Saturday, December 2, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

They Used to Call Me Fatlip

Today at story time there was a young girl, probably four, who only had one arm. We happened to be sitting right next to her and her mother. She only had about 5 inches from the shoulder on the "missing" arm. I'm 31; I've seen plenty of this in my day. But today, I saw it through my children's eyes and I braced myself for one of Benja's loud and inappropriate questions or one of Avee's loud and obviously sympathetic "ooohhhhhhhhh babies" that comes when she sees something she thinks is an owie. I wished so badly that I knew the "right" thing to say. I distracted Avee as she repeatedly tried to reach for the girl's sleeve and look up it to find the missing arm. Benja never noticed, and I was relieved.

As is pretty much the case with most things in parenting, I'm at a loss for the best approach. I'd like to teach my kids about other children they will encounter who will be different. I'd like to teach them appropriate responses and behaviors. Adults just look the other way or ignore---and kids won't do that.

When I was a newborn, I developed a "fat lip". Quotations because that's what we called it, not because it wasn't really fat. It was huge. It was purplish and for quite some time, the only thing people saw when they looked at me. (Oh, that and the RED HAIR) I grew up being gawked at, made fun of, and questioned all the time. I learned to cope with it. Sometimes it was really hard and other times, it was sort of fun to stand up for myself or be an expert on face deformities. When I was very young my older siblings taught me to say, "I'd rather have a fat lip than a fat head!" when rude people called me Fatlip. I can remember being appalled (if 5 year old children can feel appalled) by adults who would gawk, point, whisper, and sometimes even say, "Did you know you have a fat lip?" SERIOUSLY PEOPLE!!!! To this day, those kinds of reactions from adults, shock me. It may have been more reflective of where I grew up than anything else though.

I grew up. My lip grew down. My parents used this lip as a tool for the forming of my character. I prayed every night, "please bless my lip". I learned to pray for what was best, not for what I wanted. I wanted it zapped, but I rarely prayed for that. I can still remember the night when I went to pray for my lip and realized, my prayer had been answered. I was about 18. It had been unnoticeable for at least 4 years at that point. I still have a bump. I see it when I look in the mirror. No one else does.

There were some people who approached me about it, that I had no problem talking to. They were kind, naturally curious, and non-judgmental. Even kids can perceive that stuff. There were others who just wanted to ask first so they could tell other people. I always knew the difference.

I was thinking about this today, after we saw the girl with only one arm. She knows she's different. She's felt the stares. Maybe she's cried that she can't do some things others can. She probably has already learned to zone out the nosey people around her. But she's also a child who probably likes to talk, and maybe her parents have been able to help her be proud of her differences. If I were her mother, what would I want her experiences around other children to be? Would I want it ignored? Would I want it acknowledged and for her to have a chance to express herself? I don't know. I can't remember what I wanted as a child with a "deformity." I just remember learning to deal with whatever came my way. I always knew when people said nothing, that they really wanted to. And then others who immediately asked about it were rude. But what is the happy medium?

I'd like to know if anyone has any firsthand experience or even passed on wisdom for dealing with situations like today. I know that probably, some awkward conversations will have to happen---but just as a mom who's winging it most of the time, I'd also like be somewhat prepared.

And tomorrow I'm going to tell you about a little boy we encountered whose mother was debilitating him far more than being born with one arm could. You don't want to miss part 2, At McDonald's Playland.

Friday, September 15, 2006


If you are unscrupulous and live near me, please stop reading this. We can't afford it.

I spent most of yesterday painting and crackling my dining table. Lots of paint. Fumes. I'd like to think that factored in to the story I'm about to tell.

Last night one of my neighbors pulled up in her car and Bo immediately pounced on her with 50 questions, "What are you doing? Where did you go? What are you eating? Why are you eating in your car?" She was sweet and answered him. When you don't have to live with it, it's kind of cute. Then they moved on to what she was going to do next. He's great with timelines. She said she was going to pick up her boys from football practiced and asked if he wanted to come. Of course he did. The kid knows the routine, he said "But first I need to put on some pants." Yes, it was about 6 pm. Yes, he was outside. No, I don't think there's much cuter than a 3 year old running around in navy blue undies. Yes, I'm low-rent.

Since the poor kid had been cooped up all week, I let him go. She knew we were battling chicken pox, so I figured it was her own choice to take the risk. I went in and got the keys to the car and pulled out his booster seat to put in her car and off they went.

We finished up the table, cleaned up the yard and went inside. Bo came home. I put my kids to bed. Some of them twice.

This morning I took the trash out to the curb and saw something on top of my car that didn't belong. I stepped closer and about fell over.

Do you see what I saw?

Twelve hours they were there.

Not only is this something that should NEVER happen. It is something one should never let the father of one's children know has happened.

And yet, I blog.

The end.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Today is my cousin Josie's birthday. She would be 27 years old. Two months after she turned 25, she was hit by a car while biking up a canyon in Utah. She was about 14 miles into the ride, just a couple of miles from the top.

She was in her second year of a PhD program in Molecular Biology. She was brilliant, humble, athletic, beautiful, disciplined, kind, hard-working and a good friend. She died in the arms of fellow bikers as they tried and hoped desperately to be able to save her. Nobody could have.

She had a brand new biking outfit on she'd gotten for her birthday. She had a completed RS lesson sitting in the front seat of her car, to give the next morning.
She had gone to the temple and an REI sale that morning.

I had never felt a devastation so complete, one that coursed throughout my entire body, before the night I had to walk into a room and see her lying still in a pink casket. I didn't feel my legs giving away underneath me, until I suddenly felt someone's arms around me, pulling me back up, offering support. There was no way to ever capture her look without her bright eyes and infectious smile. I was angry with the effort to even try.

