between 7:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., so there are no gym workouts, no lunches with friends, no errands run during daylight hours, no playgroups, no park outings, no manicures, nothing. I depend on a local friend (or two) who calls periodically, the dearer friends who email regularly, my husband's intermittent phone calls throughout the day and the connections I've made through the internet. As you can imagine, each of these arteries bring a bit of life to me, a necessary adult connection and reminder that I am a person, not just a maid who insists children do math problems and keeps the laundry to a manageable mound.

You know how a person can live with a blocked artery? Or two? I guess that's kind of how I live now, during this season of life. I used to think that if I were simply more outgoing, I would draw more people to myself, but this is less about personality and more about necessary circumstances. But that doesn't really make it easier. I simply have to endure and find a way to thrive during this demanding time of life.

When I think about how women lived in prior generations, I feel like a whiny baby. Think of how easy it is, how machines and technology and electricity have made life so much easier. Only, I wonder if life isn't any easier. Chores, perhaps. Life? Not so much. The more connected I am to modern conveniences, the less connected I feel on a human level.

Or maybe that's just the mucus crazy-talking.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow I will feel better. I hope. Because a virus must end sometime, right?

p.s. I'm not aloof. I'm just shy. Just so you know.

The Sun Shines and Yet, I Shiver

If you stand perfectly still in just the right spot outdoors, the sun feels warm. But move into the shadows just a bit and the chill cancels out the sun's warmth. That's spring here in the Pacific Northwest. The crocuses bloom, the green shoots of the tulips inch taller each day and the weeds grow. A week or two ago on a foggy morning, I looked out my back window to see
robins hopping along the grass, pulling worms from the ground. I glanced to the tree and counted twenty-one birds huddling in the damp branches, like Christmas ornaments evenly distributed among the branches.

And while I long for spring, I long even more for an end to the Plague which has overtaken our household. In the first part of February, I had a lingering cold for two weeks, following by a sore throat. On February 25, a stomach virus began a rampage through our family. In a family of six, an illness moves from person to person with the precision, though not the speed, of dominoes falling. It ended just in time for a flu bug (sudden onset, chills, fever, coughs/sneezing, headache) to settle in on March 4. My 8-year old was sick for an entire week and still hasn't regained his appetite nor his strength.

Last Wednesday night, my daughter became suddenly sick. She's still complaining of stomach pain and has a stuffy nose. Saturday night, the illness I had been denying (I told my husband I was NOT going to get sick, no way, no how, ha!), caught up with me and I spent much of Sunday semi-conscious, my whining daughter by my side, dozing. My twins came down with the bug, too, and have been preternaturally quiet. (The one benefit of having ill children.) Today, I am upright, but coughing my head off and working my way through the tissue box. At least the fever ended.

So, I don't even care if the seasons change. I just want everyone in my house to be healthy at the same time. For six months, bare minimum.

* * *

Now, in more important news: Tonight is "24." Last week, I settled in at 9:00 p.m. to watch the latest installment of "24," . . . and wondered how Jack got that bad guy (Henderson?) in the car. Last I knew, Henderson tried to blow up (invincible) Jack. (When will they learn, those bad guys? Jack cannot be destroyed.) It was halfway through the episode when I realized I MISSED THE FIRST HOUR, the extra hour they tacked on before the regular time of 9 p.m.

Drat and double drat. I hate it when that happens.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cryptic and True, All at the Same Time

When my husband is driving and I am the passenger, he is forever reminding me that men have superior depth perception. Especially compared to me. He heard that fact one time and our experiences in motor vehicles seem to back up this idea. I'll be stomping the imaginary brakes and clutching the arm rests while he's still accelerating, even though a parade of brake lights shine in front of us. He'll say, "Relax!" which has never made me relax, not one time, not since the first time he said it to me nineteen years ago.

