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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The One Thing

I met Anita in the hallway of a Baptist church, waiting for my first born to finish up the fun and games I had enrolled him in Awana to enjoy.  She had the cutest little baby face peeking out of a sling, which I had never seen before and was so friendly, I could help but get drawn into her.  She was one of those people you knew right away would be a life-long friend.  We chatted in the hallway for a couple weeks, her flirting with my little ones, me flirting with hers and after a few "getting to know you sessions" it became obvious something was missing.  Her first three children had a typical spacing between them, but then there was a huge age gap between her second to youngest and her baby, so I asked about it.  I am always curious when it comes to baby-making decisions, and so I commented that having a baby after having three children of an independent age (which I define as knowing how to use the restroom alone) has to be a weird experience.  And then she opened up about her Elizabeth, that while not with her that day, was still a huge part of her mothering existence.  Elizabeth was her second daughter, born still, after her husband had decided he did want another little one.  It should have been a happy time.  Another little girl, much wanted, and much waited for from a husband who thought three was plenty.  The baby snuggled in her arms during this conversation was a cherubic little boy that came after his sister had passed away.  I was confused.  The ONE THING I always said would shake my juvenile faith was a child being taken from me.  THAT I could not handle.  I was sure of it.  Little did I know.

Anita was over-joyed when I found out I was expecting my fourth and was so motherly the whole time he was growing.  She provided encouragment, a slew of books about childbirth and mothering, and was my biggest cheerleader.  Until the end, when I admitted I just wanted to stay home and have zero interaction with the outside world because I was totally over the experience of being pregnant.  It was then she expressed worry, saying she felt the same way towards the end with Elizabeth.  She willed it with her entire being that something like this not happen to anyone she knew.  And Eli was fine, and I was fine, and we welcomed him with much fanfare and happiness.  That kind of sadness, the kind that reaches into the core of your being and rips everything out and stomps all over it, hadn't touched me.  Yet.

When I got my next positive pregnancy test, the timing was wonky.  We had just recieved the date of arrival for my two nieces, who we had commited to fostering and eventually, adopting.  I was so thankful we found out AFTER our intensive homestudy, as a fifth natural child might have tipped the scales in terms of our eligibility.  They arrived when I was still sick, exhausted and overwhelmed by the idea of 6 children, let alone 7 but I survived.  That's about all I did.  I cleaned, and changed diapers, and taught reading to my oldest, and we watched a whole lot of Dora.  6 children 6 and under was a huge challenge, on top of Jamie starting back to school, but somehow we did it.  I got through feeling like death, but by the end of the day I was so completely exhausted I could barely move. 

This pregnancy was so much different.  I was sick longer, and with more intensity.  I hadn't really gotten used to the idea of a baby.  With Elijah, the nesting instinct was strong and I was blissed out buying little baby things, making a quilt for him, catching up on the others' scrapbooks so that I could get started on his when we brought him home.  And for this baby, nothing.  My bestie said I was just too busy, too stressed and too tapped out to think about that which wasn't right in front of me, needing immediate attention.  It would come, she said.  I just needed to meet the baby and everything would fall into place.

But it hurt.  I mean, it physically HURT around my abdomen.  Pregnancy is always uncomfortable for me, but I wouldn't have ever described it as painful.  The top part of my fundus burned with any activity I tried to accomplish. Vacuuming, picking up toys, picking up babies....all hurt.  I was so incredibly huge. 

At my 30 week check-up, my midwife noticed I was a bit bigger than I should be, and the baby was breech.  She said I could get an ultrasound, just to rule out twins, but she only heard one heartbeat and really felt there was only one baby in there.  It was something we'd keep a good eye on, she said.  In the end, I decided to call the ultrasound place and just have a looksee.  I mean, here I was with 6 little children and I had a desperate need to know if I was going to be adding two more to this mix, becuase in my mind, that was just crazy.

The day was typical.  I had to get all the kids ready.  I had to get myself ready.  Jamie came home early for our appointment and brought in the mail. We had a late notice for our rent, and I had to call and figure out how we were late when we sent our check off over a week ago.  I remember ironing a piece of fabric for a quilt while waiting for Jamie to finish getting ready and then piling all the children into our two vehicles because we didn't all fit in our mini-van.  We made the long trek to the ultrasound place, after stopping to get cash from the ATM to pay for it, and the only thing on my mind was keeping my children in line and quiet during the appointment.  We had no one we knew well enough to watch them, so they went everywhere we did.  My focus was entirely on them and what they were doing, so much so that I didn't notice how long the ultrasound tech was taking.  And she wasn't talking....It was a very long time and then the dreaded words came "Well, we need to call your midwife.  We are seeing some issues with the baby."  I know more words were said.  Something about his heart and inadequate growth.  I was just in a daze.  Jamie was crying.  I didn't understand enough of what was happening TO cry.  I was too busy trying to tell him it would be okay and get several children into a bathroom because they all needed to go.  I talked to my midwife on the phone and she was going to set us up with specialists to get a better picture of what was going on and we had to book it home, because we had a home visit scheduled with our social worker.  We had to drive home separately and I remember having to concentrate on driving because I was shaking.  The kids were asking questions and I remember feeling like I had to protect them from the reality that this baby may not be okay, and feeling as though I had completely failed them.  That this reality was way harsher than any I wanted them exposed to at such a young age.  Was this really happening?  TO ME??  This is my "ONE THING..." Is this happening?  Seriously?

Our social worker never showed, which was fine with me.  I made some phone calls.  I called my best friend, who was also pregnant and I told her "Please...don't let this make you worry about your baby.  Your baby is fine ok??"  She was out somewhere and promised to call me back.  Then I called my mom and it was then I lost it.  When she asked if I was ok, I broke down and said "Something is really, really wrong with the baby."  And she cried.  And she told me she was so, so sorry and that I was such a good mom and everything would be okay.   At this moment, she said all the right things even though it would be the last time during this momentous occasion this would be true. 

The next few days were awful.  We had to wait for answers and wait for an appointment.  In the early morning hours, I woke up with terrible anxiety.  I couldn't breathe.  The amniotic fluid was building fast, as my baby didn't have the lungs to use it, and it was pushing up into my diaphram causing difficulty in taking normal, good, deep breaths.  The day before I had sat in my big garden tub, praying, and ultimately, my heart and soul accepted that this baby wasn't going to be a little person hanging around our family.  His form of dwarfism would take his life.  I had no background or book knowledge of his condition, but I just knew, in the very depths of my being, his life would not be a long one.  The second I understood this in my heart, a peace that I had never known before, took hold and I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I'd be okay.  So when the appointment happened, it wasn't a big shock when we got the news of exactly what was happening within me and was the outcome would be.  We had to make some decisions based on the rapid rate of uterine growth that was happening (thus the pain...) and we decided to have an induction.  I was 32 weeks along.  My buddy Anita was now chasing a crazy toddler who was born at 32 weeks.  I had no thoughts of "taking his life" early, as he was at a perfectly viable age to survive this world if that was his destiny, but if I continued on this path for 8 more weeks and waited for that 40 week mark, I may not fare as well.  This didn't bode well with my new friend, that had set me up with the mother's helper who was watching the children this very day.  In her mind, I had just signed up for an abortion.  This decision ended our friendship as I declined to speak to her pastor to get "permission" to go through with this induction.  It was made by myself and my husband, our excellent doctors and after gut-wreching, heart-bleeding prayer.  God was there, but apparently He wasn't enough.  I needed one of his representaives to give me the go ahead. 

Matthew was born and died within the hour.  I held him and talked to him and told him about his brothers and sisters back at home, how much we loved him.  He was held his entire life.  He was sweet and tiny and peaceful.  It was hard to understand.  The littlest girl in my house was born addicted to heroin, and here I was, eating a bunch of green shit everyday, watching my diet, not taking Tylenol, doing everything right and my baby was taken.  Was it "fair?"  Not really.  Nothing in life is.  Did I feel robbed?  No.  His destiny played out exactly as it should have, whether I liked it or not.  I, and no one, is owed any amount of days, or perfect experiences, or sublime joy, as we walk this planet.  Did it shake my faith?  In people? Absolutely!!! In God, not even a little.  Because He met me.  I had never experienced such a palpable faith as I experienced in these moments.  I physically felt His prescence because I called on Him.  It wasn't a Hallmark, feel good sort of thing.  I physically felt HELD during all this.  Many would say it's because my soul manifested a need and my mind filled it.  That it was somehow ME creating what I needed.  I find this ridiculous.  I'm a woman who can freak out if shoes aren't perfectly organized and a paint color on a wall is a shade off from what I wanted.  There is nothing peaceable in me.  I'm a frazzled, stressed out mess pretty much all of the time.  Relying on my own strength or ability to manifest some peace in this situation would have had me locked up in a mental ward somewhere.  I didn't have it in me then and I still don't have it in me now. 

