Thursday, June 14, 2012

the duck.

I've written before about the day we fell in love,

and maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic because he is out of town for a few days, but this is the story of my first date with Ben.  


It was senior year, I was 17, he was 18.  It was October, the leaves were changing colors and the chill had begun to set in around every night at dusk.  Halloween was just around the corner, and with the holiday came a girls' choice dance.  I wanted to ask someone who I knew I could be relaxed and have fun with, and immediately thought of Ben.  

He and I had been sitting by each other for a couple of months in choir class, he was in-between myself and one of my friends, on the front row.  My friend and I used to talk around him, whispering things and making jokes.  Most of the time he would patiently endure our chattering, but every now and then he would chime in, saying something that would cause both my friend and I to crack up, and then we would hear it:


The booming voice from our choir teacher, her short, poofy, bright red hair bouncing, her enormous, owl-like glasses slipping down her nose as she yelled his last name.

"Whoops, sorry,"  he would say apologetically, holding one hand up humbly in the air as he spoke.  

She would stare him down with her brown beady eyes, her round, full cheeks turning a bright shade of pink. And just sit there, staring, while he would nervously shift in his chair during the uncomfortable silence.  After a minute or so, she would finally move on.

Everyone in the room would exhale.  

{I watched this choir teacher take down many of my peers, even witnessing one 17-yr old student body officer cry huge crocodile tears in front of our enormous, co-ed choir.  She was a talented woman, and one whose talent I respected, but disagreed with the way she ruled by fear and humiliation.}

As soon as she had turned her back, my friend and I would immediately apologize to him.  He would shrug and act like it was no big deal, then tease me about the fact that I rarely got in trouble, even though I was often the trouble maker.

"Teacher's pet,"  he would whisper, and smile as he playfully poked me in the ribs. 

We were also in English class together, with a joke of a teacher who was the school's volleyball coach, and just moonlighted as an english teacher.  When she hadn't planned the day's lesson {which was often}, she would hand out color-by-number pages and colored pencils.  Seriously.  We were in the middle of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and were given the pleasure of doing a color-by-numbers portrait of each of the characters as an assignment.  

There were a few times that Ben, myself and another friend would "study" together.  I say "study," because we would work for about 20 minutes, and then spend the rest of the two hours laughing, mostly about our English teacher's lack of abilities, like the time she had asked the students that day in class how to spell the word "renaissance" and then misspelled it three times on the board before the class s-l-o-w-l-y helped her to get it right.  Or the day that she tried to tell us a historical fact about America in the 1300's and Ben raised his hand to remind her that Columbus didn't sail the ocean blue until 1492.  

I loved that Ben didn't take life too seriously.  He was intelligent and kind, working after school with me in the "Best Buddies" program to assist handicapped students in school.  We didn't hang out much outside of those common classes together, and I didn't know any of his friends, they were all older than me.  But I was always comfortable around him, he had a way of putting me at ease and we complimented each other's sense of humor.

So when the Halloween dance was a few weeks away, I went along with tradition and found some funnyslashobnoxious way to ask him to go with me, and he found a way to return the favor when he said yes.  

It was a costume dance, and I had the great idea to have us dress up as His & Hers towels. I had heard of a girl at another school doing it, and at the time totally thought it was a genius I wonder what on earth convinced me that it was cool, but luckily he was a good sport about it.  We wore towels wrapped around us, shower caps, and a rubber duck hanging on a rope around our necks like a necklace.  

I don't remember the entire date, but two things about that night are still vivid in my mind:

One:  Dancing with him.  I never knew what to expect dancing with someone for the first time, and I was always nervous.  

Thoughts that raced through my head before we danced went something like this:  What will we talk about?  Should we talk?  Or should we just stare over each other's shoulders and look like we're pondering the meaning of life?  That's so awkward.  I hope he talks to me or it's going to be so uncomfortable.  He's not going to dance the stiff, formal way with one of our hands clasped together, the other wrapped around each other's shoulder blades, is he?  That's so lame.  Uh-oh, a slow song.  Here we go....

