Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Toby has a lot of ideas. I remember, as a kid, making criminal mastermind plans with my dad, stuff like "What would be the best way to rip off Margarita's?" which, in retrospect, was shooting for the fence a little, since Margarita's, a longstanding Conroe establishment, probably was barely operating in the black and we would have used our brilliance to abscond with $325 in quarters and 5 dollar bills. Still. If it came down to it and I needed to commit a crime, I think I could be pretty smart about it unless it involved physical coordination. Put me in one of those laser security setups and I'd trip and trigger the alarm in like 1 second, and the Russians would totally murderize me. But none of this is the point.

Today, while we were driving from Walmart to Mcdonald's (because we are America), Toby was calculating how many hours we had before we had to be home to meet R2's bus, and he started thinking out loud. "What if," he said, "We had a robot that was really good at taking care of kids, and it never had to go anywhere or drive or anything." (I was already on board.) "And," he continued, "It could just stay home and keep the house clean, and it would be there to get Richy off the bus, and we could just stay out as long as we wanted..." The whole idea was solid, and if I were an investor, I'd be pulling out checkbooks or portfolios and gold-plated pens and stuff. (Side note: just realized I totally left the groceries in the car. Nuts.)

But I'm not an investor, I'm like a hundred-aire, and that's just because we haven't paid the bills yet. Also, I have some serious concerns about employing a robot force, for a variety of reasons. First, the practical: I have phones and computers and stuff, and on occasion they do stupid stuff and just quit working and I am adrift, googling for a cure and ending up with the Geniuses, who either charge $300 or just connect one wire and try not to imply that I have cauliflower for brains. Now, if I had a robot that was supposed to do even basic stuff, like scrub perma-berry from a NutriGrain bar off the floor, and said robot got a little glitchy, it might be terrible, like what if it used a ray gun on the perma-berry, instead of a scrubber? and now I have a gaping hole in the bathroom floor and all the children are in danger. And then I have to pack up my malfunctioning robot and take it to the Apple Store, and I already have a lot of kids, I don't need a disobedient robot to add to the reasons I get a side-eye in Leawood.

Another concern, and this is a biggy, is my understanding of robot technology, via Hollywood. Don't think I'm uneducated, y'all, I have seen a lot of robot movies, and it's inevitable. You try to make them intuitive enough to get the kid off the bus, and 10 times out of 10 they either start killing people so they can have world domination, or they fall in love, and then start killing people because no one loves them back. Who wants a babysitter/housekeeper that has a taste for world domination? Not this gal.

We got sidetracked in that conversation by some pretty ferocious debates about Mario's origins, but I'm sure if I bring up my concerns, I can get the boy to troubleshoot and maybe ease my fears. Because if I had a robot right now, I would make it go get the rapidly thawing Walmart bags out of my trunk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And I'm not speaking literally, as the MOG and I established sides in the Early era and only switch when it means he is further away from a newborn baby, for the 18 months or so that I cater to the noob's every whim. I am speaking metaphorically, here, of the wrong side.

Chicken or the egg, you might ask, and I'd be like pipe down, I'm trying to think here. I don't know if I woke up irritated or they woke up screaming, or if we met halfway, in a tangle of blood and fire. Once the spiral starts, it is so hard to slow down, so all morning they screamed and fought and collapsed on the kitchen rug. (side note: we got rugs in the kitchen. since then, emotional collapses have increased by like 75% in that location. I don't ever remember anyone laying on the sticky cold tile, but the rugs are infested with children) So they wailed and I griped and eventually the Man of God came home from something, probably a prayer meeting, heck if I know, and started making judgy eyes at me as I made snappy remarks at the Wailing Wall Triplets, which was well received by me, because I try to be like Jesus.

Things improved at lunch, when we all had our mouths full of food for a while, but then riots broke out in Quiet Time and I had to split the dynamic duo up, which caused not just regret but deep, deep mourning and eventually a mutiny, which I pretended to not notice. And THAT, kids, is a run-on sentence. Better than a fragment.

Clearly, the wisest choice for me at that point was to try to hot glue yarn to a dilapidated lion costume, because crafts are the best choice for women on the edge of themselves. It went fine, if you're into burns and psychotic breaks. In the end, I might have to make cardboard signs to identify their characters. Otherwise, everyone might assume they are Israel and Palestine.

