Friday, December 28, 2007

Mom and Dad can hardly wait

You know that line in "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" about Mom and Dad waiting for school to start. I never understood it as a child. I was one small child who kept herself amused, nose in a book. Argh! I understand now. We are so bored. Bored, bored, bored. I know there are things I could do, things I should do, but I can't seem to keep anyone entertained for very long to do it. I let Baby D play with Colin's GameBoy. That can't be good! That can't be right! We should be making bread dough ornaments as thank you gifts for all of Colin's teachers. We should be reading aloud from the The Book of Virtures. Instead, we are sitting by the doors -- all three of us -- with our noses pressed against the window waiting for Brent, sick of each other.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Postcard

I became Jeremy's step mom when I was 24 years old. He was eight. One night I was rockin' the downtown Minneapolis bar scene, the next I had married Brent and was living in rural Minnesota with two small children and a house that required housekeeping. Having grown up the older sibling of one sister nine years younger than I, I knew nothing of small boys. Jeremy would run screaming through the house . . . naked. He would only eat chicken. He and Seth, the neighbor boy, started things on fire. He saw no need for clean underwear. I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Then he became a teenager and things got worse. When he was about 12 or 13, I (almost) literally thought I was going to kill him. I remember one time sending him to his room until his father came home from work. It was just after lunch. It was many hours before we saw Brent. I could not even speak I was so mad. I just stood there shaking -- my voice so calm and low, I was truly scared for everyone.

I take not one iota of credit for the fine young man and outstanding older brother that typical little boy has become. This Christmas Jeremy's gift to Colin was a piano composition he had written for him. I burst into tears. It was laminated and spiral bound -- the perfect gift for a somewhat hard to please little brother who runs through the house naked and only eats chicken. Later that day they went sledding. I watched them from Grandma's window going up and down the hill, rolling down in the snow, laughing. Sometimes Jeremy would pull both sleds and Colin up the hill. I wanted to take pictures but I was afraid to move, afraid they would stop or that they would start hamming for the camera instead of enjoying each other and the moment. It doesn't matter anyway. It's a picture carved in my heart.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Heart of the Matter

I've been thinking on Isaiah 23. It may not be the most cheerful part of the Christmas message, but it's the center of the season and it sure is beautiful to me. Here's part:

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Small town life

There is an old joke about living in a small town where if you get a wrong phone number, you end up talking for half an hour anyway. This has happened to me several times.

My sister lives near the elementary school Colin attends and Baby D and I go there to wait for him after school. Yesterday as we were leaving a mailman I did not recognize came to the door to deliver Sarah's mail.

"I won't take that from you," I said. "And commit a felony."

"Oh," He said. "I know you. You're 30 . . ." and repeated my address.

Why, yes, I am.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"My life is perfect."

I can't decide how I feel about the Christmas letter. Most of our friends and loved ones write very nice informative letters, but every now and again we get one a little over the top. I didn't write one this year because every time I started it sounded something like this:

Our lives are amazing! The baby is exceptionally gifted! He says "Aye" which as you may know is a most ancient form of agreement! I think he may have a career in foreign politics! Shelby STARRED in her first college production! Her fellow chorus members said they didn't know how they would have done it without her Jeremy is composing his own music! His variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" brought the house down! Brent and I travelled, travelled, travelled all the way to the next county and back! Can't wait to see it all again!

Instead I had everyone fill out a short questionnaire. That way each family member was responsible for his and her own stupid answers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mixed bag of sympathy

Remember how I was worried about Colin getting sympathy applause after singing his Thanksgiving song? Some of this has played out. Many people have spoken about how wonderful Colin was "considering . . ."

It's all right. Most everyone has been kind and supportive. I know they mean well. I have been very honest about Colin and autism. I have felt it's only fair to him and the people he interacts with to understand that what they get when communicating with him may not be what they expect.

It's a little hard, though. Why couldn't he be good just for having been good?

Than I talked to someone at a holiday party last night who does not know about Colin. He greeted me with this opener:

"Whoever started the standing ovation for Colin should not have done that. It made it difficult for the others."

What -- as Colin's mother -- should my response be to this?

(A) Oh! It was me! (It was not me.) I just can't help standing for my children!

(B) Wasn't that awful?! I am having Colin write a letter of apology to each and every participant!

(C) What an excellent point! Why don't you come over and explain that to him. You'll need to start from the beginning because he neither noticed or cared, really.

I'm not sure. I said," Uh-huh. Excuse me."

Friday, December 14, 2007

She's in a Winter Wonderland

Who else is not entirely put into the Yuletide spirit by Macy Gray Christmas carols?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deep Sadness

Perhaps you are not as familiar with the epic classic movie Elmo in Grouchland as I am. There is a point when things seem very sad and discouraging for Elmo and Bert stops the movie. He says something to the effect that he cannot continue to watch the movie; it is too sad. Ernie suggests that it will be all right -- no one would want to watch a sad movie and Bert replies, "Titanic."

"What?" Ernie responds.

"Titanic. Titanic is a sad movie."

Then Bert goes on to list a variety of sad movies -- Doctor Zhivago and I can't remember what all.

You see, I'm with Bert. Sixth Sense sent me to bed for three days. Was I afraid of ghosts? No. Was I afraid I was talking to dead people? No. I was intensely sad that Haley Joel Osmet had not found the friend and adult mentor he needed but was, indeed, seeing a dead person in Bruce Willis. I was shocked and betrayed.

I watched Titanic about three months after Colin was born. Remember the scene where we see the dead mother holding the frozen baby? No? I do. In fact I sat in the rocker next to Colin's crib and cried and cried and cried for this actress in white makeup floating -- very much alive -- in a tank in Hollywood or wherever it was filmed.

I am better at reading sadness than watching it movie style. Although I will have to admit, when I was getting my English degree I did have one professor who required a journal reflecting our response to the depressing readings in modern lit he assigned. This professor caught up to me on campus one day because he was a little concerned over the tenor of my writing after reading these tomes of married women who took apartments to escape their lives and just sat in the dark in them. I mean really. How is one supposed to respond to this literature?

My friends and loved ones know of my trouble with sad movies and often offer screening advice. Sylvia, my friend the actress who lives in Hollywood, has been especially helpful.

"You cannot watch (insert name of movie here). Deep sadness."

This is a friend indeed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On Dibley

My favorite show for the past ten years has been The Vicar of Dibley, a BBC show I've caught every now and again on PBS. The show had it's final airing last Christmas and I am really hoping that Santa is bringing me the complete boxed set this year. The show centers around a female vicar who has moved into a small village parish and the kooky characters who live there. Hilarious -- especially if you know their rural Minnesota counterparts.

