Monday, July 31, 2006

Of gyms and stupids and hand picked eggs

I am a new woman.

I joined a gym last week and today was my first day on my journey to the new me.

This is a gym with a daycare. AKA--slice of heaven with treadmills on the side.

I have 2 months to lose 15 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like much (and it's only a dent in the monstrosity of a number I need to lose) but it's reasonable and achievable so I'm going with it. Plus, this body has spent the last 3 years either actively gaining, or only losing weight that can be attributed to baby, placenta, and some water. Yeah, so this is a big change. :)

Benja has been campaigning for the last 5 days to get me to like Taco Bell. I don't know why. Everyday at least 3-5 times a day we have a conversation similar to this:
B: You like Taco Bell or not Mom?
M: Not. I don't like Taco Bell.
B: But MOM, WHY? What do you like at Taco Bell?
M: Nothing. I don't like Taco Bell.
B: Not even a hamburger from Taco Bell?
M: I'm quite certain if Taco Bell made hamburgers, I wouldn't like them---but you can't even get hamburgers there Benja.
B: I can. That's why I like Taco Bell. Do you?

Repeat above 3 times, and that would conclude ONE of our conversations about Taco Bell. It all started because last week we passed a Taco Bell and he exclaimed so excitedly, "TACO BELL, YES! TACO BELL!" From the front seat I rolled my eyes and said, "Benja, what do you like so much about Taco Bell?" He answered hamburgers, I thought that was funny and he said, "That's so funny, what do YOU like about Taco Bell." I cannot tell a lie. I understand I may lose friends over this confession---but it needs to be put out there.

I am very bothered by the makers of Bob the Builder and whoever put Sneetches on video. They BOTH use the word stupid in conversation. I am not so uptight that "stupid" is the "s word" in our house. We have one s word, I've used it, Benja used to use it, Avee probably does, I just don't recognize it, I've tried to get J to use it---it is what it is. But stupid is not a nice word, particularly coming from the sweet mouth of a 3 year old. I have overheard the word being said on B the B, but I thought I had been mistaken. I heard it again last week and I stopped chopping chicken long enough to say, "that sh*# isn't right!"

Then Benja got the Dr. Seuss video at the library (you haven't seen cute until you see a 3 year old retrieve his own copy of the book Sneetches and "read along" to the video) and there's some rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that says something like, "Twinkle Twinkle, stupid little star" and of COURSE that's hilarious to a 3 year old. They spend days on end trying to come up with stuff that funny. Mostly it's, "Avee, you are a...a....TORTILLA head! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" so, it doesn't get too dangerous around here. Anyway, it bugged me, but I'm just too lazy to actually take this up with a one, Mr. Builder.

I know Benja will learn to distinguish between words he can hear and words he can use. But, until then, I'm probably going to complain about early morning conversations like this:
B:I'll have bunny crackers for breakfast.
M: No, that's not a breakfast food (which is a big fat lie, I know--because if I can eat ice cream for breakfast, bunny crackers are most certainly for breakfast)
B: Bunny crackers with milk?
M: Nope.
B: You're a stupid.

The conversation didn't really end there, but, out of regard for those who have DCFS on their speed dial, it ended there. Gently, lovingly, with no wet sponges being thrown at anyone's throat...

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a couple of things I saw over the weekend that really made me laugh.

Shredded Velveeta. I've never seen it before, and I never realized I had a standard for what "shredded" should mean. It was small clumps of velveeta. In a bag. To be sold. Why is that so funny to me. I don't know.

Farm fresh eggs that were "hand picked". After reading this post I mentioned to J I wanted to try fresh eggs. He said he'd heard the same thing about fresh eggs recently and he was interested too (Yes, it really is that exciting when we talk). So we got some. While we were perusing the egg display, we were scrutinizing the labels to see which farm's fresh eggs we should try. I saw "hand picked" as one of the selling points on the farm fresh eggs. So, I started scrutinizing the mass-produced-hens-on-steroids-antibodies-and-prozac egg cartons to see what "picked" those eggs when they were ready. No dice. They don't reveal the source of their pickage. Shame.

And an article about a woman who posted "Our dogs are fed on JW's" in her yard and got the cops called on her. Not by any JW's---by neighbors! I guess it's not very nice, but dang people need to lighten up. I faced some rejection as a missionary and if anyone had been that creative, it would surely have made my work and the rejection---so much more enjoyable.

I'm off the change the world, one laundry pile at a time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Magic Hands

I wish I could say, "These hands are small I know, ..." cuz I like that song and I'd like to be able to say it.

But alas, I do not have small hands. I have my dad's hands. Yeah, there's a song about Daddy's Hands, but they aren't about a 6'8" man passing down the genetic blessing of massive hands to his daughter who only ever wanted to be petite.

My oldest sister has these beautiful, elegant, slender, lotion-model in a magazine hands. Jewelry begs to take up residence upon her fingers. Even if her nails aren't "done" her hands are beautiful.

When I try on rings, I shove them down as far as they'll go on my pinky finger and try to ignore the chub squishing up on either side of the band, pretend I have hands like my sister, and how will that 5 karat look THEN?

When J and I were engaged I muttered my ring size, shamefully across the counter to the ring-sizer person, hoping J wouldn't hear me. As if he hadn't seen my hands before...

I feel the same about my wrists, but I might be pushing it to write about magic wrists.

Today as I was driving down the tollway, Avee started squawking. Probably tired of being in the car. Or thirsty. That girl drinks water like nobody's business. Anyway, I reached back my hand, she latched on to my finger and was content. Nothing changed about her situation, it was still hot, boring, and probably even a little squishy in the diaper---but now she had my finger in her grasp.

Later I was walking into a store with Benja and while I was talking to an employee I saw Ben reach for something with his greasy sweet little hand. I "gently" snapped my fingers to get his attention without breaking conversation and then "discreetly" wagged my finger at him. It's the sign (as in sign language) he designated for "no-no" when he was 13 months old. It's absolutely precious when he does it, more utilitarian when I do it. But he gets the message.

Later Benja had a meltdown about cleaning up his train set. He gets overwhelmed and says, "it's too biiiiiiiiiiiiig" and doesn't even want to start. Sort of funny, but it gets old. I believe you have to let some meltdowns happen. It's just part of expressing how they feel. I certainly don't want anyone putting me in a time out or scolding me when I want to have a meltdown about going the the store specifically for B & Jer's Half Baked and it's NOT STOCKED.... And then there are other melt downs that don't get to happen. Benja's was one of the latter. I held up my forefinger and said warningly, "One...." The mad scramble and sudden sputtering of unfinished and made up words (Benja's version of cussing me out) that ensues makes me feel like the most powerful person hand in the world house.

Just so you know, I can't think of a time I have ever gotten to 3 with Benja. I don't think he even knows what happens at 3, but he ain't the fool who will bother finding out either. I'm not sure I know what happens at 3. And no, I'm not a "two and five eiiiiiiiiiighths...." kind of counter either.

I announced to Benja it was naptime. 2 seconds later he was in the furthest corner of our palatial mansion, under a chair that was under some clothes, that was under a suitcase, that was under some more clothes. He's never run like that before so when I laughed upon "finding" him, he decided to go with my jovial mood and suggested napping there for today. With only minimal resistance, I finally got him to bed. I layed down with him and after 2 minutes of the poorest rendition of Olympic Gymnastics on a Tempur Mattress he asked me to rub his back. He was asleep in 30 seconds. I'm not kidding. He could not resist the magic of these hands.

