Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The morning after

I can't turn on NPR the morning after an election. I'm not a particularly political person, but I do know what I think is right and what I think 'we' should do. But, the morning after an election when you turn it on, you try not to hear the disappointment/glee in the soft-spoken announcers voices. Maybe it's not really there and I'm making an assumption about the announcers leaning based on their employer, but there you have it. So I don't turn it on. I drive north out of the suburbs up the tree lined street and remind myself to pay attention to the view. What I'm really thinking about is how to write this paragraph. If I should write this paragraph. And how I can talk Pete into writing a paragraph with me. 

Because we've got something together. And if we can get it out, it just might be worth reading. And I've reached the point in my life that I know that what I really want to be is worth reading. So, let's see how we do with a paragraph a day. Maybe even two.

Friday, December 14, 2012

That boy.

I don't know how it happens. You're minding your own business making lattes and flirting for tips on the coffee cart and having a great summer and you unsuspectingly answer the phone. No, she's not home. Me? I'm going to go get a book. And suddenly you're married with 2 kids wondering what on earth has happened. But, friends, this is nothing compared to what happens when that other boy appears.

I know, I know. When your mom said, 'that boy' your interested was immediately piqued because you knew her opinion simply by the preceding that. It made him irresistible even if you were smart enough to know he was bad news. Honestly, you were 17. You may have been smart, but you certainly didn't know better. Not to worry, now that you're in your mid-(cough)-late thirties you have a solid grasp on hot mess, resistibility and suggestibility.

But, that boy catches you off guard every single time. He makes you crazy. He talks ALL the time. His legs take up the whole couch. You have to say things like, 'Don't hit your sister. You never look good hitting a girl.' You have to watch what you leave lying about the house because he can't stop reading. Especially your not-so-secret trashy novel habit. He tells his teacher his one big wish for the world is 'no homeless'. His favorite place in the world is home. He slips an extra cookie in his lunch bag in case his favorite principal stops by at lunch time so he can share. He builds a microphone out of Tinker Toys for his sister and plays every song he can on the piano so she can sing a concert. He even rounds up the audience and nags them to clap. Louder!
What is it about boys anyway?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Right Now

It seems to me that as parents, we spend most of our time teaching kids how to walk away. Not things like, 'step away from the Lego aisle' or 'get off your sister', but the general sense that each little thing we teach them contributes to a successful adulthood where I get my couch back. Look, I know there's more important things I should be focused on, but honestly, I really like my couch.

I mostly like the idea of them growing up. And sometimes it's funny. Recently, Harry has taken to doing a bit of cleaning up and helping others around him without being asked. This gives me great hope for future marriage possibilities for him - one of the great markers of success in raising a boy, in my opinion, is that some day, some woman is willing to marry him. Of course, he stomps home completely indignant that someone could be such a slob and 'Mom, do you know how much work it is to clean up after everyone?' Nope. Not a clue. That's never happened to me. 

At the same time, I really like right now. Just right now where they look like this while I'm waiting for a truck to get out of the way before we're going wherever. Or they pretend it's not Thanksgiving and start to take their shoes off on a freezing cold beach. Just right now is nice. I know next week will probably be just fun, but I'll admit, I really like right now. I'll even share my couch.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A plane full of people.

This week I have to pack for the third week in a row. But, this week I get to pack for 4 instead of just 1, which makes me ridiculously. I've always thought that planes are interesting slices of humanity. You all start somewhere else, have a similar experience getting undressed at security - wondering if the person in front or behind can smell the stink coming out of your shoes (honestly, why do I have stinky feet? I'm a girl!) - you get put back together in 'recombobulation' (TSA, that is NOT a real word!) and then you board and likely sit next to a stranger. (If you're sitting next to me, you better pray to your lucky stars that I don't need the air sickness bag.)

