30 Minute Meals, My @#%&

We watch the Food Network. A lot. In fact, Jeffrey’s favorite show is “Unwrapped” and he comes running when he hears the music. I think it has something to do with all the machines they show in action. But I have a bone to pick with most shows- actually with the hosts of the shows.

Have you ever noticed how often one of them will say, as they are making some fantastic looking dish, that “the kids will love this!” and I look around and wonder “what?” whose kids? Not mine that’s for sure, unless it is chicken fingers, peanut butter toast or french fries, forget it! Homemade ketchup? Are you kidding? Mayonnaise? Unless they say Heinz or Best Foods, no one my house, besides me, will eat it. Parsley and rosemary may taste great to grown ups, but my kids will use tweezers to methodically pick every speck of suspicious green before something enters their mouths. And having a fantastic meal really ready in 30 minutes? Oh puh-leeeze!

So I have a proposal for Rachel Ray, or any other chef at the Food Network. I want a real, honest to goodness “30 minute meals” type show. I want a real mom in the kitchen, with no one helping with prep or clean up. There should be kids all over the place, playing around her feet (nothing too dangerous, but real reality) as she tries to cook a fabulous meal. I want a clock on the wall, and if the baby falls and starts bawling, and the toddler takes off his diapers himself, the cameras can’t cut or edit anything. The phone should ring, her husband should call and be late, the UPS man might show up with a big box, or maybe the dog will eat the food off the counter while she is tending the baby. When things burn because she is distracted, oh well. And when, sweat drenched and covered in spit-up, with a baby on her hip, she finally slams the meal down on the table and the kids all turn their noses up, well then we have a show, folks! And if she doesn’t get the meal done in 30 minutes? Oh well, times up, shows over. See you tomorrow!

That, my friends, is a show I would watch. That is reality TV!

Bennedryl, Anyone?

We played musical beds last night in our home. Various kids awake with various maladies at various times, all night long, a grumpy husband who had to be up before the crack of dawn, and a congested and nauseated mama, trying to smooth everyone’s way. Ah, the joys of sleep-deprivation!

Yesterday afternoon, we got two BIG boxes from my mom and step-dad, delivered by the UPS guy- Jeffreys favorite person this time of year. We went from ‘zero presents under the tree’ to ‘no room for any more’ in the time it takes two boys to tear open a box.

At about 3 a.m., I took a bennedryl, and ended up zonked out in the recliner in the living room. Really zonked out. The first fuzzy sounds came to me, and I realized that the boys were up, in the living room with me, the tree was on, the tv was on, and they were making a lot of noise. I feebly cracked an eyelid, and checked the time- 7:20. (That’s sleeping-in for them, and I have no idea how long they had been up)

It was then I realized what they were doing. There was not one present under the tree anymore. Not one. Mercifully, they had not actually started to open them yet, but all the gifts were sorted into piles for each person- which amazed me after I was done yelling. (The tags were all in my mom’s cursive writing, but somehow, Jeffrey was able to read everyone’s name correctly- don’t underestimate a boy and his desire to get to the loot!) What in the world is going on here?? They innocently looked at me and said that it was Christmas now, and time to open the presents, at which Jeffrey proudly showed me which pile was mine. Eric then evidently thought running and knocking the piles over was a good idea, and I had suddenly to run to the bathroom to be sick. I give up.

I called my mom and told her what her grandsons were doing, and I wish she could see our living room right now. She was already at Kohl’s, shopping, at not-quite 7:30. No one can ever accuse my mother of not doing her part to fight terrorism- those terrorists are never going to win, with all the shopping she does!

My living room is chaos, but only one present got torn open, and the rest are stuffed back under the tree, hodge-podge and higgledy-piggledy. Who cares? They are just going to do it again. And, eventually, they will be right, it will be Christmas, and it will be time to tear into them all. Why fuss about it? I think I will go write instead!

The Trouble with Friends (At Least for Me)

In thinking about my daughter, I have been contemplating why I am so frightened of having what I am sure will be a lovely and delightful, if most likely strong-willed, little girl. My life experiences with women, with very few exceptions, have not been very good. And it started early.

When I was in fourth grade (nine years old?) the group of five girlfriends that I had had since 2nd grade, turned on me. One day at lunch, they gathered around me out in the far reaches of the playground, and collectively told me that they no longer wanted to be my friend, and that I was no longer allowed to play with them, ever. Then they ran away from me. The next several months were miserable for me, as I became incredibly solitary and quiet. The sight of people you thought were friends running away from you is not something I would wish on any child.

