Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Pin It Please help. Someone somehow slipped in here during the night and traded this child:

For this one:

Also reported missing - two other children, as pictured below:

Curiously, older versions of the same children are present in the home, however, parents believe a mistake has been made, as their children now appear much older than seems logical.


If you have any information about how this possibly could have happened, distraught mother seeks information leading to recapture of last three years.
On a completely unrelated note, parents would like to sponsor research into projects involving stopping time and freezing children. If interested in participating in these projects, please indicate below.

Thanking you in advance,


P.S. Sniff.

P.P.S. I want a time machine. And possibly another toddler.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I'm a Yamaha

Pin It (I’ll just warn you - this isn't a funny post. I'm gonna be a little serious for a minute, because I feel like spewing this out into the universe – I’m not sure why. Why do we feel compelled to share any of the things we write about on our blogs? I doubt very many of you will make it to the end of this incredibly long, self-indulgent post, but I felt like sharing it anyway. So here you go...)

I was a miserable teenager. I really was. I think I went a little crazy from 15 to 19. I remember that time as sort of a fevered nightmare, murky and dark and awful. I wasn’t acting out in the way that you would expect a troubled teenager to do, I was just incredibly lonely. Lonely and angry and sad. I was awkward and emotionally immature, poor with really bad clothes, and lacking the personality or attitude to make all of that something you could overlook. I existed in a haze of gut wrenching self hatred and distress.

I know we all tend to write off our teenage angst as just that, but I honestly know what it means to despair, because of that time in my life. I've never been depressed as an adult, probably because nothing I've gone through as an adult has ever made me feel as broken or as sad as I felt as a teenager. There were days, weeks, months when I thought about suicide, planned it, thought about the sheer relief of not having to get up the next day and face the world again. Of not having to continue to make an effort to be something other than what I felt I was – embarrassing, mediocre, unloved, unwanted. I would trace the lines on my wrist, and the only thing that kept me from doing it was my certainty that then I would burn in hell.

For most of my adolescent life, I thought my musical ability was the only special thing about me. I loved to sing and play the piano. It was one of the only things that made me stop thinking, made life bearable, made me break out of my narcissistic fog of self-pity. So I would sing – ALL THE TIME. I used to drive my family up the wall with it. I’d play the piano and sing for literally hours in the living room and my brothers would be like, would you SHUT UP already, I’m trying to watch TV. My mom would have to come out into the music room after a while to try to get me to stop. She didn’t want to discourage me from singing or playing, but there was a limit to how many times anyone in the family could listen to me sing “On My Own,” at full volume before they went stark, raving mad.

I had a nice voice in the way that millions of girls have nice voices, because they can sing in tune and have a nice tone. Nice, but run of the mill. I used to dream that I would be good enough to sing on Broadway someday. I knew that wasn’t really an option - I wasn’t at that level, but I wished it was true.

Still, now and then people would turn around in their pews at church to tell me that I had a pretty voice and it made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t totally worthless. One day when I was feeling particularly awful about my life, someone told me that I sang like an angel, and it made me so happy that I started crying right there on the spot. I would sing a solo in church, and people would seek me out afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I would collect those little compliments, store them up inside and bring them out and think about them when I was especially unhappy. They were like little pockets of warmth in the middle of a long bitterly cold winter. They made me feel better when I felt like there was nothing good about me at all. And there were a lot of times like that.

When I got out of my teens, I started to figure things out emotionally and socially. I think I probably had a chemical imbalance for a while (it runs in my family) and it was clearing off. I started to recognize my own value, and started to learn how to get along in the world. I learned how to be happy, and how to feel hopeful.

I still sang whenever I had the opportunity, but I didn’t crave the attention so much – didn’t need it in order to feel o.k. about myself. I was happy. Music was just something else that was good about life, not the only thing.

A year after I got married, I decided that even though I’d never really do anything with it, it would be fun to take voice lessons, just to finally get some training. My sister was taking lessons from someone who she raved about, so I called him up and made an appointment.

