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Thursday, July 31, 2008

bored kids get chores

It took him all summer to say it.

"I'm bored."

I thought I had broke my kids of this annoying habit during the winter when I would give them chores in response to this complaint. A languishing plea to be entertained.

Being bored, even in a house staged to sell, tells me that there is an imbalance in the force, Luke. It means I haven't divvied life's tasks into the all play I think it should be.

(The Casa de Milton believes in equality; leisure and hard work are equally encouraged and embraced, for each member of the family.)

He said it and he wished he could change his answer. I think he meant he was tired.

But not to worry. I bet I can find something to occupy his time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I want to believe

x files

I owned my X-files Inner Geek adoration and was duly rewarded: Check out Dave & Jen's X-files treasure trove.

(So much Duchovny, so little time.)

Government conspiracies bringing you down? Wordless Wednesday might be the cure.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

because I must ask

Years ago, I had a lovely roommate that loved to plan parties; she was a runner with green eyes I envied. There are plenty of reasons everyone adored her and I couldn't argue with a one of them, but boy was she indecisive in the mornings.

She'd come in my room each morning, with hangers in hand, needing wardrobe assistance. The fact that she looked divine in just about anything didn't matter; she wanted my opinion, standing in front of me while I did the pantyhose dance before I dashed off to work.

Well, I guess I've hit a snag and need to bug you, dear reader, for your assistance. So I stand figuratively before you with the following question: What would you wear with a strapless dress? And yes, we are speaking bras here, and my utter lack of boundaries suggesting therapy may be in order.

Backstory: I found a Magical Dress for my upcoming trip to Bermuda. I proposed to it just last night, after I put it on (again). I don't usually carry on with clothing, so this says something.

But I tried it on in a fitting room on my way to Jazzercise, with a sports bra. Score one for effective use of time; Subtract two because I didn't understand the ramifications of a strapless dress since I haven't worn one since my first affair, with my wedding dress.

A.) I could go bra-less, oh yes I could. It is lined and has boning and I look rather trim, though flat(ter) chested this way ala Little House on the Prairie Sylvia, binding herself with what looks like an Ace bandage.

Or

B.) I could finagle a bra under the dress, taking what nature gave me and giving it serious oomph, ala The Other Boleyn Girl Natalie Portman. This option features more cleavage and less oxygen.

Please ponder and vote -----> in the sidebar if you are so inclined.

My dress and I thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

staging, the downfall

Mild summer cold. Check.
Letting young artists have free reign of the dining room table. Check.

Hubby caught up in a novel, needing downtime. Check.

VBX finale/BBQ/horse rides/kids never want to leave. Evah. Check.

Beds stripped, sheets in dryer. Check.

Best idea all day: Let's go see The Dark Knight.

So, we did. And after 2 hours and 45 minutes of homicidal clowns and knights of various colors, I check my cell phone and listen to the message three times because I can't seem to register that just minutes before the movie ended, someone opened up our front door and is taking a look-see tour, while our home is a little south of perfect.

I hate screwing up.

Epilogue:

Opening secret compartment of my purse to use special towelettes to wash my glasses while Greg starts the car, moments before we jet, the better to see Joker with.

You'll never guess what else I keep in there, removed in a hurry and left next to the microwave in my stupor.

Yes. That.

Makes me so proud to be a woman. Ack.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

the Busybody

I crossed paths with her just the other day.

I wanted to duck, to become invisible, but it was too late.

The Busybody got me.

Busybody is a sad woman, vacillating between Debbie Downer takes and questions about my children. She doesn't seem to like any teacher; she seeks to compare our children, put hers on top.

Her need to swap notes comes from an insecure place, from fear and a little boredom. Conversations with her make me want to express deliver antidepressants to her door.

Still, the questions about my kids' activities wear me out. Questions about this fall - 'Why haven't you moved yet?' - are even more draining, slowly dripping from her lips.

I turned my head to the park, my eyes fixed on my boy while she asked me why he wasn't doing this or that activity. Asking questions that would have seemed ludicrous back when I was seven and time, not scheduled activities, was my oyster.

