Sunday, April 20, 2008

"This one goes to eleven..."

Jonah turned 11 this week and I can't quite believe it. He actually babysat for us and did a great job, if you overlook that he left two half-gallons of icecream sitting on the couch, one dripping its mintiness all down the front... (cue the "Sunrise Sunset" music) Is this the little boy who was so attached to me that he wouldn't let me take a leak in peace but would pound on the bathroom door screaming, "I NEED YOUR PRIVACY!" Is this the tender guy who got scared by the "Snort" in "Are you my Mother?" When did Nacho Libre replace Superman as his hero? When did he start using air quotes anytime he says the word "Santa?"

Right after we gulped down his icecream cake on Thursday we headed up to the Church so to hear the "Rock On Singers" of which Georgia is a part. Just before the performance, Dave pulled Millie's very first tooth out and I got this picture. Bloody but darling. She was sooo excited to have joined the tooth losing crowd.

Here is Georgia singing away. She knew all the words to all 8 songs and has a lovely voice (thanks to her father's genes). But being an introvert, the whole thing wore her out and she was more than ready to go home after.

This last picture I took this morning as we were leaving for church. Grandma Dava bought Bea this bee dress and I had to get a shot of its debut. She was super excited about it and kept making a buzzing noise and petting the little embroidered insects.

We leave for Sanibel Island on Tuesday and I am so excited to get away and just have fun. I'm sure I'll have a tale or two to share when I get back.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Dream a little dream..."

Sunday was a dream. But first let me write about the dream I had Sunday morning, right before I was awakened by Millie bringing me breakfast in bed (bread pieces with butter on them and a dixie cup with Wheat Thins!).

So in my dream, Dave and I are with our friends Cliff & Nel, who happen to have a Portugeuse housecleaner. And they are raving about her. Dave says that he knows of a Mexican cleaner who is really wonderful. The three then get into a big discussion about who cleans better, Portugeuse or Mexicans. Dave, a quarter Mexican, is getting really defensive of "his people" and I try to assuage things by saying, "Well, I've never had a cleaner and never will so who cares."

But Dream Dave is silent. And Dream Heather KNOWS something is up and I light into him, "Oh-my-gosh! You've been using a cleaning lady behind my back, haven't you?!" He tries to deny it but I scream: "WHAT HAS SHE CLEANED FOR YOU--WHAT?!" He caves a bit and says, "Just my car--it was really messy--and just once--okay, twice, but I swear only two times, I swear!" And I launch back, "WHAT ELSE HAS SHE CLEANED FOR YOU, WHAT ELSE?!" And he balks and stammers about his office needing to be cleaned but it would never happen again. I'm raging at him.

And I wake up to and Dave is in bed and I just start laughing and laughing, and I tell him and he's laughing and laughing. Because I have such ISSUES with cleaners. It's not some political reason or because it would make me feel like a rich entitled white person (which I probably am), but it all stems back to childhood... [cue the dreamy harp music and picture a typical house in Southern California in the 70s] My mom is a clean freak and has major control issues. She Cloroxed the countertops nightly and could not abide any messiness. Think Bree from "Desperate Housewives." Once, and I swear this is true, my brother Danny's friend Jim R. came for a visit. He got up at 7am to go to the bathroom. When he came back into the guest room the bed had been made. KooKoo Bananas.

When I made my bed in the morning my mom would come in and remake it. So I stopped making it, because what on earth was the point? If I set something on my dresser and left the room, when I came back it would have been rearranged. If I hung clothes on the back of a chair for the next day and then went to brush my teeth, they'd be put away when I returned. If I loaded the dishwasher, she unloaded and reloaded it. When I folded laundry, she refolded it. If I cleaned the bathroom, she'd follow it up with more Windex & Bon Ami. It really depressed me. The message was, "Nothing you do is good enough." Actually the real message was "I am OCD, please get me help!" But as I kid I mistook it all for criticism. Each knicknack she adjusted, each surface she tidied, each toothbrush she put at right angles felt like all my decisions were being second guessed. Every alteration she made was a personal attack. Whew. I'm getting worked up just writing about it. Anyhow, so I've taken this with me. We had a sitter once who was by nature a tidier. I'd come home and all my surfaces would be bare (notice I don't say "clean") and my eyes would start to twitch and I couldn't wait to get her home so I could put my stuff back (ie return to chaos).

