Saturday, June 30, 2007
When I returned home from work, Abe was hanging out with my 10-year-old niece, Arielle, with whom he shares a mad passion for Sponge Bob Square Pants. The afternoon passed quickly and, about a half an hour before we were supposed to go, Abraham asked me, "So. Are we eating on our date tonight?" I, incredulous, as I had been planning on this event ALL DAY LONG, thinking with longing about the sweet shredded meat, the burn of the jalapenos, the chewiness of the bread, nevertheless answered with patience: "Yes. Yes we are." "OK," replied Abraham.
And then, NOT TWENTY MINUTES LATER, I went downstairs to inform Abraham that it was time to go.
"Go?" he asked, looking up from the television screen.
"Yes," I said. "On our date."
"Oh," he replied, "I forgot." It was then that I noticed that he was snorfling down mass quantities of chocolate chip cookies and milk.
"Are you still going to be hungry for Los Panchos?" I asked.
"Ummm," he said.
And it was then that I realized that all was ruined. That I would not be sharing tortas with my sweetheart on this, the hallowed night of our date. And I began grieving.
At first I thought that perhaps tortas would still work out for us after all. Surely no one could be so full as to not want to eat a torta as well. It had just been cookies and milk, right? We could still go to Los Panchos. All was not lost. So I swallowed my rebukes as we drove Arielle and Soren over to the Smith's.
Then, as we began our drive into Idaho Falls, it came out that Abraham had also eaten two sandwiches and was really, truly, not at all hungry.
"How in the WORLD," I stormed, emphasizing the last word of each phrase, "Could you possibly FORGET, in five MINUTES, no LESS -- right after I TOLD YOU -- that we had PLANS for DINNER?"
"I don't know," said Abe, meekly. "I just did."
"You don't KNOW?" I countered. "You JUST DID?"
"Yeah," he said. Then added, foolishly, "I don't know why you're making such a big deal out of this."
"You don't know WHY I'm making such a big deal out of this? You DON'T KNOW WHY I'M MAKING SUCH A BIG DEAL OUT OF THIS? How could you be so stupid?"
"Don't say that I'm stupid."
"This is all your mother's fault, you know," I continued.
"Leave my mother out of this."
"Well IT IS," I said. "Letting all of you DISRESPECT food, READING while you ate, silently scarfing down mass quantities of bland things like pancakes and pasta, meal after meal after meal. No WONDER you don't understand the significance of a good meal shared with loved ones."**
"I'm sorry that we were poor," snapped Abraham.
"Poverty has nothing to do with this!" I returned. "And really, this has less to do with your upbringing and more to do with the fact that you were just plain DUMB. How could you be so THICK as to FORGET that we were going to have TORTAS tonight?"
"Well, fine!" I finally decided. "I'll just enjoy some delicious Torta goodness while you watch!"
"OK," said Abraham.
But then I contemplated this possibility and it felt very bleak. I imagined us sitting in a corner of the restaurant, the only two gringos, waiting for twenty minutes while the cooks at Los Panchos prepared a lone torta. I imagined eating it while upset and Abraham looked on in silence. I simply couldn't desecrate such a sacred food item with anger.
"Never mind," I said, "I don't want a torta after all."
Instead, I decided to eat a sandwich at Subway. We pulled into the parking lot and Abe, ever kind and patient, asked, "Do you want to go in?"
"No," I told him snottily, "I want to eat it while I'm driving so it's like I'm not even eating anything at all."
Abe sighed. I pulled into the drive through and ordered.
"I'd like a sweet onion teriyaki meal," I told the girl.
"OK," she said, "That'll be $4.15 at the window."
$4.15 was certainly more than the $2.50 torta I had planned on having, but I figured the tall accompanying pink lemonade and bag of baked lays that accompanied my sandwich would somewhat make up for the price difference.
But at the window, I forked over my money and the girl handed me a sandwich, and the window was quickly closed behind it. I waited for a minute. But the "meal" portion of my order never appeared. No lemonade. No baked lays. The girls inside bustled around, ignoring me and my lemonade-less plight outside the window. I thought about pounding on the window and demanding my rights, but I was worried there might be hair pulling and spitting involved, so I finally gave up, drove into a parking spot, put my head on the steering wheel, and silently mourned. Abraham sat nearby, also in silence, though he told me later he was seriously contemplating getting out of the car and running away.
