Sunday, May 28, 2017

Punctuation Name Game

In the continuing saga of NAMES YOU ONLY HEAR IN UTAH, allow me to tell you a story. There's a teacher who works at the boys' school who had a student named La-a. Now, I'm unclear as to whether this teacher had this student here in Utah, the great naming apocalypse state, or if the student hailed from another state but regardless of where she came from, her name was straight up La-a. When the teacher called roll for the first time, she said, "Uh...Lah ah?" And, I mean, what the heck else would you say?

The girl, clearly annoyed said, "It's Ladasha!"

No. No it isn't. At the ABSOLUTE BEST, it is Lahyphena.

Hyphens and dashes are two different things. A hyphen joins words together. A dash separates words into parenthetical statements. Sorry, Lahyphena, your name doesn't make grammatical sense. But who am I to point fingers? My last name is sporting an extra, and very confusing, S. The only thing that extra S is good for is weeding out the telemarketers. Everyone on the planet thinks my last name is pronounced as though you're combining two different food items--fish and pork--when, in actuality, it sounds like something an angry linebacker would yell just before the sack.

I see a lot of weird names that I have no idea how to pronounce in the subbing business. (Subbing profession? Subbing industry? I'm cracking myself up over here trying to make it sound like I do something more glamorous than glorified babysitting.) But if I ever see anyone with a "-" in the middle of their name I am going to straight up pronounce it hyphen. Just to be a jerk.

I pass these terrible names on to my sister-in-law who, even when she isn't currently gestating a human being, likes to hear them. I use the word "likes" rather loosely here. It's possible she's merely humoring me. She is, however, growing an entire little life inside of her at this very present moment and so I've been sending a whole heap of RIDICULOUS names to her. Sometimes, I make them up. She's never certain if they're real, in the sense that someone actually bears the moniker, or made up by me. As opposed to the parents who must, literally, pull Scrabble tiles from a box and then make it work.

I actually just tried this intriguing notion and randomly pulled the following:


I'm annoyed that I pulled a Q with no U but that is of no real concern. We could just leave them like that. In fact, I'm now wishing for a fourth son so that I could have Garrett, Matthew, Will, and Jsaiqok which is, OF COURSE, pronounced J say qwok. But I could rescramble them and have little Joqiska. Oh please let me do one more because I'm on a roll. Kajqosi.

Anyway. This La-a has us RUNNING WILD with the possibilities. What fun you can have throwing a dash into any name you can think of. But why stop there? There are so many other punctuation marks that haven't even been invited to the party. My husband came up with Ca... which, of course, would be pronounced Cuh lip sis.

How about the ,? Tre, (pronounced Trey comma). It could absolutely be a name here in the great state of Utah.

And why isn't anyone using the :?

Whatever happened to Melissa and Diane and Michael and James? Those names we could pronounce. Those names passed the substitute litmus test. And really, when naming a child, ask yourself WWASS? What would a substitute say?

I guarantee that this sub would have said, "La ah." If met with the giggles that always accompany a good name butchering, she'd maybe have said, "Lahyphena?"

But then, she'd have to introduce herself by writing her name on the board. "No," she'd say. "Not Bassham like fish and pork. Bashum, like a pumped up linebacker." Or, maybe, a serial killer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Imp Baby

Will was the chillest newborn. I'd heard that youngest children, especially ones that were just sort of thrown into the car and carted all around after big siblings, were often calm and passive. It was certainly true of Will. He was just content to smile his way through life, hanging off my hip. Or anyone's hip, really. I've had a great deal of baby experience and he was one of the easiest little people. Ever. 

You guys. Something happened to the angel baby. I can't really explain when it happened. I think it was one of those things that occurred slowly, over the course of time. He learned how to crawl at eight months AND HAS NOT STOPPED MOVING SINCE. Couple his insane energy with the fact that there is more personality in his little finger than some kids get in a lifetime and it is a recipe for a 21st century REIGN OF TERROR.

This is pretty much his face all the time...

It's two parts sheer delight and one part lunatic. Every single thing in my life takes seventeen times longer than it should because this maniac needs to be redirected every two seconds. (I wish that were an exaggeration.) The other night, I turned my back on him in the bathtub for ten seconds. Matthew was in the tub WITH HIM and by the time I turned my attention back to them, Will had pulled the toilet plunger into the tub and was floating it like a barge. He unrolls toilet paper faster than the speed of light. Seriously. It is actually his super power. It's completely useless but it's a super power nonetheless. If we leave the pantry door open, you can bet that he will absolutely scurry in and begin destructive behavior immediately. Grab him, redirect him, turn back to begin returning the pantry to a state of order, and he will frantically yank everything off the refrigerator. Or pull over the trash can. Or climb the stairs and atomic bomb his own closet.

