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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lexi's big day


Lexi is 9! Nine!!
Originally uploaded by mama.milton.
With all the commotion surrounding Zack's birthday, I may not have mentioned that Lexi too had a birthday coming up. Today my little girl turns nine and I can hardly believe it.

Yesterday, my sister and I watched some old videotapes - back when Zack was born and Lexi celebrated her third birthday. After I got past the really bad footage of myself - face broke out and with mastitis - I was taken aback by little Lexi's voice. The curls I remember clearly. But her sweet baby voice; I forgot how fragile and tender it was. It was bittersweet. I never want to be the girl who wishes her kids were little again. I am not there. But I am just a little south, wondering what else I won't remember someday.

I often come to this site and bemoan how tough it can be raising this daughter of mine, but let me set the record straight.

I don't know how I lucked out. Every now and then, it is so clear to me that she is such a great kid. I wouldn't change a thing.

(Which only proves I am a big dope. Everyone else saw it all along.)
*****

Happy birthday my sweet girl. I love you.

The sweets


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Near Heaven's Gate

My computer continues to be all medieval with me; the slave rodents must have lobbied for better working conditions, leaving me postless. I had intended to write a simple piece looking back ten years to the Heaven’s Gate suicides, some light reading, but was continuously denied. I discovered, painfully last week, that if the compose/html buttons are missing, everything I write will disappear as soon as I hit publish. So, today I am sending this word document to my sister and I will log in and post it from there.

Yes, I am pathetic.

Let me see if I can collect my thoughts from yesterday…

When Greg and I lived in southern Oregon, he made friends, at the comic bookstore, with a friend I will refer to as M. Because that’s what white and nerdy people do. At first glance, he appeared homeless. He walked everywhere with a backpack, elaborate walking stick and a hat covered in pins, most of which referred to UFOs and alien life. But M was employed and had a home – he just didn’t care about fitting in and lived how he saw fit. He reminded me of an (even more) eccentric Agent Mulder. (Fine, I’ll admit it. I love the X-files too. Don’t jeer.)

In March of 1997, the news announced the suicide deaths of 39 members of the UFO/religious cult, Heaven’s Gate. I guess Greg and I reacted like a lot of people – their deaths were sad and meaningless. They had family and jobs they left behind. Didn’t they see that their leader was a nutcase? It was heartbreaking.

Imagine our surprise when Greg found out that M had belonged to this cult, years before, when they were on the Oregon Coast. He knew some of the people that died. I was shocked when I heard this. How did he escape? I mean, cult leaders just don’t let you take off, right? As M described his years with the group, it became clear that he had always been free to leave. All the members had that choice.

Which led me to a difficult conclusion.

Free will doesn’t always lead to greener pastures and grand adventures. Somehow their deaths were easier to swallow when I imagined that they committed suicide because they were coerced. More like murder, less like delusional religious martyrdom.

May their troubled souls rest in peace.

Monday, March 26, 2007

And it came to pass that Zack turned 6

Zack woke up at 4:30 on his birthday Saturday, I guess to reminisce over old times for I distinctly remember being up early the day he was born. We were able to get him back to bed, at least until six - he probably perched outside our door, waiting until I got up. I nearly tripped on him.

We coasted through the morning. He made it through his first soccer meeting, and played video games while I put the final touches on his Star Wars extravaganza. As we approached the noon hour, he showed signs of meltdown. He started crying for lunch, acting as if he typically is neglected and often goes hungry. Then I saw the toothpaste he had 'accidentally' put in his hair. I started to run some bath water and had to go to a quiet corner before I lost my mind as well. I was all OCD, why, why, why are my kids always the anxious ones?! WHY? I have many theories and they all center on my parental failings. (Great future post fodder.) I talked myself down off the window ledge and remembered that all kids have a 'B' side - and so far, mine haven't been pegged as bullies or troublemakers, so I should try calming down myself. I called Greg, who was picking up a few more things for the party, and told him what was going down. He laughed and tried to bait me into taking a bet that Zack would puke by day's end. I tried to appreciate the levity in his voice (my sense of humor was on time delay) and fed the best child candidate for Paxil west of the Mississippi.

Crisis averted.

Mr Milton, birthday boy

By the time the wee partiers arrived, he was his old zany, goofy self again. There was games and relays, cake and Star Wars music - but most importantly, there was the Darth Vader pinata. This was his only birthday requirement. It was a rambunctious time, but I think it was also a hit. There was no blood, no crying and everyone left on a sugar high. Win, win, win.

