Spring Adventures #2… Marley strikes again

Whenever we are in the valley, we stick as many errands as we can into the little time that we have there.  There have been a few gift cards floating around our house, and it was high time to use them.  So, visiting such places like Starbucks and Boarders was a must on the to-do list this trip.

I love going to Boarders, but it seems as though I happen to go with children every time, and I don’t get to experience the grown-up book areas.  Heck, I don’t even think if I know what they are like! Our spring break visit to the store was no exception.  Our oldest had a gift card that really needed to get used.  I don’t know if it was good or bad that the children’s book area was next to the pre-teen area.  We managed to walk through the children’s area as we aimed for the pre-teen, and that was it.  Marley found a big old box with a $70 train set inside.  Living out in the middle of nowhere has not helped when it comes to learning the rules about in-store conduct.  It was very hard convincing him that no, he cannot rip into the expensive train set’s box, even though he is obsessive about train sets. 

Finally, after listening to my constant, “no-no-no’s”, he relented.  I could just see his wheels turning though.  He found another train.  It was almost as if he was thinking, “I know she won’t let me have the train track, so lets try something else, she might finally break”.  This train was much like what he has at home.  It is made of wood, and is pretty much comprised of wooden blocks that when piled up on the base of the cars, makes the shape of a train.  Exhausted already from the last battle, I let him play with the packaged train as I hustled back and forth between the pre-teen and children’s areas, supervising one kid and helping the other kiddo with choosing the absolute perfect book, ever.  Ugh, that’s another story.

So, it was almost time to leave.  I got the oldest to get kind of close to making a decision about what she wanted.  I told Marley to put his train away, pleeease.  “No, buy!” Was his answer.  Trying to convince him that he had a train almost just like it at home, granted it wasn’t as pretty and shiny as the new one due to all the play time it had endured, I gently guided him to the shelf where the train was displayed.  Just as I thought that I had won, the kid took off like a bat from hell, the train tightly cradled in his arms.  He was headed towards the front yelling, “buy, buy!”.

Not wanting to cause more commotion in a quiet book store, I followed him, walking quickly, not saying a thing.  I figured that when he got to the check-out counter, I could talk to him and convince him, if not force him to leave that train behind.  It wasn’t going to do any good running behind him yelling, “stop!” since I knew with his one-track mind that he wasn’t even going to hear me at that point.  As I made my mad walking rush towards the front of the store, trying to look as calm as I could, I realized that I left the older kid in the back of the store, oblivious to what was going on.  I then imagined what she would have thought when she discovered that all of a sudden we were gone.

I knew Marley was fast, but this was ridiculous.  Despite my fast clip, I was just not keeping up.  Then I realized as we got close to the cash registers, that Marley had no intention of stopping.  He was headed right for the doors!  I was then forced to pick up the speed and kick it into a full blown sprint… through the quiet bookstore!  I can only imagine what we looked like in slow motion.  Me close behind, my face in total fear as I discovered that he was just crossing the shoplifting detector realm.  I reached out as far as I could and just barely got a hold of the back of the collar of his shirt.  It was too late, we passed through the detectors, and just as he reached the doors, and pushed one open just a hair, he was jerked back by my desperate maneuver.  We stood there for a split second, waiting for the store’s alarms to go off since we were clear past the detectors.

The bookstore was no longer quiet.  Although thankful that the store’s alarm didn’t go off, I wasn’t real crazy about the other alarm going off. It was much louder than the store’s alarm.  It was Marley’s screams as I carried him clear through from the front doors to the back of the store where the children’s section was, the train’s home. 

There was no mistaking where we were now, and the oldest had no trouble finding us.  I sent her to the cash register as I, embarrassed as heck, took the brass, junior shoplifter outside, train-less and screaming, so that the bookstore could be quiet yet again.

Spring break adventure #1

There were several events that required us to attend in the valley this spring break, so with enthusiasm, the kids and I took off with hopes of an awesome spring vacation.  We had a lot of fun visiting friends and family.  We went to birthday parties, book signings at the library, the children’s museum, all sorts of other fun things.

What we didn’t expect were the un-planned adventures that at the time seemed to be just plain unfortunate.  Now that everything is done, I just have to look back and laugh.  There were four of those kind of adventures, all of which happened on different days. 

