Monthly Archives: August 2009


Feeling better today. As long as I don't do anything strenuous–loosen the lid on the pickle jar, say, or carry a baby up the stairs. But the rest of the time I'm no longer drowning and I can take a full breath. I even slept for six hours last night. At this rate of improvement I'm thinking I should be good as new within a few days. But if I can't access my own pickles by Friday, I'm going in, quack doctor or no. 

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Breathing Blue

About nine o'clock last night I was sitting on the couch with my kids, listening to the usual chatter and clamor of six (not so) small people vying for the spotlight, procrastinating bedtime, enjoying the breeze from outside when I realized it was getting progressively harder to breathe. Coughed off and on for a while, like I'd inhaled a little too much water.  Pretty soon I didn't recognize the sounds coming from my own chest. I was whistling with my mouth closed.

Say what?
Historically speaking I'm not an asthmatic. Never have been–as far as I know. The wheezing and coughing stopped after an hour or so but ever since I feel like I can't take a full breath–or I can, but the oxygen isn't quite reaching my lungs. Realized this is why I haven't been able to sleep since we got back from the mountains. Why I couldn't sleep before we left–because I feel like I'm smothering.  Fortunately the smothering sensation wakes me up and I remember to breathe.  Unfortunately I'm not getting much sleep. 
I've been awake since shortly after midnight. It's five in the morning. I've read an entire John Grisham novel. (The Appeal–some coarse language I wouldn't use myself but an intriguing look at corruption in judicial elections; read it if you consider yourself an informed voter.) Now I'm googling phrases like "trouble inhaling". Interesting stuff. Sounds like asthma–and apparently I'm not breathing enough of the used air out of my lungs, which is why it feels like no matter how deeply I breathe in, there isn't enough oxygen–there isn't; too much CO2. still in there using up space. 
Maybe I'm allergic to this town. I've heard they are cutting hay. Hmmm. Family Doc is out of town for two weeks. Doc on call is a quack. And I say that most charitably. He's the one who has negligently read at least three x-rays in the past. Came up with solutions like oh, just walk on the broken leg, it'll feel better in a day or two; diagnosed the common cold instead of a collapsed lung. You know who I'm talking about–and if you don't, call me before you make any trips to the walk-in or urgent care here in Moses. It's your life we're talking about.
Off to try some extended exhaling exercises I dug up on some obscure blog. It promises that if I breathe out long enough, the inhale will come all by itself as a natural response. We'll see. If you find me lying on the floor with blue lips in the morning, you'll know it didn't work.

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Let No Man Despise

New Sunday assignment. 

I've been teaching in the women's organization about once a month, but this is a twice weekly deal–and the class? Twelve and thirteen year old girls. 
Seventeen of them.
I have been struck, lately–even before I got the call–with the variety and beauty of the young women I see all around me. When I was that age, I didn't see it. There were girls who were popular or pretty in one way or another, but there were clouds in the sky and leaves on the trees too. None of these facts were particularly striking. I certainly didn't recognize any beauty in myself. When Paul told Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth," do you think Timothy applied that advice personally? Did he value his own youth and the power of it?
Maybe I'm just getting old enough to recognize the beauty inherent in budding youth–simply because I no longer possess it. Or maybe God has been preparing me for this assignment–to recognize the value of the girls I will be teaching each Sunday and interacting with each Wednesday night at youth activities.
I am reminded of an address given by Gordon B. Hinckley a few months after his wife of 67 years passed away. He spoke of the nobility of women in our lives and throughout history, starting with Eve, calling her creation the "grand summation of all the marvelous work that had gone before". He cited the noble examples of Ester, Naomi, Ruth, the New Testament Marys, Martha, and the fact that it was to a woman the risen Christ first showed himself. 
Hinckley was a man in love with his wife and deeply concerned with the happiness of women the world over. Standing in front of that classroom of girls I wanted them to see themselves as I did–as President Hinckley did–as their Father in Heaven does. But I could see it in their eyes–they don't comprehend their own staggering potential. Not yet.

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240 Pencils and a Package of Post-its

The town of Moses Lake has built a new school. Something to do with massive overcrowding–classrooms set up in hallways and storage closets; concerts staged on the playground for lack of a gymnasium large enough to hold all the students let alone an audience. You get the picture.

