Friday, April 30, 2010

10 years, Daddy.

The night before my dad started dying, I tried on a bridesmaid dress at his house.  I wore the strappy matching sandals days later when I ran full speed down the hospital hallway. 


It was Thursday when we got the call. He had had a massive heart attack while opening the box on his long awaited Apple G4. He lingered in the ICU for 4 days on life support before he was finally taken to that giant computer superstore in the sky. R2 was 9 months old, and we were still reeling from his birth and trauma.


It's been 10 years today. He would be 62 years old. It's still unbelievable sometimes that he is actually, permanently dead. He was a giant of a man, in life and in spirit. I'll tell you a little bit about him.


Daddy was 6'4 and had shoulders that barely fit through doorways. His curly black hair was largely silver in the years prior to his death, and he often styled it, or did not style it, in the image of Albert Einstein. He wore denim shirts and jeans, pulled way, way up for most of my life, although I have heard rumors of the old days when he wore profane t-shirts and star-spangled bellbottoms. 


He never took anything too seriously, except hating Nixon and Hitler. Everything else was funny, some way or another. He was arrogant and irresponsible and brilliant and kind. He was my best friend and my constant cheerleader. He was a genius, a true genius. Sometimes when Toby crosses his ankles or falls asleep with a book on his chest, I remember. It's sweeter, now. 


The day before he died, we gathered (the 5 of us kids and our spouses, and Mama) to talk about what to do about life-support. Somehow, in that tense moment full of tears, we found ourselves laughing uproariously at thoughts of what he would do in heaven. God took the decision out of our hands, and we said goodbye. There was no laughter for a couple of days, and then it came back. It was different, but it came back.


Life isn't fair, he always said. Also, he said, what do you mean, there's nothing to eat? There's eggs, there's cheese...


poems about Daddy




Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Should you buy this stuff? and more

Now, I don't know for sure, but I bet some of you are sitting there wishing someone would give you some book reviews, and maybe some product reviews. If so, then you're in luck. If not, well, you're getting them anyway.

To begin with, I will tell you that Barnes and Noble are HACKS for not carrying Lisa Samson books. Last night, the MOG got back from a 2 week tour and whisked me off on a date. We had Italian food, smoldering glances and then, the bookstore. Where I tried to buy books from my favorite and was thwarted by an overwhelming collection of Amish fiction and Old Western marriage-of-convenience-that-turns-to-love novels. And, no hate, because I have read all of those, but on the rare occasion that I am actually going to purchase a book and not just check it out from the library, I want it to be a good one. All that to say, I was bummed. 

If you are going to buy a Christian fiction novel, make it a Lisa Samson or James Scott Bell. Every single book by Lisa Samson, and I like all JSB's books, too, but my favorites are Try Dying, Try Darkness, and Try Fear. They are funny, suspenseful sort of mystery novels with a wisecracking lawyer lead, and his nun sidekick. Seriously entertaining. 

If you are going to buy me a novel, make it The Passion of Mary-Margaret, since they don't have it at B&N. It is painful and beautiful and real and honest. 

Now, for my product reviews: things I bought on Ebay

1. Pink rhinestone bow earbuds. Paid $1.70 w/ free shipping. They sound fine and they look adorable. Unfortunately, they are very awkward to put in one's ears. You have to kinda wedge the sharp edge of one of the bows against your ear wall to hold it in. Still, less than 2 bucks for sparkly pink earbuds. I give it a thumbs up.

2. Deep Water Bath Overflow Cover. I don't remember what it cost. Somewhere around $5 with $3 shipping. It suctions onto the tub over your drainy-overflow-protector-thingy and lets the water come up high, eliminating the Lameness Factor of a 3 inch deep bubble bath. I give it three enthusiastic thumbs up.


So there you have it. I was not paid by anybody to review this stuff, but if anybody wants to pay me or give me free stuff to review, then, okay. I agree. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

on not exercising, because I don't WANT to

This morning came and went with little notice. What I mean is, somehow I looked around at 9:45 and realized that I was not going to work out today. I have to get moving by 9 to make it all work, with childcare and breakfast and personal motivation.

The thing with exercising is, I'm easily discouraged.  Also, I'm lazy. Bad combo. The problem is, this gut. Don't throw stuff at me- I'm talking about a small pouch of skin and fat that has a rounded shape, causing me to look something like 4 months pregnant, compared to my normal. 5 pounds, maybe. There are multiple problems here. I love eating. No, I mean, I LOVE it. I like eating better than reading.

