Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Adventures in Ajax

I know I've become a mellow Mom when:

1. I see an entire box of cereal dumped out on the dirty floor and I don't even think twice.
2. The children live through this:

3. I think it's cute when they maul each other:


4. I call poison control extremely calmly without even feeling anxious after my youngest decides to clean the shower at 10 p.m. and we find Ajax cleanser powder around his mouth. When asked if he put any in his mouth, he says, "Four." Uhhh... time to call poison control... again. At least it wasn't the Ajax with Bleach.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lessons in Idolatry

1. There is a very liberating feeling when Utah is to your back. I love where I live, but I love getting away.

2. Cumulus clouds are my favorite thing "on earth." They are so magnificent and huge. More on that later perhaps.

3. Apparently, it's really hard for people to sign on t-shirts. Nevertheless, Joseph's new American Idol t-shirt from the Nokia Center has illegible signatures by Syesha, Kristy Lee Cook, Chikezie and David Hernandez.

4. David Cook's dad is really nice and mellow. We met him after the show. It was a cool coincidence and only because my sister recognized him from the broadcasts. Good eyes, Lisa!

5. Michael Johns is an absolutely charming human being. He was soooo playful and fun with the fans and an absolute sweetheart. And yes, he's even cuter in real life! Imagine!

6. Jason Castro is super funny and sweet in real life.

7. David Cook and David Archuleta are obviously really good friends. During the dress rehearsal, when they were supposed to be "fighting" they were goofing around and having fun together. David Cook looked just like an older brother, taking care of Archie.

8. If you scream at just the right moment, yes, you can hear yourself on the television recording. (Oops?)

9. The American Idol music sounds MUCH richer and better in real life. The recording sounds incredibly stale by comparison. The music in person is breathtaking.

10. I have a new song to add to my "Happy" playlist on the iPod. It really gets stuck in your head and actually made me think long and hard about where I am in life right now:

11. Ryan Seacrest looks good in a pair of jeans. (What? I can't notice?)

12. David Cook has an amazing connection to the audience. He was playful and personal during the dress rehearsal. He tried to read everybody's signs and acknowledge each part of the wild audience.

13. If the instructions say that city ordinance won't allow people to line up before 10:00 a.m., be there by 9 a.m. or you'll barely get in. We got there at 9:55 and were on the third-to-last row in the huge theater. The line was three city blocks long!

14. Be the first person in line at concessions or you won't get food. They were sold out by the time we got to concessions between the dress rehearsal and recording. Since we couldn't bring food in with us, that meant we went nearly 12 hours without eating!

15. Attending American Idol is a FABULOUS way to get some exercise.

16. Even if you're a 29-year-old stay-at-home Mom, it's still thrilling to scream like a teenager when you see the American Idol finalists. I'm only a little bit embarrassed, and it was a great way to relieve stress. :)

17. If you're going to be standing outside in a line for over three hours, it's a good idea to put sunscreen on your arms and neck... not just your face. (Oops again.) Or at least turn from side to side so you roast evenly and not just on one arm.

18. It's totally worth it. How fun!

19. Even if you had nothing to eat all day, it's still not a good idea to pig out afterward at a cool restaurant.
20. Of course I missed my family. I just had to remind myself once in a while.

21. My sister's couch is infinitely more comfortable than my very old and low quality mattress.

22. Sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. LA time is super nice! That's 7:30 a.m. Utah time. What decadence. I could have slept all day but I had more important things to attend to.

23. Portos is still my favorite place in the entire world to eat!!! I brought home boxes of pastries, cookies, croissants and a loaf of sourdough to share with my family. That was my carry on. Don't laugh at me. You would do the exact same thing if you had been to Portos. BEST BAKERY I'VE EVER BEEN TO! Mmmmmm!

Time to wax poetic...

An ode to Portos

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways...

Pastries, pies and Portos...

Buttery baked breads...

Heaven in one bite!

24. Airplane snacks are getting grosser and grosser. But Biscoff cookies are still super yummy. I wonder how to make them.