One new elementary school isn't going to do much to alleviate overcrowding and they stuck it out in the middle of nowhere but we'll take what we can get. 
Oddly enough, we find ourselves within the new boundaries–it's going to be quite a bus ride out around to the other side of the lake but hey–new school, right? I'm not complaining. For one thing, the principal actually answered an email from a lowly parent like me–usually I have trouble just contacting a teacher but the only info I could find about a real human being out there was an email for the head-honcho herself so I gave it a go, and she answered the same day. So Kudos to Ms. Noreen Thomas for that. AND I'm actually a little bit impressed with the new school supply lists. Looks like they've whittled them down from last year. Okay, so I have to buy a collective 240 pencils just for my youngest three children, but only three erasers. Last year they wanted four each and a grand conglomeration of bizarre items like coffee filters, sewing supplies and shoe laces. Not to mention 32 dollars for "craft supplies" on top of everything else.
 The list for my youngest three children this year looks like this:

1 – box of 10 broad markers (classic colors)
1 highlighter
1 black Ultra Fine Point Sharpie permanent marker
6 fine point Expo dry erase markers (Blue or Green preferred)
3 Highlighters: yellow, pink, green
5 red pens

3 large pink erasers

3 boxes of 24 Crayola crayons, 1 box of 16 count crayons

2 sets of 12 Crayola colored pencils

1 – box of 24 colored pencils

240  plain, yellow, wood pencils. No colors or décor.

pencil sharpener with a lid for shavings

pencil top erasers
3 pair Fiskars scissors, one blunt, two sharp tipped

A zippered bag for storing supplies

2 – 8 1/2" x 5" plastic school boxes (no zipper)

1- plastic folder with 2 inside pockets (not a binder)
1 pack of writeable dividers
2 – 1" 3-ring black binder (no zipper)
1 – 2" 3-ring white binder with clear overlay pocket (with inside pockets)
$5.00 for film processing, art supplies, miscellaneous items
14 glue sticks

3  medium bottles of Elmer’s glue   
2 packages of wide ruled, loose leaf notebook paper
3 single-subject wide ruled spiral notebooks
4 black bound composition notebooks
6  boxes of Kleenex
1- bottle of 12 oz. hand sanitizer
1 pack of post it/sticky notes
1 12 in./metric ruler

I am also given the option of bringing:    

ziplock baggies (sandwich or gallon size)
antibacterial wipes

paper plates
paper cups, napkins
extra Expo markers
1- bag of candy (individually wrapped, no nuts, no chocolate)
1- box of crackers, pretzels, non-sugar coated cereal, etc. (healthy snacks)
hand sanitizer
disinfectant wipes

I must admit I'm a little perplexed as to the specificity of some items. Because of course requesting a specific color, number of pockets, etc in a binder increases the cost exponentially. Not to mention the likely scenario that all of these specific items here in our one stop shopping town will be sold out before I get there. ALTHOUGH . . . I wonder how many other parents dared actually email the principal and ask about school lists? There may be hope yet.

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The Plunge

We've been in the mountains of Northern Idaho for almost two weeks. The cabin does have a water tank and plumbing of sorts but the pipes were leaking and the water smelled strange, so we went all-out mountain style–washing dishes in the river, doing laundry in a plastic tub by the fire. Shampooing in the swimming hole. 

Which, by the way, was insanely cold. 

