Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Michael!

Happy Birthday Michael!

We got up at the crack of dawn this morning, packed up the van, and headed to Portland. Our trips west almost never head us down that route and I was excited about the drive. Admittedly, the first few hours are a snoozefest but there’s that last part full of beautiful basalt column cliffs and incredible waterfalls that make it worthwhile. While the older kids were engrossed in their gaming (because I gave in and let them use electronics in the car), Josh spent the trip staring out the window at barges, trains, the rocks and the falls. At least he gets it.

We drove to OMSI and bought ourselves a membership and an extra Omnimax Deep Sea ticket for Ellen. Yay! Ellen! We explored awhile until lunch then headed for the café to get a bite to eat and wait for Ellen and the boys. I finally convinced Josh to take a bathroom break and when I came out the kids told me they just talked to Brother Simm. Huh? Sure enough, I see Geoff, Julie, and the kids. It’s a small, small spring break!

Ellen and her boys, Jackson and Cooper, found us and we ate and headed over to the “Deep Sea” IMAX show. I always get excited about doing things like that and then reality (read: “Josh”) hits. He was very involved in getting away from us, hitting and licking a glass wall dividing us from the IMAX reels. I’m getting sweaty and anxious just thinking about it. Once we were seated I think he did alright but when it was over he was off again, intent on escape. Why don’t I own a leash?

By the way, the movie was pretty cool.

After checking out the Science Playground with the little kids and the Space exhibit with everyone, we hit the gift ship and said our goodbyes. I sure wish we lived closer to the Lines but we do get to hang out again in a few more weeks—Corrina’s getting married! Shout Hooray!

We had some time so we headed to the hotel for awhile and then out to Vancouver for dinner with the Wilsons. Now friends, I’d never met Beckie and her family—she’s a high school friend of Michael’s, but you know how Facebook works. She’s been my friend for awhile. How cool to meet her husband, father, and son! And Beaches was a great restaurant, especially for the kids. The wait staff reminded me of really awesome babysitters; they made sure the kids were totally taken care of, even taking them to get sundaes and some “treasure” when dinner was done. The waitress had all their names down and came around every few minutes to be sure they were doing okay. Beckie’s Michael wouldn’t let us pay a dime but I was tempted to slip her a $20! The evening ended with birthday cake and singing—just what I know Michael would’ve loved avoiding but we just could not let that happen, could we? Not after the awful sombrero incident on my birthday! Thanks again Wilsons! We owe you three!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Hope Her Little Red Corvette Doesn't Smell Like Compost

Today was a lot of laundry and a lot of packing. When I think about it, I can’t be sure why it took so long. But it did. It always does. I mean the beach alone requires serious thought. Water jugs to wash off sandy feet. Kites. Sunblock. Coats. Sweatshirts. Sunglasses. Baby powder to remove more sand. Chapstick. Shovels and Pails. Changes of clothes. The list goes on. And the camera! Is the SD card empty? Is the battery charged? WHERE IS THAT LENS CAP???

Tia came down to visit today and I was finally able to see for myself. Oh my goodness. My poor Tia. On Saturday she could tell something was wrong with her eye. Before long it was her mouth. Not sure it wasn’t a stroke, Dean took her to the emergency room. Bell’s Palsy it turns out. She tells me she isn’t to expect much change for at least six weeks but it should clear itself up. Something like 20% of the time it doesn’t. She’s got such a good attitude, despite the awkwardness, embarrassment, and pain. She told me she’s collecting palsies. She already had cerebral palsy; why not add another? Poor thing. I just wanted to take it on for a few hours and give her a break. Let her enjoy eating something or go out without getting stares. I guess we can’t do that, can we? So I brought her a flower to plant and a card and pretended it made a lick of difference.

Well, enough of me making Tia feel even worse. Can you smell me from there? You’ll never guess what I did at 10 o’clock this evening! (Deena and David, you, you stay out of this!) It’s definitely something I’ve never done before and hope to never repeat. And it involved quarters. Give up?

I vacuumed copious amounts of mushroom compost out of my van. Are you familiar with mushroom compost? Yes, yes it does smell just like driving past Ostrom’s in Lacey.

I am so clever. I’d been thinking about what I could get for Deena because her birthday was on Sunday but we were going out tonight to celebrate her special day and Michael’s birthday tomorrow. Hmmm. What do you get a girl who got a red Corvette for her birthday? You get creative. I bought a big pot that I thought was kind of pretty and filled it with a geranium and a few trailing accents. You know, verbena, calibrachoa, bacopa. It should be very pretty in a few months. Dad put a hole in the bottom of the pot and helped fill it with mushroom compost he brought over for me. I did a little arranging and that was that.

We met Dave and Deena at Anthony’s for dinner tonight. Who would’ve thought we’d be in for a 40 minute wait at 5:30 p.m.? On a Tuesday? Who are these people? Besides us I mean. Anyway, the wait was unexpected and dinner was a little rushed but we left in time to go catch “The Bounty Hunter”. As we hurried over I wasn’t thinking at all about the big pot full of stuff sitting behind me. At all. I was thinking about the spots on my slacks from my leaky Mahi Mahi tacos and wondering if it would be disgusting to put lip gloss on that cold sore. That’s still there. A week later. It’s become some sort of parasite with a life of its own I fear. No, I wasn’t thinking about that pot.

