Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When mama get a freelance job...

...Baby won't nap...

...Three children's stomachs get mysteriously empty every hour...

...Two young girls empty half a jar of Av0n Cinnamon Chapped Heel Relief cream onto their feet in a little over thirty minutes...

...Baby decides that this is the day to discover the toes on the ends of those kicking legs, learn how to bat at toys, practice almost rolling over, and crack up at hiccuping sister (thus, the lack of napping)...

...Eight-year-old develops taste for "tween" reality shows and gets surly with five-year-old sister who wants to watch Dora and Diego...

...Weary mama stays up 'til midnight with M.E.G.O. setting in...

...Work breaks mostly revolved around food and eating (wait, this was the same when I was in an office)...

...Husband gets orders for a business trip...

...All utensils and most dishes are crusting over in the sink...

...Compassionate friends come by to help out and leave saying, "I wish I could help more." (I wish they knew how a little goes a long way!)...

...Getting dressed in the morning involves picking clean clothes out of the pile in the living room...

...Desperate self-employed mama looks up and asks "Why now?" then calls Grandma...


Ahhhhhhh, whew!

Only ten more days to go on this project...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yeah, I'm a grammar geek

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Sunday, July 13, 2008


On the way to a summer camp class, right in the middle of the city, we pass a man wearing a cowboy hat. The younger girl starts hopping up and down, pointing and screeching, "MAMA-MAMA-MAMA! LOOK! It's a real COWBOY!" He cocks a grin, and tips his hat at her.


The trio returns from grocery shopping. I'm parked under a nursing baby. The oldest enters with a hopeful look on her face.

"Mom, we asked Daddy to take us to Raskin Bobbins [sic] but he said we had to ask you."

"Okay, I'll talk to him about it."

One hour later...

"Mom, did you talk to Dad about going to Askin Robbens?"

"No, but I will."

One hour later...

"Mom, did you and Dad decide-"



(I lied. We had already discussed it and planned it for an after-dinner treat.)

One hour later... rain is coming down in buckets.

"Honey, Dad and I thought we would go to get ice cream after dinner but now it's raining too hard. I'm sorry."

"Mom, this rain is freaking me out. I would rather stay home. It's okay."

"We'll go another day, okay?"

"Yeah, mom." Hugs.

Monday, July 7, 2008


A popular magazine recently ran a feature on "What We Learned From Our Mothers." Readers were invited to submit items of wisdom, vignettes on the lasting lessons that their mothers gave to them. I pondered the question for days, hoping to make a submission of my own words that were inspired by a positive thing that she taught me through saying or doing.

Grief fills me, for I could not think of even one.


"Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), or anankastic personality disorder, is a personality disorder that is characterized by a general psychological inflexibility, rigid conformity to rules and procedures, perfectionism, moral code, and/or excessive orderliness."

My mother has always been kind of odd. She has been the butt of jokes among family for many years, as well as the focal point of much of my teenage anger and angst. I used to make lists of all the ways I would never be like her. I even pretended for a long time that I was adopted or born from aliens or somehow came from outside the family (never mind the strong resemblances) just to not be related to her.

I know some girls grow up idolizing their mothers--those special women who may have been a master of the kitchen or garden, a muse with clever asides or wise proverbs to pass along, goddesses full of grace or kindness or generosity or wit--but I could never see any of those qualities in her. I inwardly cringe every time she opens her mouth to speak... what kind of ridiculous, infuriating, critical thing will come out this time?

Yet, I have always tried to forgive her. To ignore foolishness. To wish her to be different. To hope that she would acknowledge her pettiness and selfishness, to want to change. To think that maybe I was being too harsh, too critical and not forgiving enough.

A person can be mentally ill and yet fool acquaintances with outward appearances of health and charm. My mother is great at this. She is a master manipulator of people's emotions. Or was. Everyone who knows her well can see through this. The facade is breaking. I wonder what the strangers that she tries to charm see? Do they believe her act? Or do they just see an old woman that is trying too hard?

We just spent the better part of a week with my parents. My poor father, who hides from her most of the day, puttering around outside, taking long naps, ignoring her beckonings on the excuse of his increasingly-profound deafness. My mother, self-described as "particular" about how things are done but is utterly compulsive and demanding, self-aware enough to admit to being "forgetful" but really has large blank spots in her recall of all kinds of facts, dates, events and people.


