Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday, Monday

It must be Monday. Though my son generally sleeps pretty well at night, he decided to get up twice last night for no particular reason. He didn't really eat, he just wanted to sit around and fuss. As a result, I didn't get a whole lot of rest last night.

Tom woke me up as he was leaving for work this morning and I realized that it was just about that time for me to get up too. My alarm was going to go off in less than a minute. I didn't want to get up and let it start. Snooze. Again. Finally, I gave up the fight.

The benefit to getting up early is that I can get in the shower before the kids get up. I can spend five whole minutes without listening to anyone needing anything. No one is bickering yet. No one is whining yet. It's a beautiful thing. Usually, Ally is up well before she was this morning, so I took full advantage of it.

After I got dressed, I decided against waking them up. It's not often that all four kids are still asleep that late. I came downstairs, poured myself a big cup of coffee and sat down to watch something on the tv that didn't involved singing stuffed animals. For that ten minutes, it was quiet, and I was alone. It was pretty nice.

I made their lunches, made them breakfast and got out their clothes before I woke anyone up. It's not often that I have the chance to be so prepared. Usually mornings are harried and rushed. Everyone had dressed, eaten, brushed and packed their lunches and they were all in the car with time to spare. It was too good to be true.

The battery in the car was dead, and we weren't going anywhere. I yelled to Aidan and Ash that they had to go fast, run to the bus. Crossing fingers that they would make it in time, I called a friend to come pick up Ally for preschool. It just wasn't meant to be. I can't be that prepared. All those errands I had to run will have to wait. Apparently, a new car battery is now on the list of things I need. But really, did it have to happen today?

Gotta love Monday.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Distressed

Whenever I get a catalog in the mail for Pottery Barn, I have to laugh. I do love their furniture, don't get me wrong. It's fantastic stuff. Pricey, but generally worth it. It's good, solid and sturdy. I am always amused though by the distressed furniture, the finishes that people pay extra for. Really, they could just send the new stuff to my house and we'd distress it for them. We are pretty good at it. There aren't many pieces of furniture in my house that are not distressed. And there are some that would raise the white flag of surrender if they could.

We have had the same kitchen table for years. We bought it right after we bought our first house, which would be about 7 1/2 years ago. It's a modest table, nothing fancy. It was from IKEA, and though it was cheap, it is made of solid wood. Initially, we bought the four matching cross backed chairs to go with it. Over the years, two of the chairs have been broken. The first of them fell victim to Ashley. She got her legs stuck in it, and despite my best efforts to grease her up, I couldn't get her out. I had to get the saw out of the garage, and the chair lost the fight. The other chair broke after being tipped over with Aidan still in it, he went right through the back framing of it. Of the two remaining chairs, only one is fully intact, and it is up in Aidan's room. The other, partially broken chair is in the kitchen for the desk area.

Needless to say, we got new chairs, one of which has already succumbed to the dangers of living in this house. In a cost saving effort, I decided that rather than look for a new table, I would sand, strip and refinish the table. Great in theory, but not so much in practice. I'm not really sure what went wrong, but something did not work as intended. The lacquer I used never fully cured, and the table has a sticky feel to it. It's only gotten worse and worse, to the point where anything and everything now sticks to the table. You can't read a newspaper without losing a few pages. The kids can't do homework there without peeling the papers off the table carefully when they are done.

When people started asking what I wanted for Christmas last year, my answers were amusing to say the least. I wanted two things: a vacuum that actually sucked, and a kitchen table. My, how lists change as we age. I was so happy to have a new vacuum Christmas morning that I actually took it out of the box and used it right away. Really! Santa didn't bring me a table, but I was just fine with that. I had a vacuum that actually picked things up again.

The truth is that the table really is in fine condition. The legs are undamaged, the joints are good. The finish on it is just so gross that it's hardly worth the effort involved in trying to clean it. Messes, like everything anymore, just stick to it. It needs a little TLC, and it needs it from someone who knows what they are doing. Obviously, I didn't.

