Archive for July, 2008

The Big Gun Bed

July 30, 2008

My boys like nothing more than to play on Nana and Papa’s bed.  That might seem odd at first, but once you realize that the bed is like a giant junglegym it becomes understandable.  My parents sleep on a bed on stilts.  On steroids.  On a 5-foot tall bed.

This is not a bed you want to roll out of at night.  This is also not a bed you want to mess with.  In my youth it contained more guns than most people own.

My parents are not young’uns.  They (apparently) aren’t too old to climb in and out of the bed, but my dad complains about his knees and my mom complains about the pain caused by bunions in her feet.  Climbing in and out of Mount Everest on a daily basis cannot be helping.

Why?  Why?  WHY?

Because we never throw anything away.

This bed was made for my sister and myself in 1976.  My uncle made it out of hand carved red cedar.  At the time it was a bunk bed.  The part Casey is climbing on was the bottom half – slash – gun cabinet and left side of the photo was the top bunk.  My uncle made the bed in lieu of rent one month while staying with us.  He built the bed in the room.  A couple of years later my parents decided to move out of the mobile home trailer where we lived.  The bed could not be removed.  But a wall of the mobile home could be.  Still, it was too heavy to relocate so my dad sawed it in half.  No more bunk bed.  Welcome set of twin beds.

Fast forward a few years and my homework mysteriously disappeared from underneath my mattress.  Further probing uncovered that the bed (what was once the bottom bunk) holds in its interior a hidden compartment of guns.   I confront my parents that I think its weird to make a child (a middle child at that) sleep on guns without her knowledge and consent.  They think I’m weird – making a big deal out of nothing.  They own guns so I think they’re weird – can’t they see what a big deal it is?   I continued to sleep on guns for the better part of the next decade. 

Fast forward a few more years and one by one the children grew up and left the nest.  My parents had no use for 2 twin beds so they fanagled a make-shift king-sized bed only because of the design of the original bed and my mom’s insistence that they have a box spring – the bed is now on stilts.  Unfortunately when they re-fanagled the bed to be a king size bed, the gun cabinent became inaccessible so I cannot any longer truthfully say that my parents “sleep on guns.” 

This bed is made to bring joy to everyone.   For the toddlers.  For the sleepers.  For the gun lovers.  For the bloggers.  For everyone.

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Loose Ends

July 28, 2008

Let me just say how nice it is to get back to REAL internet land as opposed to dial up which makes me want to pull my hair out.

This weekend my sister said she had no idea how I go through life without smoking.  With my 2 very active children to keep up with, she can’t imagine how good my coping skills must be in order to do so without the benefit of nicotine.   (I do love the caffeine though.)  My children would talk, bounce, do their usual negotiations, and she would step out to the porch and smoke.  I realized this weekend that my vice of choice is Scrabble.  Nerdy I know.  But it helps me collect myself as I work through how to make a word out of my P – Q – L – R -E -I – J.  But dial-up makes me want to take up smoking.  I feel the need for some calm and collected computer time – but the letters take 10 minutes (no joke) to display.  It’s a little bit on the stressful side.  Add in blogging on dial up.  It’s not pretty.

Anyway, this weekend was full of firsts.  Casey and Riley rode their first horse.  (Just a few weeks ago Casey thought a horse were a giraffe – now he’s riding one.  I’d have photos, but I went home for the weekend unprepared.)  Riley jumped off the high dive for the first time.  He wanted to.  I was terrified.  I didn’t think he was old enough.  He showed me.  Riley also showed his first embarrassment at hugging and kissing me.  I was getting ready to go back to the city and crawled up on the bed next to him and his cousin.  (Actually my cousin’s kid so what does that make them, second cousins?)  He cuddled in and started being his affectionate self when R.  (2nd cousin) made the 8-year-old boy EUUWWWWWWWWW yell followed by GROSS.  Riley stiffened up, pulled away, and said, “Yah, mom.  I’m done hugging you.”  It broke my heart at the realization that the hugs and kisses are going to steadily get more scarce as my boys grow up but it also made me happy to see Riley negotiate the peer pressure in an effective but not hurtful way.  I mean, he could have also professed the grossness, instead he just let me know he was done hugging me. 

