Monday, April 29, 2013

Bird family

Yesterday when we were driving, Coen and Lucy were watching the birds on the telephone wires and talking about how nice it would be if they could fly.

Lucy: Let's pretend we're birds.

Coen: It would be fun if we could really fly.

Lucy: Yeah.

Coen: What if we were a family of birds?

Lucy: Yeah! And then we could fly whenever we wanted to!

Coen: And I could fly with you

Lucy: We could hold hands when we flew

Coen: And if you didn't know how to fly yet, I could teach you.

Lucy: Or if I was a baby, you could carry me while you flied.

Coen: And then we could, our whole family, fly on vacation. 
We could fly to Portland. We could fly to the Kalahari. And we could fly to Arizona.

Lucy: We could fly to Portland whenever we WANTED!

Coen: And we could fly to visit August and August's family would be a bird family too.

Lucy: And you could help baby Alex learn to fly

Coen: And then we'd fly everywhere and fly on vacation any time we wanted.

Lucy: Yeah.

Coen: It would be cool if we could fly.

Tad and I just smiled at each other as he drove down the highway.  And I thought oh my darlings, you can a way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame

So Coen's in Little League.  If you don't know, it's a pretty big deal. Practice three days a week.  Games 2-3 days a week.  It's IN-VOLVED.

Coen's on a team and everyone else seems to know each other.  But he had his first practice yesterday and after he hit his first ball and it flew way out into the outfield, all the boys said "WHOAH!!!" And I think he'll make friends just fine.

So on the way to his practice tonight, he brought up protective cups.  He doesn't have one, but a good friend of his does and it has been a debate.
"There's this kid on my team." Coen said. "I'm just so glad he's on my team. He has such a sweet throw that if it hit you in the generals, it would REALLY hurt." 
*Let me put in here that everyone in my house refers to genitals as generals because of a one-time misspeak on Tad's part that we all thought was funny.
Coen went on. "Yeah, man. If it hit you in the generals.  You'd be just clutching it.  In CIRCLES!"
"Yeah." Tad said. "We'd all say 'why is that kid clutching his generals in circles?'"

We got to practice only to find out five minutes in that we were at the wrong field. The email said one thing but the schedule said another. I started getting stressed out about Coen being late, already being the odd kid out on the team.  But we arrived and apparently due to the confusion, they hadn't gotten started until late. 

But I remained apprehensive, watching the coaches yell out orders to the kids.  Tad pointed out that I am all about the way energy feels.  "And that's a great thing." he said.  "But sometimes it's more about things being done properly than the energy."
"Yeah." I said, "I don't really care if it gets done properly. As long as the energy's good."

Coen played out in the field until it was his turn to be on deck.  One he was up to bat, he hit a few line drives.  Then he hit the ball and it fouled off the catcher, who fell down clutching his knee and crying.  While the catcher's dad was giving him comfort and helping him back into the gear he'd shed, it was clear Coen was upset and the coach had taken him to the side to talk.  I could see Coen wipe his face, and realized he was crying.  Tad went over.  Took him by the shoulders.  Talked to him. And then Coen was back up at bat and did very well.

Tad returned and I asked him what happened.  It turned out he was upset that the boy had been hurt.  He felt bad for him and was worried about getting pegged himself.  My sensitive child.
"I gave him a real meaningful talk." Tad said, smirking.
"What did you say?" I said.
"Go back there and hit the ball."  He replied, smiling at me.  "That's the good thing about having testosterone. I can just tell him that and he's fine with it."
I laughed. "Yeah I would have taken him off to the side and put him in my lap and said, let's just get out ALL our feelings."

On the way home, talk turned back to the cup. 
Lucy: What is a cup anyway?
Coen: Well a cup is something that you put over...let's just say...if you're a boy you put it over your generals.  And if a girl....  (here he paused)
Me: Girls have generals too.  Every one's got generals.  They're all generals!  (Tad started laughing)
Lucy: What if you just took a cup you drink out of and put it over it!!!  (Coen laughed)
Lucy: Yeah..and then if you were thirsty, you'd just take it out of your pants and get a drink!