The table fairy arrived yesterday morning, whisking it away. Off to a wood shop not too far away. To be stripped and sanded and stained again. And, I hope, to be finished right this time around. I hope, I hope, I hope. It will be nice to sit at the table without my elbows adhering to the surface. To be able to get a napkin out from under my plate without negotiating a hostage release. To be able to wipe it clean without the paper towel sticking to it. Who needs Santa when you have a table fairy?

Thanks, Papa. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bubble

It's just about time to drag out my bubble. I happily put it away periodically throughout the year, hoping to be done with it for a while. For however long the weather cooperates anyway. This year has been a strange one as far as the weather has been concerned, and we never really had a true summer. The thermometers haven't even flirted with 100 degrees. Not that I am complaining of course, mild is just fine with me.

Even though it is still very much August according to the calendar, it doesn't seem like it. It feels a bit more like the end of September. The highs are reaching only into the 80's and the nights are cooling off quite a bit. It is because of those nights that you can smell it. That you can feel it. Change is coming.

The trees have already started to turn. Fall is by far my favorite season here, the mountains and the trees and the color are just amazing. It really is beautiful. With every possible opportunity, I find myself driving through the older neighborhoods in town. Those with the narrow, tree lined streets. The canopy of magnificent leaves, all shades of green, yellow, orange, red and purple covers the roads below. I could sit and watch the leaves falling from the trees all day. The mid air dance they do as they leisurely drop to the earth. I love to watch the leaves swirling in the wind created by passing traffic.

It is a time of transition. A time of change. A time of planning. A time that makes you drag that crockpot out of the back of the kitchen cupboard and start dreaming of homemade soup. Pumpkins start to turn shades of orange. Night comes earlier and earlier. Fallen leaves are transformed into decorations. This time of year brings out the fantasy in the kids. Halloween is just around the corner, what will they be this year?

As much as I adore this season, the one we are teetering on earlier than normal, it does not love me back. It does not treat me with kindness. My eyes are red, itchy and watery. The sneezing is relentless. My head hurts. My allergies try to force me inside. The days I forget to take my medicine are miserable. I have, unfortunately, shared my allergies with Aidan and Ashley. For the amount we spend on allergy medication, I should buy stock in it. I joke that if I could only construct a bubble, where I could be sealed off from the pollen and weeds and trees, I would love Fall even more.

The simple truth though is that I love the Fall. I won't let my allergies stop me from loving it. In fact, even though I know I will feel awful, I look forward to it every year with eager anticipation. I spend as much time as I can outside, sacrificing some of my senses for the benefit of the others. And every year I vow to get better pictures. This year, I desperately want to take my rake and my camera to a park in town and let the kids play. Let's hope for cool, breezy afternoons, cooperative children, and a lot of allergy medication.

Being forced inside isn't an option, not for me. Maybe someday I'll get that bubble. But until then, I'll grin and bear it. It's well worth it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling

Sometimes as a mother, you just have a feeling about something. It's hard to explain, since there isn't really any quantifiable way to measure to the accuracy of said feelings. There are just times in the lives of your children where you think something is going to happen. Sometimes this feeling is just about a clumsy kid, prone to injuries. Sometimes it's a feeling that a kid is going to inherit your need for glasses. Sometimes it's a feeling about a friendship between a child and another, one that you just know won't end well.

But sometimes, that feeling is about something more important. About something that can't be easily fixed or solved or healed. Sometimes that feeling is hard to face. Maybe a phase is not just a phase. Maybe it is really a sign of a significant issue. These are the times that I dread as a mother. The times that I just sense that there is something wrong. There is nothing more in the world that I hate more than to be right when it happens.

I hope my feelings are wrong. I hope that it is a phase. I hope that if I am not wrong, that those around me will be supportive and understanding. That they will not offer unsolicited and irrelevant advice. That they will not criticize the choices that may have to be made. That they will realize the challenges we will face. That they will not judge.

