Saturday, August 30, 2008

Was the paper journal better?

I decided to dig out my journal from ten years ago to see what I was like back then. I have my class reunion coming up, you see... Anyway, back in those days I spent a lot of time covering every inch of my notebook with paint/clippings/doodles... I'm not sure the writing had much substance though. Mostly it's a lot of emo junk. Even then I wrote as if I knew people were reading. Most of the stuff I thought was so tragic is really hilarious.
It was colorful, if nothing else.

Cullen is 10 months old!

(Woops! I seem to have skipped a month. Sorry Cullen!) (Edited to add: I did write about his 9 month doctor visit but I neglected to tag it properly.)

Well, he was 10 months old on the 25th...

Yesterday we noticed that he was crawling on his hands and knees! For the last couple of months he's been getting around army style.

He pulls up on things but doesn't really cruise around like that. I don't think he's going to be an early walker which is nice because I think the earlier they start walking, the more bruises on the ol' noggin. He isn't fearless, I mean. Mina was fearless and it landed her in the E.R. twice...

I'm a little concerned about the fact that he doesn't hold food in his hand, he doesn't try to self feed... He does play with toys and I have seen him scribble with a magnetic doodle pad, so he is using his hands, but he doesn't hold onto the swing, he doesn't hold onto the cart when we go shopping, when I try to get him to grab things he lets go immediately. He doesn't hold on tight to anything. I have felt the strength of his hands when he tries to pull my face off, and they aren't weak or anything, but--oh heck, I'm reading too much into this. It's early. I'm maybe a little sensitive to all of this stuff knowing what I know about sensory processing problems.

Moving on...

I love this kid. I thought I would be sad to see him grow into a boy, get teeth and all that, but I just love watching kids grow. I'm just going to enjoy every stage I think... He's getting two more teeth on top and they are taking a long time to grow in. Cullen hasn't slept really well in months. He gets up at least once during the night. I suppose it could be worse but my other kids were such great sleepers...

Right now he's not very snuggly at all. He can't wait to get down. He never wants to finish nursing--he just wants to crawl around on the floor. Then he zeros in on any "chokeable" item that may be on the floor--that is, items smaller than 1x1"--usually tiny scraps of paper or stickers. It's amazing how quickly after a vacuum this sort of kid debris can appear... Next he'll probably be at the stage where he brings these things to me. "Here mama, a dust bunny. Good boy?" Then they do that at other peoples' houses. Then people say, "I TRIED to make sure my floor was clean!" It doesn't matter--they will find the one speck of dirt and point it out dutifully. Adorable, right?

I guess I should start planning his birthday party. Less than two months away! Hooray for Halloween themed parties!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Five year olds are so awkward!

Today was "backpack day" at Mina's school, where you bring all of your school supplies in and catch a glimpse of the other kids. It was pretty chaotic, but I was able to stand back and observe for a few minutes. Let me tell you a few things about kindergarteners.

1. They all pick their noses.

2. Almost all of them have goofy haircuts.

3. They don't play together or talk to each other immediately.

4. They can't tie their shoes.

5. They can't follow directions.

I think it's going to be okay. :D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quiet around here

I've been busy?

Here's what I'm thinking about: School, school, school, school, school, school, schoolschoolschoolschoolschool. WOW, that word just lost all meaning to me.

Yesterday I met Mina's kindergarten teacher and it went well. I have high hopes for this year. I'm trying to stay afloat with positive thoughts here. You have to be careful because if you stop consciously exercising positive thoughts you will drown. It's a very unstable condition. One false move can very quickly turn into, "OH GOD HELP US ALLLLLLL!!!!!!"

So anyway. I'm feeling kind of quiet because I think sometimes if I open my mouth I will just start screaming insane things. And I'm keeping my cool, damn it!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do You Remember Your First Day of School?

-Weekend Wandering question.

Yes. What I remember about school is that I had no idea what school was. The idea of school was so abstract--I mean I knew that it was someplace Shannon went and that he worked on things in school, I guess. I think I had some idea that there were other kids. I imagine that my mom probably told me what school is but without knowing EXACTLY what it would look like and EXACTLY what we would do, I just couldn't wrap my brain around it.

I don't remember what I had for breakfast. I don't remember what I wore. I only remember one shirt I had at the time, which was white with tulips on it, and I only remember it because a girl named Holly had the same shirt and you know, same first letter of first name, same shirt, instant friendship.

