Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did I Hear That Right?

I love to revisit the funny or random things my girls say. They are absolutely funniest when they don't mean to be. For instance:

I am returning from the pediatrician with two sick little girls. I lock them in the car for 5 minutes while I run into the corner pharmacy to pick up a prescription. When I return I'm met by a wide-eyed Little One who frantically asks, "Where is your cell phone?" "Why," I ask. "Because (The Not-So-Little One) needs to go potty. It's an emergency! Call 9-1-1!"

The Little One is having a bad day. Everything is wrong, everything makes her unhappy, nothing appeases her. I tease her by saying," Oh, man! Everything is so bad! There are clouds in the sky! There's too much traffic! Nobody loves me!" I'm interrupted by the Not-So-Little One who chimes in with "and everybody around here has a wienie dog!"

I am having a heart-to-heart talk with the Little One about what happens to people when they get old, how sometimes people are forgotten by their families. She assures me that she is going to buy a house right next door to mine when she grows up so that she can come eat dinner with me every night. She tells me that she will even bring some of the food so that I don't have to do all the cooking and even help with the clean up. What a sweet child! And then she turns to me and asks in earnest, "Do you like macaroni and cheese?"

We're talking about sports. The Not-So-Little is asking when the different sports seasons begin. "When is football season? When is soccer season? When is baseball season?" Mikel asks, "When is it NOT basketball season?" Parents laugh. To continue the humor I ask, "When is curling season?" The Little One readily replies, "When it is not humid outside. What.... ?! You know my hair won't hold a curl in the humidity..."

One time at the state fair, the girls came out of the fun house all smiles and giggles. The Not-So-Little One is standing before us, describing in detail all of the things they encountered in there. Meanwhile, standing slightly behind her, the Little One acts it all out in pantomime, as if she is interpreting for others just like her who consider words to be superfluous.

"Mama," says the Little One recently at Oscar's, "Our waitress is nice. She's short, but she's nice."

We're walking through the grocery store last evening. The Little One announces to me that I need to put a load of laundry in because she is out of understuff.

Drop me a line and share something crazy you've heard at your house. It's always nice to hear that other people's kids are weird, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ticked Off

Everyone who knows me knows that I have issues with my hair. It is neither straight nor curly, but something irritatingly in between. (It started behaving that way when I hit puberty, as if all of the other "becoming a woman" crap wasn't traumatic enough.) I can encourage it to dry curly or I can beat it into submission until it is straight, but either takes a lot of effort and time, and there is no guarantee that it will remain that way for any length of time. It seems to have a mind of its own, and it never seems to look the same two days in a row. Humidity is its mortal enemy. I literally have to watch the weather before I get ready in the morning to determine how I will attack my hair.

Aside from time and effort, I have spent an exorbitant amount of money on a wide range of products promising the hair of my dreams. The formula goes something like this - you get what you pay for, so more expensive (especially if endorsed by hair care professionals) means more effective. Dreams, schmeams - more like nightmares.

The other day I was running low on funds and purchased Herbal Essences Totally Twisted line of products. Hey, what's the deal? I sort of like the results here! Better than that... I might even be satisfied! So tonight I brought home Herbal Essences Dangerously Straight products and lo and behold, they performed as advertised. Man, am I mad! I've spent the last 30+ years experimenting and I found results in a $3.00 bottle of shampoo and conditioner. Augh!!

Oh, by the way, I didn't have that "organic" experience they showed the pretty lady in the commercial enjoying in the shower when she used this stuff. Bummer......

Monday, October 15, 2007


The Not-So-Little One has a heart for nurturing. A gift, really. From lady bugs (see Oct 9 post) to visitors, she has a way of caring for and welcoming and communicating with others, often without words, in ways that others can't or won't. We call her our whisperer.

This bashful child of ours will often avoid conversation and never quite looks comfortable in a crowd, but she is most in her element when words are not required. Her third grade teacher called me on the phone one afternoon requesting an impromptu conference. I was certain that my daughter had misbehaved in some way - why else would the teacher call me at work? I assumed incorrectly. The teacher called to report that a new student had joined the class that day. This student was from Southeast Asia and did not speak English. The Not-So-Little One took this new little girl under her wing, showing her where things belonged and guiding her throughout the day. The teacher was reduced to tears by the end of the conference. A prouder moment never existed for a parent.

My sister and brother-in-law own a cattle ranch. Just like every other ranch in the world, the Whining Bull has an abundance of cats. Most of them are wild. Even my sister cannot get near most of the cats outside of feedin' time. But take a look out the window and you will spy the Not-So-Little One surrounded by cats. All of them. Winding around her feet and rubbing against her legs, purring and flopping over for a belly rub. She takes great pride in her ability to tame the wild kittens - those same little demons that hiss and spit at me if I get too close.

