Friday, April 27, 2012

The Family Darling

So you know those days when everything goes right? Your kids seem to magically get along. They like to be close to each other so they sit in the same chair at the dinner table withOUT making a mess or annoying each other after two minutes. They finish their dinner without having to be reminded 15 times. There is no screaming, only laughter and love for each other. There are pleases and thank-yous all around, the sun is shining and the breeze is just cool enough to sit outside. Magically, the stars align further, and when asked to do their chores like empty the dishwasher or clean their room they actually do it without complaining first? When it's bed time they get their pajamas on without being told 3 times. They remember to brush their own teeth, they say humble and kind prayers and then fall blissfully into slumber.

Yeah.

Me neither.

It's fortunate, or rather I should say it's the work of someone who knows our lives far better than we do, that we don't actually need the day to go that way in order to find joy. It's the little things, as cliche as that sounds, that make life worthwhile. Fortunately the above items actually do happen on occasion, just not all on the same day.

One of the wonderful things that does happen every day is a result of this sweet face being in our family:

She's like glue, this one. If everyone is fighting or crying at each other or hitting or stealing toys from each other or disagreeing on what to eat for lunch or blaming someone else for their mess, there's one thing that's constant. Every person in my family absolutely and unequivocally adores this girl.

None of my kids have been as coddled or concerned about or played with or entertained like this one.

No one, and I mean NO ONE likes it when she cries. They never complain about it like it's hurting their ears or something. They don't like it because they all want her to be happy. Novan is always convinced she needs a toy and if that doesn't work he bugs me.
Novan: "Mooooom. Keshet's crying."
Me: "Yes I can hear Novan but I'm busy right now."
Novan: "But mom she needs you."
Me: "I know but she's going to have to wait."
Novan: "But she can't wait. She's sad."
Me: (sighing) "I'll be there in a minute. Why don't you go see if you can make her happy."
Novan: "Ok. But I think she needs to be fed."
Then he runs off to see what can be done.

Beya, on the other hand, can put Keshet in as well as take her out of her crib. I'm not quite sure how she does it because Keshet weighs at least half of what Beya does. So if I don't go to Keshet, Beya brings her to me. If I tell her I can't help her at the moment, Beya will carry her around trying to entertain her until I do.
Seriously, can you even handle all the joy on that face?

I tell you, I am really starting to get why it's so much easier after 3 kids. Iyov, mister bruiser, is so concerned about her too. While he'll scream at me all day long, he never has a harsh word for Keshet even when she pulls his hair or bites his chin. He loooongs to be able to hold her and play with her without mom always gettin' up in his biz for getting too in her face, being too rough, picking her up, etc. Poor guy. He just wants to play with her.

They all think she's absolutely adorable and they tell me constantly. "Aww mom, she's so cute!" "Aww silly baby, don't eat paper!" "Aww Keshet, don't cry cute baby." "Mom Keshet is the cutest baby in the world."
When Keshet started to crawl I promise you the kids were way more excited and proud than I was. For a week at least all I heard was, "Look mom! She's getting faster." "Oh my gosh! She crawled over to you!" They're her personal cheering section. I often feel like with her around, we all have this common cause: 'Keshet's Family' rather than 'The Kelly Family.'
Who needs perfectly behaved children and sunshine and perfect breezes when you have this cute squishy yumminess around? Aren't families just amazing?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Neighbors With Kids

We are currently experiencing something we have never experienced before. Neighbors with kids. We had a set of boys across the street from us in NC who came over a lot but they were a bit older than my kids and never presented any of the issues I have to deal with in our current situation. We have families on either side of us with kids. One has just a 6-year old girl Amelia. The other has a 5-year old Joey and 7-year old boy Robbie. Those two families are the ones my kids interact with the most. Then there's Emma who I believe is 7 or so who is on the other side of Joey and Robbie's trailer. Then there's Corbin and Camry (5ish and 4ish respectively) who live across the street. So there are a lot of kids. And we are kind of at the end of our street so fortunately there is less through-traffic. And our trailers are REALLY close together. We could talk to each other through our windows if we wanted to so it's kind of like an apartment complex in closeness but with yards.

This all sounds really great, I know, and I certainly wouldn't want it any other way. BUT, there are a couple of things that have made things... complicated?

