Thursday, January 31, 2008

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California

Today we will do ourselves some talking about the great state of California. Why? Well, for starters, I plan to elaborate on my love and/or hatred for the states in alphabetical order. Being that I have written about Arizona and I have not been to Arkansas, it is California's turn. Additionally, I am leaving in about three hours to shoot the breeze with my home state. (Amen! Praise and Glory!)

I know what you're thinking. Haven't I already said all there is to say about California? Not in a million years, my friend. We determined that Arizona has heat and mosquitos and, well, thankfully, The Grand Canyon (to redeem its sorry soul*) Where Arizona is lacking in things you must see before you die, California is thriving.

California is made up of 163,696 square miles. And I'd be lying if I said that I love 'em all. Truthfully, a great number of these miles are icky desert and Central Valley. But it's fine. I forgive California for having such topography because some of her miles are the Redwoods, Yosemite, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe (Yes, Nevada, I realize you share that one), The Sequoias, Mammoth, San Diego, Hollywood, Crescent City and the list goes on and on.

There is such a relief and a joy in knowing that your dreams are not landlocked. I cannot describe the peace I felt in looking out at a watery horizon that never ended. Just the knowledge that my ultimate wishes could bob up and down in that vast ocean was enough. Even if they didn't come true, they were free to swim forever, because I lived on an edge.

California has the ocean and the mountains and the desert and the forest, all rolled into one great state. I can't think of much in terms of recreation that couldn't be accomplished within her borders. You couldn't climb Mt. Everest or swim in the Everglades (Question: Do people actually swim in the Everglades? I've never been to Florida but it seems to me that what with all the alligators, you just wouldn't take the chance.) but those are about the only things I can think of. If you need your leaves to change colors to be happy, drive north. The autumn may not be as gorgeous as a New England fall but you'll see colors. If you need snow, not a problem. Sun, definitely available. And Spring, in California, the world seems just a little cleaner, a little more holy in the Spring.

I suggest a visit. Even if The Golden State is not your idea of permanent residence, just take a moment out of your life to see her. Stand in wonder of the Redwoods. I dare you to deny God's existence once you have. Hike to a waterfall in Yosemite. Walk the streets of Hollywood Blvd and see if you don't feel alive with a thousand dreams and endless possibilities. Sit on the shores of Tahoe. Let the cold mountain water lick your toes and imagine God commanding the Sierras into being. Catch a wave in San Diego. Feel the sun soaking into your every pore. Walk the streets. Breathe the air. It's somehow different there, somehow simultaneously exuding freedom and protection.

*The author of this blog does not believe that The Grand Canyon can save souls. Nor does she think that Arizona actually has a soul. She maintains that the only entity capable of saving souls is the Lord.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's One Thing To Finish Each Others Sentences

So, okay. I used to think Tom Cruise was smashing hot. Right? I mean he was. He so was. Granted, this was back when he wasn't quite so crazy and he was in A Few Good Men and he was married to someone a little more, well, his own age. Now, I'm all for cradle robbing, for obvious reasons, but 16 and one half years just seems like a much bigger deal to me than ten. Because, well it is. At least Troy was still in elementary school when I was born. At least he didn't have a driver's license. At least he didn't have a teenage daughter when we got married. But it's not even the age difference that bothers me on some sort of fundamental level. It's just that, well, the dancing on the couch thing really creeped me out. And then the whole, "Shame on Brooke Shields and Katie will have a silent birth" thing pushed me right into the deep end. It might have had something to do with the fact that Suri (with a fringe on top--as I affectionately refer to her) was born three months before my son and I quite think that had Troy informed me that Garrett's birth would be silent I might have slugged him in the...I really want to say "baby maker" but I'm not entirely sure that's pastor's wife blog appropriate. Is it? And for your information, Garrett's birth was very quiet. That's because, for starters, I had the blessed epidural. That, coupled with that fact that I hate when people see me in pain and would have been completely mortified had I started moaning, groaning or screaming, made for a pretty calm and generally fairly silent birth. But that's so not the point. The point is, had Troy informed me that I would be dead silent and epiduraless, I think I might have been the loudest woman on the floor, just because I'm stubborn like that.



Now, recently, I was mighty appalled by the indoctrination video that Cruise made on behalf of Scientology. But, I think, just maybe, the following pictures bug me even more. First we have Cruise, making the face that he now seems to always be making. Why? He used to be regal and oh so suave and and and and gorgeous, if you will. But then he started doing this:



It's okay though. I'm totally over it. If he wants to grin like the Cheshire cat, so be it. You go Tom. Dance on Oprah's couch if you want to. Grin like the madman you seem to have become. Marry someone who is barely older than me when you are barely younger than my father. Name your baby after the headquarters of Scientology in the UK. I'm sure she'll love that when she's about sixteen. But don't make your wife practice your crazy smile for hours every night. Trust me when I say that the world only needs one of you.




Oh Katie. Katie. Katie. Katie. Oh wait, sorry. I know your husband said that we should call you Kate now that you're a mother. Kate, Kate, Kate. Is he injecting you with his own DNA? If you'd make some sort of sign, a signal for distress, I'd try to save you. Really I would. Because, truthfully, I'm becoming quite concerned for your well being.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Got Game?

Dear Uncle Jon,

The other night my mommy was in the kitchen, cleaning up the colossal mess I made with my dinner, as is customary with people of my age and stature. My daddy was at the church and my mommy heard the television turn on. This is nothing unusual. I am obsessed with turning it on and off, as you may well know. Of course, she had to grab the camera and take this video when she realized exactly what was going on. I had turned it on. I had hoisted myself up onto the couch. I was completely enthralled with the game. The video itself is not altogether funny, but it gives you a glimpse of how intently I was watching. No amount of proding could get me to turn away. I just have one question, Unc J-Diddy, am I too short to be a post?

Love,
Garrett

video

Please forgive my obnoxious voice running through the entire video. I cannot stand the way I sound and beg forgiveness that some of you actually have to listen to me speak on a regular basis. The voice I hear in my head is much better sounding than the voice that actually comes out of my mouth. I promise. If you were in here with us, you'd know.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going To Grandma's

We're going to San Diego on Thursday, the boy and I. Now, if you know anything about me at all you know that I am generally not a procrastinator. On top of not being a procrastinator, I basically have anxiety attacks when it comes to packing. I have to make a list, check it twice, you know I'm basically Santa Claus. I have to color coordinate, which, for some reason sends me into panic mode, especially where shoe efficiency is involved. In order to alleviate the stress of packing, I begin early. When we went on our Israel trip, I honestly think I began laying clothes out two and a half weeks in advance. For Hawaii, it was a good week. I come by it honestly though, as my parents usually have their suitcases packed and loaded in the car three months before an actual vacation. It just so happens I come from a family of planners. It's a good thing. Isn't it? It's endearing, no? So anyway, I starting packing this morning. I waited until Monday, that's as long as my obsessive compulsive disorder would allow.

So, as I was rummaging around the closet and Troy was playing with Garrett, I began to hear giggling. I thought it was your average every day father son snickering. When I exited the closet this is what I found...


Now, my brother and I used to play this game we called "Going to Grandma's." I'm not sure if this was a common game played by the masses or if we invented it, but it went something like this:

Me: I'm going to grandma's and I'm taking an apple.
Jon: I'm going to grandma's and I'm taking an apple and a beach ball.
Me: I'm going to grandma's and I'm taking an apple, a beach ball and a canteen.
Jon: I'm going to grandma's and I'm taking an apple, a beach ball, a canteen and dental floss.

And on and on and on it went until we reached the letter Z or someone messed up. We both had pretty good memories, so it was usually the former. Now, I can guarantee that when we "went to Grandma's" we never took stuffed pig slippers, a Click Clack Train Engine book, or an ab roller. Apparently, these are extremely necessary items when visiting Grandma and Grandpa in San Diego. Once the boy was successfully packed with his prized items, there wasn't any room left for our clothes.

