Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Just Happened?

Ever have those moments that when they happen time stands still for a few seconds, you scrunch your eyebrows together, and go, "Whaaa?" It's like a little mini-shock to the system for whatever reason. I've seemed to have more than my share of those lately.

The other day, I had a meeting to talk to my insurance guy, and realized I had coffee breath. I reached for my purse to grab a mint to save him from having to try to talk to me without breathing. Normally, I can reach into my purse blindly, fondle a few items and I am able to pick it out. It wasn't there. I set the purse on my desk and started digging. I pulled out gas receipts from 2 months ago, an army guy, and a couple of deposit slips. No mints. I began to unzip the pockets (not that I ever put them there, but you never know). Nothing. Three minutes later, I admitted defeat. I went to pester my co-workers for one.

Fast forward two days later. I needed a pen. I opened my purse, and lo and behold, there are my mints, right on top sitting in plain view. No digging necessary. I froze. Huh? How does that happen? Do the contents of a purse just get randomly tossed around like clothes in a dryer, and suddenly what was on the bottom is now on the top? But I SWEAR, I dug all through my purse. It wasn't a small container either, about the size of my fist. Or is there some sort of evil sprite who borrows your items and then replaces them just to make you think you are going insane a teeny tiny bit at a time? (Didn't find the pen either.)

I love my husband dearly. I really do. He recently started his own business as a handyman and he's great at it. He knew a lot about home repair when he started, but there were quite a few things that he has researched and learned along the way. The problem is, our house has become the guinea pig. One of the projects that he was having a hard time mastering was texturing. You know, giving your walls or the ceiling those tiny bumps. Not really sure what their purpose is, exactly, but seems like everyone has to have them. Applying these little bumps is not easy. You have to get them relatively the same size and shape, and they must be spread evenly over the surface. During his learning period for this process, I came home and opened the door to the garage. Everything was textured. The walls, garage door....the light switch, the shovels hanging on the walls..... That was another of those moments where you just stop in your tracks, hand on door knob... Whaa..... (by the way, if you don't prime after you texture, and it's damp, it rubs off on clothing.)
This is the rail our garage to runs on.

He had another job paneling a guys basement. It was kind of this faux brick paneling. He ended up with a little bit of the materials left over and decided to hang it. But that was the only piece he had. So I'm not sure where he's going with that.

This is the only piece he has.

We also have these "Hollywood"  lights in our bathroom (they're not my favorite, they came with the house). But for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, they are a series of large round bulbs in a line, usually hung over your sink. I think we were down to about 2 remaining bulbs that weren't burnt out, so hubby, trying to be an Eco-friendly guy, went out and bought energy saving bulbs. That evening, when I came home from work I ditched the coat and purse to go use the bathroom. I flipped the switch. I nearly went blind. I made a hasty retreat so I didn't resemble the Nazis in the Indiana Jones movie after they looked into the arc (of the covenant?) I stumbled backward and hit the opposite wall with a pretty good looking facial tan. I'm pretty sure the light from the bathroom would have been enough to illuminate our entire hallway and living room.

This is with every other bulb removed.

Not to mention some of the things I've said to my kids or seen them do. After scolding them for this or that,  I will actually think, "I seriously just had to say that?" Things like, "Get your finger out of the dog's eye." (Or worse, since my Shar Pei has one of those tails that curls up over his back.)

Poor Ripley.

Or, "Get that Play Dough out of your brother's ear!" Some of these sentences seem so insane, "I've told you three times now to quit jumping off there! If you break your arm, don't come cryin' to me!" (Such a fine example of a mother.) I've already told Big K that I hope he has kids just like him when he gets older. I vowed I'd never do that, and he's only six. Hubby also received that curse from his dad, which explains a lot.

My children have no problem with being naked. If you don't put their pajamas on right away, there are a LOT of things that I regret witnessing. One happened tonight. Big K was standing on the kitchen counter (which is not allowed) trying to get something out of the cupboard. Just as I happened to look up to tell him to get down, he says, "What's this?" and bends over at the waist to pick something up. Lord, I did NOT want to see that!

