Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't Meth with Meth

My sons are showing some pretty suspicious behavior lately.  They are not eating their dinner.  They have inordinate amounts of energy.  They have grimy fingernails.  Most disturbingly, their teeth appear to be just falling out of their heads at an alarming rate.

Someone call the cops.  They are clearly mething around with meth.

Also, I recently learned I have more than one ancestor named Rufus.  True fact.  For some reason I feel that these two things go together today.


We need to intervene before they end up needing 'flippers' like the kids on Toddlers & Tiaras, because they've already seen the show and with their clearly addictive personalities they will not want to stop at that.  Clayton's already asked me with wide eyes if I was sure if that was only for girls or if boys could do it too.

There are some questions which our children ask that we must consider our absent spouse's response before answering.  WWJD?  What would Jason Do?

Jason would poop his pants a little lot.

But lo, before I could answer, up popped a little gent in his sparkle pantsuit and gave him confirmation, and his eyes lit up.


I managed to convince him, with help of the map, that there were no pageants in our area.  That was a pretty simple fix.  Until a trip to a local store where he eyed some ballet shoes and promptly decided he wanted to be....a dancer.

Quit busting my balls, little man.

We YouTube'd The Nutcracker which I thought would entertain him but ultimately make him blow the whole thing off when he realized he would have to perform in front of people.  It seems to be the requisite for all the dance classes anyway.  He persisted.  He begged for classes, but stipulated one that he did not have to perform for anyone in a recital setting.

I totally understood this.  I too, refused to take piano lessons from teachers who held kind of was crap to do that to kids who wanted to learn without pressure.

I promised to at least look into it.  He was so pleased.  He joyfully twirled around our wood floor in his socks, telling me to put on some music, then asking if I thought his dance was pretty.

"Yeah, it's so great, I love it.  Daddy is going to be so.....excited."

Daddy wasn't very excited.  But it didn't matter.  None of the dance schools offer 'just dancing' classes without enrolling in a structured calendar based program with a recital plugged in at the end.  Luckily, both kids are at an age where they will put up a huge battle if they think you're the one making the adverse determination but will be totally accepting if they think it's out of your hands.  He was disappointed, but he understood.

Daddy was relieved, but thoroughly annoyed that I had seriously considered it.  I had, after all, refused to put forth the same effort to enroll them in wrestling or football programs.  Touche`....touche`.

I can't wait to see what exactly our kids will come up with in their lives.  Behind every great grown up man, teenager, or little boy is a mom who is terribly proud of him for who he is.  Just wait until Clayton finds out about:


He is going to be THO. THUPER. EXTHYTED.

*On a serious note, Daddy and I are/would both be equally supportive if either of these two genuinely wanted to follow through with an endeavor like this.  It's nothing really to do with the boy vs. girl argument.  It's far more to do with the time/money/actual effort investment involved vs. what they make it look like.  We just happen to live in an area where the arts aren't readily available in flexible formats.  If we had a daughter, he (and I) would be just as hesitant to push her into being a little Jon Benet.  It's creepy.  Also, they tend to change their little minds about things often, as was outlined in my 'Cowboy Up' post.  Needless to say, he's already moved on to other interests and forgotten about this.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cowboy Up

When the boys outgrew the babyish nursery decorations, I really wanted to upgrade their surroundings to a cowboy theme.  A vintage 50's one that proved to be a challenge finding fabrics and what-not, it turned out, they weren't so keen on the idea.

We take our cowboyin' seriously 'round here, ma'am.
None of that artsy-fartsy stuff, thank you very much.

I did manage, though, when my parents still had their own place, to notice an old photo of my brother (a really old photo) sliding down in its frame, and the teensiest bit of a cowboy hat peeking from behind it.  I took down the frame from the wall and tried to carefully pry it apart to see what lay beneath.  It was an ink and colored pencil drawing of a bronco-busting cowboy on a stiff piece of cardstock that my mom had used as the backing for the photo frame.  Strapping tape held it in place.

