Tuesday, September 4, 2007

All natural

Today while driving home I felt a little flutter kick kick in my pregnant belly. It wasn't the first. In fact, my newly forming little girl has been busy exercising her precious little limbs for quite a few weeks. Each time I feel the little nudge nudge internally, I am reminded of the wonderful times I have ahead and get fidgety with anticipation. A new little person, like a new present to unwrap! Tyler and I are still unwrapping the first gift, it seems each day we remove yet another darling piece of Lily Lu's intricate and unique personality wrapping as she speaks more and showcases her adorable "Lilyness". The thought of being blessed with another gift come December will make for a merrier than Merry Christmas.

While I was pondering these pleasantries, I reminisced of my days in the hospital with Lily. I'm sure many mothers look upon their labor/delivery hours with nauseous post tramatic horror, but thanks to the wonderful use of a beautiful drug coined "an Epidural" I have rose colored lenses to look back with. The anesthesiologist is my Santa Claus this year, and I've been a very good girl.

Before Lily arrived, I spoke to two extremely admirable mothers who highly recommended Hypnobirthing. Intrigued and in awe of this all-natural approach, I passionately became converted. I ordered the CD's, read the book, and searched for Hypnobirthing classes. I completely agreed with the concept, and still do, that childbirth is not a disease, but rather a "natural" process for a woman's body. Freaking out, tensing up, and watching Hollywood versions of deliveries only prolongs and intensifies suffering...I agree. I agree. I agree.

And so my weeks of training began. Each morning I would drive to work, sipping a Keva Juice while performing the daily chants on CD. Out loud, in my car, I would repeat after the soft soothing voice of the woman on the CD, things like,

"I see my baby descending through tissue that is pink and healthy" and "I am calm, I am happy, I am relaxed."

My only mistake during these weeks was accidentally leaving the CD in my car when my 16 year-old sister and two little brothers borrowed the car. After a few therapy sessions, they thankfully recovered and now love to request the, "I see the baby descending through tissue that is pink and healthy" CD.

Tyler and I practiced the chants, the massages, the visualizations, and felt confident in my ability to master the control of childbirth. After all, this was my thank you to womankind for all of time, my attempt to join the "real woman" club. My kudos to the unspeakable toughness of women.

As instructed, I politely but firmly informed my doctor of my decision to Hypnobirth. While respectful... and possibly smirking, she only asked that her patients remain "open", and said she supported any decision I made. Ha, I'm sure she then proceeded to place bets with the other nurses in the office while laughing her way down the hall. It must have been my maternity eyelit skirt that gave the "I am a sucker wimp wimp wimp" away.

Once induced to have Lily (possible preclampsia)a week early, I geared up as Tyler helped tie the laces down the back of my hospital gown. This would also be the part of my labor story where hypnobirthing ceased to exist and labor began. Instead of chanting, "I am relaxed" during a contraction my brain starting releasing "You are going to die, you are going to die, you are going to die" chants like a broken record. After breaking my water I was forced to confront a few truths about myself in the 45 seconds I had in between earth shattering contractions:

#1. I hate nature. While I agree that childbirth is a natural process, what's so great about natural anyways? Afterall, nature is a lion hacking away at the limbs of beautiful, squealing zebra on the Discovery channel! It is the middle age woman with gray hair grown to her buttocks who smells of the all "natural" seaweed conditioner she purchases at Wild Oats! In fact, it is the organic and delicious wraps at Wild Oats that produce the all "natural" foul vapors that will plague you and humankind for the next 12 hours after consuming! To H-E- double hockey sticks with nature!

#2. I am bitter at being a woman. Yes, I said it. I have seething resentment towards the condition of our sex. Why do I have to throw up for four months? Why does my body have to change? Why do I have to worry about whether or not my husband will ever find me attractive again after seeing me in all my "crowning" womanhood glory (no pun intended)? Why did I have to gain 45 pounds? Why is my nose so swollen and huge? And why...after all of this do I have to endure searing pain while "progressing" from 1-9 dialation only to once again vomit, shake and possibly poooooop in transition!!? The horror! The blood sucking unbelievably not fair horror! Forget it womankind. Thanks for all you have done, but I'm going to have to deboard the "I am woman" train now and scream like little pansy for some drug assistance. Doctor, shoot me up, as I bend over and present my spine somewhere to be found in the midst my pitocin inflated back.

#3. I've endured the entire pregnancy like a measly little whiner, why not the delivery as well? I can redeem myself afterwards. In the meantime, if you ever happen to be in my presence during any of these nine months, you will find a most definitely unsexy and not-so-admirable example of ample and fortunate fertility. I won't ever tell you, "I looove being pregnant." If you stop by my house you won't see nude pregnancy photos of me confidently embracing my buxom breasts and protruding belly goddess-ness. I'm back in my bedroom, puking or eating unholy amounts of Reeses peanut butter cups, crying over wedding photos where my waist appeared to have the diameter of a tennis ball.

While I admire, and even envy, the mothers who stick it out and manage control I can't say that I regret my wonderful epidural. I'd like to think that the members of the womanhood club were actually giving me a little push, saying "We would have taken the epidural if we could have... we would have sold out too." Maybe, maybe not.

I'm actually not even afraid to go back...who knows, maybe I'll give hypnobirthing a shot next time.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bu Je whaa?

I love department stores. Nothing thrills me to my girly credit card charging core than the sight of freshly windexed glass cabinetry sparkling full of the latest in cosmetic and fragrance delights. Nothing soothes my materialistic soul like a new, crisp handled bag holding my latest purchase wrapped in tissue paper. The pink plush carpet and little painted red hearts and stripes lining the store perimeter of Victoria's Secret, with classical music playing softly in the background, will serve as the future motif of my posh bedroom when I'm in my eighties or so, when I'll cease to care that my bedroom remain gender nuetral for my husband.

I love pretty things, I love NEW things. Along the lines of what Elle Woods might agree with: Pretty things make you feel pretty. Feeling pretty increases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't go around killing other people.

And there you have it, my simple and effective solution to world violence: Let's all just do a little more shopping, buy a few more pretty things.

Having given you a snapshot of the musings of my problem-solving, cerebral shopping lobe, it may be of comfort to know that I do not, nor shall ever hold any viable decision making position pertaining to government/voluntary/political institutions. My realm extends to the mantle of our fireplace, and Tyler wouldn't dream of allowing my lipstick loving philosophies to settle into our children in any permanent sort of fashion.

You might also guess that when first confronted with the term "Budget" upon being married, I first asked for the English term, assuming it from a foreign language. After being given the same term, as well as the definition and its use in a sentence, I could only blubber:

Bu Je Whaaa?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no Paris Hilton. I have understood budgets in the sense of not getting a brand new car the moment I wanted it. I understood that we couldn't afford big fancy cruises and diamonds, etc. But what I DIDN'T understand is that the term "budget" extends into things I have always taken for granted, things like groceries, shampoo, clothing apparel, and shaving cream. A few weeks before being married Tyler and I reviewed our very first "budgeted" financial outline. He made the almost fatal mistake of saying, "Rae, you're gonna have to give up your highlight/hair cuts every six weeks for your hair- it's SO expensive!" to which I responded if he was going to ask me to live without my tried and true peroxides, he might as well give up toilet paper. Both are NON-negotiable.

Slowly, I have learned, and wiggled my way through this new budget consiousness. Miraculously, I have even managed to keep our marriage primarily debt free. Whoo hoo. Triumphantly, I stroll my way through Wal-Mart and WinCo, pinching pennies as I opt for the generic "Crispy Rice" instead of "Rice Crispies". For three years, I have managed to feel little self deprivation and a hearty amount of self sufficient satisfaction as I've stuck to "the budget".

One weekday afternoon my three years of progress came to a dead halt, as I opened the door to the newest cosmetic goddess department store ULTA. (My mom has coined it "Sephora on steroids...it's so great.")
I decided to check it out one afternoon while running errands. Opening the doors, I was greeted by caseloads of the latest Redken Blonde Glam collection in front, loads of summer scented fragrances to my left, nail polishes to my right, and enough cosmetics all around to playfully peruse through for days. Atop, I could hear the glorious angels of flawless foundation and dewy complexions once again singing, "AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"




"Hello Ladies, I've missed you."





Completely speechless and starry eyed, caught up in a trance of the latest trends, I browsed the fragrance aisle, stumbling upon Issey Miyake's "Leau'Dissey". I stroked her beautiful, sand-blasted glass exterior and humbly apologized for being away too long. I preceded to the NARS lipgloss section and lovingly glanced at my long neglected friends, who once paired with the latest Benefit lipliner had so graciously given me a plumper pout. In the hair department, I even came upon a special on Redken All Soft shampoo!

After floating through the moments of this passionate reunion with my ornamental loves, I glanced at my credit card and realized that even the specials did not coincide with my monetary limits for the week. With feet once again firmly planted on the boring budgetary ground I had to mournfully say my goodbyes to all of my sparkly and smooth and silky friends.

"Goodbye," I woefully stuttered, "but not forever." I left with the only frilly friend I could take, an OPI pearl finish polish to console my heartbroken toes.


As I walked away, deprivation and sneering resentment began steaming out of my faux pearl encrusted ears....
Bu Je Whaa?
I HATE BUDGETS! I HATE THEM HATE THEM HATE THEM! I HATE THEM I HATE THEM I HATE THEM!
Arriving home in a pouting tizzy, I began noticing the darker shade of my once pristinely new carpet, the office room that should be a pottery barn playroom, the yellow tinged finish of my kitchen cabinetry.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I dropped complaints here and there, there and here, over just about anything and everything that didn't suit my "pretty" perfection seeking sanity. It wasn't until Tyler one evening became quiet, and almost grumpy (a rarity for him), that I stopped. After coaxing his concerns out of him, he replied, "You sometimes make me feel like I'm not making enough money for us. Like it'll never be good enough. This is the way it is right now Rae, and it's okay."
My heart felt like a 11 ton bag of cold bricks as I stepped back to remember our beautiful home, his long hard hours at work and as a student, our baby girl, our lovely yard, our paid off vehicles, our refrigerator full of groceries. And yes, even my stocked to the brim bathroom cupboards already full of endless amounts of cosmetics and lotions and fragrances.