The One Thing.  There was ONE THING I said would shake my faith, long before it was even the hint of reality in my life. I could have asked where God was during all this.  But I knew.  I knew more then than I did before and to be honest, more than I know most days.  But if I close my eyes and think back to that time, I feel it all over again.  The physical presence of love that reaches beyond this human plane and gives such a hope that this isn't all there is, that the amount and strength of love we experience here is just the beginning of something much, much bigger. 

And now the One Thing that cannot be taken from me, the One Thing that cannot be shaken, is my faith.  Many have tried, through various means, and all have failed.  I will hold onto this Thing until my dying day when I don't have to wonder about it's truth anymore because either all will be answered, or it will all go dark, and even if...even IF, I am totally wrong and it's all been a fallacy, I've still lived an excellent life, full of faith and love, with no regrets. 

In short, I still win ;)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Ghost of Plain Days Past

It doesn't take a special day on the calendar for remnants of what we've left behind to come haunting us.  It can happen any day.  With social media so rampant, it happens everyday for most people.  Friends from our youngest day, our wildest days and those we've picked up like moss along the way, follow us through our life's journey.  It's kind of amazing to reconnect with those we thought had forgotten us, or we, them but there are times when it's a bit unsettling.

My husband and I met independently of anyone either of us knew.  We met without the help of mutual friends.  We simply found each other.  Two people who had nothing in common but a dot on the map, where our bodies and souls met and decided they needed to spend the rest of their lives together.  He had his past.  I had mine.  And we put them both to rest to start a future free of all that.  Just us. 

But every now and again, ghosts waft into our lives, laying claim to that which no longer exists.  They remember us as we were, when they knew us and seem to think that which they knew, the person we were with them, is still hanging around.  Not remembering they are the ones we left behind, with intention.  They were not the people we chose to build our lives around. 

Although I do generally seek to live a gentle, peaceable life, this certain propensity from people in my husband's past stirs a great, hot, white fury so deep within me, it physically burns.  Those who feel that because they knew him many years ago, the certainly have a right to communicate with him, in a way that is too familiar for a mere friend.  Those people sitting in perhaps the fifth row of my husband's life, trying to squeeze into the front, as if they are somehow just as much a part of his fiber as his family.  Or me, his wife. 

Ain't happening.  Not today, not ever. 

Jamie is kind and unassuming.  He is nostaglic and looks fondly on those memories, with emphasis on how far he's come and how glad he is that his life is now what it is, and not what it once was.  He will tell anyone that his success is my success, as he couldn't have done it without me, and that's only partly true.  He could have accomplished all that he has without me by my side, but the truth of the matter is, he wouldn't have.  He had no reason.  He needed a witness to all that he would attempt.  Someone to push him just enough to keep him going, but not knock him over.  Someone to understand where he was going and how he was getting there.  Someone to physically watch as he poured over books, and calculations and emails, and remind him why he was doing something that drove him insane.  To be a father, he needed a mother and he chose me.  And we chose, together, the life we are leading now.  Just us.

He didn't pull me into this, and I didn't pull him in.  This is our life.  The one we made together and continue to build.  And those who remember him as their own, as their friend, as something more have no place in it anymore.  You can pass by.  You can say 'Hi, how are you...' but it will never be okay to seek him out, on a daily basis,. and try to take that which is not yours.  Your fond memories of a crazy teenage alcoholic-in-training are just that, memories.  You have not been a part of the building of the man he is today.  You aren't part of his heart, his faith or his family.  You are where you belong, in the archives of the memory of a man so pure-hearted, he had no idea what you were trying to pull.  But I'm a girl and I know.  You do too. 

So, in girl terms, I'll put this plainly.  Back the fuck off.  Please and thank you. 



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Life Well Spent







Yesterday, I was chatting it up on Facebook, taking a small break from demolition clean up, when I got a message to call my mom, that my uncle had passed away.  I just kind of sat there in shock.  I knew, from the grapevine, his health was suffering, and that there was some uncertainty about his time left on this planet, but his death was sudden. 

I called my mom and she was understandably upset.  This is her sister's husband, married their whole adult life, and let's face it, when someone in your immediate circle passes away, within your own age range even, it's a bit jolting.  My mom was feeling it yesterday.  I could hear it in her voice.

And so we talked.  About life.  About making plans to start living after a certain requirement has been met, like after retirement, or when this or that big thing is accomplished.  My aunt and uncle were just settling in to a happy retirement life, although my memories don't paint them as people who truly waited to live a good life.  Everything I can remember about them is happy and active and LIVING. 

This is not the case for other people I know.  Scrimping and saving, being extremely wise with their time and their money, saving up for the Big Day, when they can truly START living.  I think wise investing to secure a future income is definitely a good thing, but when situations like this present themselves, it does make me question how much planning for the future is ripping off the enjoyment of today.  How far must we go to plan for an uncertain future?  What choices would we make today if we knew our time was limited?  Would we put every penny away, in a bank....or spend the extra we had to bless our own lives, or the life of someone else?  Would we pass on something we truly wanted today, so that we could have something different ten years from now? 

My mom and I talked about all this and for some reason, my thoughts turned to my children.  Not in a morbid "Oh no....I won't be here for them forever" kind of way, quite the opposite.  I explained to my mom that death didn't scare me, but not living while I was alive did and that was the very reason I have to count to 7 when I am ticking off my children.  Because they ARE life.  They are the "things" we want to invest in.  Not a whole lot of people get that.  That it's intentional.  That as much as I tease and joke about the craziness that is my life, this is exactly the life I wanted, that I was brave enough to embrace, regardless of how counter-cultural it may be.

What most people don't know is that had we followed the average American life plan, and had our 1.8 children (WTFudge is this anyways?  I never understood how you could decimal point humans.  That's just creepy)...we'd be living a much, much different life right now.  If it were just Jamie and I, and our two oldest children, our lifestyle would be drastically different.  There would be private schools, instead of homeschooling.  There would be international vacations, instead of camping, or hanging out at the beach.  There would be loaded bags of mall goodies in the back of my brand new SUV, rather than thrift store finds in the back of my tiny Ford Focus (or 15 passenger van).  There would probably be lots of workers in my house, doing all this home improvement stuff, rather than a bunch of random trips to Lowes and toddlers weilding hammers helping us knock walls out.  In short, there would be a lot more, a lot nicer "stuff" and we fully understand that the choices we've made have cancelled out the possibilities for a hoity-er, toity-er lifestyle.  (And most likely, my hair wouldn't suck and I'd actually know what clothes are in fashion from year to year.  Maybe not.  Maybe I'd still knit, and would knit ALL my clothes with all that extra time on my hands). 

I guess, the stark reality is, we chose life.  In a big way.  Not that we think our choices are superior in any way, but they are what we WANT from this life and we were able to look past the societal expectations and pressures and just go for it.  And it's hard.  It's really, really hard.

My life most days is one big ball of crazy.  Boredom is not a word I am familiar with.  At all.  There are places to get to, kids to shuffle around, kids to feed and clothe and love and teach.  There are big kids wanting my attention while the little ones make a nest in my lap and there is always, always some form of entertainment happening, live, from a monolouge about the unfairness of having to pick up five more things on the floor than another kid to a wrestling match right at my feet.  There is noise, and movement, and messes and cleaning....And some days I just want to run away from it all, because it feels like I'm never in control of my own destiny.  I can't make a decision and run with it.  I have to calculate all the possibilities and make decisions based on what could happen, what will most likely happen, what ALWAYS happens (this would be that someone will not be able to find both their shoes.  It ALWAYS happens) and to be honest, this can really suck sometimes.  I admit it.  This life is hard.  It's not some Walton family thing happening all the time, but...

Yesterday, as I was telling my mom how much my family meant to me and how much I loved each of my children, I realized I love all of this.  I love the good, the bad, the easy and the hard.  I love the littles and the bigg'uns and the in-betweens.  I love that my house is so full of energy and life, even when there are clothes scattered all over the place, and dishes aren't done, and I have to figure out what's clogging the bathtub this time.  I simply love my life.

It may have taken a bit of a jolt and a shake to realize I really do live an excellent life and it's my hope that I always do.  It may not be glamorous most of the time, and I may not be known by any one other than people under this roof, but at the end of the day, I can say I've truly lived one more day on this earth, rather than merely existed. 