So anyway in one of the last episodes the vicar tries to start a book club. The first book to be discussed is On Beauty by Zadie Smith. (On Beauty was on the short list for the Man Booker prize in 2005 but lost out to The Sea by John Banville. Apparently if we are going to win prestigious prizes for fiction, we need to start thinking of short titles.) No one at the Dibley book Club reads this book so they have to think of a book they have all read and end up debating whether or not Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh has made a conscious decision to remain depressed. So, funny. It would be an interesting discussion though . . .

I am now reading On Beauty and so far it's a very well written book. No deep sadness yet as is so often the case with award winning things of all kinds. More on my inability to deal with deep sadness later. . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beat Box Blues

I have just watched Blake Lewis, the beat boxer from American Idol last season, on Ellen. I'm pretty sure if he and I were trapped in a time/space continuum flux somewhere together in my pemarriage days, I would have dated him. And like so many of those relationships, I guarantee it would have ended in heartache for me. I always seem to be attracted to -- not bad boys -- good boys pretending to be bad. If you think about this very long (oh, and believe me I have) it's actually worse to date a good boy pretending to be bad because, at least with an actual bad boy, what you see is what you get. With a good boy pretending to be bad, you never know what you're going to get. Perhaps today, he feels guilty and he's going to be good. Perhaps today he needs to make up for acts of goodness by being especially bad. Perhaps today he needs to dump you because he has found a bad girl pretending to be good. Oh, it's all very, very confusing.

When I started dating Brent I was really at a loss. Here was a good guy pretending to be . . . well, nothing. He was just good.

And good boys, I have found, make good husbands.

Friday, December 7, 2007

O Christmas Tree

I'm not sure how old I was, but I'm fairly sure I was pretty small when I decided we were doing our tree wrong. The branches were wrong. The tinsel was wrong. The lights were wrong. I don't think I protested too much. I think I just suffered in silence knowing that one day I would have my own tree. My sister would say I did not suffer in silence. As soon as she was old enough to be my tree decorating helper her torture began. There were hours of "tree fluffing." There was an order to the ornaments. MY angel went on top. (I'm sure she has a blog somewhere about the continuing tragedy of not having her own angel because of Baby Jesus.)

I got my first tree when I was a sophomore in college. My college boyfriend had a family tradition of drinking a lot during tree decorating. I don't think those were my tree's finest years, but as soon as I graduated from college (and that boyfriend, bless his heart) I started getting really serious about my tree. Then I got married. Have mercy, I became yoked to a colored light tree man. I can't recall if we alternated by year or something for a while . . . then I got my own tree. For a while I experimented with a prelit tree. These are fine as long as they light. When they start to go, it just breaks your heart (and really the environment because you're buying a new tree).

My tree is as tall as my ceiling will allow. (Don't think I didn't consider that when house hunting, but cathedral ceilings are hard to come by in my price range.) It displays my collection of antique ornaments, Bavarian glass, trinkets from travels, an assortment of birds, little ballerinas pirouetting down the branches -- all precious, all delicate.

And then there was Baby D. The climber. The destruct-o boy.

My beautiful tree lies in the garage this year. My ornaments are still safely packed away. A 3.5 foot prelit pine graces a table in the living room high, high above curious little fingers. Colin decorated this tree with his collection of ornaments from Sarah and Brennan. There's representative ornaments from things that are important to us.

There will be another year for my tree, but this year, it's a tree for Baby D.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pass the saltines

We have all been dreadfully, horribly sick. I mean nasty stomach virus sick. All of us. All at once. I was, of course, most concerned about Baby D but he was smart enough to just throw up once and then he was trundled off to Grandma's where he made a full recovery and produced a tooth. Brent, Colin and I sat in turns outside the bathroom doors and waited to die. We didn't. I have the unfortunate habit of breaking out in hives whenever I have a fever so that was an added bonus to the event. It's two days later and we are still sort of sitting around nibbling on toast discussing flower arrangements for the funerals. What was all this about? I gave birth this year! Shouldn't I be let off the hook for all ailment for at least 12 months?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Once more with feeling

It snowed today which inspired me to begin my yearly piano practice of "In the Bleak Midwinter." I love that song, ". . . snow on snow on snow." When you live in Minnesota that really means something, doesn't it?

My piano playing leaves a lot to be desired so it really adds to the overall mood of "In the Bleak Midwinter." It's my goal to one day play a piano piece in public. I don't think anyone should really be listening. Perhaps I am at the mall or background music at the party or the pre-pre-pre prelude, but it's definitely on my list of things to accomplish. Be sure to be on the lookout for a nervous looking late 30 something playing a depressing song about never ending winter. If you love me at all, you'll walk on by.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amen, sister!

From The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.

". . . I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened." She sighed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Clean up on aisle 3

Well, we hosted the laws and in the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner again. We were trying to calculate -- we think this was our sixth year. I love Thanksgiving. All the fun and food without the heartache of the gifts. Everyone brings food so it's not very hard to host Thanksgiving, but it is the one time a year when I actually clean my house, so that presents a challenge.

This year we had mother/daughter cookie bake the next day so the after clean up had to be finished Thanksgiving night. The cookie bake was strangely fun too. Mom and her friend (our surrogate mother) Bonnie got into the cranberry cocktails from Thanksgiving and -- whoops! it was a party. (In the photo, Mom and Bonnie are showing you that they have stained their hands with food coloring in dedication to the cookie making process. Way to commit, girls!!)

So now I am done-done with Thanksgiving and that blob of Jell-O cranberry mold from Aunt Phyllis will just have to wait there on the side of the fridge until next year's Thanksgiving clean up.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Our church has a Thanksgiving Eve service entirely of music followed by pie. In the words of Food Network star Ina Garten, "That can't be all bad." Usually Brent and I sing, but this year I urged Brent to sing with Colin. They worked up a very nice little version of the Chris Rice song "Enough." Colin did the arranging. They got up there and Colin could not have been cuter. When they were done, the next people to sing popped right up to go on stage and everyone got excited and gave them a standing ovation. So it was an accidental ovation, but enthusiastic nevertheless. I cried. I wasn't the only one.

I am a little concerned it was a sympathy ovation for the "special" kid. I don't think there was too much of that. It was good, even if I am a little biased and we have been through a lot, but . . .

I am torn between feeling amazingly proud, slightly embarrassed and horrified that we have a kid on our hands who God created for a purpose so much bigger than our little life in West Central Minnesota. We'll just have trust Him to work it out. That always seems to be the best and least complicated plan.

