August 5, 1984


This has been a weekend of thunderstorms, hydroplane races on TV and potato soup brewing in the crockpot ... Ray getting down on all fours and chasing the girls around the living room ... watching "Mr. Mom" on Showtime three times, eating pizza on Saturday night and steak sandwiches on Sunday, and going grocery-shopping while Terry babysat the girls ...

Jamie invented a new cereal: Cocoa Krispies mixed with Smurf Cereal. She also pooped her pants repeatedly, in spite of our latest attempt at bribery -- a basket of little gift-wrapped prizes that she can choose from, IF she uses the potty. So far the prize basket hasn't proved sufficient motivation, I guess.

Kacie P. discovered our newest kitten, a month-old calico we've named Lucy, and insisted on carrying her around by the neck until we finally had to hide the kitten to protect her from Monster Daughter.

Kacie also discovered lollipops this weekend: she rubbed them into her hair until it was as stiff and spiked as Billy Idol's.

I took a brief "vacation" from housework, and by Sunday morning the house was filthy. I was horrified, therefore, to look out the window at 11 a.m. and see my father-in-law pulling into the driveway. He'd come to collect the rent from Ray. I barely had time to throw a bathrobe over my ancient nightgown before he got to the door. He brushed aside my apologies about the mess ("You should see our place," he said, although I seriously doubt that he has Smurf Cereal and wet diapers all over his kitchen floor) and visited with us for about an hour.

He gave us some family news (hard to come by these days, since we don't have a phone): Dora and Helene will be here from Tucson later this month, and then Patty, John and Gerald are coming at the end of the month. Grandma Deines has postponed her visit from Arkansas until Christmas. Barbara starts high school next month.

The L.A. Olympics moved into their second week, Richard Burton died, and the Miss Budweiser won the Seafair trophy.

August 1984

Kacie pushed one of the big lamps off the stereo speaker today and it broke into a million pieces. Now we only have one lamp left. I was really pissed, but she was so upset about it that I didn't have the heart to do more than scold her a little. Even that much punishment from Mama broke her heart; she cried uncontrollably for half an hour. I finally had to pick her up and rock with her in the rocking chair to calm her down.

August 8

This summer is passing unbelievably slowly ... one hot, sticky day melting into another, into another, into another ...

The thunderstorms last week gave us some temporary relief, but today it's back to temps in the 90's. I'm so tired of it. I think ahead longingly to autumn ... chilly mornings, cool afternoons, icy nights ... leaves falling, fires in the fireplace, rainstorms, Hallowe'en ... and it all seems a million light years away. Sigh.

August 9

Mind-numbingly depressed this morning. There is Smurf Cereal all over the kitchen floor ... I just stepped in it, with bare feet ... seven cats milling around my living room ... the damned Olympics on TV for the eleventh day in a row ... and although it's only 9 a.m. it's already up in the 80's. Jamie is in a bossy, imperious mood. "Hey! Need milk on my cereal! Hey, need cold milk 'nee my ba-ba!" And Kacie P. just put her (half-full) cereal bowl on her head.

I'm telling you: I don't know how much more of this I can take! The month of July lasted for a year and a half, and August is showing every indication of lasting twice as long. Will summer ever end?

August 22, 1984

Caught in the act

When I got up in the morning, Jamie was messing around in the kitchen. Nothing much seemed to be out of place, except that my camera (with three pictures left on the roll) was sitting on the counter. Usually I keep it safely up in the cupboard. "Did you open this?" I asked Jamie, sternly.

"No, I din't open dat!" she said. But suddenly I had my doubts. If she did fool around with the camera and it popped open, even for a second, all of yesterday's pictures of Ray's aunts, Helene and Dora, are lost.

"You don't TOUCH my camera!" I snapped at her, putting it back up on the high cupboard shelf. "I mean it, Jamie."

Her lower lip began to tremble. "Hey," she said shakily, "Don't talk 'me like dat!" This is her new comeback, and it annoys the hell out of me. I was too sleepy and grumpy to push the point, though, so I ignored her: I walked out of the kitchen and down the hallway to pull the wet sheets off the beds. Still standing in the kitchen, Jamie began to wail. "I'm a good gir now! I'M A GOOOOD GIRRRRR NOW!" This is another new thing. If I don't reassure her that yes, she's a good girl now, she will wail forever. So I stopped and hugged her and told her everything was OK.

