Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aeronautics According to Nat

Nat: Mom how do airplanes and helicopters fly?

Me: I have no idea. (I mean I really don't. I've tried to understand it but I just don't.)

Nat: I think they have big engines that point down and spread out air really fast and that's how they do it.

Not quite right but I'm pretty impressed that a 5-year-old can come up with this entirely on her own, considering she has a scientifically inept mother. Wow, kids never cease to amaze me.

Shampoo Bubbles

My two youngest are peas in a pod. They love to do everything together -- for which I am very thankful.

One of the things they love is taking baths together. Usually they bring in their mermaid Barbies and have an elaborate game that goes on and on until the water's cold and I have to warm it back up so they can wash their hair.

One night I had to go back to investigate when I heard lots of laughter and could smell the scent of fruity shampoo clear out in the living room.

Well, they had invented a new way of blowing bubbles. Seems if you coat your lips with shampoo, you can blow exceptional bubbles.

And...if you coat your nostrils with shampoo you can blow exceptional nose bubbles!

Notice how soapy the water is--I'm glad they used the cheap shampoo! Crazy girls!

Friday, April 25, 2008


My poor little Nat had a terrible night last night. She's had a cough that's been keeping her awake the last couple nights, but yesterday it got really bad, then she spiked a fever, then even after cough medicine and Tylenol she barely slept at all. I've never heard anyone cough so much. I had her sleep next to me so I could make sure she was ok, so every time she woke up coughing I woke up too. We were finally able to get a few hours sleep together this morning. I'm still half catatonic though.

I made a doctor's appointment for her because last night all these horrible diseases started running through my head. What if she has pneumonia?! What if it's whooping cough and I've infected the entire school by letting her go on Thursday?! (I was reading that kids that are vaccinated are getting whooping cough anyway, so that's where that came from.) What if it's some sort of dread lung infection?!

On the way to the doctor's office, I just knew they were going to berate me for being a horrible mother by waiting too long for her to be seen, then have me rush her to the hospital where she would be put on a ventilator. I was trying to plan how I would call the daycare parents to tell them I couldn't watch their kids today, and trying to think who could watch Shelby at the last minute while I was sitting beside my poor neglected and ailing daughter's bed, all the while kicking myself for not taking her directly to the hospital at 3am like should have.

Well, of course she never even coughed at the doctor's office, her temp was only 98.9, and she was telling the doc all about her brother and sisters while putting her chewing gum on the end of her nose so the doc could look in her throat. It turns out I'm not a horrible neglectful mother after all, and she just has a virus combined with allergies that are easily treated with over the counter meds. Whew! That was a close call though!

I'm not sure why I always think the worst when my kids are sick. Maybe it's just a normal mom-thing. I just hate seeing my kids not feeling well, and always feel like I should be able to magically make them all better.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My 100th Post! aka Beware Long Rambling Post Ahead

In honor of my 100th post, and in following with the great blogging tradition, I am listing 100 random things...some about me, some about my family, and I sincerely hope it doesn't turn into the most rambling and inexplicably boring post ever. So here goes nuthin'...

1. I was a 9lb baby with chubby cheeks and a full head of black hair.
2. My mom had a best friend who was a hairdresser, so my mom's hair color changed on an almost weekly basis. Sometimes she was a platinum blonde, sometimes a bright redhead, sometimes a brunette, she always kept us guessing!

3. My mom's hairdressing friend used to try out new techniques on my mom before she used them on the paying customers. My mom remembers having her pulled through a frosting cap, and commenting, "Ouch, this will NEVER catch on!"
4.Fast forward 25 years to her and I frosting each other's hair at our dining room table. Mom never really got the hang of going into the holes at an angle with the crochet hook, and I swear she pulled half my scalp through the cap in the process. Ouch indeed!
5. My sister got stuck with the "pixie" hair cut as a child. Again, I think this had to do with mom's friend and the popularity of Mia Farrow and Twiggy.

