Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's genetic.

Today, we went to Ella's neurologist for a follow-up visit to discuss the medicine that she's been taking. I always enjoy meeting with Dr. Livingston. His disposition is very calming, and I appreciate that he never rushes us out of his office; he spends no less than an hour with us each visit, and he takes the time to address in detail all of our concerns. This afternoon, we were discussing genetic connections between family members with neurological abnormalities, among other topics. After we left the office, Matt had a meeting that E and I dropped him off at, which left the two of us with about 45 minutes to kill. 

As soon as Matt exited the car, a significant genetic connection of another kind than that which we spoke about with Dr. L. kicked in between Ella and me. What would we do with our brief amount of time? Shop, of course. We said it at exactly the same time. We probably thought it at exactly the same time. It's not like we had very long to get a bunch of shopping in, but that is never an issue. There's always time to spend money. ALWAYS. Then again, we must have some other genetic mutation that enhances our ability to power shop. 
I truly believe that there is a genetic component that predisposes someone to enjoy perusing stores (specifically those that sell clothes and shoes and purses and makeup). I know this because Ella is at least a 4th generation shopper. My grandma loved shopping. While my mother would point out that Grandmother liked garage sales, I would counter her with the fact that she lived through the Great Depression and had no choice but to be frugal. She still liked going to the mall and throwing down cash and, as she called it, her "master charge" at the drop of a hat. I saw the sparkle in her eye whenever she walked into JB White when I was a little girl. (For those of you who aren't in the know, JB White was a local department store here in Columbia. It's been replaced with Belk.)
I have also seen that sparkle, or should I say shooting stars and rainbows, in my mother's eyes whenever she goes to a.n.y. store whatsoever. Any. Store. Any. Homegirl loves to get her shop on. Loves. Stores are her happy place. I know for a fact that the notion that shopping produces endorphins is true because I've seen it work on my mom. Shopping is her element, and there is an aura about my mom when she's in her element. You can almost hear angels singing. (However, you do not hear my dad singing.) She moves with ease through all sections of a store. She knows what she wants, and it puts a spring in her step to just have the opportunity to run her eyes over her options. Michael Jordan is a natural basketball player. Roger Federer is a natural tennis player. My mom is a natural shopper. 
Unfortunately Fortunately Unfortunately Whatever She's passed her Olympic-sized spending abilities on to me. I may not go as often as she does... because I don't have as big of a financial resource as she... but when I get into a store, I feel completely at home. I feel safe and welcome and ready to get down to business and I never ever want to leave. And, like my mom, I can find that comfort at just about any store. Well, almost any; I do have a slightly unfounded sense of snobbery when it comes to some places. I'm not sure where this comes from, but I swear it's innate. I'm not proud of it, so don't judge me. 

So, that brings us to my Ella. I have seen this sense of indulgence for shopping blossoming in her for a long time. She loves it. Very much. She skips through the aisles and makes sounds like "Ooooooh" and "Ahhhhhhh" and says stuff like, "Oh this is soooo adorable!" and "This would look so cute on me!" in high-pitched squeals of excitement. Yeah. She's a natural. 
From experience, I know two things about this genetic mutation. #1: Matt and I better start making a bunch of money.  #2: It doesn't go away. But, how could it? It's hereditary. And you can't fault anyone for that.

