• Family


    simpsonize_canvas.jpgToday I am thinking that reputation I have of [sheer irony]”most sophisticated woman you’ll ever meet”[/] is most deserved.

    I’m walking in the mall with my three daughters: 16 (also in heels), 12 (sporty tennis shoes) and 8 (sandals).

    All of the sudden The Blonde One, 8, kind of trips forward because she’s scuffed the bottom of her rubber soled sandals on the tile. I laugh because I DO THE SAME EXACT THING and I’m 36. You just can’t look classy in heels when you’re tripping forward. I laugh “It’s genetic! I do that too, Gwyn.”

    Then I say, “I also kick the inside of my ankles when I walk. I’ve got bruises.”

    The sixteen year old looks at me incredulously. “I have SCARS.”

  • Family

    The Power

    Caleb, at breakfast this morning:

    Mom, the sound of your high heels is enough to make any man tremble.

    Oh the pow’a she wields in a mere 1¼ inches.


  • Family


    What I love about teaching the hostages to read is sitting beside a little blonde kid, about eight years old, and listening to her make up sentences to go along with the syllable she’s just pronounced:

    “Lag. That’s like ‘Oh, this computer is lagging.'”

    “Val. Like, ‘I give you my val (vow) and you give me your val (vow).'”

    “Tock. Oh that reminds me, I tock (talk) too much.”

    I love these moments.

    So yeah, while this year I have School Bus Lust,™ I can always be brought back around to fond memories of these moments. It’s what gets me through another round of “Stop starin’ at me when Mom’s readin’. Mooom. I hate it when people look at me,” and “What school? I thought you said ‘When the kitchen was clean to do school. I checked, it ain’t clean,” said whilst watching TV.

    Round 7 up tomorrow. (aka grades 11, 9, 7 and 3)


  • Family,  Photos


    Harper's Ferry WVA

    2002: Kevin is off doing pre-war stuff in the U.A.E. and I’m alone. With the hostages. So we take off from Oklahoma City and head up to see family in Missouri. Then Chicago just for the fun of it. Stop off in Michigan to see friends (we lived there in residency) and then down to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

    We were going to Washington, D.C., but the sniper hit right at that time and it just didn’t seem as prudent as it did back in OKC.

    Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. They were celebrating something about the election of 1860 or the Lincoln/Douglas debates. I forget now.

    At the gate, the lady asked, “You do know there’s a sniper loose, right?”

    I said, “Here? Now?”

    “Oh no, not here, now. There. In D.C.”

    “Oh. In that case we’ll just walk real fast. We drove a long way not to stop in. Thanks for the warning.”

    I know you can’t tell it, but it’s sort of raining in these photos. And while I am just about all girl, I do not melt in the rain. I rarely carry an umbrella. It’s important for me to point these things out because I have friends and not a few family members who think just because I don’t camp, I must have no redeeming value whatsoever. Well, see? I play in the rain. (I do, however, pop a trash bag over the little one there. Who needs rain coats when you have Hefty?)

  • Family,  Life


    Five days. Is that a record?

    Surely not. Surely other teen-aged daughters have wrecked their cars in less time.

    The stated circumstances:

    Speed limit.

    Descending mountain.

    Hairpin turn.



    And someone thinks we should add that someone told the children that if you hit a deer you will total the car. So teen-aged daughter hit the ditch.

    Yeah, she’s okay. No harm done. The car wasn’t drive-able home. And did I mention that I leave next week for a cross-country move and that vehicle was needed?

    I’m crying and using Navy Words™ on the inside.

    Shebang, a word meaning “any matter of present concern; thing; business” or is the “#!” characters in the first two columns of the first line of a UNIX script file. Guess which way I’m using it.

  • Family

    I Loveth You

    For as long as I can remember, I have spoken these words to my children:

    I loveth you.

    Tonight, as my beautiful sixteen year old daughter took the keys from my hand and prepared to walk alone out the door for the first time in her life, she was first: I loveth you.

