Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Please Shoot Me

That's really about all I wanted to say. I know I've been being all positive and stuff, but next time you're six months pregnant, try to buy a car and clean a 2700 square foot home- oh and pack it first- and pack four people for a two week trip as well as four weeks of temporary living without any of your stuff when you get back (knowing that you still need to scramble to find somewhere to be after those four weeks) and get the mail forwarded and the cars registered (nice timing I know, I just flat out didn't do it) and all the usual laundry and child caretaking all in time for the same day. It's deeeeeeelightful! Yeah, try that, and then tell me you wouldn't just rather be shot. Witty comebacks welcome, but don't say you're sorry because then I'll feel like Complain Jane. I know, I am Complain Jane, but at least I make little jokes about it. It's humorous complaining, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More From the New Leaf

George told me tonight that if he had known how happy a vacuum cleaner would make me, he would've bought me one years ago. I have been vacuuming the baseboards without having to bend my pregnant beast of a body over because of my swanky extender wand. I have been vacuuming cobwebs out of the basement without having to climb up on a ladder because of my swanky extender wand. I even vacuumed the car out- we are going to look at two vans tomorrow, please pray that one of them works out!!!!- with my swanky extender wand and brush attachment. I love this vacuum cleaner! I am glad that I love it too. You know the old tired story about the toy that every child just had to have; the child gets it and never plays with it. George reminds me a lot of times that that one thing I am longing for will not change my whole world and make me a completely content person. The one thing is usually a home, but can be things as small as a particular baking pan, pair of shoes, or appliance. But this vacuum cleaner has changed my life; maybe only slightly, but I'll take it!

In honor of dear Eureka "the Boss" Smartvac, and God's graciousness in providing it for me, I am adding to my "new leaf" list. I don't remember what number we are up to, so I am starting over with one.

1) My swanky reunion outfit, 'cause man was I cute. My new shoes will last beyond pregnancy and go with all kinds of things. My jeans will last the duration of this pregnancy and into the next one, plus I had a $20 credit when I bought them so they were a great price. And the fun top, well, it was free because my mom got it for me (aha, shopping with her pays off sometimes!!)

2) The unloading of many things including: bath mats with holes in them, clothes George has had since high school, the saggy baggy couch, the bedskirt I have had since I was eight (it's actually in worse shape than you would guess!), plastic cups from various St. Louis (and sadly, Auburn) eateries, happy meal toys, the ugly brown sheet sets that my parents gave us because even they didn't want them and they still have sheets they got as wedding gifts (from the first time), George's heinous desk, brittle yellowed lamp shades, etc. etc. etc.

3)Discovering really cheap ready to smock baby clothes on ebay! You can't buy the fabric and buttons for as cheap as these people are selling the dresses and jon jons already made!!! Anne, everyone who smocks, you need to click this link- so you can be as happy as me : ) !!! I have looked at a lot of different sellers, but the pjsmocking lady has great feedback comments about her sewing skills (not just packaging, shipping, etc.) so I am going to keep my eye on her!

4) Free dinner at Moe's. My mother-in-law took the kids off our hands for the evening. We had a buy one get one free coupon for dinner at Moe's. And we also discovered we had a little left on a Visa gift card we got for Christmas. So George and I got to run out to eat (in peace and quiet) for free! This was especially fortunate because the next errand took us to Home Depot for more packing tape where we paid $5 a roll! Aye yaye yaye!

5) Discovery of cutie maternity clothes in the back of my closet. Well, I knew they were there, I just assumed they wouldn't fit or that I would look stupid in them. George convinced me to "at least try them on" and now I have three more things to wear than before!

So five is enough for now. I may be on my way to homeless. We may not even be able to find a van- which we need if we're going to end up living "in a van down by the river." I may be six months pregnant trying to pack up and clean and leave for vacation in just 60 hours, but there is plenty to be thankful for. And that's good to be aware of.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Clothes for the Culture

George's reunion was a good time, especially because Lauren was there and I got to meet some of her old friends and have a little bit of "girl talk." I went with the dressy jeans in the end and seemed to blend in just fine. I talked to another girl who went to school down South and married a Southerner. On the heals of mine and Lauren's comments about the difference between Northern and Southern dress codes, it was interesting hearing this girl's observations. She was by no means negative which is a huge credit to her. As much as I have felt like "a fish out of water" up here at times, I think it might be harder to be the fish out of water down there.

She mentioned that she was on her way to class one morning before Rush and before she could get out the door her roommate, a good friend, stopped her and told her that she couldn't wear what she was wearing, sweats and a baseball cap, because it was before Rush and she needed to sort of "dress to impress." She mentioned another time years later that she was with her son at a park in her husband's hometown wearing gym shorts and a tee shirt and that all the other moms were in (of course) cute little capri pants and wedge sandalls. She said someone actually thought she was a gym teacher! Both of those stories were hilarious to me, especially because I would never wear the things she was wearing on the occasions she was trying to wear them. And I know why people made the assumptions they did, not to be rude, but just because we all sort of think that way down there. They were making what they thought were safe assumptions. But imagine coming down there and not knowing that way of thinking. How uncomfortable! She said she took it in stride while she was there and almost didn't notice it, but after she got back up here she realized how uncomfortable it had been, how much work it had been to be like everyone else.

When we first moved here, we went to a different church. It was a great church; I really loved it. But there were a couple of people, one in particular, that made me feel like I was hoity-toity and thought I was it because of how I dressed my children and maybe even myself. It seems to be a common church problem that people in formal churches think there is something wrong with people who don't dress up for church. I think that idea is ridiculous, and that church dress code is really up to the social environment and just aids in building community but is certainly not a moral issue-- there are some communities who would feel very awkward trying to dress up and some who would feel very awkward wearing jeans. Coming from that angle though, I could see how wrong some of these people who condemn casual churches are, but I had no idea there was a flip side to the coin. Here I was sort of being condemned for not being casual enough. Evidently that is just as common of a problem. I don't think the problem for me stopped with church dress though. I really just felt so out of place everywhere I went. It seemed like every day someone I would run into would ask if we had just been to have the children's pictures made. No, I was just out doing errands with them in their everyday clothes. Amabel had all dresses, not because I thought they were better morally or socially or whatever but just because I like them better and that's part of who I am. But we were in a jeans and tee shirt world and people made so many comments. I was really uncomfortable.

So I know how this girl felt, the one who went down South for college. I was being told "be yourself" but I was being myself, just no one believed me. This one person that made me feel really uncomfortable for being me kept insisting that I was trying to be someone I wasn't. I finally told her, "I think you just don't like me, because you keep trying to change me to who you think I am, but you never knew me before; this is me." It was awful. We had other small and various reasons for leaving the church, but that was the biggest one for me. Hence the lingering chip on my shoulder I guess. Anyway, this other girl, the one from George's reunion who went down South for school, was trying to be herself too and it wasn't accepted either. Only she wasn't being told to be more laid back, she was actually being made to perform and keep up appearances. In an odd way, I guess we were both getting the same message.

I want to say that the church we go to now is great. There is no real dress code and if I get comments about my children's clothes, they are compliments. But mostly, it just doesn't seem like a big deal. I love that there are other people there with smocked dresses and button ons. But I also love that there are kids wearing jeans. I think anyone could come to our church, right off the street, right out of Southern sorority rush, or from any home in the St. Louis area and feel welcome and comfortable. I don't know about other places in St. Louis, we still get asked about having our picture made a lot, but at least our church is somewhat "cross-cultural."

