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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Vacation

I knew I'd taken a "vacation" before, I just had to think long and hard about when exactly that last happened. I had to flip all the way back to May of 2002 to find that memory. Upon my completion of graduate school, we headed to the West Coast to spend some days visiting family and resting and relaxing in our old honeymoon spot, a little house situated right on the rocky edge of the western side of the United States. It's a gorgeous getaway spot where we woke up each morning with the ocean at our feet just outside the large glass patio doors, where we ate our breakfast and lounged in front of a wall of picture windows overlooking the breathless, rugged, rocky coastline in Yachats, Oregon. Where the ocean was literally our backyard. Where we watched the sun set over the endless expanse of sea. It was a time and place in life that ended one chapter and began another. That is the last vacation I can remember that was really a vacation. I believe all other "vacations" in my entire married life were arranged around such tasks as moving, remodeling, having a baby, building a deck, having another baby, moving again, etc.

This week has been great. With all my paperwork caught up and nearly 11 solid days before me to do anything BUT tasks related to my career, I have enjoyed the family time and the down time. I've enjoyed not blogging. I've enjoyed catching up the scrapbooks, even though the work is so slow on it. I question whether all this creative expression will really stand the test of time despite the glue, the pens, the papers, the stickers, etc. all being labeled as archival quality. I have no time for real hobbies anymore. My work has become my hobby. There is no time for scrapbooking amidst my parenting and homeschooling duties and requirements of my "career-by-a-thread." And so, despite my hours of work over the past several days, I still find myself nearly 14 months in arrears on documentation in the photo albums.

We had a great Christmas and spent lots of time as a family relaxing, playing with the kids new toys, and just hanging out. Husband and I even got to go out alone to a local Japanese steakhouse tonight and leave the kids with a friend. This is an evening to mark in history, firstly because Husband and I only seem to make it out alone (sans kids) a couple times per year, and secondly, this is the first time we've been able to leave Dear Son successfully with a babysitter that is not my mother.

I know the last picture posted in this blog entry is bit disturbing. Son has a new chainsaw in honor of all the work Dear Husband has both begun and has yet to do in the woods since the previous owners appear to have done nothing to clean up the mess of last winter's apocalypse of an ice storm. Here Dear Son is sporting Dear Husband's new ear warmers, worn around his cheeks, while he works the chainsaw. I think he's giving "Jason" a run for his money.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Turning Two

I'm not sure how over a week has passed since Dear Son experienced his 2nd, birthday, but it has. He had a great time being a "farmer" on his new tractor. He enjoyed his "Melmo" (Elmo) cake, his balloons, and his "pizzas" for his birthday dinner. He liked the "presents" as well, and once in awhile pulls one out from under the Christmas tree saying "Presents!" and preparing to unwrap it. I explain to him that those are presents for other people we are saving for Christmas to unwrap. He accepts this, but not until he asks, "Why?" He's been asking "Why?" for months now, and I know he got this from Big Sister. All I can say is that the "Why?" stage is going to be a long one for this child...and for his weary mommy.

We had Son's party on Saturday after his Thursday birthday, but on Thursday we met Daddy for birthday lunch together and then we took the kids around the corner to get a big mylar turtle balloon for Son. His favorite stuffed toy is "Turtle." We also got a couple latex balloons for Big Sister so she didn't feel left out. On the way back home, the kids sat in the middle row of the family mobile clutching their balloons like prizes. Both of them looked quite pleased with life all the way home. At one point Daughter said to me, "You are the best Mommy I've ever had!" I was thinking to myself that it's a good thing I've never had competition. I'll accept first place in the contest, regardless.

Everything else is fairly status quo, save for my peek into my clients' lives through my professional window. I'll abbreviate my explanation here just to say that some days I am burdened with the filth and misery of this world and what children in our culture are subjected to. And what they survive. I typically get to see them in the therapy room by the time they hit their teenage years, and the histories they come with frequently make me sick to my stomach. It's no wonder they start tripping out in the midst of the holidays as they are even more painfully reminded of not only the lack of positive family relationships during this season, but of their painful family histories that represent the reasons why they are without family. It seems unfair for me to even mention how I feel burdened by it all and weary of it, as I am not the one who has to literally live it. I simply share in the journey of those who do have to live it. Yet just walking through it with them can be exhausting and emotionally draining. More importantly, it drives me to love and nurture my own children even more intently, as if being an exceptional parent can somehow have the power to cancel out even a tiny bit of the fact of how many children in this world suffer so miserably at the hands of their parents.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm Pretty Sure this One Didn't Come from SpongeBob

