February 28, 2004

I awakened this morning (at

I awakened this morning (at 6:30 a.m.) to the
same sounds to which I fell asleep last night (at 11:45 p.m.): six little girls
giggling and slamming doors. C celebrated her eighth birthday the day before
mine. Of all our daughters, she is the most sensitive and the most complex. I
cannot help but consider if what I went through while pregnant with her affected
her in some way. I began therapy when I was about five weeks pregnant with C. I
had a three-almost- four-year old and a 16 month old at the time. I wanted to
have another child, but the thought of this pregnancy overwhelmed me. I became
depressed and anxious. I was fearful of not being able to manage three small
children. I was exhausted and had morning sickness so badly that I couldn't
stand up straight in the morning, but had to crawl everywhere until noon. I
became concerned that all these "negative" hormones and thoughts traveling
around in my body would somehow affect my child, so I went to therapy. I talked
about my fear of screwing up; being over-loaded and under-funded to deal with
three little people who would need me so much. I eventually worked a few things
out, but in truth, never came to be blissfully pregnant. I secretly harbored
guilt-laden thoughts of a miscarriage. I would feel terrible for thinking such
things, but I felt terrible thinking about another human needing so much of me.
I went into labor the day before my 26 birthday. I managed to stay focused and
relaxed until I allowed the OB to break my water- "This will help it along, get
her here quicker (and me back to my dinner party)." Sooner is better than later-
ask any woman in labor. I wasn't suffering immensely at the time. I was kinda
crusing along to a 7 (7 centimeters/sonometers cervical dilitation for those
unfamiliar with pg talk). My first hint of how bad it was going to turn out was
the site of the knitting needle coming at my very private and sensitive parts.
It was uncomfortable, but not painful. I had, after all delivered two other
babies (one with an epidural, one totally natural). When the next contraction
came after the knitting needle episode, I thought my pubic bone was going to
spilt in half. R may still have scars on his arm from my grip on his flesh.
Apparently, I had advanced to transition during the knitting session. I stayed
there for about 10 minutes and decided this was more than I could handle. I
politely begged for an epidural. The OB delighted obliged. You see, he had taken
some Honolulu weekend crash course (generously funded by a certain
pharmaceutical company) in epidural anethesia, so he was now prepared to offer
immediate pain relief. We didn't have to wait for the anethesiologist to get off
his sleep deprived, lazy ass to come save our nerves. So, he administered the
meds. He then told me that I would have to wait about 10 minutes for it to take
full effect. Excuse me? 10 MINUTES? I was having a baby now, thank you. I think
that I may have cursed and accused, but I know I had a baby in those 10 minutes.
And luckily the anethesia took effect- on my Achilles tendon. My foot became
numb just in time to push (only one push, that is) a 9 pound 4 ounce, 2 foot
long live human being from my body- with a head shaped just like her father's.
It wasn't a pleasant birth. Another tick mark on the unpleasantness surrounding
this whole pregnancy. So, I lavished attention on my baby C. We all did,
actually. I even nursed her the longest of all four children. I wanted
desperately to make up for her hormonal uterine wash of insecurity and fear.
But, I determined then and there to never again be pregnant unless I really,
really wanted to be, if ever again. And when we did decide to have one more
child, everyone was ready and it was such a wonderful way to end my child
bearing years. I still struggle with the fact that here I have a terrific kid:
she is kind, creative, compassionate, hilarious, intelligent, introspective, and
thoughtful, and yet there was a very real time in my life that I thought I could
do without her, without having even known her. I am so thankful for C and all
that she is and the dynamic that she brings to my life and this family. As she
starts her ninth year, I am filled with excitement and eagerness for her
potential and her contributions to this world and to those she loves and that
love her. Happy Birthday, baby. Mommy loves you.

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February 26, 2004

Watched Lost in Translation and

Watched Lost in Translation and 50 First
Dates in the last two days. Also, had a delicious lime Margarita with chips,
salsa and Chimicanga. And, best of all, was carded.

