Monday, October 4, 2010

How I Killed a Skunk

I was just trying to help. Honest. I hold no animosity towards skunks. This was not revenge for that Halloween in my childhood when I got sprayed by a skunk I thought was a kitten and had to throw out my candy and burn my costume. Truly, I didn't mean for it to die!!!!

So here's what happened.

I have an aunt who lives in a little brown house near Tetonia, Idaho. She has a large plot of land down a road that gets almost no traffic, and from her unpretentious porch she has a $5 million view of the Teton Mountains. It is a view that makes those long, snowy winters worth it.

My aunt has a soft spot in her heart for animals and over the years has had quite a collection of dogs, horses, rabbits, and about a million cats. Personally, my favorite pet of hers was Baby the pig. Baby was this enormous pig who roamed about the house just like a fat, old dog. Baby could open the fridge with her snout, and so the fridge had to be secured with duct tape to keep Baby out.

Matt discovered the importance of the duct tape when we were newly engaged. It was the typical "meet the family weekend" turned atypical when my unsuspecting fiance happened to stumble upon Baby in the kitchen snorting down a bowl full of bean dip that she had scored from the fridge. I'll never forget Matt trying to wrangle that dip away from a 300 pound pig . . . Ahh . . . Good times . . . I miss Baby.

But I digress.

A few months ago my aunt started posting on our family website her concerns about a skunk that had taken up residence under one of her sheds. She was asking for ideas for how to get rid of it, and various ideas were given. Critters are part of country living, so I wasn't that concerned.

That is, until the skunk came in her cat door to get at the cat food, and my poor aunt crawled out the nearest window to escape and spent the evening languishing in her pick up truck. By this time the skunk had also been given a name: Daffodil, or "Daffy" for short.

I thought to myself, this is getting serious. Pretty soon Daffy is going to be living in the house, and Aunt Anne is going to be living in the hole under the shed.

At this point, more suggestions were given for how to get rid of Daffy. Fire arms. Traps of various shapes and complexities. Knives. Tomato juice (still not sure what this one was about). Hire a Skunk Whisperer (that was mine).

So Aunt Anne went a little Wylie coyote and decided to rig up quite the little contraption. She even posted pictures. She bought the biggest garbage can she could find. Then she got a large piece of fish and put it in the microwave and then left it out for a while until it was nice and stinky. She hung the stinky fish from her porch from a string which she had suspended above the garbage can, which she had filled with water. The idea was that Daffy would go for the fish and end up drowning in the garbage can.

It might have worked if it weren't for Facebook. The entire family was so fascinated with this experiment that we were insisting on pictures. So after rigging her trap she sat perched at the window late one night in her darkened house. Daffy came and was sniffing around, and just our skunk got really interested in that stinky fish, my aunt snapped a great photo and spooked Daffy.

It's probably for the best, because there was the millionaire to consider. I mentioned before that my aunt lives down a quiet road that gets almost no traffic. Well, apparently a cute and single male millionaire is in the process of building a lovely residence nearby. He has been asking about my aunt at the local service station, and the girl at the counter has been trying to set them up. So you can imagine that one would feel self-conscious in front of any new neighbor if one's porch was ornamented with a dead fish dangling over a garbage can. The self-consciousness would only be compounded if the new neighbor happened to be a handsome, rich and eligible bachelor. So, alas, the trap had to come down.

At this point Aunt Anne was looking for an exterminator. But they were not to be found in Teton Valley where she lives. She found one over the mountains in Jackson, Wyoming, but as it turns out 1) they were too lazy to drive over and 2) they don't do skunks.

Enter Heather. I decided I would try to help. In my personal opinion there is no problem that cannot be solved with Google and a credit card. So I went online and found a website that advertised skunk repellent and ordered some and had it shipped to my aunt. I was really excited about this solution because I had come to realize one thing: My aunt didn't want to hurt Daffy. My aunt is an animal lover, and her tender feelings extend to even the least aromatically pleasing of God's creatures. So I knew that she didn't have the heart to kill Daffy, she just wanted her to relocate.

The skunk repellent, as advertised, was "totally safe and organic." It was little granules that you would shake around outside that would give off the aroma of skunk predators (such as foxes) and so presumably the skunk would leave because it was afraid. It was not a poison and so no one would be hurt: not the skunk, not other pets, not any people. Perfect!!

So just a few days ago my aunt got her package and followed the instructions.

And then I got this post on Facebook:
"Heather...Thank you so so much for the removal stuff. It worked so well, Daffy got run over. Ironic..isn't it?"

Did I mention that the road in front of my aunt's house gets almost no traffic! Here we are, trying to preserve Daffy's life with a "totally safe" product, and as she is running for her life from the foul-smelling organic granules, she manages to run out in front of a car on a barely- traveled country road! Could she not have waited 5 seconds?

It was probably the cute millionaire driving that car. I think he is destined to be my aunt's skunk-crossed lover. Somehow these events will bring them together and Daffy's death will not have been in vain.
Now I can relax and go back to happily reminiscing about Matt and Baby and that bean dip . . Ahh . . . Good times . . .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mutton Bustin'

A few years ago I went to a rodeo. I enjoyed it very much and was fascinated by the sub-culture of cowboys and cowgirls that it represented. It was a world of its own that some people build a life around, and that many devoted fans follow; much like the sub-culture of ballroom dance that I am a part of, only with fewer rhinestones and more leather.

One of the things I remembered most from the rodeo was the Mutton Bustin'. In this event a child age 3 to 6 is placed on the back of a sheep and released into the arena to see how long they can hold on. Kind of like bull riding with training wheels. I remember thinking, for some reason, that I would love for my kids to do this. I don't know why I thought this. But it just seemed like a really unusual, gritty, and memorable experience to have. But the idea left almost immediately. Since I don't wear Wranglers and spend my time at rodeos, I knew that this was probably not going to happen. We are a family of dancers after all, not bull riders.

But yesterday I found myself at the Puyallup Fair. I was in the bathroom when a woman said to her daughter, "If I sign you up you are really going to have to hold on to that sheep's neck . . . " and then she was out of range. But I had heard enough. There was Mutton Bustin' to be had.

So we found the arena. And I tried to talk the girls into it. Cora was too old, but under the weight limit, so she could ride as an exhibitionist. Sydney could compete. Maryn was too little. Unfortunately, Maryn was the only one willing to do it.

So we just watched the competition. We saw a lot of kids falling off sheep and face planting in the mud. As I watched I realized that there are few activities that would be more wrong for my tutu-wearing, princess-loving daughters than this one. Just the mud itself was enough to make them cry, nevermind the animals, and the crowd, and the falling, and the getting stepped on by little hooves. Oh well. I released the idea into the universe once again.

But as we were leaving, Cora completely surprised me by saying, "I want to do it."

"Are you serious?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied. "I want to do it."