Tomorrow is Coen's very first Little League game.  I can't wait to see how it goes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Complaints department

Yesterday was one of those sunshiny days. I picked up two happy kids from school. There was a lot of laughing and silliness over dinner.  Bath time consisted of made up songs and loud singing. 

This morning? Not so much.

We overslept so I sent Tad into the shower while I went to rouse the kids.  Coen was already up and in the process of shutting his door as I came up the stairs.  Lucy just scowled at me. 
"Good morning!" I said cheerfully.
She waved me away with a grunt.
"Well." I continued. "I'm going downstairs." And I lay her clothes out on the floor.
"Mommy!" She called angrily after I'd been down there awhile.
I went back up. She was still tucked beneath her blankets.
"I wanted DADDY to wake me up." She said.
"Well, honey, we slept late, so I'm doing it."
She grunted some more and after her non-verbal protests about me going back downstairs, I went anyway.
Finally she came down and balked at the breakfast I'd set out.
"I don't like cereal!"
"What? You don't like cereal? Since when?"
But I gave in and made her a bagel.   She came marching in the kitchen with her bagel.
"What is this BLACK stuff?" She demanded.
"What? Did you start working for the complaints department this morning?" Tad said.
"I don't like this black stuff."
It wasn't black stuff. It was just the bagel showing through because I hadn't spread the cream cheese on thickly enough.
The morning went on like that and at one point I stomped into the kitchen.
"She's not trying to infuriate you." Tad said.
I knew that.  But she was infuriating me nonetheless.

By the time I kissed her goodbye in her classroom, we'd made amends.  And she is infuriating.  But she's strong. And wild. And my multi-layered girl.  And when she's a teenager. We ALL better look out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The bad news effect.

First of all, let me start with my disclaimers.  1. I am an obnoxious rainbow of idealism.  2. I fully admit that I don't really know what I'm talking about.
So with that, I'll just tell you what I think.  When I heard about the Boston Marathon bombing all over the news (just like when I heard about Sandy Hook and all the other terrible acts of violence and hatred and assault) I was particularly bothered the Media circus.  All over facebook, Logos created, "Iconic Photos"....  It just bothers me.
We are so hungry for details and images and more more more of these horrible, horrible things that happen.  It's all over the radio, the TV, the Internet and the newspapers. Everyone flocks to this news.  And I understand we might know someone in the area that this happened and we are worried for their safety or maybe we're really worried about the safety of human kind in general...I know I am.  But I have to wonder, is the media coverage of all these big, bad events just contributing to the problem?
Why can't we have good news? Why does Fox, NBC , CBS and all those conglomerates have to say things like "Is your child in imminent danger? FIND OUT at 9:00!"  Seriously!  Why can't we say "Tune in at 9:00 and hear stories of families who are doing their best.  We'll take a look at a little school with a big heart.  See how this local woman who makes only $9 an hour to care for other people's children all day LOVES her job."  Wouldn't that be more inspiring?  Wouldn't that make us want to care for our neighbors who are also doing their check out a local think a little more about the things we love about our jobs? 
I don't know about you, but when I see stories about mass killings and violence and sexual assault on human just makes me feel scared and sad and angry.  It addresses the huge things that happen in the form of media drama.  It isn't hope-inspiring. It isn't action compelling. And thus, we stay where we are, in this endless loop.  HUGE horrible thing happens.  We all wonder what to do.  We talk about changing laws, or doing something differently...  But nothing really changes.  To me the media feels like humankind's abusive guardian. We are being groomed to feel afraid, to feel distrustful, to feel a loss of self-worth.  And then the cycle continues.  
Because hearing the bad news? That's what makes people continue to feel unsafe.  To buy guns and other weapons to keep in their houses. To blame other people and groups of people for the problem. To continue living walled into their houses, walled into their souls, not trusting or reaching out to understand anyone who has different values, world views or beliefs.  And yes, during the time of the bad news, people DO reach out and help each other.  I know there are heroes (real people) at these events who help, who throw their lives on the line to care for someone else.  And people reach out and hold vigils and send money and that is great. But that kind of stuff happens every day. We just don't hear about it.
And hearing the good news?  That makes people want to go INTO their communities and check things out.  It makes people like their jobs and their neighborhoods and their families.  It makes people FEEL good.  Maybe if we felt good more often, if that were the job of the media, there would be less hatred and the violent acts therein.
What if the media, for six months, reported on nothing but the goodness of human beings, the day to day reachings out of one person to another, the willingness of two groups to come to a peaceful agreement on something?  Just what if?  Would we see a drop in the widescale senseless acts of violence that six-month period? Maybe? Maybe not?
I wonder.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How children are not always that great for body image

This morning, I came out of the bathroom after my shower to find Lucy running at me, spinning around for me to tie the sash of her dress.  I kissed her on the head and she followed me into my room to watch me get dressed, as she often does. 
Once all my clothes were off, I heard Coen calling from upstairs.  "Mamma, can you come?"
I laughed.  "I can't!"
Lucy yelled up to him "She can't. She's NAKE!"
(My kids love to shorten words, thus naked becomes nake)
"Where are my new socks?!" Coen yelled back.
Honestly. How parenthood suddenly makes you the gatekeeper of people's socks is beyond me!
"I don't know honey! If there aren't any up there--"
Here, Tad steps in.  All three of us were shouting. Coen from his room all the way upstairs and me from mine, all the way down, not to mention, still trying to get dressed.  He holds his hand up as if to say 'I'll take care of this'
"Coen!" He yells up the stairs. "If there aren't any up there, they're probably all in the wash!"

Meanwhile, Lucy is playing Patty Cake on my behind. 
Seriously.  Here I am just trying to get dressed after the shower and I have one child screaming at me for socks and another Patty-Caking my backside!
"Mommy?" Lucy says.  "Why is your butt so wibbly?"

Let us just stop here.  First of all, she is accosting me in the privacy of my own room.  Secondly, she just has to use a made-up word that is way too onomatopoetically accurate. Oh the humanity!

But you know what, I made it through my own terrible body image years of high school and college.  I lived in Europe and suddenly found comfort in my own body through the saunas of Estonia.  I am healthy.  So my kid thinks my butt is wibbly. So WHAT?!

So I answered. "Lucy, my butt is wibbly because I have had two children and I have a lot more skin than I used to."

She skipped off to join Coen (now, much to his chagrin, in old socks) at the breakfast table.  Ahh, parenthood.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Right here Right Now.

Last night, Tad and I watched The 80s: The Decade that Made Us on the National Geographic channel.  It was really fun to watch.  The whole show was about how without the events of the 80s we wouldn't have iphones and Apple laptops.  We wouldn't have cell phones and the Internet.  Hip hop music wouldn't be the international sensation it is today. (Thanks Run DMC....)  Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Tony Hawk skateboards paved the way for the commercial success of products we buy and use today....

Once we were in bed, Tad said, "Maybe Jesus Jones was inspired by watching one of those decade shows, huh?"
"Maybe..." I said.  And then I started singing.

Right here, right now
There is no other place I'd rather beeeeee!

I sang it in dramatic fashion, trying to dance lying down and Tad tried to cover my mouth when I did the high pitched "be".
But he missed me.

"Hey!" I said, "Were you trying to cover my mouth?"
He laughed. "Yeah, but I anticipated you putting your head up on the 'be'".  He demonstrated.
I giggled. "You can't stop me!" And I started singing again.
Tad held me tighter and said. "I really love you.  I really do."

At that moment, there was no other place I'd rather be.  And you know, I wouldn't be where I am today without my own 80s either.  Without the impact the recession had on my family, without the alcoholism in my life, without the liberal activism of my parents, without playing Pac Man and Super Mario Brothers, listening to Kool Moe Dee and Madonna and REO Speedwagon.  Because of all that, I am who I am.  I met Tad. I joined the Peace Corps.  And I came back to do the job I'm doing now. 

Jesus Jones wrote that song at the end of the 80s.  At the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Right when I started high school.  I hope my kids can be part of a generation that comes of age at a markedly different time than what we have now.  I think they can. I look at the children I know, raised by the children and young adults of the 80s.  I hope they can look back on their own years and see a revolution of peace and reconnection.  A breaking point after all the violence and anger and hatred and division....when things started to get better.

My sister and me, circa 1983

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sleep. And the importance thereof...

There was a time when I didn't even really think about sleep. I even tried to avoid it in the name of fun. 

I shunned naps as a kid...I even remember when our mom's cousin (affectionately known to Beth and I as Weegie) babysat for us. She'd tell me that if Beth fell asleep during nap before me, I could get back up. So I'd say, "Elizabeth. Let's play a game. Let's face our backs to each other and then who ever is quiet the longest, WINS!" Inevitably, she'd fall asleep and I'd sneak back out of the room.

In high school I stayed up as late as my parents would let me and, in the morning, after my dad would flick my lights on and off a few times, shouting "It's UPPIE time! UPPIE time children!" I'd be up and at them.

In college, I occasionally stayed up until 3, 4,5 in the morning and got back up at 6 or 7 a.m. to go to class or go to work.  I remember Tad and I on our duplex porch, talking until four a.m. and getting back up at 7:00 to go be  a substitute teacher for MPS.  Sometimes I'd come home and fall asleep on the couch, but as soon as Beth was home from work, I'd pop back up. What, me? Napping? No WAY!

But then I had kids. And now sleep is a major daily life concern.  Will I get enough sleep? Will they get enough sleep?  How important sleep has become!  This weekend Coen had back to back sleepovers and I stressed for days ahead of time about his lack of sleep.  To what end? No end of course! He spent a very tired Sunday but was no worse for the wear.  Tad and I went out on Saturday night and were having a wonderful time. But just before our midnight departure, I remember looking at the clock and thinking We better get going so we can get some sleep!  And then it hit I am on a date night and worried about sleeping.  Since when has sleep been as high in the ranks as fun?! 

Well, I guess the answer to that is: Since I have had two people in my life who's needs must be met, questions must be answered and bodies must be tucked back into bed on THEIR time, not mine.  Oh well. So now I like sleep.  So what!  I better get going.  I might have to go take a nap.

Just kidding. I still don't take naps, unless one strikes me unawares!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Songs to walk around singing obnoxiously when it won't stop raining

1. Raindrops keep falling on my head (country song by BJ Thomas)

Tad feels that this may be the most obnoxious but that could be because I was walking around singing it right to him on our date last night.  I think this is a good number to sing as you walk in to work. All the way to your cubicle.  People really dig that.

2. Singing in the rain (sung by Gene Kelly in the movie of the same name)

Now this one's really fun (and obnoxious if that's what you're going for--which I am--) to sing WHILE you are out in the rain, especially with people who are not enjoying being out in the rain.  Especially if you do a little dancing.  And you close your umbrella for effect.

3. I'm only happy when it rains  (by Garbage)

My favorite use of this song is to start singing it in a really dramatic voice WHILST someone else is complaining about how much they wish it would stop raining.  Like an interruption.
Someone you know: God, I just wish it would stop rai--
You: (in a growly singing voice) I'm only happy when it RAINS! I'm only happy when it's complicated.
Yeah, that's super obnoxious.

4. Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain (The Cascades)

I enjoy singing this one around children.  In the hallways of your child's school, for example. Now if you don't have children or your children are to young for or already out of school, it wouldn't do to go around singing this song in the hallways of some random school . That might alarm people. But if you have a local school at your disposal (where you belong of course) this is a good one to sing around children. They will ask you what you are singing. They also might ask you to stop it. You never know.

