August 3, 1990

The hot hot weather is coming back today. The newscasts on TV this morning are filled with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which occurred two days ago, and I am reminded once again that the world is still a dangerous place. Jamie is marginally aware of the trouble in the Middle East, and she's worried. Not too long ago she asked me it we (meaning the U.S.A.) could ever be in a war. I told her that it might happen, "if a big country was picking on a little country, and we tried to protect the little country." So now that Iraq is "picking on" Kuwait, she's remembering what I said and she's afraid. I would like to tell her that there's nothing to worry about, but frankly I share her fears.

August 9

The problems in the Middle East continue. You can't turn on the TV or open a newspaper without hearing about it, and my concern continues to grow in spite of my best efforts to "wish it away." The U.S. has now sent troops to Saudi Arabia as a demonstration of opposition and strength.

Jamie has started writing a story -- I found one of her early efforts in her typewriter today -- and it begins like this:

"It all started at the end of world war two, when we dropped two bombs on the Japanes. Some of the poisonous gas went strate up to the sun. For some reason this only ..."

August 16, 1990

Today is Jerome and André's very last day with us! After three years, our babysitting relationship is drawing to an (amicable) close. Jerome will be going to school out in Tacoma this year, closer to their new home, and Jae and Erin want to put André in preschool. I've known for several months that they were going to be leaving, but it's still hard to believe they won't be coming here any more ...

Kyle is going to be a lost and lonely little soul without his buddy André here to play "Batman" and "Robocops" with him.

August 23

Cleaning Kyle's room this morning. Don't think I ever mentioned that he finally got his own "big boy" bed this summer: a nice little single bed with a bookcase/headboard. It used to be Ray's when he was a kid. Ray rescued it from his parents' garage last month, hauled it down to our place and lovingly repaired and cleaned it up before setting it up in Kyle's room.

Mom: "How was your new pillow? Did you sleep good?"

Kyle: "Yeah ... it was really comfurdal."

August 23, 1990

A Typical Mother/Daughter Exchange:

Jamie: "Can I have a candy bar?"

Mom: (picking her up and hugging her) "Sure, if you'll quit being so mean to me."

Jamie: "You're being mean to me. You said I was fat."

Mom: "I did not say you were fat: I said you have fat hair. Everybody wants to have fat hair!"

Jamie: (squirming out of my arms and putting on Pouty Face) "I am too fat."

Mom: (still amused but becoming slightly less so every second) "You're not fat. You're as skinny as --"

Jamie: "I AM TOO." (Serious pout, tears beginning.)

Mom: (exasperated) "Fine. If you're so fat, I guess I shouldn't be giving you a candy bar, should I?" (Jamie stomps out of the house in tears, spends next 15 minutes morosely sitting on swing, head down. Mom eats candy bar.)

August 27, 1990

Guess what? We added to the family over the weekend. Jamie has been cajoling Ray and I to let her have a kitten for months now, and we finally caved in: on Saturday afternoon, "Tigger" joined the P. household. He's an eight week old tabby with blue/gray eyes and beautiful, long fur. Jamie is simply over the moon. I have some quiet misgivings (it's so much easier keeping a pet-free house looking nice), but I'll keep them to myself.

August 30

The in-laws are coming by today; Bev and Dora are in town, and they're coming to see our "new" place. They're also going to take Kacie to get her hair cut for school.

11:15 a.m.

Well, geez ... Peg, Dora and Bev came and picked up all three of my kids (not just Kacie), visited for a couple of minutes ... and then took off! Peg said, "It'll be sometime after dinner before I bring them home." And so now here I sit. The house is immaculate, Danielle (the only "extra" kid here today) is asleep on the sofa ... what do I do now?? It isn't even noon yet and everything's done.


What a strange day. With the kids gone and only Danielle to take care of (she left at 3:30, the same time Ray left for work), I was at very loose ends. For three or four hours, until Don brought the kids home, I was COMPLETELY ALONE. What a strange and wonderful feeling. Nobody asking me, "When's dinner?" No stupid cartoons on TV. No arguments to break up, no candy wrappers on the floor, no kids ... just me, a bottle of wine, a soul-satisfying thunderstorm and the stereo. Bliss.

