My Porch Pumpkin

In every marriage, there are little secret or subtle tests and meters. Broad generalization here, but women communicate in subtlety, and men like a baseball bat upside the head. While I would (almost never) play games or (never) lie to my husband, is it really necessary for me to ask him to take the trash out when I have tied the bag up, and placed in next to the back door? Isn’t the message obvious? This is a fundamental difference between men and women, and not just the two that reside in our house.

So, after my husband steps over the bag of trash by the backdoor for the ump-teenth time, and I get totally annoyed and exasperated and snark at him about is he ever going to take the trash out? His response? “If you want me to take the trash out, why don’t you just ask me?” and he is serious!! A sublime and common example of the fine lines of communication between men and women.

Which brings me to my Porch Pumpkin. There really should be picture with this post, because words will not do it justice. Back in October, the Porch Pumpkin was a succulent, plump and shiny example of vegetable beauty, orange and glorious. It was so pretty that we did not carve it for Halloween, but left it on the porch to help celebrate Thanksgiving, too. So there it continued to sit, shiny and lovely, especially with the fall leaves blowing around the yard and the autumn leaf-wreath on the door. Welcoming and homey.

Then, as the weather started to get colder, and the leaves blew away, there she still sat, perched upon the porch, looking a little out of place with pine boughs decorating the door, but still mostly orange and round. It snowed, and stayed snowy and frozen for more than three weeks. The lovely Porch Pumpkin was now white, but could not really be seen beneath the blanket of snow that covered our yard, and, with Christmas right around the corner, really no one noticed.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, all the snow melted, and there she was again, in all her glory. Like all vegetables that have frozen and thawed, she was now a little mushy, and not quite orange any more. But you know, my husband didn’t seem to notice, and, like the trash bag by the back door, he just ignored her. Poor little Porch Pumpkin.

It is now the last day of January, and the weather has been relatively warm for our area this time of year. No snow all month, and even some days where it was sunny and warm enough for the kids to play outside. There she sits, my Porch Pumpkin, now wearing a coat of mossy green mold, slightly lop-sided, and oblong, no longer any orange to be seen. No longer warm and welcoming, she is now more of a “Get Lost!- Scary People Live Here” sign. Folks give her a wide berth when they approach our front door, and while I am kind of embarrassed, I usually offer no explanation.

I am waiting, you see. Waiting to see what gives first, my indignation at having a rotten, moldy vegetable as my welcome mat, or my husband’s ability to ignore it. I will probably loose this one!


Yes, that way my kid hollering yesterday in Costco, “Mommmmm! My testicles itch!” Oh yeah, that was us. People two aisles away were laughing.

Yes, that was my son yesterday, who, while admiring himself in a sweatshirt that was too big, exclaimed “Mom, I like this dress on me!”

Yes, that was my son, sharing my stall in the public bathroom, sweetly asking me if I needed another pad for when I pee in my pants barfing.

Yes, those were both of my sons, hobbling naked down the hall, to show me how when they tucked their penises between their legs, it was “All Gone!” And how totally funny they thougth that was!

And yes, that was my son last night, who in his sweet and innocent prayers asked God to please make it so Mommy wouldn’t throw up or yell anymore, and Daddy wouldn’t be mean. To be fair, he was probably thinking of me yelling at him to get out of the bathroom while I threw up yet again, and daddy being mean is telling him that six Transformers is more than enough for any boy. But it still hits home hard when your kid asks God to make you nicer.

Almost Coma Inducing

Perhaps it’s because I am a natural night-owl, but I often have a hard time falling asleep at night, no matter how exhausted I am. I can fall asleep like a narcoleptic during the day, but at night, all bets are off.

So years ago, long before I became a mama, I discovered the best way in the world to calm my busy mind, soothe my tired body, and put myself into a virtual coma. I take night showers. Not just a shower at night, I know lots of mama’s have discovered that’s the way to get the elusive bathing rites in; I’m talking about nighty-night, go to sleep, showers in the dark.

It started in our house in California, where we had this little window in our shower, and I would turn off all the lights, and stand in super hot water as I looked out at the azure sky and palm tree silhouetted in the neighbors yard. It has been a little harder up here, since there’s no window actually in either shower, and you cannot open the windows half the year for fear of freezing, but I have found a way.

After everyone is in bed, no one will need me to wipe a bottom, or to use the potty, the phone won’t ring, the house is quiet, and there is mega water in the hot water heater, I take my shower. It is not an every day thing, usually my showers are as hurried and short as the rest of us, but when I really need to calm down and relax, this is what I do. I just stand there, without worrying about using all the water, and let everything wash down the drain in the dark. The only concession I have had to make since moving to the Northwest is I now light a small candle on the vanity so I can see a little. Something about the hot water, the quiet, the darkness, and the solitude is so necessary for me.

