Sunday, January 31, 2010


It's Sunday morning. The girls and I are having breakfast and I think to myself, "I need to go to Target for 'X'." A slurp of strong coffee and a moment later, I cannot remember what I need at Target. I sat in that chair and went back over my train of thought for at least a half a cup of java, and I simply can't remember!

I used to have a fabulous memory. If you dropped me on Ford Road, I could take you to the apartment I lived in when I was 5 years old. I remember the address of the place I lived in when I was 7. I remember my grandmother's phone number she got in 1977. (602.996.1275!) But now, I can't remember something I thought of one minute earlier.

I don't think I'm having a senior moment. I'm pretty sure it's a form of Mommy Brain. See, it starts when you're pregnant. When I was about 5 months along, I got out of our minivan one afternoon, and left the door open. It was open all night. It rained that night. Whoops. And the battery was dead. Then after the babies were born, there was a combo of hormones and psychosis-inducing sleep deprivation; I was utterly witless. Oh, and I cried a lot. Now, I'm getting decent sleep and the hormones have leveled out, mostly. And I can't remember the simplest thing! It drives me to despair.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hands down, the worst night's sleep in recorded parent history

Ah, where to begin? Perhaps some back story is in order.

There are many factors that combined to create the disaster that was last night. We attended a brunch and Claire & Aeron had a great time playing with other kids, and other kids' toys. Then we came home and spent the afternoon in the back yard; Miles and I were weeding and the girls and Cam were having a gay ole time digging in the dirt, whacking trees with garden implements, and climbing the fence, etc. Aeron kept throwing rocks at her daddy, the naughty thing... As a result of all this thrilling activity, the girls didn't nap yesterday, so by 7pm, they were exhausted, sobbing wrecks. Once they settled down, they were out like a light. In addition, Aeron has had a cough. It's getting better, she's not really sick; it's most likely a post-nasal drip thing.

Then there is the pissing contest between Kayla and Mitzi. Literally. Kayla's been gone a lot, as the Templeton Mock Trial Team is gearing up for the big competition. Mitzi, for reasons of her own, has been using Kayla's bed as a litter box. As you can imagine, this makes an already tense and irritable Kayla still yet more irritable. She didn't have the time or the will to deal with the problem on Friday and slept on the family room couch. So, Kayla got home yesterday evening from an away scrimmage that had lasted all day and she was beat. She threw her bedding in the wash, then flopped on the sofa bed in the living room and was instantly asleep.

OK, so, three kids down, one left. Cameron and his dad were in the family room, playing with Cam's Mindstorm set. (Think robotic Lego's). The boys had a grand time and Cam was in bed by 10:30. Miles joins me in the bed, we're both reading a book with a glass of wine, and peace descends on the house.

That's when the fun began.

Aeron started to cough. She'd cough for bit, there'd be a pause, then she'd cough some more. After a couple rounds of this, she began to cry/whine. I can't remember which of us went first, but one of us went in to her and came out carrying Aeron back to our bed. She'd snuggle for a bit, falling back to sleep, then Miles would carry her back to bed, prop her up on her reading pillow, cover her with Pink Blanket and give her Blue Bear to cuddle.

We did this three more times by midnight. The cherry on the sundae? Kayla, whose sleep has been disrupted, asking me from her position on the living room sofa, in that teen-age tone of voice (the one that seems to say, "why are you so stupid?!"), "Jen, why don't you give her a drink of water or some cough medicine?!" I don't recall what I answered, but I'm quite certain it wasn't polite. Then Miles suggested I turn up the heat, maybe that would help Aeron sleep. The nut sprinkles on top? I checked the thermostat; someone had turned the heat off. It was 64 degrees. I turned it back on and that seemed to make the difference.

About an hour later, Claire woke up, discovered she'd had an accident and came sobbing into our room. She was most distraught because Purple Blanket was wet. I handled this one, leaving Miles to snooze. So I clean the girl up; get her new jammies, tuck her back in, find an acceptable replacement for Purple Blanket, swear to the child I'll wash Purple Blanket tomorrow. While I'm in their room, I prop Aeron up on her pillow, just for good measure.