25. After the doors have been closed, empty seats are fair game so you might as well scoot up closer to the front of the theater. Especially if you started out in the verrrrry back!

26. That sick, angry feeling in my stomach on Wednesday night told me I was lying to myself by saying, "I don't care who wins. They're both fabulous!!" I guess I love to root for the local kid.

27. There are "stand in judges" at the dress rehearsal that don't really look like the judges but are HILARIOUS! (Yo yo yo yo yo yo yo yoooooo dawwwwg!) The fake Paula said to David Cook, "You may not have found what you were looking for but a lot of other people have!" Then the real Paula said at the live performance, "You may not have found what you were looking for but I know all of us did!" David Cook smiled knowingly and looked amused when she said that. It was super funny.

28. Even if you're an upright, honest human being who tends to obey rules, it WILL kill you when you resist the temptation to sneak in a camera or cell phone. That was impossibly hard to resist but I was too afraid of getting booted if I got busted! Hence no photos of me cheering at the Nokia Theater. :-(

29. Even if the dress code ("which will be strictly enforced") says no t-shirts, no white, dark colors, no logos and dress "hip and upscale" they'll apparently let in anybody who is wearing anything. Grrr... At least I tried to look nice.

30. I really do have the BEST neighbors & friends in the world. A huge, huge, huge thank you to the people who made this trip possible: Josh, Sabine, Heidi, Sandra, Colleen and Judie. You guys really made me cry tears of gratitude when you were so willing to help me out. You have no idea how much your generous love means to me.

31. There's nothing like some time away to reflect on life. I love my family and I'm so glad they were safe while I was gone. I love many things about my life, but it's been a long time since I remembered to "Dream Big" so I need to remember that my dreams will never come true if I don't have the courage to dream in the first place...

Best email today

See why I love my friend Sandra? She sends emails like this:

Dear Mormon Mother,

Please continue confessing in your blog. It's been a long time...11 days to be exact...since we've last heard from you. No details on the wonderful trip to California. No funny julianaisms to get us through the day. No sighs of relief that we don't have three year old twins ourselves. Nothing. What's going on? You use to be so faithful. Now, it's like we've been cast aside for far more interesting endeavors. What could be better than us?


Your faithful blog readers

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Like, oh my gosh, and stuff!

If I sound like a teenager girl when I say this, you'll understand...

I'm going to the American Idol Finale!
I'm going to the American Idol Finale!
I'm going to the American Idol Finale!
I'm going to the American Idol Finale!
I'm going to the American Idol Finale!
I'm going to the American Idol Finale!

Woohoo!!! My sister has been on the waiting list for tickets and her name just came up in the queue at the perfect time. And she invited ME! Thank you, Lisa! Merci! Gracias! Vielen dank!

Now I just need to buy a plane ticket and find some understanding friends to watch the wee ones. If you see my phone number on caller ID, beware!

Stay in Touch!

Once in a while....
With boys rough and tough...
My feminine side screams...
"Hey, stay in touch!!"

Hence the new blog background. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mother's Day Tribute

I love and respect my mom, but that's not what I'm going to blog about today. Each year, when Mother's day rolls around, my mind goes back to the years before I had kids. I have infertility problems, so every month after I got married would be another negative pregnancy test. Every month: another heartbreak. People made very unkind comments, assuming that I didn't want kids. One of my husband's aunts actually said, "Well, I guess you're just more interested in money." As if!

My sister had gone through all sorts of infertility treatments with no luck, so I assumed it would be the same for me. Imagine my surprise when I got pregnant with Joseph the first month after seeing the infertility doctor! I was completely shocked. I thought, "I should have tried this sooner. Duh!"

I was even more surprised when I conceived naturally about a year after Joseph was born. Those of you who know me will know that that ended in a heartbreaking miscarriage. I was in emotional wasteland at that point. We were living with my Mom while building our new house and it was a very stressful time other than the miscarriage. I chose to miscarry naturally, since all of my births are via c-section. "This is one thing I can do without help," I said to my OB. He agreed. I remember when the moment came and I was all alone.

