Thursday, March 31, 2011

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Clementine and the Man She Likes to Take to Bed: Sir Topham Hatt

This post has nothing to do with Nirvana.  This post has to do with Clementine's breath, which does, in fact, smell like Teen Spirit.  Because, earlier, she ate some of my deodorant.

So I learned two things, today: first, according to Judith at Poison Control, the Center rarely recommends vomiting as treatment, these days.  Which is good, because I tried unsuccessfully to get Clementine to vomit three times before calling the Poison Control Center.  Of course she wouldn't vomit, because whatever I want (or think I want) Clementine to do, she doesn't.  Whatever I don't want Clementine to do, she does.  She was the wiser of the two of us, today, but--I promise--this is not generally the case.

When I was a little girl, I had a reoccuring dream that I was driving a car, and everytime I turned the steering wheel right, the car turned left.  Everytime I turned the steering wheel left, the car turned right.  I understand, now, that--in some small way--God was preparing me for life with Clementine.

But anyway.  Judith looked Teen Spirit up in her database and asked me if it were the antiperspirant.  "I'm not sure," I told her.  "It doesn't have a label on it, anymore.  But I know it's Teen Spirit.  It's the white one with the pink cap."

"I don't have pictures in my database," Judith said, snidely.  But, minutes later, she assured me that all Teen Spirit is relatively safe to eat.  She recommended I give Clementine about 4 oz of water and keep an eye on her.

"Do you think it's ok for me to put her down for a nap?" I asked, with some measure of desperation.  (At that point, I was pretty much over Clementine.)

"Sure," Judith answered.  "Just go in and check on her.  She should be fine."

Jokingly, I said, "I figured.  She's too mean for anything too terrible to happen to her."

Judith didn't laugh.  She asked for Clementine's and my first names and our zipcode.  I wondered if she were planning to send Child Protective Services over, but no one came.  Thank goodness, because CPS (or anyone else, for that matter) is unlikely to believe my very true account of how Clementine came to have a ring of thirty flea bites around her left ankle.

If this weren't my story, and I were reading it, I would wonder: why does almost-thirty-seven-year-old Brandee Shafer wear Teen Spirit, anyway?  And I don't have a good explanation other than it's the deodorant I've always worn.  I like the way it smells (like roses, even on Clementine's breath) and--since it continues to work just fine--I don't feel too mature for it.  As of today, I'm happier than ever with my deodorant choice: it's not particularly poisonous, after all, and doesn't its name make for an excellent blog-post title?

Before I forget, I need to tell you the second thing I learned today.  A tuffet (as in, Little Miss Muffet sat on one) is a small stool.  Did you know?  After all these years, I had no idea until Elmo taught me, today.  Thanks, Elmo!

(And thank You, God, for keeping the Wild Orange safe one more time.)

Book Review: Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale

I experienced Karen Henry Clark's Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale for the first time this morning, through children's story time at my local library. I fell head-over-heels in love with it.

With love, the baby's birth parents send her off like Baby Moses, in a basket. Various animals (turtle, peacock, etc.) carry the baby along, passing her from one to the other, which I love (reminds me of those who have helped me carry me through different points of my life).

The baby sleeps peacefully throughout her journey. Meanwhile, her adoptive parents wait for her and make loving preparations. She awakens to find her new family a perfect fit.

My favorite thing about this book is the author's gorgeous perspective on the release of the birth parents, also the time of waiting for adopted children and adoptive parents. I appreciate the way the characters live out the time before the child makes her way to her new family and how that time proves to have been well spent: how, in the end, the child arrives at the perfect time.

Beautiful, beautiful book. I recommend it for all adoptive and would-be adoptive parents, all adopted children, and oh! all siblings or would-be siblings of adopted children. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Loving Charleigh

Today, Charleigh, you turn seven months old.  You outgrew your monkey suit last week.  One day, it zipped easily; the next, it didn't.  I had to rummage through a bin, upstairs, for your sister's raggy, pink bear suit.  I glanced at it, this evening, hanging on a peg by the door, and it looked so long to me.  How have you grown, already, long enough for the bear suit?

You sit, babbling, on my lap even as I type this: "Doy doy da duh ya."  You play with a blue and orange, NUK pacifier: stick it in your mouth, pull it out, pass it from hand to hand, whack my glasses with it.  You drop it, grunt, squeal, whine, arch your back. 

The top of your white and pink, butterfly sleeper is damp from drool.  It's been just over a week since your first tooth (your bottom middle-right) broke through your gums. 