Just to be clear, I don't think either thing is bad. If you come from dressing up, that's what you know. If you don't it's a little intimidating. On the other hand, if you're from a come as you are kind of background, that's what you do. But when no one comes as you are from an outside culture, come as you are feels a little limited to stuff that's not "you." Anyway, I think it's interesting that dress code can be so assumed and also (or maybe "therefore") make people not "in the know" feel like real outsiders and even rejects. I'm sure it isn't all just cultural and North vs. South, I just thought it was interesting seeing both sides of that coin and the obvious rifts that resulted in each example. And maybe the clothes issue is just a tangible example or manifestation of the underlying differences that are hard to peg. But what we wear seems to say a lot about something. After just those few examples about clothes, that girl told me, politely but firmly, that she would never consider going back down South. And I can see why. On the other hand, my experience living in St. Louis for the first year was equally influential in making me want to run away and never look back. Fortunately, I've had another year to feel a little better about things. And it looks like there might be a couple more years ahead, so I'm not ready to say I wouldn't consider staying up here. But I still miss Home. (At this point, any home would be great though :) Moving day is Thursday...)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Does That Go Bad?

I have been slightly obsessed over not having to pack food. It makes sense because we will have a two week wandering before we finally land in our temporary housing for the summer. We have plans to be out next Thursday and on the road Friday to go to Michigan, North Carolina, and Nashville (why yes, we have lost our minds). George's mom is letting me put a couple of things in her freezer, but it's pretty ridiculous to try to take opened boxes of pasta, half empty ketchup bottles, and bags of frozen fruit over there only to move them to our temporary housing. So I have been planning meals that sort of use things up.

Tonight I made blackeyed pea cakes from ingredients I bought to make them for New Year's. Not so amazing that canned peas and hush puppy mix keep for five months, but pretty baffling that cream cheese does. Am I right? Well, I mixed up the little concoction (recipe courtesy of Southern Living) and made some cornbread using some random vegetables in the mix. The result was absolutely disgusting. I mean, foul. Our very dear friends, the Fittses, were here for New Year's; and being in the first fatiguing month of pregnancy (without knowing it though), I hit a wall on New Year's Day when I had planned to make a fancy salad, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and some sort of fabulous dessert and serve these blackeyed pea cakes for appetizers. Fortunately the prime rib froze well and we got it out when my friend Beth Ann came over a few weeks later. And evidently, the cream cheese was no worry as it was fine today, even according to the date on the tub. I felt so bad that we had ended up ordering pizza for New Year's, but now I can say that I actually did the Fittses a favor. When the children asked what exactly was on their plate this evening, George answered "bean cakes," which is just hilarious in the first place. And after watching Amabel work hard to "do all things without complaining or arguing" and request more cornbread, which was pretty horrible itself, over finishing the "bean cake," I just dumped it all in the trash. I am still chuckling about it a little, but at the time, it was one of those deep deep belly laughs that lasts about five minutes and you feel like you have had an ab workout once you're composed. I think we all got enough food to nourish us and fill our tummies, but even as I write George is out getting icecream to bring home! We decided a good joke is to threaten the "bean cakes" as a course of disciplinary action in the future- "if y'all can't start playing sweet, momma's gonna start making bean cakes for supper!"- or something to that effect. What do you think?

Other things I have come across in the pantry include several "Southern Home" items. Just in case you are wondering, Southern Home is the store brand at Bruno's, a sort of Schnuck's of Alabama. So that means there are things in my pantry that have been moved at least twice, once over 500 miles, and are at least two years old. Gross! One thing was hot sauce, and I think there was some bouillon in there (I don't even know what I would have ever used bouillon for). I am thinking maybe stuff like that doesn't go bad, but if it hasn't been used in two years I don't feel too too bad about giving it the old heave ho. If you want the half full bottle of mustard or box of lasagna noodles or even the one Bully Porter beer that lingers in the fridge because no one likes it, just come by with a grocery bag. I also have a half full bottle of blueberry pomegranate juice (don't ask), some bacon bits, a plethora of salad dressings, and oh so much more! Don't be shy, you know you want all of it. I just hate to waste food. And at least some things certainly will go bad if someone doesn't use them in the next little while.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Various Matters of Taste

I'm itching to put something new up, but all I've got is narratives of my past two days, mostly packing and running errands. Boring! I did get some super fun shoes today (there's a link there, I bought the black pair though). We have George's class reunion coming up on Saturday and a six o'clock wedding to go to in two weeks. I wanted something sorta swanky but also comfortable. I always get a little more daring with what I wear when I'm expecting. The rest of my ensemble includes a crazy black sequined halter top (very modest though, it's a maternity shirt for heaven's sake!) that my mom bought for me when she was here last week. I can't decide if I should wear dressy dark jeans to the reunion, or dressy black pants. People in St. Louey don't dress the way they do down south. It's hard to explain the difference, but it's just different. The night I brought the kids here from Birmingham, George took us to get icecream. I remeber looking around the icecream place and telling George people just seemed to have a different look. He said it is definitely true; he had noticed it after leaving and coming down to Alabama. Anyway, all that to say, I have no idea what is appropriate up here. Then again, it's not like I always have the perfect thing to wear otherwise. Well, wherever you are, your fashion advice is welcome. My best friend in highschool was a fashion expert. For some reason, I just kind of let her have that role and never bothered to learn anything for myself. We were roommates in college too so I could always ask her if I needed to. Now she's far away and there's no one to drag me shopping and tell me what is "in" anymore (love ya Sara!).

As for other errands, nothing spectacular. We got the kids swimsuits in hopes that George can teach Amabel to swim this summer. I perused the baby section in several stores and found that I have sort of become a baby clothes snob. Well, what I don't understand is why they will have these darling little fabrics with tiny little puppies or flowers printed on them and then they have to go put some giant, tacky applique all over it and ruin it: "Little Prince" or "Thank Heaven for Little Girls." Yuck! Sorry if you have a lot of those sorts of things; I don't even notice once it's on child, it's just the paying of money for such things when you would much rather have the sweet little prints and let baby's face be the main attraction. Anyway, eveybody's got their own taste, you might die before you'd be caught in beaded black wedge sandals. And no child of mine is going to be tattoed with "carpool lane aid" across the chest! But no doubt someone thinks that is just darling. This is just much more me (too bad the prices are so not me!).

Incidentally, I am playing with my links because I am afraid no one ever sees them. I linked to a Tommy Boy sound byte one time and also to my Gap pajamas when I got them a while back. But you probably didn't even notice. These grey links are ugly though, and I have no idea why the second one doesn't match the others. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to computers. Please excuse the temporary ugliness of my blog. All will be righted soon (I hope). Also, there is a shriveled up daisy on the desk that August brought in today that looks like popcorn now. I keep wanting to eat it but I know it will not taste like popcorn. Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Early Morning Musings

This is my 101st post. So there you go.

