Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Man

It was one of those rare days that brought Michael home for lunch (he works 40 minutes away at the tank farms but occasionally there are meetings here in town) and due to a cancelled meeting, he was home early—before school was out. He came home in desperate need of a diet A&W so he asked Sam if he was interested in going to 7-11 with him—no more, “What’s a Slurpee?”!

Upon paying for their two Slurpees (I guess he couldn’t resist), the clerk told Michael that it was buy 2 get 1 free. Michael told the lady behind him to go get herself a Slurpee. Sam came home and told me she tried to give him green money for it but he wouldn’t take it. He said, “That would be a robber’s job!”.

Michael left for Fresno this afternoon. His niece is getting baptized and there will also be a party in honor of his Aunt Delores. It sounds like a great time and I hope he has a lot of fun. I know he doesn’t like to be away from us but it’s only for a few days and it’s a much needed break.

Still, it feels so strange to be sitting here in the dark without him. We’re just not apart much. There was a time very recently when I thought we should be—when I actively lobbied for it-- but a lot has changed since then. I don’t think there are many of us who realize how much effort marriage takes when we take the plunge. We think because we’re crazy about this other person that none of the rules apply to us. That it will always stay crazy. For most of us though (maybe all; what do I know?) the crazy is temporary and something more sane, something deeper develops with consistent effort and the passage of time. But what happens when the effort isn’t put in?
To his credit, my amazing husband has taken the lead and has transformed our marriage despite my best efforts to cut and run. I imagine some reading this will find it surprising (my actions and my candor) but it is what it is. I am what I am. Flawed. But wow. How great is it to wake up and realize you are loved this much. That what once seemed irreparably broken, even doomed from the start, could be brought back to life. Even more than life, back to love. I love you sweetheart.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oink

My older kids came home yesterday with lots of questions about swine flu and wondered if we have enough food and water stored if there’s a quarantine? Will they get scurvy? They worry that their bodies aren’t ready for a steady diet of whole wheat and beans and for good reason: They aren’t. They’re worried and darned if I don’t have the answers they’re hoping for.

This strain of flu is unusual as far as swine flu goes. Swine flu is common in pigs and can be passed to humans but isn’t then easily passed from person to person. This one is derived in part from human, avian, and two different types of swine influenza. The origins are unknown and it passes easily from person to person. They say knowledge is power but in this case, well, I don’t see it.

Paris Hilton was recently asked if she was concerned about the swine flu outbreak and resulting deaths. Her response was, “I don’t eat that.” How sweet is that? Okay, it’s really not but it’s hard not to wish, just a little bit, for a hole to bury my head.

Wouldn’t do any good though, would it? We’ve been warned to prepare and we’ve done a decent job of it. I could work harder in the “Now-what-do-I-do-with-all-of-this-stuff?” department but honestly, there’s no place for a lot of worry. It’s not getting me anywhere.

I read this today and was comforted:
Deuteronmy 31: 8 "And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed."

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean things won’t get ugly but it’s nice to know He’s got our back.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Facts of Life

“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life . . .” In our house you need to substitute “gross” and “perverted” for “good” and “bad”; I have to admit my attempts to infuse any kind of beauty or goodness into THE TALK(s) have gone down in flames.

I always thought I would be so good at this part of parenting because I can talk about anything without batting an eye. I just don’t see what the big deal is. We didn’t talk about that sort of thing growing up and I vowed that my kids would know they could talk to me about anything. There wouldn’t be any embarrassment or impersonal literature hand-offs. But here we are and by golly there is embarrassment. It’s just not mine.

I’ve had THE TALK with the older ones over the past few years. Having a pregnant mom brings certain questions to the fore. I always start by asking if they really want to know—I can’t take it back once it’s out there. Of course they do. And then as I start from the beginning I see their eyes widen in disbelief turning quickly to abject horror—am I doing this wrong? Maybe it’s inevitable.

So now Sierra is beginning to wonder about puberty. Her friends at school are a little older and starting to deal with certain changes. A bit sheepishly she came to me and asked what it’s about. I was thrilled! It was my chance to finally get it right. I pulled out some paper and pencil and started drawing the female reproductive system. “Are those arms?” “Really?! That’s disgusting!” Nope, wrong again.