Junk Food for My Soul

In my humble, perhaps misguided, and probably greatly-contested opinion, some of the most brilliant minds in recent history aren't those belonging to the disciplines of science or technology. Oh no. I totally give those props to the geniuses who developed and implemented the world of reality television. There is something magical and entrancing about watching real people living their existences right from the comforts of my own home. Oh, how I love reality TV. L.O.V.E. A million times over. Though, I must admit, I can't bring myself to watch "Jersey Shore" or "16 and Pregnant," and I'm not really into those shows that people can lose or get voted off. I like shows where everyone is a winner... if only in their own minds. You know, like Charlie Sheen.
Some people take valium or xanax to unwind and control their anxiety. Not me. All I need are some episodes of whatever Real Housewives I have in my DVR catalog. That's it. That's all. They relax me. Calm my nerves. Center me. I'm completely fascinated by the seemingly utter lack of inhibition these people have with regard to allowing cameras to film their every move. From shopping to eating to bathing to fighting to loving... I just don't know how they do it. But, I'm sure glad that they do.
Right now, the mad scientist of Bravo, Andy Cohen, has the network featuring the New York City housewives. A big shout-out to Andy, because there's so much to be thankful for with this season. I'm appreciative for Ramona's willingness to slam no less than 2 bottles of Pinot Grigio right in front of the camera and call out the Countess for her high and mighty behavior. I love that Countess LuAnn doesn't give a rat's ass that she acts like she's better than everyone else and that she really believes that she isn't tone deaf and that she thinks songs like "Money Can't Buy You Class" are catchy and good. I totally relish the moments where Kelly shows her true lunatic colors and absolutely doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Of course, there are Simon and Alex, who need no explanation. And we certainly can't forget the awesomeness that is Sonja Morgan, who truly enjoys and openly shares her whackadoodle perspective from the men she, um, 'entertains' to the "what the hell?" idea that is her toaster oven cookbook.
And, every time I watch these women in action, a warm rush of endorphins fills my brain, and I'm pretty sure the deep-thinking parts shut down to protect themselves. Almost instantly, my crazy seems normal by comparison. All of a sudden, I'm an amazing mother and wife. I'm grounded and well-rounded. I'm intelligent and thoughtful. I feel goooooood. I'm not the mother sitting her kids down to explain that I've decided to strip down and show my lady parts to the whole world for Playboy (by the way, I'm aware that nobody wants to see me without my shoes on, much less sans clothes). I'm not the friend who goes on national television to bash her best pals behind their backs (which begs the question: Don't they know that the woman who's bearing the brunt of the criticism can see and hear and will watch the show on TV? Jill Zarin?). If these people can walk around and think that what they do and say is all good, then I have nothing to worry about. Right? Right?
So, I appreciate my moments with reality TV. Don't get me wrong. I know there are other stress relievers. I exercise. I read. I garden. I do other stuff. I got it. But, lots of people do all that other stuff and medicate their brains. Well, reality television is my medicine. It's junk food for my soul. And I adore it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Big Day in the Big Apple

Monday began early. Like, really early. Like, sunrise early. I'm not a fan of early. I don't like arriving to places early... or rather, I can't arrive early. I don't like getting up early... or rather, I can't get up early. I abhor alarm clocks that beckon me out of sleep before my body naturally awakens. Early and me aren't typically friends. In this regard, I'm not usually a fan of Summit in the mornings, who goes along with early like peaches go along with cream. I still love him, of course, but his early morning energy drives me bonkers. Yesterday, though, it was almost needed to remind me to get moving with the first light of day as we had a date with one of the greatest cities in the world.
We boarded the packed train in Katonah with the other commuters into the city. There were three seats in a grouping of 4 for Matt and the kids to share with some unfortunate man who was hoping to brood over the news in the Wall Street Journal in silence. I was deeply saddened happy forced to sit alone with some strangers across the aisle. After waking up so early, a peaceful ride in was much appreciated, and when we got off the train in Grand Central Station, I was probably far better off than I would have been had I refereed Super Mario Bros contestants the whole way.
So, right away, the kids were enamored. Grand Central Station is quite a sight for anyone whose eyes are new to its beauty. It's iconic for a reason. It's "Grand" for a reason. The Beaux-Arts architecture of the terminal is entrancing and classic. The open main concourse, with its ticket booths, central clock, and constellation-covered ceiling, has the ability to transport people to other moments in history. The whole thing is nothing short of outstanding.
We left Grand Central via the 42nd Street exit and headed west, greeted immediately by the huge buildings, flashing lights, and honking taxis, whose impressions left us with no choice but to scrape the kids' jaws off the sidewalk. At the corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt, the kids got their picture snapped with a couple of NYC's finest. They were really friendly, but it took me by surprise how close Summit's head got to one of their guns. We left the fellas in blue and cruised down the sidewalk, passing over Madison and 5th Avenues and the New York Public Library before stopping for a snack and a potty break in Bryant Park, home of New York fashion week. Loved it. Loved. It. Didn't love walking in on a cop using the ladies room, but loved the rest of it.

Our next stop was Times Square, which never fails to deliver. A mounted officer let E and S pet his horse, and I think it was here that Summit first discovered the pigeons, who he instantly referred to as pterodactyls and chased wildly. Luckily for Ella, some model was having a photo shoot, and she thought that was super-cool. Her goal, after all, was to find famous people, and anyone who had a professional camera aimed in his or her direction had to be famous. Besides all of that, Times Square is dazzling in its own right. There are so many enormous digital billboards and flashing lights and people and smells (not all good, by the way) and sounds. Every sense is electrified. Every sense absorbs the world around. Everything is so alive. It's completely captivating. You could spend a whole lifetime trying to learn about Times Square and still not know everything about it.