I'd like to know if any one else has these moments, or is it just me? Am I going insane a teensy bit at a time? Please let me know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inspiration (a Tribute to Transplanted Thoughts)

I'm new to the blogger world, very new by a lot of standards. I'm even newer to the blogger's social network. I joined a site called Studio 30+ and started reading a lot of what other people were writing. Some made me laugh, some I could totally relate to, but one particular totally hit me square in the heart. I found Transplanted Thoughts.

I don't know her. I mean, I don't know her personally, but I feel like I know her. I had maybe only read about 4 entries, so I guess I wasn't really prepared for her entry on January 24th. She lost her son David. And this wasn't the first time she had lost a son.

As a parent of two boys, I can't even imagine losing a child. I can't even allow myself to think of anything happening to my children. Since I hadn't read more than those few entries, I actually caught my breath for a moment. My throat constricted and the tears started running down my face. I wasn't prepared. I re-read the entry, and cried some more. I started reading previous posts, marveling at this woman's amazing dedication and strength. Knowing how it was going to end made my heart break even more and my admiration for her was overwhelming.

My oldest son, Big K, had already been tucked in and was sound asleep. My youngest was still fighting it, and I had been short with him earlier when he refused to stay in bed. I heard the shuffling of little padded pajama feet, and looked up to see him standing beside me. His brow was crunched up in concern, he tilted his head to the side, "Mommy, why you crying?" I couldn't speak.  I knew if I allowed myself to say words out loud, I would completely break down. I only managed to shake my head. He reached over with his little chubby hand and wiped the tears off of my cheeks. I realized how trivial it had been for me to be upset with him earlier.

"Ready for bed Little Man?" I tried to manage a smile. He nodded, and grabbed my hand. He wanted to sleep in mom and dad's bed. After tonight, I was half-tempted. "No honey, your bed tonight."

"But my scared."

"I'll sit with you."

A shaky, "Okay."

I held up the blankets as he slid in and situated myself on the edge of the bed. I laid one hand on his back and the other on my lap. He reached for my hand intertwined his fingers with mine. I stared at his little face, as he attempted to keep his eyes open. I tried to memorize every little feature; his long lashes, his tiny nose, heart shaped lips, the feel of his soft skin and rosy cheeks. I thought again of what I had read tonight and couldn't help thinking, "What would I do if that were my child? How could I ever continue to live?" I didn't think I would be able to. Colors, music and laughter would no longer be a part of my world. I would want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head and never have to get back up. Again, I asked myself, "How could she go on?" Yes, I know you must continue for the sake of the rest of your family and the needs of your other children, but wouldn't there be a void that would threaten to suck the very life out of you every day? Every reminder?

I looked down again at Little Man, who was gazing up at me. He has this uncanny ability to sense when something is going on with me know matter how I try to hide it.

I unlaced my hand from his and lay my head next to his on the pillow. He snaked his tiny little arm up around my head so that my chin was resting in the crook of his elbow, and patted the top of my head. He touched his forehead to mine, looked deep into my eyes and said, "My wuv you mom. For ebber. You're da best." And just like that he fell asleep with a little grin on his face.

The tears started again. As his breathing became deep, the way it does when they are fast asleep, I closed my eyes and said a little prayer:

"Please Lord, if you are listening, please help me to appreciate when my children are good and happy and to be more understanding when they're not. Help me to remember that childhood is short and I should cherish every moment, that a clean house and work deadlines are not as important as the quality time I get with my family. Grant me the knowledge to help them grow to be the best people they can be. Remind me to lead by example. Please, please, please, keep my children safe from life threatening diseases and other harmful things, but if it isn't Your divine will to do so, give me the strength and the courage to be able to deal with whatever may come my way. I would also ask that You embrace David when he enters your kingdom and comfort his family as only You know how."

