Monday, February 28, 2011

Opposites Are Attractive

I look at my boys and wonder how they possibly came from the same mine AND the same father (just to clarify.) One set of genes for one, and the next time, let's just use what we didn't last time. They are salt and pepper, ebony and ivory, honey and vinegar. Complete opposites.

Kaiden was born two weeks premature on the 26th of May. My first child, he seemed so incredibly tiny, at just a little over 5 lbs. He was kind of a strange color, with big hands and feet with just a shock of black hair. He was beautiful to me.
Those are his daddy's hands.
My parents drove the 5 1/2 hours to be there when he was born. He was their first grandchild and my mom had been waiting (not so patiently) to be a 'grammie.' She was also the first to laugh at me when I brought him home and changed his diaper, getting baby poop all over me and him. He was a demanding little guy, up nearly every two hours, needing me almost as much as I needed sleep. He was colicky. We rocked, we walked, we ran the vacuum and turn the radio on for white noise.  Nothing worked. Frazzled and sleep deprived (and haven't ever regained those lost hours), we finally cleared that stage.

With Kamrin, my water didn't really break, more like started leaking, exactly on his due date. I was in labor forever, and nothing was happening. To save you the details, the doctor broke my water and Kamrin and the umbilical cord decided to make a race for the exit at the same time. Suddenly, everything was a bad scene from "ER". Shawn is bewildered, and I'm telling him to call my mom. The gurney is being raced down hallways where an emergency C-section can be performed. I remember looking at the anesthesiologist as the bright fluorescent lights flashed, woosh, woosh, behind his head. He must have seen the panic in my eyes because he kept telling me everything was going to be okay.  I can't tell you how exactly aligned the stars must have been for us that day, the fact the doctor checked on me when he did, that I had already had an epidural, and the operating room had been cleared only minutes before it all happened. I didn't get to see Kamrin for over 5 hours. He was in the neo-natal care for monitoring. My heart ached. I longed to hold him, see him. A sweet nurse took pity on me and took a picture with her phone and brought it to me. She nearly had to pry it from my hands. It was the 25th of August.

(Blue=Kaiden and Red=Kamrin)

Was always the talker. From coos and baby giggles to "dada," "mama," and later, "no." To this day, you barely get a word in edgewise. I was able to put him in one spot, and he'd be content to sit and play with the toys within his reach.

Was too busy figuring out how to get around to bother with talking. That kid was never happy to be left where he was, and at an early age, started exploring his surroundings with gusto. He was a climber, not interested in toys so much, but more into electrical sockets, light switches and anything with buttons.

As their personalities mature, the differences become more and more obvious.

Introverted, shy, and a bit apprehensive. He is the ultimate in sensitivity, a harsh look will cause him to flee, crying to his room. I've often heard, "everyone is mean to me," when I know very well that he is giving what he's getting.

A social butterfly, I have to curb his enthusiasm for meeting new people (strangers), or petting stray dogs. He never just "walks" anywhere, he bobs, jumps, skips, or does a little 4-year-old jig. He continuously hums or sings no matter what he is doing. He hugs all the other kids when I drop him off at daycare, and they greet him with enthusiastic "Little Man!" chants. 

Loves cars, action figures, dinosaurs and crashing things.

Would rather have paints, crayons, music and stuffed animals.

If anything needs to be split between the boys, he scrutinizes each piece from every angle, top and bottom, before claiming the largest or "best" piece his. Last Saturday, he was invited to a birthday party at the skating rink. He sat among his little "prizes" and as I struggled to get his skates off, he begged for just one more dollar, "to get Kamrin something." I thought that was sweet that he would want to be so nice to his brother, so I caved and gave him one. He blushes a bit as he puts the dollar on the concession stand and bought a monster cookie for 75 cents. He held it in the cellophane paper and carefully carried it to the car. Five minutes later, the face I saw in the rearview mirror had cookie crumbs around his mouth and a ball of cellophane in his lap. "I thought that was for Kam?" "I forgot." We got home, and he promptly deposited the remaining quarter into his own piggy bank!

Always gets 2 stickers from the doctor or 2 prizes from the dentist's prize box and actually DOES give it to his brother. He is quick to share, not just with Kaiden but with everyone within arm's length. It took a lot of convincing to get him to leave his Halloween candy at home and not to share it at daycare. He's quick to hug, snuggle and kiss, loves to be held and pushes his way into every available lap.

Is always hot.

Is always cold.

Eats his food and whatever Kamrin will give him (which is usually whatever he wants.)

Eats like a bird...several times a day.

Does not want to expend his energy getting himself dressed, and has told me it is MY job to do that, along with remember everything that needs to be put in his backpack for school. Needs constant positive feedback on any accomplishment no matter how minor.

Will create a ladder out of Legos if he has to, to pick out his own clothes and put them on himself. IF I try to help him, he constantly tells me, "My do it, my do it!"

Is able to empathise with others, often being moved to tears during a sad movie.

Will comfort you if you are obviously sad, but is more interested in if a story contains, "blood."

Thick dark hair.
Lighter, baby-fine hair.

Looks exactly like his dad.
We had no idea where his features came from until a cousin of my mother's posted a young photo of my mom's deceased brother, Fred.
Uncle Fred on the left. Uncanny.

He likes milk.

Wants Kool-Aid or soda.
Hamburgers and fries.

