Long ago, in a galaxy far away

They were young, and they decided to have one more date night before the baby was born.  Since poor goes with young, they got some pizza and went to the movies to see The Empire Strikes Back.  The husband was amused with Yoda, learning his mannerisms and speech to entertain his nephews at a later time.

The next morning the wife woke up feeling queasy and a bit in pain.  She assumed it was indigestion from the pizza and went on her way.  Until a few hours later, she was sure she was in labor, three days early.  The husband luckily had the day off from work.  They went to the hospital where they took the wife’s vitals and measured her.  It wasn’t time.  She wasn’t dilated enough.  They sent her home.

The wife fretted as her parents would arrive home from vacation the next day, believing they wouldn’t miss the event.  The husband called his father in an immediate panic. 

Husband: Hi, is Dad there?  Wife is in labor.

Stepmom: He’s unavailable right now.

Husband: Oh.

Stepmom: Wait!  You haven’t picked out a boy’s name yet!!

Husband: Wife thinks it’ll be a girl.

Stepmom: There has never been an oldest girl in your family.  Your family has boys.  It’ll be a boy.  And HE needs a name.

Husband: Fine.  Ebenezer.

He hung up.

Hours passed slowly.  The pain increased.  In the evening, the couple went back to the hospital.  But not before the husband decided they were NOT going to have a baby. 

Husband: Suck it up.  We don’t need a baby.  We can have one done the road. 

Wife: Husband, I think it’s a little late for that kind of talk.  Perhaps nine months too late.

The husband admitted defeat and drove the wife to the hospital.  They admitted the wife but believed the baby would deliver in the wee hours of the morning, on the husband’s brother’s birthday.

As the evening darkened into night, the doctor agreed to give the wife an epidural.  At the same time, he felt they should break the water to move things along faster.  The fluid was green.  A fetal monitor was brought out.  The baby’s heart rate was dropping.  The baby was in distress. 

There would be no pushing, no panting, no vaginal birth.  Everything became chaotic.  They rushed the woman into surgery, giving the husband another chance to call his father.

Stepmom: He’s not available.

Husband: What?!  Where is he?!

Stepmom: He went to the family cabin to think about this new turn in his life.

The husband slammed down the phone and ran to get suited up to see his child born.

The doctor increased the epidural up the spine, since the wife was already numbed.  She was not put under as was usual back then.  They lifted a sheet, so that she could not witness them removing the organs to get to the child.  The husband held her hand.  He glanced at his watch.  9:00pm.

He glanced at his watch again when he heard the angry cry of the child who was now cold.  9:20pm.

The doctor: It’s a girl!

Wife: I told them so.

They whisked the baby away to test her, but the tests were positive.  She showed no signs of distressed.  They handed the baby to the wife, now mother.  She smiled at the wrinkly, skinny thing.

Husband: She looks like Yoda with her big head and big ears.

Wife: So she does.

Later the husband, now father, decided to impress his young wife by changing the first diaper.  He was the eldest of six, so this should be child’s play.  Instead he got every diaper, every wipe, every blanket covered in the tar-like first bowel movement.  Dirty and cold, the baby screamed.  The wife laughed, helpless from the stitches and the laughter.  She could barely tell the nurse on the intercom why they needed her.  The nurse came in, took in the mess, picked up the baby.  As she left, she turned and tsked in disgust at the young father.

The next morning the paternal grandpa called from a pay phone to hear the good news, deciding that maybe being a grandfather wasn’t so bad.  Upon hearing, it was indeed a girl, the first eldest girl born on his side in living memory, he smiled.  Before he left to see his new granddaughter, he planted a cherry tree at the cabin, so that she could have pink blossoms and sweet cherries.

When the maternal grandparents arrived home, they called around for news as soon as they walked in the door.  On hearing that they missed the event, they drove straight to the hospital without unpacking the car.  The grandma was beside herself over the thought of having a little girl to dress.  She hugged the new mother and took the baby.

The quiet, tall grandpa walked in the room.  A man of his generation, he said nothing.  He confiscated the baby from his wife, sat down in a chair, staring into the little face.  Beneath the silent, strong exterior beat the soft heart of a man who loved his family dearly.

He whispered to the baby, “No matter what.  You’ll always be my Netty.”

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Does any one have rum?: A 4 year old’s pirate party

It was a pirate party that took weeks to plan but only because I was using tons of forty percent off coupons at Michael’s and I was racking my brain over crafts, something to do to keep the young ones from destroying my parents’ house.  In the end, it was over in a blink of an eye.

Two weeks ago I sent out pirate invitations.  I had written them on paper bags that had been ripped, burnt, and wrinkled.  I dusted off my calligraphy set and wrote in pirate speak about Cap’n E’av’s party.  Arrr.  I sealed the envelope with a pirate flag sticker, regretting not getting plastic soda bottles to send the invitations.

