nonsensical text

Saturday, September 30, 2006

a different kind of humor

The seven year-old made up a story. It started this way.

A boy and a girl's mother died.

A big grin spreads across his face with the excitement of telling me this story.

Their father put her in a coffin. He decided to give his kids some money to spend at the store.

Bigger grin here.

Me: This is not sounding like a very happy story.

J: Oh, it's a very happy, funny story

The father told the kids their mother was just sleeping really deeply even though she wasn't.

Me: But he shouldn't do that.

J: He just didn't want to hurt their feelings.

The kids took the money and ran off to the store to buy an enormous alarm clock.

J: See, now that's funny!

Yeah, I'm just rolling on the floor here.

Shall I assume he is sick of his mother and wants her to go sleep in an underground box? He certainly has an appreciation for black comedy. The child really has been preoccupied with death lately. The stories he tells are full of it. Always, it is taken in a light-hearted manner. Embarrassingly, even though he is the fourth child to hit this age, I don't remember if it is a stage they all went through.

You know, the story's kinda growing on me. Maybe I will hang it on the fridge.


Friday, September 29, 2006

a quick quote

So, we were watching re-runs of a show called “Dead Like Me.” It was very short-run and absurdly written (in a good way). There are far too many sexual references, and the general philosophy is usually not my own, but I like it nonetheless. It is therefore with mild abashment that I relate the following quote from that show which made me laugh for an embarrassing five minutes.

“When you’re young, it’s so easy. Sex is like a buffet, and you’re just a fat man with a fork.”


he lied to me

Last night N, my 15 and 11/12ths year old, lied to me. I knew it at the time. It was disappointing. It was quite accidental that I was witness to this lie. He and M were laughing loudly in the hallway upstairs at midnight. I went up to shoo them to bed and provide the requisite lecture. While I was busy sounding as maternal as I could, his cell phone rang. He looked at the number and said, “What the heck?” He turned off the ringer. It rang again a minute later and then a third time. “I don’t know who the heck would be calling me. I don’t know that number.”

He isn’t a very good liar, or maybe I am just a perceptive enough mother to catch him even if he is. I knew he was not ignorant to the caller’s details. Still, I let it slide. I mandated lights out and sleep before wandering back to the computer to reverse look up the number – resolving to pay closer attention, hurt by the lack of faith in me his dishonesty seemed to reveal.

This morning, he sat at the table ready for school at the prescribed hour – an hour we have missed every day this week. He looked up at me with an air of extreme repentance, “Mom, I have to tell you something. That phone call last night wasn’t an accident. I knew who it was from. It was a girl named S. We met in an online game, and I didn’t want you to think it was silly because we really like each other. She is a Christian. She is in AP History and English and wants to be a meteorologist. I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you the truth.”


Let me tell you, there were and are a lot of things going through my mind, but first and foremost, I have to say I am awfully proud of him for telling me the truth. My goodness he’s growing up all of a sudden.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

yes sir, that’s my baby!

I have been wavering lately between the giddily goofy and intensely profound aspects of my being. Unfortunately, my timing is a little askew, and I am normally silly when seriousness is called for and visa versa. That said, I will warn you. This post is very likely going to touch upon both, and possibly swing between them with unexpected abruptness. Yes, I know I don’t need the word sudden before the word abrupt since one implies the other; I just like it there.

Newspaper headlines and the horrific deed of a woman who cut out her friend’s unborn baby have inadvertently set me to thinking about stillbirth. When this story was first told to me on Sunday, I was told that the murderess had recently experienced a “full term miscarriage.” Reading the news bits, I think that may have been inaccurate information (or there was more than one story). Still, the topic was already in my mind.

First of all, the media’s insistence on calling a stillbirth a full-term miscarriage gets under the skin of most of us who have experienced stillbirth. Even if it is acknowledged for what it is, no one who hasn’t been through it seems able to understand it.

A stillborn child is a child who died. If I had, for some reason, been at the hospital and hooked to monitors when my placenta abrupted, an emergency c-section would likely have resulted in a healthy child. If the child had died one hour after being born instead of one hour before getting to the hospital to deliver him, people would look at that as losing a child instead of losing (as one card I received put it) my hopes and dreams for the future. I would have a death certificate and official recognition that the child existed. The thing is, I KNEW that child. When someone lives inside you for awhile, you get to know them. I can tell you from observing the six children I get to keep at home that they are just like they were when they lived in me. Am I angry at anyone for not understanding this? Not really; I don’t think so. Sometimes, though, I do get upset that it is kept a silent predator.

Even in those news stories, this woman’s child is referred to as a fetus. That fetus would have likely survived had it been cut out by a surgeon as opposed to a madwoman. It would then be called a baby. Maybe it is the impersonal touch of calling stillbirth “fetal demise” that upsets me so. Maybe it is the fact that people who have so much control over how things are presented to others don’t care enough about that kind of loss to report it for what it is. Sometimes, though, I think that is the way with every illness and medical issue until a few high-profile celebrities are afflicted.

