Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yes, I admit it, I am a card-carrying germ-phobe!

I am also not afraid to admit it and I am becoming more increasingly honest about my dislike of germs and disregard for sanitation the older my kids get and the more social they become. What spurred on this self-confession? Two things really. While making a trip to the potty at Costco yesterday I was in the middle of helping Campbell wash her hands, mid "Happy Birthday", when I watched a grown woman exit her stall and immediately leave the restroom without even casting her eyes in the general direction of the sink and soap dispenser.

First, I would like to say that the woman is lucky she caught me at the beginning of 2010, so soon after my resolution of "becoming a nicer person." Those of you who know me well know that I have hunted people down in my car for lesser social offenses and it's not pretty. I avoided my first instinct which was to publicly berate her, took a deep breath and chalked it up as stupidity and disrespect for herself and others. No, my resolution didn't stop me from keeping an eye out for her while shopping, and give her a "knowing look" when I saw her amidst the sweaters with a woman I can only assume was her mother, some mother, that's wrong, I don't know that for sure, but SERIOUSLY! I thought at least during the era of H1N1 and other global pandemic awareness, where we can't look at a public wall that doesn't have a sign reminding us to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough, that a grown woman would naturally wash her hands after using the toilet! Ewe!

Which brings me to the second reason for writing. I was on the phone with a friend today and we got on the subject of when to let your kids play with others or go to school after they have been sick. She works a few hours a week in the child care room at a local fitness center and expressed to me her frustration in parents who try to pull-one-over and drop off their sick kids for a couple of hours while they hit the elliptical machine. NOT COOL. Her poor kids, and she has three of them just got over a few days of the flu (which she wonders if they may have picked up from some kid at the center) and like a good citizen she is keeping them from their activities until everyone is in the clear.

This brings me to the subject of full-disclosure as it pertains to how my family interacts with others. If my kids are sick, I will not hang out with you. I will cancel any plans that I have made because I don't want them (or me) to get anyone else sick and more importantly to me I believe that laying low and getting some rest is super-important to recovery. I expect the same from family and friends prior to getting together. Yes, I want full-disclosure before we all start hanging out in the same room and our kids start hugging on each other. I would like the choice. If you know my children at all, especially Campbell, EVERYONE is her friend and being her friend means that you hug a lot and hold hands (and she picks her nose, because that's what 3-year-olds do) and sometimes likes to give kisses. Most adults do not engage in such physical affection with just about everyone which is probably why we manage not to get as sick as often as children. But that's what my kids do which puts them at risk for catching whatever bug is out there.

And what constitutes sick you might ask? Fevers for sure. I don't care about low-grade or what is emergency room worthy--if a head was warm enough that someone needed to consult a thermometer, and it read fever, then the body is surely fighting off something and I don't want it near us. Constantly runny-nose, check. Not something that I would shun an adult for because they use tissues and wash their hands (the ones with good mothers) but kids are like The National Enquirer when it comes to spreading filth, they manage to goober up everything in their path. If you need a real-life example you are welcome to babysit my son Jack and you will have all the proof you need in an hours time (although if you watch him for say 4 hours I would have time for dinner and a movie, just saying). Cough, check. Rash, duh. Vomiting and diarrhea not induced by alcohol or bad food; do you even need to ask? And I don't want to see you for at least 2 weeks after all that. Just kidding. I'm not crazy...one full week is sufficient.

Anyway, I feel like I do my part. I wipe down the carts at the grocery store. I use hand sanitizer in waiting rooms and spray down the equipment at the gym. During any give day of the week at the Crabb house you will find me armed to the teeth with anti-bacterial, sanitizing, disinfecting 99% of all the germs sprays, wipes, smoke-bombs, like some sort of part Dr. Oz, part Martha Stewart, part Rambo mom. No, but seriously, I am pretty conscious of hand washing and keeping things clean (clutter and organization is another matter) but clean is important. I have a good mother. And don't try to feed me the whole "you shouldn't wash your hands/whatever so you can build up immunity crap." That kind of backwards and indolent (in my opinion) thinking makes things worse for everyone. And don't get me started on MRSA or the immunization/vaccination debate.

Heavy sigh...I feel so much better now. Thanks for reading. I guess I just want to let everyone know where I stand when it comes to germs, sickness, and healthy practices where my family is concerned. So please, please, please wash your hands, shower in Purell, and you are welcome in our bubble anytime.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

If You're Happy and You Know It...

We like to sing A LOT around the Crabb house and for the past couple months the song of choice has been "If You're Happy and You Know It..." mostly because Jack cannot talk yet, or is just choosing not to speak, but he loves to clap his hands, so everyone is able to participate. Usually, when we get started the kids watch each other to see the other one's actions and a riot of laughter follows. Campbell also loves this song because we add silly verses that instruct us to do things like wiggle our bodies and pat our heads and for an almost 3 year old patting one's head is the height of physical comedy, second only to the sticking out of the tongue.

So a couple of days ago we were all in the kitchen and as Chad and I were scrambling to get breakfast ready one of us suggested singing a song as a distraction to buy us some prep-time. Of course we started singing our family anthem, but for some reason Jack was not joining in on the fun. Well, Campbell was not very pleased with Jack's lack of participation or attitude and said to him, "Clap your hands Jackie! You're happy and you know it!"

