Saturday, January 31, 2009

He Said What?!

When I was pregnant with Lane, my husband was known to make "innocent" comments that just sounded WRONG. (Okay, you got me, he STILL does that.) Early on in the first trimester, Dustin (who was 19 at the time and still a long, lanky young man who actually had some pretty hot, defined muscles but had always wanted MORE muscles) said: "Hey, maybe if our baby is a boy he'll get my height and your thickness and be a linebacker." That's right. My thickness. I remembered this comment the other day when we were having trouble finding the boys new pants that fit. Lane didn't get that "thickness" and like his father before him, he swam in the 14 regulars he tried on and we were debating on whether mandatory belts or slim fit was the best course of action. Tatton and Russell on the other hand... Well, let's just say that they couldn't get their respective pants to button up. So, we ventured into the Husky section. Tatton has been sensitive in the whole body image department lately and I felt the need to give him a dressing room pep talk. I told him about how my brothers (all buff & stand out athletes, etc.) had to wear huskies. I remember them (right at Tatton's age) putting on a little pudge around the middle right before they hit puberty and got tall and muscly. That was when I had my "Oh..." moment and realized that my sons had indeed gotten my "thickness" that their father had requested. Word to the wise though Guys, even if made in the spirit of future football hopes, NEVER call your wife THICK, okay?

During that same pregnancy, Dustin also said, "Hey, our baby might be a white person like you, huh?" Um, excuse me? I mean, we're both white, so I don't really know what that even means... He clarified. "No, I mean REALLY white like you. I hope he's got my coloring." Oh, do you now? Well, I feel pretty, thanks. For those of you who don't know, Lane did indeed turn out to be a white person just like me. Lane and I both come in two color options: pasty white bordering on translucent and lobster red when exposed to the sun. In the skin department we seemed to split as a family 50/50. 3 of us are "white people" and the other 3 can stay in the sun for HOURS just getting bronzed and bronzer. Ultimately, I agree with Dustin now. I kind of wish that all of the kids had gotten his coloring. Worrying your child is going to get a blistering sunburn because they've been outside for 15 minutes and you forgot to put sunblock on them is not nearly as nice as having kids that never seem to burn whatsoever. I'm sure the two kids who got my skin tone would have preferred to have skipped having access to that part of my DNA. Poor Lane, between his OCD issues with worrying about being sick and his history of sunburns, he's been giving himself skin cancer checks since he was 6. "Uh, Mom- does this mole look like it's suspicious to you?!" is something I hear a lot.

Well, I guess I'd better go clean some more. :-( I hear I'm having a Super Bowl party at my house tomorrow. Don't get me wrong. I like watching the Super Bowl too. (Okay, okay, I don't LOVE football, but I like the food and commercials.) I just have no idea how I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning of this little shindig and yet I'm doing the cooking & cleaning for it... ??? It snuck up on me and morphed into something WAY bigger than I expected. It started off a few days ago when Dustin said, "Oh, I was planning on having a couple guys over to watch the game." I said, "Okay, cool." Next thing I knew, our guest list had multiplied faster than rabbits. Everybody is bringing friends and their friends are apparently bringing friends... I don't even KNOW most of these people. When I made a begrudging comment about it to Mr. Wonderful he said I was being anti-social and snobby. I'd like to make a statement: The correct term is LAZY. I just don't like having to do extra cooking and cleaning, thank you. It takes energy to entertain and make conversation with people you barely know.

I've decided that my 30th Birthday present to myself is going to be learning how to be assertive and speak my mind more often. We've already established that I'm thick, pale white, and snobby. I don't see how throwing bossy into the mix could really hurt anything.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Damaged Goods

Hello. My name is Natalie and I am broken. (You all say: "Hi, Natalie!) I have a few different posts in the drafts department addressing this issue. However, it wasn't until a couple of comments from my hubby this week that I have finally decided to throw this subject out into the blogging universe. I have never broken a bone in my life. I do not have any chipped or cracked nails to speak of. I barely even have any split ends. The harsh reality though... I am utterly broken. For all of my pseudo outer strength, it has become clear that my insides are something like scratched Teflon. Black, things rarely stick, and the few areas that things do stick are because there's some sort of damage that makes me hold on to things that are in fact not supposed to stick. I've "scrubbed' and "scrubbed" to get rid of the stuff that isn't supposed to stick (like priding myself on my lack of tears) in order to make room for the stuff that is (like being able to cry), but sometimes I think that all of that scrubbing is just making my Teflon more scratched. And I really don't want that because as bizarre as some people may think that having a slippery black heart may be, it's REALLY convenient. My Teflon has served me well, People.

They say that admitting to weakness is really a sign of strength. You're supposedly "strong in your vulnerability". So, I envy other people who can just be emotional. I have NO CLUE how to do that. For a long time, I prided myself on my lack of tears. I thought it meant that I could handle anything that came my way. My husband says that it means I'm cold though. I said, "Of course I'm cold! It's freaking 26 degrees out!" He didn't laugh. I guess because I've also always prided myself on laughing things off. Humor helps. Or at least that's what I thought. He just looked at me with this face that said, "You sad, sad, creature. You don't really know how pathetic that is, do you?"

I feel somewhat defensive about these accusations. He makes it sound like he thinks I'm some weird, psychopathic monster. After 13 years of marriage, you would think he would know me better than that! I'm not incapable of love. I can sympathize with the best of them. I just have a tendency to rationalize why things aren't a big deal. Other people allow themselves to be overcome with emotion and act on impulse. When they feel angry, sad, scared, etc. they scream and cry or act out one way or another. I usually just go, "Oh, okay..." and deal. Now, whether the way that I "deal" is healthy or not... I'm not the one to say. It FEELS fine. It apparently freaks my husband out. He listed off a whole bunch of examples of times that I have been inappropriately stoic. Who knew I was scaring people with my lack of emotion?

This week, when my grandpa died, I was sad. I calmly talked to my mom on the phone when she told me, then came out and calmly told Dustin the news. I got out some old pictures and looked through them and then wrote a blog about him. Dustin kept coming up and hugging me tight and (with tears in HIS eyes) surveying my face for some sign of emotional breakdown. After a while, he asked me why I wasn't more upset. I told him because we mourn for those of us that are left behind, not the ones that pass on. My grandpa is in a better place. I think that the hardest losses to take are when you had unfinished business with someone. The wife who just had a fight with her husband and said some cruel words as he drove away before getting in a car wreck. The mother who lost a child and wasn't able to experience all of the stages of raising them. I didn't have any unfinished business with my grandpa though. I had already gotten more love and support from him than a lot of people receive in a lifetime. I have nothing but gratitude for the time that I did have with him. So, why would I NEED to put on a big display of grief?

Now, Dustin is concerned that I may not cry at his own funeral (barring an unexpected turn of events resulting in unfinished business, of course.) He pointed out that he's never seen me cry at a funeral. I NEVER cry during movies. I NEVER cry when I get bad news. So, he thinks it's probable that my eyes will be dry when he dies. Obviously, I can't predict how I would react, but I'm assuming that losing my spouse would probably spur tears. But even if I DIDN'T cry... that doesn't mean I loved him any less. It probably just means that I'm mentally checking off all of the reasons why it's going to be okay & making mental notes of all the things that I appreciate or want to remember. That's how my mind works. I usually step back and assess the situation and find the solution or at least the positive before I bother waisting any energy freaking out. I REALLY hate the way it feels to freak out. Alternately, I love the empowerment of being able stay calm. There's a certain confidence in being pro-active about things instead of well, just crumbling. I hope he realizes someday that it's a useful trait when he's upset and I'm able to handle things for the both of us. Seriously, it's people like me who can stay cool under pressure that can act as crutches for the people who are falling apart. So, call it psychopathic or cold or whatever you want to call it... I still really like my Teflon. Oh, and my heart really isn't black. I swear. Certain individuals just assume that because I have a good poker face and prefer to analyze things.

Maybe that does mean I'm broken. Maybe I'd really be "living" if I just threw caution to the wind and went through life FEELING my way through situations rather than strategizing and interpreting shades of grey. I'm sure I could pick up a Dr. Phil book about this or something... but damaged goods or not, I dunno. That's what he says.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What A Guy

Russell, bless his heart, has a new habit. As soon as he takes his clothes off, he throws them in the DRYER. Now, keep in mind that he's only 8 and the world of laundry is fairly new to him. So, technically, it's pretty sweet to see him doing this "helpful" thing on his own. In his mind, he's just being a responsible big person who washes their own clothes. I tried to monopolize on this and teach him to throw them in the washer instead. He really seems to like the dryer though.