And I said something that surprised me: 'He knows what he likes. I guess we'll look at other things when he shows an interest.'

It seems obvious to me. Lexi had been gone all afternoon and Zack had entertained himself with his hat, galloping around the house while I laid around, a little under the weather with a summer cold. He is tickled to help me around the house; he has a happy heart.

There will be time enough to compete, to build a resume. For now it is summer and to be a child - root beer floats and singing - is enough.

Friday, July 25, 2008

not at all like clint eastwood

You know those award shows, when the recipient of the pretty bauble can't be bothered to actually show up to receive it. Because they are above that or below that, or some such nonsense.

Well, I am feeling a bit like that with none of the bravado, and all the chagrin because I forgot to thank Stephanie for my award last week:Even after she brought me back BlogHer swag. (I'm unworthy.)


Look what was inside:

Because there are days when this could become my motto. Tattooed on my forearm.

I started blogging because it gave me a place to write, to monkey around with words. I keep blogging because I found a community of women that stun me with their astute observations, their witty words and their brutal honesty.

And as dopey as that might sound, it makes me feel just a little less lonely in the world and often these women make my day:

Bad Mom (Yes, she has the award already and is one of my closest friends IRL, but whatever. More goodies for her.)

Flutter

Frog and Toad are Still Friends

BeanPaste

Thursday Drive

Temporary ? Insanity

REECE

Bloggedy Blog Blog

SusieJ

Mrs. G

BlogThisMom

My math is all wrong, and I haven't even named half the blogs I adore, proving I can't do a meme or award right to save my life.

But this is a start. If you've got a moment, go check them out. They are amazing...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

bermuda shorts, now with fringe

Greg's company sent us a package last week, outlining our upcoming trip to Bermuda. We reviewed the activities and I found it particularly helpful that they spelled out what we should wear for every occasion considering my often frumpy mom status.

(There was no mention of adidas track pants.)

Bermuda sounds like my kind of tropical island: giant turtles, pink sand, crystal caves (88 steps down, my brochure informs me).

And a modest shorts law, mandating knee length shorts which is funny because my upper thighs have been trying to pass similar legislation for years.

So I have been trying on sundresses - who keeps wrecking the zippers! stop that Cinderella's sisters! If it doesn't fit, you must proceed to the corner with a flask until you feel better! - and generally torturing myself with this business of shopping that I don't do well.

I only know I have but one shape


And I needed something dazzling for the Think Pink! awards night. Feast your eyes on the additional 40% off dress I landed yesterday:


It is nearly strapless and it fits like a glove, a glove that will be closely watching what she eats for the next few weeks.

And did I mention the fabulous tulle fringe on the border? Because I think I'm in love.

It's so fetching, I think I might add it to my current wardrobe.


It pairs nicely with jazz hands.

And who wouldn't love a sassy swimskirt?

(Although I think I should be drawing the attention away from my fore mentioned shy thighs and play up one of my good features, like my sense of humor.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

not your mother's vacation bible school

Warning: This record contains backward masking which may be perceptible at a subliminal level when the record is played forward.
-Warning sticker mandated by Arkansas law in 1983


$950 and some change.

The elementary school kids earned and donated over $950 for families in need in our area, handing over their piggy banks and birthday stash, doing chores for their parents at last week's VBS. I got choked up, listening to the kids clamoring to help other children, feeling capable of making a difference and then following through.

Now it's no secret I love VBS and not just to have a few free mornings in the summer. Where else can they sing songs, learn to care about their community, make crafts and eat clever, themed snacks with fabulous volunteers on the cheap? I'm an enormous fan of the ones we've attended, always welcomed as guests and treated kindly.

VBS hasn't always been such a sweet experience for me. I remember some neighbors - peculiar, spinsterish ladies - that invited us to their VBS, to save our souls because clearly we didn't attend the right church.

Or at least that's how I recall it. They were probably 30 and may have kept unseen husbands, but as for peculiar, I am right on the money.