A year after that, I was on infertility drugs and again I will never forget the moment the ultrasound tech said, "Are you on fertility treatment?" and I said, "Yeah, how can you tell?" (Duh!) Then she pointed out the TWO embryos in there. It felt right immediately. We never had any doubts and I remember thinking, "I came in expecting only one. But if I miscarried now and only had one, it would feel like a death in the family."

Each child was so wanted and so looked forward to. I adore my boys and can't imagine life without them. They are like colors on the rainbow: completely different from each other but beautiful in their own way. Here are a few moments from the last few hours:


Today at lunch I was fiddling around, trying to get some lunch preparations done. Josh had made the lunch but I was helping serve some things up. (I'm sick again! And this is worse than before! Grrr!) Joseph said to me, "Mommy, you're sick so you really ought to sit down. Dad can get that stuff." He's so thoughtful! He loves to tell people how pretty they look and how much he loves them. He has the biggest heart.


He came to sit on my lap a few minutes ago and said, "I love you, Mommy! I love you, Mommy! I love you, Mommy!" Then he started saying, "Mommy loves Joseph? Mommy loves Thomas? Mommy loves Elijah?" and grinning when I said, "Of course!" Another moment worth mentioning was when Josh grabbed a bottle of glue an hour ago and said, "Thomas, what does this say?" He thought for about a second and answered, "Glue All." Whoa!! Then we asked him to read the word "NO" and he couldn't do it. Funny kid. I don't know how he learns so much so quickly.


Elijah is sitting here by me with a Sunday shirt on, with the sleeves rolled up and a cooking apron over it. It's adorable. He was helping daddy make lunch, putting potatoes in a pot and rearranging celery. He loves to be helpful and he is the most sociable child I know. Every day, when he wakes up from nap, he wants to lie down on the couch with me and have snuggle time. He sits there giggling and smiling and saying, "Don't close eyes, Mommy!"

I love you, kiddos. You light up my life and cheer me up, even when you wear me out. Happy Mother's Day to my sweet children who make this day meaningful for me.

Friday, May 09, 2008

When People Move

When Josh and I first got married, we were welcomed with open arms into our new neighborhood. People were so kind and concerned about us. Then one day, several years later, we put out our "For Sale By Owner" sign and expected to get bombarded with people sighing in regret.

And then we kept waiting.

Apparently, we had fallen off the edge of the planet. Never mind that we were building a house in a development that was adjacent to the neighborhood we were moving out of. Across the street = another planet! Nobody called. Very few people mentioned it at church. I could almost hear people thinking, "They're moving so there's no need to cultivate their friendship anymore. What's the point? They'll be gone soon."

This reaction was obviously a bit disturbing to me. It made me question the motivation behind the kindness people had shown us before. Were they simply trying to keep relations smooth because that's neighborly? Or something more cynical: because keeping friendly with the neighbors makes it easier to resolve conflicts? It may be cynical, but I've seen it happen plenty because I'm a landlord.

It happens every time. When the tenants move in to our basement, they are super willing to work around any problem and they profess to be the world's easiest-to-get-along with people. They don't care if my kids run around early in the morning right above their bedroom. They don't care if I sing... very loudly... especially while I'm in the shower. They don't care if I forget to get the mail until it's so full that they can't get their own mail out.

Then they give 30 days notice. I could call those 30 days a "chilly" period. They no longer have the motivation to play nice with us anymore. (Well, actually, they do because I have their rent deposit but they usually seem to forget this aspect.) Suddenly, they're all business and common courtesy goes out the window.

Two evenings ago, I lost track of the time and was quietly singing as I was taking out my contacts and getting ready for bed. Apparently the tenant below me didn't think it was very quiet and actually SCREAMED at me to stop! I was in total, total shock. I have never in my life had a tenant do something so disrespectful! For heaven's sake, please pick up the phone. Or come knock on my door. I may have been at fault for losing track of how late it was, but a little common courtesy still goes a loooong way!

It's not coincidence (in my mind) that they just notified us of their intent to move out in a month. In the past, when I've asked if my singing bothers them, they just sort of laugh and shake their heads. And now...