So as corny as it sounds, I am thankful for my family today and the amazing jouney that I am on. It isn't the one I envisioned when I was small, but it is just right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mother of the Year

I am afraid Family Court Services is going to come after me. Baby D has had a series of unrelated accidents which clearly would not win me mother of the year. Monday we were on our way to the grocery store to buy many groceries for our Thanksgiving party and I left my travel mug of coffee on the bottom step. BD decided he would like a drink. The coffee wasn't hot-hot, but it was warm and we had to have a very quick change of clothes. At the store, I had BD buckled into the cart but he still tried to make flying leaps over the side causing grandma-types to gasp loudly. I walked with one hand hold of his pants. Makes it very difficult to shop. Later that afternoon we started to crawl upstairs. I think I was still unpacking groceries. I wasn't that far behind him, but it was long enough because by the time I reached him, he had disassembled a night light and had a long scratch across his cheek about a quarter inch from his eye. Nice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An unfortunate review

I love Lemony Snicket. Brent and I bought his newest book "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story" yesterday in Fargo. We thought is was hilarious. For some reason, unremembered by me now, I looked the book up on Amazon last night. The only review it had was from a lady who thought is was going to be a beautiful and educational interweaving of Hanukkah and Christmas. She was very offended that Christmas was getting the shaft. As an evangelical Christian I can honestly say that's not the way I interpreted this book at all. Perhaps we need to get a sense of humor. So I am starting a grassroots campaign. Go on and either write your own review in praise of LS, or vote for mine. By the time Brent edited it so that I was not taking pot shots at this woman who was CLEARLY unfamiliar with LS, it's quite short.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Verily, thou doest boogie, baby!

We have been to darling stepdaughter's college play "Two Gentlemen of Verona: The love-rock musical adapted from Shakespeare." No really, that's the title. I love, love, love Shelby, but it is hard to know exactly what to say after an afternoon like the one I have just had.

"We are so proud of you!"

"Wow! Who knew a Chinese dragon and sombreros could be incorporated into Shakespeare?"

"I think my favorite song was 'I Come from the Land of Betrayal.'"

It wasn't the cast. Truly it wasn't. It was the show. Bless their hearts.

Oh my stars! I have just looked it up on Wikipedia. It won the Tony for best musical in 1972. I will be darned. It just goes to show . . . something, doesn't it?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shameless plug

Visit my sister's blog. The link is on the left. She has a most amusing blog today about life before kids and after, but under that is a link to a very nifty website that is giving away food to the United Nations World Food Program. (Plus you get to play a little game. Bonus!) Seems like a smart thing to do Thanksgiving week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Milk, bread, eggs

I am having a grocery list trauma. For many years my beloved spouse has tried to get me to use a Palm with varying degrees of success. I am a paper and pen sort of girl. I like the physical action of crossing things out. But I play games on the Palm. I keep an address book, but the thing I use most often is a grocery list program. It's great. You can have separate lists for all kinds of things. I have a Target list, a travel list, a license plate list (just in case anyone has actually read my blog from the beginning. Brent, maybe). Since Baby D has been born, since I have dyed my hair somewhere in the vicinity of its actual color, I am getting brave enough to say -- deep breath -- I am tired of carrying the Palm around just so I can play Chuzzle. I bought myself a small date book I can carry in the backpack.

The real problem, of course, is the grocery list. I always felt so cool, so Mom-on-the-go with my Palm list, but I sort of didn't like it because you have to hold the Palm in one hand, the stylus in another and you have to keep tapping it on. I felt buried in the Palm with no free hands to reach for groceries. I didn't really want to set it in the cart. It's expensive. My jeans may be of a certain size, but my pockets aren't big enough for it. I don't know.

I have been experimenting with lists on the web. is the winner so far, but they're a little weird. They want you to leave the list in the cart so someone else can mail it to the website. Apparently they get a strange sort of kick reading grocery lists. is my experiment this week. I have just downloaded something to the computer my husband will have to clean off later if I don't like it. Poor man. If only I would just do what he suggested in the first place.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Testing one, two, three . . .

Colin was three or four when we went to manditory preschool screening and he flunked speech. We were referred to early childhood special education where they decided he "fell on the autism spectrum" (ouch!). He does so very well now. He receives speech, occupational, and social therapy and attends a mini session of adaptive phy ed two or three days a week.

We are so proud of him and know for certain that God is creating Colin to be exactly what He needs for his kingdom . . . and yet there is a part of me that still kicks myself in the rear. I knew something was a little off with Colin, but I come from a long line of quirky people. I married quirky. I am definitely quirky. It didn't surprise me I might have a quirky child. But I should have been more firm, made more of a fuss.

So Darling Mindy, the sweet and lovely early childhood special education elf has been here today to look at Daniel. She declared she would like to come back and work with him because he is so cute, but there is no need. She will come back in six months.

All right for now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Things to remember

My last prenatal vitamin is sitting alone in the bottle on the table waiting to be consumed in the morning. I remembering a year and a half ago how completely freaked out I was about getting those vitamins. I had to have them. The baby HAD to have them. I was responsible for him. Before I found out I was pregnant was becoming -- again -- very, very focused on myself and what I needed and what was important to me, but then all of a sudden I was sharing living space and I had to take care. What I ate mattered. What I did mattered. Proper diet, exercise, vitamins.

The past year and a half has gone so quickly. Newborn hats have been packed up and given away. The swing has been taken out to the garage. The crib has been lowered once and probably should be lowered again. All of it happening without much thought. We are too swept away in the necessity of daily function to notice.

And yet there is my last vitamin . . . the last vestige of pregnancy and nursing . . . the end of an unexpected time of blessing, excitement, promise.

Right now Baby D is upstairs wailing because he does not want to go to sleep, but I am the Mom and I say that 10 month old babies should be asleep at 9:30 at night. He is exerting his own will and his own thought. This little person who depended on me for his very life declares that he is not tired and will not sleep.

And here we begin the process of letting each other go.

Damn vitamin.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's all worth it

Pregnancy hormones and I had a real struggle the past two years. Up and down we went with what seemed like a real emphasis on the down. I have not been entirely sad to see them go . . . until today.

Last year I got my very first flu shot and I remember thinking, "That was just a tiny prick of an immunization. I must be sure to do this from now on." One year later and I am thinking," Oh, my stars, where can I get a new arm?! How am I supposed to hold up my baby with this debilitated lump of flesh hanging off my shoulder?!"

I just know it's worth it. The only thing longer than a Minnesota winter is flu in the Minnesota winter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fly Away

Our neighbors across the street, Louis and Barbara, are packing their cars to head down south for the winter. It is everything I can do not to pack myself a little bag and jump into one of those cars.

I know global warming is a serious and terrible thing, but it's sort of hard not to see some of it as a benefit here in Minnesota. Winter is a long, frustrating event here. There's a pretty fall for four or five weeks and then it is cold and brown or cold and white until April. Prince had a song years ago "Sometimes it Snows in April." Yeah, it does. And even though we may not be the ice, frozen tundra all year round I imagine some figure us to be, winter is long and cold and dreary and, frankly, I don't look forward to it.

Well, thank goodness, I am not a prairie pioneer girl getting settled into my sod hut. At least I have cable.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's all in the way you say it.