When we were able to reclaim our minds from the spell-binding world around 7th and Broadway, we caught a cab to 200 Central Park West. Along the way to the Natural History Museum, we were fortunate enough to view a little of the crazy of the city when some creepy old guy stretched back on a bench in the MIDDLE of Columbus Circle and undid his pants to do something. I have no idea what, because the green light saved us from finding out. Eventually we made it to the museum, which totally rocked, especially for Summit, who hit the jackpot with some amazing dinosaur fossils. (And, I'm  pretty positive that I spotted an actress from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days in the Asian People section of the place. I like to see the famous people, too. Honestly, Ella gets it from me.)
Our appetite for dinosaurs filled, we realized our appetite for food was not, so we hopped into another cab to 59th and 5th Avenue. The driver took us through the park and we passed the ridiculously wealthy homes of the ridiculously wealthy people on the east side of Manhattan. I found it humorous that in the middle of all of these residential buildings the most noticeable "business" was a doctors' group, whose practices included one skin specialist, one psychiatrist, and two plastic surgeons. Duh.

The taxi dropped us off at the General Motors building, where ABC was filming a segment with musician David Gray. Across the street was the Plaza Hotel and the south side of Central Park. We walked down 58th to look for a place to eat. Around Me on the iPhone suggested Cipriani's or Le Caprice or Rouge Tomate, but everyone knows that we're too high-class for those places! :) Instead, a door guy told us about a great little place between Park and Lexington called Park Gourmet. It was perfect. Katie and Kelley Rose met up with us there, and we left for one of the most awesome places in the world: FAO Schwarz.

Two hours after we entered the famous toy store, where we were greeted by real-life toy soldiers, treated to magic shows, and danced on the Big Piano (yours for the low price of $250K), we finally left. Summit had scored an awesome sword, which turned him into Thor the Avenger. Ella opted for nothing (no wonder buying her Christmas presents is so hard) and instead decided her memento for the day would be a drawing of her done by an artist who had stationed himself on a walk outside the park. He did a great job, but used his language barrier as an opportunity to rip us off for an extra 30 bucks. Whatever. It was worth it. Ella was so excited.
The last major thing on our agenda was to walk around Central Park. Well, most of us walked. Summit Thor the Avenger ran after the pigeons pterodactyls the whole time. The kid kills me. You know you're on your way when even the most insane people in New York City peer out of their lunacy to laugh at you. After popsicles and a ride on the carousel, it was time to catch the subway to Katie's car. It was time to go home.
Last night, boarding the plane in La Guardia, I was zonked out. Completely. My feet hurt. My back ached. My brain was floating somewhere outside of my body. (All of this, and no Widespread Panic show in sight. Ha!) And it was all so very worth it. Yesterday was one of those family outings that won't soon be forgotten.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thanks, friends, for sharing your crazy with me.

So, I'm easily frazzled. This is probably a big old duh for many of you. I can get my panties wadded up rather quickly. Especially when it comes to, well, anything. The DMV, other drivers, cashiers who use too many plastic bags, inequality, red tape, and so forth. These things can drive me bananas. And if I get too anxious I'll start forgetting stuff like how to sign my name (seriously. That's ridiculous.), where I put my keys IN MY PURSE, where I'm going, my kids' names, etc.

The other day I was running late for something, getting in my car, talking to my friend on my cell, and looking for MY PHONE. And not just for a second. For like two minutes. What is wrong with me? So, when I watch shows like Grey's Anatomy, I'll self-diagnose, and I'll think I've got Alzheimers. Enter more anxiety and lost stuff. It's a vicious cycle of crazy. Thankfully, I'm starting to learn. I know it's a continuation of my childhood problem of thinking I had every disease and disorder known to man.

