Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Sam Hill Kind of Day

Yesterday was one of those days. You know the kind of day where you are finally lying bed wondering, "what in the sam hill just happened to me!" It was just one of those sam hill kind of days yesterday. All of it involving Chubbers.
Yesterday was a preschool day for Titus and a stay home with Mom and Teensy day for Chubbers. He goes to school on Tuesday and Thursday. Our church has a Ladies Bible Class on Wednesday with child care provided for the ladies until 1:30 and Kendra, craving adult interaction and scenery NOT inside our house, wanted to go. We were all trying to get ready. It seemed like we were herding turtles in a pile of peanut butter, but we were trudging along.
Titus had the brilliant idea that he wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What he forgot to mention is that he wanted the sandwich minus the jelly. Titus is the kind of kid that does not tolerate corruption of any kind and will reject an entire "fing" with one defect. Ito doesn't' have to defile the thing to be eaten at all, just has to be not the way he thought it should go. Not knowing that it was a no jelly on the sandwich day meant I had to hear the gripping. "Dad, I didn't want jelly on the sandwich it's ruined so I threw it away." "You threw that sandwich away?" "I don't want jelly make me another one." I'm a patient man...long with kids as my full-time job..he pissed me off! I couldn't believe he would throw away an perfectly good sandwich. I mean, I made sure that the peanut butter was adequately spread, evenly, on both slices of the bread so the jelly wouldn't make the bread all squishy and wet. Even went to the trouble of unclumping the jelly. Jelly loves to be clumpy and it's no small task to make the stuff smooth and silky. I took the time to do that for my ungrateful ball of flesh. "You may not have another sandwich. that's wasteful." Tears, crying, rapid explanations about how I had defiled the sandwich and it wasn't what he to Mom.
Mom, not wanting to get the day off to a bad start (did I mention it wasn't even 8:30 yet?) made him another sandwich. She made the peanut butter and no jelly sandwich and even cut the sniveler's sandwich into squares for easier handling. Enter Chubbers.
At eight months old we learned that Chubbers couldn't eat peanut butter because it made him whelp up. Benadryl helped then and we just avoided giving him peanut butter. Chubbers is the raccoon of our family. He loves to pillage for food and find any scraps he can find. He especially finds joy in stealing his brothers food. Chubbers knows that if he touches any of Titus' food it is an ultimate defilement and thereby his. Chubbers snuck a piece of Titus' sandwich.
I was shaving and trying to get ready so I could help get everyone else ready. Chubbers walked in and laid a piece of that sandwich on my sink, peanut butter side down. He had eaten the top piece of bread and decided it wasn't for him. This piece was maybe the size of a Cheese-it cracker, not so big. "Kendra...give Chubbers some Benadryl he just ate peanut butter." "I have already given him his medicine." I continued shaving then got in the shower. I almost went into my whole obsession about the getting ready process--you are saved...and welcome.
"Will get in here quick." I hopped into the bedroom from our bathroom still drying off.."what's the matter." "Levis' face is swelling get him some Benadryl." She was tending to Teensy and couldn't break free. Towel now wrapped around my waist I ran to the kitchen and got the dose. His left eye was very red, very watter, almost jelly like, and swollen. Prize fighter who lost swollen. Dose down hopefully we are good to go.
Kendra decided to stay home and not go to class since Chubbers was beginning to look like Hitch (Will Smith movie..check it out it's good.). I left with Titus and we were off. Titus to school me to Starbucks to get my Non-fat White Mocha, please stir no whip, thank you very much. Not even the White Mocha could save this day.
About 11:00 Kendra called to say that his face was no better and that we needed to call the doctor. We have a great doctor and he has the best nurse we have ever worked for--ever! She's nice, she's actually nice and cares about the patients she sees-Amazing I know. "Will this is Brandy I got your message, you need to come in at 1:30 today to let us see he wheezing?" "Some, not a lot, but some." "He may need to go to the ER." "Call Kendra at home and ask her your questions because she's been there with him." About ten minutes expired when..."Will line 6 is Kendra." "Hello...ok I'm on my way." We were going to the ER.
His face was horrible, just horrible. Chubbers has the most beautiful complexion, gorgeous brown eyes and huge long lashes. he's just beautiful. Not so this morning. Swollen, blood red eyes, watering just a mess. I felt so sorry for him. I wanted to trade places right there on the spot with him and go through this for him. We were off to the Doctor. By the way Teensy was minus the monitor because the battery was all crazy--her first day to be monitor free and that had us keyed up to boot.
Once we got to the ER we joined the rest of the people who had decided they needed to go to the ER. The room was nearly full, as was the parking lot. I was so frustrated trying to find a parking place. The check-in went smoothly and now all we had to do was wait. I don't wait well. "Levi Spoon?" Back into the bowels of the ER.
Anna was the ER nurse who took the initial stats. "he's definitely having a reaction. I don't' think it's anaphalactic shock, but we will get him taken care of." ER waiting rooms are not the best place in the world to children. Especially children who love to lick things--anything. As a certified, card carrying germ a phobe I was grossed out! I didn't want him touching anything. Chubbers didn't really understand, "sit still and don't move too much, just wait." He wanted to explore and discover, push buttons and open doors. This was a wonderland of discovery and he had a mission to go on.
"Mr. and Mrs. Spoon we are going to give him an IV and three medications that should help him out and make him feel better." No parent is ever really ready to hear that your baby is going to get an IV. You try to brace yourself and be ready, but you aren't. The feeling of helplessness is just horrible. I'm a fixer, protector, and let me do it for you person. To be totally helpless and unable to immediately fix my Chubber Chubber was too much. Surprisingly though I didn't cry. Mildred, you would have been proud. She hates any display of emotional breakdown in public.
Pearson gave the IV. He was totally, freshly shaven bald with a beard. He looked to be about 30, really nice guy. He was the kind of guy you wouldn't expect to be a great ER nurse, but he was probably the best one they had. He would have fit better in leather pants on a Harley or in some motor cycle shop on the OCC. "OK, buddy this is going to hurt, just hang on and it's going to be over quick." "Anna and Pearson were holding Chubbers arm, Mom was holding Chubbers I was holding Emma in her carrier and rocking back and forth in a soothing motion. screaming. Chubbers just looked at him like, "is that all you got? Bring it!" They were amazed that he was so good. I wasn't he's a tough cookie and just a wonderful baby. All the more reason why he didn't need to be doing this. He got solumedrol for the swelling, then Pepcid which is a blocker for the allergy things and Benadryl which blocks the histamine allergy. They were taking care of all the allergy reactions in three shots covering their bases. Damn the peanut allergy!
We waited for three hours after that and were moved deeper into the bowels of the ER. I guess there is the waiting room...processing room...waiting room again...bowel of the ER wait here get dressed room with a curtain...then the deeper bowel of the ER where the doctor actually sees you room. Chubbers was not satisfied to just wait. The glove balloon was not working, my cell phone not working. Thank God I packed Yo-go's and gummy snacks. Those storehouses depleted all we had to do was walk. I paced back and forth. We looked at this and that. He finally went to sleep.
About 3:30 we saw the doctor and he prescribed steroids and Benadryl for the next five days. We also had to follow up with our doctor for allergy testing. My Mom and Lucy were on their way. Even though the emergency was over they just needed to hold him for themselves. That's the great thing about living close to family and having great kids--family wants to come love on them in times of crisis. I honestly don't know how I could have survived the last 10 months of my life if hadn't been for my family. Especially Lucy, she just calms me down and when she's there I know everything is going to be ok. My big sis always makes everything ok. She'll beat the crap out of anyone who messes with her bubby and she can't stand the thought of me being distressed. That's the kind of Sissy everyone needs a tender and sweet yet kick the crap out of anyone who crosses me kind of sis.
The steroids made Chubbers spastic, rabid dog butt on fire spastic. I missed most of that because I had to go to work and try to make sense out of a lesson with 50 kids waiting to hear something great--they got a movie. Kendra and I were just wiped out. What a relief to see the cavalry come--Nonny and Aunt Lucy are here! Yippee.
We finally went to bed about 10:30 or so. I am usually in bed by 9 and turn into a zombie pumpkin by 10, just not a night owl at all. I can also fall asleep in less than 30 seconds from lying down. I have one spot I get in and WHAM! LaLa land. Not so this night I think it took like three minutes for me to go to sleep. Kendra and I just tried to process the whole events of our day. "What in the sam hill is going on?" "I don't know it's just been one of those days." "Is he going to be ok, can you hear him breath?" "Yeah he's breathing and ok."
This will be first of many crisis involving our kiddos I'm sure. Our rule is only one parent can have a meltdown at a time. Who ever goes first is the one, the other just has to suck it up. I don't' look forward to that kind of parenting, but I look forward to my kids knowing that there Daddy is going to be there. I want Teensy and the boys to know that I will be there to wipe their brow, hold them or their hand, look them in the eye and kiss their temple whispering to them, "Daddy's here, everything is going to be ok." There's not a thing in the world a family can't survive when you love each other. Chubbers knows he is loved. He knows that his Nonny, Sesa (that's what he calls Lucy), Mommy, Daddy, and Bubba are going to be there for him and I think deep down in his mind he has been given that assurance that whenever the Sam Hill days come, he wont' be alone and he will come out on top.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I'll get you my pretties!

I fell in love with depression glass in the mid 90's while working at a church in Oklahoma City. A secretary there and I became friends and she had been an avid collector for years and years. Her collections were vast, cookie jars, Jadeite, you name it and she had a collection of it. It wasn't long before I fell in love the stuff. True to form, I obsessed about making it my job to know as much about depression glass as possible. I read books and looked at Antique stores, didn't really know anything about the Internet then so I couldn't look things up like I do now. I was encourage to collect a thing and go from there. I decided that I would begin collecting cake plates, clear glass cake plates to be exact. They were abundant and cheap, two things that really please me. I probably collected 10-20 of those buggers before I fell in love with more stuff and moved on.

