Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You're Beautiful

"You're beautiful" gets thrown around a lot, but maybe sometimes not enough.  I have been told this throughout my life, and to be honest, I really have never believed it.  It's so easy to tell our friends they're beautiful, and we genuinely mean it.  So how come we can't do the same for ourselves?

I look back on pictures of myself and remember that at the time I was so self conscious, felt like I was too fat, my hair was not right, etc... only to think in the present how I'd chop off my right arm to look that fantastic again.  I have vivid memories of grade school, of being jealous of the girls that wore a particular kind of pants, because my body shape didn't so much lend itself to them looking quite the same on me.  I wished that the bulkiness residing between my hips and my knees would just melt away so I could be "normal".  Normal.  What was I thinking???  I was totally normal, and if I ever for one second could fathom thinking those thoughts about any little girl today I would kick my own ass.

As much jealousy I felt for those girls, I never once looked down on or judged or thought less-pretty the ones that were bigger than me.  They were just as beautiful, but I saw them for WHO they were, usually more friendly to me and with laughter and smiles their eyes would dance.  I thought they shone, but still found a way to let my self-perceived faults get under my skin.

Being told I was pretty or beautiful has always made me uncomfortable and a little annoyed at times because I felt I had more to offer than vanity.  I also never believed it, brushing off a compliment to embrace a different theory, like he must be trying to get in my pants or she must have a sinister motive, or she's my friend and is just trying to make me feel better.  Hair coiffed and full makeup made me seem stuck up, self-centered, unapproachable to some.  For me, though, it was just a mask to hide the self-conscious girl who thought she wasn't pretty, wasn't good enough.  Everyone knew back then that the bigger your hair was, the smaller your butt would the perms and the hairspray and control top pantyhose were constant - thank you '80s.  No wonder the beauty industry will never tank no matter the state of our economy.

I have one friend in particular who really is one of the most beautiful people I know.  I have never seen an unflattering picture of her.  She literally looks like an angel and she always has.  She has struggled with her weight issues for a good part of her life, but still radiates this unexplainable light.  I remember her making a disparaging remark about her less favorite body parts and I physically felt like someone stabbed me in the heart.  It crushed me to hear her talk that way about herself, to know that she felt that way when I thought she was absolutely perfect.  I've also had a few gal-pals throughout life that will call me on it when I do that.  They'll say "don't you dare talk about my friend like that".  It's pretty effective in snapping you out of it.

Then there's my boys, who will grab me by the cheeks, get in my face, and say "Mommy, you are so pretty".  It's easy to pass that off as less than expert opinion because they also think Daddy is Superman and that I have special powers because I know how to make tomato soup out of a can.  Kids are right and honest though, particularly when they don't filter what their hearts feel.  Mine say this mostly when I'm laying in bed in sweatpants and hair a mess.  They don't get all impressed with silly things like lipstick or hairspray.

And so to all the girls in my life: I think you are unbelievably beautiful, each and every one of you.  You are all so unique in yourselves, in your relationship with me, and I'm so thankful for the bonds we have shared.  Go on with the hair color, the eyeshadow, the wrinkle creams, whatever it takes to make you feel good (and not like a crazy homeless woman like I feel on a bad hair day)...but please be as kind to yourself as you would your best friend.

To the boys: Thank you for the compliments, it must have taken some amount of courage to say it.  I will take the comments under consideration with more seriousness, and make sure that my kids continue feeling comfortable saying may come in handy for them someday...I just hope whomever is on the receiving end believes them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

May the Force(d Christmas Spirit) Be with You

Let me start by saying I really hope everyone was able to experience this holiday season at least a little bit through the eyes of a child.  No matter how your feelings shake out about it, it's near impossible to ignore the magical, mystical wonder that comes with little ones who get so excited, so filled with electric anticipation that they very well could power up all the Christmas lights if you could harness and redirect the power.

Secondly, I must acknowledge it's been since Halloween that I've gotten any thoughts out here.  Thanksgiving came and went and then we all know how the downhill slide to December 25th goes.  I'm a busy mom, a busy wife, a busy daughter....and I've neglected to take the time to get here and have my say.  I did, however, get all my Christmas cards out in time - score one for me.

This holiday season, my goal was to ignore the things that typically bring me down, the crazed shoppers and their less-than-courteous attitudes, the people in my life who have chronically disappointed me, the cold that makes my prematurely arthritic joints feel as though they'll surely snap in two.  Instead, I tried not to go into any stores when I was crunched for time, electing to go when I could be leisurely relaxed about spending extra minutes in the checkout lines, feathers not ruffled over the top-heavy carts ahead of me nor the inexperienced checkers who were just trying to earn some extra money during a difficult time of year for some.  I took the time to bundle myself as well as I did my kids, to make sure the cold wouldn't get to my bones as quickly as the days when I didn't bother paying attention to my own needs.  I repeatedly told myself that some relationships just won't ever work, and that instead of beating myself up trying to change for those people, that it really is them and not me with the issues.  It's way more important for me to focus attention on those who bring joy and love into my life than those who complicate it.

I thought this was especially important this year because the kids are getting to the age where they will pick up on and project my attitude.  I want both of them to be kind, tolerant, altruistic, and not let others dictate how they feel about themselves.  That's what we all want for our children, but I thought it hypocritical for me to live in the unfortunate reality of grown-upism and the harsh disappointments that come with it when all it takes is a shift in personal attitude to create the example you'd want others to set for your kids.

So I whole-heartedly did small things alone...I made sure I had at least some change for the bell ringers before heading to the store.  I put the groceries on the checkout belt for a gentleman in an electric scooter.  I bought a gift for my husband that I knew he really wanted, even though it wasn't something I would have given him.  I tried very hard to force myself to do things to remind myself it's not all about me.  Once I felt the joy that always brings, the happiness from an unreciprocated act, I knew I could pass the lesson onto the boys with more confidence.

