Group Healing

It turns out I have a fatal flaw. Could it be true you are asking yourself? I know, it caught me by surprise as well. In a startling turn of events, it seems I am basically a third grader.

I made this discovery today while I was communing with some llamas.  Oprah and Uma, is what I call them. They live just down the block from me and have quite the dramatic tuft of hair on their heads.

There used to be a Lucille, only now she is mysteriously gone. What happened to Lucille?

Before long those frizzy tufts of hair were inspiring some serious reflection. Llamas are such spiritual guides, I've always thought. The llamas and I believe that I may be suffering from emotional overexposure. Too often I walk around with my whole self completely exposed, right on my skin, like a layer of powdered sugar. My emotions just blow right off my arms in whatever direction the wind takes me, scattering myself all over everyone. Right into your face. Some people don't want powdered sugar in their faces, is the shocking truth.

I have a theory about this. I have a theory that possibly it is our greatest strengths that turn out to be our biggest weaknesses. So today the llamas and I discussed various ways for me to strike the right balance between who God created me to be, and someone who needlessly puts herself in vulnerable places.

Nothing conclusive yet, though I do have another appointment with the llamas tomorrow. What can I say? They are very bossy.


4 8 15 16 23 42

Today my brain parts are jammed up by Lost finales,
and by how good Matthew Fox looks in a tux.


How To Do A Thursday Right

I woke up very early this morning.  I rolled over to say good morning to Peter Pan, you know, as you do, and after I scratched his little velvet ears and played a drum roll on his ribs he reached over to my pillow and ate the hair elastic that had just slipped off of my hair. Just like that! Down the hatch.  I said to him, "Peter Pan, if you die today, it will be entirely your own fault."

I find I am saying that to him fairly often lately.

One of my dearest friends came to Moscow and today I got to eat a turkey sandwich with her that was the size of my head.  With cranberry cream cheese. As we sat down to eat her brother asked me, "Wow, are you hungry?" and I said, "I probably won't finish this," and then I did.

I played a rousing sonatina on the piano this afternoon, and when it was over the baby kicked me in approval. I thought this was rather nice.

Then I convinced The Holbs to take me and the dogs on a nice long walk through the neighborhood. We tried a route we've never taken and ended up in a giant field full of wishes. There were enough wishes in there to last you all summer. A person could really accomplish some things in there.

During a Grey's Not-Rerun commercial break we saw a preview for Eclipse, and then . . . I died.

And now I am going to go lie in bed and poke the fetus for a while, and possibly ask it what it thought about tonight's Grey's Anatomy, and was it as disappointed as I was when Lexi said I Love You to Alex in front of McSteamy? Because, seriously.


Jazzy, Tucker, Bonita, And Other Stories Of Laziness

Today I am mourning the loss of my fitness regime. Please, could you tell me, have you seen my will power? Perhaps it is in your back yard. Did you check the mail box?

I set out for a two-mile jog today but came home after kicking pebbles on the sidewalk for a scant mile. All day long I wished I was out running and then the minute I was there I felt like eating a slice of watermelon and tanning my freckles instead. My will power really is the rudest thing.

Though, had I not wimped out at the quarter mile mark today I might never have found out the real names of the three horses who live at my favorite house on D Street.  I was feeding them tufts of tall grass at the fence when two little girls in bright pink stopped to toss their hair and adjust their backpacks.

"Do you know their names?" the freckled one asked me, her braces sparkling in the sun. We were kindred spirits, me and Freckles, I could tell.

"Only the names I made up for them," I said.

I'd been calling them Estelle, all three of them, on account of Estelle is just the kind of name you would give to a classy horse.

"I know their real names!" she said. "That one's Jazzy, the brown one's Tucker, and that one over there is Bonita."

"Bonita," I said, letting it roll around in my will-powerless head as the horses nibbled at my fingers.

Then I handed the girls the last of the grass in my hands and I walked my lazy butt home and thought a little bit about purple lilacs.

There is something awry in my brain parts, is all there is to it.



Two parents, one sibling, and six in-laws later and this girl is ready for a nap.


About My Husband

In one of my lesser-brained moments, I told The Holbs last week that in honor of his graduation, he could have one whole week to do whatever he wanted. Be whomever he pleased! Climb every mountain!  That sort of thing.  But wasn't that a little hasty of me? One never knows what kind of mischief one's husband can get into when one's husband's brain has been fried. Nearly immediately after the words were past my face I wanted them back. What was I even thinking?

