Monday, November 27, 2006

a nose for trouble

It is quiet under the kitchen table—a point I don’t immediately notice because I am tying over 1,000,000 knots in a craft project with my daughter while my son repeatedly retrieves the tri-beads he has dropped onto the kitchen floor. While her craft project is progressing, his, on the other hand, has mostly resulted in several trips under the table to retrieve beads. I have stopped paying attention at this point, other than to occasionally encourage him to put another bead or two on his snowflake. Suddenly, however, the silence becomes glaring and all movement from below stops. “Buddy, whatcha doin’?” My son is never silent. I do not have a good feeling about this.

“Nothin’,” is his response, as he climbs back into his chair, hands empty, tentatively rubbing the bridge of his nose. Something is not right.

“Buddy, where is your bead?”

“I dunno,” he flat out lies, still rubbing his nose, his eyes three times their normal size. He is scared. So am I.

“Buddy, did you put that bead up your nose?”

“No,” he lies again, eyes even wider, as if mystified that I could have possibly known the location of the missing bead. He tries sticking his finger up his nose to retrieve the object that he insists isn’t there. I catch him just in time. Oh crap, I think to myself, as the realization sets in that I am probably bound for the emergency room.

“Buddy, let me see…”

I draw his freakishly-quiet body to me, his eyes growing wider by the moment and threatening to brim with tears, and tip back his head. Now I am really scared—I cannot see the bloomin’ bead at first glance, and I envision an entire evening and one hundred bucks both spent at the ER. I very unceremoniously turn him upside-down under the light and breathe a sigh of relief—I can see it. Now I just have to retrieve it.

I lead him up to the bathroom, still rubbing his nose with his wide-eyed gaze monitoring my own to determine when or if he will need to freak out. So far I have not, so neither has he. So far.

I grab the tweezers and pray hard that bead-extraction is one of my as-of-yet unknown talents. He rubs his nose again, still pondering these events and their outcome, as I flip him over on my lap and begin the procedure. Apparently it went in more easily than it came out, but with two gentle pulls and one or two frightened cries from my three-and-a-half year old, it came out, nonetheless. We are both dully relieved, and we have a nice long talk about never, ever, ever putting anything in our noses ever again. Ever. He appears convinced, at least for the moment.

I return to the kitchen and turn my thoughts toward dinner, feeling relieved and a little bit smug. I hearken for a moment back to my Girl Scout days, envisioning a bright, colorful “Bead Extraction” patch to add to my sash. Another notch in my Mom-belt. I have somehow arrived. I have removed my first tri-bead, saving my son from certain death and myself from a miserable evening at the hospital. I don my Super Mom apron and prepare now to make something spectacular for dinner, daring the beads that remain on the floor to “Go ahead, make my day.”

this one's for mom...

The answer to "How I Spent my Thanksgiving Weekend."

Friday, November 24, 2006

thanksgiving memories

(This piece began two years ago at our writer’s group—the prompt was to write about a favorite Thanksgiving memory from the 3rd person vantage point. This was my free-write, with a little editing, of course! Oh—and because my Mom and Dad will be sure to point it out, I’ve taken a little liberty with which cousin is which… writer’s perogative!)

It was a scene she remembered well—two little heads of hair, one curly, one straight, bobbing up and down the same creaky wooden steps. She looked across the room at her cousin with a knowing smile—the smile was returned with a confirming nod. It had been the two of them, some twenty-five years ago—bobbing up and down the steps, poking their heads through the cutout window on the landing that allowed a prime view of the preparations, eyeing the pies and the brownies with particular interest. It had been the two of them giggling, whispering, telling secrets and generally making the grown-ups worry and wonder. This year, it was their daughters…

She marveled at the resemblance as if seeing them again for the first time. No wonder her father often slipped and called her daughter by her own name. She wondered if her uncle did the same. “How surreal this must be for our parents,” she thought. It was surreal enough for her—as if she were looking back in time and observing her own childhood. She wished she could remember her own thoughts and plans and schemes—she wished for that precious insight into the mind of her daughter as she caught the gleam in her five-year-old eyes on her way through the living room for the fourth or fifth time. “Nothing,” her daughter responded sheepishly when asked what she was up to. None of them believed her.

