Monthly Archives: April 2006

Luminous

Standard

It must be spring, because I am in love with everything again.

Even the mundane chore of grocery shopping today, with the rugrats in tow, took on a golden sheen of pleasure as I plunked milk and peanut butter and red peppers into my cart, happy to be out amongst the people and happy to have the money to buy necessities and then some. I felt smiles shining through me from all sides, like rays of light.

As I drove along this afternoon with my windows down, I played my music loud, dancing with abandon from the waist up and flashing a giddy grin at the teenagers laughing at me from the next car over.

Today I feel like I could fly a little.

The sunlight has returned and I think I’ll just float on it for a while.

It must be spring.

Six Weird Things…About Kathy

Standard

In her comment on my last post, my good friend Kathy made this generous offer:

“May I get your friends to compile a “6 Weird Things About Katrina” list for you? You know how I love a good list… “

What a great idea! Who but one’s friends would be more qualified to identify and illuminate those little idiosyncrasies that make one completely unique? I was so alarmed moved by this meaningful gesture that I decided to return the favor and make a preemptive strike friendly list of some of Kathy’s delightful quirks. And here they are:

1. Kathy has a celebrity crush on Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. Not the actor, Orlando Bloom. Just the elf.

2. Kathy licks things. I have photo evidence of this. After every trip we take together, I get back at least one picture of Kathy poised to lick something–a bronze statue of a monkey, an Applebee’s sign, and, on one memorable occasion, a life size cardboard cut-out of Legolas (see point #1).

3. When eating out with friends, Kathy always calls dibs on the heel of the bread, sometimes leaping across the table to lay claim to it before everyone else even sits down. Never, ever get between her and that crusty, buttered morsel of delight. She will wrestle you for it.

4. Kathy is a walking sales circular. She is the Boss of the Bargain, the Coupon Connoisseur, the Duchess of Deals. I can leave the house to go grocery shopping, call Kathy on my cell phone, and ask her “Which store has London Broil on sale this week?” And she will know. Off the top of her head. That is amazing.

5. However, this same thrifty woman, who carries a punch card for every store in the tri-state area, who has never bought a hard back book, and who would walk two miles to a remote backpackers’ supply outpost just to save forty-two cents on a can of baked beans, will not shop at Ross or T J Maxx because she doesn’t like having to dig through the racks of clothes to find a bargain.

Lastly, and perhaps the oddest thing of all about Kathy:

6. The more she gets to know me, the sweeter our friendship grows.

At least she hasn’t run away screaming yet.

Six Weird Things About Me…

Standard

And I’m not just talking about my body. (Bah-dum-BUM!)

I’ve been tagged by John to participate in the highly subjective business of disclosing six little-known, oddball facts about myself. I’m not that interesting (aside from having freckles on my arm in the shape of a well-known star constellation), but here I go anyway:

1. You know I like Diet Coke, but I’ve shied away from sharing the true extent of my addiction. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I drink, on average, between 70 and 100 ounces of Diet Coke a day (thanks to my beloved refillable 52 oz. Extreme Gulp cup.) I know you’re concerned. Please forward all related articles about brain tumors and scurvy to idonthaveaproblem@yahoo.com.

2. I collect “K”s. As in the letter. I only have one so far, but every collection has to start somewhere, right?

3. I once got a large run in my pantyhose (back when I wore pantyhose) in the middle of a sightseeing day in Paris, France. The only public toilets were pay toilets, and I was very sensibly saving my precious francs for pastries. Needing a private place to shed my torn stockings, I ducked behind the propped-open door of a giant cathedral, hiked up my skirt, and left the sad little pool of nylon lying unexplained on the crimson carpet. I’ve always wondered who found it and what they might have thought.

4. I cry a lot when I read. The Notebook almost killed me.

5. When I got married, I was planning to walk down the aisle barefoot, but my Mom talked me out of it. She has since told me that she wishes she hadn’t.

