Monday, September 28, 2015

Little House on The Prairie

The Husband left on Wednesday for two weeks of work in Arkansas. That's the price we pay for him working from home the rest of the time. It's worth it, I remind myself. And we have school and church and FaceTime and PBS and play dates to keep us sane. I am grateful for all these, but when I start to throw a pity party I feel a little like we're Little House on the Prairie* and Pa has gone west to look for gold or drive cattle, or other things Pas go west for.
*The book, not the terrible tv show.

Wednesday, September 23rd- Pa left before sunrise this morning headed west. He'll send word when he's arrived at his destination. Me and the boys will miss him something fierce, but we're charged with taking care of the farm until he returns. I took the boys into town for their schoolin, and returned to get them when I was done with work. We're thankful to have my mama nearby to help. The first day was a success.

Thursday, September 24th- Pa sent word that he'd made it all the way to Arkansas. The eldest boy went to learn in the woods for hours with friends. When he came back, he reported he'd learned a new word: "butt hole". He later remembered the word as "whole butt". Katherine came over to keep the boys while I worked, and the baby hardly slept any all day. The boy said he cried a good deal of the afternoon. My daddy and stepmom were planning to have the eldest over to his house for a spell, but my daddy accidentally drank some paint thinner that someone had poured into a water bottle, and he had fallen ill and had to be seen by a doctor. Those that were with him said he was acting as though he'd taken to the bottle. We're thankful he's better now.

Friday, September 25th- First thing in the morning The Boy fell out of his chair and hit his head on the hard wooden floor. He cried for his Pa, but I was the only one here to tend to him. I got the boys ready for their weekly bath, and found a tick on the eldest. Then the baby pooped in the tub and everybody had to get out. I sent the eldest down to the neighbor's to fetch some rubbing alcohol to smother the tick with. The Boy was right scaired, but he was brave, and we got the tick off. This was all before 8:00am. The boys went back to school for their learning while I went to work again. We have settled into a nice routine. They go to bed at nightfall, and I finish chores and go to bed soon after.

Saturday, September 26th- Our friend Heather came over with her two boys, and we worked all morning putting up food for the winter. In the afternoon my daddy came to fetch the boys and have them stay with him for the night. I went to the general store to pick up some necessities, and had half a mind to stop at the saloon but did not. When I got home my old friend Netflix dropped in to tell me some stories while I finished chores. I slept as soundly as I ever have.

Sunday, September 27th- I didn't go to church this morning, on account of the boys being gone. I rested up so I would have energy for the rest of the week. When the boys came back home, we ate lunch and rested, then got some fresh air outside. I scolded the boys for playing too rough. Our friend Maura's husband has gone west too. We were going to get together, but she sent word that her Freddie has taken a fever. We pray godspeed for his recovery, and she'll send word again when he's feeling better.

Monday, September 28th- The eldest returned to town for learning again today, and it's a good thing because the long rainy days are good for the crops, but they are wearing on us. We got a letter from Pa saying he is doing well. He says he is working hard, but he leaves out the part where he is resting well and eating good food so that I do not become bitter. Pa is a smart man. Even though this feels like The Long(est) Winter we're happy to know he'll be home within the fortnight.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Talent Show

Our church does an annual talent show and chili cook off. People come and perform their musical pieces, their well-rehearsed duets, their magic shows, their piano recital pieces, and their Broadways musical renditions. We've got some serious talent. The crowd is super supportive- it's a bunch of mamas and daddies and families who will clap for you just for breathing.

So this year The Boy decided that he wanted to participate. We asked him what he wanted to do, and he was torn between singing We Will Rock You or dancing to Watch Me Whip And Nae Nae. In the end he went with the dance because he doesn't actually know that many words of We Will Rock You, he just repeats what he knows over and over.

He knows the entire dance. He watches it on YouTube and tries to emulate the kids on the video. He can do it (and does it regularly) all on his own. But I still wanted him to practice. The Husband accused me of being a Dance Mom, but I think you should take it seriously when you commit to something. So I had him practice a few times at home. He did it for grandparents, and another time I had him use the porch as his stage.

