Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Teary Eyes and Crepey Skin (A Valentine's Day Post)

*After I initially posted this piece I realized that it was almost kind of appropriate for the holiday!

I don't know for sure when I understood the principle that old people are just young people whose skin has gone and shriveled up on them, but I am so intrigued by the concept. I cannot help but look at random teary eyed, crepey skinned old folks and see a young person with their whole lives ahead of them. I try not to stare too long, but I want to stare as long as it takes to grasp the reality that I'm looking at someone that played in the dirt, learned to ride a bike, served in the military, tried out new recipes, felt new attraction and fell in love. I never feel like I have enough time to really let it sink in, it's always just out of reach.

I've had a few experiences in the last little while that are stark reminders that my time for teary eyes and crepey skin is coming. I joined a basketball team a couple months ago. I've spent almost 20 years remembering how much I loved basketball as a teenager and young adult. I just wanted to have a chance to play again, so in a moment of irrational courageous midlife crisis I found an adult women's league, paid my $50 and waited for the season to start. I will write about my days as a chubby, middle aged, Mormon-mom-of-8-basketball player in a post all its own where I can really do it justice, but for now, suffice it to say that I was the proverbial black sheep on the team made up of much younger, much more in shape specimens. I felt old the first day I practiced with them, but I became comfortable and in essence forgot that there was a 20 year age gap with some of them.

During one practice the girls on my team decided that we should invite the young men, off shooting hoops in a nearby court, to come play full court b-ball with us. I played for all I was worth. I was so focused, so intense. I was having the time of my life for about 5 minutes at which point, having wet myself, just a wee bit, about 3 times (I hadn't transitioned to the idea of adult diapers yet), I could no longer breathe or raise my arms. I took myself out before I passed out. There was a girl there on the sidelines, darling and young, with long blond locks and a tiny waist, that was attached to this group of men somehow. I used to be very shy, but as a more mature woman I have grown out of this and so I struck up a conversation. It was then that the force of reality hit me, almost enough to wet myself again. Every last one of those boys on the court was 18. For all intents and purposes they could have been my daughter's friends. As the realization of my comparative antiquity dawned on me, it was as if my graying hair and arthritic knee started laughing. "Hahahahahah!!! You forgot you were OLD!!! HAHAHAHA!!!"

This morning I had an altogether different experience, but one that has kept me thinking all morning about aging bodies. I was driving Leah to school just after 9 so she could have the pancake breakfast offered by a teacher there in honor of late late start. (I remember when I used to get excited about pancakes, back in the olden days.) We were still in our neighborhood, which is a slightly sketchy part of town that is full of stray dogs and feral cats, when I noticed a darling white dog standing in the middle of my side of the road. Leah, fearing for the dogs life, while I was looking at it going 15 mph, said with much anxiety, "MOM! DON'T RUN OVER THE DOG!" I explained to her that part of my obligation as a licensed driver was to look straight ahead as I drove. I slowed down expecting the little white dog, with the floppy pigtail-like ears and innocent expression, to run when I got close. No. The dog just stared at me and then back at the object of her devotion, the Century Link guy. Now, I knew that the dog did not belong to the guy pulling equipment out of his work van but I looked at him anyway. Leah was chuckling, I was smiling and dumbfounded that a dog wouldn't run from the sight of a large  approaching vehicle, and the worker guy was trying to ignore the cute little dog. Eventually realizing that it was up to him to unstop the small traffic jam (another car had approached in the other lane), the Century Link guy tried to shoo the little doting doggie away from him back across the street where she came from. It was then that I saw this initially generic worker guy's face. Oooohhhh! Girl! He was ca-UTE!!!  He was tall, dark and handsome. Throw in the floppy eared puppy and the crooked embarrassed grin on the maintenance man's face and my heart reacted involuntary! It was as if the page from a calendar had come to life in front of my very eyes! ...It was like watching the Budweiser commercial from the Super Bowl ads on YouTube! I drove past the puppy who was still ignoring the danger, but was at least scooted enough that I wouldn't run over her. My heart was all aflutter and, chuckling, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see what my hair looked like. Dramatically I said to Leah,"he was cute!" She said, "what! The man or the dog?" Haha! Both!

