I must be about to travel

I have a giant zit in the middle of my face. I get one about every two years, if that. (I know, I'm lucky and should stop complaining.) But of course I get it just a few days before I have to see people I've not seen in a couple of years.

My kids are all sick, snot, coughing, waking in the middle of the night. It would be too easy to fly with a healthy baby after all. And it would be too easy top leave my happy healthy children with their grandma, not, while I'm gone. I need to leave them pathetic and needy instead, and bite back the desire to write detailed notes that would be entirely silly to write to a veteran mother of 8 about child care. (Please make sure they go to bed on time. You have to listen for the Girl at night, she wakes up crying and needs help to get to the bathroom. Make sure they take a nap. The Boy needs help finding his dry PJ's if he wets. You need to wash his bedding because if it sits it will get stinky. Like she doesn't already know these kinds of things, we sleep over every weekend.)

I think I'm getting my period. For the first time since I was pregnant with the Baby. Because nothing says fun like needing to change a tampon in the middle of an airport or train station bathroom while keeping a toddler from running off, crawling on the grimy floor, or licking anything. And while keeping an eye on the bags.

I find myself eying the open suitcases and the calender and wishing I could skip ahead to Friday, after the plane has landed and all of the work is done. Or alternately, just stay in bed and skip this trip altogether.

I am wrapping 11 toys. Well, and 11 piece tea set for the girl and a sections of a 100 piece puzzle for the boy so that they can open one each day that I am gone and count down until I return. When the last present is opened they'll know I am on my way home. And I'm writing 11 letters for the Boy to read to the Girl and himself. It's like I've forgotten that they have telephones in Canada and I'll be talking to them every single day.

I'm procrastinating some more by writing this blog post.


17 months

You have left behind all things baby, and embraced toddler hood. Of course, you don't do much toddling anymore. It's all running and trying new daredevil tricks all the time.

You have this little push car that you LOVE to ride. You've figured out how to steer it where you want it to go. You laugh and push it excitedly up and down in front of our front door. You push it up the little hill we have there and then you turn it around and pick up your feet and coast all the way to the bottom. Not satisfied with that form of entertainment for very long, you've started seeking out bigger and better hills. And you get very angry when I stop you from riding down some of them.

So instead you decided to try and stand on the thing, no hands. And you can. You hold onto the steering wheel and get your feet on the seat, and then let go and stand as the little car wiggles underneath you. I'm sure this is in preparation for trying this while the thing is in motion and I am somewhat terrified of that day ever coming.

You also like to stick things in your nose. DON'T! BAD! STOP IT! Sometimes they don't come out so easily. Like the little air soft gun bb's that you uncle and his friends left all over you Beema's house last weekend during his birthday party. You got one stuck up your nose so far that we couldn't get it out, even with an aspirator. It was traumatic. I've never had a child who liked to stick things in their nose before. Other orifices? yes. nose? not so much. You will even stick tiny little bits of wadded up tissue in there and then come and point at your nose while making questioning noises as you stick your finger up after them. You seem to be surprised that the stuff you put up there stays up there. It should just magically disappear when you want it to, but it doesn't.

While we're on slightly less charming behaviors lets talk about the screeching. You are BOSSY! You know exactly what you want when you want it and you will push and shove and yell to get your way. Usually it's my knees that bear the brunt of your fury as you try as hard as you can to shift me from the spot in which I am standing to go and get what you want.

However, you now have these magical things called words. You can say, "ou? ou?" and mommy usually realizes that you want to go out, or get out. It’s a very useful word actually. You can use it when you want me to let you outside or when you are finished eating and want out of your chair. That’s my girl, economy and efficiency. You’ve also mastered a few others.
baba (While patting breast)-boobies or milk
BEba-bellybutton (Pointing at the belly button helps)
What I said about economy and efficiency, one syllable covers so many variations.
But my two favorites are please and hi. You say hi like all of the bigger people around you say it when they are awed by your cuteness, with a heavily aspirated H and full of excitement. The first time you said it I was coming back in from outside and you came running to meet me at the door, ducked your chin forward and yelled, "HHHHHHHHI!" and then I wanted to just kiss you and squeeze for the rest of my life.

