Monday, June 30, 2008

You're a Fine Girl

Summer seems to bring me closer to a lot of the people I love. The boys and I are spending lots of hours digging, exploring, growing and sharing. Even the very utilitarian act of twice-daily sunscreen application connects us in a way that is hard to come by with otherwise squirmy, active boys. The busy little bathers love to snuggle in warm towels after a dip in the cold water and share a crunchy meal at the diner that is our vegetable garden. Throwing rocks, digging holes, eating ice cream and laughing during water play; we are united in a happiness not found during the dark days of winter.

Mr. Wonderful and I are tackling projects large and small in our yard, and our evenings are spent lounging in exhaustion and cocktails as we are amused by the lightening bugs that our boys become as the sun sets.

In summertime, we travel to see far-away family and friends, and if we're really lucky, they even come visit us while the trees are green, the sun is high, the sky is blue and The Mountain is out.

Summer just brought us a reunion with one of our favorite rays of sunshine:

Brandy has earned many special nicknames in our family, like "Brindee", or "B-Wo", or the latest, from Sam, "Bean".

I prefer to call her "Lifesaver".

Brandy started helping us out when she was in college and Max was six months old. She identified his first ear infection, calling me at work to tell me that he'd spent the day on her lap while holding her hair and sobbing in a fevery, damp mess. She had so much love and concern and competency in her voice that I felt so grateful to have her caring for my little guy when I wasn't there with him. She and I shared many laughs as Max moved from being an immobile ball of giggles into a crawling, walking, and running ball of giggles. And when we moved away, some ten months later, it was Brandy and my mom who helped make the hellish moving day go easier on all of us.

When Sam was born, Brandy was able to come during her summer break from college and help us out for a month as we transitioned from a family of three to four. She bounced our babe for hours while maxing out the bandwidth of the WB trying to catch every episode of "Gilmore Girls". I was slightly surprised that Sam's first words weren't Loralei or Rory. Brandy helped Max become a big brother and allowed me to have quiet moments with my big boy while she cared for our newest addition. Her able assistance helped ease the treacherous weeks of sleep-deprivation and attention adjustment. Brandy's easy laughter and humor is always appreciated around here and her heart is about the biggest size available in such a tiny and pretty frame.

Just like family, Brandy fits right in with all of us and we love her dearly. But unlike family, she's not stuck with us. She could easily shake us and laugh us off as another crazy chapter in her collection of wonderful stories. But she doesn't.

And we are so grateful.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Little Sammy Wonder

Capitalizing on his brother's convalescence, Sam made his first phone call yesterday. Since it's pretty hard to find quiet conversational time around here, and even harder to wrangle the phone away from Max who usually wants to dial the entire free world now that he can memorize number sequences, I thought it was a perfect time for Sam to work on phone manners. And who better to prey upon, er I mean practice with, than my parents.

Sam was beyond getsited to hold the black mantel of power, rehearsing his "Hello Bubbi, Hello TOM" over and over again as the phone rang. When the machine picked up, he looked so forlorn and confused and somewhat optimistic that this meant he could play with the phone buttons.

If there was a way to put cuteness in a can, the first thing I would submit would be the message that he left for them. Lots of enthusiastic greetings to both grandparents and their dog, and then a very emphatic "BYE!", followed by the sweetest, most incoherent "I Love You" ever uttered.

I practically had a sentimental meltdown on my parents answering machine and told my mom that she can never, ever erase that message.

Which essentially means that she will save it on her answering machine and listen to it every single day until Sam graduates from Medical School and gives his grandmother some new technology, as well as a free blood panel evaluation and some really cool pens from the pharmaceutical reps.

A little advice...

If your child is doing a lot of this:

Or this:

And this:

Cuddle them. Enjoy the snuggle time..while it lasts.

But most importantly, if your child is doing a lot of the above, and the other things that accompany a fever of 103 degrees Farenheit, (i.e. a whole lot of nothing), it might be very tempting to try to knock out some items on your to-do list.

Like cutting their hair.

I don't really recommend that.

I tried to give Max a haircut last night, just a little bang trim so that he'd be more comfortable watching all that t.v.