I don't know about you, but I have a lot of conversations with myself. I once read on the internet (so it must be right) that it was a sure sign of intelligence. That made me feel a whole lot better about myself. The conversation I had with Erica this morning, as I drove from the scene of the unexpected heart palpitations, was this, "Erica! You are a 42 year old happily married woman with 8 kids! You stop that right now!" It was very effective, but I did start thinking about "cougars." Isn't "cougar" the term people use in reference to older women who are with a much, much younger man? Hmm, I get it now.

*Confession- I have no idea what gender the dog was.☺

Monday, February 5, 2018

What Goes In Must Come Out

I am writing this mostly so I can look back with fondness at the years of motherhood when my children still filled the house with stink and laughter.

* PSA for those of you with weak stomachs. You may want to skip this one.

Samuel fell asleep on my lap last night wearing his Sunday dress pants and no shirt. I did not have the wherewithal to change that. My recliner had been draped with a crib-sized quilt which we were sitting on top of. I assumed the quilt had been left behind by someone cozying up on my chair the night before because it was there when I got out of bed. Samuel, my sweet angelic caboose baby that is now 4, weighs about 50 pounds. Getting out from under him required a *momanuever. I leaned forward, picked up his legs from off my lap and dumped them behind my back, careful not to make him do a back flip over the armrest of my chair, and stood up. I was so grateful that it worked. Sometimes momanuevers, thought up in a moment of pure maniacal desperation, backfire.

Somewhere between 1 and 2 a.m. Samuel climbed up next to me in my bed. Not an unusual occurrence. John woke up enough to ask if he was dry, which IS abnormal since Samuel is NOT the bed wetter. More on that later. Samuel said his tummy hurt and then "popped a toot" on my back, this is also not uncommon. Mothers get farted on a lot. I was not totally awake for all this. If I was awake then I was falling back to sleep in record time, drifting in and out of consciousness. My eyes popped back open to see John roll out of bed then walk briskly around it toward my side and our bathroom. Samuel suddenly staggered out of the bed behind me. I figured John was helping him to the toilet so I dozed off again, but only for like 2.5 seconds because then I awoke to the sound of John's voice pointing out the vomit pile on the carpet between our bed and the bathroom. He got Samuel all the way to the toilet and now I had to really wake up because what kind of wife pretends to fall back to sleep,  making her husband do all the work of the vomit clean-up crew? Not me, I guess.

We have 8 kids, as you may know, and as unbelievable as this might sound, in all of our 18 years of working on the vomit clean-up crew we have had almost no carpet pukes. Really, it's true! I thought briefly about that fun fact while contemplating this Chocolate-Peanut Butter-No-Bake-Cookie-mixed-with-stomach-acid splat on my carpet and I kind of didn't know what to do. I went and got my pancake spatula (Bet you just decided to decline any offers of pancakes at my house!), a grocery sack, a wad of paper towels, and started scooping. Samuel is really good at chewing his cookies or else Hannah, the cookie maker, used quick oats, either way my pancake-flipper-puke-picker-upper plan was not really working. I did the best I could at 2 a.m. and was just rinsing out my first wet rag attempt when John said that the chunks needed to be up out of the carpet before we used a wet cloth. He left and came back in with a butter knife and a soup spoon. I'm surprised he wasn't wearing a bib. He was on his own after that. I refuse to sit on the floor in the wee hours of the morning daintily picking up minute pieces of partially digested food particals with the good silver. Instead I went in to the couch where Samuel was now recuperating and told him a story about a magic mouse who could make cheese appear whenever he was hungry. In hindsight maybe that wasn't the best choice. Who wants to think about cheese when your stomach is manufactuing its own curds? He threw up again a few minutes later.