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February 24, 2004

I sat on my kitchen

I sat on my kitchen counter top reading
the latest In Style and listening to Renee Fleming. I was dying to have a glass
of White Zin, but as the state polices (and pimps) all the local liquor stores
and thus mandates a 7 p.m. close time, I remained on the counter, flipping the
pages. I must confess that I am thrilled that pink is back this spring. I love
pink. Not love as in a Legally Blonde kinda way, but a "it's so very feminine
and sexy" way. I don't know how anyone of my gender can wear pink and not feel
like a glamorous woman. The sweet cardigans hanging in the store windows have
been flirting with my pocketbook. I walk by and they wink and give a shy, but
coy wave. My leather wallet can't stand the temptation much longer. Even the
tubes of shimmering spring shades of lipsticks stand up straight and smooth,
like a cone loaded with your favorite frozen cream. My lips quiver with weakness
when we pass. They furiously rub themselves to let me know they are feeling
scantily clad and those lipsticks would be just perfect to cover their
nakedness. I love spring. Not just because the toes come out to play in all
their new bright frocks, but because it is warm enough for them to do so. I love
grass green and sky blue just where they belong, beneath my feet and above my

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February 22, 2004

I turned 34 on Friday.

turned 34 on Friday. My lovely birthday. I am quite concerned as I am next year
going to have to mark the next option in the age selection section of
information: 35-44. Yee-haw. You see, I want the magical birthdays of my youth.
I want to be princess for the day! The entire day! I want lots of presents, with
none of the cares of the costs. I don't want to have to figure out how to pay
Peter back cause we robbed him blind. My mother is a fabulous looking woman. I
recall R telling me he was relieved when he met her. His father told him long
ago to look at the mother as the daughter won't be too far behind. I realize how
sexist that is, but still, I do hope to look as good as she does at 54. As I was
spooning up some Haagen-Dazs, I also thought about the fact that I am now at the
age to be more "concerned" about such things as exercise and diet (translation:
heart disease and cancer). I mean, isn't this the time when I will start losing
muscle and gaining weight just because I am over 30? I really don't appreciate
this. I mean, why is it that when my mind gets better and better, my body gets
worse and worse? I am not fat. I am just, well, the "f" word. You know...good
grief, o.k. I'll say it: ffffff. Ahem. Let me try again: FFFFFFFF- flabby!
There! I said it. I want the body of my youth! I want to fearlessly eat anything
that has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. The thing is, I am soooo lazy,
but if I worked out, or even just walked, I could have a fantastic body. I could
be physically fit. I could have lower cholesterol (I don't even know what it is,
but it can't be good- see Haagen-Dazs above). I could give those college honeys
a run for their money. Or, I could just be satisfied that I am taking proper
care of the body I have and increasing the likelihood that I will be around to
see my daughters become the women they long to be. I know that is a better
reason. But, as I have said in previous sessions, I am a confessed materialist.
A confessed recovering materialist, that is.

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February 19, 2004

Having four female daughters so

Having four female daughters so changes the
dynamics in our household. I sometimes wonder how a son or two thrown into the
pile would mix things up. We always wanted four children. We both came for
having only one other different sex sibling. R isn't close to his sister as she
has some..."problems." My brother is eleven years younger than I, so it has only
been in the past four or five years that we have gotten to be friends, not just
relatives. I wanted to have my children close together so they would have such
wonderful memories of growing up together. I was very lonely as a child. When my
brother finally came along I practically devoured him. I left the house when he
was four and I was secretly terrified that he would forget me, or worse, only
know me from my mother's spin. After R and I got married, I invited N (my
brother) to come and stay with us during his spring break. I think my mother
only allowed him to because she liked R so much and trusted that he, at least,
wouldn't let anything happen to N. It was fun. I rented movies. We went to the
St. Louis Science Center and to the Arch. We attempted to get him Cardinal
tickets, but were a little too late. So, we got him a Cardinal jersey instead.
He was happy. I was happy. Then my mother and I improved our own relationship
and that's when things for N and I took off. The trips to Edmond became more
frequent and they returned volley and spent a few holidays with us, too.
Finally, in August of 2001, my mother invited me to come with her and N to
Chicago on a family trip. It was the knot that secured the stitches I had
applied to our lives for the past 10 years. We commiserated about how our
mother, whom we dearly loved, made us crazy. We stayed up late talking music and
movies and books and college classes and how we had made it living with the
woman who made us both miserable and magnificent. We were staying in the Park
Hyatt with a lake view and right on Michigan Avenue. We went to several museums
and a few small tucked away restaurants. It was so relaxing: no children; no
work; no school. If there is one thing my family does do well, it's leisure. We
love to lay around and do nothing. Especially after doing a lot of something
else. I think we needed to be alone together away from all the material
reminders of our failures; our mistakes; our screw-ups. I will be forever
grateful to my mother for that trip because it made my brother and I more than
blood. We became friends.

