Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday morning dawns bright and chaotic.

So Julie arrives here at 7:20 with Alex in tow. Says he might have thrown up a bit in his bed while coughing last night, and his hair might smell like it. Ok, bye!

Gunder wants to stay in bed. He has huge circles under his eyes which makes me feel like a horrible mother.

I realized last night that before I made carpool arrangements with Peggy that I'd told Wendy I'd take her boys to school this morning. Not a big deal, but it bumps Jonas's pick-up time up about 10 minutes.

Alex has been riding in Gunder's car seat, and Gunder has been riding in the adult seat, which is very horrible of me. So I get Alex's car seat out of the garage and muscle it into the car- after having a massive tug-of-war with Gunder's car seat, which has been securely hooked into the metal things behind the seat. Safety and all.

Gunder is inside eating goldfish crackers for breakfast, because that's all he wants. I hurry him along, put on the shoes that are too small (but I don't beat myself up on this one too much because he has an identical pair that are the right size...somewhere) and drag him into the bathroom where I shove his head into the sink and wet his hair down. He screams and I yell that it's just a little water, for crying out loud.

I comb his hair back so he looks like a gangsta from the 20s. His sisters, who have already left for school, would be mortified. I am glad they're not here to see it.

I remember I've already put Alex in the car and hurry Gunder out the door after slapping the correct size of shoes on his feet. Forget to brush his teeth, which is now making me cringe. He's sitting in school with fuzzy teeth. He's a fuzzy-toothed gantsta. But at least I remembered to wash his clothes last night and did get them ironed this morning.

We pick up Kord and Kade, who are looking clean and scrubbed, if somewhat tired. They climb into the car, and I let Kord sit in the front because he's now 13 and the airbag won't kill him if it deploys. Kade climbs into the middle by Alex, and I explain to the boys that he didn't really just throw up, it only smells like it. Yum. Going to school first thing in the morning in a car that smells like barf.

Gunder is sitting in the way-back, and we pick up Jonas, who joins him on his own little booster seat. Peggy is gracious about the fact that it's actually closer to 8 now, rather than the 7:50 I texted her about in a panic last night at 10:30. Gunder and Jonas are Kindergarten and 1st grade, respectively, and they begin telling knock-knock jokes that involve bananas, monkeys, eyes, noses...I draw the line when they begin peeing. I tell Kord that he should remember some of those awesome jokes to tell his friends. He looks at me with a half-smile and rubs his hands together, clearly cold because the windows are cracked to clear out the barf smell.

As we near the older boys' school, Kord tells me he hopes they go to the park and not rock climbing today because he forgot to have his mom sign the release for rock climbing and he really wants to go. Wendy and I have been the closest of friends for years, and I remember when Kord was born. I figure that makes us close, and I offer to sign the release form for Wendy- we both have pretty handwriting- so he can rock climb if it turns out that's what they're doing today. He looks dejected. The release form is in his locker, and I have given him only enough time to get to class before the bell rings. He can't run the form back out to me to sign, and besides, I'm not altogether certain he's comfortable with the idea anyway.

I drop off Kord, remind him to tuck in his shirt (The kids all wear uniforms. I know. We're mean moms.) He says he will and leaves. I swing around to drop Kade off at the intermediate building, where he hops out of the car without a backward glance, likely relieved to be away from barf-boy, who calls him "Cave."

I swing down the street to drop the little guys off at the elementary building. Jonas is telling Gunder something I can't hear because Alex heard "Life is a Highway" playing on the radio and wanted me to turn it up louder. ("Mack and McQueen!") I hear Gunder telling Jonas, "Well, that's a rip-off!" Jonas looks at him like he's from Mars. Gunder says, "They used the wrong building plans, then!"

I am too tired to sort it out, curious though I am. I pull into the congested side-street next to the school and help the boys get out of the back. I help Jonas down, which seems to offend him very much. I try to help Gunder down but he tells me he can do it himself. He jumps down and I barely get a kiss. They take off running for the front door, backpacks flying, with me yelling at them to be good and remember the rules. If I thought they were old enough to be embarrassed by it, I'd also yell for them to look forward to scripture study after school. This works great with my girls.

I maneuver my way out of the obnoxious SUV zoo in my obnoxious SUV and head for home. Pick up a Diet Coke on the way, and when Alex asks for a Sprite, I tell him we need to be healthy and I'll give him a glass of water at home. When we pull into the driveway, he talks me out of going for a walk. He says he doesn't want to, and frankly, neither do I.

We turn on Dora, which he unfortunately loves these days, and I slice him an apple to eat with his goldfish crackers. He also wants some cinnamon toast, and I feel good about the fact that at least one of the little boys got a fairly good-size breakfast this morning.

I slice myself some strawberries to go with my divine Diet Coke, proud that I'm eating strawberries and not Doublestuff Oreos for breakfast. Just to make sure I don't feel too good about myself, though, I sprinkle a little sugar on top of them. Humility is a virtue, after all.


Friday, September 10, 2010


Bittersweet heart today- my daughter, Nina, is on the mend. She's had a nasty bout of viral pneumonia and is finally on the upswing. We're glad, because she's begun her senior year and starting her final high school swim season. Well, that's not the only reason we're glad she's getting better, but it's important.

