Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You might be thinking, WTH?

Where did that come from? Why now? It's not Grandpa's birthday or anything but if you read the Full Circle post below, here's what brought it on. My dad's birthday was March 26th. I posted on facebook (knowing he doesn't have an account but just putting it out there for the interwebs) a happy birthday to him. Some of the comments that status update received took me by surprise. I didn't realize so many other people view him as highly as I do.... I should have. Boop said I should somehow show him the responses and I'd love to- so why not here?!?!? One thing led to another and I thought people needed to know how others feel about them and that included Grandpa Bob and why not throw Ella's name story in there, too. So, there's that. And, here's the facebook status update/responses that started it all:

Holly Armstrong: wished my Dad a happy 64th birthday. If every man could turn out like him, the world would be a good place.

Joslyn Cox: Isn't that the truth!!! Happy Birthday Dale!

Rob Melzer: Please tell Mr. Lauer I said Happy Birthday!

Kisha Delong Wernet: Yes, I agree!

Garrett Craddock: Absolutely! Dale is on the very short list of the finest guys I've known.

Betty Gibson: My sis couln't have found a better man! Hey u need to let him see all of these posts.

Insert some back-and-forth about how to show them these posts....

Betty Gibson: Well I guess you will just have to show him on your phone or computer the next time you see him. I think he would appreciate seeing how much people think of him! And get your MOM into the 21st century...she is not that old!

And, the best idea so far...

Garrett Craddock: LOL - they need to get Facebook in their golf carts!

Full Circle

I keep thinking that all I post about is Breckin. And, while Ella doesn't really have any good stories yet as her entire repertoire consists of smiling, eating, sleeping, and you-know-what-elsing.... she still deserves some webtime. I'm starting with her name. Ella. We had a helluva time finding a name for this baby that a) we both liked b) had some meaning and c) went with Marlene. We'll get to the Marlene part another time but I am compelled to talk about Ella. This is going to be a long one. Bear with me.

It all begins with Grandpa Bob. I'll try to get through this without tears flowing down onto the keyboard and, if you aren't in a place where you can be emotional, come back to this later. Of all my grandparents, I felt the closest to Grandpa Bob. I adore that man. He was the quintessential grandpa and, combined with my father, the source of every bullet point on my Ideal Man List. Gentle. Strong. Calm. Patient. Giant. Faithful- religiously and matrimoniously (is that even a word?). Loving. Tough.

Watching my grandma die was hard for me. Watching my grandpa die was almost impossible. Grandma wasn't ill from cancer but she was in bad health and once she started going downhill, it was a fast and slippery slope. But what taxed me the most was being the one who answered the phone in the middle of the night when she stopped breathing. I had to wake my dad and Grandpa and tell them to make a choice. I'll leave a lot of the details out but I very clearly remember Grandpa standing in the middle of the kitchen sobbing and telling my dad that God couldn't leave him alone as a parent. He hadn't been a good enough husband or father to be the one left on this Earth. He thought he should have died first cause Grandma could have dealt with it- he wasn't strong enough. My dad was sobbing, I was crying, everyone was a mess. I couldn't understand that point of view until I was a parent but now I get it. No one ever thinks they are good enough as a mom/dad and there's always they could do more as a wife/husband. It tore me apart to hear my Grandpa think that way about himself and I didn't tell him then but (since they have computers in Heaven) I'll tell him now. Grandpa Bob- you did it. You succeeded as a father, husband, and grandparent to the nth degree. You raised a son exactly right and created a fantastic patriarch to keep this family going.

Fast forward to Grandpa's slippery slope. He said a lot of funny things between when we lost Grandma and his last days regarding his prayers to God. If you are part of this family, you know what I'm talking about. Maybe someday I'll post them. We moved Grandpa Bob out here to Western Wa once it was clear that he shouldn't be on his own in Northern Ohio anymore. It was hard on my parents, him, and the family and friends that he left in Amherst. It's hard to uproot someone who's spent 60+ years in the same, small town- especially when they don't feel well and are starting to lose their memory. I have to make this quick for my own sanity. He started forgetting. He fell. He got aggressive. Remember- part of his traits are strong, giant, and tough. In the hospice, I visited Grandpa a day before he passed. I was there alone and right before my Dad walked in for his daily visit, I told Grandpa that he was loved and that he would hate seeing himself like this and it was ok to join Grandma. He was no longer the physical giant from my childhood but his presence in the room was bigger than life itself. He gave me a signature Grandpa Bob grin and the "huh" grunt he so often did. It was mottled by the breathing tube and weakened by his failing health but I caught it. 24 hours later he was gone. I flew to Ohio a few weeks later for his memorial- I was 5 1/2 months pregnant- and baby girl made herself known throughout the service. She pushed, kicked, hiccuped, and rolled her way around for the entire memorial.

