Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Definition of Sexy

Joe-Henry has been allowed to watch a few shows on commercial television, which is like Pandora's Box to him. If Pandora were a slutty Victoria's Secret Model selling everything from shrimp to mattresses to tires. Honestly, we let him watch "Jeopardy" & Nick. Jr., which has the same programming as Noggin, but because Noggin is advertised, thusly, "It's like Preschool on tv", he suddenly won't watch it because he's NOT in preschool anymore dammit, he's in FIRST GRADE, and he's not going to get caught watching a channel for babies, even if it does have EXACTLY THE SAME SHOWS, but with a bazillion commercials.

Somewhere in all this madness, he's learned the word "sexy", and like it's predecessors FUCK and CRAP, it's just tooo tempting a word, and he knows it's not a good word for him, even though I've never said anything about it. It's like he heard it associated with some image, and knows instinctively that he shouldn't say it. Anyway, tonight we were getting ready for bed and he asked if he could say it. "We're in my room mom - I won't say it anywhere else!". I give him the go ahead, and he lets loose with "Oh, I'm so seeexxxxy, I have a seeeexxxxyyy face!" and bursts into a fit of giggles. "Only in your room, Bud. It's not an appropriate thing for a six year old to say to other kids or grownups". Then I say to myself, "I'm so glad you don't really know what it means yet."

"But I think I do, Mom."

I bite. "Okay, what does it mean?"

"It means beautiful, but in a way that isn't appropriate for six year olds."

After I related this story to my husband, and said "Hell yes, I'm going to blog about it", he said this:

"Tell them I think you're beautiful, but in a way that isn't appropriate for six year olds".

He's a kissass, but in a good way. I'm such a lucky girl.

The First Experiment

It takes a village, as you know, to keep a six year old busy during summer break, and we've been lucky enough to have The World's Best Mechanical Engineer entertaining us with his feats of Mechanical Engineering Derring-Dew, and lobbing us a few fabulous experiments to try as well. This is all courtesy of my friend Suttonhoo, who gave so much lovely space on her superworldly, supersmart blog to this process, and took my thinking out loud "I wish I knew The World's Best Mechanical Engineer so I could foist Joe-Henry's questions about the Max Train Doors off on him" and ran with it, in her inimitably generous fashion. I've been feeling a bit guilty that it's taking us so long to get to them, as he was so kind to answer Joe-Henry's questions in the first place, and he's a busy man, he's not just ANY mechanical engineer, for God's sake he's the World's BEST, and I don't think it's wise to keep the muckety mucks waiting!

However, I have a six year old, whose attention span fluctuates between "TOTAL" (when watching television he CANNOT hear my voice) and "NONE" (in the toy store, he hops from thing to thing like a flea), and I've learned that like in most of the rest of life, timing is everything. So today, armed with our list, we headed out in the pouring rain to Radio Shack.

As we walked into the store, we were immediately assaulted with colorful remote controlled vehicles, all of which he wanted, and "Ooooooh, mom look at THIS one! What? Oh, I know, I know, we're not getting a toy. But look at this one!"

We were also assaulted by some loud rap music, which one employee turned up louder the minute we walked in (and yes, TWBME, I do believe it was GANGSTA rap!). Fortunately for us, the manager, a nice, if somewhat bitter middleaged man, came out of the back, asking if he could help us, while immediately turning down the music and telling the twenty-something employee that it wasn't appropriate. UNfortunately, they didn't have even one of the things on our list, this being a specialized MALL Radio Shack (is there another kind?), and so they only carry obnoxious remote control toys and nothing like motor wire or magnets, etc.

We then walked down the mall to Target, to see if we could get a can of Mountain Dew. They'd sell us a gallon, but not a single can. Now, I know TWBME swears by the stuff, but I know my boy, and fizzy stuff just isn't in his repertoire, and I don't want to buy a gallon jug or six pack of stuff that no one in this house is going to drink. I do plan on making him try it though, if only to take a picture of the face he makes, and I'll finish it up and hope against hope that I don't get addicted.

So, strike two, and out of Target we shuffle, heads hanging low. The only thing that could save the day was a trip to Orange Julius, and just as he is about to open his straw, I remember the astonishingly simple experiment we were given. One of the first in the series on pneumatics. Woooooohoooo! We're saved! The only thing is, he doesn't want to wait for me to take pictures.

