Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Vacuum Sucks!

I was explaining to someone the other day how I was changing the bag in my large vacuum cleaner, which I love very much for it's superior sucking ability, and was compelled to use my handheld Dirt Devil to suck out all the dust and dog hair that was left over in the belly of the vacuum after I removed the bag.  Yes, I used a vacuum to clean my vacuum.  But as I explained my rationale that it seemed to be a better idea than using a paper towel sprayed with cleanser because I would have to throw away the paper towel when I was finished and that would be wasteful, and I considered using my microfiber cloth but then I realized I was planning to do the mirrors with it later and if I used it on the vacuum I would have to wash it first and that wasn't going to happen, and then I thought about how I should just bite the bullet and buy a few more of those microfiber cloths because they are so handy so I ran up the kitchen to add them to the Costco list and as I was doing that I decided the small amount of electricity it would take to turn on the handheld plus the excercise I would get running down the stairs and out to the garage seemed like a much greener choice!

When I saw the look on her face as I explained all of this it occurred to me that her tip about using a sponge next time might not have really been a suggestion of how to get the job done better.  I think she might have been mocking me a bit.  Not nice!  She's probably one of those nasty people with a dirty vacuum cleaner!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Here. After.

I'm thinking about a friend of mine today.  I'm thinking about the contradiction that you feel when you lose something you never had, didn't ask for and weren't sure you wanted.  The hollow, unsatisfying relief that comes when something ends that never had a chance at a beginning.

She's in the middle bit right now.  The middle that's the pits.  The middle that comes between the blissfully ignorant part before and the resolved to heal part that envelopes the after.   

I'm sure I don't know what happens to those little ones we lose.  Some are comforted by the knowledge that they journey to the Hereafter.  All I know is that we mother's that lose...we have to be here.  After.  Here without something we never had in the first place.  Here in this place.  Here in this day.  Here in this life.  After.   

She'll be the one to decide how long this middle bit goes on.  She'll have some help, but it will truly be up to her to decide.  That's when the middle bit that is so difficult comes to an end and becomes a beginning.  A beginning where you can look around at the Here.  And after everything.  Be happy you've arrived.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Family Portrait

This is Marge's latest portrait of our family.  Some key details of note:

Accessories are important!  Even family members of the canine variety are captured here with this season's hottest trend: Costume Jewelry!

Daddy apparently has a big head.  The rest of us appear to have an accurate self image but the Father, complete with accurately depicted facial hair, is well, large.  It's revealing to see her draw him in this way. When I saw it I started reading all sorts of meanings into this: she sees him as the head of the family and so he is the biggest, somehow her little mind infers size related to importance, blah, blah, blah.  I asked her why his head was so much bigger than the rest of us and she replied with a sigh of disgust and a roll of her eyes, "Mom. He's just the biggest."  Yes Marge, he is the biggest.

I'm next in line with a smile on my face.  I'm glad that's the face she sees when she imagines how I look.  I have lots of other faces, not all of which I'd like drawn by the 5 year old. 

She and sister Mona follow with lots of expression.  Little Minnie has wacked out hair and tears streaming down on this day.  Its important to remember that the day she drew this picture, Minnie was working on 4 molars at once.  How's that for efficiency!

Love this drawing!  Thanks Marge!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Port a Potty

There is a toilet in the neighbor's front yard today.  We don't know these folks that well and are thus not privy to the inner workings of their household.  One can only guess what would make a man put his john on the lawn.

Maybe he is trying to send a message to the sweet lady on the hill who lets her dog loose in the neighborhood pooping in everyone's yard but hers.  "Hey Lady!  If you're going to let that mutt roam, the least you could do is teach him to use the loo!"

Like the Springtime banner that heralds the coming of new life or the front porch Jack-o-lantern that sets the mood for the season, does this monument announce the coming of a crappy day?  It is on a dolly which indicates that this potty is on the move.  With a hope of change he is prepared for his situation to improve.  Today might be bad, but tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In The Event of an Emergency

"In the event of an emergency, a mask will drop from the ceiling in front of you. If you are traveling with a child (or a person acting like a child) please place the mask over your own nose and mouth first and breathe deeply.  Then give aid to your companion."

They tell you that explicitly because they know that your first reaction as a mother will be to help your child but the message here is: Take care of yourself first or you'll be no good to anyone who might need you.

The answer is always available you just have to ask the right question.  Help is always there you just have to know where to look for it.  Sometimes its right in front of you, dropping into your lap in the event of a crisis.  You just have to be willing to take it, use it and BREATHE.  Then breathe again.

In the event of an emergency, or a crisis, or a time of stress, or a Wednesday afternoon when you feel taken advantage of and under appreciated, or a Saturday morning when all you really want to do is spend 10 more minutes under the covers before facing the onslaught of the breakfast routine, or on your birthday, or on their birthday or any time you need to catch your breath place that oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth first and then assist your companion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Sweet but It's Not the Same

So it's a cold gray day here in the Middle. Not the kind of Autumn cold that is invigorating, but the kind of damp chill that is demoralizing. "What should we do today Mommy?" says 5 year old Marge. "Can we make something?" Bless her heart for asking that question instead of "Can we watch television?" Score one for the mother!!

"Yes, we can make something. How about cookies?" I replied with trepidation as I began to dig in the baking cabinet looking for ingredients. I was not about to take 3 children to the store, in the rain, to buy a missing ingredient. So it was with a bit of luck and a little Googling that I was able to come up with a recipe for cookies that matched the 5 bags of leftover chocolate morsels and rock of brown sugar that I had on hand. WooHoo! Score two for the mother!!

We got all the ingredients out and lined them up on the counter so they could help me dump them into the bowl one at a time. They wanted to sample each ingredient before it went in and since this activity was intended to be a time killer and not just a baking project, I agreed. They sampled everything and had some fabulous responses:

After the flour Mona said, "Mom this tastes like paper." And when I asked her how she knew what paper tasted like she responded, "Because yesterday I was being a recycle bin and I ate my tiny art project." I'm not happy about the consumption of non-edibles. But hey! My three year old knows what a recycle bin is! WooHoo! Score three!

The salt produced puckered faces and cries for beverages. Not unexpected.

When we got to the baking soda, Marge said "Mom, if I eat this will I rise?" Where does she learn this stuff?

I sliced off a tiny sliver of butter for each girl and placed it in the palm of their hand. The little one licked and licked and licked and then finally put her whole fist in her mouth. The butter was a hit with Minnie.

It was when we got to the sugar that this little culinary adventure became a opportunity for true learning. I got out the brown sugar and we sampled and measured. Smiles all around, no big surprise there. Then I got out the white sugar AND the Splenda. My thinking was I would let them sample both and give them the choice about which to put into the recipe. (Here is where I'll get some comments about feeding my children chemicals and sucralose. About how I'm stunting their growth. About how children don't need to eat that stuff and I should be reported for crimes against nutrition. To that I have only one thing to say...COKE IN A BABY BOTTLE! So either get over the choice I offered them and keep reading while I get to the point of this whole fable or stop reading. Your choice.)

Back to the sugar and the Splenda. I gave them each a pinch of sugar in their palm and told them to taste. I explained that we were going to try the next ingredient and decide which one we should put in the recipe. I told them that both ingredients would do the same job for the cookies, and that they were a lot alike but just a little different. Not unlike the brown sugar sampling, the white sugar was a hit. Then I gave them each a pinch of Splenda.

Minnie breathed into her palm too hard and her first pinch blew away in an instant.

Mona observed "It's so 'airy'. It doesn't feel like anything."

Marge peered at it dubiously and upon sampling it declared, "It's sweet, but it's not the same."

