Saturday, March 31, 2007

tmi & an angel named Doris

I learned too late in my life that T.M.I. stands for "too much information", and as you now know, in my world there apparently is no such thing.

Honestly though, since our meltdown, life has been seriously lovely. There were the bubbles, of course, and working in our garden, digging in the rich earth and marvelling at the brilliance of everylivingthing out my window. I'm actually really looking forward to this week with spring break. We've been snuggling a lot, reading books and talking about everything from the upcoming wedding to math problems to Joe-Henry's Halloween Costume. He's going to be Dwight Shrute.

We also got him fitted for a custom compression stocking. I can't tell you how frustrating it's been since our move to try to find ANYONE who is willing to learn about Joe-Henry's syndrome. His pediatrician is very hand's off, but mostly I think it's just the way his office works and not necessarily him. Everything seems to take longer than it should, and be more complicated and people have just been kind of, well, not helpful. But I finally found the fount of knowledge for all things vascular and lymphatic, and it was in a little dress shop that specializes in mastectomy wear and compression garments. I found them through another local kt mom. I've never met her, but we've exchanged lots of emails. She directed me to this store, where we were met by Doris. Doris is now, officially, our angel.

She's probably in her 60's, she's very tan with dark curly hair, and she has a very exact speech pattern. On the phone I pictured her to be completely humorless and librarian like, and I couldn't have been more wrong. She was a riot, a great listener (Joe-Henry had LOTS of stories to tell - more on that in a moment), and an absolute expert in all things compression: lymph flow, vascularity, types of materials, different styles of stockings, etc. She had more information and more compassion than anyone else I've met here. And if all goes as planned, Joe-Henry will have his bright orange compression stocking in about 10 days.

Anyway, she had Joe-Henry take off his pants so she could measure him, and he immediately said he had to go to the bathroom. So I told him we should probably put his pants back on so we wouldn't shock the ladies, and he said, "Yeah, I don't want to be like Daddy that one time when he forgot his robe, running naked through the house grabbing his penis yelling 'Nudiedaddynudiedaddynudiedaddy'!"

Um. No. Probably not.

I guess the whole "oversharing" thing runs in the family.

Friday, March 30, 2007

hit the target

The other day, the perfect bubble blowing day, we, Joe-Henry and I, had a tantrum. It started because I clearly don't love him enough. I refused to make him a garden burger, and forced a turkey sandwich down his gullet instead. If I were a better mother, I would have taken that turkey sandwich, and thrown it right in the trash and made him his garden burger instead of calmly and cruelly refusing to budge on the matter. And then, when he came in the kitchen and hit me, while screaming at me (no words, just a high-pitched banshee scream that had everyone in the neighborhood putting social services on their speed-dial), forced me to take away his tv shows for the day. Well, that did it. He went into full-blown rage, screaming, crying, demanding that I "STOP THIS BAD BEHAVIOR RIGHT NOW".

In retrospect, and in the moment, I was incredibly calm. It was low blood sugar, to be sure, but still, SO not acceptable. He was sent to his room, but refused to stay there, and came marching out past me in the hallway. This is where it took a turn, where time warped, slowed and sped up again, and left us both wondering what happened. I grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt to catch him as he passed, growing really impatient with these shenanigans as he accelerated, and was yanked backward, landing on his back and very lightly bonking his head. I felt horrible, of course, and knelt down, apologizing profusely, telling him it was a mistake, an accident, I was soooo sorry. I was terrified that he was really hurt, even though I didn't pull him hard, I was so very scared. He wept uncontrollably, still raging, then looked me right in the eye and screamed:


I remember a long time ago, a lifetime really, when I was a childless person, I took care of a little girl. She was an only child, and had her parents trained. They were like seals in the circus, balancing balls on their noses, clapping and barking at her every move. Her mom told me once that, when her little girl was in the bath, she was taking too long to get out, and she was hurrying her along, so her little girl said "I don't love you Mommy! I hate you!" She told me she had to leave the room so her daughter wouldn't see her cry. I was so perplexed by her reaction. How could she not see that she was being manipulated? Why on earth was she not taking the upper hand?

I think of that story now, because as well as we know our children, their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, quirks and idiosyncracies, they know ours as well. They know where our buttons are, because they put them there. This little girl knew right where to find that big red button, and exactly how to push it.

A while ago, Joe-Henry told me he wanted a new mommy, and I told him that we should write a list of all the things he wanted in this new mommy and give it to his dad so that he could go shopping for one. He once told me he didn't like me, and I told him that I loved him. He danced and jabbed, but had never landed a blow that even remotely hurt. I've always known he was flailing, wanting more control of any given situation. And who knows, maybe I would have reacted that way this time too, if I hadn't been repeatedly, continually screamed at for half and hour, if I hadn't had pms, if I hadn't actually done something that might have harmed him physically if I had jerked that hood a smidgen harder, or if he'd been running instead of stomping.

