Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Greg and I had hoped that Cam would eventually settle down and get married. That he would find the right girl. When the time came, I was terribly nervous about meeting Lisa (yes, another Lisa). What if she didn't like us? Would we lose Cam? Also, I had high hopes for our guy - what if he was making a mistake? Now all this worry was in vain. Lisa, of course, was delightful. I would be hard pressed to find fault in her, even if I tried. If anything, I have been somewhat intimidated by her - she is that together and nice and lovely - but that speaks more to my insecurity than to anything about her. Soon Greg returned the best man honors, twice. (Cam and Lisa had a private ceremony followed by a honking big wedding. Yes, honking big. I believe it said so on the invite. All right, I am lying. But it was an affair.)
A couple of years passed, and I became that annoying friend who says things like 'so, like, when you two going to have a baby?', because having both sides of their family pressing on them for offspring just wasn't enough. But I could hardly help myself for a couple of selfish reasons: a) I want to share the joy, and well, the not joy of parenting and b) I had spent 10 years thinking what a great dad Cam would make someday. When Lexi was born, Cam drove a couple of hours and hung out with us. Right about the same time she developed colic and I was in the throes of postpartum depression. Oh yeah, fun times. One of the things that complicated the already trying time was the fact that Lexi really never slept like the book said. "Most babies sleep 10-14 hours a day", my dirty diaper. When she wasn't screaming, she seemed to always be awake, staring at me. I was in a conundrum because I needed caffeine to cope with my never ending all-nighters, yet while nursing, the caffeine was not helping her sleep more. I felt terrible. I remember after the guys had played cards, Cam said he would get up with me and visit with me when Lexi woke up. I sorta didn't believe him. I remembered, just a little, being single and I recalled that I used to enjoy sleeping through the night. Yet there he was, keeping the crabby, depressed me company while I complained and cried about my woes. That this motherhood thing was hard. Hard I tell you. And he listened to me rant and suggested, carefully, that it would get better. It did. Better enough that we had Zack. Cam was there when we brought him home from the hospital. Zack's (incomplete) baby book is full of pictures of Uncle Cam.
So it pleases me to no end that last night, after a rough delivery that ended in a c-section, Cam and Lisa welcomed their baby girl into this world. I am measuring how long I have to wait before I descend upon them and greet this sweet marvel. I am all set to pounce. I am thrilled for them both. I look forward to being there with them as they start their lives as parents - to provide encouragement, free babysitting and plenty of noisy, obnoxious toys. Because that's what friends are for.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Authorities have considered questioning the Gourami brothers. Fish in the area have been asked to contact the police with any further information. The area surrounding the filter has been closed, until an investigation can be completed.
Counselors will be provided at the tank.
Friday, February 23, 2007
"You don't have a stepmom, Zack. Do you know what a stepmom is?"
"My friends have stepmoms. They get lots of Moms. I just was wondering when I will get more."
"Well, thankfully, Daddy and I are married so I don't see any extra Moms or Dads in your life anytime soon. You're stuck with us."
The room is filled with disappointment. More parents must be better. More is better right?
"I know who Daddy would marry if he was looking for a new wife."
"Oh, really?" This I gotta hear.
"Yeah, this person is goofy."
"I am goofy."
"Mom, you are outta the picture. This person took a bath today."
I see where this is going.
"Daddy would marry me. I could be my own stepmom. That would be really cool."
"Yes, dear. It would be a first in kindergarten. And well, wrong, on so many levels."
"Really? Oh. Thanks for the orange Mom. I love oranges."
And with that he ate his lunch; I think the orange redeemed me. I guess I am sufficient, at least for today.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Personal hygiene: a slippery slope to child neglect. Now I know.
I have a new post up at Much to My Sjogren - my otherwise-neglected blog. Haven't read it before? That's ok, I haven't been there much myself. It's where I contemplate the nature of chronic illness (whine) - if you're into that sort of thing.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
You may have caught Susan last week on My Name is Earl. She played Randy's, um, friend. 'In the Lord.' After a few drinks. I did the 'I-have-exchanged-email-with-that-actor-right there' dance in my living room while the troops rolled their eyes. They apparently did not appreciate my brush with greatness. It's a good thing they weren't nearby when I saw I am a finalist in her Jack Nicholson caption contest. I'm under the impression that the eyes are sensitive organs and can indeed get stuck like that. Just so you know.
