Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Recant

I take it back. I am not peaceful. I am not calm. Pee-pee is the enemy. My sworn enemy for life. I don't care how cute you are-- DO NOT MAKE PEE-PEE ON THE CARPET IN MY HOUSE OR IN YOUR UNDERWEAR!!!!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Another Day

Today was a fairly happy, peaceful day. And I'm not being sarcastic as I write that. It was a nice, laid-back, fairly normal day. There are lots of lovely, happy and interesting things that happen to me-- things like reading a good book, searching for great choral music and eating delicious cupcakes-- I just don't choose to write about them on my blog. Instead I write about poop. If I ever become a freelance writer and write a book, it will probably be called "Flush: Close Encounters with Poop" or maybe just "A Narrative History of Poop and Diapering." Haven't you always wondered how people dealt with diapers in the 1800's? If you lived in a one-room cabin and it was freezing cold outside, how on earth did you dry your laundry? The answer is you probably didn't wash it in the first place. But what if you had diapers? They would have to be washed. How would you dry them? On a clothesline in the cabin? What if they froze first? Would you duck under the clothesline to set the table? But now I digress. Back to my happy day.

Addy had playgroup today. It was at a house in our neighborhood, so I walked her over. Jackson and I came back just in time for me to rehearse with someone I am accompanying for a musical number. Toward the end of the rehearsal my phone rang, but I ignored it-- I was in a rehearsal and trying to concentrate. Then my cell phone rang. I ignored it too. My phone rang again; my cell phone rang again. After several rounds of this, I decided whoever it was really wanted to talk to me, so I picked up the phone. It was the mom from playgroup. Addy was really fussy and pulling at her ear. So I ended my rehearsal, went to pick Addy up and took her to the doctor.

Sure enough, Addy had an ear infection. The doctor wrote a prescription for an antibiotic and I went to Target to get it filled. I drove through Taco Bell to get Jackson and Addy lunch, made a list in the Target parking lot while they ate it, and felt quite pleased with myself and my high level of organization.

We went to Target, procured the necessary items (as well as several more, as typically happens at Target) and started to make our way toward the checkout. Jackson was looking at some Legos and started to dance around a bit.I should have made him stop and taken him to the bathroom right then and there, but we only had one item left (night-time diapers, ironically enough). We went to get the last item and I got distracted looking at shirts for Addy. At this point Jackson realized he needed to go and told me he needed to use the potty. So we made a beeline to the front of the store to the bathrooms.

Jackson insisted he could go potty by himself and wanted me to stay outside. I'm all for fostering independence, but for the sake of safety went into the bathroom with him and let him go in the stall by himself. A minute later peeked under the door to see how he was doing. There was a puddle in front of the toilet and a teeny bit of poop on the floor that he was about to step in. I opened the door and saw poop smeared on the potty, in his underwear, on his pants, on the floor and even on the bottom of his shoes. He still didn't want me to help, but that wasn't an option at this point. So I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning up poop and pee from his shoes and the bathroom stall.

As I finally restored Jackson to some semblance of cleanliness, I pondered my options. I had a full cart of groceries and household items I still needed to pay for sitting outside the bathroom. I had left the diaper bag in the car. Jackson's underwear and pants he had been wearing were now reasonably clean and poop-free but completely wet. Somewhere in the new mommy introduction class i took at the hospital they skipped the part when they reviewed your options for checking out of Target with a half-naked four-year-old. Should I leave him in the bathroom and go buy a pair of undies and pants so I could finish my shopping? I didn't really feel comfortable sticking 'naked boy' in the cart, but it would be a bit awkward walking around Target with a boy who was only wearing tennis shoes from the waist down. The diaper bag was in the car, so I decided my best option was to take him out and get him some clean underwear. We marched out to the car with Jackson buck naked from the waist down except for his tennis shoes. Getting to the car was a laborious process because he kept trying to hide (so people wouldn't see him naked).