So we made the cookies with the sugar. We spent nearly an hour on a cold rainy day combining things that by themselves, weren't all that great but together turned out spectacularly. We laughed and counted and measured and mixed and spooned and made a huge mess. Then we had chocolate chip cookies for lunch.

Which proves two things:

1. Always use the real sugar, whether you're baking or saying something to someone you love. The fake stuff is sweet but it disappears if you don't hold onto it carefully, it doesn't really feel like anything AND it's just not the same as the real thing.

2. She who can see the wisdom and good fortune in the batter is truly a smart cookie.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Turns Out My Center Is Not in the Middle

I returned to yoga this week after a too long hiatus. I had forgotten how much I loved yoga. The time to think, or not think, to be still, to have someone else guiding my actions. Yes G, everything is better after yoga, but after falling out of a down dog, breaking wind in a dancer's pose and looking more like a dead duck than a half pigeon I have come to an important conclusion...

My center isn't where I left it (which was in the middle of my being) but it's now "on the side." Like seasonal vegetables. So nice to enjoy once in awhile but not always available. Finding myself, at least for the near future, is going to have to happen "on the side."

I haven't lost me, but my center is filled up with so many other things these days and they kept pushing their way into my mind. It was knocking me off balance, and literally onto my knees. Ouch! After class, the instructor welcomed me back to my practice of yoga and told me the more I came the easier it would get. That the weeks when I have no time to think and certainly no time for yoga are the weeks when I belong there the most.

So that's the plan. I'm going to begin the process of returning my center to its rightful place. I've got a lot on my plate these days and none of its going anywhere. The good news is, yoga is in season and I'll take my daily bread with a side of chakra please.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beans! Beans! The Musical Fruit!

Mona gives us a musical tribute to garbanzo beans!

Friday, October 9, 2009

If You Fight It, It Takes Longer

My little one HATES having her diaper changed. At first it's a game. She runs over to me and motions with a flapping hand towards her diaper region that she is in need of a refresher. Sometimes she even grabs my hand and leads me away from whatever I'm doing. She knows she is not happy sitting in poo. (Who would be?) We'll get all the way into her room and then she gets this twinkle in her eye and runs the other direction, laughing wildly as the chase begins. This is the game. Sometimes, I have time to play and I'll let her run away a few times before she "lets" me catch her. Other times, a diaper change is just one more thing on the list of tasks keeping me from getting out the door and I'll grab her wriggling little self and put her (gently of course, with all the love in my heart) on the changing table so we can clear the air and remove the offending garment.

This is when the real fun begins. The writhing, leg kicking, arm scrapping, twisting, bumping, head banging movement that begins as soon as this mini person approaches the table is something that, once I've completed my task, I could describe as having survived. She HATES it. She hates her tiny body hanging out of warm fleece. She hates the cold wet wipes. She hates having to leave whatever she was doing. She hates missing out on the action in the rest of the house. She hates it and though she may not have words to express it, her actions speak louder than words. So she struggles and I pin her down with one arm while removing clothing with the other. She kicks and I lean back so her foot does not connect with my face. She flips over and I flip her back. She screeches like an alien having its toenails removed with a spoon, and I yell back things like,

"If you fight, this will take longer!" and,

"If you didn't struggle, we could be finished by now!"

Good advice, but this doesn't make her feel any better in the heat of the moment. So we battle on. Her thumping eventually subsides long enough for me to unclothe, unstrap, wipe, replace and fasten, re-dress and place her little body, fists still swinging, back on the floor so it can speedily depart the scene. Eventually she'll learn that if she would just be still, the whole thing would be easier and that by fighting, she prolongs the very thing she hates the most. But we're all guilty of that sometimes. Whatever that thing is that we hate to do. If we didn't struggle, we could be finished by now.

This is where Motherhood leads you sometimes. Seeing wisdom in the poop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who Claps For You?

Why does the singer go on tour? Why does the comedienne do stand-up? Why does the poet give a reading? Why does the survivor get up and speak?

