Archive for February, 2010

is there an echo in here?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

A couple of hours ago, Hattie came walking through our kitchen where I was putting away groceries.  Laura was right behind her.  Here was their dialogue:

Hattie:  “Mooooooommmmmmmmmm!”

Laura:  “Mooooooommmmmmmmmm!”

Hattie:  “Laura’s copying me.”

Laura:  “Laura’s copying me.”

Hattie:  “Stop it Laura!”

Laura:  “Stop it Laura!”

What did I do?  I laughed.  And laughed. And laughed.  I couldn’t help myself!  I already told you that I’m not a candidate for mother of the year.

What is it about annoying someone you love just because you can?  Why do we drive each other to the brink of insanity for the kick of it?  This time I was laughing out of relief that I wasn’t the victim.  I am the prey in the copy-everything-you-say game a lot at our house.  It started when Abigail was 3.  I don’t know where she heard it or how she thought of it but we went through a period of about a month when she loved that game.  She would follow me around the house like a little puppy and mimic every word I uttered.  I know why she loved it – she always got a great reaction from me.  This game is one of those things that frustrates me every time.  There’s no explanation – it scrambles my brain waves or something.  I’m sure it’s just payback from pestering my brothers when I was little.

When Hattie turned 3, she started following Abigail around echoing her every word.  Abigail was repaying for doing it to me.  Now it’s Hattie’s turn.  As with everything she does, Laura is relentless.  She waits until Hattie is happily playing or drawing and makes her move.  I can’t do anything to stop her and as frustrating as it is, the whole thing is pretty harmless.  When Laura has a 3 year old of her own, I’m sure there will be payback for the torture she is now unleashing on her sister.

Like most things in parenthood, this too shall pass.  Until then, we’ll just have to put up with the echo…


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Roe vs. Wade.  Brown vs. Board of Education.  Joe vs. the Volcano.  Anna Kate vs. Ivy.

As in, leafy green English ivy.  Ivy is such an oxymoron.  It is beautiful and delicate.  It flows gracefully from planters.  The variegated kind is especially beautiful with its mix of dark and light green.  Visually appealing.  But ivy, like kudzu and wisteria, has a deep dark secret.  It kills.  It sucks the life out of trees and plants.  It rips the paint off of your house.  It will even dig its way into mortar and cement.  It is evil.

Our house has a very nice yard.  It is beautifully landscaped with an array of lush southern foliage.  It was well maintained 12 – 15 years ago.  The base plants are still there but it is now overgrown and leggy.  And there is ivy everywhere.  It is on every tree, in every bush, and twisted around every branch in our yard.

I am on a mission.  When I am done, the ivy will be minimal and the plants will be free.

My father got me started about a month ago.  He is a master gardener and I am jealous.  My father can grow anything.  I hope to get there someday.  Anyway, we were walking through the back yard looking at the ivy roots on the base of the two big trees back there.  Before I could blink, he was hacking away at the roots.  This ivy had grown roots about 2 inches in diameter.  They had grown so far into the bark of the tree that it took all our strength to pry them off.  Luckily we got the roots severed so the ivy in the tree is starting to die.  Whew.  Trees saved.

This past weekend was our first bout of great weather since we moved here.  It was 65 degrees and sunny.  Prime yard work weather.  On Saturday, I headed out to the front yard in my grubby clothes to liberate the Japanese maple.  I pulled ivy for about 4 hours.  The ivy was wrapped around the base of the maple like that was its job.  I pulled and yanked and yelled and wrestled and grunted and wailed and moaned and gnashed my teeth.  Three leaf bags full of ivy and I was done.  Spent.  Over and out.

That was Saturday.  Today is Monday.  My back feels like someone beat me with a Louisville slugger.  My palms are sore.  My yard gloves have more epithelials than your local crime lab.  I walked to meet the bus and I’m sure the neighbors thought Igor was on the loose.  I’ve taken more Advil in the last 48 hours than I have in the last 4 – 8 years.

But that will not stop me.  I will win.  I will shut down the ivy operations.  I will save my yard.  It will be beautiful.  I might have to look at it lovingly through the windows from my traction set up in the living room but I WILL WIN!!!


