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Archive for July, 2010

Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I woke Addison up at 1:00am and took him for a midnight swim. This morning he told me I’m the coolest mom he’s ever had, but could we just swim during the day from now on?

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End of Summer

I feel the sun burning my scalp and wish I’d taken the time to pull a baseball cap from somewhere in the depths of my messy closet.   I halfheartedly tug at some hair in an attempt to cover the skin exposed by my part, and lean further into the shade of the umbrella.  Shielding my eyes with the back of my hand, I watch as my son is splashing in the sparkling ice blue pool,  shrieking with delight at the prospect of his daddy throwing him through the late summer air and into the water again and again.  He is almost 5 and he will be starting kindergarten next week.  My heart is torn, wavering somewhere between cherishing these last innocent moments of summer with him, and breaking into tiny pieces at the dawning of realization that he won’t be my baby much longer.

A drop of water lands on my foot, as he splashes in the pool with his dad.  The coolness of it startles me, much like the impending start of his school caught me unaware.  I thought we still had so much time, so long before I had to share him with the rest of the world.  I thought this time was so far off, and yet, it came without a warning, without me even noticing its fast approach.  How had the time passed so quickly, when it seems I just held him in my arms for the first time, not so long ago at all?

I look at the little boy, his baby brother, playing at my feet.  He has sticky popsicle on his lips and and a dump truck on his shirt.  Dirt is etched in his fingernails and there is a scab on his knee.  I reach over and pull him into my lap so I can breathe in his scent of grass and playground dirt, sugar snacks and little boy sweat.  Can I do it right with him?  Can I savor every moment, somehow not waste a day of the little bit of time before he follows his big brother, and steps out into the world as well?

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There Was a Time

There was a time when I slept past ten every morning.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember how much I love snuggling with my boys in the early mornings, before the day gets their attention.

There was a time when I wore high heels and French Manicures.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember how the kids laugh when I push them on the swings, and that flip-flops and sneakers make me uber-stylish in their minds.

There was a time when I had the time to read any book I wanted.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember that life lessons can be learned from Dr. Seuss, too, and he’s quite entertaining.

There was a time when I was a perfect size 6.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember that my body changed because it grew my beautiful babies, and because I love ice cream so much, and then I think that maybe the trade off wasn’t so bad.

There was a time when I could drop everything at a moment’s notice in search of a sunny adventure in a tropical destination.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember that taking three kids to the grocery store takes just about all the energy I have, and for now, that is more than enough adventure for me.

There was a time when I would have front row seats and backstage passes at sold out concerts.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember how much fun it is to watch the kids dance and listen to them sing, and suddenly the best seat in the house is the one they choose for me.

There was a time when my nights were just getting started around 10 o’clock.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember how great it is to be home with my husband, watching the 10 o’clock news in our comfy cozy bed.

There was a time when I thought I knew all the answers.  Sometimes I miss that.

  • But then I remember how much I have learned and grown in the past 36 years, and I’m glad that I often don’t know if I am coming or going.  That’s what makes my life so worth it.

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Addison’s Fishing Wand

Patrick came home early from work to take the boys fishing.  Apparently Addison doesn’t quite have the lingo yet, as he told me he couldn’t wait to get to the lake to catch some fish with his new fishing wand.  For those of you who know him, isn’t that just the perfect picture of him?  Waving his fishing wand over the water and truly believing….

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Our summers are always chock full of visits from friends and family.  It is our social season.  The kids love having the extra playmates, and people to show-off for.  I love that they have built-in entertainment.  Patrick likes that the house is kept reasonably clean because someone is almost always due to arrive.  And he loves an excuse to have the fridge stocked with beer, and even better, an excuse to crack one open.

But this summer, I have a dilemma.  What do you do when uninvited and unwelcome visitors show up, seemingly ready to stay for the long haul?  What do you do when you don’t feel it is safe for your children to play with their children?  What do you do when you feel like you can’t turn your back for a second because they may hurt one of your kids, or destroy some of your property?  What do you do when they don’t speak English, and you don’t speak their language, and you can’t quite figure out how to tell them to leave in a way that will send them packing, but not get into a scuttle with them before they go?  What do you do when these unwanted guests are of the four-legged variety?

If you haven’t already figured this out, I am talking about bears, and oh yes, cougars.  You may have read my previous post in which our dear friend ‘Sam’ first put two and two together about the wild life at our house (and I don’t mean the kids).  In the years that we have lived here, I have always had a very casual approach to the close proximity of black bears.  They never really worried me.  But I have always said that the day I hear of a cougar sighting, I will strongly consider packing up and moving back into town.

