Friday, February 27, 2009

I realized I haven't posted any pictures lately, and then I realized I haven't taken any pictures lately. Like since Christmas.

So here are a couple from December of Jenna doing her best Santa impression... HoHoHo!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hmm...'Cause I would've called it "Cruel Low-Brow Bridal Humiliation"

I walked thought the bridal section of Walmart the other day (am I obsessed or what?) just because I like all the new do-it-yourself invitations and placecards and papergoods (because I definitely DO have a paper obsession) available to cost-conscious brides these days.
I also had no children with me so I was free to meander at my own leisurely pace.

Towards the end of the display, I came across a figurine that was a take off of the standard bride-and-groom-standing-together cake topper. Only in this version, the groom was sitting down, legs splayed out in front of him, his back facing the bride. And the bride was grabbing him by the back of his jacket collar and forcibly dragging him towards some imaginary altar. I presume. And she looked angry.

But the best - THE BEST- part of this whole thing was the packaging. On the box, underneath the clear plastic window, was written: "HUMOROUS WEDDING FIGURINE." And the box went on the suggest that this HUMOROUS WEDDING FIGURINE could be used not only as a cake topper, but could also be placed on each guests' table as a centerpiece.

Yes! That would be SO HUMOROUS! Because nothing says I'm making a blessed covenant before God and my family and friends with this person whom I love and cherish and will spend the rest of my life with better than a plastic figurine of an angry bride inflicting her will on a seemingly hapless victim/groom. What a knee slapper! SO HUMOROUS!!

Man, I LOVE Walmart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good Little Lutheran.

Yesterday as I was straightening up the living room before dinner, this scene unfolded before me:

"Mom!" Michaela yells from down the hall. "Jenna has Oreo cookies and is taking the top off and smearing the cream filling onto her babies!"
"Oh," I reply. "Give her a baby wipe and tell her to clean them up."
I wait a few minutes.
"MOM!" Michaela yells again. "she's got it on her face and the babies' feet, too!"
I decide to fully investigate.

I get to Jenna's doorway and find that she has indeed opened up Oreos and covered her forehead and a few babies' foreheads with the cream filling. "Jenna!" I say to her. "What are you doing? Please clean up your babies and don't play with food like that."

"Mom." Jenna says, with the greatest level of condescension I have ever heard from her. She looks up at me with her chin tucked down and her eyebrows practically on top of her head, as if she's had to explain this to me a MILLION times:
"I'm BATH-TIZING them."

Monday, February 23, 2009

A glimpse into what the future might hold.

Yikes! I didn't realize it's been a whole week since I last posted... this past week was school vacation and Vacation Bible School at our church and errands and Dan was home for a long weekend and all that kind of jazz.

But now Michaela's back at school, Dan's back at work, Jenna is playing quietly with her Polly Pockets next to me and laundry is whirring away around the corner from me.
Ahhh... the sweet smell of routine.

I have a quick story to tell you today that I heard at church on Sunday. There is a family who we've known for many years now who have two daughters aged 20-ish and just turned 18. The parents could not be lovelier, sweeter people: very nurturing and loving and well educated and always helping out other people. And their daughters are real pistols: very pretty and bright and feisty and disdainful (as most 18 to 21 year olds are) of their parents' constant MEDDLING in their lives. You know, making sure they are safe, educated and drug-free. REALLY intrusive stuff. :)

So the newly-eighteen year old is counting up her birthday money in front of the parents and announces, "Well, THAT should cover the cost of the tattoo!"

And I just pray- PRAY-that I am not telling the same story to a younger family at church in 10 years.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jetting back in time.

I went to a wake on Friday night and it was awesome.

It was the wake for a parent of a family friend... she was almost 90 and died in her sleep very peacefully and quietly. She lived a good, honorable life and though you will miss the person and feel badly for their family, it's just about the best way to go in my book.

