Thursday, December 29, 2005

Future Cardmakers of America

4-year-olds are interested in bodily functions. Very interested. That fact should have been foremost in our minds when we asked them to hand-make Christmas cards for the family. On Christmas Day I opened my card, which consisted of artwork by both of them.

"What's this?" I asked, pointing to one of two figures on the paper, the one with yellow spiral coming from the vaguely middle portion of the person.

"Potty." Sydney proclaimed cheerfully.

"Ok. Interesting," I said, trying to remain diplomatic while wondering what the cards that went to other family looked like. I pointed to the second figure, which has a rather large block of red that seemed to be coming from the legs, "What's this?"

"Blood." Summerlyn stated blithely.

"Oh? Why is there blood?" I'm trying to remain as nonchalant as they are.

She answers, "because he was attacked by a lion."

"Wow. I've never...EVER...had a Christmas card like this before, girls."

Hallmark is never going to hire my daughters. Unless the company comes up with an entirely new, bold, line of cards.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Giving


First of all, the whole insects in the Christmas tree didn't go off as spectacularly as I'd hoped. My mother-in-law found the plastic bugs herself and thought they were cute, but she didn't see the tarantula. We had to practically point it out to her and then all she did was jump back startled. No screaming or fainting. Christmas is just not as fun as it used to be.

Thursday before Christmas I took the girls on our annual trip to the Dollar Store where they selected presents for everyone on our list. They wrapped the gifts themselves, using more tape than an elderly chorus girl.

Christmas Eve day we delivered the loot to our the needy Christmas family. That was better than last year where the family acted like it was their right to receive gifts. This year's family was humble and expressed their desire to pay it forward once they got back on their own feet. The husband, who is artistic, gave me a t-shirt he had airbrushed for me. Summerlyn fell in love with their two-month-old baby and wanted to take it home.

Here's something amazing: not only did the girls not ask us even once, what we got them for Christmas, but on Christmas Day we didn't get around to opening the presents until about noon and the girls never once asked to open them. The presents had been under the tree for three days.

The girl's loved their dollhouse, David his tool chest, and me my mixer I've wanted for twenty years. It was a lovely Christmas made extra speical by seeing the girls get wrapped up in the spirit of giving instead of receiving.

We won't talk about the in-law problems that gave me an ulcer all weekend.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Look Close...Closer...


This is our monster Christmas tree. My piano is a full sized upright grand, five feet tall and the tree makes it look wimpy. When I play piano the branches attack the left side of my body (notice the bench is in the tree).

Other than sitting in our living room like a manatee at a salamander tea party, it's quite lovely, trimmed in red, gold and sage green.

However, what you can't see in the picture is something far more interesting. Yesterday the girls added a dozen of their beanie-baby-sized stuffed animals. But more fascinating than that are the insects they added today. They have about 25 or more very realistic plastic bugs, including flies, worms, beetles, ladybugs, and spiders. They blend into the greenery quite well. In fact, you can't even tell they are there until you lean in while perhaps trying to look closely at an ornament.

My parents-in-law are coming tonight to spend the weekend. I wonder what will happen when they admire the tree. This weekend has turned out to be quite promising.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What Was it I Was Going to Type?

Lyme disease has caused me a problem. What was it again? Oh, right...memory problems. Really drives me nuts. I never know when it's going to hit. And sometimes the ol' brain seems to work just fine, but I never know when a hole is going to open up and the contents fall out.

Here's an example of lying in advertising. I bought a TempurPedic memory foam pillow. I've used it for about five years now. Nothin'.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Where'd My Christmas Spirit Go?

Tonight as I was driving home from work, or more like parking home from work -- I was listening to Christmas music on the radio. Traffic on my commute home is always bad but with the Happy Holiday Season, it was frightful. After getting groceries I should have hauled them home in the cart on the shoulders of the highways. I would have gotten home sooner.

I have two channels of Christmas music that I flip back and forth when a song annoys me. Like Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming to Town. No offense to anyone who likes it, but me, I can only hear it once a season and then I must flip the channel immediately upon hearing the first jingle bell bars, lest I go irreversibly insane.

Tonight they had segments of callers chatting with the DJ about happy Christmas memories. One woman told a touching story about her wonderful grandparents who gave her so many happy memories while they were alive. Then she asked the DJ to pick a song in their honor.

Immediately what came to my mind was Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. I need help.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ballerina Plumber Nurse Aerospace Engineer

Tonight Summerlyn decided what she's going to be when she grows up.