Next, I think about a friend who has MS like symptoms from time to time, and I get so darn frustrated for her. Even with something as silly as my ankle, the hardest part is just not knowing. It is so easy to slip into a paralyzingly enormous puddle of fear because everything is the unknown. With my problematic ankle, I find that I haven’t even asked for prayer, because I so badly need to know WHY it is bothering me BEFORE it gets better. I have the completely pessimistic belief that the ankle is going to stop acting up just long enough for me to go to a doctor only to resume its misbehavior the second I leave. I cannot imagine going through that on the larger scale of MS and MS-like illnesses. I cannot imagine having to never know when it might throw you for a loop. Quite frankly, it stinks.

Then, I am forced to look at the control aspect of my thoughts. Apparently, I am just as much of a control-freak as anyone. I might relinquish control to others through much of daily life, but I tell myself that I am really in control because I decided to let go. I cannot trust God to carry me through difficulty if I don’t know what that difficulty is going to be. It is almost as if I want to be the voice which tells God whether I should be burdened with something or not. As if I had the organizational skills to manage the intermingled cause and effect of billions of free will choices.

Perhaps we should all put on tutus and dance happily through chocolate pudding. It might not solve any problems, but highlighting the absurd goes a long way sometimes.

Still, I have a deep faith in God and know that I am in His arms. I guess I just needed to ramble. Other than the pudding, it looks like the giddy side has gone on vacation. Please forgive the heaviness of this entry. I am sure I will re-read it and find many ways that I have expressed myself badly or segued in such a way as to infer a certain point when indeed I was not meaning that at all. If so, you will find me cowering under my fuzzy blanket with a flashlight, reading my book and listening to mercyme.


Monday, September 25, 2006

watch out for that chasm!

There are so many cordless phones in this place that my memory has weakened on some of the advances in technology that have happened during my lifetime. I mean, until five minutes ago, how much time had I recently spent pondering the finer points of the expandable telephone cord? But, as I sat here facing an empty page, feeling the need to write, but having absolutely no clue where to focus my attention, I couldn’t help but study the one corded phone in the house.

Has there ever been a phone cord which didn’t develop slinky-like kinks after extended use? The DNA perfection of the coils is marred by two simple curves flowing in the wrong direction.

When I was a child, we weren’t even allowed to own our phone; we had to rent it monthly from the telephone company. As a pre-teen in a house with three females, we had a 40 foot long cord on our kitchen phone. We were spoiled by the ability to wander the house while on the phone. I can clearly picture balancing the receiver on the stair railing while switching to the upstairs phone. Occasionally, my best friend and I would play a game in which the object was to hang up the downstairs receiver and race to the upstairs one before the connection was lost. Sometimes we made it, sometimes we didn’t. Now, I am so spoiled, I won’t usually answer the office phone because the reality of being anchored to the desk suddenly reminds me of everything I need to be doing in another room.

I always wanted a princess phone when I was younger. Nowadays, mentioning a princess phone probably brings forth images of a Disney-themed masterpiece in cheap plastic. In my youth, it was a fancy dial phone of elaborate design. Instead, we had a standard olive green (it was the seventies, after all). Our first touch tone was mustard yellow – a status symbol of moving up in the world – it took so little then.

The mustard yellow phone of elongated cord could be found attached to my ear as I pranced through the living room dusting to the strains of Mozart’s 40th. It was during those years that, proud of my well-learned telephone etiquette, I loved calling my mother at work, just so I could ask for her by first and last name. The phone was like the computer is now, a barrier between me and the listener which obscured my paralyzing shyness. For a period in high school, drama would become that tool.

Now, I examine that phone knowing that tomorrow I must make a call. I wonder just when I started being afraid. I dissect my psyche to search for clues to what brought it about. I come up empty.

All I know is that my ankle is much less swollen, and I am trying to talk myself out of having to make the call. Those coils make really cool patterns on the curtain...


sleeping with bread requires sleeping

But I am going to give it a shot anyway. For an explanation, see here:

I figured I'd start with what I always find the easiest question (I must be gentle on myself when without much sleep), "For what are you most grateful/least grateful?"

I am going to begin with the bad, so I can, hopefully, end this on a positive note (as is common with me, as soon as I opened this entry, my mind went blank). Over the past week, the thing for which I am least grateful is my messy house and the corresponding portion of my being that has so much trouble finding the motivation and time to do anything about it. I can't even seem to bring myself to discipline the kids when they are leaving mayhem in their wake. I know I am not normally a neat person, but I am still a perfectionist. Sometimes I just look around, and the lack of organization cuts me more deeply than it should, causing me to make harsh judgements about who I am.

Gratitude is a funny thing. Sometimes the smallest thing can turn a day around. In the midst of all the craziness, one little smile can turn the whole situation from drama to comedy. This week, I am most grateful for children who love to hug their mom and say such things as, "You laugh a lot," especially since the laughter is usually the silent kind, and they really have to be paying attention to see it. May I always laugh a lot through the arms of the ones I love.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

just a btw

The doc's office did call me Friday (found out later that they only did so because the dh called and reamed them out for not calling me when they said they would). I am supposed to call the rheumatologist Tuesday, after they have had enough time to review the papers on me (it can't be much, I only had one visit and two blood tests).