After several minutes of silence, I finally forced myself to take a bite out of the sandwich. Then another. Then another. I pulled back onto the highway and we made our way silently down 17th street while I consumed the sandwich in a very black state of mind.
But my blood sugar levels finally climbed back to a normal place, and I started feeling happy enough to sing along with the radio. We arrived at Wal-Mart and began shopping for a new hair cutting kit for Abraham, where I began to feel somewhat sheepish about all that had transpired. Standing in an aisle in Wal-Mart, I told Abe: "I'm sorry. And I didn't mean what I said about your mother."
It took him a minute. A long minute, while he stared long and hard at a hair-blower display.
Then he hugged me.
As we walked off toward the shoe department, I told him, "OK. It's time for you to say sorry too."
**It should be noted here that I (1) Frequently read while eating and (2) Enjoy mass quantities of plain foods, such as pancakes, pasta, etc. Also, I love my mother-in-law.
Soren and I walked across the street to Dewey's house to set up the new remote, where we discovered there were no batteries to make it run. I told Dewey we would get some from home and return shortly, but Dewey, who recently held Soren for the first time, declared that "Bill" (he can't remember Soren's real name) was "too fat" for me to carry across the street and back. He said, "I'll hold him while you're gone." Soren and I visit frequently, and Soren feels fairly comfortable with this loud, bearded, smelly old man, and I decided it would be all right to leave him there for a minute. I plopped him on Dewey's lap, kissed him multiple times, promised I'd be back soon. I ran home and when I returned was relieved to find Soren happily reclining on Dewey's lap.
"Oh good," I said. "He's looking quite content."
"Bill likes cookies," Dewey replied.
Then I got nervous.
And, upon further inspection, I discovered that, surely enough, Soren was gnawing on a pink sugar wafer.
The cookie was taken away, Soren cried, and Dewey was chastised for irresponsible behavior.
"The cookie felt good on his gums," Dewey countered.
I couldn't really say much about that. He would know: he doesn't have teeth either.
I think Soren won't be spending much more alone time with his Great Uncle.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
"Find out my secrets for looking younger."
"Eliminate unsightly cellulite in JUST 3 DAYS!"
"The Way You Eat Now Is Destroying Your Efforts To Keep Your Body fat In the 'Jaw Dropping' Swimsuit Range!"
The above are actual advertising slogans I've had the misfortune of encountering while innocently going about my own business throughout the past several days. And you all will attest that you've seen similar ones nearly every single day of your lives, that you've read them since you knew how to read, and that you've internalized them, despite your best efforts to resist. They're posted on billboards, they're printed in newspapers, they're flashed across television screens. They're usually accompanied by "before" and "after" pictures that leave you feeling bleak, as your own body almost inevitably more closely resembles "before" than it does "after." And while you may not be persuaded to buy the advertisement's product, you almost certainly have been persuaded to believe in the advertisement's underlying message: "There is something terribly, terribly shameful about the way your body looks."
What has caused Americans to become so afraid of their own bodies? Afraid of things that are NORMAL and NOT AT ALL SHAMEFUL? We pride ourselves on skepticism but often fail to think critically about our more subtly ingrained beliefs. It's easy to say, "I'm not sure I believe in God," because people everywhere are saying, quite explicitly, "You need to believe in God." But, because advertisers very cleverly make implicit the beliefs they peddle, we forget to say, "I'm not sure I believe that the cellulite on my legs is hideous and embarrassing." We just think, "Oh my gosh. I've got cellulite. It's hideous. Where can I find some shorts to wear with my swimsuit?"
So I've got some stretch marks. Is it shameful to have grown? Is it shameful to have borne a baby?
And yes, I've got some body fat that undulates in a lovely rolling fashion across my belly. And do you know what that means? It means I like to eat. Is there anything wrong with that? No. It's actually a really good survival mechanism. You don't eat, you don't live. You stock up, you survive the next famine.
