Monday, January 31, 2005

"Dad, could you please put on "Caillou' for me and my babies?"

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Chris, at the entrance to the library, giving the kids instructions on how to act inside. I think it's going well. You?

On the bright side

I’m feeling optimistic today - lots of good news, or at least good things to think about.

First and foremost, my mom has passed another hurdle in her battle with cancer. She is on the last type of chemo, for her cancer, out there. In other words, if this doesn’t help, we will have to wait for a new type of chemo to be introduced to the market. The reason she has never tried this chemo before is because it can cause severe heart damage as a side effect. Now the good part: she just received a positive report from the doctor. Some test she took to check her heart came back just fine. No heart damage. We don’t know yet if it’s reducing her tumors, but we are all hopeful.

Another good thing – the sun came out for a moment - enough to make us all squint as we exited the grocery store this morning. It was short fleeted, but Utah in January can be blissful in other ways. It’s warm enough that the kids are outside running around without jackets chasing a remote control car they discovered in older brother Ben’s things. What a great way for them to burn some energy! I can’t believe we didn’t think of this sooner! They are running up and down the sidewalk just screaming and laughing chasing this silly car. They’ve been unusually whiny this morning, so I hope this helps.

Thirdly, we have an idea to sell the house back in Wisconsin. I have a great friend there, Kelli, who loves me, and my house, and would make a great salesperson. She is willing to host some open houses. So, we are back to square one – FOR SALE BY OWNER. Our house is pretty unique – it needs someone to tell its story to potential buyers. Kelli is our woman. She will give it the justice it deserves. Beth, another great friend, is willing to help me put together a website so that we can try to advertise on the Internet and also direct people to the site through the newspaper and yard sign.

So, not a very funny, nor exciting post, but I have realized that I need to remember – and acknowledge – any positives that come my way. It is extremely easy to get caught up in self-pity. Hey, I even exercised on my treadmill this morning! Things ARE getting better.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

We've been under gray skies for about seven hundred weeks now. I just needed to remind myself that Utah is really a beautiful place that the sun occasionally visits.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Smartie Pants!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

a proud moment

I just walked into the bathroom to check on Harrison in the bathtub. Chris had put in him the tub a few minutes ago and filled it with toys including those foam-type alphabet letters. Apparently Chris had placed some of the letters on the side of the tub, but I couldn't see them from my angle. As I walked in, Harrison laughingly said to me, "Mama, Daddy spelled a word without a vowel! Isn't that silly?"

Yes my dear one. That is really silly.


I wish I knew


Three HUNDRED and thirty four dollars.

That is a lot of money. Enough that it deserves to be written twice. Mmmm? What could I spend that kind of money on? A plane ticket to Florida to visit my parents? Some new professional clothes for my job so that I don’t have to wear the same suit over and over again? Nights out with my husband? A trip to a spa?

No, I’d much rather put three HUNDRED and thirty four dollars towards a check made out to “Wisconsin Public Service” to pay for the heat bill on a house that I do not live in. A large, beautiful EMPTY house in Green Bay that requires immense amounts of therms to keep it at a balmy 50 degrees so that my pipes don’t freeze.

I’m not sure how to handle this second house dilemma much longer. Monday marks the end of the ninth month that our house has been for sale. I am at my ropes end. I am tired of worrying about money and tired of thinking about this seemingly COLOSSEL mistake that we have made. The mistake is multi-faceted which makes it seem worse.

The easy parts of the mistake to talk about are obvious. Easy fact: we bought a home in Salt Lake before we sold ours in Green Bay and now pay mortgage and bills on TWO homes at the same time. Easy fact: we had to take out a second loan to pay for the down payment on the new home – this amounts to oodles and oodles of dollars spent towards interest and finance charges.

There are other parts of this scenario that are much harder to accept. Hard fact: We put so much of our heart and soul into this house that it has permanently altered the face of my family.