Please was the very first word I recognized as deliberate besides mamamamamama. You held the sling up in front of me and, with great concentration you looked deep into my eyes and said, "Pease?" I asked, "Did you just say please?" and you broke into a very big grin and rubbed your tummy gleefully, your approximation of the sign version of please. It was an exciting day.

The other day we were all putting away our laundry and you jumped right in. You grabbed piles of clothes, they were even yours, already you can tell the difference, and carried them to you basket to put away. I'm still amazed that you can follow directions like that. Of course, once you ran out of things to put in your basket you started to pull them out and put them in the laundry basket again because you didn't want the fun to stop.

You are in that crazy making grab at everything and throw it around stage of toddler hood. And you think that all of it is yours. We are big meanies who are constantly spoiling your fun. You scale chairs and stools and tabletops and counters and couches in your never ceasing quest for more stuff that you can trash, and stick in your nose.

And you are affectionate and loving and funny. Your siblings fight over who gets a hug from you first at bedtime. They don't care if I hug them goodnight any longer, as long as you do it. You give hugs and kisses to all of us. You give your little baby friends hugs and kisses too, chirruping greetings at them when they walk in the door.

You are the main disruptor of routines around here, especially bedtime. You hang on your brother when he's supposed to be brushing his teeth, begging him to play with you. And he obliges, a little too quickly, and I have to exert a great deal too much mental energy to the job of keeping him on task until he is in bed. But it is fun to hear the shrieks of laughter coming from the bathroom. I Love that my kids love each other, at least as much as they get angry at each other.

Today I was trying to lie down for a while in the afternoon. And if you wan to know why your mother was tired in the middle of the day I will point you to the chorus of siblings who woke up, in staggered succession for one reason or another and needed me at least every hour, ALL NIGHT LONG last night. You weren't sure what to make of this arrangement but you were quite certain that it was not optimal for your personal entertainment. SO you brought me my shoes, and placed them on the bed next to my pillow. And when that didn't work you dug around under the covers until you found my belly and then you gave me raspberries over and over again until I couldn't help but laugh, at which point you threw your self down beside me with an anticipatory cry of delight and lay stock still waiting to be tickled.

You are a lot of personality packed into your little 20 pound body. It's going to be fun introducing you to our family and friends in Canada.

Your mama


Aaah, weekends.

This weekend started this past Friday morning. At least it did for us. That's when we packed up the car with clothes, groceries, and as much extra laundry as we could stuff in and went to Beema's house. The GH is is renovating their bathroom on his days off. He does good work.

So I spent the day with loads of laundry, washing, scrubbing, and hanging. Did I mention that it was above 100 this weekend? Yeah, it was a bit warm out there hanging laundry.

The kids helped their aunties to pull up crab grass in the garden plots out back, and then they watered, which turned into a full scale mud fight. There are fabulous pictures of the girl and her auntie caked in mud from head to toe, she in her little sun dress with the flower pots on the front. (But I can't show them to you yet because my computer isn't recognizing my new external drive and without it I don't have the memory to download any more pictures. Frustrating.) So I did some more laundry.

The house was filled with concrete dust from the bathroom reno. And I made loads and loads of custard. MMmmm custard. I'm getting to be very good at it.

The dust was swept, the table set, the laundry folded and we were just about to light the candles and celebrate Shabbat. And then the dogs started to make such a racket out in the back yard that everyone went out to see what was going on.

Picture a large planter close to the house filled with very tall razor grass. Picture 4 dogs going berserk as they corner one rattlesnake that is longer than my arm in that planter, which is about 6 feet away from the open door of the house. Picture the mothers suppressing heart attacks. Picture the GH severing the snake's head with a shovel. Then, because we are all about education around here, picture him holding it carefully so the kids can examine it before burying it. Then you can picture it as they watch him skin it and pin the skin out on a board to dry and go on the snake wall in my FIL's office. You'll have to picture this all yourself, because I can't get at my pictures yet.

