Friday, February 22, 2008

While you were sleeping

So, this story is probably not going to be funny without the wild theatrics of a live retelling. But I'm telling it anyway because remembering it makes me smile. And even giggle out loud a little bit.

My freshman year of college I lived with my super fab cousin, Gertrude Schlollom, in a tiny dorm room in Helaman Halls. Righteous little scholars that we were, we decided not to study on Sundays, so as to allow more time for flirting with boys--er, I mean, observing the sabbath. So that sometimes meant getting up early on Mondays to finish stuff up. One Monday, we both had big tests or something so we decided to get up extra early. Like 4:00 AM. I was worried that we might sleep through the alarm at that unseemly hour, so I turned the volume on my clock radio WAY up. And then we went to sleep.

I don't know if it was nerves, or just the apparently genetic condition that turns me into a crazy person in my sleep, but at some point in the night I got up and moved my desk chair to my bed. For reasons that totally made sense at the time, I positioned the chair so that the legs were sticking out into the three-foot space between our beds. With the back of the chair flat on the bed, I carefully crawled back under my covers went back to sleep, not at all disturbed by the chair on my torso. (This is where the wild gesturing would really come in handy, because this positioning makes no sense.)

Of course, it would have been impossible for us to sleep through the alarm when it went off like a tornado siren at 4:00 AM, and Gertrude and I were both instantly awake. The trouble was, I was pinned down by that pesky desk chair, and couldn't figure out how to get it off me to get up and turn off the alarm. So Gertrude sprung into action! She jumped out of bed and grabbed my alarm clock. Unable to find its tiny sleep button in the dark, she started shaking it. "Why won't this turn off?" she asked. I wasn't much help, as I was still trying to figure out why I was sleeping under a chair. Finally, Gertrude got the light on and the alarm off. It was only then that she noticed my impediment. "Why is your chair on your bed?" she asked.

"Because I thought it would make you mad if I put it on your bed." I said, only then recalling the sleepy dream logic that led to the middle-of-the-night furniture rearrangement. What I should have said was, "Because I'm crazy."

I am comforted to know that I'm not the only who goes a little cuckoo in my sleep. So I want to hear your "while you were sleeping" stories, either in the comments below or on your own blog. Go on! Share the crazy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snow Day

This morning, after dropping Coach off at the airport so he could fly to Miami, the creatures and I bundled up and headed outside to play in the snow. We got a pretty good pile of it last night, and Sam has been begging to play outside for weeks. For a brief moment, I was glad that neither of my children are potty trained, cause I didn't want to have to peel all those layers off to race inside into the bathroom.
Speaking of layers, Sam got to try out the new coat and snow pants we bought on end-of-season clearance for next year. I guess it worked, because after more than an hour, he still didn't want to come in. Grace, on the other hand, was not nearly as enthusiastic about being outside.

Eventually, I took her inside to sleep in her own bed. She didn't care for the change of venue. I could still hear her screaming when I went back outside with Sam. But I'd promised we could make a snowman together.

Sam was pretty happy with the outcome. I was pleased with it too, but I will add that it was more complicated that I'd anticipated to accessorize a 10-inch snowman. I'd intentionally made the snowballs small to keep things quick and simple, (Apparently, my layers weren't as effective as Sam's, cause I was COLD!) but that meant finding a tiny carrot and minuscule bits of coal to keep it all to scale. A corn cob pipe was out of the question. Anyway, I think it all came together pretty well. I just hope I don't have to juice any lemons today.

Malcom had his own ideas for outdoor excitement. I don't know what he was up to, but he sure looked guilty, even before he asked, "What white lips?"
This is the view from our back porch.
I realize it's kinda white trash to leave discarded appliances sitting in the yard for months, but it went so well with the peeling paint on the neighbor's garage. And with a fluffy blanket of snow, the whole scene's downright picturesque. You know, in a trashy sort of way.

And finally, these are my attempts at artsy photos. I'm teaching the activity day girls some photography tips tonight. I'm ridiculously unqualified, but I figure they're only 8-11 years old. Maybe they won't notice.

