Monday, February 28, 2011

Back from the dentist and I am puffy and drooly and numb. I can't even feel my ears.
You know, maybe I've got this whole cyber thing wrong. You can't see me with my lips curled up on one side and my tongue hanging out.
I should say, "I just got back from shopping and I am windswept, rosy cheeked and am sporting a nice, low-key kind of glamorous look."
Can we just pretend? Because the drooling is embarrassing.
Let's pretend me into a yellow silk blouse that hides all my extra love (that's what I call that roll of squish that keeps coming up over my jeans like a little joey trying to see out of its mother's pouch) and a rocking pair of jeans with elaborately embellished pockets.
Could you please edit out my split ends and give me a loose wave hairdo pulled over one shoulder?
You are so kind! Thank you!
So with that fabulous pictures in our minds, let's get to today's confession. The question is:

Do you believe in having no regrets?

Hmm. Popular little saying. People throw it out there all the time.
I've got no regrets. Gotta live with no regrets.
I personally find that theory absurd.
Regret means you're sorry. Regret mean you would do better, given another chance.
Of course I believe in regrets. I believe in being sorry when I screw up. I want do-overs.
Lots of them. I'd pile them up like a banker with a stack of money.
Haven't you seen this scenario: A former addict who destroyed his family and spent ten years completely wasted says, "but I learned so much and it made me who I am now. I've got no regrets." ?
I usually want to reach through the television and punch said former whino.
Here's what I wish a reformed human being would say:
I hurt a lot of people and wasted a lot of life and opportunities. I regret every minute of it. I am thankful that even though I was so stupid, God still taught me a lesson. I wish I had chosen to learn that lesson without causing so much suffering.
Then I would reach through the television and embrace former whino for getting it.
Having a regret doesn't mean you are sorry for the lessons you learned.
It means you're sorry that you were so thick-headed and ridiculous and prideful that it took so much pain to teach that particular lesson. ( I wouldn't know anything about that ;{ )
So while I don't believe in holding a grudge against yourself, I do believe in regret.
I hope when I die they (whoever they is) can say "she had a lot of regrets and even more personal victories."
I could make peace with that.
So what say you? Do you believe in regrets or no regrets?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's getting stormy out there

There are long streaks of rain on the windows that glow white in the flash of lightning outside.
It sounds peaceful to hear the drum of water on the roof and the smell of it in the cold air.
I really couldn't stand the idea of missing church today so I woke up early and went with my dad, Mr. Trivia (he knows everything) and then stayed home with the girls while the Artist went this afternoon.
Noses are red and drippier than the rain and fevers are still spiking over here so it was nice to leave the land of the invalids and walk among the living for a while.
The weather tonight made me think of my favorite picture of the Savior.
There are several paintings of gospel subjects that I am lukewarm on, at best.
I don't like any pictures where people glow or roses bloom on trellises. Just not my thing.
But this picture is very real and personal to me.

It is called "Against the Wind" by Liz Lemon Swindle. When I have five hundred dollars sitting around I will purchase it.
After the Savior (that is a give-in), my favorite person in the scriptures is Peter. If we had a son I was voting for Peter as a name.
Peter was passionate and brave. Peter took correction. Peter loved with all his heart.
Peter walked on water.
Right on top of it. Straight to the Lord in the middle of a storm. Peter had the faith to put his hand on the side of that weathered boat and step down into the waves.
Everyone remembers Peter sinking down.
I remember Peter stepping out.
It was only the threatening waves and the flashing lightning and the chaos of the storm that broke his courage.
Just like us.
We step out in life. We start walking. We are brave. We are determined. And then we look down.
We realize that we are in this world. This world where people die of starvation and children are murdered and men strap bombs to their bodies and walk to crowded markets. We live in this world where saying anything is wrong makes us bigoted and hateful and small minded. We are right smack in the middle of a globe churning with violence and sin and cruelty and suffering. Sometimes I look down at the wild waves around me and I falter.
I wonder how I will ever make it out of here alive. (that's funny. I guess no one makes it out of life alive, do they? I was speaking metaphorically.)
But there is a safety net.
Peter was walking to the Savior.
He was getting closer with every step.
So when he needed help, the Savior could reach out and save him.
If we are walking with faith to the Savior, we are stepping on top of the waters of this world.
We are doing something great.
We are getting closer.
And when we start to sink (because Peter showed that the best of us do) we will be near enough to receive his help.
And that is the true miracle.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Story time in heaven

Whoa! Did that freak you out? It is a little spooky when you are expecting one of my little, blond girls.
I don't know this man's name. No one alive knows it. He lived 5300 years ago. Or thereabouts. We aren't real good at guessing times yet. He was killed by an arrow and a blow to the head in the Italian alps.
He wore sheepskin to stay warm in those brutal mountains.
His last meal was unleavened bread and some kind of meat.

Just look at him for a minute. Imagine whether he was a shy child or a prankster.
Wonder if he fell in love. Ask yourself what he thought of when he fell asleep.

This is why I am a student of history. History is the love of other people.
That's it.
That's all of it.
Historians love people.
We want to know how they tick and how they felt and why they did what they did.

And that is what I am most looking forward to in heaven. I will be so busy! I will be running from person to person saying, "What was it like? What did you do? How did you die? You wore what? Why didn't you say it? What was the best part?"

Wherever someone is telling a story in heaven I will be there, rapt, amazed, curious, impatient to know more.
I will meet this man. He is my brother. I love his face.
I just keep looking at him... I cannot wait to hear his tale.
Although, it did end badly, didn't it?

Blogs are not medical charts!

I will spare you yucky (and they are yucky) details, but the germs we thought we beat rallied and made a new charge last night. Our girls are sick. Worst news is the Cowgirl is supposed to be the "Mouse" in the "Lion and the Mouse" school play Thursday night. She might just sound like a mouse because she lost her voice and can only squeak.
Way to get into character, kid.
Worried looks are being exchanged over here.
There goes the fun birthday party at an indoor pool today. (And I bought a kick-butt present for the gal, too. Can you say kick-butt when referring to gifts for eight year olds?)

