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Utah, United States
One night while tucking Abby into bed she sweetly chimed, "good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bites bug you!" I like her thinking. Sometimes life bites. The trick is to not let it bug you.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pass the Hankies, Please

The sun has been out today and it is finally feeling like spring around here! I even have a couple of daffodils about to pop. I'd love to be outside running around in it, but what I had hoped would just be the onset of hay fever seems to be developing into a full-fledged cold. The one great thing about being sick is having an excuse to sit in bed with the laptop, blogging!

Good news of the day: Abby and her partner won the school debate tournament! They will be going on to district next month. Maybe sharing DNA with a big-mouthed-mama hasn't been a complete disaster for her, after all!

Other news lifting my sickly spirits: my cool friends Lori and Karen have kindly featured me in recent blogs! Like I actually have a life, or something! The irony here is, they are both far more experienced bloggers than I, and you're in for a treat if you check them out.

In Hey... Things Change! Lori has done a very kind spotlight on me which includes my post about Annie's 5th birthday. This is a great honor for me, because Lori does a very professional, high-quality blog, covering diverse and interesting topics. Lori has great style, and anyone interested in what's hot from home decor and family entertaining to thrift store shopping and photography will find something fun in her pages. Lori strives to make the most of time and life, and that's what I love about her.

Karen's blog, Popcorn and Apples, is a decadent feast for foodies, world travelers and literature buffs. In a fun questionnaire Karen recently administered to blogospheric friends (I love taking verbiagic license), probing questions were asked which I answered pathetically. You can read my responses in which I am referred to as KTG, the nickname Karen and I modestly gave ourselves during our childhoods (Karen The Great). You can also read about one of our more embarrassing escapades in an old post of mine.

Love to my blogging friends! Love to my reading friends! Let's hope the next time we meet I'm not sneezing on you. I hope you read this post from a safe distance. Be well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Because I Said So, That's Why!

Scott has accused me of having something to say about everything, and truth be told, I do enjoy exploiting blog venues for soapbox purposes. But today I tried hard to think of something I felt inclined to pontificate on, and I came up with nothing. Then I realized I was actually saying a lot, but it was just all ridiculous. So I decided to start keeping track. Here are a few statements that left my mouth today:
  • Don't throw play-dough on the clean clothes.
  • An ox is not the same as a mountain goat.
  • We don't drink tubby water.
  • A dinosaur would not have been friends with another dinosaur who wanted to eat him.
  • Bun, or no bun?
  • You've gotta keep your tongue low in your mouth when you want to whistle.
  • Do not throw things at your brother's head.
I also had to explain to one of my sons why the word "pasty" is not a word he wants to use in noun form. (Unless he is changing his pronunciation and referring to delicious British savory pies, which he was not.)

But the quote of the day which will be etched in the family consciousness forever did not come from me. It was Ian, who said:
"What are those little things in the dirt that make the dirt dirty?"

I don't know why I ever even try to say anything meaningful. Clearly, the most interesting statements emerging from this house originate with my kids.

By the way, if anyone has an answer to the dirt question, please get back to me. I still haven't given an answer.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I have a piercing I regret. Two, actually. The first I got when I was 18, in the campus salon at the College Formerly Known As Ricks. (Is there a symbol for that for simplicity's sake?) It was a second ear piercing, directly above the first one, but in my left ear only. I was a freshman in college, breaking out and living on the edge. I'm sure I wore a side ponytail every day for at least a week after (on the opposite side, of course) .

The second pernicious piercing I got about 8 or 9 years later. I was a new mom with a baby, trying to hone my image and bring a sense of symmetry about in my life. Because my huge noggin (it has its own weather system) was leaning precariously leftward, and I was getting a kink in my neck. Because I was walking through the mall with my stroller-pushing mom-friends and I got a wild hair. Pick a reason (they mostly all apply), I got a second second hole, this time in my right ear.

Yes, now I regret both piercings. Now I am 40 and feel no need to make obvious my hipness (or connection to the 80's) through the wearing of extra earrings. Not that I haven't seen them look lovely on other women; they're just not "me" anymore. I'm not sure that they ever were, but I guess they served their purpose, once upon a couple of times.

Here's the issue: even though I haven't worn earrings in those holes for over a decade, the holes are still visible and obvious. What can I say? My luscious ear lobes emphasize those holes like dimples in a baby's bum. Earrings or none, my lobes shout "yoo hoo! Post 80's new-waver-wannabe on board!" Earrings or none, I walk around with piercer's remorse.

Now, to everyone who has multiple piercings that they enjoy: more power to you, live long and prosper. I realize how ridiculous this all sounds, considering the myriad of piercing options available these days. This is just my own, goofy, personal hang-up.

