Monday, May 31, 2010

lily & the nail clippers

yesterday i woke up to, "hey mom!"
"i've been swimming!"
" huh? sszzzfff .... di ooo say swi-ing?"
"yeah! in the atlantic ocean!!"
"alanic?.... swimming? what?"

that's when i opened my eyes & turned to look at the person beside my bed & realize that my arm is wet. and there are goggled eyeballs 2 inches from my face.

"i'm lily the water-loving leopard & i've been taking a dip in the ocean this morning!"

and then the dripping leopard skips back into the bathroom for another dip.

a few minutes later my alarm goes off & i get up & shuffle through the puddles on my bedroom carpet & head into the bathroom where i find brooke in a pink leopard print bathing suit that's all twisted into a wad in the back thanks to criss-cross straps that can't be figured out alone. there's a red eyed wolf guarding the door, the large top to a toybox stretched across the middle of the bathroom, blocking my way, a soaked towel on the floor & damp jammies in a puddle. the leopard also has a snorkle in her mouth & is grinning at me while splashing about in about 4 inches of ocean.

i reach for the nail clippers to trim up a raggedy nail that i'd been chewing while reading in bed the previous night. i'm about to commence with the snippage when...

she tells me her foot warts are looking better & then hangs her head. and says quietly, "there's something i've been not telling you for a few days." uh-oh. "i was sitting on the toilet the other day, and i was bored, so i was clipping my toe nails with your nail clippers. and then i set the clippers onto my leg so i could reach the toilet paper. and then i forgot they were on my leg and so i wiggled." uh-oh again. i had to ask. "did they fall in?" head nod. "was there poop in there?" head nod again. "did you reach in & get them?" i ask with a sickening feeling about the clippers in my hand. she makes a gross face & says, "NO! they had to be flushed! i wasn't sticking my hand in there!"

so the nail clippers in my hand are safe, but the other pair is gone, but at least my kid didn't stick her hand in a poo toilet. and then i took a shower with a leopard because it wouldn't vacate the tub & i had to get ready for church. and that's how yesterday began.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the van potty

we still carry a potty in our van. actually, we took the backseat out of the van so that we could fit some big stuff in there at christmas time & it's never gone back in, so brooke likes to think of that space as her own personal room, including toileting facilities. there have been many, many times when it has saved us, like when we're at a park where the bathrooms are locked or non-existent. or when we go to the grocery store in july, get everything loaded into the van to go home & then suddenly she has a desperate need to pee that didn't arrive until just that second. or when we're in a traffic jam on the highway & need to go & can't even get off an exit. this potty has saved us from many, many moments of peepee panic. (i wish i could use it since i'm often just as guilty as brooke about needing to go when there are no facilities available. i haven't tried it yet, but one day i may be desperate enough. i'll let you know if it happens & how it turns out.)

one time, i was loading some stuff into the van at toys-r-us & while i was doing so, brooke crept around to her potty & went. i think she secretly holds it sometimes just because she likes using it more than public bathrooms. maybe it feels scandalous or exotic to pee in the car. i don't know.
anyway, she calls out, "mom, i used my potty!"
me, "okay, fine. let me come around to the back so i can dump it in the back of the parking lot. you didn't throw the tissue into the pee again did you?"
brooke, "weeeelllll.... noo.... i didn't put the tissue in."
me, "so what's the problem? what did you do?"
brooke, "uummm... i.... pooped."

i closed the door & mentally had a mini tantrum. we were just inside a store where there was a flushing toilet. and plenty of toilet paper. but did she use it? NO! she'd rather take a dump in the hot van in august & then put the soiled tissues into the little van trash can.