Well, that day came a week ago Sunday, and it wasn’t just a sighting.  Apparently, a huge cougar (the witness estimates it to be over 400 lbs.  Is that even possible?!) attacked a horse on the other side of the hill from us.  The horse barely survived, and had to have multiple surgeries and required 85 stitches to close up the gash from a swipe of the cat’s paw.  Fish and Wildlife issued the standard warnings, and also commented on the unusual attack.  They said it was rare that a cougar would attack such a large animal when, sad as it may be, there is an abundance of baby dear available for the killing this time of year.  Especially odd was that the cat was not deterred by the incessant barking of the neighbors’ dogs, and the eventual shouts and commotion of the horse’s owners.  It did eventually give up, and jump down from the horse’s back to saunter off into the woods, but not after a lack of trying.

Fish and Wildlife also made mention of  bear in the area (our little cub wasn’t included) that are much more aggressive than they have been in past years.  Apparently, the state is trying to generate revenue by doing extensive logging to the Yacolt Burn Forest area just adjacent to Livingston Mountain.  This is displacing the resident wildlife, and they are thus becoming more apparent.  Our neighbor at the top of our hill told me that in the past 10 days, they have seen black bear, or evidence of, six different times in their yard.  Apparently, one stole the groceries out of another neighbor’s car while she was carrying her small child into the house.  They are making their way into garages and sheds.  Helping themselves to crumbs left on the BBQ grill.  Searching out birdfood, dogfood, catfood, and garbage.  They don’t even flinch at the barking of large dogs, and seem to bravely lurk in the shadows waiting for humans to step away from a food source.  They aren’t particularly shy this year.

We’ve done our part to discourage their visits.  We roll the grill into the shop after each use and cleaning.  We feed the animals inside the garage.  We know not to put birdseed out past March.  Our garbage goes out just before collection time.  We don’t leave food outside after our picnics.  But still they come.  And now that there is a cougar in the area, I am scared to have the kids be more than 5 feet away from me.  What’s the point of living in the country if your kids can’t run freely?  What would you do?  Live and let live, or put the house up for sale?

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We’ve been cooped up in our house for what seems like an eternity.  So this morning we decided to take the boys to the beach for the day.  They love everything about the beach, from the cheesy souvenir trinkets in the shop windows, to the rickety carnival style rides, the infinite number of candy stores, and of course, the beach itself.  To them,  going to the beach is second only to Disneyland.

We stopped for lunch in Cannon Beach before heading to the tourist laden walks of Seaside.  At the restaurant, I was keenly aware of the fact that I was the mom who gives all moms a bad name.  You know, that mom everyone rolls their eyes at, and loudly, obnoxiously whispers about.  Yes, that mom.  That was me.  But I prefer to think of myself as smart, proactive, and empathetic to the feelings of others.  Just because I let my two year old lay on the floor beneath the table while he ate his lunch does not mean I am a bad mother.  To the contrary, I am a wise woman who knows her children well, and chooses her battles carefully.  I knew my choices were 1) to listen to said two year old scream if I forced him to sit politely at the table; 2) to sit out in the car and eat cold clam chowder in a styrofoam to go bowl with a plastic spoon while said two year old screamed from the constraints of his car seat, or 3) to sit at the table and enjoy a hot, leisurely meal while ignoring said two year old beneath the table, and all rolled eyeballs of other patrons.  What none of those other people realized was that I was doing them all a great favor.  Not only did my child stay quiet, I gave them all something to talk about while they waited for their own meals.  Now, wasn’t that nice of me?

Once we arrived in Seaside, we headed immediately for that adorable, albeit tediously slow, little ride-on train.  I kicked myself for forgetting the camera, because the kids were to die for cute while riding that little chugger.  Next, the Bumper Cars, which I planned to sit out.  I hate the bumper cars.  And I say that with the utmost conviction.  But then the punk 15 year old running the ride said each child had to ride with an adult, and no matter how many times I tried counting our kids, I kept coming up with two.  So I had to go, or face the mother of all two year old temper tantrums.  Did I mention I hate the bumper cars?  Ugh.  Three minutes and an eternity later, my whiplash and I wobbled off that ride and onto the Tilt-a-Whirl.  Just as the same punk 15 year old who was now running this ride lowered our lap bar, Patrick and I turned to look at each other, and both seemed to have the same, horrid thought.

It was at that exact moment, a moment that came just slightly too late for us to take action, that we both had flashbacks of our previous week.  During the past week, at any given time, at least one person in our home has had the stomach flu.  It started while Patrick’s life-long best friend was here from out of town with his two children (so sorry, K!).  Addison was the first to throw up, and within an hour, Hayden joined him, and the two passed the torch so to speak for the next 24 hours.  The amazing thing about children is that they don’t seem to know they are sick until they are in the actual act of vomiting.  And then as soon as they are cleaned up from that, they are ready to play again, as though nothing ever happened to take them away from that play in the first place.