For one thing, we're Mormons. So we have different standards. There's no smoking or drinking at our house but Amelia's dad smokes. And both families on either side of us drink alcohol on occasion. Neither of those families is religious either. When I didn't know either family well, I never allowed my kids inside their homes. I didn't know the extent of the smoking situation so I didn't want the kids around that. Then there was some weird work drama with Joey and Robbie's dad, (All of our neighbors work at Tractor & Equipment where Brad works since it's company housing), so I didn't even know how welcome my kids were at their house. Navigating the waters of being neighborly but making my boundaries known was a little tricky. I do NOT want neighbors that dislike me nor do I want them to think that I'm some kind of crazy conservative religious nut. I found Beya in Amelia's house one day after I had told her she could NOT go over there and when I showed up at Lisa's (Amelia's mom) door with a stern face for Beya's disobedience, I had to quickly return after I'd drug my delinquent child home and explain why I was apprehensive about having Beya at her house while trying not to make her think that I thought she was some kind of bad mom.

Well, I've finally got some kind of relationship with both moms on either side of me so now the kids mostly wander from house to house doing this and that. But now there's this issue of sleepovers. Brad and I decided a while back before our kids were ever at sleepover age that we would NOT allow our kids to go to sleepovers. The reason being that when bad things happen, it's almost always at a sleepover. They're just not good, ya know? Just think about sleepovers YOU had when you were growing up.... uh huh. You know what I'm talking about. So we have a rule with our kids that they can NOT sleep over at someone else's house but other kids CAN come to our house for sleepovers. The problem is in communicating this to other parents in a way that doesn't say outright, "I don't trust you to monitor the children as much as I do." That just sounds bad, you know? I've communicated this to Amelia's mom and she has insisted that she gets it and all but I've yet to speak to Joey's mom about it. I keep putting off Beya's requests to have Joey over for a sleepover because I don't want to deal with the reciprocating of sleepover invites. I think it might just be easier to not allow sleepovers at all, you know? How do YOU deal with the sleepover issue?

And finally, (and I've spoken to the other 2 mom neighbors about this phenomenon which we are all baffled by), the girls just seem to get extra snotty when they have extended periods of playing with other girls. Have you experienced this? There's something about getting girls together that can just bring out the worst in them. They get independent, disobedient, and whiney beyond belief! Beya got so bad one day that I didn't let her outside to play for 2 days in hopes that friend abstinence would cure her attitude problem. It hasn't. She's on another friend restriction tomorrow. I'm not sure how to deal with this. Any advice?

I love our neighbors though. And as a side-announcement, we got through our no-tv month with no problem. It was downright easy, actually. The only times I really wished I could turn it on were a few days when Iyov was really sick and I just wanted him to sit down and rest in front of the tv instead of him insisting he get to go outside with the other kids while running a fever. I have to credit the number of kids in our neighborhood with making it so easy though. The weather has made going outside an everyday occurrence. So now that our tv-free month is over, I'm going with occasional family movie nights and occasional tv when Keshet is sleeping. But I've been very pleased with how easy it has been.

So yeah... if you have kids, how do you let other parents know in a delicate fashion what you expect? Or maybe you remember something your parents did when you were growing up?

Iyov, Beya, & Joey


Friday, April 20, 2012

My Lovely Lovely Girl

I know, I seem to talk constantly on here about how faaabulous Beya is. Sometimes I get all mommy blog on this thing but I just have to share because she's just so cool.
Beya is a gracious host and a self-sacrificing friend. I'm actually kind of grateful to get back to my Beya-love-fest because of late she has been kind of a monster with her almost-5-year-old mood swings and dramatic outbursts.

So yesterday her friend Talli came over for the day and as soon as Talli got here Beya just went along with whatever Talli wanted to do. Talli wanted to play dress-up. I happen to know which dress is Beya's favorite but when they came out, Talli was wearing Beya's favorite and Beya had selected a different dress for herself. Talli wanted to play memory. Beya set up the game and when Talli promptly decided after only two turns that the game wasn't so fun, Beya picked up all the cards and put them back without complaint. When Talli wanted to build forts, Beya graciously put together the most extravagant fort she could muster while Talli sat under it. Then, once the fort was erected Talli wanted to play momma bird and baby bird but Beya wanted to be cats instead. Talli insisted and Beya conceded, even to the point that she was the momma bird even though I know she prefers to play the baby. Then, when they decided to play angry birds game (it has actual blocks that you knock down with and actual launcher) Talli's pig tower kept falling and she told Beya to fix it. Beya did. And she was happy to do it.