So what? So a few weeks ago, a couple was moving out of our neighborhood into a new home of their own. I really wanted to tell them I'd miss them and had enjoyed being with them in choir, but I just was a bit too shy to make the words come out. They moved. The moment was lost. Then I noticed the wife is included in our Book Group emails. I quickly repented and sent her a quick note expressing my sadness that we wouldn't see them as often. And I really meant it. I adore my neighbors and I hate losing them to the tides of life change. But it's not enough to show my love when they're here. I need to let them know that I still value their friendships... even when our lives are diverging.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Anthill in the Sky

When I was young, my older siblings liked to torture me by saying, "You need to eat all of that! Kids in Africa are starving and you're not even eating your peas!" I was a very, very picky eater and, although their taunting never made me eat my food, they at least instilled a healthy sense of guilt in me for all of the food I was wasting.

I have often pondered this: how many people in *insert improverished nation* could eat for a week just on the leftovers from my family's dinner tonight? The problem is that I can't just pick up my dinner and take it to them. It requires more deliberate action--action that involves blindly handing cash to some humanitarian group, who spends my money however they want. This requires a lot of faith in people I don't know and results in no knowledge of whether my money actually did the help I wanted it to.

But all that is changing. I now know that I can feed an entire civilization just from one homemade meal. It's true! Each night, our belated sweeping results in hundreds (if not thousands) of little black ants swarming into our dining room and proceeding, in a very organized way, to transport our crumbs to who-knows-where.

Yes, at first I was utterly disgusted. Somewhat nauseated in fact. But then I saw this:

I saw my little, disgusting visitors in a new light. Not that I really want them to clean up the floor for me (which they do very well) but I started to find their habits fascinating. So last night, when Joseph asked if he could drop a chip on the floor to see if the ants would find it, I said "NO!" and then quickly relented. He dropped the chip and then sat, fascinated, as the ants found it and started to actually carry it away. Okay, it's disgusting, I admit. But it's still interesting.

It's almost enough to make me not call our pest control service and demand they get their bodies over here STAT to take care of this. Almost, almost. Alas, all of our new little friends will soon be floating up to that great anthill in the sky, where they can dream about the feast we provided them with each dinner time. We'll miss them, but it's for the best.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Child Abuse

Child abuse is rampant in my house: my children abuse me every day.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

How was your NIGHT?

I spoke too soon. Waaaaay too soon. I thought the day from *insert expletive* was over by the time I blogged at 9:30 p.m. If you haven't read my blog entry titled "How was your day," be sure to read that one first to put this in perspective.

So I finished my "blog entry" (read as "rant" or "self pity fest"?) around 9:30 and was very ready to plop into bed and zonk out. I was still feeling really high strung after the day's drama so I laid down to read for a couple minutes. Around 10:15 Josh and I heard Joseph's door open and groaned.

"I think he's just going potty," I said. We went back to our reading. Then the coughing started. He couldn't stop coughing. Then we thought we heard Thomas crying, but the sound seemed too far away.

"Is that Joseph?" Josh asked.

"No, no," I said. That sounds like Thomas. We both groaned.

"There goes our sleep time," said Josh.

Then we heard something more. "Is Joseph throwing UP?" I asked. Josh didn't think so, but after listening for a couple more seconds, I insisted that Thomas was still asleep but Joseph was upstairs coughing up a storm and vomiting. Josh rushed out of the room and the next thing I heard, as I was climbing out of bed, was Josh saying, "Aaaauuuuugggh! Do it in the toilet. Don't just stand there on the stairs!" Yes, Joseph was vomiting onto the stairway.

Now is a good time to remind you that we got our carpets cleaned yesterday and were still wet. Thank you.

I urged Joseph down to the bathroom and made him kneel down over the toilet. Then things got serious quickly. Joseph was trying to cry and cry but hardly a sound was coming out of him. It sounded like he was choking and each breath was a struggle. He was still breathing, though, even though the effort made him silently cry and scream. He would occassionally vomit a little yellow stuff into the toilet.