September 3, 1990

Labor Day

Kacie's new haircut looks adorable. She looks exactly like "Ramona," the little girl on the PBS series we love so much.

Sad news: Jamie's beloved mouse, "Sniffer," has passed on to that great mouse cage in the sky. We'd been keeping the mouse cage in Kyle's room recently, and when the girls went to check on him Friday he was dead. Needless to say there was much weeping and wailing in P.ville; half an hour later I found myself standing in the back yard, holding a Bible and presiding over a mouse funeral.

Saturday afternoon Ray stopped off at a pet store and brought home a brand-new mouse, a tiny white male. Jamie has named him "M.C. (Mighty Cute) Mouse," and it seems to have gone a long way toward healing the broken hearts around here.

Speaking of pets: the new kitty is doing fine. He's gradually getting the hang of the litter box - no more piles of kitty poop behind the stereo.

And we're all becoming fond of him, even Ray. I cooked some chicken the other night and put the scraps in Tigger's dish, and he had a wonderful time spreading it all over the laundry room. He has already picked out two or three favorite "hiding places" ... inside the bottom of the woodstove, for one, and behind my desk ... and his napping spot of choice is the top of the loveseat. We got him some toys and a scratching post this weekend, but he's shown no interest in them: he'd rather "play" with the newspaper, or bite the legs of the kitchen chairs. His favorite person is without question Jamie. I've made a great show of explaining that Tigger "belongs to the WHOLE FAMILY," not just Jamie ... but try telling that to Tigger. Or to Jamie.

September 5, 1990

First day of school. Kyle and I just got home from walking the girls to Bow Lake. Beautiful, sunny morning ... still no autumn in the air, but nice anyway. Jamie and Kacie looked adorable: new black leggings and shiny clean hair and big smiles. I took a picture of the two of them walking down the street ahead of us ... such big girls now.

When we left the school both girls were seated in their new classrooms, Kacie sitting in the front row right next to Tracy, Jamie sitting by Tia Bontempo.

Kyle is in the living room now, watching "Ernest Saves Christmas" and working on a bowl of corn flakes. Still one baby chick left in the nest. I watched him running ahead of me as we were coming home from Bow Lake this morning, and I realized with a sudden pang that this will be our last year together before he goes off and joins the girls at school. Next year at this time he'll be standing at the bus stop with the other brand-new kindergarteners. How will I be feeling on that far-off morning ...?

September 10, 1990

Jamie had an accident yesterday: while we were at the in-laws' house (to celebrate Aunt Dora' birthday), she fell out of a tree and broke both her arms! At first I thought she'd just sprained her wrist, or that she was faking it to get some attention (I'm ashamed of myself for thinking that, now). We took her to the emergency room anyway, just in case, and I'm so glad we did. A quick exam by the doctor on duty (and x-rays) revealed that both arms were broken, the left one slightly more seriously than the right. At the moment she's got splints on both arms, but after she sees Dr. Kay later today she may end up with at least one arm in a cast. We won't know until later. Needless to say, school is out for the week. She's not unhappy about that: what has her depressed is being completely immobilized. For the next few days she'll need help with everything from eating to dressing to using the bathroom. Indignity!

September 1990

There is more bad news. Mom called late last night to tell me that Grandma St. John has taken a turn for the worse. As a matter of fact she wasn't expected to make it through the night last night. I lay awake all night, waiting for a phone call saying she'd died, but as of this morning I haven't heard anything further. I'm oddly numb about this whole situation. Ray and Jamie both burst into tears last night when I told them about my grandma, but so far I haven't been able to cry and I don't know why. It's not for lack of caring. I love Grandma St. John very much.

10 a.m.