Simple, right? The applause. That's part of it, but it's not that simple. Not all clapping sounds the same and the trick is to teach yourself how to listen. When to listen. And when not to.

My life is my concert tour and my stand-up routine all at once, people keep showing up for my appearances. My words are my poetry reading. My children are a reflection of how I'm surviving Motherhood, and sometimes they speak louder than words. And yes, I do it all publicly because I get something from the applause. That's how I do things. But part of knowing which applause to listen to is feeling good about the song you're singing or the job you're doing and being comfortable with who your biggest fan is.

I clap for me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fix

I've been at this for a month now and I've come to the point where I'm asking myself Why am I doing this? What is the goal? Why a blog? Because I have bad handwriting and a journal is too cumbersome? Because I don't speak to empty rooms? Because I'm vain enough to think people want to hear what I have to say? That's getting closer, but I still don't really know to whom I'm even speaking. It was a quiet thrill at the very start. I was putting it out there, but nobody knew, so it was still hidden. Like streaking through a completely dark room full of people. Exposed but covered. But now there is a tiny light on in the corner and someone is watching. It's a different kind of thrill. I like it.

I shot off a post last week after being away from it for a few days. My heart wasn't in it. I was ticked about the towels but not really mad enough for my thoughts to have meaning. I did have to use the nail brush 4 times in one day to recover from changing diapers, but that's just what moms do, and there is no complaining about it because the alternative is too disgusting to even consider.

But I hadn't posted in 4 days and I felt this need. It was crazy really. So I tried to find some thoughts that went together and put up something worth my time, and yours, but when I go back and read it now it just feels false. It wasn't my voice and I think I almost knew it as the words were coming out of my fingers. Like when you construct something appropriate to say to the proud new mommy with the funny looking baby. You talk all around what you feel because you can't just say nothing. Or maybe you can just say can smile or nod or run the other direction...which is maybe what I should have done last week...said nothing.

But then I needed my fix. I needed to put something out there and I should have just forced out the thoughts about why in the hell I needed to post in the first place. That would have been more work, but considerably more satisfying. A month ago there was no blog. There was no collection of words and thoughts. How do you so quickly come to need something that was never there before? And why do I need it? I think I needed to be heard by a new audience so I created a blank space and am now charged with the task of filling it with something. That's a bold action though. Or at least it was bold when I told the world I was doing it. If a landscaper started digging holes in his front yard for the sole purpose of filling them back up with dirt, you'd think he was nuts. He ought to fill those holes up with something better, like a seed that will become something else when it's nurtured or a full grown tree that's showy and gorgeous and that everyone wants to gather around to enjoy the colors when it changes and the shade when the sun makes it hard to think. Last week, I filled up my space with dirt.

I could just delete it. I have that power. But that's not the point. I'm going to build around it and if you're watching you'll have to endure the construction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How Many Times?

will I run through the house looking for "the other shoe?"

will I pour another cup of milk after the first/second/third one spilled?

will I have to use a nail scrubber to get the baby poop out from under my fingernails?

will I have to watch the same episode of Max and Ruby?

will I have to answer the question, "Why Mommy?"

will I have to go back into the house because somebody forgot something?

will I step on a Barbie shoe on my way to the bathroom at 3am?

will I have to do a load of laundry at 8:30pm because the blue shirt is dirty and tomorrow is "Blue Day?"

will I have to run to the grocery store to get the missing ingredient?

will I have to pick the towels up off the bathroom floor?

will I have to pick up the socks from the floor?

will I have to buy wrapping paper from the neighbor's kid so one day his mom will buy salted peanuts from my kid?

will I have to stop what I'm doing because my little one says "I show sompin to you Momma?"

will I have to change my shirt before I run out the door because the little one hugging me had sticky fingers?

will I have to yell out "STOP AND LOOK!" before my child runs across the street?

The answer to every single question, every single time it happens...

Just one more time. Because I love them. Just one more time.