There was another competition scheduled for 5:30. So we went and entertained ourselves for bit and returned. I kept expecting Cora to back out, but she was excited. By this time my own heart was beginning to race. (Sydney was not to be persuaded. Since she had worn a skirt to the fair, I didn't press it. Maryn was still ready to go: "Wanna ride a sheep!")

We got Cora signed up, outfitted with a vest and a helmet, and gave her some coaching. Matt and I, having neither of us ever mutton busted before, couldn't resist giving advice nevertheless.

Matt said, "Do you want to know a secret? Sheep don't care if you pull their wool. It doesn't hurt them one bit. So you just grab on to that wool and don't let go."

I said, "Cora. You are very strong and very light. You know how you can skip bars on the monkey bars at school? If you can do that, you can do this easily. Use all of your muscles and just stay right on top of his back. Squeeze onto him with your legs like you are doing a piggy back."

Matt took Maryn and Sydney into the crowd to watch and I went and waited behind the gate with Cora.

In bull riding, the goal is 8 seconds. In mutton bustin, it is 6 seconds. Most of the kids we had seen that day stayed on for 2 seconds or less.

Since Cora was one of the older kids, she was second to go. She climbed over the gate and they loaded her onto the sheep. I couldn't believe I had actually talked her into this, and I hoped it would end well. I whispered, "You go girl! You can do this!"

With that, they opened the gate and her sheep shot across the arena like a bolt of lightning, with Cora clamped onto his back like a baby monkey. I couldn't believe she was still on it when he reached the other end and started to turn. She fell off sometime after that, but it was definitely one of the best rides of the day. She hopped up and ran through the mud back to the starting point. (Later she told me that when she was getting up she saw one of the sheep pee, and she bashfully reported that she even thought it was her sheep that had peed. I told her she probably scared the pee out of him. She laughed and laughed.)

Meanwhile, the crowd was cheering and the announcer was telling them: "Come on! When they smoke 'em like a bad habit you've got to cheer louder than that!"

I was amazed. Cora was completely inspirational. I couldn't believe her courage. I couldn't believe how completely out of her comfort zone she had gone.

The next time I am afraid to try something new, I am going to remember watching the wooly backside of that sheep speed away from me with Cora bravely and deftly clinging to his back in front of an arena full of strangers. I find that image delightful. I hope she always feels that kind of power in her life. The thought of it makes me feel like I can do anything.

My Cora. My hero.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I am Considering Shaving Sydney Bald

Maryn is currently addicted to cutting her own hair. I have discovered her twice in the last 24 hours with a pair of scissors going into her hair and taking out a chunk before I could get the scissors away from her. We have now implemented a scissors moratorium at our house.

I suppose this is a phase, and that I should be grateful. Whitney, the little blond across the street, went through a phase where she was cutting not only her hair but also her eyelashes, claiming that they "were too long and needed a trim." I hope Whitney doesn't give Maryn any ideas. Maryn + a pair of scissors + eyeball = disaster.

Perhaps the hair cutting thing is a necessary rite of childhood. Cora just went through this a couple of months ago. It was an event for which I was totally unprepared. First, because Cora is traditionally very obedient. Second, because Cora is seven and I figured I'd passed the "destroy your hair with scissors" window. Apparently not.

Cora was at school when she was overcome by the overwhelming urge to hack off her hair. She pulled the rounded end craft scissors out of her desk and went at it--putting all of the hair clippings into her desk, and then wrapping them in a sweatshirt that she stashed in her backpack. She took at least four inches off in some places--in other places it was just one or two inches. It was quite a new look, as you might imagine.

The biggest mystery in all of this is how a seven year old girl manages to do something like this to herself without her teacher noticing? We still aren't sure about that. Cora claims that her teacher was at her desk the entire time Cora was executing her covert hair assassination.

Sydney hasn't had her phase yet. I'm hoping that perhaps she has lived vicariously through her sisters and won't feel the urge. But you never know. Maybe she'll skip scissors and head straight for a razor. Maybe I should just head the whole thing off and shave her head now. Now that would be some proactive parenting.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I've just returned from Disneyland, which is a fascinating place. From the moment you walk through the gates you are transported into another world that seems more colorful and exciting than the one you left behind. There are several parades a day, ice cream and candy available on every corner, people running around in elaborate costumes wherever you look, music, fireworks, lightshows . . . . everything you could imagine.

But what I was most fascinated by on this particular trip was that it seems when one enters this alternate reality one feels inclined to adopt alternative values. Or at least I did. And I saw others doing things that I found to be questionable so I don't think I'm the only one.

Now, before you go thinking that I was shoplifting Mickey ears, I would like to explain what I mean by alternative values. It wasn't that I was doing things that were overtly wrong--it was just that I found myself being a lot more narcissistic than usual. I felt like I was running around the park trying to grab as much of the experience as I could for myself and my kids. I hardly gave a thought for other people, except to wish that they weren't in my way. Hurrying to get a better spot in a line, crowding in for a better view of the show, and feeling this strange of disappointment if I wasn't being expressly delighted and entertained at every turn.

I saw others scrambling as well, in their own ways. At the entry gates we saw a family trying to pass off a 4-year-old for a 2-year-old. I saw lots of people in wheelchairs that looked like they weren't wheechair regulars. I think Disneyland is the only place on earth where faking that you are wheelchair-bound is advantageous. You don't have to walk for miles around the park AND you (and the sucker that you talked into pushing you) don't have to wait in any lines.

I might not have even given any thought to any of this if that lady hadn't called me a liar.

I won't bore you with too many details. Short Version: I was waiting in line with Sydney to meet Princess Tiana. Lady (Disneyland employee) comes up and tells me I cut in line. I'd been there since before the line had formed, waiting at least 5 minutes, and so I politely said, "No, I'm sorry, you are mistaken." I expected that to be the end of the conversation. Lady doesn't believe me and we have an exchange in which she basically calls me a liar. I know that I am not a liar, and that I didn't cut in line, and since I am completely stubborn in every way, I ignore the lady, take Sydney to see Tiana, and leave Lady with smoke coming out her ears as she complains to a fellow employee.

It made me realize that in my normal life I expect to be taken at my word, and I usually am. I place a high value on my honesty was highly insulted to be called a liar. But in my normal life it also wouldn't have been that big of a deal to simply say, "I'm so sorry, I didn't think I had cut in line, but maybe I'm wrong. Please accept my apologies and we'll move to the back." But you see, in Disneyland, being polite would have meant losing precious time that I could have used waiting in line for another 90-second thrill.

Don't get me wrong--Disneyland was great. I loved it and feel absolutely fortunate to have been able to spend time with my family and friends there. We made lots of great memories. I just found it interesting that from the moment I walked into a place that was so abundant with opportunities for pleasure that all I could think of was getting more and more and more.