1950's art on garbage scraps didn't account
for sizing of modern scanner equipment.
I asked her if I might have it to reframe for the kids' bedroom if I promised to take good care of it.  She ripped the strapping tape from its years' long resting place, taking chunks of paper with it as she asked my dad to recall the name of his friend.

"Who's that guy that drew this picture for you?"

"Bill Swan."

"That's right.  Bill Swan.  He drew that for Dad.  They worked together at the mill."

"Really Dad?  That's pretty good."

"Oh yeah.  He was quite the artist.  That old bar downtown, the Silver Spur, it had some great big murals on the wall that he done, and some rich guy from Montana come and told him he'd pay him to come paint stuff in his house.  Said he'd pay all his wages just to come paint pictures on his walls.  Rich people do funny stuff like that.  He just loved to draw, he'd draw on anything he could get his hands on, just for fun he loved it so much."
I told my dad the plans I had for the picture, and he seemed pretty pleased.  I got the impression that he liked that old picture a whole lot more than my mom did, and could imagine the squabble they may have had at one time over its place as home decor.  She had clearly won since it had lived out its years until now as a backer to my brother's black and white toothy grin.

Esten had overheard the story of Grandpa's friend, and as I repeated the tale of my curious find on the phone he called out his name, "Bill Swan!  It was Bill Swan who made that picture for Grandpa!"  I can always count on Esten to have been eavesdropping on 'grownup' conversations otherwise deemed too boring for little ears.

I put the artwork in a safe place, reminding myself to try and find an odd-size frame to accommodate it soon.  Its image, though, stayed burned in my mind.  It was oddly enthusiastic and drawn with a familiar confidence.  I became a bit obsessed with it.

I Googled Bill Swan.  Ten minutes later I was on the phone with my mother.

"Uhhh, yeah, so you and Dad left out a little something about his little friend Bill, you know....the artist...Bill Swan?"

"Why?  What?"

"About the work he did after he left the Valley?"

"I don't have any idea what he did or where he went after he left the Valley."

"Oh, well it turns out he focused on sculpture a little more, did some work for an amusement park in San Diego, then, uh, yeah, then did the logo for TACO BELL and did a little horse that Henry Ford put on the MUSTANG."

"Hmmm.  I'll be darned.  Good for him."

[*Disclaimer here...when PepsiCo bought out TACO BELL, they found the original depiction of a man lazing under a sombrero too....unmainstream.  So they changed it to what it is more recognized today.  The guy whose family claims he designed the Mustang CAR and shopped it around unsuccessfully to GM before Ford did have some drawings similar to what we see today of the horse in his personal effects after his death.  Personally, I thought it to be disproportionate and looked like it was getting ready to let loose of a meadow muffin.]

Stereotypical or not, I'd still eat here today. (

This horse looks like it needs to be somewhere. (

This one looks spooked and bloated.
I would not ride it.
 There's very little info out there that remains about this man today.  His family doesn't spout about his accomplishments.  He returned to Asotin to retire and he passed away in the 80's.  There was, at one point, a non-relative's website selling some black and white reprints of his artwork, all of them unsigned like the one we have, for an ungodly price.  Apparently they could fetch this on an unsigned work of his because his style is so unique, so readily identifiable among the cowboy artist community that he helped to inspire and grow that exists even today.  He rarely signed anything because he didn't see himself as an artist.  He just drew for fun, it pleased him.  He knew my dad had ridden in the rodeo for fun (or folly) and wanted to give him that picture, maybe how he saw my dad through his own eyes, not to show off his talents but to share and delight and hold that moment with him.

I will treasure that picture, but I'm more hesitant than ever to entrust my children with it.  Don't be looking for me on Antiques Roadshow anytime soon, however.

My first car, ironically, a Mustang, was still a pile of crap.  Those ass wipes only paid him fifty bucks for his efforts.  Think about that next time you see one.  He busted out an almost life-sized sculpture of that mother-hoofer for them.  That is loving what you do.  Really, really loving what you do.