"A queen. Or a violin player."

When you're four, there are no barriers. It's a wide open sea of opportunity with nothing stopping you. You can choose to rule a country or fiddle on stage at the county fair. I love childhood.

Your Expiration Date

At work today I was reading the hospitals' discharge list and saw the words "expired" by one patient's name. Now if the scientists can stop researching cow flatulence and work on finding the location of our expiration dates, that'd be good.

Actually, nevermind. I don't want to know.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Snow? No!


Today was the last day that my family could go Christmas shopping as a family (and the first day, too, actually). I thought we'd averted a weekend fiasco last night when we were finishing the Christmas tree. I was trying to put the cap back on a glass bulb when my finger slipped and hit the razor edge of the bulb lip. I looked at my finger and thought it was fine until about 10 seconds later when I realized that blood was dripping down my finger. I couldn't see the actual wound very well because it was so finely sliced and thought of sitting in the ER for hours on a Saturday night, waiting for stitches before my finger either became gangrenous or I exsanguinated, whatever came first. After I cleaned it and triaged myself I decided that I wasn't going to have to go in for it, thankfully.

But was the fiasco averted? Oh no, silly! This AM we had a one-minute power outage and my mom called to tell me that Portland was having a wind storm and an ice storm was going to hit around 6pm. I told David "Let's go now!" figuring that we could get back an hour or two before six and be safe. The forecasters around here tell us something's going to happen but it usually doesn't hit until several hours later, if at all.

So we had hit two stores and were sitting at a Spaghetti Factory when it began to snow. It was 1:30. By the time we got out to our car, there was about 1/4" on the ground and then it began to rain and snow together which is a horrible mix that freezes into sheets of ice immediately upon contact with any surface. Since it was at least one hour back home, we decided to go to two more stores that were about 3/4 mile away. It took an hour to get there. Then we hit the highway back home, speeding along at 3 mph, watching the cars in front of us making forward and sideways movements simultaneously.

Perhaps you, dear reader, live in Montana, and you reasonably snort in derision at an inch of ice and snow on the ground. However, we have two things against us in Portland: 1) it doesn't snow (or ice) here very often. Winter in Western Oregon usually means rain and moderate temperatures. And, 2) a large portion of our population is made up of Californians who, bless their hearts, scream at the sight of white powder falling from the sky and landing under their tires.

We got home safely and are snug in a warm house and grateful. Next year I'm buying everything online. Right.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Children Can Make Time Stand Still

Today we had a friend over for dinner. While we have been friends with him for a long time, today was the first time we've had him over for dinner. As the meal was winding down and I began serving the dessert, one of my daughters -- who had exhibited near perfect manners until this point -- turned to him and said. "Sometimes my bottom gets sore, if I wipe too hard."

I know it'll be a memorable meal for us. Him too, I'd guess.

Dreadlocks

I try to keep the girls neat and clean in public. This is an inheritance from my mother, who, no matter how little money we had, would sooner lie down on a train track than let my sister or I out of the house with a single smudge or tear on our clothes.

So at church today, as usual, I had groomed my girls carefully. Today they got side parts with little barrettes. Very sweet. They actually made it an hour looking pretty good. Our service has children's story before the sermon, and just as the pianist played the tune to signal time for children to come up front, I looked at the girls. In the space of 15 seconds they had gone from little groomed lovelies to street urchins with squirrels nesting in their hair. There was no time to do anything about it, and so they ran up front, happy and blissfully oblivious. I sighed.

But I have a solution. Dreadlocks.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sanctuary


Tiiiirrrrred. Big IV treatment today. Feel like a jello mold, emphasis on the mold. Thank God it's Sabbath. Yes, I'm one of those oddities that keeps Saturday. But man, what a wonder, just to come to a grinding halt and STOP. Twenty-four lovely hours of no shopping, no cooking, no bills, no laundry, no work. Just hanging out with the family. A sanctuary from the world. Peace.

As soon as the short ones are put to bed I'm going to have a bath. Bubbles, candles, sparkling cider. Float. Sigh. Bed. Sleep.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

IQ

About a decade ago, David and I both took an informal IQ test that had been presented by my psych teacher in nursing school. We both scored high and my darling spousal unit reminds me frequently that his score was one point higher than mine. Like the other night when I stretched languidly and fell out of bed. Hey, even I know that physical dexterity has nothing to do with intellect. Look at Stephen Hawking. And me. The other day I turned to leave my bedroom and ran into the door frame, an incident that is not indicative of my mental acumen or lack thereof.

