Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Um, Yes. Why Yes I would.

I believe firmly in the old “Girl Scout Try”. This means one of my philosophies in life is to try anything. Once. After that, if I find I don’t like it, I don’t have to repeat the unpleasant action.

Over Labor Day weekend in 2000, Bonehead and I lived in Southern Illinois, which is 6-1/2 hours away from our families. On this particular weekend, my Mom drove down for a visit over the long weekend, and Bonehead’s friend Steve came from St. Louis. We were lucky enough to be neighbors with good friends of ours from back home, so we had a whole group of people to have fun with over the holiday weekend.

Our neighbor Craig owned a boat, so we decided on Sunday to spend the day out on a nearby lake. Bonehead and I spent quite a few days on the boat with our neighbor, so for us this day was just like many others. The only difference was the addition of my Mom and Steve.

Lake Kincaid had a shelf of cliffs that reached out over the water. Often times as we floated by on our days on the lake, we could see boats pulled over and various people jumping off the cliffs into the water below. The cliffs went at an angle, so at one end it was just a few feet above the water, and then it angled up so each new jumping place got higher and higher.

We had never bothered to stop and partake in the cliff jumping before, opting to hang out at the spillway or at the party cove instead. I can’t tell you the conversation that brought us there, but at one point we anchored the boat with the intention of jumping off the cliffs for the first time.

As a few of us swam to shore and climbed onto land, conversation turned to the highest point we would jump from. Bonehead and Steve brilliantly decided that they would jump from the highest point possible on the cliffs. It looked impossibly high, but there were other people jumping, so we could assume it was fairly safe. Craig and Julie opted for the lower jumping height, so we left them behind with a couple of snide snickers describing their wuss status ranking.

If I strongly believe something, my passive aggressive side will show its ugly teeth. I may not stand on steps and make speeches for my causes, but if I truly don’t want to do something, I will find a way not to. I didn’t want to jump off the highest point on the cliff, but I went along with it. It had nothing to do with being a follower, and everything to do with proving myself as the only female of the group. No man was going to prove himself braver than me by golly. I am not a delicate flower, and although I like to be girly, more often than not, I will get uber competitive and attempt to hold my own when it comes to the opposite sex. I may loose, but I feel hyper-compelled to try.

So there we were, standing on the edge of the 67 foot drop into Lake Kincaid. Bonehead took the plunge first, followed by Steve. And then it was my turn.

I stood there, looking over the edge of the cliff to the water below, trying to hide my shaking from the strangers behind me in line. 67 feet sure looked like 150 feet, and I wanted nothing more than to turn and walk back down the side of the cliff and swim to the boat. But I knew at this point if I did not jump, I would never hear the end of it. Plus there was my motto. So I told myself, “Jump once. Just once, and you will never have to again.” And I closed my eyes and launched myself as far away from the cliff side as I could possibly get.

I was immediately faced with the searing dread of a bad decision you could not take back. It was too late to turn around and no matter the outcome, my decision was made. I’ll never in my life forget that moment. That too late to turn around while rethinking your decision a nanosecond too late moment.

I screamed all the way down like a girl on a roller coaster. Pure terror that scream was. I can tell you not a second of that drop was fun. I twisted weird when I hit the water, and the breath got knocked out of me upon impact. I remember the absolute panic and terror that I couldn’t breathe, being confused and trying to figure out which way was up so I could try to make it back to the surface. I found the way I thought was up, with my lungs burning, trying desperately not to let them fill themselves with water before I reached the surface and got to the oxygen.

I can honestly say it took everything I had to make it back to the surface. And as I broke through, my will to hold my breath gave way and I let out this magnificent gasp for air, which was the first clue to the others that there was anything wrong with my jump. After all, both John and Steve had jumped with no problems, so why should anyone have expected any different from my jump?

By the time I had doggie paddled myself back to the boat, I knew absolutely that something was wrong with me. I needed help to get onto the boat, I couldn’t stand. I wound up laying flat on my back on the bottom of the boat while my friends (and Mom) tried to get me back to shore. My day of boating was done.