My friend Matt from highschool used to draw the most hilarious caricatures of all of us (there were like 20 of us, so he could easily draw half the class in a class period). The ones of me were always with a little flinchy smile or smiley flinch, I'm not sure what you would call it, but you have probably all noticed it because supposedly I do it all the time. Anyway, he would draw me with the smiley flinch and tons of hair and this one pair of earrings that my first boyfriend gave me that I wore all the time. Usually I would have some sort of ellaborate costume on, a hoop skirted ball gown, the Chiquita banana girl's get up, whatever, and he would write "Oh thanks, I got it from the Gap," as the caption. Right, because all of my clothes were from the Gap. Anyway, one day something was different, either I wasn't wearing the earrings or I wasn't doing the smiley flinch (actually, I can't help that so that probably wasn't it) and when asked what was going on, I declared that I was "turning over a new leaf." So then all the caricatures for a while had me crawling out from under a giant leaf. Oh Matt, I miss that guy! Anyway, I have no idea what happened to all of the pictures or I would have to figure out a way to scan one on here. But picture me crawling out from under the leaf (with the smiley flinch and freshwater pearl earrings if you must) with this post.

It's not that I want your monitor to suddenly start dripping with sap. No, I can't take too too much of unrealistically happy people. I mean, be happy, but acknowledge that other people have hard things going on. I know y'all have hard things. Clearly, I have been whining a lot about my own hard things. I have actually been up since three o'clock this morning unable to shake my distress over current hard things. One of you quoted Tim Keller's wife yesterday: "God doesn't give imaginary grace for imaginary circumstances." I have been over and over that. I know what you meant, that we worry about "imaginary" things- like what to put in the game box (oh, by the way, I ended up putting all the video tapes in there; perfect fit!) or even scary things that might happen in the future- like we might not have somewhere to live in late July. And of course, to believe that God gives us grace in all situations means that certainly, we will be provided for come late July-- come day after day after day. So that is helpful. Well, it should be. And I am wondering why it is not helpful to me. I think it is because what I am really upset about is not the imaginary stuff that could happen. That is the stuff I stay awake trying to prevent in my mind. But I am so bent on preventing it because I am already upset about the now. Does that make sense? Basically, I'm not feeling the grace for the situation that is now, that has been the last little while, so I am freaking myself out over the possible scenarios of the future, guessing that it only gets worse.

So, "I'm turning over a new leaf," I say to myself at 7:25 am after a 4 and a half hours of ironing and ebay browsing and Andy Griffith watching. I've got to find the real things God has given me grace for to remind myself that it's there, to remind myself that He's there. Sorry if this is all to raw for you. I mean, whoa, I know. But when I get out of this funk, and if you fall into it, you will totally know you can call me :)

1) New vacuum cleaner- I have hated the old one as long as I've had it. It came from a yard sale and had electrical tape on the chord, discontinued bags that are almost impossible to find, and did not suck - a true dinosaur. The new one is one my mom got and decided she didn't like almost right away (she says it's too heavy). Even the curtains sort of quiver when I run it by, yet somehow it does not eat the fringe on my rugs. It does however, eat the little pink feathers that constantly shed from Amabel's boa and the pulled off orange and blue plastic strings from our plethora of Auburn shakers. It also seems to be a little self propelled. It is awesome.

2) A good haircut from Great Clips- I had to go, Frank is nowhere to be found. I searched high and low for Frank and finally broke down and went to Great Clips (with much fear and trepidation). It was the girl's first day at that location, but I took a deep breath and let her hack a whopping five inches off. And let me say, it looks alright. I told her about the problem I have with layers that are too short (they turn under and I end up with the Friends haircut- I think she was too young to know what the Friends haircut was though), and she knew what I meant and cut accordingly. Then she rang me up. Oh, $14! What?! Yes, $14! That is a $26 savings, my friends.

3) Leaving this house. What? Isn't that what I have been so stressed about? Well, yes, this house has been a huge financial and spatial blessing to us. We have had way more room than we could use and have been able to actually pay the rent from our monthly budget as opposed to draining our savings (which is good since it's already drained from our last place). I am afraid we cannot actually afford to pay more, and that we could find anything like such a good deal is highly unlikely. But the house is so big that it really did swallow us up. It has really lacked a homey feeling to me. Plus, I would never ask this dear lady who has given us her home, practically for free, if I could paint the 70s-ish brown brick fireplace or pull up some of the clashing pink, red, coral, and lavender azaleas or take down the bold brass bathroom fixtures and paint the faux green marble walls something else or peel off the fruity border paper in the kitchen. But, I have wanted to. And I have said before that this kind of made me feel like a jerk. But as a woman whose job is to nurture and make the home, I was feeling a little cramped (ironically, in such a large house). Also, there are no trees and the children fry in the back yard during the summer with the two story white metal siding reflecting into the shadeless yard. So, that sounds like complaining, but it is really me being grateful for not having to deal with it anymore- a praise for gracious deliverance from what has been a somewhat depressing environment for me.

4) The obvious, a new healthy baby. I am very eager to have this little one. Although the mixed emotions of whether or not I will have a little nest to bring it home to is really worrying me. However, this is the new leaf. And I am so grateful that our baby is doing so well as it is being "knit together." We got to see some of those three dimentional images, and George said that it already looks familiar. Truly, its little face, even at 23 weeks, does seem a little like the other two faces that greet me every morning.

I need to stop there. I guess a number 5 could be that when I finally can get to sleep (I've been trying every couple of hours all night), George will be here to watch the children for me until two or three. Hurray! So I guess the whole "attitude of gratitude" thing that pisses me off so much is really more of an attitude that will encourage us and help us remember that God's hand is on us. People usually use things like that as some sort of chastisement, some sort of additional command that if we would just do and focus on starving people in Africa, we would see that we have no troubles. But that simply is not true. It's not that we don't have troubles, it's not that life cannot be scary. It's not that there is just some thing we can do and everything will be better. It's that in seeing what isn't troubling (in spite of all that is), we will see that God has not forsaken us. So says the sleep deprived pregnant lady (crawling out from under a leaf) whose blog you will probably stop reading now!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Boring Post About Our "Situation"

I have been such a stress case that George let me sleep through church today. So, not the best remedy. But let me just tell you, I cannot get to sleep thinking about stupid things like what I can fit into the game box now that all the games are packed but there is still a little bit of room. Seriously, that has me lying awake at night. Last night I was all concerned because the friend that borrowed my pump (for nursing) went home for the summer and I am worried that if we move away she will not be back in time. These things never come to mind until I lie down in quiet. Then I start trying to talk to George about it and he either falls asleep or makes dumb jokes. Last night it was both (dumb jokes first) and because I was so tired and therefore psychotic (everything is always worse at night), I tried to get to sleep for about 45 minutes before waking him up to let him know how mad I was at his insensitivity. Can we say "institutionalized?" I'm kidding. Not about actually picking a fight with a person who was sound asleep, I totally did that, but about the institutionalized thing. I have been functioning in society this long. And I am sorry to say that this type of behavior is not so out of character for me. You only thought George was a saint until now; now you know.

But I have been blessed with a few loads off my mind today. One is that we do in fact have a place to be until July 15. So that's really good news. We went over there today and met these fabulous people who offered their home to us (and everything in it) without ever having met us. We're not exactly sure where we will store our stuff while we're there, but it was so great to go and see that their stuff will accomodate us (beds were my main concern) for a few weeks, and even just to see how gracious and willing they were to help us out. Well, I guess that is just one giant load off, shelter, but there were lots of little loads in one big bundle.

