Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Not Sophie's Choice, but...

... it still sucks.

When I was Joe-Henry's age, I contracted Scarlet Fever.  I was horribly sick for nearly three weeks.  Because my mom had passed away two years before, there was no one to stay home and take care of me.  My dad had just gotten a new job after the plant he worked for selling meat was closed so that the Army Corp of Engineers could change the shape of the Snake River,  forcing businesses and homes to move to higher ground.  Or close.  It was during a terrible economic crisis (remember the early 70's?!), and he needed to keep his job, so he couldn't stay home with a sick kid.  A neighbor brought me lunch everyday, but didn't stay long because she had two kids of her own, and didn't want to catch it.  I don't remember the worst of it, just the last week - the loneliness, the jigsaw puzzle I finally finished and really, really missing my mom.

But I did it.  I managed to get through it.  I was a tough kid.

This year, due to the horrible economy and District Wide Budget Cuts, they have decided that when a parapro like myself gets sick (or their child gets sick), unless there are two other parapro's out, we cannot call for a sub.

I get that the District needs to save money.  And I get that this is a move that is saving jobs.  I do.  It's still a horrible idea though.  The kids I work with have some pretty significant behaviors (hitting, kicking, etc.), and in a room that can, on a normal day, seem like there isn't enough staff to go around, having a person out is, to put it mildly, stressful.

Yesterday, JH had a procedure done on his big toe.  He'd had an infected ingrown nail since JUNE.  We have been trying everything to get it healed, including two round of antibiotics, and it didn't work.  So yesterday we had an appointment, and I thought it was just a first visit, that they'd decide what to do and we'd go back if anything needed to be done.  But that's not how it went down.  They gave him four horribly painful shots to numb the toe, then took out both sides of the nail.  He did amazing.  He cried when he got the shots, but tried soooo hard to be tough.  After the procedure he did great.

Until the numb wore off, and then last night, he cried for three hours.  I gave him tylenol at first, then ibuprofen, and he finally went to sleep around eleven.  This morning, he woke up sick to his stomach.
So I called in sick, but I'm going in later, now that we're getting the stomach upset under control.  But I'm feeling stressed and guilty and horrible and ANGRY for having to choose.

A voice in my head told me to calm down.  I'd been through this as a kid.  I didn't have a mom to get me through  it - he'll be fine.  It's just an afternoon.

Here's the thing though.  He DOES have a mom.  And he will remember that I made this choice.

EDIT 12/14/10, 1:00:

I went to school for about an hour and a half.  Then, there was a severe weather warning, that quickly turned into a TORNADO WARNING.  This was not anywhere on the list of things I would need to worry about if I left him home alone.  Needless to say, I came home right away.  The weather fizzled, and I felt silly for coming home, for about a minute.  Then I realized I did the right thing, forgave myself and ate a bite of chocolate.  All is right with the world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Sickness and In Health

It's been a very trying emotional time for some dear friends of mine.  Illness, divorce, financial woes.... it's an ugly list, and my heart feels so heavy as I think of these dear ones.  Then today, when I heard of Elizabeth Edwards' passing, as two dear friends put loved ones in the hospital tonight, I was just overcome.

There was no weeping, but anger.  And oddly, gratitude.

One of my friends is sitting by the bedside of her very ill partner.  She is devoted, and caring, and loyal.  Like my dear friend Annie and her partner Anita, this friend is showing the rest of us how to do it right, and that there are those that think they are less worthy than my husband and I to check the "spouse" box on the hospital form? It makes my blood boil.  I don't get it.

I just. don't. get it.

Because clearly, that legally binding piece of paper you sign after the ceremony and the party you pay for for the first ten years of your marriage (if it lasts that long) doesn't guarantee squat.  Sadly.  I mean that.  When a marriage is dissolved, for whatever reason, the ripple effect it has on the family, on the community that supports that family, causes stress and tension and heartache for anyone who cares about the individuals at the center of it.   Still, it's worth the risk when you love someone.  Because it's about hope and the belief in each other, in our promises to be the kind of people we want to be.  Together.  And that some are denied the right to have a crack at it, as faulty an institution as it is, seems petty and archaic.

And as pissed as I can get about it, there is not anything, outside of voting, that I can do about it.

Except this:  make it worth it.  Be kind to my husband.  Be grateful for him - not just for his humor, intelligence, generosity and kindness, but for his faults as well.  I meant it then, and now that we are getting to an age where it really means something, when we are no longer dewy young things, it means even more.  I do not take his love lightly, I do not take his presence in my life for granted.  

I am grateful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reasons why...

There are a few reasons I haven't blogged:  limited time is one, reconsidering my son's privacy is another.  He's getting to an age (TEN if his birth certificate is to be believed) where my writing about his antics, or my reaction to them needs more consideration.  A need for more, well, not privacy necessarily, just keeping my cards, my life, closer to my chest.

