Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Bantor

I posted a picture of my Halloween pumpkin on facebook and this is the conversation that ensued between me and Shari. Here's the funny part: aside from her thinking I did a good job and my feeling a little soreness in my hand from all of the carving, not a single part of this conversation is accurate. But this is how we go on, bantering back and forth. We could do it for hours and it's just a perfect example of why I love her :-)

Shari: "Good Job!"
Me: "Thanks! It did turn out great but unfortunately I no longer have use of my hands after all of the sawing as they went numb and fell off. I'm typing with my tongue right now."
Shari: "I thought you lost your tongue a long time ago because of..."
Me: "...that time I was trying to lick cake batter from the beaters while they were spinning? No. The doctors sewed it back on."
Shari: "Oh - is that's your story and you're sticking to it?"
Me: "Trust me, nobody wants the real story."
Shari: "Haaaaa! I believe you."
Me: "Because you really want to know how someone could get both carpal tunnel syndrome and a mangled tongue...all in one night?"
Shari: "Actually..."
Me: "and don't even get me started on the rug burn."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Bit Of Paranoia

Well, I finally caved and ended up getting my kids vaccinated for the H1N1 flu. Well, Bear got both the seasonal and H1N1 and Bubba got the H1N1. I'm still waiting to get the seasonal for him and Birdie.

I did it because there was an explosion of illness in our schools here in Connecticut. Now, there is probably a lot of paranoia going on and what might be seen as a "flu-like" symptom is actually a normal cold when people are mis-informed, but the fact remains that there is a HUGE population of the school that is sick. There is no question about that. Personally, I don't think we're seeing the brunt of it now. I think we're seeing some colds, some allergies, some viruses and before we know it BAM, we're gonna get hit with the big one and I don't want my kids to already have compromised immune systems because they've been fighting off whatever the heck else has been out there! Most of the time I could care less about my kids picking up a cold or even a stomach virus. Building immunity is a good thing. But this time seems different and I'm not willing to take the chance. Especially since there are ways to reduce the chances of catching it.

Apparently the dose doesn't take effect till a couple of weeks after the vaccine is administered. So we are on lock-down for the next two weeks. Maryn is not allowed to got to the Y or to go to our bible study or birthday parties or even to church. Mostly because those are the places where she is in contact with very small children in small confined spaces. Small children are drippy and sneezy and can't control it so that they sneeze and a stream of snot shoots out of their noses and lands directly across the room and splatters on the wall and then drips down the wall as the slimy stringy snot dangles precariously. And that's a pleasant scenario!

I'm leery of letting her go to pre-school and I'm considering keeping her out of dance for at least a week. I figure it's a small price to pay to keep her from getting sick over the next couple of weeks. After that I will feel much more confident that she is protected. Birdie and Bubba are still going to school. And while they are constantly exposed to stuff, I've taught them to wash their hands, use sanitizer, cover their faces if they cough or sneeze and not touch their faces.

There are no guarantees and if they get something, it won't be the end of the world but I will try my best to keep them healthy. I will spray the house with Lysol and wash things down one more time. I will make sure they take their vitamins and eat healthy meals and get plenty of rest and fluids. I'm stocked up with vitamin C and wet ones.

I really want to keep them in working order. Because as bad as they would feel when they are sick, I would suffer much more having all of them home. Seriously people, all three of them plus Tariku and Chase all day long? It would be more fun for me to have a bad case of swine flu, a dash of ecoli and a flesh eating disease.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What It Sounds Like At My House

Birdie: *cough*
Bubba: *sneeze*
Birdie: *grunt*
Bear: *sneeze*
Me: *cough*
Bubba: *sniff*
Birdie: *groan*
Bubba: *blows nose*
Me: *clears throat*
Bear: *sneeze*

Believe it or not, nobody has a temperature or diarrhea or vomiting. So all of this sniffling, sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose and cough? Well, I suppose I should be glad it's not much, much, much worse.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back Off Yahoo

Have any of you noticed that I haven't been posting pictures for my photo blog? That's because I've completely locked myself out of flickr. From the first time I signed up, it automatically signed me in and I never had to which means that for like, oh, 8 months I haven't had to recall my login or password! Eight months is a long time and honestly, I have a hard time recalling my own social security number so I don't have that great of memory to begin with. The other day I called a credit card to make a phone payment and when they asked me my date of birth I gave them THE WRONG DAY!! I stumbled on my pets name because well, did I get this credit card back when we had Tyson and Buddy or was it when we had Spencer? Did we have Minor then? Damn! The point is, I'm not all that good with passwords and I very frequently have to have my logins and passwords emailed to me. That sounds easy enough except for that I have FOUR email addresses!

