Friday, July 31, 2009

Cumulo-Nimbus Concerns

As a child I was petrified of storms. I don't know that there is any one specific event that caused my fear. Rather a series, I imagine, of storm-related incidents. When I was two there were several tornadoes in our West Texas town on the same night, and the trauma may have begun then. I only remember feeling physically ill at the thought of a tornado. The sirens scared me silly. None of this was helped, of course, by the educational video we watched in Kindergarten showing a happy little Texas family sitting outside for a picnic, little knowing that their home was soon to be swept away by a vicious tornado later that evening. I still remember sitting there drinking from my cardboard milk carton and being more horrified than I ever was at any movie for the rest of my life. (Except Outbreak, but that's a different story.)

Regardless of its origins, my fear was almost a physical thing, and probably kept me more dependent on God than I would otherwise have been in my secure and loving little home. In fact, my dad says I prayed away every rain cloud in West Texas the whole time we lived there. However, I refuse to bear responsibility for that drought.

As I grew older, I slowly lost my fear, or if not lost it, at least it lessened. I think the change came when we moved to Colorado for a few years where we not only lived outside of tornado alley for the first time in my life, but we also lived in a basement, so even if...

Basements. As a child I always swore that I would never live in a home again that did not have a cellar. And now, at the age of thirty, I have yet to live in a home with a cellar. Of any kind at all. Of course I have a little better sense of perspective than I did as a child, so I don't feel that same driving terror every time I see a storm cloud (in fact, I kind of enjoy them) but I do watch the radar carefully, and I still feel that little knot in my stomach at the thought of all the what ifs...

Unfortunately, my son seems to have caught something of this fear. I've been very careful to hide it from him, so maybe it's genetic. I don't know. But he always worries about storms, and tonight, when he heard his Daddy and I talking about the chances of rain he said, "I sure hope it's just nimbo-stratus clouds!" with his big, worried, blue eyes looking up into the sky.

Me too, little guy. Me too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where Did That Come From?

My son is pretending that his imaginary friend, Spikit,(pronounced Spike-it) has a pet head louse. Earlier he and I had to be various viruses and bacteria invading different body cells. Then we were T and B cells for a while.

After removing all her swimming gear, (No, we didn't go swimming today.) my daughter started running around the house shaking a portable doll crib full of all the loose change from the piggy bank, singing "Jingle Bells".

And Art wonders why I look so tired and confused when he gets home from work in the evenings. These kids are exhausting!

De-Lurking Day

While I don't plan to stop blogging any time soon, I have to say that it's become a little disheartening. I certainly don't expect everyone to comment on every post, but I have a sneaking suspicion that not only are people not commenting, they aren't even reading anymore.

I love being able to record memories from this time in my life as a Mommy and etc., and that's the main reason I'm keeping up with it at all, but it's also nice to know that there are people out there who care enough to, you know, read it every now and then. I know several relatives have stopped reading it all together, and that makes me a little sad, although it's perfectly understandable.

In light of this, I am declaring my own personal de-lurking day. If you are reading this post, and, more specifically, if you read my blog in general, please leave me a comment. If you don't have an internet identity, just post your comment as anonymous and include your name in your comment. In fact, you don't even have to write a comment; you can just write your name or some nickname that I will recognize.

Consider it a little encouragement for a friend or loved one if that helps you.

I know I don't write every single day, so you might get tired of checking the blog only to find that it hasn't changed. That's where something like Bloglines comes in. There should be a link to it in the left column of my blog somewhere. You can create an account on bloglines and put all the blogs you read in there. Then when one of those blogs has a new post, their name will show up in bold instead of regular print. That way you can keep track of several people if you want, but you don't have to check all their pages every day. You just check bloglines, and then connect directly to the blogs that have new posts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Submersible Thinking

Zaya's been fascinated with oceans, particularly the deepest parts (bathypelagic zones), all summer. He turns into a different deep sea creature (or bacteria) every time I turn around, and I've mostly been his prey, of course. He's also been obsessed with swimming and diving. (In the pool and in the bathtub. Anywhere with water, really.)

He's even invented several new denizens of the deep. (Like the Empalaudic Reacschment and the Gravel-filled Bubbler: each has his own interesting physical make-up and behavior pattern. I won't go into detail here, but I have them written up for his scrapbook.)

This evening he was concerned to discover that the deep-sea explorers who go down in the Alvin (a submersible) have a limited supply of oxygen, which means they can only dive for a little while before they have to return to the surface for air.

After thinking about this for a bit he said that when he grows up and has his own country he'll invent an Alvin with a large pipe that takes in sea water and filters it and then sends the water out the other side, taking the oxygen out in the process to use for the people inside; "kind of a like a fish's gills, Mom."

