Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mutiny

My flesh has launched a revolt. Against me. I haven't been well for a month. And I assume it is my body's angry response to my lack of rest. You might be thinking that it's only natural for sickness to follow unrest. And maybe it is. But I think It's just being selfish.

If I could, I would step outside myself and yell, "Buck up, Body! There is lots to do. And we can either do it sick, or we can do it healthy. But either way, we wake up at 6:00, and we go to bed at 11:00. And either way, there is work to go to, there are meetings to attend, and there are children to play with. So what do you choose? Are you going to help me out? Are we going to be on the same team?"

Unfortunately, I think my disciplinary tactics are sort of ineffective and my body [like Grace] probably wouldn't listen to me.

But it should. Because I am sick of sickness. A constant cold with an incessant cough and intermittent voice loss were punishment enough. But now, well, Ms. Corporeal Mass over here is just getting mean.

My lymph nodes on either side of my jaw are the size of marbles. And I have a fever. And [I know it sounds really lame but] really achey muscles. And apparently all of these symptoms are attributable to the crusty, yellow, dime-sized object on my lip [a revolting thing you may know as a cold sore]. It is my first cold sore. And I'm told it won't be my last. And I am ticked.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Year Has Gone By...

... and I still have last year's unmailed Christmas postcards sitting on my desk. The top on the pile is addressed to the Cunninghams and includes a postscript urging Sarah to start a blog. She still hasn't. Probably because she never got my postcard.

She wasn't the only one. Most of them are addressed. But I am really challenged by putting on stamps. And walking out to the mailbox. And so for those of you who are sitting here in my unsent pile, for your belated benefit, I present last year's postcard.

I'm dumbfounded by the difference that a year makes. Serious changes, people.

Although I suppose the important things have stayed the same. Like my tendency toward lateness, for example. Or not-at-allness. Which is my cue to announce that Christmas postcards are not-at-all this year. This probably does not matter to most of you since cards from us were not-at-all last year too.

My apologies. I am not Superwoman like the rest of you. Okay, let's be honest. You can't qualify for Superwomanhood if you can't even remember to buy stamps. Or make a list of addresses. Or take a family photo during the full course of one year. 

And put it that way, I sound pretty lame. Bummer.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meet Superwoman.

It's okay to feel intimidated.

I do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maybe Next Time

It's just barely getting chilly. Texas winter is a beautiful thing, my friends.

One night we were headed out to feed the ducks at one of the neighborhood ponds. So I retreived our coats from the attic. I felt possessed for some reason to take pictures.

That never turns out well.

Here are the results of this year's second posed photo shoot:

"Say cheese!"

Claire is waiting for the chunk of cheddar she believes must be coming from my pocket.

"Claire, cheese means smile, Claire. You're not smiling, Claire! You need to smile!"

"Here, Claire, like this. Smile like this, Claire. See?"

"Okay, Mom. You can take the picture now. CHEESE!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tired. Again. Always.

So I've been joking about sleep disorders and me and Grace having them.

Well guess what. We really do.

At least, according to the world's source of all knowledge, we do.

SYMPTOMS: Restless Legs Syndrome: Check. Sleepwalking: Check. Sleeptalking: Check. Excessive tiredness [does falling asleep during a twenty minute drive home from work count? I'm gonna say yes.]: Check. RMBD: Check. Falling asleep at inappropriate times: Check. [okay, so that last one is borderline. We're not narcoleptic.]

The good news is that Grace is catching on to her tendency to fall asleep in weird places. She has begun pre-empting the sleepy madness. The other night she groggily dragged herself from the dinner table, sleepily pulled on her pajamas, and collapsed onto her bed.

Beats waking up like this:

Antsy

Last week, a friend of mine spoke about her newish, just-under-a-year-old daughter. She remarked how much she was so enjoying her girl--this girl who sits, quiet, self-entertained. So different from her oldest, a boy, who is rowdy, loud, and doesn't sit still.

"Girls are so delightfully quiet and well-behaved," she sighed.

Seriously?

Then where did my girls come from??

My mom likes to say, "Those girls have ants in their pants." And I can't think of a better way to say it. My daughters fidget, climb and squirm. All the time.

Grace likes to run the length of the bench during sacrament meeting begging to go to nursery. If we manage to snag her onto a seat or in our laps, she pushes against the bench in front of us. Or stands on my lap, grabbing my neck. Or hangs off the bench, blood rushing to her head.

I envy mothers whose children sit on the cushioned bench for an hour each week, drawing, or reading, or--is it even possible?--listening.

You should have seen us a month ago--on the fourth row in the chapel on the Sunday that Elder Nelson came to our stake. I don't remember anything he said. I spent part of the meeting trying to keep my children still and quiet, and the other part leaving in shame-faced, cowering embarrassment.

Might have been the worst Sunday of my life.

And, I apparently, am alone here. Since all other girls are "delightfully quiet."

