Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!!

On Christmas Eve my children all used to gather together in one bedroom and sleep together. They stayed up late, laughing and giggling, and just generally getting excited for Christmas the next day. Then in the morning, they stomped around upstairs to wake their parents up nice and early. This tradition was repeated year after year, with minor changes. When they got older, they started setting an alarm clock to be certain to get up early. I snuck in the room and turned it off, but they were very clever children. They set more than one alarm clock, and I never quite found them all.

Another important part of this tradition was the ringing of the bell. See, after the children had been banished to their sleepover, Santa Claus knew that all were tucked in for the night, and so he (or possibly she) came and delivered presents. Then he tromped past their bedroom door with a bell and rang it wildly proclaiming, "Ho, Ho, Ho!! Merry Christmas!!" to the (not so) sleepy occupants within. Even after my girls grew beyond the believing stage, good ol' Santa still tromped past their door with that bell. They did begin to note that Santa's voice had an unusually high pitch, and Santa had to try to go bass to correct that anomaly.

There was the year that my baby was the only remaining believer, and she was scared spitless of that jolly fat man in his red suit. After Santa stomped around merrily declaring his season's greetings, he stomped away, opened the deck door, said goodbye, and disappeared into the night. Conveniently enough, I was close on hand, and I opened the door to ask if they had heard that Santa was there. As the door opened, my poor little girl was scrambling as fast as her little arms and legs could carry her into the arms of her oldest sister. She had the most petrified expression I think I've ever seen. Aw, the memories.

Well, that tradition has carried through the years without fail. As they got older, the sleeping arrangements changed. Married kids brought their spouses and everyone began the night together, waiting for the sound of Santa's jolly voice. Then the married kids would clear out, the others would vow to stay, and then one by one they would slink off to more comfortable arrangements (their own beds).

Last week we had our mini Christmas while everyone could actually be together. We went through all of our regular Christmas traditions and held our own little mini-Christmas a week and a half early. We had the most wonderful time. It was delightful to have my sweet year-old granddaughter around, ripping at paper with her childlike awe. Then she lovingly and adoringly laid her head on the things she loved best. Fabulous memories.

Which brings us to last night, Christmas Eve 2010. Santa laid out the presents, but the child in residence hadn't gone to bed yet. In fact, the child's boyfriend was still hanging out. They were busy having a midnight snack. So Santa forgot all about the bell ringing tradition and trotted off to bed. Not twenty minutes into this long winter nap, a very strange thing happened. The ringing of the bell!!!! accompanied by a truly male voice saying, "Ho, Ho, Ho!! Merry Christmas!!" I was like a little girl. I began to giggle, and in my head I saw visions of Santa Claus. I could see him tromping down my hall, proclaiming his season's greetings. It was truly a magical moment, a moment of child-like glee. I bounced from my bed and into the hallway, but alas Santa had made off into the winter night already. My daughter and her boyfriend were all that remained in the hallway, and they rushed toward me: "Did you hear? Did you hear? Santa was here!!"

It was always so much fun for me to do the tromping and the ringing and the proclaiming, but this year, I found out how absolutely much fun, how absolutely magical it is to be on the inside receiving the magic.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

the caretaker

My daughter had some minor surgery this past week, and I went up for the weekend to take care of her and my granddaughter. Of course, in true Soodle fashion, she came home and acted as if nothing had happened. The doctor told her to go home and rest with an icepack, but did she? No. The only way that would have happened would be if I had first conked her over the head and knocked her completely out. It was sort of like the time when she got her wisdom teeth out. The doctor told her to go home and rest and not to eat anything crunchy for the day, you know, stick to soft stuff like mashed potatoes. I guess she heard potato and added chip to it because the first thing into her mouth was a chip, and it was pretty much downhill from there.

So anyway, I was up for the weekend to "help." This is where I'm supposed to complain about how hard it is to keep up with a one year old, how much work they are, how much trouble they are, and all that jazz. I think the following pictures will explain just exactly how overworked I felt.