Why couldn't I have sat down on the bench and said to myself, "It is enough."?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Going Goat

I've decided that I need a goat. I hear that urban farming is all the rage these days, and I think I might join the movement by adopting a pet goat. And maybe a chicken.

A goat would be so useful. Much more useful than a dog or a cat. I could put it out in the back yard and it could mow the grass by day and scare the racoons and opossums away at night. No 'coon is going to mess with a goat, unless they like getting their face kicked in. I could put a saddle on it and the girls could ride it around the mall and I wouldn't have to pay the two dollars to rent one of those red car strollers. I could take it running AND rock climbing, should I ever decide to participate in either or those activities. The point is, a goat is versatile.

I think a goat would also help us parent. Kids these days are too soft. We could teach our girls how to work the old-fashioned way--they could get up every morning and milk the goat before school. If they want milk in their cereal, well, then they had better take their bowl out in the yard and find the goat. Think what strong women they would become. If they leave their toys out, I could just feed them to the goat. It's all about consequences. I think it would only take one Barbie being chewed to pieces to scare them into submission. My house would be so clean.

You can make lots of cool stuff from goat's milk. Goat soap. Goat cheese. Goat yogurt. Granted, I have never tried any of these products and I don't know if I would like them or not. But even the possibility of them proves that the goat is a superior pet. I mean, who's ever heard of dog soap or cat cheese?

I'm pretty much convinced that goats are where it's at. So now the only question is, what should we name it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Music and the Spoken Word

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to take my two-year-old to the symphony. Maybe it was because I was hard up for a babysitter. Maybe I thought an early dose of art and culture would be good for her. But in any case, by the time I got around to asking myself what I was thinking, it was too late.

The symphony is one of those places where quiet and stillness are very important. I am not being a paranoid mother about this, there is an entire section about concert etiquette on Wikipedia, which everyone knows is the ultimate authority on everything:

"Concert etiquette is particularly strong at concerts featuring music from the Classical tradition, especially those featuring an unamplified orchestra. Such audiences have come to expect quiet, and disapprove of fellow members making any kind of noise louder than light breathing."

Did you get that last part?

We were attending the symphony with the Pratt Family. Ben Pratt was playing the viola in the orchestra, and we were seated with his wife, Cami, and their two daughters, who are Cora and Sydney's ages.

Maryn was fascinated with the chairs. They were the kind that fold up when you get up off of them. She was testing as many of them as she could-- folding herself up so that her feet were near her head, laughing, and then moving on to the next one. But this wasn't the biggest problem with Maryn at the symphony. Nor was it the fact that she liked to swing on the handrails in the aisle as if she were on the moneybars at the park. The biggest problem with Maryn at the symphony is that, apparently, she is a music critic, and she likes to give her feedback in real time. Loudly.

It wasn't so bad when the assessment was good. She liked Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. She especially liked the National emblem March by E. E. Bagley, and Csardas by Johann Strauss. She danced in the aisles during those. It was rather endearing to see her enjoying the music so much. "I like it! I like it!" She said again and again as she bobbed up and down and clapped her approval. I let her dance and clap because I hoped other people would think it was cute too. Plus the music was really loud and no one could hear her.

But then came the Titanic Suite. It was slow, and somber. And it had these fantastic moments of softness and subtlety. They were perfect times for Maryn to yell her assessment loud enough for the conductor to hear: "I NO LIKE THIS ONE!"

Not so cute.

I gathered her in my arms and told her to be quiet. "I NO LIKE IT! I NO LIKE IT!" she screamed as loudly as she could, while the orchestra was playing as softly as it could. The conductor even turned and glanced over his shoulder at us. It was awesome.

I finally got her quieted down and I thought she would like the next one. It was Star Wars. What kid doesn't like Star Wars? Part I. Main Title. "NO LIKE IT!"

Part II. Princess Leia's Theme. I told her it was about a Princess. "I NO LIKE PINCESS LEIA!"

Part III. The Imperial March. I told her it was about a scary guy named Darth Vader. (Sometimes she is fascinated by things that are scary. Not this time.) "I NO LIKE VADER! I NO LIKE PINCESS! I WANT GO OUT! I WANT GO OUT!" She pointed meaningfully at the door that was on the other side of the theater.

So much for Maryn being a music prodigy.

I told her it was the last song and then we could go out. I really thought I was telling the truth.

I forgot about encores. That's right. Encoresssssssss. At least four.

She didn't make it through the encores. Matt had to take her out. It reminded me of church, except at church there are lots of other kids screaming their heads off, so it's expected.

I would also like to point out, for the record, that I warned Matt during Intermission that Maryn would not make it through the remainder of the evening. I suggested that we make an early exit. "But she loves the music," he protested. "She'll be fine."

Sigh. I'm not sure if I will make it through the remainder of Maryn: Age 2. I suppose I might if I avoid symphonies, airplanes, and IKEA. Maybe Matt should lock the two of us in a padded room for the rest of the year with a TV that streams Pongebob Pairpants and a freezer full of ice cream. It really might be the best option.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up in the Air

If there is one experience that puts any parent to the test, it is air travel. I have been a parent for 7 1/2 years now and I have taken my children to all sorts of public places--the grocery store, the library, the zoo, office buildings, restaurants, movie theaters, church--but no encounter with the general populous is more fraught with stress and challenge than that of taking your offspring on an airplane.

The general public is predisposed to dislike children on airplanes. Deny it if you want, but the sentiment is palpable; this is perhaps what makes the experience so distressing. Never in my life do I feel more judged as a parent than when I enter an airport.

This weekend I was traveling alone with my three daughters--ages 7, 5, and 2. The older two are by nature very obedient and quiet children. They came that way and I'm not sure our parenting has had much to do with it, but I still like getting the compliments about how good they are being.

My youngest daughter is cut from a different cloth. If she doesn't like something she will let you know, and she won't be quiet about it. Her tantrum abilities are already the stuff of legends.

The first big challenge was security. One woman. Three children. That's eight shoes, 2 backpacks, 4 jackets, 4 boarding passes, a purse, a cell phone, and a laptop. I was a whiz, if I do say so myself. Once we hit the plastic tubs I had everyone through security and re-shoed (both times) in less than 5 minutes. If you are not impressed, fellow travelers, well you should be. I was a wonder of speed and efficiency.

It was then that we needed to make it to our gate, and it was then that Maryn decided that she needed to be carried. I was already carrying a backpack filled with snacks, books, crayons, pillows, etc., and I had my laptop in my purse, so I figured that this mama horse had packed enough. Maryn didn't agree. She refused to walk and then she went boneless and sprawled out on the glossy airport floor.

I told her "fine, stay there" and kept walking. But then I got too many looks of horror from other travelers, and being on a schedule, I finally had no choice but to give in and scoop her up off the floor and perch her on my hip, where she sat like the Queen of Sheba all the way to the gate.