Samuel didn't want to be alone. We came back to the recliner. It was a bit nippy so we stood up and I grabbed the quilt that was conveniently still under our bums. He situated himself across my lap so his head could rest on the soft arm of the chair, and as I fluffed the blanket over our laps, the smell of day old urine assailed our nostrils. Pee that had remained dormant all day and half the night night under this blanket was now soaking up into the seat of my pajamas. After a brief moment of horrified shock I made an executive decision... TO. NOT. CARE. Caring required a shower and new clothes and searching the house for a clean blanket. Some of you reading this will recoil in shock, some of you will just shake your head, but some of you know what I'm talking about. For some of us there comes that moment when all we can do is embrace the insanity and say to ourselves, "at least I am warm."

Before we were lulled back to sleep in our over stuffed urinal, I told Samuel how the throw ups can be contagious. I said that more people in our family would start throwing up just like him. His excited response, "then we can be MATCHERS!"

He is currently settled into a movie downstairs with a "matcher." His big sister made it to my husband's office near her school before throwing up in his garbage can. They have matching gallon Ziplock baggies. Dreams do come true.

*MOMANEUVER - the action taken by a woman desperate to get away from a sleeping child without waking them up. This can be anything from creeping at the pace of an ancient arthritic tortoise while rolling off of a creaking mattress after getting a toddler to sleep, to removing a sleeping 50 lb gorilla child out of the back seat of a vehicle while still wearing a purse and carrying ...stuff, stuff you refuse to make another trip for.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On Showers

“Hasn’t this happened before?” Yes. Yes it has. My 15 year old son was supposed to be AT his Scout leader’s house at 3 am. The famous last words…

Me - “Will you be okay getting yourself up?”

Him - An emphatic, “Yes.”

3:23 a.m. I am scrambling through my sleep to find the source of the ringing. Not such an easy task since the cordless phone was invented. Sometimes I miss the convenience of knowing exactly where to run when the phone is ringing… at 3 am.  I stumble toward the sound and end up in the kitchen. My first thought is always to prepare emotionally for an emergency or a death.

No death. “Is Levi up?” I stagger downstairs and there sits Levi in a fully lit up bedroom with his clothes still all on looking like he’s not sure what planet he’s on.

“Yes. He is now. He’ll be there momentarily.” I assume that my child is feeling the same urgency that I am and will take 3 minutes to load up his gear and get into the car.

He looks at me with his vacant staring eyes, grabs a towel and walks past me upstairs to the bathroom.

“Are you taking a shower?!” I’m incredulous. He’s almost a HALF HOUR LATE to go CAMPING! Camping is about letting nature take over! Dirt, bugs, campfire smoke! 

It doesn’t matter. He must shower. So I wait sitting in my chair, the recliner I resigned myself to sleep in the night before because after I came home late from a meeting, picked up my oldest daughter from work, and listened to her work stories (okay, I may have also done some talking) I found that my two youngest children were in my bed, in my personal indentation. Who wants to carry two 43 pound dead weights to their beds at 11 pm? Well, not me, but I did manage to put on pajamas as part of my effort to turn over a new leaf.

I contemplate showers while I sit and wait, listening to the water as it makes its journey through the pipes to cleanse my tardy offspring. If it were me I would not have showered. I cannot stand the thought of people waiting for me. I feel an intense amount of stress and guilt. I hate it more than head grease or dirty underwear. And to be perfectly honest, I was exuberant when I read an article posted on the internet that claimed that over showering was stripping people of their much needed skin oils. So, when occasionally day 3 rolls around and I’m not feeling too fresh and my neck feels like an oily slip ‘n’ slide, I just smile. It is healthy after all.

It took 20 minutes for Levi to get out to the car laden with his camping/canoeing/fishing supplies. I was still in my black-and-white-3-sizes-too-big-polka-dot pajamas when we went tearing around the corner without even taking the time to put on seat belts (calm down, it was only around the block), almost sweating with the stress that my son was holding up the whole group.

Turns out a couple of Scouts not only didn’t wake up in time, but completely forgot that the epic canoe trip was even happening. They were presumably at home packing. All guilt washed away… like a warm shower on day three. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

I've Had A Baby, Shout "Hooray"!!!

