Odds and Ends

Today DFM took the day off to stay home and care for me and the kids. On Monday, I got this wild hair to vacuum under the couch, I tweaked something in my back, and have been moving like I am 87 years old for the last 3 days. It’s sad, really. So he took mercy on me and stayed home with us today. It has been nice.

He did breakfast duty, changed Eric’s diapers, started the laundry and let me sleep. We went grocery shopping, and he lugged all the bags and pushed the cart full of heavy kids. I feel like a queen. We also got the kids’ birthday pictures taken while we were out. They both had on jeans and blue shirts, and were relatively clean, so we went for it. They are by far the best pictures we have ever had of them! Looks like “impromptu” is the way to go…

Have I started to work yet? Uh, nooooo. Perhaps someday soon. La la la…

Jeffrey and I are going to make chocolate cupcakes for Eric’s birthday tomorrow, and we are going to the County Fair in the morning. The Fair is always on Eric’s birthday up here, so it is a nice tradition. Fair in the morning and early afternoon, then home to celebrate with cupcakes and presents; it won’t be the crazy party we had down in California, but he won’t know the difference.

Tomorrow night DFM and I are going out on a date! Who-hooo! We will celebrate six whole years of marriage on Sunday; and anniversaries are just not a big deal anymore!

My brother (#22) has been persona-non-grata since he moved out of my mom’s on Wednesday… no one has seen or heard from him. Now, with him, that could be dangerous, given some of his habits, so I am eagerly waiting for him to call. (I know he is fine)

My mom wants to make sure I don’t tell anyone that she dropped her cell-phone in the toilet at her office the other day. It sounded really funny when I called her on it, but it appears to be working fine now, as she is using it. Think about that for a second…Now she has the pee-phone!

Slacker Mama

(Backstory: I am an artist and designer, in between being Mama and wife and keeping the homefires stoked. It’s not more than most of you do; I started the business from home last year to try and help out our financial situation, and it has been moderately successful so far. I design with textiles based on my own drawings, then create a pattern so others can make my design)

Before I left for California last month, I had six new design prototypes that I presented to my main client here in town. All six designs were received very well, and they actually placed a sizable order. I took my work down to the bay area with me, but it sat untouched in my mom’s dining room the entire time I was there. Not sure what I was thinking, but I never did get any work done. Now that I have been home a week, do you think I have touched them yet? Nope.

The slacker-gene seems to have taken hold of me. My creative feng-shway is off; my mojo is missing. I don’t know what’s up. While I am not panicking yet, as I gave myself until later in the month to deliver the order, I am not usually so lackadaisical about my work. I enjoy what I do, and writing the technical measured drawings and the pattern is actually kind of fun, and I don’t mind doing it, usually.

But, there they sit, over there, not 6 feet to my right, untouched and neglected. Will I work on them today? I hope so. But Jeffrey has school, and I don’t know if Eric will be Needy-Boy again. The barf-factor is also in play, lest I forget. Oh, they will get done. I have not missed a deadline yet, but what I am afraid of is procrastinating myself into the proverbial corner. Why, when we know we are making it harder for ourselves, do we slack? This is a lifelong issue for me: I always wait, and usually run around like a decapitated chicken, then pull myself together at the very last possible second. Is this a predisposition of artists only, or do others do it too?

Who’s Enriched?

Today, I actually feel pregnant. Bloated, achey, ucky pregnant. The barfing has started. It really was imminent; it was only wishful thinking that it might not come this time. I envy (read: jealously despise) women who feel “just beautiful” when pregnant. Can’t relate. Sorry. I love my babies, but I hate being preggers.

This morning I had a meeting at my church for Enrichment Night, or, the one night a month that the women get together and do something without our kids. It used to be called “Homemaking Night” but I guess the times caught up, and now we are to be “enriched” instead. I am on the committee. Now, all of the women on the committee I genuinely like, so this is not really a chore. However, getting other women to come to “Enrichment Night” and have good attitude about it is another story. Anyone out there who has worked Enrichment knows what I mean. (I’m not murmuring….)

