Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Too Tired to Come Up With a Creative Title

I don't know how much sleep I got last night.  I do know that I went to bed a little after ten pm and got up at 6:40 am.  I also know that my son woke me up countless times last night, yelling and crying.  I say 'countless' because I stopped counting after I got up the seventh time.

As a result, I'm tired today.  Eyes burning every time I blink tired.  Keep crashing heavily into furniture because my balance is really off tired.  Having trouble making my keep-me-sane start-of-day list tired.  Takes me a full minute to answer a simple question because my cognitive processes are so delayed tired.

After getting our older son his breakfast (the younger slept in- proof that God's mercies really are new every morning), I slowly made my way up the stairs to change and wash up.  After getting dressed, I stumbled into the bathroom, squeezed toothpaste onto my toothbrush.

About fifteen seconds into my teethbrushing, I realized something was amiss.  I wasn't sure what.  I get really stupid when I'm tired, so I looked vaguely around me, trying to figure out what was going on.  There was some small part of my brain trying to communicate something important to me, but I couldn't quite decipher the message.  I continued to brush in a sluggish fashion, my eyes wandering around the bathroom, looking for inconsistencies.

Finally, a thought made it through the fog:  My toothpaste sure tastes funny this morning.

After that thought had made its way ever so slowly to my hand, I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth.  I stared at it stupidly.  Something was wrong with the appearance of it, I just knew it.  What color is my toothpaste supposed to be?  Hmmm.  Oh, yes, that's right- white.  My toothpaste is white.  Okay, what color is that stuff on my toothbrush right now?  Let's see.  It's not white.  It's... yellow.  So what's wrong here?  Ummm... white is not the same as yellow.  No, no, wait.  There should be white stuff on my toothbrush.  Not yellow stuff.  White.  So... yellow stuff on my toothbrush is not a good sign.

After this fun little internal dialogue, I turned my attention to the taste in my mouth.  In addition to the brilliant revelation of My toothpaste is white, I also came up with My toothpaste is minty.  I realized that my mouth did not taste minty.  It tasted... what was that?  Camphor?  Definitely something medicinal.

Let me go ahead and skip ahead to the part where I open the medicine cabinet to find out what's wrong with the toothpaste tube.  Let's likewise skip the part where I puzzle over the fact that the folks at Colgate have changed the name of their toothpaste to "A and D Ointment."  Let's also skip the laborious thought processes involved and the ridiculous amount of time it took to me to figure out that I had been brushing my teeth with the same ointment I slather on my children's nether regions when they have a diaper rash.

This little episode had one positive note: It shocked me awake.  I did my best to wipe all the ointment out of my mouth with a towel (because, man, that stuff really sticks to your molars), brush my teeth with actual toothpaste, and make the wise decision to stop storing the A and D Ointment right next to the toothpaste.

One hour in this everlasting, exhausting day down, half a billion to go.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Our Defense, That Reptile Is Pretty Realistic-Looking

Lately Adelaide and I have been talking about our plans for this summer.  She has a few upcoming activities, and we've been discussing those, but her main concern right now involves her friends from school.  She's afraid she won't get to see them once school lets out for summer.

It's easy for me to dismiss her concerns; as a matter of fact, that's pretty much what I've been doing.  She'll have plenty to do this summer, and I'm sure she'll see all kinds of people.

Yesterday, however, I started to think about what to post on the blog.  My last post was on Monday, and believe it or not, I try not to let too much time pass between posts.

I've been turning over a specific post in my head for the past few months.  I've been planning on writing something about a friend of mine, and wasn't exactly sure how I wanted it to go.

As I was going over different ideas, a thought struck me about this friend:  We met in preschool or Kindergarten, I can't remember which.  We were just about the same age Adelaide is now when we became friends, and I can't imagine my mom trying to keep us away from each other for an entire summer.

Several of my favorite memories of Megan involve summertime events.

