Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day by Day, Minute by Minute

AGAIN with the weekly business! Actually, I have gone slightly over a week since my last post. So shall I do the ever-so-popular Week in Review? I think I shall! And lest this make you go slightly slack-faced and sleepy-eyed, let me tell you, my friends (political poke there), you haven't led the week I have led. As Super Sardine Mama, I lead quite the life. I have super powers, you know. And I am Champion of the Weak and Whiny, Dispenser of Wisdom and Cold and Cough Elixir, Protector of the Aging Wiener Dog against the Onslaught of TAPS (tiny agitated person on sugar), universal Interpreter of Grunting Adolescent Boys (I use my impressive telepathic powers for this), Headmistress of the School to Nowhere (another political poke) where nobody, and I mean nobody, is allowed to sleep past noon, Perpetual Supplier of Fresh Rolls of Toilet Paper, and Slayer of the Occasional Household Scorpion by way of shouting "Somebody come here and take care of this!!!".....Ha! I bet NOW you're wanting to read about my week. It is gonna be long, but stick with me. You've got nothing better to do or you wouldn't be wasting time reading blogs :).

So let's get started:
Saturday was our town's festival. Jeff and I have grown up attending this yearly celebration. In fact, it was at this very festival where I stood, aged 14, glancing over at a really cute 16-year-old boy who finally found the courage to come over and talk to me. That night was our first kiss. We still, much to the disgust of our children, kiss on the courthouse steps every year at the festival (well, not last year - we didn't go). I love this picture - Texas flag waving in front of our historic courthouse with the ferris wheel in the background....

And here are my festivalling carnivores.....
And here are Camille and Jasper riding the world's most ridiculously expensive and shortest roller coaster....
On Sunday we entertained friends with an Indian dinner, song, and dance. Not Indian song and dance - just the usual "look at me, look at me, look at me" piano-banging and tutu-wearing that usually occurs whenever unsuspecting and innocent civilians happen upon our sticky web.

On Monday I put on my coaching hat for my Odyssey of the Mind team. I am coaching Joel's and Jules' team. Odyssey of the mind is a creative problem solving competition. They brainstormed on solutions for their problem and this included creating superstitions. There were many superstitions thrown about, including one involving ducks, backs massages, and rubber boots. I know, it sounds disturbing. But the one that really cracked me up was invented by a young man who has seven siblings:
If you hug your mother-in-law at your wedding you will be cursed with FERTILITY.
Obviously, every family has their own answer to, "How are babies made?" This one's is apparently, "Well, son, Daddy danced with Grandma at our wedding and they've been popping out ever since."
Ellie's high school Odyssey team went to the World Finals competition for the past two years. Last year they placed 11th in the entire freaking world! Which is way awesome. And the teams there are from all over the world and there are over 800 of them. It is a truly international experience. This past year it was at the University of Maryland, and the year before it was at Michigan State. This year their team is too busy with other things and decided not to compete. So I thought I only had 2 kids participating instead of the usual 3. But that was before two of my friends went insane. I will get to that in a minute. So every Monday 7 kids aged 9 to 14 are here armed with paint and glue guns. To make things even more fun, all of these children come accompanied by younger siblings (except for one who comes armed with a teenager who likes to use my flat iron to straighten his hair so he looks like Axl Rose).

Anyway, back to the younger siblings. They kind of run wild during the Odyssey meeting. So a couple of the other moms who I thought were fairly normal but apparently are not said, "Why don't we form an Odyssey team with the little kids?"

A little history here: Odyssey allows NO outside assistance from anyone outside the team, including parents and coaches. None. Zilch. Nada. So when you're dealing with the age group that has to be told things like, "Get your hands out of your pants, take the plastic bag off of your head, stop mouthing the door knob....." you can see as how having them formulate and present a solution to an assigned problem without any outside assistance would be a little challenging. So when my friends, whose eyes seemed suddenly brighter and wider in the way that people who have just received electro-shock therapy's eyes look suddenly brighter and wider, suddenly suggested that they should coach the the little kid team, I was slightly surprised. And amused enough to say, "What a great idea! Yes! I think you guys should do that. You go right ahead. Sounds like fun. Really."

So Camille is officially on an Odyssey team. Jasper is not old enough until next year THANK GOD.

