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4 kittens

Like a postcard

Posted on 2018.06.17 at 22:24
Where to start? Well, Jammies got laid off on Tuesday. That's a good place to start.



(Origami bulldog by Pokey.)

We weren't blindsided. This boss has been sending signals for a while now that he was on the chopping block, mostly because he's a senior engineer and what a great way to save money. (I loathe this company even though they really just practice ordinary late-stage capitalism dehumanizations drills, nothing especially unusual.)

Jammies even told me on Monday that he strongly suspected that Tuesday would be the day, because his boss scheduled a 9 am meeting with Jammies and wrote that it absolutely had to be in person, and the tone was very clipped and formal.

(Jammies had been planning on watching the big kids on Tuesday, so we had a very peculiar Monday where we were desperately hunting for childcare for Tuesday, while at the same time acknowledging that Jammies could very well be free by 9:30 am, but of course we couldn't count on it.)



(and some bunnies.)

My parents flew in on Tuesday (again -  me:  "I'll pick you up during my lunch break, Mom and Dad, unless Jammies is, uh, unexpectedly free by 10 am"). The plan was for my West Coast brother and his family were to fly in on Wednesday. Then we were all to head to a fancy resort near Austin for three days.

However, on Tuesday,  WCB and wife noticed a bulge on my 5 year old nephew's torso. It turned out to be a hernia. It was determined over the next day that he didn't need emergency surgery, but they scheduled it for Friday, and either way our nice vacation was DOA.

Since my parents and Jammies and me are not resort-people without my brother and sister-in-law's encouragement, we cancelled the fancy resort and just stayed at our house.  (I had procrastinated on packing and got off scot-free, so that was a nice perk.)

(As it is now Sunday, the hernia surgery is over and was successful and the 5 year old feels much better. Also my East Coast brother had a hip replacement on Friday. Surgery twins! ECB is also out and doing well.)

We dragged my parents to various river and water park type activities in the blistering heat.



That's Landa Park, looking like a post card.



Swimming makes 'em hungry.

Jammies has been incredibly relaxed and happy since Tuesday.  We both are actually pretty pleased with this arrangement. He came veryclose to quitting last fall, due to the boss's signal-sending unpleasantness, and we wouldn't have had a very handsome severance package to buoy us. (Does the handsome severance package assuage my ire at them? A tad.)

The plan is to give Jammies a break for a few months. He has been overwhelmed by the backlog of house projects roughly since Ace was born.   His plan is to get the house in order until the house feels caught up, organized, purged, and fixed.

This means I get to come home and see neat ways that the house has improved itself during the day! It also solves a bunch of childcare problems we were facing throughout the summer.



We also dragged my parents to Schlitterbahn. They seemed a little beat up by the rides (my dad) and the heat (my mom) and the hard concrete (both, their poor bony feet), but they claimed to have had fun.



My parents, both sound asleep during storytime.  All tuckered out.

Anyway, this break is definitely very good for Jammies, and in the longterm it has the potential to translate into a happier work situation. We both value free time far more than money, so it's a matter of determining how frugal we can live without finding it overly stressful. 

(It also doesn't hurt that he lost his job on the first day of the World Cup.)



I came across this scratchwork by Hawaii, on how she computed how many minutes she'd been reading.  I love how she worked it out so sensibly and showed her steps.

Also, if I may brag, we just got her STAAR test scores and she got in the 98th percentile on the math. I never did that well on standardized tests.




Ace, with snake bite.



A bullet hole for Pokey.

On Tuesday, I participated in an entirely underwhelming STEM Day for high school girls. I ran four math labs. Overall attendance was about 1/3 of what Heebie U had expected, which felt like a rookie miscalculation.  Mostly, the high school girls were fine, while my colleague and undergrad assistant drove me bugshit crazy. They kept smoothing over the "bumps" in my presentation, which weren't bumps but moments when the students needed to pause and take a moment to understand what was going on. Things like answering the questions that I posed to the group. C'MON. I'M NOT ASKING YOU.

The undergrad in particular kept standing very close to me, intercepting my body language the way you might square someone off at a party to hold their attention, and then she'd talk to me and share little jokes and thoughts she had. I kept having to step back, and walk away. All in all, it was a dumb day. (But my lab thing was neat.)



Some day I will make a flip book of all these portraits of the four of them all watching TV together.



We danced on the stage at our friend's new ice cream joint in Gruene.



Father's day loot for Jammies.

I almost forgot to call my dad: I had a cut on my tongue, which turned into a sore, so I gargled with Pepto Bismol to coat it and make it hurt less.

Mid-gargle, I remembered "OMG, I need to call Dad!" because he always gargled with Pepto for his canker sores.  I called and told him that, and he exclaimed, "I forgot about that! I haven't done that in 30 years. Eventually I just stopped getting canker sores every time I bit my tongue or cheek."

Also today I drove Hawaii and Pokey out to sleepaway camp, out west on the Guadalupe River.



We stopped for lunch and ate flower tortillas.

Pokey was successfully dropped off for (3-day) camp.  Originally his three friends were going to go, too. The twins dropped out last month, and then the remaining friend dropped out due to AllStar baseball. I couldn't get a read on whether or not Pokey was upset.



It turned out that there were only three kids in his cabin, and two counselors, and a counselor-in-training. The counselors were all acting a little rattled that there were so few kids, but I felt a bit relieved. Pokey does great when he's getting lots of attention.



Hawaii was successfully dropped off for week-long camp.  She was put in with 10 and 11 year olds in order to accommodate her bunkmate request. She and her friend B were very stoked to be together.



I just love explicit etiquette rules for kids like this. You might even have to flush twice!

"Ok, Rascal, do something cute!"



"Ok, Ace, do something spooky!"



The end!

4 kittens

Whir Soon.

Posted on 2018.06.10 at 23:45
It's summer! We've ditched all our regular activities (almost) and picked up new ones.

The big kids went to horseback riding camp this week.  There were only three campers. It was a very last-minute arrangement.



It's really a funny place - it's basically drop-in daycare on a ranch, where the owner is like, "As long as I'm cleaning stalls and mucking around, might as well have kids helping out." She's very easy-going and just puts them to work.

They fed horses, brushed them, cleaned stalls, and also got some riding in. They learned to canter. They came home filthy, exhausted, and even a little less cantankerous than usual. Therapeutic!

This week the camp theme was "Get the horses ready for the horse show this weekend" and so on Friday the kids rode over to another town with the horses, and got to help set up the stalls and such at the event park.



Dispatches from the Horse Show Event Park. (I also found out what a cowboy church is. I'd never heard of them, although I've certainly seen that metal silhouette of the cowboy kneeling. I just assumed the cowboy was protesting police violence. (No I didn't.))

...

This summer we ditched all the extracurriculars and picked up gymnastics.  The little kids are in a regular little kid class, but I don't have photos, I wasn't there.

Pokey is in something called Boy and Girls Ninja Class.



Think obstacle courses a la the TV show American Ninja Warrior, as opposed to stealthy black-clothed bandits with fancy weapons.



Very scrappy and competitive, without any emphasis on form. The constant aroma of competition is not great for Pokey. (Horseback riding seemed to be the opposite - just you grooving with your horse, cooperatively.)

Hawaii is doing an aerial silks class there.



Now she was fun to watch. The whole class, she was governed from within, working hard on her own to master the different beginner moves. Mostly ignoring the other kids and just intent on generating her own strength and coordination.



There's nothing better than watching your kid immersed and concentrating.

(Is Hawaii always so zen? Haha. She had an actual meltdown when she found out we'd signed her up for a Tuesday class, because she'd written Aerial Silks Class down on Wednesdays in her calendar for June, July and August. In pen. We'd intended to sign her up for the Wednesday class, but it filled up. She used some white out and we all survived.)

...

"We're pretending it's freezing!!"



And that is quite a feat.

...

Piano recital time!



It's held at our teacher's Lutheran church, and I kind of like the mid-century Norwegian trappings of this cross.

Pokey performed:




Who wrote that last song you played, Pokey?




Aww, that's pretty great.  Jammies and I were very proud of him.

Ace performed:



All year long, Ace has spoken the word "two" outloud, every time she held a half-note for two beats, on the second beat. On the very first phrase of her first song, she spoke "two" audibly, and then it struck her that we could all hear her, and she deceased after that. I'd been curious how that would play out.

Hawaii performed:



Who wrote that last song you played, Hawaii?



What the heck. No, it was the regular old Bach kind of Minuet in G.   (Pezold! You punk.)

Rascal did this during the performance:



and then they all did this:



afterwards. Well done, kids.

...

Who loves Pikachu?



Ace loves Pikachu! Does Rascal?



NOPE. He practically jumped into my arms to get away from Pika Pika. (This was at a birthday party.)



Ace showed Pikachu all over the new park, which opened up a few weeks ago.  If you recall, our beloved-but-dilapidated brown park was torn down at the beginning of the year, and this nice-but-conventional park was built in its place.




That poor person must have been dreadfully hot, at 1 pm. The spongy floor of the new park gets hotter and hotter, and you can feel it emanate up through your shoes.  Pika pika.



It is a good park, though.



There are water spray misters here and there, which is really helpful for the heat.

....

Let's play, "Which glasses shall I get?" !

Option 1:


Option 2:


Option 3:



If you chose, "I can't tell the difference," you're RIGHT! (None of the photos look quite right, for what it's worth.)

Nevertheless, I like Option 1 the best of all and bought them.

I finally got my vision officially tested, and it came back 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other.  Truly magnificent. I behold so well.  So I don't really need glasses, but the optomotrist said it would help with glare and halos when I'm driving at night, which I'd welcome.

...

I don't know if it feels like an increase in nature photos to you or not,



but there have been. The reason is because I get sedentary in the summers,



and so I've been taking morning walks to help counteract my slothy ways.



Then I snap photos of things I see. Like: what's that band-aid doing in the water?  Just some gross litter?



No way man, don't be such a downer. That's a little raft! for this little spider-dude:




Don't harsh his mellow ride.

This little bat got his mellow a bit too harshed, though:



Jammies disposed of him, the poor little furry dead guy, next to our driveway.

...

This week Hawaii made us banana bread:



and banana muffins:



They were legitimately fucking delicious.

...

From the annals of Jammies' handwriting, comes What Shall We Buy?



Whir soon?  Whin svrm?   No, don't be silly. White sugar!

4 kittens

My house is entertaining, fun and amazing.

Posted on 2018.06.04 at 21:43
I'm tired and feeling sorry for myself. I love posting but I also love going to bed. Let's see how this goes.

It's been stupid hot for May. That definitely figures in to my quaalude patheticness.



These are in reverse chronological order because of my sad self.  That's what the computer does on its own without intervention.

Hawaii made cupcakes for her friends' party! They tasted pretty good!



This is me, doing a sad zombie trudge.  It's a crop from the distant background of a photo a friend took of my exercise class.

It keeps cracking me up and I keep showing it to everybody. "Look how slumped over and brick-like I am," I exclaim repetitively, "I look like I'm about to faceplant over these twiggy little legs poking out from that big brick!"

Jammies guffawed, but then reassured me that it's not accurate, after he finished laughing and settled back down.




My dear friend R visited from Illinois with her 3 year old.

She challenged Pokey thus: "Using only a scissors, can you figure out a way to step through a single sheet of paper?"



He passed the test.



This is where I quit writing on Sunday night. I just had no will to say anything about this shimmery iridescent beetle. Now it's Monday night and I feel fine with my lack of commentary on the beetle.




Ace is ready to go to space.



Space toilet!



Hold on tight.



These are all from the children's museum in the town south of us.



It's pretty rad.



Teller window at the Frost Bank station.



yaaaaaaaaah.



Pneumatic tubes.



Bridge.



Hollywood Mermette.



Even a mermaid has to shower.



So does her brother.

.....

My one dear uncle in Wisconsin. is getting treated for acute leukemia, but a different uncle altogether died this weekend. This is one of the New York uncles on my dad's side, who we're not very close with. He was also sick with cancer.  We have never been close with them.  Just noting it.

...



New cicada. It's hard to see, but it's shell is on the right, just below the lower knot in the wood.

......

There is lots and lots of kudzu in Gainesville, where I grew up. And all across the southeast.



I've never noticed it in San Marcos before, but it jumped out at me recently. I think it has arrived.  They say it grows up to 12"/day.



I emailed a parks and wildlife guy I know, and he emailed a friend who works for the city. The friend said he was reading up on it.



Through those kudzu vines you are looking at kudzu covering lots of trees that Pokey and I used to climb through on our walks, but I don't think we could get through it now. Or at least I would not want to.

  This link says that it's not nearly the invasive monstrosity that we think it is.

....



My favorite place to be is at my house.  My house is very big. I'm never even a little bit bored!

One of the things I love to do is play with my stuffies. I have exactly 42! I count every night to make sure. My dad said I have too many, but I don't agree!

Another reason why I love my house is because of my mom's cooking. It's always a good meal, well, most of the time. Some of my favorite meals that my mom makes are noodles, tuna salad, and ham and pea pasta. Yum!

Lastly I love my house because of the amount of privacy that I get. I am very surprised of how much privacy I get, especially since I share a room with all of my siblings. Can you believe it!

My house is entertaining, fun and amazing. If you went there, you would believe me. I love my house!


Did my 3rd grader just write her first 5 Paragraph Keyhole Essay? Where each paragraph must have three sentences to count? (And 9/10ths of it is utter bullshit?) It's very nice bullshit, but she does not get any privacy, does not like my cooking, and I don't know about the stuffies. That may be true. Jammies does say she has too many.

....

Pokey started nagging us about phylogenetic trees of cats. Excuse me, about the Family Felidae.




These were the rough drafts that got thrown out.

At one point, Pokey asked me, "Where would the Sphinx go on the phylogenetic tree?"
I said, "Well, it's mythical. It wouldn't go anywhere."
Totally peeved, he said, "I KNOW it's made up. But where would it go, if it were here?!"

I dunno, Pokester. Where would my aunt go, if my aunt had wheels, on the phylogenetic wagon tree?



Here was the best copy and the template. At least at that moment. Later on he asked for a more detailed print-out to copy.



Hawaii has been french knitting up a storm this past week.  She made her own knitting dolly, which is kind of neat. It produces a knit cord.  I think it may conceptually be the same thing as knitting on a round, only with only four stiches.




Pokey makes cows of varying horn length.




Pokey and I found this dead armadillo by the kudzu. I told him he couldn't take it home because it grossed me out, with its little decaying foot.  As a concession, I took this photo.



The reverse chronology has taken us all the way back to last Monday, Memorial Day.  Watermelon In a Bathtub Day!



Drunken toobers knocking over our mailbox day.



Hawaii got 4th place for 3rd grade AR reading points.  Nice job, sweetie!

Pokey's teacher was super checked out and DONE with the school year, and it was dreadfully obvious during their awards ceremony.  The four other first grade teachers supplemented the bare minimum awards with things like "Best Smile!" and "Mr. Athlete!" and "Craziest T-shirts!" but his teacher did none of these. Pokey was a little stung by the awards ceremony, and I sympathized.  Kids from other classes gave their teachers big hugs, but no one from Pokey's class did.

Pokey's teacher is super pregnant, which is (I assume) the central reason behind both being checked out and not hugging or receiving hugs.