(Now before I continue, I must say: The Peculiar Sisters picked us up each evening so my Mom missed out on all the fun while she enjoyed a little R&R at the church where I had attended preschool. And I am pretty sure I didn't give her many details until much later, because I was a private kid. No really. My mom is off the hook.)

I have some happy memories: Fun music, crafts and that was all good. But the rest? Holy melting records Batman! It was time for some heavy-handed Satanic backmasking training lest we were lose our way compliments of KISS.

The lights went down each night as they played the evil music - forward, and then backwards - so we could really soak up some Ozzy (evil); Judas Priest, (Satan). I hadn't even heard this music up until this point and each night I found myself drawn in, scared, curious. The leaders swooned and whispered words usually not meant for my ears: Suicide. Drugs. Bloody bats. Demons.

I liked the music. I was equally scared of hell. And I was probably 10.

It was bad enough worrying about someone sneaking some angel dust into my root beer, when I wasn't looking. (The anti-drug message I picked up somewhere, about drug dealers lurking, I don't know, everywhere, trying to drive me crazy with their wares.) Now I had to worry about musicians and my soul and the Beatles, NOT THE BEATLES, and the welfare of my family.

I hit every altar call that week, crying scared little girl tears and offering up terrified prayers, certain, like those bands, that I would be damned to hell and clueless to how Satan had tricked me.

I think that week was part of my development, seeds sown that would one day lead to rigid black & white thinking, my search for perfection, an obsession with doing things religiously right that would stay with me for another decade.

It was why I agreed to be baptized twice at 15 because my elbow might not have been dunked properly.

It played a starring role in my eating disorder at 16.

The fear gripped me early and often and I tried to quell it the best I could.

I am better now, a grown woman that can see this kind of spirituality for what it is. I've let it fall away.

I still wonder about those sincere sisters, that church leadership, exposing us to inappropriate images with a side of fire and brimstone. My little sister had been there with me, four years my junior; she was frightened by a clown, trying to usher her up onstage. (I must have been too busy repenting to notice.)

They finished the week with a record burning bonfire. We were not allowed to attend. By then my Mom had caught wind of the nonsense and saw me eyeing up their record collection.

But they lit up the records, down by the city park, releasing demons into the ether, claiming to hear them plead and squeal.

I guess all small towns have a few.
*****
The kids are upstairs; my nephew is playing with Zack. This was his first week going to a bible camp. He's having a blast, telling me about the funny skits. Holding my hand as we leave the parking lot of the church I screened last year, ever vigilant all considering.

It's a treat, seeing how much fun he is having. It's a treat to see it done right.

Monday, July 21, 2008

everybody was kung fu fighting; lessons from The Fat Panda

We had our first open house yesterday. Our home sparkled and shined; I think I could hear it calling out to its new family while we vanished for the afternoon, first to church, then to The Grotto for fortification and a St. Joseph statue.

Lexi browsed the gift shop, milling through saints just in case they were out of The Worker. We were both fond of the Joan of Arc, although she was rather bloody in her gown and helmet.

"Becoming a saint is hard work," I whispered, trying not to stand out in the crowd, my Protestant roots showing.

And though I didn't know it at the time, I guess I should have been glad that anything was showing because I don't think we had one guest yesterday.

No dice.

Over the past few weeks, the question comes up: What will you do when school starts, if you are still on the market here?

(Read: What the hell are you going to do if you can't sell your house in this economy? Dumb Ass is implied.)

And how should I know?

I've been strangely calm thinking this through, what another September at our old school would look like or feel like, and besides feeling a little sheepish - um, we're still here - the thought of carrying two mortgages brings on waves of panic.

I just know we will be where we are supposed to be, today or tomorrow or the fall, and I put those thoughts to rest. I'm doing all I can - hoping, praying, striving - and trying to enjoy my summer without a harvest ulcer.

*****
Have you met Po, the kung fu master?

He was destined to be a Noodle Master, but he dreamed big dreams. And ate too much. And had doubts. And was rather lazy. And fluffy.

But he became a hero.

