Monday, December 18, 2006

Out, OUT Damned Spots...A Pox Upon My House

Yep, the chicken pox are firmly ensconced in the Compton house. This evening I lifted my son up and saw one on his back as his shirt rose up. Great, just in time for Christmas. The boy doesn't seem overly concerned about them, and has yet to discover they itch. I only saw one. So I went out and bought supplies at the store, benadryl, children's advil, and the makings for a large batch of hot toddies for me and Charles. Snow is falling, and supposed to pile up pretty high here, perhaps as high as 2 and a half feet. We have had a bunch of warm spicy drinks and are feeling pretty festive here. Two hours ago I was saying, "Ugh...snow.." Now I am saying "Ugh! SNOW!!!"

My changes as the drinks keep going...

Boil together in about 5 cups of water the zest of one lemon, about 10 cloves, and four sticks of cinnamon. Boil for about 10 minutes, and let it cool off a little. Juice about four lemons and pour into mugs about 1/4 of lemon juice, add 1/3 of the mug of the infused water, and a couple of table spoons of honey. Then fill the rest of the mug with burbon and have at it.

I am on my third. Typing is becoming a challenge. The snow is getting deeper so I will go make a fourth.

Number four seems to be more burboney and less lemonish. There is a good level of honey. My hands are sticky. I licked the bottle as I put it away (the honey bottle). I think I am going to have to clean the keyboard tomorrow. We have about an inch of snow now, and it is moving in more heavily.

The toddies are very drinky. Number five is pretty strong. I think I forgot the honey, but I licked the burbon bottle this time. It is warm in here now. Very warm and very sleepy in here. I think I will go to bed and write more tomorrow.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seeing Spots

It just figures.

This morning I wake up hearing the girls talking in their bedroom, just before the alarm is set to go off. I am encouraged, usually getting them out of bed is a lights on, cover yanking affair. Well to be fair to myself, I usually do start off a bit more gently. I go in, turn on the lights, and softly say, "Girls, princesses, time to get up..." hoping that my kind, loving words will be met with smiles and, "Good morning, Mommy!"

Usually I get the closed eye mumble from Amanda, as she stumbles out of bed and towards the bathroom, the covered head to toe silence from Sarah as she pretends that I do not exist, and the threatening low growl from Maddie, indicating that I may be harmed if I dare to yank her from her slumber. Eventually I do get the girls assembled in the living room, dressing and doing hair and the ritual dig through the giant sock basket for the daily pair of "close enoughs".

Today, Sarah was complaining that her head hurt. This is not altogether unusual or unexpected. I looked at her sad face, put my hand on her forehead and said, "Get dressed. Now." Well she started to do the whine, and I ignored her, until she pulled her shirt up and I saw them.


I called her over closer, and there were probably a half dozen smallish pink spots on her back, torso and leg. Dammit.

I looked at her sad face again, and said, "Nevermind, kiddo, let's get some ibuprofen." So she took the medicine and laid on the couch, while I went about the business of getting the other girls going with soothing words and dulcet tones like these...


Gentle only goes so far. At some point you have just got to get their butts on the bus.

So Sarah and her little brother relaxed, watched a movie, and then Sarah busied herself with artwork and practicing her big spelling words and reading, and I watched spots. I am not sure if they are Chickenpox, they have not yet formed blisters. I do know this much, the third grade just got hammered by the virus. I think Amanda got a light case of them, but we didn't know it until they were gone, but she has a couple of scabs that are suspicious. It happened when we all had colds and felt awful, and the kid is pretty itchy as a general rule.

The kids have all been vaccinated against them, but it doesn't always prevent the virus. Thankfully it makes it less severe, so much so that we may not have even noticed Amanda's case of it. I am not confining Sarah from her siblings, I am hoping they all get it if they are going to at one time. But it figures, right before Christmas.

So fun!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Best Way to Get Christmas Spirit

Little Maddie just informed me that it is very important to eat dessert, especially on Monday nights, to help make Christmas Spirit. She is urging me at this moment toward the kitchen, saying I have to get up and leave the computer and make some cookies or we won't have enough Christmas Spirit. I must admit I have been in a very Christmassy mood of late, and for those of you who aren't there yet I have a few suggestions...

First, you need the proper mood music. My husband has been very helpful in this area, by providing me with this...

There is something really special about Christmas carols being sung by the likes of The Drifters, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder. What is even better is listening to the kids sing along in the background, especially Amanda trying to reach the low notes of the Temptation's version of "Silent Night". Really funny. We had ourselves the best time a few weeks ago in the Circuit City parking lot, while Charles ran in for something, singing it in our loud voices, and then Stevie Wonder's "Ave Maria," too, with the windows open. Amanda said, "Oh mommy, we are sure spreading Christmas Cheer!" because everyone that passed by the car turned to look and smile.

Next, you have to be watching the Christmas specials.

Last week they aired, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," so "Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" can't be too far behind! Speaking of Charlie Brown another great cd to put you in the holiday mood is this...

The Vince Guaraldi Trio's soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas may seem like a juevenile suggestion, but the music is actually very sophisticated, in fact is pretty romantic. This album is perfect for a quiet evening by the fire with the one you love, drinking a nice bottle of wine and staring at the tree with these...

If you haven't seen these babies yet, they are about the coolest thing ever. They are a lot like 3D movie glasses but they are made for kicking back and looking at your Christmas lights with...and they surround the light with images of angels, or bells, or Santas, or happy messages of holiday cheer. I love these.

If you are still not in the mood, then grab your kids, or your nieces and nephews or grandkids or friend's kids (make sure it is ok with the parents of course!) and head down to the mall with them to see Santa. We did this last week, and got a GREAT photo, which we uploaded to and had Christmas cards printed and sent to us on the cheap, and we got them in four days! Isn't this gorgeous???

Of course, you could always follow Maddie's sage advice and have lots of dessert, especially on Mondays before Christmas!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two Different Boys

Before the haircut, and a bit drooly...

After the haircut, a changed boy!

Yes he is still my darling, adorable William, but haircuts have a dramatic affect on my son, and it is not just in appearance, though the two pictures clearly show that he looks entirely different with his hair short.

Long haired Willie is a sweet and bubbly child, full of good-natured mischief and giggles.

