Monday, August 25, 2008

how to offend 101

Blake and I went to the Bear Canyon pool with some friends today, and as we were packing up, Blake decided he needed to go potty (he tends to swallow almost as much water as he spits out). He let himself out of the enclosure, walked down to the grass (about ten feet), dropped trou, and proceeded to relieve himself in the grass.

I can't decide if I should spin this as "I was slightly embarrassed and told him to use the potty," or "I was encouraging him to aim far and was thrilled he didn't pee down his leg." Those who know me know it's the latter, OF COURSE. Blake pees in the grass sometimes, and I don't think it's that big a deal. Truth be told, I think the grass is a great choice when compared to the side of a building, the street, or your car tire... don't you agree?

Well, I told him to pull his britches up and get back inside the enclosure so we could get dressed and go home. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone doing something near the potty spot on the concrete path. When I straightened from getting Blake squared away, I peered a little closer, then looked up surprised and a little ticked at the guy walking away across the lawn to his campsite (about 25 yards away). A large arrow and "PEE!" had been written on the sidewalk with some other kids' chalk that was laying nearby.

I was a bit taken aback and told the girls to check it out (one had commented earlier on all the photos she had of my son's backside as he proceeded to anoint corners - not the middle! - of her yard the last time we were there). My dear friend, who is now one of my heroes, was indignant.

"How dare he?! Would he have done the same if his dog had done that? Where's the compassion for a kid who's potty-training?" and more to that effect. I was so entertained and gratified by her pique that it took the wind out of my own (I can tend to get quite offended sometimes), and we all kept wrapping things up. Finally, all my stuff collected, I left the enclosure, picked up the same piece of chalk, and was contributing my own statement when the man came up behind me and said,

"I'm not trying to start anything here."

"Oh, ME EITHER," I said mildly as I finished writing "YOU'RE WELCOME!"

This friend (whose privacy I'm protecting in case she experiences any regret - even though she's cemented her status in my heart as one of the most awesome people ever) then told him right off that she wasn't impressed by his labeling and asked him point blank if he would have done the same thing if it had been a dog. He mumbled something I didn't catch and beat a hasty retreat. After we dismissed his actions even more thoroughly to one another, the woman I assumed was his wife also left (she'd come in right behind him).

I walked away feeling slightly embarrassed that someone else had stood up for me so thoroughly and also really grateful that they'd done so.

Now, I'm thinking the guy was trying to keep his family from walking in my kid's urine, which I understand. I probably should have dumped a bunch of water over it to make the grass even more wet - er, clean. I AM trying to get Blake to go potty in the potty, but sometimes that's not always possible with the poor kid's limited control, and other folks' lack of understanding isn't very helpful.

Maybe my chalk reply should have been "At least it's not IN THE POOL!"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

my hypocrisy DOES have limits!

I was in Wal-Mart the other day to return an item that had (predictably?) broken. Standing in line in customer service was painful: one poor young man behind the counter, and people doing apparently non-simple things like money transfers and check cashing. Adding to my discomfort was the fact that the two young men in front of me were first loudly discussing Mormonism ("I hate 'em. They get everything wrong about the Book of Life... No, I guess I hate what they believe. Love the sinner."), then loudly complaining about the lack of efficiency at Wal-Mart. Then they were joined by the two people behind me.

"Guess we can't expect much more than this. It is Wal-Mart."
"God forbid they call someone else up. That might make sense!"
"Someone call the manager. I'll bet he can do such a simple task as help people."

Upon walking back through the store to leave, I heard a young woman pushing a cart say offhandedly to her companion: "This place does such terrible things to people."

There are so many things wrong with ALL of the above that I barely know where to start!
  1. I was in Wal-Mart. Gross.
  2. Supposed Christians having such loud (and erroneous, might I add) public discussions about any other faith is off-putting... I love Jesus, but I still found what they were saying offensive.
  3. I really really dislike Wal-Mart, calling it the devil's playground... but I have the good sense (taste?) not to complain bitterly about the place while I'm giving them my business, no matter how begrudgingly I do so. HOWEVER, if you drag me to Wal-Mart, I'll make snide comments under my breath the entire time. Molly has been on the receiving end of this, but it's her fault for taking me there in the first place!
  4. Sniping about the job someone is doing when they are obviously doing their best in a difficult situation is wretched and ugly. This and a few other instances have shown me in glaring detail how unpleasant impatience is, and how it makes the impatient one very unattractive.
So, I'm trying to be more mindful of my own impatience, which really knows no bounds and which I've been freely expressing to this point. I'm trying to have more grace for others in circumstances beyond their control, even and especially when those circumstances are then inconvenient to myself.