The other problem is I don't like to leave the house. It's one thing to leave for food or thrift shopping. It's another thing entirely to get dressed and chase little people and squeeze them into outfits and hold them down whilst brushing their hair and find shoes and so on, just to fight them into the van, for the purpose of exercising. As in, pain.  This doesn't need psychoanalysis, folks.

I have decided what I need is a treadmill. Inside my house. I can hear you all howling, "You'll just hang clothes on it!" Haters. The other possibility is dieting, which is such a funny thing to suggest.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I don't want your help, but...

*warning* there will be potty-training talk here, eventually. I am a mommyblogger, after all.


A relatively little-known fact: I hate advice. "What?" maybe you're saying, "But you seem like such a humble type! Not an ounce of narcissism!" Think about this one for a second. I have kept a blog for 5 years, almost entirely about myself. Well, and my kids. But largely, me. Might be time for you to re-think my tendencies.

Anyways. I do kinda hate advice. I try not to put myself in situations where I need it. Let's say I have a dilemma. I might ponder, pray, worry, obsess or consult Google. If by chance I mention it, then everyone is like, "Hey! Let's tell you 40 different opinions that are fully correct!" which, you know, is helpful and all, but not helpful. I'm a punk. I know it. The exception is when someone is a for-real expert. Like Martha, for example.

When I started having kids, I read all the books and got lots of advice. Only none of it worked because my kids were preemies and they didn't walk till they were 4, or 2 or whatever. So I just started winging it, and I like that a lot. I do give advice. Generally, because someone says something specific, like, "I need some advice."

So, all that to say, I think I need some advice. Potty-training advice. I don't think my 3 year old is ready. She does not wake up dry from overnights or naps, and she is totally unconcerned when she has a dirty diaper, even resistant to diaper changes because she's playing. I tried cold turkey this week, just putting her in undies and dealing with it for several days. She never once initiated a potty trip, although if I sat her on there for a long, long time, she might accidentally succeed. The rest of the time, she just wet her pants and kept playing.

What do you think? Is there some moment in here where she'll just be ready to learn this? Or will I pass up the window and she'll wear diapers to junior high?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

leaked emails

I interrupt my not-blogging streak to share this confidential correspondence from my mother-in-law.


How come your favorite MIL cannot comment on your blog....




did you BLOCK me or is your blog acting up.


I have tried for 2 days to tell you something very urgent.


I am surprised that your husband has not mentioned it before now.


IF you open the front door..... the desk AND mirror/coat hanger should be centered between the edge of the opened door and the edge of the wall.


The desk looks great but the stuff on the wall is not even placed evenly over the desk.... OMG this is very upsetting to me and I am way down here in TX


I can only imagine how unsettling this would be to the MOG who lives there... Aaaauuuuggghhhh!


I love you..... it is a good thing....... to have such nice stuff but it must be totally centered in order to get the full enjoyment out of it......




--
Eva Joy


I am continually reminded that the MOG comes by it honest.

(btw: she's mostly joking)

Monday, April 19, 2010

on furnishing, and fearlessness

You might remember the shady neighbors of several weeks ago fame. These were the ones who sneaked away under cover of darkness in their Uhaul and left their dumpster. Well, last week they came back. Only I wasn't sure it was them, because the neighbors had never actually been spotted, evidently staying under the radar via side door. It's hard being nosy in this day and age. 


So for days, there was an elderly couple and a variety of swarthy middle-aged men moving in and out, and then nothing for days and then this other guy and a teenager came and moved a lot of furniture out onto the curb. I snagged some of it, because the old man was not around to forbid me, and what can I say, I'm kind of a loose cannon. 

Scored this desk. It's pretty awesome as is. I eyed a dining table over there for a good 36 hours, but it would have required sanding and refinishing, and I am growing increasingly more aware of my renovating abilities, or lack thereof. (How's that for a sentence? Dang.) 

Now why, maybe you wonder, would I want furniture from shady neighbors? Well, shoot. I, on occasion, get my hair cut at the beauty school and I eat crawfish from Price Chopper. Obviously, I live on the edge. I did buy some disinfecting wipes, but that had more to do with a really unfortunate potty-training incident and less with the shadiness. 

Is this really a blog entry? Well, yes. In fact, it has a couple of good lines up there in all the mundaneness, you just have to look a little. Don't judge.

