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4 kittens

The newt play the flute

Posted on 2016.08.21 at 22:17
Everybody is tense in our house! Or at least the kids seem more squabbly than usual. Mostly Hokey Pokey, who has been on a hair trigger lately. I'm banking on kindergarten anxiety. The alternative is that our kid is just a trainwreck. School starts tomorrow!

Everyone loves Ms. M, who will be Pokey's kindergarten teacher. I was relieved to hear that. We met her on Back to School night and she seemed very nice.

Then Ms. M introduced us to her newborn baby, and to Ms. A, who would be her longterm sub. Mrs. M is on maternity leave until mid-October. The substitute seemed a little green around the ears. Behind the ears. The gills? wet near the lateral line? what am I going on about. We shall see how it goes.

Hokey Pokey dressed up as a Veni Yan Kari warrior for costume day, on the last day of preschool:

(from these books)

The carp plays the harp

It was maybe a dull week? I had a lot of dull meetings. People running the meetings mocked Trump a surprising amount, given an audience in the middle of Texas. Even the meeting that included all of the administration, support staff, custodial staff, marketing, admission, coaches, residential staff and student life staff, etc. All the non-academic people who are just holding a regular job, who are somewhat likely to be regular old conservative Texans. Haha, your team's candidate is the watercooler laughing-stock. Maybe you shouldn't vote for such terrible people.

(It actually wasn't a dull week, but it seems impolite to blog about the big fight I had with the chair of our department. It's mostly resolved, and I won't be teaching a fifth class, thank fucking god.)

The plaice play the bass, and they're sounding sharp

Hawaii was in a production of The Little Mermaid:

She did great. She got the biggest laugh, for a Cinderella-sisters-type moment when she is competing for the prince's affection by singing, and singing terribly. She hammed it up and everyone loved it. She delivered all her lines well and knew all her moves without having to watch the other kids. (Aside from Hawaii...is it wrong to pan a children's theater production?  It was pretty unintelligible and hard to follow, even with appropriately low expectations.)

Hawaii starts second grade. I start a regular old semester. Ace and Rascal start different rooms at daycare. Jammies and E. Messily don't start anything, or at least not anything institutional.

The bass play the brass

Ace: mouthing the words Can you hear me? to E. Messily.
E. Messily: No, I can't hear you.
Ace, vocalizing normally: Can you hear me now?
E. Messily: No, I still can't hear you.
Ace: When will you be able to hear me?
E. Messily: Never!
Ace: What about tomorrow?
E. Messily: No.

Ace and Rascal fought in the bath tub a lot, but I did not document those parts:

The chub play the tub

We had a lot of rain this past week, so it has been weirdly not hot. Because of the rain, because of the cabin fever, I took the kids to one of those jumpy castle warehouses today.  It was easy! All the kids had fun! It's a whole new stage of parenting: easy jumpy castles.

E. Messily's tiny rainbow circus became painted and more elaborate:

There are tiny wire fence lines running between the toothpick cage bars, so that the animals don't escape.

I wish I'd photographed it at the raw wood stage. I like documenting evolving art projects. (Although that is E. Messily's photo, which I boldly stole off facebook. No permission asked, like a renegade.)

The fluke is the duke of sole

After the flood last Halloween, this house didn't seem exactly safe anymore. It didn't seem invincible anymore. I've never lived in a house that felt vulnerable before, so maybe I'm naive, but I am used to thinking of houses - that I live in, not other people's houses - as being impenetrable. ('Naive' is one word, but maybe 'wealthy' is more accurate. And 'lucky'.)

I started looking at real estate listings. I really love looking at real estate listings. I love looking at the interior of houses and either picturing a life there, or criticizing the shitty ones. So I've been enjoying the hell out of that.

Some of the houses on our block are being elevated. Our house, of course, is already four feet off the ground, which is why only our insulation got wet while all the other houses were submerged. I started thinking that we should get a quote on elevating our house even further.  If climate change keeps accelerating, the flood lines will keep rising, right? What's the aerial topology map of this area?

So, moving or elevating. One or the other. Both have been on my mind. Having a bigger house seems great. We could move to a place that never floods, and has generous closets, and whole extra rooms, and I could buy abstract art to hang on the walls. There'd be more walls to fill!  There'd be more clutter to accumulate!

Temperamentally I have the opposite of PTSD - I'm unable to maintain the sense that something dangerous could happen.  Maybe that just makes me average.  But also sensible: there is no hurry. We should be wary when there's another El Nino year imminent.

Lately I've been lusting after this house in particular:

To the extent that I sort of want to tour it.  It's kind of a fantasy - 3000 square feet! All those different bedrooms! Beautiful windows and view! Look how much fun we'd have there.

But when I think about the particulars of living elsewhere - entering and exiting a different neighborhood, walking about a different floor plan, knowing our house is a mile away...it feels terrible. My stomach knots up and everything feels terrible. I love our house very much. (As Jammies says, "our house is like a puzzle. How can we figure out places to put things? It's a challenge," and he means that in a tone of admiration for this house. It is a challenge! I don't want to be like the proverbial goldfish who just grows to fit the new, bigger bowl.)(My parents, however, feel strongly that we should move.)

I'd still like to get a quote on elevating the house. And I still wish I had a luxurious walk-in closet. (who knows what will happen.)

4 kittens

The villain and her cat

Posted on 2016.08.14 at 21:46
In these parts, the hottest day of the year, historically, is August 11th (with an average high of 96°). The coldest day of the year, historically, is January 1st (with an average high of 62°).  The solstices are, of course, June 21 and December 21. That means that the hottest day lags behind the summer solstice by 51 days, whereas the coldest day lags behind the winter solstice by merely 10 days. Therefore, our fall is compressed by six weeks, and our spring is lengthened by six weeks. That doesn't seem fair. Spring is nice, but fall is the best. Winter is nice, too. Maybe we should pretend that fall lasts until February and leads directly into Spring.

E. Messily has been making some tiny circus vehicles to house tiny animals:

To give you a sense of scale, the bars on the giraffe's cage are made out of toothpicks.

Hawaii is at theater camp this week and next. They're putting on The Little Mermaid. Three of her friends came over to our house after camp last week, and Hawaii flitted around like a perfect thirty-something nervous hostess, keeping an inane running monologue about features of the house, who sits where at the table, various hijinks and complexities that the guests should be aware of. I don't think she was nervous. Rather, I think that adults ramble like seven year olds when they're nervous, and Hawaii's inflections and mannerisms resemble a 35-year-old.

(I coordinated afternoon childcare with two other parents. My days to watch the kids were Tuesday and Friday. During lunch on Tuesday, I browsed facebook and saw "I guess H still has lice! From over a month ago!" from one of the other parents.  I texted her, "oh no! Did they call you from camp?" and she texted back, "No, I saw it this morning, and sent her in anyway. I'm terrible." YES YOU ARE!!  The kid had an appointment at the lice shop that Saturday, so from Tuesday to Saturday I was hovering and spritzing Hawaii with mint oil. "Hair in a braid or a bun?" I asked every morning. Psychological torture (for me, not Hawaii).)

I jogged for the first time, wearing prosthetics. Hawaii had forgotten her lunch, and I was loping casually back to camp to hand it off to her. Jogging with prosthetics is more pleasant than jogging with real breasts. But less preferable to jogging with no breasts at all.

I walked Hawaii to and from camp each morning, which felt very virtuous and old-fashioned, because it was literally walking down our street, across the park, crossing a river, and then you're there.  On the way home, we stopped at the library one day - even more wholesome. It was hot as balls, though. Around 100°. I sure do hate this time of year.

I like to tell Pokey that the plural of Pokemon is Pokemen. He gets annoyed and corrects me. Maybe the singular of specimen is specimon.

Pokey has been getting out of bed, late at night, and telling us (very seriously) that he has a new feeling. He hasn't been able to find the word for it. After a few times, he said seriously that it was like a new life. We realized that he's probably talking about starting kindergarten. At least I hope that's it, because Pokey has been a bit of a trainwreck for the past three weeks. He had his first wrecking ball tantrum in his summer teacher's classroom. Which is to say that June and July were pretty good.

I will also have a new life: workshops start this week, classes start next week. Life returns to being heavily regimented. I don't mind a heavily regimented schedule qua heavily regimented schedule, but I dislike not having any wiggle room to accommodate things that go mildly wrong.

Look at that tiny star and spokes on the wheels! Maybe an inch tall?

On Saturday I met two Flatties for the first time, that is, women who have skipped reconstruction after having a mastectomy.  We rendezvoused at a Goodwill in Austin to look for clothes that flattered and camoflauged. Both of them did actually have cancer, like a normal person. One of them had reconstruction, but it went badly, and so after eight years or so, decided to have her implants taken out and go flat.  The other one just opted out. Neither of them wear prosthetics, the latter because her doctor told her not to, yet.

They looked so normal, flat. I'd never give them a second look in the grocery store. They both had smaller frames and narrower torsos than I do, so it was only somewhat reassuring to me. Nevertheless, it was sort of emotional and wonderful to hang out with them and try on clothes and debate the finer points of what to wear when you're flat.

This is silly and obvious, but: having breast cancer is so much worse and harder than what I've been through. I'm not thrilled with my situation, but good lord am I glad to have dodged that bullet.

Our kitty OJ lets me pick him up with one arm lengthwise along his belly, like a villain carries his cat, for prolonged stretches. He's quite content to accompany me around the house, puttering about the kitchen or whatever, until my arm gets tired.

4 kittens

Better a bald head.

Posted on 2016.08.08 at 21:28
We have fine-tuned the art of traveling by car during a heat.  We make the kids put on bathing suits in the morning. Mid-afternoon, we target a city big enough to have a splash pad. They run around for an hour, we pick up dinner at some fast food place that supplies toys with its kids meals, and drive the last couple hours to our hotel. We splashed in Billings:

and slept in Sheridan.

In Sheridan,

There was a skybridge over the main drag.