On my first day of school my mom brought me inside and the other kids were just all over the place, exploring the different areas of the room, and I stood there totally frozen, not knowing what to do or where to go or how to be. I saw another kid start crying and ask (his/her?) mom, "When does school start?!" and I sort of became panicked and also started crying. It was instantly better when the teacher gave us direction. I guess that's pretty common because it seems like Leta reacted similarly when she started preschool, minus the tears.

I went to a different school for first grade and that was like... REAL school. But by then, I knew what school was.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

X-ray of fetus

Thank you Jason for the picture. Mine would have been blurry and cropped goofy and just generally embarrassing.

The head of the fetus has lowered into the pelvis. I haven't forgotten that feeling...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Work, Work, Work!

I finally finished a new painting... I think. The gloss is down. I put it on my wall and stared it down every day, thinking about how to go about getting what I want... Today when I was in the basement washing diapers (glamorous, yes?) I was sort of wandering around looking at things, checking out the art supply situation (because I had just been upstairs at the Dick Blick site filling my shopping cart) when I spotted this old box of oil pastels I've had for fifteen years. Perfect! I brought them upstairs and went to town on my painting.

I still haven't decided if it's a pile of garbage or if I wouldn't be horribly embarrassed to post a picture. Jason has agreed to take said picture. I mean, he *is* a professional, after all, I shouldn't be putting such horrible photos of my art up on the internet for all the world to pass around like a virus. *cringe*

Jason, I want you to plug in that camera RIGHT after you take the picture, and then I want you to send it to me, immediately. Otherwise you are fired!

Well, reader, I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Check in again soon.


She has a cold. She hates coughing and won't do it. I have to tell her to do it and threaten her with tickles. Tickles make her cough involuntarily and it's the only thing that really works, and she will probably hate being tickled forever because I've used it for evil.

Try your google-fu to find out what to do for a child who won't cough. It just isn't a problem for other people apparently. I keep envisioning a device that you attach to the face, squeeze and suck the mucous out.

The sound of her juicy cough in waiting... It just drives me bonkers! COUGH, child! COUGH!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Leta had her first day of preschool yesterday. She was mostly excited to wear her "first day" outfit, I think. Jason took a picture so hopefully soon we'll see it on his flickr page.

Leta says she made ONE friend. They played dolls together and shared a spot on the rug during story time. Doesn't that just melt your heart?

She doesn't like any of the boys.

She loves her teacher.

She loves snacktime and claims that they had brownies with butter but somehow I doubt it was butter. Maybe a buttery looking frosting? Or peanut butter?

She was a little frozen when we first got there yesterday but as soon as the teacher gave the kids some direction she was all smiles.

Her class is all four year olds so it seems a little more challenging and organized than the one Mina was in last year, which was 3-5 year olds. Maybe Mina should have been in the four year old class but it was probably good for her to feel so big and smart in her first school experience. Leta has been so involved with Mina's education that I have little doubt she'll feel super smart among her peers. She picks up on things that Mina's doing, like writing, reading, math. While she certainly hasn't mastered any of these things, they won't be new concepts to her at all.

That's one of the advantages of being a younger sibling. You know what's coming and you have time to prepare for it. You always want to learn what your older sibling is learning and by the time you have to use those skills it's easy peasy.

I love life today, even though all the kids and even the husband are sick. I have this feeling in my belly, sort of excited and nervous like going up, up, up on the roller coaster, approaching the top...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I bet you didn't know I was a HERO.

I just killed the biggest spider this side of the Mason-Dixon (that probably doesn't make sense since I live in Wisconsin, not Pennsylvania, but...). Oh my god. I wanted to run away. You know, grab the family, move to a new house. Hahaha. I had to keep talking myself back over to the spider. It was in the stairwell, you see. And you had to go halfway down the stairs to see where it was. I was on my way down for some laundry when I noticed the gigantic spider coming up to kill me. I battled this beast twice in the basement, I'm sure it is the same one, and each time it escaped my wrath.

OH no you don't, I said, and ran to my closet-o-toxins. I wanted to try the ol' 'spray it with something to slow it down' trick. I happened to have some raid. The 'psychotic spider hating' side of me won the debate with the 'toxin fearing' side of me.

So I sprayed the hell out of this (bleepitybleepbleep!) as it was climbing towards me, and it didn't immobilize it the way I'd planned. It ran away, to the little ceiling of the landing area at the bottom, hence not being able to see it unless halfway down the stairs, and the stairs being a scary claustrophobic kind of spider trapping human kind of place...

I needed the broom, and a pillow. So I kept coming back to it with my broom and my pillow. And I'd get goosebumps and shake and feel sick and have to go away.

I needed the spray again.