Spaghetti, hands down.

Could care less.


Future video game addict.

Roughly shaken into consciousness, is usually in a good mood, interacts with those around him, and doesn't put up too much of a fight at bedtime.

Complete night owl. Never quite awake in the morning. Needs a blanket in the car. Refuses to go to bed before 10 at which point I must relinquish half of my bed space to him, where he will blow air through his lips, twirl my hair, pull the covers over his head and tell you "night" over and over again. I have to ignore him, it's the only way he will give up.

Both can not contain their laughter when you even pretend you're going to say the word, "fart." Neither has any clue what an "indoor voice" is. They may complain that they don't have this, or they don't have that, but both know the importance of family, love and look forward to movies on family night.

From way back when.

And now. (Note the kool-aid moustache) And blurry because they don't sit still!

Yep, complete opposites. I have the best of both worlds. What more could I ask for?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Made Up Diet (I Mean Life-Style) Change

Being unemployed, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to change my eating habits for the better. I would now have time to cook AND workout if I timed everything correctly. I wasn't too happy with the image that was staring back at me from the mirror recently, and I needed to drop a few pounds, so I decided to diet change my eating habits.

I didn't necessarily want to stick to any plan, count points or calories, that's just WAY too much work for me. I somehow convinced myself that I would eat more fresh foods and supplement it with a breakfast and lunch shake. Which now, really doesn't seem like a good idea, since I'm somewhat lactose intolerant. (Can a person be only somewhat intolerant?) Anyway...I bought carrots, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and corn for vegetables and for fruit I chose red grapes, apples (with fat-free caramel to ease any cravings for sweets. It was, after-all, fat-free. Right?), a couple of big grapefruit-like things called pamelos, and oranges. Oh, and about 10 cups of various flavored yogurts. I spent $150 (which includes some other items) and a day later my family complained that there "was NOTHING to eat!"
Pamelo goodness (and acid)

My master plan was to have a breakfast shake in the morning and a shake at lunch, snack on fruit and vegetables throughout the day, and cook up some chicken dishes for supper. I would get back on my Wii Fit program in the morning, so that I would boost my metabolism (which has been in hibernation since August). It was all theory.

I woke up on Monday, psyched up and ready to get the party started. I got my kids ready and out the door, dropped them off where they needed to be and raced home to have my breakfast shake...after my coffee...aaannd after I check my email, facebook page, studio thirty and job openings. Around 10AM (and 3 cups of coffee later) I was getting a little hungry, so decided to mix up the shake. It didn't taste horrible and I managed to chug down the 8 ounces of chocolaty-dairy goodness. One down.

Next I blew the dust off of my Wii Board and steeled myself for the inevitable. Our family of Mii's (the little cartoon versions of yourself) came running out on the screen. For some reason, we were all now African-Americans with weird hairstyles and facial expressions. Apparently, Kamrin had been playing around again. (I wonder if I need to look this up in a child psychology book?) Oh well, so be it. My first slap in the face was the announcement that it had been 187 days since my last workout. 187 days?! Really? It's been that long? Crap. Then the bouncing little board icon wants to know how heavy my clothes are. I put heavy, -4 lbs. - (HEY! I was wearing jeans and really thick socks for Pete's sake!) Then the weigh-in. I actually closed one of my eyes and looked out through the other as my Twiggy-thin Mii got bigger and bigger. Then I hear the "wah wah wah" (like you guessed the wrong price on the Price Is Right), "that's over-weight," the incredibly annoying child-like voice says. (Why do they make it sound like some sort of 5-year-old female child Japanese cartoon? So you don't haul off and punch it in the face?) My Wii Fit Age was 47. Urgh! Longer story short, I had to reset all my repetitions back down to beginner level and did a bit of yoga, a bit of strength training and a lot of aerobics.

By this time, the breakfast shake had nearly tripled in size in my stomach. I didn't even feel like having grapefruit. By the time I was actually hungry again, it was time for shake #2. After slurping down that concoction, I began to notice eerie half-wolf howl, half-baby screaming noises coming from my abdomen. Uh oh. It was NOT happy. I tried to calm the beast by eating some grapes and snacking on some carrots. I believe this just forced everything in my stomach a bit lower and it was now trying to escape. The story takes a terrible turn for the worse as my insides were rejecting this whole new escapade. It decided to the form of gas. (Too much info, I know!) My kids thought it was hilarious and even the dogs were impressed. My husband? Not so much. But I was determined!! I was going to stick with it.

Day 2. A nearly exact repeat of day 1, except that my Wii told me I had lost .2 lbs! .2? What the...I paused the game, used the bathroom, took off my socks and re-weighed myself and... - .7 lbs! Now that was more like it! My Wii age was 36! Woohoo, turning back the hands of time! My left calf was a bit sore though. More shakes, more fruits and vegetables, more gas. I may never be able to leave the house again. But I'm going to give it my best shot. Maybe I'll have just a tiny handful of crackers. Absorb some acid in my stomach. Yeeaaah, that's it.

Day 3. All the fruit I had eaten in the last few days had given me a raging case of heartburn. I think I'll skip breakfast shake and quit tormenting my husband. Back on the Wii. Weight was up again, and spirits down, my calves burned (even when I wasn't exercising) and I nearly tumbled down the stairs under the weight of a laundry basket when one almost gave out. But hey, my Wii Fit Age was 27! (insert daydreams of being 27 again here, then shake head and come back to reality).