"The DSM-IV-TR, a widely-used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines that for a patient to be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, they must exhibit at least four of the following traits:[1]

-Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
-Showing perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
-Excessive devotion to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
-Being overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
-Inability to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
-Reluctance to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
-Adopting a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
-Shows rigidity and stubbornness
It is important to note that while a person may exhibit any or all of the characteristics of a personality disorder, it is not diagnosed as a disorder unless the person has trouble leading a normal life due to these issues."

Of the six italicized items above, the last applies to all things about my mother. Most of all denial that there is even a problem. She won't admit to being obsessive-compulsive--spending thirty minutes to wash two haircombs in hot running water is just making sure they are clean. Two hours loading the dishwasher by scrubbing each dish before putting it in the machine is just being thorough. Applying more ink two or three times over the same words she just wrote on the page (to the point where the paper is embossed with her writing for several sheets underneath) is just making sure the pen was working.


"Dementia (from Latin de- "apart, away" + mens (genitive mentis) "mind") is the progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain beyond what might be expected from normal aging. "

The cruelest part is that there is no getting better from this. Years of high blood pressure, a cocktail of competing medications, a lack of hobbies (besides harrassing various medical professionals) to stimulate the brain and previous unaddressed mental issues all add up to the children discussing not if, but how and when and where to move the elderly parents. My dad at 78 is vibrant and healthy, but tired and slow. How long can he continue to care for her, as she gets more and more out of control?

Just a few days ago, her compulsive behavior caused an insult to my in-laws and shame upon me. She has already lost all her friends and is no longer invited to social activities. I am struggling with what to do next. I don't think I can stand to just watch and wait any longer. I feel too young to have to deal with this. My older siblings are reluctant to force any changes yet. Ever since I was a kid, I was acutely aware of how much older my parents were than the parents of my peers. In my twenties, it was less of a big deal, we were finally getting along. Until the decline started (I cannot pinpoint a date, but sometime after my first child was born.) Now it is a huge deal, worse than ever. She totally lacks the will or desire to overcome her compulsive behavior. There is no getting better. Only worse. It can only end badly now.

I wish I knew what to do.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My response to #1 in the babywearing contest

Just thought I'd share...

Keep trying. Even if the baby fusses the first (or second or third) time in the carrier, don't give up. I introduced my oldest child to a ring sling at five months old. She was bewildered and objected at first, but after persisting and making sure she was fed, tired and calm each time we tried, she soon got used to it and began to get excited whenever I brought it out. Both of my other children were carried from birth, so they too got used to the various carriers quite quickly. When I share my babywearing advice with friends frustrated by a baby who cries when put in the new wrap, sling or tie, I always tell them, "Don't give up. You both will get used to it, and soon learn to love it!"

Memories, new and old

Fresh-picked cherries, $2.49/lb.
Micro-brew soda, $.99 each.
Shaved ice, $3.50.

Revisiting a favorite roadside fruit stand from your childhood with your kids: Priceless.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


So it's just as hot here in our hometown in the California high desert as our new home in central Arizona. We sure didn't come here to escape the heat.

But it has been a great week visiting family and friends. We baptised the baby, enjoyed a nice reception at hubby's uncle's house, spent several days with my BIL and his family, and are now kicking back with my parents, in my childhood home. Tomorrow we will have a barbeque at my sister's house, then see fireworks before getting back on the road to come "home." Even though we miss the people who still live here in So Cal, each visit makes us appreciate our new city even more.

Most vacations, we are rushing from place to place, trying to fit in as many visits to old friends as possible. This time, we are not, for a combination of reasons--high gas prices, baby naps, quality time with just a few people, oh, did I mention the high price of gas? ($4.69/gal here.) With all this downtime, I am reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," hoping to be done by the time we get back. My hands are missing hook and yarn, as I am craving something crafty to do. I have a long list of projects in mind for the rest of the summer while the girls are in summer camp.

Reading Kingsolver's book also has my mind imaging a bunch of garden and cooking projects. In the spirit of local flavors, on the way home, we're going to stop here:


I can't wait to get back to my own kitchen (and bed!).