This morning, I walked around the lake picking up MORE litter that the flood brought in. When I came inside, I was feeling pretty nasty. Call me a girly girl, but tromping through the mud, standing garbage cans back upright after draining muddy water from them, and picking up soggy garbage makes me feel downright smelly. So, I ran a hot bath and went into the laundry room to wash my work clothes in HOT water (and extra soap... with an extra rinse cycle...) Sure enough, sitting there in the dryer were the jammies that Russell had taken off before school this morning. It made me smile. Eventually, I'll get him to put them in the washer and add some soap, etc. For now, it sure is cute & definitely one of those things that I want to remember about him later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine

So, after glancing over my last few posts I realized something. I've been really gloomy, whiny, sort of lame, and have blogged about my messy house in excess. So, in honor of the sunshine making an appearance today (seriously gorgeous out!) I'm going to randomly list off a few things that have actually made me HAPPY this week:

My kids went back to school. Enough said.

Okay, okay, yes, I do feel like a mean mommy for celebrating that, but hey! Even they appreciate it. The reality is, even though they're just like most kids and they say they don't like school and they love breaks as much as the next kid, they also admit to liking the way it feels to get back to their familiar schedule and friends. And... (probably shouldn't admit this because I'm not sure what it says for my cooking...) they LOVE eating school lunches. My kids seriously get excited about the lunch menu. Plus, even though I'm not thrilled that back to school also means evenings full of homework, overall our evenings are nicer when school is in session because we had a chance to miss each other during the day and we only have to play nice for a few hours before it's bedtime and everyone has stuff to talk about over dinner because we actually went out into the world and acquired some new info to share. It's a win-win.

The second thing I'm happy about is that I spent some really nice, much needed time with my hubby yesterday. I've gotten spoiled since usually he has every Tuesday off and so each week while the kids are all in school we get 6 hours of uninterrupted mommy & daddy time. However, that hasn't happened for a while because, you know, no school. We've spent plenty of time together but it hasn't really been quality time. It's been "surrounded by a ton of other people who are all simultaneously demanding attention while we're attempting to work together to divert a crisis" sort of time instead. We're both stressed. We're both grouchy and we've both been flinging snarky, underhanded comments at each other more than usual. Not exactly a honeymoon period around here. So, yesterday, simply going out to Olive Garden for lunch together felt SO NICE! Like "Wow, maybe we CAN stay married" nice. We both enjoyed it so much that he arranged for his parents to take the kids overnight on Friday. Now, I have something to look forward to this weekend. Which is GREAT since Monday & Tuesday there's no school again making this a 4 day weekend for the kiddos AND there are a couple of half days after that for report card prep! Yikes! Makes me wonder how my kids are ever going to learn anything this school year... Is a dozen 6 hour days of school per month enough? That's like 72 hours of school this month... Anyways...

I would also like to rejoice that the flood waters have receded and the sky is an amazing shade of blue. I can't imagine how overcome with joy they must have felt when the bird brought the leaf back to the ark, because as it is my joy this morning when I pulled open the blinds and saw the sky was over the top. I don't know if my body could have handled THAT much serotonin if I had been in the ark. As it was, I had to restrain myself from dancing and singing as I went for a walk this morning. The people on musicals make it look so easy to just burst forth into song as they run through rolling fields. Even though I was tempted, I just couldn't sing "Doe- a deer, a female deer" as I sprinted along at the park though. I might have channeled a little Bon Jovi & hummed a few lines of Living On A Prayer... but you'll never get me to admit that.

Really, when I'm being honest with myself, I have a TON of stuff to be thankful for and I could go on and on about things that I'm happy about this week. I guess I just lost site of that for a while. There's nothing like public school, a lunch date with the hubby, and some sunshine to remind me how good I've got it. Hope you guys are having a good week too!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just Another Migraine Monday

I don't know what you call this. Seasonal depression, maybe? When I get really stressed, I get a killer migraine on the right side of my head. I can feel it coming up through my tensed up right shoulder and throbbing behind my right eye. I get nauseous and dizzy. I'm super sensitive to smells, lights, and sounds. Do you want to know the best part? While I have had this going on for DAYS, we have been flooded in at our house. The kids' school had something of an emergency evac / sent the kids home at 10:30 on Thursday because of rising waters. From there on out, the water just kept getting deeper and deeper until our road was closed essentially trapping me inside of my house with my 4 noisy, smelly children. I love them. Honestly, I really do. However, there's this viscous cycle where they cause me to feel stressed and get a migraine and then my migraine makes me nearly incapable of dealing with the noises and smells that come along with said children. On Friday night, I lost it and made them all go to bed at 7:00. Believe me, you haven't heard a child throw a fit until you tell a 12 year old that they're going to bed at 7:00 on a Friday night.