Colin and I were watching Survivor the other night when one of the contestants, feed up with his camp mate, told the camera she needed to "Get over it, B***h!" Honestly, why must we have this in the "family hour" (HA!) of television?

A couple of years ago we heard this same word uttered during the seven o'clock hour and I said to Colin, "That's not a nice word, okay, Colin?"

"What word, Mom?" he asked.

"The word that man just used. It started with B."

"Ball?" No. "Beans?" No. "Bull----?" Um. No. Although, you're right. That's not nice either.

So I am not naive. I know my child is hearing all sorts of things out on the playground, but we certainly don't need to hear it on television in our home. Do we? So I start again this time.

"That is truly not a nice thing to call someone, Colin," I said.

"What, Mom?"

"That B word that man just used."

"What word?"

Well, now I have learned my lesson. I do not want to hear out of my precious boy's mouth all the bad words he knows that start with B, so I just go ahead and say it. "It was b---h. That is not a nice thing to call someone. Okay?"

"Okay, Mom. If someone calls me a bench, I will say, 'That is not a nice thing to call someone.'"

"Well, yes, honey, but I don't think anyone is going to call you a bench. It's b---h and mostly girls get called that and it's not nice."

I have this vision of my son, age 25 or 26. He is having his first fight with his lovely intelligent girlfriend. A la his father it's sort of hard to tell he is fighting but he's really frustrated and he turns to her and says, "You are just really being a bench." And she just laughs and says, "What?!" And the whole thing is over. Well, good for her.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

And the Oscar Goes to . . .

I am thrilled that my dramatic personality has once again over reacted in proportion to the situation and that the Room 406 Harvest Party was a great success. Mrs. P. has her students whipped into perfect third grade shape. Games were played in rows. Everyone said "please" and "thank you." One little brown noser stood up and gave a speech about good sportsmanship. (That's right, honey! Every does deserve a big "Good Game!" for tossing their styrofoam ball into the Halloween -- oh, sorry -- harvest pumpkin cutout bucket.) The hysteric meylay of spitball throwing, angry urchins fighting each other for the "good" prizes after the "lame games" were no where to be found, and I am profoundly grateful.

I know that I sometimes appear more worried (or upset or excited or disappointed) than I really am, but for some reason, this event really had me sweating. My sister, as usual, nailed it right on the head. I just hate the unknown. I felt like had agreed to something without knowing all the details and I was expected to perform in a way I did not feel I was gifted. I was particularly worried about the games. But here's the thing: I found someone who was talented at that sort of thing and she took over. Before we left, she was even talking about what games we could play at Christmas. She even seemed excited about it!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Room Mother H E Double Toothpicks

Tomorrow is the big day. It's the day I make my debut as Head Room Mother Room 406. I think I have everything: napkins, cups, snacks, markers . . . pretend valium.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Old Hook and Ladder

Yesterday we went to see my stepson march in the NDSU marching band at the Fargo Dome. Jeremy is a senior so we've been going to these games for four years and even though I'm not a real big football fan, I do get a kick out of these little trips.

It's easy to get behind the NDSU Bison. I think they've lost one game in two years or something. I get all excited and start yelling "That's another Bison FIRST DOWN!!" and "Go Thundering Herd!" and stuff. Plus there's pretzels and cinnamon almonds and a little green and yellow firework when they get a touchdown. What's not to like? I even found myself secretly cheering for the other team when they preformed what the announcer called the "old hook and ladder." Apparently it didn't work as well as it should have, but it looked impressive to me.

So, I was a little sad when Jeremy said this is his last year in marching band. He has one more year to go, but he feels like he's put in his time. As the Bison head into college football big time, there are going to be changes in the marching band program -- a full-time athletic music director, new uniforms and such. Jeremy has always preferred his music without a lot of pressure. I respect that, but I'll probably miss the call to "feel the thunder!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I've had an addiction to mascara for most of my life. Comes from having very little (few and small) eyelashes. Since the birth of Baby D I have gone out of the house a few times without it, but mostly -- even if it's the only thing I have time for -- mascara.

I'm picky about it too. I don't want to pay too much for it. It is, after all, just mascara, but I want it to perform well. I don't want it to clump. The brush can't be too thick, but my eyelashes are very sparse so the brush can't be too little either or it will take a lot of effort to get it on. For a while I was into this mascara that painted on . . . or something. You had to work it off with your fingers. It came off in little tubes. Weird, but it really stayed on. It can't smear. That I think is even worse than clumpy lashes. Raccoon eyes. I know the world loves Maybelline in the pink tube, but I don't. I've always got to be bucking the system.

Today I tried a sample of Dior or something I had gotten from Sephora (Is there any where else? Don't answer that, Brennan.) and suddenly this lovely odor came wafting to me. If you pay big, big bucks ($23) for your mascara, it comes scented!! I may have to rethink that bookkeeping job.

Nope. Maybe I'll try Maybelline again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thanks . . .but no

I was half jokingly offered my old job as bookkeeper at a weekly newspaper. I know this paper pretty well. My dad used to be the publisher. I had done every job at the newspaper except for bookkeeping when, one day, the bookkeeper quit and there I was. Numbers have never really been my game so I was a lot nervous about doing it, but Dad operated on a cash accounting basis (the "what you see is what you get" of accounting methods) so it was never very hard to tell exactly where we were.

My bookkeeping motto at the paper became, "Pay what you owe -- no more, no less." It did not come as a surprise to me that there would be costumers who failed to pay, but there were customers who would just pay random amounts -- plucked out of nowhere. At first I would try and figure out how they came up with this amount as opposed to the amount they owed, but after a while . . . well, I just didn't care. I would credit them and move on, rebilling them the next month.

When Dad sold the paper I worked another four or five months and left. It wasn't the job for me under the guilt laden eye of my father. No way was I doing it for a stranger. Needless to say today I said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Fireplace Carol

The wood was wet to begin with . . .

We just got home from a long weekend up on the North Shore. A great time was had by all, but it was raining or thinking about it the entire time. That's okay; there was plenty to do. We shopped. (I bought woolen mittens and got all excited to read about them on the tag only to discover they are made 30 miles from my home.) We looked for moose. We drank coffee and ate fish. We looked at waterfalls.

One thing I love to do when we are "Up North" is build a fire. My parents had a Franklin stove and since I -- for whatever reason -- got up at 5 a.m. to do my homework, I got very good at fire building. So I am in charge of the fire. Our cabin had a fireplace (which we laid all the chairs in front of so Baby D could not get near) and every night we built a fire. Well, the first two nights went pretty well, but by the last night I had run out of dry fire wood. I anticipated this problem and began drying wood by the fire the first night, but we were also out of dry kindling and it was just tough going that last night.