Clayton changes his mind daily about his choice of bedroom decor.  Last I heard he wanted Star Wars and Raiders Football and Toy Story characters.  That's just not going to happen.  We currently have World/US wall maps, one photo of the boys together, and a clock.  Brown curtains, blue flowery quilts, red flowery flannel sheets, and a pink lava lamp.  We may compromise, but I will win.  I really really love doing that.  I suspect I may hang a single lonely cowboy picture up, way up, up a bit too high where little dirty fingers may not veto my decisions nor appreciate the individual pencil strokes of the red boots with the green tops.  Until they're older.  Like forty.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Auntie's Panties

I'm often forced to face the fact that I am a completely unorganized, unprepared mother.  My 18 months-apart sons put me in a whirlwind of diaper bag delight for so long that once that time in our lives was safely behind us I sort of went as far the other way as possible, opting for the smallest handbag I could find.

This usually only resulted in me over stuffing my purse.

Through today though I've learned moderation in accessory selection but still always kick myself for never being "more like Mandy" when life's little emergencies come up.  It's usually gum, a cough drop, hand sanitizer, or chap stick I'm short when someone is in need.  My sister-in-law, she is the Mary Poppins of purse stow-awayers.  Anything a kid could dream up to need is there at her fingertips on demand, always.  In her purse, in her camera case, in her neatly packed and prepared soft-sided cooler of snacks.  She's the Girl Scout of mommies, and my minis would gladly move in with her tomorrow if given the choice.

After bustling out the door for the normally forty-ish minute trek to Grandpa Bud's service, we were running only a few minutes behind the schedule we had set for ourselves accounting for the horrific weather we'd had and any unknown pre-service duties that may lay ahead for hubs as a pall bearer.  I threw in a few extras, the usual straggler items that get left behind at each other's houses.  Our family lives in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, and it's inevitable that we all have always got something in our kitchen or coat closet that belongs to another kid or sister in our family, and it gets put in a pile for the next person that comes by that way.

We hadn't made it far from town when I heard one of the biggest, juiciest, make-you-not-even-want-to-look sneezes come from the back seat.  Esten was frozen with the goo like stalactites coming from his nostrils, his forearm at the ready, his eyes trained on me waiting for my signal, the go-ahead, the okay to go for it, to wipe his nose on his shirt sleeve.

"NO WAY BUDDY.  Not today.  Not with those clothes."
We were all in our best, new shirts and pants for the boys, Daddy in his suit and tie, me in the best black whatever I could pull together and make work.  I went for my purse, but I don't know why I bothered....I never carry tissues in there.  Nothing.  I swear if I would have found a tampon in there I would have found a way to rip the thing apart and give it to the kid, but no dice.  I was coming up empty.  I looked at hubs.

"Do you have ANYTHING in here?  Paper towels for cleaning?  Baby wipes?"
I looked in the cloth shopping bag of my MIL's I had thrown in to return to her, with the items I was schlepping up to return to their rightful owners.  There, in the bottom of the bag, was our only hope: one clean pair of my other sister-in-law's underwear she'd left at our house when she stayed that didn't make it out of our dryer.  I handed them to him in a wad.

"No way, you're going to be mad at me mom!"

"No I'm not, they're not mine, they're Auntie Sara's."
He's already wiped his nose with them.  Now he looks like he's going to throw up.

"Now blow.  Don't worry, I'm not going to tell anybody."
Okay, so that part wasn't true.  When the others got to the service, I told them all.  So now, Esten officially has had his first truly traumatic underwear-related experience, and I think it's good.  What else is he going to have to chit-chat with a therapist about?  He's had an awesome life so far.  And he's seven.  It's time to liven things up a little.  Maybe he should think about being a little more prepared, like Auntie Mandy is.  I've had some undie incidents in my life and survived them, and these days panties play a bigger role than you'd imagine.

