Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Careful What You Say

Everyone who knows me or my family will testify that I have THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD! She really is that great.
But she has one itsy bitsy . . . um . . . issue.

Let me explain.

Four years ago, my husband and I decided that it would be in the best interests of our family if we sell our home, move 550 miles away from all friends and family, and begin college with aspirations of a career as a pharmacist. This did not sit well with Mother (though Father put in his own passionate dissuasion efforts) and she tried in multiple ways to keep her grandchildren near her. Having lost the battle, she is now brainwashing my pods.

This is a picture of my children soon after the big move. Our boy was talking on the phone to Grandma. After he hung up, he started hauling all of this equipment into the living room. Upon inquiry, I learned that Grandma explained the concept of "as the crow flies" to this imaginative and motivated child. My children were going to hike to Grandma's house. They would need a lot of food, camping gear and "good boots because there are a lot of rocks in the mountains." I didn't even try to explain that a seven, five and three year old could not go on an expedition by themselves. I called Grandma and let her explain her flawed discussion topic. It was a sad, sad day.

Once school is done, we could move anywhere. My dear companion and I will look at all options (including grandparent location), pray, discuss and decide on a location. This is not a wise option, in the eyes of my mother. She has decided to intervene--with the aforementioned brainwashing. Each time a child phones her, Mom talks to them about how fun it would be if we bought a lot adjoining hers and Papa's (my sister and her family live on the other side of my parent's home). She is planning on the power of pod puppy eyes as we parents weigh living options. She has three more years and she is working her tail off to achieve her goal. She can be irritatingly dogged.

Don't forget, Mom, I am a mother, too. I know what is going on. Mothers always know.


Hey, I just got this great idea! What if we bought that lot next door to you?!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Sordid Secrets They Don't Tell You


Can I just say, I AM SO SICK OF POOP! and vomit and snot. I am sick of wiping other peoples bottoms and noses. I am sick of Lysol.


I just changed the girls' sheets yesterday. This is not a small job. With three beds full of bedding, the laundry machine is going all day and I am sweaty by the time I am done tucking and lifting and pulling tight. I am always impressed with myself when I make my body contort in the necessary ways to accomplish the making of bunk beds set in corners.


During the night, one child vomited all over her bed. Another child had an accident--of the bad kind--on her bed. So, back in the wash go the mattress pads, the sheets, the pillow cases, the blankets.


The same child who had an accident in her bed decided she would do me a favor by cleaning it up by her three year old self. You know the scene (and it is a little raw) so I won't describe it for you.


The baby has a lot of snot and she doesn't yet understand how to blow. Result? Well, you know.


I don't remember anyone telling me this part about motherhood. Oh, yes, you get to choose their names and dress them up and read them stories, but you also get to deal with a lot of bodily fluids--and solids. Your house will smell like poo until your youngest is about 4 1/2--by then, of course, your oldest will be a teenager, so you'll get a new smell (socks and armpits). So, really, your house will stink for about 24 years!


Oh, goody.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not So Green Green Day

I'm not a super granola muncher, but I try to take care of my stewardship of Mother Earth. When I camp I always try to "leave no trace," I am careful to refrain from littering, I recycle, we walk a lot, I turn off lights and caulk around windows and doors, I hang my laundry in the summer, and I water in the evening.

Today, in honor of Earth Day, my city had an Environmental Fair. There were scores of booths set up in a big park--each reminding us about our new recycling program, teaching us how to plant trees properly, handing out free tomato seedlings, instructing us to stay on the trail, and entering us into a raffle for riding our bikes to the park. It was kid-friendly, and all, but there was a major problem with the event: it was not environmentally-friendly.

To be fair, there were a few booths that were quite green--handing out xeric plants, making crafts out of completely recycled materials, demonstrating how to spin wool, etc--but most were not. Seven of us went and seven of us came home with plastic buckets FULL of junk. Each booth had a flyer, a magnet, a pencil, or a toy. The children were given "passports" to fill with stamps and stickers. If they answered a trivia question correctly, they could walk away with a plastic beach ball or carabiner. I'm sure most of these things were made from recycled products or are intended to be used for a long time. It was hard for me to see past the waste.