So now it about 1:45am and I'm wide awake. I noodle around on the internet for a bit, have a couple of pieces of medicinal chocolate, then head back to bed. I'm just getting back to sleep when I hear someone ratting around downstairs, going in and out of the garage. Next I hear someone snarling, then someone stomping up the stairs. Kayla stands in darkened doorway to our room, and loudly, and disgustedly declares, "Mitzi just peed on bed! While I watched! I'm so mad!" then stomps off.

Miles tells me that he was awake for a couple of hours after that. I managed to get back to sleep, eventually. My husband, hero that he is, still managed to get up and get all the kids to church. I, on the other hand, helped get the little girls dressed for church, then collapsed back into bed and slept 'til 2pm.

I love my children. Really, I do. I just wish they'd let me sleep.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the middle of the night; episode 10


Is that a little girl I hear? It's hard to tell; I have the manic purring of a neurotic kitten in my right ear, and the gentle snoring of my beloved husband in my left. I pick my head up off the pillow. Yup, that's the faint sound of a whining Aeron, drifting gently through the night.

Maybe she'll stop.....please stop....just go to sleep, kid!

But, of course, she doesn't stop.

I stumble into the girls' room and find the light on, Aeron kneeling next to her bed, ratting through her shoe basket.

"Aeron. What's wrong?" I whisper as I turn off the light.

"Mom! My foots itch!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life lessons

Lately, it seems life is attempting to teach me a few things.

Lesson the first - Stop gripping about energetic children.

Claire has been down with a virus all this week. It started with throwing up, followed by fever, listlessness, and sniveling, then some more throwing up. This caused all sorts of wrinkles in scheduled activities, not mention worry and interrupted sleep. I think I'd much rather have healthy, climbing-the-walls kids.

Lesson the second - Do not allow a geek to choose your cell phone.

My cell phone was dying, exhibiting weird hardware quirks and refusing to hold a charge. I went to my providers website, and picked out a new phone. Miles was in charge of ordering, then I get this call from him. He's breathless with excitement; there's a smoking deal on a smart phone! Buy one, get one free! I just couldn't bring myself to rain on his gadget parade. Two days later, the box arrives and now I'm trying to figure out this gizmo that is way more phone than I need. So far, I've managed to choose a wallpaper and a ringtone. No clue how to actually use the thing.

Lesson the third - Virtue is more than just it's own reward.

I have a deal on with my sweetie. If I can fit into my vintage peacock cocktail dress by our anniversary, he'll take me to House of Prime Rib in San Francisco. I started the year with some success; five pounds were gone. And that was all about dietary virtue. No wine, more whole grains and veggies, no afternoon coffee or late night snacks. I fell off the wagon last night; a couple of glasses of wine and a 10pm nibble. Result? A pound and a half back. Seems a pretty clear cause-and-effect relationship to me.

Message received. Consider me lessoned, already!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The end of the old year and the ringing in of the new

2009 is over. Hallelujah!

For some, it was worst than for others. Kids without insurance getting cancer. People losing their jobs. Good friends transferred to places they'd really rather not be. Folks unable to afford their mortgage payment, yet unable to sell the house. The Templeton Clarks have little to complain about, really. Miles was "furloughed" as he is a State of California employee. Which meant he got two unpaid days off a month, and a 10% cut in salary. Like so many occurrences in life, it may have been a blessing in disguise. The reduction in income has forced us to look at what we were spending our money on and to cut away the fat. It required us to not spending frivolously at Christmas. We bought less gifts, and instead, made more cookies together.

The Dodges came to celebrate New Year's Eve with us. We had 6 kids in the house, plus Mother and Father Clark and my favorite brother-in-law Trevor, as well. Nice crowd. We feasted, Miles and Johan washed dishes, Melinda made chocolate fondue, the little girls stuffed themselves silly with angel food cake. I confess I almost didn't make it to midnight. While others played Monopoly, I was horizontal on the sofa with my eyes closed. But the pop of champagne corks roused me from my slumbers and lots of kisses and hugs and good wishes for the new year were loudly declared. ( how Claire and Aeron slept through it all I do not know....)

Next morning, Johan made a Dutch yummy, poffertjes. Along with a truly decadent amount of country bacon. Then Miles washed more dishes, bless his heart. Then the Dodges needed to head back home.