In other news, my hair is still extremely black. I wake up and put on eyeliner first thing. I might take up lipstick next. Oh, and poetry about blood and doves. 



Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday: Nothing to say in 300 words or less

All right, enough emotion and deep thinking. Today, I have for you, some good old-fashioned vapidity.
• I dyed my hair black. I may have shown the first hair-decision restraint of my life by choosing non-permanent dye, fearing a sickly Gothic look.  I expect it to fade to a sickly and unbearable brown in a week or two, and then I will dye it with real dye. Oh, and then I will wear eyeliner every day until I decide on a more natural color. So far, I really like it, although I accidentally dyed my hairline and temples black as well. Hopefully that fades soon, or I will be rocking the emo hair in the face for a while.

• Operation: Attempting To Potty-train Brynn is back in session. This will be the third serious attempt, and my hopes are not high. Still, it's great weather for her to run around in the buff and pee on the hardwood floors.








• I bought crawfish at a grocery store today. I plan on eating it in lonely splendor tonight after I dispatch the toddlers, along with a red potato and a single ear of corn. Yeah, I live the high life.



That's all I've got for today. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Clark-ives: Toby, Part II

The funny thing about Toby’s story is I laid down for 17 weeks. Why should that take two blogs? Because it was SEVENTEEN weeks, y’all. You try doing something for 4 months and tell me if it can fit in a sentence.

Anyways, when I left you I was 20-something weeks pregnant, lying down with Richy playing the piano.

Then, we had a hurricane. Rita, to be specific. It was forecasted to be the end of days, wiping Houston from the map and causing babies to be born in mid-air with Geraldo narrating. I was really excited about that, since I was pregnant. So began a semi-panic where we tried to decide if we should stay in place or drive somewhere else, and just brave the contractions that I had whenever I had to ride in a car. Ultimately we decided to travel 30 minutes to my sister’s house, and then the hurricane ended up being no threat to Houstonians anyway. That’s how it goes.

The next few weeks went by uneventfully, and I passed up 24 weeks for the first time ever. I remember thinking, can I relax now? I thought that point would change something, and I’d relax and feel like I could buy diapers or something. It didn’t, though. I would lay there and think, there is a baby in me. A real baby that will be born and wear baby clothes and I can keep him, but there was no connection between my mind and my heart.

At 31 weeks, I went to a routine appointment and found out I was dilated to 3. I was hospitalized right away. At first, I was so stoked to even be that far along, but the reports were so scary of what a 31 weeker would face. They put me on a magnesium drip, which is a horrible drug. Magnesium is the “big gun” of labor-stoppers. It makes you really hot, all the time, and your mouth gets super dry but I couldn’t drink much because a full bladder would really cause contractions. Mag works. Unfortunately, it only works for 72 consecutive hours and then you have to take a break from it.

I begged and pleaded to attend my own baby shower and got permission, and a terbutaline pump which was a needle taped into my leg, with a supply of terbutaline to be injected at will. Fun times. My baby shower was AWESOME, although I was so drugged I can’t remember much. After that it was back to the hospital, then back home, then back to the hospital because of an insurance snafu. Dr. Reed was breathing fire on all insurance and hospital staff, but I was actually relieved to be back in custody, on a monitor. I stayed there for another week or so and then got to go home on the terb pump, God bless my heart.

The next few weeks were a delicate balance of not moving, at all, waiting and praying and hoping. I wrote this in that gap.

I am sleepwalking
I'm hoping that maybe
if I tiptoe softly enough
then you will come
And not just be another
sweet dream faded too soon

Maybe if I don't wake up
You will come
and be the substance
of this hope

Maybe if I don't want you too much... maybe if I close my eyes... maybe
if I sleep
Then you can come and fill my arms
and I can be at peace


At 34 weeks, we went from strict bedrest to “taking it easy”. Toby was born at 34 weeks and 2 days. He was 4 pounds and 13 ounces. When Dr. Reed handed him to me, my heart breathed a sigh of relief. He went straight into the NICU and stayed there for 2 weeks. When we finally got to bring him home, it was party time. He has celebrated every day of his life since then. J

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From the Clark-ives: Toby, Part I

I left you, a long time ago, with the story of losing the twins. That post has been getting some new traffic lately as I make new friends, so I thought, hey! I should keep updating the Clarkives and not leave you all in the valley of the shadow and what-not.


Now I will tell the Story of Toby, in 2 parts.