AND finally (this was a suggestion by a friend of mine who I just KNEW would come through with a good one.  Thanks Erik.)

5. Sunshine Day (The Brady Bunch)

Now, this one is pretty self-explanatorily obnoxious.  First of all, it's the Brady Bunch. Secondly, it is claiming that it's a Sunshine Day and that everybody seems so happy today. This will be fun because it totally isn't a sunshine day and nobody seems all that happy about it. 

So there you go.  I find it cheers me up to be obnoxious. Go figure.  Maybe it will cheer you up too! 
Because...raindrops keep falling on my head...but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red--crying's not for me, 'cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good morning, good MORNING!

I say I'm a morning person, but I think my husband would heartily disagree.  And this week, I tell you, even I don't feel entitled to say such a thing.

I think I'm still on west coast time.  While Tad's been waking up before the alarm, I've been sleeping right on through it.  He keeps having to wake me and then he sits next to me, as I sit up, bleary-eyed and dazed, and he laughs! 

So yesterday morning, Coen yelled down, "DADDY!?"
Tad went up there and then suddenly he was coming downstairs with both kids, all their blankets and piles of clothing and they all cozied up on the couch.  Confused, I stumbled into the kitchen to find it was 5:55, a whole FIVE minutes before we really had to get up.  I stood there and looked at them.  Then said accusingly, "What is this?"
Tad laughed.
Lucy said, "The FUNDER woke us up!  It's FUNDERstorming."
So then there they were all cuddled on the couch, watching the storm out the window.  There was no room for me. I pouted.
"Why don't you shower first?" Tad suggested.
"Fine." I said and went to do so.

After we were all seated at the breakfast table, after Lucy complained that she didn't ask for milk in her cereal and why did I put milk in her cereal... I explained that I was just crabby because it was early and I was so confused and tired and I wanted to cuddle on the couch too.

"I'm just so TIRED!" I whined.
"Morning person, huh?" Tad said with a smile.
I scowled.

Tad leaned over and touched my arm. And said sweetly, "Do want me to blog about this?"
Good morning, good morning to YOU!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not ETERNAL sunshine

So this morning, I was having some computer issues and our IT manager needed my password and asked me to bring it to him.

Oh boy. 

One of the passwords I use is in Estonian. I knew he'd ask what it meant and then of course I'd have to admit it.

Little Sunshine

"You really are something, you know that don't you?" He said, smiling and shaking his head.

I know. God. Even in my secret password life I'm obnoxiously happy.

But let me level with you.   See this picture?

Obnoxiously adorable isn't it?  We're so in love.  I even made it my facebook cover photo. 
But here's the thing. Here's the truth.  Tad and I were not getting along that day.  I even requested to drive separately to this lovely picturesque waterfall place.  So I could talk about him to Jen.  And just before this picture was taken, I said, meanly "Okay! Let's pretend we like each other right now. Let's pretend we're having fun!"
So I thought you should know.  It's not all roses and unicorns for me either.  I know I'm sort of eternally optimistic. And yes, I am in love.  And I annoy people with my pretty much daily cheerfulness.  But it isn't always like that. It doesn't flow eternal like that waterfall behind us.  And sometimes I have to force it until it works.  I get annoyed with my husband and believe me, he gets annoyed with me.  (Well, maybe that's not so hard to believe).  I, too, get sick of being a mom and want to get in the car and drive to the other side of the country without leaving so much as a note.  I also have days where I stomp around and mutter under my breath, angry at everything and everyone. 
I know sometimes it looks like I am just zippety do dah-ing my way through life, bluebird on my shoulder and everything.  But I promise, I have bad days too.  And I feel miserable sometimes too.  I just try really hard to make things fun.  And, in the end, it's a lot more fun to be happy than not. 
I'm trying not to sound like an infomercial for some sort of wonder drug..but I saw a quote that said, "Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen."  And I guess that's what I try to do.
But I do get mad and irritated and ugly and mean.
I just thought you should know.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Just your friendly neighborhood tortoise

One of the most amusing things that happened in Portland happened one afternoon when Tad went to the famous Powell's bookstore on his own and the kids and I stayed behind to hang out at the house.  Coen, Lucy and I went out on the porch to sit in the beautiful sixty-degree weather and wait for the later convergence which would be Tad's return; Jen, Connor, August and Alex's arrival and the Pizza delivery. 

As we sat, I looked over to the left at our neighbors and saw a rather large tortoise just standing on the bottom of the stoop. 
"Look!" I said to my children. "There's a big turtle over there!"
"WHOAH!" Lucy said.
"Isn't that actually a tortoise?" Coen said.

He/She made his/her way over down the path between the houses, right towards us!  We watched as he just ambled right by and marveled at the fact that there would be a tortoise hanging around. 
"Where did it come from, I wonder." I wondered aloud.
Then Coen saw some people across the street.
"Hey! We have a tortoise over here!" he yelled.
"Well, he's not our tortoise!  He just happed by!" I yelled after him.
The people waved, but kept walking.
Then we saw another neighbor with a child around Coen's age. 
"We have a tortoise!" Coen yelled.
They came across the street.
"Didn't you know about the Portland tortoise?"  The neighbor joked.
Turns out it WAS the next door neighbor's tortoise.  He apparently had only gotten out one other time and was found in the middle of busy Halsey road, cars stopping everywhere!
As we talked and looked at the creature who had made his way to our back yard, Jen and her family showed up and two other neighbors came by, finally taking the tortoise back home.

Tad and the pizza arrived shortly thereafter and the children were very excited to tell him all about our adventure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Home again, home again

Well, we are home from our vacation.  My kids are still solidly on Portland time, having gone to sleep last night at 10:00 pm, despite our most valiant efforts to get them up there and settled at 8.  And they are now cozied up on their usual couch spot watching TV.  It is 9:00 a.m. 

We had a wonderful time and I, as many predicted, could definitely see myself living in Portland.  In fact, I was shopping at a vintage store on our last day and the woman and I were talking about the fashion of our generation-mostly 70s clothes...and the twenty somethings-mostly 90's clothes.  And we chatted about the movies Heathers and Pump up the Volume and then I mentioned that I was there on vacation.  She asked where I was from. After I told her, she said, "Huh! I can usually tell. I thought you were from here."

I felt pretty cool about that.  Which is pretty geeky and sort of sends me back to square one.  But I did let my mid-western accent come out for her for entertainment purposes and she laughed heartily.

Our trip was two-fold  1. Seeing Portland and 2. Seeing our very good friends who moved back there from Milwaukee this summer.  All of it was great.  Coen and Lucy will miss August and new baby Alexander and I will miss my kindred spirit unspeakably much.

Here is our first day: the children playing in the courtyard of our friends' house for many many hours.

Day 2 included a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts and the park. 

We also had dinner with my friend Mindy who I haven't seen in fifteen years!!!

Day 3: We hiked Multnomah Falls.  Pay no attention to Lucy's face. She had a great time AND made it to the top.

We finished the day with dinner at Porque No Taqueria
Day 4: Tad and Coen communicated with Lucy and I via Morse Code and computer at OMSI (The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)

And upon Coen's insistence, we hosted dinner at our rental house.  Here August and Lucy are exploring the, as they see it, problematic cheese.
On our last day there, we ate at Slappycakes, where you make your own pancakes at the table.  I got indulge in some thrift shopping.  We checked out the Children's Museum, and we had dinner with our friends.  Coen cried for a good 1/2 hour at the end of the day.  I completely related.

But we're all settled in at home, albeit with no food in the house, but ready to be Milwaukeeans again.