Thursday, March 31, 2011

Body Issues

Anyone who knows me knows that I so very much love going to the gym. It's my place of respite from my everyday reality. I get to go there for as many as 2 hours a day to get a break from my kids, release my frustrations, get my endorphins pumping, and try to work off the wine and the excessive amounts of food I ingest. I know that if I'm having a crappy day where nothing seems to be going my way, a good round of strength training and 30 minutes of level 14 on the stair climber will set me straight. I may smell and look a sweaty, hot mess by the time I'm done, but I feel absolutely fabulous.

When I was in high school, I was in serious good shape. I had no problem slipping into a size 2 or 4 back in those days. I ran and played sports and was always on a diet (huh, Mom?). However, the first couple years of college really took me down a beer-belly trail of yuckiness. I may have been able to funnel the heck out of Natural Light, but it didn't look naturally light on my booty after a semester. Some people gain the 'freshmen 15.' I gained the 'freshmen 40.' It wasn't pretty, folks. I never really lost my ability to keep up with the cardio, but I didn't do cardio the way you have to if you're gonna look like you do.
The weight didn't necessarily stay on the whole time before I had my Ella, but I didn't have a regular routine for exercise either. So, when I got pregnant with her, I wasn't a stellar example of a mommy-to-be who kept the weight gain to a minimum. Eating for 2 turned into eating for 2 or 3. In fact, I put on a good 35 pounds with my little girl, and for someone who's 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inches tall, there's not many other places for 35 LBs to go. Unless you consider my hind end a region of the world. Even though she was 8 pounds and 13 ounces, that still left a lot of junk in my trunk when she exited my uterus.
After my sweet baby girl was born, I decided that I had to eliminate the new planet that my body had become, and I turned to running and yoga to work it off. And, I fell in love with it. When I was pregnant with my Summit, I ran right up until I was 36 weeks pregnant. I felt great and I only gained 18 pounds with him. (It may have also helped that I threw up every single day until he was born.) He was an 8 and a half pound new born, so I didn't have so much extra weight to rid myself of.
Now, you must understand, I have the genetic body type of my dad's side of the family, which is sorta thick, so I'm not some thin, muscular-looking chick. Thanks to these fat genes (not jeans), I have to work out as much as I can to look somewhat normal. And, I have been known to get pretty jealous of the skinny bitches who flaunt their six-pack abs at the gym.

But, today, when these 2 playboy-model-looking girls bared their overly-tanned, overly-tattooed midsections at Gold's, my green-eyed emotions didn't stir. First, I wondered if Charlie Sheen's goddesses were doing a Southern tour, and it seemed if they weren't Charlie's, that they had their own bodies of work that the fellas at the gym were familiar with. Seriously, these guys were ludicrously following these 2 would-be Penthouse pinups around and around. I haven't seen so much rubber-necking since the last time I was on I-26.

Maybe the lack of malelovence that I would typically have for such girls was quelled by the fact that I have my babies. These broads clearly had never had anything inside of them for a 9-month span. (Maybe for a 9-minute romp somewhere. Sorry. I know that wasn't nice.) But, I have my little ones... and the body to prove it. They love me exactly as I am, and I know I'm beautiful in their eyes. I'm not a dump truck, but I'm not perfect by any standards, and, withstanding some help from Dr. 90210, I won't be flashing a chiseled tummy anytime soon. In fact, I've come to regard the fluff in my stomach as a life-long companion, tried and true.
Regardless, I'm in pretty good shape and I can keep up with my kids, which, for me, is the most imporant thing right now. Would I like to drop some extra baggage? Of course. What woman wouldn't? But, I'm all good with myself, and I like the way that feels.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

bug season

i love spring. i love it. even though i despise the spooky storms, i adore this time of year. we've been over this before. matt, though he likes the reawakening of spring, cannot stand the pollen. it's never bothered me... i always assumed that it was because i grew up in the south. when i was little, i thought those commercials hocking allergy drugs were for old people with hay fever. and i thought hay fever was just a virus for old folks. for some reason, though i have always been sure i could catch anything... ranging from deadly poisonous illnesses from poinsettia plants to broken bones to mad cow disease... just from seeing advertisements for medicine on billboards, i never was worried about hay fever. go figure. my mom gets terrible allergies, too, and she and matt just suffer through this time of year. unlike me, they h.e.a.r.t. the storms because they wash away the awful pollen. c'est la vie.
the kids love this time of year just as much as i do. they aren't bothered by the yellow mist that coats the world in the spring. they're just so excited to be outdoors, enjoying the sun and playing as hard as they can. and, thank goodness they play so hard. it makes it much easier to put them to bed at day's end. and what mother doesn't want that?

