Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yes I can....

devastatingly alter my daughter's favorite thing....verging on best friend.

It hasn't even been a week since my last post which mentioned my fear of causing pain in my children's lives and I've already messed up big time. Prior to Mimzy, I didn't understand the bond that can exist between human and stuffed animal. I may have scoffed or even laughed at a such a post lamenting the gross disfigurement of an animal of the fake variety. I don't remember owning a stuffed animal and even made fun of some of my friends who collected them. But because I know how much Emmy loves her, I love her too.

Emmy received Mimzy more than 4 years ago for her 5th birthday. Since then, she has only suffered through 9 nights without her arms wrapped around and cheek resting next to or on her. I know it was exactly 9 nights because these 9 occasions did not pass without hiccuping tears. Mimzy has also been Emmy's companion during any movie promising even the slightest hint of scariness.

Due to the fact that Mimzy has been so well loved, cuddled and slobbered on, she has required washing every few months. Until today, she has always emerged from the dryer a new and improved Mimzy....always a little whiter, fluffier, and smelling like a Mountain Fresh Tide. Emmy had been requesting me to wash her for several days and today, pleased with myself for remembering, placed her in the washer with my load of whites.

I caught Mimzy staring at me (in hindsight, she was more likely pleading with me to free her from the infernal rotating chamber) during a lull in the spin cycle and I jokingly mentioned to Emmy that I thought Mimzy looked a little sad in there. When I emancipated her from the wash and began the transfer to the dryer, I could tell instantly that Mimzy was indeed sad, for her innards and her outards had been cooked. In my rush to do nothing but rush through my dreaded chores, I had switched my load of whites to Sanitize, which apparently means that the bacteria, odors, microscopic animal life and stuffed animal 'life' will be subjected to unsurvivable hot temperatures. Her stuffing had shrunk to an undetectable size and Mimzy appeared to have been gutted. Her long, luscious coat of fine fur was now shriveled, matted, and tight. My heart became shriveled and tight. I longed, just like Cher (this is the only time I will admit to sharing any emotion with Cher), to turn back time....and turn that dial a few clicks to the the delicate cycle.

A friend was over and I knew I had to wait to show Emmy what I had done. I sat and sulked for the next hour wondering how I could switch myself to delicate cycle in order to ease Emmy's pain....knowing at some level that this was one of those times that I really couldn't do anything but be by her side. When the friend left, I led Emmy into the laundry room. Desperate, deep, and choking sobs erupted and lasted for a few hours. I sat her down on the couch, held her, and cried a little myself. I had a Deja Vu moment remembering a time my mother had held me while I sobbed into her lap. I was much older (yeah, older than 20) and I don't remember much of what she said. I just remember her being there. And that was all that she could do. And it was all I needed.

Mimzy looks a little better since she underwent a complete stuffing transfusion. She is now stuffed with recycled bamboo(seriously softer than polyester) and is now more environmentally preserved. Her outsides aren't as soft and fluffy, but her insides are green and earth friendly. I foresee that Mimzy's scrunched and wrinkled appearance will becoming endearing to Emmy. This refiners fire experience that Mimzy and Emmy have been through will hopefully help them be more understanding and empathetic to the plights of others. I have even had the urge to tell the rabbit all my troubles. Its been that kind of day.

One day later and Emmy seemed to have recovered from yesterday's accident. She participated in the jump rope fundraiser for the American Heart Association. I watched her do her tricks for 45 minutes and she would have kept going if I didn't make her leave. Her heart has been tested in more ways than one the past few days. I am proud of her. She is stronger than she knows.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Savanna is Eleven and I am too

I started keeping a journal right after I turned eleven. It isn't because my life suddenly became filled with exciting adventures and excursions that were aching to be documented. On the contrary, I think this is when I began dealing with some emotional upheavals that I didn't quite know how to handle. My feet were growing too fast, our move across the country was quickly becoming a reality, older siblings were distancing themselves, and I finally came to the stark realization that sharing one bathroom with ten other people was a bit of a nuisance. These were some external factors that could explain my inner turmoil, but I suspect the reality is that this is just about the age when the hormones began to gather on my side of the fence. No amount of skipping or blowing dandelions could keep them at bay. Skipping just wasn't that cool anymore and I was too awkward in my body to stoop down and pick the bursting dandelions.