You smell divine.  You grab my face, smile as I kiss your mouth.  I don't want to forget how you look just this instant: still red eyebrows and (very little) red hair, still blue eyes.  Monday, at the park, both a lady we didn't know and the man who walks Jack mentioned your blue eyes, but I see patches of brown in them now; the days of blue are numbered.

I have spoiled you.  I hold you more often than not: choose nursing over feeding from a jar.  Your doctor said a month ago: "Work toward baby food twice a day."  But some days I don't offer baby food at all.  I delay.  You're healthy and thick from my milk, and time passes too quickly. 

You love outside.  You love Daddy, Cade, and Clementine, but--for now--you love me best.  "Mama," you call, when I pass from your sight.  It's the milk.  I delay. 

I nurse while typing; you fall asleep, your head in the crook of my left arm.

I stretch the days best I can, but you outgrow monkey suit; pinch, grasp, and play; babble; teethe; change eye color; call after me.  Too fast.  Too, too fast!

I just want you to have these words, Charleigh, when you're the mama and I'm the nana. 

I want you to read and know: I fought to stretch the days...let the counters grow cluttered and the floor go unmopped...kissed you full on the lips...slept with you tucked in beside...nursed you all day and night so as to delay with the food.  Enjoyed you, loved you.  Wrote you so as to never, for even one second, lose you.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Poop and Such

Lovely day, not that I've been outside except to talk, briefly, to the man from Anytime Pumping.  

Baby Charleigh kept me up until 1:30 AM or so.  I got up at 7:00 to hug Cade and pack his lunch, but then I went back to bed until 10:19, at which time Clementine started singing good-morning songs from her bedroom next door. 

One of my very favorite things about Clementine is that, lately, she almost always wakes up singing. 

Another of my very favorite things about Clementine is that she sings to the music she hears in the hum of engines and motors.  This means extra reward in my getting the dishwasher going; Clementine stands next to it and sings, quietly, her (yet jumbled) ABC's and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  On really good days, she throws some "Jesus Loves Me" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" up in there. 

Speaking of which, Clementine still thinks Dorothy sings "Rainbow Pie," rather than "Rainbow, way up high."  This morning I offered Clementine an oatmeal pie (not the healthiest breakfast, I know), and she pulled it apart, licked it, and gushed, "Rainbow pie scrumptious, Mommy!"  So there you go.  Dorothy Gale loves oatmeal pies so much that she sings about them with great passion: who knew?!  But I get it, because I still remember the Oak Ridge Boys singing "Elvira" through the car radio and my singing, "EL FIRE UP!" along, at the very top of my lungs.

Anyway.  The man from Anytime Pumping was supposed to arrive at noon but didn't show up until some time later.  So you might say I spent part of my day sitting around waiting for someone to deal with my family's crap.

Which makes me laugh. 

Would that it were always so easy (and relatively cheap) to get rid of crap.  Would that the Anytime Pumping guy--with his bright, yellow shirt and kind eyes--could rid my family of crap on more figurative levels. 

Not that we've been drowning in figurative crap.  Or literal crap, for that matter.

In fact, the Anytime Pumping people could hardly believe we were experiencing no issues: that we had called them in an effort to be proactive.  Jim said that's because they don't live in this house: a house in which pretty much everything else has broken. 

There does reach a point at which homeowners look at one another and say: "You know, we'd better call someone to pump our septic tank because we seem to have terrible luck, and we really don't want to wake up one morning to find a bunch of poop in our yard."  Truly, that point can be reached.

Maybe we were afraid that Clementine's poop would take it over the top.  In a literal sense.

Here's to the very good possibility that, soon and very soon, there will be four people pooping in our potty.  Clementine's not quite there, but--as these pictures prove--she loves her new underbritches.  (Yes, she is sitting and standing on my dining room table.  These things happen, sometimes, while I'm talking on the phone.)  Even now, she is taking a nap wearing a pair of underbritches.  Over her pull-up and leggings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Duck Butt

Some time ago, we bought a dozen boxes of cereal from the Dollar Tree for $.50/box. 

The cereal tastes like wax lips.

Jim said, "Look on the bright side! You have weeks and weeks of duck food!"

With excitement, the kids and I took a box of Fruity Hoops to the park this afternoon.

The ducks and geese didn't like the cereal, either.

"Honk!  Honk!  Where is the real food?"

"This down here tastes better than Fruity Hoops."

Sometimes we get our money's worth and no more.

Still, the kids and I had a great afternoon at the park.

Come Back, Nana!

Nana must be gone because Clementine (still wearing her glow-in-the-dark, skeleton jammies) is watching a second episode of Sesame Street, and her English muffin with mostly-licked-off cream cheese sits beside me, on the couch, where I eat barbequed potato chips for breakfast and type words into a little, white box.