6. My uncle committed suicide when I was 6. I still remember being in our living room when I was told about it. I don't think my dad was ever the same after that.
7. My favorite number has always been 7.
8. When I was little I thought the perfect age to be would be 17. I figured you were grown up, but not yet "old". My thoughts changed when I actually experienced being 17.
9. My parents took us on wonderful family vacations when we were growing up, such as:
10. Banff, Canada
11. Jackson Hole Wyoming, and the Grand Tetons
12. Yellowstone
13. Glacier National Park
14. Zion and Bryce Canyon
15. The Grand Canyon
16. Disneyland!

17. One of the highlights of our trips would be when mom and dad would let my sister and I go to a souvenir store to buy a memento.
18. I was horse crazy. I could take or leave the boys, but dreamed of horses all the time.
19. My parents probably spent the equivalent of a decent college education on giving me horseback rides at riding stables.
20. I say it was money well spent!
21. I wanted to be a boy when I was little, and enjoyed playing with the neighbor boys more than I did their sister.
22. We almost always played cowboys, and when the sun would go behind a cloud, we would pretend that it was nighttime.
23. I had a ratty old cowboy hat that I would tuck my long hair under.
24. When I was 6 my mom let me get my hair cut short like a boy's.
25. It was not attractive.
26. I didn't care.

27. My sister and I had to share a room until I was 13 and she was 17.
28. She was always neat and tidy, I was, shall we say, NOT.
29. It's a wonder she didn't kill me and hide my body under the disaster area that was my half of our room.
30. My dad worked the swing shift as a railroad engineer, so during the week it was just mom, my sister and I together in the evenings.
31. We would often have "catch as catch can" for dinner, as my mom would call it. Sometimes this meant baking a batch of blueberry muffins and eating the entire dozen, or fixing soup and a sandwich or even a just bagels and cream cheese. I liked these low-key nights.
32. We would often go out for soup and half a sandwich at our favorite pie place. The soup and sandwich was just a formality and the sooner we got that out of the way the sooner we could do what we were really there for -- eating pie!
33. My dad lived to embarrass the heck out of us.
34. When we would go to the mall, he would hang back, so we wouldn't have to be seen walking with our parents, but then would kick off his shoe and send it flying by us. Oh, the horror!
35. He would also stop in front of the Hammond Organ store and dance to the goofy music that the salesmen would play. Oh, the horror, part II!
36. I think it's hilarious now, and following his example, enjoy embarrassing the heck out of my own kids!
37. I am deathly afraid of water. Especially deep water and fast flowing water.
38. I really don't even like taking a bath. It's completely irrational.
39. I am not afraid of snakes however, and think they are one of the coolest creatures ever.
40.100 is a lot of things to think up.
41. I was a painfully shy child.
42. I finally broke out of my shell a bit after the birth of my first child, when it became easy to make small talk with people about my baby boy.
43. Shyness held me back and because of that I missed out on a lot of fun things and was quite lonely as well.
44. I quit playing the saxophone in 6th grade when I found out that we would have to perform a short piece on stage.
45. I never went to a school dance (with the exception of my 8th grade graduation dance where I actually shared a slow dance with my crush, and then returned to the wall where I stayed firmly planted the rest of the evening).
48. I avoided teen parties at all costs, even going so far as to choose sitting in my boyfriend's truck for 2 hours rather than go in and attend the party with him.
49. I've made great strides since then and done things I thought I never would like:
50. I became a La Leche League leader and conducted meetings.
51. Danced in public!
52. Taught dance classes.
53. Said the opening and closing prayer at church (though not without some difficulty!)
54. I had a serious boyfriend at the age of 14.
55. My kids are not allowed to date until they are 16, coincidence to #54? I think not.
56. I dated my boyfriend from age 14-20, and he was 3 years older than I was.
57. I considered him my best friend, but because I limited myself to always doing things with him and rarely anyone else, I lost some good friendships.
58. I was WAY too young to have a serious relationship, and my mom said much later, that she didn't really want to allow it, but he seemed to be the only one that could make me happy at the time (which is all linked to my shyness and loneliness, as I now look back and self-analyze).
59. Again, my kids are definitely not allowed to date until they're 16 (and I may up that)!
60. I gave up alcohol at the ripe old age of 17.
61. After trying to fit in and drink with the others in our group for a couple years, I decided that I really didn't like the taste of alcohol, and I really didn't want to be in an altered state of consciousness--ever.
62. I celebrated my 21st birthday completely sober and I have no interest in drinking alcohol whatsoever.
63. My grandma Lou had a saying, "You're meaner than cat crap under a bed!"
64. My mom's housekeeping advice to me when I moved out was, "If you keep your dishes done and your beds made, everyone will think you're a good housekeeper."
65. My dad's housekeeping advice to me when I moved out was, "Clean the pee out of the bathroom, and cook the snot out the eggs."
66. I'm better at following my dad's housekeeping advice.
67. The first and last time I went to Yosemite I was 5 years old.
68. I live 2 hours from Yosemite and am beginning to feel guilty for not visiting it, since people travel from all over the world to do so.
69. I hate scary books and movies.
70. As a teenager I read Steven King's Salem's Lot, and have not picked up one of his books since.
71. I wanted to be a forest ranger when I grew up.
72. If I could start my career path over I would pursue midwifery.
73. We had a big orange tabby named Poopsie when we were growing up. I think my mom named him.
74. We also had cats named Marshmallow, Weebs and Bussy. I'm at fault for naming the last one.
75. Twenty-five more to go...who's still with me?
76. Poopsie would actually play hide-and-seek with me. I would put him in the laundry room, then run off to hide, and then call him. He would then come find me, usually by attacking me.
77. During my afore-mentioned angst-ridden teen years I became a habitual truant.
78. When my parents found out, they told me to just stay home, because they'd rather have me home and know where I was, than to have me cutting school and doing who-knows-what.
79. I took the proficiency exam at 17 and got my diploma.