Actually, I am supposed to be there right now, but after throwing-up twice this afternoon, I called the charirwoman and begged out. The idea of sitting in the cultural hall (also known as the gym) with all the different smelly food that people were bringing just triggered the ol’ gag reflex. Smells and I are not friends right now. Even what are usually good smells, like the baked goods Mormon women are known for, I just cannot handle.

As I was kneeling in the bathroom this afternoon, little Eric comes is to see what the noise is Mama is making. Sweetest little thing, in the sweetest little voice, chimes in “barfin’ mommie? barfin’ mommie?” over and over. Even in my misery, I loved how cute he was. Then later, I was on the phone with a good friend and had to abruptly hang up on her and run to the kitchen sink. Thankfully, she has been around for previous pregnancies, and understood. That’s a good friend!

Viva Martha

Have you seen Martha’s new show?? Martha is back, and I am happy about it. I don’t care what anyone says about her, I don’t care what she may or may not have done, and I don’t care that people like to bash her for being Martha. I don’t even care that some women feel inferior when watching her and need to put her down to make themselves feel better. Again, not my problem! I love Martha Stewart. I love how pretty she makes things, and how many good (sic) ideas I have gotten from her shows and magazines over the years, and I don’t care at all that my house does not (and will never) look like hers. She is inspiring, and that is the end of the argument, as far as I care.

Her new daytime show is fabulous. She is doing it live, with an audience this time, and I have to give her kudos for it. She could have gone a couple of ways after the whole prison thing, either picking up right where she left off, and pretending nothing happened or tapping into and acknowledging what she just went through. She has opted for the second, and it is hilarious. The show I saw, she came out in that big grey poncho thing she wore when she got out of prison, and then they panned the audience, and every single person had one on. She showed the David Spade parody of her in prison from Saturday Night Live, then brought David out to teach him how to cook something. He came out in Martha drag, complete with a fake dog in a poncho and a cigarette dangling from his lips… It was so funny! The segment was on microwave cooking, and how she never used a microwave until prison, and how it was actually a pretty useful thing. They made baked apples in tupperware, and used plastic knives and forks to do the prep, because that is what she had is prison. She even showed a little sardine-tin with nail-holes poked in it that is used to grate cheese; total contraband!

Now I am not an idiot- I know this might have been staged or contrived, but she was totally giving the nod to what she had been through, and I have to give her a big hand. It was funny, different, new, and yet still totally Martha. I for one, am glad she is back.

Preschool Surprise

The big surprise today when I dropped Jeffrey off for his first day of pre-school was not that he was so excited he forgot to kiss me (this is the kid who cries the entire time I am at the market if I forget to kiss him), but that Eric was crushed to be alone.

The whole 3 hours Jeffrey was gone, Eric was inconsolable. He wandered around the house looking for his big brother, calling him, and kind of whimpering. I was so sad for him, and not at all able to distract him. He is such a big, rough and tumble kid, and almost nothing shakes him, so I really had not anticipated him missing his brother. I was kind of looking at this time as an opportunity to have one-on-one with the oft-neglected second child. He wouldn’t even cheer up with a Ho-Ho. ( I keep a secret stash in the freezer for emergencies) Now, that is a sad boy! He did hold the Ho-Ho tight in his little fist until it was all melty and squishy and we picked Jeffrey up, then he scarfed it down. Instant happiness; chocolate and brother!

Jeff had a great time, and evidentally made 20 new friends today. How nice must that be? Twenty new friends in one afternoon. It takes a grown-up ten years to make 2 new friends, and a kid can have a happy day and triple the amount of good people in their world. More power to him. When his teacher brought him out to the car, he had on a cool, yellow construction paper crown with staples and crayon-coloring on it, that said “I love school!”. He gave it to his little brother to wear…

Somedays, I really, really love my children. Today was one of those days.