May this always be the case....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Put A Lid On It

 
I've always considered myself a very fair parent.  In all things, I try to respect my childrens' point of view, even when the differences might be hard to live with.  I've accepted they may not always share my faith, my philosophy, and they may even end up not liking knitting, or knit wear (Although that will never stop my efforts in bringing them over to the dark side.)  I'm cool when they ask the hard questions, give a little leeway when their child-like ways don't mesh with my adult need for order and I even let them make jokes at my expense sometimes (and even laugh.)
 
But there's a recurring trend happening in my house that I just cannot get behind at all. 
 
My children have all developed a religious objections to lids.
 
No, I'm serious.....
 
 
Glue...do you have any idea how much glue we go through?  I didn't know why, until I spotted this little diddy....
 

And just because you put the sugar up high, to keep it out of the reach of ninja toddler, does not mean it doesn't need a flippin lid....
 Yes, dude, I get that you like to use spices....and that you're a very creative and passionate cook.  The pizza DEFINITELY needed some ginger...but the ginger also needs A LID.
 Really?  This is just nasty.  Did you know liquid bbq sauce will morph into sludge without a lid? 
 And I'm not even going to harp on the lidless state of this jar, because the damn thing should have been dumped and washed.  This does not belong in my fridge.  Come ON people...
 I guess the next time we have an elf over for a spot of toast, we'll have just the right amount of solid jelly to peel off the bottom of this jar for a crunchy jelly sandwich.  WTF??
An aerosol CAN with no lid.  Do you have any idea how tempting such is for a ninja toddler.  Well, the instuctions did say it would take care of "jock itch" so if Noah has any sort of rash anywhere on his body, it's well taken care of now. 

 Yes, dear, you can apply some of my cheap, fake perfume....but remember....put the LID back on.  "Oh I will Mom....in my next lifetime, I swear!!"
 Well the good news is they are using the mouth wash right?  Maybe.  Without a lid, we could be looking at good dental hygiene practices, or just some really expensive drain cleaner I suppose.  Dude....really??? 
Oh that's just some $25 per tube junk we don't need to protect from the ninja toddler who thinks it's gel candy.  I should disclose a lid wouldn't help in this instance anyways, and this tube needs to be out of sight completely for it's own protection, but still...that hard crap that gets on the end of an open tube is beyond nasty...

But we got smart and started buying toothpaste with the lid attached...HAHAHAHA....not.  Really, is there some kind of physical pain associated with closing something that is open?  What would Freud say about this?



He'd say, "Damn your kids have serious issues.  They don't finish what they start and can't be bothered to use lids.  They need drugs...."

Not even the fear of losing the ability to turn on the TV scares my children....and this is saying a lot considering we now have a TV that won't even turn ON without a remote...
 
I've trained my children ot put everything where it goes, via a lot of training and threatening and profuse labeling of all household items to the point you'd think I run a kindergarten out of my home.  I've considered, briefly, labeling lids...with the ever creative word "LID" but if the lid is lost, it doesn't do much good to have it labeled...
 
I'm working on a plan, I really am.  I think some superglue might be involved.  If not to teach my children a lesson in lid replacement, than for my own amusement!
 
If I can get the religious lid objection under control, my next task will be to transform their belief that walking around a mess, willing it to clean itself will never work.  Because even after years of it NOT working, they still give it a try every now and then.
 
For now, I am collecting the lids from cast off items and am considering wrapping them up as Christmas gifts.  :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

In lieu of fake snow and Santa

I got the call Friday morning, from a dear friend, who knows way more about what's going on around town than I do.  There was to be fake snow in my tiny town on Friday, followed by a parade on Saturday, complete with Mr. Claus himself.

And I declined. Or rather, admitted to myself (and her) I freakin hate stuff like that. I really do.  I know I should embrace my community and participate in holiday events to round out my childrens' social interaction, but the thing is, they are MY kids, so I'm pretty sure they got the "I freakin hate parades" gene from my DNA.  I gave them the option.  "Hey uhm kids....there's a parade, a Christmas one, tomorrow.  You want to scrap all our plans and go?"  The look on their faces told me all I needed to know, but I had to make sure the look really did say "Mom, have you lost your mind?" and not "Mom, we've been waiting our whole lives for you to finally give us permission to share our feelings about the sore lack of parade activity you've foisted upon us, our entire childhood, and going to this parade will save us years and years of therapy sorting out why you didn't love us enough to take us to one, at least once..."

It was good.  We promised them a weekend of friends, demolition and cake and that made up for missing the small town parade going on.  But, we totally made our own snowy fun.  I have proof :)


 
How's that for a Winter Wonderland?? 
 
All I planned to do was remove all the photos from the wall and the nails holding the photos up.  After that was done, I decided to take a little peak in the one place we thought a load bearing beam *might* be....and the kids, naturally gravitating towards destruction (like moth to a flame) immediately started grabbing tools and going crazy.  Well, after I threatened them that if they did this, they WOULD be cleaning up the debris and the shop vac WOULD be going at all times.  It didn't take them long to go from that above.....to....
 




I didn't even panic.  For some reason, every little bit of this crap that comes out of my house, I feel lighter somehow.  I hate these nasty walls so much.  We have much more to do, but I won't let the kids touch the "cotton candy" (no, no one's tried to eat it...) insulation because it's fiberglass and I-T-C-H-Y.  Well, Kyle's allowed to remove it, as long he wears gloves and believe it or not, the children will not touch the stuff, even if it's just hanging there, begging to be torn down.

See that shop vac?  It's one of THE best purchases we've ever made.
 
Because....


Oh my goodness!!!
 
This eventually got cleaned up, but not TOO good because today, we're back at it.  Hopefully by the end of today, this wall will ceast to exist.  Hey, this counts towards homeschooling right?? ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cheers!!

Alcohol- Liquid intoxicant you can legally drink once you reach the pinnancle of maturity and responsible behavior....you know....when you turn 21 and gain all sorts of wisdom that previously escaped you in the previous 24 hours when you were a mere 20 year old.  Whether yummy or burning, in a bottle or a glass, it's appeal cannot be understated.  Sex sells alcohol and alcohol sells sex and when you put them together you have many human beings walking the planet that may not have otherwise existed.  In that vein, I'm sure we can deduce it's one food product that has had the most impact on relationships across the board, from the beginning of time.

And it must be celebrated.

On Facebook.  Or Myspace if you're still old school.  Or all the other picture sharing websites if you're cool enough to know about them.  Because when you're getting sloshed with all your friends it's definitely picture worthy.

Or not.

This is a PSA to all people over the age of 25.  Taking pictures of yourself getting drunk is only funny to you.  To the rest of the world, a counter full of booze is just not that interesting.  We get it.  You drink.  You're cool.  You have lots of friends.  They drink too.  You went to the liquor store, legally, and now you're going to do shots of some liquid that you legally bought, and you're planning on getting drunk and being stupid. Hurray for you.  Oh wait, get the camera.  Must provide proof how cool we are to be drinking alcohol.

I don't get it.  Especially pictures of people my age partying hard and then posting pictures of such events on social media websites.  I mean, dude, we're all in our 30's.  We've been allowed to purchase and consume alcohol for well over 10 years now.  I'm definitely not thinking "Wow I wish *I* was there, being cool and getting drunk..." No, I'm thinking "Uhm, where are the kids?  Are they going to DRIVE after such indulgence? Do they have any idea how much yarn they could buy with the beer money they are wasting?"  You know, normal adult stuff like that. 

I do understand there are situations where a camera and an adult beverage might be a reasonable match like when toasting someone at a wedding.  Or enjoying the beautiful presentation of a fruity margarita, or a frosty beer taking second place to a really big fish,  or on Pinterest in the form of wine charms or a hut made from recycled beer bottles.  Those are all acceptable for inclusion in the family photo albums, but the whole crowd of people surrounding the counter in someone's house, taking shots, for the sole purpose of getting completely paralyzed emotionally and physically.....lame. 

You might think me embittered....jealous...green with envy because I'm not that cool and never was.  My first taste at being intoxicated was also my last.  I prefer to have full control of my faculties, and while I do enjoy a nice glass of wine on occasion, you won't see me posting a picture of myself, with a glass, with people all around me celebrating the adult beverage in my hand.  No, I'm way past all that nonsense.  Genuinely cool people know the fun in sipping on a cocktail is getting just relaxed enough to laugh at all the people around you thinking they are cool but looking a little (a lot) like idiots. I'm saving my camera memory space for the important things in life like yarn, toddlers, and the off chance I notice I'm having a really good hair day while using the bathroom. 

Cheers!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Meeting Will Be Called To Order....