The Holbs rubbed his hands in glee and began immediately plotting all kinds of nefarious deeds.  Like, board games. Yuck.

Here is what The Holbs has chosen to do with his Manly Week of Whateverment.

Number One: Eat at the China Buffet.  Now, the China Buffet is located at the glamorous Palouse Mall, and is the kind of all-you-can-eat place that is empty nearly all of the time.  Their orange chicken is sort of a neon color and from the looks of things their shrimp has been sitting out all year. Obviously we have never eaten at the China Buffet because I value my spouse and his intestinal fortitude, and as a result, for The Holbs, the China Buffet has been like a siren song in the dark night of his soul.  Legend goes that last year, as The Holbs and his temporarily infertile wife walked the mall like old people past the empty China Buffet, where ghosts of steamy reheated paradise whispered sweet nothings to him from the buffet line, The Holbs declared that one day, ONE DAY, maybe when he had finished his last final, ONE DAY, HE WOULD EAT AT THE CHINA BUFFET.  He was so sure of himself that I had to agree. Obviously he was getting a glimpse into his future and it was some kind of prophetic moment for him. So, I said yes. By then I will likely be sick of him anyway, I mean, two whole years more of this nonsense?  Should he get a life insurance policy first?

And so on Tuesday when The Holbs triumphantly handed in his final final, he immediately marched himself over to the China Buffet at the mall for days-old reheated gyoza.  I obviously did not attend because of the fetus, who is really only interested in Mexican food these days, and who also has no need of salmonella or E. coli. (That is good parenting, and you can pat me on the back if you'd like to.)

The good news is, it is Thursday and The Holbs is still alive, leading me to wonder, was I wrong about the China Buffet all along?

This will require some soul searching.

Number Two: Attend Midnight Showing of Iron Man During Important Ghost Whisperer Reruns.  I did a little online research and discovered that the next time the Ion channel showed their bonanza five-hour Ghost Whisperer Rerun Extravaganza, it would be the episodes where Wife Beater Guy (1) gets his memory back, (2) kisses her romantically, (3) AND proposes!  Only but The Holbs in his Holbs Week Righteousness declared it to be an Iron Man night, with the wife to kindly be in attendance. So I was faced with two options. Do I go see the 9:30 Iron Man and appreciate the charm of Robert Downey Jr. and MISS THE BIG GHOST WHISPERER PAYOFF?  Or do I stay home by my lonesome with all of the lights turned on, jumping at every sound out the window and dragging the dogs into the bathroom with me, just so I can see a little already-married-people action?

I chose the Robert Downey. I still don't know if that was the right thing to do or not.

Number Three: Invite All Canine Family Members Back onto the Bed for Sleep-Time Snuggling.  At which time Barnaby promptly puked on the sheets in excitement.

On the plus side, I discovered a new hobby! The late afternoon when you're coming home from running errands is the best time to do it. Basically, you notice all of the dogs looking forlornly out of their living room windows. It is delightful. All of these dogs, in varying positions, staring out the window at you while you drive past, while you stare back at them. I particularly enjoy the taller dogs, whose heads reach just past the window. They stare at you longingly, these floating dog heads, with their muzzles sort of pressed up against the glass. But I have a special place in my heart for the little dogs perched on the backs of sofas. My one neighbor has twin poodles who cock their heads to the side at you in unison. Delicious.

(I got this idea one day when I had to drive past my house during criss-crossing errands and I saw Peter Pan straddling the back of the sofa, giving me the oddest look, like, Hey, don't I know that woman?)

In other good news, the garden center is open at the local Walmart, improving my quality of aimless afternoon wandering at least ten-fold.

The point to all this unnecessary information is thus: I am about to get too busy for any of you.

Tomorrow the hordes will descend upon our tiny hamlet for Brandon's graduation. My parents and my cute little brother, and The Holbsparents and his Holbsister and Holbsbrother, they are coming here to my once cute and decorated but now empty and soulless home that nobody is buying. And I have some THINGS to DO, so that is what I will be doing.

(Also, I looked it up and I don't think Moscow is actually a hamlet. Isn't that disappointing?)