So despite my best efforts I’m no better at this than my mom or her mom before her. I guess no one really wants to talk about this stuff with their parents, do they?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Decisions

I hate making big decisions. I turn myself inside out thinking about what the best case scenarios and worst possible outcomes could amount to. I pray but the noise in my head drowns out that still small voice. Still, it's not all bad. I've found that some of my best decisions have been the result of refusing to make a decision at all.

Case in point: circumcision. That's right, circumcision. Back in 1996 when I was pregnant with our first child, I worked for Seth Lloyd, a professor at M.I.T. He felt the need to fill me in on the cons of circumcision and gave me literature to back up his claims. My dad was in the same camp. Still, Michael wasn't so sure about any of that and his sister Patricia had plenty of good reasons to opt for it. She's a doctor so her opinion carried some weight as well. It was the days before routine ultrasounds to determine the sex of the baby and I found myself praying for a girl. I did not want to make that decision for someone.

So, the big day arrives. A month early even. And of course, it's a boy. When I'm asked if he'll be circumcised all I could manage is, "I can't say yes!". And that was that. The years have gone by and my "decision" seems to have been a decent one. I hope the same holds true for my latest "decision". Instead of getting my resume ready for one of those 4,000 jobs opening in our area, I just didn't. Yes, as far as the job market goes, the time is right. Yes, we could sure use the money. Yes, it would be mighty nice to wear nice clothes and interact with grown ups more. But then I look at the "co-workers" I'd be leaving behind everyday and I'm paralyzed. I can't say yes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mother of the Year

On Friday I had two, count 'em, two "Mother of the Year" moments. It's not what you think. For me, those are the times when you realize you're out of the running. You missed the boat. "And the award goes to . . ." not you.

Kenny is our middle child. He's not your typical middle; he never competes for attention or any of the other "symptoms" I've read about. He's generally easy going and doesn't demand a lot of attention. For example, if he gets angry he's more likely to stomp off to his room to be alone and play with his Star Wars action figures than to rant and rave for a resolution. Being his mom is not particularly taxing.

So where's the problem? Kenny has had a runny nose for weeks. It occurred to me, to all of us really, that it might be allergies. We tried Claritin with no results. I kept thinking I should make an appointment with Dr. Merkley but the thought of taking my child to the doctor for a runny nose just seemed, well, not me. So he flew under my radar with this for weeks. Finally on Thursday he asked me to take him to the doctor. Ug. Not a good feeling. We got in on Friday only to find out that he's been suffering with a sinus infection this whole time. Mother of the Year.

Later in the day he and Sam helped me clean out the van so I decided to treat them to Slurpees from the 7-11 next door to the car wash. When I suggested this, Sam looked at me and asked, "What's a Slurpee?". Huh? Yeah, that's right. I raised this kid to almost 5 years old without ever having a Slurpee. Mother of the Year . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Green

It's not easy being "green". Well, okay, it sort of is. Now more than ever it's everywhere you look. But me, I'm a little embarrassed to say, I'm not so green. There are probably a few reasons. First of all, I'm lazy. Not in the traditional sense; I mean I work hard but I work hard at what I want to work hard at. Today I spent 4 or 5 hours planting flowers, vegetables, mowing the lawn, etc. but it was what I felt like doing. Second, I saw something on 60 Minutes or 48 Hours, something like that, years ago that showed how the things we recycle actually get pitched. Things like milk cartons and other plastic bottles with lids still on them or glass jars with labels not removed. It was a great excuse to not bother. It could be that times have changed. I have no idea. And I'm just too lazy to figure it out. I think the third reason I don't aggressively seek out all things environmentally-friendly is because it feels like a bandwagon I'd be jumping on. I know, I know, it's a good thing. It can't be a bad thing to produce less waste, to take care of our world. Of course not. But I just get a little freaked out by the people I've met who approach it like a religion. A love of Earth above a love of God or even their fellow man. It feels like something way beyond a desire to be a good steward.

