Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Picture To Be Proud Of.

I have always taken a photo on Mother's Day.

I have long dreamed of having a framed photo of me and my children.
Smiling at the camera.
Arms intertwined.
Coordinated (and yet not too matchy) outfits.
Love abundant in our eyes.

This is the first "Mother's Day" photo I could find.
It was taken in the days of "black and white film is so artistic and cool."
I look so, uh, happy.
I think I was pregnant.
I was always pregnant in the 90's.
I remember disappointingly getting the photo back, seeing my bangs hanging all greasy-like, and filling them in on the photo with a sharpie marker.
This was before I discovered Photoshop.
Or clothing outside of the local K-Mart.
Fast forward a year or two:
We also used this shot as our family picture for a long time.
A super weird camera angle that seemed to stretch the poor people on the sides of the photo.
You might want to click on that one.
Sam is looking particularly good, with that sweet necklace.
And me in my denim overalls.
We had a lot of babies then.
And stockpiles of Mountain Dew.
I don't remember much about the next few years of our lives.
Just diapers, and Barney the #$^@! Dinosaur.

Next up...this was the best shot we could get that year.
Our lives were all about herding cats.
We were on zone defense.
We were lucky to get them all in the photo.
Everyone smiling at the camera?
I scoff at you.
But I pasted on a smile.
Was I really happy?
Who knows.
(Side note: green hose, zig-zag parted hair, and flowerbeds full of large sized weeds.)
Moving on...
Then I had Mikayla, our youngest.
And cut my hair off.
This was the winning photo.
We took an entire roll of 24.
Remember film?
Me too.
I also remember loving plaid for my boys.

The next year, I grew my bangs out.
I have a really weird forehead.
And even stranger kids.
We figured, "let's do an intentional silly shot, since we can't ever get a good one anyway."
Well, that Mountain Dew wasn't drinking itself, and it wasn't diet, so I started to gain weight.
It was really depressing.
The weight, and the craptastic annual (fail) photo shoot.
I got creative the next year, and decided to crop in on just our faces to minimize the evidence of weight gain.
No bodies.
Just floating heads of Motherhood.
And Brendan looks constipated?
There is always at least one kid that makes the annual photo "special."

Fast forward to this year.
I thought to myself "hey, all the kids are older, maybe we can get a truly good picture this year?"
So I set up the pose, bribed the children, and instructed Sam on taking the photo.
Here is what we got:
Jayden clearly embarrassed.
Brendan and Mikayla uncomfortable.
Shayne, zoned out, staring at a place behind the camera, and mentally far, far away.
Shianne and I in hysterics.
Here is another shot:
More of the same.

And here is the background to achieving a shot yourself, JUST. LIKE. THIS.
But I warn you, it takes skeelz.
The camera person must be holding the camera completely still on top, while also getting jiggy with it on the bottom.
Hips gyrating.
Like a high-end pole dancer.
Preferably just after church, while still in a suit.
And the neighbors should be driving home from church, witnessing it all.

That would be Sam.
I love him.

Doing what it takes to get a good Mother's Day shot.
"All I want for Mother's Day is ONE FREAKING GOOD PHOTO! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!!"
Sam, taking one for the team.
All pride gone.
Making the kids look at the camera, and smile real smiles.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This is NOT in the Handbook.

Last night we had an emergency Family Home Evening.

When all my kids were younger, they loved to play in the tub.
They loved to play in the shower!

I never had an issue getting them to bath.
They would stay in the tub long after the water turned cold, and long after their fingers and toes turned white/gray in color and wrinkled up like albino prunes.
Every Saturday night, I would personally scrub them good.
I loved the smell of a warm (Johnson & Johnson body wash) body wrapped up in a clean bleach-scented towel.

Apparently, during those years, it escaped their attention that you actually needed to "wash" when you took a bath.
With soap.
And shampoo.

One of my kids in particular has been looking rather greasy post-shower.
"Did you shower?"
"Did you wash your hair?"

Riddle me this. How does freshly washed hair hang like it has been dragged behind a horse on the range?

