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4 kittens

Photo dump, dump, dump it up.

Posted on 2015.03.22 at 19:57
For Spring Break, they fought a lot, but I didn't document those parts. Instead:







I sent Rascal to his daycare - which stayed open - and stayed home with the three big kids. Confidential to Rascal: I felt sort of bad about that.  But it's much easier to take the big kids places without a baby.

Without a baby, we walked to the river:







buried flowers in the mud:



and threw a bunch of rocks in the river, and then threw our socks in the river, at which point I got fed up.



So I fed them graham crackers.



On the way home, Hawaii had amassed a giant bouquet of flowers. Hokey Pokey desperately wanted a specific purple flower from the bouquet, which Hawaii (sensing great power) wouldn't give.

After a while, she gave him a different flower, which partially appeased him.

Then she flung his favorite flower into the river and it floated away.  Pokey bawled his eyes out.

On a different day, we got our face painted:



(only Hawaii) and swung in a hammock:



and frolicked in a whole lot of cacti:



I lounged on my friend's deck. Hawaii's voice floated out from the kitchen, clear as a bell: "No, I can't have one but I can sneak one."

A moment later the kids trooped outside with chocolate-protein-fake-healthy bars. Hawaii showed me, excitedly, how duplicitous she'd been. I was indulgent.

^^^VVVWWWVVV^^^
On other days we hired a babysitter, who took them to the zoo and the park. Thank god for baby-sitters. The babysitter posted some photos of the kids on Facebook. (He asked my permission first.) In the comment thread, all these other college kids fawned over the Geeblets and went on about how much they missed the kids they babysit for. One said "I bawled my eyes out when I left my kids!" Our babysitter said, "I know I will!" It was very sweet and weird to read how affectionate they all were to our little stinkers.

^^^VVVWWWVVV^^^

At xfit on Friday, there were only two of us. The trainer was perceptibly cranky about wasting his time on two overweight women. He wasn't exactly mad at us, but mad at the missing Spring Breakers. He lost major points with me for this revealed sexism and general lack of professionalism.

On the other hand, I set a new PR: I front-squatted 125 lbs. Personal best! Personal best! (He should have been cheering.) The other woman front-squatted 165 lbs.

^^^VVVWWWVVV^^^
Big Cat is inching along towards death. Our nighttime routine has deteriorated all to hell because I now have to give him pills at night. To be sure, his arthritis pain has decreased substantially since we started the pills.

I hate wrestling an unhappy, elderly cat. The wrestling momentarily exacerbates his arthritis, too - twice he has peed on me shortly thereafter. (Because of the IV fluids, his urine is very dilute and watery, not the awful pungent distinct cat piss odor. Silver linings.)

^^^VVVWWWVVV^^^

On yet another day, Jammies took the day off from work, and we all went to the Children's Museum. Hawaii expertly swaddles a baby doll:



Ace expertly gets very wet:



Pokey pokies:




The biggest kids climbed:



while a medium kid watched:



and this one slept:




One night Hokey Pokey was super mad at me. In his most angry growl he said, "You have to sleep with me tonight!" I'd ended storytime abruptly, mid-story, because no one was paying attention and they were squabbling. They were very upset.

"Go to bed," I said. "You have to sleep with me, or else I'm not going!" said Pokey, indignantly.  Awww. (I did not.)

SO MANY PHOTOS! Why stop now?  We took Ace for her first hair cut:

Before:



During:



After:



I sorted heaps and heaps of clothes, dumping winter in favor of summer. We said goodbye to Ace's beloved squeaky shoes:



They were really great in an airport or in a crowd. Squeak, squeak, squeak! Uh-oh, where's she going?

Ace loved them a lot. The soles are totally flapping loose, and so they went to the trash can.

Ace says, "Rascal's sooooo cute!" Then I say, "He's probably thinking the same thing about you!"




I've been blogging here for ten years. Happy anniversary to me!

4 kittens

The very tiring, greasy week

Posted on 2015.03.15 at 12:39
Jammies left town around 4 am on Monday morning. He was to be visiting the race car (palindrome!) in Denver until Wednesday night.

Monday night, Hawaii began to complain that it stung when she peed. (Sorry, grown-up Hawaii. I think this is a reasonable thing to say to other adults.) Tuesday was a terrible day to miss work - lots of meetings, classes reviewing before a test, etc. and I had to scramble to reschedule all of that.

The doc checked her out Tuesday morning, and all was fine.

We had a lovely time. When you're forced to miss an important day, once you get over it and embrace the missing, it's rather relaxing.  I took a nap. (Rascal had been sleeping like shit.)

Even so, by Wednesday I was excruciatingly tired: I fell asleep, sitting up, helping Pokey put his pants on. I mislabelled the date on Rascal's bottles of milk, and the daycare teacher was like, "Is this really an ancient, expired bottle of milk you brought in?" I forgot to give a student a test, and he had to track me down while I was teaching another class. I had to apologize to my Calculus class, and improvise an activity for them while I left to go print out the test.  My eyes felt sticky and my head felt muddled all day.

Jammies was due home late Wednesday night. On Wednesday afternoon, he texted me: "we're not coming home tonight."

Let's put this in perspective: Ace had worn the same socks and shoes for three days in a row. (She went to bed with them on. Each morning when I got her dressed, I got through the outfit part and said "fuck it".) I hadn't showered since Sunday. I had life mapped out exactly through Wednesday.

The Wednesday afternoon readjustment was the worst: Oh, not tonight? Tomorrow during the day? No? Late tomorrow night? No? Friday? I nearly cried at the elementary school when a friend asked how I was doing.

March 8, 2015 (1)

But then the fairly quick stages of single-parenting grief set in: self-pity, meal planning, appointment re-scheduling, exhaustion, and acceptance.

Spring began immediately after lunch on Thursday. It was just that abrupt.  Following a warm week in January, we'd had a cold and rainy February, and then winter fled during lunch on Thursday. (What, do I think I'm writing a novel? Tone it down, Heebie.)

Furthermore, Hawaii and Rascal's schools were both closed on Friday. Jammies had been planning on staying home with them. So I cancelled everything on Friday, instead, which is...not so bad.  Spring Break began Thursday afternoon. After all, it was 75° out.

Single parenting is like eating a really terrible meal instead of a great meal: once the meal is over, it just doesn't matter anymore. Wednesday was awful, and I recalibrated the next few days, and it passed.

I even showered Thursday night.  There was a boil-water notice from the city, so we got Taco Cabana instead of cooking, and now it's Spring Break.  My very tiring, greasy weak is over.

March 15, 2015 (5)

When you're gone, I sleep/park diagonally in my bed/driveway. When you're here, I park/sleep lengthwise. (I got so used to parking in the middle of the driveway that Jammies had to squeeze in when he got home.)

Weekly Recap of The Kids Being Cute:

Ace bellowing, from her crib: DAAAAAADDY! WHERE ARE YOUUUUUU? I'M IN HEE-EERE!
She yelled that periodically for thirty minutes, while Jammies milked the last bit of time in bed. I went to get her out of her crib, but she preferred to wait for Jammies. She was good-natured about the whole thing.

Hawaii and Ace both had/have raspy bellowing toddler voices. Hokey Pokey had a high pitched squeaky toddler voice.  Rascal has a gurbley coo.

Hokey Pokey delivered a long speech about a bullet hitting the planet earth. It caused all manner of explosions (my words). Specifically, an earthquake fissure began to crack through our town. The crack separated us from our house. We would have to jump over the crack when we got to it. I argued in favor of a ramp that would just launch the minivan over the crack, so lazy am I when it comes to jumping over an active crevasse-forming fault line running through the town. Pokey wasn't having any of it. We debated at length how exactly we'd get the minivan over the crack, if we jumped over without it.

Hawaii finally let me french braid her hair:

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(Each day I take a photo so that she can see what it looks like.)

The cat: balancing the pain meds which will hasten his kidney failure, and his arthritis pain. Every few days he howls in agony for about thirty seconds.  He stumbles around, legs failing to gain purchase on the floor, toenails scritching.

On Friday night, mid-agony, he tried to get into his cat bed, failed, and crawled into his kitty carrier. I thought he might be sneaking off to die. I pulled in a pillow and laid on the floor next to him.

March 15, 2015 (6)

Kitty hiding in the otherwise-hated carrier.

In the middle of the night, my side was numb and Rascal was hungry and I went to bed.

The next day, Big Cat seemed happy again. We are definitely measuring life in days and weeks.

Last night, I sat in the kitchen, daring Big Cat to come close enough that I could swaddle him and give him IV fluids. Big Cat sat just out of reach.  Just below his neck, I could see his heartbeat - his fur was fluttering with each beat. Two patches of fur, on either side of his solar plexus, beating visibly. Slightly below that, I could see his chest expanding and contracting with his lungs, at a distinctly different tempo. That can't be a good sign if your cat's beating heart is visible from a few feet away.

My Colleague

Can I write a character description of my colleague, if it's sufficiently loving and I'd be okay with her (hypothetically) reading it? I think that's ethically fine. She's in the math department with me.

She's around 60 years old and fully embracing the "I just gotta be me"-ness of late femininity. What does she gotta be? She watches The Bachelor every Wednesday and tells us about it, as we roll our eyes and tease her. "The date was based on Cinderella! She got dressed up in the most beautiful gown and had to be home by midnight!" "How can you love that shlock?!" we say, every Thursday. "I just do!" she says, happily.

She wears a different outfit, every single day of the semester. She will not repeat an outfit. She keeps track.

She never cooks, and only eats take-out.

She works at Heebie U full-time, teaching math, but also adjuncts at two other schools. As far as I can tell, it's because she loves being busy and loves teaching math. She is in fact a great math teacher, who is much more dedicated to her students than I am. Giving them her personal cell number, setting up individual conferences with every student at the beginning and middle of the semester, and so on. I would never.

She spends as much time as possible watching high school sports. She is a fanatical high school sports fan. She will go to five or six various games in a weekend.

She donates extensive time mentoring kids in the community. Due to the mentoring, she realized gradually that rural Texas is pretty extremely racist. We're supposedly a liberalizing influence on her, but she is still anti-taxes.

She is wonderful and upbeat and charming, but if you put her in a novel it would not be believable.

A student

gave me cabbage from her garden, which struck me as picturesque:

March 15, 2015 (4)


Breast reconstruction

In all my heavy thinking about deciding to decline reconstructive surgery, somehow I'd missed this fact:


A mastectomy and reconstruction is not the same as getting a boob job. Because your breast tissue is removed, implants go behind the muscles in your chest wall.  This will feel exactly like you think it will.  Pushups feel strange, and sometimes while driving, if I turn the wheel sharply, I can feel the muscles pull across my breasts.  It’s such a strange sensation (and wrong!! it’s all wrong!!) that it used to make me nauseous.


I knew that the implants sometimes went behind the muscle, and other times they don't, but I hadn't directly realized that the difference was reconstruction versus cosmetic surgery.

I still don't want implants. I just hadn't realized I wasn't declining a normal boob job.

Cute kids being cute kids:

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Ace in her red boots. That's a rubberband around the respective faces of the HPs, giving them toddler jowls.

I like the phrase "the television set" instead of TV, although it doesn't roll off my tongue. It sounds like furniture. Was it actually a set that came in multiple parts at some point?

4 kittens

The VOMIT bench

Posted on 2015.03.08 at 10:22
We hosted our annual calculus high school competition yesterday, and it was a comedy of clusterfuckiness.  Worse than forgetting to order the shirts, worse than forgetting to ask student government for money, worse than discovering epic lines at the usually-vacant cafeteria, worse than everything being left till the last minute and riddled with errors, was the lightning round.

The lightning round went like this: Every team got every question right. They use clickers, and the right and wrong answers are displayed on the screen. "100% of you entered choice D...let's see what the right answer was!" I was emceeing this round, and found it absolutely excruciatingly awkward. "Everyone gets two points, again!"

The problem with the lightning round is that the top high school math students are much stronger than the typical Heebie U math club members, and the Heebie U students are slow to realize that they're writing an exam for someone better at math than themselves.

Basically the rest of the problems were: stuff did not get done while I was on sabbatical, and when I came back I was lackadaisacal about turning into dictator and didn't realize exactly how casually the interim faculty member had been handling things.  (For the record, the other faculty member was the one that proofread the lightning round.)

March 8, 2015 (1)

I want to make VOMIT my cover photo on facebook, but the melding of worldspheres is too much for me. I think VOMIT is great fun but I really do not want to get into a conversation with a work colleague about whether or not I'm depressed. So I'll settle for using VOMIT to illustrate the calculus competition.