I will write later and I give my firm promise that it will not be a medical chart of their symptoms.
It's all just general grossness.
Good news is that the worst month of the year (the one they couldn't even make thirty days long because no one could stand it for that long) is almost over.
Come back, spring.
Come back. (Imagine me holding out my arm in a dramatic fashion, beckoning across the frozen snow to the rising sun. You'll have to imagine it because I am really just typing and thinking that I need to go wash the sheets. Oh, well.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Love, Dancer

Dear Amazingly Gullible Mommy,
Sorry I was a little cranky yesterday when sissy was sick. I was feeling left out because you were carrying her up the stairs and she got to shake a tambourine whenever she wanted something and you let her have strawberry medicine and you wouldn't let her share it with me.
Which is very bad and mean and not nice.
But today I woke up feeling not very good. I definitely hurt somewhere.
Oh, mostly different places.
And I am pretty sick. I sneezed and I caught the hiccups.
As soon as I am done playing with my castle I will need a bed on the floor and maple oatmeal and strawberry milk since you won't give me the strawberry medicine.
And I cannot go on errands with you because the grocery store hurts my head.
Unless you buy me a candy necklace and a coloring book and then I might feel a little bit better.
When I am done writing this please carry me upstairs and let me watch a Barbie movie in my bed with a tambourine.
Thank you.

P.S. thank you for letting me sleep next to you after I dreamed there was a spider on my back. Daddy wanted me to go back to bed, but Daddy doesn't understand about spiders.

P.P.S. Sorry I used up all of your expensive face lotion on my tummy after my bath yesterday. I thought it was Baby Magic. You can just buy some more. You have a credit card. Okay?

Blame the kids.

If you came over and saw this pile on the counter I would roll my eyes and say, "You know kids." If the Cowgirl opened her mouth to interrupt I would step on her foot and tell her to go practice piano. Loudly. If the Dancer started to protest I would hand her a full jar of glitter and tell her to knock herself out.

I know- it's wrong. People are starving. We have worldwide food shortages. It's immature.
It's mine.
That is my lunch.
I just don't like the crust!
It's not like eating the apple peel because it has all the nutrients. I've learned to do that.
There's no extra vitamins in the dry crust. There are no nutrients from chewing through the tough outer shell.
And think about it - we don't have a great collective opinion of crust. How do we describe tough old grouches? Crusty. That's how.
(I wonder if I'll ever be crusty? I'm going to pause and imagine that for a minute. It was funny. Back to the post)
My mother, the Party Cracker, used to say that she knew she was a grown up when she realized she didn't have to eat the crust if she didn't want to.
I just looked at the pile of bread crumbs on my counter and had an opposite revelation - I think this is proof that I will never grow up.
At least, not on the inside. I'll try to appear dignified to bystanders.
If I am a guest at your house, I will eat the crusty old crust.
Depends on how good of friends we really are.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Thank You Notes

I am running around like a mother with a sick child and a cranky toddler who needs to design a dinner table for Relief Society and get sharing time done by Sunday.
That isn't a witty metaphor. That's my life today.
And maybe I have not been feeling thankful enough for everything wonderful in my life. It is a gift to have a body that can run around and a blessing that my sick child is well enough to ask for movies and jello and a blessing that my cranky toddler still takes naps so I can write.

So every Thursday I will be picking a person at random and sending them a very sincere thank you on this blog. Keep watching - if you know me, there is probably one coming to you, too!
My first random, but well-deserved, thank you note goes to a mysterious do gooder.

Dear kind friend who may never read this,
I am writing to thank you for your generous kindness four years ago.
As you probably remember, my pregnancy with the Dancer went badly wrong and I could rarely leave my home except to go to the hospital for I.V.s and drugs that didn't work. Day after day, long night after long night, I sat trapped inside my four walls feeling like I was disappearing. People started to look through me instead of at me. I was just pain and misery and I can't blame anyone for not wanting to be around that.
And Easter came. The air smelled fresh. The Artist opened the windows to bring me a little piece of happiness when the scent of growing grass washed over me. I thought of the children going on Easter egg hunts and playing outside. I looked at my little daughter whose mother was suddenly AWOL. I couldn't go buy her candy or hide eggs. I couldn't play with her. The Artist was slammed with huge projects at work and a completely useless wife. I cried into my pillow thinking of what a miserable Easter this would be for the Cowgirl.
And the next day the doorbell rang.
We saw this:

Little candy-filled eggs littered our yard and flower beds. All for the Cowgirl. She didn't even have to battle oversized 4th grade boys or cave to screaming babies. She got it all. She felt like the star of the show. I watched from my bed on the couch and every time she flashed past the window she was smiling. Big.

And I sat there and cried and felt thankful for two things: First, that you were the mother to my child that I couldn't be. And second, that you remembered me. I felt so invisible. Everything that made me me was disappearing into a black hole of sickness and frustration, but you saw me and remembered me. You remembered that I would want to do something special for my child at Easter. You remembered that I would want her to have fun. You remembered that I needed help.
I won't pretend that I am not crying right now. I am. I wish I knew who you are. But maybe it is a blessing that I don't. Whenever I start to get upset with someone I can think, "But what if they were the one that left the Easter eggs?" In a way, you filled the world with people who love me because it could be any one of them.
Thank you. Four years later and forty years after this - Thank you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Confessions! Me, myself, and I

After visiting teaching and shopping and some serious dress twirling this morning, the Dancer is taking an exceptional nap. Therefor, I have time to write a confession today.
The question of the day is: (I still get a little excited when I type those words. Some little part of me is jumping up and down and saying, "Ooh, what is it? What is it, Tapper?" The rest of me is looking at her with one eyebrow raised and a faint scowl.)

Do you think you are kind to yourself?

