Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Acquired taste

Greg and I had a couple nights last weekend to ourselves. Like most parents, we filled much of our Happy Hour talk about our hopes and dreams and fears--for and about our offspring. It's only natural, I guess. Zack shows signs of being quite a class clown--he is corny and happy and a ham. But beyond these things, I asserted, he really seems to have an unusual, wry sense of humor for a 5 year old.

The kids came home and it snowed. After a long day of school and snowball fights, I spent a few minutes watching the snow fall outside Zack's bedroom window before tucking him in. We spoke in hushed tones; the night was peaceful and still. Then I looked over at Zack. He was sitting on his knees, with a perfectly straight face and his straw from his water glass shoved up his nose. Just waiting for me to notice. Of course when I laughed, he nearly fell off his bed laughing too--which could have led to some serious nostril damage what with the straw and all. Such is life with Zack, the resident kindergarten comedian.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Miltons + Snow = Fun

Miltons + Snow = Fun
Originally uploaded by mama.milton.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

I don't want nasty freezing rain, or treacherous road conditions. But this little bit of snow was beautiful today. It's not often the kids can have a snow fight in their own backyard. Check out more pictures on my flickr account.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Grandma Jean and the four greats

Happy Thanksgiving, a few days late. I thought I'd post this picture my Mom took of my Grandma and the great grandkids. Greg and I have been shopping today and enjoying the weekend, ALONE. Lexi and Zack are hanging out with my folks, getting spoiled and decorating for Christmas.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It matches my car

To go with my car
Originally uploaded by mama.milton.

Well, sorta.

I have never been a car person, and I tend to drive like an old lady. I drove a SUV, a Dodge Durango, when my need to tote four little kids was stronger than my fear of rolling the massive hunk of metal and hurting someone. Namely me and the babies. I know many people feel safer in SUVs. I never did. So when my day care days were officially over, I got a car. I now drive a WRX subaru wagon.

I have to say it's the most fun I have ever had driving. And it's good I feel this way because my hubby and kiddos are positively spun over these cars. They love going to Subie festivals and camp outs, rallies and races. Greg brought this hat back for me from his latest event in Seattle.

It looks like I have crossed over. I guess I'm a groupie too.

Or at least I have a great hat for bad hair days.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I usually balk at this stuff

My sister often sends those 'getting to know you' emails. You answer the questions and are supposed to forward the questionnaire to everybody you know. I never do. Not once. I also don't like those chain letters, or recipe exchanges, or book trades. I am no fun.

But I did respond this once to her Christmas email. It was the implication that I am scrooge and not very nice if I don't participate that broke me. He sees me when I am sleeping, ya know. I couldn't take any chances. Here's my answers if you feel so inclined.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay,
here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!!Just copy
(do not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can
send. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a
whole bunch of people you know, *INCLUDING* the person that sent it to you.
'Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Reuse bags and decorative boxes--less fuss and muss

2. Real tree or artificial? We like fake trees; nasty allergies in play here

3. When do you put up the tree? Some time between thanksgiving and the 15th

4. When do you take the tree down? Around Greg's birthday, Jan. 2nd

5. Do you like eggnog? No eggs for me, see #2

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I was a teenager when I received an encyclopedia set. I'm a nerd; I loved it.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? We have a hand carved one from Peru. There are llamas and extra children in attendance.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Anyone over 20 is tough.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Zack. He likes everything. He'd be thrilled with undies for Christmas.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail cards and newsletters.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My grandparents got me a little funhouse mirror when I was little. It made me feel ugly and mad. I ended up getting in trouble for being such an ingrate, so I really remember this gift.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Huge sucker for It's a Wonderful Life. Always cry. I also like watching Christmas Vacation, Simon Birch & Elf.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Just depends-usually done 2 weeks before Christmas.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not yet.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Does Bailey's and coffee count? I love gussied up rice krispie treats called scotcharoos.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? No set plan. I like the new retro big lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Ave Maria by Chris Cornell (lead singer from Soundgarden and Audioslave). Beautiful vocals.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We are heading to Jacksonville, Oregon to see Greg's family the week before Christmas. Then it's off to Sandy, Oregon on Christmas Day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Yep.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Big white shiny star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We have always celebrated our Mom's birthday on Christmas Eve. It's a busy week!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Staying healthy (no cluster headaches) and dealing with crazy drivers.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I just like collecting the memories.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I like the traditional food, but wouldn't mind trying some ethnic traditions too. Greg grew up with big Italian christmas dinners--lots of handmade pasta. Sounds fun.