Unfortunately, this was the night I declared we were going to roast hot dogs and marshmallows by the fire and so a fire had to be made to feed my family. As I was slaving away trying to get the fire going, Brent was out at the truck -- doing whatever he does out there, picking up crumbs or some such thing. Colin came in and said he was heading for the bathroom. Fine. I kept working. I heard Colin begin the bathroom process and didn't think much about it until I started to look around for Baby D. Colin, for some reason, had decided to pee in a half crouch position facing away from the toilet (I think he was thinking about sitting later). Baby D had pulled himself up onto the toilet and was leaning into the toilet to watch the waterfall. I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry or take a picture. I wish I had done the latter.

I got my fire built. Colin declared he did not like hot dogs roasted on the fire. I offered the non-burnt one to Brent. He took it. I ate the burnt one. It was time to come home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Immortal, Invisible

I'm not quite 40, yet lately -- and I'm talking about the past couple of years here -- I've been in a bit of a mid-life crisis. Life seems more and more temporal all the time. Faster and faster it goes. My mother assures me today that the feeling doesn't get any worse after 40. She didn't say that it would get better, but I'm okay with the idea that it won't get any worse.

I have an uncle who died today. He had one arm, the other lost to a potato picker. I have a vague memory, as a small child, of being warned when he first came around, that he was missing the arm. I think I was scared of him for about a second. I don't remember now. Looking back as an adult everyone was probably scared of him. He was going to marry my Aunt Lois, who hadn't really brought any other boyfriends around. He was a lot older than she. He had one arm. I remember them making each other laugh. Prior to that point I thought I was the only one who could make Lois laugh (probably due to the near spelling of our names Lois/Lisa). I thought it was a good thing for Lois to laugh.

This weekend a well like local man was killed in a head-on collision. I know (knew) both the victim and the 16 year old driver who ran into him. Michael in the permanence of youth apparently thought he could not wait for the truck in front of him. Now he knows that life is temporary too. So quickly both families changed forever. He should have waited. He knows that now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

So, today is BLOG ACTION DAY and we're supposed to be writing about the environment. It's probably a bad time to mention that Brent bought a large SUV recently. It does have Flex Fuel.

It seems that in regard to vehicles I have married someone similar to my father -- whatever that means. Growing up, at least every year, Dad would drive home in a new car. We would go for a ride and ooh and ah, but never get too attached because you never knew how long it would be with us. Shortly after I got my driver's license he got a Corvette which thrilled me no end. It only lasted a couple of months until he declared it hurt his back to get in and out. I don't remember what he got after that, but I do remember I only got to drive it twice.

So Brent, as it turns out, is as bad if not worse. I knew we were in for it after Baby D was born and he started mumbling that there wasn't enough room in our vehicles for all his children. Now J and S are in college and the first time we have seen them in three months was this weekend, so, frankly we don't have a lot of call for hauling all the children around, but I respect his desire to do so.

The new SUV has a DVD player. I was opposed to the DVD player for a long time, but as you may remember during our trip to the Black Hills, I saw the light.

Oh . . . and . . .well, don't forget to recycle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

One is the loneliest number

Mrs. Peterson, C's third grade teacher, asked for volunteers to be room mothers at the beginning of the school year. I had been really feeling like God was calling me to do volunteer work at school so I agreed. I even agreed to be the room mother coordinator. Why not.

Now, you need to know that C's school doesn't have room mothers, so when I agreed to do this, I thought I was agreeing to cut construction paper pumpkins or police game time during parties. So imagine my surprise when Mrs. P came up to me at the third grade picnic and said, "I have the money for you."

"For what?" I asked.

"Why for the parties, of course," she said.

Turns out in the rest of the world that's what room mothers do -- they plan the parties. Every woman I have talked to about this in our district has been surprised, so I know I am not the only one who was in the dark.

Well, I thought, since God was calling me and God loves hospitality, I would have a coffee and all the volunteers could sit down and meet each other and volunteer what they would do for the parties. I had one -- yes, one -- lady show up today. Two others called to say they weren't coming, but that was it.

It's not like I don't already have issues about being loved and accepted by my peer group. But they don't even know me! Is it so bad I am rejectable without even being seen?!

Brent suggests I am taking it too personally.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tired Again

Well, I am just tired again. I slept through Bible Study this morning. Brent called to say I wasn't coming. I hope my group survived. I'm sure they did.

Baby D is getting up at 4 a.m. for good. I am torn between thinking he is having tooth troubles and thinking he is training us to get up and entertain him. I know his teeth are bothering him. I wouldn't be surprised if all four first teeth came in at once.

When the boys go to sleep I get all excited about doing the important things I haven't been able to do because I am chiefly chasing Baby D around -- like playing on-line bingo. Then I stay up too late for a 4 a.m. wake up call.

Tonight this ends. Brent has declared -- and I am totally on board -- that we are going to bed at 10 p.m. even if we have to lay there and stare into the dark.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm so Rhapsody in Blue

It's my life dream to play "Rhapsody in Blue" on the piano. I have a simplified version that I've been working on for about a year. (Obviously, the new baby has really cut into my piano rehearsal.) I can play it all right, but I want to play it without stopping -- play it without stumbling -- be brave enough to play it in front of somebody . . . anybody. Brent has heard me, and I think so has beloved stepchild S, but she's very supportive.

I'm not very good at finishing things, so I don't hold out much hope this will ever happen. My basement storage is full of plastic containers of cast off craft projects -- counted cross stitch, Christmas ornaments, a quilt. My favorite is a sampler I pull out periodically. It was a wedding gift. It says so far, "I am my beloved's and he is mine. --erta and Neil." I'm thinking they've been married seven or eight years now. I should probably think about another gift for them.

Monday, October 8, 2007

You get what you pay for

Well, I just wanted to cry for a couple of the Girls at ECFE today. The topic was how you balance your home life. One of the Girls announced that her husband tried to charge her $15 for "babysitting." She informed him that when you're the dad it's called "parenting" and you don't get paid.

I think I would have sooner stayed single.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another great mind ruined by education

I am proud to be president of the Malmberg Cousin Underachiever Club. I earned this title, I believe, because:
  1. I have the most undergraduate degrees and currently have no job at all (for the sake of argument we will not count the exhausting task of full-time stay at home parenting a "job").
  2. I started the club.

We've never had an official meeting because that would be achieving something, but I would guess that Cousin Josh comes next as vice president for having the most graduate credits without an actual degree. He's in graduate school again, so we'll see. If he comes out with a degree and works at McDonald's or something (and that would be fine), he will probably be president. If he gets an actual job, we'll have to kick him out -- but again, that would require a meeting or something so he's probably safe.

Cousin Nate is not in the club and never will be. He is (oh, for the love of Pete) a micro chemist. I was browsing some of his journal articles on line and -- now I consider myself to be a fairly sharp cookie -- I could not even understand the titles. Permanent black ball status for that one.