The VOMIT bench was outside Jason's Deli.
Hawaii said, "I miss Drake."
"Your babysitter?" I asked.
"No, Drake from my class. He changed schools."
"Mmm," I said, maybe compassionately.
"Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye to someone you love," she said casually, wistfully, glancing briefly into the parking lot with a faraway look. She absolutely nailed the delivery.

I was exactly Hawaii's age when I discovered I could deliver sentences in an adultlike way - withering, or sarcastic, or exhausted or dramatic - all suddenly within my reach for dramatic purposes. It was super fun. It is indeed hard to say goodbye to someone you love with exactly the right amount of angst in your voice, eyes on the horizon, but without over-doing it. Part of the delivery is shaking it off and pulling yourself back into the moment. Chores to be done, Jason's Deli to be eaten, mom is done snapping her VOMIT photo.

March 8, 2015 (1)

In Jason's Deli, the counter guy came down the aisle towards us, hands out and cheering for high fives. Hawaii high-fived him. Hokey Pokey grabbed his hand and kissed his palm, with gusto.

Pokey had so much flair that the counter guy was momentarily jerked out of character. He stopped short and said, "Oh my god, that was the cutest thing ever," and feigned melting a little, with his hands clutched over his heart. Then he resumed and gave Ace a high five, and even Rascal a token poke.

During dinner, I sat next to Ace. The whole time I wanted to run far, far away. I cannot handle the 20-month I DO EVERYTHING MYSELF stage. She was swimming in a pool of macaroni and ice cream when we left. We left $5 on the table, even though Jason's Deli has counter service and is not really a tipping place, more as an apology than a tip.  So gross.

This is what I have to say about Ace feeding herself macaroni and cheese and ice cream:

March 8, 2015 (1).

I got my genetic test results back: I am positive for a deleterious mutation or suspected deleterious, BRCA1 (538insC) gene.

I felt relief. I had a vague fear over the past two weeks that it would come back negative, and that I'd have been getting all this extra attention and medical care under false pretenses. Egg on my face, averted, we can carry on as scheduled.

This one loves his big siblings. Boy does he:

March 8, 2015 (3) March 8, 2015 (2)

..........

Ace wakes up each morning singing Happy Birthday, and her current favorite animal is called Daddy Bear. It's all unbelievably cute. This one has amazing comic timing.

She walks around with her belly in perfect equipoise to her butt, belly pointing left-right-left-right as she walks, elbows out for speed. If you put 2T clothes on her, the shirt will spontaneously roll up like a cartoon window blind. So she's in 3T clothes, more or less the same girth as Hokey Pokey. It's so goddamn cute.

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March 8, 2015 (17)

Things Hawaii said:
1. Do you want to hear a joke?
[yes, of course.]
What's sock plus S?
[what?]
SOCKS! Get it? Because "sock" and an "S" makes "socks"?
[Good one, Hawaii.]

2. Oh my god! Your last name is Geebie, daddy's last name is Whammies, and our last name is Geebiewhammies!! My last name is your last name plus Daddy's last name!
[Yes it is!]

Great outfits that the big kids put together:

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Hokey Pokey is wearing tight Christmas pants.

Back when Mimi was in town, mid-February, we went out to eat with some other families. The kids ran around in the wide open dirt-space of the restaurant, while we sipped wine at a picnic table. I sat next to a local comedienne. I knew the comedienne - I've gone to her shows - but she didn't exactly know me.

She is very funny, and I found myself forced into the role of the straightman, which in this case was the properly appalled upright mom. I resented being type-cast. But it was also true: I can't hang anymore. The comedienne told the story of coming home stoned, having no food, and having her kid catch her scooping honey out of the jar with rolled up sliced ham.  It is right and proper that I play the straightman, because we dutifully plan our meals and go grocery shopping every Sunday and so I really can't relate anymore.

I remember relating! I want to be part of the life-is-a-mess club! I want to have my own story of being a drunken mess and hilarious things happened and life was riotous. But in fact, I quip "A British bank is run with precision. A British household requires nothing less," when someone asks us if we're organized, with all these kids. We joke that we're coming apart at the seams, but the reference point is a British bank, not the local comedienne.  Compared to the local comedienne, we are the Swiss clock at the center of the British bank. I'm jealous of her stories, but what can you do.

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The local comedienne is also a sex educator, and told a story of recieving a box of sex toys, and keeping the double pronged dildo to use with her boyfriend, and how they used it.

My mother-in-law was sitting right next to me. (Jammies was out of town, this story is old.) We self-conciously kept our eyes trained on our own plates of food, and I joked, "I'm a tad awkward!" red-faced, when asked directly if I cared that she was talking about double-penetration. "But you keep telling this great story!" I told the comedienne, "and I'll do my awkward thing."

I saw this:

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after putting his milk in the fridge at daycare, and turning around. "He sits in that?" I asked them, amazed. "Yes," they said, "we think he needs to work on his core strength."
"He is very, very floppy," I agreed.

I don't actually care if they work on his core strength - I imagine he lasted 30 seconds in that position before face-planting and bonking his forehead on the table.  I personally think they're silly for working on his core strength, but the picture was cute.

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"See, I made gears!" said my clever eldest, using the right knob to turn the left knob. This can be my private bragging moment.

March 8, 2015 (14)

This is what the clock said, when Jammies and I went to bed last night. It was 7:56 pm on March 7th, and we both fell asleep within thirty minutes.

Jammies is going out of town again, tomorrow. Woe.

4 kittens

Clare Turlay Newberry

Posted on 2015.03.01 at 09:28
I was startled just now to see Hawaii walking down the hall, cradling Rascal in her arms. "Mom, Dad, he spit up everywhere," she said authoritatively.  I've never seen her walk around the house with him before. She was holding him fine - he's still very, very floppy - but it was still jarring.

March 1, 2015 (5)

On Monday I did my last current events discussion with students at Heebie U. We discussed the #blacklivesmatter activist movement. I was a nervous wreck. I had a big, existential crisis about the videos - Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, and Levar Jones - and the fact that I hate watching violence and couldn't bring myself to watch the videos.

It went...reasonably well. About twenty black students from the black student union unexpectedly showed up, so black kids outnumbered white kids, which changed the tenor of the conversation (for the better). The tension in the room was sky-high. Everyone was on their very best behavior. We spent the first 30 minutes talking about specific ways that white people sometimes sabotage conversations about race.

I didn't show three of the videos, although I kept the links in the Powerpoint. When we got to those slides, I explained that I couldn't bring myself to watch. I got teary and emotional, which was embarrassing and awkward, but probably made my point rhetorically, better than anything I could have said. We did watch Levar Jones, because he lives. (I'm almost petulantly adamant about not watching someone getting killed.) Plus the Levar Jones video is so a wildly appalling that it makes a big impact.

The white kids made timid comments like "It's so hard to know what to say to not offend someone" and the black students shared plenty of things that people do that offend them. Near the end, a white girl got on a bit of a soapbox about being color-blind. I sort of jumped up and down saying "That's a super loaded word! What a landmine!" and took one response and then called it a night. Overall....it was fine. Afterwards I felt like I got hit with a Mack truck.

All week long, I had a mild emotional hangover.  I felt bad that I hated the evening so much, that it was so draining, and sort of ashamed that I don't have to deal with this sort of thing if I don't want to.

"During the discussion, I began to really understand how much of a controversial topic race is," one student wrote, in a comment on the blog where they are forced to comment and obediently reflect on the discussion. I guess that's good?

It was a long week.  I learned a lot about myself: that I hate talking about current events with young adults. Or rather, I knew that, but part of learning is reviewing the big concepts periodically.

March 1, 2015 (1)

Later we had extra visitors to the math department, a math club meeting, and Quiz Bowl. I missed a lot of evenings at home.  (I did not go see Temple Grandin speak at Heebie U - instead I smugly remembered when panisdead and I went to go see her, with Sara's parents, back in 8th grade. I remember feeling incredibly adultlike and being surprised by how much I enjoyed the evening.)

Jammies took all four kids to gymnastics on Wednesday, while I worked, with Rascal strapped up against him in the baby bjorn. Afterwards, in the dark, the big kids ran into the big drainage field next to the parking lot.

They straggled back, holding all kinds of nasty deteriorating trash and claiming it was treasure. Hokey Pokey had a straw in his mouth. That particular detail slayed Jammies to his knees, that Pokey had a nasty old actual straw from a drainage field, in his mouth.

Then Ace found a straw, too, and put it in her mouth, while Jammies was arguing with Pokey on the status of the first straw. Somehow three kids kept putting garbage in their mouth, to Jammies' horror and astonishment. "STOP PUTTING SHIT IN YOUR MOUTHS!" he pled. In the re-telling, at least, this was very funny to me.

March 1, 2015 (2)

"What's it called if you don't like the person you're married to, and so you get a divorce, and then you marry someone new, and then you decide you don't like that person so you get another divorce, and then you marry the first person again?" asked Hawaii.
"I don't think there's a word for that," said Jammies.
"I think it's called divorceability," said Hawaii, "I'm pretty sure it's called that."

March 1, 2015 (3)

Rascal's daycare, we realized, just microwaves the bottles of milk. This is one of those things that you're told to look for when evaluating a daycare - do they prop bottles up in babies' mouths? Do they microwave bottles? You're supposed to warm up the bottle by placing it in hot water for a little bit, according to whatever authorities I've absorbed.

The reason given is usually that if you microwave milk, it will develop hot spots. It's hard to see how giving the bottle a good shake wouldn't spread the heat evenly.  Another reason is that you don't want to microwave plastic. The counterargument is: isn't the plastic getting heated, no matter how you heat the bottle? If the plastic gives off nasty chemicals when you heat it, the plastic is doing so, either way.

So I can't bring myself to say something, but it annoys me that they don't abide by the wisdom of the internet authorities.

March 1, 2015 (4)

Last spring was the worst. I felt so sick. Work was too hard, physically, and kids were too hard, and I couldn't seem to articulate my suffering in a way that generated anywhere close to the sympathy I wanted. (Like, I wanted renewed, spoken sympathy on an unrealistic repeat.) Jammies took care of me, took care of the kids, and took care of the house, but I still hated life.

This spring is the opposite. I feel so great. Work is great (this week aside), the kids are great, Jammies is great, and I am insufferably pleased with life. It's nice. (I haven't lost one smidge of weight, but I've been buying clothes that I love off ebay, and I mostly feel fine, as long as I'm wearing clothes that I love.)

I read the title "Basic Instructions" for some link and thought, "I don't need instructions for being basic. I've got it nailed." Which is to say that I also love Pinterest. I've been browsing for cat art lately, to determine a style for my future tattoos, and it is Clare Turlay Newberry. She wrote and illustrated a bunch of children's books about cats in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I'm also fond of her name.

March 1, 2015 (6)

Ace loves this British CGI show about these bumble bees that float around in hexagonnally designed houses and fields, with floating little hands and feet that are detached from their bodies. Now and then there's a screen shot in which the bee body is entirely off screen, and you get a close-up of just the detached little white gloved hands, which I think is a little weird. Hamburger helper-esque.

Ace squawked something unintelligible, on the way to school, until I saw what she was pointing at. "It's an excavator! It's an excavator!" she garbled, pointing at some construction vehicles. It was indeed. Pokey said, academically, "It's not really. It's too small. It's actually a mini-scooper."  I think he's technically correct, because I've learned to trust him on such things, but I preferred to stay in the moment where Ace was babbling about an excavator.

Hokey Pokey is becoming one of those kids who rambles on about his obsession du jour, which is generally an animal. How fast it runs, what it eats, what it's related to, how big it gets, and so on. He picks neat animals - pumas, pelicans, cheetahs. I don't really know how he has access to all this information, unless he's pestering his sainted teachers at daycare.

"Did you know there's lizards that live in the snow?" he just said. I really didn't know that, if I've ever even thought about it directly. "Are there daddy deer that don't have horns? I think there are. Some daddy deer have horns, but not all of them." I didn't know that either, but that felt wrong. (We need to look it up.)  "Is a pelican's beak actually bigger than it's belly?" Yes, that one we looked up and verified.

At this point, it's still pretty great. I like the animals and I like being impressed with my kid's bottomless appetite for information.

March 1, 2015 (8)

Rascal is a big coo-er these days. And his arms are starting to flail around with intention - he's batting at little dangling things over his face, that sort of thing.

Will I remember that our babies nap in the bathroom? We usually swaddle and put them down in the vibrating chair, in the bathroom, and turn on our roaring bathroom fan for white noise, and they sleep for hours there. There, now I'll remember. "Don't use the front bathroom," we remind guests, "the baby's in there."