"Hey Mom. Hey Dad. We're here. Garrett did the packing. We have the pig slippers, the ab roller and a children's book. Can't think of anything else we might need. Can you?"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Television Toddler

Now that the wee one is not quite so wee and is, in fact, developing an attention span longer than his index finger, we've been integrating television into his life. Because we're really awesome parents like that. In fact, a normal day consists of me putting the kid in front of the television at eight in the morning with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other. Usually he passes out a couple hours later and wakes up in the late afternoon for another episode of Scooby Doo. Okay, so we don't really do that. You caught me. But we have been allowing him to watch about a half hour of TV at night, just before bed. It calms him down and helps us get an extra half hour out of a child who really begins meltdown phase around 7:00 pm.

Yes I know that I am breeding attention deficit disorder. I'm just hoping that with a half hour a day, he develops only a mild case. I know that there are better parents than me out there, parents who do not own televisions, for example. I also know that there are worse parents, parents who pacify their eight month old with hours of Ed, Edd and Eddy. (Allow me to inform you that I have actually tried to sit through an episode of Ed, Edd and Eddy and it nearly killed me. It makes no sense and is a complete waste of airtime. It has been banned from my home. Take note, Troy.) I've decided that where television is concerned, I am a middle of the road kind of parent. I've got, maybe a B average. I'll trade my A for that half hour of snuggle time with my nearly comatose toddler. While we're on the subject of bad, er average, parenting, it should also be noted that I did not make my child wait until he turned one or two or fifteen to have sugar. In fact, he helped himself to his first bite at the ripe old age of three months. That's when, sitting in his bouncer, he lunged for my finger (which was sticking a pacifier back into his mouth) and heartily sucked cookie dough right off of it. I should have known he'd know exactly what it was. He'd had a major sweet tooth since the womb.

So anyway, we've been watching a lot of Scooby Doo and a lot of the Disney channel. Now there are some fine acting skills on the Disney channel. Let...me...tell...you. Kind of makes me wonder why I'm not more famous. Or, famous at all, for that matter. But I'm beginning to understand the obsession with Miley Cyrus er Hannah Montana er Miley Cyrus er, whoever she is. Other than the semi-annoying way she over enunciates her lines and does an extremely weird mouth contorting thing, she's totally cute. I just hope she doesn't turn into another train wrecking Britney Spears. I'm also beginning to laugh hysterically at The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. I mean, a character who is an uber rich supersnob and heiress to a hotel tycoon being named London Tipton. Now that's just funny. I wonder if Paris Hilton finds it as funny as I do.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Week In Review

Troy's parents were visiting during the past week and here is a sampling of some of the things that happened while they were here. I didn't take any pictures of my mother-in-law hacking up her lungs and being sick and miserable for most of the week. I didn't think she'd take too kindly to that. So first, we have Garrett all dressed up in his Charger colors. It didn't help. He was eighteen months that day and I am left to wonder when my baby became a little boy.

Then, it snowed and snowed and snowed and we got about nine inches and my street looked like a football field covered in snow and my backyard looked like Narnia.




















Here is Garrett hanging out in his playroom with his Grandma DeDe and his Grandpa Gary.































It warmed up today--to a whole 35 degrees and the snow started melting. I went outside and saw glorious icicles. In an attempt to grab one of them, I almost lost my life when all eight came down straight on me like murderous daggers. I totally had to squeeze my eyes tightly shut to avoid losing one of them and throw my hands up in front of my face to dodge lacerations. In any case, they all fell and broke but I managed to save half of one and Garrett had a yummy frozen snack. This is half of it, mind you. HALF.
Finally, here is Garrett's belly, two weeks post op. I know it still looks like a crater but trust me when I say that the swelling has gone down a considerable amount and it is starting to resemble an average looking outtie button. Okay, so I cannot figure out how to make the text look normal with all the pictures. Sorry that it's ugly.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Enchanted

So, the husband and I went to see Enchanted the other day because my in-laws are visiting and they agreed to watch the wee one. The only real review I had heard was from my brother and well, let's just say that he isn't exactly the type to squeal and sob over a chick flick so, he did not have positive feelings toward the fairytaleish film.
Maybe it's because I have a toddler and cartoons are beginning to be a part of my life. Maybe it's because Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics to most of the songs. If you don't know who Schwartz is, think Godspell and Wicked. If that still means nothing to you, we're not friends anymore, but think Pocahontas and Prince of Egypt. Maybe it's because I think it would have been splendid fun to play Giselle (although I would not have named my lead female from fairy tale world that). Maybe it's because Idina Menzel plays Nancy. If that means nothing to you, think Tony Award winner for Best Actress in a musical for her role of Elphaba in the Broadway smash hit musical Wicked or for her Tony nominated role for Best Supporting Actress in Rent. If that still means nothing to you, think the wife of Taye Diggs. If that still means nothing to you, well, we are definitely not friends anymore because I'm pretty much in a deep heterosexual love with her. And I have been since 1999. I take great pride in the fact that I did not jump on the bandwagon of loving her when she put on green paint and belted Defying Gravity. Nope. This obsession has endured the test of time. Maybe it's because I still believe in a world where people break into choreographed song and dance at random points throughout the day. But I really liked it.

And I've been singing How Do You Know ever since.

So here's what I think. I think that if you have little kids you should definitely see it. Although there is this slightly freaky dragon sequence toward the end that would be scary. Not to mention, completely unnecessary. I think that if you like musicals you should see it. I think if you are a 24 year old male, you should probably not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ovary!

I've had a few people tell me that I should write a book. Granted, these are all people who either love me deeply, for reasons unbeknownst to me, or share blood with me, or both. But biased lines of thinking aside, it's got me thinking. I think if I wrote a book, it would be of the variety where no one is quite sure of the genre. It would probably sell twenty copies (thanks Mom and Dad for buying 18 of 'em) and fifteen years down the road some conservative college freshman, trying desperately to transition from high school teenage angst to supercool, but still fairly *conservative, coed would find it on a shelf in a used bookstore and devour it because, inevitably, it would have words like ovaries and the lesser known "fudge" in place of a word that just might start with an f and end with a ck. It would certainly have run on sentences that began with the word "but" and had new words. To this, she would proudly show her professor exclaiming, "See, she makes up words all the time. Stop stifling my creativity." This prof would irritatingly take the book, gaze at the cover--designed by the scribbling hand of a toddler--and peer over the rims of his glasses, "Lori who? How do you pronounce this? Is she Pakistani? Taiwanese? What kind of last name is this? I've never heard of her, obviously." This poor coed would take the book back to her dorm room and encourage her roommates to read it. They would get through the first three pages and turn a bored eye. Because no one wants to read a book about being a twentysomething pastor's wife. No one wants to read a book with excessive use of the words ovary, insemination and, most likely, adoption. No one wants to read a book about one girl's struggle with a California addiction. No one wants to read about, "Oh I wish I was an actor or a director blah blah blah!" No one wants to read a book about Garrett, Garrett, Garrett. And these are the only things I can think to write about.

My life is a far cry from exciting. Nowadays I mostly sit around shivering and eating pita chips to stay alive. I curse (fudge, mind you) the writer's strike and silently beg the producers to give the writers what they want and get on with it. I mourn the death of Heath Ledger because, for some ridiculous reason, I take it harder than most when people die too young in the entertainment industry. Especially when they are boho and live in Brooklyn and carry their kids around on their shoulders. I can't even talk about Brad Renfro and how he was all bad boy even at thirteen, in a way that, somehow, even a fourteen year old found attractive and now he's dead. I pay the bills. I cook dinner. I sniff my **flip flops. I dream of New York City and attempt to live there, vicariously, through friends. I dream of San Diego and attempt to live here in Utah, instead of in my own memories. I read my Bible every day, though sometimes it's only a few verses. I change diapers. I laugh. Often. I try, more than ever, to learn from my mistakes and to walk in the direction the Lord leads me. At the end of day, I am mostly content. Books are not born from the content. They are birthed from the twisting and turning and breaking and bleeding of life. I'd prefer not to be twisted, turned, broken or bled, thank you very much. I'd prefer to hold my bag of pita chips and have nothing good to write about. Ovary exclamation point just doesn't seem like too great a book title and my husband probably wouldn't appreciate a narrative on his sperm. If someone would like to give me their, much more interesting, life story, I'd be happy to try to write a book about it. For now, I'm rather content being boring.