We got to the car, got clean underwear but found that the diaper bag did not have a clean pair of pants. I was sorely tempted to just leave (even with an hour's worth of Target stuff in our cart back in the store), but I remembered that Addy's prescription was still in the cart and we had already opened a box of fruit snacks we were going to buy and eaten a few packs (all by me, of course-- love those fruit snacks). :) So I got a new cart, sat Jackson in the cart basket and set his jacket over his legs so people wouldn't see that he was only in his undies. We went in, took our cart through the checkout and then left. Although I never did manage to get those night-time diapers.

And I managed to stay quite calm and composed through the entire thing, with nary a curse word muttered under my breath. Acceptance, right? "There is nowhere I should be or anything I should be doing besides exactly what I'm doing right now. I am right where I need to be." Even if that is trying to figure out how to get poop off of 4T sweatpants in the Target bathroom.

Did I mention that we got a dog? At least she is housebroken-- well, mostly-- which is more than I can say for Jackson.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tranquilizers Please?

One of the unfortunate side effects of only posting twice in a month is that nobody reads your blog anymore. Sigh. That would be more disappointing if I were actively writing posts.

Tonight was one of those nights when I wished it was legal to give your kids tranquilizers. Long day, even longer evening. I was awakened this morning just before six by a certain three-year-old who had wet his bed-- soaking completely through the night-time diaper that he had on to drench everything. After stripping the bed, replacing the sheets, showering him off, re-making the bed, and getting him clean pajamas, I went back to bed. Dave got the older kids off to school and let me sleep in.

I woke up after nine and realized that Addy was supposed to be at playgroup at nine. So I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and raced her over to playgroup, getting there a half hour late. When I dropped her off I was really impressed with the mom doing playgroup that day. I had never been to this friend's house for playgroup before and she totally went all-out. She had set up some play tents, had dress-ups out for the girls to play in and even had a few extra kids there. Hmmmm, maybe I should consider stepping it up a bit when it's my turn. It wasn't until I returned to pick Addy up at 11:30 and she had a party bag and foam crown that I connected that it was a birthday party. We had received an invitation to a birthday party (that was planned to coincide with playgroup so all of the playgroup girls could come) and I had totally spaced it. No RSVP, no gift. Yikes. Good thing I got *so much* work done on the computer while Addy was gone (while Jackson sat on my lap sticking his hand in front of the computer screen, pushing buttons or pulling on my arms). The party was a rousing success, as evidenced by the ginormous fit that Addy threw when she had to take off her princess dress to leave.

The afternoon was punctuated by Jackson screeching and ended up with me giving in to pleas from Jared to zone out to Plants vs. Zombies (which the other children watched, entranced, for some time). I succumbed to Camryn's request for me to buy eggs so she could make cookies, which resulted in a trip to Target with four kids to buy said eggs and the forgotten birthday present. Trips to Target with four kids are always exciting, so we tried to keep it short.

The minutes leading up to dinner ended with mass pandemonium as Camryn mixed cookies, I made frozen Ravioli, Jackson incessantly whined for milk (which will lead to him not eating his dinner), Dave madly tried to finish something on the computer for work and Jared argued with Addy (yes, the two year old) about where to put the plates on the table. We had dinner and a short family night/calendering session. Did I ever mention that it is really hard to write neatly on a calender when two different kids are climbing on and off your lap? We frosted cookies and had only two of them bite the dust and end up frosting-side down on the floor. Eventually I retreated to my computer, hoping the kids would eventually fall off to sleep by themselves-- which they didn't. I finally gathered enough courage to face putting them to bed whilst Dave still worked on his presentation for tomorrow.

I have been working on a series of house projects over the past week or so and they are starting to build up in varying degrees of incompleteness. I have ten things that need to be returned, five things to buy, a car that is six weeks late for an oil change and an overdue library video. The Cantico concert is in less than a month and things are piling up for that as well. How do you fit a 7-foot piano, 20 singers, a harp and an oboist on a 25x12 foot stage in an aesthetically pleasing and artistically functional way? Unfortunately, they didn't cover topics like that in my music major classes.  