Wrinkles are a result of smiling, of worrying, of spending time in the sun, of laughing, of living a few years and figuring out a couple things. Nothing shameful there.
And one certainly shouldn't be embarrassed of having committed the sin of having a circulatory system that makes one prone to varicose veins.
If your varicose veins are hurting, get 'em fixed. If you can't walk up a flight of stairs without losing your breath, consider dropping some pounds. But don't HATE YOURSELF. Don't writhe in agony every time one of your marks of life makes a public appearance. Don't be embarrassed of having used your face to express yourself over a period of years.
Imagine...wearing your swimsuit with fat rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, and varicose veins protruding every which way...and not even giving it a thought. Imagine feeling ashamed of things actually worth feeling shame over: cruelty, snottiness, pride, gossip, self-centeredness, selfishness, ignorance.
I wish there was some way to reprogram the public consciousness, to tear our focus away from the shallow and plunk it firmly onto the meaningful. But that's an awful lot of reprogramming. And truth be told, even though I KNOW it's wrong, I'm still going to feel somewhat embarrassed when I put on my swimming suit this year. I've purchased one that will cover as much skin as possible (selected not so much out of a sense of modesty as out of a fear of ridicule) but even with a lot of coverage, I'll remain keenly aware of my white, white skin and my untoned thighs, though I'll try as hard as I can to pretend that I'm not.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
"Oh yeah?" challenged she, "Then what is his best picture ever?"
There are several. For example,
Abe striking a pose that would put even Derek Zoolander to shame.
Abe the beach babe.
The beach babe throws a frisbee.
Abe the sexy hick babe.
Abe getting his hair
You'll note that these are all from last summer, when Abe was in his infancy as an Idahoan. I would now like to present to you the New Abe Who is Now Nearly Wholly Idahoan, At Least In Looks:
To the left is my brother-in-law Marty, also a good looking fellow, but a native Idahoan, born and raised. To the right? My sweetheart. Notice the similarities. He is now virtually indistinguishable from any other gun-wieldin', Republican-votin', potato-diggin' true blue Idaho Russet.
And I think he's pretty dang good lookin'.
Monday, June 18, 2007
First of all, before I complain, I shall post a really, really ridiculously cute picture of my baby.
I just want to get some worries out on paper so that I can stop churning them around in my mind:
I think I must produce bad milk. Soren seems to have 5 stomachaches a day. Also, he spits up a lot. I occasionally think about switching to formula so that I won't poison him anymore with my horrible poisonous breastmilk.
I let Soren cry himself to sleep tonight. He only cried for 20 minutes, but it was a very long 20 minutes and I felt like a horrible louse. But he seems to have discovered recently that he gets to stay up later if he cries when I put him in his bed. And that's no good. I gave him a massage, I played him Enya, I read him a story, I swaddled him, I rocked him, and I put him in bed. And then he cried. And I let him. This doesn't make me a bad mother, does it? This won't cause him permanent psychological damage, will it? I'm also planning on letting him cry if he wakes up in the middle of the night. The child weighs 20 pounds. Surely he can sleep for twelve hours? Or will he waste away? Will he fail to thrive? Will our mother-son bond be broken forever?
Along these lines, my little guy has been quite cranky as of late. If things don't go JUST HIS WAY, he lets me know. Loudly and with passion. Many times a day. He's a little young for the terrible 2s, but sometimes I feel like I'm living with an onery little preschooler. And I worry and worry. I worry that I'm not filling his needs; I worry that I'll be encouraging whining if I do whatever I can to make him stop crying. I wonder if he needs to be held more often; I contemplate the possibility that he needs more opportunity for independent play. I think perhaps he's understimulated; I wonder if I've overstimulated him.
And now, as I type, an hour after he finally stopped crying and went to sleep, my baby is crying again. And now I'm faced with the awful dilemma: To go comfort him? Or make him go to sleep by himself? He sounds so sad. And I wonder if something's hurting, or if he's got a dirty diaper, or if he's terribly hungry. Maybe I should go feed him.