They turned to the dark side

Later, we had family over for lasagna (Zack's favorite) and re-lit the light saber candle for another round of wishes. His cousin, Austin, played until 8:15 that night while I visited with my sister. He was disappointed he had to leave 'so soon', especially because Zack got some great loot, but we reminded him that he is welcome to come back. And that he had been here since 1 pm. It was a full day.

Alien ladies

So, happy birthday my big boy. We love you.

Building a starship with Daddy

Greg and Zack putting together a starship.
Zack and his cousin, Austin
Austin and Zack

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jedi prefunct

My four year-old nephew, Austin, hanging out with a Jedi, I mean, his Karate teacher. He has been doing martial arts for 4 months and loves it. There is nothing cuter than a bunch of 4 and 5 year-olds acting all badass in unison.

Love you Austin. Don't say 'ass'. Your Mom will kill me. (I don't think you should say 'kill' either. Same reason.)

Love,
Aunt Sissy

Friday, March 23, 2007

If loving you is wrong

Dear Laptop,

How are you? I hope you are having fun on your vacation. I hear Best Buy is a great destination for Spring Break. I hope you are making new friends, and well, I guess I should just cut to the chase here.

I MISS YOU.

There I said. I know I acted all brave when you left last week, but it turns out I need you. I was wrong to ever let you go. What was I thinking?

BLT (before lap top) computer is slow and doesn't understand me and my needs. You know, the ways you are always doing little things to make my life easier. Like I type a few letters, and bingo, you take care of it. And you let me post on my blog and mother, AT THE SAME TIME. BLT is possessive and makes me sit around and wait while it wakes up the little rodents I think it uses for slave labor. I'm afraid BLT is trying to keep me from my friends and family - it is creeping me out.

Shh, I think BLT is coming - I have to go. I don't know what it would do if it found out about my deep feelings for you. Please consider giving me another chance.

All my love,

Mama Milton

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Beam me up

Early this evening, while I was doing dishes and deliberating over dinner, I grew ill. Fast. Suddenly dinner wasn't on my mind - I settled for a blanket and a bucket on the couch until Greg got home. I imagine it was the increase in pills that threw me for a loop or maybe I was feeling lazy and wanted to get out of dinner.

Either way, I squeezed in a nap.

When I came to, Lexi was hovering above me, like she had been there all along. I sat up and took a sip of ginger ale and gave my girl some love when she asked if I had seen the movie, 'Left Behind'.

"You mean the religious movie? How'd you hear about that?"

"Oh, I don't know if it is religious. Soandso* said that it was so good. I really need to see it. See, there's this portal where all the good people get sucked up into and then there's all these battles between God and, um, I don't know. I think it was kinda like that movie you were watching that you said we shouldn't take too literally. What was that movie again?"

Oh crap.

"You mean 'Dogma'? See, because that was a movie I was watching. Some parents may not approve of that movie honey. Maybe you shouldn't talk about religious movies at school, just to be safe."

She went on to tell me that Soandso loves God and she loves God so what does it matter if we like different movies. And sweet child o' mine, I whole-heartily agree with you. But something tells me that the 'Left Behind'-watching parents may not embrace my Kevin Smith-loving ways.
That come rapture, I may be so busted.

I can only hope I was still dreaming.

*Soandso is not some hippy, Pacific NW name. I am just protecting the innocent, God-fearing babes at school.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The dump day cometh, take three

It is early. I had to do a test run, and see if Blogger still had a grudge against me. (What did I ever do to you, Mr. Blogger? I am so faithful.) Between trips to Goodwill and bagging up debris for the dump run tomorrow, I tried posting an update on Garage Purge 2007 twice. That's writing two times, on the clunky upstairs computer*, while I am knee deep in memorabilia and art supplies. Here's what I found while excavating boxes yesterday:

  • Art supplies. More than you might imagine - dating back to my BC (before children) years when I had this longing to draw and paint.
  • Spiral notebooks and fancy-schmancy journals. More than any one woman should be allowed to procure. The trees wept.
  • Pictures. More than your average paparazzi fella on FX could muster.

I think I mentioned art supplies twice but that's okay because Blogger may still hate me. I could just be talking to myself.

Let's just say Monday lived up to her reputation.