80. After I received my diploma my parents told me, "Now go get a job".
81. The first job I got was washing dogs at a dog groomer. This is when reality set in.
82. I then decided to go to Beauty College and got my cosmetology license when I was 18.
83. I never worked in a salon, but I would go to people's homes and do their hair, and I had a fairly large clientèle of customers.
84. I put myself through junior college by working as a printer and getting scholarships.
85. Even though I got married and had a baby during my 2 years at college, I still graduated with my class.
86. ...and I graduated with honors, which is still one of my proudest accomplishments.
87. I began belly dance classes at the ripe old age of 38.
88. I was so lame and uncoordinated, that the instructor kindly suggested that maybe I should take a few private classes with her before continuing with the beginner's class.
89. For some reason I didn't get discouraged, and I followed her advice.
90. Part of it was that I was intrigued by the dance and really wanted to learn, the other part was that it was an hour and a half (including driving time) all to myself.
91. Almost 6 years later, I am a confident dancer, and more importantly, a confident person.

92. I refuse to go on roller coasters and thrill rides. They're in the same classification as scary books and movies, which I deem unnecessary torture.
93. My most overused phrase is, "For the love of Pete!"
94. One of the only good things to come out of losing my mom was that my sister and I are now much closer. My mom used to be our unintentional "go-between" by relaying to me what my sister was doing and vice versa so that we rarely talked to each other.

95. A long phone call with my sister is now one of my favorite things.
96. One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water!" I liken this quote to childbirth. I didn't know how strong I was until I went through the birth of my children.
97. I definitely felt empowered and proud after childbirth. I have had all 4 without any medical interventions or drugs, and 2 without the so-called "luxury" of a hospital.
98. Another quote I love, that I just recently discovered on another blog, Cairnsliving, is from CS Lewis, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one." Truer words were never spoken.
99. I love to ride motorcycles, but am refraining because I need to stay in one piece for my children.
100. My kids are my greatest inspiration, my greatest blessing, and have been my greatest teachers. How lucky I am to be their mom!

And now a hearty pat on the back if you made it to the end of this post!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Rainbow

Today is the 6th anniversary of my mom's death. It's hard to believe it's been that long already and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her, or want to talk to her, or miss her. She was my biggest fan, my rock, my closest confident, my sounding board. I hope I can be even half the mother and grandmother that she was.