But, I'm not the only one in the family with a tendency to wholeheartedly embrace hypochondria. Oh no. One of my favorite stories to tell is about my baby brother, John Wesley. He's in a band and super-cool, so no one would suspect that he's incredibly paranoid about illnesses. Incredibly. Like the time I told him about the death sentence brain-eating amoebas that live in warm waters of lakes. He'd been spending a lot of time on the boat and the lake was hot. (Really? This is South Carolina. The lake's always hot in July. This is nothing new). So, when he told me that he'd gone skiing or something and didn't feel good... like he had flu-like symptoms... I informed him that he was exhibiting characteristics of the brain-eating amoeba. Part of my was retardedly worried because of that whole hypochondriac thing (I have it for other people, too), and part of me almost peed in my pants by how he freaked out about the whole thing. Ahh. My green-faced, shaky baby brother called Chapin Family Practice 5 times in an hour to speak with Doctor Bowers and /or any nurse who'd listen to him. All told him to chill. He checked the temperature history of the water against the temperature in which the amoebas can thrive. He looked up signs of infection and the timeline for what happens once the things get into your brain via one's nose... so he blew his nose over and over again. For two hours, madness ensued. There was no worry, of course, because had he been a victim, he'd have kicked it at least 36 hours before. But, there was no logic working in his favor. At all.

And while I can laugh my pants off at his crazy, I'm still mired in my own. I guess, like misery enjoys company, crazy needs other people's crazy to make things alright. This would explain my choices in friends and other loved ones. And you know who you are. I certainly appreciate you guys for putting up with me and for sharing your crazy with me. You complete me. I have no idea where I'd be without you all. I love you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The good old Bible Belt. I dig it.

When I was turning the age where I was responsible enough to fill out important-ish forms for myself (like college applications), my mother had a very serious conversation with me about a certain section that I needed to be sure to answer correctly. Under no uncertain terms was I to leave out the "Southern" from in front of the "Baptist." Huh. I didn't think so much about it, after all, with deep childhood roots in a heavily evangelical South Carolina, attending church was just as second nature as going to the bathroom. I thought everywhere was the Bible Belt. I probably didn't even know what that term meant... how could anyone anywhere not be belted by the Bible? Especially with all of the preacher's proclamations of hellfire and damnation if one wasn't on the "right" path. My mom's directions didn't seeem so far-fetched.

Leaving the bubble that was is Chapin, South Carolina South Carolina, I learned just how crazy the Bible Belt can be. How crazy Southern Baptists can be. No dancing. No Disney. Speaking in tongues. Hating on other religions. I'm not trying to promote anything here, I'm just saying... my eyes were opened a little when I got to experience life on terms outside the Belt. Seriously. Who disses on Mickey Mouse?
Living here for another round, I guess my senses are heightened when it comes to evangelism in the South. Maybe I'm a little cynical. Maybe. I'm more of a free-thinking kinda gal who doesn't try to impose her beliefs on others and who accepts the idea that people of other religions have just as much faith, devotion, and rights to their personal philosophical beliefs. Still, I like The South. I dig it.
Last weekend, Matt and I traveled to Lake Lure, a beautiful spot nestled snuggly in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I was super excited, because I heart the mountains of Western NC. They are calming, soft, slow. The place smells of moonshine and peach jam and campfires. Bluegrass music resonates throughout the valleys. People are welcoming and warm and genuine. The scenery is rustic and full and raw, holding treasures of the incredible stories of its residents. And everyone has a story. Every. One. And everyone is a part of the Bible Belt. Every. One.
And the enormous crosses mounted in nearly every yard are the most gigantic buckles to remind people of the fact that the Belt has a stronghold in those mountains. They are everywhere, bearing messages such as "Blood Secured Redemption" and "He Died for Sinners." But, they really seem like they fit just fine in front of the houses where Billy Graham is just as celebrated as Big and Little E. This is the land where there are more churches and snake handlers in any one town than there are schools, banks, grocery stores, and filling stations combined.

And everyone likes to talk about goin' to church and the Lord, especially at the local public spots. In fact, when I pulled into one mom n' pop shop, these two mountain fellas were shooting the breeze, talking about Jesus and Sundee and checking out their dollar bills that, for some reason I've yet to understand, had ALL been marked with Bible verses. Huh. How'd they get on there? I guess someone has a stamp for those things that every bill they get is marked with before it leaves their hands. Where else could that happen but the Belt?
I know it seems a little different to those of y'all outsiders, but it's an interesting part of the culture. It's an accepted part of the culture, and one I don't think should bid its adieu. The Belt is the way it is for a reason. And I dig it. But, I fill out my forms how I want, Mother. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fighting her way back to me.

