Monday, October 30, 2006

Just tell them to be quiet

Today was a beautiful, warmish day! Well, warm compared to what we have been having here. So Cody and I thought it would be lovely to take Claire on a walk to the park and let her enjoy one of the last great days of fall. During the summer, we frequent the park quite a lot, so I am starting to recognize certain other people that frequent that park as well. One of the parks patrons is a 50ish women named Laura who seems to have some sort of mental disorder. She comes with her dad, and she plays on the swings, and will come right up into people's faces and talk to them. So tonight as we arrive at the park, she is the only other person there. She comes right up to us and starts talking to Cody and I, asking all sorts of random questions, and for the most part, she just stands there watching us play with Claire. We do our best to make conversation and at one point I go off to help Claire down a slide, and Cody stays talking with Laura. I wasn't too far off and I was privileged enough to hear this hilarious little conversation that ensued.

Laura: "I like dogs."

Cody: "Yeah, I like dogs, too."

Laura: "I hear voices."

Cody: "Uh oh, you hear voices. . . Just tell those voices to be quiet. That's what I do when I hear voices."

I started giggling hard core when I hear this. I am pretty sure that Laura meant she heard other voices in the park- such as the voices of those who were playing basketball. But Cody assumed she was talking about hearing voices in her head and offered her that great bit of psychiatric wisdom.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Like a Stick on a Steep Street

I feel a bit negligent being that I only posted once in the last week. It's not because I don't have anything to write- it's more that I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It's just been one those weeks, where you really learn what you are made of. . . and party planning is apparently not part of my DNA.

But before I delve into the harried list of events that made up the last several days, I thought I would share a little moment in my life that really explains a lot about why I do what I do. And before I share my little moment, I have to give some very important background information.

The year was 1999 and I was in San Jose, CA on a high school choir trip. Our first stop was to Great America theme park where they have this ride called the Drop Zone. This particular ride straps you into a seat with your feet dangling free, and it lifts you slowly up a couple hundred feet, pauses for a moment, and then drops you straight down into a gut wrenching free fall for a couple of seconds. It is insanely fun and insanely scary. One of my friends, who will remain nameless (her name rhymes with gidget), needed some persuasion to take the jump. We coaxed and pleaded her and what finally worked was comparing this 'drop zone' to life. If you can face your fear and do this, you can do anything! (I apologize that this is starting to sound like a Saved By the Bell episode) To make a long story short. . . we all did it and felt the exhilaration of facing our fear and enjoying the ride. So from then on we called it a drop zone moment whenever we faced our fears and went outside our comfort zone to do something that we knew would be good for us.

Okay, now for the small and simple moment. In Pittsburgh, there are steep hills and thus steep roads everywhere. I drive a beautiful little sandstone Mazda Protege which happens to be a standard and I happen to love driving a stick. I really do- it makes driving exciting. So I often find myself driving up steep hills in my little golden nugget, mastering the stick with the finesse only found in a maestro. Occasionally, I find myself stopped on one of these steep hills, and the real test of my stick and clutch ability comes when I have to start moving again whilst on the steep hill. And sometimes the stakes are even higher when I have another car right behind me leaving little leeway room. Whenever this happens, I have a split-second ritual that always plays out in my mind. I have a bit of fear that I won't get it into gear and I will start rolling back and crash into the car behind me. So I gather up all my bravado, push all the fear behind me and I gun it, mentally closing my eyes, so as not to have to see if I didn't make it. But I have always made it. . . so far. Well this exact scenario played itself out on Friday, on my way to the Halloween party. I was dressed to the hilt in my medieval Queen dress, with six dozen cupcakes in tow, and I found myself stopped at the curve of a steep, wet section of the street. I had a line of cars ahead of me and a line of cars in back of me and little room for error. I immediately proceed with my little ritual, gusto-ing up, throwing caution to the wind and I hit on the gas and . . .I kill the car and immediately start rolling back towards the car behind me. Oops! I slam on the brake in time, but now my car is stalled and I am even closer to the car behind me. Embarrassing! I turn my car back on, cars are honking behind me, my cheeks are getting warm and rosy, and I brace myself. So I do it again, this time engaging the clutch and successfully continuing on my way, with all 72 cupcakes unharmed. But as I continued to drive towards the party, I started thinking about this experience and how it is kind of a drop zone for me. I know I need to do it, I know it will be good thing to do it, I know I am scared of it, but I can push back that fear and just do it! That's the way I would ideally like to handle all things in my life. I like to be brave, to be daring, to go out of my comfort zone to do something I will be proud of. I know you are thinking that I am making way to big of a deal about driving a stick up a hill, but it gives me a little bit of the same feeling that I get when I do accomplish a big drop zone-- just gather up my nerve, throw it over my shoulder like a continental soldier, and do it.