I have been trying to work recently on counting my blessings, but something about that phrase really rubs me the wrong way. (Am I allowed to say that during November? Will lightning strike me dead?) I'm not saying that I'm not thankful or don't think I need to be thankful. It's just that that particular phrase "Count your blessings" seems to come with a whole subtext for me. Something along the lines of: "Count your blessings. It could always be worse-- and probably will be soon if you don't start showing some gratitude. Don't you realize how easy you have it? Poor you, to have to struggle with central heating, plentiful food, automatic washing machines and four beautiful children that you chose to bring into this world. Tough cookies."

I guess my trouble is not so much with counting my blessings. I am grateful. It's that I feel like in order to truly "count my blessings" I can't-- or don't have the right to-- to acknowledge that I struggle and things are hard, even though I am very blessed. I feel like "counting my blessings" is equated with me saying, "My life is easy and everything is smooth sailing. Any difficulties I have are so minor compared with my blessings that they hardly even count." Which may be true, but isn't what I need to hear-- or have it in me to say-- after an exhausting day caring for four children.

Last week I was thinking a lot about God and how he shows his love for us. I get irritated by children's books and such that say things like, "I know God loves me because I have a nice home and good parents." Does that mean that God loves the children less who are born into poverty or have abusive parents? I don't think God is like that. I have a good friend who is going through a lot of major difficulties in her life right now, yet more than probably anyone else I know right now, she knows that God loves her. It got me to thinking that frequently we equate God's love for us with the level of ease or comfort in our lives when actually those things are completely decoupled. Did God love Job? Then why did he let terrible things happen to him? Did he approve of King Herod more than Jesus (as evidenced by Herod's wealth, power and ease)? No. Negative things are part of being human and mortal. Pain is a way for us to learn and grow (and not one that I particularly like, I might say). But pain is not evidence of my--or God's-- failure.

It is much easier for me to accept difficult things when I don't start thinking, "What did I do wrong to deserve this?" and instead think, "This is temporary. With God's help, I will learn from this and become stronger."

So back to being thankful.... If I can decouple God's love for me with things being easy, then maybe it is okay for me to decouple being thankful from having to feel like things are easy. Maybe it is okay to say, "Today was a really hard day-- and I'm thankful my kids are asleep. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to grow-- but I'm even more thankful that they have temporarily subsided." :) And maybe it is okay to say, "I am abundantly blessed and tremendously thankful-- and my life is difficult and hard (at least for me) and challenges me to my very core." Being thankful doesn't mean having to ignore the painful and the ugly and pretend they aren't there-- they still are, no matter how grateful you are. For me being thankful is not letting the painful and ugly crowd out the beautiful and sweet. Letting the pain overshadow and drive out the joy is just as untrue as pretending that the pain isn't there in the first place. So maybe I need to add to my goals-- along with peacefuly coexisting with pee-pee-- to learn to peacefully, thankfully coexist with discomfort, but to see it and acknowledge it just the same. 

Enough pontificating. Off to bed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Only the Elect... It's Election Day!

Today is Election Day-- which is reason to celebrate, even in an off year, right? Right???

Well, even if you're not excited about the opportunity to fulfill your civic responsibility to weigh in on who would be the best judge you've never heard of in District 57A, I think today is the perfect opportunity to make my one political post of the year. I personally have regressed from being very politically active and having strong political opinions to a persistent waffling between disillusioned, disappointed or just plain disheartened. But even being disheartened and disillusioned require effort, so I have subsided into just plain apathy.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe in fulfilling my civic responsibility to vote. While I typically do a night-before crash course examination of the candidates the night before, this year I picked up my "Voter's Pamphlet" guide to the candidates several weeks early so I had plenty of time to peruse the half-page blurbs informing me of why I should vote for each person. I was richly rewarded for my studiousness with an exciting array of candidates to represent me in Congress (and this was only the Primary, people!).

