A blog named BETTY

Friday, March 28, 2008

Whistling Dixie

I know we have some Dixie fans out there, and you’re gonna love the latest. (If you are an existing fan, you can skip the next paragraph.)

My mother-in-law, Dixie, is 89 years old. She has always been an interesting person—very vivacious, outgoing, and opinionated. Her general health has been amazing…physically, anyway. The last ten years she’s had some memory problems. And when she suffered a heart attack 3 years ago, that department took a real hit. She has not lived alone since then, although she is quite convinced that she could. She spent the first 2.5 years of this arrangement telling each and every one of us 20 times a day that she was gonna move to an apartment and get a job. I won’t elaborate on the highlights of the period she lived with us, but suffice it to say that in her world, I am a closet thief (specializing in cars), stalker, brake tamperer, and poisoner extrordinaire. What I like about her world is that I evidently have a lot of time on my hands, which would be nice. What I don’t like about her world is being accused of said crimes 15-20 times per day, usually when I’m trying to watch my favorite shows. So….that arrangement didn’t work out very well. We ended up finding her a very nice apartment in an assisted living facility. She was still miserable, though, and the management kept calling to report her latest escapades.

Enter modern medicine. HALLELUJAH!! After the place threatened to turn her out unless she was medicated, hubby went through the painful and exhausting process (because he had to re-talk her into it every 15 minutes) and got her on some anti-psychotic meds. Presto Change-o!! Two days later she was a new woman—cheerful, peppy, and much-less inclined to call us all day to share her despair. Oh, she still only has 15 minutes of short-term memory, but at least those 15 minutes are pleasant! (She’s been wishing hubby a happy birthday for 3 weeks now. But isn’t that sweet?) And she hasn’t accused me of plotting against her for MONTHS!

I think the best part of her new, cheerier state is that she’s gotten out to meet people at her place. And she’s the belle of the ball, which is where she thrives! About a month ago, Hubby went to see her, came around a corner, and ran into her holding hands with a man! Thereafter, we heard a lot about Ike (including some things we’d rather not hear--like how much he likes smooching). Every day she’d call to say they just got back from their first date! She was going to introduce me and the girls to him one day when we were visiting, but she couldn’t remember where he lived. (He’s in her same building.) After wandering around the halls for 20 minutes, we had to leave. But I hear he’s very sweet (and lucid even). I don’t know if he has all of his teeth, but he seems like quite a catch. And hey, he gets to be with a woman who falls in love with him every day. I like to think it’s like ’50 First Dates.’ But much less sexy. Ewwww.

So, speaking of EWWWW, last week Ike and Dixie broke up because of something involving a bed which we try to tell ourselves means a napping incompatibility. Basically, he wants ‘napping’ to be part of their courtship, and she doesn’t (probably because they’ve only been on one date, for goodness sakes!!) Two days later, which would be Tuesday of this week, she called to tell Lance that SHE’S GETTING MARRIED. Monday. I guess that’s what you call a compromise on the napping issue. Those crazy kids.

And now I’m going to take a long shower…or maybe an acid wash.

Friday, March 21, 2008

All By Myse-e-e-elf

I am at a hotel. ALONE. Five miles from my house. Did I mention ALONE? That really is the important part here.
Hubby was out of town on business this week in Florida. I think something clicked inside him this time as he was lounging on the fluffy bed, eating room service and flipping through channels. (Because--as we all know--a man's retina will spontaneously explode if he settles on one channel for more than 5 seconds.) Maybe he'd just hung up from talking me out of selling our children (again). I don't know. But in some "EUREKA" moment he realized that Hotel life can be a lot more rewarding than home life, and maybe a little Hotel time would be good for ERIN. So he sent me off this afternoon and FORCED me to check into the Hampton Inn. Alone. I put up a slight fight, because I'm the cheapest person on earth, but I knew he was right, and so did he. So the resistance was mostly for show. I didn't even push it when he insisted I NOT stay at the Motel 6. I'm getting soft, it's true.

I've been gone from home for 6 hours. I'm supposed to be resting, but I get this strange urge when I'm left alone with no kids in my care. It makes me want to conquer the world. Or at least the mall, which is conveniently located across the street from this particular hotel. (Next time he's gonna agree to the Motel 6 in the middle of nowhere! Hee!)

Also, is it weird that I met Hubby at TJ Maxx 30 minutes after checking in? Somehow seeing him outside of the house makes all the difference. It was my idea, and it was fun.

I know there are a lot of mothers who can't relax when they're away from their kids. I've just never had that problem, even when they were tiny. Just another one of my talents: I'm good at being gone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In search of a support group

I suffer from second-hand chocolate. This is how it works: I purposely do not buy any chocolate (at least not the kind I like). The man I live with, however, buys all sorts of chocolate. Almost daily. And then he leaves it--OPEN--all over the house. The good kind, like almond-toffee chocolate bars. Every time I walk by it, it's like I have no choice but to partake. IT'S FORCED ON ME, I tell ya. Much like a woman married to a smoker. Therefore, I am a victim of second-hand chocolate.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ode to Shnookie4

As you know, Shnookie4--my baby--turned 8 recently. I seem to have established a pattern of writing a tribute to each child on his/her b-day; therefore, let's put my youngest under the microscope.