I slipped quietly out of his bed, went to the next room and knelt by Big K's bed, whispered, "I love you to the moon and back," brushed his hair aside and kissed him on the forehead.

So if by chance you read this, Amy, your story has changed my life. I hope that maybe in your time of sorrow, it would bring you just the smallest bit of comfort to know that because of you and David, I am going to hug my kids a little tighter tonight and every night from now on.

Thank you for that.

If you'd like to remember what REALLY matters in life, read her story:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Send In the Clones

A while back, I remember everyone having hissy fits about Dolly (I think that was her name) the sheep, because she was a clone. People were up in arms thinking that the human counter part to cloning sheep could not be too far away.

I can't help thinking, why is this a BAD idea? Really, do you have any idea how much more I could get done if there were two of me? I currently work full time as an Art Director (which is a pompous way of saying I'm a designer who has lots of responsibilities, supervises people, and if things go wrong it gives them someone to blame). I'm also a freelance graphic designer on the side, and now I've gotten into blogging. In my current "real" job, I work on a deadline, so I am completely stressed out for an entire week. Overtime can be anywhere from 8 hours that week, to nearly 40. (I don't get paid overtime, I'm supposed to get comp time. Yea right.) Every time deadline rolls around, I vow that I am NOT going to put that many hours in again! I type stuff like, "Your lack of planning and timing does not constitute an emergency on my part." in my facebook status. Probably because I want to vent, (but can't at work), or maybe because I want people to feel sorry for me, which they should.(As a rule,  I do not "friend" any of my co-workers.) Sales reps will call me at night, during supper or as I'm putting my kids to bed. They have to be the most selfish people in the world. But I'm a wimp, or have an amazing work ethic (whichever) and always manage to meet deadline, even if it means I'm drinking coffee at 11:30 at night so I can finish 20 more ads before 1AM.

I get up at 5AM every morning. I wish I could only explain how this is so very opposite of every fiber of my being. It's not to work out, which it should be, it's just to make sure that I have time to get myself ready before I have to get everyone else up and out the door. Kaiden's school bus leaves at 7:17AM. (Not 7:15 or 7:30...7:17.) I have found out that if we are not in the car before 7:06, there is no way we'll make it. I don't mean I stand at the boys' bedroom door, flick on the light, say, "Good morning! Time to get up!" and walk away to enjoy my cup of coffee. No way. My oldest could sleep through a freight training zooming by his bed. I have to grab his clothes for the day, rip the blankets off of him, and dress him like a limp rag doll. Seriously. I know this is probably some sort of enabling thing that will haunt me later, but I have found that it is just WAY easier and a lot faster for me to do. Once he is dressed, I drag him out to the living room couch and repeat the process with the youngest. Then the hubby finally gets up. He's able to have HIS coffee. I throw a frozen waffle in the toaster for the youngest (since that is what he has EVERY day) and try to extract what the oldest wants to eat while he sits there in a stupor.

I am responsible for picking up the kids from daycare 90% of the time. Which is why I have to work from home a lot. After that, there is supper (which during deadline is pretty much whatever I can slap together in 5 minutes), homework (and you'd be amazed at the amount of homework a first grader has!), bath and the regular bedtime struggle all before 8:30 at night.

I suffer from a lot of guilt since I feel like my face is buried in my computer way too often. I usually try to multi-task. So while helping my first grader with his math, I'm also trying to change an expiration date on an ad, or I'm going through corrections in my email needed for a freelance job. I used to work exclusively in my downstairs office. That was good and bad. Down there I could hear all the stomping around, sometimes yelling, and noises where I thought they were going to come through the ceiling. I was able to get most things done somewhat without interruptions, but now that I have a laptop upstairs, I have become way too available. It's hard to keep track of billable hours that way. Also when I would emerge from my cave, usually late at night after everyone was asleep, I would come upstairs to find the house totally trashed. That is the worst feeling. When all you want to do is drag your butt to bed and you see that the left overs from supper need to be put away, or the puddle from bath time needs to be cleaned up.

