Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Librarians Who Can't Sing

With this title you may be wondering, Huh? Librarians don't sing! They check my books out, help me find books, tell me how much my overdue fines are, tell my kids to stop running around the library while screaming and jumping on furniture- Oh, wait, those are my kids, not yours. So, anyway, just to clarify, as part of their official job description, librarians DO NOT sing to the library patrons. Unless...they're doing kiddie story time! Ah hah! you think.  This makes sense now! Laura has a bazillion kids and she probably takes them to library story time because it's free childcare for a blessed 25 minutes or so while she aimlessly wanders the library aisles looking for exciting, informative, engaging reading material.

Well...yes and no. I do take them to Pajama Story time at the sweet, little adorable Hastings Branch Library. (Although, I have been accosted by a nose-hating, strange woman there before. See my post last year "I Bet You Cry About Your Nose" I typically get Daisy and Chloe settled on their cute little bright blue or orange cushions and the librarian (who happens to have five kids - and he's young looking! Cute kids, too, and a nice wife. I really am very chatty, aren't I?) starts singing the ultimate, song-to-end-all-kids-songs "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! Clap! Clap! If you're happy and you know it..." (Is the tune starting in your head now? I bet you'll start humming it in about 3 seconds!)

The only problem that I have with this fabulous little song is that...the librarian really can't sing well - at all. He does try, but he cuts the notes short and is rather flat-sounding. Now, I'm no singing expert, but Tim is. Tim grew up in a singing family. In fact, their Sunday morning worship had no instruments, only singing - acapella, they call it. There's no lyin' when it's acapella! How your voice sounds is rather apparent to everyone around you. So, Tim will pick apart a singer and tell me why they're good or not and use all this official sounding musical lingo. I'm always impressed by his expert analysis, but hear myself saying, "Well, they sound OK to me..." So, for me to notice that someone's singing doesn't knock my socks off is something. But, the librarian singer is sweet and earnest and the kids don't care. They just sing along blissfully unaware of the marginal musical talent they're being exposed to. So, should I care? No, I really don't. Besides, I'm sure his own kids adore his singing and his smart  wife just tells him how wonderful he is, so who am I to tear the beautiful, idyllic picture apart with my unprofessional criticism? (OK, so I'm a bit melodramatic and overly imaginative, but it's my blog and I can write whatever I want to).

However, there was one story time at my second favorite library in the admirable Pasadena Public Library System that actually had me thoroughly IRRITATED! The L----  V---- Branch (this is to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent) is a little library in this gorgeous neighborhood in the north R--- B--- area. They have the best toys in their children's department. I can look for books in the kids section while my girls (and an occasional tag along friend or two) play and everybody has a delightful time. So, a year ago I took Daisy and then baby Julia to story time there one morning. The librarian was very charming, but couldn't sing to save her life. She totally slaughtered the song. I was almost traumatized by it. And the little kiddos singing along with her weren't loud enough to drown her cacophony out. At all. It's possible I was quite postpartum, hormonal or whatever, but I found myself really bugged by how badly she mangled the children's songs. I decided to NEVER frequent THAT story time again. Would a whole generation of R--- B--- area residents and their children and nannies (oops! I let that one slip!) be forever turned off by story time and the required songs of childhood because this one well-intentioned librarian couldn't carry a tune? Would they be ruined in some way by the wretched sounds choking their way out of her mouth? Maybe she should've sung "If you can't sing and you shouldn't try shut your mouth (clap! clap!). If you can't sing and you shouldn't try shut your mouth (clap! clap!)..."  OK, so I'm sort of mean.

 (Check this out, library lady!)