6. I used to love horror movies. I adored the thrill of sitting in the dark with the lights off and friends all around while I watched the terrifying parts from between my fingers and nervously nibbled popcorn. I’m not sure when it happened, but now I can’t stand scary movies. Maybe it has something to do with Katie growing up and starting to go out into the world. There’s enough thrill in real life.

I could go on, but I’m sure that at some point my weird body would come up again, and I’m just not ready to be that vulnerable with you guys.

Everybody Else

Standard

This morning, it began. An uninvited (but not unexpected) guest has invaded our home. His name is Everybody Else, and he has some demands.

***

It started like any other day. I woke up, showered, got the kids dressed, and was pouring cereal into bowls for breakfast when Katie piped up, “Mom, I really, really want to get a Tamagotchi.”

“A Tamagotchi?” This was the first I’d heard of her new heart’s desire. “Why do you want one of those?”

“Everybody Else has one and I’m the only one who doesn’t!” she exclaimed, already on the verge of tears that I hadn’t instantly capitulated.

“The only one?” I pressed.

“Well,” she amended, seeing that I wasn’t buying it, “not quite the only one. But Mason has one and Sierra has one and Audrey has one and I want one, too!”

“Hmmm…” I stalled, thinking fast. The mention of Everybody Else had tripped off my parental alarm system. Red lights flashed across my mental screen as I tried to assess the far-reaching implications of this first showdown with the mob. “What do you like about them?”

Caught off guard by this sign of possible concession, she cast around for an answer. “Well….they come in lots of colors.”

“So does the paper I have in my desk, sweetie,” I said gently. “What I mean is, why do you want it? What does it do?”

She paused, thought, and then said, “Uh, it has buttons, too.”

I’d obviously stumped her, and it instantly became clear that her knowledge of the world of Tamagotchi was limited solely to the fact that several of her friends already had one and she didn’t. Not a great reason.

This was the moment, I knew. The moment to meet Everybody Else in battle and kick his capricious little butt before he started to corrupt my sweet child with his siren song of acceptance and popularity. I waded into the fray with armor shining and swords flashing.

We talked about peer pressure. We talked about choices and the reasons behind them. We talked about thinking for yourself and being confident enough to go against the crowd. I had real-life examples; I had hypotheticals; I had everything except visual aids (had I been given more warning, I might even have been able to squeeze out a Powerpoint presentation.) After ten minutes, I sat back in my chair, satisfied that I had covered all the major points and sent Everybody Else running for the hills, pursued by the deadly force of my loving and logical arguments.*

I waited expectantly for Katie’s response to my abundant parental wisdom. Finally, it came:

“I want the pink one.”

***

You may have won this round, Everybody Else, but mark my words: we will meet again!

And next time, I will have Powerpoint.

***

*I’d like the record to show that at no time did I pull out the old standby “If all your friends were jumping off the Empire State Building” argument. In addition to a longstanding aversion to the overuse of that particular illustration, I felt that the hyperbole would be lost on my little literal thinker.

Days of Whine and Roses

Standard

Last night, Paul kicked me out of the house.

He came home from work, took one look at my face, and realized that if I didn’t leave for a couple of hours, he might next be visiting me in a place with fuzzy slippers, muscular nurses, and bars on the windows.

Have I mentioned that Caleb is three? It took him a while, but he has finally discovered how to use his voice to make that one perfectly pitched, three year-old whine that is designed to drive spikes into your brain and dig down under your skin with its repetitive, nasal relentlessness until you find yourself curled into a ball in the corner of your own closet with a facial tic and a pillow over your head.

Or maybe that’s just my kid.

If whining is a form of self-expression, Caleb has elevated it to an art. And yesterday, I could do no right. Every suggestion I made was met with a stony, “No! I don’t wanna (fill in the blank). NoooOOOO!” Most often, this outburst was followed by a tearful breakdown, punctuated with dark, baleful looks at me, as if I should be ashamed for even suggesting that it might be good to put on shoes before going outside or that chicken nuggets would make an acceptable lunch. What kind of heathenish mother am I to insist on regular naptimes and turning off the TV after Sesame Street is over? (I’m sorry, but no amount of whining could make me sit through an episode of Teletubbies. They really creep me out with their technologically-enhanced anatomy and their inane baby talk.)