Short haired Willie is a little shyer, a little more reserved, and more sensitive to slight.

Perhaps William feels more confident with his hair a little longer. Maybe cold ears makes him grouchy.

Right now I am excited about the growing out period!

The Tooth Fairy Returneth

Sarah lost another tooth yesterday. When we saw Santa on Monday we told him that the race was on between him and the Tooth Fairy, but frankly I knew the fat guy didn't stand a chance. Her tooth was swinging like a chimp on a vine.

She is a little bit wealthier today, proving that the Tooth Fairy can brave some seriously cold weather and ice and snow. Sarah is looking forward to some mall shopping this weekend!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mad Mad Maddie and her Mellow Mantra

She is tough. She is mean. She is apt to punch you in the nose, or merely growl in your direction. She is Madeline, aka Mad Mad Maddie, and she has received a very stern warning. Santa Claus is watching her. She saw the man just yesterday and he has made it abundantly clear that he knows what is going on around here. So she has been given two mantras to repeate over and over...

1. I am a kind and gentle spirit and I will do no harm to anyone.

2. I am a vessel of non-violence, and I have no spirit of anger in my heart.

These two simple phrases are vexing her.

She always tags at the end of them, "because Santa is watching me" which is fine because if it makes her stop giving her sisters a reason to cry.

The Santa Picture

This was taken yesterday at the mall, Santa and the kids!

I Survived Thanksgiving!

What a crazy couple of weeks I have had! That said, this was the most wonderful, festive Thanksgiving I have ever celebrated, and I have my wonderful family and guests to thank for that. Here is the run-down...
I spent the week and a half leading up to Thanksgiving cleaning, shopping and painting to try to eradicate some of the spaghetti colored hand prints from my walls. Sadly, cleaning in my house, with my four kids, is like trying to move a large pile of sand with a spoon...impossible to accomplish and frequently resulting in a bigger mess than you started off with. I hoped to merely achieve a comfortable, homey atmosphere where you could walk from the couch to the table without hurting yourself on a small, sharp toy. In this, I was successful. I also got the kitchen and bathrooms into a state of visitor preparedness, scraping the toothpaste off the mirror, scrubbing the toilets with pumice to rid them of the chunks of concrete our hard water forms on the porcelain. Beyond that, my bedroom became the clearinghouse for the displaced mess, the baskets of laundry that had been washed and not put away, the dirty laundry that we didn't have time to process, and miscellaneous boxes of crap. I figured if I could just keep everyone out of the master bedroom, things would be ok. The one place that didn't get any better was the kids' room, and that was just filled with more kids playing and messing up, so that was no big issue.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving our old baby sitter, Leah, came from Kansas State. She is looking for a new university and had a tour scheduled for UNM on Wednesday. Her plane arrived Tuesday evening, Charles brought her home, and we fed her some lasagna and relaxed for a little while before hitting the sheets. It was so nice to reconnect with Leah, last time we had actually sat and talked she was a teenage girl, her boyfriend had gone to Iraq and gotten killed, and she has grown, healed, and become this incredibly vivacious, bright young twenty year old woman.
The next day, while Charles took Leah to her tour at UNM, I prepared for my friend, Scott, to arrive from Phoenix. It was to be our first face to face visit in three years, and I was so excited to share a holiday with him, and let him spend some quality time with his "Godkids". He arrived about 30 minutes before Charles and Leah returned bearing almost a full case of wine from the Black Mesa winery near Espanola. We had a nice little visit alone, catching up, while he got to play with Will for the first time. Will, being an excellent judge of character, was immediately best buddies with our friend.
When Leah and Charles came back it was bearing breakfast burritos, and we had a little lunch before the girls returned from their half day of school, and we would be off running last minute errands. Amanda remembered Scott well, Sarah remembered him less well but recalled how he played the guitar for them, and let them play it as well. Maddie didn't remember him at all, but over the course of the next hour would have him seriously charmed. We all drove into town, and headed for Costco, splitting up as we hit the door.
I found Scott in the toy aisle with Maddie and she was working him over pretty hard for a soft, stuffed Winnie the Pooh. I nixed the purchase, and told her to ask Santa Claus for one. We proceeded to the wine aisle, loaded up on some more wine, pies and other treats. After rounding up the kids and everyone we headed back for Edgewood and prepared for our first event, a nice appetiser dinner with Amanda's best friend Katie and her sister (also named Amanda) and their parents, Stan and Debra. Most of the dishes were Costco frozens...the mini quiches, the mini crab cakes...but also some cheeses, wine, juice for the kids, fresh veggies, and some dips. I did make a delicious roasted red pepper and green chile tapenade, which was wonderful on the crab cakes. Most of it was just relaxing and chatting though. The real work came in the morning.
I had been wise enough to do a little cooking before the big day, knowing that it would save me hours of work and stress. I had sweatted some carrots, onions and celery for stuffings, I made a nice cranberry sauce with orange juice, orange peel, vanilla, brown sugar and a little dijon mustard (it was crazy good). I also roasted about 6 heads of garlic in advance. But the real work lay ahead of me on Thanksgiving morning, so I woke up at 6:30 and headed for the kitchen.
First I mixed up a spice cake mix and put that in the oven to bake. I assembled a pumpkin mousse, and that was to be combined in layers in a trifle dish with whipped cream (thank you Paula Deen!) I should mention now that I spent two weeks watching Food TV in preparation for Thanksgiving, making notes and getting some wonderful ideas. I browned some italian sausage, tossed it into a baking dish with cubes of corn bread stuffing mix and added some of my prepared veggies and some chicken stock and set that aside. I also added some vegetable stock to a pan of corn bread stuffing and the veggies, for we had vegetarian guests coming too. I got out the turkey, rinsed and patted it dry, and prepared it using tips from Michael Chiarello and Giada diLaurentis, placing the bird in the roasting pan on top of alternating carrots and stalks of celery, then rubbing it down with a combination of olive oil and herbs, then inserting quartered oranges and onions and some whole sage branches into the cavity. I have to say the bird turned out incredibly good.
While Charles took Leah to the airport so she could share Thanksgiving with her own family in St. Louis, I made a corn dish, and some wonderful roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and set out a veggie tray, and got a quick shower, and learned that our front toilet had kicked the bucket. It refused to flush. This meant that our imminently arriving guests would have to go through the clearinghouse of Compton crap to get to the potty. Oh well, it is what is, right?
We had the most incredible group of guest joining us. The first to arrive was Al and Wendy, from down the street, with their adorable daughters, Lauren who is Maddie's best friend, and Rachael. Wendy had made from scratch a huge platter of cannoli. She even made the shells! I cannot describe just how delicious these were except to say that they were by FAR the best I have ever had. I love this woman. Shortly after their arrival came Charles's friends from work, Yosh and Murthi, and Murthi's wife (I don't know how her name is spelled but it sounds just like the French writer Camus) and their gorgeous little daughter Parnati. Yosh (who is Japanese) brought the most wonderful squash soup, and Murthi and Camus made some great dishes native to India. Charles's cousin Carmen and her husband Rick, and their wonderful daughter Lauren came next. Carmen made sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole, and brought more cranberry sauce and chips and dip. We also had some new friends join us, Jennifer and her husband Borgar (from Norway, now how is this for an international group?) and their perfectly sweet, cuter than imaginable daughter Ellsa. While everyone mingled and got to know one another I pulled out the turkey and started the gravy. I took the roasted vegetables out of the pan and put them in the blender with the drippings and ground them up, they had charred a bit and I figured that would be pretty tasty. I returned them to the pan with a little flour, made a roux and added chicken stock. It was so easy and the gravy was wonderful.
We all ate and ate, tasting all the wonderful dishes from all over. There was a massive amount of food left, I think, we could have fed four times as many people and still had plenty left over. But the best part was talking with everyone, sharing stories and ideas, watching those gorgeous kids chase each other through the house, and just relaxing after preparing the meal.
The group slowly broke up, and at the end of the evening we sent the kids to bed, and Scott, Charles and I began the serious work of consuming six bottles of some very fine wine and discussing the meaning of life, love, and what it was going to take to get him to move out here. I had to give in at 1:15 am and leave the work to the boys, who carried on for another hour. It was so great, Scott is one of those people that just makes you feel so loved.
In the morning we headed out to breakfast with co-godparent Amanda, she and Scott haven't seen one another in 7 years, and it was like not a day had even passed. We sat at breakfast for two and a half hours, before Scott had to get going, due back at work that day in Phoenix.
The kids, Charles and I did a little shopping before they dropped me off at my grandmother's house, as I had to work Saturday and Sunday, and would be staying with her. It was hard leaving the family after such a wonderful holiday together. But, alas, there are presents to buy and plumbers to pay, so work I must.
It is great to be back!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lock the Door...a Good Laugh for Friday Afternoon!