I will never forget the conversation I had with the voice teacher after he’d spent a half an hour “getting to know” my voice. He told me I had a nice voice, a good ear, was perfectly in tune, and a great sight reader, and I thanked him, feeling good about his comments. Then he went on.

“You know, I like to compare people’s voices to pianos. Some people, like Leslie,” (his star pupil) “have Steinways. Other people have cheap little Casio keyboards. You, I think, have a very nice, serviceable little Yamaha.”

I didn’t know enough about piano brands to be able to place myself very accurately on the range of piano goodness, but I could tell from his tone that it wasn’t that great, wasn’t that special, and never would be.

And even though I already knew that I had a “nice” voice, and not an amazing one, it broke my heart a little to hear it, for sure, from a professional. I think somewhere in my heart I’d always held on to that dream of one day being Jodi Benson or something, however unrealistic a dream it might have been. I came home crying from the first lesson and never went back. My husband wanted to go punch the guy out, because he could see how much that comment had wounded me.

To hear that this one thing, this one thing I’d thought might be a little special – not Hollywood special, but special enough to mean that I was special, really wasn’t that special after all? It hurt me.

Every time I sang I thought, not that special, not that great. I lost my confidence. And my voice over time has gotten less steady, less confident, less clear. Self fulfilling prophecy.

For a long time, I couldn’t sit at the piano and play what I wanted anyway, because my kids would crawl all over me requesting Disney songs, or on Top of Spaghetti, or songs from Annie. I would sometimes go months at a time without ever sitting down to play anything for myself. It's only recently that I've started to get reacquainted with how happy it makes me to sing, just for the sheer joy of doing it.

When Abby had croup she asked me, “Mom, are lullabies just for night time?” I told her no, so she put her head in my lap and I sang to her for a few minutes, stroking her hair. After a bit she asked me, “When I grow up will I sing just like you, Momma? I want to sing just like you.” It was probably the best, sweetest compliment of my life, and I nodded through a haze of tears and told her she would sing even better, and then I cleared my throat and sang her to sleep.

And I thought - what a wonderful gift. I’ve wavered in my beliefs now and then, but today, right now, I feel pretty sure that my voice was a gift. Not a gift in the way that people usually mean, as in gifted, but as in - God loved me enough to give me a voice that, while not special enough for the stage or any kind of acclaim, would carry me through a time of despair, would help me feel special when I couldn’t feel my own worth, would give me a reason to go on. And now I can use my voice to sing to my children, to help my daughter to feel how much I love her, to help make my children feel special and adored and wanted. That IS a gift - one I am incredibly grateful for.

And it’s definitely something to sing about.

Friday, October 19, 2007

About the Kids

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(Yes, family, this is an old picture. I don't care. It's cute. Plus I can't find the new ones. Just play along.)

I love my children. I really do. They're kind and sweet and talented and cute. They are smarter than the average bear, they make my world revolve, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. (Cut and paste loving mommy blog paragraph here.)

I think it would be fascinating to come to a mommy blog and read something like, "MAN, my four year old is a little jerk. He's constantly picking his nose, and it's disgusting. He won't pee in the toilet, he keeps making this loud beeping noise, and if I have to read that Diego story one more time I will kill myself." I think I would have to read that one. Possibly I would have to report the mother to social services eventually, but it would be interesting to read.

Because my children CAN be incredibly annoying sometimes.

Is it really necessary to run around the house flapping your arms and yelling, "I'm a goony bird, I'm a goony bird," for twenty minutes straight? Is that ever necessary? Am I really a horrible mother for making you STOP IT? Have I really crushed all of your dreams?

And why is it that if Sarah is sitting in the family room by herself, and I ask her to turn off the T.V., she'll just kind of sigh, and look at me with an aggrieved expression, then gradually, slowly, make her way over to the T.V., lift her arm as though it's incredibly heavy, and in slow motion, turn it off, sighing the whole time? Then look at me as if to say, the things I do for you mom, the things I do for you.