D & D Update

My stupid brother (that would be Dumber #26) sent me a picture of two rats having sex yesterday. WHY? what is wrong with him? The really disturbing thing is that he sent the picture to our mom, too. When I called him to ask “what the…?” he thought it was sooooo funny, and could not fathom why I did not think it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Rat penis? Errr, sorry bub, not my thing!

Dumb (#22) is moving out of my mom’s tomorrow, renting a room at my cousin Michael and his sister’s house. While I think it is great that he is moving out of mom’s, I have to wonder if they know what they are getting into. I can’t even talk about what a hair-brain this one is. Dumber and I both say that #22 is the dumbest smart person we have ever known. His IQ is off the charts, seriously, but he has about as much common sense as a lemming. I want to tell you something about him, besides that I love him very much, but every time I try and write about the asinine ideas Dumb has, I just cannot do it. I have heard that really intelligent people can have problems functioning in society because they do not think the same way as regular people, and I can only hope that is his problem.

So, between the rat-schlong and a brilliant lemming, I come out looking pretty good. I’ll bet that today, I am mom’s favorite!

Lies My Mother Told Me, Part 2

So I went to the doctor this afternoon. Always the most fun, I just love having the speculum thingy used on me, and the little plastic srcubby brush thing that they snip cells from your tender cervix (just a little pressure…Lies!), gotta love the OB. The baby looks fine, ETA is the end of April, just as I guessed. Still no barfing, but a few dry heaves today. Did I mention I love being pregnant?

(DFM just came downstairs and was hanging over my shoulder asking me questions about how fast our printer is… why? What is it with men and technicalities? How should I know how fast our printer is, or how many pages per minute it will give us? Put a kink in my grove; he ought to know not to mess with a pregnant woman by now!)

My mom always said she loved us all the same. Big lie. One of the things that was most startling after I had Jeffrey, (beside how much it hurt to go potty), was how much I loved him. And If I loved him that much, did my mother feel the same way about me? And if she did, did she feel the same way about my brothers? So when I had Eric two years later, I discovered a deep, dark mama secret: Mothers do have favorites! All those suspicions you had when you were little, about mom loving him more, or her better? You were right!

There are days when I do like one of my kids better than another. And I love them differently; this only makes sense, since they are so different, but I could never have articulated that to the non-mom me. I can only understand it now because I live it. They each need different things from me, they require different kinds of love to feel safe and secure, and my best effort as a mom is to meet their needs as they actually are. On the days I can recognize my children for who they are and respond accordingly, I am a great mom. So, no, your mom didn’t love you all the same. Love is not like a glass of kool-ade that you can line the cups up on the counter and make sure they are exactly even. Now, as my kids get older, I am sure they will accuse me of loving so-and-so more than the other. On that day, they might be right. But what they will not understand until they have their own children, is that I loved them more on the days they needed it most, too.

Back to how much it hurt to go potty. Ok, in the interests of delicacy, I will be tactful here, and just say: drink the prune juice, take the DSS the doctor gives you, and drink a lot of water. Use the squirty-bottle thing with warm water, have some glycerin on hand, and a very understanding husband. I fainted the first time I went potty after Jeffrey was born. Stone-cold out. On the floor. So be careful. The good news? The second one was much easier and hurt a lot less (Second baby, that is!)

Here’s to number three being a breeze!

Counting Chickens

Jeffrey starts school tomorrow! Horray! It is now someone else’s turn, two days a week, to try and teach him to wait his turn, to stand in line, to be patient, and that he is not the center of the universe! I will say a prayer for his teacher, I think it’s the least I can do!