So, this is unfortunate adventure #1: 

We were on the quest for my sister-in-law’s new house which we have never been to.  Her oldest was turning 14 the next day, and they were holding a birthday party the day before, in her honor.  Our destination was way out in the country among the grape vines and with a beautiful view of the mountain.  With only a faint idea of where to go, Garmin, the GPS was a big help.  We were late, and Garmin confirmed my hunch.   We were either going to be very, VERY late by back-tracking big time, traveling through Salem to the bridge to cross the river, or we were to go the shorter way and cross the river by ferry.  Thrilled with the idea that we were going to get to ride the ferry, we gleefully trekked on… until I realized that I needed money to get across.  Thankfully, I knew the area well, and remembered that there was a convenience store nearby.  We all piled out of the car and I tried the cash machine while attempting to manage a three-year old who had been strapped down in his car seat for a good 4 hours.  Who doesn’t look at the food isles as an obstical course?  So anyway, this country mouse couldn’t figure out how to use the cash machine!  Finally, the very kind cashier figured out that I had to be forceful with the machine in order to get it to work, since my dear husband bent my card (I have no idea how he managed to do that).   So, on we went, cash in wallet… on to the ferry! 

There were only a couple of minor events on our way to the ferry.  A driver behind me was impatient that I was driving only five miles an hour over the speed limit, and a Sheriff vehicle traveling the opposite direction with lights on and boat in tow.   Finally, we got to the ferry and despite the what it seemed, a long line of cars, we got on the ferry without waiting for it to make a round trip. 

After I drove into our spot on the ferry, I noticed there was a sign indicating that proper ferry etiquette was to shut of the engine.  Eager to do what was right, I turned off my engine.  Riding the ferry in your vehicle is an odd and exhilarating feeling.  Your vehicle moving with the engine off, and without driver’s control.  I then rolled my window down, and waited for the attendant to take my money.  The kids and I marveled at how much fun it was to cross the river that way; way more fun that battling the traffic in the city and crossing the boring bridge. 

The ride was over too soon, and it was our turn to drive off the ferry onto the other side of the river.  In order to drive off the ferry the engine had to be turned on.  Very simple, right?  Not for us! I couldn’t turn the engine on to save my life!  I frantically started to check… Yes I was still in park… yes my foot was on the break… what the heck!  What was going on!  I muttered, “oh, this isn’t good” as I looked to my left.  Of course, there sitting right next to me, was a couple of very good-looking, well-to-do older men in a spiffy, expensive little convertible looking at me.  Me, a stressed out mom in a mini-van, looking goofy, talking to herself while frantically trying to get the dumb thing to start up.  The passenger in the spiffy car said encouragingly, “you’ll get it” as his buddy, the driver, sped off in front of me.  Finally, after some very quick and urgent prayers, the engine started up.  I felt as if I put in a huge amount of energy willing that engine to start.  I revved it a couple of times, I am not sure why, but it helped ensure me that the thing was going to stay on.  I zoomed as fast as I could off of that ferry, embarrassed as heck.

That is not the end of the story though.  We had a great afternoon of partying, but we had to rush off again… another birthday party to attend.  The oldest kid had a sleep-over party, and we were late.  So, again, the story was to be just a little late and cross the ferry, or a lot late and travel through the city and back and be really, really late.  I chose the ferry, besides, it is fun to go across.  We loaded without waiting again, being one of the last in line.  That was pretty good luck, finally on my side.  I turned the engine off, and waited for the attendant to take my money like last time.  After more marveling over the ride across the water, and discovering that two of the vehicles ahead of us were family, it was time to get off.  As I watched the family leave, I tried to turn our vehicle on again.  Lightning doesn’t strike twice right?  WRONG! I couldn’t get the vehicle started again!  And my family, my help system, were gone! 

Again, with a lot of willing the van to start, I got it going and again, I sheepishly and quickly exited the dang ferry.  Later that evening, as I mentally looked back at my day, I realized that this wasn’t the only time that I stalled on a ferry like that.  About a year ago, I was on a different ferry, but on the same river, and the van that I was driving stalled.  The wierd things is, is that it was a completely different van.  It got me wondering.  Why the heck do the vehicles that I drive stall on the ferry?  Is it something electrical? Is it what I am doing?  I am pretty sure that I didn’t flood  the engine with my foot on the gas pedal.  Or is it just karma?  I can tell you right now, that I am not going to test the karma theory, or any of the other theories for that matter, for a while. 

There are three more unfortunate adventures during our spring break trip, but I will tell you about them in a later post.

The drama continues…

You would think that after our adventure in the summer, that we would be all done with children playing with phones and getting in trouble.  Like, involved with the law trouble.  Before you start to say, “what? didn’t you learn something from the last event?”, I will have to say that it really wasn’t a lack of learning from the situation, it just all happened in a string of dumb circumstances. 

It started when one of our kiddo’s local friends called our land line.  Our land line phone by the way, is stored up high on a wall, in a place where a little guy who knows nothing about numbers, and how phones use them, can reach.  When she was done with her call, either she, or her dad lay it down on the computer desk in the livingroom.  Unaware of all this, I swooped the kiddo who was on the phone, up, and dashed her to music lessons, then rushed back because I had developed a headache with all the goings on… Oh, I forgot to mention that we also had a visitor.  The visitor was not mine, so I quietly retreated to my bed, hoping to calm my pain. 