The other day, I was idly chatting on the phone with my neighbor, the one whose house was hit by a falling tree a few weeks ago. She'd called to let me know her sick son wouldn't be going to school. (We carpool.) My son wasn't going either--he missed the whole week due to this flu bug--and then we wandered from topic to topic. I washed dishes while we talked and then stood and gazed out my back window.

Over my back fence is a new development of houses and on the other side of that little development is a sporadic row of trees, tall, spindly Douglas Firs with clumpy branches at the tops of long trunks. They look kind of like feather dusters and during windy days, I liked to watch them sway back and forth.

As you imagine, when we had the wind storm, those feather duster trees whipped back and forth and some of the tops snapped clean off. In recent days, I've noticed gaps in the line of trees. And then, that morning, I saw that in that particular stand of Douglas Firs, only one remained.

As I watched that morning, phone to my ear, that tree began to wiggle and then it began to fall. I hollered into my unsuspecting friend's ear, "OH MY GOSH! THAT TREE IS FALLING! IT'S GOING TO HIT THAT HOUSE!" She has no idea what I was talking about, but having been the recent victim of a falling tree herself, was appropriately panicked.

And then the tree fell, missing the house completely.

It's all about depth perception. And how mine is wacky. I always sense danger when danger is not within arm's reach. As you can imagine, this makes me jumpy and suspicious.

But "jumpy" and "suspicious" are pejorative words. I prefer to think of myself as aware and discerning. For each negative, there's a positive, right? And, if you are negative, you must admit that for every positive there's a negative. Maybe that's just me.

As I pick my way through the maze of life, occasionally bumping into dead ends and circling in cul-de-sacs going nowhere, I sometimes open a door and come face to face with a sneering, leering crowd who holds up a distorted mirror, reflecting back a warped image of myself.

And so I do what any jumpy and suspicious aware and discerning girl would do. I already know what I look like--I am obsessively aware of my true self and how I really am when I'm in the dark--and I refuse to play along with a fun-house mirror game in which I am psychoanalyzed by the clowns. My faults are grievous enough as it is. So, I slam the door closed, deadbolt it, build a brick wall in front it, drag a heavy chest in front of the wall and carry on.

No looping back for me. No changing my mind and turning back. No way for them to get in and no way for me to waver. And once that door is barricaded, it's like the fate of those drug tunnels that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sometimes find burrowing under the border between Mexico or Canada and the U.S. Even though the tunnels are engineering marvels, testimony to the dedication and determination of their creators, the DEA officials unapologetically fill them with concrete.

I've filled in the tunnels with concrete. I go forward. I won't look back.

The weird thing is that I thought they were closer than they really were. My depth perception fails me again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Grandma is One Hundred Years Old

The strangest thing about writing daily in a blog like this is that most people I know in real life have no idea that I do this. It's odd because blogging is such a mainstay in my life, yet I don't talk about it to relatives or local friends.

So, to the forty relatives I saw tonight at Grandma's birthday dinner: "I write in a blog every day." Ha.

My husband had to stay home (secretly he was happy to miss a family event) with our two sick kids. I took my twins and they had a great time playing with their distant cousins. The dinner was at a church facility which was set up for youth in one room--so there was an arcade basketball game, a pool table, video games, etc.

My grandma looked tiny and fragile in her hot pink jacket and permed white hair. But I sat close to her and we had a little private conversation. Her mind is completely intact and I suppose she feels twenty-two inside, just like I do. I was happy to be the one to fill her coffee cup.

So many cameras were flashing that I asked my grandma if she felt like a movie star and she answered quite seriously, "Well, I wouldn't know." I doubt she could even name one movie star. I doubt she's ever seen a movie. She's from a different era, a time when good Christian women wouldn't dream of setting foot in a movie theater. She is aghast when my mother goes shopping on Sundays.

My grandmother raised six children in the '30s and '40s. The Great Depression affected them very little since they had so little anyway. My grandfather was a preacher and devoted to his calling and my grandmother supported him without complaint every day of their sixty-one years of marriage. (He died on their sixty-first anniversary.) My most enduring memory of them together happened when I stayed with them one week when I was about eight. I peeked out of my bedroom just in time to see them standing in the kitchen in a long embrace. I had never seen my own parents embrace.