Mr. Wonderful walked into the room and saw me with the scissors dangling dangerously above the eye of our fever-induced son, and I flashed right back to 33 years ago when I was practicing the same scissor technique on my then-two-year old brother. And my mom walked in.

This time, I didn't get yelled at or sent to my room.

The haircut, however, looks remarkably similar.

Stick with the cuddles and popsicles. Much more rewarding for all parties involved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I totally know the feeling

All those new words can really wear a kid down.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Great White Hunter

Exploring identity is important to children. I get that. That's why I get asked lots of questions about the ages, gender, height, and nutritional sources of so many of the areas of interest in Max's world. He's becoming so curious about things other than himself and vehicles designed by John Deere (finally, thank God). As his world expands, he's exploring, and trying to figure out how he fits into it.

Pretend play and dressing-up are an important part in this discovery. This morning we played a favorite game of his, creatively titled, "Town". Not a real tricky game, this "Town". It usually involves him being a firefighter and Sam and I being assigned another town character. Today Sam was a police officer and I was a person doing laundry. At least he was working around my skills.

So we played this for a while, and then Max offered to switch and let his brother be the firefighter and I could be the police officer doing laundry. Clearly I need a new agent, because I have some concerns about becoming typecast.

It's precious to watch Max and his friends act out different characters, practice dialogue, and boss the baby brother around. I remember the same experience vividly from my own childhood. And my heart literally "zings!" when they do this, because honestly, there really wasn't a more pleasurable past-time for me as a child than dressing-up. Even though my fashion sense today more closely resembles a fleece-vested version of my high school gym teacher than a character on Sex in The City, at one time in my life I was VERY into fashion.

I remember distinctly every dress and jewel in our antique red trunk, as well as the wardrobe selection available at all the other homes in the neighborhood. Like the yellow tulle skirt with the butterfly waistband and the spectacular silver heels at my friend Amy's house, the pink chiffon dress with billowy busom and matching pillbox hat at my neighbor's house, and the silky sleep sets at Kristi's. I remember the hours on end that we would spend trying on different outfits, acting out different characters, and negotiating for key pieces of costume.

So I've put together a little trunk of treasures for the boys, and I'll admit I'm having a harder time filling it than I thought I would. I'm trying to avoid gender stereotypes, but I also want to include items that they are interested in, so I've put in a beret, the firefighter and construction hats, some scarves, capes and goggles, doctor kits, a chefs apron and magnifying glasses.

The boys have started adding to the collection, too (oh, so that's where you put your sippy cup, Sammy. Thanks.), and I've even added a few of my old dresses and jewelery.

You totally know where this is going, don't you?

It was inevitable, really. Today Max put on the cotton-candy pink sleveless dress that I wore to my brother and sister-in-law's wedding in 2000. I zipped it up (at his encouragement) while trying so hard to swallow my laughter and tears of happiness. He giggled excitedly and said,

"Look at me! I'm a HUNTER!"


You try not laughing in the boy's face at that one.

Holding back the waves of hysteria, I snorted out,

"Honey, what exactly has Daddy told you goes on at hunting camp?"

Then he started singing the "Hunter song" from Peter and The Wolf, and I realized that he saw it more as a cossac tunic than a dress, which shows that he has some wicked eye for fashion. Recognizing that he's not completely dressed until accessorized, the little pink hunter requested a belt, specifically something resembling a rope. So I started sorting through the vintage suitcase and came up with something that I thought would work perfectly.

"No, Mommy," he said in that "your so silly and fashion risk-adverse" voice, "That's a scarf. This is how you wear it." And he wrapped it around his neck jauntily and showed me that I clearly know nothing about fashion.

Or hunters.

And of course, I took a picture. But that's not something I'll show The Internet. Someday, if Max chooses to wear dresses and call himself a hunter (and you might want to carry if that's the case, son), then it will be his choice to bring the picture out to share. But for now it's just between us.

But I will leave you with this very inspirational piece:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Now that's a campaign I can get behind

Feeling a little Hungry For Change -- and a cupcake-- the boys and I headed to our neighborhood park today for a bake sale.

