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.