Day 4. Can barely walk my calves hurt so bad. Glare at the Wii and skip it because my body needs time to recover. Skip the shake and dunk a Fudge Stripe cookie in my coffee. *sigh* I'll try again tomorrow. Maybe. Thanks for visiting will power. Come again soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

United We Sand

I'm going to take a quick aside from my normal ramblings about my family and give you a small peek at the community at large that I call home.

So far this winter, we have received over 66" of snow, and contrary to the ground hog's prediction, I'm assuming there will be more snow into the month of March.  We also are on the brink of flood season here. While the powers that be argue back and forth about where to build a permanent dike and who's going to pay for it, the people of Fargo must sandbag to protect their homes. Every Spring. Like clockwork.
Fargo and Moorhead, separated by the Red River (2010)

We live on the mighty Red River, Fargo on one side and Moorhead, Minnesota on the other. It's one of the few rivers that flow North. I personally don't consider it a nice river, and by nice I mean you can't swim in it. It's muddy, rapid and there's been body's found in it. Picky, picky. I know.

Anyway, the sandbagging is starting early this year due to major flood predictions being more of a possibility than originally thought. The sandbagging process is nothing less than awesome. To give you an idea of what needs to be accomplished in a very short time, they are setting a goal of 3 MILLION sandbags to be filled.
Not even close to 3,000,000

I have a hard time wrapping my head around that number. The logistics in filling, storing and transporting these sandbags are enormous. I'll try to explain it in my own layman's terms.

You must find a place where these sandbags can be filled, housed and hold all the volunteers (and YES I said, VOLUNTEERS!) It used to be in the Fargodome, but post-cleanup costs became too extravagant. We now have a different location dubbed, "Sandbag Central."
Sandbag Central

I must pause here and say that most of the volunteers are high school and college students. Without them, the cities would have been sunk. They consist of athletes, students and staff who trade their vacation time and weekends in for a shovel and back breaking work for hours at a time. Not only at Sandbag Central, but also at homeowner's properties, filling and stacking in snow, sometimes freezing rain and cold. (Blizzard+Flood= "Flizzard Fighters). They don't know the owners, they just know they need help. But volunteers of ALL ages showed up. It's a good life lesson to teach your kid.

City officials turn main thoroughfares into one-way streets for transporting the sandbags. These caravans of flatbed trailers are lead by squad cars with their sirens on to assure fast delivery, because in this situation, every second counts. Literally. Lines of volunteers stream in to Sandbag Central, and are promptly loaded on to buses to take them where the need is the greatest.

There is a system in place for actually placing sandbags. Two long lines are formed, with people facing one another and the bags are thrown back and forth in a zig-zag motion as it goes down the line. Certain bags have obtained nick-names, "boulders" were sandbags filled with a large chunk of frozen sand, "babies" were sandbags that needed to be handled gently due to a loose tie or just had very little sand in it. Uncommon friendships are made. Old and young alike, working for the same cause. If one person tired, there was someone to take their place while they took a break, recouped and rejoined the line. It's a dirty job. Clothing consists of several layers, heavy-duty gloves, waterproof boots, and anything else that will keep you warm. Fashion flew out the window, it's all about warmth people!

Beyond the actual physical work, volunteers helped in so many other ways. There were call centers used to direct the volunteers to each neighborhood, and keep track of how many were there, how long they were there and to answer any questions Joe Blow would have regarding the flood. Large ambulance-like vehicles would roll up to each area loaded with donated cases of water, sandwiches, chips and cookies. It was not unusual for moms to show up with their kids, dragging a wagon behind them up to its wheel in snow, full of BBQ sandwiches they made themselves at feed 50 or more people. You never saw bigger smiles. I don't know who was happier, the hungry volunteers, or the children who at last found a way to be a part of the "movement" by handing food and drinks out. Local pizza joints and diners, would send 100s of pizzas and burgers to satisfy the famished mobs. Hardware stores donated necessary tools. A local AM station would be on 24/7 broadcasting call-in needs of the public. If a person needed an extra sump pump, they'd get it within the hour, usually from someone who had an extra and drove around all the flooded streets to get it to them. Boat owners gathered life jackets and rescued residents and their pets from homes that had become surrounded by ice-filled waters.

People opened their homes to displaced pets of families who had lost the fight and had to stay in a hotel where animals weren't allowed.

It constantly amazes me how a community can pull together in the face of adversity, regardless of race, age, sex, or physical ability and protect a city...even when the government can't pull their heads out long enough to make a decision to avoid millions of dollars in damage, cleanup and lost business the following year. Because it HAPPENS EVERY YEAR. This will be at least the 3rd consecutive year it's happened here. So, every time I gripe and complain during the winter, about HOW COULD I POSSIBLY LIVE HERE?! I just have to remember the caliber of people that surround me. North Dakota, through and through. I volunteered. It was only for about 4 hours. But my body ached, my arms ached and my heart had never been fuller.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mascots, Team Names and other Ridiculousness

I want to add a quick disclaimer here: I am not an expert in sports by any means, I'm a casual viewer of football and that's about it. Although I looked up information on this subject, I'm not saying everything is entirely factual, and a lot is based on opinion. So if I get something wrong, well, don't say I didn't warn you. That being said, let's move forward.