The most ironic Earth Day booth was the T-shirt painting arena. The children were given organic cotton T-shirts. The organic word was the only green thing about the activity. The T-shirts were all XL (remember, little kids). The paint cans were all placed in the center of a very large fenced-off area. The children had sticks which they dipped in the cans, dripped all the way back to their T-shirt, then worked their art on the T-shirt. By the end of the day, the grass was completely painted. Just a couple of booths down, they were telling us in every possible way not to put paint in the garbage can, don't pour paints or other toxic substances on the ground, take those toxins to the hazardous waste drop site, and so forth because it leaches into our ground water (read drinking water).

I know everyone can't be perfect like me (guffaw), but if you claim to be something . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Life With A Baby

My baby has been sick with a high fever and whine (he, he) for the last two days. The only antidote for this type of baby illness is breast milk. I have, therefore, been nursing for 36 hours straight. My back hurts, my producers are saggy and empty, my patience is stretched and thin. Last night I slept for about 48 minutes. When I pried my sore and tired body out of bed, I was greeted by a messy house--complete with half-chewed gum drops all over the kitchen floor. My older pods are behaving themselves, which is helpful, but I have a hard time being mommy when I am so tired. Today will be difficult and I won't get much done. It is okay--it really is. I am glad to be able to be here when my baby is sick, knowing that the only thing I am missing is mopping and laundry, rather than the budget meeting or the important client. Still, on days like today, it is good to remember days like this: Love,
The Mothership

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cameras

I have a Nikon Coolpix 5600. It's a four year old point and shoot. It is a fine camera, for a point and shoot. It takes pretty nice pictures, all things considered. Since I cannot now purchase the camera I want, I am determined to make the most of what I have. I have only one major beef with the thing: the delay. After I turn it on, it takes about 20 minutes to, what, boot up? Then, after each picture is snapped, it must gather it's wits before it can again be an effective member of society. When you are trying to capture the fleeting moments of a baby's smile or a goofy toddler face or the public display of affection by a ten year old boy toward his eight year old sister, you can't afford delay.

The other day I wanted to capture my three year old pod mid-swing.

Nope, too late. I'll snap earlier this time.

Crap, too early. Warmer, warmer. . .

Maybe, a little top heavy . . . but,

Ooo, Ooo, I think I have it.
My small viewing screen did not properly display the blur. I did not see it until I got the picture onto the big screen.
Maybe I'll win a camera from Pioneer Woman someday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Growing Pains

Being a mom hurts--physically. I'm not even talking about labor, here. I'm referring to the tiny, whole fist pinches on the back of the arm and the head-butting my nose. My pods love to stand on my bare feet (with their shoes on) and twist the thin skin there. Of course, any adult laying on the ground is asking, even pleading for a knee in the gut as the children come running to play on the jungle gym laying there. Daily, I am struck by a wayward ball or pummeled by tantrum-throwing fists. There are the tiny toys that are left on the ground meant for impaling feet and there are cabinet doors left open for the Mothership to bruise her shins and forehead. When the baby has a foreign object in her mouth, who has to face the gauntlet of razor sharp teeth to remove it? Me. Elbows in the breasts, tiny fingernails on the neck, curious fingers in the nose and the careful way they peel my eyelids open to check to see if I am really asleep are all painful reminders that I have a lot of children.

The little dears.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Change

I've been thinking . . . April 12, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yury Gagarin became the first person in space. On that historic day, he said, "I see Earth. It's so beautiful!"



This incredible photo of Earthrise, taken by Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968, has literally changed the way man sees Earth. I never think of Earth without picturing brilliant blue oceans, swirling white clouds, whole continents with no lines marking borders or territory; the perfect sphere floating and fragile in a universe whose limits know no end.


I was born in 1977, many years after those first images of Earth were distributed by Time magazine. What did people imagine, when they thought of Earth as a whole, before Yury's first glimpses?


When I saw Toy Story in the theater in 1995, I sat with my mouth open and my eyes wide through the entire show. The animation was so new and complex--I remember wondering which parts were actual footage and which were the animated parts. There was no way it could possibly be all animated! I tried to explain this to my children recently and they didn't get it. They see Pixar as a different kind of animation, but, to me, it was astounding and new.


The first time I used e-mail was in 1994. The dial-up modem was - s - l - o - w - and unreliable. My then-boyfriend was at school at the Air Force Academy and was under strict rules about calling home. I would listen to the unfamiliar sound of: number tones-beep-beep-dah-ring-static-beep rhythm and hope there would be a new message written in green letters on the black screen. Jump forward 15 years. We just talked with my parents, 550 miles away, in real time, on the web cam. My children have never heard the dial-up tones, they have never known life without the Internet.

