Thursday, June 28, 2007


I can't remember dates from history to save my life. Ask me to tell you when the Magna Carta was signed or what year Thomas Jefferson became our President and I simply couldn't do it. But for some reason, dates in my own life stick in my head and I can't seem to get them out--even when I want to.

I wonder when the first year will go by that I don't remember to remember today. June 28. The day I rejoice in not marrying the wrong person. If I'd married the wrong person I'd be celebrating my wedding anniversary today. Well, truth be told I would probably not be celebrating at all. Sometimes, on a languid day like today, I let my mind go to another time in another place. Where would I be? Who would I be? If, in fact, it was my anniversary? The nauseating image that is conjured up allows for such gratitude, such thankfulness for my sweet husband and miraculous son. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that whatever heartache becomes me, whatever painful path we may one day endure, choosing this road instead of that has made all the difference. And so, rather than trip over the day with a glance at the calendar and a shudder, I embrace it. Thankful for the regret of a relationship persued, the joy of water under the bridge, and another day lived with my one true love.


Of course I remember the really important stuff like my actual anniversary and my parents birthdays and when Garrett was born but here are some other bizarre days I remember:
-September 17, 1993- Started "going out" with my first "boyfriend" in seventh grade. This was also the day Troy's sister gave birth to my niece, Alexis, but I wouldn't know that for another ten years. This same date, four years later, was the day I got my driver's license.
-September 27, 1994- Broke up with my first "boyfriend." I think a year is a very long time for middle schoolers, don't you? I also think it is extremely weird that I remember this.
-September 17, December 13, September 14, July 14, February 25, July 28, August 26, March 15-The dates (in age order) that all of my neices and nephews were born. This is quite a feat to remember...even my own mother-in-law (and they are HER grandchildren, mind you) can only remember the months. In addition, March 15 is also the day my college roommate got engaged.
-June 17- The day my parents graduated from high school. The day I graduated from high school. The day my brother graduated from college. Oddly, I cannot remember the date that I, myself, graduated from college. It was the end of May, I can tell you that much.
-June 9- The day I started doing NSTs with Garrett. Also, the birthday of a dear friend.
-June 10, 2006-The date of my first baby shower.
-September 8- The date that I started kindergarten, first grade, seventh grade and twelfth grade. (Okay, so I only remember this because it happens to be my birthday.)
There are more, believe me. I just have a weird ability to recall sometimes irrelevant dates. Aren't you glad you know that about me? Doesn't it make your life richer?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer Concert Series

So last night we were at this concert at our church and there are bazillions of kids running around, playing on the playground, and etc. After a half hour, Garrett got a little tired of throwing bark into his red wagon so I take him over to the climbing wall. Not the big kid one, the little kid one that's designed at an angle. I held him by the overalls and let him climb to his little heart's content. A few big kids climbed up beside him. One almost kicked him in the head. I didn't mind. I figured it was a "play at your own risk" kind of situation. After several minutes a very big kid came parading up the wall. And I heard a mother shout, "Get down from there. Come away from that baby. THAT BABY IS WAAAYYYY TOO SMALL TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR HERE ANYWAY!"

It was one of the those situations where I wanted to be quicker on my feet and make some snide remark. Where I SHOULD have asked, "What would Jesus do?" But where, all I did was stand, holding my son and feeling the red creep into my cheeks.

What I really wish I said was, "Oh, it's ok, I don't mind if they climb by him. He's a tough little guy. I don't think we've met. I'm Pastor Troy's wife, Lori. I hope your kids are enjoying this playground. My husband designed it." Nevermind that I never refer to my husband as Pastor Troy.

What I should have done was picked up my child and said, "Oh, I hadn't thought of it that way, he's just such a tough little guy it never crossed my mind. Here kids, play away." Because in the scheme of things that might have been closer to what Jesus would have done.

What I did was saunter over to Troy, who had been up on stage moments earlier introducing the band, and laid a big kiss on his lips and thrust the baby into his arms. I don't think she saw me. It's probably for the best since I don't think the Lord rewards my passive-aggressive behavior.