The cattle on the Whining Bull are registered longhorns. Although not necessarily aggressive, these animals are large. Their horns are large. They know how to use them and will when they feel threatened. On a trip to the ranch a few years ago, I noticed my brother-in-law gazing out toward the pasture. He motioned for me to join him, placing his fingers to his lips and whispering "shhh." I stifled a gasp as I caught a glimpse of the Not-So-Little One in the midst of the herd, moving silently among the cattle, stopping occasionally to gently pull a cactus thorn from a nose. Many of the beasts were lying down. I think my heart stopped, but it also melted.

Today the Not-So-Little One came home to a deceased furry friend. Dirk the hamster breathed his last breath sometime while she was at school. I found her sitting in her bedroom, silently stroking his little body and crying. She gently removed him from his cage and made burial plans with her daddy. Even in death she nurtures.

A gift. No words required.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Going Home

I heard that Daughtry song on the way to church this morning. I like the song - sentimental in a rock 'n roll sort of way. As is apt to happen in my life, the sermon dealt with going home as well. The guest preacher was a young student from Russia. She talked about being far from home and separated from her mother and sister. She also explained that her family has a habit of shielding one another from their personal trials and pain, so as not to worry one another. Further separation.

It occurred to me that lots of us are unable to go home, to return to the place of our childhood. Sometimes it is too far or too costly to get there. Sometimes we put up walls that become too formidable to cross. Sometimes folks at home die. Sometimes we are estranged from our families through no fault of our own. Sometimes we don't remember how to get there. Sometimes the folks at home no longer recognize us. Sometimes there is simply no home to which to return.

It also occurred to me that even though we can't always go home, we still want to go there. Deep down inside, we long for that returning. So when we can't make it happen in the usual way, we create new homes. We put down roots and marry and buy houses and have children. We let someone love us and allow ourselves to love them back and build new communities for our hearts and our souls. And although it is never quite the same, it counts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Little One - Hell on Feet

Learning to walk opened a new world to the Little One. A world of terror for her older sister. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was lulled into a false sense of confidence in my parenting skills by my easy-going first born. The Little One is the polar opposite of her sister in ways good and not-so-good. Let's visit a couple of her more disturbing moments...

Allow me to take you, reader, on a little journey into the past. It is 1999. Visualize, if you will, a peaceful toddler, lovingly placing blocks atop one another, building a lovely plastic tower of primary colors. She hums as she builds, occasionally interrupting her toddler song to seek the approval of her adoring parents.

Enter the Little One, clad in leather walking shoes, stalking with purpose directly toward the tower, an evil gleam in her eye. Unbeknownst to the toddler builder, the Little One comes closer, closer, until *WHAM!*, one leather clad foot strikes the tower low, to assure maximum destruction, followed by the other foot, both hands, arms, head, and belly. The tower lies in a heap of plastic rubble. The builder mourns the loss, tears falling, shoulders shaking, chest heaving. The Little One, now nicknamed Madzilla, shrieks with laughter. Adoring Parents look on in horror.

Fast forward to 2000. The Not-So-Little One has rescued a ladybug from the birdbath. She lovingly takes the little red and black backstroker to warm on the concrete of the driveway in the morning sun, watching closely for signs of recovery. She announces to Adoring Parents that the ladybug is still alive. Adoring Parents smile in approval of their nurturing prodigy.

Along comes the Little One armed with a big stick. (No, we don't ordinarily allow toddlers to play with big sticks.) She walks directly toward the infirmary, makes one hasty assessment of the red and black sunbather, and stabs it with the stick with the speed and accuracy of a Hellenistic warrior. Shrieks ensue - this time the Not-So-Little One's wails are matched decibel for decibel by the shouts of Adoring Parents. The Little One wanders away, unabashed and unashamed of her behavior, mumbling something about an icky bug...

As the Not-So-Little One's sobs subside, she bends close to the patient and pronounces that she is "not all dead." Adoring Parents kneel beside her and view the dubious condition of the now legless and partially flattened insect. They are astounded and touched by the optimism of the budding Albert Schweitzer. No one notices the return of Madzilla. She hurries back to the scene of the crime and quickly, before anyone can stop her, stomps and grinds the doomed ladybug into the concrete, finishing her off for good. Adoring Parents are too shocked to respond, the Not-So-Little One falls face down onto the ground in inconsolable sobs, whimpering her sister's name over and over. Madzilla mutters something about a 'sgusting bug as she waddles off. Adoring Parents stammer and sputter words like "serial killer" and "sociopath" and "psychotherapy"...

At what point exactly should parents be concerned about the sadistic tendencies of their spawn?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Howdy, Folks!

That's how Big Tex greeted us at the State Fair this weekend. Big Tex is friendly like that. Every year. At one hour intervals. I love that in a man.....

I met a local celebrity at the State Fair. I was sitting on a bench with the Not-So-Little One, waiting for Mikel and the Little One to finish some kid activity (which the Not-So-Little One felt was beneath her), when Channel 8 meteorologist Greg Fields asked if the seat next to us was taken. I cleverly answered, "By you!" I'm so smooth when I meet celebrities. I was proud of myself for not making some stupid remark about the weather, especially after several other strangers walked up and asked him if he brought any rain with him. "I'll bet he never hears that," I smirked to myself. Instead, I met his beautiful wife and equally gorgeous baby daughter. We talked about junk food, my favorite topic.