ok, too late to be mad. at least she didn't crap herself. now, what to do with it. normally with a pee pot i'd find a grassy spot at the edge of the parking lot or at least the far back of a parking lot where people generally don't go & pour it there. this was a different situation. i couldn't very well toss the log into the toys-r-us parking lot and i didn't relish the idea of carrying it up to the building to where there were trash cans & disposing of it in view of other customers. so i can't get rid of it here. what other options do i have? we're not heading home yet where i could dispose of it properly & since it's august, i don't want to cart it around with us where it will get really ripe sitting in the car during our next few errands. maybe i could smear mud over my license plate & put on dark glasses and a hat and sling it out the window while driving to our next stop. but with my luck, i'd throw it into the open window of a car next to us & then be hunted by an angry, poop smeared ex-con. or it would just slide down the outside of my van & i wouldn't know & i'd go through the drive-through at taco bell & the person working would be like, "ma'am, is that.... poop stuck to your door?" or i'd chicken out at the last second & sort of hesitate in mid-throw causing it to mostly stay inside the van, sliding down the inside of the driver's door, splattering me in the process. or it would splash while sitting on the passenger seat before i found the perfect moment & then i'd have to clean the seat. or before i had the chance to pitch it, someone in a taller vehicle than mine would drive up alongside of me & look over & spot the hot pink poop filled pot & then look at me in horror & realize that they know me & actually they're one of my customers & then i lose my job. or i'd be holding the pot in my hand, waiting for the perfect moment to roll down & toss & i'd get rear ended & it would all go up in my face & i'd have some explaining to do when an officer showed up on the scene. "yes officer, that is feces on my forehead.... yes, it is pee soaking my shirt. no, i haven't been drinking. i was just planning to throw a bucket of shit out the window of my moving vehicle when there was a gap in traffic. no, it's not my own shit. no, i didn't collect it from someone else... it was in the back of my van... no, i already told you, i haven't been drinking!"

eventually i found what seemed like an acceptable solution to me & i pulled into the back of the target parking lot to one of those places where there's a bit of grass & a tree between parking spots and i crouched low, walking stealthily & poured out the mess into the wood chip area at the base of the tree. i know, it's gross & horrible, but i thought at least there's a possibility that whoever finds it will think that it must have been a dog who left that deposit. i mean, who would have ever guessed the truth?


back when brooke was 2, there was a photo contest in a shop at the mall. i thought she was the cutest lil 2 yr old on earth & decided she could probably win in spite of the mullet that had grown in once her hair stopped doing the weird rooster thing. there was an application that i downloaded & filled out before going in so i wouldn't have to do it at the photo store.

there was one blank that i just couldn't seem to fill in. it said, "using only one word, describe your child." i was completely stumped. i ran through my list of nice, kiddish adjectives - cute, cheerful, affectionate,  adorable, friendly, energetic, bouncy, loud, gentle, perky, ticklish, giggly, loving, shy, flexible, wacky, impish, wonderful.... some of those could apply, but none of them summed brooke up. none seemed just right. so then i felt compelled to come up with words that did describe brooke - focused, smart, mad, (one of her favorite phrases around then was, "i'm so ANGRY!!!") boyish, frustrating, quirky, surprising, challenging, motivated, vegetarian, articulate. somehow none of those words seemed like what the people at the kids photo shop were looking for. none seemed like the word they'd like to include in their ad campaign alongside a picture of a really cute kid. i finally settled on INTENSE because it was the only honest word i could come up with that seemed to describe my little mulleted 2 yr old in a nutshell.

somehow it bothered me that i couldn't classify her honestly with a cutesy kind of word. but then i realized that she is her own person (this wasn't the first time i'd realized it, but it returned with clarity, once again)  and intensity is something that will serve her well throughout her life. she's extremely focused & driven when it's one of her topics of interest and when it comes to having a career or getting through college or pursuing a hobby, she will be way further ahead than me because i'm so distractable. i'm more interested in finding someone to talk to or a book to read or a computer game to play or how i need to fix that chip in my toenail polish than i am in actually accomplishing something. i am not a go-getter or self starter in most of the areas of my life, so this thing with brooke is foreign to me. i admire it and sometimes wish that i had a piece of it, but i don't understand or relate to it.

we went to the picture place & got the pics done & the whole time, brooke stared at the camera with a completely blank look on her face. she wouldn't smile. wouldn't smirk. wouldn't even move her eyes around. the photographer was young & inexperienced & seemed to be at a loss for what to do with my zombie child. she kept snapping pics, but they all looked the same. sometimes her body was in a slightly different position because the photographer would move her this way or cross her arms that way, but still, no expression. when it was over, i was sweaty & frustrated & i refused to even buy one. we had a coupon for a free sitting & 8x10 that we took home & refused to put up. it's sitting at my in-laws house, displayed on a shelf where every time i look at it, i feel like i'm looking at a robot version of my girl. someone invaded her body & temporarily switched her brain off so that there was no one looking out through her eyes. needless to say, my borg child did not win the contest.