But instead, he hit his target. As I held him on the floor, and he screamed in my face, I felt like a failure. Like it was true, there was another mother out there who would have handled that better, who wouldn't have hurt him - even accidentally, who would challenge him in ways I couldn't, who would have more patience and more control, who would stay on top of it, who would stimulate him enough to keep him on his toes instead of picking a fight over a garden burger. I buried my face in his neck and wept.

This scared him to death, and he immediately apologized, saying "no mommy! please don't cry, calm down please!" This made me feel even worse, but I pulled myself together, and put on my best mommy face and said, "I'm okay. It's okay. Let's just both take three deep breaths, alright?!" We sat there like that, still on the floor, still wrapped in each other's arms, breathing deeply, feeling the sting of our tears and knowing we were holding onto each other's souls.

I checked his head ("it didn't really hurt, mom, but I was scared"), no bumps, his back was fine, but both of our hearts were pretty bruised. And I think we both know something we might not have known before.

That button, that giant red one right there? That one is never to be pushed. Never, ever again.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Nothing is as perfect as blowing bubbles on a spring afternoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Went On A Date!

A playdate, to be exact. Joe-Henry has been talking for a long time about a little boy in the other kindergarten class. He'd talk about how they played at recess, and how kind he was. I finally met this little boy and his mom at the Bingo night at his school a while back, and while I really loved the little boy, I especially liked his mom. We were both in the same state of open-mouthed shock at the Bingo night. Well, that's not quite true. While my jaw routinely hit the floor at some of the parents, she was a lot more polite, and mostly kept her mouth closed.

I don't mean to sound like a snob. I volunteer in Joe-Henry's class once a week, and I can truthfully say I love each of those kids. Some of them come from homes that have less than ideal situations, but a lot of them are from just working class homes, with many brothers and sisters, and the parents just don't do playdates.

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Washington State, and while I loved it when I was young, I was soooo grateful to get out of there. Small towns make me itchy scratchy - there is, for the most part, a fear of "difference". "Difference" being artistic or intelligent, or just questioning the status quo. In highschool, I so wanted to be like everyone else, but eventually I just chafed at the sameness of it, and I'm forever grateful that I did. Because I got out. But the thing is, now I'm back. The town I live in is right across the river from a really urban city, and if the schools across the river in that other state were decent, that's where I'd want to live. But the schools there are perpetually threatened with closure, and the schools here are very good. So this is where we landed. And everyday, I try so hard to just be myself, and I try so hard not to be a snob, but I think I'm mostly treading water. There are so many people here who live in that fearful state, afraid of difference, with no curiosity, no spark, no light. These are the parents I'm talking about. And I just don't wanna hang out with them.

But yesterday was different. This woman has friend potential... smart, interested, a great mom, with a good sense of humor. I have a little mom crush on her. And just in case this is misinterpreted, let me just say - it's been a long year here without my mom friends. Sure we talk on the phone, and I have amazing family here to keep me afloat emotionally, and my dear childhood friend Debbie, who has been so good about keeping in touch, but I had it so good for playdates in LA. We had lots in common, we had similar child-rearing philosophies, and even if we DIDN'T, there was still no question that we were all great moms, doing our best, and the camaraderie was so very special. It's that I miss.

So I'll do my best not to be a superfreak. I'll try not to call too much. I'll try not to bare my soul on the second playdate. But it feels so nice to know that my son has a friend with a mom I like.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How To Be A Girly Girl....

I'm wondering, does anyone know? Because I grew up in a house raised mostly by my dad (my mom died when I was eight), and even though I had an older sister, and my dad had a girlfriend, I was too embarrassed to ask certain questions. I did finally appeal for some help when I started my period, and BEGGED to shave my legs in jr. high, because I had the hairiest legs in gym class (can I just say right here, right now, that if there is a hell, it's going to look and smell a lot like Lincoln Middle School in Clarkston, WA, circa 1974). I was tortured in Jr. High, and my dad's girlfriend had a daughter with long, perfectly straight blonde hair and big blue eyes, and because she seemed to know SO much about romance and all things girly (she married her jr. high sweetie right out of highschool, and yes they are still married), I worked VERY HARD to not care about that stuff. I was proud of being smart and funny, and even though I don't really remember what I was interested in then, I know it wasn't how to make the most of my "feminine wiles".

