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Monday, March 31, 2008

No Wonder

At our weekly library visit, Veevs picked out Care Bears: The Movie II for her video (WHY DOES THE LIBRARY CARRY VIDEOS? Are they trying to kill my children's love of reading, or what? My kids head straight for the videos and then I pick whatever books I want for them to read while they argue over what video will be the best choice. Nice.).

I watched that movie when I was a little girl, and I've gotta say: No wonder I'm so weird. Is it just me or has children's entertainment taken a major step up? I mean, sure, Dora yells everything and is a little crazy, but hey, better her yelling than my kids, if you know what I'm saying. And at least she's counting to ten with them, which seems age appropriate to me. The Care Bears, on the other hand, are fighting a villain, who quite frankly scares me, even today. He's demonic and his voice sounds like Darth Vader's. I'm thinking, really? For a four-year old? Please.

The thing I really don't get is the CaringMeter. Seriously, the world's level of caring falls when a little girl gets made fun of for coming in last at a summer camp footrace? But the whole Rwandan genocide-thing doesn't register at all?

Care Bears need to get some priorities, that's all I'm saying.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Shoot Me Up

You know how when your baby is born and you first hold her and she's beautiful and she's asleep and she looks so peaceful and quiet and calm and perfect that you think to yourself, I will never, never, never get mad at this child because I have such perfect love for her and I will never lose sight of the fact that she is the most precious thing I have ever created in my life and I won't be like all of those other mothers at Wal-Mart who yell at their kids and grab their arms and stuff because this love that I have for this baby is immense and I will always parent with love and logic and I will be the ideal mother and I will never, never, never get angry because how could I get angry with this beautiful, sleeping angel?

You remember that feeling, right?

Seriously, could someone find a way to bottle that? And then put it in an epi pen-like deal so that I can just shoot myself up with it?

Like maybe when I'm looking at my children and one of them has painted himself and the wall with permanent markers and the other one is screaming and the other one is yelling at the naughty one and the principles of love and logic have somehow morphed into screaming and shrieking, and I'm pretty sure that I will be going to mother hell based on how inexplicably angry I feel--far more angry than the situation actually calls for and I have to just walk away because I cannot look at my children any more because I know that if I stay there one moment longer I will succumb to the almost overwhelming desire to grab their cheeks and squish their faces together as hard as I can.

I'd really like to remember how much I love them at moments like that.


Wow. That's a real inspiring post, ain't it? Also, just a disclaimer--I don't actually feel this way today. I actually am quite cheerful and happy right now. But I still would like that epi-pen thing. Just for the future.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cracking Myself Up

Did anyone else notice that in my last post I was accidentally funny?

After the question, "Who wears the pants?" I said, "Depends." Get it?

I'm thinking a little adult company might be good for me. But can I trust myself to be in public? Probably not.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Housekeeping

No, no, don't worry. I'm not going to share my deepest, darkest housekeeping secrets, because if you've read almost ANY previous blog of mine, you know I don't have any. Unless you want to know how to shove things in closets in case you have a surprise visitor. I'm really good at that.

However, I do have several items of BLOG housekeeping that I need to address. For example, my looooooong absence from blogging, which I can ascribe to actual housekeeping in preparation for my parents' visit and then their actual visit (which was lovely!) and so on. So just in case you were wondering, I didn't have a kidney removed and I'm not pregnant again.

Also, I have been tagged several times and therefore, I should do those. You know, because I should. Not to mention that the people who tagged me are truly lovely people whom I love dearly. So today, I am going to do my cousin Celia's tag, and then next time my old college roommate's Amy's tag. So here's what Celia wants to know:

What is his name? Rhett

How long have we been together? 8 years

How long did we date? I don’t know, like six months? I can’t be bothered to do head math. I’m an English major, and we aren’t allowed to remember how to do any math in our head. At least that’s what I say.

How old is he? Rhett loves to point out that I am a year and a half older than he is. Also, he likes to point out that I fall in Generation X and he falls in Generation Y. So, I really did marry someone in a different generation. That’s a real confidence builder.

Who eats more? Oh, him. Definitely. His family’s nickname for him is “Garbage Gut” because when he’s around, you don’t have to throw anything in the garbage disposal. I haven’t eaten my own restaurant leftovers in years (except desserts—he knows his life would be forfeit if he ate my desserts!).

Who said "I love you" first? Me. I’m like that, folks.

Who is taller? Rhett, by six inches. However his body is so bizarrely proportioned that our legs are the same length. We never have to adjust the driver’s seat because it’s just right for both of us. His legs are super short and his torso? Rather long.