Her father commented to her uncle about the scene looking familiar—apparently she was not the only one finding the unfolding events to be worthy of note. Somehow, that was reassuring to her. It felt good to know she was not alone in her fascination—nor in her feelings of affection. The curly-haired one bobbed by her yet again and she grabbed the wriggling child for a quick smooch on the top of the head before turning her loose once more, catching her father’s eye as she did. He smiled, and she smiled in return. “Brings back memories,” he said to his own curly-haired girl. “Indeed it does,” she replied with a sentimental smile. “Indeed it does.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

gains and losses

Some days, it is all I can do to not throw up. My muscles scream, my lungs implode, my head pounds with the driving bass. Driving me to move. Driving me to sweat. Driving me to “feel the burn.” Today is one of those days. I quiver and pant, wondering what the heck I was thinking, as I concentrate very hard on not vomiting in the middle of kick-boxing. Punch-punch-kick-lunge. Punch-punch-kick-lunge. Throwing up would throw off my rhythm, just when I’d finally gotten the hang of it. Finally.

I bounce and kick and jog and squat and all the time I’m thinking, “I’ve been doing this over a year now—when does it get easier?” The questions won’t stop—when will my legs stop begging for mercy a third of the way through the leg workout? When, for that matter, will I be able to complete the entire leg workout? When, if ever, will I not collapse into a puddle of molecular goo on the floor during the leg workout? And an even more important question—is it poor aerobic-etiquette to lie down on the floor and cry in the middle of the leg workout? They are questions for which there are no answers.

There are days—rare, but existent—when I don’t feel like I will die in aerobics class. Nausea-free days when I leave feeling like I’ve worked hard but I can still make it to my car without needing my three-year-old to carry me. There are even moments, rarer still, of victory over weakness. Heart-pumping, pulse-quickening, adrenaline-flowing moments. I am powerful. I am strong. I am Wonder Woman. I am She-Ra, Princess of Power. I am not going to throw up. It is short lived. Before long, I am a quivering puddle of goo again.

The cycle repeats itself ad nauseum. I feel stronger, I feel weaker. I increase the weights, I decrease them. I increase the reps, I decrease them. I increase the intensity moves, I decrease them. My weight comes down, my weight goes up. Nothing is constant. My strength. My endurance. My fitness level. My will power. No gains are permanent. I don’t like not permanent.

I like things that are done when you are done. Grad school, for instance. I graduated in 1998 and I still have my Master’s degrees. Once I completed the requirements, I was done. Once I was licensed, I was done. Once I was done, I was done. Sure, I have to do CEU’s, but I don’t have to redo the flippin’ degrees every year. I’m done. Exercise is never done. I want to get in shape and be done.

I want to come back after the three-week break and still be able to make it through class without collapsing. I want to make it though a workout all four weeks of the month, not just one, two if I’m lucky. I want my weight to level out and stay put. I want to invest my time and energy up front and then have it pay out consistent returns for the long haul. I want to get to a point where it’s easy. Where I’m coasting. Where I’m done.

I look around me at the other women in the room. Women in their 20’s. Their 30’s. 40’s. 50’s. Perhaps even older. Women in for the long haul. Women who get that this health and fitness thing is never done. I must be honest in questioning if I want to be one of those women. I have never been one of them before—this is a newfound persona, birthed out of the desire and need to lose weight. But therein lies the issue—it is always about losing the weight, never about maintaining. Health and fitness is about maintaining, and that has never been my strength.

When I step back from the dumbbells I can see I have made some gains that have not been lost. The ends of the weights say 8lbs and 5lbs now, not 3lbs. The bar reads 15, not 12. And my Monday class, which once threatened to kill me, has been conquered, thanks, in part, to the class that is yet to be slain. It isn’t easy. But perhaps, on a good day, it is easier. And with time and perseverance, it will slowly but surely become even more so. And, perhaps, that is the point. Some things are never done. But they can get easier with time.

I can only hope to God this aerobics class is one of them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Most of us collapse at the first grip pf pain. We sit down at the door of God's purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, "Enter inoto fellowship with Me; arise and shine." If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?
Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest