Thursday, December 23, 2010

We're Going to DIDNEYWAND!!!!!

It's been awhile since an update.

It's been a whirlwind around here with my kids and daycare kids and plays and performances, Christmas shopping, sicknesses, and trip planning.

We leave for Disneyland in 3 days.
I'm so excited I think I finally get how people can become Disney crazed.
Maybe not.

It is all I think about, though.

I think about the look on the girls' faces as they enter the gates, the excitement when we go on the rides. I think about probably having to hold Chloe up when she spots her first princess. She's already told me, with eyelashes batting, that she wonders if she can watch a prince and princess dance and then "have true Love's first kiss."

I also think about all the things that could go wrong.

Justin in a sugar coma.

My mom neglecting to bring enough warm items and telling me 100 times how cold she is while she shoves her icy fingers against my skin and says,
"Feel. Feel how cold my hands are?!"

Tessa missing her nap and biting off Chloe's head for even LOOKING at her wrong.

Alena pouting that she has to go on It's a Small World.....AGAIN and her feet hurt and she wants a souvenir and can she please have some candy.

Me trying to shove fun down my family's throat so hard that I give myself a cramp and an anxiety attack and am found rocking in the corner of Ariel's Grotto.

I picture Justin running through the streets of Downtown Disney with Tessa's child harness on - Eyes bulging - Maniacal grin on his face - Cinnamon roll in one hand and funnel cake in the other.

I picture all sorts of things, really.

One never can go on a family vacation with their entire family which includes a toddler, a preschooler, a moody spouse, a pre-teen and their mother and NOT expect some sort of sideshow to take place.

I just think back to camping.....

I, of course, will be completely innocent. Wink, wink.

We're staying in a suite.
I have ideals about how Tessa will miraculously sleep wonderfully in a pack-n-play in a room with me, Justin, and Chloe.
I have other ideals that we'll actually get to Disneyland early and perhaps, just this once, we WON'T be sitting on the fold up couch all dressed waiting for Justin to FINALLY get out of the shower.

My heart hopes it will be better than all the commercials, and my kids' faces alone will make it worth the money we saved in order for us to be there.
My head says I'd better prepare myself for a few "moments."

It's fine, though.

What is my life without comedy that comes from every day moments?

I say BRING IT ON to all of it.
The joy, the excitement, the tears, the eye rolling, the possible throwing up on the teacups.

It'll be all the more to write about.
All the more to document and laugh over later.

I pray we even get down there without clawing each other to pieces.

My dad let us borrow his Sequoia for the trip. I just didn't trust driving the van that smells like you doused it in gasoline and shakes if you go above 50.

After driving it around town today, he may never get it back.
I LOVE it.
I will choose to just breathe in the sweet smell of leather and Starbucks coffee as we travel and overlook the fact that the DVD player has cordless headphones and Tessa keeps turning hers off then crying and saying,
"It not working! I can't heaw it!"

I just have to be OK with the fact that my mom will have to pee a LOT
and Justin will need protein in massive amounts in order to keep from going postal and driving his foot into the floorboard causing us to become a Green Family Missile zipping down I5.

He's not used to being in the car all the time with the kids.
He's not used to Cheese-its ground into the carpet.

I'm so thankful we're leaving the dog with friends. Adding her atrocious gas to all this mix would put me over the edge.

No amount of Disney Magic would be able to fix us after that kind of car ride.

So.....Wish us luck.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to tell about after we return.
Or while we're there and I sneak away with the laptop to send an S.O.S. in the wee hours of the morning.

Disneyland is getting a whole new cast of characters.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Normally I'm much more prepared than I am this year.
Normally I've gone out shopping days before, written out my menu, cleaned the house -Well - JUSTIN'S cleaned the house.
This year is a little more scattered.
Because I've been so sick, for the last few days there was even a question as to whether or not we'd just go out for Thanksgiving dinner.

The list of possible recipe ideas I've had over the last couple of weeks has been whittled away slowly with slash marks until all that is left are the old traditional stand by's that take no thought to prepare. The list looks like it's been censored.
I threw out the brussel sprout ragout with caramelized onions. I was sad about it, but caramelizing sounds like too much work. We'll just thaw out some corn.

I even threw out green bean casserole for a simpler green bean with almond slivers and lemon juice.

And the house looks like a bomb went off.
There are clothes on the living room floor that have been just left in the place where they were taken off last night in exchange for pajamas.
There's a half empty sippie of grape juice tipped on its side on the stairs.
And there are, for some reason, stickers EVERYWHERE.
I removed about 15 from the back room area rug this morning.

But still, it feels like Thanksgiving.

There's something in the air.
Some sort of restful peace.

It's funny.
Really, when I think about it, I've had several less-than-perfect Thanksgivings in the last several years.

Like the first Thanksgiving after I had Alena when I bundled her up in an adorable little outfit and schlepped her over to her dad's house, planning on a joyful time with this new little family we were trying to figure out, only to discover another girl's name and phone number scrawled on a piece of paper on his nightstand.
Only to discover he wasn't ready for a new little family.
I spent that Thanksgiving crying while two beautiful 4 month old eyes looked at me, confused.

Or the Thanksgiving right after my parents got separated, where we decided to have Thanksgiving at Justin's house.
He and I were still dating.
His house was neutral ground.
I would cook and all would be merry.
At least I hoped.
But both of my parents came and the mood was heavy and difficult.

And as if that wasn't enough, the oven decided to go out and would only cook everything at a 500 degree temperature.
The smoke alarm was constantly going off.
We could hardly see each other for the smoke.
I think the turkey was done in one hour.

And then there was last year when my dad was headed to meet us all in Chico at my brother's and never showed up Wednesday night like he was supposed to.
Then we got a call Thanksgiving morning.
He'd decided to leave later than he'd planned and was heading out that morning only to get in a head-on accident in Sonoma. When he called, he was just stepping out of a steaming wreck.
The other driver was dead at the scene. He was being taken to the hospital. His foot was crushed. We were all in shock and left immediately to be with him at the Napa hospital.
It was horrible and scary.
It taught us what Thanksgiving is REALLY about.
We ate hospital cafeteria salad bar for Thanksgiving dinner and then stopped at the Jack In The Box on the way back home.
Justin got called "El Guapo" by the woman in the drive through window.

All this, and still Thanksgiving is so special to me.
It still makes me warm and happy and so so THANKFUL.

I have so much I don't even deserve.

I have a God that loves me and shows me every day that I am never alone. That I am seen and heard and cared for.

I have a family that, through it's occasional dysfunction, is there for me when I need them. A family that made me who I am and I like that person.

I have a husband, that, though he has absolutely NO knowledge of relatively common song lyrics, does have a knowledge of me and accepts me for it. A husband who has made my life full of laughter and given me my children.

OH - The children.
It's hard to explain how those tiny beings could simultaneously make you want to hold them forever and also make you want to eat your own eyelashes, but they do.
I have the three most amazing, beautiful, creative, funny, fun, entertaining daughters on the face of the earth.
They stress me out and make me scream, but they also just MAKE ME.

I cannot imagine a world without them in it. How boring it would be. How lonely.
I am thankful for every maple syrup kiss.
Every walk to a bed with a warm, heavy, sleeping body on my shoulder.
I'm thankful that I'm able to read a story a thousand times.
I'm thankful that I was chosen to receive these precious unfathomable gifts.

I am thankful that, even if it is scattered with stickers and juice cups, that I have a home and that it's warm on cold nights.

I am thankful for friends - and I have some great ones. Friends who are there when I need them. Friends who show up.

I am thankful that tomorrow, no matter if there's smoke or tears or rapid-cook turkeys, that I can know that at the end of the day I will join hands with the people in my life who are more precious to me than life itself and give thanks where thanks is due.

My heart feels full.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dear Norman Rockwell,

Well, the holiday season is upon us.

Upon me especially hard, actually, seeing as how for the last 4 days I've felt like I'm carrying around a 600 lb. bag of damp virus. Try taking THAT down a chimney.

Perfect situation when you're the one expected to be making a fabulous four fork herb butter turkey.

Even in the midst of the flu I've had, though, I have tried to take advantage of the time I have when I'm not working.

Thus, I dragged my soggy headed self into the shower Saturday morning before dressing the girls in their holiday finest to head off to the mall to see if Santa was there yet.
Of course he was.
He'd been there since Labor Day, probably.

Before we left I tried to prep the girls, because the last couple of years worth of Santa mall trips have ended with Chloe shrieking through the mall like she was the only one that knew that beneath all the stuffing and red velvet,
Freddy Krueger was actually underneath.

...........I'll never forget last year.

So, now that she's a very big three and three quarters,
I thought she might be ready. I decided to tread lightly.

"So, Chloe, Do you think you might want to just see Santa at least? Like, from the entrance of the Disney Store? Just check him out and then decide? It's the only way he'll know what you want. If you don't sit there and tell him, he'll probably just give you rice cakes or something lame."
I couldn't believe it when she said yes.

At first I didn't think she'd go all the way.
She was peering at him through a bush with big wide eyes making sure he didn't make any sudden moves. I think I may have even seen her do a quick check of a concealed weapon in her boots -
And then he sealed the deal by spying her, smiling and waving just a little.

That was all it took. We were golden.

She pushed her shoulders back, did a little hip shake and said,
"Mama! I'll do it! I really really will. I'll sit on his lap."