Jack started clapping. We had a nice breakfast.

I'm kinda over it

So as you can see my blog has changed. New background, layout, new pics, new vision. I have my friend Melissa to thank for the background changes, her blog is so cute so I went to the site that she got her background from and "voila," my blog is pretty. The professional pics were taken by Jana Fees, a local photographer (that Melissa knows, thanks again) who takes beautiful pictures because she loves it, and then gives you all the pics on a disc (so no pirating here). Anyway, if anyone needs a photographer she is as nice as she is professional and talented, I'm happy to pass on her info. As for further content I may be taking a new direction. All of my friends blogs inform everyone of what is going on with their adorable children (I am only friends with people who have adorable children), and anyway, when I read their blogs I laugh and smile. Yes, I am hilarious, and don't worry Grammy (my biggest fan) I will continue to write as I feel inspired to do so (in fact I'm working on a piece right now about how no one I know can get a babysitter, myself included), but my kids are amazing and the stuff they come up with is WAY better. I was talking to Chad on the phone today and when I told him I was changing up my blog, and that I may be finished ranting, and I said "I'm kinda over it," he replied, "Yeah, but you needed it." And that is true. And if any of this makes any sense to any of you then you will understand that when and if I "need it" again, you will be reading it. Until then, bring on the babies, baby!

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Girl I'll be your father figure..."

Oh who doesn't love a good George Micheal song reference(the title of my blog, for non-George Micheal fans). I loved that song when I was in Jr. High/High School, I still love that song, but I just looked up that words and wow, it's kind of naughty--I'm pretty sure young Maggie had no clue what she was singing and making up the words to. I digress, this blog is about "father figures," thus the goofy title--I tried looking up really good quotes and stuff from books like Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture (a MUST read for everyone in the WORLD), but then I started bawling reading it again so I'm keeping it light with a little George Michael.

So back to father figures. I actually started thinking about this blog way earlier in the week. Usually I just sit down and let my fingers do the walking but this one I actually thought a lot about, made some notes and well here we go...We each have a biological father to which we all have different experiences: good, bad, love, hate, great loss, unknown, happiness and joy, sadness and anger, indifference or a mixed-bag. Some are lucky in life to get more than one father through adoption or marriage or both. This blog however, is about those men and more. It's about the men in my life that whether or not they realized it have made an impact on me and have taught me some significant lessons. A few may read this, most will not but I still owe them my gratitude and this is one way of showing it. I hope for the rest I have been smart enough and thoughtful enough along the way to say thanks.

Okay, first up Dave Hammonds...most of you are like, "who the heck is that?" Well, to some he is also known as "D.P.H." or "Daddy," for most he is the General Manager of The Olive Garden in Springfield, Missouri where I worked in college. Dave is a good, honest, hard-working fellow who was privileged enough to have me as an employee when I was probably at the height of my independent, howling-at-the-moon stage. We had a love/"Miss Hill (my maiden name), I need to see you in my office," relationship. I sold a lot of glasses of vino and Chicken Parmesan sub fettuccine alfredo's for "Daddy" and for a college student I pulled a lot of hours...but Dave also put up with a lot of my college student crap. I'm sure it will bring tears of hysterical laughter to my best friend Lindsay's eyes remembering the day she waited outside the O.G. while I was having one of my meetings with "Daddy." We were both pretty sure I was going to get the axe, but instead Dave and I had a chat about how I was a good kid and good at my job but that I needed to show up on time. That was my problem back then (not that I still don't function on "island time" most days) I wasn't very punctual for my shifts. I was always within a few minutes of the time I was scheduled for, but I was a trainer and in a leadership position and one should be on time for work, period. In fact, it didn't matter then, and it doesn't matter now what position that you are in...Dave taught me that 90% of life really is showing up on time. If you show up, and do your job, you've got a good chance at succeeding. Thanks Dave.

Okay, so while I'm thinking about those years in the Ozarks I can't help but think about Jerry Gray. Jerry is my best friend Lindsay's step dad. I spent a lot of time with Lindsay and her family in those few short years and one can not help but to develop a fondness for Jerry. Jerry taught me two very important things: the world needs more people with a servant heart, and not everything can be flushed down the toilet. Surprisingly, in one particular instance these two went hand-in-hand. Jerry's a nice guy who is soft spoken (until you get him talking) and has a big smile and a big heart. He was always doing nice things for people, especially those less fortunate. I remember one time when Lindsay and I were visiting her family in Joplin and Jerry had recently cooked a turkey for needy family and had taken it to them. While we were there Lindsay's mom Kathy let Jerry know that he needed to get the pan with the carcass and drippings out of the garage and throw it away (they are very neat, clean people with a nice home and to this day I still have no idea why Jerry had left a turkey carcass rotting in the garage). Anyway, I think Jerry must have thought it best not to throw the drippings in with the trash. Instead, he decided to flush the rancid juices down the toilet that was just inside the house in the hall bathroom near the garage. The funny thing was that no one knew that that is what had happened. All we knew was that we heard Jerry come in, flush the toilet and go back to the garage. What followed was a stench reserved for dumpsters, garbage trucks and landfills finding its way to every corner of their beautiful home. My favorite part was the sheepish look on Jerry's face when he came back in the house and realized what had happened, he had basically let off a stink bomb in his own home. Yes, to this day I am very mindful of smells and much to my chagrin I have the nose of a bloodhound but more importantly I have always felt that the world needs more people with a heart like Jerry's. People who just role up their sleeves and do nice things for others without being asked and without the need for praise or thanks. We should still be sure to thank them anyway, so thanks Jerry for being you, I'm working on being a better me.