Unfortunately, I don't face all unfamiliar events with this same drop zone attitude. Most of the time I handle it in a "I am way too stressed out" attitude. And I think that this adequately sets up my narrative of our Ward Halloween Party. Basically, it was a lot of preparation and stressing for me. We spent four hours Thursday night decorating the gym and building the cardboard box maze-- it looked really spectacular, if I do say so myself. And then on the day of the party, I was hurrying to finish all the last details, decorating 72 cupcakes, and trying to finish Claire's costume (which sadly didn't get finished in time). Once the party got started, the kids destroyed the maze in a matter of minutes, people weren't manning the booths, chaos ensued, and I handled all this by being upset at the kids and getting stressed out by the chaos. I was putting out one fire after the other and to top it off- somebody stole 6 unopened bags of candy that I had brought! That really chapped my hide. But now that it's over and I have had time to calm down I realize that the kids still loved the maze, even with it destroyed; chaos was just the kids having fun, and everybody said they loved the party and complimented me on how organized it was (hah!). I learned that I am not good at staying calm in such environments. I really wish I could have faced this with the same attitude with which I engage my clutch. Then maybe I could have felt exhilaration and enjoyed the ride, rather than being the uptight, stressed out Queen running the cake walk. Oh well, you live and learn.

So now that the party is over, I am still recovering, and I still have two days worth of dishes piled in the sink- but at least I have a little better understanding of myself and the goal to face more things like a stick on a steep street (you just wait, that expression is going to catch on).

Monday, October 23, 2006

A little bit of Ice

Nobody has written a post for the last several days. Someone's got to break the ice and it might as well be me. I mean I'm use to being a hostess as part of my husbands work, and its always difficult when a group of new friends get together for the first time to get acquainted, so I'm perfectly prepared to get the ball rolling. . . I mean I have no idea what we are doing here or what I am doing here, or what this place is about, but I am determined to enjoy myself, and oh, my, this soups delicious.

Okay that was a little obvious, but I do want to start the ball rolling. I don't really have anything witty or terrible exciting to post, so I thought I would just give you a little update from the world of Brooke.

Here is faithful narrative of all my dealings. On Saturday, Cody's old roommate, his wife and two kids came to visit for the day. They live in Ohio, just about an hour and a half away (driving, that is). They have two little gir ls, Kate and Lily. Kate is Claire's age and for the most part they got along well. . . up until the one princess skirt fiasco! But that was my fault. There is an old Sudanese saying-- "If you only have one princess skirt and two little gir ls, don't bring it out." Ah, life lessons we keep on learning. So since we are city slickers, living in the Burgh, I thought it would be fun to go out to one of the farms in the country. You know the kinda farm-- beautiful rolling hills covered in a plethora of trees in every imaginable fall color-- where you pay way too much for a hay ride, an apple, and a pumpkin. I know everyone from Pasco is probably appalled that I paid to go to a farm, but it really was quite festive! It was a beautiful farm and Claire had a good time petting the goats, going down a huge rug slide, riding behind a tractor and eating her apples. No, no, I know you are probably dying to see pictures of this beautiful fall day outing on an east coast farm, but you won't. Our camera is broken. It's a story I don't want to talk about. But might I mention another well known Sudanese saying-- "Digital cameras and fishing don't mix." Enough said. We did have a very nice visit with our friends.