I was so proud.

Tessa wasn't so sure, which in hindsight I should have paid attention to.

Tessa's not scared of anything, usually, but she IS a good judge of character.
All 35 pounds of her clung to my already clammy and achy, yet holiday sacrificial body with all her might.

When it was finally our turn, and I'd explained that, No, I didn't want a $20 snap shot of something I didn't even know would happen,
I went up with them and put Chloe up on Santa's lap before I actually took a good look at him, myself.

No wonder these kids are always scared.
This was no jolly, cheerful mall Santa of yore.

This particular Santa, first of all, was missing a tooth. It was well in the back, but it was a tooth. I'm pretty sure in a shop full of elves capable of building anything a child's precious heart desires, at least ONE could make a tooth. Isn't there even a holiday classic about that?

As Chloe sat there timidly telling this so-called "Santa" about her dreams for her very own camera my gaze drifted to what was supposed to be his soft, downy cloud-like beard. It wasn't.
THIS beard was stained yellow, most likely from years of chain-smoking under the Dutton overpass.

I started getting the heebie jeebies as I realized that not only was he dry skinned and had a wonderingish eye, he seemed very uncomfortable with children.

Isn't that of #1 importance?! Shouldn't that be top on the job description?

I reached my limit when two drifter looking guys showed up at the exit side of the velvet ropes and he stopped talking to Chloe in order to motion to one of them and shout out, "Hey, Jimmy! You came back!"

We hurried out of there in a jiff. Tessa was still bug eyed and clinging to me like a baby Capuchin.

So-called "Santa" got up to bum a smoke of Jimmy.

Well THAT was a memory worth waiting in line in a clammy sweat for.

Chloe was proud, though, so I was glad.
And I felt better after she washed her hands and had some anti-bacterial lotion slathered on.

All the trolliping made my fever worse and by the time evening rolled around I felt like I'd been hit in the face with a redwood.
Thankfully my mom was home for the weekend and took care of me like good Mamas do.

This morning I woke up not feeling much better - A fact that really bummed me out because it was the day of all days at church
- The Thanksgiving potluck.-
There's no day better. It's always bliss to, just for ONE Sunday, not have the
"so where are we going to eat?" debate. (It's usually In N Out.)

Justin thought he was being helpful when he said, "Maybe you need to stay home"
This was a thought which I actually considered until he follwed that up shortly with,
"and just keep the girls here."
Horrible, horrible, wicked, evil plan.
I didn't have the energy to hit him.

Once again, Mom to the rescue, and she went off immediately to the drug store for whatever drugs could get me up and at 'em.
By 9:30 my life had been saved by Tylenol Cold and Sinus.

I was mobile, at least.

We got up and ready and got there.
We sang and shook hands while the room spun around me.
There was a pile of tissues under my feet that looked like you'd need a team of some sort to tackle.
But gosh darn it, I was THERE.
I may have been clammy and feverish and sneezing. I may have not been able to open my eyes all the way. So what if I maybe blacked out a little. I was THERE.

After the service we ate.
Well, I ate while Tessa stuck her fingers in and out of my drink and licked them over and over and over while saying, "Is dood. I wike it."
I was too sick to care.
And she already had the sniffles too, so I wasn't being completely irresponsible.

I wasn't paying attention much to what the kids were eating. Tessa had some turkey skin. Chloe walked by with a brownie at one point. I don't really even know if they ate much of a lunch.

I was pretty focused on the white light and angelic music I kept experiencing.

When we'd all had our fill and I had had my yearly experience that is so beloved, I grabbed my purse and two jackets, a large hanging foam turkey with construction paper chain legs that Chloe'd made in class, two additional projects, the church bulletin, my mound of tissues and my water bottle.
I told Chloe to follow me and headed out the door only to realize I didn't know where Alena or Tessa OR Justin were. And Chloe HADN'T followed me.

I needed serious help by this point. As I turned around to look for them all I got dizzy and all I could do was lock eyes on my friend Dennis and just try to make it to him without falling over.

"Hey, Kerri. How are you?"
"I'm having a near-death experience. You?"

Oh. There's Tessa.
"Alena! Next time you take Tessa with you to the bathroom let me know, OK?"
"Mama. I did. I just told you. I said, 'I'm taking Tessa to the bathroom with me' and you said, 'OK."

"Oh. Well make sure I hear you or make eye contact or something. And where's Justin?
Has anyone seen Justin?"

Mind you:
By now I'm about to drop to my knees with fever and chills and projects and children tugging on my clothing. In the distance I could hear Chloe crying. People were gathering and calling my name. "Don't go towards the light!"
Chloe couldn't find me, she said. She thought I'd left. For a minute I thought I'd left, too.
Tessa was running towards the parking lot.

Where the HECK is Justin?

He was at the dessert table.


I think he came, finally, when he heard the helicopter circling to air lift me.

And when he did, Tessa was gone again.

I stood there with a sweaty upper lip holding half the world.
He stood there holding pumpkin crumb cake.

"I can't find Tessa. Can you please help me?!"

"WHAT? Are you serious?! How could you lose her?!"

.............................This is where I pause to just let you imagine all the things I thought, but didn't say...................................................

And now, this Thanksgiving, I would also like to add to my previous post about all the things for which I give thanks;
I am thankful that you cannot be arrested for your THOUGHTS of violence.

Now I type this after hacking my brains out all evening, taking my temperature, making some tea, popping some Advil for my pounding head, singing two lullabies with a voice that will barely croak, putting two very sleepy girls to bed, teaching Alena to crochet a hat, picking up the living room, blowing out the candles, feeding all the pets, locking up the house and getting ready to go to bed.

I type this BEFORE I go up to join my husband in bed.

My husband who is already sleeping and has been for 2 hours while I did the aforementioned.

May he live to see another day.

I will close with a poem:

Twas the night of the potluck, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring. Not even my spouse.
I tried to be friendly. I said, "Hi. I'm Ker"
In the hopes that some kind soul would just stroke my hair.
The children were bouncing around in their beds
Over the monitor I heard one bonk their head
I blew in my kerchief, helped Alena make a hat
Then trudged on upstairs to tell this kid and that
That if I heard them again with all of their clatter
I wouldn't be back to ask them what was the matter
I'd just lay there heaving my big labored breath
Wondering if this was the bed of my death
What was my name? Where am I? I don't know.
It's only 8:00? You mean I've got HOURS to go?!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Well it wasn't Justin.
My Hubby.
My Dear.
It was a chior of angels - so distant and inviting
I think I saw Heaven, as true as I'm writing.
But a pet needs feeding and so does a kid
So goodbye to the angels is what I chose to bid
There's no rest for mothers. We can't go towards the light.
So I'll keep on fighting and I'll just say goodnight.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greek Vases, Cart Races, and Tear Stained Faces

I've definitely had better days.

Days that didn't practically kick off with sending daycare kids home with bleeding head wounds caused by an unfortunate mix of mini-blind cords and old Greek vases.

The little girl was fine.

I maybe felt even more badly for the mother - who is a couple of months pregnant and had already thrown up once today.

It was pretty much like,
"You're nauseous? Oh. Well, I have just the thing.
Come look at this bleeding head and then just as an extra gift, why don't you breathe in my dog's horrendous gas."

It was like the trauma was not going to end.

Her mom decided to take her home just to keep an eye on her and make sure her pupils stayed the same size and all that jazz. I felt awful.

After she left, I had one and a half unexpected free hours to cram full before my other two little girls came, so I loaded my cranky monsters in the car and headed off for Target for necessities such as diapers and cat food and taco seasoning.

The basics.

We raced around like we were in a shopping spree that would end in 2 minutes as to make it home in time.
The other girls were coming at 1:00.
I could picture the little family waiting on the porch for me as I came screeching in the driveway. Big brown Precious Moments eyes wondering where I was.

I was maniacal in the store, paying and entering my pin and checking my watch and saying,
"SIT DOWN" to Tessa.
I think they may have even alerted the security because I had already felt like I kept seeing a certain Target worker in almost every isle eyeing me funny.

I got funny looks from other Target patrons when we were done paying and Tessa said,
"Mama, I meed a go potty!"
to which I responded, "No you don't. You really don't."

I'm sure it sounded mean, but Tessa is not potty trained. Not even kind of.
Tessa just thinks it's fun to have you take off her diaper, fumble for a toilet seat cover with one hand while keeping HER hands out of the toilet water, and then have you sit her on the toilet for 3 seconds while you say,
"Don't touch the potty. Don't touch it." the whole time
Then she'll say,
"I all done."
without going.
Not even one drop.

I didn't have time for that game.
Some days I humor her. Some days I don't.

When I told her I wasn't taking her to the potty she threw a royal fit that did make me question -
"What if she is practically begging to be potty trained and I'm telling her no?"
but then I chucked that thought and I picked her up to carry her out.

While doing this, her shoe sole caught my shirt and yanked it down half way to my navel almost fully exposing one side of my bra. I couldn't get it free.
RIGHT in front of that two way mirror they have to the office so they can monitor what's going on.

So now, not only am I exposed, and holding my screaming toddler caveman style, I'm exposed in DOUBLE VISION holding my screaming toddler caveman style.


I mean, I was ALREADY wearing flip flops and sweats with my bangs in a barrette. What did it really matter?