First there was the birthday my mom gave me underwear.  As a present.  When I was far too old for that. And I unwrapped it.  In front of people.  It's mostly blocked out at this point.  Mostly.

In Junior High April Fool's left me the butt of a prank involving a skivie switcheroo on a school trip, one that took years to live down amongst some participants.

A High School summer vacation to San Francisco sans parental units returned me safely to the Spokane airport after many mechanical delays, but not so safely for my luggage, which had been drawn and quartered.  It was the first offered up once the baggage claim carousel fired up, but not before all my panties made a maiden voyage once around in front of three planes' worth of passengers in what quickly turned the grumpy, tired, late night crowd into a giggle fest.  My mom was eager to gather my things and settle the score with the airline, but I was only eager to crawl under a rock and die.

These days those first-on-last-off necessities play a whole different role in life.  I recently realized I and my father spend far more time in them together than a father and daughter should.  But alas, this is what my life has become.  3 a.m. in a tee shirt and undies getting a pill for your 85 years-old-in-a-month dad when he wakes up in the middle of the night and/or helping him to the bathroom when you realize you're wearing the same outfit sometimes happens faster than you can put pants on.  Here are photos of my dad and I:

Jockey® Men's Underwear, V-neck Tee Multi Pack

Hahahahaha! Of COURSE I'm kidding!  My dad does NOT wear V-necks. That's ridiculous.  Oh yeah...and he's about a buck-fifteen in soaking wet clothes with chicken legs and I'm....well....I'm not about a buck-fifteen and we'll leave it at that.  He didn't like it when my mom got him little boys' Ninja Turtle undies when he got too skinny for grown-up sizes.  I guess we've all had our underdrawer drama.

We, the adults, have been incredibly entertained as well.  London does an AmAzing Tarzan routine with his boxer briefs that leaves me feeling sorry for those outside his trusting circle.  Kenadie, bless her sweaty little soul, works up such a lather playing hard that she just can't help it and instinctively peels off the layers until she begins to cool.  She doesn't care that she ends up giving everyone a peek at her princess panties.  She's six, and that's how she rolls, take it or leave it.  Love her, love her streaking.  Hey, give us a good seat and a mediocre glass of wine, send a kid through in various surprise stages of undress doing some trick, act, song, or unnatural noise with a body part, and chances are either that we'll be entertained or at least too tired to spank anybody.  It's a party.

Anyway, I think Auntie Sara may have decided she didn't want her now snotty undies back, but I'm not sure at this point.  I left them in my MIL's washer.  It's now up to them to hash out.  I do know that Esten has made me promise to try to be more ready for emergencies such as that, which I will.  I need to.  Mandy is a fantastic mom, way better than I.  I know this because, like I need only take a poll of my shorties to know that they'd voluntarily go to her without a second thought.  I know it's because of more than cheese sticks and tissues in her purse, though.  It's because they know her heart overflows for them, and thus theirs for her.  And Esten knows that Auntie Sara really isn't mad about her undies at all, and that if he was really in a bind he's got a grandpa and a few uncles who would give him a sock to wipe his butt in a heartbeat.

And isn't that what family is really all about?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A House With No Steps

Grandpa Bud
March 15, 1928 - January 12, 2012

I was in the living room of our vacation rental when my MIL's cell rang - the unfamiliar tone didn't register quickly enough.  About a minute passed and she came through the front door and bounded down the steps, just flitting back from the 'well' house, the un-quarantined of the two we rented for hubs' family's as-close-to-Christmas-as-we-can-get annual gathering.  I was just getting back on my feet from the barf bug that stowed away with his sister's adorable children and traveled from California to Idaho.

She sat down and checked the message.  "Something must be up," she said, because Aunt Nanny said "call her back as soon as you get this".

My stomach sank a little.  We knew that Grandpa Bud had somehow broken a hip, and that they weren't sure what they were going to do about it, whether they were going to fix it.  She hung up the phone.

"Bud passed away."