Friday, June 22, 2007

To See A Giraffe

When you're young, life is inexplicably original. Every breath is invigorating and blameless. Cynicism and monotony haven't clouded opinions or perspective. You're busy learning to crawl or run or splash if there's an ocean within reach--or the joy of a puddle if there's no sea. And as each new day springs forth from another, the awakening begins. Behind the eyes of a child is, perhaps, the key to our own fountain of youth. The promise of simplicity. The hope of another matchlessly brilliant day. The dream that, aside from the mortgage and the infirmity and the decisions and the sorrow, we will leave a fingerprint on that small heart--a mark that will somehow allow it to remain pure, amazed, unscathed, even as wisdom dawns.

Today my son, 337 days old and counting, experienced the Wild Animal Park. It was the first time his eyes scanned the world and landed on a giraffe. The first time he caught glimpse of a lorikeet and a gorilla and a meerkat. The first time he pet a deer. The first time he played in the Savannah Cool Zone with children three times his size. The first time he came within three inches of a lion--albeit separated by a plate of glass.

Garrett is terrified by hats. Not all hats, mind you, baseball caps are fine. But he is definitely scared of straw hats and safari hats. This is a bizarre phenomenon we can't explain because otherwise, he is fearless. He held his hand up to the glass and giggled as the lioness paced by. He reached out and grabbed the lorikeet and didn't flinch when it nipped at his finger. He let a goose eat out of the palm of his hand. He took a much larger knee to the head in the Savannah Cool Zone and shook it off like a big boy.

I love this child. My heart fills with adoration as I watch him choose fistfuls of dirt over chasing animals in the petting zoo. I smile with joy when he pets the deer and declares, "dog." For it isn't in the correctness of vocabulary that I am amazed but rather the fact that he has any vocabulary at all--last June what impressed me most about my child was hearing his heartbeat on the fetal monitor. That he says the word dog at all is astonishing.

Behind my own eyes I feel a dawning of truth. In Garrett, truly there is a fountain of youth. Not my own to embrace and relish but a youth reborn, passed from me to him in irrevocable finality. Never can I see a giraffe for the first time--and now, neither can he--but oh the wonder at what he has not yet seen, not yet learned, not yet dreamed or achieved. I will watch with pride as his eyes awaken. But I will endeavor, with all the simplicity of my own youth, to leave my fingerprint on that tiny heart.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Boy and His Golden Retriever

"The Golden Retriever is a popular breed of dog, originally developed to retrieve downed fowl during hunting. It is one of the most common family dogs as it is easy to handle, very tolerant, and normally very happy and friendly. It is a low-maintenance dog and thrives on attention, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. Golden Retrievers are usually compatible with all people and other dogs. They typically bark when startled, but generally their friendly nature makes them poor watchdogs. Golden Retrievers are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as Guide Dogs and Search and Rescue dogs." -Wikipedia.

When Troy and I were first married, I wanted a dog in the worst way. Well, I wanted a golden retriever puppy in the worst way. Sure, they're cute and cuddly and I'd grown up with goldens, but it was the "tolerant, family dog" aspect that I craved. We intended on having a family and I wanted to be sure that my children were safe with the pet.

Beck used to look longingly at children who passed by on the street. He would go crazy any time my nephew, Kian, came over. He'd beg him, with those big chocolate eyes, to play fetch. When I was pregnant with Garrett, it was almost as though Beck knew that I was harboring his playmate. Sometimes he would lay his head on my protruding torso or sniff and then lick my abdomen. I assured him that his sibling was in there but that he or she wouldn't be able to play for awhile.

The awhile has come.

Beck was amazing with Garrett right from the get go. A little hyper and a lot more needy of our attention, we never feared that Garrett would get bit or mauled. Death by licking was a minor concern, however. Beck has watched Garrett's growth with interest. Crawling became a milestone by which he was fully accepted as Beck's new favorite toy. And the feeling is mutual. Other than the standard "dada" followed by "mama," Garrett's first word was "dog."

Currently, Beck is clad in an Elizabethan Collar (a.k.a. a cone) because he has been having some problems with his anal glands which has led to a hot spot that he won't stop aggravating. Yesterday, I was working on something in the office and Garrett was crawling happily around the house. After a few minutes I realized that it was REALLY quite. If you know my son, you know that quiet is not a word in his repertoire. Whether he's practicing the English language, chattering gibberishly, or throwing toys around, he's making some kind of noise. I also realized that I didn't hear the cone bouncing off the walls or getting scraped by an annoyed paw. The fear set in. Wherever they are, whatever they're doing, they're doing it quietly and