I'm looking forward to the meets, long as they are, because I often get to sit with Wendy and yak up a storm, something we are both very good at. I also like the down time away from the little boys, darling as they are. Most of the time, meets are fun for me. (Except the one last year at Viewmont- I had a head cold and thought I was going to implode between the noise and all the chlorine in the air. That and the fact that I suddenly looked at my beautiful daughter's beautiful stroke through the water and thought to myself...Hey, wait a minute! I don't want her to get a scholarship somewhere. I don't want her to move away from me. I want her to stay forever in my house, leaving her stuff all over the place and staying up way too late, clanking her dishes around in the kitchen and making her dad and I wonder if we should just come right out and tell her she needs to get to her room for the night so we can at least make out in peace.)

Anna is fun and is getting more fun, more tender, more responsible as the days go by. We are enjoying her so much. By the time she's ready to leave home, I'm sure I'll find it a struggle to keep that stiff upper lip stiff.

And yet today, I have the word "Love" written on my arm in pink ink with a heart around it in tribute to suicide awareness week and in honor of my friend, Catina, who lost her daughter to suicide last year. I am in love with my daughters, and I ache for Catina. And yet I also am so glad that Catina has her sweet Antonio and Maia, that motherhood still keeps her busy. As I looked at my arm a while ago, the ink got all blurry and I felt my eyes burn. Strange. I thought I had cried all my tears for Abbey last year when it happened.

Our souls are eternal. Love is eternal. Our Heavenly Parents and Savior are eternal. We lift each other, and sometimes we are the ones who need lifting. And don't we all have people in our lives for whom we would gladly take all the pain? I suppose that when we hurt for other people we aren't necessarily lightening their load, but perhaps there is comfort in commiseration, in companionship. It takes a village, that I firmly believe, and not only to raise a child, sometimes just to make it through life as an adult.

I'm grateful for my village and all the wonderful people in it. I'm glad for moments that cause me to reflect on it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tony Blair, Tom Brady, the Kardashians and Mother Teresa

So I am a stay-at-home with a writing career sandwiched on the side. I have two daughters in high school, a son in Kindergarten (and believe it or not, he was planned!) and I babysit my 2-year-old nephew during the day. It's a busy life, kind of polar-opposite ends of family stages with two girls almost graduated and two little guys just starting out, but odd as it is, I love it.

My tv is set, by default(when we're not watching Diego or those obnoxious Fresh Beats) to HGTV or MSNBC. I find them both comforting. Today I was in the mood for news, and I listened passively while I cleaned up Top Ramen and my husband's deadly salsa from last night. ("Honey, it won't be that hot, really." "But Mark, the label on the chilies says 'Mojave'...")

So anyway, I was listening to the news and a story about Tony Blair's new book came on. Turns out there've been protests wherever the man wants to sign his book, and he even had to cancel the launch party. People are angry. But the book is FLYING OFF THE SHELVES. Which really just goes to show, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Makes me wonder if I would mind people throwing eggs and crap at me as long as they bought my books in droves. Unfortunately I have just enough George Costanza in me to not handle it at all well. ("People HAVE to like me!")

From there, we went into a story about Tom Brady getting in a wreck today (?) that was bad enough for the other driver to have to be extracted with the jaws of life. I didn't catch who was at fault- presumably the other guy- but what cracked me up was the footage later of Brady at football practice. "...And here he is, shortly after the wreck, at practice..." Makes me think of how funny it is that people are in wrecks every day but only famous ones make it into the news. Duh, you say, and I know. But just imagine this: "This is John Doe- he was in an accident today and the other driver had to be extracted with the jaws of life. Now here we see John, later that same day, at work in his office. Making an important phone call, seems to be doing well, will probably make it for the board meeting scheduled for Friday at 2:00..." Maybe that makes no sense at all- and it looks weird now that I've written it, but man, it seemed funny at the time.

From here I jump back a few weeks to me standing in line at the grocery store. On the cover of a magazine was a pic of the Kardashian sisters, all kinds of torqued at each other for one weighing more than the other. Next to them on the magazine rack was a picture of Mother Teresa in a magazine issue commemorating her life. I'm sure I don't have to belabor the point too much for you to see where my thoughts took me. Where is the true beauty?

Life is funny and full and wonderful and hard and divine. I love this time of year- love getting out the harvesty-colored table cloths and decor. I love planning Halloween costumes with the kids. I love getting the sweaters back out and smelling the air when the temperatures start to change and you know summer is on its way out and fall is coming in.

So here's to Tony Blair- may you sell many books and effectively dodge rotten eggs. I suspect history will be kinder to you than the present is. Here's to Tom Brady- throw that ball for all you're worth, and good luck to John Doe in his Friday board meeting. To the Kardashians, I say I forgive you for leaching my brain cells out of my ears every time I look at the lot of you, and to Mother Teresa, I smugly and yet humbly admit I'd rather be like you than much of Hollywood.

Except the guys in Rush! (Not Limbaugh, the rock band.) Saw a documentary on VH1 classics that has made me a fan even beyond what I already liked about their music. But that's a rave for another day...