Josie unwittingly turned people's heads with her physical appearance. At my bridal shower J crashed it with a couple of his friends. One of them spotted Josie in a crowd of 25 women and commented, "That is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen." It wasn't an overstatement by any means.

At her memorial, I learned more fully, that her heart changed people. I thought that the way she made me feel valued and smart and like the greatest addition to her life was unique to our relationship. 450 people at a memorial service in the state she only went to college in said otherwise.

At her funeral I spotted a guy standing alone, visibly shaken. I approached him and learned that he was part of the janitorial staff at her lab. She had invited him to have lunch with her a few times. He had never known anyone like her. None of us had. I stood and cried with someone who probably would have gone unnoticed in my life, at the funeral of a girl who didn't let him go unnoticed.

The last man to speak with her wrote a lengthy letter about their encounter and it was displayed at her funeral. He was too shaken up to attend. He asked her how it was going as they passed on the road. Huffing up an insanely steep mountain she exclaimed, "Things are excellent! How 'bout you man!?" He was moved by her enthusiasm and friendliness. I think we all were.

When Josie was 9 we became penpals. She grew up in California, I in Missouri. We corresponded through letters well into our twenties.

When she was 10 years old she lamented in a letter that the teacher had changed their seating arrangments, but she was still sitting next to Leon, and "couldn't escape his inexorable wrath". I was 14 and had to look up the word "inexorable" in the dictionary. The following summer I spent in California. I wore a pink shirt a friend had given me, a lot. One day Josie told me she didn't think my hair matched the pink. It was the nicest constructive criticism I have ever gotten. I never wore pink again until 2001. For a wedding. And it was a nice pink. :)

I still don't wear pink.

When Jay and I were moving from St. Louis to Utah, I called Josie and she gladly went and checked out a potential apartment for us. She had duplicate keys made before we got there. I've saved them because she paid an extra dollar fifty to have them cut on leopard print and smiley faces and they always made me smile when I used them to open our door.

She was graduating, moving, working, and beginning a PhD and always managed to find time to come and check on me, a new mother in a new town. She took me grocery shopping my second night in town because I have no sense of direction and would have ended up in Winnemucca faster than I would have found the local grocery store.

At the time, I had no idea how much she packed into a day, so I had no idea how much she was giving me with those hours here and there.For my birthday that summer, she showed up at my doorstep at 9:30 at night with a Skor bar and a box of Glide floss. "I didn't know what to get you but everyone can use floss, right?"

We met monthly on Sundays with other cousins for family dinner. Josie was always the highlight for me at these gatherings. She would always be standing at the counter helping in the preparations. She always turned with a big smile and arms opened for a hug. For months after, that void at family dinners was tangible and hard to cope with for a lot of us.

I miss Josie. My sadness over her loss has become steadily more "socially acceptable." I don't burst into tears mid-sentence. I don't have to walk out of rooms anymore because I can't keep myself under control. I don't walk around my house sobbing over the entertainment center as a dust it. Or sit in my rocker and weep while I hold my baby, because I just can't shake my sorrow. If I'm braced for the conversation, the details of her death don't reduce me to a heap of snot and tears.

I don’t miss the good ol’ days with Josie, because she always lived to the fullest. No regrets, truly.

I miss what could have been. The amount of comfort I found in knowing I will see her again, turning to face me with a great big smile and arms open for a hug, is indescribable.

I think the greatest legacy a person can leave, is an internal desire to be a better person because you know her.

Josie did that.
I look forward to telling her thank you.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Mid-day Trivia

This morning I was driving to the HUMONGOUS DFW airport to pick up J. It really is a huge airport. Well, maybe not the inside, but the outside is like 6 freeway exits to get to your desired terminal. Insane.

I have trouble getting on the right highway, making the right exit, merging to the left 3 lanes while the lane I'm merging into is trying to get on the right to exit----it's just not pretty. is trying Once you are merged and whatnot, terminals A-E are big ol' freeway exits of their own.

After you take the right off-ramp, then you have two more choices of direction. I've only ever chosen "Arrivals" but even after that, there's two more choices. We are rats in a maze and J is our piece of cheese. It's okay, I think if J had to be any food, it would be cheese.

Anyway, as I'm nearing the airport the SECOND time around, Bo asks, "When will we see Daddy?" I say, "Really soon, we are sooo close!" Then he asks, "Hey! What does 'soon' mean?"
And this is what I came up with:

It means, s-s-s...It means pretty s-s-s...uhhh, it's like, in the near fut---it's coming's....

What it WAS, was entirely ridiculous. What DOES soon mean!?!?! Could the reason that I, an intelligent woman, cannot define soon--be because I have conversations like this regularly:
Bo: Somebody broke my fire truck
Me: What happened?
Bo: It's broken
Me: How did it break?
Bo: Somebody broke it.
Me: What's wrong with it? How do you know it's broken?
Bo: Because it won't work

The sad thing about this dialogue is, I'm the idiot in the conversation. He is answering every question I ask. He later came crying about it again (it sadly is not making it's 110 decibels screeching siren sound, the jury is still out on whether this constitutes broken or blessing) and I suggested he might need a nap. He suddenly forced a horrific smile that looked more like a chihuahua bearing it's teeth and "cheerfully" said, "But I'm happy! I'm just happy" combined with a forced laugh.