The view was pretty. The hallway was boiling hot and smelled like wax. The combination somehow triggered an intense reverie flashback in me, of summer camp. Of stairwells in dorms that lacked air conditioning, in July. in North Carolina.

The hotel sign loomed large:

Here was the carpet:

 I rather like the second one.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming,

We stopped for lunch. Usually we make sandwiches, but this time we decided to stop at diner that Jammies remembered from childhood. It was the oldest old man diner possible. Here are some of the old man quotes covering the wall:

"God must have loved the plain people, He created so many of them." - Abraham Lincoln
"Better a bald head than none at all" - Austin O'Malley
"My father taught me to work. He did not teach me to love it." - who cares
"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." - no they aren't
"The buck stops here." - whatever, Ike
"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds." - oh shut up.
"I am only an average man, but I work harder than the average man." - congratulations
"There aren't any great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet." - where are the women?
"Don't believe that the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing; it was here first." - yes but can't we cooperate?
"Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs." - Mark Twain

Oh my god, old man, shut up with your self-important grandiose old man quotes. Take your stupid dirty fingernails and protestant work ethic and just relax, okay Pops?

All the patrons were creaky elderly country types. The diner was deathly silent. Our kids were like a disco ball of chaos at our table. After Pokey was mildly disobedient, I hauled him outside just to keep up appearances of discipline. Once outside, he and I just walked around to the convenience store and used the bathrooms.

Jammies did in fact say that the country fried steak was every bit as good as he remembered, though. The french fries were excellent, too - lots of potato skins. My salad was shitty iceberg, shredded American cheese, and chopped grilled chicken. If only it had been made with dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.

In Denver

We frolicked in tony Denver suburbs for a few days. My mom was in Denver to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of my grandmother.  Here is the carpet at the convention center:

Amber fields of grains.

Through spacious modern underwater volcanoes,

Above purple-fruited pains.

This is the speech my mom gave, about Grandma:

My mom"s speech about GrandmaCollapse )

Another award acceptee quoted Woodrow Wilson: It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Another one translated from Yiddish, Your tuchus can only sit in one seat.

But the best was this line, from the bio of some awardee dude's who I never heard of: Grasping the impact of his work is best achieved by imagining the counterfactual condition that would exist had he not creatively pursuedhis agenda. I never heard of you, dude. I'm living your counterfactual dream!

Four years ago, we were in the same convention center in Denver, celebrating my uncle.  Hawaii and Pokey were the same ages as Ace and Rascal are now:

Argh I'm dying. How could they be so little?!

Grandma was also at that conference:

That was back when she had her memory. There's photos of my other uncle, (not the one that was being celebrated), being healthy, before he became very sick with multiple myeloma (although he'd had it for several years at that point.)(He is currently in remission, having recieved one of these experimental procedures like Jimmy Carter got. Quality of life is better but not great.)

Argh, I'm getting swamped with memories.

To Amarillo, to Wichita Falls

After Denver, we did the same splash pad and drive routine, stopping in Amarillo to splash:

and spending the night in Wichita Falls.

Jammies said, “Is that car full of five twelve-year-olds?!”

I took a photo:

“I think they’re puppy dogs,” I said. “Five little puppy dogs driving to Wichita Falls.”

The water in our hotel room tasted like a rusty sweatsock, with strong swampy notes and an algae bloom bouquet. It was so gross that I worried it was unsafe. It was so gross that at breakfast, the coffee tasted rotten and so did the orange juice.

And home again:

The last thing to happen was this:

Jammies bought this ghastly thing for me, because I am one, I suppose.

Now we're home! Today was the worst. We were all so sick of being in the car. We griped and fought, misbehaved and screamed, and got screamed at. It's nice to be home.

Remember my back and neck spasms? This is the anticlimactic resolution: Alleve. Naproxen sodium. It treated the symptoms and somehow cured the underlying thing.

If you’ll note, we did not stay in the Fifth Season Hotel this trip. My beloved Fifth Season.  It’s just that I realized that having a pool at the hotel is not helpful on a road trip, because it's the beginning or end of the day. It’s far more helpful to have a pool or playground in the middle of the day. That way you can drive with tired kids, which is ideal.

4 kittens
Posted on 2016.08.07 at 21:29
I have a post all written and ready to go, but I'm getting error messages when I try to upload photos. I'll try again tomorrow.

4 kittens

This is soooo comfortable.

Posted on 2016.07.31 at 23:13
Lake-related milestones: While being pulled by the boat, Hawaii and Pokey got thrown from the tube, into the lake. And enjoyed it! They also enjoy the slide, as opposed to merely tolerating it.

Ace went on a gentle tube ride and did not enjoy it. Also a gentle jet ski ride which she was neutral on. Also a floaty turtle, which she adored. Rascal likes throwing rocks in the lake. Ace also likes throwing rocks in the lake.

I'm not sure who gets the most improved award - last year Ace was only willing to stick her toes in the water, but Pokey had his broken arm in his cast. Right before we left Texas, Pokey officially also passed his swim test. He can successfully swim across the deep end. It takes him 15 minutes and is exhausting just to watch all that ineffiecient scrambling.

Or maybe me: I finally successfully water skied. For the past few years, I've gotten dragged by my face two or three times, and then given up. But this time I got up and found my balance, and cruised in an arc for awhile.


Scene - on the rocks at the beach of the lake.
Ace: Pick me up!
Me: Put on your water shoes! The rocks always hurt your feet, and you always want to be picked up.
Ace, stepping gingerly on the rocks: No, mom! This is comfortable. I'm soooooo comfortable.
Then she fell to her knees and crawled to the water.

My sister has rasberries on her fingers!

Sometimes the abyss gets me down.

So I close my eyes and dream...

about riding labrador retrievers.


Jammies, his brothers, and I drove up to Glacier National Park and went puttering around on a short trail.  Water can be so powerful, like when it carves out deep crevasses in rock:

It has carved out these deep round grooves. Somehow the scale shrunk in the photos.

Overall, it was very pretty:

I said, it was very pretty:

If I had to describe it, I'd go with pretty:

Things like this make me think "pretty":

But my in-laws' place is pretty too:

and one night the sky was ultra-glowing:


A month ago, I got a call from the plastic surgeon's office. I was visiting with friends, so I did not answer the phone. When I called back the next morning, the scheduler said, "I called you to schedule your surgery for October. But since you didn't answer, I went to the next person. October is all booked up now."
"What!" I said. "But I miss calls all the time!"  We discussed how I'd be out of luck if she called while I was, say, teaching.
I asked, "When will you be scheduling for November? Can I just call you that day?"
The scheduler said no, they don't know when they'd schedule for November. It could be a week later, it could be months. "We have people who have been trying to schedule their surgery since April," she said.

The conversation took a while because I could not wrap my brain around this idiotic, impossible scheduling system. But finally I said, "What if I call you every morning and ask if it's the November scheduling day?"
"That'd be fine," she said, and the conversation ended.

So I did. The next day, she said, "Well, it's not going to be this soon."
"I just want to get in the habit of calling!" I said cheerily.

There were two ways it could go: either I could piss her off and she could sabotage my appointment, or she could admire my pluck and help ensure I got scheduled for November. Or a third possibility: she would not give a fuck either way, and I'd get an appointment for November if I happened to get one.

Most days I just left a message on her machine. I had a little reminder set on my phone to go off every day. "Hi," I'd recite, "This is Heebie. If today is the day that scheduling opens up for November, count me in! I'm a YES! thanks!" and then I'd hang up.

And then amazingly, last Wednesday she answered and said, "Today's the day! It's scheduling day!"  It was hard to believe it actually came to pass, so resigned I was to my daily call.

She then said, "We actually had a cancellation in October. So you have your choice of days, either in October or November."  I chose October. So I think she admired my plucky determination after all. I'm all booked!

My mom has been encouraging me to get the fat injections along with the scar revision. "As you get older, you lose fat in those spots where you need extra padding," she said. "If it's bony now, it will only get worse." On my end, I want to get all the surgeries before I get tattoos. So I'm leaning towards getting the fat injections, too.


The kids found Jammies' sister's old dance recital costumes:

Rascal dances:

Ace dances:


When I got back from Illinois, two weeks ago, I couldn't find my heart necklace. It is my favorite necklace, for over ten years. I was very distraught and saw it as the end of an era, the era in which I wore this heart necklace, the one in which all four kids as babies liked to put in my mouth, and laugh so hard when I made exaggerated ptooey sounds to spit it out.

But then I found it!  In my jeans pocket. I can't tell you how relieved I was.

What a dumb thing to blog about. I think it's a testament to how attached I am to that necklace.


Pokey decided he wanted to make a bow and arrow. He spent a lot of time rambling about how he needed a rock for the tip of the arrow, and a feather for the shaft. He gathered up a stash of supplies, twigs and twine, feathers and rocks. I felt sure he'd have a meltdown when it didn't work out.

But then Jammies helped, and it actually worked quite well.

The arrow does in fact have a pointed rock tip and a feather tail.

The arrow flies about ten feet, fairly straight. (Like time, not like fruit flies.)


Ace cuddled up in my lap, the other night, and sweetly said, "I wish you were real." Oh honey, me too? What are we talking about?

Rascal is in mega-mynah mode. My favorite new phrase of his is a sing-song "Aah  aah AAAHHH!" which was cryptic until we realized it was paired with Ace's "What the heck!" The cadence and timing are the main clues. Now we say "what the heck!" back to him and he is gleeful.

We took away Rascal's pacifier during the daytime. It really emphasizes how many teeth he has. He looks like Stitch:

Not the ears.

He's got some complete sentences all of a sudden: I want some more pizza! I want to see the phone! You mostly understand through context, because his articulation is terrible: Iwa so mo peez! Iwa see pho! That kind of thing.


I told the kids that "hair" is an abbreviation for "head underwear". As in, H-(eadunderw)-air. Hair.

Later Pokey came up alongside me and asked quietly, "Does it
really? Is 'hair' really short for 'head underwear'?" (I told him the truth.)