Come to think of it, almost all the librarians that I've taken my kids to library story time to see have been marginal singers. But none was worse than the L---- V---- lady. Poor thing, maybe she doesn't know how bad she is. Then again, the library is a publically funded place, not some professional Broadway theater. And I really do love my local libraries and all the phenomenal and patient librarians who have helped me and my kids and taken hundreds of dollars of mine in overdue library fines over the years (yes, it's probably at least $200 by this time. Please don't tell Tim).Anyway,  I'm just in a punchy mood these days. I'm probably overdue for a relaxing, refreshing day off . But not at the library during story time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Mom

     Since you left 19 years ago, you know I haven't talked to you or written to you directly much. It's kind of creepy to me in some ways. I really believe that you're in Heaven with Jesus and my little babies (perhaps my boys!) that never made it into the world. I just feel more comfortable talking to God as opposed to you. I was thinking, though, that the anniversary of your death is in a couple of weeks and I wanted to write you this letter. So much has changed with me since you were last here. I'm sure you know that, though.

  I was 20 when you died, a young woman. I'm now almost 40 - a middle-aged woman with a husband and six daughters. Can you imagine that? I remember you once saying to me, "I hope you have 10 girls just like you!" Well, I got 60% of the way there! But they're not all like me. Elena, my oldest, resembles me in some ways. She's very serious and studious, kind of like I was. She's also very hardworking (when she wants to be) and is generally reliable and helpful. She has a dry and very funny sense of humor, but tends to keep her emotions to herself (definitely NOT like me, but like her Dad). I'm very proud of her and I really like her. She's a great girl and beautiful, too. I'm really going to have to fight the boys off. I'm sure they're already afraid of me! Good!

  Camille is next in line. She has my coloring, but her Dad's features. She's intensely sensitive and artistic. She has a very tender heart towards the outcasts, the hurting, the weirdos, and other alternative types. She is definitely like me in that regard. Remember Arthur in my 6th grade class? The chubby boy from Poland who needed a friend? I reached out to him and helped him get comfortable at school. Camille would be my girl who do that. She gravitates toward the Arthur's of the world. She's also very dramatic and theatrical like I was. Remember when I was the lead in the Christmas play? I was Lady Huntington in The Twelve Days of Christmas play and I was ALL DRAMA. Camille has a very intelligent, keen sense of humor, too. She is so funny. The drama gets a bit old at times with her, but then we just tease it out of her. She's a sweetheart.
  Lulu, Leanne, comes next. She had the softest, sweetest skin when she was a baby. And the cheeks on that kid!  They hung down over her face! She was absolutely adorable. She's my friend magnet.She's got this gushy, easygoing personality and she just melds with other kids and gets along with everybody (although not always her sisters, but that's another story.) She looks and acts just like her Dad. She appears to be very absent-minded and placid. Remember Steve Bruno down the street, who would "wear" his cat, Tippy, while reading a book as his mother hounded  him to get ready for school in the morning? That's kind of like Leanne. She is very smart and loves science and reading. She's a sharp cookie and an earnest learner. That is definitely like me. She's a delightful girl.

And then came Chloe. I chose her name because "Chloe" was one of your favorite perfumes when I was growing up. I still remember seeing it on your gray and white marble vanity in your bathroom. The smell would linger in the air after you sprayed it on before leaving for work at night as a labor and delivery nurse.OK - so, I'll just repeat what Dad smilingly has said for years about Chloe, "Payback is great!" She is me at my most intense, driven, determined, temperamental, hysterical at times and downright difficult. And yet she has this zest for excitement and people and life that is infectious and contagious. She's very clever, charming, and downright naughty at times. She's also busy, industrious, and very task-oriented.Yep - she's very much my daughter. She even has my blues eyes and coloring. I love her dearly.

Daisy is #5 - my Spring flower. I love her name. She was named after your favorite flower. I still remember as a young teenager walking up to Fair Oaks and going to the florist that was there and buying you a bouquet of daisies. You were very touched when I brought them home. So, Daisy is my pixie-faced cutie. She is very articulate and sassy. She's also a real people lover and very friendly once she warms up to people. She loves clothes and has the craziest outfits on at times. She's my girliest girl and very fun. I adore her.

