Why I hate the mall

I thought of this post a few weeks ago on my first return to the mall since this event a year and a half ago. No one vomited this time, but were were sucked into the vortex nonetheless. This is a repost from the archives.

It has come to my attention of late that the bras I bought a year ago are no longer doing the job for which they were fashioned. That job being to prevent my breasts from doing what nature intended, hang around my belly button.

When I commented on this fact to Aaron he informed me that he had observed the same. If your husband notices the stretched out sags in your dormant bras you can be sure that it is time to get a new one. I said, "I have been waiting for a good time to spend the $30 on a new one but it hasn't come."

"There will never be a good time," he responded, "just go and get one."

To motivate myself I threw the no longer useful items away. What would I wear instead? Why, an old demi-bra from my lingerie shower before our wedding that is two cup sizes too small and itches. But it does hold them up (Why, you ask, do I still have such an item? Well, the straps adjust to halter, and once or twice it has been useful under a dress for an hour or two, however uncomfortable.)

Sunday, I stayed home from church with all of the kids who were once again coughing and snotty, and occasionally vomiting when they coughed really hard. (They aren't contagious anymore according to their doctor, just still coughing. Whooping cough lingers.) I hoped that when Aaron got home I could walk over to Target/Frederick's and purchase myself a new bra without the cheerful accompaniment of my offspring. (That didn't go so well the last time I tried it.)

The flushed success of his little sister was still ringing in his ears from yesterday, when she returned home with her very first pink bag declaring, "I love Victoria's Secret, and I'm a C cup now. These bras were 2 for $30." He decided I must also go to Victoria's Secret and buy a bra. It was sound reasoning. I could get, theoretically, 2 of a better quality item for the same price as one nearby.

So conveniently forgetting that I have yet to actually buy a Victoria's Secret bra, because they don't fit right, and that the children were being kept home from church for a reason, we all piled into the car and went to the mall.

We haven't been to the mall in more than 2 years.

That was foreshadowing.

The 2 for $32 dollar bras were lovely. And only go up to a D cup. I am, sadly, and I mean that, at least a DD. They did not fit. In fact very few cute bras fit. I tried to walk out of the store but a sales clerk stopped me at the front and directed me to the far back, where they have other, more expensive bras in my size that aren't padded. She doesn't walk with me to help me find them. She just points.

I waste at least 15 minutes pawing my way through high tech satin to find one lonely 34DD at the back. Whatever happened to arranging things according to size in a lingerie store anyway? Or customer service?

But, it's a demi bra. And I spill out of the top. Victoria's Secret does not go up to an E cup, so I ask the first employee who asks how I'm doing for directions to Nordstrom's. I never did find Nordstrom's, but I did find Aaron and the kids at Playland outside of Sears.

The Girl coughed into his shirt and ended up vomiting as well. It's not much. (foreshadowing) He managed to clean it up with a wet wipe from a nearby mom. The Girl is playing happily. I go into Sears to look there.

There is not a single sales person on the floor and after several minutes of fruitless searching I determine that there are no bras in my size either. I now remember why I hate bra shopping so much.

So I consult with Aaron once again. Do we go home or try Macy's next?

He and the children accompany me to the intimate apparel section of Macy's, where he encourages me to find an employee and get them to find me a bra in my size. Then he found one for me. The kids want to go back to Playland so he retreats with them while I continue the search.

The store employee usually works in the children's section. "Oh my God," she says, when I tell her what size I'm looking for. But she's willing to join the search.

We grab another person who looks as though she belongs in that section, but it's her first day at work, so she doesn't know either. Between the 3 of us we find one bra in the right size. I try it on.

I don't think even my grandma would wear this. (See above photo.) The straps are too close to the neck, there is puckering at the top of the very full coverage tops. In fact, I might as well just buy a sport bra and call it a day.

I leave it hanging forlornly in the dressing room and make my way back to my family.