Apparently Hawaii sings this song to her siblings at night, to the tune of "Hush, Little Baby":
Shut up annoying siblings, shut up now
Or else I'm going to scream out holy cow.
And if you still can't hear my scream,
Your sister's going to buy you some artichoke ice cream.
And artichoke ice cream is not all,
I'm also going to buy you some alcohol.
And if that alcohol's too sweet
Your sister's gonna buy you another treat.
And if you lose that other treat,
Sister's going to buy you something neat.

I think it peters out into a fit a giggles, canonically.


Our housekeeper was showing me photos of her grandmother's house, where her mother now lives. The house has been in the family for over a hundred years. It's in Aguacalientes. The walls are two foot thick adobe, white. It is a hacienda-style, with an open courtyard garden in the center. The bedrooms are all accessed through the courtyard. The door frames come up about halfway to the ceiling. They're currently renovating the house, and she is going back and forth with her mother, trying to get the mother to save and reuse all the original wood beams.

I would like a courtyard in the middle of a house. I would like to be the type of person who fills it with flowers, but I'm more likely to be the kind of person who does not get around to it.


On Tuesday, we start driving home. We stretched out our vacation this year because my mom will be in Denver on Friday, accepting an award on behalf of my grandmother. So we stayed in Montana for nine days instead of five or six, and we'll stop in Denver for three days. Total, we'll be away for 18 days. I can't remember the last time I was away for that long.

At hotels, here's how we sleep: Rascal goes in the pack-n-play. Jammies and Hawaii share one of the queen beds, and Pokey and I share the other. Ace puts her sleeping bag in between the two queen beds. Sometimes Ace climbs in one of the beds.

One time I was so smushed between Pokey and Ace that I got up, and laid down in Ace's sleeping bag. It's a dinky indoor sleeping bed, with a picture of Anna and Elsa from Frozen on it.  It came up just past my waist. I just needed some space long enough to fall asleep - halfway through the night I climbed back in bed with them.

Last Tuesday, we went to watch a movie at an airplane hangar:

with a small museum:

A bomb or a missile. I think Jammies said a bomb, because it would just drop from a plane.

It was stiflingly hot and late for a school night and we sort of regretted it. They were showing Inside Out, which we've all seen a dozen times.

I don't think any of these planes were the kind of planes where the propellers had to be timed with the guns, because the guns shot through the propeller, so if it misfunctioned you could shoot yourself down. I've always been curious to see one of those.

and back in the museum:

They explained who Kilroy was, and why he was where he was:

"Kilroy was here" is an American popular culture expression that began appearing during World War II. It was typically drawn as grafitti and appeared in ordinary, but sometimes outrageous places. In theory, he was an American soldier who travelled all over the world scrawling the immortal phrase. In realty, whoever got there first most likely claimed the area or object for "Kilroy." The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up. The torch of the Statue of Liberty, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Marco Polo Bridge in China were some of the more famous places he appeared. Quie often he would appear wherever United States servicemen were stationed, encamped, or visited. An ad in Life magazine noted that WWII era servicemen were fond of claiming that "whatever beach-head they stormed, they always found notices chalked up ahead of them that 'Kilroy was here' ", implying you're too late, Kilroy got here before you!

Scamps, all of them.

Rascal was here!

Cut to a different scene:
"All those years ago!" argued Pokey, debating lyrics with Hawaii.
"No, it's 'all those years before'!" argued Hawaii.
I played the song, and we all listened to King George sing "All those years ago".
Hawaii missed a beat while her mental gears turned. But then turned to Pokey, bent her knees with enthusiasm and said "We were right!! It was exactly what we said it was!"
Pokey was confused and called her out on it. She continued the improvised camraderie and protested. They fought. It ended with Hawaii in tears, crying sadly that Pokey was calling her a liar and she was being victimized. It was impressive.

Hawaii is masterful.

Here is the second example: Jammies watched Hawaii, Pokey, and young Cousin B go down to the basement, and said quietly to me, "She's setting them up for something." A few minutes later, Mimi found the refrigerator door open, and the boys sneaking cookies. So all of the kids got cookies. We were very suspicious. Later Hawaii confessed to Mimi that she'd told the boys where to find the cookies, and then had sat back and let them get in trouble, knowing Mimi would give her a cookie to keep things fair. MMM-HMMM.

Cut to minivan, on the road again
On Thursday, we drove through Llano:

and spent the night in Abilene. This was in the hotel lobby:

"Noah's ark", it says. Two racoons, one opossum, and one...what is that thing? A badger? All paddling in a canoe.

North Texas was northern.

Silos in Dalhart were industrial:

Kids were excited to pose in New Mexico:

and I tried to get a group photo:

Colorado on Friday. Wyoming on Saturday, to Billings. Across Montana on Sunday. It was very nice to arrive here, at my in-laws house.

I cannot stand how long it is taking to upload photos. I'm sorry. Maybe I'll finish this mid-week. Maybe you'll never believe that the roads in Wyoming are pink. Maybe you'll have to remember that I documented them in 2015 and 2014.

We shared a picnic table at a playground in Caspar, Wyoming, with a mother and her two kids. It turned out that they were headed to Montana as well. In fact, the same lake. In fact, the same road. In fact, their cabin is one cove over from my in-
law's. Small world.

Regal kitty:

4 kittens

Sheared off and dangling on your shoulder

Posted on 2016.07.17 at 23:01
I must have discussed my neck and back problems here - it's been going on for almost a year, and I'm a champion complainer. Earlier this summer I went to a sports medicine PT pseudo-doctor.  He alleviated much of the symptoms with intense massages and a list of stretches. I asked if we could get to the root of the problem.  I'm doing something weird in my sleep, and start to wake up partway through the night. I asked if it would ever go away.  "Nope!" he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "you'll have this for the rest of your life! You can just manage it with stretches and strengthening." Depressing! A friend told me that hers had been treated and cured with a weeks' worth of muscle relaxants, but I wasn't sure how to explain that to a doctor.

So finally I went to a med clinic. And the nice lady doctor said, "You should take muscle relaxants for a week. And ibuprofen."  She said that there was some deep irritant and the muscle was clenched up around it, and we needed to break that cycle and get the muscle to fully relax. "Take them for a full week, even if you feel better," she said. "If they make you too groggy, just take them at night."

Hooray! What happened?

Well, I took one at 3 pm that day. I got very drowsy and struggled to keep it together during the dinner and bedtime routine. Then I passed out. I slept like I was entombed in a brick, and woke up feeling weird. I didn't feel normal until 11 in the morning.

Since then I've been taking half and quarter pills. I feel great while I'm on the muscle relaxants, but not when I'm not. I'm not sure what to make of all this.


On Wednesday, Jammies and I took everything out of half of the mezzanine. I forgot to take a before-photo, but here's the spread of stuff, downstairs:

We spent all day sorting all of that crap and finding homes for the stuff we kept. It is a great relief, because the mess up there had weighed heavily on me and going upstairs made me feel panicky and clausterphobic.

Here's the upstairs, empty:

and another angle, after I ditched the rug:

(This is my half of the mezzanine.)

My plan is to make a reading nook for the kids. My other plan is that the mezzanine railing should be less of a shin-height tripping hazard and more of a safety measure. I'd like to replace it with a regular railing.

Decorating for a reading nook will be tricky, because the vibe up there is depressing. It feels like a haunted summer camp. The light blue walls - Aviary Blue* - are soothing and cool downstairs, but up in the mezzanine they feel shadowy and shed-like. It's not a very nice space yet. I've got ideas.

(One time the contractor brought a client by to look at the finished space. The client really liked the wall color. "It's Aviary Blue," I told her. The client and the contractor had a discussion about her project, and they kept saying Avery Blue. I interjected "aviary, not avery," once or twice, and said, "like birds" and then gave up.  It occurred to me that probably everyone says Avery and that the people at Lowe's would easily locate the color.)


I spent the weekend in rural Illinois, visiting a dear friend. Most of Illinois looked like this:

ie vast cornfields. Such corn, very farm. Much idyll.

We decided to find parts that were un-corn-like, which took us here:

Lake Clinton. It's the coolant for a local nuclear reactor, and there's a little tourist beach along the lake. It's the weirdest place. Visually it looks chilly and northern, but then you walk in to hot water, and you soak and feel languid. We bobbed around until we were prune-handed. The water is 90 degrees, I think.

The next day we went to this weird place:

a forest in the middle of cornfields. It's the home of a ritzy estate, the Robert Allerton Park. The ritzy Victorian weirdo put paths to sculptures deep in the woods. There are miles of hiking paths, leading up to things like this:

At the top of that flight of stairs, is this:

The Last Centaur. It looks like he doesn't have a head, but he does:

It's just sheared off and dangling on his shoulder.

And this Sun-singer:

It was a neat place to explore. Then back to the corn for the drive home.

My friends live in a new development. There are a bunch of houses with this same design:

Apparently it is a thing in Illinois to make your garage into an open porch-den. Instead of parking your car in your garage, you have a couch and TV and fridge in it, and you open the garage door and semi-avail yourself to your neighborhood while also munching on chips and watching TV.  I can see the appeal, maybe.

The house in the photo is still being constructed. I didn't manage to snap a photo, but when the garage door is open, you can see that the garage runs the full depth of the house. Which means...there's not much house there, besides garage. I think 2/3 of that house is garage. Maybe there's a basement?

We also went to see hot air balloons, but those are cornfield-compatible, not cornfield-contrasting, like the lake and the estate.

My favorite was a harlequin one, lit up towards the left.


I have shingles!  My friend that I visited is super pregnant, and my sister-in-law who will be in Montana with us is super pregnant, so I'm violating the one thing they tell you: to avoid women who are about to have babies, and newborns.

Apparently with a course of acyclovir and keeping it under gauze, it should be fine for them. For me, it's super itchy. But none of the nerve pain that makes it really painful.


This Thursday, we leave for Montana. Stay tuned!