I think this is easy. I say yes. I think I'm really kind to myself. I just took a thirty minute bath and I am delightfully pruney. But then Jungle Jane laughs at me on the phone and says, "Why are you so hard on yourself?" That always baffles me. I don't feel like I am hard on myself. Maybe she knows that I would never tease anyone else as mercilessly as I tease myself.
But I must say that I am never offended when Myself laughs at me. (Good-bye, Grammar. Hello fun with the English language.) I knows that Myself is just having fun. And at the heart of the matter, Me, Myself and I get along pretty well. We might ridicule a teensy bit, but it is out of love. We would rather laugh than cry and life seems to demand we do at least one of those things.
I really believe in being your own friend.
Not your own Yes Man or your own Fan Club or your own Devoted Follower. (You know what I'm talking about!)
Just your own friend.
A friend tells you to knock it off when you go too far. A friend tells you to tone it down when you get too loud. A friend tells you to take up space when you shrink into the corner. A friend tells you you can do it when you can. A friend tells you you can't do it when you can't. A friend roots for you, but doesn't worship you. A friend puts up with your flaws, but doesn't encourage them.
That is the kind of friend I try to be to myself.
When I am down - no kicking allowed. I hate watching people hate themselves.
When I hit a wall I look inside and say, "We're gonna get through this, Tapper. It's just a bump."
When that pep talk doesn't work and I decide to cry and hate everything, some steadier part of myself says, "Just cry it out, Tapper. It's okay to feel bad. You'll pull it back together."
So do I make fun of myself?
Do I regret my mistakes?
Do I get sick of myself?
Do I push myself to be better?
I hope so.
Do I like myself?
You bet.
Am I kind to myself?
Me and I say , "Yes!"

Why do I feed the beast?

The Dancer is a girl.
Every little cell of her body is female. Every follicle. Every fiber.
We walked into a store yesterday (mistake number one) and the Dancer saw a dress hanging up that caused her gasp and run to it.
It's like a princess, mommy. It's like a princess!
The Dancer thinks that this argument trumps all others. To her the study of economics is based on one concept: If it is like a princess it must be purchased. Fingernail polish and lip gloss and shiny shoes and hair clips and tiaras and dresses - all like a princess.
This is a problem. This is not sustainable. What happens when a white pony is "like a princess" or a pink convertible or a castle in the English countryside or the crown jewels?
I must break this habit now.
I must not feed the beast.
I must be strong and firm and mean.
I must look in those big eyes (that look eerily like a princess) and tell her that the princess obsession must stop. It's silly. It's impracticable. It's a little embarrassing around my friends and sisters who disdain all things girly-girl.
I will put down my big, dream-crushing foot...


Right now I am watching her do what all little girls do best- spin in a new dress.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday: Do It Tapper Style!

In my constant quest to keep it lively around here I decided to be cutesy and have a theme day.
But I can't pull off cutesy very well so this should be fun.
I was making meatballs yesterday in mass quantities (sale on lean beef) and it occurred to me that instead of showing anyone how to do something (that would be highly entertaining) I could, instead, show you how I do it.
This will serve two purposes:
1. You will feel so much better about the way you do things (ego boosters are good)
2. I can shed the pressure of perfection (ha - that isn't really a concern, by the way) and show everyone how it actually works around here.

So lets get started. Tapper makes meatballs- take one!
First I gather all of my ingredients. Inevitably something is missing, so I just grab at random and amass to the best of my ability.
Second I look down at my hands, take a deep breath and give my ten fingers a pep talk.

This is going to be gross, guys. You are going to have squish.
We'll start with the raw meat, but then I will add raw egg. Hey, ring finger, keep your knuckle up. You can do this. We're going in as a team. We go in together. We rough it up and we all come out together. Now it's gonna be dirty and cold. Keep your wits about you and just do your job.

After my inspirational words I throw everything into the bowl and start squishing. It is mind over grossness at this point. I would give you the recipe but I am Tapper and a recipe would be too normal. The artist gave me measuring cups for Christmas (hint, hint), but I just call them big scoop, little scoop and glop. I put in a couple big scoops of oatmeal, a little scoop of chopped onions and seasonings, and a glop of seasoned bread crumbs. It's an adventure that way.
(Cowgirl, nice job on taking this picture. You caught the oatmeal mid-flight. I'm impressed)

I can make the exact same meal three times and we refer to it like this:
Well, I like this Parmesan crusted chicken with chive sauce better than last weeks Parmesan crusted chicken with chive sauce, but not quite as much as the first time you made Parmesan crusted chicken with chive sauce. It spices things up to never know what you are going to get.

My sis, Jungle Jane, wanted me to show her how to make frozen hot chocolate because I do have the skills when it comes to that beverage. But as she watched her eyes grew wider, then panicked, then she chuckled, and then just let the laughter go. There was chocolate and ice and milk flying everywhere.

Jungle Jane: Wait, how much of that are you putting in? What kind of cocoa is that? Did you do that last time? How much milk did you just pour in? This is madness! How do you people live like this!
So let's sum it up. You follow your gut. You add a glop. You let the kitchen spirits guide you. When Tapper cooks, she flies with no net.
That would sound so cool if I weren't talking about meatballs.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Overheard in the back seat

We are all teachers at heart. We are all students.
My children illustrated this to me as we drove to Chuck E. Cheese this afternoon.
Oh, Chuck. E.
Land of the loud. Land of the tantrums and machines that eat quarters and squirmy bodies all trying to squirm around each other at once.
I hate it there. Only one thing can get me inside the land of Giant Singing Mice.
Yep, guilt.
I was a cranky mother this morning. If everyone had left me alone and let me read and soak in a bathtub I would have been perfectly pleasant. Problem is, they didn't. And I wasn't.
I was just down and out tired on this lovely President's Day. So after naptime I felt so guilty for being a boring mother that I packed them up and took them to Chuck E. Cheese.
On the drive there my morning irritability was mingling with my dread of our destination, but I set my face bravely forward like a true pioneer making a courageous journey of sacrifice.
The Dancer started to whine and the Cowgirl, mature and learned as she is now, began passing down her wisdom. (She has been with me longer)

Cowgirl: Now you shouldn't ask too many questions because mommy is tired and if you make her in a cranky mood we won't have any fun at Chuck E. Cheese.
Dancer: Cranky mood?
Cowgirl: Yes. That means you have to sit like this (strikes a statue-like pose and holds her breath)
Dancer: Because she's cranky?
Cowgirl: Yes and if you make her upset she will say that she is going to die from being frustrated. But she won't really die. She just says that.