The main reason, though, I think is that this sense of time speeding past, like a bullet train, has me straining and squinting to trick myself into seeing it in slow motion.  Or at least slower motion.  Writing doesn't slow it down any, I need to watch closely, enjoy the view.














I ran across this poem today that sort of sums it up nicely:

The Size Of Spokane
The baby isn't cute.  In fact he's
a homely little pale and headlong
stumbler.  Still, he's one
of us _ the human beings
stuck on flight 295 (Chicago to Spokane);
and when he passes my seat twice
at full tilt this then that direction,
I look down from Lethal Weapon 3 to see
just why.  He's

running back andforth
across a sunblazed circle on
the carpet - something brilliant, fallen
from a porthole.  So! it's light
amazing him, it's only light, despite
some three and one
half hundred
people, propped in rows
for him to wonder at/ it's light
he can't get over, light he can't
investigate enough, however many
zones he runs across it,
flickering himself.

The umpteenth time
I see him coming, I've had
just about enough; but then
he notices me noticing and stops -
one fat hand on my armrest - to
inspect the oddities of me.

Some people cannot hear.
Some people cannot walk.
But everyone was
sunstruck once,and set adrift.
Have we forgotten how
astonishing this is? so practiced all our senses
we cannot imagine them? foreseen instead of seeing
all the all there is?  Each spectral port,
each human eye

is shot through with a hole, and everything we know
goes in there, where it feeds a blaze.  In a flash

the baby's old; Mel Gibson's hundredth comeback seems
less clever; all his chases and embraces
narrow down, while we
fly on (in our
plain radiance of vehicle)

toward what cannot stay small forever.

Heather McHugh


I'll be around once in a while.  You just might have to knock a little louder for me to hear you.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Growing Pains

When JH was little, he had nightmares about "the bad ladies". They were dressed in black, you couldn't see their faces, and they didn't talk. They came for him silently, and when he was awake, he was always afraid to go certain places, because in his dreams, this was where he'd see the bad ladies.

He sort of laughs about them now, although I know that while it might not be the bad ladies that make him scared to go downstairs in his own house, they started it. His deepest fears. The fears of the unknown, of change. And I've always felt in some mother's intuition way that the bad ladies have something to do with me. This is never anything he's said, but I fear the bad ladies too, and have told him a million times that I would move entire buildings to save him from them. We haven't heard from them in quite a while, but I know they aren't gone completely.

We had a very lazy day here yesterday. Charley's back went out at work the day before, so he's been taking some heavy duty motrin that puts him out like a light. Normally, we'd be out and about, but I think just the stuff emanating from his sleeping form made JH and I really sleepy too, and we didn't fight it.

He took a bath before bedtime, and was taking FOREVER to get out, so I jokingly told him if he didn't get out I was going to get a tattoo. Looking at me, so seriously, said "No you won't." He once told me that he was so grateful that I didn't have any tattoos, and I don't smoke, and I don't pick him up at the bus stop in my pj's and slippers, smoking a cigarette.

"I think maybe a BIG tattoo, of a flower with your name in the middle! Right here on my arm!"

"No you wouldn't! You're not serious..."

"Well, stay there in the tub and you can find out!"

He doesn't move, just looks at me with a strange smile on his face.

"Well, I guess I better go get my cigarettes!". This is the biggest joke of all, so I figure he's on to me for sure...

He burst into redfaced wailing tears, then choking sobs, while I tried to undo the damage. I was CLEARLY joking. I had been laughing when I said it, and we joke about this stuff all the time.

After I had him calm, and wrapped in a towel, his giant, heavy, gangly wet self on my lap, I asked him if he knew I was joking. He said yes, he did, but "I was afraid you wouldn't be you. And I love YOU".

I know just how he feels.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lullabies on repeat

Music has always been important to Joe-Henry. When he was a baby, he'd scream and cry on our two hour drive from Grandma's to home because a) we were leaving Disneyland and headed for the bootcamp that was home, or b) the sun was in his eyes and I'd sing "You are my sunshine" over and over the entire ride because the cd player wasn't working and it was the only song I could remember while being screamed at.

It must have been then that putting songs on repeat became the thing that calmed him, because ever since he's wanted to listen to music at night. Not a whole album - that's too distracting,he wants to listen to the same song, over and over. Nothing new to make him stay awake and think, just the same lyrics and melody, like ocean waves, lulling him to his dreams.

Lately he'll grab my old iphone and put a song on repeat. Usually it's a calm, soothing song, something from Alexi Murdoch, say, or Shawn Colvin. But last night, he chose this song. And I found myself staying in his room after he'd gone to sleep, remembering my freshman year in college.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Busy Little Bee

It's been a fantastic, crazy, itchy, eventful summer here. I'm taking lots of family pictures (for us, of course, but also for other families), and I had so much fun taking these the other day. This is Joe-Henry's third (and FOURTH!!!) grade teacher and her amazing, beautiful family.

Enjoy! video

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Summer So Far (in pictures)

There's been the sibling road trip for our wonderful Aunt Ruth's funeral...