Where is my husband in all this? Well, he'll help me out...but only if I give specific directions. I'm tired of having to tell everyone what to do and when, usually 3 times over, in order for it to be done. Initiative people! I know that I am responsible for this. I've been told that I just need to be more assertive with them. But where does reminding cross the line to nagging? I don't want to be that wife or mother. But I hate having to be the drill Sargent all the time too. It's wearing. And at some point, I think I just resigned myself to the fact that if I want it done and done right, I'll just have to do it myself. I've often thought that I should start a journal exclusively for my hubby. You know the one. It should be titled, "If anything happens to me..." and it would be loaded on all those little things I do that he may or may not know how to do, because, to be honest, I'm not sure he'd be able to handle it by himself. (I'm sure he'd adapt, but the journal would save him a few years.)

On top of all of this, throw in the occasional birthday party, doctor/dentist appointments, calls from school or daycare to pick up a sick child, being sick myself, and random necessary errands. How do people fit that all in? I see moms who have 3+ kids and it seems to be a breeze for them. Someone give me a handbook, please!

So clone me! I would have someone to work my 40+ hours a week, while I stay home and finally shovel the dust off my ceiling fan, pay bills, and update my insurance. Or I could have a night out with the girls (the ones who haven't totally given up on me, since I seem to have no time to go out). I would get my son to his baseball game on time AND have groceries bought and put away AND gas in my car that's running on fumes. My husband would probably be happier as well, since right now, I'm usually too tired to enjoy any alone time with him...not to mention he's usually in bed by 9:00. I would be able to be both nurturing, attentive and productive. I could actually read that novel a friend lent to me 6 months ago. I could go for a walk, go to a movie, have a garage sale, or volunteer when they need a chaperon for my son's field trip.

I really do try to fit everything in. I do read to my sons before they go to bed. I make special suppers for them when I can. I try to run my errands over my lunch hour, so that my time can be spent with the ones who mean so much to me. I try to have meaningful conversations with my children (even if it has to be in the car on the way home). I go to every game, event, party that they need me at, and rearrange my schedule just to do so. I even think we might go rollerskating next Sunday...but we might have to skip church to do it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Blueberry Incident

Right behind cleaning the bathroom, and doing laundry, my least favorite thing to do is go grocery shopping. I'm not really sure why this is, maybe it's the process of trying to keep a rolling total of what I'm buying (including 3 gallons of milk that won't last a week) in order to keep my family on a budget. Worse than grocery shopping, is trying to shop with the kids. Something that would take me an hour by myself, takes two when anyone else comes along, including my husband. My trick to avoiding this dilemma is to try to shop online and have my groceries delivered (this is absolutely the best idea that ANYONE has come up with). Problem with online shopping, you're not physically there to make sure you get exactly what you want. I once ordered laundry detergent, but when it showed up, it was so tiny I could hold it in the palm of my hand. Everything looks bigger in pictures, especially when you don't read the fine print about how many ounces something is. I also found a great deal on online frozen dinners. I could get 4 for ten dollars. My husband was the one who greeted the delivery guy. Shawn poked his head in the door and said, "Wow. You ordered a lot of frozen dinners." I replied yes I had, they were on sale. What I didn't pay attention to was the fact that the 'quantity' space beside the item I ordered online was pre-loaded with 4 (since you could get 4 for $10). I now had 40 frozen dinners.