Later when I was on the phone with my sister, Avee wouldn't stop grabbing for the phone. I let her talk. I'm one of those annoying moms who makes whoever calls here talk to my kids. I don't get out much, I need cheap entertainment, and this fulfills many needs. I love listening to my mom meow and bark at the kids or my sister try to get them to say her name first or my friends say things that they just don't want to be saying on the phone to a 1 year old, "Did you go poo-poo today?!?" etc. For Avee, it's not about the conversation, it's about the control. She wants the phone because I need it. She wants the conversation to be about her, and holding the phone helps ensure that. She also likes to practice holding it on her shoulder with no hands. That skill is important to have when you are 16 months old. So, after fighting her off long enough that it was just annoying, I just started "tickle bugging" her. One little finger that creeps up slowly and then attacks. Phone? What phone? This is the funnest bestest game EVER! And my screeching, pinching, demanding, girl becomes a delightful, giggling little angel. All because of one hand that can take on the identity of Tickle Bug.

There are lots of things these hands can't do. But I'm pretty amazed by what they can.

I bet J would like it if they'd stop punching in the pin to my debit card and single-handedly insuring the independent wealth of Sam Walton's great-great-great-great grandchildren. But whatever, they aren't perfect hands.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Like a journal, so probably not all that interesting

I'm in a blogging slump. I'm not the only one either. Is it summer? When you have non-school aged kids it doesn't seem like it should matter, but somehow it does.

Avee ate breakfast this morning in a very amusing manner. She would pick up her hashbrown and take a bite. After one bite, she put it back down and would "brush off" her hands as though they were covered in crumbs--even though they weren't. I don't know where she learned the brushing off technique; she's quite good at it. I've seen her do it in the past, but never methodically like this morning.

Benja answered the door this afternoon at 1 PM with an exuberant, "Tum in duys! I'm dressed!" I might have been embarrassed that he knew it was something worth exclaiming because of it's rarity in our house at 1 pm, but instead it just made me laugh.

Every once in a while I babysit a little 5 year old boy. His dad is in Iraq and his mom sometimes has to travel for her job. I pick him up at school, feed him dinner, he spends the night, and then I take him back to school the next morning. A few times in the past his mom has warned me that he will try to sneak toys out to take to school. I've watched for it, but he's never tried. This morning when we got to the school I opened his door and he carefully got out with a 4 inch long little matchbox-type fire truck hanging down the back of his shorts. In the back seat, squished between two carseats, he had rigged the fire truck in his undies so that he could walk "clean" into school. It really made me laugh. I made him remove it and leave it in the car.

This morning I told Ben to get dressed if he wanted to go with me to take N to school. This is what he came up with.

He went from pajamas to this. He insists on wearing socks in the summer even though he has THREE pairs of sandals because I want to avoid socks and tennis shoes at all costs. Bee boots are always his true first choice though.

Yesterday I took my niece to the Cali Pizza Kitch. It was my first time going there. Behind me were two teenage girls chatting away about boys and fashion and future plans. Actually, one girl did all the talking. I used to have friends like that. Anyway, her boyfriend was in rehab and she was really glad he was getting help and they had been together 6 months but she was gonna stick with him. She didn't drink so much to get smashed as just to get a light buzz. She wished she was a little taller so she could be a model with some agency (which might as well have been greek to me because, while I am taller, modeling wasn't even in the "shoot for the stars" avenue for me), but she might just go to hollywood and be a personal assitant for So-and-So (another name I didn't know) because she could totally do that job, she knew so much about fashion and clothes and stuff. Only, she didn't say "stuff". Kids don't say "stuff" these days. She could also totally stop smoking but she just didn't think she needed to at this point in her life.

These were two girls who had probably never wanted for anything in life. And probably never would. They were young, driving beamers, waiting for boyfriends to get out of rehab, and dressed to the nines to eat dinner at CPK.

I'd like to contrast my evening, surrounded by people like that, with a story from the town I came from.

We sent our car back to my hometown with my sister---for her to sell. She lives on a major thoroughfare and where I live, well, people just don't buy used cars.

Yesterday two girls showed up wanting to "test drive" the car. My sister wasn't even sure they had a driver's license between the two of them. They definitely didn't have any teeth between the two of them. One was wearing a shirt that said, "My mom is bigger than your mom" and they were carrying bags of groceries--mostly beer. After my sister confirmed that one of them did have a license, she let them "test drive" the car. The one driving "loved the clock, the leather, the steering wheel, the gear shift". She was gonna "call the bank tomorrow". She "really really was". She pulled into her trailer park, unloaded her groceries, thanked my sister and went inside.

At least she said thank you. Did she?

I knew how the story was going to end when my sister told me they had groceries. And yet, the laughter could only well up in me. When she finished the story and they went inside, I erupted and could not stop laughing. I don't know how people get nerve like that. I really really don't. And it's SO DANG FUNNY. My sister wanted to be annoyed, but really---how can you not just laugh at something like this?

Where I came from and where I am now aren't so different. Instead of driving Infinitis that their dads bought them, the girls in my hometown test drive them like they are their own. And while the girls where I live, they probably still have to have someone buy the beer for them---but where I come from, they just need someone to test drive them home with it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Benja's Meme

I wanted to show off my new shirt. And then mom told me to relax.

Benja got tagged by Rosalind over at her mama’s blog for his first ever Meme. I tried to get his responses but he’s....busy. I got him for about 2 minutes though.

“Want to do a blog with me?”
"You do a blog with me!”
"Uh, you can’t type.”
"You tan’t type!”
"Get over here boy!”

3 Things That Scare Me:
Monstohs and big bugs.
And ants (or aunts, not sure which)
(If you think he's a ninny for being afraid of ants....come to Texas)

3 people who make me laugh:
I make 3 people laugh.
Braxton and Brayden and Jacob.

And Amy!

3 things I love:
I don’t know.
I don’t like snakes snakes bite us?
Do they lick us?
Dad got me a snake yestowday.
Come on Benja, three things you love.
I love snakes and computers.
And I’m not going to tell you anymoh.
(I think Benja is going to be one of those kids in 3rd grade who is asked to write a creative story on any subject he wants---he'll look around at the chalk board, chalk, erasers, bulletin boards, desks, kids....and write a horror story about desks that eat erasers and turn into bulletin boards. His "creativity" comes from those things immediately within view. On the other hand, he'll probably commit the story to memory and recite it word for word on demand. Who would demand a story about eraser-eating desks though...

3 Things I hate:
Taking naps (leaving the "party")
Bedtime (leaving the "party")
When PBS doesn’t play back to back episodes of Caillou for 3 hours straight.

3 Things I don't understand:
Why we don't eat cookies and fruit snacks for three meals a day.
The meaning of “I don’t know”
Why my mom says a person can't be the earth's axis, but my sister is.

3 things on my dresser:
A hammer
An unhung shelf
A clay mold of my chubby, precious, 7 month old foot

3 things I'm doing right now:
Singing “Da wee-ohs on the bus doe round and round”
Wearing an adorable “Don’t mess with Texas” shirt and no pants (mom thinks those little navy briefs are adorable so she wins when dad tries to keep me clothed)
Pushing around a truck on the table

3 things I want to do before I die:
Play with my cousins for 572 hours straight
Buy my mom a jet
Eat popsicles all day

3 things I can do:
Understand when grownups are making a joke
Find sugary food blindfolded with my hands behind my back.
Make my mom laugh every day

3 ways to describe my personality:
Sweet through and through
Easy-going and quick to laugh
Always ready for an adventure

3 things I think you should listen to:
What is a Didjeridoo by Tom Chapin
The Elephant Song by Tom Chapin
Me say “poop” “toot” and whatever else I preface with, “Hear this!”

3 things I think you should never listen to:
Avee’s yelling or tattling because then you’d never have time to listen to anything else.
People who say, “your shoes are on the wrong feet”
The media reports on anything political.

