Wednesday, October 31, 2012

even more car conversations

i promise this post isn't about winkys.  there's only so much of that a person can handle.  i should know.  so no more winky talk around here.  today i'm moving on to a much more appropriate topic.

(drum roll please)


you heard me.  my children are learning all kinds of valuable tidbits here at the white house.  and i run an anti-discrimination household.  no topic is off limits.  clearly.

now that harrison can read he provides a running commentary during road trips. 

"mommy, that sign says speed limit 40 but you are going 45" 
"right lane must turn right" 
"watch for bikes"
"no u-turn"

and one that doesn't actually need the ability to read...

"mommy, when the light turns yellow it means slow down but you went faster."

the little rascal thinks he knows everything.

a couple weeks ago, however, he read a sign and needed help figuring out the meaning. 

"mommy, what's MMJ?"

seriously?  couldn't he have skipped over that one?  lord help me. 

i took a deep breath and explained that the letters in the sign were short for the bigger words Medical Mari Juana but did not elaborate further.  thankfully, his curiosity was satisfied.  no doubt he filed that info away in his ever-expanding file cabinet of a brain and will pull it out when we least expect it.  probably at church.  the pastor will say, "hi harrison, good to see you today" and harrison will respond back, "MMJ means medical mari juana."  yup.  i'd bet money on it. 

a few days later, as we were driving to the library, we had another drug related incident.  i was stopped at a red light (i slowed for the yellow, thank you very much) and a bass-booming car pulled up to the right of us.  i looked at the driver, he looked at me, i looked away.  you know how that goes.  but then, in my peripheral vision, i noticed he was getting jumpy.  he kept inching forward and revving his engine.  i looked over at him again and could not believe what i saw.

the driver had a glass pipe in his mouth, had a piece of tin foil in his left hand and was holding a lighter under the foil with his right hand. 

he was smoking meth. 

while in a car.

while driving a car.

i was stunned. 

what do i do?  should i mind my own business?  should i call the police?  should i call 911?  should i call the non-emergency line?  look at his license plate!  get the number!  look at his car!  what's the make, model, color?!  my mind was RACING!  almost as fast as he was when the light finally turned green.

i did end up calling 911.  (when have i ever minded my own business?)  i was able to give them our location, which direction he was headed and all the descriptive info i could remember.  i have no idea if they were able to find him - i highly doubt it.  maybe it wasn't even worth their time to try.  

this is what i do know - that experience left me rattled and i had lots to process afterwards.  i can understand a drug habit.  i really can.  i personally don't think i will ever struggle with that particular addiction but i do have addictions to coffee, sugar, and in earlier life i used lying to get me through emotionally difficult times.  so, on some level, i get it. 


how absolutely idiotic does someone have to be to smoke meth while operating a motor vehicle?

it's hard for me to answer that question.  just as it was hard to answer harrison's many questions after i hung up with the 911 dispatcher.  i did my best, which is all i can do in any situation.

my only hope is that my boy's curiosities about life's tougher subjects continue to be satisfied in a way that maintains their innocence (not ignorance) and optimism for a long, long time. 

oh man. 

i think i'd rather go back to talking about winkys.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

more car conversations

we always play some sort of game while in the car.  most of the places we frequent are within 10 or 15 minutes from home but occasionally our drives take longer and it's nice to have something to keep the boys occupied. 

on the way to school we shout out what type of vehicle we want to see.  graham ALWAYS wants to see firetrucks and trash trucks.  harrison varies more - anything from armored trucks to police cars to school buses.  on lengthier trips we search for shapes in the clouds and play "i spy" with colors, but our favorite activity is a guessing game we call "who am i?"

one player gives clues that describe an animal and the other players guess which animal it is.  simple, right?  the following is a synopsis of the most recent time we played "who am i", while driving to pick up a friend from the airport (40 minutes from home).

graham:  mama, let's play who am i.  (pronounced who AN i)

me:  okay, buddy, you go first.

graham:  let me think of an animal (pronounced am-i-nal).  okay.  i have four legs (pronounced wegs), a really big winky, i live in the water and i have a face.  who am i?

let me recap that for you - four legs, big winky, water-dwelling, with a face.  that should be easy!

harrison: an alligator?

graham: no, let me give you a clue.  i'm a hippo!

harrison: graham!  you're not supposed to tell us!

me: okay guys...graham, go again but this time don't tell us.

graham:  who am i?  i have four legs, a small big winky, i'm brown and i live on a farm.

recap - four legs, small/big winky, brown, farm-dwelling.  crystal clear!

harrison:  graham, why do you think everything has a winky?



me:  how about we listen to some music for a while?