4 kittens

Two mouthfuls of Scope

Posted on 2015.02.22 at 17:14
Sometimes spit up looks like a happy face:

Feb 22, 2015 (1)

The eyes were easier to see in person.

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

Hawaii told me, "I wanted my hair to do [some elaborate description]. Plan A was to [more elaborate planning], and Plan B was [even more]. I really hoped that one of those plans worked, because there was no Plan C!"

Who knows what happened to her hair, but I was tickled by her elocution. No plan C, indeed!

We had our teacher conference with Hawaiian Punch's kindergarten teacher this week. The teacher is very pleased with Hawaii. It's nice to listen to someone rave about your kid.  "When I leave the room, to go to the bathroom or something, I put Hawaii in charge," the teacher said, "I can count on her to tell me exactly who did what wrong while I was out of the room." Sounds spot on.


Feb 22, 2015 (2)

This was on the hallway wall at school, to celebrate 100 days of the school year.

I think Hawaii has been going through a mental growth spurt over the last 2-3 months. Both reading and reading music clicked into place, in very similar ways. Something became automatic.

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

Hokey Pokey is knee-deep in the packrat stage of childhood, where the plastic lid found at the playground, and Hawaii's old toothbrush, and the handful of rocks, are all items with a deep emotional attachment.  He's also getting a bit more able to tolerate frustration without losing his shit, which is a relief.

Also he's at the stage where there is so much sand in his shoes, from the sandbox, that you'd think it would displace his feet. Really, he can dump an actual pile of sand, with volume in the square inches, out of a single shoe.

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It's hard to be 20 months old, because sometimes you're stuck in a bean bag and can't get out.

Feb 22, 2015 (4) Feb 22, 2015 (3)

Everyone thinks it's hilarious and takes photos, and you lack the core muscles and are just so upset.

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

My hair started to fall out!
 I'm so happy to be post-post-partum. Exactly on schedule - Rascal turned 3 months old on Wednesday. I had the worst senioritis, waiting for the three month mark. All due to vanity - I have never lost an ounce of weight in the first three months post-partum.


I'm three months old!

Feb 22, 2015 (10)

He's looking at Ace:

Feb 22, 2015 (11)

who was rocking him.

Rascal had his first formula on his three month birthday, because I took the big kids to see some African acrobats this week, performing free at Heebie U. They were great - dancing, flipping, lots of African drums. It felt like a high quality America's Got Talent act, which turned out to be prescient of me.

We had good seats:

Feb 22, 2015 (16)

I was going to screen grab some photos from their website, but those are all a bit more impressive than anything we saw. But the show was fantastic, nevertheless, and the kids woke up the next morning chattering on about it.

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

On Thursday I met with the genetic counselour. I told her ahead of time that I was positive, and she tailored her information accordingly. She was exceedingly helpful, and gave me the name of an oncological gynecologist for the oophorectomy, which I'd had trouble locating.

I don't remember giving the genetic sample 15 years ago - maybe they drew blood? were cheek swabs a thing yet? - but it sure as hell wasn't this:


Feb 22, 2015 (8)

I was told to swish Scope for 30 seconds, and then spit into the test tube. Repeat until the test tube was half full.

Feb 22, 2015 (9)

It took two mouthfuls, not as bad as I'd feared.

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

Some last thoughts:

I'm starting an herb garden:

Feb 22, 2015 (15)

The kids helped. Lots and lots of basil!

- and -

"I've got all the core muscles I need, thank you very much."

Feb 22, 2015 (14) Feb 22, 2015 (12) Feb 22, 2015 (13)

With that, Mr. Spit up Sleeve bids you adieu.

Feb 22, 2015 (1)

4 kittens

Going dark, reliably

Posted on 2015.02.14 at 16:13
Rascal wasn't taking his bottles very well, at daycare. They actually called me at work.

The next day was the same. I was not very concerned.

When I picked him up, the teacher suggested that I start pumping at home, and try bottle-feeding him at home.  I was stunned and full of fury, because pumping is awful and I like actually nursing him and...I mean. "You're pumping already at work, right?" she pressed on, "So you could do it at home, too?"

Rascal was screaming his head off. What I actually said, eventually, was "It's hard to think with him screaming..." and then I scrammed outta there.

The next morning they called me, again. "By mistake we poured one of his bottles of breast milk down the sink," they said. My eyes bugged out of my head, but since we were on the phone they may not have noticed. I took a deep breath and asked, "Could you call me when he finishes his last bottle of milk, so that I know roughly when to come get him?" They said sure.

(All that precious milk. Down the fucking tubes.)

They called at 3, so I left work at 4. When I got to daycare, the assistant said, "I was just about to give him these last 2 ounces of milk!" Yet a third time my anger flared. "I thought he finished his last bottle at 3?" I asked. "No, he started his last bottle at 3. He drank half of it."

I would have stayed at work another hour longer, and I sent steaming mad texts saying so, to Jammies.

Rascal and I had an extra hour. We ended up cuddling in the twilight, at home by ourselves.  I really can't complain about a sequence of events that culminates that way. The whole week was like that: frustration that turns into something rather nice, like cuddling at sunset, while browsing ebay. (I have an ebay problem, lately.)

The next morning, they were super apologetic about having poured out the milk. I can't stay angry at someone who feels bad - it's like miracle powder. You feel bad? We're squarsies. Please don't feel bad anymore. Then I can file the incident away and be done with it.

Smile:

February 14, 2015 (3) February 14, 2015 (4)
February 14, 2015 (2) February 14, 2015 (1)


(I swear, one of my luckiest traits is a short memory for things that upset me. Sometimes I go back and read this journal, and little slights and wrongs just seem a hundred miles away.)

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

None of our kids are three years old! Isn't that nice? Babies and toddlers are nice, four and five year olds are nice, but three year olds are the WORST. We are in the eye of the hurricane, where nobody is three years old. It's lovely!

When people ask, rhetorically, how we find having four children, my pre-packaged answer is, "We've reached the level of our incompetence!" But actually, it feels a bit organized and reasonable. I think this is because none of our children are currently three years old.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

Monday morning, post-workout, the minivan was totally dead. The dome lights wouldn't turn on, the key remote wouldn't work. I called Jammies, and he reminded me about the jump-box.

I got the jump-box, tried to hook it up, and failed. I called Jammies again. After dropping Hawaii off at school, he came to meet me.

We were both frazzled and upset. Several Geeblets were wailing. We had to decide which one of us would deliver and pick up of all the kids, and which of us would drive an unreliable vehicle, for the day and maybe the next and who knows. He gave the minivan a jump - somehow it worked from his truck - and I drove the unreliable vehicle to work. The electrical system flickered as I was driving, and when I parked, it went completely dark again.

That afternoon, I called campus cops for a jump. The very nice cop warned me against driving twenty miles to the Honda dealership in Heebieville, and recommended that I just take it somewhere local in SadTown. "Is there any shop that would also rent me a loaner car?" I asked her. She laughed. "No way!" I couldn't see how it was workable if I couldn't rent a car.  (Insert something sanctimonious about how shitty it is that transportation failure is a catastrophic disaster if you're poor, for exactly reasons like inability to afford a rental car. I mean, the catastrophe is real, but my impulse to hector about it says more about me being a smug liberal than anything else.)

I drove back to Heebieville, trying to keep the air conditioning off, the music off, and generally tax the minivan as little as possible. I was sweating and mentally re-scheduling the afternoon according to where I might break down, and how long the tow truck might take.

I got to the Honda dealership. I know all the arguments against using a dealership. But the previous owners used this same dealership, and Jammies has a strong preference towards systems that keep everything organized and reliable.  I turned off the minivan and it went dark, reliably.

This is the moment that is the point of the whole story: I was sweaty and panicky and relieved to be there. The very nice woman remembered me, personally, greeted me, reassured me. She sat me down on some leather chairs, in the air conditioning, and invited me to drink their coffee from a fancy Keurig machine and use their wi-fi.  She told me not to worry about a rental car, until they had a chance to look at the minivan. (I'd been worrying about transferring and installing baby and kid car seats, and that sort of thing.)

So I sank into a leather chair, and got out my computer, and made myself some coffee, and that moment was itself so beautiful.  So very pampered and soothed, when moments earlier I'd been sweaty and harried. I realized that is why you go to the Honda dealership, so that you might be pampered and soothed right when you're at your wits end.

(It turned out that a terminal was loose, on the negative side of the battery. That's why the jump box hadn't worked for me that morning - it hadn't gotten a proper connection with its smaller clamps. It cost us $30, total, and took all of 45 minutes.)

Let's have more smiles:

February 14, 2015 (8) February 14, 2015 (7)
February 14, 2015 (6)


...ooo000OOO000ooo...

Funny things our friends' kids do:
1. The Ms have identical twin three year olds. Sometimes one of the twins will approach one of the parents and say, "Which one are you again?"

That amuses me so much, that the twins think this is a reasonable question that everybody asks everybody.

2. Our Christian-anarchist friends are kind of hard to describe, or maybe that sums them up. Their kids are lately very into facepaint, which is expensive. So they told the kids to switch to markers.  Now the kids regularly draw all over their face and bodies - and I mean they are fully colored in, with marker.

It's hilarious but also one of those confronting things where you have to double-check whether or not you should permit such behavior in your own children. So I double-checked, and nope, markers are only to be used on paper in this house. Sorry, Geeblets.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

I have many peasant blouses for work - most are hand-me-downs. It's a forgiving cut, if you're perpetually between pregnancies.  I wore one on Wednesday. This particular one has a keyhole neckline. It lined up perfectly with the substantial cleavage, created by one particular nursing bra. I was mortified all day, and kept trying to shift it around and get the fabric to fall elsewhere. It was awful. (I hadn't worn this shirt with gigantic nursing breasts before.)

This story does not have an unexpectedly nice moment at the end, except that the day ended and I changed into pajamas. That's always nice.

This is an illustration from an otherwise-unremarkable children's book called Steam Train, Dream Train:

February 14, 2015 (17)

These beds are part of the train. The idea of sleeping in a bed which is being pulled by a train is terribly enchanting to me. The ultimate luxury.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

We had some very warm days. My yearly springtime ennui threatened. It's not the blues so much as somberness. The first whiff of spring and warmth makes me serious and solemn.

It's this: summer feels like the end of the environmental cycle, when everything bakes and dies. When all the animals seek shade and hide. All the people have to fight against the heat. I spend lots of time by myself. Mid-summer is the height of oppressive, deadly weather. It's isolating and serious, but not exactly bad. I like being isolated and serious.

Then fall is a time of rejuvenation, when everyone comes back to life and feels like moving again.

I drove past these trees full of bird's nests:

February 14, 2015 (13)

I was stopped at a stoplight, the trees behind me. You can't see the birds' nests, but I still like the photo.

February 14, 2015 (14)

That's a little better - all those brown dots are birds' nests.

I don't hate the summers, exactly. (Except September. I hate September.) But they require endurance. When the weather first turns warm, in the spring, it's like the first time you apply the breaks after you've been cruising. "Tail lights? Is that...?" and then as you're braking, you find yourself in a long, hot traffic jam. For July, August, and September. This analogy is awfully inapt.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

Ace is the cutest. She echoes everything, like all the names of the wildcats on the website of big and small wild cats. (Pokey is a cheetah, a puma, a cougar, a lynx, etc on various days. He does know that cougars are a type of puma, so keep that to yourself.) Ace runs down the hallway, wobbling from side to side in that toddling 20-month old way.

February 14, 2015 (11) February 14, 2015 (10)
February 14, 2015 (9)

She's the cutest!

A nice cheetah/puma/cougar/lynx, sometimes named Sven, who sometimes can't talk:

February 14, 2015 (5)

Those are the boots, wranglers, and belt from the country wedding last fall. Tch, tch.

The other day he wore his white button down shirt, because he was playing that he was going to work in an office. That was pretty cute all day.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

Jammies feels strongly that the trash can and recycling bin have fixed spots, outside. Five years ago, I would have switched these, as often as possible. In order to see how long Jammies would silently rearrange them before saying something about it. It would have been funny to me.

It still seems funny, but now I'd never actually do it. Too tired? More mature? Less obnoxious? It's hard to say.

On Thursday, Jammies went on his annual ski trip, except they are golfing instead, and Mimi came to stay for the weekend. So I am enjoying a quiet Valentine's Day with my mother-in-law. It is lacking romance, but pleasant in other ways.

...ooo000OOO000ooo...

This one saved this shirt for half a year, in order to wear it to school for her Valentines Day party. I was impressed that she remembered to pull it out.