I was schooling my daughter today when I decided to do a science review with her. We've been working on plant science for several weeks. I came to the question of what three things do plants need to grow? She blurts out "water...sun....(pause)." I waited. Daughter turns her head bit to the side and says, "Carbon dioxide?" I laughed good and hard out loud--because she was more than right. I was expecting "air" to be the final answer. That would have been the "correct" and expected response from a four year old. Heck, probably even from a six or seven year old. I know somewhere back in the content of what we've covered, carbon dioxide was mentioned once. No big emphasis on it or anything. Leave it to my girl to pull that one out of the place where all her latent learning is stored until she randomly and unexpectedly demonstrates her amazing abilities to absorb and retain somewhat trivial (but factual) information for later application.

At least she didn't credit this one to SpongeBob.

Two Years Still Feels Like Yesterday!

I confess...I had flashbacks last night. They were briefer than the past year, though. About 8:30pm, as I was snuggling with Dear Daughter in her bed, I thought of the eve of Dear Son's birth. How I read Daughter stories as I tried to ignore the contractions that had me in intense pain for two days. My doctor told me that morning that it was latent labor and she would see me the next week. I'd been awake all night in some serious pain, and this was only latent labor? I had to withstand another week of this? Well heck, what did I know. I never even felt the contractions with Dear Daughter before they decided she had to come via slice and dice mode. Who was I to argue? But man, did this latent labor feel painful!

I timed the contractions and tried to hide my pain as I finished a few bedtime stories. By the time I tucked Daughter in and left her room, I'd had about 40 minutes of contractions at semi-even intervals, but getting closer together. They were now consistently five minutes apart. I called my mom, the labor and delivery nurse. She agreed I'd better go in. I will spare you a repeat of the details I've already shared here.

Suffice it to say that every year as Christmas draws near, I begin to have a few flashbacks of the trauma of Son's birth and the aftermath. The holidays were a blur that year. I don't think I came out of the blur, semi-conscious, until about March. The only thing harder than laboring with a baby and then ultimately going c-section and then doing the whole newborn thing, is doing all those things with a 2 1/2 year old to parent as well.

I survived it. And every year I pat myself on the back and after I breathe a prayer of thanks for my beautiful baby boy, I follow with another prayer of thanks that goes something like this, "Thank GOD that's over!"

He's beautiful. He wasn't planned--at least not at the point that he came to be. But he's loved and wanted as much as a child could ever be. I can't imagine our lives or our family without him.

Happy Birthday, "Bubbie!"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Puffy Paint and Purple Gingerbread Men


The cold and icy weather has left us engaging in indoor activities. I decided to try a recipe for "puffy paint" last week and got brave enough to plop both the kids at the table to get dirty in it. It didn't necessarily make a real nice "puffy" paint, but it did make the paint thick enough to minimize the mess made by a painting not-quite-two-year-old.


And then there's Little Miss Sweet Tooth. She's been asking since about August to make a gingerbread house again. Last year we made one out of graham crackers. It was a pain in the you-know-what and didn't hold together very well. I looked at recipes for home-made gingerbread houses, and frankly it didn't seem worth the work involved. Especially if there are no big gingerbread fans in the house. So I wimped out and bought a kit. It was totally worth it. It came with a prepared platform to guide the pieces in and all the house pieces were precut. There were just enough candy decorations (even after Daughter nibbled on a few of them). The only complaint was that there wasn't quite enough icing. I could have easily made more if I wanted to mess with it. But I didn't. So we made do.










No complaints from Daughter.







Then there was the sugar cookies. Yes, that IS PURPLE icing you see on her lips and teeth. I'll explain later. The princess getup? Doesn't everybody wear their best princess gown and tiara on the occasion of Christmas cookie decorating?


The intention was to bake the cookies and stick them in the feezer until the end of the week when we look forward to a visit with Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat. Daughter wanted to decorate the cookies with them. But she couldn't stand it and wanted to do "a few of them" and save the rest for Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat to help with. Daughter does not suck her thumb, by the way. Unless there is cookie icing on it.

And yes (if you look closely) that IS a MOOSE, a BUNNY RABBIT, and a CHICKEN and a HEART you see on the table. And yes, (if you look closely) that IS ORANGE and PURPLE cookie icing you see on some of the cookies. I can explain the moose to anyone who doesn't know me well enough to already know about my love affair with the wildlife of northern Idaho. My home is well decorated in moose in a wimpy attempt to cling to a piece of the Pacific Northwest. It's no surprise a couple moose made it into my cookie cutter collection. The bunny and chicken? I'm just really not sure about those. There was also a cowboy in the cutter collection, but the dough kept sticking to him so we gave up. My only explanation is that I inherited my grandmother's cookie cutter collection, and these were included. Daughter had to try one of everything. Including, of course, the Valentine's Day heart shapes. As for the purple and orange icing, only Great Aunt Pat fully understands this. Let's just say it's a "sweet" (pun intended) gesture towards her and her brother and their very intriguing color attractions.