So, here I am at 45 years old, wondering, should I wax my arms and get rid of the few straggly dark hairs that are there, and more fully expose the ages spots that seem to be blooming there instead? Should I wax my eyebrows, even though they are mostly nonexistent? Or should I focus on the rest of my face, which seems to be getting a bit fuzzier by the year? There's no way I'm getting a bikini wax. I can hardly bring myself to get a mani/pedi because I start to worry about the person doing my nails. "Are they getting cancer from breathing this all day? Do they hate me because I'm paying them to paint my nails? Do they think I'm gross because I have that foot fungus, even though it's mostly healed? Is that what they're saying in Korean to the other manicurist - that I'm a disgusting American with a foot fungus?"

And what should I wear to my niece's wedding? I have a pretty sleeveless dress with pale flowers that's kind of elegant, but I'd have to get shoes to go with it, or should I wear the darling brown and white polka-dot three quarter sleeve Kim Hunter in Picnic dress? If I wear that, I want to get some kind of color mixed in with my accessories, so I'm thinking coral or orange or green shoes and wrap, but is that horrible? And what kind of shoes do you wear to a garden wedding? If you wear sandals or peep-toe heels, do you wear pantyhose? Because, NOT wearing pantyhose is pretty much out of the question. As much as I love my body, I still know my limits. See, this is what comes from thinking that Glamour and InStyle are just tools used by "the Man" to keep us in our place, distracted by shiny baubles and smelly perfume samples. A Garden Wedding sends me into a frenzy of self doubt.

I've spent the better part of my life in jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt, and I rarely wear heels and a dress, even though I love how I feel in them. Does this stuff come naturally to all of you? Because it doesn't come naturally to me. So help a girl out here, send me your best girly girl tips. I promise, I'll still be my same sarcastic self. I'll still vote Democrat. I'll still think "The Secret" is a load of whooey. I just wanna know, before I'm so old that it doesn't even matter any more, how to be a lady.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How I Fell In Love With My Body

I wrote the original version of this four and a half years ago. I got it out and dusted it off after reading Tracey's great post on Morethanaminivanmom
It's a great post, and really got me thinking about body image, and how hard we are on ourselves.

This isn't my favorite bit of my writing, but I still thought it was worth sharing. So, Tracey, you "Cute-Jr's.-Top-Wearin'-Stone-Fox" you, I dedicate this one to you!

How I Fell In Love With My Body

Four and a half years ago, I fell in love with my thighs. A bit later, I became smitten with my belly button. It had been a long time coming, nearly 30 years, and it happened in an instant. The first ten years of my life I was too busy running and playing to even notice my body. But from about age 10 on, it seemed that I was waging a continuous battle with "baby fat", "the freshman 10", post-marriage "happy pounds", and almost back where it started, post-partum "baby fat".

It’s sad to think of how many years I spent obsessing about parts of my body that I didn't like because they had a little extra jiggle. Especially when you consider that I'm married to a man who clearly loves all my parts, and considers my jiggle to be well placed and a huge turn-on. What a waste of my mental resources to feel anything less than fabulous. But like a lot of women, I spent years of my life somewhat uncomfortable in my own skin.

We moved from Seattle to Hollywood in 1997. We have since moved back to the northwest, but this time in my life was a daily struggle with body image. Because I realized I could no longer hide under my big sweaters. I also realized that it didn't make the world a better place if a) I hated all the toned and perfect women I saw EVERYWHERE, or b) hated myself because I didn't look like them. So I set about to come to terms. And I did. I worked hard at achieving a sort of d├ętente with my body. I valiantly struggled to just not care. Mind you, I still would attempt to look stylish, or at least clean. I even came to see those "perfect" women as just people who have their own struggles and frustrations and heartbreaks. Some of those gorgeous women became good friends of mine. And yet... and yet.... I still had a hard time just being in my body, being thankful for all that it can do, and truly loving all those imperfections that make me who I am. The closest I came was when I was pregnant with my son - I felt as much like a goddess as a nice Lutheran girl can get. But eventually he had to join us here in the world, and I was left with my same old body, with not so much a muffin top as a loaf of half-baked bread with not enough yeast. “Saggy” and “flabby” would have been an improvement for what I had. The blessing was I was mostly too tired to care how I looked, but every once in a while I'd catch my reflection in a store window and get preemptively tired from the pep talk I knew I had to give myself.
I knew it was something as simple as changing my mind. And I also knew in my heart as well as my head that being a certain size wouldn't bring me peace. What I didn’t know was that it would be like falling in love. I wouldn’t see it coming.

My epiphany came when I was least expecting it. I was lost in a creative pursuit, painting a bookcase for my son. He was eighteen months old then, and he could already read his one-word-per-page book called "Baby Faces" (or at least that's what my husband and I chose to believe). He opened the pages, pointed to the baby face and said the word that was on the corresponding page. Basically, he was just plain brilliant, and his love of books was to be encouraged in any way possible. So we bought him all kinds of books, and soon his room was an obstacle course of “Goodnight Moon”, “Shapes and Colors” and “Particle Physics for Babies”. Before I broke an ankle rushing to him in the middle of the night, I thought I ought to bring some order to the chaos. So I set out to paint an old bookcase that was left in our garage by the previous owner of our home.