I'm pretty sure it was during the summer when she had a slumber party that included a friend of ours who didn't happen to attend our little parochial school with us.  When we learned she hadn't been baptized, our little Lutheran souls cried out in panic, and we baptized her right there in Megan's basement.  Now I'm wondering if we even asked Molly if she wanted to be baptized before dumping cups of cold water over her head.  Poor Molly.

I'm thinking it was also summertime when I was again over at Megan's house one night, and we were watching an episode of Days of Our Lives she had taped during the afternoon.  (Wait, you mean all young girls don't watch daytime soap operas?  Weird.)  We were pretty enthralled with the episode, featuring a demon-possessed Marlena.  We watched right up until there was a close-up of Marlena's face- her yellow demonic eyes were the size the baseballs on Megan's parents' big-screen TV.  We decided to do something else- like make our own soap opera and video tape it- and turned it off.

I know it was during some summer or another when we were at my house, and decided to walk down the hill to the creek.  We had just reached its banks when Megan suddenly began screaming, wheeled around, and ran as fast as she could toward my house.  I looked and began screaming and running, too, until my brain caught up with my body, and I began laughing hysterically, hands braced on my knees, struggling to breathe because I was laughing so hard.  To be fair, if you saw an alligator sunning itself mere feet away from you, you'd probably freak, too.  I somehow managed to communicate to Megan that the alligator was a statue that belonged to the neighbor whose land runs parallel to the creek.  It's the only gator I've ever seen in Kansas.  We still laugh about it today.

Living two states away, I don't get to see my friend as often as I'd like, but since returning to the Midwest, we do get to see each other a couple times a year.  We laugh and catch up and she does things like paint Adelaide's toenails.  It's the kind of friend she is.

(Pardon Molly-the-doll.  In addition to being a bloodthirsty nightmare in our home, she's kind of an attention hog.)

What kind of mother would I be if I kept Adelaide from friends like that?

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Alive!

I don't understand my son.  Actually, I don't understand my entire family.

Atticus is scared of a lot of things.  Marching bands (but only the imaginary ones that lurk in his closet at night), complete darkness, the barracuda at the beginning of Finding Nemo.  

I'm okay with all that.  He's three years old.  It's natural to be scared of those things at three (well, most of those things).

My problem is I think he's scared of the wrong things.

Now, don't worry, I'm not going to get all serious and philosophical on you today.  We won't be discussing men offering candy in vans with no windows or lakes of fire.

Here's what I think should frighten him:

See that?  That is a headless doll.  Actually, this doll still has her head (a miracle given that she's been within Atticus's reach for several months now), you just can't see it.  This doll has been suspended, seemingly headless, above his bed for the past week.  The first time I saw it, I shuddered, but noticed that it didn't seem to bother Atticus.  In fact, it didn't seem to bother anyone but me.

What is wrong with them?

That is a doll- a tiny anthropomorphized creature- hanging above the place you sleep, where you're most vulnerable.  She's been hanging from her neck for a week, so you know she's gotta be pissed.  Why isn't anyone else lying awake at night, waiting to hear her tiny plastic Mary Janes treading across the carpet, seeking out her revenge?

Before you state the obvious, yes, I've thought about pulling her down from there, but honestly, I'm too scared. I've gone and freaked myself out to the point where I'm half-convinced that she's going to have a different face than Molly, the plucky World War II-era American Girl doll that she's supposed to be.  Or maybe she will have the proper head, but when I finally rescue her, it will only be to see that face contorted in rage.

Thank goodness they have me around to keep things sane around here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Noise Makers

It must be baby season.  It seems like half the people I know are either having a baby or are married to someone having a baby.

This means I've been to my fair share of baby showers recently.  Actually, it feels like more than my fair share.  I like baby showers in small doses.  One or two is fun, three or more provides more cooing and aaawwing and weird games than I can handle.

At a couple of the showers for first-time mothers, they did a "What advice would you give to the future parents?" activity.  My standard answer for these is always the same:  Buy earplugs in bulk and don't take advice from anyone unless they have a medical degree or more than six kids.

My fellow shower-goers sometimes laugh when my answer is read aloud.  I'm not sure why.  I'm quite serious, especially about the earplugs part.  I'm half-joking about whom you should ask for advice; I'll take advice from others, but only after I've inspected their children.