Anyway, I digress. On one of those rare days, when I couldn't avoid going to the grocery store, I also happen to be stuck with dragging along Kaiden, who was about 3 at the time. I put him in the cart seat and strapped him in. I start trudging down the aisles. I put a few items in the cart (which is the one with the funky wheel that quits turning every once and again and everyone knows where you are because it squeaks every rotation) and I find myself in the produce section. I stopped next to the fruit stand to double check my list to see what I needed. Kaiden spied one of those weak plastic containers full of blueberries. "That mommy," he points with a stubby little finger, "please? Can I please have that?" This is exactly why shopping takes two hours instead of one. "Honey, no. We don't need blueberries." "PLEEEAASSE, mommy!" I looked up, and they were actually a decent price, and what the hay, they were healthy. "Okay, this once." I picked up a small carton and put it in the cart with the green beans and box of cereal. "Mommy, I want to hold it."
"No, sweetheart, you'll spill them."
"PLEEEASSE mommy! I won't spill them, I promise!" Rather than waste any more time trying to concentrate on the list in my hand and get mad because I was only one aisle into my glorious shopping experience, I caved. Number one mommy rule that everyone knows you shouldn't break. Stand your ground! Don't give in. Especially when your gut feeling is whispering in your ear, 'don't do it or you'll be sooorrrry.'  I handed him the (in hindsight) flimsy, poorly sealed plastic container.

I start pushing the cart. I maybe went five feet. I maybe turned my back for 2 seconds. I heard the crash and I saw the blueberries rolling past my feet. Your first instinct is to look around and try to gauge  your getaway possibility (which is something like number of feet divided by the number of people within that area multiplied by how many are actually looking at you.) My percentage happened to be slim to none. I think I literally slumped my shoulders, closed my eyes, looked upward and groaned. Kaiden looked at me wide-eyed. "It was ackident. I didn't mean too!" I hitch my purse up higher on my shoulder, scoop up the half-empty container and started doing what any decent person would do. I put the container in the cart and started picking up blueberries, one by one by one. Every handful I got I would walk over to the garbage can, the kind with the floppy lid that continues to swing back and forth and back and forth after you throw something away, and deposited the berries. Kaiden had his head on the cart's push bar crying, saying, "I"m sorry, I'm sorry. I'm bad." Yeah, how does that look? I didn't even stop to really comfort him, because all I could think of was how much time this was taking. Every handful, I clenched my jaw tighter and tighter (this was taking forever!) and not because I was mad at Kaiden, but because I was so STUPID in ignoring that gut-voice. What was I thinking? I KNEW he would drop it.

After squatting down and walking like a duck, trying to find every last one of those dang berries (because everyone was STILL watching), I stood up to take my final handful over to the garbage. I shoved my hand through the swinging lid and turned back toward the cart, except, the lid swung back and trapped my hand. That along with the turning motion, pulled the garbage can over...and every single one of those damn blueberries spilled back out on to the floor! URRRGHHH. (I think I actually said that out loud.) I started grumbling under my breath, loud enough that people were looking at me a little more strangely. And don't think I didn't see all of you trying to hide those smirks behind polite hands, acting like you were itching your nose or something. Dang it! I was close to steaming. Again, I hitched my purse up and bent over to start the whole tedious process over. As I did, my purse slipped. I had forgotten to snap it shut. Now along with all the blueberries, every item (personal and non, safe and embarrassing) lay scattered amongst those little balls of blue from hell.

I now began to clean the contents of my purse up first, still mumbling, slightly louder. One mom was standing with her approximately 8 year old daughter and gently prodded her (probably by whispering something like, "Go help that crazy lady.") into coming over and helping me (bless her heart - you're a good mom-example). We finally did get those berries back in the garbage, my son stopped crying and the only reminder that was left (besides some very hilarious security video that may still end up on the Internet) was the half empty carton of opened berries, sitting next to the box of Cheerios...which I quietly slipped back on a shelf in the spice aisle (since that aisle is usually empty) when no one else was looking.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mamma Mia

I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. It's my own type of home sickness. It's not that I want to be back in my home town, I just want to be closer to my mom.