(When the developed film came back from the store a few weeks later, there was a picture of the kitchen table - ? - that I couldn't remember taking. Then it dawned on me: this is the picture Jamie took, just before I walked into the kitchen that morning ...)

August 1984

Scene from today

Jamie is playing outside, Kacie is napping, Mama is slumped in an armchair. Suddenly Jamie comes scampering into the house. "What's that, Mom?!" she shouts.

"What, honey?" I ask, getting up to look.

"What's dat out dere by gate?" she asks again, running back to the carport and pointing at the ground. There is a very small - and very dead - gray mouse, laying beside the garbage can. "That's just a mousey," Mama says. "He won't hurt you."

"Ohhhh ..." Jamie says, looking solemnly at the inert little creature. I figure I'll ask Ray to move it when he gets home from work, and I go back inside.

Moments later Jamie dashes back into the house and jumps onto my lap, throwing her arms around my neck. "Oh," she whimpers, "I got sit here 'nit Mom, so dat mousey don't get me!" Lately she has been displaying a fear of bugs, squirrels and birds ("Dat birdy almost get me now!"). Apparently her phobia extends now to "mousies" ... even very flat mousies.

Just then Mike, the boy from next door, rides his bike past our house. Jamie runs out the door and flags him down, chattering at him to "Come here and SEE! Come here and SEE!" He pulls his bike into our driveway and Jamie shows him the dead mouse, which he promptly scoops up and tosses into the garbage can.

Satisfied that "dat Mousey ALL GONE NOW," Jamie returns to her play. Mike is her hero for the rest of the day.

August 23, 1984

The girls are standing/sitting on the camphor chest ... Jamie, in pink rosebud panties, waves her hands dramatically and sings along with Berlin ("Noo-more-words") ... Kacie, in a pink jammy top and dry diaper, one ponytail on top of her head, happily chews on a green Lego ... both of them watch Madge The Manicurist on TV with a concentration usually reserved for Big Bird ...

My girls. I was such an old bear to them yesterday. Today I look at them and see how very small they are ... how much they depend on me ... and I vow that I'll make today a happy day for them both.

September 8, 1984

Jamie just shouted "God dam't Sissy!" when Kacie slammed the kitchen door shut.

Kacie is in the throes if agony this morning: her beloved "blanky blanky" is in the washer. She watched me put it in with the rest of the laundry, and from her outraged reaction you would've thought I'd just put Jamie in there.

Another morning:

Kacie is running around the house this morning with two dirty forks in her hand and peanut shells in her hair.

Another-another morning:

This morning Jamie is in one of her Queen Victoria moods. "Put milk on my cereal!" she ordered me. For some reason this nearly had me in tears, and I refused to do anything for her until she "asked me nicely." That completely pissed her off, but I held firm and finally she said "'Scuse me, Mom ... you can put milk in my bowl ... please?"

August 1984

Kacie has a funny new word this week: "flowers." What's funny is the way she says it, with her lips puckered and her cheeks all puffed up. She sort of blows the words out ... "FOWFS!"

Jamie has been painting with my watercolors this week. I notice that she usually starts out holding the paint brush in her right hand, but then invariably switches to her left. So far all she "paints" are great muddy globs of colors, but she's enjoying herself. I'm kind of watching to see if she's the daughter who inherits the V. artistic talent, but it's too early to tell.

September 1984

Typical Jamie comments

1. I bring a new roll of toilet paper into the bathroom as Jamie is sitting on the pot.

"OHHH!" she says. "Daddy bought SOME. Good girl, Daddy. I'm gonna wipe my BOM!"

2. "I wanna sit on Mama's MAP!" she says. "How come?" I ask, playfully. She grins hugely at me and says, "Cuz I'm your GIR."