So I get that this is starting to sound like Talli is just bossy and Beya is a golden retriever BUT eventually after all the initial bossing around, Talli chilled out on the bossing and the girls got along beautifully. I really think that this is because Beya invested emotionally. She sacrificed a bit to show that she wasn't going to try to determine how everything would go. I know that's a bit deep for a 5-year old but I think Beya is just instinctively mindful of others' feelings. If you know 5 year-olds, they can get into the power struggle with each other and it can easily escalate to the point where everyone is upset because no one is willing to compromise. I think that if Beya had stood up against Talli more, this may have happened. Talli, it seems, was just testing the boundaries when she first got here. It's to be expected from little kids I think.

Talli went home later and that afternoon Beya came in for dinner in tears because one of the other girls, Joey, had thrown dirt at her dress and tried to poke her with a stick (I know, totally mean) because Beya was trying to play with them and Joey (who always seems to be the instigator in these tiffs) was purposely trying to exclude her, and to get her to go away, threw dirt at her. It was a little surprising because in my observations, Beya is usually the favorite among the girls and she seems to get along fine and is pretty much never excluded. Usually it's either Amelia trying to exclude Joey or Joey trying to exclude Amelia.

Beya told me later that Novan had stepped in and hugged her and helped her get the dirt off her dress (which is really my favorite part of this story). I gave Joey a talk, (who denied throwing dirt OR poking with sticks, and for the record Joey has also thrown rocks at Novan so relentlessly that he's come running and screaming banging at the door to get away from her. I have NEVER seen Novan scared of another kid like that.), about how if she continued to be mean, neither Beya nor anyone else she's mean to was going to WANT to play with her anymore, and then what would she do? I did this from my door while Beya was in the kitchen and when I came back inside, Beya hugged me in tears saying "Thank-you for talking to Joey mom."

After that, all was forgiven and the girls played together once more with no problems. Joey even wanted Beya to come over to her house and so on.

Then that night, after the boys were in bed and I sat in Beya's room nursing Keshet, we were talking about her day with Talli and how she wants Talli to come over for a sleep-over and so on. She was brushing the hair of her My Little Pony Princess Celestia pony and she informed me that she forgot to tell Joey's mom to buy Joey a Princess Celestia so each of the girls could have one and she doesn't have to let Joey use hers. (Apparently Amelia the other girl has one too). I asked her if Joey makes Beya give hers to her and Beya said, "No I let her use mine because she doesn't have one."

Are you getting all warm and fuzzy? I am. I told you Beya was beautiful inside and out, didn't I?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Rant on Women's Rights

     Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of the argument about whether or not the stay-at-home mom is a working mom and/or whether a woman who stays at home to care for children is somehow achieving less or selling herself short or whatever. I also get pretty annoyed with the barrage of so-called feminism out there that says women should have the "right" to do this or that. I swear sometimes I just want to turn in my woman card so I don't have to be associated with these people who never seem to be satisfied with what they have or to make what there is work for them. I'm starting to feel like I'm unwittingly part of some women's affirmative action movement to give me so-called "rights" that I neither asked for nor think they are indeed "my rights."
     I detest the "attack" on any man that might even think about having some opinion about what is or is not a woman's right. "You're not a woman! How DARE you have an opinion! You don't have a vagina so how can you possibly have any clue!?"  This feminist movement disgusts me. Never happy. Never satisified. Always pushing the envelope to redefine a how women should have the right to do what they please with their vaginas and reproductive organs and spare time and intellect. I mean, before you know it, women will be demanding the right to be able to produce sperm, because, after all, why should we be dependent on mens' innate physiological ability to be able to produce a child? "Dependency makes us weak!" is the argument of the day. I'm not even trying to be facetious about this.
     And don't even get me started on the stay-at-home mom versus the working mom. Women say "I choose this! It's my right to stay at home with my kids!" Well of course it is but staying at home with your kids is not first and foremost about you and the argument should not revolve around womens' choice. The argument should revolve around children, not their mothers. What's better? A child raised by a day-care or a child raised by their mother? It's a no-brainer so stop making it about women. Women who work may determine stay-at-homers are less experienced in the ways of the world. Well that may be true. Because staying at home is a sacrifice, no doubt. If you are a stay-at-homer you can't possibly argue that you have as much experience with the workplace as the women who work outside the home. You just don't. Sorry. It's the price you paid. No one said it wasn't a worthy price so stop acting like you're being attacked for what you chose to do just because someone says you don't know as much as them about running a successful business... or an economy for that matter.
     The problem I see is that women don't value themselves like they should. They feel guilty... all the time with the guilt. I'm not strong enough. I'm not experienced enough. I can't raise children and go to work at the same time. I can't eat, drink, make dinner, clean my house, come up with crafty ideas for my toddler, plan a birthday party, sell my candles from home, be a top-ranking executive, and drive a ferrari and watch my child become president of the United States all at the same time... so I guess I must be a failure as a human being. Women don't value what they are. They don't value that they are different from men and they don't value that they're different from each other. They think everything and everyone should be exactly equal. If it's not equal then it's not good. They simply can't be happy with what they have.
     Don't get me wrong. I'm guilty of this from time-to-time. Less now than I used to be. But still, being a woman is a never-ending battle with guilt and a lack of self-worth. We should recognize that battle and stop fighting the wrong thing. And we should fight every day to win the battle with the at-times overwhelming part of ourselves that tells us we are worthless. We should stop fighting each other, stop fighting men, stop fighting God and stop fighting what we are and were meant to be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Purpose to Life