What I see first is Little playing on a slide, and wonder where everyone else is. Around a column Aaron is sitting on a bench holding the girl between his legs, and then I see it.

Vomit is everywhere. On his arm, his shirt, his pants, her hand, the bench, the floor, everywhere. It is bad. They are frozen, like a moment in a bad tableau, unable to move or the vomit will spread.

The Boy has been sent to summon me from the store, but he went up the wrong escalator and missed me. My first task is to find my son. It is only a little way, but it's too far. I run back to the store and he is waiting at the fitting rooms looking for me.

With him safely retrieved I rush back to Playland, where Aaron and the Girl remain frozen, marinating, waiting for help.

I then run the other way to the far back end of Sears to the bathroom. They start to turn the lights out in the store as I disappear into the dark recesses. The kids start saying, "Isn't mommy in there, why are they turning out the lights?"

Aaron doesn't say, "Yes she is, the mall is eating her."

But I think it may be.

When I return we wipe as well as can be done. Aaron removes his vomit stiffened shirt and makes a half-hearted swipe at the crotch of his pants with the paper towels. I wipe as much as I can from the bench and floor with the remainder and we make a break for the exit.

The lights continue to go out around us. But we escape in time and are soon in the sweet warm air of the parking lot. Sounds of the freeway hum all around us.

Anyone want all the rhinestones I'm going to have to cut off the bra I buy at Frederick's of Hollywood tomorrow?


White Christmas

If you don't follow me on twitter or face book you may not know that since I wrote this post in October things have changed.

My parents bought tickets for the other three kids and it all goes according to plan we are right now in the air on our way to Canada. We will be gone three weeks! I'm really excited. I get to show my kids my side of the family. I can take them tobogganing on my favorite hills and skating on the pond I grew up skating on. I hope my dad still has my skates hanging in the stairway of the basement.

Mt sister and her husband are building a big snow cave in their back yard, just like we used to when I was little for the kids to play in. Our little wussy California butts will be freezing, but I'm looking forward to it.

Aaron is staying home to work. That part is sad. We will miss him.

Last night all the kids camped out in our room together so they could sleep with daddy before they leave.

But, we have friends who suddenly needed to move back to CA and have no where to stay yet, and we have an almost empty house to offer them. So it's all cool.

I don't know how often I'll be online. My dad doesn't have internet at his house yet. I know! How does he live?

So I've scheduled a few posts from the archives to keep things current while I'm gone.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.



The Girl is Seven

I still stare at you, the long skinny girl in front of me and wonder where my chubby little baby girl with the rolls on your thighs that met all the way to your knees went.

You taped your stick horse and scooter together all by yourself to pretend you were riding a horse.
Now you are tall, beautiful, intuitive and articulate. I often think you aren't paying attention at all and then you surprise me days or weeks later by pointing at some plant or animal and telling me what it is and all sorts of details about it.

You love animals, of all kinds. Kittens, dogs, birds, rodents, horses, you like them all. You will fearlessly pick up all sorts of bugs and make houses for them. You spent the summer catching butterflies. You actually caught quite a few. You are, however, afraid of spiders, because you know some are poisonous.

You actually got him to sleep here.
 You are an excellent big sister and a baby holding pro. I love having your help, and the way you run up and ask if you can hold him all the time. He likes you and grins a lot when you play with him. You can get him to laugh and stop being fussy faster than any one else.

You are always up to something. You have grand ideas for things you will make and if I leave you to it you usually bring it to completion. In that way your ability to focus is excellent. You leave in your wake a trail of paper, glitter, glue and random fabulous objects you have constructed.

You grated a guava to make the "guacamole" for this taco.
Your heart is so tender and lovely. Underneath all your silly flighty everyday interactions there are deep still pools where you process and treasure things. You are aware of everyone. You know when someone is happy or sad, and often how to fix it. You carry people in your heart and sometimes your natural empathy is crippling. You worry about things that the other kids don't and you sometimes cling to me when there is nothing to be afraid of.

