December 9, 1984
Deeply happy at the moment. Such a long and busy day we've had today! Jamie is laying here on the sofa next to me, sound asleep ... Kacie is napping ... Ray has gone to Renton. I've got a fuzzy new bathrobe on, a gift from my mother, and a cup of hot spiced wine, and an old episode of "The Waltons" on TV ... and a tall, beautiful Christmas tree sparkling and twinkling in front of me.
Jamie's birthday party was a rousing success. Mom, Grandma St. John, Terry S. and Jamie's little friend Erica (from up the street) were here for cake and presents. Jamie was full of high spirits, thrilled to be the center of attention. Erica was the first to arrive, with a new coloring book and box of crayons for Jamie. The two of them gleefully chased each other around the house, growling like "monsters" until Mom and Grandma showed up. "MY GRAMMA'S HERE OH BOY!!" Jamie shrieked, throwing the door wide open. We visited for a bit, and then got down to the serious business of gift-opening. Jamie got a Rainbow Brite sweatshirt from her Great-Grandma, which she promptly put on. From Grandma Beeson she got a Rainbow Brite nightgown (she's wearing it now), a new lampshade for her room (to replace the one Kacie tore up), and a storybook about Bonnie Rabbit. From Ray and I, she got the doll with clothes and accessories, which (to my immense relief) she truly loves, although for some unfathomable reason she has named the doll "Duke") ...
I surprised myself. The cake I made for Jamie was the best cake I've ever baked in my life. I'm not much of a baker, but for one everything turned out right. Jamie giggled when we sang "Happy Birthday" to her, then she blew out her candles and launched herself into a gigantic slice.
The moment of glory was when Terry walked through the door carrying a goldfish bowl and two tiny goldfish for Jamie! One is solid orange, the other is white with orange patches. We've named them "Cornflake" and "Billy."
There is something remarkably relaxing about watching Jamie's new fish. Jamie is fascinated with them. When Kacie is napping, I put the fish bowl on the kitchen table so Jamie can get a closer look at them. "Hey fishy fishy fishies!" she shouts merrily. I've had to restrain her from throwing stuff into the bowl ... last night she tried to "feed" them a huge chunk of apple and a piece of paper towel. With any luck, Cornflake and Billy will be more than just a flash in the pan (or is that fish in the pan?) Maybe they will teach her something about responsibility, and about taking care of things.
Mama (walks into kitchen to find fish bowl on table and two kitchen chairs jammed tightly together): "Why did you push the chairs together like this?"
Jamie: "Cuz I want you to be friends with my fishies! An' I wanna sippa your POP."
Jamie dresses herself in the mornings now - or tries to. She gets quite offended if I try to help her. She does pretty well with underwear, pants and socks, but she gets "stuck" in her shirt or her dress most of the time. And usually things wind up backwards or inside-out. But at least she's trying.
Jamie just gave Wendie Kitty a nice big bowl of raisins for "breakfast."
There is a new sign hanging in Jamie's bedroom, directly above her bed, which reads:
BAD CLOWNS -
DO NOT COME IN JAMIE'S ROOM.
NO, NO, NO!
I was tucking her in the other night and we'd just finished saying our prayers ("And God, please make sure Jamie only has happy dreams"), when she anxiously blurted out, "And no bad clowns can come in Jamie's room!" Startled, I asked her a few questions. It turns out that "bad clowns" are something she has nightmares about sometimes. "Bad clowns can 'most eat me" she said very worriedly, at which point I came up with the idea of hanging the sign above her bed. It worked like a charm, and seems to greatly comfort her.
(Note: It was more than a year later before we learned the origin of the mysterious "bad clowns." The idea came from the movie "Poltergeist," which apparently made more of a lasting impression on Jamie than we'd realized. The proviso of "No bad clowns" remained in her nightly prayers for years, long after she'd forgotten its original purpose.)
December 17, 1984
Snow! We've got SNOW! HURRAY!!
I was up at 5 a.m. this morning - I don't remember why - when I suddenly noticed how bright the living room seemed. I thought maybe I'd accidentally left a lamp on, but when I glanced out the window I discovered that the world was covered with snow. What a delightful surprise.