So I had the broom in one hand and the spray in another and I sprayed it, and it looked sorta funny. It's legs seemed a little crumpled. So I decided to get it with my broom and it went down without a fight, but it didn't squish. I kept wacking it with my broom and even tried to grind it into the floor but it was like... perfectly crisp. I couldn't relax until it was squished though. I put some tape on the end of a yard stick but the tape just stuck to the floor. Doh.

I noticed the empty rice jar on the counter and decided to use the ol' piece of paper + jar trick, (now with rubber gloves) and I captured it. I shook it around in there and it made an unsettling tink kind of sound and the legs broke off. I hope the same thing isn't happening inside my lungs right now. I probably should have worn a mask or something.

Anyway, I'll let my family thank me in the morning for saving them all from the horrible beast.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Something's wrong with my bucket

Sometimes you find at the end of the day your bucket is empty.

Sometimes you find that your bucket is empty in the middle of the day.

Sometimes you wake up and go, "SHIT! Bucket still empty!"

What if that happens every day?

I have a lot of challenges in my life, and usually I can totally deal with them and I enjoy my life, I like that things are a little crazy, but lately I find that I am waking up and the yelling starts right away, and I can't reset, I can't recharge, I can't think of a good solution, I can't get to the bottom of things, I am just having a really hard time. I feel tense all the time, I'm not keeping things up as well around the house, I don't want anyone touching me, I'm totally crabby and I can't seem to shake it.

I know. Boo hoo. My life is awesome and I have nothing to complain about. God I am so annoyed with myself now. It's such a vicious cycle.

I just wanted to admit for the billionth time to the entire world that I sometimes get under a cloud and can't seem to get out, and I really do try, and I'm the worst kind of depressed person because I hate other depressed people and think they are whiny and need to get some real problems. Awful!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Magenta Update

I found all the magenta I'll ever need in Threads magazine. I guess people who love to sew also love magenta! Hooray! And thank you to my husband for buying this magazine for me. I love it when Jason comes home with presents!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where's all the MAGENTA?!

There is a serious lack of magenta in magazines. This is a problem. There is also a serious lack of magenta paint in my tool box. What's a girl to do? Do I need more fashion magazines? Where will I find the most magenta? (Looking for excuse to buy fashion magazines)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I can't contain it any longer.

A while back I stumbled upon Street Anatomy and fell in love. I read somewhere on there that you could feel free to suggest things... well anyway I decided to email a link to the hip X-ray piece I did.

Enough time passed that I forgot/gave up on that dream. I figured it was a long shot because everything on that sight is so freaking awesome...

So I almost passed out when I saw this in my feed reader one day!

And then, I almost passed out again when I saw Kevin, M.D.'s post!

Then I almost passed out again when Google alerted me of this ANIMAL New York article.

And in between all the Google alerts about all the other medical blog sites that link to Kevin, M.D.'s post or Street Anatomy...

Anyway, thanks for the love. I hope I don't croak from all the excitement.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Time to paint

I don't have time to paint but it has to happen anyway. Here's how.

Over the last few days I've been bookmarking interesting X-rays. I keep looking at them and scratching my head, vetoing one, then another, a couple of times per day when I sit down for a minute. The kids like looking at pictures, so this is an activity I can do with them.

I've finally decided on one and it's time to get started.

Cullen is taking a nap. The girls are having "sibling play time" with Mina's therapist. I took a load of laundry down, grabbed my paints, and brought them up with a basket of clean clothes to be folded. I painted the canvas black. While I wait for that to dry I (quickly answer emails and type this up) will fold the clothes. Then it will probably go on top of the bookshelf until the next time I have a minute, because Mina's almost done for the day and we have to buy school supplies for Leta and replenish our scotch tape cache.

That's all I have time for now!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Freaky Tooth Update

Cullen had his dentist appointment today. We went to a fancy pediatric dentist with movies playing and everything. They said it isn't a secondary tooth but it is a fused tooth. It might have two root systems or it might be siamese style. Either way, they wouldn't do anything about it. He said they see this every day, it's perfectly common, and his permanent teeth will likely be fine.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Question of the day

David McMahon asks, "As a child, were you afraid of the dark?"

I was pretty much afraid of everything.

I mean, I don't know that I was afraid of the dark itself, but I was definitely scared of what might be lurking in the places I couldn't see. I recall laying awake for hours with my eyes wide open. I hated the moment the lights went out and my eyes had not yet adjusted to the dark. I used to wish I had eyes all around my head so I could see in every direction.

I used to stare at the dark window waiting for some monster to appear. I would be covered in sweat but could not take off any of my blankets because they kept me safe.

Every night I was scared out of my mind. And when I did fall asleep I had nightmares. I remember that I would wake up and fall asleep again and have the same nightmare.