So Sunday night rolled around, and one kid played Harry Potter theme music on the cello. Another did a variety show complete with song, piano, and magic show. Two teens (in color coordinated clothes, mind you) performed a brass duet. Another kid sang all the 50 states, etc, etc, etc. And then it was The Boy's turn. He got up there and...

If you aren't familiar with this, I can assure you that falling down, running in circles, and shrugging shoulders aren't part of the dance. I thought he was done, and I was going to go escort him off the stage. But then

And everyone cheered and clapped for him, and he beamed. Instead of coming back to sit with us, he turned and went to sit on the front row with the other kids, AKA "the talent". 

After the show parents told me he was great. Others were impressed he got up on the stage at all. Others said he got his stage presence from me (He did ask me when we got there if he could have a microphone for his dance).  Following the show as everyone was packing up and leaving a few of the kids got back up on stage and were all dancing together. Suddenly he'd lost all his anxieties about being on stage, and he even broke out his break dance donkey kick. 

After the show we asked him how he thought he did and he said "good".  In that case, his first talent show was a success. Carry on, Nae Nae. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Long Shot

I was off today, and our only agenda item was going to a well-child check up for The Boy. With shots. 

Before 9:00 am The Husband had been to the store to get me juice for a possible UTI. Twice. I had peed 27 times. The boys had "helped" me bathe the dog. She had run, and run, and run, in big circles around the house the way dogs do when they're wet. And The Boy ran, and ran, and ran, chasing her in big circles the way boys do when their dogs are wet. BeYoYo had already put a toy salmon in the toilet, and as I went to fish out the salmon, The Husband unknowingly gave him cereal to eat out of toilet hands that hadn't yet been washed. The Husband fixed me quarts of pineapple juice with some apple cider vinegar for good measure. I started chugging. 

So this was where I was in my day when we headed out the door. Overstimulated. Tired. Peeing frequently. Not feeling well. 

We left with an hour to spare but two things to do before the doctor. I stopped by my friend Emily's house to drop off some baby clothes, and when she came to the door I said "I really have to pee!" and ran past her for the bathroom. Then it was off to Dunkin Donuts drive through to get a post-shots doughnut. We went ahead and got some doughnut holes for the office staff too.

The Boy had been an angel all morning. We showed up early to the office, and I unloaded the cadillac stroller and put BeYoYo in it to contain him during the appointment. The Boy loves to play in the waiting room, so I told him he had time. Then, as luck would have it, they were ready for us early. The Boy wanted to get more Mr. Potato Head accessories to take back in the exam room with him, and he'd already loaded his arms full. I told him no, and headed back. He didn't come. I left the cadillac in the hall and went back for him, but he was still trying to scoop up more pieces. I scooped him up. He was not happy. 

It was time for him to weigh. He refused. I talked to him patiently. He refused. I reminded him of his doughnut waiting for him. He refused.  I gave him The Eye. He ignored it. I picked him up and put him on the scale. He went limp. I shoved all his limp limbs onto the scale at once and asked the nurse if that would do. It would not. She coddled him, and he agreed to weigh for her. 

Next it was time for blood pressure cuff (aka testing to see if he had He-Man muscles), height, and vision check. He did great for all of those. We went in the exam room and I parked the cadillac with BeYoYo inside. The Boy became increasingly nervous. The doctor came in and checked him out, asked us some developmental questions, and we talked about his diet. All was well. She asked if he had any questions for her, and he asked her how old she was. 

Then nurse Tasha, who he loves, came back in to give the shots. He wasn't too keen on that. She told me how to hold him so she could best get to him, and he screamed. I don't blame him, it was rough, and he was having to be held down. It was over quickly, just like I'd reminded him. He didn't let that stop him from continuing to scream. I offered him his doughnut, but he turned it down. I held him and hugged him, and he continued to scream. Nurse Tasha asked if he wanted to go get a prize. He said he wasn't going anywhere with her, and clung to me. She offered for me to take him to get a prize, and he agreed. I held him, held the Potato Head parts, and pushed the Cadillac down the hall to help him get a prize. He didn't want anything to do with her. Thank goodness we'd gotten them doughnut holes. 