Nearing the end of nursing school, I took another IQ test just for kicks. It was one of those you can buy at a bookstore. About to graduate, my IQ was eight points lower than two years before. I like to stick with the higher score, knowing that it was likely not accurate.

The other day I came across an online IQ test while surfing and took it on a whim. The score was the same as the graduation score. I was delighted that it hadn't gone down again, since I'd gotten another degree. So I accepted the lower number as truth. It's still good, but I hesitated in telling Turgid Brain Boy. When I did, he boasted that if he took the test again, he would hit 145. I snorted in derision. He raised his eyebrows and said, "Oh yes I could. I will take it twice and add the scores together."

I don't know who's smarter, but the boy can make me laugh, and that's good for something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Tree


We went tree hunting on Sunday. We live in the Christmas Tree capital; there are more Christmas tree farms around here than any other place on earth. With over six million trees harvested in Oregon each year, it's a title we well earned. Every day, each acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people!

So, surrounded by miles of these farms, we don't need to go to no steenkin' tree stand where trees sell for up to $100, only 30 miles from here. Instead we bundled up the girls in layers, hats and gloves, I put on my tacky Christmas socks, long johns and jeans, and we piled into the van. Signs are everywhere for the farms, but about four miles down the road we found what we were looking for: u-cut for $10. Whoohoo!

The sign was for a property that used to be a tree farm but the current owners weren't interested in keeping it up. So they let people wander into their planted forest and take whatever they wanted for $10. The girls had a great time. There was no snow, but the mud had frozen and each step crunched under their boots. They played hide and seek and leader of the safari. Finally we found it, an 8 1/2 foot douglas fir that looked just right. David chopped it down and dragged it back to the van. I went back and cut down a two-footer for the girls.

Meanwhile, David attempted to wrestle the tree on to the top of the van. The tree, afraid for its future, did not want to be taken away and so it attacked him. Fortunately the girls and I were far enough away that we couldn't make out what he was yelling at the tree. By the time we got back he had finally subdued the tree and it was sitting meekly, if resentfully, atop the van.

I won't go into how the tree attacked again when we got home, nor how it lost the struggle when David got out the hack saw. The girls didn't care and just did a dance of happiness when they saw the evergreen boughs standly nobly in our living room. It was a happy day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ginny and Sons

My friend Ginny asks me today, "Have you made any new posts since Saturday?"

"No."

"Well, get with it!"

Ginny, I will try to mend my wicked ways and post daily. I might as well, since I know that you will continue to request my posts no matter who dies first. That's only one of the many endearing traits I love about you.

Oh, and speaking of Ginny. (Get worried, get very worried.)

One evening she is changing her clothes for bed. Somehow she manages to fall (a nightcap is something you wear on your head, Ginny). Her young adult sons hear her and come to her bedroom door, concerned.

"Mom, are you ok?"

"Yes, I'm all right."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. I'm lying here naked, but I'll be ok."

Sudden scrambling heard as boys retreat rapidly, panicky "Ok, Mom.." heard in distance.

Children. So helpful.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Traditions

At 4 1/2, the twins are getting more into Christmas. I like to get a tree about a week before Christmas (I have a thing about the fire hazard) but they got a phone call from their buddy Alanna who excitedly told them her family just got a tree. The girls looked at me, lips quivering, and said "Why don't we have a tree, Mama?" I can just see the future, when I get the bills in the mail for their psychiatric counseling.

So tomorrow we'll go tree hunting. Tonight David pulled out the Christmas boxes and while we listened (and danced) to Christmas music by Johnny Mathis and me on the piano (he didn't rise from the dead so I could accompany him, he was on the CD, in case you had creepy thoughts just then. Although that would make a more interesting story), David pulled out some decorations and the Christmas village that he and I had painted years before the girls were born. They ooh'd and ah'd like they'd never seen it before. The girls danced until they fell giggling on a pile on the floor while their father faked hysterical crying to Johnny's Blue Christmas. Hey, everybody's got their own traditions.

This morning we put up the Giving Tree board at church. We are sponsoring a family of five this year and I'm heading the project, so yesterday the girls and I made the ornament tags for the tree. They drew crazy happy faces on the gingerbread and snowmen and made them sparkly with glitter. It's our family tradition to deliver all the presents and packages to our Christmas family on Christmas Eve. I hope the girls will always feel that giving is what Christmas is all about.