*I do not generally think of myself as conservative. I am one of the more liberal members of my family, though this, in and of itself, is not really saying much for left wing thinking. In college I was a registered Democrat. However, near the end of my university days I came to realize that I find the two major political parties to be severely flawed. I do not want to be tied to either of them and am now registered Independent. I still vote and am generally accepting of the thought processes of my many Republican family members and my many Democrat friends. I just choose not to affiliate myself with one party or the other. It has become obvious to me, however, especially since the birth of the boy, that my own thought processes have swung more to the right on the issues that I choose to care deeply about. And on that note, please don't have an abortion. Give your baby to me if you don't want it. Because I want it. I really, really do. Ovary exclamation point, remember?

** Back during my junior year of college, an awful smell filled my dorm room. My roommate, Michelle, and I could not find the source of the smell. We entered the room and were hit with the aroma of skunk. We began to wander the room sniffing in all directions. Eventually we narrowed the stench down to my closet. Further sniffing brought us to a pair of unsuspecting flip flops. They smelled horrid but I loved them, so for awhile I kept them in a bag and would wear them, still. Interestingly, they didn't really smell unless they were confined. However, after about a week of the room stinking, even though the shoes were in a bag, my roommate and I came to the conclusion that, cute as they were, they had to go away. I now sniff all potential flip floppy footwear prior to purchase. It should also be noted that in Salt Lake City, flip flops are often still referred to as thongs. It pretty much makes me laugh every single time, as I picture people walking around with skimpy undergarments on their feet.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Warmth

It is stinkin' cold here. Not inside my house, mind you, but everywhere else. It dumped nine inches of snow on us yesterday and it's been freezing ever since. When the dog goes outside to do his doggie duty, he has to leap and lunge through the several layers of flakes. When Garrett goes outside I have to carry him or else he'd be buried up to his bum (he has short legs). When I go outside I shiver and dash to the nearest vehicle, if it happens to be mine, well, all the better. It's beautiful. But man if it isn't dang chilly.

I am visiting San Diego in nine days. Praise God! I have never looked forward to being warm more than I do right now. I am picturing a sunny, 90 degree, So Cal summer. I realize that it will probably be more like 60 degrees and overcast. But guess what, 60 degrees will feel like 90. And I can't wait.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Half Birthday To You

All I am going to say on the matter is that with a healthy LT and a healthy Gates, the outcome may have been different. And, while I am not saying that they aren't a phenomenal team, they are cheaters. Maybe not today and maybe not yesterday, but cheating is in their repertoire. Perhaps they don't deserve an asterisk next to their probable perfect 19-0 season. But consider that, perhaps, they do. It's not just because they beat the Chargers today, I've been saying that since September. And really, that's all I'm going to write on the matter. Quiet Troy, this is my blog, if you want to talk about how the cheating didn't play in to their perfect season, start your own. I'm sure you'd have a huge fan base in Foxborough.

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In other, non sour grapes news, my son is one and a half years old today. My mind has an extremely difficult time comprehending that he's been a squawking, pooping, giggling part of our lives for eighteen months. Because, in almost every single way, it feels like this was just yesterday...

I've said it before and I will say it again and again and again, when he was born, he stared at me like he had known me forever. In some ways it felt so foreign and almost eerie to stare into the eyes of my flesh and blood but in all the ways that mattered it was as though I had known him for so much longer than mere seconds. In his face I saw the years of prayers and petitions I had sent to Heaven and becoming a mother took absolutely no getting used to. It was just as though it was something that had always been. I can say with certainly that no experience has moved me so completely than the birth of my son.

In the past year and a half, I have learned that the world is a much louder place with him in it. He has not quite mastered the "indoor voice" and his shrieking through WalMart can attest to that. I have learned that no matter how great an eater my nine month old may have been, my eighteen month old will turn his nose up at macaroni and cheese, even though he devoured it yesterday. I have learned that nothing is a more rewarding sound than the deep belly laugh of my toddler, and I'll do anything to warrant such a laugh. Yes, even dance around my house like a giant buffoon singing at the top of my lungs, theatre major style. I have learned that every animal barks or smells like a skunk and that's okay, for now. I have learned that my heart is now toddling around outside of my body and I will do anything to protect that heart. I have learned that I don't really want to French kiss my son, but he couldn't care less. I have learned that it's easier to write a blog without him sitting on me, but it's not nearly as heartwarming. I have learned that all those months of praying were well worth it. I wouldn't trade the sleepless nights early on, the lack of napping for the first six months, the pickiness, and the stubborn streak. Not if, in return, I get a fuzzy blonde head laying on my shoulder, or a chubby little hand holding my own. These past eighteen months have, indeed, been the best of my life. Hands down. No discussion. I am head over heels, mad, crazy in love, with a little man, and the husband who shares him with me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Where Is His Diaper?

This post is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Should the mention of bodily functions, especially toddler bodily functions, make you ill or otherwise compromised, you should opt out of reading this particular post.

About a week ago, Troy got the boy up from his night of slumber and changed his diaper. When I got him dressed about an hour later, I was surprised when I unzipped his blanket sleeper and his, well, Little Garrett, was peering at me. I laughed hysterically and informed Troy that he had forgotten to put a diaper on him. But then we found it, bunched up in the leg of his jammies.

Today, Troy got Garrett up and changed his diaper. We fed him breakfast and, when he was finished, he played with the dog, I talked to my mom on the phone and Troy surfed the net. When I hung up with my mom I walked down the short flight of stairs from the kitchen to the family room. I smelled it. Horrible, stinky doody. It smelled so strong I was afraid the dog had crapped in the house. I asked Troy if he'd remembered to put a diaper on the boy because, it just didn't smell quite right. He made a face and assured me that he had, indeed, diapered the runt. I whisked the small stinker upstairs, unzipped his blanket sleeper and, there was Sir Garrett's little squire, undiaperclad and covered in brown goo. Stellar! I fell over laughing as I accused Troy, again, of not bestowing upon our son the gift of the diaper. Troy came into the bedroom and saw the diaperless whipper snapper. He began to doubt himself. "Did I really not put a diaper on him this morning?" But then we found it, pushed all the way down into the right foot of the pj. This begs the question, is Troy beginning to malfunction as a diaper putter onner or is Garrett starting to be able to pull on the tabs that remove his poop catchers?

In any case, I sent Troy to run a bath, obviously our son would need watery reinforcements after crapping himself. As I pulled the boy's leg out of the pajama I discovered the real horror of it all. His foot was completely covered in doo doo. I shrieked and he reached down and grabbed his foot with both hands. By this point I'm sure you've realized that the left foot of his blanket sleeper had acted as the diaper and a giant wad of poop was chillin' in the bottom of it. We ascertained that the boy would need a shower, lest he be bathed right along with quite a lot of poopy floaters. I lifted him under the arms and ran him to the shower where Troy climbed in and scrubbed him down.

It is the second worst poop experience we've had. The first, of course, being The Great Poopy Plane Caper of 2006. It most definitely required two parents, one shower, one load of laundry, and a great deal of laughter. On our part, that is. Garrett didn't find it funny. At all. He was quite disturbed by the large volume of guck on his feet, hands and legs. He did not like getting put into the shower in his pajamas but we didn't want to risk taking them off and experiencing droplets of poop all over the carpet as we rushed him to the bathroom.