3 absolute favorite foods:
Benja’s answers: Corn, broccoli, pineapple
The truth: Candy, cookies, popsicles

3 things I'd like to learn:
How to play Nintendo 64
How to overthrow Avee’s reign upon this household
Anything my dad wants to teach me

3 things I drink regularly:
Told, told, told, TOLD Water, but wish it were Frite
Chocolate milk, but wish it were Frite
Frite because I’ve worn my mom down.

3 shows I watch:
Bob the Boodoo
3 shows I’d like to watch if my cheap parents had cable:Dora
Blue’s Clues
Little Einsteins

Thanks Rosalind, I hope to meet you someday. I think we could be friends---mom says Avee is breaking me in for it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

31 Things I Know, Or Took 31 Years to Figure Out

Some things, like cake decorating, should be left to the experts. And, that I probably don't have to have a cake that looks like this because I won't be making it.

2. Some morning views are priceless.
(editor's note: Avee was not authorizing photo-taking by the general public, adoring fans, or close family. This first photo was taken without permission, resulting in full back diaperudity. However, upon noticing Benja's graciousness and even enjoyment of posing, a forward facing shot was permitted---courtesy of Avee's 432 moods per millisecond)

3. My mom was/is usually right. Today marks the 23rd anniversary of my surviving a trip across state line to see Savannah Smiles. A "friend's" mother took me to see a movie. My mom really didn't want me to go, I begged endlessly, and my mom made my 12 or 13 year old brother go with me. The woman picked us up from the theater intoxicated and later made us sit on a case of beer on the floor of her backseat when she was pulled over by a cop. I haven't seen that friend, or her mother, since. I wonder if my dad had a word with her when we got home. I wonder if she's even still alive...

4. I'm finally mature enough to be excited about something other than my birthday. J gets home at 2 PM!! (that's actual flight arrival time).

5. I can think of at least 57 things more traumatic than my flip-flop falling off or the ladder from my fire truck breaking.

6. The makers of Dora the Explorer should be forced to listen to her YELLING everything she says for hours, days, and weeks on end so that they can truly experience a mother's burning question of WHY? Why, why, why. Couldn't they create a clever, addictive, pretty good premise for preschoolers cartoon with a character that whispers, lives for naps, and obsesses over picking up after her self?

7. I do not respond well to feet in my face, ribs, or gut-- or punches to the chest at 6 am after mumbling, "no you cannot get up and watch tv and eat candy"

8. "Choose your battles" is sound advice.

9. Of all the really incredible women I know,

my mom is still the most.

10. I really don't like bananas.

11. Guacamole can be good!

12. Budgeting doesn't just "happen".

13. No sound makes me happier than my children giggling with each other.

14. Sometimes I lie for the sake of sentimentality---"you're beautiful" "Here's a check for 2 million dollars" and "Ben and Jerry's turns fat into muscle and stretch marks into an even, permenant tan" would probably make me happier.

15. Waking up to screen savers like this can make my heart smile.

16. Trying to come up with 31 things just because it's my 31st birthday is really more about being stupid and trying too hard, than it is about being clever.

17. Stupid is not a nice word.

18. I think I own the road. I get annoyed when people try to pass me or get in front of me or take too long to turn, or make me go slower than I want. I'm not proud of this, I'm just aware.

19. Being a good listener makes you a better friend than just about anything else you can do.

20. Being able to go to Sonic whenever you want, without having to ask for ride or borrow a car, scrounge money, or ask permission to go out isn't all it's cracked up to be. I find, car insurance, paying for gas, wasted money, and sonic blasts going straight to the thighs considerably more oppressive.

21. I do not like amusement park rides. In my younger days, Tilt-a-Whirl--bring it on. Superloop---not so much. When I was 9 or 10 my sister and I naively stepped aboard the Octopus or some other equally insane sea creature of terror and spent the entire ride screaming, "Stop the ride, we're gonna die" or "stop the ride, my vomit is getting on everyone". Just FYI, carnies stop those rides for no one.

22. I finally am better at applying lip liner than someone else.

23. I really think stupidity should be painful. I am a pretty patient and understanding person, but stupidity I just can't tolerate. Please note, I do distinguish between stupidity and ignorance. Stupidity: New employer:"So, one of your job duties will be to get the soda from the back storage closet and keep a cold supply in the refrigerator." Stupid person: "But, uh, but---I don't drink soda." I can scarcely type the words without falling off my chair in disbelief that this conversation actually took place.

24. Old friends are the best kind of friends.

25. Stop signs do not turn green. Do not wait for them to. It won't happen.

26. I still feel a little tinge of guilt for writing things like #23 because my mom really put a lot of effort into making me a nicer person than that.

27. I adore this man.

28. I will laugh EVERY time I hear my son say, "They were cones!" (or rather, "tones") and "Eat your food Tina!"

29. My creative abilities are spent at 28 when thinking up 31 things. Some may think it left at 13, but--whatever, this is my blog.

30. I think I have learned a lot about expectations, but I'm afraid I still have much to learn.

31. There is something to be learned from just about everyone we meet, and from every experience we have. I think happiness comes from discovering what.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jealousy and Guilt

These are two emotions I have rarely felt. I remember as a teenager my older, very beautiful, always-had-a-boyfriend sister would yell at me in a fight, "You're just jealous!" and I'd be completely baffled. Granted, she was older, very beautiful, and always had a boyfriend, it just never occurred to me to be jealous. After such accusations I would try to muster jealousy and I could never come up with anything. That's not to say my life was perfect and I didn't wish for things to be differently, I just didn't feel jealousy. I think it's a good thing. I'm not sure if it's in my hardwiring or if it's something my parents did. I'm not sure if other people commonly feel jealousy either.

I read an article when my son was about 18 months old, that children have to learn emotions, they aren't inborn. I don't know if I'm just uneducated on these matters, but that really surprised me. I guess I just thought that the rage that surges up in me when a fetcher in a silver BMW heading west on Legacy at 7:49 pm speeds up from behind me and then swerves in front of me only to slam on his brakes and make a sudden left turn, forcing me to slam my brakes and lose my breath and heart rate because the precious cargo behind me and next to me, strapped into carseats and seatbelts was just compromised because someone didn't want to wait 3 more seconds to make his right turn---was instinctual.

I was fascinated by the idea that emotions are learned and I focused on it a lot with Benja. He's like the perfect child to experiment on because he's so responsive and when you do something stupid you can laugh it off with a "isn't mommy silly for accidentally clipping the top 1/3 of your ear off while trying to cut your hair?" It's all in the presentation, he will laugh with you and agree and later, that experience will be a happy memory and a joke he tells his friends.

So, when he was younger and would get mad or frustrated or sad or whatever, I would say things like, "Oh, you feel so sad right now don't you?" And when it was being tired that caused all his misery, I would point out that a nap hadn't occured and that it was feeling tired that caused this. He never really responded, he was young, but I thought I'd give it a try. I don't really know how other 3-year-old children are with expressing themselves with words, but Benja will say in the middle of a fit, "I'm so sad that you are saying no!" or "I'm so mad that Avery took my toy!" I LOVE it. Not sure if that's normal, but I do.

One time I heard my SIL say to her son, same age as mine, "are you feeling jealous of your brother right now?" I cringed because I guess I really bought into the teaching-emotions school of thought. At the time I thought it was a stupid thing to "teach" a child. I'm sure children feel jealousy, or something like it, but it could be changed to "would you like me to hold you too?" instead of "are you jealous I'm holding your brother?" I could be wrong, I'm willing to accept that.

On guilt, well---before you start praying for my hardened soul or anything ridiculous like that, I mean human-induced guilt. Not guilt that comes after you've done something bad and should feel guilt until you reconcile it. Like, cheating or stealing or lying or getting addicted to Dawson's Creek.