When I was an older child I was still scared out of my mind. I would lay in bed and pray for hours.

As a teenager I would just read all night and then fall asleep in school. It drove my mom crazy!

I was happy to have lots of friends who worked second shift when I was a young adult, and would socialize from 11:30pm to 4am.

It took having a baby to reset my body and give me good sleep habits.

My Readers Are Cooler Than Me

My readership always goes way down on the weekends. I know most people do their blog visiting when they are bored at work, but I'm sort of always at work, so weekends are the same as weekdays and I always get disappointed that other people aren't all over the internet on Saturday and Sunday.

Are you having a good weekend? I am.

Yesterday morning we packed up the fam and went to Olbrich Gardens for their Blooming Butterflies attraction. It's the last weekend for it and everyone else made it seem so fun... I don't really like walking around with crowds and tripping over my kids that much, so I guess it wasn't fun for me, but Mina really liked it. She is the bug whisperer and got a butterfly to land on her finger. Leta got really dressed up for it but then confessed that she really thought it would be more fun. She even wore her pearls. At least she wasn't whining. My favorite part was getting custard at Michael's afterward.

Last night we got dressed up and met some friends at Sucre for dessert and drinks. It was really tasty though the minimalist all white thing makes me a little nervous. It's always nice to get out of the house, avec husband, sans children!

Now, lazy Sunday. Coffee, lounging in the "great room", occasionally getting up to redirect Cullen. Depending on how active the wasps are today, I may or may not do some yard work. We have that "prairie" look going on on the side of our house...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

It seems my hip x-ray painting is getting a bit of attention. Maybe I should follow through with that series I was going to do... I should get started on that this weekend.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Unpolished Charm

Hey peeps.

Every now and then I put in a Nirvana CD, thinking, "I doubt I'm in the mood for this," but then after just a few notes I am so glad I did. There aren't that many CDs from the past that I can play all the way through and not skip ahead to the favorite songs, but with Nirvana, they are all pretty much awesome. I don't know why it always surprises me.

I saw the dermatologist today and was scolded for not using the Metrogel every day to prevent flare-ups. I didn't really know what I was supposed to do with the stuff to be honest. I used it almost every day up until a couple of weeks ago. Then I sorta felt silly putting a drug on my skin when my skin is *just fine*. I'm st00pid!

They are going to use lasers on my plantar warts.

Now on with my busy day.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Damrow's Lore ~ "Vern"

Disclaimer: I don't know how much of "Vern's" story is true. He's dead now. I only remember the wild rumors and I've been told that my memory can be a bit inventive at times, too... :)

Vern was a large man with slurred speech and a drooling problem. He was missing most of his fingers on his right hand, yet he insisted on rolling his own cigarettes. The result was a thick brown slime on the formica table consisting of slobber and tobacco. Had he been a sweet man, these things would be forgiven quite easily, but his personality is what made the other setbacks so disgusting. The wait staff was constantly being yelled at by him--they couldn’t understand most of it, but the message was clear between the “goddamn”s and the way he urgently grabbed their arms. Other customers never understood why his abusive behavior was accepted--why he wasn’t kicked out of there or even arrested for disorderly conduct.

That is, until the day Vern didn’t come in. The whole place seemed quiet and restless. Jeff, the schizophrenic dishwasher, sat down for a cigarette break.

“He’s not so bad, you know,” he said as he sparked up his Kool. “Vern. You know, in a lifetime, you come across one or two people who are really special. It’s rare, damnit. Every day people just pass him by like he’s scum.” Jeff exhaled hard and started flicking his ashes where he must have remembered there being an ashtray.

“Did you know he was a concert pianist? Well he was, and goddamn brilliant, too. He made grown men weep, you know. He touched souls. He had a full scholarship at LU but he worked at the mill to support his parents--both drunks by the way. He was in love with a pretty young girl who saw the star in him, and they were engaged. It breaks my heart to think of. Shit, “ he lit another Kool and looked over both shoulders. “One day at the mill he cuts his damn fingers off. Everything over. No concert pianist life, no lovely wife. She couldn’t invest in a man who had no future. Hell, he couldn’t even work at the mill anymore. I saw him a week later and his hair was white. He was a sensitive type, you know, it just crushed him completely. Shit. I never saw anything so damn sad,” Jeff blinked hard as he lit a third cigarette, “He stopped talking, stopped doing anything. It wasn't long before he was committed. So, here we are today, and he’ll never leave that halfway house, everyone knows that. They give him five dollars a week and he gets to come down here and have his cup of coffee. I mean, coming down here and cussing us all out puts a smile on his face, and I don’t mind because I’ll never forget that blank stare he used to have. Truth is it warms our hearts to see him get lively. You know what I mean?"