Author John A. Shedd once said, "Simply having children does not make mothers." And I agree. But I do believe that being in the fires and taking the heat day in and day out, dodging doody infested feet and coming out on the other end only slightly singed is what makes a mother. Or a father for that matter.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Do You Hear The People Sing

I am seriously missing my students. Don't get me wrong, I love staying home with Garrett. I love not having to work on lesson plans. I even love not having to worry about the stress of the next production. But I miss the thrill of directing. I miss laughing with them. I miss sharing in bits and pieces of their lives. I miss being the teacher that they can relate to, the teacher who spends fifteen minutes telling them a story because, what good is drama if you aren't storytelling, the teacher who gets reprimanded at Denny's because her group is being too loud, the teacher who was probably being the loudest of them all.

I know that I am seriously missing them because I've started dreaming about them. It would appear that these dreams are on crack but that's beside the point. Take last night for example.

I was in San Diego and I went to see the MVA show. Meg was there too because she had decided to drive home from Arizona to see it. (Meg played Jo in my production of Little Women and then promptly graduated.) I went to the final dress rehearsal (why I do not know) and Meg was standing on the stage and I literally flipped out. It was really freakish behavior on my part because, while I really like Meg and miss her a great deal, I probably wouldn't flop around like a starstruck fanatic if I were to see her. Anyway, my class was putting on Les Mis which wouldn't happen for a great many reasons. For starters, I've tried to get shows approved at Mountain Valley Academy and let me tell you, if a character so much as says the word crap or falls in love or something, it's rejected for inappropriate language or behavior. So, I'm thinking they'd have a problem with the whole Fantine makes a living being a prostitute thing. Plus the innkeeper's wife does make use of the word sh*t and that would definitely be unacceptable. But, in the dream, Les Mis it was. They had a great deal of expensive scenery and pieces and I was wondering if the students had had to sell their souls to afford such a set. However, everything was circular and covered in white linens. I've seen Les Mis twice and I wasn't really sure how crisp sheets worked their way into the French Revolution. But I thought, "Ah well, this is certainly avant-garde." It got really weird when Ethan and Hannah who were playing Marius and Eponine sang "A Little Fall of Rain" from a bed...that they were in...together. That's just crazy on many levels because Hannah is a fairly high soprano, you know, Cosette style. I've never really thought of her as Eponine. But that aside, not only was it completely ridiculous staging, it was made more absurd by the fact that they couldn't get through it without cracking up. I'm thinking that when Eponine is laying there breathing her last few breaths, she's probably not supposed to be laughing. She's also supposed to be laying on the ground in the middle of a battle zone and not sitting comfortably in bed but that's really neither here nor there. It's good to know, though, that in a completely irrational dream my mind was managing to function somewhat rationally as I pondered, "What would Cosette do if she saw Marius in bed with Eponine? This is going to put a damper on that whole relationship thing." Hannah being cast as Eponine began making sense as it became apparent that I was standing in as Cosette. You know me with my charming soprano voice. Furthermore, I was draped over Michael, who was playing Valjean, in a position that, really, a teacher, former or otherwise, should not be in. I mean, it wasn't Mary Kay Letourneau style or anything but it prompted the entire class to snicker uproariously. I was more worried about the hideous wedding dress that I would have to wear at the end of the musical should I really have to go on as Cosette than I was about sobbing over Valjean's, er, Michael's lifeless body. Then, Dr. Bassett from Point Loma, showed up because his cable was out and he was bored and Stage Manager Paul knocked a gigantic ladder onto the stage and it narrowly missed knocking me out. The dream went on but I think you get the drift.

Despite the fact that MVA's production of Les Miserables was a giant disaster waiting to happen, I think I might have preferred that to Oklahoma. I'm hoping that they can redeem the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical for me. But, I don't know, when Curly busts out with, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I've got a beautiful feeling. Everything's going my way," well, I mean, who talks like that? Maybe I'll believe it when it's one of my ideological high schoolers singing it out. Although, I guess they aren't actually mine anymore. That might be why I'm having psychotic dreams about them...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Arizona

Given its close proximity to "the state that I am in love with" you would think that I would know a great deal about The Grand Canyon State. I really don't. I know that it's hot. It takes a lot for me to admit that a place is hot, you know, given the fact that I thrive in 90 degree weather and turn in to a veritable popsicle when the thermometer hits 62. But darn it, Arizona is hot. As in, a great deal too hot for me to really enjoy myself there for any length of time.

When I think of places in Arizona two things come to mind. Number one, The Grand Canyon. Number two, Lake Havasu. When we went to Lake Havasu I was, I don't know, five or six. We boated to our own private campground and, I'm sure the entire trip would have been smashing fun if it weren't for the mosquitoes. Y'all I am pretty much deathly afraid of mosquitoes. This does not bode well for my general happiness during Salt Lake City summers. Such a fear was developed as a result of the Lake Havasu Experience. We had a port-a-potty that we'd hauled out to our campground so that we didn't all have to spend a week, or however long we were there, relieving ourselves in the bushes. It was down a pathway and stuck modestly back into the brush. One day I tootled my unsuspecting kindergarten butt down the path, pulled down my bathing suit and squatted upon Sir Potty. At this moment 89 gajillion mosquitoes attacked my unsuspecting flesh and, if I remember correctly, the pain was almost unbearable. I don't even know how we ended up getting them off. All I know is that our golden retriever puppy, tied to a tree a few yards down the path, was nearly hanging herself trying to get to my screams. When all was said and done, I had 827 mosquito bites. Okay, I didn't. I think I had something like 71, but you'd have to ask my mom for the official count. Whatever the number, there were a great many of them and they caused a great deal of discomfort. I think we determined that the Satan mosquitoes had just hatched themselves and, when they saw my pasty white flesh, they knew they'd found dinner. So, uh, what we have learned is that Arizona has blazing heat and mosquitoes. Strike one and two.

But it also has The Grand Canyon. I've only been once and I must have been in about the fourth grade because every SINGLE picture of me shows yours truly wearing glasses and rocking the side ponytail. Let me point out that I have not ever needed my glasses for your average, every day, peering at a gigantic hole in the ground. I need them for seeing a blackboard. I need them for watching TV. When I turned sixteen, I needed them for driving (praise God for contacts). Apparently, in all my nine year old glory, I thought these new spectacles were stylin'. These were not awesome Tina Fey glasses. These were not tiny little wire rims that made me look fashionable and mysterious. These were big ole chunky rims. We didn't need a date stamped on our pictures, take one look at my glasses and it's obvious we were rocking 1989. Although it may have been '90. Those late elementary years are kind of a blur of layered neon socks and big bangs. It should also be noted that, during the Grand Canyon trip, I was at the height of my obsession with posing for the camera with one hip stuck way out and a hand bent ridiculously on it. It was sort of like Punky Brewster imitating Vanna White. But for this awkward little girl, the canyon itself was majesty. I remember standing in awe of sheer immensity and wondering, as I often do, what compelled the Creator to paint such a wondrous piece of art. Was it so that I could not, in my right mind, deny his existence? "To stand upon the edge of this stupendous gorge, as it receives its earliest greeting from the god of day, is to enjoy, in a moment, compensation for long years of ordinary uneventful life." John Stoddard.

I will take the heat and I will take the mosquitoes if that is the only way to take the Grand Canyon. Arizona is certainly not my favorite state, but I am glad to know that right now, as I sit shivering in the winter of Utah, there is a painted desert and a huge hole in the ground south of here, shouting the name of the Almighty God through its creases and crevasses and reds and browns.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And They Say, "She's So Lucky, She's A Star."