February 14, 2015 (12)


Ace actually colors very carefully, given how stubby and chubby those little hands are:

February 14, 2015 (15) February 14, 2015 (16)

I was impressed.

4 kittens

The one about Frieda Kahlo

Posted on 2015.02.08 at 16:02
For my birthday, Jammies got me a bluetooth headset and a meat thermometer. The former because he gently prods me towards technology use, and the latter due to a recurring battle between his preference for a digital thermometer and my tendency to melt them in the oven. I believe in metal, analog thermometers that can stand the heat. Which is the kind he bought for me.

Later we went out for ice cream. The kids all got Starburst flavor, which turns out to be wildly sweet and a bit tart, and Pokey regretted it, but shared Jammies' chocolate ice cream. (Technically it's Serve Your Own Yogurt. They charge by the ounce and provide disorientingly large bowls. "Has ice cream always come in a bucket?" you wonder.)

I went estate sailing for my birthday and got these marvelous ducks:

February 8, 2015 (1)

which will hide among the plants in the window box:

February 8, 2015 (2)

At work, we have to change our password every six months. So my password has my age - 35, 35.5, 36, 36.5, and so on - tacked on the end. When the IT people wanted me to upgrade from XP to Windows 7, I kept putting it off to coincide with my birthday or half-birthday. But then I'd forget or procrastinate and have to wait six more months. The IT people started to quack a bit louder when Microsoft ended all XP support last spring.

So finally, to celebrate turning 37, I handed my laptop over on Monday. When I popped it out of the docking station, the IT guy said, "Oh, you know how to pop your computer out." I asked, "Is it common that people here don't know how to get their laptop out of the docking station?"
He said, "Yes, very."
I asked, "Why do they have a laptop?"
He said, "I ask them that. They usually say that someone told them how much they'd love having a laptop."

It's not surprising that faculty members don't know how to use their docking station. What amazes me is that they don't think it's worth asking. They think it'll be some long, complicated procedure that they'll forget before they ever use it. No, guys, it's really simple. It's that big eject button right there.

Anyway, IT had my laptop. By the end of Monday it was not done. Something wouldn't mount properly, like maybe a bum steer. They returned it on Tuesday.

Over Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the IT people came back six more time - problems with sleep/hibernation, Firefox, importing my bookmarks, the sound, sleep/hibernation again, Adobe Acrobat, and sleep/hibernation again. They said they'd never seen an upgrade go so badly, but if I were them, I'd say that every time the customer seemed frustrated.

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

Jammies went to Denver:


February 8, 2015 (13)

It looks like a race car (palindrome!), but it's just a Corvette, or so I'm told. Jammies is driving it with his head, or at least trying out the mouth piece. The idea is that this parapalegic former race car driver can take it out at the races and show off the technology. That guy zooms around at 70-100 mph, driving with his head. The thing in Jammies' mouth  is a blow/suck thing for gas and brake.

While Jammies was in Denver, I had to single-parent, obviously. WOE IS ME.

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

My prog rock shoes, which I bought off ebay:

February 8, 2015 (14)

I love them.  I have prog rock jeans that I like to wear with them, with a men's v-neck sweater or white v-neck shirt. I only have the foggiest notion of what constitutes actual prog rock music. But the fashion is clear.

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

I now have eight medical cards in my wallet. Aetna Insurance is overwhelmed by the idea of putting six names on a single card. So they've issued us two cards apiece for medical, dental, vision, and prescription. Now who's overwhelmed? (Thanks, Obamacare.)

We sometimes watch a pair of sisters, whose mother is generally keeping it all together by the thinnest of margins. (The father is out of the picture.) Last weekend, she included some kiddie ibuprofen when she dropped them off, saying that the three year old has a cavity that bothers her sometimes.

Obviously she will not go to the dentist unless it becomes an emergency room situation. They just can't afford dental work. I hate this fucking country. It's a baby tooth; eventually it will fall out.

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

My grandfatherly colleague left the movie Frieda, the one about Frieda Kahlo, in my mailbox and told me that he was lending it to me so that we could chat about it afterwards.  What a nice guy. I thanked him, thinking how I haven't watched a movie in years, and that it would be a major imposition to block out 90 minutes of any evening to watch Frieda to facilitate a water cooler chat.

On the one hand, he is such a sweet guy and what a nice thought. On the other hand - and yes I sound like the world's most annoying martyr - I am never going to displace two hours in an evening to watch this movie. (I deleted a few sentences complaining about how little free time I have, because really, I'm quite content with this life. But I am never going to watch Frieda.)

This was all while Jammies was out of town, and I was feeling particularly sorry for myself and my lack of free time. But now he's home and really: I generally don't like watching movies, regardless of free time. I don't like sitting still for that long.

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

Along with the plant-hidden ducks, I got this shirt:


February 8, 2015 (7)

at the estate sales. It made me sneeze like mad when I put it on. And these kitchen implements:

February 8, 2015 (12)

and note that that spatula has a clever flipping mechanism. You squeeze the handle and it flips. This miniature chair:

February 8, 2015 (11)

which I will give to my mother, who collects such things. These office supplies:

February 8, 2015 (10)

for my office at work. This amber glass:

February 8, 2015 (8)

because I allow myself one collection, which is amber glasses:

February 8, 2015 (9)

This trivet, which is kind of meh:

February 8, 2015 (3)

These light switch covers:

February 8, 2015 (4)

which are not meh at all!  I've had this cannister for awhile, but it's so dang cute:

February 8, 2015 (5)

that I thought I'd include a photo of it.

We were in some old neighborhoods in central San Antonio which were absolutely fascinating - little kit houses that almost felt like New Orleans, with the bright colors and wrought iron, but also still a lot of Mexican influences in the neighborhoods, because it is San Antonio. Super charming.

It's not that I don't have time to watch Frieda, but it sure isn't a priority.

4 kittens

U got it bad

Posted on 2015.02.01 at 08:37
Big Kitty goes back to the vet this morning. We have been giving him IV fluids nightly for three weeks now.

Adventures:
1. I stabbed my finger to the bone with the needle. Holy god that hurt for a few days.

2. I went to finish a glass of milk that had been left on the counter. It tasted like bodily fluid ocean water, and I lurched to the sink and dramatically spit it out everywhere.  That cup of old milk had been used to collect the excess from the IV tube, when we switched bags. The foul, salty taste of IV fluid and milk stuck with me for a few days. (I contemplated writing "like old semen", and then got hung up on whether I want my children to ever read such a description from me.)

3. On our bed, there were some brown spots. I feared Old Kitty was beginning to lose control of his bowels. I smelled them though, and it didn't smell like feces. But they were still wet. Finally we figured out that Kitty's back was bleeding copiously all over the place, from the IV that night. I petted him, looked at my hand, and my hand was smeared profusely with blood. I felt awful.

Believe it or not, the IV fluid process isn't terrible. I put a towel on my lap, pull Big Kitty on it and swaddle him up. He flinches a tiny bit when the needle goes in. But during the actual infusion, he purrs and seems content, and I rub all over his face and he approves.

(Big Kitty is now home from the vet, because writing these entries is a sprawling process. He has lost weight and the numbers from his bloodwork have gotten worse. This is probably the beginning of the end for dear Big Kitty, but I'm kind of in denial.)

You've got it, you've got it bad when you're on the phone, hang up and you call right back

Jammies and I alternate mornings. One of us gets the kids ready and dropped off, the other one leaves the house super early. On my mornings to leave the house, I go to 6 am xfit, get to work around 7:30, and shower in the math department bathroom, which is housed in an ancient dorm. The tile is yellow and charming, although very cracked. The hot water is limited.

There are an ungodly number of microscopic details. Things like "Hawaii wants milk in a cup next to her raisin bran" and "include a wet napkin" and "turn on the shower when you first enter the bathroom at work, so it has time to heat up" and "include jewelry and hair ties when you pack your clothes to get dressed after you shower at work" and "pack breakfast and breastpump stuff" and a thousand more. The mechanized life, that's me.

I use this towel when I showered at work:

January 31, 2015 (1)

One of those chamois, microfiber jobs. It's so convenient - you can store it damp, it's tiny, it works fine. It's like drying off with cold lunch meat.

I hate it. I knew I hated it, but I only recently realized that this lunchmeat towel is the linchpin of my hatred for the entire morning routine on those days. Fuck it, everybody, I'm bringing a real towel! Renegade on, Heebie.

(Early Friday morning, the sky was purple and the road was empty, and a fox ran across the road, way in front of me. He had the big bushy tail of a fox, at least. He mostly looked black, because the sun was not really up yet, hence the purple sky. It was a poetic moment.  I watched him run into the field next to the road, for a few more seconds, fox-like.)

You've got it, you've got it bad when you miss a day without your friend, your whole life's off track

I forgot to record here about my terrible, horrible no-good very bad day. This was before school started, when I went to a conference in San Antonio: I left my purse at home. I left the dome light on inside my car, so the battery died. We asked the hotel conference people for help. They looked for a jump box for 45 minutes before saying they couldn't find theirs. (The hood of my car was boxed in by walls and other cars.) I called AAA. After 45 minutes, they concluded that they couldn't help me, because I didn't have my ID, even though I'd asked them about that specific detail 45 minutes ago. I called our insurance company, which has a roadside assistance plan. They couldn't find a towing company with a car that could make it in this particular low-ceilinged garage.

Finally Jammies loaded up the three children and drove down and gave us a jump. I had baby Rascal with me. He screamed for most of the three extra hours that we were stuck at the conference. He screamed most of the way home. It took us 5 1/2 hours to go about 30 miles, and I carpooled with two friends so I wrecked their evening too.  See, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. (Some days are like that, even in Australia, as rfts quipped elsewhere.)

(Since then, Jammies bought me both a new battery and a jump box.)

You know you've got it bad when you're stuck in the house. You don't want to go out, because all you think about.

The carpet at the conference was ugly but bold. At times it looked like some sort of cellular membrane neuron structure:

February 1, 2015 (1)

In other places, it channeled a southwestern sun cha-cha:

February 1, 2015 (2)

And in other places, a folk-art quilt:

February 1, 2015 (3)

with a quasi-Arabic font border:

February 1, 2015 (4)

Put it all together and I hated it:

February 1, 2015 (5)

even though I tried not to, and still appreciate their attempt at cellular-southwestern-Arabic-folk art quilt carpet. It's a mouthful.  Pretty awful thing to aim for, guys.

You've got it bad when you're out with someone, but you keep on thinking about someone else. You've got it bad.

Our hand-me-downs come exclusively from families who have only one gender of kid.  The families who pass down clothes for Hawaii and Ace have much better taste than the families who pass down clothes for Pokey and Rascal.  So Pokey ends up wearing truly terrible pants, mostly.

Revealed preference reveals that I don't care enough to actually shop and buy him better pants.  Here's the problem: I tell Hawaii all the time that her outfit is great, because it is. I never tell Pokey that his outfit is great, because it isn't. It's technically only incidental to their gender - Hawaii has great ingredients in her closet, and Pokey has terrible ingredients in his closet, from which to construct outfits - but it sure does reinforce traditional gender lines. But I need to cut it out, or get Pokey some better clothes.

Hokey Pokey is a nice cheetah who can't talk. That is the opening line of a lot of conversations this week - "Pretend I'm a nice cheetah who can't talk" sometimes named Sven. It's a pretty easy proposition to go along with.

There's a new radio station out of San Antonio that plays all the pop rap and R&B from the 90s that you could ever desire; hence the Usher earworm. Sorry.

4 kittens

Color the tie red

Posted on 2015.01.24 at 21:03
On Thursday my shoulder was beeping. I swear. More like a ticking. I was holding Rascal in my left arm, and my right shoulder was ticking, and when I tried to localize the sound, it eluded me.  Finally I realized that the ticking of my watch was echoing up my sleeve, amplified right near my face. Weird as hell.

January 24, 2015 (7)

Do you remember my New Year's resolution? To document the Fluoride Fighters here in town? Conveniently, they returned to our door to solicit our signature for their petition. I didn't sign their petition, but I did collect their handout.

January 24, 2015 (3) January 24, 2015 (2)

I've got you now, Fluoride-fighters.

I did big things at Gymnastics Wednesdays! First: I got momentarily into a handstand against a wall. Mostly I've been scared to propel myself hard enough to balance in a handstand. I got over that.

Second, I got myself into the fetal position on the rings, with your back towards the floor. I didn't do it the intensive strength way - instead I figured out how to bypass the correct way and kick myself up into position. But whatever. We keep doing things that start from that fetal position, and it annoyed me that I couldn't  even get into the starting position. And now I can.