How To Swaddle Your Infant

The fact is, our friend The Holbstron has never even changed a dirty diaper.  Isn't that something? The man knows nothing about babies.

The other night I decided to start by teaching him how to swaddle. To do this I needed a blanket, and I needed a volunteer. Barney is always willing. You never know when your Scottie is going to need a good swaddle, after all.

With Many Thanks To Barney For his Cooperation

Start with a blanket. 

Take your baby and lay him at the top left corner of your blanket. Take the right corner and wrap it over your baby's right arm, like this:

Now tuck that corner under the baby's body, nice and tight (the tighter the better).

Next, take the bottom corner of the blanket, pull it up to cover baby's feet, and tuck it under the top fold. 

Last, stretch the left corner over your baby and tuck it under him good and tight.

Now you are ready to pick up your baby!

What you do with him now is entirely up to you.

(Should I nurse him?)


In Which Mothers Day And I Bury The Hatchet, Or Die Trying

I have determined that for my husband's own good, he should no longer be allowed to buy gifts for people any more than five hours in advance of go-time. It is just too much excitement for him to handle.

See: last Christmas.

Yesterday he came home from studying and plopped himself on the couch next to me.

"How was your day?" he asked, knowing full well how my day was because he was with me for most of it, and also because my days are practically all exactly the same lately.

"Well, I slept in, and then you wanted lunch so we went out, and then you went back to study and I did laundry, and then now you are home, and in a little bit we will watch Jeopardy!, followed by House reruns, and then Grey's reruns, and then, if we're lucky, Ghost Whisperer reruns."

And then Brandon shouted:

"I just got you a Mother's Day Gift!"

And then he hid his face with his hands. "Why am I so bad at this?"

This is how the rest of the conversation went:

"Do you want to open it now, or do you want to wait until Sunday?"

"Well . . ." 

"Oh! Do we have any bacon?"

So, it is Mother's Day today. A pair of earrings in the baby's birthstone, and lots of kisses from the husband and dogs while I ate my breakfast in my bed in my undies. And then I got a call from my sister, who, in a Mother's Day Tragedy, had just broken up with her boyfriend (Mother's Day giveth and Mother's Day taketh away . . .).

But you know, even with a legitimate baby going on in here and the husband of a lifetime, I am just not sold on Mother's Day. Maybe Mother's Day is something I will have to be eased into slowly?

I mean, I may not have baby in my arms, but I am a mother. I was put here to mother. But also, motherhood is not for everyone, and a woman's worth can NOT be predicated on whether or not she is a mother (or even whether or not she is a good mother). That is too simple a summary for such a complicated gender.  And anyway, I don't know.

I suppose I just question what it even means to be a mother anymore. To have pushed someone out of your nethers, or to have someone surgically removed from your abdomen? Is that a mother? Or is it what you do that makes you a mother? Mothering a child, certainly -- but, any child? Your own child or does someone else's count? How old does the child have to be? And what about our dogs? Your little brother when he calls late at night?  Your own mother when she is not able to care for herself anymore?

I suppose I have a problem with the idea that just by getting knocked up you deserve some kind of recognition, and that if you haven't been that somehow you don't qualify.  But obviously this is coming from a sore place.

I think Mother's Day at church takes the cake.

"God must really love me to give me these children!"
"I don't think you can truly understand the Plan of Salvation until you become a mother!"
"Seeing my wife become a mother made me love her so much more than I could have before!"
"Blah, Blah, Sucks To Be You."


I suppose I will never bury this hatchet. So instead I move we make Mother's Day an all-inclusive holiday. Do you have a Mother's heart? Then this day is for you! I don't care if you are mothering a goldfish.



El Gran Feto

Once upon a time I used to speak Spanish. Seven years in school, thanks. Yeah, I'm impressive.

Then one day I married me a returned missionary of the Chilean persuasion and suddenly I was a hack. I would try to converse con mi amor but all of my words would come out jumpy, my conjugations all wrong, causing my Holbsgringo to look at me askance and sometimes even wince at the way I would butcher his glorious missionary language.

Okay, so I couldn't speak it very well. But, at least I could understand! 

"Speak to me in Spanish!" I'd ask, and then he'd rattle off some mumbo jumbo really fast and once I uncrossed my eyes I'd have to ask, "Mas demasiado, por favor?"