Who can sing better? Depends. Are we singing with a microphone? Because I’ve got loads of experience with that one. Is it Kenny Rogers? Because he’s my specialty. However, if it’s just normal singing, Rhett’s probably better.

Who is smarter? Me. Hey, this is my blog. Of course I’m going to say that.

Who does the Laundry? Me. Because I need a nemesis to keep me entertained.

Who pays the bills? Rhett. If it were up to me, we’d be in foreclosure. I’m kind of absentminded and I don’t keep track of the days very well. Luckily, Rhett likes to pay the bills.

Who sleeps on the right side? Me.

Who mows the lawn? For the love, Rhett! I don’t dare get out there for two reasons: 1) What will my children be doing while I’m out there? (Most likely falling down the child sized drain outside our house), and 2) If someone’s going to run over a sprinkler head, I’d really prefer for it to be Rhett. Then he can’t blame me.

Who cooks dinner? Me. Me. And Me.

Who drives? Rhett. He hates my driving. But I believe I’ve mentioned that before.

Who is more stubborn? Me, but I wouldn’t say that if I thought he would actually read this. Then I’d say him.

Who kissed who first? He says I attacked him. Whatever. He does a mean impression of me as a tiger “going in for the kill”. My mother will be slightly embarrassed for me when she reads this.

Who asked who out first? I can’t remember. We started out just hanging out and who knows? Could it have been me? Sure.

Who proposed? Technically, Rhett. However, I must say that I brought up the topic of marriage first, and so it was really me, but not me, if you know what I mean. Rhett could have dated indefinitely.

Who has more friends? Me, me, me, me, me, me (I think). At least I have more friends that I actually do stuff with. He has lots of work friends, but do they count? Really?

Who is more sensitive? Oh, me, of course. Seriously? I can say almost anything to him and he just kind of shrugs his shoulders. Not so much the other way, especially if a pregnancy is involved.

Who has more siblings? Me. There are eight kids in my family and two in his. So he thinks my house is utter chaos. Well, I think that too, but I’m used to it. Rhett does, however, have two step-brothers and a step-sister, so he’s coming up in the world, I guess.

Who wears the pants? Depends. Financially? Rhett. (I have mentioned the Financial Facists, before, yes?) Day-to-day operations? Me. Big decisions? Rhett. Little, crappy decisions? Me. Hmmm. Maybe I should just say Rhett and not try to self-aggrandize any longer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Veevs--The Emotional Version

Usually when people tell me girls are so much more emotional than little boys, I kind of just give a noncommittal grunt and change the topic. Because you know, I'm totally not confrontational (my dad just fell over fainting) and I hate to disagree with people (now my siblings are all laughing hysterically) and I don't like people to feel bad (and here my husband joins in the cacophony), but really, I just don't see it. Veevs isn't super emotional. She's pretty predictable and even-tempered.

But some days. Oh, some days. Some days the emotions are in free fall over here. The trigger seems to be exhaustion, but who cares where the explosion originated from when I'm dealing with the fall-out? Like yesterday, for example.

After dinner (which was quite nice of me to feed them, don't you think?), I took the kids upstairs to watch a show. I always make a big deal out of it being a "SURPRISE" video that mommy picks, because otherwise we spend minutes, literally minutes, engaged in a contest of wills. And those could be minutes where they're glued to the television, so I bypass all of that and "SURPRISE" them with a video of my choice. I picked a short twenty-minute Little People show.

And then Veevs broke down.

"I haaaa-aaa-tttteee this shooooooooow!" I had picked this because I had thought it was a safe bet, but it just goes to show, doesn't it? There's no such thing as a safe choice with toddlers. I just smiled and pushed play.

"I haaaa-aaa-tttte it because it's a bbaaaaaaby show!" Veev's volume has now interfered with her brothers' viewing pleasure, so I intervene.

"Veevs. Calm down, sweetheart. You don't have to watch it if you don't want to. You can go in your room and read books instead." She gives me a look which clearly says that I am out of my head if I think she's going to go read books instead of frying her brain with television, and I shrug. "Your choice, sis."

She decides that instead of humiliating herself with a baby show or reading books, she will instead play with Wristy. After the show, I find I'm still ready to throttle anyone who speaks to me, so I put on Tarzan, which should, with any luck, take me all the way to bedtime. Veevs loves Tarzan. Except for the first part where the baby gorilla gets eaten by the jaguar/leopard (I can never tell the difference between those two unless they're side by side, and then it's SO obvious that I feel stupid) and the part where the jaguar/leopard tries to eat Tarzan when he's just a baby and the mommy gorilla has to save him. It's just a little too much for her.