So, the other day I was fooling around with Flickr and accidentally logged myself out and then couldn't remember my login or password and apparently Yahoo has taken over Flickr now and they are a real roadblock. I feel like I'm standing in a crowded room and I spot Flickr across the way so I'm standing on my tiptoes, waving and smiling and mouthing "I forgot my password!!" But every time they start to respond Yahoo stands right in my line of sight and starts babbling away about something that I could care less about. So I lean over and try to see Flickr again but Yahoo gets right in my face again.

BACK OFF YAHOO!!! Here...let me buy you a drink. I'm sure you are very nice and I'm sure you will make someone very happy someday but I still have feeling for Flickr. I miss Flickr. *sob*

Howie and I have tried everything but when I go to Flickr and ask for my password, Yahoo sends me my YAHOO password and refuses to let me retrieve my old information. We've tried every possible login and password for every email address and the same thing happens each time, Yahoo butts their faces in!

I want to weep at the idea that I have lost nearly a year's worth of photography for my daily 365 photo blog. I'm going to have to start from scratch. *sob*

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where I'm Going, Part IV

You thought I was done, didn't you? Because the story should go that I found God, we fell in love and the music swelled as we rode off into the sunset together. But we all know that real relationships aren't like that. Real relationships are full of good times and bad times and getting to know each other and putting up with his leaving the toilet seat up. And honestly, even though I went to church for a while it took some time for me to come around. We even skipped some church during the summer. And sure, a relationship with God does not include toilet seats but it is a process. It takes time.

Do you remember when you first met your husband or wife? Do you remember getting excited to see them and talk to them and thinking about them non-stop. Do you remember talking about them to all of your friends because there just wasn't any other subject that held your interest for long? That part of the relationship is what we call "falling in love".

Well my friends, I'm completely falling in love with God. It didn't come right away. You know, because I played hard to get. But now? Well, I just can't seem to get enough. I am obnoxiously head over heels. The only thing I haven't done is write "I heart Jesus" all over my school notebooks. Because I honestly do feel like a silly, giddy school girl.

Don't even think that I'm comfortable with this, cause I'm not. I cannot even believe that I just typed those words! I feel ridiculous but I just can't help myself. I'm reading my bible daily, something that has never, ever, EVER even occurred to me before. I don't do it because anyone told me to or because I have a desire to quote scripture (I don't have that good a memory so that will never happen anyway). I do it because it's a way for me to know him. Kind of like when I was first dating Howie and I would snoop through his room just to smell his clothes and look through his photo albums. It wasn't because I wanted to violate his privacy, it was because I just wanted to be closer to him, to feel like I knew him better. It's the same thing.

I'm still not used to any of this because like I said, I feel awkward. I feel like I simply can't believe what I'm doing! I can hardly recognize myself! It's like how when you're young and you swear that you will never become your mother and then one day you wake up and you ARE you're mother. It's who you are but it feels weird to embrace that identity, embarrassing even.

I even attended a Christian women's conference and didn't even feel that out of place. I have to be totally honest with you in saying that if I had gone to that very same conference a year ago, it would have made my skin crawl. In fact, I'm doing things that I simply can't believe I'm doing. I- ME-The person who once proclaimed herself "agnostic" is now in a bible study group *gasp*.

Maybe it's because it's new and exciting and interesting but I am simply bursting at the seams with happiness. My cup is over flowing like wake-up-in-the-morning with a smile plastered on my face kind of happy. Sometimes it is external because I'm grinning and bouncing and beaming. Like I just swallowed a hand-full of ecstasy and washed it down with a gallon of Red Bull. Other times, it's completely invisible. On the outside I am simply still yet inside I'm filled with the kind of contentment and joy that I never knew was possible. My mind is quiet and I feel focused and full of happiness. I am 100% fine with the world. That isn't to say that I'm perfect or that I don't have a lot of work to do because boy howdy, there is like major construction that needs to be done. Like, rip me down all the way to the studs and re-build from the ground up kind of construction. But that will all come in good time. In the meantime I am going to sit back and enjoy the trip.