Thump! One quick turn and the entire contents lie in a pile on the van floor. No sign of flowers.

Now if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that on Saturday my mom and I spent an hour cleaning said van. Nuts! I kicked off my heels and climbed over the seat as Michael drove down the road. I scooped up handfuls of “dirt” (in these moments you pretend. You tell yourself it’s only dirt) and threw them into the pot. I rescued the flowers and arranged them as best I could. And it only got better. When Michael parked I fell forward and hit my head against the door. As luck would have it, I finally put a box of baby wipes back into the van yesterday so I had something to work with. Wasn’t enough to get compost out from under my nails but you know, it was better than nothing.

After the movie I passed the reorganized pot onto the ‘lucky’ couple and crossed my finger that it doesn’t do the same thing in her pretty car! Happy Birthday Deena!

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion

I sat down to write a bit ago and the computer did that sneaky thing it does so well. Sucks me into a rabbit hole of different things I want to know more about. Disks of photos I want to do something with. Photo books I need to prepare for publishing. Interests I want to explore. Concerns I need to address. And not much to show for it an hour or so later.

The wind is whipping outside. I hear yard debris (though I’m not ruling out soda cans and other garbage we find in our yard) hitting the windows and I wonder that it’s actually the end of March. So much for ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’. Not exactly what I was looking forward to for spring break this week but there is a bright spot on the horizon. I looked up the weather forecast for Cannon Beach and it looks like Thursday will be the one day in the next ten that the sun might shine. That’s the day we’ll be there so I hope it actually works out this way.

The weather’s kept the kids inside more than normal and this afternoon I found the youngest four cuddled up with each other on the couch playing with their Game Boy contraptions. I was feeling a little guilty for how much time I was allowing them to waste playing around with them but it was nice to see a little togetherness without fighting.

I’ve been meaning to mention the library again. I wrote the other day how much I love the library and especially the 2nd floor. Not long after this I heard on the news and read in the newspaper (and of course, saw all over Facebook) that some man had followed women into the 2nd floor bathroom on two separate occasions, turned out the lights and proceeded to make sexual advances. I think he grabbed someone’s leg, but I’m not sure what all else might have been accomplished toward whatever sick goal he was after.

When I first heard about this I wondered if maybe the person was mentally handicapped in some way. I know that sounds bad but I couldn’t figure out how an adult male would pick a place like that for that purpose. First of all, there would be cameras. But additionally, there’s a good amount of library a person would need to get through before they could make a break for it outside. People who do things like this are behaving in an evil, sick manner but that doesn’t necessarily make them stupid. When the perpetrator was caught and we learned it was a 13 year old boy, the stupid part suddenly made sense. I couldn’t tell you what would drive a 13 year old to do something like this but once driven, I’m not shocked that his methods were sloppy. My gosh, he’s just a kid.

Some of my friends on Facebook discussed how something like this might come to pass. I think a few of us agreed that it seems less a matter of lack of parenting than really bad parenting. I guess. I know as a mom that you can teach and cajole and nag and prod but it doesn’t always have the effects you’d hope for. It’s hard to believe that a kid from a family with parents who try would be capable of something like that but I guess you have to make allowances for the possibility of mental illness too. Because even under the most neglectful circumstances, I think stalking strangers in a public bathroom would be a pretty unusual result. One friend mentioned the evils of kids surfing the web without parental supervision and easy availability of pornography. This is a huge concern, though personally I wonder if that would lead to the stranger stalking. The truth is, I don't know exactly what it takes to flip that switch and turn someone into, as my dad would say, an excellent addition to the inmate population.

The whole computer thing is something I talk a lot to the kids about but I think they don’t really get it. They know that we don’t want them to see or hear anything inappropriate. They don’t want to see or hear anything inappropriate. What they don’t get is just how easily they can become visually assaulted. How one word, taken another way perhaps, can yield visions of perversion and human degradation that they’d never be able to wipe from their minds. They don’t get that once it’s in there, it’s there to stay. And once there, it can either haunt them or pique their interest. Either scenario is completely unacceptable.

Some days I really do want to pack up my family and isolate them. I can’t and I won’t but some days, when the wind is howling and the world seems especially wicked, easy answers are all I want.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Things That Happened Today

Josh is climbing me right now, sniffing my face. As if I smell interesting. It should be shocking but it’s normal Josh behavior. He sniffs those he loves. The fact is, he smells. He smells because he just got a hold of my last bottle of Hermes d'Orange Shampoo that I lifted from Le Meridien hotels in Munich and Paris two summers ago. I love the smell but I think maybe I’m over it at this point.

Something really crazy happened this morning. We were ready for church almost a half an hour before we needed to leave to be on the early side. It was very disorienting. I had time after we found a place to sit so I went to the library to make copies of the Relief Society announcements. While I was there I found out that the librarians really prefer this to be done by Thursday at the latest. I guess it makes sense but I’d never thought about it before. I guess I’ll just have to let everyone know I won’t accept announcements after Wednesday. The librarian who told me this has the coolest name ever. If I was writing a book I would be hard pressed not to steal it: Lurlene Lenkersdorfer. I almost wanted to tell her how much I adore her name but I thought she might think I was poking fun.