*My sweet, precious laptop is with the doctors at Best Buy. Oh I do hope she returns to me soon. *boo-hoo*

Friday, March 16, 2007

Parade of misfit clutter

I confess. I had coffee with a friend this morning, but I went back to sorting/thrashing about this afternoon. I went through some letters today, a sure show-stopper because I want to sit right down in the mire and reread them. (I am easily thrown off task.) I stopped after I read the first card, a sweet note written for my high school graduation by the boy that would break my heart just a couple weeks later. When he broke up with me that summer, I held this card and kept trying to pick up on some clue, the way you do when you feel duped. I am 36 and still can't decipher any secret code that should have tipped me off. Oh well. Some things are better left behind.

Here is some of the crap I have been toting around through moves, roommates - time immemorial:

Dead flowers from the '80s

Dead flowers from formals and homecoming. I am especially horrified by the blue fan 'bouquet' from the Sandy Mt. Days (my hometown).

Fantasy Grrrl guitar

This is the guitar Greg gave me when I decided that I didn't want to be a groupie anymore - I wanted to be a grungy rockstar. I can't part with it or play it. Very useful.

Prom dress '89

Nothing says prom like lots of lace. I will have to elaborate more of this fine gem later.

Camera graveyard

Don't forget my graveyard of old 35 mms. And the Polaroid camera. I used it to take daily (expensive) pictures to journal with for about 2 minutes. Ah, the early 'blog' years.

Who Song and Larry apron

And my favorite by far. This is the apron I wore when I was 20 years-old and worked for a rowdy Mexican restaurant - the kind you actually audition for. I can't sing or act, but somehow I got the job. THE APRON STILL HAS SALSA ON IT. (I still can't part with it.)

No wonder my kids don't feel compelled to clean their room.

*Some of my pictures don't seem to be rotated right. But. When I tried to fix them in Flickr, they appear to be okay. If they don't self-correct by the weekend, I promise I will whip up a nasty hex and punish them accordingly.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Packrat

I am playing hermit this week; I haven't held a single newborn or shared a cup of joe with anyone. Nope. I have deemed this week the one where I clean out cabinets and find the floor in our 'computer' room (where clutter goes to rest). It is now Thursday and I have to admit that my house looks worse. There are stacks of papers, miscellaneous misplaced Christmas ornaments and craft supplies, all looking to find a home. I want to put it all back and go on pretending that my life is in order, but the boxes in my garage won't let me. So, I am buried in old letters, baby shoes and books - making tough decisions and making room for a little peace of mind.

How do you deal with clutter? Are there any fellow packrats out there?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pandora's Xbox

A few years back, Greg bought me a video game for Mother's Day - an odd choice for a woman that didn't know how to turn the Xbox on, but in his defense, it was a Buffy game and we all know how gaga I am for all things Buffyverse. Still, I don't have the time/interest to invest in gaming because I know it is the black hole of time suckage and I am versed in wasting time on other media outlets, namely books, movies and inhaling HBO series when they come out on DVD. I don't need help piddling away the hours that could be spent raising the youngins or keeping the house from going into total disarray.

I made the grave error of pulling the game out a couple of weeks ago, when Greg was off to some work event - to the surprise and delight of my dumbstruck kids. I am the killjoy of gaming, unlike Daddy, the King of fun. (See how that works.) And I have to admit, it was fun, once I figured out what I was doing because deep down, I would love to be the chosen one, but I digress. My point here is that I unleashed the beginning of the end; my night of Xbox has sparked a tireless pursuit of nonstop gaming. No longer am I the oddball in the family, the weird one who sets limits. In their eyes, I am down with the tossing off of all responsibilities in favor of reaching the next level or gaining additional health 'points'.

I need my street cred back.

Zack in particular is showing the Y chromosome for electric gadgets. Every morning, after he announces how many days to his birthday and some math problem, he asks what he needs to do before he plays X-Men. I like the way he is devouring his breakfast and getting dressed without any additional prompts or threats. I am not so sure I like his obsession with the joystick or whatever they are called now. I try to remember once upon a time, I was in love with our Atari 800. It was the best thing ever back then. I was older than Zack (no technology existed when I was a wee one), but I do recall scrambling to get ready so I play a little Popeye before Junior High.

I guess nerd runs on both sides of the family after all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bruiser

Did I mention that when she isn't perfecting her stalking skills Lexi plays football with the boys at school during recess? Ah, yes. Rumor has it that she caught someone's fist in the mouth yesterday - and amidst the tears, she said she felt a 'little rock in her mouth'. Oops. By the time I got the call, she was a wreck, apologizing for getting hurt. Silly goose.

According to the dentist, she has a second degree fracture. I have no idea what that means, but we are coming back tonight to get it bonded.