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February 17, 2004

Patty got up early last

Patty got up early last Tuesday morning to see Allison off to
school. She was her favorite niece. She knew she wasn't supposed to have
favorites. She did love them all, but somehow when Allison was born, she reached
up and grabbed Patty's heart and didn't let go. They climbed into the truck
together. Patty had started it a few minutes earlier to get it warm. Allison was
eight and she would wear nothing but dresses and refused to wear tights. Her
aunt indulged her. It was her privilege to spoil and make allowances. So, the
truck was warmed. They headed to the local doughnut shop for their favorite
breakfast treats. Allison lingered over her chocolate milk and Patty sipped her
coffee. After they finished, they slipped again into the truck. In front of the
school, Patty made sure that Allison had her backpack on and her coat zipped.
She touched her lovely strawberry blonde hair as she kissed her goodbye. Patty
reminded Allison that her daddy would be picking her up after school and to
watch for him. Allison opened the truck door, hopped out, and slammed it shut.
Patty quickly looked over her shoulder to see if any cars were coming and pulled
out into the traffic. She turned up the radio. It had been a good morning. After
driving half a block, she moved over into the left lane to make her turn south
heading to the cabinet factory she worked in. As she made her turn, she felt a
funny bump. Looking over to her right, toward the passenger side, Patty saw
several people waving at her and signaling for her stop. A flat, maybe, thought
Patty. But when she pulled over at the curb and the people raced over, looking
quite horrified, she became anxious. Rounding the front of her truck, she heard
someone shouting instructions to call for help. What in the world is going on?
Did I hit an animal? Starting to the side that people were congregating on, she
saw the hair sticking out from under her tire. My God! Patty took two steps and
fell on her knees. Allison lay mangled beneath the truck. Somewhere Patty heard
sirens and people asking her questions and giving her instructions. She looked
up and saw a piece of Allison's coat sticking out from the passenger side door
of the tall 4x4 Dodge. She began to shout the girl's name; shrieking and begging
her to respond. Someone reached around her shoulders and attempted to pull her
up, but Patty resisted. The crowd parted as two EMT's arrived. "Turn off the
truck," shouted a man's voice. Patty heard it, but couldn't move. A woman
hurried around and shut off the engine. A policeman was ordering people to move
away. Another was asking questions. A third squatted down next to Patty and
placed his arm around her. He quietly asked her name and if he could just ask
her to move away from the truck...The EMT's were working hard on the little girl
now..."Please let me help you over here, out of the way ma'am." Patty moved her
body, but her eyes wouldn't leave Allison. She stumbled and then fell back. Her
stomach wretched and she collapsed on her side, sobbing and speaking
incoherently. Allison was pronounced dead on the scene. Today I took E and A
with me to help serve a grieving family a meal after burying their child. They
weren't members of a church and didn't have much money, so the churches of the
community got together and provided a place to hold the funeral. The women
mobilized a preparation of foods for the dinner after the graveside services,
service of the meal, and clean-up afterward. I didn't know Allison. I heard of
her death from my girls swim team coach Tuesday evening. As is the case so many
times in this life, I wanted to do something, but didn't know what. So, when it
was announced that soups, salads, and desserts were needed to fill the table of
her family in their time of despair, I signed up to make Chicken and Noodles. I
thought it would be something that the children would find appetizing. I recall
seeing many strange looking casseroles at the funeral dinner table when I was
younger. I already felt weird and the food seemed not to comfort but to alienate
me. As I wrote my name on the list, I quickly decided to help serve the meal and
I was taking E and A with me. We arrived a few minutes early. The girls washed
their hands and asked a middle aged woman where they could begin. I slipped into
the hallway and peeked into the service from a back door. My eyes immediately
went to the front where a pink casket was placed, covered in a spray of
sweetheart roses and Baby's Breath. I returned to the serving hall and found the
girls. They helped cut the Jell-O; served the rolls; carried plates and drinks
for the elderly and little ones. They arranged tables and chairs and served
drinks. We moved around quietly and purposefully between the kitchen and the
gym, letting our hands and feet express what our mouths couldn't and what our
hearts didn't know how to do. And so, I couldn't sleep tonight. I went to my
girls rooms and stood in their doorways, listening to them breath.