Now, bake sales in general make me feel a little like puttin' on a church-lady apron and frying up chicken and meeting Almanzo at the school house after Mary and I finish chores and get baby Carrie dressed in her calico and Pa gets the wagon ready to go into town. Everyone wins in a bake sale - the baker, the cause, and the eater - and since there is very little that I can find in this world that offers such an outcome, I'm all for the bake sale.

Today's bake sale reminded me of this poster/bumper sticker circa 1975.

Mr. Wonderful and I saw it on a car once and I told him that it used to hang in my dorm room, and he kind of shook his head in bewilderment and probably muttered something under his breath and I probably giggled girlishly because I LOVE making him just a titch confused about how we could possibly make this all work. Believe me, he does it to me all the time.

It's the secret to a healthy marriage - political debate.

Yes, Mr. Wonderful and I make a habit every first Tuesday in November of canceling each other's votes. And political contributions. And making certain conversations uncomfortable with in-laws, friends and co-workers. But we're totally cool with that. It's not like we didn't know it going into our marriage.

On our second date, Mr. Wonderful swept me off my feet by admitting that, although he would probably be voting for Bob Dole (ok, that's not the feet-sweeping part yet), he did question Jack Kemp as a running mate because supply-side economics doesn't work. And I couldn't agree with him more and thought optimistically - "Yes! There's hope!"

And boy was I ever right. About Mr. Wonderful and our opinion on supply side economics.

But that doesn't mean that the debates and differences of opinion stopped on our second date, or that we see things through the same lens (mine might be a little rosier sometimes), or that we could not disagree more on very fundamental issues. But it keeps the fire going and gives us something to talk about other than poopy diapers or the fiber content of our diet or what color to paint the living room.

Fast forward to our fourth presidential election together and now we're raising two future voters. We make an effort to keep debate calm, intelligent and mature (I only stick my tongue out at him and roll my eyes after he turns his back and the boys can't see me).

Our hope is to raise children who understand that people can love each other very much and still disagree about things, that tolerance isn't just a bumper sticker, and that something needs to be done about the healthcare system in the United States. I want our boys to grow up in a house where people read and discuss, and that they see first hand that being well-read and well-educated on topics about which you have an opinion can serve you well. And that supply side economics is a load of crap.

Overall, I think that today's introduction to political fundraising went very well:

Tractors and peanut butter cookies. These dudes are totally voting Democratic in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Howl at the moon

Eat cherries until your chin turns purple

Wear three bathing suits. In one day.

Grill a steak

Take a bath outside

Paint yourself green and call it Summer

Love it.

I do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I get the goose!

Merry Go Round Days.

Those days where you feel like you're not getting things done, not making progress, and just moving around in circles as if on a never-ending Merry Go Round. Up and down, round and round. The same tinny melody in the carnival of life.

On my carousel a poopy diaper is a poopy diaper (unless, of course it is a redwood tree or Hawaii), Curious George always reconnects with the Man In The Yellow Hat, and my screams of "Turn off the water NOW" constantly fall on deaf ears. Even as the water sprays me in the face.

It's the constant ride of teaching, caring, clothing, consoling, cleaning and loving. Up and down. Round and round.

And then, a new day. And it's the exact same challenges, cuddles, cracker crumbs, and pjs still smelling like urine as they come out of the dryer.

But like a Merry Go Round -- a truly pointless mode of transport -- it's all about the ride. The ups. The downs. The sentimental music. The slightly queasy feeling in your stomach. The adorable and oddly frightening animals and characters you select and watch along the ride. The way that you hold on tight at first and then progress into freestyle with no hands while leaning across to touch the ring. The memories of carousels past and the hands that held you on your early journeys around the ring.

And it always ends too soon.

But, ahhhh, what a ride!

June 2008, Age 4

June 2007, Age 3

June 2006, Age 2

June 2008, Age 2

June 2007, 1 year old

June 2006, 1 month old

You Begin
By Margaret Atwood

You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.

This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.

The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Table for Four, please

The only thing better than garbage day with two boys?

Recycling day with four.

Four. I did have four, right?

Oh, whew. Four. And a purple elephant.

