Sunday, April 25, 2010

Don't Blink

Do you ever look at your big kids and see your babies?  The other night, when putting the girls to bed, after books and prayers, I snuggled up and just looked at them. I watched them drift off to sleep, their little uncomplicated lives slipping into uncomplicated dreams. In between the ipods, Harry Potter novels, Selena Gomez posters, cootie catchers, ballet shoes, nail polish and sticker collections--I saw my babies.  Clear as day, I saw them small again.  They have the same little faces that they had when they were little.  Watching them sleep, I gladly forgot any challenges I felt back then, only seeing the good stuff that being "little" is about. I loved when they were just toddling around, seeing the world right side up for the first time--little feet, legs, fingers and bodies that couldn't keep up with all the discovery and adventure just three steps in front of them. Today, it seems I am the one three steps behind. Before long, I'll be yearning for what I have right now too; I'll have blinked and this season will be over.   Maybe if I just don't blink...

Okay, I just have to stop or this will never, never end. And p.s. good thing I only have two children. (smiiiiile)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh, Jeeves...

I took Addy to the doctor yesterday for a strep test.  Every time we go to the doctor, she thinks she's getting a shot, so when I assured her she'd get no shot at this one, her next worst-case-scenario was that she was getting her tonsils out.  She is *so* my kid.  We go to that place.

Anyway, it was her first time getting the throat swab.  She was shocked at how much a cotton ball could hurt. I totally cracked up out loud when she kind of gagged, the loving mother that I am. I am *so* that person that laughs in all the inappropriate moments.  Some of my most hearty laughs are when The Hubbs injures himself, the loving wife that I am.  What?  It's funny. 

So when Addy was finished doing her little cackle/gag thing (which sounded very much like our cat trying to cough up a hair ball), she exclaimed, "I smell pennies!"  Hilarious.  I laughed.  Come on, now that's some good stuff right there.

Thank goodness for the funny, that's what I say. I think The Humor keeps me sane.  It's been a rough couple of weeks--busy, emotional and despite being surrounded by children, pets and people, somehow incredibly lonely.  My mind and body are exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for a week.  I cannot get enough.

We have a no school day today, which is good, because Addy's got the angry throat (though she tested negative for strep).  We had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. My bed is top notch.  Every time I climb into it, I am reminded of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  My bed is for sure Momma Bear's bed. This morning, all the kids and pets were all snuggled up good with me in it.  We were just one big pile of blankets, pillows, fur and cozy.  I told the kids I need a butler, because I just want to stay in bed all day and have someone bring everything to me at my beck and call.  Of course Addy said, "What's a butt-ler?"  I know my kid, she totally meant it that way.  "Butt" is totally on the "Bad Word" list, so she got much pleasure out of emphasizing the "butt" in "butler," further leaving no doubt that this child is mine, mine, mine. 

Anyway after slightly (mostly sleepily) scolding her for pointing out the "butt" part and explaining what butler's do and exactly why we need one, Liv totally piped in, "We should hire one."  I laugh at the word, "hire" too, because we don't really hire people.  We totally do it ourselves and then "pay" someone to come fix it. ((Hire)).  Where do they get this stuff? 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Survey Says

I'm totally stealing this from my dearie friend and fellow blogger, Jen, at  I am such a sucker for the survey thingys.  This one is a challenge for me as it is one word answers only.  Do they know me at all?

Your cell phone? MyTouch

Your hair? Loooong

Your mother? Heaven 

Your father? Tinker-er

Your favorite food? Bread

Your dream last night? Active

Your favorite drink? Coffee

Your music? Good

Your dream/goal? A-plenty

What room are you in? Office

Your hobby? Writing

Your fear? Losing

Where do you want to be in six years? Earth

Where were you last night? Ballet

Something that you aren’t? Bored

Muffins? Homemade

Wish list item? Laptop

Where did you grow up? Arizona

Last thing you did? Laundry

What are you wearing? Gray

Your TV? Lit

Your pets? Needy

Friends? Funny

Your life? Full

Your mood? Iffy

Missing someone? Yes

Vehicle? Rogue

Something you’re not wearing? Poncho

You? Productive

Your favorite store? Decor

Your favorite color? Orange

When was the last time you laughed? Doctor's

Last time you cried? Sunday

Your best friend? There

One place that you go to over and over? Albertson's

Facebook? Entertaining

Favorite place to eat? Parents

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Missing Elizabeth

Elizabeth & I.

A year ago yesterday we lost my 12-year-old niece, Elizabeth.  It was right after Easter, and four days before she was supposed to turn 13.  Her death was sudden, unexpected, life-altering, hole-in-your-heart making and most of all, wrong.  My sister, my family--we'll never get over it. 

