?

Log in

September 2016   01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
4 kittens

Rebanaditas

Posted on 2016.09.25 at 22:13
Jammies has been out of town this week. He gets back tomorrow.



This week has been the type of week where you look up and see that there are nine children in your house, under your care. We've been playing with the neighbors a lot. I took seven children to a Mexican cultural heritage festival yesterday. There were traditional ballet folklorico performances, arts and crafts for the kids - pinatas to paper mache and fill with Mexican candy, some sort of foil medallion creation that probably has a technical name, volcanoes.  There was free tamales, tacquitos, nachos, hot dogs, watermelon juice, and pineapple juice. I think my crew of seven ate most of the food.



When we arrived, the opening ceremony was wrapping up. I got a photo with Lloyd Doggett, which was pretty cool. Also our mayor and two councilmembers, one of whom is the one I'm the treasurer for, for her reelection campaign. Lloyd Doggett is a big reason that they gerrymandered Texas about 15 years ago, before it was the cool thing for all the shithead states to do.  He used to represent Austin. Now his district is this:



I thought about Mexican heritage and how it's generally considered a good thing when a young kid decides that they want to learn more about their roots. About how, if you had a generation or two which no longer spoke Spanish, and one of the kids decided to learn, and learn some dancing and how to cook tamales and so on, we'd celebrate it. (Who is 'we' in that sentence? Soccer moms? I don't know.)  This was all a thinly veiled attempt to look at myself through the wrong end of the telescope. Wouldn't it be a shame to let thousands of years of tradition lapse, because the anti-semitism wore away at one or two generations in a row?



Those watermelon lollipops - Rebanaditas - are my favorite. They're covered in chili powder, and they're salty and sour and sweet. They don't taste anything like watermelon, though




Anyway, having eight kids next door changes the dynamic of the household rhythm dramatically. I like that Pokey and Hawaii constantly want to bolt outside and run around. I like the neighbor kids - they're sweet and kind, generally. Usually the oldest five of them come over to play. Sometimes it's calm and you think, "Isn't it amazing that this many kids is basically calm?!" but even when it's calm, it's a pretty big mess.



I don't like the excessive amounts of junk food. On Wednesday, E. Messily cooked us a lovely jambalaya and homemade cornbread. The kids all nibbled and grumped and finally said they were full. Then they went and ate corndogs at the neighbor's house. (The insult was particularly poetic since they had literally been served sausage and cornbread, just not on a stick.) There is just constant free-flowing Starbursts and spoonfuls of Nutella and HotPockets and frozen pizza and on and on and on. I mean, we have all that stuff too, but, but, but.  It seems beyond my control.



Anyway. I'm behind in patience, grading, sleep, and the entire house is sticky and disheveled.

4 kittens

Hamburger Jaw Action

Posted on 2016.09.18 at 23:07
The Mermaid Society Ball was magical.  Here is what we wore:



Jammies had bubble juice for his pipe, but he kept accidentally tipping the soap back into his mouth. I had swanky tentacle earrings and borrowed E. Messily's octopus bracelet. (I wore the exact same bracelet at my wedding, but can't find it.)

The ball sold out, 450 tickets in all. Attendees donned formal gowns with seaside accessories. Some menfolk wore tuxedo tops with swimming trunks, others dressed in all white linen.  Somehow there was widespread understanding that you ought to dress fancy and silly, both. It was heavenly.



The mermaid tank:



(See if you can spot the violence inherent in the system.) Mermaids, lacking feet, must be carried over by a few men from whatever backstage dressing area exists. It was awkward and clumpy. For most of the night, there were multiple maids in the tank.

There were also six or seven elderly aquamaids, originals from back in the day, who were proclaimed to be the first Royal Mermaid Court and given sashes and tiaras.

The aerial ballet dancer:



The band played honky tonk two-step music, which is the way you get people on the dance floor, and Jammies and I did cut a small rug. Honestly, honky tonk music clashes a bit with the Shangri La Twas Xanadu vibe of the rest of it, but it sure does reflect the contradictions of this town.



(This was when we first arrived, as the sun set, before it filled up.) I told Jammies that, in 30 years, we'll be able say we've attended all 30 single mermaid society balls.

..........

I walked in Rascal's classroom at the end of the day. He ran over and I picked him up. We chatted about the farm animals he was holding, and then I said, "Okay, go put these back in the barn!" and set him down on the floor, and he complied.

