Thursday, August 28, 2008

Emme has decided she doesn't want straight hair anymore. Her pictures don't do it justice, but she has the most beautiful blonde hair - the kind of hair women pay LOTS of money to get. Honey blonde, with highlights of every shade. And it's straight - the kind of thick, straight hair I'd love to have. When her hair is bobbed, and she swings her head, it flings around in one sheet - like something you'd see in a Pantene commercial. Really. And it's not even computer-enhanced (and yes, her bangs are supposed to look like that - according to her hairdresser - she goes to a hairdresser that charges more than mine - those are side bangs and are VERY fashionable right now. Uh huh).

The result of this is that we spend half an hour each and every evening now rolling her hair. I just can't face curling it with an iron every morning. It's turned into a really great ritual. After bath, and before reading, we climb on my bed and I comb and roll her beautiful hair. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we watch Hannah Montana - but it's always just the two of us - while Jake works on homework or plays a video game downstairs.

I grew up in a time when women - ALL women - either had their hair done in a salon or did it themselves once a week. Daily hair washing and styling really didn't come into vogue until I was in junior high....really. Hole-y macaroni, that makes me feel old. But it's absolutely true. I know that women drenched their hair in styling lotion that was full of chemicals that kept the curls in for more than one good night's sleep. I never, ever, thought that I would see rollers again....I remember my mom curling my hair up in pink, spongy curlers for every special occasion. Oh, they felt soft to the touch - until I laid my head down upon the pillow - then the plastic part that held the sponge dug into my head....I spent miserable nights tossing and turning, trying to get comfortble, but I was so proud of my hair the next few days! Just like a grown-up...

Emme's been begging for curly hair, so when I found rollers that have a soft, spongy middle, but have wire through the middle to fasten them, I picked up a package - no restless nights for my girl. They were surprisingly easy to get the hang of. And she loves them.

The other night, during one of our talks, the subject of jobs came up. Up until now, her heart's desire has been to be a doctor fairy princess when she grows up. I have NEVER dampened her spirits with the knowledge that there are darn few schools that offer the major she's looking for. And none in Redding....I'm not having her fly off to some far-off, imaginary land to go to university!

I figured I'd wait until she's older to tell her she's as likely to have that profession as she is to be a super hero (one of her brother's aspirations - along with owning a school to teach people how to play video games).

So, when the subject arose, I asked if she was still planning on taking care of sick people while wearing a tiara and wings. She said no.

She said, "I want to serve people drinks at Red Robin."

My daughter, the bartender. She can stay right here at home. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes a mother's heart sing. Well, that - and this picture.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I must love my kids

School is starting Monday. The new backpacks and lunch bags are purchased, the first-day outfits already picked out. Meetings held with teachers. So, what's left for a parent to do?

Take the kids to 6 Flags, of course! Normally, this is the week we would have camped in Felton, but I was a bit leary with the fires. Add that to parent-teacher orientation both Wednesday and Thursday, and and injections in two of my facet joints (which, honestly, I didn't even know I had until a couple months ago) on Wednesday. 6 Flags is close, and we had coupons!

It was really fun, considering I only felt like throwing up once, and Emme only a few times. Jake rode the Hammerhead, about which he proclaimed, FAMILY READING WARNING, "I'm not doing that again. I don't like hanging upside down that much, because it hurts my nuts." He pronounced the Boomerang, "Awesomely sweet!"

He is on such an incredible precipice between little boy and big boy right now. He had just as much fun riding the Thomas the Tank Engine train as he did riding the Boomerang. He must have told me 50 times that I am THE BEST MOM EVER! Even though I left the bag with his souvenirs in the parking lot at the Jelly Belly Factory (don't ask). He's sure someone turned it in, and when I call on Monday, they'll cheerfully agree to mail it to us. I actually offered to drive back to Fairfield to try to find it (we realized what I'd done about an hour away) but after I told him it would delay our return to Redding to a time that we'd have to wait until Sunday to pick up Rex the Wonder dog, he said immediately that he'd rather get Rex and take his chances with the bag.

Emme had a bit harder time. She loved the first water ride we went on. When I talked her into the second one, telling her it looked even calmer than the first, she agreed. I had NO IDEA that we would be bounced around, and run directly under a huge waterfall....really, I didn't. She finished the ride saying, "This - is - just - STUPID." She was broken-hearted when her brother beat her at the only carnival type game I let them play. Anything that spins makes her sick. She's too short for half the family rides, but she feels like she's too big for the "baby rides." She LOVED one particular ride - the Congo Queen....she shares her brother's affinity for the word sweet. I wish I wasn't on the ride with her, so that I could have gotten a picture of her with her arms raised, a huge smile on her face, shouting, "This is SWEET!"

Jake was disappointed that there were three rides he wasn't allowed on, but he is certain that he'll grow the necessary three inches by the next time we go.

A word to the wise - if you ever stay at the Courtyard by Marriott, located directly across the street from 6 Flags - ASK FOR A ROOM AWAY FROM THE POOL. Our room was on the second floor, directly off the pool - WHICH IS OPEN UNTIL 11:00 P.M.! Just try getting kids to sleep at a decent hour because it's two days before school starts, while they can hear 15 other kids laughing and playing at the pool.