  Julia is my last girl. She's the baby of the family and she's precious. She thinks I'm just the greatest! She's so happy to see me when I've been gone awhile and I can always calm her down like no one else can. That's what a mother does, huh? I remember the morning I was leaving for school as a teenager and I was upset and crying for some reason. You pulled into the driveway because you had finished the night shift in labor and delivery at Huntington. You saw me crying and were so compassionate towards me. I think I came back inside and you made me lunch for the day or fixed my hair or something like that. I know you were really tired because you had just worked for about 10 hours, but you still took time to care for me. Thank you.
     Right before each of my babies was born, I always missed you the most. Those few weeks before my due dates were the most painful reminders of your absence in my life. I knew how much you loved helping women have babies (even the screamers and the druggies) and you took great pride in caring for them and reassuring them. I know you were a popular nurse at work, not only with the patients, but with your co-workers as well.  Oddly enough, I didn't miss you so much right before Julia was born. I was so happy to be pregnant with her, my last one I knew. I so enjoyed those last few weeks. But of all my deliveries, I most needed you with her. After she was born I grieved terribly the lost moments that I so desired with you while laboring and delivering my babies. I imagined you lifting my back and helping me get up to walk, giving me guidance on different labor positions, having you check the FHR and reassuring me, and just loving every minute of helping me. I remember you sitting down with my friend Dawn who was pregnant with her first baby several months before you died. You had a pregnancy book and you showed her pictures, educated her about what she could expect, and addressed her concerns. I know she cherished your care. I was so jealous of her when I thought back to that time. No one did that for me. But, I did have Dr. Aldahl for several of my pregnancies and she looked like you and had your bubbly personality. She was so perfect for me. But she left her practice prematurely. I didn't fare so well with my male OB's. Oh well. I'm all done with that season of my life and I'm relieved. Now I get to help my daughters when their time comes. Hopefully not too soon!

  And then there's Tim. He's an old lady magnet. That is, the old ladies just love him! He's got this sweet smile and boyish charm and they eat him up! He is very handsome and he loves our girls. He's very well-educated, hardworking, and intellectual. I love that about him. He's a bit of a dreamer and lives in his own world at times. I let him. Teaching 200 students a day who aren't that motivated and who come from impoverished backgrounds really takes its toll. I try to make life for him easy, relatively peaceful, and fun. I'm not always successful, but I try. I love him and am devoted to him.
Dad has done well. Karen is so good to him. She has patience, charm, and smarts about how to soothe the savage beast in him. I so admire her. She's had so many trials in her life and yet she's always thinking of others and serving them. She's so devoted to her kids and grandkids. My children adore her. We are so fortunate to have her. She's encouraged me so many times and in so many ways with all my kids and being a mother. I know God especially placed her in my life during this time period. I also love that she knew me from when I was born. She has memories about me and you that Dad doesn't even have. That shared history is unique. It helps to fill in the missing pieces.

   Ann, Sarah, and Michael are all on their own journey. I'm close with Sarah and Ann. Michael, well, I'm sure you know about him. I'm believing that God will find him and help him. Well, anyway, I'm just about done with my letter. I think you'd be proud of me. I've made lots of mistakes and made decisions I wished I hadn't, but, I'm content with my life. God has been so good to me. I can't wait to see you again.  Laura