All of this has been a journey that started all the way back to as long as I can remember. There have been so many dead-ends and detours. There have been road blocks and rough terrain. I think the loss of my mom was the catalyst that brought everything to a head and therein lies the silver lining to her death. At bible study the other day one of the women was asked how she endures the pain of a child with severe medical complications and the fear that she could lose him at any moment. She said, "I have to remember that as much as I love him, God loves him more." And that moment right there was the moment that I finally got it. That God didn't take my mom because he didn't love me. He took my mom because of how much he loved HER. It's never been about me.

I will always be Licha which means that I will always be silly and sarcastic and dirty minded. I will always have a compulsion for chocolate and salty chips. I will always love Ultimate Fighting Championships and bull riding. I will always be loving and caring and giving. I will always be the fundamental things that make me who I am. But also, I am different and will never be the same.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come."
2 Cor 5:17 (niv)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where I'm Going, Part III

Something happened to me after my dad died. I think I finally surrendered. I realized that I was way over-powered and I may as well come to accept things or else I would be forced to be angry and miserable forever. I finally found peace in a time of pain. It was like my mom's death ripped my heart to pieces and my dad's death healed it.

It's hard to explain but it was like I was in a battle and life kept knocking me down. It would sock me in the eye and I kept getting up and taunting it by saying, "bring it, oh and while you're at it go fuck yourself!" And then life would punch me in the stomach and I would stubbornly stand up yet again and give it the finger. Then life would punch me in the kidney's and break my teeth and I would spit the blood out and I would stand, fists up, ready to fight. I kept going, thinking that I could beat this crazy life but it was a losing battle and eventually, I conceded.

I would love to tell you that I found solace in religion or that I prayed to God to help me or that I had some kind of holy spirit moment but that simply wasn't the case. At least that's what I thought at the time. I just simply allowed myself to accept things. And let me tell you, that's not an easy thing for me to do so you can imagine how broken I was to finally admit defeat.

I often think that I was exhausted into submission. I had been running around for nearly two years trying to keep my parents healthy. I was trying to move them up here and take care of their medical needs while they were thousands of miles away. When my mom got sick I moved my dad to Connecticut and he didn't even make it to my house the first night. He went straight to Hartford Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. Then it was dialysis every two days and doctor's appointments and keeping him out of the sugar cabinet and trying to convince him he shouldn't smoke. All the while I was dealing with the stresses of keeping my mom happy and sane in a nursing home setting, taking care of the three kids and oh, did I mention that my mother-in-law lived with us too!?! That's a whole other story but stressful doesn't even begin to cover that one.

After my mom died, the stress didn't stop. In fact, it geared up. My dad was completely out of control. He refused to live with me because he wanted to go to Mexico but I knew he would die immediately without medical treatment so I convinced him to live with his sister in Oklahoma. That way he could be close to his family and still get dialysis. He made her completely miserable and I was on the phone with her nearly daily. I could barely understand her through the sobs. He had become physically and verbally abusive to her. He got lost countless times and had to be found by the police. He would run away from the dialysis center and refuse treatment. He disappeared once and was found drunk, nearly dead. Twice, he almost killed someone because he would pass out behind the wheel while he was driving and even though they would hide the keys he would hot-wire the cars. When he almost killed a small child I convinced my cousin to disable his truck's engine. He was clearly confused and suffering and missing my mom but none of us could control him. Tough decisions had to be made and unfortunately, those fell to me. It simply wasn't easy. It was a lot of responsibility, a lot of stress and a lot of work.

All of that ended when he passed away. There was silence and peace and for me, there was finally rest and acceptance.

As I lived my life with a sense of acceptance I noticed that there was still a void. I attributed it to the losses we'd suffered. And then one day I heard it. And let me tell you, I am not the easily convinced type of person and no I didn't literally hear something like with my ears. That would have made me freak the heck out! No, it was in my thoughts. I kept thinking that I needed to go to church. Except I, me, self did NOT want to go to church. So why would that even pop in there. It was like I didn't have control of my mind, like my thoughts were interrupted. The thoughts were completely contrary to what I was actually wanting. It wasn't guilt it and wasn't what I had been thinking at all. But I kept hearing it, over and over and over again. I kept ignoring it. Clearly all those college doobies had ruined my brain and inhibited my judgment!