I love how it looks like I have devil horns in this picture.

And the graduation party for my amazing nephew who just graduated from COLLEGE.....
(I held him when he was minutes old. Just a few days ago, it seems)




There's been a few sunny days where we were lucky enough to be invited to a friends' house to swim...
(the pic with the chubby ankles? Cest moi)






We got to have friends over last week Monday through Thursday to play while their mom helped out at a camp. It was so much fun! (love the pic of her little pinky out while eating. It's not often we have little girls in our house!)





And last but not least, there's been tattoos. Lots of them. The rub on kind. The boy loves how fierce they make him look.





And I love that no matter how grown up he gets, when I look through my mama eyes, I still see my little boy.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Family Gathering


Family Gathering
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
Heading out of town this weekend to say goodbye to my Aunt Ruth. It will be a quick trip, and I'm sure there will be tears. But the legacy of a life well lived is seen in the smiles of family, happy to be together, even for the saddest occasions.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Courageous

This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. On Tuesday I took the boy to the doctor because he was having a lot of pain in his left leg. I had taken him in the week before due to a sinus condition and cough, but now I'm worried that somehow it's all tied together.

Mind you, I'm operating on less sleep than I'm used to having - I have been waking with JH in the middle of the night, helping him through bouts of coughing, administering medicine, reading poetry aloud to help ease him back to sleep, and then laying there wide awake trying to untie the worry knot in my brain.

Monday afternoon I got a note from his teacher saying that he was getting a leadership award, and that's when he also mentioned that his left leg was hurting. So Tuesday, after I managed to get out of work for an hour for the awards assembly, I brought him home, went back to work, and took him to the doctor when I got off work. They did an ultrasound on his leg, did blood tests, which he was very, very brave about. He was SO scared to have the blood test. His eyes welled up when they told him, and he was embarrassed. When the ultrasound tech had finished (after an hour and half, due to the fact that he has more than the normal amount of veins in his leg (something he thought was pretty cool!), she left the room to find the radiologist. The whole building was quiet - it was after hours by then - Joe-Henry told me he was ashamed that he cried and wasn't brave.

I told him that courage had nothing to do with tears. The bravest, strongest people cry. Tears are cleansing, healing things, and that there is nothing shameful about them. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean not feeling things. It means facing things through tears sometimes.

I had to leave work early today to pick him up at school again. His leg is hurting, a bit higher today, which scares me. We see the doctor at 1:30 and the ultrasound tech at 3:00.

I am doing my best to keep MY brave face on. To be his support and to keep my emotions in check. But if the tears flow, I'll try to remember the words I spoke to the bravest kid I know.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Verklempt


Who would have guessed, ten years ago when I had a bebeh in mah belleh, that I would be a proud, benchsittin' loudyellin' baseball mom?! So much of this parenting journey has been a surprise. The dreams you have for your children before they are born are YOUR dreams. But when THEIR dreams come into sight, and they can work toward what THEIR passion is, there is not one thing in life like it.

Oh sure, you can guide them toward things, model behavior you want to see from them, expose them to things you think will make them the kind of people the world needs. But when they hit a certain age, and you need to start loosening your grip, finger by finger, if you're lucky you get to see who THEY are. It's a nailbiter at times, you watch them interact on the playground when they're little and wonder just how the hell they are going to get through this unscathed.

Watching Joe-Henry run when he was little, watching him chase his friends from far afield, trying with all his might to catch up, hearing him recount the gym classes when he came in "last, again", those are moments I have been bracing myself for since his birth. Knowing they were coming did nothing to stop the lump in my throat. It just helped me to hide it from him a little bit.

We've been pretty honest with him about his kt. There is so much we DON'T know. We've been good about not making false promises, or giving false hope, but we haven't ever said "you can't do this".

And he hasn't either.

Yesterday after the last game of spring baseball, when all the parents had packed up the kids and the trophies and JH and his Dad were headed to the car, his coach took me aside. I had thanked him for all his dedication to the kids, to helping them really learn, really try their best. He didn't sugarcoat anything for the kids, he got on them, with humor, when they messed up, and the kids all responded with their best efforts. The last game was a hoot, and the kids all made some pretty impressive plays. Anyway, he wanted to know about Joe-Henry's leg. He had heard me ask if it was tired earlier. I told him a bit about Joe-Henry's kt, that it was vascular, and his leg tired easily, and he had a hard time running and standing sometimes, and he just looked at me and took it all in. He said "Joe-Henry is one of the best players I had on this team. He has so much heart and desire, he always gets in front of the ball, he always know where it's supposed to go. I wish I had ten of him. Heart, desire and intelligence can go a long way towards making dreams come true.

I'll never forget those words.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Parent Trap

Joe-Henry is playing with a friend. They are playing baseball, like they do every time. This friend, who is three years older, is goading Joe-Henry, quietly, like he always does, because he loves it when Joe-Henry screams and yells and I tell him to stop.