We bought the house approximately 9 weeks before Harrison was born. We didn’t move in immediately instead gutting the first floor (about 1400 sq. feet) first so that we could remodel it. My husband and I did the bulk of the work, but had a few friends help mainly with the demolition. Chris rewired everything, hung insulation, put in cable and speaker wires, put up drywall and then we plastered and painted. I did as much as I could in my pregnant state, but never could help as much as I wanted. For example, we moved ourselves into the new house (again with help from family and friends) and Harrison was born (emergency c-section) about 24 hours later. Needless to say, it was an extremely stressful time and I wonder to this day if that stress has permanently affected my son’s behavior. He was an extremely high-maintenance baby (some called him colicky) and still is a bit emotional now.

This house has also shaped my marriage. Chris and I had been married for 8 months when we bought the house. We had been together for almost three years, but I still didn’t really know every aspect of him, specifically his “dreamer” side. Chris and I both love old houses – their charm, character, history, etc. We are attracted to the neighborhoods they are located in and their often close proximity to a downtown or historic area. When Chris walked into our house in Green Bay for the first time, he saw potential as I did. He has a construction background, and carpentry skills, so he immediately started drawing mental architectural plans for remodeling this house. All of these mental pictures came out sounding something like this, “We could move that wall ...” or “Some do-it-yourselfer did a crappy job on that, I could....” What I learned, after living in this home for four years, is that Chris had marvelous ideas that required much more work than he was able or willing to put in. Our weekends were work sessions. It’s kind of like being in college – the “if you’re not in class, you should be studying” concept. The load on Chris’ shoulders of completing the never-ending house projects was immense. Our first years of marriage were full of stress (we had two babies through all of this) and I believe it negatively shaped our marriage forever. We’re ok. Don’t get me wrong, but I do think we would be in better shape if we had not taken on such a behemoth task.

So where does that lead me? How do I wrap my head around the fact that I just need to accept this as I do any other trial or tribulation I encounter?

I guess I just have to. I need to remember that some day I WILL know the reason behind all of this.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chips, salsa and a we know how to parent or what?!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

One way to camouflage a problem stomach area


Ella is hilarious. She is such a girly girl at times and it always startles me. I was never terribly feminine, nor am I currently. I remember being proud of my “tomboy” status in grade school. I didn’t wear makeup until late in high school. I have never liked the color pink, frilly stuff or crafts. Ella is different.

It started slowly. Instead of hurling the baby doll, we had originally bought for Harrison, across the room as he did, she cradled it and carried it around. That turned into an interest in having a cradle of her own for her baby. After she turned 2 ½, however, it has become much more noticeable. She loves the color pink and always chooses to wear shirts with flowers if she has the chance. She puts things on her head and asks, “Don’t I look like a princess?” She loves clothes and likes to take them off and/or put layers of them on depending on the day. She absolutely has no concern about matching. The more patterns she can mix together, the better! This year for Christmas she asked for a stroller for her babies.

Don’t get me wrong! She definitely can play with the boys and enjoys that too. She is surrounded by trucks, diggees and trains due to her two older brothers. Her class at daycare is mostly male and she loves each of them affectionately calling them hers, ie. “My Gavin” or “My Aidan”. Her brother, Harrison, is the light of her life. She follows his lead whenever she can.

I can handle it, but am not sure I’m quite equipped. What if she wants advice on clothes? What if she wants to join dance? What if she wants me to braid her hair? I suppose I can learn or adapt to all of this, but I will not, under ANY circumstances adapt to her if she becomes like Bree.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Organizer

My husband wishes I was Austrian

As I think I’ve mentioned before, we moved from a large Victorian house (still FOR SALE back in Wisconsin by the way!) into a much smaller Tudor here in Salt Lake. In our old house we had a large garage, basement and walk up attic for storage. In this house we have MUCH less room.

Every few months my husband and I find a reason to try and clean and organize the storage spaces that we do have. Yesterday was one of those days. We need to make room to set up my treadmill in the unfinished portion of our basement. (Remember my doctor’s visit?) Or as Harrison calls it when he’s in there – “I’m in the room that we’re not supposed to be in!” This type of cleaning basically involves me supervise Chris’ obsession with throwing things away. He doesn’t keep anything and expects the rest of the world to follow suit. I don’t have a lot of keepsakes, but if I want to hold on to what I have, I need to present to him justification. It can be exhausting.