Speaking of step-fathers I feel the need to include my step-dad, Dewey. Dewey has taught me an important lesson in love. Let me try to explain. I have a big, extended family so I am well aware that sharing the same blood-line is not the definition or end-all to familial bliss. I also am very close to several people that I refer to affectionately to as "aunts" or "uncles" with whom I share no DNA and no marriage ties but consider family. I've also heard the saying "I love them as if they were my own" (meaning of the same blood). But I had never really seen that up close until I met Dewey. It's not the love that he has for Kristin and Dan who are his adopted children, my sister and brother. I know his love for them is just as deep as the love that my parents have for me. It's the love that he has for my children Campbell and Jack. I am still amazed at love that Dewey has for my children, his grandchildren. And they are his grandchildren. Maybe some of you are saying, "well, of course," but not so quick. I know people who have what they refer to as "step-grandchildren," and even though they are very fond of them there is still a line there, a separation. It's hard to explain but Dewey loves my kids as if I were the daughter he's always had. Does that make sense? I think it's a rare thing for people to love like this. You here stories about adults who find out that they were raised unknowingly by a step-parent whom they thought was their biological parent and treated them "as their own." Maybe I think it's rare and special because in our society the reverse is sadly, and so often more the norm...I'm really not sure, but what I do know is that it is the greatest gift he can give my children, his unconditional, undifferentiated love. He is their grandpa and they adore him and for that I am grateful. Thanks Dewey.

Well, it's time to write about grandfathers and I want to start with my Grandpa Hill, or Papa (pronounced Paw-Paw). My Grandpa Hill passed a couple years back and he had some really great qualities...he was kind of like Jerry in that he did nice things for people just because he thought it was the right thing to do. He didn't have a lot but he was always giving a lot. One particular thing that he gave this world was laughter. He taught me that laughter is a gift you can give to others. He was a prankster and a clown and I think that he was in agreement with Shakespeare that all the world is a stage. He was just downright silly. It didn't matter if he was with family in his home or hanging out with my Grandma Hill at Wal-mart he was always making someone laugh. One of his favorite audiences was children and one of his favorite props were his false teeth. Imagine being a small child sitting in a grocery cart in the check-out line of Wal-mart, probably mad and maybe crying because your mom has said no to everything you have asked for, and now you have a wall of candy staring you down with no hope of partaking in the chocolaty-goodness, and you've pretty much lost all hope of happiness and are facing a miserable car ride home, and you look to the check out lane next to you and there is this old goofy guy trying to get your attention, and all of a sudden he spits out his teeth. Forgive my run-on sentence but that's funny...and that was my Grandpa Hill. He didn't take himself too seriously and he wouldn't allow most people to either. He had a great self-deprecating humor that made people laugh and put them at ease. He was complete with funny little quotable saying like "We're off like a heard of turtles." He was even know to hide in a closet for extended periods of time just so he could jump out and scare the daylights out of someone when they thought the house was empty. One may scoff at such actions and think them too juvenile and too silly but I think the world would be a better place if more people thought silliness a virtue. In fact, I'm pretty sure the sun doesn't shine as brightly since he's been gone. He loved life and he loved to laugh and he loved making others laugh, too. When I actually think about it, and I would encourage you to think about it too, that's a pretty rare gift. I hope my kids learn how to be silly from me, I really do. Thanks Grandpa, I miss you.

Well, let's keep talking about grandfathers and talk about my Grandpa Russ. Even though he passed when I was going in to high school I have some really great memories of him. What he taught me about life that I would like to share with you though is this: you don't have to save the world to be someones hero, you just have to be yourself. My Grandpa Russ was a electrician by trade who got up every morning and put his pants on one leg at a time just like every other man. But it was the way he carried himself, and the respect that he commanded and that he showed others that made him larger than life. I remember being a child and sleeping on the couch or floor in the living room and waking up really early in the morning when Grandpa was going to work. I stayed quiet, pretending to be asleep and just watched what was his quiet morning routine of putting on his work boots and picking up his lunch box and thermos and walking out the door. It may seem mundane, but at the time (and I "feel" this way now) I felt like I was secretly witnessing a super-hero don his mask just before he goes off to save the world. He was a hard-working, down-to-earth man who loved his family and loved life. What you saw was what you got and he made no apologies...and he didn't put up with anyone's bull-#@%!. He was a good, authentic person and to everyone who knew him and loved him that made him 10 feet tall and bullet-proof. Have you ever felt like that about someone?