It's Friday afternoon, and I figured we could all use a good laugh by now. This, author unknown, has been circling the internet for a long time, but it is one of the funniest stories I have ever read, and deserves to be aired again...

It is the story of one woman's struggle against hair removal...enjoy!

All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless removal - The epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now...the wax.

My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, play with the kids. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: "Maybe I should pull the waxing kit out of the medicine cabinet." So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.

It was one of those "cold wax" kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm and you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else) and you pull the hair right off. No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be? I mean, I'm not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out. (YA THINK?)

So, I pull one of the thin strips out. Its two strips facing each other stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. ("Cold wax," yeah...right!) I lay the strip across my thigh. Hold the skin around it tight and pull. It works! OK, so it wasn't the best feeling, but it wasn't too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin extraordinaire.

With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom, for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my particulars and stretching down to the inside of my butt cheek. (Yes, it was a long strip.) I inhale deeply and brace myself....RRRRIIIPPP!!!! I'm blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!....OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!

:::Vision returning:::

I notice that I've only managed to pull off half the strip. CRAP!!! Another deep breath and RRIIPP!! Everything is swirly and spotted.

I think I may pass out...must stay conscious...Do I hear crashing drums???

:::Breathe, breathe:::

OK, back to normal. I want to see my trophy - a wax covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip! There's no hair on it.

Where is the hair???


WHERE IS THE FREAKING WAX!!!??? Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet.

I see the hair.

The hair that should be on the strip.

I touch.

I am touching wax. CRAP!!!

I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair. Then I make the next BIG mistake...remember my foot is still propped up on the toilet? I know I need to do something. So, I put my foot down. DAMN!!!!!!!! I hear the slamming of a cell door.


Sealed shut!


Sealed shut! I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself "Please don't let me get the urge to poop. My head may pop off!"

What can I do to melt the wax? Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!! I'll run the hottest water I can stand into the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits and the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it off, right??? *WRONG!!!!!!!* I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than that used to sterilize surgical equipment - I sit.

Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together, is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the scalding hot water. Which, by the way, doesn't melt cold wax. So, now I'm stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cement-epoxied myself to the porcelain!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!!

I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret of how to get me undone. It's a very good conversation starter. "So, my butt and who-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!" There is a slight pause. She doesn't know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, "Are we talking cheeks or... or who-ha?" She's laughing out loud by now......I can hear her.

I give her the rundown and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box. YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else's night. While we go through various solutions. I resort to scraping the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better then to have your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!! By now the brain is not working, dignity has taken a major hike and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this event. My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace....the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax.
What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GOD!!!!!!! The scream probably woke the kids and scared the ****ens out of my friend.

It's sooo painful, but I really don't care. " It works!! IT WORKS!! " I get a hearty congratulation from my friend and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair....THE HAIR IS STILL THERE.......ALL OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I'm numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I'm going to try hair color......

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Birthday to My Favorite Person in the World!

Dear darling husband, love of my life,

Today is your birthday, and I have not shopped for a gift, or bought a card or done anything and I am so, so sorry. But I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. Thank you for the wonderful life you have helped me build, these beautiful children, and all the fun we have together.
I am the luckiest woman in the world, and I have you to thank...I hope you have a wonderful birthday and know how much you are loved.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In Defense of Halloween

My oldest, lifelong pal, emailed me today in response to my question, "Are you ready for Halloween?" basically telling me that for a variety of reasons, though she enjoyed it very much as a kid, as an adult doesn't celebrate...and I emailed her this encouragement to get on board with the fun stuff! If you have any other reasons to love this day, I hope you share them!