4 kittens

Tolerated my explanation

Posted on 2016.07.10 at 22:44
Oh another week of summer. I went to lots of doctor's appointments: the dermatologist, the gynecological oncologist, the dentist, the math doctor, the water park doctor. It was Ace and E. Messily's first time going to Schlitterbahn.  We probably should not have taken Ace.  When Pokey was three, he loved this frog:

but Ace would not go near it, nor any other extremely tame slide for small children.

In the far left of this picture, you can see a flight of stairs:

This was Ace's favorite ride - the stairs lead to a ramp going back down again. Calling it a "ride" is my idea of a joke. The kind of joke you have to explain. (But really, she went up and down about fifteen times. It was shaped like a little treehouse.)

All in all, it was not our finest Schlitterbahn trip. We forgot that the kids had dentist appointments in the morning, and so we didn't get there until past 11 am.

We are gerbil-sitting for a friend. The gerbils' cage (and the gerbils themselves) have been relegated to the bathtub because otherwise the cats pushed the cage all over the living room. So they sit in darkness, in the bathroom, until the light switches on and the room is filled with aggressive cats or screaming children. Rascal in particular shrieks and tries to bang on the cage a lot. It's a rough week for the gerbils.

I am doing my summer meetings with my grad school advisor. It is healthy for me to be demolished in intellect and to remember how awful graduate school is. I like the project we're working on, though.  I like going down to the river and thinking about math:

It was even prettier, rippling and glittering at a lively pace. Water clear and blue. (It looks gross brown in the photo, but that's actually just sparkling sunshine and amber-colored memories.) I thought hard and came up with clever mathematical ideas, which my advisor eviscerated. Or rather, he tolerated my explanation and then re-phrased it back to me using grown-up math which I am now supposed to write up. It is a good thing I have no math ego.

This summer is intensely summer. I have not worn a bathing suit so much in decades. Also I am so breezy and cool without breasts. It's like a 10 degree difference in comfort, I'd estimate. (I am 10 degrees more self-conscious, though, so overall comfort is a net-zero.)

I should really photoshop these images if I want to convince you that it's pretty.

"This is my toothbrush, and this is my vice-toothbrush," said Pokey, holding up his regular toothbrush against the new one that he'd gotten at the dentist. "It's my back-up in case something happens to my regular toothbrush."  That's an excellent prefix which I will be sure to incorporate more broadly into my daily lingo.  Be sure not to let your toothbrush, vice-toothbrush, and secretary of toothbrush all ride in the same car in case of an accident.

Captain toothbrush.

On Saturday night, the baby-sitter showed up at 8 pm, which is basically the kids' bedtime. "Not much for you to do!" we told her cheerfully.  "They're dressed for bed, teeth brushed, finishing up cartoons. Read 'em a couple stories and send them to bed!"

When we got home, late, I asked the babysitter how it had gone.
"Great!" she said, "They put on a talent show!"
I sputtered in surprise, but she didn't seem to notice. "No kidding," I said, "A talent show. What time did they get to bed?"
"Oh, around 10," she said.

Wow, new babysitter, you got played hard. Also I wish I could have seen it!  Apparently the acts were: a rock and mineral display, some artwork, some piano, and some magic tricks.

(The kids were total tired-scream-zombies the next day.)

4 kittens

A List of Depictions of Recent Quality Times

Posted on 2016.07.04 at 23:08
Jammies is back from Korea!  Land of be-bim-bop:

His reintroduction to civillian life was kind of rough. I thought the house had only taken a mild beating in his absence. But Jammies' tolerance to mild disorder had disappeared. Between deep sighs, he kept pointing out that the cat's food was six inches to the left of its proper spot, that the cutting boards were oriented lengthwise instead of longwise, that the chairs had all drifted slightly backwards towards the walls.  It's all true, although I was unaware that the cutting boards had an preferred orientation.

(By now his grim life resignation has happily re-established itself. Home again.)


My mom and I took Hawaii to the library, to exchange Junie B Jones books. ("Junie B Jones is a Neurotic Kvetcher", "Junie B Jones Possibly Has Speech-based Nervous Tics", and "I Would Leave JBJ at a Roadside Stand.")  When we checked out, the librarian told us that we had $1.25 in late fees. I tried to do calendar-math in my head, because I'm pretty sure it had been 2.5 weeks, and you get them for 3 weeks.  Simultaneously, my mom launched into a long explanation of how the late fee system works at her library.  (Admittedly, it sounds progressive and interesting - automatic renewals, no late fees, reminder emails. You just can't check out any new books until you return your old books.) My mom was not monitoring the cognitive load of the poor librarian, who had started a conversation with me, and was now trying to politely track three different conversations. (Hawaii was timidly checking out.) So I didn't pin the librarian down. She did say that she couldn't see any details in her computer, besides the fact that the books we had dropped off a few minutes ago had accumulated late fees.

I got home, checked my calendar, and I was super fucking right. That $1.25 was levied in error. It is a very empty, pyrrhic feeling. The library staff deserves charitable thinking and courteous manners, not $1.25-based investigative journalism. I really, really want to explain to them that I was right about the calendar. That's my one singular genius - putting events in chronological order - and deep down I know I just have to eat this one.

Passed out, cramming for Baby Finals.


We took Pokey and Ace up to see some family friends in North Austin. Pokey asked for some paper and markers. Then he made a solar system. It turns out that he knows basic facts about the planets and the order they go in. (They've been studying the solar system at school.) I clearly had no idea that he knew about this stuff. "That's a nice red planet." "Duh, mom, Mars. Mars is red. Uranus is on its side. Pluto is over here because it's a planetoid."

The scene seemed staged for my own personal glory, as I inadvertently fed him soft pitch balls for him to knock out of the park in front of these friends of ours. I couldn't have written a more flattering scene if I'd tried. "Oh gosh, is he spouting knowledge again? Who can keep track. Kids today, with their ceaseless appetite for learning."

That family had been making snake habitats. The next day at school, Pokey said he wanted to make a snake habitat. So his teacher also had the impression that he is just chock full of creative ideas, and I just smiled when she described it to me.

Pokey has been hard at work lately. At bedtime, he says, "I need a pencil. I have a lot of work to do tonight." Then he comes periodically after lights-out, to drop off his work - drawings of various lego sets that he wants for his birthday, drawings that he gifted the rest of us. I enjoy the notion that he's taking work home from the office and is just swamped with work.

Here are the gifts he made us. Each is a list of depictions of recent quality times he's had.

For me:

Row 1, left: eating an egg salad sub with me. 1, right: Showing me his solar system.
Row 2: me hugging him after he was in trouble and sent to his bed.
Row 3: Pokey and I looking for our water bottles.
Row 4/5: Me up in the mezzanine, retrieving the arrows that Pokey and Hawaii shot up there, while they watch from below.
Row 6: Showing us his snake habitat
Row 7: a household portrait.

This is the present he made for Hawaii:

Row 1: a household portrait
Row 2: Pokey and Hawaii listening to me read James and the Giant Peach.
Row 3: Pokey and Hawaii watching videos on E. Messily's computer.
Row 4: Pokey and Hawaii cheering on the kayakers in the Texas Water Safari.
Row 5: The two of them watching TV
Row 6: and playing with Pokey's bow and arrow.

Here are the scenes he drew for Ace:

Playing with her castle together, playing paw patrol together three different times, walking together, and a household portrait.

I did not catch all the explanations of Jammies' list of quality times. The whole thing was very thoughtful of him. Just swamped with work, Pokey is.


Rascal can say "airplane" and knows his animal sounds, but inevitably it sounds like he's mewing. He has a very sweet, high-pitched voice. He's really into throwing things - toys at your head, food from his plate, his plate itself. Stop it, Rascal! (Ace calls him "Moes", almost exclusively. Like Dwight's cousin from the office, or maybe the scale of mineral hardness.)

Ace says funny things: "Last night, Abby ruined my life!" about a girl in her class. "Oh?" I responded. It turned out to be some sort of playground disagreement, incoherent in the ways of three year olds, but Ace was very insistent about the life-ruining figure of speech. Not a life-ruining emotion - she told it rather happily and enthusiastically.

Also she and I were arguing about whether or not she could eat three tacos. I said she'd be full after two. She said sternly,  "I want to eat a taco, a second taco, and then another second taco."  I thought that construction was pretty good.


I had my worst P&Z meeting yet. I went 0 for 3 on convincing my fellow commissioners that they should adopt my perspective.  All three were fairly minor points with low consequences, so I didn't want to squander goodwill making a big stink about them. Nevertheless, there was a clear right answer and wrong answer in each case, and I'm annoyed.  I am finding that I'm not very convincing up on the dais. I do not like to appeal to people's emotions and apple pie and children's health. I like to start from an axiom, describe a sequence of implications and therefore the natural conclusion follows. It works really well in math class. Gut feelings are generally stupid.


For the 4th of July, we went to a hot, sticky, sweaty block party full of hippies and young people. It was a nice scene.

Ugh mom, we're so hot.

There were a bunch of slip-n-slides and baby pools, though.

Ugh mom, we're so exhausted.


This summer has slipped down the drain. The remaining bit is all over-scheduled and sad. I do not feel rejuvenated and ready for school.  Years ago, I spent a Fall Faculty Workshop sitting next two guys from the humanities side of campus. The president's speech went: "When you find yourself untouched by the enthusiasm of the new year, that's when it's time to quit." Except he took about twenty minutes to say that. The theologian and philosopher were rolling their eyes and muttering under their breath about for how long it's been time to quit. I was chuckling but also a bit alienated, because I did enjoy the bustling back-to-school feeling. I'm happy to report that I'm no longer alienated from their muttering. I now start the school year with dread, mostly. 

4 kittens

Self-piteous Mewing

Posted on 2016.06.26 at 22:14
I need a peptalk. Jammies left for Korea yesterday morning for a week. My parents arrived last night. E. Messily is here. I need a reassuring soothing peptalk (full of lies) about how good a parent I am, and how much energy I have for parenting. And how having four total adults in the household doesn't invalidate my tired whiny puny desire for sympathy.  E. Messily made us dinner. My parents cleaned up afterwards. My poor parents must be exhausted - we all went to the pool, they made cookies with the kids, they stayed in the game all day long. AND YET!  I'm the one who wants sympathy! I want my waahmbulance. (Maybe they want sympathy too, but I've got the mic.)