Not long after, I was talking to a friend of mine who asked what we were doing for Easter. I told her that we were going to hide some eggs in our yard and hope that the neighborhood dogs didn't get them before our kids did. She told me that her church had an awesome hunt for the kids every year and we should come and let the kids have at it. And here is what is funny about this story. She DID NOT want to ask me to come to her church. Because lets be honest, it's awkward isn't it? People don't like to be preached at and talked to about how they need to find God. It's the reason that you cringe when you see the Jehovah's witnesses at your front door. There is nothing wrong with the Jehovah's Witnesses and I applaud their commitment but even if you love God with all your heart you know that they are going to come talk at you and preach to you and maybe even judge you! It's just overall uncomfortable and she had no idea what I would say to her about it. What if I rejected her and told that I just wasn't that into her?

I didn't know that she was terrified to invite me to church until much later in our friendship. She was literally trembling with nervousness. I don't know if she thought my head would spin 360 degrees and I would vomit pea soup on her or something. But I'm so grateful that she overcame her fears and invited because do you know what I told her when she asked me? I said, "I've just been waiting for someone to invite me to church." Now, I don't remember saying these words. This is what she recently told me I said to her and I trust that she has a better memory than me and I'm sure that I did say something to that effect because we did end up going to church and even though it was negative ice-cap-of-the-North-Pole freezing outside, the kids had a great time. There was a nursery for Bear and a special program for Bubba and Birdie. The music was amazing, the people were friendly and they had FOOD. Heck, Howie was sold when he found out they served sesame bagels and cream cheese every Sunday!

All I remember is that as I sat in church that day, I felt like crying. I was moved, affected, touched, whatever. I held back the tears because I'm just not the type of person to show that type of emotion in public. And it was my first day there and I didn't want people to look at me like I was crazy. Like, "who is this blubbering woman who is leaking all over the seat cushions? And WHO invited her!!" Not the way to make a great first impression!

There was no parting of the clouds. There was no chorus of angels. I didn't fall to my knees and praise Jesus but do you know what? I knew I had found what I was looking for.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where I'm Going, Part II

In the summer of 2006, Howie and I faced a chain reaction of death. It all started when we got a call that one of Howie's friends had committed suicide. Up until that point, Howie and I had very little experience with death. His dad had passed away when he was 5 and I had lost an uncle when I was 18 but that had been it. We had been blessed and were ignorant to the pain and loss of death. Boy did that change in a few short months!

A few weeks later we got a call that Howie's sweet uncle John had died. That was August of 2006. On October 18th, my aunt Jennie died and then two months to the day, my aunt Irene died. My mother was devastated. We went to Colorado to console her and to attend the funeral. A few hours after the funeral we got word that Howie's aunt Lottie had died. It was almost too much to bear. It was surreal, like some kind of cosmic joke.

We came back to the east coast on Christmas Eve and received news that night that one of our friends had passed away of the flu of all things. Two months later Howie's cousin Mister caught pneumonia while visiting Puerto Rico and died there. By this point we were afraid to answer the phone and felt like we were in a constant state of fear and anxiety but at the same time were becoming numb to death.

A few weeks after that, we received notice that Howie's step-father, Herb, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 4 weeks to the day he was diagnosed. My grandma followed 4 days later. We barely had enough time to move Mamaw in with us and welcome Bear into the family when we received word that Howie's cousin Julie passed away.

Five weeks later, on his way home from Easter dinner 2007, Howie's uncle Post had a massive aneurysm and died unexpectedly. In December of that year I got the call that my mom passed away and then eleven months later I lost my dad and Howie lost another aunt.

If you do the math, it adds up to 14 people in 27 months...or an average of one person every seven weeks for two years straight. For me, everything culminated with the death of my mom. I simply gave up and suffered my own spiritual death at that point. I was angry that so much had happened to us. I felt like we were being punished and didn't have a clue why. I couldn't imagine how God could bring so much suffering upon us. One death is hard enough but this felt like we were continuously being pummeled, with barely enough time to breath between blows.