The past 11 years, I have relived the wonder of childhood through my growing children and it has been like opening my favorite gift over and over again without losing any of the joy and revelation of its first appearance. The dangers I need to protect my young ones from are well-marked. Buckle them in proper child safety seats, take them to story time at the library, feed them vegetables, don't let them put plastic bags on their heads or balloons in their mouths, keep them out of the toilet.... basically keep my eye on them every second of the day. It has been exhausting, but at the end of the day I could fall asleep with the satisfaction that I managed fairly well at keeping them alive and entertained (minus some bad falls and average parental stupidity).

Of course, rational reasoning would forewarn that I would also be revisiting the angst and discomfort of becoming a teenager. I must suffer somewhat from PTSD (Post teen stress disorder) because the hefty lumps I often felt in the pit of my stomach as a teen-ager have been haunting me whenever I watch Savanna throw her backpack down after school and bee-line it to the sanctuary of her room. I feel helpless. I am now a sentinel of perils intangible and inevitable. And now at the end of the day, her body is intact, but I am completely unaware of how her heart is faring. And more than once, I have had the sinking sensation that I may be her number one enemy and that she requires refuge from nothing but myself and the tendency I have of weighing her down with my own insecurities. Not much of a birthday present, is it? I have recognized that Savanna has a strong sense of self-efficacy that I lack. This motivates her to do the things of which she is most passionate, regardless of whether or not mainstream Tween-age-Dom approves. I hope this strength will provide an anchor during the hormonal storms that are sure to wreak havoc on her world.
Enough of the yearning epistle of a vulnerable mother. I love you, Savanna and hope that you will forgive me for all the things I will do to drive you crazy in the years to come.
Happy Birthday
Savanna had the confidence to refrain from less preferable traditions and requested a popcorn cream puff birthday cake. It may not have been pretty, but it was easy and everyone was happy.
Her breakfast of choice was Belgian Waffles, boysenberry syrup and whipped cream. In this respect, we are exactly alike.
Her biggest surprise was a new camera which has created yet another artistic medium for her amazing eye for beauty and detail.
She loves penguins and my sister, Elizabeth, who was able to come from Pullman with her family, MADE this stuffed penguin. Sheesh, I didn't even make the cake. I NEVER compare myself to my sister (wishful thinking).
A signed copy of Pillage by Obert Skye. We are so happy that she hadn't asked for a signed Hannah Montana poster.
A week later, Savanna celebrated her birthday with her friends by seeing the movie, Coraline, going out for pizza, enjoying hot fudge Sundaes, and having a sleep-over.

What these girls don't know is that the party planner, photographer, and chauffer is deathly ill and about to keel over. In return for my sacrifice, I will expect a rockin 79th birthday party.
Isn't this cake beautiful? Can you believe I managed to make a cake when I felt so awful? I know, I amaze myself too sometimes.

What the ? Oh, this is just a frosted cake pan. Guess I'm not that amazing after all. Martha S. would be appalled. The girls didn't care. They just wanted ice cream anyway. Maria (in the photo) was a little upset because Corey had offered her $10 if she could eat the whole cake. She absolutely would have done it if it wasn't 80% tin.

A product of Savanna's self-efficacy

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Trashy Post

I try to blog once a week.  It was Savanna's birthday last week and I have been too sick to compose a post worthy of her day.  So until I can recover enough to concentrate for more than 30 seconds at a time,  I thought I'd share a photo of just one of the many many snirt (snow + dirt) piles that I frequent on my way through town.  I am looking forward to eating watermelon on it's peak on the 4th of July.  Just trying to be optimistic. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Doing Slope

I am not even sure if I knew what skiing was when I was four years old. We used to take cookie sheets from the kitchen to cruise down our backyard beginner's' run located in southern New York. I remember once struggling to stand up on the cookie sheet while sliding down. I consider this a legitimate tally of my first and only attempt at snowboarding, or more accurately labeled "snow-sheeting." A few years later we moved to Utah and my awareness of the sport of skiing increased dramatically. The main fact I quickly digested was that we couldn't afford it. What more did I need to know?