My next obsession was with sugar and creamers. I collected them voraciously and really had a lot of fun. I found that you have to be careful when talking about what you love, like sugar and creamers because people will start giving you things you don't want. New, knock-off sugar and creamers or sugar and creamers with not sugar lid weird duke like that. I loved the collecting of those sugar and creamers and they still catch my eye to this day.

From the sugar creamer obsession I moved on to candy dishes. Oh how I loved that. By the time I fell in love with candy dishes I had decided I loved green depression glass and would just collect the many patterns of green depression glass candy dishes I could get my hands on. It was great fun collecting them and hunting for them in antique malls, antique shows, garage sales, estate sales. All kinds of places to get those little pretties. I was on the prowl for them and would get them!

Here are just a few of the green candy dishes I have collected. These are on our mantle in the formal living room. I just love the color and the design. The dish in the back left is the X-design pattern and very rare. I have never seen any other glass piece with this pattern nor have I seen another candy dish with this pattern. It was a steal and a find to get. One of the foremost scholars of depression glass is Gene Florence. I wrote to him to ask if he could help identify it and never heard back from him. The piece in the back right is called Block Optic. This one is not perfect, the lid to this candy dish has been ground smooth on top, it had a point like it's sisters, but most likely was damaged and ground smooth to make it prettier. No matter to me I love it just the same. The dish in the front is the Ribbon patter made by the Hazel Atlas company. Aren't they just lovely? I have probably 20 or so of these candy dishes in various patterns.

As I got deeper and deeper into the hunt of these lovelies I fell in love with a particular pattern and have refined my search to two things now. Candy Dishes in green depression, and Green Depression Doric. Doric was made by the Jeanette Glass company between 1928 and 1946, it was the Grand Daddy of all glass companies cranking out dozens of patterns. These patterns were sold in catalogs (Sears, Montgomery Ward, etc.) and department stores much like you wold see at the department stores today. They had all sorts of things made in those patterns which means there are hundreds of things to collect (salt shakers, sugar shakers, syrup pitchers, vases, bud vases, milk or water pitchers, tumblers, you name it and they made it.)

Here are two examples of the Doric pattern. The picture is sideways, not sure how to turn it because the last time I tried I lost this whole blog post, so just turn your head with me and gaze. the rectangular dish is part of a four piece bridge set. there are three square inserts to this tray that you could use in entertaining. The piece on the right is a clover pattern nut dish or candy dish, but most likely a nut dish. Their candy dish is way cool. I love how simple this pattern is and yet how complex the design is as well. It's my favorite by far. My two favorite, well three, favorite pieces of the Doric pattern are the Candy Dish, the pitcher, and the sandwich tray. I jut love them. I hope to add to my collection, but don't go after them with as much intention as I used to. Teensy and Boys have kind of redirected my energy to other "family friendly" pursuits.

Here are four other pieces that hang in our formal living room. They are just across from the antique buffet that my Granny had in her house. The green piece on the top is the Doric sandwich tray. It is pristine with no hickeys or ginks at all. I love this thing. The piece on the bottom is a Swirl pattern cake plate. It is unique in that it has a scalloping pattern added to the swirl pattern. The two pieces on the right and left are the result of a brief foray into the pink world, short lived. The rectangular piece on the right is the princess pattern and the piece on the left is the Mayfair pattern. I like how the pink and green play together and allow them to live with me. Had I my drothers I'd rather collect just green and have just green.

I did go through a Swanky Swig stage, but that didn't last long either. Some of the pieced in my favorite collecting categories are very, very expensive. In my life right now I would rather put an extra $30 (the going price for most pieces I collect) in my Starbucks gift card or add it to my lunch kitty. I am happy with my collection as it is and don't even have it all out on display. So to me, White Mocha heaven is much more, "get me to my happy place and fast!" than say a green Doric salt and pepper shaker. Mildred has adopted my clear glass cake plates. Anything I give to Mildred I know goes to a good home because she will love them and love them well.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The path to destruction

I finally have a camera that can chronicle some of the adventures that I enjoy with Teensy and the boys. As you may remember from previous posts, number one son is a construction destructor. He loves to build things and then jump into his imagination and play for hours with his creations. He will play and add and play and add for several hours then, when done, walk away. Such was the case this weekend.
Here is the kitchen, where Titus built a farm. The chairs and basket are the actual farm house where, "home living" occurs. Then you see the pillows and other various things scad about which are the outbuildings, pins, other houses, and a launch pad. What farm isn't complete without a launch pad? You can see number one son in the background scanning the room for more items to add to his construction destruction.

This is another angle. Titus scattered tissue all over floor because he wanted carpet in his home living area. The red gas tank is just that, a gas tank to load the rocket ship up with fuel so he can go on a, "space exploration to find 'fings." He took a break to eat some breakfast while he was building his empire. I made homemade breakfast sandwiches to, hopefully, convert his taste buds over from the frozen swill he was eating. I just can't wrap my brain around factory prepared flash frozen things, I will resist the rant for another blog.

I especially like this picture because it shows you the looks I get some times. This was his absolute depression over the realization that he was going to pick up ALL of his construction by himself without my help no matter how long it took. He was not at all happy with that. "Dad, Dad, it's just too much, I can't take it." Was his reply as he flew himself into the floor and attempted a fit. I told him he should save his energy for the clean up and get busy. It took him an hour to build the empire, two hours to play, and three to clean it up!
His imagination is always firing and I love to walk with him through his imagination and play in the lands he creates. Just a joy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If that's a snob--call me a snob!

Last night was yet another trek into public with our brood. This was our shopping excursion to Wal-Mart. Our goal was to get the shopping done and eat before American Idol came on. We have two carts now; one that is the two-seater semi-trailer cart and the other is the regular cart. I pushed the semi-trailer through the aisles with the boys and we were off. Teensy's carrier was precariously pitched to such an angle that made her start spitting up. This required a quick adjustment and then a clean up on aisle 12. Once that emergency was resolved we continue our shopping.
There is something about Wal-Mart that makes number one son have to go to the bathroom. Usually after we begin to get our frozen food and perishable things it hits him. Off we go in the Semi to the bathroom. I have to stand outside and watch Chubbers. He was strapped in and we had a cart full of duke so I wasn't going to risk that. I did get a chance to watch someone get their taxes prepared by some person at a tax kiosk. That really amazed me. That is a level of trust I don't care to bother with.
Our check out girl was into chatty chatty checking which I quickly became irritated with. Her commentary on every single purchase was just unnecessary. We had two carts full of groceries, I didn't' want to chat with her about every purchase we were going to make. Holy Cow I just wanted to get i over.
Once the car was loaded we headed to eat. Kendra wanted to go to what I fondly call the Golden trough. It is a chain of restaurants that are mega-buffet with a steak grilling section right in the middle. I did not want to go to the place, I hate buffet restaurants. It was busy, busy, busy, and we lucked out on a parking place close to the entrance. The first thing you see when you walk into this place is a huge maze that potential diners wander through to get their drink order, first round of clean plates, and receipt before the gluttony begins. The railing was just the right height for Chubbers to run under unobstructed which he did straight to the crane games. These games have worthless toys, animals and other things stuffed inside and beckon you to feed the machine dollar after dollar attempting to get the prize. I don't get why that is attractive to some people, but it is.
As we walked around to see the table set up, we now have to look for large tables so we can spread out. I noticed my fellow diners and it creeped me out. That was the first wave of shutter. I knew at that moment that I could never eat in that place again and just hoped that I could make my way through this experience. We sat down and were promptly greeted by our waitress. She herself was a mother of young children and totally got the whole, small child paradox. He had her hair pulled back in a bun and wore a laminated fabric pouch in which she kept her cleaning rag for wiping down the tables. The next wave of shutter came when I realized our waitress was cleaning off the tables that were emptied by diners and also getting drink and roll refills--WITHOUT WASHING HER HANDS. Major creep out on that one. Dirty hands from gross diners who had been sucking the meat off chicken and leaving their scraps on the table touching my roll basket and glass. I can't hardly shake someones hand before I have to wash it. It was a full on corruption violation.
The diners were all dressed as if they had been working in the yard. I saw one girl who was clearly taking a break from hygiene because it was spring break stick her head under the sneeze guard to reach for the condiment she wanted. That barrier is there for a reason! Totally disgusting. Sneeze guards are really gross to me too, they drip you know. Touching the handle of a spoon right after someone else has touched it is gross to me, seeing the finger and nose grease slimed sneeze guard is gross to me. Sliding my plate across a counter that is a sweaty, sticky, puckied up mess is gross to me. The man right in front of me was an older gentleman who was walking in slow motion. Sloth slow! He was trying to retrieve a piece of meatloaf covered in powdered gravy and gave up on the utensil and instead went for it with his fingers. I had to step back and gain control of my gag reflex which was, by that time, in overdrive. I looked for items that were freshly placed and raced to get them. Broccoli, mashed spuds, just cooked steak. Done, now I can go sit down.
People would graze across the dessert aisle and snag a piece of food, then lick their finger or suck their finger clean--gross. Seeing piles and piles of mass prepared food placed on plastic plates and watching devour food as if there were at time limit just grossed me out. That is when it hit me, "I might be a snob." I am totally ok with that. I wasn't rude to the waitress and smiled to the fellow diners, didn't mind that at all, it was just the whole atmosphere grossed me out. My table was slick, and somewhat sticky. That's gross to me.
I guess I could just be a better person and not let it get to me but I just can't help it. I watch people and have all my life. Some folks just gross me out. I felt like cattle being fed, not a pleasant experience.
Maybe someday I'll get over it, but until then I will avoid the grazing trough buffet spread and take my food on it's own plate prepared by a person and touched by a person who has been through a food handling class-thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Let Them do Butter!