Finally, for those who are following my blog like a soap opera, the weekend was also filled with Casey’s very first successful pee in the potty.  His potty chair sang him a royal tune.  I gave him an M&M and that was that.  I tried all weekend but he’s either the most stubborn child in existence or he just needs some more time.  I was pushing the potty training because I had a 4-day weekend with him with lots of adults around (like Nana) and cousins to entertain Riley.  See, daycare just isn’t interested in helping with potty training.  They say they take a “supportive role” but really I think that just means that when he’s potty trained, they support it.  We weren’t successful this weekend.  And no, I didn’t leave him an extra week with Grandma to potty train.  I’d like to say it was because I couldn’t endure the thought of him getting spanked, but in reality, Nana rescinded the offer late Saturday afternoon.  After 3 full days with both boys, she needed a break.  The offer is still open for the week with Nana to potty train, it just can’t be a week when Riley is there too. 

This post is random I know but I hope its a good random.  In any case, its random like my mind but eventually I did tie up the loose ends.

Should he stay or should he go now?

July 26, 2008

Potty training has thus far yielded very little success.  The ratio of success (3) to failure (15) is not pretty.  Nana claims it is because I am hindering her potty training style.

So Nana has offered to take Casey for a week and actually potty train him.  This is an appealing option on so many levels.  First because I’d be able to have a week at home without the boys.  There are closets to clean out, floors to vacuum, lawn to mow, blogs to write (ha), and I can do all this with ease if Nana has both boys. 

But there’s a down-side too.

See, my method of potty training is full of positive reinforcements, M&Ms (the little guy is crazy about “Chockchit” and he doesn’t get chocolate ever), and lots of gushing praise about Casey becoming a “big boy.”  But this has not yielded any success.

Nana’s method of potty training – known to work in a week – takes a different approach.  Shaming.  Spanking.  It isn’t pretty.  But it works.

So, should he stay or should he go now?

A little Dora boy

July 24, 2008

Riley is spending 2 weeks at Nana and Papa’s, taking swimming lessons, hiking in the mountains and fishing. Casey misses his big brother, but LOVES the extra attention this gives him. Like last night when he wanted to sleep in Riley’s bed. Then he wanted Dora sheets on the bed. Then he wanted his Dora doll. Then he wanted Dora pillows. Then he needed to sleep in a Dora shirt.

We accommodated all this. In part because it was fun. But mainly because we have the energy to play, accommodate, even cater to – because there’s just one of ’em. But as fun as the 2 adults to 1 kid ratio has been, Mama Kim is flying off to a distant city for a conference and I miss Riley terribly, so me and the little Dora boy are going to drive to the Uinta Basin and hang out the Grandparents. Plus, Nana has a 100% score on potty training little children so I’m going to turn the reins over to her and see if she can get this stubborn kid to comply. Details to come. But not ’til Saturday when we return to the big city

Dad’s advice on getting rid of morning glory

July 21, 2008

My parents came to the big city this weekend to help my brother tear out his old leaky moldy bathroom and put in a new shiny mold-free bathroom.  My dad’s a real do-it-yourself-er.  He’s brilliant.  He can fix anything.  Jerry rig anything.  Accomplish anything.  He’s a gardener.  A xeroscaper.  A wine maker.  A plumber.  An electrician.  He sets tile.  He puts up drywall.  He knows how to do practically anything.  He’s a great guy to have around.