OK, I'm back. I lifted my baby out of his crib and kissed his salty tear-stained cheeks and smelled his beautiful baby smell and nursed him until he was limp in my arms. There's a red scratch on his cheek that he must have inflicted himself while flailing his arms around. (It's really difficult to clip his nails, so they become clawlike at times.) Now I feel really awful. I just don't think I have the stomach for this if there are other alternatives. Perhaps I will go to Amazon.com and order "The No Cry Sleep Solution."
Nobody ever told me how hard being a mom would be. Probably because it is impossible to express in a way that an inexperienced person would understand. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just me that finds it to be the most excruciatingly difficult thing I have ever done in my life. Give me 48 hours of labor any old day. That's a cakewalk compared to being a 24/7 Mom. Here I am, the owner of a hand the rocks the cradle and therefore the world, and I feel so inadequate to the task. This is part of the reason I hide in an office for several hours of a week. I'm good at organizing and counting and compartmentalizing. It's very straightforward. Nobody's emotional health hangs on the decisions I make at work. I just keep the books and do a darn good job at it. It's a heady release from my other job, my real job, the one in which there are no straight answers, from which there are no real breaks, and from which spring very real, perhaps even eternal, consequences.
What was I doing ten years ago?
Babysitting my two Japanese cousins from across the street for ridiculously long hours (sometimes 12 + a day) for little pay (about $150/month). Running three miles a day.
What was I doing one year ago?
Just beginning my job as the office manager at the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Intervention Center, being trained by an extremely impatient Christian fundamentalist who liked animals more than I deem natural.
Five snacks I enjoy:
Five songs I know all the words to:
-"If Everyone Cared" by Nickleback (Yes, I am ashamed of this.)
-"I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan.
-"I Am a Child of God"
-"I Am Overcome," by Live.
-"Cowboy, Take Me Away," by the Dixie Chicks.
Five things I would do if I were a millionaire?
-Buy a house.
-Hire a nighttime nanny.
-Spend a summer in Europe.
-Give a $20.00 bill to every bum that asked for some spare change.
Five of my Many bad habits:
-Counting compulsively. I don't count anything, per se, I just count. Up. Sometimes by weird things like 9s, or 13s, or 18s. Other times by 1s. Usually in in the thousands. But I'm almost always counting.
-Mild cussing. Yes, everybody, I cuss. I cuss! There are certainly worse things I could do, so BACK OFF. I don't want to hear it.
-Thinking that I know what other people are thinking.
-Hitting the snooze button.
-Second guessing myself.
Five things I like doing:
-Reading: blogs, books, e-mail, shampoo bottles, parenting magazines...
-Being drooled on by my very handsome baby.
-Snuggling my schmooshalie.
Five things I will never wear again:
-A short-sleeved t-shirt with sleeves so long they cover my elbows.
-Shoes that aren't extremely comfortable for walking.
-Shorts that stop above the knee. Sigh.
-My wedding gown.
Five of my Favorite toys:
-Excel (I'm with you on this one, Ginger.)
-My stuffed Ernie doll (no, wait, that's Soren.)
I now tag everybody reading this! Bwah hah hah hah!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
So on Monday, after spending two joyous hours picking out food from the shelves of our favorite supermarket (our first trip to WinCo in at least three weeks!) a whirlwind hit our house. Accompany Aunt Sandra and Uncle Bob were their daughter, Melissa, who lives in Sugar City, and her four youngest children. The children tore in, ran about, went outside, came back in. They ate some crackers and cheese and drank purple grape juice without spilling it on the carpet. The littlest one attempted to bite Soren's foot. The next littlest one poked and prodded my son in various ways, making his Nana very nervous-- which made ME very nervous. Would he, too, attempt to make a meal out of my little boy? The adults sat around and chatted as much as was possible amidst fearful glances and warnings cast toward unruly younglings. Aunt Sandra took many pictures and the whirlwind moved on, to Sam's Club and then beyond.
Here's a photo of Sandra holding Soren. "This will just make Brenda so green!" she exulted.
The quality of the photo is poor. This was my fault. Poor lighting, I suppose. Soren was a little uncertain about this new lady, so Sandra is attempting to entertain him with my mom's "Visiting Teaching: Do it/Done" magnet.