As we were boarding the plane, Maryn determined that it was "scary" and didn't want to enter. She was still howling and screaming when we entered the plane and I got to do the walk of shame past all of the disapproving faces of my fellow passengers. I wanted to shout, "See how good the other two are being!"

I positioned Cora and Sydney on the row across from me so that I could see them.

The stewardess came and said, "Are you the only adult? I don't know if this will work." It seemed I should have consulted her before I was so bold as to give life to three children. Southwest can only accommodate three passengers on either side of the aisle, and I, being only one adult and lacking the ability to cut myself in two, was left no other alternative than to sit across the aisle from at least one of my children, which apparently inconvenienced the stewardess.

I assured her that I had the situation totally under control and that I could, in fact, manage all three children rather competently.

Soon the announcement came that this was a full flight and that any parents flying with children who are not ticketed would need to hold the children on their laps because every seat was needed. Maryn, who was still fussing and being unconsolable because she didn't like the seatbelt, had made the entire plane very aware of where a potential unticketed child might be. I swear that at least 12 heads turned and looked accusingly in my direction. But I had paid full price for Maryn's ticket and I wasn't about to relinquish her seat. So I answered their accusatory stares with a firm, "She's ticketed."

Once we were in the air, Maryn settled down. She didn't like it that a young boy, roughly 12 years old, came and sat next to us, and so she insisted on sitting on my lap for the entire flight, leaving the seat that we had paid full price for completely empty. (On a side note, this kid left the flight with an entire grocery sack full of peanuts. I was pretty impressed with his peanut scoring skills).

In the end, we made it there and back. I am still alive, and so are my children. But I will warn that the experience is not for the faint of heart.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Redneck Barbie

Like many parents, I am often guilty of being dismissive of my children when they want my attention. I don't mean to be neglectful, it is just that I am often in the middle of something when they approach me, and sometimes I think that I have given things the proper attention when often I have not.

Sometimes they come to me and say, "Mom, do you like this picture I just drew?" and I say, "It's beautiful!" when I really only spent a few seconds looking at it.

Sometimes they say, "Mom, is this outfit okay?" and I reply, "Yes, it is just fine." And then I often regret giving my approval once they are loaded in the car and I notice that the socks don't match and the shirt is too small. But then I think it is good for them to learn independence, and often independence=mismatched socks.

But the other day I had a reminder that I should try to tune in a little bit more.

I was at the dance studio to pick up Ava and Kiara, the twin daughters of our dear friends Brent and Katie. I was going to be chauffeuring all four girls to a rehearsal for the American Girl Fashion Show that they are going to be in to raise money for Seattle Children's Hospital.

Kiara had a bunch of papers in her hand that she said were pictures of Barbies and Fairies.

"Do you want to see them?" she asked me. I glanced at them for one second.

"How nice, Sweetheart!" I said. "Why don't you go get loaded in the car?"

I went in to give my final wave to Brent and Katie, and a few of the dancers were snickering and said to me, "Heather, did you look at the pictures that the girls have?"

"I saw them . . . "

"You need to go and LOOK at them," they said.

And so I went out to the car and asked Kiara if I could please see her pictures one more time.

And I found the picture that the girls must have been snickering about.

"Hmm. Sweetie, I'm going to take this one." And I went back into the studio with a crooked little smile and asked Brent to look at it.

"Yeah," he said, not wanting to pause, "I know they had some pictures that Aidan printed out for them . . . " (Aidan is our Studio Boy Genius. He is six and often helps us with our electronic issues; he is really good at satellite uplinks.)

"Brent, you need to LOOK at it," I said.

And so he did. And as it came into focus, this is what he saw:

"Wait . . . is that a cigarette? . . . . and she's pregnant? . . . . . is that beer?" Poor Brent was nearly hyperventalating.

It would seem that Barbie isn't always the role model that we would expect her to be . . .

When looking for it later, I discovered that this particular photo is actually called "Redneck Barbie" and our dear sweet Aidan must have found it in Google Images when he searched for Barbie.

Luckily, our kids are still so innocent that they didn't really notice that things weren't quite right. Except for Cora, who did note the cigarette when I confiscated the photo. But she didn't notice the black eye, or understand the implications of the three children who each look very different from the others.

(I also like how Barbie has Mac and Cheese in her basket, mixed in with cigarettes and a bottle of what is either whiskey or salad dressing. This is making me think twice about all the Mac and Cheese I feed my kids . . . what kind of mother am I?)

Brent promptly threw the picture away. And he didn't get it for me later when I texted him and told him I needed it for my blog. I think he was pretty shaken up and wanted to forget all about Redneck Barbie. I am sensitive to that. Not really.

So, another lesson learned: It is always a good idea to pay attention when your kids, and their friends, want to show you stuff. Especially while they are still interested in showing you things. And especially if it has anything to do with Barbie. She can't be trusted.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Va Va Voom

I have just returned from my first trip to the lovely State of Arizona. I went to visit my sister, and she was kind enough to take me on a very nice day trip to Sedona.

Sedona was beautiful--a Warner Brother's road runner cartoon come to life. I loved the tumbleweeds and the red plateaus and the rust colored dirt. We had lunch at the Barking Frog, where I inhaled a mountain of guacamole, and then we were off to our first vortex.

I'd never been to a vortex before. Luckily we picked up a flyer at the local information center that filled me in on what they are all about: "Vortexes are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth . . . the subtle energy resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter mile to a half mile of it."

I love this kind of thing. Vortexes. Inner Being. Yoga. Feng Shui. Hot Stone Massages. Raking Sand. I love all of it. I was very excited to experience the vortex energy for myself.

Our first vortex was "Airport Vortex" and, according to the flyer, it strengthens your Masculine Side and gives you strength.

The vortex was basically a huge rock, and the wind interacted with the rock in a way that made it swirl. You can tell where the energy is strongest because there are Juniper trees whose trunks have been all twisted from years of responding to the wind. We climbed to the top and sat in the lotus pose to drink it all in. The view was breathtaking. The energy is hard to explain, except to say that you felt a lot of wind, but the wind didn't blow past you and leave you behind, but it swirled around you and enveloped you. It made you feel as though you had plenty of oxygen and you could breathe deeper than you ever had.

After sitting there for 20 minutes, our masculine sides were definitely stonger, and so we left to do a little shopping.

We went into a little shopping area called Tlaquepaque and wandered into an art gallery called the Navarro Gallery. And who should be hanging out sculpting a clay bison but Chris Navarro himself. The gallery wasn't very big, so it was basically me, my sister, and Mr. Navarro in his cowboy hat. We admired his work for a bit, but I felt rude leaving without complimenting him. I told him I thought that he was a wonderful artist, and before we knew it we were all flipping through his coffee table book together and he was telling us about the life-sized bronze Columbia Mammoth he was working on for someplace in Wyoming. He told us how he got started and the stories behind several of his pieces. I really could have talked to him for much longer because he was very interesting, but we had more vortexes to visit.