I laughed out loud at that point and for the first time today felt truly un-cranky.
Guess they know me too well.
So how did I make up for my additional guilt?
Extra tokens, of course.
Happy President's Day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mother Nature is a flirt.

What an incredibly beautiful day. The wind was blowing the strong scent of damp earth and life through the warm air. We gained about 200 square feet to our home due to the unseasonable weather. Our sun room is uninhabitable during the long, midwest winter, but today we opened the back door and remembered that we had a room where we could sit in the gusty wind and sunshine without the flies or the spiders. (Our yard is crawling with them. This will kill me early.)
After church the Artist grilled us hamburgers and we made the girls stop romping long enough to eat.
It has been relaxing and lovely,


I know the drill. This is not spring. This is a hip-swinging strut from Mother Nature herself.
She likes to put on some fresh make up and pucker up and tease.
She heard us all cursing the snowbanks and ice and she decided it was time to remind us of her sweeter side.
She pulls out her best temperatures and starts coaxing little gnats and blooms and critters from their hiding places deep in the ground.
We all emerge together - the humans, the squirrels, the rabbits, the flowers, the bugs - and take one communal sniff of her perfume and we're hooked. She's got us drooling and begging for more.
In other words, she's got us right where she wants us.
And then to prove that she holds the power she will take her upperhand and turn it into a backhand across our face in a few days. She won't hold anything back. Hail. Rain. Snow. Ice. We'll taste it all again soon.
She'll hold us hostage to her capricious moods as she sashays straight through her blustery springtime temperament.
But we'll take it. We always do. Because no matter how fickle or rude or unpredictable she is, she smells like lilacs and rainstorms and wind blowing over the fields of mud and we will smell it and follow and love her anyway.
She's a flirt, we know she's a flirt, and still, somehow, we fall for it every year.
I laid down in the damp, brown grass with the girls today and felt the stiff blades poking my head and watched the clouds drag across the white sky while birds whistled from our rooftop.
I think I'm twitterpated with Mother Nature.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confessions! What floats my boat.

We went on a morning date today! That was an experience. The babysitter came over at 10 and the Artist and I ran all over the city looking for new ways to express our awesomeness. :) (You should know by now that I am joking, but just in case I will give you a smiley face as a hint)
We hit the tile store where we drooled over corrugated glass and stainless steel and stacked stone. Then the nice employee handed us a hanky and asked us not to drip all over the samples because the one we liked was $57 a square foot!!! If you ever come to my house try to refrain from asking why we only have two feet of backsplash. We'll just add a foot a month. In about twelve years our kitchen will blow your mind! :)
So I have to write fast because we are taking the girls to a Dr. Suess musical tonight so this is my only quiet moment of the day.
The question of the day is:

What sort of people are you attracted to?

The awesome ones, obviously!
You see the people I surround myself with. They are incredible. So I am looking for one common thread of incredibleness that they all have in common.
It's not age. (I almost kissed an old woman in the home store today. I'm not kidding. The compulsion came and I stopped myself but she was so short and her hair was dyed a valiant black, like she wasn't going down without a fight and a hair stylist. I sort of fell in love with her.)
It's not humor. (I love dry humor. The dryer the better. And if they don't know they're being funny - well, that's priceless.) I have friends who are very energetic and others who are very calm and poised.
It's not education level. One of my favorite friends hasn't even hit preschool yet.
It's not socio-economics. I have friends from the Louisiana ghettos and others who live in mansions. That's not it, either.
It's not faith. There's no religious litmus test here. I'm as Mormon as they get (Heaven forbid someone think I downplay my faith - it is everything to me) but it doesn't limit whom I love.
It expands it to include everyone.
So I think I see one thing they all have in common. I think it is sincerity. I am attracted to genuine, sincere people. They can be sincerely serious, or sincerely hilarious or sincerely bright or clumsy or clueless. Take your pick.
If I can look at someone and know that what I see is what I get, then I can trust them.
And if you can trust a person you can get to know them.
And my overriding experience in life is that if you can really know a person, you can love them.

It is a gift, while we are walking this long and confusing road of life to know that a few people will appear at our side, take our hands and walk with us for a while. Sometimes, right to the very end. And they will make us laugh, or think, or hope or try.
I am attracted to those people. My people. I know them when I see them. They're the good ones.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mutants and House Plants

I got a gift.
I think.
Because it might actually be a challenge.
One of my best friends, the Life Raft, gave me a pot of primroses.
I haven't introduced you to the Life Raft before, but that's her name because she is completely unsinkable. When anyone else would go down with the ship she keeps floating. You'd love her!
Anyway - she knows that I am the death of all things green.
Grass dies when I move into a house.
But she gave them to me anyway. So either she has massive faith in my ability to reform my plant-murdering ways or she just gets a little kick out of watching me squirm.
Then, like a well orchestrated plot, my husband bought me potted hyacinths for V-Day.
Now if anyone knows my issues with plants, he does.
So the challenge is on.
I can do this.
I will not be beaten by a velvety petaled, sweet scented bloom.
I put them in a very sunny spot.
I poured in a little water twice a day.
I gave them thumbs up and encouraging nods.
Four days into the primroses and two days into the hyacinths, things looked promising.
So the primroses look a little wilty, but I had high hopes.

Fast forward three more days.
I gave you light! I gave you water! I exhaled carbon dioxide!
What the heck! We've got a code nine on my kitchen table. Death is imminent.