We went to the pre-school open house on Saturday. How weird. It made me feel like a real parent, which I guess is really scary since I have two kids with another one on the way. Something about meeting other parents with kids in the same class, and making small-talk with them, and watching my son play and have a good time. When we went to fill out all the forms and sign away our lives, as you have to do now in school, we had to pick an emergency contact. Every other form I have filled out in my entire life, my mother is my emergency contact. Figuring that is really not practical from over 1000 miles away, we had to choose someone else. My mother-in-law? When pigs fly! I cannot even begin to explain why she is batty, oops, I meant “not an option”. We decided on a friend who lives close to the preschool and who Jeffrey really likes. But it was still weird not putting down my mom’s name.

I have my first doctor appointment for the new baby today at 2 p.m. The mother-in-law is coming over, and I have called her twice to remind her. She might be here on time. The good thing is, DFM will be home early, so she will only be with the kids for a short while, an hour at the most. She drives me nuts, but she sits and reads to this kids the whole time she is here, and they enjoy her. I have had to be grown-up about the whole situation and put aside my feelings in favor of the “she is DFM’s mother, and my children’s grandmother” and all that. I usually manage to bite my tongue in time.

I keep dreaming that there is more than one baby in there, and I am alternately terrified and stunned at the idea. Twins do not run in our family, so I know the odds are less than none, but two babies/one pregnancy? Sounds good to me. I haven’t started barfing yet (knock-on-wood) so I am wondering if this baby might be the unlikely girl. We haven’t had a girl born in our family in eighteen years. Really. All boys. I don’t even know what I would do with a girl. She would wear a lot of blue clothes, I guess!

But let’s dont count our chicken before it hatches. Odds on favorite, it’s a boy…

Horrible Anniversaries

Four years ago today, I was sitting on the couch in my living room in the pre-dawn light, nursing 13-day-old Jeffrey. The phone rang, and it was DFM calling from work, telling me to turn on the TV. There I sat, a brand-new mom with a tiny new baby, watching the world fall to rubble across the country. Never in my life have I been so frightened as I was that morning.

DFM soon came home from work, and we went over to my mom’s house to meet up with the rest of the family. We spent the day hovered together, watching the awful and unbelievable unfold on TV. At the time, we lived in the Bay Area, not too far from Moffet Naval Air Base, and in the center of Silicon Valley; I felt like a sitting duck with a target on my back. The local news kept talking about crop-duster planes that might spray poison on us, contaminated water supplies, and nuclear possibilities. Along with the rest of the Nation, none of us slept much that night.

It was so strange to feel fear as an American on American soil. Like most of us, I think, up until then I was pretty oblivious to danger and fear; danger and fear that much of the world lives with on a regular basis. How naive and innocent we were.

What have we taken away from that day, four years ago, now? While I cannot speak for us as a country, I can speak for myself as an individual. It is still inconceivable that there are people in the world who would kill my children just because they are American. Maybe I am still naive, but I hope I never understand that one. While I was once a flag-burning liberal (never actually burnt a flag) I am now closer to a flag-waving conservative, and that change happened in an instant. After the attacks, I immediately found myself profoundly grateful that Al Gore had not won the election, and that surprised me. In the elections of 2000, I voted for neither main candidate, and I was shocked and surprised at how strongly I felt relieved that we had a conservative, military-supporting president. We don’t need to get into the politics of what has happened since, but on that day, I was glad.

Since that day, we have moved from the Bay Area, and I no longer feel like such a target. Oh, I am not foolish, I realize that as an American no one is immune, but at least we don’t live in a major economic, cultural and population center anymore. We have also shifted our focus as a family to things we feel matter more; we no longer are striving after new cars and a bigger house or more powerful career. Family is now the center of our lives, both here and in California. We spend more energy on faith and nourishing our spirits, and we contribute to charities and our church. DFM has arranged his hours at work so that he is home each afternoon by 3:30, so we always have the afternoons together. We are fortunate, and have many blessing for which to be grateful; and we do not forget it.