Between the snow days, and the Holidays, and now the flooding... my kids have only gone to school a handful of times since the beginning of December. I've been trying to remember how on earth we made it through 90 days of summer vacation considering one month of "vacation" in the winter is enough to make me consider getting medicated. I think that we might be okay if the sun would just make a bloody appearance to recharge my sanity albeit temporarily. Oddly enough, I've always considered myself an easy going person. So it comes as quite a shock to me that my children's love of a Bohemian existence sends me so far over the edge. The mere fact that my daughter feels that clothing should be optional and my son eats 24/7 are driving me mad.

On Friday morning my daughter's clothing optional mindset manifested itself in a rather embarrassing way. Since my throbbing head was killing me and we had NO WHERE to go since they weren't going to school, I was lazily sleeping the morning away. That said, I didn't notice my kids excitedly throwing on their rubber boots so that they could go splash in the muddy flood waters which I admit, do probably look like glorified mud puddles to my puddle loving kiddos. If it weren't for the fact that the house was eerily TOO quiet (odd the way that quiet now sets off alarms and wakes me) I wouldn't have noticed at all and would have continued blissfully sleeping.

It was about 9:30 when the silence wasn't golden, and I jumped out of bed and went looking for the missing noise makers. A glance out the window, and I realized that not only were they happily splashing in the water that had found its way to our yard after flowing swiftly through fields of cow manure and over engorged septic systems but that Brooke was wearing nothing but her beloved pink robe that's a few sizes too small and a pair of boots. To really top it off, there were several gawkers taking pictures. That's right. My poor parenting has been documented. I just hope and pray that none of those pictures make their way into the hands of child protective services. In my defense, I did run out and force her to come inside and take a bath and put clothes on while I washed her robe. I don't have any pictures of that though.

So, here it is Monday. My migraine is still going strong, but my kids ARE back to school. I'm trying (really, really, REALLY trying) to have a good attitude about all the clean-up that I have to do. I'm telling myself that at least I'm in good enough health to clean. Heck, I could be paralyzed or something. I should be thankful that I can vacuum, right? And even though I strongly resent the fact that the dirty laundry has been coming in twice as fast as I've been able to wash it, I should be thankful that I HAVE a family to make that laundry dirty, right? Same goes for the dishes. Sure, I'd love it if the clouds opened up and the other 5 people who live in this house (and all the guests who are always coming in our revolving front door) would pitch in without me losing my voice nagging them... but hey, at least I have a kitchen to clean, right? When the weather has gotten extreme this winter I've been feeling extra grateful for the roof over my head.

So, there you have it. I'm done ranting. Now, I guess I should get back to my chores while the kids are at school. Hopefully my excedrin kicks in soon. Oh, and here is a pic of our flooded back yard. (The ones of Brooke in her robe not included.):

Monday, January 5, 2009

Straight Off the Compound

So, here's why I'm not entirely opposed to the concept of polygamy: Now, hear me out! I know, I know... I can hear the collective gasp of indignation. I would just like to say that if you were over here right now and you could see the size of my laundry pile, you would agree that every once in a while it would be pretty convenient to up the mom to kid ratio. You see, today is the first day that all 4 of my kids have gone to school since the beginning of December. Throw in a couple Holidays, a ton of tracked in snow mess, and a round of the flu and my house is so messy that the walls are closing in on me.

I've been "cheerily" chipping away at it for well, forever basically, and the only thing getting me through the chaos has been repeating "I'll get caught up as soon as our schedule gets back to normal" 35 times a day. Guess what?! Today's the day! I watched out the window as all 8 of their little feet tread up the steps on to the school bus and then threw myself into dishes and laundry and vacuuming... and blogging??? Okay, maybe I could have left that last part out today, but we'll call it a "sanity safety meeting".

I forced all of the kids to deep clean their bedrooms this weekend, which means that they brought out every morsel of clothing they own and declared it "dirty" even though half of it is still folded / attached to a hanger. I simply must wash it since it's been keeping company in the hamper with laundry that really is dirty though... Love that. I vacuumed the house from one side to the other and pulled out the furniture / appliances / etc. and used the wall attachment to deep clean the ceiling fans and light fixtures and stuff. Seriously ashamed to admit, the vacuum bag was almost empty when I started and now it's busting at the seams it's so full.

Now, I don't know how much it would cost to hire a maid, but I'm pretty sure I'm too poor white trash for that. Which leads me back to where we started at... can't you just picture sharing household responsibilities? Gosh, I would LOVE to be able to say, "It's your night to cook" or "I'll take care of the babies while you help the older kids with homework..." What do you guys think? Would the pros of that type of relationship ever outweigh the cons for you? When you see the pictures of the ladies in frumpy dresses and prairie braids are you simply horrified at the injustice or do you ever think, "Wow! I wouldn't have to handle it all on my own!"