Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This is Your Life?

Our neighbor died last week. Andy and I were in the kitchen when we noticed two police cars and a motorcycle cop trying to get in to her house. Andy went out to investigate. She was in her 70s, living in her childhood home, never married, with no children. And mean as a snake.

Her house is on the street behind us but our driveway is in back and abuts hers. The driveways were never clearly delineated and she had a sense of ownership over the entire area. When Andy began parking in our driveway, there were words. I'll never forget the time I arrived in San Antonio on my first post-baby business trip. I called home from the hotel to check on HRH and let Andy know I'd arrived safely. He abruptly ended the phone call, saying that Jane had called the police and he needed to attend to them. Eventually, we had a survey of the land done and sent a lawyer's letter.

We were just the latest in a long line of neighbors to wander into her cross-hairs. In addition to her claims on our driveway, she would also become enraged should any visitor or neighbor deign to park in front of her house. Upon her arrival home, she would sit in her car for as long as 20-30 minutes leaning on the horn until the perpetrator realized his mistake and moved the car. Good neighbors, whose natural inclination was to help an elderly lady were completely rebuffed. All but one had simply given up trying; she faithfully sent her son over every Thanksgiving with a plate for Jane.

In more than six years, we never saw a friend or family member visit. We had maudlin-ly joked that we'd know she was dead when the smell wafted over to our house. In the end, she missed a couple of doctor's appointments and the police were summoned to her house one last time to perform a wellness check.

Neighborhood rumor has it they found her sitting at her kitchen table and she'd been there for at least three days. Three days of no one missing you. The police quizzing neighbors for possible next of kin. There wasn't an obituary posted.

Today, a crew arrived and parked a dumpster outside of her house, right in "her" parking spot. All day long, they've been tossing mattresses, clothes, boxes, and papers out of windows and carrying it out of doors.

Three days to notice she was dead. Less than seven to begin to erase 70+ years of accumulated detritus, substantiating her life.

This Old House

We moved into our house in September of 2002. I was seven months pregnant. Our house was what most first time home buyers search for and sometimes get, if they're lucky. A house with good bones in a great neighborhood. What we also got was a total of two feet of counter space, an original 1930s bathroom, old hardwood covered by meh carpeting, and wallpaper you'd have to see to believe.

Since that time, we've enlarged and redone the kitchen and bathroom, refinished all the hardwood, built out a playroom in the basement, replaced all the windows, and stripped, painted, and painted (and painted) walls, woodwork, and ceilings.

Oh, and we also found time to have two babies, change jobs, become a SAHM, and all the other things my addled brain can't recall just now.

I think I made this list mostly to remind myself how far we've come. And to justify the pictures I'm about to show you. We've been busy! But now that the inside is done-ish and because the prospect of rotting wood has made our next step far from just cosmetic, we're getting around to painting the outside of the house! Without further ado, I present...


Our current color is dandruff white. We're going for a taupe with bright white trim, and black accents (doors, wrought iron railings, mailbox, etc.). Now all I have to do is settle on which taupe...
Suggestions anyone??

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Last night, I was just coming up the stairs following Youk's walk-off two run homer in the 11th when I heard little bare feet hit the floor, headed for our bedroom. Gremlin needed a drink. I redeposited him in bed with promises of juice and headed back downstairs.

When I brought him his sippy, I sat on the edge of his bed while he drank, then kissed him and said good night. His sleepy voice informed me he wanted me to be with him. I love when he says this. It means he doesn't need me; he wants me, is comforted by my presence.

So I sat there a while longer. I watched as he snuggled into my hand that was stroking his hair and cheek, loving the security my touch provides him. I watched as his two hands felt for just the "right spot" on his blanket to rub against his nose. I looked at his thick, dark eyelashes casting shadows against his cheek, at his perfect nose, his round cheeks, his beautiful lips, and little gapped teeth. I thought about four years ago, when he left my body and came into our life.

I thought about all the things he's done this year. Potty training, big boy bike-riding, starting school, and learning to write his name. I thought about what's in store for the next year; five-day preschool, beginning to read, playing sports, the age of reason(?).

Whatever comes next, it won't be boring. Because life with you, my not-so-little Gremlin is never boring. And I thank God for that, and most especially, for you.

Happy Birthday to my boy who is always my baby.

Mommy loves you up to the sky.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Gremlin has a cold. A pretty good one. As per his usual, he got a bad, raspy, croupy cough that gets worse at night. Last January, following cold after cold spent listening and comforting my baby helplessly as he awoke crying from coughing because we-don't-give-kids-cough-medicine, we went AMA and gave him some Triaminic - a half dose. It worked like a charm; the coughing slowed, he slept, we slept and there were no adverse side effects. We did this for about three nights (nights only) until the worst of the coughs subsided.

When this bout reared its head, we toughed it out for a night but again went to Triaminic. Friday night, it worked; some coughing but subdued and he could sleep. Saturday night, not so much. He coughed mightily from the time he lay down. We took turns heading into his room when he cried. We took turns going into his room even if he wouldn't cry, just to check. We tried to get honey into him to ease his throat. I slept in his bed, he came into ours. We headed out onto the front porch in the freezing cold with him wrapped in a blanket to lessen the croupies. We even called the pediatrician when he cried that he needed to cough but couldn't. And of course, our frustration got the better of us and we briefly turned on each other.

Nonetheless, at 6:00 am Easter morning, the sun was up and so were my boys, ready for their Easter baskets. Gremlin definitely handled the sleepless night far better than his daddy or I did. We all slept last night (sans drugs) and this morning, my boy felt good enough that he's in preschool, making a fruit salad and learning about Passover.

I know the frustration, fear, pity, sadness, and helplessness I felt watching my baby deal with what is, in reality a blip, a minor cold - he barely had a temperature. And I think of Mike and Heather Spohr, who lost their little girl because her body wasn't strong enough to win her last battle. Friends of my blog friends, who will be attending her funeral tomorrow.

I lost a night's sleep and probably encouraged a few more gray hairs. I can take it. I thank God for making my family strong and healthy. I thank Him for giving me perspective. I pray for Mike and Heather that they will somehow find the strength to put one foot in front of the other. I hope they feel the love that is out here for them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

May you color your days with happy memories this Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - In Seussian Pentameter

A Butt Can be Big (see illustration a)

A Butt Can be Small (see illustration b)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

MM: What 'cha doing?

Gremlin: I thought you'd like some wine.

MM: Thanks, Buddy. But not at 10:30 in the morning.

Evidently, he's not just driving me to drink; he's also doing the pouring.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


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