I remember being surprised because once we started dancing, my nerves calmed and I relaxed.   He held me close, but it wasn't in a creepy-pervy way.  It just felt nice, and he seemed confident.  We talked and laughed, making fun of other students' costumes, and then making fun of our own.  

"Who makes a guy wear a shower cap?  And a duck necklace?" he asked.  I laughed and replied by telling him the shower cap was the only thing that was big enough to cover his huge mop of curly hair.

I remember really liking how it felt to dance with him, to be close to him.

Two:  After the dance, we went to a friend's house for brownie sundaes.  She had decorated her kitchen table with a Halloween table runner and tiny, plastic spiders.  Ben and I took turns sneaking the spiders into each other's sundaes when the other person wasn't looking.  When one of us would take a bite with a spider in it, we would yell "SURPRISE!" and laugh like it was the funniest thing we had ever seen.  Soon we started to hide the spiders in the other brownie sundaes and yell as each person would bite down on the plastic buried under their ice cream and hot fudge.

I remember loving that part of the date the most, Ben's humor was constantly encouraging me to let loose and act like an idiot, and not care what anyone thought.  And when we did that, others would join in and we would all just have a really good time, whether or not we were being immature for a few minutes.

When the night was over, I walked him to the porch, still laughing as we threw plastic spiders at each other and yelling "SURPRISE!" We hugged good-night, and even though it was one of the best times I had had at a high school dance, that was the last date we went on for 4 years.  


A while ago, I was going through some old boxes and happened to come across one that held things I had collected from when I was a teenager.  I spent an hour going through it, looking at pictures, notes, my graduation cap.  Then I saw it.

A yellow rubber duck, tied to a rope.  I smile as I picked it up and turned it over.  On the bottom of it I had written:

I {heart}

Totally cheesy, and I had completely forgotten that I had written on it.  I walked over and showed it to Ben and we talked about our first date, and how we still can't believe that we're here now, living this life with children and school and years together under our belts.  

I love that he and I have this history, of knowing each other and spending time together long before we fell in love.  I have journal entries where I've written about him, small and scattered things that I commented on along the way of our friendship, how I thought he was funny and nice and so fun to be around.  And now my journal is filled of him and the life we have built together.

I put the rubber duck in the bathtub with the other toys, until one night Caleb picked it up and read the bottom of it.  

"I love B---what??  What does that say, Mom?"  he asked with his nose scrunched up as he tried to make out the word I had written in black magic marker.   

"B-FUNK,"  I said back to him, and then asked him to hand it to me.  For some reason, I couldn't put it back in the bath tub.  I'm not normally a nostalgic person, but I saw the words that represented a night so long ago and suddenly couldn't bare to see my children slobber on it, possibly rubbing away those black letters that held so much more for me than they would for them.  Instead, I put it up on a shelf, right above a jewelry box holding the rock heart that Ben had given to me on another memorable night.   

I wonder if people who come into my house even notice it, and if they do, if they're curious as to why there's a rubber duck put up on a shelf, out of reach from where kids could reach it to play with it.  Oh well.  I can't part with it yet.

And that is the story of my first of many dates with Benjamin....or should I say....B-FUNK. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

creepy blackmail

for the most part, leah no longer takes naps.  which is a blessing and a curse, as moms-who-have children-who-have-given-up-napping know what i mean.

i have now moved her as smoothly as i can into "quiet times," though she's pretty unaware of this.  she still thinks she's supposed to be laying down sleeping, and we always start off this way, with me tucking her into bed, kissing her, and telling her i'll see her when she wakes up.  only to hear her minutes later, up and playing with her toys.  i think she believes she's being ultra-sneaky, and that i have no idea that she's up.  i let her believe this because she stays quiet, and in her room, playing contently.  

a couple of weeks ago, i was surprised when i walked past her room to not only see that she was asleep, but asleep with her hippo tucked under her shirt.  so i took a picture.

there could seriously be an entire blog post dedicated to the crazy ways ben and i have found this lady asleep--i love it because i get a glimpse into her vivid imagination.

but then, i noticed something more odd than her stuffed hippo under her shirt....let's get a closer look, shall we?

and i realized, this is my moment.  