He is rarely self entertained. If there ever was a kid's picture in the dictionary next to the word extrovert, it just might be this one. He does not like to be alone. He recharges his batteries solely off the power of being the center of someone's attention. Thankfully, we all wanted him really a lot and there's always a willing participant to serve as an audience member for the one man Will show. We've been working on trying to get him to play on his own for a few minutes at a time because THAT IS A VIRTUE, Y'ALL. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I heard him happily squealing in the next room for a good FIVE MINUTES. Troy was at work. The boys were at school. There was no explanation.

I should have realized the falsehood of that last sentence. After a few minutes, this crawled in...

As it turns out, he was in the big boys' room and he found a large chunk of clay. I honestly have no idea where the clay even came from (but I'm looking at you, Sunday School!) but, as it turns out, when mixed with the spit of a not quite one year old, it makes for a fascinating finger paint. He was white from head to toe. Needless to say, because of this and the fact that he has an intense passion for throwing the boys' ball caps ALL OVER THE PLACE ALL THE TIME and flinging their swim trunks over his head, I usually keep their door closed when they're not home and we are.

The other night, the boys and I started a movie while Will was still awake. This involved pausing it every few minutes to:

A. Tell Will to stop playing with the DVR player.
B. Put the batteries back in the remote after they fell out when Will threw it.
C. Play with Will for a few minutes because he started shrieking upon realizing that no one was paying attention to him.
D. All of the above.

We finished the movie after we put him to bed. Garrett, snuggling into the couch, let out a long sigh. "Finally. We can watch our movie in peace." After a brief pause, he gasped, "Is this how you and dad feel every night after we go to bed?" I nearly died laughing.

The imp streak is strong in this one. 

But he is DARN DARLING and he knows it. Ask him for a kiss and, even though he knows how to give one (in all its open mouthed glory), he will, nine times out of ten, lean his forehead gently onto your lips with a sly smile. Ask him to say, "mama" and he will look right at you and say, "dada." And then giggle like he is the funniest human on the planet. Chase him, grab him, tickle him, and he will squeal like such shenanigans have never, ever been done before. 

There is A LOT of redirection happening with this one. There is A LOT of the word NO happening as we strive to correct an eleven month old. There is A LOT of sighing with tranquility when he is down for the night. But there is A LOT of love.

The Reign of Terror Imp Baby has every single one of us around his little finger. He loves life and exploration and smiling. He is always so happy to see us in the morning, as though he can't believe he had to go a whole night without us. Joy seeps out of his very existence and I am so thankful for him...

even if his belief that he is royalty is wholly misguided.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus

I have a new appreciation for learning disabilities. It started out like any normal baseball game. The weather was warm, the kids were in good moods, and Troy and I were chatting as we watched Garrett's team swinging their bats. I started to misspeak.

You know what I'm talking about, when a word just comes out wrong for whatever reason. My mom tells a funny story about her and a friend. One of them simply could not say "white bread" and repeatedly said, "bread white." Even after pausing and collecting herself, she focused all her attention on the phrase at hand and blurted out, "BREAD WHITE!" It happens. But I said a lot of wrong words in a short amount of time. I finally widened my eyes and said, "What is happening? It's like I'm having a hembolism." I am not even 100% sure that embolisms occur in the head but that's neither here not there. What is here and there is that there is no such thing as a hembolism.

Troy thought it might be the heat or a lack of water. I was skeptical because it was not that hot and I'd been drinking water all day. I stopped talking and suddenly became verbally disoriented. I was not confused about where I was or what was happening. I knew we were watching our kid play baseball. I could think conceptually. I just could not, for the life of me, string my words together to properly form a sentence. My friend asked me a question and I had to concentrate so hard on how to say a three word answer that my head actually started hurting. I also felt very foggy, as though I was having an out of body experience. Within minutes, my head was pounding.

Garrett took his turn at the plate. As he stood there holding his bat, I realized that I knew his name. I knew he was my child. But I could not say his name (first, middle, last) in the right order. That's when I really began to get worried. When the game ended, Troy told me to go to the car and sit for awhile before Matthew's game started. I walked just fine to the car and climbed in. Terrified of what was happening to me, I finally decided to sing a song that I should definitely know. I chose the ABC's. I think I sang it correctly. I took myself through several more brain exercises and felt like I was starting to return to normal. That's when I took out my phone to scroll through Facebook.

And every single one of my friends had posted status updates that were something like this:

Greatest the husband birthday to the world in happy.


Make dinner should I what tonight for?

I blinked. I knew that all my friends had not simultaneously gone crazy. The same thing that was happening to my speech and my memory was also happening to my ability to read. I could see the words, they just weren't in the correct order. Also, my right eye seemed blurry.

I had become foggy, verbally dyslexic and somehow lost the ability to remember things like the correct order of my child's name. I started sobbing. I was terrified that I would never have a coherent thought again. Except that I was somehow having a coherent thought about not being able to have coherent thoughts. It was all very...incoherent.