I do LOVE the idea of being a minimalist. Of not needing things in my life, but who am I kidding? I am completely sentimental and therefore keep many things from my past: school papers from Kindergarten through college, candy wrappers in foreign languages from my trips to Europe, doilies and silver spoons from my grandmothers, my children’s tiny baby clothes, etc., etc. I don’t have more than three or four boxes now…Chris has managed to “help” me purge the rest. That’s ok, though. He kind of has a point when he screams, “We have too much shit!” (You have to be there to really appreciate the non-verbals that go along with that statement.)

The day was fairly painless and I actually think I may become converted to this organized type of lifestyle. The treadmill is now up, plugged in and ready to go. Why haven’t I used it yet? Two reasons: 1) We need to get another extension cord to plug in the TV (an absolute necessity when running like a rat on a machine in a dark, clammy basement) and 2) I’m not sure I want to start my new healthy lifestyle quite yet – there’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with that, ie. eating fruits and veggies, giving up large portions, exercising REGULARLY, etc. Whew! That is a lot for this inherently lazy person

Friday, January 21, 2005


I just got off the phone with Beth (who was peeing while we were talking, of course) and I mentioned to her something that she INSISTED I record on my site immediately so here goes:

I told her that I needed to go run to change my tampon for the hundredth time today. Having a voracious menstrual cycle requires multiple changes which is extremely fun in itself, but I have the added pleasure of working in a portable building sans toilets. This means I have to go outside to the next building for my bathroom needs. I mentioned that I was hopeful my experience would be as fun as my last trip (45 minutes ago) when I had a tampon hanging out of my pocket and had to walk right through the center of a tour group as I entered the building. The best part was that they were all in a circle that blocked the front door and I had to break through the circle and then walk directly through the center of the circle to get to the other side of the foyer where the bathrooms are located.

Whatever makes you laugh, my friend.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Mr. Mama's kids

I hope it’s a phase

Ella is 22 months younger than Harrison, therefore Harry is in charge. Whatever he does, Ella emulates and usually copies.

Things like learning the ABCs and playing with the train set are great things that Ella can copy without any concern from me. There are a few things that bug me, however:

- making short whining-type utterances when answering a question instead of using words like “yes” or “no”

- running away from me in a store when I am calling her name

- carrying Playdoh masterpieces all over the house leaving a trail that not only Hansel and Gretel could follow, but their grandchildren besides

and my LEAST favorite

- calling me “Mister Mama”

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Not one of my prouder moments

I yelled at a medical assistant at my doctor's office yesterday. Literally. Out loud in front of other medical personnel.

I was walking into the back area, to be escorted into one of the exam rooms, when she stopped and casually said, "Step on the scale, please." I panicked. Freaked out and YELLED. "I don't want to. I HATE this part. Why do I have to do this? I have an earache for heaven's sake!" She was 19, maybe 20, and just stood there staring at me as I took off my jacket, shoes, necklace, earrings and belt. I stepped on the scale and then things got much worse. She underestimated my IMMENSE poundage and had to move over another one of the BIG weights, instead of just sliding the little weight over. I proceeded to moan, "See! I'm at my absolute heaviest and I knew you were going to have to do that!"

As I stepped off the scale and re-dressed myself, I looked up to see three women just staring at me. I apologized. (Another one of my issues - I say "I'm sorry too much")

I would give anything not to worry about my weight.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I think I have Alzheimer's

I went to LDS Hospital the other night to visit a neighbor who just had a baby. (This hospital is NOT owned by the church, by the way. EVERYONE tells me this as if I’m concerned that the Church of Latter Day Saints owns the entire state of Utah. They do happen to be the largest property holder in the state, but OF COURSE we have separation of church and state here!) Anyway, I went to visit the new baby with Beth and we did the usual things. We brought her snacks, held the baby and talked about her birthing story. Even though I have been through this twice, I still don’t really enjoy this kind of girl talk. I feel out of place. Awkward, almost. I think it’s because I still am not ga-ga for babies. I love my kids, but sure don’t need anymore and I don’t terribly miss the baby stage. I don’t even remember it.