After Millie was born, Dave LIED to his Grandma and said what I really wanted as a gift was a cleaning lady to come in. I was postpartum and begrudgingly agreed. It was my worst nightmare come true. Sure the floors were glossy and smelled of Christmas. Sure the bathroom sparkled like a Vegas showgirl. But every inch of my house felt JUDGED. If the bedside lamp had been angled differently, I instantly thought, "Why did she move that? Was the angle I had it at not GOOD enough for her?" So irrational of me. As if the cleaners are supposed to take Poloroids of night tables and after dusting them, make sure the lamp is put back in the exact position. Can you say "paranoid?"

So I am messy and proud. I make imaginary bumper stickers for myself and one of my favorites is "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." In my defense I am sanitary (the kitchen sink is currently covered in a layer of Ajax to ensure it's salmonella free). I lift things off the carpet to vaccum and then put them right back in the middle of the floor. My good friends understand my issues. Last month when I was out of town my friend Denise K's husband Jim knew I'd left in a hurry to help my mom and suggested that they go clean the house for me while I was away. Denise shook her head. She knows I'd appreciate it, but I might also have an internal flip out. Hence the dream. Of course, if you have no background on my nuttiness, you might read the dream differently. I shared it with two couples on Sunday over brunch. Lindy & Al were cracking up. They know how weird I am. But the other couple. There might as well have been a bubble over their heads saying, "Hello, paging Dr. Freud--Dave is OBVIOUSLY having an affair!" They are lovely people, but way too tidy, so I don't really care if she thinks Dave's a lying cheat and I'm in denial.
That was my literal dream. My metaphoric dream on Sunday was that our family got two invitations to dine with friends--two--and they didn't even conflict. It meant not only did I not have to cook a single meal, but I didn't have to feel GUILTY about it. Now you all know what a failure of a housewife I am. I hate to cook and clean. My house is sanitary but chaotic and my children frequently have cereal for dinner.

First, Lindy had us for brunch and of course it was all so good. There were cheeses and ham and bagettes; carmel French toast with whipped cream; two quiches; homemade oatmeal that tasted like the crumble topping of a fruit pie. And for dessert, pain au chocolat, the yummiest French pastry ever. The best is that no matter how much she makes, there is never enough. Al gives her a hard time about this, but I swear she could make 7 dozen pastries and they'd still all get devoured.

For food intermission I went to stake conference. Go Gordon & Laurie!

For dinner Becca S. made a savory chicken, homemade rolls, asparagus, and strawberry shortcake for dessert with bisquits that were just sweet enough. I ate two plain after dessert, just because. Before we even got to dinner she made her bean dip that is so good, I just stood by the stove with a bag of Tostitos in hand. Instead of getting my own soda I made Danny do it because I didn't want to lose my prime dipping spot. So it was a great day. Good food, good company, and I had no church responsibilies. It really was a dream.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out, Sammy Davis!

A woman is our ward has started a kids' choir and Georgia has joined. She's delighted that this Monday they'll perform at a nursing home. The song she likes the best and keeps singing is "Candy Man." But I drive her crazy because I can't sing the right words anymore.

This is because every year at the Exponent Retreat they have a talent show, and what is my talent? To make fun of things of course. And even though I barely hum the hymns in church, so untrained is my voice, I belt out wacky songs that I've rewritten. The first one I did was a Mormon Brady Bunch ("It's a story of a special lady, who was bringing up 3 very special girls. All of them read the Book o Mormon like their mother, the D&C and the Pearl..."). Think of the primary song "I love to see the temple" and instead imagine 6 women singing "I love to nurse my baby" as they fling breast pads (courtesy of Denise) into the audience. Or perhaps you might enjoy my twist on the Sunbeam song: "Jesus wants me to take Prozac so I don't flip my lid!" I can't in good conscience publish the lyrics to "Called to Serve" without offending lots of people, so email me privately if you really must know.

