Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tough Luck

This morning I rotated the laundry, dumping a big, warm load of towels on the couch. As I did, I had the urge to burrow underneath.

And stay there.

Today is a fleecy jammies, hot chocolate, good book day. Well, it should be. I forced myself into the bower (Abby's coined term for a bath/shower), got dressed & ran 4 quick errands: deposit hubby's paycheck, drop letters at post office, return 2 library books, put a couple of sheckels in the gas tank.

I thought myself pretty lucky when the motorcycle police officer pulled over the car right in front of me. My luck only lasted about a half a mile to the gas station, where I ran out of gas. Before I got in the driveway. I tried and tried, and despite the moral support of the honking behind me, I just couldn't will the car to re-start and make it to the pump. Luckily, a guy filling his car was watching and ran to my aid when I flagged him over, and another one came to help, too. Lucky, because we were pushing the blasted thing uphill.

Ya' know in movies when an apparition or ghost appears, then as it leaves it gets all misty and dissipates into the air? Well, I envision my luck to have done that same sort of thing. Those two, wonderful, helpful, thoughtful good Samaritans (Lord bless them!) got me pushed up to the gas pump and I grabbed my purse. No debit card. I emptied the umbrella, sunglasses, planner, receipts and all of the miscellaneous cards that Cora recently 'reorganized' and that are currently wandering willy-nilly in the expanses of my bag. Still no debit card.

Before the last smoky wisp of luck blew away, I scraped together a dollar bill and eight quarters, put a single gallon of gas in my tank and went directly home. I think that I'll stay right here, because I've used up all my luck for the day. Now where's that load of towels?

(Author's note: I put no merit at all in luck, and am counting my blessings for the many little parts of my morning that could have been way, way worse!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pupas, tadpoles and a Mother Hen

Recently I told my husband that I remember standing in front of the mirror and practicing my smile when I was a kid. I think that we had a family portrait coming up or something, or maybe it was school pictures. I don't remember. But what I do recall so clearly is that feeling of not knowing what my REAL smile was.

I smiled with teeth, grinned broadly but closed-lipped, curved the corners of my mouth into subtle upward curves, threw cheeseball smiles...you named it and I tried it on for size. When all was said and done, I felt a little...worried? nervous? that none of them felt good on me.

Dorky, I know.

But in retrospect, I realize that as I left Little-Kidhood and entered Bigger-But-Still-Little-In-Some-Ways Limbo Land, I was searching for my identity. Not my parents' identities, not who people had always described me as or expected me to be, but ME. The me that had been a seed and was just starting to sprout and take shape. Far from 'teen' and not yet 'pre-teen,' I was still making--and noticing--changes that were unfamiliar and unsettling.

Of course, Riah laughed at me. I would expect nothing less. Not "you're so stupid" laughing, but "I bet you were so cute" and "that's pretty amusing" laughing.

As I told him about it, I reflected that Abby's about the same age. And in the same boat. It's simultaneously fun and painful to watch.

It's great to see her develop her skills and interests. She likes reading and loves science. Butterflies, rocks, the solar system...whatever they're doing in class, she's completely into it at home. She's not yet aware that boys exist for any other purpose than to be a friend or a tormentor, and this previously boy-crazy mother is immensely grateful.

(This is one of my favorite pics of her. She's 2.)

But she's taken to belching. And laughing about it, even when I affix her with my most serious look. You know the look. The one that's supposed to cause your insides to shrink? Yeah, she giggles. Dangit.

She's pretty self-conscious, and I hate it. She comes by it naturally, but still it kills me to look back on my own life and see so many opportunities I missed just because I was too scared to try, then look at my own daughter and see her make the same stupid decisions! For Pete's sake, child, if you want it, GET IT! And don't think about what other people think because THEY DON'T CARE!!! They're too busy thinking that you care about what they do! But no. She shies.

inhale, exhale

Sometimes she's just about the most irresponsible person around, but other times she'll change Cora's clothes so that her dress doesn't get dirty, buckle her into her high chair, put on the bib, click the tray into place and slice a banana because the soup's not cool yet. (I make sure that I praise those moments. A lot.)

Her sense of style is developing, as well. So is her need to shop. I can't tell you how many times we've gone somewhere and she's begging for shoes to go with the dress. Or a necklace. Or a headband that's exactly the same color. One day, when we are made of money, I look forward to teaching her how to make it stretch and find just the right accessory. Her style certainly isn't honed. Today she wore to church a beautiful, silky, fuschia and chocolate dress with pink ballet flats. Looked great! Until she added frumpy, brown cotton leggings with stripes & multicolored flowers. Ah well. We're getting there.

And at bedtime when she was supposed to be getting into jammies, I couldn't get her out of my heels! It would seem that my brown boots are her favorite, as she tried to wear them around the house.

I've got an up-and-coming shoe diva on my hands, I think.

As nervous and uncertain as she is, I think that I'm meeting her on each emotion. The next handful of years are absolutely crucial to her end result. When she's an adult, will she exude confidence and poise or be the girl that always dates controlling, abusive creeps? Will she want to emulate her parents' example or write a book? I have such an influence that in so many ways I could unintentionally go very, very wrong. One of the hazards of being the eldest is that your life is a series of experiments. She's a guinea pig.