So why was it awesome? Well, the deceased had a large family made up of one daughter and four sons and my mother became friends with the daughter (whose name is Patti) when they were in high school. They have been friends now for many, many decades and over the years we have gotten very close with their family. We have spent countless hours with them celebrating graduations, Father's Days, Christmas (we attended a "Kiddie Christmas Party" every first weekend in December for over 20 years) and other fun events. They are a great, old-time large family: loud, loving, affectionate (everybody, it seems, kisses on the mouth as a greeting- something that my WASP-y family never did), Italian, devoutly Catholic and in everyone else's business. For years when we would go to a party at Patti's I would be rendered practically mute because I was so overwhelmed by the yelling, the teasing, the kissing, the everything.

Well, over the last 10 years or so as my brother and I have grown up and started our own families and Patti's children have grown and moved away, the parties have died down and now we see Patti maybe once a year or so. Some of her siblings I have not seen in over 15 years.

My parents and I went to the wake and of course the whole family was there: Patti, her husband and children, her four brothers, and her nieces and nephews. And it was just incredible to see everyone together again. We circulated around, reacquainting and hugging and kissing (on the mouth, of course) with one brother and then another nephew and we were all trying to piece everybody together... who belonged with who, who lived nearby and who lived far, and how old must so-and-so be now?

And then we saw Jenny.

And then I started crying.

I'm not sure why I cried when I saw her and got to hug her. She is the ex-wife of one of the brothers and she disappeared many, many years ago. She was sweet and nice and somehow quieter and more familiar to me personally than the rest of the family. I really missed her when she and her husband divorced. She had stayed in touch with Patti and over the years we've heard little snippets about how she's doing. So I hugged her and looked at her- she looks exactly the same even after all these years- and blurted out something like, "I have two little girls now!" and she was appropriately happy and we just kept saying, "I love you! It's so good to see you!" over and over again.

I was just blown away by the whole night.

After I thought about for a while, I think it was so meaningful to me because I was really able to slip back into my childhood for that hour. I was still a little girl, standing with my parents, greeting all these people who don't know anything about me- they don't know my husband or children or where I went to school or what I do or where I live- and they just loved me up and hugged me and kissed me just the same. Just because I'm my mom's daughter and we all had history together. All that garbage of being an adult just washed away and it was 1982 again. And seeing Jenny pushed it all back even further, back before her little family kind of fell apart and back to when she was still coming to parties and was so sweet on me.

It was a luxury to be able to travel back through that window in time and be eight again.

What a gift.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Subtle reminders.

Getting out of the shower the other day, I glanced at our bathroom window and saw in the condensation on the glass the perfect outline of Michaela's seven-year-old-sized hands: one in the pane on the left and one in the right.

And it made me smile.

And it served as a perfect reminder that no matter how much I clean, how much I organize, how much I try to contain their stuff and clothing and toys and ephemera... children live in this house and they bring it joy.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Clarifications and stuff.

Just to clarify:

1. If the last post about the couple in Walmart made you sad, that's okay. If it made you laugh, that's okay, too. I kinda felt like laughing AND crying when I saw it.

2. The facepainting, Mickey ears, and t-shirts that we are going to buy in Disney (mentioned two posts ago) are only for the girls. Dan and I, while very excited about going, are not ear-wearing parents, nor would we get our face painted or wear adult-sized Disney clothing. Nothing against that; it's just not how we roll. All that stuff is strictly for the girls to enjoy.

Jenna and I have started playing a new game together which we call "No I'm Jenna." This is how the dialog goes:
Me: Hi, how are you?
Jenna: Good.
Me: What's your name?
Jenna: Jenna.
Me: That's so funny! I have a daughter named Jenna, too. It's such a pretty name.
Jenna: No, I'm Jenna.
Me: How old are you?
Jenna: I'm three.
Me: That's amazing! So is my daughter!
Jenna: No, I'm your daughter.
Me: My daughter goes to preschool. Do you go to preschool, too?
Jenna: Yes.
Me: What's your teacher's name?
Jenna: Mrs. Glaser.
Me: That's incredible! My daughter's teacher is named Mrs. Glaser also. You're probably in her class! Do you know my daughter Jenna?
Jenna: No, I AM your daughter! (Laughing hysterically)
Me: My daughter LOVES playing with babies. Do you like to play with babies?
Jenna: Yes, I love babies.
Me: Oh, you should play with my daughter! She's three and goes to preschool and loves playing with babies!!
... and this goes on and on, about her brown hair and her beautiful blue eyes, and then finally we talk about her middle and last name and I realize that she is indeed my daughter. Jenna laughs like this is the funniest joke she's ever heard and wants to play several times a day.
Very cute.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A moment 40 years in the making.