If our UPS man were at any of these showers, he wouldn't laugh.  He would agree with me, and maybe hand out party favors of earplugs in plain brown packages.

Okay, so maybe he wouldn't do the party favor thing, but he would definitely know what I'm talking about with the ear plugs.

I don't know how or why, but he always seems to deliver packages to our house when our children have reached their upper limit in general noise-making and cacophony.  Yesterday was no exception.

The boys and I had gone to pick Adelaide up from the bus stop after school.  She emerged from the bus holding her forearm in the very specific way that screams, "Nursemaid's Elbow!" to me.  She looked like she had been crying.  When she finally reached the wagon, she told me her arm "hurts like it's bleeding all over."  She clumsily climbed into the wagon with Caedmon, and the four of us started for home.

When our house came within view, I told Adelaide I'd fix her arm as soon as we got inside.  This started up a miserable wailing of, "No, Mommy, NO!"  Atticus got distracted by her antics, let his flip flop-shod feet step too close to the wagon, and I ran over his bare toes.  He screamed.  Caedmon decided that if his two siblings were upset, well then, he was, too, and his screeches soon joined the chorus.

We had just reached our front porch steps when I somehow heard the rumble of a truck over the clamor of our three angels.  I turned around, and sure enough, there he was:  The UPS man, coming toward us with a delivery.

He either has a family of his own, is half deaf, or just really likes kids, because I can always read amusement in his face when he finds us like this.

Better than the pity I see in the eyes of the mailman.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moby Dick

Derek got to go fishing this weekend.

In our house.


In the bathroom.

In the toilet.  With a plumber's auger.

He caught a few wads of toilet paper and one bar of soap.

We're not sure who stocked this particular body of water.  My money's on Caedmon, but it really could have been either boy.

I've heard from a number of recreational fishermen that fishing is a peaceful, relaxing pastime.  At this point, I'm inclined to disagree with them.

I'm pretty sure Derek is, too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Books, Glorious Books

At least once a week, Adelaide asks me questions about what our lives were like before she was born.  Most of civilization divides time between "BC" and "AD," but for Adelaide it's "BA"- Before Adelaide, and "AB"- After Birth.

I mean after the birth of Adelaide.  Not actual afterbirth.  Ew.

One of her favorite topics is that of me working.  She seems fascinated by the thought of my having a job and being involved in something that had nothing to do with her.  As a result, I tell her all about what kinds of things I did and what kind of people I came in contact with.

I worked in a bookstore.  I tell her about being surrounded by books every day and working with people who love books.  We both sigh in contentment at the thought.

I tell her that someone once compared the employees of this bookstore to the Island of Misfit Toys.  It was filled with slightly socially awkward people chortling over geek humor and trying not to judge the parents buying "Gossip Girl" books for their young, fragile daughters.

I felt like I fit right in.

I knew I was going to enjoy working with my fellow bibliophiles when loading a bookcase with the then-current best-seller The Da Vinci Code.

I had read the book, and listened in confusion as so many people around me- even those who read a lot of books and have good taste in fiction- lauded the story and gushed about how great it was.

I didn't get it.  Part of the problem is that I prefer character-driven stories.  I don't care how intricately knotted your plot is, if you populate your book with flat, cardboard characters, I'm not going to like it, because I'm not going to care what happens to the people in it.  Hence my distaste for The Da Vinci Code.

I had just finished straightening my display when one of my new co-workers paused as she walked by, tapped the cover of the book, and said, "What a load of crap, huh?"

We got along swimmingly.

I also appreciated the opportunity to work with customers who loved books.  Of course, not everyone who walks into a bookstore loves to read, but even they appreciated help and were considerate.

Except for that one contingent.  Let's call them a subgenre, given our topic.  They were the ones who would respond to your offer of help by immediately declaring, "Oh, I don't read," in a voice dripping with disdain, which would invariably prompt the thought, Right.  Because why would you want to raise what is obviously a hopelessly low IQ?