We really do condition our children unknowingly. This all stems from, "Your whining and crying tells me you are tired." So obviously, happy and forced laugh means you aren't tired.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My House is a Wreck, But the Silence is Flawless

Jay is swimming with Ben. Avery is soundly sleeping in her rootbeer sodden dress. And I am finally blogging. We have Jay's 14 year old brother staying with us for a few weeks and now computer time is shared between 3 computer-aholics. I also have to be very careful what I write about the said younger brother because in the 3 and a half days he's been here, he has "quoted" me 3 times from my blog. Like when I hauled him into the master bathroom to make him watch the kids while they bathed (ie, free childcare in a contained space) and he said, "Oh yeah, I see what you mean by a terrifically large and almost completely useless master bathroom." I sort of stopped cold. It's very odd hearing yourself quoted like that. I'm gonna try and not talk too much about him. My spouse, children, and random impression-leaving people are fair game, but he didn't ask to be blog fodder, so I won't force him to be. Plus I overheard him say to Jay, "So now that I'm coming to stay with you for a few weeks, Angela's probably gonna blog about me now." Sam, if you're reading this, go get me a Slurpy at 7-Eleven and never you mind what I write about you in my blog.

I have 5 gazillion things I'd like to blather on about, but I'm going to try and control myself. We had a family party in Missouri for Benjamin. One of my friends made Ben's cake. It was amazing. It was a crime to cut into it.

If I were completely internet/picture-posting saavy, combined with verbally succinct, I could post the picture of the "cake" I made for Ben's Texas party today that we had with a couple of friends and two of Jay's cousins here. It would just be so much more amusing to see them side by side. But alas, I'm none of the above so you have to wait a minute to see it.

We have some cute footage here of the 3-year-old showing off his new skill of holding up three fingers (I'm impressed because I was 23 before I mastered that skill). That combined with, "I'm free at last" made for some great party entertainment. I wish I had some pictures of my adorable 4 year old nephew asking me with wide eyes of delight and anticipation, "Is THAT a PINATA". When I told him it was he asked if he could please be the first to hit it. I said yes because that's what you do when you still haven't found a way to hang the pinata and your 1 year old is dumping out the pineapple plate and your birthday boy is peeing down the slide, and you're so hot and sweaty and...

I'm quite certain that Avery still thinks my brother is her dad, which is okay for now but could present some social problems if the misperception continues into adulthood. Avery spent most of her time getting people to hold her or chasing various cats and dogs and screeching with delight. She said her first REAL word. I'm calling it real because she uses it in the right context, she'll repeat it, and we all understood it. It is "Cuatica" for Nautica, my brother's gigantic Siberian Husky. I totally could have made that breed name up, but it sounds good, right?

I adore this picture of Avery with Grandpa and a box of raisins.

About today's party. I just couldn't get my act together enough to even remotely plan or prepare for Ben's party. I was really excited about it because it was at a really cool spray/water park in a nearby town---but just the logistics of it all were overwhelming me. Going to Wal-mart at 10 PM to find "anything train" to put on cupcakes is your first clue. When I walked away from the cake department with 8 Spongebob toppers, I knew we were in for a long night.
Finally after looking for ANYTHING train to no avail my friend Amy thought of just doing a giant cookie and putting a little train and tracks on there. Brilliant. So we got a little train toy, a gigantic tube of cookie dough, and headed home. That should be simple, right?

Here's the interesting part of the story. I have icing dye, I have decorating tips, I have black icing in a tube---if you looked in my cupboard, you would think "Now there's a girl who knows how to decorate." Even just a simple, "Happy Birthday Ben" and not much more. You would think that. You would be sorely mistaken. I burned the first cookie. Jay, bless his heart, jumped in the car and got me another one in record time. I did not burn the second one. But by the time it was time to walk out the door, it was not cooled, nor decorated. No problem. I watched my friend Amy effortlessly decorate a gigantic cookie with cute little pink and green "flower" dots with pastel M&M centers. I can write a few measly words and some black lines. Please.

What actually happened was a full on war with a sandwich bag and red frosting. It was all over me, and nowhere it should have been on the cake. After poorly gauging the spacing on the cookie (hereafter to be referred to as the artistic attempt from hell cake), I had to settle for just writing "happy birthday" and not include Ben. What does he care, he's only Free, and won't notice. I step back from my work and groan at random splotches of red icing. I had already conceded that the lettering didn't have to look good, but random splotches, come on now---even Ben's gotta know that ain't right. Jay is standing nearby and either out of kindness and sympathy, or a desperate attempt to salvage any decency, offered to do the train tracks on the cake. I happily surrendered the decorating tools. I walked off muttering to myself about, "just because you have the tools, doesn't make you a craftsman."

I was applying mascara when I heard Jay blurt out something like, "Oh geez!" I didn't care. I can control my mascara brush, I can't control anything else. I finish my makeup (yes, I did say that the cake decorating commenced AFTER it was time to go, so what if I went and put on makeup AFTER that...) and walk back into the kitchen where Jay appears to have hit a bump in the road. Or the tracks. And he is in a bit of a skirmish with a blob of black icing, a butter knife, and his own body's manueverability. If I have laughed that hard ever, I don't know when. Okay, I know when, but I started laughing SO HARD. And I seriously can't stop. This was 4.5 hours ago and I have burst out laughing about 14 times since then. Not just Jay fighting with the cake, but the finished product was just ridiculous.

What's really funny to me though, is in all of my decorating ineptness, I have these incredibly talented friends. It was Amy's idea to put a train on the cake---so we had a topper train on hand.
I mentioned it to Jay and he immediately dropped the butter knife and let out a heavy sigh of relief. Not that a cute toy train was going to stop THIS train wreck, but whatever, we do what we can. I plunked the cute little train on top and we walked out the door.