My mother, the Party Cracker, (yes, you heard me right. A party cracker. You know those fun, little party favors that you pull apart and they're colorful and loud and you never know what in the world is going to come out. Yeah. That. Says. It. Perfectly.) Anyway, the Party Cracker used to tell me that whenever you kill a bug you will have to look it in the eye in heaven and be accountable.
I just heard your brain stutter to a halt while you processed that. Same thing happened to me at age six.
Not exactly gospel doctrine. More like a weird guess. And mostly I would just cringe and think, "Ew, bug eyes! Gross!" (Remember that, Jungle Jane?)
But if the Party Cracker is right (EW! GROSS!) then I will probably also have to look many plants in the...stamen?( What is the equivalent of a eye for a plant?)

So here is proof that I have no pollen on my hands! This is not my fault. Photographic evidence of me watering the plants. Notice the beautiful sunlight streaming in.

We breed mutants over here. Someday a man in black from the government will show up with a briefcase of classified papers and we will finally know why mosquitos are seven hundred times more attracted to the Artist than any other human and why my children turn friendly family pets into rabid predators and why all things that require photosynthesis die when I get too close.
We must be part of some secret experiment.

In the meantime, sweet dreams tonight imagining all the bugs you've ever killed looking at you with judgment in their disgusting, bug eyes. I'm not gonna pass on that little gem to my girls. I will tell them "Fifty cents for any spider you kill before mommy sees it!"
I'll let them look the spiders in the eyes!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We almost had the day made!

This day showed so much promise! There was sun! There was wind!
It was so warm that I had to take a picture of my feet, just as proof.
If you thought I was kidding about the purple sparkly nail polish you are feeling bad for not believing your trustworthy Tapper about now.
Oh yeah, I have fuzzy flip flops. I really have no explanation for this. Sometimes life is truly mysterious.

I went for a jog this morning. I was going to post the picture but I am too good of a friend to myself to do that. It was bad. Super embarrassing, ugly bad. Maybe because I haven't jogged in four months and I was very close to puking by the time I stumbled home.
It'll get better. I'll acclimate eventually.

I read to the Cowgirl's class at school and felt kind of like a book-reading mother rock star. They were totally smitten with my superb use of cheesy accents.

The Dancer and I grabbed a basket and picked up all the spiky balls in our yard. If you have a sweet gum tree you know exactly what I am talking about. We are chopping the darn thing down this year. We warned it that there would be consequences if it threw little tree bombs into our yard again, but it didn't listen. What choice do we have?
Then a friend I haven't seen since High School came over to play. We gabbed and gossipped until it was time to leave for riding lessons at the barn.
I was all over this day. I even folded laundry on the driveway.
Oh, yes I did! It was warm and I am just a dangerous rebel.

And then, at the last moment, our crisis came.
Five minutes before the Cowgirl's lesson was supposed to end a dog decided to taste my Dancer.
Right in the face.
Completely unprovoked. He actually bit the inside of her lip! She was bleeding and shaking and crying and kept saying, "Two dogs bit me!"
Which is the sad truth.
This is the second time she has been bitten in the face without doing anything wrong. Both times she reached out and gently touched a dog's head and got the godzilla treatment.
At least this time wasn't as bad as last time. There are no bruises.
And both times the dogs were family dogs who had never bitten anyone.
So the Artist and I are scratching our heads. We know she has big eyes and a little head and she's small. Does she look like prey to them? Do her big unblinking eyes challenge them somehow? Does our child smell like a coyote? What is it????I couldn't get her lip down enough to show all the damage, but he broke the skin in about four places.
We almost did it. We almost made it to the end of the day with no catastrophes. We were almost feeling pretty good about ourselves there.
But I will leave you with the Dancer's words.
"I'm okay now. I'm okay. It's just hurting because two dogs always bite me!"
Yeah, some days feel like that.

Confessions! I am Peter Pan.

So my loyal followers (all three of them) :) might have noticed I haven't posted a confession in three days.
I wasn't being lazy.
I was entirely stumped.

The seemingly harmless question of the day is:

What have you outgrown?

Other than every piece of clothing I had before my second child (life only gives you one freebie baby. The rest cost you beauty!) I couldn't think of any answers. And then I panicked. I started going through every bad habit and annoying trait that I hoped to outgrow by now.
Nothing. Nothing! I've still got them all!
Even pimples! I haven't even outgrown those yet!
See why I am in a panic? Notice the gross overuse of exclamation points. I'm having a moment over here.
I tried really hard to think of answer that would make it sound like I am progressing in this life, because that is the point, right?
I wanted to say I outgrew temper tantrums.
Still get em. I don't actually break anything anymore, but I still stomp and close things too hard and yell too loud.
I wanted to say I outgrew worrying what other people thing of me.
Imagine a big game show buzzer saying ERRRRPPP!
It drives me crazy when someone doesn't like me. I worry about what I wear and what I say and how I say it and I might as well still be the seventh grader looking for a place to sit in the cafeteria.
That is so pathetically sad. On so many levels.
I wanted to say I outgrew being too sensitive.
Another annoying ERRRPPP!
I cry at cartoons. I cry at every movie I have ever seen! If someone looks at me funny I keep my composure and then go home and let it hurt my feelings.
So then I got desperate and thought, "well at least I've outgrown stuffed animals," because the sheer volume of puffy little creatures in my home is horrific. But then I remember with dread that I kind of fell in love with a scruffy little lion at a toy boutique last weekend. Drat. Drat. Drat!
I wanted to say I outgrew being sloppy but my office won't let me get away with that lie. I just hide it better now.
I hide it all better now.
And that is the scary part. I think I decided that we are all three years old. That is about as developed as our raw emotions get. But we learn tricks and restraint and composure and discipline to hide all that rawness.
We work and work and work to refine ourselves into something better than the screaming, kicking, crying child who is yelling his complaints to the universe. But deep, deep down, I think we still feel those kicks shuddering against our soul.
So I am sorry. I wanted a better answer to give you. I sort of wanted to skip the question when I realized what a lousy answer I had. But that is a lie and I made a promise.

