Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear Bindy, I'll see you Monday!

We don't have much time, so I thought I'd get you prepped now. We have work to do. It's time to set aside your preconceived notions about the Fourth. It's not going to be all lounging and hiding from our children this time. Maybe you don't believe in mamas or peace.  What about patriotrism and AMERICA? Huh? Because these colors don't run, Bin. We are going to make a plan.

Step 1: Galvanize
Kelp update? Check

Step 2: Mobilize

Vision Board
Sage cleanse


Step 3: Vigilance

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slice of Summer

On a recent morning, Daisy woke up with a sweet gravelly whisper, "I love sleep so much." I made the girls organic egg and nitrate-free sausage sandwiches, toasted with vegan butter - don't forget the velveeta layer to scare away the self-righteous food gods. I had time to drink coffee sitting down, and we watched cartoons in our pajamas. I love that sunny day school's-out feeling.
I'm slowly getting the apartment cleaned up after living like a hoarder for weeks. Balance schmalance. After a long day, Violet caught me in our bedroom, laying down for a quick minute with eyes closed, "Mom, there's this stuff I saw in a commercial that you wipe the dish, and guess what? It cweans it! Magic!"
I know, I know. I'm getting up. . . . you girls notice I'm making progress, right?
Daisy broke her concentration from playing just long enough to share her disapproval, "Very slow progress!"
Yeah, well maybe you could pick up the trash that you threw at your feet . . . in our living room. What kind of low quality behavior is that?

I really can't blame the girls though. Our little nest has been shredded for weeks.  I'm just getting it put back together.

And even better, thanks to my extended fam, the girls and I are doing some condo hunting. At the first few places we saw last weekend, Violet declared, "I want to move in! Right now! RIGHT NOW!"

I totally get what you're saying but that's not how life works. Now, KNOCK IT OFF!

We fell in love at our next stop. Violet glimpsed the sparkle of a pool on a hot day through the complex, and it was over, "MOM! I want to go swimming RIGHT NOW! Put me in a deep pool right now. I can swim in all of them, Mom. I can! I WANT YOU TO PUT ME IN A DEEP POOL. I'm gonna count to three. I mean it, Mom. RIGHT NOW!"

You have lost your mind. What pool am I going to put you in at this moment? And that's no way to talk to your mother. STOP PUNCHING YOUR SISTER. You have to learn to wait!
Violet is on fire. I don't want to hear how prescious and well behaved that child is from anyone in the outside world. She was rather proud of pushing her sister who subsequently lost hold of a large watermelon that exploded on the ground. Violet got a good laugh from our family friend, which, as she explained, made the timeout her dad gave her totally worth it. Violet likes an audience for her misbehavior.
Such as the other day in the frozen food aisle, when she made a dive at my chest from her perch on the grocery cart, declaring loudly,"I want to dwink you milk!" You. are. not. a. baby. Stop it! It's not OK. Violet dissolved into an unmanageable pile of laughter as our fellow frozen food enthusiasts gave us sideways glances. Next aisle.

Sometimes, I'm not sure who's mirroring who. The girls' dad wasn't home for dropoff before work this week; in the middle of a haircut, he suggested I bring the kids to where he was. I lost it - NO, I need to leave right now. I need to leave now. RIGHT NOW! You need to come NOW!
The RIGHT NOW approach is limited in its effectiveness but it can feel amazing for a few seconds.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Well Child

It wasn't until our pediatrician mentioned it at Violet's well child this week that I realized it's been months since Violet needed her asthma meds and years since we had an asthma emergency. There was a time when she was a baby that we were at the doctor's office or hospital twice a week.

I fell in love with the health professionals who helped keep my daughter alive. I know that sounds melodramatic, but babies can't tell you what's wrong. For long stretches of time, I kept one eye peeled for flaring nostrils, shallow panting visible between the ribs, and bluish tint around the mouth.

It was always a judgment call as far as when to take her in. It was the morning of Violet's dad's birthday that I had a feeling something was wrong but I wasn't sure why. We had a houseful of visitors planned for the weekend. As I watched Violet crawling across the living room floor, she stopped and her face fell straight down into the carpet. She didn't move.

I picked Violet up and ran upstairs to tell her dad I was taking her to the hospital. He thought I was over-reacting but I was the one who was more clued into her situation as I handled her medical appointments. I left Daisy with her dad, trying to exude calm, and got Violet into the car. My knees felt like jello and shook on the way to the hospital, a thankfully short distance. I talked to Violet the whole time as she stared listlessly out the window.