During the hour and a half we were there, multiple issues of babyhood and mothering a new baby came up. They talked about sleep cycles, feeding cycles, diapering, etc.
I had a hard time adding to the conversation because I have forgotten what it’s all about (or blocked it out). For example, another neighbor showed up and asked the new mom what the baby was eating. This of course led to nursing stories. New mom said that new baby was getting colostrum. The other neighbor was surprised because new mom’s milk should’ve been in by then. On and on it went. Who remembers this stuff? Who cares???? I tuned out which was easy to do because I had brought Ella and had to tend to her as she was a little restless after the first 15 minutes. Then, to bring me back in to the conversation, they asked me to swaddle new baby. Me? OK. I laid out the blanket, as I had probably done 50 million times before, and then laid new baby down. Then I was lost. Which side to you fold over first? Do you tuck in the bottom next or at the end? How do you get it really tight? I HAD NO CLUE.

I managed to get through it and then handed new baby off to someone else only to watch him free his arms from my lame swaddling job in about a half a second. At times like these, I am amazed that I am raising two children. Shouldn’t I be required to pass at test or something?

Wuh chu talkin' about?

Dave...THANK YOU for helping me with my website!!!

Mom, I have a secret.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

This is for you, Chris


I’ve been trying to write something on my blog almost daily, but instead of continuing to be really fun and easy, it’s starting to become laborious. I think I’m trying too hard to be a creative writer instead of just journaling my life. Since this is for me and my husband to remember the little details of our kids’ growing up years, I am going to start to relax and just journal the little stuff.

Harrison is sitting on my lap right now. Since it’s Saturday morning, we have the time to do that. No rushing out the door to work and preschool. He’s eating a chocolate sprinkle donut and I’m nibbling on a scone. Both are from our neighborhood grocery store which has a pretty decent bakery. It’s a Saturday tradition. Whoever has their clothes on first, goes out and gets two scones and two sprinkle donuts. Chris went to work this morning and Ella is still sleeping. The house is still dark and Harry is in a great mood. I have an idea. How about an interview?

Questions to Harrison from his Mommy:

M: “What to you want to be when you grow up?”
H: “A truck driver, a combine driver, a tank driver, a car driver.”

M: “What’s your favorite color?”
H: “Black, but I like all the colors. I want to drive colorful things, ok Mama?”

M: “What’s your favorite thing to do at school?”
H: “Nothing.”
M: “No, really.”
H: “But, Maawwwmm, I want to talk about other things. Ok?”
H: “And I wanna beeeee….a fisherman, ummm, a mountain climber, a hunter for animals…”
M: “Anything else?”
H: “That’s it, Mama. That’s all the things I wanna be.”

M: “What’s your favorite thing to do at home?”
H: “Play downstairs.” (our family room doesn’t have any furniture to speak of and is totally dedicated to toys)

M: “What’s your favorite thing to do with your sister?”
H: “Read with my sister.”

M: “What’s your favorite dinner?”
H: “Buh-sketti” (spaghetti)

M: “What do you bring to bed with you to help you sleep?”
H: “My stuffed animals and my blanky with balls.” (his blanket was crocheted for him by some kind old woman in Green Bay and donated to the hospital. They gave it to him when he was 3 months old and in the hospital for whooping cough. The blanket has those popcorn-type knitted balls on it, thus the name)

H: “Mom, let me push some numbers.”
M: “Sure.”

Back to the interview:

M: “What do you like to play or do in the snow?”
H: “I like to play in the snow because I like to throw snowballs and make snowmans.”

M: “What do you like to play or do in the summertime?”
H: “I like to catch leaves in the summertime and I like to play outside, too.”

M: “What books do you like?”
H: “Umm, my Richard Scarry book.”

M: “What football team do you like?” (It’s a playoff weekend…I can’t help it, it’s on my mind!)
H: “I like to play with my football.”
M: “What football team do you like on TV?”
H: “Ummm, the Packers.”
M: “Are you sure? (Remember I’m a Minnesota native desperately trying to erase the five years of our Green Bay existence from my children’s lives!) What about the Vikings?”
H: “Vikings, too.” (That’s my boy!)

M: “Anything else you’d like to say?”
H: “No.”