Sounds good to me. Now how do I get this thing built and patented.

And another worrying and why does he plan to 'get his own country' I'd like to know. If he has world domination on the agenda, he'll need to stop focusing so much on science and maybe learn some history and addition. (I guess all they need to know these days in government is subtraction.)

Here's his Attorney General. The child is becoming increasingly good at making what she wants to do sound reasonable. She's also pretty cute, which is dangerous to Mommy's sense of justice and right.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flourishing Fruitlessly

Remember our little herb garden dreams early this spring? Art and I finally finished building it in time to plant a few seeds and a few small plants, Now it is full to the point of overflowing and the kids and I have had a lot of fun choosing herbs for the occasional meals that I actually cook. Here it is in all its glory. (That brown patch is cilantro that has already seeded out. So would you call it coriander now?) (Oh, here's another interesting fact. Coriander is named after a bedbug that it smells like. So I hear. Appetizing, no?)

What is that huge bush up there in the corner, you may ask? Those would be three tomato bushes, actually. Jellybean tomato, or so the little pots said when I planted them. These plants are five feet tall, and rather bushy as you can see, but they currently have two small green tomatoes on them. Total. Over the last month we have harvested eight tomatoes. Total. Did I mention that they're Jellybean tomatoes? As in, same size as...Yeah. Not very productive.

The kids and I found a few pumpkin seeds, so we dug a little hole in the bermuda grass behind the cellar and planted them. From that little hole springs this incredible tangle of vines that stretch, you can see, about twenty feet or so around the end of the cellar.

It has produced one large pumpkin, and two tiny green ones.

The dwarf lime bush and the cosmos are both doing well, but as you can see, our ratio of leaves to fruit and flowers is rather exceptional once again.

So I guess that means that I do have a green thumb, but not an orange or red thumb, which is what I was going for in this particular instance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Road Trip

We had another much-too-short trip to visit my grandparents in Texas. We went to see grandpa's garden, ate way too much of grandma's food, and had a great visit with Uncle Tom and Aunt Hazel and Aunt MJP, who I can mention now that I found out she doesn't read my blog anymore. In fact, I should probably put on a picture of her in spite. We also went to visit the "castle park" as my kids call it. They had a fantastic time there. This park is every child's dream.

Grandpa and Zaya hold up a turnip as if they're planning to see someone with a blue ribbon. That turnip currently sits on our dining room table. It mocks me. I don't really know what to do with it. Ms. Bessie (the lady we visit a few times a week) says that her mom used to make turnip soup on washing days. It's an idea, I guess.

Here Mim holds up one of Grandpa P's prize Kohlrabi. It was actually pretty good sliced up with a little lime juice. Rather Jicamesque, to coin a term.

Zaya guards the gates against... who knows. Probably vampire squids or E-Coli bacteria knowing my son.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Now really, is there anything cuter than a three-year-old in pig-tails? I don't think so.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flying Away

Last night Zaya said, “Mom, I don't want to ever fly a kite again, because it might fly away.”
He said this with tears barely restrained and his voice cracking a bit, as if we were discussing something truly terrifying, like tornadoes or spiders or newborn babies. (Hey, we're all afraid of something.)

“Zaya, sometimes kites do fly away, but most of the time they don't. You can't give up the joy of flying the kite just because you're worried it might fly away.”

How's that for hypocritical parenting? At that moment Daddy came in, so he took over the discussion from there and I went to snuggle with Miss I-want-a-drink-I-need-to-pee-where-is-my-bunny.

I couldn't get that little shaky voice out of my head though, “...because it might fly away.” We haven't flown a kite in months. We haven't even talked about flying a kite recently. As far as I know, we haven't even looked at a picture of a kite! And yes, last time we flew kites with a friend, the strings broke, and they flew away. We found ours, but our neighbor Carl never could find his. Has that been eating at my tiny man in shorts and t-shirt for all this time?

And the next thing I thought was, “That is me! My son is channeling the fears of his mother in five-year-old form.” I can be so fearful, and I worry about things that will likely never happen, but 'what-if'... I don't want to fly somewhere in an airplane, because what if...I don't want to leave my kids and drive with my husband somewhere, because what if...I don't want my little ones to go to school, because, what if...I don't want to make a parenting mistake, because what if...

And the big one I'm wrestling with right now...I don't want to start writing and sending in articles to places, because what if... What if I'm boring, what if I'm rejected...and more frightening still, what if I'm accepted, and then critiqued. And what if the criticism is bad, but right!