Where Britney Spears is concerned, I really hadn't planned on weighing in. That's just, not exactly, what my blog is supposed to be about. But then this new ordeal transpired and I cannot lay off of it. I mean, I'm trying to write about how Garrett finally learned to hold on to his snow saucer but my fingers just want to be talking about the train wreck. It's not even a simple derailing anymore. No. We're talking about one of those situations where the driver of a Honda Civic thinks he can beat the train so he crams his foot down on the gas pedal and, just as he is crossing the tracks, the train slams in to him. The driver and all three passengers die instantly. The train is derailed causing mass destruction. 34 are dead and another 71 are injured. That's the kind of train wreck we're talking about here. We're talking about this little mouseketeer...



Turning into this


And I'm not talking about how some paparazzi snapped an unfortunate photo of her crying. I mean, if I had paparazzi following me all the time I'd have 42,000 pictures of myself looking like a frumpy slob with a pita chip addiction and maybe two photos where it looked as though I had finally pulled myself together. I'm not talking about the head shaving because, while that was a seriously unfortunate incident, I do feel that we are all entitled to do as we please with our hair. I'm not even talking about the whole What the heck are you doing marrying some backup dancer who is clearly after your money you crazy insane woman because, though I have no backup dancers (wouldn't want to draw your attention away from this groove) and no money to speak of, I do have the unfortunate memories of my own personal K-Fed. Fortunately we said no vows and bore no children but, nevertheless, I try not to judge other people's curious spousal decisions. And I am definitely not talking about the whole baby not in a car seat thing because, and I'll just go out there and be completely honest here, I often dream of sitting the boy on my lap to drive the two seconds it takes to get from The District Retail Center to my house. I don't do it because I pride myself on having a head attached to my neck, but I guess, and it's taken me awhile to admit this, I can wrap my brain around actually doing it and thus forgive her for her careless decision. But what I am talking about here is having two gorgeous little boys and seeming to not give a gosh dern (that's pastor's wife speak for "I'm really freakin' bugged by this") about ever seeing them again. And I have to think that something has gone terribly wrong in that pretty little head.


And ok. So I know she didn't have to be there on Monday. But you can bet your, I don't know, bottom dollar or something, that if I hadn't seen my son in over a week and my husband had full custody of him, I would not be three hours late to court. I would not be wearing my wedding dress when I finally got there. I would not start freaking out because of the media frenzy and get back in my car and go shopping. I would be on time. No, wait, I would be at least thirty minutes early. I would be wearing something sensible, like, maybe a pants suit that shrieked, "Look at all the business I am taking care of! I am taking care of so much business I should get a business woman special and you should let me see my kid." I would be begging for shared custody but, at the very least, visitation. This girl does not get to see her children until at least February 19. I think I would shrivel up and die and that's the honest truth.


What bugs me is, someone who is clearly psychotically deranged should be being watched closely. She shouldn't be allowed to wear a wedding dress to a hearing because, well, doesn't someone in her entourage glance in her direction before she leaves the house? I have to believe, for those boys, that she is just incredibly troubled and that she's not actively trying to be one of the worst mothers on the face of the planet.


We were on our way home from Israel in April of 2005, laying over for a time in O'Hare, when I saw the magazine covers confirming the rumor that Spears was pregnant with baby number one. I was exhausted from 16 hours of flying. I was infertile. I was having a gigantic pity party and my husband was having none of it. It turned into this over tired argument about how Britney Spears had just as much right to bear children as I did. No she doesn't! Yes she does!(When you've been trapped in an airplane over the Atlantic for hours and hours and hours, arguments begin sounding reminiscent of kindergarten.) While I have since retracted my thoughts that, "just because you make the completely psychotic television extravaganza, Chaotic and marry K-Fed you shouldn't be allowed the God given ability to have children," I do take just a small amount of pleasure in the fact that I can look at my husband, smile and say, "Remember how I went ballistic in the Chicago airport and said that I didn't really think she was fit to be a mother?" And he can bury his head deeper into the newspaper and roll his eyes. But he can't argue with me. Wait, did I say small amount of pleasure? Yah, I meant a lot. A lot of stinking pleasure. One point for Infertile Airport Lori.


It's not satisfying though, this feeling of being right. Because the fact remains that she's gone mad and she's got two children who need a mother. I don't think it's funny that she's turned into a total disaster. I don't want her to be the center of every joke about trailer trash. I want someone to help her. I want her poor mother to say, "Sorry, Jamie Lynn, about the fact that you're sixteen and pregnant. By the way, why did you go and do that, honey? You don't know, ah well, you've got seven or eight months before the real work begins so I'm going to go babysit your crazy sister and make sure she doesn't go anywhere in her wedding dress." I'm trying to think about what my mom would be doing in this situation. I think she'd be laying out my clothes for me. She might even be making me pancakes and taking me to my electroshock therapy sessions.


In conclusion, when I was in high school and Miss Spears (three months my junior) came crashing on to the music scene, people used to tell me that I looked like her. I used to take this as a compliment from the guys who thought she was hot--because that's back when she was hot--and a cut down from the girls who were about seven years older than her target crowd of eleven year olds and seriously annoyed by her crooning of hit me baby, one more time. Now I just have to know, once and for all, by a show of hands, er, comments, tell me, when you see me walking around with my toddler in tow, do we look like this?



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Does A Skunk Say?

video

Ask my son what sound a dog or a puppy makes, he barks. Ask him what sound a cow makes, he barks. Ask him what sound a sheep makes, he barks. Ask him what sound a kitty makes, he barks. Ask him what sound a bird makes, he barks. Ask him what sound a skunk makes, he plugs his nose and occasionally attempts to say peee uuuuu. My mom wanted to see a video of him doing it, so I tried, all afternoon, to get a good one. I finally did and then, accidentally, deleted it. I had to settle for the one that's posted above.

In other news I finally drove in a snowstorm. The kiddo and I went to Michael's and, though it was cold and gray when I entered, there was not a snowflake in sight. When I came out, about an hour later, my car was covered and the gray sky was...pouring snow? I think I drove about ten miles an hour all the way home. Cars were flying past me and, I'm sure, had I taken my eyes off the road long enough to glance sideways, I would have seen a few middle fingers being thrown in my direction. And I am, truly, very sorry but I'm a southern Californian. A little rain is stereotypically enough for me to get all up in a tizzy. White substances flittering all around my vehicle, guerrilla warfare style, should be reason enough for a full blown panic attack.

I have to go now. Every two seconds my son tries, rather successfully, to type his own sentences or comes precariously close to turning off the laptop or grabs my hand and screams and when I don't obey his command immediately, he shrieks in my face. I usually write blogs while he is catching some happy z's but today I was cleaning the basement and paying bills while he counted sheep. High times that was.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Deflated Snouter

As promised, here are the pictures of my son's belly. So, what we have learned here is that they weren't kidding when they said that we shouldn't have any pretenses about what it would look like. We weren't supposed to imagine some beautifully sculpted button. So it's a good thing we didn't. In my opinion, it looks like a pig snout got in a fistfight with another barnyard animal and experienced deflation. I feel like maybe, all I needed to do was stick a pin in it and I could have had the same desired effect. At least that way he wouldn't have a one inch incision where his buddy, Snouter, used to be.

Seriously though, there is a lot of extra skin just hanging around that, hopefully, the little G will grow into. If he reaches seven or eight with no improvement, I might have to buy him a new bellybutton. Although this might be a good way to weed out the all the girls who are NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO DATE MY SON. It's very strange for us to see him walking around without a two or three inch bubble full of bodily fluid where other people have a bellybutton. Now, at least, he has an actual button, serious outtie though it may be.



A woman in the church brought these by on Saturday and Garrett thinks they are marvelous. Perhaps this is because I taught him that if you punch the bear in the nose, he falls backward and then, immediately, rises back to meet you. I'm not sure that the Flower Ministry team had that in mind, exactly. I'm sure they expected better behavior out of their pastor's wife. But when your toddler is feeling the effects of his surgery on Sunday night and wants nothing more than to sob in his mother's arms, she's willing to do anything. Even if it means teaching her one and a half year old how to box. Don't worry, that was one tough helium balloon and he's still floating around the house just wonderfully.
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I'd like to clear up a little something from my last post. The vomit was most assuredly TODDLER puke. If I'd seen my baby blowing bubbles in doggie upchuck I would have also been cleaning up my own.

















Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hometown Super Chargers

Yes, I took a picture of my television. Yes, that is Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers talking to each other after the game. Yes, the score that you see underneath the Colt and the Bolt is 28 to 24. Yes, the 28 is next to MY team. No, (for all of you non-football fans out there) the lowest score doesn't win. Yes, if I was a betting person I would probably place my bets on the New England Patriots next weekend. No, I'm not a betting person. So I won't be placing any money on the undefeated Patriots. I will be wishing and hoping that my Chargers win because (long shot as it may be) I will be in San Diego for the Superbowl.
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In other news, at the beginning of the game, when I was preoccupied with a particular third down, I realized that my son was sitting on the kitchen floor playing with some kind of watery substance. He was swirling his hand around in it and then trying to blow bubbles (something he now tries to do in even the smallest amount of water). My dog had left his boundaries and was accompanying him. I thought the boy had spilled his drink but, upon further review, it was a smallish amount of upchuck. Garrett looked up at me and there was white vomity substance on his nose and chin. He smiled and then flopped over again, in his bubble blowing stance. When I whisked him to the sink to clean him up, the dog happily lapped up the remaining regurgitation. All this to say that dogs and little boys are kind of gross.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The States

Awhile back I said that it is a personal goal of mine to see a piece of every state before I die. I'm afraid that, in order to achieve this dream, I might have to strike it rich or wait until I'm 80 and see a whole darn lot of 'em at once. Otherwise I'll have to plan a vacation every summer to a different state, but that would not be cost effective, exactly. So out of the 50, these are the 18 that I've been to:

Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Kansas
Missouri
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
New York
Oklahoma
Oregon
Texas
Utah
Washington
Wyoming

I've seen a great deal of some and just a slice of others but they have all have left their mark on me. I'm sure that some impressions are a result of where I was in my life, what I was seeing, and what color the lens was that I was looking through. As an English student in college, I fell into a deep love with the American Writers who wrote about the country with such a raw depth that my heart was practically dripping with the blood of their words. I don't love this country because of its politics or its progressive thinking. I truly love this country because of its purple mountains majesty and its amber waves of grain. I love it for the way Cather describes Nebraska in "My Antonia" or the way I want nothing more than to float down the Mississippi in a chapter of Twain's "Huckleberry Finn." And though I wasn't ready for Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" when I was first introduced to it, I identified with his description of California and saw it, for the first time, through the eyes of a man who died over a decade before I was even born. I love that the coast looks so different in San Diego than it does in northern Oregon. I love that there is desert and mountains and snow in Colorado and trade winds in Hawaii and moose and deer and alligators and waterfalls.

Periodically, as in, whenever nothing particularly funny or poignant or news worthy occurs in my life, I will discuss the states that I have been to, and the impressions they've given me. Who knows, maybe sometimes whatever I say will persuade you to visit the state (i.e. Wyoming) or move to the state (i.e. California) or avoid the state altogether (i.e. Kansas). And no offense meant to people who love Kansas and call it their home but I'd like to turn it into a giant, square, man made lake with house boating and water skiing in the summer and ice skating, ice fishing and ice hockey in the winter. But then, I only spent time in an itty bitty town in south eastern Kansas where the highlight of my stay was Sonic and people offered me fried chicken gizzards when I had a touch of the flu. This isn't the post on Kansas. That, in time, will come and I will give you a full rundown on the flying buttresses and the wretched Mexican food. Are you waiting with bated breath?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Snouter

Once upon a time there was born a babe. This baby wasn't your average, everyday, run of the mill kid. No indeed, this boy was a special boy, for this boy was born with an abnormality. Some would refer to this abnormality as a nubbin, others as a freakin' huge belly button, others as an umbilical hernia (these would be medical professional types of people) and still others (namely his parents) as a snout. It began innocently enough. Baby is born. Baby has regular looking gross slimy umbilical cord that withers into equally gross looking dried umbilical cord that one day flops off and, "Glory be! We can finally give him a bath!" Baby looks completely "normal" for approximately two days before his bellybuttonal area begins to look, well, enlarged. Button continues to enlarge until parents are quite concerned. Parents take baby to the doctor who hides a smirk behind his clipboard and informs parents that baby has an umbilical hernia that will, more than likely, close on its own by the time baby is four or five. If it does not, surgery will be performed on said baby before he scurries off to kindergarten and is forced to endure the ridicule and evil taunting of fellow classmates. Parents become accustomed to informing nursery workers that, "The baby is not dying." And, "Yes, we have seen it." And, "Yes, we know it doesn't look like a normal bellybutton." Parents also become accustomed to buying a lot of onesies and rompers, so that their baby does not begin to pick up on the negative attention. Baby gets bigger and becomes best friends with his constant companion, much like most baby boys become best friends with another constant companion. This particular baby rarely noticed his other constant companion because the snouter was twice as large and made funny sounds when squished inward. Around fifteen months baby begins vomiting excessively and, after some time it is determined that intestine is becoming trapped inside Snouter. This is not good. Eventually, and to make a long story short, surgery is scheduled for January 11.

Last night, I took this picture of my son's best friend, Snouter. I used to see his herniated bellybutton and think, "If this is my son's physical imperfection, praise God!"But that was exactly it, I saw it as a flaw, something that made my child different from all the other babies crawling around. I realized last night, as I sat only hours away from bidding Sir Snouter farewell, that I have come to love the bump. Since Garrett began walking he would proudly shove the fluid back into his abdominal wall thus making a giant slurping sound. This would delight him and he would squeal. I know he'll miss it for a couple of nanoseconds. But I'm sure that when he is sixteen he'll be thrilled that his friends don't know him as Snout Boy. Mom, on the other hand, well, she would have been okay with it for a while longer.

Below is another shot of the wondrous button, the bellyknob, if you will. In all of its glory.
We got up this morning and our little cherub went to Primary Children's Medical Center up at the University of Utah. He got all decked out in hospital jammies, complete with no-slip socks.

And then he took some medicine that made him, well, drunk. At least, he appeared to be drunk. They told us that it would make him drowsy and that he wouldn't have separation anxiety when they took him from us. They said it was medicine. If, by medicine, they meant bourbon, than I'm sure that's exactly what it was. I've never been drunk but I imagine it is much like he was behaving, plus taking off your clothes, dancing on a table and then promptly puking your guts out--or something. Below is a short video of the drunken fiasco. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to rotate it so that you can see him in an upright position. That's okay though because this kind of shows it like it was, an acid trip. If you really must see it upright, I suggest turning your computer monitor on its side.

video

Just before the toddler was given this mind altering drug, Allison showed up with her youngest to keep us company. Troy, Garrett and Snout were playing in a toy area and I was putting some things in my purse. She walked in and I almost said, "Hi, is Tim having surgery, too?" Because, like, I wouldn't have heard about it until then if he was? Of course she was there to chat the hour of waiting away, which was very nice and meant that I didn't even have to break out my book or revert to my childhood by watching the mullets take over an episode of Full House. In any case, she and Tim witnessed the hilarity, the drooling, the cracking up at nothing in particular, the loss of neck control. They thought it would make a funny story around the dinner table tonight.
Leaving your baby with an anesthesiologist is hard. Even when it's a routine surgery that's only supposed to take a half hour. But I did not cry when I walked away from my tiny patient, which is more than I can say for some of the mommies.
It seemed like no time at all when the doctor came out to tell us that the surgery had gone perfectly. He'd responded very well to the anesthesia and the hernia had been repaired. I would be allowed to see him once he started waking up and Troy could join us about fifteen minutes later. Well, actually, one of us could go to him once he woke up and the other could join fifteen minutes later. I pulled the birth card. You know the one, "I went through 25 hours of labor and therefore earned the right to be the one to go to him AS SOON AS IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!" Husbands rarely argue against this point. I guess that when he woke up they gave him a bottle with apple juice in it. Garrett, not having had a bottle since his first birthday, looked at it like it was the plague. They switched to a sippy cup and he happily guzzled. "Duh. I'm a big boy. I've had surgery and everything. I'm so over the bottle." When I got to him they had just given him morphine and were rocking him. He was very angry about this:

"Get this green thing off of my ankle. I hate it and also, please remove the tape that is on my foot and make my toe stop glowing. My toe is not supposed to glow. And hey, also GET THIS IV OUT OF MY ARM RIGHT THIS FREAKING SECOND BECAUSE I HATE IT!"

Once I was holding him he would raise his arm to my face, look at me and groggily scream while waving it in front of my eyes. When I told him that we couldn't take it off yet he would yank at it. When he finally felt his eyes rolling back into his head he would take a sedentary break for about three minutes before angrily repeating the process. This went on for a good half hour. Scream, yank, comatose, repeat. Here he is during one of those comatose moments.

I notice that, in the picture, it kind of looks like he is wearing a diaper that is thirty sizes too big. Really, his large bandage blends in to his diaper. I promise. I also notice that he looks huge. When did my baby turn in to the jolly giant? Or, in this case, the not so jolly giant? He's asleep now, in his crib, which is good because when he's awake he causes self-induced pain. He's so used to poking his bellybutton in and out all day long and when he does it now, well, it hurts. Considerably.
We can't take the bandage off until Monday but I'll post a picture of the post-surgery nubbin sometime next week. I'm sure that it will just be a large flap of skin, like a stubby elephant trunk, where Snouter used to be.
Farewell Snouter, we'll miss you.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

journey

My brother's Heather gave this frame to Troy and me for Christmas. (And hey, note to Jon and Heather, it would be totally awesome if you'd get engaged so I could say, "My brother's fiancee" or, even better, married, so that I could say, "My sister-in-law." But, whatever. I'll just keep referring to She-Who-Will-In-All-Probability-One-Day-Be-My-Sister-in-Law as My Brother's Heather.) Anyway, back to the frame. I love it. I got this particular image off of the Internet. Was anyone else wondering if Troy already got a second wife? Well he didn't. Not yet. Not ever, are you kidding me? I am more than enough wife for Troy to handle. So, no, we don't know that girl. But I want her jeans.

My in-laws had this verse hanging on their bathroom wall. During the time that I so desperately wanted a baby, each of Troy's three sisters birthed cuddly, cooing, offspring. Sometimes I think the only thing that got me through family gatherings was the fact that if I excused myself to the restroom, this verse would greet me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I clung to that verse during those long months of waiting. And I cling to it now. I find it so incredibly appropriate that it was the verse chosen to accompany the word journey. Right there, smack in the middle of the Word is the promise not only that He knows the plans but that they are plans of prosperity, plans of hope, plans of future. It doesn't say, "You know the plans and they really stink," and I find comfort in that.

When Troy opened it I informed my brother's Heather that I was going to put a picture of a U-Haul in it. I didn't. I used this one instead.

We took this picture at my parents house on Thanksgiving Day. We moved five days later. I love this picture because we are sitting on the brink of our journey. We're staring out into the darkness and, far off, we see just a glimmer of light, a lamp to our feet. In the picture there is one person who is excited about the journey, one who is not, and one who has no idea that anything is about to happen. I like that the one who is less than thrilled is the one who is smiling the biggest. Maybe she's learned enough in this life to understand that God knows the plans He has for her. Maybe she's learned that in those plans she has hope. Maybe she's learned that it's really all about the journey.

So thanks, Heather. It was the perfect gift.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One More

I'm a horrible Christian.

No, really. It's true. I'm always trying to make bargains with God. As a kid I was a huge test negotiator. Oh crap, I'm not ready for this exam. Dear God, if you help me get an A on this test, I will never ask you for another thing as long as I shall live. Of course, as an adult I realize the foolishness of such a prayer and, most definitely, the stupidity of telling God that I was never going to ask him for another thing as long as I lived. When I managed to escape the evil confines of the Ex Fiance Who Shall Remain Unnamed, and found myself, miraculously held by the arms of Troy, I praised His holy name. (God's, that is. I live with Troy, I see his cluttery messes and they are anything but holy.) Thank you so much for this incredible man. If I never receive another blessing as long as I live, this wonderful love should be enough. At least as a wise, spiritually mature, and, of course, all knowing 21 year-old, I had the good sense not to tell God that I would never ask for anything else. Because then the bargaining really began. Dear God, I want to be a mother in the worst way and you know the desires of my heart and if you give me a child I won't ask for another one. One biological blessing will be enough and please grant me this petition. It was the prayer of a woman completely terrified about the prospect of giving birth. One time through the stretching and mutilating and sheer, unworldly pain would be enough. Thanks. I am so blessed to be able to say that infertility has been my darkest hour. So many people my age have experienced so much worse. And I know that the blackest moments of my life are still to come, but thus far, the barren demon has been the one thing that has shaken me to my very core. I truly believed, with every fiber of my being, that if the Lord blessed us with a child, one child, I would be satisfied.

And then Garrett was born. From the moment I saw that child's face, it was as though my own soul was somehow existing outside of my body. I remember, in a few seconds of sheer insanity, not wanting his umbilical cord cut, because he would be severed from me, forever. Thankfully I didn't express this thought as I'm sure the doctors and nurses would have exchanged glances and started me, right there and then, on Prozac, Wellbutrin and Nardil all at the same time. Every single day with that child makes my heart swell a little more with pride and love and sheer joy. Each night I thank God for answering my prayers. Often, I praise him for the months of waiting that we endured. I am sure that they made me a more patient mother. It took approximately three months, two days, 118 minutes and six seconds before I began desperately wanting another child. Dear God, remember how I told you that one would be enough? Well, um, turns out that other than those four unbearable hours, the other 21 hours of my labor weren't so bad. Turns out that the months of sleep I lost worrying about the giant needle that was going to go through my spine were for nothing. Turns out that, when numb from the waist down, I actually enjoy the experience of giving birth. And now, being a mother is my greatest joy. Could I have another one? Just one more. Please?

So far He hasn't answered my prayer, and it has officially been nine months. And yes, I realize that is long enough for most women to conceive, incubate and then spew forth a child. But I'm trying not to focus on that. I'm trying to remember the lessons I learned from the first time around. I'm trying not to waste tears or Garrett's life worrying about the blessing that may or may not come with the next month. I'm trying to believe, with every fiber of my being, that whether or not we are blessed with another biological child, this is all part of His perfect plan.

I've never had a Quiverfull mindset, I don't have a problem with people who do, it's just that I want two or three, if we adopt. It is at this point in my life that I am so very thankful that it never crossed my mind to have ten or twelve. If I'd wanted even seven, I'd be heartbroken and devastated and on the fast track to the insane asylum where I would happily pull paint from the wall and recite Shakespeare while picking lint from between my toes. Wikipedia says that a quiver can hold between 25 and 30. And I always believe everything I read on the Internet. This is off topic but, that's too many kids, dude. Speaking of a lot of kids, sometimes, living here and passing the grocery carts full of three or four or sixteen children, I have an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. It's a common feeling, this one that my ovaries are hopelessly broken.