I guess you could say I'm pretty boring when it comes to ornamentation now, wearing only one pair of earrings at a time, a silver necklace I rarely take off, my wedding ring and an occasional bracelet. Keeping it simple and appropriate to my carpooling/diaper-changing lifestyle. I don't feel the need to make a statement with my jewelry anymore, and if I did, the statement would need to be more like "Mommy don't play that." (If anyone happens to know exactly what jewelry makes that statement please let me know! My kids aren't getting the message.)

I have pointed out the holes to my kids and mentioned my regret, in the hopes that they will think twice someday, when they are tempted to alter themselves with something they might later regret. (Who am I kidding? When I got my ears pierced I couldn't imagine ever being 40, let alone regretting my trendy accessories.)

So a couple of days ago I found myself in a grocery store with my 6 year-old son (something I try to avoid as much as possible). We had come through the shopping trip generally unscathed when we arrived at the check-out counter. Ian immediately looked up at the checker and announced (not once, but three times) "Mom! That guy has huge holes in his ears!"

I looked up and sure enough, the checker was sporting some dime-sized gauges in his earlobes. And he was not amused.

I could have played "hipster mom" with a comment of "yes, son! Aren't they groovy?" But instead I went right into damage-control mode with Ian. Glares and squeezes don't work with him; not blatant enough. I bent down to his level and whispered "stop talking until we get out of here!" Ian just looked up at me with his typical, bug-eyed surprised look. The checker never said a word but my total to me, and I smiled like a dork as the transaction was wrapped up.

Then I got to have the don't stare, point, or talk about people who are different than us chat on the way to the car. I think Ian mostly heard me, but who knows. I'm not really sure if I handled this the right way, anyway. It's not like he was staring at someone with a physical disability they had no control over; this guy knew very well that he had been consciously trying to stretch out his earlobes. And it's not like it's the rarest thing to see anymore- we have relatives who wear them. But this guy was bugged at Ian's comment, and I didn't know where to go with that. I mean, if some kid came up to me in the store and pointed out my earrings, I'd probably take it as a compliment. Hmmm...

I am aware there are cosmetic surgeries to repair unwanted piercings, and maybe someday when there aren't 5,000 more important issues to deal with in my life I'll consider that. In the meantime, I'm going to start compiling a list of comeback lines I can use, next time I take Ian out in public.

Friday, March 25, 2011

HappyBirthday, Annie

Right: March 27, 2006, upon arriving home from the Hospital. Annie (2 days old) snoozed obliviously as Andrew and Ian decorated her seat with their favorite toys.

It's a bit drizzly today, as it was the morning Annie arrived. It had been a long night, and Annie was born in a peacefully quiet delivery room, surrounded by tired people (Dad, Grandma DeAnn, a nurse or two and dear friend Julie Jones, CNM). That was March 25, 2006. It's hard to imagine Annie as a 5 year-old, but at the same time, 5 years is such a short time ago compared to how long ago it feels. The hospital she was born in isn't even operating anymore (no pun intended).

I never imagined her life would be so short.

The dank weather does not reflect my feelings today, however. Today I will be celebrating Annie's birth. I will take 5 colorful balloons to the cemetery. Tonight I will serve the kids a special treat, and we will share memories of their little sister.

Annie was the happiest baby I've ever known. She charmed everyone who met her, and had a smile for everyone. Someday I know I'll hold her in my arms again and smile back at her.

Today I will celebrate the fact that I have another daughter, even though we aren't together now. I will celebrate the knowledge that we will be together forever when this short life is over. How appropriate that her birthday falls just before Easter. The understanding of Christ's resurrection has an even more special meaning to me now. I will be eternally grateful for what he has done for me, and Annie, and continue to take comfort in the knowledge that she is with Him.

Our drizzles have turned into snow, and a light blanket of white is beginning to build across my sprouting daffodils and crocuses. Pretty in white. Just like my Annie.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inappropriately Dressed?

Tonight I was fortunate to have spent the evening with some lovely ladies at a baby shower. The food and company were both exceptional. Before the evening was through, I found myself in an interesting conversation with a couple of other women addressing "How Women Dress These Days." Two hours later I am still musing over the ideas discussed.

Assuming I was Woman #3 in the conversation, I'll refer to the two other ladies as Woman #1 and Woman #2. Each of us conveniently represented different decades of life: 60s, 50s and 40s (barely, thank you very much).