4 Square

The cuteness factor is stratospheric at the MonkeyRanch. I'm watching my 3 and 5 year old nephews, along with my boys, for a sleep over. This means hotdogs served costco-style, mac n cheese from a box, and all the Bob the Builder my DVR can deliver.

The sunshine has made the day glorious and so have their cute little voices. My roses have never been serenaded by as much glee as this quartet offered during sprinkler time. I hope I will always remember the sound of their piggy-like squeals of delight. And the joy of "cold cuddles" - Max's term for naked, wet hugs fresh out of the kiddy pool.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer 2022: Scene I.

The cast:

Sam, Age 16

Max, Age 18

MonkeyMama, older than dirt

SAM: Hey, Mom, can I borrow the keys to your convertible?

ME: No, you may not.

SAM: C'mon. Please. Remember when I didn't say please and I just banged my hand on my chest and looked like a spastic ape performing that modified sign language stuff that you tried to teach us? I'm asking nice now that I'm 16 and can grow facial hair. Please can I have the keys?

ME: No, you may not. But thanks for asking. That's nice manners. Remember when I used to acknowledge the times when you and your brother used manners? I don't need to do that anymore. But I do need to remind you to do your homework. Did you do your homework?

SAM: Look, Mom! A firetruck! Hahhahaahaaa. That one gets you every time. We learned that page right out of your playbook. Now it's coming back to bite you. Speaking of bites, I wanna go grab one. Can I borrow your car?

ME: No, you may not borrow my car. You may, however, have the keys to the rennievan if you promise to check in every 30 minutes and let me know that you're ok.

SAM: Awwwwww! Mom, that thing's like a zillion years old. Besides, it's kind of embarrassing to drive around in it after Dad tagged his phone number on the back so that people could call and complain about our driving. Pleeeeaaaaase can I drive your car?

ME: No. That's my final answer. Where is your brother? Maybe he can give you a ride.

SAM: Oh. My. God. Mom, you're joking right? It's bad enough that I'm known as the younger brother to the Maxcavator, the dude completely obsessed with tractors, but come on. I am not going to drive around looking like a cast member of Green Acres. Can't you make him get rid of that John Deere tractor? I think the girls get a little freaked out when he pulls into their driveways with it. Remember how that one dad drove him off the road and told him not to come back until he had a Kubota?

ME: Sam, you and your brother just need to work this out (Ding: 10 millionth time that phrase has been uttered!). Here he comes now.

MAX: Yo. Hey bro. What do you think of my soul patch and side burns? Kinda retro, huh? Hey, wanna go play drums with me in the garage? I just bought some EXTRA LOUD cymbals and snares. I think they sound great. Hey, are you humry? I just ate like 10 minutes ago, but I'm staaaarving now. Mom, can we borrow your keys?

ME: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fade to black and white.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer: It's the New Winter

Juneuary 2008

I am over the cold. Over. It. I am over being stuck in the house with kids who deserve to be coated in sunblock with juice streaking down their chins and forearms while they dig in the sand and wear sunhats to protect their bald spots. I am over having to come up with "indoor crafts" while the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is planning their cook outs and picking ticks from their pets and blowing bubbles in the swimming pool filled with kid urine.

Okay, so I'm a little bitter.

Find the happy place. Find the happy place. Find the..okay, it's just not here in this latitude.

My highly-strung nerves may have a wee bit to do with the fact that I've been stuck in the house with four young children by myself for two days. Highly outnumbered and in awe of the parents out there who do this everyday. Holy cow.

These were some of the things we did to pass the time:

Okay, so clearly I am not demonstrating good judgement here. Only a bottle of ibuprofen and ear plugs can make this situation any better. Sometimes even mommies make bad choices.

And speaking of bottles, I dyed some macaroni for necklaces. The Internet told me to use a tincture of rubbing alcohol and food coloring. When my neighbor came to pick her kids up, the house (and her children) smelled like booze. And she didn't even bat an eye. God, I love my neighbor.

I still have this bowl sitting on my counter in case the kids get some wild hair and decide that they must make jewelery RIGHT NOW. Of course, their wild hairs are more likely to involve tackles and water faucets, but a mom can always hope. And yes, I have reached my hand into that bowl no less than five times thinking that it might have some little munchy crunchy goody inside, only to sadly pull back and go sob in the pantry.