The Separation of Socks

One of the girls came up to David and I in the kitchen with a sad blue sock. Its elastic fibers broke with little popping sounds when you stretched it. David said he'd have to throw it away, but where was its mate? She said it didn't have one and left the room.

He sighed, "There seems to be a high rate of sock divorce these days."

"Perhaps," I smiled slyly, "it is because one sock doesn't listen to the other sock."

"Mmm. Or because the other sock does always have dinner ready when he comes home," he suggested.

"Or it could be that one sock leaves the toilet seat up."

"Or maybe the other sock makes messes in the kitchen she doesn't clean up," he countered.

"Possibly. Another reason could be that one sock doesn't know what a washing machine is."

Ah hah! The washing machine is usually where things goes down hill. Please use this device carefully. And a note to the others -- you know who you are -- make yourself acquainted with the machine. The more you use it, the less frightened you will be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Perpetual Student


I've had an epiphany. Well, not really because I've thought of this over a few months now, but whatever. Semantics.

I'm not going to naturopathic medical school. At least not now. Maybe when I'm 50 because then the girls will be 18. But don't think that that will stop me. Oh no.

Here's the history. I got my Associates in Applied Science in Nursing in 1994. Then I got my certification in teletriage nursing in 2001. The BS degree (nursing) in 2004 (see pic above). I thought about continuing to get my Masters in nursing, but I really don't want to be a hospital administrator, nursing prof, or nurse practitioner. So scrap that. Since I've writing health articles and giving health lectures for several years now, I decided that's my niche. Plus I want to write books. The RN helps but need more.

Here's the plan. I'm going to get my Masters in Holistic Nutrition. Then my PhD in Naturopathic Health. Once I figured that out, I had profound moment of peace. I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Whoohooo!!

But as eager as I am to move forward, I must pause and rest. It's only been a year since I got my last degree and I'm still exhausted all the time from the stupid Lyme Disease (DIE bug DIE!). Plus I don't want to miss my girls' precious and fleeting teensy-girlhood. So I will wait. Antsy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Shopping II

Having this cold, feeling like my head is a pumpkin (the size that wins prizes) stuffed with goo, I haven't been out of the house for a few days, but I did go to work today. Which means that I had to go shopping afterwards, since I refuse to leave my house for the next couple days.

It was a shopping miracle. I got excellent parking spaces wherever I went. I got in, got out, and I didn't even have to tackle anybody to do it. There were no cashier holdups ("Price check for super maxi pads, please!"), no customer holdups ("You rang up the price as $9.99 but I know there's a 2% discount and I'm not leaving until I get it!"), no long lines, no salespersons shoving perfume in my face, no crowds. I don't know how it happened, but it was a miracle.

I came home and Summerlyn had fallen asleep on my mom's couch, so I wrapped her up in a blanket and carried her home, her sister clomping behind me in her rubber boots. They are now all tucked in bed and I am about to do the same.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

But Wait! There's More!

I'm working from home, sick, today. Don't you just love the Wonderful Season of Mucus? There should be a CD to celebrate the season, complete with these hits:

Deck the Halls with Balls of Mucus
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Grandma Got Run Over By Pneumonia

I'll Be Home for Sinusitis

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Sickness

Jingle Bells, I can't Smell, I've got the grippe;
Oh what fun it is to feel that post-nasal drip.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
(So You've Got Tinnitus, too?)

It's the Most Productive Time of the Year

Santa Baby, slip a Nyquil under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa Baby, my lips have changed in color too, light blue...

And much, much more!!!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pets vs Children



Before the girls joined our family, our children were Sera and Toby, the cats. We were one of those couples who nauseate their friends with our cat devotion. Having no children at the time, all our parental feelings went to our little fuzzy babies and we spoiled them with abandon.

When I was pregnant, my husband was concerned that his love for Sera would change. He really doted on our white cat and I got disgusted and jealous of her preference of him. They would stare into each others eyes lovingly and she'd press her forehead to his lips for kisses. Ugh. Of course, I enjoyed her attention whenever he wasn't home.

But when I was pregnant, I had already fallen in love with the tiny ones in my tummy, and so when he voiced his concern about changing feelings for our pets, I just smiled. Turned out that I was right. When the girls were born, it wasn't that we stopped loving our pets, it was just that our love for our daughters was light years beyond. The cats were in no danger of being abandoned or unloved, they were just no longer the center of our universe.

That of course led to resentment by the cats -- "Who do these squeeling pink things think they are?" -- but they got over it and actually hang out with the girls now and we no longer find plans on how to get rid of them, hidden around the house.