I was still laughing when we arrived at the park and of course had to explain why. Jay's cousin said, "It looks cute, it's a little weird that the train is stuck in tar, but the rest is cute" That too keeps making me burst out laughing at random times. When Amy, who had conceived of the idea, showed up, she burst out laughing. I'm sure what she had in mind and what we produced were two very, very different things.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Of Parks and good parenting, and Britney, and Carpets, and Police, and Excessive Use of Quotation Marks

Does it ever end? When you're a little kid it's inane assertions like, "my dad's bigger than your dad!" like THAT makes you any better than another 7-year-old. It was true in my case and all that has done for me is make me big-boned and hopelessly pursuing the smaller figure of my petite-fathered counterparts. Then when you're in high school it's "I have more stylish clothes" or a car, or a life. In college, it's "I go on more dates than you" or "I have a higher GPA". And NOW, I'm a 30 year old, educated, friendly girl who's day consists of diapers, cut up sandwiches, The Little Engine That Could--and WHY, philosophical discussions on WHAT pooped in our backyard and WHY, and an eternal, endless, circular relationship with the dishwasher and washing I really need to be one-upped when I take my kids to the park?

Today at the park, after following Avee over the play structure as she precariously wobbles near the high edges in her bold statements of independence and watching Bo chase older, uninterested kids, and play with other children's toys for 45 MINUTES I say, "Bo it's time to go, Avee has to nap now." Bo objects, of course---but it's acceptable objections and I'm able to reason with him. But not so quickly that I don't hear the other mother nearby with her two children say, "We're going to go soon too, we've been here over an hour." Well throw me in the bad parent jail. I'm sure I'll sleep better there and I won't have to feed anyone.

It actually kind of made me laugh when it happened. I'm not insecure about myself, so I don't really care about that kind of stuff---but seriously now. If that kind of thing were to bother me, I would have been bothered long before when her brilliant 4-year-old sounded out and then spelled my sons name in the rocks while my brilliant 2-year-old yelled "No, it says SIX, not E!" and my genius 1-year-old wiped her cookie on the bottom of her shoe, intermittent with licking the shoe itself. I happen to know for a fact---that particular behavior is on the MENSA checklist.

My real friends say, "You took your kids to the park? You're a good mom."

So, yesterday I was at the park with my kids, DANG I'm a good mom. And Avee, was cruising along the play structure. I hadn't thought to just get on it with her, and was just standing alongside it to catch her should she need. So she fell off the other side. About 3 feet. Bumped her head twice on the way down. Her cries were more from being scared and a little of "You're a lousy mom, mom"--and not so much pain, so I felt a little better. Also while I was comforting her she climbed over me to get back on the structure. When she's a little older, we're going to have to teach her the whole, "When you fall off the horse, you gotta get right back on" approach to life.

I thought about how the night before on CNN Headline news was Britney Spears getting a visit from DFS and a police officer after her 6 month old fell out of his high chair. I thought how much that stinks for her to have that on national news when my children swallow bottles of allergy pills and fall off play structures and NOBODY knows until I blog about it. That's not the only difference between Britney and me.

So later, while I was online checking prices for airline tickets, Bo decided to redecorate our living room. With permanent marker. On our carpet. Over about a 2 square foot area. Yeah, so I pretty much felt like throwing up when I saw it. I felt sick that I had let it happen, sick for how mad I knew it would make J, and sick for how much I'd miss Bo when J saw what he'd done. Bo even said later, in his defense, "The cahwpet didn't look pwetty so I made it pwetty." Nice Bo, nice. It's there-goes-your-deposit-and-any-hopes-of-having-guests-over-without-feeling-like-a-slob beautiful. I was surprisingly well-put together in the disciplining of this. In fact, afterwards I thought, "shouldn't there have been more smacking and respective screaming involved for that to have been effective?" I lectured him, J made him sit in his room, he didn't get dessert (I NEVER make dessert, and we had it last night), I think he got the message.

Bo was sent to bed for the 20 minutes before dinner was ready, and came out just as it was ready. As we sat down to eat, two police cars pulled up in "front" of our house.

It's actually our back door, but it's out our dining and living room windows, so it feels like the front. I was carrying the noodles from the sink to the table and stopped cold in my tracks. For a second I thought I was Britney Spears. Did I beat Bo? Did I leave any marks? Did I sufficiently comfort Avee when she fell 3 feet in front of my nose and anyone could have seen? I'm not kidding, I ACTUALLY THOUGHT I WAS BRITNEY SPEARS. Turns out there was some problem across the street and the police were a little lost.

Well, our carpet is still orange and green. My friend Amy came over with her super-cleaner and plunked herself on the floor and worked away at it. I have good friends---I'm not sure I am that good of a friend. I would probably come by for the after-cleaning celebration of cheesecake. It's definitely lighter, but still quite evident. If he'd used more earthy tones it would blend better with the chex mix and dried milk. We can't have it all though, can we?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Low Expectations

I have decided that this will have to be my approach in what I accomplish in a day. Yesterday I had moderate expectations and felt VERY frustrated by the end of the day. Those of you who know me well, know that I am not overly ambitious in what I feel needs to be accomplished in a day. I'm okay with a full shower being my greatest accomplishment in a day. Or clean kids. Or a clean house. Rarely all in one day. Unless I have company coming.

Anyway---yesterday I had big dreams of getting up, getting all parties I'm responsible for clothed and fed, and going on a nice morning walk with my two angels. Well, by 9 am I was just getting myself dressed finally and taking gulps of a smoothie in between and Avee started her "I'm tired" routine. It consists of trailing me around the house (at an alarmingly high speed) wailing and screeching and persistently grabbing my legs to corner me with her body. So I give in on my hopes of a walk and put her to bed.