Then came Sunday. If this blog had sound effects you would hear the "dum, dum dum, dum"-ing of a timpani drum right here. Oh Sunday!! It was our primary program. It use to be my favorite sacrament meeting of the year, but now that I am the one in charge of it, I am wanting to know who came up with the idea of having kids up on the stand all of sacrament meeting!! Flames on the side of my face. . . I want to know so I can give him/her a good talking, too. It actually turned out fine, the kids did really well, I got teary-eyed twice and I only had to drag one screaming kid down to his parents in the middle of it. The biggest kick in the pants is that after the sacrament program, we still had to be in charge of the primary for the rest of church. So I did what all great primary leaders do- I gave them fruit snacks and put on a movie. Oh yeah! That's what I do best. So now that is over, the primary is in charge of the Halloween party this Friday. I think this task will be a lot more enjoyable being that my two counselor's are practically professional party planners (say that three times fast).

So that's how I ride here in Western PA. A bit of a stressful weekend, but we made it through. Okay I have done my bloggitorial duty by posting, lets see the rest of you step up to plate!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Breaking an Egg

I had a mini breakdown today while I was washing dishes. I had just got off the phone with my dad and he told me that there was someone interested in buying the house. What?? What!!! Apparently I am having a hard time with the idea of my parents selling the house and moving. Its my home! The home where I learned to crawl, the yard where I learned to garden, the rooms where Monica swindled me out of dozens of valentine cards. It's my home! After talking with my dad, I thought of the scene from Father of the Bride II where Steve Martin told his family he had just sold their house and they all break down (so much of what I see reminds me of something I see in a movie, when shouldn't it be the other way around?). Even the married daughter who didn't live there anymore was very upset. That's how I feel. I have a home here in Pittsburgh, which I love, but it doesn't have the permanence that my home in Pasco has always had.

And the thing is, my dad didn't even say that he sold the house, or even that an offer has been made. He just said there was a family interested. So I stood there, washing dishes, imagining myself on a snowy night, pressing my face up to a frosted window, and watching another family inside my house, opening their Christmas presents. How dare they!! And I don't even want to talk about what they are going to do to our yard. It literally gets my choked up thinking about it. Do you see how emotional I am about this! Hence the mini breakdown in the kitchen. Cody made it worse when he said, "Now when you go home for Christmas, you won't be going home. You will be going to your parents house." Thanks for the pep talk, Cody. Change can be hard on me, but when I say it is hard, this is both true and misleading. I know that change has always been good for me, and I look forward to more change in my life as time goes on. You can't make an omelet without breaking an egg, any cook will tell you that.

So I want you to learn two things about me from this blog- 1) I tend to blow things way out of proportion, getting too emotional too fast (just ask cody, and every ex-boyfriend I have ever had) and 2)I tend to quote movies lines in my blogs. Did you spot them?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A little too thankful

At this point, everything in my life revolves around poopoos, tootoots, and peepees. If I am not asking Claire if she has to, then I am helping her on false alarms, or I am cleaning up her "I didn't bother to go on the potty" messes. This kind of reality distorts your sense of class as a woman. A couple of weeks ago, I was at dinner with a couple of g irls who do not yet have kids. I apparently seem to suffer for what we call pressure of speech, because I randomly brought up that Claire went poopoos in the potty for the first time. To my surprise, a brief moment of silence followed. I could see the gi rls racking their brains, looking for the any response to my incredibly intelligent revelation. One g irl couldn't hide the "what is wrong with you, you disgusting piece of trailer trash?" written all over her face but she recovered with a forced smile and gave a much more politically correct, "oh that's nice." It was at this point when I realized any great conversational skills I once may have had are long gone.

So now that I have acknowledged to myself that I have a distortion problem, I no longer trust my judgment when it comes to deciding what's appropriate and what's not. We have been teaching Claire to say her prayers, and usually she will fold her arms, close her eyes, and shake her head no with everything we say. Tonight we hit a milestone, though. She actually started saying things that she was thankful for, coming up with them all on her own. It started because I said we were thankful for our friend, baby Luke. Well, Claire picked up on that and started to name the rest of the family. . we are thankful for Rachel, we are thankful for Dan (they're Luke's parents) and then Claire says we are thankful for poopoos. . . I couldn't help it, I laughed, but Claire remained focused and kept on praying. . . we are thankful for potties, we are thankful for peepees, and we are thankful for poopoos (one more time, just for good measure). At this point if finally occurred to me, being that my judgment can no longer be trusted, that maybe it isn't appropriate for Claire to be praying about these things, and that I should stop her. But I was just tickled that she was learning to come up with her own prayer and I didn't want to interrupt her. So I reached a compromise and I changed the direction her prayer was going with a "we are thankful for grandma and grandpa" and needless to say, my expert mother skills saved the day.