It wasn't always this way. I went through the growing pains of being at constant odds with my mom when I was a teenager.  We didn't agree on anything. Every piece of advice that she tried to give, I took as a direct insult. I realize, now that I'm a parent myself, that all she wanted to do was save me some heartache, to protect me. She was wise enough to see the outcomes of some of the positions I had put myself in, and I think tried to warn me. But I didn't listen. I knew everything then. And when things turned out the way she warned me they would, I brushed off her comforting advances. I couldn't admit I was wrong. Man I was stubborn.

My mom's way of dealing with my bullhead-ishness was to just close her mouth and not say anything. There were weeks when we hardly spoke. I know now that this was her way of letting me make my own mistakes, learn my own lessons. I hated it then. I once dyed a chunk of my bangs pink just to get attention (but that wasn't the reason at the time, I had made my own hair appointment, paid with my own money, I had called it independence.) I just happen to decide to do this when my mom and I were fighting. I remember sitting at the supper table, mom and I avoiding each others gaze, and my dad said, "Is your head bleeding?" Leave it to dad.

During my high school years, I always felt that I wasn't good enough. I think I harbored this grudge well into my 30s. I blamed my insecurity on her, feeling like I was involved in everything in high school, but that she always wanted more. I realize now that she saw a lot of potential, and just pushed. She wanted me to have everything she didn't. I just thought that she considered me a failure. She didn't. She just wanted me to reach my full potential.

I'm proud of my mom. I don't tell her often enough. It's like we've switched roles. I see the potential that she has, and sometimes feel that she lets people walk all over her. She's in her 60s now. She works for the American Cancer Society. It's a cause she truly believes in, and puts her heart in to. She used to smoke, a long time ago, and quit...cold turkey. Do you have any idea how hard that is? She advocates her cause to the government. She does way more than she gets credit for in her job because it is so near and dear to her heart. Just know, she lost her mother when she was just 21 to cancer, so this goes beyond a paycheck.

My dad was on a fast track to success when he was young, and then he suffered a stroke at the age of 45. Fluke thing. A piece of plaque broke off and hit his brain. He didn't smoke, he drank socially, and was a karate teacher--so in good physical health. It was a shock to all. My mom had to totally relearn her role. I remember being in the provide hotel rooms, and my mom putting her arms around me and sobbing. I never have felt so helpless in my life. She became the care taker when before, she didn't worry about anything. Dad took care of it all. I wish I had several pages just to dedicate to what she does on a day to day basis to take care of my dad. She sacrifices herself every single day. She lives in pain, because she knows that if she had the back surgery she needs, she would not be able to take care of my dad.

I think it became blatantly more obvious when I had kids what an incredibly special person she is. She is so amazing. She absolutely adores her grandsons. And I have to say that my first child came about by circumstances that would be hard for any mother to deal with. But you know what? She wrapped her arms around me (physically and metaphorically) and helped me through it. I never expected that of her.

I call her nearly every day. If I don't, I feel like I've forgotten something that I can't quite put my finger on. I need to tell her every little thing that the kids do, good and bad, just so I can hear her opinion. Yeah, she still treats me like I'm 16. She reminds me to do things that are blatantly obvious to do at my age, (you know, you should put those videos by the door so you remember to take them back and don't get any late fees.) I can't tell you how many times I've have rolled my eyes. She realizes this. She often says, "I know you're over 40, but I'm still your mom." Yes you are.

I find myself becoming more and more like her every day. If you would have told me that I would be just like my mom at age 17, I would have quit talking to you and crossed you off of my BFF list. But now, it's the best compliment you could pay me.

I don't even want to type this, because it would somehow be more real, but my mom will be 63 this next March. More and more I'm trying to prepare myself for the time that she may not be there. I can't. I can't imagine it at all. She has become my best friend, my confidant, the one person I can tell anything. What happens on that day that I dial her number and she isn't there? Seriously, I have no idea how to even image dealing with that. I can't picture my life without her. I just can't. I refuse.

We still have our differences. She still tries to parent my children when I have one idea and she has another. She still points out things that I need to change and I know I do, but it's just not on the same time table that she would like to see.