Our church suggests that each family, in order to be more self-sufficient, have a years’ supply of food and necessities for living stored in their home. Well, we fall far short of a years’ supply, but I bet we have enough for a couple of months. We began this after 9/11, in an effort to be able to take care of ourselves (and our neighbors, should the need arise) better in the event of another attack. And, after watching what Katrina has done to the south, I am even more convinced that this is a really good idea.

Let’s not ever forget the lives that were lost on that day, four years ago. And, lets do everything we can, today, to be grateful for what we have.

Lies My Mother Told Me, Part 1

(Before everyone freaks out who knows my mother, this post is not what y’all are thinking. I am not going to make public the lies my mother has gifted me with over the years, but rather the collective lies that we discover as we become mothers. Maybe I will open that other Pandoras box on another day, but probably not, since I value the peace I have in my life.)

I have terrible pregnancies. I have big, healthy babies, but the pregnancies? Oh, good Lord help me. I start throwing up around 7 weeks along, and I continue to do so until I am done pushing and the baby is on my tummy instead of in it. Yes, really, that much. (I will grace over the fact that I am due to begin the barf-o-rama any day now… ) So, morning sickness? Big lie. It is not in the morning, it does not end at 3 months, and it cannot be controlled with saltine crackers, ginger tea, licorice, lollypops, gum, or anything else made my man. Big lie.

Birth plans. Ok, so you read all the books, and you have very definite ideas of the kind of birth you want. You carefully write it up, have your OB sign off on it (how she does this without laughing is a mystery to me!) and figure you have all your bases covered. You will now have the birth you dream of. HA! Good luck sister. All I can say is when labor really hits, you are not the woman you once were. Something you quickly learn when you are becoming a mother, and the sooner you learn this the better: YOU are not in charge anymore. The earlier you get this, the better off you will be. When you have been in labor for 18…24..30 hours, you no longer care about the “gentle lighting…warm water bath…soft voices and pulsing cord” and if your husband counts to ten another time, you are going to rip his ears off and stuff them in his mouth, just get the baby OUT! Oh, and seriously, epidurals are gifts from God.

After the birth: So now you have just been through the most traumatic thing your body has ever experienced. You just pushed a human being out a very small opening, after hours of hard work, and you are literally torn and exhausted. Any other time in life, after such a difficult thing, you would be coddled and tenderly cared for, you would be the center of attention. But, it’s not about you anymore. You are now second banana, and you exist to care for, tend and feed the new baby. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t slept in 48 hours and you just went through major body trauma. It doesn’t matter that you have stitches up you backside or that you haven’t kept anything in you stomach for 39 weeks and are starving. They also have this method of torturing new mothers, where the nurse comes in every few hours, usually after you have just fallen asleep, and she rubs and kneads your distended and tender belly. Hard. And you cramp and it hurts like a s.o.b., but she smiles while she does it. Fun.

Ah, now for breastfeeding. The books make it sound like the most natural and foolproof method for feeding you baby. You know it is the perfect food, and it is tailor-made for your child, and you want very much for the baby to have it. Just pop out your boob and let the baby go to town, right? Well, maybe for 1 or 2% of mothers that actually works, and I envy those of you who have had an easy B.F. experience, but the rest of us, get ready for the most frustrating and painful experience you have ever had. Yes, possibley even worse than labor, because their was help for that. If you have perfect nipples and your baby has a perfect mouth, you may be lucky, and after the abdominal cramping stops, you may enjoy breastfeeding. (when you nurse your baby, it triggers your uterus to contract; think of the worst cramps you have ever had, then double them- every time you nurse for the fist two weeks or so) If you have flat nipples, a baby with a short tongue, or heaven help you, both, forget it. I saw three lactation nurses with my first, two with my second, and ended up pumping everything my boys ate for 6 months. Yes, they got my milk, but only by heroic means. I deserve a medal, and so does any woman who overcomes the difficulties of breastfeeding!

Coming soon, part 2, including postpartum care and learning that your mother really did have favorites!