(It's hard to see in the picture - it's the front bottom tooth on the left. She is looking forward to showing all her friends her hockey-girl smile today.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Art school

When Lexi isn't begging for a hamster or singing along, in raucous harmony, with her Hannah Montana CD, she can be found at the dining room table, elbow-deep in art supplies and paper. And I don't mind. She is content and I love that she is creative. However. The neighbors probably can pinpoint when I ask her to feed the dog or put her laundry away because she gets all snarly and unbearable, putting me off by saying 'just one more minute'. 'I HAVE TO MAKE ONE MORE PICTURE.' To which I pull rank and hand her the dog dish and laundry basket. I think left to her own devices, the pooch would go hungry and she would run around nekkid because the world melts away when she has a pencil in hand.

This month has been all about portraits. She draws the same girl (I think it is a self-portrait. I learned years ago not to ask questions about the resident artist's interpretations.) This week I noticed she had turned her attention over to drawing folks with buzzcuts and bald eyelids - boys. After several attempts, she finally blurted out that she was trying to draw a certain classmate, because he is so CUTE. And right there, I knew that this was different breed of observation, one that made her face turn bright red, and her breath shallow - a little foretaste of what is to come. I gave her a few pointers and kept my tone bright and cheery, although I could tell that her rendering wasn't measuring up to the splendor that is cutie-pie classmate in her mind's eye. I started pulling dinner together, hoping that the situation at hand wouldn't catapult into weepy, mind-bending proportions because despite my fistful of pills, I don't have that kind of prescription handy. Lexi continued ramping up, sighing more - making her wounded animal sounds that indicate that she is growing frustrated and fed up. A shot over the bow. I was about to start gathering Zack and the photo albums and make a dash for the door when I was met by Greg, the art master himself. I gave him my most pitiful look (I have several), the one that begs 'please talk sense into that child before I go stark-raving crazy'. And without further prodding or threatening, Greg put down his stuff and started an impromptu art lesson I like to call 'How to draw faces without committing hara-kiri 101'. Lexi resisted at first, despondent, as Greg studied the chum's picture from school and began drawing an rough sketch of his face. Soon, father and daughter were drawing in unison, perfecting his eyes, comparing notes on how best to draw his mouth. Laughter filled the house. Two composite artists, nailing their perpetrator.

When dinner was ready, the table was covered in pictures of this kid. It was sorta creepy. I don't know if his momma would appreciate this manic rendering of her boy over and over again. Some may even say this is early stalking behavior.

Maybe she should stick to Manga.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lent, light

The following post is rather long for a Friday. Discretion is advised. (Feel free to blame it on my cocktail of wonder meds, although, I must admit, I feel better today. Thanks for asking.)

Here we are two weeks into Lent, and I still haven't decided what I am fasting from, or to for that matter. We are not Catholic or Greek Orthodox, but this is the second year our family has observed the weeks leading up to Easter. I may be a tenderfoot when it comes to the Christian calendar, but I think I am running behind. It may be suggested that I give up my procrastinating ways, but it is far too late for that. How convenient. I might be beyond help, unless there is some Divine intervention.

I know many people fast from foodstuff: sugar (Oprah), meat (holy vegans), alcohol (bad Christians) or coffee (bad Mormons). I guess anything that you are beholden to counts. This leaves me with so many options - do you have all day? Oh good, me neither. It's suffice to say that I am too attached to too many earthly joys. I am set for many Lenten seasons to come.

I like the idea of striving to something, adding something to your spiritual life. (Maybe this is a sign of my religious decline. I'd rather add anything than give up something.) Consider this my baby steps towards growth, a trial run.

I have never been what you would call your go-to domestic girl. Need a recipe? Don't look at me. Want housekeeping tips? Don't look in my closets. Wonder why I don't reciprocate the dinner invitation? Don't feel ignored or unloved; I like you just fine. It's my need (some call it pride) to do everything Suzy Homemaker approved and my lack of innate domestic skills that make me fellowship-phobic.

I have made strides this year, inviting people over for dinner. Greg's birthday dinner ran smoothly - I soaked up the compliments on the Italian wedding soup, even from my Grandma. Other times, I realize I made too much food, or too little, or I forgot to make the coffee later on. I study my friends that make hospitality look so natural - what do they serve, how do they act? I think I am starting to catch on. I have also started to relax a little bit. It has become clear to me that God doesn't ask me to entertain, though it is fun to celebrate and may I admit, feel like I have impressed my friends and family. God, however, doesn't seem interested in award-winning recipes or whether I get kudos. He asks me to be willing to open my heart and my home, however humble. However simple. I think I have been missing the point.