The TA said, "How do you get him to do that?"
I said, "Do what?"
She said, "Pick up his toys. Not hit other kids. Taking toys from other kids. Taking turns. Group time."
I stared at her. "Oh," I said, "We're working on that, too. No idea!"  but what I was thinking was, They're one and a half year olds, you dingbat. Wait for them to turn five?

......

It's aphid season.  Everything is sticky. Like my car:



It's so thick with stickyness that it forms stationary droplets of sap-like goo. September is the worst month.  Here is a window in our house, facing the tree with the worst aphids:



Here is an opposite window, not facing any aphids, for contrast:



THE WORST.
..........

"Are bad guys real?" asked Pokey, on the way to school. We'd been talking about superheroes.
"Oh yeah," answered Hawaii, "They're real. They have weapons. Like lasers, cameras, guns..."
"Cameras aren't weapons!" exclaimed Pokey.
"Security cameras," Hawaii explained (witheringly).  Duh.


..........



...........

Jammies said (over IM), "I just got a phone call from Hawaii at school where she let me know that I accidentally gave her Ace's lunch box again."
E. Messily said, "does that mean Ace has Hawaii's?"
Jammies said, "I mean, it had HER lunch in it, which I informed her of."
E. Messily said, "oh. Got it. I'm very glad the school called you though."

Ace doesn't even get a lunch box at school. How the hell did Hawaii sweet-talk her teacher and the school staff into letting her use the phone over this? She is a smooth talker.

"I'm like freaked out," continued Jammies,  "Has Hawaii taken over the school? Are the adults all dead."  It's a good question.

On a different day, Hawaii had a metal hook fall off her closet door onto the bridge of her nose:




She looks a little like one of the blue creatures from Avatar to me. Poor thing; I think it hurt a lot.

.......



........

Jammies is out of town this coming week. Ugh argh I can't complain, I have a whole extra adult in the way of E. Messily here.

(But of course I complain because that's my MO. Who would I be if I didn't?)

The weekdays will be totally fine. It's just the weekend days that drag out. Then I lose my temper, my footing, and turn into this mean parent that I can't stand.



A thing Pokey made at the river. The two flowers slide up and down on the stick for a sort of hamburger jaw action.

4 kittens

She is hiding stolen food in her baby carriage!

Posted on 2016.09.11 at 22:43
I told my abstract algebra class, "There's a famous math joke with the punchline 'abelian grape' but I can't remember the set-up." We were learning about abelian groups. No one pulled out their phone and googled it. No one seemed to care very much.

Midway through the next class, I casually asked, "What's purple and commutes?" They all looked up and got quiet, and looked at me expectantly. No one put it together. "AN ABELIAN GRAPE!" I semi-shouted. They all laughed really hard, much harder than the joke warrants.

This must be an ideal way to tell a joke: slip someone the punchline, offhandedly. Then a few days later, when you give them the set-up, they'll doubly appreciate it. Trebly so. Try it out and report back, okay?

.....

There's a butterfly invasion in Heebieville! It started on Tuesday and is still going strong.



They don't photograph well, but if you're patient, you can find 11 in the zoomed in shot below. Are you Gallant or Goofus?



....

Our friends have two daughters, 11 year old R and 8 year old B.  The elder gets very anxious about the minutia of daily life - will I be able to remember my locker combination in middle school? Will I forget my gym shoes? R narc'ed on her friend to me, a friend who was pretending not to have the remote control, after about ten seconds on Saturday night. "It's her! She has it!" R blurted out. The tension had been nonexistent, the perpetrator gave me a bright smile.  (The perpetrator had turned the volume on the movie up to 50, and I was asking them to turn it down.) (Speaking of losing your shit over minutia, Hawaii did so mid-week, after we got a message from the principal about a change in the lunch menu. She'd been really counting on corn dogs on Thursday, and this was a real punch to the gut. We are maybe not raising resilient kids.)

The other daughter, B, is extremely blase about life's minutia. Could not be less worried about what anyone will think when small things go wrong. Instead, B has massive existential crises, like the one driving home from the beach last weekend, sobbing for three hours about how she'll never be four years old again. Grappling in a deep way about that. Sobbing, sobbing. "I'll never be a little ba-aa-by like Rascal agaaain".