The Coffey Family "We Suck" Meeting was called to order, Decemeber 3, 2012 at approximately 5:00 p.m.  The Honorable Jamie Coffey presided whilst holding Emory, who was enamoured with Calla's face for the duration of the meeting.  Melissa Coffey, co-anchor of the Ship De La Coffey, also in attendance, spreading out dinner preparation over three children vying to use the cheese grater. Thankfully much cheese was needed for casserole and she diplomatically divved up the cheese so all hands could have a turn. 

Meeting started with acknowlegment that Cassidy sucked.  We must clear this up each meeting, as Ms. Cassidy always has the first word when we sit down to "discuss" and her words are always "Is this a we suck meeting..?"  Yes, my dear, yes....

Jamie proceeds by asking the children if they would like the status of tenant in our home, or family member.  Confused looks appeared on all faces that knew what the words meant.  Jamie explained a family member lives in our home because we love them and a tenant pays rent.  Eli was the only child who thought it would be cool to have enough money to pay for his living space.  All concurred that they preferred family status.  Long explanation as to what Jamie's jobs are in steering the family boat, not discounting the huge contribution of our family's entire income.  Props to Jamie for keeping us fed ;) 

Discussion of expectations verses reality.  Discussion of trust and how Melissa does indeed, trust all children over the age of 8, to do what they are supposed to do without micro-managing every second of the day.  Discussion that all those seconds of the day Melissa is dealing with babies, diapers, school books, and ninja toddlers.  Discussion of how ninja toddler can destroy an entire room in five seconds and acknowledgment of frustration from all parties, with a gentle reminder that all children pass through annoying (scary) toddler phase and current toddler needs some grace and love, not duct tape and a cage.  Discussion of how resident 5 year old is whopping all their asses in cleaning and having a good attitude.

Trouble-shooting commenced.  No one is assigned kitchen floor duty on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  Whoops.  Melissa asks all four older children to hold out their hands for paper, rock, scissors, thinking maybe one person would whip them all and we'd do a process of elimination thing, but that was a total fail.  We had two rocks, one scissors and one paper.  So we moved on without really figuring out who would do the floor on those days.  Note to self, think on this today.  Votes for kitchen improvements and a proposed timeline for changes to be implemented.  Notes taken on zones and what the issues at hand were.  Issues noted, and written down. 

Proposal of extended training program was met with some apprehension until program was duly explained.  Goal in mind is that all children know how to complete not only their zones, but everyone else's in an acceptable fashion. Melissa suggested one training round could be the nasty refridgerator that she hasn't quite figured out how to clean one handed.  Groans started, but then came to an immediate halt when the word "Allowance job" was thrown out.  Reiteration that children that do jobs created by family living, by themselves, get paid and paid well.  All children wanted Fridge Training, but only one will be selected for this round of "What the heck is in this tupperware...." until next month.  Discussion of what type of green food we'd be serving with dinner casserole interuppted allowance discussion and we experienced a quick pass through the Twilight Zone when all children did a "Yay" sort of thing when Jamie remembered we had brussel sprouts in the deep freezer.  (And I quote, "Its the vegetable version of popcorn..." What??) 

Meeting was ended with an admonition  to do their jobs really fast, with a good attitude because we had ONE more episode of Walking Dead before their season break and that would not be put on until all chores were done and done well.   Melissa notes, to herself, that Monday bribes have now come to a halt and is sad.  Although, most of the fun from watching this isn't in the actual show, but the acting out of five big kids being zombies and one ninja toddler taking them out with a cap gun....before the show comes on. 

Extended training program enjoyed it's first session with Mallory and went exceedingly well.  She and her Daddy caught up on all the to-be-folded laundry and got all clothes put away.  We will be going littlest to biggest, so Eli is next and I'm curious to see what task he will be tested on this evening.

If I had a vote, it would be "Toilet tissue removal from drain..." because ninja toddler baptized 12 (TWELVE!!!) rolls of toilet paper this past Saturday while his bath was running and we are still getting it out of the tub. 

Until next time, here's hoping all changes and ideas and solutions work their magic and we can enjoy a wonderful, clutter-free, plumber-free and peaceful holiday season!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Honey, I'm Pregnant

I've known for about 3 weeks, and although I was understandably eager to share this news with you (being the father and all) I was waiting for that perfect moment, you know, when you were flipping through the real estate classifieds, to share this with you.  I just knew the moment would come, when you'd say "How about this one...it has three bedrooms, a view, an office...." and I could reply "And maybe a nursery?" with a sly grin.  And you'd be excited and smile back, and then we'd cuddle in the bed, dreaming about the baby to be...

Oh come ON.  Seriously?  (If you watch Fringe, you know I just lifted this scenario straight from the script...and I do apologize if you thought you were getting some juicy information about my own uterine status...)

What is with all the stupid writing when it comes to all things baby?  Now, I'll admit I've seen some pretty creative, real life, announcements about this particular life event, but the way the media spins it is downright stupid. 

You'd think with as much practice as I've had in particular area, I'd have shared this news in some cute, creative way at some point, but I live in Real World and it's never gone down like that.  No, it's been far more practical and boring than all that.

It starts out with me being kind of tired, kind of well, bitchy. If Jamie has to say the words "Man, what's your problem..." at any point during the day, we know the possibility is there. It becomes a little more obvious when someone hugs me and it hurts my chest so badly, I want to punch the person in the face.  Finally, when I turn green in the grocery store, Jamie demands I buy a test right then.  Romantic right?

 After the test is brought home, the husband will ask "Can you pee or do you need to drink?" Lovely.  And then he stands post right outside the door (because I won't let him in there with me) and immediately barges in when the test has been duly baptized.  So as soon as I know, he knows.  There is no surprise element happening and honestly he knows before I do.  I will argue that buying a test is a huge waste of money, that I am NOT pregnant and he simply states "Yeah I think you are....pee on the stick..."

I don't know one female who has waited more than 24 hours to share this informaiton with her beloved, not the mention the entire world, so this whole Hollywood idea of announcing a baby is simply not reality.

And then you have the....labor drama.  The mom-to-be standing in a crowded public area, exclaiming "Oh no, my water broke.  The baby will be here in five minutes.  Quick!!! Emergency!!! Hopsital NOW!!!" Really?  Has this ever happened, even once, in the entire history of humanity?  Have we not had enough babies born to shift the Hollywood perception of labor and delivery? Birth is quite dramatic on it's own without the time sensitive emergency nature of the scenarios being written and acted out.  You are not going to see a first time Mom, even with her water broken, having a baby within the time frame of an ENTIRE movie, let alone the 15 minutes usually alloted for this particular cinematic climax.  Let's get real.

In Real World, you have contractions for days and days and maybe, just maybe you might go to the hospital thinking it's the Real Thing, but more often than not, it's a false alarm.  You walk around cursing Mother Nature for still being pregnant and plead with God to let these contractions work their magic and get this child out of your personal space.  You become a wretched, wicked version of your previously sweet self, and swear you'll never, ever do this again.  You walk, and walk, and walk, fold baby clothes, get the house completely in order and wait.  One night, after you've given up ever having the baby...the ONE night you said "To hell with the house being clean, I'm over it..." you'll go into real labor and wish you had spent some of that cleaning time, resting, because the whole hospital experience is exhausting.  You aren't rushed in, breathing between intense contractions, having a baby in the first 15 minutes of your arrival.  You are being clothed in ugly hospital attire, having the same questions you've already answerd a million times asked again and having needles shoved into your skin in various places.  You're given a handy little heartbeat belt and strapped down to a zillion wires and then...you wait.  And wait, and wait.  Then you push, and push and push...and when it's time to meet your baby, it will be an ugly, alien looking thing, all wrinkled and white, screaming it's bloody head off.  Contrary to popular media placement of the "newborn baby" you will not give birth to a clean, fluffy-headed three month old.  You will not exclaim "Oh she looks just like your mother.." you will think, to yourself "What the hell happened?  She doesn't look like ANYONE...Wait, is she ASIAN???  Did someone switch my baby..???" (even though the baby has never left the room...)

And after it's all said and done, you will not appear glowing, with perfect eye make-up and glistening pink lip gloss, hair totally in place and a brilliant smile plastered across your face.  You will be slumped against the bed, looking like you've been rode hard and put away wet, the worst possible version of your physical appearance, but the one thing you will have, that Hollywood DID get right...

The brilliant smile, while holding your ethnic baby (don't worry, she will eventually morph into some version of you and your's partners physical features) and thinking "Damn, glad that's over with..."

That my friends, is the truth about pregnancy, childbirth and how stupid Hollywood is. 

And no, I'm not pregnant.  But I did get you to click open my blog huh?? Ha!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cat's Outta The....

Kitchen.  Yes, kitchen.  This is a tale about a cat named Sophie...