And just when you think it can't get more 1970's...

We painted Pet Rocks!

If it doesn't hurry up and get sunny around here soon, I'm going to turn up my "Free to Be, You and Me" CD, hang up some macrame plant holders with ferns inside of them, and paint the stainless steel appliances avocado and gold.

Just for something to do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From the poop deck

I know. I know. I know.

Two days in a row of poop talk is two days too many. But it goes on A LOT around here. Poop talk. Normal four year old kid stuff that occupies a great deal of conversation and is never particularly enriching to me, although I recognize it has it's purpose.

One of the things that amuses, yet confounds me, is the desire, no compulsion, to title one's poops. And not just big and small. Oh no, we get very descriptive. Often Max will go into the bathroom and come out with a full report. These are a few of the descriptions Max has given his poop that I can recall. I'm sure I've suppressed many others and I'm totally okay with that. So are you, right?

"A Redwood tree" (ouch)
"A Rainbow. 'Cause you like rainbows, Mommy."
Elephant, giraffe, hippo and zebra poopy (and really, the entire African and Asian continents' fauna, too)
"A class full of big kids. And the school bus with little kids will come after breakfast."

And tonight...
"It looks like Hawaii!" and sure enough, there was a little chain of islands floating in the water.

Mahalo, my little man.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Clean Up on Aisle 9"

While perusing cereal choices in the "Natural Foods" section of the grocery store, I suggested to Max that we try a box of this.

Very sincerely, he replied, "Oh no, NOT that. It blows right through me!"

I Could. Not. Stop Laughing.

Nor could the rest of the people in the aisle with us.

Shaking, actually, from trying not to laugh.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spring Cleaning and Mother's Day - A Package Deal

I did a little site maintenance, cleaned things up, moved some stuff around and realized that I had never posted from my trip to visit my grandmother last month. Oops!

For Mother's Day, my family gave me the gift of time with someone very special, my 91 year old Grandma. I highly recommend the "Nursing Home As Spa" vacation if you ever the get opportunity. I had my own room, went to bed by 8 o'clock each night, ate food that was extremely easy to chew, and felt very grateful to have my health. Isn't that what Canyon Ranch offers on a much steeper price tag? Okay, so maybe I was just a wee bit desperate for a break.

All kidding aside, my grandmother offered me that spectacular gift during my childhood of unconditional, unencumbered, and unending love. The kind that only grandparents who aren't charged with discipline and nutrition and formal education can provide. The kind of love that feels limitless and also anticipated. The kind of love that is birthday cake frosting every time you are hugged.

The kind of love that says "Oh? You didn't want to brush your hair today? That just makes me want to hug you and squeeze your knee. Here, have a cookie. I baked these just for you kids."

Or, "Did you climb up on that counter all by yourself and get those potato chips down? Aren't you clever!"

Or, "Wow, show me how you can stand on your toes again! Why that's amazing! Where did you learn that? Ballet? Oh, show me some more and turn on some music and let me clap for you."

The kind of love that is so very reassuring to children navigating the treachery of growing up. Because childhood, while magical, is also full of learning new skills and trying to be good and figuring out how stuff works and how to write a paragraph and where do the arms go in third position in ballet? And where does the shortstop stand again?

As a young girl, I knew deep down that what I was doing wasn't really all that extraordinary or unique - I'm sure lots of kids could do cartwheels, memorize a poem, or wear a softball uniform - but Grandma always made me feel like what I did was impressive and brought her great joy.

And who didn't need that as a kid? And frankly, who doesn't need that as an adult? What a gift I have - a woman who thinks that I'm great just for being me! It's like my own private cheerleader, Ed McMahon, and personal snare drum all rolled into one lovely soft pink track suit.

And you know, we could all use a little more of that.

My grandma, like many women of her generation, has known hard work and sacrifice far different from anything I've experienced. Her mother died during childbirth, and she soon lost three sisters to childhood disease that she and one other sister managed to survive. She worked in a factory while raising a child during WWII, went back to school and became a teacher while raising my father and did all of this while finishing up a needlepoint or quilting project and maintaining a vegetable garden that was nothing short of victorious.

