29 June 2009

let me straddle my old saddle

I have never been into stereotypes.

OK... maybe never is a strong word.  Let me rephrase.

When I was a stupid shallow high school punk I said things like, "I have like never been into stereotypes," but I like totally was.  Which one, you ask? Oh, all of them.

I wore the Gap bootcut button flies because that was the preppy thing to do.  I listened to the edgy rocky stoner music because that was the late-90s nouveau-hippie thing to do.  I let my hair lay on one shoulder, cocked my head to the side when I talked to guys, and did my darnedest to appear mysterious and sexy because that was the... I dunno... girl-who-was-popular-with-the-guys thing to do.

I'm relatively certain I could have substituted the word slutty for that dash-y adjective I just created.  Was I slutty? It's possible, unfortunately.  Which, by the way, isn't nearly as sad and tragic as the fact that I'm pretty sure I wanted to appear slutty.

Suffice it to say that I'm not proud of that piece of my history and have, at this point, reconciled that ridiculousness with the One before whom I'll one day stand in judgement, but that's neither here nor there in this particular post.

I guess, though, my favorite stereotype, or at least the one that was constantly a part of my repertoire, was the farm-y redneck-y one.

I wanted so badly for everyone to think I was cool (despite my "marching to my own beat" personal mantra).  Friendly with and admired by the girls, sought after by the boys.  And in my tiny rural private school, nearly everyone had some ties with a farm.  It was my all-access pass.

And the only stereotype-ish slot I could slide myself into with any legitimacy.

No, I didn't grow up ridin' and ropin' and I wasn't out milking the cows at 4 in the morning every day.  In my defense, though, the only horse my grandparents had on their farm during my growing-up years was a brown and white pony named Tony Bill who Noah rode off of the ark and they have beef not dairy cattle.  I have, however, seen a calf born and, more gruesome, banded (which seems like a perfect way to introduce gangrene or something equally uncomfortable to a calf's testicles).  I spent a good deal of my childhood playing in barn lofts.  I've set and stripped tobacco.  I hauled hay briefly once.  And I've been in cow manure up to my ankles.

And that, folks, is about the extent of it.

I said with any legitimacy not with a whole lot of legitimacy.

In the end, though, I think what really makes me feel like a farm kid at heart is the fact that I loved that lifestyle oh so very much.  Still do.  I love the smell of fresh cut hay warmed by the early summer sun.  I love the mustiness of a barn where many seasons of tobacco has hung to come into order.  I loved the old peafowl (who's since gone to that big roost in the sky by way of one very nasty Dalmatian named Lacey) calling from the barn roof.  I love sinking my toes into the just-plowed red clay behind my grandparents' house.  I could sit on my folks' patio for days just staring out across the rise and fall of the pastureland and smelling the oniony watermelon smell of freshly mown grass.

I remember sitting in my spot on that patio shortly before our wedding and thinking with a dull ache in my chest, "How on earth am I supposed to leave all this?"

Which brings me to today.  I'm homesick for space.  I love our house, but I'm tired of being subdivided.   I want to live somewhere where the fences are woven wire and not chain link.  I want land.  And I want animals on it.  I want to be woken up by the sound of a tractor somewhere nearby.  As a matter of fact, I think I would pay somebody to work my land if just once a year or so I could look out my window after dark and see the lights of a tractor making every effort to beat the rain.  I want my kids to be able to roam and learn to drive in the pasture as soon as they're feet will reach the pedals.  I want a real and valid reason to have a very large truck and a 4-wheeler.

I want cows mooing.

And a big ole garden to work in.

And boots for my feet.


And someday... some blessed day out there in my future, I shall have all these things.

Or if I can't have it all, I'd at least like a bigger yard.  And fewer, farther apart neighbors.  And maybe still the boots.

Just for good measure.


22 June 2009

not a sound from the pavement

I've been reading through some of my old journals that I started keeping (with no great regularity, mind you) in elementary school.  What struck me most about looking into the past is how little I remember.  I have to make a serious effort to dredge up any real memory of things so huge that I felt the need to write out highly dramatic accounts of them several years ago.

The conclusion I reached in reading my journals (other than I was a heathen and should have been ashamed of myself most days) is that my memory? It sucks.  A lot.