Anyway, my very wonderful husband saw the writing on the wall yesterday and sent me away with my book and my iPod to find a place to sit and let the red spots in my vision disappear.

I ended up at Costco. That might seem like a strange choice for someone craving peace and solitude, but I find that sitting serene and silent while the teeming crowd passes around me actually accentuates my sense of stillness. (Besides, I like to look into people’s shopping carts and make up things about their lives.) I bought a diet coke, played Norah Jones, and lost myself in a great novel.

When I came home two hours later, I was a new woman and a new mommy. And, wonder of wonders, Caleb was changed, too. He got to enjoy some Daddy time while I was gone, and actually seemed excited to have me back. We played Little People together until his bedtime, whereupon I was treated to a giant bear hug and Eskimo kisses, restoring those warm, motherly feelings that reminded me again of what I love about being with my children.

Amazing what a difference a couple of hours can make. I guess mommies and kids both need a break sometimes.

Two Thousand Miles

Standard

After a week of visiting me and my sister, Amber, here on the edge of the Northwest wilderness, my parents are back on a plane today, bound for their home in Georgia.

Living across the country from your family is hard. It’s even harder on grandparents, I would imagine. Life speeds across months and years like a roadrunner leaping over desert rocks, and kids grow up in the spaces between visits, rendering glimpses of them into a flip-book effect of accelerated development—learning to walk, losing that first tooth, joining the high school yearbook staff, graduating from college. Experiences tumble over each other like dominoes, fleeting and unstoppable, never to be recaptured except in pictures and shared stories, passed along like jewels in the family crown.

I comfort my mom (and myself) with words about how much smaller the world is now. At least, I say, we’re not living in pioneer times, when a daughter could board a wagon train to the West with her young family, never to be heard from again, except in occasional letters, letters which took long, tedious weeks to travel back across the long miles to eagerly waiting hands. I have only to pick up the phone, send off an email, post a photo, or start up Instant Messenger to share the minutiae of life on this frontier. And yet, even while I’m talking, we both know it’s not quite as good as popping over for a bite to eat after church, or having round-the-clock access to their son-in-law’s computer expertise, or sharing spontaneous summer picnics with all the grandparents together. Short of winning the lottery and bribing my entire extended family to relocate to the Northwest, these things are out of reach in this world. I thank God for the next one!

Among the jewels in this week’s crown were these moments:

*Caleb bursting into the bedroom where Grandpa and Grandma were staying to yell, “Good morning! RISE AND SHINE!” He spent a lot of time jumping on the bed, a thrill he is not normally allowed (but what are grandparents for, if not to bend the rules a little?)

*Smushing all the grandparents, Amber, the kids, and Paul and I into our tiny living room to share pizza and watch “King Kong” together.

*Taking Mom and Dad geocaching along the lake, enjoying the splendor of the view, and finally finding the tiny, elusive microcache hidden on the Longest Floating Boardwalk in the World. (Hint: think Velcro…)

*Sitting in on the Family Foundations Marriage Seminar that my parents teach and praying that 23 years from now will find Paul and me still as much in love as they are.

*Sleeping on the Aerobed in the living room with Paul. This was not as great a hardship as you might believe. We stayed up late, talking and reading and watching movies, and in the morning I got to pull the plug on the bed and enjoy the simple pleasure of hearing all the air whoosh out. (What can I say? I’m easy to entertain.)

*Eating at Tomato Street, one of our favorite restaurants. The kids got to color on the tablecloth and I got a hot, steaming bowl of my favorite Tomato Basil Soup, as well as a fresh, crusty loaf of French bread to dip into it. Food does not get much better than that, my friends.

*Sitting around the table at our apartment after dinner with the whole family, laughing and telling funny stories about our childhoods, until we had to quiet down for fear of giving Katie and Caleb any ideas.

Obviously, it was a wonderful week, filled with all the best kinds of fun. My only regret is that it was over much too quickly. So, in honor of my Southern heritage, I’d just like to say:

Y’all come back now, y’hear?