Saturday, February 13th, 2010

There are several things that I have a love/hate relationship with.  The dishwasher.  I love to load it up to the max.  I love how clean it gets my dishes.  I hate unloading it.  Always have.  I love where we live but I hate how far we are from our family.  I love dogs.  I hate dog breath and scooping poop.  It’s just part of life.  You’re not going to love everything.  Trade-offs come with being human.

Today, my focus is on my relationship with a bunk bed.  When I was pregnant with Laura, we moved Hattie out of the nursery and into Abigail’s room.  We bought a bunk bed because that room was too small for two twin beds.  Let me rephrase.  If we had put two twin beds in that room, we couldn’t have fit anything else.  So, Abigail “graduated” to the top bunk.  Hattie moved from her crib into the bottom bunk and never looked back.  We have moved those bunk beds three times and they are still in good shape.  They have storage drawers underneath.  As a result of having bunk beds, the girls have a large amount of clear space in their room.  If you don’t have little girls, I’ll tell you that space is a good thing.  Little girls need room for twirling and puzzles and all of that girl paraphernalia.  (I know boys need space too but I wouldn’t know how to elaborate on that!)  It also gives them their own nook that no one else bothers.

All sounds great, right?  Wrong.  Ever tried to change the sheets on a bunk bed?  We just finished tucking in clean sheets, blankets and comforters on the girls’ beds.  Robert and I are both out of breath and exhausted.  The tucking of the covers involves Robert on the lower bed pushing the top mattress up from underneath.  I am on a stool doing the actual tucking.  It is not easy, graceful, elegant or even attractive to watch.  We struggle like we’re trying to shove a sleeping bag into a tube sock.

Maybe it’s our fault.  We bought the thicker mattresses.  Are we being punished for extravagance?  We even tried not tucking in the covers.  What happened?  Abigail couldn’t keep her feet covered, got cold and ended up in bed with us.  That is NOT an option.

So we are left to the tucking ritual.  It’s not fun but it works.  It’s still better than scooping poop!  🙂

snow at last…

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

It’s Friday afternoon and it’s snowing.  All cities around us have already had snow.  All of my friends have been inundated with it this year.  My extended family has suffered through feet upon feet of snow, ice and power outages.  But for us, this is our first snow of the season.  As usual, we live in an area that is on the edge.  You know that line on the radar where white changes to green?  That’s where we live.  When others are getting beautiful snow, we are getting freezing cold wind and rain.  Misery.  I know that many people have had it with the snow this year.  I understand completely.  But as I said before, this is the first time we’ve seen any flakes!  Somehow, the snow gods smiled upon us today and we should actually have enough accumulation to make a snowman tomorrow.  Hallelujah!

A little while ago, I put on my long coat, heated up my mug of tea and stepped out onto the porch for a few moments.  I was instantly calmed.  A smile appeared.  All of the usual noises had been dampened by the snow.  The birds that were in the yard earlier had found their nests and bedded down for the night.  No one was driving on our street.  It was quiet.  A blanket of white had enveloped our neighborhood.  Everything looked clean and fresh.

Nine years ago, I was pregnant with Abigail.  In April of that year, Robert and I went on our last ‘there’s only 2 of us’ trip.  I was five months along in my pregnancy and feeling good so we packed up and headed to Yosemite.  When we got there, the weather was nasty.  Cold, raining and cloudy.  It stayed that way for three days.  Amateur photographer Robert was not thrilled.  We couldn’t see the top of anything.  I’m not ashamed to admit that we were disappointed.

On the last afternoon, it began to snow.  We had dinner in the main lodge where we were staying and headed to our cabin for our last night in Yosemite.  We sat outside and listened to the snow fall.  It was a sound like no other.  One snowflake finding its resting place doesn’t make much sound but the millions of large wet snowflakes falling sounded like a symphony.  The sky was a deep cobalt blue.  It snowed 18 inches that night.  The next morning we headed down the un-plowed road back towards the park.  The snow was brilliant and glittering white in the morning sun.  It was gorgeous.  We were in heaven.  We took one last lap around the park and finally saw all of the grandiose beauty of the mountains.