*Warning* this is a chapter about getting pregnant and staying pregnant, and as such, will involve conception and cervixes and so on.

A month after the twins died, we went to Colorado for a 50 day prayer initiative. In retrospect, it was a really good way to heal. Richy led worship every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and I went up there once a day and the rest of the time stayed in my little apartment with R2, looking at Pikes Peak and letting myself grieve. One of the things we decided during that season was that we were not through trying to have biological children.

We got pregnant (well, mostly me) in May. I remember looking at the positive test with Richy, and we were like, well, here we go! It’s strange remembering how absolutely full of hope and faith we were- in the aftermath of the last 2 pregnancies- it had to be the grace of God.

I got on the phone as soon as I knew I was pregnant- trying to get in with a dr that was well-known for high-risk successes. They weren’t accepting new patients, so they shut me down right away, but I kept calling back until I got an office manager, who heard the story and asked Dr. Reed to make an exception, and she did. I think she was intrigued by the challenge.

I explained to her early on that I would be going on bedrest at 4 months, which is when I typically start labor. She was skeptical of the effectiveness of “preventative” bedrest, but mostly supportive.

I went to the hospital the first time at 16 weeks for contractions. They monitored me for several hours and then started me on Terbutaline. Terbutaline is a vicious drug. It speeds your heartrate up significantly, and makes you shaky and jittery all the time. It also helps to stop contractions, so I lived with the side effects. In addition to the drugs, I went to bed. The only times I stood up were to walk to the bathroom and to take a shower.

At 19 weeks, the contractions got close together, and I panicked. We went to labor and delivery, but I wasn’t considered viable and they were trying to send me home, but Dr. Reed showed up and barked at enough people to get me upstairs and in a room. I ended up staying the night and getting drugged with some kind of labor-stopper (tocolytic) . She also recommended that I keep doing what I was doing, which was strict bedrest. That night, as Richy prayed, he got some direction from the Lord, that the baby would live, and that his name would mean Peace. (thus the middle name Paxton)

It was a struggle to keep my mind and heart away from fear. Somewhere in there, my contractions got really out of control and I got terribly afraid. Richy went on a fast and prayed, and they stopped completely for several days, which gave me such a faith boost to keep going. Richy decided to cancel his summer tours and stay home with me. In the morning, I would wake up and put on clothes, and then move from the bed to the futon. Richy had his piano set up in there, and all day I would lay on my left side and listen to him play and sing. I learned how to really soak and find peace, and as long as he played, I would have very few contractions.

All through this time, I had been having weekly doctor visits. Every other week I had an ultrasound, and the in between weeks, I would have cervical checks to see if I had started dilating.
I did start dilating at some point, I don’t remember what week, but it added to the strain and the wait.

We stayed the course, me lying on my left side, him playing and singing, and R2 right in the middle of everything.

To be continued…

Friday, April 9, 2010

something is rotten in Grandview

There's been an exodus in the neighborhood lately. The two houses directly across the street from us have been suddenly and illegally vacated in the last couple of weeks. It works in our favor, because Matt Traylor (radiant's drummer) and his family rented one of them post-defector.

The other one had rented a dumpster before they folded their tents like the Arabs and slipped quietly away, so we emptied half our garage into that before the man came and got it today. They also left two cars and a ceramic frog, which we have left alone. The bank came by and asked if we had seen anybody over there lately, and that was kinda exciting to say what day I saw the Uhaul come and such.... the bank is lucky that I see all. 


I wish now that I would have realized perfidy was afoot. I would have paid much closer attention. If I notice anybody else around here "moving out", you can bet I'll be keeping a sharp eye on the scoundrels.


In other news, I was a paragon of motherhood today, taking the toddlers to storytime, then later sharing McNuggets with them at the park, where they played for, I don't know, what seemed like a lifetime or three. And how were my efforts repaid? With much screaming. "I haaaaaave a thankful heaaaaaaart!!!! Now GIVE ME ICE CREAM!" Sigh. Maybe tomorrow I'll lay on the couch all day and they'll behave like little Mormons.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I am a cheapskate, and other self-discovery

I'm a thrifty type. I love to spend a couple of hours finding bargains and then come home and gloat over my $12 worth of treasures. Sometimes I Google and find out what the thingamajig would've cost if I had bought it at the "real" store. Even at the "real" store, I can't handle paying full price for anything. I mean, like clothes and whatnot. I need to buy clearance stuff and even then, it needs to be dirt-cheap. 