But I'm the mom, so I MAKE him wait. I also remind him of the cool pneumatics experiment with the straw, and as I tear off the end of the wrapper, he gets it, and his eyes light up.

After getting hit in the eye with a straw wrapper for about five minutes, I tell him it's time to drink his Strawberry Julius so we can head home. To which he replies "Okay, Mom. But pneumatics is SO much fun!"

And that's how we turned a failed shopping expedition into a fabulous experiment on pneumatics!
Thanks TWBME! You SO live up to your name!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I've misplaced my brain.

It is only three days into summer vacation, and I am wondering how many days are left.

My brain cells are being eaten by pms and a six year old. Heellllpppp meeeeeee.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Last in a series

Check out the last question Joe-Henry asked of The Worlds Best Mechanical Engineer, over at Detritus.
This has been an amazing series. Stay tuned this week to see how these experiments turn out!
Thanks, Worlds Best! We look forward to the questions you have for Joe-Henry!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

art gives life meaning

A couple days ago, my friend Tracey over at More Than A Minivan Mom asked this question:"is it necessary to have some sort of angina or natural proclivity towards the dark side to attain artistic greatness?" It's a great question, and one that, should you have a theory, you should post on her blog.

This post isn't about artistic greatness, but it is about the undeniable need for art in our lives. I believe that life is made richer by art. We need it to shape us, to give meaning to our stories, to fill out the rough edges of the facts of our lives, and to quench our thirsty souls. I know this because whenever my life becomes too much about getting things done, about doing dishes and laundry and paying bills, I become less myself. When I turn on some music, when I dance with my boy, or we paint a picture or go to a museum, it slakes that thirst a bit.

I think that the reason art is crucial, at least to me, is the idea that it is shared, that is communal. When I started blogging, I thought it would be a creative outlet, but the reason I blog isn't to make art. It's to have community. To share stories with others and to peek into other lives. It helps me make sense of the world, and right now I think that's more important than ever.

Yesterday, our little family took a trip north to Seattle, our old stompin' grounds, where my husband and I met, and fell in love, and lived, back when we were single, then a couple, then a married couple. Back then, we didn't have Joe-Henry, but we had a community of friends, artists who shaped our lives and filled our souls. Yesterday, we went to celebrate a dear friend's birthday. He was the best man at our wedding. He's a well-known playwright, and his wife is one, too. They live part of the year in Austin, TX, where he teaches at UTexas, but they spend their summers in Seattle. Another dear old pal was there as well, a friend of my husband's from way back, before I entered the picture, and as the three guys hung out on the patio, and swapped stories, the kids playing nearby, I was struck with the sense that this is our art. These people are still our community, no matter how many miles separate us, no matter how we fill our days - whether it's workin' for the man or doing dishes or raising kids or writing plays. This friendship, initially based on artistic collaboration and a love of cheap beer has turned into a work of art itself. Intricate and lovely and treasured. It's grown and matured. And the beer has improved, too!

We brought instruments with us, because we're hokey that way - a travel guitar, a violin, a child's accordian, shakers and pennywhistles and we all played. The kids, the grownups, even the birds squawked along. We sang "Brown Girl in the Ring" and "Down By The Riverside" and "We Shall Not Be Moved". We played loud and badly, but we made some art.

It was a beautiful drive home, with Joe-Henry awake for all of it, pointing out the moon in the clouds and the shapes they made. Making up his own stories. Painting the world in rich colors - just for us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

pet peeves

It's that time of the month again. Well, I guess it's always kind of that time of the month for me, what with the perimenopausal crawl to eventual relief. I told my darling husband that I was going to be a bitch for only about ten more years. Maybe eight if we're lucky!

Anyway, I started thinking today in the car about things that happen in the world that drive me nuts. Besides George Bush. I can't even go there. No, these are things that are out of my control that other people do. Like driving in my blind spot for over a mile when I'm trying to change lanes. Or using bad grammar. (Not just the occasional grammatical faux pas, like beginning a sentence with "Or", but people who say things like "So I goes" or "ain't" all the time). It grates at me like nails on a chalk board. I know that my writing is full of it, and I apologize profoundly if I'm causing you to tear out your hair. If it makes you feel any better, it makes me crazy too.

The thing that really gets in my craw though, and makes me actually want to open my mouth and say something instead of just keeping my mouth in a firm Lutheran line, is people who smoke around kids. I. Hate. It.