Like I said in my earlier post, the day of her death wasn't traumatic for me. The few weeks preceding it were. From her admission to the hospital, to her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, to her being sent home after the realization that there was no hope for treatment was a mere 3 weeks. It was like a nightmare that wouldn't end, with each day bringing worse news than the day before. I am thankful in a way that it was a relatively short time, because I know that Mom would've hated to waste away for months knowing there was no hope, but on the other hand, because it happened so quickly it was too much to absorb emotionally, for all of us.

The night before she passed she was at home in her bed and was having trouble breathing. She asked to go to the hospital and my aunt called 9-1-1 to have her transported. I remember petting her head and trying to help her relax and breathe while waiting for the ambulance. I was really torn at the time as to if I should accompany her to the hospital or not. Because it was late and I was 7 months pregnant and already stressed beyond my limits, I chose to stay at the house and try to get some sleep. The next morning my uncle called and said that she was gone.

I didn't know what to feel. I did feel a sense of relief for my mom that she no longer had to endure the horrible disease that was consuming her, but I also felt guilt for not being at the hospital with her, and I felt confusion as to what we were supposed to do now without the woman who was the hub of our family.

The weather that day was mostly sunny, but there were storm clouds here and there, and later as the extended family gathered at my parents house, one of my uncles went outside to take out the trash. He came back in and urged us all to come out and see something. There in the sky above my parent's home was a full, beautiful rainbow. We all just stood looking at it for the longest time and I think it gave us all the same sense of peace. To me it was a message that mom was now ok, and was somewhere beautiful.

Some days later my sister and I were choosing a design for Mom's headstone, and none of the flowers seemed quite right. We finally realized what we were looking for was an iris. Mom always loved irises and always had some in our back yard, and we agreed this was just the right flower, and we were able to find just the right image.

My mom in a field or irises

Due to my pregnant state, I was constantly obsessing over names and was always looking through name books. It literally took my breath away when later I came across the name Iris and saw the definition: Greek for "rainbow". From then on the rainbow became a symbol of my mom.

It was funny that in that first year how we would keep coming across rainbows.

My sister told me how one day she was sitting on the couch at my parents house and the light coming through the beveled glass on the front door was casting little rainbows all over her lap. She related that she felt a connection to mom watching the colors play across her legs.

One day I was unpacking boxes (as we had just moved into our house) and had come across a box that my mom had labeled when she had helped me pack some time ago. When I opened it and realized she was the last one to touch all these things I started to lose it. As I dug further into the box, I found a children's book and started crying even more as I remembered her reading this book to the kids. It was a story of a brother and sister who were fighting. Their fight is compared to the storm that is raging outside their house. As they make up, the storm goes away leaving a rainbow, and the mama says, "A rainbow is something beautiful that happens after a storm." To me this was the perfect illustration of what happened to Mom. Something beautiful happened to her after the storm of her illness. I keep that book in the top drawer of my dresser to remind me always.

There have been many other rainbow "coincidences" that have deepened my faith that something beautiful happens to us after our time on earth, and that our loved ones are somehow still a part of us even when we can no longer be with them.

On the Hunt--for the Elusive "Real Job"

I took the Correctional Officer exam at the county today. It was a packed house. I would say at least 60 people showed up. They had to keep getting more tables and chairs out.

I was kind of on the fence about this, but now I'm feeling more confident that this job could work for me. I know it wouldn't be a cake walk, but I think I'm even-tempered and mature enough to deal with inmates on a daily basis.

What I really need is a "real job"--a career. Here I am at 43, with a 2 year degree in forestry, most of my last 20 years spent being a stay at home mom, and lacking any bookkeeping or office experience. I will be lucky to find a good job especially in this tiny county, so being a prison matron is looking pretty appealing to me, especially considering the starting pay and benefits package.

I think I did ok on the test. They said 80% of the people will pass it. From there it's onto the oral interview, and then from there it's onto background check, lie detector, medical and psych exams. They said today that they hire only one in every 60 applicants. That scared me, when I looked around the room and thought out of this whole group only 1 may be hired. They have 16 positions they will be filling over the next 18 months as the new jail facility is completed, and to think that they have to go through 636 willing applicants to find those 16 is a bit overwhelming!