I didn't go to the University of North Dakota, but last year and the year before, they were in the news quite a bit because of the school's sport's team name, The Fighting Sioux.  After a lot of protesting by both sides, the ND house of representatives forced them to retire the logo and the name. You should know that the Sioux name was first used by UND in 1930.

The logo was created by a guy named Bennett Brien, who happened to be of Ojibwa decent. Apparently, he didn't have a problem with the name. Now I am not Native American, but I really don't see how this is an insult. I feel that they are honoring them for being such strong people. Do you know how much it costs to remove logos from a stadium? LOTS. Not to mention all those wasted T-shirts, foam fingers and other paraphernalia. Reasons for selecting this name were given in a student newspaper as (1)"Sioux are a good exterminating agent for Bison" (the mascot of the nearby North Dakota State University team), (2)"They are warlike, of fine physique and bearing", and (3)"The word Sioux is easily rhymed for yells and songs" Now I can see if the mascot of UND was some dude who came out dressed in a loin cloth, with a headdress waving a hatchet or something. (Not that anyone would want to with our brutal winters.) But there is no mascot.

So, what about the other sports teams who have Native American references? There's the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, and the Washington Redskins (I don't think they mean potatoes) that I know of. And by the way, the Cleveland Indian's mascot is this guy:
How is this relevant?

Here's my next question, what about the likes of say, the Fighting Irish? Now I don't know the history of Ireland or if they were war-faring people, but I can tell you when I hear "fighting Irish" I seriously think of whiskey and bar brawls. Their logo doesn't do much to deter me from this visual.
This is how you decide a dispute in darts at the bar.

Guess what? They DO have a mascot, a leprechaun! I guess I have never felt like a leprechaun was much of a threatening force...but I could be wrong. It certainly seems like they don't have to do much to invest in their mascot's wardrobe. I've seen people downtown who dress like this on a regular basis.

At least the Vikings were know for pillaging remote villages and were feared, but I don't see a whole lot of pissed off Norwegians...and trust me, you can't throw a stick around here without hitting one. And we have this weirdo representing Minnesota at that football games:
Introducing...Ragnar! No seriously. The BO could be scary.

I'm so proud. I guess we could even go as far as saying the NY "Yankees" is offensive, right? I mean, wasn't it an insult in some situations to be called a "Yank?" I could be wrong. I'm not even going to start with the "Brewers" 'cause I'm thinking beer. (Reminder to re-read the disclaimer at this point.)

Of course this got me to thinking about some of these team names that don't make any sense. I mean, can you see UND changing it's name from "The Flickertails" to "The Fighting Sioux?" They did. But looking at this little guy,
Flickertail...also know as a Ground Squirrel

I can't really picture any other team running with their tails between their legs at the sight of him. Unless maybe he was rabid and had a litter or more of siblings to attack. Or unless you're Chevy Chase.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

My High School's team was called...."The Governors." No, I'm not kidding. Of course I grew up in Pierre, SD, which also happens to be the capital and yes, the Governor lives there. Try coming up with a mascot for that one, some overweight politician in a suit and tie who goes around shaking hands and kissing babies (maybe he throw in one of those half-cartwheel things where you put your hands on the ground and kind of jump your feet sideways)? I think not. I don't know where this came from (and maybe it's not even still around) but our mascot was....ready?.....

Gumby. The green blocky clay-mation thing with a horse. Must've been a slow horse, because his name was Pokey. Remember him? Yep, our mascot. Doesn't this instill team loyalty and sports enthusiasm? I try to figure this one out. All I can come up with is that our colors were green and white, and he IS green. We also had a school newspaper called, "The Gumbo," but I'm not sure which came first. Who names their newspaper after a stew anyway? I can't remember who had the glorious job of running around in a green jumpsuit. That would suck. (As an aside, it was just Gumby, not Pokey.) Yeah, I'm thinking he's not around any more for the team.

Anyone else have weird High School / College team names? Now I'm curious. Rah rah!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Some randomness from the last few days. I don't have a whole incident to tell, but I've witnessed quite a few oddities that I must share. Here they are in no particular order:

There are days when the giggling and screaming coming from the ankle biters reach such a crescendo, the only way to put a stop to it is to separate them. God has a sense of humor, he's made those screeches of delight during play hit the exact pitch that manages to wither a small portion of my brain. Part of the separation process requires that they each take baths at different times. (If you want to know why, read World of Whats here.) Big K had just gotten out, was wrapped in his towel and in goes Little Man. I'm in the process of doing something else so consequently, there is about 15 minutes of them running around in nothing but a smile. I finally get a chance to grab Kaiden and drag him to his room to put his pajamas on. Little Man is left to fend for himself with dad, and as usual, pulls out paper to draw.
An original

I'm just about done with Kaiden when I hear dad yell, "Kam!" I hear heavy footsteps on the way to the bedroom. There stands my hubby with his hand wrapped around his little stick of an arm. "What now?" I ask. He spins Kamrin around. He has managed to take a marker and color each of his little butt cheeks green. "Kamrin! What have you done?" Whose kid does that kind of thing? Apparently mine.