I've always been semi-aware that I have a bad memory for most things and I know for a fact that most of the stuff I learned in school I retained just long enough to pass the test, but I would have figured I would remember things about my own life.  Especially things that caused me to write things like, "My mind is lower than it's ever been..." and "This may well turn out to be the worst weekend of my life..."

I also made some reference to being a "mature, graceful 14 year old woman," but that's beside the point for now.

I can't believe I was ever that over the top and dramatic.  Reading stuff like that just makes me want to set myself on fire.

My memory is strongest when it comes to remembering what I wore on most important occasions (the first time I met the hubby... green and white Hawaiian print shorts and a spaghetti strap tank top) and some not-so-important occasions (hubby's first pre-op consultation before having his hernia repair... blue sailor-style pants and white henley).  Thank goodness for that ability of memory because it comes in handy loads of times.

So anyway... all the thought about my dwindling memory got me to wanting to remember and even trying to remember any random details I could dredge up about my childhood and young life.

Here's some stuff I came up with:

My mom used to sleep in a purple and white gingham nightgown.

When I was little and we would visit my great-grandmother (my paternal grandfather's mom, Grandma), I would always dash into her "formal living room" to feel of one particular pillow.  It had embroidered strawberries and vines on one side, but the other side was dark green velvet.  It felt amazing.  Also in that room was an antique secretary with old dolls in it.  They weren't for playing with, but she let me look at them from time to time.  The toys for playing with were in the closet in her den, which was actually meant to be a bedroom.  The closet had a sliding door and it always came off its track.  She also had some of those old metal Coca-Cola trays with pictures of smiling rosy-cheeked women on them.  Maybe they were supposed to be coasters.  I just realized I really want some of those...

One of my other great grandmothers (I was blessed to know 3) babysat me fairly often when I was little.  This was my paternal grandmother's mom, Granny.  She kept RC in her fridge and we would drink it with a splash of lemon juice from tiny little juice glasses.  She also always had mini Snickers.  I can remember which cabinet she kept them in.  It was kid-level.

I remember a science lesson about sound waves which inspired my dad to drive to my grandparent's down the road from us, stand in their driveway, and ring a cowbell.

These are the things I've come up with so far.  This remembering thing is a lot tougher than you'd think.

Senility should be a blast.

I'll be the most mature and graceful old lady in the nursing home.  Look out Bingo Night, here I come! Ask me what I wore to shuffleboard 3 weeks ago!


15 June 2009

never a dull moment

Well, I am happy to announce that today I made a major breakthrough in the mama-of-2-under-2 department.  That's right, folks... I went to grocery all by myself.  Well, except for both my kids.

Quick question... do all babies come standard with butt-in-chair radar or is it just the ones who live in my house? Even the kiddo, who is clearly no longer a baby since he now understands that passing gas is beyond hilarious, gets mad at me when I sit down.


So I managed to blaze a trail through Kroger with Kiddo in the cart, Bebe in the sling, and myself in a state of frenzied lunacy wondering if we could make it back home without one of them having a 4-alarm meltdown or a blowout diaper.  Or both.  It's been known to happen.

I'm pleased to report that all went well.  We even squeezed in a pit stop at Sonic for a Wacky Pack.  I only got a Diet Dr. Pepper since I decided I really am serious after all about getting back into my skinny clothes.  Sigh... Oh, and Bebe only screamed her alveoli out for about 3 minutes of the whole trip home.  She gets so mad when you stop the car that I'm afraid of even tapping the brakes usually, but the Kiddo was a gem at the grocery, so I thought he deserved something greasy.  And I was a gem too, so I deserved that Diet Dr. Pepper.


The real trick, as it turns out, is getting the groceries unloaded and put away.  The kiddo wasn't a problem.  He was starving and sat right down to eat.  Bebe was completely over being in her car seat, so she helped me bring in groceries.  I managed 3 bags per trip and was about to expire by the time I finished.

This is when the meltdown occurred.  It seems Bebe was also starving, so I had to take care of that while my frozen chicken puddled on the counter.

Nobody asked if I was starving (I was).  Nobody cared if I got to eat lunch (I didn't).  Oh well.  Actually, the kiddo did say, "Mama.  Mmguh, mmguh?" which translates roughly, "Ain'tchu gonna eat, woman?"  The answer was no, but I didn't know that yet.