For days I would ask.
I saw it wet, with my own eyes, yet when it dried, it looked like a dust mop.
What was going on?

Well, come to find out, the boys bathroom, downstairs, has been out of shampoo for MONTHS.
Since around Christmastime, I discovered, after careful questioning.
They have been using Irish Spring.

Let's backtrack, shall we?
To about two years ago.
One of my nameless offspring had an issue with their butt.
Namely, a sore butt, like unto diaper rash of yore.
Except this kid was old(er) than they should have been for diaper rash.
This is really too much information, but the butt issue was really sore and may or may not have oozed.
The nameless offspring was a little too old for a thorough inspection by myself.
So, I took this kid to the doctor.

We have been to foreign countries, and you never know what you can pick up in restrooms (and I use that term very loosely) in a foreign country.
Especially the type where they sell toilet paper by the square, and require you to flush the toilet yourself using a metal bucket full of questionable liquid.
But I digress...

Long story short, the doctor gave this child a cream of some sort, and told this child to be diligent about drying off after washing.

In the car, on the way home, the child tentatively asked what the doctor meant exactly by "washing."
At first I thought this was a joke, born out of the humiliation of recently spreading cheeks in front of a female pediatrician.
It was a dead serious question.
This is a fairly intelligent child.
This kid, was "unaware" that you needed to actually soap, lather up, and rinse your crack.

My ears were ringing.
That ringing right before you pass out, because you can't believe what you are hearing.
I took a very deep breath.
And wondered where in the heeeeeeal my parenting skills had gone wrong.
Plus, I had to fork out a $25.00 co-pay for this!

They wash in AFRICA, people.
On the barren sand swept hills, where those nomadic people-who have really long necks stretched out with a million metal rings live.
I saw them wash!
On the discovery channel.
Granted, they washed in stagnant ponds, but they had funky handmade soap and everything.

My child? Not so much.
"I guess I forgot about that," the child said.
I was mortified.

So fast forward again, to our emergency Family Home Evening.
One of my other offspring came to me on Sunday with a strange greasy, slimy glob on the top of their (freshly washed) head.
I discovered after poking it with a cotton swab, that it was conditioner.

I started having flashbacks of the "not soaping the butt" ordeal.
Clearly, this child thought that glopping random product on the head in some fashion constituted "washing."

Our Family Home Evening consisted of a discussion about hygiene.
We covered Body Washing 101.
"Private Parts: Even if They Don't 'Look' Dirty, They Still Need to be Soaped Up."
"How To Wash Your Hair, and Actually Reach the Scalp."
"Because Your Feet Are 'In' the Water the Whole Time, Does Not Make Them Clean."

I had a whole segment dedicated to pimples.
(I have four teens/pre-teens.)
(Sympathy accepted.)
I had a print-out of a cross section of skin.
We went over oil glands, and sweat glands and how they get clogged.

It was enlightening.
And yet, shouldn't pretty much ALL THIS CRAP, be COMMON KNOWLEDGE?!!

Just for good measure, we covered:
"Toothpaste: Not Just for Squirting on the Mirror."
"Deodorant: No Longer an Option."

They have that funny parenting saying about how you can totally see how some species in the animal kingdom eat their young.
Not me.
It would give me salmonella or botulism or something.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Happy (Early) Mother's Day!

I got a present early.
A gem.
Oh man! Total GEM!
You just wait...
It is from my Mikayla. Age 8, second grade.
I think she knows me best.
I so needed this after my awful day yesterday.
I need to interrupt myself to tell you about the final saga of my crappy court day.
The police showed up at my house that evening.
Yes, they did.
Two of them, and all my neighbors were outside.
My cordless phone had randomly called 911.
They had to come check it out, and I had to fill out a report.
I went to bed at 9:42.
I'd had enough of that day.