Monday, October 29, 2012

conversations in the car

riding along in my automobile
my babies behind me, i'm at the wheel
cruising and playing the radio
with no particular place to go

(i paraphrased chuck berry...had to set the scene.  can you envision it?  ok.  moving on.)

and then from the backseat i hear
a phrase that would make me say oh dear
"mama my winky sure is growing"
 lord help me i prayed as the car was slowing

yes son that's normal it happens sometimes
it's called an erection it's completely fine
daddys get them and little boys too
just leave it alone it'll go back down soon

being a mom to boys can be a chore
i never know what these two have in store
they certainly keep me on my toes
and make me spew coffee out my nose

especially when they talk about things that grow


Friday, October 26, 2012

just a moment in the life of graham

graham goes to preschool four mornings a week.  our routine on those days is always the same: drop him off, drive home, do homeschool with harrison, go pick him up, drive home, eat lunch and lastly (insert hallelujah chorus) a 30 minute room time.  

god bless room time.

room time = two boys in their bedroom.  i set the timer for 30 minutes and they can't come out until the timer goes off.  sometimes i set the timer for 40 minutes but i tell them it's set for 30.  hehehe. sometimes i conveniently forget to set the timer at all. 


room time gives me a chance to lay flat on the floor, elevate my feet, concentrate on deep breathing and pretend i have no responsibilities.  it gives the boys the opportunity to rest or read or throw toys at each other or build forts with the mass of bedding that was smoothed straight just hours before.  

yesterday graham came out of his room without a shirt.  he claimed he was hot.  we woke up with 3 inches of snow blanketing the world outside and the thermostat inside our home read 68.  i told him "go back up those stairs and don't come down without a shirt."  he marched upstairs as only a three-year-old under protest can - every stomp on every stair pounding out his frustration.  he reappeared wearing this:

a cowboy vest from the costume bin

lightning mcqueen hat and gloves

a grumpy attitude

"i'm too sexy for my shirt"

there is never - and i really do mean never - a dull moment around these parts.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Which would you choose?

We stayed up late last night to watch the news.  Thankfully there is a 9 o'clock broadcast because my eyes just wouldn't have been able to stay open until 10.  I'm an early-to-bed, late-to-rise kind of girl.

We've been following the story about the disappearance (and what turned out to be murder) of little Jessica Ridgeway closely for the past two weeks and were pleased to hear an arrest was made yesterday.  You can read the news report here.  This took place in Westminster, a suburb of Denver just north of us.  It's where my husband's brother and his family live and work.  Westminster is a part of our county and our school district.  To give you some perspective, we live at approximately 1st avenue and the crimes took place at approximately 100th avenue.  It's too close for comfort.

The entire metro area has been on edge.  Parents are no longer allowing their children to walk or from school.  Personally, Jeremy won't even let the boys to go check the mail unless he or I go with them.       During the news conference yesterday Westminster police said they hoped this arrest would help put the community at ease.  I hope so too.  It's difficult to hear about evil like this and not hold your babies a bit closer, stare at strangers a bit harder and constantly fear the worst. 

What I've been wondering since hearing about the arrest (and, more specifically, how the suspect's mother called the police to turn in her son) is how the suspect's mom must be feeling.  After the news report was finished last night I turned to Jer and asked, "Would you rather be the father of one who was taken too soon; taken in such an awful way?  Or the father of one who committed such a heinous act?"

Of course I would choose neither.  I simply cannot imagine being in either position.  But, still, the question lingers and my thoughts continually focus on both of these poor mamas.  One with a baby who is gone and one with a baby who is...

Not sure I can finish that sentence.  

