Friday, August 29, 2008

The Fruit of my Guilt

Or, I could say, the guilt of my fruit. Or, the fruit of my guilt of my fruit of my guilt. I have both. Fruit and guilt.
Here's my problem: I have grand ambitions. I expect a lot of myself, but I run out of energy very quickly. Especially if I have to leave the house. I'm like a little video game character that loses health points when they walk over hot sand or something. I lose health points when I have to go somewhere. I also need a lot of quiet time to myself. People find out that I have 5 boys and they say, "I'll bet they keep you busy!" I just smile and nod, but my kids are the busy ones. There isn't anything wrong with my thyroid or anything, I just need life at a slow pace.

Anyway, back to the fruit. I have lots and lots of fruit. I have apples, cherries, apricots, figs, blackberries, pears, plums, strawberries and grapes. Really. When all my kids are home, I get overwhelmed pretty easily and my world shrinks down to just what I can handle. Sometimes, it gets awfully small. Anyone else do that?

Well, right when my fruit comes on and is ready to can, it's a million degrees outside. Canning always involves making a spectacular mess of my kitchen. While I'm canning, I'm not cleaning the rest of my house. It becomes a spectacular mess.

Every year when the fruit comes on, I'm stressed out and sweltering, and I can't bear the thought of more than the usual mess and vats of boiling water in the house. The fruit hangs on the trees and calls to me. It tells me how wasteful I am. It reminds me of my pioneer ancestors and tells me that they would have canned it. I come out and pick enough for our dinner table, and I let the kids snack all they want, but the fruit still calls.

Finally yesterday the stars aligned in such a way that the weather was cool, and my house was clean. Better yet, I had the energy to tackle the job. I went outside and picked blackberries. I was a picking fool. I picked those berries like a second grader picks his nose: with gusto and I didn't stop till I'd picked it clean. Then I did the best thing of all! I juiced those suckers in my zippy juicer and FROZE THE JUICE until it's cold outside. Some day this winter, I'm going to get a hankering for blackberry jelly and blackberry syrup. And I'll pull out my stuff and get it done. There won't be much mess because I've already lived through this:

Ha! Take THAT fruit!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I've decided to thrill you all with a quick overview of my family members. I'll give them appropriate nicknames to keep you all from stalking them. (come on, you know you want to!)

So, I'd like to introduce you to Blade.
He's an original kind of guy. When he was a baby and toddler, he was a flirt with some serious game. He had platinum blond hair with long dark eyelashes. When we'd go to the wading pool, he'd find the cutest lifeguard, sit in her lap, and bat his eyelashes. He could do no wrong.

When he hit about three, his smoldering side began to emerge. In Sunbeams, instead of a drawing of a happy face for the paper entitled "I'm thankful for my nose and mouth" he drew a vampire with jagged fangs. He wanted to change his name to "Razor Blader". His favorite color was black with red glowing eyes.
Anyone else had a preschooler do that?



He had his big shot to be on tv one day at the grocery store. A new variety of apple was being introduced, and the filmers wanted footage of a cute child enjoying a crisp slice of apple. They flagged us down and marveled over our beautiful boy. We got that all the time, I'm telling you, he was beeee- utiful. We were flattered and proud of our little one, so we were happy to help. We were all happy and smiling, until they turned on the cameras and handed him the apple slice.

Have you ever seen Lord of the Rings, when Gollum gets a live fish? Blade did a Gollum. He screwed up his face until it looked like a little horn was emerging between his brows. He grabbed the apple, snarling, and there's no other way to describe it, savaged it. Chunks of fruit were flying, then he turned to the camera with apple carnage all over his face and growled. It looked a little like this, but so much worse.

No one spoke. Their faces were frozen. We avoided eye contact, thanked them and quickly went on with our shopping. I'm guessing they found another cute kid.