I told them we were going somewhere special.  Immediately the quizzing began.


"Ehhh, not exactly.  We're going to the store, and you can buy anything you want for anyone you want except yourself."

They quickly turned to each other and started whispering.

"Okay, you buy something for me, and I'll buy something for you, but I'm going to tell you what I want."

"NO!  That's not the way this works.  We are NOT buying anything for anyone who is in this car right now."

"Darn it.  I don't want to go then."

All through the dollar store we trudged, and as the toys filed into the cart, their attitudes became lighter.  Their selections were hilarious as they began to focus on purposeful reasons for picking what they picked.  Sixteen dollars plus tax later, we were on our way home.  They wondered what they'd get in return for these gifts they were giving.

"You aren't going to get anything from them.  It's like if we bought a bag of dog food and took it to the animal shelter for those doggies who don't have families.  Those doggies can't give you anything back, but it would still make your heart feel good."

Later that night, every time Esten looked at me he would start crying.  I was annoyed thinking he was letting his selfishness get the better of him.  I finally got out of him what the problem was.

"I'm just so sad for those doggies that don't have families or a home!"

Praise the Lord.  He finally got it, kind of.  I didn't mean for his sensitive side to take such a blow though.  He eventually got over it, and a few days later we began wrapping.  They were in charge of putting bows on and putting the gifts under the tree.  Once they were into the process, the bubbles of anticipation and satisfaction of wanting to give were coming to the surface.  When the time came, we loaded up all the gifts and took them to the family gathering spot where all the recipients would be.  Before the other gifts were given, my boys passed out their offerings to those they selected....all their cousins, one auntie, and one uncle.  The other aunties and uncles were prepped and properly braced for the disappointment of not being on the list.  The kids opened up those gifts, one by one, and the smiles on my boys' faces grew with each as they eagerly explained why they picked that present for that cousin.  It was one of the best parts of the holiday, and my heart felt amazing that I was able to give that "gift" to my children.  To shift their focus even briefly from the greediness that inherently comes with this time of year was a feat I wasn't sure would happen, but I'm so thankful it did.

Of course if you ask them about the best part, they'll say it was the DS that Santa brought each of them.  And that's okay, because I won't be waiting until next Christmas to repeat the exercise in giving, I'll try to make it a habit that lasts all year.  It feels so fantastic and you know, it's all about me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Walmart: Where the Magic Happens

Rare is the occasion where I get to slip into Walmart without my kids.  When I do, it's so much less painful in a sense, because I can skip the gnashing of teeth and wailing over refused toy purchases and who needs a spanking and who needs to go potty and who is pushing mommy over the edge.  Tonight was one of those times.  Times like this I am able to observe past the perimeter of my cart's personal space, if that exists, and make note of the, ah-hem...freak show that is going on there.  We all know it, we all see it, we're just sometimes too rushed to really soak it in.  So I'll share my experience, which really turned out to be heartwarmingly romantic.  Not in a Twilight kind of way (I guess I'm the only one who hasn't read the books or seen the movies) but in a full moon brings out the crazies in love kind of way...

So this couple strolls down the aisle like it's the red carpet at the Oscar's and I stop for a minute thinking I might be interrupting something important.  Mostly, I'm afraid someone might be taking their picture and I don't want to be in it accidentally and have it posted on the internet.  It's Homecoming in __________? (sorry I can't keep track, ask me 18 years ago) and they are dressed to kill.  I hear a little boy ask if they're getting married.  Cute.  They walk back by the electronics department where they part ways.  The boy, all dapper in his vest heads straight for the gaming console to test out some new game.  Typical.  The girl, I secretly hope, is going to buy condoms.  And sponges, and foam, and birthcontrol pills, and the morning after pill, and a coat hanger.  Times like these are when I really wish I could win the lottery.  To randomly help some poor girl like that out, to just follow her and offer her thirty grand to just walk away and go to the dance by herself because this tard just brought her to Walmart.  I want her to set her standards higher, to demand more than this because, frankly, this is how he's going to act when he's forty, except it won't be quite so cute, and she's going to have way more stretch marks than options.  I circle around the boy who has now met up with other boys who I guess all had some plan to meet up in their rented formal wear to hang out and take turns exchanging germs on the single controller there.  Don't they know that barfy-diarrhea stomach thing is going around?  They will tomorrow.  I wasn't really meaning to circle them like a vulture, but I was more like a bat, without glasses I could NOT figure out where I was in relation to what on earth I was going to get for the seven-year-old birthday girl whose party brought me to Hellmart in the first place.

I get half my stuff and run almost literally into a male nurse and a to be honest I am not really sure, might have been pirate girl or hooker or something, I am hoping they were on their way to a costume party but seemed a little bit early being the 23rd and all, but whatever.  I just suddenly felt reeeeeally dirty, like I had stumbled into their bedroom in the middle of some kinky role playing session, and I wanted to get out before they invited me to "stay and play".  I know he was a male nurse because his outfit said "Male Nurse" which was lucky because I would have probably confused him for an ER doctor or a Gynecologist so I'm glad he clarified.  I don't know what she was because it was honestly just fabricky stuff fashioned in an inappropriate manner even for Walmart given the temperature outside and her girth.  I'm not pointing fingers at the calorically challenged, because I fight that fight myself, but she was proud of whatever it was that she had.  It was clear, however, that they were excited and in love, and he was clearly going to use her outfit to his advantage tonight.  Good for him.  I think.  Ew.

Anywayyy, with my mental shopping list finally satisfied, complete with requisite wrapping supplies (i.e. gift bags) I made a beeline for the checkout that looked like it would have the shortest wait.  One couple behind one lady and they didn't have a lot of stuff.  Perfect.  Riiiight.