And then the GH marinated it and cooked it and the Girl ate three whole pieces, with relish. (Totally not kosher, apologies to those who care.) And then we topped off the evening with creme brulee when we torched the sugar on top of the custard to carmelize it. Rattlesnake and creme brulee, it doesn't come any classier than that.

Maybe I'll be able to get you pictures by the end of the week.


I'm taking a trip

Some of my long time readers may remember back when I was pregnant, had just moved to San Diego, and was pining away for Canada. I missed our old life. I felt trapped here. I wanted to go home. And, I missed my best friend's wedding because I was waiting for my green card. Well, in a lovely, and ironic twist of fate, I'm going to Canada this month, and I'm not as excited about it as you might imagine. My MIL gave to me all of her Capital One points so I could book a trip last year, and offered to watch my older children while I was away.

I didn't do anything with them. I wasn't ready to leave the Girl alone for more than one night at a time, even with her Beema. I didn't think she was ready. I'm still not sure she's ready some moments, but she's far closer than she was last year. But I may not be ready to leave her.

But this best friend, whose husband I have never met, lives in China. They moved there right after they were married. But she will be in Canada again, for a month, in the town where we both grew up. And so I dug out those travel points and started shopping for seat sales.

At first I contemplated cashing in all the points for train tickets for me and all the kids to go to Vancouver. It just feels so strange/foreign/pointless to go to visit people without my children along. Especially to visit the city of their birth. All of the things I love about Vancouver have to do with all of the things there are to see and do, things I discovered and did with my kids. It feels empty to do them by myself. The problem is that we still needed a way to get the 12 hours across the mountains to small town Alberta where my family still lives, where my best friend will be. My dad offered to pick us up and drive one way...but I can't find anyone able to drive us back to catch our train. And I remember how difficult it will be to have 3 children on a train for two days with only one adult and middle of the night trips to the bathroom. So I give up on that.

Then I tried to squeeze the miles into two plane tickets so the Girl can come too. But I want to visit friends in both provinces, because there are so many people that I love and want to see, so I want to fly from Calgary to Vancouver, which is cheap for one, but over budget for two. And now I am torn, but I choose the extra flight because I don't know how I will get to Canada again, and I want to see them all.

So I am leaving my two oldest children behind for 9 days. The Baby is coming on my lap. I'm going to see my mom, and my dad. I'm going to see my grandparents again and I've wanted to for so long. I will see my friend, whom I have known since kindergarten. I will visit close friends and long term acquaintances. I might see my little brother if he can find time in his busy work schedule to visit with me. He lives in Calgary and he's not even going to be there the week I arrive. He's doing a show in Edmonton. I will see my little sister's gig and watch her perform with her new band. I'll meet her boyfriend, finally. I'll see aunts and uncles.

I won't see my other life long best friend. She flies out of the same airport that I am landing in, 8 hours before I fly in. She is going to Niger for 4 years. We got dates mixed up. She came to see me last year so I don't feel as disappointed as I might have been. I've never met her little girl though and hoped to finally meet her.

I'm excited. I am. I really want to go and see people. But whereas two years ago I would have leaped on to the plane and taken off without a backward glance, now I find myself hoping it's worth the time. Worth the time away from my kids, and the risk, however small, of them never seeing me again, worth the expense and the inconvenience it causes my little and extended family.

Part of me looks at the departure date as it looms and wants to call the whole thing off and sit down and read a story to my kids and take them swimming and tuck them in at night. Part of me feels like I am being torn apart leaving them behind. I'm confident that they will be fine. I wouldn't leave if I wasn't. I'm just not so sure that I will be.

As much as I love the people I'm traveling to see, I love my kids more. I hope I don't miss them too much and can have some fun while I'm gone.


Oh yeah, I have a blog

I've been a little too busy neglecting my children to write recently. But there are these scenes from the past few months that are lodged in my brain and need to be recorded. There is no graceful way to get them out at this point they've been rattling around a little too long and are starting to pile up. So I'm going to just try to plow through and share them as quickly as possible.