i kept my frustration to myself over that pesky one word description business for probably a couple years. at some point, i asked chris if he could describe brooke in one word. he thought about it for a minute & then said, "intense." holy crap! it's not just me and even a couple years later, she was still holding strong to her course of intensity. i guess it's all that focus keeping her consistent. a few months ago i was talking to my dad about how brooke is so unique & interesting (this was after he and my mom had just taken her on vacation for a week without me) and he was agreeing with me. i asked him if could sum her up with one word and.... you guessed it, he said, "intense."

i love my intense, driven, tightly wound, hilarious girl with all my heart and soul. or as she would put it, as big as saturn and all the way down to my butt.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

pregnancy dreams

just to start off here, i want to state for the record that i am NOT pregnant.
now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

tonight while i was hanging out with brooke during her bath, she was washing her mammary area & said, "someday when i'm a woman, if i ever find starving kittens with no mother to feed them, i will let them nurse from me. and even if it hurts me, better hurting on my body than starving kittens."

that made me think of a dream i had when i was pregnant. i dreamed that i had to nurse about 8 kittens and they had pointy teeth & they knew how to use them! i remember grimacing in pain & crying because of how they kept biting me, but still i kept it up. i couldn't very well thump them on the heads or yank them from my breasts because they might dig those teeth in harder like mini pit bulls. and the next night i dreamed that i was nursing snakes! i was in a pit of vipers and i was nursing them and their fangs! talk about a draining situation to find yourself in as a new mom!

there was another night when i dreamed that i was about to give birth and i was walking down a country road alone, trying to find just the right spot to keel over & heave ho when i came upon a large animal vet clinic. i thought it looked pretty good, certainly better than a murky ditch, so i stumble-ran in there & the first thing the vet did was put me up on a big cattle scale. apparently it mattered to him how much i weighed, and i must have looked at though i weighed as much as a cow. then he helped me into what i thought would be a room with a table so i could give birth hospital style, but instead, it was more like a stall, with a half door, top open, and all over the ground was a bunch of dirty hay. i paced around like a proper animal for a few minutes and eventually i squatted over the hay & PUSHED, and PUSHED and PUSHED some more. i finally managed to get it out and breathing deeply and painfully, i reached down to scoop up my new baby in my hands. i pulled it close & saw that it was a small bag. i realized that since i was in an animal environment, i would have to do it animal style, so i gnawed through that nasty, slimy bag to free my baby and allow it it's first breath. that's when i realized that all the bag contained was a pile of eyeballs. unattached, wet, staring eyeballs. i was pretty ticked off that i'd done all that work and had placenta breath, all for some disembodied peepers. i put my pants back on, put the eyeballs in my pocket and walked out of the vet's office & kept on going down the road, never looking back.

i would love to hear if anyone else had bizarre dreams while they were pregnant too. or am i the only freak around?

Friday, May 21, 2010

art therapy

do you ever have one of those super duper, totally unfabulous days? you know, the kind where you look down at some point & realize you're sitting out front in a really old shirt, worn inside out & partially unbuttoned, wearing thick, gooey whitening strips on your teeth that look like a football mouth guard and cause a lisp & with cheap hair dye on your roots that makes your hair stand up straight for about 2 inches all the way around your head? and there's a kitten inside your shirt, squirming downward toward your boob because it's got the urge to burrow and you can't get it back out without exposing yourself and you're waving to the garbage man...   and maybe later in the day after you've had a shower & put on clean clothes, but no makeup & gone back outside to try to coerce your kid into doing some school work, and you find yourself meeting the new neighbor from across the street. you're feeling a bit self conscious about the lack of makeup, but try not to be insecure, so you carry on a conversation for several minutes & thinking you've made a nice connection and maybe a new friend, maybe she invites your kid over to see her dog. maybe you run inside to put on a bra because it's one thing to be in your own driveway without a bra, but quite another to be strutting about the neighborhood with the girls flopping free. and it's when you walk past a mirror that you realize there are multiple sweat drops showing up like neon right under your boobs because you were too lazy to put your bra on after your shower because you didn't think you were going to see anyone and you didn't realize how freakin hot it was outside and therefor how sweaty you were going to get in that region. and so maybe you spasmodically splashed some water around the rest of your shirt in an attempt to.... well.... uh...camouflage your.... situation. except then it was just weird and you thought about changing shirts, but that would be weird too to change shirts just to walk across the street, so off you go in hopes that your new neighbor might possibly be blind.

no, you never had a day like that? oh, ummm..... me either.

if brooke had a day like that, her crisis might be that her brain had gone dry, her ideas all shrivelled up. she might think her life was over due to that loss and she might be crying. i might go with something that's worked well at points in the past and that might be to suggest a lil art therapy for the both of us.