I still think I may have a shot, but I am also willing to accept that if this isn't meant to work out for me, it won't. I'm putting my faith in God to lead me to where I need to be at this point, so wish me luck--one way or the other!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ranting Ahead...Proceed at Your Own Risk!

What a week so far! Honestly, when it rains it pours, but some promising things happened too.

Yesterday one of the daycare boys slapped Nat on the tummy and left his hand print. I didn't see the altercation, so I'm sure Nat was annoying him to some extent. HOWEVER, when I hear, "Well, she was doing..." before I hear, "Gee, I'm sorry..." I get very frustrated. I see this a lot, where kids will always see themselves as the victim, and not take responsibility for their own actions. There's always some excuse for their bad behavior. I see it so often that it makes me afraid for this up and coming generation. How will they deal in the real world?

When Mike got home I was in the front yard cooling my self down, as it was just a trying day all around. I had a kid that was back-sassing me, the incident with Nat I had just dealt with, and one of my 3 year olds had a potty accident, so I was at the end of my rope. When he saw the welt on Nat's tummy, he went to talk to the young boy himself. He said in essence, "You don't hit girls, and you especially don't hit MY little girl." I was glad that Mike had a talk with him. I really think that's one thing that's lacking in a lot of kids' lives (the boys I see especially)---a strong male influence.

Our tax lady gave us bad news last night about how much we owe. This was going to be one of the first years in a long time we were going to be able to file on time, but now that we've heard how much we owe, we will have to file an extension instead. And we won't get the President's incentive either--it will just go towards paying our debt. It really doesn't pay to be self-employed. Bah!

I got a call today from a local Lodge saying they will hire me for the summer running the snack bar and waitressing, so some of my stress about supporting myself once daycare is closed has been alleviated. I've never waitressed in my life, so it will be a new experience for me. I do know enough to know that I will work my fanny off!

I will be pursuing finding a "real job" with benefits during the summer and hope that this fall I will have a more promising employment.

Mike and I had a big argument this morning. I feel bad that I can't find enthusiasm for his endeavors, but we are in a real financial bind right now, and if I don't see something actually happening, I can't get excited about it. In other words, he was telling me that he wants me to support his goal of going big with his barbecue business, and how it will solve all our problems, but I just feel we need to do something concrete now, rather than just talk about something that may happen. I'm feeling pretty low that I can't have faith in his dream. I think there's a good possibility it could happen in the long run, but I want to fix our present situation first.

This is also the week of the anniversary of my mom's death. I try not to relive those last days, and after 6 years, I thought I was getting past it, but I'm still finding myself thinking about each day leading up to the day she passed away. I always try to do something special to remember her on that solemn anniversary. I would rather remember, than to try to ignore it. I actually think the weeks leading up to her death were the worst, and the day that she died I felt a sense of relief and happiness that she was no longer being tortured to death by cancer. So I think part of my problem this week is that I'm also feeling highly emotional.

I'm still hopeful that this week will redeem itself. After all, it's only Tuesday... I guess it will either improve or be The. Longest. Week. Ever!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Name Change and Stuff...

I decided to change my blog name from "Something Clever" to "Define Normal". I just felt like I was misleading poor unsuspecting blog readers who visited my blog thinking they would read a very clever entry. Cleverness is a pretty concrete attribute, and though I have my moments, they are few and far between, I'm afraid.

However, "normal" can only be defined individually. We each have our own definition of what normal means to us. My normal life and emotions may be quite abnormal to someone else, but they cannot argue that their normal is more normal than my normal as their normal might be very abnormal from my perspective. So no more arguing. 'Nuff said.

Regarding my previous post, the dad finally came in and talked to me yesterday and we came to an agreement on payment. I also urged them to possibly look into our county's childcare subsidy program. I guess they knew they were pushing their luck with me. I will be happy if I can keep watching their boy until school is out without having to threaten to terminate our contract.