(At dinner, my mom made a pleasant-smalltalk comment about how wonderful a pianist her friend's seven year old daughter is. How the daughter memorizes songs so easily and plays them so beautifully. My kids did not give a shit one way or the other, but I was zapped intensely, some 30-year old neural pathway just electrocuted with a jolt of lightning. When I was young, my mom would rave endlessly about the talents and virtues of kids in my class, mostly kids that she knew independently of me, from the ballet studio, and I would seethe with super-ugly jealousy and rage. At this moment, in 2016, my thought was more or less, you will not do that shit to my kids. But of course my kids don't care. They're not primed to jealousy of their grandmother. They've got a whole different set of neuroses and anger towards me which I'm whistling by in the dark, which I'm sure they'll explain at length to me in the future. And which will be also unjust to me.)(also what an ungrateful jerk I am! My mom just spent all day playing with my kids and helping keep things from unraveling, and here I am telling a story about an ancient grievance.)

Here is a time I stood on my hands:

I've shown this picture to everyone because I'm so proud of myself. (The box is helping stabilize my arms.)

This feels like a real summer, mostly because I've been in the swimming pool about five times every week. As opposed to last sumer - massive flooding and Pokey's broken arm, and we basically never got in any water. This summer feels American - sunscreen and hot cement and pool noodles. (Hot cement is so USA. You don't know about it, out there.)  The swim lessons are paying off, too - Hawaii swam across the deep end and thus passed a swim test.

Do you know the meme that goes viral every summer, "Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning"? The gist of it is that movies have misled us. Drowning isn't thrashy and dramatic, it looks like "climbing a ladder". It's silent. The meme uses that phrase - climbing a ladder, head barely in and out of the water.  The point is to terrorize parents only a little bit. It's a creepy image! Anyway, that is how Pokey swims - like he's climbing a ladder and drowning. He's not very good yet. (At dinner on Wednesday: "It's good," said Pokey, "but my tummy is too full of pool water. I can't eat anything.")

I haven't checked the back deck any morning this week, to see if anyone is sleeping back there. I really thought I would but I guess I'm abentminded.

I guess this kitty litter isn't going to scoop itself. I should sign off and do it. And make the coffee. And prep the kids' school stuff. Shit, I hope nothing needed to be washed. And set the alarm for 4:15 am to take my dad to the airport, in the waahnivan.

4 kittens

Upholstery fabric being exactly right

Posted on 2016.06.19 at 22:51
On Thursday morning,  I opened the back door to the deck, to get Ace's towel from the railing. A man was curled up in one of our green plastic porch chairs, facing away, the back of his head maybe a foot from where I stood.  He was just wearing a bathing suit, and wrapped in our towels and Hokey Pokey's bathrobe. His hair was cut like Jammies', and for a second I couldn't understand why Jammies was sleeping on the porch. The man snored. I realized it was not Jammies and slammed the door shut.  Heart in throat, adrenaline coursing, wild-brained, etc. It was quite a jolt.

Pokey was with me. I called Jammies and told him there was someone on our deck. "I'm turning around and coming home," said Jammies.  It was about 6 am. "I'm calling 911," I told him.

One of my thoughts was, "Does this happen all the time?!" After all, I never go out on the back deck in the morning. Does he crash here often?

I called 911. Pokey was quaking and frightened, but by now I was feeling more relaxed again - the guy was solidly asleep, snoring loudly. I described the guy, and said he was passed out and could someone please get him elsewhere? E. Messily woke up, the kids woke up, we all hung out at the front of the house. The cop showed up. It took him several minutes of trying before he could get the man to rouse. Clearly the guy was super drunk last night, in his bathing suit from the river, and couldn't find the house he was looking for. None of it was particularly scary, but if our door had been unlocked, we might have found him on our couch. Lock your doors, folks.

Afterwards, the cop asked us if it was our towel, and we said it was. About ten minutes later, the cop came back with our towel. We put it in the washing machine.

"But seriously, why didn't he take the couch instead of the chair?" wondered E. Messily, "If I were sleeping out there, I'd take the couch." Also she is very tickled that I thought it was Jammies for a moment, by the idea that Jammies could be fake-having a job. That each morning, he clears his throat and calls out, "I'm off to work, honey! With my briefcase and professional demeanor!" and then shuts the door and sneaks around to the back of the house, to snooze in his bathing suit and enjoy the day.

It is kind of funny!

On Friday we drove to Grapevine, Texas, to stay at the Gaylord Texan Hotel with my California brother and his family. The Gaylord Hotel is a study in knock-off classiness. It has all the hallmarks of class anxiety - grandiose scale and inflated price tags - but no actual class. Here is a completely fake tree in the atrium:

We spent most of the weekend at the affiliated water park.  Blaring music, sensory overload. Riding around the circular lazy river felt a lot like doing laps at the roller rink:  "Let's Hear It For the Boy!" and jostling along cheek to jowl with all these strangers in their tubes.

See the Texas Flag bucket at the top of this structure? (via)

The bucket is probably the size of a small bathroom. Those longhorns continuously fill that giant bucket up with water. Every three or four minutes it tips over. It is like an explosion - loud, overwhelming, and a little painful if you're directly underneath.  Ace wanted no part of it, and spent a large part of the weekend under the umbrellas at the table.

My brother pointed out that our kids are super cuddly and constantly want to be in our laps, snuggling, sleep next to us, and so on.  I have taken this for granted. He said that his kids climb on him, but they almost never calm down and cuddle. I am glad to have this drawn to my attention - how nice to have cuddly kids! Let's all nuzzle.


Father's day!  Hawaii made Jammies a shirt:

and a card:

"Happy father-daughter, lovey-dovey, rosey-tosey, super-duper, Texas peanut perfect Father's Day!" That's pretty poetic, Hawaii!  She was very pleased with herself.


The kids have been funny:
1.  Hawaii thought the song was called "Hopeless" instead of "Helpless".  Pokey thought the song was called "The Boomberry Happens" instead of "The Room Where it Happens". Yes, all we listen to is Hamilton.

2. "Then one day, James's mother and father went to London," I read to the kids, from the opening scene of James and the Giant Peach,  "to do some shopping, and there a terrible thing happened. Both of them suddenly got eaten up, in full daylight mind you, and on a crowded street, by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from the London Zoo."
Pokey rolled his eyes and huffed. "Rhinoceroses are vegetarians," he said scornfully. True!
"They must have been really angry, then!" I told him.  (Also deer eat meat. Occasionally.)

3. Ace said, "I snabbed it out of your hand!" which is a nice portmanteau onomatopoeia, or as they say, portmanamatopoeia. Port-mahna mahna-poeia.  I hope snabbed catches on.

4. Rascal really likes Brown Bear. He turns the pages at breakneck speed, and you sort of give up on reading, until he gets to this page:

This is his favorite page. He lets you read it, and then he quizzes you on them, pointing to the different animals out of order. He likes to stay on this one page forever, pointing around and commanding your attention.

Also I love this video:


I had an appointment with a plastic surgeon. This is the guy that came and talked with me immediately before surgery. He is so nice and caring and is very enthusiastic about my tattoo plans (unlike the surgeon who did the actual surgery, Mr. Are-you-triple-sure? quadruple-sure? double-secret-probation-sure-you-don't-want-reconstruction?)

Here are possibilities: a scar revision for the hypertrophic portion of the scars, fixing the small poochiness on both sides, and fat injections for some of the dents and boniness. I would like to do the scar revision and de-pooch the pooches. The fat injection requires liposuction, and apparently I'd need to take a week off work and then be sore for two more weeks and I guess I'm a big surgery wimp, but the dents don't seem bad enough to warrant liposuction.


I bought suit fabric. I settled on this blue floral:

I wanted the suit to be both ridiculous and dignified. It turns out that upholstery fabric is exactly right for balancing those two impulses.  I felt well-understood by the couch people.

4 kittens

A Usual Round-up

Posted on 2016.06.12 at 23:02
Rascal now has a conversation, with himself:
First he throws something. Then he says, "I throw!"
Then he holds out his hands and says, "Where iggo?"
Then he points and exclaims, "There it is!" triumphantly. (And lo, there it is.)



My grandmother has a story about Saran Wrap, and how the serrated edge used to be on the top edge of the box. After you tore off a piece, the raw edge of the Saran Wrap would glom on to the roll, and the next time you wanted a piece, you'd have to find the edge and pick it off the roll.

Then they moved the serrated edge down to the bottom edge of the box. Now when you tear off a piece, the raw edge of the roll stays stuck to the box, for easy access for your next use. "The obvious isn't obvious until it's obvious!" exclaims my grandmother, at the end of this story. You would not believe how long it would take her to tell that story.

Ace has these velcro shoes:

See how the velcro forms a single U shape? It can't slip out of the eyelets. This is my Saran Wrap moment, and I will bore the fuck out of my grandchildren with this uninteresting design improvement. (I will start off with my grandmother's Saran Wrap story and when they think I'm at the punchline, I'll launch into the Velcro Sequel for maximum manipulation of their attention.)

I guess that one wasn't really about Ace. But she just told Jammies, "When I grow up, I want to play hockey with you."   Jammies said, "I know, sweetie. We can do that,"  and Ace said, "Well, you're going to have to hold my hand."  Awwwwwww.

She then said, "When I'm a grown up, do I have to sleep in my same room?" Jammies said no, she could sleep where she wants.  "Good," said Ace, "I'm going to sleep in your room, between you and Mommy. I like your bed."



Cannot touch his toes. He's maybe mid-shin, when he reaches down. I know that I also was not able to touch my toes as a kid, but it's still startling. He's only 5 years old!