Would one of you mind explaining to me what I am doing wrong?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Taking it Back

I'm sure you've been sitting on the edge of your seat for the last few days to see how our experiment has been going. Okay, so you don't really care. I'm gonna tell you anyway.

We've been for a walk around the pond where the ducks came to eat Claire's coat and Grace's fingers. 

Brad brought Claire to lunch at work where we watched her walk and trip and try to run.

We hung out on the porch teaching Grace to jump rope. We didn't have a rope, so we used one of Grandma's extension cords. [Don't tell.] And we discovered that our man, Daddy/Brad, is pretty good at jumping tricks. 

And today we met at a park on my way home from work.





It's going well.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

Grace has always had some trouble saying her full name. So far, she hasn't been able to pull it off quite right. It comes out something like "Grace Uhn-a-ville." I guess it's really not a big deal. But whenever she says it, people look at me like, "I didn't quite catch that...." So, we've been working on it. 

Friday night, a few neighbors stopped by trick-or-treating. We started talking. And after fifteen minutes of chatting, I finally asked their four-year-old what her name was. I couldn't decipher anything. Well, except for what I assumed was an attempt at her last name. It sounded a lot more like an obscenity. So much so that I was afraid to ask her to repeat it. Her parents translated: "Trinity Funk."

I don't care anymore. "Uhn-a-ville" is no big deal.

Our Halloween this year was a thrown together, last minute affair. It's not my favorite holiday. In fact, I would say I get more excited about Lamb Day in Fountain Green Utah. 

Like, way more excited. 

So, without any costume planning, I slid Grace into one of Karlee's old ballet tutus, and added wings from another of her costumes. She became Tinkerbell. We only went to the ward's trunk-or-treat on Wednesday (we didn't do any candy-hunting on actual Halloween), and so I wasn't going to dress Claire up at all. My Mom, though, (ultimate hater of the goulish holiday) surprisingly found this unjust, and felt the necessity to give Claire pigtails and freckles as Pippy-Longstocking.

I think she ends up looking more like a cowgirl.

Judge for yourself.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carpe Diem

I've always been a saver. Conservative in pretty much every way. I'm a plan ahead, take no risk kind of person to the extreme.

I remember when Brad used to come home from work and say, "Let's go out to eat." 

I would respond, "We don't have the money." 

And he would contest, "Are we ever going to have the money? Are we ever going to go out?" 

I didn't get it.

I do now.

I'm working at a job, which is fine; it's a job. I like my coworkers, I like the company, it pays the bills, it grants us benefits. But I come home, spend--at most--three precious hours with my children, maybe one more with Brad, and fall asleep. Anywhere.

Weekends are blurs of cleaning and errand running and scheduling.

Um, I'm sort of new to this lifestyle, so please excuse my naivite, but...

...when does the living happen?

When does life beyond just catching up and getting bills paid and completing all the tasks necessary for basic survival happen?

When do we stop planning and start enjoying?

Are we meant to save our living time for two one-week vacations per year?

I can't deal with that. I am going insane.

So we're trying some new rules. Call me crazy, but we're desperate: no TV during together time. Outdoor family time at least once a week. And dates every weekend. No matter what.

Do you have any strategies for living beyond just trying to make if from day to day?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not the Time for Self-Congrats.

On our way to tonight's trunk-or-treat, I listened as Grace chattered to herself. Okay, I was only half-listening. 

But I was quickly shaken into rapt attention when I caught an interesting piece of Grace's next sentence: 

"... and then, I sneaked the make-up out of Grandma's bathroom! I'm so sneaky. I'm a sneaky FOX."

I am dead meat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For Maren.

One of my good friends suggested that I blog six of my quirks. 

I'm not that brave. I'm pretty sure that one is enough.

I am a tired person in general. I think we've gone over my sleeping disorders. But since I started working it's gotten worse.

This is me. Every night a little after 10.
I do not remember this picture being taken. If I had, I'm sure I would have also been coherent enough to pull up my pants.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Once Upon a Time

My dad wasn't often around to tuck us children in at night. His medical school hours were beastly long. But occasionally [and that's a very rare "occasionally"] he came home early. And he put me and Brittany to bed. And this was special. Because he told stories.

His most frequent hero was John Henry Fishamunga. A fish. Duh.

One night, after Dad pulled the covers up to our chins and kissed our foreheads, we begged him for a Fishamunga story. Maybe he was tired from a gruelling day of diagnosing and dissecting. He may have been wishing for his own bedtime. But looking back, for whatever reason, he must have been grumpy.

Because John Henry Fishamunga died that night.

He was eaten by a shark when he swam alone even though his daddy told him not to.

I cried.

It was like a tragic epiphany where I was hit by the brutal truth of several things at once. Namely, that my parents couldn't fix everything, that my choices could actually lead to a permanent end, that all endings are not happy, and that someday I would die.