I try to torture the kids with trips down memory lane whenever I can. While we were in Southern Oregon, I was sure to point out the place Daddy proposed, where our old house was, where we met. Lexi was polite and would at least look the direction I was pointing. Like she cared. I will give her that.
Monday night, we went to see Charlotte's Web at a renovated historical theatre near my old college stomping grounds. When the last little spider flew away and I dried my eyes (I admit it), we walked next door, to Flying Pie Pizzeria . I knew the kids would not care about all the times I came here while I was in school - the dates, the times with my friends, dressed up as cheerleaders or stuffing our shirts like pregnant ladies, being silly and having a great time. (I went to a Christian college. In lieu of booze or drugs, we opted for dress-up and pranks. Wholesome. Or dumb. You decide.) But I knew no one in my family could pass up the ooey, gooey so they indulged my nostalgia, played along - and begged to come back again.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Six strikes me funny. I have never considered myself one of those Moms who holds on too tight; I didn't cry when Zack finished preschool and I held a brave face when he boarded the bus for kindergarten. He rode the short bus when he was 3 and 30 pounds - I did crack on the phone with Greg after I told him he was off because he looked so darn vulnerable in his car seat. Kindergarten felt like a gift. Zack was moving on to school without an IEP and all I could feel was gratitude.
Six feels like a turning point, that we are leaving babyhood behind. Soon both kids will be off to school all day and I will have kept my promise to be here with them, in those early years. Most days I am unapologetic about reclaiming a little independence. I've earned it. But I get a little soft sometimes, prophetic. Someday I bet I will long for these days, when the kids were small and I occupied their private world. Such is motherhood.
Monday, February 19, 2007
My skeptical nature was roused last fall, when the elders announced that the pastor, Rick, was going to take a 3-month sabbatical. I secretly hoped that this wasn't some backdoor discipline issue, and then, the leadership addressed just that: that this sabbatical was simply that and Rick and his family needed a breather, time to reflect and relax. The church was solvent; this was our gift to a family that works endlessly for our congregation.
During the sabbatical, several elders spoke and we studied the book of Phillipians. We raised $110,000 during advent, for local and global charities, and heard amazing guest speakers. Imago continued to grow.
The McKinleys returned to us yesterday. I couldn't wait to give Jeanne a hug and say 'hi' to their kids. We had missed them terribly and it was good to have them home. It is also good to know that Imago Dei is not a one-man show.
Well, not a mere man anyway.
You can read about Rick's sabbatical here.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I tuned in for the weather report the next day and hoped for an endearing local human interest piece, something to warm my heart. Instead I was rewarded with a local story about an 84 year-old foster mother who has been sentenced 3 years for sexually abusing her 11 year-old charge some years ago. I so wish I was making this up. Even the local newscasters were faintly shaking their heads, puzzled. As her pastor relayed her involvement in the prison ministry, the irony was too much for me and I had to turn it off. And fast.
Later I decided to watch a movie with the kids. They were coughing in turn, and sharing bad taste in movies as they picked out the Parent Trap, a movie that begs the question: who, praytell, divides their twin girls up like property. (It's a burning question from the 1961 version that has stayed with me all these years.) Are we to believe that because dealing with an ex, especially the exes in this script, is so difficult, so inconvenient, that the only option available would be to live on separate continents and to never speak of the other child again. I've seen more passion about visiting rights to the family dog, but what do I know? Maybe in another 20 years or so, when Disney produces it again, I will finally get it.
And throughout it all, the flying nun keeps interrupting me to tell me about a friend that has to take 'time out every week' to take her medication. That staves off a terrible condition. So we are clear, once a week her hapless friend pours herself some water and swallows a pill. How ever does she cope and get anything done? What with all this pouring of water and taking one pill a week. Hey Sally, I am trying to really, really like you, but I just can't muster it today.