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February 14, 2004

I think marriage is another

I think marriage is
another one of those relationships in our lives that teaches us about sacrifice.
R and I were having a conversation this morning about some very specific
going-ons in our own relationship that need to be tweaked and adjusted. Two
kinds of deposits are available for immediate withdrawal from my emotional bank
account: words of affirmation and receiving gifts. Anything else may require a
waiting period in order to withdrawal said deposits. Many people who "feel"
loved with gifts are labeled materialistic and superficial. Yes, I admit that I
am. I struggle with it. I want it all for myself. But, I also want it all for
everyone else, too. I want to give whatever I can to anyone who needs it, wants
it, or has even thought about it. Living on a budget is absolutely depressing
me. I want to buy little things that I see that I know would bring a twinkle to
someone's eyes. I want to wrap up things neatly to disguise the lovely surprise
beneath the pretty paper- it extends the anticipation. I want for a girlfriend
to walk out to her mailbox or hear the doorbell ring and see some of her
favorite people: a post deliverer and/or a UPS delivery person (how was that for
egalitarian treatment of non-gender specific jobs?) and be thoroughly surprised
and ultimately delighted. Many think the gifts must be expensive- not true! I am
personally more satisfied by a surprise of flowers picked by the side of the
road (yes, truly illegal in some states, but, oooh the added thought of risk
taken just for me....); a coffee; a crisp package of my favorite gel pens; a
Hershey's with Almonds or an Almond Joy. See, it isn't expensive. It's
thoughtful! To the lover of gifts, it expresses "I am thinking of you" or "You
were on my mind." As my spouse is gifted with not only making a budget, but
sticking to it, I have to remind him that I don't want something everyday and I
certainly don't expect a diamond ring or roses everytime (though I obviously
wouldn't refuse). His love languages are acts of service and physical touch.
Let's get one thing clear here, people: physical touch is not the same as sexual
touch. It means that when I reach over and put my arm around R, he feels that I
am thinking of him. If I rub R's neck while we are driving, or put my hand on
his leg, he feels appreciated and loved. He needs a hug- full bodied- when he
comes home from work each day. When I stop what I am involved in for a few
minutes to welcome him home, it communicates that I love him and am glad he has
returned to me. Holding R's hand when we are walking together or sitting close
to him when we are in the same room makes him feel close to me emotionally. Now,
sex does, too, but I am talking about non-sexual touch that communicates
thoughtfulness and emotional intimacy. I am not the best at this. He will often
tease me by taking me hand and rubbing the back of his own head while he is
driving. It is a gentle way of saying, "I am here. Please acknowledge my
presence." I think I struggle with remembering to touch him because my whole day
is filled with touch. I am at home with four children who I hug, hold on my lap,
pat and rub their backs and hands, etc. I sometimes feel "out-of-touch" by the
time he arrives home. Nevertheless, I am working on it. Acts of service is
easily accomplished. Our decision for our family structure takes care of it. I
choose to contribute to our family by providing child care for our children
myself. I educate them and plan the family meals and I take care of all the
laundry, house cleaning, etc. (by the way, I am not a martyr- these kids
contribute and R pitches in if I need help, too). He earns the money. He
provides financially; I provide practically. It works well for us (not
perfectly, but well). So, by doing these things, I make regular deposits in his
emotional bank account. It is at times trying and tiring. When I am angry or
disappointed, I indulge in the "Single Girl in the City" fantasy at times: my
money, my time, my decisions. I refuse to end this post in some trite "all's
well ends well" way. This is damn hard work. Sometimes I laugh more than I
breath, so I am glad that I married an extremely funny man and that makes it a
bit less laborious. I don't believe it will ever be flawless, but I do know that
we are committed to each other and it is relieving to know that one won't walk
out on the other for not being perfect. Trite anyway. And I said I didn't have
to have happy endings....

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February 11, 2004

Frequently my fantasy is a

Frequently my fantasy is a hotel room with room service
available- coffee is perfect when delivered with a demi pitcher of cream at its
side. No children, no husband, no person; just me, my book(s), and my coffee.
Oh, I forgot one more detail: a wallet loaded with cash.