Candidate #1: I will call LuLu. She is an "Independent Media Consultant" (which instantly brought to mind the quote from Father of the Bride: "That's just a fancy term for unemployed!"). She says I should elect her because she "supported our government's efforts to find and punish the 9/11 masterminds." Who were all hiding in Iraq, right? She assures me that she will "vote to bring home... [our] troops as soon as our ground commanders agree it is safe." Um, maybe she is worried about all of the soldiers from bad neighborhoods? I know Iraq can be scary, but have they ever been to East L.A.? Besides, she promises that she can balance the budget in five years or less. Take that!

Candidate #2: I will call DeeDee. Her occupation: IUOE, since June 1, 1994 (not June 10, in case you were wondering). And you couldn't be wondering exactly what an IUOE is because everyone knows that. (If you are so uninformed, Google will tell you it is International Union of Operating Engineers.)
But she expands upon this by giving an extensive occupational background, complete with punctuation inconsistencies and some excellent grammatical examples along the lines of "Since November 1982, I became a Construction Corporation Vice President." (That's a looooong process.) But just in case you are biased against construction or IUOE, she is sure to include that she worked for TG&Y Department store from 1972-1974. (That alone got my vote. I used to have my pictures taken there when I was a kid.) Before 1972 she helped the elderly clean their homes.

Instead of pointing out how she can use her cleaning experience to "clean out" the crap on Capitol Hill or use her TG&Y experience to "sort through the junk" in all of the bills coming to her desk, she asks me to vote for her based on the fact that her parents will be married 60 years in April and she and her husband have been married 25 years. She is quick to point out that she met her husband while working on a project together but they began their relationship "2 years later, long after the job was complete." (Phew!)

Candidate #3: Starts by using the "Occupation" space to promote his physical/mental/fitness program "Get Energized" for "governments, businesses and public," complete with a phone number and URL for his website. His program prevents illnesses or diseases and slows down aging. (Did he mention he's in excellent health? Yes, he did.)

He is the most experienced of all of the candidates, with a background that includes "speaker, inventor, ... coach, manager (had an Award), supervisor, social worker, counselor, machinist, mechanic, welder, truck driver, logger, firefighter and beekeeper." Regardless of the fact that he could put his skills to work welding congress together and putting out governmental fires, I don't know if I could really fully support him without knowing that he kept bees or was a manager-- who had an award. (If you aren't already convinced, he has governmental experience in "Tank Army.")

This guy is bold. He claims, "No one better than me could help/rescue this state and nation." (So does he mean that there is no one better than him to help out there or that anyone who is better than him wouldn't be able to help?) But you can't claim that he pussyfoots around issues. Oh no, he gives a long list of (creatively punctuated-- I've tried to replicate it) promises including:

To defend this country from weapons of mass destruction,
Economy: I have a plan to create a few thousands jobs in Oregon and a few millions jobs in the USA.
Budget: balance it in a few months.     [Now take that, Miss "I'll balance it in five years"!]
Health Care: to all, cut cost of drugs.
Car Insurance is a Street Robbery. If no accident - 50% money back. [I'm not sure what this is, but if it's money back, I like it!]
Crimes: harder punishment
Elect US Judges/Attorneys,

There is still more on his platform, including teaching children respect for parents, teachers and the elderly and helping to make peace in the MiddleEast. What can I say? He's got it covered.

There are two more candidates left to go, but this post is too long already and I voted over a week ago. I just wanted to celebrate the diversity and options we have available to us as Oregonians as we choose representatives to carry on our tradition of a democratic republic. Hooray for America!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Commemoration

I looked at my blog today and realized that it has been exactly a month since I wrote a blog post. So I decided to commemorate the occasion with this not-a-blog. The end.

(I really do have lots to write about, but whenever I am conducting Cantico my blog posts get few and far between. One of these days I'll catch up... soon... honest.