In high school my friends would try to guilt me into doing things I didn't want to do. Like overnights, or parties, or lame dances. It just never worked. And the more guilt trips that were involved, the less likely I was to ever respond. I could be bribed. Cheaply too. But never guilted.

That was until I became a mother. Guilt has become the mode in which I operate. I have felt guilty for not changing a diaper soon enough. I felt guilty when I couldn't get my newborn to latch on perfectly and he felt hunger 30 seconds longer than he needed to. I feel guilt about losing my cool with an innocent child. I feel guilt when I have a bad day and am bratty to my husband. I feel guilt when I tell people to stick it, even when they should. I feel guilt when my child gets a rash. I feel guilty when I let my children get too tired. I feel guilty when I don't stimulate their minds enough. I feel guilty when their mornings are spent watching PBS. I feel guilty when I give them too much sugar. I feel guilty when I forget to "lay with him in two minutes" and he still remembers the next morning.

I can still remember the first time I felt this new guilt. Benja wasn't even born yet and after 5 months of deliberately abstaining, I sipped my first cherry coke. (oh the sweet burn of carbonation, cherry and caffeine, swirled into perfection---still so vivid in my mind!) The feelings of guilt shocked me. It was so foreign to me. This is the kind of guilt that really isn't all that productive, in my opinion. I mean, do I deliberately keep my children awake so that they are so dead tired they're miserable? No. Usually there are extenuating circumstances. Usually. So, get over it. Life happens---feeling guilt about that kind of stuff doesn't do anyone a lick of good. That's how I feel, truly. But that doesn't mean I can just flip the switch and not feel it.

These are just my random ruminations. They were sparked by a tiny little incident that occurred today. My husband has been gone for 9 days (a drop in the bucket, eh Code Yellow?) and I miss him desperately. So do his children. I just want to be in the same room with him. I want him to walk through our door at night. I want to fall asleep with him next to me. I want him to wake me up with a kiss before he leaves in the morning. I want to hear him on the baby monitor at night, laying with Ben for 2 minutes as they talk about numbers and the 3 pigs and cold water. I want to walk past him on the computer. I want to see Avee try to entice him to chase her through the house. I want to get annoyed by his incessant pacing when he's on the phone. Is that so much to ask?

So, I miss J. Tonight, the neighbor kids came over. I remembered that I needed to talk to their mom and I say, "Is your mom busy?" and they say, "No, she's just at home hanging out with my dad." And there you have it. Pangs of jealousy coursed through my body at lightening speed. I wanted to kick my friend who's husband comes home every night. It wasn't pretty. It's probably good I'm not prone to feeling it because I don't hold my jealousy well.

I felt better after I threw a couple of eggs at her kitchen window though.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Day in The Life

When I first started blogging I read a lot of posts from others, cursing the mother of blog9er. Some days 10 different blogs would say the exact same thing. I never said a word, because I never had any problems. I figured I just posted at the right time or something. Apparently, blog9er takes my silence as weakness and has launched a full-scale attack on my precious time and even more precious sanity.

I want to beat it down with the rotten bananas I consistently have on my counter. I want to force it to drink the nasty pond-scum tap fluid this town calls water, I want to make it bring Avee in from outside at the peek of her neighborhood tromping adventures, I want to make it drive a black car with untinted windows in Texas. I want to do some very, very mean things to it....

Thanks to some of your tips, I have beat the system. Sadly not before it beat me into submission and into my bed at 2am with nothing to show for my 3 hours at the computer.

Now, about my post.

It's just a short little story that touches a bit on the evolution of man.

Once upon a time I had this tiny little baby. So sweet. So cute. So immobile. Just one short year ago I would place her tenderly in a little swing and do some much needed things around the house. When I would come back, she was always right there. Maybe a little more scrunched up than I left her, but she was always there.

And other times, I would spice up her life by simply placing her on a blanket. She was free to wiggle, squirm, roll, and drool as she may.

There was a little bit of everything, but not a significant bit of anything. I fear I may have taken those days for granted.

These days:
Breakfast that is given at the table, ends up on the couch, upside down, in the lap of a 15 month old who looks more like she's recovering from a kegger than a full 12 hours of sleep.

After breakfast is a good time to try and get dressed. With the folded laundry that has been set aside to be packed away because it is too small. This entails a lot of grunting, some screeching and an eventual balling up of said laundry and hurling it at the nearest inanimate object.
Later there is serious climbing to be done. Followed immediately by triumphant sitting.

There are a lot of high places that need to be conquered in this house. And if they haven't been conquered yet, it's only because they are too cluttered

and are properly classified as too hazardous. A daredevil has some limitations you know. A daredevil has some limitations you know.

After giving the mom heart failure (which, you should know, unlike Kohl's employees, Wal-Mart greeters, restaurant waiters he meet Avee, is very difficult to do) there is sweet baby-time to tend to Sleepy-Eyed Susie's needs..This entails picking at the closing eyelids for 15 minutes as their ability to go up and down is entirely too fascinating to just enjoy.

Later, an all-time favorite, and not oft enough enjoyed round of toddler-toilet-tubbing.
It's cool!
It's refreshing!
It's just the right size!
It's disgusting.

Later, if mom feels like braving the scorching sun, there are fun outings where there are ducks to be ridden. Like no duck has ever been ridden before. And here, the attention of at least 25 people will be commanded because so few have ever seen a peanut, so small, ride a little rocking duck with such zeal. Things like, "I didn't know the duck went sideways" and "How does she not fall off after that?" can be heard throughout.

Of course, there's the compulsory prance throughout the Spray Park, as there are some darling fat-roll little thighs to flaunt and a pot belly to rival all pot bellies.

"Yeah, I know it, keep looking girls, you can only dream of a diaper bum and knee dimples like this!"

On a perfect day there's always time to catch a little "Clifford the Pup" with the neighbor girls.
No day is complete without a "what the...?" statement from the caregiving adult. One such moment was caught on camera. Avee was taught sign at about 8 months. At that time, she did a handful of signs when she felt like it. While her brother was fluent in sign, Avee has managed to communicate her needs and wants with perfect clarity, in other ways. There is a periodic "milk" flailed about when there's candy to be had, or remotes to be retrieved, balls to be stolen from other children, and sometimes, but rarely, milk wanted. Here, Avee plunked down on the floor in front of her aunt who was eating a cookie. She asked for some, got some and then started saying "muh, muh, muh". Seizing the teaching moment I encouraged, "Say more Avee, say more!" She promptly put her two hands together and signed "more" like she had been doing it every day of her life. It has been SEVEN MONTHS since she has done it. To which I say, what the heck!?

And finally, no day is complete without a full-scale tirade aimed at the loving caregivers who sometimes forget that after the bath, after being dried off completely, after diapers, and pajamas are put on, there is requisite towel time in which it is absolutely necessary to be completely rewrapped in a towel and walk around the room, tripping every 4 steps over the too-long towel.

So many things that a camera cannot capture---one particular favorite just occurred during this blog. It entails swiping a toy from her brother. Any toy, as long as it's vital to his playing scheme at that moment. And then booking it through the house like an olympic sprinter---just for the thrill of the chase.

I'm exhausted just recounting...

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Today is my cousin Josie's birthday. She would be 27 years old. Two months after she turned 25, she was hit by a car while biking up a canyon in Utah. She was about 14 miles into the ride, just a couple of miles from the top.

She was in her second year of a PhD program in Molecular Biology. She was brilliant, humble, athletic, beautiful, disciplined, kind, hard-working and a good friend. She died in the arms of fellow bikers as they tried and hoped desperately to be able to save her. Nobody could have.

