In The South, You Can Wear A Crayon On Your Head Or Color With One

Anyway, I was over at the Apathy Lounge where I ran into my friend and the proprieter, the lovely Mizz Beaverhausen who was celebrating the 105th birthday of Crayola Color Crayons.

And I was reminded of two things. No, make that three. I was reminded of how much I love crayons. I was reminded of a post I wrote a few years ago about crayons and I was reminded that I have nothing for tomorrow. So here ya go, an old post about crayons.

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Broken Crayons

I like my crayons broken. They are better that way. Like people, you can do more with them once they’ve been broken and the hard edges are worn down with love and time and attention.

Many many months ago, Sean and I sat down together to color for the first time. The crayon he was using immediately gave way under the pressure of his clumsy inexperienced hand. “I boke it!” he cried, holding up both pieces. “Fit it Mommy!” Not wanting to expose my inability to mend all that was amiss in his world just yet, I soothed him by breaking my crayon too and telling him that they work better that way. Then we went through the entire box breaking all the crayons in half. Since that day, Sean has made it his mission in life to leave no crayon unbroken. So take that as fair warning, you might not want us to come play at your house.

Last night, Sean and I were reading together before bedtime. He doesn’t actually read yet, but has memorized the words to every book he has which is somewhere in the triple digits. And that makes it hard to skip pages let alone paragraphs or even the occasional adjective. The book we were reading from last night was a collection of nursery rhymes, most of which I find to be rather disturbing. Three blind mice? And an ax-weilding crazy woman chasing rodents? That you would have agressive rodents in your house? If ever there were a recipie for night terrors. But nonetheless, there we sat side by side in his rocking chair reading about one boy playing with fire and another running through the town, alone and after dark, in his pajamas.

(Unrelated side note: I will be really sad when we can no longer fit in that chair side by side because one of us has grown too much.)

Anyway, I read “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” and he followed “to catch a pail of watt-ee.” I continued, “Jack fell down” and Sean piped up “and boke his cray-own. They’re better that way.”

Jack with a broken crayon is a much better image than Jack with a concussion, don’t you think? And they say you can’t improve upon the classics.

Originally published May 2006.

The Rights of Passage

I am taking a brief sabatical. Here’s a little something from last year.

Here’s the short list of things you need to know about staying in the hospital.

First, never try to buy sensible yet stylish pajamas to wear in the hospital — the day before Valentines Day. Unless you think a black and red lace see-through number is appropriate for the hospital. If you do, it will no doubt, not make you popular with the nurses.

The second thing is this: When going to the hospital, leave all of your valuables and your dignity at home. You won’t be in need of either.

The day after surgery of any kind, the kindly nurses will come to your room with pointed bayonets and poke you until you get out of your bed. And then they will make you walk up and down the hall. This will seem like a really silly thing to do because you won’t even be able to remember exactly where your feet are located. They will tell you that they are making you walk not just because they can and they want to humiliate you, but to encourage the passage of gassage (a new word I just now made up).

At this point you will want to hit the kindly nurses with something, but you have neither the strength nor anything handy that isn’t already plugged into you somewhere. So instead you mutter “damage” under your breath and you go. You go so that they might not poke a hole in your brand new sensible, yet not at all stylish Target Grandma Gown with their bayonets.

To be fair, the nurses promise you that as soon as you can “do this thing which they describe all too technically for my appetite” they will give you some real food, food that you cannot see through! And after several days with no food, this seems a good idea. This food reward system kind of makes you feel a bit like a dog. But like a dog, you are more than willing if it means you’ll get a Snausage or a biscuit or something and that they might then go away and let you nap on a sunshiny spot on the floor without bothering you.

So then.

There you will be, wearing your new Target Grandma Gown, bereft of your valuables and dignity, shuffling up and down the hall, taking itty bitty Tim Conway baby steps, hoping and praying to get a food reward for doing something which is considered impolite.

And it is then that you are acutely aware that everyone else is out there doing the same thing. Everyone has the same lofty goal. Passage of gassage.

And that makes it very hard to make eye contact with the other patients you “pass” in the hallway

The Doctor’s Appointment

I’m off to see my doc today, so for those of you who are new around here, I thought I’d re-run this post from this time last year.

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It is the unfortunate state of my being that a doctor’s appointment is a reason to get all gussied up – to shave, to shampoo, to lather, rinse and repeat. To wear nice underwear. I remember when getting gussied up meant cocktails and a good time that didn’t involve a speculum.

Nonetheless. I gussied for the good doctor and enjoyed a 45-minute Wiggles-free drive across the yonder reaches of the metroplex.

