Fine Lines

Wow, I’m grumpy. So, so grumpy.
It’s funny how this works. Funny peculiar, not funny ha ha. To my kids, it must be funny bewildering. I’m sure they don’t know what to make of me on a night like tonight.

I think I must have a very, very fine line in there somewhere. On one side of the line, there is celebration of life and children. The more the merrier! Ha ha ha ha! Jubilation! Yes, 7-10 children at a time! Come one, come all! I don’t even need to know where you live and it doesn’t matter how you behave when in my presence.

On the other side of that line, there is Go to Bed. Now. Wny am I the only one who ever picks up ah.toy around here? Bunch o’ ingrates. Dirty little street urchins.

The process of crossing over from one side of the line to the other is completely random and illogical. It can take all day to get there, such as today.  It can be prompted by excessive noise. Mess. Or perhaps even warm ears.  The mess factor is definitely a large trigger point. I hate tripping over junk. But I do enough of it to create my own bad dance moves.

The sad fact of all of this is that I don’t have any solutions. Barking = Ineffective. Frothing at the mouth? Almost humorous. Restrictions? Aah. Who cares? Lecturing = Blah blah blah blah blah.  Rewards? No, thank you. We are already spoiled rotten. Punishments? Pa-shaw.

I need solutions. I’m thinking about just throwing out all the toys and giving each one of them a corn cob doll. It was good enough for Mary Ingalls after all. And Laura didn’t even have that for crying out loud. So what if it isn’t 1885?

As I was exhaling from a day of pick pick pick, mess, mess, mess, bleed, whine, spill, flop and spill again and then as I was further exhaling from having typed it all up, thus reliving it for the second time, my 2nd born walked in.

“Mama,” he said. “My neck has bumps all over it. So many bumps. All over. Feel,” he said. It’s true. He’s all broken out. His glands are swollen. Something is going on. I need to call my mom, the doctor. She’ll know what to attribute all of these odd maladies to.

“Yeah,” I said. “You’ve got something going on with you right now. Probably the best thing we can do for you tonight is get you some sleep,” I said.

“Yeah,” he agreed, starting to turn and walk away. Then he turned back around. “I want to give you a hug,” he said.

“I want to give you a hug back,” I said. He wrapped his arms around my neck for a moment. Then, as he pulled away, he kissed me square on the mouth, which is a bit unusual for him. “I love you, boy,” I said.  Now go to bed. Now. And pick up your trash on the way up the stairs. Ungrateful slob.

Just kidding. I feel much better now. I guess all I needed was a hug.

Cold Ear

I have a special skill. It isn’t blogging. Or dog grooming. Or even chin ups, Flecky FigPenny. My own special talent, shared only with a small contingency of people, is ear folding. I can fold my 40 year old ears inside themselves, like they are a compact, portable body part. Folds down for easy storage! I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years, as a companion to my thumb sucking habit. I know. I sound like a real catch, don’t I? I do not still suck my thumb, just to be perfectly clear. But I do still fold my ears. And in constantly doing so, the cartilage never hardened. They are as floppy as a cocker spaniel’s.  But the strangest thing about this weird little skill is that I prefer them tucked in. This is a problem, because it doesn’t look normal to be doing this. I do it subconsciously and often find that I’m in portable mode, unawares, with 10 people staring at me trying to figure out which birth defect to log this under. I distinctly remember a Sunday morning in church about 14 years ago when I glanced over into a section of the building we called the Alcove and noticed several pairs of eyes glued to me with very bewildered expressions. I reached up, slowly, like a person trying not to move when a pit bull is about to eat them alive. Oh. They were tucked in. Both of them. I tried to pop them out without anyone seeing my hand or my ears move. Kind of a ventriloquist situation, except without the mouth. Or the puppet. I tried to just look away from the gawkers and get back to the preaching at hand. Listen to the sermon, people. Don’t be afraid of what is different.