I am very blessed to have a large family and another grandfather; we call him Grandad Bob. Grandad has worked hard all his life, he has lots of great stories and anecdotes and one could sit and listen and learn a great deal from him. By the world's standards he is a successful person. Yes, he has a lot of great qualities to be emulated: he is wise because he chooses to learn, he is generous because he has been blessed and it is the right thing to do, he is a nice guy who is un-assuming and thoughtful, but I think that it is his integrity that I admire most. I'm not saying he is perfect, and he would be the first to tell you that he has made some mistakes. I'm just saying that Grandad is who he says he is, and he IS as good as his word. He also expects the same from others, which I think makes some people uneasy because most of the world doesn't operate that way. Most of us are a lot of talk and face time and incessant talking (myself included) and I think we would all do better and be better if we would slow down and make sure that how we act and what we do matched all of our talking. That, in turn, would probably lead to less talking and more listening and more understanding and ahhhh, what a wonderful world it would be. However, because integrity is not perfection in the sense that being honest with people( and ourselves) is not always what they(or we) want to hear means that people with integrity aren't always liked all the time. I think that is the problem with most of us people-pleasing types, we want everyone to like us, so sometimes we bend...when you write it out, and you say it out loud phony is really just phony, huh? Ouch. Well anyway, I respect Grandad for his integrity and I hope someday I will be know for mine...always a work in progress.

When I think about men with great integrity I also think about Larry Lawson. Larry was the father of my best friend from high school Tracy, who tragically passed away a few years back. Larry was a great man. He was quiet and kind, he was a great husband and father and he served God and others and his community. I spent a lot of time growing up in Larry's house but we were not particularly close in the sense of talking or interacting, but he still taught me some great lessons. You see, Larry's actions always spoke louder than his words. One of the greatest things that always impressed me about Larry was the patience with which he approached everything and how he always tried to do things right the first time. I remember watching him build the front porch addition to his house, and I remember how meticulous he was measuring and re-measuring before he made any chalk-lines or cuts, or drove a single nail. It took him quite a while to build that addition but when he was finished it was solid, quality work. It is still standing and I'm sure it will be a sound structure for years to come because Larry made sure it was done right. That was something he passed on to his daughters, too. Lisa and Tracy were always smart girls, but it was more than their intellect that made them great in high school, college, and grad school...they always worked hard, took their time and did things right the first time. What a great legacy to leave to your children and your children's friends.

That brings me to two other important father figures in my life. Two men whose legacies have a daily impact on my life, but whom I have never met...Allen Crabb and Roger Jones. Allen was Chad's father and Roger was my best friend Lindsay's dad. I never had the pleasure of meeting either of them but they have both taught me an important lesson: who you are as a human being and the memories made are the only legacy you really leave your children. This impacts them more than wealth or power because it leaves a deeper impression and shapes who they become. When I hear Chad and Lindsay talk about their fathers and who they were, and tell stories about them it all makes sense because I can see the qualities they describe in Chad and Lindsay. The good qualities that I hope will be carried on, like the passing of a torch to Campbell and Jack, and Tatum and Dalton (Lindsay's children). Qualities like honesty and working hard to achieve your goals, and compassion and a love for learning. The gift of ourselves and our love is the legacy we leave our children.

Well of course I am going to conclude by writing about the lessons my own father has taught me, which in 30 years there have been more than a few...but I would like to highlight two very important ones. The first one being to always say "I love you." That it is important to tell the people in our lives whom we care about the most that we love them. I guess it wasn't until my father was an adult that my grandfather verbalized his love for my dad, and this had a profound impact on him and the whole family. I've also known of other families where people didn't say "I love you," and even though they felt that there was love, there was still an unbelievable sadness and doubt that loomed. Anyway, I grew up in a home where we all confirmed our love for each other verbally on a daily basis, and I always felt loved and never doubted. Chad and I tell Campbell and Jack every day that we love them, and now as Campbell's speech is growing exponentially it has been one of the great joys of my life to hear her say, "I love you, Mommy..."
Most importantly my father has taught me that there is a God in heaven who created me and loves me just the way that I am. Yes, it's not a funny story but it is the most profound thing in my life...I think that is the greatest legacy that my father will leave me, the legacy to connect me with my faith and his love and the memories that we share. Happy Father's Day Daddy, dads, grandfathers and "father figures." Thank you for the lessons lived and taught, and for giving of yourselves whether you were aware of it or not. I love you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ummmm, let me bring you up to date

I last posted my views on love and stuff on Valentine's Day but here's what's been going on with the Crabb Family since then.

February: Was hella cold here in Iowa! So we thought we would go somewhere warmer like Springfield, Missouri and visit our best buds the Rice Family. Lucky for us they got their one snow fall and below 30 degree temps for the entire year during the very weekend we were there. Fourtunately though, we were also there to celebrate my best friend Lindsay's 27th birthday, so the cold became an after thought as we were basking in love, friendship and red wine. Campbell had a blast playing with Tatum and Dalton Rice and Jack loved being showered with attention. Lindsay and I had a blast doing what we do best...It is also very important to note that Chad and Dan Rice played on the Nintendo Wii ALL weekend, and that in all of the years of a friendship never wanting for laughter I don't know that Lindsay and I have ever laughed as hard as we did watching our husbands hula-hoop. It was a sight to behold, let's just say that next time I am getting video and then I am going to make millions riding the media circuit after the video hits U-tube. Of course you are invited Linds--you give great interviews!