As you can see, our snow day was a lot of fun. But I still think Coach might have gotten the better end of the deal. It's 80 degrees in Miami.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Rings and Things

When I was a young, single college student, I had a minor obsession with wedding rings. I'd notice a band on classmates' hands, and with equal parts envy and disdain, contemplate the symbolism of the tiny metal shackles. "There's a person on your finger," I'd ruminate (while I should have been learning how the Yangtze River impacted the culture, politics, and economy of southern China). Instead of memorizing Chinese dynasties, I'd ponder the band's implicit statement: I have a favorite person.

Over the years, as married people became less an oddity around me (and as I learned to pay attention in history class), my fixation diminished. When Coach and I picked out our wedding bands, I honestly didn't give it very much thought--except that I didn't want anything that emphasized the stumpyness of my freakishly short fingers. In fact, I was so concerned about my fingers looking like knuckled sausages, that I ordered my ring a little too big. (It was summer, and I didn't want anything constrictive.) The jeweler warned me against it, "You'll need to get that sized right away," she said. "If it doesn't fit well, you'll end up losing it."

She was right. I've lost it a couple times due to the fact that, apparently, when I'm sleeping I'm prone to removing it and hurling it across the room. One time it ended up under our bed, between the bed frame and the wall. The other time it was in the crack of the couch. Each time it was missing long enough for me to think it was gone gone gone. Eventually, as a precaution, I started taking my ring off every night before bed. But I'd end up forgetting to put it back on most mornings. Eventually, I stopped wearing it altogether, except for special occasions. (And when I don't want to get hit on. (Which is hardly ever.))

Coach, on the other hand, has no such trouble. He wears his ring all the time, day and night, summer and winter. Back in med school, he used to leave it home when he was on surgical rotations because it was easier than taking it off every time he scrubbed in for surgery. But even then he was apologetic about it. "I'm just leaving it home so I won't lose it at work," he explained, not wanting me to worry about his un-ringed hands.

"Dude, I don't care," I said. "I don't even wear mine anymore. Wedding bands are so 2002." Still, my sweet Coach kept on wearing his.

So it was strange, but no big deal, when I saw he'd left his wedding band on the bathroom counter yesterday morning. I even thought about calling him up and asking if he had any big plans for his day without the ole' shackle. But he beat me to it. He called me to tell me he kept noticing the absence of a ring on his left hand, and missing it made him miss me.

"Dude, with or without a ring, you know I'm wrapped around your finger," I said.

"Stop calling me 'Dude.'" He said. "The name's 'Sweetie.'"

"It sure is," I said. "It sure is."

I love you, Sweetie. You are my favorite person.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

365 Days of Grace

If you've been following our blog for more than ten seconds, it should come as no surprise that Grace is photogenic. We can only assume that this trait is a result of genetic mutation, as clearly she did not get it from either one of her parents.

So it's pretty much self evident that the kid is cute. But what you can't tell from photos is that even when the camera's not pointed at her, Grace is just the same little cherub. And in person, cute doesn't really seem to cut it.

I'm not sure if it's the eyes, the smile, or her shimmering bald head, but Grace is always stopping strangers. Even when they don't say anything to me, I often hear people comment to each other, "Did you see that baby?" Most of the time, though, they do stop, and become even more enamored when they discover how eager Grace is to make their acquaintance.

When we went to Hawaii a few months ago, Grace went with us, and was a big hit with tourists and locals alike. More than once she was called an Aloha Baby, and after being there a few days and getting a feel for what aloha really means, I realized that is the perfect description. When Grace smiles, she's not just saying "hello," or "I see you have a camera there, sir, and I would like to pose for you." It's more like, "Oh! What a delight! A person! I love you! Let's be friends!"

Could YOU turn down an offer like that?

I didn't think so.

