Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Is it possible to like change yet have difficulty adjusting to change?

Is it also possible to like to go to different places, even live in different places far and near, yet like the comfort of being at home?

How do you balance serving your family and allowing your kids to learn how to take care of themselves?

Why is it that about 60% of the time, when I go to the market, the handwipes container to clean the grocery carts is empty?

Which brings to mind another grocery store question: Is it normal to suspect that the store monitors what you buy just to discontinue selling that very item (we certainly feel this is true of our family, as this happens time and time again.)

Do you ever buy from those bulk containers that look less than sanitary?

Do you stack the dishwasher from the front to the back or vice versa?

Why is it that I only hear loud, strange noises in our neighborhood at night when my husband is at work.

Is it better to live life knowing the answers or asking questions? (This thought came from a book I'm reading called, "Crispin, The Cross of Lead" by Avi.)

This isn't a question, it's an answer (in case you were wondering). My teeth aren't hurting as much, it's getting easier to eat. I am adjusting. My daughter says my braces look beautiful.

Now how can I argue with that?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bonding With My Son (It's Not What You Think)

Last Thursday, I officially joined the ranks (young and old) of brave souls who willingly allow a trained professional to glue metal brackets on your teeth that are guaranteed to inflict pain, usually when you least expect it. We even pay lots of money to let these people do this to us. And we curse them again and again, as we bite down on something as innocent as a toasted English muffin and wince in pain. The knowledge that you can't remove these darn things is somewhat akin to how The Man in The Iron Mask must have felt. At least that's my opinion. I'm at the end of Day 4 and still, it hurts. Advil has been my friend. I've even lost a pound because it just seemed easier not to eat, although today is better. At the table, my family shows sympathy whenever I wince, which is embarrassing to me but sweet of them. I have learned to eat nearly everything cut up in small bites, including sandwiches.

Last week, I told my mother (by phone) that I was getting braces. She was silent. Then she said, " I didn't think you could get braces when you are so old." Good ol' Mom.

When I walked into the orthodontist's office, all the workers (they are called "the girls", believe it or not) were standing there and they turned and stared at me. I stared back until I finally said, "Stop looking at me like that!" Todd told me later that they were all surprised that I kept my appointment, they figured I wouldn't show up. I guess I showed them. Apparently, I have a reputation in this office, as the orthodontist has been after me for a year to get braces. I've always given my excuses for not wanting them. He and my husband chat when Todd takes Chad in for his monthly adjustments. This was all Todd's idea, completely. I would not have dreamed of doing this, due to the expense and the inconvenience, not to mention the pain. I hate, hate, hate the "chair" - in ANY dental office. And now I am committed to "monthly" adjustments for 6-12 months - these people belong in a medieval torture chamber!!!

There ... now I've gotten my rant out of the way.

I really hate having my mouth propped open but that's what they have to do. I laid there for an hour, getting pumiced and glued. Wire inserted. Lovely shade of pink rubber bands wrapped around each brace. Todd came in and stood by the chair. Tears started to flow down my cheeks and into my ears (the chair was tilted into a near headstand position). As he looked down at me, I waited for Todd to say something comforting ... "You look like Wallace and Gromit*, you know, the way they smile?" Not what I expected. More tears. He held my hand and Chad came in, stood on the other side of me and held my other hand. That helped. The tech (or whatever her name or title is) finally removed the darn plastic mouth-prop thing and I felt my lips go over the braces for the first time. What did I feel? Panic! Oh, my gosh! This is me for many months to come! At least it's only the top row of teeth. Sigh.

Fortunately, the pain didn't begin right away. It hurt but I got through it. It's better now but there are times I still feel bummed. Everyone keeps saying how glad I'll be when it's done. I look forward to that time.

About the bonding with my son: Chad has been my support and my coach through this whole thing. I asked him a ton of questions before and after and he's been a doll. Very comforting. I love this kid. Now we have more in common than acne and the gift of gab.

*"Wallace and Gromit" is a British clay-mation series of short, silly movies - and not a complement to be compared to.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How I Spent My Birthday (For Once, It Wasn't On Mother's Day)

On May 8, 1963, a daughter was born to a family that already had 3 daughters. By then, Dad had given up on ever having a son, though he never, ever complained about it. It was close enough to Mother's Day that Mom always said their daughter was the best Mother's Day gift she could ever receive. That daughter was me, of course. Forever cursed to do the Birthday-Mother's Day dance. How do you celebrate both holidays properly, especially when they land on the very same day? Together? Not fair. Apart? Too frivolous. Add the mother-in-law in there and you've got more problems. I now live too far to even see my own Mom on Mother's Day. Sigh. This year, I had seriously felt like skipping them both altogether. Who cares, really? But my sweet husband had other ideas.