The next time it happened, I was in seventh grade (did anyone have a good experience in the purgatory called junior high?) and was part of a very popular clique (guess I didn’t learn in 4th grade). One day, all the girls in my social group collectively turned my picture around in their lockers, and pretended that I didn’t exist. Especially cruel, they did not take the picture down, but turned my face over, and left me there as a reminder of me being invisible. Not one person would even look at me, they walked by me, looked the other way, or better yet, right through me. Another year of misery and loneliness and a lot of crying. The lesson was better learned this time, and I became very careful about people, extremely mistrustful, and tried very hard not to offend anyone, about anything.

You might think these were just girlhood traumas, but I carry them deep with me. Friendships have been something I don’t really trust because of these two incidences, and thus have been neurotically careful about opening up to people, always afraid that there was something inherently wrong with me, that once new friends saw, they would leave too. This has carried over into my adult life, and I have very few, but very dear, close friends. So when it happened again, I thought I was going to die.

The year DFM and I got married, I worked for a company in Palo Alto, California, that I had been involved with from start-up. As the VP, I was able to travel to Europe on fabulous business trips, and oversaw the creative division of the company. It was a marvelous job that I loved, and the company was almost entirely run by women. It was there that I found a friend the likes of which I had never had. This was someone that was everything I ever wanted in a friend, and who, over the period of three years, I can to trust very deeply and implicitly. She was divorced and had two kids, but we had a lot in common aside from that- I really loved her. She was the matron-of-honor at my wedding, standing beside DFM and I as we took our vows. About three weeks after DFM and I returned from our honeymoon, I got a letter from her, telling me, in no uncertain terms, that she could not have me in her life anymore. No explanation, no way for me to ask why or what happened, just cut-off. Gone.

Looking back, there might have been things for me to notice had I not been so happy about finally marrying DFM, but they were subtle and I didn’t see it coming. The pain and sadness from this was astounding, and now, seven years later, it still is a tender and sore place inside. From this person, I did learn a lot about how to be a friend, and aside from the bizarre and astoundingly hurtful ending, I do have good memories of her.

So, ya think I’ve got some trust issues? Other than my husband, (the only person I completely trust), I have two friends. Both of them have been in my life, vis-a-vis family connections, since our youth. One lives in Colorado, and the other in California. The only other people I am free and open with are my family. Notice anything? Since they are family, they are tied to me with blood, and they cannot leave me, even if they want to.

So what will I do to help my daughter when some crappy “friend” crushed her little heart? I am not sure I have the self-control to be mature, and I know my heart will wither and die a little when it happens. The desire to crush the little snots will be strong! Boys don’t pull that kind of garbage- at least no boy I ever knew.

This is one of the things I fear for my daughter.

Brotherly Love

My ultrasound was this morning. Most of my family wants this baby to be a girl, and Jeffrey is adamant he is having a sister from the moment I told him I was pregnant. This morning I sat down with him and carefully tried to explain that this baby might be another brother, and if it is, we will love him very much, to which he replied that he would only love a sister, and I could love a brother. And I know that my mom, although she would never admit it, felt the same way. It makes me oddly protective of the baby, because the only thing I truly care about is that it is healthy and whole.

To be really clear, there has not been a girl born in our family, including cousins and grandchildren, in almost 18 years. The odds are so stacked against this being a girl, it is unreal.

Everthing looks just fine, developementally. And, as carefully as I can put it, it does not appear that this baby has a penis. When the tech said that, I told her to listen very carefully, and told her about my family, then asked her to please re-check. Again, she said it did not appear that there was a penis anywhere on the baby. I made her take four different shots from four different angles, and I still am not convinced. Four crotch-shots are sitting here on my desk of my darling little baby, and I am still doubting it. Maybe when the baby comes out, and I can see for myself…

Personally, I am freaked out. I know boys, I have boys figured out, and I love having boys. A girl? What will I do with a girl? If it is in fact a girl. The whole mother/daughter thing kinda terrifies me. I don’t even like pink- actually, I despise pink- what kind of mother will I be to a girl?? Egad! What am I going to do?? – what do you do with girls? My dad said that she better be one tough cookie- which I think I could deal with, but what if she is a poofy-purple-maribou-girly-girl? Then there are all the things that go with girls- hormones, clothes, emotions, proms, boyfriends, weddings… I’m just not good at that stuff, and I don’t want to mess her up! Oh, man, I need to go barf.

Someone help me~! Advice, anyone?