My mind had already formulated a scheme, not waiting for RSVPs or even invitations to be sent out.  The party would start out with dressing each child with a bandana, a sash, and a couple of tattoos.  We would move on to crafts, where the kids would build craft foam boats, pirate flags, and decorate buckets for their treasure hunt.  With a sunny day, we would troop outside to race our boats, to toss water balloons, to throw water balloons at rings, to walk the plank, to play with the inflatable pirate beach balls and run threw the sprinklers.  Then we would feast on tropical fruit and pizza, surrounded by Tiki gods.  We then would hunt for the treasure, instead of piñata, dividing the treasure amongst us like real pirates.  Then we would end on a sugar high and even watch Evan rip off wrapping paper.  It would be awesome. 

Back in California, we only had one friend who RSVPed for parties.  The rest, if it wasn’t an evite, would just show up.  I could always count on them all to show up, even an hour late, and since all the children were years older than my own, we always had a laid back pool party.  We only became complicated for Evan’s third birthday party, which was Kung Fu Panda themed.  Complicated meant that we hung Chinese lanterns and served egg rolls, wantons, and pot stickers instead of pizza.

Now in Arizona, I had no idea how people notified each other on coming to parties.  I always RSVPed, regrets or not.  Apparently, if you’re younger than my grandparents, you don’t call.  I got one call an hour before the party on my message machine to let me know that Evan’s only non-family friend had to get stitches that day.  Poor kid.  Of course, I didn’t get the message until hours after the party.

Since no one called, I vacillated between frustration and worry.  I finally settled on “screw it” and continued to prepare for all seven kids and their families, just in case.  If they didn’t show, at least the favorite uncles (the only uncles) would be there, and that would be enough for my boys.  I was sure I could con my brothers into doing the crafts and dressing as pirates.

The husband had to drive home on July 4th, but since he was late, he produced a surprise.  He had bought an inflatable pirate boat pool that I had been eyeing for a month.  While I had decided to make do with the kiddie pools we already had, the husband had jumped at the pool he saw at a store.  Unfortunately, he paid ten bucks more than I could have bought it, but it was the thought that counts.  The boys were stoked, though Sean more than Evan.

Now I would be posting pictures of this awesome pool or even the awesome cake my mom made, but I dropped and broke my camera right after the boys saw the pool.  I borrowed my mom’s camera.  it turns out that my computer does not accept the camera’s card.  You can now understand why I didn’t post the crafts yet.  I was seriously bummed last night.

Minutes before the party was to start, with the food cut up in the fridge, we sat watching some stupid game show when my cousin and his family descended on the house.  “What? No pirate flag?” he called to me as he crushed me with a hug.  “I forgot to order one, and no one carries them that was open for the last three days.”  His wife asked if Evan could open his gift now, practically pleading with me.  I nodded.  Evan tore open the bag to pull out a pirate outfit to compliment the one his cousin was wearing.  With glee, he begged to put it on.  I stripped him and made him into a pirate.  (Mothers of princesses, how do you clean this flimsy, cheap things?  Because it’s stained and just as fragile as those pretty princess costumes.)  The two younger boys got sashes and bandanas.  My mom rubbed on tattoos on the boys, though Broc, the eldest, proudly showed off the ones on his chest.

We herded the boys in the dining room to color pictures as my mom and I placed out food, plates, and juice.  Then I helped them construct their boats.  We moved onto making pirate flags, which I decided to do on foam sheets because I had tons of foam pirate stickers, though Lindsey had an awesome idea of cloth and fabric paint flags, which I want to do sometime.  With the natives getting restless, we plied stickers to the buckets.  (All crafts I’ll have on my craft site within the week.)  Then I released them into the back yard.

My baby brother had helped make a couple of buckets of water balloons.  My mom had cautioned me against a balloon toss as it was too complicated for four-year-olds.  I knew she was right, even before she said anything.  I just thought they would love getting wet.  Within minutes the balloons were gone.  Hmm, I guess we needed more than two buckets full.  It didn’t help the my brothers and my cousin got involved.  We moved on to sailing our boats, but alas the wind was too strong, making the blowing impossible or unnecessary.  With the pirate ship pool beckoning, the moms changed the boys into swimsuits and slathered on sunscreen, setting them loose on the pool.  Before long, almost everyone was in the pool, and I was soaked in my clothes because Broc, under the encouragement of his dad, my cousin, kept throwing buckets of water on me.  Fear not, I retaliated.

The husband went and brought back pizza on which we did feast.  But as we waited for his return, we had dressed, overly-excited pirates on our hands.  I lead them on a pirate hunt, around Dead Man’s Sea, passed Old Man’s Plantation, quietly by the Sea Dragon’s Liar, through the Trollope’s Rum, the Rum Runner Inn, and into The Bowels (of Hell).  There we searched for treasure until I was sure the boys would tear my parents’ extra family room apart.  I pulled out a cardboard treasure chest I had for a while.  I opened it up and divided the treasure like real pirates.  We had inflatable swords, miniature rubber daggers, bouncy pirate balls, gold-painted rocks, pirate coin medallions, compasses, fruit snack sharks, and plastic spy glasses.  Within minutes, the pizza arrived for our hungry pirates.

My mom made a really cool cake, which I’ve got to post a picture of.  We even decorated it with these cool pirate stickers and a mermaid sticker on the front.  She did a fantastic job.  Not too long after that, we realized how late it was, and people needed to get home. 

It was good party.  Arr!

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