Last year The Red Hot Mamas (as we are known), consisting of Coco, Rachel, & Jen W sang my version of "Candy Man" that I spun into a tribute to Mormon cooking. It's hard to picture without all the props (I lied to my farmer/neighbor to get the giant zuccini pictured above, used for verse 4--phallic imagery is a staple of mine). We also had flower shaped jello molds, groovy aprons, and baby marshmellows. Here are the lyrics:

Alright everybody gather 'round
The Mormon Mom is here
What kind of Meal do you want
Tuna Casserole?
Carob chip cookies?
Rice Crispy Treats?
Anything you want
You've come to the right gal
'Cause I'm the Mormon Mom!

Who can take some jello
Pour it in a mold
Add marshmallows and shredded carrots when it’s cold
The Mormon Mom
The Mormon Mom can
The Mormon Mom can
'Cause she uses recipes
From the Ward Cookbook

Who can take some Tuna
Add cream of mushroom soup
Put in raman noodles and heat it into goop
The Mormon Mom
Oh, the Mormon Mom can
The Mormon Mom can
Cause she buys it all in bulk
For the millenium

The Mormon makes everything she bakes
Economical and nutritious
Talk about the loaves and fishes
She fulfills all our food storage wishes

Who can take some icemilk
Add Homemade rootbeer
Include a bendy straw to make the kids all cheer
The Mormon Mom
The Mormon Mom can
The Mormon Mom can'
Cause she wants a wholesome treat
At the Pioneer Parade

The Mormon makes everything she bakes
Economical and nutritious
Talk about the loaves and the fishes
She fulfills all our food storage wishes

Who can take zucchini
Cover it with cheese
Sprinkle it with cornflakes and paprika if you please
The Mormon Mom
Oh, the Mormon Mom can
The Mormon Mom can
'Cause she grew it all herself
In her own backyard

Yes, the Mormon can
'Cause she mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
A-Mormon Mom, a Mormon Mom

It was hysterical. We even peed our pants a little before we went "on stage." Yes, the Red Hot Mamas are incontinent. My point is, Georgia keeps getting mad at me when I join in as she practices, singing about soup and food storage and corn flakes. Try as I might, I can't go back to the original version.

The biggest draw back to this annual mockery is that some part of me is always hearing alternate versions to songs. Call it the Weird Al syndrome. It's all fine and dandy until the opening hymn is "Hold to the Rod" and I'm tee-heeing so hard that I'm in danger of soaking the pew. The Retreat is only 6 months away. If anyone has any good suggestions, please, let me know!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Maxillofacial Mayhem

Emmy & Bea lovin the rain.

As I mentioned previously, Jonah needs some major orthodontia. One look at his x-ray shows all sorts of permanent teeth desperately trying to get down, only to be blocked by baby teeth that have long overstayed their welcome. Georgia has lost more teeth than Jonah. So we were refered to an endodontist and had our appointment today to get 6 teeth pulled. Jonah was really stressed as he's never even had a cavity (due to good genetics not hygene, his front teeth look like Yedis). I, on the other hand, have had every dental procedure known to man. In 4th grade I had braces, neck gear, head gear, rubberbands, multiple teeth pulled; a root canal in jr hi; another root canal, a veneer, a front tooth pulled and a post screwed into the bone for an implant. So while I hate hate hate needles for blood work & shots (I nearly fainted when I got my ears pierced), I am very desensitized to dental stuff--and can I just say, dentists LOVE me because of it.

So I go over everything with Joe, how they'll use a long Q-tip with numbing stuff on it before they even get a needle near him, explain that he'll feel pressure, not pain, etc. etc. Poor guy is shaking when we get there and insists that I stay in the room with him. Dr. F was awesome. She uses nitrous oxide, aka "laughing gas." It was out of a movie. Jonah was giggling and laid back and waving his hands around, telling us "these so don't feel like my hands!" I love intoxicated Jonah. He handled it all so well, needing to hold my hand only for the last 2 teeth. I just chatted with him, making sure not to look into his bloody scary mouth. Pretty soon Dr. F was loving me too, because, like the fish in the tank on Nemo, I can speak "dental." Last month when I was visiting my mom she had to have an emergency root canal and I stayed by her side thru it all, schmoozing with the doctor. He even rotated screens so I could see how two of my mom's roots had merged into one. I was the Belle of the maxillofacial Ball.