There are so many awful things that happen, have been happening, to people that I hate to complain about stuff. I try to keep in perspective that my life is, largely, full of many fortunes. Matt and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary this week... a monumental feat... even noted by the juvenile sales clerk at Best Buy, who suggested I deserved a coupon for the gift that I purchased for Matt to honor our day. (Wish there had been one because that wasn't a cheap present!) We have a nice enough family. We both have jobs. Our kids are wonderful. Ella turned 7 on Sunday. There's a lot to be thankful for.
But, dangit, sometimes things are really flipping difficult. My least favorite part of every day is supposed to be one of the best times that a parent can have. Reading bedtime stories and singing lullabies should be special moments that we spend with our precious little loves. That's how they used to be for me. Now, bedtime is my most vulnerable and frigthening part of my day thanks to those awful seizures that Ella sometimes has after she goes to sleep. And, truly, they scare the crap out of me, out of all of us. We have no idea when they'll appear; there are no warning signs. No rhyme or reason. They are demonic boogeymen that creep up out of the middle of the night and attack when our guards are down. Like hands of fear and uncertainty, they grasp hold of my precious little girl and rock every ounce of stability and calm and safety out of our world. So, we just wait for them to happen. Wait. Check. Wait. Check. Over and over and over. Every night. And it sucks. Just sucks.

Clearly, they must have sensed the lowering of our guards, because Ella had another a couple of weeks ago... the evening before last freaking full day of her school year... the night before her class was to sing to the parents and her teachers were to present the children with special awards. And it wasn't an easy episode. It was the kind that can knock her off her feet for at least a couple of days, but still my sweet girl's only concern was singing those songs the next day at school. That was one of the first things she asked about when the seizure abated. Oh, and my heart just wept for her.
The next day, we visited the neurologist, and after a lengthy discussion we decided to try an anti-epileptic drug before bedtime. It was one of the things I'd been dreading. I'd only heard terrible stories about seizure meds. Not to mention the fact that since she'd experienced 3 seizures, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Benign rolandic epilepsy. Also known as benign childhood epilepsy. And, for a parent, that's a hard pill to swallow. Really hard. There can be so many limits to living a childhood with epilepsy, and I just want her to have a normal one with sleep overs and playdates. A normal life. That's the goal of every parent. But, it is what it is, and we took the neuro's advice and got the drug. Side effect of neurontin in most kids: drowsiness. Side effect of neurontin in Ella: hyperactivity.
So, guess what? It didn't work. She had another seizure last night. It wasn't so rough, and she came out of it without us having to give her the diastat to stop the attack. Thank goodness. She even recalled exactly what I said to her during the episode. She told me that she could hear me, and she was fighting her way back to me. Oh. My. God. She was fighting to get to my voice. And I was fighting for her to come back to me. The first thing she said, even while she was coming out of it, and through clenched teeth, was, "Mommy, did I have a seizure?" She couldn't even move the left side of her body. Broken heart. Broken. A couple of minutes later, she told me, "I just want to be normal like my friends at school." Deeply broken heart. Damnit. Damnit. My baby. What the hell am I supposed to say? What the hell?
After speaking with the doctor, we decided on another medication. Will it work? I have no idea, but dear Jesus, I hope it will. For her sake, more than anything, I hope it will.

Please keep my girl in your thoughts and prayers. Send her positive energy. We all need it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Merry Christmas in June. From, my Chili

On the Satterfield side of our little family, there is a strong tendency to find humor in those things that are not always congruous with accepted social behaviors. Especially those behaviors which are directly related to bodily odors. Yeah, we think farts are funny. If you can sit there at your computer and honestly say that they aren't, then please quit reading now.

I've mentioned before that some of my earliest memories are of driving through Brunswick, Georgia, and everyone blaming the paper mill smell on my mom. (Maybe it was her... the truth is we may never know.) It goes without saying that we like fart jokes. We like making comments like, "Who made that smell," all the while knowing that whoever proffered the question is likely the dealer. My brothers enjoy playing this game the most. John Wesley is not ashamed to admit that he hearts the scent of his own flatulence. I would venture to guess that those of us who are embarrassed by this comment have, at least once twice thrice, in our lives taken a second whiff of whatever it was that escaped the area that our number twos exit. Don't lie. You know you've done it.