With food, I try to buy the best price-per-oz, (thanks, Walmart) and I buy off-brand for most things. I have to buy real brands for the MOG's stuff, since he's a little bit of a diva, although Marshmallow Mateys have made it onto the list of acceptable substitutions. 

So I'm thrifty. I'm frugal. Win. 

Except... there is a line between frugal and cheap, and I'm afraid I've crossed it. 

When it comes to clothes, I think I'm mostly okay. I mean, the used stuff I buy always looks new and that's just smart shopping. Until it comes to the point where one of us really needs something specific and I just.can't.stomach.it. And there I stand, agonizing over spending 10 bucks on a pair of kids jeans, or whatever. I stand there and waffle and process and worry and it's so ridiculous. 

Or, when I realize that all of our pillows are flat and all of our comforters are bunchy and all of our towels are torn, and I don't do anything because... that stuff's expensive, y'all! 

Or when I realize that I make soup all the time. Soup, stew, maybe a casserole here or there because I am spazzy about the price of meat. 

Or when the second ice cream scoop purchased from the thrift store breaks, because it's probably circa 1996. 

Or, to get really honest about the neurosis, folding Kleenex a million times or watering down the dish soap or reusing dryer sheets. Cheap. 

I can feed a crowd for cheap, and I do, every week. I can dress my kids in really nice stuff for pennies. I can buy furniture that's sturdy and works, even if it's a little ugly. That's good. What's starting to freak me out is when I read about these Dickensian cheapskates with their chintzy hospitality and recognize my house. Yikes. 

We've been living on a missionary budget for like, going on 8 years now, so some of this came from necessity. Not all of it, though. I want to figure out how to do it right, to make a soft and welcoming home for family and guests that's not "just getting by". First, I am going to have to talk myself out of some cheap ideas... my brain is kind of exploding with the concept. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to lose 10 pounds in 15 years!

Yesterday, I assessed the state of the Clothing and determined, once again, that the state of the Clothing is tight. And not tight, like I'm being all ebonic and urban and what-not. Like I'm Randy Jackson in the Dawg Pound.

No, the painful truth is that the Clothing is a bit snug. The tragedy of this is, this was the "fat" clothing, purchased for the winter months when I needed to hibernate and bake and not leave the house. Hear me: if the "fat" clothing is tight, it's an ugly day.

In addition to that, we're doing some budget cuts round Radiantville, and the nearly unused YMCA membership was in serious jeopardy. The combination of these factors sent me out at the crack of dawn this morning (9:45) for an hour of blood, sweat and tears. I made it about 30 minutes. My wuss factor has intensified greatly during my sabbatical. Dangit.

My goal is to go 3 mornings a week, and work out for approximately 1 hour each time. I will then become svelte, tan and hott without modifying my diet, which will have sweets added back in this weekend after a somewhat half-hearted 40 day fast.

You might recognize this goal. I make it a couple of times a year, and I don't have high hopes for my follow-through. But hey! I made it 30 minutes today! Wahoo!

Monday, April 5, 2010

yablonskis go the dentist

If you are a cyber-stalker, then you already know that we took R2 to the dentist today. I know everything about everyone, because I read my facebook home and I have a photographic memory. So if you ever say something to me and I'm all like, I know, it is not because I have an entire wall in my basement filled with grainy 8x10 photos of you walking into 7/11. That is just a coincidence. What I'm getting at here is that that some of you already know what I'm going to say, and you're not even Dionne Warwick.

We went as a family, because this was a dental appointment and the likelihood of Total Spazzing was way, way up there. I called last week and explained Total Spazzing, and they agreed to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for the exam. Still, TS was not ruled out.

I had to stiff-arm my way around a little bit today, since the dental assistant was a little skeptical of the tantruming power of the mild-mannered tiny child in spectacles and a sweater-vest, but once the dentist came, he just took my word for it and gassed him. Also, Dr. Genius used a toothbrush for the exam. Is that brilliant or what?

R2 was a little nervous, even with the gas, but the MOG talked him through while I hung back, trying to keep my stress over in the corner since some people thought I was affecting the atmosphere. In addition to minimizing my atmospheric impact, I also tried to keep the other 2 kids in check, which involves a lot of whispered threats and attention redirects.

When it was all over, R2 and I were both greatly relieved. Oh, and his teeth are as jacked-up as I thought, but no cavities- so we come back in 6 months to start talking strategic teeth removal to make some room in his tiny mouth.

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