I hope I am wrong.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mom Poetry

oh little goldfish
escaping your pouches then
stuck in my couches



my van, my van
my second home
once you had some
shiny chrome

my sad, sad van
you are always covered
in dirt and grime
and with food smothered

i wish, i wish
for clean and shiny
but until then
you're filled with whiny

messy, dirty kids
behind them a trail
of trash and wrappers
without fail

someday, my van
you will be tidy and neat
someday, my van
your job complete


HE'S TOUCHING ME!
SHE'S HITTING ME!
WHY MUST I ALWAYS REFEREE?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Clip

If you've ever stood behind her in line, you know what I mean. The audible sighs, the shifting your weight with the amount of time spent waiting. The peeking around, hoping that there is another option. If you've ever worked in retail, you also will know what I mean. You can see her coming a mile away, and you cross your fingers that she picks another register. Who is she you might ask? The coupon lady.

The shopper that methodically makes a list, checking the ad for specials and trying to rack up as many deals as possible. After perusing the aisles in a strategic manner, she approaches the checkout with the cart piled high, fists clutching her tiny pieces of paper as though they were gold. It takes almost as long to enter the coupons as it does to run the items through the scanner.

I used to hate the coupon lady. And then something happened. I became the coupon lady. Motherhood does some crazy things to a person. I've never been one to spend money in a lavish fashion. I've tried for most of my life to be sensible about it, at least as much as is practical. For years I avoided using coupons, rationalizing that it just wasn't worth the amount of time and effort to save such a small amount of money. And besides, I hated getting stuck behind people who used them whenever I was at the store. I bought stuff on sale, bought certain things in bulk when cheaper, but I avoided coupons like the plague.

I'm not sure when it really started, but I have it down to a science now. I wait until something goes on sale, then use as many coupons as I can. I stack store coupons with manufacturer ones, and there are times that I literally pay just pennies for items. There are still very real limits to the practicality of the coupons though. I don't even attempt to coupon shop when the kids are with me. I try to do one big shopping trip a month and use as many of them as I can. Then I make smaller weekly trips for the perishable stuff, almost always lugging most or all of my children with me. Those trips are designed for speed and efficiency. Get in and get out. No time for coupons. Trust me when I say that no one wants me to coupon shop with my children. Not me, not them, and certainly not the poor people at the grocery store.

After making my list this morning, I started sorting the coupons. Tom looked at me like I was crazy and asked me what I was doing. I put them in order of when I will see the item in the store. There really is a method to it. When you intend to use over 50 coupons at a time, there has to be some sense of organization. I got to the store, alone, and set off. Tom called me twice while I was there, wanting to know if I was done yet. Nope. It takes that long.

I had my cart piled so high that I had to be careful going around corners, and total strangers stopped to ask me how many kids I have. Usually rude comments like that are reserved for the times when I have all the kids with me. But, when I do my monthly trip, people tend to start asking questions. All that food certainly cannot be for just one average sized family, right?

The girl behind the register did not even attempt to mask her displeasure with me. Sorry, but it's your job. Spare me the comments and snide remarks and just scan the stuff. Yes, I do have all the items for that coupon. Yes, I do really remember how much that buy one get one free item cost. And yes, I do need another cart to get all the stuff to the car.

My apologies to those people unfortunate enough to be stuck behind me in line on coupon days. My apologies to the checkers who have to process my huge orders. My apologies to whoever the person is that eventually has to sort through all those little pieces of paper.

It's a lot of work. It's not for the impatient shopper. But it is worth it. I saved $75 today. And I am no longer ashamed to say it. I am the coupon lady.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Would I?

Tom stopped at the video rental store on the way home last night and picked up a movie. Living with kids often means that we are subjected to watching horrible children's movies. Some of them are really bad. If you've ever had occasion to watch Shark Boy and Lava Girl, you will have no other choice but to agree with me. If you've never been subjected to that movie, avoid it however possible. Trust me. It's that bad.

There have been some so bad that we stopped watching them mid-film. I think the last one that happened with was the Golden Compass. I want to say we only got about 15 minutes into it before we gave up trying. The one that Tom brought home last night was better though. I'd even venture to say it is a good movie. It's certainly a thought provoking movie, for sure.