As I pulled up to the parking garage gate, I rolled down my window to get a ticket. To my left I saw a young man pulling a cart that was precariously laden with canned soft drinks. I held my breath and waited as he slowly lugged and coaxed the top-heavy cart in front of my car. It teetered, it groaned, it rocked. I breathed a sigh of relief when he finally cleared the gate. I impatiently pushed the big green button, the machine made one of those “Aaaaaant! You lose!” sounds and then spit a ticket at me. The gate went up and I grabbed my ticket anxious to get to my appointment on time.

Just then, soda boy decided that the laws of physics didn’t apply to him. With both hands on the handle, he bent his knees, put his butt into it and jerked the cart in an attempt to hoist the caravan of cokes up and over the curb. The load wavered back and forth in slow motion as though in an earthquake. I knew what was about to happen. I prayed for a different outcome. Then an avalanche of soft drinks tumbled off the cart, onto my car, under my car, into the parking garage and everywhere else. Of course.

What to do? I looked in my rearview mirror. Backing up was not an option. I already had my ticket and there were several cars behind me. The gate was up, but unless I wanted to run over soda boy, his cart and the mother lode of cola, I wasn’t going anywhere soon. Yet I considered it.

Had I a lick of sense, I would have just sat in the car and waited. But no. I did not have a lick of sense. Or a slurp or even a taste. I got my gussied up self out of the car and started hunting cans of soda like they were Easter eggs. And then in some spiteful combination of bad karma and physics, some of the cans started exploding.

Later that same day.

As I was sitting on the table in the doctor’s office wearing a paper gown and scraping dried Dr. Pepper off my ankles with my fingernail, I tried to explain to the nurse why my legs were sticky. She closed her eyes and held up one hand in the universal gesture that means “Shut. Up. Now.” She really didn’t want to know. “No need to explain,” she said. “We’ve seen it all.”

I wanted to explain. I needed to tell her that I don’t normally go out with sticky legs.

“But – but – but I gussied,” I stammered, “I showered! I shaved! I wore nice underwear!”

“I’m sure you did. The doctor will be with you shortly.” And with that she left the room.

Unless he’s serving cocktails next year, I’m not going to bother to gussy. I’ll just spritz a little Dr. Pepper on my legs and be done with it.

The Credit Card

Sometime before Christmas, as I was getting into my car, I noticed something stuck between the seat and the console. So I bravely stuck my hand into that deep dark black hole where loose change, French fries and Goldfish go to die. And lo and behold it was a credit card! It was Antique Daddy’s credit card.

At least once a week, Antique Daddy loses his money/credit cards/keys and I freak out and turn the house upside down looking for them. And while I’m busy freaking out and digging through the trash, he’s busy helping me freak out by watching the news or eating a bowl of cereal. And then later, I usually find the lost item in a coat pocket or some other unlikely place. And so then I lecture him on the benefits of being OCD and how that when you obsessively and compulsively check your wallet for your credit card four or five times before you leave a store or a restaurant you rarely lose those kind of things and clearly, it’s a better way to live. And then I invite him to sign up for a free trial.

So when I found his credit card along with an earring and a petrified tootsie roll (at least I think it was a tootsie roll), I decided I would teach him a lesson. I would stash his credit card somewhere for a while and let him freak out while I ate a bowl of cereal. So I did. I wrote a clever little note telling him exactly when and where I found his credit card and then I put it in his sock drawer. But then Christmas came and apparently he never wore socks in December and I not only forgot that I found the credit card, I forgot that I had hidden it, let alone where I had hidden it.

So then.

Earlier this week when Antique Daddy reported that he couldn’t find his credit card, I once again freaked out and turned the house upside down and dug through the trash looking for it. And I guess you probably know by now that I didn’t find it. Yes indeed, these blonde roots go clear down to the brain where they tangle up and choke the intelligence out of the logic/thinking/recalling lobe.

As I’m bent over the trash can and digging through it for the third time, Antique Daddy shows me the credit card and my oh-so-clever note that he found in his sock drawer.

Perhaps it was the coffee grounds under my fingernails or the stench of things therein that, truly, you do not want to know, but somehow the note wasn’t nearly as clever as I remembered. And the spousal object lesson wasn’t nearly as gratifying as I’d imagined either.

 Originally published January 2007

The Tree

I’m decking my halls y’all and working on my tree and spreadin’ the sparkly, so today I leave you with this post from December of 2005.

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It is December 3rd, 2005 in the year of our Lord, and I am kicking off the season that celebrates His birth by standing on the top step of an 8-foot-ladder, where there is a sticker that reads “Only An Idiot Would Stand Here.” And for those idiots who can’t read, this point is illustrated with a picture of a stick man falling to his death.  Let’s bow our heads and have a moment of silence for the stick man. 