Later in church today my mind wandered from where it should be to my trip to Target yesterday. I hadn’t been in probably two months so I took a little extra time wandering through the clothes and shoes. I always have my eye out for dresses that are long enough and sleeved enough to pass muster. I stopped in front of some very pretty, classic dresses and admired them. As pretty as they were, it was sleeveless or tiny cap sleeves as far as the eye could see. Sitting there in church, I thought about how stupid that is. I mean from a marketing perspective. I know a lot of women. A large percentage of these women a) love Target and b) choose to wear sleeves either for religious or cosmetic reasons (arm flab is a very real deterrent!). I think that if Target made available more classically inspired dresses with sleeves, they probably couldn’t keep them in stock. The LDS gals alone would make them some serious coin.

After church Sierra told me that the red maple we planted in October was starting to get leaves! I’ve been wondering what it would look like for awhile. I took a few pictures of the apple and Asian pear blossoms and some honeysuckle as well. Everything is so pretty. I mean my actual yard is a vast expanse of goathead infested green stuff but those trees and bushes are lovely. Oh how I wish I knew a way to rid this place of goatheads. A way that didn’t involve rototilling and Round Uping the whole thing or paying for sod. I think there’s no magic for that.

Well, let’s call it a night. Michael Jr. just informed us of his plans to spend two hours a day for the next month learning echolocation. And of course Sierra is roundly mocking him. It will be forgotten by tomorrow but for now I’d like the clicking sounds to call it a night too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Not That I'm Falling Asleep

Michael Jr. got up early to go the temple with the Young Men and Young Women. Michael ironed the rest of the church clothes but Michael Jr. has since left his in a pile on his bedroom floor. I think it’s about time the boy learned to iron. Not from me or anything because a) I’m not the best ironer in the house and b) I would lose my mind.

This morning was an Easter program for the kids at church and it ended with an egg hunt. I figured at least some of the kids would be happy to go but only Josh seemed real interested. When I told Sam it was time to go to church he ran into the backyard and straight up the play equipment, howling, “Church is TOO LONG!” I had to explain that it was for fun. For a little bit. No white shirt, slacks, belts, or ties. Candy would be involved. Fine. *sighs* That boy needs his moral fiber cleaned and pressed.

After church we drove to the car wash next to 7-11 and finally cleaned out the van. I don’t mean a quick vacuuming, but a knock down, drag out, hour long scouring. Because it was the last place anyone remembers seeing Sierra’s phone. That we’ll have to continue paying service fees for another year and a half whether we find it or not. The four kids stood back as Mom and I took everything out of the car. Sorted through all the stuff that gets shoved in the pockets behind the seats. Under seats. Everywhere. We even wiped down every smooth surface with individually wrapped Wet-Ones we found in a door pocket because my mom doesn’t do anything by halves. We vacuumed every square inch but no phone. And no idea where to look next. The phone company has no record of its use after we returned from Yelm last but that doesn’t really mean anything.

While the kids were standing around being useless, Kenny decided to treat them all to Slurpees. It made my blood boil to see them watch the work but I also knew there wasn’t room for any more of us in the car cleaning and there wasn’t time for their style of work. I at least wanted to see Sierra losing a little composure over the whole thing but she was happy as a clam. If this phone ever does turn up, I’m pretty sure it won’t be handed over to her anytime soon. Or ever.

We had a wiener roast for lunch because that’s sort of tradition whenever my parents come over. There was also home cooked corned beef on rye, tuna salad from a tuna my parents canned, and Dad’s vegetable soup and chili. So here’s the deal. When you know they’re coming, you just happen to stop by at lunch time. You’ll be cajoled into staying and eating and it will seem like it was all their idea. There’s always more than plenty to go around. You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

During lunch Sierra told us what she wants to be when she grows up. The best job in Science. Drumroll please . . . Multi-Species Baby Tickler. Apparently they compare the laughs of baby humans with other baby primates. I’m sure there’s a huge demand for that sort of thing. Absolutely. I’m also sure she’s been reading way too much Popular Science.

So anyway, I was tired of seeing my kids playing Game Boys today so after lunch I herded them outside to plant several sedums and to lay down some rubber mulch. Oh my the wailing and gnashing of teeth! For heaven’s sake! All I was asking them to do was dig some holes and sprinkle some stuff! Eventually they settled down after learning that I could be talked into letting them go to Target when we were done to spend some Christmas gift cards. They did a decent job until they noticed the sprinklers across the street at Central United Protestant. In a flash they were looking both ways and crossing Williams to get soaked. Was it that hot today? Insane. They came back after the water was only coming on in the goathead-infested areas next to The ARC and we finished up the job. I don’t know about the wallflowers I'd already planted from last year, but these sedums are going to hold up spectacularly to the searing Tri-Cities sun and our occasional summer disappearances.

We went to Target, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart and came home with some flowers, ice cream, Girl Scout Cookies, etc. The important things. I didn’t expect to get any more done in the yard before we had to call it a day but with the help of Michael and my parents, I was able to plant something for someone’s birthday (shhhh!!!), several pots for the front deck, and a whole rock garden on the side of the house that I didn’t even know I was going to make. It’s the Kimball Avenue side so if you have a good sized rock you want to get rid of, feel free to add it to my design. Ha! That would be so cool if people actually did that.