But here's the thing. My oldest kids go to a totally green school. And they really are learning to be good stewards of the world around them. They make me proud. Sierra now has me recycling and even told me we have a recycling area around the corner by the skate park. Baby steps. On Friday afternoon I picked up Michael Jr. at an energy expo at the local community college where he and some of his teachers and classmates were talking to folks about packing waste-free lunches. They put together a great display and even created a game for people to play when they visited their booth. It's kind of cool when your kids start teaching you. Sometimes that is. This afternoon Michael Jr. attended a lecture--something about math and the 4th dimension-- and when he came home he was so excited to explain it all to me. My brain is still reeling ;).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Walking with Dinosaurs

Wow! Tonight we took the kids to Yakima to see "Walking with Dinosaurs" at the Sundome. As we headed back to the Tri-Cities well after everyone's bedtime, three things came to mind. One, don't even bother trying to eat at Miner's on a Friday night unless you have lots of time and patience. Two, Yakima really should be closer to Richland. Yeah, yeah, I know but it's such a long, boring drive. It's sort of gorgeous in it's own way during the day, but it really does seem like the never ending drive. Three, Josh must not be afraid of anything. Those dinosaurs were amazing and seemed very life-like. And loud. My gosh, I think I've suffered hearing loss. But that kid was so, so excited by all of it. Really they all were but the other four were able to sit still in their seats, wide-eyed and amazed. Josh was all over the place yelling about how big they were; thank goodness it was so loud!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Garden Begins

While grocery shopping a few weeks back, Sam came across a display of seed packets. He was so excited to plant something so I let him pick out a few packages. He chose carrots, sweet corn, and two varieties of sunflowers. The carrots and corn will go straight into the garden but the sunflowers we could start inside. That's where the fun begins.

I had some good soil outside loaded with mushroom compost (thanks Father dear!) and Sam filled his little environment-ruining styrofoam cups up and planted away. He felt it was important that I write the names of each sunflower on the cups as well as some popsicle sticks he found.

For Christmas this year my dad built me a great set of shelves with grow lights. I hauled it out of the garage and situated it in the living room. Perfect. Sam has watched those cups for days, excitement mounting. At last he spied a bit of green with the seed still attached and in a day or so those first green leaves burst through. Now each day he tells me which is bigger, the Velvet Queen or the Mammoth.

So far so good and as of today; Josh has ignored the sunflowers, only dumping out my lupines ;).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Music

I love music. I don't sing well and I don't read music but I've got this ear. I blame it (and general laziness) for my inability to play the piano well. When I took lessons as a child I didn't have to really learn to read the music to figure out how to play it--just had to hear the teacher play it a few times, pick through it at home a time or two and I had it. Eventually (4 or 5 years later) things became complicated enough that reading was necessary and I quit. Besides, who wants to take lessons from someone with personalized plates that read, "HIGH IQ"? But I digress. I love music.

As I put the music on the computer I listen to albums. It is amazing how just a few notes will instantly take me back in time. I wonder if everyone's mind works like that.

In the past few months, in an effort to clear out a lot of clutter, I've uploaded hundreds of cds to my laptop. I thought I was done but then found another huge bin of them in the garage. The thought of putting them on Craig's List has crossed my mind but I have no idea if there's a market. And although I'm no packrat, it feels a little like selling my past.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Facebook

I'm really conflicted about Facebook. When I first joined it was amazing. I was able to talk to people I hadn't seen in years as well as people I just saw at church a few days ago. It reminded me of dorm life because you always knew where to hang out if you wanted to run into friends or where to go when you wanted to be alone. You could leave a message on someone's door the same way we leave them on each other's "wall". It was so nice after spending years of relative isolation as a mother of many.

But it hasn't been all rosy since then. At all. The most recent weirdness happened today. I responded to the status update of a friend and suddenly found myself being addressesed by someone else responding. Someone I'd supposedly gone to high school with but I was drawing a blank. She appologized for her behavior toward me in school--again a blank. And then she said something about the person I dated most of those years. It didn't make any sense and even if there was truth to it, who cares? It was over 20 years ago. There is something about Facebook that makes it so easy to revert to our old selves. The selves that knew these folks once upon a time. The thing is, these selves were not grown ups and some of them aren't to this day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beautiful!

