26 July 2011

Puppy love

It's a little amazing to me how quickly he just became a part of our family; we were three, and now we're four. He's woven in to V's imaginary stories, he's a part of our morning/afternoon/evening routine, and when we're away, we all miss him. Life is too short to not share it with a dog, for me anyway.
Sweet Seven, we're so glad you're here!

25 July 2011

Today's tidbits

Some random things that have occurred so far today:

1. Marriage therapy: Shaun and I have been seeing a marriage therapist for over a year now. She's awesome, and we're better to each other because we know her. Some days we feel like the worst matched couple in the history of the universe, but most days we work to make it better. She helps us to do that.

2. I got bit by an ant. Between my breasts. Sexy ant bite, eh?

3. We have Will and Emmy today, and again I'm reminded of how much harder it is to have more than one child. V and Will wanted to swim, but Emmy got tired of being splashed and wanted to go inside. With just one of me and three of them, it's all about negotiations. I am humbled by the parents of two or more.

4. Screaming meltdown: V had a psychobilly freakout over a cheap plastic lanyard that Will was playing with, because, she insists, "I was playing with it first!" Perhaps a better parent would try to ascertain who was right or wrong here, but I didn't care who had it first. You have an entire house full of toys, child. Adjust.

5. Ms. Fix-it: I repaired the protective guard on the lawnmower, put a Burger King Transformer back together, rescheduled two appointments, and reassembled a fashion-plate-like toy. All before 3pm. Now if I just figure out how to change the lightbulb in the hall, we'd be good to go.

How's your Monday?

24 July 2011

Languishing's Claims to Fame (List #19)

I try not to be obsessed with numbers of readers for the blog: in the end, the point is to reach the people who wanna know what we’re up to, and anyone else is welcome to read along. But blogger keeps track for me, and so once in a while I check out the numbers. Here’s what I’ve learned from them:

1.      Readership is highest overall when there’s something drastic going on. This has been especially true in the last year, and posts about Shaun’s physical or mental health are usually very well read. I imagine the reasons for this are two fold: first, people love excitement, and we’ve certainly had plenty of that, and secondly, my husband is more loved than he realizes. Perhaps I should only blog about him.

2.      If I did that, though, I wouldn’t have these other posts that get lots of hits all the time. The most popular post I’ve ever written, by far, with 3 times more hits than any other post, is “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.” It’s just a silly little post about how much I like the alphabet, but apparently people hear that phrase, google it, and wind up here. Not enough experts on the topic of pangrams, clearly.

3.      The next runner up is the first in my series of list posts, about inanimate objects. Apparently, people fairly often search the internets for “inanimate objects list.” My list isn't fully inanimate, either, so I'm totally misinforming the universe.  I hope it’s not a common high school assignment, but I’m not really sure why else so many people are looking that up. It’s not a song lyric I don’t know about, is it?

4.      And in third place for most read posts is one from the second year of the blog, about gardening with V. I titled it “The most fertile soil on the planet” and that’s pretty much the series of words, or a variation therein, that brings people to that post.  Perhaps I should do a series of posts like that, with titles like “The Happiest Place on Earth” or “Best Dental Practices” and see what happens to my readership.

It's a little strange, how new people wander in to the Languishing universe. When Languishing was a print zine, it had a ripple effect when contributors shared their comped copies, but it was a small ripple. So go the internets, I suppose. Big, irregular, random ripples.

23 July 2011

Day at the Park

Yesterday I took the niece, the nephew, and the daughter to the city park near my hometown. As they ran through this field, I was singing the Little House on the Prairie theme song, but Emmy refused to fall down ala Carrie. Damn uncooperative toddlers.

They did cooperate with each other, though, when I was too lazy to push the merry-go-round any longer. They took turns pushing like it was the best idea ever; I was very proud.

Until V decided she wanted to ride the tree frog, at which point Will disagreed by slapping her in the head. To be fair, the tree frog IS a far superior animal to the kangaroo, snail, or tiger. 

While the cousins explored a tic-tac-toe game, I explained how when their mama and I were little girls, we had a big fall festival out here every year, and it was big doin's. I recall roasted pork, nickels in straw, three legged races, and other wholesome small town goodness. They were more interested in the tic-tac-toe.

I found half a bag of Cheetos in my purse, and pretended I'd packed them a picnic. They totally bought it, and Em managed to get Cheeto dust up to her forehead.

Then they played on a small stage, and yelled "CLAP!" at me at random times. So I did.

Back at the big pavilion, I decided if Jess & my childhood couldn't enthrall them, maybe I'd go further back. "Your great-great-grandfather helped build this shelter," I said. "My Grandma Minnie told me she remembered bringing him lunch while he and the other men were building it." This is all true, but it's a bit of a stretch, I guess, for kids five and under to care about the grandfather of the grandfather they've never met.
Especially when there's stuff upon which to swing.