She sleeps from 9:40 to 12:51.

Bo and I putter around all morning coloring, cleaning, eating, and reading. Bo starts showing tired signs at 12:30 and is asleep by 12:50. For that one minute my children are asleep at the same time, I flop on my bed (after an exhausting morning) and fantasize that I will get to read a chapter, or maybe two while curled up on my oh-so-heavenly-not-napped-on-nearly-enough bed. Avee's gleeful babbles from her crib immediately dispel fantasy of any sort. I go get her and revel in her first few minutes of cuddliness---she's always so appreciative of being retrieved from her crib.

I tried to do an exercise tape. Anyone who's tried to do that with a 1 year old in the room knows what a joke that is. Avee sees my stretching as an invitation to treat me like a jungle gym. Warm up jog become a staggering and clutching of the entertainment center while Avee hopes for a free ride, clinging to my leg. I put Avee back down at 3 and Bo woke up at 3:10.

Avee only took a cat nap so at 3:40 I got diapers changed, bathroom trips, shoes on, and headed out with the kids for a walk. It ended up being a leisurely tour of the grounds as dictated by Bo and when we headed back to the trail for a walk, I saw that it was time to start dinner and that J was home. I went home, dumped the kids on him for a trip to the park and started dinner.
It was a good dinner. By 6 PM, that was the only verifiable accomplishment I had to my name for that day. My kids were rested and neither were malnourished, or had rashes---but really, that's more like preventative maintenance than accomplishments.

When I was 21, turning 22 I was on my mission at Temple Square. My mom sent me a letter a few weeks before my birthday giving the advice of keeping my expectations low and I won't be disappointed. This is really sound advice in some situations. Not so sound in other situations such as, let's say, choosing a spouse, or medical care, or personal hygiene. But in this situation, it was great advice.

I thought my mom probably gave it so not to have to feel bad when "all" she sent me for my birthday was a brand new outfit and a silky Victoria's Secret nightie (I'm not kidding, it was in "my" color, so I got it---on my mission, from my mother). Well, I kept my expectations low and it was truly one of the best birthdays of my life. We had a rehearsal for the songs we were going to sing for the ground breaking of the new Conference Center. So at 7 am I arrived at the tabernacle where over 100 sister missionaries were already seated and broke into an impromptu, but heavenly rendition of Happy Birthday--- as I walked up to my seat. Now really, how many people do you know have gotten to experience something like that?

Later my friends surprised me with a pre-breakfast party with chocolate cupcakes. So low were my expectations going into this party, that when I opened the cupboard the day before and saw an entire plate of chocolate cupcakes hidden inside---I only suspected my roommate who was "dieting" with me, had a weakness and was hiding it. She totally thought I was just acting dumb and that I knew it was for my birthday, but it wasn't until she pulled them out, frosted, for the party, that I put two and two together. My love of Asian food had somehow made its way around the mission and about 5 different Asian missionaries made me their version of fried rice. SOOOOOOOOO yummy. Laotian was my favorite.

Another birthday I had that I didn't follow my mom's advice---was shortly after I was married. J and I got married ON J's birthday. So, he had a pretty sweet birthday. Mine was 3 weeks later. I had all kinds of hopes and dreams of being spoiled and overwhelmed with gifts and tokens of J's affection and adoration. To his credit, he DID make me a cake (but it wasn't chocolate--how little he knew then) and he DID make me dinner---but I had expectations and they were not met. When I wept, "just one little gift, you couldn't get me just one little gift?"

J's eyes bugged and he turned around in our tiny studio apartment, his arms sweeping about and gesturing to basically every corner of our house, laden with gifts from our wedding. "Our entire house is FULL of gifts Nobody, what more could you possibly want?" Yeah, that didn't go over so well. The fact is, I was married to a wonderful man, and really had no needs or wants---but I went into the situation with expectations and was disappointed.

So today, my expectations are low. And so far, Avee needing a nap hasn't made me want to swear, and if I don't get a walk in the morning, there's always this afternoon, when the sun is blazing and the bugs are swarming.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I told J Sunday night I was going to exercise everyday this week. I would walk with the kids or go to the weight room/gym each day. Monday: I get up with the kids and got hit by a mac truck so I went back to bed. I have no idea what happened, but at 11 AM I couldn't keep my eyes open, and Avee had the same problem. She got to go into a dark room with a binky and soft blanket and sleep all her problems away. Oh wait, she didn't sleep them away, I dealt with them. I tried at noon to get Bo to take a nap with me but he was too busy building the tower of Piza with his new library books. He's actually got quite an architectural knack...
I actually fell asleep for 50 minutes while Bo was wandering around the house. I have never done that before. Bo was really good, so I'm going to pencil myself in for a 2 hour nap today while he holds down the fort.

I'm less inclined to blog when J's around. It's not so much that he's oppressive as it is he's a good listener.

We're getting ready for summer here, and I think all my rave reviews about Texas are going to go the way of all good things that aren't what they appear to be. I said to some Texas veterans about some summer clothes I bought for Avee "It's a little big because I didn't think she'd need something that cool until July or so." They responded with hearty guffaws and mutterings about poor stupid transplant. Meanwhile, it's really hot here---already.

We're on Day Two of potty training Big Bo. He had one accident yesterday that appeared to surprise him as much as me. We started a sticker chart with fun Thomas stickers and the promise of a prize at the end of 14 stickers. I showed him the prize bag so his mind would be filled with all things wonderful and thus compell him to use the toilet. It sort of worked. Our conversations all day revolved around the prizes.