On my way to my favorite Barista this morning for that delicious Non-fat White Mocha, please stir. I was contemplating something to chew, a pastry or other fine indulgence. There really isn't a close shop that is on my way to the Barista, when I almost gave into the temptation of buying the pastries at my Barista. That is when it suddenly came to me--They are crap! I've given several of their pastries and other baked goods a fair turn, on more than one occasion and more than one shop in several states. Each and every experience--crap. They are beautiful and attracting and look to be delicious, but they aren't. Companies should just do what made them famous. Why would you venture out into the unknown field of what you don't know and not just make what you do that made you famous even better?
Grocery stores need to stick to selling groceries and not trying to cook them. The only exception to this is in the rotisserie chicken department. All other condiments or side dishes are just not edible, I can't see how people do that to themselves. I noticed at my grocery store recently that there are mashed potatoes and other side dishes in a tub, made by a company not known for anything but margarine--what a crock! Why would people assume that they know how to make macaroni and cheese, mash a potato or scallop one for that matter? They do butter for heaven sake--LET THEM DO BUTTER. It really doesn't' make sense to me at all.
Mildred will tell you that I have long held to this philosophy, "stick to what you know! Just because it is a brand you recognize doesn't mean they know diddly squat about that which didn't make them famous." I've been burned one too many times by Brands who want to use their identity to launch into fields they just shouldn't be going into. Again, there are some exceptions to this rule, but not many. Some brands don't get it wrong and do a great job of doing what they do well and with pride.
Every time I walk form the parking lot into Wal-Mart I nearly choke from the smell of their huge vats of hot grease cooking up another batch of processed popcorn chicken and spewing that horrendous funk into the atmosphere. It is just disgusting, I don't eat at my grocery store nor do I eat at my gas station. Gas stations are known for cheap sodas and gas--period. Stick with what you know. Would we be fooled into thinking that Goodyear has the ticket when it comes to tasty cookies? Or Lysol launching a line of beverage and flavored water? What about Valvoline cooking oil? See it just doesn't' make sense now does it? Would you buy thoothpaste made by Preparation H? Come on they know how to stuff things into a tube! Stick with what you know, please. I don't want to know what my favorite soda tastes like in a pound cake, thank you very much. I don't want to even try my favorite sausage factory prepared and packaged with other factory prepared and sealed breakfast goods--no thanks.
I'm thrilled with those who do what they do well, doing it even better. You should have seen me do my mental happy dance when I saw my first stick of Crisco! Oh, thank you Lord! For years I have lamented to Mildred that I want already firmly packed brown sugar, please. If the Crisco magicians can do it so can those who sell the California and Hawaiian brand of brown sugar! Low and behold viola--firmly packed brown sugar right there on the shelf for my purchasing pleasure. It is remarkably like the Crisco magicians packaging. If only the hot dog and hot dog bun folks could come together! I don't think I could take it, but I'd sure like to try. My favorite vegetable oil even has an easy measure cap, just like my favorite laundry detergent, one less measuring cup to dirty! Glory, Glory hallelujah! Now for cocoa powder that doesn't explode when you try to scoop more than a tablespoon out of the oddly shaped canister. At least it's not in that maddening man-hole canning method of yesteryear--Oh talk about frustration! I love the ketchup industry inventing a silicone valve that allows you to dispense ketchup cleanly. No more crunchy ketchup nuggets to deal with. I'm equally thrilled with the other bottled, "it should have been made to store upside down from the get go"revolutions. They are wonderful and easy--I'm still going to make my own Ranch dressing though, thanks for offering but I'll pass on that hydrogenated nightmare.
I'm looking forward to the day that the cereal box industry revolutionizes their packaging technology. What a fun day that will be when you don't have to be destroyed by the pulverized cellophane bags and demolished cardboard flaps. At least they aren't made of wax paper glued to the side of the box anymore, but that is slow progress. When I rule the world and those who do what they do great do something fantastic, it will become an industry standard a requirement for all to follow. That is if I decide to keep the brands I don't like around instead of destroying them for convenience sake.
There will be a special place in hell for the record industry executives, marketing directors, and factory employees who obey mindlessly ignoring the clarion call for revolution. They will all have socks on their hands that cannot be removed. Then there will be one billion CD's that must be opened before you can be elevated to the normal hell department and just live in misery. Just do what the gum folks did a long, long time ago and install an easy open tear strip. It's not that hard. and please don't stick a sticker on the CD case it just isn't necessary to have two layers of protection against opening, it really isn't.
So, fellow shopper be on the look out for brands that get cocky and assume that just because they do one thing well they can launch out and do another. Just think, "Are they known for this?" If the answer is, "no" then let it go. Let them do butter it's what they do.

Monday, March 19, 2007


After three months of confinement we are slowly getting out with Teensy. Prior to Teensy's surprise arrival we were a busy go, go, go, go family. We went everywhere and didn't slow down for much. When Teensy came along we had to put the brakes on our gypsy ways and settle down. Now that the threats which kept us home (RSV virus specifically) aren't as much of a threat we can begin to journey out.
This weekend we went to Target, furniture stores, and to a couple of eating places, and church. Getting ready to go takes a truck load of effort. Usually Kendra takes care of getting all of Teensy's duke ready to roll. This entales packing the monitor she is still using for Apnea, getting her stroller out, car seat out, packing the diaper bag, securing the antibacterial wipes, and hand gel, aspirator, burp clothes, blankets, and Teensy. I take care of the boys. When we say the word, "go" Chubbers is at the laundry room door saying bye to every thing. He's into blowing kisses, loudly. He places that chubby hand on this mouth and says, "MMMMMMMAHHH" over and over. He is ready to roll. I'm trying to learn not to open the garage door right as I walk outside because Chubbers makes a mad dash for the freedom of the out of doors. He's off like lightening ready to discover and play outside. I usually run around hunkered down attempting to catch him and buckle him in the seat. This is every time we go anywhere. Titus usually has time to hop on his big wheel and drive around two or three times before we are all ready to go. Once we are loaded and ready to pull out there is this sigh of relief.
When we arrive it's time to undo what was just done. Stroller out and hooked up. Sterilize the shopping cart to prevent any contamination. Shopping carts are totally disgusting. Chubbers is into licking everything he comes in contact with. We are told it is because he's teething and he's searching out a thing to relieve the pain. We just think it's gross, him licking all over everything. Target and the furniture stores aren't really that bad, most are contained and we just keep moving. I have noticed that people who are in sales are more ready to assist you when you are with your entourage. Their thought must be, "There is no way in the world I would drag all of that crap out to just look around. They must be really serious." What they don't' know is, "yes, oh yes, we did go to all of this trouble to just get out." We are that desperate to roam our small world.
Restaurants are a different story. Three children out number two adults handily. It's just amazing how NOT worth eating out is when there are three children to deal with. We've tried it four times, two with help, two without, all four were just exhausting. Every item on the restaurant table is a hazard for a child. Everything that the restaurant hostess gives you is unacceptable to children, they would rather see how long a salt shaker can be held upside down before the salt is completely emptied of its' contents. Or what the bottom of the sugar holder looks like and how far all of the packets will scatter when turned upside down. Then there is the ketchup bottle and nice napkin wrapped present at each place setting. Each present has a weapon of mass destruction--knife! For boys straws, chop sticks, toothpicks, anything straight is an immediate weapon, and anything with an actual edge is a double blessing. One of the first things we do when we sit down is scamper to remove all of the hazards.
When I rule the world there will be special sections in all restaurants for parents with children. A special place where you food, any food, is delivered in 10 minutes from the time of order. What the restaurant industry doesn't know is that for every minute we wait for our food, that is equal to one hour of clean up after we leave. It looks like a Gallagher concert after we leave, food everywhere. Eating out with children is very expensive, too. Not only are you paying record prices for children's food and drink, but you have to double the tab and apply that as tip. It's not just double the tax, round up and move on down the road, my rule of thumb, but you are required to give a small pension for pain and suffering. We love the waitress who is away from her own children working, that kind of sympathy is universal and you don't get better service than that.
I do get a kick out of people who want to interact and deal with children. "What's your name?" "You have a lot of energy." "Oh look, a baby, how old? Oh how sweet." "Oh my, three children did you plan that or was it just an accident?" "Look at those lashes, and those eyes, what is he?" That last comment is specifically directed to Chubbers. He is an absolutely gorgeous mulatto. Very curly dark brown hair, brown almost black eyes, and creamy light brown skin. He's beautiful and has lashes that curl up and touch his eyebrows--for real. Just beautiful. Our kids usually just look at them like, "I'm sorry you are a very strange stranger and we don't' talk to strangers so please get out of the way and move on about your business." Titus has begun dealing with people in an effort to cut to the chase. "I'm four, the big broder, this is Levi he's one and that's my baby sister, Emma--she spits out through her nose and throws up." We are hoping that last description of changes somewhat. If we let Titus deal with people they usually say, "Oh, how nice...awkward grin slowly move on about your business."
I really have a pet peeve with people who assume they are welcome in your life. I don't' really need them to comment on the contents of my cart, or the number of children I have, or the way in which our boys like to sing--loudly as they shop. I don't care if your grandson who lives in Florida that you only see at Christmas is into the dinosaur that my son happens to like. Just because I shop at the same store or may be stuck in the same check out line does not mean that we'll be swapping recipes and sending cards. I'm totally ok with the, "your kids are really cute." or the smiles fired my way, but the intrusive, I know you must care what I have to say attitudes really get all over me.
One of the most fun times Kendra and I had in recent years was once at Wal-Mart. We were shopping and had discovered that there was a beach towel in our cart. It was obviously plucked from the shelves by Chubbers or Titus and thrown in the cart. We didn't want to retrace our steps and put it back, but noticed a cart that looked like the carts clerks use to put things back that shoppers didn't want. So we dropped the towel in the cart. Turns out it was the cart of another shopper. The dialogue that sprang from that towel was hilarious. "Did you put that towel in here?" "No, I didn't." "Where did it come from?" "I don't' know you must have put it in there, if you want a towel just get it." "I don't and didn't put it in there." "Well, it just didn't hop in the basket by itself." "I DIDN'T PUT THE TOWEL IN THE CART!" "Ok, we need a new one anyway, just get it." "It is nice." It was hard to stalk those people through the store and not draw attention to ourselves. We laughed and laughed that day, and still do. If you are ever bored at Wal-Mart try it, you won't be sorry.
I'm not sure it will get any easier, at least I'm telling myself that to keep my expectations as zero. That way if there is ever an time when it is better I'll be pleasantly surprised. That it could get worse is a constantly looming threat for me. It can, it will, I just hope it isn't today.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Put your eyes back in your head!