There are days when it is perfectly clear why I prefer the written word.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I take to the road several times a week around my neighborhood. At first, my walking schedule was forced, regulated. Now, I look forward to it. I listen to books I've missed along the way and music with the questionable lyrics or words (the songs we don't play during carpool). Sometimes I like the quiet.
Along the way, I find a rhythm. I step back from the fence with the two fierce, nasty dogs that used to startle me. I wear glasses when the wind blows; gloves when the temperature drops. I spot empty nests in bare, abandoned trees. I wave at strangers and make way for the elderly couple that is jogging by me, determined and weary all at once. I point the way to Wal-Mart, when a car pulls over, desperate and chuckle over their retail 'emergency'.
I imagine if I ran, if I accelerated my pace, I would miss a lot. So much for being a jock.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It's 8:32 pm and I am officially giving up. Instead, I offer you today's pictures from lunch with my lady folks, while the fellas were working. Because that's romantic...
Yes, you may notice the matching outfits. No, I am not allowed to tease or make fun. And no, we aren't starting a band.
Lori and I, waiting for lunch.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I remember the first time I met Mr. Saxton. It was my first day of high school and I hadn't mastered the maze of portables that surrounded our growing school, and after lunch I got confused and stumbled into class a few minutes late. I was tardy, a first for me. I slid into a desk in back, next to my friend Tracy, imitating what I seen other kids pull off for years. Unfortunately Saxton saw us and called us to the front of the room. There I was, in all my goody-goody glory, horrified that I was late (strike one: self-punishment, an art form) and that the teacher was making an example out of me (strike two: my worst nightmare, in technicolor). I stood there red-faced and lightheaded while he explained that since we were coming from a break, THERE WAS NO EXCUSE FOR BEING TARDY. I was scandalized and sick - he's lucky I didn't pass out.
Mr. Saxton prided himself in refusing to smile the first few months of school, but I swear he smirked when he arrived the next day to find me eating my lunch in front of the classroom door. I think I stalked that portable for a near month and whined about how ferocious he was to anybody that would listen.
Over that year, I learned to respect Mr. Saxton and loved my English class. He was funny and stern and a fine educator. Because we met in an electronics classroom, we sometimes watched newsworthy events to prompt journal writing. We tuned in to watch the Challenger blow up in real time. I remember how surprised we all were. He had us turn to the page. I looked forward to that class everyday. At the end of that year, he announced that he would see us when we were Juniors - he didn't like sophomores, didn't teach them and told us not to feel bad when he ignored us during 10th grade. I tried to visit with him anyway and pouted until I had a chance to take two more years of English from him. He was straightforward and wasn't prone to buttering people up so when he encouraged me to write, his word had sway. He had tremendous influence on me.
Mr. Saxton was on the local news today - he is now a principal at my old school and is enforcing an unpopular dress code aimed at eliminating gang influences in the district. (Which sounds a little funny to me, gangs coming to the country.) He is still my no-nonsense hero, solid and sturdy in a time when schools often acquiesce to over-indulgent parents.
Long live backbone.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
"Mrs. Milton, of course you are losing your hair. Of course food is getting stuck in your esophagus. Of course you are in pain. Of course...should we just go over the diagnosis again?" I whimper 'no, I get it'. I need adjust my expectations and look into wigs. Gotcha.
"Mrs. Milton, in the event that you put your head through a windshield again, rest assured that it is not your Sjogren's acting up. Don't delay, go straight to the hospital, okay dear?" This response is usually delivered in the tone you take with the brain damaged, which in this scenario, would be me. Sometimes I would rather suffer at home, without someone with advanced degrees and bad manners scoffing at me. It's a downer.
Then my arms starting itching Saturday, like I have mosquito bites compounded with chicken pox that have combined forces with hives running through poison ivy and have been sprinkled with the itching powder I borrowed from Our Gang. It's annoying, better than pain, and yet I think I need an elizabethan collar or sturdy mittens to combat the scratchingIreallywanttodorightnow. I have tried all the common sense home remedies: hydrocortisone, Benadryl and Benadryl cream and nothing has provided relief. I see a bathtub full of oatmeal followed by calamine lotion this afternoon, all in an effort to remedy a rash I can't even see. Yes, this itch is clearly invisible, which will be loads of fun to explain to the doctor, if I make the call.