I leapt out of the office. And stopped in my tracks. In the middle of the floor were my dog and my son. Other than the consistent wag of Beck's tail, he was laying very still. Garrett was sitting at his head playing with his whiskers--the dog's that is, thankfully my son does not yet have whiskers. He'd pull up, exposing Beck's teeth--fangs, really, that could rip my baby to shreds. He'd let go. Beck would lick his chops. Garrett would try to catch his tongue. He'd pull up on the continued for a few moments. Then, Garrett squashed the cone on top of Beck's head so that it appeared that the dog was a giant canine taco. The dog never moved. After a few seconds Garrett let the cone go and it popped back into its original shape. Striking Garrett as hilarious, he cackled to himself, yanked a whisker, smacked the dog's head a couple of times, tried to grab the tongue, and then folded Beck's poor head into a taco once more. Beck wagged his tail the entire time that I watched, Garrett giggled. Wag. Giggle. Repeat.

I could have watched forever. Maybe it was the late afternoon sun coming through the window that forced me to soak in the simple things.

Beck is often jealous of Garrett. Garrett often gets knocked off his hands and knees by a jubilant Beck. But the bottom line is that they're best buddies, providing much entertainment to the other. And this is why I have a golden retriever. And why the golden retriever has a boy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh the Humanity...Arachnidity...Whatever

Apparently, we're infested. Today I decided to go on a hunt for more black widows in the backyard. I killed 4, perhaps 5 and 1 is MIA. Here were their locations:

1. (The one who is MIA) was also living on hose house. She escaped and is, obviously, a sturdy little gal since she survived both yesterday's bath as well as possibly surviving the even longer one that I subjected her to today. We aren't friends.

2. The tippy top corner of the sliding glass door. She is now deceased.

3. INSIDE the dog house. Chillin' where my dog sleeps. Yah. Neat. She joined number 2.

4. Underneath the dog house. Deceased.

5. Underneath the turtle pool (an old baby pool that my inlaws left when they moved). Luckily we do not use the pool for Garrett. Her and her enormous egg sack have perished. She was nearly as big as Charlotte.

6. A possible black widow. It very much resembled a black widow baby and even though the babies are harmless, they grow into not babies. I'm not taking my chances. Also located underneath the dog house.

I did a quick sweep of the shed which is usually prime real estate for these ladies. I didn't see any but it was broad daylight so who knows. I kinda feel all creepy crawly now. In fact, when I was spraying the hose house trying to coax Charlotte's friend out, a tie on my shirt tickled my chest and I dern near had a complete and total meltdown.

There are a lot of things I'd rather be infested with. Puppies. Chocolate. Money. Theatre tickets. To name a few.

On the other hand, I suppose there are a lot of things I'd rather not be infested with. Measles. Rattle Snakes. Paris Hilton.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Garrett and the Almost Bad Bite Caper

It's a 90 degree day and Garrett loves water. So I, being of the school of thought that boys will be boys, they WILL get dirty, they WILL ruin their clothes, take my son out to soak himself. What better to do than water the grass and play with the sprinkler and the hose? Out we trod to the front yard where, over the course of fifteen minutes, Garrett has managed to turn his adorable outfit into an edifice for the safe harboring of one muddy mess. While we had been playing, er muckifying ourselves in the front, I had the sprinkler going in the back. After all, green weeds look better than brown ones. I scooped Garrett up, pulled off his shorts and onesie and carried his diaper clad rump into the backyard. My eventual intention was to see if he enjoyed running through the sprinkler, but as it had been watering the same spot for over fifteen minutes, I decided to move the sprinkler first. I turned the water off, carried Garrett over to the sprinkler (the concrete was too hot for him and he had burst into tears), moved the sprinkler, and walked back. I sat him down in a puddle so he wouldn't burn his behind.

Now, Garrett has always been fascinated with our "hose holder" for lack of a better word. It's one of the ones that you attach the hose to and you can roll it up and it has places for your different nozzles, etc. He likes to stand up and bang on the hose and play with the remnants of spider webs. It is this second one that keeps me from enjoying the toy as much as he does and generally I force him to abstain from such delightment. I digress. Back to Garrett being in a puddle.

I walk over to turn the water back on as he happily splashes himself in puddleness. Beck is wandering around, licking the puddle, licking Garrett, being golden retrieverish and, as I turn back around, I see Garrett happily pulling up on the house of hose. And then.