"I'm a brat," thought I.
"You're right," agreed the glorious angels of flawless foundation and dewy complexions.

So!...With a new resolution beginning 8/27/2007 (forget the New Year's thing), I Rachel Haack solemnly promise to be a better "Bu Je Whaater" and stop complaining about the lists of things I don't have, and remember more the lists of things I DO have. Both lists can be endless, it's just about which list you choose to focus on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top 3 Reasons why celebrating at Chili’s on a 3rd anniversary with a total package of a man is 3 million times better than eating at the finest steakhouse married to some TwirPy JeRkY pErV….

Sitting with a friend at my husband’s softball game a few weeks ago, we were graced with the delightfully enlightened conversation of 3 ever so honorable gentlemen whose conversation went something like this…

“F_____ Bleep bleep bleep beer. F______ Bleep Pu___ bleep bleep C_____ bleep bleep bleep mother F______ bleep bleep yeah dude.”

I actually know each of the above mentioned gentlemen, and they were fully aware of the presence of women in their company. I turned to my friend and thankfully uttered, “Aren’t you so glad you have an Austin? And I have a Tyler….we are so lucky.”

Anne of Green Gables was once asked by her astute adoptive mother Marilla, “Why Anne, would you want to marry a wicked man?”
To which Anne replied, “Not a man that is really wicked, but I would like it if he could be wicked.

And hence describes the ever present quandary of the female psyche. We love a bad boy, but one that is tame. We drool at a rough exterior, and sigh at a gentle touch. We complain we want compassion and understanding, but occasionally a little standoffish macho-ism really gets our blood boiling (in a good way). Mel Gibson in a smelly and suggestive kilt sends us into a lustful tizzy as he brutally hacks his way through crowds of soldiers for the woman he loves. We adore the scent of our ridiculously expensive perfumes, and yet equally pleasure in the stench of a dirty construction workin’ babe or football player. OOo La lA, the Mars and Venus thing doesn’t even begin to explain the ironic churnings of our highlighted, deeply conditioned heads.

However, where in the course of this dilemma did we begin giving off the signal that behaving and speaking like an uneducated, perverted little moron was acceptable, attractive, or a sign of worthy manhood? Why and how is it that these nasty mouthed boys actually HAVE girlfriends, and devoted ones at that? Girlfriends that linger despite commitment ….Has the selection really dwindled so? Somewhere in the midst of waiting for Ben Affleck to arrive in his chivalrous Pearl Harbor-esque army uniform, or Richard Gere on his Camelot bound stallion, did they throw up their hands and say, “Okay….I guess perverted little moron will have to do.”

And was it at this surrendering moment for womankind that young men realized that to dwarf into beer bonging, potty mouthed, wanna hook up at a party but wouldn’t dream of asking you to dinner, X-box obsessed frat boys acting like 13 year olds was easier than donning a kilt laced with a scrap of maturity and just hint of valor?

I fear that so many of us girls have succumbed to this epidemic, simply sitting back and waiting for our prospects, our boyfriends, our men to grow up a little before taking the marital dive. When they hit their mid 30’s, these boys may finally grow to men, and take us to the finest steakhouses in town while planning the nursery for children they are finally ready for. I obviously don’t speak for all women, or all men, when I say these things. I am clearly being caught in a flustered dither after angrily pondering the wholesome conversation of the aforementioned boys. It’s just that after these such experiences I no longer wonder why people my age look at marriage, turn the other way and bolt. Who is out there to marry? And is it a better prospect to live single and content until glorious maturity and stable financial times arrive? Why not wait till midlife to begin building life with someone else?

When Tyler and I were driving to Chili’s, the only restaurant within limited budgetary constraints for the week- regardless of marital anniversary status- I suggested a little game. Just to highlight my complete hypocrisy when it comes to the topic of maturity, I confess that I am that girl that plays those games, those games that a male would be safer to light a 3 ton stick of dynamite in front of his face rather than engage in …
The “If you absolutely could never ever ever ever ever have me as a girlfriend, who would you pick?” game, or the “If you absolutely HHHHAAAADD to pick someone BESIDES me, who would you say is the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen?” game.
Tyler has once, and only once, naively fallen prey to these game traps, as a 16 year-old when we were dating and mistakenly mentioned such a female. Shamefully, I will admit that even to this day I wouldn’t consider it a complete tragedy if the girl whosenameIshallneverspeak were to be involved in a freakish dye disaster causing dramatic hair loss. Tyler will also never watch a movie with Brad Pitt without sulking..
Having moved on from such trivial patter, I very smoothly suggested we play “Top 3 things on our 3rd anniversary that we want for our marriage in the future.”

To which Tyler answered,

1. That the future will be as blissful and fun as these past three years have been.
2. That we will have a happy and successful family.
3. More sex.

Completely satisfied, I sat back and savored the pure manliness of my man.. Honorable, sweet as pie….and yes, a man.

I turned to him and said thank you. Thank you for going against everyone else’s good judgement and advice and asking me to marry you. Thank you for taking this risk with me. Thank you for enjoying the responsibility and the depth that comes with marriage and children. Thank you for having fun at Chili’s with Con Queso dip and Chocolate Molten Cake instead of swearing up a storm with your mouth spewing tobacco juice at late night softball games. And thank you for not being ashamed of our life.


On a major budget, completely out of range with societal norms, expecting our second child, working long hours, always striving for a better life, running triathlons, playing basketball, getting all sweaty and dare I say sexy… I’m so lucky to have found this real man.
I’ve come up with the top 3 reasons I am confident in our marriage both now and in the future:

1. You
2. You
3. You



I love you…..

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Plane ride...

Boarding the plane, I was brimming with hope after a succcessful waiting period in the airport with Lily Lu. We had just finished a delightfully nutritious meal of hot dogs and pizza, and I was privately congratulating myself on my stellar mom ability to manage through security with a stroller, a diaper bag, a giant purse, a sippy cup with fresh milk, and a little girl with some extremely happenin' pink boots whom everyone was "oooohing and ahhhing" over.


"I'm good at this," thought I. "Here I am, little pregnant mom with little cute girl boarding a little plane for a little ride with little cute things to keep her content." In full control, loaded with crayons, gummy worms, binkies, books, and her favorite toy keys and cell phone I thought it would be a quick one hour jaunt from Vegas to home.

WrOnG. wROng. WROng. STUpiD sTUpid NAive NaIVE MothER.

To briefly describe our return home from Vegas this week in a nutshell: The worst possible experience of human motherhood with a toddler on a plane that literally at one point made me wish we were sitting in the emergency release door section so that I could pull the lever and attach cushions to myself and my daughter, assuming that we would survive such a fall more easily than the monstrous flight home we had just embarked on.

A bumpy ride? To say the least. But not because of the plane or any current wind conditions: it was Lily Tyler Haack.

Lily Tyler Haack, you say? That radiantly darling child of which you spoke so fondly of in your last post?
YeS. If I could claim an alien possession of my sweet daughter's body to justify her behavior on the plane I would, but alas it was/is my child. Not only did she throw tantrums when I wouldn't allow her to get down and run up and down the aisles, she threw her gummy worms at fellow passengers in between saying " Hiiiii." Not only were we sitting next to two men, one of whom was rather large, but the kind flight attendant informed me I needed to put Lily's diaper bag, stuffed full of distracting hopefuls, under the seat. Consequently, everytime Lily was ready to switch from the current toy (approx. every 2.5 seconds) I got to bend my pregnant belly down and drag out the bag from under the seat while holding my child on my lap, seeing how she flew for free because she is young enough to qualify as a "lap child". Moving like this in a space of 14 square inches provoked profuse sweating from both myself and my child.

Sitting, squirming, smothering, sweating little pregnant mom with little cute child with little fun toys.

Ohhh, but that isn't it! The grand finale came in the last 13 minutes of the flight, when Lily officially snapped. I blame it on possible ear pain (despite the fact she had a pacifier), because what ensued even I didn't imagine my child capable of. SCREAMING, INCOHERENT, FREAKING OUT TANTRUM. KICKING, BITING, SOBBING, FLINGING HORROR. For the last 13 minutes not only myself but every passenger on board endured the most painful wrangle with a child that had officially lost it and loomed in a new realm of toddler plane-induced dimensia. Nothing I could do would console her. No gummy worm or promise of Mommy's gum could calm her. I calmly tried to calm her, and calm her, and calm her, to no avail. SCREAMING, SCREAMING, SCREAMING. Soon I panicked: Was it her ears? Has she mentally snapped because she has an undiagnosed case of severe claustrophobia and I forced her into a space too small to breath? Am I going to arrive home with a human vegetable that is now a residual trace of a wonderfully normal little girl because I pushed her to her claustrophobic capacity? Or is my child just this naughty? AAHHHHHH!

Once we landed we rushed to deboard, racing other passengers who at this point were also scrambling for their lives to get off. The poor men next to me. While trying to be polite, I'm sure they were anxious to get off and tell their fellow mates about the screaming little brat who made their ride the most miserable flight experience yet. I know there were a mixture of moms aboard who took pity, some others who thought I should just give her a good beating, and others preparing speeches to their daughters about why they shouldn't have children young, because they had just witnessed one young mother incapable of handling anything.