3. She has a new thing she says when I get angry with her: "You hurt my feens." (You hurt my feelings)

September 10, 1984

We were touched by death over the weekend ... while we were at the in-laws' Saturday evening, our kitten, Lucy, was hit by a car and killed. Through a series of mix-ups I didn't find out about it until Sunday morning. I wept all day. Today I still feel a twinge of sadness every time I look out the window and see her empty bed. We only knew Lucy for two months, but she was a special kitty and I loved her dearly. Poor Wendie is desolate ... she looks for her baby everywhere.

Ray buried Lucy out in the backyard last night, planting a couple of new evergreens on top of her grave.

The special thing about Lucy was the relationship she and Wendie had. Because she was the only kitten in the litter, and because she had to face almost insurmountable odds just to survive the first few days of her life, Lucy was coddled right from the start. She and Wendie were given the privilege of staying indoors, day and night, so I had plenty of opportunity to watch them up close. Wendie loved that baby the way any mother loves her firstborn. They would nuzzle and nip each other; when Lucy got out of hand, Wendie would growl and swat at her, gently but firmly. If Lucy wandered too far away, Wendie would "call" for her and the baby would come running back to Mama's side. It reminded me, for all the world, of the girls and I. It was the same kind of intimate, one-on-one interchange. I remember thinking one evening not long ago, as the two of them cuddled by the fireplace, that I should "enjoy this while it lasts." Lucy was getting bigger, and pretty soon it would have been time for her and Wendie to move outside, permanently. Now I'm glad I appreciated them together while I had the chance.

Goodbye, Lucy. You gave me moments of joy, and I will miss you.

September 19, 1984

Kacie at eighteen months

Kacie has turned into an adorable pixie of a little girl, with twinkling blue eyes and an impish grin. Her shoulder-length hair is as straight and fine as my own - she loves to have it brushed - and I purposely keep her bangs on the short side, to emphasize the elfin quality of her face. She mugs and prances, hops and dances, teases, flirts, shows off, copies Jamie, copies Mama ... I call her "Bumblebee" because she is always so busy. One minute she's climbing onto the camphor chest to do a little jig; the next minute she's sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, surrounded by every pot and pan we own. She babbles constantly in that ancient foreign language of babies. Occasionally a "real" word or two pops out. ("Stand up," I said to her this morning after diapering. "STAN!" she echoed happily.)

I gave her a red crayon this morning and showed her how to scribble with it on a piece of paper. The crayon went directly into her mouth. "No no, Sweetie!" I said. Kacie is sensitive to criticism or reprimand; she stood stock-still for a moment, her lower lip jutting out, her whole mouth an unhappy upside-down smile, her eyes cast to the floor. I tried again to show her how to draw; once again the crayon went into her mouth. "Not in your mouth!" I said, a little more sternly. This time the lower lip wobbled as it jutted out, and she gave a hiccupy-sniffle. Finally I had to take the crayon away from her: her lips were covered with waxy red flecks. By this time, fortunately, she was too busy tearing pages out of a Penney's catalog to notice that "coloring time" was over for the day.

September 20, 1984

Yikes! Payday is a whole week away, and our cupboards are bare. The girls are having pancakes for lunch today ... not because that's what I feel like making, but because all I need to add to the mix is water. And water, fortunately, is something I have plenty of ...

Pouring down rain this morning. The girls are milling around my feet, looking to me for entertainment. Oh well. I always wanted to be a camp counselor: here's my chance!

So. How do you entertain a couple of antsy toddlers on a rainy day in September ...? You make "panmakes!" That's a start, anyway: the novelty of having them for lunch has intrigued Jamie.

Oh shit. I don't have any oil! Are the panmakes going to stick to the pan?


September 21, 1984

The forehead scar

Kacie just hit her little head, hard, against the base of the piano. At first I thought it was just another run-of-the-mill "bonk," the kind that happens a million times a day around here, so I gave her a kiss and said, "All better." Then I went off to get her a clean diaper. When I came back into the room a minute later, her forehead was covered with blood! There was a little gash about this big: I bandaged it and gave her a baby aspirin, but I'm wondering if she needs stitches ...? Damn the fact we have no PHONE ...