Ella's personality from the moment she was born was clear. She was calm, relaxed, patient, and gentle. Time will tell if she is tough and I doubt she'll be a giant but one thing is clear. She has Grandpa Bob's temperament. She is, in a roundabout way, named for him and my Dad alike. On my Dad's side- there is a naming trend. Cornelius Robert. Robert Dale. Dale Ellis. My parents skipped my sister and I- probably because it was a paternal trend- but I felt compelled to pick it back up. I wanted to honor my dad and grandpa and without naming this baby girl Bob (although that would have been funny), Dustin and I chose Ella- in honor of Ellis. It's a long story for such a short name. We'll get to the Marlene part later.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Heard in my house in the last 10 minutes:
"Mommy, you give me that duster. You don't get to do all the chores, you know."

"Come play with me. You can't do any more chores. Daddy has to do the rest and you have to play."

"AAAAaaaaaaa bababababababababa. Squeak."

And, I'll abide by each and every one of these.

Happiness is so easy

Last night we decided to color our annual Easter eggs. Right before dinner, I boiled said eggs so they would have time to cool and Breckin asked no less than 135,482 times if they were ready yet. After we ate, cleaned up, and set up (thanks, Mom and Dad, for the ingrained practice) our plasticized placemats all over the surface of the dining table to avoid Easter egg drippage, we were ready. Our egg dying kit this year was a Star Wars theme. I have to say, this was the coolest kit we've gotten. It came with shrink wraps that turn the eggs into Yoda, Darth Vader, and R2D2. It came with a plastic, gold mask to make a C3P0 egg- much like a Halloween costume, but for an egg. It came with a sheet of stickers, cardboard egg holders to give the eggs bodies, and the obligatory wire egg dipper. Breckin was thrilled but I think Dustin was down-right glowing.

Breckin got to do all of the vinegar and water measuring. He popped out the little carboard disks to make the egg drying try. He colored on some with crayons and shrink wrapped others. We dipped. We spilled. We stickered. We had a beautiful bowl of pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and striped eggs. When all was said and done- Breckin leaped out of his chair and yelled "This was the most fun day EVER! I LOVE you guys." He marched the Boba Fett egg right over to Chully cause he knew that was his favorite guy. Happiness is sooooo easy. Plus, Ella slept right through the whole thing. Happy Easter, kiddos.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chuck E Sleaze

Ugh. If you have ever been to Chuck E Cheese for any reason other than a birthday party, I question your sanity. The sleaze factor among the patrons of our neighborhood Chuck E is so high, I wonder if the sign above the door says "Are you a dad who looks like a molestor? Come on in!" The short backstory is that Dustin was gone from 5:30 am until midnight:30 on Sunday so I figured I would do something "fun" that he always drags his feet about. Honey, you win. You were right, I was wrong. Neener neener boo boo on me. Chuck E Cheese is, quite possibly, hell on Earth. We took Breckin there for a birthday party two years ago and I remember thinking it was a little insane but- it was Saturday and there were two adults to monitor one child. Not too bad.

For some reason, I figured Sunday would be better. And, I changed the odds drastically in the kids' favor- two of them to one of me. Can someone pour me a glass of wine? I can't even recall the day's events without my body screaming for a drink. Here we go. It's pouring down rain outside so as soon as we pull into the parking lot, I remind Breckin not to get out until I already have Ella (in her 100 lb car seat) in tow as to avoid the soggification of my child. We dash into the front door to be greeted by the entire population of Disneyland on the Friday of spring break crammed into a room the size of a McDonalds. I wanna get away. I'm stuck cause the look on Breckin's face is priceless. He is clearly in hog heaven. Come on, mom skills, kick in.

We get safety stamped, get a table, I remove Ella from her cement block of a seat, dump coats, get drinks to "mark our spot", and tokens to play every game he wants. I am hoisting Ella around on my hip while trying to chase the crazed lunatic from hamster maze to Bob the Builder ride-on Scoop to skee ball to whac-a-mole and back to maze. I have to literally elbow my way through the mobs of people- most of whom are radiating unavoidable body odor. Have you seen Home Alone? Remember when Macauley Culkin ran around the house on fast forward with his arms in the air? That was Breckin. He loved it. I wanted to cry. I spent TWO HOURS holding Ella with one hand while carrying a token cup and reams of tickets and throwing the skee ball with the other hand. My back hurt. I was roasting hot. And, if I ever heard one more person yell "(Insert child's name here), you better move your ass over here with me or wearegoinghomerightthisinstant" and then not follow through, I was going to call Dr. Phil on them. Don't get me started on empty threats. That's a whole 'nother post.