My prayers will be with them both.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

We went to the pumpkin patch this morning for the Little Mister's first preschool field trip.  He has tagged along on all Big Brother's preschool field trips so this one just seemed "old hat".  One thing that did get him excited, however - he finally got to ride the bus!  In the mind of an almost-four-year-old boy, the bus is the very best part of any field trip.  I tried desperately to get a photo of my two precious boys holding their pumpkins.  The one above has Harrison a bit out of focus and Graham refusing to look at the camera but given my other options, it will have to do.  Evidence below:

Exhibit A.  Grumpy face pumpkin patch picture.

Exhibit B.  Silly face pumpkin patch picture.

Exhibit C.  Izzy the Goat.  At least someone posed sweetly for their pumpkin patch picture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Promise I'm Not a Stalker

Yesterday I placed a phone call to the local Mardel Christian Book Store. Was I looking for a specific book? No. Did I need a quote for homeschool curriculum? Not quite. Was I calling to inquire if they are an official Operation Christmas Child drop-off location again this year? Not so much.

The conversation went something like this...

“Mardel's, can I help you?”

“Uh....Hi. Uh...I, um...I have a bit of an odd request. I'm looking for one of your employees.”

And then, with abandon, I spewed forth my mind-boggling crazy speech.

“She has a daughter named Erika who used to be a hair stylist at Fantastic Sam's and I know this is weird but I called to make an appointment and they said she wasn't there anymore and they wouldn't give me any information about where she went but then, thankfully, I remembered Erika said her mom works at Mardel and so...”

The woman on the other end of the line interrupted, saving me from spiraling out of control, and said “Yes, that would be me.”

“Really? YES!!” (while double fist pumping the air)

But I still went right over the edge anyway...

“Oh that is so awesome! I called Fantastic Sam's and they said she wasn't working there anymore. And you know how those other stylists just want to get your business and they were withholding your daughter's new employment information from me as if it was high-level classified stuff. I even called them twice to see if I could get a different girl to tell me where Erika went. But that girl wouldn't give it up either. How rude! And, you see, she's the only one who can cut my boy's hair. She's so gentle and sweet with them and she does a really fine job. You should know that, as her mother and all. She's a really great stylist. Then I started worrying about her. Did she quit because she got so busy with nursing school? Or were the other stylist's mean to her there? Did she find a salon closer to home? Is she even still cutting hair?! Because I will just be lost if she's not cutting hair anymore!”

But I saved my best line for last.

“Oh, and I promise I'm not a stalker!”

As if Erika's sweet mother had even an ounce of reason to believe that.

Can I give you a bit of background here? I feel as though I need to offer some justification for the loss of sanity. So here it is: when it comes to my children I've had a difficult time finding and keeping hair stylists. It took a while to find our favorite stylist, Miss Pam, who worked at a shop marketed especially for kids. It was one of those places where the boys got to sit on carousel-like horses during their trim instead of a typical salon chair. They had a play area with a Thomas train table, complete with tons of track and engines. The boys could also watch videos while having their hair combed, spritzed and buzzed. It doesn't get much better than riding a horse and watching Lightning McQueen at the same time! Not only was the environment heavenly, Miss Pam was amazing. She was sweet and gentle and fast. With an emphasis on fast.

One day I called to make an appointment with Pam and was told that the shop had change owners and Pam was no longer working there. (Don't get me started on the immediate panic and despair that hung over me). No, she didn't know where Pam went, but we were welcome to come in and Rebecca, the new owner with whom I was speaking, would be happy to give the boys a trim. The thing was this: I wasn't really getting good phone vibes from Rebecca. But I took a deep breath, decided it was probably just the shock of no-more-Miss-Pam I was feeling, and set up a time for the next afternoon.

When it came time to take the boys for their haircuts I explained that Miss Pam wasn't there anymore and we would get to meet Miss Rebecca instead. We walked in the door and were greeted by the one and only woman in the shop. It could only be Rebecca. Sadly, the woman in front of me did not invoke the need for the respectful title “Miss”. I may be clueless about fashion but I did not think it lady-like to wear a bra and skin tight, lace-up leather pants to a place of business. Maybe the lace-sleeved cardigan that covered absolutely nothing made it acceptable?