Now, I had parents who both smoked, and my sister, who I love to bits and pieces has smoked since I was in second grade. I have begged her to stop since I was SEVEN, to no avail. She stopped briefly when she was pregnant with her son, and to her credit, she doesn't smoke anywhere near others or in her home. It makes me so sad to be resigned to losing her sooner than I want to. She is, however, respectful of others and aware of the effect her smoking has on others, and she goes to great lengths to damage only her own lungs. It's people who smoke in crowded outdoor areas and think just because they are outside they aren't affecting others make me a little nuts. That's my air too, and I'd rather not take your nicotine into my lungs thank you very much. Usually, though, I just move out of the way if I can. And that's just it. I can. Because I'm a grown up and can use my legs to walk away. Those folks who smoke with children in a stroller, or God forbid, while they are being held by the smoker, well it makes me want to just take that baby away until they are finished with their cigarette, then give them a good talking to. Or use my powers of Lutheran Guilt to make them change the error of their ways. I don't though, because I don't want to be arrested, and I don't want everyone at my son's school talking about how his mommy is just nuts. But honestly, go ahead and kill yourSELF, if you are so inclined, but do you know the damage you are doing your children? Do you care? It makes me NUTS.

What are your pet peeves? Perimenopausal Judgemental Lutherans? Let me know...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pop a Mountain Dew and check it out...

The World's Best Mechanical Engineer strikes again over at Detritus, courtesy of my pal Suttonhoo!

Also, stay tuned next week, when school is out and Joe-Henry and his momma attempt to do the experiments in this awesome series!

Monday, June 18, 2007

tastes like...

I chaperoned the kindergarten class fieldtrip to the park, which is about 50 yards from the school. It was a roaring success with no blood spilled, and fun had by all. But my favorite moment came when a little boy who has become a favorite of mine took a bite of a sour cream and onion potato chip and said...

"Yuck! That tastes just like the stuff that comes out of my ear!"

It confirms my belief that six year olds write way better jokes than anyone else.

Holy Dickens!

Joe-Henry finishes kindergarten this week. I am confident that this summer will go by both too quickly AND too slowly for both of us. My voracious learner has read over 400 books in kindergarten and during testing read at 138 wpm with no errors and full comprehension. Gone are the days when we could spell things out that we didn't want him to understand. Looooong gone.

I have him signed up for two weeks of swimming lessons, a sports camp (with me) where he can play different things and find out if he likes any of them, and two weeks in California visiting Grandma and Grandpa. We've got plans for the Library and learning to tie shoes and doing experiments and going to the Science Museum and the Children's Museum. But I am already pooped thinking about how I will keep him occupied and involved with other kids his age.

He needs stimulation and interaction, like all kids. I feel like we've been riding some gentle waves and now we're entering the headwaters of childhood: Playdates, stricter rules, more structure on my part. He thrives on it, whereas before he could entertain himself for hours with a trainset, he needs more guidance, not less. My little boy, who couldn't write his name in September, now writes letters to people, signs his name to everything and has a vocabulary that trumps a lot of twenty somethings. He is also beginning to understand the power of words. "Shut up" is forbidden in our house, and is worse than a curse word. "Crap", "Damn it", "Goddamn It", and "Shoot" apparently are all kind of the same in his mind. So he's come up with some alternatives, my favorite being "Holy Dickens!" But because of some huge lapse in parental guidance on our part, the F-bomb is hysterically funny to him. The night before Father's Day he is signing the card to his dad, and he writes "Happy", then "F", then looks at me with wild eyes. "Mom. Could I write, you know, the bad word that starts with 'F'. On the card?" "No, Bud. That's not a nice thing to say." "I know. But it's funny, right? Could I leave a message on Dad's phone?" I shake my head. "Well, could I just say it? To you? Out loud?" The look on his face is pleading and angelic, and I know that if I say no, it will become far too powerful a word, and he'll start using it out of my earshot, like verbal heroin. "Okay. But only here in your room, with me."

His eyes light up and he mimes getting out his cellphone and dialing a number. "I have to leave a message. 'You've reached my new number. I'm not here right now. Leave a message after the beep'" He is beside himself laughing at this point, and he says "Hi Dad! It's me, Joe-Henry. I'm just calling to say 'Happy Fuckers Day! Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck!'" At this point, he's spent, from laughing so hard. And I'm exhausted from keeping a straight face.