Hmm. Never thought Wal-Mart would be able to teach me anything beyond how to clutter up a store beyond all recognition or how to fool a nation into thinking that cheap shit isn't still shit.


People are coming into Bozeman by the truckful for college. On the one hand, I remember that exciting, kind of scary time - and it's fun to see all the new faces around town.

On the other hand, they are clogging every single place I need to be, namely Target, the grocery store, and all the roads going anywhere. And so far, none of them are cute or charming enough that their presence isn't just irritating.

I think I've gotten old.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

missing you

I am bemoaning the very inconvenient fact that Molly is (to quote her) "offline until Friday night."


I have things! Things to say! Things to say about an inappropriate place! An inappropriate place I ENTERED YESTERDAY! Things to say about the things I found there... AND THEN BOUGHT!

Oh, Molly. I could use a good talk like you don't even know. I suppose offline doesn't necessarily mean you won't answer your phone, but it's past 10:00, and I only got hit with the chat urge now. Besides, I'm busily polishing off the bowl of caramel corn Blake and I made this afternoon, so my mouth would be full.

As it is, my fingers are sticky, and now I have to go wash my keyboard. And make myself a gin slush for drinking while I whoop it up in the kitchen.

That's right: it's pineapple jam time. Do I ever know how to party?! Once I get these four or five batches done, all I have left to do is about two hundred batches of chokecherry jelly. I'm not even joking.

Ok, a little bit.

One hundred fifty.

requested recipes

Gin Slush (from Catherine, who is now pregnant... I am drinking her share)
1 can frozen lemonade
1 can frozen limeade
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups gin

Mix together and freeze in a large, lidded bowl. To serve, scoop the frozen slush into a tall glass and add Squirt. Use about half slush, half soda (or mix to taste).

Sausage & Cheese Strata (from Wondertime, and Blake loves it)
6 English muffins or 8 thick slices of Italian bread - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 pound bulk sausage (like Jimmy Dean)
12 oz shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
1.5 cups of milk (any kind)
1 tsp Dijon mustart
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Worcester sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled

Before doing anything else, toast the cubed bread: arrange it in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until they are dried out and beginning to brown. Set aside and cool.

In a skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain and set aside.
Brush a 2-quart souffle or casserole dish with about a tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. In the dish, arrange layers as follows:
  • 1/3 English muffin cubes
  • 1/3 cheese
  • all the sausage
  • 1/3 English muffin cubes
  • 1/3 cheese
  • 1/3 English muffin cubes
Press the contents of the dish down firmly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, cayenne, and Worc's; pour mixture over strata. Top the dish with the remaining cheese and drizzle with the melted butter. Cover and chill at least one hour (can chill as long as overnight).

Let dish stand at room temp for 45 minutes before you bake it. Heat oven to 350 and bake uncovered for 1 to 1.25 hours, or until it's golden brown and puffy.
Yum. I might have to make some and have people over for dinner. Eating all that by ourselves wouldn't be wise... I have a bridesmaid's dress to be skinny for!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

sweet pea and braces

Ellese Tondre and Blakester, pre-fun run. It was Ellese's birthday, and she was very popular in her princess hat!

Jodi & Jenna, Keli & Jonah, in the crush of folks. I think there were over 1000 kids (that DOESN'T include parents)!

The crush of folks, on the move. Zach had Ellese and Blake run the whole thing - 1 km - and by the time we caught up, they were RED little tow-heads.

Waiting for the Sweet Pea parade to begin. I think he's tickling her.

Me, post braces. Self portraits are tricky...

Blake and I made French toast the other morning, and he was very excited about eating it.

He made me a cake.

I think this video is funny, even if it's not particularly flattering... but hey - that keeps me humble! Meg was trying out the video on her camera. The back story is that my son gave me a fit just prior to this, hence the cancer-stick (from a pack I've had for over a year!), and my mother had me iron a HUGE tablecloth the day before. Let me know if the rest isn't self-explanatory, or if it's too shrill to understand.

I didn't realize my voice could crack glass. That's cool.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

oh yeah

My son forgot almost all his potty "training" (in quotes because I can't really say that I actually did much), and messed his britches all weekend.

I may have to start calling him "Skidmark."


Hurray for team USA and Michael Phelps! I'm so proud to be an American.

Our weekend was GREAT fun with Andy & Michelle. They took us camping (me for the first time since I was pregnant, Blake for his first time this summer - Grammie took him last summer when I was in Europe) up to Seeley Lake. I'd never been, and it was lovely. We spent time with a few of Michelle's acquaintances from work, and while that detracted from the time that we could all spend together, Blake had himself a crush on the eight-year-old boy, Ian. He followed poor Ian around like a puppy.