This Mother's Day I decided to spend some time cheering her on so I traveled to the Midwest to sit with her and visit.

Just me and Grandma. No worrying about little people pulling the rescue cord, or playing in the toilet, or eating the dried plums on the bedstand.

Just us.

Sitting in the solarium soaking up the sun and drinking coffee together. And home baked rhubarb crisp, because you just don't get to go to the Midwest without some divinely baked treat that originated in someone's garden and now is being served in a church dish.

Grandma and I enjoyed watching spring burst open together. She commented on the direction of the wind in that tone that comes with someone who has noticed such things for a long time. The wind really started to blow and bend the trees as if trying to force them to the ground.

And yet, they stood.

Grandma and I watched this together and marveled at their strength. Grandma talked of the tree's root system: imagine, underneath the ground were all those roots that you couldn't see holding it up in the wind. Why, they were probably just as big as those tree limbs spreading out over the courtyard.

And I had this image, almost childlike, of a tree upside down with its roots growing in mirror image under the ground. And it made me smile. And think of her.

That while all of us are out here blowing in the breeze and trying our hardest to stand upright on the windiest and blustery trials of life, we've got roots.

Strong roots that hold us upright even when it feels like the world is gonna tear us down.

And I'm so glad for the roots I've got.

I love you, Grandma!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Best Sound of the day?

Why, that would be the garage door closing as the rennievan rolls out of the driveway with two screaming children and a husband taking them to run errands. For hours.

There is nothing so precious as the silence of my own home.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mud Tide

We had a near record-breaking minus tide today. It happens each June and turns what is normally deep water into a giant playground of muck and goo that smells like a summery squid margarita in a gigantic salt-rimmed glass.

This year's tide was lower than it's been since the summer I was taking driver's ed, and saw "Top Gun" in a movie theater, and knew all the lyrics to Janet Jackson's "Control" - which I listened to on a tape, of course. And it won't be this low again again until Sammy is old enough to drive himself to the beach. And I'll be eligible for AARP.

That's a loooong time away. And 1986 was just a few years ago.

Go figure.

The super low tide reveals the secrets of underwater life almost as if the we were playing "Peek-A-Boo" with tiny marine critters and lifting their blankie. Crabs, clams, moon shells, star fish, bullheads and all kinds of gooey things that looked like jelly fish nuggets were splayed out on the beach. And barnacles...lots and lots of barnacles. And while we normally get to see a few of each of these things at regular low tides, a minus tide is kind of like the difference between a small county fair and DisneyLand.

It's just that cool.

Except if you are a cat. And today I took my cat to the beach.

Okay, so I don't have a cat. But I do have a kid who acts an awful lot like one sometimes. And he did NOT dig the minus tide.

His feet kept getting caught in the sticky, deep, black sandy mud and if he tried to get them out he'd fall into a pile of rancid, slippery seaweed or a giant salt-water filled hole. And did I mention the barnacles? Lots of barnacles.

And my cat kept meowing "Tuck. Tuck" and pointing to his little green crocs that were vacuum-sealed into the sand.

I carried my cat around this slippery beach and showed him how to lift the rocks to find crabs, and splash water in the tidal pools to make the fish swim out of the seaweed. And the shovel and pail that we brought? Not nearly as interested in those as he was in the boats in the water. Mr. Junior Nascar was all about the boats.

There are moments in parenting that you just have to give in. Just give in and say "BOAT!" and be in that place with your kid, even though you know that they are missing out on a natural phenomenon that will not occur again until the AARP membership card is in your wallet.

Because it's not all about me and what I want. It's about this little Nascar-in-training fan who will not get out of his pajamas until he has been promised one Pixar-produced piece of crap item of clothing. And the fact that he loves boats but not water and tractors but not dirt. He is full of all the contradictions and complexities that come with being two years old.

And I just have to embrace it and love it and point excitedly to the boats right along with him.

While inwardly admiring the moon shells and the crabs and the seaweed and the moment of beach bliss with my kid who will probably be carrying me the next time we see a tide this low.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Letters from Home

Dear Max,

Hey Bro, whazzup? Whazzup? hahaha "Whazzup?" - get it? Isn't that funny - Whazzup?! Mommy and I do that to eachother ALL THE TIME and we laugh and laugh and laugh. Gosh, Mommy is so funny. And smart. And tall and pretty, too. I sure do love that Mommy.