I was wearing my painting shorts, no make-up, and a ratty old T-shirt. I was a walking talking “Fashion Don’t”. I had come upstairs from our garage to get a drink of water, when my son walked up behind me, wrapped his yummy, dimpled arms around my knees, reached up on his tip-toes and kissed the back of my thighs. It took me so by surprise. Not just the kiss, but my reaction to it. I stooped down to his level (after carefully extricating my legs from his incredibly strong grip), and kissed him back. We spent a few minutes playing with blocks in his room, and as I stood up, I caught a glimpse of myself in his mirror. I still looked the same, but I was transformed.

About a week later, my belly button caught his attention. Joe-Henry was in his high chair, and I was bringing him his dinner. I was doing my best Martha Graham interpretive dance while carrying a plate of fish sticks to his high chair, and my shirt inadvertently rose above my belly to expose my navel. Remember, at this point we lived in Los Angeles, where baring the belly button is “de rigeur”, but only if there is no visible sign of an actual belly. But my son, upon seeing my navel, his former physical link to me, began to point wildly at it, smiling maniacally and reaching out for me to come closer. So I did, at first unsure of what he was pointing at. But when I got within reach, he lifted my shirt, triumphantly proclaiming "Bum-Buh!" (His word for belly button) and stuck his finger, covered in food, into my navel, then he leaned over and kissed it. I was so moved I couldn't speak. All I could do was gently touch his sweet curls, and kiss the top of his beautiful noggin.

I haven’t taken to wearing belly bearing shirts or anything outrageously un-Lutheran like that, but I don’t stop him when he lifts my shirt to lay his cheek on my doughy belly. He’s six now, and he still loves my body in that way a child does. It’s not as familiar to him as it once was, because each day he ventures further from it, out into the world, inhabiting his own unique, beautiful body more fully each day. We model our behavior for each other – his self confidence is breathtaking, and I no longer make self-critical comments to myself when I look in the mirror.
This body has gotten me around all my 40 years, has helped me climb big hills, ride bikes, walk, run, reach, stretch, dance, have mind-blowing sex, carry my son (inside and out) all without much more than a pulled muscle. It’s older than it used to be, with a few more aches and pains, but I can still turn heads. My husband’s, my son’s and most importantly, my own.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

out of the mouths of babes

I was talking to my sister-in-law tonight about a million different things, but one of the topics of conversation was about their Aunt, who is in a nursing home. She got really ill last year with cancer, and then a stroke. She's truly withered away - she used to be this tall, stately blonde, and she weighs about 90 lbs and has shrunk to about 5'4''. She no longer remembers people, with the exception of her brother (my father-in-law).

Joe-Henry overheard my end of the conversation and after I'd hung up, asked me lots of questions. He asked if she was going to die, and I said that yes, probably soon. He asked why she didn't remember anything, and I said that her body was working really hard to keep her alive, so she didn't have the strength to remember some things anymore.

"Do you mean it's like a bus came along, a big bus of feelings and took all her rememberings away?"

Yes. It's exactly like that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

with a song (or twenty) in his heart

When I was little, I remember how cool it was when we got our stereo in the living room. Up until then, music had crackled intermittently from the giant radio console in the dining room, but only after making this horrible shrieking sound like it was calling the mother ship, for say, twenty minutes. I remember my mother listening to "Red Roses for a Blue Lady", and whenever I hear that song (on an elevator? or haven't you heard Ludacris' version?), I feel her loneliness. I'm not sure when the stereo arrived, but it wasn't long after that. It was followed by "Record Albums". The ones that were upstairs I could look at but not touch. They belonged to the whole family and I loved listening to Glen Campbell singing "Gentle On My Mind" and "By the Time I Get To Phoenix", and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing "A Taste of Honey" (although the cover for that one made its way downstairs where my brothers had their bedrooms. Hmmmmmmm - I wonder why?!)

All the records that were downstairs in my brothers' rooms were strictly off limits.....when they were around to keep my mitts off them. Otherwise, I'd be down there, playing "Gonna Take A Miracle" by Laura Nyro until I think I wore the needle out. Isn't that quaint? A needle.... Ahhhhh, those were the days. What's that, I can't hear you. Just let me get my earhorn...