Mom just called. Grandma is still with us, but no one can say for how long. Ray and Jamie left a few minutes ago to take Jay to the doctor. My life is temporarily on hold.


Mom and Deb stopped by a while ago, as I was feeding the kids. Mom, Uncle Dick and Uncle Jerry moved Grandma to Highline Hospital this afternoon; I gather that everyone expects this to be the "last" move. Her disease has progressed so far, and she is in so much pain, that it will now be a blessing when she goes. My mother is exhausted. In the meantime there is nothing to do but wait ... and pray that the end is peaceful.

Jamie's visit with the doctor went OK. She goes back on Thursday morning to have a cast put on her left arm. Until then she has to take it easy and "allow" me to take care of her. She's in good spirits: all the attention hasn't hurt her any! She's been deluged with phone calls and visitors all day. (When Grandpa P. called a few minutes ago I had to hold the phone to her ear for her.) It really hit home today, I think, how narrowly we avoided catastrophe here. As heart-crunching as it is, seeing her struggle with the awkward splints, it could have been so much worse. What if she'd landed on her back, for instance? She could have been paralyzed - or worse. I think there must have been an angel watching over her yesterday.

Thank you, Lord.

September 11, 1990

Well, the tears are here finally ...

Grandma St. John passed away this morning at 9 a.m. Mom called to give me the news.

Something I read once has been on my mind this week. It goes like this:

A Parable of Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud, just where the sea and sky come down and mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!" Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just when someone at my side says, "There she goes," there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

September 13, 1990

Grandma's obituary was in the newspaper yesterday. Here's what it says:

"Carla (De Grasse) St. John

Was born on November 24, 1913 in Wenatchee, Washington. She grew up in East Wenatchee and spent some time in Yakima during World War II, moving to Seattle in 1944. In 1945, she and her husband, Arthur St. John, moved to the Boulevard Park area where she remained until her death. Arthur died in August 1958. Following his death, she went to work for the Highline School District in the capacity of Audio-Visual Secretary. She retired in 1979. In 1981, Carla became an active volunteer in the development of the Highline School District Museum at Sunnydale. Recognized as Curator, she spent countless hours cataloging items in the Museum's growing collection of educational and Highline area historic memorabilia. She is survived by her daughter, Karen Beeson, Federal Way; two sons, Richard St. John, Federal Way, and Jerry St. John, Arctic, Washington; seven grandchildren; four great grandchildren; and two brothers, R.W. (Bill) and W.R. (Dick) De Grasse, of Wenatchee. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at Yarington's Funeral Home Chapel."

Got Kacie out of bed earlier than usual today, at 7:30 a.m. She's turned into a "dawdler" this year ... lingering over her bowl of Frosted Flakes until it's nearly time to leave ... then it's a frantic rush to brush her teeth, comb her hair, find her sweater and her homework, etc. etc. So this morning we're trying a new tactic, getting an earlier start. By 8 a.m. she was dressed, had finished her breakfast and was allowed to watch cartoons for half an hour until it was time to leave. Kacie has been great the past few days, though. Not only has she been good about doing Jamie's share of the chores, she was also the one who sat and cried with me on Tuesday night, after Grandma died. She and I listened to all our favorite sad songs together ("The Bramble and the Rose," "Everything I Own," "Puff The Magic Dragon," "Mrs. Steele's Song") and cried our eyes out. It was a very cathartic evening.

Jamie gets her cast on this morning at 11 a.m.; Ray is taking her to the doctor's because I have to babysit Danielle and Joey. She's a little nervous about the whole thing. "Will it hurt?" she asked me, and I honestly didn't know what to tell her. I've never broken a bone in my life, and - until now - never had a kid with a broken anything. Jamie is the guinea pig.


Jamie got two casts put on, after all.

September 17

The funeral was simple, warm and loving. My sister sang a song, I read "A Parable of Immortality," and Ray was a pallbearer. We buried Grandma St. John on a beautifully sunny, warm Indian Summer afternoon, next to Grandpa Art St. John (who passed away in August 1958). It was the kind of day Grandma would have loved. When we went back to her house after the funeral for a family get-together, I halfway expected to find her sitting in her lawn chair on the patio, sipping her wine and diet 7-Up and reading one of her paperback novels.