After he finished his lunch and Bebe finished her lunch I did manage to get the perishables put away before Bebe was again dissatisfied.  Since I had to sit down with her anyway I decided it would be an excellent time for the Kiddo's nap.  So we all retired to his bed to watch some Baby Einstein.  After some tears and a few threats, both kids were asleep so I commenced to performing my usual nap time miracles and became an indiscernible blur racing through the house at the speed of sound accomplishing as much as possible before one kid woke up.  Or both at the same time.  Again, it's been known to happen.  A lot.

I dashed into my bathroom to pick up the clutter that always seems to materialize while I'm trying to get ready to go somewhere and as I leaned over to pick up a strand of beads that had found their way onto the other side of the toilet I noticed some funny spots on the floor.  That's when an unusual smell hit me.  So I  turned on the light only to confirm my suspicions that, yes, it was in fact puke.  Puke that had been there for a while.  Puke of which I had no knowledge until that very moment.

So, either the kiddo snuck off into my bathroom to have a little private upheaval or else it was the handiwork of some rogue upchucking bandit.  Some rogue upchucking bandit who happened to have had the same mid-morning snack as my firstborn.  Yuck.  He never came and told me anything unusual, I never smelled it on his breath, and there was no evidence of it on his clothes.  Pretty good for a 21 month old.  It was just mysteriously there in the bathroom floor.  

Anywho... you never wake up planning to clean mystery vomit off the floor, but as a mom you have to accept that it just may be in the cards for your day.  The only other thing I can say about it is kudos to him for barfing in a place where I wasn't likely to step in it.

So, cheers to a good and productive day.  Cheers to my first potentially difficult outing with both kids going off without a hitch.  Cheers to having at least one clean spot on my bathroom floor.  And cheers to typing almost the entirety of this blog post with one hand.  See? Having 2 small children is doing exponentially more for my patience than I could have ever imagined.


11 June 2009

yay for not walking like John Wayne

I had my final pregnancy-related doctor's appointment this morning and I don't know if I've ever expounded on this particular topic on this here blog, but I love my doctor and her staff oh so much.  I would actually almost look forward to going to the doctor and I would actually almost be sad that I won't see all those folks again until October.  Except for, ya know, stirrups and such.  Kinda puts a damper on seeing my buddies there when I have to disrobe.

I think the real reason they have you return to the doctor in 6 weeks is to help you remember that having a newborn and all of its attending difficulties is still way better than being pregnant.  They even had me come on a Thursday which is the day my doc sees all her OB patients, so as far as I could tell, I was the only non-pregnant woman in the waiting room.  Which was awesome.

I know from experience that people get this warm fuzzy look on their face when they see a pregnant woman.  Going to the mall at the end of both my pregnancies was a real pain because everybody looked at me either like they were either scared or like they were going to bust out the baby talk prematurely and start having a conversation with my bellybutton.  Well, in that waiting room today I had no warm fuzzy lookit-how-cute-dat-wittle-pwegnant-bewwy-is-yes-it-is feelings.  As a matter of fact I had the irresistible urge to jump up and down on the couch a la Tom Cruise and say "YOU'RE PREGNANT AND I'M NOT NA NA NA NA BOO BOO!"

I overheard one poor girl say she was awaiting a baby boy next month.  I couldn't decide if she walked more like John Wayne or a pack mule.  I sat back and listened as several soon-to-be moms fanned themselves and went on and on with the usual "How far along are you? Do you know what you're having? What hurts on you? This hurts on me..." conversation and gave one another a play by play of their latest ultrasound.  I sighed, content in the knowledge that I was cold and could actually cross my legs.

It's true that the outcome of a pregnancy makes all the misery of pregnancy worth it and it's amazing how distant a memory all the discomfort I endured is now.  It's almost like it never happened.

Key word: almost.

Having been pregnant for some portion of the last 4 years (please try not to gasp, it frightens the children) I feel safe in saying that I'm done for a while... if not forever.  I will not say "never" until either menopause or a fertility-altering procedure occurs, but for today "never" sounds pretty darn good.