I immediately went in and got Jamie out of bed. I wrapped her in a blanket and carried her out to the big picture window so she could see the snow. She was happy, in a sleepy/confused sort of way - 5 a.m. was too early to be excited about anything, even snow - so I tucked her into my bed next to me, in the warm spot Ray had recently vacated. Then I opened my bedroom curtains and we both dozed off again for a few hours.
As always, Jamie was up an hour before I was. I heard her puttering around in the kitchen, turning on the TV, etc. She's grown up quite a lot since last summer: I can lay in bed now and rest assured she's behaving herself, more or less. When I did get out of bed she was sitting at the table eating a bowl of Fruit Loops (no milk) and a tangerine, which she'd peeled herself. The whole house had the lovely, bright, white-washed look of a snowy day.
"Hi!" Jamie said cheerily. "I just touch that snow a WIDDLE BIT." (She'd opened the door and poked her finger into the snow on the porch, while I was still sleeping.)
When Kacie got up and saw the snow, she was all big blue eyes and wide open mouth. The fact is, though, that she's been hit with so many new, strange things lately - the Christmas tree, rearranged furniture, goldfish, unexpected company - that waking up to snow was no big deal to her. Within minutes the thrill was gone, and she was toddling off in search of oranges and cereal.
My birthday was uneventful, as usual. That's not to say it wasn't a nice day: it was. I did a lot of blessings-counting that day. I thanked the Lord for things like the coziness of our home on chilly winter nights ... for little daughters who snuggle on my lap, smelling of shampoo and M & M's ... for faithful husbands who toil in the kitchen all evening, making dinner ... for this happy time of year ...
Took Jamie out in the snow for a romp! Bundled up like a little Eskimo, her nose and cheeks as red as her mittens. She ran and jumped and kicked up the snow with her feet, squealing when it stuck to her shoes.
December 20, 1984
Heavy snow again this morning. I took both of the girls outside to play in it. Kacie was fascinated with the way it fell from the sky, and she just stood there, looking straight up and giggling when the snowflakes landed on her face. Jamie, an old pro at playing in the snow, merrily showed Sissy how to catch snowflakes on her tongue.
I did my Christmas shopping on Saturday, after Ray finally got home (from a three day bender). The days he was laid off last week cut deeply into his paycheck, and the result was that I had very little money for presents. The girls have three gifts apiece. Jamie has a tricycle, a Rainbow Brite doll and a "Color Cottage," the little house Rainbow Brite lives in. Kacie has a Tyke Bike, a Glo-Worm and an ABC's See 'n Say. I wanted to get them so much more, but money ran out. This doesn't have me depressed, though ... I'm so excited about the girls getting their trikes on Christmas morning that it makes up for everything else.
January 4, 1985
DO NOT WASH HAIR.
DO NOT CUT BANGS.
This is the "sign" Jamie insisted I give to her babysitter (Terry S.) before Ray and I left for the evening.
January 6, 1985
Things we hear: bacon sizzling in the frying pan ... Ray's football game on TV ... Jamie rummaging through a box of pencils ... Kacie's happy "Hah! Toe. Hah! TOE!" (meaning unknown) as she scribbles on a piece of paper with a colored pencil ... dogs barking outside ... Ray's car pulling into the driveway ... Jamie's squeaky brown pencil ...
Things we smell: bacon (again) ... coffee ... cigarette smoke.
Other sensory impressions from this morning:
The feel of Mama's soft, fuzzy bathrobe.
The taste of hot coffee.
The sight of a pile of cookbooks on the kitchen table ... also on the table are Mama's red plaid scarf, some neatly-clipped coupons (for candles, biscuits, sponges), a portable TV, a basket of letters to be answered, shiny scissors, felt pens.
Cold air on my feet as the kitchen door is opened.
January 9, 1985
A huge moving van has just pulled in front of the house next door. (The Bruff family moved away last month: we were sorry to see them go.) Jamie saw the van and shouted, "OH! Our new friends is here!"
Ray and I built the girls a playhouse out of cardboard boxes this weekend, just for fun. It's big enough that Kacie can stand up in it, and it has a roof, windows and a working door. Right now it's sitting in the middle of my living room, looking for all the world like one of those makeshift shanties a hobo would sleep in. But the girls love it - they play in it constantly - and I know I've got to ignore the way it looks and let them have their fun.