one of my kids' favorite things to do this time of year is to search for critters. slimy, crawly, hopping critters. critters with lots of legs. critters that slither. critters that fly. when i was little, i didn't mind them at all. my brothers and i used to love digging them up and playing with them and, much to her dismay, scaring the bejesus out of my mother with them. i'm pretty sure that kent and john wesley would set snakes loose in the house just to torment my poor mother. sorry, mom. you didn't deserve that.
well, now those shenanigans have found their way back to me. my ella and summit so love to catch a bug or worm or something and "share" their treasures with me. they think they have my number on this, but, from watching my mom's reaction to having bugs placed in the back of her shirt, i know how to handle my kids. i know how not to react to their trickery.
so i just take pictures. i am amazed that my little girl will so willingly seek out and grab hold of any insect that crosses her path. she loves it, though, and it reminds me of when i was a little girl and i'd go fishing with my dad. we'd search for earth worms, and he'd show me how to bait the hooks. i always thought it was cool to squish all of the guts out before piercing their bodies with the hooks. and after we'd clean a fish, i always made sure to keep the eyes to play with later on. that's gross, i know.
and now my kids do much of the same thing. ella and summit catch the bugs, examine them, maybe kill them (please don't tell peta), maybe store them in a bug box, but they always play with them. that's cool with me. i think it's great that they love to learn about the earth, and the smallest creatures are awesome starting points. bug season is like a great, big science fair.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bosses of Me

The more that time passes by, the more I absolutely abhor Mondays and mornings. Mix Mondays and mornings together, and there is a downright sense of disgust that seethes from my pores when that wretched alarm sounds off at 6.20 in the am. It's even getting to the point that I don't care much for Sundays anymore because I know what's lurking around the bend of the passing of the weekend. Seriously, sometimes Sundays make me want to cry.
And arrive, spiteful Monday and it's evil sidekick morning do, and there's nothing that anyone can do to stop them. They're the bosses of me, of anyone with kids and/or jobs. We're helpless against their powers, and they mercilessly thrust us into another week of relentless absurdity. Mad dashes around town and up and down the interstate. Work. Trips to the market. Meals and the messes they make. School, homework, practices, games. Bed-making. Serious clothes-wearing. As always, there are any number of endless responsibilities that follow mean old Monday and that witch morning.

Usually, after 3 cups of steaming coffee and the unavoidable movement which accompanies hitting the ground running, I get into a groove. My bed stops singing it's siren song to me and my forward progress makes greater strides. I shoo Ella and Matt out the door and get Summit and his lunch ready for preschool. I dress for work and proceed with my day. And, as it turns out, it's not as bad as my body just knew it would be to leave the warmth and coziness of the best blanket and pillows that the world has ever known.

After all, I like my job teaching a couple of courses at Midlands Technical College, and I love my lunch break at Panera in between my first and second class. I enjoy picking the kids up from school and the sitter and I relish hearing about what they did throughout their days.

And every Monday afternoon, I meet my dad up at the gym for an ass-kicking spinning class with Chrystyne. She's a beast of an instructor and I know that her workout is going to make me want to do a number of things ranging from crying to throwing up to swearing a great deal. It's that good. Like today, I got to work off the many coconut macaroons that I inhaled this past weekend, and I feel much better now. Today's class was so wonderful that even my dad was cussing. But he should be, considering he'd skipped out on her classes for 2 weeks and he ate an ENTIRE bag of Sweet Sixteen chocolate donuts yesterday afternoon. That's what you get, Dad.
After the gym, I feel rejuvenated and empowered. I go home and return to the unremitting list of things to do, but they don't seem as bad. The homework and the cooking and the cleaning are much more bearable. And at the end of it all, when I've conquered the day, and I have another week until I have to once again meet Monday and its gross friend morning, I find myself feeling alright and I don't even mind Tuesday.