You know what the worst thing in the world is? Aimlessness. Going nowhere. No real aspirations. No real goals. No real confidence that you are someone with something to contribute.

When I think about myself before I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that’s the exact word that comes to my mind. It sounds a little harsh. But I was a pretty unhappy person. And the sad part is that I had no idea how sad I was because I didn’t know any better. You can’t know what happiness really is until you’ve experienced it.

So, the best thing that happened when I became a Mormon? A goal. A direction. A plan. A place in this glorious thing we call creation. 

I mentioned the “pre-earth life” in my last Mormon-geared post and I’d like to go into a bit more detail because that, essentially, is what this post is about. Here’s the skinny:
All of our spirits existed before this life. We are literal spirit-children of God. We were innocent but also naïve as to the wisdom of God. We could not progress to appreciate and know full joy without passing through mortality. It was at this understanding that God determined to form the earth and place the spirits of men in mortal tabernacles. We were part of this decision. We agreed to it (although naively I think). The ones who did not became followers of Satan and neither Satan nor his followers have ever or will ever receive bodies. It was also during this “council” in heaven in which the Savior stepped forward, willing to redeem man because God knew full well that we would sin and thus be cut off from his presence forever were it not for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (that, however, is another post for another time).  Suffice it to say, the “Plan” was determined by God, Jesus Christ, and us, before we were ever born into mortality. 

So the goal: Progression. We aren’t here to laze about and say, “Wo is me! Jesus saves! Hallelujah!” We are here to work our a$$es off! Excuse my irreverent cliché. It seems to have the desired emphasis I’m looking for. We are here to work like there’s no tomorrow to prepare ourselves to meet God. To gain experience. To understand suffering. To experience that suffering at times so by contrast we can know joy so that we will choose that good part. To learn by doing. Essentially: To become better people today than we were yesterday.
And how do we do that? We master ourselves. Our minds and our bodies. We become the master of mortality because it will mean happiness not only in this life but in the life to come because there is work to be done both here and in the life beyond. 

I loved and still love this concept. If life isn't to actually accomplish something of eternal worth then I'd say its rather spiteful of God to put us through this. If what we do here doesn't even matter eternally, then why the heck are we here suffering through it? I say it does matter. I say it matters very much. God with us is more than God alone. It's Satan who tries to convince us we are nothing and that what we do doesn't really matter to God.

This is the reason I go to church for 3 hours on Sunday, read my scriptures daily, and pray so I don’t forget it. I don’t want to ever become complacent.Complacency is unhappiness to me.

There is an ill-perceived idea in Christianity these days that the next life is all roses and puffy clouds and singing. Oh I’m sure it’s spectacular, beyond description and all that. But there is going to be an awful lot to do what with all these people who cruise through life like it’s all about them. So many of them are going to end up in the spirit prison and there is a great need for the work among those spirits to continue on. Missionary work my friends. Don’t you recall the idea of GODLY SORROW? God doesn’t sit around drinking ambrosia. Watching us fail miserably time after time and trying desperately to get our attention is certainly not my idea of an enjoyable heavenly sport. So we should take note and stop thinking the next life is about us and our eternal enjoyment. Suck it up. Get ready. The Lord needs you. He needs every single one of us. This is what I signed up for and when I was asked “Do you want to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?”
My answer was, “Sign me up! Finally! A reason to live! A purpose!”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Baby:



No more baby:

This kid cracks me up:
And while we were at it, Beya wanted in on the hair action. A hot iron later and the result? Mother/daughter twins?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's in a Name?