and it might go something like this. please note the brain with nothing in it but those boring squiggly lines.

and here we have the spider and cobwebs in the brain. not even so much as those pesky squiggles.

and maybe she might then feel like she needed to write big & bold on the kitchen floor. it might be a giant potato shaped head with... unique features and a very sad mouth.

so maybe we might decide to sit back to back & draw some pictures that might possibly evoke an emotion in each other that would be better than sad or mortified. and if we did, brooke's might look like this.

and maybe puppy 1 eye didn't exactly cheer me up right off the bat, but maybe it could have evoked an emotion eventually. but maybe i drew one for her that's excessively stupid and lame, but colorful. it might have had a redneck rabbit and a lollipop tree and a fusa in a tree and the ugliest monkey you ever saw.
 and maybe then brooke would have added her dog to the sky so that it was even more charlie and the chocolate factory on shrooms.

and then there might have been a fish...

and maybe by the end, you're both giggling and wishing you had a lollipop tree in your yard. and maybe then you get a picture of your sweet kid's red rimmed eyes smiling back at you while lying on your therapy.

and maybe life is good again and the art therapy worked.

but if you've never had one of those days, please disregard.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

welfare cat

i'm a cat grandmother. it seems pretty crazy that we never wanted more than 1 cat & we currently have 6. my life is now filled with happy little bursts of furry mania and i'm embracing them happily. my kid is filled with the wonder and excitement of seeing and handling these helpless babies and watching as their different personalities emerge already.

that video was taken yesterday when the babies were 2 days old & constantly demanding mom's attention. i felt a little bit sorry for her because it's not like she had a choice in this situation. she's still a little girl herself and she's saddled with all this responsibility. she's like a welfare mom who took a walk on the hussy side and got herself knocked up when she's not even old enough to care for herself. then she goes looking for a free hand out since she's homeless and hungry. we met her needs, gladly, but here she is now, strapped with a demanding batch of brats and she doesn't get to go out anymore. i wonder if she misses her nights wandering around in the woods, visiting with the raccoons and other night roamers. does she wish that she was free to frolic whenever she pleased, up and down the street or to a neighbor's house to see if there are any snacks to be found? is she mad about her chapped nipples?

or is she happy about these babies? does she feel unconditional love for their sweet, furry faces? does she lick them because she loves them or because it's instinctive? does she spend her days and nights in a stuffy little box because she can't bear to be away from those darling bundles of fluff? does she feel warm and content when she's purring while they climb on and suckle her? is she glad for the companionship of her kids so that she doesn't have to spend her nights sleeping on a cold railing on the deck alone or looking for another meaningless encounter with a random cat? does this sweet, crying face stir her maternal heart strings?

i'm pretty sure twinkle was happy to have gotten her kids all tucked in for a nap in a pile last evening so that she could come out and have a bit of a romp around the driveway with brooke. my girl was imitating everything the kitty did because she loves her so. she kept telling twink during the birthing process that if she was a cat, she'd get right into that box and help her clean and care for those babies so she didn't have to do all the work herself.

this is going to be a memorable spring.

Monday, May 17, 2010

push it out, kitty!

a month ago a little kitty showed up on our back deck, looking kinda scraggly, but very sweet. we fell in love with her pretty quickly & i wrote my first story about her then.
here she is moments before the first contraction.
today i went outside around 2 to take her a bowl of food. i usually don't feed her at that time of day or out front, but for some reason, today i did. of course brooke followed me out there & we were just enjoying some fresh air & sweet kitty snuggles when i looked at twink & noticed that her back legs kept stretching out and her belly was tightening rhythmically. i wondered if i was seeing a contraction, but she was so calm & just stayed beside me so i thought maybe she was having a braxton hicks, kitty style; i didn't think much of it. about 5 minutes later it happened again & this time when it was done, she got up & walked toward the birthing box that we'd made for her a few weeks ago. as she was walking away, i saw something dark & slimey sticking out of her girly parts & brooke & i got ridiculously excited. i took the top off the birth box  & she jumped right in as if she knew exactly what it was for. previously she'd never wanted to go near it, but today was the big day and she seemed to be glad to use it.

i ran in the house to squeal at chris & brooke scrambled into the playhouse beside the box so that she'd have front row seats for the birthing show. it was pretty intense, especially with the first one because we didn't know what to expect & we didn't know if twinkle would know what to do since she's not much more than a baby herself.

