Friday, June 30, 2006

Photo Friday

I submitted the picture below to a weekly Photo Friday thingy. I've been thinking of doing this for months, but never got the nerve. Here goes....

Happiness is....

your own bottle of bubbles.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm not quite as enamored with my children as I was during my first week at home..

Why is it that kids are so precious when they're asleep or just out of the tub?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June: Ellastyle

If you want to punish this one - don't let her have a time out in her room. With access to her closet. That I just completely reorganized and cleaned. So that the clothes are much easier to see. And mix. And match.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So long, Pauline.

My dad just called. He thanked me for his Father’s Day card. He was very touched by all the things I wrote. He even joked and asked if it had been sent to the right father. I guess, in the past, I didn’t usually write much in his cards. I saved my sentimentality for my mom’s. Dad’s cards were often an after thought. He said over and over how much he appreciated the kind thoughts and knew that he was a “poor substitute for Mom.” I didn’t know how to react to that. I don’t think of him as a substitute. I just think of things as being different now. He agreed with me.

We then lightened the conversation with talk of summer plans when he changed the subject to talk about his “friend”, Pauline. My dad is back in Minnesota now, and after one dinner together in Florida, he and Pauline had agreed to have a second date back in the Midwest. He left a message on her machine this morning and she called back this afternoon. “She was very impersonal with me and told me that she just couldn’t see herself dating anyone but her husband.” (He’s been dead for seven years.) Disappointed, my dad expressed how surprised he was. “I told her that I understood as long as she was happy, but she told me that she wasn’t happy. Carol, I just don’t understand that kind of thinking.” I tried to explain to my dad that grief has no timetable. That Pauline is still devastated by the sudden loss of her life partner, but he just couldn’t quite grasp it. “I’m not upset,” he told me, “just a little surprised that someone could put their life on hold like that.” I reminded him that she is just as confused by his response to Mom’s death. Pauline doesn’t know what it’s like to watch someone live with a deadly disease for years on end.

We then talked about friends and neighbors in Minnesota. Some people have gotten sick. Helen has “anxieties – her depression is back.” Karl can’t join my dad on his morning two-mile walk because his hip is bad. And some people have died. Mr. B passed away from cancer last month. My dad expressed how grateful he was for his health, but he also expressed concerns. Everything is different, he commented. Everywhere he looks, there are reminders of my mom and the things that were so important to her. “Now none of those things matter anymore. It’s all meaningless.” As I wept he continued, “How can I make sense of that? What does it mean?” I think I knew what he was talking about. It wasn’t just the little things, like the fact that she insisted on certain sizes of glasses for different types of drinks, or the color of the fabric for the window coverings (that took weeks to decide on). It was the bigger things…the house they had worked on fixing up for over 35 years, or the pile of 5-year diaries she had faithfully put entries in a few times a week since they were married 45 years ago.

Then poof! One day changed all that. I think about that often. It is hard to comprehend the effect that one human being has on so many lives. Yesterday, in particular, was a hard day. I really missed her. I was sick. I had a terrible stomachache that turned into fatigue that left me unable to keep up with my two little ones. It was a long day that I hope will not permanently affect my children’s development. Summary: too much TV, not enough reading or imagination stretching, and more yelling than usual. At one point in the afternoon, I laid down in utter exhaustion and started to cry. I wasn’t particularly frustrated with parenting – that usually hits about early July – they were tears of frustration because I couldn’t call my mom. I couldn’t call her to tell her I was sick. She was always a great one for sympathy. No matter how insignificant my “pain”, she honored it and gave me complete support. But yesterday I couldn’t get that from her. It seemed inconceivable because I can totally remember her. I can hear her and see her. How can it be that I can’t call her? She has not faded from my brain at all, but she is completely gone.

It doesn’t make sense.

My call with my dad ended with talk of Christmas plans and cultural events in Minneapolis. He wants to explore new places, try new things and be open minded about everything. He completely appreciates his health and the new opportunity he has to live his life in any way he chooses. I’m really proud of him. He knows he has options. He can grieve and close himself off from others, like Pauline, or he can change direction.

He has not forgotten her – he just knows that he can’t change what has happened.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Healing old wounds

I am not my mother. My mom was excellent about the details. She gave great dinner parties. She got us into all the necessary lessons and organizations and never missed a deadline. And every six months we went to the dentist.

I remember every fluoride treatment, every filling and every x-ray. I didn’t like it at all. Dr. Larkin was not a fun-loving guy. He didn’t have toys or stickers for us if we were well-behaved. He didn’t have movies playing over the chair. No – there was one poster of Snoopy on the ceiling. Take it or leave it. Almost all of my baby teeth had cavities and needed to be filled. Then, as my permanent teeth emerged, they too seemed to be full of decay. Around the age of 13, I put my foot down. I couldn’t stand the Novocain shots, so I stopped getting them. For about 4 years I had at least 6 or 7 cavities filled au natural. I remember feeling very strong and powerful. Take that, big doc! What a stupid kid I was. Dr. Larkin didn’t care one way or the other. All I proved was that I could handle lots and lots of pain.