    Decisively — “I’ll call you when I get there,” as I thought, “Wasn’t I supposed to request that?” Then a bit nervously, “Oh. I forgot my train of thought.”

    I think you were going to say good-bye. And I was going to pray this isn’t the last time I ever see you.

    Everyone thinks things like this. We say them.

    She laughed. “It’s not. I’ll see you tonight. I know who has the right-of-way, I’ll drive slow, and I’ll call when I’m leaving.”

    She does not, emphatically does not, know who has the right-of-way.

    Just today, I shrieked loudly enough to strain the cords, “Good God Almighty, you almost killed us!” when she had the right-of-way and yet insisted on waving on those cars without the elusive right-of-way. The ensuing creep forward / brake dance was not without frustration — writ large on the truck lady’s face to our left.

    That was this morning. This afternoon she passed her written driving exam; the last step to freedom. That child missed none on the test. (Kevin later said “She is a serious underachiever.” Capable, yet largely unmotivated, we muse.)

    As she drove us home, we laugh. Humor is a huge part of our relationship. She teased me about P.G. Wodehouse’s “Right Ho, Jeeves!” driving me to laughter at the DMV. I teased her about listening to Big and Rich with me.

    “No, I am not listening to Big and Rich. Their last song used the word ‘ass’ over and over. How can one song have the word ‘ass’ in it so many times? Some day, that is going to come out of my mouth and I am going to be so embarrassed. I have never cursed you know.”

    I know. And if it does come out, you just have to look appropriately shocked and your hand must fly to your mouth. That’s how it’s done.

    “Yours doesn’t. You don’t even look appropriately shocked. You always look like you mean it. And might continue.”

    She’s a beautiful daughter. Fiery yet fairly responsible. Stubborn yet somewhat teachable. Devoted to her family. Driving our town alone tonight.

  • Family

    My Son Is Jim Carrey

    Tonight we are driving in the extended cab F-250, nice room yet still a bit crowded for six.

    Finally, I let loose with “Stop whining and complaining.” Pause. I know they’re thinking, “I’m not whining and complaining.” I add, “If you’re not whining and complaining then Stop. Talking.”

    Har, they say.

    They live for these moments. Like when I told them they were going through too much bottled water: “Stop drinking so much water.” Or when the DVR was rapidly filling and I mentioned, “You guys must watch more TV.”

    Back to the truck. The chatter continues. Dad bellows and son replies:

    Dad: Stop fighting!

    We’re not fighting. We’re arguing.

    Dad: Do. Not. Quibble.

    Son, with a dangerous grin: I’m not quibbling; I’m disagreeing.

    Dad can no longer keep a straight face. We love these hostages.

  • Family

    Driving With The Daughter

    Kate is driving. Finally, she’s gotten as good as a sixteen year old can/should be. The rest is just practice and experience (said the woman who just scraped the side of someone’s truck while attempting to parallel park…)

    So what follows are moments with my sixteen year old:

    Kate: Oh, wow, he cut in and there was no room. He shouldn’t have done that.

    No, he shouldn’t have. Happens all the time. Gotta watch out for stupid people.

    Kate: I mean, what if that car breaks?

    Breaks? What kind of breaks? Like, breaks down? Runs out of gas? That’s the weirdest neurosis I’ve ever heard of. No one worries if the car in front of you on the highway is gonna break!

    Kate: Mom. Brakes. I mean, applies the brake.

    Oh. Yeah. That could happen.

    Kate has driven us down a mountain from dance lessons (cha-cha, mi amigos), probably for 7 miles. Laughing, talking, enjoying life.

    Kate: What’s that ticking sound?

    No idea.

    We drive another couple of miles.

    Kate: What IS that sound?

    It’s a bomb. No, no, small mice in the engine spinning… No. It’s a bomb.

    We laugh. We cry. We smell burning rubber.

    Pull over.

    Err: The Emergency Brake.

    (Calling husband): Can you drive a car that smells like this? 1


    1 “Sure, but you’re not ever driving my car again.”