Ah, another copay, another chance to prove so much of my life is all in my head.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Then my Dad got into elk hunting. Once again, it wasn't enough to track the sucker down, you must tick them off; tease them into thinking you are a rival bull elk. And the best way to pose as a bull elk is to bugle like them. My Dad constructed an elk flute from a pvc pipe. He practiced his piper tune, perfecting the authentic sound. He even purchased a elk bugling cassette at some sportsman show. Nothing says successful slumber party like wapiti mating calls - played of course for our listening pleasure. Or the cringe factor. Did I mention he is a bit ornery too?
My Dad doesn't hunt much these days; Lexi would be horrified. But they love to fish with Papa. (Somehow lake fish are exempt from her PETAesque pledge.) Or perhaps, like me, they just like hanging out with the guy.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I teased him about interrupting my special House time with bad/good news. He reminded me not to worry or panic; nothing has been decided. It's speculative. I want Greg to flourish - God knows he deserves it. I want to be supportive and yet I know that as his career grows, we will face these kind of decisions. Advancement also means more travel, something we have adjusted to over the past year, but difficult. I am also equally committed to the life we have been building here over the past 3 years. Our roots have taken; we are happy. I am old enough to know that not everything can be replicated by sheer will and whimsy when you pick up and move.
A couple of days have passed. I am terrible at waiting and wish I could talk to Greg; I know together we will figure this out. I know the proverbial cake tastes sublime.
*In the off-chance it appears that I am divulging top secret company plans, I am not. I am not announcing anything because nothing has happened. Gee, I sound just like him. What drama.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
It isn't apparent to the naked eye, but I don't buy many CDs these days. I have oodles of old CDs from my 20s, threatening to fall on small children. These towers hail from a time when I felt entitled to peruse music stores and stay out late following local bands. I'm all grown up now and can't justify spending money on unknown bands; I guess this is my descent into being an old fogey.
Until I heard Regina Spektor on CBS's Sunday Morning. (Where no doubt all edgy new music gets it start. Definitely fogey-bound.) I stopped mid-muffin, smitten. Her voice is pure; her attitude refreshing. They showed a clip of her playing the piano, and a drum, while belting out a melody even Simon (that Simon) would endorse. I knew right then, in that instant, that I would buy Begin to Hope and play it without ceasing. It would be the soundtrack to our daily round - until it wore out its welcome the way CDs do when you play them nonstop.
I could say more, but I'll leave you with the following links, just in case you're curious. I guess I am a fan of the anti-folk movement (a fusion of punk and folk). Who knew?
CBS interview transcript
Regina Spektor myspace
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
There are five new moms/moms-to-be in my church ladies group. (I pictured Dana Carvey too.) In lieu of a fancy shower or martini night (my vote), we are providing meals for the families after the stork arrives. Which sounds sweet and helpful. I'm all for it, but what am I going to rustle up for these mamas and co?
I poured over some cookbooks this morning and found some recipes designed for this specific purpose, but I can't imagine that my friends are going to appreciate and/or eat a vat of tuna casserole. Besides, I hope to retain my friendship privileges postpartum.
I turned to the mighty internet next. Surely someone has posted a hip, delicious, easy recipe I could replicate over and over. I would be able to make it in my sleep or near sleep state. But the first thing I read was a bunch of directions on how to behave around a new Mom and her offspring. Directions that included a 'babymoon' and me running up all stealthy like and ringing the doorbell after placing my horde of frozen meals on the porch. Directions that told me to wave as I drive away lest I disturb all the motherlove and infect the child with my grimy hands. I gave this 'article' a delicate finger and tried to call my Mom, for she knows all.
She wasn't home.
I guess I will volunteer my services and hope I get inspired very soon. Some of these ladies are very pregnant. Does delivered pizza count?
Monday, February 05, 2007
First quarter: Scrub bathroom; repeat 3 times. Sweep floors and rearrange pictures. Drink coffee. Leave a message on Greg's cell. Build K'Nex monsters with Lexi and Skylar. Worry about Zack in Damascus (not Syria) playing with Skylar's little brother, Kaden. Pray for their mother; she got the raw end of the deal.