(I am blaming my zen mood on Master Po. Greg and I took the kids to see Kung Fu Panda during our Open, Yet Lonely House and it was a scream: Great animation, great themes, and Jack Black bleeds through this wayward hero. I am so happy to give it the thumbs up.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

atta girl

dive

Lexi takes a dive. Again. She loves the pool.
(Wordless on a Saturday? Preposterous.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

faking a heart attack, or how to be seen quickly in urgent care

"What about stress? You are under a lot of pressure right now?" asked the doctor, and I had to pause while he ordered an EKG.

Two weeks ago, I was so pumped with adrenaline that I guess a heart attack could be within reason.

But the week had been good to me: A leisurely coffee date with Stephanie, playdates with friends - complete with toddlers - the VBS my kids looked forward to since last July, time with my family over the weekend that did not include renovation, and swimming lessons each night, hanging out with amazing Moms at the pool.

My heart nearly does burst with pride every time I see Lexi dive.

I couldn't imagine a more peaceful week, really. I felt content right up until my chest, shoulder and upper abs spasmed, suddenly and the severe pain lasted all night long. Several times I picked up the phone to dial 911, but I would talk myself out of it because I don't have heart disease and I AM 37.

I rationalized until 4 am when I decided it would be better to look foolish and like a nervous nelly than to ignore the pain that had rendered me speechless.

The good news: My heart is fine and I feel better. Could have been overexertion or some new symptom brought on Sjogren's - I'll be in touch with my specialists this week to follow up.

I am so relieved.

The kind doctor said I was right: It was unlikely for me to have a heart attack or angina, even with chronic illness lurking in my files. And he also said I was right to come in because women tend to ignore these symptoms, try to push it out of our minds while we care for our families and simply believe it couldn't happen to us.

I needed to hear that, and I figure you might need it too, as you round out the long days of summer, kids underfoot, chasing the sun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

be kind to strangers

The party is underway in San Francisco; you know, that one. I wanted to write some endearing post about these two...

jen and stephanie

decked out in their ecru trash tank tops. I had every opportunity to join them and it makes me sad to say I chose to hold down the fort here, even as I know I made the right choice.

I hope they are having an amazing time, taking it all in.

I can't wait to hear more about it, when they get back.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

cry your pardon

Mama Milton looked up from her laptop; the house had turned in for the night, save the air conditioner, running its marathon paces.

Her days are full of keeping the house clean for the future owners, the ones she's trying to court with diamond-shaped TP, while she squeezes in as much summer as she can manage, palavering at the pool and parks spread throughout Mid-World.

Did she say Mid-World?

Aye. She did.

Beg your pardon, sai. It's just she is peddling through Stephen King's Dark Tower series, listening to it on CD, while she has painted and cleaned and worked.

She's downright smitten with Wizard & Glass, the fourth in the his magnum opus and she can't help thinking his words have seeped in, the phrases, the fictional villages and towns.
She reckons she will move on, find her own voice again, just as the world has moved on. (How many times is that phrase been uttered in the thousands of pages she has inhaled these past few months?)

But for now, she has remembered the face of her father and will continue to hold up her in of the bargain, keeping up on her chores while Mr. King keeps her mind occupied.

Nothing like a good book, or seven, to ease boredom.

Thankee, sai.

Monday, July 14, 2008

caden turns three


Um, why are you taking my picture? That's stupidsilly. It's hot out here.

Caden? Well, he's the baby on my side of the family, though hardly a baby anymore. Look at the road rash. He was in a car accident just days before his birthday party.


We hoped you enjoyed your special day, Mr. CC. Aunt Sissy is mighty certain you did.

We love you...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

cracks

It was bound to happen; all at once the good will and teamwork broke down and I was left with two tired, overwrought kids I've come to think of as Weepy and Irritated McNeedy.

(Sometimes they are trendy and use my surname, Exhaustion, but I hesitate to hyphenate the two for it would be cumbersome at their new school I imagine.)

There were no groceries purchased this week, save a trip for some produce after swimming lessons, and even swimming couldn't undo the damage.

They cried at every turn, and I lashed out, proving once again that I will not be taking home the mother of the year award.