So, I am striving to be less of a hermit - to create an inviting, welcoming place even if it makes me squirm a little. It seems appropriate that Lent will close in time for me to host Easter this year. It may not be perfect, but I hope it will be pleasing.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tip #1. Keep moving.

It's day two of the great drug experiment. I still feel cognitively challenged and sleepy, but the side effects are less profound today. I take this to be a good sign. I came this close (teeny-tiny fingers holding minute specks) to flushing the pills the way of the red-tail shark last night; I felt that loopy. But I made a pledge to stay open-minded and willing to give the doctor's recommendations a chance before I give up. I want pain relief and really, there aren't many options so I need to be patient. That's what I tell myself when I am yawning and fighting the urge to curl up in bed until the kids get home. Instead, I put on my tennies and took a quick walk.

Take that drowsy warning.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Warning: the following post....ZZZZZ

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth and attempt to write today. I didn't have any pressing engagements this afternoon. It was supposed to be me and my laptop, in blogger bliss. Me, sitting here, reading other blogs and looking up random useless things on Wiki. Instead both computers conspired against me. Blogger wouldn't work right. I couldn't find a graphic with the bloodshot eye. (I thought for sure there would be some cute druggy clipart available.) If I wasn't so rummy, I would be counting to ten, throwing a fit. As it is I don't know if I can count to ten.

I am rather adverse to taking meds; I will find a way around it if I can. I am trying out some prescriptions, hoping to get some pain relief without using narcotics or steroids. Lucky for me, there were some options available, some things I hadn't tried yet. I can note a change already (the doctor said it may take a week or two), but she wasn't kidding when she said these puppies would make me sleepy. Good thing I am ramping up slowly over the next three weeks or I, dear reader, would still be in bed.

There was a fire drill at the school yesterday while I was doing a little research for Lexi's teacher. As I stood to follow the kids out of the building, I could have sworn I saw smoke. I had a sudden sense of urgency until I remembered the pharmacist saying something about visual disturbances. I paused (until the librarian yelled at me) to think that hallucinations may be hazardous to my parenting skills, and then I considered how terse and impatient I can be when my nerves are angry.

(Um, I'll take door number three, please.)

Sure hope the school doesn't host a anti-drug campaign this week. My kids will rat my sorry stoned butt out and never look back. Well, until they get hungry that is.


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Case of the Mondays

It is late at night, getting there anyway, and I am still trying to eke out a post. I haven't sat down long enough since Friday to think much less type. I have that undefined Monday funk; I feel a little adrift. Nothing a good night's sleep can't remedy.
*****
I did write a slightly longer post at Much to My Sjogren.
*****
Check out the new search engine made just for momblogs at Scribbit. Great blog; fun way to scout out other blogs. (Just don't abandon me. I feel fragile and uninspired today.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Life, under the bus

Birthdays loom big on the horizon; all conversation leads back to the mighty joy ahead. At least if you are Zack.

Zack: Daddy, Mommy's birthday is before yours. He is smirking, mindful that his birthday is days before Lexi's - great fodder, to harass her with.

Lexi: Actually Zack, Daddy's birthday is in January, the beginning of the year. Besides Daddy is older than Mommy.

Me: MUCH, much older. (Can't resist.)

Lexi: Well, it's not like he's an old man, per se. He just has spiky hair.

Zack, cackling: Yeah...spiky hair and a bald head....

They both start giggling as I finish tucking them in to bed when I hear Greg in the distance.

What are you guys talking about?

Nothing, dear.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

To each their own

Okay, I give up. I'll admit it. We aren't reading Harry Potter, not a page. I may be the only recent bookseller that hasn't embraced the little wizard. I always figured I would be reading them with the kids someday, so I wasn't in a hurry. Well, that and the fact that I have heard folks describe it in such bloody detail, my curiousity was satiated.

Over the summer, we tried listening to the first few books on CD. (My in-laws sent them as a family gift.) The kids and I would start coloring and hanging out, until they lost interest and ran off to play. I've tried reading to them. Still no go. They just aren't feeling it. I thought all kids gobbled this stuff up.

I feel like a failure.

On the bright side, they enjoyed The Mayor of Central Park. Even Zack followed the storyline and caught all the characters. They love listening to The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. (It's required reading in the nerd recruitment program.) And Lexi is hip on The Dark Hills Divide, holed up in a corner, in sweet reading bliss these days.

So all is not a loss; we will just remain culturally backwards for now.