Before I knew it this morning, Jonah was done and as the doctor is telling me about changing gauze and possible left over shards of roots, I yawn. And I see spots. And I know I am going to faint. Or vomit. Or quite possibly both. I stand and casually ask where the bathroom is and Dr. F sees right thru me. I think my green pallor gave me away. She won't let me leave, gives me a cup of water and says, "This is why we prefer the parents stay in the waiting room." I have gone from Best Patient Parent to Biggest Pain in the Ass in an instant. The water doesn't help and before I can come to my senses they have shuffled poor Jonah, still bloody from his surgery onto the hard chair and put ME in the big reclining dental contraption, have a cool washcloth on my forehead and are taking my blood pressure. I wanted to die. Hello--I'm supposed to be the parent and now Jonah has his hand on my ankle and is looking really stressed, all traces of laughing gas gone. I was mortified. But I was equally mystified. If they'd been stitching up a wound or lancing something, I'd get it. I freak out at purposeful incisions into flesh. I'd rather give birth than give blood. And that's not an exaggeration. But this is DENTAL stuff. MY stuff. I'm blase' about it. I laugh in the face of extractions. Root canal, schmoot canal. But for whatever reason, once Jonah was fine, I fell apart.

Once I was steady on my feet I took us to McDonalds and got us breakfast. I was fine after that, reinforcing my belief that there are few ills a McMuffin & Diet Coke can't cure. Anyhow, I hope none of the girls need oral surgery. Either Dave can take them, or they can go in the sterile room alone. Or if they really really really need me there, I'll go and bring a Big Gulp and prayer.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

3 Years in the Making

As many of you know, I've been associated with the Mormon women's newspaper Exponent II since we came to Boston in 1996. I'd heard of Exponent before I came out (Feminists!! Bra-burning ladies who's temple recommends should be burned!!! Man Haters!). In our ward, two of the three women who were the most friendly and inclusive of me were Exponent--thanks Judy D. & Linda H-K. They invited me to read submissions, come to the retreat (definitely the most fun & spiritually stimulating weekend of the year), hang out. In 2000 Nancy D. asked me to be an assistant editor, a counselor to her bishop/editor role and I've been doing it ever since. Several years ago, I became aware of several friends who had husband's with pornography addictions,. Each one felt so alone. We have to talk about this, get this out there, I thought and knew that we needed to dedicate an issue of the paper to the topic.

I started working on it in earnest in 2005, getting Mari Mc to write an article and do a retreat workshop on the Addiction Recovery program that she helped shape. I can't exactly explain why it's taken 3 years to get the whole thing together, but it did. And I must say I'm mightly pleased with how it all came together and I encourage everyone to go to the Exponent website ( and check it out. It's such an important subject and affects so many people. Pass it on to friends and family. Honestly, you NEVER know who out there needs to know they are not alone in this.

On the lighter side, I thought I'd attach a couple pix. Bea is such a stinker right now, refusing to nap and refusing to sleep in her crib at night. But she is also so funny. She found some lipgloss of Millie's and when she put it on, she said, "Wook, Mama, I's a pwincess!"

Bea discovers the fun of dressing up. Even if she's more "Hobo-rella" than Cinderella.

This week our dear buddies Heather & Aidan visited from Seattle. While Heather & Aidan were visiting, we had half the world over for a playdate. It was heaven. Georgia just loved having Aidan here. When he left today she said, "Mom, the second Aidan got out of the car at the airport I already missed him." But it was Millie who really seemed smitten with him. I've never seen my Mills with such a crush on somebody. She just followed him around like a puppy. In fact, sometimes AS a puppy, complete with a leash that Aidan held as she PANTED for him. It all felt very Little Women and I suspect if they all end up at BYU together Georgia/Jo may lose her Laurie to her little sister. Thank heaven it's all far away for now. I am NOT looking forward to all the girl drama that boys cause.