Our conversation began innocently, unitedly expressing distaste for the way kids dress today (right after discussing the nickel candy bars and horse-and-buggy rides of our childhoods- but I digress). Our generational differences began to show when Woman #1 offered, "Women today don't know how to dress, either." She made a good case. We no longer tend to follow the clear-cut rules of yester-year. Many of our gender don't even have any qualms about wearing their pajamas to the grocery store.

I suggested that the changes that have taken place are permanent, that the up-and-coming generations don't even know about those rules, let alone adhere to them. Woman #1 reiterated that there were certain places where skirts will always be required: theaters, weddings, funerals. I disappointed her when I admitted to attending stage productions in dress pants. (Heck- I'm pretty sure I showed up to "Phantom" in Edinburgh wearing jeans. I was 25!)

Woman #2 seemed to see both of our perspectives, understandably, considering she falls right between us in age.

I don't think Woman #1 is wrong, in the sense that I think it would be nice if there were more widely respected standards for dress. I think she is outdated in thinking that people will return to adhering to such standards.

If it were up to me, we'd go back to bustles and lace gloves, but for the time being, I think I'll start shopping for a new warm-up suit to wear to my next parent/teacher conference.

Monday, March 21, 2011

There is no "I" in "Japan"*

The Japanese word for "I" has four syllables: wa-ta-ku-shi. Kind of a cumbersome word in conversation, and they hardly ever use it. Where we would say "I am going to school" in English, they would simply say "going to school," with the reference to first person being implied. Whenever I have a Japanese conversation, my American-ness really shows in that I tend to want to use the watakushi word a lot. Scott often reminds me to drop it, and then I feel so self centered for having used it in the first place. We Americans value our own opinions so much, we start a large number of our sentences with "I." I want, I heard, I think...

I (har) have been thinking a great deal about the Japanese culture lately, in light of reports on how they are handling the earthquake/tsunami tragedy as a society. My heart just goes out to them as a people. What is the death toll at now? 8,000? It is horrific to see the tragic human drama going on over there, and inspiring to see the stoic way the people are cleaning up. Maybe it's weird to say, but I feel sort-of, well, proud of them. Not to condescend in any way; it is an admirational variety of pride.

Last November, Scott and I found ourselves lodging in the French Quarter of New Orleans. We did lots of the typical tourist stuff while there and had a great time. But even though it has been over five years (I know, crazy, huh?) since Hurricane Katrina, people there are still talking about it. The French Quarter is as beautiful and charming as ever, but the people are clearly still traumatized, and so is much of the infrastructure of the greater New Orleans area.

We drove through the Lower 9th Ward and saw much of what you've undoubtedly seen on the news- lots of boarded up homes, and empty lots with nothing but driveways that once lead to attached garages. Occasionally we'd see holes in the roofs of the condemned houses, which I didn't think much of, until it was called to my attention that such a hole had been the only exit for a family trapped in the attic of their flooded home.

There is no question the victims of Hurricane Katrina suffered unimaginable trauma. Many long-time residents have fled, and the economy still hasn't recovered. If my research is accurate, the final death toll was 4,081.

In the heart of New Orleans there is a Katrina museum where you can follow the events from storm to social breakdown. It was hard to be reminded of the tragedy and ensuing fiasco. No matter who you think was at fault for not getting aid to people sooner, I'm sure we all wish we could have seen the united efforts of survivors the way we're seeing them in Japan. Where they've lost twice as many people. Where they've not just suffered one natural disaster, but two. Where they are experiencing the second greatest nuclear nightmare in their history. Yeah, it was also unbearably hot after Katrina. Sendai has been covered in snow. Enough said.

Are we doing enough to prepare ourselves for natural disasters? Are we prepared mentally to simply be civil in an emergency? Could we turn off "Dancing With the Stars" for 15 minutes to come up with a plan for our own families? Are we in the U.S. doomed to expect Katrina scenarios after our future earthquakes/volcanoes/hurricanes/tornadoes/you name the disaster? We know these things are on the way, which is why I'm so worried...

So back to no "I" in "Japan." The recurring reminder in every news report and video clip coming out of Sendai is that every survivor, every aid worker, and everyone cleaning up is "working for the greater good." A survivor being interviewed on NHK (Japanese t.v. network) today stated "we all have to help each other. What else can we do?" I guess no one has suggested looting or brandishing arms to her yet.

We've got it in us to pull together, and our history proves it. Maybe we should remind ourselves of that more often, and add some extra patience, common sense and brotherly kindness to our 72 hour emergency kits.

Kudos to the Japanese. I just hope folks over here are paying attention.

* Unless of course you are writing "Nihon" or "Nippon." Then again, in the Japanese alphabet there is no letter "i." Whatever. Just go with me on this.