Monday, June 20, 2005

Five Mittons and a Mom

There are a few things you need to know if you’re going to understand the Package Deal that is the Mitton family. First--we are Alaskan. That may not mean much to anyone living in what we Alaskans often refer to as the "Lower Forty-Eight," a label which incidentally really annoyed my husband, Andrew, a Colorado transplant. He said it goes beyond smug ("Does that mean Alaska is the Upper One??") He had his own private boycott of the phrase until he felt sufficiently moved in and at home to use it himself and could then feel smug right along with the rest of us, I think it was probably that first winter he went without washing his car the whole six months that did it.

An Alaskan is someone who is comfortable with canvas, who pulls out the shorts when the thermometer hits 50, who thinks it's not a real pothole if you can still see the tire, and to whom antlers are a legitimate interior design option.

I was born and raised in Alaska and just assumed that the chances of me finding someone with whom I could appreciate the "shabby chic" that is the Last Frontier was pretty slim. But Andrew had his first taste a few days after our wedding when my brothers and father did everything they could to entice into their Brotherhood of the Leatherman including much fishing and camping and growing of beards. It didn’t take much, soon he was convinced Alaska was the place for him.

Second--we have kids. Quite a few, I think four at last count ranging in ages from 12 (our daughter Grace) down to Lillian at a fresh and exciting three years. Grace is all-girl and is presently into musicals. You know, like My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Sound of Music. She goes around whistling songs like "Marion the Librarian" which has provoked mockery from the less-cultured in the household. I caught Andrew singing his version, something about "Bernie the Attorney."

Lillian, being the youngest is of course rather spoiled but no one seems to care yet. Her latest thing is to go around the house with her legs bound together with rubber bands, hopping. Everywhere she goes it's hop, hop, hop (trip) hop, hop, hop. Her likes? Noodles and the front yard. Her dislikes? Cheese and the backyard (it has a child-proof fence).

There are a couple of boys in between, Spencer and David, which I've determined are God's reminder to us never to let our insurance lapse. I think the latest incident involved homemade water balloons courtesy a 300 box of Glad sandwich bags. But hey, if there's no skin grafts involved, then it's all good. Spencer is into writing, almost to the point of obsession and has an extensive collection of journals he's filled with stories, poems and pictures. As an example of his portfolio I submit his tribute to Andrew on Father's Day:

"The Best Dad"
(A Poem by Spencer)

The best dad is mine!
Just mine.
Not yours:
But my dads
the best. He plays
with me. And loves
me. But your dad
spoils you.
And gives things that
waist your time.
But my dad's
the best.

I should enclose the whole thing in a bracket with a [sic]. Punctuation and grammar copied exactly. You may have wondered from whence all that raw emotion comes--did I mention he is competitive?

David is Spencer's faithful sidekick, one with whom he can share the joys and pains of childhood--the thrill of victory the agony of defeat thing. Plus it's good to always have a ready alibi. Most recently he was honored with the lead in his kindergarten play "Bugz"--and received kudos for his gritty and raw portrayal of a stink bug in distress. There's already an Oscar buzz. Forgive the pun.

As for me, I'm what they call a Stay-at-Home-Mom which is an oxymoron as I don't know one "Stay-at-Home-Mom" that doesn't spend at least 67.8% of her waking hours on the road not to mention the hours each week spent WAITING for children while they're attending some activity. I mean, if I'm a "Stay-at-Home-Mom" I'd like to know when it is I'm actually at home.

In fact, the whole thing is pretty much typified by Grace. This afternoon I saw her and two girl friends sitting on the lawn across the street. When she came in later I asked, "So, what were you playing out there?" She informed me they were playing "House" only they called it "Mom-on-the-Run." I would assume this would refer to time spent in the car and not time spent evading police.

So, as long as you've got those two things in mind you pretty much have the picture. I could go into technicalities of socio-economics, religion, race, politics and food preferences (according to Andrew there are two kinds of people in this world: those who eat mushrooms and those who are sane) but we'll save that for later.

P.S. No, that picture isn't professional, it's taken in the living room with one of the boys' sheets draped behind us between the floor lamps. It was our Annual Family Photo for Christmas Cards (AFPCC) but my buddies at Wal-Mart pulled me aside when I came to pick up the prints and did a pat down because they thought I'd been infringing some professional photographer's copyright.

"Ma'am is this a studio portrait?"

"Really? You think this is professional? I'm flattered, but no--see the worn spots on the sheet?"

"It looks professional."

"Well I'm thrilled you think so but have you seen how blurry the three year-old is? Check her out, we couldn't get her to hold still--no professional would be able to charge for such a picture anyway!"

They didn't seem convinced but I got away with a warning and took mental note not get AFPCC prints at Wal-Mart again. Though it was flattering.


annb said...

Thank you for visiting my site for Chance's birthday tribute. I've visited your site before, but just read this entry about your family today. It sounds like you have a great family! My husband, when we were first married, tried to talk me into moving to Alaska. My father was very sick at the time and I didn't want to be that far from Oklahoma! We have decided for our 20th anniversary we will take an Alaskan cruise. I've never been interested in a cruise other than in Alaska. One of my brothers and his wife took an Alaskan cruise - loved it - and he has visited at other times taking hunting expeditions. He says its beautiful! I hope some day to find out.

M said...

I've just stumbled on your blog via another one and already love it. My little sister lives in Anchorage and I miss her terribly. (Actually, my husband and I have several "transplanted" family members between Homer and Juneau.)

Thanks for all the smiles.

Chris said...

That was cute! Mom-on-the-run. My dd should play that one. Even with just one, I spend more time in the car than actually at home.

And the Walmart people have a good eye. You took a terrific pic. No heads cut off or anything!

Photo Frames said...

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