In an attempt to re-clothe myself, I held Tessa out in front of me as if she were toxic and then she decided to kick off her shoes completely.

I was blocking cart traffic. I was sweating. I was begging Chloe to hand me Tessa's shoes, which, for some reason, she could not see, though they were right in front of her and VERY brightly colored.

(Directing a preschooler with voice commands is, in my opinion, a task worthy of using as military torture.)

We raced home breaking traffic rules and getting honked at while the girls fought over who got to push the buttons on the DVD player in the car and I pulled in just in time to get a phone call that one of the other two little girls I watch (who are sisters) was sick and so they would not be coming afterall.


Maybe it was a good thing.
Well, not GOOD.
Obviously I don't want my daycare kids bleeding or feverish.
But I think Tessa's not feeling well again and when she doesn't feel well she needs all hands on deck.
She needed me to be able to pay full attention.

At least that's the signals I've gotten all day as she's writhed and cried and begged for raisins like they're laced with crack.

I should have done only that, (hold her) actually, instead of doing other things -

Like checking our bank balance.


But, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I will give thanks.

I will give thanks that along with the bleeding head wound there was no passing out or concussions or more serious of injuries.

I will give thanks that I have kids at all - Sick or beasts or otherwise - because I remember how much I wanted them. And still do.

I will give thanks that only half of my bra was exposed and that at least it was my cute black one instead of my tan granny one.
The Witness Protection Program may have had to get involved with THAT situation.

I will give thanks that no matter what kind of day we have, at the end of it, I'm always left rocking little lavendar scented headed kids to bed while their pudgy hands pat me.

I will give thanks that we may not have a lot of money, but we have what is the most important:

Love, faith, and the promise that tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Little Piggy Liked Portraits

I have a strong backbone.
There are few things that really truly scare me
Besides heights.
And moths.
And Donald Trump's hair.

From the time I was 10, I have always loved a good horror movie and I think Halloween is fun.

But there is one thing that strikes fear into me every single time it is mentioned, and the name of this thing is:

Family Portrait Day.

I cannot remember one solitary time that it has not ended with me eating my own hair and asking around for a Xanax.

But still, like a good mom, I schedule pictures at least once a year.

I want their experience to be different from Justin's.
Justin, who's childhood was basically him taking care of himself.
A childhood which led to us as adults sitting on his mother's couch one day looking through old photo albums and smiling as we looked at the page dedicated to his oldest brother Anthony.
Then Michael.
Then Nate.
But when we turned to what we expected to be Justin's page, it was literally completely blank.
Two blank pages in an entirely full album.
We thought maybe that was the end of the album, but we were wrong.
We turned the page and the pictures resumed.
Justin was mysteriously missing.
Almost entirely undocumented.

I am also determined to make the pictures THEMSELVES better than what I had.
They will be Un-permed.
They will be Un-mulleted.
No bright blue fake-sky backgrounds.

I mean,
It's almost criminal. Right?

This is the precise reason my bag of tricks for getting the girls ready includes flat irons and tweezers and bobby pins and concealer.
Fruit snacks and toys and clowns on unicycles.
A book of magic. A sack full of props.
I want them looking good and looking at least MODERATELY happy.

But no matter how much I prepare and plan and plot and shop for outfits, we ALWAYS end up stressed out, snapping at each other, re-pinning hair and dashing around the house in a mad search for The Coupon.

This time was no different.

Justin had to work the morning I'd scheduled the girls, so it was all on me.
I laid out their clothes the night before.
I sat down and plotted what hairstyles they'd have and what I'd need to bring to keep Tessa calm and centrally located.

I told Chloe we were going to have "Princess pictures" because I've learned from experience and trial that if you insert the word "Princess" into basically everything, she thinks it's great and she is convinced she just HAS to do it.

"Look, Chloe. Mommy made PRINCESS spinach."
I set my alarm for 3 hours before the appointment and thought I'd be sitting around with cucumbers on my eyes I'd have so much luxurious time to kill.


The morning was off and running when Chloe pryed my eyelids open and begged for breakfast. Typical enough.
Alena needed her shirt ironed. The dog threw up. Tessa woke up. The dog threw up again.

I ironed and cooked and got showered and did hair and sprayed hair and found shoes and packed snacks.
I did almost everything but write a will. (And looking back, that might not have been a bad idea.)
I raced around like there was a million dollars at stake and when I was in the end stretch and had completely redone the girls hair AGAIN
(Because doing somersaults around the living room has a tendency to mess up a good do)
I got in a fight with my mom.

(Because, really, what's a good family picture day without at least one fight beforehand?)

Everything was done.
I looked around and it looked like a bomb had gone off in a department store and then vandals had egged the aftermath.
Good thing Justin was gone.

I shoved the girls in the car and threatened them about all the bad that would become of them should they ruin or pick at their hair.
I basically told them to hold their breath and not blink for the 3 miles we'd have to drive to the studio. And don't tell me ANYTHING is "itchy."

We came screeching in the parking lot with one minute to spare only to walk in and have the lady tell us that she was running late and it would be another 20 minutes at least.

Oh good grief.

We were there 6 minutes and already Tessa had said, "Mommy, I go home." 15 times and Alena had checked the mirror at least 7.

"No, Alena. I can't see through your shirt.
Yes, I'm sure. Your bangs look fine.
Trust me.
I DO know something. I picked out your outfit, didn't I?"

Oh. Thank God.
It's our turn.
We're going in.
Everyone is smiling and it seems like this MIGHT actually work.

Wrong again.

Tessa did not love it.
Didn't like it or even SORT of want to tolerate it.
The only way I could get her to hold still for more than 2 seconds was to practically throw fruit snacks at her like a caged animal.
If one was to pan out from the shots we got, they would see bags of empty fruit snacks strewn about like shrapnel.What she wanted to do, apparently, was lay down on her stomach sprawled eagle with her face buried in the drape.

Alena and Chloe did great on their own, but then the group shots came.

Oh the group shots.

If one wasn't pulling the other's flower out of their hair, then they were poking each other's eyes or putting their hands in each other's face just as the flash went off.
"Tessa's squishing my leg."
"I was blinking."
"Chloe! Stop. Stop. STOP."

When one would smile, another looked like they'd been on a four day bender.
When one looked at the camera, the other was looking at them.

It is seriously easier to capture and pin down a wild ostrich - and yes - I have actually had to do that before, so I know.

When we left we walked to Sees to get the photographer some sort of gift as bribery so that she'd allow us back next year.

When we came back to look at our proofs there was a family in the hall soothing a screaming baby in a pig costume, rolling their eyes and discussing maybe having to try another day.
Oh good. We're normal. Ish.

I guess when I really think about it, it's the funny pictures that maybe DIDN'T work out so well that end up being the favorites anyway. Those are the ones you really remember.

Like Alena's two year picture where she was scared of the back-drop, so the only way she'd get a shot was to be holding my hand for dear life in the picture.

Or my brother's second grade one where for some reason the photographer kept telling him to lean a little further a little more....and a little more, until he is completely diagonal in the shot.

Or my friend Natalie's kids' Christmas Santa picture where Santa is smiling, but all three of her toddlers are screaming like there's a massacre going on.

It's about real life.
Not about no stray hairs.

It's about documenting the crazy.

Keeping the memory that at this point, right here,

THIS little piggy liked fruit snacks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Species: Twinnicus Best Friendula

I've been so busy the last couple of days that I haven't had a free moment to properly document the happenings.

And believe me, there's much to document.

Anytime my best friend Lisa is in town, things happen.
Or maybe things mostly stay the same but they're just more fun when she's here.
It is not uncommon to have physical pain lasting days from the laughter we have together. I've actually torn muscles before.

Lisa's flight came in on a Wednesday, so we worked it out that I would pick her up from the airport and then we'd stay in a hotel that night for a sort of mid-week girls' weekend.

Just me and her, a notepad to fill with our genius ideas, and time that stretched out before us.

I headed out that morning with a coffee in hand for the drive to the city.
All was perfect.
Great music on the stereo, coffee in hand, no fighting in the backseat, a break from the Yo Gabba Gabba cd on repeat.
Just the view of the Golden Gate bridge peaking up above the fog like a postcard made it worth it all.

(I am omitting the part that happened here about my tire pressure light going on, me having visions of dying in a fiery blaze due to a blow out and driving around Novato for what seemed like forever in search of a tire shop.)

45 minutes after crossing the bridge, there she was - standing out in front of the airport.
Her 14 suitcases filled with fabulous fashion and makeup and one Toy Story guitar laying beside her.
She was doing her half pucker/smile that means,
"Hello. I can't WAIT to see what kinds of shenanigans await us."

Our hotel was close by, but before we checked in we decided to grab some lunch since she hadn't eaten in 10 hours and the mini package of Disney fruit snacks I had dug out from the recesses of my purse weren't cutting it.

If we had been in the van there would have been plenty to snack on.
Stale Cheerios stuck to the side of the floorboard, old half licked lollipops, a few fuzzy raisins, and for the REALLY desperate -
An entire cup of dried coffee that could potentially be sucked out of the console carpet.
BUT, we were in Justin's car.
Captain Cleanliness.

He may even dust his registration......

The fun began when we were seated and our waiter appeared, having only one eye open and asked us if we 'had any questions.'
Questions about the FOOD, or questions things?
....Like, say, the status of his eye.