Hey! Maybe Tuesday is my new favorite day of the week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Expressions of Ella

Recently, my Ella had a sample of her work from school honored at a district-wide art show. Her first art show - well, technically not 'hers,' because several students from all of the schools had their art displayed at the event, but to my girl, this was her first art show. And, I let her own that thought, because it's so important to build self-esteem in little people.

I remember the day she found out that her applique work would be in the show at Irmo Public Library. She was giddily grinning from ear to ear when I picked her up from school. (I thought the favorite boy in her class had told her he liked her handwriting again; her smile was that big.) She excitedly pulled out the invitation that notified parents and students of the good news, and did a little dance before placing it into my hands. I was so excited for her, and I couldn't wait to see what she had created.
Monday, March 14th was the big day. Ella, Summit, and I met her daddy, Popi, and Babi at the library, and found her beautiful artwork and took her proud picture beside the lovely applique that she had made in Ms. Crocker's art class. It was a rectangular piece of black burlap with a pink stitch around the edges. The burlap was decorated with small felt hearts and flowers that she had cut out and applied to the fabric to make a sweet design. Of course, I thought it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen!
Since she was able to hold a crayon, my Ella has been making pictures. She loves painting, drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing, designing. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that her first outing was to a Dr. Seuss exhibit at a gallery in Wilmington when she was a mere 3 weeks old. She's far more creative at 6 than I could ever hope to be at 28 (ha ha). This is something she gets from her daddy. I probably have 8 large tupperware containers full of her artwork that I can't bring myself to throw away. This is one thing that I refuse to relinquish... my kids' artwork. Even Summit's. He's not quite as into drawing and such as his big sister, and, based on the "picture" of his I saw in his class the other day, he's not as adept. At first glance, I thought his lack of, shall we say, ability may be a sign of a problem, so I made him draw a stick person to ensure he didn't need to be evaluated.
And Ella has the carefree, fantastical, flighty artist thing going on, too. Girlfriend does not care about the linear, logical nature of things. She's not so concerned with cleanliness or order. She doesn't care if her clothes match or if her hair is brushed. She'll walk around with paint on her shirt and pants, in her hair, under her fingernails as if that's where it belongs. If she gets inspired to draw, she can't stop. And if you make her, then the world must certainly have ended, and gloom and doom descend upon our reality.
One of her favorite pastimes is making pictures for us - for her friends and family - and she's always so excited to share her latest masterpieces. Mostly, she draws girls in dresses, flowers, hearts with arrows through them, the sun, the ocean, and peace signs (I'm raising a liberal, people). She's a dreamer, my Ella, a whimsical dreamer with a relentless desire to paint and draw. This is how she tells stories, uses her imagination, shares her spirit, shows her love. I love how she shows her love. It's just perfect.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It was a revolution.

On Monday night, a legend came to the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC. He announced his plans a mere week and a half before he took the stage. Tickets went on sale a short week before the show. People all around the state were vying for tickets as soon as they were available. But, we got 'em. We got the tickets. And we were stoked.

Before the show, we stopped in at Liberty Tap Room for drinks, and you'd have thought that someone puked purple, glitter, and sequins all over the 40+ age group of women (and some men) in town. The place was packed with middle-aged ladies decked in feather boas and violet jewels and tiaras. Women in belly-baring shirts (that most of them had no business wearing). Really, the level of style reverted back to the 80s, when people loved big bangs and mismatched patterns and Olivia Newton John...when everyone was ready to party like it was 1999. And, in this city, where everyone wears their church-going natures like badges of honor, and hides their love for debaucherous fun like Mormons pretending not to drink caffeinated beverages, you had to wonder what these people were doing out in public, showing off their wild sides. It was quite a spectacle of mayhem, the level of excitement and anticipation for this artist. It was awesome!
We arrived at the arena just when the opening act was finishing up. I don't even know who they were. Did it really matter? Absolutely not. We weren't there to see them.

