Monday, September 26, 2011

Three examples of why it's great to have a daughter

1. I know more about what Lauren has done in the past four weeks of school than about what the boys have done in several years. Boys have two responses to the question of what they did at school each day: "Nothing" or "I don't remember." Lauren tells me who said what and when and how and what they were wearing when they said it. Apparently, I will have to just wait a few years to find out what the boys did in each grade.

2. I love shopping for all of my kids, but girls clothes . . . they're just cuter. Plus the reaction when I give them something new is so much better from a girl. For instance, I went to Elmira, New York on Saturday to do some shopping and brought home a shirt for Josh and some hair clips for Lauren. Joshua's response: "Cool." Lauren's response: "Ohmigosh! They're adorable!!"

3. When Ethan came down with a 103.2 fever tonight, I asked Lauren to go upstairs and get his pillow so he could lie down on the couch. When she brought it down, she said, "Mom, anytime someone is sick, you should send me to get their pillow because I bring them something special, too." She had brought him a stuffed animal. Once I got him all set up with his pillow and blanket and movie, Lauren sat on the end of the sofa and said, "I'm gonna sit here so I can see the movie and so I'll be close by if Ethan needs me."

There are not words for how thankful I am that God blessed me with a girl.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday Morning: Why I Should Have Stayed in Bed

6:00 ... Wake up

7:00 - 7:45 .... Wrangle three feral children into clothes and backpacks and send them off to school

8:00 ... Leave for court in a neighboring county about 40 min. away for a hearing at 9:00. Having never been to said court before, I want to give myself plenty of time.

8:10 .... Notice I am almost out of gas. Decide to stop in next town which is about halfway to my destination

8:30 ... Stop for gas. LOCK KEYS IN CAR like an idiot.

8:35 ... Discover keys locked in car, along with cell phone and briefcase. Panic. Go into convenience store and ask to borrow a phone and a phone book. Call police station where nice lady tells me she will contact the officer and send him right over. (The police will still get keys out of locked cars in small-town America.)

8:40 ... Realize I left my wallet on the counter in the gas station. Thank God when I realize it is still there.

8:45 ... Man in van pulls into gas station and asks me if I'm the lady waiting for the police officer to get my keys. When I say yes, he says that the police officer is at the elementary school doing a presentation and will not be able to get to me for another 45 minutes or so. Thank kind man for coming over to tell me instead of just leaving me waiting. Another high-five to small town America.

8:48 ... Call attorney friend who has office in the town I am stuck in to see if she is going to court today and can give me a ride. She is not but she is on her way to said town (she lives in the town I live in) and will be glad to give me a lift. It will take her 20 minutes to get to me.

8:49 ... Call my secretary and have her call court to let them know I'm going to be half an hour late. Random woman at gas station counter overhears me and offers to drive me to court. (Have I mentioned small towns are sometimes great?) Being desperate and deciding she does not look like a psychopath, I gratefully accept her offer.

8:50 ... Call attorney friend to tell her never mind. She tells me her secretary - whose office is 2 minutes away - is already on her way to get me. Thank random, kind gas station lady for the offer.

8:52 ... Friend's secretary arrives and drives me to court.

9:10 ... Arrive to court only ten minutes late. Apologize profusely to judge whom I have never met. Borrow legal pad and pen from court administrator since I left everything in my car. Thank God that I remember my client's name.

9:40 ... Finish successful hearing. Try unsuccessfully to bum a ride back to gas station in neighboring town. Call super amazing secretary friend again. She comes back to get me.

10:00 ... Arrive at gas station to find my car still at the pump and locked. (The amazingly nice store clerk had said she would watch for the police officer and move my car to a parking space once he opened it.) Gas station clerk is not there so Renee (secretary) takes me back to her office to make phone calls.

10:05 ... Call police station and speak to nice officer who apologizes for not being able to get my car open. He says he tried everything and couldn't get it. Renee calls someone else who agrees to meet us at the gas station and give it a try.

10:10 ... Renee takes me back to gas station to meet rescue man. Rescue man spends about five minutes working on it and gets the vehicle open!!! Ask man how much I owe and he tells me to go ask Dawn at the garage where he works down the street.

10:13 ... Arrive at garage and discover I left my wallet at Renee's office when we went back to make the phone calls.

10:16 ... Retrieve wallet for the second time that morning.

10:20 ... Go back to garage and pay TEN DOLLARS for rescue man's services. I'm really happy with small town USA today.

10:25 ... Go to florist and have flowers sent to attorney friend and Renee for turning their office into my personal taxi and rescue service.