Also he took apart this slap bracelet:

A tape measure?! Like, they destroyed an actual tape measure to make this bracelet? You'd think Big Slap Bracelet could source that at the tape measurer factory and have their stock diverted, just before the yellow paint gets applied.



We have a nice routine going where I bark "Son!" and she growls back, "I'm not your son," as taken from the dialogue between Washington and Hamilton.  (After the car crash, Washington says, "I can't operate on Hamilton, he's my son!" He's his DAUGHTER you sexist.)

Also I think she's actually very close to being able to swim?

She seems much more relaxed and happy now that school has ended. I'm not sure what is underlying that.



Acquired this bookshelf, on the left:

What a lovely piece of furniture. At the estate sale, it looked like a normal-sized bookshelf in a small room. In our house, it looks like a giant piece of furniture in a very large room. There's some perspective weirdness at play - the estate sale had (metaphorical) big building blocks, but then they were used to make proportionally normal rooms. Our house has (metaphorically) very small building blocks, but used to make proportionally big rooms. It's like comparing a dress with fabric with a giant print (the estate sale house) versus a dress with fabric with a tiny print (our house). The new bookshelf is a boutonniere pinned on each of the two dresses. (Or maybe a Texas homecoming mum.) Pinned to the Texas mum is a very labored analogy.

Also a local politician asked me to have an official position in her re-election campaign. I said, "you should find someone else who wants the publicity. But if you're stuck, I can be back up." A week later she said, "We talked about it, and we chose you!" I wrote back and said, "I really, really don't have time in the fall" and started to panic about over-committing myself.  She said to come to a campaign meeting and try it out.

At the campaign meeting, I got three hours of insider gossip and wow. It was exactly like being a 9th grader and having the seniors ask you to sit with them at the cafeteria.  Half the gossip concerns people you've never heard of, but it all has wonderfully salacious gravitas. It was super fun.

Being a publically-elected official seems awful. Campaigning alone would make me drive off a cliff. But I like the idea of being informed and opinionated, and maybe in a decade I could be a person behind the scenes. I like the idea of having influence.

Jammies: May get shipped out to Korea again next week. We won't find out until the last minute, as usual. I got angry all over again remembering how they shipped him over there for a week when Rascal was three weeks old.  I really, really resent that.

Jammies isn't even assigned to this project. Another guy is on his honeymoon for three weeks, so Jammies would be the substitute if the Koreans demand someone to yell at in person.

E. Messily: has offered to sew me a pantsuit. I'm so incredibly excited. I'm picking fabric.

Maybe a blue floral:

Or a different blue floral:

Or monkeys:

Or a blue floral:

You may recognize that last one from the bag that E. made for me, but I keep coming back to it. It's also available in mustard and green.

Anon: Obviously there was a huge massacre at the gay night club in Orlando last night. It's one of those tragedies that colors everything. I always feet a bit idiotic not acknowledging that something awful occurred, but my reactions are not particularly interesting or notable. Of course I feel horror and shock and sadness, but not in any unique way that anyone needs to read about.

4 kittens

Onto the Larger Carousel Structure

Posted on 2016.06.05 at 21:36
Hokey Pokey and I went on a special trip, just the two of us.

to Atlanta. Atlanta is such a great city.

We visited my dear friend S who teaches aerial ballet and math.

We arrived via airport, as one does:

and Pokey was inspired to build an airport. Or he started to.  He mostly worked on this luggage carousel:

See the black suitcase passing out the mouth of the converyer belt onto the larger carousel structure?

He hasn't yet built the terminals. Don't tell Jammies that S said she would mail the airport home.

We went to a museum:

I would like to learn more about megafauna. Like giant sloths:

and what is this carnivorous giant bird?

And this frightening boyish stegosaurus?

We went to a 33rd birthday party for a friend of S.  Of their circle, two people recently had babies. Both babies came to the party. They were cute and cuddly. The group of friends is clearly not used to five year olds, even ones who are relatively calm and well-behaved. Pokey was not destroying stuff, but he was climbing on me. He was not running through crowds of adults, but he did like the cupcakes. I remember finding full-blown kids a little unfamiliar and rowdy, when Hawaii was a baby and toddler.

Each evening Pokey wept that he hadn't spent enough special time just with me. Each time I was bewildered. I tried to validate his experience, but also I think kids are insatiable. Also exhausted - we spent a lot of time in the pool each day.

Apparently Hawaii missed Pokey enormously. I expected her to enjoy having some space, but it's quite touching that she felt so sad. They have not spent nights apart since Pokey was a baby, I think.

Ace had her first gymnastics lesson. (She wanted to do gymnastics all year long, and not ballet. But since she was not yet three, she would have been consigned to the parent-tot class which is kind of a drag.)

The next day she kept saying her legs hurt, and we realized that her little legs were sore from all that jumping and running. Is that the cutest injury possible?

(Ephemera trapped in my head: the lyrics to a song that my third grade teacher made us sing to the the gym teacher on the occasion of his retirement. We have run, run, run till our little legs were sore. We have jumped and climbed till we couldn't go no more. We have kicked and ...(mumble I forget)...till something rhymes with sore, for YOU Coach Vickers, for you! There were a lot of verses. I guess most of it is not trapped in my brain, after all. I remember not liking Coach Vickers very much.)

On Saturday my neck and shoulder blades were spasming again, and I was quite upset. I hadn't been on a computer, or using my phone, or hunching over. I thought I must have some underlying condition that will worsen and hurt me.

Then we went swimming after dinner. I threw the football as far as I could, to Pokey. My shoulder blade and neck lit up like they were on fire. I realized that I was just super ridiculously sore from throwing a football the day before, in the pool.   Much less cute than Ace's soreness, but I was very relieved to have located the trigger.

Hawaii ended school and started a summer program at the daycare. Which means we've entered the holy grail: a single drop-off location all summer long.  Amazing.

I am punting for one more week on the things that I mentioned last week that I would post about this week.

4 kittens

Free of Rigging

Posted on 2016.05.29 at 22:05
I am feeling unusually warm and fuzzy towards my family! We went to the pool. We ate pizza.  I felt like there was down time. We got mildly sunburnt and it was my fault. The ratio of work parenting to fun parenting shifted perceptibly towards the latter.

Later we went to a memorial service for my friend's father. The memorial service was emotional and joyous and sad, in turn. Mostly I am caught up in the fact that every person I know and love, either I will go to their funeral or they will go to mine. So many funerals to come. How upsetting. At the memorial, there was strawberry-basil ice cream which was amazing.

I don't really know anything about this Madeline Denaro person, but I like her art.

Swimming without breasts feels liberating! Childlike! Free of rigging. It's not like I've never worn comfortable swimsuits - some are comfortable, some aren't. But one-pieces all require some wriggling, or clasps, or ties, or they are unsupportive, and two-pieces require self-consciousness (or at least that's the case for me). What I wore this time was a pair of board shorts, bikini bottoms, and a rash guard. I felt like the kind of person who could be out, living my life, and impulsively jump in the water in order to cool off, and then shake the droplets off and continue with my business. Of course I would never. It just felt that way, a little bit.

(Are you really supposed to link something if you got it off Pinterest? Her name is Madeline Denaro and she seems to charge tens of thousands of dollars for her paintings.)

I figure out what's wrong with my neck for the past eight months! Another accomplishment. My posture, my computer, my ergonimical utter defeat. My shoulder blades, and how they creep up and out, as I hunch over like a lame-o. Referred pain in stupid places, like my neck and traps. The solution is to focus on pulling my shoulder blades back in and down. Also some prescribed stretches with a foam roller, a stretchy band, and a lacrosse ball from a borderline-quack yet more-or-less effective musculo-skeletal doc. A 21rst century malaise wants a 21st century stretching routine. There, now, feel better.

I didn't take a whole lot of photos this week. Or notes about life. Or those I did seem involved: the fire that Jammies started in the chandelier, E. Messily's elaborate Geebie-based card game, the video of Rascal singing.  You just wait till next week, I'll fill you in.

4 kittens

We can only shoot bullets.

Posted on 2016.05.22 at 21:59
It was recital week!

This is the costume that Ace loathed:

She said it was itchy, she hated it, she didn't want to be a princess. This was back in April, when she had to wear the costume to take class photos.  So she didn't, and was not in the class photos.

After that, E. Messily put moleskin over all the itchy parts. "Look Ace! We covered it with bandaids!" we told her. She still hated it and screamed and cried.

We made a deal: Get dressed, go to the dress rehearsal, and watch your classmates, and be well-informed. Then, once you're informed, you get to decide whether or not to be in the dance. Once this deal was on the table, she was in a great mood.

At the rehearsal, she reiterated again and again that she did not want to dance.

She enjoyed watching all the different dance numbers, though. Then the teacher asked her class to line up, and she obediently hopped in line with everyone else. And got up on stage and rehearsed. And performed the next day. I did not see that coming.

She seemed to enjoy herself:

Hawaii did great. She's in a hip-hop class. She was cute as a button.

One recital down!

Then on Sunday, Pokey and Hawaii had their piano recital:

It was short, sweet, and happily unremarkable.  Two recitals down!


Here is what the teacher told me, on Wednesday:
Pokey was working on a project. They gave him a five minute warning that they'd be switching activities soon. He got agitated. He needed tape and the TA said he couldn't have it. So he climbed up on a chair and got it himself. She disciplined or intervened or something, I'm not sure. So Pokey hauled off and punched a different kid who happened to be sitting nearby. Then he bit the TA. Then the teacher came in and restrained him in that bear hug. But she put her arms too high and he bit her too. Then he started stomping and kicking her in the shins with his heels. It was a pretty big clusterfuck. Guess the mindfulness didn't help!

So the therapy hasn't helped, the mindfulness hasn't helped, the passage of time and turning five years old hasn't helped. Here is what we are telling ourselves: that maybe he just really dislikes this particular teacher. Also that he is really quite attuned and able to describe closely what happened, what emotions he felt, and what he should have done.  So we're just going to put on our Serious Faces and admit that we don't have a clue and hope that placates anyone who wants to hand down Serious Consequences.