She had a brand new biking outfit on she'd gotten for her birthday. She had a completed RS lesson sitting in the front seat of her car, to give the next morning.
She had gone to the temple and an REI sale that morning.

I had never felt a devastation so complete throughout my entire body before the night I had to walk into a room and see her lying still in a pink casket. I felt my legs collapsing beneath me and suddenly someone's arms were quickly around me, offering support. There was no way to ever capture her look without her bright eyes and infectious smile. I was angry with the effort to even try.

Josie unwittingly turned people's heads with her physical appearance. At my bridal shower J crashed in with a couple of his best friends. One of them spotted Josie in a crowd of 25 women and commented, "That is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen." It wasn't an overstatement by any means. At her memorial, I learned more fully, that her heart changed people. I thought that the way she made me feel valued and smart and like the greatest addition to her life was unique to our relationship. 450 people at a memorial service in the state she only went to college in said otherwise. At her funeral I spotted a guy standing alone, visibly shaken. I approached him and learned that he was part of the janitorial staff at her lab. She had invited him to have lunch with her a few times. He had never known anyone like her. None of us had. I stood and cried with someone who probably would have gone unnoticed in my life, at the funeral of a girl who didn't let him go unnoticed.

The last man to speak with her wrote a lengthy letter about their encounter and it was displayed at her funeral. He was too shaken up to attend. He asked her how it was going as they passed on the road. Huffing up an insanely steep mountain she exclaimed, "Things are excellent! How 'bout you man!?" He was moved by her enthusiasm and friendliness. I think we all were.

When Josie was 9 we became penpals. She grew up in California, I in Missouri. We corresponded through letters well into our twenties.

When she was 10 years old she lamented in a letter that the teacher had changed their seating arrangments, but she was still sitting next to Leon, and "couldn't escape his inexorable wrath". I was 14 and had to look up the word "inexorable" in the dictionary.The following summer I spent in California. I wore a pink shirt a friend had given me, a lot. One day Josie told me she didn't think my hair matched with pink. It was the nicest constructive criticism I have ever gotten. I never wore pink again until 2001. Then it was a nice light frosty pink that did look nice with my hair.
I still don't wear pink.

When Jay and I were moving from St. Louis to Utah, I called Josie and she gladly went and checked out a potential apartment for us. She had duplicate keys made before we got there. I've saved them because she paid an extra dollar fifty to have them cut on leopard print and smiley faces and they always made me smile when I used them to open our door.

She was graduating, moving, working, and beginning a PhD and always managed to find time to come and check on me, a new mother in a new town. She took me grocery shopping my second night in town because I have no sense of direction and would have ended up in Winnemucca faster than I would have found the local Wal-Mart. At the time, I had no idea how much she packed into a day, so I had no idea how much she was giving me with those hours here and there.For my birthday that summer, she showed up at my doorstep at 9:30 at night with a Skor bar and a box of Glide floss. "I didn't know what to get you but everyone can use floss, right?"
We met monthly on Sundays with other cousins for family dinner. Josie was always the highlight for me at these gatherings. She would always be standing at the counter helping in the preparations. She always turned with a big smile and arms opened for a hug. For months after, that void at family dinners was tangible and hard to cope with for a lot of us.

I miss Josie. It's true, time does heal wounds. I don't walk around my house sobbing over the entertainment center as a dust it. Or sit in my rocker and weep while I hold my baby, because I just can't shake my sorrow. If I'm braced for the conversation, the details of her death don't reduce me to a heap of snot and tears.

I don’t miss the good ol’ days with Josie, because she always lived to the fullest. No regrets, truly.

I miss what could have been. The amount of comfort I found in knowing I will see her again, turning to face me with a great big smile and arms open for a hug, is indescribable.

I think the greatest legacy a person can leave, is the desire for you to be a better person because you know her.

Josie did that.
I look forward to telling her thank you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Devil Wears Faded Glory

So, I just got back from watching Ella Disenchanted The Devil Wears Prada with my niece. I left with a few thoughts. One of the thoughts I didn't have was "Wow, I had so many favorite parts!" I didn't dislike the movie. I just couldn't help but think for the entire length of the movie, "If Anne Hathaway is fat and frumpy then I am the love child of Nick Nolte and Sideburns Lady." That just doesn't feel good, even in stadium seating with adjustable arm rests and a 3 inch recline.

Then, on the other hand, I absolutely loved the supporting actors in the show. Boyfriend and Rich Successful Temptation were both just very enjoyable to look at. I know, I know, that objectifies men, but it is what it is. And the male coworker was a great actor. And, well, let's face it, Meryl Streep could stand on her balcony dressed as a cheese wedge shouting out yoga poses and I'd pay money, buy popcorn, and be enthralled. She is just an incredible actress. Of course, that's just my opinion.

So I enjoyed the movie, but it's hard to get sucked into the importance of fashion when I'm wearing the levis I've been wearing for the past 3 days and my favorite black top from Wal-Mart. I mean, I think I have some things to contribute to the world of fashion, it's just not apparent to the nak#d eye.

While I was gone Benja stayed home with Aunt Sara. Aunt Sara is a channel flipper. It's like watching tv with a wire short. After just a few minutes of the excessive channel changing this conversation ensued.
B: (looking around determinedly, as he was sure something was wrong) Where is that thing?
AS: It's right here.
Benja sits quietly for a few more minutes while more flipping occurs.
B: Give me that!
Sara gives it to him and he promptly begins flipping the channels. He finally rests on a channel.
AS: This channel is boring Benja.
B: You're boring.

A little while later I was laying down with Benja and we were talking about the day. I had decided I wanted to start working with him on memorizations since his mind is so ripe for that kind of stuff right now. And the only things I still have memorized are the things I learned when I was very young. So I said, "Say this after me Ben, We believe in God...." He said, "No, I'll say this 'What-thuh heck!"

And cut. It just all sounds so different when a 3 year old is saying it.

I went shopping with Avee today and she was feeling particularly social. She said "hi" to every person who came within her sight. It's a very charming "Iiiiiiiiii...." that starts off very enthustiastically and then just tapers off sing-songily. She got a lot of responses. Not like this other place where I lived where all the kids are considerably cuter and more charming and more noteworthy than my own, so nobody stops to smell the roses anymore because they're too busy pruning, plucking, and primping their own. I'm just saying.

Anyway, there were a couple of people who didn't respond to Avee as she had hoped. Like, for example, the nice Indian man (geez, I talk about Indians a lot, don't I?) who was restocking the mangos and was bending over with his head in a box---he didn't respond and Avee screeched "AAAACK!" at him. It is an alarming sound, particularly from this sweet little, nearly-bald, smiling, angel-face, and so he did pop up to see what the problem was. To which she reiterated, "Iiiiiiiii....."

As we were walking out of the store she raised her tiny little hand, with the roll of fat at the wrist and did a perfect Miss America wave. She grinned, waved, and sweetly threw out her "Iiiiiii's" to all those we passed. I am amazed that kids come this way.

I'd like to leave you with some images of the Queen. This was Sunday while Dad was making dinner. She feigned to be interested in assisting him, but I caught it on camera what her REAL motives were. What gets me is, she is a 15 month old "baby" sneaking cake, who uses knives?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blogging Before Bed

Benja had an early morning dentist appointment today. He had to be sedated for some dental work and it took me three months to work up the courage to make this appointment. Meanwhile the pin-prick size cavity invaded his entire mouth and gums and we left the dentist with pediatric-dentures. It's a shame, but I have my own fears to think about too. I don't know why it scared me, there are a lot of things about motherhood I just.don't.get.