I love Halloween, and here are some good reasons to get on board with this fun day...

1. You can get dressed up in fun ways. A few years ago, when Amanda was in preschool at our catholic school in St. Louis, I went dressed as a chocolate chip cookie, wearing vanilla perfume. I told gross jokes to the older kids and asked all of them if they "Got MILK?" It was so fun.

2. You can embrace ORANGE as a fashion choice. Orange and black, even better.

3. Your kids leave the house and come back bearing candy, that you have to sort through to make sure it is "safe" before they get to eat it. I have noticed that very few of the good chocolate bars make it into the "safe" pile (Almond Joys are NEVER safe).

4. Halloween music. Just try not to get into the spirit of things after hearing "The Monster Mash" is not possible.

6. Kids are so cute in their costumes. Especially little babies. I just LOVE seeing the babies in their little suits.

7. Candy corn.

8. Hot chocolate after trick or treating. (Try adding some peppermint schnapps to yours!)

9. Trick or treating = exercize + candy. Balance in the universe. No guilt!

10. Halloween ushers in the holiday season. It is party, party, party from now until the end of the year!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Parent Teacher Conference Days...Box Wine Special at Smiths

Report cards, and the ensuing days off from school, should be issued with coupons for big savings on spirits.

I am holding my breath until Tuesday, when that big yellow bus picks up 75% of my children. The bus left them here Wednesday afternoon, after a half day of school, and hasn't been back since. I can't think. I can't write. I can't even get to my computer because of, and I spend my days organizing sock washes and breaking up fights over toys. I have dishes piled so high that I can't even get to my coffee maker, so I am suffering the withdrawl headaches and my husband bought paper plates so he could feed the kids while I was at work.

So Tuesday the house will get a little quieter, and I will be down to one kid. I have plans.

I am going to grab a big black bag and hit the playroom. I am throwing away anything that came from McDonalds or Burger King. I am also throwing away anything broken and that includes the great Barbie Massacre. I have carnage of untold origin. Arms without bodies, torsos without legs, heads with bits of leaves or something stuck in tangled, scary hair. I am afraid that it is sending a very bad message to my son. It has to go, as do all the cars with no axles, the odd bits of games, and stray flashcards.

Oh this is going to be fun! And I have a box of wine to celebrate with!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Scott!

Scott, doing one of his most favorite things, climbing.

Every girl needs a few friends she would go to the end of the earth for. I would have to say that I am more fortunate than most. I have the luxury of having a handful of really dear friends, the aforementioned Amanda, my childhood pals Demeca and Anne, my former sister in law Linda, sweet Bonnie of Nevada, and Scott. Today is Scott's birthday!

Scott and I met January 27, 1998, a week after my daughter Amanda was born. My cousin, Ennio, wanted to stop by and see the baby and brought along a friend. Well needless to say when Scott walked in my first thought was, "Jeez, this is one good looking guy!" The second thought I had was "great, I am a mess..." One week post partum, no make up, no sleep, hair a mess, big tee shirt and leggings, and oh yeah, leaky breasts. I felt so special.

But Scott was so charming, so kind, and didn't look at me like some post partum circus sideshow, he just was warm and friendly, and really smitten with the baby. He even hit it off with my mother in law!

Well, Scott and I became great friends, immediately. I never felt like there was a time we didn't know each other. We have spent hours lamenting relationship woes and bitching about politics. When I need advice, or a friendly ear, Scott is who I turn to. When I write, especially about politics, he is my sounding board, he is the audience I aim for, because of his clear sense of decency and finely attuned bullshit barometer. I know that if what I write passes by him that I have done my job.

Scott is someone I just like to sit and drink wine with and listen to him play the guitar, and talk for hours. He has a great mind, and sense of humor, and a tremendous amount of compassion. Someday some lucky lady is going to catch this guy, and I will be so happy, but she has to know up front that I am not going ANYWHERE!

Love you Scott, I hope you have a wonderful birthday, and this has helped you take stock of the things that MATTER.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Amanda Cooper and husband Jim Noel

Yes today is my best friend, Amanda's birthday. Out of respect for my elders, I will not divulge her age, but she is much older than I am.

Amanda deserves a lot of recognition for everything she does. She is not only the campaign manager for our high powered, high energy Governor Bill Richardson, but she also has a magnificent horse ranch, and personally cares for the dozen or so horses she has there, in addition to her many cats, dogs, and loving husband, Jim.

Amanda is kind to everyone she meets. She bubbles with energy and joy, and people are immediately taken with her charm. She has a great sense of humor.

When I met Amanda we were doing campaign work for a guy running for State Senate, but we were also dropping literature for her step-father, Tom Udall, who was running for Congress. We were partnered up, and I immediately liked her (as everyone does) because she was handing out the pamphlets and saying, "Vote for my dad, he's a great guy!" to everyone. We became great friends.

The next spring my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery was scheduled, but it had spread too far, and he was given a few months to live. When he was hospitalized at the end of his life Amanda came to his bedside every day and sat with him, holding his hands, telling him stories, making him laugh. He just adored her. Dad was a great judge of character.

When Dad died, Amanda was right there for me. She was so strong for me and my family, and really helped us through that difficult time. A couple of days later I got a call from her, her cat Scatter had been injured by a car engine. The poor kitty suffered terribly and then died. Amanda and I, consumed by so much loss, just sat in her porch and cried for hours.

We both moved around over the years, and I got stuck in Missouri. I wanted to come back to NM for years, but with our jobs and our house and kids I didn't think we would ever get the chance to move back home, but Amanda took my husband's resume to a friend in state government and he got an interview. With Charles's experience he was able to get a good job, and we came back home last year. My children, thanks in no small part to Amanda, have had a year with my elderly and sick grandparents, and there is no substitute for that.

My oldest daughter is named after her Aunt Amanda. She is the Godmother of my kids. They are crazy about her, but who wouldn't be? She plays with them, she chases them, she spoils them rotten, she makes them laugh, and she even taught my son the "spoon on the nose trick as seen here...

Watch Willie do his trick!

There is no person more kind, generous, witty or charming than Amanda. She is much older than me, but we have a special connection, and I will always love her.