For a child who grew up in a divorced household, this steadfast display of affection and love offered hope for my own future. My grandparents are the finest example of Christian living that I know. My grandmother, even at one hundred years of age, continues to pray for me by name every day of my life. She cannot see. She can barely walk. She lives alone in a tidy little house with a garden planted with primroses in a neighborhood sliding into disrepair. But she prays and listens to the Bible on CDs almost continuously.

I've always felt like her favorite granddaughter, though she has dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Shhhh, don't tell my cousins. Grandma loves me best.

True Confession

I have a Mean Streak. I do. I know I shouldn't say that out loud, especially where people can (and probably will) use my own words as ammunition, but I say it anyway.


This explains why I laugh at "American's Funniest Videos" when someone falls down. This explains why I smirk at the baby's screams when I am a little slow getting the bottle to her imploring hands. This explains why I like to watch the first shows of "American Idol" more than the last shows. My Mean Streak.

I suppose a more theologically astute (and pretentious) person might point out that a Mean Streak is kind of like a Sin Nature. I have one. You have one, too, but you probably don't want to admit it. I don't like to admit it, either. It's best to just keep the Mean Streak hidden, to pretend it's not there.

My Mean Streak thinks terrible thoughts sometimes. My Mean Streak shines the spotlight of judgment on stupid people and judges them for their stupidity. My Mean Streak shrugs off the gentle hand of Benefit of the Doubt and would prefer to tell it like it is, according to me, of course.

I carry a mental gag in my pocket at all times, so I can shut up the Mean Streak's mouth before I do any damage. My Mean Streak is muffled. Mostly. I don't say out loud the worst of what I think.

But, oh! Some times I can hardly contain myself! I cannot understand non-thinkers. I don't get why people are not interested in reading. Why doesn't everyone want to figure out their own personality, their angst, their development? How is it that some people are not interested in understanding people?

Why are people so stupid? And why does it bother me so much? Why do people make such devastatingly stupid choices? And why should I care?

Some days, my Mean Streak won't stop squawking and on those days, it's best to just shut up. If only I had an Isolation Chamber where I could hide before my Main Streak lands a punch squarely on the face of the nearest knucklehead.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

From The Infirmary

Her: That's too bright for my eyes. My head hurts. I'm so sick!
Me: I know. Do you want some medicine?
Her, wailing: Noooooo!
Me: You'll feel better. Just a tiny bit? Please?
Her: No! I want to be sick! I want my head to hurt!

And that sums up the day. She woke at 12:30 a.m. and at 5:00 a.m. (Oh wait. I think I already said this.) After accepting a dose of ibuprofen at 7:00 a.m., she has refused all medication, so once the pain relief wore off around noon, she's been miserable. All she wanted was for me to hold her in the "big green chair," and if it weren't for the 9-month old who is determined to stick her fingers in the electrical sockets and her hand into the DVD player and the 15-month old who slept only one hour instead of two and the 3 and a half year old who needed snacks and the 12-year olds who needed my assistance with math, history, and science and, of course, the still-sick 8-year old, I could have held her all day.

My own head began to ache late this afternoon, but that could just be sleep deprivation talking. Even if I don't come down with this illness, I'm not sure I can leave my baby girl while she is so ill. And yet, my grandmother is turning 100! And my relatives will all be assembled from across the country. Sigh.

Now, for a completely unrelated matter. I have just started reading Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. I have long admired Jane Smiley's skill and talent as a novelist. I adored A Thousand Acres, her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, though the story was devastating. I've read nearly all her novels (but not The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton--I own it, but haven't read it yet).

The only complaint I have so far (three or four chapters in) is that the hardback book is so huge that my hands literally fall asleep while I hold it and read. The perils of reading!