Check this out!
(Awwww...I do love her. It's true.)
(So grateful for teachers who do these kinds of projects with kids, I will keep this 'til my dying day.)
(Also, I have great illustrated hair!)
(Cause church is the only day I "clean up.")
(Also, check out the "jeep" on the hill, with the bloodcurdling "ahhhhh." <--that's me)

(Perfume and Cookies. Way better than Taco Pits. I only wish there were a cookie perfume. Bath and Body Works, can you hear me?)
(Again, true. Can you ever go wrong with cookies?)
(Hold on, I am sensing a trend here.)
And with that "trend", I present to you the final page in the book:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Like a Fish Out of Water

My day started out with events spilling over from last night.

The kids unloaded groceries, and left the lift-gate open on my van.
When I opened the garage, the lift-gate of the van got wedged in the garage door.

So I pulled the van forward the inch that I could, and that was enough to un-wedge it.

Then I headed off to COURT.

This is for my traffic ticket. I was hoping to get a reduction of some sort.

I am a totally anxiety ridden person when it comes to crap like this.
I can't get it out of my mind, until it is over with.
The idea of going to court has been swirling around in my head for two weeks straight, like a living entity. I forget about it for a minute, but it lurks there, clawing its way to the front of my thoughts.

In the shower, I go over court dialog.
While I am folding laundry.
When I am trying to enjoy dinner.
It is worse in bed, at night, when I replay what could happen in court, what I should say, what I should wear, and for the love of all that is holy, remember to call the judge "your Honor."
I haven't been sleeping.
And my anxiety makes me sweat.
I have permanent taco-pits.

I would make the crappiest criminal.

I left my house a whole hour before I needed to be in court.
I also have anxiety about finding new places, even with Mapquest.

Taco pit Thursday.
I arrived at the building, and read a book in the parking lot for a bit. I didn't want to go in 45 minutes early.
Let's be honest.
I have no idea what I read out in the car.
But inside I was a mess and couldn't process the words.
Finally I went in.
I went through a metal detector, and went back into a waiting room.
It was full of Mexicans.
I am not sure how to say that politically correct, and the Mexican thing makes more sense in a minute.
(Also Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

I asked if I was in the right place, and recited the address.
Uh, no.
I was in Immigration Violation Court.
So I got new directions to the building I needed and high-tailed it out of there.

By this time, I am nearing my appointment time.
I have now sweated through my jacket.

I find what I think is the building, and rush inside.
It was the right one this time.
There was my name, in black and white on the docket, for anyone to see.
It was kind of embarrassing to see it there, as a defendant with a warrant.
Did I mention my nerves?
Or the cheese disease?
I walked into the courtroom, and clearly there are some frequent fliers.
Very hard looking people.
I had no clue what I was doing.
I felt like I was in Kindergarten again, with no friends, not knowing where to sit, or what to do with my hands.
And I just wanted to be anywhere but THERE.
I watched what all the other people were doing.
I had to fill out a paper on a clipboard, and go hand it to the clerk.
So I did that, and sat there for a bit.

I was praying that my nerves would shut up, and that I would get some help, and that my pits would just stop already.
This guy kept walking into the courtroom with a fat briefcase, and going back out.
He looked official.
I finally got up the nerve to ask him what was going on.
My appointment time had passed, and I was worried I somehow missed the dang thing.

Come to find out, he was some sort of counsel.
He took one look at me, and could see I was ready to come apart at the seams.
He told me to take a deep breath, and sit down.

He was a nice man, in a sea of uncertainty and weirdo's.

He told me to plead "Not Guilty" (But I was guilty!) and set a pre-trial date.
"Then," he said "you can take it to trial, and the judge will most likely dismiss it."
"You just have to be persistent." he said.

Internets, I am a wuss.
And my nerves can't take waiting for a pre-trial, and then possibly a trial!

"What is the best I can expect to have this over with today?" I asked.

"I can talk to the judge for you, and see if he will reduce your charges."
Yes please.
So he did.
Bless his heart.
He did all the talking, while I tried really hard not to cry or lift my arms and expose my tacos.
The judge reduced my ticket to 16 over, not 26.
My fine went from $350 to $165, and the points on my record were way more manageable.
I just had to say "Yes, your Honor." And I even remembered to say "your Honor."