So, keep me in your thoughts as I try to work up the courage to make that Tuesday call (provided I don't conveniently forget).



Realizing that I am the most myself when I am tired is a scary thing. I’m not very nice. Wrangling all of the children through a football day including team pictures, various arrival times and clothing changes while I have a migraine, and the dh is announcing the games, gives me a glimpse of just how short-tempered I really am. The things which come out of the mouth when under duress are those which most accurately represent where the heart truly rests. In those times, I find that I do not lean on the strength of God, but get snippy, irritable, and extraordinarily frustrated. I find myself spending altogether too much time concentrating on the negative as I attempt to spread my attention over too wide of an arc. Who am I?


And still
there is more to say...
surrounds me like a fog.
My eyes
won’t close to today -
no resolution
too many unmended scars -
re-opened by darkness.
I hide.
I cry in silence,
my inner arms
and heart
away from caring.
I pray,
I do love you God.
I pray,
You terrify me Lord!
I pray,
help me feel Your love -
the release of intimate
with You!


Friday, September 22, 2006

vagueness personified

So, MS Word tells me the following is 504 words, and it passes the grammar check with no red flags. Granted, I may have leaned too heavily on use of the semicolon, but there it is. I think I may have managed to convey quite a bit about my history while remaining intentionally vague (privacy and all that).

I couldn’t start off normally and still be me, instead I needed a little drama; my mother was carrying me placenta-previa, but this was the era before sonograms, and she had no bleeding during the pregnancy, so this was not a known fact, as a result, the sudden hemorrhaging was the first clue that there might be a problem; as would be the case in my Murphy’s Law existence, most of the roads were closed due to a blizzard, so my mother had to be transported to the hospital by way of ambulance which barely made it to the door of our home, but it did; this was fortunate because it resulted in both my mother and I getting out of the situation alive and continuing onward in the pursuit of life; that pursuit was marked with trials, tribulations, and joys upon the way, including the oppositional forces of intense love of learning and dislike of the political situations arising out of a public school environment, even so, my education was relatively smooth and led to a stint at a major university; if it hadn’t been for the even greater love of love, perhaps a degree would have been imminent, but that was not to be; instead I set forth into the world of fast food service, specializing in late hours and bar rush; this conglomeration of facts all led obscurely to the night we were robbed at gunpoint and placed into the walk-in refrigerator; during that icy stay, a friendship was developed between me and the man who would become my husband, but not right away; several years would pass before we reached that moment of marital vows – years marked by our respective relationships with others; however, when we did manage to get together, we wasted no time before starting a family; This family would grow greatly and fill our lives with countless blessings, though financial, emotional, and physical hardship sometimes blocked the path; after three children, we were pregnant with our fourth when our hearts were wrenched from our chests due to his untimely premature death mere hours before he was born; his loss would affect us deeply yet not stifle our desire to enjoy the blessing of even more children, as a result, three more children have come to us – all boys save the last, our little pink one; and though raising six children, even choosing to homeschool them, is no picnic sometimes, we have a built-in cistern of love and friendship that travels with us wherever we go – a vat of companionship, arguments, games, heartaches, and most importantly, understanding and acceptance, those sweet gems of true family so rarely found in the modern world; we journey now together for a little while, until my life changes yet again, and I must learn to live the life of an empty nester – on the fringes of those children’s lives but for the connecting spirit of prayer and faith in God, who has been truly wonderful to us, even in times of hardship.

There ya go, Mary-LUE (which has me suddenly singing Buddy Holly). :)


a request

If I might make so bold - I have a request to make of you. I am feeling severely unmotivated of late. If you would be so kind, I would appreciate a little help. I need writing assignments. A few guide rules should be noted. I have never enjoyed research papers, and don't intend on ever enjoying them. I already plan on sleeping with bread (and have planned on it for several Mondays, but they keep slipping by without me in them). You should not expect what I write to have any merit. Basically, I am asking you to be my muse. Give me some hints. Throw me some ideas. Turn me into a philosopher. Make me even more nonsensical. Challenge my ability to connect the most unlikely tangents. I'm much too lazy to do my thinking all by myself lately.

See that. I've been homeschooling too long. Now I think I have the right to give homework assignments to anyone I please.....


blumberdee flibble

Today, I received a copy of a medical referral in the mail. There was no note attached to let me know whether they have contacted the rheumatologist to get an appointment, or whether I must do that on my own. It is certainly sounding like I have to work myself up to make at least one phone call tomorrow. I did read the referral, though, and it says that the reason for referral is Left ankle synovitis, labs negative.

Synovitis is the medical term for inflammation of a synovial membrane, which line those joints which possess cavities, namely synovial joints. The condition is usually painful, particularly when the joint is moved. The joint usually swells due to fluid collection.
Synovitis is a risk in several forms of
arthritis as well as lupus, gout, and other conditions. Synovitis is one part of distinguishing rheumatoid arthritis from other forms of arthritis, although it can be found mildly in Osteoarthritis. Long term occurrence of synovitis can result in degeneration of the joint.
Symptoms of synovitis can be treated by a doctor with
anti-inflammatory drugs including such as NSAIDs. Specific treatment depends on determining the cause of the synovitis.

courtesy wikipedia

Okay, I learned a new word.

