Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go ahead and fall in love with him.


My boy.

Who has the best laugh in the world.
Especially when he's throwing pieces of banana all over the place.

Who loves taking baths.
Especially since he has learned how to create tidal waves that flood the floor.

Who loves his 9-year old sister.
Especially when he manages to pull hunks of hair out of her scalp.

Who loves to gives hugs.
Especially when he can bite a chunk out of your shoulder at that same time.

Who loves his Mama.
Especially with all her grey hair coming in and that exasperated look in her eyes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Something's Gotta Give: And I'm hoping I don't have to resort to hiding a body.

My number one goal in life right now is to take a shower without an audience.

When the Bean was tiny I'd drag her little bouncy seat into the bathroom and lay her on it, sleeping, while I attempted to shower. Every six seconds I would peek around the shower curtain to make sure she was still breathing. I never bothered to condition my hair because the softness of my hair was not worth her life, y'all! (I was such a New Mom.)

With the second child, age and experience allowed me to shave the armpits, peek, shampoo, peek, condition, peek, think about shaving my legs, decide against it, and get out.

As the girls grew, the length of my showers grew.

I met Big V when I was living in a cute house a block from the lake with two full sized bathrooms. Two! I was happy.

I then moved with my two kids into his one bathroom house. One.

And then I had another child. Let me help you with the math:

 5 people + 1 bathroom = Hell

To make matters worse, our only bathroom does not have an exhaust fan, which means three minutes into the shower you're feeling light headed and woozy. The mirror is covered in a thick fog and you're about to slip into a coma. Our solution: shower with the bathroom door open.

Give it 48 seconds and the 18-month old is standing on the opposite side of the shower curtain splashing in the toilet bowl, the 9-year old wants to repeat verbatim every ICarly episode she's ever watched, and the teen barges in suddenly remembering she needs money for school lunch and should she get your purse?

I am showering, people! I am naked, soapy and angry because ten minutes ago not one of you even vaguely looked in my general direction and yet suddenly I am the person you need to talk to. Right now. Before I rinse off.

And then, as if it can't get any worse: Big V suddenly needs to pee. Which means he has to come in and kick everyone else out, which makes them whine and complain and I'm still standing in the shower, sobbing, listening to the sound of a urine stream while he tells me he has to play basketball tonight because it's the last game of the season.

Something's gotta give. Either I need more bathrooms or less people - and while it rained this past week allowing for the softening of the soil and easing up the whole where should I hide the body? dilemma, the possibility of me going to jail and being forced to shower with a really scary, criminal audience is enough of a deterrence for me to opt for the More Bathrooms route.

But neither V or I know anything at all about how to put a bathroom in your house. We know one would fit in the basement because the basement is a big, wide open space. But there are all these rules and codes and permits and then there's all the decisions: what sized door? What kind of toilet? What type of light switch? It's too much for my feeble mind. I just want to shower alone.

How much money do we need? Do we have enough? Do we need more? Who do we get? Is our job too big for a handyman? Too small for a 'real' construction company? Are we going to get screwed over and give our hard earned money to someone that never shows up to do the work? Am I going to need to call  Mike Holmes?  I can't even think about this! It's just too much!

I have dreams, ideas, visions: White. Airy. Open. Clean lines. Calm.

How on earth can anyone interpret the (extremely) vague finished product hiding in my mind into something that makes sense, something that we can afford and yet something I'm not disappointed in when it's all said and done?


photo credit: xJavierx; flicker

For years now Big V and I have come right to this exact point.... where we know something has to happen, but we are too scared and too insecure to know what to do next, so we decide to do nothing. And then complain about the fact that no one gets any privacy in the bathroom. Simply put, our fear of not knowing what to do stops us in our tracks.