I must say, after a masculine vortex and a fun and unexpected interaction with a bull-riding, cowboy artist, the masculine energy was practically beaming out of me.

Which probably explains what happened with the breasts . . .

After a few gift shops, we ended up at another, larger art gallery. This gallery was packed with fabulous paintings and sculptures and I found myself wishing I had a lot of money so that I could adopt several of the pieces and take them home with me. Many of the sculptures celebrated the human form--dancers, mothers holding their babies, couples fused in an embrace--and all sorts of wonderful shapes created from stone and metal and clay.

And there, sitting on a pedastal, was a piece entitled "Va Va Voom." The sculpture was the shape of two ample breasts, formed from polished stone, forever manifesting their simplicity and glory.

I can only imagine what the artist thought to himself (for he was surely a man) when he was creating them: "The stone is telling me what it wants to be; I have no control; this is the shape that the stone wants to take . . . "

And standing there, filled to the brim with masculine energy, I couldn't resist either . . .

"You know," I said, "This piece, it just makes you want to . . . "

"Stop that!!" my sister hissed as she looked around the store to see if anyone was watching.

"What?" I said, my two cupped hands hovering over the sculpture, "I'm just responding to the art."

I didn't actually touch it, because galleries are for looking and not touching. Ah yes, I thought to myself, this must be how men feel.

When I was finished embarassing my sister, we moved on. We looked at more art and then headed to Bell Mountain--a very powerful vortex that strengthens all three parts: the masculine side, the feminine side, and the balance. (Thank heavens for that very enlightening flyer.)

We climbed up to a ledge where we had a lovely view of the valley, and we watched the sun set as the energy swirled around us and through us. It is probably a good thing that I reinforced my feminine side on Bell Mountain before I ended up doing something crazy like going home and watching sports.

Instead, we bought fancy glitter cupcakes and ate them while we watched a Jane Austen movie.

As you can tell, I had a great time in Arizona. Thanks to my sister for being a great hostess. I'll be back again. And next time I intend to chase down a road runner.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lessons Learned

I was sitting at church today waiting for things to begin when I saw a group of children pass by our classroom. As they passed I noticed that one of them had her dress tucked into her panties, and that from the back her white underwear and some peek-a-boo cheek-a-boo were exposed for the entire Relief Society to see.

And then I realized that the little girl was my 5-year-old daughter, Sydney.

I might be weird, but when I was a teenager I had this perception of what my life would be like when I was a grown up--and a lot of the footage that played in my imagination was shot at church and involved my children sitting pressed and polished in the pews.

None of the movies that played in my head had my daughter wandering through church with her backside exposed. And yet there she was, preaching her own little sermon.

Luckily, those panties were as clean and white as Sunday itself.

I discovered in that moment that I prefer real life in all of its honesty to whatever plastic perceptions I had embraced when I was too young to know any better.

Thanks to Sydney for giving an excellent lesson at church today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gotta Love the Olympics

I've been enjoying watching the Olympics with my girls. Both Cora and Sydney have announced that when they grown up they want to get a gold medal at the Olympics. They say it with the same matter-of-factness that they use when they tell me other things that they want to do when they grow up: drive a convertible, wear high heels, have 10 kids, get a cell phone, wear make up, be a teacher, and live next door to mom and dad.

They are having a hard time narrowing down their sport. It is quite a conundrum. They like the downhill skiing because it "looks like you are flying." But seeing the nasty spills some of those women took last night kind of soured them on that idea.

The liked the fast track skaters and they feel a connection to Apollo Ohno because he's from Federal Way and he's also a ballroom dancer, but they haven't settled on fast track because they are keeping their options open.

As you can imagine, they love the figure skating, and we've mostly been watching the couples. Sydney even went so far as to request skating lessons. But couples figure skating does present the problem of needing a partner, and they just can't think of any neighborhood boys that could toss them around while also staying upright on figure skates.

Sigh. It is such a dilemma choosing which sport to get your gold medal in.

If I were 7 again I think I would want to be Shaun White. Who am I kidding? I'm thiry-something and I want to be Shaun White.

Last night was the first night I have ever seen him in action, although I've seen him in various commercials and remembered his hair. I don't know much about him but I get the feeling from his overall bad boy demeanor that he's probably been a bit naughty. I honestly don't know if this is true or not; I'm just guessing. You can all fill me in later. But naughty or nice, I find myself wanting to be him.

First of all, watching him gear up for his run he seemed unlike any of the other athletes. There was no stress on his face or in his body. Nor was there the forced stillness of the athletes who are trying a little too hard to show how calm they are. Most of the athletes have this kind of fierce and hungry look in their eyes and you can see that they are clutching desperately to their dream, choking it almost. I watched several athletes turn this desperation into a medal and it was awesome--I was desperate with them. It was good TV.

But Shaun White was different. He was going to have his run and if the Olympics and their gold medals wanted to float after him like little golden butterflies then perhaps he would hold still long enough for them to land on his shoulder. If not, then it was their loss. He seemed like a college student on a ski vacation.

And yet, in seeming contrast to his casualness, but also born out of it, was this wonderful explosiveness. He was up in the air and turning and then sliding and bursting up again, and even though I know nothing about this sport, I desperately wanted whatever it was he was selling. I wanted to feel what he was feeling, down to the wind in my long wavy red hair . . .

Alas, this dream alludes me for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I have never even touched a snowboard, and I don't have wavy red hair.

But I'll let you know when Cora and Sydney settle on their sports. We're not even sure if they are Winter or Summer Olympics girls yet. So many options, you know. Maybe they will be halfpipe girls and someday it will be the Olympic wind blowing through their long hair . . .

In any case, I just hope they keep dreaming.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dear Valentine,

I know that you are still a little sore about how I threw you under the bus last week when I blamed my near-arrest on you. I'm somewhat sorry about that. I know it must be hard to be married to a woman like me.

Tonight at the Marriage Fireside we went to, Brother Crabtree pointed out that marriage is a lot like a puppy. Puppies have cute, sweet faces with adorable drooping eyes and furry ears and soft wet noses. Everyone falls in love with the front end of a puppy--but, as he reminded us, don't forget that puppies have back ends too. (BTW--I love it when people talk about the back ends of puppies over the pulpit. Or the back end of anything for that matter. My other favorite line from a youth talk at church today: "We're talking MURDER, People! Like stab, stab! Kill, kill!" Gotta love church. But I digress. . . . back to the puppies.)

You and I have never forgotten that puppies have back ends, which is why we don't have one. And should we ever get close to forgetting, we can think back to what your brother's puppy did to your parent's deck that one time. I can still remember little Muppet running around with her post-surgery neck cone all smeared in poop--and how sad she was when everyone screamed when she tried to jump on their laps.

And so my point is . . . . I forgot.