This is not to say that anyone enjoys the smell of anyone else's gassiness. On the contrary, I've nearly lost my cookies over some of the bombs that my family and friends have dropped (you know who you are, too). If you do enjoy the aroma of others' vapors, well, that's just nasty, and you should probably seek help.

One of my favorite statements from a book (remember I'm an English major... this is a drastic departure from all of the beautiful literature that I've been lucky enough to read) is out of The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. It goes, "If there's anything funnier than pooting I wish you'd tell me." I've never read a truer line. You know it's funny. Hilarious. Especially when it's your own. I don't know any self-respecting person who hasn't laughed out loud at least once when they've passed gas.

Which brings me to my story. Perhaps I shouldn't tell you guys this, but, everyone needs a laugh every once in a while at the expense of someone else, and there's some heavily depressing stuff going on in the world right now. Consider this a gift from me to you.

Last week I made some mean chili. I mean really good. Full of beans and spices and yumminess. Chili that kept beckoning us back for more. Ella totally dug it, and for the past week, she's been emitting the fruits of my labor beneath her covers at night... to the point where Summit won't even sit in the same room with her to read books at night. She's been a crop duster. Seriously. I'm amazed that a little girl can make such waves with her hind-end ripples.

Anyways, I thought that I'd have one more stab at the old chili before it was time to put it out to pasture. Note to self: week-old chili does not a settled stomach make. And, oh, how unsettled my stomach became after my session on the stair climber at the gym today. You know that rumbling that tells you it's not safe to be far from a bathroom? You know. Well, I got that gurgle as I was cruising down the interstate on the way home. Far from a lavatory. My forehead started beading up with sweat, my stomach was churning, pressure was building on the inside, and all I could do was grip the steering wheel with all my might and pray for some sort of relief that didn't include me leaving a streak mark on the leather seat of the car.

Just when I thought I was about to give birth to a 20-pound baby, the abatement for my tummy maladies arrived... much to the dismay of my children's olfactory glands. And, oh, what a welcome release it was for my innards. I sighed with relief before I chuckled to myself. The windows were rolled up (should I have cracked them? Maybe, but where's the fun in that?), and I wondered who'd pick up on it first. Not surprisingly, it was old stinky butt herself. "Ewwww. Mommy. That's gross." When Summit picked up on my scent, he quickly chimed in, "Mommy! That's stinky! You smell like poopy!" AHAHAHAHAHAH! I'm sorry, people, but even as I type this, I'm rolling!

And, then I was worried. You know why. Hey, I delivered two 8 1/2 + pound babies and I'm getting older. But, it was all good. I locked the windows, just like my dad used to do when we were little, and laughed the rest of the way home. Even the kids thought it was funny. Oh, the memories I'm helping my kids make. At least they won't take the world and themselves so seriously all the time.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Butterfly-chasing, Ladybug-twirling Life-changer

Seven very short years ago, life as I knew it exploded and changed - changed and grew - in love and meaning and depth and perspective.

It had been 10 months in the making. And she was right on time - completely unlike the often late, butterfly chasing, ladybug twirling lolly gagger that she is today. Ushered in by a billion barrells of crashing thunder and an entire Grateful Dead light show worth of lightning, her entrance was nothing short of grand and memorable. So, it's not surprising that each of the years since then have been increasingly intricate, absolutely dramatic, and completely unforgettable because of her place in our family. She is our little Big Bang Theory.
From the moment that we learn we will become someone's mother or father, parents' lives become consumed with teaching children how to eat, sleep, soothe. Immediately, we are charged with creating an environment that is nurturing, stimulating, peaceful, and safe - a world in which we can raise these tiny beings to be the best, healthiest, happiest individuals possible. We make sure the nursery wall paint is of a color that illicits proper energy development, the children's books are appropriately thoughtful directions for leading wholesome lives, the baby soap doesn't contain toxic ingredients... along with a multitude of other musts and mustn'ts to make sure we don't completely ruin our babies.