For example, last summer when we were getting our house ready to sell, our realtor mentioned that the bathroom door (with a giant gaping hole in it) looked like we had huge violent fights, and maybe we should fix that before we put the house on the market.  The truth was that Kim did kick in the door.  Although she claims she tapped it with her Doc Martin shoes on, and the “paper thin” door just crumbled.  I thought we were going to have to buy a new door.  Nope.  Dad showed us how to stuff the hollow door (it WAS paper thin) with crumpled old newspaper and then the newspaper provides enough resistance to putty the door.  Then you can spackle and paint.  No worse for wear really.

I guess I share all this because I want to give my dad some sort of authority.  I want you to understand why an independent woman in her mid-30s still asks Dad inane questions.  It’s because he ALWAYS has the answer.  Not just an answer – but the very best possible answer.

Yesterday I asked him if there was an easy way to get rid of morning glory without killing off my lawn.

This was his response.

“Yes.  There is a simple solution to this.  And it works every time.   All you have to do is this:  Dig up the morning glory.  And make sure you get each and every root.  These root systems can be complex and it seems they can be 20 foot long, so make sure you get it all.  Then you have to gather the plants including all the roots and pour gasoline on them.  Then light a match.  Burn that pile of morning glory.  Once it is all ashes, you have to pick up the ashes.  You have to eat the ashes  – all of them – and then…. don’t shit.  I’m telling you, it works every time.”

“That simple huh?” I responded.

I wonder what his advice would be on how to finish a dissertation?

If you don’t understand satire, please don’t even read this…

July 17, 2008

Marriage has always been, by definition, “until death do us part.”  It is not – nor has it ever been – for “time and all eternity” yet Mormons are trying to undermine the institution of marriage by changing the fundamental definition of marriage to encompass “forever.”  This threatens the marriages of each and every legally married “until death do us part” couple.  In fact it rocks the very foundation of marriage and leaves the institution vulnerable to further crumbling. 

 

Consider this:  More than 50% of all marriages already fail.  Couples only have to keep their marriages together for 40 to 50 years “until death” and still most cannot do this.   Imagine what the divorce rate will look like if married couples are expected to keep it together for eternity.

 

Shall we start a movement to prohibit Mormon marriages from receiving the same legal protections and familial status as non-Mormon marriage?  Of course, they can, as a Church decide to officiate whatever marriages they want but these marriages are ordained by a Mormon God.   Should they even have any civil standing?  These couples are not married until “death do they part” – a fundamental definition of the institution of marriage, should they be able to offer health benefits to their “forever families?”   I haven’t even started in on the issue of celestial polygamy.  Should the “families for eternity” camp be allowed to adopt?  We cannot stop them from reproducing, but we can legislate around foster issues and adoption.   Children, even those in orphanages or institutions of the state, deserve the most ideal home possible.  They HAVE NOT CHOSEN to be with their adopted family for “time and all eternity.”  Every adopted child deserves the right to have their adoption end at their death.  This is fundamental folks.

 

When will it stop?  The hate.  The divisions.  The logic (or lack thereof) is all too familiar to me.

 

No people.  I don’t think an “eternal” marriage threatens an “until death” only marriage.  But hey, I also don’t think a same-sex marriage threatens a heterosexual marriage either.

 

I say,  if you don’t want one, don’t get one.

 

The Tooth Fairy and the Banker

July 14, 2008

The Tooth Fairy is a touchy subject in this house.  Last August Riley lost his first tooth.  Kim and I the Tooth Fairy made the mistake of giving two golden dollars for the feat.  (inflation.  I swear, I got a quarter.)  I’m not sure why we the Tooth Fairy chose this particular route.  At the time, it seemed reasonable.  He was only 5.  We knew he’d get excited about seeing gold even if it were only worth a dollar each.  We the Tooth Fairy regretted this just a few short weeks later when Riley lost his second tooth.  He chose the night we moved across town to lose the second tooth.  We spent the entire day unpacking, organizing, and trying to make sense of our new space.  Exhausted, we crawled into bed after midnight.  And as we relaxed, Kim realized that we needed to pay up for the lost tooth.  Only we had no idea which box might hold my jewelry box and my jewelry box held my golden dollars.  Kim started rifling through boxes, destroying the illusion that we packed in an organized fashion.  No golden dollars.  Finally Kim opened a box that contained Riley’s painted tooth box.  (Apparently the Tooth Fairy has gotten lazy in the last few years.  Under the pillow is too much work.  So she now removes the tooth from a much more sanitary wooden box and replaces the tooth with the golden dollars.)  In Riley’s painted tooth box were his two golden dollars from his tooth a few weeks earlier.   