Oh yes, my point is, that I am grateful that I have a man who loves the whole puppy, which is, metaphorically speaking, me!

So, in honor of Valentine's Day, even though I did go all out already by giving you that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Heart, here is a little list of the things that I am grateful that you put up with:

First, I am grateful that you love me even when I use up all of the hot water in the morning.

Second, I am grateful that you love me even though I don't park my car as close to the right side of the garage as you would like me to, even if we did just talk about it this morning.

Third, I am grateful that you love me even though I hog up the entire bathroom counter with my cosmetics.

Fourth, I am grateful that you love me when I eat garlic. Even if you won't kiss me.

Fifth, I am grateful that you love me even though my ballroom shoes are really, really stinky. (Even though you do complain loudly about it so that all of our students can hear.)

And finally, I am grateful that you love me even when I insist on watching What Not to Wear instead of sports. (You know you love Stacy and Clinton's one-liners just as much as I do).

I am really lucky to have a man like you. And to show my appreciation I will happily let you drive in front from now on and I promise not to race any more cops that I think are you.

With all my Heart,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

And the race is on . . .

I want to start by saying that I am normally a very careful, attentive, speed-conscious driver. Although, after I tell this story, I am certain that no one is going to believe me.

I also want to say that everything that happened is Matt's fault.

The problem is that when Matt gets in a car, all of a sudden he becomes an alpha male. When we are going somewhere together he ALWAYS has to drive, which works because I prefer to be chauffeured. When we drive separately, his car always has to be in front of mine. Even if I start out ahead, he always has to zoom up and maneuver his way in front of my car. Another thing he likes to do if we are going to the same location at the same time (for example from the dance studio to our home) is to take an alternative route and drive really fast so that he can get home a few minutes before me, thus asserting his superiority.

I usually just roll my eyes at the whole thing, but then the girls have caught on to his antics and started egging me on: "Go Mommy! Beat Daddy!" Pretty soon they figured out that even if I tried a little, Daddy would always up the ante and he would win, which was always highly disappointing to them. Now when they get in the car with me they roll down their window and yell, "Daddy, it's not a race!" But if they are riding with him, it is a race. So basically I'm the driving loser.

On Friday night we were driving home from Grandma and Grandpa Longhurst's house. We had met there on our way to a dance performance. Cora and Sydney were riding with Matt, and Maryn was riding with me. I managed to pull out first, also unusual because normally if I start pulling out first, Matt will cut me off. He tried to make up for it by going a different way out than I did, but I still beat him. I stayed in front of him until we got onto the freeway. And for some reason, I decided that I was not going to let him win. I would prove to Matt that he wins because I let him, not because I can't.

I knew that at some point he would make his move. But I decided that I would drive strategically, and pace other slow cars so that he wouldn't be able to get around me. This worked for several miles. I knew what he was going to attempt to do. He was going to wait and stay behind me until right before the exit, and then he would try to bust around me, cut me off, and beat me home. Classic Matt.

But I was ready.

And sure enough, right before the exit, I saw the headlights closing in on me. He was coming up on my left side. I thought to myself, "Oh no you don't, buddy. Not this time." I accelerated. I imagined the girls in the other car yelling "Go Daddy Go! Go Daddy Go!" But Mommy was going to win this time. Mommy was all in.

Matt was being stubborn. Those headlights kept coming. I accelerated more, determined to stay in front. We kept up this way for a bit, drag racing down HWY 18, but I managed to keep my edge. Finally I looked down and noticed that I was going more than 90 miles an hour. I NEVER drive 90 miles an hour, especially with my kids in the car. I wasn't willing to put my children's life at risk to win, and I was mad that he was. So I hit the breaks and got ready to give him the look of death as he passed with his cheeky grin.

But as the front end of the car came up to where I could see it in my rear view mirror, I didn't see the 4 Audi circles I was expecting. Instead I saw a push bumper and realized, to my horror, that it was a cop.

And that was when my heart dropped into my stomach and I knew I was in sooooo much trouble.

The cop continued coming up on my left side, flashed his lights for a bit, looked over at me and raised his arms like, "What are you thinking, lady?"

I am not quite sure what was registering on my face at the time. But if there is one expression for shock, horror, disbelief, guilt, and please-please-please-don't-give-me-a-ticket-I-promise-I-will-never-do-this-again, that was probably the expression that was on my face.

I slowed way down and waited to see what he would do. If he was going to pull me over, he would need to get behind me. But he didn't, he just continued zooming down the highway. Thankfully, he had bigger fish to fry.

I got off at my exit and stopped at the stop sign at the end of the ramp. That was when Matt came up on my left side, rolled down his window, and started yelling his lecture. "Are you serious!!? Did you not see him? Did you not see the other one? What were you . . . . "

I didn't stick around to hear the rest of it, because there was only one thing on my mind at the time--I could still win.

So I just sneered at Matt and screeched away.

It was very satisfying to be the first one pulling into the garage. I knew that Matt was going to pretend to be all mad about the cop, when really he was just mad that I beat him.

Sure enough he came in with his eyebrows raised, walking all slow and authoritatively with his arms folded. Classic Matt.

Cora and Sydney came following behind to see what was going to happen. I pretended to be busy folding clothes.

"What was that?" he asked.

"What was what?"

"Were you really that oblivious that you didn't see the cop?"

"I was listening to a story on NPR."

"You flew by another one before that as well. Did you not see that one?"


"Girls, what do you think about what Mommy did? Is she setting a good example?"

Cora: "What did Mommy do?"

Matt: "Why don't you let Mommy tell you what she did?" And he waited for me to tell them how I broke the law and it was so wrong and I was very bad and I got in trouble with the police officer and they should never, never, do what I did.

Me: "Well girls . . . . MOMMY WON! Wooo hoooooooo!" And I threw my arms up in the air and started dancing around the bedroom. Then Cora and Sydney got all excited and started jumping up and down with me. "Mommy won! Mommy won! Mommy won!"

Matt (still trying to be all serious): "Girls, what did you think when the police officer flashed his lights at Mommy?"

Cora: "I don't really remember that."

Me and Sydney in the background: "Mommy won! Mommy won!"

Finally, Matt couldn't help but smile at me. It helped that I hadn't been slammed with a big fat ticket.

"I can't believe you raced a cop. You know that's what you were doing don't you? You were RACING a cop."

"Oh yeah. I know."

"I guess you know what you're blogging about this week."


And he smiled, shook his head, and went into the other room.

I will still let Matt win most of the time. But now it will be different. I don't think he will again underestimate the capabilities of a determined and stubborn woman.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who's There?

My kids have taken to telling knock knock jokes. The funny part is, the jokes they tell are not at all funny. Our entire dinner conversation tonight revolved around knock knock jokes. The kids would tell a "joke," and because they had initiated it with "Knock Knock" we were supposed to laugh. And we did laugh. But not because the jokes were funny, but because they were so un-funny. When we chuckled at how bad the joke was, the girls would laugh and laugh, revelling in their comedic abilities.

