It CAN Be Done

February 21, 2011

In honor of President’s Day, we took a family field trip up to the Reagan Presidential Library. The weather was beautiful, the setting divine, and the president’s day-themed activities were all on point. We enjoyed the walk through of Air Force One and looking at the other presidential vehicles of the time.

While we waited for our timed-entry (3:30 — two hours after our arrival) we spent a lot more time on the grounds than we would have if we had immediate entry. When we came across the piece of the Berlin Wall I lined up the children to take a photo. Afterwards I tried to explain to the children just what the Berlin Wall was. I stared at my sweet young children in the shadow of this concrete menace and I was turned to rubble before my first sentance was over. How do you explain something like that to the innocent?

Truly this was my trial run for the day I take my children to Pearl Harbor.

The photo I took of the Berlin Wall has my children in front, so I’m using instead a photo representing the Cold War section from inside the museum. (As always, there are photos with faces posted privately on flickr.)

I expected a day of education, light history, and a pastoral setting. The craft tables for the children where they decorated their own tri-cornered hats and made penny necklaces were fun. Meeting Abraham Lincoln (a friendly reinactor!) was a bonus.

We also listened to George Washington (a self-possessed drip of a reinactor,) a nice opportunity to sit down and watch my six year old shine. After George’s oration he opened for questions and Little Red waited patiently for about twenty minutes with his hand in the air, waiting to ask the first president of the country a question. With the intervention of a museum docent he was finally called upon. His question? “Why is this place called Los Angeles?” He was brushed off with a muttered “well that was after my time. I think it means City of Angels. Now … where was I? Oh yes, Valley Forge…” Little Red, all pluck and no shyness, allowed George’s lack of manners to roll off his back and we moved on to the next thing. He wasn’t interested in a photo op later, though, “I’d rather have my photo taken with the REAL George Washington.” I am so proud of this kid!

We also visited President Reagan’s Memorial. I was very touched by the enscription:  “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”  Partisanship aside, there was a lot of good in that museum.  I came away inspired by a man who would have on his desk a reminder of the possible:  It CAN Be Done.



February 20, 2011

I wish you could have seen the look my doctor gave me when I asked, “so did I get this by talking too much?”  I wasn’t trying to be glib, at that point I honestly didn’t know what I had done to aggravate my TMJ. As far as I know I don’t grind my teeth, I really couldn’t think of anything I had done to hurt myself. I didn’t chew gum very often (once or twice a week?) and I hadn’t had anything overly chewy (it’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve had octopus.) As for clenching, isn’t that something that people do when they’re really stressed out or angry?

Well it turns out that clenching your teeth is anytime when your mouth is closed and you have closed your jaw as well so your teeth touch. A mouth closed and at rest should have a small gap between your teeth. Once I discovered that I was a little surprised this hadn’t happened sooner.

I have had very few dental procedures in my life, and have benefitted from never needing braces. Many years ago, when discussing orthodontia, someone mentioned to me that if I had grown up in his neighbourhood I’d have had braces, meaning that there was still something to fix. In truth, I always felt that I had the teeniest of overbites, thinking that my front teeth needed to line up and touch each other instead of sliding in front/behind each other with the width of a fingernail to spare.

So I did what any illogical person would do, and I set out to correct this abnormality with free braces. Basically, whenever I thought of it I’d jut my lower jaw out so that my bottom teeth could very gently pull back my upper teeth and eventually my teeth would line up with what I thought was perfect alignment. I’ve been doing it for years, and the unnatural and constant state of unrest finally caused the membrane in that ball-and-socket joint to tire and become inflamed.

In the early stages, in the middle of last week, I actually thought I was getting an ear infection. But without a fever or any other symptoms I was a little stymied. Within a few days the fullness in my ears cleared and I couldn’t close my jaw completely on my right side. So long as I didn’t have to chew I had no problems. I promptly set an appointment with my doctor; I was almost certain it was my TMJ but needed to pay my copay ($20!!!) just to hear her tell me it was that and nothing wierd — I’ve had too many friends come up with wierd stuff these days.