We had French Dip for dinner, among other things, but what I remember most clearly is Dad and Sierra talking about “Deal Breakers”. Either while they were fixing the swing set or during their trip to Ace Hardware, Dad started talking to Sierra about what sorts of things were unacceptable from men. One Strike You’re Out sort of behaviors. First on the list was “He cleans his ears out with his keys”. You know, I’d have to agree. Michael Jr. was also adding to the conversation the same way he had all day. By telling us about different phobias. He’s very interested in these for some reason. Grandpa told him he has a fear of squirrels setting up housekeeping in his shorts, but I’m guessing that’s not a fear Michael’s come across yet!

Oh yes! I wanted to mention this stuff Michael bought for me today. He gave it to me after dinner and it's called LypSyl. I'd asked for some Blistex today thinking it might soothe my cold sore a little (I swear by Abreva in the very, very early stages but this time it didn't do a darned thing or I just didn't catch it as soon as I thought I did). He bought me the Blistex but also this other stuff because it said it was Extreme Cold Sore Relief and it was on sale at Rite-Aid for $0.99 instead of the usual $6.99. This stuff was great! It completely relieved the pain and although my lip still looks like raw meat, at least it now mostly only bothers OTHER people.

We watched “Better Off Dead” tonight and as usual, Dad was fast asleep after the first half hour. As I sat here writing in the living room I heard my dad tell my mom, “It’s not that I was falling asleep. I was just no longer awake”. He lay there for awhile asking her questions about what happened in the movie even though he’s seen it several times. It’s sort of hilarious listening to my parents discuss the plot in earnest before they fell asleep. And now it’s time for me to say goodnight. It’s not that I’m falling asleep. I’m just no longer awake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In the Dumps, Down in the Mouth

Mom and Dad got here this morning. Skipper seemed ready to turn himself inside out with joy, jumping up, up, up, up to lick Dad’s face. I think he was very happy with us (because we let him sleep in our beds and aside from seared flesh and chasing cats, there’s nothing he loves more) but I do think he wondered where Dad was. At our house he could aggravate several cats (at home Bagheera won’t give him the time of day) and it went as far as Bobcat losing a claw over it. I pulled it out of Skippers head a day or so ago. That almost seems like it would be more painful to the cat but who knows.

Dad’s got several projects going on around here but I stayed out of the way this afternoon. I worked on weeding the bed under the living room window and getting it ready for some sedum I’d like to buy tomorrow (2 for $10 at Fred Meyer!). I just didn’t feel fit for company. I know I’ve gone on and on about it but this cold sore is kicking my butt. I’ve had a number of them over the years but nothing like this. I’ve had headaches for the last few days from the pain. And to add insult to injury, I’ve developed several canker sores on my tongue. In a perfect world I could crawl under the covers right now and wake up in a few days when this has run its course. It’s totally uncool to have my parents here and all the delicious food they make with this going on. I’m enjoying nothing. Okay, pity party’s over.

Dad and Mom brought the truck and trailer over today so we could make a dump run. We had a couple of old recliners to get rid of, one of those swings with a canopy that the sun had got the better of, and so, so many sycamore leaves. I think I’ve mentioned this before but one of my favorite things is to throw things into the open containers at the dump when there’s glass left by a previous dumper. I’ve thrown things through plate glass windows, shower doors, and today it was a box of canning jars. It seemed a waste but there wasn’t a safe way to salvage them. When it was time to off load the recliners, Dad decided to throw them into a neighboring container. This one was maybe half full and I took a picture of Sierra helping my dad launch it. The next thing I knew he said, “Take a picture of this!” and he hoped right in! The kids were amazed! I wasn’t surprised or anything, just real glad there wasn’t anyone there to give us a hard time or ban us from the dump. Because man I love the dump.

Amid coolers full of food, half barrels of mushroom compost, a rototiller, and various and sundry yard and garden items, Dad had a special gift for me. My very own smoker! I’ve been wanting to learn how to smoke meats (brisket in particular) for awhile and now I’ve got something to work with. Tomorrow we’re going to pour a cement pad for it out by the garden shed and I’ll be set. I’ll have to start looking up some techniques and recipes and see what I can come up with.

I think I found something to wear to Corrina’s wedding. I saw it in a catalog that came in the mail and it was advertised as being perfect for women with essentially no waist. Well friends, that’s me. So I put it in the “cart” and I looked around some more to see if there was anything else I might be interested in. Michael was on the bed behind me and perked up when I came to the swimsuit section.

“I’d rather see you in that.”

“I wouldn’t.”

“But I have a chance with you.”

I pretended to be a little offended but it was funny because, well, because I have a warped sense of humor.

What a strange night. We watched “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and by 9 p.m. it was lights out. I better hit the sack too; I’m sure tomorrow’s a big day for one reason or another.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something Worth Remembering

[Warning: The graphic and boring nature of this post may nauseate/put you to sleep. It’s written as a continuation of my efforts to journal about times I’m sure to eventually forget. After reading this you may wonder why I’d want to remember.]