I was in my normal rush the morning before. My routine normally calls for 2 trips to the car, one for all the baggage and the second for the kids and purse. Kaiden thought it was too "hot" for his gloves (a whole 27º!), so I balled them up to put in his backpack. But somewhere between Kamrin needing a blanket, and Kaiden needing a drink before we could walk out the door, I had set them on the counter and forgotten them. Kaiden only has those stretchy knit gloves that you get for $1 because he had already lost 2 really nice sets. I think I must have made my point about losing them, because when I picked him up from daycare his immediate response was, "Mom! I couldn't find my gloves! I looked everywhere and I asked the teacher AND the bus driver and I looked through everything in my backpack and they're not there."

"I know. They're on the counter at home."

"What?! YOU forgot them? Moo-oom! I couldn't go out for recess until I had gloves and the teacher made me wear some from the lost and found and they were GIRL gloves! They were purple with pink puppies on them and I couldn't play with anyone because I had to keep my hands in my pockets the WHOLE TIME!"

I'm sure he thought they looked like this, just add pink puppies.

I brought a box home from my office. In it was a large yoga ball that I had used to sit on when my backside went numb. It was quite therapeutic. Kamrin brought the deflated mass to my husband and begged for it to be blown up. After about the 3000th request, Shawn used the air compressor to restore it back to its massive roundness. Well, that should keep them occupied for a bit. I stood in the bedroom folding clothes when out of the corner of my eye, I spy small bodies flying through the air, followed by a huge thump and laughter. They were taking turns jumping from the bed and belly-flopping onto the ball where they were tossed into the air before they crash landed. "HEY! What are you doing? YOU know I can't take you to the emergency room if you break your arm! Stop!"

Not my kid.

I was asked what a soul was.

A show on TV was talking about freak pet accidents (they all survive). They showed one of those dogs that are closer cousins to rats than anything else (a chiwawa?) that had jumped up to see what his master had cooking on his outdoor grill. The man had just lowered his 2-pronged fork (those big ones that are made for a grill) and managed to skewer the thing through the head. (I'm guessing that wouldn't be an accident for some people). It ran off and several hours later they managed to find it and take it to the vet where miraculously survived. Ten minutes later in my household, I see Kamrin holding a dinner fork and crooning, "Heeeeerrree Bobie (our lab mix)." Don't even think about it. Hand the fork over.

Whoever invented the powered candy with the concentrated sugar stick for dipping, should be shot. I hate vacuuming after 9 at night.

Not fun for moms.

My neighbors graciously watched my boys when hubby and I had to go get our taxes done. It took 2 and a half hours. They'll probably have the best sleep they've had in years.

I found one empty glass AND a glass with cottage cheese in the refrigerator. (for real, not like the milk I usually find).

My son wrote me a letter, it said "I love mommy and dad. Thay r sooper grate!"

My son picked a bracelet out of the dentist prize box just for me.

I unclogged the bathroom sink by picking out soggy pieces of green toilet paper. Kamrin must've felt guilty about the marker incident.

I was actually able to enjoy a clean living room for more than half an hour. Then it was time to pick up the boys.

And to think, tomorrow's only Wednesday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soft Boy

I've had a really bad week.  I lost my job. I can't sleep and I can't eat. I'm trying to figure out which direction to go. This should be a fresh start for me. A break from the old, and endless possibilities for the future. But I forget that I'm getting old, at least according to the job market. Especially a market that is coming off of  a recovering recession and is looking to cut costs wherever they can. So they aren't going to pay for my experience and knowledge. They would rather hire young, at minimal pay, and train. I'm trying very hard to be optimistic. Can I generate enough freelance business that I could just find a part time job in something that I love or would be beneficial to me...say Hobby Lobby or Home Depot?

How do you approach this subject with your children? You don't want them to have to worry about the grown up issues, but you also need an explanation as to why certain privileges and extravagances are cut off. As an adult, you think that you do really well at hiding some of these turmoils. Or at least I did. But kids are way more perceptive than we think. They overhear whispered conversations, and I think they know when something is just "off" with their parents. They really aren't given as much credit as they deserve.

The day after my job loss, I did what a lot of people do and posted something on facebook. My mother texted me and said something to the effect that I shouldn't publish that in case future employers would look me up. I was already in bed when this text came through and kind of snapped back at her. But she was right, I should take the high road. But after I got up and deleted my post, I went back to bed, and realized that she was right, I couldn't even vent publicly. I went back to bed with my 4 year old son who was in bed with us, and asleep, or so I thought, but thinking of my mom's words made me silently cry. Out of the darkness came two pudgy hands on each cheek, "Mommy? You cold? My keep you warm." I'm glad that's what he thought it was. I tried not to cry harder.

Conversations with my sons have become more and more adult. I'm starting to realize that I don't have all the answers. I spent almost an entire Saturday feeling sorry for myself, laying on my bed and watching mind-numbing television. I told my kids that I didn't feel well when I honestly was wallowing in self-pity. Sunday came, and I decided to get rid of my aggression, physically, by pounding an ice chipper into the ground over and over and over. My palms are bruised and my shoulders ache, but I feel a little better.

Then I realized that tomorrow is Valentine's Day and my son needs Valentine's to take to school. With this sudden tightening of the belt, I went to the dollar store and got Valentine's with attachable suckers for $2. I also got both sons and husband a cardboard heart with three measly chocolates in them for a dollar each. I had a $10 bill and needed to keep the total less than that. Hubby was appreciative, but when I told Little Man he couldn't have a sucker (there was just enough for Big K's class), I was told that I wasn't loved any more...ever! He promptly went crying to his room and fell asleep.