Sometime in the 1980's, my Great-grandmother, who was born in 1910, was helping my mom put away groceries. She held one of the plastic grocery bags in her old, worn hands and looked at it. She fingered it gently then said, "What my mother would have done to have something like this and we just throw them away." What would a woman at the turn of the century have done with plastic? Protected their feet from the cold wet that seeped into their boots; protected bread and cheese and gravy from the ravages of air; cut them up and crocheted them into rugs; disposed of garbage with a knot at the top to prevent the foul odors from permeating their homes; and a million other uses that we just take for granted.


I agree with Yury, this is a beautiful Earth. What a blessing that I have never wondered what it looks like. I am looking forward to my life. When I am an old lady looking back, what will I say, "I remember when . . ." about?

What will you?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thoughts on Sleep-overs

We do not "do" sleep-overs. Plenty of mischief happens during the day, under supervised care, and I am quite certain that the level of mischief will only escalate as parents fall asleep and young people let their guard down due to exhaustion. That is just one reason we've laid down the law on over-nights.


I slept at friends' houses plenty of times when I was growing up. One of the biggest problems we faced was the "next-day grumpies." Okay, I would never call it that, but Andy Bernard might.

Because we had stayed up so late the night before (and usually consumed a large amount of Sprite, BBQ potato chips, Starburst Fruit Chews and other healthy snacks), we were incredibly grumpy the next day. Can't stand "next-day grumpies."

Also, there are some homes where I do not want my children spending the night. I do not approve of the values the parents espouse. How do I tell one child "yes" and another "no" or have one friend know my child could stay the night at another friend's house, but not hers. huh?

And, obviously, the sexual predator business is far to scary in this world. That is a big, big reason for the precautions (not just adult predators, either).

There are a few in my peer group who think I am crazy. Am I way off base, here? My kids think I am. Of course, I disagree with a lot of their opinions: Fruit Loops is not health food even though it has the word fruit in it's title; Wetting one's fingertips under the faucet is not the same as washing with soap and water; No, knowing that green means go and red means stop are not the only driving rules and No, you can't drive; Yes, I'm sure you would take careful, daily care of the puppy and I would never have to even fill his water bowl.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Joy

I have watched this a couple of times now and cried both times. Such joy and the carefree happiness is needed right now. Plus, this is my long held dream: I want to be walking in a busy place (like a terminal) and be a part of this sort of thing. I LOVE PEOPLE. I love people.

Remember Enchanted in the park? Cried. Remember 13 Going on 30 at the party and Thriller comes on? Cried. I'm telling you. I'm a total boob for this song and dance business. Why don't we sing more? Why don't we dance more? Why are we shy or embarrassed to be too happy in a public place?

So, did you cry?

PS Get the kids

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Civics, Home School Style

We went to a TEA party today.
The face of rebellion.

It was pouring down rain, but we had a great time.

"Hey, that's mine!"

Hers said, "Too young to work" and "Get your fingers out of my piggy bank."

When I explained why their signs said what they did, the pods were happy to stand in the rain, They even chanted "No more taxes" over and over again.

It felt good to be involved, to make my voice heard--never forgetting that I can make my voice heard because of this great nation. We must protect it or we will lose it.
What do you think of this national protest?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Egg Hunt

Waiting . . .

Go!Easter baskets have major design flaws. They are tipsy, too small, or too wide. Eggs slide out far too easily. Bags aren't good for egg hunts, either, because the openings are difficult to find and, if using a grocery bag, they tend to grow holes. I came up with a new plan this year. I cut holes in the lids of ice cream buckets. No egg was lost.
The park was cleared in 2.5 minutes. Literally. 2,100 plastic eggs, gone.

The loot.


That was a fun 15 minutes.

First Steps

For those of you who wanted to see, here is my 9 month old baby taking some of her first steps. She showed us her new feat on April 8th, but I could not figure out how to get the file to transfer.

Voila! Could she be any cuter.

PS Sorry it is sideways. I always forget that I can't turn videos . . .

PPS I can't help but marvel at the fact that, even though I've watched this exact thing happen with four other children, it is still so exciting to watch a child grow. These are the pay day moments.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Second Chance

Two weeks ago we had family come to town. There were the expected preparations for that event. My dad worked on a wiring problem, while he was here, that had been plaguing my soul. Because of the lack of time, he was forced to leave a few items undone, but which required my immediate attention. We had several beautiful spring days that begged me to be outside moving dirt, raking dead grass and fixing a flooding problem that needed to be fixed as soon as the earth began to thaw. Before I knew it, I had four days until Easter Sunday and I hadn't even started the girls' dresses. I cut and sewed as quickly as I could, while still attempting to manage a household. My son has a keen new interest in nuclear science--a topic I haven't even looked at since high school chemistry fourteen years ago (!!!). I had to do some serious refresher study so I could explain it on a ten year old's level. I have been trying to do couponing for a few months and knew I had some good coupons for Easter stuff. I also expected some great last-minute deals. Because of this, I hadn't done any basket/bunny prep. Saturday night saw me hurriedly stitching in twelve button holes and four blind hems. It saw a trip to Walgreen's for stocking stuffers (or this holiday's equivalent) and got it all for the great deal I'd expected. As my husband sat filling plastic eggs and I was putting those final touches on the dresses, I expressed a nagging thought that had been growing over the past two days: I had completely lost the meaning of Easter.

I hadn't thought about my Savior once this week. I hadn't taken the time to study the scriptures concerning the Atonement. I didn't let each day of His Final Week speak for itself--Palm Sunday, Good Friday, etc. I didn't take the opportunity to set aside a few minutes each day to teach my children, "Today was the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt" or "Today was the day Jesus knelt at the feet of his friends and washed their feet" or "Today was the day that Jesus' body lay in the tomb." I let myself become distracted by the fluff and totally screwed up.

I am so ashamed of myself.

Before I crawled into bed, (after finishing the dresses, buying the fresh asparagus and strawberries, writing and hiding the clues for the Easter Basket Treasure Hunt, and starting the dishwasher and dryer) I knelt by the side of my bed.

I am grateful for the doctrine of repentance. I know that I can ask for forgiveness because of and through my Savior's Atonement. I know, that like any loving parent, my Father in Heaven will let me try again.

Today I am making a change. This week will be different. I will take the time to study His words and His life. I will find moments to testify to my children. I will ask for the Spirit to work in me and then I will let him. This week I will retrench, renew my commitment to Jesus Christ.

All because of the reason for this holiday: my Savior.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Washing Dishes

My house isn't messy because I hate cleaning. While cleaning is certainly not a hobby, I am capable and can be efficient at the household duties. One of my favorite "chores" is doing the dishes. I don't like the loading and unloading of the dishwasher part, but I do like hand washing part. I enjoy the warm, sudsy water and the bright, clean sinks when they are newly emptied. It's a good time to do a little daydreaming, pondering or visiting with whichever child happens to be helping rinse.

We didn't have an automatic dishwasher until I was a teenager. I put the automatic adjective in there because my parents were continually using the "that's what we have you kids for" line. They also bought a riding lawnmower on the way home from helping the last child move out.

Whatever.

When I washed dishes as a child, I disliked the muffin pans. I still do not enjoy washing those. They are just a pain. Now, though, I hate washing the rice pan. We like the sticky rice. It has a wonderful texture. The problem with sticky rice is that it is (obviously) sticky. It is difficult to wash off the table and impossible to sweep. It sticks to hands like a piece of stubborn scotch tape. My biggest compliant is that it leaves a thick crust inside the pan. I scrap and soak then dig the refuse out of the drain. Yuck. (Why am I the only person in the household who cleans out the drain trap? I am also the only person who puts my toothbrush away.)

So, I don't like washing rice pans or muffin tins, but I do like washing colanders. As a child I would save the colander for last, then play with it for a while. I'd vary the water pressure, experiment with the spray nozzle, swoosh the water back and forth as fast as I could to see how long I could keep water in the bowl with holes. I would look at the reaction the water in the filled sink had to my antics with the new arrivals. The suds would mound or dissipate, depending on what I did with the gadget. The droplets were mesmerizing--and I got water everywhere. (It made mopping the floor a breeze!)

I'm not sure why you needed that information, but tonight I was washing the rice pan and growling at it when I looked over and saw the colander awaiting it's turn. YES!

Sorry if I freaked you out a bit. I don't get out much and it's 2:14 am.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why Do We Buy Them Toys?

This was last night's main event. Peg Leg Pod.
Who knew 66 cents would pay for dinner and a show?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Request For Advice

Do any of you have experience with Girl Scouts? I'm thinking about signing up my eight year old daughter, but don't know anything about it.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Emily

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Make It Last: Lesson II

My parents recently celebrated their first 37 years together. They have a wonderful marriage that also happens to be the greatest gift they have given to their children. I think there are a few things we can all learn from them. These are the lessons I have learned by watching Dad and Mom play the roles of Husband and Wife.