Daughter has a wild creative streak, and so we simply must indulge, even if it means a completely eclectic and non-traditional Christmas cookie spread.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ain't What She Used to Be

Long after Son emerged from the bath he shared with "Sissy," Dear Daughter continued to dive and float and roll about in the water. She's always been enamored with bath time and would probably be happy there all day long if allowed. Tonight I did my typical muti-tasking trick of cleaning the bathroom as she continued to play in her bath water. As I scrubbed the long double master bath vanity and mirror (Daughter still prefers my Jacuzzi over the somewhat plain bathtub in her own bathroom), she sang a little song that went like this, "One gray year, I ain't like I usedta be, ain't like I useta be." I heard it in the background, but I wasn't really paying too much attention at first. After about five rounds, I tuned in enough to sort of hear what she was singing, and I asked her to clarify her lyrics. She replied, "It's that song that you sing all the time, Mommy." I was puzzled and couldn't figure out what song I was singing with these lyrics, and yet the tune was hauntingly familiar.

Several moments later I was onto other thoughts and was busy putting away freshly washed clothing while Daughter continued to swim in the bath tub. I yawned and thought about how I never feel like I get enough sleep anymore while I absentmindedly began humming and singing. I suddenly realized that same tune that Daughter was singing a few minutes earlier was coming out of my own mouth, except with the correct lyrics, "The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be..." I laughed good and hard out loud when I realized what Daughter was singing as I eyed the gray and silver-ish roots in my hair in the large bathroom mirror and sighed a little. . I actually liked her version better. Either way, the tune is totally fitting.

I don't know why this tune came to me a couple months ago, but it did. And it stuck. And every so often I catch myself singing it to myself as I go about my business at home with the wee ones...usually when I'm in the middle of several loads of laundry, a sink full of dishes, cleaning up something one of the wee ones spilled on the floor, and in the middle of it all Son states, "Poopy!" and Daughter is having a meltdown because she doesn't know where Taggie Book is and my cell phone is ringing with an important business call. I'm tired a lot, and I guess that's why my subconscious dug this little ditty from out of the depths of my past and applied it aptly to my present circumstances.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

All In a Day's Work

There really was nothing unique about last night at our house. It was really just the same theme, different story line, except that I had a moment in the midst of it that I thought despite the stress and irritation of it all, I wanted to freeze frame it into my memory so that I wouldn't forget. So that one day I could remember it well enough to look back on it with fondness, even.

At about 8:00 pm, Dear Daughter states she is hungry and needs a snack before bed. I just walked in the door from work, at little earlier than usual. When Dear Son heard the rumor of snacks, he immediately starts fussing and whining for "bretast!" (breakfast). Then Son announces he wants "pizzas!" as he is on this pizza kick, and would eat it for every meal if allowed. We convinced him that "pizzas" was not on the menu, and I offer him an egg. He says, "Oh yeah! Eggie!" and as I get started with that he begins whining for "tato pattie!" which means he wants one of those convenient frozen potato patties that I don't like to feed the family often, but Son thinks they are the next best thing to "pizzas." We give in to avoid the battle. Dear Son and Dear Daughter finish their full five course snack and we start the bedtime thing.

I have caught "Jon and Kate Plus 8" a time or two, and I'm telling you, I frequently think that if my house looks like chaos, I don't even want to imagine their kind of chaos. It starts with Son finding a rubber glove in one of the bathroom drawers. It is left over from one of my hair coloring kits. He starts to squeal, "Glub! Glub!" and wants help getting it on his hand. The problem is, it's impossible to get each of his chubby little short fingers into its own long finger slot. But that's what he wants. Since it's impossible, Husband only takes so much of it before he does away with the "glub" and begins the task of trying to dress a stubborn, screaming, hot headed not-quite-two-year-old in his monkey-suit of a blanket sleeper. I'm sure this was not an easy task, and after the door to Son's room closed, I heard lots of screaming and crying and banging around in there as Husband dealt with the task. A couple minutes later the door flies open and out trots a grinning little imp stuffed in a blanket sleeper. I don't know how Son managed to stuff Husband in that thing. (Just kidding). Son was happy for the moment, so this was good.