Just then, Garrett came to the car to tell me that Matthew was about to bat. He saw me crying and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't feel very well. My words came out okay. Together, we walked back to the fields. He took Will for us while Troy and I talked and tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

I asked him to throw a baseball back and forth with me. I wasn't sure that I didn't also have physical limitations. We tossed a ball no problem. I even alternated closing one eye and still managed to catch it most of the time. We sat down and I asked him to quiz me on various things.

"When was Garrett born?" he asked.

"July 20, 2006," I answered. But it took me a second to pull the year from the vault of my strangely clouded mind.

"What are our kids' full names?" he asked.

I rattled off Garrett's and Matthew's. For some reason, it took me a second to remember Will's middle name.

He continued asking questions and I answered, becoming more confident with each question until he said, "What is Moses's mother's name?" My mind was blank.

He kept asking me Bible questions. If it was a well known person or story I could easily recall it. If it was more obscure, it was as if I'd never known the answer before in my life. He then asked me about characters on shows we watch together. I could picture them, but I could not tell him the character name or the actor who played them.

At one point, frustrated, I stared long at a water bottle sitting on the bench in front of me. I could read it. And, as Matthew's game went on, I found that I also began to remember names of people on TV shows and Bible trivia.

From saying words like hembolism to my memory fully returning to me it was about an hour and a half. The part where I could not speak correctly or read lasted between 30-45 minutes.

I saw this clip from SNL this weekend and told Troy that this is what it sounded like in my head. I was so embarrassed to even try to talk because I was terrified that it would come out sounding like this...

On Friday, I called my doctor to see if I could get in to see them just to make sure everything was fine. When I explained what had happened, they put me on hold. Within a minute, the doctor got on the phone. And, I mean, that's really never good. When I WANT to talk to my doctor, it's impossible. She told me that she wanted me to go directly to the ER. Y'all, I did not want to go to the ER. We pay roughly $1,000 in monthly premiums and on top of that an ER visit costs me $400 just to walk in. Then I have to pay for whatever they do to me until I hit my deductible. None of this was my idea of a good time.

I asked if I could wait until I got off of work.

"In my medical opinion," she said, "you need to go now."

I checked in within the hour. Ten minutes after I got there, they put me in a room. Seven very boring hours later I was finally free to go home. You know what is not fun? Sitting in the Emergency Room when you feel JUST FINE waiting for them to tell you if you are JUST FINE or SERIOUSLY NOT FINE. My EKG was fantastic. My blood pressure was terrific. I'm notorious for giving too much information, for telling in twenty minutes what could have been told in two. But I didn't know what was important to the story and what wasn't. So I told it all. The doctor called me a good historian. I felt like I'd been too verbose.

But when he consulted with the neurologist who ordered an MRI, he came back and told me that giving him all the information had helped them decide to run the MRI. Apparently, the same part of the brain controls speaking, reading, and right eye visibility. At that point, they were thinking that perhaps part of a blood vessel in my head had detached. He said it sounded worse than it actually was. That was reassuring because it sounded AWFUL.

My MRI was totally clear. No one knows what the heck happened to make me LOSE MY MIND FOR AN HOUR. It could have been a migraine. It could have been a partial seizure. It could have been a transient blocked vessel. It could have been a dozen other things.

But it wasn't a mini stroke which is what I was afraid of.

"I believe you," the doctor told me. "I don't think you're making it up. I just don't have an answer for you."

"I don't care if you believe me," I told him, laughing. "If it didn't happen, I just need the name of a really good psychiatrist."

"No, no," he said, "It happened."

I'm following up with a neurologist next month.

Until then, I live my life with the peaceful knowledge that the images of my brain were clear and with the unsettling horror that it might happen again at any time. Although, if it does happen again, I am supposed to go directly to the Emergency Room. Given that I will not be able to speak and, presumably, will be unable to write, I will just pull up this video of Vanessa Bayer and gesture wildly until they figure out that I've lost my mind. Again.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

To The Mothers In My Life

On this Mother's Day and always, I am thankful for my grandmothers and for their mothers and their mothers before them. For women who looked down the line of generations and couldn't even imagine where their legacy would one day lead. I'm thankful that they raised sons and daughters who would, one day, become my own mother and father.

I'm thankful for my mom who is truly more of a best friend to me. She put in the hard work of discipline, love and support so that we could, one day, be more than parent and child. I am thankful that she introduced me to faith and that she loves me--always.

I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who raised a man of faith and integrity. She taught him to love Jesus and to love his wife and I am eternally grateful.

I'm thankful for the mothers of my sons--the women who chose me to be the one to snuggle little bodies and hear them call me mama. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be just one of the women who loves them fierce.

I'm thankful for the four little people who make me a mommy. For Garrett, Matthew, Kate, and Will. This day is about honoring me, I guess. But I am the one who has been infinitely blessed by the experience of being your mother.