    (Insert detailed rant on how the brakes were recently all replaced. And he doesn’t care that it’s state law — yeah, really — to use the emergency brake, if either of us ever applies it again…)

  • Family,  Photos

    To My Daughters

    1999 08 05 before cropOff the top of my head tonight … Having a baby is work. It really, really hurts. Can’t nobody push that baby out but you. But it is doable. Women have been doing it for thousands of years. And, we often have more than one. But there are some things I thought I’d mention.

    Your anesthesiologist (you know, the doctor they want you to pre-pay) won’t show up until you’re an 8. (That’s out of 10, my young ones.) He’ll saunter in in his cowboy boots and southern boy drawl and say “Sorry ma’am; couldn’t get here sooner…” just as your doctor decides you’re having a c-section and you can’t have drugs until they get you to the operating room. Oh hang on. That’s Caleb’s story from Oklahoma.

    Today, we’re going on about Gwyn. I was going back through our photos circa 1999. A good year in many ways. My last pregnancy and by far the worst, as counted in pure pain. Six blood transfusions, three of those in-utero. (Which also hurts. Looking at the needle hurts. And for some reason I always turned down the Valium. I’m not sure why.)

    I had an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Take a look, I think I look happy, 1999 08 05 before 2maybe even glowing a little. I always enjoyed being pregnant. I never complained about being “fat.” It’s a special time in your life, don’t ruin it by being miserable.

    I have a few things I want to mention. One, your father is a doctor but does not do well in the delivery room with me. Thank God he never actually serves as my doctor. It’s bad enough having him on the sidelines.

    With Gwyneth, he said utterly inane things like:

    “Epidurals don’t just fall out.”

    “I just delivered a seventeen year old without meds and she wasn’t crying.”

    I’ve got two words for you. Real. Doctor.

    No, make that five: I want a real doctor.

    The epidural had fallen out, never took completely anyway, and I had that thing we optimistically call back labor.1 Four babies, and only one was turned the wrong way, thank you God. Had she been first, she’d been last. If you think having babies is painful, twist that baby the wrong way and see nine months of good memories fade to black as every contraction slams the little urchin against your back . Get her out; reach in there and get her out.

    Minutes before they wheel me to the OR, my anesthesiologist rushes in, takes one look, and says (God love her): Her epidural fell out. She flipped me over and gave me a spinal block and within thirty seconds I was in love. (The next time I saw her was on the elevator. I hugged her.)

    The next thing I want to mention is that you can go into the hospital looking fairly chipper. You will leave looking larger. There is a reason: to add insult to injury during labor, they pump you full of fluid. Nice. You’ve got this new baby and want photos but you look pale. And tired. And swollen. Pushing is hard work.

    It bears repeating.

    1999 08 07 gwyn

    Let’s compare and contrast with the above. This photo is totally embarrassing, but illustrative. Two days after birth and I look like death warmed over. And notice. I’m in a nightgown and hospital robe. I know you think I’m some place private. Oh no. I just didn’t care. We’re at “How to be a good sibling” class. With other people present. No idea how I got down there in this state of undress.

    Gwyneth was a very sick baby. I smile when people tell me, “My baby 1999 08 09 gywnwas jaundiced too.” No, not jaundiced. Rh blood disease. Dying. They let me stay in the hospital in a vacant room. Every day, every two hours, 24/7 I would go down to the NICU and feed her and speak with her and stroke her face. It was hell. When you have a baby, you’re supposed to get to bring them home.

    Your father and I alternated emotions. I was in the throes of despair. He was trying to keep it together. Then one morning, he came through the door of my room, sat down with his head in his hands and said, “I think this is it. We’re losing her,” or some variation thereof. But just that morning, I felt this was the day it all turned around.

    Six days, three blood transfusions, a consult with a French doctor, and several helpings of polar bear gall bladder extracted medicine, and our baby was coming home. It was an almost instantaneous reversal after that medicine. Amazing.

    And yeah. I’d do it again. But I’d demand a real doctor.

    1 Nothing can prepare a mother for the severe unremitting pain that accompanies labor when the baby is in a posterior position. Now you know.