Sydney: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Sydney: Boo

Me: Boo Who?

Sydney: Boo in your mashed potatoes! (laughs hysterically)

Cora: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Cora: Boo

Me: Boo Who?

Cora: Boo on you! Get it? Get it?

Me: No.

Maryn: Knock Knock

Me: Who's there?

Maryn: Joke! (huge smile and belly laughs)

I don't know how much longer this is going to go on, but if these jokes don't improve pretty soon, I might have to start teaching my kids dirty jokes so that I actually have something to laugh at. Except that I don't know any dirty jokes. Plus, it's too risky. You never know when kids are going to repeat things that you tell them and I don't want to end up in the principal's office. They might rope me in to joining the PTA as penance.

So please, when I'm not looking, teach my kids some good knock knock jokes to tell at dinner.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Good Life, The Hippie Life

I've just returned from a weekend on Orcas Island. I always like going to Orcas Island and hanging out with the hippies. I'm not entirely sure why it is that hippies are attracted to islands in the Puget Sound, but they seem to grow there like weed (no pun intended).

Sometimes I think I'd like to be a hippie. I could wear drapey cotton clothing and grow lavender in little pots by my doorstep. I could hang crystals in my window sill and do yoga in the morning and drink herbal tea in the afternoon and recycle things in the evening. Hippies are never in a hurry. They drive around lackadaisically in their little VW bugs that are custom painted like happy rainbows. I like not being in a hurry. In my normal life it seems like I'm always in a hurry.

When I am on the Island I like sitting and listening to the waves go in and out. I like the smell of the woods and the sound of the seagulls. Although annoying when one is hungry and fresh off of the ferry, I like it that everything shuts down before 8 pm and everyone goes home and sleeps. Then you have no choice but to go home and sleep too. Sleep is nice.

The only problem is that you can't really make any money being a hippie. Although, maybe I could start a hippie blog and blog about my life as a hippie, and then you would all read it and be jealous. Although I would have to get people to advertise on my hippie blog--maybe the lady who makes those yarn socks that they were selling in the bookstore for $20 a pair would be interested. Or the people who make those wind spinners.

I'm not sure Matt and the girls would like being my hippie family, so I don't think we'll be moving anytime soon. But sometimes, when life moves too fast, I think I'd really like to be a hippie.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maryn's New Throne

Things have changed a lot since I was a girl. Sometimes I forget what life was like before e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, the Internet in general, and all of the other things that have become integral parts of our lives. Most of these now-essential items were developed after I graduated from high school and went off into the world (if BYU counts as the world) to become an adult. I still remember the first time I ever logged on to the Internet--it was at the library at college. I got my first cell phone at age 27 (so all of you 13-year-olds that constantly whine to me that your parents are so mean because you don't have your own phone--I would advise seeking sympathy elsewhere). Yes, the world has changed a lot since I was 17.

The world continues to change. I was reminded of this the other day when I went potty shopping.

We have decided that Maryn is ready to be trained. She had her 2nd birthday this week and so we thought it would be a good time to kick off the toilet training. I've been changing diapers for over 7 years now, and I'm ready to move on to the next phase in life. The non-diaper phase. When we moved last year I got rid of the potty that we had used to train the older girls. It was never a great potty and sometimes would pinch their legs when they sat down. Plus I didn't want to store it and have it get all dusty and gross in the garage. I had paid $10 for it and I figured we'd gotten that much value out of it and Maryn could have a fresh one.

So on Wednesday I went off to find a fresh potty for her for her birthday. Yes, I did give my child a potty for her birthday, and she loved it by the way. Lest you think I'm very cruel we did give her other gifts as well--but several of them did follow a certain theme. For example, I got her a Baby Alive that pees and poops.

When I arrived at the potty section of the store, I realized right away that these weren't the potties of my mother's day. Or even the potties of 5 years ago. No--these potties were tricked out. These were potties that catered to the new cell phone toting, twittering, tech saavy mothers who would not be satisfied with a simple hole and a bowl.

For boys there was a potty shaped like a soccer ball that could sense when to "reward" your child with the sound of stadium cheers. There were several different kinds of cheers that alternated. Some potties had built-in toilet paper dispensers and handles so they could practice flushing. Of course there were options so that you could choose between hard seats and soft seats.

Since this was going to be a birthday gift, I got Maryn the potty I knew she would love the most--the Princess Potty. It is pink and shaped like a throne. There is a lid that can be folded down so that it can be used as a step stool for hand washing. When the lid is up you can see the design of a crown topped off with three purple jewels. The best part is that there are two little sensors in the bottom of the bowl that sense when she has been successful and serenade her with various trumpet heralds--Da Da Daaaaaaaaah!

So far, all of the advancement in technology has not translated into more potty success. She does love sitting on her throne, but she has figured out how to reach down under the potty and push the button and be rewared with music without actually having to make a deposit. Tonight, after sitting on it for a good 15 minutes and pushing the button at least 20 times, she proceeded to get up and pee on the carpet in the hall just outside the bathroom door.

It would seem that technology can't improve everything. Bling or no bling, trumpets or no trumpets, it would seem that potty training is one of those things that just needs some good old-fashioned time and patience.

Heaven help me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ode to Chocolate (with some help from Napolean Bonaparte)

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Chocolate, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving me; I shall see you in three weeks (or when my diet is over). Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.


PS (Don't get jealous, Matt.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Attention IKEA Shoppers--Nervous Breakdown on Aisle 53 Bin 30

I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. I love what they are trying to do with the affordable, functional, well-designed products for every day. I mean, who doesn't love a great plastic watering can in lime green for $3? And the endless array of chiotchkies for less than $5, and walls and walls of vases and picture frames and don't even get me started on home organization. Love it. I have spent a fair amount of money at IKEA over the years, and would probably spend more if it weren't that the shopping experience inevitably degenerates into complete and utter misery.

I have to gear up mentally and physically before attempting to summit IKEA. I must make sure that I never attempt to go to IKEA on a day when I have any other appointments. Once you go in that place, you never know when you are getting out, or what your mental state will be if you do actually get out. If you go into IKEA, you must be willing to surrender to the maze--a part of you must WANT to be seduced by it all. If you are not willing to play the game then you should forget about IKEA and just take your chances at Target.

And one should never, under any circumstances, take their children into IKEA.

I forgot that part.

I decided yesterday that it was an IKEA day. I was in good spirits. I didn't have anything else going on but a party later that night. The kids were well rested and I thought it would be a fun outing. I have been meaning for months to go and get some shelves and some frames so that I could update our family picture wall. I decided that I was emotionally strong enough to handle IKEA, and I was even dillusional enough to think I could do it with children.