In my favorite photo of our great grandmother, she is reclining on a sofa she has made for herself in the woods. There is a large farm to be run, men to feed, our grandma at her feet begging for attention, but Great Grandma is reading the newspaper on this couch.

I love my gene pool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Better late

My one project that absolutely, positively, must be done this summer was to wash my removable couch cover. I just put it in the washer.

I hope my fall project doesn't involve anything outdoors.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Who's this for?

I really enjoy a trip to Florida at the end of a long Minnesota winter. Today it is six months until we spend our first full day in Orlando next March. To honor this day, C was forced against his will to watch Peter Pan last night and this morning Tinkerbell left a trail of sparkly pom pons leading to a Disney video for C and a stuffed Mickey Mouse for Baby D. C is too old to care. Baby D is too young. It reminded me of my friend who remarked, after several years of frustrating Santa pictures, who's this for? Is this for me? Is this for the kids? Clearly, the marking of this day was for me . . . and I think as long as we are all clear on this that's okay.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just call me Mrs. Fields.

My nieces, aged 2 and 4 were over tonight. Now my nieces are two of the most terrific, talented, beautiful and creative preschoolers out there, but they play big and they play loud. And why not, say I. But I was anticipating having to put Baby D to bed, and so I was trying to think of something we could do that would be of a -- if not quiet -- semi-controlled nature. I decided we should make cookies. Hooray for me! What a fun thing to do! What a brilliant and superior aunt I am. I pre-measured everything in my French glass nesting bowls. Perfect! We would only have to dump everything in and watch the mixer go around. Send me a Mensa form! They are in need of my services!

Everything was going perfectly according to plan. Older E was in charge of the wet ingredients in the mixer. Younger N was in charge of sifting the dry ingredients. I have a lovely, sturdy Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It is perfect for making all kinds of treats to delight the epicurious, but it does require a delicate touch at the control. (You see where this is going, don't you?) I rarely can get C to operate it because it doesn't take much to take it from "stir" to wheeling off its stand at number 8. Well, we were sifting and mixing and mixing and sifting and having such fun. I was giving E a little help which she was perfectly glad to get when adjusting the Kitchen Aid. Hooray! Cookies! Mmmmmm! Things were going so well, the girls decided they would like to switch jobs. Why not! We've made it though the tough parts of the egg and the vanilla. E dumped the flour into the bowl and N got ready.

"Okay, N," I said. "I'll just help you get it turned on" . . . at which point tiny, little 2 year old N gave that switch a big tug up to six. Flour . . . everywhere . . .everywhere . . . everywhere. For the first time since they had gotten to my house, there was silence.

At which point I threw back my head and laughed. Well, why not? What did I think was going to happen when you let a 2 year old at the mixer? And weren't we having fun?

Yes, we were . . . and eating mighty tasty cookies, too.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Live and Let Dye

My computer is back and I could not be happier. I know there's a lot going on in the world, but . . . well, I'm glad it's back. If anyone reads this besides my husband, you should send me an email because my address book is gone.

SO, I've been coloring my hair since I was 16. If God had wanted me to keep my mousy dirty dishwater color, he wouldn't have invented Clairol. But He did and I do. This week I talked my hair stylist and aunt of my choosing (not my blood) Sharon (There's one aunt, in particular I would simply trade straight up and if you are my aunt and you have bothered to read this I guarantee it's not you, particularly if you remember where the Mississippi River is.) into dying it a variation on my own shade -- I think. (It's been a long time. I'm not sure what that shade is.) I'm into truth these days or a close proximity of it anyway.

Baby D and I have not nursed in a week. It's not going too badly. He's fine. I'm the one who needs to recover. My mood has gone from dark to black. Brent has packed a bag for me and it sits threateningly near the door. (Oh, not really.)

If I do take off, it will be to hunt down C's "social therapist." She's an odd little shadow of a woman who cannot make eye contact. Ironic, isn't it? Social therapist and all? I have discovered today that she has changed C's Individual Education Program (IEP) for the second time in two years without notifying us at all, much less the 14 days required by Minnesota state law. Honestly. She's the Social Therapist. Am I the only one who see that this is very, very wrong?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's always darkest at 5 a.m.

Baby D was such a good sleeper until we stopped nursing last weekend. I'm hoping this has something to do with teeth or a cold he caught at ECFE but every now and then guilt wins. I am a bad mother. I quit too early. The rest of the world nurses their babies until they are two.

We made it nine months which is longer than I thought we would. I would have been thrilled if we'd made it six months. (Maybe I have said all this already.) He still doesn't have teeth which may have played a significant role. The rational part of me suggests I should be proud of what I have achieved instead of upset at what I have not. Welcome to the story of my life. (Malmberg Cousin Underachievers unite!!)

So, anywho, now D and I get up at twice at night and for good at 5 a.m. This is not enough sleep for me. I need 8++ hours. I am deeply tired. (If you remember the show "Square Pegs," I am totally tired. Totally.) This does not bode well for my ability to function. In my mind, everything I do is not nearly good enough. My house is a mess. I weigh too much. I spend too much. My roots are hideous. I am lonely. I talk to myself a lot. Today a lady at Target tried to engage me in conversation at the clearance rack and I nearly told her she had interrupted my in-depth conversation with Baby D over what size he thought he'd be in six months.

I try to remind myself to be grateful I am not a prairie pioneer girl getting my sod hut ready for winter. Sometimes this works.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My pet dinosaur

Today was another ECFE day. When coordinator Cathy asked me how it was going. ("I mean how are you adjusting.") I answered that it was quite the adjustment as Brent and I had been heading toward retirement or at least empty nesting and now we had a new baby. The girls eyes glazed over and then they went right on as though I were not there pouring my little heart out about how difficult it has been to have such a U-turn at this point in my life. Well, I don't really blame them. When I was 22-28, I could have cared less. When I was 22 I could not imagine life after 35. It never, ever, ever occurred to me I would be pulling preschool duty after age 40. And yet here I am.

Remember in Genesis Sarah's reaction to the news -- straight from God's messengers -- that she would have a baby by the time they came back next year? She laughed. What kind of laugh I wonder. Joy? Bitterness? Hysteria?

Garrison Keillor in Sunday's newspaper ( wrote that becoming a parent again toward the end of your prime child bearing years brings a particular sweet sadness and heartache. (He says it much better and more subtlety than this.) I think he means to say that one is so much more sensitive to the preciousness of parenthood when you have one beyond age 35. There is so much more to give and yet less time to give it.

Part of me wants to shout at these girls, "You fools! Stop whining! It's over too soon. Watch it! Soak it up! Do what you can before it's too late!" But I know, too, that it's a long night with croup and the freedom they felt not so long ago seems miles away right now.