The only two words I can conjure to describe her are “hard” and “living”. Imagine the result of a hard-lived life and you'll visualize Rebecca. I wanted to grab the boys, make a 180 and bolt out the door. But I didn't. I smiled, shook her hand and introduced her to the boys. Then I tried desperately to stop staring at the tear-drop prison tattoos under her right eye as she gave the boys an ever-so-average haircut.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder set in quickly after that event and I vowed to never take the boys to a stylist that didn't come with a personal recommendation. Thankfully, it wasn't long until someone told me about Erika.

Erika is young and fun. Her own hair is white and pink and black. All at the same time. She is so sweet and kind to the boys. She is gentle and quick and knows exactly just how tight to clip the cape around their neck so 1) they don't choke but 2) they don't get little hairs down their shirt, which causes much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the car on the way home. And, best of all, she gives them a sucker when they are done. Erika quickly became our new favorite stylist. It was for these reasons, along with my PTSD that I went a little “one flew over the cuckoo's nest” on Erika's poor innocent mother.

So, back to yesterday's phone conversation...

Probably in an effort to get me to stop foaming at the mouth, Erika's mom told me that her daughter was, indeed, still cutting hair and gave me the name and location of her new salon. No doubt she hung up with me and instantly called Erika to warn her about the freakazoid stalker client who hunted her down and plans to schedule an appointment soon. In fact, it's on my to-do list for this afternoon. I wonder what in the world Erika is going to think when I say, “Hello! Remember me? How in the world could you just up and leave me stranded and alone with no one to cut my children's hair? Don't you know I NEED you?! How's tomorrow at 3:00?”

I can not wait to find out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

a search for truth

“I'm taking a college course.” That is what I told my high school enrollment counselor as I sat across from her in the tiny, cluttered enrollment office. It was late August and my senior year was about to begin. She was a friendly woman who happened to be the mother of a childhood friend, the matriarch of a family with whom we used to attend church. The thing was, it was a bold-faced lie. I lied to her. I looked her square in the face and lied to her. “Which class are you taking?” Oh dear. I guess I should have thought of that wee little detail. “Uh....English.” Lie number two. The counselor paused. She looked at me questioningly. I held my breath. Uh oh. Why is she looking at me like that? Smile. Just smile. Breathe. If I had only known then what I know now – English, at the college level, isn't called English. It's called Comp or Intro to Lit or World Lit or Advanced Comp or Shakespeare Seminar or Feminism in American Lit or Buddhism in American Lit...basically, it's called anything but English. She looked back down at her papers and continued to fill in my schedule for the year. She chose to believe me. It was probably the whole “went to church together” thing that allowed her to give me the benefit of the doubt. She should have trusted her gut. I still have absolutely no idea what possessed me, in that moment, to fabricate such a story. I did not walk into her office with a plan to try for a “get out of school free” card. But as we began talking about the year ahead, in a split-second, before I even knew what was out of my mouth, the duplicitous tale was woven. And I can't be certain it was a choice. It was simply a reaction. It could be better characterized as a panic-driven, instantaneous response than a carefully thought out decision. I have vague memories of other kids – the really smart kids – leaving high school early to drive to the community college nearby and participate in legitimately-enrolled-in classes. I, on the other hand, had no interest in earning college credit while I was in high school. Because I was not a smart kid. (Ha! Boy, now that's the truth!) In hindsight it would have been an excellent idea. My focus, though, was to be at school the shortest amount of time and do the least amount of work. Laziness? Maybe. Partly, yes, I do think I was lazy. I was certainly not a disciplined student. I did enough to get by. And, fortunately for me (or UNfortunately, as I look back on it) that wasn't much. Looking deeper, though, I believe my deceitfulness was rooted in self-defense. A protective measure. A fight or flight (in my case: flight) type need to be at home. To be away from school. To be alone. To be away from people. To be in control. To be unencumbered. To be...I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out. Ultimately, my lie was an escape mechanism. And let me just be honest now, it was not just this one lie. It was lyING. Plural. Multiple. Habitual. My lying became an escape mechanism. One that I have employed far too many times.