i took excessive quantities of pictures of the whole process & i will now proceed to share some of them with all of you. please be aware that some of them are rather icky, so have your hankies & smelling salts ready if you've got a weak stomach. 

here's the first one, right after she licked all the gooeyness off of its body. she still hadn't gobbled up the umbilical cord yet, but that event was just moments away.

poor momma was already tired and panting after the first one. i'd never seen a cat pant before.

this little guy is named hector. brooke tried out blacky, stripes, squeaker and a few others before settling on hector. sounds manly, doesn't it?
twinkle doesn't mind us handling her babies at all. she only starts to look nervous if the one we're holding starts squeaking loudly.
i love how the babies instinctively know that momma twink is a safe, comfortable being. i love how they nuzzle right into her body & she purrs, even in the midst of labor.
i liked how they each arrived in their own individual wrappers. no after birth to mess with or wait for. everything blobbed out all at once & mom ate it & then it was ready for a boob.

the gray one is nim. she's brooke's favorite.

there was one kitten born each hour for 4 hours & poor little twinkle looked so exhausted & weak that we held some food & water in there for her and she gratefully partook of our kindness.

they're so juicy when they're fresh! i wonder how long until momma cat gnaws off the remants of their umbilical cords.
momma twink was worn out!
and with 4 mouths to feed and 16 paws clamoring around your body constantly, you'd be wiped out too.

this face is too sweet for words. and to think that i get to hold it & pet it every day for the next 6 weeks is just awesome!
this one's lucky. s/he was named that because that round of birthing only lasted 45 min rather than an hour.
their feet and claws are so cute!
this is tumble, the third wee one.
and here's nim, brooke's favorite baby. and this is probably the reason that she likes nim the best...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

do you ever feel cool?

do you ever feel like you're cool? maybe you feel like you're having a cute day or smart day or a good hair day? maybe you feel witty or amusing. well, i have the solution for that. just spend some time w/ my child & you will be right back down to earth in no time at all. she never gives compliments, but i've been trying to teach her to notice & express appreciation for people & the efforts they make lately. i'll encourage her to tell her friend that her hair cut looks nice or the picture someone drew is pretty. sometimes i even use myself to try to encourage her to pay some positive attention to someone besides herself. recently i was getting ready for a night out; i'd spent a bunch of time working on my hair & makeup & i was wearing an outfit that i felt good about. she was watching me & playing with my makeup brushes ("this is real animal hair? really? can i have it?!") & i said, "do i look pretty tonight?" a horrified look crossed her face & she started backing slowly out of the bathroom. she told me once she was out of sight that she doesn't like to say nice things about anyone because it makes her uncomfortable. i walked downstairs & chris said, "ooo, doesn't mommy look so pretty?!" (thank goodness he's so nice or i might feel really bad about myself some days) she scrunched her face up & said, "i guess the color of her shirt is nice."

today brooke was having a rough morning getting out of the house & then got soaked between the car & church & was shivering & crying when we got inside. i offered to try to warm her up, but she said she's too big to sit on my lap in the little church seats. so we went to the back corner where there's a big ole grandma chair that's usually used by nursing moms & i held her & snuggled & rubbed her arms & legs until it felt like she had thawed. i gave her a massage to help her relax so that she could go to children's church & have fun in a little bit. i leaned down & whispered a line from the song we were all singing, "i'm falling in love with you." i meant it to be sweet, but she just wadded up her face and told me that i had stinky morning breath. i guess that's what a cheese bagle and dr pepper will do to a girl.

after we had lunch at taco bell, we were taking some food to chris at work. before getting out of the car, i bared my teeth & asked brooke if my teeth were okay. she said, "well, they're pretty yellow..." i told her that i was only wanting to know if i had food in them & she said, "then you should have specified what you really wanted to know!" sigh... 

this is just one more day in a string of days where i'm regularly cut down to size. there is no chance of me ever getting full of myself or feeling conceited because as soon as i did, i'm sure she'd tell me that my underwear is big enough to use as a pillow case or something equally friendly & i would be back down in the dirt where apparently i belong.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

mommy mushiness

chris has been on vacation from work this week & he has been positively delightful to have around. we didn't have any big plans for the week, just regular life, but him not going to work, meant him being rested & less stressed for 7 days.