All of those things are more likely to happen than the kite breaking off its string, and as we've seen, that has a fairly good chance. Am I going to lose the joy of writing, and maybe, someday, in the distant future, being published, because I'm too afraid of the pain of watching my particular kite fly away? Some days the answer is yes, and some days it's no. Who am I kidding? Some seconds it's yes, and some seconds it's no.

I had to realize, though, that neither Zaya nor I could just sit back and watch the world whirl around us, because we're too afraid that stepping out into it might cause us pain.

My sweet cousin-aunt is currently going through a terrible time in the hospital watching one of her precious daughters hurting and miserable after a car wreck. They wait for surgeries, wait for the doctors, and pray and pray for healing, peace, comfort, and probably answers too. But if you asked C'J whether it was worth having her little twin girls, even knowing that one of them would someday experience pain, I'm sure she would say, "Yes, even now, the joy was worth the pain." And what part of rejection or criticism could possibly compare with that?

After Zaya was finally asleep, Art told me he had tried to comfort the little guy by promising that we would buy him a new kite if something ever happened to the little one we have now. But the same teary little voice said, “Daddy, I don't want you to have to spend all your money.” Now that's a whole different set of fears, and I don't think my psyche is prepared to deal with those yet. I'll file it away in the Mommy file for future contemplation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sweet Freedom

My daughter is currently playing on the swingset in nothing but her panties and a bad case of bed-head.

We made Zaya put on shorts before he went outside, but Mim slipped out when Art and I were talking.

She looked so happy and free out there that I didn't have the heart to take out her clothes. For how long in our life do we have that complete innocence?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Please Pray

Update: The hospital where Ren was taken is supposedly a trauma care unit, but they're being horribly slow to take care of her, even though they've told the family about several serious problems. The family are exhausted and almost frustrated beyond endurance. Please pray that they will have the wisdom to say and do what needs to be done to get her the care she desperately needs.

I just found out that my C'auntie J's daughter, Ren, was in a bad car accident last night. She is in the hospital right now and they need our prayers.

Ren and her twin sister Alli have just finished their first year of college. Ren is on the right of this picture with her mom and sister. (I think. Sorry, Ren, if I'm wrong!)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Here they come! Run!

It's just possible that Wal-Mart will refuse to let us shop there anymore.

Not for any illegal activity. No, no. It would be for regularly frightening, confusing and otherwise interfering in the lives of the other shoppers. In just the last week, Zaya has been E-Coli, the HIV-AIDS virus, a plasma cell and an imaginary blind snake named Yellow.

This wouldn't be a problem if he didn't try to bring other Wal-Mart patrons in on the fun.

"Hey! I'm E-Coli!" He yells down the aisle to a young mother and her baby. "Mommy, I think I'm going to be the HIV virus," he then says loudly.

Go ahead, try to explain to your five-year old why he can't pretend to be HIV in Wal-Mart. I dare you.

When we get up to the cash register he says to the young, blond, childless cashier, "Guess what kind of cell I am? I'm a plasma cell. Look, I'm making antibodies!" She looks completely confused and says, "Maybe he'll be a scientist someday" with a 'let's be nice to the customer, no matter how weird her children are' look on her face.

The next day when we went (yes, I frequently go to Wal-Mart two days in a row.) he was pretending to be a snake character that he'd just invented named Yellow. Yellow has no eyes, but has two sensors on top of his head that he can use to sense predators and prey. He also has a skeleton that looks like a spaghetti noodle. I know all these things because Zaya was telling other people about them, and as they would hurry off around the corner he would yell after them until I went and got him and hurried away myself.

He went up to one elderly lady and just stood there with his eyes closed. "I'm sensing you," he said. She looked afraid and confused, which is what I often get in Wal-Mart.

"Sorry! He's a blind snake today," I mumbled apologetically.

"Oh dear," she said. "I don't like snakes."

So Zaya started flicking his tongue in and out of his mouth. I had to physically drag him away from the poor lady.

At least he didn't decide to be the other character he invented yesterday. Its name is One-Eyed Cat, and it has no eyes. Yes, you read that right. "But Zaya," I protested, "Its name is One-Eyed Cat. Doesn't it have one eye?"

"No, Mom. It has no eyes. It just uses its sense of smell and touch to detect predators and prey, because it doesn't even have sensors on its head like Yellow does."

And Mim, who is usually my stable anchor to sanity, told me last night, "I'm going to dream about a good virus that keeps people from getting Heart Attacks. It just goes down to where bad viruses are and grabs them with its tentacle and bites them."

Not two of them! I can't take it!