Now I know you are whole heartedly expecting at this point of the blog a 'sorry for the crappy entry', but please, I am way above that kind of classless humor. I am actually thankful for poopoos, too. If there were no poopoos, there would be no Claire, limited conversation starts, no pooping in a bag story, and no topic for today's blog. In fact I think we should all take a moment to be thankful for the poopoos in our life.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sticky Buns and Sticky Situations

I am still not completely adjusted to the world of a d u lthood-- I still feel like I should have the accountability of a 17 year old. But I know, now that I am 25 and have a child, husband, and church calling, that I have to step up to the plate and be responsible with what I say, because lets face it, I am not 17.

The older I get, the less confident I get. Fear of failure has kept me from doing a lot of things that I now regret not doing. I didn't try out for volleyball my senior year in high school, because I was afraid of being cut; I am now more ashamed of myself for not even trying. Did I pass the phase where it is okay to fail as long as you tried- or is that phase really non-existent, something teachers tell you so you don't feel bad your a loser. And I feel like there is more pressure to succeed the older we get- not much room for mistakes. But anyone who knows me, knows that I am a walking ad for awkwardness and mistakes. I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth, or not following the recipe, or showing up ten minutes late, or losing my two year old at the zoo. I can usually laugh it off in front of people, but I am haunted by the remorse for the rest of the day, week, month- methodically tearing down any confidence I thought I had. Well, you are probably wondering what all these erratic ramblings (and embarrassing confessions) are about. They're about sticky buns.

Now be prepared for a brief shock- I actually have a reputation for being a half way decent cook here in Pittsburgh--my cinnamon rolls are the stuff legends are made of (apparently I haven't lost all my conceitedness. . .I mean confidence).* So when I was asked to make a batch of sticky buns, I was like, "no prob!" Just so you have all sides of the story, I have never actually made them, it was very late at night, and the recipe said, "mix the pudding with the brown sugar and pour over the rolls." Wouldn't you assume that it meant, make the pudding and pour it over? Apparently it doesn't, and I completely ruined the batch, everyone laughed when they saw it the next day, and I think my pregnant friend almost puked. (even my two sisters laughed when I told them on the phone!!) I was actually able to laugh this one off, since they were all my friends, but I still feel a tremendous amount of embarrassment! And I am really sad I didn't get any sticky buns. So there goes a notch off my cooking reputation, but lets face it, it was over-inflated anyways (the sticky buns were over-inflated also--interesting symbolism). Well, I made great German Pancakes, so I partially redeemed myself, but I don't think Jana is ever going to let this one go.

Apparently I can't be brief, because I am only half way done with my story. Good Grief! As me and my friends were sitting around eating, gabbing, braiding each other's hair, pillow fighting- you know the thing g i rls do when they get together, I said some not so nice things about some probably nice people. I really don't hold anything against the people I talked about, but I was just in a mood. Now I feel the talkers remorse, and I feel it bad. Here is where I need to acknowledge that I am an a d ult, I can really hurt feelings, and other would be guided by my actions (okay, I stole that last line from Emma). This is how things get sticky, especially in a ward, especially since my calling gives me an elevated level of accountability for what I say. One day I will get it all together, when I can make a batch of sticky buns without getting myself into a sticky situation.

*You should be proud Tiff. I learned how to talk up my cinnamon rolls from you!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Giraffes and Lady Bugs

Here is another I am a bad mother post. I think this is a popular topic because deep down we all feel a certain amount of guilt for not being the mother we think we should be. For those that don't think they are a bad mother-- we don't like you. One way to handle my guilt is to share my inadequacy with others, because once it's acknowledged, I know that they know that I know what a good mom knows and I just refuse to conform.