It's going to get ugly, because my boy is tired, and has had some candy at the movies. He's bored. And this kid knows EXACTLY which buttons to push.

I am mowing the lawn. The mower stops and I hear Joe-Henry yelling to me from inside the house, "Mom, V just tried to hurt me!". I had seen the boy heading next door moments before, so I head in to check on Joe-Henry. He's crying and yelling at me to go next door and take care of things.

Calm down, I say, tell me what happened. He's yelling, I DID tell you, he tried to hurt me, he said "Oh, you want to get me? I'm not afraid of you!", and he pushed me down and hit me on the head with the ball.

Why, I ask, did he say "you want to get me?", because, he says I accidently threw the batting helmet and it almost hit him. But it was AN ACCIDENT, he screams, knowing he just told me the important part of the story that I need to know.

I know full well the scope and range of my son's anger, and this, I say is where the tantrums stop. He is nine and a half years old. It's time to find a new, better way to deal with being really, really mad.

I told him that I wasn't going next door, that tomorrow HE could talk to his friend. If he wanted, I could talk to him if he comes over again and tell him they can play something other than baseball, and be nice or go home. But this issue was his to resolve, and he'd better wait a day to do it, so that he's calm. He cried and yelled and told me I wasn't doing my job as his mom.

But I am, see? And that's the part that sucks.

What I don't tell him is this: As much as I want to go next door and tell the little shit to stop baiting Joe-Henry until he explodes because he thinks it's funny, and stop coming over here just because you're bored and want to play with my son's stuff, and just because you're big brother picks on you, you don't get to come over here and pass that crap down the line, stay away, you little weasel and quit picking on my son, I don't do that.

I took the Wii away for a day, because he was screaming at me. Someday he'll know that I'm not betraying him, or taking someone else's side, I'm just being HIS mom. Because that IS my job.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simple Gifts

Sunday morning. Music, NY Times, good coffee.

My camera, the garden the rain.

But mostly this. I'm just so grateful for this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Song In My Head

This song, which has never been a huge favorite of mine before, has been rambling around in my head the last few days. Maybe it's my new passion for Walt Whitman. Or my past in the performing arts. or that I heart Glee. Or my brain is melting and I can only remember the seventies and eighties, because I keep misplacing my glasses and can't remember where I put that one thing.... whatever it is, now I just can't get enough of this song. I find myself humming it, and going back and digging those great a cappella moment where there are seemingly a hundred harmonies.

I hope you enjoy it. No matter why.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Walt Whitman - Laws for Creations

I have never read Walt Whitman, but I'm going to change that. I have read bits and pieces. But sometimes I think we find what we need when we need it.

Found this today:

LAWS for Creations,
For strong artists and leaders—for fresh broods of teachers, and perfect literats for America,
For noble savans, and coming musicians.

All must have reference to the ensemble of the world, and the compact truth of the world;
And no coward or copyist shall be allowed;
There shall be no subject too pronounced—All works shall illustrate the divine law of indirections;
There they stand—I see them already, each poised and in its place,
Statements, models, censuses, poems, dictionaries, biographies, essays, theories—How complete! How relative and interfused! No one supersedes another;
They do not seem to me like the old specimens,
They seem to me like Nature at last, (America has given birth to them, and I have also;)
They seem to me at last as perfect as the animals, and as the rocks and weeds—fitted to them,
Fitted to the sky, to float with floating clouds—to rustle among the trees with rustling leaves,
To stretch with stretched and level waters, where ships silently sail in the distance.”

What do you suppose Creation is?
What do you suppose will satisfy the Soul, except to walk free, and own no superior?
What do you suppose I would intimate to you in a hundred ways, but that man or woman is as good as God?
And that there is no God any more divine than Yourself?
And that that is what the oldest and newest myths finally mean?
And that you or any one must approach Creations through such laws?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

They Totally Missed The Boat



Of course, it doesn't matter. I originally thought I'd search out the statistics of who buys Victoria's Secret, who are they marketing to? I couldn't find it within a couple Google pages, but I did run across this article from Business Week about their brand marketing manager. He manages to fill the article with lots of marketing talk, but I couldn't get past this one sentence: "I cannot imagine a better position coming out of business school. And let's be honest, working in an office filled with pictures of supermodels definitely has its benefits."

I'd be interested to know if he is a) married, and b) has daughters.

Here's the link to the article. I'd love to know what you think.

In the meantime, I will tell you my favorite part of watching these commercials is when my husband does the models voices. It's hysterical. I married the right man. He's sexy and funny and loves my body as much (and at times, more) than I do.

Dogwood


Dogwood
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
Every spring, we are amazed at the vibrant color and delicacy of our dogwood in the front yard. Our yard is small, but someone had the foresight to plant a pretty tree in front. We have a little octagonal window in our living room that fills with pink every year at this time.