Those words never get easier to hear, ever.  No matter how prepared you think you are.  And here we were, hundreds of miles away, feeling like there was just nothing we could do.  This had been easily the shittiest vacation ever.  We packed it up and left a day early, not so much because there was anything we could do, but because we needed to.

When the paper ran his obituary today, it struck me as I read the words under the 'survived by' section: step-daughters, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren.  Nobody is necessarily offended by that, least of all likely my MIL who falls in there along with the hubs and my kids.  It just made me so happy to the depths of my heart that in this family, this fun and funny and sometimes overwhelmingly huge-when-all-together family, the only steps my kids have ever known are on porches or lead to basements or upstairs attics.  These grown-ups in this family, where a parent of one is not the parent of another, have done such a seamless job of loving inclusively and left out those words such that my kids are blissfully unaware of the step-ness and half-ness that make up the heart of this family.

They know they have friends who sometimes live with their dad and sometimes live with their mom, and they do get jealous that they don't have a step-dad, etc.

This is what I'm working with, people.  Help me.

I am so grateful that my babies landed in the soft, nurturing nest of extra grandmas and grandpas, of all the aunties and uncles that have loved them so this far in their little journeys.  Especially this one, Grandpa Bud, who from the beginning nuzzled them in his wool Pendleton shirts, then gave them candy from his pockets, then cough drops when he forgot it wasn't candy and maybe he couldn't remember their name, but he didn't care.  He knew that he was happy and he belonged with them, our sweet babies.  And he did belong.  I'm glad he was a part of my kids' lives.  Their Grandpa.  I suspect more angel kisses will start showing up on the boys' lily white skin as one more of our loves' souls is there to stand watch over them as they sleep.

Also, I am anticipating that the count will be uneven and that the boys will fight about it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Good Wife's Guide to Sports

After many years of trial-and-failure, I'm pretty sure I've figured out the secret to this sports thing.  I'm going to share it with you, to save you (I'm assuming you're a woman, only my girlfriends give a hoot about my little bloggy-blog anyway) a WHOLE lot of time.

I hate sports.  Ask me what my favorite sport is.  There is NO answer.  Nothing.  They're equally a drain on my brain, which can't decipher anything past a roaring crowd and why commentators always yell.  To me, it's a silly reason for anybody to lose control of their blood pressure, to yell at their televisions, and so I try to ignore the whole thing.

When I met hubs, he described his interest in sports to me as follows:

"I watch very little sports, sometimes football...Monday Night Football, but really only if the Raiders are playing."

So I married him.  And he flipped on me.  Turns out that statement was a trick....all a trick.  Of course, I'm kidding, but he insists that it didn't go down that way, and that since he "watches less sports" than his brother-in-law, that by default he watches "hardly any".  Humph.

Here is what I have learned to keep our little family happy regarding sports, our television, and my realization that it's not going to go anywhere despite my efforts to will it away, pray for rain delays, or implement the Rebecca Romijn-no-longer-Stamos rule she's imposed on new hub Jerry O'Connell to watch games with no sound (genius move).

I now use game day as a time to just sit next to my husband and read, and to occasionally throw out random observations to him that he thinks I would never know.

This takes a bit of work and commitment to make it look easy and thoughtful on your part, but it's worth it to be able to log some seriously long, uninterrupted reading time that mommies sometimes don't take for themselves.  It's sure a far cry from my days of staring blankly at the screen, feeling my brain atrophy as the game clock ticked away.

1)  Pay attention to Chris Berman (at least his voice) so that you can make a mental note of one thing he says, whether you know what it means or not, then repeat it back to your husband during the game.  He will think you came up with it on your own.  Chris Berman is a constant fixture, has an easily identifiable voice without looking up from your book, and his hair NEVER CHANGES....once you know who he is, you're golden.