By the time we got back to the shore, I could not move. At all. I wound up getting strapped to a board and getting carried into an ambulance and taken directly to the hospital. The pain was absolutely awful. Every bump the ambulance hit was a whole new world of pain to me, and what made it even worse was the fact I was afraid I might have broken my back.

Some of my scariest moments were those in the hospital waiting for the x-ray to return to know if my own absolute stupidity had broken my back. Fortunately for me, I had just wrenched my back really badly and would improve in a few days.

With the help of muscle relaxers, pain killers, and a week missed from work, I was 85 percent recovered the week after. Upon my return to work, the doctor I worked for asked me the same question many others have asked me when hearing my story, “You jumped off a cliff? How much did you have to drink first?”

My reply has always been, “Not a drop, I am just. That. Stupid.”

Why does everyone ask me that question, I wonder?

Probably because they already know the answer to, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

That should sum it up nicely.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Critter Gone Ferrell

I am surprised by the energy left in me this mid-morning as I lay him down and quickly perform a silent ninja roll back to my recliner and laptop, stopping only to turn the TV on for white noise in order to avoid waking him up with the clickity clack of my rushed blog entry. If my writing is spiraling out of control, I apologize. I am tired to the point of dizzy.

I believe Critter may be teething. Now please understand that I love Critter with everything that I am, and I am as sucked in by his little droopy blue eyes as the next person is, but he has been blessed with a giant sized Irish temper inside his little peanut body. I am sure that as he grows he will eventually grow into that Irish temperament, and things will eventually even themselves out. For now, though, that little temper (coupled with the inability to use words to communicate with his grossly inadequate mother) is a wicked wicked little kick start to the teething crankies.

His nose is stuffy/running, so he doesn’t want to be horizontal because he can’t breathe. His pacifier offers no comfort (although he won’t give up trying) because he can’t breathe through the sucking motion, and every three sucks ends up in a suction release and a gasp for air. He is a grouchy little baby bear who does not want to snuggle with his mamma at 11pm, 1am, 2am, 3am, or any other time when the rest of the sane world is sleeping. He is mad at me, his nose, his hurting little mouth, and me for not fixing it.

I 've tried. I’ve dosed him with infant Tylenol and baby Orajel, but it doesn’t help with the crankies. So last night I sucked it all up and endured alone (Bonehead had long since made a mad dash for the upstairs bedroom due to his daily 4am wakeup requirement). There were many tears and intense frustration, and I wish I could say they were all from him. There were some snuggles, some diaper changes, some feedings.

There was a police cruiser outside the front of my house at 2:30a.m. At the point I happened to glance out the window and saw it, I realized –oh, oops. My windows were open. Any neighbors that might have had their windows open were also privy to Critter’s inconsolable state.

The police officer didn’t knock on my door at all, and I’m not sure how long he was there before he pulled away. I wonder how long he was there before realizing that it was simply a mom so tired she didn’t realize her windows were open. I don’t really mind if a neighbor called, after thinking about it, because if I were the neighbor, I would have been totally worried someone might have been beating a baby. Critter can scream. He’s been blessed with the ability to shatter glass.

I did come to a couple of realizations at some point during my extremely rough night and dizzy tired morning. 1. I do not really blame Bonehead for running for the hills, because given half a chance, I would have run screaming too.(Although I have to confess that at 3am, I was so insanely jealous there were air horns and uncooked eggs in my thoughts) and 2. If there is a repeat of Critter’s Ferrell state tonight, I will be sure to close my windows in order to avoid troubling the neighbors or having a police officer knock on my door at 2am-ish.

However, I will tuck this night deep into my memory, and someday down the line, I will tell Critter the story of the night when he was teething and he screamed so loud and long he brought the police to investigate.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smile and Wave

There is a school crossing guard in our town who has a couple of different posts each morning due to different schools starting at different times. I have been driving by him for better than 3 years at different times.

He smiles and waves at every car that drives by his post. And not in a menacing creepy weird way, but in a truly friendly happy way. I've never seen him miss a beat, not even on the rainiest, gloomiest, or coldest (And Chicagoland winters can be their own category of brutal) days. He just smiles and waves and passes on a little joy.

I used to drive by the junior high every morning on my way to drop the kids off at daycare and that is the post I would pass him at. Every morning. Without fail.