All in all, not the best day.

These days Grace's newest favorite activity is telling scary stories. And the following is, word-for-word, the story she told me in the car on our way to church:

"Once upon a time ...

"There was a little boy and a little girl.

"And they hugged.

"And they were buddies.

"And then a bear eated them.

"And they were tasty."

Apparently Grace has no false notions about everything turning out happily ever after. I have no idea how that happened.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game Changer

We have a new family scripture study program.

We used to read five to ten verses of scriptures each night. I did anything I could to make it interesting. On cue, I had Grace trained to say "For behold." We tried acting out the scriptures as we read them. We even made play-doh figures one night. Something had to capture her interest.

Nothing did.

She refused to listen. She jumped, she sang, she squirmed, she screamed.

And she dreaded it. After chasing her down, calming her complaints, and while binding her in a hug to prevent her from bolting, her final plea was always a desperate, "I'm too tired for scriptures. I have to go straight to bed!"

That's serious distaste for scripture time, people.

Something had to change. I could just see Grace's teen years: ditching seminary, avoiding Sunday School, refusing to be "churchy."

Okay. That might be a little over the top.

But I did feel obligated to do something to make scripture time a little more bearable. This was the point that I remembered my mom's old stand-by (how could I forget?): being good should be fun. Otherwise why would anyone do it? And isn't this the reason we have commandments anyway, to make us happy?

This is more popularly known as the "spoonful of sugar" philosophy--courtesy Mary Poppins.

So scripture time is now fun. We choose a scripture story. I display a picture or a prop (rocks for the Jaredite Journey, or a fort for King Benjamin's final speech), and we read a few selected verses scattered through the Book of Mormon. (THE Book of Mormon, not any watered down nonsense.)

And then we test. To make sure Grace learned something. Anything.

I think it's working better if last night is any indication.

After a pleasant 5 minutes of reading and story telling and discussing, I was quizzing Grace on the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

"Grace, what promise did the people of Ammon make to Heavenly Father?"

"No killing," she simply (and accurately) stated. And then she very thoughtfully added, "Oh! And! And! .... don't waste water."

Uh....

Close enough.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Clockwork

Our children wake up every morning at 6:30.

It's perfect for my workdays. I can feed them, bathe them, dress them and kiss their sweet little cheeks goodbye and watch them wave from the porch.

On weekends it is not perfect. Not a bit.

Long before dawn I can hear Grace tripping up the stairs and slipping past the creaky door. She finds my ever-alternating side of the bed (which happens to be whichever one I collapsed onto) and pulls herself up. And in. And wraps her arms around my neck and draws out a long, "Mo-ommmm.... Wake up! I need some sir-ee-uhl."

I have many excuses to avoid the inevitable:

"Mommy needs to sleep." "Grace needs to sleep." "Oh, but I want to cuddle with you." "There are monsters downstairs eating our cereal. We'd better hide till they're gone."

Okay, I've never actually used the last one. I should though.

But it wouldn't change the outcome.

Because Claire is scheduled to go off in tears at exactly that moment. The moment after the excuse.

And so I always end up dragging my weary self out of that bed. I carry two girls on each hip down the high slippery wooden staircase to the kitchen. I pour Grace a bowl of Lucky Charms, and I fry two eggs for Claire. (she is a fanatic.)

My limbs are floppy and my head is fuzzy and it's easy to get angry.

Motherhood. It's the perpetual cycle of exhaustion.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

All's Right with the World

Brad came home from visiting his family yesterday. And it wasn't until he held Claire for the first time after being home that she reassumed her usual permagrin. The one that had been absent the entire time he'd been gone. 

It's nice to have happy Claire back.

And her daddy.

If she doesn't scare you

Unlike Grace, Claire was not named from her third month in the womb.

In fact, Claire was actually called Eva for her first four hours of life. But after those four hours, she didn't look like Eva. She looked like Claire. So she was Claire.

I didn't wait till last minute on purpose. I felt the deadline looming at my first hint of morning nausea. And so Brad and I had tossed names around feverishly.  We discussed so many that we eventually couldn't remember which ones we liked and which we didn't. We considered everything.

I take that back. We considered almost everything.

One night, a month or so before Claire came, Brad and Grace and my Mom and my Dad and I sat around steaks at a restaurant in Roswell. We had names on the brain, again, and my mom had suggested some ancestral options. She blurted a few names she could remember, and then ended with, "Oh, I know. How about Carrilla?" 

I liked it. Loved it.

It felt perfect. It rolled off my tongue:

Carrilla Nevi-- 

I couldn't finish. Laughter. Too much laughter. 

Great-aunt Carrilla will never have a namesake from me. It would be a playground tragedy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baby Hungry.

I don't think my mom ever wore the necklaces we made her for Mother's Day. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't because she considered herself too cool for my one-of-a-kind-yarn-and-macaroni jewelry (fashionable though she is). She probably just didn't think about it. She probably just didn't have any place to wear it except for Church, and then maybe considered it irreverent.