This is Rascal's first artwork:

January 24, 2015 (1)

It is a very nice xerox of Dr. King, including the word "original" xeroxed along with it. Someone has colored his tie red and we have no idea what contribution our two month old baby supposedly made, because he sure as hell didn't color the tie red.

Rascal has gotten much less screamy. This is crucial; it's the difference for me feeling like I can handle the brood on my own. Which I'll have to do, a lot - Jammies' new race car job has him travelling a lot. (Starting next week, on my birthday. Wah.)

January 24, 2015 (5)

On Thursday (after my shoulder stopped ticking) I drove down to San Antonio and met with the breast surgeon. The current plan is to have the oophorectomy this summer and the mastectomy next fall, after I wean Rascal.  The next step is the genetic testing.

(I already got tested, back in 2000, a long time ago. Back then, there was no legislation protecting you that genetic mutations weren't pre-exisiting conditions. There was nothing on the horizon that suggested there would ever be any protection. For all you kiddos out there, pre-existing conditions were reasons that your insurance company could kick you out or refuse to insure you. Kids, way back when, things were even shittier than the shitty mess we've handed you today.  The point being: I got tested under a fake name, so that there would be no documentation of my condition.)

The breast surgeon described the surgery and reconstruction. It kind of grossed me out but was also fascinating. She uses your belly fat to replace the breast, and the skin attached to it, to recreate a nipple. She told me about the blood flow to the chunk of fat - how they used to try to preserve the original vein, but it would often get compressed in the process, and so now they use a vein from underneath your arm. They age just like regular breasts. Maybe that's a perk to lose your perks?

I didn't interrupt, even though I'm not planning on having reconstructive surgery. I did tell her that.

It all became very concrete and real, though, to talk about pectoral muscles and drains being installed afterwards to help with the healing, and the corporealness of my body being sliced and diced made me a bit woozy.

January 24, 2015 (4)

For dinner tonight, I made egg salad, and also tortillas spread with Nutella, wrapped around a banana. The Geeblets had never had Nutella before and it seemed like a nice treat. Ace's banana fell on the floor, and the Nutella left a Mr. Hanky-esque mark.

The kids would adore Mr. Hanky, but Jammies and I know it is wiser to withhold it. If they knew about something like that, we would regret it forever and ever.


January 24, 2015 (6)

4 kittens

At the park

Posted on 2015.01.18 at 09:32
I don't like Rascal's daycare. It's a cold warehouse with linoleum floor. There are too many babies, and too many of them are crying. The teachers seem...perfectly safe and reasonable, but I don't love them.

Jammies' observation: when a business has a mostly poor and lower-class clientele, they sometimes treat their customers like children who need to be scolded. The daycare handbook was like this: no late pick-ups. I SAID NO LATE PICK-UPS! Quit trying to pick your kids up late! Yes, got it.

It comes across like, "Why am I already in trouble for something I haven't done yet?" whereas places with wealthier clientele don't do that. They blow smoke up their clients' asses and go on about how happy they are to serve.

Rascal is on the waiting list at the lab daycare that Ace and Pokey are in. I'm also grumpy about the extra half hour, twice a day, to take him to an entirely different location across town.

Hawaii and Pokey started out at a third, different daycare when they were babies, before we got in the lab school. Back in 2009 and 2010, the birth rate had plummeted because of the recession. Hawaii was one of four babies in the baby room. Plus I adored the teacher. So while it was a daycare that served a poor/lower-income group of parents, I liked it just fine. But now babies have rebounded, and Rascal's tiny baby room is packed to the gills with sobbing infants. That's the part that I hate: every time I show up, there are so many babies wailing. It makes me wonder how long they wail before someone can get to them.

Pokey seems to be fine. He's not napping well there, but that's because they can't legally swaddle him and put him in a vibrating chair. He comes home with red-rimmed eyes, and then sleeps soundly for nice long stretches, which is helpful for my own sleep-deprivation.

********
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Ace does gymnastics!

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Hokey Pokey does gymnastics!

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Hawaiian Punch does gymnastics!

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Rascal sleeps through gymnastics.

At crossfit, Wednesdays are now Gymnastics Wednesdays. I absolutely love it. Hawaii and I are about equally far along in learning to do a handstand.

********

Pokey stayed home sick on Tuesday. We played Ninja Turtles and Legos, which usually puts me to sleep, but this time I put Antiques Roadshow on, in the background. Mindless antiques commentary helped sustain me for a total of forty minutes, before I started nodding off. That is thirty-five minutes longer than usual.

Later on, Pokey and I picked up Rascal from daycare. "How do you know you've got the right baby?" he asked. "Well, I recognize him!" I said. "That's his little Rascal nose and that's his little Rascal chin."

"But what if it's a different baby?" Pokey asked. "Well, I picked out this outfit for him this morning," I said. "It's got blue and black stripes." Pokey was not at all convinced. I don't think he could pick his brother out of a line up of babies, should it come to that.

********

There is one last detail on M. Aaron. My mom wrote her new cousin Eli an email, peppering him with (semi-incoherent) questions. Eli wrote back an even more incoherent response. (Mom's worst question was "Once I saw a photo of a man with white hair that sort of looked like my father except it wasn't my father and then my mother whisked it away, what do you think that was, my grandfather?"  Eli's incoherent answer was, "I don't think that was my father, he wasn't related to any of you guys.")

In the email, Mom asked, "How did you find out that M. Aaron died?" We'd all been wondering. Were they checking the papers after not hearing from him for a couple months? Did they call his place of employment?

Eli answered, "Your mom told us."

So Grandma did know about his secret family of origin. At least to some extent. One possibility is that she found an envelope, "To Be Opened Upon My Death", with contact information for M. Aaron's sister. In that case, Grandma really might not have known hardly anything. But another possibility is that she knew everything, and was responsible for the rift that kept the families estranged.

I prefer a version of Grandma who is not so malicious. But historically, there are plenty of examples of Grandma being a total jerk. She loves being the queen of the brood, and I've never known her in a context where she might be subordinate to in-laws or authority figures. Maybe she was a big jerk.

*********

Sometimes I start thinking about how M. Aaron's fake story, and how it was Truth for so many years.  How it might have stayed Truth forever (if it weren't for us obligatorily meddling kids).

I also have a fake identity - my birth name was actually not heebie-geebie - and I also lay down my version of Truth here on this blog. Jammies and I both tend to consult this blog as historical archive, and the kids might read it and retroactively shape their malleable memories of childhood.  Which means all my biases - which kid has which traits, what annoys me, what I fail to notice - becomes Truth. It's not quite as bold as M. Aaron's stark lies, but it's something. (Historians and literary types surely think about who controls the narrative a lot more systematically than this, but I control this blog.) What power, to control the story. (But maybe other people just don't care about the story. My one brother tends to have only the faintest interest in our shared childhood or ancestry.)

Sometimes when I comment on Unfogged or Facebook, I think, "I have changed the internet forever!" When I'm serial-commenting, I think, "And again! And again! And again!"

********

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Ace is at the park!

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Hokey Pokey is at the park!

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Hawaii is at the park!

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Rascal sleeps at the park!


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But sometimes he wakes up, too.

********

On Monday, Jammies' boss said, "You should apply for this internal transfer!" Jammies had seen the email about the job, and was a little interested. "You're perfect for the job," the boss raved.

Ten minutes later, the boss walked by Jammies' cubicle. "Did you email the lab guy about the job?" she asked. "Yes..." said Jammies, "I just did."

Ten minutes later, the boss lady said, "Did you hear from him and set up a meeting?" Jammies now is flustered, but said, "Yes, we set up a meeting for tomorrow."
"Try to set up a meeting for today," said the boss.

Jammies thought this was all very weird.

Then at his exercise class, he found that there were lay-offs happening, and he started to panic. "Hopefully I can move up this meeting," he IM'd me. "Maybe I'll get walked out today, otherwise."

The next morning, after the meeting, he told me, "I got the job. And otherwise I would have gotten fired." Yikes. Near-miss.

Now he will be working on race cars, actually. He'll have to go to racetracks for races and show off their demo. "Race car! Palindrome! Race car! Palindrome!" I unfortunately think, Wayne's World style.

No more trips to Korea to be yelled at.  Jammies is in mourning over the alternate world where he got fired and got three months of severance pay and spent the spring puttering around the house, but I prefer this outcome. (If we could afford it, Jammies would make the best house-spouse. He putters, fixes, cleans, organizes, and feels good about it all. Whereas I find a cozy chair, pull in my computer, and willfully ignore the chaos all day long.)

******

Pumping at work is killing me. To cheer myself up, I think about the fall semester: Rascal will be in the lab daycare, and I won't have to pump. Total I will have two extra hours, every single day. What a dream.

Let's go back to the park.

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Pretty day.

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4 kittens

Crust cutters

Posted on 2015.01.10 at 19:04
Writing about daily life seems a bit anticlimatic after the story of M. Aaron. It is not how narrative trajectories work, to return to mundane details after a big splashy finale. Back to the grind.

January 10, 2015 (2)

Ace is an airplane!

January 10, 2015 (1)

Hokey Pokey is an airplane!

January 10, 2015 (3)

Hawaiian Punch is an airplane!

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Not me, I'm a baby.  Rascal starts daycare on Monday.

Let's talk about Rascal. He's super cute, but jesus he fusses and screams a lot. Apparently lots of fussy babies turn into regular people, but yeesh.

Rascal was the most turtle-necked old man of our newborns. The pictures of him have been well-curated, so that may not have been apparent. He's fleshing out and getting very cute.  No longer is he the littlest baby, either - at Jammies' indoor soccer game, there was a littler, newer-born.

(There is another family at indoor soccer with four kids, all about one year older than our four kids. I hang out with the husband, while the wife plays soccer with Jammies. He told me that they are getting a Mercedes Sprinter Van to replace their mundane Honda Odyssey, which is what we also mundane-ly drive. I told him that they are our canary in a coal mine - they can try everything out first, and let us know what to avoid.

This is a Mercedes Sprinter Van:

January 10, 2015 (9)

People spend a lot of money tricking out the inside with minibars and rotating captain's chairs and so on. They are appealing, but our Honda Odyssey is much cheaper.)

*******

At IKEA last weekend, we dropped off Hawaii and Hokey Pokey at the kids' play area. We walked the mandated path with only Ace and Rascal. I said, "This is exactly where we were four years ago."  Then, Hawaii was 20 months old and Hokey Pokey was two months old, and that was all we had to manage. Back before they could talk and fight constantly.

When Pokey was born, I made Hawaii walk everywhere. "Sorry," I told her bluntly, "Can't carry you both!" Especially when Pokey was in his carseat. Now I cave all the time and just carry both Ace and Rascal, Ace on my hip and Rascal in his carseat. "Ok fine," I grumble. Part of it is my new, strong Crossfit Muscles. Part of it is that Ace is more insistent than Hawaii was. Part of it is that I've been beaten down, no fight left in this old champ.

Good lord is Ace insistent. She stiffens her body and squawks MOMMY louder and louder, and then when you cave, she flashes quite an "ain't I hilarious?" smile. If you don't cave, it is not hilarious.

*******

Once upon a time, Mimi gave us a crust-cutter:

January 10, 2015 (5)

It used to have Wonderbread logos on it.

I hate this damn thing. I hate the two step process - supposedly cutting and sealing  the edges are two different things. Finally I said, "Hey kids, Mommy and Daddy have different rules. I'm done with the crust-cutter." I'm willing to cut the sandwich into triangles, so they can eat it from the inside and leave the crusts.

The kids rebelled and said they would only eat Daddy's sandwiches. I was genuinely shocked. So for about five months, that was the state of affairs. I would foist my sandwiches, they'd bitch and moan. Jammies would make them sandwiches when possible. (Poof they're sandwiches...sigh)

I mentioned to Jammies in December that I was caving, and he said, "Really? I'm about to throw the crust cutter out. I hate it." He hated it because Pokey would leave behind the edges of the plain bread, as though the crust had contaminated the bread near the crust.

Then over Christmas, we got this:

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and this:

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and this:

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The Lightning McQueen one is the absolute stupidest. How are you supposed to see the eyes and features details in a sandwich? If you look at the shape, it's actually going to look like a frog. (Minnie Mouse is stupid because it cuts three separate pieces and wastes a ton of sandwich.)

Thus spake 2015.  This entry is much less exciting than a double-life fake-identity secret-marriage-having grandfather.

School starts on Wednesday. I'm actually rejuvenated? excited? the sabbatical worked?