Happy birthday, my dear friend!

Life is Just a Bowl of...


Yes, that is my son William. William has a new favorite game. He gets something large, such as a shoe, a big toy, something that won't actually vanish on him, and he gives it a power wash by putting it into the toilet and flushing. This brings him tremendous joy and satisfaction. I have thrown out many items as a result. I have to watch this boy like a hawk.

Of course I have worried that he will chose something more flushable and then I will have a plumbing problem on my hands. But that is not what keeps me up at night.

What I fear is that he will get all germy and sick and we will have to take this small stinky boy to the hospital, where he will be admitted and put on IV fluids and treated for dysentery or polio or asspox, and when he recovers I will have to sit with a nurse and discharge coordinator and demonstrate that I do, indeed, know how to properly clean a toilet, before they let him go home with me.

I fear the handouts with the diagrams of a toilet brush and disinfectant.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Paging The Tooth Fairy AGAIN!

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I know we had you here Friday night to pick up a shiny little front fangy tooth from Miss Sarah, and though she appreciated her $3 she has chosen to count them by fives, and believes she has $15! Well we have to ask you to come back tonight, this time for Amanda, who has lost a very pretty tooth. It is under her pillow, and she awaits you. I asked her how much she thought that tooth was worth, she thought maybe $100.

My Daughter the Star

My sweet Madeline, aka Mad Mad Maddie, graces a billboard in St. Louis, Missouri....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Attention Tooth Fairy

Miss Sarah has lost a bottom tooth and will be placing it under her pillow tonight. You know the drill. Sarah requests $60. Hell I am going to pull a few of mine if you are paying that.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another Stellar Week

We have a broken bone count going at the Compton house. In addition to Maddie's toe, we now have William's finger, which I smashed in the bathroom door on the hinge side and broke the tip of. I took him to urgent care, he had x-rays, and they bandaged it, but because it is just the tip he will lose his nail and otherwise should heal fine. I just feel terrible about it.

So the household broken bone count is two.

Yesterday was our 10th Anniversary, and we didn't do too much to observe it. We all took a day off as a family, and intended to hit the State Fair, but I had a job interview scheduled for the afternoon and the preparations of getting the whole family dressed, and me ready for this thing, and not having anything to wear for it, so having to buy a blouse and panty hose put us way off on time. So after the interview we went home and made dinner, and got the kids to bed. It wasn't a really special celebration, but we were all together, so that was nice. And the job interview went very well, so it was a good day.

Quote of the week goes to Maddie...who said to my mother yesterday, "Grammanita, I love your child." My mom asked, "Which one?" and she replied, "Cara!" I love her grandchild too.

Happy Anniversary Honey

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Editorial in Today's Denver Post

The Diplomacy of Bill Richardson
Bill Richardson has won international acclaim for his unique diplomatic efforts over the years.
He's won the release of Americans held captive in the most difficult global hot spots - a U.S. pilot shot down over North Korea, three Red Cross workers held hostage in Sudan, captives in Iraq and Cuba.
A few days ago, the governor of New Mexico pulled off a similar achievement that is quite outside his job description.
Richardson negotiated the release of three people from the war-torn region of Darfur, Sudan - a Chicago Tribune journalist on assignment for The National Geographic along with his driver and interpreter.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It Has Been a Long Week

Broken toes, tummy aches, cactus needles in hands. Kid tantrums. Dad tantrums. Blogger issues. Money woes. Garbage not delivered to curb. Carpet cleaner ineffective. Dishes refuse to wash themselves. Kids defiant. Me apathetic. Husband agitated. Bureaucracy issues. Poop. Lots of poop. Lots of poop in unapproved places. Son playing in toilet. Cats howling at the door. Kids getting up all night.

I think tonight I am going to buy a bottle of wine and go hide in the bedroom.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Knob Rules

I knew it would happen. Rockstar Supernova selected Lukas Rossi to front their lame ass band. The word "awesome" hasn't been heard so many times since 1987. I personally was rooting for Dilana, who really is awesome, and was glad to hear that she will be doing an album of her own. Good, now I won't have to bother with the rest of those clowns.

The Black Cat Howls at Noon

There is a cat sitting outside on my porch. He is a gorgeous, long haired black cat with beautiful green eyes. My contemplating opening the door and feeding him a can of tuna is yet another reason why my husband hates me (we have two cats already, one recently found exactly where the black cat is now sitting.) I would take a picture, but I broke the button off my camera and have to get it to Best Buy to have it repaired.

He is howling.

My cats are going, shall we say, apeshit.

I don't know if it is a love connection or if they are wanting to do battle, but I have two cats riveted at the window (along with a transfixed two year old). I would open the door but I fear that bringing these feline and young boy elements together would create a perfect storm of fur and claws and blood and booboos and band-aids, and probably a trip to the vet as well.

But he is howling. He is beautiful. I could love him.

Poor kitty.

The Death of a Handbag

I live in the middle of nowhere. You can't see my house from the road. So I frequently leave my purse in the money in it anyway. Lest you think that a good economic future for you lies in the tracking down of my house and theft of my purse, let me be the first to warn you.

You don't want it.

Oh I don't care if you take it, though if you could leave my wallet with my license in it I would be delighted. But you don't want it. Trust me on this.

See, last week I stopped off at McDonalds for coffee while dropping my husband off at his vanpool. I threw the creamers into my purse so they wouldn't roll around on the floorboard of the car and get lost. After all, that would be BAD for the aroma of the van, which frankly doesn't need any help in that department, with four kids. My youngest has stashed a few sippy cups that are making what probably is a fine cheese product though I will never know.

Well I forgot about the creamers in the mad dash to get the kids ready for school. At first I knew they were there but I had to ignore them because I had to get the girls dressed and brushed and out the door, then later it rained. I put milk from home in my coffee. Well, I guess when the sun came out the van heated up and caused the creamers to "splode". All of the contets of my purse are now coated with a thick cheesy and most heinous smelling substance.

So you can have it. I don't want it anymore. But I know you don't want it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Story I Promised to Post

This was a story I wrote over the summer, and intended to post eventually, but had trouble with the pictures, and eventually just shelved it for future use. Today is the day! It fits in with the first story of my blog because it was an adventure that happened because I was bored and wanted to have some fun, only this time we didn't end up stuck in the mud on some crazy man's ranch.