10:30 ... Head back home to crawl under my covers and hide.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

To Lauren

Dear Lauren,

I know what it's like to grow up wishing for a sister. I, too, grew up as the only girl with two brothers. And I'm glad, because as a result, I totally "get" you. There are so many things about your brothers that they got from Daddy, but you little darling, you're all me. You're as pink and sparkly girly as they come . . . but . . . when your brother needs someone to have a light saber fight with, you're all in. And, I must say, you make an adorable Darth Vader.

You are a walking dichotomy of two different girls: the one who wore her purple frilly skirt and sparkly gold hairclip to gymnastics this morning and the one who rides through the galaxy with fierce determination to stop the Jedi forces . . . on her pink bike with the zebra-print seat.

Once the jedi rebellion has been quelled, you take a little time out for silly tricks. Excuse me, I meant super-amazing-never-before-seen bicycle tricks.

It would be impossible for me to name even a fraction of the things I love about you. But your tenacity, your feisty-ness, your amazing ability to hold your own with those brothers of yours without sacrificing a bit of your sparkly, princess girly-ness. That's at the top of the list. Ride on, Darth Lauren. The world is at your fingertips.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A letter to my children

Dear Joshua, Ethan, and Lauren:

You're sleeping now, but in the morning it's going to happen. I wish I could stop it, save all of us from it, but I'm powerless. It's inevitable. The alarm will go off, and you will have to get up for school.

I know it seems like a cruel, heartless trick for me to come in your room at 7:00 every weekday morning and drag you out of bed when you clearly like to rise at 7:00 only on weekends, but nevertheless, I'm your mother, so I must. In the interest of retaining that last tiny little sliver of my sanity that seems to be holding on despite all odds, I have just a few requests for you.

1. I will not let you wear raggedy gym shorts to school every day. Deal with it. It's not like I make you wear a tie and wingtips. Believe it or not, cargo shorts and a nice t-shirt is not exactly formal wear. You are not the only kid in school not wearing basketball clothes, and even if you are, I don't care. Be glad you don't attend a school that requires uniforms, and be glad that your mother has not begun requiring you to wear uniforms despite that . . . yet.

2. Socks. They have seams at the end. Well, not all of them; they do make seamless socks. But, I've bought them for you more than once, and you hate them for some inexplicable reason that makes as much sense as hating polo shirts. So you're going to have to deal with the seams. You can try wearing them inside out as you often do, or you can adjust and manipulate the sock to your heart's content. But you may not - under any circumstances - take the shoe and/or sock off once it is on. I don't care if you think there is a rock the size of Gibraltar in there, there is not. There never is. So, when those shoes get fastened onto your feet, you take them off at your own risk. Your momma might get all crazy up in here, and if you miss the bus because you were "fixing" your socks again, you just might not make it to next year.

3. Lauren. Dear, sweet Lauren. Your underwear are not falling down. I do not know why every pair of pants and leggings you own makes it feel like your underpants are falling down; they are not. You pull them up until they are three inches higher than your pants, and still you insist they are falling down. They. are. not.

4. Here are your breakfast choices: oatmeal, waffles, eggs, toast, and cereal (we have the same five or six kinds of cereal we have had virtually every morning of your entire lives . . . you're not going to conjure up Lucky Charms by staring at the pantry for ten minutes). That's it. If you could begin making your choice while you're getting dressed or brushing your teeth - or even while you're walking to the kitchen - it would really speed things up. There's no reason to wait until you've looked at everything in the kitchen and asked me if you can have a yogurt pop or ice cream or a tootsie roll pop instead. Here are the cold, hard facts: the answer will NEVER be yes. So, let's not waste precious, possibly bus-missing, minutes have this conversation again.

5. Ethan. When you have your backpack and jacket and shoes on, and it's time to walk run out the door for the bus, you're going to get thirsty. How about getting a sip of water sometime before then. Just a suggestion.

6. If it's library day, don't cry to me that you "never had a chance" to read your library book. Don't ask me to read a 50 page chapter book to you at breakfast. It is your library book. With the exception of Lauren (and even she is getting pretty good), YOU CAN READ. Read your books sometime before 7:30 the morning they are due. And do not get mad at me when you don't have time to read it then.

7. There are three of you. There are two bathrooms upstairs. All of you will need to go potty. And brush your teeth. And comb your hair. If your sibling is on the toilet, perhaps you could just wait a moment or two before bursting in to brush your teeth. If your sibling is brushing his teeth, perhaps you could go pee in the other bathroom instead of yelling and crying that he won't get out because you have to go potty reeeeeaaaally bad. And perhaps - just perhaps - two of you could be in the bathroom at the same time without killing each other. Really. I'm fairly confident it won't cause sudden, painful, and immediate death if your sister combs her hair while you brush your teeth.