Lunch was spent laughing and catching up on all sorts of tales that to an innocent bystander may have sounded like folklore, and then ended with the always standard conversations on current hair color opinions.
Questions like, "But does it make me look Goth?" and "Do I look like a jr. higher?"
She assured me my hair was not brassy.
Now that is a true best friend.

We checked into our hotel next door and headed off to find our room.

And find it, we did.

We drove slowly looking at the room numbers on the doors.
Just great, we thought, the cleaning cart was out front and the door was open.

Did they give us a room that wasn't even clean yet?

Lisa offered to get out and examine what was going on, and I sat there in the running car watching her tap the half opened door lightly and then go in saying, "Hello?..."

She was in there for awhile.

I started to wonder what was going on, when suddenly she reappeared with bulging eyes and a traumatized expression, making a bee-line for the car.

"WHAT?! What happened?!"
"Ummmm. Ummmmm......."

"Lisa. Seriously. WHAT?!"
"There's someone in there."

"Are they cleaning still?"
"Um. No. They're taking a dump. In our bathroom."

*pause here for an opened mouth*

"Yeah....There is a maintenance man in our bathroom, going poo."

"Going poo?! How can you know that?"
"Ker.......He had the door open. He made EYE CONTACT."

Then she told the tale of how the maintenance man,
who we later found out was named Jaime,
had heard her calling out, cracked open the door, looked her in the eye as he sat on the pot and begged - "Five minute. Five minute."

That was five minutes we did NOT give.

It really wasn't my desire to check into our room and have to light a match immediately upon entry. If I have to smell it, I need to have a personal relationship with the person who did it or I'm a no go.

We went back to the front desk and promptly requested another room telling the concierge that there was still someone in it.
He pulled out his radio.

"Jaime! Jaime! Are you in room 184?"
"Uh....All done, Boss. All done."
"What were you doing in there?"
"Um.....I had to fix something, Boss. Small thing. All done now, Boss."
"Why did you not report that there was something that needed repair? I don't see a maintenance report!"
"Finished now, Boss. All done."

Regardless, we got our new room - sans stench - and it was great.

Our trip was filled with what all trips with Lisa are filled with - Unreal amounts of laughter, nail painting, makeup, fabulous ideas that have potential to make us millions, and pictures.

There was even an event of getting kicked out of the pool because apparently it was for laps and not just having a good time.
Hey. I'm sorry if I'm not doing laps.
It's hard to do laps AND have a discussion about the couple swimming in the pool with flippers on.
I mean - WHO wears flippers in a hotel pool?
Clearly they HAD to be European.

I cannot possibly go into detail about everything that we did, but I can say it involved someone trying to break into our room, and later us getting locked out of our room in our pajamas at 2am, Some cheesecake and a colorful metal bird.

The fun continued the next morning at Starbucks where we stopped for coffee before a day of jewelry shopping.

It was one of those days when everything was funny and fun.
The sun was shining. The air was fresh.
We were about one woodland creature away from a Disney forest dance scene.

I think the Starbucks cashier wanted to clock out and come with us wherever we were going because she was so busy ogling Lisa's outfit and saying how fun we were that the line was building up and wrapping around the counter.
Ventis be darned, she had girl talk to do.

I was starting to worry we'd be mobbed for blocking up the line.
WAS worried until a lady literally got out of line and came over to us to tell us that she needed to let us know that we were so infectious with our laughter and fun that we were making everyone around us happy.
That everyone in line had been discussing that we had made their day with our happiness.
That will forever remain one of my favorite compliments of all time.

There would be no mobbing after all.
And I think I almost saw the glimmer of a tear in the cashier's eye when we walked away.

Then - we shopped.

We got rings at the Lucky counter.
Hers, a very Kat von D-esque ring that takes up half her finger and - to put it as she does - "Quite possibly has magical powers."
Me, a snake ring that would make Cleopatra tremble with delight.

It was great.
They may possibly make a movie out of it some day.

And that was just the beginning.
With Lisa, going to the drug store is an adventure.

There could not be a better Best.

It's just so nice to be GOTTEN.

To have someone just GET why it's funny to give people Latin names such as
"Wispus Albinus Tropicalis" if they wear an entirely tan Bahama outfit with a straw hat and have a white wispy beard.

Or "Matrimonius Twinnicus" for the couple who look more like brother and sister than lovers.

She jumps in.
She contributes fabulously.
She is the single funniest person I've ever met and the two of us combined almost cause implosions of joy.

She completes me.

When she left to head back to Toronto yesterday, it was all I could do not to plaster myself against the glass of our front room window and mouth
"TAKE ME WITH YOU." as she drove away.
But I have my dignity. At least SOME of it.

Friendlisa Fabulosa.

She had me at Hello.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Proper Care and Raising of Children

I'm getting ready to go out of town on Wednesday.

My BFF, Lisa, is coming in from Toronto and we're planning some much needed girl time in the city.
We've been planning it for months.
Talking about it.
Trying to take deep breaths as we discuss all that joy that will be ours.
Hotel, shopping, spa, swimming, bearing our souls to eachother over some Bordeaux while our polish dries.
Feather beds, ETC. -- You get the picture.

But I'm starting to get nervous.

It's going to be the first time I've left Justin for any length of time alone with the girls, and the first time I've left Tessa this long at all.
It's not that I don't think he can do it. He can. I just worry about the LEVEL he'll do it at.

He shrugs it off as if it's going to be just fine, but I know him.

I know that this trip is happening at a dreadful time in history called
"Crutial Giants Games Coinciding with Little Girl Bed Times."

I'm invisioning him forgetting completely about their care because he's too busy having outbursts at Barry Zito through the television screen or rolling around on the floor in anguish over closing pitcher choice.

He tells me not to worry about all that because they are going to win - Something he says with silent pleading aimed towards God in his eyes.

I've contemplated leaving him a note, in outline form, about the proper steps towards child rearing, but I'm sure it's all just my own neurosis.
He'll be just fine, right?

He knows what they like,

I think.

He at least knows the TUNE to Baby Mine and can SORT of sing it to them before bed.
Or at least hum. Anyone who knows him would never expect him to ACTUALLY get the words right, so a general version is alright.
(Anyone who thinks the song is "Rock the Cat's Paw" needs some grace.)

He will surely be alright with the fact that Tessa asks to have socks put on every night right before bed just so that as soon as the lights are out she can work on taking them off. A bed time puzzle of sorts.

He can probably remember to close the curtains all the way so that no SHRED of light gets into their room, because Chloe is quite positive that seeing light must mean the window is open, and if the window is open, an owl will most definitely come screeching through the opening into the room, circle her head and will then land on her.

Will he remember to feed them at least ONE vegetable in two days?
(Is ketchup a vegetable?)

I'm almost positive he'll remember to pack Alena a lunch that is both balanced and yummy and that he'll remember to write a note on her napkin telling her she's loved and to have a good day.

He'll make sure she brushes the tops of her braces brackets, as to keep them from looking like little silver moss planters, right?

Should I remind him that sometimes, if Tessa is hitting Chloe, it's because Chloe is doing things to Tessa when we're not looking and sometimes Chloe deserves it.

Should I leave notes saying it's CRUTIAL that he stand at the door after kissing them goodnight and say to them, in this EXACT order,
"Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Goodnight."
or else Chloe will cry and sob that it was done wrong and he will most likely be in for a half hour long battle complete with snot and drool.

Shall I remind him that it's always best to TELL Chloe that the water in her sippie is fresh because if you elude to it being over 4 hours old she will insist it tastes funny and that it demands your attention.
That you will then have to go downstairs to the sink to refill it because bathroom sink water tastes different than kitchen water.
(A weird concept that I actually agree with.)

I might need to tell him that Tessa cannot have her stuffed animals in her bed because if she does, she will use them to pelt at Chloe one by one.

Or that if Chloe cries that she sees a spider, it is actually best to just pretend to get it down than to argue with her that there actually IS no spider at all.

I will tell him that Tessa likes a huge protein breakfast, not unlike a trucker, but don't make her say "trucker" unless you also want her to SOUND like one.

And that reminds me - Maybe he needs a sort of translation dictionary.
Like that "I'llhabbitbatfwease" means that Chloe has something Tessa wants and "she'll have it back, please." or that
"Poop go bye bye." is Tessa's way of telling you she just farted.

I'm scared of the hairstyles that will happen.
I'm scared of the outfits that will happen.
(If they are even changed out of their pajamas at all.....)

I'm scared he will sporatically change bed time to 6:00 and just watch baseball and lay on the couch and eat half a pie.

I'm making it sound like he's a neglectful father. He really isn't. He's a great dad and they probably even love him more than they love me, so all will be fine.



He said he might take them to do something fun. At first he was mentioning things like the zoo or the city and I just stood there bug eyed. The CITY? Alone? YOU?!
There is no more frenzied, crazy, hair-brained idea than Justin alone in the city with all three girls. The thought almost gave me an aneurysm.
He can hardly handle taking them to Target.

This is where I gently suggested something closer to home. Something shorter. Something that would not most likely end with some sort of emergency team being called.
He came up with the pet store as an alternative.

Yes. Yes, Young Grasshopper. You are starting to think with your heart.

And FYI - **Taking Chloe to get her Tarantula fix first allows for an easier trip. For her, it's all about the spiders.**

I'm realizing all this fretting means I am a hopeless control freak.