As I lay on my bed and after I took a few deep, calming breaths, I heard a faint beep.  Then another.  I knew just what that was.  Someone was dialing the land line.  I knew that it couldn’t be Roger since he was with our visitor, besides, he rarely uses the land line anyway.  It couldn’t be our 7-year-old.  She isn’t into calling friends yet, and wouldn’t call without help.  It must be the little guy!  Marley is what I call him sometimes, after the mischievous dog Marley from the book and movie, Marley and Me.  I jumped up and raced into the livingroom, and sure enough, Marley had the phone that he found on the computer desk.

In utter fear, I snatched the phone out of his hands and looked at the screen.  I had a gut feeling, and it was right.  How on the earth did this kid, who knows nothing about numbers, just come up with the random number, 9114?  I quickly listened on the receiver, heard nothing but silence, and pushed the ”end” button, just in case he pushed the “talk” button.  I was hoping, HOPING that the number wouldn’t work without pushing the talk button… well, at least in this situation.  I rushed into the kitchen where Roger and his visitor was, slammed the phone back into it’s base and announced nervously, “I am pretty sure that Marley called 911, but I don’t think that he pushed ‘talk’, so we might be okay”.  Then I sheepishly retreated to my bed again.

I was only on my bed for a second or two before the phone rang.  Great.  Maybe it was a friend, looking for our kiddo that was at music lessons….pleeeease, let it be her!  Then I heard Roger say, “I am so sorry, our three-year old was playing with the phone, yes, yes we are okay.”  Oh DANG!  He did do it.  He really did call 911.

Roger doesn’t get embarrassed easily, but this event surely did that to him.  You see, he is a volunteer fire fighter, a volunteer EMT in training, and this is a small town.  The dispatcher ended the call with, “thank you Roger”.  He was quite uneasy since he didn’t know who he was talking to, but the person on the other end seemed to know him quite well.  To make it even more embarrassing, his visitor, who had been listening to all that was going on, is the town’s FIRE CHIEF! and his wife works in the sheriff’s office!  He got a good chuckle at Roger’s expense!

I am hoping that we are done with the false 911 calls.   We are now officially paranoid and make sure the phone is out of his reach at least.  We even go to the extent of making sure that the phones in other peoples homes that we visit are out of reach.  Oh, Marley, Marley, Marley…. what’s next?

Stupid cultural rules!

Recently, I had the privilege to visit a Naturopathic Physician and I can’t even begin to explain how nice that was.  For years, I have been stuck with wondering why I have been so tired, and now I may know why.

So, what does this have to do with stupid cultural rules?  It got me thinking when I mentioned to the Doctor, that I was shy and I must not be good at making friends.  She chimed in and said “NO! that’s not the case!”  According to her, our society doesn’t accept the working woman, nor the stay-at-home mother.  I am not sure really, if that is what I am running into socially, but it got me thinking, and I realized that the cultural rules of our society has certainly affected me, and the way I think of myself.

So, I found out that due to a HUGE family history of auto immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, asthma, and extreme food allergies, that there is a very good chance that my exhaustion is due to some kind of food allergy that is not as obvious as our son’s which is life threatening. 

Why on earth did it take so long for me to even come to this conclusion?  The facts were right there in front of me for a very long time!  Stupid cultural rules.  That’s what I blame.  I was blinded by stupid cultural rules.  I wasn’t supposed to be tired according to the rules.  So, I just pushed them away, forcing myself to get things done.  Working mothers are supposed to do it all, and get it done efficiently, so that’s what I did.  That is a lot to do, so of course I was exhausted.  It wasn’t until I became a stay-at-home mom when I started to wonder.  In my mind, it is a harder job physically, to be a working mother.  Now, as a stay-at-home mother, I was even more physically tired.  I had plenty of time to rest, well, more than when I was working.  The household jobs that weren’t getting done when I was working were still not getting done, and I had to wonder what was going on there? 

I told myself over and over again, I am supposed to be strong.  That’s what a mother is supposed to be.  She is supposed to take care of the children and make sure that house is spotless.  So, what was freaking wrong with me!  I was weak, that’s what it was.  So, on I went, believing that the fact is, is that I wasn’t really that good at my job.  Stupid cultural rules.