I don't really agree with Shakespeare on this actually. Names are very important. They give a person something to live up to. At least I think they should.
I have 4 children with unusual names. I know that. Whenever we meet people for the first time and they ask what my children's names are I list them off and then count 1...2...3...in my head because I know it's coming....

"So how did you come up with those names?"

Right on cue.

Then I launch into an abbreviated version of what I'm about to tell you. Because the other day Beya wanted me to "craft" with her, (which basically means get the paints, markers, stickers, glue, etc. out and just MAKE something), I felt like making a little poster with a visual representation of the kids' names on it. It turned out pretty neat and it gave me a chance to appreciate their names all over again.

Novan:    This is a "normalized" version of Nova which is a star of course or the explosion of a star. Brad had originally said, "How about "Nova du Soleil"?
I replied, "No way. But Nova might work."
So to make it more name-like sounding we added an 'n' on the end and voila! Novan!
While we really had no idea how parenthood would change us, I love that Novan's name was inspired because now when I think of his name I think of how our quiet easy "single" lives went super nova when Novan was born. Everything changes when you have a child. Your life is altered in a way that can never be undone. It's just like a Super Nova actually. Novan exploded into our lives altering our reality, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and our purpose.

Beya:      I LOVE Beya's name. I just love how it sounds. It's a beautiful name. And wouldn't you know, her name actually MEANS 'beautiful'? Because "Beya" is the phonetic spelling of the Spanish pronunciation of 'Bella.' We spelled it that way because I loved the Spanish pronunciation and didn't want anyone calling her 'Bella.'
We lived in California at the time so not only was the choice of her name influenced by our cultural surroundings, (Brad actually heard his Spanish-speaking employees say 'beya' from time to time so he was really the one who conceived the name), but it was also influenced by a time in our lives that was quite beautiful.
From the time we started having children, (ie I stopped working), until rather recently, we struggled to pay our bills. Except for 2007. The year Beya was born. We made so much money that year we paid off our credit card debt from previous years and managed to save a ton of money which we were able to use later for a down payment on a house in NC. It was a lovely time to live in CA and Brad was finally "arriving" in his career of selling investments. The stock market was at an all-time high and for us, life was quite beautiful.
Beya's birth was beautiful. After Novan's somewhat traumatic premature birth, Beya's birth was a welcome change. It was, by far, my easiest labor and Beya was the easiest baby. She knew how to nurse perfectly right from the start thus inflicting minimal pain on me. She slept through the night on her own at 6 weeks old. And she has turned into a beautiful little girl both inside and out. She IS her name physically but most notably, spiritually. She remains a very bright and beautiful spot in our lives.

Iyov:     Hebrew for 'Job.'
I became pregnant with Iyov shortly after the stock market crashed into what is known as "The Great Recession" along with the housing bubble bursting. This was a tumultuous time in our lives. There was much sleep lost. My father was diagnosed with cancer. In 2008 he passed away. My grandmother followed shortly after I became pregnant with Iyov. We moved to NC that winter, a huge moving expense. Our vehicle was nearly totaled in an accident, Beya aspirated on a crayon and had to have a bronchoscopy which costed us our $3000 insurance deductible, and our home was flooded by a burst water pipe (another huge deductible).
Iyov was born before our house was even completed with pretty much the worst labor I had ever experienced. He was a terrible baby who screamed and screamed. I cried over him many nights begging Heavenly Father to please just put this child to sleep so I don't harm him myself. While some tough love eventually got him sleeping, he was still pretty nightmarish during the day, screaming about anything that wasn't to his liking at the drop of a hat.
So not only does Iyov's name represent a period in our lives that seemed very dark and full of trial, it also represents the person he is. He was never a colicky baby. Even now I look back and realize that being at odds with his circumstances and seeking after something better was in him from the very beginning. He is laser-focused on what he expects from life. He's not willing to settle for less. He is fierce and steadfast in his choices just like Job. He is not willing to let life thwart him. His name is perfect for him and for that reason, I love it.