Bedtime is coming soon, very soon, maybe sooner than ever before.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm not sure if I'm getting more mature or backsliding. I tend to think I am backsliding and am one Hulu episode away from trading in my Salvation card and being dragged to hell by a teenage boy in a black robe. My eternal perspectives might have been badly skewed by years of involvement in Heaven's Gates Hell's Flames No Punctuation.

My faith is not in question here, at least to me. I still believe Jesus is the only way to heaven and He lived a sinless life and we should shoot for that and all the other stuff in the Apostle's creed, with the exception maybe of the bit about the Catholic church, because I don't know how I feel about the Catholic church and am hesitant to throw my allegiance in there all helter-skelter.

What is in question, at present, is Halloween. I was raised in some Charismania, and we watched videos about covens and demons that came out at night and pedophiles, spending their October days filling peppermints with razor blades and so on. And even as I write this, I'm kinda like, but that stuff is true... So anyway, my parents didn't necessarily worry about all that, but we stayed home on all Hallows Eve and I listened to many a Carman song while waiting for it to be over so I could go to school and eat my friend's candy.

And then I had kids, judgy ones and also, Halloween got hecka creepier, what with the neighbors putting coffins all over their yard and people just decorating with serious grossness, like 4 year olds don't ride in cars and look out windows, and it all just made me mad. So I wish we could skip the whole thing, but I love fall and pumpkins and dressing up, so we participate in a removed way, with "Fall Festivals" at churches and what-not, and I'm kinda like, well, we might as well call it Halloween, or else we could just have it in July or something, but, you know, whatever. CANDY.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Continuing to post some of my favorite older posts on Fridays. This one was inspired by a particularly painful trip to Walmart. 

"Okay, whatever, fine, just get in the van. No, don't pick flowers. Yes I see the dog. Why did you take your shoes off? No, don't switch carseats, the buckles... never mind. WAIT! Stay in your seat while I buckle in your brother. It's too late, you already switched seats. Quit crying or I'm leaving you here. Quit crying, I'm not leaving you here."

Click here to read the rest! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some of you know that I have been engaged in the dark night of the soul lately, and by dark night, I mean, the death of my trusty old laptop and, simultaneously, the death of a computer I could type on. It's a uniquely first world lament. Or maybe it's not, maybe some third world countries have laptops and blogs and they, too, would mourn their separation from their literary vehicles. I can't say, because I am not a third world, or even a second world (is that a thing? to be googled) country, and therefore cannot speak for them. Did you miss these wordy intros? Because I might never stop typing.

Anyways. iBlanca died, and we discussed options, like selling our appendixes or some such in order to procure another computer, but then my friend offered their gently used laptop and I accepted her offer with massive amounts of joy, via text message. Lots of smiley faces and exclamation points. So now I am back in business, and I feel an obligation to mankind or at least a couple of you to write a book now, because it was kinda like a near-death experience where I realized what life was like when I couldn't type my blatherings for humanity and so I have to carpe the dang diem and do something worthwhile with this awesome gift, and by gift, I mean the computer, not my writing chops.

It's been about 2 weeks, and I have had many an amusing experience, as I am wont to do. I don't know if I'll try to remember those or just forge ahead to the amusing experiences I am presently enjoying. Oh! And I had a birthday week and a birthday party, and those need to be recorded for posterity, assuming posterity doesn't live in some kind of post-apocalyptic world without electricity and the internet and stuff. I've lived in that kind of world this last 2 weeks, and I definitely don't want posterity to experience the horror. 

Which reminds me: Halloween. And the rambling reminds me of when the MOG used to go on tour for weeks and weeks and I just repeated like 3 phrases for those weeks to tiny humans, "Don't put your mouth on that!" "Why did you pee there?" and "No." but then he'd come home and I would tell him 100,000 words while he tried to sleep. That's what I'm like with you people, I have things to say. And say them I will, in the days to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

(hoping to be back up to full blogging speed next week, stay tuned!)

I recently sat down for an interview with the Podqueen, aka Jennifer Roberts. I was a little nervous because I am not as spiritual as I think I should be, but I kinda encouraged myself during our discussion. Of course we need to grow, but there is great comfort in knowing we serve a God who likes to be with us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I wake up full of ideas. Today, I think, I am gonna get some stuff done. For one thing, my laptop has gone to the valley of the shadow of death, so I am using the kid's computer, and the space bar only works when it feels like it, which is seriously cramping my style, since I make liberal use of spaces.