Blather of Me

Last night I finished Pres. Hinkley’s challenge, and for the first time actually read the BoM all the way through. It was tough making it through all the “war” chapters, and they left me feeling worn out and exhausted and sad, but I guess they probably should. I have a deep, new love and appreciation for Moroni and his predecessors did, and I think I have a new favorite scripture (Mormon 9:27), which gives me definite jumping-off point for what I need to do next.

Insomnia has been plaguing me, which is why I actually finished a book. It seems to me that the pregnancy insomnia didn’t start quite this early with the other babies, but what can you do? I just hate seeing the sun come up from the night-side of things; getting up early to enjoy it is one thing, but still being awake from the night before is entirely another thing. My eyes are bleary and red, and Jeffrey asked me why he didn’t have red squiggley lines in his eyes. as if they are normal. Oh, sweet child, sometimes you are soo dear.

Tomorrow is my ultra-sound. I’ll let you all know what they see- hopefully a healthy baby. As I sit writing into what feels like the abyss, I wonder if anyone is reading it anymore. Blah blah blah… Obviously I am too tired to be coherent. Perhaps tomorrow…

The Kind of Mother I Am

While I dearly love both my little angels, and the little angel that is still making me barf everyday, there are some days when I sincerely question my ability to be a good mother. It’s really weird how different people use different things to measure the kind of mother you are. Over at MMW, there is a fun post about ‘what kind of mother ARE you’, and evidently, one mom thinks that if you don’t take your kids sledding, you aren’t worth your salt.

So, that brings me to sledding with kids. There are many things about mothering that I love, and there are many things that I am challenged by. The faces of my children sleeping, the sweet little sighs of a newborn, the feel of chubby arms around your neck, rollie-polie babies in the bathtub, little voices calling out “mama”, and so many other things fall under the heading of LOVE IT. The “Not so Much” column has things like poopy diapers at dinner time, barf down my back at the grocery store, years’ long sleep deprivation, stitches in places that should never see a needle, and sledding with little kids. Yes, that’s in the right column, you read me right, sledding with kids.

It is supposed to be fun. The Norman Rockwell painting make it look fun, the Currier & Ives paintings make it look fun- Notice a trend? They are paintings- I don’t think there are any actual, unstaged photographs of a family with small kids having fun while sledding. Why? Well, let me tell you.

Snow is very pretty. I acutally love living somewhere where it snows; after a lifetime of living in California, it is refreshing to actually have it look like Christmas at Christmas. The problem is not with the snow- it is with what taking little kids out in it entails. Snow is cold. So kids need lots of layers- things like thermals under a snowsuit, parkas, warm socks, boots, mittens, scarves, hats and for Jeffrey, he must have his ear-muffs. You get all this on one of them, and then you start on the next one- and there has not been yet invented snowboots that a kid can get on themselves. When they are bundled up appropriately, you get yourself ready. Almost there- you can taste the snow, you are so excited.

Then, the first one has to pee.

You rush to the bathroom, peeling off layer as you go, trying to unbuckle bib’s and get the pants down in time, but alas, the yellow wave has crested. Now, you have to strip said child down, find new, dry clothes, and start the whole process over. You, meanwhile, are sweating buckets because you are in your parka and scarf, and are running frantically around a heated house. The other kids are waiting by the door, and if you take much longer getting the pee-er ready, the next one will have to pee, too. And, if you are me, you will have to stop and barf sometime during this little charade, at which time you might pee yourself, too. Sound like fun yet?

SO, you finally make it outside. The temperature for the day is about 20 degrees, but with the windchill factored in, you are looking at about 8 degrees. The snow is deeper than the kids imagined, and immediately the littlest one looses a boot when he takes a step, and begins to scream because his foot is in cold snow. You haven’t even gotten the sleds out of the shed yet. Fix the boot, get the sleds, and begin the climb up the hill. Put the kids on the saucer and let ‘er rip- hooray, they are sledding! At the bottom, the disk tips and they faceplant in the snowpile. The bigger kids think this is fun, but the little ones are crying again, and you have to slide down and pick them up and dry the tears. Two more times down the hill, and they start to complain about being cold and wet. You have been outside for about 15 minutes, and now it is time to go back inside.

When you get inside, the lovely, white powdery snow begins to melt, and you now have colossal puddles in your kitchen, along with a gargantuan pile of very wet, heavy clothes and boots. There is water everywhere, and you cannot attend to everyone at once, so someone is crying because they are cold, and the other one can’t find his pants, and then he stepped in melty snow with his new dry socks, and so on and so on…

The bottom line? An hour of chaos for 15 minutes of fun? There is nothing you can try and sell me that will convince me that’s a good bargain. If my kids are going sledding, ever again, it will be with their dad. I will stay home and play Betty Crocker, having hot chocolate and brownies ready for them when they get back. If that makes me a bad mother, bring it on! That’s the kind of mother I AM!

Your Northwest Moment of the Day

Here is what our yard looks like right now…but when the high for the day is only 17 degrees, it’s not much fun to play outside. Oh, and for the life of me, I can’t find Eric any snowboots. After trying three different local stores, I am ready to just call LL Bean, but just can’t bring myself to shell out $30 on boots that won’t fit him for more than a few months. So in this picture, he has plastic bags over his socks inside his sneakers- how’s that for classy, huh? I’m such a good mom!

Anyone out there experienced in dealing with a pathologically lying four-year-old? There must be some great psychology behind it, but suddenly, Jeffrey is lying his pant off, about anything and everything. Mostly I’m so taken aback that I haven’t figured out a good and effective way to deal with it. He has had quite a few time-outs, but I know that isn’t getting the message through his thick little noggin. How do I infuse him with the idea that lying is morally a problem, not a convenient way out of something you don’t want to do? And does a four-year-old have the capacity to get morality, anyway? Call me stymied.

Last night, after the children were all nestled and snug in their beds, the anti-Santa came whizzing through the house. It was long overdue, and after it was over, there were two giant leaf-bag size trash bags full of toys that the kids will never see again, and most likely won’t even notice are gone. The play room looks awesome- it’s neat and organized, and they are in there right now exclaiming over all the things they have- and haven’t seen in forever because of the colossal mess that used to reign.

After years of juggling toys, I have changed my philosophy about what kids need. (I used to work in the toy industry, and had a ton of ideas and a stash of toys in the closet long before I had kids) No matter how much stuff you have, there are only a few things that they really need- things that get 90% of all the play time. They are: Legos, old-fashioned blocks, couch cushions and a few blankets, some more Legos, matchbox cars, a cart or stroller or some other wheeled vehicle, crayons and paper, and a backyard (or park nearby) with a swing. If you have those things, you have pretty happy kids, and all the volumes of other stuff for them is just flotsam and jetsam you’ll be constantly cursing and picking up.

Did you know that icicles are real things? When we first moved to the northwest 3 1/2 years ago, I was amazed during my first winter that people actually had read icicles hanging from their houses- and was so disappointed that we didn’t have any. I know, I know, the California blonde in me was showing, but I had never seen them- I thought they were like fairies or something else mythical. What can I say? Now, I know that icicles are not so cool, other than looking. If you’ve got icicles, you’ve got insulation problems in your roof, and your eaves are going to pay the price when all that sparkley, pretty ice melts. That’s your northwest moment of the day!

Holly, Jolly Ha Ha Ha!

It dawned on me today that there are only 17 days left until Christmas. For some reason, I had this deluded idea that I had tons of time. Not only have I not even made a list of people to send cards to, I have not bought one single gift yet. Not one. While I am not one of those people who boasts of being done shopping in August (what is that about?), I am usually in better shape than this.

Granted, there have been other things occupying my mind and time (no more contractions today; thanks for all the prayers), but I am not sure I can even catch up this year. You know what? I don’t really care! Ha HA! What a great feeling that is to discover! This year, since I am so totally behind, I am thinking of throwing the whole boatload to the ducks. Maybe I won’t decorate the mantle, maybe I won’t get wrapped and pretty and all ‘Martha Stewarty’ packages off to the family. Maybe no one will get hand knit socks (don’t everyone cry at once). It feels really good to not care! How ’bout them apples?

The tree is up. The manger is on top of the piano, and that’s about it. Perhaps that’s enough. How cool is that idea? I called DFM at work today and suggested this year, we should skip gifts for each other. Really, what do we need? We need big things, like to be out of debt, and to pay off the work we just had done on the house, and not giving useless presents will help us get to those bigger goals quicker. We are getting the kids one nice family gift, and one thing for each of them. Santa will fill their stockings, and grandma is sure to send more than one box, but for us, this year is looking like it will be pared down, and it is actually a releif.

There will be more time to focus on each other, on reading stories by the fire, playing games, making cookies and teaching my children what Christmas really is. Maybe, I won’t be all stressed out and feel like I let someone, somewhere down. This year, I’m letting everyone down! I’m so happy!

Reality Check

Today in Costco, pushing the SUV sized, cart plus the kids, I had to stop and catch my breath when a cramp seized me. Not a good cramp, either. Are there good cramps? No, the kind that is low and deep, and if I were farther along, I would notice, and figure that labor was beginning. It scared me. The first one I was startled by, and thought it was weird, then another came. I stood holding my belly until it went away, then made the kids get out of the cart and we headed for the car.