It's not a fancy playground, but I care for it a great deal, and it filled our morning with lots of adventures. It was a fine day.

21 July 2011

Big City

The day before our trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul, the girl got a haircut. She wants to grow her bangs out, and I agreed only if she'd let us put in a ponytail or a barrette every single day; this is something she has resisted, often violently, since birth. The next morning, she requested 5 ponytails.
 She never does anything halfway, our girl.

So this trip to the Cities was primarily to serve three purposes: for Shaun to see some of his city friends, and for V to see Nickelodeon World. Oh, and for our family to have a quality family vacation. We stayed in a hotel very near the Mall of America (minding the bedbug reports), packed some snacks, our swimsuits, and a few changes of clothes and considered ourselves ready.

Only I forgot to bring clothes for V.

I mean, I brought socks and undies. And her swimsuit But nothing else. I don't know how this happens to me, but usually I don't forget ALL of her clothes. Rather than be normal, and buy her at least a t-shirt, my frugal self just shook out her orange t-shirt every night. She wore it three days in a row. She didn't care at all, but it does make it look like we did a whole heckuva lot in one day, instead of the actual three.

First stop, after freshening up at the hotel: The Rainforest Cafe for dinner with college friends of Shaun's. We got to meet their son and his girlfriend, and I just adore all four of them. Unfortunately for everyone, Shaun, V, and I had never been to this particular restaurant. It's very....stimulating. Visually, it's really lovely and cave-like. And it's noisy, like a rainforest, with thunderstorms every half hour. Cool, right? Well, yeah, if you're not V, who gets overwhelmed sometimes.
 She spent most of the evening like this. When her rainbow drink in her rainbow glass came, she insisted it was a rainbow party! But only took one hand away.

Afterwards, though, when she caught sight of Nickelodeon Universe, she was feeling much better.

The next morning (yes, it's the same shirt. Remember my limited packing skills?)

 Woody at Lego Land (which is conveintly located just outside Nickelodeon Universe).
 V built a safe house. That's what she called it.
 Oh, Kai-lan, you Chinese Dora you.
 So many characters to meet! Here's Tyrone, Pablo, Uniqua, and V, for those of you unfamiliar.

And even more impressive characters, these three gentlemen, with whom we enjoyed lunch, and then they kindly came with us to watch V in her nirvana.  They all went to high school with Shaun.

And dear Brad, who spent time with us on his birthday, even rode the rides that Shaun and I are too wussy to ride.

Later, we had dinner at another college friend's house, and talked about their upcoming (third!) baby while our kids played as if it hadn't been years between our visits.

In between socializing, we swam at the hotel's salt water pool, looked at the tall buildings like the fine country folk we are, and regretted not visiting more of our dear friends, despite not having much time between social obligations already.

It was a fine trip, overall. And V even said she'd go back to the Rainforest Cafe. After she turns 18.

Leftover snapshots

Sometimes I take photos and I mean for them to end up in a particular post, but they just don't. And then sometimes I go back and notice these photos and think, huh, that was kinda pretty.

And then sometimes I think of that old Sesame Street segment, "One of these things is not like the other." And I get all sappy and nostalgic.

And then I share it with you.

15 July 2011

A reprieve of sorts

Over a year after his initial diagnosis, Shaun finally got some substantially good news about his heart this week. His second echocardiogram from six months ago showed an ejection fraction of 30%, up significantly from his original 15-20%. Still, though, according to the experts, anything below 35% is in the red zone, meaning essentially holy-shit-how-are-you-still-walking-upright? and would require the implantation of a defibrillator.

We were pretty much braced for that step. I mean, he would then be part robot (sweet), and I wouldn't have to break the glass on any AED machines, because he'd have that power within his own chest. But it made me a little queasy, somehow, because it's not as if we could forget, ever, about his extremely poorly named illness once he had a medical device implanted just under his skin.

So yesterday, hanging out in the Heart Place Waiting Room (which is not what it's called but whatever) with the white haired ladies and guys on oxygen tanks, I tried to take deep breaths.  It's okay. It's better than having him drop dead in front of me. It'll be a cool party trick when I yell "Clear!" periodically.

The doctor raised his eyebrow as he checked Shaun's latest test results (a MUGA test, this time, which is more precise and also, apparently, more radioactive). I hate raised eyebrows. Shaun and I held hands, and we were both sure the news was going to be bad. Instead, he said "You're at 39%..." What? You mean 29%, right? Or 19%? Nope. "...which means you're not eligible for a defibrillator." What? Really? I mean, maybe we'll regret this sometime, when the robots rise up and an implant would've spared him, but for now? 39 is my most favorite number of all time.