We were first off the plane, but had to humiliatingly wait while an attendant brought our stroller to us. I got to confront every passenger who looked at me and my red faced child, now beaming and pointing happily to other "aaippann" (airplanes). My worries about a claustrophobic melt down fluttered away as she smiled and laughed. I'm sure Lily and I single handedly solved at least two passengers' internal dilemmas of whether or not to utilize permanent birth control, as they stomped out on their cell phones making an appointment to hurriedly be nuetered. Trying to hold back a torrent of tears at this point, I blubbered as many apologies as possible to many graceful passengers, one grandmother of which insisted I take her straight to a doctor for her ears, to which insisted back that not only would a doctor be consulted (for her), but a team of qualified therapists as well (for me). Two people asked politely if I needed any help, and I responded that unless they had any powerful, illegal narcotics to spare at this point I could handle the situation. Haah, handle the situation.

After missing Tyler for a week, my visions of a beautiful airport scene running to him with our little girl for passionate kisses and hugs amounted to handing Lily immediately to him while I tried to stop shaking and not cry.

But... we are home. We are home. Hallelujah we are home! By the time we reached the car I couldn't help but return to loving adoration as I watched her kiss her daddy and fall soundly and happily asleep. Wow, motherhood. It does, at times, make you appreciate the days of old: reading a magazine and complaining about "other" people's children while riding an airplane.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lily

It has been so long since I’ve written! Each time I would try to sit and compose some post worthy thought a screeching radar in my mind tuned in like an emergency broadcast system:
“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR......We interrupt your pitiful attempt to muster something worth saying to remind you that you still have nothing of consequence, or interest, to share.......”

How am I ever going to be a regularly featured columnist in O Magazine unless I can consistently say something- anything!???
I won’t even attempt to flatter myself with the self proclaimed title of aspiring “writer” or “journalist” or “columnist” really. My grammar is poor, my thoughts mediocre, and even at best- my writing is simply an extremely self indulgent method of speaking on and on without being interrupted.

With that being said, there is one subject of whom I can always find something worth writing about, and to all readers she will always be worth reading about: Lily Tyler Haack

Oh universe, if only I could search your nooks and crannies for words fitting enough for my little girl! I do her no justice when I try to speak, write, sing, or even interpretively dance about her (Okay, okay...I don’t really interpretively dance). Still, I have to try because my feelings inside for her are at constant risk of severe nuclear explosion if I don’t let off some steam, somewhere. Either that or Lily will accidentally be eaten by her mother in an overwhelming display of pure cuteness.

I think back to the day I took that pregnancy test in our old condo’s bathroom, now just over two years ago. Thrilled to my fingertips and jumping with excitement, it is funny that even at that moment with all our anticipation, Tyler and I still had NO CLUE the all encompassing joy and meaning that was suddenly in the works.

Just two years ago, my life was very neat and tidy. My hair looked fabulous. I wore heels everyday, whether to work or play. Tyler and I could afford sushi- in fact we were the weekly basis goo goo gaa gaa feed each other with chopsticks sort of sushi snobs. We slept in every weekend. I even slept in darling little lingerie get ups, with no stretch marks where my thighs met my buttocks. And we were happy.

Now, my hair frequently is pulled back with Spaggettio remnants laced throughout. I adore flats. Tyler and I eat sushi in between pregnancies and bonus checks, and when we do go out to eat instead of feeding each other in our goo goo gaa gaa fashion, food is flung at us (and anyone within a two mile proximity) from our goo goo gaa gaa girly. We are positively sleep deprived, and quibble over whose turn it is to sleep that extra hour on an occasional weekend. We sleep in a giant V shape, with our feet touching and heads tilting off opposite sides of the bed and Lily very comfortably sprawled between. Our toes therefore get to make an incessant amount of love, sometimes the only representatives of our still steaming hot feelings for each other.

We read stories, go to the park, and eat ice cream cones. We love “Buwiids” (Birds) and dancing to the Wiggles. Our cupboards are full of sippy cups and binkies. Our backyard has the most luxurious form of blow up pool fun and our grass is speckled with Lily Lu toys. We wake up to big kisses and hugs and loves from a beaming toddler -with matted hair and a pee pee diaper- and fruit oatmeal preparing for its regular morning application all over the walls. And we are happy, enormously happy. Happier than happy.

Why? You might ask. How could a return to juvenile monotony with bedtimes and cartoons and whole milk be so fulfilling? Especially in comparison to personal free time, undisturbed sleep, and sushi sushi sushi!!????

My answer would be: I have NO idea. It just is. And that is the best part about it. The miracle and mystery of your capacity to love a person you’ve created is just that: a miracle and a mystery.

The other day Tyler came out of our bedroom after getting Lily to sleep. He said, “Ohhh, I was just in heaven. Lily was laying there with me and cupped my face with both of her hands and leaned in so close that she was touching my nose and just began smiling whispering in her baby gibberish ‘Heeee beez beez beez weezy wee’, it was so great I didn’t want it to end!” Lily makes him more giddy than I could ever hope too. That’s okay though, she’s the only other female allowed to share his affection.

A few nights ago, upon discovering we were out of Lily’s precious whole milk supply, I packed her in car and headed quickly to the nearest 7 Eleven. Pulling up, there was a plethora of Reno’s finest late night life gambling addicted souls (Any Reno native understands who I’m talking about here. The kind of people that spend their time at gas stations, gambling all night...). In a moment of obnoxiously self righteous indignation, I mumbled to myself, “What is this, loser hangout central?”
This mumbling was interrupted by a high pitched little squeal of “HHHIiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!” as I turned back to witness my little golden curly haired girl waving her pudgy hand excitedly at a man who possibly holds the Guinness world record for the highest level of ink injection humanly tolerable (translation: very very tattooed).



As he smiled genuinely and waved back I shamefully reflected on my beautifully innocent and very non-judgmental daughter beaming in the back seat. Even as the hardened adult man that he appeared, his eyes shone through the same vulnerable appreciation in being shown affection and care and attention.

Just as Tyler didn’t want one of his very special moments to end with her, I savor this time of indelible sweetness and innocent trust. Sooner than later, cynicism and doubt and mistrust will settle into to those pudgy little hands and itty bitty nails as she waves less and less to humankind. Sometimes, it will be cynicism and mistrust taught to her by her own mother, who ironically treasures this time of smiling and undiscriminating perfection. One day, it will be me who will teach her she is not like the Mr. Tatty-too with his twelve pack and sunken eyes, and we most certainly don’t date men who hang out at Seven Elevens in the wee hours. It will be me that will try to surround her with people that I think will help her, therefore removing her from those that don’t. Slowly, from myself as well as peers and family and every human crossing through her life, she will learn the good and the bad. And that is so sad. But for now, as long as she is in the protection of my arms I pleasure in her perfectly unstained interaction with others.
Maybe that is why anyone with a relatively healthy emotional I.Q. can’t resist the smile of a chubby toddler. It isn’t just the round eyes and toothless grin that draws you in, it is the reminder that there are really perfect little people in our presence. They are like the breath of freshest air in a world of sometimes putridly stagnant humanity. They redeem us, they are our next chance at something better. Clean little wonderful slates with chubby bellies and knobby knees.


We were once them too. I was. Mr. coked out Tatty-too was. The only difference lies in the fact that somebody might have failed Mr. Tatty-too along his path- maybe he trusted things that weren’t to be trusted. I might not have his sunken eyes but I have a disgraceful level of judgment to be doled out in Seven Eleven parking lots. Nonetheless, he was once perfect and trusting and beautiful, as was I, and Lily reminds us of that of that now distant fact.

I am in the presence of perfection everyday. It comes in the form of a toddling diapered lady swishing through my house, dumping goldfish on the carpet, smiling at complete strangers, and singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I live for her kisses and hugs. Maybe that is why this whole parenthood thing feels so good. I live for her happiness, because she is the truest definition of mine!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Stay tuned....Good stuff ahead

Please check back shortly....

I absolutely REFUSE to write another post without smothering it in pictures of Lily Lu. This whole thing is supposed to be about her anyways- and my camera is broken!!! The world is missing out on the cutest little 18 month old chubby cheeked sassy frass to ever walk planet earth....

I'm getting it fixed within a day or so...or buying a new one. Until then, I am just bursting at the seams with the mindless ramblings of a 23 mother swimming,floating,at times drowning, and positively bursting through this wonderful life.....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Did you know?

Childhood memories, for any of us, are often full of people and memories that are sometimes evoked through tiny little nothings, or what would seem nothings to anyone else….but are very much something to us because of what they represent.

For example:

Driving home this weekend from San Francisco, I was insistent on stopping at the nearest fresh fruit stand, something that will always and forever remind me of Grandma Amaro, who used to show up in Reno with crates and crates of peaches, tomatoes, and cantelope that nobody liked or wished to eat. Did she know that this would forever ingrain in her little granddaughter a love of fresh produce, bell peppers, and tomatoes that now frequently fill my dinner fajitas? Did she know that although my mother was understandably frustrated by her constant ability to show up unannounced from Sacramento ready for a few overnight stays, there were a handful of toe headed heathen children excited at the prospect of a new tub of licorice and extra attention?

My Papa Dan, a jolly, horse riding eccentric character of a grandpa from all of my memories, will always return to my heart when the apples on the farm trees come into season, or whenever I smell Albertson’s fried chicken. Did he know how much we loved his frequent visits to the farm with all of his Big Red chewing gum? Did he know how fun it was to visit Scott Roofing and run into his office where he would proceed to tickle us and give us Fuji kisses?