To this day Elizabeth's death leaves us with more questions than answers.  The Phone Call replays in my head over and over; my dad calmly, quietly, sadly, telling me that she was gone. I just wanted him to stop talking. Take. It. Back. She had suffocated to death.  We have no way of knowing if it was on purpose or a horrible accident. It appears she may have been playing The Choking Game. We know she went to bed and when my sister went to wake her up in the morning, it was too late.

Things hadn't been easy for her.  She had been through a lot in her twelve years. Because of this she could be tough, resistant, and sometimes hard to get close to. But she had a whole other side to her as well.  A precious side. She was a 12-year-old girl. She was all that came with that. She had had ups and downs; dreams and challenges.  She liked boys and hated math.  She sang, she danced, she cooked and she made babies laugh.  She dyed her hair, read Twilight and acted out Mama Mia. She loved texting and ran with her dog. She would lie in bed and make up elaborate stories with her mom that would last hours, sometime go on for days. She was more. She was a 12-year-old girl on the verge of realizing all she could become.

I saw a lot of myself in Elizabeth, at her age, and would tell her this often. It's a tough age to be for a lot of us. I remember that awkward stage very well, where you don't quite fit into your skin yet. It doesn't matter how nice you are, how smart you are, how talented; it's more about how your hair grows, if your teeth are straight, what brand of jeans you wear and where you live, that defines your immediate future at that point. Like Elizabeth, I was really independent at her age. Due to circumstances, I was "older" than my age, taking on responsibilities and worries that I wasn't mature enough to handle. I knew she struggled. She had moved around a lot and had a hard time fitting in at school. She was outcast and picked on frequently. It affected her grades and she would act out. It was a lot for her to take, and we who loved her, were constantly looking for answers. We would encourage her to push through, keep her head up and that it would get better. We promised her it would.

I will always refer to 7th grade as the worst time of my life. I had just moved to a new town, started a new school and days before school started, my mom died. Pretty much from the first day, I was picked on by an 8th grade girl. She was gorgeous. She was popular. She was mean. I think she had heard that I said her boyfriend was cute. I was a mouse compared to her.  Invisible.  Totally not a threat, but every single day she would threaten to "kick my ass" after school. Every day. I had never had anyone hate me like that, or threaten to hurt me. It was a shocking, horrible place to be. I hated everything about my life that year.  I don't think I even properly grieved for the loss of my mother, because I was so consumed with this girl. I would lose sleep and get physically sick before school in the morning.  I failed classes. It killed my confidence and made me feel extremely shut out and alone. I got to the point where I wanted her to beat me up, just to get it over with.  She never did.  She never touched me, physically. After that year, she moved on to high school and, I got my life back.  But that year was bad.  That experience stayed with me all my life and that was one girl. I can't imagine having to deal with this for years, as Elizabeth had. 

I always thought that "episode" was sort of a rite of passage in my life.  I was well into adulthood, before I even told my parents about it.  I can't imagine this being my entire childhood and adolescence, and the different person it would have molded me into. It fills me up with guilt to go there and think about what Elizabeth must have been going through all that time--that away from the love of her family, that is what she knew. We did a lot, but there is that nagging feeling that we should have done more. We were her protectors.  It was our job to see through walls at night, erase pain, predict the future and take the monsters down. It's heartbreaking to fail at such an important job.

I will never get over losing her.  She is supposed to be here, telling her mom what kind of cake she wants for her 14th birthday this week. She is supposed to be putting off math homework to talk on the phone to her best friend about her latest crush, planning hair do's and outfits. She is supposed to be here, playing hide and seek with her cousins and showing them how to do cartwheels on grandma's trampoline.  She is supposed to be here snuggled up on the couch with her mom and Aunt Caren watching Dancing with the Stars. She is supposed to be here, looking me in the eye and having me tell her she's not allowed to be taller than me, and her shooting back, "Too late, Auntie."  She's supposed to be here.

**Please read about The Choking Game.  We had no idea it even existed before this.  It's serious and it's an epidemic.  Be vigilant.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

I had a wonderful weekend with my girls.  Saturday we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, all with the promise that they could ride their bikes afterwards which, ended up being like 4:00 by the time we were done.  I was in The Groove, where you actually put the laundry away after you fold it (instead of leaving it in the basket, folded, piling other baskets with folded laundry on top of them, and ultimately revolving your life and you clothing choices for the week around the tower of laundry baskets) and move the furniture to dust, sweep and vacuum.  Every time I clean a bathroom, let alone all three at once, I feel like I have superpowers.  I was so proud of my girls for being such great helpers.  I've added vacuuming and Clorox wipe-ing down the bathroom faucet, sink and counter (maybe they'll stop spitting everywhere but in the actual sink now) to their chores. 