Meanwhile Daughter was taking her token twenty minutes to pee in the toilet, and I was tired of standing around waiting and went to her bedroom to wait comfortably on her bed. Son decided he wanted me to "hold yas!" and so I lifted him into my lap and we began reading stories on his sister's bed. Then Daughter emerges quickly from the bathroom because she HATES HATES HATES to be left alone and requires an audience even when she is doing business with the toilet. She stumbles into her room with her underpants and jeans around her ankles, and I order her to put a Pull Up on. Before she gets to this point, she attempts to take her turtleneck sweater off her head, and it apparently gets stuck somewhere between her neck and her face. She starts freaking out and jumping around and screaming. By now she is buck naked save for the turtle neck sweater flying around her face while she runs in circles screaming that it is going to be stuck like that "FOREVER!" I send her naked butt into her brother's room where Husband had plopped into the rocking chair to wait patiently for the drama to end. I was suddenly slightly more amused than I was irritated about this whole scene. As Daughter's naked buns disappeared around the corner to seek help from her Daddy, I began to giggle and then I considered that may actually come a day in our lives that we would miss these times. I yelled to Husband in the next room, "Do you think there will be a time when they are teenagers that we a will actually miss these days?" And he hollered back, "I guess it depends on how much worse it gets when they are teenagers."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Butt-Ugly is in the Eye of the Beholder

The wee ones were pleased as punch with this year's Christmas tree, and this took the edge off my own sentiments to Dear Husband that what he had brought home was one butt-ugly tree.

We strayed from our usual Thanksgiving weekend tradition this year, as we feared with Thanksgiving being so early our tree would dry out before Christmas even arrived. We planned to get the tree the following weekend. I had seen a sign in front of a local tree nursery that advertised "Live Christmas Trees" and wondered why we had never considered before the option of putting up a potted tree that could later be planted in the yard. Husband and I discussed the idea and decided it was a perfect plan that is environmentally sensitive and financially helpful as we could use it later as a contribution towards the foresting of our five acres. Upon making this decision, Husband took on the task of taking the wee ones to pick it out while I was busy all day with other commitments. I had visions of a perfectly manicured Alpine Pine in a pretty pot in the corner of the family room. I know it was a dreamy ideal. After all, I've never even seen an Alpine Pine around here except for the fake ones, like the one I recently bought at Hobby Lobby for the upstairs living room. But, despite realizing deep down inside that an Alpine Pine was unreasonable, I must admit that I wasn't totally prepared for what I would see in the downstairs family room when I returned home late afternoon.

Dear Husband greeted me at the door all proud of himself and chattering about how he'd purchased a 6 ft tree but it must have been larger because he had to trim the top to fit it under the ceiling downstairs. I felt the excitement in the air with the wee ones running around while I unloaded groceries exclaiming about their adventure picking out a tree with Daddy. Dear Daughter was giving a long narrative about the whole event while Dear Son ran in circles saying, "Trismas tree, yay! Trismas tree, yay!"

Then I descended the stairs amidst all the buzz and rounded the corner. Let me just say that Charlie Brown would have been very proud. After a moment of surprise, my response was a calm and monotone, "Well, that's not quite what I was expecting." Dear Husband was baffled and irritated by my response, explaining how he had purchased the best looking tree they had and that it is a "natural pine tree" and that he thinks it is quite a nice looking tree. I let his words drone into the background and interrupted with, "Well, couldn't we just trim it up a bit and shape it better?" Husband would have nothing of it, insisting that would ruin the tree. I looked at it skeptically and my eyes fixed on the upper half of the tree where there is a good two foot length of tree trunk completely naked of branches. I said, "Well, maybe we could wrap some green garland around that part of it." Husband shot me a look that said, "Woman, you are really annoying me!" and I shut up except to mumble under my breath, "Man, that is one UGLY tree!" Dear Son walked up to it after that and announced, "Ugly!" which is when I realized that I had spoken that last sentiment out loud. I sneaked a sideways look at Husband, who shook his head and displayed a smug look on his face.

The rest of the evening was really quite fun. Dear Son continued to say, "Ugly!" each time he approached the tree with some shiny bauble to hang on it, and I snickered every time. Actually, I giggled to myself (albeit out loud) the entire time that I doled out the decorations to the elated wee ones and watched Dear Husband fight with the lights as he tried to get them to look just right on his Charlie Brown tree. I was having fun, and I was even feeling pleased with the ugly tree. Ironically, the more pleased I became with it, the more irritated Husband became with me.

Despite my visions of a perfectly manicured Alpine Pine being dashed, I think the butt-ugly potted "natural pine" will make for a fun annual tradition. That is, if Husband can handle it again next year.