That's some deep stuff, B! I also get despair over that exact issue! If that were my kid, I'd probably grab the tissue box and join in.

.....

Hawaii and Pokey are on the same soccer team this season. We requested, per Hawaii, that they be on separate teams, but they got put on the same team anyway. (Thank you, scheduling gods.) They played great this weekend!



Jammies made me peel 24 oranges and put 20 grapes in each of 12 bags, for their halftime snack.  It's embarrassing and terribly absurd that they have a halftime snack. The little dears can't possibly get by with Gatorade and water after playing two 8-minute quarters.  It puts me in the irritating position of siding with the straw Baby Boomer asshole who complains about participation trophies.

After peeling all those oranges, my thumbs were very sore. (I blew it, and didn't pay attention to see if they stuck out, though.) Now my thumbnail has that pried-apart feeling.




Mother Crocodile was furious! "Just when I finally get my darling little babies to sleep, you have to come along and awaken them!" she said.

Sometimes I identify with Mother Crocodile:



I pushed the stroller around on the grass for 30 minutes until I accomplished this, and I was very hot and tired. "Dudley! Dudley! I could have told you she wasn't the robber," said Sam Potatoes.



Soccer games in September are so unpleasantly hot.

......

Pokey likes to squish my belly and coo, "Chubby mommy. Chubby mommy." I like it, too.

Our current narrative is that he's doing better! We are telling ourselves that these past two weeks, Pokey only punched kids who were hassling him, (and in fact one kid in particular). That it was a normal five year old scuffle, as opposed to Pokey coping with frustration by punching out an innocent bystander. We're getting there.

......

E. Messily packed sack dinners for Ace and I, for Ace's dance class. Ace unzipped her lunchbox as soon as she was buckled in her carseat.

"Mom!" said Ace, "I'm really proud of E. Messily for giving me the purple bowl." I texted E. Messily to inform her of Ace's comment. "I knew she would be," E. replied.

.........

Hawaii, whatcha learning in 2nd grade? How's it going?



Aww, they grow up so fast.

(But for real, I laughed and laughed when I saw her homework. Snack Attack is a children's book where the cat wants a snack, and traps the rat, and does in fact eat the rat. The last page shows the burping, satiated cat with distended belly. It's an unexpected turn.)

......

At one point this morning, Pokey, Ace, and Rascal were marching up and down the house, parade-style, singing, "This is the dumbest song everrrrrrr.  This is the dumbest song everrrrrr!"  Or at least Pokey and Ace were singing, and Rascal marched enthusiastically.

It's got a nice wink to it, a cross between The Song that Never Ends and The Stupid Question game. Do you know how to play the stupid question game? Do you want to play it? Are you having fun?

4 kittens

Same medium brown sand, same medium waves

Posted on 2016.09.05 at 21:50
Dear Jammies,

Remember the time we got home from the beach after a long weekend, and I was watching Rascal in the bath while you took a shower and Rascal took an epically large crap, and I couldn't handle it so I fetched you out of the shower and gave you the shitsplosion of a tub full of bath toys, while I transferred Rascal to the other bathroom, which was now vacant, and splashed around with the clean baby for awhile? Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Love, Heebie

How was the beach? Mostly great!  Noticeably easier than last year! Parts felt like an actual vacation, with R&R and midday naps. We rented a big house with three other families.  We cooked communal meals and lazed around on the big deck into the night.



Who loved the beach the most? Probably Rascal, who screamed continuously, sustaining one very high note happily for about the first hour that he was in the waves. He was beside himself with joy. The mud, the sand, the waves, and more waves, and even more waves. He liked being knocked down by the waves. He liked lying down so that the tiniest waves would still break over him. That seems awful to me, but he liked it. He liked having saltwater in his face and mouth.



Who liked the beach the least? Probably Ace, although she played happily in the sand, and hung out cheerfully with the grown-ups under the EZ-up.  What did people do at the beach before EZ-ups? My memory from Crescent Beach, FL, growing up, is of regular umbrellas resting on the ground, casting a shadow over low-slung beach chairs. Or that's what we did, plus sitting on the tailgate of the Suburban.  Maybe that's why beach chairs are only two or three inches off the ground, so that they fit under regular umbrellas.