You also feel every day slights and disappointments very deeply. But you are getting better all the time at self control, and letting go of things that aren't important. It makes me proud to watch you get stronger that way.

You love to be outdoors. You notice everything. Every leaf, every rock, you examine it all.

You are tough. You can take a fall or a tumble and just keep on going. You are the last one to tire on a straight uphill hike, the last to complain. You are also tough when it comes to wrestling around with your brother or daddy. Unless you are so tired you shouldn't be wrestling anyway, you can take your beats and give them out with out so much as flinching.

You are really good at solving problems on your own. You get tired of waiting for me or someone else to help you with something and you often invent a solution that is better than what we would have done anyway.

You love your big brother, and think he's super cool. I've also watched you take it upon yourself to protect him from time to time, in the way that sisters can. You want to translate him to others, and help him to fit in. You are a natural at fitting in. He isn't. I really hope that you can stay able to make others at ease and find common ground but that you never lose your sense of self and who you are. I expect it to be a challenging line for you to walk.

Did I mention that you are beautiful?
You are so different from me in many ways. I find I need to be the most mindful with you, to pay the most attention. I make more mistakes and misunderstand you often because of our differences. You are always so quick to forgive me when I wrong you by accident.

I'm ever grateful for the girl that you are and the girl that you are becoming. It's an honor to be your mother.

I love you always,

Your Mama


Princess Tea Party

Actually, this is from the night before, Little's real birthday.

I'm trying to make the actual day special even with a shared party by cake and presents then.

This is the party.

little princesses. :)

Older pretty princess. She doesn't need a dress.

Now I have to go and make a strawberry angel food cake for the Girl's actual birthday day tomorrow. and wrap her present.

One day left before we leave for Canada.  Must find all their socks, and mine, it's snowing there.


Little is 4

Four years ago this time I was staring at the rug in our apartment trying to decide whether or not to vacuum or lay down because I was going to have a baby sometime soon.

You surprised me you see. I thought I had 3 more weeks to get ready before you appeared. They were a busy 3 weeks too. The Girl's birthday, Christmas, Hannukah at your Beema's, New Years, and then a baby.

But you had other plans. You wanted to be here for all of those things I guess. So December 17th, 2006 I found myself walking to Target, in labor. I needed diapers, and birthday present for your big sister. And in a misguided moment I blame on labor hormones I bought an awful Hannukiah that I later returned.

I've been scrambling to keep up with you ever since.

Now you are 4. You are a big sister. Though you are still very Little.

I like your chirrupy voice, the way you come to hug me in the morning and say, "Good morning Mama."

I like the way you are excited by simple things and the way you sound when you talk about them.

I like the way you tighten your jaw when talking to make a silly voice and do your funny little side to side waggle.

I like your awkward grammar and the way you use the words you know to say things you haven't really got the words to say yet. I like how your words sound because you can't pronounce r or l yet and replace it with w.

I like how you rate your day based on the feeling of the minute. You will hang your head and announce dolefully, "I'm not having such a good day mommy."

Or you will chirp enthusiastically, "I'm having a GOOD day!"

You give all of us kisses. You giggle and glance sideways when you want to be tickled again, or chased or hugged.

Today we were talking about the blanket on Jellybean, the one your auntie made for you. "We should keep it mommy, and then when I'm a grown-up I can use for my when I have a baby."

You have a little doll. Poor baby Rosie has been dragged everywhere. You decorate her with crayon, change her clothes, punish her when she is naughty, and practice being a mommy with her. You are so excited to grow up and take care of your own babies.

You take off Jellybean's sock, and hats, and clothes. You wait to do it until I'm not looking. You think he is your personal dress up doll. You love him so much, like you love most kids your age or younger. You are just very social I think. You want everyone to be your friend and come and play with you.

