Monthly Archives: January 2009

Baby Teeth

The toothfairy at my house is a complete lamebrain.

My baby loses his first tooth. And I think, this one is important. This one I will remember. The very first night. Into the chambers I will creep.

And every day I keep saying that and every night I forget until I see his toothless grin the next morning. Every night until the kid throws the tooth out or loses it.

I finally snuck a handful of change into his top drawer in the middle of the day. When he discovered it, I told him that must be where he misplaced the tooth, and the toothfairy found it finally.

Somebody shoot me.

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It's two thirty Saturday morning. I have children arriving in less than four hours. I'll need to take a shower before then–but if I do it now, I'll have to blow-dry my hair and that just seems a little loud for two-ish in the morning.

Although . . . wielding the power drill didn't bother me. I figured anyone can sleep through a little drilling. Even dropping a tool or two. But blow dryer? I don't know. I always imagine I hear someone calling or crying or things breaking. So I turn it off and I get short of breath listening for phantom sounds over the heartbeat in my head.  

You know how that goes.

As you probably know how dropping into bed at night exhausted goes, almost drifting off before you've even got the pillow plumped right, and then something occurs to yank you fully awake.  Likely something you have no control over. Probably not even real. But there you are, laying there in the dark, staring at the walls, thinking, if I don't go to sleep, tomorrow I'm really, really going to pay. So I'm not going to go down this path. I'm going to lay here and go to sleep, and deal with this tomorrow or the next day or never because it's not even real.

There is nothing to be gained by staying awake.

And so much to lose.

But you keep yourself conscious. It's like a secret weapon in an arsenal of helplessness. I can't fix this problem, and maybe I have no control over anything else, but I can stay awake. So there.

What do I hope to accomplish?  The laundry? Really?

The minute I feel that first yank–the minute–I am still calm. I say, this is so not my problem. I'm going to continue slipping into dreamland. I have to get up tomorrow. I have to smile and function and interact for Pete's sake. I am going to sleep. I'm beyond this staying up all night thing–I'm going to sleep.

I finally get up. I put a load of laundry in. I stand there in the doorway and I debate going back to bed. I know I'll lay there, bouncing my toes and scratching places that don't even itch because all this doing is just that. It's not about getting the whites through or taking the tree down. It's about being awake.


Is it my way of saying how very much something bothers me?

I don't swear, or break things. I don't yell or argue or slam dishes or doors.

I keep my eyes open. 

Although . . . I seriously thought about smashing something. Just one thing.

I could probably find the sledgehammer with a flashlight, but I don't know where any batteries are. Or the shed key. And if I did, then what? Where do you lay an object you want to pulverize when you don't want to pulverize anything else in the vicinity? I am, after all, a responsible adult.

I just want to break one thing. Haven't you? Wanted to lay it out on a big rock somewhere and pound it to powder, just to see if it's possible, maybe.  Am I ill? I can think of a few things that might reduce to a fine powder if I worked at it long enough.  

But then I start thinking of the consequences. What if someone, years down the road, steps on a piece of glass I missed? What if one of my kids sees me in full swing and it terrifies them? So I do laundry. Settle for snipping off my wedding band with wire cutters. I have gained ten pounds in two months. Twenty since it fit.  There is a deep groove left around my ring finger, and the severed ring looks like a vending machine dropping, a child's prize.  

My hand felt so free, maybe I needed to flex it. Picked up the power drill that lay next to wire cutters and started marking holes. Thirty holes through solid oak. Went through two batteries. Inserted knobs and tightened screws. The laundry was an afterthought.

You don't need a sledgehammer for your average home improvement project. It's stored out back somewhere. But the screw drivers and drills, pliers and bits. I'm going to miss having these things laid out at my fingertips, when and if we ever actually finish this place. One doesn't usually keep these things about in a kitchen.  




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Ambidextrous Parking

How ambidextrous are you when it comes to operating your motor vehicle?

I didn't realize this could be an issue until I pulled into the church parking lot last night opposite from my habitual entrance and tried to park in my habitual spot.
I can't park left handed!
Who knew?