I'm obsessing and organizing a Spring cleaning for the Children's wing at my church on Saturday. I've been surprised at how many people called with their regrets when the tone of their voice showed no sign of remorse whatsoever hmmm? I'm sure there will be some who show up and there will others who do not show up. I learned a long time a go to get over those who don't participate and just be glad that the ones who do--do.
I had to go to the World's largest retailer to buy supplies. I wanted to get six buckets (found the cheapest ones in the car washing section by the automotive department) to make six complete sets of "cleaning" duke. Six bottles of Windex, Six bottles of Spic and Span, Six sponges, Six Magic Erase things, Six rolls of paper towels, and a pack for extra unplanned needs. I also had to buy beverages. You cannot have a church anything without food it's just not allowed. I also had to get some crayons and markers to replace the itty bitty bits of crayons and dried up markers our children attempt to use now. Bought all the crayons they had and all the markers they had. By the time I had all of that stuff my cart was full. As I was wandering through the housewares department to try and uncover more secret bucket stashes I noticed something--I was being watched. I was the object of gawkers!
People all over the store were staring at my cart in sheer amazement. What on earth are all of those bottles of Windex and spic and span for? Sodas...towels...butt-load of crayons...butt-load of markers...good lord what is all of that stuff. When they were caught gawking at my stash I would get this quick grin of, "oh hello, I...uh...I...was...uh...I...just...staring at your cart as if it were strange that you were actually here to buy something." It was like that all over the place. the women would stare it all down and calculate whether or not there was a store sale going on or whether or not there was going to be a run on the supplies I was stocking up on--what with all this hub bub about the new time change fiasco. Should they scamper to the departments I had just been too and stock up as well?... The men would not turn their head, only their eyes. Men try to be the most stealth about it. After about 8:00 pm all of the men shopping at Wallyworld wear those horrible plastic slip-on sandals. I would call them shower shoes for lack of a better term. No comfort whatsoever and absolutely no support. There they are walking around Wallyworld behind their dear wife pushing their goods and thanking God they would not have to load what I was carrying in their car. I found an amazing deal on these really nice drawer organizers in the housewares area. $5 for these $10 fabric lined three-section drawer organizers. Much better for the pen, pencil, and other duke organization that the plastic cups we use now.
My cart completely full and almost a disaster I decided I had done enough damage and should just go checkout. When I rule the world: If you have a store with 57 lanes--every stinking lane had better be open! If you don't plan on opening all 57 lanes then don't have them! I think out of the 57 lanes there were four open. That meant huge lines at every one. I found one gal who was on top of her game and checking out fast. She was young and clearly had her groove. She was not hitting any scanning snags and could actually have a conversation with people and not stop scanning your duke. I hate when check out people start trying to be your friend and forget to check you out. I'm not there to be your friend I'm there to just buy my duke and go home.
I ask the check out gal if she could ring up tax-exempt. "No sir, we don't do that unless you have a cared...Do you have a card?" "No, I don't." " you want to put this all back or what?" Stunned to silence. I was going to let $24 stand in my way of an hour and half of shopping at Wallyworld getting gawkraped by every other shopper in the store? "Uh--no I'll take it and just eat the Tax." " are you going to do some cleaning?" She was hitting every check out person pet peeve I have. I cannot stand when a check out person tries to solve the mystery of why you are buying what you are buying. It just makes me cringe almost as much as when a person pulls out in front of you when you are the only car on the road and stops 10 feet down to make a turn. FIRE UP THE ROCKET LAUNCHER! "No, I'm organizing a spring cleaning day at my church." "Oh dat's nice, you a preacher of something." "yes..." "What's the church where you preach at?" I told her and quickly started loading up my duke. I didn't want to give her any more opportunities to engage.
She was about through counting the crayon boxes when an old hag and her two fat--we are living at home til we get on our feet--grown children showed up. They smelled of stale smoke, had clearly blown all of their pay checks at the Indian casino and were suddenly miffed at my large purchase. My Robba smoked every day of her life and never smelled of stale smoke! It can be done! The yellow-haired granny just kept looking at my stuff and rolling her eyes toward me with a huff. I just looked at her and smiled. If I had been given the gift of laser vision there would have been a clean-up on aisle 47--ZAP. You know if you don't want to wait to buy your cheap no skid work shoes and pack of cig's then go to a lane that isn't mine. Don't' huff at me like I forced you to stand behind me. You have free will. You chose to wear that stuffed flannel shirt as a jacket and didn't take the time to get out of your grass stained mowing shoes to come to Wallyworld. You can walk to another lane and get checked out faster so you can go home and fight over who gets to eat the last pork chop. I purposely engaged the checker out gal just to add seconds to my time in line. It was small victory. If I couldn't use laser vision to zap then that was the next best thing.
Why is it that you can load your cart and have everything fit, but check it out and you can't get everything to fit? I just don't get that at all. I could probably get a government grant to study that if I had the where with all to do it. It's always amazed me.
I am a confessed gawker, not at the contents of the cart but at the pushers of the carts. I love the list folks who go up and down ever aisle and have their coupon book in hand. I love the man who has made his second trip of a lifetime to Wallyworld to get things he has not clue about. Salsa...DEAR GOD there is an entire aisle dedicated to Salsa! What will I do? Just love that. The aimless wandering lost man--priceless. My hands down favorite is the man who is not comfortable buying feminine hygiene products. I will trail his butt until he checks out just to enjoy the show. No eye contact what so ever. The flippant toss onto the belt. Hurried stance. Quick drug glances to make sure that no one they know is there. And this desire to tell the check out person, "these aren't for me...they are for my wife...she needs them and I said I would go get some...she...I...nice shirt. Is that a wolf howling at the moon?" Oh how I love it. I just love it. I would love so much for the check out gal to announce over the intercom a price check and have all of the TV's in the place show a live feed from that check out lane--the man, the box of tampons, and the sheer terror of being noticed on his face. LOVE IT! I could watch that all day. I also love watching children retrieve toys they know their parents will not let them have but still try to get them to say yes. Love that exchange too.
It's a people watchers dream to go to wallyworld. No greater show on earth!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big ol' ball of awkward

Poppa is coming to take the number one son fishing this weekend. He is picking Titus up from school and then they will spend the night and go fishing on Friday. Titus is all ready to go and couldn't talk about anything else but that this morning on the way to school. He was going through his mental check list of things that needed to be taken so he could feel as much at home as possible. Snacks--check. Toys--check. Dragon--check. (Dragon is Titus' imaginary dog who came to life in the form of a Build-A-Bear dog. He loves that dog so much and enjoys his company at bedtime.) Fishing clothes--check. Hat--check. We went through all sorts of contingencies that needed to have a plan, just in case.
Hearing my son talk about his trip to Poppa's with excitement and anticipation took me back to my trips to Robba's. I loved to go to my Robba's house and looked for any chance to go up there and stay. I could usually manage a Friday night through Sunday afternoon trip if I played my cards right. When Robba wasn't working she would come pick me up from school and take me home with her for the weekend. To me, that was condensed joy right there. Me and my Robba all alone just loving being together. I'm sure I won't be able to get through this stroll down memory lane without shedding a tear or two because I miss her as much today as I did the day I kissed her goodbye at her funeral (I think I was about 10 0r 11 when I lost her, 6th grade). When you lose someone you love there is a never filled hole left in your heart. You can feel the love, the warmth of relationship, the closeness that you shared but surrounding all of that is the black hole of loneliness that surrounds those emotions and taps you on the shoulder reminding you that those times and those days are gone and never again to be relived. I just hate losing someone I love, I hate it, hate it, hate it.
Robba was my great aunt. My Mom was raised by her grandmother, Granny, and thus I grew up knowing all of my Mom's aunts and uncles as mine. She does have one brother whom I've met twice in non-funeral settings and at all of the funerals for my family. He is a funeral relative. Robba took care of me as a baby, Mom went to work when I was one, and she and I bonded. She was a bone-thing skinny mini. She had a round face and sandy brown hair cut short and forced into submission by Aqua Net. She usually wore white keds, capri pants and sleeveless cotton shirts. Robba was a smoker and usually had a cigarette burning or in her hand. She rolled her own cigarettes and would have rolling days. I would always sit at the table and watch in utter amazement at how she could roll those cigarettes. Bugler papers in a light blue wrapper. One paper a pinch of Prince Albert tobacco then this magical lick, roll fold technique and viola--cigarette. She would make dozens of those things in a bout an hour and store them in the empty tins so they wouldn't crush. I can still close my eyes and hear the paper sizzling as it was burning.
Going to her house meant all kinds of things to me. I am a huge worrier and was especially bad as a kid. Any kind of change in my normal routine would throw me into a tail spin of awkwardness and make me this tensed up ball of awkward. I would worry myself into a stomach ache and have to camp out near a bathroom worrying myself sick. As a kid who planned for contingencies (such as night time home invasions or storms) I would always think through all of the possible contingencies of what could happen. It usually all started when I began to worry about how I would be picked up. My school was about a mile long and had several doors that you could enter. I would always worry that Robba would be parked at one door and I would be at another. She would wait, and wait then give up and go home leaving me stranded. Oh, the worry. Once I came to believe that she was going to be at the right spot the next dilemma was what to pack. I would get all keyed up about a sudden onset of diarrhea that would soil my clothes. To tell my Robba about this would have been awkward and embarrassing so I would need to have a plan to change clothes and get rid of the old clothes before anyone noticed. I usually planned for at least one change of clothes per day I was gone and then at least one pair of emergency underwear just in case. My two-day trip would usually involved me packing about 5 changes of clothes.
Any trip was like that. Any change of plan and you could guarantee that I was going to get all keyed up. Dentist trips, doctors visits, going to the grocery then Wal-Mart was enough to send me over the edge. Test day at school, gym. Gym was an everyday completely horrible experience. That's a whole blog in and of itself. Let me just say the public nudity with 35 other boys is enough to me to wrapped in a straight jacket rocking back and forth in padded room somewhere.
I never worried at Robba's house though. It was just pure relaxed freedom. I always had a bag of powdered donuts waiting for me and would usually get the whole bag eaten by the end of the weekend. Robba's house also meant going to Dairy Queen. We each ordered Peanut Buster Parfaits. I always ordered first, "Peanut buster parfait, please--no nuts." "I'll have a Peanut Buster Parfait too, and his nuts." What a team. We loved eating those things together. Even though she was a diabetic Robba always enjoyed the food she wanted to enjoy. Summer time meant a can of Redi-whip, hostess shortcakes, and a bowl of strawberries macerating in the fridge. I liked my strawberry shortcake sans the strawberries. Sometimes I would pour some of that simple strawberry syrup on the cake then add the whipped cream.
The ride back to my house was always horrible. I can remember Sunday morning getting that melancholy lonely feeling because I knew I was leaving my Robba. I wanted to wait until the last dog was hung before we left for home. All the way to my house I would talk non-stop as I would never ever see her again. The whole time I was with her in that blue AMC Hornet I was lonely for her longing to be with her just another day, another hour. As the wheels crunched the gravel on our driveway I would just look at my house and know it was a place where My Robba wasn't. I hated watching her drive away, back to her life, back to the place I loved so much.
My awkwardness in getting ready for a trip is a good thing now, as a minister. There isn't much that slips by me, let me tell you. I have planned for just about everything. I carry a first aid kit if I"m going across the building. In a way I'm glad I have that awkwardness gene, it's no fun at parties or in new situations, but it does help me in being prepared for whatever.
I hope that you have had someone in your life who loved you for who you were without reservation or judgement. Someone who longed to be with you as much as you longed to be with them. Robba and I could sit on her porch in the sweltering August heat and drink sweet tea from our sweaty glasses and just do nothing but bask in the glow of togetherness and love being together. That was how it was with my Robba. As I write this I can hear her laughing right now and see her rearing back her head and letting those perfectly white false teeth shine in the sun as she laughed with her whole body. Tears running down her face, slapping her leg to brace herself for more laughing, more fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The plight of mowing