Either way, the school year ended on Friday and we all breathed a big sigh of relief.

...

The first half of Daddy Cat is done:



I love the brown. I love the gentle furriness of the legs and how the stripes blur. It hurt a lot.



We are going to go back and add more browns to the kittens at the end. The whole thing has me happy.



These baby ducks just keep growing up on me, the darlings.

4 kittens
Posted on 2018.06.03 at 21:44
I'm halfway through a post, but I will wrap it up tomorrow. I'm just super pooped. I love posting but I also love going to bed, and tonight I am spent. 

4 kittens

Make good kid pajamas, you.

Posted on 2018.05.27 at 23:43
Ace grew 2" over the past year. Her projected height is 5'8" according to the doctor. This surprised us all. Hawaii grew 2.5" but is only projected to be 5'7". 

I am 5'4" in my mind, 5'3" at the doctor. So someday I will be the shrimpy one in the family, looking up at everyone.  (This is a common fate for mothers, of course. It makes us adorable.)(Also my mom has lost probably two full inches as she's aged.)



"I'm a royal pizza queen! You must do what I say!"



A dress she made and uses for her dolls.

...

Remember the wallpaper that I picked for my mom?  The original:




My selection:



My selection is not my only selection. I love finding wallpaper choices. But I couldn't get my mom to tell me anything about what she wanted, so I was going on the original.

I ordered her a swatch and waited to hear if they liked it or wanted something different. When my mom got back to me, she said, "My friend told me that the best wallpapers are European! So I googled Paris Wallpaper and found one that I liked."

Here is what she found:



It's fine. IT'S FINE.  FINE, yes that is Paris Wallpaper all right.(I highly doubt it's European.)   Little Eiffel Towers and Lourve glass pyramids and puppy dogs. It'd make good kid pajamas, too.

They had leftover wallpaper, so they've decided to put it up in the bathroom nearest to my childhood bedroom. The existing wallpaper in this one not nearly so charming:



It's a Holly Hobby knock-off of a country girl with a bonnet doing in childhood pastural vignettes. I'm not that sad to see it go.  Here's another angle of the bathroom (tinted by heatlamp):



See those three plates on the wall on the right? They're three of many.  The bear plates were given to me over many Christmases and birthdays by my grandmother,



because I was tagged with TEDDY BEARS in that wretched way that kids used to get assigned a THEME that all presents must obey.  So, since I was tagged BEARS, my grandmother would give me bear plates.



It was the worst. I was probably 5-8 years old, and there was always a story about how each one could not possibly be the last teddy bear plate, because each one was not quite right. One was a koala - not a real bear! One was a panda bear - not a real bear, either! One was a black bear mama and cubs - nope! The library one (excuse me, libeary) wasn't a single true teddy bear. Winnie the Pooh - not quite right either.



 Eventually my mom interceded and explained to my grandmother that the sum total of all the plates was enough to count as a real bear, or a real teddy bear, or whatever the hell the elusive goal was. The end.



Anyway: As the wallpaper is coming down, my mom asked if I'd like to keep the plates.



I said no. I think I'll be able to remember the kindness of the sentiment behind the plates just fine, without the actual godforsaken 1980s commemorative shlock.

I found all these photos online - it turned out to be startlingly easy to find the exact commemorative 80s bear plates. They were not obscure.

..



This log has a puppy dog head, right?!

...

A former student of mine, T, died last weekend. I had him in precalculus a few years ago, and he worked for campus mail, and so I saw him regularly.

This past spring, his friend was in my calculus class. T came to my class with her a few times, just for funsies. What kind of kid does that? A really sweet, lovely kid. "It's 1 in the afternoon, I'm bored, and my buddy has calculus class, so I'll join her."  The class only had 6 kids in it, so he was really part of the group.

It's awful that he's gone. Apparently he went home after the semester, was partying with some friends, and OD'd.  My guess is that it was a burn-off-steam, celebrate the end of the semester and being back with old friends. His poor family.

I sort of want to post his photo here, so that years later when I look back, I can remember what he looked like.

(Heebie: You saved a photo of him in the May 27th, 2018 folder, under his name.)

...



I found the light green of the new growth very bright and pretty against the dark green of older leaves.

...

The last kitten is done!  This one is Hawaii.

Original:



Stencil:



The stencil made me super upset, because the head grew monstrously distorted when I moved my arm. I hadn't expected that. When she first put the marker outline on, I looked in her tiny mirror, but I didn't go out and stand in front of the big mirror to see what would happen when I moved.

Finished product:




It's so beautiful. I barely care about the distortion anymore.

In order of importance:

1. I am so relieved to have four beautiful done kittens. Whatever happens with Daddy and Mama cat is nbd from here on out. Go ahead, mangle them. My kittens are beautiful.  I am feeling so relaxed and happy.

2. Now that I am relaxed, I can nitpick. Happily! Here goes: these guys really look grayscale, and they were supposed to be black and browns. I'm not sure it's possible to add in golden browns, but maybe if possible.

The thing is: If we are going to add more golden browns to the kittens, that's a conversation I need to have now. Daddy is next, and he can have more golden browns included right from the start.

3. This last kitten hurt like a bloody horrorshow. It was stabby and electrocuting and sharp and prolonged, kind of like I was, well, having kittens. If Kittens 1 and 3 were a 1-2 on the pain scale, and Kitten 2 was a 4-5 on the pain scale, this last one was a 7-9. It's the thinness and sensitivity of the skin that is just brutal.

So: Daddy Cat is in the same place, on the opposite side. I'm quite a bit worried about the pain this time around. I haven't quite figured out what I could take to dope me up a little better. Tramadol?

...



I liked how they used Rolling Stones font for their Rolling Trucks emblem.

...

Pokey's English grammar is regressing slightly in deference to his developing Spanish, which is amazing to Jammies and I, because he's learning skills we never acquired. 

He said something like "It's happened since it's been 3 weeks" when he meant "It hasn't happened in 3 weeks", and he said something like "What happens when you meet an alligator and a python?" or something when he meant "...when an alligator meets a python?"

...

Look at these linocuts I found at Goodwill!



They were used for printing (obviously) but I don't know if it was shirts or what.



EAT MORE TACOS!



Pet your dogs!

....

I overheard Hawaii say to her friend, P, "It's ok! We just won't tell my mom that you have guns at your house!"

That heralds an awkward conversation I've avoided until now.  (With P's mom, not with Hawaii.) I assume they're planning a sleepover.  So far, Hawaii's only slept over at houses where we're friends with the parents.  So somehow I have to muster the fortitude to ask if they keep their guns locked up, and then I have to be willing to cancel the fun if the answer is wrong. Bleagh.

Hawaii wrote a comedy routine for a (different) friend to do with her, for a class talent show:



(Confusingly, Hawaii's friend's name starts with H, so I left Hawaii as "L" in the transcription and "H" is her friend.)

L: Hey everybody, it's me Mickey Mouse! Just kidding, no it's not, it's the comedy kids!
H: And we're here for comedy!
Both: The comedians!
L: In tune
H: God, I'm hungry.
L: Let's get lunch.
H: Mexican food?
L: Japanese.
H: SUSHI!
L: How about sea food?
H: Yum!
L: Speaking of sea food, what kind of sea food goes well with peanut butter?
H: What?
L: JELLYFISH!
H: That's so funny! Hey, what kind of beans don't grow in gardens?
L: What?
H: JELLY BEANS!
Both: (laugh)
L: Anyway, what do you want for lunch?
H: Fast food?
L: Ewww!
H: Oh! I have a gross joke! Why was the nose feeling sad?
L: Why?
H: He was tired of being picked on!
L: Ewwwwwwwww!
H: I know right, disgusting!
L: Well, that's all for now folks on...
Both: The comedians!
L: In tune

The end!

...

Rascal does puzzles!



He got the border done by himself:



but then got some assistance on the 50 states.

WHO LOVES A CAT POLE?



OJ loves a cat pole! (Orange blur behind the ladder.)



Fluffy loves a cat pole!

Just wait till we get the crow's nest in operation!


4 kittens

All Turtles Are Box.

Posted on 2018.05.20 at 21:50
Ballet recital weekend; Mimi is in town; we made a cat pole.



That pole was cat-scratched to high heaven. I'd like to install a crow's nest at the top for them to lounge in. (I had a carpeted-pillar-with-crow's-nest in my grad school apartment, and still have the basket.  We're debating whether there's enough clearance for that particular basket or if we need a different one.)

I actually kind of love ballet recital weekend.



I love watching our kids dance. Ms. K keeps the numbers short and upbeat enough to hold my attention. Not too many slow langorous ballet numbers. Is ballet the worst of the dances? When I was growing up, my mom took ballet classes and took us to the ballet about three times a year. It was deadly boring. I can't tell if I'm still an oppositional child or if it's true that literally every other single kind of dance is more fun to watch than ballet.



Hawaii's dance moves are crisp and on point. She's really great to watch. Above, she's dancing to Finesse by Bruno Mars and Cardi B, a song I adore beyond all reason.



She was in three dances total - two hip-hop and one jazz. I've long since resolved any weirdness I felt about the cultural appropriation of hip-hop and now I just love watching them more than anything.



Ace's class only had three children, and then one got sick, so there were only two there for the actual performance.



They danced ballet to Beauty and the Beast, and while I griped about ballet above, I still adored watching Ace. And she did very well.



Plus Mimi is in town, which is the best. She says, "Saturday is movie night. You guys go out on a date; I'm going to make M&M popcorn with the kids and watch movies with them." Then she slips Jammies some money to cover our date.

We went to a french restaurant in town and sat in their little garden area, and then went and saw Deadpool 2.  It was such a great date.

I had no idea there were actually good super hero movies!  I'd thought Deadpool was the same as Deadwood.  I was  so tired after eating a big meal that Jammies said, "If you're just going to fall asleep during the movie, let's watch something I know I want to see." I thought that sounded reasonable, so we agreed to Deadpool 2 (and then he explained what it was) and guys, it's such great fun.  You all probably already knew that.

...




Box turtle? I think all turtles are box turtles.
...

Rascal asked, "Want to know what my teacher says?"
"Sure!" I said.
"Transparent means ALL of the light shows through, translucent means SOME of the light shows through, and sillouhette means a shadow!" Rascal rattled off proudly.

It took a while to parse what he'd said. He pronounced things correctly but it was so unexpected.



I call this shirt of Rascal's his Rick Perry shirt.  SUPER SMART.

....

Ace and her friend A have a routine at school;
A sings, "In the light, in the sky..."
and Ace comes in growling like a low rapper: "I'm gonna punch your booty in the night!"

That line - "I'm gonna punch your booty in the night" - is really insanely catchy and easy to get chanting. If you'll recall, this isn't Ace's first catchphrase. She also coined, "SO LONG, SUGAR DIAPER!" last summer and nobody could stop harking it out.

...



My baby duckies are getting bigger!

...


I had a parent-teacher-Pokey conference with Pokey's teacher and Pokey.  It's kind of a disaster right now, but there's only two more weeks left. C'mon, Pokey. Keep your shit together for two weeks. Just two weeks.

Pokey's teacher spent the first ten minutes venting about how shitty Pokey's behavior has been lately. Here's a couple notable things:
1. She let things go on far too long without alerting us that he was deteriorating.
2. It was good for Pokey to hear her let the floodgates burst and hear exactly how fed up she is.

I repeated back to her all of his obnoxious behaviors and wrote them down, and she calmed down a lot. She returned to a place where she could remember that he's a little boy. She had shut down and disconnected - out of well-deserved frustration - but I think once Pokey sensed she had disconnected from him, he had sort of declared war.  What has  Pokey been doing that makes her so livid? Basically acting like a cranky teenager - rolling his eyes, huffing, answering "I don't care" when she addresses his behavior, slamming his papers around, etc.

(Of course, Jammies and I are high-fiving each other that he's not punching other kids or throwing chairs. He's using verbal communication to express big emotions! This is great! I kept a poker face about all that, though.)

We then devised a bunch of strategies for Pokey, wrote a list, and taped it to the table where he sits.  Instituted a star system where he can earn baseball cards for good behavior.  His teacher seemed to calm down a lot and hopefully she can find some actual warmth towards him, and hopefully he can get his shit together and we can all end the school year.

Fortunately, nothing Pokey does can keep the school year from ending.




On Saturday, Pokey and I went to the tennis courts and knocked the ball around a bit. That was super fun. Having bigger kids is so much fun. Today my hips kind of hurt. I kind of miss playing sports.

...



Mimosa trees in full effect.

It's been 1000 goddamn degrees this past week. (It's not full blown summer yet - I expect this heat to break before it ramps up again.)

The hottest place in the world is actually the sidewalk and street outside of our daycare. It's scientific. It's an oven and your feet melt off while your kid screws around casually and does everything to postpone getting in the car and getting buckled up.

...



Beginning of school year/End of school year.

Hawaii still wakes up at 5:50 every morning.  However, the bus usually arrives around 6:35-6:40, not the scheduled 6:45 time we'd been told.  However! there's an app that shows you exactly where your bus is and notifies you when the bus enters your preset radius. The future is so great.

...

The third kitten does need fixing.  I patiently waited three days, though.



This is the angle I withheld from you, last week.  The problem is that extra belly sac, attached to the hind foot.  What is that? Why is there a wobbly belly back so far like that?!

The good news is that this is easily fixable. Recall the original:



The extra belly sack is actually part of the hind quarters of the distant back leg. It just looks like a belly sack on my shoulder because of the anatomy of my shoulder forcing it to be prominent.

I'm pretty sure all it needs is to be darkened a little bit, to put it in the same plane as the foot, behind the actual belly.  So: easy fix.

I'm still generally worried that one of these errors will not be an easy fix, and I'll have to adjust to an actual sizable mistake. I am not a good tattoo person. I do not enjoy this adrenaline of handing over design of my body to someone else.

Still, this artist is doing a phenomenal job, for the most part. Three more cats to go.

4 kittens

Explain both of the entendres, please.

Posted on 2018.05.13 at 22:51
So, how's your lice? Oh, good.

Oh, us? why yes, our incurable town illness is experiencing a flare-up. Thanks for your concern.

Oh, me? You want to know if I personally have or have had lice? Shut up, yes, there was one louse and some nits in my hair.  Yes, I've spent hours and hours this past week with the nit comb.



Mommy Louse <3 Daddy Louse. (Okay they're spiders, or at least they have a web. Ask Ace.)

How did I get lice? I'm not a kid.



Oh, this louse-y cuddle bug who climbs in bed with us every night with his grimy infested head. C'mere, you snuggler.

...

It's Extra Birthday Day! What loot did I get Mother's Day?



Lovely homemade cards and various trinkets that the golden schoolteachers coax the kids into creating. Jammies got me a technology thing to help me find my keys when they walk off.



Book is from all the kids - "Mama likes to be funny!" they reasoned, yellow paperweight from Hawaii, handprint imprint from Rascal. The handprint was not on the normal brittle clay, but on some odd spongy material.

The thing about joke books is that it's basically Have Fun Explaining Idioms to Your Kids:



See, "working for peanuts" is a thing that people say when they're not getting paid much, but elephants are supposed to like peanuts, but no, I don't really know if they like peanuts or not in real life, it's just something people say.