Even though I knew this was probably not a good thing, I have done this before and could tell it wasn’t the real thing. But it’s not a good sign, either. Jeffrey came early, and with Eric, I was dilated to 3 cm at 30 weeks, and had to be on bedrest until his lungs tested ok to breathe air, at 36 weeks. He was born at 37 weeks, and had trouble with his suck and with coordinating eating. Having a real preemie is something I don’t fantasize about.

The doctor called me back as soon as I got home, and told me to go lay down, drink some water, and take some tylenol. Oh, and not to pick up my kids or anything else. The idea of bedrest makes me feel insane, but having a teeny, not-quite-ready-to-be-here baby really frightens me.

(Baby? This is your mama. I know I complain a lot about being pregnant, but I really want you to stay put for a few more months, ok? I will gladly barf every day until you finish baking in there and are ready to join the world on your own. Just stay put, ok? I love you. ~Mama.)

I’m a Lumberjack, Baby

It makes me crazy when people start talking about The Gays. Especially at church. Especially at church. When someone pops up with some comment about something, and that phrase is somewhere in their statement- it makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

This particular point was actually a personal stumbling block for me even joining any church. Now, I have only been a member of the Church for just over three years; I am no scriptorian, my doctrine comprehension is tempered with small children brain, and my quotes are not quotes at all but paraphrasing. Please, correct me if I am wrong.

I know what the scripture say about homosexuality. But the scriptures are also full of other things that we don’t take literally or that we temper with agency and compassion. Does anyone beat their children with rods anymore? We may want to sometimes, but if you actually do it, you really need a babysitter and a date night. Do we really hack off the hands of people who take things? Do we stone adulterers? And the really big thing, I think I understand correctly, didn’t the mission of Christ fulfill Mosiac law and create the new and everlasting covenant? And if so, doesn’t all the other old testament stuff fall away?

So, what Jesus taught was (again, paraphrasing): that we are to love God and love one another, in that order. That we are not to look for the mote in another’s eye, while ignoring the log in our own; that whosoever has not sinned can cast the first stone (any takers?) and that we should not judge lest we be judged as we mete out (how ’bout that one, eh?). That means, as I understand it, since none of us have achieved Translation or perfection as the Christ, that we are all sinners, and we best not be hanging out in church labeling and condemning anyone else.

Finally, last Sunday, a very enlightened and spiritually gifted seminary teacher was at the helm in Sunday school- a man who lives the Gospel and has the love of Christ in his heart like no one I have ever personally known. Some nincompoop in class (actually, two nincompoops) raised their hands and offered comments with The Gays in their statement. Immediately, the hackles on my neck went up, and I wanted to bolt. (Just for a second imagine someone making a comment about The Fatties, or The Stupids, or the Vapid Blondes…ugh) While standing in the front of the chapel, this wonderful teacher listened patiently to these people, then quietly and simply and doctrinally put them in their place.

What he said was this: (again, paraphrasing) “Who here isn’t a sinner? (Anyone?) Yes, we understand homosexuality to be a sin, and all sexual sins are serious. All. Do we have the objectivity or insight into the Lords plan for another human being? No, we do not. It is not for us so say that another’s sins are less or worse than our own. The Lord has granted each and every one of us our own agency and the ability to make our own choices in life- maybe some folks were born with tendencies in one way or another- it’s possible. In no way does that possibility suggest the Lord is fallible- only that we are each given our own challenges and choices to make. It is not for me to say. It is my job to look at each individual and love them, to live with compassion and follow the sublime example set by the Savior.”

I wanted to stand up and cheer, to shout out with thanks and joy. Finally, from the front of the chapel, I heard words that echoed what I believe and feel Jesus would teach. After the class, I went up and tearfully thanked the teacher. (I am hoping he is still teaching seminary when my kids are taking it!)

My heart is eased and I feel so much better finally hearing what I know must be correct, from someone I hold in esteem. I have two members of my family, and two dear, dear friends who are closer than family, who are gay. The love I feel for these people is tremendous, and while my children are too young for seriously discussing sexuality, when the day comes, what I will teach them will be from the heart of Christ, about love and compassion. The general lack of tollerance and bigotry among many people who profess being of faith has always bothered me, and has never felt right. There is no room in my life for hate or for discrimination or for judgment.

I guess I better repent for my feelings about the Nincompoops. Oh well, off to work on the log in my own eye.