Bo will you pick up your crayons so they don't get lost or broken?
Yes and then I can have a prize?!
No, you get a prize after you fill up that whole row with stickers from going potty.

Bo immediately runs to the toilet, even if he was just there 5 minutes before. He earned 4 of his 5 stickers before noon.

Well, Bo is yelling/sobbing from his bed, "I'm not tired, I'm not tired" in a rhythmic chant that is putting me to sleep. Too bad Avee is going to be awake in like 10 minutes. Grrrrrrrr.

Thursday, April 6, 2006


For some reason I thought I had another year or so before it hit. I thought for sure I had at least 6-9 months to get my bearings and learn every possible response. I thought I could cling to the tiny threads of sanity remaining for just a season longer. I was wrong. The WHY train has hit.

Why did Callou's tar bweak?
Well, something in the engine broke and they had to get it fixed.
So that they could drive their car again and because that's what people do when their cars break down.
Well, cars get old and sometimes need repairs so they have mechanics to do that.
You know how daddy goes on airplanes and works at an office; other daddies are mechanics and work on cars. (I'm not so PC that I even felt remotely guilty about saying daddies do it and not mommies)
Because cars break down sometimes.
Didn't we already have this conversation? Bo, tell me what you really want to talk about because I don't want to do this why thing anymore.
Because I'm so tired of it.
Ohhhhhhh. (sympathetic pause) Are you sick mama?

That is a miniscule, eency, weency glimpse into the scintillating conversation that makes up my day. I read about 6 months ago that children ask why because they don't know proper conversation skills but they do want to converse. I seriously thought this insight would help me when my kids hit the WHY stage. But the second the front engine of the WHY train hits, I start racking my brain for the real thing he wants to talk about, or a real conversation we could have but, I always come up empty. Personally, I think he just does it to have the upper hand, rob me of even the slightest delusion of sanity.

Well, I need to vent, I have a WHY of my own. I got our first electric bill two months ago at the beginning of February. It was for nearly $200. While I was surprised at how high it was, I had nothing to compare it to and didn't really take the time to study it as a smart consumer would. I made mention of it to Jay and suggested we be a little more conservative with our energy usage. I would cease doing laundry, he could in turn take only luke-warm or cold showers. A little sacrificing for both of us.

Well, bill #2 came and it was almost $30 higher. First of all, we never turned the heat on once---I wanted to see if it would make a difference. We were also ALL out of town for an entire week out of February. I was having breakfast with Oprah. Okay, so I had breakfast NEAR Oprah, but whatever. That left about 24 days of electric usage. So, I get concerned and ask to see my friend's bill who has two children and the exact same apartment as us. Her bill was about $96 less than mine. I see red. Then I see that she has the same Kwh usage as me, actually, a bit less. Still perplexing. It says we both used over 1600 Kwh. Then I see that she is paying nearly 5 CENTS LESS THAN ME. I'm paying about 13.5. So I call to see what the problem is. I get told there's nothing they can do about, I called the wrong number to sign up and my neighbors are under a deal that the energy company has with our complex. Tough luck, I called the wrong number, they won't switch it over and won't fix my past bills. I ask for a manager. I explain I have the number my complex gave me to call, it is the right number, I got transferred, and screwed. In that order. So then she says she'll "review the tapes" of my conversations and do some research and get back to me in about 48 hours. ONE WEEK later she calls and tells me this. And I'm not making it up. 'Your apartment management has an agreement with Direct Energy and the residents get a lower rate than the residential rate. However, your management did not renew the agreement with us until January 17th and because you signed up before that, you didn't get the reduced rate.' Are you KIDDING ME? I signed up on January 9th. So because of 8 days, it's not their problem, and nothing can be done about it. She even tells me, "I can't do anything about this, I know you are frustrated, you need to talk to your management office and see why they didn't sign an agreement earlier". And that would accomplish what sympathically futile Direct Energy employee? I asked her what she thought that would accomplish besides waste more of my time. She says, "I can't really tell you anymore than this, and we can't talk to your management office about it either." So, here's a summary of her weeks worth of "research". Even though we know you fall under our apartment agreement and see your address when you sign up, it's not our fault because you called the wrong number and decided to get heat and light for your family at just a bad time, I can't tell you anymore than that and this won't be discussed at all with your management, but if you want to be dumb and believe what's coming out of my mouth (but didn't originate there) then go ahead, and I'm so sorry, I can understand your frustration of having to deal with incompetent people who are sucking the very life out of your body with the energy bill." Or something thereabouts.

I off-handedly mention it to my office management about a week later, as in, "Can you believe they actually tried to pass that junk off on me?" And the management lady took up my cause and called her connection with Direct Energy who told her the agreement was signed January 4th. Well that just ticked me off. Don't know why, it's not like I thought Miss Maribel was telling the truth in the first place.

So I call again and ask to speak with someone over Maribel. I get a nice lady who puts me on hold after I explain all the junk Maribel made up in an effort to continue robbing us...She comes back with this. Rates are just higher in December and January when you signed up, you get the rate that is offered at the time you sign up. Nevermind that your neighbors could be paying half that---you get what you get, and we decide what that is. So sorry lady, you should have moved here 5 months earlier like your friends. I stopped our account with them. They should be selling poop instead of energy, they are much better at that.

I thought it was done.
We got a bill yesterday. HALF, I repeat HALF the amount of last month's bill, less than HALF the usage, and 1 cent per kwh HIGHER than the last month. Not only do I get a higher rate than my neighbors, who's bill never changes, mine can change to go higher. What in the heck happened? For all you people out there that are math challenged like me, there's a golden opportunity of employment waiting for you at Direct Energy. Probably even management. You need to be able to make up outrageous explanations for why you can't do math though, so maybe just bad math won't cut it.