So here is the only thing I ever outgrew (other than my stellar clothes): the little girl need to be born in a different time period. Admit it, ladies - you did it, too. You dreamed of the Jane Austen dresses or the pioneer bonnets or the Victorian masquerades.
I am totally over it. I don't envy fourteen layers of clothes in the summer or long nights without children's tylenol. It doesn't sound so romantic to me anymore. I am okay. In Kansas. In 2011.
In thirty years when I outgrow something else, I will let you know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Invisibility Cloak Has A Broken Zipper

I have the real deal. A working wonder. A genuine invisibility cloak. But it doesn't just conceal my body. It turns me to vapor. Like those ghosts in bad eighties movies (were there good eighties movies?) that keep trying to talk to the living, but the living just WHOOSH right through them. Remember those ghosts? Yeah, well, I can do that, too, when I am wearing it.

Like when the Cowgirl chases the Dancer down the stairs, around the coffee tables and then laps the kitchen island all while snorting, growling and screaming. Oh yeah, and laughing - in case that sounded too much like cannibalism.
This always seems to happen while I am braising or sauteing over a hot stove and brandishing large knives. Now if my children could see me they would never risk my life or their lives in such a careless fashion. I mean death by hot oil and a bread knife sounds positively medieval.

But, dang it!
WHOOSH - I'm always stuck in that cloak at the worst moments.

Problem is, it also muffles sound when I am under it. I can only be heard if I scream. Loudly.

"Girls. Girls. Girls! GIRLS! I will throw away every teddy bear you own if you don't shut it!"

"Jeez, Mom. Why are you yelling so much?"


I don't know who made this particular cloak, but it is flawless. It can even trick the Artist sometimes.

Like the days I remember to put on lip gloss. And a cute top. And sparkly earrings. And mascara (which is a major sacrifice because I find black shadows under my eyes for days!) And perfume. ( I mean, you gotta give a girl some credit! )

And then I see him. Handsome. Tall. Lookin' pretty good to me. I give him a flirty look through my crusty, black lashes. A little winsome smile with my goopy, glossy lips.

And WHOOSH! Nada. Nothin'. (Nothin' sounds so much more satisfying to say than nothing.)

(Okay, darling, I will give credit where it is due. You might not notice the sparkly earrings, but you also never seem to notice when I have a down-in-the-gutter, ghetto-ugly day, either. Which is oddly comforting)

Or in a room full of busy people. My voice is kind of soft. It doesn't carry well. And I don't have one those personalities that takes up a lot of room. So, you guessed it -
I usually retreat to a quiet spot and when someone elbows me and tells me a joke I wave my hand in front of their face and say, "Can you really see me?"
Well, no I don't. But that's just because they were being nice to me and I can't scare them away with unnecessary weirdness.

And do not even get me started on teaching forty children under the age of six at church. I don't have that much air. If I try to WHOOSH an adequate number of times to illustrate that experience I will pass out. Some days I think a squawking goose could sub in for me and they wouldn't really notice.
Except the goose would be cool.

So, what I want to know is:
Are invisibility cloaks standard issue for all mothers
Why doesn't mine ever work when I try to sit down and watch T.V. for ten or eleven minutes? Do the electrical signals interfere with the invisibility rays?
Life is full of mysteries.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Divorce Epidemic in Socks

We've got a problem. The way pairs split up nowadays is really troublesome.
We deal with it on a regular basis at our home.
In fact, the Artist and I calculated that we have about a 40% divorce rate around here.

It is almost epidemic. I think I'm a pretty dedicated homemaker but when a particularly expensive or new sock goes missing the Artist raises his eyebrows incredulously as if asking, "how could you let this happen?" What am I- the sock marriage counselor?
I have no idea! I don't know where they go. Is there an underground socks singles bar that I don't know about?

I just gathered up all of our single socks and we sat down in a very revealing counseling session.

So what is it?
Was it the softener?
Was the citrus - scented detergent just a little too much of a risk?
Were the athletic socks in the other drawer too much of a temptation?
Did you lose interest in each other during flip flop season when all your little toes left you?

I do the laundry every day. I am working on my sixth load today. Yes- six!
In fact, I'm going to give my readers a present. I have friends who think my home is pretty clean. What really happens is my rooms take turns being clean. My laundry room has been neglected and taken for granted for months. When I woke up this morning to do my six! loads of laundry it looked like this:Under that jumbled pile of junk are bags of Christmas decorations. Yep, Christmas. As in two months ago Christmas. So there. Tapper is a slob. It's like being an addict. I can fight it. I can even control it, but deep down, I will always be a slob.
So after neglecting my Dancer for the morning the laundry room now looks like this:

Ahhh. Now that is the Tapper I want to be. I just keep faking it and hoping it sticks.
And right now on top of my dryer is a bucket filled with single socks. They console each other.
They hold group meetings with titles like
"One Can Be Fun: Think of Sock Puppets"
"You can't control what goes on on the other foot"
"Just concentrate on keeping your toes warm" and
"When stockings come knocking: a guide to sock dating."
I have hope for all of them that they will find their special mates. In the meantime, we just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Confessions! Love Secrets for Valentine's Day

Awww... that is the Artist and me in sixth grade. We sat next to each other in band that year. How could we have ever imagined we would spend forever and ever together? Back then we just wondered what cookies were in the cafeteria that day.

Absolutely must make a Valentine's Day confession today.
So the question of the day is:

What is the secret to love?

Easy breezy. He worships the ground I walk on, showers me in gifts and I love it.
Oh, you want me to talk about my life?
Gotcha. Let me edit then.

The secret to love (as I know it) is learning to laugh when the dishwasher force field defeats my husband yet again. There are constant and fierce battles, but somehow the dishwasher usually conquers. I must learn to think this is funny and "delightful".

The secret to love is accepting the fact that I complain when he doesn't compliment me and then argue with him when he does! The Artist must learn to find this "quaint" and "charming."

The secret to my love is shutting up when saying it wouldn't help anything.