I just finished Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, another Christian "romance" novel. In this novel, as in the last Christian inspirational novel I read (A Family Forever, by Brenda Coulter), the male protagonist wooed the obstinate and clueless (stupid?) female protagonist. Perhaps the plot similarities were not all that similar, but in both books, I found myself exceedingly annoyed by the women's behavior. Are all Christian romance novels populated by women who are too dim to notice the stellar male character who offers them True Love? Or is it just that I happened to read two in a row? (I rarely read so-called Christian fiction.)

I think this is why I shy away from romance novels. I spend the whole book being frustrated and annoyed by the characters--which I know, I know--the story must have conflict and obstacles and all that, but I have little patience for all that nonsense.

I just sneezed. I hope that's not a bad sign.

What Were You Doing 35 Years Ago?

Thirty-five years ago, I was in kindergarten. I remember almost nothing of that school year. I went half the year to one school, then we moved and I went half a year to another. I don't even remember my teachers' names.

Little did I know that on this very day, thirty-five years later, Gina would be born. What a great addition she is to the planet earth. Will you go and tell her happy birthday? She writes a witty and often hilarious blog.

* * *

Plague Update:

Son slept all night.

Daughter woke at 12:30 a.m. Fever subsided, but she needed to pee. I rocked her a few minutes and put her back to bed. She slept until 5:00 a.m. and insisted on getting up to watch a video. Fine. I let her and went back to bed, where she soon joined me. She never slept again and I may have lost consciousness or maybe not. It's hard to say. She began to cry about her legs hurting and her head hurting at about the time I had to get up at 6:30 a.m., so I convinced her to drink a little medicine. Boy, she hates that!

Here's what I learned from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website:

Incubation period for the flu, 1-4 days.
Spread by droplets in coughs and sneezes and also by transference (touching something with droplets on it).
Fever can last 3-4 days.
Fatigue/exhaustion can last 2-3 weeks.
Ill person is contagious a day before symptoms show and a full five days after the first symptoms.

She's licking a sucker now, sneezing and chatting with her buddy who just arrived, which is confusing to me after last night's delirious fever. I'm still diagnosing this as "flu" rather than "cold," however, because of the sudden onset and severe headache.

Oh, and it snowed last night, just a dusting.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This Calls for the Pirate Yell: ARRRRGH!

My 8-year old son hasn't been to school since the nurse sent him home on Monday morning. He's hardly eaten a thing and looks noticeably thinner, but today, he perked up a bit. He laughed at cartoons and played his Nintendo DS and ate a little. I thought tomorrow he'd go back to school.

My 3-year old suddenly grew whiny this evening. She was playing Candyland with her daddy when she complained that her legs hurt. She quit the game and had her evening bath. When she came out of the bath, she was shivering and crying. My husband kept saying, "I think she's sick," and I didn't want to believe it, but by 7:00 p.m., she wanted to go to bed. She cried and said she was cold. She felt warm. I covered her up and turned off her light.

At 8:00 p.m., my son finished his bath and from our room, we heard him crying. I rushed to him and found him shivering. "I'm so cold!" he cried. I dried him off and dressed him in pajamas while he asked to go to the hospital. He described feeling weird and cold and pain in his muscles. I brought him medicine and covered him in four blankets. He looked up at me, his green eyes shining with tears and said, "Mom, if it gets any worse than this, I want an ambulance."

At 9:00 p.m., screams startled me. I hurried upstairs to find my daughter shrieking and burning hot. She'd had a bad dream (the t.v. was going up and down in her dream, how horrific!). I attempted to coerce her into swallowing one teaspoon of ibuprofen, which she promptly dribbled out of her wide-open-screaming mouth. At which point, I, Miss Florence Nightingale, hollered and scolded while she shook and cried.

Then I washed us off and carried her downstairs, where we tried again. This time, she cooperated, even though her hand trembled and tears ran down her face. We rocked for a while and then she told me she was tired and so I took her back to her room, where we rocked again. Then, to bed.