For a short period of time, these people are all you've got. They are the ones that are with you when the captain comes on and makes a joke about traveling at sub-sonic speeds, when the flight attendant can't seem to get the safety dance script right. Remember, I'm an extrovert. I know everyone else isn't, and most importantly, that the person sitting next to me may be an introvert. So my rule is to shut up. I'll chat if you start it, but I try to never start it. It's a hard rule for me, but I think it contributes to a polite society. I'm thankful for the people who start the conversation, though. Because you learn things about people that you can't see from the outside. That lady sitting next to you? Her mom died of cancer 6 weeks ago. She still feels like she's going through the motions and isn't sure how it's ever going to be okay. Her dad is so lonely. Her sister lives far away. 

So, you tell her that she's met a countryman. You offer condolences and agree that it's terrible crap to endure. You tell her that it doesn't really get easier, and there are hard terrible days. You might even start crying while reading a book on an airplane on the way to Las Vegas. Even if it's a really good book, you feel a little silly. But, you just have to let it out. And after a while, you get used to things being different. You aren't as surprised by it anymore. It makes it easier, and somehow you get through - you just have to remember where to look for help. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tick tock.

Fall is the season of birthdays around here. Well, for 3 of us. I'm not sure how we got Harry so wrong, but  there you have it. I may have forgotten certain days in the past, but let's not talk about that now. (It's not my fault! The baby took my brain!) Let's talk about cake, because of those of you who really know me, know I'm always on the look out for a good excuse to make cake. It's like that big sign of reasons to buy custard when you walk into Kopp's. Except I like Dairy Queen better than custard. Which I know is crazy talk, but anyway...

A few months ago, Suzy declared (as only she can do) that this year there would be a butterfly cake. A friend and I joked that this actually meant a butterfly flavored cake, made with ground up butterflies and forgetting that Harry was still an 8 year old boy, instantly able to gross out anyone who started a silly conversation. But, seriously, does she mean a butterfly shaped cake? A cake with butterflies stuck on it?  (Yuck.) A mystical flavor called butterfly that only exists in her tiny head? (Look, I know it's not tiny. But she's a girl. We shouldn't talk about it like we did (do?) with Harry.) And I'm getting smarter, because I don't ask her these things. No. That just gets you signed up for ridiculous things like cake decorating classes and making skirts in the middle of the night. There's one benefit to being in one's mid-thirties. (Shut. Up. 37 is totally mid-thirties.)

But, I thought that we should at least address flavor. I so want to make an apple cake, but I know I should let her pick. So, this morning on our walk to apple school, asked what flavor cake she wanted to underneath all of the butterflies. Chocolate? Vanilla? Apple? 

Her response? "Moooooooooooooooooooom, it should be pink!"

Of course it should. What was I thinking? It'll probably be slightly out of focus and I'm sure the 'mess fairy' will visit the kitchen, too. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What we do.

A wise school principal once said to me, 'Days are long, years are short.' Such statements usually bug me because deep down it really doesn't make any sense, but annoyingly true. Be careful with this one, though, as it rolls around in your head. When you look back at years, you remember things like, 'Oh, that's the year that I got married.' Or, 'that's the year I lived with Joanne, Cami and Sarah in that football weekend flop house on Mound Street.' It's so different from, 'that's the bike ride that I noticed that Suzy's legs reached all the way down the crank on the pedal.' The leg that couldn't quite do it back in June was down to the bottom at the end of August. 

But, but. There's nothing like the day you notice these legs. They are everywhere. They never stop. And they are only just beginning. My goodness, what on earth are we going to do with all those legs? Our house isn't that big! And he's only 8! He's still my small boy. He'll still hold my hand. And kiss me goodbye on the driveway while I'm wearing my pajamas. 
It's almost as scary as that square chin. Or the fact that he never shares his ice cream anymore. How did I miss that day? 

Monday, September 17, 2012


Suzy is in the middle of what I really hope is the shortest phase ever. It goes something like this: she gets an idea. She makes a decision. She starts to take action. Something gets in the way (something like, no you cannot have cookies for dinner. or yes, Harry is allowed to sit on the couch. or no I won't pay $44 for an umbrella with roses on it even if you say 'pretty pretty super ooper duper please' 3 times) and she melts down. Lately, this has been happening at the sitter's house at lunch time. She won't eat. She cries and says, 'I want my mom!' And, really, I weep for the girl because I know exactly how she feels.