I turned to the Not-So-Little One and asked her how it felt to sit next to a celebrity. She looked confused, and Mr Fields said, "Nah. A celebrity to her would be Hannah Montana, not a weatherman." She nodded in agreement, and we had a good laugh over that. It was the highlight of my State Fair experience. Mikel one-upped me and reminded me that he sang tenor with Channel 5 meteorlogist David Finfrock once...

And now for the peculiar part of my State Fair experience: We went to watch swine judging. I know diddly about swine other than how tasty they are. And I have never watched swine being judged. Which was a fine reason to go watch. Maybe I would learn something. And I did. I learned that they have to keep the animals moving for the judge, which they do with a switch or quirt, whatever they call it in the swine world. And if that little thing doesn't do the trick, they use what looks a lot like a sawed off broom handle. And they whack the poor things! Sometimes they wail on them. So hard that their little shaved and oiled pink bodies show marks. The Not-So-Little One called it cruel. The Little One called it rude. Mikel called it Pig Whacking. I'm not sure what was more disturbing - the whacking or the naked appearance of a shaved pink pig.

I ate my usual Fletcher's corn dog. It was delicious. And it made me sick. If I'd known this new healthy lifestyle would render it impossible to eat my favorite greasy foods, I might have shunned the idea. Maybe it's not too late.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Little One - Ambulation

My youngest has always been amusing. Even before she was born she would lie really still in the womb, for days, just to see if I would run to the OB's office to check on her. Which of course I would. She was always fine. I was convinced I could feel her chuckling in there.

So I've decided to post a series of anecdotes devoted to the Little One. Warning: If you are driven to self-flagellation and gouging of the eyes when reading kid stories, these are not for you.

When she was able to crawl, the Little One would very quietly sneak (yes, I did say sneak) up behind me as I was busily washing dishes or stirring a pot on the stove and suddenly grab the back of my leg. Suds would splatter, stifled curse words would fly, and Mom would spin around to find a minuscule onesie-clad sprite directly behind her, giggling her diaper off. I never knew when she would strike.

When she learned to walk, she discovered a whole new world of adventure known in households the world over as "the fireplace." No matter how many different techniques were used to secure the entrance to this mecca of soot and delight, she would find a way in. Life for Mom became a daily routine of barring the gates of fire and restoring the now black child to her former pink self.

About a day after she learned to walk, the Little One began to run. Running is one of her favorite activities. But running in this house is synonymous with injury. The living room in our house is sunken. One must negotiate a step when traversing from the living room to the dining room, a task easily accomplished when moving at speeds under 50mph. Several times a day for six years the Little One wiped out running between these two rooms. And she always, ALWAYS, looked utterly shocked when she ended up face down on the floor. And... Mom always had a good belly laugh over it. There's something quite satisfying in that I-told-you-so moment of seeing your child suffer the exact consequence of which you warned only seconds before the incident. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Her Royal Dorkness

I got over worrying about what other people thought of me a long time ago. So here are a few of the things I enjoy that are probably on your "dork" list:

Barry Manilow

barbershop music

fabric stores

sappy love songs

mixing my peas with my mashed potatoes

long hair (on either gender)

guys with earrings

soap operas

light (I mean really light) reading

reading books to my girls, complete with voices

80s music (especially handy for boogy-ing down in the kitchen while washing dishes)

Dancing with the Stars

And something new - I've "discovered" a group called Celtic Woman. Another terrific reason to watch PBS. Wow, I love these ladies. I've been contemplating why I like them so much, and I've realized that I identify with them on some level. I guess I have had similar vocal training, because I can sing along with them (except the songs in Gaelic). We breathe the same way, we enunciate the same way, we use vibrato the same way. Vowels match. Placement is very similar. Apparently I was simply born on the wrong continent.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lookin' Good

I supervise a few employees in an outreach and education program at a social service agency. My staff is awesome. I wish I could take full credit for them, mention how savvy I am at hiring capable folks, etc. But the truth is, these folks are not only capable, they are trustworthy and ethical and compassionate. They make me look good.

I wrangle two tween girls. My daughters are awesome. I wish I could take full credit for them, cite my amazing parenting skills, etc. (I have great help in the parenting department.) But the truth is that they are just easy to deal with and smart and caring. They make me look good.

I direct two choirs at church - an adult choir and a children's choir. These singers are awesome. I wish I could take full credit for them, brag about my teaching skills and leadership abilities. But the truth is these singers really work hard. They follow instruction, they take risks, they have a sense of humor. They make me look good.

I co-facilitate a depression support group once a week. The members are awesome. They try to give me full credit for how helpful the group experience is, but I can't take the credit. The truth is the members run the group. I direct traffic. They listen, validate, confront, suggest. And they make me look good.