On Wednesday I went visiting teaching for the last time with my dear visiting teaching companion, Joyce Hall. She is moving to Blackfoot and I will miss her terribly. She's been a wonderful companion. When we finished visiting our ladies, I swung by our house to pick up Abe so we could drive up to the Stake Center and have interviews to renew our temple recommends. Soren was in bed, but his grandma and grandpa were nowhere to be found, which meant we weren't going anywhere with just each other. We really wanted to get those interviews done, however, so I ran out to the car and asked Joyce if she would sit in our home and listen for Soren on the baby monitor while we drove to Shelley, met with the stake presidency, and drove back. Joyce agreed, so I brought her in, showed her the monitor, and bade farewell. The poor dear. She has a hearing problem and was terrified that she wouldn't hear Soren on the monitor if he woke up, so she went downstairs and sat, among a lot of dirty shoes, in the hallway outside his bedroom door. And of COURSE he woke up. And of COURSE when she came in to pick him up he freaked out because she was a stranger. Poor Joycey had to hold my inconsolably loud baby until my parents came home. Fortunately, it was only about five minutes. But five minutes can be a very very long time when you are holding a screaming child. Sigh.
For our date on Friday, Abraham and I went to see "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" at the temple visitor's center. Abe's mother told him he should go see it months and months ago and we finally did. And, as moms are apt to be, she was right about the film. It was extremely well done. I had heard the stories but never really felt the sacrifices that Joseph (and Emma!) made to bring about the restoration of the gospel. It really gave me a lot of food for thought.
Saturday was a day of bad mothering.
Friday night I fell asleep with the perfect plan for the following day. It was to be a day full of noble acts. I was going to wake up, spend some hours in the office while Soren happily played on a blanket on the floor. Then I was going to come home, clean the house, then journey across the street to my Uncle Dewey's house to give him a much needed haircut and beard trim and also clean his house. I was then going to reward myself with a pedicure a la my dear friend Ressa. All the while Soren would be in tow, happily playing and gurgling and taking naps.
Unfortunately, Soren (and his stomach) had other plans. We woke up, bathed, and drove to the office. I sat my child on the afore-mentioned blanket, retrieved the money to be deposited that week, and turned on my computer.
Soren began to fuss.
"You need a nap," I told him, wrapping him up and popping a binky in his mouth. He began to scream. "Just go to sleep!" I said, rocking him in my office chair. He continued to scream. "I'm trying to get some work done, child!" I told him, laying him down in his seat and letting him scream while I sorted through cash and checks. He wriggled and writhed and screamed and thrashed. I picked him up and tried to nurse him while I created a spreadsheet. He would have nothing of eating. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't sleep, he wouldn't be placated by a toy. And it made me mad. After several minutes of impatiently trying to calm my child so he would Be Quiet and Let Me Get Important Things Done, I called Abe in tears and begged him to come watch Soren while I worked. So Abe dropped what he was doing, drove to town in my parents' hideous and filthy van, and rocked Soren to sleep. I completed my work and we returned home.
Back at the home front, Abe asked me to give him a haircut. I sat Soren down on a blanket, got out the clippers, and began to shave Abe's head. Soren again began to fuss. I tried giving him a toy. This did not please him. I tried wrapping him up and putting him down for a nap. This only made him angry. I tried to nurse him. He gagged and coughed and shook his little fists and proclaimed his rage in a loud voice. So for the second time that day, I laid him down and left while he screamed. I finished cutting Abe's hair, brushed the excess hair off my clothes, and then retrieved my upset child from his crib, holding him and singing him songs until Abraham came and put him down for a nap. His nap lasted approximately 15 minutes. The MOMENT Abe left for work, he woke up and began crying again. I was at my wit's end: tired, cranky, and most of all, thwarted. I was home alone and beginning to feel desperate, so I called my friend Nicholas, who came over with two Capri Suns -- "liquid happiness," he called it-- and helped me load up Soren for a walk. We rambled down to the cemetery, where we discovered piles of flowers near the garbage ("God put these flowers here to make you happy," declared Nick), which we raided, loading the stroller to capacity with silken colors.