Sophie was adopted into our family in the fall of 2006.  She was a beautiful and fun little kitten.  But then, we took her into the vet to be spayed and declawed.  Bad decision.  Not the spay, but the declaw.  If I had to do it over, we would have opted out of this little operation, but in my mind, little babies, new furniture and kitty claws didn't mesh well together.  After this surgery, she got very sick and had to be rushed back to the vet for a shot of antibiotics and steriods and we were told she may not make it.  She did, thankfully,  but was never quite the same after that.

She grew up to be a gorgeous cat, and tolerated her environment quite well, even when the kids treated her like a doll rather than a cat.  One of their favorite past times was dressing her up and playing cat model. 

You can tell, she's absolutely thrilled :)

Getting Sophie from New Mexico to Georgia was an interesting adventure.  She was not too fond of her cat carrier and the only reason we weren't completely annoyed by her incessant howling in the back of the van was because the 6 children along for the cross-country trip out-louded her.

Our first stop was in Texas.  We got a suite, so there'd be room for all of us, and at night we set up a litter box, a food spot and let the cats run the room, you know, to stretch their legs and all that.  Apparently, a door got opened sometime after we locked it down and Sophie got out.  We didn't discover this until the morning, as we were getting the cats back into their kennels for another long stint across the states.  Calla was hysterical.  I was hysterical because she was hysterical.  Not a fun time.  As we were walking to and from the van, loading up, we heard a howling cat sound.  We couldn't figure out where she was, and we were kind of on a time crunch because our trip was meticously planned so as to arrive in Georgia the day before Jamie had to report to his new job (same day we were closing on the house)  Kyle was running up and down the stairs, thinking he heard her up there somewhere, but Calla swore she heard her by this car parked outside our room.  We looked high, we looked low.  We looked under the car and even peeked in the car, but what Sophie had done was incredible.  She had climbed up into the engine of the car, and couldn't get out.  So not only did we have a cat trying to relocate herself to Texas permanately, the second her new owner revved up the engine, she would be a goner.  I can't even remember how exactly we got her out of that, but we did it without having to track down the owner of the vehicle and without having to add an extra day to our trip.  Jamie was...well...annoyed and I was fried before we even got on the road.  But from then on, we paid really close attention to the cats, locking them down in the bathroom of all places we were staying in, so this wouldn't happen again. 

We made it to Georgia in one piece, (well, in body.  I am pretty sure my mind was severely fragmented at this point.)  We started out with 6 kids, 3 cats, a guinea pig and two parents, and the head count was the same once we arrived, even if our nerves were completely shot.  We got to the hotel, Jamie made his first day of work and we even closed on the house exactly as planned.  We ended up camping out in our house because it was way more fun than staying in a crowded hotel room,and the cats also enjoyed the room to roam.  After we had been here a couple days, we took Sophie out the back porch so that when the movers came and we were unloading stuff, she wouldn't just bolt out the door and get lost again.  We were trying to acclimate her, a little at a time, just in case she would get out (she was strictly an indoor cat) but this plan back-fired hugely.  She didn't just sniff around and roll on the concrete like our other cats did.  She immediately bolted to the woods.  We couldn't find her anywhere.  Calla cried for days, and kept looking for her, but she was just gone.  Her being an indoor cat her entire life, plus the fact she was declawed, didn't tip the odds in her favor.  She was a city dwelling, urban princess out in the wild, rural woods and we honestly gave up hope of ever seeing her again.  I felt like the worst Mom on the entire planet, because it was my idea to bring her outside. 

30 days later, Kyle was out in our garage, getting our new puppies some food, when he heard the trademark "meow" and there was Sophie.  He rushed in the house, holding this poor cat, and yelled 'MOM.....IT'S SOPHIE!!!" I was cooking eggs for Jamie, but paid no mind to them.  I grabbed her and immediately bolted upstairs to Calla, who was sound asleep, shook her and yelled for her to wake up.  She jumped out of her bed so fast it scared Sophie, grabbed her tight and started bawling, which made me cry too.  I still, to this day, cannot believe she came back.  She was a little ragged looking and skinny, but all in one piece and happy to be home.  And she had since never been interested in the great outdoors.  She all indoor, all the time, which would be great if she would leave...

The kitchen.

The cat will NOT leave the kitchen.  We have this huge house and she will not stay in any of the rooms we bring her in.  At night, she will creep into the laundry room, where her litter box is, but never during the day.  She sleeps on top of the fridge, or the big hutch we have in there, and when she's hungry, she'll come down for a little love and begging, but if we bring her out of the kitchen, into the main part of the house, she immediately runs back.  It's weird.  And now we have a little problem.  The door on the laundry room is now complete, blocking her entrance to the litter box and there's no way I'm putting a litter box in the kitchen.  Gross.  (Well the whole litter box concept as a whole is nasty, if you ask me, but I haven't had much success in potty training my toddlers in a reasonable time frame, so I'm pretty sure any attempt to train the cat would fail.)

We have a bathroom upstairs (you know, the coat closet with a toilet) that would be a perfect location for the litter box, but now Taylor (our pooch) sleeps in that bathroom at night.  I could relocate Tay-Tay to the laundry room and put the litter box up there, but chances are Sophie wouldn't go that far (even though she used to....) and I'm not quite sure how to work around this conumdrum.

I've searched my mind for ideas about relocating the litter box to somewhere downstairs, but there is honestly no good place for it.  I will not have it in the downstairs bathroom because there's no way to hide it.  I don't think a cat box makes for good decorating, even if it's disguised as some plant stand or whatever else is popular these days. 

So what I really need is someway to train her to stay upstairs, or at least GO up there as she needs to.  Without traumatizing her.  (And you have to understand, looking at her wrong is traumatic for her.  She's a very particular kitty..) So blog readers, how would you re-train a mentally challenged cat to embrace the whole of the house and not stand post in the kitchen all hours of the day?  Is there some trick to this, outside of just stuffing her into a room and closing the door indefinitely?

Is it time for a cat whisperer type person? 

Help!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Smart

I read somewhere that you can tell a lot about a person by examining their bookshelf and the titles contained therein.  If someone judged who I was based on the reading material in my house they might come away with a belief I have several personalities to deal with on a daily basis. 

To view my shelves would leave you believing that I....

Have no idea what faith I am.  I'm a Christian and yes, I have books about other religions.  I find the whole topic interesting and studying other belief systems has only served to fortify my own faith.  I feel I owe it to my children to understand what other people believe, why they believe it and how it differs from their parents' faith. 

Like poetry.  Which I do, but I don't read it.  I just feel like it needs to be on shelves for the children because I am positive that one day one of them will become enamoured with the rhymthic beauty of poetry as I was as a young adult and I certainly don't want them Googling "Poetry..."  I'd rather start them off with some Dickinson rather than explaining about the man from Venus, if you catch my drift.

Do real art with my children.  Please.  Paper mache with children isn't something I'll do willingly until I get to purgatory and need to do some sort of penacne for something I've done horribly wrong on this side of heaven.  My version of art with the children is a pack of coloring implements and some paper, but I will say children naturally take themselves through the gamut of what art can offer.  Just ask a five year old to draw her Momma and you've got a perfect replica of a Picasso to put in her portfolio.  Toddlers have a natural ability when it comes to impressionism.  We've got art covered without the books (Thanks Crayola!)

I'm a Martha Stewart Fan.  Not really.  I kind of think she might be alien, but the woman can fold a fitted sheet and has an excellent book to pass this handy bit of knowledge on to the mere mortals and it will never leave my bookshelf.  When I need to know how to polish silver or have a hankering for an entirely organized laundry area, that book has it covered. 

That I'm a mothering schizophrenic.  Ha!! If ever a book was written on parenting, I've either read it, plan to read it or have saved a space on my bookshelf to read again.  This is a topic I am absolutely facsinated with and as such have ensured through procreation that I will always get to practice the methods I am studying so intensely.  I am unconcerned that all the books on parenting completelty contradict each other.  There is always something to learn when it comes to raising little humans.  Even if the advice in the book is a total 180 from my beliefs, I will take the time to study it.  Knowing what NOT to do is just as handy as knowing what to do and even the worst parenting books can offer a bit of handy information (Oh wow...safety pinning socks together...what a cool idea!)

That I build stuff.  Yeah, don't think so.  But I have a husband that just LOVES me bookmarking projects that HE wants to do ;)  Because he has so much time on his hands and wouldn't know what to do with himself if he wasn't building a custom bathroom vanity or sketching out a treehouse.  I'd be totally willing to do some of this handy work myself, but apparently I cannot be trusted with the power tools.  He came to this conclusion shortly after I ended up in the ER for stitches after scissors attacked me.  No, really, they did.