But the older I get, and think back to where she was at my age, I marvel at who she was, who she is now, and who she has become. She's beautiful. She's strong. She's smart. And I'm proud to say, she is my mother.

I love you mom. Beyond anything I could ever say. And I just want to say however ungrateful I was, you have taught me to be the person I am today and I can't imagine life without you.

My hero.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow is a 4 Letter Word

I borrowed that title from my cousin's wife's blog. I must give credit where credit is due.

I know that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to Wikipedia, the symptoms of SAD "may consist of difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities."

A lot of things are common to just having to deal with living in North Dakota. Let's examine that definition a little closer, shall we?

"Difficulty waking up... Tendency to oversleep." Yes, because there is so few hours of sunlight, I might as well be living in Alaska. Up when it's still dark, drive home from work when it's dark and a whole lot of clouds in between. Break out the vitamin D.

"Morning sickness." North Dakota has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates in the nation. Nothing to brag about, but what else is there to do in the winter? Except for maybe stay in bed with the one you love...and technically that could lead to morning sickness.

"Overeat, especially carbs." Well, duh, comfort food. Not to mention some of the main crops grown here include wheat, soybeans and sugar beets. Don't forget Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all fall during the winter months. It doesn't really matter if you're overweight anyway because your body shape is completely hidden under several layers of clothes and bulky down coats. You could carry a baby to term and no one would be the wiser.

"Lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on and completing tasks." That just called having kids.

And finally, "withdrawal from friends and family;" only because it's nearly impossible to get around in several feet of snow! Not that you really want to be seen by anyone. By the time you arrive anywhere, your mascara is halfway down your face since the cold wind immediately brings tears to your eyes. Forget having a hairstyle, hat head it the best you'll do. Not to mention a red nose you're honking and the cough that sounds eerily like a dying seal because you have a cold that just won't go away.(And hey, you're toting around a few extra pounds from those carbs and alcohol, right?) Now that's attractive!

There are so many other reasons to hate winters in North Dakota. I can't afford to move. I came here to go to college and now I'm stuck. The idea of trying to sell and buy a house let alone pack it up, well, I guess I hate the thought of that just a little bit more.

Not only do we get lots and lots of snow, there are no nearby mountains (or a whole lot of trees) to block the wind. A calm day here, winter or not, is rare. So take a typical January day where temperatures may or may not reach 0 degrees and toss in a 40 mph wind. This makes the windchill about -30. No kidding. And I've seen worse. I once saw windchills of -80. You know what you can do in that cold of weather? Nothing. Except, one cool thing, you can blow soap bubbles and they will slowly turn opaque, freeze, and when they hit the sidewalk, it'll break like an egg. You just can't stay out long enough to blow very many of them. Or you can hammer a nail into a piece of wood with a banana. Saw that one on the evening news. (Nothing too newsworthy happens in that weather either.)

To go anywhere is going to take at least an extra 45 minutes. More if you have 2 children you have to dress in snowpants, boots, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves...and then take it all off again when they forgot to tell you they had to go pee. Driving is at a snail's pace. Once you tap, tap, tap your brakes to make sure you stop at the intersection, you have to ease out slowly to see around the snowbanks. The only good thing about driving in the dark both ways, is that headlights will alert you to oncoming traffic. I'm tempted to glue a huge bike flag to the top of my car, so that other drivers will know I'm hiding behind that 9 ft snowbank waiting to turn. Some of the streets have such huge piles of snow along each side, you feel like you're in an oversized bobsled. It can feel something like this:

(I don't care if that train has a plow on the front and it's wheels on rails, that would just freak me the heck out!)

My sister-in-law came to visit South Dakota one year (not during the winter) and thought it was great how eco-friendly everyone was with so many electric cars around. They're not electric. We have to plug them in so that they will start after sitting overnight.

During the summer, you don't have to sweep or remove anything from your driveway before leaving. In the winter, not only do you spend a few hours shoveling snow, and scraping your car windows, you'll get to do it all over again when the plow comes by.