Later, I was tucking Big K into bed, and that seems to be when he has all the questions. It gives me glimpse into what is really bothering him, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to me. He first asked, "Mommy, what if a gang surrounds me, and I don't know what to do?" (Wha?) First of all, yes, we do have gangs in ND. Not even close to what they have say, in California, but they exist. My response was, "Honey, that's not going to happen to you."

"But mom, what if they do?"

My best off-the-cuff response, "If something like that happened, you'll be old enough to have a cellphone and you can call 9-1-1." (Really? That's the best I could come up with?) "Besides, Dad will teach you how to be a tough guy, something mommy can't do."

"But mommy? Sometimes I don't want to be a tough guy, sometimes I just want to be a soft boy."

(Suppressing smile.) "Well, I understand that. But me and daddy are here if you ever have any problems, people can be mean, and I hope you come talk to us about it."

And then, the inevitable, "Mommy? Why don't you work at your job any more?"

Big breath. Silent introspection. Censoring. "You know how sometimes you feel like people are mean to you on the bus for no reason?"


"Well in the grown up world, people can be mean to you for no reason, and sometimes that means they won't let you work at your job any more. But that just means that I will go and find a better job that will make me a happier person, because I can't let mean people make me feel sad. Does that make sense?" (Lord, I'm blowing this...)

"Mommy, people were mean to you? I should get a whole pack of mean dogs and make them go bite them." (My thoughts exactly!!)

"I know. Sometimes people will make you think that way but...(and maybe here's where I'm going over his head...) we have to be better people than that. We may think bad thoughts, but we are good people and good people don't do that to other people, no matter what. We just take the lessons we've learned and find something better."

"Oh. Well don't people like that..who are mean to people for no reason...go to hell?"

"Yes honey, yes they do."

Okay, I'm not perfect. Sue me. It will be too soon before he realizes that life isn't fair. But bless their innocence while it lasts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

End of the World As We Know It?

According to the Mayan calendar, the world is supposed to end on my husband's 41st birthday. He says with his luck, he'll finally buy a lottery ticket, scratch off the numbers, win the big jackpot and BOOM! (Got screwed again, hon, is what he says). Although the hype seems to have died down, no pun intended, It still kind of haunts me. Usually when I'm daydreaming in the car on the way to work.

Personally, I'm going to side with the people who believe that OUR calendar isn't accurate in the first place, that the actual end of the world is thousands of years after that fateful day in December. I side with them for a couple of reasons, one being that my own belief is that God would not let mere mortals know when Armageddon is approaching. I mean, what would be the point? Everyone would live the way they wanted to right up to, umm, I don't know, 6 weeks prior? And then I suppose they would nearly all repent and be saved. Done deal.

The second reason is every movie I have seen that deals with this subject tends to approach it in almost the same way. I can tell you right now, I don't have the survival techniques. I'm kind of rooting that if it's a ton of asteroids that hit the earth, the first, biggest most fiery one falls right on my house. Then it would all be over. Morbid, right? But look at the the flip side, I really don't see myself being able to maneuver a mobile home a hundred miles an hour while meteors create fireballs inches away from the bumper and I'm dodging large cracks that open out of nowhere in the middle of the road.

I'm definitely not in any kind of physical shape to outrun some sort of indestructible robot, let alone heave anything substantial above my head to crush the circuitry in it's main motherboard (or whatever it's called.) I'd be panting, holding the stitch in my side after running a WHOLE BLOCK, and WHAMMO, smashed by something that runs on a motor. Dead.
Terminator - I'll be back

I can't stand winter, so any type of nuclear blast that would block the sun would be intolerable. Not only because of the cold, but because of the total lack of any decent take-out.
Day After Tomorrow - Brrr

Disease spreading monkeys? With my constant exposure to the germs the kids bring home from daycare, my immune system would probably survive the first wave of that. But I'm telling you right now, someone would have to bury the bodies of those who didn't survive, and it not going to me!
12 Monkeys

I certainly can't imagine surviving alone. No way. Who would listen to me bitch and complain about the heat, dirt, lack of water...
Book of Eli

Any time I picture this scenario, my family would survive as well. But that brings up several issues. It would not be possible to load up a back pack with water bottles and canned goods to start trekking to the nearest hub of civilization. We'd maybe get 2 blocks and Little Man would start whining that his legs hurt. There I would be trying to balance 35 lbs of kid on my hip and 80 lbs of gear on my back with a rope tied around my waist attached to the wagon with a broken wheel carrying all of our bedding and changes of underwear. Shawn wouldn't be able to carry him, because he will somehow deem it necessary to bring along his fish sonar (or something similar that he would be convinced we would need at some point!)

I've never been hunting and always end up apologizing to the worm when we go fishing. Let's say I discover my hidden talent for hunting birds, squirrels and other small furry animals and am able to bag fifty for supper. And let's say, I actually could keep the content of my stomach IN my stomach while skinning them to cook. My kids would still say, "What?! Squirrel again! Why can't we ever have anything good to eat?"