At least he's coming home with a lot more cool stuff:

A thermometer, with Celsius on the left and Fahrenheit on the right. We talked about negative numbers.

A piano and a bunch of musical scores. He played them for his teacher and me.

An armband with an airplane attached so that he can put it on and run around and the airplane will fly along with him.

A little Native American dude, a little campfire, and a teepee. This was wholesale copied from our friend's kid's diorama on Sacagawaea.

Also, in quotations:
"You can't shoot a gun," Pokey admonished me, "You can only shoot bullets."  I thought that was funny.


Hawaii found my knitted knockers:

(I posted that photo to my Facebook group for flat women, and a one or two commented on my older kid on their laptop, completely uninterested.)


The demon child is my funny bunny.


Rascal was wearing normal clothes when we dressed him in the morning. But that afternoon he looked like he fell off the turnip truck:

Country bumpkin.


May is one of my favorite months. Not for any sentimental associations but strictly because my job ends for the year. For a brief week or two, I feel like the summer is stretched out in front of me. June is when I start feeling like the summer is a precious resource draining away from me super quickly.  In other words, I had four days of summer vacation and now I feel like it's ending. It's September already, isn't it.


These little guys were growing near my house:

It's a thing in my BRCA facebook group to post photos which inadvertently look like breasts.  So I contributed this photo. A-ooga! A-ooga!

4 kittens

There's a brand new lice removal joint in town!

Posted on 2016.05.15 at 21:28
Parts of this week were full of trials!

Like Monday:
I planned on working from home but was an idiot, so I had to go in. Then at 3:00 I drove from work to  Hawaii's school, daycare, home, piano, forgot the sack dinner, back to daycare, back to piano, ok now really to t-ball, back to piano, and then home around 6:00. Then we found lice in Hawaii's hair. I had a big anxiety attack about the lice.

But other days were like Tuesday:
We went to the new nit-combing place in town. Pokey and I got lice-checked (both negative).  Hawaii got a thorough comb-out. It took two hours. They went strand by strand. There were snacks and ipads and we paid $320. It was worth every penny.


I cut my hair off on Thursday:

Looks pretty good for spending the day puking and having digestive failure! (today was rough.) "It doesn't look like a Mom cut!" one friend said unconvincingly, thereby planting the idea in my head.

Here are the pictures I pinned to my Pinterest board and showed the hairdresser:

The hairdresser told me that I have much more hair than those women and that it would not look like that. He spent a lot of time thinning out my hair. Anyway, I like it.  But I think he was supposed to make my neck more elegant and swanlike?


There was a tardy mother's day card from Rascal, after all:

It really sets up a fork-themed pun on the inside, doesn't it? "My mom is the forkiest!" or "Best mom of all tines!" or "you're the salad-est!", right?

But on the inside, nothing fork-themed. They were just forking with us.


On Saturday, we performed "Let's Go!" by Matt and Kim for a talent show. Like, we have a family band! It was our maiden performance! I played piano, Jammies was on drums. Hawaii and Pokey were vocals.

There are exactly four chords - it's a very simple song.  On the other hand, Hawaii hid behind me and clutched my hand and Ace clutched my feet and rocked back and forth, so I don't think I could have handled more than four chords. All in all we rocked pretty hard.

Hawaii freaked out a couple minutes before showtime with terrible stage fright. (The compromise was that she got to hide.) Next week is her piano recital. If you recall, her last piano recital was two years ago, and it was a stunning disaster.  We shall see what happens!


Hawaii named her boat The U.S.S. Food:

Hokey Pokey named his catamaran Kitty:

Ace named her tugboat Sadness:

Rascal named his boat Unhnnh? with his palms upturned, indicating confusion:

That all happened with E. Messily's direction, obviously.


Ace bit her tongue and it bled. I comforted her and she said, "Mom, are you going to fill out an incident report?"  That made me laugh.

All my children bite through their tongues, and I do too - it hurts like fuck. It bleeds and there's not much you can do about it. It turns out that other people do not do this. I'm not sure why we are unable to keep track of our tongues.


4 kittens

See if you can smell this.

Posted on 2016.05.08 at 21:42
It's Extra Birthday Day! I mean Mother's Day. Here's the swag I got:

From Hawaii:


Is that self-explanatory? Her new markers are fruit-smelling; she rushed the poem over while the ink in the square was still wet.

From Pokey:

That is a penny from his piggy bank, and the flower is attached to a pen.

 Funny story about the flower pot: Hokey Pokey threw a violent tantrum on Tuesday and overturned the tray holding all the flower pots. A bunch of them broke. Jammies took Pokey to Lowe's to buy some more. He'll have to do some yardwork as a nod to the cost. They took them back to the classroom so that everyone could make Mother's day presents. By "funny" I don't mean "haha" so much as nervous laughter about kindergarten.

From Ace:

I think the first verse sounds like she's giving me the bird:

Fuck you, Mommy!

From Rascal:

Nothing but crickets, the little rascal. I got some slobbery kisses at least.

Also I opted out of the following tasks: changing poopy diapers, unpacking the groceries, and monitoring teeth-brushing time. Those are some of my least favorite things.

For a brief moment, all four kids were playing school together:

That's a pretty good Mother's Day gift.

Here's another time they were all playing together:

Then they all cried.

It was teacher appreciation week.

Hawaii wrote this to her teacher:

I love that sentence construction.  Also I'm amused that she called her teacher "Jennifer". We do not go to some crunchy montessori un-learning factory where kids call their teachers by their first names. We go to a conventional brick elementary school, full of extra pledges of allegiance to the state of Texas, extra worksheets, and sitting still and not talking. But I assume Jennifer - being a very nice person - took it in stride.  Probably the gift certificate helped take the edge off.

What else?

My colleague told me the following story: her nephew was raised in Snotty Austin Suburb. He went to a big Texas University out in west Texas, to play football. He was the freshman kicker, ie the low man on the totem pole.  A few weeks into school, he got on an elevator. One of the senior football players was on and said, "Get off the elevator. Freshman have to wait."
The nephew said, "But I'm from Snotty Austin Suburb!"
So the football player punched him out.
The end!

Note: mostly I love that my colleague told us this story with such relish.
Another note: I don't really know if the kid was knocked unconcious. Just that he got punched for being an ass.
Another note: don't punch each other, kids.

I have one more week until it FEELS like vacation, because we've got faculty workshops this week. They're such a drag. But not stressful.  They just occupy your  time and then they're over.

What else?

I really love this photo from yesterday's derby party:

Sorry B! You are being secretly posted without your knowledge because your pose is so great.

This is a super-zoomed in photo of Jammies, mostly to display his fantastic outfit. The tie is forrest green tatting over black silk, and the shirt was gingham:

Jammies, sorry to post a photo of you stuffing your face. You looked divine.

What else?

We took Hokey Pokey on his tour of kindergarten. We stayed to watch Hawaii's Cinco De Mayo performance.

"Many people believe that Cinco De Mayo celebrates Mexican Independence from Spain," began the narrator, who is the daughter of a friend of ours. I winced, because I'd trotted out that very misconception to the kids just that morning.

"But it is not. It actually celebrates when the Mexican People drove out the French from Mexico City on this day in 1862."  In hindsight, I knew there was something off about what I'd been saying. I never would have remembered the real reason.

Hawaii's group recited a poem called Mariposa, and performed a dance to La Bamba. Hawaii was right on cue, and clearly had been placed so that the rest of the kids could take their cue from her, and I felt smug. She did great.

There were a couple older kids who performed some Ballet Folklorico, which is kind of a thing here in town. You know, big flouncy skirts with bric-a-brac trim, peasant blouses, skirts swooping, high kicks...this kind of thing, except 5th graders:

The kids were very talented.

What else?

E. Messily had a seizure this week. It was scary and we went straight to the ER this time, where they said, "Often these things are a one-time, isolated occurrence!" and sent us home (after seven hours).  So that was not at all reassurring. Also it seems that the seizure turned a regular 3 day sick stretch into a weeklong sick stretch. Also shitty.

It was Geebie-Whammie-Messily Weekend this weekend. You know the drill:

Plant the cheerios, harvest the garden.

Rent a house, interview the kids, have friends come splash and eat fajitas. It's super fun for Friday and Saturday and then Sunday is awful. We are all cranky and exhausted and still have to pack up the house and come back home.

The house was as awfully-decorated as usual - lots of Texas Tuscan, an honest-to-God Thomas Kincaide painting - but the owners did batty things like have an extensive dragon collection, and that made me warm up to them.

They are certified like so:

Twilight Cottage, from the Cottages of Light II series, looks like so:

Maybe I should have gone with the dragons.

Here's what Jammies looks like when he is a broken spirit, a shell of a man:

Actually he's trying not to laugh because he knew I was taking the picture. But under the smirk are broken wings. Clutching the baby monitor, swim diapers, and lighter as he fights for air before the next swell takes him down.


Hey Rascal, got any new artwork?

The traditional whipped-cream-on-canvas. I think that rounds out our complete set.

Hey Pokey, got any new artwork?

Pokey has become a prolific artist. He brought home this duck village from art class:

which apparently earned him this title:

He makes lots of cryptic paper sculptures which tend to have elaborate back stories.

They're all structural and complicated. Lots of time spent folding paper which ends up being in the center of the mass of tape and paper.

The two black ones in the middle are part of an extended series of city-scapes. Maybe the one on the left is a dosa?

Occasionally there is a drawing or two:

It looks like there might be a tiny cabana at the center of the hedge maze?

Lots and lots of paper airplanes, too, but I didn't photograph them.

Hey Ace, got any new artwork?

No? How about a new song, then?

Wow. That's a really nice song.


Any new artwork with you?

The speech bubbles are numbered.
1. "Preparing for liftoff," says the insect.
2. "Wait no, it's snacktime," it continues.
3. "Eat it!" says the kid to the left, "Fly guy." Offering a cookie, I think?
4. "Never!" says the fly, valiantly.

I'm very fond of the bright blue and green, and think I might frame this one.