The best part is when you get out, just put your jammies on and crawl into bed- you are almost in a coma already, so falling asleep is just lovely and easy. Sometimes I even fall asleep with my head still wrapped in a towel. We just wont talk about the morning hair I get from that.

Ich Liebe Deutschland

One of the most sublime moments of my entire life happened all alone in a laundry-mat in Nuremburg, Germany.

My brain is very busy. Sometimes, it drives me crazy, because it doesn’t know how to just be, be still, be quiet, be calm. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. Face it, we are inundated, everywhere we go, with candy for our brain- there are always things to entertain, tantalize, amuse, draw in, trap, and encircle our thoughts and mind. Things like colors, street signs, advertisements, packaging, melodies, music, words, overheard conversations, imagined conversations you want to have, musings, stewings, lyrics, and so on and so on. Very seldom are we offered the opportunity to experience silence, or absence of media vying for our attention- even in our own homes. Even in the shower, the shampoo bottles have something to say to you. Your brain is constantly engaged, whether you want it to be or not.

So a few years ago, I was in Germany for a toy convention. Rough, I know, but someone has to do it. Anyway, a colleague was with me for about five days, when she went home, I opted to stay on and vacation by myself for three weeks. Germany is incredibly safe for traveling, and I was looking forward to bouncing around wherever my whim took me, alone. Oh, yes, it was marvelous.

One morning, I realized I needed to do some laundry. Asking directions in my sehr schleckt pre-school level German to the desk clerk, I headed off towards the laundry mat. As I was sitting in the laundry mat, I felt my mind start to speed up, almost frantically and panicking, looking for something to understand, something to read, trying to read the signs, the ads on the busses, the directions on the wall, listen in on some conversation- and as it sped faster and more frantically, I had the oddest sensation of being detached from my brain. Then, all of the sudden, it just stopped. Completely stopped. Calm. Silence.

I remember sitting there, stunned, and oddly noticing the stillness, and the quiet. There was nothing for my mind to focus on… I had been alone for so many days, not spoken English at all, my German was so rudimentary that I could not distract myself with reading or even eavesdropping. And for the first time in my life, everything was still.

For the remaining weeks I was there, I was able to carry it with me quite a bit. As I traveled around, not having an American companion or anyone to distract me, I became submersed in where I was, and an odd thing happened- along with the stillness, suddenly, my German became passable, and I could communicate what I needed to, with little effort. Frankly, I think my brain was just desperate, but whatever.

It was a unique time in my life- being alone in a country where you don’t know the language well might not be everyone’s idea of a picnic, but it was nirvana for me. I wouldn’t trade that laundry mat for anything in the world. I might not be able to find much peace in my life now, but I know it exists.

Mo Mommy

Some things only can happen in the modern world. Today, I met a new friend for lunch- we both have boys close to the same age, live in the same area, and know a lot of things about one another- but up until today, we had never met each other in person. Up until very recently, we didn’t even know we lived near each other, or what our real names were!

It’s really weird meeting someone who knows so very much about you-someone who basically reads your diary each day- and it has the potential to be disastrous. Luckily, it was smashing and there were no geek-out moments at all.

Given my twisted history with friends, maybe this is not such a bad way to make them. Most of the things that I would normally hold back when meeting someone new, this person already knows about me- and she wanted to have lunch anyway. So other than the (I think) normal feelings of “what if she doesn’t like me?”, there wasn’t much to fear. We both frequent the same blogs, as well as each others’, (check out Me and my Big Mouth on the side bar) share ideological views, and are stay-at-home mama’s with little boys.

So along with all the other good things I have gotten from writing each day, like my sanity and a non-addictive outlet for my creativity, I got a nice surprise: a new friend.

Vindication is mine!

This morning at the OB, I saw my regular doctor again, instead of the Drug Nazi. My regular guy is awesome- he knows this is my third baby, knows I know my body and what’s going on, listens to me, and always delivers his own patients. He had a med student with him this morning, which doesn’t bother me in the least. All is well, and I am only dilated to 1cm, which is good, because at this point, I was at 3 cm with Eric.

You know what that means?? NO bed rest!! YAY!

So on the way out, I stopped to make my next appointment, and the receptionist asked if I would possibly be willing to see the Drug Nazi RNP. Uh, possibly not! When I asked if there was another doctor I could see, she just scheduled me again with my own OB. Cha-ching! Then, she quietly asked me what the problem was with the RNP, because evidently, I am not the only woman who refuses to see her! The head doctor wants to hear from any woman who had a bad experience… And while I am not into killing this woman’s career, it makes me feel so much better that I wasn’t just wacked out on hormones and over-reacting last month.