She even wins over grumpy travelers. Our flight from the islands back to the mainland was very crowded, and we ended up in the back of the plane next to an older gentleman who was traveling alone. As he stowed his bag and moved toward his seat, I saw a look of horror cross his face when he noticed Grace. I can't blame him, really; it was a six hour flight, and I was a little worried myself. But Grace was angelic. She slept and played quietly in my lap, never once crossing the invisible wall to my right, beyond which sat Mr. Grumpypants. When we finally landed, Grumpypants uttered the only words I heard from him the whole flight: "Good baby." Then he half smiled, grabbed his briefcase and headed down the aisle.

So strangers are smitten with Grace. But once you know her, you're in love. The best part is it's totally mutual. Whether you call it love, or aloha, or even grace, our Grace is eager to share it.

It's been that way since she was born. When she was a couple months old, I told my journal: "Our Grace is as soft and cuddly as can be. She'll curl up in your arms and relax against your chest and before you know it you're both in a pastel dreamland. It's amazing. "

It's still true. There's nothing Grace loves more than a good cuddle. She'll hug you just to thank you for picking her up. Then she'll pat you on the back and hug you again. I've never known a baby so affectionate.

Now, before I start sounding smug, let me acknowledge that I can't take any credit for this premium baby. I'm pretty sure I've made every mistake in the book. For example, all my cuddling her to sleep reinforced some lousy sleeping habits. It turns out the cuddling isn't nearly as endearing at 4:00 AM. And bringing her back to bed with me wasn't such a great idea either because, truth be told, she is a bit of a bed hog. So we've been struggling with the sleeping thing for months, and I'd almost decided it was time to give up an buy a bigger bed.

And then, she did it! On the eve of her first birthday, Coach put her to bed in her crib, and after a (moderate) bout of sobbing and screaming, she snuggled into her blankets and slept the rest of the night. I know it's ridiculous to be as proud of her as I am right now. Having a one-year-old who sleeps the night in her crib is no feat for the record books. But I just love her little guts for doing it, even though it was hard. And you know what the best part was? She was still happy to see me in the morning.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at her resiliance. For Grace, a frown is just a smile waiting to be turned right side up.

(Elapsed time: thirty seconds)

I love you, sweet Gracie-Ku. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Family pic

Here's our Christmas photo. I guess I just need a few encouraging comments to get around to sprucing it up. :-) I cropped it before posting it last time, but this time it's full size in case that's helpful.

Activism time

You probably haven't been able to avoid the incessant news about the presidential primary, and I feel your pain. The media coverage has been pervasive (and brutal). I could go into lots of detail about what's at stake in this election (and with several friends I already have, here), but I'll summarize instead. Whenever I talk politics, I can sense Boss's mind starting to wander, choosing instead to dwell on happy things like... well, like those yummy sugar cookies last night. Those were good... mmmm...

Coach! focus!!!

  • Our energy bill is now nearly as much as our rent was when we first got married about 5 years ago. This is a problem. The economy is a problem. We have little equity in this house and we may have to pay a lot just to get rid of it, considering what the market has been doing.
  • We need a leader who doesn't speak with relish and political spin about new wars. But we also need a leader who will keep us safe.
  • We need someone with common sense solutions to big problems like immigration, government largess, health care, and education.
  • We need someone with the right combo of experience, success, and unsullied status as outsider.
  • We need someone who isn't afraid to admit mistakes and humbly change course

We need Mitt Romney. We really do. I'm not paid for this and I'm not loyal to Romney for anything other than the selfish reason that I want our country to thrive. But Romney, clearly the best candidate, has been weighed down with all sorts of peripheral garbage during this campaign and needs all the help he can get going into Tuesday's primary.

If you have a minute, help him out by making calls for the campaign, talking to friends and neighbors, or just writing a letter to the editor. If you can't take the time to do all that, at least read up about the candidates enough to make an informed decision and be sure to actually go out and vote. Money helps, of course.

Thanks for putting up with my new-found political zeal. I've been an activist for several years for a few pet issues, but this is my first foray into politics. It's kind of a heart-wrenching endeavor when you open your eyes to the unfairness of the process. I hope everyone will pitch in for America. Romney doesn't need the presidency, but America needs him.