He rented 17 Again. The girls wanted to see it only because Zac Efron is in it. Not that I can really say that I blame them. He is adorable. In the movie, Matthew Perry's character, who is about our age, wishes he could go back to when he was 17. And through the magic of movies, he is transformed back into the 17 year old played by Zac.

The premise of the film is that he is stuck in a life he didn't plan for, hates his job, his wife is divorcing him and he is totally irrelevant to his teenage children. If only he could go back to that pivotal point in his life, the one where he chose to stay with his pregnant girlfriend and abandon his hopes of a basketball scholarship, things, so he thought, would be different. Better.

There are times in all of our lives like that, I suppose. The moments where one decision irreversibly shapes our futures. If I could go back to any one of them, would I? If I could go back to high school, would I? The answer is a resounding no.

Sure, things are different than I ever imagined that they would be. I'm not supposed to be a stay at home mom. I'm not supposed to be living in Colorado. I should be some high powered attorney, successful and important. I'm supposed to be financially secure, living the sweet life. I am supposed to have a beach house by now. If things had gone according to my plan, I'd have one child now, and would have perfected the working mother dream. That was the plan.

Some of the things that shaped the future were things I didn't have control over. But they weren't all like that. I made choices. I am where I am as a result of those choices. Every once in a while, I question things. The "what ifs" start running through my head. Then I look at my children, and I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Would I ever want to be 17 Again? No thanks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Squint

I often say that I pulled the genetic short straw. If there is a gene on either side of the family that would predispose me to anything bad, chances are that I got it. All the genes for a good metabolism, blond hair, and nice skin avoided me. I got the others. The bad teeth, horrible vision, acne, varicose veins....those are the genes I got stuck with. Lucky me.

By far the most annoying of the things that are wrong with me is my vision. I have never in my life been able to see right. I really shouldn't complain, though. At least I don't have an astigmatism like my brother. And I never had to contend with having other vision problems like some in my family. I just wish I could see.

I don't ever remember a time in my life where I could see clearly. Even as a kid, I'd squint and get headaches. Finally in fifth grade, I got glasses. And for the first time ever I saw that there were actually individual leaves on trees. Though I knew that trees were filled with separate leaves, I had never seen a tree the way that most people can. From any measurable distance, they just looked like green blobs.

I suffered for two miserable years with glasses, and I got them at the worst possible time. I had just had a haircut, just had a perm, and just got glasses. It was the trifecta of ugliness. I got picked on like you wouldn't believe. If you look up dork in the dictionary, you'll find my 5th grade school picture. And if there is ever a point at which in a child's adolescence that you shouldn't go to great lengths to change anything drastically, it is about then. Let's just say it was a bad, bad phase. I clearly still have issues about wearing glasses, thanks to that time period.

The year I started junior high, after much begging, my parents gave in and let me get contacts. The perm had long since fallen out and my hair had grown a bit. Still awkward, but not as bad. At least I could see without glasses. And people had one less thing to tease me about.

Back then, there weren't disposable contacts like there are now. I was only supposed to wear them for as little time as possible, because they didn't allow much oxygen through. I, however, had no intention of ever wearing my glasses publicly again and wore my contacts any time human contact was possible. It wasn't the best choice. My eyes suffered. After years of this, blood vessels started infiltrating into portions of my eyes that they weren't supposed to. I had to change contacts. I had to start using the disposables.

Since switching several times to better, newer, thinner and more expensive lenses, the blood vessels have receded. I am still supposed to get my eyes checked every six months, just make sure it doesn't start again. This is why my optometrist was a little shocked when I came in for my checkup earlier this summer. He wanted to know who else I had been to see. Had I been doctor shopping? Nope. I just waited too long. Way too long.

It had been almost two years since I got my eyes checked. I did not realize it had been so long. I don't go back in until I get close to running out of lenses. And this time I waited until I was wearing my last set. Since I wear them far longer than I should, I had squeezed almost twice the recommended time out of them. Luckily, the lenses are better now, and I can get away with it. Though I was scolded for not changing them as often as I should, my eyes were fine. My prescription had not changed, and the blood vessel issue was okay. He gave me a sample set of lenses and sent me on my way with the prescription. The prescription that I was supposed to fill, as my new set of sample lenses were the only ones I owned. I say supposed to.