It was the first Saturday in July, and I was in a real funk. I had been for a few days, and just couldn't shake the blues. The kids were nutso, the house was a mess and the funk had kept me from doing anything about it but the bare minimum, so I was determined that I would stay home and punish myself for my lassitude and slog through the mess and shape things up. I worked dilligently all morning getting laundry folded, put away, dusting and polishing.

Lunchtime came and the little darlings (read snarly anklebiters) were getting a bit peckish, and the kitchen was not yet done, dishes dirty, and would take another hour of work so I told my husband, "Lets' run down to Dairy Queen and throw some burgers or something at the kids, I don't feel like doing THIS." He, being a big fan of burgers, was so kind to oblige.

We sat in that Dairy Queen featsing on burgers and fries, and even a nice soft served dipped cone. As I enjoyed that frosty, creamy treat I knew I couldn't face the rest of that housework, and I said, "Hey, this road goes north, lets' see where it takes us!" The rest of the family, who are even less enthusiastic domestics, got very excited. We checked our tires, bought a map and headed north on 344.

The road wound around a beautiful mountain and landed us on Highway 14 at Madrid, NM. This is an old mining town turned artist haven, streets lined with sleeping dogs and great artisan shops.The town is currently the production site of a new film, "Wild Hogs" with John Travolta. I looked all over for him, because I planned to jump from the moving van and run away with him. He was nowhere to be found.

We then drove north through the neighboring town of Cerillos, which is alot more traditional New Mexico rural splendor.

From there we headed up to Santa Fe, the City Different.
Santa Fe is a great city, where hunched and wrinkled old Native American ladies sell fine turquoise jewelry on blankets on the sidewalk to heavily botoxed Californians. Where Starbucks occupies a 200 year old adobe, where the most delicious pizza can be found in one of the oldest structures in the US. It is the seat of our state government, home of the most incredible capitol building, replete with native marble and turquoise floors and walls, and boasting the best art galleries in the state. Santa Fe is probably my favorite city in the world. I wanted to take the kids to the Plaza to walk around, but couldn't find anywhere in the city to park, so when Charles suggested we show them "Camel Rock" I was really excited.

We started up north again, and suddenly I realized that we were on the road to the National Veteran's Cemetary and I told Charles we had to stop. My father's ashes are interred there, and we hadn't been up to visit his site in 11 years, the kids had never been. So we pulled in and wound around looking for the little sapling next to his headstone. It took a little longer to find this time because the sapling was no longer a sapling, aren't we clever? Well we found it and all of the kids left him a rock or a pine cone...Maddie tried to shove a stick with a dead leaf into the ground for him but the ground was so hard. It was a sweet gesture, though, for a kid who never got to meet her grandpa.

From there we wound our way up to the Tesuque Pueblo, home of Camel Rock.

(yeah it is an awesome rock)

The kids loved it, though you can't go all the way up to it, I am sure because it has been defaced, and perhaps the publo also view it is a safety does that top rock stay up there??? We were really enjoying the day though and didn't want to just turn around and head home yet, so Charles said he had been really wanting to see Los Alamos, and away we went.

For those of you who don't know Los Alamos, it is the home of the national laboratories, and "THE BOMB." It is also a city built on three separate bluffs divided by deep canyons. When you are up there you get the sensation that you could just fall off the edge of the earth, a pretty unsettling feeling. We arrived at the Fuller Lodge Museum just as the old man was going to shut the door for the day, but he saw us and said we could peek in the gift shop, which was smart because we love gift shops and spending money. The kids scoured the little shop, Maddie finding a book for herself and one for her best friend in St. Louis, Gracie. Amanda found a cool WW2 replica poster image on a magnet, and I bought another magnet, because my new refridgerator needs cool magnets. Sarah didn't find just the right thing there, so we told her there would be other chances to shop.

After leaving the gift shop we sat in the parking lot contemplating our next move. It was late on a Saturday afternoon and Los Alamos rolls up its sidewalks very early, so more museum hopping was out of the question. Charles decided to just drive the city and check out the views. Now I don't like heights, at all. I found some of the views really unsettling, but just gulped and kept my mouth shut, occasionally issuing a shudder. But it is spectacular, really, looking at the vast open spaces between the tall ponderosas. We covered all three bluffs, and then decided we would try to get a room for the night so that we could do more sight seeing in the morning. This did, however raise the issue of clothing. We had packed nothing, not a thing, not even a fresh pull up for William who was getting a bit squirmy in the old one. The only room we could find was in a bit of a dive, but they offered free breakfast, which is very appealing to Compton Men. We then went in search of clothing, diapers, toiletries and dinner.

We started off at Beall's which was fine for the kids clothes, but Charles and I didn't find anything reasonable that wasn't heinous, and there was nothing else open, so we headed over to Espanola, down in the valley, to find a Walmart (shame of all shames) and a place to eat. I wanted to go to Restaurante Rancho de Chimayo, my favorite place in all of New Mexico, but the kids were going all crazy from hunger, and Walmart had a Chili's next to it, so we just stopped there.

Now Chili's markets this new beverage to kids called "Chillin' Fruit Freezers Made with a blast of real fruit juice and loaded with Vitamin C!Rockin' Tropical Punch, Electric Blue Blast." It was a very hot evening and we were all so thirsty, and the kids really wanted to try them, so we ordered one for each girl, and the boy had milk. Well let me tell you these neon creations arrived at our table and Charles and I were pretty alarmed by the colors, so we tried a sip. Wow...loaded with a hell of a lot more than Vitamin C! Sweeter than anything I have ever tried before, and we knew we were doomed. I was pretty sure that they wouldn't sleep until midnight without benadryl. We headed the wild bunch over to Walmart, which is a nightmare with calm kids, this was pretty awful. We got what we needed and headed back up to Los Alamos.

Now in a city that shuts down at 8 on Saturdays with no trace of night life, it is also the home of a remarkable number of Yuppies. Many 30-something science types with lots of disposable income. What does a young scientist do on a Saturday night in Los Alamos? Well Smith's Grocery store in Los Alamos, part of the Kroger Chain, boasts a PRIMO liquor section. Charles parked the van and said "count how many people come out with booze" and went in search of local wine. I counted two, in the fifteen minutes he was in the store, that came out WITHOUT booze, one clearly a teenager.