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February 09, 2004

After four airplanes in 48

After four airplanes in 48 hours,
I am grievously tired. I learned Friday evening that my grandmother had been
hospitalized in Tulsa due to an aneurysm. After arranging for my brother to pick
me up, I booked a flight out of here at 7 a.m. the next morning. She celebrated
her 80th birthday in December. I can hardly believe she is an octogenarian. She
was cracking jokes and teasing the medical staff when I walked in. Her mental
faculties are alive and kicking; her body just can't seem keep up the pace her
brain has set. She will possibly have a very serious surgery on Wednesday and
then will attempt an even more challenging recovery. I hate not being able to
stay longer. I really am struggling with living 1500 miles away and helping
people here who aren't my own family, but not being able to do a damn thing for
someone who made my terrible childhood bearable. I don't think we ever really
let go of the hope that things in this life "will be easier once..." I foolishly
have clung to the thought that life will be more accommodating once the children
are adults, but this weekend, I watched my grandfather exhaust himself with
concern for his friend of 61 years. Her lungs are frail and weak from 60+ years
of Marlboro's. After a year on her mother's own breastmilk, she spent 79 years
consuming vegetables from the backyard, beef from the barn of a neighbor, and
oil from a friend's field. Tofu never showed up on that kitchen table. A chicken
was stewed or fried. She married a good-looking Cajun who introduced her to
crayfish (that's crawfish down south), shrimp, and exotic new ways to stew the
yardbird. Though I know you won't read this, I love you, Wilma. I could never
return the kindness that I experienced in your home or thank you enough for the
place you made in your heart for a me. Thank you for showing me the magic of a
grandmother's love; the example of hospitality; how to take care of the elderly
and lonely; neighborliness; and that it's not how much I have, but how much I
give of what I do have.

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February 04, 2004

Typically proud of the fact

Typically proud of the fact that I enjoy foreign films (except
Brazilian), I may have to recant. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not was bizarre. I
was; however, introduced to a new form of mental illness: erotomania. I found it
frightening to think that someone could wreak such terror in one's life. It was
well acted and quite believable. So, Audrey Tautou was convincing and scary. I
wouldn't call it romantic as the description on the back of the DVD cover did. I
would have called it a psychological thriller, something I am definitely not
into. I have enough of my own issues to deal with. I have forever teased K about
preferring movies with a fairy tale ending, but after this, I am all for the
stupid J-Lo "Housekeeper in Hoboken," girl-gets-the-rich-man shtick. I am not
sure I will follow that entertainment superstore guy's advice anymore. Perhaps
he liked that movie for a reason....

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February 03, 2004

Thanks to everyone who voted

Thanks to everyone who voted for my humble entry. My
congratulations to my competitor and best wishes, as well. This is a double
elimination, so please go vote again. I've just checked and wow, five votes for
my submission already. My most grateful thanks! So, I have been holed up reading
the Harry Potter series. I am averaging one a day. I can't believe that I waited
this long to read them. I admit, I was one of those tongue waggers (red face).
Well, I never actually told anyone not to read them, I just told them why I
didn't read them (I know- groan). Recently, I have awakened from a fuzzy
fundamental sleep and my freedom is exhilarating. Last weekend, I mentioned to E
that I thought I might want to read the HP books. While we were at the library,
she took the liberty of checking the first one out for me. I started it in the
car for a family trip to pick out window " treatments" (why they are called that
instead of curtains, drapes, whatever; I don't know). I had to use the map light
on the way home. I absolutely love them. I raced to the library like a woman
fresh out of crack last night to retrieve the second book and tonight, I left my
family a hot, delicious dinner and headed out the coffee shop to read and sip.
As I drove, I realized that I might finish the second one tonight. There is
absolutely nothing worse than having finished a book, knowing there is a sequel,
and having no access to said sequel. So, I checked out the last three and
brought them home. There is a new video superstore worker on my side. That is,
he enjoys foreign and indie films. I was less than thrilled with my prospects on
Sunday evening. Perhaps all the women not interested in the Patriots and the,
uh...uh...hmmmm, well, the other guys, got a DVD to watch instead. Anyway, I was
disappointed that All About My Mother was out. So, the new worker suggests, He
Loves Me, He Loves Me Not with Audrey Tautou. I absolutely loved in her Amelie,
and so grabbed the DVD and went home. I plan on watching it sometime soon and
will be depositing my two cents here. HP is calling.....

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