I'm sitting here now, surrounded by piles and piles of Grandma "memorabilia," which my mom brought over yesterday. Frankly, it's hard for me to see her beautiful things here in my house - I wept last night, sorting through it all - but I'm glad I have some things to remember her by. Part of her collection of "owls" now grace the dining room ... a bedspread from her house is on Kyle's bed ... there are knick knacks and assorted odds and ends throughout the house.

September 18

Jamie seems to be managing fairly well, in spite of the two klunky casts. The one on her left arm extends past her elbow; the other is smaller and lighter. Both casts are covered with autographs from friends and family, and I suspect that beneath the grumbles and complaints about how "uncomfortable" she is, Jamie is secretly very proud of her "badges of honor." They certainly merit her a ton of attention.

September 24, 1990

The kids and I shared a sweet moment on Saturday night. It had finally cooled off some (reached 92 that day!) and the stars were out. Jamie came running into the house all excited because she thought she'd spotted a constellation in the sky, so we all went trooping out into the front yard in our p.j.'s to do some "star-gazing." The sky was clear, the view was magnificent. Kyle had his little toy radio with him, the one that winds up and plays "When You Wish Upon A Star." (Synchronicity!) I said to the kids, "I wonder if Grandma can see us?," and we all looked up at the sky and blew kisses at her. It was a lovely and touching moment.

Kyle: (after taking a huge swig of pop) "MMMMMM, be-freshing!"

September 19, 1990

Royal battle with Jamie a few minutes ago. I asked her to wear a jacket for the chilly morning walk to school, and she balked, flounced, pouted, whined, announced that she was going to take it off the minute she was out of my sight ("Then Kacie will tell me about it when you get home this afternoon," I replied); finally, she declared that she wasn't going to "go to school AT ALL." Good grief. Ultimately she stalked out the door with Kacie, the offending jacket sort of dangling unzipped from her shoulders. I suppose this is merely a taste of things to come. I may have won the battle this morning, but something tells me the war has just begun.

Kacie and I never seem to argue about things like this: as a matter of fact, we never argue, period. We have our bad moments, but instead of snapping back at me or slamming doors (like Jamie does), or throwing a temper tantrum (like Kyle does), Kacie merely bows her head and weeps. It is absolutely devastating. Nothing can wrench my gut the way Kacie's broken hearted tears can. She reminds me of the little violet who "leaves its scent on the heel of the one who crushed it" ... no matter how hard I am on her, how unfair, how hurtful, she never turns it back at me. Sometimes I wish she would, if only to prevent her from bottling things up inside. But that's just the thing ... there honestly doesn't seem to be anything in her to bottle up. She harbors no poisons, no murderous thoughts. Her pain is excised in those silent little tears, and the soul inside her is left as clean and sweet and forgiving as the day she was born.

But you know, this is actually one of the things I love most about my children; the diversity in their temperaments, personalities, thinking processes, feelings. I really wouldn't have it any other way. I adore Jamie's feisty spirit, Kacie's sweet and forgiving nature, Kyle's rough and tumble enthusiasm. I love how different they are from each other. Who wants cookie-cutter kids, anyway??


Kacie and I were in a car, going over a cliff. As we were plunging downward, I grabbed her hand to show her how much I love her. "Am I in trouble?" she asked, sadly.

September 24, 1990

Nice little case of the "screaming green envies" this evening ... the niggling feeling that everyone in the world has their life on track but me. Janet dropped by to show me her new car. It's not "new-new," it's a 1979 Honda Something-or-other, but it beats hell out of what I've got, which is nothing. So depressed that I've completely blown my diet: I've eaten English muffins with jam, a cold taco and four cookies. I am not pleased with myself - or my life. Do you realize that I can't even send a $10 check to my Stephen King Book Club without asking Ray to write it for me? Or that I don't have one single solitary piece of valid I.D. except for an expired library card?! It's almost as though I don't really exist. A non-entity. Sometimes I look into the mirror and halfway expect to find no one reflected there.