Today was the second football game for J and T. It is actually the third, but we were away on vacation for the first. Thankfully it was a much better game than Tuesday's which was rougher than any 5-7 year old game has a right to be. As I was trying to rush the kids toward struggling into their uniforms, I took a look at T, and realized he wasn't looking entirely present. I decided to take his temperature. 103.3 in the ear. It took me this long to notice? Bad mommy. Needless to say, he stayed home.

After the game, J told me that his teammates were glad that T was not there this evening. They said it was his fault we lost Tuesday. The child wasn't even in for half the game. Not only that, but the entire opposing team was regularly pushing through our offensive line, and knocking the quarterback over as their whole team piled on top of him and anyone else they could reach (and continued to pile after the whistle). When T was in the game, the other team's coach seemed to think it was the most logical choice to put him up against their biggest player who had to weigh at least twice as much as him (even when the score was something like 42 to 0). On one occasion, T got knocked over so hard, he ran off the field crying (he was okay).

I guess this wouldn't bother me so much if J had stuck up for his brother. He didn't. He thought it was funny they were blaming T. I gave him the, "Was any player on your team able to block the other team? Would it have been possible for any one player to block that entire team from breaking through? You need to stick up for members of your family when people speak negatively about them," speech. It didn't make me feel any better. The mama tiger in me wants to come out and play.

I need to sleep with the phone tonight. I need to do so in the living room. T might wake up from fever, and the LR is closer to him than my bedroom is. Also, my mom had a colonoscopy today, and she was running a fever this evening. I am pretty sure the fever is from a virus, as she was feeling like she was getting the flu yesterday. Even so, if she gets any worse, she will need to go to the ER. My sis went with her today, so I let her know I was on duty tonight. This is rather a bad thing, because my stomach has been hinting at me all day that I am not doing so well myself. I am hoping it is just some random, passing almost-sickness, and I will be fine in the morning.

Disjointed. That's me.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

would you like fries with that?

I love comments. They are such warm, fuzzy things. There's only one problem - my finely tuned guiltometer and my desire for personal connectedness.

Tangent warning: it comes to my attention that I bring shame to my past math teachers regularly in this blog. For not the first time, I have shown my inability to count. I just listed two things didn't I? Perhaps that is my cue to stop blogging and go to bed. I'm not about to listen to it, though...

Anyway, back to my point. I have this little problem that I want to respond to every comment anyone makes on here. This simply isn't feasible. That fact drives me nuts. I don't want anyone to feel like I am not paying attention to them, because I am. Is non-response a forgivable sin? :)

I think I shall prepare a standard catch-all response here and now. This might be a bit difficult since I am just odd enough that a wide variety of subjects could potentially be discussed. Oh the heck with it, I'll try anyway.

Dear commenters,

Thank you so much for your response. I absolutely adore you. It is so kind of you to wish me well in my quest to identify and type my mold spores. I am truly glad you enjoyed that movie as well. It is good to know I am not the only one who has had to clean kool-aid powder from between the folds of a stuffed frog's toes.

I agree wholeheartedly that peanut butter and baby oatmeal make a wonderful emergency spackle. My moles did that too. The image of the guinea pig stuck in the sleeve of your daughter's winter coat was priceless.

I too enjoy a quiet moment away from it all. Thank you for the web addy to the wholesale duct tape barn. I really appreciate the suggestions for getting the permanent marker off the mini-blinds. For all of your care and attention, I am grateful.


I know I missed so many possible points, but I am actually very tired. I suppose I must give in to the demands of my aging frame and cart myself off to bed.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

gravity works and the return of the ankle monster

I may have mentioned before that I have a slight phobia of making phone calls. I don't actually have a problem talking on the phone, I just get mild panic attacks when I have to call anyone. This is almost universal. I can call my mother, or my closest friend (if I know she is going to answer). I can call my husband's cell phone. I can call other places if I don't mind rehearsing the conversation for hours before making the call, breaking out in cold sweats, forcing myself to recall breathing techniques from childbirths (which is a bit difficult since the dh would pant/blow to the tune of the Ukranian Bell Carol every time the instructor tried to teach a new pattern...but that is a tangent for another day), and tripping over my tongue for the first 30-second eternity of the conversation. This might explain why I never called the doctor back. I was supposed to take the anti-inflammatories for a week and watch the ankle. I did. In fact, I even measured it with a tape measure to make sure I was watching it with the rational part of my brain and not the hypochondriacal part.

You know, when your ankle has been swollen long enough, a few things start to impress themselves upon you. Firstly, it is so much easier to shave your legs when there is no little hollow behind the ankle bone to navigate around. Secondly, after awhile, the swollen ankle begins to look normal, and you start worrying that the other one is really going through a state of atrophy. But, I watched it just the same. If anything, it actually swelled a little more. The meds also did nothing for the pain, and I got a few headaches I couldn't medicate (negative interaction and all that jazz). So, after a week, I stopped the anti-inflamatories, took some OTC ibuprofen, and stayed off my feet for an entire day. I kept expecting the doc to call and check in. He HAD said that, if it didn't completely go away, he would want to pursue further action. I then had the excuse that, after staying off my feet, the swelling did go down some for a week. Yes, it went right back up after that week when I started actually using my foot for such strenuous things as walking and standing, but still....

I had to develop a new excuse for not calling. Grumpiness ensued about the state of the medical system and the fact that so much of what was formerly the doctor's job now falls to the patient. Why should the patient have to make the follow-up calls? Aren't we the ones paying them? Shouldn't they be calling us?

I let it slide a little longer. I started making hints to the dh before we left to go away. I guess I thought he might call to get it taken care of for me, wuss that I am. He didn't. However, after walking around with me for a whole week with no office escape, he did call yesterday. He even gave the doc's office my cell phone number in case they couldn't reach me at home. Of course, they called yesterday while I was out. I just happened to be at a homeschooler's lunch at church where, you guessed it, there is no cell phone service. They left me a message to call them back. I didn't. I had two excuses this time. I didn't have a minute of free time yesterday, and the message the nurse left made me a trifle grumpy.

Imagine my surprise when the doc called me on my cell tonight at 9:40 (he was still at the office). Looks like I get to make a visit to a rheumatologist. If he can't expedite things and get me in to see one in a week or less, he wants to put me on prednisone in the interim. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Other than that, the day has been full of repeated lessons in the truth of gravitational law. Another way to convey this to you would be to simply admit the truth. Everything I have touched today, I have dropped. In fact, many of those things, I have dropped repeatedly (pick it up, set it on counter, it falls over and drops to the floor again). Apparently, I am in need of much intensive study on these physical laws. Even as I type, I hear from above the telltale thump. A child has fallen out of bed.

Maybe tomorrow will be the day for flight training instead.....


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

easing the hecticity

Like my new word? I made it up just for you.

By some strange alignment of good fortunes, N doesn't have to work today, and there is a pretty good chance of thunderstorms this evening (translated: possibility of no football). So here it is 8:30 AM, and everyone but me is still in bed. Do I feel guilty for letting the older ones sleep in and start school late on the second day? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes. Introverts need their solitude from time to time.

There are a million things I could be doing with my unexpected free time. Housework and school preperation come to mind most readily. Of course, if I actually did those things, I might tarnish my near perfect reputation for procrastination. We couldn't have that, could we?

So instead, I sit and type to myself knowing full well that at any moment the dynamics of the atmosphere will go through a severe change as little ones wander from above and begin their supplications. In these quiet moments, I remember anew how grateful I am for each and every one of them. I find the strength to carry me through the bickering and battles to come.

For this moment of peace, I am thankful.


dog ears and taxi days

We picked the dog up from the vet the day we got back. He didn't seem as excited to see us as I expected him to be. It took me a day and a half to realize he wasn't wagging his tail. My best guess is that our excitable dog wagged his tail exuberantly into some hard surface. He whimpered when I picked it up yesterday. Half-wag has returned today, so I am not too worried. There is a vent attached, though.

The whole reason we boarded the dog with the vet is because he has medical issues. We had also noticed him shaking his ears a lot in the week before we left, and asked the doc to take a look at them. Well, he has been shaking his head even worse since we got home, so the dh called the vet today. It seems doggy dearest has impacted ear wax. The vet told us to put mineral oil in his ears and massage them. I just have two questions. First, why didn't they simply tell us this when we picked him up? Second, if the dog had impacted wax, and they had him for a week, why didn't they just try to treat him while he was there? grrrrr

Yes, I am aware that I am quite boring this evening. That's what turning into a morning person does to me. I lose all creativity and spark. Okay, not always true, but it's as good an excuse as any other.

Today was the first day back to school for us. Yes, I know it is late, but homeschooling gives us that option. It was a CRAZY hectic day. From the looks of things, the whole year is going to be almost as crazy as this day, too. My schedule looked something like this:

7:30 AM start S & N on school
8:00 AM fix breakfast for youngers while doing algebra and geometry
10:15 AM start schooling J & M
11:15 AM set J & M up with some independent work so that I can take N to work
11:55 AM continue J, work through pre-algebra with M
12:30 PM finish J, assign reading for science and math (M) that can be done in car on way to homeschooler's lunch with youth pastor (1 day notice)
2:20 PM return home and begin schooling T (first day of kindergarten, wow)
3:35 PM finish with T and realize I was supposed to pick N up from work 5 minutes ago
4:00 PM return from drive, begin fixing dinner
5:00 PM dinner for S,M,J,T & R
5:50 PM leave for football practice (after setting out dinner for N and dh)
8:55 PM return home and put kids to bed - bathless
10:00 PM begin preparing lessons for tomorrow, but get side-tracked by computer
1:00 AM realize lack of sleep from computer addiction bound to make for a less than perfect Tuesday

I'm guessing my creativity may be in hiding for some time. I hope it comes out to play from time to time. I type much more slowly when I'm dull.