The following night, Patrick was struck with it, and spent the entire next day in bed.  Believe me, there was no play for him between bouts!  Just as he was feeling better, poor Peyton, who had been such a wonderful nursemaid to her brothers, joined the ranks.  And last but by no means least, it hit mommy.  What I wouldn’t have given to have the ignorance the kids had.  If only I hadn’t known how sick I was.  I’m telling you, it was like being pregnant minus the perks.  And I don’t do pregnant well.

But leave it to us to remember these little details just as we have piled our family into a whirling, spinning odyssey of vertigo.  Again, the resilience of children amazes me.  The boys laughed and screamed, and threw their hands in the air.  Patrick and I each gripped the lapbar with white knuckles, and tried to breathe deeply as we were hurtled, jerked, jostled and spun to within an inch of our lives.  I’m not sure which of us was more green, but Patrick’s complexion closely resembled the pallor of the Wicked Witch of the West.

After peeling ourselves out of our seats at the end of the ride and crawling out to the sidewalk and fresh air, we were being pulled by little hands toward the merglee round.  Thank God the punk 15 year old didn’t follow us down there to insist we ride with the kids on that one as well.  Patrick spent a good while in the bathroom, while I doled out money to the ride operator to keep the kids going, so I could catch my breath and my balance.  Next, the candy shop for a huge bag of taffy, and then finally, the beach.

The boys were in heaven as they played in front of the surf.  They built castles that looked like mounds of sand, buried each other up to their necks, ran, and played, and squealed with delight.  When at last we piled them into the car for the drive back home, they each had little delighted, contented smiles on their faces, along with heavy, drooping eyes.  As I looked back at them over my shoulder, snuggled in their blankies and soundly sleeping in their seats, I knew that even the Bumper Cars and Tilt-a-Whirl were totally worth this day of memories.

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July 4,  2010

We have a group of very, very dear friends with whom we have the tradition of spending every Fourth of July together.  There are four families with a total of  eight children all between the ages of 2 and 7.  The kids run wild in the back, dashing from sprinklers to playground to pool, screaming and laughing all the while.  The adults sit back and talk, eat, laugh, drink, and be merry.  All but one of us, that is.  I’ll call this friend Sam, because to use his real name may lead to a cyber-stalker, identity theft, or God only knows what else.

Sam is the doting father of a nearly five year old little girl.  He so obviously cherishes his daughter, and loves to spend time with her.  Sam is the kind of man that men, women, and children are all instantly drawn to.  He has a twinkle in his eye, a warm and caring heart, and really listens to your answer when he asks how you’ve been.  But to the chagrin of his wife, and the entertainment of his friends, he also tends to worry.  A lot.  About all sorts of things that would never normally cross the minds of most.

He only recently discovered that we have a creek on our property.  All these years of coming out here, and somehow that slipped his hyper-vigilant notice.  His face went three shades of pale when I casually mentioned something about the foliage around the creek being overgrown this year.  “You have a, a, a creek?” he stuttered, sweat beginning to dot his brow.  Uh-oh.  I quickly began to back pedal.  “Well, Sam, really it’s more of a ditch.  I mean most of the year it just trickles.  And it’s so overgrown right now, the children couldn’t even reach it.  Really.”  You see, I was making the mistake of thinking the most obvious explanation for his panic — that one of the kids may fall in the creek and end up drowning.  But Sam is far more creative than that.

“So you have, um…  I mean, so there’s, um…  Wild Life here?”,  he panted, his hand covering his heart.

Oh great.  He’s going to have a heart attack!  Quickly, I tried to reassure him, but ultimately just gave him more to worry about.  “Well, of course we have deer.  Lots of baby deer this summer.  And bunnies.  Really cute little bunnies.  They hop and play in the yard most mornings.  And birds….  Some really pretty birds…”

“So you have bears, and, and cougars?”, he gasped.

“Oh gosh, no.  There hasn’t been a cougar sighting here in nearly 20 years.  And the bears, well they’re shy, and more afraid of  humans than we are of them.  They don’t cause any trouble.  And I don’t think anyone has even seen any yet this year…”  I immediately found myself talking to thin air, as Sam was out back rounding up all the kids to come play inside.

“Great,” his wife exclaimed.  “He’s never going to let us come out here again.  That’s the end of Thursday playdates and Fourth of July at your house!”

Ever the diligent hostess (NOT!), I stammered, “Um, maybe I’ll just freshen up his beer.  He’s not driving, is he?  No?  Okay, I’ll just top this off for him a bit.  And do you think he might want a margarita, too?  Or how about a shot…?”

July 5,  2010

It’s dusk as we turn into our tree-lined driveway.  The kids are all in the back seat watching a video.  Patrick and I are in conversation.  The world seems good.  And then we see the cutest little bear cub dash in front of the car.  Some things just aren’t worth mentioning to Sam.

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