Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Warning Signs

Fainting Couch photo courtesy DollsforDolls.com

In a way, I guess it paid off this morning, the fact that I have fainted so many times.
Let's see: my first time was during church and I woke up to dad flapping his hand in my face and Wayne Chaffee offering me a cup of water; then there was the time in Dr. Wulff's office when I watched him burning a wart off my finger; the time in Chicago when I got to ride in an ambulance; the other time in the shower just after I'd sprained my ankle; the time when I had the flu and wasn't sure whether I needed to hurl or put my head between my knees. Oh yeah, and this morning, in the shower again.
I'm not really sure what brought this one on; usually, they're triggered by a sudden burst of pain, but this time, I am afraid I may have brought it on myself. My doctor thinks I have suddenly developed an allergic reaction to something in the spring air, which might just be the case. For three weeks, I have been coughing and sniffling and muttering imprecations at Kleenex manufacturers. It hasn't gone away. At this point, I'd prefer to be allergic to something because being SICK for three weeks is an insult to my state of healthy living.
So yesterday, a helpful colleague, upon hearing my croaking voice, offered me a Claritin, saying it helps alleve her allergy symptoms and warning me not to take another for 24 hours. I downed it immediately, and I did feel somewhat better--although each class of students continued to chuckle at my raspy froggy voice (sigh: teenagers) (good thing I love attention and sympathy).
By the time evening came, I was feeling somewhat better, but very tired, and as soon as I laid my sleepy head down on my pillow, the irresistible tickle flared up in my throat. I picture it as a very small sentient white feather that is lodged down there--an evil, insidious feather that enjoys torture. I probably coughed for an hour straight before I stumbled out of bed and poked my head in the medicine cabinet.
A drink of water wasn't enough. I needed drugs. NyQuil did the trick. When I got back to bed, the coughing was finished and I don't really remember anything at all after that. The alarm woke me and, groggy, I stumbled into the bathroom for a shower. As I was waiting for the water to warm up, the lights still off, I had to lean against the wall. But I shrugged it off as allergic drowsiness.
Just as I was starting to get my hair wet, I felt them: the warning signs. My skin felt hot and prickly all over and I smelled that strange smell. It smells like warm silver, I think, or some kind of heated metal. Really, I don't know how I had enough sense to turn off the water and lie down in the tub, but I did. Next thing I knew, my thoughts were flickering in and out and I was making a very piggish grunting sound. Apparently, it wasn't loud enough to wake Clint up, but he was lucid enough to realize something was wrong when I stumbled back into our room and fell into bed, still soaking wet, with a towel wrapped around my head (not sure what I was thinking with that one).
Kindly, he deciphered my mumbles and called a sub for me. I spent the rest of the day finishing my book, watching a movie, and...hmm...not much else.
I still don't know what made me faint this time. Maybe I shouldn't have taken NyQuil 14 hours after a Claritin. Maybe I got out of bed too quickly. Maybe my ears are plugged from all the yucky stuff sloshing around inside my head. All I know is this: I'm glad I stayed home. Froggy voice plus woozy head is not a good combination for a girl who has to lecture on World War II and the Salem Witch Trials.
Here's to hoping for a cough-free night and fully-conscious (well, or nearly-conscious: let's not get too greedy) shower in the morning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How Much is Enough?

Photo courtesy of BasilandGinger.com

I have always been impressed by my father's ability to estimate the amount of food needed to feed a group of any size. I don't know if he was born with this gift or if it came to him after fourteen open houses for the graduations and confirmations of seven children, playing host at least a dozen times to extended family reunions, planning Christmas and birthday parties for family and friends, organizing his church's sauerkraut supper. You name it, he's planned the food for it.

And I don't mean to demean my mom's additions of wisdom to these plans. Let's see: 365 days in a year times (let's average under the margin and say) 20 years for (give or take) nine mouths. That would be...hmm...(David, where are you?)...I don't know...whatever 365 times 180 is. That's a lot of meals, okay?