He'll keep working, watching his sodium, exercising, and taking his medications. 39% is just above the red zone, after all. But I feel like we dodged a bullet, at least for now, and I'm so, so glad.

14 July 2011

A Fairly Good Time

I have an unhealthy fondness for carnival signs. These are outside the ferris wheel, and illustrate that a ride on it costs $4. And also that you have to be over 42"tall to ride it without a parent or guardian. I would like both of them outside my house.
It was a perfect, perfect day for the fair: sunny but not too hot, with a nice little breeze. Of course everyone else thought so, too, so we had to wait in a few little lines, but it was worth it.
My sweet fairmates.
From the top of the bigger of the two Ferris Wheels. Our sweet little fair makes me happy.
V recommends the Tornado. Shaun and I do not, and Shaun especially suggests that if you have heart failure of any type, you sit this one out.
Even if your darling daughter blinks her steel blue eyes at you from behind her oversized sunglasses.
It was a really, really good day.

12 July 2011

List #18: My favorite characters from books and films.

Like choosing favorite films, favorite characters can be tricky: these are my top nine today. Tomorrow will most certainly be different. And though I've numbered these, I really can't rank many of them at all.

9. Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove. I want to drink whiskey with him, and hear him sing crochety old cowboys songs in the morning.
8. Princess Leia. I can point to her as a princess who takes care of her own business. Suck on that, Disney.
7. Desdemona, from Othello. Oh, pure Desdemona. Every time I read the play, I hope she wins. Every. Time.
6. Isabella from the cheesy historical romance novel Rose of Rapture. My lord, that book deserves its own post. I don't want to just hang out with Isabella: I want to BE her.
5. Inigo Montoya: Mandy Patinkin's finest work.
4. Dewey Dell Bundren. She's not a smart woman, nor an especially kind one, but she really ties the novel As I Lay Dying together.
3. Esperanza in The House on Mango Street.  You should really read that book if you haven't yet. I'm part Esperanza, and part Esperanza's best friend. But with less Latina, and more Scandinavia.
2. Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He's a little boring, but full of goodness, ache, and love. He appeals to me tremendously, despite the fact (or perhaps because?) he's played by Jim Carrey.
1. Fran from Strictly Ballroom. I...I can't explain Fran. She's like Ophelia and Leia and Esperanza all rolled into one Australian dream. I would totally hang out with Fran.

Howsabout you? Are you familiar with my choices? What are some of your favorites today?

11 July 2011

Gus the toad

Will, V and I rescued a toad from a window well in Fargo today. We brought him home, named him Gus, and let him go in the garden. But first we took some pictures. (Thanks to Charlotte for the inspiration).

 As a girl growing up in Hendrum, I played with toads and frogs as soon as I could walk. My daughter and nephew, however, have many more forms of entertainment available to them. This was, as far as I can recall, their first toad.

 "You touch him." "No, you go ahead."
 "His belly is squishy, but his back is rough," V said with genuine wonder when she finally worked up the courage to let me place him in her hands. I don't know how it is that I've raised a child with so little toad experience in her first five years.
Gus, to his credit, was very patient. And now he's free.

08 July 2011

My Little Dinner Party

I teach Judy Chicago’s art installation The DinnerParty in my Women in the Humanities course, and it never fails to make an impact on the students. So I thought it only fitting to create my own Dinner Party guest list.

1.      Sylvia Plath: you sweet, broken genius. Come over and have tea. I’ll keep you away from the oven if you stay away from my daddy issues.

2.      Elizabeth Cady Stanton: How fantastic to have one of the mothers of feminism at our table! Please, Elizabeth, stay awhile and help us fix this unholy mess of a country.

3.      Marilyn Monroe: I believe she was way smarter than any of us gave her credit for, and broken like the rest of us.

4.      Susan B. Anthony: a little redundant, what with E. C. Stanton, but I bet she’d be fun at parties.

5.      Liz Phair: given the guest list, I think she’d be a kick-ass addition. Plus, she’s also the only one besides me who’s still alive.

6.      7, 8, and 9. My great-grandmothers, Beatta, Myra, Elizabeth, and Emilie. I never met any of them, and I think it would be cool to hang out with all 4. I know Beatta died of cancer, Myra is whom my mother is named after, Elizabeth had long, thick, white hair, and Emilie had five children including identical twins, one of which she named Emil. I don’t know if they like talking politics, or music, or Kennedys, but we’ll figure out something.

We would eat expensive cheese, drink cheap wine, and have lefse. Who would you invite to your party?