The first thing that attracted attention was the stage. The massive stage that was shaped in the symbol which the artist changed his name to in the early 90s, when he became 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.' It was incredible. Lights traced the whole thing and it took up almost an entire basketball court. Immediately, it was obvious that this was not a show to be reckoned with. This was something unlike anything Columbia has ever seen.
Logo. Hollow circle above downward arrow crossed with a curlicued horn-shaped symbol and then a short bar
And then, he came out. Or should I say, rose up. He was rose up out of the center of the stage, with smoke and purple flashing lights to the screams of thousands of concert-goers. In all of his glory and flashiest costume, he was relinquished onto the stage like the messiah of 80s music that he is. And there he was: Prince. And he hadn't aged a day since he first busted onto the pop scene when he recorded Little Red Corvette. Damn. With silky smooth skin, beautiful hair, and a lithe, fit figure, he was a testament to either good plastic surgery or amazing genes. So, he did his thing. He wowed the crowd with his crazy dancing shenanigans and rapturous voice, which he honestly keeps in tip-top condition. I have no idea how that little fella ran, twirled, and jumped around the stage like that and managed not to miss a beat to any song. He's a true artist, my friends, a true artist. He was dazzling and sparkly and beautiful.
And as he sang, I was taken back to my days at Red Wing Roller Rink. I remembered suicide fountain drinks, shooting the duck, jelly bracelets, and Pac Man. I remembered his MTV video for 1999. I remembered 16 Candles and A Nightmare on Elm Street. I remembered friendship beads and parachute pants. Jams and shirts that hung off the shoulder. Hair spray and blue eye shadow. Man, those were the days. The level of tacky was irreplaceable and outstanding and carefree.
People didn't seem quite so uptight back then. And on the night of March 21, 2011, people in this town lost some of their inhibitied and pretentious nature. They let loose and didn't care who saw them shaking their groove thangs or singing at the top of their lungs to some of the best songs the world has ever, and will ever, know. It was a revolution in a town that definitely could use a little easing of modesty. So, thanks, Prince. You should come back more often.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Fear

So, yesterday I was talking about the love that I have for Spring, but I think it would be unfair not to mention the incredible fear that I have for Spring, too. It's not the pollen or the bajillion may flies that flock to our house, and, which thanks to Matt's and the kids' bizarre refusal to shut the damn door, move in with us. It's not the snakes that come out to play or even the mosquitoes which relish every part of me (I know that eventually one of those suckers is going to have my lucky malaria lottery ticket. My odds can only be increasing).
My biggest fear about this time of year comes from the scary storms that move in from the West. I'm a total freak about it. I love the rain and I don't mind the thunder and the lightning, but in South Carolina, we get some monster storms in March and April. Storms that bring 60-mile-an-hour winds. Storms that produce large hail and lightning that strikes down power lines and trees. Storms that bring one of my biggest phobias: tornadoes. Oh. Emm. Gee. It's pretty much a neurotic state of mind, the depth of fear I have for tornadoes. I hate hate hate tornado watches and warnings. With a passion. I get You'd think we lived in Tornado Alley in the Midwest. But those people have storm shelters. We don't. I feel vulnerable and unsafe, and I get more uptight than Sarah Palin at a Democratic Party rally where people are speaking in support of gun restrictions.
Every time we get a watch or a warning, I'm glued to the news, waiting to see when the storm will hit, where the potential activity for cells are, and their proximity to us. In an instant, I become Al Roker from the Today Show. I pace around, check the sky for swirling activity and any sign of an eerie, foreboding color... as if I really know what to look for. I'm taken back to tornado drills in elementary school and I remember all of the rules for protection in tornadoes. I open a window in each room to release the pressure so no windows blow out. I always put all of the pillows and heavy blankets in the hall bathroom, which I hope is the safest place to be, and make the kids and Toto Mercy Lou hang out in there, and I don't care if they have to be in there for hours. Tough. Seriously, these things are no joking matter.
And when I see my neighbors hanging out on the front porch yucking it up with cold beer in hand and enjoying the storm, I think they must be out of their flipping minds. I want to yell to them, "A twister is comin'! A twister is comin'! Take cover!"
I just know that a tornado is around the bend, and I have visions of the houses being lifted into the sky ala The Wizard of Oz. Though, unlike Dorothy and Toto, I don't imagine we'd actually skip along the Yellow Brick Road and meet the Lollipop Gang. No no. When the sky turns as green as the Wicked Witch of the West, I do have visions that are better aligned with being arrested to the top of the mountain where her castle was perched and being harrassed by those creepy flying monkeys. Oh, yeah, tornado warnings just cackle, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" Poor Mercy Lou.

So, there you have it, folks. The fear is ridiculous, yes, but I do what I gotta do to get by. Despite the fact that managing my insane state-of-mind during the crazy Spring storms can be a full-time job, I still totally love this time of year. I know that the rain brings the green, and that makes the awful storms more bearable.
Just, please, Mr. Tornado, please do not come to my house. You are not welcome here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome home, Spring!

Today is the first official day of Spring! Ohhh, how I love this time of year. I love the newness of things. I love the little buds of leaves and flowers peeping their tiny green selves out of the grayish-brown stalks and branches that crave to be covered in life and beauty and color. I love the re-awakening of nature.
Oh, I am in love with this time of year. I love the birds returning to their homes and the babies that hatch from their nests. I love the brand new life that Spring sets forth.
I love the warmth that beckons us to retreat from our hibernating dens and let the sun shine down upon our pale faces. I so enjoy planning for the vibrant flowers that will adorn all of my planters. I get excited knowing that soon, very soon, my hands and fingernails will be caked with black soil, and it doesn't bother me that I'll be scraping it off for days afterwards. I know most people use gloves to plant, but I do not. I love the feeling of the dirt on my skin, and I love how I look when I see myself in the mirror and it's streaking my sweaty, sunny face and arms. I feel refreshed and alive.
It makes me so happy to see my kids running around outside, asking if they can help. Because I am extremely particular about how my planters look (some might call this OCD or controlling... whatever), we'll get the kids their own plants and give them a couple of planters or spots in the yard where they can tend to their flowers. I love teaching them about nurturing plants and how important it is to appreciate nature, how to recognize the artistry that the earth creates for us to enjoy, and how it sustains us. Summit hasn't been so into this in the past, but I am sure he'll jump on the bandwagon as soon as he sees his sister doing it. (I have no doubt in my mind that they'll fight over it, too. Ha!)
Every year, Matt grows a garden, and the kids love helping to germinate the seeds and plant the vegetables in the ground. They get to see how food grows and what it looks like when it's ready to pick. They learn that they can eat the things that they produce with their own hands, that they don't have to go to the market to get all of their food. And, it encourages them to eat vegetables more, which is really freaking important for Summit, who thinks that green candy is a vegetable and red candy is a fruit.
 Ohhh... so much goodness comes out of this time of year. There are so many ways to grow and change and wipe our slates clean. Most people think of New Year's as a time to make resolutions, but this is my time to regenerate myself. I see how my legs could use a little exercise, how my stomach won't like the bathing suit that I just bought. I see things to clean and remember how much there is to do outside of my house, outside of myself. We get new chances to interact with people and nature. We get to re-introduce ourselves to the earth, and she returns the favor in kind.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How long is it gonna last?

Last night, like most people across the United States revelling in the fun that is St. Patrick's Day, I partied like an Irish rockstar cleaned out the garage. This was something that was long overdue. The garage is traditionally Matt's business, his stomping ground, but that guy had seriously let it go. If you were to compare garages to people, well you could say that the state of this garage was like a homeless bum who'd been sleeping in gutters covered in leaves for warmth and who'd for decades hoarded everything from every Lowe's dumpster in the state of South Carolina.
This thing was atrocious. Tools were spread haphazardly about the entire 2-car space, despite the fact that they have clearly defined and marked homes to live in. The tool bench was piled high with everything from a cheese dip lid to a broken chalkboard to clipboards to sweatshirts to mountains of tools. They all have places, the husband would say... okay... why aren't they where they belong? By 'places' he must mean right there on the tool table, on top of each other. The space beneath the stairs for the camping gear was packed with a wall of I don't know what covered by drop cloths and tarps and spiders and cobwebs. A bike, topped with planters, was jammed between the shopsmith and the wall. Huh. There is enough scrap wood from our addition, which was completed four years ago, to rebuild the city of New Orleans.
VHS Doc Watson movies, socks, a cookie jar, juggling pins, lamp bases, a wooden snowman, a horseshoe set, snowboards, hats, magnadoodles, gourds, a broken hoola hoop. Anything you might find at a hoarding convention... it was in our garage. Dear Jesus. When did Sanford and his son move in?
And so I organized and threw stuff away and swept. I swept up the nails and the corn husks (I know what you're thinking, I thought the same thing), the dry wall dust and the spider webs, the papers and the leaves. Oh yeah. The leaves. I swear to goodness there were leaves littering that garage floor from 1984 and before. Petrified leaves. Hell, petrified trash. There was so much dirt and pieces of stuff ALL OVER the floor. Seriously. I'm pretty sure I swept a family of Irish immigrants out of one corner. They were reluctant to leave, but I wrenched them from their stronghold. And as I was sweeping, I started forming questions. Mainly, "Are you kidding me?"
Other questions:
Why are jumper cables hanging on the wall with the extension cords? Shouldn't they be in the car?
Why do we have enough wood glue to put Noah's Ark together?
Why do we have more caulk than Lowe's? Are we wholesalers for them?
What is this?
What is that?
Seriously, what is that?
Do you dehydrate bananas with the peels on them? No? Then explain this.  
In the end, I got it all worked out. Everything is in it's place, and I now can find anything that I may need from the garage. It's orderly and safe and I don't mind going in there. I've even gone into the garage just because I can, because it doesn't give me a panic attack to look at it anymore. And as I type this and reflect over the process of cleaning and organizing that space, I can't help but form another question.
How long is it gonna last?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lesson Learned: Adventure on the Uncompahgre Plateau

Back in the days when cell phones were newish and GPS systems were but a figment of everyday travelers' imaginations, I took a trip. A trip where cell phone coverage and GPS systems would have come in quite handy.

When I first moved to Utah, I didn't take a car with me, but when I realized how freaking far away from anything where I lived was, it quickly became evident that a car was a vital necessity, so I hopped a plane back to South Carolina to pick up my reliable Honda Accord. Not trusting my solo driving skills for a jaunt across the country, my parents commissioned their favorite good boy, Stewart, to make the trek with me. They pushed a cell phone into my hands, gave me kisses and hugs, and sent us on our way. After taking Stewie around the Grand Canyon and showing him where I laid my head in the desert, I drove him to the airport in Denver, which was still about 7 hours from my digs in Utah. But I had to drive through Crested Butte, CO on the way back to check out places to live for the winter, so it wasn't that much out of my way. Well, the way there wasn't but my drive back ended up taking about 7 hours longer than it should have.

Why? Well, since I had just come off a semester-long course with Outward Bound, I thought I had some stellar map-reading skills, and I thought I could cut my trip by a couple of hours if I went off the beaten always taken path of well-established highways. Being the intelligent clueless map reader that I was, I didn't stop to consider what the different lines for the roads meant. Note to self: lines which indicate highways and regular roads are far different from those that indicate non-maintained roads or "other" roads or foot paths or boundaries. Oh yes. Outward Bound taught me to read topographic maps. NOT road maps.
Armed with ignorance, when I got to the spot in Montrose, CO where I should have stayed on Highway 50 and continued to Interstate 70 in Grand Junction, I chose the path less taken. (Thanks Robert Frost.) And, let me tell you something about Honda Accords: they aren't for those kinds of paths. At all. But, there I went. Farther and farther. Making turns off of each "path" I was on. And by path, I mean ravines, washed out, washboard dirt and rock boulder pits with cows milling about. Paths with steep inclines. Paths that kept turning into each other. Paths that over-looked massive cliffs. Paths where no one in their right mind would drive. I somehow ended up on what I now know to be the Uncompahgre Plateau. Folks, while it might be stunningly beautiful and scenic and all that, when you are scared out of your mind, it's not pretty. It looks like dehydration and starvation and animal mauling and fiery crashes to one's death. Even the cows looked frightening. They morphed from sweet mooing farm creatures into vicious, sharp-teethed attackers in an instant.
Luckily, I had my cell phone, right? Wrong. Signals aren't good out there now; 14 years ago, they were practically non-existent. When I finally got a signal, I called my parents and my mother answered the phone. I frantically told her my predicament before my phone dropped the call. Great. For her it was worse, because she's already a lunatic about her kids' safety, and I promised not to do anything stupid. Ha! I kept trying to call and anytime I'd get through for a second, I'd hear my mom's terrified voice calling my name right before the phone would cut out. I will pay for this in spades with my own kids, I know.
When I got into the wilderness area, it was daylight, and I had a full tank of gas. I thought that I'd eventually find my way out. Well, since the road wasn't a road and because the cows were all over the path, hours kept passing by and I kept going farther and farther into nowhwere. Eventually, the sun turned out the lights and I couldn't see anything at all. I didn't know where the road was. I didn't know if the hill I was driving up would continue to have the path or if the path would end and I would end up falling 600 feet to my death, and I wasn't in the mood for any of that Thelma and Louise crap. Especially since I didn't have a Louise with me.
Somehow, somehow, somehow, several hours after spinning in circles on that damn plateau, I found a more established path without cows, which, thank God, led to an even more established road, which led me right back to where I started in Montrose. Really, I couldn't even find myself closer to Grand Junction after all that mess? I called my mom immediately, who by that point was about to call the police, the National Park Service, and the National Guard to find me, and she looked up a hotel in the area for me to rest my weary head for the night.

I feel pretty lucky to have made it out of there alive. I mean, seriously, I could have flown off the plateau in the car. I don't know how I didn't bust all of my tires on the sharp rocks and find myself stranded out there. So many things could have happened, and I know how lucky I am for them not to have. Talk about a lesson learned. And here's what I know about that now: NEVER, Ella and Summit, will you EVER do anything like that. Wherever you go, I go. I know too much.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No dance, but that's alright with me.

When my Ella was 4, I signed her up for ballet and tap lessons at the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. I'll admit that part of me made her do it because I was hoping to live vicariously through her. I wanted her to be the ballerina that I never could become. I wanted her to wear the cool tights and leotards that the ladies of dance wear. I wanted her to have the leg warmers and the ballet slippers, the tap shoes and the sparkly costumes. I wanted her to learn the grace and balance and movements and posture that those dancers embody. I dreamed about her confidently leaping and twirling across the stage and holding her head high when roses were tossed at her feet. I wanted her to DANCE.
But she hated.every.second. Truly every.second. The Conservatory instructor wasn't exactly all warm and fuzzy. She didn't smile at the kids; she was strict and severe. She didn't offer the encouragement and praise that I would, that I was expecting. She even made me nervous. She was a professional dancer, and she trained these kids to do the same things she had done. Every time I took Ella to class the process was a nightmare. She literally clawed the car trying to not get out. (I'm pretty sure that there are scratches on the outside of the vehicle.) I would unhook her carseat buckles, and she would latch them right back, begging me to not make her go inside. I would bribe her, threaten her, try to gently persuade her, to no avail. She was miserable. So, what did I do? I made her do it for another six months after the first season was over, hoping that another round of classes would work. And you know what? It didn't. I suppose it didn't help that the instructor wouldn't graduate the child to the next level in either class. But, I can't blame the teacher. Have I mentioned before that Ella has her dad's dance moves? And, I'm not trying to say that I have ANY rhythm. I don't. But, their's are worse than mine, and that says too much.
After dance, I entered my girl into gymnastics at Crooked Creek Park. The coach is a friend of mine from the gym, and she is all warm and fuzzy. This experience definitely trumped dance, but she was the oldest by a good bit, and she could tell. I was only trying to boost her confidence after the disaster that was ballet and tap, but she knew. Dang it. She always knows. Kids and their intuition.

Knowing that it's so important to stay active, I threw every idea in the book at her for extracurricular activities. Soccer? No. Karate? No. Basketball? No. Marinating in the adversity of the Conservatory, she was adamant to avoid any other supposed shenanigans that I could get her into. So, I gave her a break for the past Fall.
However, it was on in the Spring. When I was a little girl, my dad signed me up for recreation league softball, and I played until I graduated from high school. I loved it. Some people might say that all of us girls who didn't play fast-pitch in high school weren't good enough so we stayed in rec. Screw them, is what I'd say. We had so much fun. I didn't want to play with the high school girls. They were big. And scary. And they didn't care how their hair looked or if their shirts matched their cleats. Who wants to play with people that don't care about fashion? Not me, friends, not me.
So, I told Ella that she had no other choice. She'd eliminated all of the other activities. I signed her up for Coaches Pitch baseball a few weeks ago on the premise that her Popi and I would coach her team. We practiced a bit before regular practice began, and she really picked up on it quickly. We worked on her hitting and running to bases. Granted, she hits the ball, runs, and does a cartwheel before landing on the base, but whatever. At least she hits the ball. And she LOVES it.
There are 9 kids on the team, which is named The Thunder. My dad is really the coach and I'm more like the coordinator; the kids do have to match, after all. Luckily, I know most of the moms, so practices and games are fun mini social events for the parents. We had our first "game" last Saturday, and it was so cute. Regardless of the fact that 98% of our kids forgot to run after they hit the ball (and the other team was able to get nearly every one of our players out at first), the kids had a great time and I saw my Ella's confidence level go up. Seriously, she's pretty good.
She may not be a prima ballerina or the next Debbie Reynolds and I may not get to be the stage mom I thought I'd be, but my kid does have some athletic ability. This is gonna be a fun season!

