Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Friend Rachel

This past weekend was my annual visit with my friend, Rachel. Rachel and I graduated from high school together. We didn't have any classes in common but for some reason, during my senor year, Rachel kind of latched on to me and my friends. She started talking to us in the halls at school and even calling us at home.

At the end of the summer after graduation, I had a barbecue and invited Rachel to attend. She came and stayed as far away from the other guests as she could get, but later claimed she'd had a great time. She was a little shy and embarrassed. I've learned that Rachel loves to just be somewhere with people and doesn't need to actually interact with them to have a good time.

Over the next several years, Rachel would place an annual phone call to my mom to get my current phone number and then call me out of the blue to see how I was doing. Hearing her, "Hey, Stranger!" on the other line always made me laugh. This girl should work trying to find missing persons! Her friendship followed me everywhere!

When I moved to Maryland nine years ago, her phone calls started to become more consistent. I guess it's easier to keep track of someone when they keep the same phone number for more than a semester at a time. Now, Rachel calls me about 3-4 times a day. I don't actually talk to her that often, as I am sometimes out or in the shower or otherwise occupied when she calls, but I do chat with her daily. We don't talk long, just a minute or two.

A few years ago, I decided to invite Rachel to come and visit for the weekend. That first year, I was so stressed in planning something entertaining to do every minute of the four days she was here, but I soon realized that just sharing my family and life with her was all the entertainment she needed or wanted. That, and a trip to the mall for a cookie and soda.

When she's here, Rachel is a great help. She sweeps the kitchen floor for me after dinner. She entertains my kids like only a fun aunt could. She chases, tickles and reads to them. She brings them little gifts from her local Goodwill store. In short, she dives right in like she is one of the family.

This year we were planning on going to the MD Renaissance Festival with Rachel (we've taken her before and she loved it) but the weather was awful, so we didn't go. Instead, we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and had a great time viewing the dolphin show and looking at all the marine creatures.

What do I love most about Rachel? It's hard to say. Maybe it's the way her face lights up when I tell her that I'll take to her McDonald's for lunch. Maybe it's the way she delights in watching a movie with me in the family room, "Just us girls, right Mendy?" Maybe it's how she maintains such a happy disposition in spite of having a life that has dealt her several terrible hands. Like I said, it's hard to say.

One thing I do know: I love Rachel; her heart is pure. And while I don't think that I'm a good person because I am her friend, I do think that being her friend has made made me a better person. I appreciate all the best things in my life a little more when I share them with Rachel. And I'm grateful for her persistence in making and keeping our friendship.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Teensy Turns 5!

Well, my Teensy is now five years old. On one hand, it's hard to believe that my raven-haired, sweet-tempered baby girl is now a five year-old Malibu Barbie look-alike. On the other hand (if you know her personality at all, you might see where I'm coming from here), I feel like she should have turned five long ago. I used to say she's four going on seventeen. I guess now she's one year closer to her "real age."

Just this morning, Teensy asked me why I wanted to name her Marlee. Here's the scoop: I thought it was a cute name. That's it. Michael and I used to watch "The West Wing" on TV and Marlee Matlin was a frequent guest star. I read her name on my TV screen often enough that it really won me over. It's no secret that Michael was more smitten with the name "Mallory" when I was pregnant, but in the aftermath of her speedy delivery his pity and love for me were great enough to give me my first choice for her name. Teense's middle name is after my paternal grandmother's middle name (and she got it from an aunt). Oh, how I love that woman, as does Teensy.

Batman has Robin. Fred has Barney. The Lone Ranger has Tonto. Teensy has Selena.

Here's the thing about my Teense: she's beautiful. She has gorgeous corn silk hair and blue eyes (just like the great-grandmother she's named for) and adores both of those physical characteristics about herself. When she was a baby, strangers would stop me all the time to tell me how beautiful my baby was.

But she's more than just a pretty face.
She's delightful. She loves to cuddle; she loves to shake her hips. This girl is as smart as a whip! She loves to learn. I've never had a child give herself "homework" before and scold herself for not doing it perfectly. That said, she is quite a perfectionist. I have to remind her constantly that everyone makes mistakes when she is learning something new. She watched me tie one of her shoes about a month ago and hasn't allowed me to tie her shoes for her since. She catches on to things very quickly.