Now that I am a stay at home mom, I am not in my minivan transporting children every morning at precisely 7:42am, so I don't often see him anymore. But this morning I broke down and decided Starbucks was in order (In my defense here, I really only still obsess about Starbucks-I have cut down an almost every day habit to approximately once a week) due to the quantity of things I would like to accomplish today.

On the way home, I drove by his second post, which is just down the street from the school my son attends. As I drove by and waved back as I always do (for some strange reason I can't control the impulse to wave back to him, and have always returned his wave) I realized There are a few things I miss about my pre-work hectic morning scrambles, and his little bit of unselfconscious joy spreading waving is one of them.

And so today, I've decided to pass it on. A smile and a wave. I know it's simple, but today, it's all I've got.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Real Conversation From The Neurotic Household

Yesterday, I was busy feeding Critter dinner while Bonehead was out for a bike ride. Smoochie grabbed one of Critter's books to look at, and sat down at the kitchen table next to me. Within minutes we were engaged in conversation regarding the little word book.

Smoochie: (Flipping the book over to show me the back cover) Mom, check this out.

Me: (Trying to get a spoon full of food in Critter's mouth with one eye and look at the book with the other) What, honey?

Smoochie: It's a wet bacon bottle. (Getting excited) And the bacon is blowing up a balloon.

Me: (Trying very hard not to laugh out loud) Honey, I think that is either a shampoo bottle or a soap bottle.

Smoochie: (Very visibly deflated) Then why did they put a picture of wet bacon on the front?

Me: (Rolling on the floor while Smoochie looks at me in bewilderment and Critter screeches at me for forgetting to fill up is open mouth) Snort, Chortle, I don't know honey, Chuckle, Slobber. That's a good question.

I hear slathering your baby with wet bacon is all the rage these days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Birds of Prey

Our 6 year old has recently become quite attitude prone and argumentative. Especially with mom (and that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that mom is way too nice in a push-overish sense of the word nice) and even at times has dared to become so in front of dad.

Mom occasionally will get worked up with all buttons pushed effectively and be in the middle of a rant before she realizes “Hey, I’m arguing with a 6 year old here. Who’s the boss?” It is at that point I usually repeat my first statement (If I can remember through the haze of frustration what it was), followed by, “I’m not arguing with you. End of discussion.” And then Smoochie be-bops away like nothing ever happened leaving mom trying not to flop and twitch like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Now Dad, on the other hand, generally chooses the squash it before it becomes an issue like using an entire can of raid on the line of red ants on our front sidewalk approach. And while Smooch seems to show no remorse for working his mother into the frothing at the mouth stage (which to give credit where credit is due, few do- I have a mother and sister who both will do it for the sheer entertainment value) he will think twice before ATTEMPTING to argue with his father. Because he knows dad will squash him. Like a bug.

Which is why I was surprised when Saturday night, smack in the middle of the popcorn making ritual, Bonehead came sauntering into the living room with the “I give up” look I often have myself and plopped in our wingback chair. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was waiting. I hadn’t heard the exchange in the kitchen, but apparently it was over how the new can of Boy Scout popcorn needed to be opened. I’m thinking I should take a detour here to explain the importance of popcorn in my home.

Popcorn is the bomb. Do people even say that anymore? Oh well, I just did. We refuse to buy greasy smelly microwave popcorn. The only way it gets cooked in our home is in the hot air popper. There really is a ritual which is started off by the preparing the butter and the offering of complements to be sure it is in the correct mood of coatingness. While certain aspects of the ritual may vary, there will always be a loud “WOOOOAH! HEHEHE!” issued by Smoochie as the first few kernels fly with enough force to make a whacking sound on the other side of the giant bowl placed underneath. And there is always grated parmesan (the refrigerated kind not the canned kind because we are, after all, popcorn snobs) and oregano on the finished popcorn results. And now back to the regularly scheduled programming which left off at the frustrated plopping into the wingback chair…

Bonehead was waiting. Apparently there was a mild discussion about how to open the new package of Boy Scout popcorn, and Bonehead refuses to argue with a 6 year old. So instead of arguing and insisting his way was right, he came into the living room to wait for the sad, slumpy be-bop of Smooch into the living room to admit that yes, in fact, Dad was right, and ask for help.