Then... I went to Walmart yesterday and found a blouse on clearance for $3, and went next door to Mervyn's where they were having a buy one, get one free sale on their clearance items. I ended up with the blouse from Walmart, 2 more tops, a skirt and a pair of slacks from Mervyn's and the total for all was just over $20. I can hardly do that well at a thrift store. I love a great bargain, Woo-hoo!

Yes indeed, yesterday was an abNORMALy good day!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daycare Dilemma

I'm currently having a bit of a dilemma with one of my daycare kids. His parents haven't been paying me on time, they never really have from the get-go, but it's been getting progressively worse. They have explained that they are struggling financially right now-but sheesh, who isn't? I really should just give them a 2-week notice and be done with it.

But...I like this kid a lot. He's 9 and unlike most of the other kids I've had in my care, this young man is very respectful and polite. He always asks to get a drink even though I let all the kids help themselves. When one of the other boys called him on this, saying, "You don't have to ask, this is daycare." This boy said, "It doesn't matter. If I'm at someone else's house I always ask." He never misses a "please" or "thank you" or "goodbye" either.

He also gets along well with the other kids. He doesn't have issues of always having to be right, or trying to act like top dog, or setting bad examples for the others. In fact he almost always has his homework done before he gets off the bus, or does it immediately without being told. He will play just as well with the other boys as with the girls. He will even sit and play a game of Candyland with 5 year old Nat.

His parents however, will avoid coming to get him when they owe money, sending his older brother instead. They owed me 4 weeks of care and when they finally paid me, they were $20 short. They now owe me for another week and a half plus the $20. His dad told me how they're struggling, and how sorry he was he couldn't pay on time, but we're struggling as well and $30-$40 a week is kind of a big deal to me.

This boy has also been having migraine headaches and his folks have had to take him to specialists and get MRIs to find out what's going on with him so I know that's an added expense they're dealing with. This last weekend he went back to Stanford for test results, and on Monday when he came off the bus, he told me that the tests showed that he doesn't have a brain tumor. Gosh, can you imagine a 9 year-old boy having to comprehend something like that? And he was so grown up about it when he told me. I guess they still don't know what's causing the headaches though.

So here I am thinking, his parents have been flaky, non-communicative and avoiding, it's very likely that they'll string me along and throw me a bone once in a while, but chances are I won't ever get paid in full. It's the principal of the thing and I should just tell them I can't watch their child anymore.

But then, I'm quitting daycare come June, so even if I did quit watching this boy, I wouldn't fill his spot anyway. If this had been any other kid I would've canceled our contract long ago. I feel like I'm being used, but then on the other hand I like having this boy around. At this point I'm leaning towards just getting whatever I can out of his parents and writing off the rest on next year's taxes as a loss. Oh, well...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Meet The Parents

Sis arranged for us to host a barbecue to meet her boyfriend and his parents yesterday evening. Mike did (as usual) all the cooking -- tri-tip, his famous BBQ beans, salad and rabbit that he acquired from a friend. (What no squirrel? How will they know we're rednecks? Oh that's right, the stuff in our yard gives us away.)

Sis invited her dad too, and he arrived bearing his famous chocolate cream filled cupcakes.

Funny, this was our first time having her dad over, and at first I admit I was a bit nervous. Our divorce was particularly bad and for many years we couldn't even speak to one another. Thankfully in the last couple years that has improved to where we can have phone conversations and there is no longer tension when either one of us is at the other's home to pick up or drop off the kids.

As the evening wore on, he and I even had a normal conversation and the nervousness was completely gone. I'm so glad for the sake of Cam and Sis that we can come together as civilized people once again. Yay!

I was impressed that her boyfriend made a point of coming up to both Mike and I and introducing himself with a handshake. His parents, even though they live "down the hill" now, had previously lived up in our community and Mike and the dad knew a lot of the same people from way back and were not at a lack for conversation.

I could tell that the boyfriend's mom has a particular fondness for Sis. She has 2 boys, so I'm sure having a girl around is kind of fun for her.

Anyway, the Meet the Parents BBQ was a success, and we all had a great time getting to know one another. And everyone enjoyed the rabbit. Go figure.