I had an epiphany.  We’d set out his tooth box and he’d find the 2 golden dollars.  He’d happily accept them.  We’d get 6 hours of sleep.  When things were unpacked and back to normal, I’d throw in a couple of golden dollars to keep things fair.  Kim refused to believe it’d work.  She insisted that he’d know.  She was convinced that the FIRST thing he’d do would be to find his other golden dollars and put them all together.  I was certain that he’d happily accept the money without incidence. 

He awoke the next morning and rushed to open his tooth box.  Tears welled up in his eyes.  “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come,” he wailed.  I responded, “Of course the Tooth Fairy came.  See, there’s your money.”  He insisted that he was two dollars short.  I repeatedly informed him that his OTHER two dollars were packed somewhere and that the two dollars in the box WAS MOST DEFINITELY HIS LOOT FROM LAST NIGHT. 

He wasn’t buying it.  Instead he shouted, “You’re the worst Tooth Fairy a kid has ever EVER had!” 

He’s lost 3 other teeth since then and the Tooth Fairy has always arrived without incidence.  She even paid up an extra buck for the tooth that had to be extracted by the dentist because the permanent tooth was growing in from behind but the baby tooth wasn’t loosening fast enough. 

Tonight Riley lost his 6th tooth.  His four front teeth (top and bottom) are permanent and seem extra large for his little mouth, especially now that he has a missing space on each side of his bottom front teeth.  He was so proud because tonight was the first time that he’d pulled the tooth out by himself. 

While I was putting him to bed, he gloated just a bit more.  “I’m six years old and I have lost six teeth and I have one brother and this is the one tooth I pulled myself.  Get it?  Six.  Six.  One.  One.”  He thought he was being clever.  I told him I got it.  But I have NO IDEA what he was going on about.  He was rambling, “speaking six” we call it.

He went on, “What time does the Tooth Fairy come?”  He asked. 

“I have no idea.”  I responded.  “I guess just when she can get here.” 

“Mom.  I KNOW you’re the Tooth Fairy so just tell me.”

“Why do you want to know?”  I asked.

“Because if she doesn’t come until tomorrow, I’m going to have to charge interest!”

To think that I tried to trick him out of 2 dollars less than a year ago. 

He’s two. He’s really two.

July 10, 2008

I’ve never been one to call the joyful coming into one’s voice as being the “terrible twos” but I really do not know what else to call Casey’s behavior tonight. Okay, truthfully, it was not all night, but certainly was AT LEAST 20 minutes of stubbornness and screaming that I had not yet seen in this child.

It was as if The Incredible Hulk and Matt Biondi had a baby. (aah. I miss Lauren.)

Why all the ruckus you might ask? Because we requested, as we always do, that as part of his bedtime routine, he actually brush his teeth.

He wailed. He screamed. Mama K. rushed over to assist. She held him. I held the toothbrush. We explained that this was not a choice, that we expected him to brush his teeth. He clamped his mouth shut. I tried to pry it open (sounds so bad) with the toothbrush. He realized he was not going to win so he lost all composure and in an angry gasp for air, he decided to cry. Only he was so wound up a this point that his breath intake was not followed by breath expulsion. As his mouth gaped wide open, I started brushing those beautiful pearly whites. I expected the audible scream to come. Sometimes it is a bit delayed when he gets this angry. But no. It never came. His lips turned blue. His face got all scrunched up and his entire face started turning blue.