What a beautiful day! This has to be, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year. I used to think it was Autumn but this is so much better. I love not wearing a coat outside and l love not hunting down coats for my little guys. I love how excited they get to run around in the yard and the playgrounds. I love, love, love picking out flowers and plants to make my yard gorgeous. Every year I think I've got to cut back but I never do. Always more baskets and barrels, always more perennials. I love seeing the new leaves appear, seemingly out of nowhere, on my maples and sycamores. I love telling the kids to outside and play!

"For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise."

-From For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliot S. Pierpoint

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Squirrel Rescue

Tonight Kenny ran into the house telling us he thought he heard baby ducks under the deck. It sounded possible as we've had some mallards perched on the roofs of the garage and the house. Michael Jr. went out to see and what they both found was a small squirrel doing it's best to keep away from the cats.

I came out with my leather garden gloves and picked it up. It tried to bite me and screeched like crazy while I took it to the tree with the nest in it. The silly thing kept climbing down. It was going to be eaten by the cats and I was about to give up when Michael Sr. called Cheryl, the kids' math teacher at Oasis. The kids told us she'd rescued squirrels before and maybe she would know what to do.

She came over about an hour later and collected the little guy (I think it was a boy but I didn't look real carefully) in a small pet carrier with the promise to let him loose in her cat-free yard. Good luck squirrel!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Support

Today was the McMurray Park Restore-a-thon and the kids worked hard pulling junk and tumbleweeds out of the creek, pulling weeds, and planting native plants and trees. It's always cool to see what a difference a few hours and a lot of hands can make in support of a good cause.

Yesterday Michael and I planted two trees in the backyard; a French petite plum and an Asian pear. They look great, beautiful green leaves and covered with pretty little blooms promising future fruit. We've planted them in an area that will afford plenty of sun and we've got kids willing to water them. Still though, at times it's awfully windy here and the trunks of those trees aren't particularly thick. So we took some stakes my dad left and gave them the support they would undoubtedly need.

It made me think about us. All of us. How we hold such promise. How we all need the same basics to grow and prosper. We can have all of this but without "staking" ourselves to the support of our Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ, we are denying ourselves what we really need and can so easily find ourselves bending and broken by the blustering and blowing all about us.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Knock, Knock? Who's There? It's Gilly!


There's a Saturday Night Live skit about a little girl who's always causing trouble and then with a wink she says, "Sorry!". It sounds pretty stupid and I guess it is but we laugh a lot about it around here because we've got our own "Gilly". Josh is going on 3 years old and though he thoroughly delights in mischief, he has this twinkle in his eye that melts our hearts. He breaks something, hits someone, takes a hose to me while I weed and then with a smile says, "Sorry!". Yesterday he attempted to get himself some milk. He put a cup on the floor, pulled a gallon of milk out of the fridge, and proceeded to pour. And pour. I walked into the kitchen to see him pouring milk as it flowed onto the kitchen floor. I watched with eyebrows raised to see what he would do. Of course he stomped in it like a mud puddle.

So I tried to navigate the space between laughing and yelling and explained that I need to be the one pouring the milk. But it will be something different tomorrow. The trick is going to be, eventually, getting him to understand that the expiration date on doing whatever you feel like doing and then saying sorry is running out Y.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where there's a will there's a way . . .

This past weekend my parents came for a visit and while they were here Michael and I used Dad's truck to take our mattress to the dump. While we had the truck we thought we'd see if we could find ourselves another mattress and avoid the whole Aero bed scenerio. We purchased a Tempur-Pedic mattress and were able to pick it up at the warehouse right before it closed.
It seemed perfect. And then we got it home. Sure, it was the same size as our old mattress and box springs but I guess those had more "give". Despite the best efforts of my parents and Michael, there was no getting that mattress through our doorway. Still though, where there is a will, there is a way. My dad has a very strong will. With Sawzall in hand, he made the way.

So . . . we have this new mattress. And it smells just awful. We have it on good authority that the stench will dissipate in a few weeks or so; I hope that's the case. It's really something to get used to. A traditional bed has some bounce, some give. This thing absorbs all energy expended making even crawling into it feel like effort to me (I sound about 95 years old, don't I?). Still though, it sleeps like a dream. No more aches and Michael says he's sleeping well too. Something to get used to I guess.

My First Post

I've meant to start a blog for months but waited until I had some time. That never happened so I've put off folding a load of laundry and here I sit. I probably should have thought this through more carefully . . .