Kacie, dressed in her Cabbage Patch Kids sweatshirt and pants, is prowling around the living room, searching for last night's discarded dinner dishes ... maybe a forgotten glass of melted ice cubes, a bread crust, a leftover scrap or two. She's not hungry: she just loves food. She also loves dishes, toy ones or real, and she's always pretending that she's cooking.
Two new Jamie games: she pretends that she's "More-EEN, the Avon Lady," (our new Avon lady's name is Maureen) or that she's the Dave's Place lady who serves people pop and chips.
A Jamie monologue:
"I don't see no CARS. Cuz cars are missin'? Cars, cars, cars! Let's go see Nissus Rogers. Oo! Eee! Daddy couldn't drive in him's car? So him's friend got him? What him's friend name? Huh? Mike Pan-mer? Why you call him dat? Him's name not dat! Him's friend name GRAMMA BEESON! Ha ha ha!"
Kacie, almost two
The crabbiness and moodiness have leveled off, and she has once again become sweet-natured, friendly, affectionate and completely charming. She wants to be at my side every minute of the day. Jamie is still very important to her, as a playmate and (increasingly) as a role model, but now, finally, Mama has also become her friend.
She plays funny little games with me: we "talk" on the toy telephone. I whisper in her ear. She examines my necklace and earrings. I poke her belly button with my finger. She jabbers at me in her funny baby language, now increasingly peppered with "real" words. She loves zippers, jewelry, blankets of any kind ("deh-deh" is how she says blanket), shoes and socks, crayons, TV commercials, the theme to the movie "Ghostbusters," little dolls, hats, airplanes, her new toothbrush, kittens, balloons, cookies and toy dishes. She has learned to close doors but doesn't know how to open them yet. She can climb into her crib, but she can't climb back out. She can turn the TV on and off. She LOVES photographs of herself, and she can't resist a mirror. Truly her mother's daughter.
"I love my Mom. Her is good." Jamie Lynn P., age three
Jamie: "Know what? My friend has color crayons, too!"
Kacie: "Oh, sis wees gis pwis sis!"
Some Jamie stuff
Mom: "This would be a good day for pancakes!"
Jamie: "And sausages!"
Mom: "Yah! You're right about that!"
Jamie: (pointing to me) "You can cook the sausages, and Daddy can cook'a panmakes."
Mom: "Hey, any dummy can cook the sausage ... why can't I make the pancakes?"
Jamie: "A'cause you 'most BURN yourself. Dat's why."
Mom: "Oh. I almost burn the pancakes, too! Mama doesn't make very good pancakes."
Jamie: "But Daddy dooz!"
Jamie P., three years old ... wearing her Daddy's huge, baggy white T-shirt, bare feet, clean long hair tumbling to the middle of her back ... hears a siren wailing in the distance and asks me, worriedly, "Maybe somebody got hurt?"
"Maybe the sirens are going to help somebody," I reply, and she ponders this.
... Later, she dances to a new Madonna song she likes ("Dis is Me-donna!" she announces happily). Her doll, Maggie, is her constant companion. This morning Maggie is resplendent in one of Kacie's outgrown baby dresses and a straw cowboy hat. "My baby's havin' Christmas today!" Jamie says. She tenderly puts Maggie down for a nap on the camphor chest, then scampers over to me and peers closely at my face. "I wanna see Jamie in you eyes!" she says, seeking her reflection in the blue eyes of her mother. (I can see my own pale, unwashed face reflected in her huge, chocolate-brown eyes.)
Well, there's nothing like starting off the day by making a big fat fool out of yourself. (Good morning!) We've been having plumbing problems for the last two weeks ... the hot water leaks in the bathtub, which saps all the hot water for dishes, laundry and showers. And then yesterday we also had trouble with the washer. Ray has been trying to fix things as best he can. He got our hot water back, for one thing: now the tub is only leaking cold water, a slight improvement. Anyway. A few minutes ago I tried turning on the water in the bathroom to wash my face. No water. The pipes gave a huge, moaning sound, and then ... nothing. I ran all around the house, trying every faucet. Nothing! No water at all.
Furious, I threw some clothes on and stormed over to Mrs. Kennedy's house to call Ray. I figured that one of two things must have happened: either Ray's amateur plumbing had got awry and busted the works, or else Kirkland Utilities cut us off. Either way, I was pissed. I had no emergency water stashed in the fridge, and I couldn't get through a day with two babies and no running water.