Since Dad's in China, I figured Mom would be THE PERSON to ask to help me make potato salad and brownies for Lauren's confirmation open house. No, I wasn't being stingy with food: five of the families of this year's confirmands at Trinity decided to team up and host a group open house. My responsibility? Brownies and potato salad for 350-ish.

So there I was Friday after school at Meijer, loading up my cart with 20 pounds of potatoes, 2 big containers of Miracle Whip, a jar of dill pickles, a bunch of celery, a jar of mustard, a big container of sour cream, and 4 dozen eggs. Oh, and 6 brownie mixes.

Mom showed up Saturday morning promptly at 9 with a still-warm coffee cake--all ready to peel and chop. My friend Jessica arrived about 45 minutes later to help too. We chopped and stirred and stained and diced, and pretty soon, we had transformed all those raw ingredients into a big bowl of potato salad and 3 sheet cake pans of steaming brownies.

I stretched my arms over my head, and we all congratulated ourselves on getting the whole production done before lunch. Jessica went home, and Mom and I finished up the dishes. Then I looked at that bowl and imagined 35o hungry people taking out heaping spoonfuls of it. Doubt weaseled its way into my brain. My knees began to quake. Suddenly, I just knew it wasn't enough.

Mom must have caught my worried glance. "What is it?" she asked.

"The potato salad," I said. "It's just one bowl. I don't think it will be enough." Mind you, this was a BIG food-service size bowl. A bowl that was so heavy I had to stagger under its weight to carry it to the fridge, where it had to be tilted on its side to fit in the door. "I think I need to go get more potatoes."

I am pretty sure I saw small white diced shapes flicker behind Mom's eyes as she nodded slowly. "20 more pounds, you think?"

"At least," I said. "I'll go to the store. Be right back."

By two, we had another twenty pounds of potatoes made into salad, complete with all the fixings. Two big bowls had to be enough for 350 people, I thought. Surely, there would be enough. I took the bowls out to the school to chill in the big walk-in cooler and went home, promising myself I wouldn't worry any more about potatoes or their salad-hood or 35o people in various states of near-starvation. And I wasn't even going to think about the brownies.

Lauren's confirmation service was beautiful, and I teared up just three times. Once when I was standing trapped in the narthex with a fractious Jared, watching as Clint stood alone behind Lauren to extend his hand in blessing over her as she was confirmed, wishing Jared was not so dependent on me. Another time in a twinge of raw fury when Pastor confirmed my daughter as "Lynn Bro-Brooke Genthner" instead of a smooth "Lauren Brooke." And a third time when I firmly decided that singing "Go My Children, With My Blessing" while watching the projected slide show of pcitures of each confirmand as a baby and young adult was NOT a good idea. Then we were off to set up last minute details for the open house.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who made salad. In addition to the original menu, there were suddenly a plethora of other side dishes. Salads and fruit trays abounded. My potato salad, although it looked delicious, was lost on the table. And it had a twin of equal size in the cooler!

As the afternoon wore on, I urged each new guest to eat heartily--and to try the potato salad in particular. I got a number of compliments, which was nice, but what I really wanted was to see two nearly-empty bowls.

Alas, as five o'clock rolled around and the last guest left, I came to this conclusion: my eyes are bigger than 350 projected stomachs. I should have stopped at 2o pounds, for sure. I probably could have gotten away with just 15.