I'm ready to get in shape and stay that way.  I want to run races and ride a bike over a mountain.  Maybe I'll take some classes and learn how to do something new.  I want to garden and take pictures and repaint my house.  Most of all... I'm ready to jump headlong into the coming years with the two dear ones I have and throw myself wholeheartedly into making those years the best and funnest ever.

And that's the plan for now.


10 June 2009

a bedtime story

My husband and I, by some miracle, have been blessed with 2 kids who are good sleepers.  I think that I slept well as a child when I finally chose to actually go to sleep.  I wasn't terribly old when my parents decided that I would just come to bed whenever I got sleepy and left me to my own devices, which included putting Barbies in all of my dad's shoes.  And as far as I know, my hubby's parents weren't exactly the scheduled go-to-bed-at-9-o'clock-on-the-dot kind of folks either.  So, the fact that both of our kids (so far) are at least semi-agreeable to the idea of having a bedtime routine and going to bed at a somewhat regular time every night is truly amazing.

I should interject here that we are not rigid conformists to any schedule whatsoever.  We are more what you'd call the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of parents.  I should also remind everybody (including myself) that the Bebe is a mere 5 weeks old and there is still plenty o'time for a rebellion.

And we're going to hope that the beginning of said rebellion did not in fact take place last night.

It all started when it was I and not her father who put her to bed.  I did everything exactly the way he does as near as I could tell, but it just wasn't the same.  The second part of the problem was the fact that her father was already asleep when we actually went to bed and he didn't wake up to snuggle up next to her, which she's also accustomed to.

The snuggling is something I cannot do because she smells me or senses me with her magical food source sixth baby sense or something, so unless I want her to eat every hour of the night instead of every hour minus maybe 2, I try to keep a safe distance.  I thought she was just going to wake up altogether when I laid her down, but with some gentle coaxing and a lot of pacifier reapplication, she drifted off soundly.  I, unfortunately, was not tired at that time, so I laid very still and read for a while.

I was feeling all proud of myself for putting my own kid to bed without actually nursing her to sleep AND getting some bedtime reading time in (something that never happened with the Kiddo until he was close to a year old).  But then I turned off the light and our night of calisthenics began.  Well, ok, I turned off the light and barely drifted off enough to be groggy and then she woke up.  For the next 3 hours or so she wavered between totally asleep and some state of semi-wakefulness which included a lot of wiggling, working her feet out of her sleeper, and grunting reminiscent of a warthog.  Needless to say it wasn't all that conducive to sleeping anywhere near her (although her daddy didn't seem to be having any trouble).

About 3 AM, and after trying to nurse her back to sleep numerous times, I decided it wasn't going to happen and just got up to give her a sleep aid bottle in hopes that a full-er tummy would help her sleep.  We made it back to bed about 3:30 since I got hooked on an episode of Roseanne and had to finish it.  By that time, I was wide awake and my husband had abandoned me to go sleep with our snugglier-than-I-am firstborn.  I managed to drift off eventually, blissfully certain that now that her tummy was comfortably full, she was zonked out we were good until mid-morning.  Also, the Kiddo had gotten up early the previous day and had only a short nap, so that was promising too.

So, naturally, the grunting routine re-ensued around 6-ish.

And the Kiddo came pitter pattering into my room around... 6-ish.

Which coincidentally is also the time my husband is about to walk out the door.

With an infant attached to me and, I might add, not pleased about still being in the bed, a toddler rubbing my ear/playing with my hair/running his hands all over my face and intermittently blocking my air supply, and my husband standing over me saying how much he wished he didn't have to leave but he had to so bye... it didn't take long for me to bolt upright, throw myself out of bed, and stomp into the kitchen.

And so at 6:30, I was sitting in the recliner trying to rock a baby back to sleep while being scaled and still having my ear rubbed by the Kiddo who was none too pleased himself about being awake.

Thus, I've already been up for going on 2 hours and am watching a segment on Sesame Street about how it's all right to cry and am seriously considering it.

Yes, we have 2 good sleepers, which I think makes it worse somehow when they don't sleep well than if they slept poorly all the time.

Bebe is asleep in her swing... and grunting.  Kiddo is sitting next to me... and rubbing my ear.  And I am awake... and wondering how I'm going to feel when I look at the clock a sweet forever from now and it's only 10 AM.

I think a trip to Mam-Ma's may just be in order...