Another great Walmart story.

I am there shopping with Jenna in one of the aisles. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple walking in the large aisle perpendicular to mine. They are in their mid 60's, retired, probably lower middle class, tightly permed hair on her, flannel jacket on him, totally disengaged from each other.

She walks up to the cart and tosses something in the cart without any care to where it lands. She does not meaningfully acknowledge her husband, who is pushing the cart, in any way.

"We're having tuna surprise for dinner tonight." she says at him.

(Really? Tuna Surprise?? Does anyone even MAKE that anymore?? And what, exactly, IS the surprise?? The tuna? the noodles? the some-kind-of-secret-ingredient? We used to have tuna noodle casserole at our house every once in a while when I was a kid and always liked it, not because I like tuna, but because it was one of the only dishes we ate that featured wavy noodles- not a common ingredient in the German food my grandmother cooked for us each night. But there was no surprise in our casserole, just tuna and cream of mushroom soup and the noodles, of course, and I think maybe peas. I am instantly fascinated by this conversation.)

And the husband, without moving a muscle on his face, without engaging with her, without thought or feeling or opinion or emotion, grunts like this under his breath: "Hmmph."

And I felt like I instantly knew what the last 40 years of their lives together has been like.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Disney Bound!

Ahh, yes, the rite of American childhood is quickly approaching Jenna: her first trip to Disney World. We just booked our trip for the end of March and we are all beside ourselves with excitement.

I started thinking Disney would be a good vacation for this year when after three days on Cape Cod the girls told us they were "beached out" and Dan was getting very cranky because of all the sand that was getting into the car. Honey, I told him, the Cape is a GIANT SANDBAR. You can't not get sand in the car with two little kids. You're fighting a losing battle here. But he couldn't hear me because he was using the rental house's wet/dry vac in the garage trying to get the sand out of the car.

So Disney it is.

Jenna is the same age as Michaela was when we brought her and we thought it was a great time to bring her: the magic is still very much alive. She was awed by the princesses and loved all the shows. (I, however, was fairly convinced that if I heard Under the Sea from Little Mermaid one more time my brain was going to spontaneously liquify inside my skull.) We took lots of pictures which I put in a scrapbook album with lots of descriptions of what we did, where we went, what we loved, and Michaela totally remembers the trip. Whether it's real memories or suggestions from the pictures and stories, I'm not sure, and I really don't care. She remembers.

People have very definite ideas about how old children should be before you bring them to Disney World. Some think younger is better, some bring newborns, and some think it's a waste to go before the child is about 10 because they "won't remember the trip". Whichever camp you happen to fall into, and really, it is a personal preference kind of thing, PLEASE don't spoil anyone else's fun by telling them that they are making a mistake. When we would tell people we were going and how excited we were, several said to us, "Oh... she's too young! She won't remember anything!" and it kind of left us with nowhere to go in the conversation. It's a real buzzkill.

So we are going for 6 days and staying on the property at All Star Sports, which is a Value Resort and Dan thinks is some kind of code for "White Trash Stay Here". But I have put the kabosh on that type of thinking and am excited about how much money we'll have to spend on the essentials, like Mickey ears and face painting and t-shirts. We have been making reservations for fun dinners and even scored a lunch with the Princesses in Epcot on the third day we are there. I thought Jenna's head was going to explode when we told her we were going to lunch and Snow White, Jasmmine, and Sleeping Beauty were going to be there. Just seeing that face was worth the whole trip.