Of course, she didn't leave us every day for a job either. 

Grace made me a friendship bracelet yesterday. I wore it to work today. And I plan to wear it everyday. There is something very painful about going to work everyday. It makes me very sentimental. It means that I come home, turn off the TV, and sit down. I hold, I read, I play, I laugh, I tickle. Until they go to bed. And bed time comes oh-so-soon.

I miss my children. It's a terrible feeling.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thoughtful Prayer

For some time we had been encouraging Grace to make her prayers unique. And non-repetitious. She could think of things that were special to her to thank Heavenly Father for.

So now, every night, she repeats, "Heavenly Father, thank thee for armadillos and crickets."

At least she's getting the unique part down.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

We Are a Happy Family

And kind of nerdy too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Malaprop Queen

Tonight Brad and I went on a double date with my parents. We went out to eat, and then we split up: the boys went to Home Depot and the girls went to Target. While at Target, my mom spotted the Ped-Egg. They are files for the dead skin on your feet. Perhaps you've seen them at 2 am on a TV infomercial. Brad did (well, not at 2 am), and immediately grabbed for the phone. Which I politely withheld from him.

My mom is not like me. She indulges him at every opportunity. She does all of us, really, but especially Brad. Probably because he's so easy to to please.

So she grabbed the Ped-Egg. And some ice cream. And a couple of pretty dishes.

And when we checked out, the total of our small collection of items reached--well, an appallingly high number. I held up our five half-full bags, looked at them and said, "Where is all that money?"

"Expensive ice cream." My mom said. And then added, "I'll bet it was those ped-a-files."

Yeah.

Pedophiles.

She winced in shock when she realized what she'd said. But you should have seen the look of the guy passing us in the store.

We died laughing. 

Died.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Brad is a little crazy

... and my sister is obsessed. Obsessed. With the Jonas Brothers. (yuck.)

And here's what happens when Brad tries to tease her:


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

That's not exactly short for...

My husband has this thing with nicknames. In high school, he told me my name took too much energy to say. (To his credit, he was adding on the "EE" at the beginning of my name instead of the "Uh" as people--myself included--usually do, so I suppose it caused him a teensie bit more mouth work. Sort of.) So for a while there he was calling me EL. Seriously.

It didn't really stick. And maybe his energy has increased because these days he calls me Elise. Or sweetie, honey, and cutiepie.

But it's the nicknames he's given our children that are at issue. And these nicknames are not really for shortening purposes. They're just for kicks.

For example. Claire has been known in our household as: Claire Bear (well, okay, that's predictable, but keep reading), Clear Beer (a spin-off of the former--not a reference to a beverage choice), Claire-de-Lune (well, my mom initiated that one), Clairee Pie, and (my favorite) Claritin Clear.

Grace answers to: Amazing Grace, Gracie, Grake, Graco, Greek, and Grease (or Greece. whichever you prefer). Grease is Brad's most frequently used nickname for Grace. I'm sure that will thrill an adolescent Grace.

Purposeless nicknames. They're fun. You should try it sometime.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Big One

Happy Birthday to our clever, smiley, teasing baby girl.

Claire is walking stably. She is saying a few words. She says uh-oh. She says momma and dada. Brad is convinced she says "I love you dada" (in an unclear, consonantless "Aye uhve oo Dada" sort of way). I've never heard her. But it's entirely plausible, I suppose, given how often she's heard the phrase.

She blows bubbles with her mouth.

She thinks it's hilarious to climb halfway up the stairs and turn around to make sure she's got Mommy or Daddy's attention. And then she crawls in a laughing frenzy as we chase her down.

She is sleeping through the night. Finally. With all the chaos it took a while for us to settle into a routine. But after a song and the shutting of our closet door (yes, she sleeps in our closet), she settles herself into peaceful slumber without even a whimper.

She makes funny faces.

My girls. I love them to pieces.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Holey Moley Cow.

I wasn't expecting that. 

What fabulous friends you are. You are politically active, socially responsible, and passionately involved. I had no idea the future was so bright. I am amazed and very grateful.

Thank you for your insight. And inspiration.

I will be voting this year.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics

My family is watching the DNC. And look. I'm in to "issues." I listen to NPR; I am well-read; I consider myself reasonably well-educated. 

But I'm sick of our party system.

I can't exactly say I'm sick of politics. I do care what happens to our country. I think we need some health reform (not socialism, just insurance reformation). I think tax-payers should keep more of the money they make. 

And that's mostly it.

But why is it that a Republican has to disagree with everything a Democrat says? And why can't Democrats see things the way some Republicans see them? 

I mean, can't I have conservative values, want to vote mostly conservatively, but still believe that Barack Obama is a sincere individual? Can't I agree with the things he says and maybe not agree with his methods?