Anyway, the reason I started this post, is that recently we were dredging up some musical memories of our own. We have about a million and two cd's, but our cd player is going the way of our old stereo. My husband works for Apple, so we have more than a couple iPods in our house. But the thing is, a lot of our old music, the music we listened to when we were "courting" (a.k.a. "hooking up" for all you whippersnappers out there) is on those cd's, and Charley decided it was time to dust some off and put it on our iPods. The first artist he put on is the one that's been on rotation for the last week, because Joe-Henry can't get enough. You haven't lived until you've heard him sing Richard Thompson's "Don't Sit On My Jimmy Shand" or "Can't Win". He's connected to this music like he was when he saw "Stop Making Sense" at two and a half and toddled around the house in my white sneakers singing "Psycho Killer". He Can't. Stop. Singing.

It all takes me back, but then delivers me smack dab in the present. It's the strangest feeling to hear our song, my husband's and mine, sung by our six year old. ("1952 Vincent Black Lightening", in case you were wondering) But what I really think about when I hear it, is how it will shape his memories when he's older. "Read About Love" isn't the same as "Leavin' On a Jetplane". Will it warp his romantic sensibilities? Or will he think it's as quaint as, I don't know, a cd player?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

white dress shoes

My niece is getting married in a couple weeks. I had a shower for her here last Saturday (thus the scarcity of new material from me - I was braindead from cleaning and whacked out on the fumes from my hot glue gun). I think the bride had a good time, and it was appropriately awkward, since I only knew three people in the room, the rest were related to the groom. But everyone was nice, and it kicked off the start of the avalanch of wedding events that are sure to overtake everyone and everything in the next little while, rolling us up in giant balls of tulle and little candy mints.

I am very happy for my niece. She's marrying a good man (even though I suspect he MAY be a Republican), and they are truly a great match. And Joe-Henry gets to be the ring bearer. He'll wear a white tuxedo. All I could think of when she told me about it was that guy in "Mystery Date". Do you remember that game? (Are you anywhere near as old as I am? Probably not, but humor me....) I always thought that guy was soooo boring. I wanted to go out with the scruffy guy instead. He looked like a lot more fun. But when I took Joe-Henry for the fitting today, I got it. He looked sooooo handsome, dare I say dreamy, in the jacket that they use for fitting. I ask you: how I will keep from crying buckets of tears at the sight of my niece in her bridal gown, my brother in his tux and my son, in his own little mini-man tux? The answer is: I won't. I plan on taking an extra large hankie. I mean, I cry at weddings where I don't even know the people, so there is really no hope of me getting out of this thing without ruining my make-up.

We're having a problem finding shoes, though (of course). The one's that come with the tux don't even come close, and I may have to make a special trip to Stride-Rite. We've never owned a pair of dress shoes for him, and I really, really hope we can find some. If all else fails, I might be able to find white sneakers, but I don't think he'd go for that. He wants to wear fancy shoes. And I'm going to do everything I can to find them. A boy doesn't wear a tux every day, he ought to feel as fabulous as possible.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Now THIS is crafty...

Thank you to my friend D. who singled a few of her crafty friends out on her blog this week. I am humbled to be in such company.

But when I ran across this on the ding-dang world wide web, I realized there's crafty, then there's CRAFTY.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

sweet cheeks

Since Joe-Henry was a baby, he's had a thing for my cheeks. When he was tiny, he'd reach up and touch them while looking soulfully into my eyes, melting me into a puddle of mommygoo. When he was a toddler, giving up his bottle, he'd have to touch them to go to sleep. When he got a bit older, and was feeling insecure or frightened, my cheeks took a beating, grabbing them as he did and pinching and squeezing them like he was a fat old aunty. This is also when he took to giving me "ompoo kisses". I'm not sure how he came up with the name other than he'd open his mouth wide, plant it on one of my cheeks, and try to give it cpr while saying (with his mouth full of my cheek) "OMPOO". Each cheek had to get an ompoo kiss, or the ritual wasn't complete. Who knows what fresh hell might be unleashed if both cheeks weren't covered with slobber? They used to kind of annoy me, because, you know, they ruined my very put together look (Hair was partially dried, if it had been washed at all, and there were only two stains on my shirt, and I had undereye concealer to cover my eye bags. Stylin'!)

I still get those kisses, though not with the frequency that I used to.
And guess what.
I miss them.
You saw that coming, didn't you.

But they are not gone altogether, and I cherish them when I get them. I may even wait 5 seconds before wiping my cheeks with my sleeve. Then sniff my sleeve to smell and try to guess what he had for snack at kindergarten.

Last night, after gracing me with an ompoo kiss on each cheek, he fell asleep with his hand laying just under my eye. I couldn't stop staring at him, with his long lashes resting on his own ripe, soft, utterly edible perfect pink morsels of cheeky goodness. The weight of his hand on my cheek was heavy and warm, and I realized it won't be long now. I'll get a quick peck, if at all. I won't be the center of his universe, I'll be a distant planet. Misunderstood, maligned, and small. Like Pluto. Look what happened to Pluto.