When a little friend shows up at our house you take their hand and command, "Come, I"ll show you my toys." then you lead them off to play. Sometimes they don't like how in their face you are and will push or hit to get you to back off. But that doesn't stop you much. You will try again later. You think our personal space talk is really entertaining though with all those big arms movements.

You love deeply, feel everything in the moment, and passionately engage whatever you are taken with.

You are joy bursting through a tiny body and voice. You are life barely contained inside your skin.

I love you dearly. You being here is a blessing to me.


Your mama


The Labor of Advent

We sit and sort through tiny beads, searching for the right ones.

 Stringing letters one by one we name the nameless, the forgotten, and abandoned, and beaten child.

They are known.

We know them. We send them proof.

Cards and letters written specifically to each of them by the youth group at our church.

Bracelets that say their name. A personal touch that reaches across oceans and around the planet and says, "We see you. We know you. We love you. We care."

The staff at our local Trader Joe's donated art supplies to send to the kids at the Charis Home.

This is how we prepare for the birth of Christ. Our table glitters with scattered beads. The den overflows with envelopes half stuffed with socks and hairbrushes, toothbrushes, glow sticks and art supplies.

We sort and package treasures for children who think a simple balloon is a really great treat. We are sending children their first Christmas present. Ever.

We labor toward the birth, the entering of light into dark, the kingdom of heaven breaking into history.

But I am weary from the labor, it's been long and hard and still the darkness presses. I wonder how long it will take for the light to come.

You should stop reading now if you want to go away from here with a happy, light, good feeling.

I'm going to be frank. It might not be pretty. I will tell you of the dark part of labor, that place where a woman announces, "I can't do it anymore."

You see, I'm tired of trying to figure out how to tell this story in a way that will make you* care. I'm tired of wondering why people can know that there are kids going hungry every night and abused by grownups who enslave them and then walk away and do nothing.

More than that I'm sick that there is a story to tell. I'm tired of sitting and weeping over the stories of these kids we take care of, wondering where their scars came from, how badly they were beaten, how long it will take them to recover, if they saw their parents die. I'm tired of wondering if we are going to be able to send them enough to eat next month.

I'm tired of war and poverty and ignorance and neglect.

I'm tired of this whole thing coming down to dollars and popularity. That children are sold because of lack of resources, that people don't care until someone famous says something about it.

It bothers me that we all feel we have to pick and choose what we will and won't care about or support, there is that much need.

I'm sad that a phrase like "compassion fatigue" even exists. That me telling you that a little 9 year old  girl named Armpha doesn't have a mother anymore because she "disappeared in the jungle during the time of the conflict" in Burma may not even register. I hate wondering if I should find a different story, one with more pathos or memorable details, because hers might not be enough to spur anyone to action.

I'm tired of fighting and struggling for these kids everyday and feeling like I'm not getting anywhere.

I'm just a regular person you know. Some days I wish I didn't know, hadn't seen, then I could use my spare time to sew or knit or write or something. Then I might have some spare time to use.

I'm tired, but I'm not quitting. I won't abandon them now. The only way out of labor is through it. These particular children are my responsibility. No one else is there to take care of them. I said yes to them and I'll do my best, even if I have to do it alone.

*by YOU I don't mean you, dear readers. You have been so supportive and responsive and encouraging, and I know a lot of you do a lot of amazing things to help others.


4 months

It feels like you have always been here. It feels like time is going too fast and you are growing so quickly.

You laugh now. We pivot around the sound, all pausing to listen and watch as the sound breaks from your little chest. We stop everything to make you do it again, and again, and again.

You seem to like it best when you are startled. A sibling popping close to say "boo". A towel or pillow case snapping in your field of vision. You stiffen in surprise, consider for half a second, and then giggle in a way that almost sounds like a hiccup.

But you also laugh for people when they are just silly. It's like you already have a sense of humor and can tell the difference between regular interaction and silliness for your benefit.

You are getting stronger. You can lift your head off your car seat. You arch your back, and kick your feet and I'm sure rolling over is not that far away.