I panicked, didn't know what to do. I called the doctor's office, trying to remember if the after-hours service was open until 10:00 or 10:30. They'd just closed. I called the answering service, thinking I had to talk to a doctor quick. I didn't know what to do! I exercised excellent self control, might I add, since I have the phone number for our neighbor who is a pediatrician and I resisted calling him! So I finally got connected to a nurse who calmly explained that if he had croup, like I suspected, I'd have to take him into the doctor sooner or later. She said it was just a matter of time, so I might as well head to ER early in the night.

By the time she said this, I had already changed out of my pajamas and told Josh to get Joseph some socks and shoes. I hung up and we rushed Joseph out into the car and over to the ER. Naturally, by the time we finally saw the doctor, Joseph wasn't coughing anymore and seemed to be breathing just fine. I guess that's good, but it's still annoying. The doctor listened to him and said it sounded like a bit of asthma and a bit of croup as well. (Asthma, I learned, causes a wheezing sound when they breathe OUT and the croup has the wheeze when they breathe IN. I never knew.) So he got a breathing treatment of epinephrine. (Me: "Will this have any side effects?" Nurse: "He might get a bit high strung. It's like pure adrenaline.") After the treatment, his breathing sounded much, much better and he actually had a voice again! Yea! (I will admit that I enjoyed the two hours of voicelessness because Joseph usually talks nonstop, and yes, I felt guilty about enjoying it while he was in pain.)

So right around midnight, the difficult day appropriately came to a close. I tucked Joseph into bed around 12:30 a.m. and went to sleep. Now I'm off to go fill his prescription and I'm having a good laugh. There are days that are difficult and then there are days that are just waaay over the top. Yesterday was so over the top that I can enjoy laughing about it now. (And for those of you who asked... Thank you for your concern, but I'm not worried about the lump. I'm really not. I think it's just scar tissue from one of the c-sections but we're making sure. Don't worry on my behalf!)

Friday, May 02, 2008

How was your day?

Warning: this blog post is hideously filled with self pity and patheticness. Continue at your own risk.

You or somebody like you : "Hey, Juliana, how was your day?"

Me: "Fabulous, as always! How are you?"

How good are you at reading between the lines? If you were an expert, this is what you'd find:

Me: "Well, I went into the doctor yesterday because I have a lump in my abdomen that I've never felt before. Ya know, it's probably nothing but it could be something life-changing or deadly. Sweet. So yeah, he scheduled a CT scan and I said, 'What does that involve?' and he said, 'It's just an X-ray. No big deal.' Sweet again. So I scheduled it for this afternoon and they told me I'd have to fast all day before it. Yeah, okay, no prob. I do that every month. But then yesterday around 10 p.m. I was like watching a movie and stuff and remembered that the carpets were getting cleaned here at my house today, so I had to like move all the furniture and stuff, ya know? So we stayed up until midnight moving the big stuff but there was still a tooooooonnnn that had to get done this morning... while fasting. So then I got to bed after midnight and then the kids wouldn't sleep well because they're sick and have high fevers, which incidentally freaks me out because my brother died of meningitis when the only sign my mom had was a fever the night before which she thought wasn't a big deal. So anyway, they kept waking up and I kept stressin' and not sleeping and I'm on a medication right now which makes it hard for me to sleep anyway. So the highlight of the day was that the kids (after not sleeping during the night) slept in until.. drumroll please... 7:15!!!!!!!! Can you believe it? I was totally stoked. I was so tired that I literally couldn't move or open my eyes, but when you're a mom, what ya gonna do? So I got up, tried to feed the kids breakfast even though all of our furniture was in the dining room and there wasn't anywhere to sit but I had to eat before 8:00 a.m. because of the x-ray thing. So then I had 20 minutes to clean the rest of the house (HA!!!!) before driving my nephew to school. It was good to see my nephew, but then I had to come back and work my head off to clean an entire tornado's worth of toys from the toy room, move a toddler bed, three mattresses, miscellaneous furniture and trash random disgusting garbage that no good housekeeper wants to see on their carpets. Yeah, it was nauseating on more than one level. Then, while the kids cried because they hate the vacuum, I vacuumed the entire house while trying to listen for the doorbell because the carpet guy was due already. He finally came and said it would be "6-10 hours" until it was dry. Huh. Okay, so we hopped in the car and fed the boys lunch at Wendy's, which normally sickens me, but since I was fasting, it naturally looked like the most delicious food on the planet. (Eww!) Then dropped Joseph at school, drove to my Mom's house where the twins zonked out for nap time early. I had just fallen asleep for a much-needed nap when Tommy woke up crying. I tried to ignore it but my conscience is too healthy to let a sick child cry for long. Dang. When I got Tommy, he was burning up. He sat there on my lap, listless and exhausted and breathed hot, hot air onto my arm. I didn't know what to do and called the nurse and felt like a totally lame over-anxious mom because the nurse essentially didn't care whether my son had a fever or not. Fine. Tommy sat on a barstool and laid his head onto a counter, ignoring the snack I got for him while I sat down to try to relax at the piano, singing a new song. My singing woke Elijah up (which was fine) and then it was time to rush all the way back to my neighborhood to pick up Joseph before my CT scan. Joseph got home late and I didn't get back to my Mom's house (where there was miscellaneous babysitting drama as the day went on) to drop the kids off until two minutes before my appointment time. I rushed to the hospital (15 minutes late) and then sat while two co-workers jabbered with each other instead of checking me in. When the registration person asked if I wanted to just pay the $25 copay or know the full amount I was going to get billed for, I said, "Just the $25 please" and rushed across the hall to radiology. When I got there, they said that my appointment would take 50% longer than expected and I needed to down six cups of disgusting tasting stuff before the appointment--one cup every 15 minutes. I sat there watching "Extra" feeling bored and anxious. Then they sprung on me that I'd need an IV for a medication coursing through my veins. I HATE IVs. HATE. So now I was filling my bladder with nasty stuff and I was going to have it coursing directly into my bloodstream, too. Awesome. I wondered how my miserable little Tommy was doing with the babysitter. Poor little guy. After about an hour of waiting, I discovered that I was developing a nasty case of.. well, you don't want to know. I rushed to the bathroom... twice... before they finally took me in to the torture chamber. They told me that I'd have to quit one of my medications for 24 hours after this and when I asked why out of curiosity, they sort of looked aside and said, "It just doesn't react well to this." That did not boost my confidence. As I stretched out in the lovely stylish hospital gown, I stared up at the huge machine over me and was entranced by a little red light. Then a small sign below said something like, "Don't stare into the laser." So I shut my eyes and kept them shut. Did I mention I sometimes get a tad claustrophobic? The person doing the scan told me, "When I inject the medicine, it'll feeling really strange, but don't worry. Your kidneys will filter it out within about 60 seconds." Dont' the kidneys work to remove TOXINS from the body? My comfort level in what was happening dropped a little further. When it was done, the radiology tech asked how I was doing and thought I was being particularly funny when I replied, and I quote: "Other than the emotional trauma, I'd doing just fine." I walked out of the radiology room feeling like I'd been absolutely run over. And needed to find a bathroom again soon. I drove home and asked the husband man to pick the kids up so I could rest a bit. Drove to Taco Bell and discovered that when I've been fasting, Taco Bell's spicy chicken soft taco is the most delicious food on the planet. So I came home, walked across the wet carpet and pulled some of the furniture out of the heap upstairs so I could sit down and watch TV to unwind. I've never seen "High School Musical" but keep hearing that it's so good so I DVR'd "High School Musical 2" and watched part of it. To my chagrin, I found it rather amusing. I like to pretend like I'm so stinkin' cerebral but... ya know. I had to pause the movie regularly to make emergency visits to the bathroom, which was highly unpleasant. When the kids got home and I started walking to Joseph's bedroom, I started feeling dizzy like I was gonna pass out so Joseph offered me a shoulder, which melted my heart. With his assistance, I got him into bed and stumbled around the house randomly until I decided that a good blogging session would clear my mind and help me relax. Voila. Oh, I'm sorry, did you just want me to lie and say 'Fabulous?' My bad."