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Archive for the ‘This and That’ Category

There are several rooms in our house that I very rarely enter.  One happens to be our guest bathroom, which for some unknown reason had become Peyton’s bathroom of choice.  We kept all the bathroom doors closed because Hayden had a huge affinity for water, and also, I once discovered Addison drinking a cup of water that I had not given him.  When I asked where he got it, he very proudly told me that he was a big boy now, and could get his own water from the toilet.  Yep, I was raising dogs.  Just take a swig out of the toilet if you’re thirsty! 

Anyway, we were having friends out for a BBQ, so I opened the door to the bathroom, planning to give it a quick once over since I thought it hadn’t been used since the last time I had cleaned it.  As I turned on the light, I blinked my eyes several times because I thought I might have had some strange migraine thing that makes you see smudges, rather than spots.  Dark brown, dried, crusty smudges.  But no, it was not a migraine (though I wish it was).  You can imagine what my next thought was.  Shit.  Literally and figuratively.  Not a space had been spared.  The walls were covered in thick, brown, dried yuck.  The sink, the faucets, the toilet, the step stool (no pun intended), the soap dispenser, the hand towel, EVERYTHING!!! 

Upon closer inspection, I was HUGELY relieved to discover that the “crap” was actually dried chocolate frosting from a bribery cupcake I had given Peyton the last time she was with us (You know, “If you please do this, I’ll give you a cupcake decorated like a doggy.  Please, please, please do it, and I’ll give you anything you want.  Please!).  I have never in my life been so happy to clean a bathroom covered in dried chocolate frosting as I was that day!

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Alone in the Dark

Some of my girlfriends and I have been trying to get together for ages.  It was getting to the point that I was beginning to wonder if our preschoolers would be graduating high school before we could make it happen.  But this past Wednesday, the stars finally aligned, and we were all set to meet for dinner at 7pm.

Normally, that’s just about the time we are beginning the bedtime ritual (or lack of) around here.  The yelling, “For the last time, get in there and brush your teeth!  I mean it!  NOW!” and “Guys!  QUIET!  You are supposed to be settling down, not winding up.  Hayden, get down from there!  Addison, stop encouraging him!  Seriously, Hayden!  Somebody is about to get hurt!  Knock it off!  One…Two…  Okay.  Now lay down.  Patrick, WHERE ARE YOU?!”

Surely, you can imagine my disappointment at having to miss our evening family time.  But like any good mother proficient in the art of self-sacrifice, I sucked it up and left the boys and their daddy to have that glorious together time without me.

Yee Haw!  Could that timing have been anymore perfect?!!

In my haste, ahem, I mean reluctance to leave the house and my family, I may have accidentally left a wee bit on the early side.  Oh well.

The tire pressure indicator light was illuminated on my dashboard, so I drove toward one of the two gas stations in town that still offer free air.  I would fill the tire, head to the restaurant, and be there exactly on time.  Perfect!

I pulled around to the side of the gas station, and maneuvered my car in such a way to be able to easily yank the air hose toward the tire.  In the very, very back of my mind I considered that this put me even less in public view than the already out of the way location of the pump, but I just wanted to hurry and get done so I could get to the restaurant.

The air was crisp, and the night was dark.  There was just enough light for me to see my breath as I knelt to attach the hose to the tire, which I was attempting to do more by feel than by sight.  But then, luck must have been on my side, as a car pulled up, shining just enough light in my direction for me to better see what I was doing.  Now I figured I had even more reason to hurry, as someone else was waiting to fill their own tire.

The car was a little beat up, on the older side, and a bit rusty.  The man that stepped out of the car matched the same description.  As he opened the back passenger door and reached inside for something on the back seat, I chuckled to myself at the irony of me finally getting a night out, just to end up abducted, or killed before even making it to see my friends.  But I wasn’t really thinking that was going to happen.  Mostly, I was just kind of joking with myself.  At least until the man straightened up again, and stood before me, a long object at his side.

My eyes took a moment to focus on the long, wooden mallet he was holding.  When he spoke, I had to drag my eyes up to his face, and again, half giggled to myself at the absurdity of the situation.  It would make the perfect plot for any of this season’s new primetime crime dramas.  A girl on her knees, filling a tire, a man towering above her with a wooden mallet.

“The only free thing left in this town,” he said.

Assuming he meant the air, I replied, “Yes, but you have to drive all over town to find it.”

“Sure do,” he mumbled as he leaned back into his car.  For what?  Duck Tape?  Rope?  A shovel?

“OH! COME ON!!!  Seriously, this is how I’m going out?  After 36 years, and everything I’ve been through, this is how it’s going to happen?  Really, God?  Really?!”,  I silently shouted.