"I know I'm not supposed to say it, Mom. Thanks for letting me." It's out of his system for now. He knows not to say it at school, or anywhere else for that matter. Hopefully it won't come up again for a while. I know that's completely wishful thinking.

Of course I told Charley later. "Man. I wish I had that message on my cell phone."

As for me, I can't stop saying Holy Dickens!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

More Questions Answered...

....from, as he now calls himself, The Blogspot Buddha.

from Carter, we have: Do you draw pictures at school? Of what?

Yes. Self-portraits.

Spencer would like Mommy to hold him. NOW.
I don't know what that means.

Katie wants to know if you like to play with trains. (Some residual trauma, I think, of my confiscating a handful of toxic Thomas trains yesterday. I swear that I was trying to be as subversive and sneaky as possible, but preschoolers are maddeningly, uncannily perceptive.)
Yes. That's a short answer.

And my question is: what will be the name of your first full-length CD? And will you autograph my copy, please? Thank you.
"The Freightliners". And Yes, of course!


Before you go off, willy nilly, throwing away trains and causing untold trauma to your children, you can find a specific list of Thomas Trains that are being recalled HERE.

Your Questions Answered by the Buddha Boy

Tracey R. asks:
oh young Siddhartha, riddle me this - what is the best sport and why?

Baseball. Because you get to bat and throw and catch. You can get a bat and ball at Walgreens because they sell things nicely. The other bestest sport is football because they have lines on the grass and my favorite color is brown and white. And yellow. I like a lot of colors actually.

iRodius asks:
Joe-Henry, if you could name a baby boy anything you wanted, and nobody would say, "You can't call him that!", what name would you choose?

Alexander. It sounds like a good word. Also Sean, Andrew, Arthur*, Zephir*, Isaac, Alex**. And that's all. P.S. - Mubarik (that's his best friend at school)
* We are reading Babar right now
**For Alex Trebek

And finally, EnglishGarden asks:
My question is. why do 3 yr olds never want to nap or go to bed but as soon as you get older (like 30) thats all you want to do, sleep!!

Because they don't know that they will feel better after they take a nap, because all they do in the beginning is cry and cry and cry. When you get older all you want to do is take naps because you're lazy. And another word about 3 year olds is... Big sneeze, followed by "Mom, look at the size of this boog!", then, "just a sec, I need to go pee") always be sure for your baby to take a nap. So that is the news.

Mom, I can't wait for anybody else to ask me more questions. This is fu-unn! Even more fun than riding a bike.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Kind of flower are you?

I KNEW there was an actual quiz you could take to find out this very important information.

I found this quiz, along with some pictures of my friend Claire's beautiful family here. Claire used to live across the street from me in North Hollywood, and now she's slummin' in Sherman Oaks.

All this time I thought I was a stripedy rose. But I'm not. I'm a Sunflower. Except when I have PMS. Then watch out

Take the test. What are you?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"When your friends think smile, they think of you. There is not a day that goes by that you can't find something good about the world and your fellow human."

Monday, June 11, 2007

An Homage to "The Sopranos"

Questions for the Buddha Boy

We have been blessed, oh so blessed, and I say that in a very Unitarian, not exclusionary way, to have many, many questions about how things work answered for us by THE WORLDS BEST MECHANICAL ENGINEER. There is another hysterically funny, mind-bendingly great post over at Suttonhoo, where TWBME answers another of Joe-Henry's many questions about how things work.

Mr. TWBME also left a comment that Joe-Henry might be able to answer a few questions for him. It hit me like I was wearing a gong on my head (or perhaps a mechanically engineered buzzer of the type they use on Jeopardy!). Here's my idea - Joe-Henry routinely dispenses with pearls of wisdom to me, because six year olds have this uncanny ability to not get in their own way with manners and rules and such, and their truth is absoute and uncluttered. He teaches me daily how to clean up my act and be a better human, and stop obsessing over the wrong things.

So I thought I'd start a new weekly thing here on my blog: Questions for the Six Year Old Buddha. It will deal with matters of the heart and how to be a better person and make good decisions. Any questions asked anonymously will be automatically deleted, and no sex questions please. Unless you want to get confused even further.

If anyone has any questions for the little guy, let me know, and I'll ask, and we'll post the answers on Friday.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I love a parade

It's Rose Festival week here in the NW, and you can tell, it's in the air. And on the ground. Which means it's raining. Something I guess it does pretty much without fail during this Festive Time Of Year.