The Boy was sick a while back. He got the mild version, which meant he woke up in the middle of the night and projectile vomited all over the bathroom, including the wall behind the toilet a few times, but was feeling much better by the next morning. (Except for the diarrhea that plagued him for a week or so.) He wisely put himself back to bed however that first morning and slept for another few hours. I was watching my friend's 13 month old that day, and she loves the Boy. I hope I never forget the moment when he woke up.

The babies are playing quietly. They babble at each other and pat each other's face and head and clothes. They hug and kiss, and the Baby every so often is determined to prevent her friend from getting something and so holds it over her head as high as possible as she is chased around in a miniature game of keep away. The bedroom door opens and he walks out, blinking a little bit. They both notice at the same time and run to meet him, babbling his name excitedly as they go. A grin splits his still pale and drawn face as they cluster around him, reaching up for him, yelling his name, well, their version of his name. His pleasure at their greeting is written in every line of his face. He sits on a chair and watches as these two little girls reach and giggle and play with him. HE IS SO BIG. He is tall, his back is straight, his limbs are long and lean, his face is chiseled even as his eyes dance with laughter. HE IS SO BIG. HE IS SO MATURE. HE IS A BIG BOY. And I can see the man to come lingering beneath the lines of his face. I've dreaded this moment. I've felt my heart nearly rip out of me at the thought of his getting older. And here it is in front of me, and I am full of pride instead. THIS BEAUTIFUL BOY IS MY SON.


The Boy and the Girl are sitting at the table. He is doing school. She has recently started to get out her workbook, or some item from her prepared closet and sit down opposite him "to do her school work too." It's a good day. The Boy is concentrating, the Girl is too. The Baby wants in on the fun. Only she is too little to be allowed to get at all of the fun stuff on the table. She will throw everything into confusion. She is a whirling dervish of destruction, a one year old cyclone.

She is also very frustrated because I keep dragging her away from the other kids. It's time to play.
I get out the blocks and start setting up towers.
She knocks them all down laughing.
I set them up again.
She knocks them all over again.
A few more times.
And then she starts to pick them back up and put them together again.

At first she just hands me blocks while making commanding noises. [translation- Here slave, put this where I want you to so I can knock it down again. Now this one. Faster, faster, faster. If you can't keep up I shall just have to find myself a new slave.]
But then she starts stacking them herself.
And they don't fall down right away.
So she does it a few more times.
She is confident. She reaches for the exact block she wants, and puts it on the other immediately, with straight, strong, efficient movements. And then, she starts to clap. She places a block. She stands up. She surveys. She applauds. And then she repeats it all over again.

All three of my children are at work mastering a new skill, all at once. It is indeed a good day.

This happened months ago but it still disturbs me.

We are at the pool with a little boy we know, C, the Boy's best friend. His mom and step dad are there too. They've arranged a play date. Usually we play with him when he's staying at his dad and step mom's house during the summer and on weekends, so we don't see much of his mom and step dad.

His step dad suddenly starts jumping up and down in the pool and calling out, "Look at me, look at me. Did you see that? Did I do good?"

I shoot a quizzical glance at his mom and she laughs and says, "We're trying to show him how annoying it is when he does that kind of thing so that he'll quit it."

It happened at least 3 more times that hour, and I didn't say anything. But to this day I continue to be bothered by that image of a grown man mocking a 5 year old for acting his age.

The Boy wakes up very early when his bed is wet. I think it helps him to feel a little bit more in control to take care of it himself. He takes himself into the shower and rinses his pajamas and gets dressed and strips his bed before I even surface. He comes in to the bedroom. "Mommy, I'm already dressed. What can I have for breakfast?"

This is all whispered, because he knows not to wake his sisters.

"I made muffins last night bud, they're on the table. You may have two and an orange or apple."

"Oh thanks mom."

He goes out quietly. And I drift back to sleep.


His stage whispering startles me awake once more.

"What time are you going to get up?"

I can't see the clock in the morning with my sleep bleary nearly blind without my contacts eyes.

"What time does the clock read honey."

"It says 7:26."

"Well, I think I'll get up at 7:45. I'd like to sleep a few extra minutes today. Will you tell me when it's 7:45?"


He seats himself in front of the clock. I hear him whispering to himself and fidgeting with his hands.


"Okay mom."