We got his prize and checked out. I put him down in the waiting room so I could get the Cadillac through the door, and he cried "but I can't walk!" and he puddled into the floor. I asked him if he wanted to stay and play with the Potato Head, and he cried "I want to weave here!" So we weft. BeYoYo waved goodbye to no one in the parking lot. Bye, Felicia. 

The Boy cried some more in the car. Surely it wasn't hurting as bad by then, but I think it hurt his feelings that Tasha would do this to him. I don't think he remembers having shots before. I offered him his doughnut, but he couldn't eat it, seeing as how he had to hold his prize in one hand and his injury in the other. I told him he was brave. He cried some more. In between sobs he said "shots", "stupid", "Gee-scusting", and "I'm never going back there ag-g-gain!" I told him he didn't have to have any more shots until he was 11. 

When we got home I helped him out of the car. He reminded me with a dramatic reenactment that he couldn't walk, so I carried him in and put him down on the sofa. He thought he *might* could eat his doughnut now. Daddy came in to check on him, and asked if watching He-Man might help. He thought it might, so Daddy found He-Man on YouTube. I brought him his lunch on the sofa, and told him he was getting to eat there because he had shots, but that it wasn't something we were going to start doing all the time. He tried to suppress a smile as he said "Can I do it again when I'm 11?"  Knock yourself out. 

As you may imagine, a little He-Man and a sprinkle doughnut on the sofa really helped him start to feel better. He was running around within the hour, but sometimes would stop to remind me how hurt he was. I was torn between compassion and laughing at his attempts at manipulation. He has been fine the rest of the day. But I would very much like some shots now. 

First People Problems

BeYoYo isn't feeling well. I took him to the doctor, who said it's just a cold. When I do take him, it's just a cold. When I don't, it's pneumonia.

So he coughed and cried in his sleep. He woke up briefly at 4:00, but I couldn't go back to sleep after I heard him on the monitor. I laid in bed until he coughed and cried at 5:00, then I got up to give him his pacie. He went back to sleep again until 6:00. The Husband got up with him, and started cleaning. 

He cuddled and coughed, took a bottle, ate a banana, then threw up from coughing. Twice. 

Waking up early gives me a false sense of time, I tend to think I've got all the time in the world. Once both kids were up I took the crock pot out of the fridge and turned it on. It was actually the dinner we were supposed to have last night, but I'd forgotten to take it out yesterday morning. I patted myself on the back for remembering today. The Husband went in his office and started working. 

Then, thinking of how much time I had, I decided to go ahead and cook some kale chips to go with tonight's dinner. I preheated the oven and got the kale ready. When I opened the oven to put them in, I found the baked potatoes that we were supposed to have last night. Ah ha! I took out the potatoes and put in the kale. 

Then I decided, since I had these potatoes handy, to cook a skillet potato recipe I'd pinned. That called for bacon, so I got the bacon out of the fridge. I put BeYoYo back in his high chair and gave him a little more breakfast before turning back to the bacon. The bacon was sizzling, the kale chips chipping, the crock pot crocking. BeYoYo cried and signed "all done", which really means "get me out of this high chair right now". But I had bacon on my hands, so I got The Boy to give BeYoYo a handful of puppy chow. Yes, I had my four year old give the cereal-peanut butter-confectioner's sugar crack snack to my one year old. Who had already thrown up. Whatever it takes, people. 

That bought me a few more minutes, which was good because about that time the smoke detector started going off. BEEP BEEP BEEP. I'd forgotten about the kale chips. The Boy came running, holding his hands over his ears, and asking me what was going on. I started fanning all the smoke away, while I was explaining to him about smoke detectors. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. BeYoYo laughed at all this from his high chair. 