After my mom's service, I received a leather pouch from the funeral home. It contained her picture, prayer cards and a book that had all her information and visitor signatures. I also put flower cards in there, a newspaper clipping and pictures of her grave stone. I stored it on a shelf in my closet, tucked safely away. A few months after she died, I went to the closet and rummaged through the pouch. I had been missing her and was starting to forget the contour of her face and the sound of her voice. I stared at her picture for what seemed like hours. I laid on the floor and cried until my eyes were swollen and I was congested and utterly exhausted. God was nowhere to be found.

It was then that I started doubting my faith. I couldn't fathom how God could make me suffer this way, that he could take so much from me. It was at this time that I fell prey to many temptations in my life. I allowed myself to do things that before had been off limits. I lied more, I was quicker to anger. I was sad, I listened to the bad dialogue in my head. I withdrew from my extended family, I picked fights with Howie, I stopped caring about myself and most of all, I rebuffed God. I turned further away from him than ever before and was stubborn about it. I refused to go to church and when anyone would tell me that my loved ones "were with God", I felt like punching them in the face. I was overall annoyed with everything and everybody.

When people talked about God I wanted to walk away. I felt like I had nothing in common with them and was pretty annoyed with them altogether. With each passing day, I turned further and further away from God. It didn't seem so at the time, but I was completely lost. I was scared and alone and in a tremendous amount of pain. I covered it up as best as I could but inside, there was a full-fledged war going on.

It wasn't until a few months later that I noticed it. It started with a little tap on my shoulder. Then a nudge here and there and a voice that would not be quieted no matter how much I tried to tune it out.

This song below, mirrors my exact feelings during that time. I'm sure you've all heard it before on the radio but if you have time, take a moment to really listen to the lyrics. They are amazing. It's as if The Fray wrote it for me :-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where I'm Going , Part I

I grew up Catholic. Which is to say that I grew up standing behind uncomfortable wooden pews, counting the minutes till mass would be over because I shouldn't have had those beans with my breakfast because DEAR LORD I CAN'T HOLD THIS FART IN MUCH LONGER. Either that or I was secretly laughing inside about the woman standing in front of me who sat on her skirt which then proceeded to get sandwiched between her butt cheeks.

I was baptized and confirmed and confessed and dressed up in a pretty white dress and veil to receive communion in front of a bunch of weepy parents. The only thing I remember about that was that I was going to get to drink WINE for the first time. WINE I TELL YOU! I went to church most every Sunday and watched the ceremony of mass. I would try to distract my friends who had been sucked into alter boy/girl duty. I would cross my eyes and stick my tongue out at them. I learned the basics and when I say basics I mean just that. I learned just a few bible stories and learned the ten commandments. I learned to recite the Our Father and Hail Mary and Glory Be. I knew that we believed in holy communion and didn't believe in birth control. I knew that we weren't supposed to wear the rosary around our neck even though Madonna was making it an awesome fashion statement. I understood that there were rules and rituals but I didn't understand them all.

I compare God to the subject of calculus. I know that such a subject exists. I know that many people are fanatical about the discipline. I also know that it is big and complicated and perhaps I don't have the brain matter to understand it. Maybe it takes a special person to understand it, to grasp it.

I watched my mother grasp at her faith and at times, mourn it. I saw the hypocrisy of the people within the church. The men who cheated on their wives and played the guitar every Sunday morning while they sang and glorified God. The priest who had a propensity for gossip. Even my parents who would often times fight to the death at the breakfast table before church, tortillas tossed and eggs flying just as violently as fists and ugly words.

I became good at going through the motions. I was quiet in church, I said the prayers out loud, I sat, I stood, I knelt, I offered a sign of peace. And even though I regularly attended catechism classes and listened in church and to my parents, I can't say that I truly understood what it meant to be a Catholic. And worse, I can't say that I understood what it was to be a child of God. I knew he existed and that is why we were at church but we were generally taught that we were sinners, born of sin and unworthy creatures who should repent and beg forgiveness. Now, I don't know if I didn't learn because the church did a bad job of teaching me or my parents did a bad job either or I was simply not open to learning it. Maybe it was a combination of all three but I never really received God into my life. I did have faith in him but that's about it. I believed there was a God, he was good and I should trust him. That's about it. At the same time, I was turned away from him and to be honest, it never really bothered me. I was living my life and I was doing just fine.