We still don't have a van. We still don't know if George will get the job in Dothan or if we will somehow manage to find a situation that will help us stay in school without too much more anxiety and strain. We still don't know if we're having a boy or girl. However, we will know that in 13 hours. But I think we're not telling... Or are we? I think that we are rather mysterious folk of late anyway, what with the not knowing which side of the Mason Dixon line we'll be on in two months and all. Then again, a third c-section will have to be scheduled. And how anti-climactic to know exactly when the baby will come and exactly what it will be. In thinking of all the sleepless nights I have the last 5 weeks of pregnancy wondering if every little contraction is the first one of real ones (hey, if you got all the "you look like you're fixing to bust" "that baby must already weigh 10 pounds" comments that I get, you'd be thinking about it that early too!), I think it is actually a grace that I will know exactly when it will come so I won't have to lay awake wondering. That is why we never could be "surprised," I would have way too much scenario making to keep me awake for weeks. I need to know what it's gonna be so I can have clothes and toys and peace of mind. But for everyone else, we may just keep the boy or girl question up in the air. Unless of course, you are lying awake at night because you need to know.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Taylor Siting

Not to cut off the thread going about c-sections (and other oddities of birthing), but I have just heard from some of the folks back in the Ham who purposefully went to the Galleria last week to see Taylor Hicks! Not that I should be making fun, I totally would have been there if we were still in town. Anyway, Lauren, did you get your picture with him? I think he's gonna win. And I will totally buy the album too. Love that Taylor Hicks. Evidently so do Lauren and Michelle, enough to lug their kids to the Galleria for a throw down! Good work, girls! Mall gigs crack me up.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Baby On Board

I just wanted to let y'all know we will be looking at minivans tomorrow. Whitney has already taken care of the pink fuzzy dice and stearing wheel cover, and Katie just brought me a classy Auburn alumni decal (so that even with Missouri plates, people will know where my heart is), but if you were looking for that special gift for the new van, I do have a request. Do they make a "don't mess with me, I'm pregnant" bumper sticker? 'Cause ya know, they should. I could use a tee shirt too.

It all started last night at the baseball game when I was practically run over several times by rude men. Two different times it was a man headed for the bathroom, so that is forgivable I guess (I'm thinkin' he waited as long as he could and then hurried as fast as he could right when the game was just slow enough.... oh wait, the final score was one to nothing... hmmm). One guy I actually just had to stop for lest we collide. And I just kept thinking "what kind of guy plows down pregnant ladies at the ballpark?!" Then this morning Amabel used all her four year old strength to get the door open for me and August and my mom at IHOP, and this man just comes out before any of us could go in, practically running August and me over, and then looking at Amabel and saying thanks like she was a peer who was opening the door for him! Then later today, I got beeped at twice. I haven't been beeped at since the Jerry Stiller look alike let me have it in traffic that one day (incidentally, I have since seen several people do the same thing at that intersection without all of the pointing and gesturing). Anyway, the first was some girl who had just come over into my lane, coming the opposite way, trying to get out of waiting at a railroad crossing (so I had a good mind to beep at her!). She turned around and got behind me and then beeped at me when I didn't turn right on red right when the traffic cleared. Who beeps at someone over right on red? And later I got beeped at pulling out of the bank parking lot because of the same thing, not turning right into slowing traffic ( he was mad that I wasn't being more aggressive and bullying my way in). Who does that? Well, evidently lots of people do because it later happened to a lady beside me at a red light who didn't turn right on red into slowing traffic. Please!

Well, it is hard to ever explain traffic situations, especially in writing. But I think I can cut back on the need to explain these things if I could just get that bumper sticker. And then, once the baby comes, we can move on to something that says "I've had my stomach cut open and a human being pulled out of it three times in five years. What's your excuse?" Or do you think that's too long?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff..."

I am taking a break now from the packing. The packing, the packing, the furious packing. Man, I hate our belongings! If I have to pack The Outline of History by H.G. Wells or Candy Land or my Williams Sonoma cake stand one more time..... Well, I don't know what I'll do. I mean, heaven forbid we get caught in a pinch without historical reference books (I guess that's what they are; I've never really looked) or a cake plate that doubles as a punch bowl! Anyway, judging from the number of comments about tv, I'm guessing we could all use some lighter fare- even just that we all watch a fair amount of tv shows that we are probably in need of a break from the stress of daily life. Incidentally, you are welcome to take a break from your stressful life and come over and help me pack my stressful life into cardboard boxes. Sounds tempting!! Also, if you can spare some boxes, that might reduce impending stress. So, what to talk about that we can all enjoy to melt away the troubles that brought us to sit down in front of the computer and take a break in the first place? Is there any one thing so shared as tv this day in age? I guess food. I have been waiting until I am in the place of actually buying food, instead of trying to use up what we have, to ask what y'all have on your regular meal "rotation." I'm so sick of my rotation. So coming soon, or sometime this summer, I'll post something along the lines of "calling all cooks," so keep me in mind as you plan your menus. But that doesn't help us with today. I guess the natural progression in conversation would take us from tv to movies. I saw some piece on the Today show the other day that was all about how men all quote movies and how annoying it is. First of all, when did this become a man thing? And is it really that annoying? I mean, how often are we talking? I, for one, can quote Tommy Boy and The Jerk with the best of them. Maybe that's not something to go around telling people... Oh well, I don't need you; I don't need anything. All I need is this... The ashtray, the paddle game and this remote control... And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing- I need this! Sorry, had to. And isn't that what packing is like anyway? Better get back to that, H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill and John Calvin are begging for a box.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Stupid Post About TV

I've been avoiding the deeper issues of late. Hope that's alright. Sort of bummed out by the deeper issues just now. But that's not to say I can't swim up to the surface and have a good ole time talking about the tele. Sorry to those of you who don't watch. I know it is not a productive use of my time in many ways. But if it produces an avenue where I can unwind, serenity so that I can enter the following day calmly and refreshed, I say veg away. But what to watch? Remember when a series would end in the eighties? Cosby, Family Ties, MASH? It was such the big deal. Emotions ran deep, everyone came out and took a bow, it was so hard to cope with the end of an era. Okay, so I'm being a little overly-dramatic... But anyway, I am not sure if it was just because I was a kid or what. But last year, I could not wait to be rid of Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Pheobe, and Joey. I watched that show religiously for so long, and then I was just sick of it. I have no idea why it took me so long. This year I am cheering as Will and Grace, The West Wing, Malcolm in the Middle, and That 70's Show all get canned. I mean, how long do shows need to linger before we are begging for no more?! Okay, so I haven't actually seen any of those shows except in syndication. Still. And what is up with ER not getting cancelled? Kill me now before I have to watch another season's worth of ER promos!