I chose this particular moment to completely freak out. I could not understand why a child would HOLD HIS OWN BREATH until he was blue. I decided that he must have swallowed his tongue and was unable to breathe. Or that he was somehow choking on his own phlegm or on the toothpaste and was actually airway impaired.

No. That was not the case. This was simply his very first temper tantrum.

But seriously, he flailed those Hulk arms and held that Biondi breath for at least a minute.

Ten minutes later he was begging to cuddle up on the couch with me and even though I felt so in need of a reassuring hug from the child, I instead tucked him back into bed.

Did I happen to mention that we had a friend over to witness the entire episode? I don’t think he wants kids. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Camping like it is the 4th of July

July 7, 2008

  

Apparently, there’s nothing like colonialism to make a person want to fry up fish, get eaten by gnats and play with small amounts of explosives.  Anecdotally, I’ve heard that the 4th of July is to LGBT folks as Super Bowl Sunday is to women.   With the beer flowing and the Patriotism running rampant, I can see how the 4th of July might include a little gay-bashing.  Independence Day has never been my favorite holiday.   Truthfully I don’t really like holidays at all, but I did get a bit excited about the boys hanging out with their cousins, the visit with my family, the opportunity to get away from the looming dissertation even if just for a weekend, and the chance to do all this where it wasn’t 100 degrees was an added bonus. 

 

The camp site was beautiful.  Nestled between a canal and the Uintah River, the spot was mostly shaded by pines and aspen.  My sister had driven up there mid-last week to pitch a tent and psych other campers into thinking the spot was already taken.  It was sort of the camping equivalent of butting in line, but it worked.  My sister brought her camp trailer complete with running water and a flushable toilet that I willingly pitched in $10 so I could use. 

 

On the drive I realized what city children my boys were.  First when Riley saw a herd of cows and remarked, “What’s beef called again?  When it’s alive?” 

 

This was followed up about 15 minutes later by Casey seeing a horse and remarking, “Giraffe.  See it giraffe.”  I realized my kids had seen giraffes at the zoo more often than they’d seen horses. 

 

Riley played, got dirty, got bitten by mosquitoes, went fishing, caught fish, choke down the fish (a rainbow trout) and pretended to like it though he admitted it wasn’t as good as blue gill (his first catch.)  He got to bond with his Grandpa and with his 13 year old cousin J.  J’s mentorship was so cute, and resulted in such great conversations to overhear such as the following:

 

Riley and J. lit a lantern around 9:30 PM to go find a willow branch to make into a s’mores tong. 

J. “Come on Riley, lets go find a willow.  We might be awhile, I don’t even know what a willow looks like.

Riley, “Should we bring the axe?”

 

Later that night, Riley was trying to fall asleep in his tent with J. but was too worried that the fire would start a terrible forest fire if he fell asleep instead of watched it as it went out.
J.  “Riley its okay.  Just go to sleep.  The fire is almost out anyway.”

Riley “Should we just go put some water on it?  I’d feel better.”

J. “Don’t worry, Riley, I’ve been doing this for YEARS.”

 

 

Casey didn’t so much love the camping.  He realized early on that camping was really just a series of “no nos.”  Walking to the canal brought the cautionary “Danger.”  Heading to the river brought a similar response.  Pulling the dogs tail was also not allowed.  Getting in the way of horseshoes and goofy golf was off limits.  Playing with the door to the camper got him yelled at by his Auntie.  Don’t get too close to the fire.  Don’t get too far away from camp.  Don’t play behind the vehicles.  Don’t play with the bow and arrow.  Don’t touch the axe.  Was there anything he could do?   Saturday afternoon Casey found play dough in the camper and tentatively asked if he could open it.  I said “of course” to which he replied, “Oh thank God.” 

 

Anyway, Kim, Casey and I slipped away Saturday night to drive to town for a hot shower and a bed at my parents’.  We let Riley stay a second night and we returned Sunday to retrieve him.  He was dirty and exhausted but loved every second of it.