With no pain, but just a lack of full mobility on the right side, she easily said it was my TMJ and nothing wierd. And now I need to rest. I’m feeling so much better, but I’m still having a hard time chewing my vegetables.

It turns out that if my teeth line up in the front, the molars don’t quite connect.  There’s a lesson in here somewhere, but my out-of-control-freak self is already thinking about the next imperfection.

Saturday Morning

February 19, 2011
Sometime around 5:30 this morning Boy Blue entered my room to lament to me that he couldn’t find Lando (a toy he’d taken to bed the night before.) When I opened my bleery eyes I could see that he had turned the light on in his room so I went quickly to turn off the light so Little Red could continue sleeping.

It was then that I realized that Boy Blue would not be able to return to sleep in his own bed.  I guess the little man is pretty strong when sufficiently motivated.  I followed him downstairs to try to resume my dream on the couch.  The thing is, why can’t he be motivated to do any of the things I want him to do?  And why-oh-why do children wake up earlier on Saturdays than on schooldays?

In Sickness and In Health

February 18, 2011

Monday was not much different than any other day, really. Little Red had a student holiday and I left the boys to watch tv while I participated in the Great Monday Morning Cleaning. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I made real progress from the previous week’s adventures.

I went to the doctor. We went to the park. I tutored. I had a mini mental celebration of my 6th blirthday. I made cookies.

Paul sweetly offered to cook dinner. I asked for something soft, that I wouldn’t have to chew much. We exchanged the truffles we had bought for each other. We talked about our first Valentine’s Day (he was in Hawaii and I in Idaho and I still remember what he sent me: some silly card with a frog on it, and the aloha shirt that I’ll never, ever give away and still sometimes wear even though it hardly fits anymore.)

Neither of us seemed to mind that we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for Valentine’s Day.

It could be, perhaps, that we’d already had a nice dinner (at a restaurant!  without the boys!) On Wednesday we went on a double date with his parents to Pizzeria Mozza, absolutely the best pizza you’ll ever have.

It could be, perhaps, that on Saturday night we left the boys with his parents so we could go see True Grit (in the theatre! by ourselves! a real date!)

Or it could be, perhaps, that he understood that even without pain I just wasn’t feeling well. After years of unintentional abuse my TMJ finally said last week “enough.” By Monday I didn’t have pain but I didn’t have full mobility (still don’t, actually, it’s amazing how even without pain, when something doesn’t work right it can affect your entire feeling of well-being) and that all I wanted was soft foods, sparse conversation, and to cuddle up to good tv. I may have felt one hundred years old when I told him all I wanted was “soft foods” for our Valentine’s dinner, but I’m glad to know that even when that’s a daily requirement, he’ll still love me. It sure is a good thing we love pasta so much.

N is for Nature

February 10, 2011
Our preschool group took a field trip to Stough Canyon for a little hike. The day was so clear that instead of looking down on a brown cloud we could enjoy the rolling Verdugo Hills. It was such a lovely day and the kids did a great job on our short hike up a steep hill!  I don’t know where all our pollution went, but I’m grateful for the great sky.

Oh Deer,

February 9, 2011

This weekend Paul was visiting his brother up in Utah for the blessing of the newest nephew. While talking with his sister-in-law’s brother, the Dermatologist, Paul happened to mention that he had recovered from erysipelas the previous week. Dr. Dermatologist got a classic deer-in-the-headlights look and stuttered a “where did you get THAT?!?” followed by “well, I guess now I’ve seen it all.”

Not the most reassuring thing to hear, but boy am I glad that Paul has recovered!

to: Wednesday

February 2, 2011

Dear Wednesday,

you’ve got a lot on your plate today. I have very high expectations. But I think you have it in you to be my favourite day of the week. I challenge you to impress me with what you’ve got. Starting … NOW!


Well, Wednesday, I didn’t do anything on that pesky to-do list except my marathon of “first Wednesday of the month” meetings. 

But — I mopped the floor and played the piano while Boy Blue was gone for preschool.  And I napped with him in the afternoon.  We didn’t get Little Red’s homework done but we’ll catch up today.  And I finally got caught up on the ironing. 

So thank you, Wednesday.  It was lovely.  I look forward to seeing you again next week.


Zen Mama