That I can do super duper upper level math.  Bwhahahaha..  Again, those are Jamie's books.  I'd be lost on this earth without a calculator and I'll even admit that sometimes when my knitting configurations stump me, I'll call on The Man to help me out.  I hate numbers.  I think my love of letters sort of took up the brain space for numbers.  It's all good.  God knew what he was doing when he put us together.  I wrote his college papers, he figures out how many stitches I need to increase in a self-made pattern. It works.

I'm a weird food cultist.  Yup.  My bookshelf has many titles about nutrition and food and cooking.  Maybe I should round out this collection by adding some physical fitness type reading material. You know "Okay, so now you know how to eat to fuel your body, so get off your ass and do something with all those calories."  Something kind of like that.

I've also got the random assortment of books that provide proof I homeschool.  All homeschooling families have these.  Encyclopedias, dictionaries, science project books, what your child should know when so you don't feel like a complete failure and so on and so forth.  Which really, are all unneccessary with the advent of Google, but saying to someone unfamiliar with homeschooling "Oh we just Google that" isn't as impressive as a whole bookshelf of "Look we REALLY homeschool" books.  We have been known (dude, I know you all do it, so don't even try to pretend you dont') to keep all sorts of books we bought with the best intentions, just to feel better about what we aren't doing.  Besides, it's also good for our souls to know the hundreds and billions of dollars we spent on those books isn't going to waste....they make for great bookshelf decorations, if nothing else ;)

My goal in all this is to produce readers out of my children.  To teach them that books are friends and that they better get really good at reading because when the end of the world comes and there are no lights and no televisions or microwaves or YouTube, they are going to be really darn bored if they haven't become one with reading.  In my fantasy world, this rant has my children scrambling to the bookshelf, eagerly selecting an exciting title to curl up with, but in reality all I get is "Oh yeah!!!! I bet the new episode of Walking Dead on on Vudu right now...!! Yay!!"

(Which is one title I suggest steering clear of.  I won't admit to getting the graphic novels for my children after seeing their love for the show, but I will say I DO know someone who did this and thankfully my, uhm, friend's husband, wanted to read them first, and without a word my, I mean my FRIEND'S husband walked over to her, flipped open the book and asked her to read the page.  NOT KID FRIENDLY.  Shoot, not even adult friendly if you have any class about yourself.  Wow, really, really bad language.....)



A Mass Produced Faith

Jamie came home several months ago and related to me one of the  most interesting at-work conversations he'd ever had.  We were both in awe.  It was about religion.  This guy, and I forget his name but wouldn't put in on here even if I could remember, was a regular church going type guy.  But he expressed a curiousity at Jamie's passion for his faith and admitted it wasn't something they shared.  He said "You're just more passionate about Christianity than I am...." and it wasn't a derogatory remark at all.  He admitted that he went to church because it was just "what you did" on Sundays and that it didn't really translate into a lifestyle for all the rest of the days he spent on the planet.  Very interesting.  But also, in our own experience, very common.

In our house, we call this "Churchianity."  It's the by-product of a mass produced faith, or the ATTEMPT at a mass produced faith.  It looks like Christianity on the outskirts, but upon further examination, it's missing a little something.

When Jamie went out to sea for the first time, I decided I would make him a quilt for his second patrol.  A little bit of handmade love to wrap around himself on the cold, lonely tin can he spent his days and nights on.  This sparked a new passion in me and I went to town making quilts for every person in my house and for other loved ones.  I had always loved the look of a handmade quilt and by golly, I was proud that these unique, beautiful creations could be traced back to my loving hands.  Once, when I was short on time but anxious to get my daughter's bedroom redecorated, I opted for a store bought quilt.  Martha Stewart, from Kmart, in a super pretty wedding ring pattern, in the most perfect blend of pinks and whites.  It was gorgeous.  But shotty.  The stitches were too far apart and when it started unraveling (after just a couple washes) you could readily see the shortcuts taken to make this quilt.  The seam allowance was nothing like your typical 1/4' on a handmade blanket and the fabrics were cheap and became thread-bare way sooner than they should have.  Looked fine, but when really put to the test, it was nothing like a really, real quilt, made by loving hands with attention to every detail, including quality control.

And such is Churchianity.  It looks remarkably like Christianity.  It might even keep you warm at night, but eventually, it will wear itself thin and be a useless rag among many.  It doesn't hold up.  It's not rooted in anything other than cultural expectation and it gives Christianity a bad name.  If all anyone knows is a piece of crap quilt that wears out after a couple washings, you can bet they aren't too awfully interested when you offer to make them a real quilt with your own hands.  "No thanks" they will exclaim, " I had a quilt before and it was junk....I'd rather stick with fleece." And can you blame them? 

You find people who hold up popular Christian titles as equal to the Bible, with promises of a prosperous life,  rocking marital romantic relations, more friends than you can count and that every circumstance you encouter is "bearing a cross."  It's a feel-good motivational marathon, discounting the real meat of the Word of God.  It's really  hard to take and it's really hard to live in a world where this brand of spirituality is so grossly misrepresented by people trying to make the faith so palatable, they leave out the truth of it.  Sure, it tastes good (so does cotton candy...guess what that does for you??) but it's really of no value. 

For a Christian who really lives and breathes the Word, this kind of sucks.  It's like you are immediatley outcast the minute you bring up anything real.  'Well, that was back then...this is now..." or "Well, that's not what the scholars interpret that saying.." and so on and so forth.  Now, I am not downplaying the awesomeness of those who have devoted their lives to studying and teaching their faith, but I will say that without *some* selling out to what they REALLY believe, they can't mass produce the message.  They can't bring it to the many, because only a few will really hear.  To me, I'd rather be true in who I am and what I believe with 5 people, than put on a mask to attract 50.  Sadly, this does not pay the bills of the big buildings people gather and so in order to reconcile that which you need with that which you believe, you water it down a little.  Make it go a little farther, even if in doing so, you distort the original intent. 

I have, within my circle, passionate, God-loving Christians.  They have tattoos, color their hair, wear make-up and earn money.  They watch TV and play video games and even swear every now and then.  They eat, breathe, live and love and yet I'm confident every single one of them has been called out at one point or the other for not being a REAL Christian. 

But they are as real as real can get.  They just don't do the fluffy, surface stuff that a good deal of Churchians hold up as the ultimate proof that one "walks with God." 

They are unique in a world of mass production.  They are a hand-made by God and not mass produced by man.  They are Mary, rather than Martha (Stewart) and honestly, after the experience I had with her crappy quilts (from crappy Kmart) I'd rather have a handful of Mary's than a hundred Martha's any day of the week.

Even Sunday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When She Remembers

I got a text the other day that was short, to the point and rather blunt "Hey I need x's shirt.  Did you find it yet?"  No hello.  No how ya doing?  Just an out of the blue, random thought.  And I laughed.

That's Christine for you.  Is she rude?  No.  Is she unkind?  Not even a little.  I can't really say anything bad about her.  She's just her.  Spontaneous.  Funny.  And a little direct.  It's just her way.  The second a thought pops into her head, out it comes, but not in the socially accepted order of back and forth that most people pay attention to.  Some time ago, this would have bugged me, but as I got to know her, it's a quality I found endearing, rather than off-putting.

Christine is my mirror opposite.  She'll call (or more likely text) and say "Hey want to get together?"  I'll say "Sure, when?" thinking we are planning some future event and she'll surprise me with "I was thinking about 2."  Uhm, what?  2 TODAY???  "Yeah...2 today.  We're having a birthday party today."  My brain overloads and I think "How does someone plan something so fast?" and the answer is, she didn't.  She didn't plan it until the last minute because that's how she works.  This is a challenge for someone who plans a month in advance if I have to have all my people ready and dressed acceptably and clean and all that.  But the thing is, she doesn't care how you arrive, just that you do.  She doesn't care if your socks match, or if the girls hair is neatly placed in bow clips and matching clothes.  Because her focus is on the people themselves, not what condition they arrive in.

She's taught me to laugh at my parenting fails and to admit them to the outside world.  She's the person I can say "I said such and such to hellchild today.." and instead of rewarding my confession with silence, she busts out laughing and exclaims "I TOTALLY KNOW THAT FEELING" with so much emotion and empathy and delight that you can't help but want to tell her *everything* because you know, she will not only listen, she'll understand.  She's got "been there, done that" down to a science. 

She's misunderstood, of course, because in Girl World, that sort of acceptance of NOT accepting yourself is against the rules.  She'll forget important details of your life, and you'll have to remind her a couple times what order your children were born in, but she will remember they like the color purple.  She'll listen to all your woes, but forget the details enough that it's impossible for her to gossip about them.  And she laughs about it. 