It's only two days, afterall.

Two days that I desparately need and should enjoy while I can.

Two days spent slathered in mud masks or shopping and DEFINITELY laughing so much that I cannot breathe.
Why should I be worried?

Because I'm Mom.
Because I will always think that no one takes as good of care of my children as I do - Even their own father.
Because I know every molecular working of this house and also know that this Green Family Empire would all come crashing down without me.

I run this joint.
That's probably reason enough.
This family is my job and
It's the job description to be neurotic.

I'm really good at my job.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day Tea of Terror

We just dropped Alena off for her last first day at Pleasant Hill Christian School.
It was bittersweet.
A mixture of happiness to have her back in school, and sadness that it's her last year at that wonderful school.

She's attended PHCS since kindergarten, and almost all of her class has, too.

She forgot to kiss me goodbye. I guess I should be used to it.
She was too busy showing off her new lunch bag and making the face she makes when she's excited and is trying not to smile.

She looked cute.
An amazing feat when you're in middle school.

I think it's basically a generally accepted thing that your middle school years should be your most awkward.
This is a concept I refuse to accept, and one day I'm sure Alena will thank me that lastnight I pinned her down on my bed and plucked her eyebrows for her.
She thinks I'm torturous. I think I'm saving her life.

I stood around with the other parents snapping pictures and trying to keep Tessa from freeing the class chinchillas until the teacher actually told us we had to go. Like, NOW.

PHCS always holds a First Day Tea at the firehouse down the road, so off we went in a parade fashion down the hill and in the doors.

While Justin swan dove into the mound of sweetened carbs on the table, my eyes immediately went to the poster on the wall that said:

Wednesday Janitorial/Bathroom Clean Up Volunteers
and I had a mini panic attack.

It was like a movie where everything fades to a cloudy white and I was taken back to a time when we used to clean the school for extra money.
We went there two times a week, a half hour drive each way, and cleaned as a family.
It was sheer torture.
There wasn't a week without a game of
"guess what substance is stuck to the boys bathroom stall walls"
and the vacuuming ALONE could be part of the plot line for Saw VI.

We did that job for four years. Four that felt like ten.

I thought about the moms at the school who do everything. EVERY THING.
They sign up on every sheet. They drive to every field trip. They make crafts and poster boards and cheer at every relay race. They probably have pictures of the school building tattooed across their lower backs.
I thought about how I would like to be that type of mom, but then I thought that if it required Wednesday janitorial/bathroom clean up volunteering, I was going to just have to settle into my title as
Slacker Mom who's kid frees the chinchillas.

But, good ol' Justin.
He signed up for something.

After school pick up for the little kids.

The little kids who get out an hour earlier than Alena, who is our only child attending the school.
He signed up when his schedule is likely to change every week and there are many days he'll probably be working.
He signed up not realizing that signing your name for Thursday afternoons meant THIS Thursday afternoon, as in TODAY.

He's upstairs asleep after working all night.
He's supposed to be there in an hour.

He signed up, but in reality - He signed ME up.

I can just picture it now - Me out there in the afternoons with both girls who will be missing their nap because of the time slot, trying to keep them from meltdowns and from running into oncoming school pick up circle traffic while simultaneously shoving kids into their cars and chit chatting with their parents.

Oh yeah - and they want me to paint a mural.
I'll get right on that.

After I snapped back into reality, I saw that after Tessa had removed half the table cloth and shown her belly to the entire room, she had helped herself to about half of a watermelon with the same fingers she'd just been sticking in her nose and Chloe's.
She climbed, she jumped, she rifled through the baked goods, she shrieked as the Parent Club tried to explain e-scrip.
(An explanation that for the LIFE of me I cannot stay concious for.)

It was like I was in the primate enclosure trying to teach sign language to monkeys that, frankly, would rather be eating their own mites.

Meanwhile, Chloe sat next to me with a scowl on her face and the only words coming from her mouth being,
"Mommy, will you wipe my noooooooooossssseeee?" 4000 times.

I picked her up to cuddle her and she layed her face flat into my chest and blew out the biggest, snottiest sneeze there ever was all over my skin.
She was so pressed up against me that besides all the snot, the sneeze made a raspberry sound (Why do they call it that, anyway? Raspberry?....)
and then she sat up, looked me in the eyes and said, "Mommy. You look pretty."

Gee. Thanks. Snot does that to a person.
As does making the room think someone over here farted by the noise you just made.
As if all eyes weren't on us already.

What can I say? It's a glamor job.

By this time, Justin was almost in a diabetic coma from all the sweet rolls he ate, and after waking up after only one hour of sleep to come to this, he wasn't looking so hot himself.
He almost looked in need of oxygen.

I realized we'd better leave before they posted a
"Do not allow this family to register for school again" poster next to the bathroom cleaning sign up sheet.

I'm pretty sure we terrorized everyone sufficiently.
We Greens aim to please.

"Mama, Where are we going next?"
"We're going home, Honey. Home where four walls hide our insanity from the world, at least most of the time."


"Can I have a snack when we get there?"

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mother May I Have Ten Snacks?

One day I am going to actually keep track of the amount of time I spend in a day making some sort of food for the girls.

They eat NON STOP.
I thought teenage boys were supposed to be bad, but you'd think these girls were going out for JV football the way they eat.

From the moment they spring out of their beds in the morning they are asking to be fed.
“O-mee-ows, Mama. O-mee-ows.” (Oatmeal)
“Mama, I’m weally weally hungwy. My tummy hurts weal bad.”
This one is followed by the backhand on the forehead, international symbol for "I will surely perish."

It’s like they’ll wither and die without it
– Something I know will definitely NOT happen to a 3 year old and an almost 2 year old who are both approaching 40 pounds.

Every morning, I get my eyelids pryed open with a tiny index finger and then I get dragged downstairs well before I’m ready and spend the next hour in the kitchen cooking oatmeal, then eggs, then peeling mandarins and fishing for raisins.

And for some reason, I have grown to dread getting their sippies ready.
When they ask for something to drink, I often get cold chills.
I don’t know why.
I guess it’s because they always ask for something to drink just as I think I’m done, maybe, with food service for a few minutes.

After they eat and I clean the oatmeal bits out of their hair and wipe their sticky fingers and then make a good solid attempt at pulling the bib over Tessa’s hair without getting everything that’s stuck on IT in her hair, I get them down and I could bet the farm that one of them will MAYBE give me about 15 minutes before they’re asking for something else to eat.

If they are not asking for something else to eat,
it’s because their fingers are already poking around in MY breakfast and shoving it in their own mouths.

My breakfast that is no doubt cold because I made it when I made their FIRST breakfast and it just sat there as I made their breakfast #’s 2, 3, and 4.

This makes for interesting food journaling on my part.

I’m on about my fifth go-round of Weight Watchers now, and have been doing really well with journaling, but this morning learned my lesson not to count my egg points before they’ve
Hatched because this is what my food journal looks like after Tessa came a-hunting.

I had just relinquished half my breakfast to Tessa and at this moment, my mom came down and headed out the door with her food in hand grabbing her keys to head off to work.
It was like everything froze.
Their eyes locked on her like cats would if a mouse ran by.
Their pupils dilated.
I could almost hear their pulses quicken.
Time slowed like it does in a vampire movie just before a kill.

They went running after her asking for a taste before they really even knew what it was she was eating.
It could have been bran toast covered in rubber cement and they would have asked for some.
If it goes in your mouth, they want it.
Actually, even if it DOESN’T go in your mouth they want it, but that’s a different story.

She gave them a taste.

”Mmmmmm. Mama! This is good! Can I have some?”
“Sure. I mean, I’m already in the kitchen cleaning up your LAST snack.”

By the time lunch time rolls around, there is a pile of dishes half way to the molding.
And that’s just noon.

This lasts all day.
I am allowed little snippets of time here and there to shower and pee and smooth wild wisps of hair, but that’s about it.

Afterall, when you’re a mom, you might as well just forget about any personal needs that last longer than 20 minutes.

A 30 minute interval?
That’s a fantasy creature right up there with a leprechaun.

I’m thinking of just setting up a cot in the laundry room so I can have quick access.
A servant’s quarters, of sorts.

It’s really no wonder all my clothes have bits of food on them all the time and my skin feels shiny.
Anyone’s would if they spent 20 out of 24 hours standing in front of a pot of boiling water or sizzling oil.

It’s not even a joke that when I began writing this, the laptop was set up on the kitchen counter so I could write and pour kefir simultaneously.

Perhaps instead of teaching them things like ABCs or number sequence, I should start with something more practical for ME, like how to spread peanut butter without tearing the bread and should post sign ups for a course called
“You TOO can break off a chunk of cheese!”

Monday, August 23, 2010


I have a reoccurring dream.

I'm running in an open space, and then just as if I'm on some sort of stair-stepper, I start pushing my feet against the air -
Climbing higher and higher into the sky and before I know it I'm soaring -
Showing off to people below who are pointing and waving and awestruck.
In the dream I'm powerful and set apart.
The only one who can do what I'm doing.

When I wake up, I'm smiling.

Something has happened to me lately.
I had been walking around in a fog. A daze.
Every day feeling the same - Like a record skipping the same tune over and over again.

I don't know what it really is, but there's a new fire in me.
It's like I got up one morning in the last few weeks with super powers.