And with that, Jeff bolted up and was back in the kitchen with his headphones on.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Leta's Drawings

There just aren't as many drawings coming from Leta. She prefers photography, but I really think her drawings have something special about them, too.

Mina's Drawings

The Panama Hat Years

Now -

Thanks Shannon!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Damrow's Restaurant

Damrow's was the greasiest spoon there ever was. I always said that if I ever wrote a book, I would devote a chapter to Damrow's.

It always reminded me of an old train car, the way the tall, wooden booths lined the walls of the long, narrow restaurant. On the wall next to each booth was a large black and white photograph of Appleton in the old days and all around them were mirrors. (I always remember mirrors because I'm SO VAIN.)

The lamps hanging above the booths were crazy looking gourd shaped things full of holes, and the way the light shined through highlighting the thick smoke was just one of the many things I loved about the place. I used to blow my smoke in the direction of the gourd just to see the magic happen.

The table tops were mustard yellow Formica and were always covered with tobacco and ashes, and depending on who was sitting there, even saliva. (Ewww!)

A bottomless cup of coffee was fifty-eight cents and, depending on the mood of the wait staff, you could “get it yourself”.

Most of the Damrow's characters sat one to a booth and they all had some remarkable tragic story to tell. I remember a few, and as each year passes I remember less and less. I remember LaVerne, Janice & Jerry, Charles the Florist and his pals, Pearl, Joey, and probably a handful more if I think a while.

I felt safe and content at Damrow's, people watching and chain-smoking. It was warm and sort of festive in a nursing home party way. I spent hours there every day, chatting with friends, writing and reading. I filled a few notebooks sitting there. I believe I even met my husband there.

It's gone now. It's been gone for more than ten years. Many of the patrons are dead. Google searches come up empty. I loved it and it's in danger of being forgotten.

Anyway, I just wanted to write this and put it out there, in case anyone else out there was googling "Damrow's Appleton WI"... instead of nothing may they see that someone else remembers.

Out of Shape

I ran out of steam for running when it started getting hot out. Three times per week turned into once per week, and then every two weeks, and now I believe it has been nearly a month. Sad.

This morning I vowed to get back in the saddle and went on the most lame run ever. I mean it was pretty much back to square one, with the running and walking and running and walking... I found I could only do a few minutes at a time before getting totally out of breath and feeling like I would pass out.

I think what I need to do is figure out a schedule and stick to it. That sounds simple, doesn't it?

Jason biked to Lake Mills yesterday. He's my hero. If he did that once a week I think he'd be a smokin' hot babe by the end of the summer. I mean, hotter than he is now. I can't let him be the hot one!

In other news, the girls have been at the neighbor's for an hour. I'm nervous about it. Things have been so... tempestuous around here. What if the neighbors say they can never come over again because they were fighting? I think I'm going to rinse off and then go get them for lunch...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Having a good weekend?

I am... It's nice to have no plans whatsoever. It's also kind of boring. Luckily, things are never REALLY boring around here.

Last night I watched Boston Legal with my sweetie. I'd like to be watching it right now but he insists that wrestling is really fun to watch.

This morning Mina was DRY. It was pretty exciting, even though I had to wake her up at 11 to go to the bathroom last night and again this morning. She was really crabby and mean to Leta, and then she was mad because I ate her cereal even though she would not eat it, and I was thankful that she had therapy this morning and that I was off to donate blood.

Ooh, I got the ok to watch Boston Legal.

Every time I have ever had blood drawn for any reason it's been from my right arm. Maybe not EVERY time, but I really can't think of a time when I've given with my left. Well, that all changed today. The woman took a look at my arms and determined that leftie had a niiiiice vein. She was practically drooling over it. Unfortunately it didn't feel so nice when she inserted the needle, the whole time I was hooked up, and for about an hour afterward. It wasn't terrible, it just stung when I'm not used to feeling needles so much.

Afterward, I made tater tots and scrambled eggs and then took the girls SCHOOL SUPPLY SHOPPING! I was there at shopko with the other moms pulling my hair out over the lack of twelve packs of No. 2 pencils, lamenting the dry erase marker situation... It felt like initiation into some club. Mina was horribly indecisive about which backpack to get. She knew what she DIDN'T want... Which was ALL OF THEM because she didn't want one that was too big, too small, too babyish, too grown up...

I guess that's kind of where she is. Not big, not small, not a baby, not a grown up... **Goes off to cry instead of finishing this**