See, "cats have nine lives" is a saying that means that cats are curious and seem to defy death with the physical risks they take, and they must be lucky and have spare lives. "Frogs croaking" is a joke because sometimes when someone dies you say they croaked.



Embroidery is how you draw with thread. Needles can mean pine needles or sewing needles. There's a phrase, "if at first you don't succeed, try try again," which no one says much anymore, but babies cry a lot.  A giggle box is what people sometimes call someone that giggles a lot.

What about this one? Explain this one? explain this one? explain this one? explain this one.   Explain both entendres of the double entendre, please.

...

The baseball season is over. Pokey himself hadn't hit the ball in a month of games, and he finally got two nice hits, during this last game, and I whooped-shrieked with relief. Peak-End experiences and all that.

(Pokey's team came in second overall and thus got trophies.)(Also there was a karate tournament I missed due to graduation. More trophies.)

Mr. Neil, Pokey's after school counselor - all of 23 years old, maybe - came to watch Pokey and the twins play their last baseball game of the season.  I found it incredibly sweet that this kid, albeit the grown kind, came out to his afterschool kids play, on a Saturday morning. People are so lovely.



(Blooming artichokes.)

Pokey is also experiencing his ritualistic spring deterioration, where he starts snarling at his peers and gets angrier and angrier, and we get calls from his fed up teacher. I have a conference with her on Tuesday.

We've reinstituted a point system and bribes: baseball cards, this year, is his bribe of choice.



(Baby ducks!)

Also Pokey:
Pokey: I like to pretend that life is a game. Like a video game.
Me: me too! I think that's a nice way to think about what we want in life. What kind of game do we want to play.
Pokey: and money is like the coins that you get for doing stuff, that you can trade for items you want.
Me:...
Pokey: And your body is like your health score that can get worse. Or better. And you can die.
Me:...

...

Ace:  "These are headphones! And that's a keyboard and it connects to your house so you can play home music!"



Ace also got rid of the doll she'd bought with her own money:



She kept saying it would give her nightmares, because the more she played with it, the more the face would get bent. She flat-out wanted it out of the house. I felt bad that she'd wasted her birthday money on it, but she was just worried we'd make her keep it.

Also it had a weird stickiness, for being 18 years stuck in the commemorative Y2K box it came in.

...

Hawaii's first day of STAAR testing is tomorrow. Third grade is the first year you get tested.

They amp the kids up to frenetic levels of anxiety. Our friend's kid, B, kept nagging our friends this evening that it was time to GO. We were all sitting around, enjoying a Mother's Day sunset on the back porch and eating Taco Cabana.   B kept coming out back and reminding her parents that she wanted to be in bed by 8:30, and so they needed to leave by 7:45 at the latest.

Hawaii wasn't as nervous as B, but she wasn't immune to the high stakes.



This is Hawaii's camo garb. They were instructed to wear camo on Friday, and the 3rd graders go on a big parade march throughout the school, in lockstep, doing a call-and-response "I DON'T KNOW BUT I'VE BEEN TOLD" riff wherein the 3rd graders let you know that they are really bold and boastful about doing well on the STAAR test.

...

Hawaii is very into her baking recipe book she got for her birthday. She made our neighbor a cake-in-a-mug for our neighbor's 10th birthday today. Here's the shopping list:



What's with the colors?



Ah!

The cake turned out fine. It was weirdly simplistic: butter, egg, cocoa and sugar. No flour or anything. And then you put it in the microwave.

(It's clearly supposed to be a single serving for single women to make for their night in with their cats, when they don't want extra cake leftovers.  Whatever, I'd totally hit that.)

...

It's a tattoo day! Our friends all came over today and tubed the river, and I skipped out on them to go get needlepointed, embroidered, and pine needled.

Original Ace Kitten:



Stenciled Ace Kitten:



Final Ace Kitten:



I'm pretty happy with the face and most of it.  I love how the paw is draped over the edge of my shoulder.

(I've instituted a rule where I'm not allowed to panic for the first three days after I get a tattoo. There is a detail that I may choose to panic about.)

Let's put them side by side!



It's pretty great.

Pokey's Kitten's eyes passed the 3 day waiting period, and I still felt panic, and so I texted the tattoo artist, and she fixed his face this session. I'm incredibly relieved about that.

Before:



Wonky eyes. Left eye too high.

After:



Left eye now opposite the right eye. Old left eye transformed into the left eyebrow, as originally intended in the stencil.

If I stare at it for too long, I can get up inside my head, but basically I'm relieved.

...




Grades are graded, graduates crossed the stage, end of year workshops are this week. I should have the feeling of empty summer stretching in front of me, but I don't yet.

4 kittens

Chamoy and Tajin

Posted on 2018.05.06 at 23:07
Pokey and I were at HEB. I said, "Hey, want a piece of fruit? Kids can take one free." He felt uncomfortable, but I pushed him because he'd been running around for two hours in the heat with some friends, while I touted a picket sign at a polling center for the local school board election. He was running low on fuel, for sure.  Pokey took a banana. (He didn't open it for a while - "won't they think I'm stealing it?" - and I reassured him that they know there's a box with fruit for kids to eat while they shop. He can be a bit nervous, but so would I have been.)

"There's a trash can," I pointed out, when he finished and was carrying the peel around. "I want to compost it," he told me.
"Really?" I asked, "there's not going to be any compost bins here."
"I'm going to wait compost it," he repeated, and I shrugged. It's not like we have any compost heap at home, although things get left in the minivan so maybe that counts.

When we got to the checkout line, he got in front of me and asked the cashier, "Do you have any compost?"

The cashier flicked a glance over at me. "For his banana peel," I said helpfully.

"Oh!" the cashier said, "Sure! Here!" and brought out his regular old trash can, enthusiastically. I composed my face to keep from bursting out laughing, and watched intently to see how Pokey would respond. Would he keep pursuing his lofty ideal? Or would he throw in the towel? I watched the gears turn.

Pokey sighed and tossed the peel in the trash can. I smirked to myself and was kind of relieved that Pokey knew when to fold.

...

Pokey had Cinco de Mayo celebrations all week long. Their first performance was at his school on Thursday:



I don't know why they put mustaches on all the boys, but there you have it. The high school mariachi band was also performing, and they played a hauntingly beautiful tune while wearing great outfits:



Pokey had another performance on Friday, and then again on Saturday at the town's Cinco de Mayo celebration.



No mustaches on Friday or Saturday.

Who will read this journal in the future? Anyone? Will my kids make it through? Will future readers know what flossing is? Flossing is this very simple dance step where you swing your rigid arms such that one hip pops through, and then the other. I suppose it's a craze. Something about it becomes very ingrained in one's brain, though, and the kids all use it as a nervous tic. I too have the urge to do it all the time! It scratches the same itch as jostling my leg compulsively, which, guilty.

ANYWAYS pre-performance screwing around, on Saturday:



That cracked me up. (Jammies independently video'd them too, and got a longer clip.)



...

Ace, after dance class, in a low voice: "Mom, I feel a little jealous of Bailey."
Bailey's mom was next to us and said, "That's a very mature thing to say!" Ace looked up, realized people were curious, and whispered that she would tell me in the car.

In the car, Ace began again, in somber tones, that she feels a little jealous of Bailey. I asked her what was up. Ace said, "Bailey has a snack bag at dance class every week." I was pretty sympathetic to that. "You must also want a snack bag at dance class," I told her, and Ace nodded woefully (while eating her car snack that she gets when I pick her up). "But I don't say anything," Ace said. "I just say it in my head.

Then Ace said, resolutely, "Next week, I might tell you this in the car after dance again...So! How was work?"

So, how was work indeed! I loved that segue. I told her briefly about my day, and she told me how she pictured my work - tan building, brown squares, windows. Basically accurate.

...

and a joke from Ace:
Q: why did the ketchup stand upside down?
A: Because a tomato stands right side up!

who knows!

...

and one more from Ace:
Ace lamented to Jammies, "I don't like how my life is going."
"Oh?" said Jamaal.
"All my friends are good listeners, and they follow instructions, and I'm the only silly one," she said plaintively.

(she was easily comforted but I'm enjoying her mid-childhood existential crises.)


...

Mom! Take a picture take a picture take a picture!



Sure, sweetie!

...

Mimi is watching Jammies' sister's kids for ten days. The kids are 6, 4, and 1. Jammies' sister and her husband went to Hawaii. I'm mildly jealous, and Jammies and I were kicking it around, and the thing is that we don't exactly want a ten day trip to Hawaii anyway, without kids. I mean, we wouldn't turn it down but we'd never save our money for that. As Jammies put it, "I wouldn't want to go on a ten day vacation without the kids. All I'd be able to think about is what a mess the house would be when we got back and what a hole we'd have to dig ourselves out of, to get back on track." I basically agree.



Later Jammies said, "I figured out what my perfect vacation would be. I want Mimi to take our kids to Hawaii for ten days. Then I can sort the toys, clean the house from top to bottom, finally organize...[and he rattled off a list of things I can't possibly recreate]."

Basically, we both just like our routine, and it'd be nice if our routine allowed a few more hours for getting shit done. Jammies feels like the world is off-kilter when the house is trashed (which unfortunately has been the case since 2013). I feel like the world is off-kilter when I'm sleep-deprived (which is an easier thing to prioritize, somehow, so I don't get in quite the same state of off-kilterness as Jammies does.) (Also when the house looks trashed to Jammies it still looks pretty clean to me, but I at least now can tell when he'd see it otherwise.)



I am not a garbage customer! YOU'RE the garbage customer!

...

Hawaii had another round of violent throwing up for two hours at bedtime. This is the second or third time since Spring Break.  My classes ended, and so I stayed home with her the next day:



and she was completely fine, so we walked to the river. It's very strange but who knows.

On Saturday morning she made us all breakfast:



Mine was one of the nutella kitties. It was pretty good!

...

Cinco de Mayo was also election day:



Me, outside the polling station for an hour or two, screwing around and waving to cars. I got in only one bizarre conversation with an elderly man, who had only one question: "What would your candidate say is the effect of the schools on the economy?"
I paused and then said something roughly like, "Our schools are big on both votech training and college readiness. We're hoping to give kids the skills to enter the workforce and get a good-paying job. I guess that's the future economy and not the current economy?"
He talked to me for a while. He's very concerned that most local people aren't aware that there's a bill in committee in the House to take the US off the floating dollar and resurrect a gold standard. He has a building and he wants to start a Heebieville Economics Club to help inform people. Despite the bizarreness of the conversation, he turned out to be a lefty, so whatever.

That night, we went to a Cinco de Mayo election party. Do you remember last year when I got pepinos locos at the Cinco de Mayo festival?



They were bizarre. Cucumbers, peanuts, chile lime seasoning, jicama, gummy bears, salsaghetti, and who the fuck knows what else.  Anyway, I researched pepinos locos and decided to make a more standard version for the party.



Then you stuff the holes with peanuts rolled in the sauce. I basically had an audience of two in mind - our friends who are from El Paso - as I was making them.

At the party - completely unsolicited! - they congratulated me on hitting the nail on the head, and I felt VERY EXTREMELY PROUD and full of myself. I gloated openly.



I forgot to take a picture of the full platter, looking pretty. Here's the leftovers, looking soggy.

The key ingredients are Chamoy and Tajin:



They are both delicious af. Chamoy is a pickled fruit taste, Tajin is a spicy thing.

All partied out:



and:



and Pokey and Hawaii were also asleep, but I didn't snap photos. 

4 kittens

Springtime Rash

Posted on 2018.04.29 at 23:17
I have a second kitten!

Recall this original illustration:



Outline:



And completed:



Mostly I love it and I'm very happy with it.  Again, the photos are weird and distorting - his body is more nicely round, like the original, than it looks here.

There is one thing that is driving me a little crazy, however. (Should I pause and let you try to find it?)

          *****   ******    *****

(I'm perversely relieved to have identified a thing that's bothering me. Now I know the kind of error and scale of I'll be dealing with. Second, I think it's pretty correctable. And if it's not fixed, I'll be okay with it.)

        *****   ******    *****     

It's the eyes: they're not even.



The left eye is too high. It's especially obvious if you start with the ears and follow the forehead down. 

If you go back to the stencil outline, the eye is in a different (more correct) spot. So the error was introduced in the shading.

Here's what I think happened: I think the left eye was actually a forehead stripe. Cover up the left eye, and you can see the actual left eye about a centimeter down, across the nose from the right eye. Cover up the right eye, and the left eye all of a sudden pairs nicely with the eyebrow-ish stripe.



I think that at some point she got confused - she thought the left eye was the cheek line, and the left eyebrow was the eye, and so she darkened and added the white highlighter incorrectly. (It's clearest if you compare the stencil to the shaded one, above - the left cheek has jumped.)

So I think if she darkened the left eye into an eyebrow, and added some white highlights where the left eye should actually be, it would be fixed.  I'm really not terribly upset, but I do hope we fix his darling little face.

I took 4 ibuprofen again. This one hurt more than Rascal, but it wasn't very bad. Maybe a 2-3 on the pain scale. It hurts the most at the beginning, and then the skin sort of gets less sensitive from the vibrations.

...

Rascal: This is my frog.



"When I was a baby, he was my little tadpole. Then he grew legs and then he lost his tail, and now he's three, like me."



...

I was awarded Faculty Member of the Year by our student government. I appreciated the sentiment and I got a nice plaque. I'm not sure if I've gotten a plaque since I was a child.

...

Ace spent her birthday money on this:



at a yardsale. A commemorative Barbie - CelebrationTheresa - from the year 2000. I stage-whispered to Ace that she should ask, "Can you do any better on the price?" but she squirmed and wouldn't. The garage sale folks knocked $5 off the price anyway.

Ace wrote this:



Once upon a time there was two puppies, but one of their childs was a panda! Then they saw a daddy panda. The daddy panda had one baby panda cup and a puppy cub. And then the mommy dog said, "Daddy panda, want to trade children?" and so the daddy panda said, "Sure! a panda for a puppy!" So then the daddy panda carefully pushed the puppy cub up, and the mommy dog pushed the panda cub up, and then the two that had been carefully pushed shook hands and went to each other's mama and dada!


(Our little sweet segregationist. I promise to tell her about diversity.)




I forgot to photograph this when it was timely, but this is what Ace made and gave to Hawaii for her birthday.

...

The older kids participated in Piano Guild yesterday. Very much against Hawaii's will. Furthermore, after she sandbagged her choices for pieces about a month ago, I got fed up and make her pick a piece that was a stretch. She picked Minuet in G (as I mentioned here) and worked her tail off on it. As a compromise, I told her that we could wait until the last possible moment to either commit to playing Minuet in G at the Piano Guild, or switch it out for an easier piece.

That last possible moment to swap songs came and went, and no one spoke up, and so we found ourselves in the waning days, committed to the Minuet. Her rendition was still pretty rocky, much rockier than any of us would have preferred. I was nervous on her behalf. 

Friday night, she had an all-out meltdown in fear. I was very sympathetic, but I also think it's good and brave to go out on a limb and try something hard like this, so we kept a Show-Must-Go-On! front about the whole thing.