I can't help it. Every year, I have to take a picture of it. Document it. Because when it blooms in all it's bright pink glory, it's such a gift. We endure months of grey skies and damp cold, and this is Nature's way of showing us that the skies will clear eventually and it's almost time to take off our sweaters.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Must Be The Place

Sixteen years ago, a couple in their early thirties pledged to love each other in front of a few dear, amazing friends and family in a modest back yard in Carpinteria, CA. The groom wore a seafoam green suit with a multi-colored tie, the bride wore an ivory silk tea dress that had layers that fluttered in the ocean breezes. The cake was late (and frozen), biplanes flew overhead during the groom's vows, drowning him out and causing the guests to laugh. The bride, a notorious sap, who cried at commercials (and still does on occasion) was uncharacteristically dry eyed, sober as she was, clear as she was that this was the biggest, most important decision she had ever made. To say yes to the complexity of marriage to this man. When the ceremony was over, they danced to this song.



And you're standing here beside me. I love the passage of time.

Happy Anniversary my Love.

If someone asks, this is where I'll be.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Let's "Hot Up" the Golden Rule...

Sex sells. Isn't this what they tell us? Sell us?

Well, I've decided that we need to sex up some basic rules for living in civilized society, things that just make sense but we never really think about. Also to catch the attention of the younger generation.

When you wait on me, and don't talk on your cell phone, my panties get damp.

Politeness is HOT. Giving up your seat or place in line to an elderly, infirm or pregnant person? You can eat whipcream off my chest. (or straight out of the can if that doesn't do it for you).

If you are driving in front of me, or are stopped at a light in a car facing mine, I will TONGUE KISS YOU if you use your turn signal.

Being on time, good service, doing your job without an attitude make me MOIST.

Hey waiter, slow down with those menu specials.... yeah, that's it, baby. make it last.

Paying taxes hurts? Ohhhhh, bend me over and hurt me again! Roads, schools, hospitals, police.....

If you are trying to get through the express lane with more than the allotted amount of items, I will give you a lap dance if you get the hell out of my way.

Hey there, bearded skateboarder, you'd look SO MUCH HOTTER in a helmet on the sidewalk than plastered to the front of my car!

These are just a few ideas.... please feel free to add your own, and let's get this party started!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Transformer



The rain beats the roof
announcing another wet day.
What's new?
I sit lotus in the big chair
making my lists
when my growing boy
in soft plaid pajamas
tiptoes out, eyes half-closed,
and folds himself
like an origami baby into my lap.
How is it possible?
Standing, I can rest my chin on his mop of
curly brown hair.
While I ponder the engineering marvel
of the human body to fold, transformer-like,
into the toddler he once was (a minute ago?!),
he rests his soft cheek against mine,
a gangly arm around my neck.
This moment ("you're soaking in it!")
is broken when he pulls back,
gazing up at me with his huge brown eyes
and croaks in his sleepy voice,
"You smell like tuna."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peter Gabriel Big Time

How much do I love it that this is my boy's favorite song?


So, so, so much!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You got Gold Inside of You John Prine

In honor of St. Paddy's day, and the search for the elusive pot of gold, just wanted to let you know where you could find it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's New?

Nothing to say.

We've gotten through a bout of strep throat, cellulitis, the stomach flu....or as we call it around here February and March.

There is nothing wrong, things are ticking along, we are doing our share of laughing and grousing and we are always running out the door trying to beat the clock. That's nothing new.

I have friends who are struggling now - marriages in trouble, jobs on the brink, grieving for someone. We've got none of that here. We chug along, like good little engines, grateful for the food in the fridge and the warming weather.

My job has settled into a new high-pitched whine of stress from 8:30 to 2:50, after which I've become pretty adept at forcing myself to let it go. I'm invested when I'm there, I'm present and accounted for, but when I come home, I'm present to my family.

I'm taking more pictures, which makes me sort of giddy. I'm putting together a little portfolio, hoping to be able to have a little side business this summer when school is out. I love meeting new families, and I love the challenge of finding those special sparks between them while I click away. I love the challenge of light and mayhem.

I'm the captain of my Neighborhood Watch. A less intrusive Gladys Kravitz, more interested in keeping the kids and pets and properties safe than making sure there is no witchcraft happening at the house across the street. I didn't want the job, but no one else would take it, so here I am. Someone should do it. Might as well be me.

Joe-Henry got a new bike, and a new helmet. His adorable polkadotted helmet is gone, replaced by a Gary Frank cammo-skull and crossbones affair, more suited to his nine year old badass self. He is excited to play machine pitch baseball again this spring. No, basketball. No baseball. No, BASKETBALL. Sigh, okay, I'll sign you up for basketball. After which he comes in from shooting hoops for five minutes with the kid next door and says "Mom, I've decided to play baseball. Basketball's too hard".

I just feel more like living my life, than writing about it. I'd rather be appreciating the mundane moments, soaking up the gut busting laughter that nine year old boys get when they talk about farting or the word "glockenspiel".

So thanks for stopping by. Sorry I've been absent. Hope you are well! I'm filling my cup, I'll be back when it's overflowing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Heck Of My Own Making

This weekend I had wonderful experiences.

I got to take pictures of a gorgeous family.

I went with my boys and an added friend to a beautiful park.

The sun was shining and the air smelled fresh and sweet.

I ate ice cream. Twice, for goodness' sake!

So why is it that the comments of someone I don't even like got under my skin? So much so that I actually spent time with a frown on my face, heaving sighs loud enough that my son finally said "Mom, you are the best mom ever. You do so many nice things for people. He's just a grump, don't let him get to you!". I mean, honestly, I'm more angry with myself that I spent two minute even THINKING about what this guy thought of me.

And angrier still that I modeled that behavior for my boy, who I am always telling "don't worry about what people think, ESPECIALLY people you don't like."

Parenting Fail.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Stroll Through Our 'Hood

I've been drooling over karigee's Paris set on flickr. My internet friend is on her first trip to Paris, and she's a brilliant photographer, and her musings on life, art and all things cultural tickle my fancy. And my fancy? Is not easily tickled. My fancy is a big ol' snob.

I have no idea what that means.

AAAAAnyhoooo. Up before the crack this morning, I was oogling her photos, and while the sun was rising I thought, "Hey. Here's what you do. Go out and see the blue sky this morning. Take a walk, take some pictures. Find the beauty here in the 'Couve."

No easy task. Not that it's not beautiful here in the Northwest - it is. But our little hood? Is a bit run down. Worse for wear. But perhaps if I see it through the lens I can turn that shabby to chic! (My Pollyanna tendencies notwithstanding, I do love rust!)

So, while there are no golden statues in my neighborhood, I managed to find a few things that made me happy.

I have found that if you are having trouble seeing things, you need to look up. Or down. Just change perspective somehow. I don't mean just finding the beauty, but really seeing. It's a good way to get your bearings.

So I looked up. And hello, Spring. I see you just around the corner.




The Red Red Robin is here.


The corner of Grand Blvd. & Mill Plain is perhaps one of the most uninspiring corners on earth, save for the fact that on this corner you can get a) cheap gas, b) GREAT pizza, c) a quickie lube at Minit Man. Well, you used to be able to do c), but my favorite oil changer has disappeared, poof, and it hasn't been opened for months. This morning, I was pining for him just a little bit. I don't know where to go now to get the oil changed in my car. Well, there are dozens of places I can think of off the top of my head, but nowhere to discuss bluegrass music, and I'm pretty sure Jiffylube & Oilcan Henry's won't let JH go down into the pit to gaze lovingly up at the underbelly of our car. I miss you, Minit Man.








Further down the block you start to believe that collars don't get any bluer than this little patch of the 'Couve:





Inviting, no?

But make it to the end of the block, and here is the pot of gold at the end of the rusty rainbow: Paper Tiger Coffee Co. They roast onsite, they have a brilliant selection of books to read, the owners are lovely and you can chat and discuss and muse and wonder to your hearts content, all while sipping the most perfect cappuccino this side of the Atlantic.


As always though, the best part of any journey, large or small, is coming home:
The neighbor's flowering plum is getting ready to bloom, which makes me want to work in my garden.


And peeking in our window, I spy one of our sweet cats on the bookshelf, and my boy in his robe, playing Wii on a sunny Saturday morning.


It's not Paris. Only Paris is Paris. But still, how sweet it is.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Valentine

When we met, we were both in the arts, there were no strings, no mortgage, no expectations. Parenting and life have changed that.

We are moving into a new phase, and though there is so much uncertainty, the constant is this: He is my valentine. My history, and a very deep part of who I am. I am more myself when I am with him.

Some say that Valentine's Day is just a Hallmark holiday, invented to lure poor saps into spending money. That may be so, I'm just cynical enough to believe that story. But that doesn't mean it's not a great idea. Because sometimes it's important to have a date on the calendar that's about nothing but celebrating love, in all it's crazy, wonderful forms.

And about remembering beginnings and the love that's gotten us this far.

video

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up



Yesterday I was hit seriously hard by the Muse. I was getting ready for work in the bathroom, and (you think this is going somewhere funny, don't you?! But I'm deadly serious).

I have ideas for three different photo essays. I'm not going to tell you what they are. But I have to do them.

Don't get me wrong. Just because I have a decent camera, I still don't consider myself a photographer. I mostly just experiment until I get something I like. But I am starting to understand light a little better. And I'm realizing more and more what makes me want to keep clicking the button:

Narrative. I don't JUST want to see the pretty picture that comes out. I want the story behind it. I LOVE hearing people's stories. I want to know how they got from there to here. I want to hear what they are going to do next.

And I'm tired of telling myself I can't because I'm not this enough or that enough or I'm too old or too naive.

Here's the thing: no one has to like them but me. I'm not going to do it to be famous. I'm going to do it because I want to.

I'm inspired, and it feels so good.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Title of This Photo Is:

Nine year old becomes youngest CEO of major bank while wearing his bathrobe and pajamas.



My hubby brought home my Valentine's present a few days early - a Nikon sb 600 speedlight flash. I'm taking a group photo for a couple friends later this month and needed one. The weather here in the northwest is notoriously iffy and cold and rainy, so if we can't go outside, I needed to figure something out for an indoor shoot. Charley knew this, and called to ask if it would be "sweet enough" if he got me one for Valentine's Day. Lord, I love this man.

The boy and I were both sickies yesterday, but I got him to pose for me a couple times while I tried to play with the light. If you look close you can see the purple spots around his eyes from where he broke blood vessels dry heaving.

I only work with the most glamorous models.

Seriously though: I can't believe this beautiful, soulful kid is ours. How incredibly lucky are we?!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2:42 a.m.: Bosco's Benediction


Laying, eyes closed
trying to focus my mind's eye on any random happy thought;
trying to figure out
how to pull the train of midlife with it's heavy cargo,
trying to understand the nature of the beast of life,
and coming up empty.
Sighing. Sleep is not simple.

My Saviour hops up on the bed.
Finding the sweet spot,
his body nestled above my right shoulder
and the pillow,
his nose nuzzling my neck,
he purrs his benediction:
"sleep, sleep, sleep,
you are loved
this is what matters
because you worry about everyone else
I will take care of you"
When my breathing slows, and calms
his purring quiets and he himself heaves a last
contented sigh.
His paw reaches across my chest and comes to
rest on my heart.
I am loved.
This is what matters.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the important stuff

Joe-Henry has been hitting so many milestones lately.

Blowing his first bubble with bubble gum.

Driving me crazy by telling me to look at all the bubbles that have followed. And their greatness.

You know, the important stuff!

So it's only natural that he would tell me, upon first rising this sunny morning:
"I think it's time I learned how to make fart noises with my armpit."

To which I replied: Let's concentrate on tying your shoes, using a napkin instead of your sleeve/pants/furniture, and advanced butt wiping first.

Then I'll teach you how to make fart noises with your armpit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inspiration

Aimee, over at Greeblemonkey is having a photo contest, like she usually does every month, but THIS month, for every entry she is donating $1 to Unicef for Haiti relief. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

The theme is "inspiration". I wracked my brain and tried to think of my favorite pic of JH, because he is a constant inspiration to me. I thought about finding one of Charley, because I'm constantly inspired by his music and love. I looked at pictures I've taken of cats, of flowers, of beaches.

I finally came up with this. I love these little tiny flowers coming up through the cracks in the sidewalk. They persevere, they grow despite the odds, even when it's cold. They keep coming up, keep growing in a harsh place, and bring a little beauty to those who take a minute to stop and look.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heading South

We're heading down to see the in-laws in California this weekend, and even though I woke up with "Here Comes The Sun" in my head, I'd already used that here before, so this is my second choice. And HELLLOOOOOO, it's Lesley Gore! It doesn't get any peppier than this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Best Haircut To Hide Jowls"



Someone typed this into Google, then wound up at my blog.

Of course, someone else typed in "I'm juicy inside" and landed here too. So, uh, yeah....

Older moms, UNITE!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

So Cool



Last night, as on many nights, Joe-Henry and I had some iPhone time together. He has my old phone (which was Charley's old phone), and I had my phone, and he played one of his thousand games, and I played Bejeweled Blitz because yes, Mr. & Mrs. Internet America I'm an addict. In the old days, everyone gathered in front of the radio. This is our radio.

Anyway, instead of Madden 10, or Jelly Car, or the horrible and entirely inappropriate New York Nights (another post on it's own, for now I'll tell you that the age guidelines are WRONG), he played me a concert on RealPianopro. It was soothing and beautiful, and even though I have to BEG him to practice piano for reals, he enjoyed making music. Relaxing, creating, entertaining his mom.

I give myself a hard time about not being better at a whole laundry list of things. I don't engage him enough in this or that, I'm not more positive in the way I try to guide him to do things on his own. Don't get me wrong - I'm not laying awake at night beating myself up for this. I think EVERY parent does this to a certain degree. And since I"m in such good company, I sleep pretty soundly most of the time, thankyouverymuch.

He's discovering great music every day too - through games. The last song we downloaded was Little Eva's The Locomotion. He has great taste in music, and I love hearing him sing along. We give him coupons to be turned in for things he wants, and he can spend them any way he wants, but when they're gone, he has to wait until the next time he gets coupons. (Of course, we can "gift" him if we want.)

As we both started to feel tired, he opened up Bloom. I'd seen it once before, Charley had shown it to me a long time ago. But last night was an epiphany. Created by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers, it's an ambient, interactive music box. It's visually simple but hypnotically beautiful, and sooooooo relaxing. I think it should be a required app if you have trouble sleeping or are under stress. I begged him for a turn, told him to close his eyes and he was asleep within two minutes.

I HATE paying for apps, but this one? Completely worth the 3.99. I think I'll even be able to use it at work. I'm excited to see what the students I work with think of it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

HeadSong Friday: Loves Me Like A Rock

Haven't done HeadSong Friday in a while, but I woke up with this song loud in my head this morning. When JH was little, he's sing this song so loud, and my favorite line he'd misquote, was "She loves me like a rocka pages!".

Saw this a while back on PBS, and loved it. Paul Simon is a National Treasure. And Stevie Wonder?! With the Dixie Hummingbirds?! PERFECTION.



To all you Mama's out there: Go Mama Love!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seriously

Last night, I had one of those "aha" moments while talking to JH. Not the good kind of "aha", but the "HELLLOOOO?! have you not been listening to him?!" moments.

About a year ago, JH developed a mad crush on a girl in his class. He told a friend. The friend told the girl. And ever since, the girl has treated him differently. When he talks about her, he says "she hates me now", or "she's really driving me crazy".

But last night, getting ready for bed, he said in the most serious voice, "Mom. Please help me. I don't know what to do. She is really mean to me, and I'm trying to be nice." Then he burst into tears.

"She doesn't like me because I'm different. She's seen me in shorts. She's seen my bumps on my leg."

I navigated us away from that place, knowing in my mother's heart that it wasn't true. I know this girl, and I'm pretty sure that she just doesn't know what to do with the fact that he had a crush on her. And now he doesn't.

Anyway. I got him to the place where he could practice saying what he needs to say. He came up with the perfect little speech, and he wrote it down.

"Please stop following me at recess. I don't like it and it hurts my feelings when you say mean things to me. I can choose who I want to play with, and I don't have to say I'm sorry for that. If you don't stop following me and saying mean things to me, I'll have to tell a recess teacher, because you aren't listening to me."

He wants to wake up early to draw her a picture of flowers. Because he really, really wants to be her friend.

Sigh. And it only gets more complicated.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk



Do you know what I love about being the mother of a nine year old boy? Besides nagging him to do every little thing? Because yes, I complain, but also, I love doing it. I must. (sshhhhhh.... I'm "acting as if", because then maybe if I actually DID love nagging, I'd become more effective at it. or something.).

I love the quality conversations we have. The state of the world is discussed, along with the state of, well, everything else. All topics are covered. The kids in his class, the best vs. worst brands of bubblegum, how to build the most perfect interactive video game, and of course my favorite topic, Ways In Which I Can Be A Better Mom.

Way #1: stop being so grouchy

There is no Way #2, because if I stopped being grouchy I would be perfect.

A typical example of our discussions is as follows. This is the first conversation I had in the New Year, and I think it bodes well for my intellectual growth in 2010.

JH: Mom, who's your favorite Stooge?

Me: My favorite Stooge?

JH: Yeah! Larry, Curly or Moe?

Me: I think Larry does lovely, understated work, and has always been under appreciated. I'll go with Larry.

JH: But Moe is the leader, and he's so funny! And Curly makes those hysterical noises!

Me: Yes, but without Larry, Moe and Curly would probably kill each other. Also, I like Larry because he's pretty quiet.

JH: But he's not the funniest.

Me: Nope. Not everyone is funny. And that's okay.

JH: No it isn't.


and.... scene.

Do you see why my brain is in danger of melting and running out both my ears?

So this is why I vow to get out more in 2010. To seek the stimulation of grownups and talk about important things. Like politics and melting ice caps and OMG The Bachelor...

on the other hand, we haven't gotten to Shemp yet. And what about the Marx Brothers? I can't wait to find out what he thinks about Harpo!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the hat


the hat
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
We got this hat for JH because they came with those cool fingerless gloves that have the mittens on the end. He really wanted those. He wasn't crazy about this hat because it has PINK in it. He wanted a brown one that had fringe running from front to back right down the middle because it looked like a mohawk.
Because he's a badass like that.
But it didn't have gloves that came with it, so this is what he got.
Because I'm a mom like that.

I caught this pic after a recent snowstorm when he and some neighborhood friends were building a snowman in our front yard. I LOVE the color, and I love, love, love that boy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Nook of One's Own

With Christmas behind us, I continued to Feng our Shui. We moved the tree out of the corner of the room, but I didn't want to put back all the mismatched boxes, and DEAR GOD THE TOYS, so I decided to try to make a cozy space for the boy. Of course, since the advent of the Wii, I despaired of ever getting him to play with anything else, but over the past couple days something miraculous has happened: while helping me clean his room, he's discovered some old toys. He thought it was okay for me to move his Thomas Trains (really? Nine is too old for Thomas?! Okay.... sniff...) into a less accessible spot, but he was having a blast playing with his airplanes, busses and cars. We had this ugly white shelf downstairs, so I moved it up, put a runner and a lamp on it, and threw some old pillows I found at goodwill in the corner. I got some cool recycled magazine baskets at TJ Maxx, filled them with some legos, some paper and art supplies, some cars and planes, and the boy was so excited to have a cozy little nook all to himself. There's a little empty spot there for a few more books, so who knows - maybe he'll even READ!

Bonus: The cats love it!