And another thing, the Man of God and I have birthdays coming up and I am throwing a costume party for us. I say "I" am throwing it, because I can count on his involvement 2 hours prior to the first guest's arrival, where he will come out of a semi-holy stupor and be completely horrified to learn we live in a hovel. So with the computerlessness and the need for costuming, I have work to do.

I took a 2 day break after spending 2 hours typing those paragraphs. Then my favorite mother in law came to town and I have commandeered her computer and am now typing like a sedate madwoman. Anyway, that day, I decided to knock out a series of errands including a grocery run and the fabric store, along with a bunch of other stuff.

Some days you have it. You hit the stores and no one is hungry or distraught, and their braids stay in and they talk kindly to each other and tell Bible verses to the cashier and people stop me and compliment me on their behavior and I take pride in my clearly excellent parenting skills. This was not that day.

I should have seen it coming, with the crying and the morning meltdowns, but I forged ahead, like one of those Lifetime movie ladies who is totally dying and everyone knows it but she's all like, "Next Christmas (*cough*cough), we'll make fruitcake, little Jessie..." I made it through approximately 3 aisles before Tristan decided he had had it with Walmart and shopping carts in general and started screaming, "VITAMIN! VITAMIN!" which meant, clearly, that he wanted candy and would not be thwarted in his efforts to get it. Toby and Brynn, invigorated by the screaming noises, decided to take on some footraces in the tea area, where none of the senior citizens found them cute or interesting. "Guys," I called weakly, "Tristan, hush! Just a minute, just a... guys! watch out for peop- Oh, I am so sorry, I am sorry, guys. COME HERE." 

You think, after parenting this long, I'd know when to call it quits. But no, I just dragged Nutsy McBasketCase and the Manic Twins through the entire store, which was full to the brim with senior citizens, dour ones. I need to figure out which day is the Cheery Senior Sale, and hit that one next time.

After juggling a screeching toddler through the checkout and rescuing the general public from the other 2 for an hour or so in the checkout line, we wailed our way to the car and then straight home on the Scream Express. What about the library? you ask. What about the fabric store, the thrift shop? What about the speed limit? Yeah, what about those things...

gratuitous link to another walmart story here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I lost my dad when I was 21. I think I've said before, lost is such an inadequate word in that context, like I just lost track of him. In reality, he was the sun to my world and losing him was losing part of myself. He was larger than life, quirky, brilliant and weird. From him I learned that being called "weird" was just a person's way of trying to fence in what they couldn't understand. "You don't have to be like them," my parents would tell me, when I came home from school in tears because I was so weird. So I learned how to be an alien in this world, how to accept people and their limitations and how to not take myself too seriously. Being weird taught me how everyone is weird, really. There is no normal, because you can't average humanity. We are a maelstrom of ideas and passions and differences, and that's what makes life so interesting.

When he died, everything went a little off balance. I missed his monologues and his constant snark and his defiance of laws he considered optional, like speed limits. I missed being able to roll down the windows in his tiny little car and screaming in the wind until I went hoarse, because he didn't mind. I missed being shocked into laughter, the electricity when he would say something so unexpected that it jolted me. I missed being tiny, with a Daddy as tall as the ceiling and as broad as a tree, with giant tree trunk arms that could have wrapped around me a couple of times. I missed his cowboy boots clomp-clomping through my world, a step behind me, even when I was married and had a baby, right behind me.

It's been a long time now, and I don't miss him every day, not in the same way. One of the great gifts of God is that I still get to see him, in some ways. I stood in an endless checkout line yesterday and listened to Toby explain a computer game in great, great detail for upwards of 20 minutes, without stopping or losing track of his thought, and I thought, I bet Daddy loved listening to me like this. Even if what I was saying was basically filler, I bet he thrilled at the inner workings of my mind, the little hidden places inside there that I needed someone to understand.

Back at home, Toby walked just ahead of me, back into the house, still intent on explaining his world, his creation, and I walked just behind him, my boots clomp-clomping in rhythm with his sentences, and I hope that someday he will remember the way I heard him.

Monday, October 8, 2012

This weekend, the MOG was out somewhere in the wilds of Ohio, ministering the gospel to the savages, and I decided to take the kids to a festival. Think less Lollapalooza and more trade show. Still, I knew there would be bouncy houses and candies galore and general good times could be had.