The receptionist at Western Kraft was really snotty and said I couldn't speak to Ray. ("No, you may not!" she said, at which point I snarled "Hey! I'm calling from a neighbor's phone and this is an emergency." That put her into a royal snit, and she transferred me to Ray's supervisor. He wouldn't let me talk to Ray, either! ("He's busy," the supervisor snapped.) Exasperated, I gave him the Kennedy's phone number and asked that Ray call me there in five minutes.
I hung up the phone and went into the living room to wait for Ray's call. Mrs. Kennedy asked me what was wrong, and her kindness did me in: I burst into tears and began to tell her about our plumbing problems.
"Oh no!" she interrupted me, as I told her about the water being cut off. "There's nothing wrong with your plumbing ... it's a broken water main, down the street!" !!!!!
I was too embarrassed to wait for Ray's phone call - not after the big stink I'd made on the phone with the people at Western Kraft! Mrs. Kennedy gave me a pan of water, enough to last the morning, and offered to explain the situation to Ray when he called. Embarrassed, grateful and relieved, I fled her house with my precious water and came home to the girls. When oh when will I learn to stop and evaluate a situation before running to Ray for help???
February 22, 1985
Mom to Kacie: "Can you say Mama?"
Mom: "Can you say Daddy?"
Mom: "Can you say Jamie?"
Ernie: "Have you seen my mizzen mast? It's mizzen."
Bert: "Ernie ... you're a fool."
At the moment, the kids are holed up in Jamie's room, playing with toy dishes and jabbering at each other. I can hear Jamie's bossy voice and Kacie's unconcerned, cheery replies ... I know that bedroom will be a shambles by the time they finally emerge. The two of them together have the destructive power of a wrecking ball. (And then, of course, they'll move on to Kacie's room ... sigh ...)
The house is a jumble. On the living room floor: a green, yellow and white baby afghan, a pillow without pillowcase, Jamie's muddy blue tennis shoes, Kacie's Tyke Bike, a nearly-deflated red balloon, a large cardboard box with Kacie's "deh-deh" in it, a crumpled piece of paper, Maggie, a Mickey Mouse storybook ("The Haunted House"), a pink wool cap, a pot-holder, another small pillow without a pillowcase, Jamie's fuzzy coat, my Raggedy Andy doll and a few of Kacie's toy dishes.
On the kitchen table: a rumpled pink hand towel, an ashtray containing one Marlboro cigarette butt, my book ("The Second Twelve Months") and Jamie's book ("The Sesame Street Yearbook"); part of last night's newspaper, an envelope from my pen pal Sheryl in Florida, a Viacom bill, some blank Western Kraft invoices and a basket of fabric vegetables.
On the kitchen counters: half a pot of coffee, a bag of green bananas, an unopened can of Kal Kan cat food, one of Kacie's shirts, a grocery list, an old Polaroid snapshot of the girls, a few dirty dishes, my Mom's old portable typewriter, a new black typewriter ribbon, an unripe avocado, a can of Slim-Fast, a crockpot cookbook, two garbage bags and a box of generic facial tissue.
On top of the piano: a book ("Lord of the Far Islands" by Victoria Holt), a letter from my sixth grade teacher, a wicker basket full of makeup, a yellow Tommee Tippee cup half-full of old Kool Aid, a ponytail holder, a small black mirror and Mom's Happy Book.
March 4, 1985
Here we go again
Jamie just found CeCe in Kacie's closet, where she has apparently just given birth to three kittens. "I foun' some baby KITTENS in Sissy's closet!" Jamie shouted happily. Oh boy.
God, I slept lousy last night. Before bed I transferred the box of kittens from Kacie's closet to a corner of the living room, behind the fireplace. CeCe spent most of the night parading up and down the hallway outside our bedroom door, yowling at the top of her lungs. I got out of bed and scolded her, let her out for a brief run, fixed her a saucer of milk ... but nothing worked for very long, and pretty soon she'd start yowling again. Amazingly it never woke up Ray or the kids ... just me.