October 2, 1990

Just got home from an exhilarating early morning walk in the great autumn air. Today is Picture Day at school, and I took Kyle to the school to get his picture taken. He was so cute: he wore his new turtleneck, the one with gray and blue stripes, and the bolo tie Grandma V. gave him, and Ray took him to get his hair cut yesterday so he looked neat and nice ... he looked right into the camera and smiled his cutest smile. I can't wait to see how the picture turns out.

The girls start their new dance classes next week, and they're very excited. Jamie is taking tap and Kacie picked ballet. The woman who runs the dance school, Mrs. Walden, is an old friend of my mom's and she sounds really nice on the phone. "Karen isn't old enough to have granddaughters in my class!" she said.

October 9, 1990

... Where is our kitty?? ...

I let him out this morning at 7:30, and now he's nowhere in sight. Getting worried. Tigger is the center of the kids' universe. If anything happens to him, I will have three very distraught children on my hands.

October 10

I have three very distraught children on my hands. Shit.

Tigger didn't come home at all yesterday. By mid-afternoon the kids and I were out in the pouring rain, combing the neighborhood. The girls knocked on doors and put up "Have You Seen Our Kitty?" signs around the street, but to no avail: Tigger was nowhere to be found. It began storming heavily after dinner: the four of us sat gloomily in front of the fire, watching out the window as the rain fell relentlessly. It was a somber evening. The kids were actually more philosophical and calm than I'd expected them to be ... worried, and sad, but calm. The truth is that I feel in my heart Tigger is gone for good. I hope and pray that some kind person has taken him in and adopted him: that's the only real hope I have right now. I realize now that I'd grown very fond of my Kitty Boy, and I'm going to miss him.

October 13

It's now been four days since Tigger ran off, and the kids appear to have reached a place of sorrowful acceptance. Tangible reminders of him remain around the house ... the new litter box we bought the day before he disappeared, the half-empty box of kitten chow, some of his little cat toys ... and it hurts to see them. Every once in a while Jamie lapses into a wordless depression, and I know where her thoughts have gone. Tigger was her "baby." She used to sit for hours and just pick at his fur, grooming him the way a mama car grooms her kittens; he would nestle into her arms and purr with pleasure. His disappearance has been harder on her than anyone. I wish there were something I could do to ease her pain, but I know that only time (and another kitty someday, maybe) is only thing that will mend her broken heart.

October 19, 1990

We have a kitty again!

No, Tigger didn't magically reappear on our doorstep (although I still find myself listening for his plaintive "meeow" in the mornings). This new kitty is a gift from Janet B. She's an eleven week old female we've named "Sabrina" ... "Brina" for short. She's a pretty, tortoise shell brown, very feminine, very quiet and mellow. You'd hardly know she's here ... she's spent most of her time the past two days sleeping behind the washer and dryer. So none of us have had a chance to get acquainted with her yet. Jamie managed to coax her onto her lap for a minute last night, and then Jamie sat there and picked at her fur, the way she used to do with Tigger. I can tell that Jamie's heart isn't in it 100%: she still misses Tigger, and Sabrina hasn't earned her spot in Jay's heart yet. Maybe with time.

Jamie got the second cast taken off last week. So nice to see those beautiful little arms again! Already she's talking about the hand stands she's doing in P.E., and I cringe at the very thought ...

On Saturday night a gigantic windstorm knocked our power out for nearly two hours. Ray and the kids were at the video store and I was home alone when it happened. The weird thing about it is that just a few minutes before the electricity went out, I was seized with a sudden urge to light candles all around the house! The kids and Ray were delighted when they got home and discovered what had happened. We spent our two hours of darkness reading and drawing by candlelight listening to the battery-powered radio, talking, and thoroughly enjoying the novelty of the situation.

October 30

P.ville is ready for Hallowe'en tomorrow. Paper pumpkins, witches and black cats adorn the windows ... fake spider webs are draped from the furniture ... two big jack o'lanterns sit waiting on the living room floor. Jamie's gypsy costume and Kacie's witch ensemble are nearly ready: they need only a bit of fine-tuning and then we're all set. We'll assemble Kyle's "Ninja Turtle" costume tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be CRAZY: I'm exhausted already, just contemplating it. I've got to go to Kacie's class for a couple of hours in the morning to help with reading, come home at lunch, help Kyle into his Turtle stuff, go to Jamie's class party from 1:00 to 2:30 ... early dinner, the girls to dance class (5:00-6:00), my mom is dropping treats off for the kids ... then two or three hours' worth of trudging around in the rain trick-or-treating. Whew! Then I'm going to collapse and not do a damned thing for the rest of the week.

November 9, 1990

A bit of a Hallowe'en tale to share ...

After the girls got home from dance class on Hallowe'en night, we put on our coats and grabbed the flashlights and set out on our adventure. It was raining, moderately, but we were bundled up and it wasn't cold so I figured we would be OK. Unfortunately, just as we reached 42nd Avenue and started knocking on doors, the sky literally opened up and dumped on us. I am not kidding: it was raining so hard you couldn't see three feet in front of you. In an instant the kids were soaking wet and miserable. I watched pour little Kyle trying to make his way through the rain, dragging his trick or treat bag behind him, and I knew we couldn't go on. I was just about to tell the kids that I was sorry but we would have to cut it short and go home - when a miracle occurred. We turned around, and standing right behind us was our old friend from Shannon South, Maryann S., and her son Christopher. I was never so happy to see anyone in my life. Maryann whisked us away in her car, which was parked nearby, and took us all over to her new apartment at Pine Ridge. For the next two hours we trick-or-treated in the warmth and comfort of Pine Ridge (and, later, at Shannon South, where we caught up with Lori and Tracy). By the time Maryann drove us home at 9 p.m., the kids had enormous bulging sacks of goodies, and we were exhausted but happy. Maryann literally saved Hallowe'en for us, and I will be eternally grateful to her for that,

The Hallowe'en candy, incredibly, is already gone. The little monkeys must have sat in their bedrooms and gorged while I was sick in bed with the flu.

November 13

Cut Jamie's hair last night - a good seven inches worth, all the way around, and trimmed her bangs as well. This was per her request, I might add. "I want my hair to look like Paula Abdul's," she said. As a matter of fact it looks very neat and nice. Now both my girls are back to having short hair again, and they both look very pretty. Trouble is: they know it. Especially Jamie. Clothes, accessories, hair styles ... all that stuff is so important to her! She pranced off to school this morning in a hip-hugging black mini-skirt with matching leather belt, a black and white striped pullover, black tights and white boots. She set her hair last night before bed so her newly-short hair was a riot of curls. She looked like she'd just stepped out of a catalog. If I had appeared at the breakfast table in such a get-up at age eight and a half, Grandma would have locked me in a closet and thrown away the key.

WISH LIST 1990/1991

1. New babysitting clients!!

2. Dining table and chairs

3. New mattresses for the girls' bunkbeds

4. Sofa and love seat

5. Frames for the Parrish prints

6. Brownie uniform for Jamie

7. Area rug in front of TV (liv. room)

8. 30 lb. weight loss

9. Sinead O'Connor, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got"

10. Roxette, "Look Sharp"

11. "Pretty Woman" Soundtrack


13. New bathrobe, emerald green or hot pink

14. Coffee grinder

15. New table lamp for living room

16. Canister set for kitchen (something to compliment my spice rack)


KHRYSTINE HAJE!!!! (ex-"Head of the Class")

Denise Austin (exercise-video queen, Diet Rite spokesnerd)

TINA YOTHERS!! (ex-"Family Ties")