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hiccups Cure

This morning at 7:45 am Chloe and I were in my bedroom folding the clothes on my bed. We had an exchange that went something like this:
Chloe: "Mom, I have the hiccups."
Me:  "You do? I have a remedy for that."
Chloe:  "Really?"
Me "Yes. I've been trained and certified in getting rid of hiccups in children. You want me to try my remedy on you? (Earnest nod from Chloe.)All right, well payment will be due when services are rendered. You know, the payment is a big hug and a smoochie kiss.Can you pay that? (Another vigorous nod from Chloe). Come here then."
Chloe walks over to where I'm standing. I bend down and put my arm behind her knees and another arm around her waist and turn her upside down. I begin to shake her up and down while gently pressing on her tummy with one hand and pressing my fingers into her ribs with my other hand. She starts laughing and squirming.
Me:"You can't laugh! No laughing! The cure won't work! Stop laughing!" The giggles and hearty laughter continue from my little squirmy six year old and then I put her down. "Did it work?"
Chloe: "Yeah" (big toothy smile and giggles).
Me: "Good! You know, I was at the top of my class. You need to pay me now." Chloe turns to me and I give her a big hug and a kiss and I'm laughing at our silly exchange and the hiccups cure that worked. I looked at the clock then and realized that she would have been at school at the moment she was getting the hiccups treatment from her highly qualified AND certified Mom. Would there have been anyone at school with my qualifications? I don't think so. Those qualifications come from the heart.
Ahh...the joys of motherhood and homeschooling.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Random Things and Fall is Here!

It's Sunday morning and I'm at my computer looking over old blog posts. I'm dressed for church and really want to go, but Julia has been sick and is napping right now. I wanted to take her to church and at least enjoy worship - even if it means chasing her around the back of the church. I can't bear the thought of waking her up, though. I was up with her for about an hour and a half last night. She seems to have left ear pain and I fear it's an ear infection. I'm going to have to get her into the ENT this week if she doesn't seem better. She's been up A LOT this week. Many nights I've gone to her 4 or 5 times to try and settle her. I think what's making things worse is that she doesn't always get her antihistamine at night like she should. If I go out at night Tim might forget it or I forget to give it to her. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering everything I should. Oh well.

This week I'm starting the "Felicity" book series for Leanne's history curriculum. My girls love the American Girl books and dolls. They can really break the bank, but they are very high quality products. I love using historical fiction as a tool to teach history. So, this week we'll delve into early American Colonial history with Felicity. Leanne and I are both looking forward to it.

Yesterday I got a tearful call from someone close to me. Her birth control method had failed and she was pregnant. Oops! She's been cramping and bleeding for weeks and was worried about all that that could mean. I quickly arranged childcare and went to the hospital to be with her. It appears to be an ectopic pregnancy. She seems to be doing well when I spoke with her this morning. She commented that she was amazed at how well she slept in the hospital. I told that as I was up with Julia she came to mind and I was praying that very thing for her: Help her to sleep well, Lord. I know how everything hurts so much more when you're exhausted.(One of the most challenging things about Julia's birth was that when I delivered her I had been awake, and very active, for over 30 hours. I was totally exhausted and depleted. Sleep is soooo important!) When I hung up with her this morning she was still waiting for her ob/gyn's partner to come into the hospital and talk with her about what was going to happen next. I heard her asking other people at the hospital, "Have you heard anything about Dr. So and So? My regular doctor is on vacation, so I have to see Dr. So and So. What have you heard?" I could so relate to her concerns and wanting to be reassured that she was in good hands. I've been there. She was told that Dr. So and So is very good. I'm hoping and praying this is her experience. I'm sure everything will go fine with her. Pregnancy loss, even an unexpected one, is always laden with emotions. I will continue to pray for her.

The weather is turning fall-ish. I LOVE fall weather almost as much as spring weather. I love cool, slightly overcast, windy fall days. LOVE THEM! However, fall tends to be a harder time for me emotionally. My emotions seem much more sensitive and I struggle with feeling "normal" and upbeat much more in September, October, and November. I have a couple of theories about this. Throughout my life fall contained some events associated with difficult losses. My Mom was very ill and died in mid-November. Also, we came back from Mammoth every summer and had to leave carefree, idyllic summer days behind and start school. There's also less light in the fall and I'm light-sensitive. I seem affected by dark days with a corresponding "darker" mood. Anyway, at least I'm aware of these things now. This fall seems a little better, though.

I'm going to enjoy a quiet house now, take my church outfit off, and maybe take a nap.