 

Casey, however, kept chanting, “Casey go home.”

 

Sunday, just before we all left to scatter to our various homes, my Dad said to the travelers, “Drive safe.  There are going to be a lot of tired hung-over assholes on that road.”

 

My brother replied, “I know.  I’m one of them.”

 

 

 

Our Evening Walks

July 2, 2008

I tried to make the title sound romantic and enticing.  But I have to be honest, our evening walks are usually more stressful than an evening walk ought to be.  Last night was particularly rough.

It started out well enough.  Riley ahead riding his bike all by himself without training wheels.  (*glowing with pride*), Kim pushing Casey on his tricycle with the adult helper handle.  Then, we saw it.  The cutest puppy you can ever imagine.  If I knew brand names breeds,  I’d tell ya, but I don’t.  All I know is that it was the cutest little puppy with golden red hair.  Actually there were several puppies with the Mommy dog and Casey hopped off his bike to get a snuggle in.  Riley too rallied around the excitement.  The owner then announced that the puppy was FREE and would be ready for a home in the next few weeks.  Riley started jumping up and down.  “Can we get it?  Can we get it?”  Kim also started jumping up and down, “Can we get it?  Can we get it?”  Casey started yelling, “Choc chock chet” which I can only imagine is his rendition of “Can we get it?”

No, of course we cannot get it, spoke the VOICE OF REASON, also known as Momma Ruth.  But truthfully, even my heart melted.  I felt like the puppy was meant to be a part of our family.  Her eyes connected with mine and it was like she was begging for me to give in.  I mumbled something about having to think about it and that we’d be back and the walk resumed.

Only the walk was now a philosophical discussion.  I’ve been having baby pangs lately.  (I really think my hormones are out of whack from sharing close quarters with my female officemates.) I can’t possible REALLY want another child.  Why would I want this?  I cannot keep up with the 2 that I have, yet my heartstrings are being pulled by babies everywhere.  Besides I know that we cannot keep up with, shuttle around, or afford another baby.  Suddenly the answer seemed to be in that puppy.  I could give love to an animal.  I realized on that walk why people have pets. 

But the VOICE OF REASON knows that we cannot take on another responsibility.  Not now, when there’s a dissertation looming, sucking us in, taunting us with its ever presence.  I cannot do anything anymore with Kim without feeling guilt overtake my every nerve because – she SHOULD BE writing her dissertation.

It’s like our life is suspended until this thing is complete.  We have conversations all the time that begin, “When you’re done with the dissertation, maybe we could….”   Put up a fence.  Make a carport.  Get a second income.  Pay off loans.  Get a puppy.  Go on vacation.  HAVE SOME PEACE. 

I know I sound like a selfish person inconvenienced by this little thing called my partner’s dream, but my resolve is wearing thin.  I know that Kim needs support more than ever before which is why this puppy cannot be.  Adding to our list of “to do”s is not going to help, is likely going to hurt, and certainly is not going to speed up the process. 

Consequently, as I was nursing my own broken heart, over the puppy who wouldn’t come home with us, and maintaining the need to be the VOICE OF REASON so not really allowing myself to be conflicted over the puppy, I totally YELLED at Riley over a slightly consequencial but totally not as big of a deal as I made it out to be thing.  We were getting ready to cross the street.  I said, “Cross now.”  He said, “I want to go this way.”  I yelled, “Cross now.”  He couldn’t gather himself together in time, a car starting coming, I grabbed him from his bike because he didn’t see the car.  He said, “You said cross now.”  I said something like, “You dilly dallied so long arguing with your mother that you made it unsafe to cross” and launched into a safety lecture and made him cry.

It really was all about the dog.

On another note, our walk the evening before was much more peaceful.  Casey had skipped his nap and couldn’t quite stay awake for the necessary trip to the grocery store to pick up coffee creamer and slim fast.  Enjoy the pic…