Anyway. Besides the very odd fact that I prefer my ears tucked in, there is one more oddity wrapped up in this: they have to be cold. For it to work…and be comfy…my ears have to be cold. The summers are rough. I just can’t get that quality time with them like I really need. But the worst ear-folding week of my life came in July 2000. Hawaii. Everything else about Hawaii was to the utmost level of perfection. The only problem was that the islands were 84 degrees at all times, with no air conditioning in any vehicle or establishment anywhere. So my ears were hot. For a week. I kept trying to fold them, and then I would pop them out in disgust and frustration.  Hours would pass. I’d try again, only to fail. Again. This went on for more than a week. I was desperate. I even tried ice. That was too cold.

Many wonderful things occurred while in Hawaii. Boogie boarding, toe-ring wearing, cliff diving, snorkeling with the sea turtles, etc. And when we boarded the red-eye flight 8 days later, I left a small part of my heart there on that island. But when that cold blast of airline AC came on overhead, I aimed it straight at one ear and then the other, tucked in, and went to sleep. Trading a small part of my heart for the large, floppy part of my ears was small price to pay.

My ears are cold tonight. It’s a good ending to a good week.

Say what you will about this talent. Maybe you’re even one of the ones I’ve caught staring. But deep down, you are wishing yours folded down for easy storage too.

Got a doll submission today. I spit part of a girl scout cookie out when I saw the photo. Dig deep. I know you have a past with some doll, somewhere.

It was never supposed to be about Improvement

Todd and I were talking on the way home from church tonight. Actually, everyone was talking on the way home from church tonight. When this occurs simultaneously, it sounds like a bad crowd noise scene in a low budget Japanese film. Often Todd and I cannot hear each other. But tonight we could.

“I started laughing in class tonight, inappropriately, when I thought of a new food contest,” I said.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Hold a raw egg in your mouth for 60 seconds and then spit the yolk as far as you can. Distance will determine the winner,” I replied.

“So basically,” he responded, “Your blog is now a stunt show.”

“No,” I said, firmly. “We just have Food Fridays.”

“But you said that Fridays were going to be you doing something you’d never done before. For growth. That’s what the tomato was,” he stated, quite reasonably. I ever-so-vaguely recalled some portion of this conversation.

“Well, the tomato went bad. There was no growth there. It was never supposed to be about improvement,” I said.

“Ok, then,” he said. “You’ve just become a morning DJ show in written form.”

Hmm. That’s not good. We’ll have to do some thinking on that one.

Today ran away with me. I felt like I could not keep up, which probably was somehow related to going to bed at 3:15 a.m. and getting back up at 6:40 a.m. That’s not good math and it definitely isn’t the better part of wisdom.  I will say that what IS the better part of wisdom is that the only thing I took to school for Mama’s Boy’s birthday was some well-thought-out goody bags. Anyone who has read the Cake Wrecks entry from awhile back will know that I should not transport live food. Ever. Or bake. Or serve. Dropping off goody bags is right up my alley. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a gruesome goody bag incident. I’ve certainly never caused one. That feels good.

So the tomato didn’t work out so well. And I can’t play the trumpet. I don’t discipline myself very well in going to bed on time. But ultimately it actually IS about improvement.  For an ancient lady going on 3.5 hours of sleep, this day was a slam dunk. But I’m not chancing two sleepless nights in a row.  So I bid you a fond farewell for now.

I need your doll stories. Or pictures. Or videos. Or poems. Or genealogies.  Next week is going to be fun. Fire away.

Dear Boy,

It is 2:13 a.m. on March 16, 2011. It is my Mama’s Boy’s birthday. Every part of my back and eyelids are telling me to climb in bed next to Jingle Joints (my 9-yr-old. Why he is here on MY side of the bed is a lengthy, rather dull story, so I’ll skip that one for a slow day in Blogville.), but my heart is telling me to take a few moments and honor one of the most extraordinary boys ever born.

He truly is. Extraordinary. Almost extra-terrestrial really.

He was born on a Tuesday afternoon and placed immediately up against me for a first hold in this world. After about a minute of a strained cry, the doctor determined he wasn’t quite all right, so they ushered him away from me and he was gone for the next 8 hours. That was an exhausting 8 hours, swollen with anxiety about what was actually happening in the NICU. As it turned out, it was fairly standard stuff. But it isn’t standard to not have your arms around the baby you’ve loved for 9 months and who has only been in the world for a few hours. There is nothing that feels standard about that. When they finally let me see him, it was about 8 p.m. I was shot. But I was so happy to be headed down that corridor in a wheelchair. He was hungry. And screaming. Really. Really. Screaming. He can still scream, 7 years later. I scrubbed my hands, rolled around by his bassinet, and the nurse handed me my pink, wrinkly disgruntled baby. I laid him up against my chest and said,

“Hey, boy. It’s mama.”