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Have you ever read something that feels so . . . exactly personal? As if someone with a better vocabulary had stripped the words right off the sinews of your soul?  I came across possibly my favorite passage of all time again this morning. 
I know most of you have read this prayer, but I'm posting it here in an abbreviated and personalized form today.  Every time I read it, I think, Yes! Yes, that's exactly it. It perfectly reflects the tension we all feel between trusting God and knowing He hears us; yet still falling short of living thoroughly as if we do.

Notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched woman that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.


I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions and preserved me.  He hath filled me with his love. He hath heard my cry by day, and given me knowledge by visions in the night.

By day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

O then, if the Lord hath visited me in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!  O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! Wilt thou make my path straight before me!
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. Yea, I know that God will give liverally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. My voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.
The full version can be found here.

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Twenty Five

All right, Mandy thinks I should sit down and think of twenty five random facts you might not know about me.  I'm not sure it can be done. Oh me of little faith.

Here's the deal. If my computer crashes before I'm through, it wasn't meant to be. I anticipate getting to about 8 on my list, if luck holds out. Don't let anyone convince you that wiping the hard drive and restoring your computer to its purchased state is going to fix chronic crashing. NOT TRUE.

But the following is:

1. I am Canadian. I know, I know, I swore all that away when I took American citizenship, but somewhere in my glowing heart beneath all the sunbaked summers and gritty wet winters, blue lakes still reflect the mountains and pristine snow falls.

2.  I may have lost my accent but you cannot take touque away from me. I refuse to use two vague words (winter hat) where a perfectly concise one word (touque) exists. 
3. I went on food stamps once. Well, not really. There's this program in Washington State called WIC. Women, Infants and Children. They give you coupons each month for cheese, milk, carrots, peanut butter and cereal for pregnant/nursing women and young children. With our household size, we always qualified, but we didn't really need it. And then, within the span of three days, M fell off a roof, I'd given birth, and had abdominal surgery. The self-employed cannot collect unemployment.  Hunger slammed itself up against pride, and together with my under-five-year-old children I went down to the clinic and endured the finger pokes and the weighing in. I took my coupons to the store and stood there in line with my six children and my pathetic cart of essentials and I burned with humiliation. Pride won. I stuffed the rest of the coupons in the glove compartment of my van and never went back. We survived. Obviously.
4. I've never admitted that before.
5. I can diagnose gallbladder disease–you're welcome, Nena. Comes from having gallstones and complications therefrom for over a decade before anyone would believe I wasn't imagining my own agony. I hope you feel better soon. If you contract any other crippling diseases, you're on your own.
6. Three of my children are bigger than me.
7. My computer has crashed three times since I started this. But after the first crash, I got smart and started writing in my email program because it auto-saves every few seconds, so all is not lost. Cut and paste, here we come. I guess I'm more interesting than I thought, because I feel like continuing anyway.
8. My Christmas tree is still standing. Fully decorated. Minus that one strand of blown lights on the lower left. Anyone know how to replace lights on a pre-lit tree?
9. I bought new appliances nine months ago, and they are still crated in my kitchen. By the time I get the right cords/outlets etc installed, my five year warranties will expire. Not that it really matters, since I hear Sears isn't supposed to last the year, anyway. Do you know how much five-year-warranties on five appliances cost me? Can I return a warranty?
6. Apparently I think 6 comes after 9.
11. My brother is ten years younger than me minus eight days. I can figure out how old I am when I remember this fact.
12. I am the valedictorian who never was. I had the highest grades, but my 4.0 paled in comparison to the fact that Solomon Bessire had lived in the town his entire life, and I had been there less than a year. Ditto the gal that took Salutatorian. I didn't mind, because a) I agreed with the tenure thing b) I didn't have to speak and c) see #13.
13. I totally didn't deserve my 4.0.  Speaking of things I have never confessed. Back home, I wouldn't have been at the top of my class. By some bizarre translation error, the grading system took respectable Canadian percentages and translated them into nearly perfect American grades.  And that French class I was doing by correspondence? I don't think I ever actually finished it. . . I find it strange that in America, you are accepted into college before you ever finish highschool, so that last semester or so really doesn't matter much. 
14. I dream about beating my children. Not all the time, and I find it very disturbing, but there it is. Sometimes I wind up and smack 'em. Only it isn't very satisfying, because they don't seem to feel it. That confession is likely even more disturbing.
15. I have 67 cans of spaghetti sauce and 164 pounds of peanut butter in my pantry. FD, you need one of these. Nothing ever goes bad because the oldest food is always at the front of the shelf. Of course, unless you are feeding thirty+ people a day like I am, you probably don't need one as big as mine.  I have two.
16. I have never broken a bone or been seriously injured. (Not counting childbirth.) I'm way too cautious.
17. I can't swim. Okay, okay, "can't is a sluggard, too lazy to try", I know. Fine, I don't swim. I'm Canadian, remember?
18. I, like Mandy, have come to enjoy public speaking in my old age. It used to terrify me into trembling, whimpering silence. I still cannot hold any sort of paper in my hands or the trembling would interfere with acoustics, but it's a good terror–middle aged adrenaline junkies, we.
19. I won't remember 99% of anything you call to tell me. A storyline, I'll probably remember that. Dates, times, places, reminders. Gone. The minute you hang up. When I make appointments for people to come see me, I make them for times I know I will be home, doing something anyway. I won't remember you're coming, but I'll be here.
20.  Come to think of it, I probably can't hear 99% of what you tell me.
21.  I would rather throw something away than figure out where to store it. Thank you, Keri, for wanting the picture frames. Now I only have to feel guilty about the ones I threw away last week. 
22.Sometimes, when my children tell me about their day or a movie they saw, I swear, they start speaking a foreign language. I reeeeeeaaaallllllly try to concentrate, but then my eyes start to glaze over and I want to bang my head against the floor.  
23. I totally believe in the honest cheat–Mandy, what did you write about? Ooh. Employment history, let's see. When I was sixteen I worked in the OT department at Lethbridge Regional Hospital. Main reason I went into Audiology in college. Switched majors after the class where I had to find an obliging three year old child, spend two hours interacting with them, and then transcribe our conversation phonetically.
24. Worked at a plant nursery after the hospital. You've seen the documentaries about the women who stack newspapers and boxes everywhere until just a small path remains from their front door to their bed? Yeah. I worked for that lady. There was also a path to the linen cabinet in her bathroom. This is where she kept the cash box. Under her wedding towels.  She never threw anything away. Ever. She would have me deadhead every bachelor button on the property and keep all the seeds. Just in case some kind of natural disaster wiped out the ten billion that had taken over the back forty.
25. Left there to work at Willow Drive Nursery weeding around saplings–do you know the male crew got to use long handled hoes and the girls, well, they gave us these things that looked a little like spackle knives, if I remember right. One of the gals got smart and shoved the handle up under the laces of her boot so she could kick the weeds to death. Supervisor had a fit. We went back to bending over.  Maybe they thought it'd go to our heads if they entrusted us with real tools. The boys also got to walk for fire-blight. This entailed walking up and down the (shady) rows of more mature pear trees looking at the leaves. In an upright position. We were weeding or pushing sawdust down around rootballs in the trenches. Froze our fingers until the sun came out, then burnt our aching backs. Best summer of my life, no kidding.