The real secret to my love, and I think any love, is taking care of each other. As long as two people are truly trying to take care of one another, I can't see how things could get very far off track. After thirteen years of loving this sweet man I know that my main goal when I wake up every morning is to find some way to take care of him. I keep my elbows up, knees bent, hands together - fending off the blows the world tries to strike at him.
He circles his arms around me, making sure the cold winds of disappointment and sorrow don't cut all the way through me.
And when we can't protect each other we offer one another a safe place to tend to our wounds and hear comforting words.

And we just take care of each other.
That's all.
It's not very profound or complicated, but it's the motto of our marriage.
That and the mantra we repeat on really bad days: Someday we will go to Hawaii without the kids! I can taste the pineapple now.

High School Graduation.

Love Day!

Okay, I think the guilt of being the least celebrate-y person I know is finally getting to me. All those years or saying, "Oh, yeah, it's Halloween tomorrow. Let's check the dress up box." or "You don't really have to wear green on St. Patricks Day. We are neither Irish, Catholic nor leprechauns." or "Dang it. Forgot about Valentines Day." is starting to make me sound like a scrooge.
I don't mind holidays, I just reserve the right to chill (how's that for a nineties word?) right through them.
The Artist and I save all our holiday cheer for Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July and President's Day. Actually, I lied about presidents day. I let that one slide.
But not this year! We are all over this Valentines day.
Last night we put the Dancer and the Cowgirl to bed, snuck downstairs and proceeded to make a large paper scrap pile as we cut and glued our own little Valentines for them. (My spellcheck says that snuck is not a word. If it is not a word can somebody please explain why I use it so frequently?!!)
It was really fun and when we finished we had this:
We left a vase of flower hearts and butterflies on the kitchen table, along with stickers and a card for them to discover in the morning.
Ten parent points for us!
Then to show me up the Artist made us all french toast while I was cleaning up the girls for the day. Then the table looked like this:
So then the Artist was ahead a good five points. Can't have that.
I hurried the Cowgirl back upstairs, told her to lose the boring jeans I had put her in twenty minutes earlier and she emerged like this:
A bonafide little valentine all ready to make those second grade hearts pitter patter.
So the score is even, the girls are happy and we are rockin' the love day.
Happy V Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Little blessings

It's the Sabbath day today. I just can't make myself be sassy or silly on Sundays. Once a week I have to indulge my softer side.
It's funny how off track I can get in one week. I pray every day. I read the scriptures every day. I talk to my family and friends about God every day. But still, it takes church to get my head firmly lodged in place every week.
I told the Artist this morning that I never notice how crooked I am until I go to church and get straightened up. Every person plodding and dodging and ducking through those bustling halls is like a spiritual chiropractor. Their words, their smiles, their testimonies and their faith make me stand taller and straighter. I remember what I am striving for as I watch the examples of others striving with me.
Isn't it beautiful that we are all called to be healers to each other? The whole need no physician, but who is truly whole? We all have aches of the soul and pains of the mind that are bound up and mended as we share the gospel together.
Yesterday we were on a family date for Valentines Day and driving down the highway. All of a sudden there were brake lights and cars swerving to the shoulder. We swerved also and came to a safe stop on the shoulder right behind a little car that could not stop in time and went into the snowy ditch.
The Artist jumped out of the car to help push the car out of the ditch. Simultaneously, another man hopped out of his truck to do the same thing. Big smiles as we recognized our friend from church. The two men went to the other car without a word and pushed him back onto the road.
It was so small. But of all the people on that highway it was two Mormon men who immediately went to help before anyone even asked.
My heart swelled with pride that I have a husband who would aid others without hesitation. I felt proud of our friend who made the exact same choice.
Would other good people of every faith have done the same thing? Of course. But I felt something special as I realized how fast those two men reacted. Our faith is not something we say or even feel, it is something we do. When you feel extremely thankful you feel extremely anxious to bless others.
It was a little moment in a ditch by the highway, but it might have been my favorite moment of the day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stupid Old Witch

We have a favorite toy at our house. It is a three foot tall castle with obnoxious numbers of dungeons and secret passages. To do such a wooden monstrosity justice we also have little figurines to fit any story line and mood.
Cowboys? Got 'em.
Indians? Definitely.
Fairies? Of every wing size.
Pirates? Of course.
Princesses? Ogres? Dragons? Elfs? Wizards? Monsters? Somebody challenge me!
So I was spending another afternoon playing castle with the Dancer. (This means I tip the figures back and forth and say things like "hi" while daydreaming and looking out the window.)
But I had to shake my head and clear my ears when the Dancer turned from her castle and announced, "Mommy, you're the stupid old witch."

Excuse me? Three year old ball of joy and innocence? What did you say?

"You're the stupid old witch," she said as she held up the wicked old witch for me to play with.

I think something got lost in translation.
Crisis averted.
The Dancer does not, in actuality, believe I am a stupid old witch.
I'm a little worried about the fact that my family brings it up often and laughs riotously. This has all the hallmarks of a nickname in the making. Hmmm....

P.S. That is one scary, wicked witch, but I don't think she looks old. Thirty seven, forty tops, is my guess. So, is it a sign of advanced age when you admire the svelte physique and high cheekbones of a wicked old witch? I think I'm in trouble.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to fail at reverse psychology

So the Dancer has a little problem with psychology. Somewhere in her brain she knows that psychology can be reversed, but she just doesn't know all the tricks.
Let me set the scene.
Our kitchen. A whiny three-year-old is begging for a sandwich. No matter how many times I tell her to wait just a second, the whining only raises in pitch and intensity. I stop all my projects to throw some mayo and turkey on white bread. Four seconds and two nibbles later, said three-year-old is inching toward the trash can with her practically untouched sandwich.
Dancer: You don't see me, okay?

Scene two:
Tapper is folding laundry while the three-year-old is supposedly playing. Three-year-old runs into the living room and announces:
Do not look in my closet, okay?

Scene three:
Tapper and three-year-old are in the barn feeding barn cats chewy tuna treats. Tapper is stroking cat's head and looks up to watch the Cowgirl take a jump. When she looks back down three-year-old gives a strained smile and says:
I did not eat the kitty treat, okay?Yep. And it's the other kid who got sick last night. Proof that life is not fair.