I feel alive.
I feel invigorated.
I feel hopeful and optimistic.
I feel happy and blessed.

Not that I wasn't feeling those things at all before, but all of a sudden, they're just more amped up.

I think it happened about two weeks ago.
One morning, I opened my eyes and felt a ping of energy.
I felt every excuse for how I was spending my time fade away and I saw things more clearly.
Then, I did the best thing that anyone can do with that sort of feeling, I think -

I acted on it.

That day I worked out for 2 hours. I ate good. I smiled more. I let the kids bounce in their beds at nap time and sat downstairs listening to their giggles on the baby monitor.
Instead of charging upstairs to tell them to knock it off - I sat down with a glass of water and just listened and I giggled too.
The next day, I did it all again - pushing myself. Challenging my own beliefs.

Now, I know after years of looming depressive feelings and equal time of trying to fight off those feelings that this recent soaring mood may be just a crest of a hill that will soon start heading downward,
but I'm choosing to enjoy it while it's here.

It's like all of a sudden colors are more vibrant, food has more flavor and I'm breathing more deeply.

I attribute a lot of it to the exercise. It's been 1.5 hours + every day for about a week and a half -
But I also attribute it to conscious decision and hard work and prayer.

Instead of feeling mired down in my Groundhog Day moments of the every day, I'm choosing to make those days different in some small way.
It takes thought and planning.

When I boil it all down,
I'm absorbing the blessings.

The other day, when Chloe refused to take a nap in her own bed and the only way she'd sleep was with me in my bed
which she repetitively says is "Weally weally comfy" -
She had finally drifted off to sleep and I lay there staring at her thick long eyelashes and perfectly still lips and there was a flash of remembrance of when we were trying to get pregnant with her.

We tried and tried and nothing.
It seemed like a cruel joke.
Why would God make me with a mother's heart and then hold it back from me?

I remembered finally getting pregnant. I remembered the elation.
Then I remembered the feeling of the celebratory dinner, when I felt myself start to bleed.

The panic.
The pleading.
The pain.
The life draining loss.

That experience changed me in ways I cannot explain to most people who haven't lost something they really really wanted.

It taught me that true growth comes in the painful moments - Not the easy ones.

It taught me that sometimes the best plans for us are seen when our own get scrapped.

I remembered getting pregnant again right away, and how I felt when at 10 weeks I started to bleed again.
I've never prayed so hard in all my life.

But one tearful, panic stricken ultrasound later, there was that flickering heart on the screen. The baby was OK.
Chloe was OK.
Her name, meaning "Verdant and blooming" had real reason.

I'll never stop thinking of her as my redemptive child.

And just like God, she's also been my most challenging.
The squeaky wheel.
The dramatic one.
(May that serve as a reminder to be careful what you wish for.

All those thoughts were in that moment as she smacked her lips and rolled over on my pillow.

Take it in, Kerri.
Remember where you came from. Look at where you're going.

Live every moment as it was intended.
Stop waiting for the next perfect moment.
Stop waiting for the temperature to be right and my weight to be right and our money to be right.

THIS is what's right. What if this moment is all you've got?

So something's clicked.
I'm really loving things right now.

I even closed my eyes tonight and took a good long sniff off the top of Tessa's post dinner hair so that I could remember what toddler pizza oil head smells like.

I took Alena school shopping today and let her get all skinny jeans instead of some sensible ones because she's a pre-teen and how she feels really matters right now.

Nothing should hold her back from being fabulous, and gosh darn it - Nothing should hold ME back, either.

So I'll walk and I'll run and I'll sweat and
I'll do my makeup even when I'm just going to the park.

And then I take a nap next to one of the precious little beings in this world that remind me that I'm alive and that I have a reason to stop just walking and fly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lost in Moshi Translation

Have you ever heard someone talking and for a few split seconds you can't figure out what language they are speaking?

That just happened to me.
In the bathtub.

There I was, minding my own business - Bubbles up to my ears, Time Traveler's Wife in hand, finally settling in for my first moments of real relaxation for the day, when in burst Alena looking forlorn.
And when I say burst, I mean burst. Enough to scare the cat and send him scurrying under the bed with saucer eyes.

What came out of her mouth next left me stunned, dazed and completely confused.
I felt like Paris Hilton must feel in....I don't know - LIFE.

"Mama you know my new Moshi Monsters account well I entered in my new code that I got for my birthday but instead of entering it in my new account that I play on all the time I entered it into my old account and I didn't mean to because I was thinking of the password that I use for Roblox and I forgot that I changed it for Moshis and now I put it on the animal that I used to play with and if you don't play with them for a long time they starve to death and so now his food is at 0 and his happiness is at 0 and he's holding his stomach so I wrote to the people at Moshi and told them that I put it on the wrong account and Nina said they will probably get back to me tomorrow."

Then she stood there.
Staring at me with sad puppy eyes.

The look she was giving me was a look of
"I am expecting an emotional response from you."
All I could do was just sit there, blinking.

I couldn't even figure out what she'd just SAID, let alone how I should respond. Shoulder shaking sobs? Maniacal laughter? Deep knee bends?

I envisioned my brain cells spontaneously trying to eat one another for nourishment.

I sat there for a solid minute blinking and trying to dissect what on EARTH it was she had just told me and why it was bubble-bath-interruption worthy.
She sat there chewing her nails.

What are the sentiments that one should express in times like these?
"Oh Honey. I'm sorry you have to play with starving Moshi Monster?"
"Peace be with you, My Child, and also with your Moshi?"

What the heck is a MOSHI?
Wait.....Are you a spy? Am I surrounded?

I wanted to be caring about this obviously upsetting and tragic occurrence, but all I could do was smile. Because that's what people do when they lose their minds.

I really must be getting old. All this newfangled video game speak is lost on me.

In my day, we had to walk 10 miles in the snow barefooted to feed our Moshis.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Preteen: Creature of Mystery

Over a decade ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who I named Alena.

I remember everything about it -
The way her hot, 5 second old skin felt as it was laid onto mine.
The way her eyes looked as they blinked and squinted and tried to focus under the bright hospital lights.
The way her head smelled.

I remember the first night alone with her - after the nurses had stopped prodding me and poking me - and I unwrapped her blanket, as I held my breath, to really examine her whole body for the first time.

Alena has grown to be many great things.
She is a die hard friend.
She is an insatiable reader. I think in this summer alone (which mind you is only half over) she has probably read a sum total of 4000 pages. Maybe even more.
She loves animals and would probably have us getting arrested for animal hoarding if she had her way.
She is a collector. Of stuffed animals and (recently proclaimed) ERASERS.
And judging by the looks of her room, possibly also empty cups and paper scraps.....

I proudly hung her most recent SAT test results on the kitchen cabinet because her scores are out of this world.
She scored in the top 10% of the NATION in almost every subject, with all of her language grades being in the top 2%!
I bragged.
I gazed lovingly at the report.
I sometimes even stroke the paper with my finger tips as if it's my pet.

All this to say - She is one smart cookie and I'm so thankful that I have her.

And this is where I get confused.

This intelligent, beautiful girl sometimes does things that leave me not only perplexed, but downright scared for her very survival to adulthood.

This morning I asked her to take her cereal bowl and scrape the excess cereal into the garbage before putting the bowl in the sink and later walked in to find her standing about 4 feet from the trash, flinging spoonfulls of cereal into the can as she simultaneously let milk pour from the bowl onto the hardwood. She was holding it completely sideways in her hand. She didn't even notice the splashes of milk on her bare toes.

When I asked her what she was doing, her face went completely blank and she looked off somewhere that I can only guess was somewhere around the top of my ear, and hung her mouth open.

No answer.

She actually never DID answer. I had to do an impromptu cereal dumping tutorial for her as she stood there glazed over.

I shook my head and walked off mentally backtracking to see if I could remember any incidences of catching her eating lead chips.

Later in the day, I overheard her on the phone with her friend.
From far away, I thought maybe they were discussing life, or school or at the very least having an actual conversation. Afterall, they WERE on the phone.
I thought I was safe to assume.

Upon closer inspection, however, I saw she was scraping the mouthpiece with her index finger and heard her say,

"Nina......Can you hear that?....*guffaw*......I'm scratching the talking thing with my finger."



Please someone. Explain it to me.
The Mystery of the Preteen.

Teach me their ways and show me how to communicate.

Impart to me wisdom on how to get concepts across such as:
double dipping
keeping your gum in your mouth
Family Priveledge

Tell me how someone can be so into fashion and sideswept bangs and bangles but yet be lost to the world of showering.

I do remember this age, though.
I remember the insecurities and feeling that I'd cry for no reason at all.
I remember feeling like nobody understood me.

Of course, looking back, even I don't understand me because no one in their right mind would have had this hair:


But, I made it through and she will, too.
I just hope she makes it through without sticky milk feet.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Playground Inspection Schmaground Inspection

This morning we walked my mini group-home to the school to play on the park by the kindergarten room. We go there all the time and usually we're the only ones there.

Today, when we arrived, we saw there were some other women there and I assumed other kids, until Alena -- Alerter of All Things Odd -- came to me and whispered,
"Mama. What are they doing? There aren't any kids with them."

Upon closer examination, I realized they were playground safety inspectors on the job. Cameras in hand. Clipboards at the ready.
(I also saw the "Playground Inspection Kit" tag on their rolling duffle in the walkway.)