Jenna was been looking at our scrapbook from our first trip with Michaela and very slyly asked me, "Mom, are the Princesses wearing tos-tumes?" because I think she's trying to figure out if they are real or dressing up in a costume. I told her they were wearing their outfits and left it at that.
Michaela is playing this all very cooly... she is excited for the rides and the shows and the getting out of school part but is telling us that she's not into seeing the princesses anymore. That's for little kids. She keeps making this gesture: opening her mouth really wide, holding down her middle and ring finger with her thumb, raising her pointer finger and pinky into the air and saying, "SWEET!"
I am excited that we will all be together, that we have the means to do it, that we got such a GREAT deal, and that in March I won't have to cook dinner, make beds, wash dishes or do laundry for a whole week. Now that's a vacation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Epilouge and other stuff.

... so Jenna only threw up twice and then made a slow but steady recovery.
My mom came and watched her while I went to Walmart.
I got everything done and by 6:30pm, I was teaching 14 Brownies the fine, useful and beautiful art of sewing.
I went to my second meeting and was home by 9:45pm.
Of course, at around 10 I decided I was hungry so I sat down with my Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream. I was not the least bit tired and by 12:05am, I was sucked into watching Intervention on A&E.
(Have you seen this show? I have never been able to tear myself away once I start watching... it profiles, documentary-style, people who struggle with addictions of all types and it is the most compelling TV I've ever seen. The family all gather in one room at the end for the intervention and I never fail to sob- SOB- watching the family proclaim their love for the addicted person, begging them to get help, and the addicted person lashes back in any which way they can. Some get angry, some leave the room, some just crumble under the love of their family and friends. Most agree to go to rehab. The hardest part of watching the show is the last minute, when they tell you what happened: how long the person was treated and whether they are still sober. You just hold your breath and pray, pray, pray that the person has had success and found some type of peace and healing and is getting their life back together again. Some do. And some don't.)
So after watching a 14 year old son tell his alcoholic mother that he would give his own life so that she could be healed from her addiction- try watching THAT without crying- she did go to rehab and was successful. And then another episode came on and of course I got sucked into that one.
By 2am, I turned off the TV and tried to go to sleep. And yes, I did feel like I got hit by a truck the next morning when Jenna roused me at 7:15am.

Today we ventured out to the mall just to walk around a little and be out amongst other people. Here are the highlights:
1. On the elevator at JCPenney, a woman smiled at us and her four top teeth all had enormous caps... which were solid gold. That's a big look.
2. Kelly green is the in color for spring.
3. Williams-Sonoma sells a gorgeous book called Family Meals (I think... maybe Family Cooking? Family Something?) and it a beautiful how-to book about cooking family-friendly meals, holidays, and projects, along with great suggestions for how to get kids involved in the cooking process and how to start traditions. Well worth the $33 they were charging.
4. I was shocked at how many stores are out of business in our local mall, how many stores were selling items at very deep discounts, and how little inventory some stores had. Even the pet store only had three or four dogs! Clearly the retail woes are real and here and this was the first time I saw stores looking very different than what I'm used to.
Unfortunately, I did nothing to help this situation as I only bought some tights for the girls, pretzel bites and a lemonade.
Total spent: $15.

Monday, February 2, 2009

And then...

First I thought I had a quiet day planned.
A little laundry, a little cleaning.
Maybe go to the mall with Jenna this afternoon and walk around a bit.
I threw in my first load of laundry and decided to check my email.
Had my first panic attack of the day: forgot I had a meeting at church tonight at 7:30pm. Well, that's really no biggie.
Then I saw I am expected at another meeting at church at 7pm. Hmmm. Well, still, very doable. Go to one then the other.
Then I get an email from Michaela's Brownie troop leader that back in September I signed up to be the craft leader at the meeting. Tonight's meeting. At 6:30 to 8pm. And I had nothing planned.
Now I really start to panic.
I quickly email the second meeting chair the update they needed and beg off the meeting. I email the 7:30 meeting chair a quick note explaining I'll be late.
I search through the Brownie Handbook for suggested activities and find a perfect one: four separate activities that revolve around sewing.
I'll start my planning, run to Walmart for supplies, and have it done in plenty of time.

And then... Jenna started throwing up.