I started assembling clothes a couple of hours before we had to leave, because I've had these kids for a while now. About half of them can dress themselves now, but if I want to look like we have a house with doors and a roof, then I have to pick the clothes myself. This is how it goes: I lay the clothes on the couch. If I blink, Tristan throws them somewhere. Just somewhere. Let me remind you that I have been at Hades' gate for this fortnight and there is a preciously limited supply of unpeed pants around here. The laundry, it beckons, but I say NO. So I keep assembling and he keeps throwing, and it's like spitting in a tornado, but I can't quit, because I'm the grownup. "Here," I say, "Play with the eggs, or this steak knife." Once he's distracted, I carry on. Step 2 is shoes, and it is here that I lose my salvation on a daily basis. Can anyone explain to me how we only have one of each shoe, except the ones that have been lost for so long that they're too small... we have like 4 of each of those. 45 degrees outside, I muse. So flip-flops are okay, then? Having been the recipient of many a judgy-eye in my day, I decide against them. Just go time-lapse here and imagine the sun rising and falling, leaves changing colors, despots coming to power and then being rescued out of sewers in their undershirts, etc. Let that reel run for about an hour, and by the end of the age, I will have 4 pairs of matching, semi-fitting, seasonally appropriate shoes.

I try to time the donning of the garb, right after the messy food and I always fail, because inevitably someone will snag a little snack out of the trash or decide to make a baby powder shower in the backyard, and so whatever I put them in looks like they went through the sewer with Saddam. When my children remember me, when I am old, it will be me, with a perplexed and disgusted expression, holding their soiled shirt 6 inches from my nose and saying, "What in the.... how?"

Like a conductor, I lead the dressing, "Come here, put this on, that's backwards, it's still backwards, come over here, come here to me, come over where I am, quit crying because I can't reach your buttons from here, that's inside out now, how? come here and those are your brother's pants, they're your brother's pants, I know because they come to your knees... just take them off and come here, you, no, you. Are you dressed? What happened to your shoes? You had your shoes a minute... come over here. Are you poopy? Of course you are. Can anyone hand me the wipes? Where are your shoes? Come. here. now. Okay, forget it, forget everything. Christmas is cancelled. We're never getting a dog. Come. HERE."

Then I have to get them in the car, into car seats, into seat belts, where they inevitably poop and lose a shoe. As we pull out, the car is full of screaming, chaos and noise. This is a dumb idea, I think. This is my dumbest idea ever. Like magic, though, when we pull up to the festival, everyone is awestruck. It's 45 degrees outside, and I can't feel my soul, but I stand outside bouncy houses and collect swag from all the exhibit booths, and they get their faces painted. R2 looks like he's on the verge of a seizure, he's so cold, but he's smiling from ear to ear and so we push it a little more. GIANT DOGS. I'm in a crowd of people with my little crew, breathing in the frigid air and living together. We climb on a tiny train and go around and around the parking lot, getting progressively number in the cold, but they could ride all day, the three of them sharing a seatbelt and me, trying to hold Tristan down. Finally, I make an executive decision that R2 is too cold and we file into China Dragon. It's me and the 4 of them, and we share a couple of plates and thaw, and I'm struck with so much fullness, so much richness.

It was a noisy, cold, chaotic, imperfect perfect day.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I think I want another kid. Actually, I know I want to adopt another kid. It's not like I'm bored. I never get bored, it's genetically forbidden in my family. "Only boring people get bored," my dad used to say, second to only "Whaddya mean there's nothing to eat? We have eggs, we have cheese..." So I figured it out, way back then, how to never be bored. But if I were even tempted, somebody around here would do something amazing like FIND A BUG AND CARRY IT AROUND and the temptation would be gone, because I would be so busy screaming.

Children are enormously interesting. I've rarely met a lame kid, and if they are lame, it's not their fault, it's just that somebody failed to find out what was fascinating about them and parked them in front of a screen or shut them down somehow. They are intrinsically unique, and their perspectives on things are so fascinating. I worry sometimes, that my kids will get bigger and figure out how they're "supposed" to think and act and that quirky little flame will get tamed somehow. That's one of my great hopes with homeschooling, that I can protect that spark.

So no, I'm not bored. I'm over my head when it comes to housekeeping, I am an admittedly terrible housekeeper. And I'm not great at making nutritious or creative meals, and I'm pretty bad at making a routine and sticking to it, although I have fantastic campaigns, which last weeks or months before taking a turn into a flaming death spiral of chaos. I have great intentions, and I have really high hopes for my future growth, where something clicks in and I just think, oh, that's why people clean baseboards and then I'll be better at that. For now, though, I am a flawed domestic engineer at best.