I have now been sitting anxiously, wondering if I hear a child crying somewhere. I telephoned the mother of the baby I watch to let her know we seem to have the flu. They've already been exposed, all three of the kids I watch, so I'm not sure what to do now but carry on.

Arrrrrgh! That's my hearty pirate yell, which I reserve for situations such as this which leave me with nothing to do but yell. My grandmother's 100th birthday is Friday. We're supposed to attend a huge family dinner (a reunion, really)in her honor that night. Clearly, we can't go if we are contagious with the flu, because it simply wouldn't do to have anyone ask: "And what did you give your grandmother upon the occasion of her one hundredth birthday?" because then, I'd have to say, "The flu," and how rude would that be?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ten Ways I Annoy My Husband (Without Really Trying)

1) I have purchased exactly one plunger, which may or may not be located near the toilet currently overflowing. (We have three toilets, one plunger, a 3:1 ratio, obviously not efficient.)

2) I leave wads of crumpled used tissues on my bedside table. What can I say? I have allergies.

3) At least once a month, eager for an evening snack, he pours cereal in a bowl, opens the fridge and finds . . . no milk. This is highly disappointing to him.

4) I leave shoes out, under the dresser, near the bed, wherever. I can't be bothered.

5) I insist on doing things My Way (aka The Right Way), things like loading the dishwasher and packing correctly for trips.

6) I turn down corners of the magazines he leaves in the bathroom so I can pick up where I left off.

7) Clutter.

8) I mock his heritage by using an improbably bad Southern accent.

9) I talk to him during "important" portions of shows he's trying to watch.

10) I don't get out of bed when the alarm rings. I'm a three-hits-to-the-snooze-button kind of girl.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lights Out

The school nurse called me this morning at 10:18 a.m., to inform me that my son was in her office with a temperature of 100.8, a cough, and a headache and would I please pick him up?

You'd think I'd sent him to school with the Bubonic Plague. It was a just headache treated by ibuprofen when I sent him at 9 a.m.--and he wanted to go to school! He just didn't think he could handle recess, so he ended up being sent to the office where the nurse got him.

He's still ill with what seems to be a virus, though for five minutes this afternoon I was absolutely convinced it was probably meningitis, the only question being: viral or bacterial and would he lose his limbs?

I thought tonight for a second, "I just can't do this," and then I had this whole conversation in my head about how you don't really get a choice about continuing your current direction when you are in the midst of life. Not if you have kids, anyway, and common sense. And summer will eventually arrive, right? Summer means no more school lessons and the possibility that I will catch up on my laundry.

Why do all the light bulbs burn out at the same time? I have no overhead light in my family room, no light in my laundry room and no exterior lights in two of my light fixtures. And no bulbs because I am just not that good at being a homemaker.

Last week, someone from church called exactly at 6:00 p.m. and said, "Oh, wait, did I catch you at dinnertime?" and I said, without pause, "No, but you would have if I were a better mother." She laughed, but I was not joking.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Post Academy Awards Show Blog

I know. I didn't post for two whole days, which in dog years is uh, two weeks? That annoying thing keeps happening where a thought pops into my head and I think, A-ha! I must blog that! And then the thought dissolves like the bubbles in my kitchen sink just when I'm ready to wash a frying pan.

(Speaking of thought bubbles, twice today at church, I scolded my 12-year old son who was holding a piece of paper up above his head. You can imagine how distracting it would be to sit behind a boy with a paper sign hovering over his head. When I peered closely, I saw he'd drawn thought bubbles and a profound thought: "Mooo!")

[I have to say: I told you so! Only, I probably forgot to actually tell you so, but I did predict that "Crash" would win for Best Picture (and it did) and that Reese Witherspoon would win for Best Actress (and she did) and that Philip Seymour Hoffman would win for Best Actor (and he did). I rock.

Oh, and how about Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell's presentation for Best Achievement in Make-up? That presentation was rivalled only by Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin.]