We played about 40 tokens, ended up with 56 tickets, and Breckin learned life's hard lesson about the decreasing value of paper tickets. His two hours of hard work resulted in a light-up spinning top instead of the Hot Wheels set with the 8,000 ticket price. He was in tears. He so wanted that Hot Wheels set. His face was red from all the running around, he could not get enough crappy pizza and lemonade to quench his angst, and he could not stop sobbing. It was time to go. We dashed back out the car with promises of returning someday if he left with an ounce of dignity and started the bedtime plan immediately upon arriving at home. Did I lie? Maybe. Probably not cause at some point, in about two years, I'll have forgotten all about how horrible Chuck E Cheese is and take him back there. For now, if anyone else wants to be his hero, I invite you to brave Chuck E Sleaze. Call me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cool Mom part 3

Sunday morning. Everyone wakes up happy. Ella didn't sleep well which means we both didn't sleep well but at least Breckin slept from 8:25 to 7:45 so being up every 2 hours is tolerable when it lasts for 11 hours. A quick breakfast of Captain Crunch, grapes, and apple slices while watching Handy Manny in the motel room was shared by Buddy and me in anticipation of meeting Joslyn, Michael, and Courtney for brunch later that morning.

We have nothing on our plate for Sunday other than spending time with our favorite Eastsiders and driving home. Talk about going from a crammed day to an empty day. We gather ourselves back in the car and head West to Spokane. After a minor switcheroo, we end up at Madeline's in downtown Spokane. If the Brewery was ridiculous yesterday, this place was reeedonkulous. Breakfast is to Madeline's as burgers are to Miners. It's that good. The berry french toast and I are getting married next week. It's always great to hang out with Jos and Court but to have a scrumptous meal like that with them.... heavenly. Have I mentioned that the food is good? And, to top it off, Breckin was still well-behaved.

I knew he was just starting to get punchy towards the end so we scurried over to Riverfront Square to use the potty. I spy a children's museum in the bottom of the mall and figured- hey, an hour to get all remaining wiggles out would be good for all of us. We hugged Jos and Court goodbye and went to explore. He was beside himself. It was like they made that place for him. They had a marble maze, road track for plasma cars, pretend fishing village, train table, tree house with hiding hole, and giant lego building space. I warned him that as soon as Ella woke up and needed to eat, we'd need to leave. He agreed. And, when it was time, he left with no complaint. I knew he was tired and ready to go and to sit with me while she ate was going to be a chore. I told him- bribery, I know, it's not great but sometimes it works- that if he was good and patient while she ate, he could pick out a new good night friend from Nordy's.

We hunkered down in the mother's lounge and Ella got to work. He was good at the start. Only jumping around on the floor. Then the furniture tricks started. He knocked over a giant cushioned foot stool. I stayed calm. He sat upside down on the couch. I stayed calm. He jumped up and down on a fancy, supermod decorative couch. I stayed very calm and told him- jump again and you don't get a new toy. He was good and patient for 1.5 minutes. He jumped on the couch, looked at me like "I know what I just did was bad", and I said "that's it- no new toy." Welcome to major breakdown. Breckin proceeded to sit on the floor and fake cry and promised he would never jump on the couch again. "Mommy, let's start over, I'll make a better choice. Mommy, you are not cool. You are not fun." He repeated this over and over to which I replied, I know Buddy but that's what happens when you make bad choices.

Several nice patrons of Nordys walked in and out of our little man learning the lesson that mommy means what she says. They all left with smiles on their faces at the poor boy who jumped on the couch and lost a privilege. Two gave me thumbs up. I knew he didn't think I was cool or fun right then but I knew I was. Ella finished up and we headed to the car with no new good night friend. He was upset but I could tell what he really wanted was to get in the car, turn on a movie, and zone out for a while. He didn't fall asleep until we passed the Snoqualmie Ski area but the whole drive home he was calm, cool, and patient. I'm so proud of him.

Cool Mom part 2

So, we've landed in CdA- that's what the locals refer to it as so I'm joining in. Our dinky motel is clean and roomy. Coulda fooled me from the looks of it. We meet up with the Biss's and grab lunch. For those of you that work at the CdA Brewery, I apologize. We left more food on the floor than in our bellies. Breckin made Tim say "Bowling with Bumpers" louder and more times that anyone should have to hear. No one could sit still. It was a disaster but the food was.... in the words of Tim.... ridiculous. Seriously. So good.

I told Breckin that I spied a candy store and a toy store and we would definitely be making stops there after we dropped in on Jos. And drop in on Jos, we did. Her face, when this group of ragamuffins rolled by her store window, was priceless. Ever see someone from work outside of the workplace and you think "they shouldn't be here. they don't exist away from their desk." That's it. Why in the hell would two families with small children drive 5+ hours to get some olive oil? Pure love, that's why.