Normally, I am not one to notice what other people are buying.  I'm usually too consumed with whether I've forgotten anything myself and/or whether my kids have added anything to the cart without my knowledge.  But this wasn't fair.  These two forced me to look.

"Why didn't you get the Walmart brand of tooth glue?  That crap's expensive."

So now I have to look at the "tooth glue".  Poligrip.  Okay.  And then the other stuff.  I can't help it.  Baby formula, marshmallows, generic soda, red and black thong underwear, and a case of clay shooting targets.  Hmmm, just the basics tonight I guess.

"Because Sheila don't like the Walmart brand, she says it don't keep her dentures in good when she eats hot wings."

"Hot wings like hot like they melt the glue or hot wings like spicy Mexicans?"

"I don't KNOW!  It don't matter anyway, just shut up."

"Oh ________ Sheila.  I never liked her anyway".

"You liked her Thanksgiving when you had sex with her after the rest of us all passed out."

"Oh yeah, I did.  Well are you gonna get all mad if that happens again, because I'm not real sure I can say it won't."

"Hell yeah I'm gonna get mad if I find out, you need to get better at having an affair with my sister if you don't want to end up on Jerry Springer you idiot."

"Hey Baby, at least I saved all that money reloadin' my shells and got you them fancy panties there, huh?  Huh?  Huh?"

"Ooh, yeah.  I love you baby."

"I love you too baby."

Then they kissed.  With tongue.  And I threw up in my mouth a little and vowed to try harder to do my shopping at Shopko next time.  And I'm taking my kids with me for distraction, because frankly I can't handle knowing this much about other people.  I need a shower.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fashionistically Challenged

On my way to work today I passed by a group of Jr. High schoolers walking up the sidewalk in a pack, clearly on an "official" mission, complete with teacher bringing up the rear.  They were lumbering along in typical teenager lackadaisical style, obviously unmotivated at such an early hour.  As I got closer my brain got confuseder and confuseder about their attire.  I seriously could not figure out if they were purposely dressed in pseudo-costume for some spirit week day I clearly missed in my days, or whether it was simply the fact that I'm officially old and those were the outfits that they hoped to define themselves in all their individuality, their youth, their clear lack of parental presence during their morning dressing routine.

I'm not joking, not even a little.  I am clearly so out of touch with today's youth, save for the two mini-me's that rule our castle and the pack of cousins that thus far, we as an extended family have banded together to forcefully control by showering them at all birthdays and Christmases with "normal" outfits from Old Navy like God intended.  Probably the most out there is Dylan, who inherited his Uncle Jake's label whore gene and who we only ever see dripping in DC clothing head to toe (literally, hat to slippers).

This is not to say my kids don't look like ragamuffins the majority of the time, because let's face it, they do.  They're big into dressing themselves, and after all the consecutive time I've clocked with the diapers, socks, shirts, pants assembly line I'm all for their independence in that area.  Their choices don't always "go", but hey, where does Clayton have to be that's so important he can't have on a pink and white striped polo with BSU blue and orange sweats?  I don't think Dora or Diego give a rat's how he looks hanging out on the couch really.  Now, if he's in Jr. High and still dressing like that we're going to have a serious talk.  Or not, depending on whether it's effective in keeping the girls away.  It is my ultimate goal to keep these two single and supporting their mother well into her old age, you know.

Nonetheless, my mind still reeling from those outfits, those...whatever they were...made me distinctly remember when my mom had a huge problem with something I was going to wear to Jr. High one day.  Brace yourself.  I had taken the laces out of my white Keds.  I was going to wear my Keds to school with no laces, because that was pretty cool to do at the time, and to be honest, my freakishly high arches love high heels, but not so much shoelaces strapped over top of them like a prime rib.  She took one look and said absolutely not was I going to school "like that".  Like that.  Hmmmm.  I guess I have her to thank for stopping me at the shoe laces, because judging from what I saw today, who knows what I would have dared to wear had she not put her foot down when she did.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fat Monkeys

So we recently became an official "Netflix" family, thanks to a trial offer.  We're more a "Hastings" kind of family anyway, but since we can also get instant movies via the Wii, we're doing it, and it's somewhat expanded my usual selection.  We typically rent whatever movie we intended to see in the theater but due to our lack of social life tend to miss before it's gone.  I've watched some films I'd otherwise pass by.  Today I, as any nerdy girl would do, curled up on the couch to watch National Geographic: Stress: Portrait of a Killer.  I'll save you the trouble and fill you in on the important parts.

Baboons and some other monkeys studied spend about 3 hours finding and consuming food for the day, leaving them the rest of their waking hours to simply: mess with each other in a more often than not mean-spirited way.

The illustrative clips equated in my mind with a typical day with pretty much any two or more children, including one of a clearly dominant bully trying to drown his lankier younger sibling.

The point of the studies was simply surrounding the idea that the hierarchy of status within the group determined the health factors of the population.  Those in positions of status were healthier, showing clearer arteries and lower blood pressure levels, and those in subordinate positions had clogged arteries, compromised immune systems, high cholesterol and actual spare tires.  Surprisingly, it was not because those lower-class baboons gathered at McDonald's to pound Big Macs while they chain smoked and did tequila shots.  It was simply because they spent the majority of their time stressed out because the more "important" baboons were busting their balls all day long.


They equated it with studies of people in England who work in the public-service sector over the course of 40 years, and found the same thing...those in higher positions tended to be healthier than working-class Joes.  Of course, even the HIGHEST of the positions they studied had jacked up teeth, which is a given for those Brits (not a point of the documentary, just my observation).