I do like a good tv show. I do. It is just so easy to hate the crappy ones because there is nothing else on. And I don't know how shows like Arrested Development get cancelled while there are four different Law and Orders and three different CSI shows on. Who is watching? I have no idea. What am I watching, you ask. I will tell you. Clearly, I am watching American Idol, although I think I will not be a slave to it again, somehow I have just been smitten with Taylor, especially since he went Ray LaMontagne on me (beautiful!). And I usually flip over for some Scrubs after that, and then on to Boston Legal (although my interest is waning). That's Tuesday; it's my big TV night. Wednesdays we watch Lost if it's new. Thursdays we try to catch The Office which is so worth watching, but hard to remember when it's all on it's own for thirty minutes with nothing else even slightly tempting before or after (so sad what "must see tv" has become!). Fridays, we've been known to catch Numb3rs, but that is just for lack of anything better to do. Saturdays, nothing. Sundays, Grey's Anatomy! And on Mondays I usually catch The Apprentice (again though, my interest is waning- it all depends on the candidates). I guess if you're watching something almost every night, it's kind of pathetic. Well, my husband is studying and my brain is fried from answering 437 questions all day long so what do you expect me to do?! Most of that I can take or leave anyway. I must admit to being pretty fired up about The Office though. I have a feeling now that Jim kissed Pam, the whole thing is going to go down hill though. There's always trouble when the big cliff hanger unrequited love story gets requited. Can Dwight and Michael still be so entertaining if there is not that silent and chemical communication between Jim and Pam making fun of them? I just don't know. And now we have to wait until next fall to find out.

Okay, so tv is lame. I know I could be reading a book. Maybe I'll give that a try one of these days. Sorry you just wasted your time reading this; at least you weren't watching tv.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Okay, so the day is almost over and no one will read this until tomorrow. But, I have a bag full of Hallmark cards that won't be mailed until tomorrow either. We're a little behind around here. George amazingly found time to have something prepared for the day, in spite of all his papers and studying. I awoke to hugs and kisses from my two little monkeys, pretty much like every other day :) But the smell of Sister Schubert cinnamon rolls was in the air. Ahhhh, Sister Schubert! Some of you who have not spent significant time in Alabamy may not know about Sister Schubert. She's found her way to Schnucks' freezer section though, and I highly recommend you splurge on her yeast dinner rolls and cinnamon breakfast rolls (also available in blueberry and orange) for special days. Usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas, they put them on special 2 for $5 and every now and then you can find a coupon; then you can stock up! Even those who are skeptical, once they've tried them, can see what all the fuss is about! So along with my yummy breakfast, I received some very sweet cards (George was quite proud of the one he picked from himself), an apple pie for later (Been craving some apple pie lately! We went to Ruby Tuesday's the other night and they didn't have it. Honestly, who doesn't serve apple pie?), and some very cheery gerber daisies in a charming little wooden flower box. Pretty nice haul huh? Then it was off to church in a frenzy, again pretty much like any other time. But I did get a nice long nap when I got home. I need to stock up on those too! For supper, we went to see George's mom and shared the apple pie for dessert before scurrying home in time for Grey's Anatomy- any other fans? Yes, it is a glorified soap opera. I am aware of that. That being said: What is Izzie thinking? Omigosh! Dr. Burke?! What about Denny?! And don't you think Meredith was talking about Derek and not the dog to Chris O'Donnell?! I do not like that Callie girl. How can they possibly solve all this in two hours tomorrow night? And y'all thought all I watched was American Idol!

I hope all you mommas had a good day as well. It really bothers me that people spell momma like mama. Because isn't mama the word used in foreign languages with the accent on the second syllable? And most other times, we would double the consonant: pup to puppy, dad to daddy, mom to mommy. It stands to reason that mama should be spelled "momma," or at the very least, if we are going ma to mamma, it should have the two m's. This is not quite so annoying as people spelling y'all as ya'll; but close. It's a contraction for you all, not ya all. Gracious! Anyway, won't you please join me in properly spelling momma (and y'all while y'all are at it!)? It is weird that it is spelled momma on the "mahogany" cards at Hallmark, but not on the other cards. All the other cards say "mama" (I know because I always look for ones that say momma instead of mom because I call my mom "momma"). Well, whatever you are called and however you spell it, happy mother's day!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Roanoke Phenomenon

A little while ago, I mentioned all of the products that have suddenly gone AWOL from the grocery store shelves and how disruptive this is to my life. Well, I'm being a bit dramatic (as usual) but I still can't quite get over the loss of Teddy Grahams Clifford crackers. But lately I have run into far more bizarre disappearances. I have coined a new term in honor of these experiences. No doubt the term will not catch on because the occasion to use it will be so rare. Or maybe not, maybe these types of things get lost all the time. It's just never happened to me before.

I have been wearing my hair in a sloppy knot on top of my head for about three months now because I have not had my hair cut since December. That's right, December. It's part of that whole "wanting to have things worth having." An affordable haircut that requires no appointment would far better suit the lifestyle of a seminary student's wife on a budget with only small chance scraps of time (a cancelled class, a missed alarm, etc.). But I don't want to go to Great Clips. I went to Great Clips-esque places for years and it was always a mystery what I would walk out looking like. Before that, my mom cut my hair with her sewing scissors. But right before we left Birmingham, I got an awesome hair cut. And I thought, "Wow, something can be done with the thickest head of hair in the world." So I realized it wasn't my hair's fault afterall. But Katie, the one who helped me not hate my hair, is in Birmingham. So my mission was to find someone as good as Katie in St. Louis. But the thing about St. Louis is where do you begin? In Birmingham, you either have a baby at Brookwood or St. Vincent's. You either shop at the Summit or the Galleria. You ask people where they went for dinner and you know where they're talking about. In St. Louis, you can have a baby at St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, St. John's, St. Luke's, St. Ann's, Missouri Baptist, Barnes Jewish.. Am I right? I don't even know where most of these places are, but I think people have babies at all of them. If you want to go shopping, try West County Mall, Plaza Frontenac, the Galleria, Chesterfield Mall, Crestwood Mall (no, don't), South County Mall, every other part of the county mall too probably. And the selection of restaurants is so endless that there's no way we've all been to the same Leonardo's (which is great by me!) or Highland's. Anyway, my point is, it's hard to find a place all your own in St. Louis. But my friend Leigh from Birmingham was here first and recommended a place to me and even a stylist. The stylist she suggested wasn't available when I first called, so I got an appointment with Frank who turned out to be the co-owner of the salon. I was pretty nervous about a man cutting my hair because I thought he would be all snooty gay bitch on me. Sorry, but that's what I thought. Anyway, Frank is fabulous. I love Frank. I look forward to my haircuts like I look forward to Auburn football or seeing Christmas lights go up in December. He's like the easiest person in the world to talk to and somehow moved me from not hating my hair to kinda loving my hair. But Frank is gone! Where is Frank? I don't know. I called the salon for two days a week or so ago and never got an answer. If you let it ring about 20 times, you get a message that says they're helping another client. I finally went by the salon to make an appointment in person. And it is not there. The main sign is still up, but there's nothing inside and no notice of a new location. Where did they go?

A little while back I went to drop off pictures at Wolf camera. I also enjoyed my little neighborhood Wolf because the guy who worked there went to highschool with my brother-in-law and coached basketball for another highschool (while Rick was coaching at his) so they were buddies which helped me and Doug get to be kind of buddies at his day job at the camera store. I was all ready to say hey to Doug and ask for my doubles with a CD when I drove up to the window of the abandoned store. Where was Doug? What happened? I went to the Wolf Camera in Kirkwood and asked about it and they said it was closed permanently and that Doug had moved way out to the Ellisville Wolf. Ellisville? No thanks. But I do miss Doug. So today I went to my new Wolf Camera, the one in Kirkwood, and guess what? It is gone, completely empty, and no sign at all anymore. Where did they go?