I'm 37.  I'll be 38 toward the end of this year.  I have just given birth to my eighth child.  He was huge.  They were all "big" but he was huge.  12 pounds and 1 oz (1.5 to be exact) and 24 inches long.  Him coming out of me was traumatic...and dramatic (that's a story for a different day/different post).  My body doesn't really want to recover and my mental capacities are quickly diminishing with each passing day.  In a nutshell, I'm a basket case (is basket case one word? hyphenated? what in the heck does it mean?).

I suddenly have severe ADD, or ADHD or lost-my-mind-where-did-I-put-it-I-need-(a)-cookie(s) syndrome. I guess it's not suddenly - it's been coming on for weeks.  Make that years.  I have always gotten some form of postpartum depression so it's not a shock but it doesn't really make it that much easier.  A little, but not enough to keep it from swallowing me.

My husband has been helping out by doing all of the grocery shopping (let me repeat that ... ALL the grocery shopping) for many months now.  I have mixed emotions about that but, again, that's a story for a different day/post.  He feels a great need for our school-aged children to have something in their lunch bag besides a crappy self-made bologna or peanut butter sandwich and a whole peeled carrot (I'm a total cheapskate when it comes to school lunches AND I force them to make their own lunches.  Sorry, it's called independence and the whole carrot is their choice.  They are fully capable of making carrot sticks - you know the predecessor to the baby carrot.).  So he has gotten into the routine of buying them cheap sandwich-style cookies (you know, like Oreo's but not as crunchy) and Cheese-its.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not opposed to sticking a cookie in their lunch when they're available (I've even been known to bake a few on my good days) but I don't feed them treats every day for lunch when they're home so I don't feel an obligation to do so when they are at school.  Interestingly enough,...I think it's HEALTHIER that way.

I've got to pull myself off the school-lunch track because that is not the purpose of this post...


I will probably gain 20 pounds just from sandwich cookies.  I'd probably eat less if they were too big to pop in my mouth whole (wishful thinking) but I go from the sink to the laundry room and my left arm shoots straight up and my hand dives into the plastic and comes out with 3 cookies...(plus one 'cause three are gone before I have time to acknowledge them).  Then I've got one in my mouth and I'm feeling the endorphins pumping through my veins and I keep walking to the laundry room and maybe even remember why I'm there once I enter.  Maybe.  Maybe I've forgotten and I need to return to the fridge area to jog my memory.

My dear husband gathered the family together a week and a half ago on a Monday evening and used a pamphlet on postpartum mental health to explain to our dear children ranging in ages from 14 down to 16 mo (not including the littlest one) how Mommy will be different for a while.  "Depression, anxiety, fatigue, loneliness...CHANGE IN APPETITE," these are some of the symptoms that he listed off and discussed with the kiddos while I sat next to him feeling  I didn't add much to the discussion.  We've been here before- after all, this is not my first postpartum experience.  So, why the insistence on having cookies on the fridge? We ALL know better!  Even (most of) me.

I have sane moments.  "I'm going to eat more healthfully for myself and my baby."  Green protein smoothie for breakfast, snacking on raw almonds and Greek yogurt sweetened with banana and wild blueberries, turkey roll-up stuffed with lettuce for lunch, stir-fry chock full of fresh veggies for dinner (because the whole family needs to be healthier, too. Right?)  Reality - sandwich cookies for breakfast followed by a quart of apple cider vinegar water because I feel guilty and I really need to get my bowels moving after a week of gut corking comfort/convenience food, sandwich for lunch (with creme filling, right?)...maybe more than one, followed by a green smoothie because I feel guilty for eating so many cookies, then for dinner I'll prepare something great (after all I cleaned the kitchen while powered by crunchy-creamy fuel!) while snacking on sandwich cookies to help me keep my focus and energy.  I'll eat a generous portion of dinner (x2) because I've already failed to the point of no-return and at least this is "real" food (it's probably tator-tot casserole).  It's a sad existence, a downward trend but by writing about it maybe
I'm "owning" it and maybe, just maybe the creative release will act as an antidote to the poison I have been repeatedly injecting myself with (figuratively speaking, of course).