I hated mowing as a boy. I know it is a right of passage that all boys should take up mowing in the summer to make a measly sum of money and thus be inspired to become an entrepreneur. I was totally happy being a couch potato. I have a love hate relationship with mowers. At home I was able to escape the mowing curse because I had a brilliant plan, executed it and watched the whole thing sing--beautiful. You see my Dad is a perfectionist. Ultra perfectionist. When he vacuums, the lines are perfectly straight and you really can't walk on the carpet because it makes the lines all messed up (think about that one). Mowing was the same thing, exactly perfect lines. He had would mow in perfectly straight lines and loved the look of a manicured yard. When it came time for me to mow the yard I cringed. That all worked out when I got the plan. If I could mow in crooked lines and act like I was really, really trying then I would be evicted from yard mowing. Dad always had to start the mower because I couldn't manage to get the thing started. Dad always wanted me to start in the back yard. He would lurk about critiquing my every move and yelping at me. "Straighten up those lines! It's crooked!" After about two passes, I could tell that he was getting to the breaking point, that's when the secret weapon was unleashed. I had no other choice, if I were going to get out of mowing and get back to my programs which were calling my name--I had to pull out all the stops. A missed patch of grass, that's right one tiny little patch of unmown yard in a crooked line--"Stop...what are you thinking. You missed a spot...just give me the mower." "DAD! I.." "It's all wrong. Just let me do it, go in the house." Fortunately for me fathers are immune to the things that children do behind their backs, had he known I was smiling all the way into the air conditioned comfort of my den I would have been in big trouble. Mom's have that "snot radar" that can seek out and find a kid being a snot. "Wipe that look off your face." She wasn't even looking at me! How do Mom's do that?
I did secure two mowing jobs one summer that I dreaded like the plague. I mowed the yard for a sweet, sweet lady names Marie Cope. She was the matriarch of an influential family in the town and at church. One of her sons owned the only newspaper in town. She lived in a beautiful part of my small town. He house was a tiny white house. Inside the house always smelled like sugar cookies and moth balls. I wouldn't vote that for the next Yankee Candle scent, but in her house it just worked. Her floors were all hard wood and shone like marble. Everything in her house was immaculate and in perfect place. She suffered from debilitating arthritis and crochet to keep her hands from totally seizing up. She had to work her hands every day or they would stop working. She crocheted hangers and gave them out to everyone. The fact that I agreed to mow her yard was enough testimony to my love for her. I hated it. It wasn't a bad yard to mow, no hills, not exposed tree roots or pesky yard art. Just a beautiful green yard with two trees and pretty flower beds that changed with the seasons. I did have my moments mowing her yard though. If the mower ever stopped working I would have to go inside and call my Dad to come start the mower again. I always hated that. Once I mowed over a chain thinking I could skim right over it and not have to stop, risking the mower shut down, and pick it up. NO such luck! Whamo, the chain wrapped around the mower. Dad was not happy at all. He kept mumbling something about a rod and smoke. The new mower worked much better and I could actually start that one.
The other yard was for one of Marie's sons. His yard was a bugger. It was built into a hill and had all kinds of hazards. Much of the yard was tree covered so the grass didn't really grow, just the weeds. As you mowed over those passages I felt like I was walking into a wood chipper. I didn't mow that yard much because it really hurt. I think I made up something like my allergies were bothering me and stuff like that. It was probably a relief to them that I didn't mow the yard. I didn't do a good job at all.
As I look out in my yard now and see the brown grass of yesteryear about to give way to the new grass of spring, I cringe. I long for the funds to get my yard mowed by professionals who actually bought into the entrepreneurial vision of their youth. Those who mow with effort, can use a weed eater to trim the edge of the yard to exact perfection, and then get out their blower and erase the evidence that the yard was even cut, save the pretty grassy lawn. I love a mowed yard, just hate the getting to it and getting it done part. Fortunately my summers are crazy busy and I usually wind up getting two months worth of mowing done which is heaven. Love those folks who can mow.
My boys will likely get the privilege of mowing our yard. Of course I'll be totally comfortable with the crooked lines and missed patches of grass. Been there done that, wrote the book!

I was just about to post this when I remembered a funny Lucy-mowing story. Lucy loves to mow, she gets that from my Dad I guess. When she got married and set up her own house she took up the task of mowing the yard. My Dad went by to see her once while she was mowing the yard and came home to tell me this hysterical story of Lucy's mowing wardrobe. Apparently she didn't want to miss a phone call or miss the baby crying so she would put on a belt, one of her husbands, and clip on the cordless phone and the monitor. Like some star trek ensign on duty. I still love to get her with that one.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Field of Dreams

Today I feel like a prize-fighter who took all of the punches to his face. Spring has a vicious affect on me with my allergies. On my way into work this morning I was reminded about other spring things that begin to happen which are not my favorite things: little league baseball, and mowing lawns.
When I was seven I joined a little league baseball team and really don't know why I did that. It might have been something that my Dad thought was a great idea. Mind you we never played catch out in the yard or even attempted any sport for that matter. Dad is a tinkerer and likes to keep to himself. I spent most of my days outside in the imagine nation. Always lost in some sort of play. I cannot remember how me and baseball came connected that ill-fated spring, but it happened.
My baseball playing skills were nill. I could not hit the ball, the ball was very good at hitting me however, tended to duck and cover if a ball came my way, and thought it redundant to run bases. I was already where I needed to be, why would I have to run away from that place only to try and get back there. If I managed to hit the ball that should be good enough, give me a point and let's move on down the road.
Every time I went to practice I can remember standing in the outfield longing for it to be over. When I was out there all alone I would always go to another place, a much happier place. Some fat bumble bee would be clumsily making his way through life, or some lady bug would be away from home tending to the business of the day. Clover patches were great for the basic insect viewing population. "Spoon! SPOON! Get in here." Is the typical call that brought me back to reality. Dad stayed in the tuck and read the paper. Looking back I wonder if he stayed in the truck and hid behind the paper. I was really bad, really bad.
On one occasion at practice I was determined to hit that ball. As I stood at home, feet firmly planted, eyes peeled to the coach, hands gripping the bat with steeled determination. When I assumed the "hitting" stance I reared back a little too much and whacked myself in the head with the bat. The bat I was holding. Yes, I hit myself with the bat. It hurt like crazy. Coaches don't really like you to take your base when you have hit yourself with a bat. Even though the rules clearly state that, "if a player is hit they take a base." Not a banner day on the field of dreams let me tell you.
Games were a different story. I was in the outfield right behind first base, whatever part of the field that is. I can tell you that nothing comes your way--NOTHING. I stood out there playing in the grass, picking dandelions, watching the creek across the street babble a long. Just about anything that didn't involved paying attention to the game. I don't' think I ever fielded one thing. I never played any other position either, just that lonely spot behind first base. The coach would usually hit some pop flies for the outfield to keep us warm. When it came my turn he would just wave me in. I loved his graciousness.
There were times that I had to go up to bat. I really hated to bat because all eyes were on me. I didn't like to have any attention drawn to myself and this was not the position I longed to be in. As I would come up for my turn, coach would wrap his arm around my shoulders and say, "lean in son, lean in." By leaning in I would guarantee a hit. The ball hitting me and me taking a base. I can remember a couple of games where I managed to get a few of the runners into home by this "lean in" trick at the plate. Oh the running, I really hated the running. Baseball is just not my game.
There were two great things about little league though, Dairy Queen and 10th inning. We always ate at Dairy Queen before the games, that meant delicious coney dogs, ice cream, and fries washed down with root beer. After the game and we all lined up and walked past our team mates giving "five" and saying, "good game." We got a free canteen drink. I always, always got the suicide. Boys love to create things that are totally revolting and then eat them. For me it was mixing all of the drinks together and chugging away. That free suicide was all I needed to make the experience of playing ball worth it.
I have returned to the field of dreams to watch other little leaguers play and enjoy that very much. I mostly watch the parents, and the child who is ceremonially holding up the spot behind first base. It's great. The parents in the stands act as if there is a pennant on the line or their child's career is at stake. It's just a game, let them play and have fun for heaven sake. Parents are yelling at the other children, griping at the coaches, hollering at the referee, or is it umpire--they wear the black and white outfits. I just can't believe some of those parents. There is always that one team that has taken it to the limit. They all wear the team shirts, have bumper stickers, and tailgate parties for their 2nd grader's game. It drives me crazy.
The only other sport I love more that little league is soccer. I love to watch toddlers play soccer because they all run to where ever the ball is--priceless. Children just want to play. They wear white pants that are made to grab and retain as much dirt as possible, then slide into the dirt and not get into trouble. There must be some special dirt shipped in that is made just for baseball fields that is the most stubborn, stain-release fighting element on the planet. In addition to being absolutely filthy and not get in trouble, they can scratch what ever needs scratching, adjust what ever is out of place, spit, and wipe out in public and not get in trouble. It's just baseball. What boy wouldn't want to play baseball?
I guess as long as there are little boys and now girls whose parents are convinced they have the next baseball super star on hand there will be little league baseball. I am sure I will be a parent watching my children out there. Thank God my two boys didn't come from my gene pool--that means they have a chance! I just hope I can stay calm, cool, and collected at least until another parent yells at my kid, then I'm taking a bat and going CAPONE!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ravioli Lasagna