March: It got a little warmer--and the kids got bigger. We played a lot, we danced a lot. Jack spent some quality time getting to know his walker and defending himself against Campbell's barrage of blankets and burp cloths that she threw at his head. Like always I made corned beef at cabbage for Saint Patrick's day, mmmmmm. I also was under the brief delusion that I was super mom and decided to take the kids downtown to the St. Pat's day parade by myself. It was a beautiful spring day which led to the biggest turnout ever. I knew I was in over my head when the semi rolled by blaring its deafening horn scaring the bejesus out Jack and causing him to scream until we basically cleared the premises and noise of the parade. And parades are REALLY noisy by nature. The trip back to the car was way longer and we all took naps when we got home. March became sad when my BFF Jess got promoted by the Von Monster and moved to Kansas City. For the last few years she has always just been a phone call and 5 minutes away whenever I needed her, she knows that blush is a must AND she understood my deep love for all things BBQ. I miss her a lot. But I've become a pro at long-distance relationships, ie. Chad and Lindsay, so Jess and I don't have to break-up...we just have to make the most of it.

April: Well, in case you don't watch the news, I turned 30. That meant drama, which beget more drama in the Crabb household ( I love you Chad). See, the thing is that birthdays have always been a big deal in my family. My father actually has gone as far as to practice "birth-month" at one point in time. Surprise parties with bands, luaus, trips to tropical places these things are not unheard of in my family as part of birthday culture, especially when the first number of your age is followed by a zero. Even as I write this I am basking in the after-glow of a birthday get-together last night for my step-dad Dewey. It was complete with extended family and a non-chain restaurant private room and he didn't even have a zero! So, when April came around I was totally psyched! Even though the "dirty thirty" (as Lindsay likes to call it) was staring me down, I was cool with the milestone because it meant that everyone that I love was going to get together and celebrate fabulous me and my fabulousness. You know the daydream sequence in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie fantasizes about getting his Red Rider BB Gun and he saves the day...yeah, silly me my birthday party fantasies ran that deep. The truth is that I couldn't even get a babysitter to watch our kids so Chad and I could just eat dinner at a local restaurant. Yes, there were some extenuating circumstances, and I'm not bitter, anymore, well maybe just a little. But turning thirty immediately granted me the wisdom of knowing who in my life really "gets" me and who loves me enough to turn a derailed fiasco into a good memory complete with a banner, balloons and a Top 30 playlist. I would now like to give a shout out to my husband for being awesome and supportive and for not having me commited and for being the best human being I know and I wanted to say thank you for trying to understand my craziness. I would like to say thank you to my best friend Lindsay for sending me a box full of presents that show that you understand who I am and what I like which meant more to me than the actual contents, but yes I kept them...and to my BFF Jess for taking me to a fun but disastrous lunch that led to the discovery that our favorite place to wine and dine was ran by jerks(that's being G-rated) to which we are never going again, oh, and for listening to my horrible singing...and my brother Henry for going through what he did to dig the original Nintendo and games out of the storage unit and gifting it to me (and Chad for fixing it)...and Jake and Mollie Mae (who understands) you guys are awesome and my good buddy April for hooking me up with a much needed spa treatment....um, I feel better now. We had a lovely Easter and had a nice family get-together, I got to put everyone in matching outfits and Campbell had a blast hunting for Easter eggs. Chad also won our family's Biggest Loser competition...he has been working his butt off since January and deserves lots of praise for his accomplishments. Chad also completed Waukee Leadership Institute in April. I am so proud of my husband, not only is he hot but he is smart and civic-minded to boot! At the end of April we went down to the Saint Louis area to see my dad for HIS birthday (no zero). Jack was teething like a madman then and was up all the time at night so we decided to stay in a hotel. This came as a suprising delight to Campbell who shares her mothers love of all things 'spensive. Campbell LOVED everything about the hotel. She loved that we all slept in one big room that had a big bed to jump on, and a TV that she could reach so she could turn it on and off a ba'zillion times. She loved the breakfast buffett and running down the long halls. She also loved planting flowers with her Grandpa Bob and hanging out with Grandma Di and Great Grandma Hill. It was good to see everyone and we had a nice visit, I hope my Dad had a good birthday. It took us like ten or eleven hours to get home (usually 6 1/2), the children were conspiring against us,complete with a blow-out from Jack which led to a 45 minute clean-up at the greatest Walgreens EVER! All happy memories now:). Yeah, April was a wild month.