Yesterday my 6-year-old boy came into the house from school, overheard me admit to a friend on the phone that I'd eaten all the lunch treats and fell completely apart to the point of crying himself to sleep on the couch.  So my dear husband went to the store last night and bought a lovely carton of sandwich cookies.  Thankfully it's Friday.  The school lunch sandwich cookie crisis won't happen for 3 more days...

My mom keeps giving me gas...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Dream Painter

I was perusing the painting how-to videos on YouTube this evening and discovered, much to my absolute delight, a painter who paints my paintings!  Let me explain.  For as long as I can remember I have looked up and seen tremendous beauty in the sky - clouds, sunset colors, vast expanse, even great granddaddy trees fall into the sky category.  I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to paint those amazing views but have lacked the skills. 

A few years ago I started drawing again (dabbled as a child and young teenager) and ended up working a little with oil, watercolor and colored pencil as well as the graphite.  Mostly I paint/draw faces, hands - people, but I still wanted to paint the clouds.  Someone told me that sunsets and sunrises painted are gaudy and tacky and I believed them (there are some pretty awful attempts out there) until I stumbled upon William Hawkins site.  Yeah!!!  Clouds in all their splendor frozen and magnified for all who view them.  And I have decided that I, too, will paint the clouds.  I can't possibly tread upon his territory because there are so many unique clouds and I will have my own stamp of personality upon my work.

So whether William Hawkins likes it or not (or even notices), he is my cloud mentor and I his humble fluffy cloud student.

I won't commit some internet crime by copying this artist's paintings onto my blog but I will post a link to his blog. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Evolution of a Softie

My oldest daughter was a 'binkie" girl.  My young mother mind worried many hours over how I was going to wean her from it and eventually she "lost" it.  She really did lose and I just didn't make any effort to find it. When it did show up I carefully concealed it in a drawer to keep for posterity.  Most of my children haven't used anything except their fingers or thumbs and I am keeping those for sure ... but not in a drawer, don't worry.

Enter "Lou" (obviously not her real name and chosen, not for how it sounds alone but because we usually tag it onto the end of her real name and then it is cute) child number four of six.  There is technically no middle child in an even number, but if anyone has middle child syndrome it's her.  She was a baby when Mom was at her craziest, a wild toddler when Mom was at her most depressed, she doesn't accomplish any firsts and she's grown out of the cute pre-school age.  She didn't use a binkie, didn't use her thumb or two middle fingers, instead she found the love of a true friend in a life-sized Pooh.

The older kids were given a couple of these Christmas Pooh's complete with scarf, Santa hat and, of course, the iconic little red Pooh shirt.  When Lou was about 15 months she discovered her love of Pooh.  She wouldn't fall asleep without him.  Pooh was easily twice as big as she was and as she got older she would fall asleep on her back with her arms wrapped around this Pooh and wake up in pain because her hands were asleep.  Pooh became more important to her than food (I may be exaggerating here a bit but not by much).  Pooh became so filthy that I could not count myself any sort of a decent mother unless I snuck Pooh while she was otherwise occupied and washed his poor yellow Pooh fur.  Every time I did that it was a complete catastrophe.  "His ears don't feel good anymore!" she would wail.  I'd reply, "what's different... they're softer?  Cleaner?"  "They just don't FEEL right!."  Eventually, though, Pooh's ears would get back that knobby gritty feeling again and she would be content.

I came to despise Pooh - Lou could not fall asleep anywhere without Pooh which caused many a public tantrum but also this Pooh represented my inadequate mothering for Lou.  I knew that eventually Pooh had to leave.  It's one thing to be attached to a little bear but a 2 1/2 foot tall one?  They don't stuff into your purse very well.  Well, one day my "Rage Monster" had a confrontation with Pooh and his ears were removed with a pair of scissors.  Poor Lou was beside herself and when my fire had died down, I felt worse than scum.  I called my husband sobbing.  Lou was crying, I was crying and poor Pooh couldn't hear a thing.