Hawaii passed Saturday morning by making us all cinnamon toast. She toasted them with tinfoil arranged in different shapes to produce outcomes like so:



L for Hawaii, M for Pokey. There was also a heart and a stormtrooper toast.

The recipe encouraged kids to "make them your own!" which Hawaii interpreted as "go around the outer crust rim with Nutella" which was delicious but it's hard to think of a messier version of toast to hand to the little kids. 

But then the toast was eaten, and it was time to head to Piano Guild.

How'd she do? Hawaii breezed through her first three pieces. When she got to the minuet, she kept her composure, and played beautifully up until the very last two measures, where she stumbled, couldn't recover, and backtracked from the last line, and finished the minuet. 

I was absolutely delighted. It was one of her better attempts - I was very relieved that she hadn't stumbled so badly earlier that she'd had to restart a whole page. (When I was a kid, my mom would try to moderate my expectations by scaling what we'd take as a victory. "How about this: if this soccer team only beats you guys by three goals, we'll count it as a win!" she'd propose enthusiastically, and I'd respond with disgust. But I super understand where she was coming from now. You just want to protect your kid. My point is: in my head, I decided I'd consider it a win if Hawaii didn't have to go back and restart the second page. So she won! I did not share this with Hawaii, however.)

If we'd had another few weeks, she'd have had the piece spotlessly down. She really did work her tail off on it. Afterwards, Hawaii's expression was pinched and grim, and I still am not sure how she felt about it, but she was in better spirits for the rest of the day.

(Pokey also did very well!)(Hawaii was also very nervous about sightreading, but I was not at all worried on her behalf about that, and so that did not register much with me. She did fine.)

...

Pokey:



augh! my beautiful boy! What happened?!

Jammies hit a grounder to him during baseball practice and it popped up on him. Jammies felt absolutely awful. One of the other coaches is a trainer, and poked gingerly around and said he didn't think anything was broken in the occipital bones, so we skipped the hospital, and in fact the swelling seems to be going down already.

...

Hawaii: I have a joke. How did the boy get sunburnt on a cold day?
Me (skipping the science lecture about altitude): I don't know, how DID the boy get sunburnt on a cold day?
Hawaii: Because he lived in ancient Egypt! Get it? Because a cold day for them is still a hot day for everyone else!
Me, being no fun: Or modern Egypt!
Hawaii: Sure. It could be modern Egypt.

...



...

At bedtime one night, Rascal was bawling his eyes out over the end of storytime. He was wailing in bed, inconsolable, when I went to hug him goodnight. Finally I redirected his attention, got him to breathe and calm down, and talk to me. He heaved and sobbed and told me his sad tale, and I echoed it back to him, naming his emotions - the normal thing one does with an emotional three year old.

Pokey piped up, up from out of sight in the top bunk of the other bed: "I like listening to you calm down Rascal," he said. I was touched. Pokey continued, "His little voice is so cute! And he sounds so sad. It's so cute."  I agree, it is so cute.

Also I choose to interpret Pokey's comment as a compliment. Listen, they all listen when you parent one of them. You're always parenting all of them, even though three of them aren't in the hotseat. The compliment is that Pokey likes the naming of the emotions and feels himself self-regulate upon hearing me assist Rascal with the process.  (Am I full of myself or am I full of myself?! Yes indeed! Oh so full.)

...

Jammies showed me the poison ivy rash he has now, from removing the poison ivy last week, in advance of Hawaii's scavenger hunt. It's on his forearm and on his legs.  "I actually get this rash every spring," he confessed, "and I just call it my Springtime Rash, and I never really thought about it."

I thought that was funny. He also said, "also I never exactly believed you when you said there was poison ivy in the backyard. I thought the reaction would be much quicker." Nope, it takes a day to show up.



I've been meaning to plant an ivy on the front trellis, but then this just started growing on its own.  Pretty!

...

Ace told some joke, and my attention was elsewhere, and I politely said, "That's a good one!"
Pokey interjected, "One time I told a joke, but I messed it up, and I was about to correct it, when you said 'That's a good one!'  Before you even heard the right joke! So now I don't trust you when you say that."

I laughed and laughed. Since then, I've said "That's a good one!" a few more times. I thought Pokey might get the meta-joke and start to laugh with me, but he's kept his reaction to himself.

...

We took the kids to see these guys:



They're from New York, but the director is from the Valley, and they put on a free show locally (probably as a rural outreach sort of thing. Heebieville is funny - we qualify for rural assistance in all kinds of ways, but we get far more than our fair share of rural outreach because we're not really that rural, and so it's so easy and convenient for the kind folks in Austin to fulfill their rural outreach mission.)

Anyway: if you're in New York, I highly recommend catching a show. Absolutely first rate ballet folklorico, insane amount of energy and beat and rhythm to it, and just a joy to listen and watch. And some strictly musical pieces by the band, without dancing.  The band was also superb.




At the Q&A afterwards, Hawaii raised her hand. When it was her turn, she had to speak into a microphone and introduce herself. Her question was: "Was there ever a time that you really wanted to quit, but instead you decided to persevere?" (She really did use the word persevere.) The lead dancer/director got all choked up and emotional and shared a story about repeated setbacks by injury.



Ours was just held at the local middle school. Afterwards they served Mexican roasted chili lime corn and fruit and watermelon juice.



Good advice to all, whether or not one is transitioning out of from childhood to one's teenage years or not.
...

My next kittens will be done on Mother's day, so there's a bit of a lull until the next round of excitement.

4 kittens

Adventure with Perils

Posted on 2018.04.23 at 00:06
The big kids went ALL OUT for Ace's birthday party. First, Hawaii decided to create a scavenger hunt. Pokey was inspired to build a Ballroom and Barn.

Hawaii's scavenger hunt:



Happy birthday to you
I love you, I do
Some surprises you'll find
Each one for you.

5 boxes you will find
When you walk outside
One for every year of your life,
Each one divine.


That rolled up paper is Clue  No. 1:



which takes you to the back corner of the back yard:



Get it!



There's Clue No. 2:



which takes you through a bunch of poison ivy. Jammies nobly destroyed the poison ivy in advance of the scavenger hunt. (Hawaii had shown me the clues and path last weekend, when she made this thing, so we got lucky.)

And here's the second present and map!



Clue No. 3:



Now we're heading under the house. Those squares are pillars. We're heading to the playhouse under the real house:



but I missed a photo of the present and rolled up clue. Moving on!



leading us to a clue hidden in the hanging storage rack under the house:



and lastly Clue No. 5:



out in the pecan tree in the front yard:



The end! Ace sat on the picnic table (that our nice contractor made us last summer) and opened the little presents, which were little trinkets and jewelry.



But WAIT! There's MORE!

Hawaii also made Ace a poster and colored a picture for her:



and also made Ace a home-made color-by-numbers art piece:



Boy, Hawaii. You certainly worked really hard and made some immensely thoughtful gifts.

I guess that's all?

Nope! Pokey also got in on the gift giving:



See the door? It's for Ace's dolls.

The top is velcro'd and opens up like so:



to reveal the ballroom dance floor:



!! The idea is that this is the companion to the glorious castle that E. Messily made for Ace's third birthday, two years ago, which is still in heavy rotation.

Pokey also made a barn:



which maybe that's a stall on the lower left? Some troughs near the door?

I am very fond of painting where you can see the brush strokes:



and thus find the ballroom roof rather beautiful.

...

We did a thing my mom has done in the past: we took all the kids to Toys-R-us (in my head is "Tosyrus", like Osiris) and let them spend $40 (for the birthday kids) and $30 (for the unbirthday kids) apiece.

This time I recognized how magical it is to be able to pick your own toy out, unfettered. I don't know why this wasn't obvious to me - I love being given a gift certificate and getting to savor the choosing process and get something that I've fallen in love with. Gifts are so kind and thoughtful, but getting to pick your own gift out is just so much goddamn fun.



(I know that's "up", you doofus door lock. But are you locked or unlocked?!!)

That said, I barely registered what crap they picked out. A flipzee doll? Some sort of Barbie with all these mermaid acoutrements? Legos? Dump trucks? It's not quite as fun for the gift giver, in a way, except that you get to bestow such a treat on the recipient.

We also had a conversation with the kids about leveraged buy-outs and how their beloved Toys-R-Us is going out of business, despite being a profitable toy store, because extremely rich people wanted to be even richer. When life hands you lemons, explain late-stage capitalism to your kids.

...

Remember how Jammies installed a review camera for my minivan, for my birthday?



Isn't that amazing? Sorry, little spider. You sure did work hard on that.

...

Hawaii turned nine on Thursday! For her birthday dinner, she wanted Taco Cabana. She debated long and hard about maybe choosing Subway over Taco Cabana, but in the end she chose wisely.

...



I did not buy this for anyone. Edible eyeshadow?! Why? Whah? Am I old or is this nonsensical? (And are they really pretending it has educational value and you're grooming your little scientist? That part doesn't bother me. Whatever, toys can be trashy.)

....

Hawaii's birthday party was on Saturday. It was...I don't know, man. She had a good time, at least.

She wanted a movie theater birthday. The local theater was agreeable, but we wouldn't know what was showing until the Tuesday before the party. The guaranteed us that there would be at least one kid's movie.  Hawaii was game.

It turned out there were exactly two kid's movies:
1) Sgt. Stubby, An American Hero, about a WWI puppy dog war hero.  Cartoon.  Maybe a little young for a 9 year old birthday party? It is based on a true story.
2) The Miracle Season, high school girl's volleyball team where the main character dies. The rest of the team has a lot of grief.

These were the only two choices! Aren't these terrible? I steered Hawaii towards Puppy Dog War Hero, since I wasn't sure if parents would be comfortable with their kid watching such a sad movie as the volleyball thing.

We were shown the party room, and guests started showing up. The ceiling was very, very low - I could touch it with a small jump, and I can't jump worth shit.  It was long and narrow and barren.  It was like an echo chamber.  A group of adults talking moderately would find it uncomfortably noisy in there. With fifteen 8 and 9 year olds it was unbearable.



(This office plant came back from the dead recently and I'm very pleased.)

The movie itself: it sounds impossibly naive, in hindsight, to say that a WWI movie seemed like it might be lighthearted. "We thought it would be Mulan with a puppy dog!" says Jammies.  It was not. Is your 8 year old unfamiliar with the hardness of life in the trenches? Does your 9 year old not yet know what the Western Front was like when the Germans were trying to take Paris?  Take them to see this movie. They'll understand what trenches are, and how soldiers spend months in them, with an apocolyptic landscape above. Rattled by gunfire. Watching their compatriots get buried in rubble.



Look how dippy the dog looks. Doesn't that look not-gruelingly intense?

Yes, the dog is cute and does brave things. Your kids will see that, but also see green mustard gas roll across the fields and see how everyone puts on their spookiest goddamn gas masks to protect themselves, and watch all the flowers die ominously as the gas rolls through. They'll learn about how the 'flu epidemic of 1918 hit the trenches of soldiers. Obviously a good friend has to die in a war movie, or else your kid won't really get that war is hell.

Midway through I went around and stage-whispered to the various kids, asking if anyone wanted a break from the movie, to step out with me, because I felt so heavily responsible for their poor little traumatized selves. They all declined.

(Because of the scatterings of ages kids in our group of friends, Hawaii is the only 3rd grader.  This means that on those occasions that she's doing things with kids from her class, I barely know any of them.)



After the movie, they all seemed unscathed and very hyper. We went back to the tiny little echo chamber from hell. We had a full hour until parents arrived to pick up their kids. Pro-tip: kids don't eat cake for a full hour. It was so loud that meeker kids asked if they could step out into the hallway, just to escape the cacophany. Hawaii had a ball, at least, and the more boisterous kids were all amped up like a fucking...well, tiny echoey barren room of amped up 8 and 9 year olds.

(I needed maybe an hour afterwards to get my head de-styrofoamed after being in that ruckus. It was exhausting.)

...



(I wish I'd gotten a better photo, but this guy looked like a tiny alligator, almost.)

I got to talk to my Uncle Wicky.  He has started chemo, and his outlook is, honestly, unusual. He kept saying, "If it weren't for the obvious downsides, I would even say I was enjoying this! I'm learning so much!" He calls it his Adventure with Perils. (Granted, he was a bit amped up from the steroids he's on, but still.)

He described all the great things that he wouldn't be experiencing if he weren't going through cancer treatment: what will he look like bald? now he'll know! He was always too vain to shave his head, but still sort of curious. He ate his first bowl of ice cream in 25 years! (He hasn't had a bowl of ice cream since his heart attack in his 40s. Now he can eat as much as he wants!) He's been meditating for years, but his sister-in-law is going to specifically train him in pain-mediation, and he's going to get to try it out on his next bone marrow biopsy. (Biopsy? Needle? Draw? Sample? I don't know.) He's learned so much interesting science, and just wants to keep chatting with the doctors and finding out as much as he can.  It's an Adventure with Perils, after all! He really is enjoying the adventure. With perils.

I told him, "I'm glad you're so upbeat! How about I'll feel the fear and anxiety for both of us?" I am not feeling nearly as upbeat as he is.



(His skin was rough and maybe even scaly, I think, not smooth.)

This philosophy of Uncle Wick's - find the good in the bad, so that you'll have mixed feelings when the bad ends - is something he's already big on. He tells people, "You've got to find something to love about the Wisconsin winters - cross-country skiing, or ice skating, or something - so that you'll feel sad about one thing when winter ends, or else you'll go nuts."  He had completely forgotten about sending my mom one gift a week, when she had chemo, so that she'd have something to be sad about. It shows such excellent persistence of character across the years. (The first week gift I sent him was a flowered mug.)

....



Ace turned five today! For her birthday dinner she chose corn dogs and green beans.

Ace's party was also today. She wanted a party at the local Warehouse of Bouncy Castles. Those are some of the easiest birthday parties. We showed up with juice boxes and cupcakes and sat back with other parents.

About halfway through the party, Ace meandered over, and lolled about, and said, "Is it over yet? Can we go home?" She was fine, but was pretty done with the Jumpy Place and ready to play with some presents.



Literally trying to get us out the door.

When she turned four, she had a terrible time at her own birthday party, and cried a lot because it didn't match her expectations. For months afterwards, she described to us what she had wanted (a ballet party with a PJ Mask cake) and what she'd gotten (a dance party but not ballet, with lots of PJ Mask decorations that she hadn't wanted) and how it made her feel (devastated).  We listened patiently.

This year, she wasn't upset. It seemed to match her expectations just fine. She was just done with it about an hour before all her guests were done with it, and had to bide her time.

...

Me, plaintively, to Ace: What am I going to do about you and Rascal? You guys keep each other up so late into the night, and then you're a wreck in the morning.
Ace, analytically: You're either going to have to give us something to make us fall asleep, or take away something that keeps us awake.
Me, resigned: I suppose you're right.

(not that we've instituted either of her suggestions yet.)

...



These two like to howl like wolves on the edge of this loading dock, every time we pass it.  Weirdos.

...

Rascal, sitting in Jammies lap, looking at the plastic beach ball designed like a globe:
"What's this kinda place? Can you eat here?"
Jammies: That's China. Yes, you can eat there.
Rascal: What's this kinda place? Can you eat here?
Jammies: That's Europe. You can eat there.
Rascal: What's this kinda place? Can you eat here?
Jammies: Yes. You can eat in all of them.
Rascal, gobsmacked squawk: ALL OF THEM?! You can eat in ALL OF THEM?!

All of them!

Speaking of eating in all of them, Pokey is on a quest to like every kind of food. He even ate some potatoes the last time they were part of dinner. I think it's fantastic. I'm sure he's got some hyper-competitive record-setting reason, but I'll take it. It's great.

...

Let's see this guy's cutie little face again!!



Thank you all for saying such nice things.

The next kitten is tomorrow night! I'm tempted to panic - panic and anxiety seems so natural and comforting. If I have lots of anxiety, then I will be prepared to stave off all bad tattoo outcomes. But last time, I worked very hard not to panic, and instead to embrace the chill and give into the process. And I love this little kitten to death. So instead, I'll pretend to believe in a cause-and-effect mechanism between my good faith easy mind embrace and my delightful kitten outcome. I am embracing all the processes. C'mere, universe, I'm open.

For my first session, I endured about 30 minutes and then took two ibuprofen. The ibuprofen took the edge off, but it was still intense. For the second session, I took four ibuprofen, and it was a breeze. I felt no pain. I felt a little like I cheated, honestly. I haven't decided yet if I should change course tomorrow night.


4 kittens

Cinnamon in the chili

Posted on 2018.04.15 at 22:09
This afternoon I'm going to get more work done on my kittens. I'm working much harder to get in the right headspace than last time. Last time, I honestly hadn't expected to actually get tattooed - I've shown up for 3 appointments with past artists, thinking it was the day, only for it to fall through. So on a gut level, it took me by surprise and I was scrambling to adjust.

This time I'm trying to lean in (I'm sorry that whatsherface ruined that phrase but I can't think of another one) and embrace the process. My beloved therapist would have said that the universe is trying to teach me the thing that I'm supposed to learn next, and I would have looked past the dippy language for the wisdom, because she was so smart and wise about such things. (This summer will be the 10th anniversary of her death. I should email her husband and say that I remember her and think of her.)

It's like when you teach a class, especially when you're first starting out: the thing to do is overprepare and overscript, and then when you show up in class, you let go and be flexible, and respond to what happens. The overpreparation helps you make good choices as you roll with it. I sure as hell overprepared and overscripted for this tattoo, so maybe what I'm supposed to do now embrace the process. Let my tattoos have their mistakes and that makes them perfect, some sort of meme-bullshit expressing reverence for wise people from primitive cultures. Fill the cracks of the broken pottery with gold, blah blah blah.

So when I start looking for evidence that the universe is trying get me to be flexible, we come up with this:



That's an old photo of my heart necklace, the necklace I wear most days. Rascal broke the clasp, and I took it to the jewelers, and when I got it back it looked like this:




Ok, it's hard to see, but the heart is gold now.  The jewelers heated up the heart and it turned colors. (First, fuck those jewelers. They've been rude before and I was just trying to patronize local businesses. When I picked up the heart, they were like, "oh, yeah. It changed colors. That's what happens to cheap costume jewelry when you heat it." Me: "WHY DID YOU HEAT IT?!" Them: "We didn't know it'd change colors." So fuck them.)

Anyway, now I have a gold heart. Do I like the gold heart? Do I want to ask them to glaze it silver again? I decided to accept it as a dry run of the tattoo process: embrace the fucking change, you've got a gold heart now, Heebie. You might as well love it.

Coming out of the first inking session I had a choice: was there enough reason to change tattoo artists? I decided no, there is not enough reason to change tattoo artists. So once that decision is cast, I should lean into the process, embrace it however it goes. It's in her hands. I've handed over control, and I'm trying not to scratch wildly at the door because there's no sense in tearing up my metaphorical fingernails.




The tattoo parlor is funny.

...

Pokey: Is salt a spice? Is sugar a spice? If sugar isn't a spice, then it must be a mineral. It's a mineral.

Jammies, to me, later: Here's a tweet - apparently Einstein said that if you can't explain something to a six year old, then you don't understand it. I guess I don't understand anything. I don't understand sugar and salt, for sure.

...



Ace made a one-eyed one-horned flying (blue) purple people eater, which I love.

..

I accidentaly omitted this story from Big Bend:

Jammies was carrying Rascal up on his shoulders during the four mile hike, when I was off separately with Ace.

On the way back, Rascal said that he had to pee. Jammies was scrambling over rocks at the bottom of the ravine, and asked if he could hold it.  There was not really any place to easily take him down off Jammies' shoulders and have him stand. Rascal held it. Jammies suggested that Rascal sing a song.
 Rascal started singing the song from Daniel Tiger: "If you have to go potty, STOP! And go right away!!.."
Jammies yelped wildly, "A different song! A different song!"
But it was too late, and Rascal peed all over Jammies' neck. The end!

...

When I was three, there was a twelve year old across the street named Michael G. One time we were all at our house, in the reading room, and he was lying on the carpet, tickling me. I was sitting on his stomach. I laughed and laughed and managed to eke out, "I have to PEE!" He thought that was funny, and so he tickled me more. So I peed all over him.

I was certainly embarrassed for this story to be family lore, which it became.

...



Gorgeous swiss chard. From the edible landscaping efforts at Heebie U. You're allowed to take a scissors to it and take some home.

...

My beloved uncle Wicky has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The prognosis is not good. It's about 26% five year survival in general, and he's got a subtype associated with unfavorable outcomes.

Honestly it hasn't sunk in quite yet, because he's such a lively vivacious force of nature that it's hard to really understand. I've felt a bit of a punch of the gut and trepidation, but not yet the deep sadness. One thing I've come to understand is how cancer treatment ages you by decades. Best case scenario, the energetic emotional center of the family will age rapidly over the next six months. It's hard to grapple with and easy to shove out of my mind.

This means: my mom and each of her siblings were all diagnosed with cancer - esophageal, multiple myeloma, and acute leukemia - on or before their 70th year. That's...not great. And that's my good side, the side without the BRCA genetic defect. I've had sobering reflections on my own mortality: what's going to come for me in my 60s? Do I have 20 good years left, rather than 40 good years left? I want to help raise my grandkids, but that's not a sure thing.

Back in 2009, when my mom was undergoing chemotherapy, Uncle Wicky sent her one present every week, and wrote, "So you'll have something to feel sad about, when your treatment ends!" So I am sending him one present every week while he's in treatment. As much for me as for him, and the sense that I'm doing something, anything.

...



Fluffykins, looking nonplussed. (Nonplussed being a word I'm now uneasy about using because I don't know which meaning I'm supposed to mean when I use it. The meaning I mean?)

...

I made chili last week, and on a whim I put some cinnamon in it, and sort of dumped more in than I meant to.  I thought it tasted delicious, but it seemed like a stretch for the kids, maybe. At dinner, I asked them if they could identify the mystery flavor. Hawaii screwed up her face and guessed, "Cinnamon?" and I was very impressed.

Also Hawaii:  She is learning Bach's Minuet in G major on the piano. She is working her tail off.  This is the first time she's really been challenged on the piano and it's really amazing to watch how well she handles the challenge.  It's taken her about three weekends to learn it, although we're not quite there yet. We're close.

Also Hawaii: got written up at school.  She was extremely traumatized by the referral process and embarrassment of the whole thing. She slapped one of her good friends at lunch time. It seems like it was out of exuberance and excitement, not anger or violence. Tons of kids saw and tattled on her, and Hawaii, who has been in trouble all week for not keeping her hands to herself, got herself two days of lunchtime detention.

Jammies and I basically did nothing, because the school consequences seemed appropriate and just fine. Consequences outside of the house will always be effective in a way that consequences coming from us aren't.

...



Portrait of me, by Ace.

...

My niece in California is studying for her bat mitzvah. This is vexxing to my mom - she is worried that  my niece will get indoctrinated and start to prosyletize and become extremely religious. No, that's not a grounded fear. I think it's sort of nice, although we are not going to do so for our own kids.

I spoke to my Jersey brother the other day, and he said, "My worst nightmare is that we'll be invited to the bat mitzvah! What would I do?!"
I had no clue what he was worried about. "Schedule surgery for her birthday!" I suggested merrily, "but I have no idea what you're getting at."
He explained: generations of our family, on both sides, worked really hard to extricate themselves from Judaism. Intentionally. Why on earth would they want to undo all that progress?!

I think I might have guffawed out loud at him. We have a pretty easygoing relationship, despite not having much in common. He continued: you want to give your kid every advantage in life. Get them into the best college. Anti-semitism is still a thing, why would you possibly burden your kid with that?

It seems bonkers to me. I don't really want to live in such a ruthlessly one-dimensional calculus optimization problem. Different strokes for different forms of assimilation, I guess.

....



Pokey at baseball! Yes, he's striking there and I could have cropped out the ball to the left but it felt dishonest. But he did get two hits on base that game. This year they're playing coach-pitch.

....

Lately all I want to eat is frozen blueberries in milk. The milk turns all frozen and slushy and it's just delicious.

...

This is the kitten associated with Rascal:



This was the outline after stenciling, last month:



This is what he looks like, today:



It's actually even better than that picture shows - the photo is a bit distorted, and the real one is not distorted at all. It's really wonderful.

Also that photo is taken while I'm lying on my hip, from above, somehow subtracting twenty pounds and fifteen years from my middle. What kind of voodoo is this.

...

Next week is birthday week! Ace will turn five and Hawaii will turn nine. What kind of voodoo is this, too.

4 kittens

Hotel Room Door Propped Ajar

Posted on 2018.04.08 at 21:34
So, how's it going?

I saw one of these on my way to work:



That's not my picture. From here.   It's called a Crested Caracara or a Mexican Eagle. It's a weird looking bird, what with that distinctive toupee and mini-toucan bill.



Via. Apparently they're clumsy flyers but dexterous on their feet.

I drove to Dallas for a conference this weekend. It was unremarkable except that I got myself elected to be the Ceremonial Figurehead of the regional organization of math nerds. I'm told it's not actually too much work. It's one of those things where the first year you're observing, the second year you're in charge, and the third year you're advising.

Watch out, team, prepare yourself for me to revolutionize nothing and stick to basic norms and conventions.




Via. They scavenge alongside vultures, which is was mine was doing when I spied it: eating roadkill.

On the drive up, I chatted on the phone with my mom, and asked her when she started wearing glasses. She said she'd worn them as a child. I never knew that! I thought she started wearing them after she turned 40. She said no, she wore them through college, and then less and less. Now she only uses them for driving at night.

So basically, her vision got better and better, and is almost perfect at age 72. There you have it.



Via. They live in North and South America, but in the US, only in south-central Texas, and a few in Florida that have been cut-off from the rest of the crew for 10,000 years. Aside from the isolated Florida few, they're not rare though.

I visited with some extended family up in Dallas. My aunt told me the following story:

When my cousin was in 7th grade, she would sit and help him with his homework while cooking dinner. It was a disaster.  She is infinitely patient and measured, and he'd get flooded with frustration over his homework, and project an imagined slight, and start screaming at her. It was a disaster, every night.

If I were asked for advice in such a situation, I would say something like this: that my aunt was eternally calm and rational on the content of his homework, but that she needed to stop and be more attuned to his emotions.  That they needed to have an ongoing conversation observing his frustration level, what are the triggers, and so on.  That mastery of academic subjects is only half of what's being taught, and the other curriculum is self-regulation and learning about oneself. It's a very 2018 answer, and not at all how they solved it in 1993.

Instead, in 1993, my uncle suggested this:  that they videotape themselves every afternoon. They worked at a kitchen table, and there was a TV with a VCR set up right there. Then, when the situation deteriorated, they'd pause the camcorder and pop the tape in the VCR, and my cousin could go back and watch the footage himself.

So they tried it. My cousin was convinced that he'd find vindication in the video - a moment where my aunt had been mean or insulting. He'd watch the video a few times and realize that there was no slight. During this time, he'd calm down, and they could resume working.

Basically, they did the domestic version of this:



that is, the Spaceballs scene where they fast-forward through the movie of themselves to find out what's happening now-now.

After a month or so of this, it did actually change their dynamic for the better. My cousin got used to the idea that the scene had usually played out the way my aunt said it did, and stopped taking his anger and frustration out on her. I suppose this is basically CBT.

(To me, I see this as a weird and unsatisfying resolution - no deep character insights were ever understood! No profound moment of self-recognition and insight! But whatever. Lots of paths to truth, etc.)



Via. It acts like a vulture, but is actually most closely related to a falcon.

Anyway, Dallas was fine.  The conference was regular. I got back to my hotel room on Friday night and realized I'd left my hotel door propped physically ajar since that morning. I panicked and rushed inside. My purse was there, my computer was there, and I had a rush of goodwill towards humanity.

We stayed in the fancy Magnolia Hotel, with ceilings like so:



Out one of my hotel windows was this:



Which showed through my window all night long (because I didn't draw my shades) and reminded me abstractly of the movie The Thin Blue Line, which is after all about the Dallas police force.  (Not the Martin Lawrence movie about Love and Hate.)

This was out my other hotel window:



Eyeballs gonna eyeball.

Here's that famous dome thing:



which I'm told is Reunion Tower and is always in the Dallas skyline photos.
...

Pokey's tooth looked like so:



That is one snaggly son of a gun.

Now it looks like so:



Hooray!
...

We went to a later-Seder at our friends' house. This was our kids' first Seder dinner. I was glad for them to experience it without me having to be the impetus. It was lovely.



Via. They have to take a few running steps to get airborne. I'm told.

4 kittens

Maybe everything will get ruined!

Posted on 2018.04.01 at 22:26
Pokey helped Ace practice piano last weekend, and then this weekend again. It's amazing. I personally currently find Ace the most exasperating to practice with. She lolls around languidly, plays a note and sings out the note-name boldly, waits five seconds, and goes onto the next note. I don't think she gives a flying fuck that it's supposed to sound like a coherent song with a melody.  I find myself in a state where I'm both irritated to no end and struggling against falling asleep. It's the worst.

But Pokey and Ace, at the moment, have a camraderie of sorts and he sat with her twice today, to go over her songs. And they sounded like songs.

Also today, Pokey was helping Rascal find his last few Easter eggs, and when it was clear that it needed to wrap up, Pokey discreetly tossed one of his own in Rascal's path for him to find.

Both are such kind, nourishing things to do! He is a very sweet kid.



That right front tooth is dangling by a thread there.

...

Geebie Family Day Weekend  was this weekend. We decided to buy ourselves an extra day by holding it over Easter weekend this year.

GFDW is funny: Jammies and I both swing wildly from proclaiming, "This is the best idea ever," to "This is the worst idea ever," and back again. Mostly we settle on it being the best idea, but punctuated by truly tiresome parts.  I love all the rituals: the interviewing of the kids, napping with Rascal, planting of the cheerios, the party with our friends.



The napping with Rascal.



The planting of the cheerios.

Here was the hot tub on Friday morning:



Here is the hot tub, full of kids:



Here is the final color of the water by the later afternoon:



Really, compare that with the aquamarine of the first photo again:



Gross!

What did we do with our extra day? We drove out to Pedernales State Park and hiked around the falls.



I love this font so much. When I first moved to Heebieville, the Chamber of Commerce had a giant sign proclaiming themselves, in that font, and it is a great regret of mine that I didn't photograph it before they replaced it with a slightly less dated choice.