But staying true to my personality, and my penchant for not wanting to hurt a complete stranger’s feelings by showing my discomfort in his presence, rather than run for the hills and scream bloody murder, I calmly finished filling the tire, twisted on the cap, and rose to return the hose.

And that’s when he again came out of the car, straightened up, and my eyes saw it.  The wooden stake.  Attached to an election sign.

“Well, goodnight, ma’am.”  He tilted his scruffy baseball cap toward me, and then walked toward the edge of the lot to hammer in his sign.

The knife in my heart at being called ma’am twisted sharply as I got into my car, and drove to meet my friends.

Apparently, more time has passed than I thought!

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If the checkout lady at the supermarket smiles at you warily, and you take that as an invitation to tell her your life story, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If you find yourself shouting to Dora, “It’s the right path.  The RIGHT Path!  The one WITHOUT the snakes!”, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If you own makeup that expired the same year your 5 year old was born, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If anticipating Gymboree’s newest line release is the most excitement you’ve had in nearly a lifetime, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If your two year old pulls a pair of heels out from the depths of your closet and asks you, “Wha’s dat, Mommy?” because he has never seen any shoes other than flip flops grace your feet, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If you have to think for a moment to remember your husband’s first name because you’ve been calling him Daddy for so long, you may need a mommy’s night out.

If you have to think for a moment to remember your own first name, you most definitely need a mommy’s night out.

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Addison informed us Friday evening of last week that we would be going to the zoo the next morning.  He was completely matter of fact, as though this was something we had all been talking about and planning for weeks.  Patrick says he is going to grow up to be one of those tour directors.  You know, the ones that take our grandparents parents (hey, when did they get so old?) on the guided bus tours through Alaska, or Europe, or wherever.  If he does go in that vocational direction, I have my fingers crossed that he will at least work on a cruise ship.  In the Caribbean.  And be able to get his parents on for free.  In a luxury balcony suite.  With free spa treatments.  And lobster dinners.  And decadent desserts.  Oops, sorry.  There I go again, letting my imagination get away from me.

Ahem.  So back to Addison and our trip to the zoo.

As I was saying, he had our whole day planned out for us, and it didn’t appear that we had any say in the matter.  So Saturday morning, we found ourselves headed into the city to see some wild animals at the zoo.

The Oregon Zoo is beautiful, and they seem to be continually working to improve it.  We’ve had a membership since Addison was a baby, and have enjoyed it in all seasons.  Our favorite time of year to go, though, happens to be in December, for Zoo Lights.  The entire zoo is decorated gaily with Christmas lights and we ride the train through, bundled up in thick layers to ward off the freezing night air.

A couple few years ago, they opened The Great Northwest Exhibit, which includes among several other exhibits, Black Bear Ridge.  It is here that you are almost guaranteed to have spectacular views of several black bear and bobcats in their ‘natural’ habitat.   There is a viewing area in which you may find yourself literally staring into the eyes of a 600 pound black bear, mere inches from your face, separated by a thick sheet of glass (or something).  It is truly astounding.

As soon as we arrived at the zoo, Addison made a dash for the Cascade Canyon Trail, which winds its way through Black Bear Ridge, Eagle Canyon, Cascade Stream and Pond, and ends at the Trillium Creek Family Farm.  Addison was a boy on a mission, I tell you.  He didn’t even glance at the bobcats.  As we passed the magnificent bears, he tugged on my arm.  “Come on, Mom.  Let’s keep going!  Dad!  Hurry up!!!”  And Hayden kept an even pace with his big brother.  They had their minds set on something, and it wasn’t the spectacular bald eagle we could touch if we dared slip our fingers through the mesh of the exhibit.  Or the beavers splashing in the pond, or even the baby ducklings following their mama in the most adorable little line.

“Mom,” Addison said with the thickest exasperation at my apparent lack of speed, “Come on!  We can see bears and cougars at our house any time we want to!  Hurry up!  We want to go sit on the tractor!”

So we had left our home in the country and drove all the way into the big city, just to sit on a tractor.

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As I walked into my bedroom this afternoon, I was astonished to discover a leggy, large busted, skinny waisted, strawberry blond hiding under the bed covers.  So astonished, in fact, I stopped in my tracks, vigorously rubbed at my eyes, and then slowly turned around, fully expecting to find that I was being either delusional or overly imaginative at the very least.  Surely my eyes had deceived me!  Instead, my jaw hit the floor as I saw that the Barbie in my bed was indeed, not a figment of my imagination.