Oh, and also, anyone in my family knows that I could not actually live with the rounded tub shown in the above photo. I have issues with rounded things. I like straight lines and 90-degree angles. I like mission-style and Shaker furniture. That's why I get along so well with the Amish. Well, I mean, I would get along well with the Amish if I actually knew any Amish people. Except I wouldn't like their horses. Unless they were toothless. Horses bite, people. Stop looking at me like that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Billy Amongst the Grapes

Many, many, many years ago, my dad worked with grapes. And sugar cane. I have pictures of the burning of the cane fields but I do not have any photos of my dad in the fields whilst they were burning, which is a good thing when you think about it.

The fact that my father has lived this long is amazing to me for several reasons:

(1) His Aunt Joyce tells the story that he was born sick and basically sent home from the hospital with the instructions to just love him until he passes. (As a mother myself I simply cannot imagine.)

(2) As a young boy he had open heart surgery. Which back in the day was pretty gory. Growing up the scars would both amaze and scare me every time I saw him with his shirt off. I was convinced he was a pirate on Captian Hook's ship and had got in a fight with the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. (Obviously I was not well versed in fairy tales.) (Also, I've always been deathly afraid of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk thanks very much to my aunt from Australia who sent us the book. The nightmares I had!)

(3) As a young teen, he was involved in a very, very serious car accident, of which a single shard of windshield glass was missed during the hospital removal process and instead of working its way out, worked its way in. It was discovered and removed sometime in his 50's, I believe. He lived through the accident and he lived through what I feared would be a brain tumor. (And the headaches stopped. Imagine that.)

(4) One day he decided to show us kids how to properly ride our dirt bike (a massive machine way too large for the likes of his scrawny children). Show us he did... right into the metal fencing which wrapped itself through and around his leg. Friends of my sister's happened to be driving by and helped cut him out of the fence. (Timmy Blackman, Todd Rodgers - do you remember this?) He then hobbled to the farm house and locked himself in the bathroom where he decided to slowly bleed out in the bathtub before one of us kids were concerned enough to call our mother who was at work. (We may or may not have been the most safety conscious of children.) He had more stitches than I could count.

Now, 45 years, 4 kids, and 7 grandchildren later, I wonder how many times he wishes he could go back and hide amongst the safety of the grapes. Actually, I'm surprised he didn't cut his arm off with the vine clippers.

By the way, his nickname for me growing up was "BJ-Joe go slow." I know. It's lame. Especially since I was hardly the last one out the door. He'd call me that even when I was the first one sitting in the car waiting by myself.

And also, I would just like to point out that it is not cool to name your daughter something where her initials drum up images of a sexual act. If you do not know what sort of sexual act "BJ" drums up then google it. Or ask Nick Hanssen. He's the one that explained it to me on the bus when I was in the 4th grade.

Update: I talked to my mother (not my father, because he doesn't give details) and was told that the scary open heart surgery scars were not open heart surgery scars at all, but the scars from a surgery for Pyloric Stenosis that was done on his stomach when he was just a teeny, tiny couple of months old baby. Apparently he was not able to keep milk down, wasn't growing and something obviously needed to be done, but he was too tiny for the hospital beds. They built a "wooden cross" to tie him on and keep him straight, and not curled up (as babies tend to do), so they could do surgery on his stomach. THOSE are the scary scars of my youth. 

My mother also said he never had heart surgery - which is entirely possible. We don't exactly speak openly and give out information and details about each other, so what I conjured up in the mind of my childhood has probably been gleaned from overheard, hushed conversations that I was too immature to comprehend, so I put them in boxes I could recognize and understand. I went to school with a girl who had open heart surgery, so perhaps I just assumed it was a heart surgery he had. (I'm making a note to ask him; although he hates being asked questions.)

To understand the way our family communicated I'll provide you an example of something that happened when I was in my early 20's:

The phone rang late at night. It was my mother. "I just wanted to tell you that we'll be staying the night because you're father didn't do well pulling out of surgery and he's in ICU."

"Okay.... umm... why was my father in surgery?"