2)  Because your husband will also likely watch things like SportsCenter, and because they rehash the same 5 things over and over, use this time to make a mental note of a game your husband will be watching....then make an unorthodox observation.  For example, during the Rose Bowl game, the Oregon team had some really shiny helmets.  During the coin toss, the other team (totally forgot at this point who the other team was) won the toss, so Oregon got to pick what direction they would go....after they picked, I made the statement, "Hmm...I think that was a mistake.  They could have used field position and the sun to their advantage with those helmets and picked the other way - they're just going to end up blinding their own players now...I really think they missed a good opportunity there."

Hubs thinks I care about the game = quality time together = I get to read my book = marital bliss.

*Caution here: do NOT get sassy or carried away.  They will know the point at which you are pretending to care.  This can totally blow it for you.  If this happens, I would recommend administering a double dose of hot wings and waiting 15 minutes to see if he remembers.  Boys are pretty easy creatures to keep happy.  Let's all do our part, shall we?  Mine does, after all, put forth a pretty big effort to keep me happy, which I know is not nearly as simple....he knows: Happy Wife = Happy Life.

And this wife is very happy.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Interview With A Vampire

I’m pretty sure it’s clear by now to anyone who knows my kids how white they are. Clayton is my little vampire, refusing to sleep when the sun goes down and constantly trying to sneak his pasty little body into my bed. Some nights I give up and our sleeping arrangement looks something like this:

Daddy is at work.

Esten slides in bed next to Grandma. He has tried Grandpa’s bed but ends up cross ways and disturbs Grandpa’s sleep. I think at this point, Grandpa should be glad for anything that wakes him up besides death.

Clayton worms his way into my bed knowing Daddy’s not around and he’s got at least 5 hours before he gets kicked out for sure when Daddy comes home from work.

Most nights like this I spend repeating “quit your wiggling and be quiet and go to sleep”. Sometimes I switch it up with things like “mommy needs some beauty rest or I’m going to look like Shrek tomorrow” or “seriously. I. WILL. SPANK. YOUR. FANNY.”

This night I gave up and tried a new tactic, asking him as many questions as I could. The results were both hysterical and effective at the same time.

How old are you going to be when you grow up?


So, how old will I be then?

You’ll be dead because you’ll be so old like a hundred plus a hundred and you’ll be so old you’ll be dead.

Oh that’s terrible. Are you ever going to get married?


How many kids will you have?

Three. A girl and a girl and a girl. And I’m going to name them Edith, Agnes, and Margo.

Hmmmm, are those the girls on Despicable Me?

Yep, but I love them and that’s what I’m going to name my kids.

Oh, so what are you going to do, like for a job, like Daddy is a policeman, what are you going to do when you grow up?

Nothing, DUH MOM, Kings don’t have jobs and I’m going to live in a castle.

Nice, that sounds like fun. What is your wife going to do, will she have a job?

I changed my mind. I will catch bad guys with daddy. She is going to stay home and clean the dragon slobber off the ceiling and the bird poop off the windows, because that’s what wife’s do. And she is going to need a taaaaalll ladder and those are expensive.

Oooh, yeah. So I was thinking that you could just stay at my house forever and take care of me when I get old.

I can’t take care of you, you have to take care of me, plus this house will be all old and gross.

Well why can’t we just keep cleaning it like we do now, and fix things when they get broken so it won’t ever be gross?

But it will still be old, like you. And you’ll still probably be dead, probably.

Probably still dead? What else would happen?

I would probably dig a hole for you in the back yard, so that if I got hungry you could come in the kitchen and make me some waffles and hot cocoa.

Won’t your wife cook for you?

She doesn’t know how to make hot cocoa because she is a little girl and she will be on the ladder.

I wonder if Esten had a wife if she would make the cocoa for you guys?

Does Lauren know how to make cocoa?

She probably does, yeah.

So do you think she’s still mad that Esten married her?

I’m thinking she probably doesn’t know Esten married her yet.

I’m going to tell her next time, can I call her tomorrow?

We’ll see, what kind of car are you going to drive?

A train, stop asking me so many questions mommy, I’m so tired can I just go to sleep?

YES. Yes you can.