So, you're wondering why I love my kids?????

We listened to the "Alvin & the Chipmunks" CD every moment we were in the car. Every. Moment. Chipmunks. Yeah.

I love my kids.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Girl in the Window

I take it back. I take it all back. Every complaint I've ever made. Every wimpy excuse, every time I've complained about my health, my family, my children.

A few years ago, my eye was drawn to a book about Genie, the feral child found in the 70s, at the Shasta County Library. My heart broke for her. At the same time I was repelled by her story, I was drawn to it. A child, never loved, never nurtured, never taught the simplest tasks by a loving parent. It's inconceivable. We read of the children in Romanian orphanages, the children who grow to suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder. We can't believe it, and we rush to adopt them, thinking that love will fix anything. Somtimes it can, especially if the child is very young, but unfortunately, not in every case.

Our love doesn't fix everything. We have proof. Some say the Unabomber suffered from RAD. Other stories are equally troubling. But the healing power of God can fix anything...he's working through a family in Florida. They are His arms, cradling a child. His voice, singing to her and soothing her.

As I read the article about the girl in the window, watched the video, listened to the audio, I thought of Genie, and I pray - I know - that Dani will fare better. She's loved and cherished by a family.

Read the article from the St. Petersburg Times here. After you've read the article, check out the audio and video.

Get a box of tissues ready. And if you're willing, and if you're able, call Wanda Lamb, the Recruitment Specialist for foster care for Shasta County. She can be reached at 530-225-5858. She helped guide me through my own licensing nine years ago. I know her well.


Monday, August 4, 2008

The Worst Camping Trip Ever

We'd been looking forward to this trip for a couple weeks. A weekend at the coast, near Orick - away from the heat and smoke. Waves. Fern Canyon. S'Mores.

Friday morning I woke up with a sore throat. Ugh, I thought. Allergies. Or all the smoke. Maybe a cold, but I wasn't going to let it get me down. I felt a little rough, but not too bad. I have some wondrous drops called "Immune Support" with zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, et al, and I was taking them every few hours. I worked until 2:30, then headed off to a doctor's appointment. Good news there - cortisone injections should help my pain, and if they do, the next step is radiofrequency ablationing, which is more long-lasting. It's just mechanical pain - no neurological losses. Yeah!

Got the kiddos, packed up the car, dropped off the dog, and we were on our way!

Arriving at 9 or so, we set up our stuff (my friend Jeanie had set the tent up for us already, bringing it when she came that morning - Jeanie, you rock!) Made some sandwiches for the kids, roasted some marshmallows, and the kids were ready for bed.

I knew I was in trouble about 2am. I woke up with my teeth chattering. It was a deep, bone-numbing cold, which I knew came from inside - the weather outside was mild, not foggy at all. My sleeping bag is rated to 20, and I was wearing (in addition to sweats) a hat and socks. Checking the kids, I found them toasty and off in dreamland. I knew it was a fever, and not a good one.

Saturday morning broke beautifully. It was an absolutely perfect day at the coast. No fog. A bit of overcast, but not much. No wind. We walked the few short steps to Big Lagoon, and the kids ran off some energy. Jake showed off his incredible rock-skipping skills - he really is amazing. I fed the kiddos some sweet potato muffins, tried to choke down a cup of coffee, then we loaded the kids into the cars and ventured into McKinleyville. The kids played at McDonalds while Jeanie did some laundry. It was an awesome outdoor playground. As soon as we got back, I knew I was in trouble, but I didn't want to let the kids down.

We loaded up and went to the beach. The kids had a blast! Emme was afraid of the waves (it usually takes her a day or so to get used to them) but Jake was a champion wave chaser! I buried him in the sand. Emme had a couple other little girls to play with. Then, back over to the lagoon, so the kids could swim. Yes, I said swim - it was that warm! Not warm enough for adults to do more than wade; kids are amazing.

Meanwhile, I laid on a towel and tried to sleep. I was miserable. There was no denying it anymore. The monster had me. Throat - hot, swollen, excruciatingly painful. Head - didn't hurt if I lay absolutely still, but let me make the terrible mistake of trying to move it - shooting pain. Left ear - there's a small man in there, with a very sharp knife, and I don't think he likes me very much.

As soon as we got back to the campground, I started loading the car - yes, it's only Saturday afternoon. Sweet Nicole helped me. Jake had a blast helping me get the air out of the air mattresses! Jeanie offered to take down the tent for me. The kids were disappointed, but they could see how sick I was.

After a few stops on the way (milkshakes, potty stops for the kids, trying to explain to my little readers what the words "Hell's Angels" mean when they're found on a vest or a Harley, naps for me) we were home. My bed never felt so good.

And I couldn't get it out of my head - Mommy, why would anyone want to be a Hell's Angel when God loves us so much?

Yesterday morning I was at work - only because the clinic I work in is open on Sundays and I NEEDED A DOCTOR! Thankfully, it isn't strep, and zithromax seems to be helping. Jake played with neighbors most of the day, and Emme found some friends to spend the night with...which means she stayed there until bed time, then came home because she missed me - awwww. I didn't think she'd make it all night, but I wanted to let her try. I guess that's part of growing up.

And there will be other weekends, other trips.