From our camping adventures, I'm pretty sure I could at least get a fire going. Staying awake to keep the wild animals at bay, that may be another story. I could see us all huddled in complete darkness, except for the orange glow of the fire. I'd have a shelter made (and swept, I'm sure) with sleeping bags laid out to keep us warm. Big K would turn to me, "Mom, I'm bored. What can we do?" It would take us 3 months longer than expected to get where we thought we were going because my sense of direction sucks, and we are without GPS when the cellphones died.

Of course, we'd probably run into other survivors, but I'd be embarrassed to join up with them because I hadn't done a thing with my hair and my kids' shirts are filthy.

But seriously, the world won't end on December 21, 2012, will it? Probably not, but I'm going to throw hubby one hell of a birthday party...on the 20th.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sleep Over...Over

I knew this time would come. Another small stepping stone in Big K's life. He received his first invitation to a SLEEPOVER! I looked at the invite penciled in shaky grade-school letters and felt a mixture of feelings; A little sad, because it meant that Kaiden was close to entering the time in his life where he would want to be with his friends more than his family. I felt a bit nervous because I had never met this boy's parents and really had no idea what type of people they were. But I also felt a bit of excitement, just because it was so incredibly obvious that Kaiden was excited about going. I think it was in the way he thew his coat on the floor, tore his backpack open, and waved the envelope in the air before he shredded it to get the invite out. Just guessin'.

The invite said, "Kaiden, you got invited to a sleepover." Kind of like he had won a prize or something. Well maybe he did by the way he was acting. The invitation did not contain an address, so I looked up the boy's name on the "friendship" list from school and called his mother. She spoke with an accent, but I couldn't place the nationality...I was thinking maybe from India? Or a middle eastern country? (Geography is not my strong point). The friendship list doesn't contain last names, so I couldn't try to pin it down, not that it mattered. It sounded like it would be 4 boys and it was the child's 7th birthday.

You have to know this about Big K before I continue, he's pretty shy, and lacks self-confidence. He's the kid who hangs back in a crowd, and lets people run over him. He gets embarrassed easily and can be incredibly over-sensitive. He's absolutely a sweet kid, well-mannered, but just doesn't speak up or ask for help. He also still has"Blankie." This could be an issue. He doesn't carry it everywhere, but if he has it in the car on the way to the bus stop, it will come flying over my shoulder about a block from the stop, with him yelling, "Hide it! Hide it!"

We had tried this sleeping over thing before with his Uncle (Shawn's brother), but we got the call at about 1 in the morning, that Kaiden wanted to come home. It wasn't a planned sleep over, Kaiden was just having fun and his Uncle loves being with him, so asked him to stay. Kaiden's excuse that time was because the only pajamas his Uncle had for him was an over-sized white T-shirt and he wasn't comfortable. That was over a year ago.

Anyway, I sent Shawn to buy the gift (the man has an uncanny knack for picking the perfect present), I wrapped it (HA! I don't wrap, I put it in a bag and throw tissue paper over it), and pack his bag the night before. I let Big K pick out his PJ's and the clothes for the following day, thinking any nervousness he had would be lessened if I let him participate in the packing and let him choose what he would be most comfortable in.

I have to tell you what was going on in my head. The thing that worried me the most was the bathroom situation. I know, weird, right? But I kept thinking, what if he has to go in the middle of the night, and he isn't able to find his way? (We keep a light on so the kids can find their way in the dark).  Would he wake someone up? What if he didn't, and peed his pants? Do kids that age make fun of other kids for that? What if it wasn't the middle of the night and he had to go #2? There have been many days where after 15 minutes I'll knock on our bathroom door, "Everything okay in there?" He'll sit so long, he has a red ring on the back of his thighs and buttocks from sitting on the toilet. This may not be common in other families and may cause unnecessary worry.

Okay, enough already! It was time to back off and give the kid a chance. So I straightened my shoulders, grabbed the gift bag, overnight bag (sans blankie, he insisted), and pillow. I marched up to the door and turned around to see Kaiden still 3 ft behind me. "Come on," I encouraged, "It's going to be fun." He smiled and rang the bell.

Even after meeting the mom, I still couldn't tell you where she was from. But she was incredibly nice. So I gave Kaiden a quick hug (I didn't want him to feel any worry-vibes coming from me), and told him I'd see him tomorrow.

Little Man had fallen asleep very early. Which meant one thing, I had time to be alone with my husband! I got home and said, "Well, hon, you ready?" And he replied, "It's about time." And we...(boom chick-a bow bow) pulled out his business receipts and proceeded to get things ready for the tax people. (Yeah, I know what you all are thinking. In a perfect world. But no, Friday night and I'm going through tax stuff?! I live an exciting and dangerous life. Insert sarcasm here.)

I was still looking for anything tax related in all the slips of paper we accumulate, when the phone rang. I looked at the clock...10:30. Uh-oh.

So I found my way back to the boy's house. Kaiden was waiting at the door. The lady tried to offer every explanation about why he may have wanted to come home. I felt bad for her, because it wasn't like she had done anything wrong. So I thanked her, and suggested that maybe birthday boy could come visit us sometime? I strapped K into the car seat and then situated myself in the front seat.

"Everything go okay?"

"The party was a wreck, mom."

"Oh? What happened?"

He proceeded to tell me that he was the only one who showed up. That the gift dad bought was way too good because once the boy opened it, he stopped playing with Kaiden.

"And she didn't speak English, mom. She tried really hard, but she just wasn't good at it." (Please understand that this is North Dakota, and there isn't a whole lot of exposure to cultural diversity up here. Blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin make up about 80% of the population.)