So how, then, can I explain my cholesterol levels when I was pretty much on the course of being a ball buster, not a ball bustee?  Apparently there's some busting going on in my life....could it be the two hooligans that I just spanked for the 47th time today for violating my cease and desist order on stairway-sleeping-bag-sledding?  Is it my concern that when I stick them in the tub in about 10 minutes one of them will inevitably try to drown the other?  Is it that when I get to work in the morning there might be a baboon in a suit (not naming any names) that will eat for 3 hours then have the rest of the day just to screw with the rest of us subordinates?  Will we scatter, asses in the air, attempting to escape the wrath?  Why can't someone just hold me and pick the lice out of my fur?

My plea to all:  Please stop busting my balls, I can't afford to take time off for a cardiac bypass right now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buckle your seatbelts, we're going to Hell

Without getting all religious or theological here, I really do have to share a recent experience.   If for nothing else than for you to learn from my mistakes, please pay attention.  There won't be a test, but someday you may find yourself saying "now what was that Heather said about...?"

When Hell was first created, most would argue that it was of God's doing to have a place to cast Satan when he was kicked out of Heaven. I disagree.  I believe Satan created Hell himself, since the first "version" of Hell was not quite right.  God would never have made a mistake like that.  It's now my belief, after this past week, that Satan created Hell, and his first attempt turned out too hot for his liking, so he tried again and created the Hell that we all know (or some of us will GET to know someday).  This "reject" version of Hell which scorched the tips of his horns he left alone and called it "Chattanooga".

Okay, so I'm's not JUST Chattanooga, but really all the places around Chattanooga within about a 2000 mile radius.

It doesn't help that I've packed on enough layers of blubber to keep an Eskimo family from fretting if the Ice Road Truckers can't bring their supplies before the road thaws for the spring.  But holy hotness Batman.  Supposedly the degree difference from home wasn't an issue, but the humidity was.  Whatever the case may be, my body wanted to shut down like it had too many shots at a frat party.  The thermostat set to a comfortable 67 degrees in my hotel room, my sweatiness would begin directly out of the shower.  I would just start drying myself off and couldn't get all the way done before I'd have to start over.  Then I'd spend the remainder of my regular hair/makeup routine alternating spots from the mirror to directly in front of the A/C.  The worst part of getting ready was squishing my clammy limbs into my clothes, which I reserved for the last possible moment before embarking out my freezer door to that jungle outside.  I put on SIX applications of Secret (guess it's no Secret anymore) before heading out, and began to think they really ought to start making that in full body lotion form.  I also started thinking a Depends Bra sounded like a pretty good idea.

So out the door and a short van ride later, we were in the coolness of a ginormous office complex where our training sessions were held.  We started at 8, worked through lunch, and ended at 6.  For anyone having to sit through a full day of training, it's torturous, but my days blew by fast since my fear was simply having to go back into that God-awful air again.  Men from this office were wearing suits, so the only logical explanation for it is that they were robots.  Robots with an extra coat of Rustoleum to keep the moisture from shorting out the circuit boards.

If any of my friends from home have an opportunity to visit that part of the country, I suggest a Christmas trip, since the views really were spectacular, so long as it was from the inside of a building.  Pack your own Pepsi. Coke is KING there, and even asking for a Pepsi will leave you wondering if you'll end up being gator bait.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More kids???

Our family finally received a long-awaited addition a week and a half ago.  His gender was to be a surprise to everyone, but it was much speculated about.  I asked the boys what they thought Auntie Sara was going to have, a boy or a girl, and what each of them thought a good name would be.

Esten:  "I think she's going to have a boy, and I think she should name him Gilbert."
Clayton:  "I think she's going to have a boy too, and I think she should name him Fluffy."

We talk about babies a lot around our family.  Between Jason and I and our siblings' families, we have made our parents grandparents again 9 times over in the past 8 years, and number 10 will be here before the year is out.  Someone has had a baby every year since 2002.  I'd like to take this opportunity to say regarding 2011, "NOT IT".

Esten is very vocal about feeling cheated out of something.  He's always complaining that other people "have more kids than we do".  Once, on a quick stop at the grocery store, we crossed paths on the way out with a family who had just poured out of a mini van.  Mom, dad, and 6 kids.  Esten scowled, pointed at them, and griped at me, "That is SO not fair!!  They have WAY more kids than we do.  How come WE can't have 6 kids and a mini van like THEM???  We only have TWO and that is not enough."

The mother and father both burst out laughing.  Maybe it was a rare moment where they actually felt sorry for someone else instead of the other way around.  There they were with their 6 little ducklings so quiet in a little line following their mommy, daddy bringing up the rear.  They really had their act together.  And there was me, with a measly little ragamuffin looking litter of unruly mouthy boys who refused to hold my hand to keep from getting flattened in the parking lot.  Esten's opinion spewing did not stop there.  Once strapped to his booster seat he let me have it with both barrels.

"Mom, we have to get some more kids....we just HAVE to."

"Where would they all sleep?  We don't have any room for more."

"Yeah we do, I'll sleep with Grandma, and Clayton can sleep with Grandpa so two of them, the other boys, they can sleep in our beds.  Then the other ones, the 6 girls can sleep in the play room, there's lots of room for bunk beds in there."

"Really?  Geez, how many kids would that be?"

"Oh, you're right, that's only 10.  We need 12."

"Clayton:  YEAH.  We need 12."

Seriously.  If 12 is the magic number, then 6 of them better be the ones from the grocery store parking lot.  They're already trained.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kindergarten, Schmindergarten!

Clayton is every bit as excited as Esten about this.

Esten picked out his own clothes-gotta look sharp if you're gonna pick out a girlfriend the first day.