The smoke detector calmed down, and BeYoYo wanted down. I let him walk around in the kitchen while I kept cooking, but he wanted to be held. I took him in The Husband's office and said "hey, watch him, there's GREASE in here", as though I was not responsible for the grease. A few minutes later he came out holding BeYoYo. "Are you frying potatoes in bacon grease? What happened to us eating healthy?" I flipped potatoes. "Well" I said "Remember last week when I asked you to get sherry for the beef stroganoff, and you accidentally got sherry wine vinegar instead? This recipe calls for sherry wine vinegar...." I explained, clearly noting that this was his fault.  I did not mention how I found yesterday's baked potatoes in the oven. "I really appreciate all the things you do around the house, but this might be an example of when you take on too many things at once." He actually said those words, as I was cooking his dinner at 7:00 am. "It might be" I said, "but...sherry vinegar."  He went to take a shower. 

I helped get the boys ready, and I went to take a shower. The Husband declared that BeYoYo was disgusting and needed to shower with me. Okay. I got in the shower and then I heard The Husband make some exclamations about excrement. Apparently he went to pull off BeYoYo's diaper and it had poop in it. He cleaned BeYoYo up and handed him to me in the shower. Then I heard The Boy in the bathroom too. BeYoYo was standing at my feet and I peeked out of the shower. The Boy was on the toilet. We have three bathrooms in our house, and both kids have to poop in OUR bathroom WHILE I'm in the shower. Then I heard The Husband ask The Boy if he'd wiped, and The Boy responded affirmatively by mooning him. 

It was not yet 8 o'clock. 

And even though I'd been up since 4:00, somehow we were late to Wild Intelligence at 9:30. I didn't explain that it was because the baby is sick and I found yesterday's potatoes in the oven, and I wanted to use the vinegar that we accidentally bought, and that everyone pooped in my bathroom while I was showering, and the smoke detector and puppy chow. That felt kind of like #firstpeopleproblems. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Mama

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Y'all, my mama is the kind, strong, supportive mama that you saw in sitcoms growing up. She's Claire Huxtable and Elise Keaton and Maggie Seaver, but she is most definitely not Roseanne. She is warm and inviting, but you knew when she gave you her I-Mean-Business-Eyes during church that she meant business and I BETTER turn around and be quiet. That's the kind of mama I aim to be.

She had an epidural when she was in labor with me, which didn't work, so then they gave her another. After two epidurals she started convulsing and they asked my dad to leave the room while they worked on her, then sent her for an emergency C-section. She's been quietly sacrificing on my behalf ever since.

My mama worked as a teacher at the elementary school when I was growing up. From kindergarten through second grade she taught at a different school than me, then in third grade we moved to a new town and we were at the same school. My peers would tattle on me to her, and she had a policy that I didn't get in trouble for anything she wouldn't have known about if she didn't teach there. And mostly she stuck to that. Mostly.

Like most mamas in that time, she worked all day, then fixed dinner for us at night. She was featured in our small town newspaper in the 80s with some of her recipes, her picture in a dress standing beside our old pie safe. Thursday nights my dad went to Kiwanis club so mama and I always went out to eat. (I particularly enjoyed the Wendy's Salad Bar in the 90s). My mama modeled for me that a woman could be a strong, independent working woman, and also take care of her family.

Then when my sister was born she went part-time. She worked from early morning until lunch, and was home with my sister by the time it was time for me to get out of middle school. I was challenging then, like many kids are, and I wonder in reflection if she'd have preferred to stay at work longer. There were times that I was ugly and she gave me some of my sass right back, but mostly she just patiently loved me through it.

My favorite story that exemplifies my mother is from when I started my period in middle school. It wasn't the first time, but when you're young you know sometimes these things catch you off guard and unprepared. I called my mom from school to tell her that I needed some supplies, but we had to use a pay phone in the front office where EVERYBODY (translation: probably nobody) could hear. It was vulnerable. I called my mom and said "I need you to bring me something to school." I gave her no clues as to what the something might be. Lunch, homework, pencils, I guess it could have been anything.

My mom responded "What do you need?"
"Yes" I said.
"Did you start your period?"
"Yes" I said casually, my inner voice rejoicing that I didn't have to say it in front of EVERYONE.
"Okay, I'll be there", she said calmly.

A little while later I was called to the office. The receptionist gave me a plastic bag that my mom had dropped off.  I went to the bathroom and opened it, where I found pads, underwear, a washcloth, and a note that said "You can just throw your underwear and the wash cloth away." That woman. As a preteen there were times where everything she did got under my skin, but I had never loved her so much as I did in that moment. She got it. I didn't even tell her what I needed, and she showed up with what I needed and more. I doubt I even thanked her.

In high school she was the backstage helper in the show that was my life. Food drives, club meetings, powder puff games, school dances, and banquets consumed my life and she was there helping set up, driving me places, and making backdrops for everything, while getting none of the credit and letting me shine in the spotlight.

When I started college I moved into a house, and she helped me pick out new sheets, curtains, and silverware. When I came home for dinner one night and my sister begged me to stay and live at home again, I cried, and said maybe I would move back. She teared up too, but she looked at me with her I-Mean-Business-Eyes and told me that I had to go back. I left my 7 year old sister crying that night, but it was what I needed to do, and what I needed to hear.

When I started my first job my mama helped me pick out office supplies and practice what I would say to clients. When I took my clinical exam, she helped me study flashcards and called out symptoms for me to practice diagnosing. She stood beside me in the bathroom as I threw up before I walked down the aisle to get married.

She retired just before The Boy was born, so that she could keep him. Neither of us knew what that would look like. I labored for 12 hours with him, and at the last minute decided I wanted her in the room for his birth.

After The Boy was born my mama stayed with us for probably 2 weeks. The Boy didn't weigh enough, breastfeeding wasn't going well, and we had to wake him and feed him every hour and a half. The process would take up to 45 minutes, and then we had 45 minutes before needing to start again. I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed, and I loved The Boy more than anything but this wasn't what I was expecting parenting to be like. She was patient, she was calm, and she used her I-Mean-Business-Eyes on me more than once. One day she drove me to see Pat, the baby whisperer and lactation consultant. I didn't make it in the door before I started crying. I told Pat through sobs how everything was going wrong, and how overwhelmed I was. Mama sat beside me, crying too. I don't know how we would have made it through that time without her.

She stayed again after BeYoYo was born, though our needs were less severe. The Husband asked me how long she was planning to stay. I told him I wasn't sure, and asked if he didn't want her to come. "No" he said "I want her to stay for a long time!"

Now she keeps our kids. She picks them up from school, she feeds them, she makes them take a nap. If I called her today and said I've decided to put them both on an all-liquid diet, she would say "okay. Now do I need to get them the liquids or are you going to send them?" Last week when The Boy got into Wild Intelligence the day before it started, I was trying to rearrange my schedule so that I could pick him up, but it was proving difficult with one day's notice. Mama said "I believe in this. I can do whatever you need so he can get to go."

That woman. I can't imagine what our life would be like without her in it. When I try to thank her for all the things she does for us she rolls her eyes and changes the subject, like this is what she's supposed to be doing. That's not like me. If I did something nice for someone I'd clear my throat and remind them of it all the time.

She goes to Goodwill like it's her job. If you need a product researched, she's your woman. She sews, she exercises, and she's active in her Sunday School class. She's a beast on a laptop or a smart phone, and she can tell you if there's an app for that. She has a group of women called the Shopping Queens that she's been friends with for more than 20 years, and a best friend she's known more than 40. She's been through a fair share of hardships, but she has endured and continues to have a positive outlook on life.

So today I wish my mama the happiest of birthdays. She is still showing me what it means to be a hard working woman and take care of a family- it's just now that family is usually mine. We love you, Pammie. And we are so thankful that you are in our lives.