But if I watch it with her, it's fine. Usually. But apparently not this time. Because as soon as she sees the mommy gorilla crying for her baby (we skipped through the "graphic" parts because I'm nobody's fool), Veevs loses it again.

"Thaaaaat baaby will never seeeeee it's mooooommmy agaaaain!" She works herself up to near-hysterics. "Daaaaaddy said that you and Daaaaadddy will . . . diiiiiiie toooo one day and it could be aaaany daaaay!" I make a mental note to thank Rhett for his precious lesson on the fragility of life, and eventually get her calmed down. It takes a while, because apparently, there's a lot of stuff to be sad about at the beginning of Tarzan. Seriously? What was that?

I'm relieved because I'm pretty sure we can make it to bed with no more meltdowns, and I'm congratulating myself on not losing it (although I did laugh at her when she was bemoaning the fate of Tarzan's mommy's and daddy's furniture, because, really? Furniture? Who cares what happens to their furniture?), when she turns to me and says with her face screwed up in repressed sadness, "Why did the goats eat all of my green beans?"

And bursts into tears. Again. Although it was perfectly clear to me what she was talking about, it occurs to me that you may not have any clue about her backstory on this one. So let me illuminate the mind of my four-year old for you.

I took Veevs to a farm and the lady who was at the cash register gave her a bag of alfalfa pills (hence, green beans) to feed to the animals. We stopped by the goat pen first, and in Veev's excitement, she accidentally dropped the bag in the pen and the greedy goats devoured all the pills right before our very eyes. She was very sad. Obviously.

What's that? You think I'm a wonderful mother for taking her to the farm? Yes, I know. That really was a good mother thing to do, wasn't it? Oh, you think we went to the farm yesterday? No, no, I took her to the farm over TWO YEARS AGO.

Yes, that's right. Veevs had a meltdown over something that happened two years ago. And she cried about it for almost ten minutes. It would have been heartrending if it hadn't been so ridiculous.

Do I need to tell you that we had an early bed time?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hazel

My Grandma Hazel passed away a few years ago. Occasionally (like when I open a bottle of Corn Husker's Lotion at Wal-Mart and breathe deeply), the memory of my grandmother hits me so strongly that I am frozen to the spot, as if by standing still I can bring little pieces of her back, or remember just one more thing about her.

She was a marvelous woman. A few memories I will treasure:

The Haze (as Rhett and I call her) cheated mercilessly at cards. Particularly Hearts, Spades, or Scum. She never apologized if you caught her, either. She just laughed and said, "Deal the cards again!"

Haze loved her a good romance novel. Her favorite author was Rosamunde Pilcher, and she especially loved The Shell Seekers. I read it after she passed away expecting it to bind our souls closer, but I still can't figure out why she loved it. Towards the end of her life, her long term memory sort of shorted out, so you could give her the same book to read over and over. She enjoyed it each time as well as she did the first.

Haze made killer pies. She used to sell them in a cafe in her younger years, and all of her three boys make delicious pies, too. Thanksgiving doesn't seem like Thanksgiving to me without my dad's (actually Haze's) butterscotch pie.

Haze decided to learn to play the harmonica when she was about eighty years old. She ordered one from a catalog, learned to play "Amazing Grace" and singlehandedly drove my grandpa crazy. I especially loved how her nostrils would flare as she determinedly picked out the tune. She always ended with a big finish--a big run up the entire harmonica (I think we can all see where I got that from, right?).

Hazel loved to golf. Well into her eighties, she was still playing nine holes here and nine holes there. Although she had to get a cart, because as she put it, her legs just weren't what they used to be before her knee replacement.

One year Hazel bought a large plastic goose and proceeded to crochet dozens of holiday and seasonally themed outfits for that goose. Fourth of July? Here, let me pull out this goose's red, white and blue cape! Christmas? Here's the goose's Mary costume! It sat on her porch, and trust me, it was awesome.

I remember when Cabbage Patch Dolls were all the rage, Hazel had me, my two sisters, and my cousin over and we made outfits for all our dolls. I made a beautiful stretchy striped dress for my girl doll (Anna, who claimed Swedish heritage) and a lovely set of Raggedy Andy pajamas for Todd, my boy doll. Is it just me that I now think this "fun activity" would be like a personal hell? Just imagine trying to sew with four girls under ten years old. Seriously, I don't get it.

At my sister's wedding, I sat by my grandma for a minute. "Grandma," I said, "I love your new outfit." "Well," she replied huffily, "your grandpa didn't even notice that I had a new outfit. And if I ask him how I look he always says, 'If there's something wrong, I'll tell you, if I don't say anything, you look fine.'" She looked at me with a half-smile, full of mischief. "Tomorrow I'm going to come out fully nude and see what he has to say."