May: Well, on May 1st the kids and I drove around town delivering May baskets to family that we had made at the library a couple days before. It was super fun. Chad managed to avoid jury duty the second full week in May that was looming over our heads like a dark cloud threatening to destroy my dreams of seeing Billy Joel and Elton John in concert with him. Last year he missed going to Billy Joel with me because of an out-of-town business trip and I was afraid I was in for a repeat performance when the jury summons came. Fortunately everything worked out at Chad and I were off to Omaha on a Tuesday night to see the Piano Man and the Rocket Man. It's one of the greatest joys of my life that Chad and I are the best of friends and genuinely enjoy eachothers company, at least that's how I feel. It doesn't matter if we are playing scrabble or rocking out to "Only the Good Die Young," we have a blast. I had such a good time with him, the concert was awesome, we heard so many of our favorite songs performed by two living legends of Rock...but the best part was being there with Chad. Jack started crawling, clapping and climbing stairs. He follows Campbell everywhere, it's so cute. She looks at him and says, "Come'on Jackie let's go," and he is right behind her. He's also pulling himself up and cruising around which has led to lots of bumps and bruises. Watching him clap his hands is so cute, everytime he hears a song or even a rythmic beat he starts clapping and bouncing. He's actually got a great sense of rythym, something he certainly did not inherit from his mother. Chad competed in the Des Moines Dam 2 Dam half-marathon at the end of the month. He's been training for it for a few months now. We all had a great time watching him and he did awesome! He's continuing his training and looked towards running in the Des Moines Marathon in October. Memorial Day weekend was great! We had our friends Seth and Angie over for dinner, scrabble and a Mario Brothers match between Chad and Angie on Saturday night. Way fun. Spent Sunday working on refinishing Campbell's bedroom furniture and on Monday night Chad and I went to see Jake's band Douglas Acres play a benefit concert for the families of fallen soldiers. It was for a great cause and they were good as always.

June: So far so good. Campbell is potty-training. Wow, this definitely tests my patience, parenting abilities, and senses of modesty, tact and humor. My urge to vomit upon seeing all the yuckiness is lessening...I know that some mothers are unflinching rock stars when it comes to changing diapers and other smelly baby/kid unpleasantries but I fall into the ranks of those that would prefer to put on a full hazmat suit before any such endeavor. Fortunately for me, Campbell does not like messes. She's not one of those angels that plays with their poop and smashes it in to the carpet. The trade off though is that she is very independent, so we have to keep a careful eye that she not attempting to do things by herself because it inevitably leads to a mess regardless of cleanly nature. Chad and I have both discovered that we already have "Potty Power" and are so familiar with the DVD of the same name (because Campbell wanted to watch it twenty times a day for two weeks) that I checked out from the library that we now have all of the songs memorized. I used to think it sucked when I couldn't get the theme song from "Go Diego, Go," out of my head, but with chart toppers like "Wipe Your Bottom," and "I'm Proud To Wear My Underwear," pinballing in the playlists of my mind...I've got to admit I miss that chorus of jungle animals chanting and singing in my head. I also don't like surprises (unless it's for my birthday) so I have purchased a couple books on the subject of potty training. But SURPRISE, would you believe that my kid doesn't follow all of the rules in the book? She's not aware that potty traing is liken to the Mambo? So I'm back to square one: doing the best that I can. The books do give some guidance though, it makes me feel better to read that it takes some kids months, some years to get this potty training thing down. My gut tells me that my daughter is a smart kid that values playing and dancing and chasing her brother way more than sitting on an uncomfortable toilet seat, yeah, she's a smart kid. My life experience and common sense has led me to believe that she'll get the hang of it eventually. When I give it even the slightest thought I come to the conclusion that even the dumbest of the dumb dumbs that I know and have known are potty trained. Some of them can't even legibly write their names, carry on conversations or hold down jobs but they manage to make it to the can on time, pull down their britches and do the deed all by themselves. The hand washing part is questionable but the point is that if someone that is dumber than a bag of hammers is potty trained then my brilliant little princess will put two and two together in her own time. Therefore from this day forward I am leading a new revolution of mothers, we shall call ourselves the "Potty Pressure Resistance!" Our mission will be to allow our children to grow and learn as their bodies and minds allow them, without forcing and frustrating them (and ourselves). We will also swear an oath not to judge, undermine or belittle other mothers and their parenting abilities based on the performance of their children as graded by some wacked-out 1950's, Tom-Collins imbibed, super-momaholic, baby racing, Spartan-moms. I'm not saying these women don't have the best of intentions but COME ON, we are supposed to be enjoying life...and our children...and they are supposed to be enjoying life. Live and live; don't hate, celebrate! If you are interested in joining my cause let me know your T-shirt size...cause that's like a must for any good organization, a kick-$@% T-shirt.

Okay I'm spent, more to come, I've got to go put Campbell on the potty for a while...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Love and let love

Inspired by Valentine's Day I must write. I cannot tell you all about my Valentine's weekend because honestly you would all just be jealous. Let's just say Chad can make a mean chocolate souflee. You're jealous already aren't you...enough said.

Moving right along. You know what I love about love? I love that love is relative. Each of our encounters with love is solely dependant on our personal encounters and situation in life. Our loving is based on our connections with the people around us; it's unformulated, unscripted and unique. Our stories about love, who we love, falling in love, how we show our love, and all that love stuff are as different and special as we are.

Love, mush, blah, blah, blah--wow Mag, that's really beautiful, but what's your point?