8. Joshua. You're not riding your bike to school. Period. I don't care how cool the bike rack is or how you're practically grown. It's not going to happen. Go ahead and get over it (again) the night before instead of in the morning.

But, hey, at least we have only 168 more school days to go. This year.

With never-ending love (even though I think you're determined to send me to the loony bin),


Thursday, September 8, 2011

A glimpse into my thoughts . . . you've been warned

I've heard there are people who get in bed at night and go to sleep. I am not one of those people. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to be one of those people. I look forward to bed like some people look forward the season premier of their favorite t.v. show. When I sit at my desk in the afternoon, or when I'm folding laundry, or when I'm trying to muster the energy to exercise - or even grocery shop - I dream of bedtime.

But when it finally happens - the kids are asleep (for now); the kitchen is clean (enough) - the thoughts begin.

So, instead of just lying in bed keeping all these thoughts to myself, I thought I'd share them with you. You can thank me later (or not).

1. Yesterday Lauren asked if she could paint my fingernails. She picked out a deep shade of sparkly teal that she had chosen from the drugstore earlier, and I indulged her, knowing I could just remove it later. Of course last night I forgot about it. I remembered it when I was handing a cashier some money today and noticed that my fingernails looked . . . well, blue and like they'd been painted by a 5 year-old. Tonight, however, I remembered that I needed to take the polish off. Unfortunately, I also remembered that I used the last of my nail polish remover last week.

2. I haven't shared on here or on Facebook until tonight that my father-in-law has a malignant tumor on one of his kidneys. They found it in late July and scheduled surgery for today as it is apparently a slow-growing and usually contained type of cancer. Unfortunately, they were not able to do the surgery because a few days ago they informed him that he is not in good enough physical shape for surgery. He is 71 years old and has out-of-control high blood pressure, severe fluid retention, and diabetes. Please pray for him.

3. I am finding it harder and harder to get involved in debates like I used to. I have always loved a good political or theological debate. Actually, to be honest, I love to debate about anything and have been know to fight (almost) to the death over grammar and punctuation. Lately, though, the political and the theological fighting just leaves me drained when I'm not even engaged in it. I read newspaper columns and magazine articles and blogs, and I'm just saddened and exhausted by it all.

I have come to the realization that I would rather be known as someone who loves all the time than as someone who is right all the time.

4. Allergies. I hate 'em. Would any of my doctor friends out there be willing to come hook me up with a couple of i.v. drips? I could really use one to dispense a constant dose of Benadryl and another some caffeine to counteract the drowsiness caused by the Benadryl. I should need it only for another month or so. I hope.

5. We have three cats. How did this happen? Honestly, I really enjoy them and love the fact that three cats are waaaaaaaaay less work than one dog. However, we have one very whiny cat who meows all. the. time. And it's not just any meow . . . he does this vibrating trill first. Like he's a Spanish cat who's rolling an "r" for a second or two as he works up to the meow. He meows in the morning. In the afternoon. In the middle. of. the. night. I have to close him in the bathroom at night or else, just as I've finally gotten to sleep at 1 or 2 a.m., I will be suddenly and rudely awakened by "rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr meow!"

6. Speaking of cats, we have had the third one for about 3 or 4 weeks now and still have not named him. We just call him little kitty. Any suggestions? He is black and grey tiger striped, and our other cats are named Dr. Flufferson and Nacho. So, of course his name has to go with those names. Since they are so alike and all.

7. I almost wore boots today because it was chilly this morning and I was wearing a dress that I normally wear boots with in the winter. I had to stop myself, though, as I remembered how long I will be wearing boots once winter actually arrives. By April I will be loooonging to wear anything other than a boot. Please, I will implore, no more boots. So I am holding off and will not wear boots any sooner than absolutely necessary.

8. If people would not watch Toddlers and Tiaras, it would not remain on television. I am really tired of people getting all up in arms about how awful those mothers are (and I agree 100%) but then watching the show about them. Same with Jersey Shore. Such trash is on only because people watch it. Stop watching it.

9. I love to watch Food Network even though I've never heard of most of the ingredients they use. Especially on Iron Chef. I think my only chance of winning would be if the surprise ingredients were sugar, flour, and eggs.

10. I keep meaning to lose weight, and I keep gaining it instead. Maybe if I just decide I'm going to gain 10 pounds, the opposite will happen? But maybe not if I can't quit the sweet tea. It's just so good and it tastes like home!