Theeeee End. (Thanks, Beth for the great stories about your kids. It helps me to remember that it’s ok just to get back to the basics!)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Family Addiction

I absolutely love city life. I like the diversity of the people. I like the variety of arts programming, museums, etc. I like the interesting little bakeries and coffee shops. I like the variety of ethnic restaurants. I like the excitement.

Living in Green Bay, Wisconsin for FIVE years before moving to Salt Lake City this summer, was hard for both my husband and me. We would relish our weekends away to Minneapolis to visit my parents. It would give us the fix we needed to endure another two months or so back in Packerland. One of the things we missed the most was the shopping. We should have just called our weekends over there “spend fests”.

Over Christmas, during THE trip, we did a little of everything in the big city of Minneapolis. Of course we were still able to squeeze in a lot of shopping. We told ourselves that we wouldn’t be spending money – just window shopping – because of our ENORMOUS debt due to our still unsold vacation home in Green Bay. Usually, to get the kids to buy into our window shopping schemes, we disguise them with promises of treats, books (they love bookstores – yea! I did something right as a parent), or the circus. The Mall of America, for example, has an indoor park of sorts with rides and games. Harry has always called it “the circus.”

Last fall, IKEA opened a store across the street from the Mall of America. My parents called to tell me about it after their first visit to the store. “It’s amazing, Carol. It’s huge and has so many things to look at. We spent the whole morning there. Oh..and be sure to get the lunch. It’s really cheap and the meatballs are fabulous.” I was dumbfounded. I really thought my mom had entered a cult or something. She was absolutely enthralled with the place. She went on and on about it. “You know, hon, it’s really not just a store. It’s more of a destination.” C’mon, Mom! This is not Disney we’re talking about.

We had to do some serious pre-planning before our excursion to the “destination”. Since the store in Minneapolis is fairly new, it’s very popular. My brother had taken his kids a few weeks prior and warned me to get there early to get in line for the drop-off kid play area. I think Chris and I were most excited about that feature. My parents and brother raved about it. “You can drop them off for two hours!” We talked it up to the kids only to find out that Ella couldn’t be left there because she’s not potty-trained and the time limit was an hour. So…now we had a VERY sad girl who just stood with her nose pressed on the glass wall watching Harrison run into the huge play area with millions of balls on the floor. She soon got over it and then we had about 50 minutes of “free” time. Parents all know that two on one is SO much easier than two on two.

The store is actually really cool. We managed to pick up many items (so much for window shopping) that we “needed”. We truly got caught in the IKEA frenzy. As we pushed around our cart, with the little flag affixed advertising the 99 cent breakfast, we found millions of wonderful gadgets from salt and pepper shakers to kitchen stools. It was really fun. They carefully plant toy areas around the store so that when your hour is up, and you are back to full ranks, the kids still have distractions.

Lunch time rolled around and I made Chris go get us the infamous meatballs. The kids hated them, and mine were cold, but they were CHEAP. After a few more departments, we finally had to stop. It was a hard decision, but we had a full cart and happy kids. How much better does it get?

Last night I didn’t get home from work till nine (way past the kids’ bedtime) and unfortunately Ella was still awake. She asked me to read her a book, and as I carried her to our reading chair through the kitchen, she made sure to point out the stool she sat in for dinner. She is very proud of herself for being able to climb up onto our new IKEA stools all by herself. I’m just proud of her dad for figuring out how to put them together!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Barefoot and pregnant might not be so bad

I emailed one of my friends from Green Bay, Kelli, and told her that my boss was extremely STUPID for hiring me because I am incredibly under qualified for the job I hold. She wrote this back: “Just remember, today is a Seinfeld episode and each section of your day is like a Saturday Night Live skit. Tell your boss that you will be back in a couple minutes and then go shopping the rest of the day!”

I told her that my school isn’t exactly like Vandalay Industries…someone would probably notice.

I do have an amazing job. I work at a charter high school that is doing wonderful things for teenagers. My background in school counseling and advertising is a perfect match for my position, but I just DO NOT know what I am doing on a DAILY basis! My title is “Transition & Development Specialist”. EXACTLY!