Well, things are going pretty good here while you are at Grandma and Grandpa's farm with Daddy. Mom and I play together a lot, but not as much as she thought we would. First there was the cell phone disaster, and then she lost her watch, and then there's all the mess to clean up after dumping out all the places where her watch might be, but I think she's regaining her sanity. Where did we hide that thing anyway? She keeps asking and I keep laughing and saying "Park!" like I have no idea what she's talking about.

Are you having fun with the horses? Wasn't that soooo funny that Daddy didn't pack any clean clothes for you? Only he would think of dumping the dirty clothes hamper into his duffel bag and taking those instead of clean clothes. Makes sense, I guess, since you probably get pretty dirty on the farm. Bummer about no clean underwear, though.

I guess it's good that he called and asked Mommy what size underwear you would wear, you know, if anyone ever wanted to buy you some new ones. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I wanted to tell you how nice I thought your drawing was that you made for your friend right before we went to his party.

But I really think you need to put more expression into your art. I'm a big fan of interpreting the media with my body, you know, really feeling what the art wants to tell the viewer. Kind of like what I was doing right before Mom came into the kitchen:

See, there was no hidden emotion there when she saw it. I knew just what she was feeling. All that angst and rage and it was all right there. I knew she was mad that I did that in the four minutes that she was in the bathroom while we were in a big rush to get out of the house.

And you, bro, you really have her eating right out of your hand. I gotta learn some of your lines. Like when you told her that she was the best, and she said that she wasn't feeling very good right now because she'd yelled at us, and you said, "No, you're the goodest Mommy in the whole world!" and gave her that big hug and kiss on the cheek. I think she really liked that.

Well, it's time for me to go eat more goldfish crackers and pop. You remember pop, don't you? It's the bread that goes in the toaster and "pops" up, and so I like to call it "pop." And I think I'll play with your excavators, too, since you're not around. And your orange garbage truck that you always take away from me and tell me that it's very special, just like the shovel that Grandpa Tom gave you. I was totally diggin' with that earlier today, bro. That's cool.

Okay, well have fun and say hi to Daddy for us. We love you guys and can't wait to see you!

Your brother, Whammy

It practically had a brief case and a CB handle

My cell phone that I've had since before the invention of Reality TV finally quit yesterday.


I'm pretty sure that the Sprint clerk wanted to tell me that he was in 6th grade when they last sold that phone, but he didn't. Maybe they have a chapter in the training manual about not laughing at the old people who bring in the antiques.

I'll spare you the gory details, but I've been to four different establishments to get my old data into my new phone. Chun at the 38th Street PCS store (shout out to you, my friend - you ROCK!) got my data transferred and I almost cried. Or kissed him. Or peed my pants. Or all three. But that would have been horribly embarrassing for him.

And me.

Nothing in this world makes me feel old and stuck in my ways and unable to adapt to change as cellular technology. Or the current playlist on MTV.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Sew many nights, I sit by my Viking..."

I've been dusting off the ol' sewing machine and trying to put some domestic jo-jo into my life. It has resulted in the total destruction of the room in which the sewing machine resides, and a few cute projects, too. I'm delighted to be creating with the same Viking Husqvarna machine that my mom's mom used during the year of my birth and the decades that followed.

But as all parents of small children know, the time for personal projects is preciously rare. I tried including the kids with me, hoping to nurture creativity and teach some basic geometry concepts.

Until my bobbin thread ended up as a lasso and was then unraveled and transformed into a fishing weight, I still can't find a critical piece of fabric, and Max begs constantly to "operate the auger drill."

Martha Stewart never had to work in these conditions.

I snuck some quality work in during Sam's naps this week. I was almost done with a corner piece when the little guy woke up crying. I sent Max in to tell him it was okay and I'd be right in.

I heard a few tears, then whispers, then giggles and giggles.


or, if you know these boys,

"What the hell are they up to?"

The price I pay for solitude.

Maybe it is time for a pummel horse around here.