When I entered my twenties, I decided that I’d had enough dental care for quite awhile and I stopped going. I remember my first visit after about a four-year gap. No cavities. Coincidentally, it was a different dentist, however I’m sure there was no room left in my teeth for decay. There is so much silver in my mouth that when I laugh really hard, and throw my head back, small children ask me what is in my mouth. Seriously.

I’ve been a few times in the past 15 years and haven’t had any cavities, but did have to get one crown. In February, I bit a candy heart the wrong way and it cracked off a chunk of my tooth. It didn’t leave any residual pain, so I put off a visit to the dentist until a couple of weeks ago. Near the end of the appointment, unscathed, I shyly asked the dentist about my kids. I wanted to know how terrible it was that neither of them have had been to the dentist. Ever. He was wonderfully non-judgmental and told me that everything was fine – just to get them in soon.

Tuesday was the day. The kids were actually excited. We had read The Berenstein Bears Visit the Dentist a couple of hundred times and they were looking forward to seeing all the equipment. When they got there, however, things quickly changed. After much cajoling, Harrison got into the chair first. As soon as the hygienist started to lower the chair back, he freaked and I saw something in his eyes that I recognized. I remember the look well. It’s a fear I first saw when he was an infant and I would put him in an infant swing. That swing, guaranteed by our friends to cure his colic, just made Harry nauseous. He sat right up in the dental chair and there was no convincing him to stay in it. The hygienist had offered him sunglasses, to prevent the glare from the light from bothering him, but even that couldn’t keep him on his back. She quickly came up with Plan B. “Would you like to stand up, Harrison?” YES. That was the answer. It was quite the scene watching Harry stand, in his shades, getting his teeth “counted” and polished with Ella peering around the hygienist to watch every detail.

Ella did a little better. I’m sure it helped to be able to watch everything the first time through Harry’s experience. She chose to stay in the chair, but was cautious and shy about opening her mouth for the dentist. Plan C – sit on Mom’s lap.

The appointment ended with success. My children have all the teeth they are supposed to have and there were no cavities. My jaw was a little sore, though, from stretching it open every time one of the dental professionals asked my kids to open wide!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A room with a view

Since Chris and I have been married, we have been drawn to older homes. We started in an apartment that was built in the forties. Our first house was built in 1895, and now this home was built in 1927. After our Victorian behemoth, we feel like we are living in a brand new place at times. It has air conditioning, fairly flat floors and an updated kitchen.

There is one thing, though, that our two oldest homes have in common – bad windows. This house has newer glass at least. The last one had that really old glass in the windows that was kind of wobbly and Fun House-ish when you looked at it just right. The Victorian also had ropes and weights that controlled the windows. Many of those were broken. This house just has different issues. For the first year, we couldn’t open the windows. I was home with the kids and met a lot of the neighbors right away. I complained about my windows to my next door neighbor and he kindly came over with his hammer, chisel and anything else he could think of, to help me unstick my kitchen window. No luck. We worked on it for one hour. ONE HOUR. Over the sink, of course. Did I mention he’s Japanese and very short? It was hard. So I just gave up and we started opening the doors. Front and back for that cross breeze. Every day about 2:00 PM I would succumb to the “dry” heat and close the doors. I’d fire up the A/C. I couldn’t wait for the sun to start to set, so that the heat would subside a bit, and then I’d open the doors again.

Last year (our second summer), we finally discovered that the windows were painted shut from the inside AND the outside. Seems fairly easy to discover, but we usually skip the easy route. Most of our windows open now, but we realized (after a second drafty cold winter in our living room) that our windows were taken out in lieu of decorative plantation-type shutters. The storm windows were left on. No screens in sight. So the front half of our house gets pretty warm in the summer and we have continued to keep the front door open often. No screen door – just wide open. We have two little Crate & Barrel patio cafĂ© chairs out there and it is the official “popsicle eating area”. I like to think of this as an extra room. We did lose about 3,000 square feet when we moved from Wisconsin. I will try any positive thinking I can grasp on to.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Two days and not only am I still alive, I'm actually smiling.

The kids keep asking, when they wake up, “Is today a school day or a family day?” No matter how many times I tell them – they cannot fathom the reality of nine weeks at home without Mom going to work.

I am having a blast staying home.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I think the stay-at-home-mom is already oozing out of me and I still have three days of work left!
Hey Susie! Are you proud of me????

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Kindergarten Graduation

Today is the day. Today is when my oldest truly starts to become old. He - the one who adores his older brother so much he wears his skateboard helmet everywhere. He - the one who creates drawings, maps, and flags for every occasion. He - who would rather wear his pajamas ALL day more than anything else in the world. He - the one who still gets into more mischief than I'm comfortable with. He - the one who now goes up to the person he has hurt/left out/called a name/bothered - to apologize to their face instead of running in the other direction. Yes, Harry is growing up and it feels strangely okay.

My wish for these elementary years is that he never stops wanting to hold my hand when we walk somewhere. Posted by Picasa