I miss you sweet thing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

mowing the lawn

I mowed the lawn this morning. It has been a really long time since I mowed a lawn, and it took me way back. I was sneaking up on teenhood. My father had just had a heart attack and was in the hospital. His condition was stable, but to a kid, stable was just another word for “not very well.” My dad owned a landscaping/mowing business. Well, to be precise, he had a job with the Union Pacific Railroad, and on the side, he ran a one-man landscaping business. So when he landed in the hospital for weeks, that left his business unattended. It just wouldn’t do to have those people take their business elsewhere so my mother and I attended to mowing lawns. Day after day, I threw all my strength into that work, pushing that lawnmower up and down, up and down. See, in my little head, I somehow felt like I was making an unspoken deal with God, a plea really. I figured if I worked really hard, then God would make my dad well. I worked so hard that one day my mom suddenly made me stop and rest. Apparently, my flushed cheeks and rapid breathing scared her. It was in vain to try to keep me down, though, and I was soon back at it, making that lawnmower save my dad. Well, he did survive that heart attack and was soon convalescing at home.

I hadn’t really thought much about this until this morning. And there I was pushing a lawn mower up and down, up and down again. My dad has been gone a long time now, twenty-four years. As I pushed that lawn mower around today I thought about him, the kind of man he was, how hard he worked, how much he loved, how life treated him. Then my mind drifted to my life, how hard I work, how much I love, how life treats me. I’m a planner, and I had such plans and goals, such vision of how life would proceed. Then Life took over and didn’t stick to the plan, didn’t follow the outline I had so carefully crafted.

After I finished mowing and put the lawnmower away, I grabbed some trimming shears and trimmed away the dead roses from the rosebush. Then I carefully picked a nice open rose, which seemed to be my life to this point; and I picked a barely blooming rose, perhaps my life ahead. I stood looking at that nicely mown lawn, the nice straight lines, and I breathed in the scent of freshly mown lawn. And I felt like I had really accomplished something, and it was more than just mowing the lawn.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

out of my mind

So I had another day like this one today. I haven’t had many days like this recently. In fact, it has been more than a month since my last migraine, since my life found a new calm and peace that has significantly decreased the incidence of this brain disorder of mine. Unfortunately and inconsiderately, this migraine started just as I was on my way out to my first class of the day. That really didn’t fit into my plan for the day, but I popped my drugs and took my body to class anyway. If the teacher would have called roll, I think I would have needed to say, “body present, mind absent.” After that class, I went to the library and finished some homework before another class.

Then I took my body to the student center where I found a couch in an inconspicuous place to lie down on. My daughter called while I was there, and she said, “What are you doing?” “Well, actually I’m lying on a couch in the student center.” “You’re what?” “Hey! I have a migraine, and I’m lying on a couch in the student center.” “Oh, that’s awesome, Mom. That’s exactly what I used to do.” Hmmm. Seems that behavior fits in.

Then I went to my other class, and my professor was wearing a shirt with this slogan on it: “Out of my mind. Be back in five minutes.” Seemed extremely apropos in the moment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

this is a test

So my favorite class this semester is Elements of Grammar. As you read this, you may be cringing, or even worse, you're thinking that I'm crazy. The phrase English geek may even have passed through your lips. In class we were instructed to get in groups and create a paragraph using homophones incorrectly. For an example of homophones, see above picture. Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Our paragraph contains fifteen homophones. Can you find them?

Last weak in class wee got a pour grade on a group assignment. We couldn't except that the grade was fare. Won of us said she wanted too dye! How could she go on living when she was grated forth in her class? She threatened two leaf school forever. We finally convinced her not to quit college over this one coarse. After awl, how hard can grammar bee?

This was entirely too much fun. I sent this to my editor daughter, and I got back a simple email: "MUST FIX! MUST FIX!" I think it put her editor mind into a tailspin, realizing that this assignment was correct as it was, and yet it was so incorrect! School just shouldn't be so much fun.

So how did you do? Did you find all the homophones? If you did, pat yourself on the back. You must be an English geek too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

series of events

I was just thinking about how a series of events happens, how you don't have any idea that one thing is preceding another. How it doesn't even occur to you that one simple thing could even be important. You see a couple of months ago, Roodle found a baby sparrow in her apartment parking lot. Being that she has a really soft heart for birds, she rescued the thing, and then seeing that she works all day quite frequently, she brought the little runt to me to take care of, along with a medicine dropper which we used to feed the little squirt multiple times a day until one day it happily flew away. After it flew the coop, I cleaned the cage and the medicine dropper, put them upstairs in the storeroom, and it was all but forgotten.

So Saturday, when I fed the dogs, Chamine's pill package fell out of her mouth and right next to Miley's bowl. Miley lunged for it, and I screamed, but it was too late. She ate Chamine's phenobarbital AGAIN! This may not seem terribly serious, but the medicine is intended for a dog three times her size, and it is a lethal dose when she ingests it. I swooped her up and yanked her mouth open to try to get it, but it was long gone. I prepared her cocktail of orange juice and hydrogen peroxide, but she wouldn't drink it! The little brat! Did she remember this from last time? So I ran upstairs and retrieved the medicine dropper. I came back and secured her in a football hold, and forced the medicine down her. She was crying and yelping, and yes, I was crying too. I felt so bad. She couldn't understand that I was saving her life. All she could understand was that I was acting irrationally and forcing orange juice down her throat. The hydrogen peroxide did its job faithfully, and she immediately threw up a nice little package of lethal drugs.

When Roodle found that baby sparrow, she asked me if I wanted to take care of it. I remember my response: "Not exactly." So she didn't bring it over . . . until early the next morning. Then with the skill of a practiced thief, she slunk into the house and surreptitiously abandoned it on the kitchen counter. I woke up to a chirping, hungry baby bird that morning. And it began. We started feeding it every few minutes for several days, and then one day, it took flight. That little medicine dropper then innocently waited upstairs in the vacant cage until I summoned it frantically. Had Roodle not brought me that baby bird, I wouldn't have had the medicine dropper, Miley wouldn't have taken the hydrogen peroxide, and . . . well . . . thanks for bringing me a baby bird one early summer morning, Roodle. You saved my puppy's life.

Friday, May 7, 2010

what did you learn today?

When I was young as I arrived home from school, my daddy would say, "So, Chellee, what did you learn in school today?" I would inevitably respond with, "Aw, nothin'," To which he would say, "You might have just as well stayed home and helped yer mother then." This little scenario played out over and over throughout my youth. Even when I did learn something, I certainly didn't admit to it. That would have ruined our little after school game.

Well, my first semester back in college is over, and it was a dooze. My daddy isn't around anymore to actually ask me what I learned in school. How fiercely I miss him--his nearly completely bald head, his hilarious and completely ridiculous bedtime stories that sometimes included toilet paper wrapped around his head, and his big, warm daddy bear hugs that nearly squeezed the life out of me. Even though he isn't here to ask, I thought I'd tell you anyway. Here is what I learned in school:

1. College professors teach that you should teach what you intend for your students to learn, and test them accordingly. Then they put trick questions in their finals, and when you call them on it: "This is a trick question on the English language. I know the material, but the question is a trick. Which way am I supposed to answer it?" They look at you and smirk. Therefore, it isn't actually necessary to teach as you preach.

2. If I do my homework ahead of time and hand it in, I will be punished by being given extra homework to do, and this right at the end of the semester as finals approach. Therefore, drag your feet on all your assignments.

3. Math is more confusing than I ever knew. In base six, 5 + 5 = 14. In base eight, 5 + 5 = 12. In base nine, 5 + 5 = 11, and in base two, 5 + 5 = 1010. I expect this to come in handy every day the rest of my life.

4. If you live in the U.S. and you are white, you are bad simply by virtue of the color of your skin. This was drilled into my head quite laboriously. Therefore, I am very, very bad because I am very, very pale skinned.

5. I learned to make the flower that is pictured above in a presentation that a group of students did. It's rather lovely, isn't it? Possibly the best thing I learned all semester.

So, Daddy, nothing much has changed. I really should have stayed home and helped my mother.

Monday, April 5, 2010

a typical day

So here's a typical day in my life:

Get up, exercise, go to school, come home, study, go to bed. There are a few other things that manage to slip into the routine like eating and going to the bathroom, but for the most part, that routine is pretty secure.

Yesterday started out totally typical, until I was well into the study element of the day. As I sat at the computer, my senses were suddenly overwhelmed with the very strong scent of skunk. It was so strong that I feared the worst. Had a genius skunk figured out how to manipulate the doggie door? I crept down the stairs, looking carefully around every corner. As I did so, I imagined in my mind what I would do if I found myself face to face with a skunk. I'm pretty sure I'd abandon ship. This would definitely be an "every woman for herself" situation. Now if there was a fire in the house, I'd dash through the flames to save my child. If she was drowning in a whirlpool, I'd jump in and go down with her. If there was an earthquake and the house was falling down, I'd use my body as a shield to save her. But a skunk? Are you kidding? That's just asking too much. You're on your own, baby girl. But I digress.

Stealthily, I manuevered my way around the house, but there was no skunk within the premises. This left just one thing to do. I sought out Miley, picked her up and took a sniff. Clean. Then Noodle and I invited Chamine in. She looked a wee bit wet (translate: soaked) around the chin and chest and front legs. "But it's really wet outside," Noodle said hopefully. Yes, it had been raining, so we could only hope. Then we both knelt down and gingerly took a sniff. We reeled back in horror. Yes! Chamine had been hit by a skunk! Again! Does this dog not learn? Or could it be she likes this nasty smell!? A hundred thirty-eight ounces of tomato juice and a half bottle of doggie shampoo later, Chamine was 2% less stinky. I documented this event through pictures for you.

Oh, and I know you've been reading this whole time thinking, "And what does that little dog on the top have to do with anything?" Would you believe we got another dog?

Yes, I know you would believe it. The truth is we didn't. You may now heave a huge sigh of relief. That little dog is the rest of the story. As we were driving home from Harmon's with our 138 ounces of tomato juice, Noodle spotted a little dog running down the busy street. She instinctively pulled the car over and rescued the little beast. (I'm pretty sure this was motivated by the memory of Chamine missing for ten days, and she couldn't bear the thought of someone else without their beloved pet.) Fortunately, Marley was wearing a tag. We called his owners, and they came to rescue their baby.

Marley is returned to his owners, and Chamine smells a lovely scent of skunk/tomato juice/doggie shampoo.

And that was my atypical day. Can we go back to a typical day tomorrow?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

what goes around . . .

So a friend of Danielle's went to Mexico for Spring break. This little creature, Miah, is a member of their family and got left behind. Naturally, we brought her over to be babysat. I mean, two dogs just wasn't enough around here. Now, we simply cannot move without stepping on a dog. At first, I thought this was a sure sign that we didn't need another dog. However, a couple days later, we've gotten pretty accustomed to Miah, and I'm not so sure we're going to let her go back home to her original family.

Chamine was pretty peeved to begin with. I could almost hear her talking. "Are you serious? You brought another little rat into the house?" But she adapted pretty quickly, and she has some pretty sweet coping skills. She either looks away or walks away when she gets ticked off. You see, Miah can't seem to manage the skill of getting through our doggy door, so once Chamine is out the door, she's in freedom land.

Miley, on the other hand, is learning what it was like for Chamine when she came along. Miah is all kinds of happy to play with Miley. I captured this on video for you. What goes around, comes around, Miley!

Friday, January 22, 2010

another cool picture

Remember when I went to the neurologist, took valium, laid in a tube, and had an MRI done? See cool picture of my brain below if you've forgotten. Well, I just had my follow up appointment. What you are seeing here is a picture of the human brain vascular system. No, it's not mine. I just thought sinced I'd provided you with a view of my brain it would only be fair to follow it up with a really cool picture of blood vessels.

So my neurologist says that my blood vessels have a small amount of scarring on them, which is totally normal for someone who suffers from migraines. What isn't totally normal is that I don't have a lot more scarring, given that I've been fighting migraines for thirty years. With the exception of that small amount of scarring, my brain is very healthy. No tumors. No cysts. No growths. No water sacs. Nothin'. (Quite frankly, I was just plain pleased to see there was even a brain in there!)

So Soodle, Poodle, Roodle, and Noodle . . . you can put away those lists you were starting entitled, "The possessions of Mom's that I want when her head blows up," cuz apparently my brain is very healthy. Migraines just make me THINK it's going to blow up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

this is your brain on . . .

Raise your hand if you remember the commercial where someone cracks an egg into a sizzling hot frying pan, and says, "This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"

I went to a neurologist a couple of weeks ago to see if anything can be done about my chronic migraines. Now that I'm in school, it doesn't seem really accommodating to have a migraine once or twice a week. My neurologist prescribed some new medications. Fortunately, (did I really say fortunately?) I had a migraine yesterday to test these medications. I'm pleased to report that they worked like a dream. Now I'm not holding my breath, partly because I just like to breathe, and partly because I'm reserving judgment for the incidence of a few more migraines to see if it really is effective more than once.

