Saturday, January 30, 2010

The China Set

I just came across a piece of writing that I had thought lost. I am so glad I found it!!! In college I took a writing course where I discovered, after years of thinking myself a terrible writer because of the discouragement and misunderstanding of previous teachers, I really like the way I write! While taking this class, I wrote a paper on my great-grandmother. It isn't anything special, but it is the first piece of writing of which I have ever been proud. I have decided to copy it down here where, unless the internet explodes, I am not likely to lose it again.

This is dedicated to my Mema and Papa.

The China Set

I have a china set that my great-grandmother, GranGran, painted beautiful flowers and roses upon for me. I can't quite remember the year she gave it to me. It seems as if I've always had it. It was stressed to me how fragile and precious the china set is. I have never put it on display. I have never filled the little cups with water and played "tea party" with it. Somehow that would make it seem just like any other china set. It stays in the same tattered and worn, tape-covered, cardboard box in which it came to me. The pieces are still in the same ripped and yellowed tissue paper. It stays in the top of my closet.

I would take it down every few weeks and set up the cups and saucers on my bed. I would then step back and look at it. I would study its beauty and its detail. After a few minutes I would wrap the individual pieces back up in their individual pieces of tissue paper, place them back in their individual spots in the box and put the box back into the top of my closet.

I was never great friends with my GranGran. She was never very kind to me and I disliked going to her house. However, I loved looking at her paintings. They were delicate and meticulous. Each petal, leaf and vine was placed with precision and in soft, subtle colors. It was difficult for me to understand how such lovely things could come fro such a crabby, impatient, old woman.

Though her spirit was strong, her body was not. She fell often and broke her hips and wrists several times.

One day when I was in fourth grade, she went to the hospital and did not return home. She had congested heart failure and some blood clots in her arm. They had to remove it up to her elbow.

I went to visit her. She looked so weak and frail. She kept moving her arm in conversation as if it was still completely there. I tried really hard to not look at it, but it was difficult not to with her moving it about like that.

Not only had there been a change in her body, but there had been a change in her personality. It was as if with the nasty clot they had also amputated her nasty attitude. She acted happy to see me. She listened to what I had to say rather than acting as if my voice was an annoyance to her. I had fun talking with her! I looked forward to visiting her. She began to take time to tell me stories from her life: Before she painted china she worked at a factory making decorative bows and frills for the display boxes on the walls in the complementary wrapping area of department stores. Her mother was full blooded Native American, but it was never talked about in her father's family. She smoked a pipe all of her life. It was hard to envision that without laughing. I had a new-found love, enjoyment and appreciation for my GranGran and I thought about her often.

One night, we arrived home late from church and there was a message from my grandfather on our answering machine. It was odd to hear his voice; usually my grandmother was the one who called. I was also somewhat startled by the sound of his voice. It was still deep and authoritative, but a little less controlled.

His voice had always been strong as a rock. You could lean on it. Tough as nails, just like his mother. Now it wasn't so sturdy. There was a small crack in the rock.

He said, "Uh, Julie, it's your dad. Give me a call when you get this."

Idiosyncrasies such as 'uh' or 'um' are not characteristic of my grandfather's speech. That was a crack in the rock. His voice was a little softer and slower than usual - almost timid. Another crack in the rock. Cracked rocks can easily shatter. I was unnerved.

My mother sent my little brother and me to bed. As I lie in bed with a book open, I heard the soft murmur of my mother's voice and could tell she was on the phone. I sneaked out of bed and stole down to the end of the hallway so that I could get a good ear of what my mother was saying. I could tell what was said on the other end of the phone when she said, "Oh, dad. I'm so sorry."

When she hung up the phone I stepped out from my hiding place, eyes full of tears and questions. I didn't have to ask. My mother said, "Yes, dear. GranGran died in the hospital today."

Tears began to stream down my face, but my mother's eyes were dry. I could not understand why. She said she had known it was coming. GranGran was old and it was her time.

However, this was my first encounter with death. It was difficult for me to imagine GranGran not being there at Christmas, sitting in her chair with her hands in her lap, not saying a word. It was difficult to imagine never visiting her old-lady-smelling apartment or never receiving another one of her beautiful, hand-painted gifts.

We were unable to attend her funeral. My parents explained that it was too far away, we couldn't miss school and they couldn't miss work. I didn't understand these excuses. Since we couldn't be there, I imagine what it would look like:

GranGran, laid out in her best dress, with her hair and make-up done in a fashion she never would have done herself. Fragile and beautiful, just like her china.

I realize that if I were to write this story now there are several changes I would make, but I love that I have this. It is the first piece of writing with which I really sat and spent a lot of time going through the writing process and researching. It is a beautiful memory!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Favorite Things

Inspired by the girls over at My Favorite Things, I have decided to make a list of my top 10 favorites of the now. I will make a genuine effort to not make them all food:

  1. Always at #1 - Juniper and her daddy, Erik
  2. caramel apple cider
  3. Skip Hop City Chic diaper bag  
  4. LL Bean's Wicked Good Moccasins slippers in Vintage Red (Thank you Mema!) Yes, these are the slippers that I infamously yet accidentally wore to church . . . and the supermarket . . . twice. 
  5.  Early Girl Eatery yummmmmm!
  6. my crock pot - loving those wintery stews I get from just throwing in beef/beans and random veggies from the farmer's market and letting them cook for hours. I do this once or twice a week - until all my veggies are gone. Feel free to request a recipe. 
  7.  Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets - sigh of relief :)
  8. The IT Crowd a BBC series that is a combination of The Big Bang Theory and Better Off Tedd. I chuckled during the first season and LOLed during the 2nd and 3rd. Funny.
  9. Terry Teething Blanket perfect for Juniper's budding teeth. This would be in Juniper's top 10 right after mommy, daddy, breast milk and baths.
  10. Conan O'Brien - I will miss him on The Tonight Show. So sad.

Ta-da! I am interested to know what is on YOUR top 10 . . . or top 5. Ten took me longer than I thought it would!
Now to continue watching The Real Housewives of Orange County (my #11).

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Poo Poo Chronicles

My Daughter is Talented

Has your baby ever pooped so far up her back that it gets into her hair? I don't think so!
Once this happens, how am I supposed to get the outfit off of her without getting poo on the few remaining clean spots on her body/hair short of taking a pair of scissors to cut the outfit off of her similarly to how a doctor would cut the clothes off of a person after a serious accident. I didn't cut the outfit off, but I might as well have since I am considering just throwing the darn thing away instead of dealing with it. So what do we have? Poo poo everywhere. Poo on the changing table. Poo on the baby. Poo on me. Poo all over the sink as I spray her down with the dish hose. Not to mention the poo on the couch and boppy where she was sitting when the deed was done. *Sigh*

My house stinks . . . liiiiiiike cherries! Which brings me to my next chapter:

My Daughter Smells Sweet

Yes, her skin now smells sweet, but so does her poo?! Not the "mmm, I want a Twizzler" sweet or the "oh, make me a perfume out of that so I can wear it on special occasions" sweet, but the "eww, I think the peach cobbler you made a year ago got mixed together with the stinkiest cheese you can find . . . and then went bad" sweet. It makes me almost yak. It is inexplicable. I have asked the doctor and he has no idea. The only thing I can think of is maybe it is connected to the vitamins I give her?

My Daughter Recycles

I want you to guess. Guess how she recycles. The more cynical and creative of you may have figured it out. It has to do with combining her new discovery of her thighs with her affinity for tasting her fist and adding a dirty diaper change. She is just too fast for me. It is like she has a million little hands and they are all covered in poo heading towards her mouth.

You may ask, how do you keep from getting sick and adding to the mess? I simply go to a happy place in my mind - a place where I am cleaning a diaper full of chocolate pudding, but I don't partake because I am on a diet. Wait, that's not a happy place.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Peek into the Present for my Past Self

Mama's Losin' It

Prompt: If you could have given yourself a snapshot five years ago of what your life is like now, what would the picture be of and how do you think you would have felt about it?

I would choose this picture:
The first thing I would think would be, "Is that my child?!" I would then need a few moments to be excited and freaked out and let it settle in.
My next thought would then be, "You mean I can possibly get fatter than I am right now?!"
I would then notice how happy I seem and how beautiful my baby is and know that my future's so bright I gotta wear shades.

Another thought I might have: "Who's my baby's daddy? I need to start being more discretionary about who I date."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not ME! Monday


I would like to make it clear that after discovering that my daughter has pooped out of her diaper, up her back and all over her thighs I would always immediately give her a bath. I would never simply clean her up with baby wipes and save a bath for later. Not me!

I would never clamp my daughter's lips closed despite her protests in hopes that she will swallow at least a small amount of her medicine. Not me!

I would also never get so absent-minded that I leave the house and go to church wearing my house slippers. Not me!

When my daughter wakes up from a nap with her hair all disheveled, I would never compare her hair to a certain recently divorced mother of 8. Not me!

I always put away my daughter's clothes immediately. I would never let them sit in a hamper for a week and simply pull clothes out of it whenever she needs something to wear. Not me!
(I actually did promise myself that I would never do such a thing, but things happen.)