4 kittens

Intrigue, IV drips

Posted on 2015.01.03 at 10:52
At times, I think "ain't life grand?" and look around our life, our family, our friends, our town* in awe.  Other times, I am certain that we've risen to the level of our incompetence. That the rest of eternity will be a tiring scramble to remember excessively many details and commitments. Exceeding our capacity by about 20%, if I had to put a number on it.

*This town. It has a beautiful river and large university and nice features, but it is also still a small town. The most organized political group seems to be the one fighting hard to remove fluoride from the water. I'm not kidding. My 2015 New Year's resolution should be to document the Fluoride Fighters here in this blog.

****

The other night when I went to bed, I found this:

January 3, 2015 (9)

That is Hokey Pokey, in our bed, curled up in baby Rascal's little co-sleeper nest. I died a little with mushiness.

***

I usually write these entries in stages, with revisions, and photos being added last. I interrupt all that because fuck, my ear hurts. I don't have a cold, I haven't had a change in altitude, and yet my ear won't pop and hurts like a bitch. This happened in Colorado, but I attributed it to the altitude. This happened yesterday, but my ear popped on its own. What on fucking earth.

***

Some essentials:
We flew back from Denver on Christmas day.  Technically the rental house had been in Frisco. There was a blizzard for a few days, there was a pukey norovirus that ravaged the house, and Hokey Pokey burnt his hand rather badly on the glass of the gas fireplace. The burn was maybe the size of a shot glass.

None of the parents caught the pukey. Pokey and Ace both did, and a lot of the ancillary adults who might have helped entertain the children also were pukey. It just wasn't as relaxing a vacation as it might have been.

January 3, 2015 (8)

Hawaii put on skis, and Jammies took her to a bunny hill with her cousin, and she cautiously skiied down.

Sometimes Frisco looked like this, mid-blizzard:

January 3, 2015 (3) January 3, 2015 (2)

and other times like this, crystal-clear:

January 3, 2015 (5) January 3, 2015 (4)

We got home past midnight. My family arrived the next day, Friday, and left on New Year's Eve. That is why I failed to post here last weekend - I felt rude carving out the time when my family is visiting. I missed you, internet.

****

Heebietown looks like this:

January 3, 2015 (6)

I took this photo because of all the tiny birds, pointing in the same direction, but birds that are tiny in real life become incredibly miniscule tiny birds in a photograph. It was supposed to capture the beauty of winter or something.

****

Ace says things like "Ah wa mo bok KEY! Ah wa mo bok KEY NOW!" If you concentrate, the sounds crystallize into focus, and you realize that she's saying "I want more broccoli! I want more broccoli NOW!" (It helps to know she is wolfing down the entire platter of broccoli, for context.) Her verbal skills have rocketed in the last month.

Ace finds something about this photo terrifying:

January 3, 2015 (1)

Specifically at dusk, when things are getting dark, and this is what she sees from her carseat, from the driveway. She trembles and clutches me tightly. Although her verbal skills are rocketing, I have no idea what she's seeing that spooks her.

****
Poor Big Kitty went paralyzed again, last Saturday. He howled in pain. I took him to the vet. (The vet tech wrote down that he was hollowing in pain, but I refrained from correcting him.)

It turned out that he was very arthritic and very constipated, which I expected. They wanted to give him a steroid shot and an enema, and keep him there for a day or so.

January 3, 2015 (7)

Then some bloodwork showed that his kidneys are failing, which is what Little Kitty died of.  So we are beginning the end. He spent the week pulling out his IV drip at the vet. Now we will do subcutaneous fluids at home.

With Little Kitty, the IV fluids process was not bad. He liked to cuddle, he seemed to feel temporarily better, and he died within a month anyway. Big Kitty does not like to be confined in a lap so much. I do not want Big Kitty to die within a month, either.

*****

On Tuesday, with all the family gathered, we decided it was time to call Eli. (We are back in the saga of M. Aaron.)

I know I posted a photo of M. Aaron here with his birth name printed on it, but I'm hesitant to use that name in the narrative because my family is combing the internet for any trace of this person. For the sake of narrative ease, let's say that M. Aaron Geebie was originally born M. Yaron Geebwitz. (Being my mother's father, he and I don't actually share a last name, but it simplifies things.)

Eli, we believed, would be my mom's first cousin. We were fairly sure that we'd located Yaron's older sister (now deceased), and that this Eli fellow was her son.

We got ahold of his home number, and agonized over the script of what should be said on the answering machine - how do you convince a stranger to call you back? We squabbled over how certain of our kinship we should sound. We made sure that the script emphasized the names of his mother and grandparents.

My mom left a message on his home phone explaining that M. Yaron Geebwitz was her father, Rosie was his sister, and Moses and Anne were her grandparents. We all sat back and twiddled our thumbs.

About ten minutes later, the phone rang. My mom put it on speaker phone and we all held our breath.  My mom answered and introduced herself.

The voice on the other end said, "This is Eli! Of course I know who you are! Your father was M. Aaron Geebie! We loved him."

Did you catch that Eli used M. Aaron's new name, and not his old? Mom's message had referred to him as M. Yaron, and Eli had switched automatically to M. Aaron.  We stared, slack-jawed, at the phone and the implications.

Eli explained that M. Aaron had visited his parents back in New York every six to eight months, for Eli's entire life. He knew Uncle Aaron very well. They adored him, and he reciprocated. M. Aaron attended Eli's wedding, a few years after Moses and Anne had died, and met Eli's children born after that.

The secrecy was entirely one-sided. Eli had grown up seeing pictures of my mom and her brothers, hearing all about them, knowing about M. Aaron's double identity, and everything. There was full transparency with his family of origin. Eli knew my mom and my uncle's professions, where they lived, and the general shape of their lives. Moses, Anne, Rosie, and Eli had always wanted to meet M. Aaron's family.

Eli had no idea why M. Aaron would keep the families separate - he said M. Aaron's father was an incredibly loving, warm, guy (which sounds just like M. Aaron). Eli said his M. Aaron's mother was a bit funny, but it's hard to imagine that was enough to cause a double life.

We all found Eli very likable and warm and pleasant. But the pretend-estrangement from Aaron's family of origin is so much more confusing than an actual estrangement.

I feel so sad. It's the first time I've felt any sadness in this whole strange story. These lovely people, so many decades of relationships and celebrating milestones - lost, and for why.

I picture M. Aaron, claiming he was going to a professional conference, heading to New York, hugging his parents, having a long dinner with his family, putting a silly bow on his head and making up stories with Eli as a child. Sharing with them the joys of his own family, but reiterating that they were not allowed to meet his (beloved) children and wife. And then heading back home and telling his family the barest necessary details about his ficticious cold, boring professional conference. It all seems monumentally sad.

I picture Moses and Anne, welcoming their son home, and never being allowed to meet their daughter-in-law or grandchildren. Only seeing photographs and hearing updates.

Eli was generous and warm. He is going to email us photos, visits are to be planned, future friendships are implied.  At one point he said, "I could tell from your message that you thought you'd have to convince me we were related."  He sounded like he'd been expecting this call for decades.  Why were we the ones being hidden?

The working theory is that M. Aaron married the first Bea, and they changed their names together. Then they moved together so that M. Aaron could go to graduate school.  As M. Aaron and the second Bea fell in love, he did not disclose his original identity. (In fact, a lot of the farm life fiction seems to have been taken from the first Bea's hometown and childhood.)

Then he stuck to that decision to hide his past, for fifty years. As the consequences and deception accumulated. As the lost years of relationships piled on. I just don't understand.

4 kittens

Kissed a boy but no one cried.

Posted on 2014.12.20 at 13:24
Last time we chatted, Jammies was receiving berating yells in Korea, while I was parenting a five, four, one and a half, and a newborn. Actually, while Jammies was gone, the baby aged from three weeks to four weeks, so things matured.

Weirdly enough, this week kind of built my confidence. I have four children, like a boss. More importantly, the week is over!

Hawaii and Pokey wrapped up their soccer seasons:

December 20, 2014 (4) December 20, 2014 (3)

They each got tiny, out-of-focus trophies from across the gym. (I had to super-zoom to crop the other kids out.) They both played great and I fawned over them.

We celebrated taco cababanakkah:

December 20, 2014 (5)

which might be a new yearly tradition. Fiesta of lights, the miracle of gilt.

For the second time, Hawaii got in trouble for kissing a boy at school. She kissed him on the hand. Jammies and I kept strict poker faces and only snickered a little, dicreetly, off to the side.

Hawaii's class had a Christmas book exchange (at public school, no xmas war here), with the explicit instructions that "Boys bring in a boy book, girls bring in a girl book." I got pissy and emailed the teacher over that one.

Ace started peeing in the potty. They discovered it at daycare and we're all terribly excited.

** ** **

Meanwhile, my parents visited Madison. With my aunt and uncle, they set about devouring Grandma's old files and papers. They discovered a 3" stack of love letters from M. Aaron and my grandmother, written while he is still married to the first Beatrix.  So that settles one question - did the second Beatrix, my grandmother, know about the first Beatrix? Emphatically yes.

Lightening bolts have struck them both to their core, and they are powerless against the force.  They are in graduate school together. Much "I long to hold you in my arms again" and "oh darling, if only for an hour" and even a little "can you ditch your wife for a little bit on some fool's errand so we can hang out?" and "she must get the car when you guys split up. It'll be rocky, financially, but we'll darn our own socks and it will make us love each other even more." Those last two are paraphrased.

Then seventy-five years passed, and Grandma suffered what everyone thought was a heart attack, but was actually a brief, strange episode of sky-rocketing blood pressure. But she is still weak and recuperating. Afterwards, my uncle wrote this, in an email:
I want to tell you again what Mom said to me, because it was such a departure from anything she has said before:  "Rickey, when you were little you were afraid of dying. I told you that this wouldn't happen for a long long long time. Well, its been a long long long time for me." She said this with a quite peaceful, calm expression. We chatted and joked around. I asked her if she had any physical discomfort. She said that the only thing was that her right shoulder was cold, so I tucked her in. "There, how's that? Anything else you'd like to change?" She grinned at me: "I'd like to be young again."  I'll visit her in the morning and again the afternoon tomorrow and let you know how things are, but I think things will be fine now.

which makes me cry. Yes, yes, it's a terrible violation to quote someone wholesale without their permission and broadcast it on the whole web. But the rules are suspended if it makes you cry.

** ** **

Now we're in Denver:

December 20, 2014 (7) December 20, 2014 (6)

Will I write about my children equally? Hokey Pokey had his first trip to the dentist. I certainly wrote about Hawaii's first trip, possibly because she had four cavities. Would I bother to document Pokey's first visit if I weren't simultaneously musing about fairness? Everything is new when Hawaii does it.

Everything that happens to Rascal is the last time ever, and if I don't document it, maybe it gets lost forever and never recorded. Like Jammies, reclining with Rascal, cooing "Tummy-to-tummy time! Tummy-to-tummy time!" It's a fond memory, and I can swap out any of the Geeblets interchangeably.  He also admonishes, "Don't be cross-eyed!" when the newborn is still trying to get their focus straightened out. That is pretty much over.

Rascal: his baby acne is so intense that he leaves face dandruff all over my sweater. I claimed he didn't spit up, but I was wrong. He spits up all the time, like the rest did.

December 20, 2014 (9) December 20, 2014 (8)

Baby, that skin is ridiculous.

Sometimes Rascal looks like Obi Wan Kenobi:

December 20, 2014 (1)

and sometimes like the Dalai Lama:

December 20, 2014 (2)

Merry Cabanakkah, and to all a good night.

4 kittens

Well this is hairy.

Posted on 2014.12.15 at 11:04
I wrote this on Friday:

Jammies is going to Korea tomorrow. We found this out yesterday. He is going in order to be yelled at for a week. My understanding of Jammies' company is that they make broken parts. Then the clients complain, and then Jammies helps the patch the part for the clients. But this particular part is so irrevokably FUBAR that the client wants to yell at someone in person, for five days.

I'm a bit petrified about single parenting for the next week. It is very good that I didn't have any advance notice, or I would have fretted myself into a tizzy. Rather, I launched immediately into planning the hell out of the next six days.  (I went ahead and hired a babysitter to help out for Sunday.)

I'm also a bit curious what Korea is like. It would be fun to be the one to go, sort of, and document the whole weird experience of being so yelled at. Plus great photos. Plus fourteen hour flights.

Jammies gets back Thursday night, and then on Friday we head to Denver to be with Jammies' family.  I will feel entitled to relax at that point.

I wrote this on Saturday:

7:30 am:
Single-parenting has begun. The days are ordered from hardest to easiest. But the kids slept in until 6:30 (for real, that is great) and we'll see how everything goes.