Good heavens, I've made myself cry.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Live and let die

While trying to send virtual flowers to my friend Sylvia, the actress in Los Angeles, (read all about her at sylverlining. my hard drive died. If this were not the second one in three years perhaps I would be taking it better, but I had just gotten my new igoogle page set up just the way I liked. Hmmmm, now when I write that, it seems a little silly. I guess there are worse things going on in the world, but if you're waiting for an email from me, you're going to have to keep waiting another 3-5 business days for my new hard drive to arrive and maybe longer if I've lost your address . . .

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Those crazy Thessalonians

Baby D and I started a new Bible study at church today. (Well, I started a new Bible study and D went to the nursery. He had a very good time.) It's a study on Thessalonians. "T 1 and 2," as I think I will call them now, are much more interesting if you read Acts 17 first and realize Thessaloncia was one of those places that our old friend Paul was encouraged to leave quickly because a mob was running after him.

Most of the ladies came in and sat down with their Bibles and a cup of coffee. I brought my coffee, my notebook and my pencil bag containing pencils, pens, highlighters, a small scissors and a glue stick. (What can I say? You never know when you might need to glue something.) I feel a little like a huge geek and then again, so what? I will feel much worse if I am sitting there listening and I feel the urge to write, highlight, cut or glue and do not have the correct supplies.

I am leading one of the small break-off groups at this study and I was a little worried. I also led a group at this time last year and in my group was a woman who just wanted to say "black" if I said "white." I was hugely pregnant and ended up going to the Bible study coordinator in tears. We ended up combining my group with another and I was still the leader (I think I was hoping to be relieved of duty) and this seemed to irritate this particular lady even more. On our first day as a new combined group I had everyone go around and introduce themselves and say their favorite Thanksgiving dish (or something) as an ice breaker. When we got to this lady she introduced herself and said she was not going to name her favorite dish because it was a "ridiculous waste of time." At prayer time that day, we prayed in a circle ("Squeeze the hand next to you when you're done.") and she announced that we would have silent prayer during her time.

Makes a Christian sister want to act violently.

Anyway, today's group seems fine. So far, so good.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baby's got remote

I let the baby watch TV this morning. I was just reading in Parents magazine or somewhere that's one of the worst parent offenses out there right now. Great. How can you even keep up? When Colin was a baby it was verboten to let babies watch TV and then all that Einstein stuff came out and babies were going to be brilliant from watching them and now again watching TV is akin to letting him ride up front in the car without his seat belt on.

Dairy? No Dairy? Gluten? Chicken Pox shots? Good heavens, I stood on that hump in the backseat of my mom's purple Duster when we traveled. I'm not recommending that, but I am still alive. I didn't watch all that much TV though and I think it's made me a better, if not slightly addicted reader. (Be sure to check out and say I sent you.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lessons from ECFE

One day at Mount Rushmore Brent watched a couple in their 20s heave-ho their stroller down a flight of stairs along the trail. We had decided to forgo that trail for that very reason -- we did not want to lug the stroller down the stairs.

He said something like, "We're old."

"Yes," I said. "But we have a much nicer stroller."

So, Daniel and I went to ECFE "Baby and Me" class today and I learned several things (not the least of which was I seemed a bit of a cult hero for managing a shower every day). I learned that:
* My in-laws pretty much leave me alone.
* Girls in their early 20s think very little can be accomplished past age 40.
* I have married a very nice man.
* I am more together than I think -- because in spite of the girls concern that women who wait until they are almost 40 to have children face an uphill battle, parenting at an older age brings a peace and a patience I would never have had until now.

So there.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Manner die Tiefe

The new Tassimo beverage package I opened this morning was in German which added an exciting European flair to coffee time. Yesterday when I unpacked the box, this package had an extra paper attached to it -- which I saw were the instructions, wondered why they would add extra and promptly threw in the trash. Now, 6+ years of German class is useful for things like going to basement parties ("Pass auf dem Kopf!") and going to the movies (to see "Manner die Tiefe" perhaps), but we never prepared espresso drinks. Fortunately, the Tassimo isn't that hard. Insert disk. Press start.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cindy from USC

The other day C and I were watching his new favorite channel, the Game Show Network. (I have to admit, it doesn't take a whole lot for me to sit down and watch an old episode of Family Feud or Let's Make a Deal with him.) On this day, we were watching Match Game '76 when Cindy from USC was presented as a new contestant. Cindy introduced herself as a home ec major. Whatever became of home ec majors? Actually I know. They became sociology majors like my aunt, the professor of sociology. But, now really, why? Do we not still have homes? Do we not need economics in them? Perhaps now more than ever?

I ask because I have just noticed a fly living in Baby D's exersaucer. It had a good life there. Lots to eat. I feel for the fly but have nevertheless scrubbed the exersaucer out. I need a few college level home ec classes. Heck, I need a few high school home ec classes. My graduate level work in Milton is doing me very little good right now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Why so tense, Bob?

Do you remember the Sanka commercial where the man fighting with the window shade is confronted with an overly concerned Robert Young? It turns out Bob couldn't handle that second cup of coffee and the window treatment at the same time. He switched to Sanka and became in the words of Charles Dickens, "as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world."

It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning thinking about crabby Baby D and my beverage consumption yesterday. Lets' see one tasty Tassimo latte with the morning's email, two glasses of iced tea at lunch (each with two packets of raw sugar, yes!), one Caramel Cooler at Caribou (yum!). Huh.

C and I were done nursing at about five months. It was Thanksgiving and he refused to nurse but would take a bottle, held by himself in his bouncy seat in front of the Macy's parade. Baby D and I are at nine months and still going strong. I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's not really any trouble, but it's no longer a loving moment of nutrition between a mother and son, but more of a wrestling match with pinching, pulling and biting. I'm still winning these matches but I don't know for how much longer. When I start to lose -- that's when we are going to be done for sure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The first day

Baby D acknowledged C's return to school by crying all day. Not just a whiny, irritated cry, but a truly sad deep wail. Finally at suppertime, it occurred to me that it could be more than just pity for C and perhaps he was hurting and/or teething. A dose of Tylenol perked him up for a while, but he is crying again.

I responded with a headache in the upper right quadrant of my head. My sister "Nurse Practitioner" Sarah and my husband "Dr" Brent assure me that it is not a brain tumor (I am easily spooked), but probably a sinus headache. Sarah and Brent are not trained medical professionals, but truly missed their calling as such. They plan on opening a store front clinic some day. (Don't ask. We are an easily amused people. We like to make up creative if fictional plans.)

C seemed to have a good day at school. His paraprofessional said he did. He was in a good mood when he came home. His teacher this year is "old school." She had vowel flash cards on her desk when I went in and I signed a note saying, yes, I would be a "room mother." That's okay. I think C will respond well to structure. I thought my day would be super organized with him back at school, but with the crying and the headache and all . . . well . . . some days are just more productive than others. I just wish I were a little more go with the flow myself -- or there was a third grade teacher from the old school running our home.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

There's an enterprising squirrel out my window

Nothing like a 9 hour sleep in your own bed and a cup from one's own faithful Tassimo to refresh. The house is covered in snack wrappers, newspapers (which were delivered even though I put my account on hold) and dirty socks. It was a successful trip all round.