I am almost asleep again when I hear, "Mom, it's 7:29."

"Boy, the whole point of my staying in bed is so I can sleep. If you keep waking me to tell me the time I won't get any more sleep. Why don't you go and find something to do until it's 7:45?"

I wake up 15 minutes later. He is standing next to me holding out a muffin and still whispering, "It's 7:45 mom. I'm waking you up."

I look at this child of mine and down at the two little girls on either side of me still sleeping snuggled close and I feel myself settle into an awareness of just how blessed I am to be their mother.

And then I ask him to put the muffin down because I hate eating in bed and I need to put my eyes in first so I can see him.


Beatboxing flute inspector gadget remix

This is pretty much the most awesome thing I've seen all month.

This guy is amazing.

You are welcome.

Shout out to Brian is a Rock Star for the link.


7 weird things about me

So Tamra tagged me with this meme a long time ago. So long ago that she's gone and had a baby boy since then. Congratulations are in order because he's adorable, go give her some.

Here are the rules.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. My thumbs are double jointed.

2. I vomit silently. Once when I was pregnant I suddenly needed to vomit while in the kitchen. I held onto the island sink for dear life and retched and retched and my mother in law, who had her back to me, didn't even realize I was puking until she turned around about to ask me a question. This often puts me in the strange situation of having people ask me to do things for them while I'm mid retch. Imagine throwing up and having someone casually ask you if you can make them a sandwich while you are doing it. It's happened to me several times.

3.I used to dress up as a clown and make balloon animals and do magic tricks for little kids when I was a teen. No, I've not yet done this for my children. I don't know if I ever will.

4. Lack of sleep makes me nauseous. Usually if I have to wake up earlier than I'm accustomed too, or in the middle of a sleep cycle I get an upset stomach. Then I have to sit there and clutch my stomach at some point to keep from vomiting. Am I the only person who does this? I've always wondered because it seems weird. I attribute it to hypoglycemia actually, but I don't know if that's accurate.

5. I think theology is really, really important. Because the way we think about God is the way we think about life, the universe, and everything. And the way we think about that affects the way we think about ourselves. And the way we think about ourselves affects the way we think about and relate to others. And the way we think about and relate to others affects the way we live our daily lives and affects our relationship with the planet. And all of this, collectively, makes up the world as we know it. You can tell a lot about a person from what they think, or don't think about who God is.

6. My mother once moved in with my boyfriend after I broke up with him. Which was a fun fact to insert into conversations. The truth is we didn't date that long, and we parted friends. We're still friends actually, his wife's name is Linda. He had just purchased his first house and needed renters at the same time that my mom and little sister needed to move while my parents were in divorce proceedings. My mom had already adopted him as one of her own anyway. He stayed in the basement and they rented the main part. But when I went home from university that summer I stayed with my dad for the first time in years. Because it seemed awkward to stay with my mom. Even though I spent the whole summer hanging out there anyway.

7. I still remember every sweet thing a guy ever did for me. Even the ones I didn't really like or never dated. Like this one guy I was friends with made home made old fashioned ice cream with his grandma for me because I had never had it before. Home made that is. Every one say awwww! Or the guy who wrote me a three page letter in calligraphy with water color paintings accompanying it to ask me out. I said no. But I still remember him and the letter. Is that weird? Or the guy who brought me a rose when he picked me up to go to a party. Which is when I realized he thought it was a date. Oops. The point is, I remember them all. I think that may be kind of weird.

And a bonus 'cause I just remembered it. My photo albums are boring. They are full of pictures of people that I knew for 3 months and never saw again. I didn't take cool pictures of places I've been just random people I've never seen again. My kids get bored looking at them. The GH on the other hand, has albums full of fun and interesting pictures of cool places and bugs and animals. I guess it helps that he traveled a lot more than I did before we were married. It's a good combo for family albums. I make sure the people get in them, and he makes sure that the people are in interesting places when we take their picture. Haha.

Anyway, I mentioned before that I think almost everyone has done this meme already. And one person told me they hadn't. So, consider yourself tagged if you haven't done this yet and want to. And leave me a comment and I'll come and read your 7 weird things too.
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