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Foolproof Hearing Test for Young Children

Kimber, can I color?

It's breakfast time right now. How about after?


It's breakfast time.

Can I color?

Later. Why don't you turn off the bathroom light?


The bathroom light.

I don't need to go to the bathroom.

I know. You just went. Can you turn off the light?

What light?

Look! The baby is going into the bathroom! What do you think you should do?

[She runs over, turns off the light and shuts the door.]

Can I color?

After breakfast.


Do you want any breakfast?

No, thank you. Can I color?

After everyone else is done eating.


After breakfast.


You may color after breakfast.


[quietly] I have a pig in my nose.

Huh? Why do you have a pig in your nose?

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Golden Parachute

Got my 1099-misc from the DEL today for all childcare payments made to me through the State of Washington in 2008. Noticed a box for excess golden parachute payments.

Now there's a good idea.

Don't you think we should all get golden parachutes? Exorbitant payments made to us when employers change and we become unemployed through no fault of our own?

Although . . .

Aren't all those CEO's supposed to keep the company so healthy that there is no need for hostile takeovers and such?

Isn't that what a CEO does? Wait–I'll wikipedia the term–okay, yeah, pretty much:

"Proponents of golden parachutes argue that they provide three main benefits:

  1. Golden parachutes make it easier to hire and retain executives. . .
  2. They help an executive to remain objective about the company during the takeover process.
  3. They dissuade takeover attempts by increasing the cost of a takeover, often part of a poison pill strategy."


Okay, so 1. apparently being CEO is such a dirty occupation they have to bribe people to take the job. 2. Wouldn't guaranteeing a man millions of dollars if the company is taken over a surefire way to make a man think seriously about working toward that very end? 3. Bull.

My personal take on a topic I know nothing about.

But hey, somebody offer me a golden parachute, why don't they? I'll even pay the 20% excise tax on the excess amount without complaining. 


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The Tree

How long do you think I can (decently) leave my Christmas tree standing?

It's still wintery out there . . .


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The Truck in the Living Room

Some guy had a seizure the other  day while traveling down Yonezawa Blvd. If you are familiar with the area, you'll recognize Yonezawa as the four million dollar folly built by the town of Moses Lake several years ago. Big, four-lane thoroughfare with a tree-lined median that didn't end up attracting any retailers because no matter how prettily you pave the roundabouts with brick, no self-respecting national chain does business for long with a town council like ours.  They try, but eventually all throw up their corporate hands in despair.  

Point being.

The truck driven by the seizure-suffering man veered out of a roundabout, plowed through a back fence, coming to rest entirely within the walls of somebody's house.

I'm trying to imagine what I would do if a truck decided to park in my living room. Although, a train is more likely, given our neighborhood . . .

Do you have the same sort of stuttering response to catastrophe that I do? Your husband is backing up and there is a six foot wide redwood behind your bumper and you think, ooh, that's going to be tight, but surely he sees the TREE. He knows it's there, right? Thunk.

Nothing comes out.  Not one intelligible word.

The other day D slammed the sliding door shut and it bounced back open. Boo, seeing her chance, stuck her hand in the crack. These little ones have learned that if they can get some leverage, a slightly open door can become an escape hatch. D, however, noticed his error and raced back to correct it.

I'm sitting six feet away, watching this unfold in slow motion. Baby's hand in the door, six year old child braced, pushing on the handle—yelling to his friends, so it hasn't registered that maybe he should investigate what's impeding the door's progress.

I'm saying something  incoherent. D can't hear me. Boo's mom doesn't seem to understand.  Or maybe she's afflicted with the same disability I am. When faced with danger, I can't move. I just gesture and utter incomprehensible commands.

What would I do if I saw a train coming?

Would I have the presence of mind—and the mobility—to haul my kids or myself out of the way? Lucky Yonezawa area dweller had just gotten up to check her baked potato, and this saved her hide. Which is possibly how God would have to get me moving. Permit me to light another towel on fire just to get me out of the way, maybe.

But I think he would get me moving.

I'm beginning to suspect that our lives are one great escape after another. Most of the time we just don't know what could have happened; what great calamities we have avoided because we did one thing and not another. When I was four years old, my mother took me to town instead of laying down for a much needed nap. When we came back, the house was a steaming pit of ash.  Chesley Sullenberger just happened to be flying the airplane that lost both engines shortly after taking off out of the New York airport last Thursday. Maybe you turned right instead of left on the way home from work today for what you thought was no reason at all.

God may permit a lot of anguish in this life; I wonder how much we don't realize he prevents. Quiet, unrecognized acts of mercy.

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Lessons from Mathew

Received two letters from DSHS today informing me that I have been issued two overpayments for the months of June and October totaling one hundred and sixty some dollars. I have ten days to get my response into their hands. 

So, after two hours of fuming and searching my records and reading the fine print of the Washington State Administrative code governing billing practices, I came to the conclusion that although I did bill incorrectly in one instance, it was because they invoiced me incorrectly in several instances, and if we really took the whole thing to the mat and re-invoiced and re-billed, they would end up owing me a total of ten dollars and nine cents.

I started in making photocopies and composing icily polite and pointed letters which would most assuredly start an entirely new and drawn out comedy of errors (and lots of postage because I am required to send all documentation and responses by certified mail) all while keeping two babies and three preschoolers happy and changed and redressed and fed and redressed, and nasally clear.

My head was splitting and little Boo was slapping at the power button on the computer and I was mentally uttering profane declarations of getting out of this business entirely, when I arrrived at a brilliant conclusion.

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him."

I wrote a check for one hundred and sixty some dollars, stamped the envelope and put it in the mailbox.


I'm six inches taller and the air is clear.

Totally worth $162.

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