Ta da.

Can you feel it?

We are just days away from the official kickoff to that crazy season. I stopped by Borders Saturday and got all nostalgic when I saw this year's decorations, that is until I saw the information desk. Where do all these uptight women come from? They are curt, and impatient and it is not even crunch time yet. I beg of you. Show some manners this holiday season. And now that I am not working in retail, I am going to take up the cause of those who are. If you are being a jerk, shame on you. Take a deep breath and relax. No really.

My side of the family has agreed to buy just for the kids again this year. (Except for my Grandma. We will buy for her.) This is such a gift. Greg and I are going to shop together again this year for the kids. It makes me feel that I am not alone in the holiday plans. I feel pretty relaxed. Maybe I will regret this laissez faire attitude in a couple of weeks, but I doubt it. I just don't see why it is necessary to lose my mind for Jesus' sake.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spongebob may be useful afterall

I have successfully banned Spongebob Squarepants from my household for years. Sure, my Dad watched it, but he's a grown man free to make such choices. I am not a fan. For years I have had a sneaking suspicion that Spongebob's glee for flipping burgers is some McDonald's conspiracy to brainwash legions of future robots, I mean, employees. It's just a theory. But the time came when Zack was not only aware of the phantom sea creature, but unnaturally interested in it. (I think Papa was slipping him episodes at his house.) Figuring that this particular forbidden fruit was probably not the cultural battle I want to fight, I finally conceded and let Zack watch it from time to time. Or everyday.

When the kids came home from school yesterday, they doled out hugs (to me) and immediately started fighting over the smencils. Smelly pencils. Don't ask. I'll spare you the fight details because it was the typical sibling squabble that ended with both kids in their rooms. Lexi was howling and hyperventilating because she was sure I had thrown the smencils away--the ones she bought with her own money. This was key because she is learning that money is certainly more valuable when it was hers vs. mine. But she seemed equally worried that I had thrown them away because they are recycleable. This is a crime. I guess her first thoughts were that I would punish her by destroying perfectly good pencils and mother earth. She thinks very highly of me. I told her they were just on 'vacation' until the Milton war ceased. She started breathing again.

Zack was sitting quietly in his room. He wasn't worried about pencils, or the planet, or being busted. I calmly explained that it isn't OK to attack, hit or pinch his big sister when he gets mad at her. He nodded, placating his Mom until he could enter battle again. I then lowered the boom.

"If you attack Sissy, you will not be able to watch Spongebob tomorrow."

So few words. So much impact. His eyes got big. His lip came out. And he kept his hands to himself. Finally, I have found something I can like about Bob. (Can I call him Bob?) I will exploit him for my own evil agenda--peace on earth in my little corner of the world.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Among my worries

We in the northwest are accustom to rain, but this is ridiculous. Floods. And it keeps coming. We live in a suburb, but we have several trees on our property--it tricks my brain into thinking we are just a little rural.

The trees are cause for many sleepless nights. Within 6 days of moving in, we suffered 80 mph winds that took off most of our roof. Welcome to home ownership. I don't remember the realtor bringing up the fact that we are in the route of the famous East, Chinook winds that rip up the Columbia River gorge. We lost three big branches in August that took out part of the fence, but no damage to the house. It scared us though. Made us shudder the noise was so loud.

So, I worry about trees falling on our house. Not that there's much I could do if it happens. I worry first about our safety, our home. But truth be known, I am scared that if I did survive a tree landing in my bed, there would be footage of our bedroom clutter on the nightly news. Nothing keeps me clean and tidy like the fear of being outed for the clutter keeper I am. (See also slob.) I guess this is a built-in cleaning intervention for the next 4 months. God works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I wanted to write a great book blurb, but I didn't like Music for Torching. Not enough to write a bunch about it. It is a stark, hard view of suburban life-which, by the way, I like. I enjoy a wide range of subversive titles. But I usually can identify with the angst behind the dark plotline, and I empathize with the characters. Just didn't happen for me here.