Which beach do we go to? Port Aransas, on Mustang Island, next to Corpus Christi. It's a good beach for childhood, because you have plenty of room to be impressed by more glamorous beaches later on. It's the kind of beach where the sand is medium brown and you can drive on the beach.  So, just like Crescent Beach. It's like drinking wine: maybe you don't want to get used to the good stuff because then you can't enjoy the shitty kind.



It got very choppy on Sunday when a storm blew in.  Everyone hurried to take down their EZ-ups and pack up their stuff, and those who dallied or who had weaker EZ-ups saw them destroyed.  Boogie boards wrested away and cartwheeled violenty down the beach.  Pokey, Hawaii and I were in the water, enjoying the bigger waves until, abruptly, it was time to go. All the adults moved about urgently, sand flew everywhere, and Pokey worked himself up into a full blown panic attack. He was crying and hysterically scared, and I ushered him and Hawaii and Rascal towards the rental house, leaving Jammies behind to get all the stuff.  I think it was the urgency that freaked him out. He was sobbing and scared to death the whole walk home. At home, he was panicking about getting everything inside, when I pointed across the street at another family, on their balcony, and said, "Look. They're sitting in chairs, reading. Look how calm they are." He loosened a little, but didn't fully calm down until he was in the bath tub with Rascal.



(E. Messily and Ace were already at home, because Ace had asked to leave a few hours earlier, "so I can lay down in a bed." She was asleep on E., on the couch.)

...........

Heebieville is hosting a weeklong Mermaid Festival, later this month. It is a very apt choice for the town. Historically, our claim to fame was this kitschy roadside attraction. The Aquamaids put on underwater shows. There was an underwater ampitheater and the Aquamaids would perform behind glass: this is how we eat a sandwich underwater! This is how we swing on swings, underwater! There were little tubes for them to breathe air, and they had to stay underwater for an entire show.



(via)  That is the same place that Jammies and I got married, in case you were reading here in 2009. (Although the kitchsy roadside attraction closed in the 1990s and was replaced by a nature center with a mini-shrine to the heyday.)

This is a weeklong Mermaid Festival, not an Aquamaid Festival, but we can overlook the historical inaccuracy. Here are the other reasons it's an apt choice: this town loves the river fanatically, this town is sort of silly and artsy, and this town does not take itself too seriously. Festivities include a parade and a Mermaid Society Ball and a daytime festival.

All of this is a longwinded way to announce that I bought a beautiful green and gold caftan for the Mermaid Society Ball. I am planning on dressing as Tennille to Jammies' Captain. The dress code is "River chic and other creatively inspired evening attire" so I'm pretty sure my new dress is just what the Captain ordered. I'm very excited.

............

This is a weird name for a church:



It seems a little dystopian. You were explicitly told not to worship Eikons.



Games, petting zoo, inflatables - a brave new church. (But still, no thanks.)

.....

So, how's kindergarten?

We're still doing the Legos 4 Pokey charity fund, but to diminishing returns. Which was predictable - the novelty worked until it didn't - but still exasperating.  Why u b so violent, kid?


4 kittens

No sense in being house-poor.

Posted on 2016.08.28 at 22:09
We called a real estate agent that we know, and took a walk-through of that big stone house that I posted last time. Mostly to satisfy my curiousity. We will never, ever move there in a hundred years, because of this: the lower roof comes about 2 feet off the ground, and from the lower roof, it is easy to climb up on the two story roof, and the whole roof looked like a playground of death.

I didn't like the kitchen, because it was completely interior to the house. There'd be no way to add a window. We'd all have bigger bedrooms, and more of them, but the communal living area wouldn't feel much that much bigger. I loved all the quirks - the original light fixtures, the oddball rooms and doors to nowhere, the cedar closet. The old stone, the eccentric windows, the curved architecture. But this is all pretend and moot, because we really could not afford it. There's no sense in being house-poor.

Afterwards, I fell back in love with our current house. It's just right! It's also quirky, and we've made all the decisions exactly to our liking. So what if we have tiny bedrooms. It's cozy and lovely.  Afterwards, Jammies began to feel the creep of uncertainty about our current house, and began to feel lust for this other, equally charming house, but so much bigger. So much more closet space.

.....

We have new neighbors on both sides. Both sides have been empty since the flood last October. On one side is a pair of college students, and the other side is a family. We've never had a family this close before! Our kids actually want to go outside and play. It's very exciting.