So here are my latest inadequacies. I feel that I have a certain dramatic flair in real life and when I am called upon to perform animal sounds, I step up to the plate. Claire asks me 'what does a horse say?' -- I give her the best winny followed by blubber that any animal linguist could give. That's our standard procedure when we look through books- Claire likes to ask me animal sounds just to make sure I still know what they say. I know this is a great learning tool for her; she is shaping her view of animals and the sounds that they make through me-- I am the authority. That's sounds pretty academic to me, and I should know. I did major in the incredibly academic major of marriage, family, and human development. Therefore, I am an expert in child rearing (also in children's rear ends, but thats besides the point). But the one thing that they don't teach, even after all the internships, observing, and research, is what to do when a child asks you what a giraffe says. What does a giraffe say? Claire is depending on me to show her the way, so I do what any other good mother would do- I made up a noise. This particular noise is high pitched, a bit like the sound of a raptor. Isn't it funny that I know the sound of a raptor which doesn't exist anymore, but I have no clue what a giraffe says, even though I have seen them in person dozens of times. So Claire, being the brilliant sponge that she is, now believes giraffes have a high pitched "ork"ing sound. It is the funniest thing to listen to her point to the giraffe and give her much higher pitch "ork". She is going to be made fun of at school, I know it. They just don't prepare you for stuff like this in college.

So not only do I not know a lot of animal sounds (my zebra sound is horrible) I am a slacker mom with her counting! Claire learned to count because every time we went up the stairs (ands in Pittsburgh, there are stairs everywhere) we counted each step. She was counting to 14 (the number of stairs we have in our house) by 18 months. But now that she can basically bound up and down the stairs on her own, I haven't been counting with her. I didn't consciously not count with her and I didn't realize the adverse affects until this month. She started counting things, 1,2,3,4,6,9. . . I tried to remind her about the 5 and the 7 and 8, but the 4,6,9 pattern is stuck, solid. So I have been doing intensive Ten Little Ladybug training with her, night after night. I make her count it right or else she doesn't get supper. Even after days and days, grueling night after night of 10 ladybugs sitting on a log. . . she still counts 4,6,9. She is determined, and now I have a constant reminder of the half-@$$ed job I am doing as a mother.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I am Woman

I like Michelle's idea of posting your high and low for the week. It scratches both the itch for self-aggrandizing and self-loathing all at the same time. Usually I like to build other people up right before I slam them down, but lets face it, this blog is about me and me alone (ignore previous post re: Claire). So here I go.

My high of the week would definitely have to be the 5k I ran this morning. Aptly named the Dental Dash, it consisted of mostly dental students and their wives, several kids under the age of ten, three babies in jogging strollers, a crazy lady with two dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree--all dashing. Cody left his running shoes in his locker at school (right), so this morning to I went by myself, in the cold, cold, cold 40 degree weather (note to Michelle-wuss!) down to Frick Park (must have been named by someone from Utah). I was a bit nervous about making it the whole way because it was very hilly, and I haven't ran a whole three miles without stopping since I was in Utah. But as I started, I felt great, realizing its a lot easier to run without pushing a two year old who is the height of a four year old in a jogging stroller that is the weight of Nicole Richie. Anywho, to make a long story short (fill in the blank, Clue fans), I finished the race in pretty good time, and I even beat the five month pregnant girl who was pushing her one year old daughter. I was pretty darn proud of myself. And I feel great- which is exactly the reason I would never run a marathon. I came back from the race with so much energy, as opposed to feeling like a cat that has been run over repeatedly (no cats were injured in the writing of this blog).