I think my solution is Girl Time. At the current time, she likes me. If possible, she'd run every errand with me and while we were out, we'd stop for ice cream or call a friend and go get hot chocolate. If I could stop time and do nothing but crafts, puzzles and outings with her, she'd be thrilled. We'd be fat, but we'd have great memories. Last night I was out and she went to return a couple of movies with the estrogen half of the husband/wife duo that watched the kids. She commented that she really liked Girl Time because sometimes she "...just needed to get away from the crazy boys."

And I fully intend to do what I can to make sure that we always have good Girl Time. That way, I can be there as she figures out which smile fits her.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Bad News: my old comfy jeans have bitten the dust.

Good News: Value Village $0.99 Monday, Baby!

Bad News: the 'new' ones have a waist that is too big & they keep falling down.

Good News: not too tight, not too loose everywhere else--and they're a petite length!! (Who designs these things, anyway? If my gut's gonna' fit them, you'd better believe my booty & legs won't!)

Bad News: I can't find my belt.

Good News: I found a good one that fits and is in good shape.

Bad News: It's my husband's.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To Lee

Dear Lee,

You turned 4 today.

And it was a big deal. When you woke up this morning, you stated that you felt bigger. Then you very politely asked me to "move out the way" so you could go downstairs to eat "bressfist." The only thing on your mind was your birthday cereal, the choco-peanut-buttery crunchy goodness that you chose yesterday.

You were stunned and awed with the balloons and crepe paper streamers in the dining room...just the reaction that I hoped for.

Dad made you a green smoothie topped with green sprinkles, then added your name in green icing. It was really, really cool, but due to the cereal plus the eggs & hash browns that Dad also made for you, you didn't drink it. Eventually Cora did, and she enjoyed every last drop.

At preschool you had St. Patrick's Day treats and your teacher made you a crown, which you wore proudly!

When the mail came, there were three cards for you. Watching you open them was so much fun. Each tear of the envelope ignited the air with excitement. One had a chimp holding a gift, so you said, "And I get to open a present!" Very funny. Grandma & Grandpa P and B each sent a crisp 5-dollar bill, which was thrilling. You have no idea what exactly it means, but you do know that it's pretty cool.

Just because it's your birthday doesn't mean that you were immune from punishment. You still had some wall time when you punched Alex as hard as you could right in the eye. Even though he said something rudely, you may not punch.

After you blew out the candles, you loved the cars from your siblings, the SpiderMan "fishing pool" from Nick & Grammie and the SpiderMan shoes from Dad and me. (Every time we passed a body of water last weekend, you asked, "Mom, is that where fish are?") When you put your jammies on, you pointed out that they're SpiderMan just like your "fishing pool" and your coat and your shoes. You're so smart!

Your day ended with a 'just for Lee' story. I can still feel your warm ear against my jaw and your arm curled snugly around my neck. On every page you had something to say, explain, ask or point out. Sometimes it was just something silly that you noticed.

Lee, you drive me bonkers. You laugh at discipline, run when you're in trouble, knock your sister down, chase your older siblings, bite chunks out of my produce, scream and cry if I leave without you blowing me kisses, have more energy than will fit into your little body and keep me running (and hollering) all day.

And you mean more to me than life itself. You make my world turn in crazy, kaddywompus ways. Thanks for the ride. It's been a great 4 years. I look forward to another 104 with you.

I love you, ya' crazy monkey!


Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Make a Bed

There are a few things that you must know about my mother-in-law:
1--she is one of the most generous people I know.
2--she loves to shop.
3--it's important to her that her guests are comfortable.

When we visit, we invariably stay up too late. Who doesn't when they chat with rarely-seen family? At the very end of the day, retreating is a treat. I can't decide if climbing into her guest bed is like wrapping up in warm, well-risen bread dough (though significantly less sticky), lying down on an oversized pile of cottonwood snow (minus the itching and sneezing) or if it feels more like Zeus going to sleep in Fantasia, disappearing as he pulls a corner of his thundercloud over himself. Either way, it's a welcome relief. As I was making the beds before we left this last weekend, I discovered her secret, and I'll pass it along to you:

Ingredients for a Comfy Bed:
1--a good mattress.
2--allergen-protective cover
3--padded mattress cover
4--high-quality matching sheet set
5--knit blanket
6--another knit blanket, doubled over
7--add a third for good measure, doubled over
8--for loft, spread a vellux blanket
(8a--if on the queen sized bed, replace two of the blankets with a thick down comforter)
9--cute bedspread
10--fluffy pillow in coordinating case
11--second fluffy pillow with matching sham
12--just in case, fold an extra blanket at the foot of the bed
13--repeat with matching blankets and bedspreads for second bed in room

(Riah prefers to sleep with fewer covers, as he gets uncomfortably warm. I, too, get toasty, but would rather awake sweating than chilled.)

Add to it that the queen-sized bed in all its cozy, enveloping splendor is in a room far from any windows. When the kids have snuck off to ambush Grandma & Grandpa awake, succumb valiantly to a tickle fight then help make french toast, I could sleep all day in that dark fluffy world!

And now I retreat to my own bed with its soft sheets, single blanket, bedspread and doubled-up flat pillows. I'll sleep well, but I think I know what I'll dream of...

Sweet dreams to you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ode to the Coxsackievirus

(prounounced kok-sacky-virus)

Little pink dots on the cheeks and the nose,
Spreading o'er belly right down to the toes
What did we eat? Who fed you what?
What's up with the pimply spots on your butt?

Keeping an eye out, what will it do?
How will it change--crust over or goo?
Allergy? Illness? Change in detergent?
Hope of all Hopes that it doesn't get urgent.

No fussing, no pain, no attitude changes,
Of stories I've heard, this one's not the strangest.
Wake up in the morning, now there's--Good Land!
Bubbles and bumps on my little one's hands!

Off to the doc to solve the odd mystery
I'd like to sit back and just let it be history.
Don't touch the fish tank, you may be contagious.
Normally quick, this time it takes ages!

Finally in, lots of questions, now look.
Bad sign when the doc must reference "The Red Book?"
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease spreads like a weed:
Sneeze, cough, rub, ooze, touch, pick, kiss, drool or breathe!

Send out a warning, then keep to ourselves.
We don't want to meddle in other friends' healthz.
Coxsackievirus, your name's fun to say,
But leave us alone. You're not welcome to stay.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Last week was crappy.

Like crawl-in-a-hole, tenant-moving-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-there-goes-my-occupancy-bonus, the-checkbook-needs-CPR, don't-hug-me-because-I'll-cry crappy. This week I'm recalibrating. Instead of focusing on the things that I don't have, I'm focusing on the things that I don't have.

Re-read that as many times as you want, it really says that.

I don't have a body that prevents me from taking care of my home and family. I don't have non-functioning appliances. I don't have an abusive dictator of a husband who punishes me for imperfection. I don't have children with an unhealthy example of parental roles. I don't have a small social circle comprised mostly of acquaintances. I don't have children who resent me and yell that they hate me and threaten to run away. I don't have alcoholism and drug addiction in my home. I don't have collection agencies calling me all hours of the day and night. I don't have gangs and drug dealers and hookers out my multi-locked front door. I don't have to walk miles to find potable water. I don't have bombs exploding and sniper fire shattering the night.

I do have tenants breaking their lease under cover of darkness, a checkbook that needs CPR, and days that I'd like to rewind and sleep through. I do have a dirty floor, a baby with a nasty chest cold, a 3-year-old with a short fuse and violent temper, a 6-year-old with a short fuse and a less-violent temper, an 8-year-old who keeps asking when we can go to Maui, and a husband who plays online chess at (I think) inopportune moments. I do have great friends who love me and would do anything they could to support me, extended family who would do the same and then some, and a knowledge that my Heavenly Father knows me, loves me and is taking care of me.

Especially on crappy days.

My Hero!

It seems that this morning I poured myself too much cereal. I was not aware that I had, but thankfully I had someone to save me from my folly. He even ran to get his own spoon.

Here's to the selfless, omniscient people in our lives. May you never dribble milk down your chin.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Responsibility Tax

So we all know that the economy's been a bit thin...

Well, not that thin, but certainly less than robust.

When the going was good, I really wanted a house. Heck, I STILL really want a house. But even though we could've qualified, it would've been a really stupid thing to do, given our in-flow, out-flow, escrow, and all the extra things you don't know to prepare for before you own a house. So we didn't. When the housing bubble burst, the economy tanked and my husband lost his job, I was very, very grateful that we did not own a house. We would have been one of the sad statistics.

I could work outside the home. I've got a degree that would allow me that. And if I worked hard at it, I could be making some pretty decent dough! But we decided that the best thing for our children would be to take the financial hit and have me stay home to teach, raise, nurture and nourish them. I can work later. Now is the time for molding miniature superheroes.

We all know that using your credit cards when you don't have the money to pay the bill isn't a wise thing. If used correctly they can do good things, and if used in an emergency they can help keep us afloat for a short time. We've made some poor decisions, but have stopped using them and are getting close to having them paid off.

We've tried to be responsible.

And here's what I've learned: Responsibility Sucks.

The Goverment (taxpayers) gave the greedy banks and lenders kajillions of dollars.
Our commander-in-chief wants to pay working moms for childcare costs. (I clearly just sit on my tush eating bon-bons all day.)
I hear radio commercials for up to 50% relief for people who have over $10,000 in credit card debt.

So for being prudent, responsible and frugal my reward is to struggle alone? That stinks.

And I'm pouting.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Potty Mouth

I just stepped out quickly to help a tenant who was having trouble with her key. We chatted a bit, then I dropped a couple of work orders in the maintenance office and returned.

When I walked in the door, I was notified that my children had changed their names to Peeing Eyes, Pooping Ears (due to earwax), Tooting Mouth and Drooling Nose.

Gotta' credit their creativity!