You kick, and kick. It's so exciting. One night I was talking to you about your kicking, telling you how fast you are. You responded by staring off at the ceiling and kicking even faster and harder. Almost like you understood me and wanted to show off.

I laughed so hard. You reminded me of little boys who make sound effects to help them run faster.

I think you are very handsome with your chubby boy cheeks and long lashes. But then I'm probably biased because you look so much like your daddy, and I happen to think he is very handsome also.

You have a cold right now. You are very patient about it considering all of the extra snot and discomfort you are going through. This the is first you have ever really fussed. It's about on par with how much Little fussed all the time.

I hope this good natured disposition stays with you as you grow up.

You grab things now, trying to figure out how to get them to your mouth. Except, you only ever manage to get your fist in there. The funniest is when you grab on fist with the other, pull toward your mouth, and then stick the grabbing fist in your mouth. Soon you'll figure out how to rotate your wrist and get the thing you are holding to your lips. That will be exciting I"m sure.

I would say more but you are fussy again. So I'll hold you and rock instead.

I love you. You bring so much laughter to my life.

Your mama.


Kitchen flow

dried hydrangeas and a miniature teacup

a sprig of oak from a nature walk

So I'm taking a short break from telling you all about the kids in Thailand that need your help. Even though they do still really need you help. We've had 3 new supporters sign up in a week, which is awesome. It's a little short of the 300 we're hoping to get by the end of this month though.

Normal people are probably trying to finish baking and gift purchasing and I'm trying to figure out how to feed, clothe and house a bunch of orphans for another year and package up the donated Christmas gifts we're sending. Is this, or is it not, a first world problem? I dunno.

Anyway, I digress. We're talking about my kitchen. This post is inspired by Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter, and her series on the reasonably clean house, and kitchen.

She invited everyone to share their pretty sink and how it works in their kitchen.

Aaron bought me this in Bali. I love it. It's such a tender moment

Look how sweet and intimate her little kiss on his cheek is. This makes me smile.

Here's mine.

I shot this while the Girl was doing her morning job of unloading the dishwasher.
I love the kitchen in this house. And not just because of the double oven and 5 burner gas range, not pictured. It's so bright and roomy and well organized.

with the cupboards open

Here it is with the cupboards open. The flow is left to right. Dirty things go one the left side of the counter and either to the dish rack on the right once clean or to the dishwasher. The Girl empties the dishes and stacks them on the counter then uses the step stool to put them in the cupboard. Plates and cutlery are in the cupboard and drawer to the right of the sink, which is a close as I can get them and makes it easier for short people to set the table and put things away. Pots and pans are farther left right underneath the range top for saved steps while cooking.

I like this arrangement a lot. It works for us.

Here's my question for everyone. I want some kind of curtain/window dressing there. But I don't want to reduce the light, and I want that wood scroll work detail to stand out if possible. There are brackets up, but no rod. I've been staring at it for 4 months now and still have no idea. Anyone want to tell me what to put there?


Meet Suchart

This is Suchart. He is 11 years old.

When he grows up he would like to be a doctor and give treatment to kids who have burnt heads like him.

Suchart was burnt by cooking oil with a heating pan, he can't see clearly now. His step-mother, who has since passed away, was violently abusive. Many step parents are where he comes from.

Now he lives at the Charis Home and we are taking care of him and getting him medical treatment.

Ashley was at the home this September. She met Suchart and said this about him.

He has that story (of abuse), and then he's the kid who laughs and runs around more than any of the others. He chased me for an hour. I tickled him. When I began to get tired I made a lot of outrageous motions and he was one of the first kids to mimic me. The new game was mimic every move Ashley makes. He has an incredible smile when he laughs, very playful.

We can't do this without you.

Please consider giving just $10/month for 2011 to support The Charis Project? Our goal is 300 people by January 1st.

To Do 2011-Rescue a Child
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