But if all three of my kids are there? And I say, "someone turn off the t.v.," World War III breaks out as they all rush to be the first to turn it off. Someone pushes someone, someone is victorious, someone else falls on the floor crying as though they'd been stabbed, when really all that happened was that they DID NOT GET TO TURN OFF THE T.V. Then with the crying, and the "I was going to turn it off, " and "but I was first," and "he didn't let me turn it off."

The other day Abby and Carter had a fight. As ducks. One of them started quacking and the other quacked back. It was all good fun, but eventually the quacking turned menacing and angry, and one of them burst into tears. "Mom, she quacked at me." They don't even know what they are arguing about. They don't speak duck.

Irrational goons, my children. And yet, they think I'M annoying. What is up with that?

Someday, twenty years from now, when we are sitting in some therapist's office, discussing all of the ways I failed them as a parent, I know some of this stuff is gonna come back to bite me. Sarah will cry about how I never bought her cute shoes, and I never learned to properly braid her hair, and as if that wasn't enough, there were a lot of times that I did not let her order from the book order, and if there is something terrible you can do to a six year old child, apparently that is it. Judging from the hysterical sobbing that took place last night.

Abby will explain how I stifled her creativity and smashed her hopes when I would not let her wear her princess costume to preschool on non-Halloween oriented days. Her friend Brooklyn came over to play yesterday dressed in princess shoes and a frilly skirt, and Abby looked at me and said, "THAT'S NICE, your mom lets you wear PRINCESS SHOES OUTSIDE," and then gave me a look of disgust and walked away. She is also ashamed of the fact that I do not wear dresses every day, as she imagines most other mothers do. She encourages me to "please wear a skirt" and to "try to look nicer" and to "make something in your mouth not smell like that." O.K., maybe she had a point on the last one. But do I have to take this from a girl who still occasionally pees herself?

Carter so far, has no major complaints, but give him time. He's still at that age where he thinks his father and I are wonderful. Well, except when we tell him "no computer" or "no TV" or "you have to come inside" or "get your hands out of your underwear." So really, thinking about it now, he's kind of mad at us a lot. But when he's NOT mad, he thinks we're awesome.

Sorry. Excuse me. This post really has no point. I know I'm supposed to wrap it up with some kind of inspirational story or thought, but I don't have it in me today. Maybe if they'd KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE INFERNAL BEEPING FOR TWO SECONDS, I could come up with something.


In other news, I am never eating again. I got on the scale this morning and WOW. Wow. You have to be really dedicated to your craft to attain this particular level of rapid weight gain. I need to do something about this. TODAY. Or possibly on Monday.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am Fashion Challenged

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Yes. Sad, but true.

It's not a new thing, either. I used to get Seventeen Magazine back in high school and I would slowly go through the magazine circling things, longing to look as cute as the models did in their pleated skirts and sweater sets (shut up, it was the eighties). We were poor though, and I got most of my clothes for freshman and sophmore year from the thrift store.

See, this is the part of the story where, if I had any eighties cred at all, I would then sit in my room and teach myself to sew (with the theme from St. Elmo's Fire playing in the background of course), creating dozens of cute and trendy outfits made from somebody's vintage cast-offs and dental floss. I'd show up on the first day of school looking cute in my one-of-a-kind fashions, and Keith from Some Kind of Wonderful would fall in love with me because I was so quirky and alternative and real and crap.

Yeah, in the real world, this is just the part where I show up at school looking really, really ugly.