"Wil" on All My Children

"Billy Taylor" in the Bartell Drugs commercials

"Bianca" on All My Children


"Edward Scissorhands"


"Dances With Wolves"

"Green Card"


November 26, 1990

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Dinner was at my Uncle Jerry's house in Cosmopolis, near Aberdeen -- we call it "the farm" -- Mom rented a van for the day and we all drove down together. (A two-hour drive, each way.) The kids had a ball playing with my cousins Kelli (13) and Ben (10), riding Kelli's horse, helping Aunt Jody bake bread, running around the farm and playing in the barn, watching Ben feed the chickens, etc. etc. A real "day in the country" for my little suburbanites!

On Saturday we took the kids (in the pouring rain) to the nearby Pizza Hut to have dinner and see Santa Claus! That was fun. I always love it when the five of us go out to eat; it makes us seem like such a nice, "normal" family. And having Santa there made it really special. Kacie and Kyle marched right over to him and immediately began peppering him with questions. ("How old are you?" "Do you know my mom and dad?" "How many reindeers do you have?") Jamie, who is facing her first Santa-less Christmas, was a great deal more dignified: she sat in her chair and smiled indulgently at her little brother and sister, occasionally turning around to flash me a conspiratory smile.

We have "house guests" ... Jerome and André are here until Wednesday. Erin and Jae had to go to Eastern Washington for a funeral, so the boys are staying with us. Kyle is very excited about having his "buddies" here to play with, and I can certainly use the extra money, so I guess I can overlook the added noise and mess and aggravation for the next few days. My heart goes out to Erin and the boys anyway: Jae, who is in the National Guard, has been called up for active duty in the Persian Gulf (as part of Operation Desert Shield); he leaves in a couple of weeks. They have a baby due in the spring, too. I can only imagine how Erin must be feeling.

Kyle: "Mom, my magazine is in your baffroom - could I please go get it?"

December 7

After another babysitting arrangement blows up in my face, at a time when money was a real concern:

Yesterday was Travis' first day here: unfortunately, it was probably also his last.

His mom says she doesn't think she can "afford" my $2.00/hour rates. Naturally I'm disappointed but I guess it's for the best. I didn't relish the idea of getting up at 3:30 a.m. every day, anyway. And he is another one of those slow-witted, helpless kids that drive me nuts ... still wearing a diaper at age four, incapable of putting on his own shoes or finding the bathroom without a map.

December 7, 1990

Jamie's birthday is in two days, and since it falls on a weekend this year, she decided to bring a birthday treat for her class today. We decided on popcorn balls, since they're quick, cheap and easy ... or so we thought. Unfortunately, the popcorn chose that moment to quit working! And this was after we'd already melted the butter and marshmallows, so we were really stuck. Jamie said, "That's OK, Mom, forget about it." I promised that I'd have Daddy pick up some cookies in the morning and drop them off at her classroom today, and she said that would be "fine." But I still felt like I was letting her down.

I went to bed and tried to sleep, but I was so bothered about the popcorn balls that I couldn't relax. Finally I decided to get up and give the popcorn popper one last shot. I plugged it in and - presto! - it worked fine. Jamie was taking a shower, and by the time she was done I had two big bowls of popcorn ready to go. We mixed it together with the marshmallow glop, but then Jamie insisted on taking over and shooed me back to bed. An hour later I came out to check on her. She was only

two-thirds of the way finished and her eyelids were drooping, so this time I sent her off to bed. "You can get up early in the morning and finish," I told her. She numbly agreed and staggered off to bed.

At 3:30 a.m. I was too keyed-up to sleep and I found myself sitting at the kitchen table rolling popcorn balls. Thirty-five of them, all together. When Jamie got out of bed this morning and saw the popcorn balls all rolled and wrapped up and ready to go, she looked at me and said "Thank you!" with so much gratitude that it made all the mess and trouble more than worthwhile.

Moral of this story: a really great parent can make popcorn balls at 4 a.m. and still be smiling at breakfast.

Continued ...


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