I've been racking my brain to think of anything good about winter. Crime rate goes down. You can leave your car running when you run into the store and people don't have the heart to steal it. My husband will tell you that there's snowmobiling and ice fishing. Yes, but then you have to be OUTSIDE. The reason we always end up with the ground hog telling us that there will be six more weeks of winter isn't because he's afraid of his's too dang cold to be outdoors! I'd go back to bed too.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I have wrecked more cars in the last few years, it is either my magnetic personality or my incredibly bad luck. I have been hit by a pizza delivery guy who a blew through a stop sign, a landscaping truck that made a left turn in front of me (I had the right of way), a drunk driver going the wrong way on a one way street (I'm lucky that one wasn't worse) and tapped from behind behind a truck twice the size of my car when his foot slipped off the pedal. Still caused thousands of dollars of damage. None of these accidents were my fault or even avoidable. I blame this for my uber-defensive (neurotic? possibly) driving of today. I try to avoid making left turns across traffic unless there is a light. Otherwise, I become overly cautious and feel guilty about the amount of cars stuck behind me. I will plan my route to my destination sometimes based on this. I will nearly have a panic attack if I am stuck between large vehicles on my left and right while driving down the interstate. It would only take a split second to wander into my lane and I would have nowhere to escape. I didn't realize that I talk to other drivers until I had children. I will apologize, "Oops, sorry..sorry." or will say worse things, like, "Nice (explitive) blinker!"(which is North Dakotan for turn-signal). I thought that I was pretty good about keeping my thoughts to myself until I cursed under my breath at the driver ahead of me who had stopped short., and when my oldest said, "What did you say?" and my youngest answered, "He be an id-yot, right mommy?"

One of my secret satisfactions is when some jerk decides he absolutely needs to be in front of me, that I'm driving too slow (which is rarely the case), and he swings out, passes me, cuts me off and then speeds away. But at the next traffic light, there I am, right behind him. Was it worth risking life and limb to be a nano second in front of me? Geez I hope so. And just to remind you, I'm going to sit right on top of your back bumper. We have an over abundance of personalized license plates in North Dakota. In a land where people are the strong silent types, I suspect this is their one outlet of artistic expression. But the ones that don't make sense? I squint, try to sound it out (aloud), and still don't get it. I nearly ram him because somehow being closer will help it make more sense to me.

I can go on and on about pet peeves (near road rage on ocassion), but let's move on.

I fear that some of the strange things I do are hereditary. My youngest eats a waffle every day for breakfast. But it must have the perfect square slice of butter under the syrup (which must fill every hole of the waffle) so that it looks just like the picture on the bottle. Even though we cut it all to pieces half a minute later. Shawn once tried a quick version of waffle serving, by ripping it to bits with his hands and pouring the syrup on that. Kamrin found this unacceptable and would not eat it.

I have removed shoes numerous times in one sitting to adjust socks that had "bumps" and could not be tolerated. My children refuse to eat 'broken' food. For example, singly-wrapped processed (urgh) cheese must remain whole to be eaten. It doesn't matter that it is no longer whole after the first bite. I've never seen the logic in this. Same thing goes for candy canes, fruit roll-ups, and bananas. Weird.

My children also have the gene that compels them to pour milk on ice cream. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Aren't you already eating a frozen dairy product very similar to milk? Does it help to have the thawed and frozen version of the food in the same bowl?

Kamrin always claims to be cold. I don't doubt that, since he's just a slip of a little boy. But he will sleep on top of floor vents, stand inches from a space heater, and without fail every morning, he will wait until I turn the hair-dryer on, lay on the floor at my feet with a blanket over him so that I will warm him with the dryer.

Just a few of the things I don't get. Kaiden must perform a bed time ritual in a certain order or he will start over. Shawn puts salt and pepper on everything...before tasting it.

I guess every family learns to adapt to each member's quirks...doesn't mean I have to understand them.