BTW, there will be no mention of alcohol in this post, BECKY. (Okay, not including that time. I was just mentioning alcohol in passing.) (Dangit. Maybe I really am obsessed with alcohol.) (Aaargh! I need a drink.)

Shnookie4 is an amazing kid. As she grows up, we keep discovering new talents she has. If this continues, she's gonna be an adult royal pain with her perfectness! Physically, she has always been slightly on the smaller side. When she was just 7 or 8 months old, she got RSV, and it was a pretty rough year after that. She caught EVERYTHING, and then she'd get dehydrated. We spent a lot of time in the hospital that year. Finally, she got so bad while on a family trip to Colorado, that we had to admit her to the ICU for several days. She literally almost died. We don't know if that year has anything to do with her petite-ness, but every day she got stronger after that, we cheered.

This girl loves order in the world. As a baby, she'd methodically remove her diapers from the basket and lay them end to end to create huge patterns. I have to admit, it was a little unnerving to walk into a room and see a giant crop circle where there was none before. Hubby got a bit worried that she was driven by voices to create satanic symbols in our home. (I told him that just because HE hears voices, doesn't mean everyone else does.) As she grew up, her scope of tools widened, and she experimented with lining up all sorts of things. But mostly her clothes. We had paths of OshGosh droppings everywhere.

So guess who grew up to love patterns?? Give her beads of different colors, and she's engrossed for hours. Modern theories in education have discovered that patterning is the foundation of math. So guess who is good at math?? The truth be told, she's good at all school subjects and gets excellent grades. Parent-teacher conference is so awkward, since the teacher and I just stare at each other for most of it. Once the "she's amazing" and "I wish all my students were her"s are out of the way, there's not much to talk about. Every mom should have such problems, eh?

Hubby always says that Shnookie4 is "just so darn CAPABLE." If you ask her to give her teacher a note three weeks from Wednesday at 2:30, she'll be there, a few minutes early, note in hand. Smiling ear to ear. No reminder necessary. It's like she was born with a Franklin Planner for a brain. And this kid does not let anything stop her. If she needs a cup on the top shelf? She drags into the kitchen a 50-pound chair from the other room, climbs up on it, steps over to the counter, and scales shelves until she can grab it. Then reverses the whole process (remembering to replace the chair to its original space, of course.) I don't think "Help" is in her vocabulary.

Combine her can-do attitude with her loving spirit, and she's a wonder. At Christmas, she casually asked me what that book I wanted for Christmas was. I told her and watched as she meticulously copied down the title on a piece of paper. I went back to cooking. Ten minutes later, I stumble over her and my laptop on the floor of the family room. She's got Amazon.com up and is searching for that book by its title. I was stunned. And half-tempted to just let her keep going and see what she offered them for payment.

Shnookie4 may be a mere eight years old, but she's definitely an old soul--wise beyond her years and a pleasure to be around. I hope she'll never stop wanting to sit by me to watch American Idol, and that she'll greet me each day with that smile for a long time. Someday I'm gonna have to share her greatness with the rest of the world, but for now I'm hanging on to every last sweet morsel of her. Love you, Bibber!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shnookie4 turned 8 on the 24th, and Hannah Montana reigned supreme! It is so weird for me to think that there will be a generation of girls in the not far off future that will say "Hannah who?" Right now I could swear she's a member of our family with how much her presence is felt around here. Anyway, here's my little pre-teen pop rocker with her new Hannah gear:

(Sorry for the lame late-winter indoor lighting photos!)
Yes, that is a Hannah Montana wig she's sporting. Just another way we're trying to contribute to the well-being of the poor little Billy Cyrus off-spring. You do what you can in this cruel world.

Right after turning eight, Shnookie4 got to be baptized. (The LDS faith baptizes at 8 yrs instead of as babies, since older children are better able to choose. See http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1af539b439c98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____ for more information. Kay.) It was a VERY. BIG. DEAL. and special for a lot of reasons, one of which is that Shnookie1 (who is 16) got to baptize her. Did I cry or what??! I had been so busy all month preparing for this big day, that I was totally unprepared for the wave of emotion that slammed into me when they were in the water together. And then he gives her a big hug before helping her back up the stairs. HELLO! Nail in the coffin (so to speak--not the best phrase to use here, lol) for Mom's emotional control. Luckily, I had to rush in and help her change, so the all-out blubbering had to wait. Here they are together:

I'll pause here to allow you to complete your "ooohing" and "aaaahing" over her stunning dress, which I just might have made myself. I know. I'm crazy. But I had made Shnookie2 a dress when she was baptized. And when Shnookie3's time came, I went so far as to buy the fabric for a dress, before realizing the obvious--that recovering from chemo and sewing a 5-layer jewel-encrusted gown did not mix. (Shnookie 3 has VERY elaborate taste.) So along comes Shnookie 4's time, and I have $100 worth of fabric from the previous aborted attempt. What would you do? (Don't answer that. I know. I'm crazy.) *I* would lose all reason, buy a slightly simpler pattern, and spend 40 hours making Shnookie 4 her special dress. Which apparently I did. (Much to Shnookie 3's changrin. "NO FaiRRRRRRR...that's supposed to be Myyyy dresssssss!") She looks beautiful, though, doesn't she?

My oldest and my youngest. Sigh. I am one lucky mama.