He's a fantastic artist, specializing in (you guessed it) weapons. But he has a tender side.No one is more gentle with a baby. He's mature beyond his years and can be trusted with a lot. I let him take his little brothers to the canyon with the camera, (that's trust) and I love to see the pictures and video he comes home with.
He craves adult conversation. He was reading at advanced high school level in the fourth grade, so when he hears adult conversation, he understands it. (Blast!) And he can hear every adult conversation within a mile radius, believe me. The other boys are in awe of his wit. He has a deadpan face and a deadpan voice and can deliver a devastatingly funny joke without cracking a smile. Let me tell you, it's a blessing to have a kid who tells jokes that are actually funny!
He plays a lot of jokes on us. Take this one, for instance: I made a drawer of food for each boy. Inside there was cold cereal, lunch fixings, after school snacks, all kinds of things. It became each boy's responsibility to make his own lunch. Blade didn't really feel like making his own lunch. So what did he do? He went around to kids in the lunch room and told them his family was too poor to give him lunch. Then he ate their donations to the 'needy'.


For months.

I am now making their lunches again. He won that round. This is living proof that there is power to the motherly "I hope you get a child just like you!" curse. He's me without the pantyhose on Sunday, it's true.
Speaking of Sunday, last week, for the first time in 8 years, we walked the five blocks to church. I'd always wanted to try it, and it seemed like a good enough time. We were halfway home when a lady in our ward pulled up coming from the other direction. "You're such a great family, and your oldest son told me you're walking to save money on gas. Will you please let me drive you home?!"
What do you say to that?

"Yeah, drive me home quickly so I can beat that boy!"
I'm not sure we're going to be walking to church again.

He's an original, my Blade. He loves long conversations about the world, and he's always interested in my thoughts and ideas. Unlike a lot of teen boys, my opinion really matters to him. He has the ability to see analogies in life, and I love to hear him share them with the family. He has a way of wrapping his little brothers around his finger. He has this tough exterior, but he only just barely got too old for snuggle time in my bed. I still like to curl up with him on the couch, and read Harry Potter to him. Yeah, I know he's read it a million times, but we still love to do it. And he'll always be my baby.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Urgent Care Chronicles

I've had a busy summer. Last week as I approached the counter at urgent care, I got a sympathetic smile of recognition from the gal signing us in. They know me by sight now. This is our family's fourth visit in as many weeks.
I hate going to urgent care. For the most part, I'm there because one of my boys has done something inconsistent with his intelligence. I have two types of boys. Half got the mental toughness gene, half have to work at it. It's always the ones who have to work at it that get hurt. Why is that?
One boy was doing materials experiments in his room. It seemed like a good idea to use a 10 pound weight to smash a metal incense bowl left by our exchange student. Little metal discs had neat designs epoxied to them, and when they were smashed, they looked cool. Who wouldn't do that? Well, he squished his finger too. Little finger guts were coming out. He was sure he was going to die. He very loudly wished he would die. He howled that he wished he'd never been born. He was positive there was some metal still inside the finger guts. There was no metal there. He needed no stitches, it was too messy to close up. They bandaged it and it was good as new in a few days.
If you ask my other boy how he ended up with a sliver of glass in the pad of his foot, he'll give you a long, complicated story that begins with soccer in the back yard and ends with him standing on one leg with his foot in the kitchen sink. The offending glass shard left over from a dropped jam jar became lodged in his foot as he balanced on it with the other foot in the sink. Makes perfect sense, right? I tried to dig out the glass, but no dice. We've learned with this boy that a sliver of glass can become a big deal.
A few years ago, a tiny sliver of glass in his big toe developed a wicked black spot that just kept growing. I was hoping it would just work it's way out, but as the red streaks were working their way up his leg, we opted for the ER. After some gross toe squirting and IV antibiotics, he sported a hole the size of a marble in his toe. No school for over a week until he could wear a shoe.
When this current shard of glass started to get a little sore and red, I decided to nip it in the bud. There was some trauma over the shots, but once the foot was numb and digging commenced, he was fine. The digging went on and on. After a while, the Doc gave up. He said he couldn't find it. He told me it would have to just work it's way out. By this time, I'm having liquefied toe tissue flashbacks. Just as the Dr. was ready to bandage him up, my boy asks, "What's that shiny thing right there on my foot?" Sure enough, an inch away from the dig, was the shard of glass. It had been flushed out by the bleeding and wiping. I heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Any bets on how long it'll be before I'm hauling another tearful and luckless boy back there?