But I will still be in his orbit. I'll still hover on the outskirts.
With my cheek in my own hand, and a head full of sweet memories.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Let's have a conversation

Friends - here's an article I ran across on Yahoo. It's about the Governor of Texas signing a bill to mandate into law vaccinating sixth grade girls against the human papillomavirus, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer. One in four women aged 14-59 have this virus. This mandate has been voted down in the House, and faces a similar fate in the Senate.

I can't imagine, as a mother, that I wouldn't want my daughter to be protected from this virus, and quite possibly cervical cancer. I am also relatively certain that no matter what you say to teenagers regarding chastity and modesty, their bodies are screaming quite a bit louder than we as parents ever can. (I know, because I can actually remember that far back, through the mists of time.) At the same time, however, I respect that this is a controversial issue, in that the government is trying to mandate a vaccine that can only be caught through sexual intercourse. This is truly offensive to some, but is it realistic to think we can control our teenagers bodies? Through hindsight, I can say that any sex I may have had in my teens (and most of my twenties as well) was not even close to being fulfilling or even good, you couldn't have stopped me with a flamethrower and a pitchfork, and I wish the vaccine had been around then.

Where do you stand on the issue?

UPDATE: Check out the great conversation (I'm coming to this issue later than some of my Texas friends!) on Morethanaminivanmom's site. She sent me a link (in my comments), and it's a great read.

if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention

Damn, this makes me mad.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Curse You, Daylight Savings Time!

This is said with a clenched fist, shaking at the sky. And while I am growing quite an impressive mustache, I can't twirl it in a dastardly manner just yet. But you get the picture.

That one hour has us so discombobulated. We missed Joe-Henry's piano lesson, because, get this - he took a NAP yesterday. This is a kid who hasn't taken a nap since he discovered there were no more bars on his bed. And what's more, I, mommy, the human alarm clock fell asleep as well, because he was up til all hours the night before, tossing and turning, because I don't know if I've mentioned this before, EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE SNORES. Except me, of course, because I'm dainty. My husband, of course, Joe-Henry, and our cat Lulu, a.k.a. Darth Vader. They all saw logs.

So, anyway, last night, because he took a NAP, he couldn't go to sleep. I thought he'd finally drifted off at 9:30, and I snuck out to watch the last half hour of "24", followed by the first half hour on tivo, when he called me. "Mom. I'm waiting for you!" He'd been awake the whole time! So I turned out all the lights, resigned myself to the fact that I was indeed, in a bed of my own making, because I can't resist his pleas to snuggle, and lay down with him. Then, just as I was heading into this fabulous wet dream about a clean house, he had to go to the bathroom. So I get up with him, because he's scared of the dark, and as I stand there in the bathroom with him, I develop a horribly loud case of the hiccups. This sends him into paroxysms of laughter (and I confess: I was having a giggle fit myself, but mine was far more maniacal), then finally, FINALLY, we begin to settle down and head to slumberland. Until his dad, down the hall, the man I love, my soul mate with AWESOME legs, begins to snore. It sounds like an angry bear with a chainsaw. Attacking a gaggle of geese. I get up to shut the door, and finally, finally, we drift off. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 11:00 p.m.

He was tired this morning, and I know he'll be impossible this afternoon, but I tell you what. There is NO WAY he is taking a nap.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I heard this conversation Joe-Henry had with his dad this morning:

Joe-Henry: "Haley and her friend found a dead possum in her yard"
Charley: "Maybe it wasn't dead. They protect themselves from predators by playing dead. It's called 'playing possum'."
Joe-Henry: "What's a predator?"
Charley: "An animal or bird that hunts. Like a hawk."
Joe-Henry: "Or maybe a vulture!"
Charley: "Well, maybe. But they don't have any vultures here in Vancouver."
Joe-Henry: "They don't have them in Minneapolis, either" A pause, and then:

"But they have A LOT of them in Washington, D.C."

I tell ya, the kid is wise.

Friday, March 9, 2007

A Convergence of Cool Things in Texas

To all my blogger pals in Texas, my old pal D., the brilliant blogger from Chicago, is in Austin this weekend with her hubby. They're there for the Maya Meetings, because she's got a major thing for ancient cultures. But she's also been writing that the meetings seem to regularly coincide with the sxsw Festival. Check out the great things she has to say about Austin here.

Ya know, the sxsw festival is just the kind of thing I could totally trick, I mean "persuade" my husband to going to, since we could invade the home of our oldest and dearest friends who just moved there, and it seems to be loaded with guitar porn, and we could even set Joe-Henry up on a street corner with his little guitar and amp and open the case to pay for the whole dang trip!

I smell a fantasy dinner party.

Next year, ladies. I'm on it.