I made this great ravioli lasagna on Thursday for Lucy, KL, and the boys. It's a really great dish, you should try this one, you will love it. I found the inspiration for this recipe from a woman's day recipe using Italian sausage and ravioli. That was all I needed to get my inspiration to do what I wanted to do to make it my own. I hope you do the same. I'm very much a pantry cook, I don't keep much fresh stuff on hand which explains the ingredients, you could use fresh onion and garlic if you wanted to.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage ( I use Jimmy Dean Italian)
1 T. Onion Powder
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Italian Seasoning
3 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
10 oz. jar Prego Ricotta Parmesan spaghetti sauce
10 oz jar Ragu Alfredo sauce
1 pound of Sargento, grated Provolone Mozzarella cheese
Family size bag frozen Ravioli with cheese and spinach or plain. (My pan needs thirty, 15 for each layer)
Fill a large stock pot with water and put stove to boil. If you cover the pot the water will boil faster. In a medium size skillet, fry meats until just brown. About five six minutes. Add drained mushrooms, seasoning, powders, salt and pepper and stir together. Cook two or three minutes more until the meat is browned. Add the jars of sauce and reduce heat to medium low and simmer to reduce. Your water should be boiling by now. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the ravioli and boil 15 minutes. While the ravioli is boiling, your sauce will thicken. This is a good time to get your salad made. When the ravioli floats, cook for about two minutes more then drain.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get your 9x13 pan ready. Add 1/3 of your meat mixture to the pan, spread evenly. Place fifteen ravioli evenly on top of the sauce, then 1/3 more of the sauce. cover that with half of the cheese. Add 15 more of the ravioli, remaining sauce and remaining cheese. I sprinkled Parmesan over the whole thing and lightly sprinkled the dried Italian seasoning over just for color. Bake for about 30 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. If time is not your friend kick up the oven to 400 that willI like my cheese very brown and crisp. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. so it can set up.
Serve with a salad and garlic toast. Just super. I did buy some sun-dried tomato basil bread from Panera Bread company and made garlic cheese bread with it. Simple. Melt about four tablespoons of butter and brush each slice with butter. Sprinkle with garlic salt and lightly sprinkle about a 1/4 cup cheese over all the slices ( buttered nine slices).
This picture is from the Woman's day article. I'm shortbus when it comes to taking my own photos. I am going to get better, dust off my digital camera and get my own photos going. this picture will give you the idea though.
Do try it's so good.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Mac Attack

Have you ever looked back on a painful chapter in your life and gazed into that chapter pain-free? If you have then you will most likely remember a lot of good things about that chapter as well as the really, really painful parts. Such is the case with the Deer Creek chapter of my life. It had intense pain, character challenging opposition, and heart wrenching betrayal--but it was also a wonderful and fantastic period in the same breath.
Deer Creek was a church began in an affluent, country suburb of Oklahoma City. It was very close to Edmond and Piedmont. People could build large homes on large lots, but had to drive to church. That was until Mac Layton, who was a developer in the Deer Creek area as well as a church planter, elder, minister, oh yes, and Jerk of all trades came along and started a church in his home. There were three or four "good" families who attended. To be considered a "good family" by Mac you either had to have a truck load of cash or tireless energy and dedication to work for the church free of charge. If you had both, well then you weren't just good you were a "sweet" family.
Deer Creek grew larger than the Layton home could accommodate so plans were made to move to the High School. Arrangements made Deer Creek met in the Cafeteria on Sunday mornings and in the Library on Sunday nights. Land was purchased and a building was in the works. The only thing they needed was a full-time Minister to work for this start up church. Darrel Rickard had agreed to come out of retirement and the the Pulpit Minister, and he came after the one person he knew who could "do the job." Me. I agreed to join my mentor in this endeavor and thus began the chapter of Deer Creek.
It was quaint working for this church because I had never worked for a church in this type of situation before. Until you have a Children's worship service in the A/V closet of an High school--you haven't lived! I officed for about six months out of Mac's home and didn't do much but reconnect with my old friend Donna. That's right, Mildred. She, her husband, and beautiful number on son had moved back to town and were building their home and new life. Part of that new life meant helping get the Deer Creek church off the ground.
As the building came along and final stages were being worked out I did things that most ministers would not consider in their job description. I did construction work. Nothing tedious, mind you, just construction work. Probably the kind of work assigned to people at construction sites that cannot be trusted with power tools or off the ground. I scraped the concrete floors until they were smooth as glass. Sweeping, scraping, sweeping, scraping. Painting, sweeping scraping, laying sod, sweeping, scraping.
Mac was there everyday overseeing the construction and making sure that it was done to his specifications and liking. He was a control freak and managed the construction of this church with an iron fist. He was also a tornado. He would blow in, destroy, and blow out. I can still hear the sound of his '82 Suburban shifting into park before it came to a complete stop and my heart will start beating fast and at times I break a sweat.
As much as I believe Mac personified evil in this world, there were some times that he had me flat rolling on the floor laughing hysterically at his bumbling deeds. Remember the tornado, blow in, blow out. First. When our cabinetry was installed in the kitchen it came without knobs. I was to be at work by 8 am sharp everyday, at 8:05 I was getting phones calls. I came to work one morning and walked in the door only find that Mac had been there all morning "working." As I walked in he whisked by power drill and knobs in hand, "Hey buddy, good morning." I'm sure that is what every lioness says to her prey right before devouring it. ZZZT...ZZZT...ZZZT...ZZZZT "Will come check this out." "What do you think? Nice knobs huh?" He had assembled all of the knobs on the cabinets in about 15 minutes-a record as far as I was concerned. "Looks great Mac, the Ladies will love it." As I tried to open the cabinet using this newly attached appendage it wouldn't budge. "Uh...Mack...the knobs aren't working." He had attached every single knob on the hinged side of the cabinet--every single one! When confronted with an embarrassing or confrontational moment Mac always cleared his throat. Not knowing how to exactly spell a throat clearing sound (I think I got the drill sound down, don't you?) you'll have to use your imagination. "[clear throat] Well what do you know about that. This is embarrassing." No, it's flat out hilarious! I nearly broke my neck making my way to the office to call Mildred. "You are not going to believe what happened..." To this day you can still see the poorly repaired cabinetry, just one of the many scars of Mac Layton.
The second occasion really personified the unbelievable tornadoishness of Mac. Every church of Christ must have a baptistery. We believe in immersion upon confession of ones sins. The baptistery at Deer Creek was replete with a bathroom and two changing rooms. It really was a nice space. The bathroom door did not have a locking door knob--Mack to the rescue. I was working in the church building by this time and was in my office. It was morbidly quiet in that church, you could hear a mouse flatulate from a 100 yards. There were times that eerie, creepy silence got the better of me. As I was working in the office I could hear this banging sound. Mack was in house and there was absolutely no telling what he was doing. Bang, Bang. Bang. I rose to see what he was up to when I could hear him yelling, "Will...Will..." "Mack? where are you?" "In the baptistery, come here." Mack had attached the door knob with a locking mechanism--backwards. He had locked himself into a bathroom whose knob he had installed! I wish you could see the tears running down my face--it is still that funny! Oh how I wanted to leave him in that bathroom--he's still be banging on that dang door!
There were many, many other tornado stories that really made living with this evil man worthwhile. Mildred and I can still tell Mac stories and laugh until our stomach's hurt. My time with the Deer Creek church was great and I miss many, many, many of the things about it. Everything that happened there was for a reason and helped me be the minister I am today. Were it not for Deer Creek the friendship that I have with Mildred would not have happened, so it is definitely worth all the tornadoes that blew through my life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Body Whisperer