When we got to the hospital, they rushed us into the ER - we had been there once already that week, and they greeted Violet by name. They checked her oxygen levels. They were dropping, dropping; the room exploded into shouting and movement as the nurse and respiratory therapist ran to get her hooked up to oxygen. I willed myself not to faint or cry. I called her dad and told him to come.

By the time Violet's dad joined us at the ER, we were told they were checking us into the hospital. I wasn't thinking clearly, and a nurse told me to go home and pack. Violet's dad took my place on the ER bed with Violet, and I sped home to pack, numb. Our friends had gotten Daisy to her grandparents. I stopped by a Safeway to grab a birthday cake for Violet's dad and left it for him at home; only one adult was allowed to sleep in the hospital room. When I returned to the ER, Violet's dad was crying.

The days in the hospital are carved into my memory. I spent a lot of time with Violet's respiratory therapist, who had himself grown up with severe asthma. He was a jazz musician, a charismatic middle-aged man who lived in Portland; he worked 12 days in a row in California then flew back up to his young wife and child for the rest of the month. He sometimes played on streetcorners with his kid on his back and his wife at his side. He was also a talented RT for babies. His presence was not unlike Morgan Freeman's character in The Shawshank Redemption. He stood there casually watching Violet for several hours after we checked in - babies can be fine one minute and in distress the next - while making slow and thoughtful conversation. I learned to associate the sight of the RT with relief. I was in no hurry to get out of that hospital, as much as it sucked.

There was a teen couple next door with a baby in a similar situation. The father who wasn't supposed to be there argued loudly with the mother, cussing up a storm and watching blaring TV for most of the first night. I tossed and turned on a cot. Violet was hooked up to oxygen and an oxygen monitor that made a loud beeping sound and was faulty - sounding off alarms unnecessarily. My nerves were toast by morning.

Violet's doctor, who was pregnant at the time, came to check on us in our quarantined room in the hospital; she scolded me for not complaining about the couple next door and encouraged me to take care of myself. I looked like hell. Our pediatrician is amazing - she's warm, caring, and seemingly not motivated by profit. She takes her time with her patients and goes out of her way to make things easier - or less expensive, which was huge. That year, our family's out-of-pocket healthcare costs totaled more than 20K.

This week, our pediatrician interviewed Violet as she sat on the patient table looking like a healthy six year old.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A hairdwessuh."

"What do you like to do?"

"Put on make-up."

I had to interject - tell the doctor about what you like to do outside. You learned to ride a bike without training wheels before your older sister and then taught her how to ride a bike all by yourself after all the adults had failed for months. Tell her that!

Violet nodded with a shy smile and our pediatrician gave her a hug and said something like, "It is wonderful to see the healthy kid you have become. You were really sick when you were a baby. I am so happy to see you as a strong, healthy girl in kindergarten."

Violet beamed.

"What is your favorite book?"

"Fancy Nancy."

"I see a theme here."

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Daisy's eight-year-old self is throwing down new talent. Today at lunch, she quickly drew the view from our table on the back of her menu after the waitress set down the cup o' crayons. I have to give Daisy's public school credit for providing a quality arts program with little funding.

Thanks to Daisy's 3rd grade teacher, she carries around knitting needles and knits things. She has received good feedback for singing by herself in front of her class. Daisy asked her music teacher to help her tune up her guitar (not her ukelele). Then, she taught her sister Violet the songs she learned at school.

And with Daisy's new awareness, naturally, there's vulnerability. Today when Violet and I agreed on our lunch destination, Daisy was totally put out. She refused to get in the car. I talked her into the car as Violet ran back up to the apartment for a sweater. Daisy is being soooo moody lately; karma has arrived. While her sister was gone, I told Daisy she is at the age when her mother is going to start really annoying her.

Daisy FREAKED. She started sobbing, "Why didn't you tell me this YESTERDAY? I would have stayed at Dad's! Oh my god!" She opened the door and ran away crying.

Um, what just happened?

Violet returned to report that her big sis was sitting on the base of the stairs to our apartment. She offered to go get her. I decided it was probably worth a try, but she returned alone because Daisy refused to budge.

Violet trailed after me as I walked back and stuck my hand out to Daisy and held her hand as we walked back to the car, "What just happened?"

"I can't believe you're going to start ignoring me now."

NO, I didn't I was going to start IGNORING you; I said I was going to start ANNOYING you. Why would I ignore you? You're my daughter.

"Oh, that's what I thought."

It's getting real.