The job of producing marketing materials has fallen upon me. I have tried to learn In-Design, but am extremely bad at it. I am notoriously cheap, and somewhat proud, so I refuse to hire graphic design help. I start out thinking that I can produce whatever I’m trying to produce, only to learn (usually five minutes before the press deadline) that I am unable ONCE AGAIN to produce aforementioned item. I bought a book to help me, but who are we kidding? It’s a software program! Who can teach themselves that???

At about two minutes till press deadline time, I become desperate and ask for help. It’s a vicious cycle. I should really just admit that I’m as STUPID as my boss.

Monday, January 10, 2005

My inquisitive little girl

Ella is going through a phase. She asks "why" questions ALL THE TIME. I definitely noticed it about a few months ago, but not as much as I did today. People tell me this is a normal developmental phase, but either Harrison missed that phase, or I did in my post partum haze (Ella was born when Harry was 22 months old).

I spent today alone with her because she had the stomach flu last night. The diaper bin was down to two lone diapers, and since Ella felt much better late this morning, I decided that we could venture out to Shopko (I hate Shopko, but we are MILES from a Target.)

Here's a sampling of some of her questions from today:
(before you judge many of my lame ass answers - try and come up with a better answer yourself)

"Why is the red light red?" "Honey, someone decided that the light should be red."

"Why is the green light green?" "Someone liked the color green."

"Why do we go on red?" "We STOP on red, dear."

"Why do we stop on green?" "We GO on green."

"Why do we go on green?" "Someone decided that traffic should go on green and everyone agreed."

"Why do we stop on red?" "Same reason."

Five minutes later...

"Why is the red light red?".......

On the way home from Shopko sitting at a light....

"What is that noise?" "It's the sound of cars going by us hitting a pot hole."

"Why does it make that noise?" "I don't know, honey."

2 minutes later...

"What's that noise?" "What noise? The radio?"
"No. That sound in the car." "It's the sound of the wheels on the road."
"Why does it make that noise?" "I don't know."

2 minutes after that...

"Why do mommies and daddies use so many words?"

Harrison the social butterfly

I’m not sure why, but since we have moved to Utah (this past July), Harrison has been invited to over 400 birthday parties. I’m serious! We are at the toy store every other week picking out toys for kids I don’t really know. I try to include Harry in the decision process, but he always manages to tell me that each birthday child REALLY wants a construction vehicle. I calmly explain that not everyone is as fascinated with them as he is.

Last Saturday we went to a party for one of his preschool buddies. It was at a place out in the suburbs called “Jungle Jim’s Playground”. The name alone scared me. The entire place was a sensory bonanza. Lights. Noise. Rides. Games. It was truly amazing. The mother of the birthday boy was beautiful, skinny, young and super nice. I hated her instantly. I have always had body image issues, but since last year I have started to have “old age” issues. I have added a new adjective to my self-descriptor – OLD, big, fat cow. I know. I know. I shouldn’t care. I should just accept myself and then I’ll be happy. I know that, but it’s harder to live than to say.

Ok…I’ve digressed. Back to the party. The kids were given wrist bands which allowed them to ride any of the rides as many times as they wanted. Harrison rode one ride and was done. Neither of my kids are risk takers. He was fascinated with the video games, but I didn’t have any cash, so he just looked at them all. “Mom, can you lift me up so I can see this one??!!” - over and over again. The skinny, pretty mom (with appropriately attractive husband) had a table set aside and served the kids pizza and cake. Then there was the gift opening. All the kids need to watch as ONE child opens present after present. I was very proud of Harry. He was polite and never once tried to take any of the birthday boys presents from him to play with.

We left the party tired and content. Harrison was able to watch every game and ride he wanted and even came away with a plastic snake toy and a balloon. What could be better? Now, of course, the pressure is on. Harrison’s birthday is in May and I think I am going to have to succumb to the Utah culture of giving Harrison (and Ella) a birthday party that isn’t just with relatives. I did not enjoy the commercialism of “Jungle Jim’s” but do see the attraction of having a party outside of the house. This is just one more parenting pressure I wasn’t prepared for. What happened to the days of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and dropping a clothes pin in a pop bottle??