He did great, the dentist and her staff were amazing. I did see a glimpse of how either J or I might be if we were drinkers. Ben got loud and goofy and it was entirely entertaining for me. They asked me to take him to a small dark room with a Thomas the Train movie playing and to hold him. I did that. The idea being, that snuggling with his mom, watching tv, sitting in a dark room, all would induce sleepiness.

Au contraire monfraire! He got annoyed that sleep was overcoming him and would hop off of my lap to wake up. Once he felt sufficiently awakened, he'd climb back up me like a drunken man to the bar for last call. Once that became too much effort he started slapping his eyes, yes slapping, and saying things like, "It's daytime, I'm not sleepy" and "Stay open, Edward is on the tracks!" If it wasn't so funny, I think I might have been sad. He was obviously struggling with not being in control of his body---which can be alarming at any age. Except for if you are a newborn. He did a George W. chortle when the narrator said "Thomas tooted". Complete with the shoulder shrugging and half-mouth grin. He has heard that phrase a dozen times at least---but today, combined with the Versed, it was funny.

At one point he turned around, while sitting on my lap, and seemed a little surprised to see me behind him and said, "Are you my mom?" I think my incessant giggling didn't help in the "soothing to sleep" effort.

Everything went smoothly and I took my little doped up boy home. He had some strange expressions, I think the numb mouth was a little hard for him to process, but it made for good entertainment for us. He was himself entirely by early afternoon. What a tough little guy. I laid down with him on the couch while he watched Sesame Street. I fell asleep for about 10 minutes, but in those 10 minutes, his appetite returned and he helped himself to a gigantic cinnamon roll. That's my boy.

I'm going to bed.

I have been trying to upload pictures for the past week to no avail. It's really getting old and beyond frustrating. I expect more from my free blog host. Anyone have any ideas on how to make it stop being mean to me?

Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm a Superman, In a Barbie World

A few weeks ago I changed some of the ringtones on my cell phone. Every time my sister calls me, it plays, "Come on Barbie, let's go party....I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world." I think it's funny mostly because you probably couldn't find two more un-Barbie girls than us two.

Well, it didn't take long for Benja to start singing the song, but it took on a whole new meaning for me when I'd hear, "Come on bobby, let's doe potty--ah! ah! ah! ah!"

Last night as we were finishing up the bedtime routine, he, clad in his superman pajamas blurted out, "I'm a superman in a Barbie world!"

He is indeed.

J is gone for another 11 days.
He gets home on my birthday.
My birthday is in 11 days.

I remember a long time ago my older brother telling me a little about the Indian culture and the way they speak in their native languages. They don't use superlatives. For example, in the English language we might say, "It's VERY purple" or "That is so totally and completely, way cool" but to emphasize something is more than "normal" they will just say the word more than once. It's purple purple. It's cool, cool, cool. I'm pretty certain they don't say "cool" so much in Hindi or Bengali, but it's just an example.*

So, Benja has adapted this method of superla-fying in his own vocabulary. Every night he asks for "told, told, told, told TOLD water" sometimes emphasized with a body shiver and fists clenching. When J is in town he will lay with Benja for a couple of minutes each night. It used to be a treat J would sometimes allow and now it is a requirement that we are suckers for, and Benja will head off to bed saying, "Lie with me in two minutes dad, two minutes." (he consistently interchanges prepositions and it makes for some adorable phrases at times) Well, tonight he upped the demand with me, at the same time implementing his Hindi manner of speak." "Mom, lie with me in five, five, five, five, five minutes. It was too cute to resist. He got one of those five minutes.

It seems Benja brings us much entertainment around bedtime. Two nights ago J, my sister, my niece, and I sat in the living room watching a movie. (We are BIG Tyler Perry fans around here). Benja left his bedroom, to check out the scene and found us all watching the movie. He quickly said he had to go to the bathroom, as his excuse for coming out of his room. After finishing, he came back to the living room and made like he was obediently walking back to his bed but asked for a "sticko". A sticker that he USED to get for going potty. A sticker which he hasn't received in at least 3 months. I said, "Benja, get to bed, I don't even HAVE a sticker to give you---I'm on to you boy!" He smiled, sauntered off to bed and yelled good naturedly over his shoulder, "Fine, you duys just be a joke (jerk) watching a movie!"

The next day when I asked him where he learned to say that (I can usually get a straight answer from him) he told me "Uncle Dick". This is my mother's brother with whom he has spent a total of about 20 minutes of his life. I have no idea where he learned, "Fine, be a jerk!" Although it's not really okay for him to say things like that to the general public, we sure get a kick out of it here!

* I have absolutely no way of knowing if this is true, as I retell it I'm taking a risk. This will be the ONE post someone from India finds my blog and reads me totally making up crap about their language. It's okay, it makes good copy and it's a risk I'm willing to take.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Note To Self

When your 3 year old wakes up at 1 AM to go to the bathroom, even if it's the first time he's ever done that, be alert. Do not be alarmed when he shows up suddenly in your hallway, resembling a Guns-N-R0ses groupie, staggering, panting and muttering loudly, holding himself. Do NOT get in his way to talk to him, even if you are just a concerned mother with an instinct to comfort. He WILL headbutt you.

DO however, follow him to his destination and guide him in his process as he will make your entire bathroom, attached closet and hallway his urinal if you do not.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lovely Golden-haired Girl

Time marches on and sooner or later you realize it is marchin' across your face.
-Truvy Jones

So, I wrote a post several weeks ago about my 13-year-old niece, Erica. I was really looking forward to her visit from England and my little Avee had just done something that reminded me of her. I didn’t post it because I just wasn’t secure in it being interesting enough to anyone but me. But I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with this girl and I just gotta say some things about her. First of all, I am just as in love, if not more, with this girl, as I was 12 years ago when she stole my heart. She was this adorable little chubby-cheeked, redhaired 1 year old with an infectious smile and squeaky little voice. That chubby cheeked, red haired, grinning little imp has been replaced by this gorgeous, golden-haired, lovely, bright, witty, and thoroughly competent teenager.

When I hear her laugh at the same things I laugh at, I always do a double take and I have to blink hard because I still see the little girl who giggled uncontrollably every time she told her riddle, “2 girls are walking under an umbrella with a hole in it, which one of them gets wet, the one on the left or the right? Neither it’s not raining!!!”

When I hear her perfectly imitate my children’s baby accents in her own dialogue, my heart breaks a little, when only yesterday I was the young girl imitating her little baby accent.

It was 12 years ago that I was an 18-year-old free-spirit of a girl holding little 16 month old “Abica”. One night we were walking back to our car from the annual Labor Day fair and I was holding Erica. I sang to her, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family...." Back then, that was just a sweet song about love, not a mind-numbing chant that would later invade my home and rob me of my sanity every day at 10:49 AM. Erica looked up at me, listening intently and then joined in with, "Hap' bir-day, hap' bir-day..." I burst out laughing and quickly caught up with my sister to tell her what she had just said. My sister said, "Oh yeah, that's the only English song her Egyptian nanny knows and she sings it to her all the time. Erica was born in Egypt and lived there until she was about 18 months old.

We made a connection that night.

I still remember vividly, during that same visit, Erica sat on my mom’s bed and pilfered through her purse. With each item she pulled out, she delightedly labeled it “Shoes!”

Fast forward about 10 years and Benja’s first word was shoes. He said it the exact same way as Erica. The very first time he said shoes my heart just melted. He only said shoes that way about 6 times and by that evening, it had somehow evolved into a swear word. For 6 short hours, genetics prevailed in how he said shoes. Afterwards, environment overcame and the boy swore every time he tried to say “shoes”.