Christine takes time to understand, but in the end, it's worth it.  She's a cheerleader, therapist, comedian, mothering expert, tech support, sounding board, and more.  She's inspiration that there is no stage of life that doesn't have it's own share of beginnings and excitement.  In short, she's an amazing person that I'm very blessed to have in my friend porfolio.  You just have to remind her to remember and when she remembers....she's completely worth the effort.

Love ya girl!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mother of Invention

There's something kind of cool about being a mom over a couple decades rather than having them all squeezed into a minute time frame.  It's like every few years all the parenting tools get re-vamped and the baby-stuff-engineers come up with all new ways to get your child through that tumultuous babyhood phase.  Just walk into any Baby Superstore and you'll see what I'm talking about.  When I had Kyle in 1998 they just had your standard baby swing that went back and forth, front to back, although they had improved upon the wind-up mechanism thing and instead decided batteries that needed changed every couple hours was better than waking up the baby to wind the thing back up.  Now, we have battery operated swings that can go back and forth, or side to side.  We have bouncy seats that vibrate, seats that take the not-quite-ready-to-sit-up baby and prop them up well before their head is ready for that position and all sorts of other goodies to make parenting a small child, easier, better, faster.

But, as an expert in the field of mothering (I recently got my PhD), I have to say there are still many, many convenience items left to invent and market and based on my experiences in this realm, I have a few suggestions:

1. The Anti-Teenage Pregnancy Modification Device- Upon reaching puberty, all teenagers would recieve a "shot" that would implant a chip into their person to monitor rising levels of hormone and at the appropriate time, like leaning in for a forbidden kiss, their body would put of a scent, ala skunk, combined with a rather loud, reverberating flatulence sound.  This would deter teenagers from even trying that shiz.  This would be on a time-release sort of deal, fading as they aged, as appropriate.  It would only take one time trying to manuever around this mechanism for them to never, ever try it again.

2. The Baby Butt Genie.  Alright people, we now have, on the market, a LITTER BOX that cleans up after a cat, washing it's waste products away into the septic tank or sewer system and we haven't applied that same technology to BABIES?  Why?  I definitley think when compared to a baby's nasty diaper, cat waste is way lower on the todem pole.  So you could have this device that looks very similar to one of those stationary walker things.  Put baby's butt in, it gets the diaper removed, it's tush sprayed off, and in the same vein at the "Cat Genie", it gets washed away with the rest of the household wastewater.  We do have the "Diaper Genie" but it is in no way, shape or form as cool as the "Cat Genie."  I personally believe quality of life with a baby would be much improved if you didn't have to be so hands on when it came to...well....poo....

3. The Marco-Polo Electronic Monitoring Device- Seriously this is a must have for parents with toddlers.  This chip would be self-sticking to any object that your child likes to "play" with.  For me, this would be my cell phone.  The premise is simple.  Can't find that object?  Scream, as loudly as possible, "MARCOOOOOO" and the object would holler back "POLOOOOO"  This could also come in handy after a long day of Dora, and Blue and toddler babble when an adult voice "talking" back to you is music to your ears. 

4. Webinator 2000- This would be mistaken for your standard Hot Momma fashion accessory, coming a vibrant range of colors and patterns (including animal print)  But oh, no, no, no...it's not just another pretty bracelet.  It's actually a net throwing device ala Spiderman.  One flick of the wrist and that toddler that will NOT listen after 17 admonitions to get down from that thing gets netted.  Pinned.  To the GROUND.  Humane and effective. 

5. Book incinerator.  Yes, this would be a parenting tool. It would be for every stupid book written by every stupid "expert" telling you how to raise your child.  You know what I'm talking about. Every few years, there's a new and improved way to parent a species that's been on this planet for a really long time.  What did we do without these genius people directing us on what to do with the miniature humans???  Oh yeah, we followed our instincts.  Parenting books, while helpful sometimes (mostly for humor) can really suck.  They must not be trusted.  Throwing them away does not provide the level of satistfaction that burning it's stupid ass does.  Trust me.  Light em up.  And go on your merry way. 

Our development engineers have a few more prototypes that are looking quite promising, but not quite ready for review yet.  As lead technologist, I will say I'm really excited about what will be on the market for future babies joining our team.  Although I will say, as we advance in understanding, it becomes more clear that gadgets aren't truly necessary when one or two loving adult models are present and accounted for, but we haven't quite figured out how to duplicate that yet, so this secret is under wraps.  For now.  Once it can be mass-produced, battery operated and sold for 17 times it's production costs, we will be marketing this one hard core. 

Coming soon to a store near you.....

I'm Not Saying Jesus Got Sloshed....

I have this look about me.  Well, when I'm perplexed, befuddled, confused...you get the idea.  Usually when this comes on, I don't have a mirror handy to inspect myself and I'm not exactly sure what it looks like to the outside world, but I'm thinking it's something like:

My children concur.  This is my face when something I have heard or seen is just completely baffling to me.  Very often, it's what I look like when hearing religious commentary.  There are many eggs in this basket I'd like to crack, but today I simply have to focus on one that has me particularly confused.

"Jesus didn't turn the water into wine, he turned it into grapejuice....."

And THEN my friends, he poured that wine into neat little plastic pitchers and placed those pitchers into his handy Fridgeadaire, you know, to prevent the almost *immediate* process of fermentation (starting) that happens when juice from fruit is exposed to the natural elements???  Right??

(As a side note, I will never forget the look on this girls face as she went to take a swig of her apple juice, at band camp, after the jug had been sitting in the sun for a couple hours.  It was no longer juicy and sweet, but already morphing into apple wine.  She should have been suspended for such immoral behavior.  Sheesh.)

This is one of those things that has me reeling.  Come on people. Do we really want to portray ourselves, Christians, as complete morons without a lick of scientific sense?  Cause if that's the plan we're doing a REALLY good job.  Every bit of conventional knowledge completely smacks this little diddy down, hard core. 

So here's the thing.  In today's culture, alcohol is portrayed as something kind of bad, kind of edgy, kind of crazy-inducing.  This is only partly true.  Yes, people drink to excess, get drunk and wind up loving someone they would have ran away from in their sober state and this is, well, bad.  It's bad for your body, bad for your mind and bad for your conscience, if you have one.  However, numerous studies have shown the benefits on the human body from injesting a moderate amount of fermented liquid.  I'm not talking rotten corn mash, distilled, I'm simply talking about a process that happens to all fruit without outside cooling devices taking center stage.  Juice doesn't stay juice for long at all.  It's just common sense. It's not a difficult concept to embrace.

And what really chaps my ass is how these HUGE fat guys will preach this.  Wine is bad.  It's bad in any form, in any amount, and you're certainly going to be dining with the Devil if your meal includes a glass of Chardonnay.  They forget one little word: excess.  Too much.  Too much of ANYTHING is bad and that's a biblical concept as well.  But these guys didn't reach into the realm of obesity by practicing sensible eating.  They ate to excess.  But food isn't bad right?  Five Big Macs and a triple order of fries with a Diet Coke isn't sinful at all, because it's FOOD.  (Ever notice people that order a lot of crap food get a diet coke with it?  I mean what's that about?  If you're going to go down to heart attack lane, at least go down without a nasty after-taste....why stop now.  Sugar it up baby!!)  I just want to scream "Dude, your freaking OBESE.  What about gluttony???  How is one glass of wine with a meal worse than eating your weight in drive-thru burgers like three times a day???"  I don't get it.  I mean I simply cannot wrap my mind around the total disconnect these people have between what they abstain from and what they freely choose.  The kicker is, they completely make it a salvation issue on top of it being a social issue.  Because that's WJWD right?  (Okay, I reconfigured the letters for my own selfish purposes. I do realize the bracelets say WWJD....I don't own one because I already know Jesus would not scream at his followers "WHY IS THERE PEANUT BUTTER ON THE FREAKING CEILING??" and I have too much guilt to be constantly reminded of how much I suck when it comes to what Jesus, himself, would do)

There are times, as a Christian woman, I offer up a little prayer for these types of people...and hopefully it's not irreverent, as I have to believe  God gave me my sense of humor for a reason...

"Dear Lord, forgive them, for they know not how absolutely completely moronic they are.  Forgive them for changing your word to suit their purposes and for climbing onto a soapbox with every moral ephiphany that comes to them.  Forgive them their judgement on others and lack of it for themselves, and please God, could you give me a small break from having to see, hear or interact with these people for at least 24 hours.  My logic chip got all smoked out trying to process this and I need a bit of time to recuperate before the next attack on my sensibilities.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Now I'm off to gather some recipes for breaded fishsticks and honey yeast rolls, because when Jesus fed the masses fish and loaves of bread, he REALLY actually fed them frozen fish sticks and big fat yeast rolls.  With juice. 