Anyway, there's lots of hullabaloo - parades, floats, carnivals, ships, sailors, and queens. Oh, and the Rose Festival Royalty, too.

I don't like carnivals, but I will occasionally go, because I'm a parent and I have to do things I don't enjoy, like hanging out with white trash who think beer, cigarettes and cotton candy are a balanced diet and riding on things that spin you til your insides spill out is exercise. Luckily, JH is his mother's son, although he's not judgemental about it like I am. He just doesn't like to vomit in public.

We will be going to check out the ships and the sailors, because I'm sure they have all kinds of cool mechanically engineered doors on those babies. And as much as I love a parade, we won't make the Rose Parade because my darling husband is making a commercial at our house this weekend for a kilt company contest. Even if I weren't in charge of the Badass Kilt Fairy costume and craft services, it's sure to be an adventure I wouldn't want to miss.

We missed the Starlight Parade last weekend because it started, well, at STARLIGHT, and that's around 10:00 p.m. here in the Northwest, and my boy wouldn't make it past the first float, I'm pretty sure.

It's all okay, though, because you know what we DID manage to catch? The JUNIOR Rose Parade, which was absolutely thigh-smacking, ahhhhh-inducing, goosebump raising fun. There were some adorable tikes in wagons carrying signs that said what year different toys were invented for their theme of "100 Years of Toys", and a group called "Moms of Multiples", who looked absolutely bedraggled by the time they reached us at the very end of the line, and some kids on unicycles and some tai qwon do groups stopping to kick at each other in front of the crowd, but my absolute favorite were the marching bands. I was in Marching Band in high school. We were a tiny school in Eastern Washington, and when I started playing flute in Jr. High, we got a new instructor. He was on FIRE for music, and he kicked our asses around more than one football field, and by the time I graduated, we were REPRESENTING. When I think about my highschool memories, being a band geek was the experience that has stuck with me the longest. There's a saying about marching band: "If it were easy, they'd call it football."

Anyway, at the parade, there were a few truly amazing marching bands. Some of these bands were from elementary schools, and let me tell you, I was extremely proud to be from Washington State while they passed by, because by and large, most of them were from my side of the river, Oregon having a pretty tough time of it with "extra curricular activities" getting funded.

The aging Band Geek in me stood up extra tall when I'd hear those drums - Some of the drum lines were so tight, you just had to pinch yourself to believe these kids were in Elementary and Jr. High. And some were so sloppy I actually heard myself say outloud "Guide RIGHT, people!" Joe-Henry looked at me with particular pity at that point. I am going to embarrass him so much when he's a teenager. My favorite band was the Evergreen Jr. High band. - they were so tight, so mighty, so PROUD, it gave me hope for the future.

After the parade, we stopped and got a popsicle and marched back the five blocks to our car. Joe-Henry wants to enter the Jr. Parade next year. Be careful what you wish for son. Your mom is an aging Band Geek.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Maybe next year

I promised a few days ago that I'd post about Joe-Henry's audition for the school talent show, and I've been wrestling with what exactly to say. But mostly I've been wrestling with myself. Unfortunately there has been no baby oil or mud involved, so I haven't enjoyed it at all.

The thing is, I don't want to become one of "those" mothers. I don't want to push my child into something he doesn't want to do. I want music to be the fun, amazing outlet that it has always been for him. Do I think the world at large would love to hear him play and be amazed and amused by the stuff his heart and his head and his hands put together? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! He routinely floors me, he blows the lid off my brain daily, and I am grateful, so grateful that sometimes we remember to record it and other times are burned indelibly into my memory, like a lighter held high at the alter of your favorite rock concert. I hear him sing, truly rockin', soulful, way beyond his years stuff, and I catch myself looking down at my lap, wondering how he slipped out of this body.

That said, I also want music to be his journey, not mine. No matter how much I know deep in my heart and soul that he would and could someday soon set the music world on its ear, I would rather have the music set him on HIS ear. I want him to be moved by it himself, I want him to worship at that altar on his own time and in his own way. And he told me yesterday, when he came home from school with the note that said he was accepted into the talent show that he wanted to wait one more year, the Mama Anne in me had a smackdown with the Mama Rose in me. It was no contest, really. I kicked her ass to the curb.

So Harney Elementary will have to wait at least another year to hear the boy play. It's his decision, and I'm so proud of the time and consideration he's given it.