Dinner consisted of vegetarian crunchy tacos prepared by mi sexy esposo.
Tuesdays (see how I'm hi-lighting the days of the week for you?) are Dance Days for Camille. This particular Tuesday was especially awesome because dance was cancelled. Looking at the calendar and discovering that I didn't have to locate tights and force little sweaty legs into them while everyone else in the house hysterically searched for the accompanying leotard and ballet shoes in order to earn the promised $1 reward was like finding money in your pocket you didn't know you had. It was as close to a Snow Day as I get here in South Texas. I was suddenly free! Free, I tell you! What to do with that extra time? Learn a foreign language, of course! I am rocking with Rosetta Stone Spanish. Totally rocking. I am so frickin' bilingual! "El gato is duerme." Cool, right? I can point out sleeping cats. Massively impressive. And as a bonus, there is one fine hombre (often eating una manzana or un pan) in the lesson. I am hoping that as we progress, we will advance into the clothing subject and accompanying phrases such as, "El hombre es slowly and tantalizingly removing el shirt-o." A girl can hope.

I was so worn out after all of the tongue-rolling that I fell asleep later that evening while watching the debate. The last thing I heard was McCain pointing out that Obama had still not apologized for Congressman John Lewis's warning that the McCain/Palin campaign was "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" by having Palin act like a cheerleader at rallies where people were calling for the assassination of Obama. Obama should apologize for that. Truly. McCain had every right to be outraged; not by the shouts of "Kill him!" but by Obama's refusal to refute Lewis's statement. Makes sense to me. And actually, he did refute part of it, I believe. Dinner was salmon patty burgers - a favorito around here.

On Wednesdays I took the boys to Tae Kwon Do. I sit in the car for 1 and 1/2 hours for this. And there is an hour's worth of driving to add to it. Every other Wednesday this routine is complicated by Camille's girl scout meeting, as well. It all works out, somehow, thanks to a little help from my friends. And the boys get proper instruction in how to use actual weapons, as opposed to just beating each other over the head with common, ordinary sticks found in the yard. Now they use official martial arts poles. My dad, bless him, comes on Wednesdays to get Ellie to schlep her up to the far side of the city for her piano lessons (about an hour's drive). They usually go out to dinner afterward so on Wednesdays we often eat MEAT. However, on this particular evening I didn't happen to own any meat so I made a pan of green cheese enchiladas and a pan of red chili enchiladas.
Thursday found me heading into the city to take Camille to her piano lesson, different teacher and different location from Ellie's lesson. Ellie also teaches piano, but not to her sister, of course. Why? Because she informed me she might end up killing her. Who am I to argue with that? Piano lessons involve more waiting on my part. While I wait, Jasper becomes increasingly bored and this is never a good thing. So far, all of the piano teacher's cats and plants are still alive.

After the lesson we headed to the library, or biblioteca, as we bilingual people like to say. I checked out the fifth book in the Anita Blake series by Laurel Hamilton. STILL no vampire porn. And I am still irritated by her dialogue. But I keep reading in the hopes of eventually getting to the good stuff.

Then we were off to Whole Foods for some groceries and lunch, where we ran into our favorite baby-wearing mom, Janet. She had one on her back and one wrapped around each leg. Her little guys are so calm. The oldest of her 3 children is like, 3. And they were just calmly sitting there. She was not frantically dancing up and down and back and forth trying to keep the baby on her back from squirming and crying - she was SITTING and he was just hanging out back there. Nobody was under the table, knocking over chairs, spilling soup, or throwing balled-up napkins. It fascinated me. Truly.
Since Jeff was working late the kiddos were triumphantly served frozen fish sticks. It isn't as if Jeff demands dinner and so in his absence I am "allowed" to serve fish sticks. But he and I don't eat fishsticks (OK - so I ate a few) and so sometimes when he's gone I just eat a Weight Watcher's dinner (along with the fishsticks) and serve the kids some junk, much to their delight.
On Friday I woke up early to make palak paneer because our homeschool co-op was sharing an Indian meal. There was a tiny little problem. I couldn't get out of bed. My back hurt something awful. I do not normally have back problems, so this is kind of new. I threw down 4 Advil and got out a heating pad. After 30 minutes or so I was able to get up and prepare the food with the help of the kids, and get packed up to go to co-op. But my back still really hurt. Co-op was fun, the meal was absolutely delicious, and I got to rest a little, too, thanks to my friends.
I was looking forward to coming home to my heating pad but Jeff called to say he was going to be working late, again. Ellie was off to babysit for a friend, the boys were heading to a friend's house to spend the night, and that left me alone with the two unmanageables who were jumping on my bed and sending my back into spasms. When they weren't jumping on the bed they were asking for food and drink. I kept complying with these requests because I have extensive experience with the whole, "Never mind, Mommy, we'll get it ourselves" fiasco.
I ended up calling my sister who came and brought me dinner and took the little ones with her. My sister is sometimes referred to as Lucy, as in short for Lucifer. But yesterday she was truly my angel.