The kids ran off to play anyway and I sat to observe.

I watched as these very official women pulled out a plastic yellow head shaped item with a handle from their bag and then tried to shove it in every conceivable crevass.
Between the bars.
Between the stairs.
In the spokes of the pretend Captain's wheel.

After this, they took out a measuring tape and measured the distance from the edge of the stairs to the concrete. Alena asked if this was to make sure that a kid couldn't fall and hit their head on the concrete from the stairs.
I guess she must have been right. Unless it was a freakishly tall kid.

My issue is that with that mentality, one might, say, measure from the end of the slide to the side of the school building in case a kid with great trajectory flew off the end and into space and crashed into the wall.

One woman with a leather berret and a clipboard was very serious about her job.
She surveyed the kids playing without even a twitch of a smile as she scribbled with her pencil.
The only thing I heard her say the whole time was,
"Now we need to check the slide exits."

I had to laugh.
These people had clearly forgotten what childhood was.
They need a Personal Peter Pan.

I mean, I know what the purpose of it is, and I in every way agree with keeping kids safe, but geez - I think we may have gone too far, America.

They have already taken almost all swings out of parks because they have been deemed unsafe.
Swings are one of the cornerstones of park life in my mind.
But maybe that's just me.

When I was a kid almost every slide was metal and rusty and would most likely tip completely over if there was a big gust of wind. If you cut yourself you'd better be up on your Tetanus.
The sides of it were about 1 inch tall and really had no purpose at all if you happened to have any meat on your bones.

There were merry-go-rounds and they WERE merry.
What kid DOESN'T like spinning around at nauseating speeds?
Who cares if there is a *slight* danger of flying off into a few bystanders?
We'd just dust ourselves off, wipe any blood off with some of our own spit, and then get back on and do it all over again.

Kids LOVE that stuff.

I mean just this week we were in the mall and had to stop and wait as Tessa spun around and around in the entry way until she made herself dizzy and went crashing into a large Lucy statue. She then said, "Head", giggled and walked off at an angle.

And isn't getting your head stuck in something almost a childhood right of passage?

In my day, (I must be old to have said that.) parents really barely even watched their kids at all.

We'd go out at daybreak and not come in until the sun went down.
We'd play in the creek without water rings or sunscreen or hats or glasses or those weird little water shoes from the drugstore.
We'd make soup from water in the creek that was, for all we know, a sewer run-off.
We threw rocks and actually ATE our mud pies.
I don't think I washed my hands from 1986 until 1990.

I thought it was normal to get so much sun that you thought you'd throw up.

The adults didn't worry that we'd get hurt.
And we actually rarely did.

As a matter of fact, even when we DID, they'd roll their eyes and huff their breath and begrudgingly get up to search for bandages.
I'm now realizing that this very thing may have been the birth-place of the DVR, because I suspect they just didn't want to miss their "show" for something such as blood and gore and nurturing.

I remember one time, for example, I was running and ran right into the end of a large piece of scrap metal sticking off of my dad's truck and sliced the side of my face open so badly that blood was literally DRIPPING down my face.
When I walked in crying and pale (most likely from the blood loss) my mom's shoulders dropped and she said,


We just made a game of it. One of our favorites was
See Who Can Get The Least Metal Welding Shrapnel Embedded In Their Bare Feet While Walking In The Driveway After One Of Dad's Projects.
It was a way of life.

We actually didn't want HIM to aid us for fear that his remedy would be something you'd only hear of in a book about a mad scientist.
We didn't want our gashes sewn up with horse tail hair.

And by the way, where was that yellow plastic head tool at Sonoma Taco Shop yesterday when Chloe wedged her whole body in the bars at the ordering line and I practically had to ask for the tortilla oil bottle to get her out?

That's not scary.
That's comedy.

Why are we so frightened of a scraped knee?
Isn't that a part of childhood?
Feeling a cool wet cloth on your leg and learning the lesson that sometimes things hurt, but that shouldn't stop you from trying them.
That it's good to dust yourself off and next time just mind your step a bit more.

So please give the kids their swings back.
And the merry-go-rounds, while you're at it.
Then maybe after you're done, YOU should try them for a bit.
Try touching the leaves with your toes on the upswing.
Maybe even jump off from the highest point.
Whirl around and around until you get a little sick.
It's OK to smile even if you ARE wearing a leather hat.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hush Little Baby and other pipe dreams

I am so tired.

Three hours of sleep is just not cutting it.

Lastnight had me looking around my room for hidden cameras because it seemed like such a prank.
I went to bed at midnight after working on a Namescape and catching up on a few shows I'd DVRed.
I thought that almost 8 hours sounded divine and plentiful.

I wasn't accounting for the 2 following hours of tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling.
When I finally DID drift off, Tessa woke up.
Then Chloe woke up.
Then Tessa wouldn't go back to sleep.
Then Chloe woke up again and sat up in bed as I started to carry Tessa off.
I was taking her to our bed to see if she'd sleep there and literally wanted to cry when I saw Chloe's head pop up in her toddler bed.
It was 4:00 in the morning and my arms were full of her 32 pound "little" sister, and she was asking me to tickle her.

How about not.
How about you close your eyes and sleep like a normal human does.
Sometimes I think they are actually not human at all.

I don't know what was up with Tessa. She fussed and writhed and whispered,
"Mama, hold you." in the dark.

She finally drifted off at 4:30 sprawled in the middle of our bed like a queen.
I didn't dare move her again for fear she'd wake up again, so I was forced to lay on my side and get 'comfortable' in approximately 3 square inches of bed space.
I seriously contemplated crawling in her crib.

She had my pillow, and she ALSO had a sly little sleeping smile.


Again - I was JUST about to doze off, finally, when suddenly a chorus of birds arose from the tree outside that left me bug eyed.
I have never, in all my life, heard birds that loud in the DAY time, let alone when it's still dark outside.

I got up to close the window.

I put on my eyemask.
There.....A LITTLE more peaceful.

Then I heard, "Chirp."..........."Chirp"..........."Chirp."
It wasn't the birds.
It was the smoke alarm in the hall. The battery was dying.

And of COURSE it's not an alarm that is close enough to beat with the stick end of a broom, even.
It is a super-lofty-ceiling alarm that would require a trek to the garage and the retrieval of a tall ladder to change. Perfect.
That is where I draw the line at 5:00 in the morning.

Instead of counting sheep, I laid there and mentally listed all the varying types of ear plugs.
There are the spongy ones that you pinch, there are the bright colored silly putty type ones, flexible rubber, headphones.........

Finally, around 5:30, I fell asleep for real, only to be awakened at 7:00 -- 45 minutes before my alarm went off -- by Tessa yanking off my sleep mask with her sticky little fingers and shrieking, "BWATHETH!!!" (glasses-Her favorite thing ever)
She then clammered down and rifled through every item in our bathroom cabinets and came out sucking on the hydrocortizone tube with fingernail scissors in one hand and the toilet plunger in the other.

I had an arrythmia, twitched a bit, then sprung up out of bed.

Justin was pretending to be asleep. I know he was pretending because when he's faking his eyes are closed and when it's real, they're open. Weird, but true.

I wanted to club him.
Not because he'd done something, but because he'd snored and dreamed at I'd tossed and turned and shut windows and cuddled babies and plotted becoming a bird sniper.

He sleepily said, "Good morning."
To which I replied, "I slept three hours."
Then, my kind and sensitive husband screwed up his face and said, "No you DIDN'T."


Me: "Why are you saying I didn't?"
Mr. Sensitive: "I don't know. Just because."
Me: "Well that's what I tallied as I laid there, AWAKE, staring at the numbers on the clock watching my life pass before me sleeplessly."

Mr. Sensitive: "It's funny that you tally."
Me: "It's funny that I allow you to live."

(Actually, that last part I just thought in my head, but I WANTED to say it.)


I guess I'll rest when I'm dead.
Which may not be too much longer at this rate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Family Camping - Friend or Foe?

the much awaited camping trip is over.
Manchester Beach KOA.
We survived it - 4 solid days of family bonding togetherness.

I love camping.

It's funny that I do, because when I think of it, it's actually a really bizarre recreation.
Living in the wild for days, eating food from cans with dirt caked in between your toes that will surely take a chisel to break free.

The most regularly asked question being, "What IS that?!"

Before we left, Justin packed up the car in a way that only a true former UPS worker could have. It looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. We shoved the kids in like sardines and took off in the mini-van for the 2.5 hour drive up the windy coastal highway and told them not to complain.

The air conditioner was broken.

Chloe was immediately sick and pale with carsickness.
I guess we should have paid more attention to her when she said,
"Throw up is going to come out."
because about 10 minutes later, that's exactly what happened.

Of course all her clean clothes were packed and tied and bungeed to the roof, so she entered camp 15 minutes later buck naked, smelling like puke, and covered in a towel in the off chance she did it again.
Alena -- gagging and carrying on about having to be in the back seat with her.
Tessa -- screaming because when I'd opened the door as the nominated puke-scooper, she thought she was going to be set free from her car seat and had been rudely awakened.

The camp was amazing.
We'll go back for sure.
There's something to be said for "roughing it" in a place with hot showers, a heated pool, a hot tub and a general store.

It made me wonder why we packed so much.

We unloaded and let the kids play at the park, then got set up for dinner.