2:30: Today is not going very well.

I wrote this on Sunday: (nada)

Today is Monday, and I suppose I should just post this self-explanatory thing. I have my standard list of accumulated notes to write about, but today is Dentist Day, and I have exactly one hour by myself at home before it's time to get the kids to go to the dentist, and other needs take precedence.

4 kittens

How Rascal Was Born

Posted on 2014.12.06 at 08:58
How was Rascal born? Easily.

Recall, if you will:
1. With Hawaii, I had a natural, unmedicated childbirth out of dogged determination. It took about fourteen hours, and the two hours of pushing was brutal.

2. With Hokey Pokey, I wanted an epidural, so traumatized was I by the pushing. I got the epidural right at transition, and then took a nap. Then I pushed for a few minutes, and he was born.  There was plenty of hard labor pre-epidural, but the whole experience was ok.

3. With Ace, I thought perhaps I could try a tub birth. But she arrived before they'd even turned on the water. So she was also unmedicated.

"I do not enjoy unmedicated births" was my opinion in the waning days of pregnancy. (It is still my opinion.) Dr. K said I had a better chance at a tub birth than an epidural, time-wise, but we'd try for whatever we could. I was braced for another fast, unmedicated birth.

At three days overdue, I had a check-up. (All my babies were overdue.) They watched for five signs on the sonogram to make sure that Rascal was doing fine, and Rascal did not pass - he failed to "practice breathing" within a thirty minute window. So Dr. K said that we were inducing. (Actually, she said "He's got his eviction notice!" and the phrasing was so out of context for me that I had no idea what she meant.)

I was...pleased. I'd never request an induction, maybe out of force of habit, but to have one thrust upon me? Yes, please, let's get this baby out. Plus: guaranteed epidural.

I went home, we packed our bags and ate some lunch, and generally took our leisure getting to the hospital. (That is probably not how Jammies would describe things. I think he'd say, "I raced home from work, in a mild panic. I hate the whole L&D process. It's out of my control and things can go so wrong." Poor stressed Jammies.)

We checked in - my mother, Mimi, Jammies and I - and I got hooked up around 12:30. And then gradually the pitocin got cranked up. The nurse said that they couldn't administer the epidural until contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, and hitting level 5 on whatever yardstick they use for contractions.

But when Dr. K showed up, she shrugged and said I could have the epidural, despite not yet being at the target.  So I got one.

(With Pokey, the epidural was painless. Possibly because I was distracted by transition, but I do remember feeling pressure. With Rascal, the epidural was excruciating. Brief - maybe all of twenty seconds - but brutally painful. Off the pain scale.)

And then we hung out. We watched TV - mostly renovation shows on HGTV, which work perfectly well with the sound off. The pitocin was gradually increased to full blast, which is level 20 (so many numbers for which I don't know the units!), but aside from one leg being totally dead, everything was pleasant. I think I get a buzz of well-being from the epidural.

I slowly dilated. By 7 pm, I was maybe 6-7 cm. We wondered periodically if he'd even be born that day. We wondered, "If labor is this slow to be jumpstarted, how much longer would he have stayed in there on his own, exactly?"  We chatted at leisure.

Dr. K broke my waters - another first. All the rest just made a big mess when they burst on their own, but when your waters are broken, there's a little collection bag that keeps things less out of hand. It turns out.

Finally, Dr. K came back and said, "Oh, his head is right there. Ready to push?"

Sure. It's odd to push when you don't feel a thing, but the pushing muscles are lodged in my deep memory. And so a minute or two later, Rascal was born. His hand was up by his head. He was blue for a second or two, but nobody fretted. His Apgar score was a 9. His weight was 8 lbs, 7 oz. His time was 8:41 pm.

And that was that.

The whole labor and delivery was so...casual. Chatty and relaxed. Even pleasant. Unlike the previous, which were shot through with adrenaline and pain. There was no urgency or, well, pain.

A day or two later, I developed embarrassing problems, which were excructiating for about a week. And then resolved. And all was fine in time for Thanksgiving, a week later.

Here are our babies:

May 3, 2013 (3)
Hawaiian Punch

May 3, 2013 (4)
Hokey Pokey

May 3, 2013 (5)
Ace

December 6, 2014 (1)
Rascal

Now we can start the business of raising them.

4 kittens

Brothers holding brothers.

Posted on 2014.11.30 at 11:18
I approached telling my mom about M. Aaron with great caution. Her initial reaction - possibly in part because I was being so delicate - was to be voraciously thrilled with the news. We called my aunts and uncles, who were more mixed in their reaction.  Confused and stunned, but not exactly upset.

On the Jewish identity question, my mom kept saying, idly, mournfully, "I really liked being a mongrel."

(There was some fighting, too. Instigated by Mom! She brought up how I used to claim she was an assimilationist, and I took the bait, "Used to? I just learned to keep my mouth shut."
Fighting occurred.
"We were just like every other family in Kansas! I wasn't rejecting anything, it's just how we were!" argued Mom.
"Your grandparents lived down the street and spoke Yiddish," I protested.
"They were international!" protested Mom, "Not Jewish!"
"That's because they were communist!" I said, "Wasn't everyone else Christian in 1950s Kansas?"
"Yes - but it wasn't a big deal!" said Mom.
"Christianity wasn't a big deal? It was the only deal!"
And so on.)

I wasn't trying to argue that she should have felt Jewish. Just that she cared about...fitting in? That she likes secular Christianity? I don't know what my point was; it fell apart each time I tried to identify it.

(We semi-resolved the argument when I said,  "Look, superficially our upbringing was very similar. You were in Lawrence, Kansas, and we were in Gainesville, Florida, right?" I'm paraphrasing, I was upset and not eloquent at all. But eventually I made this point.
Mom agreed.
"But growing up, I felt like our family was fundamentally different than other families. There were lots of nonstandard families! But ours felt nonstandard to me," I said.
Mom agreed.
"But you keep saying that you felt that your family was like the rest of the families in Kansas," I said.
Mom agreed.
"I'm just saying that you and me grew up in similar situations and interpreted them very differently."
Mom agreed. Later she said reflectively, "I always felt like I personally stuck out and didn't fit in. I just didn't attribute it to my family.")

(Will this moment of comity be retained, in our memories? No.)

I'm aware that I come off as an asshole in that exchange. Mom seems exhausted, and just agreeable because it's expedient.  But when she was agreeing, she was doing so by cooing "yes, yes! I agree!" in falsetto to the baby. I was trying as hard as I could to stay composed.

Heebie? Let Mom have her opinion, and you can have yours, and stop trying to impose your narrative on her.

******

Mom recalled a letter from M. Aaron's high school, which she'd snuck off with when my grandmother moved away from Kansas in 1996. But just its existence, no details. She went hunting for it when she got home.

It was from his high school art teacher, who was now a professor at City College. The art professor was responding to a letter from M. Aaron, apparently asking about Jonas Salk, but it's hard to figure out much else.

Now, my grandfather went to high school as M. Weitzman, but wrote this letter in 1961 under the name M. Aaron, and so the letter is full of lines such as:



I have tried valiantly to recall you as a boy, but without success. I did not see your name in the 1930 Crimson and Gold, which I managed to keep...Perhaps you were an L.A. student at the time, and I do not have the 1931 issue. Will you not please send me a snapshot of yourself so that I may search your features for the presently elusive image of the good and brilliant boy you must have been.




(What marvelous diction.)

M. Aaron kept meticulous carbon copies of all his letters (which my grandmother threw out). We hypothesize that he sent his former teacher on this fool's errand, because he knew my nosy grandmother might read the letter.

******

Remember that Jammies took the kids to a wedding in Kansas? Hokey Pokey was a ring-bearer:

November 30, 2014 (16)

It was the kind of wedding where the ring-bearers wear Wranglers and cowboy boots. Where there are decorative bales of hay behind the ceremony. Where Pokey went to goof off, behind the bride and groom, after making it down the aisle and handing off the ring.

During the ceremony (apparently): once Pokey was behind the bride and groom, in the bales of hay, he began to screw around. He pulled some hay out of the bale, and pretended to wipe his ass with the straw. Sort of dancing around, butt out, wiping his butt with the straw.

Good lord, Pokey. Had I been there, I might have died.

*******

But Pokey has had a big week! On Wednesday he turned four years old and also got his cast off.

Cue normal marvelling at how he's growing up - I'm slain! but of course I'm slain. Mothers are supposed to be slain. (But really, FOUR.) This year he is passionate about sports, paw patrol, ninja legos, and teenage mutant ninja turtles. He may be more of an anxious kid than I recognize - I tend to project my own childhood self onto Pokey. But he frets about going to kindergarten (two years off), that opportunities will be missed, that things will vanish before he has a chance to play with them.

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Brothers holding brothers

Years ago, my friend said "Can you believe that some day, our little boys will be so big and tall that they'll stoop at the waist to bend down and give us hugs?" I think about that, with my cuddly little Pokey. Who is so affectionate and huggy to me as a four year old.  But will someday be tall and teenagerly, and will bend down to hug his short mother.

****

Rascal has lost his umbilical cord. We are done with umbilical cords forever. All Geebies are old enough to bathe. Proof:

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Clean and pissed off.

Rascal had this enormous blister on his hip:

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We are supposed to keep an eye on him.

Rascal is the first of the Geebies to hardly spit up or need to be burped.

Rascal nurses more than the earlier Geebies.

Rascal poops with an unholy frequency.

November 30, 2014 (14) November 30, 2014 (13)

Sleep, stretch.

The grandparents, who stuck around for weeks after Hawaiian Punch was born, scattered quickly off this time. Mimi left Friday morning, the day after we got home from the hospital.  My parents left very early Sunday morning. And so the Geebies began to function on their own, as a family of six.

(How do the Geebies function as a family of six? I am concerned that Jammies is keeping us together by being chronically overextended. This is not really blog fodder so much as a periodic topic of conversation between Jammies and me. I'm just sharing it here because I fret.)

*****

A canonical image of Ace at this age: trying as hard as she can to get someone to laugh. She locks onto someone, and and crams a napkin in her mouth, grinning broadly. Or rocks back and forth saying "Bee...bop! bee...bop!" like a metronome.  Or putting one leg through the hole in the hemorrhoid* pillow, pulling it up and walking around. Or just trying things - shoe on my head? clapping you on the knee? - each time checking to see if you're laughing yet. She is very attuned to whether you are laughing or not, yet.

I find it incredibly charming to be around someone who is trying to make me laugh. We get along very well.

*Shut up.

November 30, 2014 (10)

I wear Hawaii's Minnie Mouse underwear on top of my pants, when we go out for ice cream on Hokey Pokey's fourth birthday.
"Mee Mau! Mee Mau!"

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I will wear them always, if possible.

*****

At her piano lesson, they opened up the book to "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Hawaii looked at the illustration and said, "Angels don't have anything to do with Christmas."

I looked up to see how Diano Piano would respond. "Oh yes they do!" she chirped, eternally merry, and went right on with what she'd been saying. I was amused.

(I hate the sensatiion of being mad at someone with good intentions. I keep getting madder and more annoyed with Diano Piano, whose intentions are pure wholesomeness.  It drives me nuts that she tells Hawaii what notes to play, instead of patiently giving Hawaii time to sightread the music.  I'd switch teachers, but we've found it very hard to locate anyone besides graduate students. Graduate students graduate and move away, and then you're looking all over again.)

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*****

Goodbye old icon, of many many years:

kittens

Hello new icon, for many many years to come:

Four little kittens

******

My energy level is through the roof. Let me record this while its still fresh in my mind. Two weeks ago, I had to metally gear up to go to the back of the house, or to get off the bed, or to pick things off the ground. All I wanted was to lie down, always. Laden with sandbags. Plus, distended and uncomfortable, lurching and skin stretched taut. Pregnancy is the worst! Now I'm like a regular person again, instead of a constantly-plotting-my-escape-to-lie-down pathetic mess.

This is my fastest recovery. I'm essentially back to normal (save fitting into my clothes). (Yes, I had a bout of embarrassing, excruciating back end problems. But they resolved in about a week.)

It's hard to overstate how happy I am to be on this side of L&D. FOREVER with an asterisk.

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We partied so hardy that all Geebies were asleep when we got home. Aww.

3 kittens

Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen tigers!

Posted on 2014.11.23 at 20:31
I've got two simultaneous feelings:
1. My ducks are all in a row. All the babies are born. All the house renovations are complete. The weather is cool and bright. Vhat utter contentment, quoth my inner Eastern European.