Rock on. Over and out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Time + Heart = Generosity

This is a Huge Hug and a Shout Out to my friend Suttonhoo over at Detritus, and to The World's Best Mechanical Engineer, a dear friend I've never met.

It all started with me getting winded trying to keep up with my son's long list of questions about how the doors work on the Max Train. I jokingly suggested to Suttonhoo that I'd love to direct some of those questions to TWBME. She was seeing him in the next couple days, so she asked if he'd be willing to answer a few questions from a six year old, and he gamely said "Yes!"

I posted about this a few days ago, but he has steadily been supplying the most amazing, innovative, exciting and best of all UNDERSTANDABLE answers to Joe-Henry's questions about the way things work. Of course, it's a given that Joe-Henry would understand them, I'm talking about understandable to ME. He makes Mechanical Engineering thrilling. And funny.

Really, truly, you need to check it out. The whole series is right here.

Thanks again to The World's Best Mechanical Engineer and the Fabulous Ms. Suttonhoo.

Monday, June 4, 2007

lest you think we're perfect....

... I thought I'd follow up the last post with something from "the other shoe drops" files.

After our perfect day of serendipity, yesterday, Daddy went back to work and Joe-Henry was stuck with just me. He was worn out from the day before, and he woke up tooooooo early (6:15), and he's growing so fast I can watch it happen. So what could this possibly mean, you ask?

He was capital C Cranky yesterday. He was lonesome, and there was no one to play with (I offered my services, but squirtgun fights with mom just weren't in the cards). He even got tired of Jeopardy! after the first two games. We called the two friends he wanted to play with, neither were available, we knocked on the door of two neighbor kids, no one was home. I wound up taking him to the Children's Museum, which usually does the trick. But did it do the trick yesterday? No siree, it did not. Even the Max ride there wasn't the hour long gleeful stop-announcement-and-door-fest it normally is. It was just a stand-up-the- whole-way-because-it's-the-Rose-Festival-week-and-all-the-drunks-are-headed-to-the-waterfront-and-it's-hot-and-sticky- and-smelly-and-"DON'T-TOUCH-MY-SON'S-HEAD-AGAIN...PLEASE" (ever the Lutheran)-ride AND it was longer because there were so many people on the train.

He was in tears when we got home. He wanted a popsicle, but it was too close to dinner time and he was low blood sugar hungry. And he was lonesome. I felt horrible for him. And a bit cranky myself by this time, because whining in my ears for hours on end can get to a girl.

Finally I managed to get him to eat some dinner, and there he was. My son. My cheerful son. He was still a little lonesome, but not the morbidly sad child of twenty minutes before. Then when Daddy got home, he got to play some ball, then the neighbor kid finally came out and they all played for about a half hour. A half hour past bathtime (aren't I a good mom?!) They played hard, and life was good again.

There's school today, which he loves because he's only six, and thunder in the distance, and black, black clouds, and I'm hopeful that the coming storm will wash away the remains of that sticky, icky day.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


When my husband and I were first dating, aside from having really hot sex all the time, followed by vanilla icecream with hotfudge in bed, we had these moments when the outside world seemed to confirm that we were really right for each other. Like the time we were heading to a movie and this guy on the street came up and gave us a flower. He was kind of crazy, but he had us convinced that he was a seer, and he was sure we were madly in love and could cure the world with our magic. Or the time that we were out for a motorcycle ride one gorgeous Seattle summer day, riding around the islands, when we happened to stumble on a cliffside wedding. There was not a large wedding party, it was only the bride, the groom, the minister and one witness, who I believe was maybe their child. We had stopped in a parking lot to get off the bike and stretch, and there they were, just below us, hidden from the road, but high above the white boats bobbing in the sparkling blue water. We were both silent, but our hands managed to meet and we just sort of sat on a log, out of their sight, and witnessed it. We couldn't say anything to each other about it then, but later, when our relationship became more serious, we both acknowledge that it was a turning point for both of us. We both knew that this was the universe telling us something. I think back on it today, and shake my head in disbelief at two things: we were right, and we rode a motorcycle.