I love BloggerBeta (so far). My DIY approach to building categories has been such a waste of time. Now I can stay HTML-ignorant and still do fun stuff. Yah.


I have had a date every day this week. Not that kind of date; coffee dates with friends. Imagine me, having friends, being social. I am a college slacker chick again. With girl scouts, and a mortgage, and kids to raise, and a husband to love, and dinner to make, and words to write, and house to clean, and church to serve, and books to read, and. Ok. My true slacker days are over. Praise be the productive

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Record rainfall

Record rainfall
Originally uploaded by mama.milton.
Sunday I went on a date in downtown Portland. It was rainy and windy. Which is a silly thing to note in November here. We walked several blocks to the Portland Art Museum, passing through the most wicked in the best way foliage I have ever seen. I was enthralled. And without my camera. It kicked Monet's bootay, although I did enjoy a real date with my real hubby.

I had planned to return today, but with the flooding and all, I guess I missed out. It's probably hard to capture the magic anyway.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The doctor needs to be seen

When exactly did Dr. Phil go all Springer on us? I remember the good old days, when he made appearances on Oprah, and gave solid advice to people looking to solve everyday problems. I liked that Phil. I liked that Robyn, before she did something odd to her face. And their kids weren't marrying porn stars back then.

Greg says ratings happened to Mr. McGraw. That you gotta draw them in. But do I need to see episode after episode of a 3 year old girl screaming that her Daddy touched her pee-pee? Or anorexics on the verge of death? Or twin heroin addicts? Seriously, who are these people? I give up.

Meanwhile in TV land, JJ Abrams produced six sequential weeks of Lost this fall. I still can't get over the new term, 'fall series finale', but I will let it slide as long as I don't have to endure a repeat every other week. Or one of those dopey synoposis shows they pass off as new, with the voice-over providing a summary of everything I've already seen twice. Hey JJ. Next time Tom Cruise pulls up at 2 am and begs you to direct a movie, you just send him on his way. Send him home with some brochures about the benefits of pychiatric meds while your at it. He so clearly needs them and you have a show to write.

I have to hope we are smarter than that, that we deserve smart entertainment. I guess there's always HBO.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just this side of Holland

Zack didn't have a bedtime ritual, get tucked into bed every night, until he was four. I would tuck Lexi in, make a trip to the bathroom and head to the couch where I held Zack until he fell asleep, sometime after 10. This was not good parenting; this was a habit formed around having a son born with 'special needs'.

Lexi's years as a toddler were pretty straightforward--she was prone to tantrums, but learned to talk naturally. She asked about the world around her, and I played Adam and named the beasts of the earth. I would say it, she would repeat it. Done and done. I also taught her early that when it's time for bed, she was expected to stay in bed and sleep there all night. And she pretty much ate what was put in front of her. Except tomatoes. She doesn't like tomatoes.

But I soon learned that raising Zack would be different. That he would speak only with the help of professionals and good health insurance. That he had sensory issues and motor skill problems that made eating unpleasant and difficult for him. And that chronic diarrhea, day or night, would make enforcing hard rules about staying in bed difficult. I am ashamed to admit that I once let him cry in his bed for a mighty long time-- trying to teach him or ferberize or grab at normalcy, I'm not sure what--only to give in and find him covered in his own feces. It was gross and heart breaking. The poor guy couldn't tell me what was wrong. I gave up that night on sleeping well for 2 more years, when he gained some bowel control. When the time came, it took weeks for him to adjust to the new ritual. I read quietly in his room until he grew accustomed to sleeping alone. These days, he camps with his grandparents and asks to go to bed when he's tuckered out. He sleeps well.

Except for this week. He had a sinus infection, which was bad enough. He was glued to me for two days. But then he broke out in hives from the antibiotic and the constant trips to the bathroom returned. He's older now, and embarrassed by his need to visit the potty so often. He didn't want to return to school. I tried to reassure him that when he finishes his medicine, he will feel better and the 'poopy' problems will go away. I pray I am right.

But we are both mindful of the path we have been on. I would be lying if I didn't admit that this common side effect of antibiotics scares me. It's hard for me to put down my guard, to relax. He gave me the thumbs up yesterday as the bus pulled away. It helps.

Zack had a great day at school. His teacher reported he was back to being his normal, happy self. This side of 'special', things are looking up.