And then one day things degenerated to our current program, in which I ask "Te gustas?" as I display a lovely ensemble for church that I have put together out of the sparkles in my brain, and The Holbsenor replies somberly, "That is not what that means."

But lately I have been honing my skillz in another foreign language. A more better foreign language! That would be the foreign language of the Fetuses.

All day long I am receiving and interpreting messages that are sent to me from the great beyond of my belly button.  Just there behind the waist band of my jeans which only sort of fit, if you don't look too close.

My fetus sends me highly important and confidential transmissions on the daily. Things like:




and just once,

Dance party!

Just last night I discovered that the fetus really likes it when I sing early-90s era Whitney Houston.  I wanna feel the heat with somebody?

At yesterday's doctors appointment I found out I am carrying my fetus pretty low. The nurse went to find a heart beat and obviously picked the fattest part of me to start with, but, no baby! She listened, and furrowed her brow. "Hmmm."  Then she wiggled the doppler around some more, still nothing. Then she sighed. "Take off your pants."  I thought she'd never ask!

Finally, there it was, right on my pelvic bone, whumpa-whumpa-whumpa.  And I said out loud, "There he is!" And then I wondered, Was that significant?

As soon as she started counting beats it scooted to the left. Then to the right. She chased that sucker all over until finally cornering it near my left hip. "156! A perfectly respectable heartbeat," she announced, while I thought to myself, Will you look at the stubborn thing I am growing in there! It must be mine.

For the rest of the day I tuned my transmission to an outward signal.  Suddenly it felt like I might actually be growing a real live person in there or something, instead of a burrito like I sometimes fantasize.

"It's . . . a burrito!"

You know?

Fetus. I messaged.  Requesting gender information.

Nothing.  Except, cottage cheese and beets sounded really good all of the sudden.

Fetus, this is your mother speaking. Are you a girl? Or a boy? 

Apparently, just like with my other failed language attempts, I am solely a one-way communicator.  Reception only! No outgoing mail!

So if you happened to see me in the grocery store yesterday zoned out by the cottage cheese it is not because I was deeply pondering curd size, it is because I was attempting to contact The Great Fetus.

The Great Fetus that, as The Holbs pointed out yesterday, is "just about the size of a steak!"


An Epic Story Of Sneakers And Spouses

My running days are numbered, is what I realized today.

I caught a glimpse of my side profile in the window of a parked car on my run today and had to stop, because, who is that pregnant woman? Also, running with this belly is awkward, try as I might to pretend like it isn't.

So anyway, here comes a very long but hopefully at least mildly entertaining story.

A few weeks ago I lost my sneakers. I searched for them for weeks, but they continued to be lost to my soul.

So the following Saturday I announced that we would be taking a trip to find replacement sneaks, forthwith and expediently, and that price was to be no issue!

My husband really excels where athletic matters are concerned, and he tossed those blindingly white sneaks at me as fast as I could try them on and reject them.  Each pair was just wrong.  Oh Brandon! I wailed. Brandon, I will need a taco after this!

Anyway, I didn't want new sneaks, I wanted my sneaks.

Finally at the Famous Footwear something happened deep within me and I fell in love with a pair of really horrible schlocky marketing shoes.

And thus I talked myself into the dorkiest purchase ever made in the Holbrook house of ever.

Even The Holbsdork was supportive.

"They make you look really tall."

So up he went up to the cash register to pah for my Frankenstein shoes, and once I got home I just had these dorky shoes staring at me from their box, and still no sneaks. It really felt like a tall-inducing consolation prize, is what.

That Monday it was time to put those dork shoes to use and let my Holbsdork accompany me and the dorkdogs on the very most windy and torrential walk of our lives.  There really was something about that Monday that hinted at plague and pestilence and the wrath of God but I tried not to think about it, on account of I had to really focus in order to not fall off of my shoes. And then I realized, curses from Heaven or not, I kind of liked those Frankenstein shoes, and I was glad I got them.

I was also glad whenever we walked under a tunnel, because once we were inside Brandon would recite Lionel Richie song lyrics. Does he get his wires crossed in tunnels? What happened to him in there? Is it me you're looking for?

When we got home, that's when I saw my sneaks.

In my closet.

With my other shoes.

Where they belonged.