And can't I hate McCain too?

The bottom line is that government can't solve your problems. And so the candidates who claim they can fix our world are... disillusioned or lying.

The private industry has to be the ones making a difference. That's us. The Church. And private hospitals.  

And on that note, I'm having a really hard time convincing myself to vote this year.

Leave a note if you feel like persuading me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Any Delay

Every night, for about twenty minutes after Brad puts Grace to bed, we hear, "Mom! I have to tell you somp-thin. Just ONE MORE THIIINNG!" That claim is, of course, false. It usually becomes fifteen to twenty things. On a lucky day.

But believe it or not, that's progress, folks.

Earlier this year, I was ready to pull my hair out over the issue. I had become the temporary bedtime parent because of our frequent Brad-less trips to Texas.

And bedtime wasn't going well. The whole process had become an hour-and-a-half ordeal. And I was exasperated. I was looking for a way to improve. 

And so, after one particularly difficult night, I planned to record our bedtime routine, listen to it the next day, and write down any ways I felt I could do better.

It didn't work. It was a bad night. I got angry. And I had no desire to relive that night and revive my frustration by listening to the recording. So I didn't. 

Until, of course, today. And, if you'd like, so can you. Well, two minutes of it anyway. Two minutes which might be exceptionally boring for you. Or funny. I can't tell. I am not objective in this situation.

Just remember: I was angry. Have mercy on me. I won't judge your parenting either.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Job Hunt

I'm looking for a job. Any job. Well, a job with a salary and benefits. It's demoralizing. And overwhelming. I feel little. And dumb, too.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wildlife

My whole family has been gone this week. They are enjoying the Church History sites of the east coast. Brad, Grace, Claire, and I have been enjoying the house and yard. 

Although my parents live near the Dallas Metroplex, they're still pretty far out in Texas country. My mom always tells people, "Come see us on your way to Oklahoma." So I guess it shouldn't have been a huge surprise that, while Grace ate her breakfast yesterday morning, she stared out the window and yelled, "LOOOOOK, MOOOM!"

There was an armadillo in the yard. An armadillo. I don't know. I guess I half-thought they were mythical creatures.

I opened the door to get a better look, and Grace continued to yell in excitement. I was nervous that the little guy would run away at the noise, but he seemed oblivious. 

Apparently that is the main characteristic of Armadillos. Obliviousness.

Here's some footage Brad caught (not great, but gets a little clearer toward the end):

 

And that's not all we've seen.

Today Brad pointed out a nest forming above my parents' front door. With an egg.


Can you see it?!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Living with the Parents

We are finally settled to life in Texas, even though we haven't sold our home in Carlsbad or figured out yet what we're going to do with it. But I'm not too stressed. We are here for a good cause, after all.

And besides, I mostly like it here. Living with my parents has huge advantages.

There are only a couple of disadvantages. Namely: 1) the water tastes exactly like dirt 2) Claire keeps climbing up (and falling down) the stairs and 3) I keep getting locked out of the house whenever I take out a diaper.

My dad keeps the exterior door handles locked ALL the time because he is concerned about home invasion. And rightly so, since one of his partners was held hostage in his own home for money. Very scary. Oh, so, yeah, 4) I am now worried about home invasion.

Anyway, aside from these very minor cons, life here is pretty good. The best part is that the food budget is no longer limited to $100 a month. Wahoo.

And I haven't even felt the need to hang my head in shame or anything.

Except for once.

Last week one of my mom's friends picked us up for Enrichment. We had a fun talk on the way there, and then somehow we started talking about our living arrangements--how long Brad and I were planning on staying with my family and so on. And then this woman remarked:

"Betsy, I don't know how you are doing it! I am doing everything I can to insure my children never move in with me again. They would drive me crazy. They know not to come home after they move out."

This is where I tried to shrink, shrink, shrink in the back seat of the car.

A little bit awkward.

So, maybe this lady doesn't want to be friends with me. But... I'm sure glad my mom likes me. And that they asked us to move in with them. And that we haven't driven them crazy.

Yet...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Warning: Not for the weak-stomached.

Brad is home. He got home on Friday night, actually. So, he's been home. But today, we are celebrating tube-, stitch-, and staple-lessness.

He is also free of an extra 25 pounds he was carrying around. A week diet of clear liquids can do that to you. He looks hot. But, he did before.

Farewell to those foreign bodies of plastic and metal. Brad had several staples, two holes housing tubing for drainage, and a few extra holes for fun (okay, really the surgeon was trying laproscopic surgery instead of having to cut him open, and the staples are evidence of how that attempt turned out).

I have eternally commemorated Brad's synthetic friends in photo here. Don't say I didn't warn you. Oh, did I not warn you? Okay, the photo shows a little blood, some staples, and a tube (the other tube was unphotographable). Consider yourself warned.

Also. I got the bills today, since we are currently uninsured. I know, I'm ashamed. No lectures, please.