Second quarter: Traipse through the park. Read 'Sacred Parenting' and make notes for Moms' community group. Take a bathroom break at Starbucks (park potties closed for the holiday). Return to the park; Greg returns my call. His cell found a signal while he was walking a dog, on the beach. Pout. Greg speaks of Lisa's absolute pregnancy bliss. Wonder if Cam is overstating her state. Remember that resplendent Lisa is my friend. Repress snarky feelings. Feel remorse and guilt over the 18 months of absolute crabby funk that marked my pregnancies.
Third quarter: Meet Jenny in Gresham to exchange babies. Refuse to eat at McDonalds. Wrestle Zack into the car where he promptly passes out. Fight bitter feelings. Crave something stronger than java.
Fourth quarter: Catch The Closer. Practice my southern accent and fold clothes. Make breakfast for dinner. Remember that I forgot halftime. Apologize to the Artist-that-I-am-not-sure-how-to-address; imagine he was dramatic and raunchy. Watch news crawl. Find out the score (note there were no wardrobe malfunctions). Check email.
Smile. Do my own victory dance. Hum 'We are the Champions'. Embrace offseason.
(Beg meager readership to do the 'Hockey Lockout Dance'.)
Friday, February 02, 2007
My cup runneth over.
But between the meltdowns and madness, there have been some bright spots.
For instance, Zack's best friend, super Mollie, has lost both bottom teeth this week. He is both impressed and so envious he can hardly take it. Not to be outdone orally, he told me that the 'pink floor in the back of his mouth is itchy, feels weird'. When I explained the whole 6 year molar erupting from his gums thing, he was astounded. Fine, let the lady lose her teeth; I'll grow more. (I didn't have the heart to tell him that Mollie will get more too.)
And upon hearing me say that I thought some TV character wasn't very nice, he shot me a look (and it was not the look of love) and carefully explained that that's because "he's a villl-llinn". He seemed sincerely concerned that I couldn't grasp such a concept. (See also: my low IQ.)
But listening to Zack do his math homework (yes, I said listening) topped my charts this week. The instructions were to cut out the little fishie numbers and paste them next to the little wormie numbers; so that the 8 fish was next to 9 worm, and so on. (And believe me it was written in some awkward way that does not translate well here or anywhere. Pick a number that is one less than the other number. Cumbersome.) Easy-peasy for Zack. Too easy-peasy. To ramp up the fun, the fish started rebelling, refusing to hang out with their appropriate worms. The worms were hurt, shunned. There was lots of yelling and joking and great drama. When the curtain closed, the numbers lined up on the page and the homework was done. He sighed, pleased with himself and gave me a grin.
Those are the moments I would bottle if I could, and sip from when the day is long.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I spent Zack's first summer bending wire. (No, not with my mind, silly - although I think that would have entertained Alexis, who was 3 at the time, for hours. Now that would have been interesting.) Greg had just left restaurant management , with its long hours and drunks, for a small computer software company, for different long hours and folks who either could use a drink, or have no excuse for their bad behavior - at least a drunk has an excuse. I found myself alone with two small kids in a cramped apartment. I had quit my part-time job after Zack was born and most of longtime friends hadn't had kids yet (read: had a life, one without diapers.) So, I was a little lonely. We would go to the park and swim in the pool, everyday. I had a little hankering for something to occupy my mind, something besides being a mommy. I remember meeting my friend ShayLyn at the Saturday market. She had started a business, selling beaded jewelry, after breaking her leg at work; she seemed inspired and giddy. (She also seemed well rested. She was childless.) I didn't know if the beads themselves held some magical property or if Shay was on too much pain medication. I decided to give it a try. We drove straight to the craft store where I carefully duct taped Lexi's roaming hands to the cart, in a loving manner of course, and started sifting through beads. Twisting wire was therapeutic. I had found an outlet. Lexi would play with her dinosaurs, Zack would swing, and I would stay sane, for just a little longer.
It's been years since I've picked up my pliers. I don't have much feeling in my fingers anymore (thanks neuropathy, you're a great pal), but I can still manage. Lexi lit up when she saw my old cache of beads and wires. She can't wait to give it a try. And given their soothing properties, I say whatever works baby. Get bending.