Alright, I will let you escape now. Spending more than a few minutes trapped in my mind is probably more than anyone can take. Which is what makes my poor husband such a saint. At least you can just stop reading my blog; he's gotta listen to this for the rest of his life! Someday I will write a post just about the things I've said (or done) that have mortified my spouse. That one will have to wait till I have more time. A lot more time.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A random recap of Labor Day weekend

Yesterday I was down for the count. After carrying home the half-ton typewriter that Josh bought at a yard sale Saturday, I awoke Sunday morning barely able to get out of bed. I have a bad S-I joint anyway and am long overdue for another steroid injection, which is the only thing that gives me relief. Had I thought through my plan, it may have occurred to me that I should not carry that extraordinarily heavy object a half a block to my house. But, hey, this is me we're talking about. Thinking things through ahead of time is not my strong suit.

Fortunately, I woke much better today. David had done a really good job of stepping up the day before, so I didn't want him to have to run the show again today what with the fact that he's still recovering from knee surgery and all. The truth is we were a pretty pitiful pair. I mused this morning about whether this was a glimpse of what life will be like when we're 80 years old and struggling to get each other out of bed!

Anyway, we ended up having a very nice, mostly lazy, Labor Day Holiday. Watched Phineas and Pherb Second Dimension on Disney this morning, which I will admit I enjoy just as much as my kids do. Did a little laundry and vacuuming then made the kids a quick lunch before one of their friends came over to play. Lauren, upon hearing that today was a holiday, expressed utter disappointment when she learned that she would not be receiving gifts or having turkey for dinner. So, I let her choose what we would have, and she requested steaks, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. She and I set out for the grocery store to obtain the ingredients, and we both forgot the corn. Nevertheless, it was still a great dinner which ended up being shared with some favorite friends.

The soundtrack of the afternoon was one I never tire of: children laughing, music sounding from the ipod speakers, games being played, banana bread baking (though I guess that's more of a smelltrack than a soundtrack), and unexpected guests joining us because they know they are always welcome and wanted.

This Labor Day was a picture of the difference between a labor of obligation and a labor of love. I hope yours was, too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A treasure

Today was yard sale day. Not for us but for 207 other families in our town and the surrounding areas. (Yes, apparently, there are 207 other families here!) Each Labor Day weekend we have Town Yard Sale Saturday, which creates chaos in our streets rivaled only by town festivals and town parades.

I personally have never had it in me to hold on to every piece of junk I've ever owned in the hope that someone will pay me a dollar (or a quarter) for it after I spend days sorting, organizing, and displaying it. However, I do set out annually to see if there are any bargains to be had. The kids grab their money and come along, finding something they must have at virtually every stop. I don't pay much attention when they carry on about how much they have "always wanted" the piece of junk they spotted fifteen seconds before. We have so much junk in our house already, so even a dime is really too much for a castaway happy meal toy. Free? Still too much.

Today, however, Joshua set his affection on a most unusual object. A dirty, dusty, non-working antique Remington typewriter. He was completely overcome with desire for this device. At only $7, cost was not really an issue, but my aforementioned aversion to adding more junk to our house was. I sometimes dream of throwing away everything we own just so I can see all of the floors and walls again. So, I told him no. "But, it's like a treasure, mom! It's so old . . . an old treasure! Please!" No.

We walked along to several other sales, and he still could not stop talking about it, so I finally told him that if it was still there when we came back (it was right near our house), I would think about it. "Mom, can we please go back now?" he pleaded, "My stomach is flipping because I'm worried it won't be there when we get back." He maintained that he'd never wanted anything so much in his life, despite my reminder that he had known of its existence for only thirty minutes. At every intersection, his face would fall and his entire body follow suit when he saw that I was turning a direction other than toward our house.

Eventually, we headed home and went to check on the typewriter as promised. It was still there, but where before I had given it only a cursory glance, this time I really looked it over. It was dusty. Dirty. A little grimy. Heavy, very heavy. I said no. I explained that it was just going to take up space and be of no use. He argued a little but mostly accepted my answer.

When we got home, though, he started to cry. I implored him to understand that it was just not a good purchase. Had he noticed that no one else had bought it either? "That's just because they don't have any imagination!" he replied, channeling a male version of Anne of Green Gables.

Finally I told him to go ask his dad what he thought about it. David, apparently having more insight into the heart and mind of an 8 year-old boy than I, told him he could buy it. Which is, of course, what I really should have said to begin with. It was, after all, seven dollars. His seven dollars. We headed back over to the sale (together because it would take both of us to carry it home), and he paid the lady his seven dollars. (By the way, I stood there for a minute afterward to talk to a friend, and someone else tried to buy the typewriter literally two minutes after we purchased it . . . whew!)

As I watched him later attacking the machine with a cleaning rag and a bucket full of soapy water - for an hour - I couldn't help but think that I had almost deprived him of this joy. For no real reason. I didn't want to have the junk sitting around. It held no value to me. I saw nothing in it. But to him - to him - it was a treasure. Who am I to say it's not?