"...and...and I missed my family."

Mental sigh of relief. Maybe we're not quite to that stepping stone yet. Maybe he can be my sweet little boy for just awhile longer.

"Aww honey. That's sweet. I really didn't like sleep overs until I was about 8 or so, and when you have a lot more people there, it's a lot more fun. You play games, and if someone doesn't want to play, you can always play with someone else there. We missed you too, but I'm sure in a couple of years, you'll really want to go and you'll have a good time..." I glanced in the rear view mirror.

He was fast asleep.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hand Me My Cape

It was one of those days today. I just have to share it, because honestly, I didn't think I was going to make it. Really. Because yesterday wasn't as bad but yesterday I felt like I was going to have a panic/anxiety attack/stroke/heart attack and today was worse. Since I don't know what any of these feel like, I can't tell you which it is.

At 5:30 this morning, the weatherman informed me that the temperature was -22º below zero...without windchill. Factor in the windchill, -35º. Yipee. Did you know that at -40º,  exposed skin will freeze in 5 minutes? Just so you know.

Got the boys up and out the door, we were making good time.  It was going to be close, but we were going to catch the bus, even if it meant cutting him off at the intersection (which I've been known to do)... until we reached the railroad crossing. With a train. Which after waiting two minutes, decided to back up...stop...and go forward again. As a side note: trains should not be able to run across major intersections between the hours of 7AM - 8AM and 4 - 6PM. Just a thought. People would be happier.

Dropped Little Man off at daycare, drove the other one to school. At the school parking lot, faked the door being stuck and forced-hugged him in front of his friends. (My revenge for him being slow and making us late this morning -- hee hee).

Got to work and was informed that deadline was pushed up by 4 hours so the boss can pick up his kid. I am a Graphic Designer/Art Director, this squashes any iota of creativity. Not to mention that this was a bit of a surprise to our sales reps who decided to respond with stubborn resistance. (more to come on this). I also freelance on the side as a designer for my own business called Aardvark Graphix (shameless plug), and wish I could freelance full-time, but the work isn't steady enough. Another side note: Am getting sick of being a designer so earned a degree in small engine repair. Who knew that would add more responsibilities? Anyway...I had a huge freelance project that was giving me nothing but bleeding ulcers, because the guy I was doing it for is a complete saint and I wanted it all to end well. I needed to sign off on that job..discretely (because I'm at my "real" job"). Arrange covert meeting at elevator, sign, done. Back to deadline. I get a call from my insurance agent who is in the process of transferring my home owner's insurance and finding me a better deal on health insurance. (I currently pay $600 a month for a family of four. Suggestions? I need them, can't afford this). Have him visit over lunch (15 min) hour and sign. Also manage to register my son online, for baseball this summer. And oops, totally spaced out credit card payment (but don't worry, they HAVE reminded me), make payment on phone (and no I am NOT interested in anything, get off my phone!)

Again, back to deadline.

Four hours after updated deadline, still accepting changes. (Whooooosh! Anyone else feel that deadline fly by? Or was it just me?) Have unfinished business at 5:15, but have to pick up children. So must leave work and start car, and wait...(it's -35º remember? Oil is sludge. God bless you auto-start).

Pick up kids. Big K having an awful day (always does when one particular girl is there, but I know I'm only getting one side of the story...I've seen it before). In the car and home. Phone call from sales rep (why did I give out my cell?). Will have to finish ad in the morning. Okey dokey, have to run an errand for my mom at Hobby Lobby (don't mind this, I love my mom. It's the other people I have trouble with). While at the store, concentrating on item numbers from computer printout from mom, I receive phone call from client of aforementioned sales rep. Need changes and approval tonight. It's her birthday (wish it were my birthday, then I'd get drinks and cake). Attempt to write changes down on any scrap of paper I can find in my purse. Unwrapped a tampon and used that. Disguestting, I know, but you do what you gotta do.

Rush home and fire up the laptop. Long story, short, spent three hours back and forth with birthday girl getting the ad right. She still has to run it through three superiors for approval in the morning. In between phone calls with the client, I managed to send a file to freelance client, call mother of Big K's friend who's having a slumber/birthday party in two days (Big K's first one, so had to warn her why I'm sending a phone number with him and she speaks halted English--challenge!!), cook a waffle for Little Man, interact with the boss via phone one HIS changes need  get those taken care of, remind my hubby of open house tomorrow night for Little Man's school (Pre-K *sniff*) and inform him that he now has to pick up b-day present tomorrow, call my mom to let her know I'm sending her stuff in the mail and tell her I love her (because she's traveling and you just never know). I also checked over Big K's homework...oh, and did I tell you I actually remembered that he needs to bring a ziplock of 100 somethings because it is the 100th day of school on Tuesday, so I bought star-shaped beads?

And now I'm here. Venting. With one drink because I damn-well deserve one. I love wine, but I'll take a Vodka-diet. I'm not picky. Hand me my dang cape.

P.S. Remind me to tell you about the guy who called me at work this afternoon to rant about how receiving direct mail caused him to have his heat shut off, because not only do I design, I answer phone, file, babysit.... May have to post with a lot of swear symbols.

P.P.S. I apologize for excessive use of "...." and "(   )", couldn't help myself.