Now that I have sufficiently puffed myself up (except in the eyes of marathon runners and cat owners) its time for the deflation. Yesterday, we were headed to Red Robin for a friends birthday dinner and our other friends asked us if we would show them the "backway" because it would be faster than going through town during rush hour. So I was like, Yeah, I know the way like the back of my hand. So we started out on what should have been a 25 minute drive, Cody is driving, I am gabbing about who knows what (it was most likely the old debate, if you were running towards a train that it barreling towards you, and you collide, smashing your body onto the front of the engine, would there be a period of time where your body stopped moving?) and we miss a turn, turn around in a parking lot, take a wrong road, get totally lost, call for help, miss a turn again, and finally arrive in our destination 45 minutes later, all while being followed by our foolishly trusting friends and their four month baby because they were gullible enough to believe that we knew where we were going. So you are thinking this doesn't sound like that bad of a low point, but this isn't really all that there is to it. I was absolutely embarrassed that we got our friends so lost and it was part because I wasn't paying attention (lets face it, I am the navigator in our relationship) and part Cody taking a completely random road, saying he knew where he was going. But when we finally faced our friends I blamed the whole thing on Cody. Yikes! That was my low point of the week. Turning on my husband to save my own puffed up face.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Too much TV, its wonderful!

I have a slight complex about being a bad mom-- not so much bad as lazy. I don't like Claire watching that much TV, I think it takes away from her imagining, physical activity, blah, blah, blah. But sometimes that TV is such a nice babysitter when I need one. I think its starting to get out of control. She is now demanding all day long to watch Cinderelli or Barbie (the nutcracker video). Distracting her only works for so long, because she will eventually turn on the TV herself. We are borrowing Cinderella from a friend and we have only had it for a week, but I would venture a guess that Claire has watched it maybe 7 or 8 times since then. I didn't realize how much she was really getting from it, until last night. . .

Now for the point of my story. Claire picked up one of her church dresses from off the floor, held it up to her and said, "thanks you so very much." I thought that was humorous, but I had heard her say thank you a million times, just never over her dress. And then she started twirling around with the dress and saying, "It's wonderful." Claire has never said wonderful before, so I was a bit taken aback and I started to think where she could have picked it up. As she twirled around, I suddenly recognized the scene- where Cinderella sees the dress that the mice have made for her, and she picks up, holds it next to her, and says "thank you so much, its wonderful" and twirls around with it. I got a good kick out of it, ingoring a slight tinge of guilt.

You may be wondering how I have time to write this blog in the middle of the day. Well, Claire is watching TV of course.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Into the thickets

I haven't told anyone I have a blog spot-which may defeat the purpose of having a blog spot. I find it theraputic enough to write down my thoughts and see them published, but I am not sure if I am ready for people who know me to read them. I don't particularly have anything entertaining to write- I just like to write the thoughts that nobody really asks me about and I am too awkward to bring up.

A couple of nights ago, I hosted a cooking club (dessert night, yum) at my house and as usual, the conversation inevitably turned to pregnancy, fertility, etc. In our ward there is a constant flux of pregnancy, people who can't get pregnant, and miscarriages. So the topic of pregnancy can be pretty touchy. One of our friends just announced the she is pregnant with her third child, unplanned, and won't be that much younger than its older brother. I don't know how we started on the subject, but another one of our friends, who hasn't been able to get pregnant and has adopted, started to talk about what it was like to take a pregnancy test and then start her period the next day. She talked about it with a good attitude and a sense of humor, so it didn't cast a gloom on the group, but it did cast a gloom on me. I am not exactly sure why, but I guess it makes me feel a bit insignificant. I know that sounds wierd, but its kinda how I felt.

October marks it a year since we started trying to have a baby. I have been positive about it all along, even after I miscarried this summer, I stayed positive. I didn't get discouraged. But this last month, after two weeks of feeling morning sickness and being a couple days late, I began to think that I was pregnant- and I was really excited at the idea. But then I wasn't and that was the worst feeling I have felt so far. It was the first time I felt discouraged. Thats what made me feel so insignificant- we have been trying for a year, but my friend tried for years before they decided to adopt. She has the right to complain and the right to get sympathy. I don't really have the right because it makes me seem silly in comparison.

Its probably good that no one reads this, because I am sure it doesn't make much sense to anyone, but it really does help me. I remember having a fairy tale book when I was little, and it told a story about three sisters, and the prince agreed to marry the one who could keep a secret. Two of the sisters just couldn't keep the secret inside, it ate at them until finally they let out the secret- into the thickets and down a well. The third sister kept her secret and married the prince. Now as a grown up, I realize what kind of sister I am- the one who needs to let the secret out, even if no one is listening. Thats why I write.