I am grateful for people like that counselor, that go to an intimidating job everyday, see ugly things everyday, but still retain enough sensitivity and compassion to help someone like me.

But wait...the adventure doesn't stop here.

I get into an elevator with two attorneys, and a scruffy heavyset guy that is sweatier than me.
As you can predict, the attorneys get off on one floor, and me and sweaty Eddy are alone in the elevator.
As soon as those doors shut, Eddy turns to me and says "I am a criminal, you know."
What the hell, internets!!
I have read enough Stephen King to know that there are mentally unbalanced folks in the world, and possibly my own town, BUT TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR?
I felt like I needed to play nice so he wouldn't be offended and off me with a shiv, so I asked him how things went for him in court.
Oh Moses.
He proceeded to tell me his whole life story, and how he drives a semi-truck, and how he hauls food for humanity, and how could he be a criminal for hauling food for humanity!
And I am wondering if "food for humanity" is code for "disemboweled victims."
I proceed to smile at the ground (NO EYE CONTACT!) and nod my head at appropriate intervals, all the while making my way(DON'T RUN!)to my van...IN AN EMPTY PARKING LOT WITH NO ONE AROUND.
With a psycho.
He pauses to ask me what I was in court for, and I told him a traffic violation.
Then he says to me:
(I can't even make this stuff up.)
"You would do real well in jail."
I snaked past him into my van, and pushed "power lock" like the wind!
I squealed outta there on two wheels.
(But safely under the posted speed limit.)

Internets, this all happened to me before noon.

I am taking a nap.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Next Year I Am All Over Hibernation.

I am sorry to be a Debbie Downer lately.
I know it has something to do with the craptastic Utah weather.
We keep getting stupid snow, cause all the Utah Mormons keep praying for "moisture."
Not me.
The other Mormons.

I can't take it anymore!
I am having serious issues over the weather.
Even my kids wince when they open the blinds and discover snow, and know that I haven't yet glimpsed out.
None of them want to break it to me.
Or be around when I scream.

I haven't exactly clocked out on life, but I haven't exactly been thrilled to wake up in the morning...to live the same day over and over.

Take for instance my sink this morning.
Chock full of bowls.
And when the actual bowls ran out, the kids used Tupperware/used Cool Whip containers/mixing bowls.
You moms out there can translate that into "we've been living off of a whole lot a cold cereal, cause mama doesn't have the heart to cook dinner."

We do have leftover hard boiled Easter eggs, however.
If you get the hankering for a residually neon colored snack.

I am trying to look for bright spots in my life.
Really I am.
They are always there, if you dig deep under the heaping pile of steaming turd.

My van has smelled like it is burning for about a week.
Seriously, when I am stopped at a stop light, the smell wafts up.
It is even worse when I am parked.
Like burnt plastic.
I told Sam to look at it.
He is the man of the house, and is supposed to take care of that type of thing. Right?
Just like I am supposed to take care of...uh, dinner?
Okay, wait! Wash! Yes!
I am not a laundry failure.

I asked him to look, cause all we need in our life right now is to fork out cash for a burned up engine or belt or something.
(Did I mention my speeding ticket was $340.00?)
He gave the van a sideways glance, and said it was fine.
So I dug deep into the recesses of my brain, and remembered my Dad taught me to check oil and fluids in a car.
So I did.
And they were fine.
Sam was right.
I was still really worried.

Finally Sam himself drove the van to church on Sunday, and could not take the smell anymore.
He actually crawled underneath the van to pinpoint where that smell was originating from.
I was crossing my fingers that it was a quick fix...
The verdict?

At some point, I guess I had run over a large plastic bag, that was now bubbled and charred and welded onto the muffler.
That's right, folks.
Melted bag.
No repair.

I guess I do have some good luck after all.

And in related news, this is what I found when I went to wake Mikayla up for church on Sunday:
And in case she wasn't clear, this was inside her room, by her bed:
I told you that girl was smart.
And I think she is onto something.

I need to get a sign:
"Closed. Due to Lack of Interest."
For the kitchen.
The laundry room!
The bedroom...

It's been a darn long winter.