She's being very secretive about these popsicle stick characters. But they clearly involve the following background scenes:

A disco? A nighclub?

Be aware of potions!

Hawaii has something in mind, clearly.

Odds and Ends

1. Classes ended on Wednesday but I did not get to enjoy my sea-dome diving bell moment of agora-philic isolation. Instead I went to a Land Use Conference up in Austin.  I shall not tell you any of the details due to boredom.

2. Ace recently asked me who my mother is.
"Grandma Collie is my mother!" I told her.
"Who is your daddy?" she asked.
"Papa Ken is my father," I answered.
"WE MET THEM!" she exclaimed. "Grandma Collie and Papa Ken, we know them!"
"That's right!" I confirmed. "You know my mom and dad!"

3. Pokey also has insights: "What does T-V spell?"
Me, "TV."
Him, "It's like T...V...! TV!"
Me, "yes."

4 kittens

Ranch sauce on burritos

Posted on 2016.04.24 at 23:20
We are at a wedding in Santa Cruz. As always, California is a ridiculous show-off.

Yes, yes, you're beautiful, dear.


We all love this phrasing, right?

Bottle brush trees.

Little alien flowers.

I walked around town for a few hours. Eventually I found myself at the Santa Cruz wharf:

Even their stone greek Π symbols are better than ours.

Boats displayed, that's novel. But where do they display their model oil rigs?

These guys were pretty cute:

There were a lot of them, arf-ing and moaning and groaning.

The water kept heaving up and down, revealing mountains of barnacles around all the post bases.  The swelling ocean, all of the wheezing and arf-arf-ing and lumbering - it was pretty hypnotic.

More wharf:

Ok, Santa Cruz, now you're getting too cute by half.

Did you...did you paint the trees to match your building? Is your dye job growing out? Are you literally showing your roots?

California! No ranch sauce on your breakfast burritos! That is NOT okay!

Now straighten up and fly right.

That's better.

For her birthday, Ace asked for what she wanted and loved what she got. She got a batman costume, a coloring purse, some dress up clothes, and of course an extraordinary castle:

It's surprisingly hard to photograph. But E's details are exquisite.  Pokey was so jealous and had to process some big emotions.

As for Hawaii, it's complicated. When Hawaii was four or five, she got her hands on a toy catalogue. She was fascinated and cut out all of the toys that she liked, and pasted them into a massive 15 page collage wishlist, and gave it to Jammies and me, before Christmas. She also made collage lists for Pokey and Ace.

Most of her desires were dolls and accessories, generic versions of American Girl dolls.  So we got her a big doll like that, and some accessories.  She never played with them. Frankly, most of the items on her list did not look like the kinds of things she chooses to play with.

As subsequent birthdays/Christmases came around, Hawaii requested more items from the list. Not specific items, but generally if we asked her what she wanted, she'd retort, "You have my list. I want the things from that list." We demurred, but did get her some more doll accessories.  But for each successive holiday over the past two years, she keeps being disappointed that we mostly ignored the list. (The physical list is packed away, archived somewhere. It is the memory of the list, and perpetually feeling ignored, that Hawaii is focused on.) This list, which was never that appealing to four year old Hawaii, and is now even more dated and not-right for seven year old Hawaii, yet it keeps resurrecting itself every holiday.

So finally, Jammies told Mimi to get a bunch of items off the list for Hawaii's 7th birthday this year. The big two-foot tall present that Hawaii saved for last ended up being...a suitcase, which could hold the doll and her accessories. Hawaii's reaction was outwardly calm, but complicated. She wasn't upset and she smiled. But you can tell that she is processing all this, and wondering why it doesn't feel very good to recieve these items that you've had on your list, for two years.

I feel a bit sad and protective of her, as she tries to work it out.  She is often terribly un-attuned to herself, unable to check internally and know what will make her happy.  But incredibly attuned to other people, and their expectations and motivations. Often she is driven by wanting to dominate other people's attention, even at the expense of her own contentedness.

(I definitely understand that feeling. I think I've mostly outgrown it, finally.)

I've been feeling a bit demoralized, post-mastectomy. I thought that I could wear prosthetic boobs and go about my regular life with minimal disruption.  In actuality, they make my scars ache. By the end of the day, the parts furthest to my right and left sides are swollen and aching.

The standard answer is that this is due to the heaviness of the prosthetics, and to try lighter foam prosthetics. So I signed up for some knitted knockers.

Somewhere out there, a really nice person is hand-knitting two breasts, just for me. I really hope they don't make the nipple too protruding.

But I suspect the knitted knockers won't help. That the weight isn't the problem - I'm currently wearing an A cup; they're not very heavy. And the weight is more central, and so doesn't press on my problem spots, which are further out to the sides. I think the problem is the tightness of a bra and...I'm not sure.

Anyway, this helps:

wearing an extra shirt under the fake boobs.  I wonder if it would look strange to anyone else, in person - "Wait a minute. Is that woman's breasts...photoshopped? I swear it looks like her shirt is under them."  Of course, I just wear another shirt covering it all.  Which is too many layers for summer.

It's all adding up to much more thought and maintenance than I wanted to spend on the matter, though.  I end up choosing baggy clothes and skipping the breasts when possible.

I miss this guy and I'm not going to even get to see him until Monday evening.

4 kittens

The Trouble With Things

Posted on 2016.04.17 at 22:27
This week was so much better! Let me count the ways (but briefly, because I'm zonked yet dedicated as a blogger.)

1. The dresses were REAL. They arrived and were reasonable quality. I am keeping one of them:

This dress has a weird feature: the fabric is upside down. All the birds are belly up. Look at the nest:

I'm generally relieved not to have been scammed.

2. The was a big to-do at the Planning & Zoning committee. All the old farts in town were up in arms and yelling a lot about a proposed development. They were completely in the right, in this instance. However, I did not know how my fellow commissioners felt (because of the Texas Open Meetings Act). I was super nervous that I'd have to argue and debate the other committee members during the meeting, on TV, in front of a giant crowd of people.

We listened to pissed off citizens from 6 pm until 8:30 pm. I sat very still and tried to pay attention, but good lord it went on and on. When the public hearing ended, the discussion opened, and the very first comment was, "I move to deny the development plan." Then someone seconded it. Then I went limp with relief that I seemed to be surrounded by sensible committee members. They made thoughtful points and we had a reasonable, short conversation, and then voted the plan down by a large margin.

(I made a single comment. Afterwards, the city lawyer came over and told me I'd made A Good Point. That's right! A Good Point was made, by ME.)

3. Hawaii won a Student of the Month thing, where they get knighted by a knight. She was knighted for having the virtue of Confidence.

Parents were alerted in advance. It was very sweet to see Hawaii light up when she spotted us in the audience and realized she was going to be selected.

Keith the Knight gave a weird speech to the kindergarten, first and second graders, about discipline.  "Discipline" doesn't just mean getting in trouble for breaking a window. It also means getting out of bed when your alarm goes off, every morning, on your own. That seems unlikely to resonate with 6 year olds. I think Keith was winging it.

Also, from their website:

At the middle school level, we teach Courage, Defense, Faith, Franchise, Humility, Justice, Largesse, Loyalty, Nobility and Prowess.

Defense. Franchise. Largesse. Prowess. Hoo-weee!

(4. I got a new phone, who cares, no one, except me.)

5. Hawaii lost another tooth. She put it under her pillow. We forgot to replace it with money. In the morning, she found her tooth, and we improvised, "You guys must have been too noisy last night! Tooth fairy must have come by and you guys were awake!"  (I wish she would have already figured out the truth about the tooth fairy and Easter Bunny and so on. I am done lying to her. And yet I lied my head off, in the heat of the moment, under the gun.)

The next night, Hawaii forgot to put the tooth under her pillow. We also forgot.

The third night, Hawaii remembered, but we forgot.  "The tooth fairy didn't come again!" she exclaimed.
"Huh!" we said. I started to feel really bad.
"I was really quiet last night!"  (Maybe the problem of the ongoing belief in the tooth fairy will resolve itself naturally.)

The fourth night, we finally remembered to give her two quarters. Sheesh.

6. Mosi has a funny nod when he's standing up. He bends his knees and hunches his shoulders and back. It does make his head go up and down, but his neck is not moving.  I need to get it on video before he outgrows it, because it's adorable and ridiculous.

7. It is birthday week! The celebrations kicked off yesterday with E. Messily's birthday, who cut her hair off in celebration:

Like a fuzzy duckling.

Hawaii made her a card:

with quite a lot of clever pointers and help from Mother Messily, who is visiting us, and is also exceptionally artsy and crafty.

Hawaii's 7th birthday is on Tuesday. For her birthday dinner, Hawaii wants: corn, corndogs, and baby carrots with ranch dressing. For dessert, she wants to go to a self-serve frozen yogurt joint.

I took her to Office Depot for her present. We picked out a huge stack of post-it notes, a leather-bound notebook, some markers, some pens, and some invitations.

Ace's 3rd birthday is on Friday. For her birthday dinner, Ace wants: she rambled about chicken and pizza and hot dogs, but never gave a clear answer.  (Jammies and I will miss her birthday dinner, actually. I feel pretty bad about this. We have a wedding in California on Saturday. I made us fly out late enough that we can at least have a birthday breakfast with her.)

Ace had a very small birthday party, with three friends. Here's one present she recieved:

"The Berensteins Bears Are Preachy Evangelicals and In Your Face."  It's a box set. We didn't yet have this one!

No thank you very much! This will go straight to Goodwill.

Pokey also hijacked Mother Messily, to help him make a present for Ace:

It is a little duckling village. There are little yellow play-doh ducks inside.

8. Other things have been made lately:


He's been making a bunch of these cute little birds.

E. Messily has been making papier mache boats with the kids.

E made:

A rascally tugboat.

A jolly steamer.

Together with Pokey, she made:

A wily catamaran.

Hawaii has been working on:

A watermelon boat topped with a licorice mast and pizza flag.

Really! See her design plan:

They will be painted and decorated when they dry.

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