October 1, 1984

The Western Kraft picnic

The company picnic this year was a fiasco. Kacie was a holy terror ... she wandered out of sight every five minutes. She climbed onto other families' picnic tables, knocking over their drinks and helping herself to their food. She laid down in the mud with her blanket and rolled around. She ate brown popcorn she found in the dirt, grabbed toys away from strange children, threw her dinner on the ground and chased after a dog that was big enough to bite her in half ... I tried to relax and let her have fun, but it was impossible. One minute she would be doing a merry little dance in the grassy field, and I would be watching her with great pleasure: the next minute she would squat down and begin stuffing broken peanut shells into her mouth. Then I'd be the Nazi Mama again, barking at her to "Get back to this table!" She takes any harsh words so personally; by the end of the day her high spirits had been pretty effectively squashed.

There was one moment that was especially bad. I can't get it out of my head. Kacie was prancing around in the field, several yards from our table. I was keeping an eye on her, prepared to dash after her if she wandered off. She twirled and jumped and kicked up her heels. As I watched her - pigtails flying, Osh Kosh overalls covered with dirt and peanut shells, cheeks rosy, eyes bright - I was filled with a very tender, amused love for my little daughter. There were two hundred people at that picnic, but for the moment the universe was composed of Kacie and I.

That's when it happened. All of a sudden there was a boy standing in front of her, maybe twelve years old or so, wearing a yellow hat and kicking a volleyball around in the grass. Without even thinking about it, I leapt off my seat at the picnic table and ran towards Kacie. I don't know what I was thinking: I suppose I was afraid this big brute was going to hurt my baby. It was pure instinct. The boy leaned down with a smile and handed the ball to Kacie, and she smiled back at him. It all happened in the blink of an eye, and by the time I realized how harmless the situation was I was already on the two of them. The boy saw me coming, grabbed his volleyball away from Kacie and shuffled off, looking embarrassed. Kacie watched him walk away, bewildered. I took her in my arms and carried her back to the picnic table. She soon forgot all about the boy in the yellow hat, but I couldn't forget it. I couldn't push the image from my mind: Kacie's sweet expression of trust and delight when the boy handed her the ball, and her two or three seconds of happiness before I came charging onto the scene like an enraged rhino. It made me feel sad and stupid ... like one of those people who pop little kids' balloons, just for fun ...

Realistically, I know that Kacie won't even remember this day. Even if she did, I doubt that she would read much into it. I imagine there will be lots of boys in yellow hats in her life, and that this won't be the last time Mama spoils her fun. Still, whenever I think about those two minutes at the picnic, I wish I could do it all over. I wouldn't budge from that picnic bench: I would let Kacie have her moment with the boy in the yellow hat.

October 4, 1984

Jamie sits on the floor with a tin canister of Duplo building blocks and begins to build a "car." Kacie watches her from across the room for a while. What interesting games Jamie comes up with! Beaming, she toddles over and sits on the floor next to Jamie, giving her big sister a sunny smile. "NNN! AAAH-AH-AH!" Kacie sings pleasantly, reaching into the can for a Duplo.

"NO!" Jamie says sharply, yanking it away from Kacie.

Kacie's good humor will not be squelched. She jumps up and grabs a pair of plastic spoons, which Jamie had abandoned earlier. Gleefully mouthing the spoons, Kacie wanders around the living room, humming. She watches some TV commercials, climbs up on the camphor chest, waves the spoons at Mom. Then, leaving the spoons on the camphor chest for a moment, she wanders back to Jamie, who has been surreptitiously watching Kacie's every move the past few minutes.

Jamie has taken her Duplo "car" apart and has put the blocks back into the can. She dashes over to the camphor chest, grabs the spoons, and dumps them into the can with the Duplos. Now she has all the toys.

Dismayed, Kacie tries to reclaim the spoons. Jamie shoves her away and says, "NO." At this point I decide to intercede. "Hey!" I say to Jamie. "You give her those spoons back right now." Jamie casts me a baleful look. Then, without meeting Kacie's eye, she hands her one spoon, very grudgingly ...

Jamie Lynn P. keeps demanding (in her most imperious tone) that I "Come HERE, Mom." (To watch the cow jump over the moon on Sesame Street, to get the spider out of the bathtub, to see why Sissy is crying again.)