So I am calling this the Roanoke phenomenon because of the lost colony of Roanoke that disappeared without a trace. It is quite sad when you do find a little niche, albeit a very small part of life, that helps a giant city like St. Louis seem a little more homey and familiar and then it just vanishes. Quite sad. I always thought the story of Roanoke was sad too. No one knows what happened to Virginia Dare and her clan. But I hope I can find out what happened to Frank. and I reckon now that the Kirkwood Wolf Camera has disappeared, I will go see Doug in Ellisville after all and see what happened to what's-his-name at the Kirkwood store. I mean, I know businesses move, but it seems like they leave a little relocation sign up usually. Or they know for a while beforehand and tell you when you're in, "Hey, we're fixing to move." I find these two disappearances oddly sudden. Okay, so I did say I hadn't seen Frank since December. Still, he could've called or sent a postcard... Well, anyone with information on the whereabouts of Salon Priorities, formerly on Ballas right before Olive, or the Kirkwood Wolf Camera, formerly on Manchester right past Geyer, please let me know. It's just so weird to me!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Taming My (Pack) Rodent of Unusual Size

Whatever the opposite of a pack rat is; it's me. The one good thing about moving for the eighth time in seven years is all the junk I get to throw out. Our last move was my breaking point. We had just moved to the cutest little house in St. Louis when we heard about the generous offer of our current landlords to let us live in their house for free. We had not been in school long enough for me to realize that we were draining all of our savings and needed a free house, and I had not even had the chance to finish hanging pictures in our charming little cottage. Man, I was ticked off (yes, it's a theme with me; my first response is anger, but it usually stems from something a little more sympathetic like worry or fear or sadness). So I had a pretty tough time with the last move. I found it pretty hard to find the appropriate gratitude for the generosity we were receiving, and this was accompanied with a lot of guilt, because I know so many people who would walk through fire for such a break. I made it through, and I can now see what a blessing this home has been for our family in the past 12 months.

The house is large to say the least. Coming from homes all smaller than 900 square feet to this one (which I think is around 2700) was like stepping out of a pair of four inch heels after working retail for nine hours on hardwood floors (yes, I have done that; what was I thinking?). And because of the upsizing and all the room to circulate, George was reluctant to toss anything- we had room for it now.

George has a fantasy of having an attic full of oddities and treasures that our grandchildren can one day stumble upon on a rainy day. There are a pair of portraits in my parents' home that are a very sought after, and supposedly quite valuable, family heirloom (this sentence will link you to the website for our old family estate, the portraits in question are the color originals of Lewis and Rachel Adeline Maney shown on the page- my great-great grandparents). My family has a sort of history with fighting over these types of heirlooms when the owner passes on. And from time to time my mother checks in to see who is interested in what among my sisters and I, whether to spare us from or spur us into this type of quarreling I don't know. It is sort of expected that my older sister, who is named for the woman in one of the portraits, is to receive the pair (a husband and wife). And I really couldn't care less. George has decided that we should, perhaps, show an interest in the portraits, not so that we can proudly display our family heritage in the form of lovely and valuable artwork in our home, but so that we can wrap them in brown paper and tuck them away for our grandchildren to discover them one day and wonder at who these somber looking people of old were. He isn't keeping his motive a secret though. He and my mother have quite the rapport and I believe she is actually somewhat charmed by the idea, though it probably ensures that the portraits will never be in our possession.

So this is the character with whom I share all of my worldly belongings. This is the character who has collected six antique radios, one of them over three feet high, none of them in anything like working order, from various trash piles and junk stores across Alabama. This is the character who actually paid money for something called a button hole worker, a pair of old cross country skis in Auburn, Alabama (average temperature in January, 45 degrees, average annual snowfall, zero inches), and an old shaving kit (clipped stubble included- yuck!) in the days just before we were married. The skis and shaving kit, I am proud to say, got trashed. But, oh yeah, we still have the button hole worker, along with some sort of golden Pokemon Burger King things, and who knows what other "treasures." Now, I am making fun, but it is, as I'm sure you will agree, rather endearing. So long as it can be confined to let's say, a shoebox, or in this case, one of a dozen old cigar boxes. Things that cannot be contained in a cigar box? A ginormous and very ugly desk with one drawer stuck, and another drawer that falls apart when you look at it, that is mostly used to hold piles. Piles of what? Oh, just piles. The aforementioned antique radios. Books like you would not believe (well, some of you would because your husbands have similar collections). There used to be a stack of old, weird comic books in the mix, but I convinced him to sell them, though I'm pretty sure we still have a book of old comic strips from like the 1930's that makes absolutely no sense. Don't you just love George? Anyway, in spite of this quirkiness, he also appears to be the character who was just one move behind me as far as breaking points go. He has agreed, as he is the one doing actual physical moving, that it's time to clean house. Some things are just not worth storing and certainly not worth the effort to move a possible 700 miles back to Alabama.

So there is much cheering in the Edema home in spite of the sobriety of homelessness (ha ha!) because of all that will not be packed this go 'round. I mostly listed the silly stuff. But there is much much more to be rid of. Many things are from well meaning family members who give us their cast offs or pick up things at yard sales and don't know me well enough to know that I'd rather go without than have things I don't like (some call it snooty, George calls it "wanting to have things worth having"- see how he always looks for the good in me?). One thing is the saggy baggy couch I offered a few weeks ago that is still up for grabs. And there is a growing list as the idea of actually packing and moving and storing everything sets in. As I survey the house that has willfully and generously accommodated everything we own, I realize how few things are really worth owning. It is, in the end, a lesson in holding on to things loosely. Our stuff is just stuff and we can't take it with us. So why in the world are we carting it all over God's green earth while we're here, making our time here that much harder (seriously, when you consider how much time our family actually spends in preparing for or recovering from a move!). Of course, you won't find me so flippant if something happens to my brand new toile upholstered rocker that my parents just bought me as a baby gift, but give it a few years and it may find itself on the up for grabs list too.

Well, so maybe I'm not really learning some deep spiritual lesson. Anyway, it's a big thrill for me to throw stuff out, always has been. I am actually blamed for most every long lost treasure by my family, rational or not, just because it's so easy to say "Abby probably threw it out." So come on by if you think you might want some "stuff." You know what they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. And I plan to have lots of trash in the next few weeks.

Some of you have hinted that even superfluous and untimely moves can somehow be a blessing in disguise. And I reckon a tamed pack rat will be a blessing to me long after the boxes are packed and unpacked, and well, let's face it, with our family's history, packed and unpacked again. And to think of all the boxes that won't be packed with the junk I throw out, ahhh, now that is a blessing as well.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Does Anyone Else Have Something They'd Like to Say?