BUT, I am great at loving kids. Oh, I love them. I love them ferociously. I love to listen to their nonstop prattle and I love to watch their faces while they problem-solve. I love to watch a baby turn into a toddler and watch their personality unfold, like a slow-developing panoramic. I can't tell you the rush it is to have a gift that steadily unpacks all its facets and it takes years and decades to see what it is. And I know I'm in the early stages here, and some parts of them I will wish they could re-shelve, once the attitude pops up or whatever, but what kind of crazy God gives us human beings to shape and know?

And they're spirits, you know? I used they're on purpose, I mean, they are spirits, they are more than bodies. They, each child, have a unique connection to God, an understanding that is specific to them, and if I am close enough, I can see Him too. Amazing.

I'm not in denial, I live in the hard work part of it, and it will get easier and harder. Logistically, financially, emotionally, children are challenging. There's no doubt they're worth it, though.

So when I sit still enough to dream, I dream of more. More babies, more children. More money, and maybe a weekly maid. Hey, it's my dream.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I always feel the need to throw out some Jessica Clark Feelings Update Disclaimers: I am going to poke a little fun at all my beloved facebook, twitter, text and email diagnosticians today. Roll with it. Look at the MOG, I poke fun at him on a daily basis and he almost always laughs at it.

I have been in this cycle of suffering for weeks now. It’s a profoundly first-world cycle, where I have some optional surgery like having a diseased tooth removed or some such and then all HECK breaks loose and I suffer, I suffer greatly.

So this week, or maybe it was last week, it all blurs together in a vague bloody mind haze, I broke out in a tiny rash on my inner elbow. Now, the word “rash” is kind of gross, and I almost feel like I am turning 40 just by talking about rashes on my internet, like what’s next, menopause? Anyway, this rash came up and since I had an identical rash in June, I was like, “Oh jeez” because I remembered it spreading up my arms and on my face and stuff and itching like a house on fire, if houses had nerves and fire was itchy.

Being a reasonable adult woman with the limitless resources of the internet in front of me, I took it to my social mediums. Because, clearly, I am 40. You guys were enormously helpful. I got a range of advice. “Have you rolled in any wildflowers, eaten raw fish, snorted peanut dust? Are you allergic to your family?” they asked. “Get some organic barley flax and apply it to your skin with local honey,” they did not say, but kind of, “What you need to do is wash in bleach, just straight bleach and then blowdry the rash,” they kind of said, “Is your shampoo gluten free?” they asked, and it’s a good question. The diagnoses rolled in, “heat rash, poison ivy, contact allergy, eczema, hives, HERPES.” Now let me take a minute here to say, I know, I know, that herpes is not always, you know, herpes, and it’s a valid suggestion. But anytime somebody says herpes, I get all twitchy and embarrassed like when your mom talks about sex. *Twitch*

Eventually I decided to go to a walk-in clinic since it was getting kind of out of control with this rash taking over my life and making me look sort of reptilian, not to mention it was insanely itchy and it was affecting my “patience meter” with all the small folk. The MOG tried out his prophet skills. “This isn’t a one-visit thing,” he said, “They’re gonna want to send you somewhere else for tests or something.” Despite his annoyingly accurate record, I did not want to go to the ER for a rash, so I went to a clinic and waited and then they took one look at me and sent me to the ER.

photo by Brynn
Look, I’m grateful for once to be the not-sick family at the ER. But it’s kind of awkward when people are walking around with arrows stuck through their spines while I surf the web on my phone and chuckle. “Herpes.” Heeheehee. So after all the actual sick people went through, it was my turn and various medical professionals poked at me with gloves and argued with themselves about what exactly I have and is it infected, leaving me minutes away from toxic blood.

Eventually the real doctor came in and said it is a contact dermatitis and I should figure out what I’m allergic to, which sounds like a great activity for a doctor, but whatever. They gave me a steroid shot and antibiotics, more steroids and steroid cream, and told me to take the week off exercising because I’m not allowed to run or sweat. I figure it’s no problem, though, because by next week I should be totally JACKED from all the steroids and able to lift cars and stuff.  I puked for a while, but I think I’m figuring out that you have to eat a lot of food with antibiotics to avoid pukage. 

This is a long one, but it's been a long week. No clue what I am allergic to, although I am beginning to be concerned about the corner of the sunroom that used to have a leak and recently grew a mushroom... that seems suspect. 
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