Yesterday morning, number one Son was being defiant. He is quite proficient at being defiant and has really mastered it. Number one Son loves to get stuff out and build stuff, but not redo what he's scattered. He has ample energy to malign but seems to tucker out at the thought of putting back what his Mom and I feel is right. For the boys, they are comfortable in mess. If our home were atop a scrap yard they would feel right at home. There are times I feel like I"m living in a scrap yard as there is "scrap" everywhere. I'm sure Teensy will be a scrapper too, she's taking notes and watches very intently when her bro's on their missions of destruction and defilement.
Number one Son had scattered robe belts, braided belts, shoes, animals, and other ephemera from this room all over our room. Mommy had told him three times to pick up his things and take them upstairs without response or reaction from Number one Son. He was very busy watching Public Television and living with Clifford at the time and just couldn't tear himself away from Treasure Island. After all he had seen that episode at least ten times and just couldn't miss the "good parts." After the third extol from Mom it was time to bring in the big guns--DADDY. I told him twice with out response or reaction. "Titus, this is the last time I'm going to ask you nicely to pick up all of this stuff and get it to your room."....Nothing. All of the card were on the table and it was time to put up or shut up. I had to put up.
As I walked over to him like Oprah through the corn field he snapped back to Oklahoma and said, "Dad I am thinking about it. I'm just not ready to do what I want you to do. I want to do what I want to do." Too late I had him by his left arm and was lifting him out of the chair, then gave him a swat when--SNAP! I popped my neck! As he walked away destroyed by my correction but more by his defeat I stood in sheer and utter pain. The right side of my neck had seized up and was killing me. He was over his trauma by the time he back from upstairs, me I was walking around like Frankenstein in agony.
I knew I couldn't survive this and called my Chiropractor. I have just started going to the Chiropractor, right before Teensy was born. It's a bizarre field of medicine. My Chiropractor is a member of our church and a nice guy. He walks with the natural medicine, let your body talk to you field of healing. He did help me with back pain, and I was hopeful that he would be able to help me with this issue. "What's the problem--oh I see your neck." His office is an old Dentist office that was built in the late 40's early 50's by the standard old Dentist office setup. It still smells of "dentist" when you walk in and has that old nostalgic musty smell that people who love old things love to inhale. I really like the office and especially love the "old smell."
"Let's see what muscles need my help." He asked me to hold out my left arm and not let him push it down. As he started rattling off these geographic locations on my body, some would make my arm fall some wouldn't He knew exactly where to go from there. "Let me get the laser." LASER? He has this new fangaled laser that communicates with your body's light and corrects the problem by giving it the right light. See I don't' get it, and can't even begin to explain how in the world it works. It just blows me away. After several minutes of laser therapy, stretching, an ill fated crack which hurt like a motha' he said, "Sherrie get me a tens unit." What was going to happen next. The body whisperer had something up his sleeve. I didn't think I was going to like it. I think I failed to mention that I really don't care for any kind of rubbing or touching in a massage kind of way--PERIOD. The Body Whisperer's main mode of treatment involves lots of rubbing and a complete and total violation of my personal space.
This tens unit is machine about the size of a deck of cards that attaches to your belt. There is a plug in which has wires that lead to two triscuit size squares of electrodes which are applied to your ailing body parts. As his nurse stuck those things on the affected area she said, "OK, just tell me when you feel this." I felt it immediately, it was wretched. This machine sends constant pulses of electricity into your body and contracts the muscles, over and over and over. "Now Will, wear this all night tonight, don't sleep in it and don't take a shower in it. Why was it necessary to mention that you shouldn't shower in it? I got that default! How many people did it take for that to be part of the, "how to use the device which sends electricity into your body" speech. That is filed away in my memory drawer of the Huh file. Among the other things in this drawer: Who was the first person to see a cow, notice the udder and think, "I want to suck the liquid out of that and drink it." Or see a chicken watch it excrete an oval ball out and say, "I'm cracking that for lunch." Stuff like that. I wore the thing with trepidation knowing it would draw attention to me which I didn't want and more not wanting to reveal how it happened. That's always the first question.
During my stay in the office The Body Whisperer's nurse began talking about her baby. . She is very pregnant and expecting a baby in May. She is over forty and had not plans to add to her family--in fact believed that she could not have children at all. It was a total surprise to her the she was pregnant but, she had more than 24 hours notice though so no sympathy from me. She was talking about raising her baby on goats milk, kind of bizarre but then, "I would really like to use horse's milk. They sell powdered horse milk at the feed store and I've been thinking about that." Thank God I was lying on a table because I would have fallen over dead on the ground. Powdered horse milk from a feed store? ...for a human baby! What the...? I'm just not even in that realm of thinking. Very strange. Very strange.
The neck it somewhat better today, but still recovering. I have to go back on Friday and get another adjustment and laser therapy. There will be a new sense of creepiness in that office now, I'll have a squinted, half cocked confused speculation look on my minds eye. The first sign of a chicken foot and I'm gone!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A dunk without trunks

One Wednesday night in September of 1982 I was baptized. In the church of Christ you are baptized when you reach the ambiguous age of accountability. No one "tells" you it's time to get baptized you just come to know it. Much like salmon know instinctively to swim upstream at just the right time, church of Christ folks just know when to get baptized. My story of course involves many, many awkward moments peppered with intense fear. Most children tell their parents they are thinking about it, talk to their teacher or preacher--not me too awkward. How on earth could I let someone know that I was thinking something so intensely personal and draw attention to myself. I just couldn't do it.
Wednesday night's at Hillcrest meant many things. First it meant going on an hour long bus ride on the gospel chariot. My Dad drove Gospel Chariot #3. The Pope rides in a Mercedes--church of Christ kids in a 1962 converted bus painted green. This bus was near death and the fact that we made it to and from the church each week was truly amazing. The heater never worked and air conditioning was lowering the windows that had not rusted shut. All of the seats were metal frames with screwed on upholstered cushions. Most of the cushions vinyl was peeling, cracking, or exposing it's guts. There is an unavoidable urge to pick at the foam on the seat and leave the bus peppered with the debris of your obsession. We picked up the Gage kids, Reynolds, and five other kids. The Gage's and Reynolds were related, both lived in deplorable conditions and always unclean, unkempt, and somewhat smelly. The Reynolds smelled of clabbered milk and sweat, the Gage's smelled of bacon fat and clabbered milk mixed in with a top note of sweat. There were five Gage children and six Reynolds coupled with the five other children and we were loaded.
Wednesday night also meant abandoning our post on the North side and attending "the other side" of the building. We always sat, South side sixth pew from the front right by the first huge buttress that held up the roof. On Wednesday night you went straight to class followed by a devo, song, and prayer. By the time we returned to the building to park the bus it was pushing 9:00 p.m.
This particular Wednesday night in September we were standing to sing the invitation, you always stand to sing the invitation in the church of Christ for some reason, and I found myself inching past my Dad, Grandma, and Mom to go forward. I can remember thinking to myself, "I can't believe I'm doing this, everyone is looking at me, maybe I should just jet to the bathroom--God I can't let people know I go to the BATHROOM! I'll just get baptized." As I made my way to greet the preacher, Don, He smiled and sat me on the front pew. "What's on your mind, son?" "I am ready for baptism." "You are?....Well do you believe that Jesus is the son of God?" "Yes, I believe that." "Well, then that's all it takes." Song sung, Don stood up. "Be seated, tonight we are thrilled that this young man...[quick look to see who this was again] Bill- I mean Will is coming forward to confess his faith and surrender to the Lord in baptism." That's when it hit me--I was prolonging a service!
Baptisms meant at least three more songs, a prayer, and the actual dunking. I was always a little miffed that it took so long and didn't end on time and here I was the miffer. As the congregation began to sing the first of two "get ready" songs Don said," son just go back there and in to the closet and get ready. When you are ready just climb the stairs and we'll get you baptized." O...K...what door? What room? What do I do? I found the room, which was the custodial closet. Saw the baptism garment and stood there staring at it. It was a vinyl, plastic stiff jumpsuit all white. I didn't know much but I did know that when things get wet that are white you may as well not be wearing anything at all.
As I began to get undressed I realized the this jumpsuit didn't come with underwear. I couldn't get baptized without underwear, but if I did wear my underwear I wouldn't be able to wear them home which I couldn't go commando! What to do...What to do...second song is almost over and I am not even dressed yet. Oh Lord...what to do? I finally decided to go commando in the jumpsuit. Oh Lord, Lord, Lord I was getting baptized completely naked and without underwear!
The baptism water was very warm, like tub water. And when I stood in the water no one could see me because I was too little. Don said a bunch of stuff about sin and how everyone is a sinner bound for hell unless they do like me and get baptized. He squeezed my neck, asked me the same question about my belief in the Lord and then slammed me into the water. Up I came a new creature. A wet, naked, child of God with a super soaked white jump suit showing off all my creation!
After I got dressed and made my way outside there was a crowd of people standing around waiting to hug my neck. I did not want that kind of attention. I remember one guy hugging me and crying on my shoulder. He had a huge wad of skoal in his mouth and was infecting my breathing space with skoal funk. It was so disgusting. I can still remember his nasty skoal breath and tobacco stained lips with the tiny bits of tobacco in the corners of his mouth and hanging from his untrimmed mustache. The rest were kids and the old lady's of the church who were hugging me. I really wished every lady in the church wore the same cologne because when they all come onto one person they do not make a good smell--better than skoal breath though.
Had I known the kind of attention this very personal, between me and God, event would have brought upon me I would have held off until my death bed. That one event caused me to be a designated prayer give in class at family dinners, serve communion on Sunday night, work on Saturday at the church with the other "men" of the church. Holy Cow it was a huge thing to be baptized. Geez!
To this day I do not baptized people that I don't warn them to bring trunks for the dunking.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Something wicked this way comes