And in that exact instant, he stopped crying. Not a peep. And then I started up. Because I couldn’t believe that he was here. That he was mine. That the sound of my words could be a salve to anyone’s soul. It was a moment I will remember until I don’t remember how to string two words together anymore.

That was the day he became my mama’s boy.

I ruined that beautiful scene 10 minutes later by almost passing out, actually throwing up into a cup, and handing that sweet swaddled nugget back to a stranger. Who knew having a baby could be so hard? Oh, yes. Everyone. But it got better from there. And it has ever since.

Since it is 2:27 now, I will not try to recap the 7 years following. They have been amazing. How can he be that cute? That smart? That weird? How can he not know that someone is about to club him for being so annoying at the worst possible moment? How does he not sense when the joke has gone too far? How can his jokes make me laugh so hard right before they go bad? How could God have been so good to me?

I need to find him a good wife. He’s amazing…but he’s going to need a good, good wife. I have begun praying on that one and will continue. But as with everything, I believe I should try to do my part. And so I will post a video that I hope will serve as a Meet the Arranged Husband audition tape. Have your daughters watch it. Send me one in return. And we’ll talk.

Happy Birthday, boy. You are amazing.

DSAUTODT and an announcement

Mom, Dad – Is Thomas in your attic? I need to know.

OK. Moving on.

I’m only going to do this one more time, at least today. Because right now the horse is already dead. And I am beating it with very little mercy.

This Daylight Savings thing. I thought we’d made it through unscathed. Why was I thinking that? Am I above natural law? On Sunday, I thought perhaps I was developing that skill. And I am thankful that Sunday was smooth and pleasant from start to finish. But that was Sunday. And we’re at Tuesday now.

I typically blog at night. You might note the fact that I didn’t last night. That’s because I had been whipped about the head and neck all day by my four short people and two extras. Four + two more makes SIX. Not just a regular six, either. Six that are under the influence of DSAUTODT. What does that stand for? Well, I’ll tell you. Daylight Savings Time is a completely false term. As I stated on Sunday, we aren’t saving anything. We didn’t save up over six months and have an extra hour to spend here. We stole it. We shifted it around unnecessarily and to our detriment. So I’m sitting at my own boardroom table and changing the name. Daylight Shifting Around Unnecessarily To Our Detriment Time.  DSAUTODT. If you practice, you can develop a pronunciation for that. It’s sure to catch on once I reach the right people. The fact that it is slightly hard for the tongue and palate is a reflection of the pain the change inflicts.  At any rate, the kids were crabby. Crabby like they’d taken a pill to transform them into an angry, hungry, mid-hibernation, bear with no conscience. Angry with enough energy to launch a space shuttle. Really I’m only talking about the middle children. They were a mess.

Today is a new day. With a new announcement. No, people. There is no fifth kid. Please go bother someone with only three. Better yet, really go bother someone with two. I’m off the market.

There has been much attention paid to Babe, the Snappshots doll. (By “much attention”, I mean that of the 10 people who stop by here regularly, 4 are quite bothered. Just wanted to clarify that the numbers here are not staggering ones.) I’ve heard everything from keep her, we love her to please no more pictures of abandoned sad little dolls. Fair enough. I will no longer photograph her abandoned. But in all fairness to me, I would like to point out that she is A DOLL. Not a real baby. She isn’t really even the representation of a real baby. She’s a real baby’s plaything.

But that’s an argument we can’t settle. What I’m noticing, though, is that many, many people have doll stories. A large portion of these stories are scary doll stories. A doll that haunted you as a child. A doll that started out cute and somehow three weeks later had all of its hair standing on end with the glassy-eyed gaze of a woman scorned. How DOES that happen? But there have also been stories of sweet dolls, funny dolls, sad dolls surfacing. Discovery Channel has Shark Week. Snappshots has EXTREME DOLL WEEK. Send me your stories, pictures, blurbs, poems, videos. Anything that depicts, verbally or photogenically, a doll, past or present, that is extreme in some way. Starting Monday, March 21, I will begin posting the more extreme things that come through. So if you’ve got something EDW worthy, send me an email at missy at snappshots dot com. I’ve already received two things that are definitely going up next week. This is a theme with promise.