Probably the most frustrating thing about all of this is when I ask WHY---not one single person will respond with even the slightest effort of an accurate answer.But I got a lot of "sympathy." I might try that method sometime. Sucker punch someone in the face and then stand around telling them how sorry I am for their pain and blood loss.

I gotta go rescue Avee from her self-made booby trap between the couch and side table.

Sunday, April 2, 2006


Avee ate: a handful of Honey Nut Chex, a handful of Apple Jacks, 5 oz of milk, about 3 ounces of water, and 3 ENTIRE eggs.
Avee weighs 18 pounds (What Ben weighed at about 8 months)
Bo ate: 3 and a half Apple Jacks and 1 and a half whites of hard boiled eggs.
Bo weighs more than our 4 year old neighbor.

Breakfast conversation:
Bo: bootie, bootie. boooootie!
Mom: Ben don't say bootie
Bo: You say bootie?
Mom: No, I don't say bootie and I don't want you to say it either.
Bo: "B" (neighbor kid) says bootie?
Mom: He might say bootie, but we don't say it in this house.
Bo: Then I can say it at B's house?

Saturday, April 1, 2006


So, I got this in an email from my mom: "I tried to 'educate' myself and looked up 'blog' in the dictionary.....not there" and " I didn't know what a 'blog' was......I've read one now, but, could you also clarify where they go, and what it means, etc". You're never too old to get good advice from your mom, right?

Well, for all you 70-year-old, internet savvy people out there who don't know what a blog is a "web-log". I knew the gist of what blogs contained but learned the origins of the word from my husband after casually flinging "blog this, blog that" about in conversation with a friend.

She said, "What does blog mean?" and I responded with a blank stare. J answered for me. Saved me!

I just reread the quoted line of my mom's email---she asked me to clarify "where they go".That's hilarious, I must have missed that. I guess that depends on just how you feel about me or what I've written. For you mom, straight to the heart. I am using this venue of a WEB LOG as a sort of update on our comings and goings---as they are noteworthy, Bo and Avee's growth and anecdotes, and my own contemplations.

J started a blog, and you all probably thought I was joking about the peak oil stuff---I wasn't. Check it out if you'd like.

So, are you wondering about my title? It's not my favorite color, it's not how I feel when J's out of town and I'm alone at night, it's not even my second favorite color.

J has been out of town for 6 days. As I was driving Bo to Chuck E. Cheese (just a side-note, until today I thought it was Chucky Cheese) this morning for a birthday party, and getting him all psyched up for it, he squealed when we pulled into the parking lot, "Will daddy be at the party?!" Even with the helicopter ride, tunnels to climb through, twisty-slide, unlimited ski-ball, pizza and soda, and the $15 roll of Smarties we "earned" with our tickets, I am certain, being with daddy instead would have been an even better morning for Bo.

Bo is doing so well with his absence, Avee not as well, and me the worst. I hesitate to admit stuff like that because I really should be better at this than I am, and second, I don't want to make J feel bad about doing what he does to bring home the jr bacon cheeseburgers. But it is what it is, I love being with J and love getting breaks from the kids almost as much.

When I was about 11 or 12 I used to tune in regularly to the Saturday night country music request lines on the radio. It was around that time that I got turned onto the song, "The Yellow Rose of Texas". My mom had taught it to us when we were younger (her version was definitely based on the traditional version, not the country one referring to "doing hard time"). I was probably just astounded when I heard it being sang with twang on the radio. What I didn't know was that I might have been the only listener within about 500 miles (we were about that far from Texas) that wanted to hear it more than once every six months.

One Sunday afternoon was an all request day and my younger brother and I spent the entire afternoon trying to call in to make our request. We got in and made our request and sat by the radio waiting anxiously. 15 minutes would pass and NOTHING. They'd play 3-4 songs and go to commercial. So we called in again. The man said he'd play it. 30 minutes passed, and still nothing.

We were very busy 11 and 12 year old children, we didn't have time to wait for every other request to be made. So we called in again. I remember very clearly, being certain that it wouldn't matter if we kept calling in---surely in the large listening area we were calling from, there were other people calling in to hear Yellow Rose of Texas. It never, ever occurred to me that might not be the case. And it certainly never occurred to me that I sounded 12!

So, when we called in the 3rd time, feeling incognito through the phone, the request-taker/DJ yelled, "You STOP calling me, I got it the first time, I'm not going to play it at all if you don't stop calling here!" We were stunned. How did he know it was us? I don't think he ever played the song---but it might not have mattered---I think we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how he knew it was us every time.

When I was in junior high I decided that yellow roses were my favorite flowers. I decided pretty early on, and made it a well-known fact among my circles of friends. I believed in covering my bases because if my oh-so-romantic, would-be boyfriend ever wanted to surprise me on the 3-week anniversary of the first time we ever stood in front of our lockers holding hands and were late for class, he'd just have to ask one of my friends and they could say without having to think, "She loves yellow roses". I also loved the roses my dad grew in our yard, particularly the yellows, touched with orange. And I read somewhere that yellow rose was the flower of friendship and I loved that idea.

When I was on my mission, I served with a senior couple that I absolutely adored. They had a daughter with my same name and they nicknamed me their "Yellow Nobody". I loved it. It was a tender nickname referring to me being an out-going "yellow" as described by the color code personality test. Yellows are fun-loving, out-going, crave attention, social, forgetful, obnoxious, and irresponsible. I'm only about half of those...

