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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.


rebeccastob at 2018-04-23 14:26 (UTC) (Link)
Tattoo! I just got a new tattoo - i also took 4 ibuprofen before but it still hurt a lot (on my side/hip/ribs area. I have so much social anxiety about kids birthday parties. I love that kitten! I've been giving my kids melatonin to help them sleep - seems to work pretty well. Edible eyeshadow???
heebie_geebie at 2018-04-30 04:28 (UTC) (Link)
I use melatonin myself! I love it. I'm hoping when Ace goes to kindergarten and no longer is given a nap, she'll start to crash earlier on week days.

What's your tattoo of?
Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2018-04-23 14:55 (UTC) (Link)


God, I love Ace.

Also, your Uncle Wick sounds very cool. And a much better person than I am. When I got cancer (not nearly as terrible a sort as he has), I was very angry and depressed. Partly that was for financial reasons -- I didn't have health insurance at the time -- but mainly because it seemed so entirely unfair. (Yeah, like life is fair.)

Also! The tattoo is wonderful! I was worried, from what you were saying before, that it wouldn't be wonderful. But it is!

heebie_geebie at 2018-04-30 04:32 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ace!

Uncle Wick really is taking this thing on like no one I've ever heard of. He's not exactly unaware of the high stakes - he's got one of those Caring Bridge journals so he's journaling his various thoughts - but he's pretty up front about not wanting to spend this time preoccupied with death, so he isn't.

The financial burden that you dealt with is a whole 'nother ball of wax, of course. And you were quite a bit younger than he is, I believe.

And, thank you!!!
(Anonymous) at 2018-04-23 18:54 (UTC) (Link)
The kitten looks wonderful! (I wrote this on your last post but forgot to write my name, so I'm saying it again.)

I vote for taking the ibuprofen -- pain makes it harder to deal with anxiety. I hope your next kitten also turns out great! I bet it will.

- jms
heebie_geebie at 2018-04-30 04:33 (UTC) (Link)
Yay, thank you! I read this before the next session - your point about pain connecting with anxiety - and it tipped my hand firmly in the drugs side, and so I thank you for that.
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