My point is that the whole "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told" stuff is crap. Every time I hear that phrase as a prelude to a book or movie title I have to roll my eyes because I'm thinking, "have these people not heard about me and Chad and Jimmy Buffett night?" To me, my love story is the greatest, ever, hands down. You can tell me your personal love story, sell it any way you like, but it will never trump mine (to me).

I've even read "Love Story," twice, and aside from being a tear-jerker full of socio-economical class discrimination, twenty-something angst, hockey and a terminal illness it was more depressing to me than a trip to Abercrombie and Fitch. (Disclaimer: "Love Story" is a good read, just not "the greatest love story ever told," in this person's opinion. Sorry Eric Segal.)

Now, before you question my authority on love I will clearly state my credentials. First of all, I am in fact madly in love with my husband and have been for the whole four years we have been married. Before you scoff, that is like a golden anniversary in L.A., okay, I would get a kick-ass party and a super sparkly diamond band for that matrimonial achievement. Secondly, I have read dozens of books on love and romance, everything from Jane Austen and Shakespeare to Danielle Steele and Judy Blume. I can quote Petrarch, Robert Browning, and Pablo Neruda. And when Delilah sends a requested song out across the air-waves, I know all the words (although the tune is a little pitchy). Thirdly, I have watched many so-called "chic-flicks" and before you judge me, I don't just watch the feel-good romantic comedies, I watch the hard-core, not so happy ending, off with her head period love stories, too. So back off, I know love.

Now that we have established my incontestable expertise on love I need to offer my professional criticism on an article that I was reading in a local magazine publication yesterday. It was about local "Love Stories," and I found it to be full of lies and it flat out pissed me off! This supposed professional journalist, who is obviously not a love expert like myself, interviewed a few couples around town. She asked them questions about how they met, how they showed their love to each other, and how they celebrated the ultimate love day, Valentine's Day. It was complete with cute little pictures. She practically served them up on a silver platter etched with heart doodles as the ultimate symbols of love through the ages.

Well, I think these people and their love, and this hack who calls herself a newspaper woman are ridiculous. How could a journalist with any integrity write about love stories and not include the greatest love story ever that is about me and my beloved husband? Do they not know, have they not heard? I was reading the interview portion and thinking "who do these amateur lovers think they are?" They act like they've got the love market cornered; like their stories are so unique and special and...yep, then I realized, it's all relative.

Of course they think their love story is the greatest, it's theirs. The bond and history that these lovers share and live is what connects them to the universal idea and act of loving. So what if they believe that sending flowers the day before Valentine's Day is an original idea. Who am I, as a bonafide love expert, to try and contradict what they believe in their hearts to be absolute? Love and let love. As for the journalist, she needs to get her facts straight and when she wants to write an article on the "greatest love story ever," she can give me a call.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The more things change...

so this is my first attempt at blogging...Chad has been telling me for a while now that I should do this, and then I was reading my friend Lindsay's' blog earlier and was officially inspired enough to act. So here we are.

Today is pretty uneventful. We woke up (Campbell, Jack and I), had breakfast, which satiated Campbell's new addiction to blueberries and started playing. As I write Jack is lying on a blanket surrounded by toys that Campbell has brought to him. I'm almost certain that if it weren't for his wanting to chase after her, as well as human necessity, he would never have to learn to walk because Campbell would bring everything to him. They are so crazy about each other. It's my new favorite thing to watch. Jack listens intently to her voice; follows her every move with his big blue eyes; and when their eyes meet...he gushes giggles that melt your heart. It is by far the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Tear. And about tears. Anyone who knows me knows that yes, I am a crier. I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I laugh, I definitely cry when I am mad or sad. I cry every Christmas when that darned Folgers coffee commercial comes on. You know the one where Peter walks through the door on Christmas morning just as the angelic little blond girl is coming down the stairs wearing a nightgown that I'm pretty sure she stole from the set of Little House on the Prairie (this commercial has been running for many years). Anyway, a cab pulls up to a perfect white colonial,Peter walks in, shakes the snow off, embraces baby sticky-fingers Barbie, and after the rest of the family wakes up and is over come with joy, the all have a nice, hot, steaming cup of Folgers coffee. Complete with plaid Christmas mugs. I'm bawling like a baby as I write this (not really), darn you Folgers and your good-smelling coffee!

So back to me and crying. This one time in college, Southwest Baptist University to be exact (I officially attended 3 schools, but who's counting) I woke up on a sunny fall morning in not so quiet desperation. It was probably about 7am and I had my first Spanish test of the semester at 8am. The problem was I hadn't even cracked the book yet and there was no time to cram since I lived in an apartment with my friend Lindsay which was 45 minutes away from where I went to school. Technically it was Lindsay's apartment. I had my own place in the town I went to school in. I just preferred to sleep on her black leather couch with my bedding, sparse belongings, and Mr. Bunny piled in the corner next to the entertainment center for 2 1/2 years. Anyway, back to the dilemma then at hand. I knew Lindsay was quite the linguist when it came to good ole' Espanol (she spent a lot of time before I met her hanging out in this one Mexican restaurant's bar drinking margaritas and listening to some guy named Alan Ross sing and play guitar, I don't think that's where she learned Spanish, but it helped her polish her skills). So I woke up Linds and begged her to help me study for my test by riding to the university with me and quizzing me during the 45 minute drive. I assured her that the only class I had that day was Spanish so we would go there, I would take my test, and then immediately go back home. I probably also promised her something really awesome like a pack of P-funks and lunch at Ryan's Steakhouse, too. Whatever I said I don't remember, but she agreed to help me, we threw on some clothes, and we were on our way.