Now where were we? Oh yes, Sierra was born. On Thursday August 13, 1998 at 9:52 p.m. This was the start of a rough few weeks for me. I was happy to have my girl but nothing seemed to go anywhere near as planned. To begin with, my hospital experience was awful. Never before or since have I had nurses that were anything but helpful and kind but this was nuts. My catheter wasn’t emptied when it needed to be and if I pushed a call button for help, it took a very long time to hear from someone. I remember vividly pushing that button at a time when Sierra was crying and it was very painful to get up. No one came so I stood up to make my way over to her. As I did, the catheter leaked all over my feet. When the nurse walked in to see what I wanted, I explained and asked if she minded changing Sierra’s diaper. She said I needed to do it myself because soon I wouldn’t have other people to rely on. I couldn’t believe it. The same woman lectured me, gosh, how do I put this delicately? If I didn’t have any luck in the bathroom department, I wouldn’t be going home. I really wanted out of there and I found myself in tears praying for it to happen. Add this to all the hormonal issues that would be sort of expected after giving birth and I was a train wreck. When my doctor came to see me Saturday morning I asked him if I could just go home now. Please. He didn’t like the idea but gave in.

It seemed like things were improving till we got to the car to leave. We had my brother’s Nissan 240SX and it was small enough that the car seat would only fit if the seat in front of it was pulled all the way forward. I had the honors as Michael needed leg room to drive. I wasn’t comfortable but oh well. Then something really weird happened. I completely lost my mind. I totally freaked out. I had a full blown claustrophobia-induced panic attack right there in the car. I’ve never experienced anything like it before in my life. It was scary as heck.

Michael flew out the next day and I began life caring for two kids. In retrospect I kind of amaze myself—why didn’t I ask for help? I’d only had a c-section just three days before. I guess I didn’t think my mom could take time away from the office. But anyway, Sierra was an awesome baby, sleeping four hours at a stretch and she’d go back to sleep right after nursing at night. It should’ve been bliss, I mean I had oxycodone from the surgeon and hydrocodone from my doctor. What else did I need? (Truth be told, I actually hoarded those and at a few later dates was sort of glad I did.) What I needed was a breast pump.

I was in some serious pain in that upper region and I knew I needed a serious, medical-grade electric breast pump. I called the hospital but theirs were all rented out. I called everywhere I could think of but with the UPS strike, they simply weren’t available. The next best thing would be a battery-operated option so I picked one up at Tim’s Pharmacy. And it didn’t do a darned thing. Turned out to be part of a recall. So anyway, I was a pretty touchy, pretending to be happy, grumpy girl for a bit.

Two weeks after Sierra’s birth it was time for the flight home to New Jersey. I’m not sure how I would’ve managed if my mom hadn’t come along with us. She sat with Michael Jr. near the middle of the plane and I sat with Sierra on my lap in a window seat in the last row. Now this shouldn’t have been a problem. I’d flown across country several times with Michael Jr. and each time I sat in a window seat with him on my lap. But clearly, I was still in a very bad place. As soon as someone sat next to me, I began to panic. I can’t get out. I can’t get out. I can’t get out. This thought bombarded me in an endless loop. I didn’t know what do to. When the tears began to spring from my eyes, I pushed a button above my head for help. A flight attendant arrived and asked what I needed. I told her I needed to move. I couldn’t sit there. I was completely embarrassed and the tears wouldn’t stop. She told me that she was sorry but we were ready to leave and there wasn’t another seat available. Additional panic. Then a lady in front of me asked if I’d please take her husband’s aisle seat; he’d love to sit by the window. An angel from heaven. She talked me down from that cliff I felt I was on and got me through the flight. This is the part that’s worth remembering. This is what I hope I never forget.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Today was fast and furious. I made myself a list as long as my arm of things I needed to do before my parents come on Friday and I got a lot of items done before the boys left for school. When I walked back in the door after taking them I noticed that Sam’s photo on the wall looked different. Someone already moved the star this morning.

A star sticker showed up on Sam’s picture a week or so ago and every day someone moves it. Some days it’s on one of his eyes, on others it’s on his forehead or cheek. My mom gave the kids a package of stickers awhile back and for whatever reason, they don’t leave any mess behind and they peel off easily. So anyway, I decided I’d add a few extras and when Sierra caught me, she had a fabulous idea. To her and to her only. She pulled out the Vis-à-Vis pens and more stickers and defaced the whole lot of us. Michael Jr. made a big fuss about the pencil-thin mustache she gave him but so far no one else has complained much. Even Kenny with the starry eyes and dreads.

I dropped off Michael Jr.’s application to Delta High School this morning. I sure hope he gets in but we won’t know till, well, I guess I should’ve asked because it’s going to bug me not knowing. Anyway, there’s a lottery involved and I guess his chance is as good as anyone else’s. How good that chance is, I don’t know.

Desirée and I did a little visiting teaching for someone else this morning and I was able to meet someone new. It’s funny, but it never occurred to me to ask a member of the Relief Society Presidency to make visits when I couldn’t or to join me when my companion was unable. I wonder how many other examples I could find of ways that I do things the hard way? Don’t even say it! But seriously, I think I reinvent the wheel on at least a bi-weekly basis. I need to let people help me more.

Did I mention I have some pretty Awesome friends? This morning Tia showed up and brought me a treat to make me feel better about the freakishly nasty growth on my lip and she even picked up a few gallons of milk for me later in the day. There are times when really the only reason I’m making a grocery store run is because we’re out of milk. This would’ve been one of those days. And yesterday Desirée even offered to come help me clean! I turned her down but it was less pride (you know I have none) and mostly because what I have to do is more like putting things where they belong. Seriously, when I finally decide to clean out the garage I’ll be all over the help. *hears crickets chirping*

Josh and I sorted through Michael Jr.’s room today and he “helped” by picking up everything at least once and asking if Michael got it for his Christmas or for his birthday. I love that little bugger but cleaning and sorting around him is like running up the down escalator. In the end though, it's sorted out, clean, and ready for Michael to keep it that way. There WILL be inspections because I’ll be darned if I’m doing that again.

Sierra’s room is all Spring Cleaned and something very cool happened while we were working on it. Sierra started talking to me about different folks and their respective drama in the Book of Genesis. She said that when she’s in class on Sunday she always has the answers because she read the Orson Scott Card “Women of Genesis” series. I loved those and after she FINALLY decided she didn’t hate reading, I gave them to her (Thanks Stephanie Meyers! From the bottom of my heart. I know you will never read this but you’ve made a reader out of my girl and I will never, never be able to thank you enough). She devoured them and now reads for hours a day. Still hard to believe. But anyway, I asked her if she wanted to read the chapters in Genesis that her teacher would be studying for the next lesson. She dug right in and is finding that it makes sense now in ways that it didn’t before she read the novels. I’m so happy she’s reading the scriptures on her own but then again, it is Genesis. If it were made into a movie it would be at least rated “R”. I hope some of that goes over her head. Now that I think of it, there’s an awful lot of awful in there. It reminds me of last Sunday when Michael Jr. overheard me singing, “Here’s to you, Mrs. Potiphar” to the tune of the song from “The Graduate”. He’d just learned about her overtures and knew just what I was singing about. Ah religion. It’s not always rainbows, olive branches, and white doves, is it?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Parable of The Lord and The Hot Tub

A woman from J.C. Penney called yesterday and told me that they were having trouble replacing the cushions for the living room set we bought a year and a half ago (and wrote complaining about two months later). Michael kept up with the problem until today when I was told to pick out something new. A truck would come for this stuff. Well that’s exciting and way more than I expected. Unfortunately, it’s still J.C. Penney furniture and I’m not real sure what to choose. I’ve had a lot of friends suggest leather but it’s a risk with the cats. They haven’t destroyed our furniture but we do catch them from time to time sharpening their claws on an end of a sofa. I think I’ve decided on a style that comes with washable slipcovers (if you Google “Linden Street Friday Sofa Group” you can check it out). It’s probably still poorly made but at least I can keep it clean. How’s that for enthusiasm? Well, I didn’t have much of it today after battling this cold sore and learning that my e-mail account’s been hacked. Apparently I’ve been sending strange, probably evil, e-mails to EVERYONE all day.

My cold sore has reached previously unseen proportions. In fact, when I walked in the door tonight, my oldest son looked at me and started freaking out. It really is awful. And yet I still went out tonight. In light of how much this thing hurts and how sleepy I am, I’m a little surprised I did venture out but I knew I’d be glad I did. So I texted Tami, bribed her with M&M cookies (she may have come anyway; just saying), and we headed to Patti’s house for our Ensign group. No, meeting. I think that’s what we call it.

This month we were set to discuss an article in the current issue of the Ensign magazine entitled “Learning through Life’s Trials”. It’s a serious message and we were a bit of a somber group for awhile. Daring to veer off-topic here and there but you know, I think we pretty much stuck to the subject matter. Let me see. Can I distill it? I’ll try.

While wandering through this earthly life, chances are, we’re going to have trials. Things will go badly from time to time. For some it may be all they know. The author, Larry Richman, points out that it’s human nature to want to place blame, either on ourselves or others. He suggested we look at trials as a continuum, with Sin at one end and Adversity on the other. Some bad things may come into our lives as a result of sin. Natural consequences. On the other hand, there are plenty of trials one can experiences that have only to do with being mortal or the choices others have made. The trials that fall somewhere in the middle are difficult to assign blame to and the truth is, blame isn’t useful anyway. What matters is that we take responsibility for what we can and figure out what we can learn one way or the other.

This was actually given as a devotional at BYU-Idaho and he ended his talk with this: “I testify that each of us has the strength to bear each challenge in life because of who we are, who God is, and who we are together”. That love, love, love that.

At one point Patti told us about an experience she had in her hot tub awhile back. She was sitting outside when suddenly and unexpectedly, the jets directly in front of her turned on. She was startled but then decided to turn and face the moon and let those jets remove the tension in her shoulders and back. She told us the jets reminded her of adversity and if we turn to face the Lord and let the adversity strip us of our stuff, if we let it do something for us, teach us something, we’re getting somewhere. The Parable of The Lord and The Hot Tub.

Well, after all that heavy business she broke out the Klondike bars and brownies. We talked and enjoyed each other for a little longer, then left. Or at least we thought that’s what we were doing! As we were walking out Patti decided we needed to try her rice-filled hula hoops she uses for her fitness class at the community center. Me? No, no, no. I only faux-hula on the Wii. And only that once at Berta’s house. As far as you know. But anyway, I tried it, failed miserably, and vowed I might try it again one of these days. Maybe. Tami, on the other hand, well now, she was Fabulous! I’m sure she must have some secret hula life we aren’t aware of.

Well, it was a good night, a late night, and soon it’ll be time to put this cold sore to bed. Keep it’s extinction in your prayers dearhearts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

She's Long-Winded

I tried something different in the crock pot tonight and the reviews were mixed. Come to think of it, it was just Kenny who stuck his nose up at it and that’s nothing unusual. This was just a seasoning envelope I found near the taco seasoning packets and it called for two cans of stewed tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms, and a few pounds of chicken. I served it with some spaghetti noodles, etc. and it was decent. But Kenny just pushed his plate in front of him, folded his arms on the table and put his head down.

I really don’t know what to do about this sort of thing. I mean I could send him to bed without eating, I could insist he eat some (this is the route I go), or let him have cereal or something. I feel he needs to be open to a variety of foods so it does bug me. Apparently it bugged Josh too because when he realized Kenny wasn’t eating he started yelling, “Be manners Kenny! Eat it!” over and over. I think this may have been what prompted him to finally just eat.

I looked in the mirror this afternoon and suddenly realized how stressed out I’ve become over the past few weeks. There is it was on my lower lip; an ugly HSV1 outbreak.

I hate cold sores. Sort of stupid to say; no one likes them. But they’re just so awful. They’re ugly, they hurt, and they come precisely when I want to hang my head and cry. I put on some Abreva and I’ve had good luck with it in the past but right now I can feel the disgusting thing throbbing. It reminds me of our move to New Hampshire back in the Fall of 2000 which reminds me that I meant to continue writing about our time back east. If memory serves, I left off with my flight back to Washington with Michael Jr. to wait for Sierra’s birth and our house to be finished.

Let’s see. I had a while until Sierra was expected to arrive on the scene—we left for Yelm on July 4th and she wasn’t due till late August. Before we left Boston, when I knew I’d be in Washington over the summer, I made a special trip to Newbury Street to a maternity boutique and picked out a little black dress for my 10 year high school reunion. This was before the days of being able to buy nice looking maternity clothes at stores like Target. I was also willing to buy a fake diamond ring too, if necessary because I wasn’t showing up alone, 8 months pregnant without one. As it turned out, my ring fit through this entire pregnancy and I also had almost no back pain troubles. For the record, the birth of each of these boys has been heralded by fat fingers, pitting edema, debilitating back pain, and a posterior exit strategies. Like monkeys! I wonder what the odds are of that.

So anyway, I went to my reunion, had a great time catching up with friends and all that. My parents arranged for me to see a doctor in West Olympia and he agreed to induce me two weeks early. I made the request because it was when Michael could get away from work for a few days. I kept hoping I’d just go into labor before this. Michael Jr. was born almost a month early so it seemed possible. Just didn’t happen. So Michael flew over and we checked into the hospital on the 13th of August and I was given a pill to start the ball rolling. We went to the mall and walked around, spend some time at Barnes and Noble, but by the end of the day, nothing much to show for it. I suppose we should have let Nature takes its course but we didn’t. My doctor decided to hook me up with a Pitocin drip and at that point I knew I was in trouble. I had one with Michael Jr. because when my water broke and hours later nothing was happening, we needed to move forward. I hate this stuff. It does stuff to a uterus I’m sure God never intended. But anyway, I was strapped in for that roller coaster ride again.

What happened next would change the course of the evening a bit. After struggling with serious contractions for awhile, my doctor did an internal check. He looked at me and said, “What I’m feeling is either a cheek or a cheek.” He couldn’t be sure if she was coming out head first or if this was a frank breech situation. An ultra sound was performed and low and behold, she’s coming out rear first and the cord was wrapped around her neck. After explaining the options, we felt the safest bet was a c-section.

This was unfortunate on several levels but the one I remember most vividly was that I’d eaten a tremendous burrito Michael brought me for dinner. That’s sort of a no-no before surgery. The nurse assured me that I’d be seeing it again sooner rather than later and they wheeled me off.

I know that it’s not uncommon for women to schedule c-sections even if perhaps they could have a vaginal birth. I know lots of women have repeat c-sections after an initial, very necessary one. I was never going to fall into either of those categories. This was the grossest thing I’ve ever experienced and had no intention of repeating it unless there was NO other alternative. I can’t express how creepy it felt to have hands inside me, pushing and pulling. No, you can’t feel the pain but you can feel the pressure. It’s like going to the dentist. You can’t feel the pain but you can feel and hear that something is going on. Additionally, staples across the abdomen are a real drag. I consider myself lucky; I was able to have three more births without the need for surgical intervention. I also consider myself lucky because my surgeon was a woman who’d learned a few things from her father-in-law, a plastic surgeon. Not that I’m a bikini wearer but if I was, well, a c-section scar wouldn’t make the Top 10 List of Things I’d Be Embarrassed About.