As a part of my treatment, the doctor had me submit to an MRI. One of the pre-questions she asked me was, "Are you claustrophobic?" When the answer to that was an immediate yes, valium became mandatory. I guess if you wiggle around violently in the MRI tube, slap the sides, and scream to be released, the MRI doesn't produce a very good result. So today I went in for my MRI, they administered the valium and sent me through the tube. I was a model patient, me and my valium. We laid there like we were dead.

Now let's discuss the super cool picture. I think I've discovered the problem in my brain already. Please look kind of in the center of the thing. Do you see the alien crawling into my brain? One leg is down, the other all ready boosted inside, and this creature is crawling inside my brain. I'm pretty sure that's what that is. No wonder I have migraines. There is an alien residing in my brain.

Anyway, I'm awake now. The valium has totally worn off, I swear.

This is valium. This is your brain on valium. Any questions?

Monday, January 11, 2010

back to school

So I finally decided what I want to be when/if I grow up. This grandma’s going back to school in elementary ed, and today was the first day of school. I just wanted to let you know how I feel about this new venture. I found a picture that seems to portray my feelings perfectly, much better than words could ever do.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

doggie booties

Remember when I talked about Christmas stockings for the dogs? I wasn't kidding. They really got stuffed stockings. Here's my daughter, Noodle, showing Chamine and Miley their gifts. They were really excited, sniffing like they were professional bomb sniffing dogs and they'd just discovered the mother lode.

And in Miley's stocking, were these four very adorable booties. Don't laugh. This is for real. See she has this nice fur coat, but her little toesies get cold when we walk. At least that's what I thought. She doesn't complain or shiver or anything like that. I just thought it would be a very nice thing for a mother to do to put socks on her child's bare feet when she takes her for a walk.

So yesterday I got these warm, comfy booties out for their maiden voyage around the block and began to place them on Miley's feet. She wiggled a bit at first, but then she succumbed to my authority and allowed the procedure. It wasn't too bad, and pretty soon I had secured all four booties. I let her go, and this is what I saw.

I guess she wasn't a big fan. Apparently, as I was putting them on, she was kicking them off. I tried, Miley. I guess you'll have to have frozen toes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

checking back in

So it would appear that I pretty much checked out for awhile here. I'm trying to form my excuses, but they are slow in coming. Let's see. I've been really busy. That's true. With Christmas and all. And then my sweet grandbaby coming. It was chaos at the funnest level possible. I loved every single moment of it. Christmas was really wonderful, with just one drawback. One of my sweet daughters couldn't be here because her employer thought she should take her turn and be around just after the holidays. That was really a bummer.

Which brings me to this. Speaking of my kids, I've been trying to keep them off my blog, pictures and names. I don't know if you've noticed, but they are never named. I've used only their titles: daughter, oldest daughter, youngest daughter, teenage daughter, grandbaby. Yeah, I'm pretty tricky if you haven't happened to notice. Also, I've kept their faces off, except my sweet granddaughter (there I go again) since I think that a baby looks pretty much like any baby, except of course to those who love her. That has kind of left me in a really limited situation since my life is really all about my kids pretty much.

Well, I took a little poll and my kids said it's okay to put their pictures on. But I've decided that just for the fun of it, and also to keep their real names from the Internet, I'm going to rename them. Now this took some thought, and like all thoughts that I have, my system for renaming them is slightly strange. Here's how it goes: I took the name that I usually call them, which maybe or maybe doesn't actually begin with the letter of their real name, and then added oodle to it because I just love them oodles and oodles. Don't quite get it? Let me show you. There's Soodle who is married to Joodle and has my sweet grandbaby who is Boodle. Then there's Noodle and of course there's Roodle who is married to Coodle and then there's Poodle. Kind of sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, huh? Now they aren't even necessarily in birth order there. In fact, they're not. So if you know me well and you know what I call my kids, you can figure out who's who; if not, well, it probably doesn't matter that much anyway.

And here's a picture of me with my sweet grandbaby, oh yeah, with Boodle, on her blessing day just last month. I love you oodles and oodles, Boodle.