Anyone like to take a guess at the combined charge for a three-night hospital stay, and the actual surgery? The winner will receive surgical tubing and bulb. Only used once.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fittings

I hate bra shopping. I can't go into Victoria's Secret without my cheeks igniting in embarrassment. And no, it's not (entirely) because of those brazen models or the sexy lingerie. I just feel so stupid sorting through racks of brassieres having no idea what I'm looking for.

The great thing about clothes is that as long as you can button them shut, zip them up, or pull them over your body... they fit. There is no math. Or science. Just visual confirmation.

I can never tell when a bra fits, or what kind I need.

Which clasp? How tight to pull the straps? Padded? Wires? And, how, uh, full should those cups be?

So I felt sheepish as my Mom took Brittany and I to Nordstrom's lingerie department this weekend.

At least I discovered I wasn't alone in my stupidity. My shameless mother quickly informed a passing employee that we would be needing help. With fittings. I believe she even suggested a measurement

Apparently, measurement would be unnecessary. Because right there, close to the cash register, amid scanty nighties and wonderbras and before other perusing customers, this woman wrapped her hands around my mom's rib cage, right against her possibly underwired bra and declared, "I'll bet you're a 36..."

And then, friends, she put her flat hands under my mom's arms, framing the area in question. She alternated between this framing position and pectoral pokes (yeah, you heard me right) before concluding, "C. Well, maybe a B. But I'm gonna say C. I'll bring a couple of each into you and we'll take a look."

That was my cue to escape. I found some fluffy chairs at customer service and sat while Claire chewed on the coffee table's legs.

There would be no poking or wrapping for me. Nuh-uh.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tribute to Mary

Brad and I haven't been in the hospital that long. A mere three days. Well, and I'm really only here from 10-10. And I'm not the one being treated.

Anyway, three days may not sound like that long (and, okay, I'll be honest--it isn't). But in terms of working shifts, three days translates into roughly nine nurses. Nine drastically disparate nurses. I have a bone to pick with a few of them. (Excuse the tactless pun.) But several nurses (such as our sweet Mary) merit some serious praise and respect.

Mostly for doing little things.

Like addressing the IV machine's incessant beeping instead of letting it go off every two minutes for hours.

And smiling instead of doling out dry crusties.

And bringing medicine when they say they will instead of an hour and a half later.

Sadly, my blog is private, so Mary will never read my gratitude (although I sang her praises in person plenty). And both Madonna and Maria will never know my frustration. Which is how I like it anyway.

As a side note, isn't it weird that all of these nurses have the same name?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vacation Time

Brad has had the Carlsbad flu several times this season. We all have. So it wasn't a huge shocker that while under a tremendous amount of stress (you know, moving, fixing the house, working, yadda, yadda), he came down with the flu again.

The only weird part is that I never caught it.

But that weekend, my parents came to take us to Utah, so we didn't think about it much anyway. That week Brad carried Claire (and sometimes Grace) up to the Timponogos caves:
We played at South Fork Canyon (where Grace gashed her head and nearly went in for stitches--Thank goodness my dad was there to fix it): By the end of the next week (at our "Winters are Hot" Bear Lake Family Reunion), Brad was feeling crummy again, but still well enough to survive some excellent wipeouts on the wakeboard and tube.
Well, that wasn't his best moment.

And then, this Monday, he endured an evening of shmoozing at a wedding reception for one of my good friends, Deja.
And here he is on Wednesday:

I can sort of explain, although I will come out as the worst, most unattentive wife ever. I am repentant. Neither of us really wanted to go to the hospital because we didn't want to pay the fees. But under the insistence of Aunt Kathleen, GG, and with some cash she stuck in my pocket, we headed to the ER. Just to make sure that his constant abdominal pain was nothing too serious.

Good thing.

Because after urine and blood tests and finally a CT scan, we discovered that Brad's usually pinky-sized appendix was the size of a softball. And it had already ruptured. Two weeks ago. On the date that he came down with his non-infectious "flu."

The promised hour-long appendectomy turned into a two-and-a-half hour procedure which also included the removal of parts of his intestine (which had been completely infected by his appendix). Our Oxford-Duke-Johns Hopkins trained surgeon said this surgery was very rare and was more complex than he had anticipated. And as a side note he mentioned that the infection would have continued to spread had we not come in, eventually proving fatal.

We were that close (insert mini pinched fingers here) to not going in. Too close.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bet Your Bottom Dollar

Grace loves to sing. And today's song of choice happened to be "Tomorrow." She unfortunately really only remembers the first line. Which meant about a hundred reruns through the phrase, "I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a day away!"

To the relief of my fragile sanity, she eventually continued on to the rest of the song. Well, sort of. Her high little voice continued, "Tomorrow, spank their bottoms they'll come out tomorrooooowww... come what maaayy!"