I’ll leave you with an example of the creepy, since it is what you’ve come to expect of me. I borrowed this one from a friend’s garage (sorry, friend…please don’t be offended by this). She had a look in her eyes that is going to keep me up at night. So I set her in my hallway last night and promptly forgot I had done so. THREE TIMES this morning she scared the daylights (DSAUTODT) out of me. She also got an immediate remark from my 4-yr-old as she came down the stairs this morning, AND scared my 9-yr-old son. Twice. With dolls like this, who needs a pit bull?

Scary Town - Eye Level
The View from the Kitchen that scared me and my son a combined 5 times.

The 9-yr-old actually screamed a little when he came around the corner to this…

And….carry on.

The Great Shock

If the children had awakened as Smurfs this morning, I couldn’t have been more shocked. They are indeed still human, still pale, and still have full heads of hair — but to my great shock, Day 1 of Daylight Stealings Time was a flawlessly, perfectly perfect slice of perfection. Actually, I think the Smurf thing would have shocked me less.

I’ve been a parent for almost 10 years. This is my 9th Daylight Stealings transition as a parent. And this is the first one that didn’t embody the spittings of a grumpy dragon. They awakened happily on their own before 7:30 DST, we were early to church, they sat like angels through a long sermon, they ate their lunches like hungry street urchins, they helped rake and bag 8 bags of leaves from the front yard this afternoon (I can’t even go into the details of how well this one went…I’ll pass out), and sat through evening church as angelic as they had in the morning. No crying. No complaining. All day long.

I have two theories on the day:

  • Either my Daylight Stealings Transition Planning document is finally tweaked to efficiency and effectiveness,
  • I’m going to look up carefully as I walk out the front door tomorrow morning to avoid being beaned in the head by the dropping of the other shoe.

Until next November, may your memories, and mine, of that lost hour sweetly sustain us. Carry on.

A Stack of Leaves

A few minutes ago, while I was sitting on my rumpus relaxing, I heard a very small knock at the front door. This was a sound definitely made by a small set of knuckles. I went to the door, opened it, and looked down. Standing there at my stoop was my tiny 4-yr-old daughter. She had been playing in the front yard. As I stood there, she beamed at me, stretched out her arm, and said, “A presentation for you that is a present.”

Ah. A presentation that is a present. I looked to see what was pressed in her palm. It was a stack of green leaves from our Ligustrum tree. She had picked 7 leaves from my own tree and brought them to me.

I beamed back at her, bent down to take the leaves and hug her, and said. “Oh, thank you so much! This is wonderful.” And then I went to set the leaves down in the kitchen window sill and went back to what I was doing. Those were already my leaves. I didn’t need leaves. And yet, it was a very sweet thing that made me happy. She had brought me a love gift.

As I set those leaves down, I immediately thought about my pitiful attempts to bring my own “gifts” to God. Everything I can give Him is already His. Most of my gifts are weak and tiny. And yet, He wants me to come to Him. He wants us to offer Him our pathetic little offerings from the largest parts of our hearts.
I thought about this verse:

Acts 17:25-28
25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

He doesn’t need anything from me, but because I am His child, He wants the sorry stack of leaves from the tree that was His already. So I need to keep bringing them to Him. Thank you, Beloved, for reminding me of this today.

Daylight Pillaging

If you are reading this tonight, finish quickly and then go immediately to bed. You are in for a rude shock when that alarm goes off on your Sunday morning. Because it’s THAT night of the year. The night the Daylight Gremlin comes and steals the hour it has no right to touch.  All day I have been strategically planning for this. OK, if we eat breakfast and are done by 8:20, lunch at 11:36, dinner at 5…then 5 will be the new 6. We can throw the kids into the bath at 6:20. They can each have 4 minutes in the bath, which brings us to 6:36. Brush, jammy up, launch into bed, fall asleep immediately, and maybe we won’t have any melt downs tomorrow. As if. My plan mostly worked. It would have gone slightly better if SnuggleMonkey hadn’t scraped both knees today, causing her to walk like Baby Frankenstein throughout all of my evening instructions. That added at least 6 minutes to my process. By 8 NEW TIME, Beloved was out. The boys were out by 8:30 new time. And SnuggleMonkey was confined. That’s all I can say about her.