It never happened. Approximately 45 seconds after Bonehead sat down, we heard the crinkle crinkle crinkle of the plastic safety seal being slid down the can followed by a smug little “Got it, Dad.” To which dad muttered something like “Unbelievable” and then went to continue with the popcorn ritual shaking his head as he went.

However, I do believe Dad lost it in the car on Sunday. We were on the way to feed a friend’s fish- which is a 45 minute drive there and another 45 minute drive back. We finally broke down and purchased the new Fratelli’s CD, which Smooch had in the back seat with him. When Smooch asked if he could open the CD for us, Bonehead responded with a “Sure kid, knock yourself out.”

And sure enough there was another fwip fwip crinkle crinkle, and Smooch handed it up front with a “Here you go.”

This would be the point where Bonehead lost a little bit of his sanity. He looked at me incredulously and stated, “What the heck did we do, breed little birds of prey? It would have taken me 30 minutes a pocket knife AND a razor to get that packaging off. (And with a swooping of his hands towards the CD for the visual) Does our kid have freeking talons or something?”

Regardless, the CD was open and ready for our enjoyment, Bonehead had finally lost a bit of his sanity, Smoochie was playing his DS like nothing had ever happened, and I was giggling at the sheer madness of our family existence. Poor Critter. He has yet to discover what he’s been born into.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Great Couch Caper Part II

We live in a college town in Northern Illinois. When we gave our love seat and chair away, it went to the daughter of a co-worker of my husband. She happened to be moving into town for school this year, and needed what we were giving away for free.

And then we suffered our Great Couch Caper and have been dealing with a glider, a recliner, and a wingback chair in our living room.

Apparently, the sweet young adult we gave our furniture to had an issue with an ex boyfriend stalker, and her Dad pulled the plug on her having her own place for the semester in order to ensure her safety, which I completely agree with.

Unfortunately, Bonehead hadn’t shared the couch caper with his co-worker in order to avoid making him feel bad for leaving us couchless. The last thing we wanted was to make him feel bad for our stupidity of not taking two seconds to pull out a measuring device.

They gave the love seat and chair to some other poor college student.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wondering Why There Are Post-it Notes On My Children's Foreheads?

I have been taken over by a foreign concept for me. It seems that as of recently, I have become quite forgetful. I have always baffled my mom because of my ability to remember things clearly and precisely. I can tell you the precise layout of the apartment we lived in when I was 5 years old. We lived there less than a year. I can tell you the year and date we moved to Illinois from Michigan when I was fifteen. I can tell you the number of the license plate that sat on my mom’s car up until she moved to Florida 2 ½ years ago.

But all of the sudden, I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. I have heard of baby brain, when the birth of a child seems to suck the memory from within your frazzled grasp, but I never expected it to happen to me. Especially because I was completely not affected in this matter with my first little bundle of joy. I am beginning to wonder if the memory loss is directly related to the fact that I am rarely able to get more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep. Sometimes I get less than an hour.

Regardless of the reason for my forgetfulness, here are some things I have forgotten like a total space cadet in the past week alone.

* I forgot the recipe for cleaning out a slow moving drain pipe is (and I’m forgetting it again as I type, too) BAKING SODA and vinegar, not flour and vinegar. Unfortunately, I remembered only after stuffing ½ cup of flour down the drain in my bathroom sink. I’ve had some real “duh” moments lately, and I wish I could say that takes the cake. But I’m not so sure.

* I forgot to pack my son’s lunch last week and failed to realize it until I was sending him out the door to the bus stop. And not in an “Oh, before he leaves this morning, Chas, you’ve got to get his lunch packed” kind of way. I didn’t think of it earlier and then forget. What I did was worse than that. I just plain never thought of the word lunch in my morning. Thank goodness for the few dollars we still had in his hot lunch fund from last year. Poor Smooch had to deal with mom’s failures and suck it up and have pizza at school. I feel guilty for causing him such suffering.

* I forgot I had put a Diet Doctor Pepper in the freezer to accelerate its cool down factor. Once again, I didn’t put it in there and then forget about it. I DO NOT REMEMBER EVEN PUTTING IT IN THE FREEZER. Am I developing multiple personality disorder? I’ve been trying to clean the aftermath from my freezer for several days now.