So I'm asking you. No, I'm begging you: are you still hungry for potato salad? I have a fridge full. I figure it'll be good for another couple days. Come on over and bring your appetite.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Cup Overfloweth

Photo courtesy of Tough Pigs

The good thing about potty training Jared is that I didn't have to do it. (Ah, the glorious ladies at his child care center. How I adore them.) Aside from a few accidents, he is totally trained and has been for a few months. In fact, he is so independent, he doesn't even tell us when he is going to the bathroom. I know when I hear a flush. Even #2 is done solo.
So Sunday, as I was making my cards, lost in the glorious haze of paper craft, I was totally unprepared for Jonah's "MOOOM!" shout from the bathroom. You know: the one that is drawn out in horror. That one. I dropped my favorite pen and ran.
At first I thought Jared had been playing in the sink. Something I've caught him doing before. The kid likes water. It's usually a harmless mess. Not so harmless this time.
The rugs were soaked. So soaked, when I stepped on the nearest one, it squelched. That's when I noticed the clothes on the floor. Also soaked. Jared had on a new pair of Elmo undies (which weren't soaked). I sloshed across the floor and found the toilet water suspiciously cloudy and a handful of drowned looking beanie babies sprawled on the floor nearby.
"Jared, what did you do?" I sighed. But I think I already knew.
"I went poops, mom." He looked so proud of himself, I couldn't get mad. Not at him.
I sent Jonah down to find a bucket as I reconstructed the event. That's when I noticed the sodden pile of slightly soiled toilet paper IN THE BATHTUB. I don't want to speculate about how that got there.
Judging by the color and general purity of the water on the floor, I'm pretty sure (I really hope) that Jared flushed at least once before he decided to teach his beanies and outfit and shoes to swim in the toilet. At some point, an entire box of wipes and a whole roll of toilet paper were inserted there as well and then removed. Flushing likely occurred as well. Thus the soaked rugs.
So there I was on Mother's Day cleaning up possible fecal matter in the bathroom, dumping dripping beanie babies and clothes and wipes into buckets to be washed or tossed. And Clint couldn't figure out why I wasn't happy to see him when he finally came in to help AFTER the bathroom was clean again. Silly man.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Good Day

This is what I did today. Pattern here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Color theory

It was a hectic moment in Kohl's. I could feel sweat forming under my arms and my hair was audibly crinkling out. Not a good sign. I had 70 minutes to help Lauren find a dress for confirmation (in 12 days).
The problem: apparently, all the other teenage girls who shop at Kohl's and Sears and Fashion Bug and TJ Maxx and Target (Jackson has limited choices) either 1) don't wear dresses at all or 2) like to show their backs, cleavages, and most of their thighs. Which may look fine on fashion models and beach scenes, but it is not quite so fine on my still-thirteen daughter on her CONFIRMATION DAY--you know, the one where she makes a public commitment to the teachings of the Lutheran church. Yeah, that sort of Confirmation.
Nothing worked in the junior section. Too trampy, too short, too small.
I knew she wouldn't be happy, but I moved into the dreaded MOM section of the store, thinking maybe the dresses there would provide more coverage. I found two cuties: black and black. Not too plunging in the neckline, cute little cap sleeves. But black. Is that okay for Confirmation? I wasn't too sure. It's like helping her choose a nice cherry red wedding dress. Not really the thing, I don't think.
So I called my infallible font of all knowledge and wisdom, Ilona. She assured me that black is classy and totally appropriate, not to mention more practical than white. I shoved the two black dresses in Lauren's skeptical hands and shooed her into the dressing room.
Did they look nice? Of course not. They looked like decorative black pillowcases. Horrible.
Then my stomach started to growl and we gave up.
We had other chores to do and other errands to run, and it looked like my weekend was going to be spent in an increasingly harrowing search for a suitable Confirmation dress in the appropriate color.
And then, as we were about to head home, we decided to try one more store. Let me say this: if you're looking for a dress, go to JCPenney. I am not lying. They have tons! Not just one or two racks--a whole flipping section!
We walked into the dressing room with maybe 10 dresses and came out with one. I won't tell you what color it is, but it's not black or white. It's pretty adorable, though, and I can't wait to watch my baby take this one step closer to adulthood. Hmm. Actually, when I put it that way, maybe I can wait. Maybe I should have gotten her the tights with the ruffles on the bum, just to remind both of us she's still my baby.