(Note: In my early twenties, when I was fairly thin for about five minutes, I dated a guy who looked EXACTLY like Keith/Eric Stolz. EXACTLY. His name was Justin and he was hilarious. He was also a HUGE jerk and we fought constantly. I HATED him, but I couldn't break up with him because - if I stayed with him, I could pretend he was Keith from SKOW. And I loved Keith. During the few moments each date when he would actually shut up for ten seconds in a row there was some lovely internal wish fulfillment happening. Unfortunately, he was not capable of staying quiet for long. One night when I really just wanted to spend some quality time making out with my imaginary boyfriend Keith, Justin instead chose instead to start in on me about polygamy and how we would be required to live it someday, in heaven. And so I had to kill him. But it was fun while it lasted.)

Even after high school, I never learned the skill of putting together an outfit. I have shirts, I have pants, I have skirts, I have shoes. I have no outfits. I don't know how to accessorize. I look at the other women and try to figure it out, how they combined a bunch of stuff and it resulted in something adorable. I shop at the same stores, combine a bunch of stuff and end up with something both awkward and uncomfortable, or on a really good day end up somewhere in the vicinity of "trying too hard."

I like the idea of having cute clothes, but the reality never quite translates. I think it's a talent - an art form that I will just never understand, kind of like modern art. I can sit and stare, and muse, and appreciate, but I can't actually accomplish it on my own. The closest I get to achieving any kind of fashion related artistic accomplishment is performance art - in the vein of constant public humiliation.

Because - people? If there is something embarrassing you can do with clothes – I’ve done it. I’ve had people come up to me to “discreetly” remove dry cleaning tags and price tags from my sleeves, or XXL tags from the back of my thighs. I've worn shoes that don't match to work, and not realized it until the end of the day. I had a very nice old lady approach me at Smiths the other day to ask if I "meant" to wear my shirt inside out. Once, during a period of rapid weight loss, my slip fell off while I was singing a solo in church, on stage, and I had no choice but to gingerly pick it up and continue singing while I watched my friends dissolve into hysterics in the congregation.

My attempt at Word Illustrations, ala Kristy.
The humiliation, it is not a stranger to me.

I'll never forget what happened right after we moved into our current neighborhood. Our neighborhood is sort of upscale, and is full of trendy, gorgeous, thin women, the kind of women that scare the living crap out of me. I was supposed to meet some of them to go walking, and as usual, was running late.

I was a scattered mess - nervous and tense because there was the possibility that I might have to participate in actual small talk, which makes me incredibly jumpy. (I think I would function better in the world if everyone had a little keyboard attached to their forehead and we could just type messages to each other instead of ever, ever talking.) I flew into my closet, and miracle of miracles, managed to find a few things that sort of - MATCHED, that sort of looked like they might possibly go together - black sweats, a black hoodie, and a white t-shirt. I threw them on and checked myself out in the mirror. I looked - passable. Nothing stood out. Socially acceptable exercise camouflage? Check.

So I run out the door, find the group and we all start walking and talking. To my amazement, I'm fitting in, or at least managing not to make a complete idiot of myself. The women all seem smart, funny, and unfortunately for me, extremely fit. I start to sweat, so I take off my hoodie.

A minute later, one of the women looks at me and starts laughing. I am perplexed. A second later another one looks and cracks up. Now I’m freaking out a little. Bad high school flashbacks. This is not good.

I look at the blonde one, feeling panicky. “What? WHAT?!!”

She points at my shirt.

I look down. I am wearing my husband’s garment top.

Put me out of my misery. Please tell me you have a fashion horror story of your own. Or that you will take pity on me and teach me the strange art of accessorizing.

P.P.S. For my non-mormon friends, who are scratching their heads and thinking, "What in the ??" Garments are special clothes that some mormons wear under their regular clothes - a reminder of certain covenants they've made - kind of like how some Jews wear a yarmulke on their heads. Anyway, it's white, and t-shirtish, but, uh, definitely not socially acceptable outerwear for women. Not by a long shot.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Pin It My sister emailed me to tell me to update my blog or suffer the consequences, so here I am. I just couldn't blog this week. Nothing seemed the slightest bit amusing. We have been hanging on by a (rapidly fraying) thread.