My mind raced, trying to come up with an explanation for this other woman to be claiming my bed as her own.  I have two boys.  When did they start playing with Barbie?  Where had she come from?  How did she get here?  Who put her in my bed, and rested her disproportionate head on my pillow?  My niece was here last week, and Addison’s best little friend who happens to be a girl was here the other day.  I didn’t recall either of them bringing any toys with them, though.  And Peyton hasn’t been here for ages, and I’m almost positive that she doesn’t have any Barbies here, preferring instead Littlest Petshop, Polly Pocket, Groovy Girls, and the boys’ toys.  But it couldn’t have been any of them anyway, as I was the only girl in my bed this morning when we all woke up.

Crap.  If my boys are playing with Barbies, should I be concerned that they are playing with dolls rather than mock machine guns and fire crackers?  Or does this now mean that I need to worry about them developing low self-esteem and poor body images?  Oh wait, I guess perhaps I really need to start worrying about them idolizing an unrealistic body type and expecting that this is how their future girlfriends will look.

I step back and consider her for a moment.  Then I tentatively reach for her and pick her up.  My sister and I didn’t have Barbies when we were growing up — our mother wasn’t fond of her.  I twirled her hair in my fingers, then swept it up to a french twist before letting it fall back to her shoulders.  I adjusted her dress, which was beginning to ride a bit high, and in doing so, saw that she was wearing panties, but no bra.  I pulled off a stiletto, then carefully put it back on her impossibly arched foot.  I twisted her legs until she was doing a perfect split, tilted her head, and made note of her large, doe-eyed expression.  Her neck, so slim and long, appears to have room for only one or the other — her trachea or esophagus.  From the looks of her, she opted to breathe rather than eat.

I carried her with me as I walked over to our mirror.  I held her out beside me, and looked us both up and down.  Is it really possible that my boys would look at this doll, and decide that she represents an ideal beauty?  Would playing with her cause them to grow up with skewed perceptions of women and their bodies?  Ah heck, c’mon!  Really, this is just another piece of molded plastic that is lucky to still be in one piece at my house.  I am willing to bet that if I go in for another look now, I may find that Hayden has popped off her head.

And I have to say that I am pretty confident that my boys opinions of women will be more influenced by the actual women in their lives, rather than some silly, plastic doll.  The truth is, they adore their mama, and many of the other women in their young lives, including Nana & Gram Gram, their aunties, their beloved Miss Patricia, and our neighbor girl from up the hill, just to name a few.  And we all have different shapes and sizes, that are each, in their own way, distinctly beautiful.  We also have so much more to offer in the personality department than that poor dear Barbie ever will, so I think it’s safe to say that they will see through her shallow beauty, and find they are wanting more than that.

So as for Barbie, well, I don’t know where she came from, or how she found her way into my bed, but she is welcome to stay as long as the boys will have her.   I’m doubting it will be much longer at all.

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I’ve recently found I have a sworn nemesis.  Do you, too?  I’d love to hear about yours, but for now, let me tell you all about mine.

My nemesis came into my life several months ago, disguised as a good friend, as they so often are.  I was so excited to begin a healthy relationship with her, but quickly realized that her being present in my life was bringing guilt, shame, self-doubt, and even self-loathing into my days.  It wasn’t long until every time I saw her, I felt worse about myself than I had just moments before.

But me being me, rather than just kick her to the curb, I chose to keep her in my life, and to hope that my feelings about her, and the way she made me feel about myself, would eventually improve, and that ultimately we would have that relationship I was longing for.  You know the one — the kind of friend you want to spend time with every day, that you look forward to being with, and feel better after being together?  Yes, that kind.  For now, though, our relationship is so rocky it’s hard not to glare at her every time I see her.

Perhaps by now you are curious to know the identity of my nemesis.  I don’t want to tell you her name, because that would be mean.  For now, I’ll show you a picture of her cousin, who looks very similar to her without really being her and that should hopefully satisfy your curiosity.

I know, I know, I know.  As you read this you are thinking to yourself that it is not possible for a Nautilus NR3000 Recumbent Bike to make you feel bad about yourself.  But that’s where you are so.very.wrong.  It is entirely possible if one sits motionless in your bedroom, staring out in desperation to be rode, day after day, after day.

I don’t need this guilt!  To my nemesis I shout, “I am already my own worst enemy, I do not need your help!  Stop with the shameless pleading to be put into good use!  Stop making me feel badly for not wanting anything to do with you, and stop making me feel like I am letting you, and myself, down!  ARGH!!!”

This wasn’t your typical New Year’s Resolution.  It was, after-all, June or July when she came into my life.  I guess you could say this was a bit of an impulse buy.  But both Patrick and I indulged because, well, normally my impulse buys involve chocolate, and we took it as a sign that maybe I was finally getting serious about getting back into an exercise groove.  Yeahnotsomuch.  But my intentions that day, at least, were good.