It wasn't until I was in my late twenties and had a family that I started feeling the desire to be closer to him. I wanted to live happily and most of all, I wanted to bring my children up with faith. But that's a tough thing to do since I myself didn't know anything or have anything to offer in terms of experience.

I decided we should go to church and since Howie wasn't particularly devoted to any religion, we decided to go Catholic. We ran into trouble from the beginning. First, the church wouldn't recognize our marriage because we weren't married in the Catholic church. Second, they wouldn't recognize Howie's baptism for the same reason. They refused to baptize Birdie and overall gave us a hard time about wanting to join the church. We went for a few months but nobody talked to us, including the priests and nuns. Apparently they were not comfortable talking face to face but were very comfortable sending us letter upon letter asking us for money and more money and even more money.

Howie lost his patience very quickly. They wanted him to attend a year's worth of classes before they would welcome him into the church and that went totally against his sensibilities. I couldn't believe that they were so un-welcoming and that they were basically going to make him take a class and pass a test in order to get close to God? Seriously?

We stopped going.

We moved shortly after and decided to give a new church a shot. This time we were in a different town and decided to approach things differently. We had learned that honesty only bought us headaches, so we decided to lie. We told our new Catholic church that we were both baptized Catholics. Big. Fat. Lie. But you know what? They smiled and welcomed us, even Howie. We started to go regularly and I even sought the council of the priest a few times when I was dealing with difficulties with my mother. He was a very nice man although he did a terrible job in counseling me in the ways of God. He told me to repudiate my mother. And even me, a heathen of epic proportions, knew that was not good advice.

With the birth of more and more children, we found it continuously harder to attend church. Sure, it was hard to get there but the worst was being stuck in the cry room with the volume turned down so that we could hear nothing. We couldn't hear the readings over the chaos and spent most of our time dolling out goldfish crackers and chasing after one (or all) of the kids. Basically, we came out more frustrated, more empty, more burdened than when we had arrived. I found there to be little fellowship and once again, my attempts to become close to God were thwarted. I had basically given up.

How hard could this possibly be? I found myself getting more and more frustrated with the church. It just seemed like it was less a family than a business. I seemed more about money than about heart. It seemed that I was trying to reach God via a channel that was broken, line disconnected...out of service. I had tried on many occasions to make the best of things, to put myself in a situation where I might learn or be drawn in. It never worked. It wasn't enough for me to go through the motions anymore. It wasn't enough for me to get dressed up and sit in church for an hour. It wasn't enough to receive communion or pray the rosary alone or send my child to CCD classes. I needed more. I craved more. I just didn't know how to get it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Sick Little Dwarf

Bear woke up vomiting Sunday morning. There is nothing quite as powerful as vomit to stop your plans dead in their tracks. You could be going 100 mph and come screeching to a halt the instant one of your children barfs. The poor girl was just not herself. She was droopy and watched TV all day, which in our house is a big no-no. She didn't eat anything except a few tbspns of chicken soup and the nibble of a saltine cracker. She drank only water and Gingerale which I spiked with Pedialyte because she refused it on it's own. Not that I blame her, it's seriously disgusting. They try to sell it to you and make you believe that your kids are going to love it. "Now it comes in bubblegum flavor too!", as the camera pans to a child happily drinking the stuff. Yeah right. The stuff tastes like salty water. And maybe it's just me but adding grape or cherry or bubblegum flavor to salt water, doesn't exactly sound super appetizing. They don't fool me and they sure as heck don't fool the kids. And yes, I know...Gingerale is not the best thing to give her as it has sugar but at this point it's the best choice and I figure since I'm spiking it here and there, she is getting some electrolytes and that's better than nothing.

I have no clue what she's got. I'm guessing she has gastroenteritis because well, she honestly had countless opportunities to catch it. On Friday I took them to a petting zoo where she let a goat lick her tonsils. On Saturday she went to dance class with a bunch of sniffly little girls and that afternoon we took her to our town fair where she touched God knows what. And lets just be honest here but the fair is just about one the filthiest places around. She ate a hot dog and pop corn too. So honestly, it would have been a miracle if she DIDN'T pick something up.