2. Oh god, what have we done. (Rascal hasn't exactly made this worse. It's more how I feel when the big kids are stampeding around like a herd of whooping orangutans. You kids are harshing my mellow.)(You kids are harshing my ability to form a coherent metaphor.)

I will write out the details of Rascal's birth, but not in this entry. This entry is for catch-up and snapshot observations. (Such as: why on earth do we have family rules like "no tongue high-fives" and "no putting Legos in your underpants"? Obviously these kinds of gross rules are common to all families, happy or unhappy. But good grief.)

====================================


We are reading My Father's Dragon during storytime, (which I highly recommend). At one point, Elmer Elevator found himself in a clearing, surrounded by fourteen bright eyes. I asked Hawaiian Punch how many tigers there were.

She did great, concentrating and asking me to hold up fingers, and pairing them off. She sat and thought and tinkered with my fingers and hers for a few minutes.

Through the whole thing, Hokey Pokey was excitedly saying, "I know! I know how many tigers!" The first time, I actually looked at him in surprise. Perhaps he knows! "How many?" I asked. "FOURTEEN!" he squealed. "Fourteen! Fourteen!"

And then he wouldn't shut up, while Hawaii was concentrating as hard as she could, keeping track of pairs of fingers. "Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen tigers! Fourteen! I know, it's fourteen!"

"Can he please be quiet?" asked Hawaii, sounding like a tired parent. Eventually she kept track of her units - fingers represent eyes, pairs of fingers represent tigers - and correctly counted out seven tigers. I was proud of her and amused by the whole situation. Anyway, My Father's Dragon is great.

====================================


One night at the hospital, our nurse was all of maybe 24 years old, in contrast to most of our grandmotherly nurses. She was very sweet but very rigid about rules. She asked me, "Did you sign the form to get the DTAP and flu vaccines?"

I said, "Yes, I'd like the flu vaccine. But not DTAP - I got that vaccine when our last baby was born, a year and a half ago."

She said, "It's standard procedure to give the DTAP vaccine with all births."
I said, "The other one is still good. I only got it nineteen months ago."
But she would not budge. In theory, the DTAP vaccine was my choice, but etiquette-wise it was fast becoming rudely confrontational for me to decline.

So I got re-vaccinated. That whooping cough will be positively repulsed by me.  My arm is really sore now.

====================================


How is Ace with the new baby? She points at him and pronounces "Baby!" triumphantly.  It makes me think that she may have actually realized what we were trying to tell her, back when she would point at my belly and say, "Baby!" in agreement with us.

Sometimes when Rascal is nursing, Ace comes over and says, "Baby all done. Baby all done," and points at his chair. So she makes her opinions known.

It looks like we dropped the baby in an anthill:

November 23, 2014 (1)

but that is just good old-fashioned newborn rash.

I am so happy and content to be on this side of life, not pregnant and home with a healthy baby. (What have we done.)

3 kittens

Hi Everybody!

Posted on 2014.11.21 at 09:47
Introducing Rascal Geebie! Born on Tuesday, 8:41 pm. Weighing 8 lbs, 7 oz, and 21" long.

November 19, 2014 (2)

"I was born in the same room of the hospital as Hokey Pokey," says Rascal.

3 kittens

Birthright to assimilation

Posted on 2014.11.16 at 08:08
It looks like I made it to 40 weeks. In your face, doubters. Procreators are gonna procreate.

I actually went to xfit for the entire 40 weeks. I am much more muscular going into this L&D than I've been with the last three, for whatever that's worth - I assume not much.

Look what Panisdead made for us:

November 16, 2014 (1)

This complements the three exquisite hats she made last year, for the three existing children:

December 7, 2013 (17)

Seriously, her hats are the most gorgeous.  In addition, she must understand my need for symmetry and completeness.

A different friend gave us this print after Ace was born, when we had three children:

November 16, 2014 (2)

I love this print, but my very first thought was, "But where is our fourth bear cub?"   It eats away at me that it has  only three bear cubs. (My plan is to scan and print out a fourth bear cub, and tape it somewhere on the glass.)

Mimi arrived on Thursday, and my mom arrives on Sunday.

*****

Charleycarp is an Unfogged commenter who is amazing with the internet. I asked if he wanted to hunt down my grandfather, and he dug in.

The family story goes: (oh, I've used pseudonyms for this before. I suppose I should look them up. Here I called my grandfather M. Aaron, and my grandmother Beatrix.) M. Aaron was always super secretive about his past. At that link, I told the story of an old newspaper article alleging that M. Aaron Lastname and Beatrix were divorcing, a few years before they supposedly had even met each other.

Now Charleycarp has turned up copious evidence that M. Aaron basically changed his identity altogether. Not a farm kid from upstate New York who was protecting my grandmother from antisemitism (as the story went), but a Jewish kid from Manhattan who married a different woman, also named Beatrix, and divorced her, and then married my grandmother.

But I thought he was part French, Scottish, and English? And I thought he brought Christmas to Beatrix and her family, who doggedly did not celebrate anything - even birthdays - out of a dedication to Communism? And that my mother one time found a family bible? (And, most ludicrously, that he could trace his ancestry to Mayflower times.)

Nope - Charleycarp produced a senior in high school photo of M. Weitzman, and it is absolutely one and the same person as my grandfather.

High School portrait, alone

So our beloved grandfather was actually Jewish along with everybody else, all along. And had a brief first marriage. (The beloved part is real, not scare-quotated. People uniformly revered his wisdom. They rave about his wisdom and gentle demeanor. He sounds like a deeply lovely person.)

(I would like to someday be considered wise and gentle, but I'd have to sacrifice being a cold jerk with great boundaries. It's a trade-off, perhaps not worth it.)

My mom arrives in town tomorrow.  I think she would want to see a photo of her father as a teenager. Without the photo, I'm not sure she'd want to know the rest. I'm going to try to broach the topic kindly, sensitively.

This raises a lot of complicated issues of identity and religion. My grandmother and my mother are two dyed-in-the-wool assimilationists. My mom will say things like, "I just love Christmas carols!" out of the blue, with no prompting. If Passover comes up, she'll (predictably) say, "I just think it's so awful to have a holiday based on the murder of all first-born sons." (Uh, yes, that is a part of the Passover story, and no I'm not going to defend some complicated Old Testament epic, but Mom, it really is a bit odd to focus on that one gory detail.) And my grandmother, with her awful "Why don't the Jews embrace Jesus?" entrapment.  Pity be the fool who thought they could easily field that bomb.

My grandmother had one daughter, who had one daughter, me. My grandmother dumped stuff on my mom, which then got dumped on me, which no one else in the family seems aware of. The uncles, the brothers, the cousins - they all easily say they're ethnically Jewish but not religious. I alone seem to carry the burden of all this assimilation and asterisks and fraudulence, so that when asked my heritage, my most honest answer is "I practice Fraudulence." I can't say Jewish without cringing, even though I say it anyway.

One pillar of their claim to assimilation has always been M. Aaron. He was a pastor's son! My mom grew up with Christmas! (and Christmas carols.) Mom is ethnically only half-Jewish. Where as I, being all of three-fourths, should have felt perfectly comfortable claiming a Jewish heritage, but again, the burden of assimilation, and Christmas carols. To deny my assimilation and fraudulence is to deny the gentle wisdom of M. Aaron.

With that photo above, M. Aaron's ethnicity has now been flipped upside down. It undercuts the premise of a lot of identity shit that's trickled down on me. I'm not sure what to make of it. My mom may find this very upsetting. (But I'm sure she'd want to see the photo.)

*****

I've got my normal accumulation of Silly Things the Kids Said, but somehow I think I'll here.

3 kittens

Pretty deft with the shoes

Posted on 2014.11.08 at 20:54
Jammies took all three kids to Kansas yesterday, for his cousin's wedding. I cannot imagine flying with a five, three, and one year old, but Jammies is amazing.

My goal is not to talk to a single person for three days. So far I'm off to a great start! (I didn't used to be quite this anti-social. I was more balanced, but both pregnancy and living in a rambunctious household have heightened the Go Away Everybody side of me.)

I am so deeply relaxed. All is quiet and still and probably holy and bright. If I were a holy-observing-type.

1.
November 8, 2014 (4)

Hawaii can suddenly read, and with inflections and such. She was reading Hop on Pop the other day, and she got to this page:

November 8, 2014 (13)

She stared at it for a beat, and said, "But 'wet' and 'git' don't rhyme."

Oh god my kids are Texan. (Why don't Texans pronounce 'wet' as 'wit'? I declare thee inconsistent, O Texas, along with the rest of the English language.)

(For the record, she can read harder stuff than Hop on Pop. I mean, who cares, except that it's been neat to watch it suddenly click into place.)

Have a montage:

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Hawaii has gotten a ton of frowny faces, since the kick-off penis event. On the one hand, it's all for goofing off and being rambunctious - the same sort of thing I got in trouble for - and she still seems happy and excited to go to school.

On the other hand, we checked with some of our friends who have first and second graders, and they uniformly said, "What? I don't think our kid has ever gotten anything but a happy face."  Either Hawaii's behavior is way outside the norm, or her teacher just plays fast and loose with the frowny faces.

2.
November 8, 2014 (5)

Ace has had several nightmares lately. In general, we're pretty strict overnight about what gets us out of bed, and even stricter about what gets you actually picked up out of your crib. These nightmares have been sufficiently bad that we've picked her up to comfort her.

What are these nightmares about? She is wailing and crying and crying out, "MINE! MIIIIINE! My wawa!" or "My mommy! Mine!" or "My apple! MINE," and so on, cycling through the many objects that someone (presumably Hawaii and Pokey) is trying to take away from her. So distressing and adorable! What a nightmare!

And here is her montage:

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Someone is a whiz with a pair of shoes. Actually, she's quite deft even at putting on her own shoes.

3. Pokey is now wearing a cast:

November 8, 2014 (12)

He fell off a playscape on Monday. He wore a splint for a few days, and then the orthopedist put a cast on him on Wednesday, saying "It might be fractured. With kids, you see these shadows on the x-ray, and you have to play it safe."

Wednesday was also the first day of soccer practice. We were braced for epic tears from Pokey, over missing soccer. But he was rather chipper and upbeat, mostly because the two of us were spending the afternoon exclusively together. Also the actual injury seems to be exhausting to him - he's sleeping a ton, so I assume his body is working on healing or some other woo-science.

Now: Jammies is coaching two teams - Hawaii's and Pokey's - since the kiddie league is chronically short on volunteers.   (Hawaii doesn't much want to play, and is already in an absurd amount of activities. But...I mean...soccer and one more why not...)

And Pokey, with fractured arm, will miss most of the season. So Jammies is essentially stuck coaching two soccer teams for one remaining Hawaii (who does not want to play), during the month in which he is also having a new baby. It seems a little suburban-Kafkaesque.

Here's Hokey Pokey's montage:

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This is when we were waiting for them to put the cast on. You can see he's not using that one arm, so I guess he's not faking after all.

........

One more week. It's starting to seem like some day I really won't be pregnant.

Watching Hawaii's piano teacher teach drives me nuts.  About halfway through the lesson, they turn to some new pieces. She basically asks Hawaii to sightread the new piece, and she wants to focus on dynamics, legato, holding your hands in the right position, etc.

This is ridiculous, of course. Sightreading itself is hard. So while Hawaii is concentrating as hard as she can on figuring out the next notes, the teacher ends up just telling her the next note to play, to keep the song going. This is the part that drives me nuts - that Hawaii is seeing the music for the first time, and the teacher is basically too impatient to let Hawaii figure the notes out on her own.

It's just such a terrible trait in a math teacher - to feed a student answers, instead of twiddling your thumbs while they work through it themselves. Maybe it's not the end of the world in a piano teacher, but it drives me nuts.

The obvious solution is to invert the process - Hawaii should see the song for the first time at home, where she can learn the notes at her own speed, and then at the lesson they can focus on technique and so on. Unfortunately, that sounds like a terrible conversation for me to undertake with the teacher. Easier for me just to let it go. So, go.

Look what I'm doing today:

November 8, 2014 (14)

Here is a soul-deadening aspect of parenting, if you aren't a parent: Each spring and fall, we undertake pruning all the kids' closets, packing up all the clothes, getting out all the hand-me-downs, and re-populating all the closets for the new season.

This is the first purge-and-repopulate where I've ever been able to get rid of clothes. Last spring, we didn't know the gender of the last baby, so we were still stuck saving all the clothes. But now I can get rid of nearly two years worth of explicitly-girl clothes. That's amazing.

This big pile of clothes is getting given away:

November 8, 2014 (15)

I filled up five hefty bags of clothes to give away. Are you impressed?

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