I know my mom--having returned to East Tennessee a little earlier than planned--will surprise and encourage a friend today.  I imagine she will catch up with my dad and brother, also attend to the necessary evils of paperwork, housework.  In terms of measurable results, she will probably accomplish more, today, than I will accomplish all week.  In all fairness, I will likely find myself even less productive than usual because--after trying (to some degree) to keep up with Mom for six days--I'm tired: funny, because I know Mom tried really hard to give me rest. 

In a few important ways, Mom did give me rest.  For the better part of a week, she shared in the baby loving.  She took care of all three children while Jim and I went out, alone, for the first time in almost seven months.  (We had the best time talking over sandwiches and picking out books, for the kids, from dollar bins.)  And--from a bedspread too small for our bed--she crafted beautiful, heavy drapes that keep sunlight from Jim's and my bedroom.

I stayed busier than usual while Mom visited, and I'm tired, but I wish she were still here.  I have so much to learn from her, as--nearly thirty-seven years into our relationship--her deep wells of energy and patience remain a marvel and mystery to me.  I fear I may never understand but know I blossom into her kind of love and cling to hope that, someday, the rest will fall in place.  If not, I will forgive myself; it took two parents to make me, and the other is amazing in his own right.  Also, some personality traits skip a generation, and that holds some promise.  On the phone just now, Mom said: "You reminded me a lot of your grandma [Blickenstaff, Mom's mom] last week."

I perked up, expecting references to my letter-writing and morning-hating.  "Oh, really?"  I asked.  "How so?"

"Well," she said, "You've probably only seen me go out without make-up, like, five times in my life, right?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Your grandma never really cared about make-up.  Oh, and I saw you eating something really cold and gross for breakfast one morning, and that reminded me of your grandma.  She would eat leftover hotdogs right out of the refrigerator, sometimes!  And," Mom laughed, "you're just so...relaxed."

Come back soon, Nana!
(The applesauce-raisin cake is all gone, and we love you lots and lots!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray! Nana's in Town!


21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge

Anne Conder at I Live in an Antbed introduced me to Brooke McGlothlin's 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge, which begins April 1st.  I will be participating and have already purchased my ebook: Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most.  I am more excited than I can say about my commitment to lift up my precious (but angsty) middle-schooler during the month of April. 

To learn more about the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge, click the button below.  Please let me know if you're in!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jason Hatfield and the Gift of Snowy River

There is something about the outside of a horse
that is good for the inside of a man. 
-Winston Churchill

Jason Hatfield

Dad bought, first, a gelded, black-and-white Shetland pony named Pepper.  He had a terrible attitude, and we found him more reliable in harness than under saddle.  Our Pennsylvania neighbors felt sorry for Pepper's having to pull Dad in sleigh and sulky, but Pepper was strong: just suited poorly for the trail.  So, next, Dad bought horses: an Appaloosa gelding named Big Chew for himself, a Paso Fino named Daisy for Mom, and--after my borrowing, for a time, a very old gelding named Flash--a registered, Morgan mare named Firefly for me. 

I was nine when Dad bought Firefly, and--thanks to my being ill and weak with a virus--my parents lifted me to the window to see her the day Dad brought her home.  She and I were close to the same age, and she was spirited and would have been entirely too much horse for a nine-year-old girl but for her immediate and profound love for me.  Two years later, she moved with our family to East Tennessee.

I wish I could remember how Jason Hatfield and I came to ride together, but I can't.  I know it happened shortly after my family moved to Tennessee and assume I was yet eleven.  Jason is a year younger than I, and he rode a black gelding named Leroy.  Jason and I had exactly two things in common: our love for Camp Galilee (which deserves its own post at some point), and our love for our horses. 

Jason's and my horses were not pampered animals.  I guess they never saw the inside of a riding ring, and Firefly, I know, never owned a blanket: just a saddle pad.  My family's barn in Tennesee was (and is) really just an open-faced loafing shed.  Firefly ate a small amount of grain every day but hay only in winter, when no green grass grew for her to graze at will.  She was a fat, study animal.  For colder months she grew her chestnut coat shaggy and thick, and her breath became a cloud as it met cold air.  In summer, her tail flicked constantly at flies.  I never knew her to sustain an unrecoverable injury...or any injury at all save the twice a careless rider caused her to fall.  I was the first of these, and she lost the top of her kneecap after we hit, running, a concrete bridge.  Thankfully, she didn't land on top of me.  She stood and waited for me to rise, and we walked slowly all the way home, bleeding together. 