Wow. I’ve been writing and writing and I’m nowhere near telling the story of my multiple cold sores. Oh well, another day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Way or The Other

I chose the gray dress this morning with a little bit of trepidation. It’s a serviceable dress; it covers the bases but I only have one pair of shoes that really go with it and they have 3 ½ inch heels. They look so good but man, I wasn’t built for these things. Technically, none of us were, but you know, I think some women pull it off.

Because I don’t have Caller I.D. I answered the phone this morning to a request to say a prayer in church. It’s no big deal but as I sat through sacrament meeting, I kept envisioning myself tripping on the walk up to say the closing prayer. It would have been so funny but no one would understand that it was funny to me too and would see my laughter as nervous overcompensation. An awkward, instead of reverent, silence would ensue and I’d be assaulted with kindness on the way to class.

I made it up to the pulpit without losing my footing; so much for my overactive imagination. I thought I was home free until I caused a scene in Relief Society. During the announcements I put a clipboard and binder on the folding seat next to me. Without thinking I put my hand on the back of this seat and leaned into it. Instantly the seat flipped up, my clipboard and binder hit the floor with a thump, and my arm followed! One way or the other I was going to make a scene.

“Are you okay??” I heard several people whisper.

And do you know what? I’m great. Great and sleepy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm Actually Home Today

Believe it or not, it’s the weekend and I’m home. Seriously. I’m not kidding. The first time in a month, I think.

Not that there weren’t other things we wanted to do. I was hoping to take Michael Jr. skiing for the last time this season but after car repairs this week, it felt like a bit much. We also considered going up to Spokane to the USA Volleyball Pacific Northwest Qualifier to see Jacqueline play but we opted out for the same reason.

Knowing we’d be home I made a last minute call on Thursday afternoon to see if it was too late to sign Sierra up for the Expand Your Horizons conference at WSU today. As luck would have it, there was room. This is a very cool thing for girls 6th -8th grade and we’ll definitely sign up next year. The girls get cool messenger bags with a calculator, paper, pen, etc. and they attend 4 or 5 workshops lead by women in different careers. There were several to choose from but I think since Sierra and her friends only decided at the last minute to go, their choices were determined by the girls who signed up and didn’t come.

At the end they were all asked to write down the name of the class they felt they got the most out of/ enjoyed the most. Sierra chose Mathematics. I do think if she could’ve gone to the class taught by the pilot, her answer would’ve been a little different. She seems to think that would be the way to go.

I think about careers and educational choices for her not infrequently. She’s interested in math and science as well as writing so I think she could be successful at whatever would interest her. What I’d like to do is help her find out what careers are more conducive to motherhood. There are more than one might think but it isn’t always obvious. I recently read a list of these types of jobs and Free Lance Writing came up first. I had to laugh; I’m sure those jobs aren’t easy to come by and enough to pay a real salary? I don’t know. The list didn’t mention Pharmacist and I thought that was a pretty good one. It pays well and a person could take shifts when it suits them. Still, I don’t think that’s for her. We’ll see I guess.

Her friends came home with us for the afternoon and I’m glad they did. Sierra’s been asking if they could have a sleepover for awhile now and I keep telling her that it isn’t going to happen until her room is clean. I even offered to help. The only stipulation was that she get all the dirty clothes to the basement and load up everything from the top of her desk, dresser, any flat surface into boxes I scrounged from the back of the 945 building. Yes, they say ‘Single-Use Vaginal Specula’ on them but whatever, they’re free. I can’t understand how this is a difficult request. It takes no thought and barely any effort. But could she do this over the course of the last several days? Absolutely she couldn’t.

It was, unfortunately, time to face the music and she wasn’t going to be able to do anything with the girls until it was done. But you know what? Instead of moaning and complaining, they all pitched in. Cranked the tunes and got it done. Wow! Now they’re enjoying “New Moon” and pizza; the perfect reward for these three. The boys aren’t impressed and their running commentary may get someone injured before it’s over.

Kenny had a soccer game this morning—the first one I’ve seen this season. Unfortunately we were playing a team that always creams us. They are good. And for whatever reason, the ref continually neglected to call offsides. Like Michael said, they aren’t at an age where they have real refs or that something like an offside offence is reliably called when it happens. It’s usually parents or friends calling the games and you get what you get. And even if offsides had been called, it wouldn’t have made a difference. We were going to lose. All of this made our coaches verbal fisticuffs, his yelling tirade across the field a little embarrassing. The last time we played them there was pushing and elbows flying. Eventually the coach just ended the game. I guess I could say we’re lucky this isn’t the norm.

Did you hear? Spring is here! I planted some of my succulents and bought three more. And I was so impressed with my frugality; I took one $2.99 pot of hen and chicks and split them up six ways. This is Awesome! What? You don’t think it’s completely awesome? Give it time; you’ll come around.

Well lovelies, I’m going to cut and run. I want to check out the new Grocery Outlet in Kennewick and as I’m craving wings, we’ll try out Wing Stop. And don’t get any crazy idea when I say “craving”! If you’ve ever had a fleeting thought, a passing wonder, the answer is that the suburban breeder phase is over and we’ve moved on to the next portion of the show where we laugh at people who become grandparents before us. Life is Good.