(NOTE FOR SCRAPBOOK: Harrison has his first drink of pop. Root beer to be exact. He wouldn’t try it until after I did. I told him it was safe and then he took a cautious sip. After a second sip and then a pause, he looked at me and said, “Wow! This is sooooo great!” I felt pretty guilty at that point for depriving him from pop for his whole life.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Let it Snow

Harrison loves construction sites and vehicles. He knows all the names of the machines – bulldozer, front loader, crane (his FAVORITE), backhoe, etc. – but blanketly refers to them as “dig-gees”. Since the weather has turned cold, he hasn’t been able to play in his sandbox with all his diggees. Yesterday morning, while Chris was shoveling, Harrison discovered that he could create a virtual construction site from a pile of unshoveled snow.
He pushed it, scooped it and loaded snow into his dump truck for over a half hour. He was in basic little boy heaven.

It doesn’t snow a lot in Salt Lake City, but when it does it’s gorgeous. It has that first snow feeling each time and it’s usually warm enough to go out and play in. The kids and I went for a walk last night after dinner. We returned things we borrowed for our trip last week to neighbors, and just enjoyed the quiet evening. Ella got sidetracked by the toys at her friend Adi’s house, so it was just Harrison and I walking over to Beth’s. Our hands were clutched tightly on the icy sidewalks. I was in mommy heaven! On the way back, as we walked by the houses of neighbors we don’t know, Harrison stated, “I think that everyone should have children.” “Why is that, Harry?” “Because then they could buy diggees to play in the snow with!”

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ella! Get your mouth off the deli case!

Every parent has done this. Ventured out on an adventure, children in tow, expecting the best from their kids.

Last night I picked up my kids from their schools. Fairly smooth event. Only forgot Ella’s snow boots at her daycare and Harrison’s lunch box at his. Both kids were in decent moods and I decided that we needed to go to the grocery store and get it over with. It had been a long day for all of us (we’re all still recovering from our cross country trip), but I had confidence. I did have a carrot after all – a store that sells treats. What could be better than that?!

We first had to stop at home and change Ella’s diaper. This involved taking them out of car seats, bringing in all the worksheets, mittens, lunches, etc from the car, stripping Ella while yelling at Harry, to no avail, to stay in his coat, hat, mittens and boots so I didn’t have to redress him, and then getting into the kitchen fast enough to get ahead of the little hands that wanted FOOD. I fed them some sesame cookies (a wonderful Christmas gift from my Buddhist neighbors), changed the diaper and we were back in our coats, mittens, hats and boots within 10 minutes. The kids were still in a good mood and my naiveté was reinforced. I felt I could do this. Two on one would be NO problem.

Reality struck about the time we hit the grocery store parking lot. The backseat of my little VW Passat doesn’t keep the kids far enough apart. I love this feature when they are in loving moods and reach out to each other to hold hands. More often than not, however, it’s a bad feature because they can reach out and hit each other. They don’t punch – it’s more of a swat because their arms are quite long enough to be completely lethal. (It’s actually kind of funny, but I’m not supposed to admit that as a mom) I managed to get them out of their seats and into the door fairly unscathed. Then the biggest issue of any trip to the grocery store – the cart. Who is going to ride in the seat? Hang on the end? Are there any carts that have little cars with steering wheels? Which side does each one get in the car? It goes on and on.

Starting in Produce, Ella was in the seat and Harrison was on the back end. Each was very happy until the TOMATOES. A small, expensive box of cherry tomatoes. Ella held the box (poor move on my part – mothers know you NEVER give one child full control of a foodstuff!) in front of her on a little shelf on the cart between two drink holders. She made a really BIG deal about how great this little shelf was. I mean she went on and on and on. This of course REALLY bugged Harry. He had to see that shelf, better yet, be in the seat of the cart so that he could use that shelf. By the time we hit Dairy, Harrison was now in the seat and Ella was hanging off the end.

Between the fighting for tomatoes and seat time, I managed to get us over to the frozen food section while actually picking up a couple of things we needed. I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as this was our last aisle. Both kids were out of, or off, the cart completely. They are now tall enough and strong enough to open the freezer doors and this was their mission. To open and SLAM shut as many doors as possible. I grabbed some Boca burgers, Hubby Chubby and frozen pizzas and we were outta there!

Checking out is never easy. It involves unpacking the cart, finding my Albertson’s card, swiping my credit card (which wasn’t easy last night and took FOUR separate swipes) while managing the behavior of my two children who had access to about four tons of candy down at their level. I paid my bill, loaded my cart and literally pried four of Harry’s fingers off the keyboard of the computer across from our cash register at the in-store bank. I dragged them out to the car and began the “going home” process (loading in car seats, etc.) while I watched my full cart of groceries roll down the aisle of parking lot until it ran into the light post. I left my kids in the car and got the cart back. Loaded the trunk and got in the car. As I told the kids about the vegetable pizza we were going to make after we got home, I noticed the time on my car’s clock – 7:07 PM. It would’ve been nearly 8:00 by the time they would be eating. I was really torn because I hate fast food and want so desperately to give my kids fairly decent meals at home, but I gave in to the pressure from the backseat and drove through the McDonald’s across the street.

It’s at times like this that I wish I didn’t have a full time job.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I just got back from over a week in Minnesota visiting my parents. We drove. In a car. From Utah to Minnesota. With two toddlers. 24 hours straight.

We decided that we should go straight through so that the kids could sleep for a large part of the trip. It kind of worked. Traveling that far is never easy. The trip there was fairly uneventful except for killing a rabbit. Chris drove right over it. Never saw it. It truly bothered me for hours. In fact it still bothers me!

I grew up in Edina, MN – a suburb of Minneapolis – and my parents still own the same home. We were there in time for Christmas Eve which was one key element in my ultimate plan. I was on a mission to give my mom a perfect Christmas.

My mom has metastasized breast cancer that mainly affects her bones. She has battled it successfully for six years, but as of a few weeks ago the cancer has turned mean. It has become aggressive. Her cancer marker numbers are up. The spot on her brain has grown and is now considered a dangerous tumor. Her leg pain is not a pulled ligament – it is a huge volume of tumors and small bone breaks all over her upper legs and pelvis. Her lungs feel different. There has always been a spot in them on her x-ray films, but we were told not to worry about it. She tells me that it’s cancer. She knows. Because of the leg tumors and breaks, she cannot walk without a walker. Her fatigue is enveloping and her appetite is gone. She’s recently lost 20 pounds.

Through all of this, she remains EXTREMELY positive. She actively studies quantum physics and it’s effect on healing. She believes that she can heal herself by mentally directing the energy in her body to do positive things. That is a very simplistic interpretation of her studies, but it’s about all I need to know. She believes that if she has REAL positive thoughts, then whatever she believes will happen - will. It’s amazing actually to listen to this person, ravaged by this horrible disease, talk about her prognosis.

I am much more positive about her outcome since I was able to spend some time with her last week, but before I left Utah I wasn’t as confident. I thought, more often than not, that this might be her last Christmas. I am ashamed to say this in case she reads this. Mom, I’m sorry.

I packed up gifts, food, sleeping bags, Sorel boots, pillows, cameras, and anything else needed for a cross country trek. I put my family through this so that we could all be together on Christmas Eve. My mom’s favorite day.

We got there in time – thoroughly exhausted – and I couldn’t have been happier. I am a traditionalist. I wanted to be with my parents on the exact day of the holiday.

The week went well. My kids didn’t tear apart their house (professionally interior designed with a color palette of beige and cream) and my dad and I only got into about two arguments about Bush. Not once did I leave the kitchen crying and run to my mom for comfort! (My dad and I have a somewhat tumultuous past)

I spent a lot of time on my mom’s bed talking. We talked about her growing up years. We talked about my new life in Utah. She gave me a ton of her jewelry. None of it is valuable, but it is all extremely sentimental to me. She still has things she received as a child and teenager. Each piece had a story and I hung on to her words for as long as my kids would let me. They would play quietly for awhile, but as soon as they noticed I wasn’t in the room, they’d come tearing up from the family room to find me.

The drive home was equally exhausting and taxing. Harrison got the stomach flu and threw up four times IN THE VAN! However, I wouldn’t trade my trip to Minneapolis for the world. I visited some friends. I went to some of my favorite places – The Turtle Bread Company, the Bibelot Shop, Jerry’s grocery store, Colonial Church of Edina – and I relaxed. I was with everyone I love and cherish the most for a whole week.