Yep, its The BOMB!

We got back to our room to discover the air conditioning didn't work, and there were no screens on the windows to take advantage of that wonderful cool Los Alamos night air, so we called management and got a fan. We uncorked the wine and begged the kids to keep it down to a dull roar. I had one glass of the local white, don't have a clue anymore what that was, and it was great. It was so hot I just laid down in front of the fan and fell right asleep, and I am pretty sure the kids eventually did too. I woke up and the kids were in one bed, Charles and I in another, and we were all excited about the day.

We hit the "breakfast" a little late, it was still open but well picked over. We scarfed down mini muffins and coffee and juice for the kids, then threw our walmart bags into the van and went in search of fun. The museum at Fuller wasn't opening until noon, so we decided that we would just go hit Bandelier.

Bandelier is a National Monument and home of ancient Native American cliff dwellings. You can walk the trails in the valley and see the old kiva ruins and what remains of some homes, but you can also climb the upper trails into the cave dwellings that riddle the side of the bluff. As I said before I dislike heights immensely, and I had the baby in a stroller, and my four year old didn't want to take the high road either, so Charles took Amanda and Sarah up into the caves, and Maddie and Will and I found a path that lead to shady benches and we parked and watched. Sarah was clearly thrilled with the whole hike, she ran up ahead of Charles and Amanda and I was getting a little worried about her safety because she was so far ahead of her dad, but she climbed with skill. Charles was behind because Amanda discovered well into the adventure that she was terrified, but she still wanted to do it.

Meanwhile Maddie and Will and I found a nice shady log bench to sit on and await the return of our family, and Maddie announced she had to go potty. "I gotta peeeeeeee Mommy, really BAD!" Well there was no one around and the shade tree offered nice cover, so I picked her up and moved her behind the bench and she dropped trou and let it go. Little kids are hilarious when they really have to go. She managed to not pee all over her shoes and shorts either, I was impressed. After about 20 minutes I could see Charles and the girls working their way back down, and I was relieved to have my babies back on the ground.

We found another gift shop at the bottom, of course, and bought Willie some socks because his sandals had rubbed a blister on his foot, and Sarah finally found something she liked. It was lunch time, the kids were starved, and so were Charles and I . I suggested we head down to Jemez Springs for lunch.

As you enter the Jemez National Forest you note that the mountains are just staggeringly beautiful, covered in ponderosa pines, sadly much of it is burned from the 2000 fire that threatened Los Alamos. It is still stunning and you can see the underbrush has recovered, so the forest is coming back in a big way. You wind around the mountain roads, which can be pretty scary at points. We were headed up a hill, and at the top was a hair pin turn that was blind in both directions and as we neared the top a group of bikers came tearing around the bend and one lost control and swerved right in front of us, and nearly spilled. I was amazed we didn't hit him. But the most breathtaking part hits you on the right side of the vehicle as you wind south through the mountains, you come across Valle Grande or Valles Calderas

It was so insanely beautiful, Amanda kept asking me, "Mommy, is it real? Is that really really there? Is it really real?" I have to admit the valley is so strikingly pretty I wasn't sure I was seeing what I thought I was either.

We found Jemez Falls, where Charles and I were married almost 10 years ago. That area burned pretty badly but the picnic shelter was still there or had been rebuilt. Then we headed down to Jemez Springs, and it was pretty late for lunch by then but we were starved, so we found a cool place, The Laughing Lizard. We all loved our lunch in this cute little bistro, and admired the art, then jumped back in the van and kept on truckin'. We drove past Battleship Rock, like Camel Rock it is pretty aptly named.

We arrived in the Jemez Pueblo, and admired the stunning red rock mesas.

When in the Jemez Pueblo you have to stop at one of the little road side stands that sell Indian Fry Bread. We bought two fry breads, one for the girls to share, and one that Charles and I shared with William. The kids enjoyed watching the little old native lady make the bread, and we devoured it in the van. It was time to make our way back home, sadly, but our spontaneous vacation, which could have been a lot less costly had we actually planned it, was worth every penny. I came home recharged, and completely sans funk.


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Girl Who Cried Toe

Our smallest daughter and third child overall, Maddie, is a pill. In fact, at this very moment I hear our second child, Sarah coming my way crying, "Mommy, Maddie tried to hit me with the basket and I wanted to be with WILLIE." She is the child that wakes up her siblings to have someone to fight with, like this morning when she came in to where I was sleeping with her baby brother, and slid in between us. She snuggled me which was fine, snuggles always welcome here, but then she turned over and started tickling her brother aggressively to wake him up. I delivered a quick swat to her hind end, just to make the point, you never wake a sleeping two year old. EVER.

She left me to go walk on her sisters backs as they slept, and soon I was dealing with an all out screaming, crying, nose-punching funfest.

They are home today because of this weekend's events.

Saturday morning Maddie said she was walking and felt a little crack and her toe hurt. Her dad examined the toe and it looked fine, no swelling, able to bend, but it hurt. We decided to keep an eye on it. She walked funny the remainder of the day, and funnier on Sunday. She said she couldn't clean because her toe hurt, which we pronounced as horse poop. She is five and always makes up injury excuses to avoid helping around the house. Well, about 3 pm yesterday my husband examined the toe and noted a knot on top. I looked at it and it was a fainly purple lump. I didn't like it so I said we needed to take her in. The nearest pediatric urgent care is in Albuquerque, 23 miles away, so we headed in.

She was examined, and set up for an x-ray. I went back with her, and she was so scared about the x-ray. I lifted her onto the table, and she laid there squeezing her eyes shut and covering them with her folded arms in terror. She did this for the first four views, and the fifth she watched. After they were done they gave her a coloring book and some crayons and told us to wait in the waiting room, and I told the tech that Maddie wanted to see her films. A few minutes later he came back and took us into the viewing room, and they have the coolest computerized views. The tech looked and said the toe looked fine, I looked and didn't see anything, and a radiologist who wasn't working but just happened to be there glanced at it and pronounced that it looked pretty good. They sent us back to the urgent care area to await the nurse practitioner.