So since adopting a quiverfull attitude would mean imminent psychiatric hospitalization, I really do only want one more to come from within. On account of the fact that dealing with this a third time would send me into the loony bin for sure, all others will be bought and paid for. (I have a JetBlue credit card now so, potentially, I could earn plane tickets by adding to my family. Now that's killing two birds with one stone!) But I desperately want that one more. That one more positive pregnancy test, that one more baby moving inside me, that one more warm body laid on my exhausted one, that one more flesh of my flesh. The thought consumes me almost as much as it did when I yearned for the child that became Garrett. I know that I may not receive the blessing again, may not get that one more. Many of the barren in the Bible received only one. Sarah had Issac. Elizabeth had John. When Rachel had Benjamin after having Joseph, she died in childbirth and, really, no thanks. And when I dare to consider myself in the company of these woman, I am honored. I pray that Garrett may, one day, be a John, proclaiming the Messiah, or an Issac, laying himself down upon the altar without so much as a murmur, or a Joseph, showing himself to be a godly man of exemplary character.

The fact of the matter remains, every night and part of the day, I pray for just one more. But here is the truth of it, I have met so many couples along this road of infertility that are still waiting for their miracle. Still waiting for their John or their Issac or their Joseph or their Samuel or their Samson. I know where they are. I know that these women do not want to be Michal. So, if you only have time in your day to pray for one extra thing, do not pray for us to conceive another child, we accept that this may not be the Lord's will. Instead, please pray that these childless couples would receive their blessing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

*UPDATED* In The Fishbowl: Item One

I thought that my blog could use a little something fishy since, you know, we live in fishbowl and all. And it is so true that we do. Sometimes, when Garrett is pitching some toddler tizzy and working himself into a psychotic frenzy, I start thinking that Troy is going to lose his job on account of the fact that we cannot adequately control our tiny tyke. I mean, what, on earth, is teenagedom going to look like? (Let me clarify that the church has not told Troy that his job hinges on the behavior of our son, and that is a very good thing.) Right now he's not being naughty at all, though. He's sitting on the couch watching Spongebob. Unfortunately, this is one of those times that no one is watching. They've gone to bed and we've retreated inside our Buddha Head Freshwater Aquarium Decor. Oh yes, there is a Buddha Head inside this fishbowl with us. Why, you ask? We don't know. We didn't decorate our own fishbowl. So we just take what we get and swim on down through the top of Buddha's scalp and have dinner. Last night, while Troy was at his meeting, I'm ashamed to admit, it was corn dogs. (Anyone else find it funny that Buddha has no brain?) Anyway, all that talk to simply say, "I hope you like the new template because it's staying. I lost all my previous html and had to try to remember what I had from memory because I am not at all bloggity savvy and am, in fact, kind of computer illiterate."

Today the wee one and I went to the post office and the bank and Dollar Tree to buy fruit snacks. See, I started giving him vitamins that taste just like fruit snacks and he cries because he can't have them by the handful. I let him have a baggie of them today (fruit snacks not vitamins) to curb his hunger and, when they were gone, he still went and pointed to the cabinet where the vitamins are kept. I shouldn't have given him an afternoon snack at all because he ate a terrible lunch. I dropped in on Allison from church because I was in the area and managed to find her house. She invited us to stay for lunch and, since I think it's awesome to surprise people at their homes around lunchtime and then impose on them, we accepted. Garrett, entirely interested only in what he could discover in Allison's house, ate about three bites of his peanut butter and jelly and three tiny bites of apple. He has great manners, that kid. It was such a wonderful time for me though, despite his lunch-induced tantrum. He played with the big kids and I actually had a few minutes of adult conversation, on a day other than Sunday, over a delicious salad. And then my world sighed contentedly.

*Updated to add*
In case any of you were as confused about the Buddha head as my husband, let me explain that it was a M-E-T-A-P-H-O-R. Troy read my blog and promptly questioned, "Where is this Buddha head?" I asked him what he meant. "Well, I mean, where, in our house, is it?" We do not actually have a Buddha head in our home. We do not worship Buddha. We do not have Buddha figurines. Nothing Buddhaesqe is anywhere on the premises. Just as the fish in the fishbowl do not have control over which plants or aquarium accouterments cohabitate with them, we do not always choose our circumstances, we merely explore them and make the best of them. If you are still confused and have no idea what I am talking about, just go ahead and skip to tomorrow's post. I'll be in my Buddha head. Thank you and have a nice day.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cleaning Angel

So the other day, the day that I was supposed to be cleaning, (oh don't worry, I'll get to that someday) I was actually sitting on my couch with the boy, trying to get him to watch just five minutes of The Lion King so that I could finish vacuuming without a wild-eyed leech clinging to my leg in sheer hysteria. We've got to work on his irrational fears. Being afraid of the winter Olympics or square hamburgers is one thing, being afraid of the vacuum is just downright absurd. In any case, there was a knock at my door.

First of all, if you aren't privy to the kind of house I run, you should know that when there is a knock at the door or, heaven help us, the bell actually rings, all pandemonium breaks loose. My golden retriever springs into action as though he hasn't been fed in twelve hundred days or walked in two thousand and the person standing on the porch has a leash and a rack of lamb meant exclusively for him. (As it would be because if someone on the porch was bringing me a rack of lamb, she could just go right back from whence she came.) He starts bouncing off the walls and running toward the door so fast that his legs go sliding in every direction and, near as I can tell, he is on the brink of cardiac arrest. Garrett, gleefully leaps from wherever he has been and runs, pointing and grunting, toward the noise. The two siblings almost inevitably collide in their attempt to reach the visitor first, despite the fact that neither has adequately discovered how to, actually, turn the knob. They bounce off one another, the two-legged one laughs, and they continue on their psychotic scramble to the door.

So, after the crazy frolic occurred, I scooped up the son, shooed the canine away and turned the knob. There stood a woman and a little girl. A huge smile spread across her face, "Hi! We're here for the cleaning party." I have to admit that my first thought went a little something like this...
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I don't know who you are but you must be an angel sent by the Almighty Father. Here is a broom and a dust pan. The cleaning supplies are under the sink and, if you don't mind, I'm going to sit on the couch with my son and watch The Lion King.

This was followed quickly by the realization that I was very confused about who this woman was and why she was joining my one woman cleaning party...
Are you from the church? Do I know you and just not realize I know you? Did my husband send you? Because while that would be nice, I would have appreciated a little heads up from him so I didn't look like such a lunatic as I stood here and smiled awkwardly at you.

This was then followed with...
Oh my gosh, someone read my blog, knew I was cleaning, knew where I lived because I posted a freaking picture of the house and basically told everyone in the cyberworld how to get to it and since she has a little girl she is probably not going to kill me but what if she does and do I just invite her in and this is really, really weird.

As I thought these things, all I managed to do was smile an enormous grin, squint my eyes shut just a tad and stumble over, "Um. Oooookkkkkkaaaayyyyy." She just stood there smiling. There was a good few seconds of extremely awkward silence and finally, mercifully, she questioned, "Is this the Smith's* house?

Me: Oh! No! It's not! I'm sorry. We moved in at the end of November.
Her: Oh! That's why you look so confused!
Me: Well, I am cleaning but I wasn't sure how word got out that I was having a full blown party.
Her: I left the ward about a year ago and I got a call that there was a cleaning party at the Smiths* today. But, I guess they don't live here anymore.

If they do, let me tell you, they are very quiet, indeed. And they are more stealth, even, than the snow. And they owe me some serious rent. And I'm NOT IN THE WARD! (This is a common thought I have as it is assumed, always, that we are a little ward-going family.)

It was funny. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then it led, of course, to me having to take the canine and the small homosapien to the park because they both caught a glimpse, through the open door, of the great frontier and they had to discover it--and pee on it (the dog and, thankfully, not the boy, although I am sure, in time, that too will come). So, realistically, the angel woman who appeared to help me clean actually caused me to get less done. Maybe I should have handed her a broom while I took my boys to the park.

And then, I wonder, how long, if I'd actually invited her in and handed her a feather duster, would it have taken for her to say, "Hey, where is everyone else? And who, exactly, are you?"

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and myself, in case someone read this blog and thought, "Oh, I know where the Smiths* used to live and now I can hide in the house and murder the unsuspecting Nelsons*.