Let’s face it – I absolutely hate to exercise.  HATE IT.  That’s all there is to it.  But I know that I am supposed to LOVE exercise, and that ultimately, it will make me feel better about just about everything.  So I wish that I could, but right now, I just can’t seem to feel the love.  It hasn’t always been that way for me.

In college, I worked at a health club, and did aerobics several times per day.  In my late twenties, I trained to walk (I’ve always hated running) the Portland marathon, and would get up at 4am just to get my 19 miles of walking out of the way before the heat of the day.  Heck, I was even training every day while on vacation in Hawaii!  But since I’ve become a mother, I seem to have a more and more difficult time finding my inner athlete.  Those days of endorphin highs seem like a very distant, vague memory, and the thought of getting that sort of endurance back seems nearly impossible.

I guess it’s time to stop with the excuses.  I need to lay off the ice cream, put down the spoon, and just do it.  It’s time to love myself inside and out – even my hate of exercise.  Fat chance of that.  And I suppose eating leftover birthday pinata candy while watching an exercise video doesn’t really count as a workout, does it?  It’s just that every minute that I’m exercising feels like an hour.  If no one were watching, I would stop at the first sign of sweat, pat myself on the back, and call it a day.   Seriously.

In the end though, I know it will be worth it.   I want to be healthy, and I want to teach my kids by my own example to be active and healthy themselves.  And come to think of it, there is one thing I can think of to love about exercise — how good it feels to be done!

Dear Nemesis,

I am going to befriend you, or die trying.  I will try my best to stop avoiding and ignoring you.  I really do hope that with a bit of an attitude adjustment on my part, we will one day become lifelong friends.  I realize that it won’t happen overnight, that it is going to take some time to build our relationship.  But isn’t that how the best friendships are formed?  Over time?  And I am sorry for making you my scapegoat, and that you have had to bear the brunt of my current aversion to exercise.  I hope I can make it up to you.

With love (or something),

Me.

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If you have been reading this blog at all, you must have picked up on the fact that I would never be considered a domestic diva.   Don’t worry, there is no need to call CPS — we aren’t raising our kids in filth.  I’m just not the housewife kind of gal.  You won’t find me down on hands and knees with a q-tip cleaning dust from the corners of the baseboards.  But if the kids spill apple juice on the floor, I’ll clean it up — eventually.  It’s just that I don’t clean house without a good reason, and around here, a good reason would usually mean that company is a comin’.

In the summer, we often have quite a bit of company.  People will stay anywhere from an afternoon to a week.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we enjoy the time with friends and family.  And the house remains fairly clean.  Now in the winter, on the other hand, we don’t have a whole lot of visitors.  We’ve been snowed in for at least a few days at least once per winter since we’ve lived here.  It’s great fun for Patrick and the kids, and even for me, but for some reason, extended family and friends don’t seem to want to take the risk of being trapped with us for a few days at a time.  Thus, our house can get quite messy in the winter, as there are few people around to witness the clutter.

Both Peyton and Addison think they have mad skills when it comes to mopping floors and washing windows.  Mommy begs to differ, but please don’t tell either of them that.  I’d hate to damper their enthusiasm!  So I reluctantly hand over the rags and mop, and let them have at it.  They are always  so proud of their work, which is funny, considering the windows and floors are far more smudged when they finish than they were to start.  But they think highly of themselves and their accomplishment, so I give them mounds of praise and appreciation.  Then, sometime in the middle of the night when they are soundly sleeping, I get up and clean up their efforts.  It’s my own fault for ever trying to accomplish any cleaning during the day, when they are around to help.

We have loads of company coming here over the next week, due to Addison’s birthday party next weekend.  Family will begin to arrive on Tuesday, and friends and more family will continue to come through Saturday.  My mom, my sister, and my two nieces and two nephews will be the first to arrive, and staying the longest.  I think cleaning up for them is rather pointless, as the house will look like a tornado has struck within 5 minutes of their arrival.  I mean really, what house (keeper) has a chance of keeping up with seven highly active, creative, imaginative young kids?!  It is quite possible that at our high point, we will have 16 people sleeping in our home.  I’m telling you, it’s one big party for all the kids, and surprisingly, the adults usually somehow manage to get through the visits with a fair amount of enjoyment as well.

So I think that instead of getting stressed out about how I will have this house in tip top shape come next Saturday, I am going to quite literally throw in the towel and say, pardon my language, screw it! Can you imagine all seven kids helping?  I don’t want to even think about it.  So if you happen to be here next Saturday, and find all the doors to the house are locked, well, the party’s outside.  For your own safety.

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