There are two black kittens and one gray & white, a standard litter for CeCe. Jamie and I named them this morning: Coffeepot, Cocoa and Cloudy. Dumb names, I know, but they're only temporary. I tried explaining to Jay that eventually we'll have to find other homes for the kitties. "But dose baby kitties can live here wif us!" she said, tearfully. So I've dropped the issue for now.
Kacie hasn't even discovered them yet, thank God. She's too engrossed in her toast, juice and "Sesame Street" to even notice the box of kittens sitting three feet away from her, behind the fireplace.
Later: I finally introduced Kacie to the new kittens, and she's afraid of them!! She didn't like them ONE BIT!!! I expected her to be so excited when she saw them, but instead she ran off, screaming. Kacie never fails to surprise me.
My shopping trip with Jamie
Sunday morning I left Kacie with Ray, and Jamie and I took off for a day of shopping. To tell you the truth, I really didn't want to take Jamie with me: I wanted to spend the day alone. Jamie was broken-hearted ... "Please, Mama! I want to go SHOPPIN' wif eyoo!" ... and I had no choice but to bring her along. We went to the Redmond Value Village first. The clothing selection that day was poor: I bought four shirts ($1.50 each) but it turns out I can only wear one of them - I gave the rest of them to the girls, for dress-up. I did find a pair of blue corduroy pants for Ray that he likes. And I had wonderful luck in the book department: I found a hardcover edition of "The Mirror," my very favorite book in the whole world! I was so startled and happy when I found it, I let out a yell.
... Jamie started getting edgy and impatient while I browsed through the books, so when we left Value Village I treated her to lunch at McDonalds. She had a Happy Meal and I had a large diet cola. She loves McDonalds, and she was a perfect little lady.
We went to two Fred Meyer stores: the Overlake store (in Bellevue) and the Totem Lake store. Jamie spotted the Toy Department, right next to Ladies' Clothing, so I let her do some "browsing" of her own and I ended up buying her a set of Rainbow Brite Colorforms.
I got my picture frames - 13 of them! At the Totem Lake store I bought the houseplants I wanted.
... By that time we'd been shopping for nearly four hours, and Jamie and I were both tired. That's when disaster almost struck. As we were heading for our car (I was pushing a shopping cart full of plants, and Jamie was walking beside me), Jamie suddenly darted directly into the path of an oncoming car! The woman driving the car hit her brakes and stopped just two feet in front of Jamie. Thank God no one was hurt, but Jamie and I were both badly shaken. She was in tears, and I was so rattled I made a wrong turn on the way home and we were lost temporarily. Jamie was so unhappy that I stopped at Baskin-Robbins and bought her an ice cream cone. That helped her forget about the scary moment in the parking lot. (Of course, it hasn't been so easy for me to forget.)
Every two minutes I have to jump up and check on the girls. Kacie P. has turned into Little Miss Holy Terror 1985. When she's not pouring water all over everything, she's emptying Jamie's drawers, eating cat food, stuffing wads of toilet paper down the john, coloring on the living room windows or pulling the stuffing out of my old teddy bear.
A sunny, pre-spring afternoon, slowly winding to a close.
Kacie, fresh from her nap, dips her fingers into a plastic mug of Pepsi Light. Jamie, desperately in need of a nap ("I don't take naps anymore!") leafs through a storybook on the sofa.
For this brief moment, there is quiet. No TV, no dogs barking outside, no stereo, no arguing. Sunlight pours through the window and spills onto the floor; Kacie tentatively sticks a toe into its golden warmth. "Hot!" she says, looking to me for confirmation. "Sunshine," I tell her, and she tries to repeat the word: "Shuh-shuh."
I offer a quick prayer of thanks to God for even this brief moment of peace and quiet. There aren't many of them these days.
Now it's just Kacie and me. Jamie has gone off on one of her Saturday morning excursions to Erica's house - she'll be gone for hours - so I am alone with my littlest daughter. She is sitting here at the table with me, gnawing on a yellow crayon ("Not in your mouth, Sissy!") and babbling happily in her special "language." I will attempt to transcribe a portion of it here:
"Eh! Oh! Siguh figuh foh. FLOWER! Oh. Wen la sickah! Ouch! Hu huh. Dee ga ouch."