Friday, March 11, 2011

boys are gross.

i don't understand little boys. i don't understand men, either, so should i be surprised that little boys freak me out on a regular basis? i don't get my dad or my brothers or matt or most of my guy friends. they eat like wild animals. they do things that seem irrational and strange. they say things that make me want to ask them what the hell they are thinking long before they let their odd bits of wisdom seep from their mouths. they don't listen to what we say... even when we've said it a billion and a half times before. do they ignore us or do they actually have hearing problems?
last night when i was folding and hanging laundry, i went to the closet to get some hangers for matt's clothes. in said closet, which i have organized and reorganized too many times to count (mostly matt's side), i saw, unsurprisingly, all of the unused hangers that he so helpfully put back on the rails NOT in the middle of the lower part of the closet where i have been placing the unused hangers for YEARS. rather, they were stuffed haphazardly throughout the hanging shirts and pants. and i know that he did it on purpose, because several of the hangers were hung backwards, which do NOT go in easily if you place them in such a manner. this is a small detail. i know this. but when you've dealt with the same small issue for what seems like centuries, you start to wonder... what the hell?

this is just like the tupperware cabinet in our kitchen. i like to have the containers neatly stacked and organized so that they ALL fit evenly and are easier to remove and replace. but i'll be damned if they ever are if I am not the one to unload the dishwasher. even after years of gentle encouragement to put the things back the proper way, my husband STILL can't do it. and so i wonder... what the hell?
and boys do gross stuff, too. they drip toothpaste all over clean sinks. they scatter beard shavings about the bathroom. they leave used boxer shorts everywhere except the hamper. when matt and i lived in wilmington, every day after work he would walk in the kitchen, take off his dirty socks, and place them on the kitchen table. what the hell? it seems that putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket would cause men to lose their super powers. like superman is to kryptonite, my husband is to being tidy.

neither do i understand the smells that boys create. (even if they don't admit that they make such smells, they think they're funny... bob.) all of the fellas in my life can clear a room in one small second. seriously, do they have different digestive systems than women? and, even odder, they LOVE the smell of the smells they create. my brothers, kent and john wesley, will fart and literally marinate in it. they'll cup their hands and try to waft the fart smell right up to their nose, as if they gain strength from the disgusting scents that they manifest. when we were little and on road trips, my dad would drop a bomb in the car and lock the windows so everyone had to experience the joy that was his flatulence. while we were gasping for air like victims of mustard gas with tears pouring out of our eyes, my dad would be laughing. what the hell?
so, should i be surprised that summit is just as gross? this kid, this 3 year old little boy, can fart on command. and not just little baby poots. big, long-winded, rumbling farts. from him. from my baby boy. and every time he does it, he gets the biggest smile on his face. like he just discovered a living dinosaur. and he can burp just the same. big, long-winded, rumbling, gutteral burps. and he loves every second. he laughs and laughs and laughs. big belly laughs. and because most of the men in his life think it's funny, they laugh along with him. and what does this do? it makes him think it's okay.
clearly, it's not, because he took his "talents" to school with him on wednesday. oh yes. and you know what he did with those talents? well, when i went to pick him up from school, ms. rita, his teacher, approached me with a stern face, and i was like, "oh no. what did he do?" because, literally, she has not once this year had anything bad to tell me about my summit. i even ask her if he does anything bad. i know it doesn't seem possible, but he hasn't had to go to time out once. well, that ALL changed on wednesday. he burped in his teacher's face. and laughed. oh. my. god. of course.

of course, that little son-of-a-gun was in BIG trouble. no ds. no books for bed. straight to time out at home. i was mortified. how could he do this? oh yeah. i remember. because boys are gross. but that buck stops here. but, first, i have to figure out how.