Saturday, September 16, 2006


There was a time when I ran free over the sand and played in sea water deeper than my waist. Now, I stand and watch my progeny, trying so hard not to let the fear show on my face when they venture further than ankle deep.

There was a day when I could swim and frolic without worrying which saggy body part was hanging out in some crazy direction.

There were glimpses of those days over the past week. Little fragments peeked through between the cracks of responsibility’s veneer.

Like flying my jacket in the wind and imagining where it would take me. Like sneaking out for a donut at 6 AM with my second born. Like stopping to listen to the street musician, even when no one else did. Like talking to a cyclist about the laurel and rocks, the newly changing leaves of northwestern Pennsylvania while taking out the trash.

But all in all, it’s good to be home.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

one more for the road

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep deprivation

flesh melting into puddles of ooze in peripheral vision

fingers sliding off keyboard

coherent thought unlikely

Why do I do this to myself?

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be interesting, isn't it?


I could regale you with tales of football, cleaning, and packing. I could run a comparative analysis of late night infomercials. I could dust off my harmonica and play you some blues (except for the fact that I don't have a harmonica or play one, nor do I know any blues tunes by heart). I could make up new lyrics to some pop song including references to a gopher and a slurpee. I could slink off into the scary realm of coca-cola induced hallucination. Or, I could just start packing the car and hope I get some sleep on the way.

Ooooh, oooh, oooh, I see daylight.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

not guilty by reason of insanity

I got really angry yesterday. I am not a stranger to anger; I keep an unlimited supply just to the left of the canned tomato puree in the back of the pantry – just out of arm’s reach. I am usually somewhat good at leaving most of it there.

Yesterday, I was running late for football practice. I had all three football playing kids because the dh was late getting home from work. It was decided at the last minute that he and the other kids would stay at home. This didn’t bother me. I did start to get a trifle unsettled when we started with the shoe issues, uniforms scarcities, and realizations of forgotten drinks for the kids. That trifle started to grow when I looked at the clock and was swiftly kicked by the “OMGoodness, we should have left 5 minutes ago” bug. Still, I was merely flustered, perhaps a little more vehemently rattled than called for in the situation, but my anger jug was safely tucked away – until I walked out the front door.

Primary elections are next Tuesday in my neck of the woods. As a result, all of the local candidates can be found (as opposed to after election when you need three bloodhounds, an FBI agent, a psychic, and an earth magnet to dig one up). Coming toward me with pamphlet extended as I neared my car was just such a candidate. I waved him off as I rushed toward the car with a cheerful, “Sorry, not now, I’m really in a hurry.” I scurried past him to the driver’s side, inserted the key, and turned the ignition. The kids put the windows down simultaneously (we’re good like that). This man reached his arm inside the car, handed S the pamphlet, and started talking about his platform within three seconds of that window being opened.

I am not normally confrontational, and I had no idea I was capable of teleporting objects, but I must be. That anger jar was in my hands and cracked open faster than you can say, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.” I looked at this man I did not know, glanced at the pamphlet (thereby realizing he was the candidate and not just someone on the door-to-door committee), and let loose the following admonition:

“You are just plain rude. I told you I was in a hurry. You completely disregarded me and have gone beyond the boundaries of correctness. That is certainly no way to get elected!” at which point I put the car in drive. I would have pulled out then, but the previously clear street was now teeming with other cars racing the half block to the red light. By the time we did get to pull away, I had to sit through the traffic light three times, and it was one minute before the boys were scheduled to be on the field.

As is the way with these things, it doesn’t sound anywhere near as explosive in print. So many things depend on tone and body language. Perhaps it would help if I explained that my tone could have frozen a pool of magma as deep as the trenches of the Atlantic.

Afterward, I felt good. I felt like I had actually gotten up the courage to express righteous anger. I felt powerful and enabled. I felt like singing Helen Reddy.

Then I thought about it.

Thinking is a dangerous thing for someone like me. I have this horribly irritating tendency to start turning things around and looking at them from other perspectives. It suddenly occurred to me that this candidate might have mistaken the opening window as an invitation to continue his spiel.

From “I am Woman!” to “I Shot the Sheriff” with the speed of a CD laser.

Then came the brooding.

How often do I do that? With what kind of frequency do I fly off the handle with seemingly righteous indignation without stopping to look at the other person’s point of view? A candidate was walking down the street. He was cheered to see a possible vote. He came forward with his best candidate smile and met a madwoman intent only on inflicting rapid-fire condemnation.

There is such a slight difference between Jesus’ furious overturning of money lenders’ tables in the temple court and Peter’s sword-drawn fury as he severed the ear of the guard – the difference of seeing the whole picture and acting in a manner which seems right at the time.

If I insist on keeping that anger jar in the closet instead of turning it over to the authority of God’s wisdom, how do I ever expect to make the proper choice?


avoiding the inevitable

I am supposed to be making a “to do” list right now. I haven’t even started making the preparations for our little trip. Granted, much of it I cannot do until the last minute because we are surprising the kids. I get a kick out of that. This is only the second real vacation we have taken since having kids (by real, I mean longer than two days). The last time, we didn’t tell them anything until we got to the ocean. We’re hoping to pull it off again this time, but they might get a little suspicious.

Basically, at present, the plan is that the dh will take all of the kids to football tomorrow when S needs to be there. They have to arrive two hours before the game. I will stay home and stealthily gather things from their rooms which I will secrete in the garage until we pack the car (while keeping them busy elsewhere). If all goes as planned, we will stick them all in the car Sunday morning and venture off. They will know it is a long journey by the presence of the portable DVD player. They will attempt to guess the destination the entire time. The dh and I will play many games of How to Avoid Answering a Direct Question Without Giving Away Any Information.

This is all provided I can complete my “to do” list which, oh yeah, I haven’t written. Instead, I plan to write an uberlong post which will keep all of my faithful friends occupied for six days (ha). This would likely be much simpler if I had the writing skills of a best-selling novelist instead of those stolen from a three paragraph essay writer.

Still, provided I can wake up enough to think in the next twenty minutes or so, I do plan to at least post something else. This is, of course, why I am avoiding the list. The surest way to get this insomniac to fall asleep is to make her start thinking of everything productive she should be doing.


security measures

How's this for ridiculous? I am actually thinking of turning off the word verification because I am having trouble passing that little, "Are you a human being?" test myself. Every time I want to respond to a comment, I find myself staring at those letters and thinking, "I used to know how to read. Really." Perhaps I am really just a computer. Nope, failed that one - too emotional and make far too many mistakes.

Ah, I shall leave it on for now and blame the whole thing on exhaustion and disorganization. Maybe my brain will fall back into my head while I am sleeping tonight.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

dear mr. trashman

I am so sorry to inconvenience you by actually having garbage. It was not my intention to make your life more difficult when I didn’t starve my children and pets to avoid extra consumption on a week when a holiday took away one of our regular pick-up dates.

I appreciate the fact that you only left one of my cans in the street. I am sure the elderly pedestrians are also grateful that you only chose to throw one can and the lids onto the sidewalk, thereby affording them the possible opportunity of circumnavigating the bins without bodily harm.

I am sure you have gone above and beyond the call of duty by actually dumping the contents of the cans into the truck as opposed to taking only those items which are bagged.

It is not an envious job that you have, and I am just ever so thankful you see it as your mission to carry out your menial duties with such flair and thoroughness.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

rabbit teeth

I have determined that I am going to write something in this blog. There is a problem with my master plan. I have absolutely nothing in my head other than random snippets like the following:

I had a dream this morning that I was sitting poolside with the two h's and the n watching Pluto the dog balance on a boogie board with a video camera. (This thought is particularly disturbing since I had no such dream).

Why didn't the dh hook up the means for downloading pics from the camera, and where is the stupid part so that I can do it myself?

I really should write an open letter blog complaining about doctors.

How am I going to make dinner tomorrow night when I need to be picking N up from work exactly at the time I should be preparing it if we are to make it to football?

Will the urge to type become so overwhelming on our trip next week that I will sneak into my child's room after everyone is snoozing to borrow his laptop?

Will my brain actually spawn something resembling creative thought before all is said and done?

And as these thoughts churn around in my head, I suddenly have to shout, "Run away! Run away!" for staring down at me is a killer rabbit with big pointy teeth.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

37 degrees southeast

Change occurs daily. There are countless thousands of small decisions which slightly alter your path, changing who you are and who you will become by such slight degrees that their impact alone is not measurable. The cumulative effect, however, can be quite profound. There are other decisions which leave no doubt of their import on the blueprint of your life.

Twenty-two years ago, a young man and woman fell deeply, passionately, perhaps obsessively in love. They started off with all night sessions of talking – unable, either of them to say goodbye, and put an end to their time together, even for the few hours of night-black. It evolved over time into a relationship so joined, they often didn’t need to speak at all.

The time was marked with the intensity of soul-deep craving, but their relationship was far from perfect. There was much immaturity, many mistakes in the order of youth. Still, the uniting force was so strong, she could never see it being broken – she never noted the small, slight changes of direction.

They came to each other broken. He had been married before – at a very young age to an unfaithful wife. He had two children and had physically put an end to his childbearing years. She could handle that, or so she thought. Anything was alright as long as they were together.

She had wandered a fallen path – even having an abortion at age 17, though she was very much pro-life. He understood her failings and forgave her, even when she couldn’t forgive herself.

For many lifetimes in a moment, they walked the path together. Fireworks and dewdrops – earthquakes and molten lava - hot chocolate to the iciness of solitude – hot water scathing the rawness of new burnt skin.

Sometimes the biggest changes occur more from a lack of choice than from direct decision. It was only to be a few weeks’ separation. It turned into a bouncing ball with gaps of separation lasting longer with each rebound. It turned down a road where two souls symbiotically joined had lost the words to fill the empty space. It became easier to let it slide away without ever really saying goodbye.