Today, a lifetime later, we had another completely serendipitous day, a day when the planets aligned and the Goddesses smiled on our efforts to just "be" together as a family, to hang out in the world with no real plans except to maybe all get along and not bitch at each other, and see something new in this little town we live in. It didn't start off to be very promising at all - Joe-Henry woke up and after a few sweet snuggly minutes, turned into a greedy little toy capitalist, begging to go to Finnegans and get "this really cool digger". I had promised Charley some writing time this morning, so after forty five minutes of "no", I finally got JH out the door to go to Home Depot to build a wooden bi-plane (for free!) and we managed to break the spell of the two toys in the world he does not own. We had a blast, building our little wooden plane and he was so proud of it. More proud of his orange apron, though, which he wore for the rest of the day and had to be told the cold hard truth tonight at bedtime. If you wear your orange Home Depot apron to bed, you will strangle on the strings and die. I know I'm a freak, but bed is a dangerous place, and I'm not one to shy away from saying what needs to be said to get my kid into bed safely.

After Home Depot, we headed to our favorite spot in Vancouver: Esther Short Park. Not only is it named after a tough as nails pioneer woman, it's just a beautiful park. There is a bandshell there and gorgeous spruce trees and it seems like there is always some kind of community "happening" there. There is also a killer Farmer's Market there every weekend, and there's a great little play structure in the park. And even when the weather is crappy, there is always the River Maiden Coffee place that serves Stumptown Coffee, which is quickly becoming my favorite coffee in the world. We grabbed some apples, some strawberry shortcake, admired the rose garden in full bloom and he came down the slide about 70 times. In his orange apron. Then we headed to the far side of the park to wade in the man-made creek, and there is nothing happier than a kid in the water on a beautiful day. He did take his apron off for this, because he didn't want to get it wet, because it's his good apron. He inherits this from my husband's side of the family. After he was thoroughly soaked, we walked the block to the car and rode home to see Daddio.

I had promised Charley that we could go for a bike ride today, and had to hold up my end of the bargain. I am so lazy when it comes to getting exercise, and I don't know why. I think it's because we live in the middle of a hill and I am so out of shape I can't make it up the hill without walking the bike and I feel like a pussy. But it always makes me feel great, and to be out riding bikes with my two boys on a spectacular day, well there is nothing better. So I got over myself, and slathered on the sunscreen and we peddaled back through town, then down to the river to ride along the truly gorgeous bike trail. It was like discovering this place anew: my brother, an avid cyclist had been telling me about this path all year, and finally we found it. We rode past beaches and parks and a beautiful new condo development where we envisioned Grandma and Grandpa moving. We stopped for a moment to get our bearings and a voice spoke to us from the shade: "Are you going to the Sturgeon Festival?" This friendly gentleman who drove a pedicab told us that if we rode another mile or so, we'd hit the Water Resources Education Center, where there was a Sturgeon Festival. Since I couldn't pass up something that had the words "sturgeon" and "festival" in the title, we hit the road. The ride was a mix of business parks and actual parks, and there were families and happy couples and gorgeous young bodies playing volleyball. And my boys on the tandem bike, smiling and laughing all the way. When we got to the Sturgeon Festival, there was a fellow with a cut open sturgeon on the table, talking about it being very tame and tranquil (well, sure, it is NOW, now that you've CUT IT IN HALF AND SHOWED US IT'S INNARDS)while children sort of, um, petted it , Joe-Henry looked as though he might show us all what he had for lunch, so we moved on around the corner, where there were booths to do artwork or get a hot dog, and inside, INSIDE there was the Reptile Man. Now, I don't know about you, but children's entertainers usually make me slightly queasy. But this guy, he was GOOD. So informed, so passionate about his reptiles and informing people about them, and he didn't talk down to the kids at all. He was also very, very funny. Or his reptiles were. But he was an excellent straightman.

Joe-Henry sat in the front with the other kids, something he wouldn't have done a year ago, raising his hand at every opportunity, and Charley and I sat with the grownups, across the aisle from one another. We oohed and ahhhed and laughed and then we caught each other's eye. We were witnessing again, all these years later, the magnitude of those fleeting, serendipitous moments.

Who knew the day would turn out this good? Who knew we'd trade in that motorcycle for a married life with a kid? Who knew this ride would be so much fun?

answers to life's questions...

...will need to be answered somewhere else.

But answers to a six year old's questions, questions about doors and trains, etc, asked of THE WORLDS BEST MECHANICAL ENGINEER, through the generous spirit of Suttonhoo over at Detritus, those answers can be found here.

Honestly, I just couldn't take anymore door questions, so I passed them along, and THE WORLDS BEST MECHANICAL ENGINEER answered them brilliantly.

Thank you, WBME! Thank you!