He secretly planned a short holiday for our family at one of our favorite places to visit. We were already scheduled to see our droll dermatologist in Portland and stay overnight, since it was so close to my birthday. But Todd went and booked two nights in Leavenworth, WA, for the following days! Imagine my surprise when I accidentally found this out by seeing an e-mail confirming our reservation! I felt SO badly for that but I couldn't undo what had been done. And I had to tell him I knew. He was bummed but I tried to cheer him up by telling him he should have seen my face when I found out! Anyway, he forgave me, I worked like mad to do a ton of laundry and we set off on a foggy, way-too-rainy Wednesday.

After our appointment, we went to the Oregon Zoo to see the baby elephant that was born 8 months ago. He's grown, all right! The zoo was basically empty as it had been raining and everyone else was at school (the joys of homeschooling!) A quick dinner at Togo's and back to our usual Portland hotel for the night. The kids usually have no trouble sleeping here as it's kind of like our home away from home but I guess they were excited about Leavenworth. Todd and Carmen slept - the rest of us struggled.

Up for our hotel breakfast and then on to Leavenworth. This town is set in what they call "The Enchantments", a valley surrounded by awesome mountains usually covered in snow. The town redid itself in a Bavarian theme and the hotel we stay at is one of the best there. It's definitely an infrequent treat. It has a huge breakfast room with amazing views of the mountains and serves an excellent breakfast, which is one of my kids' favorite things about it. I happen to love their oatmeal (I'm not hard to please). I got to watch the sun rise and set over the hills from our room and the moon was full or nearly so and one night, Todd and I went out to the large deck to look at the moon together. The moon gazing down on us over "The Enchantments" was very romantic. But the door back in was locked. Finding our way back into the hotel was fun - the place is big. It's so nice that the kids are old enough to stay in the room by themselves for a bit. Todd and I also went down and listened to the nightly piano music together. Good to spend alone time with my husband. When we first went into our hotel room, I saw that they had put out a bottle of sparkling cider with a card that said "Happy Birthday" with two wine glasses. On my birthday, all five of us toasted to me. My non-soda drinking kids didn't like the bubbles but that's just fine. I hope they always stay non-soda drinking! Todd and the kids also had cards for me to open. We ate well for every meal, I didn't have to do dishes, it was a great time all around. On my birthday, we ate at a restaurant called "Cafe Mozart". It was so cool and our meals were excellent. The background music was familiar to us (we like Mozart) and that night there was a harpist playing. She took to our family immediately and my kids ended up sitting with her while she played. I got a photo (for once) but only after I saw another lady take a picture and it dawned on me that I should do the same. I'm clueless about photo ops. We walked around the little shops, the kids swam and played racquetball, we golfed at the hotel's putting green. I had a wonderful time and a terrific birthday. Thanks, Todd!

After all this extravagance, I thought today would be rather quiet. My husband came home from work this morning and about an hour later, I finally got up and ready for the day. Walked into the kitchen and there was a dozen pink roses on the table with cards and donuts. Todd was cooking eggs and bacon. What a guy! He really made me feel special this week. I am so thankful for this husband of mine. He went to bed (he's working tonight) and my kids did the dishes. I read. After lunch, I took a nap in my big chair and when I woke up, I read some more. Without guilt. It felt terrific. In between, I finished unpacking our suitcases and did laundry. But it was a great Mother's Day. Oh, and my mother-in-law? She's been in Turkey since last Tuesday. I wonder what kind of day she had?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What I've Learned Recently

With my 46th (gasp!) birthday approaching at the end of this week, I'm taking stock of what I've learned recently.

I've learned that it is, indeed, possible to put a thong on wrong - and wear it a few hours before realizing the mistake.

I've learned that getting older sucks. One day you are young and can do anything. The next day ....

I've learned that one must not react immediately to anything a child confides in you. One must think carefully about how to respond. Never be shocked or dismayed (at least openly) to what you hear.

I've learned that without God, I am nothing and can do even less. To reach down deep and find the strength to crawl out of whatever hole you've dug for yourself cannot be done alone. I need God.

So, what have YOU learned lately?