I had planned on posting a different lesson first, but I am caving to peer pressure. You want to talk about it, so:

Lesson Number Two: Be an interesting person.

My parents are not dull people. I think the fact that they aren't boring is one of the great factors of their successful marriage. Who would want to spend time (see Lesson Number One) with someone who has no motor running behind their lovely eyes? The Mattoons are constantly finding new things to do and learn and become. In addition to constant reading and keeping up with current events, my parents have undertaken a heck of a lot in their half century.

  • Mom always loved flowers, so she checked out piles of books and videos from the library and studied. After coming up with a plan, she threw herself into the work of creating a wonderful Garden of Eden. She has hosted many weddings and other gatherings in her sanctuary.
  • Dad came home one day with an enormous book. When asked about it, he replied, "I want to learn everything that is currently known about gravity." I don't think he got far into that book.
  • When her third was still a baby, Mom decided it was time to develop her artistic talent. She saw an ad and went to an oil painting class. Her art hangs in the homes of many people who could never afford such beautiful pieces because she never takes payment. Once, she traded homemade bread every Sunday for a year for one of her paintings.
  • Dad made the goal to scale all of the peaks in Washington state that were over 10,000 feet high.
  • Mother has taught religious courses for more than a dozen years.
  • When he was a small boy, Dad was given an electric train set for Christmas. One day he pulled everything out and he began setting the tracks on a large piece of plywood. Intrigued, the children gathered around. Over the next several weeks and months, we experimented with plaster and cardboard and glue until we had covered the wood with a landscape.
  • My mom has an older sister who was severely handicapped. When the sister needed to go into a care facility, the people there treated her like a princess and tenderly cared for her. When my youngest brother was about five, my parents began taking respite and foster children into their home. Almost all were severely mentally disabled.
  • Dad wanted to better understand the inner-workings of the acoustic guitar, so he set out to build a few--he started with a kit then advanced to taking lumber and working it with fine touches. Painstakingly, he cut and glued and, finally, strung the guitars.
  • My dad loves bread pudding. My mother does not love cooking. One day, she decided to make him bread pudding and worked a long time to make this special treat. She carefully followed the recipe and pulled a perfect looking dessert out of the oven. Dad took a hardy bite then promptly spit it out. She had used salt instead of sugar.
  • Another time, Dad called the family into the family room. The room housed a large white board upon which he had a number of words written in the Spanish language. We gave up quickly, but Dad pressed on. He does not speak Spanish well.
  • Mother gets up at 4:30 AM to go to the gym to exercise. She wants to be healthy, but takes Yoga specifically so she can "get down on the floor and play with my grandchildren."
  • Dad joined a city Barbershop choir. After a time, he organized his own prize-winning quartet.

I could go on and on. They have never let dust collect and they have respected each other's interests and passions. They have developed their individuality and personal talents. Then, and this is key, they share these things with each other. They are independent in their interests, but they are not independent of one another. Together, they encourage and support the chosen activities.

TODAY: Think of a hobby or curiosity you have. Squeeze time into your day to develop it. Don't be afraid to fail. Give your spouse time to do the same. Then, when you go on that date or as you lay in bed at night, you will be interesting.

Independence and intelligence is so sexy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Save the Skin Campaign

I have dry skin issues while I'm gestating and lactating. They are exaggerated in the winter; since I woke up to two inches of snow this morning, I am still calling it winter. Immersed in this double whammy, my thighs and the back of my arms have developed those ugly, itchy red bumps. A few years ago, my dear mother introduced me to a little store in the mall that sold body oils. I do not know what kind of oil it was, but you could add other essential oils to the big bottle to make it smell like lavender, plumeria, vanilla, pretty much any scent under the sun. I would smear that stuff all over my thirsty skin or pour a little in my bath and my skin would become supple, soft and moisturized. The scent was subtle and gentle. I LOVED it.

Unfortunately, the store went out of business and, though I stocked up, my stockpile has been depleted. I have been back to using lotion and, if desperate, Bag Balm. (All of you lactating mothers are thinking, Yeah, as if I need another similarity to the milk cow. Ug.)

Tonight, I had a moment of genius. I have those every so often. I have a few facial skin care products that use olive oil for a base.

What? Why are you groaning? Okay. Just stop for a minute and let me tell my story. Geez.

Interrupters.