today i had to work & it was my biggest job, so i came home tired & with my back hurting, but chris made a nice, healthy, early dinner for us. he also cleaned up the kitchen & then took brooke out to the mall so that i could rest peacefully and they could get some exercise, walking off dinner as well as visiting some pitiful puppies at the pet store. he bought her stickers she fell in love with & they came home smiling & relaxed. every single night this week, chris has read books to our girl and a couple nights i sat in on the reading session and was surprised & delighted to discover that the reason they're taking so long getting through this chapter book is because every time he reads a word or concept to her that he's not sure she understands, he stops & explains it to her. he makes sure she's absorbing all of it rather than just getting through the pages.

every night this week chris has tucked brooke into her bed, sang her some old hymns & kissed her goodnight. last night it took them nearly 2 hrs from start to finish for her to get to bed because she decided to "surprise mommy & make her happy" by drawing a bath for herself without being told & then chris went in to hang out with her & he took his guitar in with him. i muted the tv from downstairs so that i could hear him twanging out the blues while she, at first timidly & then gradually more boldly, belted out her own impromptu lyrics while he strummed and encouraged. i think they may have watched an episode of sponge bob before the final prayers and songs and even though, as a rule, i'm opposed to cartoons when it's already past bedtime, i didn't even bat a disapproving eyelash when brooke quietly mentioned that this morning.

it makes this mom's heart tremendously happy, not just to have my beloved family around me, but to feel them adoring each other. to see them enjoying each other's company as if nothing else in the world matters except the moment they're in, right then. my night was topped off when brooke requested that i please kiss her 30 times before she could go to bed and after that yumminess was complete, then she planted kisses on my nose, forehead, both cheeks & then one right on the mouth.

my world is beautiful.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mother's day mole

today was mother's day & to celebrate, after church, we had lunch at home & then chris took brooke out for a couple hours so that i could have a nap. there's not much of anything i'd rather do w/ some free time than take a nap in a quiet house. my husband knows me well.

after my nap, we all went out for dinner & then to a park so she could play while chris & I walked (we're trying to make some positive, healthy changes, so we go walking rather than go to the couch after a big dinner).

when we got home, brooke ran to the back of the house to find the outside kitty (who's very pregnant now) to give her one last nibble before nightfall & on the way to the back, she found a dead mole. another one. of course she squealed with delight & scooped it straight up to show me. it was smaller than the last one & seemed somehow fresher. there weren't any teeth marks or anything on it, so once again i don't know why it was above ground or what killed it, but brookie was thrilled to bits to find it.

i decided to embrace her love of the dead & i actually touched it & got the camera & filmed her playing with it.
once i was able to move past the creepy aspect of dead critters, i've found that it's actually rather cool to be able to get a close look at them & see their silky whiskers & itty bitty teeth and nostrils. and that mole was very, very soft. amazing that God would bother to make something so small & below ground with a delicious fur coat. brooke asked if we could dissect it & then skin it so that she could keep the fur to rub. i said no, i'm not ready for that yet.

she put it on her scooter, which she called the mole bus & drove it around the driveway. i'm not sure where the were headed, but there was in incident at one point where the mole flew off the bus due to unsafe NTSB standards & it was run over by the mole bus & then it had a flat stipe through its body & brooke didn't want to play with it anymore. it was laid to rest in a dandelion bush & some scavenger will probably retrieve it later tonight. i'm sure brooke will check in the morning to see if it's still there.

all in all, it was a good mother's day, if a nontraditional one. i like my life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

unconditional love

when chris & i were engaged, we were living in charlotte. we had decided that as soon as we got married, we'd move to a city in south carolina where there's a christian school that he was hoping to attend. we packed our stuff for the weekend & away we went, feeling all happy & excited to be going on a trip to find our first place together. i'd never lived with anyone & had only briefly had an apt of my own, so this was a pretty big deal!

we got to said city in sc & after driving around the dinky, unattractive campus for a few minutes, he turned to me and said, "um... i don't think i want to go to school here. i think i should go back & finish up in tennessee."

as i've mentioned before, i'm a yankee snob & somehow, the idea of living in tennessee was absolutely horrible to me. like living in north or south carolina was ok, but somehow, when you crossed the line into tennessee, you became an instant hillbilly. i wanted to say. "NO! i'm not moving to that stupid, redneck, hillbilly place!" but i didn't. i loved my man enough to be willing to go with him to tennessee & look for a home. the thought of my first married home being in that god-forsaken state was really hard for me to swallow - it totally didn't meet any of my expectations for my future life. but i went. i can't say i was happy about it or even pretended to be, but i was willing & hopefully i didn't whine too much. i was trusting that God would see my attempted submission & steer my almost-hubby to a more desirable location. like after i said, "yes, i'll go", i'd hear a voice from the sky saying "this is a test, this is only a test." i'd swipe my hand across my brow & say, "phew! that was a close one!" God would snicker quietly at me & then we'd be off to some other more "acceptable" state to start our future together.

that's not how it went. we drove all around the rinky dink lil town that chris knew all too well from years spent delivering pizzas & we called every number we could find for the rentals with signs out front. we were able to get into a few & eventually, we found this one little duplex, the landlord showed it to us & the next thing i knew, we were signing papers. we gave him a check & he gave us the keys & it was then that i said, "oh crap!!" in my head. cuz how was God going to undo this? money had changed hands, the deal was done.

we went to a little barbecue joint that chris really liked, to celebrate his imminent return to clevegas. i ordered the beef (clearly this was pre-vegetarianism) and he had the pork. i'd never eaten a barbecue sandwich before & i didn't especially like it, but still trying to be the nice almost-wifey, i tried not to complain too much.

we drove across the county line to find a motel for the night because chris was going to take me out for a night on the town. show me a yeehaw good time in the big city about half an hour away. we had taken our stuff into the stinky hotel room when i started to feel sick. the rumbles came a-burbling up my guts & i was in PAIN! i spent large portions of the next 12 hours hugging that disgusting motel toilet or sitting on it, holding the trash can.

i felt guilty for ruining the nice night that chris had tried to plan for us. i told him to go alone. he might have, i wouldn't know because i was either puking or comatose for the most part the whole time we were there. he brought me some pepto from the gas station next door & i remember him telling me my tongue was black. i felt embarrassed for being in a motel room w/ the man i loved & i couldn't stop crapping my guts out & no doubt making some seriously disgusting noises.

finally the next morning it seemed like the food poisoning had subsided & even though i was feeling drained (for very good reason) i didn't want to stay at the motel 6 and the scene of my shame anymore, so i insisted that i was fine & we could go on back home to charlotte. we had to pass close by our new little house on our way back home, so we decided to stop & look around again, this time without the landlord looking over our shoulders. we wouldn't be moving in for another month still, but wanted to be able to make mental plans.

we were turning onto our new little street when my stomach grumbled & then i farted. or rather, i thought i farted. as it turned out, it was more of a shart, but i didn't realize it right away. it wasn't until i stood up from chris' nice little car that i realized what had happened. i was wearing cute, short little white shorts & was mortified to find that i had crapped myself right on his car seat! there was no disguising it, no hiding it. if death had been an option at that point, i'm pretty sure i would have chosen it. chris was quick to realize my distress & he whipped my suitcase out of the trunk & carried it straight into the bathroom for me. i was able to change, but alas, the water was turned off in the house, so there wasn't much clean-up to be done. i found a plastic bag into which i stuffed all the dirty items & i shamefully walked back out to face chris. i hung my head in my most mortifying moment to date. he just hugged me & told me it was ok & he loved me & then he took me to a gas station for as much of bath as i could manage in the cigarette burned sink. i threw the bag of nastiness away. i never wanted to see or remember that incident again for the rest of my life and i could buy new shorts.

the car was cleaned & the return trip was made. i was probably a lot quieter than usual on the 6 hr drive because i was afraid that he would be so grossed out by me that he'd dump me. or mock me. he'd move back to tennessee without my nasty self. and it was then that i realized that i didn't want him to go without me. while i didn't relish the thought of living in tn, i would much rather live in tn with chris than live without him in charlotte. that was a defining moment for me. it was a good & positive moment of humility & thankfulness. humbled because of my sickness & thankful that the man i loved would overlook my ickiness. he was the one i'd been looking for all my life & i was lucky enough to find him when i was only 21.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

does he really have my back?

i think it's great when churches can attract people of varying nationalities, wallet size & lifestyle. i think everyone should feel welcome at church, and yet... i've had some interesting experiences with those other people at church in the past year.

around christmas time brooke & i were getting onto the escalator & an odd woman jumped in between us. brooke squeezed past her on the single file ride to get in front of me rather behind the strange woman. after she did, the woman leaned against my back from the step directly behind me & started singing opera loudly into my ear. later in the service as the worship was winding down, the music went low & there was mostly just humming or quiet, that same woman started belting out the star spangled banner. she was allowed to go on for a minute before our pastor stepped over to her & next thing i knew, her solo ended. i wanted to know what he said to her because i have no idea how a situation like that should be handled.

