Monday, May 30, 2011

Remember This

Bindy and I haven't thrown our kids together in almost a year. What-a-year. This Memorial Day I remembered last Memorial Day, which was also a visit to Sanity Island with my host Ms. Bindy, a control freak with a schedule fetish who intimidates my children. Perfect.

It was an active crowd and the kindness flowed. Except when Bindy's five-year-old gave my five-year-old a shiner (your kid might have taken streetfighting this time, Bindy, but who's ahead in overnight potty management?). Oh and then there was that moment when my dog Sadie gave Bindy's older daughter a little nip for old time's sake. My dog used to always nip at Bindy's relatives, and I get how they seem risky, but I don't want anything to upset the kid I call The Goddess of My Children. She brings peace to my home. She makes up fairy games and mediates between the sisters. We should be showering her with gifts, not herding her into submission.

By the way, I wonder why Quinn and Tabitha didn't join the six of us plus dog in my one-bedroom pad. Tabitha said her dog was sick and Quinn didn't return my call - to each her own.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The best part of living in the apartment is the social life my kids can call their own. They have to introduce themselves to new kids. They have to knock on each other's doors and figure out what they're going to do. They run around screaming and swearing in a kid style. They ransack kitchens and role play. They sit in the trees, fighting about who bosses the game.

They aren't really unsupervised. With my door and windows open, I can see and hear them. I get a peek into their personalities outside the family. At least this week, Violet is a daring jokester and Daisy is a nurturing rule-enforcer. With the volume of sound those kids produce, you can't miss much.

I've argued about this with Bionic Woman. She's a landlord and has had to deal with tenants like me, who let their kids roam around common areas, disturbing other tenants and creating wear and tear. For the people who have chosen not to reproduce and feel they should never be inconvenienced by children - remember, someone's got to take over when we're done here. My campaign is that kids need a bit of wildness to explore like plants need daylight. It is how they learn the confidence and creativity to enter the world on their own, when they outgrow the need for their mama's boundaries.

Pictures by Violet

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Day

I was dizzy tired when I got home from work on the much talked about last day ever, but the light was gold and the air was late spring. I grabbed my camera, hoping to take a picture of something end-of-the-worldish at the beach.

Everything was looking the same until the coast, which was heavily populated by drunk guys. The tip off to not normal was a man on what easily might have been his last day, swerving his bike into oncoming traffic while his friends cheered him on.

I was distracted from the life-or-death slalom by a lewd suggestion coming from the direction of a nearby porch. Really, that’s original. Why is everyone so wasted, and where are the women?

Forget the beach – I stopped by the corner market for cold water on the way home. A man who was not the epitome of mental health paced in a tight circle behind me at the register. The cashier and I stared. The pacing man left for a few moments then returned to his mini track. He claimed to be “just passing through” before telling a long story about his stolen sunglasses.

OK, bye. As I looked up the *pathway* to home, I saw another group of unsteady males hanging out by the sidewalk about a block down.  What now? More lewdness and a creepy I-love-you. You know, when you think of it, Last Day is a bit livelier than Memorial Day. I'm sure May has room for one more holiday.


Friday, May 20, 2011


This was looking very inspirational poster to me this morning. It just needs a quote with the word pathway, something like . . . you might not see where you're headed on the pathway, but you know you're going somewhere. Who wouldn't buy that poster?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I heard an odd comment recently, “You have a lot of walls up.” Are you talking to me? If you knew about my anonymous blog, you would know you’re wrong. And my friends of 20 years or so would tell you that you’re crazy. What I said out loud was . . . nothing. Not one word. OK, maybe a few walls. Still, I’ve worked hard to install windows and doors in those walls.

And walls aren’t all bad. They keep you warm and safe. Now that I’m the only adult in my household, I must be extra vigilant to keep the bad guys away from the nest. It’s not like I never go out of my comfort zone. I make myself uncomfortable all the time.

I’m not in the mood to embarrass myself at this moment, which brings to mind a story about my friend Quinn. Quinn is the only person I know who might embarrass herself more than I. Let’s just say people she cares about saw her do an embarrassing thing outside a Super Bowl party. When she tried to play it cool back in the main party area, she tripped and fell on a perfectly flat floor with no hazards, giving herself a black eye that lasted for weeks. Knowing Quinn is to marvel at her mishaps.

That was totally off topic but I’ve been meaning to get it in somewhere. Anyway, the thing is I speak up more than I ever have. In fact, I’m very pleased with my speaking up. I’m also cringing, because when you speak up more, you expose your faults as much as your strength. You can’t let a little cringing ruin your day though.

I opened a bottle of tea at work today, and on the inside of the cap was a quote by Rigoberta Menchu, “Peace is not a little white dove. It is you and me.” It’s a message drilled into my brain since birth; my mother always says, “If we can’t get along, how can we have peace in this world?”

Menchu embodies an interesting duality of fighting for what matters and making peace. And when it matters, it’s much better to have boundaries than walls. You have to speak up to establish a boundary; you’re visible. But that takes work. To reserve energy for the good fight, a nicely placed wall can do miracles to keep the peace. The trick is knowing when to take the wall down and when to put it up.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Disappearance of NK

We heard this morning that NK, our much loved neighbor kid, moved without notice. I saw NK on Friday. He knocked on the door to announce he had finally gotten a REAL electric guitar . . . from Toys R Us . . . where are the girls? I told him I wasn’t sure when they were going to be dropped off. He made me promise to send them over. The girls got back too late to knock on his door, and that was the last we saw of him. The word among the kids in the courtyard was that he had to move far, far away.

Violet took it the hardest. She sobbed uncontrollably, “I miss NNNNKKKKKKK!” I reassured her, I have his mom’s phone number. We'll find out what's going on. Maybe he didn't move far. She was inconsolable.

My original dinner plan was to cook something from Vegan with a Vengeance. I have poured over that cookbook from cover to cover, folding corners and making shopping lists. Instead, I ate rindsrouladen - roast beef rolled around pickles, bacon, and onion in a mustard gravy.

It was unplanned German food. During errands that took us by the mountains, the kids were fighting about dinner. My recipe for millet-stuffed squash wasn't doing me any favors.

I told the girls we'd just go on a mountain drive to relax and be with the trees and find something to eat. I promised we wouldn't stop unless we all agreed. When we first drove up to the German restaurant, Violet was pissed, “I hate . . . German!” However, she had no credibility after expressing her hatred of Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Cowboy Diner. Trust me, you love German.

We were alone on the restaurant patio. Violet was in full combat mode to prevent dinner from happening until she discovered the play corner. She ordered noodles and ham before running off.

Daisy stayed with me until she spotted the instruments nailed to a tree in the dining area. She left, declaring, “I wish I could play those until my heart contends.”

Hello, relaxing dining experience with children.

Violet was unethused about her noodles, but the kids ate half my plate. They are gettting more useful as they get older.

Then it was straight back home to see if there was any sign of NK. We arrived to the complex with the girls leaning forward in their seats, anxious to see if his mom’s car occupied her spot next to ours. Nope. Low point.

I was collecting the girls from the neighbors when it was getting close to bedtime, and who do I run into but NK's mom. She seemed confused when I asked her if she was leaving, "No, I'm taking out the trash." All the kids came out. NK was psyched to talk about his real - already broken-  electric guitar. He tried to convince my smiling girls to run to his apartment to check it out. The girls have actually been getting a little tired of his AC/DC-ness, but I'm thinking NK can pull off a pretty long performance here tomorrow after kindergarten.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Round and Round

Before life got rich with responsibility, I most always functioned as a line. If I was at A and wanted B, I charged there, and if something got in the way, I found a new B. Now if I want B, I spiral. That’s what the wild goose chase for a job was like. That’s what parenting is like. There are times I even impress myself with the way I take care of my mama business, and there are those setbacks and side adventures that make me wonder if I'm cut out to be a parent at all.

The female concept of time I was introduced to in college fascinated me – it’s that other gender that likes lines; we’re round. I can appreciate a shift in perspective . . . yes, women are too sophisticated for a mere timeline. We know that life is really swirls of cycles. So sad that men can't even comprehend the significance with their skulls. But honestly, I've had to grow as a person to appreciate the art of circular progress.

I find myself moving in circles often. I get lost on my way to work about once a week. The locations don't change; it's my thoughts that take me to some other place. I can't defend my tendency toward distraction, but the indirect path can be the best bet. A couple nights ago, I went on a run to the coast. The beach was deserted, and I was tempted down to the sand by the large sparkly waves in the half moon. When almost at the water, I turned around to be startled by a man behind me. He turned around abruptly, disappearing into the darkness in the direction of the stairs. 

It started with the paranoid back glances as I watched the waves. I never saw where that guy went. He could have left, or he could be at the base of the stairs. I decided to leave the beach via the harbor then came to a stop when I realized I would end up on a remote, unlit path. I headed back to the stairs - I was obviously being ridiculous . . . or was I? I stopped again and looked in every direction, disoriented, before going for a long, slow loop back up the beach to a couple bonfires I could see in the far off distance. That's pretty much my life metaphor at this time, and I'm not throwing a party about it.

All whining aside, a circle solved my problem. When I have the kids, exercise seems impossible. After homework and dinner and bedtime, I'm apartment-bound. I thought about joining a gym with childcare, but I have this peculiar fear that gyms are breeding grounds for the next pandemic. That's why I was thrilled when I realized there's a track next to my apartment. By day a parking lot and by night a track, seconds from my front door. Circles are working for me.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drill Diary

Things are strangely organized in this apartment right now. As usual, my parents' active support is a factor. I got a double-take the other day when I mentioned I was planning to ask my dad for help with the unused work phone in my purse (I was hoping not to know you, Blackberry). I do realize I’m way too old to rely on parental guidance.

That’s why I bought my own drill a couple months back. It’s cute and cordless, and there was all this stuff I needed to drill. But then, I had a lot of nondrill projects, like installing a filter on the kitchen faucet. It was the third try, after I vowed not to return the shiny chrome filter back to the box again, that I thought of something. Every time I’ve seen plumbing in progress (work with me here, faucet parts were involved), there’s lots of cussing and nothing fucking works until it does. I opted for not cussing but sweated like a bomb was about to go off, while the kids poked their ostrich heads into our kitchen with the square footage of a bathroom mat . . . get out! When the filtered water was flowing - not spraying out the side - I called everyone back for high-fives.

After that glorious moment, it was time to know my drill. But not really. I’ve got so much work to accomplish these days in every sense of the word. So in anticipation of Mother’s Day, I asked my dad to bring his drill to get some stuff up on the wall, like my fallen closet rod. I didn’t want to complicate things by bringing out the new drill I didn't even know. I’ll save that for the next time my dad comes over.

Picture: Something I love that my dad helped me put up on Mother’s Day. Turns out, this one didn’t need a drill.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

With Love to All the Mamas

This has been such a clunky day. I woke up refreshed, looking forward to getting the kids back from their dad and having the grandparents over for Mother’s Day.

The kids didn’t show up at the appointed time. I’ll spare you the details, but by the time I saw them, my name was Basketcase and I couldn’t quite hold back the tears as they handed over gifts.

The kids were their very sweetest. Violet flowed the flowers and drawings. Daisy reassured me that everything was fine. She vacuumed. Violet made herself a ham sandwich. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Then, they realized . . . wait a second . . . what are we thinking? It’s transition day!

The grandparents arrived to our dog Sadie running for safety from the moshpit of kids in our living room. NK, our favorite neighbor, joined as we skyped with my bro and Mathilda in Germany. He centered himself squarely in front of the camera and shared his latest. NK does enjoy his camera opps.

At the end of lunch at the harbor, which was like eating with the founding members of the Club for Hyperactive Cavegirls, Grandpa mercifully took the kids ahead to the beach while Grandma and I finished up. A bird joined to grab Violet's leftovers she had chewed up and spit back out onto her plate.

On the beach, there was a mini sandstorm that made our ears sting. Maybe I’m just saying that last part because I don’t want you to think Grandma is going totally senile with Violet's blanket tied to her head.

Chaos is with me these days . . . how about you? People, issues, and options are coming and going. Standing my ground to see what's left.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prepare for the Worst

Every day, and I mean every day, I think about what I would do if disaster struck. It's the kids and being sixty miles or so away from them during the work day. I once knew someone who after being stranded with no gas during an earthquake wouldn't drive on less than a quarter tank. I need to be doing that.

I need to be doing lots of things. I already knew that before I found while researching something today. I bookmarked it because emergency preparedness is on my list. To relax this evening, I played on the site. Good god. This was not a relaxing activity at all. Don't do this if you want to relax.

At the top of the homepage is Are You Prepared? And the answer is I Doubt It. There are disasters that no emergency kit can help, but if it does, how much would you regret not dealing? Or, maybe I'm behind on this, and everyone else already has their extra pair of shoes and flashlight ready to go near their beds.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Bye, Four

This is the first year Daisy hasn’t sulked about her sister’s birthday. Not only that, she is being legitimately kind with her today, the second day of festivities and Violet’s actual birthday (happy birthday to Daredevil as well). I complimented Daisy on her generous attitude. Her response was, “Well, it’s just a birthday. It’s not like the earth is rewarding her. Right Mom?” True.

And if the earth were to offer a reward, it probably wouldn’t be to someone so easily annoyed by her surroundings. Violet expresses her unhappiness like neon. She can put on a pleasant face if needed but only in my absence. And the complaints will be filed upon my return.

That doesn’t mean she isn’t my biggest fan. The kid is constantly professing her mama love with a flurry of flowers, kisses, and pictures. She kept one eyeball on me at all times yesterday at Great America. I wasn’t allowed to leave her side to go on any big kid rides – just the ones I could barely fit into with my knees folded up to my chin. If I couldn’t fit into the ride, she blew kisses as she glided past my spot on the sidelines.

It’s the age. Until kids are about five, they think their parents are superheroes. We’re the funniest, strongest, most creative, most brilliant people they’ve ever met. But by age six, they calm it down. They start to realize magic isn’t real and no longer bolt for their parents at first glance. I’m going to miss four.