This Father’s Day I want to tell my Dad of the things I hope he’ll know about us, his children…or about me especially….that I don’t wish to someday be reminiscing on when he is gone. I’d rather tell you now, Dad…all the things I hope you know:

Did you know that I was always convinced I was the prettiest girl during my elementary school years…and my middle school years….okay, okay AND my high school years because you always told me so? Looking back on giant, hair spray matted bangs and crooked teeth, later followed by monstrous braces should have led any girl to settle with the reality that a cocker spaniel had more appeal, and yet I was blindingly unaware because the most important man in my life was convinced it didn’t get better than me. When arriving home with the latest class picture, you would scan over everyone and say, “Very nice, you’re the prettiest though.”

Did you know that I love Nevada? I love the “sage and the pine” of the song I used to sing as a child. I love the lizards and the horny toads, when examined from a distance. I love arrowheads. I love Indian paintbrush. I love the peaceful quiet that settles after hiking far away from home and sitting on a rock overlooking the valley where our little farm is. I love it because you always loved it. I love it because you taught me to love it by always pointing out all the various and ever so interesting botany of the ironically barren deserts. We may have rolled our eyes when you constantly pointed out this and that shrub, but we couldn’t escape the respect that was slowing creeping in and taking over for our Nevada.

Did you know that anytime a political discussion arises in a class or personal discussion, I always wonder what my Dad would think, and am anxious to get your opinion? Did you know that 9 out of 10 times after speaking to you I would then return to this class or personal discussion and repeat verbatim what you had told me and claim it as my own wisdom?

Did you know that hamburger and rice/or potatoes with brown gravy will always make me think of you? And homemade French fries and greasy breakfasts- courtesy of Dad (especially when mom had just had a baby).

Did you know we all love your high pitched laugh, kind of girly sounding and excessively contagious- coming from such a rugged trapper?

Did you know I will always remember the fine, soft feeling of your hair (before you shaved what was left completely off) when Sarah and I would get a cup of water and comb and tell you to lay down because we were going to “do your hair”, something you always acquiesced to as we would tie pony tails and stick your hair straight up while giggling like the 9 and 5 year olds we were? I can see you now lying surrounded by these squealing little girls, with potatoe chips (without the napkin) sitting in a pile on your chest, intently reading a fascinating book on the original roads of Nevada in the year 1867.

Did you know that my image of you growing up will always be of Cabela's lace up brown leather boots, a Slakey Brother's hat, and dirty jeans as you would arrive home in the big white plumbing van. The van that used to drive us to school as the pipes would cling to the point of deafness as we rode with the man who spent so much time dirtying those jeans and installing those pipes to provide us with education and bikes and barbie dolls and cupcakes....cupcakes for my kindergarten birthday party that were tragically thrown toward the windshield and ruined when he braked too hard at a stop sign.

Did you know that your approval was always the thing that seemed to matter the most to me? From all outward appearances, it may seem that I scoff at your beaver hat wearing, bob cat urine/bait trapping lifestyle, your secluded love of curling up with a book and sunflower seeds, your complete disregard for social status or money and even at times social grace, but secretly I often think you are right and if anything: an admirable example of being true blue- through and through. You always reminded me that having Larissa was much better than driving a new car, the government is not responsible for ruling our lives, I better speak respectfully to my mother, and you never cheat in business- even if you can get away with it and make it seem like you're not cheating.

Did you know that your praise, although sometimes few and far between because you aren’t the “mushy” type, has meant more to me and stuck with me more than anyone else’s? Even the praise that has traveled and arrived at our ears through Mom’s sly delivery…when she says, “Did you know the other day your Dad said this about you…?” Your kids may smile and toss their head, but the self esteem barometer shoots about two miles upwards and your words deposit into their Who- I -Am book forever.

Did you know that you actually ARE the “mushy” type? In fact, with older eyes, I now see more frequently the instances of your pure mushdom as you play with my Lily, get upset over your children leaving the house, write Jacob letters, and frequently invite us to come by the house for dinner or to hang out. Or as you phrase it, “Why don’t you come by the house and steal all of our food like you always do?” or "Hey, Mallory and Larissa are home, you and Lily should stop by..." I know you really mean, “I like it when you are here.” You don’t have me fooled. I also know this whole post will probably embarrass you with all its sticky sentiment, and that you probably won't mention it until Mom insists, "Ira Hansen! You better say something to your daughter!" But that's okay, I know you like me. I know you love me. You are both complex and so easy to read sometimes...and although you've never been the fully expressive "I love you I love you I love you" Dad, your actions have always spoken blaringly louder than your words.

Did you know I love you? And not just the forever I am bonded to you through blood and therefore must love you kind of love. It's the self chosen kind after years and years of observation and interaction. I love you Dad, and I really hope you know that above all.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pregnant=Crazy

Tyler said to me the other day,


Ty: "Rae, why don't we start working on the closests this weekend?" (We are California closeting the house- ourselves-we can't afford the California part)


Me: "Naaah, I prefer to wait until my nesting phase to do that."


Later.....


Ty: "Rae, why don't we get the office set up as a playroom this weekend?"


Me: "Naah, I prefer to wait until my nesting phase to do that."


Even more later, after viewing the Mount Everest pile of clean laundry covering our bedroom floor.....


Ty: "Rae, lets fold the laundry together tonight, I'll even watch Anne of Green Gables with you."


Me: "Naaah, I'm waiting till my nesting phase to do that."


Ty: "Rae, we can't wait until October to do the laundry."


Me: "Why do you have to be so insensitive?"






Sunday, June 3, 2007

May

It is June. I realize this, but there is so much about the month of May that I missed discussing and I can’t pass up the urge to elaborate on dear “Mother May”. I have coined it as such because Mother’s Day is in May, my mother’s birthday is also in May, I am a mother –and boy am I ever feeling like one- in May, and I think about all mothers in May.

Mother Mother Mother Mother May.

Reflecting on this meaningful month, I had time while lying on the couch for what seems like the last decade to ponder the life lessons of the greatest teacher I have ever known.
I have decided to share a few of this teacher’s pearls of wisdom acquired over my lifetime. If you are under the age of eighteen I strongly advise you to click the little red X button in your top right hand screen: as the female anatomy may unfortunately be mentioned.

Enjoy the 5 Life 101 lessons provided courtesy of Alexis Margaret Ann Lloyd Hansen, my mother:

1. It’s called “Having a sense of propriety.”
Arriving home at the end of a long day, I would frequently plop myself on the nearest sofa, and lift one leg over the high sofa arm while watching the tube. My mother would enter the room, and upon viewing the 15 yard distance between my feet as I relaxed, would say,
“Rachel, please sit properly.”
“Why? I’m comfortable like this…”
“It’s called having a sense of propriety.”

When displeased with the latest whateverwasgoingoninmylife I would say, “This is a bunch of crap. I’m pissed.”
“Rachel, we don’t say crap or pissed.”
“I don’t care what we say! What’s the big deal?”
“It’s called having a sense of propriety.”

At the current social gathering we attended, my mother would always insist we immediately go and politely either introduce ourselves or greet the main hostess/host, or even more uncomfortable: befriend the awkward toothless person in the corner standing alone.
“Rachel, go say hello to Sally Suzie.”
“No, I feel dumb. I don’t know what to say!”
“I don’t care, you’re a bright and beautiful girl, just say hello. It’s called having a sense of propriety.”

Recently, I stood in line at the grocery store and was silently enraged at the mistreatment of a store clerk. The perpetrator of this crime hadn’t committed a truly heinous felony, rather she simply didn’t acknowledge the kind clerk’s presence, nor did she say thank you when finished. I’m not sure if the store clerk even cared, however I thanked him sincerely while checking out. Did it make a big difference? No. It’s called having a sense of propriety.


2. Cool is an attitude.

This was one of my mother’s key phrases as we would pull up to our private school in our beige 1985 Jeep Wagoneer with faux wood paneling and missing side window. We weren’t exactly your average private school children arriving in Lexus SUVs. Mom and Dad valued education for us more than a nice vehicle, and since both weren’t an option as we would pull into the school parking lot, my mother would bend down and find us ducking down on the car floor, hiding/hoping/praying not to be recognized. She would firmly proclaim that “Cool is an attitude you guys, not the car you drive!”
Pregnant and cheerful, she would pull away with the two babies in the car seats, after dropping off three children at school, to return home 25 miles away and onto the muddy 3 mile dirt road that led to our house. Nobody was/is/ever will be cooler than my mom.

3. “A vagina is a vagina is a vagina!!!”

These were the words that pierced through the night air of our hotel room in Las Vegas, where my 17 year old self and 4 other cheer-leading friends lie in bed during a cheer competition trip.
“After all girls, a vagina is just a vagina is just a vagina!”
I pulled myself deeper under the covers as I closed my eyes and prayed “God, if this is my time to go, I am okay with it. I have lived and heard all I ever need to hear again. Let me die now. I beg of you.”
This phrase was the culmination of a long tirade provoked from a very amusing tour down the strip. After confronting every pornography vendor on the street trying to pass out inappropriate flyers and giving them a piece of her mind, her concerns later turned to us impressionable, young girls. She, along with every other human with an ounce of moral clarity, could never understand the degradation and exploitation and fascination with the female anatomy.
The discussion on female virtue that night is one that I’m sure none of us will ever forget, and yet with all of its horrifyingly naked wisdom, each of us appreciated my mother’s attempt to “get real.”
And mom, thanks to that conversation, I am confident in attributing those wonderful words to what has kept us all off of the pole. After all, as you said, if you’re not going to value yourself as a woman - and as the soul of infinite worth that you are - then you really can be just another hopelessly ordinary vagina masked in a diamond thong atop bar counters.

4. Make-do

My mom grew up in a trailer park with her single mother who did best to make ends meet. Although she only had dirt for a front yard, she laughingly remembers that she still raked it. Raked dirt is better than ordinary dirt. Growing up, trying to raise 8 children on a single income had its trials. But I never would have known it. Our couch was handed down from Grandparents, the carpet in our basement was bright orange, and my mother didn’t buy herself lots of new clothes. But our couch always had cute throw pillows to accessorize its mustard yellow tweed, our orange carpet was always clean, and my mom always looked pretty. Even when much better financial times came, we still have to remind my mom that it is time for new pots and pans. She is improving with time, but is a forever reminder that there is nothing shameful in making-do with what you have- it is simply an extension of your gratitude for what life has already provided you with.