Jason and I rode in dusk, rain, sleet, and snow...up and down Highway 63 and, I guess, on every back road and trail in east-central Scott County.  We climbed mountains and crossed creeks; hitched our horses to a pine post at the Texaco; and ran our animals, hard, in the field behind Straight Fork Baptist.  For almost seven years we rode, and all the hundreds of (nearly wordless) rides run together in my mind and become one experience: the fresh air...the giant, kind eyes of my horse and her thick, warm body...the smiling, steady eyes of my friend. 

I look at my eleven-year-old son and try to imagine his leaving, unsupervised, on horseback for a saying: "See you at dark, Son," and I can't.  I think of riding Firefly as she galloped in fields pitted with holes, clip-clopped along the shoulder-side of highway fog stripe, and I shudder to think of all that could've happened but didn't.  I praise my parents for turning me loose--even if into danger--and know my having Jason as companion relieved their minds and made possible my adventuring.

I sold Firefly just before leaving home for college.  I went to visit her exactly once after selling her; she trotted up to me at the fence, and I cried until I hyperventilated and threw up.  She is dead, now, but I know she lived long, happy years even after becoming someone else's horse.  

I have ridden three times, I think, since selling Firefly.  I do not seem drawn to horses in general; I loved the one animal, my animal.  I guess I must have loved Leroy, too, because--when, about four years ago, I last saw Jason and Leroy--I wept as I stroked the neck of that horse. 

Over the weekend, Jason friend-requested me on facebook, and I'd never supposed I might see him in that virtual space.  I wanted to lay my head over and cry for the joy of it and gushed to Jim how very much I love my friend.  And it's true: I love Jason Hatfield like a brother and always will.  But it's more than that. I love the girl who loved the horse, and no one else knew that girl, or that horse, or that season of my life quite like Jason.  Of the few things about which I never have to wonder, one is this: Firefly and I will always be bound up together in the heart of the man who was once my ten-, thirteen-, and seventeen-year-old companion on horseback.

1987 (13 Years Old)

1991 or 1992 (17 or 18)

My Parents' Farm 1988.  Firefly is on the right.

A Perfect Day - Lee Teter

Monday, March 21, 2011

Potty Adventures with Daddy

Jim got up with Clementine as he does every Saturday morning, and I guess--while I frolicked in Dreamland--Clementine melted down in a big way.  Later, Jim asked: "So, do you let Clementine wipe herself after she pees in the potty?"

"Oh, yes," I answered.  "It's a thing.  She'd been unrolling toilet paper and cramming it in the toilet the entire time she'd been sitting there, so I told her she needs to wait until she goes pee-pee, and then she can tear off some toilet paper to wipe."

"Oh," he said.  "Well, I guess that's where things went wrong, because all I did was wipe her after she peed, and she had a complete meltdown."

Poor Daddy. 

Note to self: I need to better communicate the girls' routines to Jim.

But, in the meantime, here's my favorite potty story of all time:

At a different point on Saturday morning, Jim looked at Clementine and said: "Wait just a minute, MeMe.  Daddy's gotta go pee-pee in the potty."

And Clementine looked at him and asked: "Like a big girl?"

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Melt the Heart of Your Wife

Earlier, I e-mailed the following to my beloved: "I think I am becoming a glass-half-empty person.  I am so discouraged that we forgot to refrigerate the chicken I bothered to defrost and cook.  Charleigh hasn't gotten up, yet, and I haven't awakened her. Soon it will be time for Clementine's nap.  So I guess we will go out this afternoon around 3:00. Let me know if you want to meet us somewhere after work."

(Just so you have the full picture, my beloved brought dinner home last night; thus, we did not eat what I had baked.)

My beloved replied, today, via e-mail: "Honey, I am so sorry about the chicken!  I should have remembered as I was the last to touch it.  I am so sorry that I ruined it.  I would love to meet you somewhere or I can just come straight home.  I am leaving here at 1:15. I will be home @ 2pm.  Maybe we can all get out and when we are done, go to the store and I can fix a great dinner."

I am getting ready to close this laptop until Monday morning.  I need to spend this weekend trying to make my beloved's heart feel all melty like mine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Middle of the Bed

It happened as it can only after Daddy rises
When she and Mommy scooch to the middle of the bed
It happened as it does when there's no stirrin' wiggle
Hardly ever for the baby in the middle of the bed
But she slept like an angel and we cuddled close together
Bare toesies 'n' cotton jammies in the middle of the bed
'Til we heard Sister singin' and we opened eyes together
Smiled mornin' joy at one another in the middle of the bed