In any case, I think it's time we take the Epidemic book back to the library. Zaya coughed a bit the other morning, and then said with a gleam in his eye, "I hope I don't have TB!"

Definitely time to return to Goodnight Moon.

The picture above is when we took a break from causing panic at Wal-Mart to cause panic at our favorite local Chinese buffet. If you think it's disturbing to talk loudly about contagious diseases at a department store...

Monday, July 06, 2009

The God of Peace Be With You All

We all survived yet another week of VBS. We went back in time and traveled across the seas to Rome last week (previously known as Grandma Lilibeth's church). It was lots of fun, and the kids really got into the spirit of things, as they always do. Everyone dresses in Bible-time costumes and we're all divided into families. Our snacks are whole-wheat bread and water, and there are no games, but every child who comes says it is their favorite VBS.

That's because it all feels so real. The church has spent several years now doing the VBS material from the same publishers, and so they have visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, Phillipi and now, Rome. (Grandma Lilibeth actually wrote the Phillippi material, and it was just as good.) They've created a large and very realistic Marketplace, and amassed a large collection of baskets and other paraphernalia. It pulls the children into a real feeling of the stories like nothing I've ever seen, and it gives new understanding about things like the birth/death of Christ and the persecution of the church.

This year Art played the part of an underground church leader, and my brother Elijah was Paul in prison. Even my children were able to see them as something else for those times, though, and it was fun to watch.

Now that we've returned to the real world (the real 'now' world, you know) we'll have to start cramming all those summer plans into the next 5 weeks. We've already made a flying trip to the Wichita Mts. for Independence Day. Next is a trip to Texas and a return to the Science Museum and Zoo. August is creeping up on us much to quickly!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mr. Suggestible Strikes Again

Remember the whole Predator/Prey relationship I discussed before? For some reason I'm always the prey in Zaya's imagination. It's all taken a rather vicious turn in the last few days.

We've been reading a book called "Epidemic" which details the appearance and behaviors of many bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa and their effect upon people throughout history. Big mistake, as I'm sure you've guessed.

This morning Zaya has been Penicillin, and I was bacteria, of course. Daddy was smart and became a virus instead. But then Zaya decided he could eat viruses too. Why not? He has also been a yeast cell (Candida, no less) and Histoplasmosis, and a horrible variety of other things. (Shigella, E-coli, Adenovirus etc.) He's also been a macrophage (of course, I had to be a Shigella bacteria then.) and he swallowed me whole and than stuck a little piece of me out for his T-cell to come and recognize.

And we, as the victims, have to behave just right. When Zaya was Penicillin this morning and Art was supposed to be an E-Coli bacteria he said, "Daddy, that's not how you die. Your cell wall is supposed to break down." Art's cell wall broke down appropriately. Then Zaya the Penicillin decided to eat his nucleus. It's no fun to just keep your enemy from reproducing, apparently, you also have to ingest him. (Mim has thus far refused to participate. I wouldn't say she has a firm grip on reality either, but firmer anyway. She was busy playing with light and shadows in the bathroom with a flashlight.)

You might say that all of this is damaging to the psyche of a young child, but I remember reading my father's diagnostic manuals when he was in nursing school and I was Zaya's age. I don't remember thinking that it was gross or strange, just fascinating. And I turned out normally...right? Right?

Art says we need to get the little guy some basic physics books about machinery and such to counterbalance all the biology. If there's one thing motherhood has taught me thus far, it's that you can't make a kid enjoy something. It has to just happen. I wish him luck, though. There are no victims in physics. (Except the students, but there I go injecting my own prejudice into it.)

Art did get Zaya to draw out what he was imagining, and that actually worked for a time. He drew a Penicillin fungus and a bunch of different bacteria around it with cracks in their cell walls. Then he decided that this particular Penicillin could also destroy viruses and protozoa, so there are a few of those too. They might be hard to see in the picture above, but I labeled them.

What cracks me up, is that his post-PreK test showed that he had trouble with "visual memory" because he couldn't make a shape out of blocks that the teacher had built and then removed. However, every single one of these cells and organisms look exactly like the pictures that he saw yesterday when we were reading his book. (This test was to decide if he was ready to learn to read. Frustrating...and flawed, apparently.) More proof that kids will learn what they like. He never did enjoy playing with blocks. That's always been Mim's thing. (Maybe the physics books will be for her instead.)

In any case, I've had enough of being ingested and destroyed and chased around, so I stuck both kids in front of Bugs Bunny for a few minutes. Maybe that will reset the imagination train and I can cope with the rest of the day.

Tonight is the 4th of 5 nights of VBS at Grandma Lilibeth's church. That will be a post of its own, though. This one is already long enough.