i'm guessing that in years to come, leah is probably going to pull all sorts of attitude with me.  and i now have a really great blackmail picture to hopefully win several of those moments when she threatens to walk out of the house with a skirt shorter than it should be, or other exciting soon-to-be teenage daughter moments i anticipate are on their way.  cut to me pulling out this un-flattering picture of my lovely girl with her creepy open eyes while she slept, threatening to publish it on the 2025 hologram-version of facebook for all of her friends to see.  

it was another moment where i gave myself a pat on the back for being such a good mom.  my kids are awfully lucky.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

blogging, interrupted.

so i love how i give a big dramatic speech about how i will still blog, because i need it and it's wonderful and where did my friends go?  {which by the way, i love you friends who commented!  and am glad you're still on this ride with me.}  

and then life hits, in the form of:

this little girl getting sick for over 2 weeks with strep and a double ear infection....

where i got to sleep on her floor for over a week because of her middle-of-the-night coughing attacks that would most often end up in vomiting.

which included 2 visits to the urgent care, where she is allergic to amoxicillin, so we had to try another medicine that did not help, and then finally resting on a third one that eventually took care of it.

all of this, caused me to miss out on a lot of things for this boy....

like writing about his big seventh birthday....which will come soon.  and going to an awards ceremony for his1st grade graduation {an award for testing in the high-3rd grade level for reading, and an award for having the best positive attitude}, and getting to go to his last day of school for a picture of him with his teacher.  or pulling together any of the fun last-day-of-school surprises i had up my sleeve.

and i had to cancel on a friend who was in need of a baby-sitter several times because of the plague going on at our house, which i always feel badly about....and poor ben had to stay home with sick leah  from a surprise good-bye party we had helped plan for our friends who were moving.

then, as soon as leah started to finally feel better, and we had 24 hours to breathe and get out of the house to get some things done, i co-hosted a bridal shower for this lovely lady.....

where in the middle of that going on at my house, i'm receiving phone calls from ben, telling me that caleb is sick at a friend's birthday party and needs to be taken to the urgent care.  so we go back for the 3rd time in a week, with the second diagnosis of strep and a double ear infection.

and i'm trying my best not to be disappointed, because just an hour after the bridal shower is over, i am packing for what should have been a family trip for a really fun, all-expenses paid weekend retreat with my work.  we don't get a lot of time together as a family, especially out-of-the-house fun and free time.  we had been really looking forward to it, but instead it's just june and i, with ben staying home again with the sick kids.

while in that lovely, spacious hotel room with a huge kitchen, june is not acting like herself.  which means she is really un-happy and not sleeping.  all of my best laid plans for watching a movie, or catching up on work, or sleeping in a bed for heaven's sakes....are all foiled.  and i stay up almost all night long, trying to get her to sleep for more than 20 minutes and hoping the neighbors on either side of my hotel room aren't going to knock on my door to tell my sweet baby to pipe down.

i return exhausted, only to go to urgent care for the 4th time in a week.

june has her first ear infection of her life, a double.  because why not?  i'm grateful it's not strep though, and want the medication for her just so she can start to feel better.  i had been missing my easy-going baby girl.

merely hours after expressing my gratitude to ben that at least june seems to have a stronger stomach than our first two who have already both repeatedly vomited this week, poor june throws up.  it's so sad when a toddler or kid throws up, it's an entirely different story when it's a baby.  my heart just breaks for them.  

so that is how things have been going in my life.  in between the hard there has been a lot of good.  i hate when my kids are sick because i don't like to see them suffer, but i love when my kids are sick because it forces life to slow down and i get to hold them more.  

the best part of being a mother is being there for them during these times, no matter how tired i am, or how much my back hurts from sleeping on their floor.  i am their comfort, and i lose myself and my pride and selfish desires when i get to serve them. 

and in turn, this becomes my comfort.  knowing that i may not be good at a lot of things, but i am really great at being their mom, especially when they need me most. 

summer has begun this week, and all of the 3 littles are feeling better.  the heat has arrived like an unwelcome guest, and now i'm scrambling to find a schedule that is full of activities, and chores, and reading, and cheap entertainment in places that provide shade and air conditioning. 

life is full, and good.   

blogging may have to be on the back-burner during times like these,

but i am still here.  and i'm glad you are too.