Harry is totally annoying on the couch. His legs take up all the room. He hogs the blanket. And the remote. It's better to go to the park where he pushes Suzy on the swings and comes to sit by me and this happens.

And yes, internet, I know I have just posted a silly picture of dirty shoes that are really more stinky than you'd think a 3 year old can make them, but they are sort of exactly how I feel today. The world is filled with shoes. You can either keep wearing the ones you always wear, or you can try someone else's. Or better yet, make your own. All things told, even with the nicks and scrapes and dirt and stink, my shoes are pretty awesome these days.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

There is always enough.

I mentioned earlier in the week that a friend lost her 10 year old magic boy to cancer this week. Another friend is losing a brother much sooner than he should. There's enough sad if you look for it. But, I can't look for sad anymore. And grey hair. I can't look for those either. They are just too hard to pull out. And it hurts. Despite all that, I'm feeling remarkably lucky these days. Mostly because there's things like this to look at.

She wore her E-I-E-I-O shirt and could not get enough whipped cream. The giant slide was a little scary, but not as scary as when she got her head stuck in one of those woodcut out things for faces. 

A little later in the summer, my aunt and uncle from Shanghai came for a visit. The kids could not stand how much they loved the new digs.

Me? I couldn't stand how his arm naturally rested on the top of the chair. He's 8. And that's the top of the chair. Try it next time your standing by a chair. (Or right now, because you're probably sitting, right?)  The only thing more shocking is the size of his feet. But, as a friend pointed out the last time I complained about Harry stepping on my feet, there are a lot of giant feet around here.

But mostly what I'll miss looking at as summer melts into fall is this.

 It's my usual Saturday morning view at the farmer's market. Along with a coffee and crepe, I don't see how it can possibly look any better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not having much to say.

It's not that we haven't been doing things. Crazy things like Little League. And the beach. And the pool. And sailing. And reading. Try The Paris Wife, Clara and Mr. Tiffany and  1,000 White Women. And, to be honest, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and of course, I read those shades of grey. Ridiculous.

But I've been thinking about this space and finding a voice again. I miss my mom every day. Some days I'm mad at her. Some days I just miss her. Some days I understand and other days I'm just like Suzy and don't have a clue. It's a dull ache that you get used too, but sure wish it wasn't there. I'm not old enough to not have a mom.

But who is?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A funny angle

I remember being in New Orleans years ago and hearing a carpenter complaining, 'Did no one have a square when they built this damn town?' I feel like nothing is quite square anymore, so many curves, scalene and obtuse triangles instead of nice, neat squares. I suppose this sort of thing naturally happens after so much unexpected and unwanted change. I look around wondering what happened to my perspective with a mixture of longing for the old safe place and an appreciation for the new. (Honestly, nobody likes change. I'm trying to talk myself into it. Couldn't you be a little nicer about it?) It's so hard to just glide through it. Although, fabulous shoes really do help.

I read the sweetest book last week called Daddy Long Legs which is really just about perspective. It's a fast read and free for download on your favorite electronic device (I like my Kindle and my not a book burner so settle down). But, mostly, I worry when my changing perspective that captures things like this:
Are his legs really that long? Or am I seeing things? How is it possible that he will be 8 next month. 8! I know, 8, 8, 8 is great, 8 is a number I do not hate and all of that. But, really, 8? How much longer is he going to like me? What is happening to his perspective?

But then there is her. And when the answer to, 'mama, did you make me a leprechaun skirt like my valentine skirt to wear to apple school tomorrow?' automatically becomes 'of course I did'. I just did it after you went to bed and I went to the fabric store and bought things like bias tape because I was assured that the pattern for 'dummies' truly did include me. (Ahem.)
But it's not all bad. Not when someone is too happy to notice the wonky seams and the white thread on the green bias tape on the skirt you made too late the night before.