While I haven’t decided what to tell them ( I do want to be fair) maybe she just needs a reality check and to learn to listen to patients a little better. Trying to be charitable here… But the bottom line is: If you are mean to a bunch of hormonal pregnant women- your career just might bite it!

Pondering is Dangerous- Just Watch TV!

I am contemplating my spirituality toady. Well, I have been a lot lately, not just today. As a thinking person, who walks upright and has a large brain (uh-huh, go ahead and laugh), I feel I am required to think and contemplate things. It’s like I am obligated to do so; it’s my duty. And as a relative newcomer to having faith in anything, I still wrestle daily, sometimes hourly, with what I feel and believe.

It amazes me when people can profess to KNOW something regarding the nature or spirit of God. Oh, I know, I belong to an organized church, and it is a church that relies heavily on personal testimonies, and I think it’s the best organized church out there. But I don’t know anything. I hope. I want. I believe. But do I know? No.

Maybe this is why I am still wrestling. Maybe this is why spiritual quiet and peace eludes me. But isn’t the very nature of God impossible to know? Isn’t faith required, and faith, by it’s very definition, is belief in something that is unknowable or provable? One of my favorite scriptures keeps coming to mind:

“…Doubt not but be believing, and begin as in times of old to come unto the Lord with all your heart and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him”
(Italics are my own) Mormon 9:27
So is my unquiet spirit because of my doubt? It is simply not possible for me to set aside my own reasoning and agency and adopt another person’s truths as my own. I NEED to know for myself- I cannot drink from another’s’ cup (or borrow oil for my lamp) and call it my own. And it doesn’t matter how many tears are shed as someone bears their own witness of God, if I don’t feel it myself, it’s not real to me. What is required of me is to do exactly as the scripture states- go to the Lord and work it out for myself.
This is not a neat or tidy process. Discovery is messy. Books must be cracked, dust blown off things long forgotten, inventories must be made, some wrong paths will be taken, and some mistakes will inevitably be made. But here is what I DO have faith in: God is real. The atonement is far more vast and encompassing than we can even fathom while we live here on the earth. That the “warm fuzzies” that people associate with God and Christ are only one facet of how and what they communicate to us- and that heavy, mysterious, frightening and dangerous things are also of God. How could it be any other way? It would be like cooking only with sugar, because you like sweetness, while ignoring the salty, sour, bitter, sharp, complex richness that is achievable to a cook who knows her stuff.
This is what a mama thinks about when her two-year-old decides to take his first nap in 4 days. Sometimes I wish I liked soap operas!


Eric has decided he no longer takes naps. This is not a popular decision in our house, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. I guess I should be happy, since he is 2 1/2, and Jeffrey stopped napping at 18 months, but I had so come to depend on that block of time in the afternoon when I would be alone.

And, oh, how lovely the evenings are now! My about 5 pm, he is a rolling mess. Everything upsets his world, and his shreiks begin to border on the dog-hearing threshold, dinner is a lovely mess and am ready to duct tape his little self in bed. The good news? He doesn’t last past 6:30, and once in bed, he is out in under two seconds. And then he sleeps for twelve hours straight.

So, like all things with motherhood, it is a finely honed double-edge- bye bye afternoon respite, hello quiet time in the evenings. At least for a few more weeks, then I can just kiss sleep goodbye again. Sigh.

Looking on the Brighter Side…

When I woke up this morning, after luxuriously sleeping late courtesy of my darling husband, all the boys were playing “restaurant”, with dad fixing the play wooden food and the boys running around the table pretending to eat the food. It was wonderfully sweet to lay in bed listening to my children laugh and play with their father.

We played hookie from Church today. Not to make excuses, but DFM has been working late hours and Saturday’s- the boys saw him all of about 3 hours this week, and we needed a day at home with just us and not pressure to do anything. So we took it- and I refuse to feel bad!

This week I see my doctor again, (not the mean, horrible RNP) and I am going to get over this nausea thing. Even hearing myself whine about it is getting old- time to do something. The baby has been kicking the daylights out of me, and I love to watch my stomach bump and bounce as she does her somersaults each evening. Twelve weeks to go…

Uncle Freddy in coming for a visit tomorrow, and we are celebrating his birthday for Family Night. His birthday isn’t really until Friday, but he won’t be here then, so tomorrow it is. Jeffrey is thrilled to make cupcakes- gee, I wonder why? How many 41 year-olds get cupcakes for their birthday? It ought to be fun- plus, he requested pot-roast and pearl onions for dinner. Is there any easier dinner to make than pot roast? Crock pot city, I won’t even have to do anything. I’m not sure about the pearl onions, since I have never made those before, but how hard can it be?

I’m going to take the Wiz’s advice on maternity clothes and get myself something new- my mom has been trying to burn my maternity dresses since I had Jeffrey. Maybe, just this once, my mom is right!