* I forgot to pick up some items my husband specifically asked me for at the grocery store. Then when I went back to get them, (there were 4 items on my mental list) I forgot 2 of those forgotten items.

* I am forgetting words as well, which is horrendous for me. For example, I am making out the grocery list, and I can’t pull up the words cottage cheese. I’m picturing it in my mind, the little red snack size cups, it’s white, has curds, it’s gross, but hubby likes it, what the heck is that stuff?

There are more forgotten moments, but these are the highlights. Baby Brain? Visits from memory sucking aliens? Too many consecutive REM sleep interruptions? Whatever it is, I sure hope it fixes itself soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Photo Shoot

I caught Critter in a good mood this afternoon, and since my mom was just hinting that I hadn't included any Critter pics in a while, I made a mad ninja dash for the camera before the moment slipped away. For once, Critter was more than happy to be the subject of his very own photo shoot. He hammed it up nicely.

At first he was a little self conscious in front of the lense...

But after a while he began to relax and look more natural. (As natural as a deer in the headlights can look, anyway)

Hey, Critter, what does trouble look like?

No, no, that's what a Cabbage Patch Kid looks like.

Now THATS what trouble looks like.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Melancholy Chasing Color

As the shroud of gray descends upon the season to hug it close like an old friend, I try to comfort myself with the knowledge of the brighter moments that will seep in. It is September now, and the weather shifts quickly like a fly in motion. Most of the time on the path to winter and solitude, but not without the stray brightness of a moment in the fall.

Without fail, September triggers the melancholy side of me. When the month first appears, its wet grayness seems to speak to me as nothing more than a mere whisper of an errant gloomy day or two. But as the month progresses and rolls into the next, the volume quickly crescendos to a roar through my veins. It speaks to me of the promise of winter, full of blinding lonely white days and long velvety black nights. It pulls me in and holds me close in the embrace of damp gray.

I try to remind myself of the brilliant mood of fall that will find me soon. I love the world after the leaves have changed. Outside when the air has lost the sticky claustrophobic feel of August, I can relish its cool crispness like apple juice through a straw. I can drink in through my eyes the oranges and the yellows, with magentas and russets providing crisp contrast in the beautiful canvas of trees.

These moments, when the color washes over me and the tart air fills my lungs, are my favorite moments of the year. I am sure it is because on each side of the moment, it is flanked by gray, making the colorful beauty pop to my soul. It is nature at her finest, walking her runway with pride and regal beauty.

And though it is gray now, I hold my breath in anticipation of the moment to come. I will wait with patience barely contained, for I know when it arrives, I will need to drink in enough melancholy chasing color to last another full year.

*This post was created with the intention of entering September's Write Away Contest hosted by Scribbit. Once again, win or loose, I had fun. So much fun, in fact, I didn't even procrastinate until the deadline, which is very, very uncharacteristic of me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where've I been?

I realized today that I know when I've been neglecting my blog by the following hint: My mom asked me if I was going to update my blog soon. I then realized it has been almost a week since my last post. But then again, how do you top the Great Couch Caper? I decided I'd just go with yet another list ( I am a big list person and Bonehead gives me all kinds of grief about that fact) to fill you in on what I've been up to in the past week.

1. I've been spending a large amount of time trying to figure out why my pinkie toenails grow so much faster than the others.

2. I've been busy reading 58 pages of the book I bought last Saturday. One. Paragraph. At. A. Time.

3. Apparently I've been busy teaching Critter how to shove his binky in MY mouth in order to shut ME up.

4. I attended a hog roast with the best grilled corn I've had all summer.

5. I've been avoiding exercise with a stubbornness usually only reserved for things my husband wants me to do.

6. I've been busy watching the house on the corner get re-sided by people who should have put the power tools away BEFORE cracking open the beer.

7. I've been busy un-clogging the drain I accidentaly filled with dough.

8. I've been busy folding laundry and hoping it puts its self away.

9. I spent some time in Wal-Mart listening to the echo where the juice boxes are supposed to be.

10. I've been busy changing some very unfriendly diapers.