And so it was with my Ella. Her room was painted a lovely green, sprinkled with butterflies, that would promote peace and growth. We bought her books like Zen Shorts to teach her to treat others with compassion. Her baby shampoo was organic and paraben free (so is her big kid shampoo, and that stuff isn't cheap... it better work). I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture and there's no need to go running you off.
The ironic thing about all the effort put into being parents is that we (blindly) think that we're the ones doing all of the raising... but all along, it's been she who has been teaching us the big lessons about life, love, responsibility, beauty, compassion, selflessness, and patience. We give her the support for the basic needs, and, in return, she gives us herself. She put her life, her love, her heart... pure and simple... in our hands. Full of trust and willingness and acceptance. No strings attached.
And it was an explosion. A tiny being exploded on the scene of our lives and changed everything. It was unfathomable to me before she was here how I could fall head over heels in unconditional love. Before she was here, I loved in a different era - in a different world. Then along came my girl, and she created an entirely different universe of emotions and beauty and perspective all unbeknownst to me.
These past seven years have blown past me faster than I ever imagined. And the more I grow to appreciate life and the world with my sweet baby girl, the more time speeds up. What's going on there? (Thanks a lot, universe.) She's gone from being my Baby Butterbean whose fully-stretched arms barely reached her ears to an inquisitive toddler with blond shoots of pigtails atop her head to a rambunctious pre-schooler daring to try her hand at independence to a 7-year-old little girl who reads and writes and draws and swims, who thinks for herself.
She is my precious angel and I am in total awe of her. I love her with a love that completely knocked me off my feet and taught me so much about myself and the world. For that, Ella, I thank you. Happy 7th Birthday, my love.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summit the Warrior Strikes Again.

In recent months, Summit has expanded his love for imagination to include pirates and ninjas and vikings. He still L.O.V.E.S dinosaurs, don't get me wrong, but he's broadening his horizons. And it's pretty funny. He loves bowing down on bended knee before me and saying stuff like, "I honor you, my lady. I am your viking and I will slay this dragon for you." Just as serious as he can possibly be. He really seems to think he's a knight in shining armor. Though, it's kind of weird when he tries to be the prince to his sister's princess... like today when offered her a diamond ring and said, "My princess, will you take this ring and be my wife." (What's up, West Virginia?)
Because we've tried to avoid promoting violent ideas and didn't buy him toy guns, he resorted to using my clothes hangers as a bow and arrow to defeat the mighty creatures. (Which, consequently, resulted in several destroyed hangers. All over the yard and house. Thanks for that, Summit.) Much to our chagrin, and his delight, my dad and brother started giving him those awful dart suction guns, which he has become quite adept at using. The kid has great aim. My forehead is all to aware of that ability. He does have a toy sword that he got when we were at Epcot over Christmas which he has wielded on many occasions against his sister, his parents, and the wild beast, Mercy Lou. At any time throughout a day, the roaring sounds of "ahahaha" and "arrr" and "chaaaa" resonate from his fierce lips when he knows he's overtaken his enemy.

Since pool season started, he's been using a noodle (broken in half by Popi) to be the best sword ever. Today in the pool, we fenced with the blue foam, and had the most fun. (I made sure to take that little viking down for waking us all up so early in the morning.) I think that he must have decided that he was a ninja rather than a knight today, though, because he carried that personality with him to dinner at Yamatos.
I should have known that he'd be immediately intrigued by the Japanese chef and his culinary shenanigans. And he was. I mean, the guy did come out with fingers blazing. Literally. He lit his fingers on fire right out of the gate. (Note to self: no fires, matches, lighters, etc. at the kid's disposal). Summit's attention was had. And then the guy started twirling the knives and spatulas around and making "hah" and "hut" sounds. That's when Summit asked for some chopsticks.

Did I think anything of it at the time? Nah. Should I have? Yeah. It seemed innocent and harmless. He asked me to sword fight with him with the chopsticks, and it was a good way to keep him entertained. And then we started eating... not paying close attention to his every move. So, that's when he made his move. I looked up from my plate of hot, fresh deliciousness when I heard him shout, "Hah!" And what was it my gift of sight laid before me? A chopstick stabbed through the bottom of his freshly refilled styrofoam cup of sprite. Like he needed to slay the cup. Really? Sprite was pouring out all over the table. All over Summit, who, by the way, cannot stand to be wet or dirty when he's not rolling in the mud or swimming in the pool. All over.

Thank goodness our waiter was around, as he had been relatively absent for the meal (he was new and bad at his job). And then the waiter shrugged it off as guys being kind of absent-minded and lacking in ability to think things through or pay attention to stuff. Really, Yamatos Waiter? I couldn't tell by your performance serving us. In the end, it was all good. Hopefully Summit learned a lesson not to poke your full cups with stuff, but if he's anything like that waiter, I'm gonna go with no.