Even as I snarled, vacuuming before a showing, I knew I was wrong and needed to knock it off. I knew that if I was feeling edgy, so were they.

(And the fish, well, they were nearly frying and I thought of Stuart.)

By Thursday morning, I felt like I was an ad for some messed up energy drink: Seize the Day, now with meth.

I'm happy to report we turned the corner today. I saw some friends and their scrumptious babies this morning. I took a nap before dinner. I have plans that don't involve home improvement, besides some good ol' mopping. I even imagine I'm going to indulge in a little Buffy tonight, nuzzling my good and imperfect kids- we are but a matching set - and we will try to fill the cracks, in a house that heard too little laughter this week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

happy, happy birthday Dad

mom and dad at uso show
Ammy and Papa, June 2008

I've got to scoot and skaddle - that's been July's theme so far, but I'll take it over June's malaise anyday - but first, some birthday wishes.

My Dad 'retired' early from his job a few years ago, leaving him bored and with nothing to do all the day long.

Heh.

I feel for him. We lean on him hard, all the womenfolk in the family. He's carried the weight of my Grandma's demands, and they are not light. I know how that feels, that sense that others see you as available because you no longer collect a check. Available to do for them. Some of us moms can relate.

(He's working for a bit now, took a contract for a few weeks. It will probably feel like vacation.)

So, I hope you take it easy tonight, soak up the sun and enjoy that parade. We will see you Saturday, but our hearts are with you now.

Happy birthday.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm back, now with 76% less paint under my fingernails

I tumbled out of bed yesterday, sore and disoriented. Then it all came rushing back to me and my first thought was: GO! Go, dear child, and work, for you are running out of time.

(There has been a lot of self-admonishment going down, from dawn to midnight along the lines of: faster, keep going, focus.)

After spilling a bucket of tears Wednesday and laughing at the crazy amount of work ahead, I woke up at about 4 am to a monster thunderstorm. We don't get many of those here in the Pacific Northwest and it rained with a fury, and I was awake. Pumped with adrenaline. Greg came down around 5, for work and muttered 'manic' at me when he kissed me goodbye while I was dangling from a chair, removing light fixtures while watching the Twilight Zone.

It seemed appropriate enough.

But we made it. We pulled in resources, farmed the kids out and pushed our way through, fueled on coffee during the day and a stiff drink at night.

My Mom came and landscaped our front yard. She's a wonder.

My Dad came and helped Greg take a load of the packed boxes and furniture to a storage unit, among other things. He's a wonder.

And my sister? The shopper? She agreed to be our Girl Saturday, with a list in hand and eye for a bargain. She hit the town. She's a wonder.

When the time drew close and we were within an hour of our Realtor returning with his camera, we raced around sweeping, putting everything away while I hollered for my kids to get their gear for swimming lessons.

I sped away, past the lake I will surely miss when this time here comes to pass and I was amazed how much we accomplished in 5 short days.

I surprised myself. I did more than I thought possible.

I couldn't help but wonder just what else could be in store, if I applied this will and this sort of determination my writing, to my friendships, to my family.

I watched Zack float, in his big blue goggles and Lexi dive, and melted into the grass, easing into the place where good things still lie ahead.
*****
Thank you, family. Thank you, honey. Thank you, kids. Thank you, readers with your kind words and prayers and good vibes.

I am so grateful.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

blog break

I think I am having a nervous breakdown named Staging, the Realtor edition. I think his advice is solid but theamountofworkIneedtodobeforeMonday is making my everloving eyeballs bleed. That and it's end of quarter for my sweet hubby. We're feeling the heat.

(And here I used to think red was my color.)

So, say a little prayer or send me any good vibes you've got to spare - you've all been so good to me already - and I'll be back sometime next week.

Hope you all have a spectacular 4th!

beautiful day in the neighborhood

My creation
Ammy, the Arborists, Lexi and Zack

Greg and my Dad did their best arborist impression and freed the limb dangling above the garage, from Sunday's storm. What a relief.

(Can't think of anything clever to say. Just go to Wordless Wednesday, ok?)