In high school, I finally mustered the financial guts to blow a good portion of my savings on a day of skiing at Sundance, the resort located 10 miles from my driveway. The larger portion of the day was spent ever so ungracefully planting my face into the snow. And while I was literally falling head over heels in deep snow, I was simultaneously falling in deep love with this skiing thing.

The money that I earned at my high school job at Burger King was tainted with so much dread and grease, that I couldn't bring myself to splurge on the alpine slopes again. I started cross-country skiing which was mountains more affordable (free, with borrowed skies...I'm forever grateful Melissa). I loved it and still love cross-country skiing when I want quiet introspective snow time or a steady workout. But it didn't quite give me the fix that I was jonesin for.

It wasn't until I was in college when I was able to purchase a student ski pass for $135 and some used skis and boots for $150 that I could really sink my teeth into the sport adequately enough to get my clumsy teeth out of the snow. I skied every free moment that I could spare, graciously accepted much needed advice from instructor friends, and only needed to be tobogganed down the mountain once.

Emmy first skied when she was 5. She had a few lessons at Red Mountain in Canada and took off without hesitation. Later that season I was able to spend a few unforgettable hours night-skiing with her. Snowflakes were drifting down and pausing on our coat sleeves long enough for us to identify the unique personality of each flake. It wasn't too cold, the moon was illuminating the skies, and Emmy was young enough that she still lacked the reservation that currently inhibits her full emotional disclosure. "This is so beautiful! I can't believe that there are so many people who don't know how beautiful this is. It is like magic." She had yet to start her speech therapy, so it was really like this, "Dis is so bootiful. I tan't believe dat deough are so many people who don't know how bootiful dis is."

It was so great to share that moment with her and have her recognize how fortunate she was to be there.

Ansel started skiing when he was 3. His first lesson would have been a huge waste of time and money if we didn't get such a kick out of watching the fruitless attempts of the tongue-pierced instructor to get Ansel to stop eating the snow and stand up. He just needed a few weeks to mature. The next time we went, we were prepared. Corey taught him, with a little help from the Lucky Bum Ski Harness Trainer and some tip connectors. I declare only a few things more adorable than a little kid learning to hedgehogs and mini-cheeses are among the few. I am proud of and somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the adult one-pieced suit beginners. But they are in no way, shape, or form close to being adorable.

Ansel and I went with our friends, Kathryn and Taylor, up to Mt. Spokane last Friday. We had another unforgettable adventure, despite one unfortunate chairlift maneuver. Ansel failed to disembark at the specified moment resulting in an abrupt fall when I had to pull him off before he rotated on his own back down the mountain. Luckily, it didn't take long for the excitement of the skiing to swallow the terror of the chairlift.

That night when Ansel was falling asleep, he yawned, "Mom, I had a good day."

"I had a good day too, Ansel. Thanks for coming with me" I whispered in return.

2 out of 3 of my kids love skiing and I believe that they have an awareness of this opportunity, not only to ski, but to spend quality time with a parent. I, too, have an acute sense of the nature of my good fortune in being able to spend this time with my children. I wish I could gather it, hoard it, beg for it, bottle it, seal it, and save it for those rainy teen-aged dazes when they won't want to have anything to do with me. On one of these days, I would rub the dust off a jar labeled, "quality time with my mother" and serve it to them for breakfast. It would be the sweetest thing we have ever tasted since we had the fresh stuff. Until that quickly approaching day, I will enjoy the fresh stuff while I can still get my hands on it.

And maybe I will send them outside with our cookie sheets. We have the potential for a Blue Diamond run in our back yard, with a few good jumps. They need to know what they have been missing....the "snow sheeting", that is.

Ansel and Taylor having fun in the Lodge