By this time the other kids were climbing the walls of the urgent care waiting room. It was after 7, they were FUNGRY, and sick of being there. We waited just a short time and the NP brough Maddie and I back again. She said she had looked at the films and they looked good, but that the official radiology report was the final word and she wasn't going to make us wait for that. She said to give her some motrin three times a day for a few days, and to watch it for redness, fever or other joint involvement. She said she would call us if there was anything on the report.

Well, we had to stop at the store and get motrin, so I also bought stuff for a fast no-cook dinner, a preroasted turkey breast, box of salad and toppings, and french bread. It was 9 when we made it home and got dinner on the table, and the kids were up until 10. I wasn't going to make them get up early to make the school bus, because I knew they wouldn't perform well in school. So at 9:30 the NP calls me. Maddie has a tiny avulsion fracture of the right first metatarsal head. She said it looked like the ligament pulled a little piece of the bone away. I have no idea how this happened but Maddie actually had a legitimate booboo!

So this afternoon I have to take her in to the orthopedist and see what they want to do.

Its funny though, after the kids were in bed Charles and I started laughing about what a great weekend we had, despite being stuck in the mud and nearly dying or losing our van (see first blog entry entitled "Why I Started This Blog") cleaning house the rest of the weekend and our daughter breaking her toe, we had such a fun time together, and a lot of laughs, and very little stress. It was our best weekend in MONTHS! (Since our last weekend involving a spontaneous adventure, to be blogged next.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It all began just ten years ago...

When Charles and I exchanged vows in the beautiful Jemez Mountains, at a picnic site near Jemez Falls, on September 21, 1996. It was that day that I made up the song that would drive Charles to the very edge of reason when I sang it. I called it "The Married Song."

First you have to imagine it being sung very loudly, and in an Edith Bunker voice.

And the lyrics can vary according to the situation, but it always starts with...

"We're MARRIED! la la!
And I LOVE YOU! la la la!"

I don't do it often, but when I do, it is usually in the car. I can see Charles's fingers tighten on the steering wheel, the little vein start to pop in his forehead, and it makes me smile. (Yep pretty sadistic.)

Now that we have kids I have an enthusiastic audience for this. They LOVE the married song. Poor Charles.

The guy just can't catch a break.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why This Blog Was Created

No my husband doesn't really hate me, he loves me very much, and this month we will celebrate our 10th anniversary. But I created this blog to document just how crazy I make him with my relentless pursuit of all things different or interesting. One of these days I will go too far. I thought for a moment that today was the day.

This afternoon Charles and our three youngest kids left the house to go pick up our oldest daughter, Amanda (she is 8) from her friend's house, where she spent the night. She lives off of highway 217, and I wanted to explore it a bit. So after getting Amanda we headed south. After several miles we came to a fork in the road. The fork to the left was marked "Martinez" and I knew that Martinez lead to AO-99 which would get us back home, so I figured hey, lets go for it.

Now Charles was not as excited about this, being unfamiliar with the area, though he did agree that Martinez intersected with A0-99 he argued that it would not necessarily go straight through. I told him that I had been looking at a map and that I thought it did, so he didn't argue, mostly because I made him feel bad about it. I told him he had NO sense of adventure, and so he just drove quietly. The road was very narrow, dirt only. We wound around, he said something about scenes from "Deliverance" coming to mind. I shooshed him and admired the wild flowers. I did note that to the east there were some pretty nasty looking clouds developing, but figured we were just a few miles from our road anyway so we would be ok.

We encountered a lot of mud. Great big ruts in the road and dark, rich mud. I could tell Charles was getting more and more nervous, and to tell you the truth I was getting really worried myself. We made it through a pretty rough mud pit and Sarah, our 6 year old, suggested that we turn around. Well Charles said he would rather not go through that again, and so we went forward.

About a mile or so down from that mudpit we came to a really low spot in the road, that had standing water over it. It was about 8 feet long, and Charles vascillated. I told him if we stayed stopped in the spot we were in we would get stuck, and there was no real good place to turn around, so on we went. We plowed into the big old mud pit and stopped. Bottomed out. No going foreward, no going back.

This is the point where I am grateful there were no divorce attorneys around.

Well, we were out in the middle of nowhere, stuck in the middle of what was momentarily going to become a raging river, with four panicked children in the car, and a man about to explode. He got out and started walking for help.

Fortunately there was a ranch house just down the road about a quarter of a mile. He saw a man out mowing, and yelled for him to get his attention, but the guy didn't hear him, so he walked on down a little further. All of a sudden the mowing man drove up in his truck and said, "My wife thinks someone is dying down here. Are you dying? Or are you just screaming for the hell of it?" Charles said no, he was trying to get his attention, but didn't, so figured he would try to find help elsewhere.

The kindly samaritan said, "Oh you got stuck in the mud pit, come on lets' go" and drove him back to our van, chastizing him the whole way. He informed Charles that we weren't on Martinez but on a private ranch (yikes) and that people come joyriding all the time and he is always pulling them out and that we had no business being down there and if he breaks his axle we are paying for it, $2000, do you understand me???

Well, I was pretty relieved to see them drive up...the thunder is booming behind me, and I was about five minutes from having to yank the kids out of the van and run for high ground to watch the river sweep away our only vehicle. The guy hitched a line to our undercarriage and I slid in behind the wheel. I started it up and as soon as he gave me a little tug our van was free. He cautioned us that it was another couple of miles until the road hits a T. If we go to the left it leads to Edgewood (where we live) if we go to the right it heads for Moriarty. He said if we beat the rain to the road we could go left, but if it is raining we wouldn't be able to make it down that way and would have to head into Moriarty, if we even make it. He said we were about 9 miles from paved road.

Well, we got to the T, and it was just starting to sprinkle. We could see our ridge a few miles down and decided to just go for it. On the way we saw what he meant about not making it in the rain, there was a LOT of mud down that way. But fortunately we made it into our driveway just as it started pouring.

Charles's shoes are ruined. His pants are muddy. I think I have to go buy him some beer. But as we got out of the van, the kids said "That was FUN!"

So maybe I feel a little vindicated...