5. I’m your Mom first, but I’m your friend too.

This is the battle every parent confronts. Should I be the cool/friend parent, or the real parent? We have all witnessed the mother with the same bikini top on with shorts as her 16 year-old daughter. Not okay. We have witnessed the father who laughingly uses the same vulgar language as his pubescent and obnoxious 15 year-old son. Not okay.
We have also witnessed the mother so strict and unapproachable that her now adult daughter has cut all relations due to her awful memories of childhood. Is there a middle ground?
My Mom was always quick to remind me, no matter how shamefully I had behaved, that she still thought I was pretty great. A groundation period would always eventually return to lunch and movie dates together. Shopping for appropriate clothes was sometimes tense, but she still took me shopping. During particularly strained teen/parent times, we still could laugh at jokes and silly situations together. She retained her ability to scold, but never made me feel like she wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. After emerging from the teen years, this relationship has developed into much more of a friendship, the best friendship I have.


In summary, there simply is no summary of the pearls of wisdom from Ms. Alexis. I hope you feel enlightened. For every mother and daughter and friend, just remember: you can be as cool as you want to be when you’re living in a trailer park making due with avocado wallpaper as long as you sit properly and say thank you and never treat yourself as if you were just another ordinary vagina.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bragging

Okay, I lied. I'm revisiting the blogging world earlier than anticipated. But I just couldn't help sharing and bragging about this last weekend....Tyler's Graduation!!!!!

Despite what you all may assume, he did not graduate the Paul Mitchell school of incredibly handsome male hotties looking dashing in black. You're looking at a bona fide Civil Engineer. Woo hoo!! Even sexier. If you look reaaaally reaaallly close you can see the tossed panties of all the other civil engineer groupies I had to fend off.



Not only good looks but brains too! I am even more gushingly proud to announce that his G.P.A. was 3.6 this semester...not bad for taking eighteen credits while never working LESS than 30 hours a week and arriving home to cheerfully rub his pregnant wife's feet. How did I get so lucky? I'll let you in on a little secret: (see below)
It's the calves. It's all about the calves. No man can resist blindingly white calves streaked with a hint of cellulite. (And no, I'm not the cute one sitting next to the fat calf girl with the pudgy pregnant arms)

Afterwards Nonna (Tyler's Mom) hosted an awesome graduation party. Above you see the entertainment arrive. Auntie Sarah kept her until after the ceremony.

The gorgeous little karaoke starlet entertained the crowd with a soulful rendition of " BBAAAAAAAA AAAAAA BA BAAAAAAAAAA." We were so lucky to have booked her early. She doesn't normally make such appearances for the average middle class graduation party.

A starlet who displayed her mother's Hollywood-esque sense of poise and control when sampling the cake. "HHHmmmm, this looks nice. Too many calories. I'll just poke it."

"Okay, maybe one bite."

"There. Deliciously satisfying. Wait, is anyone looking?!! Quick! Flash a charming smile and nobody will notice....."

"This.........mmmmm."

"Or this.........mmmmm.""MMMMMMMMMM."

"Cake? Oh no thank you, I already had one bite and I'm great."

Good girl Lily. You'll soon have enough calf cellulite to attract any Civil Engineering Stallion you desire.

I love you Tyler!!! I love you Lily! I am too lucky!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hiatus

I have not written for a while, nor do I intend to for the next couple weeks.

Please, wipe your tears, my friends, as I shall return.

Right now, I am wallowing too deep in the depths of pregnancy despair to focus on much else. Good news though!: After a trip to the emergency room Tuesday night due to incessant vomiting and nausea that caused dehydration....I have medication!!! Drugs! Glorious, Dr. Approved Drugs!!!! You know it is serious when you look forward to a trip to the ER with the same anticipation as Disneyland.
I was diagnosed with Hypermesis Gravidadum, or whatever, which roughly translates to "Vehicle transport to the outer edge of sanity and physical exhaustion resulting in a serious lack of desire to ever have children, or sex, again." I'm beginning to look at my husband the same way I would look at a delicious meal laden with Anthrax.

Just kidding, I am not defeated...yet. I am happily in a state of recovery.

Hopefully, just a few more weeks and my mental sanity will return and I will be able to talk about something other than poor poor, whiney me.

I did however appear as a guest columnist for my Dad's weekly column on Mother's Day in our newspaper, my first real writing job....thanks Dad!!! I bet you can't guess what the topic is, I'm extremely unpredictable. I had approximately one hour to write it, as my mother didn't ask me until shortly before the deadline. Please forgive my amateur writing skills. You can check it out at http://www.sparkstribune.net/columns-irahansen.shtml.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Lily Lily Lu, How I Luv U


I ate ELEVEN Jack in the Box 2 for $.99 tacos in one day. I haven't washed my hair in two days. I believe this is the fifth day IN A ROW that I have plunked myself out of bed nauseously and threw on the nearest sweats.

Ahhhhh, pregnancy.


I vomit, my face breaks out, I am incredibly irrational, grumpy, emotional, irritable, hideous, bloated, and uncomfortable ( I didn't even use the synonym option for those words). I think all day of something I can possibly stomach eating and come up with one thing that will work for the day. Hence the reason I had eleven Jack in the Box tacos throughout the day, for a total of 3 TIMES THROUGH THE SAME DRIVE-THRU. Before any thing enters my mouth I have no choice but to contemplate its return through the same mode of entry later on.


Why is it that I seem to be a perpetual magnet for the stories of women who simply "looved being pregnant"? "Oh really," I think, "Isn't that just peaches and cream, I'm so haaaapppy for you. I'm thrilled that the 87 mile long list of complaints I just mumbled falls on empathetic and utterly ignorant ears. We should really chat again about our pregnancies sometime. "

Just kidding. Bitter at times, but totally kidding.

I tell myself that I need to be grateful for this. And while at times I have difficulties in listening to my own self lectures, I do realize that I have a wonderful baby on the way, I have the ability to get pregnant. I know women that would give their right arm to throw up and cry for 9 months straight to experience the miracle. Hence, the guilt. Guilt over feeling pity for myself during this time.

This is not a pity post though, you may be surprised.
Enough of me!!!
I have found it is so much easier if you focus on the result instead of the process (although the very very beginning of the process....was pretty fun...wink! wink! Luv ya Tyler Stallion...uh, I mean Tyler dear).



Below is the proof of my husband & I's pudding making skills.



Just look at that face. Those little lips. Those scheming little eyes...

As Mommy says, "Lily, No No touch the candles." So obedient.


Just look at that naked little sense of self. (Note: our grass is not normally like this)



Have you ever seen such a cute nudie solo marching band running through the pool? I didn't think so.

Take note of the wild sense of adventure and confidence...trecking to the wild wilderness of the very back yard.

Ahhhh! Those cheeks! Love...bite...squeeze.... those cheeks!
Best of all, she loves and comforts her Mama and even fake "puky's" right on beside me.
Lily Lu, I don't deserve you. Even at my sickest, saddest, most irritable moments, you are a gift beyond a pregnant whiner's wildest expectations. Thank you for helping Mommy constantly remember how lucky she is.




Sunday, April 22, 2007

French Fry Friends....

This weekend I was SUPPOSED to be in Seattle. Tyler and I had decided to take a trip there to confirm whether or not Seattle Grace Hospital (from our favorite TV drama series Grey’s Anatomy) exists.

Just kidding, it was to go visit my dear friend, Ms. Shinae. However, upon discovering a while ago that I was pregnant and realizing that a strong possibility of the big fat barfs may strike at any time, I had no choice but to cancel the night before we were scheduled to leave. The fatigue freight train arrived for pickup and I’m afraid I had no choice but to board and say adios to my little weekend getaway with my best friend.
I proceeded to sulk and feel sorry for myself for the first three or so minutes after announcing to Shinae via telephone that the trip was nixed. The sulking didn’t last long as my darling baby girl toddled into the room and snuggled with me. Okay, maybe a trip to Seattle isn’t THAT important. “This is worth it, this is worth it, this is worth it,” I tell myself. Luckily with Lily here, this time around I have physical evidence that a case of the barfs and excessive fatigue are indeed worth it.



Tyler and I went to see a movie the next night. I had been laying in bed all day long and was suffering from mild cabin fever. After the movie, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a pregnant woman’s daily vitamin supplement, ice cream. I DID choose to exercise self restraint, and after ordering a hot fudge sundae I decided to opt for the SMALL fry with ranch dressing, instead of the LARGE.
While driving and eating, I mentioned a story about Shinae and I, rather out of the blue. Tyler said, “What made you think of that?”
I replied, “My French fries and ranch dressing.” I dipped another crusty, warm and flaky fry into the creamy ranch concoction, trying suddenly to hold back tears.
You see, Shinae is my french fries and ranch dressing friend. Seldom do I crawl through a drive-thru and order this delightful combination that I don’t think of, and often miss her.

Shinae and I met in high school, and it is safe to say we have been best friends since around 15 years old. We even have the yearbook entries of a pure, substantial and undeniable friendship foundation to prove it :

“Oh my gosh, I like totally LUUUV U, girlfriend!
You and (fill in the blank) are SUUUUCH a cute couple!
So much cuter than ____ and _____.
Whatever!
We are totally BFF 4 EVER. Call me, k? Luv ya!!”