It was a loving nickname, but I would often think, "I'm not really a yellow though, I just seem like it." when I later took the test---I was equal parts yellow, blue, and white, and not ONE IOTA RED. Yep, that's me. A red-less redhead.

I believe those results. If I had red in me, I wouldn't have a huge pile of laundry sitting behind me in the hallway, having been there for two weeks, as I happily blog. I'd be going to bed on clean sheets. My kids would have been bathed before going to bed tonight. The presents I took to the two birthday parties today would have been taped with scotch tape and not shipping tape. I would have clipped the stems when I changed the water of the bouquet of flowers I have because the directions told me to. There are so many things I would be or would have done, if I just had the slightest bit of red in me.

Well, tonight as I was driving home from birthday party number two (Build-a-Bear with twelve 3-year-olds, aka Hell on a Saturday Night) and sitting in traffic (Because North Dallas has the most amazing shopping malls but not so amazing roads leading to them), "The Yellow Rose of Texas" came on the radio. My mind flooded with memories and I blared it. Yes, there were two children in the backseat, one bellowing along and the other yelling, "Softly mom, softly". I had the windows down and for a second I thought to be sheepish--blaring old country, shamelessly like that, but then I realized I'M IN TEXAS. This is they're language! I am among friends! This realization only escalated the emotions of the moment. I sang along at the top of my lungs for every Texan within a 10 car radius of Preston and 121 to hear, "She's the diamond of the desert, She's the golden flower of spring, She's the yellow rose of Texas, She can make a man a king!" Oh yeah, that was a more than beautiful end to a helatious two hours at the mall with two babies on a crowded Saturday night.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

So Much Pressure To Be Amazing

One of J's favorite movie lines to quote is from the little neighbor boy in "The Incredibles" when Bob sort of snarls at him gawking in the driveway "Well, what are you waiting for!?" and the boy replies, "I dunno, something amazing I guess!"

I've been waiting for something amazing. I've wanted to start blogging for some time, but just felt so much pressure to have a perfect Blog name-er-title-er...whatever the proper blogging vernacular is. It's not amazing, but I'm ready, and it's real.

Why I chose Angels In My Rear View:
I wanted something perfect. I really wanted it to be clever or meaningful, or both. And all my thunking brought me nothing. I finally just stopped thinking about it and one day as I was putting the DVDs back on the DVD shelf for the 317th time that day--it literally just popped into my head.

It sort of made my heart skip a beat. So I started thinking about what it meant to me. What it means to me is this: I don't deny the presence of God in my life, and how He truly guides me everyday. What I do neglect to acknowledge and remember, particularly in the thick of it, is how very closely he is guiding me and protecting and providing. And then, 2 weeks down the road, 2 months, sometimes 2 years, I look back (as though in the rear view mirror of life) and see the angels that were surrounding me, and really are all the time.

I have very specific examples in my life that aren't profound or earth-shattering, but truly made my life so much more amazing and meaningful.

One of them was my first job out of college. I was so insecure on paper. I didn't feel like my resume with all my odd, short-term college jobs, would ever get me in the door. If they could just MEET me they'd know I was stellar. But faxing and mailing my resume into the unknown world of potential employer scrutiny was very hard on me. I clearly had too much self-confidence in my presence making the difference because after a personal interview for Southwest Airlines (yes, it was my greatest aspiration to work for barely over minimum wage after earning a Bachelor's degree---JUST so I could fly free) I never got a call back.

I was about 8 hours from having nowhere to sleep, driving a little pickup truck my brother loaned me, with all my earthly possessions in it, no money for gas, and panty hose with runs in them---when I faxed a resume in response to a small ad I saw in the paper. I wasn't even going to do it, but my cousin reminded me I had nothing to lose.

I couldn't breathe when they called me back because the resume had passed the initial scrutiny---if they were calling, they either didn't care about resumes and I was in---or they liked my resume, and I was SURE my personality could outshine it.

Well, turns out that Dawn (who called me to set up the interview) basically decided the job was mine, even before meeting me. She was describing the dress code and how to dress for the interview and said "business casual." She threw out a couple of disclaimers like, "it's not really dressy, but we don't wear jeans" and "don't worry too much, we're mostly casual here." For some unknown reason, I took that as my verbal cue to try and be funny and I said, "So, basically, I just need to shower, and I'll be okay?" I don't remember her laughing. In fact, I remember a loud silence. But apparently she thought it was very funny.

That job became my lifeline in every possible way. They were my family, they were my critics, and they were my support, my challenge, my life. I'm not being dramatic either. They got me out of the slums in which I naively found my first apartment. Not so much "got me out" as it was "nagged me relentlessly until I found another place that passed their specifications." They made fun of my white legs, took me to mass, made fun of my religion, smelled my lunch food, invited me to family functions, and took care of me in so many countless ways. I worked there until I had my first baby and they gave me everything I needed for his arrival.

Now, you tell me, how a lil' ol' lame-resume-bearing, middle-of-nowhere-coming-from, bachelors-in-psychology-earning girl lands a job at a law firm, with people like that? Please refer to blog title. I saw it myself, about a year after I started working there.

Okay, I really didn't mean to go on like that, but evidently this is very close to my heart. The OTHER aspect of this title came to me the next morning, around 5 am while I was laying in bed, waiting to see if the baby's squawks were real or if she was just yelling at Bo in her sleep. I thought about one of my favorite views---looking in my rear view mirror and seeing those precious little eyes looking back at me. Or lately, looking back and seeing Avee facing the back, and Bo facing forward, holding each other's hands. They truly are Angels in my Rear View, and I don't need hindsight to recognize it.