She didn't go to church yesterday. She is staying home today too, no Y for us. She seems happier this morning; smiling and playing and talking. She already seems much better than yesterday when she laid in bed barely able to lift her head as Howie and I stood over her, me with a puke pan ready. Him pulling the covers up and rubbing her back. Both of us were hovering like she was on her death bed. It's simply un-nerving when your child is vomiting and feeling yucky. It's so much different than a cold or a cough.

She's not "Sneezy" but she is "Sleepy" and "Grumpy" and a little "Dopey" and she might need a "Doc" if she continues to feel this way. She also has a low grade temp although I am going mostly by touch because she isn't the best temperature taker in the world. Lets hope that she continues on a path of continued recovery. And lets also hope that it really is a stomach virus and not a cold or flu. The last thing I need is three sick kids on my hands.

This leads me to a question I would like to pose. Are you guys going to get flu and or swine flu shots for your kids this year? I always get them vaccinated and probably will again this year if the pediatrician has available doses (they've been out since the beginning of last month). It's just such a tough decision for all of us and I wondered how you all feel about it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Soap Box

I generally don't use this blog as a platform for my political views. I don't air my opinions about current events. Mostly because I'm too busy airing my dirty laundry. But this particular news story has me all disconcerted and I'm sure it's something you've shaken your head at as well.

I'm talking about the story of an Arizona couple who took vacation pictures to their local Wal-Mart for development. Most of the pictures were of the families' recent vacation to San Diego. Some of those photos included a few pics of their kids in the bath-tub, a few of them with the kids getting dried off and playing and while the pictures did show nude kids because well, parents do tend to take the clothes off of their children when they wash them with soap. And those of us with more than one child (especially same sex children) know that it's much easier to put them in the tub together.

The Wal-Mart employee who was developing the photos decided to call the police and turn the photos over to authorities because he/she considered the pictures to be child pornography. And even though the photos were not sexual in nature and even though they weren't offensive in any way, this person found it inappropriate that parents might find tubby time cute. And even more offended that they would consider bathing their daughters together,*GASP*. The couple was accused of sexual abuse and their children were removed from their custody and placed into foster care.

This is so wrong on so many levels! These parents lost custody of their three beautiful children. The mother, a teacher, was suspended from her job while the investigation was pending and both parents were listed on a registry of sex offenders. Why? Because one night they thought their kids looked adorable in a bath-tub and wanted to capture those memories on film. They weren't posting them for the internet to see, they weren't selling the photos, they were developing the pictures for a family album. How many of you have ever thought that your children's tooshies were the cutest thing in the whole world? Raise your hands. And of those of you who raised your hands, I'd bet that the majority of you have pictures of your children in the bathtub or naked in some way shape or form. Heck, many baby photographers make a darned good living on nudie shots of babies curled up on their mother's chests or held by their father's strong hands.

I don't have many naked photos of my kids, but I do have some. I have one of Bubba when he was a few days old, all wrinkly and red in his baby tub. I have one of all three of my kids, hair pointing straight in the air with shampoo sudz. I have one of Birdie walking away from me, dragging her favorite blanket, full bootie exposed. And you know what? They are the cutest thing ever! And in no way shape or form did I take those pictures in a sexual way and the idea that I could take those to be developed so that I can put them into a scrapbook or family album and then be arrested, lose my job AND my children and be labeled a sex offender, the idea of that scares the shit out of me. I'm always careful to never post questionable things on the internet. But lets be serious, that's because there are crazies who troll the internet. If I'm going to keep something for the family as a memory, well that is different. I might take a picture of the kids eating a banana (OH MY GOD). Or of the kids washing the car with wet clothes (CALL THE POLICE). Or of the kids laying in bed with Howie (NOTIFY CHILD SERVICES).

The children were returned to their home after a month of foster care and all charges were dropped against the parents because there was ZERO evidence of sexual abuse and the family is in the process of suing Wal-Mart. I think that it wasn't just Wal-Mart that went overboard here. What about the police? What about social services? I understand that they have to do what's best for the children but some common sense would have gone a long way here!

Honestly, I think cases like this are the foundation of the mis-trust parents have in our child protective services. We were petrified when we had our first home study. What if they found something that we had considered completely innocuous. What if we went in trying to adopt and we ended up losing our own kids because we hadn't changed the kitty litter or because we have wire hangers instead of plastic ones. There was fear. Through our process of foster adoption, I have learned that while the system is broken (moves as slow as molasses in January), it is well-intended. The workers try their very best to re-unify families and keep them together and where there was fear, there is now trust. I hate that this story fosters even more mis-trust in a system we should be supporting. I also hate that it makes parents frightened.