Our friendship grew strong as the years of high school went by. On late weekend nights, we frequently would stop at any local drive thru and order our tried and true fave, french fries and ranch dressing. Being completely and sadly OBSESSED with our physical appearances as well made for an even deeper bond, seeing that we were both being “bad” together. We agreed that you simply had to have a balanced diet: if you’re going to have something sweet like a McFlurry you MUST balance it with salty fries and ranch dressing.

It was on these late late nights, over fries and ranch dressing that we got to know the real Rachel and the real Shinae. Luckily, we actually LIKED the real each others and these late nights continued, and still continue to this day. Shinae is my ultra posh, cool as a cucumber buddy with amazing hair and cool bangle jewelry. She reminds me of when I need to wear tighter jeans, and when I am overreacting to the latest silly issue. I would like to think that I excel in reminding her when to give this/that guy a chance, or how to bake. We are very different, but we are from the same tribe. Together, we think we are simply brilliant. As long as Shinae thinks that what I say or do is fine, then I think I must be right- everything is okay because my french fry and ranch dressing friend told me so.


During my wedding, right before I was to descend down to the beautiful beach to marry the love of my life, Shinae had left me a card. In it, she wrote something that has always meant so much to me. She said, “You have shown you can do it all, and do it well.” Although nothing could really be further from the truth, hearing those words from my friend before I was about to be married before many, many rather skeptical people that questioned the fact that Ty and I were so young and still college students, meant that I must be doing the right thing. After all, my french fries and ranch dressing friend told me so.

Together, we have been through high school, cheerleading, frequent groundation periods (sentenced normally to me from my parents), boyfriends, road trips, college applications, college acceptances, Utah, California, graduation, leaving home, BYU, Chapman University, London, France, Scotland, Australia, Korea, a marriage, a baby, Prague, Italy, Germany, houses, apartments, new friends, college graduation (Shinae’s- yay Shinae!), and now Seattle. And while we weren’t necessarily experiencing all of the above WITH each other physically, it was always through spirit and via telephone/email/or whatever means necessary. Hopefully- it always will be that way. We have laughed, cried, talked, yelled, gossiped, and eaten french fries through every step of our wonderful lives' journeys.

Recently, it has been difficult to make time to visit each other. With a husband, baby and new baby on the way, it is obviously hard to hop a plane and visit Shinae with her new job, city, and ever exciting little life events- and same vice versa. Seattle is the next stop for our Rachel/Shinae life adventure journey…and Shinae dear, I will make it there.

And yes, we will enjoy French fries and ranch dressing once again, and talk and solve all of the world’s problems until 3 am.

To all of you girls out there in the cyber and real world- I wish for you all a french fries and ranch dressing sort of friend like my Shinae. Actually, make that a double double cheeseburger, animal style, with a strawberry milkshake and extra LARGE french fries with ranch dressing kind of friend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Unduly

It's official. I am floating .0623124 centimeters above personal rock bottom.

Although it must be said, spiritually and emotionally I remain soaring through the clouds. We found out, and excitedly announce to all of the cyber world: my second little wonder of the world is in the works. Yes, I am pregnant!

Enough of that la la schmaa beautiful news, lest you think this is a pleasant post. We're talking about my physical and mental status. My topic of discussion today is my personal "cool" factor, or complete lack thereof. Actually, calling it a disussion would imply that there is some sort of exchange of witty banter occurring in my blogging adventures, however since NO SINGLE PERSON bothers to post a comment, I must assume this is a between Ms. Rachel and her bosom friend: Ms. Rachel. Thanks a lot. Don't worry, I'm not bitter....Sarah, and Daniel, and my mother, and my grandmother, and my friends, or my imaginary friends......

What brings such self loathing today? Let me explain:

I woke up feeling painfully fatigued. I want to sleep for the next ten years while my body gets to work on my new little buns of joy, that unforunately will make his/her grand debut from buns of increased cellulite, stretch marks, and water retension. (Graphic! My apologies....)

During this fatigue, I have lost all desire to get dressed properly, apply any sort of makeup, or assemble a somewhat appropriate outfit. I arrive places with embarrassingly baggy jeans, flip flops, an old tee shirt, and an extremely darling, rather expensive, black fancy coat with fur trim from BeBe that was never intended whatsoever to be coupled with baggy jeans, flip flops, and an old tee shirt. Even my adoring husband looked at me across the table from lunch yesterday at Applebees and said, "Oh sweetie, you look so frizzy." What's that supposed to mean?

I logged on today to read one of my blogging inspiration Emily's posts. I have only met her once years ago through another friend. However, this friend later emailed me a link to her adorable blog site. She is intelligent and just about as cute as can be. Even more cool...she showcases her goods looks AND brains by using incredible terms such as unduly as she narrates dear little instances of motherhood with her son Henry. I am simply pea green with envy!

I at once openly confess that I am eager utilizer of the synonym option as you right click your word while typing in Microsoft programs. It is the mask I hide behind to fool people into thinking my vocabulary is wide as the ocean blue. ( I actually came up with that analogy myself...hence the reason it sounds stupid). As I read through Emily's positively radiant ramblings, I can't help but notice how she so flippantly used a word as wonderful as unduly. I don't know why, but whenever I stumble upon big and insightful words my brain replies, "Oops, that's a little too much for you to process and retain, you won't be needing that....Discard!"
When composing an essay in English class, if I used a smashingly brilliant word such as convey or portray I considered it A+, Pulitzer prize material and was always insulted to inevitably learn otherwise.

Emily, I also see that you have ELEVEN responses to your latest post. Congratulations, everyone else seems to relish your use of the word unduly as much as I, or me, or whatever the proper pronoun is/was/will be.

After reading and feeling warm, fuzzy, and pea green from these posts, I went into the bathroom to inspect the latest fungi on my face (pregnancy/hormone induced acne). As I smiled while thinking about my future posterity, I also noticed the yellow scalloped potatoe remnants from my mother's dinner last night (Yes, too lazy to cook and sick of Burger King, thanks Mom). The smile faded slowly as I stepped on the scale and realized the number has increased by 3 pounds. I have only been pregnant for approx. 76 minutes or so, how did I already gain 3 pounds? Alas, if it's anything like my last pregnancy...I still have an approx. 42 pounds to go. I looked down at my toes, and half heartedly consoled myself by thinking that at least those were still visible. Caked with old polish, chipped, and grotesquely long...but still visible.

I pulled away, looked myself squarely and sharply in the eye through our all too giant and honest mirror and said, "Enough! This is ridiculous! I hold these truths to be self evident: That all mothers to be do not need to look like you! Mother is NOT synonymous with ugly barfus looking hag! You do not need to sacrifice yourself to this fatigue, nor are you defeated! Stand tall like the hot 23 something year old you should be and pull yourself together!"

Immediately, the white flag of surrender was replaced with the blaring gun shots of my bubble bath dispenser dropping like bombs into the steamy bathtub.
I immersed myself, and victoriously emerged a cleaner- fresher mother.

Since, I have applied my slightly self tanning tinged Dove body lotion, added a splash of perfume, and coated my sparkling clean fungi with Mary Kay night solution and moisturizer- after finally brushing my teeth.

I even added a coat of fresh and clear polish to my nails. I will finish my toes this evening.

Already, I am feeling, oh...what's the word? Unduly optimistic of my future as a hot mom.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Lily


LILY HAS ATTENDED HER FIRST EVER WEE READ STORYTIME!! (Story time for children 2 and under. So cute) It marks her grand entrance into the world of imagination, literature, and pure fun! Hoooray!
Slight problem: She was unbelievably, incredibly...ooohhh, what's the word? Rambunctious? Entertaining? Sassy? Naahhh....I think the word I'm trying desperately to avoid here is naughty.

I am that parent with that child (in the large group of other 20 other mothers and children), a child who could be dubbed out of control! Instead of staying close to me in a group of strangers, she roamed in and out of the circle...talking, kissing, petting, and taking toys and sippy cups from other children. (We're working on the whole sibling thing. That'll teach her the day she tries to steal their cup and has finally met her match as she gets a big shove/kick/hit or whatever will send them both to time out). She also was the only child brave enough to run to the center of the giant circle and begin yelling at the top of her lungs while the sweet librarian tried to read through a 2 page picture book. I laughingly and embarrassingly apologized to the crowd about 15.5 times during the 20 minute session. She did entertain them, though. She would run to the center of the circle, smiling at them while motioning them to please clap for her. ( which they did...thank you crowd).
You must understand, and so must the rest of the universe: Lily is very accustomed to applause. In her usual fan club (our large adoring family), Lily is applauded for anything... say, each time she breathes in and each time she breathes out.
I even got a few comments like, "My word! How old is she?" from surprised parents as she would blow kisses to individuals, and do all the motions while singing along to the song the librarian was leading. I would respond simply, "She is...a genius. Oh! I mean, sorry, 15 months old."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Montenegro

This past week I caught a glimpse of heaven, a slice of the pie of life, the beautiful diamond studded crown atop the head of the world’s most amazing scenery:

Montenegro! Montenegro!!!

It was amazing, it was beautiful, it was magical. It was suspenseful and sweet, seductive and relaxing. Ahhhhh, Montenegro.


Have I mentioned I wasn’t necessarily there? Rather, living it through the new, and surely timeless classic: 007: Casino Royale? Thank you Bond...James Bond.

I have never seen a Bond flick until this one. Call me crazy, but men in cars blowing up and chasing other men in cars with outrageous gadgets -that do anything from cure cancer to hurl you from the top of a skyscraper unharmed to prepare your double foam triple shot mocha latte chatte- strikes me as ridiculous and unappealing. However, upon the ensnaring and highly intriguing trailer, detailing Mr. Bond emerging from a clear blue sea while wearing tight, short shorts (like a real man), I was led to the difficult conclusion that maybe it was time to shed my biased, girlish movie interests and try something new.