Now, I realize that not everyone loves books.  That's okay.  Some people prefer television or Twister or pinochle.  But don't come into a bookstore and make it clear that you think of yourself as above me in some phantasmagorical hierarchy you've created, okay?  It's rude.

I try to leave that kind of stuff out when I'm talking to Adelaide.  She doesn't need her mother's baggage along with her own.

Speaking of baggage, have I told you about her newest fear?  It's a little thing called first grade, and she has convinced herself that it's going to be just horrible.  She was fine until she discovered that her Kindergarten teacher will not, in fact, be accompanying her throughout elementary school with the sole purpose of educating Adelaide Crisler.  I tell ya, the nerve of some people...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Thoughts

As we knew it would be, it was an extremely busy weekend.  As a result, my mental processes are all discombobulated and my thoughts are scattered.  I feel like if I could just catch hold of one, I'd be able to pin it down and work it into something coherent.

Since that doesn't seem likely, how about a fun list to help me make some sense of what's going on in my head?  And you lucky dogs can come along for the ride.

  • We (and by "we," I mean Derek and his dad) ripped the cabinets out of our kitchen.  We discovered a couple layers of awesome wallpaper, awesome linoleum, plaster, scary holes, and wood paneling.  I'd love to see what this kitchen looked like in the 60's; if the wallpaper and flooring are any indication, I'd say pretty darn amazing.  And by amazing I mean incredibly ugly.

  • When Derek's parents generously offered to give us the cabinets out of their rental property that had burned down (well, except for the kitchen, of course), I said, "Yes, please!"  Do you know how much kitchen cabinets cost?  Well, neither do I, but I do hear they're really freaking expensive.  

  • Although the cabinets made it through the fire, they are coated in a thin layer of soot, which is not so surprisingly difficult to get off.  After watching my old standby of vinegar and water fail miserably, I was contemplating using an actual manufactured cleaner (gasp!), when I decided to try give my magic eraser a try.  Let me tell you what, the person that named that product was no marketing genius; those things seriously have some kind of magical properties- I wouldn't be surprised to find that J.K. Rowling herself had written them into existence.  

  • After Derek's parents stayed way later than they intended, re-hooking up our dishwasher, sink, etc, they finally headed back to Kansas.  Ten minutes after they left, Caedmon found a container of screws and created two large piles of them- one on the floor in front of the back door, the other by the front door.  I can't help but feel that this was no accident, and that the poor child may have inherited some of his mother's paranoia.  His sharp screw-booby trap reminded me rather forcefully of my sister's- only hers involved upside-down shoes, sharp high heels pointing upward to ward off any intruders.  While I won't say precisely which parent we inherited this tendency from, I will say it's not my mom that sleeps with a gun under her pillow.

  • I was again reminded of just how useless I am when it comes to home improvement.  I'm terrible with power tools and have a tendency to break things.  My major contributions to the weekend involved sweeping the floor every ten minutes in an effort to appear useful and whimpering every time Derek asked me to go down to the basement for something.

  • What does the expression, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" mean?  What's a gift horse?  Is it like the Easter bunny, breaking into your house to leave you unhealthy gifts, or more like the tooth fairy, giving you money in exchange for body parts?  Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Shortly after midnight last night, Adelaide woke Derek and me up by knocking on our bedroom door, crying softly.  She said her ear hurt and she couldn't sleep due to the pain.  I gave her some Tylenol, water, and sympathy, and tucked her back into bed.  After eventually falling back asleep, I had a nightmare, in which I took Adelaide to the doctor the next morning, and when he inspected her ear, instead of an infection, he found a cancerous tumor.  After a drawn-out illness, Adelaide died.  I woke to a sopping wet pillowcase; I had been crying in my sleep.  When we actually went to the doc this morning, there was no tumor in her ear.  Nor was there any infection.

  • Derek's folks also took our children home after the first church service Sunday morning, which allowed me to sit with Derek in the video room during second service while he directed the video broadcast of our church's Easter service.  It was the closest thing we've had to a date since last November.  

  • Garage sale season has once again begun.  I've already found some really cool- and really cheap, which only adds to its cool factor- stuff.  I won't bore you with the details.  Not today, anyway.  I'll save that for another post that you can already plan on skipping now.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Most Brilliant Parenting Move Yet

Because we have an exceedingly busy weekend ahead of us, I spent a portion of last night stuffing our children's Easter baskets.

Aside from the semi-healthy treats like fruit strips and those vacuum-packed foils of pureed fruit that Caedmon can suck dry in thirty seconds flat, their totes are mostly filled with the requisite hollow plastic eggs.  Each child received a couple balloons, a bouncy ball, and some yogurt-covered raisins in a few of those.

The rest of the eggs are filled with prunes.

Now, before you start shaking your head and feeling sorry for our kids, hear me out.  Prunes have a lot going for them.  They're all kinds of healthy, reasonably sweet, and come in these handy individually-wrapped packages, so that the inside of the eggs don't get all sticky.  Plus you know those kids are going to need something to keep them regular after all that junk they'll get everywhere else.

Convinced yet?  Then let me share the rest of my reasoning behind the prune-stuffed Easter eggs.

It all boils down to the fact that I'm kind of regretting introducing our kiddos to the concept of the Easter bunny.  And no, it's not because I hate rabbits (well, not just because of that).  It's because when you're trying to keep your kids' minds on the real reason for Easter- Jesus- it's really hard to compete with candy and a giant rabbit just scary enough to make him exciting.

Obviously, I should have thought all this through when Adelaide was still very young.  But when you have your first kid, you're not thinking straight.  Holidays get an extra dose of excitement because you can't wait to introduce your brand new kid to all those fun traditions you remember enjoying as a child.

I remember Adelaide's first Easter; my head was full of my favorite Easter dresses and Easter goodies, particularly the basket that contained an actual Barbie doll that I received the Easter we were at Grandma's house.  Why is it the Easter bunny is always so much more generous when you're at Grandma's house?  It's a mystery.

Suddenly, it's five years later, you have not one, but three Easter baskets to fill, and you just can't bring yourself to fill it with things that will make your offspring love a huge garden pest.  So you fill it with prunes.

And if your kid looks at their friends' baskets and starts asking, "Why didn't the Easter bunny bring me all that stuff?  Why doesn't the Easter bunny like me?" your ready-made answer can be something along the lines of, "That Easter bunny is a fickle fellow.  And honey, while the Easter bunny may not like you, Jesus always loves you."

Sounds like a plan guaranteed not to blow up in my face.

Even I, however, felt a modicum of guilt over stuffing my little darlings' buckets with dried plums, so I also stuck a big specially-shaped slab of chocolate in the older two's baskets.  Not in the shape of bunnies, though, oh, no.  Our kids' chocolate is in the shape of an ichthys and reads, "Jesus."

Because what says, "Happy Easter!" better than Jesus chocolate?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Full of Hot Air

We first moved to our little town in central Iowa the first of June, almost three years ago.  It wasn't a particularly tumultuous summer, weather-wise, but for some reason, the tornado sirens were going off at least once a week- and I'm talking about outside of the weekly drills, before any smart alecks pounce on that.

It usually occurred during a storm, prompting us to check the radar for twisters, and once even scooping our two sleeping children out of their beds to carry them down to the glorified root cellar we refer to as our basement.

It wasn't always stormy when we heard the familiar wail of the sirens, however, and we were befuddled.  It got to the point where we started ignoring the sirens, a dangerous practice.

One day that summer the kids and I were playing in the front yard when our neighbor drove by.  She slowed and rolled her window down, yelling, "Hey guys!" over the sirens that were once again blaring.

I yelled back, "Is there a tornado headed our way?  I wasn't aware we were in for any severe weather today."

Right about then the sirens wound down, and our kind neighbor was able to explain that those aren't tornado sirens; they're high-wind sirens.  They go off any time we have high winds in our area.

Then she asked, "Do you get a lot of wind down in Kansas?"

To my credit, I checked the belly laughs about to come rumbling up out of my mouth, and merely smiled and said, "Yes.  Yes, we do."  In her defense, I'm pretty positive she's never been to my home state.  This may come as a shock to you, but Kansas is long on wheat and cows but short on tourism.

Here's the thing:  Kansas is indeed windy.

I remember watching two-year-old Adelaide try to stand up in the driveway at Derek's parents' house, who live out in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas.  She kept getting knocked down by the wind, over and over again, before finally giving up and just crawling over to me.

It's the kind of place that sells little wooden dolls with wild, knotted hair and kitschy sayings on their bellies like, "Just Another Windy Day in Kansas."

It's the third-windiest state in the union, behind North Dakota and Texas.  The windiest city in the nation is not Chicago, but Dodge City, Kansas.

I can't imagine having a high-wind siren in my hometown; I doubt a day would go by that it wasn't blaring.

Now, to be fair, Iowa also gets its share of wind; it rounds out the top ten windiest states in America, a list comprised exclusively of states that make up a strip down the middle of the continental U.S.

Having grown up in a place where you get blown around a lot, I enjoy a good windy day.  I also enjoy wind maps, and I recently stumbled upon a really cool one that shows real-time wind patterns across our country.  You'll notice that Kansas is right in the morass of white lines that make up tornado alley.  This map also allows you to zoom in and see wind speeds in different areas. Click here to check it out.

A quick disclaimer with that map:  I don't know how accurate it is, but it does have a link on there that will take you to a more traditional wind map, which is also pretty neat to check out.  Also, it works best if you view it when using Google Chrome as your browser.  FYI.

Looking at this map also drives home the reasoning for Derek's preference for golfing anywhere other than Kansas; apparently it becomes to difficult to direct a small ball towards a hole when the wind keeps blowing it off course.

Note:  I wrote this post yesterday, before a bunch of tornadoes- some reports state as many as 13-  ripped their way through Texas.  Our prayers are with everyone effected by this newest rash of twisters.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Updated Miscellany/ A Miscellaneous Update

Any number of times over the past few weeks, I have been asked about the status of a few specific topics we've discussed on this blog.

So, as per your request, here is an update on Atticus's nighttime crying, my youngest sister and her husband (you know, the ones who went through that tornado), and, most importantly, my tulips.

Why don't we go ahead and talk about the tulips- that way you're not distracted while reading the rest of this post.


They made it!  Even though those rabbits ate them right down to the ground, they persevered and grew tall enough to bloom.  This right here is proof that good can triumph over evil.

Well, that and Jesus triumphing over the Devil.  But I think my tulips vs rabbits is a pretty apt illustration, too.

Moving on to Atticus.  He's still not sleeping through the night.  He went three nights in a row sleeping all night long last week, which would have lulled me into complacency were I not the type of person that keeps their expectations nice and low.  I find that life has fewer nasty surprises that way.

Rest assured (pun intended), he's now waking up at least once a night, leaving me in a fog of fatigue during the day.  I'm going to go ahead and use that as an excuse for any unusual behavior you've ever noticed in me.  I'm sure that's what it is.

As for Steph and Clinton, it's official (at least according to the folks at the insurance company):  It was a tornado that peeled the roof off their house, picked it up and shifted it on its foundation, sucked out a part of a barn, and twisted the tree trunks in their yard.

I went with Steph to look at the house during our trip south a few weeks ago.  It was pretty freaky.  I meant to take pictures, but forgot my camera.  At least I got photos of my flowers, right?  I obviously have my priorities straight. 

Steph is now six weeks from her due date.  Steph and Clinton are staying with members of his generous family- and by generous I mean a willingness to give to others without expecting reciprocation, not generous as in big in numbers- although that's true, too.  Glad we cleared that up.

They're still trying to figure out exactly where to go and, you know, live.  Tornadoes are really good at messing things up, aren't they?

Yet another reason you read this blog:  Painful statements of the obvious.

So, there you go:  Atticus is still crying and depriving his parents of sleep, my sister and her husband are homeless, but my tulips conquered their foe Rabbit and kept me from resorting to tactics that would scare the neighbors.