What initially inspired the original Erica post was my own little 15 month old redhead. One morning, after Benja’s birthday he and I were puttering around the house singing the Happy Birthday song. Who knows how many times she did it before we actually realized it but when we didn’t finish the song, Avee did. Both Benja and I have the same singing style, we take "creative" liberties with words, and often have attention deficit in finishing songs. So one or both of us would say, “Happy Birthday to you…..” and trail off to eat cheerios off the floor. Then we heard little Avee from her high chair, "hap buh-buh doe erc-ca-ca". It was just coincidence that the "name" she said sounds like Erica. She was just making her Avee sounds there. It was so clearly Happy Birthday that even Benja stopped what he was doing and exclaimed, "She singed Happy Birthday!"

So tonight I took the kids to McDonalds. I’m babysitting another child, Jay’s gone and this is how I live my life when no one is looking. The kids had an absolute blast, and after a while, Erica got caught up in trailing Avery through the tunnels and slides and just started climbing around the play structure on her own. It was 8:30 at night. Everyone else with any sense of decency and good parenting skills went home an hour before and we had the place to ourselves. The child I’m babysitting kept trying to tempt me onto the play structure to play with him. He’d say things like, “You can’t climb as high as me, so you can’t see a cool thing up there!” and “I’m not going to talk to you if you don’t come play in the slide with me.” Obviously the boy isn’t clear on babysitter’s size to slide width ratios. Erica heard him trying to get me to come play inside and said, “Come on Angela, get in touch with your inner-child and come tromp around with us.” When did my baby Erica learn to use phrases like “inner-child” and about “getting in touch” with them? Meanwhile, Avee stood nearby, completely in touch with her inner child, screeching her demands for Erica to climb back down from her tower and retrieve her.

Time does march on. For me right now, it shows up in babies suddenly being teenagers, more than anything else. I went to college 90 miles from where my sister and husband lived, so I got to spend a lot of time with my nieces. I graduated and moved to Missouri a week before they moved to England. When I hugged those girls goodbye, I knew only my 10 year old niece understood the sadness of this goodbye. It broke my heart.

A year later when the girls came to the states (I only lasted about 8 months and had flown to see them in England a few months before) for their annual trip, I was dating J. Erica had a baptism that summer and for it I gave her a journal. On the plane trip home, J sat next to me, and the girls took turns sitting in the seat on the other side of me. During her time away from me, I found Erica writing in her journal. When I asked her what she was writing about, she willingly showed me her deepest 8 year old thoughts. "It's not fair that J gets to sit next to Angela the whole plane trip and doesn't have to switch out, and we have to take turns and only get 30 minutes at a time."

Erica's sort of outgrown that insatiable desire to be near me. Sometimes when I ask her questions about boys she says, "Do I have to answer that question?" and I'm certain the contents of her journal now are off limits to me. I'm a grown-up, she's a teenager. She's my girl though, and we're still connected. There are some things even time can't change.

*Blah-grrrrr is being stoopit and won't let me post pictures, but I will be back!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Round Brushing Fun For Everyone

So, I think I am safe in saying, if you have ever used a round brush more than 3 or 5 times in your life, you have experienced having it caught in your hair. Is that a safe assumption or is my dexterity so challenged and mirror image manuevering completely lacking? It's not like it happens regularly, but I've endured a self-induced bald spot or two in my time.

There were a couple of things I thought had to happen before you ever found yourself doing the hair-caught-in-a-brush-panic-dance.

First, I thought perhaps one would be older, say 13, 14 at least.
And secondly I thought you HAD TO HAVE HAIR!

Somehow Avee managed to get a round brush caught in her two strands of hair that surround an adorable, but very small curl. She was silently struggling with this when I found her. Which leads me to an even more entertaining point....

We were at dinner when Avee started throwing her corn and splashing her water on her tray. So Jay took her out of the high chair. She systematically made the circuit around the table trying to get someone to hold her. She tried the hardest with Erica---I'm certain she percieved Erica to be the weakest link. Erica stayed strong.

Avee got bored and wandered off and we are sort of an "out of sight out of mind" kind of family. A good ten minutes later I got up for something and happened to walk past the bathroom to find Avery sitting in the sink. That is where she was silently struggling with the brush. She was sitting in the sink. We were eating dinner. She has graduated from toilet swimming, to inexplicable sink sitting. It's not so much the sitting there that baffles me, it's the GETTING there. I WANT to say I don't know how she did this. I want to, but I can't. She's Avee. That's how she did it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


For a successful outing to a Fourth of July Parade:

Take a fair-skinned 3 year old and translucent-skinned 1 year old and put hats on them.
They will look adorable. Be prepaired for that. Take them to a 9:30 parade at 9:45 and wait 45 more minutes in the 1 square foot shade of a shrub. Because it's Texas, and you are desperate.

Stupidly sit at the end of the parade route and see a bunch of wet, weary, heat exhausted, candy-less paraders who just have their eyes on the finish line 100 feet away. Except for the Shriners who have all kinds of energy zipping around on their go-karts.

Don't wear mascara (unlike in eviction battling) because unexpectedly, tears will fill your eyes when the war veterans--elderly men, unable to stand unassisted, and young men, with their whole lives ahead of them, pass by. Eye makeup combined with overwhelming gratitude for the sacrifices they have made= smeared, clumpy, black-brown, High Impact mess.

Feel the last square inch of your shirt lose it's resistance to the overpowering enticement of persperation and make you the complete sticky blob of sweat God intended Man Who Occupies Texas to be.

Watch dumbly as your one year old toddles dangerously into the pathway of a parading truck because the Salsa music blaring from it transfixes her and she loses all sense and reason.

Scream "STOP" at the driver who doesn't hear you at.all. but startle the transfixed toddler long enough to put an oh-so-brief pause in her gait and launch your husband into action to rescue her.

Secretly be glad that no one really knew you were actually trying to get a truck with blaring music to stop because you are too slow of a reactor to do what makes more sense.

Bribe your 3 year old away from the final straggling paraders with the promise of a cold Sprite.

Leave the car parked and walk half a block to McDonalds to let all the traffic cure itself while you are happily munching on salted grease.

Meet Ronald McDonald who has a foreign accent you can't place because there are no other visual clues. What country sports Kool-aid red hair and bright yellow jump suits for fashion?

Let your one year old happily dump an entire cup of cold water on her shorts. Watch as she tries to catch some of the splashing water drops with her tongue.


Listen to your 3 year old announce 5 times that NOW HE HAS TWOOO DUMP TRUCKS! to the entire restaurant. Listen to your husband tell him to not talk so loud 6 times.

Try not to gag when your son finishes playing on the play structure and comes back to eat.
(I am not a germ-a-phobe but those things disgust me beyond words)

Walk back to your car in an empty parking lot with no sign of any parade or traffic.

Drive home to the music of your 1 year old forcing laugh sounds to try and get daddy to look at her and your 3 year old singing made up songs intermittent with whining, "but I don't like home, not yet I don't like home, I want to go to the post office..."

Pass a few different 4th of July festivities with barbeques and bounce houses and hope your husband drives fast enough that the 3 year old doesn't see them and silently wish you had the fortitude and/or parental selflessness to stop and enjoy.

Come home to a lovely home filled with the aroma of garlic and curry. Wafting from the neighbor's house.

Feel an overall sense of peace and gratitude to live in this country with the blessings and freedoms and opportunities it affords. If you let it simmer for just a moment, you can't help but to feel appreciation for those who came before you and made this way of life possible.

Happy Birthday America. I'm glad I get to be your friend, and come to your parties. Next year, don't invite humidity and include some more cool breezes and cloud covers. I'll bring the flags!

Monday, July 03, 2006

About Jack and Jill

I think I might have forgotten a little of why I started blogging in the first place.

Today I have some kid stories.