Okay. Back to the post. Oh, first I have to say that the best way to watch The Academy Award show is to video tape it (unless you are lucky and have TiVo, in which case I loathe you because my jealousy has no rational outlet). If you tape it, you can fast-forward through the speeches, the montages, the tributes and just watch the presentations and the monologue. (Oh, and how funny was that opening?!)

What I wouldn't give for a coherent, creative thought about now. Um . . . so . . . today was church but we had no lights in the sanctuary because last night, when some of the guys were at the church doing something or another, they smelled smoke. Smoke emanated from the breaker box when all the lights were on. So, no lights today. And the sanctuary smelled like smoke. My husband was a little stressed out about this, but I gave him some clever lines to use like this: (wait until the middle of the sermon and then pause and say) "Is it just me or am I ON FIRE today?" Or maybe point out Big Al, one of his close friends and say, "I don't know about you, but Big Al is SMOKIN'!" Or even, "Repent, for even now, I smell the burning fires of hell!"

Oh wait. Was that sacrilegious? Okay, let's move on.

I drove our new "old" van, the one nearly as old as my marriage yesterday. The interior is quite lovely, though the exterior shows minor lumps and bumps and flaking paint if you look closely. Kind of like me, I guess. Maybe that's why I like it so well. (But we didn't name it. We don't name cars. Do you? Maybe we could name it "Daisy," and then I could say, "Hey, I'm Driving Miss Daisy!" (Did you get that Oscar reference? Huh? Didja? See? I have a theme in this here blog.) I drove from going-out-of-business craft store to consignment store to thrift store to discount store to second craft store to Bed Bath & Beyond before finally drifting home.

The weather had been exquisite all day and I wanted to just pick up the kids and hurry them down to the beach, but first, we needed dinner. And then the sun slipped below the horizon and then my husband said, "Tomorrow," and I agreed. But today ("tomorrow") it rained and this afternoon, my 8-year old son cradled his head in pain and cried. Another illness?! (After his bath tonight, he declared this, "The WORST BIRTHDAY WEEK EVER!" I distracted him with a tale of a boy I once knew who was so sick on Halloween he couldn't go trick-or-treating. Because really, what is more soothing that comparing yourself to someone worse off than you?)

My grandmother turns one hundred years old on Friday. And you know what that means, don't you? That's right! A mini-family reunion. She had six children and five of them are still alive. I have dozens of first cousins and we've all done our part to procreate. (Well, most of us have, anyway.) We'll gather from around the country for a catered dinner in her honor and I will obsess all week about dressing to slim and about whether to call my colorist for emergency highlights and debating the merits of robbing a bank to hire a plastic surgeon to remove this double chin.

And I console myself this way: I say to myself, "Self, probably Grandma will live at least another six months and by then, you can be to your perfect size, just in time for The Relatives to see you again!" And then I remind myself that I am not fifteen and the world does not revolve around me and that people will not be noticing my appearance as much as I notice my appearance. That's what I've learned in the past twenty-five years.

It would help if I weren't related to the skinniest cousins imaginable--seriously, my cousin is tiny and wears a loose size 2 and my cousin, her brother, is Ichabod Crane-ish, and his wife, a girl who lived on my wing in college, is also slim and has never appeared in public without her perfectly applied lipstick and her oh-so-cool Southern composure.

But I can write. See how I comfort myself?

In other news . . . hello March? The daffodils around town are blooming. My crocuses are a happy little enclave of pure white, gold and purple, merrily coloring the drab flowerbed. They are tucked right behind the basketball hoop and seem hopelessly misplaced, but the basketball hoop was a recent addition, haphazardly introduced to the backyard by two men with no thoughts of Feng Shui or aesthetics of beautiful English gardens full of perennials. (As if!)

This is the time of year that I wish I'd planted more daffodils and I am full of regret. That is some kind of metaphor for life, isn't it? You just have to plan ahead and be patient . . . and actually put the bulbs in the ground instead of just dream.