Pedernales Falls: that entire landscape can turn horrifyingly dangerous under a single surge of water, during flash floods. It can be easily deadly. It doesn't even have to be raining, so long as it's raining somewhere upstream.



I got that photo from here, taken during a 2007 flood.



It was the best of times, and then abruptly became the worst of times when we all got hot, tired, and hungry. We all fell asleep in the car (besides Jammies, driving) and recuperated back into the best of times, with some ice cream sandwiches back at the rental house.

...

I've largely recovered from my panic attack last week over these tattoos. I was tortured by two things:

1. I never emailed the artist the actual files of the cats. She was working from photos she snapped with her ipad - she'd held her ipad over pages in my notebook and casually snapped a photo at our first meeting.

Daddy cat was stenciled on my body, and I studied him and said, "The proportions look off. His legs are a bit too small and short, relative to his head."

She reassured me, "I promise I traced exactly over the original image," and so I let it go.

But driving home, it hit me that she hadn't ever had the original image - just that quick photograph. I felt like I'd swallowed an anvil when I realized that.

2. The artist only has a handheld mirror in her office, and a little face mirror. The studio has a full length mirror, but she was trying to spare me the indignity of having to walk out there semi-naked, and so offered to show me what was going on by showing me photos as we went, together with the small hand mirrors. I didn't push back, because I didn't see any problem with this.

I got home, and looked in a big mirror and realized: I hadn't seen how any of the cats look when my skin stretches as I move. I'd only seen myself holding one single, static pose. That was a nasty shock. One kitten in particular gets a stretched out head when I lift my arm.


So, those were the things. Plus I was desperately hungry but nauseated, and it's pretty physically grueling, and I just felt like everything was terrible. Then I got desperately riddled with anxiety over the shading-and-coloring process



How am I now?  Here are my conclusions:
1. I do not like the adrenaline of the tattoo process. It's too intense and not fun for me. Eyes on the prize, Heebie, but I can't imagine ever doing this again.

2. Within a few days, I got used to the flaws listed above. They don't seem like they'll haunt me and give me big tragic feelings of regret. And then: I started to get delighted when I saw corners of cats peeking out from under my clothes.

3. I went and talked to a local tattoo artist, just to air out some concerns. It was great. He sternly admonished me not to be a perfectionist, because tattoos have mistakes, but also told me that everything looks good so far and on track.

He also gave me the following excellent advice: to set up a consultation with my artist between now and my next session, and spend 20 minutes asking her all of my questions about the shading and coloring process.  He particularly said that for him, he'd want it to be a separate occasion, because when he's got a tattooing session scheduled he's in a different headspace than when he's in consultation mode.

That accords with how everything seemed to go so fast once we were live. Let me be clear: my artist was absolutely solicitous, collaborative, and generous. She's being exactly the way I hoped she'd be. Nothing went wrong, in a factual sense. I just have never had a dry run, and didn't realize fast enough about the computer files and full length mirror.  It's hard to do a big thing just right on your first time through.



Let me be explicit about the good things:

1. She gamely moved three of the cats to different spots after she'd already stenciled them on me. All the positions of the cats are just right. (I might have chosen to keep the stretching-head-kitten in this spot anyway, knowing it stretched -  it just would have been a choice instead of a shock.)

2. She solved the problem of the configuration of the Ace kitten, with a new location altogether that I'd never considered and is so much better than the spot I'd chosen.

3. She got all of the faces just right. That's what I was most nervous about - that the faces would be distorted and creepy, uncanny valley territory. But they're all wonderful and cute.



I'm still very petrified about the shading and coloring! Maybe everything will get ruined! Tomorrow evening I'm driving up to ask her all my questions.



Old stories I've been saving:

1. Hawaii stayed home sick from school. We watched Ella Enchanted. (It's fine. Fine.) When the evil king comes in, Hawaii said, "HEY! That's Cary Elllswuh." She kind of mumbled the last name.

"What'd you say?" I said sharply.
She said, "It's Wesley! From The Princess Bride! He looks different."
I said, "You're right! Same guy! He's about 20 years older here, but yes!" But then I paused and asked, "But what did you say at first?"
Hawaii sheepishly said, "Cary I don't know how to say his last name. Ellswuh."
I said, "Cary Elwes. But how did you know what the actor's name was?"
Hawaii said, confident again, "Oh, I read the credits."

So there you have it! That'll do it. Who knew the kid did that sort of thing and committed it to memory.



2. Hawaii's first piano teacher - the hairy Italian gent - was in town, giving a concert. This was last Sunday. Hawaii and I went to watch. It was Schubert's Winterreise, which doesn't mean anything to me, but Hawaii and I gamely read about the story of  this sad jilted lover who looks at a river, some trees, and so on. Near the end the sadsack ends up in a town, and a juggler-clown type says something ambiguous and sad. It is 24 songs written to go along with 24 poems in German.  Her teacher was accompanying a bass singer on the piano.

Before it started - in a very small venue - a man said, "They will be performing without a intermission. If you need water or to use the bathroom, you should go now. It will take about an hour and fifteen minutes."  I suspected it was a terrible idea for us to come.

It was pretty, but it was relentlessly monotonous, and every little motion echoed and disrupted. Hawaii was doing great, but after about 20 minutes, I handed her a little notepad and pen from my purse and wrote: if you're very quiet, you can draw on this pad. I sort of daydreamed and meditated and we all survived.

After, the teacher was so extremely pleased to see us and greet us, and fawned over Hawaii who reverted back to her shy four-year-old self. He called her the smartest pupil he'd had, which made me puff up proudly. Also the refreshments were all homemade giant cookies and brownies, made presumably by some of the grandmas in the audience.  All in all I was glad we went.

3. Ace, at her piano lesson, told her teacher that the metronome is actually a Time Machine, which delighted the teacher to no end.

4. Here are some shoes that I bought back in 2002 or 2003:



I've worn them a LOT:



BUT! I loved them so much that back in 2003, I bought a duplicate pair, because I'm neurotic about things I love. Not to have a back up, per se. But so that, emotionally, I feel like I can I freely wear the original pair. As in, if I only bought one pair of sandals, I'd never wear them out of a misplaced desire to extend their lifespan and make them last. This way, I can relax and just wear the damn pair of shoes.

Here's the back-ups:



This weekend I threw out the originals and started wearing the back ups. They're much more comfortable than the dead pair.

V. pleased with self, thx!

Then I went on Ebay and found a new pair of back ups. Hooray! Ebay wasn't even alive when I bought this first pair, you know.

5. The kids had an art factory. First, Ace would draw a picture. Then, Hawaii would color it in. Finally, Pokey would build a similar object out of origami.




They were very Paper Chase about it - they each had a station in a different part of the house, and you were supposed to do your job as fast as possible, and run it over to the next person like a frantic courier.  It was great.



6. Over spring break, Jammies left this note for me on Wednesday, the day he and some friends slipped out in the morning dark to go climb Mt. Emory:



Kids meds are in the toothbrush bag. Sunscreen in front of car. Keys in tent. xoxo Jammies

Now this a love note. It was so sweet, I kept it in my pocket all day long.

7. A nice thing about a small town is that your kids get in the paper easily:

This was from last New Year's Eve:



and Pokey is the third kid in a window, in this which is obviously from Mardi Gras:


For the record, Pokey had nothing to do with building the float. Ace's classmate's parents constructed it. They got a big trophy for their effort. 

4 kittens

Epic and disjointed

Posted on 2018.03.25 at 22:53
I just had my first tattoo session. She tattooed me for about 3 hours. All six cats are sketched outlines. I'm not panicking. Yes I am. I'm not sure the artist has the chops to pull this off. I'm focusing on taking deep breaths. What have I done.  No photos for now.

Am I going to throw up? I don't think so. I just need to give this a few days for my intense emotions to settle down.

Usually when I'm panicking extensively, I think of a Plan B which offers comfort until I actually feel better. People get tattoo revisions. I could wait five years and get the problematic parts revised.

It's totally possible that it just needs to be shaded, like the artist claims.

.....

Let's go back to Big Bend.



So dry and hard. So windy. The kids were terrified at night by the wind howling. The wind collapsed our tent a few times before we angled it on a diagonal and added the rain fly for extra support.



So cold on Monday night that I brought Rascal into my sleeping bag, where he peed. Totally my fault for forgetting his nighttime pull-up.

On Monday we walked out to the remnants of the Sam Nail ranch, in a little cradle of land so that it was barely visible from the road. You could see this windmill sticking out:




and I'll be damned if it wasn't still pumping water out.  There was a little official sign warning you not to drink the water being pumped out of the ground, running off to the side in a little trickle.

Here's some remaining walls:



In this link, they look much more like distinct bricks, which is strange. I'm not sure how it eroded so quickly.

A little path to another part:



and the other part, in midst of that path:



Sure am glad for my nice cozy house in the middle of civilization.

Next we followed the Burra Mesa trail, which we thought would be two miles, but was actually four miles.




I walked with Ace.



That photo is from before we fell far behind everyone. There were deep gorges, and we walked along the bottom, sometimes scrambling over boulders. It was neat.

Ace kept a running monologue for three hours and I couldn't write down all the good parts. This was all I could recall later:
- "It's hard to be a boy because you have to decide before you go to the bathroom whether you want to pee or poop. A girl can just sit down and let it come out whatever wants to come out."
- "Sticky pads out!" before a scramble over rocks. "Sticky pads in!" after a scramble over roacks.
- "I'm going to face my fears!" with an extended fist charge towards some boulders.

She also asked me if I fell behind the group when I was in other situations, without her, or if it only happened when we were together. She said that when she walks with Daddy, they don't fall behind. I told her it's because she and I just get to chatting and have such a good time.

She did about 3/4 of a four mile hike - we turned around with a half-mile left till the destination because I was worried about Ace having enough stamina to make it back. But she did great, the whole way.



I was very grateful for these cairns. It's not that the trail was that hidden, but would there be anything worse than to be lost in the desert with your four year old? No. I noted that she was wearing a hot pink jacket, and imagined using it as a flag to hail search helicopters looking for us up above.

[Obviously a serious acknowledgment about the terrors of border crossings is appropriate here.]

Tuesday - we all piled in the RV and drove to the sand dunes.



Pretty.



There's the Rio Grande again, looking calm and refreshing. Very easy to swim across, and people did. There were little stations with hand-made souvenirs along the way, by Mexicans who had come by boat. As long as one sticks by the river, everything is more or less mellow.

(The desert on either side, and the border patrol, is the dangerous part from the point of view of undocumented people at this particular entry point.)(I'm such a poser. Like I have any knowledge on crossing into the United States.)



I didn't go up to the actual sand dunes - Rascal was sleeping, and he and I lounged in the shade of a mesquite tree.



I'm told the sliding was anticlimactic.

Wednesday - Jammies and three others hiked Mt. Emory, the tallest peak in the Chisos mountains. We took the kids to see dinosaur bones.

 

I just could not stop taking photos of Rascal in these pink pajamas.



Just too much fun to watch him go about his day.



I do like dinosaur exhibits.  Pterodactyl:



There's a display set up, facing the open expanse desert, so that you're looking at a spot where they airlifted dinosaur skeletons out.



It used to be ocean, then marsh and then forest.



Just a tryptich of a bunny eating a banana.

The littlest kids rode bikes (with training wheels) for the first time:




The run-up to one of the funniest tantrums I can remember:
Rascal: What has three legs?
Me: A tripod.  [This is a line from a TMBG song.]
Rascal: What has two legs?
Me: A biped. People.
Rascal: What has one leg?
Me: A uniped? A monopod?
Rascal: What has zero legs?
Me: A fish.
Rascal: What else?
Me: A snail.
Rascal: What else?
Me: A snake.
Rascal: What else?
Me: I don't know.
Rascal: What eeeeeeeelse???
Me: That's all.
Rascal: [screaming, deteriorating] Teeelllllll meeee! What else has zero legs! What elllllllllse?!?



(One of Jammies' photos from the way up Mt. Emory. There's still little forest ecosystems leftover in these mountains.)

Rascal, to the tune of Paddycake:
"Bubblegum bubblegum
Baker's man
Make me some bubblegum as fast as you can.
Roll it, make it, bake it
For me, just me."


and on another occasion,
"Bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish,
See you at the rodeo!"


which is a riff on this Northern State song which Jammies probably regrets exposing the children to.



Jammies' view from the top of Mt. Emory.

Our skin was so dry that the inside of the kids' sleeping bags grabbed and stuck to their skin, and they wore socks because it was so awful feeling.



That time Pokey was a Croatian Gangster.

Ace got mad because I threw out her air bag. She had inflated her applesauce bag with air, and I'd mistaken it for trash. "I need it, Mom!" she said, "for when my mouth gets gross!"  I don't know.



Fortunately, there's a lot of applesauce packets. The air bag was resuscitated.



Awww. I made us take a family photo.


There goes that Rio Grande. Boundaries, man.



These are taken on top of that little mountain by our campsite.



Awww. Rascal and Jammies. I'm terrified of heights and having my children on mountains, did you know that?




These little guys started blooming while we were there.



I just really like Car Yoda and Car Vader.



Part of me would never let Rascal wear anything else. It's just so fun to watch him in these.



I took Rascal to find the ampitheatre, where the kids hung out all week.

We passed this off to the side of the road, in the dirt:



"There it is!" Rascal crowed, squatting next to it. "The ant theater!"

Isn't that sweet? So. What were the kids doing at the ampitheater anyway?

All week long, they had an extended all-ages game of City. There was a mayor, town meetings, laws, and if you broke a law, you went to court. If found guilty, you were sentenced to 3 minutes of community service - cleaning the ampitheater - or five minute of jail.

The game went on and on. There was surveillance, community projects, police, and so on. It was organized by the oldest kids, the 7th graders. Completely amazing. At one point a local boy scout troop tried to wreck the game, which angered our group but also rallied the city to war, the details of which I'm a little fuzzy on.

Ace says of this stick:



"It reminds me of flowers."




I dunno, but I kind of like vultures.




They're so big and omnipresent, like deer or our river: nature!




The window at sunset.

I was tired and exhausted and we broke for home on Thursday instead of going to Marfa for two nights. But I was also nostalgic in real time for the time we were having and how lovely and intense and beautiful it all was.



On Thursday morning, when we were packing up, I pulled a muscle deep in my back, on the right side but central, near my shoulder blade.  I was brushing my teeth.

Is that the lamest possible way to pull a muscle? It wasn't just brushing my teeth - I was also wearing a jacket with big pockets full of stuff, which was heavy. Brushing my teeth while wearing a jacket. Pretty much a near-death experience. Not just any jacket, but one with heavy pockets.

This is a photo that Jammies took:



halfway through the Chihuahuan desert, having left Big Bend but with another half-hour until the pitstop of Marathon. That is the kind of thing that gives me anxiety.



Gas station souvenir.

On the plus side: the campfire ring, the RV, the deep social ties, the feeling of being awash with love. 

....

I'm still feeling awful about the these tattoos. How do other people get such terrible tattoos and roll with it? I know I'm a perfectionist about such things. I need a longer view.

....