And with that said, after viewing it, I must add Mr. Bond doesn’t even come close to my own hunka hunka of burnin’ luuuv. Ah Ladies….should you be so lucky to see him in those shorts.

While Tyler and I were watching the movie, I was in complete awe of the scenery. “Can you believe places like that exist? Why aren’t we there? Who on earth owns that one villa on the corner of the lake at the end of the movie, and why aren't we them?” These were the questions we were forced to ask each other in envy. The founding fathers/pilgrims/etc had it dead wrong. They crossed the wrong ocean, set up camp on the wrong campsite. Who cares about religious freedom….or freedom at all when you could be locked up for life in Montenegro?!!

I love scenery. I am someone you could say is on sensory overload at all times. As a matter of fact, I’m on feeling overload at all times. Call it an aesthetic sixth sense.

In fact, this sixth sense is probably what I would attribute my passion for interior design. Since I was little, I can remember always being keenly aware of my surroundings and the feelings these surroundings evoked. It’s why I'm obsessed with England, my wonderful England, with its lush green landscape and cozy cottages. It’s why the bright sun and vivid colors of Montenegro make my heart skip a beat. It’s why I will finish my degree in interior design, no matter how many babies veer into my path!!!

This strong curiosity and insatiable need to beautify my surroundings has its unattractive faults. Shamefully, I admit I have been prone to incorrectly linking moral, intellectual, emotional, and social intelligence levels to ones ability to pick the correct paint color. As I leave my doctor’s office after a diagnosis and prescription of antibiotics for the latest sinus infection, I am left wondering, “What the heck does he know? Did you see that hideous circa 1980 lavender gag me with a stick rose trim wallpaper border going on in the office waiting room?”
I apply these same ludicrous connections to my own home, thinking, “How can I possibly be a good mother to Lily if I continue to allow that oversized, inappropriately scaled piece of furniture to clutter her existence, even if we are offered it for free from family?” (Note: Aunt Nellie, I am NOT speaking of the wonderful lazy boy chair you gave us. It happens to be our favorite piece EVER. Thank you.) In addition, immediately upon arriving home I must adjust the lighting to the appropriate mood level. Two lamps on in the living room, full lighting in the kitchen and dining room accompanied by the scent of fresh grated ginger and garlic in my latest stir fry is what I consider the aesthetic jackpot. (Note: I am allowing you into the inner workings of a crazy wannabe designer’s mind, so I’d appreciate an open perspective here….I feel your condemnation.)

We must remember our surroundings affect our feelings. They either bring out something good, or something bad, or worse…nothing at all. This is a fact you are undoubtedly subject to whether you’re aware of it or not. Try to look back and remember that time you went to a friend’s house that slightly reminded you of urine and mildew. Remember the feeling in that house? The technical term for your physiological and emotional reaction would be: yucky. (I certainly hope it isn’t MY childhood home you’re thinking of…because we may have been a large Mormon family with a burn barrel outside, dead/trapped carcasses in the yard, and chickens, but we did NOT stink!)

Now envision the opposite experience, say at your Grandma’s house or some other friend. You walk into a home and feel serene. You want to stay. There is something in that house that is “homey”. (Like my Grandma Sharon, whose house has always smelled fresh as a magnolia flower. Sorry Grandma Amaro, yours would have to fall on the side of the faint smell of pee pee and big boobie body odor…but I still loved your cooking…and you, rest in peace)





I’m here to tell you there is a matter of fact, simple formula to such a feeling. About 50% of it is the well thought out, executed interiors. The other 50% is, naturally, the people inside.

Since we can’t change the people inside, we can at least beautify the surroundings in which they bother us. Today I am giving you Rachel Stewart’s 7 simple to do, quick and rather obvious ideas that are virtually cost free for your abode, whether it be a mansion, an apartment, or a cardboard box. And oh, what a beautiful box it could be. You might want to write these down. They could be worth a fortune someday, once I’m discovered by Oprah:


De-clutter
Get rid of anything you don’t need. Corners in the home are not designed for stacked paperwork, shoes, and piles of books. Countertops do not exist simply to be filled from end to end with appliances, dishes, and junk mail. The same goes for your walls. Quit hanging pictures in every open space on the wall. There are a million beautiful things in this world, but they all shouldn't fit in your home. Be selective, your eyes need to rest too. Clean your existence as you would clean your grimey teeth in the morning...the food may have been delicious and well presented, but it doesn't belong wedged everywhere in your teeth. The same goes for your home!


Add a lamp
Too often we are subject to the harsh lighting of a cheap landlord’s approval, or from the cheap homebuilder who built our home. This results in unwanted images of cellulite as you undress, and a general darker feeling in the house as a result of low and poorly distributed white wattage. Lamps are warmer, friendlier, and set an instantly better mood.



Just because it is your favorite color, doesn’t mean your living room should be drowned in it.
Add your favorite color in splashes, or on just one wall if it is a bold color. Engulfing an entire room in beach bum orange might seem great on an episode of Trading Spaces with the perfect hot camera lights, but will make you and visitors feel queasy after 5 minutes. Remember that neutrals may initially seem boring, but in my unexpert opinion, they soothe the soul.

Clean with scented disinfectants.
And please clean thoroughly.



Add a candle.
Cost can be as little as = $0.99. Gas to get to and from Target =$1.79. Candy bar to hold you over on the ride home= $0.89. A glowing and romantic mood to your home= Priceless.



Add a baby.
I did say that these were cost effective tips, so I must note that I recommend thought and a spouse before adding this to your home. And this is the one tip where cardboard boxes must count as an exclusion. Nothing will compare to the beauty that will fill your home, and better yet, you will forever have an excuse as to why your house reeks of urine and dried up bits of turkey deli meat. Oddly enough, people will look forward to returning to your house more and more.





7. If not a baby, something that represents life.
Floral arrangements (I’m not talking about the fake hot pink kind Grandma Amaro used to put outside in her yard during the winter months). It is okay if they aren’t real. But I think we all know what we’re talking about when we must decipher between fake and FAAAAKKKKE. Put anything you think is beautiful and inspiring in your home, and make them the focus of attention by not cluttering a million other little things around them.



Ignore anything and everything I say if you so choose. Sell everything you own and move to Montenegro.
After all, what do I know? Have you seen my pathetically homemade, dreadfully stitched throw pillows on our office futon?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Debbie Downer...


March 23rd, 2007


Have you ever come so close to the brink of utter and absolute exhaustion that it almost feels good? The kind of exhaustion that overwhelms when you collapse onto the couch or bed and your fingertips and toes begin to tingle with glee as they anticipate finally being able to just stop. No more squishy and hot interiors of the latest uncomfortably adorable Macys 50% off Steve Madden platforms, no more keypads to clinker and tinker on. It’s as if they’ve been screaming all day in sickened torture “Please leave us alone!” and now finally the silence of the absence of movement emerges victorious. Ahhhhhhhh. It’s that amazing feeling right before you slip into real sleep, entering the zone of semi- consciousness. Somewhere in between, “Gosh, I’m so tired, I’m glad to be finally going to bed.” and drooling. You know what I mean.

This is the kind of exhaustion that every new mother can definitely relate to. And don’t worry boys, I’m not excluding you here. I’m sure you’ve felt it t on occasion…say, after a long and tiresome night of endless basketball viewing while jumping up and down vigorously on the couch screaming at a television. Screaming to referees whom I’m sure will be taking into account your “Ridiculous! What is this?! Why don’t you take your whistle and blaaaaannnnnnnnnkkkkkkkkk!!!!!”opinions on their latest call.

Exhaustion like this is usually pleasurable pain, when it finally comes to an end. However, during the storm of daily activities, it’s not so pretty. The day before yesterday, the exhaustion of emotional, mental, and physical events began to combine- forming a tornado in the form of a terrifying, dangerous and unsightly little monster: Me.

In high school, my good friend Katherine, a.k.a. The Wise One, once built a brilliant analogy based on a brick wall. She said, “It’s like there a millions of little bricks building a wall, each one representing something small, yet thorny and bothersome in your life. As the wall builds and builds, it finally falls. Ladies, my brick wall is falling.” (In which then she, or I, or whoever was having the colossal and catastrophic meltdown of the typical 17 year old drama queen, would sit and sob).
It is something each of our girlfriends has referred to ever since the wise one spoke such clarity. It was months ago that I felt the beginnings of a wall begin to form, and knew that it would only be a matter of time before it would crash. Crash isn’t even the right word, because that would imply the large wall simply falling down. Explode is a better term….as the bricks shoot out into the surrounding landscape swiping everything and everyone within a 1,295,896 mile radius in their way.

I run my Dad’s office for his plumbing company. And let it be known, I realize what one might think when hearing of a daughter “working” for her father’s company, all of you jealous and doubting other employees out there, imagining the special privileges of the bratty little offspring. I’m here to set the record straight to all of you judger-faces: you are absolutely right.

I get free lunches from anywhere I choose, I come and go as I please. Day one, I began working at the same wage as the person who had to train me was working for. I get to meddle into every little private affair of the business, and occasionally, my opinion is actually heeded. In fact, as rarely heeded as it is, it will always be two steps ahead of your opinion, and this queen of the hill status is safe in the genetically bound relations of father/boss to daughter/employee. So there.

However, among this myriad of privileges comes a deep sense of loyalty and desire to protect this family owned operation. It is because of this I am proud to say that I indeed find my motivation to actually work, and work hard. This is no job for me, it is my family. (Enter Country Time Lemonade commercial background music…excellent speech Rachel…and cut.).