The family has eight kids, ages 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. All their birthdays are in April. Their names are J/ace, J/oel, J/ordan, J/essica, J/eremiah, H/onesty, L/evi, and H/eavenly.  You have to admire that the parents changed their horse, midstream, in naming those kids. "Fuck it, I don't want to dance with the cowboy that brang me."  The eldest is in Hawaii's class at school. (Hawaii told us several times that they had eight kids and the oldest kid was eight, and we frankly didn't believe her. But she was right.)

The parents are generous to a fault and ply our kids with treats and toys.  I'm a little concerned about their financial stability - I'm pretty sure they're living on fumes. The mother told me that her husband sells firewood, which...nobody uses firewood. We live in a hot infernal oven. (We believe the husband also does some landscaping.) Eight young kids. I asked the mother how unpacking was going, and she said it was easy, because they'd lost all their stuff in the floods in their old town, a few hours away. She keeps saying how glad they are to be here. I told the mother about the floods here, and she nodded and said she knew. Above all, they are disconcertingly upbeat and cheery, as they present in the direst of straits. I hope they really are okay. I think it is a two bedroom house.

They also have a friend who hangs out there a lot, named Nick. One of the college students, on the other side, is also named Nick. The guy across the street is also named Nick. We all agreed that regrettably, E. Messily must now be known as Nick. She pointed out that Fluffy Kitty's real name is actually Nick Jr, and thus we already have a Nick. Nice try,  E. Nickelbacky.

Hawaii has twins in her classroom, named G/eronimo and K/evin. I love these inconsistent parents. (There's actually two sets of twins in her class, but the other is unremarkably named.)

......

This is the white-flight school outside of SadTown, that I pass on my way to work. This was their first day of school:



All assholes ahoy!  Keep out anyone diff'rent!  (I know in other parts of the country, "no shots" may be a legitimate screen for anti-vaxxers. That is not what they're getting at here.)

........

So how was Pokey's first week? On Monday after school, he was bouncing with glee - exuberant like I've never seen him be. He literally only uttered the word "booya" for the first few hours, mostly yelling and singing the word. That is a word which generally annoys me, but I love my kid,  and my kid was so happy, and I started to feel fondness for the word.  Great!

Did the good feeling persist? Not really! By the end of the week, he'd gotten two folder marks out of five, which is pretty terrible. (Every six weeks there's a big schoolwide party, and you can only attend if you average 80% or better on folder marks. So he is already in the hole.) When I picked him up from after-care on Friday, he was aimlessly wandering in circles, wailing at the top of his lungs. He was drawing a lot of attention. His paper airplane had gotten stuck on a high windowsill. A different teacher - not the one dealing with the paper airplane - said that earlier he'd let loose with a string of expletives, after hitting Hawaii with a basketball, and gotten super rude and belligerent. They weren't sure how to control him.  (After-care is run by college students. They're not exactly board-certified in fragile five year olds.)

By Friday I was feeling a little panicky. I believe that Pokey knows what behavior is expected of him, and that he is capable of behaving, but that he is not motivated to behave, whatsoever. That it serves him in some way to cause a big scene and escalate the tantrum to heights exceeding anyone's expectations. He gets to dominate the situation, and say 'fuck you' to whoever is trying to control him. My friend who teaches four year olds recommended positive reinforcement, in very tiny intervals.

So we did. On Saturday, we bought a set of legos, the $10/box kind with 100 pieces. If he is well-behaved for one hour, he gets to put one lego in a jar.  Pre-Lego-jar on Saturday morning, Pokey was an angry, rude mess. Post-lego-jar, he was sweet and kind. I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but at least for this one weekend, we had sweet Pokey here. It has been wonderful. He has earned about 12 pieces. (During the week, he'll gets one piece if he doesn't get a folder mark, another piece for after-care, another piece for piano lessons, another piece for the morning and evening at home, and so on. Tiny intervals.)

At a birthday party last night, Hawaii smacked the pinata wide open. I was so proud of her.

My classes began. They're fine! Kids are always so nice at the beginning of the semester. (And in the middle and then end. Really, teaching math is the best, because they are so scared of the material and see me as their lifeline.) Anyway: we now can recycle cans in my building. This is a serious game changer. I've been waiting for this moment.

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.)



[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]][[][][][

Ace
:

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."



[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]][[][][][

Pokey:

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.



[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]][[][][][

Hawaii:

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.

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]][[][][][

Me:

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!

Previous 20