I really AM excited, I was just kidding!
Kindergarten. Some of the best memories of your entire school life start there. This is the one teacher it's guaranteed you'll never forget. You'll be surprised when you're older and you find out she's retiring. You'll be surprised because you think she's about as old as anyone can be already, and shocked that she could still be teaching at 103. The best ones will track you down in high school to give you back a picture you colored for her.

So this morning the tables were finally turned. Instead of me huffing and puffing to get the boys to get the lead out, Esten was under my feet griping at me...."Hurry UUUUUP MOM! We're going to be late and I'll have to go to the Principal's office!!!!" Hm, excited much? Yes.

Esten has been beside himself about going into Kindergarten. This is serious business for a boy who thrives on any fact that solidifies his superiority over his little brother. It started way back in preschool for him last year when his teacher there explained that they would be (most of them) going to Kindergarten next fall. Once in the car, Esten cockily boasted, "I get to go to KENDRICK Garden next year and you don't get to, Clayton, because you're too little." Obviously he came up with that little word of his own since Auntie Angie lives in Kendrick and teaches Kindergarten, that MUST be what it's called. Phonetics aside, Clayton burst into tears. It's been an on again-off again backstabbing battle since then. Whenever Esten wants to get a good dig in, he'll just remind Clayton about the awesome bus ride he'll go on every day, just like Napoleon Dynamite.

Yes, Napoleon Dynamite. Without the pesky interjection of school in their little lives thus far, a goodly portion of their education comes right from where God intended...the television. While early on I could get away with Little Einsteins and Dora, they have added new "favorites" to their list, and now that Esten knows how to run the remote himself, anything that comes up on channels 170-176 are on his radar. Thanks to Napoleon, he told me he's okay with the school idea now, and that if he needs some chapstick or his tummy hurts there is a nurse at the school he can go talk to. Hmmm. Thanks, I guess...I hadn't thought of that. He also pointed out to me my lacking in the cooking department since we "never have any TOTS for dinner".

Sorry Honey, mommy is trying to control her cholesterol.

So day one of Kindergarten down. Many many more to go. Hopefully discussions of insect wings and primary colors and how to be a good friend will begin to choke out discussions about why it's not okay for him to throw an action figure out the back bus window on a string and drag it all the way to school.

Lord help us - especially since we'll be doing this with Clayton all over again next year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission

About a month ago Jason and I took two couple friends of ours on the boat for the Joan Jett concert.  They met us at the marina and loaded their stuff up while I was still in our truck trying to hold back a puke from a migraine.  It's usually my job to offload the boat into the water after Jason backs the trailer down, but since Brett was there, I got to just be a passenger and relax with everyone else.  This was NICE.

I noticed in one of the two wake/surfboard holders a wakeboard I had not met yet.  It was black with shiny chrome "stuff" on it.  Since Dustin has his own boat and Brett has been known to own such things even without a boat I asked which one of them it belonged to.  They both shot nervous looks at each other, then their wives joined in.  Finally one of them piped up, clearly annoyed with her hubs.

"He didn't TELL her?"

The boys knew they were caught, and immediately backpedaled with the whole I-told-him-he-should-have-told-you thing.  Jason was still parking the truck.

As he made his way down to the dock and onto the front of the boat sans flip-flops, everyone waited in silence for the bomb to drop.  Eventually one of the guys couldn't take it anymore.

"Dude, she knows.  She noticed like right away, I couldn't lie about it."

Jason has apparently learned quickly from my dad, the master of making purchases without any discussions or decision-making sessions with my mom.  I think his best one ever was rolling in the driveway with a backhoe.  Then he bought a trailer to put it on, then a full size construction dump truck to pull it.  He once tried to get Jason to buy a wood stove for the shop behind my back.  Jason wouldn't do it and Dad was annoyed.  Dad wanted so bad to buy the stove just to "force" him to do it, to stand up to me.  He told Jason it's always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  Funny thing is I don't really remember Dad or Jason asking for forgiveness on any deals.

This purchase was no exception.  No begging for forgiveness, only justification.  Something about an awesome deal and blah blah blah.  To be honest, he and his buddies were all trying at once to try to make me feel better about it so I don't even remember what all was said.  I actually wasn't even mad, but man it was fun to watch all three of them squirm.  When all was said and done, who can be upset over such a device that lets one's Prince Charming catch sweet sweet air like this:

...and keeps a smile on his face like this:


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good News/Bad News

Isn't it funny how when someone says they have good news and bad news, it's usually just bad news?

Esten came barreling down the stairs in his undies Friday night.  He casually walked along the back of the couch and said matter-of-factly, "OK guys, I have some good news and I have some bad news".  I have no idea where he has picked this phrase up, likely from Phineas and Ferb or King of the Hill for that matter.  After Jason and I exchanged confused and hesitant looks at each other Jason said, "Tell us the bad news first".

"The bad news is that one baby wipe is still in the toilet."

That didn't really seem like bad news, especially considering the baby wipes do NOT go in the toilet.  There might still be a chance to retrieve it.

"But the GOOD news is that ALL the other baby wipes went down."

We could not help but both break into gut-bomb laughter.  Esten was annoyed.


I tried to regain my composure.  "How many of the wipes went down?"

"Like ten or something."

BREATHE.  BREATHE.  It's going to be okay.  Needless to say, it took me and the plunger quite a while to undo the "good news" part of this dilemma.  In reality, it's probably at least partially the same conversation we would have had with a plumber, in the alternate universe where I actually call on professionals to bail us out of maintenance disasters.

"I have good news and I have bad news.  The good news is I can fix it.  The bad news is you're going to have to sell one or both of your kidneys on Craigslist to cover the repair bill."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friends are the family you pick for yourself

We just got back from yet another not nearly long enough visit with friends.  Jason's college buddy and his wife have 3 kids, two older and one younger than Esten and Clayton.  We try to get together at least twice a year, but this year we happened to cram both visits within about 3 weeks of each other.  As we reluctantly packed our bags for the 6 hour road trip home, I came to understand that friends, especially friends you want to call in sick just to spend another day with, are really the family you pick for yourself.