To celebrate my superpowers, their work ethic and surprisingly minimal complaining I decided to treat them to something special on Sunday. They have recently become fans of the movie Twilight.  Addy watched it about 100 times in two days.  She thinks Bella works at a coffee shop in Portland and we overheard her explaining to her sister how when they become vampires, "They make their buttons fly off their shirts and then their skin gets all sparkly." (she is so my kid) During the movie, I pointed out certain scenes that were filmed in Portland, and how I could take them to some of the places.  They know I've done the whole Portland Twilight Tour and have seen the pics, but now they understand.  Big difference. 

Sunday, I surprised them and took them for breakfast at Carver Cafe, where a couple Twilight scenes were filmed.  It's literally 4 minutes from our house.  It's a tiny little mom and pop restaurant that only has like four tables to sit at, and serves really good breakfast and BLT's. The Carver Cafe peeps have embraced the whole Twilight vibe, as it's a regular stop for fans.  The waitress/manager/cook was an extra in the movie.  It was packed when we went in, so the girls and I gave up the (Bella) table and sat at the counter.  Sitting on barstools is always a bonus.  The girls were in awe (mostly of the Edward, Bella and Jacob Barbie dolls displayed on the counter) and could not believe their luck (how cool their mother is).  Plus we ran into Olivia's 1st grade teacher.

We ate our weight in bacon, eggs and hash browns and moved on to our next surprise o' the day.  I picked up my dearie friend Shannon and the girls' BFF, Kayla, and we headed out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.  We met up with the cousins, the aunt, uncle and grandparents too.  It was kind of a big dealie.  After nine years of parenthood, I'm finally learning not to tell my kids when we're doing something big-ish like this.  Every time I make the "big plans" and tell them about it, someone throws up and we end up not being able to do it.  It works out, in that just about everything ends up being a big ol' surprise, surprise, surprise for them. 

We had never been to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (isn't that such an interesting name?) and I was just thrilled to go.  I like pretty stuff.  When we first got there, the girls really didn't get what we were doing.  They thought we were at a fair, because of the elephant ears, face painting, jumpy house and fire truck.  They couldn't understand why we kept walking past all the "good stuff".  When we finally got to the tulips though, it was like seeing a piece of Heaven. It.was.sumpin'. I took about 300 pictures and none of them managed to capture what I was really seeing. I had no idea what a big deal tulips were in mass quantity. Thankfully my girls got what a big deal it was and clapped their hands and I knew that I was still "cool".

My brother-in-law (who is also "cool") made it a mission for all the kiddos to find the PERFECT tulip.  And all the kids took it very seriously.  You know how they do.  I've never heard so many, "Dad!"'s  and "Uncle Brandon!"'s in my life.  I just looked at him after about the 1000th "perfect" tulip and thought, "You started this, dude." But he's a smart man and a great dad/uncle, because the kids were so into it that they forgot all about the "carnival" on the other side of the farm.  We rewarded them with a ride on the Wooden Shoe "train". 

After that, they were getting all complain-ey.  When I say "they," I mean my kid, Olivia.  "I'm sooooooo thirsty."  She's just like me, in that when I'm thirsty, hungry or tired, I'm borderline done, and you have about twenty seconds to make me happy. Despite that little fact, I ignored her for the first twenty whines; I was still trying to capture Heaven in my camera. But it was a sweltering 60 degrees out, so when she started complaining that her tongue hurt and her eyeball hurt, I knew we were moving on. 

We got the kiddos lemonade, got their faces painted, let them go down the slowest slide in the world and didn't let them go on any rides.  This is where I became very uncool.  The cost of the ticket was outrageous for what you actually got to use them for. But Grandpa caved (as good grandpas do) and got tix for all the kidlets, and at $1 a ticket, that ended up being like two tickets a piece, which adds up to 5 minutes in the little jumpy house (not even the big one) with all the babies.  This is when Olivia lost it, because she's NINE and couldn't possibly do anything for less than 4 tickets.  Some random stranger had mercy on her sad, sad disposition (nine-year-old-throwing-a-tantrum-in-the-middle-of-a-tulip-farm) and came up to her, giving her a ticket. I became very, very uncool at this point, took the ticket away from her, and she took her two tickets and went in the baby jumpy, pouted and gave the stink eye to all the babies. Time to go.

Then we went to Red Robin got the tower of onion rings, and all was right with the world again.