So, I had this moment of genius. My skin needed some serious attention, so I poured olive oil in my bath. Now, our food budget is a touch on the tight side, so I pretty much buy the cheapest stuff out there. It is not that super pure kind that barely tastes like the fruit from which it is derived. My olive oil is heavy, dark greenish-yellow, can't-exchange-it-with-any-other-oil kind of product. I tip the jug and glug out a few tablespoons of the delicious stuff and slip my thin, tanned, hard body into the water. (Just kidding about the shape of my body, but I don't want you picturing my real body slipping into that water.) The bath felt wonderful. I massaged the oil into my starving cells (is that what is happening??) and could actually feel them healing. I soaked for a good long time, ignoring the three year old pod crying at the door, "I wanna take a baf with you! I'm so filfy!!!" I air-dried so I wouldn't rub off any of the olive oil, then dressed in soft cotton.

Inviting my husband to bed, sure he would love my newly softened skin, he scrunched his nose a bit and said, most lovingly, "Ewww. Why does it smell like chicken soup in here?"

Crap.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Make It Last: A Series

These are my parents. They have given me many gifts over the years (piano lessons, rides to seminary at 6 o'clock in the morning, help after the delivery of a baby, bedside lamps, the ability to work hard, fire-building know-how, siblings, electricity, time at the top of a mountain), but the best, most valuable gift they have given is their marriage. I do not have to worry if one of them is lonely; I worry if one is sick, but I know they are being nursed to health by the other; there is no uncomfortable-divorced-parents-issues at family gatherings and so on.

April 1st was their Thirty-seventh anniversary. Thirty-seven years of life, a life which has included bliss and trial.

This is the first of a series I will be writing about the lessons I have learned from watching my parents' marriage. Maybe there will be some new things for us to help grow our own marriages, maybe there will be reminders of things we've forgotten or could do better.

Lesson Number One: Have frequent alone time.

Every day when my dad came home from work, he and Mom would sit together in the living room. He worked long hours driving truck and earned his university degrees through correspondence. Mom had a house full of small children and, in addition, always had disabled respite and foster children. They were both working as hard as they could, filling every moment of their days. As they sat there visiting, we were continually butting in. Our urgent remarks like, "I can't find my toothbrush" or "(I know you have seen me do this 152 times, but) Watch me stand on my head" or "How many glasses of water are in the ocean?" were met by, "Can't I just have five minutes alone with my wife??" Ohhh, that used to make me mad. Well, she's my mom! Can't I just have five minutes with my mom?? I'd think, in my self-righteous and sassy nine year old brain. But he was right. They needed that few precious minutes together to decompress, discuss, share stresses or highlights of the day.

Also, Dad and Mom had their own cover band for many years. They played at granges, weddings, even a Scout Jamboree. Dad played guitar, Mom played bass, and they both sang. They spent many nights together, without the children. On breaks and on the drive to and from gigs, they held hands, talked about things the children shouldn't hear, and learned about one another. When they dissolved the band, they still made it a point to go on regular dates and we knew it was important to them.

What was the result of this concerted effort to be alone together? After the children were gone (my Down Syndrome brothers still live with them), they didn't skip a beat. They still knew each other, they were interested in one another, they had things to talk about because the conversation never took a hiatus.

TODAY: Make an appointment to get away from your children for at least an hour. (If you can wing it, make plans for a weekend!) Try not to talk about the children or money or your To Do list. Talk about your current interests, global issues, thoughts you've had, sparked by a book or article you've read. Tell your mate who you are today, which is likely somewhat different from who you were when you married him eleven years and five children ago. Hold hands, sit a little too close, remember what it feels like to be with your sweetheart without a child squishing their body between you.

A friend used to say that a babysitter is much cheaper than divorce.

The best gift you can give to your children is to love your spouse. Period.

Thank you, Dad and Mom. Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Unfair

I fear I have been a little unfair to this tiny baby. You see, I've written of how the fifth baby has thrown me for a loop, how she is high maintenance, how she is needy. I'm afraid that I have spoken and written this way too often. In my efforts to be honest, I think I was unfair. She isn't only those things. She is also funny and sweet and beautiful and happy. She also sings and makes baby-sized jokes (blowing raspberries after unlatching from her food source . . . then laughing in my milk-splattered face). She is a delight to the older siblings and her chubby, soft skin is irresistible.
Just wanted to clear that up.
Besides, what would I do without her neck? I must nuzzle at least once a day.