So, after a quick visit to the CdA olive oil company, we went to Figpickles or Pigfickles or Mister Magoriums Wonder Emporium- whatever that toy store is called. Breckin struck gold with a plastic tube full of trucks. Candy store? Not as cool but the ice cream coulda fooled them. Good enough. Here's where I fall back on my white trashy roots. Ella needed to eat. And, I needed olive oil products. So- sorry Jos- I used her coat closet to feed my baby. Scrunched down on the floor of a broom closet, nursing Ella, with Breckin in my lap, too and whisper-yelling at him to keep the door closed- is not my proudest moment. You do what works but that was a low point for me. Not enough yet? Let's go swimming.

Our motel didn't have a pool but the Biss's did. We ran back to the room, changed into suits (including Ella!), and scrambled over to their pool. Here's my cool moment. We are sitting on the bed in our cheesy motel getting Ella into her suit when Breckin says: "Mommy, you're cool. And you're fun." My heart swells. I say "thanks buddy" and he says "you don't have to say thank you. I got a tube of trucks." Ahhhh.

Swam for an hour, changed 7 people in under 30 minutes, and met Michael and Jos for dinner. Again, Breckin is being a champ. He's just going with the flow. We get out of dinner at 8:03. Call Daddy at 8:22. Two sleeping kids by 8:25.

Let's recap. 5:30 am- kids up
6:00 am- in the car, on the road
8:00, 12:20- feed Ella
12:30- get to motel
1:30- eat lunch, walk around, get toys, visit Jos
4:30- swim
5:45- change, head back out
6:30- dinner
8:00- bed time
That's a long day for anyone- adults included. These kids handled it with smiles and grace. I couldn't ask for more.
Stay tuned.

Cool Mom goes on a Road Trip part 1

If you know Jos, and you see her, pat her on the back. She has acheived what most of us dream of. She traded in a cushy, big business, suit-wearing job for a nerve-wracking, small business, be-your-own-boss job. I caught wind of her olive oil shop grand opening and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene at the crack of dawn on Saturday. With both kids in tow. Without the physical assistance of my husband. I love flying by the seat of my pants. Dustin fully supported us taking off without him- after all, he already had a golf date (there's a back story there that we'll get to later).

So, decision was made on Friday morning. Friday night was spent charging the portable DVD player, charging the camera battery, washing Ella's clothes, filling up with gas, getting cash (it was a well-budgeted trip!), and packing the car with toys and luggage so all we had to do in the morning was feed Ella and leave. As luck would have it, baby girl woke up 30 min before my alarm. And so did Breckin. My master plan of scooping them up out of bed and letting them sleep in the car was destroyed. Ella ate and fell right back asleep. No such luck with Buddy. I left him in his jammies and played soft music but it was all in vain. That kid was up. And excited. Sooooo a trip through Starbucks for me, a McD's sausage sandwich for him, and we were on the road.

Let me just say this. I have the BEST road trip kids on the planet. He never got bored. He never whined. He picked a baggie of veggies over a package of chocolate chip cookies. When the battery on his DVD player ran out, he didn't get upset. When we had to nurse Ella in front of the gas station in Ellensburg with me in the front passenger seat and him still stuck in the car, he didn't complain. When there was no town to speak of between Ritzville and Spangle, he didn't complain. (That kid always has to know what town he's in. It was hard for him to understand that sometimes there just wasn't a town.) When we drove down the hill into Spokane, he got more and more excited. When our destination was 40 minutes past Spokane, he didn't complain. I would drive across the country with those kids.... finally I've found a trait that they get from me. More later.....

Breathe in, breathe out.

Before we get to the "hey, it's been a year since I've posted anything" point, I'm posting. Somewhere along the line, I got the notion that I have to put pictures on here if I'm going to post anything. Breathe, I tell myself. It's perfectly ok to just update with a cute story and not put pics up.

Here's what happened. This morning, Ella grabbed her toes. She was just chillin on the changing table when her chubby, cute little feet flashed in front of her face and- blamo!- those things are better than a rattle! She grabbed a toe and squealed. I thought, March 25th- grabbed her toes. Got it. HELLO?!?! I can't remember what Breckin did at school yesterday- how in the heck am I going to remember that Ella grabbed a toe? I better write it down. Where? Her baby book is a traditional 2nd child's baby book. Not opened. So, here I am. Posting again after a huge absence. Forgive me.

Also, I'm killing two birds with one stone. I overheard a genius mommy in the Nordstrom mother's lounge saying "oh, and I just got my blog book the other day. Now I have a traditional baby book and my mommy blog version." WHAT?!?!? You can have these things printed? I'm in. So, hopefully I'll remember to write every little milestone down and fill in the cutesy baby book on a rainy day.

I have a bunch of darling photos of the kiddos (I never seem to get myself or the hubby in them) that will make it on here someday. For now, I'll just breathe.