We parked in the netherreaches of the parking garage and started our journey. We passed a bunch of carts, and hidden amongst them, barely visible, was one of the tiny kid carts that they have with the little flags that are oh-so desirable to the under-8 crowd. Like eagles on a mouse, my girls spotted that cart and swooped down upon it. I put Maryn in the seat on one of the normal-sized carts and we started in. Negotiations as to who would get to push the little cart were already well underway.

"Sydney, you can push it now and I'll push it when we get into the store." Sydney was pretty much running away with the cart and pretending not to hear--she was going to keep her hands locked on that baby for as long as possible. I sighed.

We got in and off we went. We did pretty well for the first 1/3 of the store--breezing through Living Room, Dining Room, Office, and Kitchen. We even made it through the kid section pretty quickly with no major trauma. Cora and Sydney were sharing well, Maryn was interested in all of the colors, and everyone was happy.

Then we got into the part of the store with the shelves where I had to actually stop and look at the merchandise. I couldn't find what I was looking for. I circled. And circled some more. I stopped and looked. Maryn stood up in the cart. I made her sit down. She screamed. I kept looking. Maryn stood up again. I made her sit down. She screamed. Still not finding what I needed. Maryn stood up in the cart. Aghhhh!

"Girls, I'm going to get her down and why don't you let her push the little cart around for a minute while I try to find the shelves I need?"

Bad idea Mom. Very bad idea.

You see, once Maryn's hands made contact with the smooth plastic bar of that mini-shopping cart, she became fused to the shopping cart. Additionally, she became a complete maniac. She ran all over pushing that cart, ramming it into things and people with gleeful abandon.

Frustrated and still not finding what I was looking for, I decided to at least get the picture frames and get out.

"Let's go girls." And that was when Maryn screeched up beside me with her mini-shopping cart, looked up at me with her watery red eyes and yelled, "POOOOOOOOP!"

Crap. (I know, literally.) And I had left all the diaper supplies in the car. Oh well, I thought, she could suffer for 20 minutes until we had finished.

"Okay, let's go."

"POOOOOOP!" She screamed again, and again, and again. Then she began walking with her legs all wide and spread like a cowboy with sweat-encrusted gauchos. Maybe no one will notice?

We made it to the frames. I found just what I was looking for. And they even had the photo shelves that I couldn't find in the other section! Things were looking up. But not in the right color, and they were 6 feet long. No matter. There were mirrors in this section and Maniac Maryn was still on the lose with her mini-cart and it was only a matter of time before she broke something or people started to notice the stench. No, this was no time for hesitation. Frames in cart. Really long shelves in cart, and awkwardly extending out of the cart. I can do this.

"Mom! I have to go to the bathroom!" Cora announced.

"No problem, there is one right here." Look at me all in control of the situation. I quietly congratulated myself as I wheeled my suddenly cumbersome cart over to the bathroom area. I sent the older girls in while Maryn and I waited outside the door. Then I noticed that at the opposite side was a door that led us out into the labyrinth of aisles and bins just before Check Out. Awesome! I was so good. We could skip Garden and Bed and Bath and several other sections and get out! It was almost like I was cheating!

"Maryn. Come back."


"Maryn. Stay out here."


"Maryn . . . " And there she went. She had followed her sisters into the bathroom. Oh well, she would just follow them out and we would be on our way.

Tick tock.

Cora's eyeball appeared through a sliver in the bathroom door. And then her whole head poked out. "Ummm. There's a problem."

Oh please no. "What Cora?"

"Well . . . "

"Do not tell me that the diaper came off."

"It's off. And . . . . she's poopy."


I was in the bathroom in a flash. Perhaps I could figure out a way to salvage the situation. Perhaps she had little pellet poops that could be easily flushed away and the diaper reattached and we could go . . . . nope, not pellet poop. Ohh and, no! It's smeared on her clothes. Okay. Breathe. Diaper has to go. Clean as best we can with toilet paper, and, dab dab, a bit of toilet water. Pull up pants. Almost two-year-old without diaper. Time bomb.

I hear a young child in another stall. This is good . . . they are speaking Spanish but no matter--I could probably do charades: "My daughter has just crapped all over and do you have a spare diaper?" I give it a try. I don't know if she understood or not but that lady left pretty fast.

Okay. What are my options? There was no way I was going to get out of the store and all the way to Auburn without disaster. And then I noticed on the wall above the changing station a sign with all of the ways IKEA was praising themselves for being family friendly. I zeroed in on the only two words that mattered: Diapers available.

"Let's go." Maryn latched on to her cart again, with a vengence. This time she didn't want to follow us. So we tried to hold her hand.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Epic tantrum. It's like she knew she had the ultimate trump card--she could pee at any minute. We were all at her mercy.

"Fine!" I hissed. "You push the cart. Cora and Sydney, make sure she follows me." I figured my best chance to find a diaper was to head towards the play area with all balls and the toys. But that meant going backwards--against the flow of traffic--and back into the store that I thought I had almost conquered. The IKEA gods were punishing me for trying to skip Garden.

It was torturous trying to wrangle my cart and keep track of my children--Cora and Sydney were desperately trying to help me, but Maryn kept darting in and out of the aisles, running her cart wherever she pleased, weaving in and out of people and every now and again casting me a wicked glance as if to say, "I own you, Woman."

You might think that I would just abandon my cart and the whole thing and march her out of there. But I hadn't come this far for nothing. Oh no. I was buying those shelves. But I wasn't going to make it all the way back to the play area. I zeroed in on a store employee. Male. Early-twenties. Asian. Definitely single. Maybe gay. It's his lucky day.

I accosted him. His tag said, "I'm here to help you." Well, we'll put that to the test, won't we?


He was afraid. I think my hair had started to frizz, and my eye was probably twitching.

"Hi . . ?"

I tried to explain. "Okay. . . . I have a problem . . . . it's my children . . . . here's what it is . . . you know . . . . (breathe in and out) . . . I really just need a diaper."

To his credit, this guy was really helpful. He knew right where to go for the diapers and asked me to follow him. Then, when he saw what was happening with Maryn the Maniac, he offered to just go and fetch the diaper and bring it back to me. He left us in Lighting. I would have preferred to have been left in Textiles where things are soft and unbreakable, but I decided to count my blessings. While he was gone, Cora, Sydney and I worked hard to prevent Maryn from breaking or peeing on things and she continued to show us who was boss.

He brought back a handy little diaper packet that included two little moist towelettes, a disposal bag, and a changing towel (very impressive IKEA), that I put to good use after trudging back to the bathroom near the secret exit. Once Maryn was all set, I scoffed at the IKEA gods by skipping Garden, and they punished me again by causing my check out line to take forever and ever so Maryn had plenty of time to show off the poop smear on the back of her shirt as well as her tantrum abilities.

We finally made it out, with the frames and the shelves, and I have vowed to never shop at IKEA again.

(At least not with children.)