When he wasn't being an R2-Me2, he was running circles around the camp, shuffling through the dust, sifting it through his fingers, running off-trail into the low shrubby stuff, and generally having a great time. He "ran" through the lake, getting deep enough that both Michelle and I were concerned, but the grin never left his face as he hopped exaggeratedly through the water.

I have to admit that it was hard to turn off my "Mommy" mode, and all the dirtiness got to me a little bit. I remember dirty legs from camping, but my son was snotting out dirt boogers and threw sand in his own hair. I had a bar of soap and enough baby wipes to kit out an army, so we'd wash up occasionally, and Andy proclaimed that Blake would share his hatred of wipes because both their mothers over-used them.

I am not deterred and will persist in having baby wipes on me at all times because they are awesome.

We had an enormous borrowed tent - I hugged the side, and my son flipped all around the rest of it - but we both stayed warm. I really hope we'll do it again next summer. It was an easy way for me to put my toe back in the waters for camping (they did a triathalon, we slept in), and the only thing that's really different is my body. I can no longer sleep flat on my back without at least two pillows. Also, I really like my three-inch-thick sleeping pad.

Please don't tell the folks over at BackpackingLight!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

enough already!

Michael Phelps has an admirable goal and is well on his way to reaching it.

I would just like to point out that at least two of his medals thus far are in relays, which are TEAM EFFORTS.

He's not the only male swimmer in China right now, and while I'm proud of him, I'm also a little tired of him. We've got other folks there doing great things, and I wouldn't mind hearing more about them. I would hope that he's the kind of guy with the humility to agree.

our (my) week

  • Monday morning, 7:30-8:00 am - tantrum. He alternated between "I want to watch Star Wars!" and "I want to snuggle!" and "I don't want to be in bed!" I pulled the covers over my head and prayed for wisdom and strength and a different child.
  • I found out I can't afford LASIK until I'm in a wildly different set of circumstances, made queen of everything, and am independently wealthy.
  • Blake's been having a hard time when I leave him at preschool, which makes my heart break and makes me want to run crying from my crying child.
  • My car's in the shop (hail repair - praise the Lord!), but I found out yesterday that they need another FULL WEEK to finish, and I was supposed to pick it up today.
  • I got upgraded on my rental to a free minivan, which I thought could be cool, but it just ended up crushing the remnants of my ego. It feels like my son and I are knocking around a vast expanse of dowdy space, and I have to holler across the distances for him to hear me. He does love the automatic sliding doors though.
  • I have watched or heard (because I'm in the kitchen/on the computer) Star Wars five or six times since Sunday. At the rate he's going, little Blake may never get laid. Also not helping: the fact that he calls it Star Horse or Star Whores. I'm expecting a call from preschool asking about the porn I just keep around for my kid to watch.
  • Tuesday: fever.
  • Wednesday: not only crying when I left him at preschool, but, when I picked him up, I found out he'd BITTEN another kid that day... on the upper cheek near the poor kid's eye. I'm sure he was provoked, but it's so out of character for him that I was stunned, and we spent the next fifteen minutes talking about what you do bite (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and popsicles) and what you don't bite (people, animals, minivans, or furniture... EYES).
  • "Momma, when do I get a new daddy?"
  • Taking out my right contact in the dark, dropping it, and being unable to find it AT ALL with the lights on. It was only two days old, and I'm pretty sure it fell neatly down the drain of my bathroom sink.
  • Sitting on my bathroom counter to tweeze an eyebrow, then turning around realizing I'd sat on an open tube of toothpaste, and the brilliant turquoise pile of goo on my counter was the result.

I'm pretty sure it can only get better, because I can't imagine it getting too much worse. I feel like one of the three Stooges.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

truly a toss-up

Are all the flies on my back porch there because of my nearly empty dirty diaper pail, or because of my hops vine?

The hops clearly attracts lady bugs, but flies? Ewww...

Does anyone know?


I just found out that I cannot afford LASIK this fall. I was planning to parlay a week-long trip to Calgary to take advantage of the lower rates and the great recovery center (my fabulous in-laws).

All this was based on an original estimate (which I cannot find ANYWHERE) of $450-$550 an eye. Um, things must have changed, and it would have been anywhere from $900-$1850 PER EYE.

Yeah, I can't afford that. On the one hand, it's a bit of a relief - this hasn't been a great month financially (hail damage, new front brakes, general tune-up, registration... all car-related, plus a dental visit with X-rays, my best friend's and sister's weddings, plus my sister's baby shower all hit me this month). On the other hand, it's an enormous bummer. I was SO looking forward to ditching glasses and contacts forever (they're a pain!).

I suppose I will recover and be fine, but right now I'm crabby and disappointed. No one's going to cut up my eyes with lasers, and THAT SUCKS.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

that's what he said

Yesterday morning:
B: "Mom, I sure love your blue robe."
A: "I'm pretty sure it's green."
B: "Well, I sure love your green robe because Grammie has a white one."
A: "Oh. Thank you?"

At least once a day:
B: "I can't say ____ because ____ is a bad word, and I can't say it. I can't say that word."
A: "If you keep saying that word, I'm washing your mouth out with vinegar. TELLING me you can't say it is still saying it, which is disobedient."
B: "Oh no, it's not disobedient, it's an accident."

On July 30th:
B: "OH! Momma, you got your braces off! Oooh, that's smooth (running his finger over my teeth). Let's wrestle."

Wrestling was one of things that reliably hurt me, as he'd smack me in the mouth, and I would tear up and cry uncle with a mouthful of blood.

Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but he sure got me in the face a lot, and it hurt pretty badly.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

that's what she said

From Kellie, upon reading the previous post (I love her, she totally gets me):

Do you remember Elliot from Scrubs, and how when she was dating Rick Schroeder, she kept trying to hide the fact that she was crazy from him? It's really funny, truly, but I got to thinking. That's all we as women do. Every day try not to let everyone see just how unbalanced we might be. It can be a game. I'm thinking, "Maybe I don't want/need to share everything that pops into my brain. Perhaps not everyone will think it's as clever/smart/sane as I do." And sometimes there's just not time to filter everything before it comes out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

response to crying jag

Okay, so I'm finally sitting down to expand upon my crying jag post. First off, thank you to all the friends and family who called or wrote with encouraging words, for the coffee, the dinner invites, the offers to help out with Blake. You all mean the world to me, and I think I'd be much worse off without the incredible support system God's placed all around me.

What I don't think many folks realize is that I am that lonely pretty much all the time. I've compared it to a paper cut - you usually realize it's there, but it rarely interferes with daily living. Then you inadvertently smack it on something or get salt or lemon juice in it and HOLY CRAP THAT STINGS.

That's my loneliness. It's usually very manageable, though ever-present, and only occasionally flares up into something that unravels me to the point that I alarm people. The difference between me and most folks (women) who have a good cry is that I know EXACTLY why I am crying.

Before Blake died, that wasn't the case. I remember watching Monsters, Inc. with him in the Hoffman house (Hoffman hotties!), and the end just made me melt! I melted to the point that I melted down and was crying hard for no real reason. Blake was horrified, thinking I had done something bad that I didn't want to confess to him. Well, that was kind of true.

"I'm so...(sniff)...sorry...that I'm a big old bag of CRAZY. WAAAA!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

i'm a lemming

I go where others follow.

Years ago, when my dearest friends Kellie and Molly both started using electric toothbrushes, I pooh-poohed them as too lazy to actually brush their own teeth.

Then I tried one, my teeth had never been cleaner, and I've since upgraded from simply electronic to a sonic toothbrush. It has NOTHING to do with laziness and everything to do with how shiny and smooth your teeth are!

Well, I've been hearing a lot about Facebook and MySpace (I know what they are, I just wasn't interested), and have been rolling my eyes and thinking, "Just what I need, one more thing to do in a day. I keep up with the folks I want to keep up with, and now I have a blog...what good could come of such a thing?"

I just signed up for a Facebook account. While I'm not quite comfortable inviting everyone I know to be a friend (though they are in real life, is it appropriate for me to ask the husbands of all my friends to be my Facebook friends?), I finally see the usefulness of such a site. Oh, and I asked Molly and Kellie to add me to their friends list.

I hope they say yes.

the truth isn't the problem

I wish that others would show me the grace that I have worked and struggled to show to others (not always successfully) when being lovingly reproved. God's done a wonder in my heart to be soft to the friends and family who come to me and say, "Perhaps you should have done ______ differently." In fact, I can think of three or four separate occasions in the last month or so where I've been approached in such a way and received the gentle chastisement without becoming angry or defensive.

Praise God for giving me a humble heart. Now all I have to do is stop saying all the things for which I must later apologize. Even as I think happily of my humility, God graciously knocks me from my pedestal, because HE KNOWS. I don't belong up there.

I think I heard this from my father first: The truth is not the problem.

How people respond to the truth, how the truth is delivered - those CAN be problems, which are hopefully easily resolved, but the truth itself is not the problem. I do not recall ever struggling with honesty. I can tell it like it is, boy howdy!

Tact? THAT'S where I get into trouble...and how I appreciate when folks give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm even getting better at reciprocating, which is saying something. I can be a very judgmental person, but God is teaching me to forgo judgment for the sake of relationship. Sometimes I do better with that than other times, but I have all these great friends and family who will slowly (no one likes confrontation) pick up the phone to tell me like it is.