Rock stars and puke

Did the title grab you? that's what we writer's aim for, you know. I think it might be a little too predictable.
The Cowgirl reached celebrity status by waking up at five this morning and puking every ten minutes until six thirty.
No fever. No other complaints. She got a bed on a floor, her own puke bucket and a bottle of water.
And fame.
When I opened my incredibly groggy eyes the dancer was kneeling by the cowgirl, eyes wide, face rapt.
(So then my tummy didn't want that food and I made a sound like this....
-Tell me another story, sissy.)
Ahh, those sweet moments of togetherness.

I just had to stop writing to put a Band-Aid on the Dancer's hangnail. It was a particularly spry Dora frolicking with Boots under a rainbow. Worth at least a can of creamed corn.

Right now they are snuggled on the living room floor watching Ramona and Beezus, and apparently feeling fine except for the Cowgirl being a little dizzy.
I wonder if riding for two hours at the barn had anything to do with it. I almost lost a couple fingertips trying to bridle the horse with all those little buckles while the windchill was -5 and the blood was leaving my extremities in a mass exodus to preserve my brain and heart.
It was just a bit much. Think we will huddle in warmth today and do a lot of nothing.

And P.S. pregnant Brandi, if you need a place to hang out, you would achieve true rock star status at our house. Just bring your own bucket.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Confessions! Contrite is the word for the day.

My friends, maybe I worry too much.
I am pretty forgiving to myself. I get everything wrong. I botch most of what I do. I say things that I shouldn't. I give up too soon. I get too lazy. I get this intimate, front row seat to every little flaw I have.
And then I forgive myself for most of it. I've made friends with myself. We get along despite my many and varied shortcomings and my apparent schizophrenia because I am speaking about myself as if there were two of me.
There isn't.
Just me. All bundled up into one, imperfect package.

What I don't forgive myself for very readily is hurting anyone else.
I simmer and stew and grow more and more agitated toward my poor, unsuspecting family when I think I've upset anyone unintentionally. And I promise with all my heart that unintentionally is the only way I would ever hurt someone.
So, if anything I have said has made you weep instead of laugh, I really and truly apologize.
I am trying to make fun of myself and my life and not insult anybody else.
One of my best friends on earth is a woman in her fifties with five great kids, a huge heart and a saucy sense of humor. She taught me that it is okay to laugh at ourselves, and when we do it with love, okay to laugh at each other. It reminds us not to get too wrapped up in our egos.
So if I bumped into your ego and left any bruises, I hope you forgive me.
I will still be my imperfect, politically incorrect self on this blog, because that is the only self I know how to be.
I hope we can keep laughing about it - together.

Economics of Band-Aids

If the economy truly collapses and civilizations falls into ruin, I have a way to ensure we get firewood and granola bars and deodorant. I will barter with Band-Aids.
Now run-of-the-mill brown bandages will probably only get me a few matchsticks and a pack of gum, but wait until once-pampered rich kids get splinters from collecting mushrooms for dinner and then infect them while gathering cow patties for fuel.
Their parents will hang around my back door with their hoods pulled up and their faces in shadow.
We hear you've got the stuff.
Maybe. I might have a spare.
Yeah, well my kid won't take any
thing but Spiderman.
(low, long whistle) Big shortage on those. They are remarkably shiny and they have extra stick.
So what's it gonna take?
I'm gonna need M&Ms and some ibuprofren. It's that time of the month.
No way.
Okay, have it your way.
Oh, forget it. Just give me two Spidermans and I'll get your stuff.

It's a sound investment. I stock up in every color and character. The Dancer got a paper cut from a Fruit-by-the-foot wrapper yesterday. It has recieved about forty seven Band-Aids since then. I tried to tell her to shake it off because I didn't want to dent my stock right when Egypt is looking so shaky. She cried harder.

Oh, and FYI, let's address the hair.
Went to the dollar store today and would you believe that for only 100 pennies you, too, can look like a princess? Can't get it off her. She is Rapunzel from Tangled and I am the "bad mudder." (gotta say - I'm a little worried about that interpretation)

I spent the day with my friend, the Inspired One, who does not believe in princesses or Band-Aids. I had a great time in her gorgeous house (hence, her label of Inspired One. She is an artist and designer and decorator), but the Dancer probably maxed out the Inspired One's daily tolerance for ruffles, fake hair and superficial injuries.
Hey, Inspired One, I'm getting your kids Band-Aids for their birthdays and I will be their favorite friend's mom. I like to start campaigning early.
And you'll thank me when you have to barter for toilet paper.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confessions! Do parents have favorites?

The Artist just took the Cowgirl to her piano lessons and the Dancer went along to make sure she did not miss anything fun like a stoplight or a passing pick up truck or a road construction sign.
So that means I'm alone.
Gloriously, quietly alone. Doesn't happen often.
And today's question is:

Do you think parents have a favorite child?

That's a question that haunted me every time I got less skittles than my siblings, or my parents left me at church (yep, it happened).
Now I am a parent and I find myself worrying about it whenever I feel a preference to be with one child. But I think I have an honest answer.
Yes. I have a favorite. It just changes constantly.
When I am confronted with this:
I prefer this:

When I get a big heaping of this:

I prefer this:

When I need nonsense and an elfish face that can make my day, I go to the Dancer.
When I need a gentle soul to spend some quiet time with and talk about life, I go to the Cowgirl.

The Cowgirl gets in less trouble, but sulks so much when she does that I would kind of prefer death by cheese grater.

The Dancer gets in tons of trouble but recovers from it so cheerfully that I forget what she did wrong almost as fast as she does. Almost.

And sometimes I am perfectly fair (If I can reach you, I will spank you. You should see that one clear a room. I haven't acted on it yet, but I must say it with conviction because they lickety split every time.)

So the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is that they constantly take turns being my favorite.
And lucky thing there is only one "Mudder" (that is how the Dancer says it) because I get to be their favorite all the time.
When I'm nice.
I'm working on it.