Growing up at the Hillcrest church of Christ was very interesting. My parents, once they began attending, never missed a Sunday morning, Sunday night, or Wednesday. Churches of Christ have very traditional meeting times, usually three times a week on Sunday and Wednesday all across the country. Sunday night's in the church were much the same as Sunday morning for me only I could wear jeans. The atmosphere was certainly more relaxed than during the morning service. One thing that always stood out to me were those people who didn't change clothes. Usually the older folks who got dressed once a day and only changed to go to bed. These folks usually smelled like the food they ate and you pretty much tell where they had been by the funk. One elderly gentlemen helped solve the mystery because you could identify the stains on his clip on tie and nail not only where he ate, but what he ate. On lucky days you could still catch a glimpse of lunch in the corner of his mouth! Beautiful.
In the church, as a boy or young man, you are not allowed to do much until you become baptized. About the only thing you can do pre-baptism is pick up attendance cards and occasionally hand out stuff to the congregation. That's about it. But, once you are baptized you get to start out serving communion. We serve communion every Sunday in the church of Christ and on Sunday night for those who missed Sunday morning. Serving communion on Sunday morning is major league while serving on Sunday night is farm team. I never understood why we just didn't take communion at night and in the morning, but these questions are not answered and anyone who pokes around asking questions is never heard from again.
I was baptized when I was 12 (that is a story in and of itself) and promptly got drafted for Sunday night communion. I was mortified! Just the thought of me standing up in front of that church was horrible, saying a prayer in front of that church--death! I cringed every time I had to do communion on Sunday night. I would always sit on the North side leaving a huge space from the end of the pew to allow the prayer leader plenty of room to assume his position. The North side was the lead team. North side prayer leader had to say, "If you were unable to partake [very important verbiage] of the Lord's supper this morning it has been prepared for you this evening. Please stand after each prayer and we will serve you." Then the prayer. After which time people would stand up and you would walk to your side and give them communion. I always gave my Aunt Opal communion. She was my Dad's aunt and one of the sweetest people in the entire universe. She stayed home every week and cooked lunch for her family and came to church on Sunday night. Her hands smelled of comet always she didn't have a single tooth in her head, just like my Granny. I usually had one or two others who would stand, North side was very faithful in their attendance.
There are only two times that stand out in my memory of serving communion on Sunday night. First, the night a lady drank communion after someone else. In the church of Christ communion is served in individual one ounce cups. The special trays hold each cup in it's own little space. On Sunday mornings every hole was full and you would put your empty cup back in the same hole and move on down the road. It is an unwritten rule that you drink from the fullest cup because some lady's don't drink all the juice as it makes them burp all through service and get their reflux all keyed up. Sunday nights were a different story. Usually there were 15 or so cups filled with the two outer most rings completely empty. The unwritten rule during this service was taking the full cup, partaking, then placing it in the empty outer rings. One Sunday night I had to serve three lady's. The first lady took her cup, sipped, placed the lipstick stained cup in the appropriate outer ring and sat down. On to the next. Again, this lady picked up the same cup! In the church of Christ reverence is translated as silence and you remain forward looking not making one sound. I could not break form and say, "NOT THAT ONE!" I tried to quietly whisper, "not that one" but she didn't hear me and drank from the same cup! Mortified. I am an unashamed germaphobe! The thought of drinking after someone makes me cringe.
The second most memorable involved a hostage situation, literally. This man and his family came to church for the sole purpose of him marrying his daughter. We do not indulge in this kind of thought process and tend to shy away from those who do sinner or not! The fact that he had a gun made it easier for us to oblige him. He was placed in a classroom, our classrooms surrounded the auditorium. Our preacher stood up and told the church that there was a troubled man in the building, the police had been called and we would only have one song, a prayer, and serve communion then all be dismissed as quickly and quietly as possible. HOSTAGE SITUATION...TROUBLED MAN...GUN!? In my church! On Sunday night! WOW!
I had communion duty. My palms were even more sweaty because I was freaking out at the thought of a shooting spree, that just didn't happen in the 80's period! People wouldn't be that kind of crazy for another twenty years! All of the Marlboro men were on alert and had cinched and hiked their pants set and ready to relive combat! As we stood there looking at the crowd my only thought was, "which one of these crazy people are the crazy person being talked about" It was a crap shoot, honestly. I had Aunt Opal and the basketball coach, Coach Busby to serve and that was it. As I stood there waiting for coach to decide which of the identical cups of the same juice to wasn't that hard even for a coach! A classroom door slowly crept open and out came this man. He was about 6'3" with dark brown crazy hair and wicked green eyes, cat green. He had on a red tattered t-shirt and a flannel shirt worn like a jacket, rustler jeans, and serial killer combat boots. His whole family, who were in the room with him, looked like people who are featured in a Larry Jones, Feed the Children commercial focusing on the poor of America. "That's him...that's the crazy man with a gun!" "Why is he looking at me? Why is he standing in the hall?" As I walked down the aisle he grabbed my arm. I nearly lost all control of my bladder and colon. I was a hostage for this twisted man!
What would I do. How could I, the one who has drilled every disaster known to man down the the Gothic lantern precariously hanging from the ceiling falling on someone, not have planned for a deranged mad man who wanted to marry his daughter come to my church with a gun and want communion from me? I had no reference point, no one to run to. Here I was in no man's land. There was a mad man grabbing my arm wanting communion...looking forward to a honeymoon with his daughter! Would I be drug into the classroom and join Brisco Darlin and his family for the wedding of the century? Would he take his bread and juice and cap me--the first of many victims in his twisted plan of matrimony? "I just want communion...I'm not going to hurt you." I am sure I looked like a lemur--my eyes were huge! "yes, take it." My hands were shaking so hard I looked palsied. On our particular Sunday night service we prayed...served the cracker...came back forward...prayed for the juice then passed it. After that we had to pray and pass the collection plate. Normally this mundane task took about twenty minutes, however on this night it took a century. Horrible, just horrible. Cracker, done...bread, done! We also passed the collection plate in the off chance folks wanted to give. If you are standing up waiting to give and don't give not good! Crazy man didn't give.
I was never more scared than at that moment. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Aunt Opal asked, "Honey, are you OK? you look like you've seen a ghost." "I'm OK, I just saw a crazy man and he touched me." Turns out that he was not on his medicine and easily surrendered to the authorities to get the proper medical attention he needed. He never married his daughter, and I've often wondered how Christmas went that year in their home.
I have yet to have a Sunday night more intense than this one, and hope I never do.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Who needs dynamite--I have kids!

I've been home with teensy and the boys since Thursday afternoon and it's been interesting to say the least. My wife has been working at a special consignment sale for children's clothing at our state fairgrounds and I have been keeping the children alive.
Teensy still needs a lot of attention being such a small tot, she has reflux and spits up in a poltergeist kind of way which causes all kinds of alarms on her apnea monitor. My pet name for Levi is Chubbers, Titus is Bub, you've met teensy whose given name is Emma. They are quite a trio. Chubbers is into destruction exploration. Bub is into construction destruction and Teensy is into clothing destruction and bed corruption.
Chubbers spends his waking moments being really cute, cracking himself up, and opening drawers just to spill their contents onto the floor. He really has a distaste for order and prefers a cluttered house. Toy baskets remain empty, drawers and clothing baskets-goners he just makes his way through the house upsetting our order. Our chaos is his calm. He's just the cutest thing around but there are times that I would love to duct tape him on the wall and just let him, "hang out" for an hour or two. He has this blanket that my wife made for him when he was on his way into the world. It's a blue chenille blanket with a vintage cowboy fabric on the back. He totes that thing around an sucks his thumb. I call the blanket sucky sucky, he knows where it is at all times. I liken it to the love relationship that Linus has to this blanket and look forward to Chubbers chenille sport coat! Chubbers is just learning to talk and has mastered the basic one-syllable words. I think he knows more than he let's on, but is just toying with us because he can. For now we love his gibber jabber babbling.
Bub is a brilliant witty little boy who really has the world by the tail. He is just full of wit and says the most hilarious things. Jeff Foxworthy's hosting a new game show on Fox and we were watching it Thursday night when, "Dad, I could be on that show. I'm really smart and know evryfing." "I think you would be good on the show too, bub. What subjects would you be the best at answering." "24th century for sure, I know a lot about that." there you have it a 4 and 1/2 year old expert on the 24th century! Bub likes to build things out of the couch pillows and afghans in our blanket chest (it's really an upholstered footstool I just like the idea of a blanket chest) and then walk into a world created by his imagination. Shopping mall's, train stations, space stations, puppet theaters you name it and he will build it. Bub doesn't like putting things away and leaves his messes all around the house. We have the hardest time getting him to pick up one mess before starting another. Bub is a caring and wonderful brother who totally terrorizes his brother one minute and then loving him the next. Chubbers doesn't know whether to hug him or duck and cover.
Bub is a constant snacker. he's always eating a spoon of peanut butter, or a granola bar, or a grape, or an apple, or jell-o. Again, not picking up after himself. On Thursday, Chubbers found a cup of jell-o that Bub left out and by time I found him his hands were red, covered in Jell-0. I knew exactly where he had been because little gobs of jell-o were left in his trail. Getting in touch with my happy place was difficult. Trying to remember how much I would miss "this" moment in twenty years just didn't' help. I was hacked. You know, you don't really need dynamite to destroy a house just two brother's under five!
Bub loves Dino nuggets. He usually eats them reheated in the microwave, I would rather he ate them baked in the oven. Something about easing my conscience knowing that this processed food was "baked" and not nuked. I'm saving that for my therapist. I made up some secret dipping sauce for him: Dino dipping sauce. He loved it! Just a bit of barbecue sauce (maybe a tablespoon) and a bit of honey (just a tablespoon or so) then ketchup. Stir it all together and you have Dino dipping sauce. it then became another food network star "dream".
One more chubber. Bub, Cubbers and I were on the way home from church one night. Bub wanted to open some powdered donuts and eat one before we got home. "No, it will make a huge mess in the car!" 4 1/2 year old's are much smarter than their parents ever though about being so he opened the bag and got his donut. True to form, he forgot to close the package and keep it away from chubbers. Chubbers went into stealth mode and managed to crumb every donut in the box and cover himself from head to toe in powder. He has very curly, tight hair and it was perfectly powdered. Again, finding the happy place was very hard to do.
I can only imagine what teensy will add to the mix and really try not to think about it, i just don't think I could take it. I'm sure I'll be reading my children's blog some day (there will probably be something much, much more cool by then) and saying, "I had no idea they did THAT!" She is already a tough cookie who doesn't take much off anyone without letting them know about it.
Children are wonderful and blessings I'm so thankful to have. Clean houses, full night's sleep, quiet, uninterrupted peace--saved for retirement.