The evening was mostly uneventful. In a good way.
There was a campfire hosted by a staffer who I could have TOLD you would be named Pat.
One can always pick a "Pat" out in a crowd.

(These are the paths my mind takes me down.)

There were smores. They played movies in the rec hall at night for the kids.

All went perfectly until bed time.

I forget when I'm planning on camping to factor in what sleeping will be like with small children who are only used to sleeping in their own beds.

Tessa hollered into the night like a banchee until we freed her from her pack-and-play.
Chloe climbed in and out of bed with us all night. Night one gave us 3 hours of sleep. IF that.
The kids were up for the day at the first crack of dawn asking to revisit the park.
It was 6 am. In my daily life 6 am is more of a BED TIME than a wake up time.

Somehow tunnel slides and rope ladders don't seem like the best thing ever to me the MOMENT my eyes are jarred open.

But that's just ME.

We were all exhausted from no sleep. All of us EXCEPT the kids. We adults were just buying our time till nap time with the misguided notion that they'd actually sleep and we could maybe go to the hot tub in shifts or something.
Like I said - Misguided.

Nap time was just like night time. Scream. Shriek. Disturb the peace. Make everyone at camp avoid eye contact for the remainder of the day.

For the rest of the camping trip we ended up playing musical beds. Each night trying a different combination of sleeping partners to see which combo would win out.

It was like a game of Clue.
I have Chloe in the bed with Mama with the lantern.
I have Tessa in the bed with Mama and Daddy with the sound machine.
I have Myself crammed up against the side of a twin bunk bed with Chloe and a kinked neck.

The winning combo, of course, was discovered on the last night, when it didn't even matter anymore.

Perhaps one of the weirdest things, too, was realizing that this is the year that Alena started getting checked out by boys.
I don't feel old enough for that yet!

Every time we were at the pool, all the neighboring pre-teen boys in the camp would mysteriously meander by. Back and forth. Whispering. One boy, in particular, --Trey--leached himself to her and I think would have come home with us if we'd have had an extra seatbelt.
He tried to be smooth, "When I saw you in the pool earlier, I didn't even REALIZE you had a blonde streak in your hair. Is that natural?"
He helped her play with the little girls. He asked her what she was doing after dinner.
Cut to him wearing her hat, sitting in her chair, reading her book by our campfire later that night and then trying to tickle her as she reached into the van to pull Tessa out.
She kept coming to me bug-eyed, with panic in her voice saying, "WHEN is he going to go to HIS cabin?"

And so it began.

I would have loved to pull him aside and tell him that first impressions are everything and maybe opening up with an ice breaker of how his brother had puked in the car on the way there and had still not had a chance to change his pants wasn't the best option.

The other highlight was a hay ride driven by a man with a missing index finger. After it was over, he said, "Did you guys see all the deer? I counted 9 of them!" and that left me wondering if he'd ACTUALLY counted 9, or if that was just as high as his fingers would allow him to go.

All week the girls were covered head to toe in dirt.
I gave up on cleaning them up.
I even got to the point of nodding in encouragement as Tessa took her toothbrush and brushed in the planters and dirt and then brushed her teeth immediately after.

It was what I like to think of as "emmersion therapy" for my OCD husband who had to do deep breathing into a lunch sack over the girls eating their dinner with completely black fingernails.

Whatever. It's immune boosting.
10 second rule?
Let's make it 40.

I also don't know why I thought it would be a relaxing vacation.
I'd like to know what is relaxing about lugging all your cookware and food in a box to the camper's kitchen to cook meals and inevitably forgetting 10 things, which you will then have to walk back and get?
One at a time.

Camping is inconvenient.
It's cold.
It's dirty.
It forces you to do nothing but spend time with your loved ones and hope against all hope that they are STILL your loved ones by the time you return home.
(And it's usually a pretty close call.)
We made it, thankfully, by the skin of our teeth.

I was SO glad to be home.
Home is clean. Home has hot baths. Home has box springs.
But that feeling lasted about 2 hours and then I was wanting to go back.

I must be a glutton for punishment to want to trade my dishwasher for spit and Dawn.

But sometimes I do.

There's something to be said for removing yourself from the world of DVRs and telephones and blow driers and MAC makeup and Target and exfoliants......Um....wait a minute..... Maybe I'll wait a little longer to go back afterall.

I forgot I have shows recorded....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Notes from a Cow Cage

Well, It's Father's Day and it wouldn't be fair to have written a tribute to my mom for Mother's Day and then not have one for my dad.

My dad is like no other man on the planet.
NO other.
Be assured.
It's true.

My dad is creative, smart, funny and completely impossible to fully explain.

He can build something fantastic out of absolutely nothing, in a fashion that would make McGuyver look like a novice.
And he has.

His inventions are numerous.
One was an enclosure he welded to fit into the back of his Ford F250 truck that we all called the "cow cage."
It was what it sounds like it was.
It served many purposes.
One of which was to completely embarass me in high school in the times I was forced to drive that truck to school.

I can still hear the rattle of it as I drove over the speed bumps that led into student parking. Try being popular in a blue cow cage truck.

He invented a dog-pulled sled that was on wheels.
It was a contraption in the truest sense of the word. And it was fun on the beach.
We'd drive it out there, hook our two family dogs up to the harnesses and take off, gently pulling the hand brake if they got going too fast.

He welded and hammered and melted noxious chemicals on the kitchen stove at all hours of the night.
*Tink. Tink. Tink.*

He once build a canoe in the living room. He still has that canoe.

I learned to fall asleep to just about anything, including light flashes from the welder and banging against the anvil in the living room as he mounted a rivet on something or made designs in some leather item he was designing.

He was the best person to have in your circle when it was school project time, because even though I hated it at the time, he wanted it to be perfect.
Just so.
The Egyptian dioramma couldn't just have straight chop stick palm trees beside it, they had to be bent like REAL palm trees. So we steamed them. On the stove. At midnight.

We got an A.

Until the day she died, my fifth grade teacher held on to that dioramma as an example to all of what REAL chop stick palm trees looked like.

He fishes.
He camps.
He sews.
He rides horses.

He brought home unusual pets. This was heaven for a girl who loved every animal. This list of pets included, but was not limited to:
a skunk
a raccoon
a pair of chipmunks
a pot bellied pig
a catfish named Smoky (That actually lived for YEARS in a fish tank in the dining room)
hostile chickens
and for awhile, we had pigeons until my brother forgot to feed them while my dad was gone on a trip and came home to a dozen dead pigeons.

He was strict.
There was a chunk of my life where he would measure my fingernails wiht a micrometer weekly because he didn't want me having long nails. It was too "hooker-y"

He thought he was funny. He'd call my boyfriends by the wrong name on purpose just to throw them off and make them question if I was seeing someone else.

He once switched out my toothpaste for hemhorroid cream and fell out of his chair laughing when I came out of the bathroom saying,
"Dad.....What did you DO?!"
because my mouth was numb and not so minty.

His medical practices included treating himself with horse medication which he always kept in the fridge next to the eggs, and soaking wounds in liquid bleach.
Amazingly.....They both worked.

He's had more near death experiences than I can count and it's almost dinner conversation now, with how used to it we all are.

"I was pinned under a tractor for 12 hours today while buzzards stood watch just waiting for me to die."
"Wow. You must be hungry. Can you pass the salt?"

My brother and I spend hours laughing our way through the memories of how he'd drink a slim fast , do 5 sit ups, and then follow that with a handfull of cookies and a nap.

Or the time he sent us out front with a box full of bread crumbs and told us to pluck all the snails from off the side of the house and put them in the box. He said he was going to cook them.
He said they were dinner.

He taught me to draw.
He taught me to work.
He also taught me to drive after my mom gave up on watching her life pass before her eyes.

He has always smelled like metal, wool, leather, rope and hard work.

He can draw out an invention on a napkin at lunch, complete with dimentions, and go home and knock it out in hours. Amazing. He once built a horse trailer that way.

He plays every instrument and is the type of guy that ALWAYS has on hand, in his truck, whatever it is you are looking for no matter where or when.
Need a paper cutter? Got it.
Bottled water? It's there.
Native American beading kit? Don't doubt it.
It's probably under the weed-whacker or the model ship kit.

We've had our moments of misunderstanding eachother -- As I became a teenager and he was....well....a dad.

But no matter what, I can always say that as complex as he sounds, I know just who he is.
He has never waivered.
Never made me question. I know where he stands and what he believes in, and one of those things he believes in is me.

I'll never ever forget him helping me pack up a truck with all of my belongings while he was still in his work clothes as I set off on my own - Moving out for the first time. He had tears in his eyes as he patted the hood and told me to come home for dinner soon because my "Mom would be missing me."

Now that I'm married, I watch as my husband comes in the door from work and immediately dons a pink tiarra if asked to, jumping in an instant from Costco Chic to Princess Perfect.
I see how the girls all look up to him and expect certain things from him and I see myself as a little girl, looking up to him -- this mystifying, amazing person.

I only hope that my daughters will one day look back on their childhoods with the same smiles and laughter.
I hope they'll compare notes about things their dad used to say and do and that they will get as much joy from their memories.

My dad wasn't perfect, but he did the most important thing you can do as a dad.

He showed up.

He stayed and worked at it.

So for every dad out there, hold your Slim Fast Shake to the sky and let's toast to Fatherhood.

Every anvil pounding minute of it.