I predict a disaster. For 9 years, I have carefully written out a Daylight Savings Time Transition Planning document. It is foolproof and scientific. I have followed it painstakingly and tweaked it each year to utter perfection. And yet, each year, there is a screeching wreck that occurs the following morning between attitudes, and opinions, and the darkness that should not be. And so…though I have carried out this plan perfectly…a morning disaster awaits me. Only morning can tell on this one.

Pasted in below was my journal entry from last year’s Daylight Savings deal. I wrote it up on a Sunday morning.

What are we saving here? Daylight? Did we save it? No, we stole it from morning, when PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWAKE. So it will now be light when I want them asleep at night and dark when they are forced shockingly awake. It is now 7:18 on Sunday morning and every person is asleep. I find this silly. For the non-church going world, they are loving it. Sleeping in. It’s paradise for them. For the church-going world, why can we not start these ventures on Friday night? I want to propose that all future ridiculous Daylight Stealings start on Friday nights, so that at least I can roll over and go back to sleep in the dark on a Saturday.

One year later, I stand by this emotion. To ease the pain of even the thought of a lost hour, I am going to stare at this photo of a tiny Beloved. It will stop the crying of my tired soul…

19 months

Snappshots First Annual CONE OFF at the Park

Weird food competitions at the park seem to be the new Friday tradition. Last Friday, you might have observed my attempt at eating a tomato. Contrary to popular hypothesis, I did not actually throw up that tomato. I gagged. A lot. And I would have thrown up if I had continued. Instead, I spat it out and chucked it. And that was that.

Today was a McDonalds vanilla cone eat-off with Erin the Organizer and Jessie the Icecreamater. In the video, I referred to Erin as the Devourer. (I cannot say that out loud. I tried three times and bungled it every time.) But Erin the Organizer stands, because she strategically planned out her cone eating agenda. Top, top, side, side, bottom, bottom.

Watch. And be amazed. Be very amazed.

I laugh every time I watch this for a few reasons:

  • Jessie is adorable. I got beat by a 7 year old.
  • Erin is FIERCE. I had no idea what I was dealing with. You can tell that by my passive Mary Poppins around-the-cone eating pattern that I chose. What was I thinking. She was T-Rex eating rabbit whole. You can almost hear the bones crunching.
  • Things are popping out all over on Erin’s face due to the intense focus. It’s intense. Watch it more than once.
  • I went on with my Mary Poppins thing long after she had won. Dummy.
  • My son, Mamasboy, is loitering in the background. What must  he think of me and of his upbringing? I should ask him. Except I’m afraid of what he’ll say.
  • The Informinator was betting on Erin. Traitor.
  • Two others were rooting for Jessie. Whatever.

Same time next Friday for a Food Off.

Throwback Thursday

I know I shouldn’t post this, but it took me back to the days of potty training the Squishy. She put me THROUGH IT, let me tell you. I’m sure I lost some very valuable days off my life expectancy just in following her around and trying to determine when her self-imposed constipation would finally end. If you don’t like gross stories, don’t read this one. It’s Throwback Thursday.

Just now I was dancing like a fiend to Somebody to Love by Justin Bieber. While trying to dance my flab away, SnuggleMonkey had to “go.” Since she refuses to do her business in a potty she could fall into, she uses the $22 Target training pot. It is difficult to clean a bottom while still dancing. I did.

Then, still dancing, I carried the “success” (though in many ways it was horrific) to the actual pot to flush. In that process, still dancing, I began to gag. Still dancing and now also gagging, I emptied the evidence and flushed. Gagging worse now and dancing not quite so much, I tried to clean the Target pot.

And then, no longer dancing at all, I threw up. Twice. And now I look like someone being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have GOT to get her using the regular pot.

All gagging aside now, I gotta go. Back to dancing.  Hasta.