She comes into my bed and snuggles with me in the mornings, after Ray leaves for work. Before we get up we lay in bed and talk about what we're going to do with our day. "What else we godda do?" she asks happily, as I list my chores for the day, what meals we'll have, what games we'll play. She loves being organized as much as her Mom does.

Jamie says "I love you" now ... it comes out "I wuv eyoo," in a way that would melt the hardest heart.

Kacie's favorite TV commercial is an ad for Windex, A man and woman are cleaning windows, when the husband says, "Sweetie - clean your streak!" For no earthly reason I can fathom, Kacie comes completely undone every time he says that.

October 19, 1984

Friday night, late. Ray is still out: who knows when he'll be home? Pizza in the oven. Rosé wine. Bouquet of chrysanthemums on the table in front of me, yellow, purple and yellow/red mixed. Jamie refuses to go to bed and is perched, pixie-like, on the table next to the flowers. Earlier tonight she took one of my eyebrow pencils and drew herself a pair of false eyebrows, above her real ones: it gives her face a weird, Kabuki quality.

November 1984

The Christmas season has begun ... on TV, anyway. I have yet to hear my first holiday song on the radio, but there has been an onslaught of Christmas commercials on TV, for toys mostly. Every time a toy commercial comes on, Jamie says (very smugly), "Santa Claus gonna bring me one of dose!"

She almost burned the house down last night. A few days ago Kacie tore the paper lampshade off Jamie's bedroom lamp, leaving only a bare light bulb. So last night Jamie draped four shirts over the bulb, trying to dim the light in her room. When I smelled smoke, I walked into her room just as the shirts were starting to smolder: holes were already burned in all four of them.

Jamie (holding up one finger): "I can push ONE chair an' get ONE drinka water. Cuz I'm very firsty. OKAY Mom."

She's a clown this morning: Mt. Rushmore T-shirt, rosebud underpants, blue ankle socks. "Mom-mee, wook at me!" she says impatiently. She's bending over with her bottom in the air, peering at me upside-down through her legs.

"DERE! Dat movie's ALL DONE. My Tom and Jerry's gonna come on."

(To no one in particular) "I can have some pine cone juice, ha ha ha."

Mom: (looking at Jamie, who is using a toy hammer to eat an apple) "And God bless

Jamie, best of all."

Jamie: (mouth full of apple) "Amen."

Hallowe'en 1984

Last night was Hallowe'en ... clear and very cold. Rick Bruff stayed here with Kacie for half an hour, while I took Jay trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. I would have loved to have taken Kacie, too, but her runny nose has me worried: I thought it was best not to drag her out into the frigid night air. As it turned out, Jamie wore two sets of clothes under her costume (her red and white striped Garfield p.j.'s, a paper New Year's Eve hat and clown makeup), plus a coat and mittens over that, and she still got cold after only a few minutes. When we got home and I wiped off the red makeup on her nose, there was a REAL red nose underneath.

November 1984

Jamie has fallen asleep here on the sofa next to me ... covered up with my big afghan ... green "owl" bottle hanging out of her mouth. She looks so sweet and comfortable, the very picture of innocence.

Kacie is prancing around the house in damp pigtails, pink p.j.'s and striped socks. She insisted on the socks, even though her jammies already have "feet" on them. So I just put the socks on, right over the jammy feet.

Things I Am An Expert At

by Mom

1. Making scrapbooks.

2. Removing spaghetti sauce stains from children's clothing.

3. Applying liquid eyeliner.

4. Cooking meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, homemade french fries and fried chicken.

5. Catching colds.

6. Trimming Christmas trees.

7. Making pointless lists of stuff.

November 27, 1984

Another wild, stormy day. Winds last night got up to 60 mph. I kept trying to think what we'd do if a tree blew over and crashed through the window. Today the wind has subsided a little, but that prickly, "electric" storm feeling lingers in the air, and the rain continues to fall steadily ...

I started to watch "Testament" on PBS - a movie about a family who survives a nuclear war - but it upset me too much, so I went to bed with a couple of new magazines and Ray brought me dinner on a tray. I felt like a coward, giving up on the movie before it was even half over, but it took me so long to get over "The Day After" last year that I just couldn't bear to go through it all over again. Things like that stick with me for weeks and weeks, leaving me feeling sad and hopeless.