I haven't written in a few days because I just don't have anything helpful to say. So here is your opportunity to say something helpful if you like. Humorous anecdotes, any type of commentary or editorial, recipes, shopping lists, pretty much anything you'd like to share are all welcome. I have basically had that feeling I used to get about an hour or so before a cross country meet, that nervous sort of dreading but also a little excited stomach churning feeling, for several days now. Once the in laws came and went this weekend and the anniversary was properly celebrated, the whole moving in three weeks to no one knows where came a lot more into the foreground of my mind. So it's that whole against the ropes thing still. I doubt there is anything helpful anyone can say short of "won't you please take this nice three bedroom house off my hands for free." I am dreading what I am fairly certain is an inevitable couple of moves this summer which puts us into our second temporary home right before the baby comes. I am also like any woman who is trying to "build her nest" would be if she found her nest being snatched away and then switched around and put into storage and not really having any choices except what always turns out to be the only available option- hacked off. But it is a somewhat submissive hacked off. And that's the best I can do right now. Told you I have nothing helpful to say. If I come up with anything, I'll be sure to post it. I'll try to find something humorously distracting I can post in the meantime. Talk amongst yourselves...

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Festive Weekend

Today, I have nothing much to say. Cinco de Mayo? Okay. I think we're actually having pizza tonight. Tomorrow though, tomorrow is the Derby. And I love the Derby! Tomorrow is also George's and my six year anniversary! Our anniversary and the Derby are always the same week and we someday plan to go to the Derby for our anniversary. It's pretty pricey, going to the Derby. But something in me loves it. Something in me loves George too. In fact all of me loves George. He is the best part of my day every day. I told him that I think anniversaries are nice because unlike birthdays which get a little less exciting every year, they are better and better because there is more to celebrate with each year. He said nothing to that, and then that he thinks each anniversary gives us a litle more credibility. Like, now they'll take us seriously, six years seriously. Okay, so the romantic part of me isn't crazy about George sometimes, but I wouldn't trade him. Here's the recipe (click for link) for mint juleps so you can celebrate the Derby's 132 as well as George's and my 6. And y'all drink a magarita for me tonight just 'cause I can't have one (now you have an excuse to have another)!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Networks that Cried Flu

I meant to write about this yesterday, but I just didn't get to it. I thought it very bizarre that the day after I talked about not wanting to panic my children, the entire government and the psychotic "news" machine that we call the media decided to get together and panic the American people. What in the world is up with the bird flu? I first saw a piece on it this past August on ABC. I had never heard of it in any capacity and all of the sudden Diane Sawyer or somebody was talking about the Spanish Flu of 1918 (something else I had never heard of, sadly since I have a concentration in History- need that sound effect they use for Debbie Downer on SNL, the drunken trombone- wah waaah) that killed 40+ million people world wide. They showed creepy black and white photos of rows and rows of baby sized coffins, interviewed "survivors" (as if the world started all over again in 1919 like right after the Flood), and basically freaked the hell out of me (sorry if ya got a problem with me using that word, I use it for the added emphasis, plus I pretty much just talk like that sometimes. I know, I know, conduct unbecoming of a you know who- hooty hoot!). Anyway, George had to pray with me to calm me down after seeing all those rows of baby coffins. They also showed Grand Central Station and Times Square empty as a way of dramatizing how everything would shut down. That was sort of the initial shock. I really felt petrified, in part because it seemed like no one else was talking about it, like it was going to creep up and kill us all this winter without any other warning. Well, winter came and went with everyone talking about it. It seemed to me that a lot of people were just using it as yet another way to attack President Bush, because he isn't prepared. So I just got numb to it I guess. What can we do anyway?

So that's where I am, annoyed with talk of the bird flu. But mostly, I think I'm just annoyed with the media in general who, in order to keep their jobs, have to perpetuate fear and panic and exploit other people's tragedies so that we'll keep tuning in to see who was murdered on the South side, who is on trial for heinous crimes (making it real hard to remain innocent until proven guilty), how the whole country is going to keel over because of gas prices (insert baby crying sound effect or the world's smallest violin, playing for "victims" of high gas prices), and which horrible politician is ruining all of our lives today. It's whiney, morbid, but yet disturbingly unfeeling junk. And I hate it. Jack Johnson has a great song, that's actually not fun at all which is usually why I love him, called "the News" which repeats these lyrics:

"Why don't the newscasters cry when they read about people who die?
At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eyes"

Exactly. You almost get the feeling that they hope the Bird Flu does come so they can dramatize it and brag about "bringing you the news first." I seriously saw a commercial where a news channel was bragging about bringing the news of the World Trade Center's collapse first. Really, these people have no decency. All that said, I never feel like I can trust 'em to know whether or not the Bird Flu really is probability or would require mutations similar to that of the claims of evolution to actually morph into a virus that could spread from human to human so easily. And again I say, what can we do anyway?

I just looked to check into this made for TV movie ABC is airing about the potential chaos, Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America (insert dramatic dun dun duhnnn sound effect), and am delighted and relieved to see that many people share my feelings ('cause you know I should be in charge;)). I can tell you one thing I will not be watching next Tuesday at 7:00. Thank goodness for real entertainment at the same time on Fox (go Taylor)! Stupid media.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Case of Emergency

So have y'all read A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams? It is one that I loved from Reading Rainbow as a little girl. I know I keep saying I will put up a booklist and I never do. Well, someday I will. Anyway, A Chair for My Mother is about a little girl whose house burnt down and all of their things were ruined. And the people in their community all bring them new things for their new home. I really love the picture where all the neighborhood is carrying beds and chairs and tables and pizzas and toys into their new house. I love that this book teaches about caring for and loving our neighbor. It also teaches about saving up for something that is important and working together to the same goal. The mother and daughter and grandmother all put their change into a big jar every day and all of them have different ways they earn or save a little extra. When the jar is full, they will buy an overstuffed armchair because they only have kitchen chairs to sit in while they do various things (read, watch television, visit, etc.). And the pictures are wonderfully colorful; just go check it out if you haven't read this one! There is the issue of the fire though. It is told in hindsight so that we are not actually experiencing the drama of the fire when the little girl does, and we have no "before shot" of the house so there is not the idea of exactly what was ruined. I like that it handles the issue of the fire well without striking fear into the hearts of its readers.

I know I have alluded recently to my dear but paranoid grandmother who made me constantly afraid of being kidnapped. She also warned us of fires and had an escape route planned for every room in the house that we had to memorize. That wasn't as bad as the kidnapping issue because there was an escape. I think she made the mistake of telling us what happened to victims of kidnappers too (ie- they died, no escape). So I really don't want to tramatize my children. But I realize that a four year old might need to know 911 for example. She should also know her address and phone number (and if we ever actually live anywhere long enough for me to teach her....!). But when you explain why she needs to know 911, the 437 questions start coming real fast. I try to use the least scary examples like "if momma fell down and hurt her leg a little bit." Of course, if we're going to play scenario Amabel thinks "well, I would just bring you the phone." So it is a difficult situation to instill a little sobriety in your children without instilling the fear of all fears in them.

I have heard that children in fires sometimes run away from firemen because it is such a scary situation and there is a man with a big coat and mask carrying an ax coming toward them. When they could have been saved, they are often later found hiding under a bed or in a closet. I have meant to take the children to the firehouse and see the firemen in all their gear so that it will be something they could possibly reference in the case of such an improbable emergency. But the part of me who battles paranoia tells me not to worry. And I really don't worry. But when we were reading A Chair for My Mother the other day, I decided it may be a good idea to point to the picture of the firemen and explain that they are our friends and helpers. So the questions started coming, "well, how would the fireman know where our house is?" "why wouldn't mommy just come get me?" "how would the fireman know where my mommy is to take me to her?" "how would a fire start?" "would it burn all our toys?" Oh dear! I did my best and then quickly reminded them that they got to play with grandma the next day, hurray! In other words, I created a diversion. Any suggestions for how you were told about emergencies or how you have told your children without scaring anyone to death, I could certainly use them.