For 45 minutes we drove up and down highway 13 from Springfield to Bolivar, Lindsay quizzed me over Spanish vocabulary and we laughed so hard I cried. I still remember that the sun was so bright that morning that even with my sunglasses it was hard to see without being blinded. Once we arrived at the building where my Spanish class was held I showed Lindsay where the ladies restroom was, took off my sunglasses and walked into class just in time to sit down before Senor Goss handed out the test. I don't remember much about that hour in which I took that Spanish test except for two distinct things. The first being that every once in a while everyone in the class would look towards the door and the hallway when they were grossly interrupted by the sounds of what was obviously some girl yacking in the bathroom (and no, it wasn't flu season yet). The second thing I remember and will never forget is the look on my instructors face when I turned my test in to him. He looked sort of puzzled as I handed him my best shot at B.S.-ing in Spanish (if that is even possible) and asked "Ms. Hill (my maiden name) are you okay?" Puzzled by his puzzled look I assured him I was fine, grabbed my backpack and headed towards the ladies room.

Well you don't have to be Dick Tracy to figure out that yes it was Lindsay who was making all of the noise, and that we had gone out to the clubs the night before hence the lack of studying, and hence the puking. However, unless you are Paul Harvey you are probably still wondering "why the funny look from the professor?"

Well, if you knew us back in our "Dirty Pop" days, as I like to call them, you would know that going to a club for us was more than hanging out and dancing. It was an evening full of such ritual and glamour that I am pretty sure Hollywood back in the day was crazy jealous of our rock star lives, Franzia and all. It took us hours to apply tons of make-up (the black cat-eye was especially popular with us) and glitter the likes of which would rival any show on the Vegas strip; perfect hair like you would not believe, I could style my hair so that it wouldn't move for 3 days (true story, just ask Lindsay) no dance could disturb my indestructible coif; and as for clothes...Bob Mackie would have been proud.

So on that gorgeous, sunny fall morning as we were rushing to get me to class, hangovers and all, Lindsay and I just threw on our clothes and donned sunglasses over our still too-made-up faces from the night before. And un-beknownced to me as I was laughing so hard I was crying (ah, the crying) my black-cat-eyed make-up was melting and pooling under my sleep-deprived eyes. So when I took my sunglasses off as I entered the classroom right before the test there was no time for anyone to clue me in on the fact that I looked like a Gene Simmons ready to rock out at a Kiss concert...tragic. And that my friends is why Senor Goss was so concerned, bless his heart he probably thought I was just really upset about something, "she was probably worried about her Spanish test..."

When I walked into the bathroom to collect Lindsay and finally looked in the mirror we had quite the laugh. We still do. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you don't think like me, I was too young to be embarrassed. I still am (too young to be embarrassed), or I wouldn't be telling this story.

Well the more things change, the more they stay the same--it really is true. I still haven't learned some lessons, take yesterday. Yesterday afternoon I found out that my friend Jess was moving to Kansas City for work. I was selfishly devastated for about an hour, put the kids down for a nap, went to my room and cried until I starting thinking about what a great opportunity this was for Jess and how proud I was of her. Then I perked up, got up, let the kids out of their rooms because neither one was sleeping, and decided it was time for a dance marathon at the Crabb house. Just as Rusted Root was sending us on our way the door bell rang, I grabbed Jack in mid moon-walk (just kidding, Jack's not a big fan of Michael Jackson) and headed for the door. I peeked out the window and saw that it was the Fed-Ex guy. Knowing that he came bearing Billy Joel/Elton John concert tickets I opened the door with more enthusiasm than a Miss America contestant talking about world peace. I was all smiles rocking Jack on my hip while signing the electronic pen pad...so excited to open my package. It's been really cold here so I made it a point to tell him to stay warm as I flashed him one more smile of gratitude for being so kind as to brave the cold to deliver me awesome concert tickets (hello, it's his job!).

And then as he was walking away I realized he was giving me a strange look. I had seen this look before...Oh, no! It was the same look Senor Goss had given me that morning of my Spanish test many moons ago. I plopped Jack in the pack n' play and headed strait for the bathroom. Sure enough, it was Gene Simmons all over again, I was Gene Simmons all over again. After my boo-hoo fest over Jess moving I had failed to look in a mirror, and had no knowledge of the fact that my mascara was everywhere on my face but my eyelashes.

So what have I finally learned from all of this? Well, I have learned that I cannot count on a two-year old and a newborn to tell me that my make-up is smeared or that there are boogers hanging out of my nose. I have learned that waterproof mascara may be the way to go, although I have never found one that I am in love with. And I have also learned that if I am going to remain as sensitive as I have been for the rest of my life, and the odds of that are pretty good, then I really should make it a point to look in a mirror once in a while.

Whew! One down, many more to come...