Perhaps this explains my behavior. Or maybe it was a backseat conversation I overheard on our last day. We lured our progeny off the mountain with promises of an extra special, once in a lifetime stop along the way home, and packed up and left.
Conversation went something like this:
"But what do we do with our bags and hats and stuff when we're on the roller coaster?"
     "Why do you think Mom's coming? She holds all the stuff."
"Why can't she ride it?"
      "She's too old. She'd like–have a heart attack or a seizure or something."
You see the stuff they spout when they think I'm not listening. 
So we get to the theme park (two hours early, might I add) and we sit there in the drizzle and I thank God for the clouds because I have been dreading this day ever since the school came out with the award program almost eight months ago wherein every child who completed their reading log for the year could earn a free ticket to Silverwood theme park. 
My children love to read and Silverwood is on the way home from the cabin. I had plenty of time to imagine painful scenarios involving scorching heat, heavy bags, and $6 bottles of water.
Having staked out an early spot in line (because once you're packed up and the destination is Silverwood, really, can you convince them to delay?) we were one of the first families into the park. Logic dictates that to avoid the lines you go to the big attractions first.  Like, say, Timber Terror, or the Aftershock rollercoaster they shipped in from Six Flags a year or so ago. 
You have to understand that I don't do rides. I don't even do playground swings. When I spin around too quickly to serve a plate of scrambled eggs I get lightheaded. If we never go to Disney Land, I will die happy. When carnival rides are unavoidable, I am the designated driver. And/or pack mule.  
My six-year-old, however, was all set to ride Timber Terror. The older kids weren't up for it, but he was. No lines, and no way was I sending him on his own, and then there was the questionable effects the mountain water might have had on my thought process, but in any case we buckle ourselves into the seats (how bad can it be? You only have to be 42" tall to ride), and listen as we are promised speeds up to 70 miles an hour depending on weather conditions, and off we go, clicking up the wooden trestle, only to then plummet and rise again and slam this way and that and float out of our seats and on and on and then approximately two minutes later it was all over. We survived. My head hurt minimally. 
He didn't open his eyes once and he didn't want to do it again, but he has something to tell the other little braggarts about, right?
So off we go to the next monstrosity. Dad doesn't really do coasters either, understand, so how we both ended up on Aftershock while the children cowered 191 feet below, I'm not sure. It's a bit of a blur, really. Upside down, sideways, and all of it several times and when it's all over it starts again, only you go backwards.

I actually prayed, standing there in line, not only for survival but to retain full mental acuity following the ride. 

I really, really, really did not want to do this. 
It was like standing on the river bank trying to convince my self that having given birth six times, jumping into the river all at one go shouldn't be so hard. Actually, in two weeks I never did manage that feat–I worked my way in every time, acclimating my skin inch by inch, bones joint by joint, until finally I was up to my chin and that finally dip under always sent shards of cold through my eardrums. My children mocked me. Demonstrated the canon ball and came up shrieking and shivering and blue around the mouth, but swearing the water was fine.
But I got on the coaster. Sounds so smooth and slow, doesn't it? Coaster? First of all, there is nothing smooth and slow about wooden roller coasters. I hope you have a strong neck. Aftershock was smoother–I'll admit. But slow–not so much.
And I didn't open my eyes. I tried, but I could never tell what the blur meant and so I let my lids do what they were made to do–insulate my mind the best they could from the sheer monstrosity of the experience. And insulate they did. No lasting ill effects. My nose is sore, but that's it. Mr. Mental Maytag was tall enough his face didn't slam into the padded bar, but mine's a touch tender today.
Oh, and my kids–they never went on the roller coaster. Oh no. They mocked me the rest of the day for not joining them on the other rides but I clung to that one fact–um, did you ride the big one with Mummy? No? Okay then, be a dear, give me your hat and go ride the tilt-a-whirl. 
I was off the hook for the next eleven hours. And the best part? We didn't even have to stay eleven hours, because the drizzle turned intermittently into thunderstorms and by 8:30 pm, an all-out downpour. We almost saw the sun once, for about thirty seconds but then the black and yellow clouds boiled into again. Creepy grayish-yellow, seriously.
We finally huddled under a canopy by the exit, waiting for an errant member of the family and watched a river form at our feet. My thirteen-year-old took off his tennis shoes, wrung them out, and looked out at the storm. "Huh," he said. "I never understood the whole idea of cancelling events due to rain, you know? Like what's the worst a bit of rain can do? Get spots on your shirt?" (What can I say? We're from Moses Lake.)
By the time we reached the van we looked like we'd all jumped in the creek. I was secretly glad to be two hours ahead  of schedule, muggy ride home or not–I knew what was coming at six a.m. this morning and even compared to a jump in the creek or a roller coaster ride, plunging back into this job was infinitely more shocking. 
I gained a new appreciation for pillows and appliances and the telephone, but as much as I missed my little ones–and yes, I actually did miss them–I have to tell you, it was quiet up there in the mountains. I've finally got the monsters all down for a nap this afternoon, but my ears are still ringing.

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