But now that I have experience with both, let's compare pets versus children.

The cats are easier to care for. Put food and water on the floor and clean the litter box and they are set. Of course, the girls would also like the privilege of eating off the floor. In fact, I did put bowls of water on the floor for them the other day, but they said they were puppies at the time, so it seemed appropriate. The litter box is unpleasant work, but on the other hand I've never heard the cats shout from the box when we had guests, "MOMMY! I went POOOOPY and POTTTTY!!"

Children can talk, which comes in handy. While it's not comfortable to hear "Mommy, you have a booger" in a restaurant, at least you know they are honest and sincere. Cats are not honest and sincere, and although they cannot talk they seem to be able to communicate without difficulty. A cat owner knows clearly that they are accepted or despised at any given moment. It's a blessing that they cannot talk, actually. Toby, who's not the brightest bulb, would only say, "tuna tuna tuna tuna tuna tuna" until we were forced to feed him to a tuna. Children can say, "I love you" and ask "Do angels come from eggs?" and that far outweighs anything our cats could tell us.

Cats can be amusing. They have these episodes which Darby Conley of Get Fuzzy calls the midnight crazies. For no reason known to humankind, cats will start dashing around the house, looking psychotic. I mean more than usual. Children also do this but it can happen at any given time. I've been sitting in my home office when suddenly two tiny girls dash by, one wearing a swimsuit, hula skirt and fire helmet and the other in my full slip and her daddy's wingtips (that one can dash wearing shoes large enough in which one could sit kayak-style is a wonder all by itself).

So far, the obvious is obvious. Children are superior to cats. I only dare type that because the cats don't read my blog. That I'm aware. Sera and Toby will be a beloved part of our family until the mothership takes them home, but here's the tie-breaker: My children and cats both occasionally climb into our bed with us at night and both are snuggly warm. However, when I get uncomfortable I feel no guilt in making a cat go thunk on the floor in the middle of the night. The girls get to stay, charley-horse or no.

Warm Fuzzies

Last night as we put the twinlets to bed and turned off the light, little Sydney couldn't stop hugging me. Then she kissed me over and over, put her arms around my neck, looked into my eyes and said, "You are my sweety Mommy. You are my parent angel."

**sniff, sniff** I love them!

Friday, December 02, 2005

I Can Still Be Happy


Gotta love this immunosuppressed state. Everyone is now getting well in this house, and I am now sick. At first I thought is was just herxing since I had my IV treatments on Wednesday, but now I know it's a cold. Arrrgghh!!

But today, as Sydney says, I can still be happy. I sat on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, Summerlyn at my side wrapping my arm in a cast (one of her all-purpose treatments). Sydney was sitting nearby, reading a book about King David, but said "it's really about me, when I was young." How can I not be happy in the midst of this?

Tonight, David -- he really is a nice boy, despite getting endlessly harrassed by me -- was kind and took over the care of the babes while I sat at the piano and got in the zone for over an hour. I got a major dose of endorphins. I played Christmas music, and after a particularly grandiose version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn, arranged by Mark Looney) there was silence, and then a tiny voice from the bathroom said "that was beautiful!"

I am happy and hope you are too.


Note: It's difficult to do housework in the dress I'm wearing above, but it keeps the floors shiny when I walk.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Love you, Honey!

Men are babies. Ok, this is not the beginning of an anti-men rant, but really, most wives out there know that when their man is sick, he's a baby. David's feeling better today but the past couple days he was pretty miserable. Like most women, when I'm sick I keep right on going, like a warped Energizer bunny. Must do laundry **sniff, sniff** must make food for progeny **cough, cough** must make herb tea for sick husband **near-faint episode**.

But men, when they are sick, it's (placing back of hand on forehead) "Ohhhh, dyyyinnnggg. Need massage." I used to be resentful but now I just roll my eyes. But if men don't get sympathy from you, they'll get it from somewhere else, which is exactly what happened yesterday. I could tell that he'd already had a conversation with his mother earlier when the phone rang and I answered:

"This is Mom. How are you doing?"

"Tired, but ok. Do you want to talk to your son?"

Pause. In a hushed tone normally heard standing over a hospital bed post brain surgery, "Is he able to speak?"

Rolling my eyes, I hand the phone to he who moments ago was giggling over something he saw on the Internet. He hears his mother's voice on the phone and his voice is suddenly hoarse, worn, near death, "Mom...."

Men. Gotta love 'em. Because it's not right to kick them.