I didn't fill it. Not yet. As with everything in my life it seems, I just don't get around to doing the things I need to do for myself in a timely manner. (This is why I have a few inches of gray roots showing in my hair too....another lovely gene I was blessed with.) Only this morning, when that sample pair ripped did I order my boxes of contacts. I should know better than to wait. My prescription is so strong that it isn't kept in the inventory at any regular optometrists office. I have to wait about a week. And for that week, I have to wear my glasses. Yuck.

I hope that maybe one of these days, I will be able to do Lasik. It's pricey, but probably worth it in the long run if it works. I spend a lot on exams and lenses. I would just love to wake up in the morning and be able to see the alarm clock. My eyes are so bad now that I can't even see it if I squint with all my might. It's the simple things like that that my husband takes for granted. He got a little luckier in the genetic department. He got a fast metabolism, better than perfect vision and has never had a cavity. Let's just hope that the kids take after their father.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rhythm

It will take a few weeks, but we'll get there. Adjusting to all the things that come with the beginning of the school year takes time. This year, just the mere thought of all the things we have to do in any given week is mind numbing.

Aidan is at school full time, so is Ashley this year. Ally goes three mornings a week. Aidan wants to join the school choir, which meets in the mornings once a week. He's in Cub Scouts, which usually meets on the same day every week. Add in a few after school clubs and church, and he's busy all the time. He has already asked if he can do swimming too, but I am not making any promises.

Ashley is still getting used to her new reality of being a first grader, and being at school all day every day. Add to that church, Daisies and soccer. Whenever their school has the cheer leading class, she'll be doing that too. Ally is just doing preschool and soccer so far. She'd like to take ballet, but the city classes overlap with her preschool time. And quite frankly, we have enough to do already.

If that wasn't bad enough, it seems like even Tom has activities we have to coordinate this Fall. He recently joined a tennis group in town, and they meet to play once a week. Never on the same day or time though...that would make it too easy. He has networking events for work as well as some charity events coming up. He is also now the Cubmaster for Aidan's Pack, and I got roped into helping with the popcorn fundraiser. All that begins in two weeks. For a month, my life will revolve around hundreds of overpriced tins of popcorn.

So, if I seem a bit frazzled in the following weeks, there is a reason. I'm just not used to the schedule yet. We'll get into the rhythm of it eventually.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hey!

One of my absolute least favorite things about the beginning of the school year is the parking lot. Whoever designed the parking lot at the kid's school didn't take into consideration the fact that it would often need to be utilized by twice the number of cars that fit into the allotted spaces. The morning and afternoon are just insane, too many people in too small of a space.

I've been around long enough to know that it won't last, though. The crowds thin and the cars are fewer in number after the first week or so. Carpools start, people use the drop off lanes more and kids start getting sick. Eventually, it's not as crazy. That is until the first day it rains or snows, of course. Then all the parents who were normally content to let their kids walk or ride their bikes, and happy to avoid the parking lot, are forced back into the madness.

The normal aggravation with the parking lot is one thing. But I have noticed every year that the drivers get worse. The inattention increases. The obliviousness multiplies. The danger worsens. I was rear-ended last spring in the parking lot by another parent. She was too busy lighting a cigarette, dialing her cell phone and manually rolling down her window to actually pay attention to the fact that she was headed right towards my back bumper. There is such a thing as ineffective multitasking. Fortunately, she did this after drop off, when the parking lot was for the most part emptied of children. She would have just plowed one over if there had been anyone behind her.

Then today, the first day of school, I got to school early. Like the prepared, veteran parent I am, I knew that if I waited until too close to the end of the day, there was no way I'd get a space. So I got there early, and even backed into a spot so it would be easier to get out. I was parked next to the handicapped space, knowing full well that I'd most likely have an open spot next to me when it came time to leave - there aren't many with placards at school.

Like normal, I left a little later than planned. The parking lot was about halfway cleared out by the time we headed over there. Rounding up four kids just takes a while. I opened the doors so the big kids could climb in, then took the stroller over to the driver's side to put AJ in. Parked next to me was another van, in the handicapped space. The space dedicated to those who need to be closer, filled by someone perfectly capable of going elsewhere - she didn't have a placard. Unless being stupid and inconsiderate is a new handicap that I am unaware of.

I was backed in, she wasn't. Our driver's doors were right next to one another. Her window was down, and I could not possibly have been closer to her if I tried. I went to unbuckle AJ to put him in the car and she threw her van into reverse. And started backing up. Even though I was standing right next to her, in clear view, with a baby. She was pinning my stroller to me since her wheel was cranked so hard to the side. Only after I yelled at her did she notice.

Gee, think you should actually look before you drive? It's not like you are in a parking lot full of kids or anything. Maybe stupidity should be a handicap.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Line

Last night, we both fell asleep on the couch. Worn out and exhausted, we were both too tired to make the trek upstairs before drifting off to dreamland the first time. Tom passed out before I did, though he really did try to stick it out to the end of the baseball game that was on tv. I was snuggling with a little boy, his sweaty little head nuzzled on my shoulder when I gave in to the heaviness of my eyelids. Though I am not exactly sure how long we were sleeping down here, I enjoyed every second of it. I know my days of having a baby sleeping on my chest are numbered.

At some point, we woke up and headed upstairs. I had AJ, and Tom had to turn off all the lights and lock up the house. He closed the windows, but not the blinds, as I found out this morning. When I came down, the back of the house bright with light from the morning sun, I had to giggle. What I saw was another immediate reminder that I live in a house filled with children. It's only early in the morning, when the sun is just over the horizon that you can see what I saw. The line.

Anyone with little kids will know exactly what I am talking about. With the angle of sun streaming through the windows, it's pretty clear. There is most definitely a line. Above the line, the windows are reasonably clean. Not perfect, but pretty good. Below the line is an entirely different story. Fingerprint, smudges and more - readily apparent only this time in the morning. Clear, obvious signs of the heights of my children. Of just how high they can reach.

In reality, this line exists all through the house. The few areas left with the original paint from the builder show it the most. My walls all show the remnants of kid, limited of course by their reach. My family room wall is the worst, and my repeated attempts at cleaning the wall have done little but start removing the texture. I'm not even sure what is on the wall in some spots. There is a point at which the mess stops and the clean wall above magically appears.

I clean my windows. Really, I do. But no one who has ever been in my house just after sunrise would believe it. That is, unless they remember what it was like to have tiny people living with them. And they remember the futility that is cleaning. The constant nature of the fingerprints. The never ending mission to undo the mess.

It's okay, though. The fingerprints don't bother me. I don't mind having reminders of my kids everywhere. I know they won't be there forever. I know that one day, I won't have to worry about grape jelly being smeared on my windows. I won't cringe when someone runs their hands along the wall on the way to the bathroom to wash up after dinner. Someday, the line will fade. And someday the walls and the windows will stay clean. It's not actually a day I am looking forward to. I like the line.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kitty

Grandma Judy has been here for a visit for a little over two weeks. And though I know otherwise to be the truth, I could swear that she is really a cat. In the last 10 days, she has managed to dodge the proverbial bullet four separate times. She really does have nine lives.

I took her with me to play bunco at a friend's house the weekend before last, and our game was rudely interrupted by Mother Nature. Without any warning at all, a thunderstorm rolled through and brought with it rain and hail. It brought something else with it too, and that something is the most dangerous weather phenomenon in the state of Colorado. Lightning. About halfway through the second game of bunco, it hit. And it hit only about ten feet from the house we were at. I have never heard anything so loud, it sounded like a cannon had literally gone off inside the room. And the light was blinding. We were lucky. Really lucky.

A few days later, we went to Elitch Gardens, a local amusement park. Before I could even realize what she had done, Mom walked through a metal detector. Doing this is something that most people never think could be dangerous, but when you have an electromagnetic shunt in your head, you really are supposed to avoid magnetic fields. After some calls to her neurologist, and enough time elapsing without any major incidents, we figured that she was okay. It didn't appear that the field was strong enough to mess with the setting on the shunt. Again, she was lucky.

The following day, we went to the outlet mall. Malls are pretty harmless, right? Not if you have Mom with you! I had taken Ashley into the bathroom with me, and Mom was standing out in the hallway with AJ in the stroller, Ally in the cart and Aidan. I was only gone for a few minutes, but when I came back out I knew something was wrong. She had bent over to get something out of the stroller, and when she got up she smacked her head on a little alcove in the wall. And she hit it right where the shunt goes in. Again, we waited and hoped that it would be okay. She was hurting, for sure, but whether she had done any real damage we weren't sure about. After about 36 hours, the lump went down and she felt better. Once again, she was lucky.

By this point in the visit, we had started to laugh about all the things happening to her. I mean, really? Do people have this much bad luck in such a short period of time? I got up yesterday morning, the last morning of her visit, thinking that I was driving her to the airport. Not exactly. The look on her face in the morning told me that there was something new, something else to worry about. She has a history of blood clots, and there appeared to be one in her arm. It was swelling and red and hot and painful. She called her hematologist, who told her that she had to be seen to rule out a DVT, and she certainly had to do it before she got on an airplane. So, instead of taking her to the airport yesterday, we went back and forth between urgent care and the hospital. The clot is small and in a superficial vein, so they increased her medication. They are treating her for a possible infection from a big bite as well. She is lucky that it wasn't in a different vein. Lucky....seems to be the word of the visit.

She is supposed to be headed home today, after rescheduling her flight for medical reasons. But it's early, only 8am. Her flight isn't until this afternoon. That is hours from now, and she's got 5 more lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Colors

Maybe it's the fumes. Maybe I'm getting philosophical in my old age. Or maybe I've just been painting for so many consecutive days that it's all I can think about. As I was washing out my paintbrush yesterday it occurred to me that my paintbrush says a lot about me.

I have used the same paintbrush ever since we moved here. Before that, I had the exact same paintbrush in my other house. It's not an accident that I have always used the same brush. I found one years ago that I liked. I'm extremely picky about them, being the demanding painter that I am. I use them literally until they are falling apart.

The first version of my paintbrush served many purposes. We bought it shortly after purchasing the condo, and with it we declared our independence. We, for the first time, could mark our own territory. We owned something, and if we wanted to paint the walls every color in the rainbow we could. And we came pretty close. At one point, my brother referred to the condo as a giant Easter egg because of all the colors we had in it. After some time, we toned the color scheme down. We grew up, and our walls did too.

We bought our first house, and the brush came along. It worked hard in that house, since that house was a constant work in progress. By the time we left, I had painted every single square inch of wall there, most of the ceilings and the patio cover. Some more than once. It has also painted an entire bedroom set, the old dresser I had in my room as a kid that Ashley inherited and the rocking chair my mom used when I was born. By then the brush was done. It had painted it's last stroke. And when we decided to move, I finally said goodbye to my first brush.

I find it strangely fitting that I left that brush behind, though a part of me will always wish that I had kept it. For posterity, if not to ever use it again. It represented one phase of my life, and the shiny, clean brush waiting for me in Colorado represented a new one. A new beginning.

Over the years, this brush , my second one, has helped me with a lot. It has helped me cope with moving cross country. It has given me solitude and a sense of purpose. It has helped me take the blank canvas of a tract house and transform it into my home. It has allowed me to let my son express his personality in his room, and it has done that more than once. It has given me the means by which to create a peaceful retreat in my room. It has helped me prepare for the birth of my last baby.

This paintbrush has not just been a tool for positive change and transformation. It has allowed me to make mistakes. Many mistakes. And it has allowed me to fix them. There have been times that I needed that sense of redemption in my life. That sense of completion and finality to a project. The ability to repair damage. To most people, they would see it as a dirty old paintbrush. It's more than that to me. Much more. It has provided a strange source of comfort in my world.