With that thought, I will wrap this up. But first, one final thought. About George Clooney.

Dear George, (May I call you "George"?)

I want to hate you. You are a cad. You are everything a thinking young woman should despise--your cocky attitude, your inability to commit, your failure to demonstrate your competence at marriage. You own a pig, for goodness' sake, a pet pig! Your politics are liberal, you have that smirk, your belief in yourself bordering on narcissistic, and yet . . . I can't help but think you are the Epitome of a Movie Star and tomorrow I'm going to buy a poster of you and put it on my bedroom wall. I don't think my Republican husband will mind at all.

Oh, and congratulations on winning Best Supporting Actor.

Hugs and Kisses,

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Open Letter to Swiffer

Dear Swiffer:

I want to love you, Swiffer. I do. I like your convenience. I like your fresh, fake scent. I like the disposable nature of your cleaning pads.

But Swiffer, we do not see eye to eye. Why, you ask? Well, because, Swiffer, you are too short.

I'm taller than the average American woman, true. I stand five feet, seven inches tall, while the average American woman is only five feet, four inches tall. When I use you, Swiffer, I must bend at an awkward angle, an angle that screams, "CALL THE CHIROPRACTOR!" I don't have the heart to tell my lower back that I don't have a chiropractor.

What I need is a longer Swiffer, a sturdier Swiffer, a Swiffer who can rise to the occasion. Please. I want to love you! I want to devote myself to you! But you make it difficult.

So, please, grow up a little. Grow a spine. Grow taller. Get some hair on your chest. (Oh, wait, I'm drifting off topic now.) I'm just saying that if you want me to cherish you, you have to do your part.

(I won't even mention how sexist it is that Swiffer is completely aimed at a woman consumer. An average American man at five feet, nine inches tall would cry out from back pain like a baby girl if he attempted to vigorously scrub the kitchen floor with your woefully inadequate too-short handle.)

Please, please answer my pleas. My back begs you. Don't make me go back to an old-fashioned mop.

Love and kissesSincerely,

Integrating the Sacred and the Secular

When I was a child, my mother ordered us to turn the channel when Donnie Osmond sang "And I'm a little bit rock'n'roll!" For rock and roll music was sin. So was dancing, even square-dancing, drinking alcohol, swearing, smoking, mini-skirts, hip-huggers and shopping on Sundays.

As I grew up and attended Bible College, life seemed to be neatly divided into two categories: Sacred and Secular. Christian music? Good. Secular music? Bad. Christian books? Good. Secular books? Bad. Dancing in the Spirit? Good. Dancing at a bar? Bad.

My four years at Bible College (where women were required to wear dresses to class, even on snowy days) brought out the cynic in me. I heard enough rambling sermons to last me a lifetime and I saw enough hypocrisy to turn my heart to stone. I'm lucky I escaped with my faith intact, because I definitely needed it later when I traveled the rocky paths of infertility, cancer, death, loss, heartbreak--in other words, Real Life.

The idea that life should be lined up in separate categories crumbled, bit by bit, until finally, I came to understand that I would live my life without a division between the sacred and the secular. Good music is good music, whether or not it includes the lyrics "Jesus died on the cross," or not. Fantastic art is simply fantastic art. A walk through a still forest, glimpsing trilliums in bloom is as sacred as a moment in a stained-glass church.

Just tonight, I came across a book by Steve Turner called Imagine: A Vision For Christians in the Arts, which discusses this very idea. I can't wait to read it, if the sample first page on Amazon and the comments are good indications of the quality of the rest of the book.

So, when I see a particular well-known blogger announcing that she is partitioning her blog into two separate blogs, one for Christians and one for non-Christians, I just shake my head. Maybe that's because I don't write for Christians. I don't even write for non-Christians. I just write for people. I'm not a Christian blogger and this isn't a Christian blog. I'm a blogger who is a Christian. I don't divide my life--or my blog--into partitions. (I even avoided associating myself with Christian bloggers when I began this blog for fear that I would be boxed in by other people's expectations. I just wanted to write. I didn't want to write a Pastor's Wife's Blog.)