there's a man who attends regularly who gives off an air of homelessness. he sits in the same section where we generally park ourselves & a few months ago i was pretty sure on one occassion that he was talking to himself, and not just talking, he was swearing to himself too. it was vaguely amusing to me in a twisted sort of way. i was glad there weren't kids sitting near him because it would be a shame for them to learn the bad words at church.

well, today we were sitting in the same row as that dude. as the music wound down, i heard him start mumbling. it was louder than a whisper, but quieter than talking & definitely in the growly sort of speech category. the first thing i clearly heard him say was "your f%cking mother's a bitch." he kept it up for a few minutes, dropping an arsenal of F bombs. there was something very disturbing about sitting next to him, albeit with seven empty seats between us (yes, i counted) and listening to him cussing up a storm right there in church. i'm pretty irreverent in a lot of ways because i don't think Jesus was the reverent type, but this was over the line, even for me. i was getting a distinct vibe of a spiritual nature, and not the kind you hope to encounter when you're sitting in church (or anywhere else for that matter). i've had some dealings with such things in my life & i felt that same feeling that i've felt in those situations before, which just made me all the more tense.

a couple who was sitting right in front of him got up & moved. i've never seen them before, but i hope they weren't scared off. people started glancing around & i hate to admit it, but i put my shoes back on & moved my purse close to my hand so that if i needed to leave quickly, i'd be ready. i couldn't concentrate on anything the pastor was saying, even though, based on the pictures, it seemed like it was probably a good one. chris got up and went to speak to someone in leadership about this guy & i felt my heart thumping when he got up because then i was alone w/ the disturbed man. he kept zipping & unzipping some little bag & repeatedly changing cd's in his player that i could distinctly hear coming through the headphones in his ears.

all through the service, i kept thinking & praying that God had something going on that would end well. i cautiously asked Him if there was anything i was supposed to be doing (i was kinda hoping He'd tell me to move, but i was willing to listen if He had another suggestion) but i got nothing. i couldn't even close my eyes to pray because i felt like i needed to keep them open & be ready for the slightest movement in my peripheral vision so i could snatch up my purse & haul ass if i needed to. i know that makes me a coward and probably an un-compassionate one at that, but that's how i felt.

i feel like i failed somehow. i'm not even sure what i failed at. maybe just by feeling fearful, as if God couldn't or wouldn't protect me if protection was needed. i was left wondering if i really believe that God's got my back.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

lesson learned

we spent the weekend here w/ the in-laws. we spent our time doing fun stuff like swimming in their hotel pool & they took brooke for a horse & carriage ride around downtown.

tonight after dinner we decided to go for a walk around a park to try to burn off a few calories from the massive italian dinner we consumed in honor of their birthdays. there's a nice little duck pond where numerous ducks, geese & pigeons reside. brooke decided that she needed to chase a lone duck who was sitting on the bank minding his own business. she figured as soon as she got close he'd hop into the water with a lovely splash, but instead he started running & flapping along the edge of the pond. i thought he'd fly or jump if he was actually felt threatened, so i didn't try to stop her. she chased him for probably 20 feet & then stopped & turned back to return to the adults. it was then that we saw the hoodlums coming up behind her. two fat white ducks were charging toward brooke as fast as their shrimpy little legs could run, snapping their beaks & quacking at her like they meant business. she ran toward me, screaming at the top of her lungs and putting eveything she had into the run, but those ducks were still snapping at her heels. i had to move toward them & make loud noises to get them to stop attacking my terrified child. we went around a bend & walked a path parallel to the duck area & the whole time, the white ducks followed along quacking as if to say, "you better be glad these weeds are here or i'd be pecking your kneecaps bloody!"

brooke had a stitch in her side & was shaking with fright & adrenaline for a while afterwards. i thought it was all over until we walked back along the other side of the pond about half an hour later & as soon as they saw us, those same two ducks came running toward us at full speed again. brooke shrieked & shimmied up onto my back and then held her feet up so that the viscous ducks couldn't nip off her toes. my father-in-law stepped between us & them & one of them tried to bite his legs & shoes. it was pretty funny to see a duck taking on a large man as if they were equals. brooke kept yelling, "i learned my lesson! i'll never chase any of you again!"

it was a very funny ending to a very nice weekend.