This is Nicholas pushing our stroller full of flowers. He would probably want me to remark here that he is NOT gay. Just happy. (Editor's note, circa 2010: after years of vehement denials, Nick did finally come out of the closet...)
And this is Soren posing with our ill-gotten graveyard stash.
Later that afternoon little Sorenito projectile vomited multiple times and created an enormous diaperful of orange poo. I remarked that he had experienced carrots for the first time the day previous and wondered aloud if perhaps that might have been the cause of his sour mood. "These are the ramifications of carrots," said Nick. We decided that a book should be written by the same title: "The Ramifications of Carrots: A Memoir."
I felt like a wretch and a horrible mother all day long. And when I finally sat down to contemplate the problem, I realized that I had woken up that day with the idea that I was Rachel Skousen, Person Who Does Things and Accomplishes Stuff. I SHOULD have woken up with the idea that I was Rachel Skousen, Mom of Soren Skousen, Who Needs Things and Who is a Big Accomplishment That Doesn't Always Seem Like One at the Time.
An adorable shot of The Big Accomplishment That Doesn't Always Seem Like One at the Time.
Anyway, this week also marked the beginning of a new church calling for me. I'm the ward Laurel's Advisor, which means I'll be teaching the 16-and-17-year-old girls in the ward. I'm pretty pumped about the whole thing. Tonight I'll be attending a daddy-daughter date luau. Hawaiian Haystacks will be served.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
We're BACK! Since my last post, we've both graduated from college, gotten pregnant (for reals this time), had a baby, and reared him to the age of 5 months. After an uncomfortably long bout of unemployment, Abe's had jobs a Wal-Mart (the worst two weeks of his life, I believe), Barnes and Noble (better, but not quite what a college grad is looking for), and finally at Harbor House, a home for drug-and-alcohol addicted adolescents. I've been working at the (take a deep breath before reading this out loud) Family Violence and Sexual Assault Intervention Center, as a full time Office Manager-turned part-time secretary-turned even-more-part-time bookkeeper.
So why have I returned to blogging after so long a silence? The reason has a name. And his name is Soren. Our baby is so ridiculously cute I can't help but show him off. Although as I'm typing this, a sudden wave of paranoia just washed over me. Working where I do, I encounter lots of creepo-stalking scenarios that tend to make one a little more cautious about displaying a great deal of personal information on the world wide web. I wonder if there is some way to make it so no one can see this except people I know and love.
Nevertheless, the pride of a new parent is more powerful than paranoia, and I shall continue, onward and upward, in the reporting our family's latest news, which is....
Soren's First Camping Trip
Our little kiddo is apparently a born outdoors man (baby?), as he slept just fine in a tent with his mom and dad. After hearing multiple horror stories about sleepless nights with screaming babies who did NOT camp well, this mother was greatly relieved to find that her son was not going to force her to join the ranks of the Walking Dead Campers.
Here are some pictures of Soren from our outdoor adventure:
...carrying on a longstanding family tradition of playing games of luck while gathered around the table in Mom and Dad's camper.
(Here, we are pictured throwing the dice in a rousing game of "Zonk." My niece Arielle is wearing the red hat. My mom is sitting beside her. Coloring in the background is Arielle's baby sister, Tessa, and sitting on my lap is the best looking child I've ever seen. Soren and I came in a close second to Arielle, who was the champion of the day. )
...sitting on Pappy's lap in front of the campfire.
...enjoying the family bed in our little tent.
While Soren was being cute, other adventures were taking place as well.
Grandma and Tessa throwing pine cones at each other,
and Calysta learning how to shoot a gun.
Activities not pictured here: The little girls giving Collette, Mom, Soren, and I glitter make-overs. Little Marty gathering a large pile of obsidian (he called it "flint") and other assorted rocks and shot gun shells. Dad, Abe, and Little Marty driving around and looking for small animals to shoot. Multiple fishing trips attended by various people, myself not included. Grandma speeding away on a bicycle with Tessa running behind (barefoot) in hot pursuit.
Also, I will post pictures later, but every day my husband looks more and more like an Idahoan. I about keeled over when I saw him on this trip: sporting a goatee, dressed in plaid and a baseball cap, strutting around with a gun over his shoulder.