I was totally alone for 3 hours and didn't know what to do with myself. Since I was confined to my bed I ended up playing Scramble on Facebook the entire time. I keep coming in fourth. I cannot beat my own kid. Stupid smart kids.
Yesterday, in addition to being physically painful, was also a little emotionally painful for me. It was the fifth anniversary of my mom's death. What to say about that? Where to start? I miss my mom. I feel her around me so much right now. Is it because October is the month of her passing? Or is it because the veil really does thin this time of year? I don't know. But I appreciate the feeling of closeness I have with her. I am increasingly amazed by her ability to continue to communicate with me. For instance, awhile back I was driving Ellie over to my dad's house. I was feeling very blue. I felt, at the time, that Ellie was slipping away from me. She was espousing ideas and beliefs that were not my own - painfully reminding me that she was her own person and would someday be no more mine than anyone else's child. I do not like to let go of things that are "mine". My dad noticed I was kind of blue. I tried to explain to him what I was blue about but I could tell he didn't get it. Male minds are not tuned into the subtle nuances of mothers letting go of daughters. I felt the need to talk to my mom - which is a frustrating need since she is dead. I walked back to the bedroom and for some reason, opened the drawers of my mom's desk. I don't know why. I wasn't snooping - just trying to find her, I guess. I needed to touch her things. Inside the drawer I found a little journal. My mom kept a journal? I hadn't known about that. It was mostly empty, except for two entries. The date was October 30, 1990 - two years before Ellie was born. Glued to one of the pages was a copy of this, by Kilil Gibran:
Your children are not
your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you;
And though they are with you
yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love
but not your thoughts,
for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies
but not their souls.
For their souls dwell
in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not
to make them like you.
for life goes not backward
nor tarries with yesterday.

What was my mom going through that made her thoughtfully cut this out and paste it in her journal? Was it about me? I would have been around 25 at the time - it is hard to think it was. Was she somehow driven to paste it in the book and leave it in the drawer, waiting for me to find it 17 years later? Was she speaking to me of a granddaughter she had not yet met at a time when she could no longer speak? All I know is that it was exactly what I needed to hear. Mom was always good that way. And it reminded me that we never really lose our daughters or mothers - even death does not separate us. Thanks, Mom. I miss you.

Sardine Mama


  1. OK - I just noticed that the google ad on my blog says, "Kidnapping Charges?" and then advertises a lawyer or something. Slightly unsettling, no? If any of you are needing help for kidnapping charges, please get the heck off of my blog!

  2. THe "poem" from your mom's journal has me bawling my eyes out. I lost my mom last year and have been dealing with a tumultuous daughter for too long. That all just really hit home.

    ps to Ellie, I totally understand the piano lessons. I am a Math Major but could not help my kids with their Math homework without bashing their heads into the wall. not really but wanted too.

  3. Adrienne - I am so so so so sorry for your loss of your mother. I am sending you a cyber hug.

  4. I adore that poem. Your have such a loevly family!

  5. What a sweet post. It made me cry. I think about the day coming when my daughter will no longer be her sweet little 5 year old self always wanting to be by my side and I miss her already.

  6. Have you seen this? OR here's a smaller URL

    It's so sweet.

  7. Very sweet! Did you see the poem I wrote for Joel the night before he turned 6? That is on the "Now We Are Fourteen" post....

  8. Howdie,

    I noticed the Texas flag in your pictures and thought I recognized your courthouse. Are you by any chance near Belton? If so, beautiful town! We went there for the 4th of July parade.

  9. wonderful wonderful lovely post Ms. Carol.