Tonight as I watch the snow fall through the living room windows, I am reminded of that trip to Yosemite.  It was a wonder filled time in our lives.  Now our children are the wide eyed ones watching through the window as the snow covers their world.  Tomorrow morning, in a flurry of boots and scarves, we will explore the snow as a family.  I can’t wait!

El Capitan


Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Oh boy.  We’ve done it now.  We’ve gone and spoiled the children.  Again…..

Last weekend it was cold.  REALLY cold.  We turned on our gas fireplace and stayed inside.  As a special treat, I made hot chocolate from scratch.  I used the recipe on the box of Hershey’s cocoa.  Holy Toledo, it is GOOD.  I’ve had this once before as an adult (I’m sure I had it as a child but I don’t remember).  Last New Year’s, we were visiting our friends Mark and Lara.  We had just come in from a walk in the cold wind and Mark whipped up a batch of this cocoa.  Granted, I am a confessed chocoholic but this was above and beyond.  Of course the girls LOVE it.

This morning, Robert made fancy french toast for the girls for breakfast.  We had some leftover french bread that we let sit out overnight.  He made batter with eggs, cream, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla.  Once again it was fabulous.  The girls ate it like it was their last supper.

We try our best not to spoil our children.  We occasionally go overboard with birthdays and Christmas but in our day to day lives, we do not give them everything they want.  We do not buy toys.  What toys they have, they must share with each other.  Robert does not bring back gifts every time he goes out of town.  We help the girls with their manners.  We do not order from TV commercials.  We usually have at least one item on the dinner plate that someone doesn’t like (not on purpose, mind you).  We do not go out to eat regularly.  We lead a pretty simple life.

There’s a point around here somewhere….

My point is that if we take a few extra minutes to make something yummy from scratch or warm towels after bath time, are we really spoiling them?  We make sure that they know how fortunate they are to have family that loves them, food on the table, clothes on their back and a roof over their heads.  They know that many children in the world have none of those things.  That’s good parenting, right?

You know, that cocoa recipe makes way more than the girls can drink…we might just have to have some this afternoon!  Yum!

sometimes you gotta have faith…

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Earlier today our middle daughter, Hattie, had an outpatient procedure to put tubes in her ears and remove her adenoids.  In the grand scheme of things it was not a big deal.  We have been through this twice before.  Hattie had her first set of tubes 3 weeks after her 1st birthday.  Laura got tubes less than a year ago.  Hattie breezed through and is already feeling and hearing better.  No biggie.  Our past experiences made today much easier for us as parents.  This wasn’t the case when Laura got her pacemaker two years ago.

As many of you know, Laura was born with 3rd degree heart block.  In lay terms, it is an electrical problem.  The top and bottom halves of her heart do not communicate with each other about what her heart rate should be.  She will have a pacemaker to correct this problem for the rest of her life.  (I know that I am being overly simplistic.  It’s easier for writer and reader alike, I promise!)

As parents, we have a heavy burden.  There is a lot involved with raising children.  It is an enormous responsibility to be “in charge” of the life of a child.  In our house of girls there is a lot of drama and a lot of cleaning up – both physically and otherwise.  Robert and I have gotten pretty good at managing the chaos.  Some days are better than others and some days we’d rather forget altogether.  But for the most part we’re successful…and busy.

When it was time for Laura’s surgery, we felt helpless.  In all the things that needed to be done, the only thing we could do was get her to the hospital on time.  Everything else was out of our hands.  We handed over our 13 month old baby and were forced to put our trust in the staff of doctors and nurses.  We had to have faith.  In modern medicine.  In others.  In whatever is out there that is bigger than we are.  In the unknown.  In our daughter.  In ourselves.  It was not easy but we survived.  Laura is doing great.  She is a stellar patient and has amazed more than one cardiologist.

This morning when the nurse came to wheel Hattie back to the OR for her procedure, Hattie flashed me a smile and a little wave as she rolled down the hall towards the big double doors.  I got that all too familiar feeling.  There is some cliche involving heartstrings…it felt like a little tug.  Once again, I was reminded of my deep and unending love for this little girl.  And I had to have a little faith….

Hattie and Dr. Hellstrom