I grew up with an Uncle Bill who wasn't even related to us.  He was from one of probably the richest "old money" families in the Valley.  You'd never have known it to look at him though.  In 25 years I never saw him in anything but green Dickies work clothes, and those were typically dirty.  He never drove a new truck.  But every time he pulled in our driveway I would run through the yard squealing his name - "UNCLE BIIIIILL!!"  He always had a huge smile and candy for me.  When I was five he showed up with a puppy.  Half poodle, half terrier, he claimed to have found it wandering in a ditch around one of his properties and said it was for me.  The happy expression on my face was balanced out by the cringe on Dad's.  We were not really a "dog" family.  Cats were fine, so long as they stayed outside to do their mousing around the barns.  Dogs?  I never really asked because I think I knew better.  Taffy didn't make it through the first winter and was the first and last dog I ever had.

Bill and his wife vacationed in Hawaii one year and returned with a real grass skirt and an ivory necklace for me.  Ivory - before it was banned.  The grass skirt won me the "most Hawaiian" contest at the Omark Summer Picnic - two passes to the Hydrotube and a bottle of suntan lotion (not sunscreen, dark tanning lotion).  I was stoked.

Through the years and even after Bill passed away, I knew that there was a reason Dad had introduced him to me as Uncle Bill.  Dad and Bill were such good friends that Dad considered him as he would a brother and wanted to pass that respect for their relationship on to me.

Since the boys were babies, I have done the same with some of our friends.  Esten and Clayton have a few Aunties and Uncles that share no blood whatsoever with me or Jason.  It's only been recently that it's become a source of confusion for them, as Esten is now making more sense out of familial connections.  First was the heartache over why he couldn't marry Kenadie.  Can't marry your cousin (in Idaho - lol).  That got all turned around for him when he decided then he also could not marry Lauren.  I explained that he could if she would ever say yes, because they are not really cousins.  I thought the explanation about how Uncle Scot is not really Daddy's brother would upset him, like we've been lying to him this whole time or something, but he surprised me.

"Oh, so Daddy just picked Uncle Scot to be his brother because he loved him even though they didn't have bunk beds together when they were little boys?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that", I said.  Apparently he fully understood that concept quite easily.  I can't wait to see who all ends up in my kids' "family" someday.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vampires are so trendy now!!

The boys are WHITE.  So white, in fact, that my cousin once asked if they were "a little bit albino or something".  They do both have a creepy vein or two on their faces and heads that shows a little too clearly through the flesh.  But hey, isn't it cool right now to be a vampire?  These hot days have required more than a dollop of sunscreen, and luckily they're pretty used to the routine.  They assume the position like they're preparing for a prison pat down.

When Clayton was first born, we went to have a second big round of pictures done by the same photog that took Esten's.  He stopped after a few pics and said, "Hey, don't take this the wrong way, but I have never seen two babies that are so, like Aryan-Nazi looking.  It's like you two are trying to preserve the race or something".  Yeah, we won't take that the wrong way at all.

Even the older generation weighed in on their almost freakish paleness.  My Aunt Ruby was ecstatic when she found out both times we were expecting.  "That's fantastic," she would say, "you know, the Norwegians are going extinct because there's just not enough of them to go around and with them not having big families to run the farms anymore, the young ones travel to other countries like Spain and Italy, and we're losing all the blond people".  For perspective, Aunt Ruby also let me know that they didn't HAVE binkies when her babies were born, they just let them chew on a chicken bone or a corn cob.

DISCLAIMER:  Jason and I are not racists, have no affiliation with any sort of neo-anything groups, and just by happenstance we live in North Idaho.  That's it. I did not set out on a search to find some fella who was from the next farm over.  I did, however, hear angels singing the first time I laid eyes on him.  I've only had that love at first sight two other times.  Both were in Gritman's maternity ward. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Million Dollar Check

There's a special place in Hell for people who take advantage of children or the elderly.  This morning we got a call, clearly from Nigeria, and the, ah-hem, "gentleman" asked if my dad was home.  Not in the way like that he thought I was a little girl, but he specifically asked for him by name.  When I hesitated he asked whether he had the wrong number or he had just called at the wrong time.  I told him my dad just wasn't there (he was sitting at the table looking right at me).  Since I couldn't make out his name, I'll just call him Shaka Zulu for our purposes here:

Shaka Zulu:  "Well, I'm calling from the cancellation department.  Mr. Watkins did not return our call in the allotted time, so we are going to proceed with the cancelling of his check."
Me:  "His CHECK?  WHAT check?"
Zulu:  "His five million dollar check.  When we spoke to him last, he promised to return our call.  He has not done that, so the IRS is forcing us by their regulations to cancel the check, unless he would like us not to cancel the check."
Me:  "So you were going to send him a five million dollar check but since he didn't call you back now you're going to cancel it?"
Zulu:  "That is correct, unless you can speak on his behalf to reverse our cancellation.  It was VERY important that he return our call and he did not."
Me:  "Oh, that's because he's got so much money he doesn't know what to do with it all.  Yeah, just go ahead and rip that check up.  He doesn't need it."
Zulu:  "Uhhhhhh.....okaaaaay?  Well please let him know he will receive one additional call this day from the cancellation processing department so he will have one more chance to change his mind."
Me:  "Oh, don't bother, he won't be here, he's out on the yacht."

I told my mom about it, and she just laughed it off.  She's tired of them too, so I told her I was going to start telling them that mom and dad are both dead.  That's the only way to get off the list.  She didn't even flinch, she just said she's going to start telling them the same thing, pretending she's someone else.

The irony of the whole thing?  My mom has been humped over her sewing machine for weeks pounding out school bags to fill with supplies.  She has spent every Saturday at yard sales scooping up baby clothes by the bag full, dragging them home and gently bleaching out the squash stains.  She has dulled the blades of her scissors cutting endless hourglass shapes out of flannel sheets and run her serger ragged to make cloth diapers.  Every Thursday she unlocks the church door for the quilting ladies and stays until the last one leaves.  I will be helping her count out the cases of notebooks she'll haul home from Walmart when they're 10 cents a piece.  All this work to send these things to Zulu's country to make life a little easier.  Zulu's cousin has pencils and her own bag for school.  Zulu's brother's kid doesn't have his little wienerschnitzel hanging out anymore in the "Save the Children" commercials.  Zulu's grandma has a warm blanket at night.

Screw you, Zulu.  We're done.  You don't need one of my mom's quilts where you're going.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Permissive Parental Deception

We are liars.  Total liar-liar-pants-on-fires.  As parents, we lie to our kids CONSTANTLY, but hope that they'll be open and honest with us in return.  We do it because they have questions we can't answer and we don't want to look stupid.  We want them to think we know everything.  When these two yahoos hit their teens we are going to be paid back tenfold for the B.S. we try to feed them on a daily basis.  The boys and I had our 6 month visit to the dentist yesterday.  Esten wasn't super excited, except to get to pick a toy from the treasure chest.  Said toys don't survive long around our place, as Jason and I are both continually on the lookout for junky/broken toys to toss behind their backs.  Clayton wasn't so sure that even the prospect of a toy was enough to warrant letting "dat guy" poke around in his mouth again.  And so began my weaving of the tapestry of lies surrounding their pearly whites...

Esten, being ever alert to what is going on with his cousins, has been oh so excited that he finally has a loose tooth.  London and Hannah have already gotten those coveted visits by the Tooth Fairy.  This introduction to someone who delivers money right to your bed is, well, let's just say Esten's going to be an old man with a fat bank account someday.  He is OBSESSED with money.

So in trying to explain how important the dentist's role is in how Esten's financial future would pan out, I explained that the Tooth Fairy will only pay you for your teeth if they are sparkly white.  She has to fly them high up in the sky to be stars, and well, if they're dirty they wouldn't do any good in lighting up the night sky so she would just leave them and not cash you out.  This little story was enough to shut them both up and be ultra-cooperative gentlemen for at least the next 2 hours.  It may not seem like much, but I'll take it.

But it got me thinking about just how much I deceive these sweet, innocent, trusting little beings.  How can one who loves these children unconditionally be so deceptive?  Emotional bubble wrap is for their own good, right?  My answer is a resounding Y-E-S.  However, I don't think it is enough that we make this crap up and rest on our laurels about it.  Eventually they'll call us out on it.  We need a plan B, just in case.  I'm sure ours will include some "after" pictures of some meth junkie.

The lesson is this:  Parents, get your stories straight now.  It's your only hope of maintaining loyalty and avoiding a mutiny from your scurvy crew.  They DO have swords, or at least light sabres.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Facebook Rewind

Facebook has been a great tool for posting my kids' observations, though pretty limited for content space. In case you live under a rock and don't follow me there, here is a compilation of posts from the past year~

(Clayton Praying) "...and thank you God for all the food, especially the kind with the white frosting on it, can you make more foods with white frosting because I love it, it tastes just like a marshmallow, or a angel wing feathers, or a fluffy white cat. Thanks. Amen." 7/19/2010

(Esten, on Love) Esten passed along some new found wisdom learned from his 8 year-old crush. "There are 3 kinds of Love. Married-Love, Friendship-Love, and the other one which is the best kind is the No-Matter-What-Love." Thanks, Lauren for that timeless truth. 7/7/2010

(Esten, on jail) I was watching one of the "Predator" shows, and Esten walked in just as the perv dumped a blender full of margarita all over the bar. As he was being interviewed by the cop in the trailer, Esten said, "Is that why you get so upset when me and Clayton spill things because when we are grownups if we spill then the cops will take us to jail?" hmmm...yes? 6/28/2010

(Clayton, on marriage) Clayton proclaimed he does not want any "wif-ez" when he gets big. Esten told him he has to or "people will think it's because you're not kind & there's no girls who will put up with you like mommy puts up with daddy. That, and you'll go to jail". "Really??", asked Clayton, clearly concerned. "Pretty sure, Clayton, pretty sure". 6/21/2010

(Esten, on laundry) I washed the boys' bedding. Esten sniffed his blanket, frowned at me and said, "But it doesn't smell like farts anymore, it took me a long time to get it that way". Boys. Ew. 5/27/2010

(Esten, on marriage)
Esten: "I wish I could marry you Mommy!"
Me: "But I'm already married to Daddy."
Esten: "Why did you pick our Daddy?"
Me: "First of all, because he's soooo handsome like you, and..."
Esten: "...and because you were the Princess and he was the Principal?"

(On brotherly love) I was cursing the stupid weeds I was dealing with until the boys crashed their dump trucks into each other, laughed and squealed, then Esten said, "Oh my GOSH, CLAYTON! I am having so much fun with you right now, wanna hug each other?" Clayton obliged, then said, "Esten, I like you so much for a brother, can I have a kiss too?" THAT my friends, makes the backbreaking part of pulling weeds tolerable. 4/25/2010

(On patience, none) I watched the "marshmallow test" segment on Katie Couric news last night. If you missed it, there's an OLD test still working on kids that they can either ring a bell and get one marshmallow now, or wait and get two marshmallows later. It's an indicator of their future successes, setting goals, self control, etc. My kids are SCREWED. 4/22/2010

(Clayton praying) "Thank you God for my Grandma and Grandpa and everybody and the grass and the Wii, and tell Santa Claus on the other cloud that I'm good tonight and he will bring me some presents, but on tomorrow, because it's a long time ago to Christmas. Amen." 4/21/2010

(On fashion) Clayton wants me to go to the "camel-frog store" and get him "camel-frog pants" and a "camel-frog shirt" and "camel-frog socks" so he can look like Uncle Ryan, except not with a scratchy face. 4/15/2010

(On bedtime) "Yeth, if you don't thtay in bed I AM going to thpank your fanny. I AM THEEWEEUTH." Just seeing if speaking Clayton's language will yeild better weethulths. 3/23/2010

(On ethnic heritage) I had a great Sons of Norway breakfast Saturday. Esten went formal, tie and vest. Clayton decided to go with the stained white tee from the dirty clothes basket. Both insisted that "Vikings" are actually "Pirates with TWO eyes and NO hooks." Bellies full of pancakes, krumkakke, and lefse, first words out of their mouths back at home were "WE NEED A SNACK!" UFF-DA! 3/21/2010

(On Easter Baskets) Esten shook every egg in his basket. No jingle of change, and it went back in the pile. He said Clayton could have those, because "they're just candy in there" and he wants "just all the monies". Clayton couldn't offer an opinion, as he had too much chocolate seeping out the corners of his mouth. 4/5/2010

(On clutter) On our way out of the driveway Esten said, "Mommy, we need to get you a new car." I asked what was wrong with the one we have. He said, "It's just way to messy. I don't like it anymore with all this stuff around in here." Time to clean up. 2/25/2010

(On repeating yourself) I feel like it's Groundhog Day. Every morning since Christmas, literally the first words out of Clayton's mouth have been, "Can I play the Wii now?" For Esten, for the past 3 YEARS it's been, "Can you get me some hot cocoa and make it warm and make it taste like sugar?" I'm not joking. That's exactly what he says EVERY TIME. No wonder Bill Murray's hair looks like that. 2/23/2010

(On Biblical History) I heard the sermon from the booster seats:
Clayton: "God died on the cross."
Esten: "No, JESUS did."
Clayton: "No, Jesus died in a SWORD fight."
Esten: "No, it was with a LIGHT SABRE."
Clayton: "The green one or the red one?"
Esten: "The RED one. It was a bad guy."
Clayton: "OH."

(On fleeting love) I am eavesdropping on the boys playing StarWars Legos on the Wii...Clayton told Esten "Please don't kill that guy again because he's on my team, and I love you." Ahhh, it just doesn't get better than that. Oh, wait a tick...Clayton just ripped the nunchuck out of Esten's hand and clobbered him on the head with it. Back to reality. 2/6/2010

(On practical birthday gifts) Grandpa got a new "tow-it" for his birthday, and Clayton was so excited to show it off to everyone and the cool way it excited that he locked himself in the bathroom. 2/4/2010

(On Prophecy) I just learned about "Prophecy" from Esten. It is when one person is in the bathroom and doesn't want the other person to bother them or talk to them under the door. I can't wait to have prophecy. I haven't had prophecy in...5 years? 1/18/2010

(On Love-in perspective) I feel SO special right now...Esten just informed me that he loves me "more than our new TV, which is a lot because it's super awesome". Don't boys (and grown-up boys) have a way with expressing their feelings? You know it's serious when electronics are involved. 1/16/2010

(On physical fitness) I caught Esten "lifting weights" with a Costco-sized bottle of peroxide last night. I asked him what he was doing, and he dramatically put it down, let out a big huff, flexed his muscles and said, "I'm getting strong and tough to beat my daddy at wrestling. Do you have anything else that's heavy?" 11/13/2009

(On gift-giving) Esten thinks Kenadie needs a Three-Musketeers Barbie for her 4th birthday today, Clayton is sure she wants a Transformer guy. I am wondering why I asked for input. This cannot end well. 11/6/2009

(On fashion) Inside the mind of Clayton's "fashionisto" process this morning...Camouflage pants, check...Top half of Esten's pumpkin Halloween costume from 4 years ago with the awesome green leaf ruffle around the neck, check...Black leather Harley-Davidson jacket, check...Crocs, check...PERFECTION. 9/29/2009

(On Baptism) Grandma's been hinting about baptisms I decided to ask the boys..."Do you want to be baptized?" Esten's response? "You mean for Halloween? Yeah, I'll be a bath-tie for Halloween, but Clayton, you can't. Mommy, what's a bath-tie?" I am officially going to Hell. 9/14/2009

(On Rodeo Action)
Me: "What was your favorite part of the bullriders last night?"
Clayton: "Nuffing."
Esten: "I liked when that pretty girl [Princess Flinders] was riding that horse around in a circle and waving at me...and then she fell off the horse. That was my favorite part."
Clayton: "Oh that part? Me too. I want to go see that again."

(Esten, food critic) "Guess what, Mommy! Cat food doesn't taste very good." (note: we do not have a cat) 8/26/2009

Here we go!

Okay, so I'm a little technologically challenged. I have gotten a lot of encouragement from a few friends and family members (you know who you are) to get some things down in writing. With everyone's busy schedules and some unfortunate geographic scattering, it's impossible for everyone to keep up with what is going on with kids, etc. This will hopefully bring some expanded opportunities for those close to (but far away from) us to get a glimpse into the seemingly boring, everyday life for the Lee family.

I am acutely aware that there are moments, things that my children say or do that are so insignificant in the present, but that are infinitely important to remember, to share, and to reflect on. Everyday life in its monotony is incredibly hilarious, and I draw on it to put things in perspective.

Ultimately, this will serve as a memory book for my kids. I hope that along the way others may enjoy peeking in from time to time to see what is going on with us in our little adventure we call life.