I have decided to NEVER leave Juniper alone again! For the very first time I left her alone with my husband while I went out to a book club meeting. What did my DH tell me when I arrived back home? My little girl had completely rolled over for the very first time . . . AND I MISSED IT!!!!! That's it. I will never again leave her side!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movie? What Movie? I payed $10 to stand in the hall.

I have been so proud to have a baby that does so well in movies. We have been to 4 where she either sleeps through the whole thing or sits and quietly watches. She cried once during Avatar bc it was so dang loud! I just took her to where she could see my face in the light. That calmed her down and we were able to return to our seat. She even swayed back and forth on my lap when the creatures on the screen were swaying. Then she fell back to sleep.
But, the times they are a-changin' (thanks B Dylan.) Last night we decided to go see the new George Clooney movie that everyone has been saying is so good - Up In The Air. I got Juniper dressed in a cute new outfit - which she promptly spit up all over 3xs. At this point I always have a decision to make: wipe it up and let her smell like puke but look super cute or change her clothes and chance her puking on the second outfit, too. I chose to let her smell like puke - bad mommy, I know. But she was so darn cute!
As I had hoped, she fell asleep in the car on the way to the movie. However, it was so windy and cold outside that, despite my attempts to keep her covered with a blanket, she woke up, pushed back from me and stuck her tongue out to feel the wind - I don't know why she does this. Maybe I should try it. Maybe the wind feels really good on the tongue. Or tastes good. Kinda gross, though, huh?
We had arrived at the movie super early bc Erik was convinced it would be packed. We were the only ones in the theater until about 3 minutes before the movie started. Juniper sat quietly in my lap enjoying the music that was playing. Then the lights went out and I realized that we had wasted her contented time on the 45 minutes of sitting in the theater before the movie.
Junie has become a lot more demanding of my attention of late. She wants to be looked at, talked to, held and sung to much more often then she cared to before. She's also become a better cuddler - but not last night. She started to make grunting fussy noises. I popped a bottle into her mouth but she wasn't having it. I handed her to Erik and told him to take her out.
I sat back in my seat, ate a handful of popcorn, sipped some Sprite and enjoyed the movie - for about 15 minutes (Erik says 30 minutes, but he's wrong.) To the complaint of the two over-sized women on who's toes I stepped on my way out, I decided to go relieve Erik of our fussy baby so he could go in to watch the movie.  I found Erik in the hallway holding a baby that was wide awake and loving the attention.
He went into the movie and Juniper promptly spit-up on me. She did this 5 more times. Every time I would try to pop into the back of the theater to get a glimpse of the movie she would spit up and then fuss. I would have to go into the hallway to try and find where on me and her the spit-up was residing. It was clear that her stomach was upset - and this was probably my fault. I had fed her some formula that was past the expiration date. The can says to throw out the formula a month after it has been opened. I think I was pushing two. In my defense, since I rarely use formula I would be throwing away a barely used can if I threw it away after a month and that is a lot of money and I am just sure that they put that expiration on the can so it forces people to buy more formula more frequently than they need to like those razors with the fading blue strips and oil changes . . . I'm a bad person. I really hope no one calls CPS after reading this blog.
My movie experience consisted of pacing, puking, and peeking at portions of the film. (I like alliterations.) Erik apparently didn't get this whole "switching-off" thing. He says that every time I stepped into the movie he would look back at me and makes eyes that were supposed to be asking if I wanted him to switch with me - but how was I supposed to see that?!
There was nowhere to sit in the hallway and my arms and my legs and my patience was getting tired of holding this fussy baby that would not be consoled. It was obvious that she was tired but she was refusing to let me cradle her and try to put her to sleep. I couldn't even be sneaky about it - she knew what I was trying to do and would look me in the eyes and let loose some really mad crying.
I was at my wit's end and was about to walk into the theater with a crying baby and yank out my seemingly neglectful husband so we could go home when all of a sudden her head dropped onto my arm. I looked at her and her eyes were closed. Upon a pulse check I realized that she had fussed herself to sleep. Finally, I would be able to watch the movie. I stepped into the theater and here comes Erik up the isle with all of our stuff to come rescue me and take us all home. LOL. I looked at him and said I could have used him an hour ago. He apologized and he is forgiven.
We sat down and watched the last 20 minutes. As we left the theater, I looked at Erik and said, "So, was it good?"

Highlight of the night: I was standing in the back of the theater when I woman returned from a potty break. She walked up to us and, without asking, reached out to rub Juniper's arm. She stuck her hand right in a big glob of puke! HAHAHAHA! I enjoyed that - and I didn't apologize.

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