In case you haven't seen Annie, those are not actually the words.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Laughin' at Clouds

You know the adage, "When it rains it pours?" I used to have a hard time relating to that. Because in Washington it just mostly drizzles. Constantly. No pouring. But whoever coined that phrase hailed from Carlsbad because that is exactly what happens here.

A single rain in this city causes street floods which last for hours. In some places, the water is six inches deep. And the lightening storms (which accompany the majority of rainfalls) are nothing short of spectacular. Brad and I sit in camp chairs on our front porch (yes, very white-trash-like) watching the scenes.

I love the rain. I love the smell of rain. And so during the last storm, Grace, Claire, and I twirled in the downpour. We had so much fun.
We had so much fun that at the next rain, Brad took a turn.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My New Favorite Holiday

Our summer so far has been high stress. It is not fun trying to get a house done and attempting to earn money at the same time. And I am not very good with stress. Or deadlines. You could say I've been a grump. Or an insane-workaholic-slavedriver. I don't know. Somewhere in there.

So yesterday--the Fourth of July--was the perfect cure. It reminded me of the childhood summers I spent in Charlottesville, running through the trees, laughing and catching fireflies. It was enchanting.

We started the day with a trip to Roswell to pick up my brother, Jay, at the airport. There was an incident with a bird-sized insect, but mostly we enjoyed hanging out for hours at Hastings Bookstore and eating at The Rib Crib while we waited for Jay's bag to come in on the next flight.

We spent the rest of the evening at the Volpato's annual Fourth of July Barbeque. This is the party that welcomed us into Carlsbad. And sadly, it is the party ushering us out. Temporarily, anyway. Brad and I are talking about making a yearly pilgrammage for this party. It's that good.

It was one of the first times since childhood (my oh-so-happy childhood) that I can recall feeling carefree. I love that feeling. I have to do that more often.

Probably part of my bliss was due to my out-of-charater inclination to observe and savor everything. I knew that I wouldn't be seeing these people every day anymore. And that fact is still hurting my little heart.

Anyway. Click on the photo below for more pictures. Not that you have to. No pressure. Oh, and even though there are no pictures of them, just know that the fireworks were amazing. Especially when the fire started in the neighboring field.

Oh. And I am also lacking pictures of the many girls who assaulted me asking for Jay's name and number. He is, apparently, hot.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Conversation Between Grace and Brad

"Daddy, I love you," Grace says, rubbing Brad's cheek.

"I love you too, Grace."

Grace grimaces. "Daddy. Your face is ugly."

Huh. What a nasty change of subject. "Uh, really?" is all Brad can muster.

"Daddy, how did your mom make your face so ugly?"

Um...

"It's very porky," she says. "Like a porky-pine."

"Yes. Yes it is."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

If Only

I still shower with Grace. I admit, she's probably getting a bit old for that. A fact which was brought to my attention earlier today as we were getting out of the shower.

We'd been in there for a while. And so I held out Grace's hand, pointed to her fingertips, and said, "Grace! Your fingers look like raisins! What did you do to them?"

She replied, "I didn't do that! The water did it!" We laughed.

Then her little finger poked my not-so-little tummy and she exclaimed, "Mommy, look! The water made your tummy into a raisin, too!"

She was sadly mistaken. [Sob.]

I hate stretch marks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Single Best Bread Recipe I've Ever Tried

(and I have tried many). My few notes are in brackets. []

French Bread

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5-5 1/2 cups bread flour [I never have bread flour on hand, and it's hard to find here. I use regular flour and it turns out just fine.]

Directions
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) and sugar in large bowl; allow yeast to proof or foam (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough.
  4. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. [I do not knead by hand; I use kitchen aid on medium for approximately 5 minutes.]
  5. Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.
  6. Punch down and divide in half.
  7. Shape dough into two long slender loaves.
  8. Grease and sprinkle with cornmeal either a french bread pan or large cookie sheet.
  9. Place loaves in pan and cut diagonal gashes on top of each loaf (I use scissors).
  10. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  12. Note: You can sprinkle or spray water on the loaves during baking if you want a really crunchy crust. [Turn finished bread onto cooling rack to avoid soggy bottoms. And for a very soft crust, cover cooling bread with dish towel.]
  13. [It's hard to mess this recipe up. Try it. You will suddenly become a baker.]

Courtesy Recipezaar

Monday, June 30, 2008

Grace

As rendered by my dear, dear friend Lou. Who drew this from a single photo on my Facebook account. That is sheer talent, my friends.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Even Uncle Kevin

Last night before going to sleep, Brad and I played a game. We were trying to see which of us could name all of the extended family members of the other person's family. Embarrassingly, we both miserably failed. But I must say that Brad did worse for two reasons: 1. He has actually met all of my extended family members and has had extensive conversations with many of them and therefore really should know most of their names, and 2. He didn't know the names of a couple of his own relatives. Seriously.