Before Big Bend:

- I wrapped up class a little early on Friday, and told the students that the homework assignment was very short, that they could finish it before class ended, if they had the patience to delay Spring Break for 10 minutes.

Then I laughed and asked them if any of them knew what the marshmellow test was. They didn't, but I filled them in. Then I gave them the homework assignment and said, "It's not just any assignment. This is your marshmellow test. Can you delay Spring Break for ten minutes???" They all laughed and enjoyed the comparison. Four of them ended up delaying Spring Break for ten minutes to finish the (rather short) assignment.

- Hawaii told me that she has started two recess clubs. Adventure Club is Tuesday/Thursday, and Art Club is on Wednesdays. There is a five kid cap to each club (but we discussed lifting the cap in order to be kind to kids.) She takes supplies in for Art Club on Wednesdays.

.....

After Big Bend:

- Fucking Z, the neighbor kid, knocked on our door.
"Sorry Z, no one's here except me," I told him.
"I think I left something here," he said, and pushed past me. He ran to the back of the house, and I heard him rattling around. Then he hurried back past me and said, over his shoulder, "It wasn't there. It was my jacket. BYE!"  and I got suspicious.
I followed him out and called to him. He stopped and turned around. There was something shoved down his pants.
"What's in your pants?" I asked, feeling like an idiot.
"Nothing," he said, and turned to leave.

That would have been that, except as he was going down the stairs, he decided he was in the clear for some reason, and took the toy out of his pants.  It was this:

[forgot to take a photo and now I'm too lazy. It's an old electronic game shaped like a fishing reel.]

which is an old toy that Jammies' had when I first met him. A bass fishing game, where you pretend to cast and reel it in. In other words, it's the type of thing that we'd let Z play with any old time he wants.

I was super pissed that Z'd made up a cover story, come over and lied to me, jammed the toy down his pants, and tried to steal it. I told him sharply that that was stealing and that it's not okay. He sort of argued that it wasn't stealing and left.

It's funny: before I had kids, I couldn't speak sharply to people when I was mad. I could speak sharply if I was enjoying myself and was relaxed, but not when I needed to.  Isn't that nice? The children have changed me. Now I've had lots and lots of practice being angry, and it's much more natural.

It came up in class, as well. A kid, twice, had tried to scribble down homework answers and turn in his homework late. The second time I saw him scribbling, I instinctively barked, "A! Would you cut that out? You're driving me crazy when you copy the answers down like that."  That is the new, parental Heebie. Way to go, self.

...

Maybe I'll just be the kind of person who says ruefully, "Oh yeah, I've got a tattoo. Not a great one, but at least it's big!" Type of person with a mediocre large tattoo. That could be me. I'd be in good company, at least.

...

This is an epic, disjointed entry. I didn't intend to go into so much detail on our vacation, but I'm feeling dazed. Usually I'd edit and rework it for a while longer, but like I said, feeling a bit unglued tonight. Epic and disjointed maybe is just right.

4 kittens

Be Sure You Are Right, Then Go Ahead.

Posted on 2018.03.18 at 22:22
When I started blogging, I made a rule for myself: if it feels like a slog, don't write it. Never force a topic that feels like a chore. I was worried that if I developed traditions and rituals, I'd feel obligated to maintain them way past their expiration date. That I'd procrastinate on blogging and eventually stop altogether, due to feeling like I had to dig myself out of a hole of backed-up dreary obligations.  If it feels boring, skip it. Who cares. Just keep writing.

Now it's 13 years later. Whoosh, that went fast! I mostly still endorse the dreary-slog-avoidance principal, but less so than I originally did. (Mostly because obviously this has become a mommy-blog with the consequent documenting of the sprogs.)

Documenting vacation is a bit of a slog. One annoying thing is that when I upload a large group of photos, LJ posts them in reverse chronological order.

Well, let's dive in!



Off we go! I took the time to make this first batch in chronological order, at least. Packed to the gills.



We had to unpack the car for the kids to get in and out.



West Texas looking westerly.

Most of what occupied Jammies' attention the whole week is how to better pack the minivan next time. He eyed a lot of contraptions that other families use. Ultimately his heart is set on getting a small flatbed trailer and tricking it out with various built-in drawers and bike racks.



That's a hard-to-discern Davy Crockett in the town square of Ozona.

Davy says:



Davy, my man. I always do.



Be sure you go left at Marathon, desolate scenes free of charge.

Arrive in Big Bend right at sunset.



This little mountain below is about a twenty minute easy hike up, from our campsite:



....

Before I left, I completed a survey sent out to mathematicians. A graduate student is studying how mathematicians think about the validity of proofs and what kinds of errors compromise the validity of a proof.

Here is the Rio Grande:



(That's the view from the mountain from a moment earlier.)

The survey presented me with all these border cases - proofs with mild-to-moderate errors - for me to classify. I think the topic is really interesting, but I loathe this methodology. I can't stand being asked to put things which are gray into black and white categories. When something is continuously transitioning from one state to another, why draw an arbitrary line in the middle? Let border cases be border cases. Just let them be their own combination of qualities, pulled from both sides of the spectrum.

...




There was a short desert hike a few miles from our campsite.



Hard, scrabbly desert. This was Sunday.



Which unexpectedly had a grove of palm trees. Because of the upcoming oasis!



First, some scrabbly walls.



which housed a lot of these little mud bird homes, which the birders amongst us loved. I liked it, too, but without knowing what I was looking at.

Other times, I knew what I was looking at:



Pictographs, eh?



There they are!



More! More!



Ace and I meandered slowly.



This is the destination! That little square full of people is the hot springs. It felt wonderful.  It was a cold, overcast day.  The wind kept whipping sand at us, but the water was divine.

That's Mexico with the golden stalks. It was an easy swim, if you didn't mind the much colder Rio water, and some tourists didn't.

...

So that was Sunday. Am I really going to go day by day like this?  Do I have it in me? Will it bore the pants off you?


....

On Monday we saw the Sam Nail farm. What kind of crazy fuck lives in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert a hundred years ago? I don't really know. But the isolation was impressive.

We took a neat hike which ended up being 4 miles instead of 2. It involved scrambling over big, steep rocks in the bottom of a long gulch. I ambled slowly along with Ace, and we gave up about 3/4 of the way there, and ambled back.

....

The wind was frightfully strong, at times, and scared the kids when we huddled in our tents at night. One night it was freezing cold, and I took Rascal in my sleeping bag to warm us both up, having the two crappiest sleeping bags of the bunch.  He came and cuddled and peed on me at some point in the night, for I'd forgotten to put a nighttime diaper on him.

...

It was mostly cold. It was so dry. The fabric inside the kids' sleeping bags was so felt-like and grabby against dry skin - it was the most awful sensation. It was very hard and tiring, except it was also so wonderful and satisfying, mostly because of our friends.

...

On Tuesday we all piled in our friends' RV and careened up a mountain to hike to some sand dunes. I made a mental note to show Space Balls to the kids. More splashing in the Rio Grande. Again: a gentle river, not very big. Mostly because it's been so used and abused and diverged, for agriculture and dams.

...

This entry is getting away from me. My photos aren't just on my computer - I have to retrieve them from elsewhere. This is that sensation I was discussing in the opening paragraph - the dreary drive to record All Things.

But what about the photos I want to share? Of Pokey looking like a Lithuanian Gangster, of Rascal and Ace for the first time riding bikes, albeit with training wheels? What about the photos I want to remember, of the whole group of nine families in the sunset? The kids' elaborate week-long game of City, with a mayor and a jail and police and laws and courts and community service?

...

What about the stuff that happened before and after the trip? The big kids were featured in an art exhibit at the local rec center. They made masks:



Hawaii's.



Pokey's.

It's already 10 pm. I hate staying up late. (Hawaii has been retching nearly-continuously for the past hour, poor thing.)

It was such a wonderful trip, but mostly because of the social glue welding these beloved families together. Otherwise it was beautiful, hard, dry, and scrabbly. Two weeks is so much blogging to dig myself out of.

I think I owe it to 2005 Heebie, and her pledge of self-preservation-blogging, to stop here. (But I'm sort of planning on cobbling together more short posts tackling the vacation.)


4 kittens

DON'T <-Trash AWAY

Posted on 2018.03.06 at 22:17
Spring is springing, and giving me that vertiginous sensation. I know I say this every year.



I just get this vast isolated sensation with the warming of the weather. It’s not unpleasant, exactly.

The was the most perfect winter we’ve had maybe ever since I’ve been in Texas. I got to wear all my sweaters, and I got to get just a teensy bit sick of cold weather, and I got some brief respite from my anxiety about global warming, and my tendency to interpret every weather event as evidence of our accelerating doom.



Speaking of spring: next Sunday we will be at Big Bend National Park, and without internet access. I will report back in two weeks!

RASCAL GEEBIE

Rascal has abruptly entered the extremely verbal phase, where a kid will just talk and talk and talk at you. Equal parts adorable and fatiguing. No, mostly adorable.



You must read from Right to Left to get this, but it says Rascal.  Spelled M-O-S-I, pronounced Rascal.



This one is right to left, then up. I'm enjoying the fact that Rascal is really into learning how to write his name.

ME GEEBIE

Here’s some cheap shoes that I got at Target:




They’d look better without socks, but they’re cheap shoes that rub your feet, and so I wear them with socks.

Then I saw these shoes on a blog:




$620! I feel pretty good about my life choices. Although I bet you can wear those without socks just fine.

Heebie! Get ahold of yourself. This is barbariously boring.

ACE GEEBIE

Ace is the latest Geebie to laugh and laugh and laugh at this:



Really, they all love it. She just really got it this time around.



This is my book.  Ace

Let's begin!



A kid on a unicorn - nice! She said its name is Uni Unicorn.



Their house! The end! It makes a compelling point.

What's that yellow thing on the back cover?



Some sort of pocket? What's inside?



A CD! Of course, it's a book on CD!

Isn't that wonderful?

...



My Polar Bear was walking on the ice when…she slipped and fell and plopped in a giant pile of snow! Then she got up and started her favorite song. Then she saw something white above the white snowy clouds. Then he hurried and tried to jump up to find it. And then he called his friend the snow owl to help him get up because it was too high. But when he got up there was nothing there! So he decided to rest and take a nap because he was tired of flying with his owl friends. But then the cloud started to shake but his owl friend didn’t see it so he decided to take a nap with jer. But then she woke up and she realized that she was sleeping on another snow owl . Then he started to wobble and wobble and wobble and he turned to the side and flipped off of the back and she fell to the ground!


GRANDPARENTS GEEBIE

My parents took down their beloved wallpaper from their bathroom:




It just became too mildewed. I don’t know how old the wallpaper is, but it’s older than me. I love it so.

My mom enlisted me to help find replacement wallpaper, and so far the best I’ve come up with is this:



Pretty good, in terms of being true to the original. Not quite as charming, or maybe I’m biased.

This is the wallpaper that I want for my own bathroom:




I ordered samples of both.

Also from my mother:



I feel like this represents something essential about my mom - the free envelope that they got from some solicitation - "REV GEORGE WINZENBERG" blacked out - the nine separate stamps in three different denominations, the charity return labels. Not that thriftiness is her defining characteristic, so much as just seeing things practically in a pleasantly goofy way.

HAWAII GEEBIE
.


Were you worried that Hawaii hadn’t remembered to make a monthly goal for February, or that she hadn’t completed it?



Silly. She nailed it.

Today was picture day. (Schools today have SO MANY DIFFERENT PICTURE DAYS.)
Hawaii: Did you guys pick option 4, for the backgrounds?
Me: Yeah, I guess so?
Hawaii: Option 4 was okay.
Me, recalling: [it was a lake and a tree I think? There were no generic backgrounds, just scenery.]
Hawaii: I really liked Option 6.
Me: What was Option 6?
Hawaii: An old barn. That would have gone really well with my cheetah outfit.

I suppose it would have!



Super star of the week!

Our friend texted us the following. "B" is his daughter:

B this morning said, "Yesterday, when I was changing clothes for dance, Hawaii and her friends were playing 'F-word, F-word, B-word' instead of Duck-Duck-Goose, except they were using the real words."

POKEY GEEBIE

Pokey’s school music teacher had them put on a little dance routine for all the parents one night. He wiggled his loose tooth out during it. Gaps of the mouths unite!




On the subject of Jesus,  Pokey asks: "What does Christ mean? a bad situation?"

In some sense, I suppose so.

MULTIPLE GEEBIES

Hawaii likes to recite her Halloween costumes year by year, and we’ve been stuck trying to recall what she was at age two, so finally we looked it up:



ermagheeeerd. So wee. So cute.

...

Another karate tournament:



Pokey fights, Hawaii fights.




Rascal stands around patiently, Ace stands around patiently.




Hawaii wins a first place medal, Pokey wins two second place medals.  He fought in his match, and then was told to stay put and fight again, because they had an odd number of kids in his rink.  Winning two second-place trophies took the sting out of both trophies being the second-place kind.




Hawaii spent hours and hours over the weekend teaching Ace how to read. I don’t think Ace is developmentally there yet, but boy are they logging serious time working on it. There are sight words, and combination sounds, and sample sentences, and rhymes, and slashes through silent letters, and on and on and on. Ace can certainly memorize easy readers, so there’s something to show for all their hard work.

CALCULUS MINUTIA



One of my calculus students handed this to me and said, "My sister wanted me to give this to you."
I said, "Oh! Who's your sister? Did I have her?"
The student said, "She's younger than me. She's twelve."

I turned it over:



To: Dr. Geebie.
From: Your best friend.
DON'T  <-Trash AWAY
With love <3


I laughed and laughed. My student said, "She saw me doing calculus and asked me who my teacher was. She's been asking EVERY DAY if I've given it to you yet."

I love a kid who does a goofball thing for no good reason like this.  Plus, I figured fish-bookmark, fish-toy.  So tomorrow I'm giving this to my student to give to her 12 year old student from me:



It's a little bath toy. I'll be sure to ask my student every day if she's given it to her sister yet.

.....

Another Heebie U Calculus Tournament for high school students is in the books. This one featured more mistakes than I prefer, although not our worst. All the major mistakes were my fault - derivatives covering hyperbolic trig functions, which does not seem to be a topic anyone ever covers. Short answer proofs that I had to grade on the spot, and I didn’t anticipate the pressure of having excitable high school students crowd claustrophobically in on you while you’re reading their sloppy, sloppy work. Mistakes were made.

...

Off to begin copious amounts of packing for Spring Break next week. I'll be back in two weeks!

4 kittens

Delay

Posted on 2018.03.04 at 22:16
Our internet’s been down all evening. I’m posting this from my phone. The real post is written, but I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to try and get it up. Sorry about that! See you tomorrow!

4 kittens

You can't do it manually.

Posted on 2018.02.25 at 21:50
Me: hey, Hawaii-
Ace, indignant: exCUSE me, I'm ACE!
Me: oops! hey, Ace-
Ace, casually: how dare you. [Walks off]

Her toss-off was so spot on. Not actually offended, just having fun flouncing off. (Age 4, folks.)

....

The comment policy on this website:



Seems ambitious. It's probably a good idea for you to start asking people if they're channeling their best self, in general, whenever you have to walk that fine line between jackass and plausible deniability.

Let's see how much use I can get out of this phrase over this next week!  I'll report back.