Because lets be honest. There are things we do, things that are completely normal parts of family life, and there is now a sense of fear. A sense of what if we are doing something wrong and don't even know it! Because I'm sure that Arizona family had no idea that taking their pictures in to have them developed, would not change their lives forever.

We as parents, rely on our common sense to get us through. But cases like this makes us question our common sense. What if your common sense lands you on the front page of a magazine with "CHILD MOLESTER" above it because you allowed your husband to bathe your daughters. It sounds crazy, like who would even think that that would be inappropriate. But really, it's not that big of a leap given the current atmosphere. I'm sure none of us thought that taking bath pictures of our kids could get us labeled like that either.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Public Display Of Humiliation

Our MOMS club is doing an art show in our local library this month. My friend Shari is in charge. She sent out an email asking any mom who does any form of art, to contribute to the show. This would include drawings, paintings, photographs, nude sculptures, finger paintings made from poop, whatever.

And since I have been taking lots of pictures lately and have been liking what I see, I decided to submit a few. This was a big mistake! First of all, while I love the way my pictures look on the computer, turns out they don't translate well to print. I think it's time for an eye exam.

I went to the library to hang my pictures and after I was done, I took the time to look around to see what my fellow mothers had submitted and YOWZA, I felt like a complete jackass.
Everyone's pictures were big and beautiful and glossy and perfect. Mine looked like the inner workings of a porta-potty. One mom did a beautiful drawing, a big one, perfectly crafted out of individual colored dots. Holy over-estimating my talents, Batman!

It was at this moment that I realized that I think my pictures are much, much, MUCH better than they really are. It's like that time when I had worked my way up to a hundred sit-ups at once and I thought I was amazing and powerful and tough and then I went to a fitness class where 100 sit-ups was the warm-up not the work-out and I realized I was a big pansy ass. I had diluted myself into thinking that my photos were submittable. Oh the humiliation.

I considered taking them down but I was tired and plus, I realized that it would be a real childish move. I would simply have to endure the embarrassment.

This Saturday, we hosted a grand art opening and the artists were supposed to come stand by our creations and meet and greet the patrons. I just knew that they would all feel very sorry for me. Like they would take one look at my pictures, look over at me, look back at the pictures and then a look of pity would wash over their faces. Because my photos are the special Olympic version of the real thing. Kill me now.

As it turns out, I was not able to go to the grand opening. Howie lost track of time during his yard clean-up and dump runs and I was stuck at the house because Bear was taking a nap. I wanted to go but didn't REALLY want to go anyway. It made me nervous though, because I knew that people were looking at my pictures and I wasn't there to make any apologies. It was like that one time Howie showed our house to his friends and my underwear were on the bathroom floor. I still have post-traumatic stress over that one!

My "art" will be on display the entire month of October which means that every time I drive past the library I will have nausea and the brain pain. I had been considering entering some stuff in our town fair. Needless to say, THAT will not be happening. I've had enough public humiliation to last me a long time, thank you very much.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

If You Give A Mom A Muffin...

If you give a mom a muffin.
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
Her three year old will spill the coffee.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping it up, she'll find dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her that she has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook("101 Things To Do With A Pound Of Hamburger").
The cookbook will be sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She'll bend down to get her purse and smell something funny.
She'll change the two year old's diaper.
While she's changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five year old will answer and hang up.
She'll remember she was going to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are...
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that goes with it.

by Kathie Fictorie

Friday, October 2, 2009


I have a lot to do today. I'm working at the Y this morning and bringing Chase home with me. Then I have to get her fed and put down for a nap and the same goes for Bear. I also need to clean up the house as best I can and eat a little lunch before I head out to work in Bubba's Kindergarten class.

After that I'm bringing Birdie and Bubba home along with a friend. They are having a play date until 5 pm. The house could be worse but there are dishes piled in the sink that just will not get done in the next twenty minutes, primarily because I'm blogging and drinking pumpkin spiced coffee instead of washing them.

Howie is working from home today and he is always very vigilant about work so he can't help me out. I wonder if the offer of a blow job would change his priorities in favor of dish washing?