About their names....I just don't trust myself to be on the ball enough to call them something other than their names. I'm lame like that. And I was SO tempted to just become Lucy myself and call the kids Fred and Ethel cuz that's funny, but I know my limits.
So I decided on Benja and Avee. That's what they are called around here, so it's fitting.

Avee has managed to commandeer the one chair in our house that resembles a throne. High back, arm rests, best view of the action in both the living room and the kitchen. She will sit/stand/hang on it for an hour at a time, shouting her one syllable orders. "Kaaaah!" "Nooooooo!" "Baaaaaaaa!" Today, much to her chagrin, we finished our business in her court before she was ready to dismiss us. As we all moved to different parts of the house, she remained on her throne yelling for her subjects to return. As the true ruler she is, it never occurred to her to lower herself before the common, and find Erica at the computer or me trapped under 17 loads of laundry, or Ben racing Thomas through every tunnel known to a 3 year-old's bedroom. Her loss.

Yesterday at church she tried to push Erica (my 13 year old niece visiting us) off the pew. Perhaps she thought there was one too many adorable girls at worship. I mumbled an apology to Erica about "Her Highness" being out of control. Erica reminded me of a conversation we had when I was pregnant with Avee. J had picked out the name even before we knew we were having Avee. I mentioned to Erica that the name Avee meant "Ruler of Elves". I didn't much care for that, and name meanings are important to me. I have since found a more suitable name meaning, but for the longest time, that was all I could find. I just pictured a bad scene from Lord of the Rings or a little midget dictator with pointy ears. Well, minus the ears, we got the latter. I had completely forgotten about the "undesireable" name meaning. I have this unexplainably petite little thing who thinks she rules the universe.

Today we are puttering around shifting too-small clothes for just-a-little-too-big clothes, elminating all the dumb happy meal toys (I'm sure I only have 2 or 3 buckets full, trying to get organized. Avee is loving the piles of things to dig through and undo as I try futilely to accomplish something. She has actually removed wet clothes from the dryer and put them back in the washer as I am reaching for another handful of wet clothes. What is THAT!?

Benja got to go with Daddio to drop off Uncle Sam at his scout camp. They were gone all morning and when they returned, I thought I'd be a nice wife and make a healthy, low-calorie smoothie (J weighed himself yesterday and couldn't stop talking about it the rest of the day. Yeah well, go see what this dude ate last week....and I didn't have the heart to tell him that the number he was horrified to see on his scale is a number I fantasize of seeing on mine). Well, I offered and he declined. I was sure he didn't understand me so I offered again. Denied. Maybe he thinks I want him to make the smoothie---gracias, no. Then I did what I have done a hundred times in our relationship. I figure things out a little later, but without any help from him.
"You stopped at Chic Fil A, didn't you?"
Eyes flicker, hesitation...."No, I didn't."

Ben has had a sort of Dr Suess induced tourettes today. 2 weeks ago my mom read "Green Eggs and Ham" to him and he's obsessed over owning the book since then. So I bought it a few days ago and have had to read it to him 572 times in the last 6 days. But today he's just been happy to clutch the book while he watches Thomas or plays with his cars or eats watermelon and just shout out "I DO NOT WANT THEM IN A BOX, I DO NOT WANT THEM WITH A MOUSE, I DO NOT, I DO NOT, I DO NOT LIKE YOUR HAT!" For those of you not well versed in children's literature, the hat part is from "Go Dog Go" another favorite of his. It's all so fitting for where he's at in life right now. He's in a very contradictory stage. It just makes sense that yelling contradictions, whether in a book or in his real life, is where his real focus is. A common conversation these days will go something like this, "Mom what are you making for dinner?"
"Rice and chicken"
At this point we both just laugh because there's little else to do.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

JUNE 29, 2006

I had hoped to post on our anniversary---but suddenly I found myself on the evening of JULY FIRST still not having done it. Um, is anyone else alarmed by the speed at which we seem to be hurtling through this year? We are already halfway through it! Good thing I'm making the most of it with all my canning, scrapbooking, sewing, and detailed journal writing.

So, June 29th, four years ago, we got married. I'm thinking I'm gonna go with aliases to avoid

the aforementioned stalking. We'll call that cute husband of mine J. When J and I were talking about the last 4 years, I mentioned to him that saying "4 years" just sounded like a drop in the bucket. But we've experienced so much and grown so much in those 4 short years. We've had two kids for crying out loud!

It was a hot, hot day in Salt Lake City on June 29, 2002. Two of my friends came and helped me with my hair and makeup at the crack of dawn, and then my mom and I jumped in the car and headed to the Jordan River Temple. As we neared the temple, my mom broached the topic of marital intimacy. I was 26 years old. I started screaming. She kept talking. I don't remember much else because as many traumatic incidences are, it has been supressed. Deeply.

As my mom pulled the car around the circle drive to drop me off, I heaved a big sigh, felt my heart flutter urgently and said, "Well, I hope I'm doing the right thing." I was kind of joking, but kind of not. The thought really was there, for just a moment. I never felt a moment's hesitation or doubt in marrying J--ever. That was as close as I got. Apparently my mom found this hilarious and laughed about if for weeks to come.

The ceremony is a bit of a blur, but for the rest of the day's festivities I had the most amazing wedding planner a girl could ever ask for. She had planned and prepared so well and she kept things efficient throughout the day. I was able to just enjoy everything. That was an incredible gift.

We started our married life in St. Louis. We loved it there. That's where we got this:

With him in tow, we moved to Provo where J finished his Bachelors degree.

And we got this:

With them in tow, we moved to Salt Lake City and embarked on the most hellish 6 months of our married lives. 2 kids was a lot more work than we anticipated, but we learned the valuable lesson "don't mix family and finances" the hard way.

So we left Utah. So long, not-so barren desert land.

And here we are. 4 years, 5 homes, 2 children, 1 college degree and several unmentionable number of pounds later. I'm happy. I don't think I even knew half of how good of a choice I was making in marrying J. I really like that man.

My sister once referred to our relationship as the taming of the shrew. I had opted to spend the summer with him during his internship instead of galavanting around the country on my own.
It's true, sometimes even I am in complete awe of not only how much I love J, but how much I really like him. His jokes don't get old, his smile still warms my heart, his hand reaching for mine still feels like coming home.

To mark our 4 years together, we went to dinner. I cherish uninterrupted conversation with J. And good food, so you know---that was perfect. J told the waitress to go ahead and bring us the dessert menu and we'd see if anything interested us, if not, we were going across the street for frozen custard. I still get a kick out of his "hold nothing back" approach in life.
Then we went and saw Superman. And man, I gotta tell you, the most super thing about that movie was getting to look at that super face for a super 2 hours. Holy moly he's a beautiful creation.
Then we snuck into Da Vinci Code. If you find that morally reprehensible, let me just tell you, we paid EIGHTEEN DOLLARS to get into that movie theatre. THAT'S morally reprehensible. That we'd pay it and that we'd be charged it.

It was fun to just be a girl, sitting next to a guy, bloated from overeating and thinking to snuggle into each other, but really just interested in watching the movie and having our space and knowing someone else was wiping the snot from our kid's nose and changing her diaper and answering why and searching high and low for the train pajamas because tractors just won't do and having to reheat the milk because 15 seconds isn't nearly long enough and pulling a 15 month old monkey off off furniture you didn't even know was possible to climb and dealing with the cacophony that ensues when the words "It's time for bed" is announced.

That's all.

Oh, before I post, I would like to get some suggestions for names for the kiddos. I'm gonna avoid using their real names (I really don't think it's necessary in general but I don't want someone googling "Av*#y swimming in toilets" and my blog to be found. It could happen. So, give me your ideas and the best idea, well, I'll use it.