So then.

This Norman Rockwell scene is made even more ridiculous by the fact that it’s 80 degrees outside. I am wearing a tank top, shorts and flip flops and I’m sweating bullets as I try to coax, cajole and contort sparkly wired ribbon into appearing as though it fell effortlessly and naturally from heaven into cascading spirals onto my big fake tree. The thought that I might rather be doing something else, like flossing my teeth with an ornament hanger, crosses my mind.

Why oh why do I do this? Because it’s our tradition.

Two years ago, Sean was due on Christmas day he but came six weeks early. Needless to say, after a C-section and then the stress of having a baby in the NICU followed by the marathon sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn in the house, I was in no position/mood/state of consciousness to get on a ladder and put up a tree. My sister-in-law, Terrye, who is the nicest woman on the entire earth, came to my house and put up my tree that year, and it was never more beautiful. There were many nights that first Christmas season that Sean and the dog and I got up for 2am feedings and then snuggled together under the glow of the Christmas tree afterwards. I remember watching him sleep and trying to memorize his face as it looked bathed in Christmas light. I would bend my ear down low and listen to him breathe, amazed at what a miraculous thing that life is. Those are special memories for me. Those are memories I wouldn’t have had if it were not for Terrye putting up my tree.

Last year I was recovering from thyroid cancer but I managed to put up a tree and all the trimmings anyway. Having been surgically relieved of my thyroid, I had the energy (and appearance) of a three-toed sloth, but it seemed important to maintain a sense of normalcy, which in December means doing too much, spending too much, eating too much and putting up a tree. But again, there were many nights last December when Antique Daddy and I just sat in silence on the sofa with a sleeping boy in our arms watching the lights twinkle on the tree. We didn’t have to look much beyond our noses to find blessings to count.

So this year, once again, I am risking my life on a ladder to put up a tree because willful and wanton violation of OSHA standards is our tradition. And I am complaining the whole way because that is part of the tradition too. I know that my little family will make precious Christmas memories in the shadow and light of this tree in the coming days of December that I will store up and treasure in my heart long after the season has passed.

 And for that I would stand on anything.

The Ponytail

 If you are new here, if you’ve come here by way of the Weblog Awards, this post was originally published in June of this year.  It is one of my favorites.  Today, up until sometime this afternoon — like 5pm CST I think — you can go here and vote for me.  And then we shall never speak of it again, because goodnight I am tired of speaking of it.

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 Tonight around 10:30, I made my way to Sean’s room to turn off his lamp and to remove the dealership of matchbox cars from his bed as I do every night.

I looked down into his crib to see him sprawled out in his usual dramatic pose – his forearm draped over his forehead in the manner of Scarlett O’Hara, the other hand across his heart, pledging allegiance, legs bent and poised as though sprinting toward the river of crystal light. Just as I leaned over to cover him up, he opened his eyes and sighed in a low voice, “Hellwoe Mommy.”

“Sean! Why are you still awake? It’s late.” I whisper.

“I just can’t sweep,” he moans, exasperated. “My eyes just won’t stay shut.”

“Oh. Well, what if you and I sit in the rocker for a few minutes? Do you think that would help your eyes shut?” I ask him.“Oh, yes!” he agrees. He bounds to his feet in one move and stands with his arms stretched out for me to lift him out of his crib. He’s too big to still be in a crib. I know that. But I don’t really care. He is my baby. My only baby. I’m in no hurry to rush him out of his babyhood. I am in no hurry to rush me out of his babyhood.

We stand there for a moment with the crib rails between us. I reach in and cup his face in my hands. I can’t resist rubbing my nose across his. I flash upon the memory of my own mother giving me an Eskimo kiss. He reciprocates leaving a trail of snot behind to tease me. “Yucky!” I say with mock disgust as I wipe my face on his pajama sleeve. He thinks this is funny. He throws his head back and laughs. I notice how his eyes make the shape of a rainbow and squint shut when he laughs. His whole face smiles when he is happy. Like an old fool, it makes my heart sing to think that I have amused him.

I lift him from his bed. He wraps his long legs tightly around my waist and nuzzles my neck and begins to play with my stubby graying ponytail. He smells of baby shampoo and lavender soap.

We sit in the rocker and slowly move forward and back to Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I think of my wedding day and how in the amber glow of candlelight I floated down the aisle to this song. I think of the look on Antique Daddy’s face, the tears in his eyes, as he reached out for my hand. I had been moving towards that moment and then this one all of my life.