We happened to have a small blankie that came with a Pooh Bear newborn gift set (my new baby was only weeks old, which could explain the "Rage Monster's" visit) and I was inspired to take those ears and resurrect them onto this little two-foot-square "Pooh Bear Blanket" and thus is was dubbed.  As it turned out the ears were not just her favorite part but the only part she needed to get her Pooh fix.  Another year or so and that "Pooh Bear Blanket" got so much love that I was afraid to wash it anymore.

The problem with the Pooh Bear Blanket was that it was so small.  She lost it frequently.  I made a rule that she couldn't take it anywhere but her bed.  It didn't matter.  Somehow it got lost many times a week and she cried and cried until I stopped everything and found it for her.  Then we went on vacation.  She lost it at the beginning of a two-week long vacation and spent an entire week without it.  I was overjoyed.  Turned out it was at my mother's house and when we stopped back by a well-meaning cousin came running up to Lou with this blanket.  I was so disappointed.  Then hours after we were on the road again, Lou wailed, "I left my Pooh Bear blanket!"  Whew!  She was habit free for months then ...

... my sister-in-law gave our 1-year-old son this small panda bear (except it was new at the time ... and clean).  Not 2 days went by before I realized that Lou's Pooh had been reincarnated in the body of this little panda.  Aggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!  Okay, so a year went by dealing with the exact same issues as we had with the Pooh Bear and the Pooh Bear Blanket  - dirty, lost, sadness, falling apart, etc...  Then Dad told her that she had to keep her bear in her room or she would loose it.  Well, after a couple of warnings she did lose it - right into the back of Dad's closet.  Now "Bear" resides in my relic drawer (along with my underwear and the "Pooh Bear blanket").

Poor dear got loved absolutely to death.  She started carrying him around with her fingers crammed into his pie hole.

The final chapter of the story of softie evolution (so far, she's only 7 after all) is that the day before her birthday her big sister came to me and asked if she could give Lou this bear she's been saving for her.  She was so excited because she'd been collecting bear clothes and accessories for this bear.  I didn't understand why she was asking.  I said, "of course!  Why are you even asking?"  Famous last words.  Had only a few months softie-free erased the pain of years?  Who knows?  But it wasn't until the evening after Lou's birthday party that I walked past her reading on the couch and realized what I'd done.  You don't need bear clothes and accessories to fulfill this need.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who Is A Maker?

I make stuff ... a lot of different kind of stuff.  Edible stuff, pretty stuff, useless stuff, ... stuff.  Some would say that I have "talent".  Okay, so I have talent.  Doesn't everybody have talent?  I think YES!  There are people who will disagree with me, usually people who have decided for themselves that THEY have no talent, but I will disagree with them.

As children we are (usually) given opportunities to try our hands at many different kinds of things - bike riding, finger painting, writing, sandwich making, bed making, etc. - and when we make an effort to try something usually someone (sometimes ourselves) tells us what they think of if.  "Jimmy, that's fabulous!  You'll be an amazing artist someday."  Or how about this, "why can't you just color nicer like Sasha?  See how she is choosing pretty colors and staying inside the lines?" Okay, now Bobby (Sasha's counterpart) knows in his little mind that his coloring is ugly and that he's no good at it but Sasha is.    That, my fellow thinkers, begins a life of "I can't draw," or "I'm not good at this" or that, or whatever.  His fate is being decided at age 5.

As an adult is it too late for us to find and improve our talents?  I give you a resounding, NO!  If there is something that interests you, even if you've believed for your whole life that you cannot do it because once someone said something or didn't say anything, start trying it again.  You'll discover something marvelous if you do.  You've got gifts and pursuing your dreams, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others, will make you happier and better able to positively influence those around you. 

Make yourself a "maker" by making someone laugh, by improving your ability to juggle, by learning the art of baking, by learning cartooning, by learning to play the piano, by learning to bowl or make a bowl.  Be a maker and make yourself amazing.