Keshet:     Hebrew and literally translates as 'arc' although the context is almost exclusively limited to the 'arc in the cloud' also known as 'rainbow.' You'll recall that the rainbow was God's sign of his covenant with man to never again flood the earth. And while this is fitting seeing as our house was flooded and Keshet was like our "covenant child' after the flood, I think of this idea of an arc or covenant more broadly relating to our lives.
You'll recall this post a while back in which I describe my feelings about becoming pregnant again. Becoming pregnant with Keshet marked a time of great self-actualization and realization in my life. She was the child I had freely, without worry and as a sign of my faith. My keshet or covenant with God was that I would continue to do my very best to serve Him and break away from the temporal worries that had continually beset us... even if they might continue to do so. And she represented that beautiful phenomenon in the sky, the rainbow after the storm, the beauty that will always follow the darkest of days.
I feel that all of my childrens' names were divinely inspired but I can still vividly remember when I thought of her name. 'Rainbow' just came in my head as I was pondering names and I hadn't even considered the 'coincidence' of how a rainbow is a sign after the storm. I was more curious what the Hebrew translation was because I just think Hebrew is beautiful. 'Keshet' felt right from the moment I saw it. I've never been so immediately sure of a name as I was of her's.

So there you have it. The story of my babes' names. And I love each one intimately and personally. They mean something very special to me and I hope they will mean something to them one day as well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chapter Two: The Hopeless Romantic

     Brad was a hopeless romantic. I discovered this in the days that followed our initial meeting. For example, one slow day, we were on registers side-by-side and I was helping him bag items since no one was in my line. He mentioned that he had to figure out where he could buy two roses, (or maybe it was 3, I don't now recall), because his two month, (or 3), anniversary was coming up with his girlfriend and he had to get her the appropriate number of roses (and Hershey's kisses apparently) to celebrate the appropriate number of months.
     Now I am SURE that I was not wistful about this. I wasn't yet smitten with him but I'd never heard of such a thing... a guy actually celebrating something so insignificant to most others. Indeed, I consider a 2 month anniversary rather insignificant. I was thinking more along the lines of "what a strange guy" rather than "Awwww! How sweet!" That's just how I roll. Brad will tell you I wiped the romantic clean out of him because that's just not my thing. It never has been. However, it's memorable to me simply because it was the first time I recognized the novelty that is Brad Kelly.
     We had a number of casual conversations during our time together at Walmart. One was, and this is silly, him asking me how I kept my skin so clear. "A bar of soap," was my reply. I was blessed with pretty spectacular skin so I never put much thought into what I used on my face. That was when I hear all about his skin problems and I remember saying maybe he should just try a bar of soap. :-) Ha!  I feel a little bad always bringing up my poor husband's skin problems but I can't help what I remember. Let's just say that his skin problems never really cleared up until he changed his diet (correction, until I changed his diet).
     I met Brad's girlfriend at the same time I first saw his dorm room. He had probably told me at work to come by and visit him because we discovered that we were not only in the same dorm, but also on the same floor. So I moseyed on over there and found that he had the Creme de La Creme as far as dorm rooms went. Each floor in our building, in addition to regular 2-person rooms, had 8 3-person rooms. They were huge. The closets were huge. Freshman coveted those dorm rooms because we never had the slightest chance of getting them. Well Brad was a senior and he, by some bizarre circumstances of fate, had that 3-person room ALL to himself. Besides the size of the room, the decoration of the room itself was a sight to behold. Brad had the entire ceiling strung with Christmas lights. One set was a Valentine's set so there was a string of big hearts crossing the ceiling. The walls were also strung with Christmas lights, but they were also covered, wall-to-wall, with giant hand-painted banners. The banners were probably painted by the cheerleaders or pep club as they were "Go Cats" type things. He also had a fish-tank which was a pretty big no-no. The floor was covered with thick purple football field turf.
     Sitting on one of the unused beds was Brad's girlfriend. I have to tell you I don't remember a single thing that came out of her mouth probably because she didn't say much. I later learned that Brad's friends had termed her "the ice queen." I'm not even sure if she smiled in greeting. In later interactions with her and from what Brad would later tell me, she was one of the coldest people I'd ever met. I can't even begin to figure out why Brad started dating her in the first place... oh wait, I know. She was a little on the chunky side (Brad likes some meat on the bones) and she had big boobs. So she was good looking. That's why. Sheesh. Men.
     It was a short visit. You'd hightail it out of there too if the ice queen was giving you the stare-down. Brad tells me they broke up shortly after that...January I believe, when he traded up to Kristen #2 (that's not her real name but Brad, in his short lifetime, had a fairly serious relationship with 2 girls at different times who had the same name so we differentiate them with #1 and #2). Regardless, I didn't see the inside of Brad's dorm room, again until the following semester in the Spring. He was MIA when I returned to work in January after the Christmas break. I finally saw him on campus and would soon discover that he was head over heels in love with Kristen #2.