During a usual day of ho hum, bookkeeping business, it was my responsibility to keep tabs on getting payment, a rather large payment, from our contractor, whose name I will refer to as Big Jerk Constructors. The timing was getting crucial as they were stringing us out for payment, nothing out of the ordinary. I put in a call to Sherrie, whose name I will refer to as Sherrie ( because if she ever were to stumble upon this blog in a chance of 1: 89 billion I would want her to know I mean every word of what I say about her). The conversation played out something like this:

Me:”Hello, this is Rachel from Hansen and Sons Plumbing, may I speak to Sherrie?”
Receptionist: “Let me see if she’s here.” Pause. “She’s on another line.”
(Note: She’s ALWAYS on another line. Convenient, given it is time for payment to all subcontractors.)
Me: “I don’t mind holding, thank you.”
10 minutes later
Sherrie: “This is Sherrie.”
Me: “Hello Sherrie, this is Rachel. I’m sorry to bother you during a busy day, how are you doing?”
Sherrie: “Fine.”
Me: “I was just checking to see if a check is ready for pickup.”
Sherrie: “No.”
Me: “Any word on when it will be? Payments are due by the 15th, and it is now the 30th.”
Sherrie: “No.”
Me: “Okay, well thank you so much for your help.”
Sherrie: Click.

What a sweet heart. What is even more pleasurable is when I arrive to their office when payment is finally ready (45 days late) and she throws in a million loopholes before I can pick it up.
I arrive at Big Jerk Const. , and notice a giant GMC suburban lifted with the license plate “SHERRIE.” Ooohhh, Sherrie is the “big dawg” on the corporate ladder of middle class American women bookkeeping, still earning a salary typically below the annual poverty level. Congratulations. You can just see the other women in the office cringe and half hide under their desks as the boney, 95 pound, 4’3” Queen saunters out of her private office
(You know the old joke that men in big trucks are trying to make up for something else? Apparently, it isn’t just men). She fake politely tells me my lien release must state something other than what it already states to receive payment. Of course I bow to her majesty’s request, seeing that she is holding multiple thousands of dollars at will, and do what she says. After stepping back into the office with the correct lien release, she sends one of her ladies in waiting to deliver the check. She only graces us with her presence when she gets to withhold the check, not to deliver it.
As I drove away, I thought to myself. What is it with us women? Was that money Sherrie’s? Did it have anything to do with her actual salary level? Was it going to make a difference to her whether we were paid or not? She works for a giant corporation, she isn’t the owner. The money simply passes through her computing system, she clicks a key, prints it, and sends it down to her supervisor and has him sign it (I’m imagining male supervisor, as women can’t seem to elevate above the glass ceiling in construction business management). Did it make her feel better today to be able to remind another nobody that she was a least a somebody slightly above their nobody? (Did that even make sense?)
So, why the hateful voice? Why the Queen of the bees attitude among women that are just doing the same thing she is….attempting to stay afloat in a world of ever shrinking martial success, ever increasing financial burden, and eternally tiresome attempts to be the perfect working mother, the Victoria’s Secret clad sexy and mysteriously playful wife, the diligent soccer mom, the corporate business leader in a fabulous suit, and yada yada yada. I don’t even want to play this game. I am not vying for the slightly upgraded black pleather chair that serves as the throne of the Big Jerk Constructor's book-keepees. Give me a pb&j sandwich, Lily Lu, and the park for the rest of my life and I’ll be content with my role as simply and beautifully: “Mom.”

Another day, as I arrived home to greet my beautiful baby Lily, she was not necessarily returning the pure delight that I felt at seeing her lovely little face. She was especially grumpy and whiny. I’ll even admit with some additional justification to follow: she hit me a few times when I took a no-no toy away from her. Justification: we must remember that before children can communicate they tend to hit as a way of expressing verbal frustration that they cannot yet speak. So stop judging! Oh wait, it’s me who is judging. I am judging myself. This is the speech I give myself as the other side of me says, “She is actually expressing repressed hurt and anger at a mother who leaves her four days a week to go to work. Why don’t you get your priorities straight? Oh, and by the way, good job at feeding her macaroni and cheese and green beans for dinner. Planning on adding protein any time soon, or are you willing to accept that your child’s possibly future mediocre I.Q. level can be traced to you neglecting to add a hog dog to tonight’s main entree?”

A few weeks pass, and Tyler and I are pouring over future job options. Tyler does not want to stay with his current company, even though the pay upon graduation will be substantially more than we have lived on, making it possible for me to stay home in six weeks! Hooray! Finally!
Hold that shout, not quite so fast. Turns out we have decided the job he is currently in simply won’t take him where he wants to go. We have to consider other jobs, jobs which will merge him onto the highway of engineering success a few miles (years) ahead. Problem is, these jobs start at a much lower salary. I guess I’ll be working two days a week. Still, much better than four. I am still sad.


My Dad and I met about a week ago today, to pour over financials and figure ways to cut back on overhead. Business has been currently tight as we are in between contract jobs. Difficult lay offs have occurred, and debt is racking up as we wait on payments from our ever wonderful and loyal majesty, Big Jerk Constructors. In the past few months, I have been able to catch a glimpse of what my Dad has dealt with my entire, mostly blissfully unaware life. Constant battles over obtaining money that is rightfully owed by contract, sly and devious contractors ready to weasel their way out of any possibly dime, dishonest employees, incredibly obnoxious and difficult customers, substantial debt as you float payroll while awaiting payments, safety inspections, tax audits, bidding and hoping and fighting for the next job, the next contract….it never ends. If my Dad was adding bricks, he’d have rivaled and surpassed the Great Wall of China in about 1987. For the first time, I was losing sleep while worrying about my Dad losing sleep over all the issues we had to lose sleep over.

It was on this day, after a phone call, he called me privately into the back of the office and told me, amidst some very red and sad eyes, that my cousin had just been admitted into a psychiatric hospital, possibly due to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Chills literally ran down my spine as I thought of my completely normal, upbeat and fully functional 19 year old cousin sitting in solitary confinement, limited to visits of one hour a day from his parents, while blabbering nonsense. One day he was fine, the next he was convinced of false conspiracies and voices. To say that this was a heartbreaking and terrifying experience is an understatement. Suddenly his parents, who had just been dealing with a typical college age son coming and going from school and planning future life events, had to confront the possibility that it was all gone now. How does this happen? As I looked at Lily later that evening, running around in her diaper on a warm spring day, with all the wit and wonder of a beautifully mischievous little doll, I thought about my cousin. He is my aunt and uncles first born, their little Lily.
Luckily, after confronting such a scary possible diagnosis and after days of observation in the hospital, it was determined he was suffering from bi polar disorder. Although it is still a disorder, it is like a cold vs. cancer in the spectrum of mental disease. He will be able to manage. Hopefully, and prayerfully, he should be able to manage.

Today I went to a very pleasant lunch with my Uncle Ryan. He, Lily and I enjoyed our favorite Vietnamese noodles and then went to further indulge in Baskin Robbins ice cream. As we drove to the joint of heavenly, creamy caloric enjoyment we were discussing my Aunt Patty, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. She has been confined to a wheel chair for around 10 years now, and every year deteriorates worse and worse. He had mentioned that he wanted to see her, but she has refused all visitors lately, including my mother. This can only mean that her bed sores are getting worse. Even in the middle of crippling and lethal disease, she still clings to her sense of privacy and dignity. Having people around her witness the degradation of the human body under such conditions must be somewhat humiliating, I’m sure, even if the situation if far out of everyone’s control. I realized that her attempts to preserve her last few shreds of physical self respect wrenched at my heart strings even more than the actual disease.

Do you suddenly feel as if I’ve used my ultra talented literary skills and morphed you into a live script of the SNL skit “Debbie Downer”? (You know, the skit where the whiny, ugly girl shows up and rains on everyone’s parade by talking incessantly about everything that goes wrong, instead of right…) So sorry, I’m not meaning to depress anyone, the least of all myself.

The Secret would be ashamed. Quick…take it back. Rewind…..La La La. Flowers and kittens and Reeses peanut butter eggs. White cottony socks and sunshine.

Naaaahhhh. No thank you. Not right now. I am a huge fan of the Secret, but I insist that it is necessary for my brick wall to build, because how else would it then be able to explode and vanish, allowing me to see the distant and glorious horizon? I need to have a “this simply and quite utterly, literally, so wholly and completely sucks.” day. It is on this day that I honestly admit that the problem is with me. As Dr. Phil so correctly states “And the common demominator is YOU.” However, I must warn that although the problem is with me….the monster that I am might attack you. And if this horrid gremlin crosses your path someday, please accept my apologies now.

After Ryan told me this sad information about my aunt, I had such a “this sucks” moment. Brick wall begins to lean, then tumble, then BOOOM….and suddenly I’m am silently screaming “God, I am reeeeally trying to understand, but you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do if I’m going to plan on trying to enter into your world, cause from where I’m standing right now, I don’t even want to talk to you at the moment! In fact, I'm not even sure you're there in this sick, infested, infinitely expansive and dark universe.” (I know, the monster is ugly). I am tired. I am exhausted. I am tired of being tired and exhausted. I am sad and I am doubtful. I think this is all just awful. I know that there are women in Africa that walk miles each day with packages on their head only to earn 20 cents to feed their children mush, and yet I feel like I trump them all at this moment.

Later, we were sitting and watching as Lily ate her very own, first ice cream cone. She was entirely covered in vanilla goo, and waving her ice cream around in pure squealish delight. Her three little teeth shone through, and she suddenly and completely voluntarily leaned over and kissed Ryan with the most ooey gooey globbery wet open mouth. Covered in slop, Ryan’s face lit up instantly, and he said, “Oh! You are just an angel from heaven!” And he really meant it.
And suddenly, it dawned on me that I really believe it. As I feel my brick wall falling and vanishing away, I can even see it in the distance of her greenish eyes. It’s a little soul of a pure being, smiling and fresh outta heaven. She is like a little representation that what is there is good, and as willing to love you back as you desire to love it.
Okay Lily, if you and what you are is what is actually there…I’m not sad anymore.