So now, I realize I am not weak or lazy, just dumb.  I can’t change the fact that I have lived with this exhaustion for most of my adult life, but I can change my future and the way I think.  I can’t wait until the blood results come back and I find out what’s causing my troubles.  I also can’t wait to restructure my interpretation of cultural rules, and will begin to change myself.  Mothers out there: you ARE strong.  If you question yourself like I did, go on a quest to find out why you think that way, and promise yourself you will find a solution.  Don’t push yourself to the side like I did because of stupid cultural rules!!!

Parenthood tips

Even though I have a background in early childhood education, there are still things that I have found are not taught in college regarding raising children.  These are un-written rules that parents have to stumble across to learn.  So, here are a few that I can think of off the bat:

  1. ALWAYS check to see what your child is handing you before you take it.  Most likely the child is handing you the gold nugget that he has been digging for, for some time from up his nose.  It’s no fun when you all of a sudden discover that you are holding, what it seems, the biggest booger in the world.
  2. NEVER check a baby’s diaper by sniffing at ground zero.  There is quite possibly hazardous gasses and you will most certainly find your demise… well, that’s what you will be wishing for at least. 
  3. Bandaids are not for covering owies.  They are for shutting up a crying kid.  It works, it’s magic, even if there is a phantom owie. 
  4. Children have a secret language, it’s called Toddlerese.  Even when you think you have it all figured out, it constantly changes,  just to stump you. 
  5. Never count on a set schedule.  When nap time seems to be set in stone, it will suddenly change.
  6. When a child eats a dinner like it’s her last, it doesn’t mean that she wants it again.  Usually, when the same food that seemed to be the most favorite food in the whole world is served again, it turns into, “how dare you even think of serving this food to me again” food. 
  7. ALWAYS watch what you say.  It is no fun when your child announces something to her class with some sort of explicative, or something that really needs to stay in the family.
  8. Keep on your toes at all times when in public.  You never know when you have to make up a creative story as to why there are special machines in the bathrooms.
  9. Make sure that when getting ready for school, your child remembers to put on underwear.  It’s embarrassing for everyone when the school calls asking you to bring the forgotten panties… please.
  10. Even when she goes to the bathroom when you leave the house, your child will most definitely have to check out the store’s bathrooms to make sure they are up to kid code.  If you are lucky, this will have to be done as soon as the child enters through the store’s doors.  You are unlucky however, if this has to be done when the cart is only half-full, forcing you to render all your treasures or monthly food supply, abandoned outside the bathrooms, not knowing whether they will all be there when you get back. 

I am sure there are hundreds more that haven’t come to me, and I am sure that there are many more that I have yet to discover, but these are what I have for now.

Things that make me laugh

There are times when I am out and about, I see things that make me giggle.  Luckily, I have had my camera some of those times.  I love people’s creativity and humor, and I love how they display it.  Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean:

The Woodburn Art Center has a case of Beetles, or is it the Geico Cavemen?

This street sign really make me think.  The Tree Lane.  Does it mean the lane is full of trees?  Or does it mean that there is just one tree?  Never the less, there are no trees to be seen!  Rumor says that the one tree this road was named after was cut down, leaving new-comers like me scratching their heads.

This is what I found in a nearby town near Christmas time.  A snowman in hunting gear.  A friend suggested that maybe the snowman was waiting for Santa’s reindeer.  So, I wonder, where in the sam hill do you find something like this?

This guy greets motorists who drive through the small town of Brooks.  My father-in-law says that he’s the biggest man in town.  I’m not arguing.

I know that I have posted this before, but I think this tin man can’t be forgotten in this post.  I always look for this guy and his cheery (or maybe not so cheery) wave as I go by.

What do you mean that everyone doesn’t have topiary people playing badminton in their front yards?

I love this topiary.  The grass is mowing the dirt.

What? What do you mean?  My kids are Angels!

More of my Oregon adventures

Our oldest was involved in a book contest that sent her and her group to a regional competition.  Eager to watch, it forced us to explore areas that I hadn’t before.  It was time to enter the realm of Eastern Oregon.  I have gone to Hermiston a few times, but that was the extent of Eastern Oregon for me.  This time, we took the long trip to La Grande.  What a grand and pretty place it was too.  I got to see two of my favorite things in nature… trees and snow.  There were some very pretty old houses, the kind that I tend to gravitate towards.  One of my favorite things in that city were the city buses.  What a kick they were, designed to look like old trolleys. 

Unfortunately, we couldn’t explore Pendleton as I would have liked since we tried to beat the school bus home.  Our kiddo didn’t want to have a boring ride home with the family, she much rather ride home with her friends.  Maybe sometime I will crawl out of my protective hole and visit the historically rich city and their woollen mills and interpretive museums.  Besides, we were all exhausted, having to get up at 5:30 in the morning to make the long trip east. 

So, here are just a couple pictures of my day adventure:

I think that all city buses should look like this bus.  I think I will petition that to at least the Governor.