I never did get my South Carolina plate. Perhaps I will have to bring my sticker book on our planned Florida road trip in the spring. It seems cheating a little to hold a list over though. I guess I'd better find another sticker book or just start over with my Palm Pilot list.

(That's my Lila Marie tribute for the day, friends and loved ones.)

Friday, August 31, 2007

I dreamed of the south . . .

I bought a coloring book that had stickers for "collecting" license plates on a trip. I've always enjoyed this game and I thought maybe the stickers would inspire C to participate. As we were leaving the driveway, I dug the sticker book out and was going to pass it in the back seat when it occurred to me that C wasn't going to care and I was going to be disappointed if I did not put the stickers in the book. (Even though I have a list in my Palm Pilot of the license plates. It's not the same.)

So Brent and I have been happily collecting plates and our sticker book is nearly full except for several of those little northeast states and a few southern states. Last night I dreamed we were at a monument of some kind and I began a conversation with a woman who said that she and her husband had met someone from each of the 50 states.

"That's neat!" I said "We're collecting license plates. You're not from South Carolina, are you?"

Well, she was, and in my dream I collected South Carolina. Why it wasn't Hawaii, Rhode Island or the elusive Washington DC, "Taxation without Representation," I'll never know.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It swallows them whole

Before I had children I thought I was the mother of girls. We'd play dress up and have tea parties. I was confused when C was a boy. I remember a moment of panic when Roberta came to the hospital. We had big plans for what we were going to do with the new little girl. As I recall pantaloons were going to play a big role.

"What am I going to do when he has to learn to use the bathroom?!" I cried.

"Well, there's Brent," she said. "He probably knows what to do."

And so began my journey as the mother of boys.

Yesterday we enjoyed a trip to Reptile Gardens. I don't mean anything sexist by this, I really don't, but you need only look around to notice the little (and big) boys are getting way more enjoyment out of identifying the objects in the snake bellies than the girls are.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The first 8 hours are the hardest

The beautiful thing about Autism Spectrum Disorder -- and I'm being serious and mean no disrespect to anyone (I just like to find the positive) -- is that older son C has from birth been very self entertaining. This means, among other things, that he can travel in the car forever. While other girlfriends were buying DVD players and hoping for an uneventful 2-3 hour drive to Duluth, we strapped C in his car seat and drove to Wyoming, Florida, Washington DC. He was perfectly content to stare out the window and count telephone poles, look at a book, listen to music.

I'm not convinced Baby D is going to be as cooperative. Granted he is only 8 months old and is in the rear facing car seat, but C set the bar pretty high for easy car travel. The journey across South Dakota took two hours longer than I thought it would. We had many stretching stops.

In desperation in the middle of the state, I grabbed the DVD player (a Christmas gift for C last year that has barely been used) and crammed it between the headrests.

"Did you bring any Blue's Clues?" I asked hopefully of C, knowing Blue is a little young for him these days.

"Yeah," he said handing me a movie clearly belonging to Cousin E.

"This is E's," I said. "How long have you had this?"

"It's okay," he said. "She can watch something else."

True enough but not really the point.

We are here at the very end of tourist season in Black Hills country. We stopped at Wall when it became clear we were going to need another break before the last 30 minutes of our journey. In my experience Wall Drug has been packed with tourists. We parked next to the front door, went inside and ate immediately -- something I have rarely done at Wall Drug because it takes so long. We had a terrific time sitting in the dining room alone, eating tasty fries and psyching ourselves up for the end of the trip. We are looking forward to a unprecedented quiet trip to Reptile Gardens today. We'll say hello to the snakes for you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

He's my handy man

Repair Guy was here this morning. I didn't even see him. He was in, got something from his truck and was done. "Yeah, sounds like a burnt out overload switch," he told Brent. My husband, who I know in his heart of hearts is truly home repair inclined, replied that if he'd only known he would have gotten the one off his work bench.

We are getting ready to pack up for the big cross state trip. What is it about getting ready to go on vacation? The work very nearly cancels out any fun that might be had. There's all that laundry and deciding what the weather will be like, making sure you have enough reading material, baby stuff, baby stuff, baby stuff.

Ah, but for me, it's all forgotten the moment the car starts -- the moment I turn onto the freeway and gaze at the Great Plain before me. All that open road. All those places to go. All those car snacks to eat and magazines to be read.

So little time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eat the ice cream first

The refrigerator/freezer in on the fritz which is not helpful while trying to pack up the gang for a quick trip across two states before school starts. I'm trying to look at it this way:

1. There wasn't much in there because we are going on vacation.

2. It needed cleaning . . . badly.

3. It didn't happen while we were on vacation so that we came home to a sticky, gooey, rotten mess. Hooray!!

It's still sort of a drag to juggle the milk in and out of three different coolers.

The repair man comes tomorrow. Bless their hearts our major appliance retailer only has one service man and he couldn't come until tomorrow. Last year, my fancy schmancy front loading washing machine had an identity crisis with its mother board and I got to know the repair guy pretty well. Believe me when the large pregnant woman starts to cry in the basement next to her appliance (like I did) things get done fast. So it will be a nice reunion for me and Repair Guy, I guess. Unfortunately, I am no longer pregnant and a non-pregnant woman bursting into tears next to her appliance is just sad in a pathetic way. I'll probably have to wait it out like everyone else.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fine lines

Baby D was standing just now in the crib looking at me full of pride because standing is a relatively new thing. It's supposed to be nap time though and I found myself torn between unabashed praise, "Hey, look at you!!" and a plead for mercy, "D, it's nap time now."

I find myself at this line quite a bit with older son C who has autism spectrum disorder. Last spring his paraprofessional assistant and I stood dumbfounded at the school park not knowing what to say as we watched him stand in the center of the seesaw. It's a feat which requires balance, coordination, fearlessness and an abandoning of "the way things should be done" which plagues him every day.

It's that conundrum of parenthood that if we do things correctly, we will work ourselves out of a job by creating independent adults. It's a process of letting go which begins at childbirth. Who knew parenting would be so full of emotional negotiation?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

. . . we're crazy

My sweet friend Roberta said to me one time, "At least we know we're crazy." I think this pretty much sums up my view of life right now -- at least I know.

I am starting month 9 of life at home with the new baby. I also have a 9-year-old and two stepkids ages 18 and 21. At least I know I am crazy.

It took me a long time to see staying at home full-time as a legitimate occupation. My mother and both my grandmothers worked. What does a stay at home mom do all day? Besides clean up spit up? I'm still not sure, but I'll tell you this . . . I sure am glad to be here.