Hey, I'm no apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, but I do know this: Taking care of my kids is my spiritual worship. Writing well is my spiritual worship. Singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" in church is my spiritual worship. So is washing the laundry and walking on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Whatever I do, if I do it well and with acknowledgement of the Creator, that is worship.

My integration of the sacred and secular is incomplete, because I am in progress, learning as I go. Each believer certainly has to find his or her own way, embracing some things and rejecting others. But building walls around our lives, pulling up the drawbridges and digging moats can't be what Jesus intended for us to do. He came to bring us life, not fear and judgment. (And furthermore, when anyone assumes I'm not bright enough to be able to distinguish the differences between sects, cults and even different denominations, that annoys me. I wonder if it annoys Jesus, too?)

Well, while I'm at it, writing this atypical post which has nothing to do with grocery shopping (I purchased twenty bags full of groceries at 10:45 p.m. tonight!) or laundry (currently backed up), I will also comment on this post at Internet Monk. He talks about another blogger, this guy who announced he would no longer call himself a "Christian, an idea he bandied about here.

I just have one word for that guy: SEMANTICS! Quit fussing about how the label "Christian" might taint your testimony or make you look and go feed the hungry, visit a prisoner, share with the poor, listen to a lonely widow, serve someone who doesn't deserve it and then get back to me. I'm guessing that by then you might be too tired and too peaceful to worry about what someone might think if you accept the descriptive label "Christian."

(If I continue to roll my eyes that far back in my head, they might stay that way, so if you see a 41-year old woman at Albertsons with only the bloodshot whites of her eyes showing, say hello. That would be me.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It Was Tuesday Just a Second Ago

Pretend it's not actually 12:05 a.m. That way I can talk about what happened five years ago today and we can all agree that I mean Tuesday, February 28.

Do you know what happened five years ago today? Anyone? Anyone?

That's right! The Nisqually Earthquake, magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale shook our house and caused me to run upstairs to my son, instead of crawling under a sturdy piece of furniture as I suppose I should have. My son, then barely three years old, had been playing "Yoshi" on Nintendo 64 and frankly, couldn't have cared less about the shaking of our house. I felt like I was in a snowglobe and not in a good way.

But nothing broke and that crack in the ceiling? We ignore it. Perhaps it was there before, right? Normal house settling and all.

Also, today is Fat Tuesday (as well call it in Seattle) or Mardi Gras. Last hurrah before Lent and everything. I did not grow up around the Lenten traditions and the first time I saw ash smudged on foreheads when I was a new bride living in New Haven, Connecticut, I eyed people curiously. Growing up in a Pentecostal tradition means you lack liturgical observances. Sure, people would hoop and holler in church and once, I saw a group of people trying to cast a demon out of a girl who was simply having an epileptic seizure, but no one ever mentioned Lent. Or Ash Wednedsay. (Or Fat Tuesday, of course, because everyone knows that drinking alcohol is a sin if you are a Pentecostal Christian, at least it was in the old days.)

So I enter the season of Lent without any preparation or plans. I regret that, too. I wish my life were more measured and solemn and observant. And I wish I got out of the house alone more often and I wish I had more Diet Coke with Lime and I wish it were not so late. I wish I were not so distracted and I wish I hadn't waited until the last minute to do my little writing assignment because I missed watching the last half of "American Idol." I wish I knew what to make for dinner tomorrow and I wish the taxes were already done.

And just because I want to make a note of it, I have to tell you that my husband and I were laughing over the fact that four cars sit in our driveway tonight. The one that drives the best doesn't even belong to us and it has over 250,000 miles on it. That says something, doesn't it?

Yes, it does. It says "L-O-S-E-R-S."

[But at least we don't have a baby rat in our house. Read this and laugh!]
Parents Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

Listed on BlogShares