(It reminds me of the time my friend stopped in a McDonald's with her three year old daughter, B, on a road trip, to use the bathroom. B exclaimed loudly, "WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE MAKING BAD CHOICES WITH THEIR BODIES?)(This was years ago. B is a year older than Hawaii.)

This store name:



I guess they're channeling their best selves here. Relax-n-Howl. I wouldn't know, I've never relaxed. What? I mean, I've never waxed.

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

Jammies had an evening work call. The last ten minutes of it was him patiently saying, "No, you can't just do it manually. It will short out the part," over and over again. Whoever was on the other end was like a dog with a bone: they really just fucking wanted to do it manually, okay? Jammies was epically patient: "No, don't. It won't work. You can't do it manually." What about me, Jammies? Can I do it manually? What about tomorrow? On a boat?  How dare you.

....

Pokey, in the kitchen:



"Is that yogurt? In a tortilla?" I asked.
Yes, it is!  I became concerned when he reached for a second tube of yogurt to pile in there.



I vaguely thought perhaps it would seem like a canoli, and be edible, at least enough to let the experiment move forwards. But Pokey cringed with his mouth full of yogurt-tortilla and I told him he could throw it out.  Experimentation is part of channeling your best self.



En el dia de navidad, yo primero y going o go con mis sisters y mi brother y mi mama y papa a open regales. Despues, yo going a wach cartoons,  y jugar con mi star wars toys that yo got para navidad. Luego, yo going a go para un walk con mi familia a la parque. When we get back, it's time para diner. Para diner we hafe some terkie y corn. Finalmente, mi mama tells me a get ready para bed so yo brush my teeth and then yo go a bed.

I'm fascinated by his blend of Spanish and English. Clearly he's developing his ear, and the pronouns and prepositions roll off pretty easily. The vocabularly is mostly not there, but that seems appropriate for this stage.



These are by Ace. I believe they are Evie and Mal, from Descendants.



Striking resemblance.

...

Hawaii was sick and home for three days.  We started leaving her home alone for short intervals - ten minutes here and there between when one parent leaves and the next gets home, that sort of thing. So far so good.

Hawaii has started reading A Little Princess this week, and Pokey started reading Shel Silverstein. Boy, talk about giving me good feels.  Both so very important to Young Heebie.

I ever so casually mentioned A Little Princess to Hawaii, and left the book out for her to browse. She bit.  Whereas Pokey brought home Falling Up from the school library on his own. That volume came out after I was a bit too old for Silverstein, so I don't actually know the poems there. But he was cracking himself up with them.

....




Fluffy being a flufferson.



Why, it's a perfect heart of hair! I think that means I get a wish.

.....



Rascal, sound asleep one morning, giggling in his sleep. Laughing more and more until he was really cracking himself up. That was about the cutest thing I can imagine



.....

Look who pulled up next to us in Austin:



Yes, a lion head in the passenger seat of that car.  I maintain that, since the dome light was on inside the car, the driver wanted everyone to gawk and snap photos.

....

Twice now I've met with one of the tattoo artists, since the tattoo convention. Recall, her task was basically to find a conherent style to unify the kitties.

Here's what she came up with:

I love it. I think it's true to the originals and preserves what I like about them. I like the charcoal quality to the lines. This is the rough sketch, but it's enough for me to begin to trust that this is working out. Corresponding originals, if you'll recall:



(Claire Turlay Newberry and Ferdinand Oger.)

So we're moving forward.

....

I tried to take Pokey to karate last Tuesday night, (Hawaii, recall, struck with 'flu), and there were three cop cars blocking our driveway:




All three car were running, but the cops were nowhere to be found. I certainly didn't want to go hunt them down if they were in the middle of a dangerous situation. Which doesn't leave you with many options.

Eventually, they came out of a house around the corner and everything seemed calm enough for me to stand awkwardly twenty feet away until one of them asked if I needed help. Then they pulled forward. The end. It was just striking to walk casually out of your house and have your driveway blocked by cops! That's all.

(According to the police blotter the next day, it was a domestic dispute involving a juvenile.) 

4 kittens

Pleased-with-self-level: 10/10

Posted on 2018.02.18 at 22:41
The Things I Did Not Purchase:



$400 worth of arrowheads. I didn't want to lift the frame out of the stack to get a proper photo, because some of the arrowheads had already been displaced from their mounting.



Plastic pig train.

Listen, I didn't even expect a thrift store outing for my birthday. My birthday was already well-celebrated. But it came to pass, anyway. To my delight.



No kind of longhorn has three face tusks.



I adore an antique science set.



Wicker mariachi saxophone player. That tired old trope.



Aren't these plates pretty?



Fleet of plastic deer.



Geebie Family Portrait of that time we were royal swans. (Nice lucite tray, Heebs.)




$40 worth of ravaging lust. So many seagulls!



Roping dummy. It was so small! Are they really practicing roping things the size of chickens? They must be very talented young men and women.



Selfie in gold teapot with white trim.




Burl three-tiered end table.



Cast Iron Mickey Mouse.



Phallic salt and pepper shakers. Japanese, I believe.



Look at the lightbulb in the circle!



I still fancy this candelabra.



I don't fancy this creep at all. The hair and stitching was convincingly antique, although I think the clothes are new-shabby-chic.




Pretty crane tray.



What?  I can't even parse the grammar. TO SERVE YANKEES. It's a cookbook!



Tu serve Ba.



Some one cut out a foot-long Ziggy cartoon and framed it.

No, wait. First, some newspaper editor published a foot-long Ziggy cartoon. Someone allocated a full 8x12" in their Sunday paper for this. Then the second someone laughed so hard at the line, "Boy, could that guy sell vacuum cleaners!!"  that they cut it out and framed it.  That Ziggy, such a dupe.

.....

Hawaii came home for days talking about girl scouts. A lot of the girls in her class are in this one class. I pinged one of the moms.  She said that it's a pretty low-key group - they meet once a month, everyone takes turns hosting, and so on. Right after school on Thursdays.   But then she said that there is a no drop-off policy - something about Girl Scouts liability - so all the parents stay and participate.

We can't even do a drop-off, since we both work out of town on Thursdays. I'd been assuming I'd lean on another parent to pick Hawaii up and take her to meetings on our behalf.  It was kind of a relief - we don't need an extra commitment.

At any rate, I emailed the leader, an acquaintance. She explained that the drop-off policy isn't actually a Girl Scouts formal rule, just her own rule, but yeah. Sorry!

I explained it to Jammies. He was floored. "So wait," he said, "How many kids does she have again? Just the one? And they're not actually hosting these meetings?"  He couldn't get over it.  Jammies wants to join, and then stealthily take it over from her and run it like a boss. Infiltrate and then stage a takeover.

The thing that is getting his goat is the basic philosophy behind her strategy. Jammies offers to take everyone's kids to the school play for them, so that they don't have to do so. (He took them all to see Madagascar on Friday.) Jammies ends up coaching teams where our kids are out with broken arms, so the entire team is composed of other people's kids. He just generally believes in reaching out and taking care of other people's kids, and assuming the universe will provide when you're in need of someone to watch your own kid.

Whereas this woman is the opposite. She's overwhelmed and anxious, and her approach is to be in a defensive crouch, ready to shoot down any hint of a suggestion that she take on additional responsibility. I get it, but boy am I glad Jammies is who he is.

...

I have an orange striped sweater with ornate BR letters in the middle of a shield-thing. I like it because it's my initials (but it's actually just a Banana Republic sweater). Whenever I wear it, I get self-conscious at people staring at the ornate shield on my chest. In between wearing it, I forget that I felt so awkward.

Tuesday was the worst. I could not stop readjusting my fake boobs, every time someone stared at my chest.

When I got home, I discovered that I'd worn my bra inside out. So the flat square side of the fake boobs was facing the viewer, and the round nipple side was rolling around, all squirrelly, against my chest. Everything really was awkward!  It wasn't the sweater's fault! The sweater was partially exonerated. I still like it.


.....

For her birthday, Hawaii has asked for a foaming soap dispenser. She wants to put orange juice inside, and eat/spoon/slurp the foamy mess that comes out.  Dream big, kid!

....

So what DID you get?



I love this mirror so much. I think we should store the kids' kindles in the basket and it can be a charging-station.




No, I love THIS so much. I don't know where this photo was taken. Or who the guy is. If you know this place - or that dude - please speak up.




I absolutely do not want Jammies' affection for the horned horses to turn into an automatic gag gift that clutters our house with shmaltzy crap. But when you find something as authentic and beautiful as this...well. You know what to do.

I bought an unremarkable blue nylon bag, with original paper still inside and covering the zippers, EXCEPT! It's the exact unremarkable bag that I almost bought last summer for $60 or so, just because it would be such a practical summer purse. Pleased-with-self-level: 10/10.

Also some old metal flowered light switch plates, and some place mats with ornate Russian buildings with all those onion dome.

...



There was a crack above our bedroom door.



So I fixed it.



The colors clash with the pink walls. It might drive me really crazy, but I can live with it for a while while I decide. While while.
....

I was the speaker at a Math Circle, for middle school teachers. We played with Parking Sequences, a fun little oddity. The premise is that you have a parking lot with spaces numbered from 1 to n, and then exactly n cars entering, one at a time. Each car has a preferred spot - perhaps in front of their apartment, or whatever. It's fine if several of them prefer the same spot.

Each car operates by the following rule: when it enters the parking lot, it ignores all spaces up to it's preferred spot. Then, if it's preferred spot is taken, the car will park in the next available parking spot.

So you can imagine - sometimes all the cars will find a place to park. Other times, some car will drive out of the other end of the parking lot without parking. That is a failed parking sequence. They have nice features and it's not too onerous to explore basic properties. LMK if you want me to show up with a chalkboard and make you do so.

...



The neighbors have a trampoline.



We pretty much never interact with the parents.



But both sets of kids use each others' toys constantly and without hesitation, so I think it's okay. Their son especially spends hours at our house all the time. Both their kids are very sweet, or at least what I know of them.



(I don't think they were even home at this point.)

4 kittens

An Aechmea Fasciata Variety of Bromeliad

Posted on 2018.02.11 at 21:47
Tomorrow is my dad's 75th birthday. We kind of all forgot. I felt a little bad when my mom reminded me - 75 is a pretty big birthday. I ordered him an oven mitt with the x-ray of a hand printed on it, and a ton of candy bars and cookies. Precisely 74 candy bars and cookies, and then the oven mitt makes 75.

He'll groan when he sees it all, but he's also impossible to shop for. What makes him happy is his daily routine, and what makes him unhappy is deviations from his daily routine. The man is very happy, but wants for nothing. So he's getting a bunch of chocolate and an oven mitt.



The never-ending, ice cream eating illustration,by Hawaii. I believe the cat is eating the original ice cream, and then those are zoom lines to show you that the bowl of ice cream is about to dig in to a smaller bowl, which is about to eat a smaller bowl, and so on in fractal-trippy-sugary-goodness forever.



I needed this gorgeous plant - an aechmea fasciata variety of bromeliad - from HEB.

I had my 40th birthday well-visit to the doctor, possibly my first such thing since childhood. Apparently I don't have 20-20 vision nor perfect cholesterol anymore, both of which are sort of a bummer. According to the eye-chart, I'm more like 20-40 in my right eye, and 20-25 in my left eye. It would be fun to pick out glasses frames, but I don't know about the ongoing hassle of keeping track of your glasses.

In celebration of my birthday, I bought some fancy sunscreen moisturizer and resolved to be more disciplined about wearing sunscreen daily.

.....

It's time for our latest collection of masterpieces. The following gallery is mostly by Ace, fall 2017-winter 2018:



Girl, Purple Hair, in Green; I need to bring this to Ashley.  Made during the artist's Valentine phase, 2018.




The provenance of the signature has been confirmed, although it's believed an ammanuensis contributed to the script.



Untitled: hand and maple leaf. The scale of the maple leaf represents the fleeting size of a four year old's hand. Large and small, autumn and spring, coexist yet never simultaneously.



Bug, a Diagram.  With its Rorschach overtones and saturated jewel tones, Bug is part science, part brooch. The chompers and eyes are oriented at the top, while the feet are noted at the bottom, asking us, "Are we all not oriented face up, at bugbirth? Who amongst us does not put their enameled chompers into the world?"



Clearly an homage to Plato's Cave, Three Dinosaurs takes a prehistoric bent on what shapes we see when we think we see dinosaurs.



Snailman Holding Ice Cream At Night. The chocoloate chips of the ice cream only serve to highlight the lack of stars on this dark, purple night. The Snailman is known to be part cinnamon bun, part yin-yang, all haunting.



Living Victorian Desk with Paramecium Head. At this point, the artist was experimenting with alternative life forms. Like Snailman, Victorian Desk riffs on the everyday, yet asks us, "Are these really legs, that do not bleed?"



Prism Rainbow Girl. Here the artist reveals her familiarity with folk art associated to her demographic. Rainbows, shapes, green dots for knees - these are established tropes that the artist successfully conveys her reinvention thereof.



"There's a sceptor coming out of my nose!"



"Hey, here's the zombie mask Ace was telling you about, if you want a photo of it."



The artist's younger brother, Rascal, delves into art himself, and is really into cars.



The apple, dipped red, with the panopticon photo view of its own construction, attached. While biblical, it is also pre-deluvian in its innocence.

...

"Mom! Mom! Come quick!"



"It's balanced on my head! Take a picture!"

For Valentine's Day, Pokey is supposed to bring in vanilla ice cream. How exactly do you send ice cream in with your kid? Is he going to remember to take it out of his backpack? Or will it slowly soak through and around lunch time, some kid steps in something wet and asks the teacher why it smells so good by the cubbies?

Pokey's friend is assigned to bring Big Red soda for the class. That's pretty much the polar opposite of carob-and-date oatmeal cookies. Big Red is a carbonated tooth-ache. Texans are obsessed with it, and it transcends all racial lines. It's pretty fucking gross, and probably single-handedly responsible for a third of the obesity epidemic in Texas (and I'm not really kidding there) but I'm also not particularly concerned about a Valentines Day party for my kid. They must be making something red, white, and pink. I'm just saying: Big Red makes a statement that we are way out of step with the sugar-scandalized norms of the rest of the country.

...

Hawaii begged us to go buy little plastic bags so that she could make individual goodie bags for everyone in her class, for Valentines:



Each one contains a tiny box of Nerds, a valentine's card, and a bouncy ball. It just never would have occurred to me to make goodie bags, either when I was in 3rd grade or when I am 40 years old. Hawaii really is a sweetheart.

......



I will never tire of the ongoing portrait series, "Four Slack-jawed Kids Immersed in the Television Set." For the record, they were watching Winks this time. Wikipedia tells me:

Winx Club is an Italian animated television series directed, created and produced by Iginio Straffi[2] and his company Rainbow S.r.l. in co-production with Rai Fiction.[3][4]

It aired on Rai 2 in Italy from 28 January 2004, while for the sixth season was moved to Rai Gulp in 2014. The series is the first Italian cartoon to be sold in the United States;[3][5] it was first licensed and dubbed into English by 4Kids Entertainment, and aired on Fox's programming block 4Kids TV (formerly FoxBox) beginning on June 19, 2004.


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