I was downstairs later doing laundry and for a moment could not find Happy, Amabel's precious pink hippo/"best baby." I realized she was still in the washer and it was no big deal. But that one moment combined with talk of the possible, though improbable, destruction of my child's world prompted me to get on the internet and find a backup Happy. She is a retired Ty product which makes her a fairly hot commodity, and I found her for $30 even $50 before finding her on Ebay, New with tag for $17. Yesterday, I found my priceless insurance policy on the doorstep though she will soon be relocated to some sort of fire and water proof vessel in one of the grandparents' homes. We'll rough her up to make her more authentic if we ever need to use her and otherwise someday Amabel's little girl will be able to have the same "best baby" as her momma to love as she grows up.

A Brief Follow-up

Still not quite ready to piece together what I have to say about yesterday and all of our days like that in general. Someone said one time, probably in church or something (yes, I could be a little more vague, but I wanted to be somewhat helpful - you're welcome :) ) that we should always treat people as if their heart were breaking, because in one way or another, it probably is. So what do y'all think about that? I guess heart breaking is sort of a dramatic way to describe a bad day at home, but bad days often are the manifestation of deeper troubles in my experience. And as it appears that we all have days like that, I would venture to say that we all have our own batch of stresses and struggles or "thorns in our side" as the apostle Paul, The Smiths, and the Black Crowes also alluded to. Well, anyway, chew on that, discuss if you will, and then read the next post which is actually probably going to appear above this one and that means you already read it. And in that case, thanks.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Up Against the Ropes (or Mayday! Mayday!)

Round One:
I woke up with the realization that today is May 1. Somewhere in one of my many three ring binders containing all of the magazine articles and party planners that I someday hope to put to use but now amount to silly fantasies that collect dust, I have a darling little layout for a May Day celebration complete with traditional May Day customs, instructions for making a maypole, choreography for maypole dances and all of the food to be served at such a gathering. Won't you all come if I ever evolve into that Martha Stewart I know I am destined to be (ha! ha!)? Today May means 30 days until something, though I'm not sure what, that involves all of my belongings to be packed into boxes. Will these boxes then be stored for the summer? Will they be stored for a year? Will they be put straight into some unknown home that is just screaming for us to rent it for pennies? Will they be put into storage and then need to somehow be shipped to Dothan, Alabama? These are my questions. I ask y'all because your guess is at least as good as mine. But I thought I should be responsible (this is when my alter ego headed for the hills) and get a little information. I suppose it's good that I did; I mean it was all bad news, but better to have it all up front right? So the morning hours close out with all of us still in our pajamas, my children still asking "what are we going to do today?," and me close to the point of a coniption fit because a) I have no idea what we're going to do today, or more importantly in my mind, in 30 days and b) no one can do all of the things I might need for them to do with aforementioned boxes containing all of my belongings in said 30 days.

Round Two:
I decide that getting out of the house is usually the best healer for me and my "moods" and that the children also benefit (whether they just "ain't happy" because "momma ain't happy" or they also have their own fair share of "moods" remains to be seen). I proceed to pull myself together and then start on them. August has his own coniption fit because I tried to change his diaper on the bed (gasp!) instead of "on the groun[d]." I struggle as to whether I should discipline him or just be sensitive to his feelings. Right, discipline. So there's much weeping and gnashing of teeth at that point. And over that racket, I also recognize that Amabel has not cleaned up the dress up clothes which I told her to pick up earlier. I sort of pause a little here as well, because remember I'm in a mood and I constantly fear taking this out on my children, but in the end when she argues me about whether or not I told her to... right, more discipline. So then there were two. There is much chaos until both children are finally ordered to bed as they were not put to bed by the baby sitter last night and therefore didn't get to sleep until nearly ten o'clock. Also, that was just the merciful thing to do for them as I was really on the edge at that point. Everyone is wrong. I'm grumpy and impatient. I didn't take the time to really focus on each child and tenderly correct him and her. "Him" and "her" are exhausted and stubborn so they lay in bed yawning but refusing to sleep, whimpering every now and then. Naptime rarely works with both of them going down at the same time; they keep each other awake. So I got August up so Amabel would sleep. Of course, she didn't go to sleep. The afternoon grows increasingly tense as August gets more and more tired while playing and Amabel complains that she "can't close her eyes (it's too hard)!"

Round Three:
August can't make it much longer. I put him in bed and call Amabel out to talk to her about obeying and how she needs rest. I feel like I am dealing with such a fragile child. I fear that she feels fragile because of me. I know it is easy for children to take things personally. I have had such a hard time with the stress that has come my way during... well, pretty much all of Amabel's life and before that. I heard that the more stress you deal with as a child, the more poorly you will handle stress as an adult. Well, that explains me; but I fear it may be also sealing Amabel's fate if I cannot better manage my own stress which must be causing hers. So I cuddle this child who seems to be coming to pieces and pulling me to pieces with her and in so doing begin to question my instincts about if she really does need a nap or if her anger and rebellion are responses to her sense of my own lack of control and strength. I decide she needs to try one more time to rest. I go to check the mail and begin running through the list of all the St. Louis area attractions to think if anything is open on Mondays (nope, nothing is) that I could take these children to to get away from the site of our chaotic morning and somehow enjoy the day. I finally decide that we can go back to the zoo even though we were just there because it is the only thing open. Amabel had been left in my bed five minutes earlier and is already asleep. August? Asleep.

So now I guess you could say they are "down for the count" in keeping with my boxing metaphor. Do you other moms feel like you have battles at home? Are you going rounds with the stresses in your life and with your own sin and those of your children? This was an unusually bad morning, but not so atypical as I wish. If my children's growth and righteousness depends on my own, I am up a creek! And of course, the Gospel is for our whole family. But on the other hand, as their mother, I know that I am shaping them and in many ways will either put them together or tear them apart, build them up or tear them down. How I wish I could be that mom that makes maypoles and has the May Day party for the entire neighborhood and church family in the yard each year. I wish I could even be that mom who simply speaks gently and therefore never hears her four year old say, "I don't want you to be mad at me."

All in all, I just want happy and well adjusted children who love God and others and also themselves; children who don't spend the whole of their energy fighting themselves and their sin (children very unlike the woman who is raising them!). Is that realisitc?

Hmmm, I am thinking about this. I have written several possible endings to this post and I'm not quite sure what I think yet. I'll let y'all weigh in if you want. And then I might have more to say- something about mercy, as usual, probably. Anyway, for all of you up against the ropes or in the trenches or wherever you may be, I am going to wake up my four year old and make the biggest batch of peanut butter, M&M, oatmeal cookies ever made by a mother daughter duo. And I am happy to send them to you wherever you are as my little way of sharing in the sufferings of all the struggling stressed out moms (or any other stages of life) of the world screaming out "mayday mayday!" along with me. It will require honesty and vulnerability on your part though, or how would I know that you're not just one of my "perfect" friends :) Okay, so the original May Day tradition was sending flowers, but you can't eat daisies. Mmmmm, cookies!

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