We continue to rock, his heart pressed against mine, his raspy little boy breath circling in my ear. He snuggles deeper into the soft nook under my ear and continues to flip and twirl my ponytail.

“Mommy?”

“Yes Sean?”

“Will you wear a pony tail tomorrow?” he asks sleepily.

Okay. Sure. I’ll wear a pony tail tomorrow.”

“I want you to wear one every day,” he slurs. “I think you wook so boo-ooh-ti-fwuu-uhl in it,” he yawns.

“Okay then, a ponytail it is. Forever.”

He stroked and smoothed my ponytail until his busy little fingers slowed and then. Stopped. His hand went limp and fell to rest on my back with a gentle thump. Sleep had finally won. I don’t know how long I sat and rocked him, listening to him breathe, the essence of life flowing in and out of his lungs. Finally, I stood and lifted him back into his bed. He shifted until one arm draped across his forehead and the other across his chest.

As I reached for the lamp, I turned and took one last look at my baby. He really is getting too big for that crib. And then I turned out the lights on one more precious day of his babyhood.

Tomorrow I will wear a ponytail.

Pre-Marital Couseling – Now Available At Home Depot!

I’ve got company today, so I am running this so-called perfect post from last December.  Only two more days of shamesless (shameful?) self-promotion and begging for votes. If you haven’t voted yet, you can do so here.  And you can do so again in 24 hours!

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A Perfect Post - December

If there is one thing that defines my relationship with Antique Daddy it is this: gutter covers.

Before we were even married, we embarked upon a home improvement project together and in the process, we discovered everything we needed to know about surviving and sustaining a marriage partnership: Never do home improvement projects together.

Forget premarital counseling. Before couples are allowed to marry, they should be required by law to complete a home improvement project together. If both parties emerge with all their limbs in tact, then that’s a good indication that they can tolerate being married, having kids and having their gall bladder removed without anesthesia.

I met Antique Daddy in the fall of 1996 and as it happens in the fall, the leaves had fallen off my trees and my neighbor’s tree and all the trees in Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, and into the gutters on my house. Being a childless person at the time, I had more time than sense and things like scrubbing the grout around the toilet and removing leaves from the gutters were on my To Do list. Now my To Do list includes things like brush teeth, bathe, sleep. I am all about goals these days.

And so.

One day when Antique Boyfriend was over at my house, I mentioned that removing the leaves from my gutters was on my To Do list and that I thought I would buy some gutter covers so that I wouldn’t have to clean my gutters every year. His eyes lit up as visions of power tools danced in his head. So off we went, hand-in-hand to Home Depot in search of true love and gutter covers.

When we got to the gutter covers department, as luck would have it, I saw — gutter covers! And I was elated. And like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:36 who said, “Here is some water! Why not be baptized now!?” I said, “Here are some gutter covers! Why not buy them now!?” And I put them in my cart and skipped happily toward the checkout lanes. There’s nothing a girl loves more than a cart full of gutter covers!

Cue sound of a needle dragging across a record – Skreeeech!

Antique Boyfriend is not like the spontaneous Ethiopian eunuch, who by the way, was probably a lot more fun to take shopping. Antique Boyfriend needs to study, analyze (notice the root word “anal” in analyze? I don’t think that is a coincidence), read the fine print, go to three stores to comparison shop, take measurements, read up on how gutter covers are made, talk with gutter cover experts, make a spreadsheet and then return to the original store and stand in the gutter covers aisle with arms folded while scratching his chin for three additional hours or until I try to remove my gall bladder with a gutter cover.

Therefore.

In the middle of Home Depot, we had a “discussion” about the proper way to purchase gutter covers and I may have even cried. In the name of Bob Vila, was it too much to ask to buy a girl some gutter covers? I think because he wanted to win favor with me because he hoped to eventually sleep with me, Antique Boyfriend acquiesced and we ended up leaving the store with the original gutter covers upon which I first laid eyes and fell in love.

We went home and attempted to install said gutter covers together, a simple process which involved a ladder, a box of Band-aids, a bottle of Cabernet and more tears. They did not fit or work worth a flip and then I got aggravated, stomped them into an abstract environmental sculpture and then threw them into the garage along with all the other ghostly remains of home improvement projects past.

Yet we married anyway, because we learned so much about ourselves and each other in the process. We learned that a home without gutter covers is a happy home. We learned that Antique Daddy should be in charge of purchases requiring anal-yzing – cars and gutter covers and that I should be in charge of purchases requiring impulse – gum, lipstick, shoes.

And we learned why you never see Bob Vila’s wife on the show.

The 2007 Weblog Awards