Costco madness and shopping for shoes from Good Will

I just got back from Costco, and I was in a pissy mood because a) Costco makes me bat-shit crazy with the slow people who park their carts right at the beginning of the aisle so they can sample the tasty morsels or hold bookclub discussions over "The Secret" in the book section. Here's a "secret" for ya - get your head out of your ass and move your cart because you're blocking this aisle, b) we were parked right next to a car that had bumper stickers that said "Marriage = One Man and One Woman" as well as "Protect Teen Girls" (clearly SOMEONE isn't getting any and doesn't want anyone else to have any fun either), and c) I'm a perimenopausal woman with pms. Not that you could tell or anything. So I thought to combat all this negativity I was feeling I could write about a really wonderful, nice thing that happened the other day when Joe-Henry and I were shoe shopping.

I've mentioned before that Joe-Henry was born with a pretty rare syndrome called Klippel-Trenaunay. We are fall-on-our-knees grateful that his particular involvement is so far, very minor. But one of the slightly annoying things about it (and believe me, I'll take annoying over painful and life-threatening anyday) is that it's really hard to find shoes that fit. But aside from a few thoughtless shoe salespeople, most everyone who has helped us has gone out of their way to find something to fit Joe-Henry's sweet, meaty feet. There was Jack at Harry Harris Shoes for kids in LA. Jack reminded me of the character William H. Macy played in Door to Door. Jack had kind of a lateral lisp, bad eyesight, and the sunniest disposition on the planet. He would always, always find shoes that Joe-Henry was proud to wear, and would even call us when they got a new shipment. Plus they gave out balloons that lasted longer than the shoes. Jack almost cried when I told him we were moving to another state. He and Joe-Henry were buddies, and I think that finding the right fit for Joe-Henry might have been right up there with the best part of his job. There was the lovely woman at Nordstroms, who gave us a call when they got in a shipment of extra wides. And now there is my new sweetie Will at the Pioneer Place New Balance store. Will is young enough to be my son, I don't even know if he needs to shave yet, but he is just about the oldest soul around. He's helped us twice now, and he always finds something that fits well, and more importantly than that, he always makes Joe-Henry feel great.

Kindness. Goodness. Writing about it almost makes me feel more forgiving for the slow-boaters at Costco. But not the bumper-sticker people. They're had still better stay out of my way.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

what evil lurks... your local Trader Joe's. I speak, people, of these wickedly addictive morsels.

I think they might be laced with crack, because I can't stop eating them.

Don't say you weren't warned.

something sweet

Normally, I like to post things about my own child's brilliance, because I'm just living through him due to my own failed career and now he's having to play Natalie Wood to my Rosalind Russell, albeit without stripping his clothes off. At least most of the time.

Today, though, I got an email in my inbox from the wonderful Justin Roberts. If you haven't heard of him, you definitely should. He's an amazing musician. The fact that most of the music he makes is primarily for children is beside the point. I dare you to listen and not get hooked. I myself have confiscated Joe-Henry's copy of Meltdown and play it when I'm cleaning the house because it takes my mind off the fact that, well, I'm cleaning the house. Anyway, he recently had a contest called "you sing the songs", where eager parents record their adorable moppets singing Justin's songs. I say that without a trace of cynicism. This stuff is so damn cute, and makes me so happy, I had to share it with you all. Check this out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Do you remember the last time you said "I did it!"? In answer to something other than "who left the cap off the toothpaste?"

The reason I ask, is because I noticed something yesterday while Joe-Henry was flying his balsa wood airplane with his dad in the front yard. He had been struggling with it, throwing it too hard, but his dad was so great with him, praising him for everything he did right at each step along the way, until he did it. He finally got the hang of it, and started throwing it less like a rock and more like the delicate, decrepit dime-store toy that it is, and the plane would float gently, gracefully along, circling the whole front yard, like a tiny, mystical cropduster, spraying magic and twilight. It was beautiful to watch, the best kind of airshow (no feeling of impending disaster to nearby neighborhoods), and the pilot, the pilot was one big toothless grin. He glowed with happiness. His walk was so confident (it usually is anyway, but it had an extra bounce), and he was so clearly proud of his newfound skill.

This feeling carried on into the rest of his activities last night, too. When he practiced his piano lesson, he was so thrilled when he got the two note song right, he couldn't stop himself, he had to move right on to the next page, with it's more challenging THREE notes. He captured the flag there too, even singing the words to that tune, in his clear, strong, voice. I noticed though, that when he got it, when he figured out the rhythm and the fingering and made it through the song, he was so proud of himself before he even looked at us for approval. It was thrilling to witness.

So simple, really. Encouragement, praise, a pat on the back for a job well done. Just noticing. We forget the impact these things have on how we move through our days. It's so easy to bitch and moan about lousy service, bad traffic, not to mention the people we live with and their annoying habits. And usually we save the worst of it for ourselves. We beat ourselves up over mistakes made, rethinking our choices, mired in the what-if-I'd-done-that-differently? Okay, maybe I'm the only one who does that, but I'm going to challenge myself today.