Sigh.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nickname Evolution

Jamie was named after a favorite soap opera character, so he didn't mind much being called "Bub."  It's all good when he's wearing overalls and boots, but when he dresses up for his day job, it doesn't quite work.  So, I generally address him as dude.  It works fine.

All growing up I was called Lis, or Lissy (hate that) and even worse Mel.  I watched way too many episodes of Alice during my formative years, so the image of the big fat guy in a Hanes undershirt, the defining image of passive aggressive dominance was firmly rooted in my brain and I despised being called Mel.  One time, during my middle school years I allowed my middle name to serve as my name and I spent the whole year completely confused.  There were several Melissas in my class and I felt I was doing everyone a favor by dismissing my given name and jumping right to the middle.  In hindsight it was a bad idea, mostly because I dislike my middle name more than my first.  Lesson learned.  Jamie has dubbed me Melissa Coffeycake.  This I like.

When it came to naming our children, it was a long process of deciding which among many names we liked would be THE name endowed upon that child.  Each name has a story behind it and Emmy's is no different.

I always wanted a little girl I could call Emmy-Lou, but the only name that would fit that particular was Emma and that name was way overdone in the world.  See, I like names that are different enough to be, well, different, but not different enough to invite antagonizing attention.  I'd never opt for a fruit or a species of tree as a sutiable name (but did go to school with this dude named Sequoia once.  The kid was like 8 foot tall and a really good basketball player, so the name sort of worked. For him.  Probaby the only human on the planet.)  As we drove to see if our new addition was on Team Pink or Team Blue, I kept seeing all these signs for Emory this or Emory that, which was odd because it was the name I had sort of honed in on for a girl name.  This was after my mother had me look up a (male) school friend from her early academic years and I thought 'Hmm....that BOY name is really pretty.  I like that a lot."  And so when the ultrasound rendered the information we were seeking, we knew this little girl would get the saved up name Emmy-Lou, without the Emma I distained.  Emory.  Perfect.  Her middle name is Louise, which I took from my great-grandma Crowder, whose name was actually Louie.  Emory Louise.  Emmy-Lou.

But then things changed.  Instead of calling her Emory, we started right off with Emmy.  Cute.  Every now and then, she'd be called Emmy-Lou.  Or Emmy Lou Bear.  Until the day Jamie changed it to Emmy-Roo.  Emmy-Roo-Bear......Hmmm....

Now we've shortened all that and her new name is simply Roo.  Seriously we call her Roo more than Emmy.  More than Emmy-Lou or even Emmy-Roo.

The kid is going to be so confused.  How we went from Emory to Roo....I don't know, but there it is. 

She joins the ranks of Kee-Lay (Kyle.  Jamie started calling him this after constantly being called Da-Tee by Kyle).

And Ca-Cah (Calla.  Noah can say anything correctly, but still calls his sister this.  We call her that now too)

Cassidia-dia (No idea.  But we call her that everyday.  Better than her former name Occidy...self-explantory)

And Liger (Elijah.  Still yet, no idea.  Where do we come up with this stuff??)

Mally (Mallory.  It's how Noah says her name.  We thought that was cute and adopted it for ourselves.  Noah is renaming the whole family apparently)

Noey Bear (With lots of hair.  I can't believe I'm admitting this out loud....Clearly we need a better hobby than coming up with stupid names for our children...)

And Roo.

Me?  I adopted a new name about 14 years ago.  I go by the ever popular "Mom" or for the little ones "Momma...."  I am quite fond of my new moniker. And Jamie...

He's got the best one.  He's got "DADDDDDDDDY!!!! DADDDDYYYYY'S HOOOOOMMMMEEE!!!"

Kind of jealous of that one, actually.

34 Random Facts

In honor of my here-on-earth anniversary, marking 34 years of existence, here are 34 random facts about me, one for each year I've inhabited this plane:

1. Even though I own a coat of my own, I always grab my husband's when I go outside.  Not sure why.  It's roomier and slouchy and I like it.

2. When I am feeling a little down or a little silly, I will YouTube fainting goats and laugh until I hurt.  My children watch me like I've lost it, but end up laughing at me laughing.

3.  I taught myself to knit for one pattern and one pattern only.  I never intended to be a "knitter."  I am not sure what happened.  Now, I'm addicted to it.

4. I have a slight obsession with fuzzy socks.

5. I have changed diapers for approximately the last 5,200 days of my life.  Every day.

6. Which leads to...I use cloth diapers and used to own a business in this realm. My name used to be kind of "out there" in this area.

7. I completely DO NOT miss having a business and dealing with other people's personal issues. 

8. I love Etsy.com very, very much.

9. If I had unlimited funds, my entire wardrobe would be vintage clothing from Etsy.coom

10. It's not, so Old Navy is my go to store for clothes. 

11. I round out my wardrobe by thrift shopping, which really isn't a budget-concious thing, I just have a thing about looking like everyone else all the time. 

12. I usually wear my hair red. I am not a natural redhead but I look like one.  Pale skin and all that good stuff.

13. I hate the sound of a dog licking themselves to the point it makes me angry, annoyed, and violent.  I have been known to throw a scary object at an animal doing this, just to scare them off.  Gross.

14. My teeth chatter violently when I get cold.  Jamie thinks this is adorable.  I do not.

15. I love to cook, but hate my kitchen so much (right now) that I try to be in there as little as possible.  It will be a living dream when it's remodeled.

16. The most expensive item in my house is a musical instrument.  It cost more than a nice little used car. 

17. My favorite stations on Sirius are 80's and Hair Bands.  No idea why. Probably makes me a dork.

18.  I love make-up a lot.  I'm not even the primpy type girl, but I do love making up my face. It's like coloring or something.

19. I love labeling things.  With a label maker even.  In my perfect world, my house would have labels all over it so there would be no confusion as to where things belong.  But, toddlers love to peel off labels, so yeah, not happening.

20.  I think Las Vegas should have a parental advisory warning on every major entrance point into the city.  For real.

21. I sometimes pretend that laundry can "get done" and the house can "stay clean."  I live among this fantasty every day and even when it NEVER happens, I still hope someday it will.

22. I used to write poetry. One day when I was cleaning, I threw it all out because I was embarassed by it.  Sometimes I regret doing this, but most of the time I don't.  Its kind of like looking back at a picture where you are breaking every fashion rule known to man.  The memory lingers but there's no need to have living proof of it. 

23. My first "true love" is among my facebook friends.  We don't even talk.  I know nothing about his life now and barely remember what he looks like.  That's kind of weird now that I have teenagers.  To remember how "in love" I was makes me laugh.  I was dumb. 

24. I am hyper-sensitive to light.  Gotta wear shades.

25. I have a small circle of friends, but honesty, what I lack in quantity, I make up for in quality.  The people in my circle are seriously cool.  Like for real cool.  Very individualistic and well-rounded and smart and funny...yeah...just all around super cool people.

26. Despite my moderate level of intelligence and interest in all things intellectual, I still laugh my ass off watching Beavis and Butthead.  I can't explain this, but it's true.

27. I *despise* "the mall"  I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather shop at less.  I hate it more than Wal-Mart, but love the outer lying stores.  Weird. 

28. I got married only 50 days after meeting Jamie.  Still kinda hoping it works out *wink*

29. Even though I've actually been published as a writer, I dont' consider myself a really, real writer.  I probably never will, although I do hope to fufill the bucket list item of having a book with my name on it one day.  We'll see ;)

30. I can sew.  I have a great many quilts in this house made by my hands.  I really miss it, but don't have the time to devote to it like I once did.  I will again one day.  Something about a child like Noah and having an iron on the entire time I'm piecing a quilt doesn't mesh well.  I can't even think about that scenario too long and keep an average heartbeat.

31. I have a brother and sister I do not know. Much, much, much older than me.  Never met them, they don't even know I exist. 

32.  I would sell yarn to buy coffee.  No, really, I would ;)

33. I am growing my hair super long again.  Used to be waist-length.  And then I decided I wanted a perm and that Jamie and I should DIY it together.  Bad idea.  Like worst ever kind of bad.  I don't recommend it.

34. I am loving being 34.  There's something about aging and growing in wisdom that suits me. But if I ever look too old for my age, I am not above using cosmetic surgery to right a few wrongs. 

And there you have 34 things about me that you may not have known.  Or cared about.  Now, go drink a cuppa hot something delicious in honor of my 34 years and have a super great day!!