Years later, she looks back from a vantage point almost diametrically opposed. Children call her mother. Temperance has taken the place of passion. Contentment has taken the place of joy. Irritation of desolation.

Still, sometimes she misses the person that was she before turning 37 degrees southeast.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

shadow puppets and bubblegum

So I am preparing my lesson plan overview for the coming school year. We are starting a bit late this year due to a family trip next week. I will do the standardized testing this coming week, but wait for the "real" start of school until we get back.

The fact that I am only now getting around to the lesson plans might give you the hint that "procrastination" is more than just the title of my last entry. Have I mentioned before that my kids are raising two ADD parents? It's not just a tangent, trust me.

N's first lesson for his creative writing class has to do with paying attention to body communication. It discusses the fact that the body movements of children do not tend to match what they are saying or doing. Biting nails, fidgeting legs, picking scabs, staring into space - these are all things a child might be doing when they are supposed to be sitting still. N is supposed to observe the difference in body motions from children to adults. It mentions that adults usually have good control over their movements and are capable of sitting still for relatively long stretches.


In church this morning, you would have caught me passing notes. You see, my dear husband was purposefully instigating his children to try to make them fidget more so they would get in trouble. Cracking knuckles, scratching his fingernails loudly across the back of the seats, rustling the paper insert to the altoids as loudly as possible - these are a few of his favorite things.

I gave S a note which said, "Tell your father to behave himself."

Instead of saying it, he passed the note over.

The dh read the note then looked at me with mock seriousness and mouthed, "He's dead. My father's dead."

It's a good thing I am N's teacher, and I can grade the poor boy on a sliding scale.



I have the potential for a big old post brewing in me that may or may not make its way out, but for now, I am tired, my ankle is swollen, and I have just finished celebrating my 17th wedding anniversary. So let me just say this:

Laughter still comes easily.

Children can break your heart and mend it in a second (a.k.a. talking to your three year old on the phone from the movie theater).

Yes, Virginia, someone else CAN administer the dog's seizure pills.

Lumpy couches with familiar soft spots are sometimes a heck of a lot more comfortable than the top-of-the line new model (which philosophy goes well with 17 year marriages too).

If you forget to call your mother and tell her that football is cancelled until an hour before the game, and she is so disappointed about missing a movie with her friends because you called so late that she forgets it is your anniversary, you have six kids, and it might have been wise for her to call you (since you are forgetful); then going out to the very movie she missed can be both extremely pleasing in a sadistic way, and horribly guilt inducing. {gotta love the grammar in that one}

Those little gadgets for the top of two-liter soda bottles called the "pump and pour" really do keep the dang thing from going flat.

Not having to cook once for an entire day is possibly the best anniversary present I have ever been given.

Having band-aids on the index finger and removing the backing from label stickers do not go well together.

I still like walking in the rain.


Friday, September 01, 2006

blessed rain

It's chilly. Here it is the first day of September, and the temperature is not even supposed to hit 70 today. This is unusual. For now, I am enjoying the snuggly comfort of slippers and sweatshirt as I watch slight patches of green slip back into my yard. It is raining. That is something which hasn't happened enough here this summer. A gentle steady rain is caressing the world around me. Later today, torrents might be pounding the earth, and the beneficial water might turn into a curse, but for now, it is a blessed relief.

Parenting is like that. In difficult spots, when the trials have been searing down like the hot August sun, when all the mother's soul is parched from the scorching heat of battle, a sudden smile or act of love sends sweet drops of moisture to re-invigorate the troubled landscape.

God is good.


cowering from evil lint balls

There are times in which I am perfectly aware that my reaction to a series of circumstances is completely out of proportion to the situation at hand. My mind, you see, is very analytical. Unfortunately, the violent passions are just as strong with me, though I often hide them behind facts, figures, busyness or jocularity. Why am I so willing to listen to the self-defeating voice? Why do I allow myself to get caught in the trap of logically knowing something is affecting me more than it should, but since it is bothering me anyway, thinking I must really be screwed up?

I ask this on a day when I am not feeling strongly in that direction. If my feelings were that raw today, I wouldn't dare ask the question. My goodness, when I get like that, the mere fact that someone neglected to say, "Hi," might set me off on a five hour self-search to identify what horrible thing I did to offend them. I can entertain so many possibilities.

I will analyze everything I say and do - understand that many of the things I say in an effort to relate end up turning a conversation back to myself - end up making me sound selfish. Is that what I have done? That's not what I mean. I know that many times when you present something, I will talk it through from several other points of view. It's who I am. But, in so doing, am I making you feel that I think you are wrong? That's not what I mean. Many times I respond with sarcasm that is oozing with affection. Am I conveying the affection? Is it coming out meaner than I ever intended? That's not what I mean. Am I shooting barbs at you with my words when I simply want to touch souls? That's not what I mean. Did I unintentionally strike out toward you because I was frustrated or busy or hurt? That's not what I mean.

But why am I always so ready to believe that something must be wrong with me? And why was yesterday one of those days?

and why am I so good at hiding it?