Today, I will recognize myself. I will give myself a mental high-five for something I do well. And I'll carry it out with me, and notice the people around me, give a bit of that to someone who looks like they could use a pat on the back. I challenge you to do the same.

I don't think the world will change. The wars won't end, and there will still be famine and hate. I'll still be the only person in my house that knows how to load the dishwasher.

But it might be the tiniest step in the right direction.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Tag, I'm it

I was honored to recieve a tag from my new mom blogger pal, Tracey, over at morethanaminivanmom, on my top 5 reasons for blogging. I've been thinking long and hard, and like the game of movie tag I played recently, I'm hoping that it will motivate me well past my writing about it. So here goes:

1. I have great material. My son has been making me laugh on a daily basis since he pooped loudly into the microphone of our new videocamera at age 2 weeks. More than anything else in my life, parenting has formed me into a new person, and I find it to be the most inspiring, boring, crazy making, thought provoking, challenging, gut-bustingly funny gig around.

2. I like the feeling of community that I get with blogging. Not that there are a whole lot of people who read my blog, but there are lots of blogs that I like to read. We recently moved to a new state, and while we wait to make the kind of friends that only time will allow, I have found camaraderie here online. Before Joe-Henry was born, I was an actress, doing mostly stage work, and there is a wonderful community of artists whose company I truly enjoyed. After Joe-Henry was born, I found that community again with other moms, and it was so comforting the first time he pushed me to the limits of my patience to find that while it wasn't fun, it also wasn't the lonely experience it could have been. I wanted to rejoin the land of grown up women again, too, and blogging has helped me with that so much. Women bloggers, in particular, especially the nice, funny smart ones that I've met online, always chime in after a particularly stressful post, and while I don't feel "absolved", I do feel "resolved".

3. Per number 2, I am inspired by the things I read every day from each of you. Suttonhoo's blog detritus is always, always giving me great stuff to think about and ponder, and pretty pictures to look at to boot. I live for my Mondays, when I read Catherine Newman at Wondertime, and I love checking in daily with my blogger pals morethanaminivanmom and Franklin5. I think of blogging as my way of contributing to the conversation of these incredibly bright, thoughtful, witty women.

4. It's a break from the monotany of housework, although I have stopped using it as an excuse to not get anything done, and think of it as my coffee break. My time where I can check in with my brain and my heart, and stop obsessing over that fact that I am the only one in our house that knows how to load and unload the dishwasher. It gives me perspective and a sense of value.

5. I like to write. Who knew? My husband has always been an incredibly gifted writer, and I felt sort of intimidated at the thought of putting it all out there. I feel challenged to do better each day, to find a different way to say something, to do something for someone reading that might take them out of (or into) their experience a bit. It's a creative outlet, and I find I'm a lot more fun to be around if I've had some of that kind of time for myself each day.

So those are my reasons. I'd tag someone, but the only people who chime in regularly here have already been tagged recently, so I'll leave it to you - if you read this, and the question inspires you to answer, have at it!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Tooth Fairy to Strike?

In a rare move, workers for the Tooth Fairy, Local IBSWW (International Brotherhood of Shiny-Winged Workers) are considering a strike. "We've been working overtime, especially our workers in the Northwest" said one worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "First there was this kid Joe-Henry, lost a tooth last night, we made the delivery, then BAM, he loses another one this morning! Plus, this kid has a friend, lives in Seattle, and this little girl lost HER tooth last night too. And these are FRONT teeth we're talkin' about. Do you know how much heavier those are? I'm tellin' ya, I think they're just trying to break the bank! Plus, we're runnin' low on Fairy Dust."

A spokesperson for Joe-Henry and his friend Hazel, identified only as Mom, said this: "These claims are ridiculous. Kids lose their teeth. That's what they do. They can't help it if it all happens at the same time. While we understand the stress that the demand for Fairies in recent nights has placed on the Northwest Chapter, we hope they will reconsider. Children rely on them. They supply a great service - magic and wonder, and there is precious little of that in this world we live in. We hope they will at least meet us halfway."

We'll be monitoring the situation, and keep you posted.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I'm just born that way

Last night at the dinner table:
Joe-Henry:"Dad, be careful, because if you eat this carrot, you might lose that tooth in the front that has a crack in it"
Charley:"I wish I could!"
Joe-Henry:"NO, Daddy! You were just born that way, like I was just born with my big finger, and Lulu was just born wheezy and poopy."
Anne: "What was I born with?"
Joe-Henry, not skipping a beat: "You were born with a bossy attitude, Mom."

I asked.