November 29, 1984

Took the girls to Sears to have their picture taken ... what a headache. Sure coulda used another pair of arms to help me handle wiggly Kacie and exuberant Jamie Lynn ...

The whole procedure seemed to make them both tense and uncomfortable: sitting on a hard table in a brightly-lit studio, having some strange lady telling them to "sit up big and SMILE!" ... for most of the photo session Jamie was frozen and Kacie wouldn't sit still for nothin'. I gave them each a new Christmas tree ornament to hold, and we finally managed to coax smiles out of them both.

December 6, 1984

Watching my two sweet girls playing together with their Legos. Kacie: bright red pullover, red pants, red socks ... she looks like a little red apple. Jamie: pink nightgown, bare feet, hair pulled back into one messy braid. Jamie is in one of her bossy moods, and she just threatened Kacie with serious bodily damage if she dares touch one of Jamie's "Weggos." Jamie doesn't like to share anything unless it's her idea, and even then she's more likely to share her lima beans than her precious Weggos. Kacie, feelings slightly dented, runs to the comfort of her blanky. She is standing now at my knee, seeking affection: excuse me while I love my baby.

This will be Jamie's fourth Christmas! But this is the first year she's actively looked forward to the holidays. This year she knows about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, stockings, and (of course) presents ...

Mom: "Jay! What does Santa Claus say??"

Jamie: "San Caus say ho-ho-ho."

December 8, 1984

Tomorrow, my firstborn will be three years old.

At this moment my soon-to-be three year old is in the throes of misery because no one will play Weggos with her. It's not that we haven't tried. Kacie and I were sitting on the floor with her a little while ago, trying to interest Jamie in a three-way Lego game, but she was cranky and didn't want to share her blocks with anybody. She yanked them out of Sissy's fingers, and burst into tears any time Kacie tried to pull the pieces apart. Finally I got up and walked away, disgusted, and Kacie followed right behind me. "If you don't want us to play with you, we'll leave you alone," I told her, not unkindly. I sat down here at the table with my journal, and Kacie chose to whirl around the living room to my Fleetwood Mac music. That completely did Jamie in. "SOMEBODY PWEEEESE gotta play Weggos wif ME!!" she sobbed, until I finally had to gather her up in my arms and hug her tears away.

Ray and I went grocery shopping on Thursday night. Besides groceries, I also got two boxes of Christmas cards and the ingredients for a batch of Christmas cookies. Then we shopped at G.O. Guy for Jamie's birthday. I was really hoping to get her a Chatty Patty doll, but finances were tight so I got her a nice dolly with three outfits and all kinds of accessories for $10. I also got her three coloring books for a dollar. I'll bake her cake this evening, after she's gone to bed.

I'm hoping against hope that we can get our Christmas tree tonight, but after we finished grocery shopping we were left with exactly $30 to last two weeks.

The mail just came, and Jamie got $20 from the Arizona P.s for her birthday. Enough for a tree! I was very polite and asked Jamie if we could use her money to get a Christmas tree; she said OK. She was proud to be included in such an important purchase, and Ray took her tree-shopping while I spent a quiet afternoon with Kacie. When they got home, Jamie was enormously excited: not only had they found the perfect tree, tall and bushy and only $14, but they'd run into Santa Claus at Albertson's! Jamie was clutching a Polaroid snapshot of her and Santa, showing her sitting on his lap. For the rest of the evening the photo was her prized possession. "Santa Caws had a little bit runny nose!" she whispered to me confidentially.

Terry S. helped us decorate the tree that evening, after Kacie went to bed. (Kacie got a good look at the tree earlier, before it was decorated. Ray laid it across the kitchen floor, attaching the tree stand. Kacie looked at the huge tree, grinned from ear to ear, and happily shouted "FOWRF!" Then she and Jamie plunked themselves down on the floor beside the tree and pretended to "fix" it with Daddy's wrenches and hammers.)

Decorating took two hours. While we put the ornaments on, we listened to my Christmas tapes and drank hot spiced wine and ate the tacos Ray made for dinner. All very jolly and spirited.

Continued ...


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