It's a good thing I'm only two feet away because my ten month old explorer is squeaking and smiling and REACHING HIS OUTSTRETCHED HAND IN HOPES OF MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE BIGGEST BLACK WIDOW I'VE EVER SEEN. Now, I don't know if "big" makes a difference if you're a black widow trying to poison my ten month old son, but it makes a difference when you're the mom and the hour glass on this arachnid's abdomen is a centimeter long. (Not even exaggerating by the way). I snatch up my son as his outstretched fingertips fail to grab the spider by about three inches. Three inches is nothing when you're a highly motivated baby. Three inches is, like, I don't know, a nanosecond to the catlike quickness Garrett exudes when he wants something. And he wanted that black widow. Why wouldn't he. She had a plethora of fun looking legs and a shiny hourglass to explore. And I'm sure her fangs and subsequent poison would have been just delightful in tandem with an immature immune system. In any case, my heart stopped for a second but restarted once my offspring was safe in my arms. However, his interest had sparked the interest of one Beckham (the aforementioned golden retriever). As I stood gaping at the monstrosity of spider and wondering what to do in order to annhiliate her, my dog decided to stick his nose in her general vicinity. Luckily, he responds to a stern, "No, Beck!" He only got his furry sniffer about two inches from her when he retracted. One might assume that with such near molestation from both a baby and a dog, that husband eater would have retreated but no, she was happy to lounge lazily in the shade of the hose house.

Until. I got a stick. Now, this spider was one clever girl because her web was all over this hose reel/handle/every possible nook and cranny on the thing. Silly me, being that I grew up in Ramona, to assume that the web I had been ignoring was several old spider webs and not the formless and irratic web of a very present widow. Because of the web and the nooks and crannies, I wasn't sure how to get her. I just hoped she was a stupid black widow (venom and all, it's pretty senseless to just sit there while a baby and a dog try to have their way with you). I, presonally, had the good sense to put the dog in the house. So, barefoot and holding my nearly naked baby I rammed the stick at her. And just like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) she disappeared. Neat.

Luckily, Garrett had been acting really tired and I hoped for a rare late afternoon nap out of him. Into the house I went. Into his room we went. Into his crib he went. And he actually went to sleep. I put on shoes. My plan was to flood the woman out and then stomp her to death.

25 minutes later she was dead.

I called her Charlotte.

I'm well aware that Charlotte (of Charlotte's Web fame) was a barn spider and not a black widow but it was the first name that came to mind. She was one tough lady. I brought out the big guns, the hose nozzle that has optimum pressure. I assessed the situation. I smashed two enormous egg sacks. I looked everywhere for Ms. Charlotte. I couldn't find her. So I started blasting. I blasted long. I blasted hard--so hard, in fact, that I was terrified she'd get knocked loose from her hiding place and fly back at my face, as much of the water was doing. Finally, after a good, long while of this I said, "Where the heck are you?" And she appeared. She just needed prompting, apparently. Climbing unhappily out from the side that I thought she was not on. Tricksy little cannibal. I ran to get a jar. You see, by this point I had a great deal of respect for this spider. She survived a very long bath. I knocked her off the side of the hose house and dropped a jar on her. This is how I discovered that Charlotte was about three inches from end of back leg to end of front leg. The black widow spider can span 1-3 inches. I really did have a huge arachnid on my hands, or, rather, in my jar. I was going to save her and make Troy kill her...I just kind of felt bad for her by that point and I didn't think I could bring myself to do it. But when I got ready to slide the lid under the jar, I realized just how mad/terrified/annoyed she really was and a trip to the ER for a Charlotte bite did not sound like my idea of fun. I mean really, I had grown somehow fond of her over the last 20 or so minutes and she hadn't bitten my dog or my baby and I'll give credit where credit is due but she ate her husband for no good reason so what might she do to me for the whole flood-trap-me-in-a-jar incident? After all, she never promised to love, honor and cherish me. So, when I noticed this agitated state I took the jar off of her, took her picture, apologized for what I was about to do and stomped. I feel the death was more than likely immediate as her insides are now stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

I feel bad but I can't go having black widows living within the reach of my child. Especially freakishly enormous ones. Because this story could have ended with a little boy who had a very bad bite. Thankfully it didn't. Sorry Charlotte.

*Disclaimer: I know that only some black widows eat their mate. I realize that it is the exception not the rule, but painting Charlotte as an evil cannibal makes me feel better about her murder.