We took Carter back to the doctor again yesterday. His breathing was a lot better, but I was starting to wonder if he'd developed pneumonia. He started throwing up mucus yesterday, poor kid. (He has a mean gag reflex. He will throw up on a DIME. The good part of that though, is that he has learned to run for the toilet if he thinks he's going to barf. Only three year old I know who consistently barfs right into the toilet. As a former bulimic, I'm SO proud. He's definitely his mother's son.)

The doc says his lungs are clear, and that all of the loose snot is actually a good thing, and that he should be feeling better any day now. He actually DOES feel great during the day. He wants to play outside, and since there are always other children outside who he might infect, we can't let him do that a whole lot. He is not happy with us. We have resorted to far too much TV, far too much computer. The nighttime still isn't much fun for him. He coughs all night long. They gave him some ultra strong cough medicine and last night we didn't hear a peep. We had to go in and check on him several times to make sure he was still breathing. Abby and Sarah are back in school and feeling fine.

Really - thank you so much to everyone who commented, called, and emailed me. It meant a lot to me. I am honestly so touched to know people care. I am so completely socially delayed in real life that I end up isolating myself a bit. It is odd that comments should become so meaningful, but they are. So thank you.

I have been away from blogging not only because we've been busy worrying about survival, but also because I've had a lot of work. I write for a living and usually love it, but unfortunately, the soul sucking, boring, dry, make-me-want-to-stab-a-fork-in-my-eye nature of the jobs I've completed lately (including a technical response to a request for a proposal from the DMV, a brochure and website for an SAP programmer, a Chiropractic Practice ezine, and a series of articles on economic strategies for credit unions) have left me feeling dead inside. DEAD. The thought of writing for fun is starting to sound completely foreign.

I've been working late hours too - I got 2 hours of sleep on Wednesday, and 2.5 on Thursday. My husband brought me a bag of minature candy bars on Thursday morning, because he knew I needed some sugar energy, and I ATE THE WHOLE THING. The whole thing people. In two hours. Help.

P.S. I am not pregnant. Someone asked if pregnancy would be a good thing or a bad thing. BAD THING, what with the whole impending uterine rupture thing my doctor keeps harping on. We really need to TAKE STEPS, I know.

P.P.S. Carter just asked us to "pause" the board game Candyland so that he could go to the bathroom. Yup. Too much TV.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Pin It This was our Saturday:

He is doing much better now. He is able to breathe most of the time, but he still sounds a lot like a seal. He thought the hospital was an AMAZING place, what with the free stuffed animal, and the cookies, and the soda, and the coloring books, and the non-stop TV. The hospital (which I love) is a bit sleepy, and the nurses and staff fussed over him quite a bit.

Abby is the only healthy family member right now - Sarah is starting to get sick, and my husband and I both have fevers and sore throats. I always thought adults couldn't get croup, so I have no idea what that's about. Maybe it's sympathetic croup or something. Is there such a thing?

The awesome folks in our neighborhood somehow found out about our trip to the ER and we have been bombarded with rice krispy treats and offers of casserole. I was lying around in bed last night after the kids went to sleep, moaning and feeling sorry for myself because my head was exploding. I heard my husband talking and wondered if he'd gone delirious and started talking to himself, so I ventured out of my room to check on him. He was at the front door, talking to some neighbors who were dropping off treats. I tried to hide, but they saw me, and I was forced to come to the door with my hair sticking straight up in the air, wearing my five year old gap t-shirt (my comfort t-shirt that I can't get rid of) with the hole in the front, and my pink sweat pants. Nice. Not embarrassing at all. Nope.

I am trying to retain my sense of humor about it, but nothing seems all that funny today. It's not as though anything horrendously serious has happened. I'm sure every kid in the world gets croup two or three times. I am just extremely melodramatic (in case you haven't noticed). Thanks for all of your kind wishes...