She's very daring about trying new things, but if someone new tries to talk to her she will hide between my legs whispering her fears to me. Showing her wild side at the pool, her favorite activity this summer was having her daddy throw her over his head:

Teensy loves to sing and dance; she holds the family high score in bowling on the Wii. A lover of all things girlie, she can't get enough lip gloss or hair accessories. I never thought I'd get her out of the bathroom the morning I taught her how to use a second mirror to look at the back of her own hair. I don't know which she loved more, learning to use that mirror or her more recent discovery that stores actually let you try on clothes in a dressing room before you buy them. Like I said, it's like she's seventeen or something.

Of course, we are hoping that she still doesn't suck her thumb when she's seventeen. When she was a baby I did some research and it indicated that 95% of thumb-suckers stop before they turn five. My Teense is more on the extra-ordinary side of that statistic, I guess. And I really don't mind. If my little girl is going to be so grown up in so many ways, I'll let her be shy when she feels like it and I'll let her suck her thumbie when she needs it. Of course, I'm willing to accept donations for her orthodontia fund...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Name Game

When I was writing Maia's birthday post, I was reminded of a funny story that happened to me last Christmastime. I never posted it here before, and some of you may have heard it, but I think it's a good one.

I was in Game Stop purchasing extra Wii controllers the day after Christmas. The line in the store was ridiculously long so I was there for a while (like I was in line for over 45 minutes). Thankfully, I was shopping sans children. The mother behind me was not so lucky. As you can imagine, the long wait was making some of the little folks in the store crazy. Before long, I heard the mother behind me say, "Maia, stop that!" to which her daughter responded, "It wasn't me, Mom. It was Marlee!"

I whipped around in amazement. "You have daughters named "Maia" and "Marlee?" I asked. The poor woman couldn't understand why I was so surprised. "Yes," she responded. "So do I," I explained. (side note: we didn't discuss spellings and, frankly, I assume her girls' names are spelled differently than mine, but the key here is the pronunciation.)

We laughed and started chatting some more. As it turned out, we both had four kids. She had her oldest three with her. She put her arm around her son and introduced him, "And this is my son, Mason." My eyes just about bugged out of my head, "Shut up!" I said. She looked at me like she didn't believe me; I honestly think for a minute that she didn't. I assured her that I, indeed, have a son named Mason, brother to Maia and Marlee. It was unreal!

I whipped out a photo of my kids from my wallet and showed her and her kids their white counterparts. Her fourth child's name was "Maddox" so we didn't have that last bit in common. But can you believe this? What are the odds that I would randomly meet some lady who named 3/4 of her children with the same names as 3/4 of my children? I'm no statistician, but I'm guessing pretty slim.

The thought did cross my mind to introduce myself formally to the woman, but I refused to act on it. I mean, if ever I was going to randomly meet another "Mendy," I think it would have been that woman. And we all know I am just not ready to meet someone else with a the same name
I have.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday, Maia!

My first-born has forever left the single digits behind; she's practically a woman now. I don't know that I've ever felt so old!

My Maia's brain is amazing. She is very detail-oriented. If she tells you about an episode of The Wizards of Waverly Place, Pucca or another of her favorite shows, get ready to listen for a full twenty minutes. She will recite all the dialog, almost verbatim. It's amazing (and more than a little time-consuming). Her working memory is astounding.

I love her sense of humor. The girl is a nut! She is a silly thing. She is also very compassionate. She tries to put an end to anything she perceives as injustice (this sometimes gets her into trouble with her parents when she butts in while we are discipling one of her siblings).

When we were expecting Maia, my Michael and I couldn't agree on any names. We did find out in advance that she was a girl, so we knew we could narrow our search that much. Somehow, that didn't help. I liked Emma; Michael liked Emily. We just didn't see eye-to-eye on any names. Then, one day we were sitting in good old Carousel Ice Cream in Provo, eating our 1/2 sandwich specials, and I suggested "Maia." Michael thought I was kidding because he truly did not believe that I could have suggested a name he actually liked. I assured him that I was serious about the name. He tossed his napkin down with a "Now you're talking!" and the deal was done. We never discussed baby names again. We were so pleased that we found one we both liked.