If this paintbrush could tell you stories, it would. Every color on it means something. And I will keep using this paintbrush until it can give no more. Until it is time for a new phase. Only then will I go shopping for that third brush. I won't be looking for long, I already I know which one I will need.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Interruption

We have not had a good internet connection in the house in two days. Two painfully long days. You don't realize how dependent you are on technology until it is gone. I suppose that could be said for a lot of things in life though. Those things that we take for granted until they disappear, then we long for them desperately.

When I began the blog, I intended to get an entry posted every day. And, for the most part, I have. There were a few days when a friend was visiting that I didn't get to one. There was the cop-out post earlier this week on the first of my marathon painting days. And then there was yesterday. Another blank day. It wasn't intentionally left that way, I would have written something if I could.

I am not technologically blessed. I am barely competent. I have always had spirited disagreements with electronic devices, computers in particular. In college I had the brilliant idea of taking 18 unit semesters. To do that, I had to split my 4 unit computer class into two 2 unit classes. I signed up for computer programming. Let's just say the teacher gave me a mercy grade, barely passing. And I was grateful. I'm certain I didn't really deserve to pass. Maybe he took into consideration the amount of effort I put in. It wasn't for lack of trying that I couldn't program anything. I just can't do it.

Fast forward 14 years, to yesterday. I tried everything I could think of to get the internet connection back on, and they all failed. Even the guy in customer service for the high speed internet couldn't help. Everything from his end looked good, it should have been working. Should have.

Turns out that the router was the problem, and that problem was one reserved for Tom. I know when I have done all I can, when I have reached the limits of my computer abilities. The router is outside my capabilities. I know vaguely what it does, but don't ask me for any details. Something about wireless signals being transmitted through the network Tom set up. They magically beam through the air, passing right over my head, literally and figuratively.

I was somewhat relieved when it took Tom a while to fix whatever the problem was this morning. There are few things in life that aggravate me more than being completely unable to remedy a computer problem with a simple solution. The times when all I needed to do was push one button, download some update or restart the computer. The times when my husband just shakes his head at me in disbelief. Really, I am intelligent. But put me in front of a computer and I am pretty close to clueless. It's a good thing he can figure this stuff out. One of us should be able to, and clearly, it's not me.

Here I am, back online. Back to the blog. Until next time, anyway.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Next

This is my most favorite paint brush. I love this paint brush. It wasn't cheap when I bought it, and it has more than served it's purpose. It has paid it's dues. It has been with me for many years, and it has painted many rooms. It has the perfect angle to edge along the ceiling. And it shows remnants of just about every color I have used in this house.

I have already confessed several times to my love of painting. I know it's a strange thing to love, and I'm pretty sure that there has to be some genetic component of it. You see, my grandmother loved it too. I think she might have even loved it more than I do. It seemed like she was always painting something, and there are areas of her house that were probably 20 coats or more thick with paint.

She must have bestowed upon me more than just a love of painting. I like to think that I am pretty good at it too. Part of it is that I am just lazy, but part of it is attributed to skill. I don't use drop cloths. I don't use tape. And I don't make a mess. I can edge along the ceiling and corners almost perfectly by hand. Anyone who knew my Grandma Helen knew that she was the same way.

I love to paint for many reasons. I find peace and solitude in it. I love the almost instant changes that take place. The kids know to stay out of my way when I am painting. They have learned. Tom doesn't even try to help me with it, and the truth is that I really just want him to stay out of my way too. I don't want him to help and I certainly don't want him to watch. Last week I was perched with one leg on the extension ladder, the other teetering rather precariously on an upturned laundry hamper, painting part of the stairwell. Short of building scaffolding, it was the only way I could reach that last spot. Had anyone been watching, I would have been hearing about how unsafe it was, and how I was going to fall. But I didn't. And the wall is finished. I just needed to be left alone.

The kitchen is done. The stairwell is too, though I am already debating whether a new color is in my near future for it. I have paint to touch up in the dining room, then I will tackle the family room. Ceilings that vault to the second story await me there. Does it sound strange to be excited?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gone

Sorry I'm not busy writing today....I've gone to my happy place. The place where change is instant, where sweat is a given and where inspiration is found. I'm painting. I'll be back soon. :)

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