I could go on forever here, really. I could tell you about the time that she shouted (she was pretty deaf at the time) to my sister in front of many, many strangers that her bra just wasn't holding her "Super-dooper-troopers" up anymore. Or I could tell you about what an awesome mom she was to my dad and his two brothers. Or I could tell you about how frustrating she found her two sister-in-laws.

I miss her.



Side note: If you want to visit more Hazel progeny, you should visit my cousin Celia and my cousin Adrienne. They carry on her funny, sassy loveliness as well as anyone could.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Talk

Tonight Veevs and I watched Swiss Family Robinson together while Rhett and Spe went on their Father-Son Outing. I have such fond memories of this movie from when I was a child. I especially remember loving when a pirate got an arrow shot directly into his bum. I used to howl with laughter over that one. Who didn't love their sweet treehouse? Or the tiger who falls into the pit? Or the girl pretending to be a boy?

The bum/arrow combo? Kind of made me cringe this time around, truth be told. The treehouse? Totally fake. The tiger? Clearly a trained animal. The girl pretending to be a boy? Oh, honey! Step into the modern world! Case in point: After being held captive by pirates, stealing a pistol and holding the Swiss Family Boys at gunpoint to try to get her own way, Bertie is discovered to be Roberta, and is suddenly a helpless female. Even Veevs noticed. When the Swiss Family Boys are wrestling with a vicious river anaconda, Roberta sits and watches.

Veevs looked at me, "Why isn't she helping?" I looked at sweet Roberta, crouched up under a tree limb, screaming each time a reptilian coil broke the river surface and smiled.

I knew we would have this talk one day.

"You know, Veevs, when this movie was made a lot of people thought girls couldn't do some things just because they were girls. Like fight snakes, or climb mountains, or help build treehouses. But girls can, can't we?"

Veevs flexes her bicep and grimaces. "Yeah, I'm really tough."

"And some people thought boys shouldn't cry or do things that they thought girls should do. Like decorating cakes, or sewing, or cooking." I look at the Swiss Family Boys, who clearly have more important things on their mind than cooking (like how to cut the snake in half now that they have finally found the machete).

"See, sis, the point is that you should be able to choose what you want to do, whether you are a boy or a girl. If you are a girl who likes to sew, then you should be able to do that. And if you are a girl who likes to fight snakes, you should be able to do that, too."

Veevs looks up at me pointedly. "Can you turn the volume up, please? I can't hear when you are talking."

I turn the volume up. Roberta is begging to turn back because it just keeps getting worse and worse, Swiss Family Brother has lost the compass, and Swiss Family Other Brother is positive that he can find their way home without it.

Honestly, I'm just waiting for the Swiss Family Boys to start fighting over Roberta. Because I've got some more to say on that topic. I'm just getting warmed up.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In the Kitchen

Last night I had one of my friends, Marie, over to dinner. Rhett was gone for the night and her husband was out of town on a business trip and so we decided to join forces for the evening (thus eliminating the need for both of us to keep every light in the house on from dusk to dawn).

Because Marie's husband can't eat gluten, I decided to make homemade pizza, which has the added bonus of being one of two dishes my children will actually eat (the other, as you already know, involves cold hot dogs). I love making homemade pizza. It's delicious, easy, and the kids love to put the pepperoni on it. To Marie's credit, she didn't even flinch when Spe sneezed all over the pizza. She's good like that.

Before you start thinking I'm one of those women, you know the ones who have their lives together and live to make the rest of us feel less adequate, let me finish the story. Because it ended like all my stories (especially those involving the kitchen) in disaster.

I doubled the dough recipe, because if I don't Rhett will leave me no leftovers whatsoever, and then I actually have to think about what to serve for lunch the next day, and I really hate thinking about lunch. I'd rather be thinking about politics, or global warming, or why I can't seem to fold fitted sheets as well as my mother did.

When I took out the first cookie sheet, the others weren't quite done yet. So I went and put the other pizza sheet on the table, and left the other one in to cook for just another minute or two.

Except you know me. Two hours later, I looked round for the pan of pizza to put it in the fridge and realize it was still in the oven, which was still on. It was, quite frankly, charcoal. I'm surprised we couldn't smell it burning. I mean, seriously. It was bad.

So I did the only thing I could do. I left it in the oven and when Rhett got home at 11:00 I called out from upstairs, "Hey, Rhett, your dinner's in the oven!"

To his credit, he just kind of laughed. Maybe he's too used to stuff like that to really be surprised.

On the plus side, though, the salad was delicious.