In a home with small children, these things no longer exist:
... Private time in the bathroom
... Tabletop houseplants and knickknacks
... Clean walls
... Clean windows
... Clean ANYTHING
... Matching silverware
... Unchipped dishes
... A room without toys in it
... Magazines with covers
Kacie has a new method of waking me up in the mornings: she stands in her crib and shouts, "Door! DOOR? Door! DOOR?" until I finally give in and "rescue" her.
Yesterday was Kacie's second birthday. Remnants of yesterday's festivities remain, this morning ... balloons taped to the walls (I wrote on them in black felt pen, things like "Happy Birthday Kacie" and "We Love You Sissy!") ... the huge banner hanging above the archway (it says "Happy Birthday Kacie! Love, Mama, Daddy & Jamie") ... bits of wrapping paper on the floor, cake crumbs smeared on the kitchen table, a pile of cake plates sitting unwashed in the kitchen sink ...
Kacie had a very nice birthday, I think. She was in a wonderful mood all day long, almost as though she sensed it was her special day. My Dad and Valerie showed up, unexpectedly, with a new rag doll for Kacie, lavender with white pigtails. Dad was in a relaxed and friendly mood for a change; both of the girls took turns snuggling on his lap. Kacie discovered his big shiny wristwatch and immediately ran to check Grandma Valerie's arm, to see if she was wearing one, too. (She was.) Later, we had a little party for the birthday girl. Kacie and her cousin Tanya, age sixteen months, immediately took to each other, and they played happily for most of the evening. Kacie opened her gifts; the toys that Ray and I gave her (a chattering telephone and a "cornpopper" toy) were a big hit. The best moment was when we all sang Happy Birthday to her - she just sat in the chair and beamed.
Saturday night I baked two dozen Easter cupcakes. I used white cake mix, and frosted them with homemade buttercream frosting like Grandma used to make. Then I decorated them with coconut (dyed green to look like grass) and jelly beans. After I'd finished most of the cupcakes, I sat Jamie down and gave her two cupcakes to decorate herself. She made one for her cousin Tanya and one for the Easter Bunny. She had so much fun, putting on the little candies and sprinkling the coconut on top; she chattered about what the Easter Bunny would bring her in the morning. At one point she wanted to know how the Easter Bunny would get into our house. I said we'd leave the door unlocked. "No!" she exclaimed, horrified. "Den dose bad mans can come in our house!" Finally we agreed that Mama would get up and let the Easter Bunny in, and then I'd lock the door when he left.
On Sunday morning Jamie was standing beside my bed at 6 a.m., saying "MOM. The Easter Bunny was HERE, Mom." I pretended I was asleep, and she went away. I knew she was probably sitting in the living room eating candy, but I needed at least another hour of sleep and I knew she would behave herself. Anyway. When Kacie woke up and started hollering "Door! DOOR! DOOR!!!" from her crib, I dragged myself out of bed, picked Kacie up and went out to the living room to enjoy some Easter morning fun. The girls just loved their baskets of goodies ... they had chocolate all over their pajamas and their faces, and of course Kacie got it in her hair ...
I tried to get Ray out of bed so he could watch the girls having fun with their Easter baskets. "You've got to come see this, Honey!" I told him. He grumbled and protested but eventually he got up - for about three minutes. Then he went to the bathroom and went back to bed. Oh well.
Kacie P. ... a dazzling vision in her new pink and white candy-striped pants and T-shirt ... fuzzy braids, bare feet, new rag doll clutched in one arm ... bursts into the living room, jabbering a mile a minute, stops directly in front of me and BEAMS. "Oooh!" she says, admiring my porcelain coffee cup, the one with the paisley apples on it. She pokes a tentative finger at it. "Hot coffee!" I warn her, and she purses her lips and says "F-f-f-f-f" ... as close as she comes to saying "coffee" at the moment.
I stop writing for a minute and just sit here, admiring my little daughter. She is here, there and everywhere ... one minute gazing out the window, lost in thought ... the next minute crawling on all fours and shouting "Osh! Osh! Osh!" (meaning unknown) ... a minute later she disappears into the kitchen, and almost immediately I hear Jamie's anguished cry: "Sissy's got the plate of butter on the floor!" Kacie emerges bouncily from the kitchen, licking butter off her fingers, vigorously nodding and saying "Mmmmm!"
The next minute she is laying on the living room floor, tangled up in her blanky with her feet waving in the air, drinking the last drops of grape juice from her bottle, not a care in the world.