But hope is not lost for our extended family ties. Tonight as Grace and I drove home in the car, I asked her, "Grace, who loves you?" and after naming me and Daddy, she proceeded to name every member of our family. Including Uncle Kevin. Who left for Argentina before she could talk. And who she somehow recognizes in photos (although occasionally she is actually pointing to a younger, skinnier Brad).

Anyway. Family. We love you. We miss you. And you don't have to worry about Grace forgetting about you. Obviously.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Unrated

While spending another entire day at the Millers, I made a routine visit to Trey's bedroom to check on the kids.

And nearly exploded in disbelieving laughter.

Trey was hanging, upside down, from his top bunk, wearing his Spiderman suit. Except for his mask. And to this Grace loudly objected.

"Trey, you're supposed to have the mask on for kissing!!"

The scene sounds too familiar to be mistaken as merely coincidental. And yet Grace has not been allowed to watch adult-ish films (including Spiderman) since her last incident.

And so I am baffled.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bored

There's very little to do at our house these days. Every room is empty except for the living room which contains a mattress, a couch, a two-foot high child's table, and a TV. The toys are waiting in Dallas, and our backyard has been conquered by our neighbor's cats.

So it probably shouldn't surprise me that for entertainment, my girls make messes. What else is there to do? Grace scribbles on the walls, eats handfuls of plain oatmeal (spilling tablespoonsful on the floor), and dribbles laundry detergent on the carpet (albeit in a very well-meaning attempt to help me cart the laundry out the door). Claire has coated my floors in cereal and applesauce (a result of her happy discovery that she can reach our tabletop).

Yesterday Grace was eating some chocolate cookies--remnants of our roadtrip from Dallas. She fed pieces to Claire while holding the ziploc bag. And somewhere in the middle of this feeding, I fell asleep for a much needed two minute nap.

I woke up to a suspicious sound and opened my eyes just in time to see Claire lying down, shaking chocolate cookie crumbs all over herself. And all over our bed.

She started to cry at the cookie crumbs stuffed in her eye. And while flushing her face with water, I found chocolate in the folds of her neck. And in her ears.

In a helpful effort, Grace emptied a full bag of baby wipes to scrub Claire clean. An entire bag.

And so I loaded everybody in the car and headed to Trey's house. They have a backyard. And air conditioning. And no chocolate cookies!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Complimentary

Grace has had a couple of accidents at her friend's house lately. She gets too busy playing, I suppose. So when she told me (in time), "I feel I need to go to the bathroom..." I helped her onto that porcelain seat and sang her praise.

"Grace, you are such a big girl! I'm so proud of you. You did a great job making it to the bathroom in time. You are great."

Her polite response: "Thanks Mom. You're a great wiper."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I made scrambled egg wraps for breakfast in honor of my daughters' Daddy. He had unfortunately picked that day as the start of a new diet (a diet which somehow restricted the intake of eggs, but not of the candy bar handouts at church).

So, we had leftovers. Which I thought I would try out on Claire.

I might as well have given her a pony.




Uh-oh... Nope, still good.
"Claire, the floor is yucky. We don't eat things from the floor."
Wanna bet?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Every Night's a Sleep Over

The living room is the only part of our house that is air conditioned. And with temperatures hitting the hundreds, and most of the furniture out of the house anyway, we are camping out in the living room.


Rolling into people in the middle of the night is at least more comfortable than frying in bed, I assure you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flash Back

So I will now publicly release our found honeymoon photos. I know you're excited.

This B&B was not originally on our itinerary. We started our Washington honeymoon at a downtown Seattle hotel. But we had noisy neighbors. And the walls were paper-thin. And being in the city was chaotic. So we drove out to Port Townsend for some quiet. (Can you get over how young Brad looks?)
I loved the place. It was quaint. Breakfast included four courses. And we ate with other guests. Breakfast in this B&B was Brad's least favorite part of our honeymoon for the following reasons: 1. Gourmet food (Brad does not like it and will not eat it), and 2. Casual conversation with complete strangers. These happen to be the very same reasons that I loved breakfast.

This is the basement of the B&B. We played pool, laughed hysterically while watching Foul Play (okay, so only I laughed hysterically; Brad just laughed at me laughing), and got in our first married fight over the rules to Scrabble. Yes, Scrabble. Brad insisted that I was inventing new rules, and so I pulled out the official rulebook. I might be obsessively competitive.

I don't know why Brad took this picture. All I can say is that for a while, in the early parts of our marriage, Brad would take random photos of me in an effort to make me believe in my prettiness. Eventually he stopped because all he ended up proving is that I am the least photogenic person who ever lived. (He does, however, still tell me every single day how beautiful he thinks I am. Well, except for the last four days since we haven't talked at all because of Scout Camp. Still, I feel pretty lucky.)
The next day we met my family at Jack and Tanya Kendrick's for the Open House.



Oh, those carefree months of childlessness. All ten of them.