I've never been a fabulous speller so I wasn't sure how to spell it. We were pretty poor and I didn't see the point in buying a baby name book when we already had a name, so I went into a maternity store and opened one of the books lying by the check-out. That particular book listed "Maia" first, in bold, followed by "Maya," "Myah," "Mya" and other variations. I actually thought I was not being difficult by choosing the spelling I did. Of course, now I know that "Maya" is the much more popular spelling. Whatever. I still like Maia's spelling. Little did I know that I was naming her a super popular name. Our neighbor two doors down has a Maya and last year there was a Mi'a in her fourth-grade class!

For her birthday this year, Maia was pleased to receive 2 games for her newly-self-purchased Nintendo DS Lite (all her money went to purchasing the actual device and she had none left to get any games to play on it), a case for said DS and a graphic novel (comic book--I mean, really, what is the difference, people?) called Rapunzel's Revenge. She couldn't be more please with her loot.

I love this girl! She is so open and innocent. I appreciate her willingness to help me and her patience with her younger siblings. I'll keep her around for sure for at least another ten years!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Maybe you just had to be there...

Last night, I was watching a little CNN whilst folding laundry. My Michael was working on the computer, apparently distracted from my melodic voice and stimulating conversation. At any rate, Anderson Cooper was discussing Sarah Palin, Vice-Presidential Candidate for the Republican Party (in case you've been living under a rock). They showed some clip or stock photo of her and it occurred to me that she somewhat resembles an older Tina Fey. Can you see it?

Now, you have to know that Tina Fey is one of my Michael's Hollywood crushes (she's right up there with Dana Delaney, but that's not part of this story). Anyway, since my realization involved one of his dream women, I mentioned it to him. He dragged his eyes from his computer screen to the TV but his response was not quite what I expected. Here's how the conversation went:

I started, "Hey, Jorge, you know what? Sarah Palin kind of looks like Tina Fey!" Immediately, his face went a little sour; I could see he wasn't on board with my little discovery. He regained his composure and replied, "Yeah, only Tina Fey was always pretty ugly." I was really confused. I was thinking But you've always told me how hot Tina Fey is! I must have looked confused then, because Michael started to gesticulate to get his point across. He made big circle shapes with his hands and put them around his eyes in the manner of a raccoon and said, "Yeah, she always had all that eye make-up on and then she'd cry and the black would just run down her face..."

Understanding flooded my mind and tears flooded my eyes as I laughed so hard at this little misunderstanding. I couldn't even get the words out at first to tell him his error. My body was wracked with guffaws. Oh, it felt good. When I was able to come up for air, I explained that he was thinking of Tammy Faye Baker, not Tina Fey.

When he realized that what I had said was not what he had heard, he laughed, too. I couldn't stop the tears as they rolled down my cheeks. Oh, it was so funny! I'll not let him live this down for a good while. And I thank him; I haven't laughed that hard for some time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Naughty, Naughtier, Naughtiest

It's generally considered naughty around these here parts to be playing an electronic device without a timer on ("30 minutes and you're done for the day" is the rule. And if I catch you playing without a timer set, I will assume it's already gone off and you're done. No questions asked).

It's even naughtier to, say, sneak something like a Gameboy into your bed and play it in the middle of the night.

And naughtiest of all, I would have to say, would be playing a Nintendo DS, a Gameboy or a Leapster in the middle of the night party-style with two other siblings and
making noise loud enough to actually wake up your father from a dead sleep.

Yes, dear friend and devoted reader, that is what happened in this very house last night. My Michael awoke to some noise around 4:30 a.m. and when he went to investigate it, he discovered Mason, Maia and Marlee having a little get-together in Maia and Teensy's room. Each of them was playing some kind of electronic gaming device. (Rest assured, those have been confiscated until further notice.)

Here's the miraculous thing: not one of the children woke up one of his/her siblings! Do you believe that? Neither do I. Do they really think I am going to believe that the three of them awoke independently, simultaneously in the middle of the night and started playing with those toys? And what, Mason sleepwalked into his sisters' room? **Grr**

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill